Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bead Embroidery – Subject of Jan. BJP Revealed!

Thanks to everyone who gave comments about my January BJP, an abstract portrait of a person. Many of you were right on target with your impressions! I feel good about my work, because it seems I was able to communicate fairly well about the characteristics and personality of this person.

For this piece, I chose four different batik fabrics, each to represent a specific aspect of this person’s character.

fabrics for bead journal project, January, 2008 by Robin Atkins
The pale pink represents her soft side. Most of the time she is a gentle, loving person… not exactly sweet, but kindly and generous with her time, knowledge and affections.

The flowered pink/red represents her playful, almost childlike, nature. She’s eager to discover, to learn, to have adventures and to be surprised. She also loves flowers, especially wildflowers… not to grow them so much, but to pick them and have them around her.

She’s also pretty grounded, especially in her mature years. She has an inner calm and sense of security. She also has faith in the fundamental good of the universe, herself and her husband, her family and her friends. Her creative and artistic expression derive from this source. The red/brown fabric on the right seems to convey these aspects of her personality.

She can be a bit prickly at times and sometimes given to bursts of temper (which generally subside quickly). During the winter months, she gets grumpy when dark days seem never to end. Perhaps she is afraid the sunshine will never return. Under her display of anger, there is always fear. I think the third fabric from the left has that feel to it. (Although you can’t see it, I used it for the pointed thorns at the top of the piece.)

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, January 2008, thorn detail
The birds (two of them) have two meanings. On an everyday level, she is enchanted by all birds, loves to watch and hear them. On a spiritual level, birds represent freedom and innocence, also strength and resilience beneath apparent fragility. Both birds look inward on this piece because they are singing their song of love and acceptance to her.

The ruffles are the loving and accepting energy that flows from and within her big heart. Yellow bubbles (sequins) are laughter and fun, again offered from her heart to the world around her.

The blue spirals are the source of creativity and the branch fringes represent roots. She is framed in blue, which represents sky, calm and spirituality.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, self portrait, bead journal project, January 2008
Who is she? This is a self-portrait. During January of 2008, this is how I saw myself.

What an interesting challenge it was to do this piece. I had to remove my intellect, lock out my thinking (and critical) mind, which wasn't easy. Yet it was really fun to work on it! I'm wondering if any of you are curious to try it?

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HELP!!! I need a good wholesale source for a bulk order of gold-color and silver-color stick pins (hat pins) and clutches. I've been searching online for an hour and can't find anything at all.


  1. Wow, Robin. You obviously conveyed this well. I have just reread all the comments and as you say, many of us picked up parts of what you wanted to portray. A job well done. Something that I didn't mention in my comment was that I felt this is someone you like and admire and I am so very pleased that it turned out to be a self portrait. To like and admire oneself is, I think, a most precious thing.


  2. Thanks Carol-Anne... you are so right about liking and admiring oneself. It hasn't always been that way for me... and still isn't at all times. But ever since letting go of the notion that I have to be perfect (thanks to Mary Oliver's poem, Wild Geese), I pretty must feel OK about myself.

  3. Anonymous2:30 PM

    LOL, you are a crafty devil in disguise! Takes guts to analyse yourself like that.

    Funny enough I came across a challenge to depict my inner creative self and my innner critical self. You can see for yourself at my blog. I am going to try and continue it during the year and see if it really reveals that much about myself, as I am sure as the months go along in the year, my moods change and effect me in a fairly regular pattern.

    Just like Jan, for some reason, I spend a lot in Jan and cannot move myself from the PC.

  4. Jacqui ~ I didn't intend to "trick" anybody with this. Yes, I think the "picture" would change a lot if I were to do it again after a few months. I hope you're going to try the challenge. I'll look forward to seeing your results! Feb is the month where I don't seem able to move myself from the PC (drat!) Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful self-portrait page. I love the fabrics and your beading and how it all flows together. I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of you and how you chose to bead and depict those aspects in your piece. What an interesting challenge. I think I might like to give that a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. In many indirect ways, all of our pages are bits and pieces of ourselves - as journal pages they should be! To make yourself the intentional focus, though, can be daunting, but the revelations you encounter make the effort very much worthwhile. Gorgeous page.

