February 24, 2014

Good vs Evil: it's not always black and white.

Sometimes I am conflicted: should I read or should I bead? I love them both, but often one seems like a distraction from the other. Balance has never been my strong suit.  This is why I love the "Read & Bead" challenges presented by my online beading group. We get to do both, with purpose!

Generally, we have several books to choose from, and this time I had no idea what any of them were about. So I chose the one that was apparently humorous.  The book is called "Witches Abroad" by Terry Pratchett. Never heard of him before, but he's written a LOT of books.  He's a British writer, in the vein of Douglas Adams and Monty Python. So the reading part was rollicking good fun. But then came the beading part. I can't believe how hard it was to decide what to do!  I guess I should go easy on myself: my brain is still terribly distracted. But it surprised me anyway.

Eventually I distilled the crazy story down to the concept of Good vs Evil, and the twisting winding way in which each of the Fairy Godmothers thought SHE was the good one. Black and white beads presented themselves, a double-spiral stitch seemed to fit the bill, and I sprinkled in a few gold beads to represent the royalty in the story and brighten up the piece.

They don't all have to be epic creations. This one worked for this particular moment in time, and I'm happy with it.


February 10, 2014

You Never Know….

We've all heard or experienced those stories about tiny insignificant events or decisions that lead in new and incredible directions. Like turning left or right when exploring your new city, which can lead to a neighborhood that determines so much about your future life, and that of your children.

One of these unforeseeable chains happened to me last year. Remember last January when I wrote about going to Boston for our nephew's Bar Mitzvah?  I wrote this:
Jan 19, 2013    Lexington, MA       Tonight was one of those unplanned delights. Three of us went down to hang out in the hotel lobby. As other guests who attended today's Bar Mitzvah came and went, they saw us and joined. Then Gershon's sister brought over some leftover food from the party, and someone ordered out pizza. The group got bigger and louder, several of us broke out the beads, while others played chess, and we all played Jewish Geography. We stayed till after midnight - talking, laughing, eating, drinking, sharing FB pages... what a blast!
Well, I met a fellow beader that night who led me to a beading group on Facebook. I never dreamed that going to a Bar Mitzvah in Boston would revive my beading life, but it did!  The beading group is a large, diverse group of beaders who live all over the world. They are a very active group, with several beading challenges going at all times. Everyone posts pictures of things they're working on, learning, teaching, or have completed. There is an incredible wealth of information there, encouraging each other to learn new techniques, discover new materials, and expand the limits of our creative comfort zones. It has also led to several other groups, and even got me to learn a totally new (to me) beading genre.

I've done more beading this past year than I have in a long time. Or at least it feels like it, because a lot of what I've done is new and inspired, rather than just aiming for sales.  The most recent piece I completed was for a challenge to create something based on a famous painting. I chose Monet's Water Lilies series  This bracelet was my opportunity to try the Shibori ribbon which is such a hot-happening trend right now, and also the first time I've ever used sequins!  Without this challenge, I never would have thought of doing this.

I've been posting some of the other challenges as the year progressed. Here are more projects this online world has inspired me to do.

"My Heart of Hearts" necklace.
I made the two beaded hearts from Nancy Dale's Sweetheart Solitaire pattern. The resin heart on the left I purchased from an online charity fundraiser, and was made by artist Shai Williams. The little bronze heart has been in my stash forever, and finally found a home.  

 I've been learning Kumihimo, an ancient Japanese braiding art form. It's fascinating to be a newbie again. But I had some success with this 4-color braid and bead-bezeled stone pendant.

Kumihimo rope with two kinds of cord on each strand. Fused glass pendant is by Portland glass artist Eddy Shuldman.

This was my first attempt to add beads to Kumihimo. They have very big holes, so I could fit the thicker satin cord through them. I only had 16 beads on hand, so that's all I used!

"Jungle Love" freeform peyote necklace.  
This is what I was starting to work on during our trip to Boston. It's the most ambitious freeform piece I've done to-date.

I've been doing Spiral Rope for many years, but this year I learned how to do Double Spiral
and Triple Spiral.

Experimentations with Herringbone stitch, inspired by the "I Can Herringbone" challenge.

After learning Cubic Right-Angle-Weave (CRAW), this idea popped into my head:

Tutorials from Nancy Dale: "Runway" bracelet and
"Sweetheart Solitaire" pendants.

"Verticals" bracelet pattern by Sabine Lippert is an incredible creation of Right Angle Weave. Her color scheme (below) is perfect, and someone suggested that I try another palette using silver (left). I love them both.

 Two color palettes for the "Catherine Bangle" from Jane Lock's book "The Art of Beadweaving." Instead of a closed bangle, I added a hidden magnet clasp. Also I modified the structure of the CRAW so it wouldn't stand up so high. Size 8/o and 11/o seed beads, with 3mm crystals. I love this bracelet, and have already chosen colors for my next one.