What A Bitch THAT Was

No other way to say it. This piece was a challenge, all right.

This great mosaic of all the Red Challenge entries was pulled together by Carol Dean, aka SandFibers, one of my fellow New Mexican Etsians and a founding mama of the Etsy Beadweavers' Street Team. My hat's off to her for all the energy and effort she puts into our Team.

I hope she and MaryLou, aka Time2Cre8, know how much we all appreciate them- this dynamic duo handles most of the heavy lifting for our group's blog and Yahoo Group forum.

Voting has ended.

(I came in second!! Thanks for the votes, guys!!)

But that's not what I called you here for.

This is the story behind the picture in my previous posting. Just in case there's any lingering doubt that everything always works just swell from start to finish, I'm here to put that little myth to rest.

When I first started work on my entry for the Red Challenge, I decided to cannibalize some fairly ugly beaded beads and make them all into leaves. They're fun to put together and work up quickly, as these things go. I thought they'd mount easily on a netted base, so I hauled out my transparent garnet seed beads and made this Very Wide band.

Little did I suspect what I'd let myself in for.

First off, the band was too wide. After mounting a few of the leaves on there I realized the band was too dark. I opted to do something lighter and brighter in color as well as more narrow, so the leaves would cluster more effectively.

Instead of using a netted base (my original intention, which I should have held to), I did a peyote band in transparent bright red. Wrestling with needle, thread and bead, I found that I had to mount the leaves by sewing them down in such a way that had the thread showing on the underside, where it would be vulnerable to wear. Also, the act of sewing them down had me catching the tips of the leaves each time, tangling the thread and making the process very slow. As in, working on this part an hour or so every night for several days. I got the big leaves tacked down and did a bit of fill-in stitching around them with fringe type leaves, and large seed beads to resemble berries.

The deadline to enter the challenge was now only a few hours away. Technically, the piece was finished, so I took my pictures, shoved the thing onto Etsy and entered the challenge.

Still, the problem of the thread showing on the back was irritating me. My solution? I thought it would be a simple matter to apply a little Fray Check to the threads showing. I underestimated how quickly it would stream out of the bottle. It went everywhere. When it dried, it left a film on all the large accent beads. I got back on Etsy and edited the description to say the bracelet was unavailable. I spent about four hours peeling the dried film off not only the big beads, but a good bit of the leaves as well. I ended up using a toothbrush to get it out from between the little seed beads.

All that Fray Check resulted in the bracelet becoming very stiff. So stiff, in fact, that the button closure became impossible to manipulate. Two more hours were spent in changing them out and adding in a copper snap closure. This made the bracelet longer and gave me a very sloppy fit. I had to remove several rows of the base band from both ends and reattach the findings. It was still a little big.

To counter this problem, and take care of the back of the bracelet (which still looked horrid), I figured I could back it with a piece of deerskin. I don't have any in red, but I did have a piece in a sort of warm caramel color that I felt would work.

I glued the leather down the center of the piece and whip-stitched the edges together. The leather peeked out here and there between the leaves, and sure enough - it looked ghastly.

To fix this, I felt I could dye the leather to a shade of red with Something - I mean, I have boxes and boxes of paints and markers - I reasonably expected I'd lay my hands on just the right thing. Several hours of rooting through my stash left me frustrated. Not a drop of red in sight. Ready to tear my hair out, it was definitely Time For A Break.

I had to take care of some filing up in my office, and while in there I happened to notice one of my lesser purchases - a printer ink refill kit I bought over two years ago which proved to be the messiest and most fruitless thing I'd ever tried. I kept the bottles of ink to use with stamp pads and for refilling my calligraphy pens. What the hell, I thought. Photo Magenta would have to do.

I dribbled it on around the edge and to my great relief, it worked. I covered the whole surface with the ink, turning the golden deerskin blood red. It dried beautifully, but my new concern was if the color will rub off on my wrist. I rinsed the whole piece in cold water and watched a lot of red go swirling down the drain. I kept on rinsing it until the water ran clear. After the dripping stopped, I laid it out on a paper towel. Here's the result:

Which caused me FURTHER alarm.

Total time to get to this point? Twenty hours spread out over two weeks (with a fair bit of serious drinking interspersed between the work sessions).

If I had to do this over, I'd mount the leaves on a netted base. The piece would keep its flexibility, I'd be able to do a button closure, there'd be no need for backing and the whole piece would have taken about ten hours less.

The good news is that once it was completely dry I wore it all day and not a whisper of red transfered to my skin. And now that I've worn it for a while, I kinda like it. I might just have to hang on to it a little longer.


  1. Great story, morwyn...man, are you patient and persistent! About the time the fray check spilled, I'd have dumped the whole thing!

  2. Good grief, Morwyn! You had me in "stitches" here which is not a good thing because I ache all over today. Gosh, I laughed so hard.

    That bracelet is gorgeous no matter what you had to do to get it done!

    Kathy V in NM

  3. I'm glad you finally came to a place where you like the finished bracelet because it's *stunning*. Kudos on sticking with it!

  4. oh my gosh!! I thought I was the only one that created messes before FINALLY finishing pieces.I enjoyed a Great Laugh at your expense. hugs, dawn

  5. Wow. I'll never mind a little setback again. And I would have thrown the whole thing away long before you even got to the fray check but it certainly turned out beautifully in the end.

  6. That's some story! It's amazing how persistent and stubborn we beaders can be when we know something's not quite right. I'm glad you stuck with it, because I like the end result!


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