The Bead Challenge

My favorite bead store was having a Winter Bead Challenge inspired by the color blue. "An expectant, optimistic blue," they said.

Now, I'm a newbie beader. I've taken a couple of classes at the store for the fun of it and I've messed around with beads on my own. I've made myself some earrings and bracelets. Some fell apart but a few actually lived. I've had some success making my unique little beaded bookmarks that everyone seems to like. I was ready for a challenge! So (since ignorance is bliss) I decided to enter.

The process was simple: Buy your kit, recieve your entry number, design your piece and submit it to the store by the deadline date. All the kits were identical. You had to use at least half of the beads in the kit. Additional beads and findings could be used if purchased at that store. "The challenge piece must be original art designed and created by the entrant. Designs from books, magazines, etc. will be eliminated," stated the rules.

So I jumped in with both feet thinking, "This is going to be great fun!"

Here's the kit:

Hmmmm..... OK, I understand the sparkle beads and the blue beads and the ones that look like ice, but what's that round thing? And how do you attach it to beads?  What in the heck are those squiggly things? I've never even seen those in the store! Oh boy...

But it takes more than round and squiggly things to intimidate me. After all, I've raised two boys and have lived to tell about it. I can do anything! (I hear Helen Reddy singing in my head.)

I began to think. And think. The idea of a fairy theme came to mind and I decided to run with it. I had no idea about fairies, really, so I asked a gardening friend of mine (Mimi) where fairies go in the winter. She spun a whimsical tale about fairies and I was mesmerized. Since garden fairies scatter hither and yon by various means for the winter, who brings us this winter wonderland? There must be an Ice Fairy.

 I started to make her come alive:

Mostly I was making a mess. I wasn't happy with the way I had attached the silver ring:

That just wasn't going to work.  (And I had to stop spilling my can of carbonated water on my work mat!) There was only one thing to do about it. I made another trip to the bead store for more supplies...

...and got back to work.

After way...too...much...agonizing, stringing...and restringing, this is what I created:

Close-up of my lady, the Ice Fairy:

On the entry form there was a place to describe the inspiration for your piece. The following is my submission:

"I was thinking about where fairies go in the winter. I've heard that some hitch a ride on the wings of butterflies enroute to milder climates. I suppose others are snug in warm burrows with those cowardly groundhogs. So I figured there must be an Ice Fairy. I can see evidence of her handiwork everywhere. We have all certainly felt and (some) have even enjoyed her presence.
This necklace is my tribute to the Ice Fairy. There she is, in her silver circle of chill with icicles hanging down. See what she did? She threw ice all over the crystal blue sky! She's done her job and done it well, as females will do. But who's going to tell her the party's over and it's time for her to go home?"

The necklace and entry form were handed in on time.

I waited a couple of days then went back to the bead store to see the display of entries. Oh!...My!...Goodness! They were gorgeous! Some were beaded in fancy stitches, some had cleverly twisted strands of beads, all were complicated and intricate. They were stunning! Suddenly I realized I didn't stand much of a chance in this contest.

Customers of the store are allowed to vote (one time only) for their favorite entry. There were two entries that I thought were the most exquisite work I had ever seen. (No, one was not the Ice Fairy!) I just couldn't decide between those two most beautiful pieces. I himmed and hawed. Finally, to make a decision and break the tie in my head, I voted for the Ice Fairy and walked out the door.


Anonymous said...

Not only have you spun a lovely necklace from a pile of beads, you've spun a wonderful tale about your adventure! I'm glad you voted for the ice fairy. Good luck!

Julie said...

I think she is beautiful and you deserved your vote.

JoLyn said...

I think it's beautiful--and I love your story about your vote! I've tried making jewelry. It's not for the faint of heart that is for sure. Great job!

Anonymous said...

I love the Ice Fairy. I think she deserves many votes. The valentines are special also. I know they were made with lots of love.

marsha said...

I am so impressed! Some day when I retire, I may try this also... (when it's raining and I can't be on the golf course)

Carol Short said...

Keep up the good work.

Nana said...

Thank you Julie, JoLyn, Marsha, Carol and Anonymous for all your comments and encouragement.
I appreciate it very much when you leave your thoughts.

AngieHandmade said...

It's so fun to read about your process because it's similar to ones I've spiraled through zillions of times. I'm always trying new crafts, and rarely following directions :), so the result is that I often don't know what I'm doing. But that's what I love. And I think that sometimes you can come up with great ideas when you don't know what you are "supposed" to do. I love the "squiggles" in the necklace. Did you ever find out how they are usually used? I'm just curious because I've never seen them before either and was wondering if you came up with a new invention for them. :)