Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tequila Sunrise - A Beadwork Fan - Bead Dreams 2012

Tequila Sunrise - A Beadwork Fan Neckpiece
April last year I failed to complete my first ever Bead Dream beadwork entry due to many factors, primarily we had to move (ever so reluctantly) from Melbourne to Brisbane due to my husbands employment.  The submission date passed and I steadily toiled to complete 'Melbournian' which in fact was my 'grief' piece to settle my nerves at having to leave my beloved Melbourne.  All was not lost though as months later 'Melbournian' (along with one other design 'Magic Carpet Ride' Cuff) was selected for inclusion in the Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry book that will be released August 7, 2012!!

Bead Dream 2012 I was absolutely determined to make the submission date so I began designing and planning my submission back in late August/September 2011.  It did not take me long to visulize a fan design and I began looking at lots and lots of images of fans through 'Images' on Google.

Looking at the images on Google I was able to understand the actual fan design and construction, the different styles and ways the fan was decorated or embellished.  I searched 'beaded fans' and surprisingly only two beadwork designers (well known and highly talented designers I might add!!) had designed some beadwork pieces that resembled the familiar and classic fan shape .. Smadar Grossman of Smaders Treasures and Marcia DeCoster of MADDesigns.

I wanted my piece to be large and of course that meant sculptural.  I had taught myself cubic right angle weave (CRAW) thanks to Heather Collins of Studio183 YouTube video demonstration (which I highly recommend).

The beadwork fan is largely cubic right angle weave, the curve of the fan was achieved by CRAW beadwork sections then joining them together. Embellishing the fan was just a natural progression of design 'play' and I purchased a lot of elements as I went along that I thought would work well with the design.  Consequently I have a huge box full of elements that did not work with this design .. I am sure they will work with another though.
Tequila Sunrise

More times than I like to remember I undid hours of beadwork and redid just to achieve a particular look or shape to the fan design.  About 200 yards of Fireline, Wildfire and Invisbraid beading threads are worked into this piece.  I have not used a single Delica in this design all the beadwork is either Toho or Miyuki seed beads in sizes ranging from size 15 up to size 6.  I have used Toho glass drops in Matt Gold which were really expensive and acquired from Laura McCabes website.  The colour way (color way for my American friends) is made up of many, many different bead colours and types.  I opted for the more expensive Duracoat seed beads as I definately did not want the colour rubbing off.  Some of the colours used included Dyed Smokey Light Rose Alabaster, Topaz Gold Lustre, Galvanized Champagne, Galvanised Dark Berry, various Bronz/Gold tones and Gold plated size 15 seed beads. 

I used a very rare and vintage Swarovski stone as my focal an Art. 4723 Topaz Cal which was a special edition, they are triangular.  I used Albion Stitch to bezel the stone then heavily embellished it with size 15 Toho seed beads and Swarovski Crystal pearls.

Art. 4723 unfoiled Topaz Cal Special (vintage)
I used vintage gold plate Maderia Topaz 2 hole montees which are sewn between the base of each of the blades of the fan design.  Swarovski Crystal 3mm bicones in 'Copper Crystal' adorn the blades along with vintage Swarovski Crystal 47ss Chatons in Maderia Topaz.  Each 47ss Chaton has been bezzeled using three beading stiches, each took about 40 minutes to bead.  It took me weeks to design a thread path method of beading a bezel for each of these small Chatons.

The collar is similar to that of my beadwork neckpiece 'Melbournian', although it is quite different in many ways.  I devised a way of being able to 'anchor' the pearl strand to the beadwork which makes it remarkably strong.  The collar is made up of various sized Swarovski pearls leading towards a structural piece which is tube armature, surrounded by right angle woven beads, then further embellished with netting stitch.  The toggle clasp has been constructed by using a Swarovski Cosmic Ring attached with a section of my 'winged bail' design.  The 'toggle' has been woven using embellished CRAW and the ends of the toggle have oval shaped Topaz Montees sewn into the void

Close up of the 'collar' and Toggle Clasp.

How did I visualize and bring Tequila Sunrise to life ... don't know .. just did.  I simply loved the idea of a beaded fan and felt immensly challenged as to how I could articulate the 'fan' design in my head into reality using only beads.  I hope you enjoy looking at 'Tequila Sunrise' as much as I did creating her.  She was a trial but also a joy and I miss that I can no longer work on her.  I will be investigating my beadwork fan designs further though .. I am in total love with the concept and embrace the challenge. The next one will not be quite as large though!

Tequila Sunrise as a name for this beadwork piece was born of the actual fan design and the colour way which lends itself to the classic cocktail 'Tequila Sunrise' as the Grenadine floats and diffuses through the Orange Juice.

I wish every entrant to this fantastic competition the very best of luck and may the best design in every category win!  Good luck!!

Happy Beading my friends.. Mel

PS ... So utterly intense was my ambition to complete this piece that I worked on it night and day solidly for about 6 weeks which equates to about 200+ hours of actual bead time. I wear prescription glasses and used my lit magnifyer every time I worked on the piece but despite this I am now awaiting my new prescription glasses .. so I in fact wore my eyes out!!


  1. Melissa, thanks for sharing such an amazing journey into creating an equally amazing piece - if not more so.
    It never ceases to amaze me how an idea can capture an artist and draw them in to the extent that everything else fades to the edges of their vision until they have manifested their dream.
    This blog post comes across so professional and looks fantastic. The images are clear and draw you in, wondering how the hell did she......
    I am impressed, very much so. Well done, and good luck to you in the competition.

  2. Thank you Patrick .. I value your thoughts and feedback.