Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019 Bead Peep Swap & Hop Reveal

I began beading as a young girl living in a small town where, as far as I knew, there were not any other beaders.  I taught myself most of what I know but I always wished to find "my people". In my 20's I took to the interwebs and found an amazing little swap group. I made many friends in that group - people who understood and supported my passion.  The group has since dwindled down to just a handful of people on Facebook and while I have great friends from it, I miss the big cross-country or cross-continent bead swaps.

Ever since those days, I have been on the lookout for other groups doing something similar.

I found Bead Peeps randomly and joined in on their annual swap & hop challenge.  Every participant is paired off and swaps an artisan bead and a clasp (in many cases much more than that).  And then we all hop blog to blog (or other social media) to see what everyone made!  I was fantastically lucky to be paired with Tina Hemr!

After chatting at length, I decided to send her a plethora of nifty beads from my stash -- everything from lampwork by Marie Sawyer, a bowlerite cab by David Rowland, ceramic by Diana Ptaszynski and much more!  I am super excited to see what she does with her goodies.

Tina sent an amazing array of brightly colored beads and a fantastic polymer clay cabochon she made herself!  While many of these colors fell into the cool colors I love to work with, they were rather bright so I felt I needed to really consider how to balance them out.

The cabochon itself delivered my first challenge.  It is paisley shaped which means there is a concave section.  I have encountered this problem before -- the typical peyote-stitched bezel will not curve inward!  Stitched normally, the bezel will stretch from the top-most point of the curve on one side to the top-most point on the other side.  This means that instead of curving inward and hugging the cab, it creates a straight edge which stands out from the curve. While there are many ways to bezel a cab I knew I wanted to figure this out once and for all!

After some consideration, I determined the primary problem is that the curve creates more surface area which isn't being addressed.  I used my intuition to add beads as I built the bezel wall and discovered I resolved the issue!  Despite how it annoyed me in previous attempts, had never spent the time to figure it out!

From the start I wanted this piece to be really dramatic but upon finishing the bezel and adding accent beads, I was at a bit of a stand-still.  Tina had let me know the cab was made using the polymer clay technique, mokume gane.  I thought I might try to replicate this technique and add a few small matching cabs, however, I am not a polymer clay artist and I have never done this technique. My sister-in-law, however, is an incredible polymer clay I approached her with some packs of matching clay and lofty dreams.  We spent an entire evening trying this technique and funny enough, I never got around to making matching cabs.  *shrugs*  We had so much fun testing things out that it just didn't happen.  Eh...the best laid plans of mice and men....

So there I was, feeling like I was teetering on the edge of coolness but completely stuck.  When this happens, I usually sort beads.  This is one of those endless tasks that is never REALLY done.  While sorting, I found a package of soutache that needed to be put away in my fibers box....and there it was...

Looking through my fibers box, it almost immediately dawned on me that this piece of GORGEOUS trim I purchased from MOOD in New York City years ago was literally THE thing I needed.  It was perfect.

I was  in love with this piece of trim the day I purchased it, and still am!  It is thick, luscious and perfect for beadwork.  I decided to cut several of the waves out of the trim, bead them and then decide how I wanted to arrange them. I was buzzing with creative excitement!

Once the individual waves were cut out, I glued them to a piece of Nicole's Bead Backing, stitched them down following the lines of thread and began to bead around the trim.  The longer I spent making these pieces, the more excited I got.  This was the first time I had used trim in a piece and I have ever seen it used this particular way in bead embroidery!  Regardless, it felt fresh, new and exciting.

Ultimately I made 6 of these pieces and played with the arrangement of them over and over until I felt I had it "right".

I then doubled back to the cab and brought in some of the colors from the cab along the outside rim before trimming, backing and edging it.

Finally, I began the assembly.  Using the edging as well as the backing & ultrasuede as anchors, I thoughtfully assembled each piece.  As you can see, I planned this out so that the back would be as colorful as the front.

Once all the pieces were securely attached, I had to determine what kind of straps to use.  At first I thought I would make a beaded strap and thought about continuing the paisley by using Paisley Duo beads.  I wove a strap but quickly realized that it took away from the overall look of the piece.

In the end the best option was a simple chain strap using the simple toggle clasp Tina provided.  I attached the strap to the piece using a bead loop and jumpring.

And now for the reveal!  I am SUPER pleased with how this piece turned out.  Thanks to Tina and her amazing work, I was able to teach myself several new skills and create a dramatic piece I feel compliments her work beautifully!  Enjoy!

Nope...this isn't the end!  At the last minute I decided I NEEDED to do something with the cool little polymer clay flowers and leaves Tina made...

First, I put a piece of scrap ultrasuede on top of Lacy's Stiff Stuff, glued down the leaves, beaded thru the leaf holes and beaded around the outside of them.

Then I added each flower one-by-one.

Next, I cut it out, backed it with the rest of the scrap ultrasuede and edged the piece.

Lastly, I created loops, and put together a chain with bead accents, and added flower stems.  This little gem really turned out cute!

I really hope you have enjoyed seeing how I created my pieces for this hop!  Please make sure to 'hop' through the list of participant's below!

Other Participants

Kelly Rodgers - You are here!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Adventures in Polymer Clay, Resin & Beading

I need to confess that I was shocked at how long it has been since I last wrote a blog post.  While it appears as if I took a hiatus, that is far from the case.  I have been writing instructions, teaching classes and creating but my schedule looks like color-coded organized chaos.  That aside, I wanted to share an adventure I went on recently.

