November 09, 2008

EBW "Ancestral Expressions " Challenge and My Unlisted Entry

Voting to Etsy Beadweavers' November Challenge "Ancestral Expressions" has begun! Please visit the EBW blog to see what beautiful pieces, created especially for this interesting challenge and vote for your favorite entry. Your comment is also appreciated ;)
Good Luck to all the participants!

I have made this embroidered cuff for the challenge but decided NOT to list it, although I have finished it just before the deadline. In this work, I tried to imitate some traditional designs and ornaments that I really love, used in Yemenite silversmith work and embroidered ornaments of clothes. I also used black, red, silver and gold, which are commonly used in the Yemenite costumes.
The main reason for not listing it is that I have noticed (too late..) that some of the gold seed beads just lost their color :( (bad coating I guess), but I'm also not very pleased with how the whole design and work came out.
I probably worked too tight, shrinking the backing material. It supposed to be a symmetrical design, but then I didn't have the same enough room on both sides. I tried to press together the lines, but ended up with piled up beads at some parts.
I did finish it off, though, attached UltraSuede on the back, and also the clasp – Why? I don't know. I just needed to see it finished. Maybe it's because I wanted it so much and worked so hard on it and I'm a bit "emotionally attached" to this piece, that I couldn't leave it in my "to unpick" box… I'll just keep it, or wear it on a special family occasion.

But, despite of the outcome, I am happy I made it. I have learned some important lessons that I'll use in the future.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was when the theme was published, Thank You! Deb of Beadandbloom. Not only did I enjoy creating something in this Yemenite style, but also and mostly I enjoyed talking with my mother about it, bringing back memories and stories of times, when life was much simple and everything was so different from now… (I am excited almost to tears as I type these lines and, yes, I know I am very emotional…).

My grandfather from my mother's side was a Yemenite silversmith. Back in Yemen, apart from being a Rabi and a Jewish teacher, he used to create beautiful gold and sterling silver beads, findings and also Jewish ritual objects. When my mother's family left Yemen 60 years ago to come to Israel, they had to leave behind almost everything they had (they were very rich back then). They were allowed to take only a parcel of clothes and some personal stuff, but they didn't care much about it – the only thing that mattered to them was to finally come to the Holy Land. My grandfather took some of his working tools with him and after the family settled in a small, poor neighborhood of Tel Aviv, he opened his little work shop again and continued his silversmith work.

I remember when I was a child, I used to sit beside him in his tiny shop (I mean really small- like the space of a small bathroom) and was fascinated by his intricate, delicate and detailed work and by all his tools, which he never let me try using any of them ("too sharp/heavy/hot", he used to say) . Most of his creations were for the bride's costume for the traditional Jewish Yemenite wedding, called Henna. The Henna party is still celebrated by the Yemenite people in Israel (unlike other traditional things that were abandoned).
My mother still have this very rich, colorful bride&groom's costumes that consists of a lot of handmade jewelry, and she's working very hard at keeping this tradition alive.
I could have write more and more on this subject, branching out to others, but this post has become an endless one, so I'll stop here. You can read and see a bit more about this Yemenite costume in this post.


  1. I hope you will consider working in this style some more, Smadar. Your love for your heritage just really shows through here and makes this such a very significant piece. I could see some of the design elements being applied to piece in herringbone, which would be simpler and quicker to work up.

  2. Beautiful work. Your blog was a pleasure!

    I understand your frustration with the gold ebads. I got a bad batch, and made sveral sets out of them. I had to restring them, but this time I used 14kt plated beads. They worked out much better. It's sad when we try so hard to create a quality piece, only to have it stymied by poor quality materials (talk about hindsight)!

    Best wishes as you create and "birth" new designs.


  3. Smadar - It's so sad that you wound up with bad beads! The design is beautiful, and as Carol Dean said, I hope you do more in this style.

    You have such amazing talent!

  4. Thanks for letting us see it anyway Smadar! It's nice to keep some things for yourself, so I just hope you enjoy wearing it-- a lot!

  5. To me, it seems wonderful !

  6. oh Smadar!!!! my initial reaction was oh my G-d this is soooo beautiful!!!! then sad at reading the reason why you didn't enter it.... but what got me the most, and brought tears to my eyes, was reading about your mother and her family leaving Yemen with nothing and just being happy to come to Israel!!! I still have tears in my eyes!!! the piece is just stunning, I can see the Yemenite influence but it is so modern and current! I just love it and i'm so happy you finished it and shared it and the story behind it with us! thank you!

  7. Also-- I passed on a Butterfly award for coolness in beauty to you, because you have one of the prettiest blogs I read:)

  8. The story behind your piece gives it so much more depth and beauty! What wonderful memories were remembered and created in this piece! Gorgeous!

  9. Thank you so much all! You are all so kind! :)
    Materials that appear to be of bad quality are the worse thing that can happen to a beadweaver... so frustrating... after putting so much time and work into a piece... :(

    Sarah, thanks so much also for honoring me with the award :)

  10. Your cuff is beautiful. Please wear it and don't let it sit hidden in a drawer.

    I'm envious of your strong family heritage. My background is so mixed up I had a hard time coming up with an idea for the challenge.

    Start working on your Dec challenge piece :)

  11. Smadar, I tend to be a bit emotional too, I guess. When I read the story behind your beautiful cuff, I got teary eyed, too. I hope you will treasure wearing it. Sometimes there is much beauty in the imperfections in life. I'm so glad the theme gave you happiness and connection with your family.

  12. Oh, this is such a beautiful cuff. I am sorry things didn't come together the way you wanted. But, it is still beautiful none the less.

  13. it is a really beautiful piece! I always like to see your beadwork, you have a really good design sense.

  14. Thanks so much everyone!

    Dawn, you can try to make a free-form piece with a little bit of every thing..could be an interesting piece ;)

    Beadsandblooms, thanks, and you are right about the imperfections.. :)

  15. love the combination of colors and textures on this! {:-Deb

  16. its the love that goes into the work that makes it the work of art..and that shows in abundance in that beautiful cuff. Lovely lovely work ♥

  17. Thank you, Deb!
    And thanks to you too, sweetwater. I do love my family heritage and love beadweaving, very much!

  18. Awesome!
    Again a wonderful piece of art!

  19. Smadar,

    This is a very beautiful story, thank you for sharing it with us. You already know how I feel about your lovely bracelet. For me it's the tiny imperfections that creates a true work of art.

  20. Dear Louise, thank you so much! I keep in mind all that you've told me and I'll try to use it in my future works.

  21. hello !

    I find your very very beautiful blog, that is why I awarded you the price(prize) " Ilove your blog "

    Copy out the image
    Find 7 perleuses among which to appreciate you the blog.
    Go to warn them of their rewards.

    Still bravo

  22. Merci & Thank you so much, coco, for honoring me with this award! Your creations are lovely!

  23. Complimenti per i tuoi splendidi lavori. Ti dedico il premio " I love your Blog ". Continua a creare gioielli meravigliosi !

  24. Thanks so much for honoring me with this award, Claudia!
    I checked your blog and found some amazing beadwoven creations!