Gift Horse Purse, Bound for Tokyo

Prep drawing, graphite does not always scan well.

My newest piece, commissioned by a gallery in Tokyo.  This is the original drawing in my sketchbook, the general idea I began with.  The gallery wanted a purse that would be about the size of a traditional mirror bag portraying a ledger style image of a native man and a horse.  I find that  it helps immensely to have a detailed drawing to guide the general image and preserve details that would be sorely missed.  However, I always choose to draw in black and white.  The process of choosing beads has as much to do with bead quality as color.  The luster, size and overall quality of the bead  are as important as color shade.  Sketching in color is just an exercise in futility since I can’t mix the color of the bead.  Which is why I buy so very many colors of beads, every size and luster.  Utilizing so many disparate types and sizes of beads, as well as a very long list of colors, can make final decisions on color time consuming and confusing.  I think the variety is worth the effort.

To begin beading an image on wool I transfer the image to tracing paper.

To begin I pick a good starting point, usually the hair.  My reasoning is that the face is what makes or breaks the image.  With beadwork you want to execute the areas that would be the most forward in real life, hence the hair that will overlap the face and the clothes.  First hair, then face, then shirt, etc….

Then more….

My life in slow motion.

I carve out each section of tracing paper, exposing the area I want to fill in with beads.

While the image of the man doesn’t have that many square inches of beadwork compared to other projects, each bead is placed with meticulous care.  A lot of planning goes into decisions concerning color, direction, flow, texture.  For figures like this I tend to use micro beads and vintage beads in addition to my regular stockpile to achieve detail density.  Is that a real term?

Here I begin the process of turning the beaded image into a functional item.  The interior has had silk lining basted in, both front and back panels have had grommet like holes created to pass the strap through.  The entire pile of layers is basted together to preserve the relative positions.  On to edging with more beadwork, satin ribbon, horse hair fobs, worked hide.

And finally, finished product. Gift Horse, 2011Commissioned by Little Coyote Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.       This purse is finished with a combination of modern and traditional techniques blended to become a kind of reservation style evening wear.  The pierced style braintanned hide fobs on the bottom handle, and drops on the side of the purse are a traditional practice.  The horse hair fobs with glass and brass beads add a more western touch.

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