Studio Musings

Monday, January 30, 2012

Latest Works in Progress

Bracelet started in yesterdays class
Had a smaller class yesterday teaching Freeform Ruffles at Fusion Beads with only six students.  One of the things I love about the store is that as long as a class has four students, they let it run (at least for their local classes - not sure what they do with out of town intructors).  The smaller class size is really nice because I feel like I have more time to give each student individual attention.  

Since it's a freeform class, everyone gets to decide what type of project they want to make; they all chose to start on bracelets.  With six hours of class time, I warned that they'd likely be able to complete a smaller project like a pair of earrings or pendant, but would only get a good start on a larger project like a bracelet. My dream is to one day teach this as a two-day workshop.  The first day we'd cover the basic technique and structure, the second would give us time to look at all the various nuances of finishing a piece.  The design work that you don't really get to until you're well into the project.

Lamp worked bead by StudioJuls
Since I only had one day, I had to cram it all in to the time available.  Hopefully in an organized fashion.  I can only stitch so fast in a class setting, so right now I have several different works in progress I put together to show various stages of construction (in addition to the samples that will never be more than samples).  

Besides the bracelet I started in class, I have a pendant/brooch that's somewhere in the mid-stage of construction.  It's designed to show adding a focal bead, building alternate bead paths with bridges, and softening the blunt ends of the peyote stitch.  The focal bead is by Julianna Cannon of StudioJuls. I stung it with size 8 beads to either side, solving one of the potential problems of incorporating lampworked beads into seed beading.  Their larger center holes tend to swallow the smaller size 11s whole. The colors for this piece are drawn entirely from the focal.  While in the final design the blue/green/lavender will dominate, I'm drawing some darker lines first with the dark chocolaty, matte beads for contrast, though for some reason they look much lighter in the photograph.  Hmm...

Nearly finished
And I have this bracelet that's just a hair's breath away from completion.  I need to add the button, but before I do that, I need to decide if it is really and truly done.  Do any of the sections need more ruffling?  Do I want to add an accent edge of the shiny red rust beads to the central red ruffle?  Do I want to add a new bead bridge and potentially a whole new ruffle to the narrow edge (at the left of the square beads in the photo below)?  Or do I like the contrasting widths along the length of the bracelet?  It's the perpetual question of when exactly is an abstract piece 'done' and there's no definite right or wrong answer to any of them except that a paper clip is not an acceptable closure.

Trying to decide if the ruffles need more ruffling

Today and tomorrow, I'm focusing on earrings - two more days of my earring challenge and I'm so far behind it's just sad.  Can I complete 31 designs in 31 days?  It's not looking good, but we'll give it a shot.   Then, come February, I think it will be time for focus on several UFOs, including these three.  


  1. Karen,

    I love your work!!! And I think a workshop class would be fabulous. That's the sort of thing I want to do eventually, too.

    Would you ever consider teaching at the Bead and Button Show? Because if you did, I'd totally take your class. I'd be the first to sign up. :)

  2. I don't know if you will meet your challenge, but it is a good one.

    I enjoyed this post. One of these days I am going to have to try freeform peyote. I really like the way it turns out. On the other hand I really like having a plan. Your posts are tempting me.

  3. I'm rooting for you on the earring project! Love your colorways on today's post projects. The teals and reds are captivating, but I'm really in love with the red/coral and brown/bronze bracelet.

  4. Oh Karen, I love that bracelet! The ruffles are just captivating, so I'm going to vote for one more next to the squares. I really like what you're doing with the Julsbead, what a great idea. I've had the same problem with chocolate browns showing up lighter. So thrilled for the ladies to get one on one time with you in the class!

  5. Thank you Sarah! You've just given me one of the greatest compliments I could ever wish for! I would love to teach at the Bead and Button show - wouldn't that be grand!

    KJ - definitely go for it! Freeform is so much fun, and you can have a plan going in - color combinations, ideas for color movement, ideas for texture. But then you let the work have the last word as you stitch.

    Thank you all! And more ruffles will be coming up, just as soon as I see how many earrings I can come up with today.

  6. Karen,
    I love Love LOVE the Red Ruffles Bracelet! If I saw that in a store I would have to touch it and try it on! I cannot wait to finish reading the book and trying my had at freeform. This post has really inspired me. Gorgeous!
    Did you do the 31 earrings?! I am eager to try one month and see if I can make it happen.