Monday, April 4, 2011

Every Stitch Teaches a Lesson

Sometimes, not the lesson you might expect. 

I finished this bracelet a few days ago.   I finally found something to do with those brick-red lentils, which are the oddly drilled ones that overlap when they are strung. I could not think of what do to with them and they've languished so long in my stash I didn't think I would ever figure it out.  I have some black lentils like this too. 

So the first lesson this piece taught me was that keeping something in mind, just running across it as I shifted it aside searching for other beads, would eventually lead me to incorporating it into a piece. It's a good reason to thoroughly review my entire holdings every few months.

The picasso-finish seed beads I bought from a vendor on Etsy. I don't know how she did it, but her pictures made those beads look scrumptiously good. Amazing even. Somehow that brown baked-on finish seemed so exotic and made me spend an unseemly amount of money on seed beads. Then I got them and ummmm. Not so scrumptious in person. Not bad enough to make me send them back, but definitely disillusioning. So the second lesson was that not everything looks as good in person as it does online. Those of you considering internet dating ought to take note.

I grabbed those picassos (a mix called 'salsa,' though if my salsa came out looking like that I'd throw it out and start over) and started a peyote stitch. I discovered that many of the seed beads were of extremely variable size. Some were fat, others thin, some smaller, some larger in diameter. It rapidly became unpleasant and the work itself wasn't all that straight as I worked. Just fractions of a millimeter made so much difference!

Obviously the picasso-finisher, whoever they were, started with sub-standard beads. So my third lesson was that quality in materials matters. Bigtime. The extra work involved in working rows unevenly, having holes that are not of uniform diameter, and having to throw away significant numbers that are so far off-size as to be non-functional made the beads even more expensive than the price I paid.  It also made me appreciate my Miyuke and Toho beads that are so precise. Boy do they make beading easier!

I didn't really like the beads when I started the bracelet. I didn't like them more as time went on and the bracelet grew. Once finished, though, and with the addition of the double-picots and the lentils along the edges, I found that while I personally would never buy or wear such a bracelet, I could see that someone else with different taste might find it acceptable. Attractive, even.  My fourth lesson was that I enjoy working more on something I want to wear myself, but that isn't a mandatory element in creating something I'm proud of. 

The bracelet looks one way when it's all laid out neatly and the lentils groomed into place for the pictures. It looks quite another when it's on a wrist. The lentils flop and clack and shift the weight of the piece in interesting ways.  It feels a lot better than it looks, at least in my opinion.

Once a long time ago, I made a "texture quilt" for my son, out of fabrics like silks, satins, velvets and wool, designed to be felt with eyes closed. I'd read about them being made for blind people, and thought it was a great way to teach my son about textures. Uglier than all-get-out, because I didn't care about color or shape, or all those wrinkles and folds. I wonder if there's equivalent jewelry for the blind, where the feel of the piece is far more important than the visual esthetics?  Perhaps the last lesson this bracelet will teach me is that there's a market for everything, if you can find it.


  1. So sorry that the beads turned out to be a disappointment. :( Have you checked out beadsandbabble on Etsy? I haven't ordered any of her picasso beads myself, but everyone I know who has was very pleased. I've been pleased with other beads that I've ordered from her.

  2. I think Picasso beads are a matter of taste. You have to adore them before you buy them. LOL! Interesting bracelet though.

  3. It looks like an interesting bracelet! Good luck on selling it :) I enjoy reading about the evolution of pieces - especially when there are lessons learned across the way!

  4. Genius! I have some turquoise lentils like this! Bravo, great idea!