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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bead Weaving – Sculptural Art and Beyond...


The Art of Weaving Glass Beads was the Spring 2008 show at Mostly Glass Gallery in New Jersey!

This show featured Madelyn Ricks and Sharmini Wirasekara along with five other artists working in jewelry and sculptural bead weaving.

I was looking through the catalog for this event and noticed that most of the pieces have sold! So take a few minutes – get over to the website and check it out before they take it down!

http://www.mostlyglass.com/Exhibits/glass_beading_08.htm





Madelyn Ricks – Beyond Kimonos...

For those of you who are involved in Bead Weaving – Madelyn Ricks is a household word. For a metalhead like me – she was a revelation!

Madelyn Ricks works exclusively in peyote stitch using Japanese Delica seed beads for her very popular Kimono series, her whimsical sculptures, and her Jewelry.

For the kimonos, she first graphs her designs by hand, gluing multiple sheets together, then beads it in separate strips which are stitched together.



The art of interlocking beads together with thread is both ancient and universal. Madelyn's designs are a mixture of many different cultures and times. The technique is peyote stitch named by the Native Americans in the US. A very strong multifilament nylon thread is used.
The square glass beads are a high quality glass manufactured in Japan using novel techniques. Many of the beads are plated with precious metals such as 24K gold, rhodium and palladium.

Also used, are lot of silver-lined colored beads to create a lot of sparkle, making the finished piece look like small dots of colored light woven together.
There are very few artists that work with beads this small (about 300 per square inch), or create pieces with such intricate patterns and colors.





Sharmini Wirasekara - Robes

Sharmini creates Robes and Wall hanging Objects predominantly inspired by Mexican Art. For the Robes, she chooses to work in Off-Loom techniques mostly peyote stitch, using Japanese Delica seed beads.

Some of her Wall Objects are Neckpieces. For those, in addition to Peyote, she uses a single-needle right angle weave, and prefers the Czech seed beads because their roundness gives the pieces a different look and shape.



A Brief History of Working with Glass Beads

As fans of The Antiques Roadshow can tell you – beads have been an integral part of most cultures in every region of the world. There are patterns that are specific to Southwest Native Americans and those patterns can even be broken down to northern Arizona tribes versus Southern Arizona tribes.

Glass Beads and Bead Weaving have, throughout history, been used to denote not only region but the “class” of the wearer. With ornate and intricate patterns reserved for the Emperor/Chief and simpler designs for the working class. Alternately, glass beads have been used as currency in some African cultures as well as historically for trading in the Native American tribes.

The great glass center of the world was for centuries The Venetians who originally began working with glass around 1200, and by the eighteenth century had a near-monopoly on the glass bead market. The trade became a staple throughout Europe and when the great European explorers began their travels, these beads became prime trade items and were distributed throughout the established seafaring trade routes.

Glass beads are usually made using one of two methods... drawn glass, a method that involves molten glass that is then stretched or drawn out into a long, thin tube. This method created what we now know as seed beads...the drawn glass is cut and tumbled to soften the edges. The second, and oldest method, virtually the same as the methods used by today’s lampworkers, on a much smaller scale!


In the 1980’s computer control of seed bead manufacturing came into play, both in the Czech Republic and in Japan.

Bead weaving techniques are usually either the use of a bead loom that has multiple warping threads through which beads are woven as the weft, like in traditional textile weaving...or off-loom bead weaving.
The later incorporates the many techniques developed by various cultures worldwide. With names such as peyote, herringbone, right angle weave, ladder, brick and netting stitches these techniques involve working with a needle and threading material to form patterns.
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