Sunday, April 26, 2009

Convergence Exhibit opens at the Ohio Glass Museum on Friday

The Convergence Exhibit opens at the Ohio Glass Museum on Friday, May 1. This traveling exhibit is the culmination of a joint venture competition of Bead & Button magazine and the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB).

The Convergence competition started with an announcement and invitation extended to jewelry artists and ISGB glass beadmakers last October to team together to create a collaborative exhibition piece of jewelry focusing on the four elements: fire, earth, air, and water.

Pam Wolfersberger, ISGB member, and I signed up as a team for this competition. As a starting point for colors, Pam invited me to go through her finished beads and select several that spoke to me. One in particular was gorgeous; cream with highlights of browns, burgundy, and ochre. Earthtones are definitely my artistic color palette of choice and it was my favorite bead out of all the ones I looked at that day. Pam used it as a starting point for creating the outstanding beads that served as the focal points of the bead embroidered collar.

I prefer organic designs and like my jewelry to have a flow to it so I knew from the start that I wanted to use a series of circles that bounced one onto the other to represent the "air" component of the competition theme. As Pam and I talked about the form of the collar, she encouraged me to not limit my vision to something small, but to think big. I drew up several different sizes of circles and then just started laying them out to find a pleasing flow and pattern. We met several times during this time frame to talk about how the design was progressing and so I could make my final selection of the beads I wanted to use from the ones she had made.

Then it became time to start putting it all together. I wanted the collar base to be one piece so it would lay smoothly and hug the body without creases where a base "joint" would occur so auditioned a couple of different types of bases that would be suitable for beadwork. Working with the collar as one continuous piece did create a bit of a bead embroidery challenge.

When I began working on the collar, I ended up revising how I wanted to surround the focal beads. I originally thought about using meandering lines from focal to focal to represent the air part of the theme, but I am not a "meandering line" kind of beader. I really liked how the surrounding beaded lines looked like radiating lines from the focal bead core so continued with that "pattern" for the remainder of the collar.

The final colors of the glass focal beads were very vibrant and I wanted them to be the focal point of the circle "islands" so I ended up using a combination of various sizes and sheen (some matte, some gloss) of glass seed beads, Swarovski pearls, and some gorgeous AB2X Swarovski bicones to form the surrounding terra. Altogether, I think I used 18 to 19 different bead colors and types of beads in creating the pools that radiated out from the focal beads and that didn't include at least 5 or 6 additional pearls and seed beads that I had purchased and ultimately set aside because I didn't like the color combination when using them.

I am quite proud of how the collar hugs the body when worn and, although large in size, does not feel heavy because of how it lays. Additionally, it is well balanced when on the body and only requires one small hidden ball and socket clasp to serve as the closure!

At the end of February, Pam and I received notification that our collar collaboration had been accepted as a finalist in the Convergence competition and would be part of the traveling exhibit. I think I must have used almost a whole roll of tape and bubble wrap to make sure the collar was adequately protected when it was shipped to Bead & Button to be photographed for the exhibition catalog! Then, at the end of March, the letter arrived with the notification that the collar had also been accepted for inclusion in a special Bead & Button publication that will be available in October 2009. In addition to sending my circle pattern that I used to layout the original collar, I needed to write up the instructions for creating the collar and provide a supply list of the beads that I had used and the quantity of each. I had actually created a matrix while I was working on the collar that gave a letter designation to each color/style of bead, the color name and number, its size, the approximate quantity used, and where I purchased it from if it wasn't something typically found. A much different process from how I normally work as I usually pull everything I think I'm going to need from my stash and then use and supplement as needed without worrying about quantity and source (except to buy additional beads of course).

I'm really looking forward to visiting the Ohio Glass Museum on Friday, May 1, so I can see all of the beautiful and outstanding collaborations that are part of the Convergence exhibit. The traveling exhibit will be at the Ohio Glass Museum in Lancaster, OH from May 1 to May 24, then it leaves for the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, Wi from June 3 to June 7, with the final stop at the Windisch-Hunt Fine Arts Gallery in Coconut Grove, FL from June 20 until the ISGB Gathering closes on July 24, 2009.

If you are interested in purchasing focal beads or scepter beads similar to what was used in the Convergence collar, I've included a link to Pam Wolfersberger's website below. Pam's work encompasses a wide range of colors so I'm sure you will be able to find the right lampwork beads for you!

Pam Wolfersberger's website:

Bead & Button's announcement of artist teams included in the October publication:

"Jewelry Designs with Art Glass Beads":

ISGB Convergence Page:

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