I’ve just had an email from my publisher (I can’t get used to saying that), asking me about the Superduo beads. They understandably prefer not to use brand names in their books, and while this is something I hadn’t thought of, it posed a bit of a problem. Everyone knows what Superduos are, and while some may not be aware of the differences between superduos and other twin oval beads, most know one is infinitely better than the other for certain types of beadwork, in the same way as Japanese seed beads are usually better for precision beading than the European equivalent. The European beads may be of equal quality in the material sense but are usually made differently to the Japanese and are less uniform and consistent in size. These are great for freeform beading, as are the two holed beads.
So I did a little bit of research and here is my reply.
On researching, Superduos are made in the Czech Republic by a company called Matura Beads. I realise that Superduo is actually a brand name, but this serves to differentiate from other two holed oval beads. Superduos are made of pressed glass which make them uniform in shape and perfect for the type of sculptural designs I make. Twin beads, made by Preciosa are made in the same way as seed beads, extruded and cut. This makes them less uniform and probably more suitable for freeform designs. The same results cannot be guaranteed using the same design but one or the other of the beads. Some will work, others simply won't. I left (the creative director) with two bracelets, one made with Superduos, and the other with twin beads..and although they just about worked, the twin bead bracelet is much tighter, therefore stiffer, and slightly shorter. It's difficult to work designs to use both to the best effect.
The difficulty here is that beaders know the Superduo name, and actually prefer them, due to their consistency and uniformity. There are very few tutorials out there specifically for the Preciosa Twin beads, but lots of Superduo patterns...so, although it is a brand name, it is also generically known name for this type of pressed glass two holed bead, of which there is just one. Unfortunately the brand has got ahead of us here. Jablonex also made what they called Superduo beads, and nobody knows if that was legal or not, but either way, they never competed with Matura.
Superduos have been around for around four years, websites and bloggers began discussing them around 2012, and their popularity has soared since then.
The only thing I can suggest, mainly because I use other two-holed beads within the book, like Silky beads, Bi-bo beads and Czechmates Tile beads, which will add to the confusion, is to use the term ‘duo’..which implies Superduo without actually using the brand name.
I await further instruction, but the reply was that it was very helpful.
The best way to think of them is in terms of shape. Twin beads are in the main, oval, though they can be flat on one side. Superduos are oval, but with a raised part, like a little bump, between the two holes on both sides, making them look like a cross is trying to emerge. This makes for much easier sculptural designs as these fit together beautifully, whereas you have to take your chances with twin beads, or spend ages picking out the most similar shapes and sizes to use. By the time you’ve done that, you’ll be bored to death and probably not even bother to start the project.
So to conclude. Superduos are perfect for precise, sculptural designs, while twin beads are perfect for freeform designs. Both have their places on the beading mat, with great colours and finishes, both have great potential for some stunning designs. Just be aware that if you are using twin beads to make a superduo design, you may not get the same result, and you definitely won’t achieve the same measurements.
So the synopsis for my book is completed, checked, changed, checked, tweaked, completed and checked again, and submitted. The publisher will format it for me and write the ‘about author’ part using the bullet points I added. I actually made a cup of tea and stared at my computer for a few minutes before clicking ‘send’, which sounds daft but that’s what a big thing this is for me.
Now, I can’t sit and do nothing while I wait for the sample spreads to be sent back to me, so I’m starting to make everything up, get the artwork done, write up the instructions, then, and this is a new thing for me, make them all up again to match the different stages.
I haven’t taken photos yet, I’ll do that when I’ve got a few made up.
The good part is, while working out some designs, I’ve led myself into yet more, which I will be putting into tutorials over the next few weeks, whenever I fancy a break from the book.
Meanwhile, the Anya earrings, Clara bracelet and necklace are all back on sale, I decided I didn’t need to use them.
Sitting at my work table this morning, I was hoping to get a better view of the solar eclipse. Instead, this is what I got. I had a better view online with the various live videos running. What a disappointment! The most annoying thing is, by 10.15am the cloud suddenly cleared and the sun came out…and shone all day. So for the duration of the eclipse, it just looked like it was going to rain any second.
