Monday, August 10, 2020

We exist in each others' eyes

I love the IBW logo because it is so meaningful. Sure, it shows beads of many colors, in a circle. But when you see the second logo, you understand that these beads represent us, beaders from everywhere around the globe, of different origins and colors, all in a circle, which means all equal. The Beadworkers Guild's aim is to bring us together! And they do!

Despite the Covid crisis, International Beading Week (IBW) was a real success. Unable to meet in person, our wonderful Beadworkers Guild trustees were prompt to find a solution and hosted quite an important number of ZOOM meetings for beaders around the globe to gather online. And it was wonderful. My only regret is that I couldn't attend all meetings!

The good news is that we will have a ZOOM meeting every end of the month!

Beading in our own little corner of the world is a nice activity. It can make us forget everything around us - which can be very therapeutic and prevent us from loosing our sanity, but beading is a visual art, and visual means "to be seen". Unless you are enlightened and chose to live like a hermit, if there is nobody to show your makes to, you miss half the fun. Even if it's just a matter of having our fingers busy, the result matters!

IBW Pride Flower
A teacher in highschool once told me that "we exist in the eyes of the other". In other words, if there is nobody to see me, or "acknowledge" my existence, I'm just a nobody and - here again - I might not be enlightened enough to deal with that.

After years of light sensitivity, I interact with a lot of people on Facebook. It could have been around another hobby - knitting, baking, painting... anything! But I happen to love the Art of beadweaving and share the thrill of a beautiful colorway or a special construction method with people who love beading too. And thankfully, beaders are mostly awesome people who encourage and support one another, which is so good! 

IBW double flower
When I started my first beading workshop for beginners here in my home town, a lady was surprised that she didn't have to pay for it. She asked why and my answer was: "I created these workshops to fight social isolation, starting with mine". Another participant smiled from ear to ear. I will never forget that smile.

Unfortunately, covid has spoiled our get-togethers. So to be able to bead together via ZOOM was the best thing that could happen. With the help of Sylvia Fairhurst, I enjoyed teaching the IBW flower workshop and hope to do more classes in the future. And I will join the monthly meetings organized by the Beadworkers Guild whenever possible. It's as good as sunlight in the rain creates beautiful rainbows!
The pattern for this key fob and the IBW Pride
flower are available from the IBW website

Now before showing the photos of the various IBW yearly color challenge, I would like to tell you about various collaborative beading projects taking place this year. They are in the spirit of "Beading together apart", and I love to participate because it connects us in a special way. If we are all part of Planet Bead, projects like these make you feel like a member of a beading family!

1. Initiated during IBW by Prof. Sam Norgard, beaders of all horizons (from as many countries as possible) are welcome to join the Black and White together Project. You can join and send in your B&W warped squares until October 1st to the organizers. Learn more about it on the dedicated IBW website page.

Beautifully beaded warped squares by Ann Rascenet-Cole
2. The B&W project is not the same as the one initiated by Kate McKinnon within the framework of the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork "CGB" Warped Square project. Beaders all over the world are invited to make and send warped squares for the CGB team to assemble into various sculptures. They plan on creating several huge museum installations incorporating them. The deadline was this Spring, but due to covid, it as been extended and warped squares are accepted until further notice.
Visit the CGB website for more details.

This incredible pile of delight counts 175 warped squares, beaded for
the CGB project by at least 20 talented South African beaders.
Photo courtesy Karen Beningfield

3. The new Museum of Beadwork based in Portland, ME, USA called for 6x6 inch tiles for their future permanent exhibit. Their deadline has been moved to the 19th of March 2021 so there is plenty of time left to bead your special tile for it to become part of their ginormous "beaded quilt". Please make sure to read the instructions and rules well. Below you can see a photo of the beautiful tile made by Karen Long, in its final stage of construction. It looks a little bit like a 3D Buddhist mandala.

 4. If you are not into square beadwork, then perhaps you will like Cate and Christopher Venn's incredible Universal Nebula Dress project, which will soon enter its second phase, that is the addition of the beadwork to a silk dress. If you haven't sent your bezeled rivolis or, even better, open rings with floating chaton, you still can until the end of the month of August. When finished, the dream dress will be auctioned to benefit head and neck cancer research.

