I was excited to be included in the Baubles and Beads Design Team challenge this month. The very awesome thing about getting a package of beads in the mail that I didn't choose is being pushed to think outside my comfort zone. In this case, I was absolutely and completely lost. Everything was very cool, but my mind was completely blank, blank as blank can be. I had no road map, lost my way, and had no directions. "Go forth and create!" they said. Well, OK then!
To remind you, these are the components Baubles and Beads sent to me:
A very eclectic mix! Hmm. Well, I rarely work in gold tones. And I'm not a geometric sort of gal, either, so the pyramid squares and circle grid blew my mind a little (who knew the power of beads?). I loved the fall colors of the Chinese knotting cord, and the brass hex beads and Swarovski pearls are elements I love. I love Czech glass, particularly when it's in a cool shape like the royal blue ovals, and the bronze leather strap was something I haven't seen anywhere else. And then a roll of wire. Wire, I adore. Not as much as pie. But I do like wire. (More on that in a minute).
I made three pieces using almost everything in the package.
The first piece involved the circle grid. I lay in bed one day and thought, "I could embroider that." And so I did. For the longest time, the embroidered circle sat on my work bench, taunting me. I wanted so much to use it in a bracelet, but every design I tried made me twitch. "Not. Right." Giving up on an idea is horribly difficult for me (VERY Type A here -- no, really?) but I gave in without giving up and dug into trays and bins and created this:
I used the raw brass connector and wove two colors of the Chinese knotting cord through the frame AFTER I lightly sanded the edges of the grid. Raw brass can sometimes have a sharper edge in places, so use a small flat file and lightly file in only one direction before using.
I also used the bronze Swarovski crystal pearls, and the brass hex beads provided me. (I absolutely LOVE those hex beads.) From my stash, I added a lampwork bead, a couple of leaf beads, dyed jade that matched the cording, and chain in a matte finish. I intentionally mixed the raw brass with oxidized brass for a subtle color shift.
Then the brain took another holiday and I thought about the scalloped collar stamping. I really wanted to design the HECK out of that thing, but all of my ideas required a lot of risk.
One idea required a significant style change (say hey steampunk). While I own tons of watch pieces and rivets and such, I have absolutely ZERO experience with steampunk, and if I started punching holes and messed up -- well woops, there goes my piece. Then I thought about etching, but I quickly realized that while I've done that once (in a class), I didn't want to practice with ammonia or ferric acid or any of that sort of thing and once again, risk not only messing up my piece but blowing something up.
I did a sketch and came up with this idea, but the metal is thick, I didn't have the right saw blades, and AGAIN -- cut into the metal, screw it up, buh bye project. But it's a cool idea and I will have to buy some of the collars and try it anyway at a later date.
So I asked Zack. I flipped the piece across the table and said, "What's that?" and without a second thought he said, "A tiara."
OMG this is SO my kid, because I have to admit -- the first time I looked at that piece, *I* immediately thought, "tiara". So tiara it must be.
I still had that embroidered circle -- could I use it?
Meh. If I could have etched the brass or seed beaded it or something impressive, maybe. But I wasn't coming up with anything impressive at ALL and I really, really wanted to do something different. Lying in bed, watching a movie, my brain must have realigned itself, because I suddenly had it -- buttons. While searching for buttons, I found some fabric and glitter and things just started coming together.
A little more about the filing.... I applied the Modge Podge Matte one night, and it was dry the next day. I had planned to tear off the excess paper as I wanted some of the oxidized brass to show here and there around the edges. In some places, though, the Modge Podge wasn't quite dry enough so the paper just would NOT cooperate. Using the file, though, I was able to neatly remove the paper quick as quick.
As for the German glass glitter, it is a very very fine powder glitter, so I recommend wearing gloves if you're going to do a lot of manipulating. This type of glitter is ground-up glass, and if you get it under your fingernails, it can cut. Get it in your eyes, you can scratch a retina. Get it on the cat , and you just have a confused although decorative cat who won't feel like licking himself for a while.
The final result:
I have to say this is my favorite piece. I used vintage mother of pearl and vintage crystal buttons, and a couple of Swarovski crystal flat backs and hot-glued that bad boy together. There are SO many people who do this vintage style MUCH much better (like my friend Diane Cook), but I'm still rather happy.
If I keep on and make this a tiara, it's going to need combs wired on or satin elastic or .... something. And after I made it this far, I thought it looked pretty good flipped upside down as a neck piece, so I may finish it up with some tiny rhinestone chain and pearls. Zack was very proud of me, which matters the most.
The last piece used the blue vintage-style Czech glass beads, the hex beads, and the Swarovski pearls again:
I used two lampwork beads from my stash and used the hex beads as end caps and added texture with the Swarovski glass pearls and a brass bird charm. This style comes naturally to me -- I actually made it yesterday while talking to a friend and she was surprised I got it all together as quickly as I did. Go me!
There you have it -- done, done, and done! I'm proud I didn't give up, I'm proud that I didn't beg off sick, and I'm proud that I did stretch myself. Thanks to Baubles and Beads for their contribution of goodies!
Tomorrow I'll be posting what I made with the goodies sent to me by the folks at Baubles and Beads -- yep, I actually made not just one but three things (almost all done today, in fact)! I can't believe it myself, either.
Above is a tease of what I used on one piece. Vintage book pages, vintage mother of pearl and crystal buttons, and German glass glitter.
I was utterly shocked to be selected to participate in the Baubles and Beads Design Team. I put my name out there and then never expected to be picked.
We were all sent the same collections of beads from the Baubles and Beads online store and were tasked with making something with them. The goodies are shown below:
I love challenges when they make me go "uh oh" and this one certainly did. I'm lousy with brass. I love the Chinese cording, but don't know what to do with it. I'm most comfortable with the pearls, beads, and wire, but I have to push myself, right? This weekend I hope to get cracking. I had an idea while lying in bed the other night, but when I took this photo, I realized, one wrong cut and you and screwed the whole thing up.
Just looking at that list of designers who excel in their work, many who make their own components or just are one with anything they pick up, has me nervous, like the girl who somehow ended up at the cool kids' table and is faaaaaking it, hoping she can keep up.
Yup, that's me. I feel like I've been faking it a LOT this year and well, that's OK. All I can do is my best, and I'm proud to be in the company of these women and proud to be trusted with the components from Baubles and Beads.