I was utterly exhausted after the photoshoot, it was a very long day, up at 5.30am (that's a whole two hours before normal), on the train by 7.40am and heading down to the big smoke.
I finished the day by meeting my son at Liverpool Street Station, and spending the night with him, my daughter-in-law and my two grandaughters, as it was my sons birthday. We went out for a lovely Chinese meal, and a great time was had by all. Bacon sandwiches for breakfast in the morning, and back home again in the afternoon. My daughter-in-law gave me a lift home all the way from Chelmsford because of engineering works on the line meant a three hour journey home. To be honest, if both of us had started out at the same time, she would have been to mine and back home before I reached Norwich Station, that's how bad the weekend delays were.
Anyway, I must be getting old, it took two days to recover and my knees are still sore from all the stairs I climbed.
This week has been spent making test samples of a couple of designs, putting the finishing touches to the book contents list, and I'm now beginning to think about the synopsis. I did have a bit of a mental block for a couple of days, I just couldn't get myself back into it, but then I realised what was missing. Music! Having watched some 80s stuff on the TV late at night, it awoke my creative brain again and I'm now back on track.
However, with family up at the weekend, I now need to put everything away and get ready for that. It took me a whole two hours to sort out all the beads and unpick samples that I no longer needed, and clear my table. It's now a dining table again, well almost, once I get the bead drawers off.
Well I said there would be a couple of sneaky peaks at the new jewellery. Here is a section of my Silky Snowdrops bracelet, just a small section mind, I'm not allowed to show too much....
I will add a few more sneaky peaks as we go along. This is one of the pieces being shown to Kalmbach next month in the sample spreads.
Next week is back to the Synopsis in earnest. I have until April 2nd but they would prefer to have it sooner. I need to check the content and list it in the right order. I have no idea how many pages each will take up which is a bit difficult, but we'll get by.
So, since day 7 I have been working on getting 30 ideas into workable forms for projects. Some are still on paper, but I can see how I can make them work, some I have worked on to see if it can work, and they do. I now have the thirty projects and the basis of my synopsis.
The next job was to prepare some jewellery for the sample spreads. I had the Iona Pendant, Petite Secrets Bracelet and the new Silky Snowdrops bracelet, so I made sure I ordered enough beads in the colours they wanted, as discussed over the phone and in email, and made a whole sample in the colours.
I also edited the tutorials I had written into a workable word doc., with my artwork for reference. These were emailed to them on Wednesday and returned the same day in a rough layout for the spreads. This gave me a much better idea of what they needed from me, so I tweaked and added a few bits, then sent them back.
On Friday March 6th after a very early start and 2 hour train journey into London, I battled through the tube and emerged at Caledonian Road. The street looked exactly as in Google Streetview, and I could clearly see Pentonville Prison down the road. The Old Brewery in Islington is where I was actually heading but it is opposite the prison.
Once at Quarto I was made to feel so welcome, given tea and shown to the studio, which was more like a showroom of their books made into a makeshift studio, but everything was laid out ready. I then spend the day making up the samples, beginning with the whole pendant, with photos being taken at each stage, and partial bracelets, also with photos taken at each stage. The photographer, Phil Wilkins, who told me he started out as a food photographer, and whose name can be found on many books, was so patient as he waited for me to complete each stage, and was very helpful.
All in all it was a very successful day, we finished at about 4.30, and I was on my way back to Liverpool Street station to meet my son by 5.00pm.
I managed to sneak a pic or two of the setup while we were taking a break. I was sitting at the right of the table, making the samples, and these would be placed on the white board in the centre, directly under the camera. Phil would then take the shot and check it on his laptop before I proceeded with the next stage.
Now I know what needs to be done, when it comes to doing the complete book, I’ll be able to have the stages made up and ready. Thank goodness for little ziplock bags.
