Friday, December 2, 2016

The Lady of the House

Ask anyone who their favorite Egyptian goddess is, and most people would probably say Isis or Hathor. These dieties known for motherhood, healing, love, and protection long outlasted their original culture and continue to be an important part of spirituality and feminity to this day. This is an impressive achievement when you consider that they were competing with hundreds of other gods and goddesses. Throughout 4000 years of Ancient Egyptian culture, many religions, cults, and legends were incorporated into the pantheon and worshipped in the home, alongside the same dieties that we can still see depicted on the walls of ancient tombs. The names and identities of many Egyptian goddesses have been lost to time, but the daughters of Ra, and the children of Nut and Geb continue to thrive in their own way.


My favorite goddess is Nephthys - sister of Isis and wife of Set. Her name means "Lady of the Mansion" and she was the Ancient Egyptian goddess of death. Not to be confused with Anubis, the god of embalming, or other death gods with morbid and shadowy backstories, Nephthys was as much a goddess of healing and protection as her sister. In Ancient Egypt, life, death, and rebirth were all linked; Nephthys represented the realm were all things living and dead are one. This concept can be very comforting, especially when one feels disconnected from their peers or the world around them. We are all made from the same atoms, and Nephthys embodies that notion perfectly.

The Inspiration:

The realm of Nephthys was the place where the fertile waters and silt of the Nile met the harsh and inhospitable desert - a margin between abundant life and bleak death. She was the place were bodies become soil, and soil nourishes bodies in a neverending circle. When I picture Nephthys I always think of a goddess that is poised and regal, while also having a smoldering vitality. She is the combination of solemn death and the never ending resilience of life. She is birth, death, regeneration, and evolution all rolled into one.

In making a new tribute piece to Nephthys, I wanted to incorprate the earthy colors of biomass such as greens, browns, and black. This time I also wanted some rich blue to represent the water that connects all living things. For this project I started by combing through my stash to find pieces that had the right look to represent the lady of death, and tried to picture them together until a design took shape. I also wanted to be sure that the piece would turn out right on the first try, so I decided to go with my favorite fringe. This would allow me to pull lots of different accents together, and add some stripe patterns to keep things looking Egyptian.

Nephthys Beads


The Beads:

For the base beadwork I chose transparent dark topaz and Montana blue sapphire seed beads in size 8/o. These were my earth and water elements, and they contrast each other with perfect sophistication. I also included some black and white seed beads for borders and stripes, though I hadn't yet decided what type of pattern I wanted to use.

For accents I had so many wonderful choices, but in the end I went with bone tubes, crackle finish wood, amber horn heishi beads, and sono wood tubes. These beads all had the color, texture, and light that I wanted in this piece. I was particlarly exited to use the green wood beads from Blueberry Cove, which so perfectly represented Nephthys' home on the Nile. I was in the mood for even more texture, so I later added batik bone beads in black, jet black druks, and some tiny natural coconut rounds to the mix.

Nephthys Necklace 1


The Beadwork:

Few things are easier than creating something from your favorite inspiration, and this project certainly fits that description. The pattern and the fringe just came together, and the work seemed to go by in a flash.

For the rope, I used black to border the brown sections, and white to border the slightly darker blue portions. To break up the rope a little, I added smaller blocks of brown between each of the striped sections. This is a little bit different from any of the patterns that I've used before, and not exactly traditional, but I love how it turned out. I repeated the pattern somewhat for the fringe, connecting it at the edge with brown, then finishing with a cascade of more Montanta blue sapphire. I really love working with this color in any type of bead, and it never disappoints.

Nephthys Necklace 2


Do you have a favorite figure from mythology? How do they inspire your work?

Mortira

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tutorial: Golden Tapestry Netted Cuff Bracelet

Golden Tapestry Cuff Bracelet Project

Netting is one of my favorite beading techniques because it is simple, medidative, and creates such beautiful collars. The method of connecting beads together in nets has been around for thousands of years, and was even used by the Ancient Egyptians - chances are you've seen photographs of the beautiful faience bead 'gown'. Netting in some form can be found in the beadwork of many cultures, sometimes with elaborate patterns and lovely layers. Though it does have some basic structural limitations, the spacing of the beads allows for many variations in netting, including the addition of accents in many sizes.

This super easy 'tapestry' cuff project was inspired by the Geometric bead box from Blueberry Cove Beads. This has been my all time favorite bead collection so far this year. When I pulled out all of the lovely beads in the inspiration box, I was struck by how wonderful each of the individual pieces was. The shapes and colors are each unique and beautiful in their own way, but when combined they create a gorgeous tapestry.

The harmony of combining beads together is one of the things that makes it such a rewarding art form, and this project is a great example of the way that you can easily mix together elements that might not seem matched at first sight.

