I think many people who have entered a beading competion have a least once stopped and sat back after their piece is complete and the results of the contest announced and thought….”well, what on earth am I going to do with this?!”
It’s not that you aren’t pleased with the finished article necessarily, or that you feel like you could have done better (although I have thought both of these things at some point with my competitive beading efforts), just that the finished article is a lot bigger than most day-to-day wear jewellery that you might be able to don for work. That said, I think at my workplace no-one would be surprised if I came in wearing an enormous necklace – I’m not exactly known for saying ‘oh I couldn’t possibly wear that to the office’…case in point being my fave jersey dress that has pink and yellow T-rex’s all over it! But I digress…
So what does one do with a big competition piece that has had a lot of time, and often a considerable amount of money put into it once the competition is over? I know many people who have participated in the Battle of the Beadsmith contest have sold their pieces, either online or at shows. This is great if you aren’t overtly attached to the work and would prefer to recoup some of the making costs for pennies to spend on new beads for future designs. I do wonder of anyone has ever gotten truly what the piece was worth in both materials and time, but if you’ve enjoyed the making process then I know some are happy just to make back what they spent in supplies. Me personally, I’ve never sold a competition piece. Generally I’ve either got too attached to it, or felt it wasn’t good enough (or likely to) sell. But I have done the next one which is….
Frog it! 🐸
Yep, I know you put hours of work into it, what on earth am I doing suggesting you consider cutting it up!? Well sometimes it actually can feel the best thing overall. The piece I cut up was my 2011 piece Flora Argenta that reached the finals of the British Bead Awards.
Flora Argenta pre-frogging
Why did it take the scissors to it? For one, I really wasn’t happy in the end with the quality of the beading and that really bothered me. Secondly, some of the beads in it started to seriously tarnish/scratch, and this was on a piece that was just sat going nowhere on a display bust – no way could I have sold it. These two factors, combined with the value of the Swarovski rivolis and bicones which were in the piece meant that frogging really was the best option. And do you know what *whispers* I actually really enjoyed cutting that necklace to pieces.
So after selling on or scrapping, what other options might there be for your creation? Well, one step down from frogging the whole thing is breaking it down into smaller, wearable sections. This is something I have done quite a bit, assisted by my preference for including jump rings in my larger works. For instance, my 2012 British Bead Awards piece The Jewels of Viridia has been split into 2 pieces – the main front section of bezelled stones is on chain so it can be worn as a shorter necklace and the long necklace rope is a double wrap around bracelet.
My 2014 Battle of the Bead Smith piece ‘Andromache’ has just undergone a similar restructuring. Again, I like this design, but it’s way, way too big (and heavy with the freeform netting section) to wear day to day. Here’s how it got reshuffled into 2 new necklaces with no frogging, just re-linking different elements with jump rings and chain.
Ready for the pliers to get going!
Taking apart and trying new layouts.
New necklace number one, a wavy CRAW collar with the electroplated rock crystal drops.
New necklace number 2 using the main bezelled element with links, plus a rock crystal mini tassel.
There are some leftovers…I think I will keep the netting piece intact for now. I think it would be interesting to display on a shelf/table should I have one that isn’t full of other stuff!
The other way to use your large competition pieces is to think of them as a showpiece like designers who do runway shows do. Your competition piece is your showstopper, the one that lets everyone know what you’re about and what you can do. Then your ‘wearable’ collection is drawn down from that centerpiece creation.
I did this in 2013 with my British Bead Awards finalist piece ‘Fallen.’ I was asked if I could do a project based on that piece for Bead magazine, and so I took that central element and added some smaller links and chain to leave it as a larger pendant design. I’ve got plans to do similar things with a number of ideas/motifs from my larger pieces in hopefully the not too distant future, including my necklace from this year’s Battle. Watch this space for details!
From competition collar…
…to a starring role on the front cover.
I’d love to hear how other beaders have used their competition work. Have you frogged something that had taken you a long time to make? Have you used your competition creations in other ways I haven’t mentioned? Please do leave a comment 🙂