Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bead Journal Project ~ March ~ Zero Circle

Zero Circle, bead journal project for March, Robin Atkins, detail
My piece for March was definitely influenced by an incredible fiber book made by Marty S (who is also a member of the BJP). Her arched pages (see here and here) sang a beautiful song to me... a little like a window, a little like a doorway, a little like a house, the stability and the reaching of the basic triangle shape... You get the idea.

I began by folding the top (dark green) batik fabric in half and cutting out the arch shape. Then I layered it over a lighter fabric and started fingering through my stash in search of whatever wanted to be in the window. Right away, an unglazed, ceramic face said, "Me, me!" There was no hesitation about the other things or the colors of beads. It all fell into place very quickly and effortlessly. Nice when that happens!

Zero Circle, bead journal project for March, Robin Atkins
While stitching, I didn't really give a lot of thought to what it means, except when I was sewing the beaded bezel for the stone at the top of the face. This stone came from the headwaters of the Ganges River in India. My friend, Liz, did a treck there and brought it back for me. When I hold it in my hands, I have a sense of timelessness, the source of life and spiritual contentment... a warm pulse seems to eminate from it. Had to include it.

Zero Circle, bead journal project for March, Robin Atkins, Ganges R. rock
Working on this piece was one of the most peaceful and meditative experiences I've ever had stitching beads on fabric. After finishing it, I was trying to think what to name it and turned to some of my poetry books for inspiration. As soon as I read Zero Circle by Rumi (written in the 13th Century; translated by Coleman Barks), I knew the name of my piece is Zero Circle. Here's a few lines from the poem:
Zero Circle by Rumi

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.

I think this piece is about me reaching and seeking to surrender and become open to a saving grace. It frightens me a little to write this, to say it publically. Yet, on the other hand, it is my truth at this moment.

* * * *
4 April ~ Update

If you are interested in reading the whole of Rumi's poem, you will find it here. I have it in a wonderful book that was gifted to me several years ago: ten poems to change your life, by Roger Housden.

About the winged rabbit... It was a pin, a gift from a friend a long time ago. But I rarely wear pins and the wings caught on my purse strap so I didn't wear it. One day I put it in with my treasure stash and there it was when I needed it for this piece. It wouldn't have worked to pin it to my piece as it would flop forward and stick up too high. So I clipped the pin part off and sewed it to my piece. Originally it had a purple rhine stone glued to the bunny's belly. Didn't like the purple with my piece, so I easily removed that to expose the top of the rivet which held the whole thing together. Didn't like that either, so I drilled a hole through the rivet top and sewed a flat-bottomed, rose-colored crystal through the rivet.


  1. Robin, I really like this piece. Although the colors are in the 'cool' category, it conveys a very warm feeling to me. I don't recognize the stone, but it is very pretty and reminds me of a pearl or opal in some ways. Very beautiful.

  2. Oh, and the poem is very thought provoking! Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Ah, yes, serendipidty at good work here -- such an apt piece of poetry to attend your marvelous piece!

    Kathy V in NM

  4. What a lovely piece. I've recently discovered your blog and I'm really enjoying your journals. I don't have time to make one anytime soon but I'm very interested in general instructions orthese books. Where should I look?

    Thank you!

  5. Very peaceful, right where that meditative state of beading can take us. Its like a little altar to the beading goddess!

  6. It's very nice, restful. The stone is perfect in it.

  7. Very serene and yet it seems to radiate with energy!

  8. Robin! What a beautiful piece! I love the pink and green together and the little winged rabbit is poised to bring the peace and serenity thatyou search for!! Just lovely!!
    You know how I feel about rabbits!!!

  9. There are so many elements I love about this piece that it's hard to know where to start! The face is so tranquil, the stone from the ganges is awesome, the bunny is so beautifully done, the bears are favorites of mine and your fabric choices are just perfect!
    But it's the overall peace that I feel when I see this piece that I love the most...well done!

