For the love of Art Beads

Having a deep love of lampwork beads unfortunately does not mean I can create them.  Because it would cost a small fortune for me to be able to make them (buying the equipment, renting the workspace, buying the materials, taking classes, etc.) I can console myself that were I to win the lottery, I would make fabulous beads.  Of course, this is patently untrue because no way could I make this bead by Kerribeads (

Still, a girl can lie to herself if she wants to. Which leads me to how my love of art beads, translated into my own artistic journey this week.

With this keen love of handmade beads, I subscribe to Art Bead Scene’s blog.  They link artists that make lovely beads with the people who love them and use them in jewelry.  To this end, they have a monthly challenge that allows their followers to make a piece of jewelry using art beads, based on a particular piece of art they have chosen.  The May 2011 challenge is based on Berthe Morisot‘s painting “Cache-Cache” (Hide-and-seek) painted in 1873.

For you trivia buffs, I was curious as to what type of tree this was so I asked my local reference librarian to help me find out. This painting was exhibited in Paris and New York in 1874 and the reviewer (Philippe Burty, La Republique Francaise, 25 April 1874)  said this was a cherry tree. This doesn’t look like cherry blossoms to me, but what do I know? I was trying to determine what color the flowers are.

Do I think that Kerribead above is worth the price? Absolutely!  Can I afford a bead that’s $145 right now.  No! So, my original idea was to make my own bead settings out of polymer clay and then make polymer clay cabochons  to go on top. Morisot’s style is based on a series of lines rather than dots.  Even in the faces of Morisot’s subjects, you will see bold paint strokes in a series of lines.  This got me to thinking about making beads with lines using the colors in the painting.  Being the brass lover I am, I knew I would have some appropriate charms.  I wanted to use as many handmade beads as possible in the piece, even if they were not one of a kind art bead pieces.  I do usually sketch out a piece once I get an idea. This may or may not end up looking anything like my final piece and in this case, it doesn’t.

I have no idea why I chose to make a bracelet.  I rarely make them.  Still, the point of the exercise was to make myself grow as an artist, try new techniques, have fun, and see how the painting would translate through my head.

The beads ended up looking Mod to me.  I think the brass bow, child’s hat, umbrella and flower bead cap add elements that remind one of the time period.  The color in the beads tie into the painting, although I possibly used to much red since the flowers in the tree are only a very small part of the painting so maybe more green would have been better.  I do love the polymer bead being the clasp for the toggle. I am not a bead artisan and I am fiscally challenged, so this is just an experiment that helps me appreciate how skilled one has to be to make art beads and why handmade beads cost what they do. Totally worth it!  Now I just need to win the lottery…

If you want to see the real entries into the ABS May Challenge, you can view them at Art Bead Scene on Flickr.


About windbent

I try to reclaim, reuse and re-love items from our past and make them modern again. I see my jewelry as a fusion of old and new, cross cultural, and spanning time periods. Because I use vintage items within my jewelry, there may be age related signs of love that make them special. Each piece will be unique or made in small batches that are similar, but still different. If I find an item I love and it doesn't want to become jewelry, I give it a new home in another art format.
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