Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nautical Inspired

Within a few days of joining the Etsy Beadweaver's team, the May challenge theme "Nautical Inspired" was announced. My mind began to visualize every seashore experience  that would inspire a piece of jewelry, from the beaches of Oregon to Virginia and Hawaii.  Because we live so close, we've spent many weekends camping along the Oregon coast, walking along the shore, watching the waves crash against towering boulders in record storms, touring ships and museums.

One of my husband's favorite things to do is to go crabbing with everyone we know.  Through many of these beach picnics and crabfests I am very familiar with the anatomy of these beautiful delicious crustaceans.  But interpreting a crab into a beaded jewelry item was not something I had given much thought to until now.  Their main body is a broad oval, with a slightly raised bumpy rim.  My mind kept putting two tiny beaded ovals together for the base and proceeding from there.  When the thought of using two oval glass pearls as a center, the beautiful little crab charm came together.

It has been a long time since we have found a glass float wash to shore. It seemed a simple shore, find an appropriate 'float' bead and put a net around it!  In a stash of vintage family heirloom beads I found one I would use for a glass float.  I was most surprised with the difficulty of getting my 'net' of beads to fit around this bead.  Many nets were made and torn out before this feat was accomplished.

Next was kelp.  These 7-10 foot long whip-like stuctures are very familiar on our beaches here in Oregon.  They are the dead stems of a certain type of seaweed. 

Then came seaweed. They or something very like them are frequently depicted in beadwork.   I researched to find what kind it is I see waving about just off shore in the ocean and seaports  and could not believe how many types of seaweed there are.  One website sold prints of ancient drawings of these that were exquisite.  The research was great fun but I decided to do a ragged and non-symmetrcial specimen from my own imagination.

I thought I would strangle with all the threads coming out everywhere!!
The most daunting and time consuming of all was the ocean wave.  I originally wanted it curled around the crab as the 'high' point and center of my bracelet with added ripples throughout the bracelet.  I researched technique of increasing and decreasing peyote.  I put in clear beads, wishing to show ocean spray.  In the end it was too distracting in the center and became part of the closure.

All through the other 4 charms I kept thinking of a starfish.  Starting something with five points was throwing me a little.  My experience with doilies and other bead work made me think it would always turn out round in the end.  Finally my experience with picot edging came into play and with a combination of sewing and tear out I was able to accomplish a very life-like starfish - what I mean is he or she is not perfectly symetrical but looks like he or she is moving.

Next was placing the charms on my peyote stitched backdrop.  The crab, starfish, glass float and kelp are 'at sea', with the starfish finding the nearest rocky tidepool and the kelp nudging up to shore.  The seaweed has freshly washed over some exposed boulders.

Closure was a hurdle I would think about as I progressed through the other elements.  I had thought of an anchor and rope of beads but when the ocean wave did not work elsewhere it became part of the closure.  In the anchor charm I reinforced the point of the anchor is with a metal finding.  It is flexible enough to roll up when brought through the wave.

Lastly the width of the bracelet made it keep shifting on my wrist.  So a couple of boulders on one side and a strand of beads became part of stabilizing the bracelet.

In certain lights it is like looking into a sparkling clear ocean on a clear night - the light shimmers on dark waters.  Depending on style the wearer, it would go exotic, bohemian, elegant, casual.  It makes me think of light, gauzy summer fabrics.  It looks fabulous with medium heather blue, also with yellow.

All in all I am very pleased with this bracelet.  There are a couple of other  techniques I will try if I do it again but it is truly an original - not made with the complexity and skill of the Master Creator but with the imagination and resources He gave me.

 You are invited to VOTE on Etsy Beadweavers May Challenge entries on the team's website:

 May 9 through May 16!!



  1. love love love this! So creative! I love anything beach related and I have to say I really like the crab and the starfish. I'm impressed!

  2. That's incredible, you are truly talented! My favorite is the crab!

  3. You used such care and detail. Very nicely done.

  4. Wow looks like a lot of work went into that Luella! Very unusal too. Blessings Niki x

  5. I am so voting for your beautiful bracelet! What intense work that is and how much goes into it! It shows a lot about your character to do something like that....namely that you are patient! Please let us know when you win!!

  6. That's quite and undertaking and it came out beautiful.

  7. Thanks everyone for the compliments and encouragement! And a big thank you to all who voted in the team challenge!

  8. You are such a patient person to work with the intricate beads. You did a great job conceptualizing.

  9. Your creativity is refreshing and inspiring!