Monday, July 7, 2014

Creating 'Athena' .. Battle of the Beadsmith 2014

Battle of the Beadsmith 2014 was not the smooth design ride that the inaugural BOTB12 was for me. I knew without hesitation what I needed to do for that contest. Arabesque Armour reached the Top 5 which was an incredible achievement owing to the level of talent within the group.  BOTB14, not so easy, not so easy at all.

My initial inspiration for the BOTB14 was an infinity knot as a focal, I had no clue other than that! I did know I wanted the clasp to be bead embroidered. I achieved the infinity knot that was in my minds eye .. but once I started arranging the jewels and adding embellishment to the knot .. it began to look less and less of a battle worthy design.  It got shelved.  Below are three of the many design shuffles.

New plan.... 
I knew what the colorway was going to be .. turquoise and peridot softened with creamy pearls.  Textually I had to include my new love Shibori silk ribbon. I wanted the design to be beadwoven with the inclusion of bead embroidery.  After many trials I was able to create a bezel using CRAW for all of my navette shapped stones. It was nice and tight and gave me a good surface for embellishment. I wanted to use rose gold as my metallic highlight.  I bought a few hundred rose gold bicones from my local bead store .. I added them to the design.  Then I noticed that the rose gold coating was breaking off in tiny flakes on the bicones, leaving ugly black flea bites in their place.  I knew the problem would only get worse and this would compromise my design.  5 hours later every single bicone was removed from my design. Will I use 4mm rose gold bicones again no.

Whilst I was working on the main part of the neckpiece I was also working on the bead embroidered clasp. This is the only part of the design that I knew for certain from the beginning of the project.  The Shibori ribbon was supplied by (Lisa Kan) and the Arashi ribbon (Deborah Weaver).  I used Czech size 15 seed beads to outline my floral design. The clasp joins the neckpiece via snaps attached to the underside of the motif.  These attach with the other half of the snaps to the Shibori ribbon straps.

The bead embroidered clasp 'under construction'
After six weeks of expediting elements from the US, lots of worrying, lots of sketching of my thoughts, undoing and redoing parts of the design... it was finished.  I had booked my model and photograhphy session even before completing the design.  This gave me an absolute deadline and allowed the photographer time to edit the photos and allow for any reshoots. 

Deciding which colour Shibori to use for the necklace strap.  
Why call the piece Athena .. The Goddess Athena from ancient Greek mythology was the custodian of War (although she did not condone it, she was the Goddess of Inspiration and Weaving.  All symbols that in part define the Battle of the Beadsmith.

One of the many designs for the necklace strap that were not used.
These are a selection of photos from the Photo shoot, May 2014. Photography credits Frank Hurrell of Imago Photography.  Athena managed to move onto the next round, Round 2. I wish all Battler's much success.

The bead woven clasp


  1. What a creative journey, perfection is not easily achieved "damn those rose gold bicones", Athena is a triumph, thank you for sharing the process. cheers sue harle