My Summer Beading Obsession

Here I am.   I’ve finally come out from under my beading mat and stepped away from my Cabochons, my tiny size 15 seed beads and my multi-colored Japanese Delicas.  This is the year I unintentionally, accidentally decided to “up my game”.  When I attended the Coastal Maine Bead Retreat in April in Ogunquit, Maine I was thrown in with bead artists who are light years ahead of me in creativity and imagination.  But the Retreat seemed to light a fire in me to learn more and to not be afraid to work on more challenging  patterns.

Designer Sherry Serafini is known for her beaded embroidery bracelets and necklaces.  Her “bio” mentions that her designs are, “..owned and worn by Melissa Etheridge, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz and singer Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.”  When I took her class in Maine I became hopelessly enraptured with embroidering cabochons of various sizes surrounded by tiny beads, resulting in unusual artwork.  So I went home afterwards and dug through all my old and current bead magazines and books to find easy patterns to teach myself all the steps to embroider on Ultrasuede.

My first bead embroidery project was from the February, 2015 Bead and Button magazine, “Egyptian Scarab Necklace” by designer Meg Mullen.  The instructions are easy, fun and I learned a lot.  I think the project took about ten days from start to finish.

Also at the Maine bead retreat was designer Marcia DeCoster who inspired me to learn the difficult stitch ‘cubic right angle weave’, CRAW.  But once home I needed to learn all I could about simple right angle weave and found one of her projects in Beadwork magazine’s February/March 2009 issue, the “Ellipse Necklace”.

I thought I knew all there is to know about right angle weave (RAW).  There are only four beads to start, a north bead, south bead, east bead and west bead.  They are woven into a circle and from there you exit one east or west bead and add another RAW component.  I had to stop and think about it when I got complacent and consequently, lost.  Think of a square, flat wall with a top, bottom and two opposite sides.   You always have four beads, no matter where you go.  It is mathematically logical.  It also sounded simple until I realized I had to learn tubular RAW.  After checking around on You Tube I found a short tutorial by Marcia.  Her way of stitching Tubular RAW  is quicker, easier and of course, logical.  The 25.5″ length necklace took me forever.  Would I ever be finished, I wondered?

Each step of her project presented a new challenge.  Marcia does not give baby steps in her published patterns since there are pictures with arrows and lines where the thread path begins and ends.  But for every hour I spent beading I probably redid each step about twenty times.  But I kept learning though each component. Even when I was almost in tears the words, logical and FOUR square beads, kept sticking into my brain.  Follow the path, the design of top, bottom, east and west.

After most of the components were done, then they had to be layered and RAW’d on top of each other.  The fun had just begun.  Marcia loves to embellish the embellishments.  Although her required colors were hard to find and I had to substitute different shades of blue and bronze and orange, each layer of embellishment made the necklace come alive.

It took my five whole weeks to complete the Ellipse necklace.  It was the most challenging bead project I’ve ever tried.  It taught me every nuance of right angle weave beading.  It forced me to think outside of the box, to not accept defeat, to walk away when I thought the pattern was too difficult, to think logically.  In the end I even added my own twist to the beaded beads.

Thank you, Marcia DeCoster and Sherry Serafini for the challenge and your words of encouragement in April.

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