Friday, June 28, 2013

Down in Battle...But Not Out!

The Battle of the Beadsmith has finished up round one and unfortunately my Locked in Time did not move on.  Sure, I'm disappointed.  I enjoyed such wonderful feedback and comments from my fellow beaders for my admittedly way-out-there Steampunk meets Seed Beads collar.  Of course, I still feel that the minute I finished my work on Locked in Time, I won!  So congrats and best of luck to those in round 2 where voting should start soon!  Here are a couple more close up pictures of the details. 

So, I said I'm not OUT... I may be out of the battle, but I've been thrilled to see the response to Locked in Time.  It's now listed in my Etsy Shop

And I'm honored to have been featured by The Navigatrix in her blog and Tumblr account  and a sweet treasury titled "SteamPink"

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How I got Locked in Time!

Let me take you on a short journey to show you how I created my Battle of the Beadsmith Piece "Locked in Time".  I've really been drawn to the Steampunk style of clothing, costumes and accessories in the last year.  I've created my version of "Bead-Punk" using clock faces, keys, gears and other bits embellished with bead embroidery and bead weaving.  But the Battle of the Beadsmith is the place to take your ideas to a whole new level.  I wanted to create something substantial...almost an article of clothing or part of a costume.  I was looking for inspiration and saw some really great clothing and costumes and would take note of the parts I really liked.  I brought my ideas to my Daughter-in-Law Jenny Ray Maj.  She is an artist (she works in several media) and I can't draw to save my life.  She took my scattered ideas and came up with this INCREDIBLE sketch...
Sketch by Jennifer Ray Maj
The very first thing I did was burst into tears!!  I couldn't believe how perfectly she captured all the elements I really wanted!  The next step was to find the raw materials.  I went straight to ebay and bought a couple boxes of of old alarm clocks and one of old cuckoo and chime clockworks.
You might be able to see Harry the cat scanning the haul!  I covered my kitchen table with cardboard, put on a pair of gloves, got out a whole bunch of tools and spend an entire weekend completely dismantling this whole mess!  I was after as many gears and plates, bits and pieces as I could get.  As a person who works primarily with tiny glass beads and delicate beadweaving, I REALLY enjoyed getting all smashy and dirty for a couple days!
My giant cauldron of "Bead Soup" in a variety of bronzes and peacock blue, green and teals

The next thing on the agenda was to find a base for the piece.  I wanted leather for the most authentic Steampunk look, but I also wanted to stick with the idea of Up-cycling.  So I scouted out all the local thrift shops and finally found a long men's large leather trench coat.  PERFECT!!  I needed to have a dummy or mannequin in order to create the shape I needed, so I found a couple used candidates at a local fixture shop.

I cut out an initial base for my piece and tried to use some of the features of the coat like the seams and edges.  And I just noticed that my mannequin had enormous chesticles!!  My husband decided it was disturbing, and I just laughed and nicknamed her June (is busting out all over).  I left June sitting there with her leather costume so I could get used to the look and decide how to proceed.  Nope, too big...too much fabric, and kinda hung wrong.  I was able to cut it down a bit here and there. 

