Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Art Bead Evolutions :: Stratum


I won’t lie to you….this was a hard challenge for me. I know that this painting is called Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle, but I truly did not see that at all! If I have trouble with a painting, I will print it out and turn it upside down to give myself a different perspective.



When I did that, what I saw were layers. To me it is a lot of layers of paper, as if you dropped all your bills and letters and junk mail on a table and made an artful everyday still life.

All those different textures peeking out intrigued me. So I set out to teach myself how to make veneers by various methods. I focused on the white and black speckled texture, the black and tan mottled texture and the pink, blue, orange and teal colors from the painting.

First I made the orange veneer (I don't have a picture of that, you will just have to trust me). I have never had much luck with canes, preferring instead to use the clay as my canvas and coloring it with various inks, stains and paints. But a bullseye cane is one of the simplest there is and layered on a pumpkin colored clay they really pop!


Next I decided to make something speckled. I decided that it would be too easy to just paint or ink those dots. So I devised a way to create Swiss cheese holes in the top white layer for depth. Manipulating it a bit through the pasta machine made the holes more shallow than I wanted, but I like the pockmarked effect, and I enhanced some of them after they were on the bead. The pink veneers were from an older project that I happened to have lying around, and worked in perfectly with this oddball mix.


Every month I try to teach myself something new in addition to exploring the art as inspiration. The remaining veneers were things that I learned from my favorite polymer clay guru, Debbie Crothers. I have taken several online classes from this lovely Aussie instructor through CraftArtEdu so when I saw that she was releasing her new series Explorations in Swellegant to create rusty and crusty veneers, I didn’t even hesitate a minute to hit the buy button. That was in January. And as is usual for me, I buy something, or sign up for a class without really having any intention of following through in that instant. So when I saw these paper scraps as layers - a slice of a life, if you will -  I remembered her class. And I am so glad I did! Miss Debbie is such a marvelous instructor. I told her that I felt like she was a friend who just popped over for a bit of clay play. She is thorough and engaging and so giving with her knowledge. Take anything with her and you will be wildly inspired!




I wrapped each large bead in a variety of the six different veneers I made so that no two are exactly alike. To make them my own, I added "faux bead caps" by dipping the ends in embossing powder for a metallic antiqued brass hammered texture that seems to work harmoniously with the Swellegant I used to make them look like bits of crusty old metal.

Since these beads are all quite large (about 3/4"), I wanted to make a statement necklace. I originally wanted to use a set of three (which is what my Simple Truths Sampler Club members received). But I couldn't make it work. Instead, I picked one as a focus.


I recently received these new wire frame components from Nunn Design and thought it would make an interesting sort of frame to set that bead apart. I had to stretch it a bit to fit the large bead but I quite like the sort of faceted shape. I was cleaning up (but hardly making a dent!) in my studio and was wrangling the fibers that I have collected. (Four bins of them!) I thought that the frame would look great to pull together different fibers - yarn, string, silks, sari ribbon - into a tassel wrapped with bronze wire and golden charlotte beads. For the rest of the necklace I just dove into my stash to make a long-ish slip-on necklace with a melange of beads ranging from carved bone, irregular ceramic, various stones and agates in many shapes and finishes. This is definitely a statement - not for the faint of heart! I am wearing it today with dark indigo jeans and a pale blush pink tunic. I think I might wear this next week at Bead & Button in Milwaukee in my new black maxi dress!

I have also been playing around with the same idea but in different shapes, including smaller rounds for earrings and some olive shaped beads as well. Thinking about making a layered patterned shield shaped pendant as well. So many possibilities!


Stratum means a layer or a series of layers, specifically of rock in the ground. These layered beads - and this necklace - have that stratified look of fantasy rock comprised of patterns and textures scattered across my desk or counter, and it is that layer and texture and pattern and color that I love!

Check back tomorrow for our monthly challenge recap!

6 comments:

Kathy Lindemer said...

You nailed the inspiration piece and made a great necklace.

Katherine Thompson said...

Wonderful to see another perspective on inspiration! Thank you!

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Oh, how beautiful!
I love how you explain it, too.

Mia said...

Lovely creation. Congratulations.

Ann Schroeder said...

These are very cool!

Loralee said...

This painting was a struggle at first for me, too!! Thanks for the tips in tackling a challenge in the future, rather than run screaming from the room (I kid). The beads you made are absolutely kick-ass-killer beautiful!! I ended up really enjoying this challenge. And, because it was a little difficult, it was very satisfying, like finishing a mystery or puzzle. xox