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Layering Beaded Necklaces for SIA: Cherokee Beadwork + DIY Paper Bead Page to Bead Examples

Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked two pieces of beadwork by current Cherokee artist Martha Berry: "Floral Journey with a Twist" - a beaded bandolier bag (used for carrying gunpowder; left and right, top) and "Kamama (Butterfly)" - a traditional lady's purse (right, bottom). Shelbee recently visited Cherokee, NC where she saw many gorgeous pieces of art by local craftsmen, so she decided to select traditional beadwork for this challenge.


I immediately picked out a few things I wanted to include in my outfit. Based on the dominant colors of the work, I selected my new red plaid pants (that I bought at the same time as the hunter green pants I wore in the last SIA). Following the bead theme I chose two pieces I made myself: my DIY red multi-strand seed bead and chain necklace from summer 2021 and a black and red DIY bead bracelet set that I made earlier this winter but hadn't worn yet.

I decided to go for a layered necklaces look including two more bead necklaces (made by a friend) that I've had for almost 30 years!

The Ace of Hearts charm on the bracelet reminded me of the playing card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland so I chose a few additional Alice-themed items for the outfit: the Alice charm bangle (which debuted in a previous SIA outfit), the White Rabbit pocket watch pendant, and my new Alice scarf that my husband gave me for Valentine's Day. It features the very same White Rabbit image as the pendant...which as you can see, is the original John Tenniel drawing from the beginning of chapter 1 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I like to think that the rabbit on the scarf is looking at the pocket watch on my pendant, which itself has the rabbit looking at the pocket watch...for an infinite regress of rabbits looking at pocket watches. (This recursive imagery is called the Droste effect.)

It was funny...a couple days before Valentine's Day, I found my husband looking through my (massive) scarf collection and asked him what he was looking for. (I think I resisted the urge to channel the 1951 Disney Cheshire Cat by saying "lose something?" but I can't guarantee it because I say it all the time.) He said he was looking for my Alice in Wonderland scarf (which he would never ever find on his own). Turns out that when my new Alice scarf arrived in the mail, he was afraid he might have ordered another of the one I already have (which was also a gift from him in 2013). Luckily, though both are based on the original text/quotes and John Tenniel drawings from the book, the scarves are definitely not alike! The images are different, and my older one is made from white t-shirt knit fabric while the new one is made from a light golden drapey fabric, so they wear very differently.

Back to the style challenge...from these pants and the various beaded and bunnified accessories, it was time to build an outfit! To create a neutral backdrop to these statement items, I chose a lightweight ivory sweater and a blue denim jacket to finish the base outfit. I placed the scarf under the collar of the jacket and let the scarf hang down flat in the front to show off the White Rabbit and Alice drawings...and inspired by the way the bandolier bag was arranged for display. (This is not how a bandolier bag is worn, however! See this example with a now-former Cherokee Nation chief wearing a custom beaded bandolier bag by the same artist Martha Berry.)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 3/13/23

In addition to the handmade beaded necklaces shown above, I wore a set of 5 seed bead strands in various primary colors (inspired by the accent colors in Berry's beadwork) and two mixed metal multi-chain necklaces to complete this very busy layered necklace look.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I wore simple dark red crystal earrings and, by complete coincidence, had my hair in two side braids. I had just washed my hair and put it in braids to minimize the fuzziness from air drying. So my hair is very damp in these photos, which explains the darker-than-usual color.

DIY Bracelet Stack

As I mentioned in my recent bracelet layering post, I typically wear the beaded bracelet stack on my non-watch arm and the charm bangle bracelet with my watch...and that's what I did this time, too.

My cheetah print Oxfords get a lot of wear during the spring and fall transition seasons, and they felt like a fun print mix choice with the plaid pants. In this up-close photo, you can see that the pants have a very subtle beige/tan stripe in the plaid as well as the black. This gives the pants + shoes combo a two color overlap, which leads to a very cohesive print mix.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I really liked how the new scarf worked with the cheetah print Oxfords as they both have a light camel/gold and black color scheme. Add in my hair (shown in its fully dry state) and I have a little beauty bundle aka accessory set in this golden color. Is it cheating to include your hair as one of the 3 or more pieces in a beauty bundle? I think it's fair game! (Brenda Kinsel showed a 3 piece beauty bundle in her hair color here, and I think she could have skipped the handbag entirely and still had a great beauty bundle!)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Now for our Rabbit Imitating Art selection! Going back to the beadwork, I was struck by the high contrast of the black background and white detail on the bandolier bag, so I thought a black and white rabbit would work nicely. This strikingly beautiful black Dutch rabbit almost jumped off the computer monitor as today's choice! She is eager and curious to learn more about this "beadwork" thing.

Black Dutch rabbit

She appears quite interested in these pieces (I think the nature motifs are a draw) and is probably wondering what it would feel like to chew them. Uh-oh! Friends don't let friends leave rabbits with free access to beads or beadwork! (Fortunately, the actual bandolier bag is currently at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.)

Cherokee beadwork "improved" with rabbit

Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating Art post!

To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on Shelbee on the Edge.

Here are the page-to-bead examples for the two paper bead bracelets in my DIY bracelet set. The first bracelet (with the Ace of Hearts charm) was made from a full-page image from a Lands End Christmas catalog. These strips rolled up nicely into beads with variegated stripes in soft red, beige, and olive colors.

The second bracelet was also made from a full-page image from a Lands End catalog (this time a cover). I added extra red and black to the edges of the strips using permanent marker to cover the white areas (not part of my color scheme). I used a black marker to cover the white core of the paper (because it's a catalog cover, the paper is thick enough for the white core to show on the rolled beads), which is why the beads have the thin black stripes. The combination of the solid marker-colored areas and the more varied original image areas makes for nicely complex beads.

Do you like to layer jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, rings...)? Do you wear beaded jewelry or other beaded accessories? Have you done any beadwork yourself (stringing, weaving...)?

Bead lovers: Martha Berry has a few videos on her YouTube channel demonstrating some of her techniques, if you're curious to learn more!

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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