Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ugly Bead Necklace Finished

I did it! I got thorough my self-imposed challenge to create something useful out of the ugliest beads I have. There were even some very nice compliments on photos I posted in my Flickr group. One person said it looked like "a party on a chain." ...Love that idea, and as the chain grew, the party got more carefree. It became a friend rather than an opponent. My ugly friend encouraged permissiveness, anything goes approach. After all, there was absolutely nothing to be lost, I was starting at the bottom of the barrel with this. All I was contributing was a little effort, and that was of value in itself because I was getting more practice. .

Starting at the Bottom

As I was creating this piece, I found myself going through an incredible thought process. Every so often, I would question the validity of
spending time on creating something worthwhile with such a sorry-looking batch of components: ugly, misshapen, unmatched, left-over cheap glass beads bought in bulk when I first got interested in beading, and crazy, imperfect forged metal practice pieces I had crafted of copper wire as learned in the BuildZone jewelry making course.

The Process

As the necklace grew, it took me through some interesting thoughts. Beginning with a lot of self-doubts (those Gremlins I blogged about a few posts back), I was not at all sure of why I took this challenge on. Why would anyone in their right mind start creating with a bunch of stuff that seemed to say "just put me in the trash!" Isn't is much nicer to think about having gorgeous materials and what the end result of silver and gemstones could be? What was driving me? ...stubbornness? ...a sense of frugality? ...a "way out" excuse for defeat? I am really not sure.

Yet the ugly bead necklace grew, and as it grew, I felt a sense of acceptance. It allowed me to free myself of any constraints that might have held me back. I gave myself over to the spirit of freedom, and creative energy flowed through my braincells and into my fingertips. I ceased to think so much and just did what felt right with each added link. It didn't have to be anything but ugly, and yet with each link I started to like it more and more. A strange sort of beauty was unfolding in my hands and although I knew each imperfection well, I felt like I was forging a life. Out of ugliness and pain came joy and freedom, and a thing of carefree beauty. It doesn't matter if it is of the basest materials because it has a spirit of the highest nature. Maybe it has a "face" that only a mother can love, but this is one child I love to look at.

The Sweet Finish

I may add a few more ribbon tails, and a random dangle here and there, but this child is birthed. As I look at this piece, I am thinking many thoughts so different than those that weighed me down at the start. It reminds me that beauty is only skin deep, but also that just because something isn't always beautiful by most standards, doesn't mean that it has no beauty or value in and of itself. It reminds me that beauty can be found wherever we look for it, and that we should do what we love never separating ourselves from the Creator within. In all things there is purpose, and that our intent and openness can lead us to a beauty that we are not always aware of. I feel a real sense of serenity in that.

May you find beauty and serenity in your day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Very Ugly-Bead Necklace

So, I mentioned a few blogs ago that I was taking a jewelry making course. As usual, I am slow starting to create, especially with the new skills I am learning. I watched all the videos and read the tuts, and did a few wire wrapped bead links, some "S" links, plain wire links, and twisted wire links, and then I did it all over again. I guess I should confess here that my practice results have often been less than successful, and perfection is (strangely enough) not even close. I am usually very judgmental and demand getting as close to perfection as possible. However, I am fascinated and very intrigued by the obvious flaunting of imperfection and breaking the ruling standards that mixed media art has as an outstanding characteristic. So, throwing rules and judgment to the winds of change, I am now creating without any set standards. My cheap and ugly beads that served me to practice with began to assert an unexpected charm and so they are becoming a necklace.
I started with an orphan bead that had no affinity to any other that I had. Why not make it the focal? It is so ugly it is perfect! I ran my wire through it and because it was too loose, I just wound some ribbon yarn around each end in order to help stabilize it. The ribbon did have some connection to some other 30 year old ugly seed beads I had. (Have I ever told you I have a "collecting" problem?) That led me to a thought to attempt to conceal some of its ugliness, and I decided to partially conceal it with a wrap of wire and ugly orange seed beads.
Orange? ...My very least favorite color! Then I threw in a few cheapo ill-formed jade glass beads to keep the orange from being so overwhelming.

Next, I began to add a dangle to the lower end. But why stop at just one? More! More! ...the more the merrier I thought! ...and why not? is a focal! ...there are no more rules! Once satisfied, I simmered and thought about how I could get all my practice parts into this one piece. You know, be done with all the uglies in one fell swoop. So now, I am slowly crawling up the sides with my own very strange "S" links, that were looking so irregular and strange that I began to bend them into crazy out-of-control spirals, which are vaguely reminiscent of those Tree of Life spiral shapes that Gustav Klimt added to his paintings. His inspiration is hard to separate from! ...And do I now see a hint of those same colors from my sweater? I do not as yet have a picture of the growing chain, but will be sure to share with you in my next blog. Till then, be well and happy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Done, Da-Done Done!

Yes, it is done! I am so glad that this is now finished, and all those pesky little ends are tied off, tucked in and otherwise taken car
e of. I am already off to other pursuits and now it is a course in making jewelry. I spent the morning making S-links out of copper wire, and practicing torching wire to create little balls at the ends. It is a pretty cool way to make head pins, and a lot cheaper than purchasing them. At first, I was admittedly terrified of the torch, just knowing that I would set my self on fire the first time I used it. However, Fate is much kinder than that, and I have not had an unpleasant episode and do not expect to. I have unfortunately had a few wire go "dead" due to cooking them too long. A few of my beautiful little balls cracked off as I tried to curl the wire around my pliers. Well, practice and time will improve my efforts. Not always sure I have found the "sweet spot" at the end of the blue flame, I can tell that the metal is about to melt. There is a beautiful flaming rainbow of color that fans out behind the wire as it glows nearly white before it balls up. That part has me hooked. I adore rainbows, however they come to me.