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Confessions of a Serial Artist

Portrait of Rose Rushbrooke

Writing

It's a Dog's World: Tips For Treating Severe Itching In Dogs

When did it all start? Maybe when I wrote a short play for my school. The actors sat in a row, on a bench, one after the other, itching and twisting. A mangy looking dog wandered around scratching at itself. The fleas moved from the dog, to the first human on the bench, then the next, and on, until all the characters were infested.

The end.

My first memory of writing. Or maybe, my ever arguing mind chose to believe I wrote this little skit for my school play and in reality I plagiarized. I played the part of the dog of course.

I have a flashback of a picture of a poodle for a children’s program on the BBC. Blue Peter had a competition and I must have won something as there was my poodle on the TV. Perhaps my first professional drawing?

Stitching

In the evenings, before my father rang the dinner bell (a bell which came from the camel corps in Africa) my brother and I would disappear into our bedrooms. What my brother did I have no idea, I think he wrote poetry and built forts; I created.

Where did the book come from? Did someone give it to me? A book of soft toy patterns. One of the designs was a duck.

Jemima Puddleduck – Beatrix Potter

Jemima Puddleduck is one of the better known of Beatrix Potter’s children’s book series. If I could add a hat and a scarf to the stuffed felt duck body she would come alive.

The dinner bell rang, … it rang again. Finally the human summons. I had to drag myself away from the tiny stitches. The duck was taking shape. 

A few meals later and there she was. In my eyes she was perfect, and perhaps she really was.. Memory is easily disrupted.

Stitching, sculpture, crafting, engineering. All these things were used in making Jemima.

Laying the foundation, laying the foundation.

There were scraps of stories and small illustrations. Coloured pictures of fairy castles, and a tale about dragons. I was always drawing, writing and making things.

Drawing

Eventually I found an advertisement for a mail order art course and wrote for information. What I hadn’t realised was that a salesman would eventually bang on our front door (brass lion knocker) and try to sell this course to my parents.

The piece I sent was a black and white of encircled rooms in a house. Was it any good? I have no idea but I was maybe 10 years old and had an absolutely comprehensible, perfect little drawing. My parents were somewhat embarrassed at having to send this sweet salesman away.

My next creative recall was attending art classes at the Royal Naval School. We had a very sexy art teacher (at least we all thought so. He was a male and that was all that was necessary!). My 13 year old girlfriend would flash her early breasts at the poor man. He would play Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je t’aime moi non plus” during class. The house he lived in with his family (provided by the school) had a staggering vegetable and fruit garden. I particularly remember the currants of every colour. Perhaps this was where I started my love of edible cottage gardens? One thing I don’t remember was what we actually did in the class! I’m guessing the beleaguered man tried to teach us basic principles.

Turducken

On to a life lived for myself. My first marriage was short and probably not terribly sweet for my husband. I was a rotten wife having done the classic rebound and sunk into the willing arms of the ‘best friend’. He was a chef and I was a trained cordon bleu cook. Yes, we did actually once make a turducken – deboning all the poultry and stuffing it into itself. But I don’t believe I drew or wrote much during these few years. He was a songwriter and musician as well as a chef, and played guitar in local bands. Most of my creativity went into cooking for elaborate dinner parties. 

Moving out of our house with the divorce settlement meant I could buy a little flat – a couple of streets away. We parted amicably although I do believe a heart was broken. Someone else was in my life by this time though my ex and I stayed in touch. He eventually married and continued living in the same house with his second wife.

Once single I got back to drawing. Somehow I managed to involve myself in an abusive relationship – with, for heaven’s sake, a writer. Who, as an aside, is rather well respected with a great many published books under his belt. He is passionate about cricket (the game, not the insect), and to this day travels from the USA to the UK to report on incredibly exciting matches (not) at the Oval.

I drew so I could disappear into another world, away from the horrible dynamic of our everyday battle. Coloured pencil and charcoal was my medium this time. My cats and anything else which took my fancy were sketched. Some of those pieces are still with me.

Life took on an international flavour. Not content with working at Britain’s Treasury, my next job was working for the editor of the Cambridge Evening News. Yet another flat was purchased (yup, I did sell the one in London near my ex husband. I’m a flipping fool). Little artwork was done in this amazing university city but many friends were made.

Not satisfied with prowling around England it was time to widen my horizons and leave home – or rather head out to the wider world. A complete evacuation to the West Indies was in order. Walking past the sofa in my hallway on my way to the airport, I thought – I hope the buyers come and get this because if they don’t they’ll have a hard time finding me!

