Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Long Distance Bead Pals Get to Play!!!

Do you like this combination of beading and thread knotting???

beaded brooch by Elaine Hartley
It's a pin (brooch) made by Elaine Hartley, who lives in Ohio and loves to visit the Pacific Northwest. We met about 15 years ago when she came to buy beads from me... back when I lived in Seattle and had a little shop called Beads Indeed. After that, Elaine and I connected three more times when she took workshops from me at various places. We share a love for the itty-bitty beads, working from intuition and beading with texture.

Planning a trip to the NW, Elaine contacted me and we arranged to spend a couple of days together on San Juan Island, WA where I live. Here we are on day-one at Lime Kiln Lighthouse.

Elaine Hartley and Robin Atkins, Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Day-two, we decided to spend the morning playing in the tide pools at Deadman's Bay on the West side of the island. Later in the day, we would spend a few hours beading together. I'll show you some pictures from both...

Elaine Hartley photographing tide pools
At the beach, while Elaine went straight to the tide pools, I started by arranging small pebbles on a piece of driftwood. Temporary art...

rock and driftwood art by Robin Atkins
rock and driftwood art by Robin Atkins, detail
Driftwood tied with seaweed... more temporary art... this one by an unknown artist...

driftwood and seaweed, temporary art, photo by Robin Atkins
Then I moved down the beach toward the tide pools where I found kelp and seaweed.

kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
snail on kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
Finally I reached the pools themselves, where I found these acorn barnacles! They remind me of miniature cabbages... Let's try making some with beads!

acorn barnacles, photo by Robin Atkins
All the while, Elaine was photographing a porcelain face in the tide pools. Elaine named the face Isis. Soon I too got hooked on her idea and borrowed Isis for a few shots. From then on both of us, captivated by the possibilities of photographing Isis in different places, spent another hour sharing her. Isn't digital photography just the MOST wonderful thing??? OMG! We probably took over 1,000 pictures between us. No waiting and no cost for developing and printing!!! I don't have any of Elaine's photographs to show you... but here are a few of my Isis pictures...

porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
Between beach and beading, Elaine and I stopped for a brief visit with Mona... one of our island's more unusal residents! Elaine was smitten by Mona's soft muzzle...

Elaine and Mona
And Mona seemed to like Elaine pretty well too...

Elaine and Mona
After that, we got out our beads for a while. Elaine brought a few of her things to show me...

Tide Pool, beaded brooch by Elaine Hartley
The pin/brooch, pictured above, is her beaded version of a tide pool. Isn't it grand?! Elaine likes to add textural knotting (half-hitches) done with embroidery floss. She likes the contrast of the beads with the thread. Me too!

bead embroidery on felt by Elaine Hartley
Elaine often beads on a double layer of wool felt held together with dense zig-zag machine stitching, which is firm enough to bead without using any other stabilizer. This is the start of a piece about her home in Ohio. Two streams converge on her 2-acre property... She's going to bead her love for this place! When she finishes this piece, she'll insert it into the cover of a journal, similar to the one below, which is her current journal.

beaded journal cover by Elaine Hartley
Elaine plans to sign up for the 2010 Bead Journal Project, so we'll all be seeing more of her lovely work soon! Yay!!!!

Bead pals are just the best!!! I am so blessed to have made a personal connection with Elaine and with other wonderful beaders around the world. Can't get any better than that!

* * * * * *
Heart update...

Thanks to everyone who wished me well and gave me optimistic reports regarding my heart issues. Tomorrow will be the last day that I must wear the EKG monitor.. thank goodness!

After I return from teaching in Phoenix, I'll have an appointment with my cardiologist and we'll decide what to do. I'll keep you posted. I really appreciate your concern and support!

Camera Information...

Jo, in New Zealand, wrote to ask me about the camera I used to take these pictures. I'm a Sony girl... the mechanics and operation of Sony cameras just makes intuitive sense to me, so I stick with it.

The camera I used for these pictures is old and many updated models by Sony have taken its place. However, I bet the newer ones work just as well. Mine is a Sony Cybershot, model DSC-F717. My brother Thom got one like it, reconditioned but in good working order, on eBay about a year ago. He too is satisfied with it.

