30 August 2009

Riding the Wave

"I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky; and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." ~John Masefield

The challenge for August for the Art Bead Scene is a beautiful woodcut print, Kanagawa oki nami ura (Great Wave off of Kanagawa) by Hokusai Katsushiki. And this tsunami-type wave is pretty indicative of the process that I used to finally make something...it was a bit of a wild ride!

I was out of commission for about two weeks for my travels and illness, but before I left I went searching for just the right art bead to help me find my Muse for this challenge.

I started with my burgeoning art bead stash. But none of them had the right feel. (What?! But I have a small fortune invested in this horded art bead stash. You mean there is nothing suitably beachy in there?!)

I had grandiose plans to make my own pendant from a deep blue seashell, some feathers and some sand. But I obviously have delusions as to how much time I could actually devote to this challenge in this overscheduled month.

So I went shopping on Etsy instead.

I know. I have said it before that I need to put the kibosh on that sort of thing. But this is serious! I can't enter the Art Bead Scene challenge without a suitable art bead. And I have to enter this totally free and perfectly voluntary artistic challenge with no compensation, right?


Actually, I feel that these challenges have made me a better designer, and I am so grateful that I have found them. I like to stretch my creative wings and this challenge really had me thinking that perhaps I was some sort of flightless bird because it was seemingly never going to get off the ground.

But I persevered and scored a perfect focal when I stumbled upon Copper Art Designs on Etsy. I have been enamored with copper etching for about a year. And I finally screwed up the courage to take a class with Gina Crow at this years Bead & Button. And I have watched in amazement as so many of my friends (like Heather Powers and Melanie Brooks) have been chronicling their own journeys in metal. And I have been so eager to try it again, save for that pesky little time issue. So finding some experts at the most amazing copper art designs (hence their name), I couldn't help myself!

They had a set of mini beach bookmarks that had the perfect wave on them. The dimension is 4x1". But since I don't measure anything (did I ever tell you about the two couches in my basement that will have to be sold with the house?!), and I am notorious for not paying attention to details like that, I barged ahead and bought them. The design was perfect and it was an impulse.While I was in Vegas, the package arrived. Now, I was stumped.

So I have been sitting here staring at them for hours trying to figure out what to do to turn them into a focal for my jewelry. Saw them in half? That would seem obvious, but the artists painstakingly etched a border all the way around and if I cut it the border would look stupid. Cut around the wave? Another brilliant idea, and one I might use with the one with the wave at the bottom, but since it is August 30th and the challenge is over as of August 31st, that idea is dead in the water (pun intended :-).

But then I thought...hey...wait a minute! Why not make this into a bracelet? So I gently rounded the bookmark until it lay comfortably on my wrist. And....then it sat on my workbench for a few more days. Now what?!I don't know how it is with you, but when I am stumped on a design I need to walk away. Move on to something else. Ultimately, I kept making sketches and tossing around ideas in my head all week long. While I know immediately what beads I wanted to use, I wasn't sure at all how to get them attached, much less looking like they belonged there.

And then I spotted my Stretch Magic.

I don't make a lot of bracelets. And I really don't use stretchy material (I kind of liken that stringing material to the stretchy pants I wear when I am feeling all tired and sloppy...it is too easy and not very attractive). I find that I have a hard time with the correct length on bracelets, especially with personal preference...some people like it loose, or tight or jangly or flat! I know that another reason I dislike bracelet making (I am not averse to wearing them) is because there is a math problem in there and maybe that is what confuses me (did I ever tell you that I was an English teacher...precisely so I didn't have to do math!). You know, that the diameter of the beads has to be taken into account because that will impact how a bracelet sits...if you use really big beads, then you need to make the bracelet longer to accommodate. Or something like that. I even have one of those cones that allows you to measure the exact circumference. God, I wish I had paid better attention in algebra in high school. (Or is it geometry?)

"High Tide" is my submission and features this (sort of) found object bookmark turned into a stunning cuff bracelet. And the rolling waves and the spray of the sea is translated with white branch coral, copper spacers and the most unique bead...antique banded agate (so the tag says). It is really rough and light, like a lava bead, and has these really intriguing crackled colors in gray, blue and white.

It was impossible to photograph, but I think it works. And I got it done and entered it a the very last minute (it is 11:57 pm as I write this right now!).

Have you ever procrastinated on a project? If so, how long? Do tell! (I will be eternally grateful that I am not alone!)

