Bead Pattern Obsession

     I had been searching for a way to combine my love of gaming with my love of jewelry making ever since I bought my first earring kit and 3-in-1 tool. But I wasn’t going to get anywhere close to having that dream come true until I buckled down and learned to work a beading needle. Learning the square stitch brought me nose to nose with it. However, I would still need to wrap my head around beading patterns. A bit of practice was in order.

     For my first attempt I used a pattern of a 1UP mushroom from the Mario games I saw on the Internet. I decided to try it out using the brick stitch method of off-loom bead weaving which was a complete fail. The result was almost unforgivably crooked and uneven and no one that I showed it to could even begin to guess at just what my creation was. It was a lesson learned: brick stitch + perler pattern = NO! Don’t do that!

     So I tried that same pattern again, but this time would use a totally different method: the square stitch. The result was MUCH better and instantly recognizable to everybody I showed it off to. This new and improved version was not without it flaws though. There were one or two cracked beads and a few more that were out of place. But I didn’t really care about that because I had just learned something pretty cool: that I can take any perler pattern that I want and, well, bead it. And that’s when the Great Pattern Hunt began.

     It turns out that the Internet is positively crawling with all sorts of beading patterns. They’re everywhere! Also turns out that those perler ones are the most prevalent. You can find patterns for just about anything you can think of. So what did I think of? Why anime and video games, of course! Sailor Moon, DBZ (Dragonball Z), Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Binding of Isaac, and many more. I soon had dozens of them, all organized into a whole “Beading Pattern” folder and I’m starting to think that I may have a problem. . .

     I started looking brick stitch patterns after getting my fill of the square stitch/perler ones. What I found were mostly peyote stitch patterns, but I found a way around that. All you have to do is turn them a certain way and they become brick stitch patterns. Er, most of the time. It doesn’t always work. This is going to save me an incredible amount of time and grief because now I kinda don’t have to specifically seek out those brick stitch patterns at every turn.

     Even though I have spent hours gathering and organizing these things and then converting them into beads, my obsession has not quite been satisfied. And so I joined Pintrest in hopes of finding all the patterns that didn’t show up during all those Google image searches. Pintrest has been more useful than I thought it was going to be. All I had to do was connect it to my Facebook account. The site even sends me emails with even more stuff to try my hand at. I honestly think that it is the beginning of beautiful things . . .to wear! And put on keychains for no reason in particular. Did I mention that I also found this really interesting pattern generator online? My (beading) life is now complete!

Bead Stitching

     About two years ago I spent a good chunk of change on some beading materials. I bought a seed bead tower, a bead loom, some beading needles, and two different kinds of beading thread/wire. I was so excited to learn the ancient art of bead weaving and was ready to create projects that were more ornate and complex than the simple, but pretty, stuff I had been making at that time. But then, I guess I got intimidated. I backed off from the whole idea and went back to doing what I knew and all that. All that stuff I bought (except for a few of those seed beads) sat unused indefinitely. . .

     . . . that was until the middle of July of this year. I was finishing the last few projects in the style I had been using and could not think of anything else to do with it. I was in desperate need of inspiration when suddenly thoughts returned to that literal tower of unused materials. Perhaps it was time I put them to good use. I wasn’t even going to worry about that bead loom this time, not until I learned to work a beading needle first. It was just what I needed to breathe some new life into my creations.

     I watched a whole bunch of bead stitching videos/tutorials on Youtube for a few days to mentally prepare myself for this venture. I needed to get at least somewhat familiar with the basics before picking up the needle myself. During those few days I studied peyote and brick stitch and how to make daisy chains. And I managed to learn all three. However, I attempted the brick stitch first. Then I tried the peyote stitch and the daisy chain, which, surprisingly, gave me the most grief. I figured it was because I’m left-handed. Whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not, handedness DOES make a huge difference.

     I did eventually learn the daisy chain stitch despite my initial struggles. All I had to do was use a totally different method . . .which yielded the exact same results. Didn’t take me all that long to figure out that the first way of doing it I was exposed to and trying to use wasn’t exactly suited to Southpaws like me. Anyway, I daisy chained a cute ring after I mastered this technique.

     Then I figured I would give the spiral rope stitch a go. Even though pieces done in this style look really complicated, the stitch itself is WAY easier than all the other ones I had learned at this point. It’s very versatile and can be used to create earrings, bracelets, necklaces, whatever. Used it to make a matching set for myself plus a few other bracelets. They turned out to be really nice . . .and I should probably make more of them.

     The last stitch that I learned to do was the square stitch and it was also surprisingly easy to master. Basically, if you can ladder stitch, then you’re already halfway there. Pieces done in this style look like they’ve been done on a bead loom and that works for me. It’s less hassle, and less threads you have to worry about weaving back into the beadwork.

     I have been experimenting and sharpening my skills with all of these stitches like crazy . . .all except for the right-angle weave. Have not come back to that since I first got the basics down last summer. I did effectively learn how it’s done and how it works, but the test patch that I made just looked off for some reason. Maybe I used the wrong beads? I have no idea. Right-angle weave is something I definitely plan to revisit in the future because I’ve seen people do all sorts of eye-catching stuff with it on the Internet, the kind of stuff I ultimately want to be making. But for right now I’m going to need to let a certain obsession run its course. . .

The Bored . . .Jewelry Designer?

     It’s confession time, ladies and gentlemen (but mostly ladies). For far longer than I have been the Bored Cashier of WordPress, reviewing games and writing eloquently about whatever else I want, I have been a designer of jewelry. I still clearly remember buying my first earring kit and 3-in-1 tool from the store I work at. I had been eyeing these items ever since I started wandering into the crafts department. There was a growing desire within me to start creating things. I wondered how far my burgeoning creativity could take me and how skilled I could become at crafting jewelry. I wanted to see if I could create some truly breathtaking pieces . . . and some money while I was at it.

     I had no idea that I was in for one heck of a trip. My jewelry making journey began in September of 2012 and I would spend the next three years:

  • Amassing a respectable collection of beads
  • Developing a portfolio consisting of photos, select writings, and a design book of hand drawn diagrams
  • Dabbling in and out of web design

It was quite an eventful time.

     I made hundreds of pieces − earrings, necklaces, bracelets, that one anklet − and developed my own simple, ‘classic’ style. I did everything I could think to do with this it, including make nice things for myself. I haven’t bought a single piece of jewelry from any store in YEARS! The truth of the matter is that I was felt I would be better off just my own accessories. (Spoiler alert: I was right!)

     Anyway, to my surprise, and that of many others, I got pretty dang good at it. Soon, no one cold tell that all the pretty jewelry I was suddenly wearing was handmade by me. I still don’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted. I remember almost getting into any argument with a lady that I work with because when she accused me of not wearing my creations when I had been doing that for well over a year by that point in time. Nothing has really changed since then, except that my work has gotten much better and now people have an even harder time believing me when I tell them that I made what I’m currently wearing. Le sigh.