Saturday, 6 February 2016

Night Flight

I count myself extremely lucky that, as a bead and found-object jewellery artist (yes, that fair trips off the tongue, doesn't it?) I get to work with some truly amazing, well, beads and found-objects. Lucky is perhaps not quite the right word, as of course, no one forced me to design and make this particular type of jewellery, nor indeed any kind of jewellery - but it somehow feels like in incredible part of my work that I get to handle miniature objects of art every time I sit down to create, whether I'm working with my own handwoven {song}beads or handmade elements from bead artists across the world - from the Isle of Skye to the Isle of Wight, from Bulgaria to Canada to Australia and back to Edinburgh. My bead collection (most of which will at some point fulfil its beady destiny and become part of a piece of jewellery, I promise) reads like a carefully curated world tour - a tour which, as you would expect, is full of colour, character(s) and contrast. 

More than that, each bead I work with (or have plans to work with...) is a touchstone -  imbued with a talisman-like quality. Something about their solid, tactile, textural nature means that each bead seems to me heavy with symbolism, simply from the fact of it being a bead. Beads are such a rich part of our social and cultural heritage - throughout time they have not merely been worn, but used as currency, for ceremonial purposes; for intimate, personal prayer, and of course, for adornment and decoration on all sorts of occasions - from an everyday trip to the market, to the highest of weddings. I am always aware of this when I hold even the humblest of beads - they contain echoes of times gone by, as well as the potential for future purpose. Something about that juxtaposition of times within them means they are always in flux - their journey is not complete at the point I receive them; they are dying to burst out and become something more than themselves. 

There are some beads, one could argue, that are complete just as they are - they are so intricately and beautifully made that all they need to do is sit and be admired. I have two printers drawers on my bedroom wall, containing not a few astounding beads, ones which particularly resonate with me, or just knock me out with their sheer awesomeness, but even so, the decision for them to be a bead rather than a hole-less object....that makes them different. Special. Destined to be more than themselves. 

And of course, that's what happened to the beads in the bracelet below - they outgrew themselves, and (hopefully) became more than the sum of their parts. 


Night Flight contains elements from so many of my favourite bead artists. A hand-cast pewter clasp from the Asheville Hills in North Carolina, a tiny ceramic heart from Devon, a handmade lampwork glass ran from Renfrewshire and an adorable, hand-carved owl from Wisconsin. I've added hand-cut iolite, wooden rounds and tiny glass seed beads to this bracelet, picking up the colours from the tab (reminiscent of the Northern Lights anyone?), creating a twilit scene in violets, teals and indigos. The wood and unglazed terracotta of the heart are like touchstone to the woods that are the owl's home. But they are second to the inky skies in which she's swooping and soaring within. 

Fanciful? Maybe. Perhaps you just like the colours, or have a thing for owls (who doesn't?). The story is there for you if you want it. Or tell your own tale - it's entirely up to you as the wearer. But this bracelet is more than just a collection of pretty beads - it's a carefully curated narrative of colour and character, just like the rest of my bead collection. 

3 comments:

Mary Detray said...

Love this blog post! Thank You for the sweet thoughts this morning· I too am a lover of beads, lol, aren't we all, and I admire this sweet bracelet and the story it carries. You are truly a poet in your craft love, your passion has inspired me today as I sit down at my workbench, to create a piece with its own story! <3

Ann Schroeder said...

I love the thought that because a bead is made with a hole rather than without that it is destined to be combined with other things. I sometimes find that hard because I do see so much beauty in the bead alone. But this has been a great post for me to contemplate. Thanks!

Julie Wong Sontag said...

I loooooove this post. So much meaning and depth in handmade... I totally agree. Xo

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