A Drift of Pearls and Coral Forms
This is the finished cuff. For want of a more inspired name (suggestions are more than welcome!) I've called it A Drift of Pearls and Coral Forms.
The thing that I am most curious about the work of others is the thought process behind a design. I figure if I'm interested in that sort of thing others must be as well, so if I'm wrong and you are not, bear with me while I explain mine...Usually I use pearls as accent beads, a few here and there but recently I went on a bit of a shopping spree when I found some on sale so I was feeling flush and wanted to do something 'en mass' with them. I had one strand called 'pewter'. A lustrous deep grey with a golden sheen and flashes of blue and mauve. I tipped the strand out on my bead mat and played. They arranged themselves in a sinuous, organic drift. Which made me think of the way ocean tides push and pull sand and shell particles into drifts, which lead me to think of macro photos of coral formations I'd seen and noted would be perfect to try with raised bead embroidery. I quickly sketched it out on some white foundation and dove for the beads...
I wanted to keep it monochrome so the colours of the beads didn't compete with the beauty of the pearls. I found some Gold-Lined Black Diamond AB seed beads which were a perfect match for the pearls, added some Swarovski 8mm rivoli in Crystal AB because the purple/blue flash of the AB coating picked up nicely on the colours in the pearls as well as adding light and sparkle to the palette of dark pearls.
ProcessBefore I tried it, I was a little intimidated by raised bead embroidery. So far I've found it quite easy as a novice to get reasonable results. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that it is laborious, if you're looking for something low effort don't try it (or any other form of bead embroidery for that matter!) However, if you get into a good rhythm it can be quite meditative. The trick is to not think about how long its taking. Otherwise it does get frustrating. The upside is that once the padding is down there is no backstitching to do at all.
First you have to create the padding for the beads to sit on. I do this with layers of ordinary felt from the craft shop cut into pads that are sewn down with small stab stitches in ever increasing sizes until they are covered with a final layer, the actual size and shape of the object you are creating. It would be quicker, but you cannot glue the felt layers. Stitching them down creates a nice, smooth domed edge for the beads to seamlessly roll down off. Use as many layers as required to achieve the desired height. Most of the 'corals' in my cuff have only three layers.
That's really all there is to it. It's pretty simple, it just requires patience. I am pleased with how this cuff turned out and hope to revisit the coral forms again in a future work.