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Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Amur Maple" - Exploring Component Connections

Amur Maple Necklace
Sometimes, something outside is just so beautiful!  There is a little tree in my neighborhood, an Amur Maple, that has beautiful color each fall.  It's primary color is nearly indefinable.  Somewhere between cerise, claret, and burgundy, with hints of rust, and it has touches of creamy gold here and there.
Here's a closer look!

When I went the Gem and Lapidary Workers Show a couple weeks ago here in Minneapolis, I found at my favorite cabochon supplier, a "Cherry Creek Jasper" which reminded my of the glorious color in this tree.  I bought some ovals and tiny rounds and could not wait to play with them!

I have developed a passion for Miyuki 24k Gold Delicas.  I had some Dark Gold Rainbow, and they brought a beautiful bronzy rust to the color palette.  I bezeled everything and played around with embellishments.

I decided that I wanted to feature the beautiful stones, and also, wanted to continue playing with connections between components, with those shapes playing a starring role in the piece, so removed all the picots and began to connect the elements.

Oh, and one step back, when thinking about a neck strap, I remembered my "spoils of war." Going to "war" in the Battle of the Beadsmith brought an AWESOME set of dog tags to my home as a token of participation.  Along with the tags were some wonderful 6mm Czech brass tile beads.  I got them out and played with them until they looked a bit antique, and wove up two straps.  You can see the progression of my design, step by step from right to left, with a change in each generation, until the final one, which became the strap. Oh, those fantastic 6/0 beads are Czech too, I've been saving them for something special, and this seemed the right time!
I attached them to check the drape of my connections, and to be able to see how the strap and the focal piece worked together.  I am really interested in an airy look to my beadwork, and negative space that creates lovely shapes.  But once the strap was in place, I decided that some of the connections needed amplification to work effectively with the substantial strap.  So, with a stronger edge in mind...
The black background really helps focus the negative spaces and the improved relationship to the neck strap through the added connections at the edges and between strap and focal piece.
I am not going to list this piece in my Etsy shop right away, for two reasons.  First, I really like the thing, and maybe I don't want to sell it!  And secondly, I have to take good photos of many of my pieces for an upcoming project, and I don't want it to sell until I have it carefully archived.  So, on to the camera work!   One final glance, and then, off to clean my beading counter, and walk the doggie.  Happy beading to you!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By The Dawn's Early Light

Dawn's Early Light
I enjoy being a member of the Etsy Beadweavers team, and the best thing about the Beadweavers (aside from the wonderful, world-wide beady friends I have made there!) is the monthly challenge opportunity. Not only is there inspiration provided, but a deadline encourages work to be completed, photographed, and listed for sale.

This month's theme was "Misty Winter's Dawn" and I found it very inspiring.  I wondered if I'd feel like creating winter in the midst of my favorite season, but I got into it and loved it.  The fact that acorns are falling like rain here helps! In Minnesota, that is always an indicator of an early winter fast approaching.

I began with Swarovski rivolis, in Light Sapphire, Rose, and Rose Champagne, and bezeled them in 24k blue gold Miyuki delicas.  I wanted to make tiny stars of the rivoli's, and play down the sparkle factor while featuring the amazing blue gold bead bezels.

I kept the centers of each component clean and simple, and added pearls and magatamas as texture and density at the edges.  I wanted an impression of stars winking out as the sunrise begins to color the sky.  I muted and narrowed the colorway to keep the results soft and misty.  I rarely use grays, or silver, so this was a true challenge for me.

I also ran into a mathematical challenge.  Since I wanted to feature a star shape in the center of each component, there could only be numbers of beads in each bezel that would be evenly divided twice by two.  So, 24,12,6, the smallest stars, 32,16,8, the medium stars, and 40,20,10, the largest star.  But I had purchased 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18mm rivolis.  So, I had to cheat repeatedly with technical control of tension to make this work.  Yeeks!  Much of what you see here is structural netting.  The rivoli's are only about half of the width of the component in each case.  Here's a peek at the back, which gives a better sense of how where the rivoli stops and the structure begins.

I also wanted the piece to have an organic, natural quality.  I found that in my stick pearl tassles.  For me, the sticks look like newly bare branches, glistening in the dewy dawn. 

