I was feeling pretty smug as I finished the focal for my Etsy Beadweavers February Challenge piece at the beginning of January. I was nearly done a month early! I would not be the last one to post my work. I would not be struggling to finish on the last day as I sometimes am. And in light of my day job schedule thus far for 2010, this is a wonderful thing, as I am ridiculously, wonderfully busy! But I digress.
My son and husband are fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and watched all three on consecutive nights over the holidays, while I was working on my challenge piece focal, made from a beautiful split ammonite. Although I don't watch movies while I bead, I do listen, and I became enamored of the Calypso legend woven through the trilogy. Calypso is the Goddess of the Sea, captured in human form as Tia Dalma by the pirates. She is an exotic and amazing character, and I found her very inspiring. I decided that my piece would be "Calypso's Valentine" to honor both the ocean challenge theme and Valentine's Day, which falls during the voting. I wanted my ammonites to represent Davy Jones' heart, which he "carves out" in sorrow because he cannot have his love, Calypso. Tia Dalma also touches a necklace in one scene, which has a face, which led me to wanting the focal to very subtly echo the bearded face of Davy Jones. So the pearl fringe I added to my ammonite pair creates both a heart shape, and subtle nose, mouth, and beard, with the swirls of the ammonites representing eyes and brows.
I also added a barnacle texture to the edges of the piece. I wanted it to look ancient, and as though it might have been in the ocean for hundreds or thousands of years. With the focal finished, it was time to think about the neckstrap.
And this is where my trouble began. I initially thought the strap should be netting, as though the heart were captured in a fisherman's net, another oceanic image. So I made a little net sample. But it was stripey, and I although I love the 24k matte gold cylinders I used in the bezel, they felt wrong to me in the strap. A little too light in color, and lacking in substance, but the net idea was still promising.
So, I tried again, with darker beads and made a big effort to get it to look more like fisherman's netting, while still belonging visually to the focal. And I liked this one better, but I thought maybe it ought to have pearls, to tie it more effectively to pearl fringe.
I made a third sample, using pearls at the junction points in the net, but I didn't like it at all, ripped it apart, and did it again with large beads on both sides of the pearls, to separate the netting after it left the pearls. But somehow, it got busy. Maybe the big beads next to the pearls were too much texture. By this time, netting was beginning to annoy me.
I still liked the pearls, but maybe not in netting, so I tried a quick sample of simple pearl spiral stitch, and that was pleasing, but I missed the darn netting. So here I am, nearly two weeks later, sweating the small stuff. It's what obsessive-compulsives like me do. We are passionate about details, but sometimes we can get a little crazy, and I think that's where I am just now. I didn't bead at all last night, which is pretty rare for me. It's usually my evening's entertainment. But I think after having taken pictures, and written all this down, I might just be able to get back to the bench and make some decisions about how to finish. If you have ideas, feel free to make me a sample or two!!!