What would happen if…

As an instructor, I’m always trying to create new project ideas that will best reflect a particular technique and is teachable, that is, can be easily and concisely explained so it can be done in a class. Sometimes old projects can be re-worked with new materials in different colours. Sometimes you just need to play with the materials and say, ‘what if.’ For example, what if I try a two-hole bead in place of a seedbead?

Have you tried taking a product and tried using it in a completely different context than what you think it would normally be used for? (I’ve done this all my life; it drove my Mom nuts.) What BeadFX products and materials could I to see how they may work in other contexts? It turns out there are lots of opportunities!

Weaving

I have taken to tapestry weaving like a duck to water! This isn’t a typical ‘craft’ that a bead store gets involved with, but I really wanted to teach weft-facing tapestry at BeadFX, so how could I do it with our products? To weave, you need a loom with a stable warp; something will stay taut and keep warps (the fibre that is stretched top to bottom) in place. Guess what – the Jewel Loom is perfect! Now, what to weave with? Technically, you can weave with anything – yarn, string, ribbon and even fabric. And, of course you can add beads! Here you can see the warps and the weft – the stripes were created using variegated silk embroidery floss. It is set-up on the Jewel Loom.


C-Lon micro-cord made an excellent warp. It’s thin, available in lots of colours and doesn’t stretch. I warped up the loom just as you normally would if you were going to use beads. The regular weight C-Lon made for a very good weft (the fibre that goes over and under the warps). It had good shine, easy to weave with, suitable for a number of weaving stitches and came in a rainbow of colours. The 10-lb hemp worked well too, although it was stiffer. The heavier weight C-Lon worked okay too but didn’t give as smooth a finish as I wanted – but could still be interesting in the right design. My next experiment was to do a weaving using only one colour of C-Lon in plain weave but to really pack the weft together, creating a very solid band. The result was a great surface to do embellishment on. You can see from the photo some embroidery stitches, sequins and a few beads.

Now, what would happen if…I tried wire lace? It turns out that wire lace works okay. It’s flexible, shiny and there are quite a few colours, but it is scratchy at the edges. The shine also detracts from any special weaving stitches – you just don’t see the stitches that well. So, what would happen if…I flattened the wire lace? I wove a piece a bracelet length piece using plain tabby weave – overs and unders, nothing special – then burnished the weaving using the back of the spoon. The result? A very different effect that looks like metallic fabric! Again, it should be able to accept some embellishment with beads and sequins.

Knitting

I’m not an adventurous knitter, but I can do the garter stitch and purl. In this first example, I combined wire lace and some fingering yarn. One spool of wire lace doesn’t go far so adding yarn helps to extend it for trimming, etc.


In this second example, I knit the wire lace alone and added some size 6/0 Cz seed beads. This is what one spool made using 5mm needles. You could make a narrow bracelet with the amount.


In this third example, I knit up some medium weight C-Lon cord. The stitch made it curl quite a bit, even after I dampened and blocked it. So, I used the curl to my advantage and knit a smaller piece using the heavier weight Tex 400 C-Lon for create a knitted ‘bead’. I finished the ends using the new longer ribbon ends. Verdict – not bad! It was comfortable and lightweight.


By the way, you can also knit with wire! This is 26 gauge wire on 5mm needles and 6/0 Cz beads.

I encourage you to play ‘what would happen if’ with some of your stash. Who knows…you could be starting a whole new trend!

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