Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tips for photographing jewelry

I just saw on Beading Daily that I had missed an online class with Jim Lawson, who is a Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist photographer. Interweave put an attractive video online to give an idea of the course. I nearly regretted not having attended... read on.

Picture taken in the mirror
Being intollerant to light - call it allergy if you wish, I have a light tent which I cannot even use. Being photophobic has led me to live in an appartment on the not sunny side of a building, where I have what Art Academies call "the Glorious Northern Light", and with my white walls, it is not dark... enfin, not in all the rooms. There are many different colours in the light depending on the season, the weather - the sky is sometimes  very blue... the building opposite of mine is terra cotta... (And I must close the curtains when the sun is reflecting in the windows or other metallic parts of that building, or in clouds or in the snow on the roof... *sigh*.)

As a consequence, taking all my pictures in daylight, without spots, is really challenging. I've been told that my pictures are fair and from the person who said that, it was a huge compliment. But as Jim Lawson says, those shadows are not so - so... Ah, those shadows - you can see them on the left of nearly all my pictures... I had a very hard time making a decent picture of the set I am wearing on the picture above-right. I normally enhance my pictures with Paint Shop Pro, but here I did not; I only added my watermark to it, reduced its size, to show it 'as is'. No sunlight that day, so no blue from the sky, no terracotta reflections from the building in front... I used a mirror to bring more light to the piece and I am quite pleased with the result... but I am going to find or make reflecting devices to apply that immediatly to my future photos.

Sixagons Chain
What is so cool with Youtube, is that when one video is finished, they show a mosaic of other, related, videos and so I could see some more... There is the usual commercial stuff "buy Mybrand lamps,  lenses, backgrounds", which can be of interest for the photographer who wants to make the difference and has the budget for it. Which is not my case.
But there are also a few nice guys out there who give really useful tips for 'on-a-dime' photographers like me. The (really) nice guy I wish to applaud here is Michael Seto who has made a series of 22 videos with super interesting tips for light, settings (you know those secrets you would find out only after 10 years trying yourself), tripod - (what would I do without my Tripod!), presentation of the jewelry, etc... Not everything is useful for me, but there are many very intelligent tips and tricks and things I am definitely going to try! Check it out, you won't be disapointed.

I also like the two videos about presentation by Renaissance Marie Austin, who created "Fiber Style TV", showing how to take advantage of simple objects in her surroundings to shoot her jewelry.
Her tips are cool, see Video no. 1 and Video no. 2.

As for the use of Paintshop Pro or Photoshop - in addition to the 'help' menu of those softs, there are many online tutorials, videos, and even forums you will want to visit - some folks are real artists. I prefer beading and use only a few standard settings... 

Just another picture to show you the shadow...............

Thai Silver Tinkle Bell Jewelry Set

Last but not least, here is the website giving a loooooooooot of hints to use with a light tent... I hope I can use my light tent one day.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Making a video... without a camera

I don't know when hubby will modify my website for it to become a nice little shop and not just a portfolio... with buttons to pay with Paypal, etc... but there is a possibility that in the future my  portfolio won't be visible the way it is now. So I've been thinking of a way to showcase my 'old work' (well, not that old, Jalisco Bangle is new), and thought that a YouTube presentation would be quite nice. I started it and didn't finish it. There are so many pictures... too many... I had to find a solution to split the big bunch of images...

Beads by Preciosa Ornela

Preciosa Ornela - manufacturers of tiny little glass marvels - I mean beads of course - organize sweepstakes every month to win a kilo of beads! WOW. The more beads the merrier! Preciosa said that they would totally love to see our videos with our creations made with their little treasures.

Halalee... I needed a good idea to put pictures together, but not all, and sorting them by type of beads used in the work is an excellent common denominator... So here is my first video with images of what I have made over the past years with their lovely beads.

It is not really difficult to put this all together with Windows Live Movie Maker. It takes time to find out how to handle all the settings and adjust time, animations, music... Make static images move. It is so much nicer. What I found most difficult was to find music that wouldn't make people run away after a few seconds...something calm, soft. I browsed the Internet and found... so many tunes!!! It took  a long time making the video, but also a long time listening to music. There are many talented musicians out there who share and offer their work for free.

So here it is - I am pretty happy with the result. And it was nice to look back... Some pieces have won prizes, some are in books, and there are also a few pictures which I have never shown before... I hope you like it too...

For the music in this video, I wish to thank Kevin MacLeod for his 'Enchanted Journey' and to Tom Cusack for his 'Piano Ballad'.

I hope to make more videos in the future, for your inspiration.

Long live YouTube.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Never walk around with a needle...

