Beading in Spacetime

I’m a big Star Trek fan. I mean big time. I watched the original series in the 60s with my parents. Then came the Next Generation in the 80s. Voyager in the 90s. Deep Space Nine in the 90s. Enterprise from 2001-2005. When the J.J. Abrams movie came out 3 years ago, I went on opening night. So, you get the picture.

Anyway, they’re always talking about the Spacetime Continuum. You can read the technical definition here but it basically refers to an event as it relates to a point in space and time, with the 3 dimensions of length, width and height (space) and the 1 dimension of time.

A moment in time and where it is located.

I’ve been reading some interesting theories about the concept of time, in particular, the work of John William Dunne, an Irish aeronautical engineer who conducted some experiments with his precognitive dreams and then wrote a book about it in 1927, An Experiment with Time. Dunne posits that past, present and future are all happening simultaneously. We can only “see” the present time because that is what our human consciousness is meant to see. However, when we are unconscious in a dreamstate, our human consciousness is unrestricted and we are able to traverse all of time.

For this Star Trek fan, this is all quite fascinating stuff.

As my mind has been mulling over these ideas about time and spacetime, my imagination has been inspired to manifest this bracelet which I have aptly named “Spacetime”. Created in the shape of a watch, the “face” shows a 3-color pattern representing past, present and future instead of a fixed moment in time as a “normal” watch does.

The “face” is a polymer clay lentil bead with a crushed ikat cane pattern. I believe that Donna Kato is the originator of this cane. I learned how to create this cane from a demo at one of my polymer clay guild meetings. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s created, I found this tutorial by Mia Rox.

I beaded a bezel around the lentil bead using size 11 and 15 seed beads. The “strap” is brick stitch. I puzzled over what to do for the clasp for several weeks. One evening I happened to pick up my copy of Kate McKinnon’s “The Jewelry Architect” and there it was. Kate calls it the “Ram’s Horn Clasp”. It is positively brilliant! Thank you for your inspiration, Kate. I tweaked mine a bit from the original design. The spiral is a universal symbol found in nature and art and I have always been fascinated with its non-linear shape. Perhaps it also speaks of the abstractness of time?

So here I am, still beading and contemplating the nature of the universe…

As always, thanks for visiting!

“Meditation on Spring” Beaded Cuff

Spring colors are blooming on my very first bracelet cuff creation!

Forsythia yellow, willow green, azalea pink, rhododendron rose, cream and baby pink magnolia. Colors so fresh and light, rebirthing the world in their embrace. Ah, I just love this time of year!

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote this post about stitching a 2-drop peyote band from a bead soup mix that was left over from this freeform bracelet. That band has sat, well, for 2 years now, on a bead mat in my studio, patiently waiting for me to transform it into a piece of jewelry.

I created the face cabochon from polymer clay using the same glazing technique I used for these faces, rubbing on mica powder and mixing alcohol ink with liquid polymer clay.

After I beaded around the face cabochon, I attached her to my peyote band. As I held it in my hand, I felt that the weight of the cabochon was just too heavy for the lightness of the band so I pondered and pondered on what I could do next. Hmmmm…

Aha! What if I sewed the peyote stitched band to a piece of ultrasuede and then glued that to a brass cuff? That would give it the weight and counterbalance it needed! So, I did just that and then glued another piece of ultrasuede to the back of the cuff. I stitched a beaded edge, thus joining the 2 pieces of ultrasuede together at their edges, giving the cuff a finished look.

I found a great resource on the web for ultrasuede. Field’s Fabrics is located in Michigan, has over 160 colors of ultrasuede in stock and charges only a flat rate $6.00 for shipping. You can buy scrap variety packs or as little as 1/8 yard per color. I used a pale spring green called limade for this project.

Even though it took me several years to figure out how to bring all of the components together in harmony, I’m so happy with my new creation. Now that’s it’s complete, I’m thinking of another bead embroidered bracelet, this one softer without the brass cuff, possibly beaded on a piece of batik fabric in yummy colors.

Ah, the possibilities…

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” 

~Albert Einstein

Unless otherwise noted, all text and photos are the property of Karen Park Art and Tea, copyright 2007-2011. Please do not “lift” any of my photographs or blog posts for use on your blog or website. Thank you so much for your respect and kind attention.

Live, Laugh, Love

I recently finished 2 bracelets that were commissioned as a gift for a couple to celebrate their recent marriage.

I found it a great challenge to create something for someone whom I’ve never met and don’t know at all. That said, I was given some great info and background on the couple, including one of their favorite phrases.

I stamped the phrase onto 2 copper charms I cut out, to create a link between the 2 bracelets. As you can see, I also used similar beads to further link the two.

Can you tell which one is for her and which one is for him?

From the Studio

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Now that my studio time has become limited to evenings and weekends since my return to full-time work 3 months ago, I have slipped into a comfortable rhythm as I dip into one art project and then another. Depending upon my mood, my energy level (especially after a day of work) and whatever else is going on, I choose my project and settle in for some blissful art making. Lately, my choices have been between my knitting, weaving beads for jewelry pieces, and my art journal.

