Monday, June 7, 2010

"The Way to My Heart", Bead Dreams 2010

UPDATE: I originally wrote this post before I found out that this piece won second place in the Metal Clay category of Bead Dreams 2010 (calloo! callay!). For photos from the actual exhibit (including photos of some of the other entries), please go here.

As I understand it, the 2010 Bead Dreams Exhibit will open tomorrow in Milwaukee, so I thought I would go ahead and unveil my two pieces that made the finals in the Metal Clay category. Here's the first one, entitled "The Way to My Heart". This pendant is a three dimensional maze, assembled entirely by hand, out of a multitude of (irritatingly small) pieces of metal clay

As with the binary code, I've always felt that maze designs have pure graphic appeal - similar to, say, a Greek key design. In the beginning, my ambitions were modest:

Here's my original maze design from 2007. Simple, sweet, not even all that difficult to solve. I always sort of had my eye on similar designs, though, especially since my son has been fascinated by these types of puzzles since long before he could say the word "puzzle".

When I started making boxes at the beginning of last year, I found I really enjoyed the whole process of building them. It wasn't long before I had this really wild idea (wild for me, anyway) that these techniques could be used to make other complex shapes, like, well, mazes. I jotted the idea down in my notebook - then let it percolate for another year, as I was too scared to try making one.

As it is, I'm not ashamed to say that this piece really kicked my posterior. Designing the maze was reasonably straightforward. Translating it into clay was not. The amount of clay I had to gather just to roll out the base made me say naughty things. Pieces were measured, re-measured, measured one last time, then cut. Due to the close proximity of the pieces, I had to assemble the pendant a layer at a time, finishing each section before moving on to the next. Each section I completed, I was aware that an incautious move could obliterate hours of work, not to mention a huge investment in the clay itself. This whole process made me sweat.

Timing was a bear. This was the second of the two pieces I made for competition, and I didn't have much free time for anything by the time I started working on this one. It took me weeks of intermittent work to complete. That I actually finished the piece before the deadline had everything to do with the fact that my in-laws were visiting over Easter and that they and my husband took the SO to the zoo that weekend which gave me a solid five hours on my own, during daylight hours, to finish the piece.

I have no objectivity when it comes to this one. I really have no idea if it has any chance of placing in the contest or not. I will say, though, that, as far as I'm concerned, this is the stuff for which contests are made, at least from the standpoint of the entrant - I learned a lot making this piece and traveled well beyond my comfort zone. I'm very proud of the result. So, if you will be in Milwaukee this week, please be on the look-out for "The Way to My Heart" in the Bead Dreams exhibit.

I'll unveil my second finalist piece tomorrow, so please come back!

Thanks for visiting.


Regina said...

Breathtaking, love the necklace! Love your work. The pendant is spectacular, beautifully done, worthy of the time and dedication it takes to make something so beautiful. What are the pink and black rondelles? Enjoy Milwaukee.

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

The pendant is absolutely gorgeous! The detail that went into it is mind boggling! I LOVE IT.

Christina J. said...

It's amazing, Melissa. I can see how much work went into it. I think I'm going to B&B on Friday, so I'll be on the lookout for it!

Melissa J. Lee said...

Thank you! Regina, I should have mentioned in the post - those are rose and smoky quartz. I think I profiled them on a post when I bought the strand last year, but of course I can't find the entry now...

TesoriTrovati said...

Truly remarkable, Melissa! I can't wait to see it in person at the show. I think you nailed it on the head...the challenge is not in winning but in overcoming obstacles, thinking outside the box and stretching yourself. How amazing your wings unfurl when you step off that ledge and fly! Congratulations Melissa. It is a winner in your heart (but I can't imagine it not winning in the contest too!)
Enjoy the day!

Saje said...

Unique i would say!! love the heart-maze pendant. You are so creative!!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, these are fantastic! I cannot imagine working in such tiny pieces to design that maze. Patience, perseverance and talent: a sure winner.


Caroline Fung - My Jewelry Journey said...

Congratulations on your placing in Bead Dreams 2010, Melissa. What an amazing creation! I love all your other work too - they're very unique. A truely deserving winner!

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

This is GREAT! Crongratulations, and a great post. Beautiful entry--I love it!!! xox jean

Unknown said...

I studied graphic design in school and can't get over this maze pendent! There is so much beauty in it's design. The detail in your work is fantastic. I've been beading online at Now I want to find a pendent to add to their beautiful beads.

Jeannie said...

This a maze ingly rocks sista.