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Sunday, January 22, 2012

If Everyone Else Jumped Off a Bridge...

...would you jump off too?  I have asked my son this question a few times, and the right answer is "Of course not, Mom."  But I just jumped.  When I started work on my second piece for the Beadsmith Elegant Elements Clasp Project, I told myself it would be a bracelet.  Why?  Because it seemed to me that EVERYONE ELSE had made a fabulous bracelet and I really had to just DO IT.

I am really not a bracelet maker.  Part of the reason maybe is, I don't wear bracelets because they get in the way when I work.  And I seem to design jewelry I personally would want to own.
Another part is maybe because my wrist is teensy, and a bracelet that I might be able to enjoy would not proportionately (or size wise) fit anyone else on the planet.  Well, ok, maybe a few people, but we are talking a tiny minority here.

So, in a pressure situation, where I am trying to design to feature a lovely clasp, and trying to keep up with the other amazing designers in this group, (mostly who do this for a living, while I am really a hobbyist) I decide I will do something I have minimal experience with.  But really, what is life without a little challenge and bite, I ask you?

Given the floral aspect of the clasp, I thought there should be a flower quality to the design.  And I really loved the structure of the flower.  I thought it looked very tropical, and hibiscus-like.  So first, I tried a hibiscus flower with peyote and netting.  And while I really liked the first part of the structure and the over and under-lapping petals, I didn't love the netting, or the colors I chose, which were too sweet to be elegant.  I might come back to this idea one day.  But it also seemed kinda literal, and the clasp was stylized and more a flower symbol that an actual flower.

It also seemed flat.  And while the clasp is flat, there is a depth to it and the beautiful use of negative space was compelling.

So, I thought I'd try to make a more 3D symbolic version of the petals, with inside and outside curves that represented the shapes in the clasp, which might be assembled in some interesting way.

These were kinda cool too, but TOO dimensional.  And still not a color I thought was very elegant.  And the clasp is elegant.  For sure.

So then I thought I might try some wacky cut-out bead embroidery, using shapes from the clasp.  After I selected my clasps, they got lost in the mail.  So the sweet and concerned Steven Weiss sent them to me again.  And of course, as soon as the replacements arrived, the original shipment appeared.  I thought I had two of the little flower clasps and that this bracelet would be able to employ both.  But then I opened the box and realized that what I had was not the flower clasp, but a different one in silver and purple, plus, I had filled in and ripped out a swirly motif on my bracelet in three different ways, and I didn't like any of them, so I set that idea aside as well.

I find I often need to simplify when I am stuck, so I tried a simple woven version of the golden flower, and also tried embellishing it, but this was back to too literal.  Sheesh.

Finally I went to my personal favorite stitch, triangle weave, thinking if I had to travel in the foreign land of bracelets, I could at least speak a language I understood.  And triangle weave is happy to organize itself into six petal flower forms, which was just what I wanted.  Plus, I love olivene Swarovski.  It was a reason to choose the clasp I did, so now I had a familiar traveling companion.

I did the bracelet first in just olivene, but wasn't seeing my flowers as powerfully as I wanted to, so I added in more color, light olivene and olivene 2XAB, plus a few Czech olive bicones as well, just a shade darker than the Swarovski, and of course some gold seeds and Aurum rounds, and finally, I had a bracelet I was pleased with.  Then the task was to find a perfect attachment for the little clasp, that made it look like an inherent part of the design.  I think I got it pretty right!

Just as a side note, I rarely weave with crystal, because I worry about durability, but I used doubled  Power Pro (my favorite thread!) coated with microcrystaline wax, and I find the resulting work supple and sturdy, so maybe I'll do more work with crystals.  They are certainly blingy!

This little bracelet looks like a B&B project to me.  It's essentially very simple, but devilishly tricky to weave the second pass and get all the colors in the right places with the correct number of seeds in between.  I wondered if I had failed to produce an appropriately complex and fabulous design.  BUT, really the task here is to create a reason to want to buy the clasp.  And maybe a simple design that integrates well is a good solution to that problem.   Now to take the perfect photo!