Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The long awaited challenge piece

For the last few weeks I've been mentioning the "challenge piece" and how I've been frantically trying to finish it.  Now that it's done and turned in I will explain more about it and show you my entry.

The Loose Bead Society has a challenge every year.  Last year participants were given a paint chip, and the challenge was to make something using that color and name as inspiration.  This year our challenge was butterflies and moths and everything leading up to them - caterpillars, cocoons, etc...

We knew about the challenge a number of months ago, and I had tons of thoughts swirling around in my head.  The last time we went to the Milwaukee Public Museum I found the butterfly I wanted to use as my inspiration - the Peleides Blue Morpho.  A few had recently hatched and were still in the hatchery:

There was a poster showing that this butterfly has different colorings on either side of the wing:

Oh, how the ideas churned!  I was excited to use a butterfly from our Museum's butterfly habitat, and with the differences in the colors on its wings, I could... no... dare I even think it?  Make a reversible necklace!!

I'd like to say I set to work immediately.  This visit to the Museum was in May.  However, even though I had posted the due date on our website, I thought it was due in August.  I was reminded at the July Board meeting and was spurred into motion.

On July 4th I spent a few hours at Cindy's house - she's way more knowledgeable with polymer clay than I am, and she does much more than just stamp on it.  Besides, all my clay is old and crappy, and she has tons of clay she said I could use.  Due to a family party Steve and I were going to later in the day, we had to hurry, but we were able to get the main pieces done: circles that match the circles on the butterfly wing and blue marbled ones for the other side.  Cindy has this amazing set of color mixing "tablets" that show the main color, the color when mixed with white, and the formula for how to get the color.  I was able to choose the exact colors I needed.

After I finished up and baked the pieces, I glued the blue ones to the circled ones.  Then came the bezeling.  It took a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, but I peyoted as much as I could stand for over a week.

I'll spare you all of the drama of making the piece - how many bezels I had to redo for various reasons, how many times I poked myself with the needle, how Cindy and I made a frantic trip to the bead store because what I wanted to do to join the circles wouldn't work.  I'll just show you the piece:

As I hope you can see, it gives the shape of the butterfly without being too exact.  I really should have taken a picture of it on a black background so you could see the beads joining the circles and the edging better.  That will have to wait until I get it back.

Here are a few pictures of me wearing it:

I got a lot of compliments on it, and Cindy (who I could not have done this without) said she loves it.  Let's hope the judges love it, too!


  1. It's a great length, Trace! Beautiful!

  2. It is truly spectacular! I can't see how anyone else can win.