Vintage Beaded Blouse
Gail Be, American, United States, 2003
I spent over 13 years to assemble the more than a dozen different style vintage beads to create this magnificent beaded sculpture. I acquired these beads from several different private and corporate collections throughout Europe and the United States. The vintage Swarovski beads are in pristine condition and have never been worn. They were taken directly from the original manufactured packages. These beads would be too expensive to reproduce today, so this design is guaranteed to be a one-of-a-kind piece of art history.
This was the first full life size beaded fashion I ever created, so being my “first born” she will always be very precious to me. It took me over 1,000 hours to complete. Up to this point I had been making jewelry. Granted many were huge and great pieces of art in their own right-but they were still accessories, which meant at every fashion show I participated in-I would always be accessorizing another designer’s work.
After many years of helping other people’s fashions look even better with my jewelry, I decided if I truly wanted to move up from my cheerleader position and become quarterback-which meant I would have to become a fashion designer myself. But all I knew how to do was bead, and I had never seen anyone make a full size fashion-only out of beads, with no fabric?! Unheard of. The few small pieces I had seen, like a bikini, were always soldered, stiff, and very cheap looking.
I had no human who I could look for answers on how to create what I wanted so I decided to make God a deal. I told God if He would show me how to make a fully beaded top-with no fabric, without soldering, but a garment that you could put on and still be flexible enough to move in, I would, in exchange, donate her to an international museum for the whole world to enjoy. God is fully aware that I don’t know how to draw or do mathematical or geometrical calculations-like this design demanded. And of course God knows I have no fashion background to fall back on, and that, in fact, I had flunked Home Ec. sewing in Junior High. But I had one thing-courage, passion, and faith.
I made this incredible piece with three hand tools. And yes, I felt like David with a little tiny slingshot going up against the giant. But you can’t give into your ego that says, “what do you think you are doing? You are nuts!” Instead I listened to that part of my soul that said, “Go forward and you will be shown.” And I was.
When someone with my limited credentials designs a piece of this magnitude and beauty, there is little doubt left in the viewers mind that this gorgeous sculpture has to be “a truly spiritually inspired piece of art.” I feel that by blending those incredible vintage beads that were designed with so much skill with my contemporary design, we created a collaborated masterpiece of unparalleled “excellence of craftsmanship.” And that God continues to grace me with my new found skills then I am a very blessed person, indeed.