Hand painted silk

I’ve been up to it again.  Spent a few hours yesterday painting silk.  It’s still drying.  It’s always fascinating to see how it looks once it’s unwound from the painted skein and made into smaller ones.  Then you can see how the colors interact because in the big skeins the color areas are all lined up but in the little one they are mixed.  But since I don’t paint these in a regular pattern, it’s always a big surprise.  Fortunately, I’ve been pleased with all the surprises.  This is unusual.  I am not used to so much success.

Affinity Bracelets

I have been busy making affinity bracelets which I would love to share with you.

Beads, gold thread, silk thread on a hand painted silk warp.

Just Beads on a silk warp.

Crystals and beads on a silk warp.

Tila beads, magnatamas and size 8/0 seed beads on a silk warp.  

Crystals and delica beads on a silk warp.

Gold thread and beads on a silk warp.

Gold thread and size 8/0 beads on a silk warp.

No Warp-Ends Bracelet: Finishing

Today is the day we finish weaving our bracelet, take it off the loom and create a loop and a clasp.  You will notice that my last section of mixed bead rows is only two rows wide instead of three.  I was finding it difficult to fit in the magnatamas.  So I reverted to just size 8/0 beads because they were much easier to insert in that smallish space.

I released the tension on the loom and slipped off the bracelet.

I then removed the paperclips.

Using one of the warp tails, I strung twelve size 8/0 beads to form a circle for the clasp.

I used the other warp to sew through this circle from the other side to:  1) get rid of that warp tail, 2) to make the circle of beads as strong as possible.  Bury the ends somewhere in the bracelet, tying a knot and then sewing some more before trimming.  If you don’t have a softlex needle, which can be threaded by the softflex wire, just use the wire without a needle since it is stiff enough to allow you to string beads on to it.

Next you need to make a peyote tube.  Using the size 8/0 beads make a flat piece of peyote eight beads wide (or even ten if you’d like).

I found great directions for this at:  http://www.fusionbeads.com/beadingfaq/techniques.php?bfid=47

Zip it up as per the above linked directions.  Sew in tail end.

I decided it would be fun to add two magnatamas to each end.  They will also help prevent the clasp from coming undone.

Find the middle of your peyote tube and get your thread centered there.  Determine how much length you need to add to your piece in order to have a comfortable, but not too loose, fit.  I determined that I needed five beads.  So I strung five beads and then sewed through the middle bead on the end of the bracelet.  I strung five more beads and came back through the peyote tube.  I sewed back and forth through the attachment several times in order to make it strong.  Remember, there is going to be quite a bit of tension on this so you might as well over engineer it.

I really like the look of the magnatamas on the end.  Gives it a very finished look.

There she is . . . all finished and ready to wear.

More pictures of what your piece should look like.

And this final one is an example of using a glass button  instead of a peyote stitched tube.  You can use anything you want as long as it keeps the bracelet closed and, of couse, also looks beautiful.

We hope you enjoyed this adventure and are ready to make a second one!

It’s The Journey…

Today I met with the Seattle Weavers’ Guild Tapestry Study Group for our monthly meeting. We sit down in a room at a local weaving store to weave and share projects. People come and leave as they can and it’s a blissfully pleasant experience. Today’s meeting solidified what I already knew: I really like tapestry weavers (and bead weavers, too, of course). Maybe it’s because they’re artists, or that those drawn to tapestry tend to be smart and vibrant… or perhaps I feel a certain nostalgia around tapestry weavers having grown up with a mother in that world. One of my favorite memories as a kid is running around a weaving show (where my mom was demonstrating) with my little drop spindle feeling like the princess of the weaving world. 
Today, I mostly just sat and wove and listened. It was so very nice to have a little break from everyday life. While there I was planning on weaving a little sampler for a tutorial (yes, our new site will have tutorials!) but realized too late that I was probably using the wrong yarn to clearly show “pick and pick” like I had planned. So, instead of weaving and taking pictures and trying to figure out the best way to explain a technique, I just wove (the same thing I was planning on weaving, but I will redo it with some Brown Sheep yarn rather than handspun.) I was really enjoying being lost in the weaving and it made me realize something: For most of us, the joy of weaving (be it beads, tapestry or something else) is almost completely in the process. Sure, we love those finished pieces, but the reason we weave is because we love to weave and even if we’re weaving a sampler that no one will ever see (and might just be cut off the loom by tomorrow), there is still so much joy in weaving it. 

Pick and Pick with Handspun:

No Warps to Weave in Bracelet Weave-along

For this project, you will need a Mirrix Loom with a No Warp-Ends Kit. We have these available for our new sized 5″ Mini Mirrix and also for our 8″ Lani Loom, 12″ Little Guy Loom and 16″ Big Sister Loom. The kits can be purchased here. The project is done with our No Warps To Weave in Bracelet Kit.

Included in this kit:

-Enough size 8/0 permanent finish galvanized beads and magatamas to complete two bracelets
-A 30 foot spool of Metallics Soft Flex fine beading wire
-A bobbin of C-Lon beading thread

Warping your Mirrix Loom

(Go straight to the YouTube Video here)

1) Slide the required number of paper clips on each bar.  If you don’t put enough on, don’t worry because you can always add more while the bars are on the loom.  If you put on too many, you can slide the clips to the side.  In this example, we used five clips on the top and five on the bottom for a piece that will be nine beads wide.  For this piece we will be using eight warps, so put four on the top bar and four on the bottom.

