Fabric-Free Vintage and Modern Beaded Ensemble
Gail Be, American, United States, 2004
This wildly erotic design was created with over a quarter million glass beads and took four people over seven full months to complete. There is absolutely no fabric used in this entire costume.
The accessory pieces are made from vintage and modern Swarovski crystal and 24kt Venetian glass beads. The base of this outfit was created with Japanese silver-lined beads to give it a shimmering, underlying glow. Thousands of German and Czech beads were then strung, curled and layered on top to give this ensemble its wild and exotic allure.
Several years ago I was able to obtain hundreds of thousands of vintage German, special three-cut seed beads from a jewelry store that had closed in the 1940’s and had kept them in storage for over 60 years. It was such an incredible experience for me to be able to open them directly from their original packing paper and boxes.
Since they were so special I wanted to wait for just the right creation to use them. When I saw Raquel Welchin her super sexy “Jane jungle looking outfit” walking out of the water this design came to me. After several different proto-types we finally created a technique to make these very cool curled strands.
There is no other way to describe it—to make a fully beaded base skirt is a Bitch! It is so complicated to weave with beads a design that is several inches wider on the bottom and then tapers in at the waste. It took four of us to finally come up with a technique to get it to lie flat. It was like first constructing a huge bridge and then figure out how to build the supports to hold it up. Complicated is an understatement, to be sure.
The 24kt gold Venetian glass beads were individually handcrafted by artisans that still use the original 800 year old recipe. All the vintage Swarovski crystal beads are in pristine condition and were manufactured in Austria between 1920 - 1938 and 1945 - 1954. They were taken directly from their original manufactured packages.