I began placing the gears and the centerpiece and get ready to begin beading. I was particularly excited by this cool "flower" brooch I created.  That way cool copper flower component was part of a cuckoo clock.  And I thought I would create some beaded flourishes to accent the gears.  But that was wonky and puckered the leather, and off it came. 
 So I added more gears and started surrounding and edging them with my beads.  When I got to this point, I sat back and just looked at it for a day or so.  Something still wasn't quite right.  The centerpiece didn't make me happy. 
 In a fit of pique, I cut the sides apart and restarted the centerpiece.  I would figure out how to join the front later on.  I completely cut out the back as well.  So now I had 4 separate parts that I had to figure out how to join at the shoulders as well.  Well, fiddle dee, dee.  Tomorrow is another day!
I decided that I wouldn't think too hard about how to join all the pieces and would treat them as I normally would with bead embroidery and back them with the suede from the leather coat and edge bead everything.  Once I had finished that and had these four individual beaded elements, I entered into what I call the dark period.  I experimented with no less than half a dozen ways to join the front and the shoulders...and I took them apart each time.  I just wasn't happy.  One of the last times I had put it all together and declared I was not happy, my husband nearly staged an intervention.  I couldn't keep trying to put it together and ripping it apart.  So I stared at it...said very naughty things to it, even considered starting over.  I had just ONE MORE IDEA to try.  If it didn't had to work.  I needed to be DONE!!  Oh, and why did it just occur to me that at least one side had to open in order to get it over your head??
It WORKED!! Woohoo!!  I created shoulders out of the leather.  On the right shoulder, I used a set of three buckles that can be opened to go over the head.  The left shoulder got the peacock feature treatment and the front was joined by a strip of the suede.  Chains and dangles were added and I was FINISHED!!  I took several series of pictures, but the outdoor ones really turned out nice.  How long did this take me...well, I completely lost count between gathering the materials and all the re-do's, but it was pretty much an entire two months working from an hour a day to 8 hours a day.  As you can see, it morphed and evolved from the original sketch, but in the end, I was very happy with the finished product.

Stop by the Battle of the Beadsmith facebook page for updates and links to voting! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Battle of the Beadsmith "Locked in Time"

Entries for this year's Battle of the Beadsmith are still being slowly been revealed.  My piece happened to be one of the first, so I'm able to share with you my entry, the piece I've been working on a solid two months plus.  Introducing "Locked in Time".

Inspiration: Steampunk
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features steam-powered and mechanical vehicles, weapons and contraptions in settings inspired by an alternate history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American Wild West.   Steampunk has been around since H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, but only recently has it become mainstream in fashion and jewelry.  I began a very popular line of Steampunk beadwork jewelry about a year ago, so for this year’s Battle of the Beadsmith, I was ready to bring Steampunk and Seed Beads together in a whole new way!  I found some odd lots of old alarm and cuckoo clocks on ebay and spent an entire weekend smashing them apart to extract the most desirable gears and pieces.  Leather is also a big feature in Steampunk style so I scoured the thrift shops for the perfect leather coat that I could take apart and upcycle into the base of my collar.

Clocks, locks, keys, gears and buckles are some the most recognizable Steampunk style elements and they work quite beautifully with seed bead embroidery.  I picture “Locked in Time” being worn by an adventurous young Victorian lady who longs to explore the world in a time machine she has built herself from the mechanical workings all around her.  The centerpiece of the collar is a large keyhole plate into which a key can be inserted.  Gears in all sizes have been attached to the leather, some with the leather cut away to see through to her clothing.  The back of the collar gives the feeling that you are looking at the inner workings of an automaton.  More keyholes, clock faces and gears decorate the collar accented with bead embroidery in a variety of bronzes and peacock blues and greens.  A little spray of peacock feathers ads a touch of the exotic and the collar is joined over the right shoulder by a trio of buckles.  Dangling chains and a beadwoven cubic right-angle-weave rope create movement and the look of jewelry.      

Back 12” across
Drop 8” from shoulder
Front 12” across
Drop 8” from shoulder
(12” including front rope)
24” around neck – adjustable
Weight 1lb 4oz

Upcycled leather and suede
Base metal and brass finished elements
Upcycled gears and plates from actual vintage clockworks (all cleaned and finished with sealant)
Natural peacock feathers
E-6000 glue
Beads Used:
Vintage nailhead trim glass beads
Czech glass pearls
Beadsmith  Antique Copper plated seed beads (15/0 used in the C-raw rope)
Miyuki Rocaille seed beads #457 and #458 in size 11/0, 8/0
Miyuki Delica hex cut 11/0 #0027
Miyuki Delica 11/0 #608
Miyuki Rocailles 8/0 #149