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Thursday, December 31, 2009


Yippee! Not only did I really enjoy the process of creating this necklace, for the "Carpe Beadum" contest, I won $100 worth of semi-precious beads, a $25 gift certificate to the 1 Stop Bead Shop in Ohio, and a $50 gift certificate at Good River Gallery. I can't wait to play with my goodies!

I loved the focal bead (lampwork by Hannah Rosner) when I saw its photo, and even more in person when the kit arrived. The supporting beads were top quality (1 Stop Bead Shop) and a great color selection. I decided the shiny finish on the focal bead demanded other shiny beads, so set aside the Toho Copper Gold Iris Metallic Matte for future use. I think I used everything else in the kit as I worked.

I thought the shape of the focal bead and its depth would require weight and dimension in the necklace, so imagined a group of netted ropes. The color in the focal transitioned from a deep indigo, through lavender, gold and hints of green, to ivory, and reminded me on ink spilled on parchment. I decided to make three ropes to re-create the ombre color shift.

To organize the ropes, and create an accent place for the Swarovski crystal and the remaining lampwork spacers, I stitched peyote spacer bars with three thru-holes to organize the ropes, and then began the ropes themselves, making many samples before finding the perfect blends of color to emulate the focal bead ombre. I also realized I wanted a more delicate rope at the center of the piece and a more substantial one at the sides and back, so changed the sizes of beads from 11 and 8 to 15 and 11, hence MORE samples were needed.
When I finished the 24k rose gold spacer bars, I fringed them, and thought the result looked like squid in movement. This reinforced the name I had in mind for the piece, "INK."
The weaving of each rope was done from back to center front with a Russian spiral weave, and the fewest changes of thread possible. The accent section has seven thread passes, from the step down to three beads at the end of the rope, through the bar and accent beads to three loose beads that were the basis of the smaller central rope, and back. This required much sampling and planning to place the "squid" with the spacing and angles I had in mind.
The center tassel was created by fringing circular flat peyote, and the vermiel bead caps added a final elegance. Simple earrings finished the project.
And those matte metallic beads? They have found homes in two other pieces, this one in my etsy shop, Purple Majesty:

and also here on one of my work-in-progress trays, with these gorgeous Swarovski Arctic Ice rectangles, waiting for a bit more time and idea maturation to be completed:

Maybe those lovely beady winnings will work their way into the finished product!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sewing Club Revisited

When I was a young child, my mother belonged to a Sewing Club. The group met one evening a month, in each others homes, to spend time sewing and talking and having dessert. Mom always brought home some edible tidbit for me for the morning after. I thought it must be SO wonderful to be a grownup and participate in such delights!

Now, I am a mother, and instead of a Sewing Club I find my self part of several delightful groups of beaders. I belong to the Upper Midwest Bead Society , Etsy Beadweavers , and am occasionally invited to bead with a group of friends who all worked (at various times) at my favorite bead store, The Bead Monkey in Minneapolis. And my impression as a child of the wonder of comraderie and friendship that grows around shared interest was correct. It is indeed wonderful to have people who share your joys and concerns to talk to, and from whom to seek advice.

Kerrie Slade wrote a lovely blog post about the joys of being part of a "big crafty circle" of online artisans. As a part of that post, she passed on to my humble blog the "Superior Scribbler" award. I am so pleased! :o) Membership does have its privileges, although I am not in the same class, scribbler skill wise! I had to learn a whole new link skill to create this post. Thank you for the gentle shove Kerrie. Part of the recipient's duty is to pass on the award to five worthy recipients, so these are my choices:
Dax Designs by Glenda
Mamma Foxan by Olga

If you want to play along, the rules are as follows;

* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 bloggy friends.

* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.

*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List - that way, we'll be able to keep up to date on everyone who receives the award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

OK. I have done my part. Now if you want to play along, it's your turn!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When Worlds Collide

This is a beadweaver's blog, but my day job requires the making of jewelry too. It's an entirely different process and product. Beadweaving for me is about detail and delicacy. About things that are deeply complex and require tremendous time, patience and intense observation to design, create, and even to fully appreciate as an observer.

But in my day job, I am a costume designer, creating competition clothing for ballroom dancers. Their jewelry must have an exceptionally "blingy" first impression, as the primary purpose of ballroom dance wear is to get the wearer seen, and to emphasize and and extend the dancer's movement. I have just finished a gown for a client that relies entirely on its jewelry for visual impact, which is unusual, and most often, the gown istself has a minimum of 30 - 50 gross of rhinestones on its surface. I thought it would be fun to share it with you, and compare the two worlds. This is my lovely client Randee, in her new Latin gown, with necklace, bracelet, earrings and a small brooch at the hip.
Here's a closeup of the necklace, taken on my dressform. I find that the crystals I use for ballroom purposes must be mirror backed in the interest of maximum dazzle for dollar. I've done a couple necklaces for my dancewear clients with huge Swarovski rounds and bicones, but even with AB finishes, they simply do not compare to the mirror backed pieces from even a short distance. You'd think rivolis would be a perfect solution, and I do use rivolis, but the flat backed, sew-on version. And yet I rarely actually sew them on. The sew holes provide great additional grab for my adhesive, which seeps into the hole and makes the application very secure.

Another reason not to sew is time and cost. When a dancer spends a few thousand dollars on a gown, the jewelry cannot also cost a few thousand dollars, so I am always working to keep time to a minimum and result at a maximum. The money needs to go into the materials, and labor needs to be efficient.

Part of the labor cost is in the design and fitting of the ultrasuede base to which the jewels are glued. It must fit perfectly, allow the dancer to move without moving much itself, maintain it's shape through intense exercise, and be immune to perspirtaion. It must be supple, and protect the dancer from the sharp edges of the crystals, but must not stretch out or change shape in use. Sometimes, the necklaces, armbands, and earrings are glued to the body with eyelash adhesive or toupee tape, so the back of the jewelry must provide for that option as well. I start the process in craft paper, cutting in ultrasuede after I am sure I have a perfect fit, and then I check it for movement, before permanently applying the crystals.

I love what I do, and especially the realtionships with my wonderful clients. A huge thank you to Randee, dancing here in another of the Latin gowns I have created for her, for letting me use her photos in my blog.