February 21, 2013 by epochbeadsuk
I cannot believe I have finally finished this epic project!! It truly was a labour of love! Anyone who knows me and my passion for making jewellery will know that I love trying out new techniques which usually starts with a Google Images search. In one such search I found beautiful bead embroidery jewellery by Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini. I immediately rushed out and bought their books (shhh hubby doesn’t know!) and was completely in awe of their work and fascinated by the whole process involved.
In a previous life (!) I used to hand embroider wedding dresses for a company in Salisbury, but that was really easy stuff following a simple pattern: surely it couldn’t be that hard to transfer those skills? Could it??? lol. I started with a couple of bezelled pendants and thought “right, let’s go for it”. It didn’t take me long to realise I cant sketch lovely designs lol, (I seem to be permanently stuck at the stick people stage!) but what I can do is visualise a design in my head.
The design had to include some gemstone cabochons, so I decided on Lapis Lazuli just because I like them! By looking at the shapes of necklaces by Heidi and Sherry it wasn’t hard to come up with the basic shape of the piece. I didn’t use the stiffening and suede recommended by Heidi & Sherry but bought some from Fabricland in Salisbury as I was desperate to get started.
I then started to play around with the cabochons on the template to see how they would look and for some reason started to think Egyptian. I hunted around on Google for Egyptian designs and found a huge poster with the Eye of Ra on it. I scaled this down and beaded it on a separate piece of fabric in case it all went pair shaped! I stitched these with tiny size 15 beads and was so shocked at how well they turned out!
I then attached the cabochons, glass scarabs and ‘eyes’ to my shape to give the basic outline of the design. I then thought “HHmmmm Ra the Egyptian Sun God!” I need some kind of sun lol. That’s when the Swarovski Crystals came out and transformed the piece! I so love a bit of bling!!
it wasn’t all plain sailing! When I attached the cabochons I used the wrong glue and they fell off!!!!!!! That was a tad annoying lol (please use E6000!) I re-bezelled them 3 times before I got them how I wanted! It seemed at one point that I was spending more time unpicking than I was sewing! My next disaster was when stitching seed beads around the top of the crystal Ravoli’s. The thread kept rubbing against the edge of the Rivoli and breaking. “Blast!” I said lol, and had to find thicker thread and double it.
Once all the main components were attached I then had to decide on the filling in of the background. This consisted of me getting every blue and gold seed bead and crystal I had out on the table and them whittling them down to the colours I wanted. One good thing about making a piece like this is you can use up lots of odd bits & bobs from your bead stash lol.
I thought the filling in stage would go on forever! I took a section at a time made a decision on how to bead it. When that was done I moved on to another section. I like working like this: just letting the beads take me along with them and seeing what happens.
I then had to attach the backing and give it an edge. Another book this time by Jamie Cloud Eakin, to learn some edging techniques. Once I had edged it I then thought it needed something else. I bezelled my spare Lapis cabochon and decided I would like to put a tassel on. Another book lol: Spellbound Beaded Tassels gave me inspiration and then it was finished! I hung it on my mannequin (called Me-Julie) and cried lol. I could not believe that after 6 weeks of beading in the evenings in front the TV and at weekends that it was finished! I immediately took snaps and sent them to family and friends.
My snaps did not do this piece justice, so, for the first time I decided to go to a professional photographer. More Google and I found Michael Illas. By the time I got to the photo shoot, I was completely over excited and poor Michael must have thought I was mad! Michael was great, he answered all my questions (of which there were many!) and made the whole experience fun and interesting. When I received my digital download of the finished photographs I again cried. I could not believe how beautiful he had made my necklace look. Thanks Michael and I will definitely be returning!
So that is my Homage to Ra necklace: 6 weeks, much chocolate, sewing, unpicking, the odd swear word, lessons learned, much book reading, excitement, bleary eyes, and contentment! I loved every second of this project and now onto the next piece!
I hope you like it too.
Books & Inspiration
The Art of Bead Embroidery – Heidi Kummli & Sherry Serafini
The Spirit of Bead Embroidery – Heidi Kummli
Sensational Bead Embroidery – Sherry Serafini
Dimensional Bead Embroidery – Jamie Cloud Eakin
Spellbound Beaded Tassels – Jane Ashford
Jackie Moore – Epoch Beads UK