Stretching Yourself as an Artist

Posted on March 5, 2012

Every year I try and set myself some kind of goal.  Usually it's to master an elusive technique or solve a technical issue,  but this year I decided  I needed to come up with a more specific way to challenge myself, push me out of my "comfort zone" and work towards something out of reach.

So this year I decided to enter a juried art show.  I actually entered two of them and because of my impeccable timing, both pieces were due within a week of one another.  After some long nights and an empty Etsy shop, I finally completed both of them.  I wanted to show you the piece I came up with for a juried art show at Summit Art Space, which is an art cooperative in downtown Akron, Ohio, and talk about my admittedly flawed  creative process.

Setting out I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted it to look like, with no real idea of exactly HOW I was going to do it, but figured what the heck, I'll figure out the details later.  I knew I wanted something ethereal, something spring-ey looking and after an epicly bad attempt using bright colors, I settled on a monochromatic scheme.

I wanted it to ultimately be wearable, came up with an idea of a necklace and set to work.  I made my first batch of beads on copper wire of varying weights, my intent was to wire them onto some kind of armature so the back would be hidden and the front all glass.  I bought some copper tubing at Lowe's and spread everything out on my dining room table.  It had to weigh almost two pounds and that was without any glass on it.  What was I thinking?

 So this is what I finally came up with:

I took some of the clear tubing (for fish tanks) and cut two pieces about 28" long.  I lined them up next to each other and wrapped them in C-Lon bead cord, a durable slightly stiff cord that is strong and holds its shape.  If you have ever made a treasure woven bracelet in the style of Stephanie Sersich, this necklace is made in a similiar fashion.  I used a basic figure 8 weave, effectively bonding both pieces together.  I wanted it to become narrower as it reached the end, so I cut three inches off the botom piece of tubing and then cut out a wedge (kind of like a dart in a dress) and squished th ends together.  I continued to wrap it tightly until I was down to just the one piece of tubing.  I took my time wrapping, I wanted it to be as even as possible.

 I cut it down to about 24" and continued wrapping until I reached the ends then glued a metal cone into each end to finish it off.  (If I would have thought of it earlier, I probably would have made glass caps)  Boy, this took me all night to do, but it looked great and should feel nice on the skin (again, what was I thinking with the copper???) and it's still pretty flexible.

 Here is another shot of the back after I stitched some of the beads onto it:

I wanted a loop and button closure so I fished 4 strands of the C-Lon thought the tube (doubled over it was 8 strands) until I had 12" on both ends.  I used the figure 8 weave on about 4 inches for the loop, pulled it tight and tied a knot on the opposite end, this is where I will attach my big "button" later.

I had made an assortment of beads, some big dosc flowers, some ribbon-ey vines, pressed leaves and some flowers with petals, all on 1/16"mandrels:


I etched about half of the beads, and left the others shiny with metallic accents, feeling that this added a little bit of contrast to the color theme.

I laid out all of my beads, and started at the center of the necklace and worked to the right.  I sewed each component onto the necklace, using seed beads to anchor them in place and alternating the beads by color and etched/shiny.  I made tons of beads, I thought I had more than enough, but they only covered about 1/3  of the base.  So after 3 more torching sessions I finally covered the entire necklace with beads.  I ended up using more than 150 beads,  but it had that nice full look I wanted and the layering of colors gave it that ethereal feeling.


This is a better picture of what it looks like IRL, softer and more subdued:

I finished it off with a big transparent disc with metallic accents, it blends into the necklace without detracting from it.  The finished piece ended up being about 27 inches long and weighs about 1 pound.  The fabulous driftwood display was made by my awesome hubbie from Lake Erie driftwood:

So we'll see how the show goes, but I'm happy with how it turned out and ful of new ideas!  Happy torching!  Laura








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torchfairy   March 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm

  That is just beautiful!! love the colours (my favorites... green blue..) it is so airy looking & the driftwood display... shows the necklace off to it's BEST... GOOD LUCK Fay  

judys1161   January 14, 2017 at 9:00 pm

  So, how did it go? I have had a photo of this very necklace in my photo collection to work towards one day!! Gorgeous. Judy  

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