Saturday, January 2, 2016

From Petal to Pod

Happy New Year! May 2016 be healthy and bring you lots of joy!!! 

I have a project to start the new year with, and I hope that you will participate in it.

A sampler made by my mother
First a little flash back.
My mom had learned beading very well from her friend Berthy Bijlard, but all I can remember was how to make my own kidney earwires with wire and pliers. And cross-stitching. That, I have never forgotten. I was 14 when I learned this from Berthy. She was an Art Therapist. In fact, I don't know how they called her profession back then, but what I remember is that she had a huge art class in a clinic, where patients could learn painting, knitting, sewing, beading, cross stitching, etc.

A necklace crocheted by my mother
approx 25 years ago, thanks to
Berthy's instructions.
I loved to be at Berthy's home. It was fun and peaceful. Her daughter Lisette and I were best friends and often spent our holidays together. I am grateful beyond words that she welcomed me so often, and for having lit the spark of creativity in me. It has made me a happier person.

I stopped x-stitching when seed beads entered my life, when I saw  Diane Dennis's exquisite Firemountain Gems and Beads 2004 Grand Prize-winning jewelry set. In fact, I loved her beautiful work so much that it made me wish to be able to bead "like that", and so peyote stitch became my first love with seed beads (and pearls).

There weren't many tutorials and beading instructions available, but with a bit of research, I could find the needed instructions published by generous beaders, and with a lot of trial and error I learned the basic off-loom stitches and started exploring my "own inner voice". This is how my Jewelry Set "Roma" (also called "Peeking Pearls") was born, and thanks to this design I had the incredible honor to be the winner of the Grand Prize of the Firemountain Gems and Beads contest myself in 2006.

With peyote stitch, seed beads fall into place very naturally and the beadwork can be zipped easily. I prefer shapes with an even number of increases (or peaks or wings), because they can be folded, like a square, which becomes a triangle bail when folded, or a hexagon, which becomes a trapeze, or a multi-wing morphing into a puffy flower when zipped. These are all shapes which were and still are explored and taken further by masters and beginners, worldwide, in particular within the framework of Kate McKinnon's "Contemporary Geometric Beadwork" project.

a little petal
While playing with peyote to make geometric shapes, I thought “why 3 or more peaks and not just 2? So I tried. And there it was, a little petal that cupped a little bit. It is very modest at first sight, and one could be tempted to think that it is just another little leaf, but I think that it has great potential.

The past years, I worked on many different things but this petal always came back on my beading mat and each time I promised myself to take it further 'when time allows'. I think that now is the right time.

Petals like this hold their shape well, and can adopt various positions when cupped in or out, or both. In addition, thanks to the little dented edges, one petal can be part of a group of petals, zipped together, leading to endless design possibilities. I made several patterns using petals. When the other day I added a partial Elegant Guide Round to the petals of a large flower, I understood that I would never be able to explore all the possibilities in a lifetime, even if I had two other me. So I took example on  Kate and decided to make this petal exploration an open source project. I don't know exactly where it will take me. Maybe I will write a book with instructions for the best designs arising from it.

The video below shows a few things I made with petals. I am not a very good film-maker and apologize for the quality. I seem to never keep my hands in the frame of the image so I had to cut pieces and bits of 3 videos and assemble them in one.

Do you want to download the instructions for the petals and learn more? Join the  Facebook 'Petal to Pod' group, a place to share our Petal design ideas. It is my wish that it becomes a community of friendly enthusiasts playing with these petals to create new, playful designs, may it be single petal, two-petal or many petal designs, Flowers, buds, pods, pistils, in layers or abstract forms; short, long, wide or thin, cupping heavily or only slightly... whatever your beady brain comes up with. Ask questions, share your designs, trials and errors. Errors are very welcome, they often teach us much more than successes. It is entirely free.

And through this, I hope to light sparks of creativity in you!

Happy Beading,