  10. Robin, Amazing, beautiful, peaceful, as usual a wonderful piece. I think that is the scariest part sometime, surrendering to your path. Letting yourself be led and give up trying to control or force where you are going. Congratulations on your bravery for sharing this. ~Love Angie

  11. oooooh Robin, this is just exquisite! It's so very, very calm & restful, yet strong & powerful at the same time.

    I can't seem to stop looking at your rabbit-bird. It feels like an ancient symbol, like something found in an Egyptian temple... (Is that all one piece? or did you add the wings separately?) The Rumi poem is a perfect mate for this piece.

    My gosh, what tiny beads can do! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!


  12. Oh my - Robin - this is just beautiful. I love the movement of the fabric and the bead designs around the arch window. I love looking at this piece!

  13. A lovely page! Thanks for your kind comments.
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  14. It is an altar to your "zero circle." So evokes a sense of awe and reverence...for life, for joy, for the amazingly limitless potential of the craft of beading to connect us with our very own souls...
    I love the poetry of it all...

    Filled with the light of Grace and Gratitude...Camilla

  15. The presence of both Mother Ganga and Rumi mske this piece especially potent in such a benign way...
    plus your own personal totem's addition in the form of the rabbit.
    Robin, you are brave in being so out front with us....this is magnificent and thank you!!!

  16. As always, you and your work amaze me.

  17. Oh yeah, and caught you on Beading Daily today. Nice!

  18. The colours are so soft and romantic. I also love the fact that you are re-purposing objects, using batiks and including a poem. It's a very sensitive use of the materials. I'm going to dig through my old jewelry to start my very own "treasure box". That's such a great idea! The face on this one is simply stunning. I haven't been in this long enough to have a collection of faces, but I suspect that the search for interesting faces, just might become a new obsession. LOL!

  19. ooooo really like this, Robin - it has a very powerful feeling of calm to it for me. Love the poem too.... very inspiring....

  20. Very beautiful and serene. I love the edgings around the arch. I get a sense of peace from it.

  21. A very beautiful piece and a fabulous link too.
    Thanks Robin!

  22. Anonymous12:49 AM

    I love the colors in this one. The first thing I thought of when I looked at it was an altar - there is such a sense of serenity here. Thanks for sharing the poem. It's one of his I was unfamiliar with & I really like it!

  23. Really nice piece, it is very serene but also I can see joy and lightness of being. I love it. I enjoy seing how your style is subtly changing piece after piece.

    The winged rabbit made me smile. And I love this poem also. Yep, surrendering to the grace, that's a very ambitious and challenging programme, but the way is great.

    In the poem I noticed this passage :
    "If we say we can, we’re lying.
    If we say No, we don’t see it..."

  24. Robin, this piece is just beautiful!!! Pat

  25. It beautiful Robin, It encourages me to go to a quiet place inside myself and to linger. It does not have to be scary inside us does it. I love the bunny. Im glad you were able to use that fabric for your bag. It is a good replacement to the old. Julie

  26. Your pieces always tell a story and I love this one. The rabbit is great!

  27. jon cook3:01 PM

    I love the piece also,
    There is a certain luminosity in the rock from the Ganges. I like the rabbit there also. It is a peaceful and quiet piece. That place requires practice to get there but it's worth it. Rumi is a source of Truth. His work is reveals beauty as it is.

  28. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Just wonderful!
    I can feel the beauty of serenity in it.

  29. Really great work! Beautiful posting, nice poem and very nice colours!

    Happy Easter!!!

  30. What a superb piece in every way!


  31. Hi, Robin! I love this piece! Everything from the design, composition, shades of complementary colors, all fits together so wonderfully! Thanks for sharing!
    Warmest aloha,

  32. Robin - this is gorgeous!!! Thank you for your wonderful comments on my May bjp! I'm getting itchy fingers to do another totally bead encrusted piece... Marva

  33. Anonymous4:55 AM

    I get the same feeling as others -- an altar honoring peace. A logistical question please -- how is the stone attached?


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!