Labeled Map of Antigua and Barbuda with States, Capital & Cities

My boyfriend du jour and I, plus several suitcases headed out the door aiming for Antigua in the Caribbean. 

Painting – Watercolour

Memory doesn’t serve me well here. Did I paint the hibiscus before the police picked me up as a suspected murder victim, or after? Doesn’t really matter – another story for another day. Whatever the timeline there was definitely an art exhibition and I definitely went to it. As I wandered along the paintings I thought, Hell, I can do this.

So I did.

Outside our tiny studio apartment (by the sea of course) I painted the first hibiscus from a live plant. The next time the Antiguan Art Association had an exhibition my painting was there. For about 5 minutes, and then someone bought it. Pretty darn cool and certainly got my artist chops going. 

Working in a little 2 bedroom Caribbean shack I continued painting in watercolor and created a black and white series of prints. Hibiscus, Antiguan pineapple (sweeter than Hawaiian, though no doubt someone will dispute my claim), trunkfish – don’t ask, very tasty and ancient, and a conch shell (pronounced conk, DO NOT pronounce the ch at the end, you will embarrass yourself).

At the time my artwork was shown in an English Harbour art gallery where I just happened to volunteer my time. The incentive being, selling my own work without the gallery taking a commission.

If you tried that here in America you’ve got the Rule of threes in survival. 3 minutes without air, 3 hours in a harsh environment, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. ie. you would not survive as an artist.

Fortunately the locals and tourists in Antigua made sure my water, environment, and food was paid for. The air was free. In other words, I did very nicely thank you, working from my studio. Erm, room in shack. Moving on from rather insipid watercolours to oils – more experimental than serious. Very cool medium. But not for me.

Painting – Acrylics

Then I tried acrylics, which are a sort of cross between watercolour and oil paints. Again, a very cool medium but not for me.

Painting – Gouache

Eventually I landed on gouache which is an opaque watercolour often used for illustrations as it really is saturated and covers paper well. AND, much more suited to tropical light.

To support myself I took on all sorts of interesting enterprises. People would come to my house and buy paintings before they were finished; wall murals were popular – I painted small Caribbean scenes on hotel room walls, a Mill Reef resident asked me to paint a whole wall with a replication of one of my designs; hand-painted t-shirts; restaurant signs. You name it, I painted it. 

You could support yourself, as a full time artist, on this island. What a shock when my new husband imported me to the USA and I found this was not possible in America.

I reached the age of 40, single and carefree, earning enough as a freelance artist to get by and do some traveling. Time to get serious and get my life in order.

How to catch a husband? Well you write out a list of all the attributes you would like to find in a mate and then go out and get them. You must be specific. I forgot I don’t terribly like bearded men. I should have made it clear in my list. My now husband sports a beard – which is actually rather handsome.

David imported me to the USA where I joined the American Artists Studios in Virginia. Terribly disappointing sales. I was used to having my work fly out of the studio and nuh uh, not here.

What to do? And I needed to make friends. We were living on the side of a hill, in the country, and I didn’t drive. First thing was to pass a driving test – which I did, to the horror of my husband. Second thing was to find a quilting group. Which I did.

Oh, and while I was exploring my new home and surroundings I painted a wall mural in our living room – just for fun. David was often away for long periods of time on business so I could settle in and work on a long project without interruption.

Back to the friend’s side of things. How about the Waterford Quilters Guild which actually met in Waterford, Virginia. (Doesn’t any more but that’s another story). The only reason I needed to pass my driving test was to drive out to quilt meetings. At the time, we lived in a rural part of Virginia so there were 3 cars and a tractor on the road. This I could handle – or rather, drive.

Textiles

Off I went and this sparked off my transition from gouache paints to little pieces of coloured fabric. The ladies at the guild guided my learning. I began with basic techniques and over a period of time began branching out into art quilts. These are non-traditional quilts which lean towards abstract art, personally designed geometric patterns, figurative work, and any other direction artwork can go. 

The Studio Art Quilt Associates was founded five years before I found them. I discovered they were holding a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico so I went. My ideas of what an art quilt could be suddenly blossomed into craziness.

I even dabbled in optical illusions by designing anamorphic quilts.

