Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Perfumes and Pomanders

The past months, I have not only beaded and tutified a lot, as you may have understood from my previous post; I have also, somehow,  made an old dream come true.

Precious Pomanders is the easiest design in my series with
dimensional Cellini peyote with flames start
I must have been about 15 when I met with the father of one of my brother's good friends. The man was a nose for the firm Firmenich in Geneva. Ah! creating fragrances - how divine! Of course, I wanted to do that too. My mom seemed not so enthusiastic about it, but during the "professional orientation" meetings which were organized by the Department of Education of the canton, I asked to meet with translators (my other option), and with people working at one of the (still now) major producers of perfumes and fragrances in Geneva, Firmenich or Givaudan.

Together with 2 other students the visit took place at Firmenich. We saw the old labs and facilities (not so attractive, actually), where thousands of graduated phials and other mysterious materials were on display. We also briefly visited the administrative building, where we took a Paternoster, which was an event on its own. This is a Paternoster:

Although it might have been a great way to test people's reactions, or wake them up enough to do a good job (and not blow the lab up with a silly chemical reaction), the dangerous thing has been removed because accidents ought to be avoided everywhere, of course. But I loved it. Being a monkey in Chinese astrology must mean something: as a kid I climbed on every metallic structure when there was one on a play ground and, older, even crawled from one balcony to the other on 3rd floor one day, so this was peanuts.

"Nose" working at an impressive perfume organ
Working in a lab didn't seem very attractive (I don't remember seeing their perfume organs, which was somewhat disappointing), but sitting in a little box as a translator even less, so I already saw myself enter Firmenich for an apprenticeship and was super motivated. Chemistry became my best subject. I loved experimenting and collected miniatures of all perfumes that hit the market.

My first favorite fragrance

Sadly, I did not become a nose, but not because of my nose...
I became an administrative assistant. This was not bad at all, in particular in the pharmaceutical branch and even more the International Union for Conservation of Nature, where infrastructure was/still is very good, but when a book  like "the Perfume" - and later the film- came out, my heart reminded me of my old dream. Fortunately, a visit to the parfumerie and a new flask of Eau de toilette in my bag did somewhat the trick.

Perfume can make you feel better in many ways. It should lift your spirits, makes you feel a stronger, more beautiful you, bring self-confidence. If it doesn't, you haven't chosen the right one. Also, you shouldn't smell much of it yourself. That is the hard thing with a well-chosen perfume: you nearly won't smell it yourself, because it is very much "you". It should feel like an invisible veil magnifying your charms. You won't notice it much, but others sure will. If you smell it yourself, it is either not the right scent, or you put on way too much.

My last bottle of The Beat "died" not long before last Christmas, so I decided to find a new favorite scent, something I had smelled earlier on somebody, "Sì" by Giorgio Armani.

A good perfume should feel like an invisible veil
magnifying your charms, but should not contain
phtalates and other dangerous ingredients.
Fact is: they nearly all do
Delicious, but... perfume can also make people feel really bad. My poor husband had a terrible
 reaction to it and got really sick, and even I felt that something was wrong with it. Browsing the web we discovered that there are many allergic people and that many perfumes are just a big mix of chemical poisons.

Because perfumes always have to be the same, producers rely on chemical essences (artificial scents) to always recreate perfectly the same fragrance. Natural products always differ from one batch to another, due to the weather, soil, temperature and maturity of a plant at harvesting time, etc... I've noticed that essential oils, like eucalyptus, can differ quite a bit depending on the batch, producer, year, geography... Of course, there are chemical products that are harmless, and there are natural products that can provoke skin reactions.

I decided to find out more about perfumes made with essential oils and to go for what I know I can eat. I first searched for matching aromas present in my favorite brands over the past years and wasn't surprised to find several common ingredients, like bergamot, vanilla and mandarin (and always jasmine too, but that is most certainly a culprit for my hubby's allergic reaction, seeing that he can't even bear natural jasmine flowers or alike).

I ordered some oils and extracts - all high quality, organic products, played with them like a real pro - with blotters and all, and...  created a scent that makes me happy. My perfume is a fruity and slightly spicy scent with vanilla, bergamot, rose petals, cardamom and pear, all things that are edible... It smells very good, and it doesn't make my husband sick. Hurray! Also, each time I work with my oils, I feel immediately better, in particular emotionally.

