Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Retreat Project!

Welcome to another Work In Progress Wednesday!

Today I'm going to share a little of the project I worked on during my creative retreat. I'm also going to share the lessons I learned during the experience and the things I'd do differently -- because for me, the creative retreat idea is as much a work in progress as the piece, itself.

The Project!

Since this is a project for the Time To Stitch Challenge, I'm not going to show all of it. I'm going to be a tease and save the excitement for the reveal on June 12th. But here's a sneak peek at what I worked on, and will continue to work on!

(A closeup of some of the weaving. I told you it was crazy and colorful!)

(A closeup of some buttons and beaded fringe I attached today.)

The Verdict?

The creative retreat is something I'd definitely do again. I loved working outside in the fresh air and natural light with the yard bunnies to keep me company, and I had a great time looking for inspirational/entertaining things to keep my mind busy as well as my hands.

It didn't go exactly the way I'd envisioned it. I wasn't feeling those Pantone colors for the contest, so I ended up changing directions. I also had to skip day four because I had some shoulder pain -- I woke up all twisted and contorted like a sequined pretzel, and I'm still working those kinks out. Still, I love my crazy piece of beadwork, and with the right planning, I think the next retreat will be awesome!

Things I Learned

1.) I mentioned thread traffic before -- when you're beading with tiny size 15 beads, or you're planning to attach some bead embroidery to your freeform beading, you really have to watch the amount of thread that passes through the beads. If there's too much thread traffic, you won't be able to pass your needle through when you need to -- and beads can break!

2.) So when you're weaving in those thread tails, weave around those itty bitty beads and the end rows of your piece -- change the direction of your weaving, even if it means going back and forth in the same little patch of wide-holed beads.

3.) I don't know about other beaders, but I do everything double-threaded. What can I say? I have this irrational fear of pieces coming apart. This makes for some stiff and sturdy beadwork that I literally have to spend hours taking apart if I want to start over, which is great, but it also makes for, you guessed it, more thread traffic.

What I recently learned? Weaving those thread tails is easier of you weave them single-thread. Yes, this means twice the weaving, but it doesn't mean twice the work. There's way less struggling and cursing.

4.) Bead soups are so great for freeform beading. Much easier, for me anyway, than keeping all those colors separate.

5.) If something isn't working, don't force it! Better to spend time and energy on something that you love, that excites you, that you just can't stop working on. You can always come back to the first project later when you have fresh ideas.

For Next Time

I see this retreat as almost a practice run. Here's what I'll do next time to make the experience amazing:

1.) I'll do more planning! This involves finding inspiring things to watch ahead of time, cleaning the house so it's not a distraction, finding the best workspace and lighting, making some healthy meals in advance, and thinking up some other activities to do when I'm not beading.

2.) Because I need to take more beading breaks! I had to miss a whole day of creative retreating, not just because my shoulder was pretzel-y, but because I overdid it on day three.

3.) I'll make my project more open-ended and have a few backup projects in case the first one doesn't work out.

4.) I'll have better timing! I sure picked a busy weekend for this retreat! So many of you were studying or spending time with family, and you couldn't participate. Next time, I'll look at my calendar and pick a date with no holidays.

Some inspiration:

1.) I really enjoyed watching and listening to videos by the wise and talented Mayi Carles.

2.) I also loved this TED talk about trying something new for a month!

3.) This article in The Daily Muse by Roz Savage was really inspiring.

If you've been following me through my creative retreat, I hope you've enjoyed it. If you had a creative retreat of your own, I'd love to see what you made, and I'd really love it if you'd share the link in the comments section.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and as always, have a sequintastic day!


  1. Fun project and post.
    -Eva Maria

  2. I absolutely love your project and can't wait for the unveil. The colors are awesome and the buttons are perfect. I wish I could have joined you in your retreat, but the camping trip got in the way. I had fun but would have loved to have connected. Maybe next time.

    1. Thank you, Debbie! It's been such a fun piece to work on.

      For the next retreat, I'll try to choose a time that isn't so busy for everyone. That way, it'll be easier for us to all work together!

      I love the spoon you made over the weekend, though. So cool!

  3. Your piece in progress looks so free form and intriguing. buttons and beads are fantastic. Sorry about the twisted body parts. No fun to miss out, but sometimes the body tells us what we need and we have to follow. xox

    1. Thanks, Corinne! <3

      It's true -- I learned the hard way a few years ago that when my body is telling me something, I have to listen, even if it's not convenient! I'm feeling a lot better now, but I'll definitely need to book an appointment with my massage therapist.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've made even more progress on it, and I have to say, I can't stop staring at it. So many crazy little details to take in. :)

  5. I don't understand all the technical beading stuff, but PRETTY!!!!!

    1. Well, that's the best part to understand. :)

  6. Sarah, that is very funky, original and cool. Talk about a piece that will go with literally any outfit you put on! Seriously! I hear you about thread traffic. Question, are you using fireline or Nymo style thread. When Using 15s I use fireline specifically because it's smaller in width which allows more passes. But even so... those itty bitties are teenie tiny! :o)

    Have a fantastic day!

    1. Thanks, Dawn!

      I'm using Nymo. Thanks for the tip about Fireline! I'll have to check it out, since I've heard it's better for crystals, too, and I really want to add some of those to my pieces to up the bling factor, ha ha. ;)

  7. Great project! And I love the idea of a creative retreat. I can't wait to see the finished piece - I think my favorite part so far are those great, colorful buttons nestled in the seed beads.

    I totally hear you about thread traffic - I have been experimenting with using S-Lon thread for some of my bracelets (has a different look to it...the Moukaite bracelet I have on my blog post shows it...), but doing a triple or quad wrap means I have lots and lots of thread to try and not tangle! I also use a double thread for those...definitely a work in patience. :)

    1. Thanks, Carol! One of these days, I'd love to go on -- or organize -- a real retreat. But for now, the at-home ones will be fun. :)

      Thread tangles are never fun. If I use too much thread, I end up wrapping myself in it!

  8. Dropping by from Artists in Blogland. I like your header.

  9. I don't know anything about beading, but love the colors. :) It looks like a lot of work to string it all together.

    1. Thanks, Katie -- color is one of my favorite things about the little beads.

      This kind of beadweaving is easier than it looks -- this is coming from someone who's hopeless at the other kinds -- but it can definitely take a lot of time! It's wrth it, though. :)


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