Friday, November 02, 2007

September Bead Journal Project ~ Gifts of Friendship

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project, September 07, Gifts of Friendship click picture to enlarge

I started September's BJP piece while in Minnesota and Wisconsin during September. I was still using (and liking) the same box of beads that I had originally selected for June, then also used for July and August. On the last evening before leaving, I threw in a few odds and ends of special little things.

The three fabrics in the piece are upholstery-weight silks. A friend and former student bought them to make pillows. When I saw her pillows, I must have been drooling at the rich beautiful colors, because (without any prompting) she offered me some of her scraps. WOW! What a lovely base for bead embroidery! I preserved the selvage edges, as you can see. Also I fringed one edge and braided the warp threads.

In Wisconsin, I worked on this piece during my 2-day improvisational bead embroidery workshop. At one point I always have my students write poems following this model:

  • Look at your beadwork and around your beading work area.

  • Jot down all of the words and/or phrases that come to your mind as you look.

  • Circle the word or phrase that seems the most compelling.

  • On a new sheet of paper, write this line: "I am _________." Put the word or phrase that you circled in the blank space.

  • That is the first line of a poem about you. Use the any or all of the other words/phrases in your poem.

Here is the poem I wrote that day based on September's BJP while it was in progress..


I am surrounded by more gifts
than I knew I had
before this moment –
a silver kitty,
grandpa’s buttons,
fabrics coveted, then given
by students and friends,
fairy ribbon on my name tag,
a sterling blessings medallion,
a book of wisdom,
beautiful beads,
including two green frogs.
My eyes are open
to the delight of these gifts,
the collective enormity of them,
and I am so blessed.
Hearts in all sizes and all textures,
love and friendship,
freely given to me
and woven into my art.
I am humbled and thankful.

From then on, as I worked on this piece I found myself being mindful of what beautiful gifts of friendship and love have come my way through beading. So this piece is a tribute to all of my beady friends and students, wonderful women and a few men with whom I share this passion! All of them have given their friendship, support and understanding to me, and I am greatly blessed by it.


  1. Hi Robin,

    Another wonderful piece! I love the ruffles and I adore cats - so the cat charm caught my eye first, what a great perch. It's beautiful from top to bottom with every stitch and bead. Makes me smile - thank you

  2. Love the ruffle, but then you knew I would. I like that you have continued to use the same beads for several pages. Each page is so different, but together they make a cohesive unit.


  3. I really enjoyed the poem you wrote:)

  4. This page has a charming and playful feeling. So many neat little treasures on it -- guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone's face!

    Kathy V in NM

  5. What a wonderful piece ! A great exercise to try too ! Thanks for the idea ! I must try it !

  6. I do love this page as it has the rich fabrics, lots of colors and the kitty charm. I loved your poem too. Good to see you back and at work.

  7. Silk is so special. The way it catches and holds light makes it a wonderful ground cloth for beading. Have not written any poetry in a gazillion years but your approach to beading is really nudging me to change that ...

  8. Love the piece, love the theme.

    I've been thinking on the same theme for the last couple of months and it's still percolating.

    I'm looking at yours and love the many different media's that you used.

  9. Robin, i just LOVE the layering of the fabrics! I am curious about that process...mainly, how do you attach them to each other? Do you sew small hand stitches through the top fabric, down to the underneath layers, and "cover up" the stitches with beads so where they attach doesn't show?

    Soooooooooo pretty!!!

    Christi, in WA state

  10. To all ~ As always, I'm tickled pink to receive your comments and support. Thanks sooooo much!

    To Christi ~ I use acid-free paper backing, marked with the outside dimensions of my rectangle. Then I arrange and layer the fabric on the paper and pin them in place. I turn it over so the paper side is up and machine stitch on my marked lines. This line of machine stitching holds the layers and paper together and serves as my beading guide (as in, beading inside the lines). *** In my October page, not shown yet, I've used a small rectangle of fabric on top of the main background fabric. For that one, I just basted the top fabric in place, and removed the basting stitches after I had sewn a few beads on it. *** Does this answer your question?

  11. Oh yes, Robin, that is a very clear description of your process -- most helpful indeed. I am going to play around a little with this adding of extra fabric option -- I've got a couple of areas on different pages that feel a little *flat* to me. I think possibly that adding some sort of layering, whether that is some ribbon pieces, or frayed yarn, or some other kind of cloth or fabric (maybe even torn burlap) may just solve the flatness feeling. THANK YOU for helping me to figure out how to attach them :>}


  12. Anonymous2:01 PM


    This piece is very beautiful. I love all the fabrics and the manner you've presented the beads. I'll have to study this one.

    The poem is very nice as well, thanks for sharing the idea with us.

    Beadily yours
    Susan Feldkamp
    Night Beader

  13. "I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty of Robin's work."
    .........W. Shakespeare.

    I can't compete with either of you.

  14. Hi Robin, What a vibrant piece created by an amazingly talented and vibrant artist. I love your poem and how it expresses your feelings about your piece. A deep connection has been created. Thanks for your inspiration!

  15. I'm a fan of this piece ! Somehow it makes me think of India, and vibrant joy - can I have it ? ;o)

  16. oh my, do I ever love the colors in this piece! and I'm looking forward to seeing your october piece as well...

  17. I tried and tried but never found those two green frogs! (I am a frog collector).

    Your colors are beautiful. Reminded me of Mexico!

    You said you grabbed some beads and odds and ends and have made 3 pages from them so far. How did you decide what beads? Did you pick colors that went well together on purpose? Did you grab without thought? It would have taken me days to get a box ready for a trip so I am wondering what your process is. Your pages are so nice and the beads look so well together it boggles my mind that you could just grab some beads and go!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!