2012 Bead Dreams Competition – “Circles of Black, Circles of White 5”

Art quilt "Circles of Black, Circles of White 5"Bead and Button” magazine is the premier magazine in the USA that combines both of my favorite embellishment materials for my art quilts, namely, buttons and beads. Every year they have a competition called “Bead Dreams” and this quilt, “Circles of Black, Circles of White 5”, was juried into the 2012 competition under the category of “Objects or Accessories”. While most of what is included in the magazine are wonderful ways to make jewelry, I took a chance to see if one of my art quilts would make the competition, and hurray! It got in….yeah me!

This particular art quilt, “Circles of Black, Circles of White 5” (24.25”W x 27.25”T or 61.5cm W x 6 cm T) is so named because it was the 5th in the series to be cut out. Since the fabric motifs define the look of the piece, and what was created before influences what comes afterwards, that’s why they’re numbered the way they are. However, some pieces beg to be finished before others, or I get caught up in a certain color combination, so this piece was the second in the series to actually be finished.

Detail of art quilt, "Circles of Black, Circles of White 5" embellished with buttons and beadsIn this detail shot, you can see some of the black and white circles and half circles that were used throughout the series. In the very center, you can see some of the orange and yellow glass tubes that I love sewn onto a semi circle that remind me of candy corn from Halloween. I also included my favorite animal symbols, butterflies, embellished with Swarovski crystals. While more expensive than similar crystal elements on the market, these Austrian beads have precise faceting which gives them a flash that is very hard to find in other offerings. In the lower right, is a glass button from Czechoslovakia. It’s clear purple glass contrasts with the opaque black parts on the back, so that to me, it resembles a dark version of a rose window in a medieval cathedral.

Detail of art quilt, "Circles of Black, Circles of White 5" embellished with buttons and beadsDown the center of this detail shot and off to the right are some circles cut out of shells that have been dyed green. In the centers, which have large holes, I sewed magenta beads that pick up the colors of the magenta flower in the middle of the photo. I use quite a diverse assortment of materials for the surfaces of my art quilts, so I like to repeat colors and shapes in various sizes to tie the composition together. Basically, if it has a hole in it or I can make one without breaking it, then the object is fair game for including for embellishments. I don’t like to use glue unless I absolutely have to, as over time, I’m worried about the chemicals in it leaching out into the fabric.

It’s sometimes hard for my work to be accepted into some art exhibits. With all of the buttons and beads, sometimes as much as 25 pounds or 10 kg., is it jewelry or is it an art quilt seems to be the confusing question for jurors. When the Art Barn in Athens, Ohio, USA used to have an exhibit “Beads” that alternated years with the prestigious “Quilt National”, I always got in those bead  shows. I have gotten better at choosing the exhibits to which I submit by looking at previous year’s entries, so I get turned down less than when I first started exhibiting over thirty years ago. I have searched the Net, and while there are a lot of other quilters and textile artists who use buttons and beads as embellishments, I am probably the most obsessive as far as sheer coverage of surface area, so I’m pleased that more and more of my work is getting recognition.

I just love the color choices that I made in this piece. Its very different from many of my other art quilts and a much bolder look than I usually do. Some have likened it to a Hispanic festival or a Mardi Gras parade. All I know is that it makes me smile when I look at it.

 What are some of your favorite materials that you like to collect?

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You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com

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  1. Wonderful entry to BeadDreams. I am rooting for you and your amazing work of art.

  2. So far, you and Robin and Thom Atkins and Nancy Eha are all in a class of beader all by yourselves! No one can match what you do–it’s absolutely beautiful. Congrats on the show and I hope you do better than ‘juried in’–I hope you win a prize!!!

  3. Nancy Smeltzer says:

    Wow! Thanks so much guys! I’m in the 2012 exhibition. (I’ll be on their web site as part of this year’s winners.)The question now is whether or not I get in the magazine because of space limitations, but I’m hoping that the piece will since it’s so different from the rest of the entries, which are mostly jewelry. Mwah to you both!

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