African Coast Necklace—The 3rd Annual Challenge of Colour

Challenge of color 2012 button

Well, today is reveal day for Erin Prais-Hintz’s 3rd Annual Challenge of Color. I have to admit I am late posting this, although it is still November 30 in the USA (phew!). It’s not that I hadn’t finished my piece, but the end of the year is in full swing around here and this week alone I have had my daughter’s piano concert, a school assembly performance, Christmas shopping, extreme heat, work, after school activities and, well, you get the picture.

Enough with the whinging and lame excuses and on to the challenge! Erin teamed up with Brandi Hussey, a jewellery designer turned colour guru, who created 40 palettes based on images from the Earth as Art series of satellite images. From Erin’s original blog post about the challenge:

The Earth As Art image gallery is a group of over 120 pictures taken from the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites since 1972. These pictures of the unique features of our beautiful planet are a vital resource for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources. Plus they are just so darned cool!

All the images that we will be using in this Challenge of Color and all the information that I found came from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which donated all these images to the Library of Congress.

The images in these galleries are spectacular. The views of mountains, valleys, islands and forests was well as agricultural patterns and even heavily populated areas are quite striking in their abstraction. The colors are much different than what you might expect. The satellite land imagery uses a digital palette that relates to the different levels on the infrared spectrum and help to give insight into the specific geography of the image.

Erin selected two palettes for each of us from the set of 40 that Brandi created. No two participants got the same pair of palettes, and we only had to use one of them. My two palettes were gorgeous:


north america

I was intrigued and challenged by the predominance of earthy red colours in both palettes—they are not colours I gravitate toward as a rule. I looked through my bead stash and found beads that matched both palettes, which I pulled aside. I had ideas for both, but unfortunately was only able to complete the piece for the first palette—but I will complete the second piece when I have some breathing space and post it in the next few weeks.

So, that first palette. It’s a satellite image of a small African country, Guinea-Bissau, taken on 1 December 2000. The image shows complex swirling patterns in the blue of the ocean surrounding it, which are caused by the deposition of silt from the rivers you can see carving their way through the landscape. From Wikipedia, I learned this about Guinea-Bissau:

Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000.

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with the bordering Republic of Guinea. Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since gaining independence and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term.

Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. A plurality of the population (44%) speaks Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam, and there is a Christian (mostly Catholic) minority.

The country’s per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.

This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.

The thing that struck me most about the image is the contrast of the vivid blue of the ocean with the red tones of the land. Interestingly, the red areas indicate dense vegetation, one of the quirks of the satellite images, which undergo complex processing to combine data collected across the electromagnetic spectrum (you can find an explanation of how these images are constructed on Erin’s blog post, linked above).


So those contrasts are what I tried to capture in my African Coast necklace, which uses copper chain and findings, combined with some Czech glass beads in an autumnal blend of lighter and deeper reds, as well as cobalt blues. I wove a blue silk fairy ribbon through the chain to highlight the vivid blues of the ocean. Sadly, I couldn’t find an art bead in my stash that had the right colours, so this time around I have not used one.


As I said above, I have plans to make a piece based on the second palette too. I have a set of crazy lace agate beads that not only contain the earthy mix of orangey-browns but the pattern of colour of the natural stone resembles the image above.


It’s been an enjoyable challenge, and one that I wish I had had more time to work on. Thank you for the beautiful palettes Erin and Brandi, and I’m really looking forward to hopping around to see everyone’s palettes and creations. Here is a list of the participants:

Jeannie Dukic    (life threw her a curveball, spread some sunshine to her anyway!)
Kristen Stevens  (her Muse is on vacation – hop over and give her Muse a nudge 😉
Tracy Stillman   (hard to bead with a wrist injury, send healing thoughts)
Melissa Trudinger  YOU ARE HERE!

27 thoughts on “African Coast Necklace—The 3rd Annual Challenge of Colour”

  1. Melissa, it’s always tomorrow somewhere… sounds like a song! Only 8:00 pm, still Friday, here on Canada’s East Coast, and I’m enjoying all the amazing creations from far and near. I love your beautiful necklace with its striking blue ribbon contrasting the earthier beads. Can’t wait to see what you create with your crazy lace agates!

  2. Great post Melissa! Mines up… But not really done, so I know how you feel. I think it’s a beautiful necklace, perfec blue hit. Can’t wait to see the next!

  3. Love, love, love your necklace – the length and all the strands to pick on those glorious colors in your first color palette. And I love the beads that you’ll be inspired to use to capture some from that earthy second palette as well! Super job! JLynn

  4. Your necklace is beautiful! I love the ribbon in the back and the copper findings. It matches your palette perfectly and is a great home for that little fish bead (he is adorable). I know your second project will be amazing as well .. those beads are perfect!

  5. Oh, I just love your interpretation of that first palette! The vivid blue is stunning, but I’m also loving the mix of beads you used. All of the colors go so well together!

    Thanks for playing along! I hope you get a chance to finish the second idea you have in mind. 🙂

  6. Gorgeous! Love the ribbon woven into the chain, gives a lovely contrast to the beads. I’m sure it would be lovely to wear. Can’t wait to see what you make with the agate beads!

  7. Fantastic response to the challenge — Love the turquoisey, coral piece, and I love the monochromatic agate scheme of the North America. The second was also one I was given, but didn’t interpret either. Great job.

  8. I am struck by the contrasts in this palette. The bright blues and the vivid reds almost seem harsh in comparison, but when you look closer there are other tones that you captured so well in your necklace. I love it. I love that you got super inspired to do both (and at a later date is cool too, something to look forward to!) and that you also had beads in your stash that worked even though you didn’t think you would. Serendipity, right? I am so glad you could participate in the Challenge with me! Enjoy the day. Erin

  9. Love your necklace for the African coast. Very whimsical, yet pulls the color palette together very well. Love the Crazy Lace agate beads you’ll use for your second palette, too. Can’t wait to see how you intrepret it.

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