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Friday, July 10, 2020

Beaded Square Project: "Divine Liturgy Online"

As I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, a call for submissions popped up from the Museum of Beadwork in Portland, Maine. First time I'm hearing about this one... I've visited the Bead Museum in Washington, DC back in 1990s, then the one in Glendale, AZ in 2000. Even donated a set of my Beadwork Lesson books to both libraries. Both of these museums are no more, but someone else is trying again! 

The Museum of Beadwork is a new collaborative effort with Caravan Beads who have been around since 1991. The Museum "is mounting a new community project which grows out of a desire to commune on a joint project while safely sheltering; marking this very particular time we are going through together, apart. The end result, which will be exhibited at the Museum of Beadwork, will be a bead based ‘quilt’ visualizing the individual and communal experience of this distinct moment in history." 

They asked for a 6" (25x25cm.) square of beadwork, no matter what style, technique or experience covering more than 50% of the surface. It should be mounted on a strong supporting material to facilitate hanging in the 'quilt' installation. This is where a spare shelf from an Ikea CD/video storage unit came in handy. 

I must support the Museum by participating in the new Beaded Square Project! What can I contribute?? How have I been affected? As everything was totally shut down, so were the churches, places of worship. It was a huge shock, but somehow through online Liturgies, Lenten and Easter services, we persevered.

Finished piece in front of my parish, St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church, Toronto

Once I knew that I was going to create a square about the closure of the churches it was time to find inspiration in my collection of beads and beaded objects. 

The wooden bracelet tiles would help to create the interior of a Byzantine church. They would serve as my icons, windows to heaven. They were perfect for creating an iconostasis, the screen which separates the sanctuary from the main part of the church. Closed Royal Doors with a few icons each are the focal point. Services begin when they open, so the camera off to the side is ready to video record the service. Bugles could serves as pews and a few people distanced apart could be added for when the churches opened slowly for a small congregation spaced far apart. 

Icon bracelet will serve a higher purpose

My previous sewing experience came in real handy! I used a royal-coloured felt square for my base. Fortunately, I had a large double-side backing paper handy. Once it was cut to 6" x6" size, I adhered it to the back of my felt leaving wider margins for the final finish later. I basted around the adhered backing to be able to know my boundaries when working on the front of the square.

Basting guidelines

Couching beadwoven netting to the felt

Bead embroidery is daunting! I rummaged through my bead woven samples to see if I had something to fill in the background of my iconostasis between the icons. I was thrilled to find a 8/ gold and navy iris 'Netting with an X' sample which would be perfect to couch down along the top of my square. This set the heavenly tone. 

Another great find was my 'Picot with an X' necklace. If I cut it apart in 3-swag segments it could fill in the left of the Royal Doors, while 6-swag pieces were perfect for the right. This involved adding thread to properly secure the edges of each segment so I could move them freeing without pulling apart.

Cutting old beadwoven necklace into useable lengths

Working on the layout

For the frame of the Royal Doors, I used the Ndebele stitch to bead weave two pairs of herringbone stitches in a length to the top of the icons. Here I split and beaded on one pair at the time long enough to go down the other side of door panel. Repeated this for the other door panel.

To combine the wooden icon tiles into cohesive units, I added an 'O' bead at each hole opening. I use a large silver-lined gold crow bead between the four and two icons. I used a little coral 10/ seed bead as a turn around at the very end of the icon clusters. I used the same end trim for individual icons set into the royal doors on the Ndebele gold door frame was stitched down.

Work in progress with my layout image to guide me

For a better idea of how the square will look, we cut out a 6' window in a sheet of paper. As I overlaid it, I took several photos of my beadwork as I was working. My husband downloaded one and drew out my key elements from my sketch in Photoshop. Since this was a more realistic scene. I wanted to have perspective to draw the viewer's eye in. 

This print was handy for making tailor tacks to mark the positioning of the pews, side tetrapod table, camera. This too was from sewing world when I used to tailor tack marking on patterns for making darts in my clothes.

Beadweaving a cross for the design

I needed to bead weave additional picot swags to fill the spot between the rows of icons and above the Royal doors.

It took three tries to bead a miniature Byzantine cross. I used Right Angle Weave, but found the challenge was how to give it definition. Weaving in microscopic navy iris cylindrical beads at the corners of each cross arm did the trick. I then attached my cross to the top two beads of the door frame in front of the patterned background.

To create the tetrapod, a small table off to the side, I found some chicklet pressed glass beads from retired bracelet and twig necklace kits. I ladder stitched 10mm two-tone silver lined chicklets for the base. Then I stitched together 5mm pearlized ivory chicklets for the folded over cloth. For the tablecloth, I horizontally stitched down longer chicklets going back to pearlized bugles to try to suggest depth. 

I added a crucifix I used to wear as a teenager. In my view, having it as part of my beaded square for the Museum installation, it's gone to a good home.

Signed and ready to be attached to a board

I embroidered my initials in the lower right corner to sign my little beaded work of art. After double, triple checking, it was time to wrap the beaded felt around the sawed down board. 

Test fit

We added double-sided tape along the top edges to anchor the embroidery. Once we turned it around, we added double-sided tape along the back edges to hold in place while I mitered the corners and trim away excess fabric. Again, I had the perfect royal blue thread for stitching down the corners.

Securing to the board

Once I stitched it all together, I went to show my completed square to Rt. Rev John Tataryn, pastor of St. Demetrius the Great Martyr Ukraine Catholic Church. Father marveled at all those tiny beads and the time and eyes it took to created the square. He suggested to call it "Divine Liturgy Online".

Finished and ready for shipping

Here is my statement that I included with my Beaded Square:
When the pandemic hit, the closure of churches was devastating. Luckily, many churches were able to adapt to streaming religious services, so we, the parishioners, could keep our faith alive in our own Domestic Church.

Be creative and stay safe,