For Phases I-IV you are supplied with a design outline printed onto plain fabric, a set of beads and a picture of the finished item. Following your tutors instructions and with reference to the picture you basically replicate the original. It is beading to a pattern but the first four phases are designed to teach technique.
Phase V is totally different. Prior to the first class we were offered a choice of five printed fabrics. Two of the fabrics had small floral motifs on a black background. The remaining three fabrics all had paisley type designs. The one that leapt out at me was available in two colour ways; one in lovely, soft shades like a faded tapestry, the other in more vibrant colours on a black background. I am a bit of a ditherer when it comes to making decisions. The small flowers on the first two fabrics reminded me of the smaller motifs on Floral Melody but the paisley designs also reminded me of Floral Melody, for any one of them I could see myself looking to Floral Melody for inspiration. Two fabrics jumped out at me. I thought that choosing one of those would be taking the easy option but in the end that is what I went for. On display in the classroom was a finished bag in one of the fabrics I liked most. It had been exquisitely beaded by Adele and I knew if I chose that fabric I would be sorely tempted to replicate her work so I decided against it. The fabric I finally chose was the one that had leapt out at me in the first place. There were seven students taking Phase V. Six of us chose this fabric; four opting for the black background and 2 going with the beige version.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway
There was a sample selection of beads for each fabric design. We could change any or all of the beads if we wanted to. If choosing the fabric was difficult, selecting the beads was 10 times harder for me. I have absolutely no confidence with colour. A couple of beads in the sample pack looked out of place to me but everything I tried to replace them with looked totally wrong or made the palette very flat. In the end I decided to start with the beads as provided and see if any ideas presented themselves as I worked.
It took all morning to make my selections, frame up and stitch transfer the outline to the fabric. I was still feeling unwell and was having trouble sleeping. I was very relieved when we stopped for lunch but I just wanted to BEAD!!!!
Invigorated by some food, a cup of green tea and a walk in the garden I was raring to go.
The main difference between Phase V and the earlier Phases is that the student decides for themselves how to bead the design; which beads and what techniques to use where. It is a very daunting prospect. The main thing that had attracted me to this fabric was all of the swirling gold lines. I decided that I wanted to emphasis those so I began by couching a row of gold lined crystal beads along one of the motifs. This turned out to be a very good starting point. For me, couching is a very relaxing technique so this settled my nerves and allowed me some time to contemplate what I wanted to do next. The problem is, there is no time to plan the overall design. Phase V class is only 3 days so you choose your fabric, you choose your beads and away you go.
Because of the no photography rule at the Center, I took my frame back to the hotel at the end of class. This gave me a chance to take pictures but also to think about what I would work on the following day.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway
Phase V class lasted for three days and was very tough. It would have been difficult enough if I had been firing on all cylinders but my sore throat had developed into a hacking cough that conspired with the jet lag to keep me awake for much of the night. I was feeling very under the weather and it took all of my resources to get through the day. I didn’t feel that I had made much progress but at least I liked what I had done.