14 February 2012

Nothing Like the Sun

"If music be the food of love, play on."
~ William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1

I am experimenting with making beads in my 'simple truths' style. I think I am going to call them 'simple tales' or 'story beads' or something like that. Nunn Design has some really beautiful things to work with in your jewelry. I am fortunate to be a part of their first Innovation Design Team. Just the name of that makes me giddy. They sent me some goodies to play with and I sent the baubles off to Becky Nunn for her trip to Tucson. I hope they were a hit!

One of the products that was in the goodie box she sent were their new channel bead tubes. They come in different sizes and finishes. There is a channel that can hold images or clay. I was so intrigued by them that I went right out and bought a few dozen of my own to play with.

Round about the beginning of this month, I found out about a gallery called the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center in a town about 30 minutes from where I lived. They were hosting a juried art exhibition entitled "That's Amore." I have a goal of putting my work out there into more galleries, so I thought this would be a good place to start. So I decided that I would make something special just for this exhibit.

In thinking about love and and what it means to me, I happened to look up and noticed a piece of art that Kerry Bogert made for me. The mixed media canvas is a riot of bright reds and deep purples with swirls of black and sparkled lines in stylized flower shapes with some of Miss Kerry's beads for the centers. I asked her to add my favorite love poem, Shakespeare's sonnet 130. 

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound:

I grant I never saw a goddess go,

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

          And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

          As any she belied with false compare.

At the time that Shakespeare penned these lines, there were a lot of love poets out there throwing around impossible cliches of comparison for their muses. You would think that these ladies were floating on air, with garments made of flowers and shining as brightly as the sun. Shakespeare is clearly using conventional love poetry metaphors as a statement against his contemporaries. The 'Dark Lady' inspiring these lines as well as sonnets 127-154 would ultimately betray him, but at the time he wrote this one he is truly professing his love for her. 

Sonnet 130 pokes fun at the overblown comparisons that most of his contemporaries used to hold their muses up to an impossible ideal of beauty and grace. Shakespeare does not compare his love to grandiose metaphors of golden locks shining like the sun and rose blossomed cheeks on fair snowy skin. Rather his love is of dark complexion with obvious flaws, such as stinky breath and decidedly unmelodious speech. That is precisely what I love about this poem. 

This sonnet always speaks volumes to me. The ordinariness and humanity of his 'Dark Lady' is what makes him love her all the more and he finds that beautiful. It sort of gives me hope that my love would find my flaws appealing as well. In this time of Hallmark-driven love declarations, it is comforting to know that I don't have to be perfect to be beautiful in the eyes of my love.

I wanted to honor this poem with my new beads. Each of these barrel beads is an inch long. I filled them with clay and pressed the words from the sonnet into them, two lines of the sonnet in each. You can read them by spinning the bead in your had and reading each line as it circumnavigates the beads. And if you read each bead in order, you will have the entire sonnet.

I took my color cues from the beautiful lampwork glass bead set from my friend Julianna Cannon of Julsbeads. Their dark earthy colors in burgundy and forest with the unexpected flash of gold guided the choice of color for the barrel beads. I knotted each bead on three strands of hand dyed silk cord from Marsh Neal Studio and finished it with a strap of cinnamon colored leather and a heart shaped hook clasp. I wanted them to have the look of old parchment inscribed with the scratch of an ink-filled quill.

From afar, the beads just seem to have a rough texture. Upon closer inspection, you can see that there are words on the beads. And if you look closely, you can read the entire poem around each barrel and from left to right on the necklace. I hope to make more of these types of beads with secret messages, or even snippets of poems or lyrics on them, to carry the message that is important to you close to your heart.

Your turn...
Have you ever received a secret love note that you treasure?
Tell me... What message, poetry or sentiment would you like to see on these channel bead tubes?

