Here is the finished "40th birthday challenge" piece. My friend Fiona and I made this challenge to one another last year, and since our birthdays are both in the coming 6 days, and since this week was Bead Show, we unveiled our work. It took about 6 months start to finish, with lots of other projects interceding. It also went through many re-designs, mostly which gave me excuses to buy more beads.
The challenge was to create a concept piece using all of our bead-weaving (tiny beads stitched together with needle and thread) skills, designed (with help from books and mags for elements) by ourselves, that would pay "homage" to an author or film director. I chose Tolkien, specifically LOTR.
We got loads of attention walking around Bead Show wearing our creations, which was super gratifying. People loved the spiderweb and the Great Eye. It did make shopping harder, as people kept stopping to chat and take our picture. A few vendors even guessed (with some hints) the inspiration for the piece, and many people asked us what class we took to make them! I was proud to say that this one, there is no class for this sort of tomfoolery, at least not yet.
From the East. you can see the Elanor flower really well, but I am afraid my leaf of Lothlorien got a little hidden in the end. The Evenstar hangs down from Samwise's favored flower.
From the West, you get a good look at Shelob and her web, and hanging down from that the Elassar, which was needed when Aragorn had to heal so many wounded after battle! You can also get a good look at the Eye of Sauron, which owes a great deal to Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork, but which has a free-netted black pupil holding in a black rivoli in a peyote bezel.
Detail of the leaf... my own design, mostly herringbone stitch with some embellishment.
Detail of Shelob, whose legs were a bit wonky. I did not want to use wire, but if I had, they would have stood a tad more, well, standy. He is made from two adjacent "plum blossoms" (30 bead spheres) with one fat red bead in her belly to make her look more angry and less cute. She has 8 red eyes and two little tusks made from size 15 crystal charlottes, so they are almost invisible here.
The One Ring. Just some embellished cubic right angle weave. I wanted something that looked old, and heavy, and with enough gaps that one could imagine a message there that only flame could tell...
The Elassar, also owes a lot to Diane. In Tolkien's description it is set in silver with an eagle behind it, but it was also described as being set in Aragorn's helm.
The base of the piece is a 4-unit lattice, which I learned from a Cynthia Rutledge pattern.
Making the eye.
While this might be the bit of the piece that to the naked eye is least easily associated with LOTR, this Elanor flower was based on a flower I have always had in my imagination from reading the books. I based it on Tolkien's own words describing it, and some fan art.
Well, on to next year's challenge!!! I learned a lot with this one, it is the first I have ever designed really thoughtfully from start to finished, all by myself. Also, I pushed myself to pick up new skills in the making.
Assembly took almost 8 hours, all this Thursday. (Assembly means stitching all the bits and pieces I've spent 6 months making onto the base.) It was a huge challenge to put it all together with some balance and not be as literal as I had originally intended (moving, map-wise, from West to East with all the items being in their real locale. Can you say "geek"?