The Quest for the Spirit of the Muse

First time entry to beading contest these pieces were called Antique Beauty.
First time entry to beading contest these pieces were called Antique Beauty.

My First Beading Contest

One of my favourite pastimes is to do off loom beading. I have been beading for about 17 years now. I started entering beading contests last year when I entered the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads beading contest. I made a wrist watch and a pendant watch. these pieces were made with an off loom stitch called 3 bead netting done with size 15 seed beads and 2mm round crystals. I made finalist in the contest and I won twenty five dollars and the shipping and handling for sending my piece in for the final judging. I was disappointed but that didn't discourage me from trying again. So I entered again this year.

This is the latest contest entry. An Elegant Evening in Paradise.
This is the latest contest entry. An Elegant Evening in Paradise.

Second Attempt at the Gold

I entered the Fire Mountain beading contest again this year. I thought that my entry last year was not spectacular enough I didn't feel like my design didn't pop enough when they saw the actual piece. So I did something different and made an evening bag. I let my creative spirit flow and I came up with a design for my evening bag. I don't draw out my designs so it makes it easier when I need to change. None of my designs are set in stone until the finished piece is completed. I made the bag in three pieces. I started out in the middle with a two rows of ladder stitch with netting in between. I used the 3mm cubes for the ladders and for the netting stitch I used 3mm fire polished crystals and size 15 seed beads.

Then I made the bottom and the top pieces out of herringbone stitch. The spines of the herringbone stitch were done in size 11 seed beads and the middle was filled in by size 15 seed beads to give the material a more flowing effect.

The closure was a mock gate made of a modified version of the netting stitch. This was made of 5 bead netting using fire polished crystals and size 15 beads topped by 2.5mm bicone crystals. Through the netting I threaded some 2mm rattail and embellished it with a dutch spiral and at the end a pressed glass bead. The handle was made of a modified version of herringbone called twisted herringbone. I made the spines of the herringbone with the size 11 seed beads and used size 15 seed beads in between the spines as I did when I made the body of the purse.

I embellished the body of the purse with netted fringe. I used my favorite as you can guess by now my size 15 seed beads, fire polished crystals, bicone crystals, 3mm Japanese drops and glass dagger beads. At the end of the bag, I made a dutch spiral tail and also placed a pressed glass bead at the end.These embellishments seemed to make the piece dance.

I'm waiting on the results from that contest. I won't hear from them until the end of the month.

The bail and the two faces of the Spirt of the Muse.
The bail and the two faces of the Spirt of the Muse.
Back view
Back view

Use the Muse

I entered anther beading contest that I found while looking on artbeads.com website. This contest is called Use the Muse. I thought that this was a very interesting contest. The sponsor of the contest, Scarlett Lanson who runs the website thebeadersmuse.com, put together a kit which contains the mystery piece and other beads and a piece of silk ribbon which the small containers are tied together with. When you purchase this kit you were automatically entered into the contest if you purchased before the deadline which was June 24, 2009. The date for application submissions is July 18,2009. There's a picture of the kit at the Beader's Muse website.

The rules of this contest are simple. You make a piece of wearable art. You can use as much or as little of the kit and you can add your own beads, findings and etc.from your personal collection . The most important rule is that you must use the Muse in your project and can't reveal it until the end of the contest. I won't be showing the completed piece until the end of the contest.

Since the only thing that she would tell you about the mystery piece was that it was a component that was made by Lillypilly. I was unfamiliar with this bead company so I did some research into the product. I found that Artbeads.com carries these beads and you can see some examples of their beads there.

I felt like this bead contest would really be a challenge because of the short time you had to complete the piece and you only saw a picture of some of what you had to work with. I went artbeads.com website and looked up Lillypilly components to get some idea of what I would be working with. I looked at their product and I couldn't get any ideas for a project. They had so many versions of the product that it was hard to guess which shape she might use. The color of the other beads were a shade of blue, the pearls were white and grey and the crystals were two shades of blue montana blue, sapphire blue with an AB finish and one which was opaque and grey combination. The silk ribbon had shades of blue and purple that swirled through the fabric. This made picking complementary colors easy from my stash, since I had a lot of blue colored beads in different shades.

I had ordered my kit about three weeks before the deadline to order to be entered into the contest. I received an envelope about a week later. I looked at the envelope and figured that a bead kit couldn't fit in that. I opened and took out a box which was smaller than the envelope. When I opened the box it contained the mystery piece, seven small containers filled with seed beads, pearls and crystals. The seven containers were tied with a silk ribbon. it was such a small amount I understood why Scarlett encouraged the contestants to use materials they already had in combination with the kit.

I looked at the materials provided for a week trying to figure out what could I create in such a short amount of time which would wow the judges. I went back to Scarlett's website and looked at what was done in the first Use the Muse contest. The pieces which were picked to be the finalists were made of mixed media. I took the Muse in my hand and studied it and meditated on what could I do to build a piece of wearable art using this component. Then it came to me, I'd do seed bead and polymer clay combination and name it the Spirit of the Muse.

I made two face beads by using polymer clay and a push mold. I wanted a marbled pattern for the face beads. I made a multi color and a gold and translucent one. I made the multi color face bead with four kinds of polymer clay, blue, translucent, red and gold clay. I mixed the red and the blue clay to make purple. After that I made a canes of the purple, gold and translucent clays and braided the canes so when it was rolled into a ball it would have a marbled effect when pressed into the mold. I repeated the process with the gold and the translucent clays to make the other face bead.

Each face bead is beaded in the complementary colors of the Muse and the other beads which are in the kit. In the photo above are pictured the main pieces which excludes the Muse, I beaded around each piece using the brick stitch and size 11 seed beads, I used shades of blue and purple beads around the multi colored face bead and shades of light blue around the the gold and translucent one. Each face bead is also backed by a circular brick stitch beaded backing in the same colors as the front of the bead. The bail which the silk ribbon is threaded through was made by using the dutch spiral technique using the ivory pearls, opaque crystals, montana blue crystals and size 15 blue seed beads.

I am not going to describe here how I plan to put it all together, I'll wait until the final judging is done to show the completed piece. Until then you will have to wonder about the Spirit of the Muse.

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