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I've got a pretty long name - Olga Vinnere Pettersson. I live in Uppsala, Sweden, and work as a university researcher and teacher, while at the same time my husband and I are trying to raise two very active young boys. I'm a microbiologist by education, and I've been working with moulds so far. Besides my family and microbes, I am fond of science fiction, books by Tolkien and know episodes 4-6 of Star Wars by heart. In addition, I love cooking and baking. However, nowadays there is not too much time left to do any of that, since most of my spare time is taken by beading.
In August I will celebrate two years of being a seed bead addict. My ex-coworker, Jonas Forslund, is the person to blame. One relatively warm Swedish spring afternoon we were working in the lab and I was complaining about not being able to find any decent jewelry: the entire city was wearing variations of the same design, which was a long, linked silver chain. Jonas reasonably pointed out that perhaps it was a time for me to start making my own. It has to be mentioned that Jonas himself is quite a gifted and creative person; we still have couple of his drawings hanging in our office. Curious what is on them? Microbes, of course!
Well, I have listened to him and went to Panduro (a chain of hobby-suppliers in the Northern Europe) and bought some D.I.Y. jewelry kits and round-nose pliers. My first bracelet was ready in two hours. I had no idea what I was doing and if I was doing it right, but I had a blast. After that, there was a necklace, and another one, and another dozen of them... My hands started burning when I was not making anything! However, stringing quickly became boring for me, and while my newborn baby was asleep, I have started browsing the WWW for tips and inspiration.
As a result, I discovered FiremountainGems.com and came across their gallery of designs. There were stunning designs by Tatiana Van Iten that left me absolutely speechless. It became clear that I just had to find out HOW on the Earth it was made! Google brought me to Tatiana's tutorial on Russian Leaves at... taaa-daaa... MyLovelyBeads.com and once there I learned about work of Zoya Gutina. And, finally, I found Sherri Serafini's video tutorial on bead embroidery and got hooked.
Those massive and spectacular designs of Tatiana, Zoya and Sherri have impressed me by their unique look, as well as the color, shape and texture. You see, I have been living in Sweden for quite some time now. Sweden is the country of simple jewelry and modest people, and you are not supposed to stand out from the crowd! My Lord, I was thinking then - how and where to are you supposed to wear THAT? Luckily for me, a voice of adventure had kicked in at that point, saying - who cares! Just look at that beauty! Why don't you try to make something like that?
So, I bought heap of books, seed beads, needles, threads and started learning and reinventing the wheel. Very soon I discovered that there are not too many seed beaders in Sweden, and only a couple of people make bead embroidery. It was fun to meet them as "soul-sisters", and so it began... In two months I opened my Etsy store and became a member of the Etsy Beadweavers Team, and in September 2009 I joined the team of EBW moderators as the Membership Mod. I have entered several Swedish beading contests, won some of them and got prizes, but never participated in serious international competitions. The interest in beadweaving and bead embroidery in Sweden is growing now, and since October 2009 I've been teaching classes in Uppsala.
My favorite techniques are free-form beadweaving and bead embroidery. Both offer endless opportunities in terms of shape, structure and texture of your piece, only your mood and fantasy set the boundaries of what you can achieve. I have never learned to follow a pattern. On one hand, I do not like creating replicas of what other people have done before. I get a kick of trying "to reinvent the wheel" - that is to figure out how a certain design is made and how to make my own interpretation of it. On the other hand, I am extremely impatient person, and always want to change something in ready pattern. That is why I enjoy free-form so much, since I am physically unable to make two sides of the same necklace completely symmetrical.
It is pretty difficult to explain, but most of my designs come to me simply. Sometimes, stones "tell" me what bezel they would prefer, or seed beads decide how they would like to be mixed. Some of the design elements appear in my mind on the fine edge between sleep and being awake, some are inspired by nature, music or literature, other - by folklore or other artists' work. I rarely make sketches, and it happens every now and then that the finished design is pretty different from the original idea.
Before the Fashion Colorworks I was not seriously considering entering any big international beading contests, there was never enough time. Also now, when I just heard about the Fashion Colorworks participation in it was not an issue - the initial submission deadline was exactly in the middle of the research grant application period, which is the toughest time in the year if you are a scientist in Sweden. However, when the deadline was changed, I became increasingly curious and decided to give it a try.
Out of three color combinations of the contest, there was only one that I would call "natural" for me - that is the palette used to make my winning "Legends". The combination of violet, pink and red was, honestly speaking, most repulsive to my taste. The first set of blue, turquoise and pink champagne just did not cause any particular emotions. Nevertheless, at once I wanted to make a piece in each color scheme. It has required some mental energy and quite some figuring out, hence the name of my mini-collection for this contest - "Meditations". And, finally, I thought it would be interesting to make a piece in each of my favorite styles: bead embroidery, classical beadweaving and free-form.
