creative challenge-type stuff

I've been going through another period where there's lots of things I would like to start, but even more things I would like to finish. One of the things I would like to finish is de-cluttering my apartment, and if I'm going to do that, I have to be able to put away most of my beading trays.

The finishing of the necklace in the photograph to the right marks the clearing of yet another tray. As an added bonus, the only non-stash elements in it are the two large silver beads and the clasp.

There were two challenges with this piece: first of all, most of the beads are shades of pink. I hate pink. I hate pink so much that I was considering just tossing the beads (they'd been acquired through gifts anyhow), but then the ever-stylish J-A pointed out she liked pink, and if I wanted to experiment she'd be willing to receive the results.

The other problem was that the pink beads were all around a size 6, but not ever evenly produced. Almost all of my beading is done with size 11s, with some faceted beads and drops thrown in. J-A likes chunky styles in necklaces, but these beads weren't chunky enough.

I really do hate pink, but I am currently knitting a jacket with lots of pink in it. It's Kaffe Fassett's Red Diamonds pattern, and the trick with that particular stash reduction attempt is to choose yarns that sort of talk around red. I have pinks, plums, roses, maroons, and all sorts of colours that are close to a true red without actually getting there. I have lots of reds and scarlets and crimsons too, but the point is that because they're all thrown in together, all of a sudden pink has a place in the spectrum. If it wasn't there, the colours in the jacket would be too strong and strident.

Fassett has a much more elegant way of putting it, but I call this the principle of "sucky colours working if you put enough of them together." I tried the same thing with the beads, making the peyote-stitch tube that forms the centre part of the necklace first. I just worked it until I ran out of the anthracite beads. The tube has relatively little flex in it — the curve you see in the photo is about the maximum. Fortunately, its own weight encourages it to curve to the maximum when it is worn.

Then I worked the two herringbone bands out of what was left of the pink beads. They're just this side of being tubular — four beads around. The herringbone tubes are very flexible, which I tried to show in the photo.

After that it was just a case of attaching everything. I didn't find any large-size bead caps I liked, so I got the big silver beads instead and just gathered the ends of the beaded tubes as tightly as I could. It works. I did put some small bead caps on the tops of the herringbone tubes to help centre and attach the clasp.

Overall I think it works. This is the first piece I've done entirely on my own, from scratch, without a pattern or photo to give me an idea. Beaders tend to come up with cutesy names for their work — beading magazines even seem to encourage it — so I'm coming up with a name for this one. I'm calling it "Ethnically Confused." It has elements that can be found in the beading traditions of Africa, Eastern Europe, Central America, and Asia, yet the colours are straight out of a North American shopping mall. If I'd done it in turquoise and coral, or ebony and tiger-eye, I'm sure J-A would have had people who don't know any better asking about where it was from every time she wore it. Instead, she gets to have something that does not scream hand-made either from the "a friend of mine made this for me" standpoint, or the "some women making appalling low wages in a faraway country made this" standpoint. I'm not even sure it's not ugly, but people can make of it what they will.

As for stash-busting, you can see from what's left in the tray that I still have lots of pink beads, although not nearly as many as I started with. A lot of what's left are odd sizes or don't have properly reamed holes, so I think I'm going to only keep the cherry-red ones and the petrol ones (lower left corner on the inside and outside dish groups, respectively). The rest can go in the garbage. I made my creative challenge and I'm happy with it — time to move on to other things.