I needed a distraction, and the Etsy Beadweavers May Challenge provided an excellent one. The theme was "Nautical Inspired." I didn't plan or draw. I wanted to fill my mind, and use up all the time alloted. Since the description of the challenge mentioned "lush ocean life" I started by searching Google Images for ocean plants, and the first images were of a kelp forest and I was HOOKED!
Rocks with Barnacles
I searched through my stash for things that looked like they might be part of a kelp forest and found several things to love. Deep blues and greens found their way into my possibilities pile, and two things really spoke to me. I had some blue green Swarovski jewels that asked to be the rocks that provide the kelp with an anchor on the ocean floor, and some iridescent beetle wings that looked like kelp leaves to me. I began bezeling the jewels, and realized I needed one more than I had, but (curses!) my supplier was out of town until the 30th of April. I imagine this is how drug addicts feel when then need a fix, and their dealers are in Aruba! So I posted an image of what I needed on Facebook, hoping one of my beady buddies might sell me one of these beauties.
And Cindy Hlavka (awesome ex-president of the Upper Midwest Bead Society, who recognizes bead need when she sees it!) came riding to my rescue! We met in a parking lot and she opened the trunk of her "MN Twins Mobile" to display her Swarovski jewel stash, in a black velvet lined box no less. I really felt like I was buying drugs! THANK YOU CINDY!!!
After the jewels were bezeled, I decided they needed lots of sparkly ocean floor texture, so created a barnacle embellished look with freshwater pearls and bicones. And I made a center back closure that would allow me to add kelp fringe and made a net connection, which seemed wildly appropriate to the ocean-going theme.
The Quest for Kelp
Thus began the hunt for a way to communicate the beautiful movement and shapes of the kelp itself. I made a few samples. One extraordinary thing about the kelp plant that really appealed to me was its flotation device. Kelp needs sunlight for photosynthesis. If it lies on the ocean floor, there is not much sunllight to be had. So it makes its own little pontoons. Each leaf has a gas bladder, connecting it to the main stalk of the plant and the plant fills the bladders and thus, keeps itself afloat to wave in the currents. LOVED that. And I found some awesome freshwater pearls that seemed perfect. BUT, I struggled with how literal to be, how sparkly the leaves should be, and how to keep the two portions of the necklace harmonious. This was lacking cohesiveness for me, but I thought it was close.
So I tried a bluer, less glittery version, without the big pearl bladder.
But then, the little bladder pearls were shocking and the leaves were stripey.
so I tried a simpler fringe, thinking it would still have the persuasiave movement. Fail.
Then I tried putting the big bladder pearl at the bottom, more negative space a the top of kelp and softer stitching to achieve a more tassle-like result, and finally a tassle that I ripped apart later in my process for parts! Still nothing right.
Plus I found working on this necklace was like sewing on black at night. It's dark enough that I can't tell what I have done until the next day's dawn. Finally, I waited for a dawn and did an assessment. I like the sparkle, but not too much of it. The bladder pearls were screaming and I needed them to be more integrated, so I found a different, quieter bead for the task. And the color really needed to blend with the rocks, since the texture and shape were different. AND, I used the big bladder pearl at the top of the fringe strand. It had a sprouted seed quality in that position that I really liked. Finally, I could just make the kelp!!!
Final Results: "Poseidon's Garden"
Poseidon, mythological God of the Ocean was also responsible for horses. Hence the clasp detail!
This very glamorous evening-wear necklace is for sale in my Etsy shop and also an entry in the May 2012 Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, "Nautical Imspired." Please visit our team blog to see all the wonderful entries and vote for your personal favorite between May 9th and 15th at:
And happy beading to you!