Polished Beads

A long while ago Paul and I made a device for winding sock yarn ready to be dyed in stripes. Which, when I got into weaving, turned out to be even more useful as an adjustable warping board that could easily be dismantled and taken places. I’ve also used it as a raddle when warping the table loom. The pegs are lengths of dowel with wooden beads glued onto the ends.

I’ve had a bag of leftover beads since then, and had ideas about painting them. I was thinking more along the lines of dipping them in opaque gloss paint, or painting designs on them, or drawing on them with a sharpie then varnishing.

A few weeks ago I was lamenting that my collection of nail polish is larger than my enthusiasm for painting my nails these days and my inability to keep the paint from chipping before I get to whatever event I want to wear it to. Then a flash of inspiration came and I was off to the studio to paint some beads.

The beads look great – all shimmery and pearly. In my jewellery-making box I had some leftover short lengths of leather, so I got some wire and other findings and soon had this:

Which as a first, spontaneous design works okay, but I don’t love it so I may take it apart some time in the future and string them up in a different way.

I’ll definitely be painting more beads with nailpolish, though. Heaps of potential there.

Craftonomicon, part two

The weaving demo I did at the convention was part of the Craft Market. I did manage to sneak away from my looms twice to look at the other tables and do a little shopping.

The belt bag instantly suggested itself as a handy place to tuck shuttles if I have two or more on the go. And the glass necklace with the feather is the sort of bold jewellery I love.

The previous day I did a workshop called Con Bag Craft, in which I planned to show how you could turn the contents of the con bag that you don’t want – usually brochures and promotional bookmarks – into useful items. I had expected to have two hours and was a little caught out to discover it only went for an hour. We only got through making a matchbook notepad and sewn notebook before we ran out of time.

But the six participants were happy to stick around through the lunch break and do the t-shirt refashion. They chose the more complicated backpack design and it wound up taking two hours, but nobody wanted to leave as they said they were having too much fun.

Eventually we had to go as the next panel was about to start. Later one of the participants proudly showed me her finished backpack – on her back. No better compliment!


For the last couple of months I spent quite a bit of time preparing for two conventions. The first one was held in New Zealand over the first weekend in June, where I ran a writing workshop, talked on panels and did a presentation.

The second one on the following weekend, though also a ‘science fiction’ convention, had a secondary theme of craft. For Craftonomicon, as it was called, I arranged a community art project, a workshop and a weaving demonstration as well as participated in panels.

The art project was pretty low key – it just required bringing in a big sheet of card and lots of black and coloured pens for people to draw with. The workshop was called Con Bag Craft and involved recycling, bookbinding and refashioning – but I’ll cover that in another post.

The weaving demonstration took the most preparation time and I used it as an opportunity to expand my weaving knowledge. In an earlier post I touched on some of the weaving methods I taught myself. Later I picked up some inkle looms at the Guild and put them through their paces. In the end I hauled six different ‘looms’ into the city and set them up in the con’s Craft Market.

First up there was straw weaving:

Then card weaving:

(I didn’t like card weaving much – way too fiddly.)

From there I moved on to the inkle looms, with a straightforward project on the mini loom (which I finished):

(This loom is adorable and small enough that I can use it while watching tv.)

And a pick up inkle project on the normal sized one:

(It wasn’t until I watched a demo on YouTube that I finally understood how this worked. It’s slow but gratifying.)

Finally I moved onto the rigid heddle, which I’d set up so that people could have a go. Nearly everybody who came to look at the looms gave it a go, and I know at few of them are even more tempted to take up weaving now:

(I was hoping we’d get a scarf length finished then auction it at the end, but less than half was done over the afternoon.)

And the table loom, as the most complex of the looms, impressed everyone.

(The Ashford table loom is designed to be portable. The castle folds down. I hadn’t tried to with a project on it before and was very relieved that it went smoothly and was so quick to prepare for transport and set up again.)

Beforehand I’d cut a length of the inkle that I was weaving on the afro comb loom and made it into a lanyard for my convention badge:

I finished the rest of the inkle while in panels, both as panel participant and in the audience, then tied on a pre-cut warp I’d brought and kept weaving.

And carried it around in this well-made little bag I’d bought at the con in New Zealand.

I was amazed at how many people were crafting at the con. In my first panel, there was a quilter, weaver (me), spinner, crocheter, and two knitters. I don’t recall spotting any male con attendees crafting, however.

At the last moment I also tossed the i-cord maker into my bag, and cranked my way through two panels.

I have vague plans of braiding or knitting it into a scarf.

All this means I have a lot of projects on the go now. Which is fine by me. After months of preparation, I’m looking forward to some unstructured spare time. Which so far I’ve spent rearranging the studio. Or rather, continuing the rearranging I started nearly a year ago, with added knitting machine to find space for.