Friday, 21 February 2014

Back to the bead challenges (part 2)

Following on from the 'Famous Painting' challenge, I thought I'd make an effort and complete a piece for the 'Read and Bead' challenge that the OTTBS spin off Facebook group had going. The deadline was 6th February, but the books were set way back in November to allow time for the reading as well as the beading!

I like to choose an unfamiliar book rather than one I have already read for these challenges, so I went for 'A Discovery of Witches' by Deborah Harkness. This is a paranormal romance with historical aspects, and was fun to read. The beading aspect was a little harder, partly because there were many different themes and settings.

In the end, I settled on making a pendant based on the hero Matthew's pilgrim's ampulla. Looking these up on the internet showed them to be variable in shape, but in general having 2 'handles' which could be used as hanging loops. In the book, Matthew's pendant is shaped like a coffin and has an embossed scene of Lazarus rising from the dead, but that level of detail was not going to be achievable without scaling the piece up too much to be wearable. Instead I used the coffin shape, and then embellished it with different aspects of the story. It is surprising how much you can fit into a small space!

Here is the finished piece:

The lampwork heart is for the love between the witch Diana and the vampire Matthew. The brown bugles represent Matthews distinctive spicy scent which I interpreted as cinnamon sticks, and the leaves are the contrasting herbal fragrance of Diana. A goblet (or possibly grail) holds a cross for Matthew's Crusader past. The contrast of matte and shiny metallic beads is to symbolise past and present. The pendant is embroidered on grey Nicole's Bead Backing, and backed with ultrasuede then strung on silver cord and ribbon for the scene in the book where Diana flies up from the oubliette.

Using non-pictorial inspiration has been a good exercise for me, as usually I'm very visually inspired. I recommend the process for a different take on beading...

Monday, 10 February 2014

Back to the bead challenges (part I)

Well it has been a while, again mostly because I have been beading more, I have been blogging less!
I decided to just go with the flow and not beat myself up about it!
I wanted to keep trying challenges and have made a few pieces already in 2014. The opening Monthly Challenge on Operation Tackle That Bead Stash was to make a piece inspired by a famous painting. I decided to use a button I had bought (not from a bead store or from an online specialist, but from the good old department store haberdashery selection.) It looked like a Poppy central part to me (with my botanist side coming through) so I chose the painting Oriental Poppies by the American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, which she produced in 1928, but which, like much of her work, looks remarkably undated.

I decided that rather than bead 'a' poppy inspired by the work I would use one of 'the' poppies in the picture, and (without photo-reproducing it) see if I could paint with beads to achieve something similar to the original.

Disclaimer: I am not trained in art past the age of 13 at school, and do not count actual painting amongst my skills! I drew a shape somewhat like the one in the painting on a piece of Nicole's Bead Backing in red.
Then I realised that I would need to somehow accommodate the integral glass shank of the button in the centre, but that in order to have it flush, it would end up protruding through the back. Hmmmm....OK I cut a donut shape in bead backing to backfill the button, and glued it in, this time I used black. I also cut a wiggly black shape and glued that to the centre of the red, being sparing with the glue as I wanted to be able to sew through it to secure it. Then I cut a small hole in the centre and glued down the button, With the double layer of bead backing I accommodated the shank pretty much completely. Then I let everything set overnight.

Because I wanted to 'paint' with beads I realised that most of the project would need to be executed in size 15s, and fortunately I had a good number of shades on hand due to an unfinished project involving poppy jasper. I spread out a little pile of each and began:

First I fringed round the button with matte black, just straight fringe, nothing too fancy. Then I began the petals and as I did I began blending the bead piles into mini soups, trying for a tone similar to the painting. Sometimes I beaded in a radial pattern, sometimes I let them flow in a circular manner, taking the cues from the painting which I had on my screen. Somewhat surprisingly I discovered I needed a lot more orange than I thought, for the highlights on petal edges, I did use some size 11s as I didn't have quite the right colour in 15s. you can see them below in the bottom petal. I used a mix of silverlined, transparent (since the foundation was coloured) semi-frosted silverlined, and matte finishes.

I trimmed off the foundation at the end, and waited a few days before finishing it as a brooch using black ultrasuede and a brickstitch edging in 11s to tidy it up. Although it is large, it is quite wearable, and I am very fond of it, and I'm glad I didn't let negative school art reports hold me back!

If you'd like to see what other participants in the challenge made, here is a link to the OTTBS January 2014 challenge reveal. A truly challenging challenge, but great inspiration, I shall be browsing galleries for more works to 'paint in beads'