08 November 2011

Unexpected Surprises of the Heart

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

A few months ago, I was approached by a woman in a convo on Etsy. Would I possibly be interested in making a piece of jewelry for her using her polymer clay beads? I was intrigued, so I asked to see a picture of the beads.


I was blown away by these.

Aren't you?

I had to hold myself back a bit to be sure that I didn't scare this lovely lady and her pretty beads off. ;-)

Did I mention that the bead artist in question is Cynthia Tinapple? Do you know who Cynthia is? I confess that I didn't but I was tipped off by some of my bead friends that I should get to know her. You see, Miss Cynthia is the editor of the Polymer Clay Daily, a blog dedicated to all the artful things happening in the world of polymer clay.

Miss Cynthia was planning a trip to Nepal in November. While she is there, she plans to work with the village women there to share the art of making polymer clay beads and the celebrate the beauty of their culture. You see, these Nepali women don't see the value of their rich cultural heritage. But Miss Cynthia does, and she wanted them to see what can become of their handiwork in a completed piece of jewelry.

Wow. That is a truly noble cause.

I am still not sure how Miss Cynthia found me, but I am so glad she did!


At the time I was preparing to travel to Michigan for the Inspired by Nature retreat and it just so happens that along the way there was a Rings & Things traveling beads show stop that day in Chicago. What a great excuse to buy beads!

I purchased strands of leather disks, dyed magnesite, dyed coral nuggets, shell heishi, rustic brass spacers and twisted aluminum cubes.


The following week I spent a few days with my friend Jess at Vintaj where we learned all manner of techniques to work with the Vintaj line. One of the coolest new things to come along is the Big Kick where you emboss metal. It is really quite addicting!

Armed with this bevy of beads and this new-found embossing knowledge, I jumped into the project. {Of course, if you mean by jumped that I took my own sweet time and left it until the last possible second before the November 1st deadline, then yeah, I guess you could say I "jumped" right into it!}


As a way to tap into her inspiration, she sent me a link to her Pinterest board filled with colorful images of textiles from India, hanging lanterns from Morocco and embellished walls of monasteries. Looking at those images she selected it looked as if her beads were those textiles come to 3D life. There was a riot of color in these images, and it was clear to me after holding these beads in my hand that Miss Cynthia is a kindred spirit, able to take the inspiration and translate it to her own art. Having those images handy as I created these pieces was truly a blessing and so inspiring.

Each of her beads is slightly different. The amount of hours that went into each one, to create the canes and slice them so thin... to painstakingly place each tiny mirror and each miniscule hole-less bead into the design... it simply blows me away. I knew I need to get my creative mojo to come out and play for this one!

I really had no other parameters other than that Miss Cynthia requested some lush and more substantial pieces. I actually ended up making three pieces: necklace, bracelet and earrings. The Laila earrings are posted on Earrings Everyday blog today. Check it out.

{Meet Me at the Bazaar}


The necklace sort of sprang to life from the beads, as if they just wanted to be dancing in that circle! Multiple strands repeating the lively palette with varied shapes and sizes. Cynthia's beads separated by vintage textured saucer beads (that I have been hoarding for a few years). And a hand embossed arte metal clasp and hook to complete the look. It is so pleasing to wear (I had to try it out!). It garnered a lot of compliments!

{Dance of the Bells}


However, the piece that I like the most is the bracelet, despite the fact that I had to pull it apart three times and restring it. First the colors were wrong. Then the magnetic clasp was too dainty and finally, I didn't cut the wire long enough. Doh! Miss Cynthia had told me that she imagined whatever piece of jewelry I created would have a jingly quality. I am not a fan myself of wearing bracelets, but this one with its substantial brass leaf bead, the three strands of color and some brass belly dancing bells really hits it out of the park for me. I love the sweet jingle of those bells. I have to find a way to make another one like it!

Miss Cynthia has the baubles and told me how pleased she was with these pieces, that I exceeded her vision. Right now they are being packed up to travel halfway around the world to a remote Nepali village. I can just imagine these women touching the pieces I made and marveling that they, too, can make jewelry and in turn make a life from this living. But most of all I want them to be inspired by the fascinating story that their culture weaves into the fabric of life. And I hope that they will be inspired.

Thank you, Miss Cynthia, for finding me... for seeing the potential in this arrangement... for giving me a chance to make you something special... for believing in me. May your journey bring you unexpected surprises of the heart.

