Hi--I'm a rugweaver and beadweaver located in Panama City, FL. Here I'm trying to put down where my ideas are headed, and what I'm working on creatively, in both media. You can see more of my work at emiliepritchard.com
I thought I'd write something about how my designs evolve as I create them. I tend not to do alot of preliminary drawing or planning. I just have an idea and see how it works out as I make it. Not the most efficient method, as you can see here. I wanted a series of triangles made from nickel silver beads joined by metallic seed beads. The first time I started (I don't have a picture of this)the triangles were too close together, and I wanted a more open effect. The picture here is my second try. I got enough space between the triangles, but in doing so, it seemed to me that the colored seed beads sort of overwhelmed the triangles, and I had wanted the triangles to dominate. Also, I had intended to make the whole necklace a hexagon shape, using the way triangles tile to make the "corners". You can see one corner in the picture. But I found that you don't have much control over the size of the sides that way. That is, if 5 triangles is a bit too small for a side, you have to add 2 more triangles, which is an additional 2" or more, when maybe you just wanted another 1/2" or so. So I decided to make the circle by just making the hinges on the outside of the circle longer than the ones on the inside of the circle.
This is how it's looking so far, and I like it much better. At shows people always ask how long it took to make a piece. I hate that question. And often, I wonder whether I'm supposed to count just what they're looking at, or all the false starts that went into the designing of it.
More with my oxidized copper tubes. On the right is an earring that was one of my favorites until my wearing it turned it brown. It's just an octahedron, but when you use some long tubes and some short ones, you get interesting shapes. The one on the left is the new one with patinated copper tubes and little accent beads. You can see that the original one was just the tubes. I guess it's because of my own gray hair that I feel like the dark gray tubes won't show up enough without accent beads.
I spent quite a while playing with the liver of sulphur today, and it's trickier that I thought at first. I have several necklaces that are gorgeous flame orange around the bottom and brown where they were next to my undoubtedly sweaty neck(this is Florida, after all). Most of them use melons as well as tubes. I found the melons gave the necklaces more weight, and so they hung better. With all the beads, I hadn't liked the new-penny-pink of the raw copper, and so I hit them with a propane torch to turn them darker. They turned a lovely orange. But now I realize that alot of what I was doing was burning off the lacquer they were coated in. When they started to go brown, I found the melons held their color better. Now I realize that was largely because their greater mass kept them from heating up as quickly as the tubes, so I didn't burn off all of the lacquer. I was hoping I could put a whole necklace in the liver of sulphur solution and just turn it gray. But the melons get mottled, instead of all gray. Eventually the L of S turns them all gray or black, but by that time the tubes have a black coating that comes off on your hands. Not good. More experimentation is in order.
These earrings represent 2 new things in my work--1 good, 1 REALLY BAD. I'll give you the bad part first. The little gold-ish beads are #11s. I know lots of you use #11, or even, God forbid, #15 beads, but I have been a firm believer in #8 beads, which probably seem big and clunky to hard core beaders, but have worked great for me. I never even bought #11s. So my whole system, the needles I use, the monofilament, everything is the way it is because I use #8s (or larger, if you count the gemstones and the long glass oval beads). And I like it that way. I want to do complex work. But don't think it's any more complex because the beads are ultra-tiny, instead of just tiny. And to me, coming from weaving rugs, where I measure my progress in square feet, #8 beads do seem tiny. But I needed those little circles of beads to be very small, especially since the tube beads, while long, are quite small in diameter, so I broke my rule. Oh well, just so I don't start making things entirely out of #11s, I guess I can cope.
The other new thing is the tube beads. They're patinated copper. I've used copper beads, both tubes and melons, in lots of pieces, and I've really liked the very architectural effect. Some of the pieces look kind of like bridge trusses. But I found that after I wore them awhile, skin oils and, let's face it, sweat turned the lovely orange to brown. Not surprising when you look at the copper bottoms of pans. But for that reason I'd sort of stopped working with the copper, and I took the pieces off my website. I started thinking about silver, but, of course, that will tarnish too. So I started thinking about patinating the silver, so it would just be a permanent dark gray. I wandered around the web, looking at instructions and videos for patinating silver with liver of sulphur. But I found that liver of sulphur will also patinate copper dark gray. So why pay the price of silver when I can get the same look with copper? Also I can't find long straight tubes in silver. Everything I found that was around an inch long was either a curve or a spiral (the long copper beads I used are 22mm long and 1.5 mm diameter). a curve or spiral might be an interesting effect, and I know I'll try it sometime, but for now I really like what I got with the copper. The difference, I found, is that the silver seemed to stop at a fairly shiny dark gray, but the copper, if you left it in the solution too long went to totally matte black and just looked burned up. In the picture these earrings look black, but that's the fault of the photography; they're dark gray. When I made the jewelry using coppery looking copper I didn't use the tiny accent beads, but with the dark gray I felt I needed an accent color.