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Monday, November 29, 2010

With a Name Like Haute Ice...

 It seems obvious that I would love bling and icy sparkle.  The fact that I grew up in Montana and live in Minnesota where winter lasts a long time and is filled with ice and snow probablly figures into the equation as well.   I think it's beautiful here all year 'round, but I am especially fond of winter.  (And fall!  Oh wait, spring and summer are really great too...)  I think most of my work is landscape or botanical in style and I am finishing a new piece for the December Etsy Beadweavers challenge that, once again, fits my norm.  Or at least I am trying to finish it!

I have complained about shipping from Fire Mountain Gems in this blog in the past, and yet, I continue to order from them (they were the only place I found the 3mm Jet Nut bicones I needed) and I fail to upgrade my shipping because their least expensive option always sounds like it will serve my purposes. I need to reconsider that.  Maybe I will write in big red letters on my FMG catalog SHIP VIA FASTEST METHOD!!! 

In any case, having all the beads from the project sitting on my beading bench, (with no way to proceed without the missing bicones) encouraged me to make some supporting items for the necklace.  I rarely make bracelets, but I had a fantastic time with this one, and I think I will maybe have to make some more of these kinds of "flat work" beadweavings.  I can see loads of room for precision and improvement, but the scale and invention was just plain fun!

The challenge for this month, chosen by Olga is "Simon and Garfunkel - Songs of Inspiration" and the task is to pick a favorite song and capture it in beads.  I chose A Hazy Shade of Winter.  Although I love the poetry, the title and the musical tone of the piece was the primary inspiration for my work here.

The necklace features the essence of what I see outside my window today.  Shimmering, pearly grey cloudy skies, through the lace of bare, dark branches.  So much subtle color in those branches!  Deep blues, browns, steely grays.  Patches of snow and icicles dangling everywhere, because it warms up and then freezes again so often this time of year.  A little wistful, and maybe a touch depressing, but beautiful.

The FedEx truck was at my house this afternoon, and I was thrilled!!!  I am so glad to have my day job back under control and to find time to bead and blog again!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fairy Tales DO Come True

I am pleased to announce that my chickens have hatched.  Cafesjian Gallery, international art dealer and gallery owner, has purchased "January Dawn."  It was such an amazing thing to contemplate that I really couldn't bring myself to completely believe it until I sent the invoice off and spoke with agent Ben, who will visit my studio to pick up the piece.  I have learned since my last post on the subject, "Don't Count Your Chickens..." that other beaded jewelry from the Minnesota State Fair Art Exhibit was also purchased for this collection, and I am thrilled for those artists as well. 

I have already discussed the inspiration for this work in the post "Which One?" but I had process photos and wanted to preserve them, as well as my three months and about 70 hours of effort, here in my blog.  Additionally, I will take this opportunity to share my final photographic efforts.  I'll start with a quick inspiration recap.

On January 13th, 2010, the dawn's orchid glow revealed hoar frost covering the landscape with breathtaking, spikey crystals of ice.  I took photos and resolved to create a necklace to honor the beauty of the morning.  In May, it was announced that my Etsy Beadweavers Team June challenge would be themed "Phenomenon" and I had the perfect subject!  I started work but quickly realized the overall project was too large and labor intensive to complete in less than a month, given my limited art time each day.

I wanted the piece to be soft and wearable.  Combining the spiky branch idea with a technique that afforded comfort and flexibility to the wearer took a while to work out. I used tubular peyote stitch in size 11 glossy white delicas to cover soft, clear plastic tubing, increasing and creating branch joins as necessary.  This required working out (with good advice from friends) a means to create a branch without pinching the join like this one.  My original idea called for overlapping branches, but I gave that up to maintain a low profile and the soft drape, letting all my branches just lay next to each other.
I worked along on the piece until mid June, when my friend Hannah asked to see how it was going.  I pinned all the components together and sent her a photo.  This was great, because it forced me to see how far I had come and how far there was yet to go.  I had all the branches begun, and about half of the Swarovski rivolis bezeled, and had just started the "frosting."  Taking progress photos often tells me more about my work than the hyper-focusing I do while working on the components. At this point, I decided the drusy teardrop did not belong in the work.  It felt heavy and earthbound to me, and although the necklace was substantial, I wanted it to be light and airy in feeling. 

Finally, by the end of June, all the branches were finished, and all the rivolis I planned to use were bezeled and I was ready to assemble them.  I concluded it would be most efficient to frost each rivoli separately, and then weave them into position, and then finally, frost the branches as a last step.  It was an interesting challenge to keep my thread from catching and tangling on the completed frost, especially as I neared the end of the project.  I found I could tell the thread where to go if I kept my intention clear all the way through each needle stroke.  I visited my elderly mother at the end of July, and the last bit of frosting was completed in her Helena, Montana living room, using a familiar TV tray (circa 1960's) as my beading bench.

"January Dawn" has been on exhibit at the Textile Center of Minnesota library for the last two months, and I have had it with me for a week for photography, which is just incredibly difficult for me.  I think white beadweaving poses unique challenges.  Here are a few new photos, which I hope capture the the essence of the work.  If you have suggestions, please let me know quick, while I can still have a new go at it!

I've added this last one to let you see how bad my struggle with black ground has been!