Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My ↑s Creed

Photo cred: Niky Sayers
The Art Elements Bloggers have really got it goin' on (if you didn't already know) - I consistently find it hard to pass up the opportunity to work with such a wonderful cast of artisans and once again I have been given that opportunity!  February's Component of the Month is hosted by the incredible Niky Sayers!  Niky made these super cool runes from copper metal clay - the moment I saw them I was chomping at the bit to have one.

Confession: I know NOTHING about runes except that I immediately think of Lord of the Rings - because LOTR is like my favorite thing.  As soon as I knew I was picked, ideas of hobbit holes, secret doors and trees began to swim in front of me.  I briefly looked up what some of them meant and then waited for 'Brown Santa' (USPS) to arrive.

It arrived!  And it is even more awesome in person...except...Warrior.  Hmmm.  So I hadn't considered that all my LOTR thoughts wouldn't necessarily suite this piece.  Now what?  After some consideration, I realized getting "Warrior" was more apropos than any other rune, as my first name has a similar meaning.  I have always believed that there is something to names.  I have an aggressive, bold, I-don't-put-up-with-crap personality which matches my name therefore this rune is like a symbol for who I am.  Inspiration for my piece didn't have to come from ancient Viking beliefs or a favorite fantasy - it can come from the simplest of things - my name.

I began to think about what kind of warrior I would want to be known for and 2 things came to mind - advocate & defensive.  More in my past than recently, I have lobbied for more strict and defined laws against human trafficking, educated the public on the issue, written senators and even lobbied at the White House.  I want to be a warrior who advocates for the freedom of others.  I also have a tendency to "mother".  I may not BE a mother but, whether my friends and family like it or not, I often find myself mothering them or giving counsel.  I want to be a warrior who takes up arms in defense of others - not one that seeks battle.

These thoughts led me to a relatively obvious inspiration - armor.  Armor is fascinating both in structure, history and workmanship.  (Random aside: check out my AWESOME finger armor ring!)
With this as inspiration, I began working on the details of the centerpiece for a necklace that may only be suited (pun!) for wear at a Ren Faire but has a deeper meaning.  I began sketching out a shape...

You know how sometimes things come together super easily?  Well this was one of those moments.  A beader friend of mine, Madleen Demaras, had given me a number of vintage nailheads just the day before - in that mix were some metal embellishments with a coppery tone that were PERFECT for rivet heads.

I traced out my sketched shape on a piece of Lacy's and got to work arranging and securing these little beauties.

The next step was to bead the border.  I decided to bead the inner and outer border with black and fill in with my favorite silver 15s.  Once again, I chose 15s.  Sometimes I don't know why I do things - I just do.  Though there is a part of me that does get satisfaction beading on such a small scale because you do have more control with fluid lines.

With the border complete, it was time to attach the rune and begin filling in the center!  The back of the rune actually had some unevenness so before I attached it to the center of my shield/breastplate, I used scrap pieces of Lacy's Stiff Stuff to even it out for a flat surface.  I also used a black Sharpie to darken the edges of the scrap Lacy's so that it wouldn't show in-between the beadwork  especially since I decided not to bezel it.

After securing the rune I looked at the beads I had chosen to use to fill in the center and realized I didn't like them for this after all.  I searched for something more appropriate and landed on a coppery bronze 11 and began the process of filling in.

As you can see from the photos above, I worked in diagonal from a center line.  I knew I could bead each row all the way across, however, it isn't always easy keeping each row completely diagonal so I decided to work each half separately.  This allowed me to concentrate on one angle at a time catching weird bendy issues early.  Finally, after a couple days of intense beading, I finished.

Because the Lacy's was heavy with beadwork, it was very curly and bendy so I needed to reinforce the piece with something - I chose a piece of plastic with an exceptionally chill cow on it.  Before gluing down this vacationing bovine, I took a picture of the back of the piece.  For some reason I keep doing this - I have mentioned it before but the back of beadwork is fascinating - a historical account of every artistic decision.  I think its beautiful and something worth documenting.