I made a few pieces in various styles but my real interest was in fractals. A geometric equation which supposedly explains non-linear geometry. Well who cares what it does? If you learn how to use UltraFractal software (which is a skill in itself, believe me), then you can create the most fascinating images. The artistry comes in designing each image – shapes, colours, composition, lines, value. Oh boy, all the good stuff.

And the pay off? I have a completely original fractal design to convert into a textile wall hanging. This is the ‘thing’ I am known for. This is where my finished work became sellable, showable, talk about-able. For many years I showed in galleries, museums, traveling exhibitions, and art centers. Busy, busy, busy. Every piece took many hours to stitch together. And I spent many hours in my basement studio in Virginia with needle in hand, swatches of fabric strewn everywhere, rows of coloured threads. A lot of time and mental energy was spent in that basement studio.

My favourite story is when Craft magazine published a picture of my piece ‘Skating on Thin Ice’ and mixed up the description with someone else’s piece. The someone else was Martha Sielman who went on to become the President of the Studio Art Quilt Associates and a very happy acquaintanceship developed between us. 

I worked with fabrics for more than a decade and then something happened.

Beadwork

At my mother-in-law’s complex there is a room called Pearl’s Closet. In it are things no longer wanted: the owner has died, moved, gotten bored and so this room is used to gather these things for anyone who might fancy them. Basically a thrift store. As my MIL lived about 3 doors down from this room my husband and I would always visit to see if anything interesting turned up.

Blast and damnation. A huge pile of beading magazines leaped out and I scooped them up. At the time we were living in Tampa, Florida and I was able to join a beading group. They did not believe my beginner status. Especially when my first written beadwork pattern was accepted by Bead & Button magazine. 

From there I shifted my beadwork towards the embroidery side of things. Now I create sculptural pieces using both beadwork and bead embroidery.

And of course, there isn’t an event or outing which I can’t accessorize with the perfect piece of jewelry!

What next in my artistic explorations? First stitching, then writing, onto painting, stitching again, now beadwork. Personally, I think I’ll be writing again.

Every single thing I have ever created has been made up of very small pieces. And what is writing but stringing very small characters into words, into stories, into books.

I’m good at that… 


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That Levy Woman – Beadscapes

Earthy Jasper Glass Bead Sculpture by Tina Levy

Okay – so the pandemic is a hayuge blip in the world’s onward trajectory. But, and there is a but, we’ve been forced onto the internet to keep our social options open.

There is a silver lining.

Because we’ve all met new friends – from EVERYWHERE!

Case in point. I send out a monthly newsletter (if you would like to sign on, go to the bottom of this blog and fill in the form). Tina signed up and apparently enjoyed the contents.

She emailed and thus began a connection with another artist a few hundred miles away.

After seeing pictures of some of her work I was absolutely compelled to interact. Tina is experimenting with what she calls ‘beadscapes’. Miniature dioramas with rocks, and valleys, and lumps and bumps. Just like a natural landscape.

Shall I offend you all by saying – many people have little or no artistic talent? There are arguments for and against. Some say we are all natural artists until we become self aware. Some say anyone can be an artist. Some say – do something creative to express yourself. It’s all just W.U.N.D.E.R..F.U.L. and airy fairy. And many people say – I can’t draw a straight line (spoiler alert, neither can self proclaimed artists).

Tina Levy is on a journey to show us what she sees. And what she sees is beautiful. She is an artist.

I realise what I am about to write will etch itself indelibly into your mind, but this piece below makes me think of a foot. With many toes …

Utah Jasper Agate and Glass - embellishment by Tina Levy
Utah Jasper Agate and Glass – embellishment by Tina Levy

Whereas this one makes me think of being Lilliputian and standing amongst fantastic, huge rocks. Look at that gorgeous, warm jasper.

Earthy Jasper Beaded Landscape by Tina Levy
Earthy Jasper Beaded Landscape by Tina Levy

Nice mix of techniques here. Bead weaving and embroidery.

Tina has many skills, including wire wrapping (which I am so crap at you would be embarrassed).

This is a pendant she made with leopard skin jasper wire wrapped in copper.

Leopard skin jasper wire wrapped with copper by Tina Levy
Leopard skin jasper wire wrapped with copper by Tina Levy

Even though Tina lives in Arizona and I am here in the Pacific Northwest, I love the fact that we can talk to each other. Conversations with other artists are always inspiring and I have absolutely no compunction in saying we plagiarize like crazy. Seeing a piece of artwork through the artist’s eyes is eye opening (no pun intended, it just happened) !