However, I must add that for me, it's more about Photoshop than the camera. I spend many hours adjusting my pictures to get the color, exposure and contrast right. Most of the pictures in this post are full frame (not cropped). However, I had to adjust color on most of them. I took a class at our community college a long time ago, when Photoshop first hit the streets. That was enough to make me brave about experimenting with it. I've also learned a lot of helpful Photoshop techniques from books by Scott Kelby. Over the years, we've bought the Photoshop updates to CS2, although I most frequently use the older version, Photoshop CS.

I take all of my bead pictures with this camera. Whenever possible, I shoot pictures of my beadwork outside in natural light under overcast skies or high clouds, which provides lots of light but minimal shadows. No doubt about it, beadwork is difficult to photograph, mainly because of the shiny, reflective surface of the beads. With any direct light, the reflection will blow out all of the detail and you'll have white spots. Sadly, no camera or Photoshop program can fix a total blow out.

Hope this answers your question, Jo!

leaf on beach, photo by Robin Atkins
One last beach picture... Fall is definitely here.


  1. Hi Robin

    Thank you for an update on your health issue. I am keeping good thoughts about your next visit to the doctor. Like most things, there is probably a pill to pop to put you back insinc.

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this post and marveled at your joint earthy creations. Its so reassuring, calming, enjoyable ~ can't find the right word here~ to see two women together that have the same interests just enjoying each other's company. Almost like watching two children at play. Thank you for sharing your visit with us.

  2. I enjoyed reading this story very much! Wonderful pictures too!! Thanks

  3. I just LOVED this post!

    The inspirational content here today is on SO many levels!!
    I agree with Carol -- what a great play date you had!

    The Isis idea and pics are just marvelous! Each one evoking a different emotion which is probably why you have 1,000 pics! And, I love love love Elaine's idea of making a piece that she puts on the cover of her journal...

    Plus, I'm so glad to see the pics of the tidepools and the kelp and the seaweed...they're beautiful!
    But most of all, I'm happy that you are all a-bubble and overflowing with joy from having had such a wonderful visit and connection with a good friend. That's the best part of all. Good luck at the docs. My guess is your perfectly fine, but then I'm the resident optimist... Lots of love, Susan

  4. The beading, the photo play, and the beach itself were wonderful. Thanks for sharing a lovely day.

  5. Love the pics! They certainly look like art work in the making! I must say, the face in the tree was a little scary! But what a great idea to use our 'stash' for looking at the environment in a differnt way or was it looking at our stash in a different way! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I, too, loved the photos, the posts, and the spirit. Thank you!

  7. I'll be going back to this post often - to receive inspiration from the photos and your words and Elaine's lovely work. I love the idea of combining the threads with the beads (hmm do I feel a new-to-me bead technique in the offing). Thanks for the update on your heart -- its a very special one!

  8. Fabulous Post Robin!!! You ahve made me long for the beaches and especailly the tide pools of the pacific Northwest!!! I USed to spend hours exploring and playing with all things found there.....SIGH!!!

    my favorite shot of the Isis face- fabulous idea - was the one with the Madronna bark- stunning!! I do love Elaines beadwork and knotting combo- trying to visualize how she does all of those half hitches to get all fo that glorious texture- can't quite get my head around it. maybe she will share on BJP 2010- I am signing up as well!!!
    have fun at your class- be good to yourself!!

  9. Fabulous post. Loved the pictures, the nature art and the beadwork.

  10. Anonymous5:55 AM

    So many things to enjoy in this post, Robin! From the temporary tide pool art to your impending good health news -- it's all there.
    A couple surfacing thoughts to comment about: acorn barnacles are not something I've seen on the east coast. "Miniature cabbages" describes them perfectly. Indeed, they look like the brussels sprouts I bought just yesterday. The Isis shots are captivating and even a bit haunting. I love them. I'm intrigued by beading on two zig-zagged layers of wool felt. I have a good supply of that and will try it. Will be back to sign up for BJP (for the first time :) tomorrow. I'll be hoping your appointment goes well for you!