I still have the synopsis to write, but after I said I wasn’t good at selling myself, I was told not many authors are, and if I just gave the main points, they would write that part for me, ‘because we’re really good at bigging up authors’. That’s a relief! Now I’m really excited.
This book is part of a series, and from what I understand, everything needs to be ready for April 2nd, and completed after that for the London Book Fair, where my sample spreads and synopsis, and those of another two or three authors, including Lynn Davy, will be presented to Kalmbach. They do sound confident that it will be accepted.
I spent the morning mulling over the content of my book ready for synopsis. It’s not easy when you don’t actually have the designs to hand…just the mere cloudy idea form in my head.
However, I created a word doc., which I will use for ideas and notes, but headed by a table with 30 cells. I’ve decided to use a few I already have, with the possibility that if enough ideas come up in the next four weeks these will be the ones I will remove first, such as the Clara necklace and bracelet.
The Anya earrings are definitely not going in, they’ve proved too popular on Etsy thanks to a treasury I was included in yesterday, so I’ll have to sort out another idea for that. Maybe five points instead of four, so they are similar.
See? Ideas rumbling around my head as I type!
However, I did finish working on a pendant which has been very pleasing and will be included. It’s actually based on an earring design seen on YouTube, which I wanted to try for myself. Not having 12mm rivolis, I adapted it to a 14mm rivoli, and instead of a four point earring, I ended up with a six point pendant with SuperDuos incorporated. It looks layered, but it’s not. All I now need to do is re-design the part made with cylinder beads to take it completely away from the original design. Very pleased with it so far though.
I’m going to have a look at the sysopses from Jean Power and Lynn Davy for their books, and see if I can draft a basic one over the weekend.
This is scary stuff, but I feel so honoured that a publisher thought MY work, lil’ ole me, was good enough to want me to write a book.
Payment isn’t great, I’d prefer more, but the offer can’t be turned down for my first. I can negotiate more for a second book. (Yes there will be now, if this one gets published, there will have to be another commission to follow up.)
Meanwhile I’m going to try to relax a little and let ideas form in the back of my mind while I do some other things with my time, until Monday (day 7)
I’m a little more clear in my mind about the synopsis now, since taking a brief perusal of the synopses Quarto sent me as examples.
I’ve spent the weekend formulating some new designs, and listing them in a grid so I can see how many of each item I have done, and to help with structuring the book.
The theme is SuperDuo beads, which is a good thing, as the style of jewellery certainly isn’t going to be the theme. I have a fairly eclectic collection of styles, from floral, Victorian, vintage to funky, bright and modern. The aim of the book is to reach as many people as possible to give them a taste of what can be done with SuperDuos. (I might include that sentence in the final synopsis).
I’ve had to work in an entirely different way. Usually I begin a project in one of two ways. I either have an idea, which I use my graphics to visualise. I have a template of beads, so I simply lift them and move them around to see if the idea could work, then make it up, forumalting the method as I go. This prototype often gets unpicked and I start again if I’ve not done it in a more repetitive way. Then I make a second sample using the method I’ve formulated. I like to make the method as intuitive as possible, using small stages repeatedly rather than try to explain a whole length of bracelet etc.
The second way, which usually happens when I’m lacking a little inspiration, is to pick up a random assortment of beads, lay them on my beading mat, and just put them together. Then get the general shape and idea into diagrams. This has often worked for me, especially with pendants for some reason.
Now I’m having to get an idea on the graphics program, by moving the beads around, and not worrying about the method for now. Just get the idea down, name it, put it in a folder, and leave it there. This then goes into the synopsis grid I spoke of earlier. Another way is to formulate a shape with the actual beads first, then get a rough draft onto the graphics sheet. I have bits and pieces and elements of projects all over my desk.
It’s a strange way of working, but it’s getting the projects together, and within a couple of days I’ve almost completed the basics for the synopsis.
I do feel more relaxed about it, and starting to feel a little bit excited.
I'm Teresa, the designer and writer of the tutorials you see, and a bead addict.