BTW, did I mention Tina lives in Arizona. And did I mention she lives in Tucson? Guess where the biggest annual gem and mineral show takes place each year in February (well, except for the you-know-what-C-years). Better be nice to Tina!

Go see some more of her work here – Tina’s Sedona.

Tina Levy at the Feminine Mystique Art Gallery, Tubac, Arizona
Tina Levy at the Feminine Mystique Art Gallery, Tubac, Arizona

And if you happen to be in Tubac, Arizona, you can pop into the Feminine Mystique Art Gallery and pick up a pair of Tina’s earrings.

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Joyce Carrier – Artist

Fifteen by Joyce Carrier

Long, long time ago/I can still remember …

Erm – from American Pie, a song by Don McLean. If you remember when it came out then you are as old as I am.

Point being – I knew Joyce, a long, long time ago. Back when I lived in Virginia and I was a newly imported Brit to the Land of the Free etc. Did not know a soul, except my husband and a couple of his work colleagues.

What to do? I had heard about quilt guilds, where crazy folks stitched little bits of fabric together. Perhaps I should check ’em out and make some friends?

I did.

And spent the next 10 years making some interesting quilts (which were looked upon with suspicion by the traditional quilters), and making some interesting friends. Joyce being one of them.

When I first met her she was looking for a path forward. Her children were growing up and away, her husband had a demanding job, and she has a creative spirit. Which eventually translated itself into these surrealistic artworks. I am so proud of her. She went from unsure novice, to an Associates Degree at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, to a person who teaches at some of the top venues in America, shows and wins at some of the top exhibitions, and now has a serious solo show at the McLean Textile Gallery in Virginia. (Oh, I am so besotted with my clever song writer and gallery connection). And I am besotted with Joyce’s steadiness and growth.

Joyce Carrier - exhibition invitation

Much of her work revolves around her family and surroundings. She takes many photos and often works in series. The rainbow lorikeet Fifteen above was based on a photo taken at the Nashville Zoo.

And there’s more:

Singing Vole by Joyce Carrier
Singing Vole by Joyce Carrier

November 2014
This piece was created for the Inspired by the National Parks collection. Joyce chose to represent Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska.
There really is a little creature called a singing vole.

Simon Cow by Joyce Carrier
Simon Cow by Joyce Carrier

April 2019
Simon Cow was created from a photo of a cow in the field behind Joyce’s home.

Sheep by Joyce Carrier
Sheep by Joyce Carrier

Just a fun piece….a play on words, Joyce was supposed to do a small piece about the weather. She did this…..

(Note from Ed: personally I am stunned by this piece. It’s up there with “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”.)

HeLa Cells by Joyce Carrier

November 2016
This piece was created for the Herstory collection honoring women who have made a significant contribution to the world. This one is to honor Henrietta Lacks who unknowingly supplied replicating cancer cells which became a line of cells that have been used in laboratories all over the world and has allowed many medical breakthroughs. The image of her cells is in the public domain….so this is a fairly accurate interpretation of HeLa Cells.

Eleanor and Bramble by Joyce Carrier
Eleanor and Bramble by Joyce Carrier

The little girl is Joyce’s daughter’s niece by marriage.

Dunn by Joyce Carrier
Dunn by Joyce Carrier

July 2016
This piece was created from a photo Joyce took of one of the lions at the National Zoo in Washington DC. She used only Cherrywood Fabrics to create this piece for the Lion King collection, which traveled the US for two years to various quilt shows and other venues.

Blue Suede Shoes by Joyce Carrier
Blue Suede Shoes by Joyce Carrier

2016
This was created for the Inspired By Elvis collection and is still out traveling to quilts shows and other venues.
She hypothesized….“well, who COULD step on his blue suede shoes?”

To see Joyce’s artist talk go here.

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Maxi Starr – Bead Embroidery

Black bead embroidered brooch by Maxi Starr

Maxi is a friend. She is a very tiny, funny, older friend. She doesn’t like being old and will tell you so. She has a tiny dog named Henry, who I covet. Henry is an Havanese and only wants to be loved and give love. (And to know there is a constant stream of snackity type things available on tap – not).

Maxi is an extremely accomplished bead embroiderer (along with many other skills).

In my July 2021 newsletter I wrote about black and white being non-colours. This sparked a certain amount of debate from readers who remarked they liked black and white quite a bit, thank you very much.

