Well, my mystery project has finally agreed to come into being and not one second too soon, as I need to take it to the Upper Midwest Bead Society twentieth anniversary tea this weekend, Sunday, September 20th. Diane Fitzgerald is our Founding Mother, and we have been encouraged to "wear our Sunday Best embellished bonnet" with a prize for "Best in Show."Now, I am NOT a hat girl. I do not have a hat face, and I have Obama ears. No hat has ever looked nice on me. SO I decided right off not to participate in this portion of the event. Then I changed my mind. Why not make a beaded hat? One might not necessarily be required to wear such a thing, and it would still be a means to participate. At first I thought it would be a beaded straw boater, but once I finished what I thought would be the hat band, I decided the weight of the beads would make this idea structurally nearly impossible with out using a stiffening agent, and I didn't want to "cheat" in that way.
All those Costume History classes took me to medieval chapel cap images, and chain maille helmets, but I wanted a more recent reference, so turned to the 1920's when beading and bead embellishment were commonplace. A beaded cloche, a bell-shaped, closely fitting, flapper style hat seemed a great solution and had a wonderful shaping challenge. I wanted the hat to be soft and adaptable to varied head shapes, so netting seemed an appropriate technique. Cloche hats frequently have a button at their top most point and I referenced that with a bit of circular peyote and then charged into the mathematics of creating a bell shaped piece of work that would connect to a 314 bead row band on one end and a 48 bead row circle on the other.
And as I worked on the band, the phrase "peau de peche" popped into my head. Ridiculous for a dressmaker not to have taken French, but I have not, and so I THINK it means "skin of peach," which the hat band resembles. Once it was a cloche, (cloche being yet another French word) then "chapeau" floated into my brain as well. So I think the piece is "Chapeau de Peche."
I am really pleased with the structure and the final product, but less so with the surface embellishment I have done. I may or may not change it for the event, as time is short. But I think I may come back to it one day. My initial thought was passimentary style fabric embellishment, and I made two flowers in that style, but found I could not do the sort of freestyle scrollwork to go with them that is usually passimentary, due to the density of the band and limited choices about where my needle could enter and exit, so I made a couple fabric flowers, bead embellished them and stitched them on. Sadly, this too was not a process I was comfortable with. Usually I pin components on and re-arrange and adjust until I like the results, but pinning on beadwork is not so easy to do, so I finally just started and added, but the result for me is a bit lumpy and undefined... DRAT. I also meant to keep the project monochromatic, but now have stitched and laid on a quick sample leaf in pale green beads and maybe that will be a good solution to my less-than-perfect arrangement. Anybody have any thoughts? Shall I ditch the fabric and use all beads? Introduce more color?