Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Beadworkers Guld Challenge 2021 - Save the planet - Bead it, dont bin it!

Gland - Switzerland

Here in Gland, where I live, glass, paper (clean of grease), cardbox (dito), PET (dito), metal, aluminium and even oils (mineral and non-mineral) are recuperated and recycled or treated. Same for batteries, mobile phones and other devices. 

Peels and other food waste go to the compost bin.  Every flat and house has a bin for that.

Old furniture and other stuff like that goes in a big container and will be sorted and everything that can be recycled will be sent to the right plant doing that.

The things not entering one of these categories and that are not toxic (which one has to bring back to the shop where it was bought, like medecines), go in the bin and will be burnt near Geneva, in a plant with specific filters for air protection, and the resulting energy heats the city of Geneva. We nevertheless have to pay our garbage bags a high price (to encourage recycling).

WWF/IUCN/Ramsar Convention main entrance.

The fact that Gland hosts the world headquarters of the WWF, brainchild of the IUCN, whose HQ are also in Gland, is certainly a reason why we have all this and I appreciate it. I even worked for the IUCN in the past and organised the creation of a beaded tree by people from many countries.


The WWF "celebrate" their 60th Jubilee this year. There are some specials in their online shop.

Now after reading the above, you may understand that I am glad that I already had kept something that I didn't want to bin, for I might still be searching for the subject of my entry in this year's BWG challenge: a bird.

Peace Astray

Peace Astray



Nothing was purchased for this project. The bird came from a broken kitchen clock, the cabochons and beads from stash, the crystal chain and chimera paws were left over from previous projects (my square for the Museum of Beadwork and my Fantasy Chess Play), the wooden base came from a beam hubby cut to raise his mom’s sofa and the metallic pin supporting the bird comes from an old bead-display.

Tools and glue for bead mosaic were in my home since several years, but I feared to waste materials. This year’s theme and Jan Huling’s 3 top tips in the 87th Journal lead this complete novice to do bead mosaics, inspired by Betsy Youngquist’s work.

 


The Guild encourages participants to challenge themselves. I had never done bead mosaics before so the whole project was a challenge and it was much harder than I thought (in particular on a base with carvings like this bird had). Gluing beads implies stringing them to «unstring» them in a specific manner. Adding one bead at a time with tweezers was sometimes easier. I learned so much! Using the right amount of glue, removing beads and glue with the right tools, etc. I had much fun.



Special characteristics:

The crystal chain draws a peace symbol on the back of the bird, hence the name Peace. This was not intentional. I added it without looking at it from the top, and suddenly it was there!. I also used a really special hollow cabochon made of old embossed metallic plane dashboards, which I got from Ruth Buffington (an amazing bead artist whose steam-punk creations I admire). This cabochon represents the loss of directions.

My work was that of a beginner, so unsurprisingly it didn't win anything, but I don't care about that. I knew that before submitting the piece. The importance is to participate. I am happy with both the journey and the result, and grateful that the BWG challenge has me push my boundaries.

There were very, very little participants in this Challenge, last year too. I hope that next year, with the super inspiring new theme and the probability that all the entries will be on display as in the past, there will be more entries. Why not yours?

Next year's challenge theme is "Hollywood or Bollywood".

Oh my!


Cath

Thursday, May 20, 2021

I am romantic

When Preciosa asked me if I would like to make something with their beads I accepted immediately because they would send me beads in their newest finish, ivory, and if there is one color I love, it is ivory. Unsurprisingly, they asked their team of designers to focus on wedding, änd I happily dove into the box of beads to make as many things as I could (I was very busy with another thing and the deadline was quite short). I used a variety of stitches:

Diamond Weave - based on my design "Isatis"

Saint-Petersburg stitch.
This one really looks like a feather

Based on my design "Isatis"

MRAW - based on "Sera alla Scala"

Bridal Sera alla scala on a bust
This is a favorite design, with its
heart shaped rope.

I made this beadwoven haircomb with little petals and assorted hair pin.

The 2-hole cabochon beads which came in 3 sizes are fantastic. There are so many design possibilities. I have always wanted to create a fronthead piece for a bride, and with the super thin wire from beadalon and little haircombs, I made this dainty front jewellery using crimp beads to hold the beads in place. I found it really challenging to get the symmetry right. 

