My beading/quilting friends Christy and Lunnette introduced me to Colonial knots, assuring me that they're more secure than French knots. Christy says they're also easier than French knots. Maybe... after you've made quite a few. I agree however that for a consistent look and secure feel, Colonial knots take the cake. So all the knots on my Feb BJP are of the Colonial variety.
The difference? Here is how you make a French knot. The thread is wound around the needle. The more winds, the bigger the knot. Here is how you make a Colonial knot. The thread is passed in a figure-8 around the needle. The size is not variable.
Knots vs. seed beads... I guess one could argue that I could have achieved the same affect sewing a single bead in the same location as each knot. That would work too, although the look might be a bit less soft. I enjoyed the meditative time spent making all the background knots on my BJP piece.
As many of you know, I'm not teaching much right now. The reason I always give is that my mother, who is 92 and lives in Minnesota (a day's flight from me), is not in the best of health. I don't want to promise someone I'll teach at their conference and risk the possibility of having to cancel at the last moment because Mom's health takes a turn for the worse.
Also there's a certain quality-of-life right now that I call being on hold. It's based on the certainty that before long I will not be a daughter any more and will not have any parents... I feel a little in limbo, uncertain and adrift, as though I've stopped living while waiting for the change, even though it isn't really imminent and surely I'll adjust once it happens.So this year, the second in a row for scaling back on teaching, I have only one definite gig. And that is just around the corner.
I will be teaching at the Bead Bazaar sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Bead Society in Denver, Colorado. Advance registration is open now. I'll be teaching:
- Woven Treasure Bracelet or Tassel on April 25
- Techniques of Bead Embroidery on April 26
- Visual Journaling with Beads, Fibers, Threads and Fabric
- View over 200 beaded journal pieces by 42 artists participating in the 2007-08 Bead Journal Project!
- Compelling and inspirational, this unique beadwork tells stories, reveals emotions and follows important events in the lives of the artists who create a visual journal each month during the year-long project.
- In this presentation, you will see some of the best!
Colorado beaders are wonderful! I've taught there previously and been very impressed with the level of skill and artistry. Several BJP members live in Colorado, including:
Clues ~ Mystery Beadwork
Here is a post showing beautiful fragments of historical bead embroidery, weaving and smocking that I bought 15 or so years ago. The origins of this 100+ year old beading were unknown by the seller, except that he bought it from a peddler in Mexico City. In the post I asked for help in identifying the origins.
Help arrived! I'll post the complete findings in a later post. But, in summary, the work appears to be from Mexico, probably from the Nahua natives of the central Puebla area. My information comes from two main source books: La Chaquira en Mexico and Costumes of Mexico both of which are well illustrated, fascinating books. (By the way, la chaquira = beads!)
Just as a teaser, here is one of the pieces in my collection.
Here is a diagram from La Chaquira en Mexico showing the techinque for bead embellished pleating, as done by the Nahua natives.
And here is a picture from the same source showing a blouse made with this technique. Incidentally, I think this blouse is more recently made and with a slightly different technique than the fragments I have. Yet there certainly are similarities.
Are you familiar with Robert Glenn, the painter who writes a free newsletter about the artistic process, painting and issues affecting artists? I love reading his thought-provoking articles that come to my email once a week and thought I'd share a few words from his latest ~ about choices we make as artists. He writes:
Today I spoke on the phone to several colleagues. We were talking about planning versus improvisation. While many fine artists plan everything in detail and then simply execute, others admit they don't know what they're doing from the get-go, but they start anyway and spend a lot of time fixing up. Both systems work... The nice thing about choices is that they can be changed... The wayside choices we make, however minor or major, determine our signature, our style and our level of personal satisfaction.So, the ol' improv vs. plan question comes up in all aspects of art, I guess. What do you think of his point about our choices determining our style and level of personal satisfaction?