Saturday, September 1, 2012

Challenge of Travel

Leave it to Erin Prais-Hintz and Marcie Abney to come up with another wonderful challenge for us.  This time, it is a Challenge of Travel -- our chance to experience a new location through beads.  It might not be the same as actually being there, but it's a start.  :)

I chose Japan.  I've always loved different parts of Japanese culture and was excited to learn more.  A few things came right to mind:  sushi, cherry blossoms, anime, karate and kimonos.

In the early centuries, Japan adopted many parts of Chinese culture and early kimono styles were influenced by Chinese clothing.

A traditional kimono is made from one bolt of material which is stitched together and folded around the body.  The obi holds the drapes together.  The fabric, pattern and color all hold significance.

I intended to make a necklace that incorporated the folds of the kimono, but it fell short.  I still wanted to make something inspired by a kimono.

I remembered a book I picked up on a trip to New York a few years ago.

The book is entirely in Japanese.  I still bought it because the miniature beaded dresses are amazing.  As luck would have it, the book contained a pattern for a beaded kimono.  I looked at the pattern (written in Japanese) and thought "how hard can this be?"  Um, how about *really* hard?

Truthfully, it wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be.  The pattern was well drawn and easy to follow.  As I started beading, the kimono began to take shape and it even started to make sense.  :)

The back of the obi features a small bow.

I really love the way this turned out and am dying to try a few more dresses in the book.  (I haven't mentioned this to the kiddo, but there is a Snow White dress in the book that looks amazing.)

I didn't have time to order a miniature dress form, so I made my one by chopping up a wine cork.  If you look closely, you can see the tan of the cork through the holes in the beading.

While the kimono was fun to make, I still wanted to make a piece of jewelry for the challenge.  I was inspired by the Japan's flag, the Hinomaru, which means "circle of the sun."

I used a 12mm rivoli to represent the sun and attached it to a copper pendant.

Japan is often called "the land of the rising sun."  The Japanese words for Japan are "nippon" and "nihon," which mean "the sun's origin."  I wanted to create the colors of a sunrise on the copper, so I grabbed my small torch and went to work.  

This was my first attempt at heat patina and it will not be my last.  It was so much fun watching the oranges, reds and blues appear on the metal, almost like "painting" the metal.

You can see a bit of the color variation in the close ups.

You can also see a small hole in the corner of the pendant.  Originally, I wanted to rivet the copper piece to a leather backing.  After I punched the holes, I thought it might look more "finished" if I beaded a bezel for the pendant.  I ended up adding a few extra beads on the corners to cover those pesky holes.

With the pendant finished, I started on a simple spiral rope.

I used this awesome tutorial by Heather Powers on the Art Bead Scene Blog to create my clasp.  I added a heat patina to the clasp as well.

The end result:

I could not be more pleased with this necklace.  I tried a few new techniques and was able to incorporate some metal work into my beading.  The oranges and reds remind me of the rising sun and I hope the pendant is reminiscent of Japan's flag.  

Erin and Marcie, thank you for such an awesome challenge.  I love the extra "push" these challenges seem to give me.  For more awesome designs, check out Erin's blog or hop over to the rest of the participants below:

Monique Urquhart
Niky Sayers
Therese Frank
Raychelle Heath
Joan Williams
Sherri Stokey
Regina Santerre
Raida Disbrow
Kristi Wodek
Sally Russick
Melissa Trudinger
Tracy Stillman
Sandra Wolberg
Tanya Goodwin
Susan Kennedy
Beth Emery
Lisa Cone
Tanya Boden
Inge von Roos
Erin Prais-Hintz
Dee Elgie
Carolyn Lawson
Lisa Stukel
Elly Snare
Shelley Graham Turner
Mallory Hoffman
Paige Maxim
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson
Evelyn Shelby
Holly Westfall
Rebecca Siervaag
Toltec Jewels
Lee Koopman
Laren Dee Barton
Cindy Wilson
Kathleen Lange Klik
Shaiha Williams
Jennifer Justman
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca
Lola Surwillo
Kim Hora
Leanne Loftus
Patti Vanderbloemen
Marcie Carroll
Marlene Cupo
Ine Vande Cappelle
Tammie Everly
Alice Peterson
Elisabeth Auld
Susan McClelland
D Lynne Bowland
Denielle Hagerman
Rebecca Anderson
Mischelle Fanucchi
Kari Asbury
Cece Cormier
Emma Todd
Debbie Price


  1. These are both just beyond words, Tanya! The necklace is exquisite, and the kimono is so intricate too. You continue to amaze me with your work!

