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LACE BEADING MY OWN WAY
Interview of Colette L’Hopital-Navarre (Coco)
Words collected by Blandine Guyot (Nouchka)
I thank Ronit Florence from Canada for rewriting this text into proper English
I am now sufficiently familiar with your work to know that you are interested in diverse techniques. Among them, lace beading has an important place and I wish to interview you on this subject.
How did you come up with this peculiar lace technique of pinning motifs to a sheet of rubber cardboard and then linking them to each other?
I have always been interested in the fiber arts, particularly Irish crochet, comprising multiple crocheted elements, and counted cross-stitch. When I began to get interested in lace beading, I envisaged it as a combination of different motifs because it is much easier to redo a small element when you have made a mistake, than to redo the whole necklace. Moreover, the variety of motifs permitted me to never repeat the same design twice. However, there were still many technical problems to be solved, particularly, how to join the motifs together and how to give a round shape to the necklace.
As a graphic designer and model maker, I often used the rubber cardboard as medium, to conceive, for example, the models of perfume packaging before making them in cardboard. This material was therefore familiar to me. Only the rubber cardboard would allow me to fix all the elements of a lace beading project with pins. So, after some experimentation, I adopted it. Once the form of a piece of jewelry is thus fixed, it is easier to find a way to join the motifs.
Where do you find inspiration for your motifs ?
My inspiration comes from different sources such as observing nature, lace bobbin tablemats or simply from the desire to conceive a motif of a form that springs up from my mind as a function of my mood. For example, when I feel energetic, I turn to dynamic motifs with strong peaks and valleys. When I am in a quiet mood, I turn to less lively motifs. My imagination does the rest. All that I see combines with my crochet experience in my conscious or unconscious mind to bring about such designs.
What do you do to create a motif, and how much time does it take you ?
Sometimes I take my needle and beads and go off in search of a form. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, and sometimes I end up creating a different motif than the one I had in mind originally.
On other occasions, I fall in love with a Filet lace motif and try to transform it into a beaded motif. This tends to be very difficult, sometimes impossible and frustrating !
In fact, unless you do it yourself, it is impossible to imagine how time consuming it is to create a motif and then create a piece of jewelry by combining such motifs. I must do and re-do things. Sometimes, I start a motif and put it aside for days or weeks. Then, I pick it up again and the motif takes its final shape at last. When I design intermediate motifs, I have to deal with the additional difficulty of integrating them into the existing motifs already in place. Unfortunately, patience is not one of my virtues…
When I have a clear idea of the design I wish to create, I start by drawing it. However, the drawing does not solve all the problems because the beads are capricious. You cannot always make them do what you want. Therefore, I have to reconsider my work and change different elements, so that they fit well into the whole. In general, I tend to change elements in order to deal with technical problems.
When you create a motif, do you know in advance what the general shape of the design is going to be ?
I never know what the shape of a piece of jewelry is going to be. The motifs will nearly always determine its shape. While searching for a way to combine the motifs, the shape usually emerges. I continue to experiment and search for the best technique to create the finished shape.
The work of a graphic designer when imagining a poster, for example, consists of setting drawings, photos and text in a specified space. All the elements of such a poster must be balanced in this space. The eye must be drawn to the message the poster is meant to communicate. The same is true for a painting and for a sculpture. Is it not marvelous that the fixed gesture of a statue seems to continue into space, towards infinity, and that the vanishing lines of a painting carry us along towards imaginary spaces ?
It is exactly the same when it comes to lace beading - the piece must be balanced and the eye must be drawn to its focal point. I have always considered solving problems of balance as an aesthetic and graphic challenge.
What do you find most appealing about lace beading compared to other techniques ?
I am interested in other beadweaving techniques, but the way in which they capture space seems different to me, more linear, more repetitive. Lace beading offers varied curves and swirls that I do not find in other techniques.
You will find practical information in the article How to use a Sheet of Rubber Cardboard
Illustrations sources :
• Irish crochet : with the kind authorisation of Catherine Maillard
• Other photos : from authors' personal archives