Monday, November 23, 2009

Not bees, beads!

(title courtesy of Arrested Development)

Anyway, this post is, in fact, NOT about bees but instead about beads! Specifically, some of the odd things that I have made from them!

I don't know when or why I had the inspiration, but sometime in the mid 1990's, I started gluing seed beads to things. I made a lot of things and who knows what still exists and what is on a thrift store clearance table by now... I didn't photograph everything back then, but I do have pictures of a few things (even though most are crummy pictures).

I'd usually start with thick watercolor paper, because it warped the least, and trace a light pencil outline of my design and then I'd fill in a tiny section with tacky glue and hand-place seed beads "face up" (what I call it when the hole is facing up) onto the glue, one by one. Tedious? Yes! But it is a lot of fun too.

My former boss collects Alice in Wonderland stuff and she commissioned me to make her an Alice piece, which I did. It's on 8x10 watercolor paper and I have a few progress shots to go with it.

Alice in process

detail of the face, work-in-progress:

Alice's face

Final product:

Alice complete

One of my first "internet crushes" was/is Sara who had a fantastic sewing and crafting site (which is now defunct, but all her creativity can still be found on her new site). She had started a new job at "Saint Flanders Church" as she called it, and needed some holy artwork for her new desk. This was right about the time that Maude Flanders died on the Simpsons, so I beaded up a version of Maude for her.

Maude Flanders

This is a TERRIBLE picture, but I also made some of these beaded trinket boxes for my fellow Tinker Bell collector pals, who were the first ones that drew me to the internet (for which I thank them).


I even attempted a beaded tank top. I used my true love, Henry Rollins, as an inspiration. The beading turned out ok, but tacky glue isn't meant for laundering, so I have only worn this shirt once and never washed it. I've recently invested in some glue that is intended for gluing things on cloth, so I'm going to try my hand at something like this again soon.

Henry Rollins tank


Henry Rollins tank - detail

The one piece that I know remains is a Harley Quinn image that I made in 1999. My mom has it and it's been hanging in her office for the past 10 years. I made this before this whole "internet" thing really came on strong and back in those days when someone had a funny image or joke to send around, they'd blast it via fax machine. My stepdad was remodeling a Kinko's at the time and had to work in the wee hours of the night and he was always amused by the tons of funny drawings that the employees would send one another. This was part of a series of "manga" style comic book characters in risque poses. The others were X-rated, but this Harley Quinn was relavtively "cheesecake." She is nude, except her mask, gloves, and some tall socks. Her breasts are exposed, but they're not as "in your face" in the beaded version. She is covered all over in Batman tattoos, including the Bat Signal, the Batmobile (right butt cheek), and Batman himself (right thigh).

This is also an 8x10 that has been in a frame for 10 years, so it's held up really well. I recently took it out to scan it, but wasn't able to get a high-res scan of it -- although I probably should, just for posterity.

Harley Quinn

detail: My challenge with the 'flesh' colored beads was that the package that I had was a mixed assortment that had some standard seed beads as well as some longer ones and I had to use them both to get enough coverage, so this particular image doesn't have the same solid "top-up" look as some of my other pieces do. I also used to work in poor light (shame!) and I realize now that some of the black beads are actually navy blue - oops! I used to have a giant Tupperware container full of mixed seed beads that someone gave me, so I'd be picking out several of the same color as I went along... which, clearly, lead to a few mistakes along the way.

I've always particularly liked the building with the single beads representing windows. I don't know why that strikes me as "neat-o" but it does.

Harley Quinn detail

Maybe sometime during the 'downtime' of the holidays, I might start a new beading project -- any suggestions?

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Interested in owning a piece like this?
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1 comment:

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