Monday, June 28, 2010

Violet Charm: rediscovering bead embroidery

I returned from the Innovative Beads Expo yesterday with some delightful spoils. I purchased some of my usual favorites including freshwater pearls and turquoise but also some other lovelies including a number of very rustic, tribal-inspired clay and glass beads. This combined with my recent order from Fancy Linda of some vintage buttons and cabochons, etc. has inspired an almost frenzied desire to craft in me. Mind you, I've already been in a near constant state of blissful i-want-to-make-things-iness but this is just fuel to the fire. If only I didn't require money and sleep then I could actually heed all of my callings to make new things!

I also stocked up on Nymo bead thread and beading needles since I've recently rediscovered bead embroidery and find the hand-sewing strangely satisfying and meditative. I blame my renewed interest in bead embroidery on a bellydance belt I've been working on which involves a ton of hand-sewn beads, crystals, sequins, pearls and genuine tribal goodies like Turkman buttons and medallions. I've had to put that project aside in lieu of working on pieces for the upcoming craft show but I've still had the bizarre desire to painstakingly sew individual beads and baubles into interesting patterns. Bead embroidery does make for great late night crafting projects in comparison to some of my other hobbies since it doesn't require much noise (unless you happen to spill a whole vial of seed beads in the carpet...) versus the constant hammering in leather carving and working with sterling silver. I've started on a series of small, embroidered brooches/fascinators to satiate my sewing compulsion (although I did end up making a pair of earrings too).

In Tribal Bellydance it is common to cultivate a headdress out of a hodgepodge of various elements old and new into an intricate topiary. These headdresses can grow and change over time as dancers rearrange elements, plant new ones, and weed out others. Much care often goes into the arrangement of these temporary pieces and in fact, I have heard them referred to as hair gardens on more than once occasion and I don't believe this is just because fake flowers feature strongly in their compositions. The best Tribal hair gardens are like beautifully designed landscapes with well-placed architectural features and lovely views at every angle. I wanted to create pieces which would be perfectly suitable as compliments of complex hair gardens or as striking focals in more minimal arrangements, but also be elegant enough to wear for other occasions or potentially even on an everyday basis. I'm also adding both pins and alligator clips to the reverse sides so that they can be secured to clothing or hair.

The first in this series that I've completed is primarily in shades of purple, plum, and eggplant and is appropriately titled Violet Charm. Purple was once one of my favorite colors and I accumulated a nice little stash of beads in these hues a few years ago which I didn't want to let go to waste. The embroidery was done on black suede and it is backed in black eco-felt made from recycled plastic bottles. The centerpiece of this brooch/hair-clip is a faceted, glass jewel which is set in a peyote stitch bezel surrounded by glass beads, freshwater pearls, and swarovski crystals. I also added a ruffle I made from some metallic trim and draped two swags of beads across its surface. I think it looks like it could be a badge of glamour. While Cabaret style bellydancers don't tend to have such complex hair adornments as their Tribal cousins (they tend to have their hair down when performing and may only wear a headband or crown) this brooch/fascinator really seems to call for a Cabaret treatment with all its glisten and sparkle. The photos really cannot do it justice. I hope someone who currently adores this color scheme will give it a good home.
The next brooch/fascinator (broochinator? fascinooch?) I'm making is definitely geared towards the Tribal end of the spectrum with a nod towards the more vintage/Victorian/steampunk aesthetic that I love. It will feature warm, brassy metal, more ruffly goodness, velvety ribbon, and pearls. Yay!


  1. Beautiful, beautiful arts. What great variety! I'll bookmark this blog.
    Best wishes,

  2. Very beautiful! Thank you for giving me so many much ideas! ^^


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