Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Beautiful Friend Cathy

On my birthday, my friend Cathy called me in the morning to wish me a happy day. I told her I was going to a bead sale, and since she too is a beader, I asked if she'd like to come along. She agreed to meet me and have a bite to eat in celebration. It was the day I bought the beads for "Chapeau De Peche," so she was in on the project from the beginning.

When I finished the hat, a couple of my wonderful Etsy Beadweaver friends mentioned wanting to see the hat on a person, and I could think of no one better than Cathy. She has beautifully shiny, sleek ebony hair, which I thought would contrast nicely with the pale beads of the hat, and lovely balanced features, fantastic skin and teeth... the perfect model. So, here's Cathy, in the final product!

Then, yesterday, she brought her charming husband Bill to my costume studio to begin the process of creating a new ballroom suit for him. Cathy has wonderful taste and a great sense of style, and I really enjoy her input, both on the costumes I make for her and on Bill's behalf. While my tailor Michele was measuring Bill, I pointed out my newest finished necklace to Cathy. I always have my most recent piece on display in my studio, and as a fellow beader, Cathy is a great audience, and always has a useful comment. This time, she fell in love. I had not even priced the piece, but she knew she wanted it, and today, it is hers. I do have to make her a shorter neckstrap, as she's a slim girl, so while it's still in my posession, she agreed to let me show it off. Most Excellent Teenager had tentatively named the piece "Mold." My tailor Michele suggested "Lichen," but I'll let Cathy give it it's final name. I love knowing she'll own it. I am very fond of it, and am so glad it's going to a good home. Here it is!

I think it's gonna look even better on her than the hat did! Aren't friends wonderful?

Monday, September 14, 2009

It IS!

Chapeau de Peche??
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?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Habaneros Hideway

The Best Man Ever and Most Excellent Teenager are very fond of spicy food, and take it upon themselves each year to plant a few peppers. When the growing season is over they dry their harvest and ask me to string their crops (I am a jewelry maker, after all, weaving things together with a needle and thread is one of my skills) which then decorate the kitchen. This insures they will have plenty of heat to torture me with over the icy Minnesota winter. This year, I have jumped the harvest a bit, and done my weaving a little early, in honor of the Etsy Beadweavers September Challenge theme, Indian Summer Dreams.

This weaving replaces my original idea, "Fuschia Profusion." Gardens here seem to be alive with fuschia flowers in late summer, and my own personal one is somewhat overgrown; less well-tended due to the time I am spending at the beading counter. I thought to capture that sense of lush excess with a necklace, and was pleased with the result pictured here. This necklace was purchased in my costume studio by a lovely woman who came in to try on ballroom gowns. I was thrilled to sell the piece to someone I could plainly see loved it, but sad to lose my challenge piece!

But then, in my favorite local bead shop, The Bead Monkey, I discovered some funky carved coral peppers. They were wonderful, some neatly symmetrical and perfect and others scarred and twisted, just like the ones in my garden. Hence, the birth of my second September challenge piece, "Pepper Profusion." Same lush leafyness, and obviously bountiful harvest as the original, and but, for me, a bit more autumnal in feeling. I guess it's the difference between early and late Indian Summer Dreams! Compare for yourself. And be sure to check out our EBW team blog on the 9th when voting opens. It's a great theme and there are many wonderful entries to examine and consider. I'll remind you when it's time!