Wednesday, September 25, 2013

40 Bead Challenge - The Beginning

Last month, I heard about an informal event being hosted by one of my favorite glass people, Haley Tsang Sather on the Lampwork Etc. online forum. She was encouraging other bead makers to join her in playing along with the "40 Bead Challenge," originally introduced by another amazing artist, Heather Trimlett.

The premise of this exercise is to work on developing one of the most basic (but also sometimes the most challenging!) of lampworking skills: Dots. It takes steady hands, a careful eye, and thoughtful planning to achieve excellent results. Made even more challenging by these key rules:

  1. Use ONLY dots as the decorative element
  2. No tools of any kind are allowed (ack, a knife to my heart!)
  3. Use only the same two colors
  4. Limit yourself to making 5-6 beads at a time, over a series of days
  5. Make a total of 40 beads, all with unique patterns

As a former graphic designer, I have to admit I take a bit of pride in my ability to almost perfectly measure out things by eye (sometimes I'm off by 1/32", but who's counting?) So I mastered dot placement fairly quickly on my beads, but I have never challenged myself to tackle anything more complex than a few "go to" dotted designs. Something about this challenge spoke to me, and since I'm always up for learning new skills, I just couldn't resist signing up to join in!

I've been swamped with work and family stuff since the beginning of summer, so I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and thankfully, this challenge is all about doing it in your own time and having fun with it. So I've been squeezing in work sessions as I can, and avoiding any time-wasting indecision by focusing on one type of design style per session, i.e. basic dots, triangles, or rings.

I chose to work with Reichenbach Deep Black and Effetre Light Pink as my two core colors. Here's what I have done so far, over the course of four different days:

Day 1 - Simple Dots

Day 2 - Flowers

Day 3 - Soft Triangles

Day 4 - Rings

The first photo at the top of this post is what they look like all strung together and I am so happy with what I've been able to come up with so far! I started off with the favorite basic designs I often use, but almost everything else shown is a completely new design effort. This exercise is definitely making me look at dots in a completely different light and each work session generates even more ideas I want to try, with 20 beads done and 20 more to go!

If you would like to join us on the LE forum and explore your own dot and design skills (as well as get some wonderful inspiration by the others playing along), just click HERE to sign up.

P.S.—You might want to skip the morning coffee before you start on this one, unless you're going for a "Wild and Crazy Dots" theme?! *Ü*


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