Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hepzibahs Pendulum Neckpiece gets published!

Hepzibahs Pendulum .. you say?  What's that you say?  Hepzibah was the name given to my maternal great, grandmother we just called her Dais or Daisy Belle.  She lived until she was 92.
I named this piece in honour of her.
My beading bud (bbbf), who lives in Sydney, Patrick Duggan was invited by Marcia DeCoster to submit designs for a new book Beads in Motion.  I was very excited for Patrick and this opportunity, it got me thinking tho ... hmmm could I design something that actually moved using only beads.  I quickly slipped into Melly World (an annoying state of mind for those who know me, particularly my husband, children and mother).. it is a state of mind that I can 'shut my ears off' and tap into my creative muse.  I sketched out only one design.  Patrick, in the meantime had contacted Marcia to enquire as to whether I might submit work for consideration.  Marcia was delighted with the suggestion so I set to work.
My design journal
The concept that I had in mind was a swinging pendulum as an actual neckpiece. I had an amazing faceted 34c Amethyst bead in my stash that I wanted to use as the actual pendulum weight, so the colour way was determined by the use of that single bead (joining Amethyst would be reds and golds). 
How to make it swing?  First I bezzeled a divine Swarovski Dentelle in the colour 'Light Siam'.  Size 60ss this sweet baby is vintage and discontinued, consequently a rare beauty.
From the Dentelle grew the barrel that the pendulum would swing from.  Next a beaded ring from which to suspend the pendulum. So that the pendulum did not slip around I had to design a chanel for the pendulum to sit within.  The beaded ring, barrel and chanel still had to allow for 'ease of swing' so significant fine tuning of the design was required at this time.  Now how to make it a vision of beauty ie a neckpiece worthy of the Gallery section of the esteemed Master Beader, Marcia DeCoster.  Not daunted I let the design 'rest' whilst my muse delivered the design .. I did not have to wait long.
The pendulum and side view of the barrel
The pendulum has to be at the base of the focal, where all good pendulum's are.  I designed a top half of the pendulum using another 60ss Dentelle, this time more heavily embellished and larger to aid in the balance of the focal. 
An initial join of the focals, but was abandoned.
The two focals joined using the rope feature

Then the next design hurdle presented itself to join the two components?  I decided upon creating another barrel for the top Dentelle focal, then joining the two with a strap of herringbone.  Joining the top focal and the pendulum focal required the most design time.  Why?  Balance had to be considered, the pendulum had to swing unobstructed and it had to look beautiful.  Days of bead engineering, sampling, undoing, redoing, frustration and a couple of times total dispair as I could not achieve harmony between the focals. 
But patiance and engineering prevailed and the two focals were successfully joined and achieved all the target specifications ie to swing and to be functional.  I changed out the length of the pendulum to a shorter version, then created a bead cap to add further weight to add in functionality of the 'swing' factor of the pendulum.
Close up of the 34carat Amethyst drop
Next part of the project was to hang the pendulum focals.  I decided on twin strands of Swrarovski pearls and the addition of another two 60ss Dentelles. 

Connector lengthens the neckpiece
Connector removed shortens the neckpiece

Then the clasp.  I am a fan of magnetic clasps, I source the finest and the strongest from around the world.  The magnetic clasps used in this design are gold filled and small. 
An addition of a single beadwoven ring of beads sits between the clasp focals which are two, 60ss Dentelles. This acts as a neckpiece connector, ie remove it and the neckpiece is shorter by an inch or so.  Hepzibah's Pendulum required 2 full weeks of beading and designing.
An email from Dawn Dillingham arrived this morning from Lark Publishing.  The email confirmed that Hepzibah's Pendulum was selected and will be included in the Gallery of Marcia DeCoster's second book 'Beads in Motion'.  I am so thrilled and I am so delighted.  I am uncertain of the scheduled release date of the book, but it will be 2013.
Late last year, 2012 I submitted Hepzibah's Pendulum to the Fire Mountain Beads & Gems, Seed Bead Category contest, which is run annually.  I received confirmation that Hepzibah's Pendulum had been selected for second round judging, she is currently in the USA.  I look forward to hearing how she went.  I will let you know as soon as I do.
Patrick informed me today on reading my blog, that he too has had work accepted to appear in the book.  How fabulous to share the pages with my delightful and talented friend. 