Nicolas Neufchâtel - Portrait of a Woman
holding a Pomander - Detail
Confident that it wouldn't harm the best man in the world, I could finally make what I had planned to make with my dimensional Cellini peyote baubles: Precious Pomanders.

Pomanders are so delightful! Precursors of modern aromatherapy, their name comes from "pomme d'ambre" (Amber apples in French). Very popular during the plague at the end of the Middle Ages, these balls filled with herbs, preserved in a wax-like substance, worn around the neck, wrist, or waist, rapidly became the ultimate accessory jewelry among the wealthy. It can often be seen in portraits, worn by people (men and women) who believed in nearly magic protection. This protection was actually somewhat correct, seeing that many plants have antiseptic properties. Learn more in this interesting article about pomanders, and discover an ancient recipe by Nostradamus, who was primarily a doctor and apothecary, and way ahead of his time in the field of phytotherapy and hygiene, and maybe the reason why Catherine of Medici lived pretty long in those hazardous times.

Pomanders are very practical for people who avoid perfume on their skin, or like to change scent without fear of interactions between two different ones.

A wonderful present: this Orchid Pomander
with May Rose Petals scent is truly heavenly
Glass beads offer enough of a barrier between the oils and the skin, but let the scent emanate well, so a beaded pomander could only be a good idea. All I needed to find was a carrier bead. Not one supporting the bead work to give it a shape, but a bead to carry the oils. I found back colorful felt balls in my drawers, which appear to be perfect for this. Two drops of E.O. per bead are more than enough. I let the beads cure in a glass container, so that the volatile essences went inside the bead. A few days sufficed for the felt beads, which are very porous, but a couple of weeks in the jar would be better for wooden beads.

The fragrance can easily be renewed by adding a drop of oil to the carrier bead through the slits on the side of the pomander. The same scent as the one before should be used.

Tip: you can match the colors of beads with the fragrance - like purple for lavender, red or rose for roses, etc.

I don't know if the oils will affect the coating of the beads in some way. So far everything is fine, but it probably depends a lot on what oils are used. But I can always bead another pomander and change oils. I imagine making them in yellow for lemon, bergamot or vanilla, orange for mandarin, oranges, and cinnamon, maybe a green one with peppermint and eucalyptus,... purple... pink... red... yum. One for every occasion.

Precious Pomander with harmony ball
on long, soft Chirmen cord

In my previous blog post, you may have read that I put a "musical bead" in the fruit punch & gold pomander. It is also called harmony ball or Mexican bola, and is often worn by pregnant women on very long chains or cords so that the ball itself rests on the belly button. It is said that as of 16-20 weeks, the unborn baby will hear the soft chimes sound coming from the harmony ball. The sound is said to soothe the unborn baby and can even have calming benefits for the mother to be. Personally, the sound makes me think of magic and I simply love to play with it. But the baby will remember the sound heard in the safe mother's protecting womb, and that will help him or her soothe when feeling discomfort or stress after birth.

The pomander can also be beautiful bauble for Christmas decorations, or a precious napkin ring if the points are left open. All this is explained in the tutorial.

Thank  you for reading this long post! Please leave a comment below - I love to hear from you.


Dimensional Cellini Peyote with "Flames" start

Five beautiful dimensional Cellini peyote projects using the "flames" start
I just published a bundle of 5 patterns! Squeeee! 5 designs made with dimensional Cellini peyote with a "flames start": the Lotus Banglethe Tulip Tassel, the Parrot earringsthe Precious Pomanders and the Mermaid Tail

Learn more about the Pomanders in this post. 
Tulip Tassels

The projects are for intermediate (Pomanders and Tulip), advanced intermediate (Bangle, Parrot Earrings) to advanced beaders (Mermaid Tail). You need to master peyote stitch, herringbone stitch and at least have zipped a beaded triangle or warped square to create 3-dimensional beadwork. 

You can buy each design separately, but I also offer them as a bundle of 3 and a bundle of 5, both with 33% discount, as well as 2 duos - the Mermaid Tail together with the Tulip Tassel or the Mermaid Tail with Precious Pomanders, because the cord ends compliment the pendants really beautifully.

Parrot Earrings

I created a Dimensional Cellini Peyote category for these designs, and will soon add more - I will be working on the "Waves" start the coming weeks. The Waves start will probably be only one tutorials. I haven't decided yet.

