By the middle of November, I was already experiencing the customary dread that happens every year as the Christmas season approaches. What to do about my December BJP, I wondered? I remember trying to concentrate on change... a strong desire to shift my negative attitude about Christmas to one that could bring more joy and contentment to me and, by association, to my husband, family and friends.
Fortunately, several wonderful people stepped into the picture to offer amazingly positive influences.
The first was Christi C. You saw her beautiful BJP pieces here. Her work explores her relationship to the place where she lives using found objects, as in the detail below.
I love her work and love the idea of it! After seeing her pieces, I walked out of my studio with a new eye for the many gifts of nature... beauty everywhere! I began collecting little twigs with bits of lichen on them, madrona berries, a feather... things to remind me of these special gifts... things that make me feel joy, even in the darkest, coldest month of the year, even at Christmas time. Some of these will be on my Dec. BJP, I thought!
The second influence was Rochelle Zawisza. She reads this blog. One day, out of the blue, I received a beautiful, handmade Christmas card from her. It featured a circle cut-out with a beaded wreath hanging from the center of it. This is the wreath.
It's made with 4 mm bi-cone crystals and size 15 seed beads. Here's a fun post she wrote about making the wreaths and cards.
The point is this... the unexpected gift of her card brought me great joy. Here's a perfect example of showing Christmas spirit not as an obligation and not in a commercial way. I decided to use the wreath on my December BJP as a symbol of this type of Christmas giving.
The third influence was internal. I was driving to town one day thinking about Christmas and about how I wanted to include a house on my December's BJP, because another gift in my life is our warm, cozy home and our life together here. Then, suddenly, a thought came to mind about a house being a symbol for the place within us where the spirit resides and is protected.
On the lintel above the entrance-door to his home, the psychiatrist, Jung, had carved this message, “Called or not called, the god will be present” and above the fireplace, these words, “Seek that which is not possible.” (Read more here.)
I guess something about the door and crossing its thresh hold called to me as I drove to town that day. I recall feeling ecstatic thinking about the house I would create and the door which can be opened to reveal the spirit inside... something about my own spirit, previously closed at this time of year, and now more open to my own understanding and appreciation of it. Wow! It was a moment to remember and cherish!
And so, December's BJP began to take shape. Here it is, finished, with the door closed. Note that a tiny bit of light still escapes, under the door at the thresh hold. As it turned out, Rochelle's wreath was too large for the door. But I copied her design (not difficult - see how at the end of this post) using smaller beads.
And here it is with the door open !!!
Here's a detail. I used a strand of yellow embroidery floss paired with a strand of silver embellishing thread to stitch the spirals and lines of light. The windows are the same fabric as what you see when the door is open, only I sandwiched a little piece of lace between the house and the yellow fabric.
I am so grateful to the BJP, Christi C. and Rochelle for inspiring me toward a new and happier experience of Christmas! Doing this page and all that contributed to it has, indeed, lifted my spirits and hopefully begun a lasting change. I thank the universe for all it's gifts of nature... large (including frequent peek-a-boo views of the awesome Mt. Baker) and small, some of which are included in my piece.
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The red "beads" on this piece are actual berries from the Madrona trees in our yard. Below are two of my husband's Madrona berry images. Our bird population feeds on these berries during the late fall and winter months.
You can make beads from nearly any berry, seed or small cone!!! Here's how to do it:
Gather the berries fresh. String a needle with button-hole thread or any heavy-weight nylon thread. Sew through the berries using a double thread.
Cut a little slot on each end of a shoe box (or similar). Knot one end of the thread and slip it into the slot with the knot on the outside of the box. With the beads in the middle, stretch the thread across the box so that it is quite tight and slip it into the slot on that side. Tape it securely to the box. Now the berries need to dry completely. However, you must remember to turn them on the thread once every day or two. When they are completely dry, you can take them off the thread and use them as beads.
Try this with fresh, whole cloves for very nice smelling beads! Pumpkin and squash seeds also make nice beads. Small rose hips are great too.
Another way to do it is to file a point on a piece of wire and pierce them. Use the same drying and turning procedure.
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Here's how to make Rochelle's wreath:
You will need:
- 13 bi-cone crystals, 4 mm, clear crystal
- 7 bi-cone crystals, 4 mm, light Siam red
- a pinch of size 15 seed beads, silver-lined emerald
- Nymo D, fireline, fishline or other fine stringing thread
Row 2: String 5 more seed beads. Skipping a seed bead - crystal - seed bead unit in the first row, string through the middle bead in the next group of three. Repeat this step all of the way around. You are basically making a loop of five beads that goes around each of the crystals.
Row 3: String through the first three beads of the first loop. Add a red crystal. String through the third bead of the next loop. Add another red crystal and string through the third bead of the next loop. The next five crystals will be clear and the last two will be red. When you reach the starting point, string through seed beads and crystals to the outside of the wreath. Use any knotting method to knot off both the starting and ending threads.
Note: this design is Rochelle's original idea inspired by a Sparkly Wheels design by Nikia Angel. To make my smaller version of it, I used 2.5 mm crystals, which are available at Stormcloud Trading in St. Paul, MN (I phone ordered them), and vintage size 18 seed beads. I think it would have worked OK with size 15 seed beads as well.