Thank you to Patrick Duggan and Marcia DeCoster for this amazing opportunity to share my work with the world.  I am deeply grateful.
Happy Beading
.... currently heading off into Melly World to absorb inspiration for Bead Dreams 2013.
ps you may note that a photograph of the completed 'Hepzibah's Pendulum' is not included in this blog post .. once the book is published I will share a pic.

ps news to hand (April 2013) Hepzibah's Pendulum won the 2012 Bronze Medal, Seed Bead Category in the Fire Mountain Gems & Beads, jewelry contest which is run annually.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Achieving Soutache Symmetry

Venetian Tango
Venetian Tango - Focal
Whilst wondering around in search of Soutache excellence to pin to my Board  'Soutache Extrodinaire' (yes I am Pinterest crazy right now).  I happened across a store that was selling a Soutache neckpiece for $175.  I looked closely argh .. cheap soutache, wonky stacking* and gasp .. symmetrical imperfection!  Now before I say anymore, lets just clear up that I do not claim to be the Queen of Soutache Embroidery, merely the Duchess of Symmetry (tongue in cheek of course).

Currently I am working on a Soutache piece entitled 'Venetian Tango' it's a vibrant piece using glass cabochons and beads from my vintage Venetian Millefiori collection,  The 'Tango' reference is ode to the vibrant red and black Soutache and sparkling movement the piece exudes.  I decided to share how I created two components for this to demonstrate how to achieve symmetry.

To achieve symmetrical perfection typically does not happen the first time you play with Soutache, indeed not the second or third time either.  Symmetrical perfection requires focus, steady hands, a good eye, technique and the final ingredient .. 'patience'. 
Creating Art is not a production line activity, so there is never a need to rush to finish, not ever.

Creating Symmetrical Perfection

Start by placing the components you want and lay them out in readyness.  I have two components here that require symmetrical perfection.

For these componets I precut  identical lengths of Soutache. I only use premium quality European Soutache. Soutache from 'Spotlight and/or Lincraft' is suitable for practice sampling only. 

I work from one component to the next, ie in tandem this way I am replicating identical components.

To ensure perfect symmetrical proportions of my fold back curls (we'll just call them curls for now).  I select the first component, ensure that my working thread (always use Fireline, typically I use 2lb or 4lb for sewing the Soutache) is exiting the edge of the back of the component (see pic below the 'white' line). 
See where the white line (Fireline) exits
Carefully fold back your Soutache stack of strands to form the curl, position them, ensuring the curl Soutache strands are carefully stacked.  Examine the curl, is it perfect?  If so, position the curl to the back of the cab by sewing through the ends of the Soutache and anchor it.  (At this point in time I like to sew through the curl stack to join the layers of Soutache).  Move to the second curl on the first cabochon.  Look at the first curl, then start creating the second curl.  Hold the ends with your fingers, now look at the curl .. ask yourself is it identical to the first curl? .. if not, redo it, keep redoing it until it is identical, then anchor it using your working thread.  Even after you have anchored the second curl, look at it again, from different angles, is it identical?  If not unpick and start again, as so often is said in Australia 'she'll be right mate' just will not do in this instance.

The first completed Compoent with Symmetrical Curls
The second component, this is where it starts to get a wee bit tricky as this one must be identical to the first component.  I understand that Soutache embroidery allows for 'organic movement' but typically the components must have symmetrical proportions.

Creating the Second Component
Once both components are completed, pick them up, look at them again 'Are they truly symmetrical?'
Remember your work is an extension of you, it reflects your design talent, craftsmanship, work ethics and your attention to detail.  Which in turn will reflect in your sales and return customers who will wait eagerly for your new designs. 

Symmetrical Components
Anneta Valious is releasing her new book, Soutache 30 Designs this June through Lark Publishing. My work appears in the Gallery of this book. 
If Soutache interests you this book is ideal for your library.  Keep out a watch for it on in the book section, typically new books from Lark Publishing are available for pre-order which saves you money from the cover price.  I will include the link to when the book is listed with them.
*Stacking refers to the layers of Soutache braid that 'lie' together.