Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kelp Forest


I needed a distraction, and the Etsy Beadweavers May Challenge provided an excellent one. The theme was "Nautical Inspired."  I didn't plan or draw.  I wanted to fill my mind, and use up all the time alloted. Since the description of the challenge mentioned "lush ocean life" I started by searching Google Images for ocean plants, and the first images were of a kelp forest and I was HOOKED!

Rocks with Barnacles

I searched through my stash for things that looked like they might be part of a kelp forest and found several things to love.  Deep blues and greens found their way into my possibilities pile, and two things really spoke to me.  I had some blue green Swarovski jewels that asked to be the rocks that provide the kelp with an anchor on the ocean floor, and some iridescent beetle wings that looked like kelp leaves to me.  I began bezeling the jewels, and realized I needed one more than I had, but (curses!) my supplier was out of town until the 30th of April.  I imagine this is how drug addicts feel when then need a fix, and their dealers are in Aruba!  So I posted an image of what I needed on Facebook, hoping one of my beady buddies might sell me one of these beauties.

And Cindy Hlavka (awesome ex-president of the Upper Midwest Bead Society, who recognizes bead need when she sees it!) came riding to my rescue!  We met in a parking lot and she opened the trunk of her "MN Twins Mobile" to display her Swarovski jewel stash, in a black velvet lined box no less.  I really felt like I was buying drugs!  THANK YOU CINDY!!! 

After the jewels were bezeled, I decided they needed lots of sparkly ocean floor texture, so created a barnacle embellished look with freshwater pearls and bicones.  And I made a center back closure that would allow me to add kelp fringe and made a net connection, which seemed wildly appropriate to the ocean-going theme.
You can see a couple of the beetle wings in the corner of this photo.  I had begun playing with how they might become kelp, but holy mackerel (pardon the expression) that was a challenge!  They are wings, so they are SUPER LIGHT WEIGHT.  Sadly, lightweight things do not lend themselves to fringe, which requires weight to drape beautifully.  I tried MANY configurations and the best one abandoned all thread and used chain and jump rings, which provided the necessary weight for effective drape.  I loved those wings, but I just didn't love what I was able to make from them.

The Quest for Kelp

Thus began the hunt for a way to communicate the beautiful movement and shapes of the kelp itself.  I made a few samples.   One extraordinary thing about the kelp plant that really appealed to me was its flotation device.  Kelp needs sunlight for photosynthesis.  If it lies on the ocean floor, there is not much sunllight to be had.  So it makes its own little pontoons.  Each leaf has a gas bladder, connecting it to the main stalk of the plant and the plant fills the bladders and thus, keeps itself afloat to wave in the currents.  LOVED that.  And I found some awesome freshwater pearls that seemed perfect.  BUT, I struggled with how literal to be, how sparkly the leaves should be, and how to keep the two portions of the necklace harmonious.  This was lacking cohesiveness for me, but I thought it was close.
So I tried a bluer, less glittery version, without the big pearl bladder.
But then, the little bladder pearls were shocking and the leaves were stripey.
so I tried a simpler fringe, thinking it would still have the persuasiave movement.  Fail.

Then I tried putting the big bladder pearl at the bottom, more negative space a the top of kelp and softer stitching to achieve a more tassle-like result, and finally a tassle that I ripped apart later in my process for parts!  Still nothing right.
Plus I found working on this necklace was like sewing on black at night.  It's dark enough that I can't tell what I have done until the next day's dawn.  Finally, I waited for a dawn and did an assessment.  I like the sparkle, but not too much of it.  The bladder pearls were screaming and I needed them to be more integrated, so I found a different, quieter bead for the task.  And the color really needed to blend with the rocks, since the texture and shape were different. AND, I used the big bladder pearl at the top of the fringe strand.  It had a sprouted seed quality in that position that I really liked.   Finally, I could just make the kelp!!!

Final Results: "Poseidon's Garden"

Poseidon, mythological God of the Ocean was also responsible for horses.  Hence the clasp detail! 

This very glamorous evening-wear necklace is for sale in my Etsy shop and also an entry in the May 2012 Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, "Nautical Imspired."  Please visit our team blog to see all the wonderful entries and vote for your personal favorite between May 9th and 15th at:

And happy beading to you!

50 comments:

  1. Oh this piece is such an exciting visual feast. It's very interesting to see your process, too. Thanks for sharing it!

    Kate

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  2. Wow, this is absolutely stunning.

