Sunday, June 09, 2013

Masaya, Goddess of Volcanoes

The Battle of the Beadsmith 2013 is well underway; there is an eclectic mix of styles and skill sets represented so far. If you want to follow the action, click here. At the top of the page is a "photos" link which, if you click it, will take you to the albums of each battle.  This year, the public is welcome to vote. If you would like to vote, click the "files" link and look for the document outlining the steps.

Now that my battle is published, finally, I can show photos here.

"Masaya" (Goddess of Volcanoes)
 My piece began with the creation of the yellow polymer clay cabochons. When I use the "inside out bead" or "Natasha" bead technique, the final result is a random, mysterious surprise.  In this case, I cleaned up my work table after a particularly productive day and used the leftover clay scraps to make some cabs.  When I opened the resulting log of patterned clay, my reaction was, "OMG, I need to save these for my Battle piece!"  (The two on the bottom of the finished necklace.)

Rich, vibrant texture and color was a great starting point. When it came to design, there was a lot to consider. I wanted to add a new skill and the bead-embroidered collar on a brass blank was something I've been meaning to try for a couple of years. I stitched down row-after-row, layer-upon-layer to create the final richly textured collar.

As I began embellishing the two clay cabs, it became obvious that this necklace wanted DRAMA: color... sparkle... texture... the thing practically screamed, "Gimme!" When that section was complete, my plan was to connect it to the collar and call it done.  My dear friend, Mikkey, looked at it and told me it was "very nice, but it won't have a chance at winning... not big enough". Nice. NICE?!? I wasn't going for "nice" here. I wanted to do something epic, something that would rival anything I've done to date. Clearly, it was time to go back to the studio and try to make some more cabs - a difficult thing to do when using a scrap technique. I did my best and came up with some similar pieces which matched well.

In a previous post, I referenced how the individual components didn't fit together properly when they were ready for assembly. I love the final configuration. The first piece is now at the bottom, the new cabs seem to soar from the top and follow the lines of the wearer's collarbones perfectly. Normally, the brass collar blank would have enough tension in it to hold the necklace in place without a clasp. But the final piece was so heavy that it slid right off my neck! I added a pretty handmade clasp at the back with a gold-filled hook and it looks lovely from the back.

 When the neck piece was finished, I still had time left and a couple of the yellow cabs were yet unused.  I went ahead and made a matching cuff and hair accessory. The hair comb was another thing I've been meaning to try for a while now.

All told, a huge quantity of supplies and 250 hours of time were consumed in the process of creating this project.

There were some good lessons for me here:
  • Bigger can be better
  • Don't give up if the original plan goes awry
  • Test your limits. You don't know what you are capable of if you don't try.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a number of people who helped me get through this project:
  • Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kummli for the outstanding instructions for covering a brass collar in their book, The Art of Bead Embroidery
  • Steven Weiss, from The Beadsmith, for inviting me to participate in the contest
  • Mikkey Tarantino for her enthusiastic input and suggestions; I still have her footprints on my backside from when she convinced me to go huge!
  • Rebecca McElroy, Jack Jitsu, and Jenn Ryan of Dr Cowlick's Photography in Raleigh, NC for the gorgeous photos. You guys rock!
  • and (I saved the best for last) my darling Marble Man, who has had to listen to me talk about this thing for months and never asked me to stop. Thank you!!!
Now... what's next on my bead tray?

copyright 2013 Shibori Girl