Some of you will know that I’ve been working hard this year on a piece for the annual Stitch N Craft Challenge. Stitch N Craft are probably the leading bead shop in the UK for bead weavers, and every year they run a different challenge. Sometimes it’s for multiple related pieces, sometimes one, sometimes there are provided components to work in (usually Swarovski) and sometimes none. This year it was a single piece, and just a tiny Swarovski butterfly to work in. We had to make a piece inspired by a British butterfly and its habitat, with an accompanying sketchbook explaining the piece and what we’d learnt about the butterfly. I’m really thrilled to say that my piece ‘Semele’s Cuff’ won the professional category, which is a great honour and delight.
When I have more time, I’ll write more about the butterfly I chose, and give you more details about the piece, but for now, here are some images and a very quick description:
‘Semele’s Cuff’ is inspired by the sand dunes of our annual extended family holiday location, Old Hunstanton in North Norfolk. I’m typing from there now, and we were here last year when Stitch N Craft announced the 2016 theme.
The dunes here are full of maram grass, sea holly, and other interesting coastal plants, and were attracting lots of butterflies.
I was inspired straight away by the gorgeous silvery grey spiked Sea Holly, and after some design detours created the cuff base, which is a zigged peyote round with herringbone increases creating spikes, using some of the techniques explored by beaders like Jean Power and Kate McKinnon and the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork crew.
The sea holly is topped by a band of Grayling butterflies, with their beautiful mottled outer wings, balancing on the MRAW points and hovering above six beaded beads representing the Sea Holly flowers.
There are three sets of beaded beads, each pair worked in reversed colours in shades of silver and mauve – a pair of fringed beads using a variant on my usual design, and two brand new designs, one using cut and knotted threads over a peyote base to create a ‘hairy beaded bead’ and the other a 3/5 ball using spiky buttons which I am especially pleased with.
The cuff is named ‘Semele’s Cuff’ as the Latin name of the Grayling concerned is ‘Hipparchia Semele’. Semele, (according to Ovid, the mother of Bacchus by Jupiter) is the subject of one of my favourite Handel Operas, and I love the idea of her wearing this cuff while she sings ‘Endless Pleasure, Endless Love’!