Monday, April 7, 2014

New Tutorial Slugs in Love Earrings and Pendants

Meet my slugs.
Slugs in Love.
These beaded, sparkling, spiraling slugs are very twisted and sensuous. It's hard to capture their beauty in a single photo.
You see?
What could be more romantic than two slugs in love?
How about three slugs in love?  See the three slugs on the left in gold, orange and red?  I call this one Slug Fest with a little slug earring for the dangle.
I was inspired by the colors of lava.  To me, it looks like frozen flame.  All of the variations shown above are patterned and explained in my newest beading tutorial, Slugs in Love.  I even give a recipe for a five (5) Slug Fest in the tutorial, if you are so adventurous to try it.   I haven't made one yet.  It's a lot of beads. 

These beaded slugs are super fun to make, to watch them spiral a little more, as you make each stitch.  I really hope someone makes the five slug version, just so I can see a photo of it.
Slugs in Love Bead Pattern
If you're wondering why I call this Slugs in Love, you should watch this video on the mating behavior of slugs. 
And this one with snails.  It's totally worth two minutes.
Or this one, which I laughed all the way through.
For some reason, my friends keep sending me links to terrestrial gastropod mollusc porn.  

Anyway... The technique I use for my beaded slugs isn't original.  I learned about it after Pamm Horbit showed me some of her pieces including, "Max's Not a Knot," here.  This piece is actually a lidded box - the lid comes off.  It placed 2nd in the accessories and objects division of Bead Dreams 2012.
You see, last Fall, I spoke to the Northwest Bead Society in Washington State, and Pamm attended my lecture and took my classes.  She had a big box of these twisted balls, cubes, and other highly symmetric pieces of beadwork that she made, using all sorts of different point group symmetries, especially chiral ones. They ranged in size from tennis balls to softballs.  Each one was more spectacular than the next, all twisting and sinuous.  Pamm had found a basic beaded unit in photos on line, and from there, she figured out how she could make lots of repeats and assemble them in lots and LOTS of different ways.  Her collection was quite diverse and impressive.
I could scarcely see out how she did it.  But she was patient with me as I tried to figure out what I was holding in my hand as it glistened under the lights.  She explained the essence of the idea, and even was kind enough to give me a couple of triangles that are beaded with this technique.  It turns out it's based on the peyote stitched triangles (google it!), but the ones Pamm gave me used different sizes of beads to make them spiral, like the Celline spiral, made popular by Susan Golden, when she published the Cellini spiral bracelet in the Art and Elegance of Beadweaving in 2003.  Here's the Cellini spiral I made in 2005 with Golden's directions.  I never finished it.  It's a half bracelet, unwearable, but I like that you can see inside the spiral.
What Pamm showed me is that you can apply this same technique to beaded triangles.  So I beaded this green triangle using the samples Pamm gave me. 
But, I didn't finish the back correctly.  What can I say?  It was my first one, and by the time I finished it, there was nobody there to tell me how to do it.
I played around with the idea by changing the symmetry, and came up with these earrings.
I made a pair for myself in purple, and I fell in love with this photo and the earrings.  They are so tiny and dainty.  Just a splash of color dripping from the ears. 
I named them Archimedes' Teardrops because of it's relationship with the Archimedian spiral.  To skip the math, please jump to the next paragraph now.  An Archimedian (or arithmetic) spiral is the locus of points corresponding to the locations over time of a point moving away from a fixed point with a constant speed along a line which rotates with constant angular velocity.  The relationship with the beadwork is that you end up with a constant set of beads that is constantly repeated as you rotate around the fixed, central axis.  I think that works.  Anyway, I had to name it.

Then I made this piece that I didn't know what to do with.  It's not a really beaded bead because it doesn't have an obvious hole.  It's just a beaded thing, and a bit slug-like.

So I posed it with Batman.  Behold the power of the BEADS!
Then, I illustrated, and wrote a complete tutorial for my little Teardrop earrings, and as I was releasing it, another bead designer pointed me to June Huber's website, where she had a pattern for the same earrings.  The only difference are that Huber used Delicas where I used size 15° seed beads and her hanging method is different.  I even took this photo before I saw Huber's photo of nearly the same design in her earring tutorial.  Hmm.
I surfed around Huber's website, and found that she did a lot with the technique of peyote stitch with herringbone increases, like this Arabesque cube.  (Seriously, click on that, it's gorgeous).  Shortly thereafter, I noticed that Cath Thomas also wrote a tutorial for the same earring and her variations: Pepper Fork and Yukka Flower.

That all happened last Fall. I made up something new that wasn't new at all.  I was a little sad because I put so much work into it, but I knew I couldn't release a tutorial that someone else had written before me.  It didn't matter that I made it up by myself.  I hadn't made it up first.  It wasn't mine to distribute.  

But I really loved these spirals, and I wanted to design with the technique.  So, I didn't toss out the tutorial completely.  I just shelved it.  I chalked it up to a learning experience.  Since then, I've been trying to design a new variation, something that is different enough and new enough that it wouldn't be copies of what the great beaders before me had already done.  

So I reconsidered the symmetry.  Where Huber, Horbit and Thomas all ADDED symmetry to their designs, Slugs in Love took it away. 
I found a different unit of repeats, and then made it have a lot of different beads, big fat slugs instead of tiny, dainty ones.
If you're so inclined, you could take one of the basic units I patterned in Slugs in Love, make copies of it, and try to recreate Arabesque cubes, and other polyhedra and flowers, but bigger, much bigger.  Warning: That's a lot of beads!  And please, Please, PLEASE, I really can't stress this enough... Send me a photo if you try it! Thanks for looking.


  1. Wow. I'm overwhelmed. The videos were amazing. As long as I didn't put too much thought into the slime part they were beautiful (and funny!). Your journey along the slug path must have been just a little heartbreaking, but with a beautiful end! Slugs in love have such twisty, sparkly goodness it would really make a fabulous blog hop.

  2. I must admit, I really appreciate this design much more after reading this post. I saw your posts on Facebook, and I remembered our conversations about it, but seeing all the twists and turns and variations and inspirations from Pam really puts it all into a complete, intriguing story. Kudos!

  3. I followed the links and they are all beautiful pieces Gwen.

    I do think we recreate without copying. Bead weaving has advanced substantially since I did my first daisy chain back in the 1970's. That feeds on itself beautifully.

  4. I love your slug pieces. I must have the pattern. The 3D patterns I've seen are just beautiful. I have a few and must add this one to my stech.


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