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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Persephone's Return

Persephone's Return was created for (and WON!) the Bead Mavens Vernal Visions Challenge.   I like challenges because they provide inspiration and purpose for my evening's play with beads, and this particular challenge was especially appealing, because I live in the frozen north land of Minnesota.  Here's the view out the door next to my beading bay.  This is on track to be the snowiest winter on record where I live, and personally, although I find beauty in almost every landscape, I have had enough of this season!

Below is the inspirational image the Maven's posted for their contest.  Is there any question about why I'd rather live in their world?  I find myself anxiously awaiting a day when the walk with my dog does not entail long underwear, hooded parka, scarf and boots.  I felt the Maven's imagery provided a content and a color scheme I was totally ready to embrace.    
Well, OK, in all fairness, there were two images provided.  March is the month of, "In like a lion, out like and lamb," and the other image is colder and wintery.  But I am ready to move forward, and so it was an easy choice for me.

This work of mine is a sister piece to "Zephyr's Spring Flower Neck Lace," created last year, about this same time.  It is based on a piece of hand painted lace from Etsy seller Jennie's Heirlooms.  I find working from the lace is a labor intensive process.  I think most bead embroidery allows the application of many beads at a time, backstitching 3, 4, and even 5 in one needle stroke.  Given the softness and vulnerability of the lace, I find I can apply just one bead at a time, stabilizing the lace as I go, and placing the beads in different relationships to the edges of the lace, depending on the result I want.  When you examine the work from the front, I did not want the lace visible, and from the back, I did not want stitches visible. I found I frequently had to reinforce the lace with a darning stitch to give it the stability to allow me to embroider on it, and I tried to disguise that as well, but if you know what you are looking for, you can see it. 

As a sister piece to Zephyr, and to honor the Vernal Equinox and return of springtime, I named the work for Persephone, the Greek goddess of springtime. Persephone was the unwilling wife of Hades, king of the underworld. Mythology says when she was stolen from the earth to live under ground with her husband, the flora of the earth died, and slept below the ground through the winter. Her return brought the rapid growth of flowers and grain.

My piece, designed to honor the balance that is the equinox, has formal symmetry, yet is organic in character. The delicate loveliness of Persephone’s Return springs forth from the slumbering earth in full bloom almost overnight.  I anxiously await the vision of the first crocus, peeking out of the snow.   And in the meantime, I have captured that joy in beads.

Monday, March 7, 2011

After a Long Silence...

Finally, a new post and a new piece.  I spent all of January and most of February pursuing a project that I was simply unable to realize in the way I thought should be possible.  I eventuallly set aside my fourth attempt, took the hundreds of dollars worth of pearls I had purchased for the "IP," ( impossible project) and decided I would enter the March Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, "Fashion Through the Ages."  I purposefully used the biggest and best of the pearls, so I could not revisit "IP" without re-investing. 

The March Challenge was to choose a historial fashion style and create a piece of jewelry in that style.  I found this beautiful painting by Victorian artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter very inspiring.  I loved the bare necks and beautiful soft shoulders and wanted to create a pearl choker with a three dimensional feeling that would embellish all that lovely bare skin from all angles.
I used triangle weave, one of my personal favorite stitches, to create the choker, and then added drops all the way around the base, so that there would be something beautiful to see from the sides and back, as well as the front.  This is my second attempt, and I was glad to start again after nearly finishing the first time, because it allowed me a opportunity to perfect the design, which had potential, but needed cleaning up.
Then I visited my favorite local bead store, The Bead Monkey and found this splendid sterling silver clasp, shaped like a little heart.  I was thinking my piece would be a great wedding necklace, and the clasp seemed perfect for that purpose, as well as continuing my "beautiful from all angles" idea.  And then of course, it needed a little extender chain.  I tend to design jewelry with my own skinny neck in mind, and like to make it possible for others to adjust the work to fit without alterations to the weaving.

On a side note, I just read about the tiara likely to be worn by Kate Middleton when she becomes a British Princess and, in the process, stumbled across this photo of a necklace worn by Queen Mary, with one of the tiaras under consideration.  According to Wikipedia, the neckalce is from Garrards, Inc, "Crown Jeweller of the UK, charged with the upkeep of the British Crown Jewels, from 1843 to 2007."  Very similar to my own attempt, but made of silver.  Wonder if the stiff, cold metal would be uncomfortable?  Too bad they didn't beadweave this piece!  Take a look.  The design inspiration must have been very similar to my own!

Fortunately, stepping away from the "IP" has been refreshing, and I am happily working on another new piece as well.  Maybe someday, I will revisit "IP," and by that time, I will either have a more realistic expectation, or the techincal skill to reach my goal.  Do you ever get stuck?

Let me add a note here: this is a contest entry, and you can choose your favorite piece and have your voice heard!  Please visit by March 15th and vote for your favorite entry on the right hand side of the blog in the poll!!!