The thing about collaborations is they can be really outstanding or really horrid. It seems that there is no middle ground for people on this. For my part, I actively seek out collaborations. My show in 2010 is proof of that. I find it thrilling to bring another artist into the game and look forward to dynamically working through the process together. By working together you bring out the best in you both, and you also push yourself to rise above your own limitations, because now it is not just your own reputation at stake, but your collaborative partner's as well. It was a pleasure to be a partner in your success, Miss Cynthia!

Your turn...
Have you ever participated in an artful collaboration? What happened? Was it a good experience or a bad one? Do you actively seek collaborations or do you prefer to stick to  your own designing?  If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be and why? (It can be any artist, living or dead.)

39 comments:

maryharding said...

Wonderful post. Your creations are absolutely stunning, sumptuous and gorgeous. Your collaboration is a visual feast. thanks for sharing these Erin.

Malin de Koning said...

I am also completely blown away by Cynthia's beads. Sooooo beautiful! And Iwanttoownsomeanduseinmyjewelry-ish. Your pieces using them are absolutely simply gorgeous Erin! They are perfect! Cynthia couldn't have found a better partner for her project.

I love Cynthias Nepal project too. I hope we will be able to get to see the result of that too in the future. And incorporate it in our own work. A wonderful world-wide collaboration it would be.

Thanks for a fantastic and inspiring post Erin!

Lorelei Eurto said...

I'm in LOVE with the beads!! She doesn't have anything in an etsy store. so does she sell them??

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Oh, how stunning Erin. Thanks for sharing her story, I hope her trip goes well. The only collaboration I've every done is with my daughter telling me what she did or didn't like in a piece I was making for one of her high school dances, LOL!

I've never thought about a collaboration before. It's an interesting thought.

Spirited Earth said...

Cynthia's beads are stunningly beautiful and the pieces you made with them are breath taking..all my favorite colors and so wonderfully combined..

Courtney said...

Cynthia's beads are amazing! I read her blog and drool. That being said, what you did with them is STUNNING! The life, lushness, textures ~ heaven. I want to touch them! :)

Alice said...

Your creations are beautiful! I love the bright cheery colors of Cynthia's beads. What a wonderful collaboration combining your talent for design and Cynthia's stunning beads. A perfect union!

Cilla said...

The beads are beautiful but you made them POP! Fantastic work as always Erin!
Cilla

peacockfairy said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I so love the worldly/travel look to her beads and the pieces you created with them. I am off to check out her blog!

Kim Stevens said...

Oh this was such a moving story, really!! I love how the world works and how by chance things that are supposed to happen do. Cynthia's beads are magical . . . and what you created with them is fantastical (that's the marriage of fantastic and magical, haha). Love the necklace but the bracelet is the one that really speaks to me. I love movement and the fact that it sings with bells, even better. And hmmm, hands down you would be at the top of my list to do a collaboration with because of the thought and emotion you put into it.

Bravo Erin!! (imagine a little heart here)

stacilouise said...

You have absolutley complimented her beads, and together you have honored the rich and beautiful traditon of Nepal's artistry! LOVE these.

Christine Altmiller said...

i am in awe, once again, by what comes out of your head and your hands! your blog is a highlight of my week and an inspiration. i would have been crippled by the beauty of Cynthia's beads, but you enhanced their appearance and made them sing even deeper. beautiful, Erin. and i love jewelry that makes sound so that bracelet must have been fabulous to wear! you are prominent in helping women in another land have a better life. beautiful all around!

Doreen said...

OMG, Erin! Wow! I'm speachless. That's all I can say.

SummersStudio said...

This is a beautiful story and I am so moved by your telling. Those beads of Cynthias are awe inspiring. You worked magic with the pieces you made and it is just as if this was meant to be. I really do love the idea that your partnership with Cynthia may bring women on the other side of the world a new way of looking at their lives and a new avenue income. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Cristi Baxter Clothier said...

Her beads are fabulous and your pieces are equally stunning!

Natural Touch Beads said...

I love what you made. The combo of Cynthia's beads and yours are very cool. I've been wanting to send you some Italian metal buttons to play with along with our resin. If anyone can make it look good, I know you can. Its always fun to see what you come up with. Let me know where to send. :)
Judy

Natural Touch Beads said...

lets be in touch. Yes!

Gardanne said...

That is so beautiful Erin.

Jennifer said...

I've followed your blog for a few months and have enjoyed seeing your work. This is the first time I've been moved to comment. I just have to say that the combo of Cynthia's beads and the way you have combined them with your strands of beads to make the finished pieces of jewelry is absolutely stunning. I make encased floral beads and someday may contact you with the same request!

