Saturday, 2 May 2015

Experiments in beading texture - one

Although I like the beading I've done so far, I still haven't managed to recreate the extraordinary textures that Nancy Smeltzer manages to create in her bead quilts. As an experiment I decided to study two small sections of her quilts and use them as inspiration for lessons in textures. The aim was not to copy them, but to use them as guidance. The first one I chose was a section of Japanese Irises. The section I chose is here:

This is probably only a few inches wide and I've made mine bigger - about five inches by four. I also went for completely different colours because the point was to look at the texture. Here's what I made:

I've followed the basic shape and tried to build up the texture by adding beads over beads and letting some of the stitches sit proud of the fabric by having more beads on the thread than the length of the thread so it bows up a bit. There's a close up of the corner here.

Although this still doesn't look like a Nancy Smeltzer, I did learn a lot in the process. For example:
1) I tend to use one type of bead at a time and Nancy mixes different beads in the same pass. I didn't mix the beads enough in this piece,
2) The background material matters. When I originally looked at Nancy's quilts it seemed to me that she spent a lot of time sewing on different materials when they were mostly covered with beads and you could hardly see them at the end. However, I realised that with a white background like the piece I used I felt I had to cover every square millimetre when sometimes spaces would have looked more effective.
3) There is no limit to the different shape, size and texture of the beads you can use and sometimes a bit of contrast works wonders.

With all that in mind, I am now working on a second texture piece.

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