Monday, May 25, 2009

Bead Stash Organized!

Earlier this month I ordered a Best Craft Organizer Cabinet for my beads. It came this past Thursday (May 21) and I put it together that evening in about an hour. Assembly was straight forward and I did not need any help. The boxes that the cabinets came in are fairly heavy (almost 30 pounds) and are a little bulky. I actually unpacked them in the front hall and then carried the different parts down. I got the double cabinet, which stands a little less than 4 feet tall.

Starting Saturday morning I began organizing my bead stash. This consisted primarily of pawing through the plastic boxes and pulling out all beads of the same type. I started with the seed beads, organizing from largest to smallest, then the bugle beads and the pressed glass. Once I had the pile of bead bags I sorted them into color groups and then ordered them from lightest to darkest. This ordering was facilitated by the Beadcats numbering system. They have a numbering system that, once you learn it, tells you the type of bead, the color, the glass type (opaque, transparent, etc.) and the finish (iridescent, matte, luster, etc.). The really neat thing about their numbering system is that you can match bead colors and finishes across all of their different bead types. Great when you're doing projects with different kinds of beads. The sorting process was hindered a little by my cat Jasmine, who likes to steal bags of beads (and who can blame her).

I didn't quite manage to fit all of my beads into the cabinet. I still have 9 plastic boxes but that is much better than the 27 boxes that I started with. Seven of those boxes hold loose beads, which I wasn't planning on putting in the cabinet anyway. The other 2 boxes hold my tiny tear drops.

I am still cataloging my stash, another task made easier by the Beadcats stock numbering system, and my Fujitsu Stylistic (you can read my review of my stylistic here). The only challenge I have is that I bought some size 14 beads before they had instituted their system, so I'm going to have to make up my own numbers for those. Fortunately, the system makes that pretty straight forward.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Afghani Nomad Dress - Folkwear Pattern #107

I bought this Folkwear pattern way back when I was in high school - back when they only cost $4.95. I finally got around to making the dress when I was in grad school studying the History of Science at Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. I had just taught myself to knit and had started working at Bead and Button for my sister and was getting all crafty. I bought the fabric at the local JoAnn's with my coupons (poor grad student, remember). The nicest piece of fabric, a yard of gold silk, I saved for the bodice. I was just getting into beading and had recently subscribed to Bead & Button magazine, so when it came time to decorate the bodice I went with beads and shisha mirrors.

I remembered shisha mirrors from my childhood in Pakistan. I was actually planning on doing the shisha embroidery myself, but then I saw iron-on shishas at JoAnn's. I bought several and took them home. I really didn't have a design in mind when I started. I just laid the pattern piece on my ironing board and started playing with the iron-ons until I had something that I liked. Once the iron-on shishas were in place I started laying in a little structure for the beading with some chain stitch embroidery.

I started with the back and began drawing some lines. For some reason I decided on an 8-pointed star motif. I used embroidery to outline the points and extended the lines with both the embroidery and later with the beads. I also filled in the stars themselves with beads. When it came to doing the actual bead embroidery I turned to my first bead book "Those Bad, Bad Beads" by Virginia Blakelock (my sister and co-owner of Beadcats). Being something of a perfectionist I went for backstitching rather than sewing down a strand of beads. A lot slower, yes, but much sturdier. Look again at the back of the bodice. It is heavily beaded. It took me a long time, 200-300 hours. But it was winter break, and I was snowed in. I beaded every day, all day, for a month. I watched the entire Babylon 5 series (again), plus all the movies.

Having spent a lot of time beading straight lines on the back, I wanted a change when I got to the front and wound up just doing free hand spirals, with a few straight lines off the circular and diamond shisha. It was a lot of fun. I also did some bugle bead chevrons around the shisha on the shoulders to sort of make it look like epaulets. The finishing touch on the front was the fringe. I laid down a foundation row of triangle beads with their holes vertical and then started hanging fringe from them, ending each strand of fringe with a twisted bugle. Because beads are not always uniform I did the length of the fringe by eye rather than by counting beads.

I wear the dress at Bead & Button every year. The first year I wore it my sister called me Booth Candy. One year an Afghani came by the booth and complimented me on my work. The Japanese who visit our booth every year now also seem to like it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Step One

Step one is organizing and cleaning up my studio.

I have a cabinet for my bead stash on order that should arrive week after next. That should at least take care of that pile of boxes.

Thanks to LibraryThing my books are getting cataloged.

Now I just have to get my yarn stash under control. Yeah. Right. Dream on.

It's good to have goals.