P.S. Today is my day to post on the Earring Everyday blog, and I am hosting the first EARRING LOVEFEST over there today. We have 7 - count 'em 7! - winners in the EARRING LOVEFEST. I am also honored to be the guest poster today on Love My Art Jewelry. And there will be a little giveaway there as well. (Totally a coincidence that I would be posting in so many places at once, you would think I never sleep ;-) Go and check them out!


Alice said...


I love the source of our inspiration! Those beads look like they took a lot of meticulous work, and to have made an entire sonnet with them just floors me. I love that you kept with the darker side of love rather than the bright red.

I must confess I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day for several reasons. 'Just give me chocolate' is my thinking on the subject.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

I love what you did with the channel tube beads. Those beads look like a lot of fun to work with, so many creative options. The sonnet is a really fun and magical idea. You really know how to add that extra something special that makes your designs so unique! Well done Erin, thanks for sharing your process.

Cece said...

Head over heels in love with your tube beads! You really produced a wonderful design. Good luck with them.

Lorelei Eurto said...

WOW! How cool! I've never been one to really like to make beads but I would try that technique. the necklace turned out amazing! I love it! Nice work, as usual, Erin!

SueBeads said...

Just WOW! While not a Shakespeare scholar, I took several classes on Shakespeare in college because I loved the Bard so much. These are just amazing beads and I love that sonnet as well! You are just so creative Erin!

Rebecca said...

I love, love LOVE everything in this post Erin! I love the poetry, I love the beads....I have been stamping pendants with poetry snippets for some time now and it is such a special and unique thing to have on a piece of jewellery. I will take a look at those channel beads - they look like they are bags full of potential!

Michelle Mach said...

Love the idea of wearing an entire poem! The font you chose for the beads is perfect--a little romantic, but still easy to read.

Susan Marling said...

Those beads are great and then what you did with them and the poem boggles my mind. I love the finished necklace. That is such an inspirational piece.

Cindy Cima said...

Love those beads!! Your imagination never fails to amaze me!

maxandlucie said...

Erin, these are absolutely stunning--what kind of clay? Is it the Epoxy clay or something you had to fire? I am just so in love with these!

JeannieK said...

I think you achieved the look you were going for with the beads. Are you selling them? Me Likes! The necklace is...WOW!
Not a fan of sonnets or Shakespeare so I'm thinking my favorite quote by the late, great John Lennon. Beatles were before my time, but I like some of their music.
P.S. I'm convined you don't sleep.

JenHoney said...

Wow, Erin! These beads are incredible. And such a refreshing alternative to all the cliched platitudes of Valentine's Day. Did you have stamps made of the text or did you do each letter separately?

swopemelmel said...

WOW!!! Just WOW!!!!! I am SPEECHLESS. These are BEYOND AWESOME!!!!!! I would definately purchase some of those for sure!!!!

SoulsFireDesigns said...

Oh goodness, these are perfection! I absolutely adore Shakespeare and I have always love that sonnet. For exactly the reasons you describe... he loves her because she is who she is, all of her little imperfections are what make her herself. These beads and this necklace, perfect! Love!

Niina said...

So beautiful, WOW!

Rachel said...

Exquisite! These remind me of ancient scrolls or wine corks that have been written on. I would buy these in a heart beat! Lovely.

Lori Anderson said...

I love the story beads! I imagine they're a lot more challenging to space the letter (I remember taking a graphic design class for kids in grade school, and how they taught us how to space a perfect title, as different letters took up different amounts of space).

I have three of Kerry's pieces I lucked into purchasing -- they're awesome, aren't they? Mine are all in the blue/aqua family but I'm sure you know how much I love the colors in yours!

Jo said...

How lovely!

I have, of all things, a set of three green origami frogs that my husband folded and wrote notes inside when we were first going out. They're still safely in a wooden box on the book shelf!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh. I love the beads and necklace! Such a wonderful idea... I love Shakespeare!

How did you stamp the lines on the beads, I imagine it's not easy to apply a stamp to a small curved surface? Or did you stamp the individual words?


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