  7. That was fun Robin!
    Maybe that could be a whole new project for next year...a year of beaded portraits?!?!

  8. I thought it might be your mother...didn't think it was you because there weren't any rabbits in it, lol!
    But then, I'm often ridiculously literal...making aspects of my life abstract has been the hardest part of designing these pages for me.

  9. Fascinating concept. I really thought it was your mother! Not sure I could do something like that about myself -- I'm just too much of a Gemini in thinking about and doing so many things at once. Thanks for sharing such an intimate peek into your beautiful soul . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  10. To BeadBabe and Kathy V ~ Yes, I see my mother in this piece too. I was with her (in Minnesota) when I made it. We have a lot in common.

    To those who thought it might be my brother ~ Yes, Thom and I are alike in many ways. I can see him in this piece too.

    Robert, my husband, and I are compatible but not much alike. If you saw him in this piece, it is because we are part of each other now.

    Since it's I am not alone in this world and am touched deeply by those close to me, the piece must reflect them to some extent as well.

    To Kathy ~ I just can't imagine being able to do a self-portrait every month... one a year... maybe!

    To Morwyn ~ Yes, each piece by each person in the BJP reveals something about their character, and is thus something of a self-portrait.

    To Karen ~ I hope you'll give it a try! To me, it was worth the "sweat" and seems like it will be fun to have as the years go by.

  11. Anonymous6:14 AM

    Thank you for solving the riddle, easing the suspense. With the knowledge that this is a self-portrait, everything falls into place. Amazing what can be related by bead embroidery!

    I had been so concentrated on the embroidery, I did not even notice that several materials were involved. And I DID have a hard time finding the second bird, even after I read that there should be two I needed some time to detect the second one. A very superficial way of looking at your beautiful work ...

    Beadbabe's comment concerning the rabbits made me laugh. Maybe you have run out of rabbits?

    In admiration,

  12. Hi Robin, I am sorry if you thought I meant you had 'tricked' us, I just thought it was very clever--wait a minute---I am getting tied up with words again. What I meant was, putting up your real portrait rather than a,no,no...well, hopefully you know what I mean...talking with your art is a great means of communication.

    I just love your work

  13. love this, Robin..... I wondered if it was you.
    I was tossing in my brain doing a self portrait myself... and don't know if I have the courage like you. but I do like the "idea" of a monthly year-long project of it!
    your work is inspirational and thought provoking... as always.

  14. I read your colour choices and thought "Wow, she's talking about ME" but that quickly subsided when I realized that although I took a class a million years ago, you couldn't possibly remember me. The description of personality versus colours in the fabric are so wonderful that I bet many of us could see ourselves in the description.

    And I am still looking for the little rabbit.....

    Take care - Liz

  15. Well, I never would have guessed, but now, of course, it seems obvious! That's an interesting challenge, trying a self-portrait, and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to see what will appear -- but I kind of want to. I agree that it would be a great beading project, but maybe only one piece for each artist, and not one every month.

  16. Anonymous5:54 AM

    A self portrait??? I never would have guess this either!

  17. Beautiful piece Robin!

  18. I did think of that a bit, but not as much as I thought it was your mom. Still, I can see that. I think the idea of using this as a theme for a whole year is fascinating, though. I'm so literal, that even my non figurative stuff has to be something I recognize or it is just jibberish to me. Maybe I need to change that, I don't know. Fascinating, I must say!

  19. It never occurred to me that it could be YOU! Makes sense though, and what a beautiful rendition. This gives me something to think about for the series of self portraits I seem to be doing...

  20. I loved reading your commentary as much as studying the design! Strong emotional impact but I could not see or feel the thorns instead of a crown or jester's cap! Funny how we can make something as personal as a self portrait and, within the making, others can see so many different things.

  21. Well, I was quite a bit off the mark. I saw the bird representing youth which if I may be allowed to stretch the one tiny point would be the innocence you mentioned.
    Good thing I can laugh at myself as being keen on insight surely isn't my forte! Probably why I have difficulty with poetry too.

  22. Robin,
    I know it's not wholesale, but with the bulk pricing maybe it's close... Fire Mountain gems has stick pins and clutches. You might check them out...


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!