  2. Wow, the miniature kimono is fabulous! And I love your necklace, yes it does evoke the flag very well!

  3. First, I was blown away by the miniature kimono - I do not know how you seed beaders do this!!! And to follow a pattern b pictures alone...ugh..I could NOT do this! Beautiful! But your necklace is just stunning! Love the heat patina you gave the copper, but then to put the "sun" in the middle - and create a beaded bezel...gorgeous! I also noted the use of pearls in your beaded rope - simply gorgeous!

  4. I'm in love with the beaded kimono!!

  5. That beaded kimono dress is unbelieveable! I am in awe of seed beaders. My eyes could not handle this task and I have a deep respect for those who can do such precise work. Kudos! Your necklace is just beautiful. I love the simplicity which also seems to reflect the vibration of that culture. So many things Japanese use the simplest of designs to create beautiful art. Well done!

  6. That beaded kimono is fabulous and the fact that you followed a pattern in a foreign language blows me away. You could have stopped there, my friend, but you kept on going! The Japanese flag is so clearly your inspiration in this beautiful necklace. And you even tried something new! So happy joined me on this journey! Enjoy the day. Erin

  7. Props to you for "reading" the instructions! Wow! Thats amazing! Your necklace - also very nicely done and a great reference to the flag.

  8. Love that kimono -so unusual. Also great to read your inspiration and steps for putting that lovely necklace together.

  9. cute kimono :) but I love the necklace.

  10. Tanya, I am (nearly) speechless... O.K., not while I am still alive LOL. These two creations quite simply took my breath away... I was amazed by your diminutive kimono, then equally thrilled with your elegant flag. Simplicity is extremely difficult; you have made it look easy, Tanya. The spirit of Japan truly inhabits these works of art. Bravo!

  11. Wow! That kimono is just incredible. I can't handle those little beads and to imagine someone doing so while dealing with a foreign language just blows me away.

  12. As someone who is pretty much just a stringer, I can't even wrap my mind around how you made that kimono, and from instructions that weren't even in English! Amazing work on both pieces.

  13. That mini kimono is so cool! Love both of the designs.

  14. Wow, that beaded Kimono is so creative and cute, and you beaded following Japanese instructions. Now that's what I call a travel challenge, finding yourself in a place that no one speaks English, in your case a book. Love the necklace too, you did very well with both pieces. Happy beading!

  15. Tanya, the kimono is amazing ---I want to see the snow white one too!! I love your beadwork and hope someday I have time to sit down and learn more. I always leave here shaking my head at your talent!! Love it.

  16. The kimono is cute, but what you did with the necklace is really stunning! The heat patina, the beading, the meaning behind the choices you made -- WOW!

  17. Beading artists have my profound admiration. Absolutely amazing workmanship. Congratulations.

  18. I love the necklace. The kimono is cute too..

  19. I think that Kimono is so cute.. YOu did a really good job! I have two books in japanese too... Some year I'll have to see if I really can make something by following the pictures!

  20. What a darling little Kimono! And I'm so amazed you were able to make one despite the fact the directions were in Japanese!

    Your necklace is beautiful, and your beadwork is fabulous!

  21. Hi Tanya,
    Thank you so much for taking me on a wonderful and enlightning trip to Japan. I love the beaded Kimono I don't know if I could even get an 1/8th of that done. I love the gorgeous necklace and pendant you did to represent the flag of Japan and it's meaning. Wonderful job on both.

  22. OH my gosh, what a beautiful little kimono! And the necklace is amazing! Gorgeous work!

  23. Wow, your beadwork is amazing. I just love your little kimono and your necklace is beautiful!

  24. I love the clasp and the wonderful colors you used in your necklace. This is a piece that I would wear all the time!

  25. Your necklace is beautiful. Loved how the inspiration inspired this piece. Also, very impressed with your beaded kimono dress!!

  26. Are you serious - a bead woven kimono? It is all kinds of AWESOME but I really think there needs to be a study on the mind of a seed bead weaver ...would be very interesting as you all possess talent and PATIENCE (not to mention keen eyes!) that I can only dream about. KUDOs to you!

  27. WOW, how cool is that beaded kimono! Very, very cool. I can't remember the name of the book I bought my mum a few years ago, all about some famous Kimono series - the pictures are incredible. Love what you've shown us of Japan

  28. Amazing! The kimono dress is really spectacular. I am in awe over this beautiful creation; the technique and patience to create this mini masterpiece is very impressive! The necklace that you created is absolutely gorgeous. Love the heat patina copper and the rising sun symbol in the center, really beautiful representation of Japan. Both pieces are stunning!

  29. What a great job on this challenge!!! I love that kimono - that book looks amazing!!! And I truly love your interpretation of the flag with that pendant. Great, talented, unique creativity!!!