Kate Tume led a 2020 workshop through TextileArtist.org‘s Stitch Club using beads and sequins to build up texture in a narrative form, and I finally had time to sit down with this idea. I’ve been a fan of hers since I came across her “A Benediction” piece. I didn’t follow the workshop’s theme of narrative, though. Instead, I opted to play with color and technique, thinking about the work of Sharon Boggon, such as her Beady Things in the Hoop post.
I mixed all sorts of embellishments here. The blue circular item was an old piece of vintage jewelry put together with rusty wire, replaced here with thread. Another piece of old jewelry I disassembled are the two beaded green mounds buried among everything.
I used very tiny buttons here and there. There are two fluffy flower buttons, too, as well as two green buttons with shanks, allowing them to stand up.
You’ll also find a few leaf shaped sequins, a flat round sequin, and two circular sequins with eyelets (one that I cut in half to use in two places), among the normal cupped sequins; these range from gold to blue to pinks. I also had some teeny tiny shell sequins to use.
There are shell beads, wood beads, and rock beads. Glass, metal, and plastic beads. Some are used singularly, others stacked or looped for three-dimensional texture. Sometimes I let these hang off the canvas, so to speak, just for more interest.
I finished it off with a few satin stitches and loads of colonial knots, French knots, and loose French knotty loops. It’s a very textural piece that begs to be explored with your finger tips.
In the end, I felt like I created something that was “procedurally generated” rather than with any interesting substance. Kate’s narrative theme would have prevented that, and I think I would have enjoyed the finished piece more.
That’s not to say I don’t like this; I do! What I find silly is that I had expected the work to be too tedious, and so I had chosen a very small hoop. In fact, I almost picked up my tiniest hoop, which is about 3″ I think, but settled on this oval shape which is about 4″ x 6″. And because of the size, I had abandoned the idea to use any type of narrative and practiced randomness (not as easy as you’d except, since the mind likes symmetry).
But looking at it now, I can see some missed opportunities! I want to play with this again and do a landscape, I think. Using blue sequences to trace out a river, then adding thread knots and small beads to build up a bank, and fading that into boulders and mountains at the edge. One more thing to go on my list of future projects! I think, aside from learning the importance of narrative (at least for me, since abstract isn’t my thing), my favorite take-away was seeing how my tiny velvet ropes turns into lush mossy texture by way of French knots.