I love it when someone takes my book, One Bead at a Time, to heart. It's all about exploring creativity with improvisational bead embroidery, and the side benefits that often happen during the process. And I love it even more, when someone takes it to heart and then sends me pictures and tells me about their experience. Just such a blessing happened today - a message from Julie, someone I've never met, but someone who used my book to open doors (as you will see). The picture below shows her first bead embroidery piece!
The Journey, a mandala by Julie Bartlett
Here is what Julie writes about her work: "The Journey was my first experiment with bead embroidery after having bought your book. I bought the book because I wanted to learn how to “colour outside the lines” so to speak. Creativity has always been a big part of my life. In fact along with a few other precious people and events I’d say it was pretty much a life saver. Until The Journey I had only made jewellery with beads ... I used other peoples’ patterns. I needed to convince myself that I could create by myself with no plan. Truly, this was a test of courage.
I was very nervous at first. I tentatively put a few beads down, all the while thinking that I wouldn’t get very far. That I would run out of ideas soon and that it would look bad by the time I had finished it. It was slow at first but the work seemed to gather momentum. The more I did, the more encouraged I became. Eventually it became so enjoyable that I could barely be parted from it. On some days when the sunlight shone on the beads, it was heart breakingly beautiful. The colour green has always attracted me. I never wear it but I’m quite sure that green has a healing effect. I felt this with every stitch.
The Journey refers to our journey back home to The Creator, our journey back to wholeness and love. I’m not religious funnily enough but I am extremely spiritual, and creating The Journey has been a very spiritual experience for me. It has been about having the courage to trust that every step we take in life is perfect for us. Stepping away from ego and being willing to be who we really are warts and all and loving ourselves and others for being just that. Seeing that life and all of us is perfect just as we are. The Journey helped me to see that. Every little stitch helped me to understand that it all unfolds as it should, that whatever comes next is simply perfect. It also helped me to understand that we are the coCreators of our life too. Now, you can’t ask more from a piece of bead embroidery that that can you!
Mandalas have always been a symbol of wholeness and I guess that’s why I chose not to bead outside of the circle. I did wonder about whether or not to embellish the outside edge but chose not to in order to keep to the true nature of a mandala."
I didn't edit Julie's story much because I think every word of it is precious. Art is a journey for so many of us. And for me, like Julie, it is a pathway to my more spiritual side.
I wanted to include one more picture - a detail of her mandala, showing the circular patterns of the dark green background color - but the image upload isn't working right now, so look for it in a new post, above.
What I especially enjoy about Julie's mandala is that it's at the same time symetrical, yet not symetrical... I love the background circles. I love the way the background fills a slight void in one of the circular motifs... I love the pathway through the piece. Her mandala, unlike others I've seen, really tells a story. It IS a journey; even just to look at it is a journey.