Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Last Month's Workshop with David Chatt

My local bead society here in San Diego has brought in some phenomenal bead artists over the past couple of years. Last month I had the privilege to take a class with the fantastic bead artist David Chatt. Though he's a master in many beadweaving stitches, much of his work is done with right angle weave (RAW), and David was one of the first bead artists to work with cubic right angle weave (CRAW).

His class style is very different from other beadweaving classes; he brought in several boxes of bits and pieces of beadwork; what he called his "sketchbook." In this four-day class we were able to ask how to make any piece in the sketchbook, and all the students had one-on-one time to focus on learning whatever skills would help them go in their own artistic directions. I didn't get many pictures of the sketchbook pieces, but you can see a couple of them on Marcia's blog.

One of David's signature styles is in covering a form or a figure with beadwork. He brought several little plastic soldier toys to class to teach this technique, and I chose some matte bronze size 15° seed beads to cover mine.

As a geometry nerd with a general reluctance to attempting any kind of freeform beadwork, I found this exercise quite challenging! But I also learned that this organic approach is much less freeform than I had thought; David explained how to think of the beadwork as a fabric, and how the fabric of the beadwork will look best if it follows certain lines on the form rather than looking like a random collection of beads.

Notice how the shape of the helmet is distinct from the head, and the definition that shows the detail in the arms? These were just a couple of the tips we learned in class.

After learning how to cover a form with beads, I turned to exploring several of the more geometric items in the sketchbook. And by that I mean that I totally nerded-out in a rather embarrassing Hermione Granger-esque fashion.

One of the more interesting items in David's sketchbook was the pyramid. The construction is more intuitive than it looks, though it required a little bit of needle gymnastics. I managed to make two small pyramids, one with 4 mm bicone crystals and the other with 6 mm bicone glass beads and crystals.

The great thing about the pyramid is that its underside holds a hidden pattern of multicolored beads.

I made the green one with several colors of crystals on the underside.

David assigned me a couple of RAW and CRAW homework assignments after the first few classes. Here's my version of the first assignment, a twisty bit of beadwork woven with RAW:

I also explored several other twisted sketchbook pieces in class. The two bits on either side are from David's sketchbook, and the middle one is one of my own variations with pentagons instead of squares.

One of the most interesting ideas that we explored was in this piece. David postulated an idea of a long rectangle woven with CRAW, and wondered what it would look like if the edges of the rectangle were color-coded, and if the sides decreased by one stitch on each row so that the rectangle would gradually twist into a point. I took this idea and ran with it and ended up with this interesting little piece. I added gold beads along the edges and little ruffles at the bottom to make it look like a wizard's hat.

In all, I ended up with quite a few little beaded ideas from David's class, and I'm looking forward to taking these ideas further over the next several months.

David doesn't teach very often, so if you get the chance to take one of his classes, take it. You won't regret it!


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