Thursday, 28 June 2012

Elephant No. 270: Beaded Brooch

I bought a little pierced brooch frame about a year ago, but never got around to beading it, so it seemed like the thing to try for today's elephant.

I've covered the history of seed beads and the like in previous posts, so I'll just describe today's process here.

I had never tried one of these pierced beading forms before, so I had no idea what I was doing. One of the women in the shop where I bought it showed me something she'd made, and it sounded easy. When I was actually faced with using it, however, I wasn't exactly sure where to start. It didn't help that I couldn't find any instructions online. Then again, it might be because "brooch thing" and "pierced brooch frame thing" aren't very good search terms.

This is the brooch frame I had to work with. It measures about 4 cm (1.5 inches) in diameter and is silver plated.

For the elephant shape, I opted to use some inexpensive purple glass "crystals" I'd bought a few months back, mostly because they were pretty. To anchor the crystals, I chose some purple seed beads.

To attach the beads to the pierced half of the brooch frame, I decided to use coated beading wire. The type I used was a supple 19-strand Beadalon-brand wire measuring 0.3 mm (0.12 inch) in diameter—by the way, the more strands, the more supple it is. Another common name for this material is "tiger tail". You could also use any other fine wire, fishing line, or even strong thread. If you use thread, however, pulling it through beeswax or candle wax to strengthen it might not be a bad idea.

For each bead, I pulled the wire through one of the holes, poked it through the crystal, then through the seed bead. I then drew the wire back through just the crystal and down through the same hole. The seed bead is what keeps the wire from sliding back through the crystal and popping off.

After the first crystal, I tied a knot in the back, attaching the tail end of the wire to the working section of wire. Each time I attached a new piece of wire, I tied a knot in the back after the first crystal.

I started by forming the elephant. The holes are actually quite far apart, so it's hard with a frame this size to get much of a recognizable shape.

This is what the finished elephant head looked like. Meh.

For the background, I basically tore my hair out. Seed beads didn't cover the background, no matter how many different permutations I tried: two small beads in each hole; one medium bead and one small bead in each hole; beads carried across the gap from hole to hole. It took me nearly an hour before I finally gave up on a seed-beaded background and looked for some different crystals instead. I had a strand of clear glass bicones, so I used those, paired with the same colour of seed bead I'd used on the elephant.

These covered the frame well enough, but the issue I faced this time was that they were too big to stick in every hole. They were also too small to cover the gaps if I didn't try cramming one into every hole.

In the end, the brooch turned out well enough, but it irritated the heck out of me to make this. I don't like anything I have to undo and redo three times, so I took against the whole experience after awhile. It didn't help that I accidentally tipped a bunch of small beads onto the carpet. Perhaps it was just one of those days.

I think the final result is quite pretty, but I don't think it looks much like an elephant, despite my best efforts to push the crystals into place. The holes are just not quite right for a representational shape this small. At just over three hours, it also took a lot longer than I expected.

On the other hand, I'm not completely put off trying this again. I think it would be interesting attempt something slightly larger, with lots of rich colours. If I had lots of time, it might even be fun to experiment with different types of beads. Just not anytime soon.

Elephant Lore of the Day
My Italian neighbourhood has gone wild today with Italy's semi-final win over Germany in the Euro Cup, so today's elephant lore comes from the world of soccer.

During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the U.S. team was delayed twice on its way to the soccer pitch. The reason? Elephants.

The first incident occurred in the early afternoon, when an elephant stepped out of the woods near the team's hotel. Placidly blocking the road as it munched on nearby vegetation, the elephant apparently had no intention of moving until it was good and ready. Pre-warned by large signs around the hotel reading, "ELEPHANTS COME CLOSE TO OUR FENCE/KEEP A DISTANCE OF 30 METERS AND PLEASE BE QUIET", the team's bus came to a wary halt and waited in silence until the elephant chose to wander off.

When the team headed out of the hotel for a training session later that day, the same thing happened. As if it knew they were coming, a large bull elephant stepped out of the forest in the same spot, and began eating the same trees and shrubs.

Although the team suspected that it might be the same elephant, they were never entirely sure.

African elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa, 2010.
Photo: Gaelyn

To Support Elephant Welfare
Elephant sanctuaries (this Wikipedia list allows you to click through to information
on a number of sanctuaries around the world)
Wildlife Trust of India

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