As I explain later. It’s not that I don’t like them, they are not natural. Black is the absence of light, and white is all light. They are not colours. My artwork doesn’t involve the use of black or white. Nor do I tend to wear them in clothing, jewelry or even shoes. (Though I have painted all the walls in our house white).

Maxi sent me an email with the subject “Black is Good”, and included an image of a gorgeous brooch she made to clasp a cape (see above). So pretty. After some more to-ing and fro-ing she sent me pictures of a couple of collars.

Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar on model, by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr (commemorative bead from Bead and Button show)

Aren’t they lovely?!

As I become older myself (my girlfriends say I’m there already) – I no longer worry about having an opinion. In fact, having an opinion is fun. People react either for or against. Whatever they do, it’s a learning experience as they challenge your beliefs. I might not ever wear black or white for the rest of my life but goodness – I’ll continue to talk about it if it leads other artists to dig into their creations and tell me what’s what.

Thank you Maxi for showing me what black can do for you …

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Covid 19 – White Rose

Covid 19 - White Rose. Bead Embroidered using a variety of glass beads, crystals, pearls, and cabochons. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Covid 19 – White Rose by Rose Rushbrooke 2021

For more images of this piece and information on how it was made go here.

Back in February 2020 both my husband and I went down with a mysterious bug. I was lucky and was flat out on the couch for several hours. My husband was not, and to this day continues to feel utterly miserable, and very tired on a rolling basis. The main problem for him is the famous ‘covid fatigue’.

This is no strange story. Pretty nearly everyone I know has been affected negatively by this virus.

The hardest part for me wasn’t being sick – a day’s worth of crap is easily gotten over. No, my horror story was how the virus destroyed my world as I knew it. Once my mother told me flat out – ‘you won’t be coming over to the UK for a while, possibly a long time’ the penny dropped.

As far as I was concerned my working life was over. My connection to the universe was severed. My creativity was stymied. My soul was crushed.

I threw everything I was working on into boxes, cupboards, drawers, and shelving. All my studio tables were cleared of any sign of works in progress.

I could hardly breathe.

Who am I now, where do I go, how do I find the motivation to put thread to needle? HOW DO I LIVE?

At the same time as we were being overwhelmed with news stories about the virus our little online thread business burst into astonishing activity. My husband, in one of his ha-ha moments, used the cha-ching sound on his phone for orders when they came in. That ruddy phone cha-chinged every time I turned around.

I was so overdone with the constant noise I begged him to turn it off.

That March we sent out thousands and thousands of dollars-worth of thread. Folks were obviously making facemasks by hand and buying thread to do so. We had no checklists in place, no automated software to help with inventory, not enough business cards printed.

We were just. not. prepared.

I went into a deep, deep depression and couldn’t see any way out. I was being ruled by a cha-ching sound, my days were spent reeling from one order to the next, and trying to find time in between to eat, sleep, and take the dog for a walk. My husband was out every night driving the buses and dealing with the endless parade of walking dead as his customers. And I couldn’t leave the country.

It was a ghastly time.

There were trays of started seeds warming on my kitchen window, ready to be transplanted when they got a little bigger. I had plans for tomato cages, bean teepees, rambling winter squashes, potatoes warm from the summer sun. Oh yes, my garden was going to be tremendous in 2020.

Not.

The seedlings were put outside and subsequently died. Later in the year I walked all the way to the garden shop and brought back 3 tomato plants and 3 pepper plants. None of them did very well. Particularly when they were hit with 10 solid days of wildfire smoke in the summer.

The strawberries ran riot only to be eaten by marauding squirrels while I watched, numb. The rhubarb grew unattended, I picked 10 runner beans after half-heartedly planting some seeds very late. All in all the garden in 2020 was a washout. I didn’t have the heart, or the time.

During late summer I walked through the back garden and brushed by my white rose bush. There were several blooms in the process of dying on the branch. My deadheading had been lackadaisical to say the least.

This shabby rose with it’s curled and browning petals represented my soul. The flower would die, only to give back life to future blooms. I would shake off my grief, brush off the depression, drop the sadness, and feed my future self with new growth.

My heart went into this beaded rose. It was joined by a ladybug, a spider, and a caterpillar. Each of whom have positive symbolic meanings (click the links for each creature to read more on their symbolism).

From the most crushing, soul destroying, appalling event came one of my most meaningful, and heartfelt creations.

