I have long been fascinated by the idea of end-of-day beads.
"End of day" glass was any item made by the glassworkers in their own time at the end of the day using up the remaining molten glass in the pots. It therefore tended to be a mixture of all sorts of colours."
I love the idea of these serendipitous items - of inviting chance to take an active role in one's designs. Accidental beauty. I also like the idea of a quiet ritual; taking time at the end of the day to create something a little different - not without direction exactly, but with certain choices already made for you. And of course, at the core is an ethos of economy - making use of the scraps that your day's work has produced. Economical and practical as well as artistic. Upcycling has been around for longer than we imagine!
Since starting to make my own handwoven beads, the idea of end-of-day beads has been on my mind. It's safe to say that I am NOT a tidy worker. Or a tidy anything for that matter! I
often always end up with a colourful pile of mixed seed beads - different colours, finishes and even sizes - when I've been stitching with beads. Not only messy, but also not the most economical way to work. I have little piles on pretty much every surface that I ever work on.
So the other day, I decided to put the end-of-day idea into practice. I have a regular bead soup going on my current most-used bead tray, and the idea of sorting and separating all the different colours and finishes really didn't appeal...so, taking a little time to create for its own sake, I made a pair of beads with my end-of-day soup.
I am really quite pleased with how these turned out. Of course, whilst it would be a lovely idea that whatever was created in this manner would turn out to be full of beauty, the truth is that they very easily could turn out to be very ugly and unusable! But these handwoven beads, created from days' worth of left-overs, are like tiny, handmade carnivals. Maybe it's because the beads are so small and the stitches so regular, but the colours work together, creating the right atmosphere, somehow.
These stunning handmade beads from Donna Millard are examples of how a contemporary lampwork artist has interpreted this old glass--working tradition
...and some more traditional end-of-day beads, from Big Bead Little Bead:
What do you think of this glass-working tradition? Does it appeal to you?