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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blame it on Marcia DeCoster

It really IS her fault!  In the fall of 2012, Marcia DeCoster, internationally famous beader, jewelry designer, teacher, and author of many fantastic beading books, contacted me to ask if I would be a part of her book "Marcia DeCoster Presents."  If you read my blog, or know me at all, you can imagine my surprise and my concerns. (Did you mean ME?  I am just a hobby beader you know...) But I was so honored and thrilled to be asked that I said "YES!  PLEASE!".  This was, for me, a substantial undertaking, including photography classes, a fancy lens for my camera, and trying to write responses to her fantastic interview questions that came from my heart.  Once all the work was done, I didn't give it much thought until the book appeared in my mailbox last month. It is awesome, and I highly recommend it!  I am ashamed to admit that the first thing I did was to find my own pages and ogle the pictures and read my words.  The pictures were OK!  And the words rang true...

But my words raised a question.  I wrote "My day job is designing costumes, but I try to keep my beadwork separate from that.  Using fabric would be logical, but my desire for separation keeps my beadwork fiber-free..."  This struck me as an outdated idea.  Originally, I kept the two worlds separate because I didn't want to be tempted by the beadwork that I love to do, when there is WORK to be done.  But in my many years of beading, I have always managed to do my work first, and bead second.  So maybe it was time ro re-examine that separation!

The Etsy Beadweavers 2014 February challenge theme is "Warmth."  Early on, Chris Boyer Maj produced a piece of beadwork inspired by crazy quilting, and I found it very thought-provolking and inspiring.  I love quilting and combining quilting techniques with clothing.  Here's a little reversible vest I made in college, which my sister returned to me when I was cleaning out my mother's house after her death.
Although the fabric itself is pre-quilted, and a print that represents crazy quilting, I created the details: the reversability, the welt and patch pockets that work together from both sides, the corded velvet edge, the cross-stitch detailing... and so forth.  I began to think how I might apply this to beadwork.  I wanted to make something that would actually be warm, inspired by warm handmade quilts, and the random fun of crazy quilting, which uses whatever you happen to have in your scrap box and lots of embellishment with bits of lace, and embroidery stitches.  I resolved (in the spirit of the thing) to go through my scrap boxes and purchase nothing I did not already own to create my collar.  I found lots of good stuff, patterned a snug warm collar and made a start, somewhere around January 20th.

Now, I really had very little time, and I was playing loose and fast, so I did NO planning. I know this the modus operandi of many bead embroidery buffs, but I never do my best work without at least a little forethought.  I had purchased a piece of shibori dyed ribbon I had planned to use with some Crystal Astral Pink sew-on jewels I had left over from a costume project, so they were added to the pile.  I cut out a simple collar shape with a snug neck (warm being a proirity!) and started basting on ribbon and lace bits.  Before I even had it all on, I started beading the lace.  I regret my haste now, as the bit of embroidery I am least pleased with ended up front and center and my favorites do not play starring roles, but I will write this up to research and development for future projects.

One thing I absolutely love is beading into lace.  I have done so in the past, and this time I really let myself see what the potential of a piece of lace might be, depending on what is revealed and what is hidden.  In the past, I have entirely hidden the lace, but this time I decided, fiber is my friend, and I let it shine.  Here are two examples of what I mean.
The above flower is made from the same bit of lace as the one below...

...just embellished differently with different parts covered and revealed, and surrounded by different bits of other supporting lace.  Loved this!!  I really love trapunto, which is a sort of quilting that is stuffed, and the lace provides great stuffing and dimension for the beadwork.  I also used trapunto technique with my shibori ribbon, stitching it down, stuffing it, and then, quilting into it with drop beads, which I also loved!

I created rivers of the ribbon, that coursed through the work, sometimes bridged with lace and beadwork, and sometimes, almost laying over edges of the beadwork. Finally, I quilted my silk base fabric with beads.

And there are the sew-on jewels I mentioned!

This photo also features the ONLY thing I went out to buy.  I didn't have an elastic cord the right size to fill the corded gold edge, and I do not count that as cheating, since it is not visible.  You may if you like!

I had hoped to create some sort of fancy button loop or bound hole, but I just ran out of time, and finished the piece with hidden snap closures.

I gave it a test wearing.  EVERY DAY this winter has been SO FREAKING COLD that I didn't have to be choosy about the day.  My collar was toasty and comfy and I cannot wait to try again.  This time with several technical improvements in mind, and a less crazy mood for the work.  Yummy!  Thanks so much Marcia DeCoster... because it really is your fault, you know.

In a late afternoon sun beam, in the kitchen... warmth indeed!