Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Evolution of a Design

I rarely seem to be content with my first attempt at a design. There are often several versions before I'm happy and that violet I shared yesterday was no exception.

As these first attempts are often the ones I wear or donate to Beads of Courage (through the So Cal Flame Surfers), you guys rarely get to see behind the curtain.

The Violets for My Sisters came about when I was making some beads to take to my sorority's 25th anniversary party. I made several beads but in the end I knew the violet would strike a cord with "the girls" who are now grown women. And as I wanted to give it to a sister who extended herself in a most gracious way to me, it had to be special.

Whenever I begin a sculptural piece, I hit google images for examples of what I want to make. I try to find as many images from different angles as I can. I open a word doc and right click and paste them into one doc, dragging the corners to fit 4 - 6 on one page. I print that out and tape it to the right of my torch... on the wall, far away from the flame.

Then I select my colors, pull stringers, give some thought to structure (How will it hang? Will one side be too heavy? Along with the more obvious, "Where do I begin?"), pull any special tools and start.

At first, I really wanted an opaque glass for a base. But the fact of the matter is... no one makes a pretty opaque purple. (Before you other bead makers jump in here - there is a boutique glass company that makes a glorious opaque purple. But that color is so inconsistent; I refuse to spend more money for an unpredictable product.) For that reason alone, this bead was rejected.

Still I wore this for a few days to be sure the structure was something I could go on with. I wanted to make sure the design didn't flop when worn. I had taken care to balance this bead by adding extra glass to the back side to to prevent that but wearing it was the only way to be sure. Once I knew the bead worked structurally, I was ready to address color.
Extra glass was added to the back to keep the bead from flipping.

The second bead broke (I dropped it on my tile floor.) and it's just as well. I used a larger mandrel, wanting a more dramatic sized bead. And even though I took care to add more glass to the back, it was still front heavy as it had petals only on one side like the first. But I knew the transparent color was the perfect choice. See? There's something to learn at every turn!

For the final version, I went back to a 1/16 mandrel for a smaller bead hole and on a whim, decided to add petals to both sides. This was quite a feat in the flames! I had to make a bead, keep it warm while pulling petals and adding them one by one. 10 petals!

In the end, I was so pleased that the bead stood upright on its own making it the perfect stand-alone piece for a shelf or desktop or it can be worn without flipping.


JanelDudleyBeads said...

Beautiful flower beads Holly!

LeeAnn said...

Very nice beads! Pretty!