It started with an idea for an exhibition challenge- no voting, no winners, no prizes. I wanted us to celebrate creativity and beading as an art form. Participants must use something from the kit in their beadwork and incorporate beadweaving techniques.

I threw down the challenge, chose the ocean for inspiration…

and put together the kits…

Amy Royster

I took my challenge beads to a bead retreat and I wouldn’t allow myself to work on anything else until it was finished, or at least almost finished. When I saw the colors together, I instantly thought of ocean waves. When I think of waves, I see a dark blue at the base, getting gradually lighter and culminating with the white caps at the tips. I attempted to simulate that with a spiral rope, the darkest blue in the middle of the rope getting gradually lighter with the whites at the ends of the spiral. I was very pleased with the outcome and decided that I needed some kind of “sand” for the back of my “ocean”. I checked my stash, and found that I didn’t bring along anything that closely resembled “sand”. It was at that time, that one of the ladies mentioned that she wanted to go to the bead store down the road, so I jumped at the chance. It took a little searching, but I finally decided on the 8° hex cut light topaz beads.

Once back at the retreat, I played around with Marcia DeCoster’s Romantica component. One of the gals said “It’s too bad that there’s not 5 points on that thing. Then it would look like a starfish”. That’s when it hit me! I would make the back of the necklace out of a string of starfish. As I was working those, I decided that I wanted to show a starfish in the waves. Once that was done, I felt it really needed something else. I showed my progress to the others and it was unanimous, it just needed something… I racked my brain and my beads to see what I could come up with. I found some bright red Delicas and thought…. Hmmm I wonder if I could find a pattern for a small crab or lobster. I checked online and there it was, on a Marta Stewart page, a beaded crab. It was tiny and cute and absolutely perfect for what I wanted! (I LOVE his little beaded eyes!) I also made coordinating earrings.

Cheryl Norwood

Title: Dolphins Jumping for Joy
When I was a little girl, I got to visit the California beach quite often because my Dad’s brother lived in the Los Angeles area. We would visit them at least every other summer if not every one, and of course when we went out there we would go to the beach which was a lot of fun!

I grew up and got married and haven’t been back to the California beach in awhile. However, we moved to South Texas just 15 minutes from the Gulf Coast. My first visit to the Gulf was quite amazing! It was different from the California beach. The Gulf wasn’t nearly the blue water as the Ocean in California and the sand or beach was more rocky than just sand. But the most amazing thing to me was that you could walk out on this jetty and at a certain time of day you could watch the Dolphins jumping out of the water and doing their little tricks! So, this is what I tried to capture on my bracelet….The Dolphins Jumping for Joy!

Lauren Yodzio Gil Design

Title: Sea Foam
I started the piece inspired by the waves and color of the bead collection. My initial thought was to create a necklace that represented the bubbles in the ocean as a fish, diver, or sea creature expels air. The way the bubbles rise to the surface made me think of jelly fish. The focal piece is the lovely hand crafted lamp work bead by Bonnie Beard interpreted as a jelly fish swimming to the surface.

I’ve been beading for about 6 years now. Enjoying creating and learning new techniques. I don’t have a website, but happy to hear from beaders around the world at laurenyodzio (at) gmail (dot) com.

Megan Sears-Mowinski

Title: Turtle Splash
My name is Megan Sears-Mowinski, I’m 27 years old and live in Roseville, MI. Make sure to Look out for my upcoming website Keys 4 Kures within the next month! Until then, I can be reached at keys4kures (at) gmail (dot) com.

When deciding which bead stitch for this challenge, I automatically thought of a netting stitch. With the different blues and white/clear I felt with a vertical netting stitch I could make a beautiful pattern that reminds me of the ocean waves. I also came across the Turtles, and teal and aqua pearls at my favorite bead and craft store. As soon as I spotted them I knew they’d make a beautiful addition to my necklace.

Marilou Porth

This challenge was much harder for me than I imagined it would be. The colors, especially the white was problematic. Having color-lined beads made it a little more challenging too! I added some rizos and delicas in the aqua color. I also added some ab crystal spikes, some matte 6mm round beads, opalite beads of various sizes and shapes as well as Swarovski 4470 rounded squares.

The design is from a class I taught several years ago–Vintage Treasure Necklace. I was surprised at the easy way the toggle and clasp came together. I’m going to have to use that mariner’s wheel design again. The colors alone are indicative of the beach as are the small treasures. A beachcombers dream? Maybe! Making the various dangling treasures was a lot of fun! I ultimately enjoyed the experience and hope to participate in such challenges in the future.

Teresa Salas

Bonnie Blue lives in the ocean and enjoys spending her days horsing around. She was created using all the bead types in the kit and 6 small pearls, which were used for air bubbles.

The ocean and the life that it holds has always been a fascination for me so this fun challenge was a joy. Thanks for pushing me into the deep end.

Chris Pratt

When I saw the beads in the kit I immediately thought of the white foam on waves crashing into the beach. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do until I found this sand dollar. (Found in a craft store that is!)

After experimenting with several types of spirals and bead combinations I settled on a basic DNA spiral – a classic. The sand dollar was glued to stiff Pellon and I started beading around it until it looked ‘right’. Thanks for the challenge – it was fun!

Ralonda Patterson

Every shade of blue has its own inspiration and calls for a new direction. Its intensity changes from the depths of the ocean to the current of a river. The swirls of the lamp-worked art bead by Bonnie Beard took me to a place of swirling currents and eddies of water. The cone found in Kate McKinnon’s new book, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, was the perfect technique to create soft and inviting swirls and currents that would capture your imagination and take you to a soft and serene place.

What do you think?

Thank you so much to all the participants! I love every single story and project. To all those viewing the exhibition, please feel free to leave comments about the pieces that speak to you, and if you think this is something I should do again. -Mandi