A few weeks back my incredibly talented sister-in-law, Hailey Rodgers of Found in Fire Studios, asked if I would attend a Blue Ridge Polymer Clay Guild Meeting in Asheville, NC.  The meeting we would be attending included a heart swap.  Everyone would make a heart-themed polymer clay item and would swap with another artist during the meeting.  Now, let me be clear -- I am NOT a polymer clay artist.  I have dabbled in the medium but never really did much with it...regardless, I thought I would give it a try.

I decided I would make a cabochon I could bead and make into a necklace - this way I incorporate MY talent into something that would likely be a disaster otherwise.

I started with a lump of grey Sculpy Souffle.  This is supposed to be a softer clay but honestly, if any of you have ever conditioned clay, it was still a utter pain in the tookus to condition -- just less than other clays.  Once the clay was soft enough, I flattened it with my hands and then smooshed it flat with a big jewelers steel block (I didn't have anything to roll it out with).  Then, I found like the only 2 stamps I have in my possession and pressed one into the clay.  Unimpressive.  (Or impressive, if you want to be punny.)

I originally intended to use acrylic paint to help the image stand out but I was running out of time (I had about 36 hours to get this done) and the stamp impression was very shallow - which meant it would be hard to only highlight the upper level with paint.  I remembered that some polymer clay artists use mica powder on their pieces...I didn't have that either.  But I did have a very expensive and uber glittery eyeshadow palette...Urban Decay's Moondust Palette, for you curious ones out there.

I took a few colors, and lightly rubbed the surface of the clay with the eyeshadow and WALLA!  It worked!!  I baked the clay and pulled this out of the oven:

I realize this isn't terribly exciting (yet)...but it was to me!  I wish the photos could adequately capture the color and shine of the eyeshadow...

I was concerned about protecting the surface of the cab since any little ding would damage the eyeshadow treatment.  So.....I RESINED IT!  I have NEVER tried resin in any form so this also was an adventure.  I followed the instructions to the letter.  Well...sort of.  I did have a cleaning-up disaster in which I completely panicked, had sticky goo all over my hands, the cups, my alcohol bottle, soap bars and my entire bathroom sink but that story is reserved for live action storytelling since it requires lots of muppety arms and wild gesturing.  I digress...once the resin set, I began the bezel capture.

Aside from the afore mentioned clean-up disaster, this was a smashing success!  The resin not only protects the surface treatment, it brought depth, gloss and a "finished" look to the cab. I chose a shiny blue AB finished Delica bead and began to bezel the cab.  The odd shape I cut made the dip of the heart a little challenging, but it turned out beautifully.

I wanted this pendant to be relatively simple since the star is the polymer clay cab itself.  I chose a pinkish mauve size 8 seed bead to border the heart and then cut away the excess backing.

The last few steps were typical - apply the Ultra Suede to the back, edge the piece, add a little bit of "laciness" to the edging, add a crystal drop and attach straps!  The final piece surprised me!  It was almost difficult to give it away!

I definitely learned a lot from this process and have since purchased some black clay and mica powder - I figure there will be future reasons to use this technique so I should be ready, right?

I do have to brag a little on my sister-in-law (see piece below).  She constructed this with a foil form wrapped in Sculpy and sculpted.  She then used her incredible painting skills and hand painted it!

The class demo for the meeting was actually to make template plates with different textures that we could take home.  I made a couple and am excited to try them on my newly learned technique!

I hope you enjoyed going on this adventure with me!  Be looking for another post soon!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Shifting Tidepools

I legitimately dream of tide pools.  There is something about sea life that has always drawn me and inspired my work - the strange shapes, textures and mysteries the ocean holds.  I am not a beach lover unless its primarily beach combing and looking in tide pools for beautiful creatures.  This particular theme from Art Elements blog is right up my alley.

Honestly, at first I wanted to create my typical bead embroidery version of a tide pool and had some rather unique ideas for accomplishing this, however, I was not very fast on the uptake of ordering the supplies I would need for my initial idea so I decided to go another direction entirely.

I had recently been talking to other beaders who are a part of the Embroiderers Guild of America (EGA) in a nearby city.  There were a lot of interesting things going on in their chapter and I decided I was tired of not being a part of a LOCAL community of like-minded people.  After a little searching I came across a chapter in my tiny city and decided to give it a try.  I met with a number of ladies and while there were not other beaders attending, it was nice to find some people with interests that segwayed into my own.

And then I went down a long and VERY cool Pinterest black hole of embroidery...and it was FABULOUS!  Embroidery is no longer just your grandmother's hobby - it is being turned on it's head and modern embroiderers are doing things with needle and thread that are breaking barriers.  I decided I really wanted to explore this medium a bit and what better time than now?  So I snapped up some supplies and fiddled around with a few random flowers until I figured out what I wanted to do for this challenge.

Once I felt like understood some of the basic techniques I grabbed some colors to start on my tide pool piece.

I decided to do radiating long and short stitches to give a gradient look.  First, I chose a deep denimy blue.
Then I added a lighter color, making sure to "blend" by stitching in different lengths between the threads of denim blue.

I continued this process with sea greens until I reached close to the edge of the hoop and stopped...

I didn't really have a goal or end result in mind, which isn't my normal M.O...creating jewelry is nice in that I know the piece will ultimately become adornment.  This was more of an exploration into another medium and finding a way to incorporate it into my repertoire of skills.  I am finding that I like embroidery and want to learn more, especially considering some of the incredible artwork coming out of this arena:

Please join me in seeing all the cool artwork others made with this theme...


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Adventures in writing class instructions

That time I accidently deleted an entire post...

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

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