Thursday, August 25, 2016

Finding Inspiration

One of the best pieces of advice I got from a beading listserv back in the mid-1990s was to seek inspiration from jewelry in fashion magazines. The person posting particularly recommended the Vogue jewelry magazine Gioiello.  On my next trip to New York I went looking for an issue.  After gasping at the price I plunked down my cash and later curled up with it in my hotel room. What fabulous images and ideas unfolded. I gazed at weirdly-gotten-up models, cluttered settings where you had to search for the jewelry, like those optical illusion panoramas popular once upon a time: can you find the six hidden brooches?  But the jewelry, the jewelry!  I gave it the ultimate accolade - I set up a manila file folder for pages I x-actoed from it.

As the web morphed from a medium full of texts to one full of images, I began copying and pasting images I found online into a Word file on my laptop. I had about 2 dozen such files when I finally decided to stop resisting and set up a Pinterest Board. After the usual "this is great! Why didn't I do this sooner?" reaction I now have a board where I put all my fashion jewelry inspiration. I call it "Jewelry Inspiration for Bead Design" and you can find it here.

One never knows what will do the trick of inspiring a design. But here's one that did it for me.

I used to do a lot of loomed beadwork until it got too hard on my wrists. After making bracelets and bookmarks, I wanted to create a larger loomed piece to hang on a wall.  Believe it or not, this photo gave me the idea for a design:

What was it that caught my attention? The fingernails.

 I liked the combination of an abstract backdrop with bold dark slashes (hashtag, anyone?) and the gold/brown palette with hints of bright red and blue (this photo doesn't show that very well, I admit).

And here is the result, a piece I titled "Fragment."

You just never know what will lasso those eyeballs into taking a second, considering look.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blame it on Barb

Barb is my roommate from grad school. She became a doctor, I became a professor.  We mostly lived in a one-bedroom apartment - I had the living room, she had the bedroom. That was back when we were young and penniless, living on stipends and student loans. We had the requisite grad-school furniture: cheap chests of drawers, a dinette set, and a cinderblock book case, though not the cable spool table. We had some standards.

Barb and I have had some fun travels over the years (decades). One of the most memorable was the time she took a temporary stint at a practice in Juneau, Alaska for six months in the summer of 1988.  She invited me to join her (and her four little dogs) on the trip out, and we drove her Toyota Celica from southside Virginia to Seattle, where she had booked us on the ferry up the Inside Passage to Juneau.

One of the things Barb did while in Juneau was take some beading classes and she sent me a pair of brick stitch fringed earrings and a loomed bookmark.  I could not stop handling them. I still have the bookmark and you can see it has gotten frayed.  I am the cause of that fraying, not the passing years.

                            I just noticed a flaw in my photo - can you see it?

 I was so taken with this beadwork that I began looking for books on fringed earrings. Then someone gave me one of those little Native American bead looms and that got me started on what became a passion for loomed beadwork. Now Barb owns some of my beaded jewelry, as does her daughter, Allie. It's lovely to see my beads on friends.

But every time we get together I tell her she's the reason I'm now a pauper. A happy, happy pauper.

Thanks, Barb.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cross Stitch and Cross Fertilization

I am besotted with Cubic Right Angle Weave (better known in the beading universe as CRAW). For I while, when I first encountered the stitch, I just made ropes using it, varying the size and type of bead. But one summer, once school was out, I got the idea of turning corners, or using Cubic Right Angle Weave to make Right Angles! 

Such a small thing, but it had a tremendous creative result.  I found I could think about CRAW as being like cross stitch (which was my first stitching obsession back in the 80s) and it was easy to count by units when designing: one square, one CRAW stitch.

Here is one of the first CRAW pieces I created using PC Stitch, a cross stitch software program (which I have also used for creating loomwork designs).

As you can see, I also figured out how to add a rivoli crystal or two - CRAW converts easily to peyote stitch. The trick for me was to create a web on the reverse side so the crystal would be firmly supported and not wiggle around. Or push through the back and fall out!  

The smaller crystals are Swarovskis in sew-through settings, another component that is very CRAW-compatible.