Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

Some days, life seems too big and scary and overwhelming to contemplate. Some days, I worry that I'll never feel like a proper, functional adult. Sometimes, curling up in bed only serves as a reminder of the monsters that lurk underneath.

These are the days when I make rainbows.

I'd been wanting to do something with foil glass for a while, but it's tricky stuff - the hypersaturated colours mean it doesn't combine terribly well with other materials. Yesterday, though, was one of those dark days, so I tipped my entire bag into a bowl just for the joy of looking at them and waited to see whether anything would spark.

Picking out a rainbow sequence was sort of inevitable. True, I didn't have any yellows, but copper-bronze made for a passable orange, and the transition from green to blue to purple to pink to red was beautifully smooth. The only problem was, what to do with the beads once I'd selected them. I wasn't entirely sure I just wanted to string them in line, and while I considered hanging them as a dangle, by the time I'd added spacers it would be prohibitively long. I thought for a long time about picking up a big clear Swarovski pendant and using rainbow sequences for the straps - that's still on my to-do list, but I wasn't sure how I'd attach it and besides, I wanted to get something made that day.

In the end, I looped them into a circle on a long length of tiger-tail, then added opalite accents and strung the straps with haematite rounds before finishing it with a nice shiny silver-plated heart toggle. One strap is slightly longer than the other because of the cut-price second-grade rounds I use, but it still hangs nicely enough. In any case, sometimes the process is more important than the finished result.

Going to wear this one to work this afternoon in case the monsters decide to try and follow me.

Finding my flow...

Whilst I'm really looking forward to this year's Bead Soup Blog Party, I'm still reaping the rewards from last year. Because of the fun I had working with materials I hadn't chosen, I decided that rather than sell the pieces I made, I'd trade them for beads. I've received a lot of absolutely fascinating stuff in return, and now I have my mojo back I've made a start on making use of them.

The purple faceted rounds in this set come from Liz, creator of the webcomic Adrastus, and I fell in love with them the second I saw them. I mean, the shape is fantastic and the purple/white/red colour combination is usual and classic at once - what's not to get excited about? So when I was thinking about a purple piece and rummaging through my beading bag, they were a natural choice. I made the earrings first, intending them to stand alone, but then I decided I liked the combination of the colourful glass and smooth Swarovski pearls too much to just stop there.

I've been experimenting a lot with memory wire chokers lately, largely because I bought a job lot of fifty a few years back for an event that never happened and they've been taking up space ever since. As necklace bases, they carry heavy limitations, mostly because limitations are the only heavy thing they will carry. All-round colour coverage, therefore, requires a lot of seed beads and a certain amount of gritting of teeth.

While I'm not a seed beader in the classic sense, I like to have a decent range in stock for spacers and accents, and nothing hangs quite so nicely or feels quite so tactile as long strings of Delicas double strung on loom thread. Here, I used metallic aubergine faceted Delicas with lilac and red accents to echo the colours of the focals. To stop it getting too monotonous, I used a few more Swarovski pearls for texture. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with the focals, but by the time I got close to the centre it felt obvious - I do like the 3-3-3 symmetry of it, though.

I knew how I wanted to complete the set long before I finished the necklace - I knew the conventional third part would be a bracelet, but something about the colour combination and the lines seemed to beg for a hair accessory. I can really visualise the silver-plated comb tucked into an elegant up-do or a dark, curly bob. This time, I accompanied the focal and pearls with some of the pretty crystal rondelles that came with the focals for a little extra sparkle.

All in all, it made for a fun afternoon's work, and I'm really starting to feel like a designer again.

Post-bead-declutter head declutter

So, the de-clutter has been completed, at least to the point where I can access everything I want again. I have two big bags of stuff ready for Ebay or donation whenever I can find the impetus, but that was never the point - I wanted to get back to enjoying myself again.

At some point during the process, however, I realized that the clutter wasn't the only problem. For the past couple of years I've been picking my projects according to saleability - how they'd fit on the stall, and whether they'd pay for themselves in terms of time spent and materials used.

I've always sworn that my beading is a hobby and not a business, and I'm still not sure when I lost sight of that, but it makes me rather sad to think about all the time I spent on safe, pedestrian designs rather than the pieces I actually wanted to make. For the past month or so, therefore, I've put all thoughts of profitability to the back of my mind and given myself the time and space to experiment.

Possibly the most gratifying part has been rediscovering the joy of glass beads. Half the people on the local craft circuit make jewellery, so everybody has to find their niche. For me, that was semiprecious stones. Don't get me wrong, I still love these, but there's a definite pleasure in being able to use vividly-coloured, decently-sized glass beads without having to spend half a day's wages for the privilege or being limited to chips and small rounds.

I've made a lot of pieces over the past few weeks, but not all of them have photographed decently. I'll be writing about some of those that have in the posts that follow, but in the meantime, here's the first one that really made me smile. I made it up in about fifteen minutes from my big bag of miscellaneous freshwater pearls, and I actually think it's pretty damned classy.

The colours and shapes are all over the place, of course, but that's half the fun of it. I'm allowing myself to play again, and having a great time.