The February challenge piece is an illustration from 1913 by Edward Julius Detmold, “Amapolus”. The colors are not really my normal palette and the delicate precision of the illustration felt a bit intimidating at first, I have to admit. My work is organic, but not in the precise, lovely way that Detmold’s work is!
I did enjoy working with the different coral and red striped canes that I tried for the leaves, but I couldn’t master the tiny tendrils of the seeds the way I wanted to and still be confident that they would stand up to any kind of wear. I ended up with a pin and a large focal pendant bead that caught some of the delicacy of the poppy leaves in a way I liked, but I wasn’t quite as confident that I was capturing the essence as well as I was able to with Hundertwasser last month.
As I tried several ideas out, I found that I moved more and more toward the concepts of the wind tossing the beauty of spring about as the start of a new year of growth and the great joy that is the world’s annual rebirth. In retrospect, that makes sense as I morphed the inspiration into something that was my vision rather than a reproduction of his illustration as beads and jewelry. These challenges certainly do prod me to deeper understanding of my process and style!
The earrings I tried next left the pale colors behind, in part because my most vivid memory of poppies is of a large swath of them on the bank of the California coastal highway, and they were anything but pastel! I wanted to capture the feeling of emergent possibility and motion, so these earrings have buds with small pendants that swings at the slightest movement and swirls of wire to represent the blustery breezes of March.
The other pair of earrings that I made were another abstraction, focusing more on the movement and using copper in place of the delicate stalks bearing seeds. I like how they came out, but didn’t think they fit the style quite as well as the buds.
The last necklace emerged from my relatively new cleanup practice of using up the leftover canes and bits to make art beads that don’t have a dedicated purpose yet. I use this both to clear my work bench to give me a clean slate for my next adventure and to stay in practice with different bead forms and styles. I did some extruded tubes with other clay that had escaped my attention last time I did this and added in a few leftovers from the January challenge as well. I was listening to Joshua Bell’s violin concertos by Tchaichovsky, and settled in to a playful effort to fill my accordion tray with lots of different beads. When they came out of the oven, I couldn’t resist stringing them together to see how they looked with one last focal pendant I had tried earlier in the week.
I really love the joy the of the colors and playfulness of all the different styles of beads.
I have always been attracted to different textures and to eastern designs, so I had recently tried to do silicon molds of some antique wooden batik printing blocks from India that I have had for years. The first attempts hadn’t gone well, but I wanted to succeed enough in making my own castings to try again. And this time they came out! I still need to figure out a way to clean out the accumulated dirt and wood dust, but the impressions were good- yay! One of the designs has a bunch of small birds, butterflies, a lobster (crawfish maybe?!), and a child, and the small bird seemed a perfect addition to the flat, graphic style poppy. I used a lot of translucent in the dark red, which made it work better than a matte polymer would have with the kind of chunky carved look of the bird.
Overall, it was another successful stretch to do the ABS challenge. I am so grateful to the organizers for all they do to inspire us and expand our horizons!