Monday, April 30, 2012

Long Magatamas - Love 'Em or Leave 'Em

Recently a group of brave beaders were challenged by The Beadsmith company to design jewelry pieces with Long Magatama beads (LMAs for short).  These beads are intriguing because of their unique shape and the fact that the hole goes through the bead at a slant.  Isn't the color glorious?  I love the AB finish on these beads!

But intriguing and unique can cause minor hair pulling and a few expletives (only nice mild ones. of course)!  The beads don't always like to play together nicely.  They love to wiggle around and poke their neighbor beads causing all kinds of havoc.  So for some projects they simply won't work.  The challenge was to try to come up with designs in which they would cooperate and not drive me crazy in the process.

In addition to being given the fabulous new colors of LMAs, Lisa Peters Art matched the LMAs up to some of gorgeous stoneware cabs and buttons.   I received a beautiful rose cabochon with gold highlights that Lisa had matched perfectly with the new LMA 301 color. 

I knew I wanted to do bead embroidery with the cab.  I wasn't sure how the LMAs would work but I dove in headfirst anyway. I used tiny size 15 Miyuki gold plated rocailles and size 11 seed beads around the rose.  After adding the ultrasuede backing and sewing the cab to the backing, I added the LMAs to the border beads and it worked!   I wanted to use the rose cab on a cuff, so to complete the piece, I created a netting that I sewed to black leather and glued that to a brass cuff.  Finally I glued a piece of black ultrasuede to the inside of the cuff and sewed the edges of the leather and ultrasuede together.  And here's the result which I call Victorian Rose Cuff.

I had lots of LMA's left over and knew from previous experience that they love Kumihimo so I decided to dust off the marudai and tamas and do some braiding.  I used my trusty beadspinner to string 8 strands of C-Lon cording with beads - 4 strands with size 8 seed beads and 4 strands with long magatamas.  What a timesaver the beadspinner is! 

I wanted to make a 6" length of Kumihimo braid with the seed beads and LMAs and then attach some leafy petal end caps and complete it with some herringbone beadweaving.  The Kumihimo braiding was finished in a couple hours.  The herringbone rope took a bit longer, but I was happy with the results which I call Rainbow Garden.  You can see why the long magatamas love Kumihimo.  They can dance in whatever way they want!

To my delight, I had enough LMA's to make a pair of spiral earrings and used an easy trick to help the long magatamas stay in place.  I'm hoping to complete a tutorial for the earrings soon.  I call them Dragon Wings.

I have another color of LMAs (a pale tangerine) and more of Lisa Peters Art cabs to use, but I'm still working on them so I'll save that for a future post.  In spite of their being so feisty, I love the look of the long magatamas.  Maybe that's why I have almost every color there is in my stash. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Metal Bead Blessings

Yesterday I received the exciting news that The Beadsmith will be placing a full page ad in the award winning German beading magazine Perlen Poesie.  The advertisement (shown below) will be promoting their heavy metal seed beads and they are using my Metal Bead Sampler Bracelet as the picture.

I absolutely love my bracelet.  I wear it all the time.  It seems to go with almost every outfit I have.  I also enjoy making this bracelet.  It works up very quickly and I can easily complete one in a day.  The beads are very uniform in size and shape.  It's almost like they were made for the Right Angle Weave stitch.

Metal seed beads come in size 15 (tiniest), size 11, size 8 and size 6 (largest) and are more expensive than glass seed beads, but the size 6 metal beads are the least expensive of all the available sizes. 

The beads are solid metal.  They start out with a brass base, and then are heavily plated in the various finishes. They all have a seam.  On the smaller beads the seam is barely noticeable.  On the larger beads the seam can be seen and on a very few beads (1 out of approx. 50) the seam may not be closed properly.  These beads should be discarded, but as will all glass beads, this culling process is normal and to be expected.

Almost all metals will tarnish and most plated metals will wear with time.  Oil on our skin, humidity and exposure to the elements, or excessive rubbing will speed up this process.  To slow down or prevent the plated finish from changing color or rubbing off, some suggest using a sealant such as Permalac Sealer, Renaissance Wax, Future Floor Was or another protectant/sealer.  I have not tried any of these sealants yet, so I cannot speak to their effectiveness.

I sell a pattern for this bracelet in both my ArtFire and my Etsy shops.  For the pattern only you need to purchase the size 6 metal beads and Elegant Elements clasp from your local bead store.  Both the metal beads and the clasps are distributed by The Beadsmith.

I also sell a kit in both my Artfire and Etsy shops which includes the pattern and all supplies needed to make the bracelet.

Life is good, and metal beads make it even better.  Have fun with beading and be adventurous with your beads.  You never know what blessings await you.