Monday, March 5, 2012

A Visit to the Emerald Isle

When the "Destinations" theme was chosen and announced by Jacquie Champion of Etsy Beadweavers, I immediately thought of Ireland.  I am a quarter Irish, and although I am a dreadful traveler, frequently completely undone by motion sickness, if I could go anywhere in the world, Ireland would be my choice.   Add to that, I usually like to make jewelry that suits my mood, and I am always longing for green when March finds Minnesota.   And with St. Patrick's day the big holiday in the month, happening right after our challenge, the deal was sealed.  Shamrocks, shillelaghs, and leprechaun gold!


I was also inspired by a book I was reading, The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice. My travel is frequently done in my imagination through books. I knew my necklace would be emerald green for Ireland's beautiful rolling hills and clover, bumpy for the famous buckthorn walking (and fighting!) sticks, and gold, to represent end-of-the-rainbow treasure.  In this book, a Brazilian emerald necklace, vintage late 1600's, is acquired and passed down through 13 generations of female designees to the Mayfair Legacy, and its description became part of my design imagery as well.  It had a heavy gold chain, and ornate gold setting.  So my necklace also represents the "Mayfair Emerald," as well as Ireland.  The Mayfair necklace had only one, large rectangular jewel, but I added more jewels and other shapes.

I began with bezels for the beautiful rectangle and triangle Swarovski emerald jewels, and the amazing vintage effect squares I got from my friend Doris Coghill at BeadsbyDee.  In all fairness, much of the magic in the necklace is in the beautiful color in those squares.  I bezeled the jewels in gradated rows of greens in teal, emerald, grass, and peridot.  This is pretty subtle color use, and you may not have consciously noticed it at first glance, but I think this kind of detail really makes a huge difference in the final product, and provides added dimension for the bezel, since the darker, cooler colors recede from the eye and the lighter ones advance toward it.

 I did the same sort of thing with the gold beads that I used.  My 15/0 beads are Miyuki 24k gold plate, a deep rich gold. The 11/0 are labeled 4202 Duracoat, (pet peeve! a label that does not tell me what bead I have bought!!!) and also fairly dark and rich.  The 8/0 beads are Toho PF557 Gold Galvanized, which I don't usually like to use because the durability is questionable, (despite the "permanent finish" advertised) but I needed gold beads, and these are what is available.  My personal body chemistry does not strip metal from beads, but I know I am in a minority. The point here is, the bigger beads are a lighter shade of gold than the smaller ones.  This provides lots of added depth and dimension, which may not be noticable without having attention called to it.  See how the beads closer to the bezel are darker?  They really increase visual depth.  Well, that, plus the negative space I left open there, and of course, the bezel ombre, helps too.



I was stuck on my frame for a long time.  I added a simple picot.


Then I closed it for stability and to create substance and size, and then I was stuck for a while.


Finally, I began to embellish the frame, aiming for both "bumpy" like the blackthorn Shillelaghs, and "heavy" from my book. The first row thickened the frame, and began adding bumps, which I wanted to look something like granulation.


Then, I added a netted picot through that layer.


And finally, I felt good about my goals of evoking Ireland, ornate, bumpy, granulation, and late 17th century, portrayed in beads. Then I began a quest for "heavy gold chain" that would still represent all the above characteristics, and relate to the framework I had already created.  I tried spiral, flat spiral, double spiral, embellished RAW, cubic RAW, tried to work out what cubic triangle weave might be (which was pure disaster!) and finally resorted to double stitched flat triangle weave.  I used moss green power pro, and although you can't see it so well in the photos, in person, it lends a kind of antique verdegris shadow to the work, which felt just right to me.


Then I laid out my components and began linking them with the triangle weave chain.  I considered a shamrock configuration, but felt it would be too literal, not pleasing to the eye, plus it denied the vintage jewelry quality I was trying to create.


I desperately wanted to add fringe, but in looking at jewelry from the late 1600's and early 1700's,  I saw few fringy components, so managed to restrain myself this time.  But those emerald faceted drops I bought are bound to show up in my work in the near future.  They are just too good to pass over permanently.

Being obsessive compulsive, I also had to finish the backs of my bezels.


Then I went shopping for a clasp and I must say, I have been spoiled by the fantastic Elegant Elements clasps I have put on my last three projects. Mind you, this clasp is good on the piece, but as I mentioned, I am spoiled!!!  Usually, when I piece is done, I hate to back up, but I would gladly rip this one back for an Elegant Elements clasp.  I've lost the link to the collection, but maybe I'll ask Steven if he's interested.  Neither of my two favorite local bead shops carries Elegant Elements clasps.  SAD!!!



37 comments:

  1. Hello:-)
    Very adequate way of celebrating the St.Patrick's Day:-)
    I've been to Ireland,as I live closer:-)
    Beautiful country and very friendly people there and what's more:In my all dreams and daily thoughts Ireland has always been for me the first place in the world,where all the world's music was born.I adore the irish sound.I also have the Irish friend,who's a very ggod and well known musician.
    Coming back to Your necklace...it's hard to say whatever if people have all their words of admiration somewhere deep in their hearts,but this,what they see is so breathtaking,that no single word,even of the highest beauty can come so easily...
    I can only say:it includes all the human's fragility on beauty,the best colors of all dreams.It's really magical.
    Warm Hugs-Halinka-

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    1. Halinka, Magical is such a beautiful aspiration. Thank you for reading and for you kind comment! -Marsha

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  2. Wow!Fantastic beadwork, I love itvery much!!!