Blueberry Cove Beads Geometric Inspiration Box
Blueberry Cove Geometric Bead Box


Some of my favorite pieces from this set include the pretty purple mother of pearl coins, and the orange cat's eye cubes. Individually the beads are wonderul, and though they are different in every way, I knew that I could mix them together to make a gorgeous piece of jewelry. I added tiny gold hexagon beads to the palette from the Geometric box, and some green glass rounds and drops from the Rainforest bead box as well. Transparent topaz seed beads and purple crystals from my stash rounded out the palette perfectly.

If you don't have similar materials in your stash, try combining some of your favorite accents together. The pattern will work with just about anything 6mm and smaller - just be sure to leave room for the size and shape of each bead that you add: the coins in the project are used as a focal since they can overlap each other nicely along a single row, but the other beads sit snugly side by side. Once the netting is complete, the beadwork will have a wonderfully chunky texture. If you like your bracelets extra slinky, use waxed beading thread in place of the Fireline.

Golden Tapestry Cuff Harmony Palette


Materials:

10 yards 6lb test Fireline (crystal)
5 grams size 11/o seed beads (transparent topaz)
6 x 10mm mother of pearl coins (purple)
6 x 6mm glass drops (green)
18 x 5mm glass cubes (orange)
16 x 6mm glass rounds (green)
16 x 3mm crystal bicones (purple)
24 x 3mm hexagon beads (gold)


1. Attach a stop bead to a comfortable length of Fireline, leaving a 6 inch (15 cm) tail. Pick up 6 seed beads, and slide them down to the end. Pick up 1 seed bead, and begin stitching an even-count peyote panel. Continue working until your panel is 19 beads wide. Weave in and trim both threads. Create a second 6 x 19 peyote stitch panel and weave in the threads.


2. Attach a stop bead to a new length of Fireline, and weave into one of the peyote strips, exiting from a corner up-bead. Pick up 4 seed beads, and 1 hexagon bead. Continue stringing accents with 4 seed beads between each: add 1 drop, 1 hex, 1 cube, 1 hex, 1 drop, 1 hex, 1 coin, 1 hex, 1 drop, 1 hex, 1 cube, 1 hex, 1 drop, 1 hex. Finish with 4 seed beads.


3. Stitch up into a corner up-bead on the second peyote strip, and weave up through the following bead. Pass back down through the adjacent bead and the following bead to exit the panel. Pull snug.

4. Flip the beadwork. Pick up 4 seed beads, and stitch up through the last hex bead added in the previous row.


5. Pick up 4 seed beads, 1 cube, and 4 seed beads. Stitch up through the next hex bead of the previous row.

6. Continue adding accents with 4 seed beads to either side, passing through the hex beads to secure them: add 1 round, 1 cube, 1 coin, 1 cube, 1 round, and 1 cube.

Netted Bracelet TutorialTapestry Cuff i


7. To complete the row, pick up 4 seed beads.Stitch into the 3rd bead of the peyote strip, leaving one bead between each of the netting rows. Stitch through the following bead in the strip, and then turn as in step 3 to begin the next row.


8. Pick up 4 seed beads, 1 crystal, and 4 seed beads. Stitch through the last cube bead added in the previous row. Continue adding crystals for the entire row, passing through each of the accents beads. Finish by stitching into the 3rd bead of the peyote panel and turning the thread as usual.

Netted Cuff Tutorial


9. Add 4 seed beads, passing through the last crystal added. Pick up 4 seed beads, 1 round bead, and 4 seed beads. Pass through the next crystal in the previous row.

10. Continue adding accent beads, using the opposite color/shape as the previous row, and a coin in the center. Finish the row and turn. In the following row, add all hexagon beads. Repeat the pattern until you have 5 rows with accents, 3 rows of hexagons, and 2 rows of crystals as shown.


Turn and exit from the last bead of the peyote panel to begin the final row.

11. Add 4 seed beads and pass through the last hexagon bead added in the previous row. Add 4 seed beads, 1 cube, and 4 seed beads. In the next stitch, add seeds beads and a glass drop. Continue adding the remaining accent beads, and finish the row with 4 seed beads. Weave in your threads and trim.


12. Weave across the peyote panel and exit from the fouth bead on the outside edge. Pick up 21 seed beads. Pass back through the first 3 beads again and into the 5th bead of the peyote panel. Pull snug.

Check the fit of the loop on one of your remaining glass rounds. It should be just big enough to slip over the bead smoothly. Adjust the number of beads in the loop if necessary, then continue weaving.


13. Weave through the peyote panel and exit from the edge, leaving a 2-bead space from the previous loop. Add a second loop with the same number of beads. Repeat to add two more loops, then weave in and trim the thread.

