Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hard won simplicity

The 'final' proofs of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Vol. 2 are going back and forth between Kate and the Edit team which I am part of. It is a sparkling beautiful body of work. People from everywhere around the world have contributed to take the beaded Triangle to the level of Spatial Hybrid Structures, and Kate applied Multiple View Geometry to her excellent Photography, and put words on what was impossible to express, or to name... Like a botanist, she had to find coherent family names for all the pieces to be able to describe and sort them in chapters. Rick Rack, Zig-Wing, All-Wing, Horned Bangle... It's an encyclopedia. I am wondering if she could imagine what was behind the door she opened the day she took upon her shoulders the orchestration of such a huge collaborative project, but she opened it and the enormous mountain of possibilities shook, and a lawina of beaded awesome tumbled down, each piece more beautiful than the other.

I am proud that some of my pieces are in the book, but even prouder to have contributed to some of the newborn delights with Jalisco Bangle, which happens to be an All-Wing, with serious spatial intentions. I wish that I could make more pieces with huge wings and peaks and pods, but my own patterns also request time and I need the extra income. I am also working on a book together with Gerlinde Lenz, about her fabulous Diamond Weave, and also want to make something for myself from time to time, without patterns or books in mind. My studio has never been such a mess.

Esmeralda's bag with
'Jalisco' opening
My time dedicated to Contemporary Geometric Beadwork is a gift, and my rewards are to be part of the fabulous (every day) and the thrill when seeing others come up with designs where I can see my modest influence (sometimes). It makes me feel warm inside, proud, but admirative too. It is amazing to see where the beaders take the techniques. It is incredible how one idea morphs into another.
The book also features wise and interesting quotes about all kinds of things, such as architecture and color. My second favorite, right after the one by Seneca which Kate gracefully accepted to put in one of the pages showcasing my 'Moonrise' cuff, is this one, by the British-Swiss modern-times philosopher Alain de Botton (listen to his talk, you'll love this guy):

Click to see larger image
of 10-pointed  pod
“For us to deem a work of architecture
elegant, it is not enough that it look simple:
we must feel that the simplicity it
displays has been hard won.”

Hard won simplicity. That's what Jalisco Bangle is. It was born from the Yukka flower: I increased the hole in the center of the flower, didn't add beads of different sizes and didn't close the tips. I stripped the design, simplified it. Doesn't that sound odd?

Samurai pod
What I call the Yukka flower was born from the Fork and the Fork was born from my wish to fold a triangle over a rubber cord so that I could wear it point-down. Not just any triangle. June Huber's Totally Twisted Triangle. Such a lovely design, we all wanted to make it here on this side of the pond. It wouldn't fold, so I thought: let's make a square. And a hexagon. And an octogon. Or only two points - that was the Pepper. I also made pods... tiny, multi-pointed pods... I still have no idea how to explain the Samurai pod design in a tutorial. If only I weren't photophobic, I would organize a retreat. Because anyone who has a good beading background can make it and a retreat is so much fun. It is so hard to explain spatial things - this is why Kate's and Karen's and Christina Vandervlist's work is so admirable.
Tiny Tulips - 3D flowers
with MRAW stems

I sometimes think that I should rewrite the Pepper, Fork and Yukka Flower tutorial so that the intermediate beader could try it too (I taught it to a beginner with success), but CGB opened my eyes on how things need to be brought to a student in writing; it takes an entire book and I am already busy enough. Since there is some 'reading between the lines' counting on the beader's profenciency, PFY will remain something for advanced beaders, or at least for the fearless ones. So far, only one person told me that it was not detailed enough and I helped her out, of course. I strive to make more precise explanations now, and my more recent patterns, like the Tiny Tulip pattern, are very detailed.
But still not for wussy pants.

“It is not because things are
difficult that we do not dare; it is
because we do not dare that
things are difficult.”
- Seneca -

Another example of 'Hard won simplicity': Some time ago, I found another use of the simple 6 wings (all increase): it wanted to become a chain. The elements can be placed in any order, like Lego.

Just because of the quote, I decided to bead it up, between two proofs, in two days.

This said, I would also like to shout out how proud I am that my very first entry in the Etsy BeadWeavers Team Challenge of the month of June has won the first place in the public poll! YAY!!! I am so grateful! Many thanks for your support! The Tristan & Iseult Scented Bottle necklace was designed to tell the story of the two unfortunate lovers and is for sale in my Etsy shop. It was made with Steampunk style in mind, an embellished MRAW band around the bottle, a Yukka flower with tiny Maypole stem and lots of love.

Tristan & Isolde Scented Bottle Necklace


  1. Holy cats! So much stuff rolled into one post! And of all of what you said, (and this is hysterically funny to me!) I loved best what you said about "hard won simplicity." And the beautiful bracelet of interchangable links. And this Seneca guy. I gotta go look him up because obviously, he was a genuis. It is so easy to let fear and offense creep into our souls and stop us from moving forward. I love you, and your work, Cath. Keep finding the joy and beauty in life.

  2. Cath I admire your work so much and that collage poster is fabulous, are you selling them? Jean Disrud

  3. Cath, I am an admirer of you and your work. You such great strength and joy at the same time. And you can put words together that I never could. So, thank you.
    And a question. Do you have copies of your wonderful collage for sale? I would to buy one.

  4. This is a wonderful post and many congratulations to you! I will take a chance on a name: Zipper Trifold Chain. I like the semi-triangular elements, their interlocking nature, and the fact that the chain looks (to me) like the teeth of a zipper. Thanks always for sharing. ♡♡


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