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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zoya Gutina's Fashion Colorworks Contest Dazzles!

Time to come clean.  I have considered entering Zoya Gutina's Fashion Colorworks Contest in the past and it has always looked like a substantial challenge!  This year, I was asked to serve as a judge, and I have nothing but praise for all those plucky beaders who took the challenge.

Contestants are given three groups of the year's top ten colors, as described by Pantone.  Using those color groups, participants may create work in three categories, Seed Bead Jewelry, Finished Jewelry, and Seed Bead Objects.  You can check out the rules and the three color groups here.

Judges are asked to rank entries on five different criteria:  We are given photos of each entry, (an overall shot, and closeups, no models, props, or names allowed) and judge each one with a numeric score between 1 and 10 for each of the criteria, which are:

     1) Use of color.
     2) Composition, originality
     3) Use of techniques
     4) Use of materials
     5) Overall Impression

This is a similar system to what I use myself when judging beadwork, and I find the results very fair.  It does not require comparing apples to oranges, or one style to another, just looking really closely at design elements, and ranking their use.  We rank twice, once to determine finalists, and again for each finalist entry to select winners.  The public is also given an opportunity to rank the finalists, which I think engages observers beautifully in the process.  Another wonderful thing about this contest is that there are MANY winners, both chosen by the judges and public ranking, and by various sponsors, and the prizes for this event are wonderful!

I had some favorites, among the finalists, and was pleased when Zoya asked for commentary.  My thoughts were presented in her fabulous monthly newsletter, along with those of the other judges, and I would like to share them here as well.  There are links to each piece, and if you have not seen these beauties, I hope you will take the time to look at my personal favorites, and enjoy them as much as I did!

I appreciate the words below are small and pale, and you can more easily see them in Zoya's monthly newsletter, (just scroll down below the list of winners) but I will put them here too, just because I really want to honor these brave beaders and their wonderful results in the 2014 Fashion Colorworks Contest!

Beaded Jewelry
In the Beaded Jewelry category, my favorite in the Radiant Orchid colorway was a lovely floral freeform wreath necklace, with a vast array of flower and leaf shapes. The Summer Necklace components were organized like a beautiful bouquet, keeping each hue cleanly visible, in harmonious relationships, and accented perfectly with spare use of the Sand hue. Many petals showed ombre color shifts, creating depth, and inviting the eye into the flowers.
Mirror Danu Necklace, in the Placid Blue group, showed fantastically delicate details, especially in the re-embroidered yoke. The Freesia made a perfect accent in the beaded beads and connections to the maze-like focal piece. Subtle value use throughout the work provided highlights and shadows to make the piece feel organic and alive. It is rich, luscious, and a little mysterious.
Lullaby Necklace was my favorite in the section, and a beautiful interpretation of the mood of the Dazzling Blue colorway. All the shapes in this piece were soothing and comforting, relating gently to each other. I felt wrapped in the lines, like the sweet face cab. Perfectly placed star accents twinkled, and gently gradating pearls lead my eye to the delicate fringe, long enough to have a soothing pendulum sway with a wearer's movement. The work had sympathetic negative spaces, beautifully placed component connections, and technical perfection as well, thanks to clean, flat edges and neat, concise embroidery. I wanted to climb in to this piece, listen to the song, and be rocked to sleep.
Finished Jewelry
In the Finished Jewelry category I was blown away by the soutache work in Aurora Necklace. Symmetry is difficult to accomplish, and the shapes, both positive and negative, in this work are astonishingly precise. Not only are the shapes perfect, they are beautiful, and the subtle texture stitched in Sand between the Orchid layers gives a laced-together look I loved. The added dimension of the top layer with its elegant pearly accents and round shapes is a terrific foil for the points in the under layer, and the clasp ties the layers neatly together. Extraordinary work.
The Song of Siren Set featured loads of texture in the weaving, with great color blending that avoided muddiness with careful placement that added depth to the structures. The repetition of shapes with subtle differences was beautifully done, and the addition of the fringy bits and larger beads at both ends of the work holds the different pieces together, and creates a lovely whole.
I have to honor another work in the Placid Blue colorway in this category as well.Careless Fisherman Ankh-Morpork Set has expertly selected details and great story-telling. The metal trinkets in the embroidery and throughout the work are used with great sensitivity to scale and proportion, and I liked the use of the chain as yoke and drape, adding to the picture without over powering the delicate embroidery. I think in a parure, each piece should stand on its own and combine effortlessly, and I especially like the bracelet/earrings combination.
Beaded Objects and Accessories
Flight of Fancy Handbag is a great example of color control in the face of lush texture; in my opinion, a challenge of the highest degree. I loved the divisions of hue, the related components used differently in each color context, and the rich dimensional beadwoven components. I also loved the variety of different materials, stitches, and skills presented.
The Yellow Submarine Set was a delight! The whimsy of the beaded rivets and cabochon portholes, in conjunction with the realistic ocean detritus and undersea life imagery was well-balanced, and the disparate elements sang together perfectly. The ocean bit looked like cake decoration, and the artist used a varied and rich selection of tips for her bead "pastry bag", creating textures that made me laugh out loud. The inclusion of a key chain in the set was inspired!
The delicate work in the Twilight Flowers Set had for me the quality of a colorized black and white film. The color in the flowers and doily-like cabochon edges sprang visually ahead of the steely grays, demanding attention. It would be a feminine and elegant addition to a little black (or Paloma!) dress.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

For My Friend

This work is a gift for a friend on the occasion of her 70th birthday.  Last year, for my 60th, she honored me with a generous gift certificate to one of my favorite local bead shops.  I wanted to return the favor.

My friend is intelligent, a voracious reader, and loves opera.  She is a mother to feline fur children, currently, a tabby named Holly. She plays bridge, and is a loyal companion.  She owned a cabin in Wisconsin, and that was the part of her that spoke to me, in this design.  Oh, and have I mentioned, she is a private person, and I respect that.  No names.

I wanted to return to my roots, and produce an entirely woven piece for her, and chose this jasper because it feels like a Wintery Wisconsin woods sunset to me.  It is either Cherry (sometimes called Red) Creek Jasper, or maybe Picasso Jasper. I have had it a long time, and do not remember where I bought it.  It has a nice polish, and because of this, I am going to guess, Utah Picasso.  I am fairly sure some of the supporting beads are Cherry Creek from China, judging both by their matte finish, and the not quite perfect drilling that China seems to be famous for.  I chose this stone, both because of its outdoor imagery, and because the beautiful silvery gray in the stone is very close to the color of my friend's hair.

Since as we age, dexterity dimishes, I wanted to make the work easy to wear, and especially, because my friend lives alone, with no one to fasten a lobster claw for her.  I used  hidden magnets to close the back of the necklace.

I created a delicate pair of earrings, as she is a small woman with delicate features.  The bracelet is also closed with a magnetic foldover clasp.

I had to ask her for a wrist measurement, since the oval beads will not lay flat unless the bracelet fits snugly and even though she has said "no gifts" she did oblige me.  I am sure she knows what I am up to, but I hope she will accept my gift in the same way I accepted hers; as an act of love, support, and celebration of life well-lived.  Happy Birthday!