I lost my beading needle yesterday evening, because for some strange reason I didn't want to put my beadwork down... I held my tiny little beaded square in my left hand and took it with me to the living room where hubby was watching something enjoyable on tv - just to spy it, you know...
I had forgotten that the bobbin with thread was still attached to the beadwork, it came off the table, rolled behind me, I took it off the floor and took that also with me with the intention to put the unrolled thread back on the bobbin...
By the time I arrived in the living room the thread and bobbin got completely intermingled; trying to untangle the threads, my right finger and thumb lost their grip on the needle, the needle fell off the thread without me really paying attention to it (but somewhere in my brain I noticed that it happened there...).
I saw that I had lost the needle, put my beadwork back on my beading desk, watched tv (a really cool Russian film), and then didn't know for sure where to search for the darn thing... all my attempts to find it back were useless... I even took a torch for more light and my magnetic pen went around half the apartment at least 3 times... nothing.
So... I said a prayer, which works generally very well (fortunately, because a needle in a bare foot can be source of paralysis - it is something I am so afraid of!) And I swear: at the very same moment, hubby, laying on the ground to see if it wasn't there (where I looked at least 3 times - under the sofa) 'found' it: it pricked his butt from behind him, as if it had sprung out of the little green fluffy carpet (which I had searched, even with my magnetic pen!) No harm, no scream, just a *I've found your needle, it's HERE* with a lot of sarcasm in this voice... He really seemed to think it was funny. But imagine my embarrassment (that awkward moment, you know?)... I try to not do stupid things like that...  but I am a passionate crazy beader... Hubby laughed when I told him about the prayer (because of the danger for the feet) so he asked: please include my butt in your next prayer.
Prayers sometimes get immediate answers... in unusual ways.

But remember: never walk around with a needle! The time you waste searching for it is time you cannot bead!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Czech Seed Beads vs Japanese Sead Beads

I use both Czech and Japanese seed beads.

I love both.

The first have a round 'wall' and the latter have a less round, flatter wall.

"Your True Colors" pendants
Czech seed beads are very lovely to give an 'organic' look to your jewelry.
I like them for fringing, square stitch, coralling, herringbone, brickstitch, netting and bead embroidery. Also for spiral ropes and Russian Spirals, etc. (there are many different stitches and ropes out there)

Japanese seed beads give more 'tailored' results.
I like them for fringing, square stitch, coralling, herringbone, brickstitch, netting and bead embroidery. Ah yes, also for spiral ropes and Russian Spirals, etc. AND peyote.

Haha. Except for peyote stitch, that is the same, no? Well, yes, indeed!

Japanese 'Seed Beads' should not be confused with the high-precision cylinder beads to which manufacturers have given special names to not mix them up. Those beads, Aiko, Delica, Treasure, Magnifica, etc., are fabulous to make geometric shapes, stiffer shapes... in particular when using peyote stitch... But they are not so fabulous for coralling, netting, ropes, or bead embroidery... And they're not ALL Japanese.

So better not use Czech seed beads for peyote? Well... No. That is not true. It is just about what you want. There are always wonderful exceptions. Look at "Jalisco" bangle, made entirely with Czech seed beads using peyote stitch (Preciosa's red seed beads don't change colors, they're awesome).

Jalisco Bangle

This bangle is featured in Kate McKinnon's fantastic book "Contemporary Geometric Beadwork" with explanations on how to make your own, starting with an easy bellyband technique. You will discover both this bangle, as well as the one I made for the book with cylinder beads.

And you know what? Even printed on paper, the one made with Czech beads seems to be alive (organic)! So... I'd say try peyote with Czech seed beads too, you might be surprised!

Look at the picture above - geometric pendants made with  beautiful opaque seed beads. Circles and squares... There is nothing you can't make with Czech seed beads...

And try other shapes. There now are so many funny newbies! I have seen lovely beaded rings and bracelets made with the two-hole PRECIOSA Twin™ seed beads. I started playing with those lovely beads some time ago too, which resulted in my very own elegant and sleek Twin-Rope. And of course I plan to play some more! The playing-part is very important!


I love all seed beads. Tiny shiny (or matte, tranparent, milky, opal, pearl, metallic, etc...) little glass wonders. There is no remedy to Bead-Fever!

We are the luckiest beaders ever, because nowadays, the wonderful high-tech machines allow the production of many different new shapes, bringing more and more bead fun!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Let's bead, let's change the world, one bead at a time...

Showcase 500 beaded jewelry
What I love most in the 'Beadworld' is the extraordinary solidarity among the beaders. As Ray Hemachandra from Lark Jewelry & Beading wrote in the introduction of his book 'Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry': "They offer constant words of encouragement, support, and love. The development and expansion of the beading community in recent years is a story of empowerment, of friendship, and of family." I am proud to to be a beader, to be part of this great big family... (and also to be in this award-winning book with two of my desigs!!!!).

Today, I came across something really amazing and I would love this information to go round the world as quickly as possible: there are only 8 days left for this charity auction in favor of GOCC, a Polish foundation for saving children and care for the elder. My mouth fell open when I saw this  UNBELIEVABLE soutache necklace made by 50 Polish and a few Italian artists! There are not enough words to tell how beautiful and brilliant this work of art is. The time necessary to make this amazing piece, the making of, the colors, the gemstones, everything about this necklace is astonishing.

Idea and design by Eweliny Rząd, a collaborative soutache necklace by 50 artists.