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    1. Thank you very much, Szikati. The encouragement is appreciated! -Marsha

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  3. Oh so gorgeous, Marsha! Wooooooo!!!!! I love seeing your progression, and thank you so much for sharing how you went about the inspiration -to - beadwork - through to completion, it is so exciting to see how the process works for other artists!! This is just stunning!! It truly feels very old world to me, I think you captured what you were looking for perfectly!

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  4. Nancy, thank you. Praise from those we admire really is so heart-warming. I have been asked for a tutorial, and I'm going to give that a shot in my "spare" time. LOL! Your success with your "Labyrinth" tutorial gives me a model, motivation, and hope too!

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Triz. Like I said to Nancy, when an encouraging word comes from those we admire, it really feels great. I love the online sharing that beaders do. It's just great to have the opportunity to see what so many talented people are doing and be influenced by so much quality and exciting work.

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  6. Oh my god :-) Fantastic beadwork!!! Thank you very much!
    Zdenka

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  7. As usual that is simply beautiful.

    Your use of color is inspiring. Thank you so much for providing all the detail of your design. (By the way, I have a clover design in the piece I am working on.)

    Finally, thanks for showing the back. I always want to see the back. It is beautifully finished which to me is a sure sign of quality and attention to detail.

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    1. Oh dear! I surely didn't mean to say that a clover design was a bad idea, just that it didn't suit my purposes. There was a beadwoven shamrock necklace on Etsy for a while that I really liked. I hope I didn't offend, and I look forward to seeing yours! Eek! :o) Thank you for your kind words. -M

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    2. Oh no, I didn't even mean to hint at something like that. I just thought I would tell you that it worked for me in my current piece. I actually tested about six different patterns before choosing the clover design. The clover design worked best with the coral it is being paired with. In other words, I completely understand choosing between competing design ideas.

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    3. Oh good! I sure didn't mean to offend! :o)

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  8. I loved this piece as soon as I first saw it! Love at first sight...
    It's so nice to see how you did it, I must admit, I could not have figured it out on my own! And I love your inspiration. I remember I did read the Witching Hour years ago and I loved it too!

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    1. I read it years ago as well. I had the old paperback on my bookshelf on a cold day in January when it was too cold to go to the library! Thank you Kinga.

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  9. I love this, Marsha! What a beautiful combination of bead colors and finishes. Your attention to detail and shading is one of the things that makes your work so outstanding.

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  10. This is really a breathtaking necklace, Marsha! Everything comes together in appropriateness for the challenge theme, and also personal meaning for you. It's wonderful that you've shared your design insights with us. Your work is always gloriously imagined and beautifully constructed!

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  11. Betty and Callie, thank you. I am so pleased, proud, and inspired by being a part of this huge internet-based beading support group. I appreciate your friendship, your expertise, your talent, and you attention to my humble work! Goes for every one of you!

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    1. I had to use google translate to read this, but then I visited your blog, and I could read the jist of it. I speak a little Deutsch, so I am thinking you are Dutch, maybe? Your work is very haute couture! Thanks for visiting and for your comment!

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    2. This is so inspiring for me! Filling in the backs really is impressive. I have to say I'm still honing my skills on this and this makes me realize I need a lot of practice! I would love to know how this is done - peyote stitch?

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    3. Hi Louannie,
      I did use peyote stitch to close the backs of my bezels, but you can also use netting. Probably other stitches too, but those are the ones I have used personally. :o) You just decrease at corners on geometric shapes as necessary. Netting is the best bet for round or oval shapes. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  13. This is so miraculous. Anyone wearing it would instantly feel like an Irish Princess. You always do such incredible, inspiring work!

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  14. Very nice and just in time for St Patricks day. Your blog is wonderful and your art beautiful.
    Nicole/Beadwright

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    1. Thanks so much Nicole! And may I just say your bead backing is wonderful? It's my favorite backing for bead embroidery!

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  15. I so love this piece Marsha - Green is so my favourite colour of all time and I am a gold rather than a silver person too. Loved reading about the creation of this piece too. Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Marsha,
    The Witching Hour is probably my all time favorite Anne Rice novel, so I just adore the inspiration for this Emerald necklace! And you definitely captured the mystique and elegance in this piece...it is stunningly gorgeous!

    I read that book at least 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years or so and seeing this necklace and reading all about it's creation takes me right back into the story...I might have to read it again now!

    I love your work and how much you share of your inspiration and creative process here in your blog. You really draw the reader into your personal experience/relationship with your beadwork...so thank you for sharing!

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  17. Thanks so much Vimala! I am currently reading "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" by Gregory Maguire, and I am astonished at his insights about what it means to "see like an artist." He is refering to drawing and painting, but I am working on a piece with crocus flowers and amazed by what I don't see until I wonder why my work does not look more like the real thing, and then look again. :o)

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  18. Greetings Marsha,
    Wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing the stitches.
    -Eva Maria

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  19. I can't take my eyes off this necklace ~ it's just so beautiful and full of color and texture. I especially appreciate your blog explaining how this piece developed. I've been making very small beaded pieces and have dozens of unfinished creations waiting for inspiration. It's encouraging to hear that some of the best artists don't create their pieces in one uninterrupted session!

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    1. I almost never go from idea to end without a little sitting or being stuck and sometimes, I have to back way up in order to move ahead again. Thank you for reading and for your kind comments!

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