Fringe detail

This piece grew as it developed.   I had created a piece with linked rivolis earlier this summer in a hex pattern, which was supple and flexible, and I loved the feel of it.  I wanted to explore what other shapes would be stable as negative spaces.  I found that each opening I created required structural support from its neighbors and that the strength and suppleness of the whole was very dependent on the ingtegrity of each connection.  I want to explore this further in the future!

Early assembly detail, which really emphasizes the negative spaces and connections, before I finished the star picots.

 Please visit our Etsy Beadweavers Team blog and view my teams beautiful work and varied interpretations of "Misty Winter's Dawn."  Please choose your personal favorite from the array, and give it your vote on confidence in the right hand column.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So Much!

I have been a neglectful blogger this summer, and find there are several things I should address before I move on to new work. 

First, I want to mention the Battle of the Beadsmith, still going on as I write.  We are down to three "semi-finalists" and there is a final battle yet to come.  I managed to get into the top 20, but my "Missing" lost the battle with this splendid "Armadillo Blossom Purse" by Mikki Ferrugiaro.

It was structurally complex and elegant, featured beautiful color and unusual details (Butt hairs?  That really made me smile!) all of which came together to to make a spirited and beautiful bit of beaded art.  I am super fond of the tail/strap... I love it's connection to the bag and artful way it contrives to be the strap.  I also think that the title of artwork should help me understand how to see it, and "Armadillo Blossom" is super descriptive!

Congratulations to Mikki!

The final battle is scheduled to begin next week, so stay tuned and check it out.  For participating, each artist was given dog tags.  I LOVE this!  Battle of the Beadsmith has been a fantastic celebration of beaded art, and I look forward to next year's battle!

I remember that I was thinking about my work as a sort of "demonstration of competency," the kind of thing that might have been required a few hundred years ago to get into a professional guild.  I can't claim I made a masterpiece, BUT,  I managed to complete my work in the midst of personal chaos.  It was not exactly what I planned to make, but I am trememdously proud of the results!

"Missing," honoring the absence of my mother in my life, with her death in June.
Moving on...

When I arrived back in Minneapolis after over a month of my mother's funeral and the cleaning out of her house in preparation for sale, I needed some theraputic beading to do.  I chose some Aquamarine nuggets and chips, and participated in the Etsy Beadweavers "Lunar Obsession" challenge.  I visited a bead shop I had not been in before, J Ring Glass, and the Aquamarine just seemed to fall into my basket for purchase. I highly reccommend this shop, by the way.  I believe they have the BEST SELECTION OF SEMI-PRECIOUS BEADS in the Twin Cities. I later looked up the metaphysical properties of Aquamarine:

     "Aquamarine stones are beautiful crystals that heighten courage... and aid clear communication with the Divine source of all that is.
     They have strong metaphysical properties that help you to let go of old emotional issues you may be holding on to. By assisting you to release anger and reduce stress... it may help you to make positive changes in your life.
     These lovely stones help to heighten your courage when you are handling grief, and are powerful to assist self healing."

They were the perfect thing to be fondling in August!  Here's the result of that bead therapy.

"If Crystals were Craters, and Turquoise, Blue Cheese"
With the Aquamarine, a few tiny turquoise chips, and a little Swarovski Crystal, I embroidered four moon phases, and then created a interchangable system of three neck straps, each with a unique and interesting clasp.

Waning Gibbous Moon

Full Moon
Waxing Crescent
And my personal favorite the Quarter Moon.
Conveniently, August 2012 contained an official Blue Moon, a rare occurrence with two full moons in a month, which make the Aquamarine doubly effective! 
These little pieces were excellent and inexpensive therapy; a perfect anodyne for dragging 940 pounds of wine boxes, bottles, and magazines (belonging to my sister, and filling, literally, my mother's lower level) to the Helena recycling plant.  I'd love to show you pictures... but I think that might count as slander... or maybe libel.  I'm never sure which is which.  Or maybe, defamation of character?  Well, whatever the really good reason, I will just not do that. 
With all that behind me, I was ready to pick up my needle seriously again, for the Beadweaver's October challenge, "Misty Winter's Dawn."  You can see the results in my next post.