challenge: art bead scene April

April 20, 2011 § 7 Comments

I’m very excited to announce that I have finished my very first entry into Art Bead Scene’s monthly challenge! All the pieces submitted to the challenge have been unique and well-made, with lots of variety springing from one single painting. I thought I would blog about the process I went through to make my necklace.

Firstly, this was the inspiration piece given on the ABS blog. The two things that really stood out for me were the conversational birds, and the bright minty green leaves against the gold background. I decided to invent my own colour palette, rather than use the one provided:

After that, I went on a mad Etsy trawl. If there’s one thing about the ABS Challenge, it’s that it’s introduced me to so many fantastic independent artisan makers and craftspeople.

As you can see, my Etsy treasury was very turquoisey-pale-blue, with a hint of the reds and golds of the painting. I liked it, but I still wasn’t sure, and although I wanted to buy pretty much every single thing in the treasury, I didn’t know if they were quite right for the piece.

I decided instead to look back at some inspiration. This is a Tibetan prayer necklace I photocopied from a wonderful book called The History of Beads. The necklace features wood and coral beads, silk ribbons and tassels, and seed bead woven strands. I wanted to use this as inspiration: something using mixed media, with the repeated patterns of bead shapes, and incorporating the silk ties as a fastener.

Inspiration always comes from the materials themselves, so I put together a little bead soup of the colours I wanted to use: lemon jade, minty green glass, coral drops, agate rondelles and some dark glass beads and sliders. Then I went back again to my Etsy treasury and rethought the colours, this time focusing on the greens and reds of the painting – knowing I wanted to use a goldy-brown for the ‘background’.

Next was combining all these different elements into a rough design. I’d been looking at silk ribbons too, and wanted to use them but in a chunkier and less delicate way than I had seen in other jewellery. My designs are shown below:

So I’d got my design, I’d worked out that the base was going to be plaited silk ribbons in gold-brown, I’d got my beads – but still no art bead! (and that would be ridiculous seeing as it’s in the title of the challenge). I’d seen from other entries and previous monthly challenges that entrants often made their own beads, but I was a bit wary of this. What if it was naff? What if it went wrong? What if…? Eventually I decided that if I was going to enter the challenge for the first time, I might as well go the whole hog and make some art beads for the first time!

I made some test pieces and final pendant and little beads using polymer clay, then experimented with paints, sanding, and varnishing to get the final effect I wanted. It was an interesting process and I definitely want to do it again, and I’m very pleased with the result.

Oh, the actual piece! Here you go:

The beads, fastener and pendant are all wrapped and made using brass wire, and is designed so that you can fasten the necklace anywhere along the opposite strand to create different looks. I managed to find some beautiful silk the same colour as the painting’s background, with lovely dark strands woven through that look create slightly pulled apart.

I wanted it to reflect some of the ease and simplicity of the original painting, the colours and the textures, but with a sort of faded twist: the silk is unravelling slightly, the bird is half in flight, the colours are blurring and wrapping together…sort of dismantling that ‘perfection’ that we often think we see in older works of art.

I hope you like it and don’t forget to have a look at all the other entrants on Flickr. I’ll also be posting up about the winners and the blog hop at the end of the month!


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§ 7 Responses to challenge: art bead scene April

  • Welcome to the ABS challenges! What a great first piece! You really did go ‘whole hog’ on this one. I especially appreciate your thoughtful design process… from the materials to the shopping trip to the sketches to the way you pulled it all together. That is what it is all about for me too! We must be kindred spirits 😉
    Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Be sure to link this blog post in the original ABS challenge post so that I can remember to include it in the blog hop next week Friday!
    Enjoy the day!

    • eleanorsnare says:

      Thanks for your compliments Erin! I’m really pleased I entered the challenge and it was an interesting way of working for me, using someone else’s starting point and thinking a bit differently about the outcome. Looking forward to the blog hop too!

  • Elly! I said it already on flickr. I’ll say it again: This piece is absolutely stunning! And it was so great to follow your design process too, with inspiration and all. Even though I have a piece half ready myself for the challenge, hoping to post it tomorrow, I really wish you will be picked for designer of the week.

    • eleanorsnare says:

      Malin, thank you for your comments. I really like your jewellery and respect your aesthetic taste so I feel very privileged that you like it! It would be ace if I was picked but there are so many great jewellery pieces in the group I won’t be disappointed if I’m not – and I look forward to seeing your piece too 🙂

  • […] experimenting with polymer clay for the Art Bead Scene Challenge, I thought I would have a go with trying to make something a bit simpler and chunkier. I only […]

  • Loved this piece. The fiber work and versatility of the clasp are both things I am experimenting with currently and of course I’m a huge polymer fan so seeing you jump into that is awesome. Love the art bead. Great job!

  • Ruthie says:

    Love the birdy pendant!

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