Because they sent all sorts of shaped beads and pastel pearl lined seed beads, I decided to give bead mosaic a try. It was quite a learning curve, but I had lots of fun! The shaped beads really lend themselves well for mosaics. I made little pendants and earrings. You may think that using glue is easy or fast, but it is really not. I placed the beads one by one in most cases.







with beaded fan attached to the clutch

I hope to do more bead mosaic in the future, but my favorite technique remains off-loom bead weaving and I made something I adore:

The new pastel pearl lined seed beads are absolutely delightful, but it is hard to capture their delightfulness in photos and their texture is marvelous. Really round seed beads feel magical in woven "fabric". The celestial light blue seed beads made me think of a perfect summer sky in Switzerland. It inspired me to create my own Eros & Psyche clasp using a Claspgarten clasp and transparent glass cabochon. I think that in this piece the beautiful pearlescence of the seed beads show well.

The stitch for the bracelet is hexagonal Diamond Weave (var. 3) with thread cover beads. The motifs in the bracelet are clouds. I added pearls and larger seed beads to better show the clouds. You will find a (free) graph for the clouds here.


Seeing my work skillfully photographed by Preciosa's photographer is always a moment of true delight. Discovering in their album what my fellow bead designers made is a treat you may like to enjoy too. Nevertheless, the clasp that I made myself is more beautiful in real life and the bracelet is one of my forever favorites. 

The clasp shows a miniature detail of the oil painting "Amour et Psyché" by William Adolphe Bouguereau in 1890. The painting features Greek mythological figures Eros and Psyché, sharing an embrace and kiss. I love this painting.

Thank you for reading me. If you too like beadwoven bracelets like the one above, you can purchase the e-book Diamond Weave in my shop.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Black Tiles Matter

The newly founded Museum of Beadwork launched a beautiful collaborative beading project called "The Beaded Square" project to celebrate their opening. Bead artists from all horizons were asked to bead a 6"x6" square for a permanent exhibit. You can see the photos of all the squares here and will discover amazing art. Not one piece is the same, but all are amazingly beautiful. 

This is my square (photographed on a red background that is not part of the square).

Black Tiles Matter

 It was a humbling process to create. I am not a very good bead embroiderer, which shows, ugh. Admittedly, I am not even able to cut paper or fabric straight, but with this piece I discovered that doing straight bead-embroidery is... de la folie. But I really wanted to make my tile like this.

Pondering where to place the
"jewels"
The guidelines for the squares (size, etc.) included a preference for jewel tones. That tickled me, and my muse, rebellious by nature, said "make a dissent tile with Diamond Weave black tiles and call it "Black Tiles Matter" (as a wink to "Black Lives Matter", of course).

As a beadweaver, I used quite a bit of beadweaving and because so many things happened in 2020, the BLM aspect of the piece is quite obvious.

The overal construction was inspired by the sky view of the road painted with yellow letters in New York City:

The variations in the black tiles represent black lives in their diversity. The crystal stones represent talent, potential - some have loads, some not - it doesn't matter: they all matter.

The long bugles and the crystal cup chain represent walls (of wealth) and fences (of fortune), or how power emprisons the black lives. 

 

The raised center represents the growing force beneath the whole BLM movement, deep and strong. 

Because the long bugles broke the thread continuously, I attached them all with coated wire. It was all lovely, nice, quite straight... but didn't feel good. Because unfair systems should not be maintained. So I disturbed it, and broke the "walls" intentionally.

Artwork by Banksy

Cesar A. Cruz said that "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" (Banksy spread the word). I think that many beautiful, non-disturbing things can be considered as Art, but love that our beadwork can convey messages. And that even a collar can have a deep meaning when related to actions - like the one worn by late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to express dissent. It has become so well known, that when searching for the word "dissent" with Google, her image, and items showing just her collar with the words "I dissent" are among the first results.

It is wonderful that now there is a museum of beadwork, chanting the beautiful art of beading and beadweaving. And I'm grateful for the opportunity given to be part of what might well be or become one of the most prestigious collections of modern beadwork ever. Many thanks to the museum, their founders, sponsors and staff.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

May you have a Merry Christmas anyway

I hoped to write more articles this year, but... you know, life...

However, for the end of this catastrophic year, I had to write the words that I heard in my head a couple of days ago and that is

"be merry anyway"

The above piece of advice has helped me to face the challenges life has thrown at me the past years of light sensitivty. To me, it says "don't let anyone or anything destroy your inner self".

It also says to me: "Don't let disease (fibro, Covid - whatever) spoil the good things in your life". This is very easy to say, and very hard to apply to every day life. And in addition, many of you have to face loss and sorrow, but if you read this post, it means that you are still there. It also means that you have shelter, food, contact through Internet technology. When I realized, yesterday, that it somehow is a miracle that I (and hubby) reached Christmas time, I cried with relief. 

