Beads Of Clay, also known as BOC, is a nonprofit organization that promotes and educates others about creating and using artisan-made clay beads. I’ve met the nicest, funniest and most creative artists through this group. Recently BOC added a Design Team to their organization.
Four times a year, different groups of 5 jewelry designers are given a collection of BOC artisan clay beads and asked to design one or more pieces of jewelry with them. I was included in the first group to give it a go.
Before the team received their beads, we were given this picture of what was to come. The directions were:
The black and white picture is a teaser. It shows you everything you will receive, but without color. Look at the shapes and think about them first. Then when you get the pieces, you can write something about this experience and include it in your blog post with your finished designs.1, Does looking at the shapes without color, help?2. Did not knowing the colors make it more difficult to consider a design?3. Did the design style change after seeing the actual colors?
So before I saw the color picture, I spent some time thinking in B&W. I did a preliminary sketch, although I rarely sketch my designs ahead of time.
In the end, not much stayed the same! The pendant is still there, (duh!). I kept the chain as an asymmetrical element. I did write a note that maybe the brick shaped pieces should go elsewhere, and indeed, they became an inspiration for another necklace, which ended up using the shell shaped beads as well. It was an interesting exercise to design without color or actual beads. It reinforced something I already know about myself. I am a kinetic, tactile learner. I have to have the beads actually in my hands. I often have the initial inspiration as a mental picture, but that is just a starting point. I’m definitely a hands-on designer.
So, eventually all these gorgeous beads arrived! Let me take a moment to identify each artist represented below.
Sharleen Newland, of Shaterra Clay Studio, made the sun pendant.
The rectangular raku beads are by Duane Collins, of Elements Pottery.
The rounds and the fan-shaped beads are from Golem Studios.
All the other small ceramic pieces are from Marsha Neal Minutella, of Marsha Neal Studio.
The Vintaj brass pieces are from Marla James, of Marla’s Mud, who organized this challenge for us.
As it turned out, I started with those gleaming rectangular raku beads. I bought some forest green Greek leather cord so I could make a knotted leather necklace. When I went to Bead Fest in Philadelphia last April, I picked up some very cool, light green African recycled glass, which looked awesome with the green tones in the raku. I got the small rustic striped beads in Philly also.
I added some commercial ceramic beads, some carved wood, 2 bone beads and some African brass beads that I already had in my stash. I finished the necklace with a cool button clasp made of horn and metal.
I then dangled the 2 fan-shaped beads from the ends of the leather. Let me tell you, the leather was so short at that point that I had the hardest time tieing those knots at the ends of the dangles! Lesson learned: allow more cord than you think you’ll need! The “Rustic Raku” necklace is now available in my Etsy shop.
I kind of let the second necklace go till the last minute. I finished it Friday afternoon! The colors were so bright and happy that I had a lot of fun while I was designing it.
In addition to Sharleen’s pendant, I had some round beads she made that were already in my stash and had the same light brown-tan glaze color. Score! So I used one of those beads to accent the pendant and I wired a brass bead cap and a gorgeous lampwork disc bead by Radiant Mind beneath that. I love how they all work together to make a striking pendant.
The BOC beads fit together color-wise, but they were all different shapes, sizes and textures. I felt I needed something to unify the whole design. After a little experimentation, I decided to place one wood and one turquoise Greek ceramic spacer bead between every bead on the necklace. I think that repeated pattern was just what this necklace needed. Then I added a swirly lampwork glass bead, that I think was made by Serena Smith and I included a carved turquoise polymer clay bead by Barbara Betchel, of Second Surf.
The “Laugh” connector is something I found at Michaels a couple of years ago and it fit in perfectly with this sunny theme. I dangled Marsha’s donut-shaped piece from it and placed a little brass bird in front of it. Suddenly I realized that these beads were telling a story of a sunny day, with clear blue skies, birds overhead and someone laughing with joy on a warm day! Hence the name, “Laughing In The Sunshine” necklace.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my thought process as I designed these necklaces. I encourage you to read the blog post about this challenge at Beads Of Clay and then please visit the other 4 awesome designers to see what they made with the same BOC beads.
♥ Beads of Clay ♥