Thursday, May 25, 2017

Overdoing It

One of the hardest things for any artist to learn is knowing when to stop. It’s especially hard for beaders because we like to lay embellishment on with a trowel.  On the other hand, you learn something when you overdo it that is useful for when you try again, which you will inevitably do. After all, for many beaders, if you can bead one of something, why not bead more? Why not bead seven, yes, isn’t seven the most powerfully magical number, wouldn’t seven-- oops, sorry, wandered off into a Harry Potter flashback there. Of course Voldemort didn’t know when to stop either.

Where was I? Oh yes, here’s a design that started out well. Some bead embroidery around a piece of brass filigree I had painted and added a glittery cabochon in its center.

I started with the O beads, spacing them out fairly evenly and had in mind a kind of spreading peacock’s tail, but wound up with this delightful asymmetrical design. I could see this as a necklace with one strap extending from the filigree and another from the adjacent point.

But for some reason I didn’t leave it here, I decided to add beads to create a more even edging which would make it easier to cut out and finish. Here’s the result:

Not quite as interesting as the first draft. The edging smoothed it down a little too much and the filigree looks a bit lost among the seed beads. Though I will note that such might be a desirable effect, depending. Next time around, I’m still going to bead a border that smooths everything out, but I’m going to use black beads. That will give it more shape and drama while still allowing me to cut it out easily.  OK, back to the horcrux drawing board….

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Throwing Beads Against the Wall

I have two beading buddies, Bobbi and Karen. We met when I was teaching beading classes at a local bead shop. The shop closed, but they wanted to bead on, so Bobbi generously offered to host us at her house and we’ve been beading there for well over seven years now.

We have learned each other’s bead crotchets – Bobbi doesn’t like the color purple, Karen doesn’t like freeform beadwork, I don’t like hearts or holiday designs. But we have a lot more things we like in common or we wouldn’t have stayed together this long. 

Our beading sessions tend to follow a certain rhythm– someone will propose a project and if the other two say yes, then we go for it. Karen is an ace bead pattern sleuth, finding amazing designs in a variety of foreign languages or interesting online blogs, websites, Facebook, you name it.

Pattern in hand, we get together and there ensues much discussion (i.e. wailing, ritually consigning to the flames, and celebration) of our color choices, the quality of the directions, and other beady topics. Then as we get to work the muttering and moaning starts up and before too long Bobbi announces she’s going to throw her piece against the wall if the beads don’t start behaving.

Curses fly, and much laughter and eventually Bobbi brings out some fabulous dessert for us to fall on like starving, well, like starving beaders. Beads and food, oddly enough, go very well together.

And eventually, though it may take a while, we arrive at: “hey I like this project!”  And the sun blazes forth and music fills the spheres and all is contentment.  Until the next project and we start this all over again.  There’s nothing more satisfying then hanging out with others who share your passion. We speak the same beady language, we have a level of mastery so that we can tackle all kinds of projects, and we love playing show and tell.

Karen and Bobbi – here’s to you!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beading Down Memory Lane: The Garden Gate Bag

For the first seven or eight years in my beading life, in the decade of the 1990s, I taught myself from the pages of books and magazines. As Bead and Button began to carry ads I entered a new and exciting phase in my beading life - finding bead shops, bead shows and bead classes. One of these in my area was Forestheart Studio down in Thurmont MD, where Mary Klotz presided over a triple delight of beads, fibers and glass.

It was there I took my first beading class with Delinda Amura, making her "Beyond the Gate" bag. As soon as I saw the photo advertising the class I had to have it (a reaction that was to recur with a generally exciting but also financially debilitating frequency).

It was interesting to take a class where everyone was teaching and learning about beading. Also bead gossip - some of the students were from the livelier, more active Washington DC beading scene. And Delinda was great fun: patient, with a great laugh, and her work! She was at the time doing passementerie that simply stunned me. Today one can find amazing, intricate work at the press of the "Go" search button but back then such eye candy was scarce.

Her pattern, which I still have, was mostly text, something I suspect would not work so well today, though I go back and forth on the text/images balance in creating bead patterns.

She recommended we bead with silk thread and, for a number of years after, that was my thread of choice. However, the piece fell apart after a while because of it, which gave me the opportunity to make it again (which should surprise none of us in the beading world) and fix the mistakes.

So here it is with the clever fence posts and twining blooms.  

  I feel fortunate that Delinda's was the first beading class I ever took.