Earlier this month, I was knocked head over heels by a little inspiration, care of Catherine from Shadow Dog Designs. Catherine is a veteran Pinterest user, and when she shared a favorite pin of a beautiful panther chameleon photograph on Facebook, I was lucky enough to be there to see it.
This charming creature has the most amazing rainbow coloration, and the bumpy lizard-skin is so akin to beads that it was totally irresistible. You know that moment when you see something and just have to bead it? It was love at first sight, and must have been meant to be, because everything just fell into place.
I knew right then that I would have to find a way to turn the photo into beadwork, and it was in the back of my mind for days. It was the lime green spots especially that caught my eye, and I was grieving the fact that I didn’t have any opaque sour apple seed beads to match. Fortunately, there was a big vial waiting for me on my bead shopping trip last week!
I actually put off starting the design a lot longer than I needed to. I was completely stuck on a pattern, or a method for getting the same array of colors in an organic way. I considered drawing myself a diagram to follow, but where to begin? And if I did that, would I even be able to follow it, or perhaps would it hinder the beadwork by being too rigid? Finally, I made a really simple chart that included all of the colors in the proportions that I wanted, just as a reminder of where I might want things to be placed, so I wouldn’t forget to include certain color combinations. I put the start point - the eye of the chameleon - off-center, to get a more natural, less perfect look. I ended up ignoring the chart after about 4 rounds of stitching, and just going on instinct, and it turned out just right.
Once I had a design plan, I gathered up all of the colors that I would need to recreate panther chameleon skin, including both of the opaque vials that I had just purchased. The palette also includes pepper red (not as purplish as the real thing, but a great contrast for the lime) plus dandelion yellow, shamrock green, and lustered coral for orange. I chose cyan to be the main color for my piece, and to help with the lizardy texture effect, I used two shades of turquoise - one lustered and one AB - and alternated them whenever two or more turquoise beads were side by side.
My color choices for felt backing were limited to brown, black, and dark blue. I went with the brown, because it’s natural looking and complements the turquoise nicely. I like how it looks, although I almost wish that I had known ahead of time how I was going to finish this piece. I was so excited about the beadwork, I didn’t think enough about the end result.
The variety of bead sizes (10/o, 11/o, and 12/o), combined with really snug stitches only added to the bumpy texture, and really gives the medallion personality. Normally I would examine every stitch and lament at those that don't line up perfectly, but for this piece, flaws are beautiful.
About halfway through the embroidery, I decided that I wanted to use a multi-strand base, and even though I had accent beads for the extenders that perfectly match the beadwork, I wanted to do something a little different this time around. Instead of matching my clasp chains to the multi-strand section, I thought it would be fun to have a completely neutral backdrop, and did it almost entirely in jet black. I needed a little something more than just seed beads and druks, but with no other jet black accent beads at hand, I chose a handful of dark teal coconut heishi instead. I like the way the hint of color peeks through, and highlights the intense colors of the medallion.
Many, many thanks to Catherine for passing on such fantastic inspiration! I highly recommend checking out some of her inspiration boards for gorgeous photographs galore.
Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Friends
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