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Our Class News

  • Learn to break the rules!

    Are you a rule breaker? Are you one of those people who, if they give you an inch, you take a mile?

    Alternatively, do you live within the rules and not venture out of the ‘box’? Does the word ‘freeform’ make you squirm with fear!

    My first venture with freeform anything was a big step. As a seed beader – especially with peyote – I felt comfort knowing that my beads would line up with perfect precision. I knew what to expect when I was planning the next row, and then the next.  I have since discovered that freeform peyote is not the scary world I had first imagined.

    Freeform is not disregarding the rules – it is respecting structure but challenging the placement of beads, stones, wire, metals and focal elements so you can apply your own creative vision. It is having fun and playing with colour. It is adding texture where you would least expect it. It can be described as organic and without preconceptions.

    Freeform can also mean using materials that you would not expect, such as placement of charms within beading or using pebbles and even bottlecaps as part of an embroidery piece.

    Give yourself an opportunity to learn about using freeform in your design work this summer. You’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was about how much you will enjoy it!

    Upcoming classes incorporating freeform techniques:

    Sunday, July 7
    Freeform Peyote Bracelet: Design-on-the-Fly!
    Anne Marie Desaulniers
    10:00am – 5:00pm
    Incorporate freeform peyote into a statement bracelet you’ll be proud to wear!

    Saturday, July 7
    Turtle Tab Setting a cabochon, a flat back crystal or flat bead
    Liz Kennedy
    12:00 – 3:00pm
    Learn the art of creating a pendant that perfectly reflects your choice of stone or bead!

    Saturday, June 13
    Pebble Beach Jewellery
    Ann Shewan
    10:30am – 1:30pm
    Explore how to drill pebbles that you can incorporate into your own designs!

    Thursday, August 1
    Swirly Pendant and Earrings
    Liz Kennedy
    6:00 – 9:00pm
    This is a very easy project using a flat bead, half round and round wire to make a very organic pendant and earrings – a great first step into freeform wire.

    Click on the class name for complete information including course description, applicable fees and on-line registration. You can also click on the instructor’s name for more classes she is teaching.

Our Latest Inspiration

  • Photo to Beaded Pattern

    A fun little tool from Miyuki to convert your photos to beading patterns

    We’ve seen a number of beading-pattern-makers over the years – by and large, they seem to not be much fun to use, and try to do too much.

    This, by contrast, does Miyuki Delicas, Peyote or Square stitch. That’s it.

    You can also use the Square Stitch option to create patterns for looming.

    The software is online, and runs in your browser, so nothing to download – except the pattern afterwards if you want.


    They have instructions in English here, but I’m going to run you through a brief intro here too.

    First, you will need to click on Peyote or Square to start, depending on which you want the pattern to be.

    Next, you will see a screen that asks you to input dimensions

    The maximum size is 370 x 370 mm. I had a fairly large image, and so I scaled it down by dividing the size so that it was a lot smaller.

    However, if you just playing with it, just enter the 370 in the height and width boxes. Where there is text in a box that is grey, it is a suggestion, not a default value, and you need to enter it yourself.

    Number of colours – well, as Miyuki themselves say,

    The larger the number of colors used, the more delicate expression will be.

    Fair enough, but there does come a point at which, needing to buy 2 beads of a colour is ridiculous, even in my humble opinion.

    So you can start with a low number of colours as Miyuki suggests, about 20 or so, and adjust afterwards. One of the things that I like about this software is that you can go back and forth and change things, instead of needing to have it all correct before you start.

    Click on import, and navigate to your saved jpg on your computer. Click ok.

    From here, you have some options to resize and scale and crop. Click on the blue line to resize, and use the scroll wheel on your mouse, or the zoom icons, to zoom in and out.

    And click ok.

    Now you get to modify the number of colors, with a preview of what it will look like. You can reduce or add to the number of colours by clicking on the rectangle above or below. Keep selecting a lower number of colours until the quality of the image falls off.

    When you think it is ok, click ok and go to the next screen.

    It will spin it’s wheels for a bit, and then give you a preview, that you can review or edit.

    Pretty awesome, huh?

    From here, you can edit the individual beads.

    Use the eyedropper icon to pick up colours from beads. Use the paintbrush to apply the colour.


    The coloured droplets let you switch to the full Delica colour palette to pick whatever colour you want.

    I don’t see anything that looks like a search and replace, however, so to get less complicated colour choices, just go back a step.

    I do think that starting with a less complicated image is probably a good idea too. Running your image through a filter an image editing software can make the image less complex. Look for a filter or process called “Posterize”, “Cartoon” or “Simplify” to get a smoother image.

    Or, click the back arrow and select a lower number of colours.

    When you are done, click ok, and it will ask you if it is ok?

    And then pop up the slightly scary warning …

    Don’t worry – it will give you the number again on the next page. You can write it down or cut and paste.

    You do have the option to download a pdf, which is a good thing, as I haven’t actually seen any of the emailed notifications from them, but maybe they take awhile.

    If you use the pattern online, it will actually keep track of rows for you, which I think is a lovely feature.


    Here I was playing with a much simpler image – beading a picture of beads is very meta.

    Here are the pdf patterns if you’d like to have a closer look. The “shopping list” is at the end, and lists the standard delica number, the quantity and the grams.

    And, btw, you are free to go ahead and use these patterns if you want – if you manage to bead up a picture of my wonderful old dog, do send me a pic and let me know! (Because you know I’m never going to get around to it … )

    The Dude – (my old German Shepherd) Complex 19031501260367278629

    The Dude – (my old German Shepherd) Simplified 19031501474795333579

    Black Beads 19031504040304327490

    If you get stuck at the “simplify the image” thought and need a hand there – fire me an email and I’ll see if I can’t help you out.

    This is a far from comprehensive tutorial, but I don’t think it needs it. The program is fun to use and play with. It’s not like you can do anything wrong, so just click and have fun!