Monday, November 22, 2010

Beadwork in Brick Stitch

AddThis Social Bookmark ButtonContinuing along in my discussion of stitched beadwork as a fiber technique to be found in the Potomac Fiberarts Gallery is brick stitch. Brick stitch is an off loom form of beadweaving done with a threaded needle and involves picking up beads, one at a time, with the needle and stitching into the thread bridge that connects two previously attached beads. The threaded needle then passes up through the new bead snugging the bead down on top of the crack between the two beads of the previous row like brick in a wall.
This produces a flat piece of beadwork with a flat top and bottom row and staggered sides. Patterns may be produced by varying colors to create horizontal lines and diagonals but not verticals.
If you turn brick stitch on its side, it appears to mimic peyote stitch and visa versa. However, the stitches are not interchangeable. Peyote stitch involves stringing beads along in a straight line, interlacing into the line below while in brick stitch, the thread changes direction doubling back on itself with each additional bead. As a result, peyote stitch is more flexible that brick stitch and more appropriate for things that drape while brick stitch is used for vessels and structures that need to have more body.

The following sculpture is a peyote stitched one of mine: USA Duffle Bag I:
It is the first in a series, where the second was done in brick stitch. The brick stitched one is much stiffer as brick stitch contains more thread per bead as well as having the thread pull in two directions each stitch. The lettering (USA) had to be done differently due to the different handling of horizontal vs vertical lines. In addition, the colors of the peyote stitched bag appear brighter as the thread is almost completely hidden within the beads. In the brick stitched version, thread can be seen peeking out between the rows of beads, dulling the colors, but assisting in blending.
USA Duffel Bag I; peyote stitch:
USA Duffel Bag II; brick stitch:
These are necklaces of mine (Joanne Strehle Bast) where I used flat brick stitch to support artist fused glass pieces. Note, however in the back views, that the small rolls through which the strung cord is threaded are peyote stitch--peyote rolls better.
Brick stitch may be done flat, in a circle, in a tube, or freeform. Gladys Seaward creates a necklace of circular brick stitching.
I also used circular brick stitch to form the base of the Butterfly brooch.
"Summer Kite Vessel" By Joanne Bast is a container sculpture whose bottom begins with circular brick stitch then continues up the sides in a tubular brick stitch. Note the use of diagonal lines in the design.
While peyote stitch is begun by stringing a sequence of beads on a thread so that the beads are arranged hole to hole, brick stitch is begun by constructing what is called a "bead ladder". In a bead ladder, the beads are arranged standing upright like little soldiers, side to side with a thread bridge extending from the top of one bead hole to the top of the next and the bottom of each bead hole to the bottom of the next. This produces a bead snake that can be bent into any shape and fixed in that bent position by increasing and/or decreasing in the adjacent rows. This makes brick stitch especially useful in producing leaves and flowers with an organic feel as in the leaf earrings, ladybug brooch and starfish necklace by Joanne Bast.
Continuing further in this flexibility of line that brick stitch allows is Joanne Bast's "Tap Soul" where beads are actually stitched to wired taps. Each letter in the words STEP_STAMP_STOMP begins with a separate bead ladder which is squished into letter shape and then fixed in place by shaping the adjacent rows of brick stitch.
"Ode to Hundertwasser", also by Joanne Bast consists of brick stitching surrounding a rock to create a sculpture that derives motifs from the paintings of Hundertwasser. Note the shaping of the curving lines and the use of different sized beads to taper the lines.
Another of the advantages of brick stitch is the ease with which different sized beads may be incorporated together. In peyote stitch, each new bead must fit into the space between two existing beads-larger beads may be squeezed in, but their is a limit to how big. Brick stitch has no such limit as can be seen in Joanne Bast's unfinished "Shadows of the Shaman" figure where very large beads are incorporated along with very small beads to shape the petroglyphic inspired figure.
Figures in brick stitch are a special fondness of mine. Swingtime is a brooch.
The African Dancers are ornaments that hang.
I have also done several dancing couples including Charleston, Swing and Disco. I will refer you to my own blog archives of Dec 2009 for these. Older archives follow their construction in detail.

Finally I would like to include some pictures done in brick stitch. First is "Starry Night" after the painting by Van Gogh. Note the energy that the changing direction of design lines gives. The picture would be less dynamic if gridded into peyote stitching or loomed work.
Second is "Coral Sea" where fish and corals are pictured in brick stitch. The tendrils wrapping around the plexi armature are constructed of more flexible peyote stitch. Changing back and forth from one beadwork stitch to another allows me to use each stitch to its best advantage.
I will end today with an unfinished piece "No Where Is An Island", my most ambitious piece so far inspired by a trip to the Figi Islands combined with a 1996 Israeli rocket response attack meant for Hezobolah targets that hit a refugee camp under the control of UN soldiers from Figi. It struck me that even what most people consider a secluded island paradise is not unaffected by events halfway around the world. This is the top half of the piece, the bottom segways into peaceful tropical scenes. I have chosen brick stitch for this scene as I feel that it will give me the freedom of expression as well as the functional stability of a large piece of work. Joanne

1 comment:

Gwen Fisher said...

Your work is wonderful. The starry night piece is incredible!