Friday, July 03, 2009

Bead Journal Project ~ May ~ Open the Door

Ahhh, back to improvisational bead embroidery for me!!!! Here is my finished May BJP page...

bead journal project, Robin Atkins, Open the Door, May '09
Here is the poem I wrote from the piece after it was finished.
Open the Door

I am old and rusty.
Yet still I am a key.
Yet still I hold power
to open the door.

I am old and rusty.
Yet still fierce tiger waits.
Yet still I find courage
to open my heart.

I am old and rusty and empty.
Yet still red blood courses.
Yet still I have strength
to open the door.

I am old and rusty and afraid.
Yet still I want to know.
Yet still the river flows
and tiger takes me there.

Are you wondering about the tiger? It's machine sewn. Fabulous, isn't it?! Karen L. Cohen, BJP participant, gifted it to me after I asked her how she stitched the elephant for her April BJP (here). My old sewing machine doesn't do this type of thing, but apparently one can buy programs for newer machines that create images for you. Here is the program Karen used to stitch both her elephant and my tiger.

Karen offered me a choice of animals and colors. Since Tiger is one of my totem animals, I was immediately drawn to it. Saturated colors were calling me, strong and true... red, yellow, blue! Karen picked the background fabric and determined which of my suggested colors to use for the different parts. I'm so pleased with red as the main color!!! Red, the color of blood and love and energy and protection! Thank you, Karen!

The beading fell together easily on this piece. But the meaning of it wasn't clear until the last 15 minutes of working on it. I seemed to be inside looking at Tiger through a window or a door. I felt a strong urge to get through the door, to open it. At the last minute, I realized I needed a key.

Odd thing... I've been suggesting to several BJPers and to my brother, Thom, (who was just here for a week) that they/he add a key to their work. HA! Duh... It was I who needed a key all along!
Right after finishing this piece, I began my June BJP. Below you can see the fabrics I selected. Do you think maybe this could be the river??? Did Tiger take me to the river? We shall see.

bead journal project, Robin Atkins, ready to bead, June '09


  1. Wow, Robin!
    I love this piece and your poem!!! Such creative flow...listening to the process...I am so inspired when others share their process openly with me! The rusty key is terrific!

    Love and Hugs,

  2. This is a true piece of folk art, Robin! Those vibrant primary colors just set one's heart to singing . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  3. Wow, the tiger is really pretty!

  4. The tiger is stunning. Good for you and next month or June looks equally interesting. Now what do I see?

    Ha! don't you wish you knew?

  5. Too cool for words, robin!

  6. but I don't see you as rusty or old!

  7. I can never decide which one I love more of your BJP's because each time you post about one I love it "the most"! This one is all about fabulous colors,shaoes and forms. WOnderful!

  8. Again an amazing piece.

    It makes me think of a spiritual coat of arms. Also the association of blood and key makes me think about Bluebeard. I would like to know more about this tiger who is outside, is you agree to share.

    At one (difficult) time in my life I used tiger visualisations. I remember a house in a forest, tiger outside. I was afraid but when the tiger came in, everything was OK.

    I hope you are Ok, Robin.


  9. love this Robin! The colors are SOOO vibrant and to me, they are what I think of as you. Vibrant and full of life and creativity... Love the poem too...

  10. As always, you dig deeply and create beauty in the process. This is a wonderful piece!
    But I disagree on one are NOT old and rusty. You are forever young....

  11. How can you be old and rusty when your heart is so young and vibrant? Great piece!

  12. This is gorgeous Robin! I can really feel your thought process and creativity! Is there nothing you cannot do? Poetry too! Not that is something I would never have the courage to do. Your Tiger is gorgeous. I missed karens elephant but I will check it out!

  13. Anonymous10:22 AM

    From a new beader and blog follower, I am in awe! After being completely bowled over by a couple of your books, Robin, I am on a personal journey to become a free spirit in my artwork (that may have been bottled up by years of art classes and following quilt patterns). I want to create! Your improvisational approach excites me more than you can know.
    Do you think a die-hard, follow the rules quilt-maker can morph into a free-spirit beading butterfly? :)

  14. I love it!
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  15. Anonymous3:15 PM

    My eyes about popped when I saw this month's journal. There is definitely life in this old tiger yet. Looks like you are truly inspired again.

  16. I love the color of this. Yes, open the door and embrace the tiger. I can feel the new brightness you will gain. Then on to blue.

  17. This is a wonderful piece of art and I love the vibrant colors !

  18. Someone once told me that we preach what we most need to learn...and it seems true more often than not. This piece presents a powerful, strong image...almost as if you are poised to fight for your life though you may sometimes feel old and rusty... But isn't it interesting that it is BECAUSE we become old and rusty that we finally get to unlock so many mysteries of life. Very very powerful, this piece.

    Not to mention that the few triangle beads around the edge are perfectly placed and the checkered and circular bands of beads are a perfect complement to the tiger. It's an extremely harmonious piece...harmony, wisdom, and Susan

    P.S. I can't email right now so we'll just have to "chat" when I get home...

  19. Oh my! This is a very powerful image and one that I'm quite entranced with. Did you know that I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger? I'm guessing that means it's one of my symbols. Great use of colours and I did enjoy the poem although it does make me wonder about what is going on in your life that prompted the thoughts. BTW, you could make this type of image with any old sewing machine that allows you to drop or cover the feed dogs. You would simply design the image and then stitch on a stabilizer. If you use a layer of netting, in between a water soluble stabilizer, you are able to get nice crisp edges. Of course you can't walk away from the machine (like the automatic machines), but that's what makes it so much fun.

  20. I forgot to say that I love the nice soft blues that you've chosen for June. Blue is my all time favourite colour. I'm also thinking of using it, but for my July piece.

  21. To All ~ THANK YOU for your comments about my May Tiger/Open Door piece! I feel that some inner part of me has been witnessed and honored by your remarks! I am OK... The old and rusty is perhaps a metaphor for allowing myself to drift away from the river (source, soul, inner truth) for a while. I think recognizing the issue and moving toward the river again is the core of both this piece and the poem.

    To Helene ~ Extremely thought-provoking! I like the idea of it as a coat of arms! I'm giving some thought to sharing more about tiger and me in a later post.

    To Mary T. ~ Do you see a bird's nest??? OK, please tell...

    To Barbara ~ Welcome!!! You are already on your way... the box is open!

    To Susan ~ Oh dear, you make me blush! The border took three tries to get "right"... thanks so much for noticing!

    Love to all! Robin A.

  22. I love this piece and I love this poem.

  23. I love the bright colors in this & the background fabric is gorgeous! Wonderful poem also!

  24. This is such a vibrant and powerful piece, Robin! The heartfelt honestly that's so evident in all of your bead work is truly inspirational. Your bead work provides a fabulous frame for the tiger totem. My eye was immediately drawn to the top border and to that lovely line of blue beads that wraps around the red half circle and ends (or begins?) in a spiral. For some reason I find that little line of beads endlessly intriguing.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!