5. Diane Fitzgerald created a Facebook group where participants can show and discuss their 92 Johnson Solids made with beads thanks to the clever patterns put together with the help of Pat Verrier and Julia Pretl. Most numbers were quickly taken by enthusiastic beaders, and when Sylvia Fairhurst took upon her to organize a UK collection with the help of Pat Verrier, there was quite a bit of a rush. The FB group is for both the US and UK projects and participants. What is left to do if all numbers have already been assigned? Diane has recently challenged beaders to create patterned solids. She will publish a booklet with photos of the pieces. I would recommend trying several shapes, for they are really very satisfying to bead and they naturally stretch your beady brain.

Johnson Solid #82 beaded by yours truly,
Net for Johnson Solid #82 (before assembling)

And now.... drum roll please! Here are the photos of the year-long beading challenge pieces. It's a stellar edition!!
Please join me in applauding the valiant beaders who finished their piece:

This is a real clock by Ann Bourke!!! Isn't it incredible? It is entirely her own design.

This beautiful collection of stars was made by Bertha Will Hawley. (stars like this were made first by Jean Power and Eva Maria Keiser).

Caroline Lloyd designed a fabulous collection of beaded tassels of all sorts (using the bolas canastas method ). She even made some of the silk tassels herself. 

This fabulous pod collection with encrusted bicones was made by Margaret Haigh‎. Pod design by Marca Smit.

Two participants went for delightful little pentagon cushions, as taught by Diane Fitzgerald (in one of her books). Both are beautiful and I love to see the two photos near each other, for they show the cushions from two different angles:

This one was made by Sue Hargreaves:


And this one by Sylvie Pelchat Sutter:

And this marvelous collection of stars of another sort - based on the Twinkle Twinkle Shooting Star Photo Frame Ornament from Thread A Bead - was created by Valorie J McClory, and I don't think that the other participants will mind that I post two photos, one of all the elements on the IBW logo, and one of the beautiful mobile that she made with them.

When I see this, I think that I need to make a mobile myself too!!!

Shelly Gillmann made an awesome lariat necklace with her beautiful crystal beaded dodecahedrons of her own design.

 Jessica Hayman made a beautiful collection of star-shaped "crystal flowers", a design by Jean Power. She hasn't assembled them all into a finished creation but just seeing these lovelies together is awesome:

Linda Schmieder made "perfect square rainbow simple little doo-dads with pearl coin centers" as she described them in our Facebook group, and plans to make a necklace with them.

Similarly, Nancy Deonarine wants to use her Pentabezels (from a free IBW pattern written by yours truly) to make a necklace, but she wishes to go beyond the 12 colors! She also made a little IBW vessel as taught by Katie Dean in which she stores them.

And this beautiful rick rack cuff was made by Teresa Shelton who proves that you don't necessarily need to make separate elements but you can also, like her, add a couple of rows each month to a rick rack and at the end, it turns into an amazing cuff. It doesn't even need to be made with Delicas, or a specific color number; her selection of beads bring incredible texture and spark to the piece.

And I made a Summer Flower hat this year, and because there's a lot to tell about it, I wrote another blogpost with more details about the flowers.

And now it is already the time to think about what to do next!

You can participate in this challenge too!!! Join the Facebook group and have fun!

Happy  beading!



  1. So cool to have so many collaborative beading projects around the world and that anyone can contribute. All it takes are some tiny gkass beads, thread and some time to donate a little beaded delight.
    I am thrilled that you show my black and white warped squares as part of the Black and White Together project. It will be interesting to see what the team does with them all.
    Likewise with the CGB warped squares project.
    This year has really opened my eyes to how beaders come together in the virtual world to support each other and make astonishing projects come to life. Hope to see the finished pieces in 2021.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ann! and for your photo too! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished pieces too!

  2. Cath, I am proud to be included in this post with so many talented beaders... Thank you! I think you really showcased the many ways that beads are used to bring us all together. This has been a tough time for many people, but during IBW I felt more connected and inspired, due in large part to the FB posts and Zoom gatherings. We have a great community! Thanks again!

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely comment, Karen! I think that your square is fantabulous and deserves to be in the spotlight. Thank you again for the photo!


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