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Lace beadweaving is an old traditional technique that has been used in jewelry making and for clothing accents for centuries. Lace beading is the weaving of an airy and graceful net using beads and thread that can further be accented by dangling elements like briolette or teardrop beads. Depending on the pattern used the net can result a quite complex lace. This technique that used to be very popular in many countries especially in Russia has lots of fans today, and a group of French lace beading lovers founded a blog to develop and promote it. We sent a few questions to Blandine Guyot (Nouchka), one of the blog co-founders and here is what she told us.
Interview with Blandine Guyot
1. Blandine, how did the collective blog Perles et Dent'Elles open? What motivated you to make a blog about lace beading?
In April 2010 in Normandy Colette L'Hopital-Navarre (Coco) and I met for the first time at the beading workshop hosted by Karine Astoul (Oceanie) and Sylvie Lanos (Dollypop), leaders of the forum RDV Creatif. Coco and I had been exchanged emails for about a year before we met and I was happy to see her in real life and hear her voice at last! During those happy beading days Normandy I proposed Coco to open a collective blog dedicated to lace beading and to make it trilingual (in French, in English and in Russian) to attract more artists since I could speak these languages and could translate.
Coco enthusiastically told me, "OK, let's go! But we two cannot do all this work, we need to strengthen our team." She suggested two more artists from different countries to make the group actually international: Veronique Lechevalier (Veronik), who lives in Agadir (Morocco), and Marcelle Antoine (Zaza) from Belgium. When I was home back, I contacted Veronik and Zaza by emails and invited them to join our project, and they accepted the suggestion.
I got interested in lace beading as soon as I discovered Coco's blog in Internet. Later on I knew that Veronik and Zaza learned lace beading at about the same time, in 2009 when they found out that blog, too! Each of us didn't know the others but we all kept in touch with Coco who has given us advice and encouragement. I must say that we were not alone at all: Coco is in contact with about 70 fans from different countries on the subject of lace beading! In September 2010 our blog Perles et Dent'Elles was born.
2. What are the activities proposed in Perles et Dent'Elles?
The main activity in Perles et Dent'Elles that we suggest to lace weaving beaders is our regular Friendly Challenge. In contrast to the regular bead contests, our Friendly Challenges don't have jury panels, we don't have winners, and we only publish challenges beadworks in the blog. Friendly Challenge is the occasion for a participant to try his lace beading skills, to develop his creativity and to showcase it to others. Beginners, intermediate and advanced lace beadweavers are all welcome to enter.
Such a way of exhibiting challenges beadworks in the blog pursues educational goals because seeing them makes each of us move forward with new creative ideas and inspiration. At the same time, our Friendly Challenges allows us extend the borders of lace beading and keep it alive and in development.
The rules of each challenge are simple. An announcement of a challenge opening is being published in Perles et Dent'Elles. Once we have collected the names of subscribers to this challenge (it takes usually about 10 days), our artistic guru Coco sends a pattern of a lace beaded motif created by her to subscribers. She also gives some instructions of how to make the piece of jewelry. Once another blog co-founder, Zaza gave a motif for a challenge.
In fact, anyone in our team or among the blog members could propose a lace ornament for a challenge, that motif should be approved by Coco. Beadweavers who have only once tried to design their own lace motif know how difficult is to weave such a small piece measuring not more than 2 x 3 cm and how much time it takes! The participants have two months timeframe from the date of the challenge announcement until the date when they are supposed to send us the photographs of their pieces.
3. Do you announce a specific theme for your challenges?
Up to now, most our challenges have been conducted without any theme except the 6th challenge that was named "Portrait of a lady painted by the French painter Berthe Morisot". It was a way to have artists acquainted with French painting and with creativity of this particular artist. Below is the link to the gallery where we present some of our challenges entries.
Please note that the entries of our last Friendly Challenge are to be published on March 4th. Do not miss the date! If you want to be kept posted on our activities, subscribe to our newsletter (right side menu of the blog); it is free and you have no obligation to be a member of the blog to receive our news.
4. If I want to participate in a challenge, do I need to become a member of Perles et Dent'Elles?
No. You may participate in a challenge without being a member. If you are going to enter challenges at least twice a year, it is better for you to become a member though there is no obligation. In this case your name with a link towards your blog or website will be listed on the blog right side menu together with the other members and our readers who want to know more about your work will be able to reach the gallery on your site.