2) Loop the two pieces of cord over the top of the loom.  Stick the ends of the top bar through the loops near the end of the cords.  Take the other two tales of the cord underneath the loom and up to the top bar.  You will be attaching the cord to that same top bar (the bottom bar gets inserted later).  Make sure each cord is the same length.  It does not have to be tight.  The tension will be adjusted later. 

3) To attach the bottom bar, first measure down from the bottom of the paper clips of the top bar to the place on the cord that is the length of the piece you want to weave PLUS the length of the paperclips on the bottom bar.  I am making my bracelet six inches long.  Stick the bottom bar into the two cords at this place.  It will easily slide into the holes of the cord. 

4) In order to warp the loom, tie (or use a slip knot to attach) your SoftFlex wire to either a top or bottom paper clip and then in a zigzag pattern slip your warp through the top and bottom paper clips until you have as many warps as you need.  Tie off (or use a slip knot) on the final paper clip. 

5) Slide the cord that is on the outside of the top bar (the cord that runs the same path as your warp) off the top bar.  Now you just have warp between the bars on the front of the loom.

6) Evenly space the paperclips.  Apply tension on the loom.

Weaving your Bracelet

Now for the fun part.  Tie the end of a three foot piece of C-Lon thread to side bar of loom.  Weave two or three rows of just size 8/0 beads.

Follow those rows with a row of alternating 8/0s and magatamas starting with an 8/0 on the outside.  The next row will also alternate these two beads but with the magatamas on the outside.  Follow this with a row starting with a size 8/0 bead. 

Continue this pattern of three rows of just 8/0 beads and three rows of mixed beads until you see that you have room for only three or four rows of 8/0s.  Weave until you cannot fit in another row.

We will finish our bracelets next week!

Thread, beads and Related Information

After I tell you my opinion on threads and beads, go test the possibilities for yourself for although certain things are kind of set in stone, some things are all about personal preference.
Threads for Just bead weaving

For example, we at Mirrix use c-lon beading thread exclusively for straight bead weaving. We realize there are other threads that can be used, but we believe this one is the best. It doesn’t easily break and resists fraying more than, let’s say, nymo. And it doesn’t stretch like silamide. Other folks like fireline. I think it’s really too thick for my taste and am not sure it would work well with the shedding device. But I do plan to buy some and test it further before fully judging it. And then of course there is wire. I have been using softflex but only in conjunction with the no warps kit because it is not possible to weave in wire ends. We are very excited to finally be able to use wire on the Mirrix!  
Beads for just bead weaving

This is your choice. Cylinder beads were designed for loom weaving. They line up beautifully when woven and are very consistently sized. The most common size is the size 11/0, which is in fact quite a bit smaller than the size 11/0 seed beads. Go figure. I have no explanation for this. But you can use any size cylinder bead which range in size from a very small  size 15/0 to a rather large 6/0. You can also use any size seed bead (those round ones) from an itty bitty size 15/0 to a huge size 2/0. And then there are all the other oddly shaped and wonderful beads from Tilas to magnatamas all of which can be woven on the Mirrix.  I like to mix various bead shapes and sizes together such as in the no warps to weave in bracelet
which uses size 8/0 and Magnatamas. Abead soup of a variety of bead sizes is also possible. Space your warp to accommodate the largest beads and use multiples of smaller beads in the larger spaces. Which leads to our next question . . .
What warp coil to use for straight bead weaving

If you are using one size bead, put a linear inch of the beads in question on a needle. Count how many are in that inch. The number of the warp coil you will use will be same as the number of beads give or take one since the coils are even and you may have an odd bead count. If you cannot remember which coil is which, just place a coil on your loom and count the number of dents in an inch. That is the size of your coil.
Threads for bead and fiber weaving

We have three suggestions for warp to be used for bead and fiber weaving including C-Lon cord, silk yarn and softflex wire. Our tapestry cuffs use the cord as their foundation  whereas the affinity bracelets
use the silk, giving them more drape and lovely tails to tie. You can use softflex for this as well but only when using the no warps kit. Determine whether your warps will show, such as with the affinity bracelets, or whether it will be hidden, such as with the tapestry/beads bracelets.
More Fun Stuff

Until recently, there hasn’t been much written about combining various materials on a loom.  We have broken that taboo and very much encourage you to explore how beads and fibers and wire can interact on a loom.  You need to retire old notions such as the thread that is the basis for a bead weaving cannot show.  We have shown with the affinity bracelets that not only can it show, but it can also be a very important design and structural element in the piece.  This is very exciting.  And the tapestry/bead cuff broke new ground with the concept of using tapestry to create jewelry while also exploring the added element of beads.  And then of course we’ve been having a grand old time using gold thread with all these new pieces turning on its head the concept that real gold has to be hard.  This thread is anything but hard until you weave it and then it becomes almost like metal.  
Explore. Explore. Explore. 

Some of what we Mirrix folks do is traditional. Look at our ipod case:
 You don’t get anymore traditional than that.  But we go for the unusual too because that is what makes using a Mirrix fun.  We encourage you to break as many rules as you can and see what it is that you want to make on your Mirrix.  But we hope the above information has helped you figure out some of the more common relationships between beads and thread.

Hand painted silk yarn will be on the website by this evening.

I have a new love in life:  painting silk yarn.  It’s almost as fun as weaving those affinity bracelets.  I just ordered five kilos of silk from China which I hope arrives soon because I am all out of silk to paint.  On a grey, snowy day such as  today it would have been a fine way to pass the time.  But alas, no silk, no painting.

I seem to be drawn to this silk painting as if I have always done it.  It makes so much sense.  I wish I had figured this out years ago.  I can get so much more control than by immersion dyeing in a pot of water.

The results (and what will be on the website for sale for now):