Friday, September 19, 2008

Changing Horses in Midstream

It happens fairly often, I think, with artists. They have a vision and proceed with the project only to have it develop a mind of its own and come out with only a hazy resemblance to the original intention. I think of that as more of the pony fleshing out into a Percheron. You get used to it, just going with the flow.

I know false starts are par for the course and I know a developing project is the way it is . . . even sometimes getting partway through and starting over so you can switch threads.

I'm thinking more along the lines of stitches today. I'm a newish beadweaver. I don't think of myself as a beginner anymore but I know I'm not at the top of my game either. Newish. Anyway, I mentioned before that I'd started in two-drop peyote and changed my mind and started in single-drop or regular peyote stitch.

Most of you know exactly what I'm talking about. For everyone else, the difference is picking up two beads at a time on the needle versus picking up one bead at a time. It has a different texture and it works up faster.

That was my first foray into two-drop. The thing was, it wasn't right for the project. I've seen it make up beautifully in other things, but this wasn't it. Anyway it took about four rows of peyote for me to decide that that wasn't what I wanted either and I decided to switch to herringbone-- which fits with my recent fascination with African beadwork. I'm about 4 inches into the herringbone now and pleased with it, though I didn't stitch the first stitch yesterday.

Anyway, that got me wondering. Is this something only newish beadweavers do. I mean, I know what peyote looks like. I know how it feels. So why did I have to make up a swatch before I decided it was wrong for the project? It's somewhat true that the beads themselves influence the final feel of the work, but I've worked peyote in many colors, textures and sizes. So why didn't I know it was wrong before I started?

I'm not worried about not knowing that the two-drop was wrong as I've never held two-drop or seen it up close till now.

How many of you do this? How many of you used to? Do you do it less often now? More often? Is it typical?

What if you're in another avenue? How often does a painter stop and say-- this should be done in watercolors instead of oils? Or does a metalworker stop his cold-forging project to cast it instead? Does a potter ever start with stoneware and end up with porcelain? Does anyone else start with the pinto and end up with the roan?


  1. Great post, really made me ponder why I have so many scraps of unfinished beading. 8)

  2. Oh my!!!! I do it all the time!!! or at least very often :-) i have a whole box of started projects that didn't 'feel' quite right, sometimes they just get scrapped, other times they inspire me to do something else, something better :-) but I keep all of them, because you never know when a 'mistake' could turn into pure inspirational genious! :-)

  3. Yes I do this all the time too Sarah and I think it's one of the great things about beadweaving! There is such a variety of stitches and so many variations of those stitches that you need never be stuck in a rut, if one stitch doesn't work - try another one. I am constantly amazed by the way that you can start with the same materials e.g. a pile of size 11 seeds and some thread, and yet you can create a virtually endless number of shapes and patterns.

    Great post :0)

  4. I do this all the time. Constantly. I'm also frequently laboring under the delusion that I'm making a blue bracelet in two-drop peyote only to find that I'm actually left with a green necklace in freeform peyote. Or something like that. I also have a big baggie full of "I dunno what this is going to be when it grows up" dribs and drabs of beaded somethings.

  5. anyone who has ever looked at my work knows i stick to what i know best... single drop peyote and square stitch. my main issue is having to start over because i chose the wrong color combo. i have a whole box of unfinished pieces because of that change in direction.

  6. With me, it is having to ever change the pattern I created because something didn't look right and I worked with it until I felt it looked right. Of course, there is the color combination thing too. I start out with one set of colors to change to another set because something was just off.

  7. I'm with Amber. Since peyote is pretty much my "game" (single, 2-,3-,4-, or multiple drop lol), I end up having to stop and rethink because of bead color/finish questions rather than stitch issues. I usually proceed to unbead and free the beads up for use in other projects rather than accumulate unfinished pieces.

  8. I never switch colors mid-project, but sometimes I add more than I thought I waould use. Interesting!

    I'm gratified to know that lots of us do this and it doesn't mean I don't know what I"m doing after all!

    Melody-- 'when it grows up'?:D Love it!

    CD--4 drop?! Oh my!

  9. I'm forever starting things and pulling them apart. Sometimes it's because the piece just isn't cooperating with my vision and sometimes it's because the stitch or bead aren't working. I've even cut up a few pieces that were mostly finished. I don't worry too much about it because I feel like it's part of the process and also because I have a personal commitment to producing the best item I can.

  10. Off the top of my head, I can't recall changing my mind about a stitch mid-project, but I my mind about color, bead type, and finished design all the time.

    For my medusa necklace, I picked one shade of green, then decided it wasn't right, then picked another and actually started weaving, before deciding that I wanted to use Delicas instead, and then I had to choose between two different colors again!