Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bead embroidery ~ March bead journal project finished

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project, March
This one was difficult.

I started working on it in March, became cloaked by the darkness of it, and then abandoned it to work on the sweet, gentle new beginnings of April (here). Finally, March called me back... I finished it today.

My initial intent was to make a portrait of my husband. As my beading evolved, it morphed into a look at the part of him that is best described by the title of my piece: His Parents Were Alcoholics.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, detail, Bead Journal Project, March
Today, as I photographed the finished work, a poem began to form in my head. Here it is.

His Parents Were Alcoholics

Always I’m aware of Wall,
built higher during hard times,
separating his dark, prickly fears
and deep, festering wounds
from his lighter, easy-going side.

Holes in Wall,
where pressure builds
and he can’t get them plugged,
let the grace of light in
and the sharp sting of dark out.

Only Beaver, his totem animal,
goes freely back and forth
from one side to the other.
Beaver is keeper of Wall
and fulcrum of delicate balance.

When first I fell in love with him,
a friend said “He’s damaged goods.
Run, run in the opposite direction
and don’t look back.”
She saw the dark.

I see the joyful light
and love every swirl of it.
I see the darkness too
and am trying to understand it,
to caress it tenderly.

He and Beaver are still at work,
mending childhood wounds
inflicted by parents,
altered by alcohol and
oblivious to a boy’s needs.

Robin A.


  1. Dear Robin, I have known about your beautiful pieces because of your now famous Rosie, The Uncaged Hen but just started reading your blog. Your poetry in this entry tells me about courage and love. You are a wonderful person!

  2. Robin: Another breath taking achievement !

  3. That is a pretty awesome image, Robin. It's reflective of many of the "walking wounded" in this world. Your poem accurately decribes the constant rush to plug those holes.


  4. Oh wow, this one feels like a thump in the stomach, for personal reasons. Great work, Robin, essential.

  5. A beautiful representation of the war that rages in many of us. I'd like to think that the good wins out and the tendrils go from light to dark, breaking it up...i like the red slashes like big hurts.

  6. wow, beautiful and powerful page, Robin! I really like it.... you are a master of the beaded journal!

  7. This is very moving. I would not have fully appreciated the page without the poem. My partner has helped me let the grace of light in
    where once only the sharp sting of dark flowed out. I'm very happy your husband has someone who sees his light.

    I'm so moved I am tingling.

  8. I am amazed at your courage, Robin....and also at how your abstract work tells such a detailed and specific story.

    I feel that the poem is the illustration to the beadwork...it enhances the meaning of the story, but is not at all necessary for its conveyance.

    You and your Robert are blessed...

  9. Amazing, simply amazing.

    To miss quote Carl Jung, "Without the dark, we would have nothing to judge how bright the light"

    PS, I am so excited also to bead/meet you!

  10. To all ~ I am touched by your comments, understanding and appreciation. Two years ago, when I started blogging, I never imagined that this community would become so encouraging and such an amazingly safe place to put forth personal work and thoughts like this. Thank you so very much.

  11. Oh my, dear Robin, this piece - and your words - are so powerful they made me cry....

    I am constantly astounded by your bravery to reveal. I say this with a full heart, because I am not so brave. But the beads, yes, the beads! are bringing this out of me more and more. Such a surprise, I would have never known one year ago how much...

    Bless you, for your openness. And bless you for inspiring so many of us here to work on these little beaded treasures that help us to reveal more in our own ways.

    A big hug from your islands' pal, Christi
    WA state

  12. Robin,

    One look at this piece and I can see how hard it was for you to do. I so relate to it. It feels like me, too! Thanks for the beautiful poem.

  13. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Great piece and poem, Robin. It gave me chicken-skin! After a certain age, almost eveyone we meet has some baggage - and we do, too! Blessings to both you and Robert in your journey together through this life.

  14. That is very interesting embroidery! :D

  15. Ohhh Robin when I saw your picture I thought of conflicting emotions and when I read your poem WOW talk about coincidence. Your work is awesome to be able to portray it in words is even better. Congratulations and keep it up!

  16. We are all damaged in some way. Oh how terrible life would be if we were all passed over because of it. As they say, the rose has thorns. But that is not to say it isn't very difficult at times to stay with someone when their damaged side comes out! I remember my husband saying once that marriage to him is the promise to stay together through the rough patch till we love each other again. With almost 36 years together I find that his statement is so very true especially when my damaged side comes smack up against his! This is truly a wonderful page you made. It honors the woundedness of people and I am sure it resonates with everyone. In an age of plastic surgery to the max et al, you show we can dare to be real.

  17. I am deeply touched by your profound page and words. Much love and peace to you and your husband . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  18. What an insightful and moving piece, Robin. Your work truly conveys the "disconnect", conflict and ambivalence involved in such a life. It is a beautiful and touching work of art.

  19. Anonymous10:44 AM

    This is so very touching! Brave persons, both of you, for not allowing the past to destroy presence and future. And what a great way to express yourself.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    This is not the theme of the blog post, but I simply have to voice my admiration for Robin's latest book, Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery:

    Robin has outdone herself, don't you agree? Not only do we hold in our hands a work of beauty, but we are generously invited to participate in ideas, life history, flow of thought ...

    On top of all that we get a variety of techniques and a lot of down-to-earth advice on how to realize what is before our mind's eye. The book is clearly concipated for use, not for coffeetable display (although it would be an asset to any coffeetable). Who could go over the pages and not end up with itching fingers?

    Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery is a true child of Ronbin's: Brain child - soul child - heart-to-hands child - lovable and unique.

    Congratulations, Robin, and many, many thanks.

  20. This is super powerful just standing on its own with no word-explanation beyond the title. When it's combined with the poem - WOW! I always love the way you incorporate animal totems but this one stands in a class by itself. The color choices and distribution is inspired and so evocative of what you see & feel ...

  21. Anonymous8:32 AM

    This is so beautiful.
    There is so much heart in your creations and your words !
    Thank you for sharing those with us, especially when they relate to something so intimate and powerful.

  22. Anonymous11:24 PM

    Hey Robin,

    I've tagged you for a meme. If you're interested and want to play along, please do! If you're not into memes, don't fret about it...

    love, Janel

    P.S. I've been meaning to answer the email about the books, but my inbox was flooded - of course the answer is yes!

  23. Anonymous3:08 AM

    Wow robin the pieces on here are great ! you are well and truly a pro. :)

  24. Anonymous7:18 AM

    Just been reading through your blog entries - fantastic stuff! You are such a creative talented person and it has been a pleasure reading what you have to say.

  25. Having had parents of the same ilk.....I understand this poem all too well. You certainly put it well.
    I'm so glad you were able to see the light side!!! Pat


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!