Starstruckbooks said...

Wow! Those pieces are just stunning. I was trekking in Nepal last year and reading this took me right back there. They will fit in prefectly to inspire there with their wonderful rich colours and sensual appreciation.

Thank you for sharing! Lizzie :)

Jewels By Ine said...

wow! very nice beads..

SueBeads said...

Her beads are amazing and your creations are just unbelievable! You are such an artist - a master at interpreting anything into a piece of jewelry! I am really in awe of you and inspired beyond belief! I wish I could find my creativeness like yours!

Cece Cormier said...

Gobsmackin' colorfully great pieces! I've collaborated with another glass artist and also with lots of yoga teachers (an art form of sorts.) Not so much on designing though. Right now I'd want to collaborate with Barbara Natoli Witt and Ed Bing Lee, Both macrame masters.

Releases by Rufydoof said...

Ohhh my Cynthia's beads are gorgeous as too are your pieces. They have just a happy feel to them. Beautiful.

Karyn

rosebud101 said...

Love the final results!!!!! WOW~

Cindy said...

Erin, I agree with all of the above comments...I am so blown away by your stunning designs. You have created such an amazing necklace and bracelet - they really played up the beautiful polymer beads and then some. The necklace looks like it can be worn with any side in the front - truly a profusion of color and textures. Well done - these are my new favorite Tesori Trovati designs!

Riki Schumacher said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto! Great job Erin, such lovely designs, you have made them so rich and full of interest and texture. Great job my friend! Hugs, Riki

KJ said...

I love every piece. Absolutely wonderful colors. Thanks for sharing.

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

OMG - So beautiful!!!!

Erin S said...

AWESOME job, Erin! What are the orange heishi beads? Some kid of dyed shell? And in the bracelet, are the dark reddish brown heishi made of leather? They have a super rustic quality that compliments the rest of the piece. LOVE the primitive african brass beads, too!

Erin said...

Wow! An amazing story, Erin. What an honor to be chosen to be apart of something like this. You really do astound me with the kind of things that you bring into your world. You are always doing things that are truly meaningful, noble and much, much bigger than yourself. But, I guess that shouldn't surprise me, since that is exactly who you are! You do always amaze me, though. I'm just in awe of you sometimes. Those beads by Cynthia are so beautiful and all three pieces you made are just perfect!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

I'll be coming back to this post often! Just beautiful and colorful. How perfect that you had those beads from R & T. I also spotted the brass leaf bead right away, it belongs there! You are a truly giving person to part with that jewelry! This is some of the best of your best work!

artybecca said...

Erin, I love love love the necklace. It is gorgous!
Cynthia is a fun lady and very talented.
Prepare for your blog hits to go through the roof today!

Roberta said...

I read Cynthia's blog every day. Today was one of those days where you meet someone through her that you might never have found on your own. Your work is simply splendid! I love your vision!

Evelyn said...

you did a great job, beautiful pieces!

Janet Bocciardi said...

Ditto everyone else! Stunned at their gorgeousness of those beads and the jewelry you created. I can only imagine the focus you had in creating them. I think we all want some of those Cynthia beads! But I want your necklace! It reminds me of our visit to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul a year ago. Bravo!

Moushka said...

I'm absolutely blown away by the synchronicity of Cynthia's blog today. I have been interested in pc for a couple of years now but not done much with it. Searching for inspiration, I went on Etsy earlier this week and came across your shop. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I immediately decided I had to try a few of your ideas (not to sell, of course) but because, like you, I adore words, and loved the way you incorporated them in your beads and pendants. Today, Cynthia's blog featured your stunning bracelet and I thought, OMG, how fabulous it was, without knowing who had made it. I had to follow the link to your blog and just laughed out loud when I saw your name. Your work is beautiful and inspiring. No wonder Cynthia chose you for a collaborator. I'm just a hobbyist, and will never be a real artist, but I thank you for the bottom of my heart for sharing your incredible work.

Lubna said...

Here in Kuwait, sitting and discovering the world through your amazing work and yes collaborations make me a better person. It just opens so much possibility and is a push in uncharted territories. Collaborations in themselves are the best teachers...... I learn way beyond the immediate task and get to enter other mediums through this. Right now I'm collaborating with a calligraphic artist in Arabic and a painter and other artists to create a various collection of cufflinks....

Linda said...

These two pieces are simply outstanding! I saw them on Pinterest first and just had to come to your blog to read the fascinating story behind them. Thanks for sharing.

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