Monday, March 16, 2009

Embellishing Queens & Mermaids

I belong to a group called The Embellishing Queens. There are 7 of us and we meet every two months to work on projects and take the occasional class. It's a good balance between challenging yourself to do something but not so stressy that you don't want to come if you haven't got your project done!
Last weekend we had Wilma Simmons come and teach us her bead embroidered mermaids using Patti Culea's face stamps. Such a great time - Wilma is an extremely organised teacher - she had little supply kits (you know - all the things you think "oh no I forgot to bring my....." were in there) as well as beautifully printed out patterns and instructions. Wilma's beading is absolutely fantastic - she lays down the beads, back stitches and couches - so if you ever buy something from her you are pretty much guaranteed that the beads aren't going anywhere! She also has a great eye for colour mixing - always an art in itself!
Here are some close ups of the body and tail of the mermaid on the bag - although the predominant colours are blue and green - there's alot more going on here - notice the silver on the bodice and the bronze outline in the scallops on the tail?
The pattern(s) Wilma gave us included a necklace, the handbag and a mermaid "art doll" shape. So many possibilities. Here are some shots of the necklace version. This one has one flat beaded side (the right) and a freeform twisted chain on the other. The pattern has the shape for flat on both sides - but as this is a demo piece it's good to see that you could go either way. The other thing I noticed on the necklace was that Wilma had used darker blue and mostly matte beads for the necklace part - leaving all the shiny bling colours on the mermaid. It would be too much if the whole thing was shiny.
Wilma had developed up these pieces as part of a challenge to use polymer clay in a different way. We rolled out our Super Sculpey and stamped the faces onto it. Some cutting and shaping ensued - some stamps needed to have shoulders added in or parts masked and Wilma showed us how to do this. I decided I hadn't had enough caffeine so used stamps that didn't need to be masked. The stamp on the left is by Patti Culea and is Audine. I borrowed it from Carole who was kind enough to lend it to me (apparently she bought it at this fabulous place called Idyll Pleasures...) the other stamp was one that Wilma had which was a lovely old fashioned face. I guess if you are going to make and sell these things you need to check the reproduction rights for the stamps - I know Patti is ok with making things to sell with her stamps (always acknowledge on the swing tag people!)
You'll notice we pierced holes with a T-pin all over the polymer - this was to allow for the beading later. You could just as easily stamp onto fabric and create a piece too.
We traced the patterns onto interfacing and ironed that onto some thin pellon. The polymer clay forms were glued on with E6000 glue (watch those toxic fumes!)

Here are a few pieces that Wilma had started to bead - she taught us how to make frothy fern fringe as well as the seaweed fringe. All the frothy beading etc. helps to fill in the raised edge between the polymer clay and the fabric.
Wilma pointed out that as it was an embroidery piece we could also utilise things such as silk ribbon and novelty yarns etc. in our pieces.
I am a definite mermaid aficionado - so I was very happy! Lots of beading to still do - but so many possibilities!
Apart from all the mermaid love, Wilma also brought some of her other pieces to show us. She is also a mad keen felter - these photos don't really do justice to the depth of colour and complexity of the felted pieces - photos always seem to flatten the colours out. I love the combo of beads and felt - happy sigh!
This doll's face is beaded using the same techniques we learned in the workshop. The pattern for it is by Annie Hesse and can be found in Patti Culea's 4th book on Cloth Doll Beading.
The piece below was also amazing - the warrior on horse back is a simple shape - Wilma added the man's face and horse's head separately, along with the arms and legs. The beading was exquisite in all white shades.
Apart from the workshop we also had show and tell. Some time ago I posed the thought of doing something with a birdcage (of course I've done nothing with mine but there you go...) Anyhoo.... Janine found this beauty at Bay Swiss and furnished it all with doll's furniture as a boutique seamstress's shop. Don't I have great ideas?

2 comments:

Linda Misa said...

Thanks for the inspiring pics and the good humor you write with!

Wilma said...

Thanks for the write-up. I really enjoyed the day working with such talented and creative women. I thought I would not need the samples anymore, so they are now for sale in my ETSY shop for ridiculously low prices. Love to see your mermaids when you're finished, Megan. Happy beading.