Winter time is a pause, and in the
Spring Nature will wake up again.

The whole world is working hard to find solutions and I'm sure that they will be found. It is my hope that we will reach the end of this nightmare all together real soon. Despair is not an option, we need to remain positive.When the feeling of isolation hits hard, it might be helpful to think of it as an unusually long Winter. 

There are better days ahead. 

What also helps, is to join a ZOOM drop-in or group meeting. It is free. I assure you that stranded-mermaid-social-interaction-through-ZOOM is much more bearable than stranded-mermaid-loneliness

Also, where else would you hear about the existence of the MerB'ys calendar, a group of Mermen who proudly take the pose for a charity.

Just a wink. These Canadian guys do the
calendar to raise funds in favor of mental
illness patients.

I would like to thank the Beadworkers Guild trustees and other lovely people who regularly organize heart-warming, informal get-togethers. For me, it is the silver-lining of the pandemic, because the whole world got locked up like me, and found new ways to gather. Suddenly I wasn't lonely anymore! If you too want to join a meeting, send me a message and I will gladly help you.

I had my first Christmas "social get together"
in years and cannot express how
happy I am about that.

 

We, as humans, have amazing resilience. And just a bit of kindness can do wonders. 

My hubby said that this year we have to re-invent Christmas. He cheers up the cashiers, all masked up and having, before he does his magic, long sad faces, because most people are stressed and unpleasant or simply not talking at all. He says things like "I'm so grateful that I could find all this nice food! I feared that with this year's situation, tons of things would be missing. It must have been quite a tour de force to have it all available, allowing us to make something nice for our Christmas dinner..." And that makes them happy. He also is specially kind with all those waiting in line when waiting to pay for groceries, and gives them and others his best tips, like using a phone stylet instead of fingers to type a code on payment terminals, the door keys to touch the lift buttons... He has a spare mask in his pocket, in case he feels that one is not good anymore. 


Wearing a mask is like holding
an umbrella for someone else.
 

I am so grateful to have this man in my life.

People were surprised that he brought them home-made cookies. Although he refused to enter their apartments, he explained that making happy makes us happy too, so we decided to do something for those living nearby (in the same flat or send something by post). Guaranteed covid free! They liked that, and suddenly, we are some sort of adoptive family under the same roof. 

 

 

We also donated to the "Heart boxes", an org that collects pantry goods in favour of the poor, whose numbers are rising. I wish that I could do more than that, but alas. But I ordered little stylets to offer to many. Such a great yet cheap gift that fits in an envelop and hop, in the mail box.

I hope that, you too, have the chance to brighten somebody's day these days. 

Make Christmas special in a different way. 

Have a Merry Christmas anyway.

With all my love,
Cath





Friday, September 25, 2020

Zoom on a not so solid Solid...

Last year I worked on 2 major projects. One was my "Fantasy" chess play for the  2020 Beadworker's Guild Challenge, and the other one was this fun bauble, the Triskele Bauble. And Oh! some of my work got selected to appear at the 2019 Math & Fashion show in Linz. Perhaps I should enter this bauble in the 2021 show? I might need to find its exact name though... what solid could it be, hmmm?

It took a year to find out how to create this tantalizing Triskele bauble

You can order the Bridges Linz 2019
Math +Fasion Look Book here

So yes, I entered the 2019 Bridges Art & Math show with a jewelry set and  a necklace. 8 years separate the two pieces. Surprise, both were accepted. Some time after that, a beautiful Look Book was published, and I can't express how pleased I am to be included, together with many wonderful bead artists whom I appreciate tremendously, notably the CGB team and Kris Empting-Obenland.

I didn't expect to be selected because, admittedly, mathematics are not my "thing", but when I bead, I count, and measure lengths. Of a wrist or neck, or whatever object I wish to cover... I make forms. Shapes. Geometrics. And there is a math formula for everything, be it already known, or not yet. There must be one for the Triskele bauble.

The necklace, "Connectedness" (2009) was entirely made with multiples of 11 beads. Loops (and bridges) of 11, 22, 33 and 44 beads were added to form a web similar to the skirt of the maiden veil mushroom. It chants the beautiful bridges we beaders build thanks to the Internet, eg. computer technology, hence the wink to binary code and the world wide web.

Connectedness is part technique, part art and part poetry.

 

The set was composed of tetrahedron-shaped items. My "Open Hearts" chain (as a bracelet), Open Heart earings, a necklace called Chirimania - sliding cords with an Open heart pendant and an Open Heart bail folded inside out, and Mermaid Tail cord ends. (2018)

I was asked to send a photo with the jewelry worn, to give a sense of proportion.
Had I known that it would be included in their look book, I would have
goodied myself up a bit - but I didn't expect to be selected.