Check It Out::Copper Art Designs

Enjoy the day!


Narrative jewelry said...

Don't procastinate about the stylistic effect of your bracelet, it is just wonderful. It is so inventive. Mixing etched copper, lava beads and stones give such an original result.

This challenge wasn't so easy. Hope you'll be the winner.


Cindy said...

Hi Erin
Thanks for sharing the story behind your ABS submission....what an interesting winding tale. You truly think out of the box...a bookmark turned cuff! It's one of a kind and really beautiful...you must be proud of this one!!
Yes I do procrastinate. I am the Queen of Procrastination!! I have a project laid out that I've been working on for maybe 2 weeks...and never have time to complete. I'm glad you got your piece in on time...that's better than me because mine never happened this month. :-(
I picked up the Sept. issue of Bead Trends and saw your beautiful piece (as well as your talented daughter's.) This IS a great issue!

sherry ♥ lee said...

Erin!! I loved this post...firstly for the humour (you are too funny!) -- and the use of the word "kibosh" which I haven't heard in years (my mother used it all the time!!

But this bracelet?!? It's gorgeous...I looked at the copper pieces you bought and thought, what is she going to do with this and a bracelet? And then when I see it?!?! I love it!!!

Procrastinate on projects?!? Oh all the time!!!!! Ever since I was a student...all my marketing projects were done at the very last minute and I always scored well...and that is the key to my creativity...something about "pressure" pulls out the best.

As for the Math -- you and me both sister...we just didn't get along!!! lol!! ;)

mairedodd said...

this is great! and very different, i love the etched copper... i don't look at it as procrastinating, but instead as percolating... when you know, you know... and when you don't and push ahead - sometimes you just get blech... unless up against a deadline, i try to work with the flow... and i do have something that is percolating... it's a beautiful pendant from leann that i am working on with weaving from the lucet... maybe the colors felt too autumn at the time, or maybe i just couldn't give it a length of time i wanted... i know you understand - having the kids home in the summer does not yield itself to any length of time to sit... it is filled with joy, but not much 'work'... because it is hard to think with people constantly saying, 'hey mom!' :o)

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...

Beautiful solution for the bookmark!

I must get my hands on the Sept BT issue so I can see your daughter's earrings (and your work too of course!).

Procrastination...hmmm, I could write the book on that one- of course I wouldn't actually get it done...

Stacey said...

Fantastic! What a process! What a truly beautiful end product! Completely original and unique and fantastically clever!

Silver Parrot said...

Long live procrastination! In fact, the longer it lives, the more time I have to put off things I ought to be doing. I really like the way the bracelet turned out - I think you came up with the perfect solution to each of the "challenges" you were presented with. One thing I wondered about the extra copper blanks - what would happen if you painted in a few details with alcohol inks? I bet it would be yummy...

lilibulle said...

beau-ti-ful!!! incredible!! very magic.. what vcan i say??? i croos my fingers for you !!
i think last minute is THE minute , when all the ideas make bling blang blounch in iur head!! it's the most beautiful minute!! more we think about... less we do!!

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

Apparently procrastination suits you well. It is absolutely gorgeous! What a fantastic idea! You must be one of those people that works well under pressure. I love it!

K.C. said...

Very inspirational, brings to mind the adage, 'necessity is the mother of invention'. To others entering the challenge may not be a 'necessity' but to others like us it is. The ABS challenge is great in that it moves us in directions we might not ever discover on our own without that true challenge!

You have a wonderful, creative day!

Jannie Funster said...

I think it was very inspired your "High Tide."

I think there is no creative limit for you. I know it!

And I could read that quote over and over again and never grow tired of it, I think.

Erin said...

Love this bracelet, Erin! I'm glad you are stretching your self and trying bracelets again. It came out great and I have a soft spot for cuff-style bracelets!

sharon said...

I agree with Lilibulle...I do seem to work better under a bit of pressure, usually self induced!! I truly loooove what you did with this entry, the FIND first of all, gorgeous, and the ingenious idea of how to turn it into a bracelet, just amazing!!

Kriss said...

Thank you for the kind and thoughtful words you left on my blog. They gave me a great opportunity to look at your blog and admire your beautiful work.

hint said...

This is amazing! You are a wonderful inventor :) Someone told me that procrastination is just you waiting for the answer to a question. Years of guilt fell away when a friend shared this with me. Your work is always an inspiration in design!


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