Bead Mosaic Box Collection

This month’s learning activity, bead mosaic, lets me practice design, skill and production while indulging my love for all things bead-related.

The dictionary defines practice, the verb, as: perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

A recovering perfectionist, I know the perils of repetition. Mindless repetition is not only boring, but unfulfilling. Repetition with focused evaluation leads to mastery. Somewhere in-between is the fine balance that contains the joy and the flow of creativity.

I began my experiment with three upcycled tins, birthday gifts for friends. Each tin would capture the thoughtfulness of its recipient.

These upcycled bead mosaic boxes are from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
©2017, For the Little Things Collection, three boxes

Success? The tins were well received. So well that a sense of pure joy caused me to commit to a longer term project: a box a day for a month. A friend suggested I name the collection and give it a tagline.

For the Little Things

Hand-decorated in my studio for expressions of caring

Each time I completed a tin I looked for ways to improve it. I worked in multiples of three and took notes. It’s my way.

Here are three more upcycled bead mosaic boxes from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque,
©2017, For the Little Things Collection, three more boxes

Come behind the scenes with me and take a look at the process.

Preparation bead mosaic box collection

I gathered a series of focal elements, coordinated matching beads and began work prep: remove the pins or bails, string the beads into short strands if needed. Paint or alter the surface as needed.

These are the focal elements for the bead mosaic boxes from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
©2017, For the Little Things Collection, focal elements

Next I thoroughly cleaned the tins. (They were upcycled, after all.) I identified colorful birthday candle quilting material to use as lining, cut it to fit and wrapped it around heavy pellon.

this is the lining material for the bead mosaic boxes from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
©2017, For the Little Things Collection, lining material

Both confidence and skill increased with practice. I made additional notes:

Notes in Progress bead mosaic box collection

  1. Use no wrap for the top lining as it gets too big to close easily
  2. Stitch the liner to the pellon with an X
  3. If the focal element has angles, be sure that they are bent close to the box so as not to catch upon opening
  4. Use minimal glaze on the beaded mosaic so it doesn’t impinge upon the box hinges
  5. Use heavy glue on the lining and leave open to dry thoroughly
  6. Position the beads closely for a better look.
  7. String beads in six to eight inch segments order to place them effectively
  8. Experiment. I used metallic thread and crocheted beads to create additional interest
This bead mosaic box from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque emphasizes crocheted beads in the background.
©2017, For the Little Things Collection, box with crocheted beads

Final touches bead mosaic box collection

  1. After more than a dozen completions, I’m establishing definitive rules:
    1. Pay attention to finishing details
    2. With up cycled tins, cover the expiration date with a coordinated ribbon
    3. Make tags to live inside each box
    4. Order more product
  2. Play AND Keep Playing

For The Little Things is a collection I’m announcing in this month’s newsletter. It will be the topic of a new class and and might even be part of my next show. As usual, I’m excited about the possibilities.

How are you shaping your learning project?

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