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'


  1. I love seeing the process photos and hearing how you worked through the project to completion. And the completed brooch is lovely!

  2. I loved seeing your creative process!

  3. This is really lovely and inspiring, I never thought of using an actual picture ever! Well done, that was genius.

  4. Have been trying to reply to the lovely comments, thank you so much! I loved the way this developed from a flat piece of red foundation!

  5. This is absolutely fabulous. I thank you so much for using Nicole's BeadBacking. Truly a wonderful piece.