Tuesday, May 15, 2012

To Make a Masterpiece

     When Steven Weiss of Beadsmith contacted me about participating in a invitational beading tournament, I was proud to be included and agreed.  Being a guy, (I think this is adorable!) he set it up just like the College Basketball Championships.  It's a single elimination event, where originally 64 beaders from around the world (and now 80) meet in random pairings.  The two works of each pair are then judged against each other, by the 78 other participating beaders, as well as a select, invited judging panel, which includes two Minnesota beading legends, Diane Fitzgerald and Jean Campbell.  Winning entries in each pairing advance to a new random pairing, until a champion is finally left standing alone.  But along the way, much quality beadwork is viewed, appreciated, admired, discussed, and serves as inspiration to all.  There will also be a public vote oppotunity, so I hope you'll all help us with that!
I am trying to consider it a festival, more than a championship, because if I thought too much about the competition, I expect I would be left a quivering mass of nerves, unable to hold a needle.  Many of my own personal beady heros are among the invitees.  I invite you to join our merry band and watch the fun on Facebook here.  A full list of competors by country, and the rules are available here.  AND, you can see the first round matchups here.  My own first round pairing is with the amazing Eva Dobos of Hungary. You can check out her wonderful work in her Etsy Shop, or on her blog. She does lushly textural work and uses color beautifully.  She also effectively combines many sizes and shapes of beads in her work. 

I have very limited beading time.  I work full time making costumes for competitive ballroom dancers by day, an activity that combines dressmaking and beading, but done with glue instead of thread.


     And this is my busiest of seasons, given the largest competition in Minneapolis is always the first weekend after the 4th of July.  Battle of the Beadsmith entries are due on July 10th.  YIKES.  So although I am a very serious follower of rules, and waited until last night to begin the actual beading, I gave a great deal of thought to what I might do and why, and ordered parts I thought I would need in preparation for threading my needle and making a start.


     Early on, Steven mentioned the word "masterpiece" in conjunction with his expectations of our work.  I quietly thought, "impossible."  I think of a masterpiece as something that is widely regarded as the high point of a career, and I don't think you can create such a thing on demand.  So I called on Merriam Webster to help me understand how to proceed.  Here's what they said:


1: a work done with extraordinary skill; especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement
2: a piece of work presented to a medieval guild as evidence of qualification for the rank of master
                                                                                                                                         
                                    
     I felt a little better.  I do have some skills, although extraordinary is a BIG word I didn't linger on.  Apparently, this would not be a good time to try new stitches, or something I don't have a good handle on, skill-wise.  Supreme achievement.  I don't know about that, but managing to stay on schedule and finish this work (and all my day job work) on time will be a definite Supreme Achievement.  So, check.
     I love the second definition.  Something that has always bothered my a bit in the beady world is, there are no teaching qualifications.  Everything else I have taught requires a specific education and a test to prove you know what you are doing, before you tell someone else how to do it.  So maybe, assuming my piece works out to be something I am proud of, it's like evidence of qualification.  I've been contemplating writing tutorials, and have begun to receive requests along those lines.  So... maybe this will be a push in that direction, although I don't expect it to transform me into any version of a beading "master."
     But, WHAT TO MAKE???   A rather big deal has been made of many countries represented in this festival.  There are more beaders from the USA than anywhere else, but I think I am the only one from Minnesota.  So, my plan is to represent my state with my work.  I had to think a bit about what my own strengths are, and what form my work usually takes.  I concluded my strength is primarily landscape and botanical art.  So, Minnesota is a gloriously beautiful place, and the beauty of my surroundings should be an appropriate theme for me.
 
     Plus, I thought the piece should be seasonally appropriate.  And here in Minneapolis, when this Beadsmith Battle gets underway on the 10th of July, we have our own festival, called Aquatennial.  It's a celebration of  summer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and I love this year's skipper pin.  Looks like a color scheme to me!
     So I have ordered some supplies that look like water, and the braid on an Admiral's uniform.


     I am surrounded by inspiration, and I have begun my process of representing the beauty of my home, in all it's summery glory. 
Best of luck to all participants!  I cannot wait to see what everyone creates!

14 comments:

  1. It's awesome to get a sneak peak at your materials Marsha, also what a great idea to represent your home in a world wide challenge like this. I love it! I like how you described the tournament as well, it's definitely intimidating, but really such and honor too, and fun. The idea of the master piece elevating the apprentice to a master in the medieval guild is such an image: the masterpiece was viewed by all the masters of the guild and the apprentice had to spend long years in his field before he can submit the masterpiece, and oftentimes it was rejected! In our case we are all winners, and part of winning is just being in this group of incredibly talented artists. Can't wait to see you finished masterpiece and good luck!

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  2. *pulling out soap box* sorry...

    I am not on facebook. I have no intention of being on facebook. I think it is...*kicking soap box away*

    I regret that I am not going to be able to view the wonderful pieces created for this festival. Maybe it is just as well because I would be awful at choosing between artists I admire.

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    1. KJ, I totally understand this! It can insidiously suck away a huge amount of time. Time that could be spent beading. I know and artist I would have recommended for this Battle, but she feels like you do. No Facebook. Period. I will say this. I have met lovely beady friends online, both through Etsy Beadweavers, fB and my blog. Some I have even met in person, after online introduction. I like the fB beading community and find it supportive, and I enjoy seeing what everyone is making. Like a constant stream of inspiration. But I also completely understand your position and support your decision to stay away from fB wholeheartedly. I'll try and post some of the best of the Battle here, with permission of course, from the owners of the work and photos.

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    2. I look forward to seeing what you post.

      A stranger once told me of a conversation that went something like this:
      I hope my new neighbors are nicer than my old neighbors

      Your new neighbors will be just like the old ones.

      Lesson: friends and good people can be found anywhere if you have the right outlook.

      FB is just not for me. LOL it might take away time from the hundreds of blogs I follow!

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  3. Gorgeous colors, and I love your theme! I am so looking forward to seeing what you come up with, you are one of my favorite beaders.

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    1. Thank you Cynthia! I was so blown away by your work with the Elegant Elements clasps! I cannot wait to see what you and everyone else creates. Gotta be some great work for sure!

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  4. You are so busy and yet you found time to blog! Love your colors and can't wait to see what you create. Always love your beadwork!

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    1. Thank you Linda. I love to bead! I find it meditative and relaxing, and I love to write as well, so somehow it's easy to find a little time to do things that give me so much pleasure. I probably should be working at my day job evenings and weekends... but I find I lose my efficiency and perspective on my work when I do that. So, I'm gonna just be really organized for a while!

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  5. gorgeous colours!!! can't wait to see your entry!!! all your pieces ARE masterpieces!!! and I'm sure this one will be just as beautiful!!!

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    1. Thank you Triz! I feel the same way about all YOUR work! What a fun festival of beads!

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  6. Marsha, Your blog post in itself was written with such passion. I really enjoyed reading it. Love your theme and color choice and look forward to seeing your Masterpiece on July 10th. Your beadwork is amazing! For myself, being honored that I was also invited to the tournament have never believed my beadwork at a master level feel humbled and challenged. To me just to have my name in the same list with so many amazing artist like yourself is a honor alone and something I never thought possible. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post of encouragment.

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  7. Gorgeous colors! Its took my breath for a moment, because they so similar to the colors I choose. I wish you luck and joy during the magic moments of beading!

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    1. Ulyana, you are not the first "warrior" to tell me they are using a similar coulor scheme. Enjoy your process! I look forward to seeing what you create!

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