March was a busy month, and I kept getting distracted from beading by things like editorial work, writing, spring cleaning, digging up my garden beds, and so on. But I did return, again and again, to this piece, and I really enjoyed watching it grow. As I mentioned in an earlier diary, I haven’t rushed out to make new friends in Switzerland, and instead have worked on feeling grounded and comfortable spending time with myself for the last 3 months. As 50 approaches (in May), I’ve been thinking hard about what I’d like to accomplish in the second half of my life. I’m slow in figuring that out (matching my slowness in finishing the March project!), but some things are becoming clear — primarily that I need to keep working to integrate the intellectual and artistic parts of my life. Just this week I was introduced to several wonderful women in Bern, and now I’m looking forward to getting to know them — solitude is lovely, but I think my leaves are unfurling along with the apple trees’ in the yard, and it’ll be nice to be in company as well.
In terms of beading, I’ll be a bit less ambitious for April! But I learned a tremendous amount in the process of working on this piece. The first thing I learned is that, no matter how many different colors of beads you’ve got, it’s never enough. As a painter, I’m used to mixing my own colors, and it’s a bit tougher with beads. Next time, though, I’m going to try mixing some bead soups to supplement my color palette. The second thing I learned is that heavily encrusted bead projects are extremely time consuming. This one isn’t done yet, since the necklace yoke needs to be edged and fringed, and I plan on making a medium thick Cellini spiral / peyote tube cable to which I will weave the top edge of the yoke (so that the woman’s hand reaches up and onto the cable to hold it). The Lazertran transfer on the Stiff Stuff worked like a charm, so that’s something I’ll definitely use again.
While there are a lot of things I like about this piece, it became clear over the course of the month that 15/o beads are simply not small enough for creating fine detail, so in the future, when I have very delicate representative work in mind, I will try combining bead embroidery and paper or cloth collage. I’m still struggling to define my own style in this new (for me) medium, and I’ve been so inspired by everyone else’s bead journals.