With the plastic sandwiched securely between the beadwork and Ultrasuede, I worked on the edging of the piece.  All along I had this cool idea of mimicking the articulated shoulders of armor for part of the strap.  I had a few ideas of how to accomplish this but I needed to make 4-6 pieces of separate beadwork for this.  I drew out my template, traced it to Lacey's and was about to start the process of beading all these thingies when....
The thingies - a technical term.




Boy do I ever keep you on your toes lol!!!  About 1/2 way through completing the edging I was showing my graphic designer mother the piece and she had a BRILLIANT idea that completely shifted my thinking.  She suggested that instead of turning the piece into a necklace, it was much more suited as a kind of "patch" on a book or purse.  She held up the beadwork next to a army green canvas purse and I was IMMEDIATELY sold.  I knew it would be a strange necklace - which I don't really mind...but the piece is far more suited to a bag embellishment!  I have never done this sort of thing before so I knew it would be an adventure.  I began to disassemble part of the work I did on the backing so that I could attach the shield/breastplate to a bag. (BTW, this is the day prior to the blog post that I began this process...I also keep myself on my toes apparently.)
Starting disassembling process
I removed the edging, the Ultrasuede and the plastic I used to support the piece.  Thankfully this was a very easy process just carefully peeling off the layers.
The 3 stooges of disassembly. (One of which is a fading vacationing bovine.)
With the beadwork detached from the backing pieces, I took a Sharpie and blackened all the edges of the Lacy's.  The edge doesn't really show, however, since there would be no bead edging on the canvas bag, I didn't want to take a chance that the white would show through.  Then I used a ruler and the seams of the purse to find the middle and tacked down the beadwork.

The next step was to see how many needles I could sacrifice in the attempt to sew through the thick layers while still avoiding stitching through the lining.  If I was amazing I would have pulled stitches at the inside seam of the purse so that I could easily stitch the piece down before reattaching the lining...however, I hate fabric sewing AND am not particularly skilled at it so I decided to do the least hard way (for me) and stitch it down without ripping stitches and reattaching lining.  I also realized that the needles I used were NOT made for this, however, I am out of time and the only needles I have accessible are beading needles.  Lookie at all the fun shapes I made!
Tour de Force
It took some doing to properly attach the patch but now I have a snazzy new custom Warrior bag!  I might get around to doing some more detail work on it someday, but until then I will carry this with pride!

Want to see what others made with their runes?  Um...yes, of course you do!  Click below to see what others created!


Kelly Rodgers -↑s live here

Art Element Members:


  1. That is just fantastic Kelly...beautiful beadwork and it how cool to have such an original warrior bag!

  2. I love your design! It would have made an awesome warrior necklace but I think stitching it to the purse is even better. Now you will be able to show it off even more. Well done!

  3. You and your mother make a great team! I think I would also have loved the necklace but the bag is just so wonderful and your beaded pieces looks like it was made specifically for the bag!

  4. Fantastic post and a fabulous design.... I would carry that with pride too!

  5. Woo hoo PIB, look at you branching out into non-jewelry accessories! I love it, and also enjoyed our dual reveal strategy. We should do this more often, lol!

  6. Kelly! This is some powerful stuff! Wow. I alternated at laughing: vacationing bovine! Three stooges of deconstruction! To sucking in air in awe as the progress unfolded. Wow. The metallic seed beads in the directional composition - like hammered copper! Wear it well, Warrior!

  7. OH MY GOSH, I love your post Kelly! I love that you took us on a roller coaster journey through the design of your piece and the final piece was well worth all the effort, Your bag looks amazing! Thank you so much for joining in X

  8. Kelly - I love this post! You are so funny and I loved seeing the process - from discovering your rune meaning (it was very serendipitous for my rune meaning as well) to the vacationing bovine to the great idea your mother had! Awesome!