I cannot say I am grateful for what has happened to us on this Earth in the last year. I am dreadfully saddened by the deaths during this historic dark period, and the horrific situations many people have endured, are still enduring, and will continue to endure for a long time. I can say I am grateful for what it has done for our ability to survive, grow, and I believe eventually, thrive like the caterpillar, in a brand new butterfly coat.

This year, I look forward to a bountiful garden, many more pieces of artwork, and a new virtual way to connect with my friends and family. What would we be without Zoom!

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Separated by a Common Language

Bead Embroidered Circle Earrings. Candy 2-hole beads, seed beads, 3-cut beads, gold chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

While chatting to my little Thursday evening beading group, one of my Zoomer buddies pointed out she had been hiccupped by a mis-spelling in the pattern we were working on.

As a sideline I am pretending to be someone I am not yet i.e.. a bead pattern writer and teacher. (Got the gear, now got to get the mental goods to proceed in a forward direction …). And this means testing my written patterns with serious bead fairies. And as another aside – I have enough trouble getting the point across to my own American husband of over 25 years, imagine multiplying this disconnect 6 fold or more…? Writing beading instructions, or any instructions for that matter, takes guts.

Back to the discussion at hand: my bead fairy had hardly read through a sentence of the instructions before she hit upon the ‘spelling’ mistake which made her lose the thread.

I had written ‘specialised’ applique scissors under the Tools section.

Do you see the problem? I write in English. Not American. She got caught with the ‘S’ in specialised. The USA uses ‘Z’ in place of “S” and so it looks odd to the American eye. What is even more interesting is this lady is born Canadian. I suspect she is therefore sensitised (see the naughty ‘s’ in there?) to abnormalities in her adopted country. Just like I am. However, she brought up an excellent point.

The following observation is reputed to have been attributed to George Bernard Shaw (although nowhere in his writings has it been found) :-

“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

Not only do the two countries use many different spellings such as dropping the ‘U’ in colour, or flipping the ‘ER’ around as in ‘center‘, ‘ or ‘theater‘, but there are many, many idiosyncratic words and sayings which apply only to one country.

All the above to bring up the question – In what language should I write my bead patterns?

Much personal internal debate went on, along the lines of – But I’m primarily British so why shouldn’t I write in my own language? Or – yes, but you live in America (and have American citizenship) and you know how irritated you get if someone who does not use English/American as their first language won’t adapt to their adopted country. And what about – But then why do we, as Americans, bend over backwards to accommodate Spanish speaking, Korean speaking, Chinese speaking, every other kind of speaking population but dis the Brit?

I am inclined towards the following quote which lines up with my final decision:

“It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving himself airs.”

Bertrand Russell writing for The Saturday Evening Post

English is a different language. I am English, not Scottish, not Irish, not Welsh, not Cornish. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is just like the United States of America in that we are a disparate collection of states/kingdoms under one rule.

I am constantly aware my elocution and pronunciation, along with the particular phrases I grew up with, are an interest for those who meet me. It can get old when yet another checkout person asks me “Where are you from?” (they mix me up with Australian, New Zealanders, and South Africans). Or I get told they ‘lurve yer axet”. My response is usually – learned it from birth, would you like me to teach you?

These UK spellings, sayings etc. are intrinsic to my personality. They are part of me. And so I say:

ENJOY THE DIVERGENCE. ENJOY THE CHARACTER BEHIND THE WORDS. ENJOY THE HICCUP MOMENTS.

They give you a look into a different world and viewpoint. And into an original creator who enjoys offering you something slightly different. Not all bead patterns are made the same!

I am not giving myself airs – whatever you might think. I just speak English.

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Don’t Be Frightened of Fuchsia

Embroidered Beaded Heart Earrings - candy rose Czech glass beads, seed beads, and silver chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Ever noticed strange things going on when you work with pink beads? All sorts of pink beads. Dyed Fuchsia, Matte Magenta, Opaque Pink, Galvanized Rose etc.

Fire Mountain Gems has a useful chart of seed bead finishes and treatment durability. If you are completely dedicated to making jewelry for the ages and intend selling it to other folks then maybe avoid some of the less durable finishes.

But if you are making something yummy for yourself then it’s a shame to miss out on such gorgeous bright Purples, Pinks and Fuchsias. They are such happy colours.

I look at it the same way I look at handmade quilts. Dyed and printed fabric has the same issues – fading of certain colours. As the years of loving the quilt/bracelet go by you see the shifting, gentling shades. The artwork changes over the years and you can watch it and marvel at the new looks and how the colours work together.

