Friday, May 9, 2014

Are you Challenged??

Every once in a while my bead work seems to hit a standstill, or a beading plateau, if you will. I'm sure that happens to most of us at one time or another. Recently, I started to  wonder what new ways I could come up with to challenge myself, and more importantly, I began to question what others do to challenge themselves and take their bead work to new and previously unexplored levels. So I asked my fellow Mavens for their input, and the following post revolves around what they had to say on the subject at hand.
The following are excerpts of their complete answers. The answers were varied, but they seemed to revolve around some universal themes.

I, basically,  posed two questions to them; the first one being:

1) What do you do as an individual to take your bead work to a new level?

Mikki Ferrugiaro: I compete with myself. It's a constant desire to improve and learn. If we don't sit on our laurels and have the view that we are only as good as our latest design then the new levels just happen.

Patrick Duggan: In a nutshell, Experiment, experiment, experiment. I love sitting and playing especially with new beads, new colors.

Heather Kingsley - Heath : Refuel the inspiration. Get excited by a new idea. Make myself use new color combinations. For me, without inspiration the creative batteries go flat. So I take lots of random photo’s, keep a folder of images I’ve found in magazines, visit exhibitions, galleries, museums. 

Check out below how Heather drew inspiration from Architectural Elements and Nature to design her Relic Pendant and Martha's Moth.

Relic Pendant by Heather Kingsley-Heath

Martha's Moth by Heather Kingsley-Heath

Neva Brown: I push my own boundaries.... I explore the techniques I know, and trial techniques I don't. As I cant read tutorials, everything I do is trial error. I combine techniques, and am constantly sourcing inspiration from my surroundings. I don't want to bead like everyone beads, I want to create something that is unique, that will make my future customers appreciate the individuality of the piece.

Christie Prince : Some of the things I do to take my bead work to new levels includes coming up with new ways to use a familiar stitch, like I did in my Chain of Jewels design, where I figured out a way to divide and rejoin strips of herringbone in a way I'd not seen done before.

And, two;
What do you do to challenge yourself when it comes to bead work?

Mikki Ferrugiaro: Ask myself the question "What is possible?"  My latest series "Amusement Park" is a result of that. Each piece is a challenge to engineer. For me it's not about what's pretty, it's about where I can go with the beads, pretty helps of course but it's secondary to what I can make the beads do.

See what happens when Mikki asks "What is possible?". She comes up with designs like the one below, entitled Maypole!

Maypole by Mikki Ferrugiaro

Patrick Duggan: If we have an overseas visitor coming to teach I like to meet them and generally enroll in one of their workshops. Just to see what they teach like and learn from their work.

Heather Kingsley - Heath: A lot of what I do happens without really defining it out loud, so it was interesting to stop and think about how to describe the processes. When I want to up my game, I remind myself to not apply rules. It’s easy to slip into rules and patterns of doing things you have made up for yourself, but consciously stepping away from them makes you think through problems and find solutions in new ways.

Neva Brown: I enter competitions and challenges. 
I always try to better my last creation. 
I am also writing tutorials even though I cant read them.
I sometimes limit what I can use from my stash, to push me to 'get creative'
I sometimes set myself time limits for a piece, that way my muse has to get a move on.

Coralline by Neva Brown

The picture above is entitled, "Coralline" and it was Neva's first entry into the BOTB contest. Here's what Neva had to say about her entry.

 "Named Coralline, the inspiration came from the Octopus  focal and its life in the deep ocean. The focal and the beads really guided me, but I really wanted to show the depth of the ocean with its deep greeny blue hues and tinges of sparkle from the sun shining on the water. The octopus showed me how it would move, and in its movement, create waves and bubbles in the water."

The Second picture is entitled, "Icelandic Swirl" and was created for a challenge called Rock Pools. One of the stipulations for the challenges was that you could use only one color for the piece. Neva chose Turquoise and varying hues of that color.
Here's what she had to say about her creation:
"I really wanted to show how water travels down a waterway, sometimes gently and sometimes swirling, as shown by the two differing ropes. As the water hits some rocks, it stumbles and swirls over more rocks, and caresses the creatures that live on the rocks, before it settles in the pool."

Christie Prince: One of the things I do to challenge myself when it comes to bead work is when I see a piece of costume or fine jewelry that I admire, I try to figure out a way to make the piece from beads and other components.

I love how Cristie  used this Cartier Diamond bracelet to translate to and inspire her design, Just Srewin' Around!

Just Screwin' Around by Cristie Prince

Its only fair that if I am going to ask these questions of my fellow Maven designers that I answer them as well. :)

Question one:
Twyla Harbick: I like to learn new things. In order to accomplish that I sometimes will work a fellow designers tutorial or tackle something that has me feeling a bit intimidated. I've found that almost everyone has a different way of doing things or creating a new approach to the same things and almost always, I learn something I didn't know.

Question Two:
This may sound silly, but I like to pretend  the piece I am working on is something I will be entering into a competition or contest. There seems to be something about that mindset, that for me, brings out my better nature and makes me strive to do the very best work that I can at that moment.

Doing this post proved really insightful for me. While I stated before that the themes in the answers I received seemed to be universal revolving around the use of restrictions or the lack of them,  experimentation, new techniques and learning how to play, everyone seems to have their own unique approach as to how to accomplish those things.... and that's what I found fun and insightful. I love when we all come together and share what works for us as individuals because you just never know how, when or why something you share will touch someone else's life or help them to reach a goal they are striving towards. In that light, I hope you each will post a comment about how you challenge yourself and how you take your beadwork to new levels. :)

Remember.... Bead True to Yourself!

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