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My knitting is a dear old friend, with its cozy and comfortable rhythm, always there to wrap me in its warm embrace. Using a newborn sock pattern I recently found online, I’m making a rosy pink pair of booties for a colleague’s brand new daughter. It took me a couple of practice starts trying to find the right gauge and now I’ve settled upon using size 2 double pointed bamboo needles.

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My beadwork is constantly evolving as I try new and different weaves to express the beauty of nature and how it touches and resonates within my soul. I love the color palette I used for my Spring free-form bracelet and do not want to let it go just yet. Using the bead soup mix I found left over on my bead mat, I created a 2-drop peyote cuff.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily this cuff came into being and am excited by the range of ideas floating in my head on how I can use it for a background for polymer clay work like canes, cabochons and buttons. For this particular cuff, I think I will create a glazed polymer clay face cabochon in soft pinks as a focal point. I haven’t figured out yet what I will do for a clasp. I want something that will go well with the design and colors of the cuff. I feel that if I add a metal clasp that it might be too jarring for the rest of the design, especially with the soft colors of this palette. Any ideas?

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My new love is my art journal. Sarah Whitmire’s wonderful Soul Journal prompts have taken me gently by the hand and guided me as I start out on this self-discovery journey. Now that I have almost completed the 22 days of prompts, I find my wings starting to flutter open. I want to fly on my own across my journal pages and see what happens.

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I am having so much fun mixing and layering paint colors on the pages. I’ve discovered the “My Studio” line of inexpensive acrylic paints at A.C. Moore and everytime I visit I am compelled to get just a couple more colors! I also find myself looking around the house for interesting elements to add and use for stamping and texturing my pages. Inspired by my dear friend Judy, my next step is to try my hand at molding paste to bring a lot more texture to my pages. I’d like to use that for the cover of my journal. If anyone has any tips or stories to share about your own art journaling/collage experience, please do!

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I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

~Pablo Picasso

Studio Wednesday

Today I worked on and finished the beadwork on my faux jade charms fringy bracelet. I’ve ordered some brass and silver Chinese coin charms from Fire Mountain Gems and they should be arriving sometime this week. I want to make a clasp with one of the coins.

The fabric is a painted and stamped piece from an Art Day with friends in June. I really enjoyed transforming a white piece of muslin into colorful fabric.

Using Aleene’s Jewel-it, I glued some polymer clay pieces onto Pellon Peltex 70, an extra firm stabilizer I purchased at Joann Fabric’s. I’m hoping it’s not too stiff for the beadwork I’ll be adding around the pieces. I’ll also probably tone down the white color with some fabric paint. Has anyone ever used this for beadwork?

This first piece was created from a cane I made a long time ago at one of my guild meetings. My friend, Judy, showed us how to make this cane. I think it’s a variation of this scrap feather cane. I didn’t reduce the cane and stretched a slice over some scrap clay to make what looks to me like a cocoon. When I bead around it, I want to enhance its organic feel. It will probably turn into a pendant.

This polymer clay cabochon was created from the mokume gane stack I used to make these earrings. Another pendant, perhaps for a free-form necklace.

More pieces from that mokume gane stack. These will be made into earrings.

An Autumn Bead Crochet Bracelet

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More bead crochet exploring. This time I used Perle Cotton 8 thread with size 6 glass beads. The black stripes on orange remind me of autumn and Halloween so I created a polymer clay pumpkin bead for the clasp.

So far, I like this thread the best in feel and ease of crocheting. The black color of the thread was a little tricky to find the stitch to go into but my hook slid into the stitch a lot easier than the C-lon cord. That was too stiff for my beginning skill level. This thread also gives a slinky supple feel to the finished bracelet which is a wonderful feeling on my wrist.

The loop for the clasp is a single crochet with the same thread. I then sewed terra cotta colored seed beads around the loop.

What I really loved in creating this bracelet is that it combined 3 techniques – polymer clay sculpture, bead weaving and bead crocheting.

I chose the blue graduated background because it reminds me of a clear autumn sky and it accentuates the orange beads. I love looking to nature for inspiration even in something simple like choosing a background for photography.

More photo experiments

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With my photo experiments so far, I have used natural light and flourescent daylight bulbs, colored paper and a black velvet bust. The photos taken in the natural light of my window were too dark. The photos taken on the black velvet bust were too flat looking. The photos taken on the colored paper looked too busy to me. The jewelry was getting lost in the color of the paper. Some props I used competed with the jewelry. Then I borrowed some gradient paper and did some experimenting. It is the best so far, I think. Clean and professional looking, it does not compete with the jewelry at all. In fact, it seems to make the colors of the jewelry stand out so it enhances the piece.

My “Woodland Fairy” bracelet was inspired by a stitch technique in the marvelous book, “Mastering Beadwork” by Carol Huber Cypher. Carol calls the technique “peyote-carry-one” and it is similar to a Dutch spiral in that you add an extra bead which is then not woven into on the next round. It gives more fluidity and drape than regular tubular peyote which can be pretty stiff. It also enables you to add a bead with small holes since you don’t stitch into it on the next round. I decided to use the drop beads I used in my “Woodland Fairy” necklace but I didn’t want to carry them through the whole bracelet. I think it gives the look of a textured bead in front.

What do you think?