14. On the opposite edge of the cuff, position a new thread 4 beads from the end as before. Pick up 3 seed beads, 1 round, and 2 seed beads. Skipping the last seed bead added, pass back through all of the beads again, and into the 5th bead of the peyote panel. Pull snug.


Repeat this step to add 3 more toggles, leaving a 2-bead space between each. Weave in any remaining thread and trim.


This pattern will create a bracelet that is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) long. To increase the length of your design, you can add additional seed beads to the nets - working with 5 seed beads per stitch instead of 4 will add about 1 inch (15 cm).

Golden Tapestry Cuff Bracelet Tutorial


Mortira

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Work in Progress: Progress in Work

I am happy to say that I have found some new inspiration that will keep me going for a good long while. At the very least, I am excited to start making things again, and to share the ideas behind each project as I go. My very first project will return to a favorite place: I'm making a new necklace inspired by my favorite Egyptian goddess, Nephthys. As someone who has long been fascinated by the science of death, I found an instant connection with Nephthys when I first read about her. She embodies the realm where life, death, and rebirth meet in the Ancient Egyptian understanding of the universe. At times she was also considered to be the mother of Anubis, and helped in the creation of the first mummy.

Nephthys Rope Necklace in Progress


I didn't want to risk making a copy of my last Nephthys design, so I decided to shy away from greens for this necklace. Instead I added Montana blue sapphire to my palette for a chunky herringbone rope. When it comes time to add some fringe, I may regret going with a twisted rope, but we'll see how things turn out. I'm finding a lot of comfort in making a tribute to "The Lady of the House", and even if it doesn't quite work out perfectly, it'll be worth it.

The peacock dagger collar turned out quite nicely. I was so excited to get started on Nephthys that I had to force myself to complete and add the button for this piece. Luckily, it only took one beading session, and I thought it was important to finish at least one project before starting this new adventure.

>Peacock Collar


What inspirations are empowering you at the moment?

Mortira

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Dear Artists

Copyright 2016 Inspirational Beading


Monday, November 7, 2016

Work in Progress: Daggers and Spirals

Greetings, beaders! I hope that you've had a fantastic transition into fall. I am still struggling with finding the right work-life balance, and fitting creative time in where I can. Things seemed to be going smoothly for awhile: I had some projects lined up that I was really excited about and the first one turned out great. I was working on a new spiral rope lariat with lots of different daisy patterns, and I decided to go ahead and make a second one, thinking that since I was on a roll, I might as well keep going. This was a huge mistake. I got bored with the new rope pretty quickly, and then a string of graveyard shifts threw off my whole routine and I never got around to finishing it.


Daisy Fringe Lariat

I picked up a new project a few weeks ago, and found myself something new to binge-watch while I worked on it. It took some time to decide what kind of project I could really fall into, when I remembered that I had some new peacock daggers to use. Not only is black with silver polka-dots an easy finish to work with, but the size and shape of the daggers are perfect for a wide-net collar. Rather than come up with a whole new project, I recreated my last successful dagger collar and had a pretty good time with the simple pattern. The colors are pretty similar to the previous design as well, although I had a little fun adding a hint of purplish cobalt iris.

Spiral Lariat in Progress

I still haven't made or added a button to the new collar. A few late nights working on Hallowe'en costume elements derailed my beading plans yet again, but I'm determined to get back on the horse and hopefully have some nice winter projects to keep me occupied. I know that if I can get back into the zone with making again, more writing will follow as well. A little extra inspiration is all I need to come up with some new tutorial ideas for you!

Dagger Collar in Progress

What kinds of projects have you been working on?

Mortira

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Work in Progress: Spiral Daisies

As promised I have moved on from herringbone fringe necklaces, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up on fringe yet. Not only is it really satisfying to make fringe, but I’ve been in the mood to use up not just my favorite accent beads, but some of the less-than-versatile Czech seed beads as well. One of my goals for this year was to be a little less picky about culling Czech beads, and fringe gives me the freedom to just go ahead and use seed beads that are just a little bit wonky.


I really wanted to try out some of the millefiori beads that I picked up at a thrift store about a year ago, so I started with a strand of black rounds with a daisy motif and worked up from there. A spiral rope lariat would allow me to incorporate a daisy pattern while also using up a hank of green seed beads that has been sitting in my stash since making the blue-green ombre project from Ancient Worlds Modern Beads. So far things are going really well, and I can’t wait to get started on the tassels.


The Egyptian stripe necklace from last week turned out really nice. I was worried about the pattern being a bit much, but once it was complete and the accents added on, things really came together. I tried something new for the fringe this time around, and matched the top of each loop to the beadwork base. I’m not sure if I love it completely, but it may come in handy for future projects without so many colors in play.

What are you making right now?

Mortira

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