Friday 17 June 2011

Art Bead Scene monthly challenge June 2011

Ophelia by Odilon Redon
c. 1900-05; Pastel on paper mounted on board, 19 7/8 x 26 1/2 in; The Woodner Collection 

Doubt that the sun doth move; 
Doubt truth to be a liar, 
But never doubt I love. 
O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have 
not art to reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, 
O most best, believe it. Adieu. 
Thine evermore, most dear lady...

I don't usually buy art beads specifically for the ABS projects – I see it as part of the challenge to find an appropriate piece from my bead stash - it's not like I don't have a few to choose from when all said an done! But the day after this months challenge was published, I was browsing for ceramics on Etsy and came across this beautiful bead from Grace Smith which just stopped me in my tracks...

I couldn't believe how strongly it resembled Ophelia's face in the painting - the closed eyes, the same calm expression, the same sense of serenity... The bead is made from earthenware, clear glazed and finished with a final platinum glaze which has given it an almost wet-look lustre. It could easily have been made just for this challenge so I had to have it.

This is how it looks in my finished necklace.

Normally my starting point for these creations is to work from the colour palette and gather together  possible components to match the artwork and complement the focal bead. The palette for this month leans towards strong yellows and blues.

But with this painting, I found that it wasn't the colours that were inspiring me so much as the overall tenor of the painting. Despite the fact that the subject matter is suicide by drowning, it has an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility (perfectly illustrating why we say 'at peace' when someone is released from suffering) and, because the focal shares this characteristic I felt the addition of too much strong colour could be jarring, so I decided to keep it minimal and simple...

The colours are there but more as accents than as the stars of the show. I used large wire links to attach the focal and represent the circular motion evident in the painting along with two lampwork beads with encased silver bubbles to add to the watery effect. The black silk ribbon represents Ophelia's flowing hair and also gives a nod to the rite of mourning.

Ultimately, Grace's art bead really is the focal that carries this piece and I didn't want to do anything to overshadow it. I love it and I hope you (and Grace) do too.

Orange Rustic Star Dust beads - Miss Fickle Media
Silver bubble lampwork beads - Sally Carver
Black hand dyed silk ribbon - Diane Turton
Black brass wire and jump rings - Fallen Angel Brass

You can see the other entries for the ABS June challenge at the Flickr group Art Bead Scene challenge


  1. Absolutely gorgeous, this is spot on for the challenge!
    Deb x

  2. Isn't it awesome when you find just the perfect bead! I like your description of the design process, and what you didn't do is just as important as what you did do! It's just the right balance, the colors are there, as you say, and the ribbon just completes the story! Very impressive!

  3. Wow beautifully gorgeous!!!

  4. Awesome job. Perfect for the challenge!

  5. That face bead is amazing. I can see why you had to buy her. Lovely interpretation.

  6. I agree the face bead perfectly embodies Ophelia. Beautiful!

  7. you did find a prefect focal !!!
    and you created a perfect setting for it
    Just the right baloney of elements !!!
    LOVE this necklace !
    m.e. :)


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