Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fried Brain Beading

What do you do when your brain is fried? Beading can be therapeutic as I’ve written before but a fried brain presents unique problems. First, let me explain what I mean by a “fried brain”. This is typically a result of extreme stress, the kind that happens when very important things in your life are not going well like disasters, health issues for loved ones, beloved pets are sick, etc. You feel like your adrenaline is on high alert, your stomach keeps doing summersaults, and you are generally on edge. Beading can provide a refuge and a way to calm your mood and mind. But, if you are like me, you “bead your own thing”. Even if you are following a pattern, there are many changes, the least of which is color. But when your brain is fried it is difficult if not impossible to make good design decisions (at least for me). I know from the past that I have a strong tendency to make bad decisions when I am in this condition. So…. What to do?
I know that doing beadwork will help my stress level and be a calming influence so I Really Want to bead! Here was my solution.

First, I go through my stash and pick something I like and will enjoy working with. I have numerous strands of chevron amethyst in many shapes of puffed, flat beads. I selected an assortment of these in various sizes and shapes. For the surrounding beadwork, I am going to stay monochromatic in purple and include a gold metallic accent. (easy, safe decisions here…)

Next, as far as what I want to create, I know it needs to be something on the large side; a bib or collar type of large. Why? Because I want it to be a big project. I want it to take time. This needs to occupy me for a while because I know this brain-fry won’t be leaving soon….

So, with these parameters, I am going to rely on the tip in the asymmetrical bib project (pg 93) in Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects. This tip says that you can start with a bib shape and fit the focals (which requires planning)…. OR… start with a collection of focals and see what shape that presents (no planning). No-planning sounds just right for me now so that is where I start, my selection of chevron amethyst focals. I have roughly 15 of them selected and most of them are on the large side (30 to 40mm). I will bead each of these as separate components and worry about how this will all work later. This helps with two things. First, I can easily create each component so there is a satisfying comfort level there. I can just enjoy the process. Second I get a steady sense of accomplishment as I complete each component. I can spend my time in a comfort level and delay any design decisions until I think I am ready for them.

You may think I need to plan this out but I don’t. Once I have all my components done I’ll work on how it is all going to be assembled. If my design requires a few more, I can make more. If I have leftover components, they can easily be worked into other items (as mentioned in the discussion of pieced totems vs consolidated backing totems, pg 37 the last point). As such, I have a sense of freedom and relief from making a bad decision! How great… I don’t have to “work smart”!

This was great therapy, with my beading providing a refuge from chaos and stress. Finally I had the components beaded. I grabbed my neck form page (pg 12) and played with layouts. Originally I wanted to do something asymmetrical, but I think my objective in providing some order into my life over-rode that. So here is my creation. I am pleased with it.

Just in case you were doing the math, I did have 2 pieces left over….. which were two 30mm round pieces. So here is what I did with them ( you may recognize they are variations of projects on pgs 34 and 45).

If you do bead embroidery, you can duplicate this process. If you don’t do bead embroidery, you can still bead with a fried brain… simply pick one of your favorite beaded bead or other component style beading projects and do a bunch of the parts. Assemble them later when your brain can handle it and your journey will often help to get your brain un-fried faster than if you weren’t beading.