Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Breast Cancer Journey ..

Last week I submitted my entry "The Breast Cancer Journey" to the Swarovski Crystal Design Beading Competition, Open Division.

This beaded pink silk breast cancer awareness ribbon was created to highlight the journey that each individual is forced to take once a breast cancer diagnosis has been received. My inspiration for this piece is my wonderful friend Jen, who had to take this journey last November, she has undergone multiple surgeries, painful treatments, sickness and terrible pain, test after test, hair loss and then adjusting to her physical self after all of these treatments. Treatments and surgeries that are still ongoing, but thank fully the cancer is gone but the havoc it slammed onto her has been just unimaginable.

I could not help Jen or really make a difference to her and her breast cancer journey, but she loves my beadwork as much as I do (she owns a truckload of Social Butterfly Jewellery all kept in their own special jewellery box!!) so I decided to honour her dignified but painful journey with this disease through my beadwork. Thus this silk beaded breast cancer ribbon was created.

Back in February 2010 I began the ribbon ...First I made the silk ribbon armature with the intent on beading it. I cut out the ribbon shape, included padding/wadding within and firm plastic to allow it to keep its shape. The first photograph is the very first attempt at beading the silk ribbon ... I absolutely hated it ! I then had to remove every bead! This left an awful mess on the fabric as I had used Fireline (a braided polyetheline beading thread) to sew on the crystals. Crystals can be very abrasive, so to prevent them breaking the thread and falling off I had to use expensive Fireline.

Also I did not like how I had finished the seam around the armature, it looked really amature. Hmmm what to do ... I cut out another ribbon and decided on recovering it and starting again. After doing this I remembered how difficult it was beading directly on the padded silk ribbon so why not bead onto something separate like an applique then sew it back on the ribbon later. That's it !!
I dug out an embroidery hoop from the studio and put in a piece of calico, drew directly onto the calico and started to bead .. perfect.
Once I had completed this beaded design I cut it out, placed the beaded applique carefully at the top, inside of the armature and sewed it into place. I then began to bead around the edges where I had attached the 'applique' and sewed scattered crystals all around the applique. I used Swarovski 2mm crystal beads in light rose and rose. I am a seed beader first and foremost so it is an ultimate challenge to create something with beads without using seed beads. I included a silk flower at the centre of the beaded applique, small Swarovski pearls adorn the centre of this silk flower.
Next how to embellish the pink ribbon ... I had been experimenting with making singed silk flowers and so I began cutting out petals from polyester (this is best in my opinion when it comes to singing the raw edges of fabric specifically for flowers). I am unsure how many actual petals that I have sewn onto this ribbon, but I can assure you it was alot. Each petal was sewn on using the Swarovski 2mm crystal beads. Petals have been sewn on front and back, basically all over the silk ribbon armature. Then the actual silk flowers were cut out, singed and placed together. I decided to use different shades of pink just to shake things up a little, plus I did not want them getting lost in a sea of light pink. Beneath the silk flowers are groups of beads in shades of green all sewn to reflect a beaded base for the flowers.
I then photographed it and submitted it to the competition. I am unsure what to do with the beaded silk ribbon once the competition is over.

.. 'orrible .. The beginning of the beaded applique.

The beaded applique in place on the ribbon. Hmmm this requires change ...

Yeah . that is a bit better ... Yes I am loving those silk flowers ...

Another change, change out of silk flower, removal of some crystals .... that's better ...

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