Thursday, October 27, 2016

Letting it Lie

I have talked about the Drawer of Unfinished Projects and what goes into it (you can find my post here). But there are other projects that, when left to lie around, percolate and produce something I really like. This may take weeks, months or sometimes years, but the result is worth waiting for.

This happens, for example, when I work with my stained-glass artist friend Beth on a design that combines both media.  It can take a while for the solution to setting a bezeled crystal in her stained-glass piece to materialize but I have found that it would come if I waited and didn't worry it too much.

I dragged my feet on another collaboration with her because of the subject matter. It was a lovely iris set in an octagon of green glass.  But it had a spider in her web in the center. That was my part of the work and I loathe spiders. It took me a long time to even begin to think about making one, shudder, shudder.

I finally looked at some beaded spiders on the internet (much more congenial than looking at photos of real ones, which I would have had to do peeking through my fingers or taking my glasses off) and beaded one. It made no pretense to being anatomically correct, as the bead artist would, in its making, have thrown up on it.

The spider's web was more fun. Looking at how a spider builds its web was fascinating and there were some nice (no spiders included) tutorials on how to make or draw one. Here’s a quick-and-dirty photo of the piece, with web, sans spider:

 Another piece that I can remember letting lie around involved a gorgeous polymer clay cab I bought from Chris Kapono at Mandarin Moon designs. I wanted to do it justice and intended to make it the center of a piece of bead embroidery. I sketched a few designs and even began stitching the border around the cab but I didn't like it and decided to let it lie. It did so for a good two years, becoming a familiar part of the Bead Room d├ęcor.

Then one day the solution popped into my head: this is what you need to do. I drew a sketch and traced it onto the felt and I finished it in days. Here it is:

So, lying around can be a good thing!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Drawer of Unfinished Projects (DOUP)

Some beaders may throw up their hands when a piece isn't working, step away from it, come back, rip it apart and start over - sometimes more than once until they get something they can live with.

I'm not much of a rip-it-up and start over sort of beader. I tend to doggedly continue on a piece even when it isn't working out in the hope that I'll be pleasantly surprised at the end. Also, I hate to waste beads and my time. Uhm, wait a minute, I think I just belied myself.

At any rate, all beaders have a drawer (OK, drawers) full of unfinished projects. Sadly, hardly any project I put in there ever makes it out to become a finished piece. I'm not sure why. Probably because they all bear the burden of way too much time spent on them for not enough return. Maybe as I get older I realize I don’t want to be found dead in my bead room with a reject in my hands. Time gets pretty tyrannical as we use it up.

But I came to realize that my DOUP functions as the bead equivalent of a diary:  Oh yeah, I was really interested in that stitch at one time - look what I was trying to do with it. These projects are stepping stones in my beading education and for that I treasure them. They show me where I've come from and how I got here.

There is another class of unfinished projects that are in bead limbo.  I haven't consigned them to the DOUP, but I'm not that interested in working on them. Yet they still have a faint glamour of possibility that makes me keep them Out Here in the bead room.  Some have been sitting out for years but do eventually get finished.  Others are elaborate projects by some of my favorite bead designers that involve making multiple, varied components and are victims of Enough, Already!  Syndrome, where I spend hours and hours of beading something and, just when the light really is at the end of the tunnel, I lose interest. Why do I do this? Only a few more hours are needed, finish it!  Then you can wear it!  But alas, perversity will have its way.

I think this is the mentality of someone who has a different day job than beading. Mood and whim are the attraction and bane of beading for fun.  I know there are a whole host of other banes and attractions if you bead for a living, but that’s someone else’s post to write.

Here’s one piece that will probably never be completed as I don’t do much bead looming any more. It’s been useful as it is for when I do presentations about beadwork to groups – a ready-made example of a work in progress. Forever and ever.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bead Mash Up:  Ellad2, meet Sabine Lippert

One of the great things about learning beadwork is the availability of so many cool bead patterns to try.  It is one thing to buy a finished piece of jewelry, but quite another to see it and long to make one yourself.  This is the lust beaders know well:  How did she make that? Can I make that?  Often, once you get the pattern, you smack your head and say – “of course! It’s so elegantly simple!”  Though frequently the pattern is elegant but not simple and then you are even more impressed, though sometimes also frustrated and, occasionally, weary.

Two designers who never disappoint (as my bank balance will attest) are Sabine Lippert of trytobead and Ella of Ellad2. They have a great feel for design and construction where beads are involved and I learn a lot from making their patterns.

Sabine Lippert's "Radiant Wheel” pendant appeared in the June/July 2013 issue of Beadwork. The pattern can be found here.  The component involved beading a bezel, or sheath, around a crystal pointed-back stone and using several of these components to stud a beaded wheel base. It gives the look of a gathered beaded ribbon flowing over and under the crystal settings.

I liked the little stud components and hit upon using them as part of another artist's pattern I was working on, Ellad2's "Anais" brooch, which you can find here.

I found that the studs could lie in a flat row as well as fit around a circle, and they formed a fancy bail on which to hang the pendant. This happens a lot when you consume bead patterns like candy. You get to know a pattern or a component well enough that you start thinking about how it would work with something else.

Here is the result. The Twin bead chain is my own design.