  11. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Oooops...meant to include my enjoyment of Elaine's combination of knotting and beading. It's lovely!

  12. Oh, what a wonderful walk on the beach. This is an inspiring post. Thank you for your ability to make an art work of the experience. And, bless your heart.

  13. Thank you for this post. I loved the colours and the objects. Very inspirational. Who would have thought you could 'see' so much on the beach?

  14. Love it all, but especially the photo of you and Elaine. The radiance shining from your faces reflects such a happy and comfortable friendship. And thanks for a mini tour of your island, it was wonderful.


  15. Your post makes me hungry for the coast. However, I head for the Sierra Nevadas today for the BU Bead Retreat. I may have to try some of your ideas up there. I'll bet you are glad to be getting rid of the monitor! My friend sent hers back to the doctor on Monday. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Anonymous8:53 AM

    This post is beautiful! I love the concept of temporary art and I'm a huge fan of Andrew Goldsworthy. I thought of his movie "Rivers and Tides" immediately. If you haven't watched it try to get it. Very meditative.

    My favorite photo of Isis also is the one with the Madronna bark. Beautiful. I've made arrangements of bits of this and that on forest hikes as a way to focus on the environment during rest stops.

    Best of all---I'll see you soon!
    Ann S

  17. Looks like you two had a great time and I do love the photos and on-site art you were doing!
    I also got to meet elaine a couple of years ago when she visited our part of the coast...alas our time was too short to get out and play (and as I remember, it was awfully wet out!), but we did get to do a show and tell! I'm so glad she's going to be doing the BJP next year!

  18. Fantastic post, wonderful friend, playing, and photographing..my idea of a great day. How nice you share the same interests. I especially liked how you played around with the face and took photos..will have to remember that for my next trip. Your friends beadwork is pretty as well. Sending good thoughts your way as well for healthy days ahead..

  19. What a wonderful post. I so enjoyed it. I hope you are feeling better.

  20. Great stuff, very exciting - you got my heart beating hard there !

    I am intrigued by the technique on the Ohio piece, would love to see more on that. Welcome to the new BJP member !

  21. Oh goodness those Isis photos are incredible........what a talent for design you have!! You could so easily turn these into either an art book / coffee table book or a postcard series. I'd certainly buy them - such inspiration for colours, textures, design!!!

    Glad to hear you're doing better :)

  22. This was a wonderful post and your enjoyment of life and each other is very heartening. I have friends that I may not see for a few years and then we get together and it was like I just saw them yesterday. Good friends like that are wonderful and never let go of them.

    I have never spent much time near the ocean or the pacific northwest but think I would love the northwest. You paint such a beautiful picture of it. Mother Nature in all her glory.

    Hope all goes well with the cardiologist - think positive and keep beading.



  23. Beautiful pictures, Robin! :)

  24. What a fun day with your friend. I am loving those pictures of Isis. What a fabulous idea! And yes digital photography is the best!

  25. Super photos! Those face ones deserve framing! Glad you had so much fun with your friend.

    Her pins are lovely. Soooo textural.

  26. Love the photos, Robin! And thanks for the photoshop author reference! What fun playing creatively with Isis in the tidepools! You know, I expect, the work of Andy Goldsworthy, environmental, temporary art. Your art day at the beach reminds me of his work.

    I also love the textural beading! Continued best wishes for your well-being!

  27. Ohhh! I want to play in the tidal pools as well. Great post and nice to see you so happy. I can hardly wait to get to meet your friend and her work in the blog. I love her tidal pool piece.

  28. What a lovely narrative post with such amazing photos!

  29. Wow Robin. great post. LOVE the beadwork of your pal, love the photos, especially with the face. but the best is the smiles on your faces... thank you for sharing your amazing day!

  30. Looks like you had fun. Her work is wonderful. Good luck with the cardiologist. Ain't getting "mature" fun?

  31. The Isis pictures are so cool!
    Heard you had a great class in Phoenix...hope you'll share some pictures...

  32. Great post. So much to be inspired by. I wish you well with your heart and will put you in my prayers.
    I just gave you an award. http://sunnespot.blogspot.com/2009/10/kreativ-blogger-award.html
    Be well.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!