On March 10 we are going to workshop on lace beading where Coco will teach step-by-step with highly detailed illustrated instructions how to construct a lace beaded necklace. This workshop will not require any subscription; the sending of your photograph on a given date will validate your participation. Beginners as well as advanced beadweavers are all welcome!
5. How can a person become a member of Perles et Dent'Elles?
First, you need to read our "Charter of Use" in the blog. If you accept its very simple conditions you send us your request at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond you either in French, English or Russian according to the language you use.
6. Does Perles et Dent'Elles membership give you access to other activities except challenges?
Yes. As a member you will also have ability to post pictures of your own lace beadworks - other than challenges entries. You will put them into "Realisations of Perles et Dent'Elles" section with a short description and your credits. We will send you instructions of how to access blog posting.
7. In September 2011 you hosted the Native American Necklace contest where I had the honor to be one of the jury members. Why did you impose the use of not lace beading but peyote stitch as main technique?
This was the first contest that we held on the international stage - just one year after the opening of Perles et Dent'Elle. For this contest, we did not choose the lace beading technique for two reasons. First, we thought we wouldn't have enough participants because there are not so many artists who are able to create their own designs in lace beading from the very beginning. The second reason is that we just wanted to make a pause in lace weaving! We will host other contests based on other techniques and hopefully one day lace beading will be starring!
8. How do the leaders work together and dispatch each other's task?
We mainly contact each other via email asking everybody's opinion on issues and never make a group decision without preliminary discussion. For example, the theme of the Native American Necklace contest was sharply debated. Coco gave us the first idea that wasn't taken because we didn't achieve a common agreement. When the theme of the contest was chosen we decided that Coco would be in charge of jury members' selection and I would look for the sponsors.
First, I started from Russia but I had no idea about Russian Internet shops at all. At that time I was in contact with Elena Markovski-Krilova, a Russian beadweaver from Germany, and was happy enough to find her as a good adviser. She gave me Greenbird.ru contacts and they instantly responded with enthusiastic "YES !!!" to become our sponsor for Russia. I had more trouble looking for American sponsorship. I have emailed to about 8 shops and didn't get any responses. I was almost in despair when I knew from MyLovelyBeads.com newsletter that Artbeads.com is one of their Fashion Colorworks contest sponsors. I was lucky with them: they heartfully agreed for partnership with Perles et Dent'Elles!
9. Who are your most active members, where are they from?
As you may see on our members' list, members of Perles et Dent'Elles come from different countries and France, Russia and USA are among them. I wish we had more participants from the Eastern countries because of their rich traditions in lace beading. I'd love to see more participants from the USA and Canada. Unfortunately, we don't have members from Japan and other Asia countries as well as from Africa, Australia and South America.
Among the most enthusiastic Russian members I'd name Natalia Yassinskaya; I know that from her personal emails that she has written to us.
The list of French members is pretty long; let me mention as an example Christel Rouberties, who has participated in all our challenges.
Another new French talent in lace beading who makes success in her own designs is Catherine Perennes.
In Belgium (partly French speaking country) three stars are emerging in lace beading and have started designing their own motifs: Genevieve Liebaert, Claudia Steens and Irene De Roo. Here again, the blog Perles et Dent'Elles is a showcase that enables to show lace beadworks with an international appeal!
We also have talented members from Eastern Europe countries, among the most active ones are Ilona Hegedus from Hungary and Mariana Tartu from Romania; they have participated in many Friendly Challenges. Mariana does not have any blog and her beadworks can only be seen on Perles et Dent'Elles.
More names of the talents can be seen in the beadwork gallery (follow the link below). Perles and Dent'Elles also has fans that don't enter our challenges but are faithful readers of our blog. As an example, I'd like to say about Elena Babiy from Germany. Elena loves Coco's lace beading and once she wrote me in Russian the words that I will not forget and that I would write here as a conclusion, "You are doing a great job that you gather all of us!"
Thank you, dear Blandine! Hey, Perles and Dent'Elles!
We wish you and all your members and followers best of luck! Happy beading!