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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Electromagnetic Radiance - Summer 2021

This summer’s Toronto Bead Society (TBS) challenge was not your usual pastel palette! Marilyn Parker presented us with a spectacular sunset photo with deep moody color extracted along the lower edge.

The moment I saw it, I remembered vintage glass tiles tiles I bought at the Bead & Button Show fifteen years ago. Stone Mountain Colorado brought many intriguing beady treasures from around the world to the Milwaukee show! I treated myself to these mini works of art, which look like lampwork glass squeezed into tile molds. No two are the same! The obvious thing to do with these tiles was to string them on two stretchy cords! But no, the tiles just sat in a drawer until this challenge!

Lampwoork tile booch 

I pulled out my tiles and laid them on the inspiration photo. Blue and red create purple when mixed and in my mind's eye. The yellow was like the sun! And further mixed by eye, a sunset! This is it!! I’m going to make the tiles work and finally have something I can wear!

How many tiles do I need for a bracelet? What’s left? What can I do with four tiles? Bead embroider a brooch was the only answer. Glad I had a black stiff-stuff base to stitch down the tiles. Because they were facetted and thick, I arranged them diagonally into a cross. Then, stitched down a Czech glass button as a centre focal. For zing I secured a large red pony bead with an orangey charlotte bead at the base of the turquoise glass button. Next, I stitched down two red mini chicklets between my tile cross.

Added the same orange-topped red pony bead to the end of each row. Next, I stitched down a row of warm yellow charlottes around the tile ensemble.

Single matte purple iris pony beads were added to the corners and the ends of each arm of the cross. Since purple is the complimentary color of yellow, my brooch began to visually pop!! I added triangular Miyuki beads around the yellow seed border to add more texture to this heavy brooch. Seed beads seemed too delicate. More IS more!” seemed like the way to go.

Once I folded down the stiff edges, a really neat brooch emerges! Honestly, it was time to stop and finish it up properly. Since I kept referring to it as a brooch, it needed some sort of device to secure it to clothing.

Brooch finish 

Basic brooch pins are tacky and and would ruin my art piece! Naomi’s method of securing a vintage pin requires a larger surface! My friend, Sue Henry, showed our Beading Circle of friends super magnets which function as brooch holders. If it works for her raku brooch, it should be fine for my glass tiles surrounded by beads! Sue gifted one such magnet to me for this project!

Now that I had a clear vision and magnet in hand, I needed to correct some of my creative stitching so that I could have a smooth triangle edge between the large matte beads. In two cases, I needed to add a large red bead sideways between the inner cross arms and outer orange tipped red bead. I found that a seed bead on either side of the matte pony bead finished the brooch corner edge smoothly. In this case, the black background was very forgiving!! I found the black ground drained the vibrancy of  translucent beads I wanted to use in the brooch.

Time to fold in the stiff felt corners and stitch them down. I peeled off the magnet backing and positioned it at the top of my diagonal cross.

Luckily, I had faux leather for finishing projects. I cut a square to the right size. It was necessary to clip the corners of the backing so the curved edges would come out well.

As I was stitching the backing to the front, I was trying to secure the triangle beads so the finish would be smooth. That meant creatively stitching between to catch and through to move forward to the next triangle. The magnet got covered, too!

Yes, but will it work (as a fastener for a brooch)?? The other half of the magnet instantly snapped on top of the inner one. This was good Step One!! We’ll have to test it on clothing!

The nice triangle edge is sleek, an innovative change from the usual seed bead finish!

Stretchy bracelet

Time for the bracelet! Since there were just eight tiles left, I needed to test the size of the beads in between the tiles so they fit my wrist. The mini pressed-glass chicklets are a little bigger that the large seed beads and worked perfectly.

Next, I needed to audition the tiles and place then into a pleasing order. There were three super splotchy works of art and several diagonally steaked ones. What had the best rhythm?

Which stretchy cord do I use? 1mm thick just goes through once. There would be no room for going through to secure cord ends once the bracelet is securely knotted. A finer .05 stretchy cord was better because I could run in the ends in once securely knotted. When I flip the tiles over, you can see the two channels for running the stretchy cord. The red chicklets needed to be auditioned for evenness and size. The object was parallel chicklets between art tiles!

Cut the stretchy cord twice as long as your wrist for easy threading and later reinforcement run. 

Once threaded, tie a double knot by stretching the two ends of the cord.

Repeat same stretched double knot on the other cord. Start weaving the cord back on each side through the back of tile. Tie an overhand knot around the cord and weave through another chicklet and tile.

Keep weaving the cord back on both sides with overhand knots in between. When one side cord was not enough for a full second rotation, I found that I could switch over my longer cord and reinforcement to the other one. The goal was to have two double cords running inside the glass tiles.

My finished pieces are called Electromagnetic Radiance for the vibrancy and acknowledgement a magnet is acting as a brooch.

This was revealed during a Zoom meeting of the Toronto Bead Society on Aug 11th.

This is one of my favourite meetings because it’s fun to see what members come up inspired by the moody colour palette!