Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beads of Clay Design Challenge

As a Design Partner with the Beads of Clay Professional Artists Team, I recently received an awesome package in the mail, filled with handmade beads and fiber wire made by several members of the Beads of Clay team.

The goodies are from Yarn Sweet Yarn, Jeraluna Designs, Kristi Bowman Design, Starry Road Studio, Marla's Mud, and Beads, Birds and Bones.

Once I had all these delicious looking supplies in hand, I went to review the requirements for the challenge -- and I panicked!  The initial directive was that we were to use ALL of the components to create just two pieces:  a necklace or bracelet, and a pair of earrings.  I don't typically sketch my designs ahead of time, but instead I tend to design in my head and as I go.  After I've spent time pondering a particular design, I usually have a good idea of how I want to assemble it and how it's going to look.  But this one was a complete puzzler!

The fiber wire is gorgeous and intriguing, but I knew that once I had figured out what I wanted to do with it I wouldn't really have an opportunity to change my mind.  It's very flexible, and the colors are beautiful, and I figured I was going to have to cut it into pieces to do something with it.  Since I'm not a magician, there would be no way for me to undo those cuts... The other challenge for me is one of my favorite components in the batch -- the long twisted tube by Marla James.  Its scale is so much different than the rest of the beads that I just couldn't figure out how I was going to fit it into one design and have the result be cohesive.

So I arranged.  And rearranged.  And thought.  And rearranged some more.  Thought some more.  Looked through my beads to see what I could use with these components.  All the while, I was following along with the discussions among the other designers, all of whom seemed to be having the same dilemma with being able to use all of the components to make just two pieces.  I had just about settled on making a freeform cuff, but with all of these components it would wind up being a HUGE cuff.

Now I have to tell you that I failed in the challenge to use all of the components.  I just couldn't find a way to make them all work in a single piece.  I suppose if I'd ventured into the land of wire wrapping, chains, or leather cording, I could have figured out a way to join them all together.  The biggest challenge to me, since I don't "string" beads or work with wire very much, was to use these components with some style of beadweaving.  I do have leather cording, wire, yarn, and all sorts of other supplies (what can I say -- I've never met a supply I didn't like), but I really wanted to do something that involved beadweaving, since that's my favorite type of work.

The piece I made is a necklace that I'm calling Bloom.  It's a bead crochet rope that incorporates the beautiful colors of the challenge components and a few of the pieces (I'm still considering a freeform cuff of some type to use the remainder of the pieces).

I'm thoroughly impressed by my fellow designers, all of whom managed to meet the challenge of using all of their components.  Please visit their blogs to check out their beautiful creations:

Cilla Watkins -
Kari Asbury - 

Shannon Chomanczuk -
Lesley Watt - 

Now I'm off to do some shopping...  not for beads (for a change), but for deck railing.  :-)