Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bead Journal Project ~ My July Page

July's "page" is so different than June (see here), and yet they seem closely related, and I think deal with the same subject. Before I delve more deeply into the meaning, here is July.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, July bead journal project
When I went to Minnesota mid-June to visit my Mom (and teach in Chicago), I didn't really think I'd have time to work on my bead embroidery much. I took with me a small box of beads and prepared fabrics for my June page. To my surprise, I actually finished June and still had a couple of days with time to bead.

My sister-in-law (also a BJP member, but not yet active in the blog world) and I went fabric shopping to a great fabric/textile shop in St. Paul (Colorful Quilts) where I bought several fat quarters and quarter-yard cuts.

For July, I selected three of the fabrics that appealed to me at the moment and layered them on interleaving paper. The top layer is organza (from JoAnn Fabrics). It's quite reflective at some angles, but held at a different angle, you can easily see the pattern of the fabric under it.

Since the only beads I had with me were the ones for my June page, I had to go ahead and use them for July as well. Maybe that's part of the connection between the two pieces, although the fabric colors are opposites on the color wheel.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, July bead journal project, unfinished
Here's a picture of how it looked when I got back home. Something about it seemed incomplete... One morning I woke up with a strong awareness that I wanted the layers to be less flat. So that day I sewed a bunch of branch (or kinky) fringe at the edges between the layers. Below is a closer look at a bit of it.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, July bead journal project, detail of layering
One of my goals for the BJP is to use different materials, such as the organza fabric. For this piece, I also included some Angelina fibers, fused together as per this tutorial. Fun!!!! I used a small piece of it behind the rabbit charm, as you can see below. By the way, I believe the rabbit is one of my totem animals.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, July bead journal project, detail showing angelina and rabbit charm
Both the organza and Angelina were a stretch for me, because I'm the Matte Bead Queen... as in, puleeeezze spare me from any bling or glitz. And since this time I was going for the glitz anyway, why not add more? So the last thing was to use some of my vintage aluminum seed beads to make shooting stars.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, July bead journal project, detail vintage aluminum seed beads
Looking at the piece now, I see earth, water and air. This was not conscious... I only see it now that I'm finished with the piece. The whole piece is improvisational, and so the meaning stems from some unconscious source within me. As I've mentioned previously, sometimes I can find an understanding of my improvisational work by writing poems. Below is the poem I wrote while looking at both June and July at the same time.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, June & July bead journal projects
I am layers.
I am looking through the wall to the other side.
My big heart glows with simplicity
and tries to catch a glimmer
across the deep chasm
of the flowers on the other side.
I don't know where my pathway will flow.
The clock is ticking.
A river of time ~
misty, unpredictable.
I am seeking something intangible.
My beads and my rabbit will guide me.


  1. Love your glintz piece, the rabbit sitting on the grass looks so happy. Both pieces look really good together !

  2. Awwww... the rabbit is so cute:) I love the fringe, too!

  3. Wow, your July piece really came together. Having seen you work on it makes seeing it finished even more wonderful. I love the layers. I also love the shotting stars. We all need more shotting stars in our lives :)

  4. My first thought when seeing your new page was that you were unzipping, opening yourself up. It's scary trying new things. I know we can just set a project aside if we don't like the experience but the opening up is what we are looking for so we have to deal with the discomfort. I always thought of organza as a difficult material. Did it behave itself or did it try to unravel on you?

    Guess you have all the elements covered what with the fire of the June page!

  5. These are amazing pieces !
    I love the poem too.

  6. This page is fantastic, the layering is wonderful. What a great use for your vintage beads, it just all flows.

  7. I definately see the connection. Maybe because they are opposites on the color wheel, but they seem related to me. I'm finding that all sorts of hurts and imagine splits and things are getting worked out, without my being aware on my bead journal pages also. That was an unspoken aim for me, so it is working and I usually don't see it until it is done.
    Interesting work, Robin.

  8. I love the improvisational feel of this piece especially as compared to the June piece.

    I see a very feminine facet to this piece. The unzipping look of it and dare I point out that it looks like a vagina (can I say that here?) with a rabbit (a fertility totem) sitting in a thatch of (ahem) grass. The interior fabric even has what looks like eggs dropping.

    A very nice, very female piece. Love it Robin.

  9. Anonymous8:11 AM

    I really like them both, but this one seems much freer and looser...maybe even easier! :-)

  10. Hi Robin,

    I love how you let yourself flow into your work! This means a new discovery each time you or others look at your art. Beautiful projects! Thanks for sharing your process, thanks for this BJP, Lillian :o)

  11. To All ~ Thanks! I appreciate your support and comments soooooo much... more than I can express in words.

    To Freebird ~ Yes, I thought it resembled a zipper too ~ a double zipper ~ especially before I added the kinky fringe. It seems both scary and exhilirating (at the same time) to unzip my layers in this public way. Yes, organza is tricky... but since I knew it would fray quickly, I left a good 2" around the borders, which I hemmed under while working on the piece.

    To Cindy ~ I love it that we had the opportunity to work on our BJP pieces together in Chicago... I treasure the memory!

    To MaryT ~ Big hugs, m'friend! You don't know how happy it makes me feel to hear you say this!

    To Vivage ~ Very interesting comment! I never saw the feminine possibilities in this piece... but I do now. Thanks for being candid about your perceptions!

    To Lillian ~ Your comments are always so heartfelt and spot on... Thanks!

  12. I also thought of a zipper right away! You know Robin, when I grow up I want to bead just like you... you can really tell a story in your beading!

  13. OMG!!! I love this piece and find so much personal meaning in it. I feel it is like peeling back the layers to reaveal the truth behind. I see why people see zippers in it and the feminine aspects definately speak to our journey to rediscover ourselves and to reclaim our health and happiness. You are an inspiration! THANKS ~ Angie

  14. Lovely play with textures and fibers and beads!

    Kathy V in NM

  15. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Robin, your work and your poem really speak to me! I, too, have a 'speed limit' birthday coming up this fall ... and am in the midst of 'what do I want to do when I grow up?'

    I love your work!

    :) Linda

  16. I love how you melded all those different fabrics and elements together so wonderfully to express your artistic vision!

    And I do see a connection between the two pieces. To me it seems like the outer layers have been "peeled back", like layers of an onion, and there is this deeper, more meaningful layer in the center of each. And through each is a slender path (the orange line in June and the pearl path in July) leading through heart of the emotional landscape. Perhaps connecting them as part of one long journey? If that makes any sense :)

  17. Another gorgeous piece Robin, I love how the fringe on the edges of the layers has created a 3D effect

  18. The July piece is very introspective...and your beadwork is much enhanced by the integration of those fabrics!
    Beautiful, Robin!

  19. I feel so honored that you have opened yourself up like this to us. You do have a big heart. Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. Robin, I love these pieces. They are amazing and incredibly beautiful! I love your poem too. When you talk about "the other side", are you talking about death?

  21. Hi

    I came to your blog via your workshop page after googling book binding. Your book is great and all the girls who did the workshop did a fantastic jog. Beautiful - I'll have to give it a go

  22. At first glance at the pair of pages I see fire and ice. All the other things mentioned by previous commenters are there too though!

    Organza... I hadn't considered that for beading yet. The possibilities tickle the mind...


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!