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  3. This is very beautiful! Love the color blue, very wearable :D

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  4. What an incredible piece of art, Marsha!!!!!! I am stunned by its beauty, and the amount of hard work you put into it to get exactly what you wanted from the beads. Thank you so much again for sharing your process with us! I tend to be much more lazy about how I represent things in my work, and have less of a thought process and more of a 'let the beads take it' attitude, so I am always in awe of how very carefully you are able to plan and execute things. Absolutely gorgeous work!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Nancy, your work is splendid, and I probably over-work everything I touch. WE all have our own path to success, and mine involves lots of backing up. Do you ever watch the the new TV show SMASH? It's about the making of a Broadway play, and they try things, move things around, try again, re-write, re-think, re-cast, REDUX so many times! Maybe since my background and training is theater, it's just the way I know how to think about my creative process. I had this great design teacher James Bernardi, and he used to say, "design is the process of selecting out the details you don't want." I live by that. But I hear you doing plenty of the rip stitch too, so I know I am not alone!

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  5. Wooooow this is absolutely beautiful!!!!

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  6. Wow, this is absolutely stunning Marsha!

    I love your description and photos of your creative process while making this piece! And you definitely made all the right choices...the final result is just gorgeous and it really does speak of Kelp floating in the deep blue & green Ocean! And I love how you really researched this and added the "Bladder" pearls!

    And I really love your story of the parking lot meeting to purchase the crystals! Our bead addiction really does have some parallels to drug addiction...haha! I guess addiction is addiction...at least beads are much less harmful than some things we could be buying in parking lots out of the trunk of a car!

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    1. Vimala, I'm so glad you relate to my "feeding my addiction!" I look at my stash some days and just shake my head. But at least, MOST of the parts for this necklace were in that stash, and that was GREAT!

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  7. Very beautiful and distinguish necklace.This is so 'serious',that I can only say:this is the Masterpiece of Beadweaving.There is not an everyday ocassion to be able to see the Work 'from the upper shelf'.
    Warm Greetings-Halinka-

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  8. What a magnificent creation, Marsha! The colour scheme is divine. I really like the inspiration behind it, and it does have a mysterious deep ocean feel to it. Just stunning!

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    1. Thanks Caroline. I love it when the feeling I am trying to fabricate is visible in the end product!

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  9. As usual the piece as a whole is simply stunning.

    I have to admit, however, that my favorite part is he clasp. I have been thinking about a double sided clasp lately; I had thought to have the toggles on either end and the loop loose, but now I have a different option. Thanks.

    I laughed about the meet up in the parking lot. Good thing there weren't any police officers nearby or you might have had some explaining to do.

    Thank you for sharing your process. It is reassuring to see someone else create multiple options before choosing the right one.

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    1. Thank you for being a faithful reader and for you kind comments!

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  10. O M G! What a gorgeous necklace. Every element goes together perfectly. Thank you for discussing your design process, and showing the interim not-quite-right parts.

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  11. Wonderful statement piece. Thank you for sharing so much of your design process.
    Greetings,
    -Eva Maria

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    1. Thanks Eva Maria, for this and for all you do!

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  12. Ah, Marsha! Another breathtaking piece to leave me virtually speechless! This is gorgeous in every way. Everythings works so beautifully together to complete the concept. Love it!

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  13. Callie, thank you so much. I really like this one! :o)

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  14. mir fehlen die Worte!!! Fantastische Arbeit!!!

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    1. Thank you Joanna! Or maybe, Danke Schon!

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  15. Dear Marsha,

    I´m speecless.
    Your work is absolutely stunning.
    The design and the colour... phantastic.

    best regards
    zuzzl

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    1. Thanks Zuzzl. I appreciate your reading my blog and supportive comments!

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  16. I realy love this piece Marsha! And the name... It is all so beautiful and magic... in many ways.

    Hug!

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  17. Wow Marsha, this piece is amazing to look at, but to see the thinking behind every element is like having a window into your brain:)))Everything you tried for the hanging kelp would have been beautiful, but your final choice is more then that: just perfectly balanced and ethereal.

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    1. Oh my... window on my brain! I guess you are right! Thanks for your generous comments!

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  18. Amazing OOAK creation. Love the Colors, Love the design ....Just love it!!!

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  19. Beautiful, Marsha! As usual. :)
    Hugs,
    Chris :D

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    1. Thank you Chris. I love your constantly smiling commentary. You are always Chris "D" to me in more ways than one!

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  20. Un trabajo impresionante y unos colores preciosos!!!!
    Saludos!!!!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  21. It's really amazing.
    At first time I saw it one and half year ago and thought: Wow, ist the most beautiful necklace I've ever seen!
    Today I found it again and think: It's much more beautiful as in my memory!
    Meine Bewunderung!
    Heidi

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    1. Heidi, thank you to much! You are very kind.

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  22. Wahouuuu, c'est vraiment très très beau !
    maryy

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