I think a first lady could wear this. Don't you also think that this would be beautiful on Michelle Obama? Come on friends, tweet, share the news on Facebook.

BVN Tree - at the IUCN
My favorite beading activites are collaborative and it's even better if it can help others. I joyfully participate in  charity beading. It makes me feel good to do something for others! Sometimes I sell a pattern for disaster relief, sometimes I buy a pattern to support other beaders... Did you know that there is a Facebook page called "Beaders Helping Beaders" that was created by our friend Nikia Angel after a first fundrasing call for a fellow-beader in need? I personally initiated the climate-change-awareness action Beaders' Voice for Nature tree, which is now exposed at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I am still so grateful for the many helping hands in this wonderful action. Beading for awareness changes the world one bead at a time, it does. The Bead-It-Forward Project iniated by Jeannette Shanigan for breast cancer awareness is one of the best known, and all the proceedings of the auctions of the beaded quilts have gone to Cancer Research.

Micro-Mosaic Bead
Another very beautiful action by artists Darcy Rosner and Betsy Youngquist is now taking place in the USA - a project to help with Hurricane Sandy relief. Darcy and Betsy are asking bead artists to donate beads for what they call the 'Hurricane Sandy Micro-Mosaic Project'. They need supplies and also - if possible - helping hands. This project is a long-term project. Many things still need to be done. The Etsy-Shop is here. What is really needed is time, hands and material. Contact me or Darcy to learn more.

You can also change the world!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Follow your nose...

I have always followed mine as much as possible and I am happy. Autodidact and proud. Enfin... autodidact... hem hem. Let's say that I follow my nose and synchronicity (or the Universe) makes me encounter important people, books, proverbs, beliefs, beading, meditation, Qi-Gong, etc... along my path. So I must say that other's noses sometimes really matter... Let me explain.

A wonderful beader asked me - and I am very flattered - what I think about classes and how to expand beading knowledge... I thought that I could share my thoughts with you.

Atoll - Jewelry Set
Living in Switzerland, I have never followed a class (nobody teaches here and I couldn't go anyway - it would be too expensive and my  photophobia would be a problem). So, I learned beading by myself, because I wanted to make 'something like that' too (the something like that meant something as beautiful as what I had seen amongst the Bead Dreams entries of 2003... LOL! Nobody has browsed the web more for instructions than me. At the time there were not as many tutorials and free instructions as now and I had not even a one-dollar-budget-for-books, so no choice but find it out by myself. I learned peyote and bezeling cabochons just by looking at photos of jewelry. I learned freeform peyote thanks to Beki Haley's free tutorial, and many other valuable instructions from generous beaders helped me make -when I finally felt confident enough- my own dream necklace, Atoll. A necklace I had designed before having a single bead in my hands. I actually invented my very own bezelling method.

If I could have changed anything, I would have

1) subscribed to a mag immedately, and bought good books to have tips, hints and techniques. Those given by Kate about thread, needles, workspace etc. are priceless - things I would really have loved to know earlier.

Most hints are known and taught by designers after years of practice and struggling before they have that wonderful "Eureka-moment". Some are generous with tips on blogs, etc... However, valuable info is mostly available only from the designers directly, in their books, or classes, or in magazines.

2) Meetings with other beaders!!! That is so nice and boosting! I miss that a lot - and I frankly would feel totally isolated without the Internet. No. In fact, I would not even be a beader without it... Hurray for the world wide web (and Skype)!

So what else than classes could be of help...

Samurai Pod Amulet Bag
IMHO Collaborations are the greatest teachers and highly motivating. I've learned a lot from a round robin organized by my dear friend Darcy Rosner from Sweet Bananaberry: Groups of 4 - each one made an amulet bag, then sent it to the next (for embellishment), who sent it to the 3rd (for fringing), who sent it to the 4th (for a strap), who sent the finised embellished jewelry back to the first in the round, a happy owner of an 8-hands unique piece. It was the greatest experience I've ever had so far and I cherish that amulet bag more than any other beaded jewelry. All the 'in progress' pictures were shared on facebook once the bag was returned to its owner. Lesson at all levels. I loved that.

Talk with others; advice, input and comments from fellow beaders help me grow - I still need to grow a lot. Meet with as many as you wish or can.
Buy patterns - many wonderful beaders sell good patterns, with instructions and tips. These are inexpensive and they will bring you full support if you need it. Again, long live the Internet.

But what about taking a class? It depends on your own wishes.
Question yourself: what does expanding your knowledge really mean? Are there techniques, stitches, materials you wish to discover or are you searching for a new way of approaching your art? Is the only answer a class and you can afford it, then don't hesitate and go for it.

Follow your heart and take risks.  Fearlessly. To get to the "I can"- stage, you need to have the "I want" stage first. If you know what you want, you'll know how to get there.

Follow your own nose!

- Cath

PS: I have a 'new' passion: aromatherapy. When I was young, I wanted to become a nose. A real nose. I have received a book written by a good other 'nose' in aromatherapy and now I am playing with those heavenly scents... Happy dance!