Precious Pomander, Mermaid Tails
and Lotus Bangle
I have never written this many tutorials in so little time. It generally takes more than 2 months to put one together: it starts with an idea, lots of trial and error, more beading to find better/best thread paths and make WIP photos and post-edit these, drawing the illustrations, writing all the instructions, "beauty shots", and putting it all together and then list it all and write some informational blog post and newsletter. Which isn't ready yet. You can subscribe to my newsletter (see the box on the left).

Plus taking some designs further, to inspire you beady friends...

! Very important note !: Those of you who saw my Little Mermaid and Octavio: please read my post about these two designs before purchasing anything.

The tutorials are also listed in my Etsy shop, but only single tutorials - not the combos with the discounts.

Now I am taking a short break to rest a bit and have quality time with hubby and family, and then will work on the next bundle for shapes with "Waves start". 

Thank you all, for reading me, beading with me, and supporting my art

Happy, happy beading!


Meet Octavio - or how to take a design further

or how to take a design further.

Tulip Tassel and Mermaid Tail
When I showed my "Fishtail" cord ends in a group on Facebook, a lovely friend, Susannah Thomson, asked "Mermaid Tail?"... Oh my! that was the name it had to have! So now, the set of beaded beads is called Mermaid Tail. You can make wonderful cord ends, perfect for purses or bags. They complement pendants beautifully (I like them dangling on my back), and can also become earrings, or beaded beads (spacers).
Little Mermaid

Of course, I had to make a Little Mermaid using a bigger beaded bead for the body, and slightly smaller ones for the tail. I used a sweet little "Leilani" doll head that I got from the lovely Siân Nolan from the UK.

The Mermaid Tail instructions do not include how to make the Little Mermaid doll. The tutorial is only for the Mermaid Tail. However, you certainly may try to make your own version, so here are a few hints and tips - play to see where you can take it. This is valid for Octavio too.

Side view of the body and tail
As you can see from the picture left, the forms interlock well (the number of rows, together with information about the bigger bead, is mentioned in the tutorial,). The torso is beaded around 2 mother of pearl round beads added on the inside, between the top points. I used 15/0 and 11/0 to cover them. Then the tail was added, then the head and then the arms. The arms are made of two tiny petals (3/5 and 5/5 - as explained in my "From Petal to Pod" tutorial).
The bottom is left open to put her on a stick for display.
She lives among my plants together with a fairy and her new friend, Octavio.

Three Wing Scarf Ring
'Enhanced' Parrot Earrings
Original Parrot Earrings

I made a beautiful "Three Wing Scarf Ring", one of the upcoming projects with "Waves" start, in yummilicious fruit colors, to match one of my favorites scarves, and of course had to have assorted earrings. The pair on the right is a pair of Parrot earrings, with 3mm Firepolished beads added. Less rows are beaded, because these pretties tend to curl a lot more than made only with seed beads, but are the same length.

After I finished the tut for the Tulip Tassel - a pretty bell-shaped flower that is really lovely as home decor or pendant -, I had to make Octavio. Because even before I finished the first flower, the shape said "Octopus" to me. Yes, really. Like "I am an octopus. Make my arms too!" I promised that I'd make his 8 arms.

Octavio the octopus
Each time I took a break from tutifying, I beaded. And after 8 endless arms, which took at least 8 hours per, and a lot of fiddling to find the best thread path, I am very proud to present you Octavio the Octopus.
Octavio the Octopus
His body is a nearly finished Tulip, his arms are made with Herringbone stitch, for which I used the same beads as the tulip to create the curl (approx. 64-rows). After 40 rows, I made 3 x a slight increase, a 15/0 between the size 15/0 and the 11/0, after 9 rows an 11/0 between them, and after 9 other rows pairs of 15/0 between them. I decreased the other end to make pretty, thin points. For the suckers, I added ivory Miyuki spacer beads in the 2 available sizes and Czech "O" beads (all ~1mm thin!) using size 15/0 seed beads.
Seeing that my thread got caught by them at every stitch, I'd think twice before beading the suckers before attaching the arms to the body.

I added 2 "Chili" beads to form the beak.

After a bit of testing what the best thread path would be, I added the arms to the tulip in one go, by continuing the peyote sequence as much as possible, together with a few ladder stitches to fill gaps. I made a central component (two Preciosa Chili beads wrapped in a 1-by-2-drop peyote band, 16-count to have 8 intersections, filled with 8 size 11/0, onto which I added 8 Diamond Weave units). To connect the arms to these units, I mixed stitches (herringbone & peyote), short for every even numbered arm, and 4&5-drop herringbone stitches for every odd numbered arm. I took out the harmony ball that I had put inside the body when I realized that the beak could hide partially inside. I didn't join the sides of the arms - that would freeze the shape too much. A few more O-beads to fill the remaining spaces and voilà, Octavio was born.

