Before July passed to far in the rearview mirror, I thought perhaps we should cap off the month with a review of the July Art Bead Scene challenge.
Our inspiration for the month was “Fireworks at Ryogoku” No. 98 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 8th month of 1858 by Utagawa Hiroshige. This is a fine woodblock print in the classic Japanese tradition. Earlier this year I fell in love with the work of Gustave Baumann who captured the Midwest and Western US in glorious woodblock images. For that reason alone I have a soft spot for the artform and was excited to work with this piece. It was custom at the time for boats to float on the Sumida River to enjoy summer evenings and host spectacular fireworks at dusk. Entertainment, food, and drink made for a pleasant diversion during summer. The artist was reknown for his landscape prints, often featuring birds and flowers. This was among the last of his works.
One thing you’ll notice right away is that there’s not much color. The print is saturated in dark tones with brief bursts of color. Because I don’t tend to make pieces that are very dark, I wanted to try with this challenge. Here is the necklace that I designed.
I used a lily pendant from Humblebeads which was in a destash bundle of beads I bought earlier this year. The dark grey/teal of the pendant matched with the print very well and I thought the floral sketch yielded an oriental feel. To pair with the pendant, I used a strand of rough-cut dark aquamarine stones that I found in Cincinnati this spring. The colors melded beautifully with the pendant and reminded me of the dark liquid tones of deep water. To flesh out the design I used Hill Tribe silver spacers, beads, and clasp which are stamped with a little floral design on them that echoed the oriental inspiration. It’s a little heavier than designs I usually create, but the silver helps lighten the overall piece and I’m rather pleased. I had originally planned to use just a few of the aquamarine stones, but when I saw how lovely they were with the pendant, I decided to string the whole necklace with them. I hope I can find some more! They are a bit darker in life than the picture shows, with incredible rich colors.
Unfortunately I could not make the stones work in an earring design – they were just too big for that. Instead I used some glass Czech beads in dark grey/purple finish. I used them as dangles and thought they looked like umbrella-type buildings that are popular in eastern architecture. They are paired with a couple different beads in teal hues (one of my favorite colors so I have lots of beads to choose from!) and more silver spacers.
I’m really enjoying the selections of art this year – not so much for the art itself, but for how it inspires and makes me think of designing jewelry in new ways. I’ve already had a peak at August’s art and it’s going to a fun challenge too and make me exercise my creative muscles. Maybe you’ll play along too?
Blessings to you,