Beaded Owl & Juried Competition

The call to bead — “Whoooo’ll Bead for Owls — came from a respected bead aficionado and friend, Margo Yee. Calls with such a specificity cannot easily be ignored. Loyalty intertwines with perceived obligation before becoming infused with possibility. I felt owls everywhere beckoning me to the creation of a wondrous idea.

Margo’s email laid out her case for participation in a juried show that would benefit The Upper Midwest Bead Society and The International Owl Center in Houston, MN. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes! Of course.” Just as quickly, my mind faded blank and stayed there, totally bereft of owl creativity. A show with cash prizes intimidated, rather than expanded my thinking.

My stash boasted only one owl. While visiting the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, I quickly acquired two more owl cabochons so I could enjoy choice. A month went by. Then two. Determined to begin, I went to review my owls and found one missing. Certain that the missing owl was the perfect choice, (elegantly cast, light in color, fierce in presentation) I mourned for several weeks before developing a firm grip to force the issue of my procrastination.

Resolutely, I selected owl #1, the original stash owl and chose my materials. A gray and brown felted strip would be the foundation for my bead embroidery cuff. To complement and enhance the colors in the felting, I selected delica beads of gray iris, marcasite and cabochons of labradorite, a crystal of shimmery pearly hues that represents the natural beauty of the cosmos. 

First mined in Labrador, Canada, labradorite is thought by some to reflect the flash of the aurora borealis. Labradorite seemed a perfect backdrop for an owl. I am fascinated with this magical semi-precious stone. In honor of the flash in the stone, I named my creation MysticOwl.

Focused now on the magic of my cuff, I beaded in earnest.  As is my process, I lost myself in the joy of creating and ignored the small engineering problems that cropped up: because a sturdy size 10 needle wouldn’t go through the semi-precious labradorite beads, or the size 15 vintage marcasite beads, I bent and/or broke several other needles, tried all manner of threads and in general, used up my entire quota of patience in the process.

Buttery leather in silver provided the lining for the piece. I ordered silver ribbon crimps for the ends, completed a picot edging for each side and added a tiny silver owl from my stash to serve as the charm detail on the closure extender. Before I could change my mind, I completed the submission form. MysticOwl was off to be juried into a competition in which prizes ranged from $250 – $1000.

In retrospect, eight weeks of shelter-in-place during the pandemic riddled me with MysticOwl design anxiety. On the other hand, that time out of time allowed the mystery of this magical, wise and mythical creation to grow. In the still of the night, I imagine I hear an occasional “Whooooooo.”

“Me,” I think. “I responded to the call.”

Is there a call will must heed? Why? Why not?

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