I started thinking, what are the things that activate my fantasy? As a teenager, I was into yoga, vegetarian food, inner peace, spirituality, and things like that. Well, "things like that" do correspond to the first color combo, I thought. The first necklace is called "Skies Above Potala", and it is inspired by books of an exile Buddhist monk Lobsang Rampa about Tibet, as well as by folk art of Central East Asia. It was clear from the very beginning that "Potala" was going to be embroidered. That necklace was one of my very rare pieces where I had to make a sketch, since it was important to get the cloudy pattern perfectly aligned and the lines straight. I had fun playing around with different directions of bead stitches, as well as adding several layers to the bead embroidery to achieve the unique 3D-look. This is something I will continue developing in future!
Besides the spiritual aspects of human life, I have always been fascinated by sci-fi. In my opinion, there is no doubt that our Earth is not the only inhabited planet in the Universe. The second part of my "Meditations" is inspired by alien worlds, hence its name. The second color combination (the one I find very unnatural) fits the theme perfectly. Just for the fun, I used a faux rhodochrosite cabochon as the focal, and the natural one for the clasp.
The colored stripes on the dyed stone do perfectly show the colors of the second given combination under the natural light! The "Alien Worlds" represents my vision of extraterrestrial life - red stone and crystal flowers with fleshy pink leaves and agile violet tentacles. This necklace is entirely beadwoven. First, I made a V-shaped netted necklace, which was then embellished with seed beads, crystals, stone beads and freshwater pearls, techniques I used were coraling stitch and peyote leaves.
The third, winning necklace, is for my own, it's my treasure and not for sale. I love books of J.R.R. Tolkien and the spectacular trilogy of Peter Jackson. Out of all races of Tolkien's Middle Earth, I find mysterious elves the most fascinating. The third color combination together with silver is, in my opinion, definitely elvish. The focal component of the "Legends" is a huge cabochon from Russian serpentine. It looks really well together with a rich yellow simbircite! Speaking stones, there is also some African serpentine (aka "olive jade") and peridot among seed beads. Bezels of the two focal cabochons are embroidered with round metal seed beads, heavily plated with sterling silver.
Let's see what we got here - stones, glass seed beads, metal seed beads, Swarovski elements... Why not to add some lucite? The color and shape of those plastic flower beads fitted perfectly into my master plan. The central part of the necklace is made using free-form peyote, and then leaves were added on the sides. There are five different types of leaves there made using peyote and St. Petersburg chain stitch. I thought it would be a bit boring to use just the three given colors, and I also decided to add some shades and play around with bead coatings and finishes. Overall, there are more than 20 types of seed beads used to make that necklace, 2-5 grams of each.
This is the story behind my "Meditations". Looking at the entries of other contestants made me realize that Fashion Colorworks was both tough to win and to judge. It was very difficult to imagine the entire piece from a small preview window, but it became immediately clear that the necklace of Larisa Berenshtein and the tiara of Evgeniya Semina were extraordinary pieces of art! After looking at the entire pictures of the finalists, I just fell in love with the work of Alexandra Sidorenko. What a versatility of styles and talents was represented in this competition!
I often visited the gallery and constantly followed the new additions. Later, after the entire designs got exposed, I kept revisiting the gallery - just to admire with the beadwork of the other entrants and to get inspired. It must have been an overwhelming task to be a judge in this contest! Guess how I was happy to find out that my favorite necklace came into final! But I must admit that the message about my victory had the perfect timing.
You see, couple of days before winners' announcement I came back from a Beading Convention in Prague, and managed to get a nasty coughing virus during that travel. Just to add up, I got a heck of a pain in my back. So, I read the announcement lying on the sofa in my misery, not daring to move a muscle (which is not that easy when you're coughing). The good news about my win in the Fashion Colorworks 2010 worked out much better than any painkillers, I totally forgot about all the "issues"!
It is a great honor to compete against such a talented group of people, and to win such a competitive contest! My most sincere thanks go to the organizers, judges and sponsors for holding this event! As a scientist, I realize that chances of winning such a competition twice in a row are minimal, but I would definitely try to participate next year as well! There will certainly be more participants, more entries, and even tougher concurrence, but I am looking forward to being the color combinations of the coming year announced!
Working with seed beads is my magic, my hobby, my therapy and my meditation. After a tough day at work I know there is no better way to relax my troubled brain than a portion of hearty free-form!
|Olga Vinnere Pettersson, Uppsala, Sweden|