 

These semi-rigid shapes are all made in the same manner - Rick Racks - with the same beads, but either folded differently while beading, or started either with an even or an odd number of beads at the beginning. They are closed in the case of the cord ends to hide the knots in the cord. It still stuns me that it is possible to obtain so many different shapes by folding beadwork. Learn more about it in this article.


 

Playing with shapes is fun. However, it is not easy to talk about things without a name. In fact, I generally don't care much until I have to find a name. I care about the zigzagging, folding and now even more the morphing properties of the beadwork. For example, when I made my first Paradox Pendulum, in my books it was a folded octogon with what I call soft and strong increases, part of my Toho Challenge piece

After seeing the many hyperbolic plane funnies made by my talented CGB friends, I wonder if my pendulum is one... but I think that in CGB language it is an 8-pointed "All-wing" with triangle & hexagon increases. Paradox Pendulum it will remain, because I like poetry, and the shape can make one think of so many things,.

 
The Pendulum shown in the video is "New Year's Eve".
The white one above ornates the Christmas tree of my dad's girlfriend.

 

To talk about things and how they are made, math can be a great tool, but it can get difficult.  

See the names of the beautiful Beaded Johnson Solids project started by Diane Fitzgerald. Had you ever heard of a gyrate bidiminished rhombicosidodecahedron? Not me! But I loved making it, using triangles, squares, hexagons and decagons as per Diane's pattern, and I learned a lot. Diane invited us to give our shapes another name. Mine makes me think of Spiderman. But the most interesting aspect of the whole projet, in my books, was that the shapes don't need stuffing (they are self-supporting); and that the triangles very stubbornly raised atop the other shapes. I wonder if it is thanks to the triangles that the beaded shapes are semi-rigid, for they provoke good tension on the beaded shape.





The names for the Johnsons's solids must be the result of an intense decortication of elements in common and their opposites.

This "naming" of geometric shapes and beading them brings me back to the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork publications. 

Last week, I had the wonderful surprise to see my Kaleidocycle as front piece of the chapter about cycles included in the beautiful Pattern Book, published by Kate McKinnon. What an incredible honor. And it is a beautiful introduction.


I love the way Kate puts words on things. In the first books we discovered Wings and Horns and Elegant Guide Rounds. We have discovered the Exploding Round and then the Explodig PodCast.

You can only love to discover explicit names like "Bat Cycle" or "Butterfly Net". And what about "Hot Corners"? Not (yet) academic, but spot on, poetic and mysterious all at once. It will make poets, artists and geeks happy. One day it might we adopted so broadly that it will become academic.


My Jalisco Bangle, for which I shared
the instructions in CGB vol. I later
got the beautiful family name "All-Wing"
which has perpetual movement properties.

 Geometric peyote really can have one leg in geometrics and the other leg in physics (for its kinetic properties). It is very difficult to put the right name on beaded items, because if  beads are rigid, the obtained result isn't necessarily so "solid". But this is why it is soooooooo satisfying to play with said items.

This brings me to my Triskele Bauble and upcoming Zoom workshop. The Kaleidocycle and the Johnson Solid project have been major influences (bad and good) in the making of this new project.

My bauble is inspired by the  beautiful Triskele paper globes by Hattifant. I saw it many years ago and exactly as for the Kaleidocycle, I immediately had to make it with beads, but back then, I knew that I didn't have the skills (and also not so much time - I was working on my book about Diamond Weave). Early in 2019, I felt confident that I would be able to make it.

I've been working on prototypes without success during months. Admittedly more off than on, because of other priorities, like my chess play for the 2020 Beadworker's Guild Challenge, but efforts have not been spared. It felt like chewing it during months.

When seeing the Johnson Solids,  I understood that I had to change my approach for this bauble, and that was to not think "like paper" as I did for my Kaleidocycle 10 years ago , but only geometric peyote beadwork. And eureka, suddenly, things came together as I hoped. After several attempts and prototypes from which I learned a lot, I finally succeeded to obtain a lovely result.



Learn more about this workshop on my website, and prepare to be surprised how beadwork can have magic.

Now the question what kind of solid it is remains, but whatever the correct scientific name it may have, I call it a Triskele Bauble, to honor Hattifant, to express my love for the "morphing" possibilities of beadwork thanks to its solid yet not so solid properties, and because a Triskele is an antique symbol of kinetics.