May Designer Feature

Sarah Cryer

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How did you find beading, and what do you feel was the ďhookĒ that has kept you beading?

I found beadweaving via stringing around 10 years ago.† I bought a general beadwork book to help with my stringing, and was fascinated by the seed bead section towards the back, and havenít really stopped since then.† The arrival of our two children, with maternity leave and no more nights out meant a hobby which can be done on a tray on my lap in the evenings has been very appealing!

Do you now, or have you in the past, done other forms of creative works, and if so, what mediums?

Iíve always stitched in some shape or form - my mother is an amazing quilter, and my paternal grandmother was a talented knitter, and an incredible embroiderer.† They taught me to sew and knit, and whilst I still sew regularly, making items for the home and dressmaking, knitting has given way to beadwork and embroidery.† Iíve just been on a course at the Royal School of Needlework to learn Tambour Embroidery, so Iím working hard at the moment to improve my technique there alongside my regular beadwork, a recent return to more conventional embroidery and making my own hand painted cabochons.† I always have something on the go, and a good variety of UFOs to choose from when I eventually sit down in the evening!

Who are your beading ďherosĒ and why.

Jean Power is a good beady friend - her patterns were some of the first I bought, taking me down the 3D geometric path and pretty much sucking me into beadweaving properly, and Iím lucky enough to know her in person now through a London based bead group run by Penny Akester.† Iíve also been inspired over the years by other British beaders, such as Heather Kingsley-Heath, Shona Bevan† and Sian Nolan, and by the amazing beaders who run shops here such as Lynn Frith at Stitch N Craft.† Internationally Iíve always made lots of patterns from Sabine Lippert and Marcia DeCoster - I love the way they structure their work, and Iíve gotten really into bead embroidery since I discovered the work of Kinga Nichols and Apollinariya Koprivnik.

What's the best piece of beading advice you've received, and from whom?

The only class Iíve ever had the chance to attend was one of Jean Powerís.† She taught me a clever way of joining threads which works well on some stitches, and has saved me hours of weaving in ends!† She also taught me indirectly that size 15 delicas are too small for winter evening beading (for me, but not for her).

Your pattern illustration Ė do you draw your own diagrams?† Do you use a particular program? Do you use photos?† Do you have a graphic design background?

I do draw my own diagrams, usually using Inkscape.† I also include photos of critical steps, or to illustrate something in particular - for example in my Baroque Tape Measure, a single, unjoined side looks really wavy, irregular and can be a bit worrying, so I include a photo of one of mine in progress to show the beader that thatís fine - as soon as they join the two circular pieces the tension within the join stretches out the wavy sides so they sit perfectly flat.† I also include photos and bead numbers for suggested colourways to help anyone recreate those Iíve already made even when I donít turn them into Materials Packs.†† I donít have a graphic design background, but my main job is in IT so Iím reasonably comfortable with working out how to use software although I do tend to forget between new designs so there can be a lot of talking to myself and muttering at the computer.

Is there a particular piece of beadwork or series that you are particularly proud of?† If so, why?

†I try to do at least one competition each year to force myself to be original and to stretch myself creatively and itís often those pieces that make me most happy.† A Beaderís Chatelaine which I made for the first competition I ever entered was a real game changer for me - itís spawned both my Baroque Tape Measure and my Space Needle Case, and taught me to embrace the uncertainty of trying to develop my own designs. Last year I won the Professional Class in the UK Beadworkers Guild challenge with my ĎFascinating Carmení hat, and the year before I won the same class in the Stitch N Craft butterfly themed challenge with my ĎSemeleís Cuffí - both were peyote geometric pieces, and pick up an ongoing theme, but then I have other completely different pieces on the go now for this yearís round of competitionsÖÖ...

Do you have beading designs that feature unconventional beading materials?

Not really - Iím starting to work more textiles into my bead embroidery pieces, and I also hand paint my own cabochons, but neither of those are particularly unconventional!

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, sources of inspiration, workflow, etc?

Once I have a rough idea, even if itís only a colour set, I pull beads from my stash, filling up a big box or tray.† Then I play and bead until the idea solidifies into something workable, often taking pictures of different arrangements so I can ponder their value on the train to work.† The beads usually seem to come first and tend to drive the work for me.

Do you have favorite stitches?† Least favorite stitches?

I use a lot of peyote, RAW, CRAW and 3D netting or prismatic weaves in beadweaving, and in bead embroidery lots of back stitch, stacking, and then build out from the backing using beadweaving stitches.† I use a bit of brick stitch and herringbone occasionally, but really donít get on with square stitch or looming, and although I do use fringing I usually get rather tangled up.† I also like a nice beaded rope - so therapeutic.

What are you working on now?

Iím working on a series of hollow, self supporting dodecahedra using all the different 2 holed beads I can get my hands on.† Iím working in two colours - etched slipperit and vintage copper, to ensure that they work as a set and more importantly to avoid getting distracted by indecision around colour choices.† Iím hoping to end up with a series of beaded beads that work individually or together, and perhaps a tutorial helping people to explore from the basic structure to more complex forms.† And Iím also working on some embroidery combining traditional hand stitched techniques, bead embroidery and tambour beadwork.

Do you have a favorite type of thread, needles, or other supplies?

Tulip Needles, KO thread.† Every so often I go back to Fireline for strength, but in the end it hurts my fingers and I love the coloured threads and the effects you can get with them so I go back to KO.† Iím getting through the new Red Pink at a horrifying rate.

Is there something you absolutely must have for beading or designing?

A comfy seat, preferably my sofa, and something brainless on the TV to help me focus.† And far, far more beads pulled out of my stash than I can ever use in a single project.

Where can our members view your work and find more of your patterns?

Take a look at my blog, my shop on Etsy (use the special discount code for NGBS members), or even better search for the ĎIndecisive Beaderí on Instagram or Facebook and follow me to see what Iím up to each day.