Monday, August 20, 2012

Bead Soup Pre-Reveal Musings

Are you an overthinker? I sure am - I think everything over, and over, 'til I've thought it to death. The most recent subject of my overthinking? The BSBP.

Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) is a design challenge: you sign up, are assigned a partner (from hundreds of participants), and then exchange the following with your partner:
  • a focal
  • a clasp
  • some coordinating beads

Then you start creating, incorporating some beads from your own stash into your design. The idea is to stretch yourself creatively; thinking outside your normal box, moving beyond your comfort zone as you work with the treasures you received from your partner, elements you might not have purchased on your own! And did I mention? There's a deadline!

My first BSBP was last fall; this is the second BSBP I've participated in - my reveal date this time is Saturday, August 25. Stay tuned!

I know a lot of my readers are also BSBP participants, and I wonder if you guys think about it as much as I do? (Not possible, my inner voice says - LOL).

I start by thinking and overthinking my choices for the soup mix I send my partner. And once I receive my soup, my brain goes into design hyperdrive!

So here are some musings -
  • It seems to me there are a couple of ways to approach the Bead Soup Challenge - 

Approach #1: Work "outside of your box" - take these (possibly) foreign components you've received, and make something that is not "in your style."  After all, with so many creative souls participating in the challenge, there's bound to be a some creative dissonance. Maybe the items you received aren't your "color", or your "medium," or your "style", or even your "size."

What do I mean by this?

Well, for instance, last year the focal I received was carnelian - a stone I don't use much because I hate the color - hey - it's just MY opinion!

As for medium, I happen to be an inveterate beadweaver - but maybe YOU aren't. What if you received a cabochon and 5 tubes of seed beads? What would you do? Learn how to beadweave?

As to style - I personally don't go for religious, or for vintage. So I would have been in a quandary had I received this:
Vintage cross, from (ironically) "We All Love a Dose of Vintage Glamour" - ironic, because, we all don't!

For that matter, this would have freaked me out, too:
goddess beads freak me out!

And what about size? Can beads be the wrong size? Well, sure they can! I prefer big chunky statement jewelry, others have a more dainty style. That can lead to a real style mismatch - If I received a focal like this:

I would wonder why my partner had mailed me half of a pair of (small!) earrings! Where's the other earring bead? I'm not even sure I could could create a piece using this focal - I think every bead I own is larger than this focal!

Likewise, I can easily see how one of my statement focals would present a big (LOL) design challenge for a partner who normally works on a smaller scale!

But that is all part of the Bead Soup Challenge. So for those of you who have participated in BSBP, do YOU take the components you've received and step outside of your design/style box?

Approach #2: Make your soup mix conform to your "box": take the (possibly foreign) components you've received, and make them fit your design sensibilities.

I confess to this - for instance, last year, I didn't like the color of my focal, so I changed it. I did peyote stitch around the focal, changing it from carnelian to light green.

If I received a small (in my opinion) focal, I'd probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it larger! But how would you do the opposite: can you make a too-big focal smaller?

Approach 3#: The Hybrid -  A combination of Approaches 1 and 2. I know this is where I fall! For both last year's challenge AND the current one, I taught myself at least one new technique (this year, several new techniques!). This was my interpretation of the BSBP challenge, really: learn something new. But in reality, even though I stretched myself and learned new techniques, what I created in both challenges was in MY style. Did I think outside my box, or did I just make my own box a little bit larger?

  • More musings: Selecting the soup for your partner. 

My interpretation of the BSBP "challenge" is to send your partner items they don't normally work with, hence...the challenge. Of course, I love to incorporate beadweaving into my BSBP design(s), but evidently, and understandably, not everyone feels this way. I can imagine the horror if, for example, someone who thrives on wirework received a cabochon and some seed beads - seems unreasonable to expect someone to learn beadweaving just for the challenge, right? Of course, they could always pull out their wire and wrap that cab, right? But that's not outside their box! Kind of a paradox: challenge your partner, but not TOO much!

I actually stepped outside of my box (I really hate that saying, BTW) and wire-wrapped a focal for my partner this time. I prefer most anything over wire! But then again, I know HOW to wirewrap, so maybe I didn't step outside of my  box, just outside of my comfort zone!

