Friday, February 14, 2014

Therapeutic Beads ~ Aurelio

Summer Flower
Aurelio Castano
I have been making Jewelry for the past 14 years. Jewelry design was love at first sight for me when I took my first jewelry making as part of my two year Visual Art Program. I made metal jewelry from scratch, using techniques such as silversmith, Goldsmith, Lost Wax casting, Enameling, even Wire wrapping.

Being Latino, I was always curious on how to put intense color to my metal designs, tried Enameling, chemical and heat oxidizing, but I did not obtain the vivid color palette I was looking for. I tried beads as accent to my jewelry work, first large semiprecious beads, and then little by little the beaded work became more visible in my designs, until one day the metal became so minimal that it almost disappeared and the beads took over.

Native Barrel
Aurelio Castano
I did not abandon metal work by choice though. A few years ago, I became very ill; I was diagnosed with a very extreme case of Fibromyalgia. Day by day the illness took away the strength in my hands and doing basic tasks became a struggle. Chronic illness affects so many aspects of our lives. Sadly, that includes all the fun ones too.

I Think I made the transition at the right time. Beads have become one if not the only sources of happiness and therapy for me as well. When I first became disabled, I thought Cool; I will have more time for arts and crafts projects. Boy was I wrong. With pain in most of my body, there is very little that one is capable or desires to do. Luckily for me, I discovered Beading a few years into my chronic pain journey.

The great thing about Beading is that it lends itself to doing just a little bit each day, it is not exhausting, Plus when I finish a piece it makes me happy and gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment.

Making beautiful Bead work I have been able to continue a designing career that otherwise would have ended. Doing my bead work at my own pace makes things much easier and I don’t have to force my body in anyway. Once I finish a piece I take pictures I am able to upload to social media like Facebook. This way I am able to interact with other artists and public in general, getting feedback about my work, but more importantly it gives me the opportunity to stay in contact with people which otherwise I would not be able to, due to the nature of my illness.

My work has been published in magazines and participated in bead exhibitions, which is not necessarily everyone’s plan but it is a hint that shows that beading not only makes a good therapeutic exercise but also a great opportunity to continue having a descent fun living despite the aches and pains.

Beads seem to be very therapeutic and are used in many ways to help patients deal with the great deal of stress and frustration of their medical conditions. As a patient with a chronic painful illness, I know how beads have helped me from going KUKU.

I am not a therapist and I don’t intend to be, that is why I am going to concentrate on what I know has helped me by making 5 important steps to make your beading experience pleasant and rewarding.

1-  Investigate whether you want to or can do Beading or Bead stringing. Here is the differences to Beading, bead weaving or bead work:
Bead stringing:

2- Once you decide which technique would be better for you, and easier for you to do, taking into consideration your abilities and restrictions, plan your design, start very simple. Remember that you should enjoy this experience. Buy only the necessary materials for your project. It is very easy to over spend when you are in a bead/craft store if you don’t have a plan.

3- Create a comfortable atmosphere where you can sit comfortably, and enjoy your time. Make sure you have a good light, make sure that you have all your tools handy and all your materials available.

4- Be resourceful, there are hundreds of free tutorial videos online.
If Bead weaving is your technique of choice you can come to our Bead Mavens blog spot where you can find many ideas, if you are a beginner. I recommend checking the back to basics that Mikki Ferrugiaro posted recently. Here are the links:
Check all of January 2014 for the Back to Basics Tutorials

5- Whether you make your designs for yourself or as gifs, always be sure to do it for your own enjoyment, remember this is a therapy for you. Through experience I can say that the reward can make you feel better and happier, something that no medicine can do. And if you do it the right way, believe me there are no side effects from this.

So, if you are suffering from a chronic illness, don’t hesitate to grab those beads and cheat on those dreadful painkillers and their side effects.

Lol, do take those meds as well.

Inspirational reading:

Monday, February 10, 2014

All About Freeform Peyote ~Mandi

I love freeform peyote because its freeing like bead embroidery, but not as widely explored. I plan to write a project based book as a kind of launching pad on how beaders can begin to incorporate these ideas on their own. Today I want to share about what it is, some tips for getting started, resources, and of course some eye candy.

What is freeform peyote?

Freeform peyote describes pieces that have the basic structure of peyote (circular, flat, even and odd), but don't follow a set pattern and may use a variety bead sizes and size types. These structures can also be folded, twirled, added on to, and sewn together to create interest.

Tips for Getting Started in Freeform Peyote Design

1.Use a base. If this is your first project, I recommend using a base to help you get started. I feel that having a confined space is a great way to break into learning freeform peyote design, and makes it a bit less intimidating. My Freeform Peyote Heart Tutorial uses a base, and I find that it helps my students begin to experiment with this technique. For a bracelet, start with a peyote band of size 8/0 beads.

designed by Mandi Ainsworth
I have kits and a tutorial for my Freeform Peyote Heart Project.

2. Try a simple color palette. Since freeform is a technique with a lot of texture that draws your eye in multiple directions, it's a good idea to choose a simple color palette; maybe choose several shades of the same color, or two complimentary colors.

3. Focus on focal beads. Plan out where you will place each one, and embellish out from there. Try rearranging the focals and place them in different configurations and spacing before tacking them down permanently. You can do this on a peyote base or on paper with the shape drawn you would like to emulate.

designed by Mandi Ainsworth
I created this piece for the found objects blog hop. Green + Safety Pins

4. Bridges are the key. Make a loop that starts near your focal and moves toward the clasp end. Create a few rows of peyote on the loop. This is where the fun begins. You can change bead sizes or embellish with lentils, daggers, drops, etc. Then, you can create another loop that goes over, under, or next to the first loop, or eventually zip them together.

5. Work through the "Ugly Duckling" stage- Nearly all the pieces I've worked on have gone through an ugly duckling stage where everything seems fiddly, wonky, and unbalanced. My advice when you reach this point is to keep going! Karen Williams has great tips on working through this stage here.

6. You can never have enough beads. Use crystals, pearls, bugle beads, firepolish, and size 15, 11, 8, and 6 seed beads, lentils, pressed glass, stones, and drops. Use whatever calls to you.

7. Be free. It’s called freeform for a reason! Do whatever you want and take it out if you don’t like the way it looks. Remember that it only matters what YOU like, and with freeform peyote, you can develop your own aesthetic.

designed by Mandi Ainsworth
"Moving Mountains"
I designed this piece for the freeform Choose Your Own Adventure blog hop.

Resources etc.

Karen Williams and I have started a Freeform Peyote Group on Facebook. This is a great place to ask for help when you get stuck, and we also host challenges and blog hops.

Bead Circle Podcast episode where I interview Karen and we discuss the in's and out's of freeform peyote.

Sarah of Saturday Sequins posted a nice compilation of freeform goodness on her blog.

Jennifer Vanbenschoten wrote a post on Beading Daily.

I was a backer for Darcy Horn's freeform project: The Beaded Body

Karen Williams has a fabulous book on Amazon.. I am also a backer for her second book, which will go more in depth on the subject, and I invite you to check it out and back her today!

Only a couple days left to help back Karen's book via Kickstarter!

If your freeform-curious haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for? Enjoy your freeform journey!

Peace & Love,
Mandi Ainsworth