Again: this is not a post to encourage you to buy the Tulip tutorial to make Octavio - rather the contrary. Please don't buy the tutorial for him, it is a tutorial for a pendant, a flower, or whatever you want to make with it.

Octavio is a much more difficult project, and even more difficult to tutify.

.. but I included his color chart & graph in the tut for the obstinate, never give-up beaders among you who surely may try, (and I will love to see your Octavio if you succeed to make one!)

Point of one arm
8 arms done

Connection of the first arm

short herringbone stitch
long herringbone stitch

More O-beads added on the inside

Thank you for reading me


Happy, happy beading!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

International Beading Week 2018: BIP!

The lovely editor of Bead and Jewellery Magazine, Vicky Roberts, asked me to answer a few questions for an interview. The next magazine will have lots and lots of great things to discover, many in relationship with International Beading Week. That made me realize that it is approaching fast. Really fast! If the weather wasn't so lovely, I wouldn't believe that it is nearly June!

It is still very calm in the Facebook group - but I hope that it will soon be lively like last year, if not more!

What about your plans? If you organize something, you can fill out this form to have your event added to the IBW official website (sponsored by the Beadworkers Guild) for others to know. This is valid for everyone - beaders, beadshops, teachers. Let the world know that you're having a special event! Perhaps a beader on holidays in your area will love to meet you!

No plans yet? There are many things you can do. Either attend a meeting, a workshop, or or organize one. Teach to children, do bead bombing, create beaded beads to enter the IBW contest and have them displayed by the organizers during Beading Week... Learn more about all this on the here .

Use the FB group tools to create and promote your own event and find & invite people. By creating an event, you also create a FB page specially dedicated to your event, where you can interact with people, ask and answer questions, etc.
In 2017, Irinel Maria Maranjic from Romania organized
a workshop with young children. They were
all very proud of what they made.

Add friends to the group, to help them and others find people who live nearby. Add photos of the beady creations made. You can create an album. Perhaps you will like to post a video, too.

It doesn't have to be a super fancy meeting. Just a get together with people in your area. Perhaps organize something nice for beginners, because Beading week is about celebrating our Art, but also bringing beading to new people.

Maybe you'll prefer a bead-tea party - perhaps with iced tea if it is too warm in August... Ask the nearby grocery, bakery or tea room to inform the public about your event.

Some peeps like to do a buffet, where everyone brings something to eat. There always is a mountain of remaining food and the extra is taken back home: no cooking after a beautiful day makes it even better. Tip: don't forget the empty lunch boxes ;)

IBW happens the first week of August for a reason: the weather is generally good enough for outdoor beading. Croquet or other outdoor games for the husbands and children who are not interested in beading seems to be a good idea. In France, "Jeu de Boule" is a hit!

IBW is about celebrating and showing our wonderful Art. To people who have never beaded and might want to learn it and incidentally to people who don't understand how much time goes in it. If you can, go out, sit at a table in a park and BIP (bead in public).
3 good reasons:
Beading deserves its stripes. Proudly wear and talk about what you make. 
Beading may not be right for everyone, but it might be for someone. Maybe put a sign: “Free demo” on the table, and have a tiny tin with beads, mat, needle and thread for those who want to try. Hand out a few cards of your preferred bead shop to give to the person who falls in love with it...
Beading helps many people relax, feel good by being creative, cope with chronic illnesses, depression, etc. You might well save someone's sanity or find a new best friend.

In this photo, you can see the malachite
green piece that I made for the
month of May. Only 2 left to make!
Because I am a stuck at home, I will do a bead along on the FB page for those of you who are too (and also for those who aren't - of course everybody can participate!). I will explain to you how to make the pentagon bezels I made over the past months. What it will be when assembled is still a secret, and the final result will be revealed during International Beading Week. I hope that you will like it. Look out for more bead alongs. And visit Kerrie Slade's blog to discover her contest within the framework of this big beading party.

I am looking forward to seeing your photos and videos! I just love to see beady peeps together, smiling and having fun, sharing the love of their Art.

 Until then, bead happy!