I spent a lot of time deciding what to send my partner, from the focal, to the clasp, to the coordinating beads. Which leads to my next musing:

  • It is my belief that when we select the soup ingredients for our partner, we subconsciously (or maybe consciously) picture what they'll create with these components. I mean, come on - when you pick out coordinating beads and components, you think they "coordinate" because you are picturing a finished design (like I said, maybe it's subconscious.) And after talking to other "soupers" and reading posts and comments on blogs, I really believe this to be true. You've seen the comments: along the lines of, "wow, that's not at all what I pictured when I looked at your soup!" And I think this is the source of some post-reveal let-down: maybe your partner didn't use the focal you carefully selected for her, or changed its color (guilty!), or whatever - in some way your own expectations of someone else's designs weren't met. After all, part of YOU is in that design!

And again, that's part of the BSBP challenge:
  • You sign up, you agree to the terms, and you send off the beads. Then you need to let go - they aren't your beads anymore! 

Let's say your partner didn't use your focal bead. Maybe it was just too big - I know I'm guilty of sending large focals, because I love them! Or just maybe, it was so pretty they are saving it for something else - you know that feeling you get, when a bead is so special you have to hoard it away!

I'm not even going to address the issue of a partner failing to make anything at all for the reveal. It happens, and again, you have to let it go. The only person whose behavior you can control is your own!

Here's the last BSBP topic I want to muse about:
  • You and your partner exchange the following: a focal, a clasp, and some coordinating beads.
My personal interpretation of this is that the focal and the clasp and the beads should all coordinate with each other - meaning that I should be able to take the focal and clasp and coordinating beads and turn them into one (1) completed design. I'm not saying that's the requirement, it's just the way I interpret it! And it's my mindset when I'm putting together the soup I send my partner - I certainly think they all go together when I pick them out!

Please don't misinterpret what I just said - I am NOT saying that the bead soup I've received from my 2 partners doesn't go together. Not at all.

What I'm saying is, once I receive my soup, my mind starts churning in a bunch of different directions, and before I know it, I've created one piece using the focal, and one piece using the clasp, and possibly another piece using the beads, or maybe multiple pieces using multiple bead combos. And that's on me! Not saying it isn't!

How many of you play THIS game: you receive your soup: you admire and examine the focal and/or the beads, and start playing "How many beads can I match with these components?" Last year, I pulled SO many beads to go with what I received from my partner that I filled a 4" x 6" x 8" box with coordinating beads from my stash - and then I wanted to make something to use ALL of them. It had changed from a BSBP challenge to a  "Look how much I can match with that" challenge! Crazy! And even crazier, or sadder: I haven't put those unused beads back where belong yet! But that's another story.

Last year I really overwhelmed myself with creating designs for the BSBP, and this year I was determined to make ONE piece for the challenge. Just one. But my partner sent me way, way too many goodies - and before I knew it, I was off designing, matching, creating, and once again, BSBP has taken over my studio and my creative life! And it's not over yet - I still have a couple of things I want to make! Thank goodness I had the last reveal: more time!

Are you a BSBP obsessor? Or is BSBP just a blip on your design radar? I'd love to hear about it!

Disclaimer: These musings are generic, and not related to my personal experiences with BSBP (except where noted). I'm purposely making this post BEFORE my reveal, to avoid any possible misinterpretations of my own BSBP experiences! These opinions are MINE. I think (and overthink) about stuff, and I have the freedom to express my thoughts here!

4 comments: said...

Wow - I thought I was the only one - now I want to join this bead soup just so that I can stress myself out even more (I'd rather stress on beads than anything else I need to do)
I cant wait to see what you have put together

dreaminofbeads / SAS Jewelry Designs said...

I have done some of the things you have mentioned. I love the challenge of the BSBP the best and in my first BSBP I really received an amazing focal that I probably would never had bought, but I ended up loving it and made something so cool and out of my comfort zone. I was thrilled. This go around I have 2 partners and I am trying to create out of my box, but one of my designs I am working more inside my box then outside. I do fret about what to send, I really want my partner to love what I send them. But you are right once the beads leave my hands they are my gift to my partner and they are no longer mine.

Lori Anderson said...

Not sure what to say. I guess I hope you had fun, got something out of it? I hate to think of anyone being so stressed.

Sweet Freedom said...

Gosh, Lori - I'm not sure why you are apologizing! Like I said, I overthink EVERYthing, and I just decided to outline my BSBP thoughts in a post. It's my experience in life that if I'm thinking something, probably at least one other person out there is thinking it too! I honestly just wanted to hear if other folks overthough their designs, too!

I didn't intend anything in this post as an accusation or condemnation. And at this stage in my life, it something isn't fun, I don't do it! Those days are long gone! :)