There are quite a few of these fugitive colours in my stash. Some of them I use for my freeform sculptures. They get less handling and are usually not standing under UV rays which cause fading. But I wanted to use them in my jewelry.

I like bright coloured pretties. Must be something to do with getting older. When I was a young woman I might have been an artist but I hadn’t a clue how to dress myself. So I always resorted to beigey-type outfits knowing at least I didn’t look totally stupid. Until … a girlfriend remarked: “you are easy to find in a crowd, you are the one in beige”.

Erm…, not how I wanted to be remembered. (Not sure how I want to be remembered but definitely not BEIGE!).

Now those bright, bright pinks and blues call to me.

Yes, some of the finishes do chip but underneath the galvanised surface is a SILVER bead. Yes, silver. Or metallic anyway. And that’s pretty too. Not only do you have a fuchsia pink pair of earrings but there’s a silver sparkle in there, and a lovely pale pink from the dyed surfaces gentling into the night.

Now doesn’t that make you happy? Worth spending a little time on making something which gives a lift to the heart.

And is a fantastic way to use up those galvanised pinks, over dyed purples, and metal lined blues.

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Here We Go Again

A new decade, a new website.

From learning how to code a simple html website to uploading an e-Commerce WordPress site took 21 years and it has been an interesting ride. Like everyone else’s life, things happen, things change, things move on.

My interests have morphed from painting pictures in gouache, to stitching tiny pieces of fabric together, to weaving miniscule glass beads into sculpture and jewelry. Which is why my original blog is no more (actually, I accidentally deleted it while putting up this website so let’s not get too airy fairy). But… I did write a lot about quilts and now I want to write a lot about beads – so there, take that and like it!

I am working on retrieving some of the more interesting posts from 2012 onwards so they will slowly be added. Serves me right for being so eager beaver!

Till we meet again, I’m off to walk a poodle.

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Bead Storage

Beaders spend a great deal of time trying to organise and store their beads. Various companies have produced every kind of box, container, tray etc. Some of which I do use. However, I find the simplest solution is to put similar coloured and sized seed beads in the pockets of a see through over-the-door shoe rack. This way I can see what shades I am missing – ie. at the moment there’s a gap in neutral colours. I think when I go to bead trade shows or shops I get drawn into the ‘gimmee, gimmee bright colours’ and forget they really shine against a neutral.

On one side of the door I keep the size 11/0, 8/0 and 6/0 seed beads. On the other I put the size 15/0 which I often use and have many more than the larger sizes.Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beadsClear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

I’m not kidding – this system really works for me. I can stand in front of the rack and easily pick out the colours for a project. AND, I can make a note of missing colours. Aha – another good excuse to buy more beads!

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Free Christmas Beading patterns

All Lit Up Earrings inspiration project by Fusion Beads

All Lit Up earrings from Fusion Beads. Very cute – done in fringe stitch, and pretty darn quickly too. I don’t care if it is Christmas or not – you can’t start too early with your holiday outfits and jewelry! Sadly this pattern is no longer available but you could work out how to make these pretty easily.

Candy Cane Boulevard bracelet by Fusion Beads.
Candy Cane Boulevard bracelet by Fusion Beads

And to match you could make this darling Candy Cane boulevard bracelet.

There are hundreds of free retired projects available at Fusion Beads. They are retired because Fusion no longer carries some of the supplies but they still want you to have a go. Click on the Free Instructions with Supply list line to the right of the image and you can download the free pdf.

Holly Wreath bracelet Inspiration Project from Fusion Beads.
Holly Wreath bracelet Inspiration Project from Fusion Beads

The Holly Wreath bracelet above is not retired as you can purchase the supplies. However, the pattern is still free. This elegant bracelet will probably take you from now until next Christmas to make but once done you’ll have it forever.

Beaded Christmas ornament by Sayila. Free beading pattern.
Beaded Christmas ornament by Sayila

I know it doesn’t look like it but I originally wrote this back in December 2013. This year (January 2020) I accidentally deleted my blog and am picking up the best of the posts and re-writing them. This pretty Christmas ornament pattern was available when I originally wrote the post but has since been removed. Fortunately for us all I managed to keep the images and the tutorial so you get to make this bauble after all. You can thank Sayila for the pattern.

Sayila Mini Project Decorated Christmas ornament
Sayila Mini Project Decorated Christmas ornament