Thursday, 2 July 2015

BOTB15: Lost in a Desert!

Battle of the BeadSmith 2015
‘Lost in a Desert!’ is inspired by the influence of beading on my life. The granite undertones of Red Creek Jasper symbolise navigation through life and the grounding role beads play within it. Colour, flow and connectivity are illustrated through free form netting that complements the rich hues in the jasper. The shibori ribbon represents the sun setting over the desert – movement from the mathematician at dawn to beader by dusk!

I was absolutely thrilled at the start of the year to be selected to participate in Battle of the BeadSmith.   I already knew that the red creek jasper (15 piece focal) purchased from a gemstone supplier in the USA last summer would form the basis of my design.  I was also keen to experiment with Shibori ribbon for the first time.  Beading for me is a bit of a learning journey - I always incorporate new elements into my work to stretch and challenge.  When I innocently took a local authority beading class in January 2009 - little did I know where that step would take me.  As a hobby it has become an integral part of my life alongside the day job of teaching mathematics!  'Lost in a Desert!' is an ironically titled, symbolic and reflective general I'm not always the best with words and prefer to sketch instead.  When I do write I have a tendency to ramble so arriving at the short paragraph above, that fell between the stipulated 50 to 70 words, was the final challenge!

Over the years I have made many good friends within the beading community and this was built into the design.  Bead fairs are often used to catch up with friends and to match up supplies for my next project.  I was disappointed to find that there would be no shibori ribbon at the Big Bead Show - I've learned over the years to check ahead - so that requests can be made!  Thankfully Karen came to my rescue - I selected a couple of potential strips from her stash that complemented the gemstone focal.  In the original sketch I had a mix of crystal polygons to represent the mathematician and the influence of geometry in my work.  Michelle had recently sourced samples of the latest crystal beads - the four leaf clover made it's way into my stash and this design - it represents lucky breaks through friends voicing my talents.   I adore crown stones and the vintage colours that are no longer manufactured - the key focal point was a gift from  Carol - reflecting the Sun.

Planning - Squared Paper!

The Easter holiday saw me commence work on the design - I had a clear picture in my head of what I wanted to create.  Unusual for me - I started the design on a sheet of A4 squared paper - to place the gemstones on bead backing.   The free form peyote bezels were created with unlabeled matt bronze size 11 miyuki seed beads from my stash.  So beading was stalled while I tried to identify the code for the bronze seed beads I was using.  I then discovered I could no longer source in the UK -  so had to wait for shipping from France!  Working with shibori for the first time was a challenge - it did not behave as desired - and there was lots of frayed edges to be tamed and tacked.

Taming Shibori Ribbon

Summer term started and I was diligently continuing to bezel with bronze seed beads - a long slow process - had I bitten off more than I could chew?  Work stopped all together for a fortnight as I was marking that point I did question whether I would continue - was it good enough?  Could I complete in time?  I am great at procrastinating it seems.

The last 100 hours of my design was stitched over the final two weeks.  The Bead Retreat over the Spring Bank Holiday gave me the final push - company and late nights were fruitful for productivity.  Bead soup was created and cabs were backed and connected with freeform netting.

Creative Chaos at Bead Retreat
A weighty design - the final challenge was joining the two halves!  So only in the last few hours did the colour and flow come together in the design.   I have created a design that is wearable and timeless - complements an evening gown but also looks great with jeans and a vest top.  The final challenge was the photos - uneasy in front of the camera there are none of me.  Fellow NEBBies admin and good friend - Mo was recruited to help with the photography.  However, with the exception of one shot, the photos for round 1 were taken by me.

Lost in a Desert!

I was knocked out of Battle of the BeadSmith on Monday. I love the novel design by Kristina Kristiansson my battle partner and wish her all the best in future rounds.

Up close!

Now school is out for the summer - I will be writing up some designs for my Etsy shop - so watch this space!


  1. A beautiful and wearable piece of art Jen - glad i could help in some small way xx