Wednesday, September 4, 2013

10 years of Beaded Bangles

I don't know about you, but where I live, there's lots of ruckus going on as college students move into East Lansing getting ready for another year of college at Michigan State University.  I went to the University of Michigan, but I'm sure the hubbub of move-in and welcome week is about the same for the Ann Arbor locals.  And so, every September I am reminded of my college days and what I was doing then, and where I am now because of it.

Around my junior year of college, I had started to integrate my beadwork into pieces in both my Fiber Art Studio and Metals/Jewelry Studio.  Both professors were interested in my beading, which I was only really doing on my own, outside of art classes.

I was concerned about my beading being too much "craft" and not enough "art" (I still don't like the term "craft", but I grin and bear it in lots of situations because the line is so very undefined).  At the time, my beadwork was really more of a "craft" but I always came back to it.  There were certainly stints where I didn't touch my beads (unimaginable these days!), but something always drew me to the meditative detailed work that is involved in Peyote Stitch.  In the Summer of 2013 I decided to push my beading.  I had taken a small step with a little sculpture at one point:

(I apologize for the bad photo, maybe I'll get a better one eventually)

But beyond that I was still beading simple peyote stitch strips of necklaces and bracelets.  I was also still making amulet purses at the time, which is the jewelry form that I had started using graph paper to plan out patterns on.  My amulet purses start as a circle that I then press flat when its done and stitch up the bottom.  Eventually I starting thinking that I could make a bangle the same way I was making the amulet purse, but on a much larger scale, which was intimidating.

(Amulet purse)

And so, the summer after my junior year of college, I was working 3 jobs and decided that in my free time I would push my beadweaving.  I was teaching kinder-campers at the Ann Arbor Art Center summer camp and was inspired by what my students were painting during Australia week.  So I drafted a large bangle pattern that was a 4 pattern repeat bangle. 

It took me all summer to make.  I hadn't read peyote stitch graph paper on such a large scale, so it was easy to get lost, I didn't have a huge stash of delicas since they're expensive, and I ran into problems along the way that I can't even remember what they were now.  And so, I finished my first "Dream Bangle."  I told myself that I'd never be making another one of those again.  Then I showed it to my fiber professor, Sherri Smith, and she told me that I was "getting it."  So, my bangles were born, and they've been a fantastic form with function for me to advance my designs ad ideas.  The Dram Bangle was even accepted into the first international exhibit that I got into too.  So happy 10 years beaded bangles, I have some new things in the works!

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