500 Beaded Jewelry
posted: Wednesday, 01 August 2012
A few months ago I found out that 3 of my photos had been chosen to appear in the new book from Lark: 500 Beaded Jewelry (Amazon link given for ease- please support your local bead/ craft/ book shop where you can).
So you can imagine how exicted I was when a copy popped through my letter box this morning.
I adore my well-thumbed copy of 500 Beaded Objects and had high hopes for this one. I'm pleased to say I'm not disappointed, but it was very interesting to me the huge difference between the work featured in this book and the previous one.
When the book arrived I eagerly opened it yearning to see some of the incredibly innovative/ sculptural/ provocative/ ground-breaking/ sublime pieces that seemed to fill every page of the previous book; and whilst this book does have some of them, it's very different, and unfortunately there just wasn't as much that leapt out at me as being new and exciting. It was gorgeous/ beautiful/ beady etc. but not every page dripped with newness that I craved. Which is funny as, even now, having owned the first book for 8 years, there is still so much in there which strikes me as new and interesting.
That's not a criticism of the book, not at all, nor of the beadwork within it- absolutely not- there are some pieces which made my jaw drop and my heart ache with envy and wonder. It's just a yearning for something.
It may just be that it was due to a different person choosing the items, but from being out there on the internet, judging beading competitions and seeing what people are creating, it seems to me it's just a swing towards a certain type of beadwork. You know- the big, bead embroidery/ collary/ cabochony pieces of work.
At the moment I'm ones of the judges for 'Battle of the Beadsmith' and the 80 entries which were in the first heat comprised (at my rough count) around 69 pieces which fit into this category. When did beadwork get to be 85% this? I'm not anti it (a couple of the pieces were incredibly clever, innovative and unique) just tired of seeing the same thing.
I was delighted when flicking through the book to see that one of my pieces sits directly opposite one of my favourite ever pieces of beadwork- these cone earrings by Teresa Sullivan. When I look at these I see simple, crisp, elegant beadwork which doesn't need adornment to cover any errors or embellishment to catch the eye. Getting your work so precise and refined whispers real skill to me and shows the shape and form and lets it speak for itself. Where has she hidden the increases/ decreases? Where's the obvious step-up? How did she get it down to one bead at the point? That's clever beading right there.
That's not to say I only like bold and pared-back. This week I got to see someone wearing a bracelet designed by someone who is to me one of the greatest talents in the beading World- Sue Maguire. Sue's work is hard to find on the internet (you'll all have to come to the UK to track her down and do a class with her!) but here is the bracelet. I wish I could show you a photo of her beaded bag which won first place in the first ever British Bead Awards as it was truly a thing of wonder. And the opposite of work I make, in case you thought I only liked what I make.
I think actually that's the opposite of my view- I love beads and beadwork and I guess I just want to see as much variety in it as I can, which I guess is why I am so excited about the book I'm working on.
I'm in the fortunate postition to get to see all of the amazing work we've kept hidden so far and I really hope that if you are looking for something new (and even if you have never beaded before, this book is also written for you), you'll find it in our pages.
One example is this terrific bracelet beaded by Gabriella van Diepen. It's glitzy, sculptural, structured, classic, innovative, pared-back and dazzling all at once- I adore it.
I do wonder if after the book comes out, and the ideas within it have spread around the World, if the next issue of '500 beaded' will show a swing in a different direction...