11/22/2009

Beading Class - materials, etc.

I waited to start beading my magpie because I was curious to see what Robin used as a stabilizer for her beadwork. I was debating the use of felt, other fabric or an interfacing of some kind.. So the biggest surprise was that Robin uses paper as a stabilizer... It was not just any ordinary paper. It was "Interleaving Paper" which is an archival 100% high cellulose, neutral pH, buffered paper. This paper is used for interleaving of photographs or artwork as well as many other uses. She compared it to the quality of paper used for money...nice and crisp as a new bill but with use, it softens and has almost a cloth-like quality... Our kit had a piece of cotton basted to a piece of this paper. I bought some paper from her but it is available online and at art supply stores.

Robin used John James beading needles (sharps) size 11 and had some insights to share on needles... Completely automated, modern needles are made from coiled wire, the pieces cut into the length of two needles, and points are ground on both ends of the piece. Two eye shapes are then stamped in the center of the piece, the holes are punched out and the needles are separated. The very fact the "eye" is punched through insured that one side of the eye is larger than the other. If you are having trouble threading a needle, try turning the needle around.

Also this punching occasionally leaves microscopic burrs which can cause thread to shred. Shredding thread is usually blamed on the quality of the thread but it may be burrs on the brand of needles... There are actually about 70 processes that wire goes through to transform it into a needle! It's amazing what it takes to create a short, straight, pointy thing with a hole in one end.
She spent time talking about how beads are made but I was especially interested in the beads she uses... In any one piece she has a lot of specialty beads of all shapes and sizes, but the bead size she uses the most and calls her "beloveds" are 15s. And also, of course, I have very few 15s which means I will need more beads....
She had a large display of her pieces on display and we were able to examine it closely... Her work is gorgeous online but when seen "for real" it is amazing. Most of her bead embroidery work is done improvisationally - that is, without a plan and it tells a story. It is the story telling aspect that endears her work to me... You can see some of her pieces at http://beadlust.blogspot.com/ I thought it was interesting that she is now experiementing with showing more of the base materials in her work and the material is often pieced which is heading very near encrusted crazy quilting..
I am so glad I was able to take the class before I started my bead journal project... And all the stars are still in line because the packet of my Project FeederWatch materials came the day before I left and I was able to read about it on the trip...

2 comments:

Lisa said...

sounds like a wonderful class Gerry! Glad you were able to make it safely and didn't have problems with the snow!

I've been thinking about my bead project too and am wondering if you would mind if I use your idea from the beaded fan you did for a round robin with the "thread painting" in the background. I loved that block so much!

Ruth said...

Gerry, thanks so much for the 'nugget' of info about threading the eye of a needle which has been punched out. Another 'aha' moment!
Ruthie

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