Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Unbeading, or Two Steps Forward, Two Back

Struggling. That's how I feel about this bead project. I've been struggling from the beginning.

Let's face it. I'm so impressed by the winning competitor of each Etsy Beadweavers Team challenge. So, after December, in which I got a big Two Countem' TWO votes for my entry, I determined I was going to pull out all the stops for the next challenge in February. My goal was modest...to get more than two votes. 

Come to find out, many people recruit votes for themselves on Facebook and other social media. That's cool, because it drives more traffic to all of our Etsy stores. My stats certainly went up. 

And the winning pieces are always incredible. In the spirit of elevating my own work, I was going for nearly-incredible. I'd had this idea in mind for a long while, but not the whole integrated piece. Bits of it. The netted rope. The netting on the forest green ultrasuede background. The donut was a late addition, but it really sparked a whole lot of the design. I was planning to cut around the donut and suspend it from the peyote straps, not touching the embroidered piece elsewhere. I could hardly wait to move on to the fringe I had planned for the bottom. It was gonna be spectacular.  

But, that part about integration is not negligible. How to connect Tab A and Slot B can be problematic. Netted rope with an embroidered piece hanging off it? How does that connection work? How do you sew netting onto a base fabric? I thought that would be easy enough. Netting isn't hard. Bead embroidery isn't hard. Separately, they're cake. 

Holy crap getting one onto the other is HARD!!!  The pictures here are of my fifth attempt. That's right, five times I started and got a fair way into it before I gave up, tore it all out, and salvaged the beads.  

Drawing straight lines and trying to bead along them didn't work. Anchoring each vertex bead in the netting down as I went didn't work. Then I made a square piece of netting, sewed that down in the center and tried to work outward from there. That was slightly more successful, but then I got to the outer corners. Fitting netting into curves is no fun. In fact, it started to look worse the farther up the curve I went. 
These pictures were taken right before I got out my scissors, cut off all that netting, and excised the two cabochons into separate pieces, just so I wouldn't be tempted to make a sixth attempt at something that is clearly not meant to be, or at least not at my current level of expertise.

I still don't have any firm idea of how to attach the bit with the cabochons to the netted rope. I don't have a clue as to what's going around the neck.  This one is going to have to lie fallow for a bit.

I hate unbeading. 

This will teach me not to have a fairly substantial concept of where I'm going before I start. The entire project doesn't have to be planned to the last detail, and things will certainly evolve as I work, they always do. But no more of these "oh just do the bits and it'll all fall together." Because what will happen is that I'll spend a lot of time learning the sad lessons of unbeading, and getting no farther forward.

So there won't be an entry from me in February. Of course, if I did enter anything, it would be titled "Queen of the Fat Chance" after seeing this entry.   Perhaps "Our Lady of No Way In Hell."


  1. Great post! I know exactly how you feel!! I was extremely happy with my 8 votes last challenge!! Whenever I have a problem beading, I set it aside and do something else. Then I sleep on it. Apparently my subconscious works on the problem. Sometimes I even dream of a solution!! So I guess I'm saying...Don't give up just wait and ponder! A solution will come!!!

  2. In Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kummli's book (LOL I almost said Heidi KLUM!) there are some instructions for doing netting on fabric (called webbing in the book). See page 22. I think one of the problems you might have had was your netting scale may be too big, and your beads too big as well. When I do webbing, I use size 15 seed beads, and anchoring them down periodically is crucial for a neater finish.

    Don't give up! Perhaps you need to try a smaller project to practice your skills?

    Good luck,


  3. No, I won't give up. But I will let the project steep for a while in the stack of fallow projects.

    @Kate, those small gold beads in the netting are size 15s, and the intersection beads are 11s. I looked up page 22 in Serafini & Kumml's book, that was the second technique I tried. I couldn't get the lines straight no way no how and it seemed like the formal look of this piece demanded it.

    I suspect I just need far more practice. Right now, I'm soothing myself with some peyote. That I can do.


  4. Hey Lynn,

    Don't get too down on yourself. I saw your December entry, and I really liked it. I know what you mean about competing with that piece for February's challenge though. Wow! My problem is that with MS, I just can't work as fast as many of you. Doing something like that cleopatra collar would take me months! And each challenge only gives you a few weeks, so it'll be interesting to see how many I actually get to do this year. It's too bad we don't post the challenge topic further ahead of time. Keep us posted on this project though. I'd love to see the finished result.

  5. Your process sounds like almost all of my own! I think that's how we learn and create things that have not been seen before. I agree, sometimes you have to step back and think and digest before you can more forward again. And sometimes, I never get back, but move on to something else entirely. I have had the same piece on my bench for over a month. I initially thought it would be bead embroidery, but after I started it that way, I realized that was not the right path. I am trying it as a weaving now and it looks kinda hopeful, but ony time will tell. The beginnings of your work are very elegant, and I hope you'll solve the technical problems and be able to realize your dreams for it!