Friday, August 15, 2014

My artsy interpretation of a Tammy Rae key

In my Bead&Button Show Marketplace day 1 post, I introduced you to Tammy Rae Wolter (of Glass by Tammy Rae), and I showed you the key I bought from her.  Here's what I said about her and the key:
Since I first visited Tammy in her studio (before she moved to Neenah, Wisconsin) about 4 years ago (again, wow), I have wanted one of her keys with a bead on the shaft.  Since it would be an indulgence for me, I've been putting it off.  She posted them again recently on Facebook, and I decided now is the time.  I want to stitch a tube above and below the bead.  I think that would be very pretty.  I wanted a purple bead (of course), but Tammy didn't have any with the colors of purples I was hoping for.  We were about to discuss her making one just for me, then I saw one I fell in love with.  The bead was gorgeous (of course), but what made the decision for me was the shape of the key.  The bead is a purplish color, but there are elements of blue and pink and green, so I have a lot of leeway in what I stitch, and I can't wait to choose my colors.  I'm going to wear it tomorrow so I can match colors as I shop.

Here's the key:

I'm finding it really hard to take a good picture of that bead.  Hopefully some of the other pictures will be better.

True to my word, I wore the key the next day, and Steve and I found the perfect beads to go with it.  When I started stitching, though, I decided I needed a solid pink (which I had - whew!), so this was the lineup for the key and necklace:

The first thing I did was to stitch above and below the key like I wanted to.  The bead has green on the top and bottom, so I paired the green and purple Delicas (the fourth and fifth piles in the above picture) and stitched two peyote tubes.  It was a bit free-form, as I wanted the green to extend out from the bead with little tendrils.  After each tube was done, I took the multicolored and pink 15/0s (the first and second piles in the above picture) and stitched curves on top of the tubes to try to reflect the ribbons of color in Tammy's bead.  I also added some nubs on the top of the top tube and the bottom of the bottom tube for an extra embellishment.  I do that for all my tubed keys.

It's SO hard to take pictures of this!

Anyway, after the key was done, I stared at it for a long time.  Steve told me it was fine, and that made me look at it even harder.  I didn't want "fine", I wanted spectacular.  The thing is that I don't think that my free-form artsy things look good.  Other people's free-form artsy things look great. 

After Steve assured me about a thousand times that it was pretty, I started work on the necklace.  I liked that a lot better.

I stitched a double spiral using all of the beads shown above.  The core beads (the ones in the pile on the right in that picture way up there) matched the key perfectly.  The key has some spots that look gray and some that look a little bit antique gold or brass, and these 8/0 beads have some that look gray and some that look a little bit antique gold or brass.  It's a pity that you don't see more of them in the necklace.

When I started stitching, I wasn't planning on doing a double spiral.  I thought a regular spiral (see my Anatomy of a Spiral post for a refresher on what spirals normally look like) would be just fine, but after a number of rows, I thought it looked a little bland for this key.  I added a second spiral for each row of just seed beads, but instead of going through four core beads I went through five.  If that makes no sense to you, don't worry.  The end result is that it looks a little intertwined, and the 4mm crystals are pushed up a little.  I'm very happy with how it turned out:

To mimic the pink ribbons in Tammy's bead, every fifth row or so the double spiral is all pink for a ribbon of pink throughout the length of the necklace.

When I added the key, I wanted to preserve its shape.  Instead of just having a string of beads on either side or a single bail in the center, I stitched two new spirals off of the original spiral that nestle in the curves of the key:

The trickiest part was keeping everything tight.  I went through each of the cores a few times to make sure the weight of the key wouldn't stretch things out. 

After getting past the second bail, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the necklace:

The necklace is a little over 23" long.  I wish I had bought another strand of crystals so it could have been longer.  I do have some that I'm going to put into a matching bracelet, but there really aren't enough.

Now that it's all together, I love the necklace, and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it.  The pictures really don't do it justice.

Thank you, Tammy, for creating such a beautiful, inspiring key!

If you'd like to check out what Tammy does, go to her website and her Etsy shop!


  1. Hey Traci, Happy Birthday and thank you for making my key into such a beautiful finished piece of wearable art! I love the contrast between the varied sizes of beads you used in the rope.....being a lamp work artist I can't even imagine how you tiny bead experts have the patience for such a process but the results are fantastic! You aren't alone in having struggles capturing the true nature of the bead colors.....but I remember my bead (they are like children) and you did a really great job choosing your beads to enhance it. Love the double bail so well with that special key shape. Borosilicate glass can be easily overwhelmed by things around it and you nailed it perfectly....making sure the key and bead were still the focal but at the same time weaving such beauty around it. I can't wait to see it in person! If at some point you would trust me with it I could have Rick try his photography on it. No guarantees but he has struggled with my glass photos and has really come a long way to mastering the "capture" process of the elusive Boro. Thank you again!! Seriously beautiful Traci!

    1. Thanks, Tammy! I was so nervous that you wouldn't like it, so I'm thrilled that you think I "nailed it perfectly"! Yes, I would totally trust you with it so Rick could take pictures. I get copies of the pictures, right? :)

  2. Absolutely! Thank you again for doing such a great piece of art using one of my lamp work pieces....looking forward to seeing what you will do with the next piece of glass. :-)