Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun in Phoenix!

Saguaro cactus, Phoenix, AZ
October 1-8 in Phoenix... What could be more different than where I live? To leave our peaceful little island, now slipping into the wet season, and fly to Phoenix, where I had to dig out the sunscreen and watch for rattle snakes, was certainly a big change for me!

Friday Harbor, WA <> Phoenix, AZ
coastal island <> inland desert
highs in the 50s <> highs in the 90s
kinda soggy <> parched, dry
mostly cloudy <> clear blue skies
hilly <> flat
surrounded by ocean <> ringed by mountains
peaceful rural roads <> energetic city traffic
abundant evergreens <> sparse Saguaro cactus
talented beaders <> talented beaders
fun people <> fun people
alas, not even one bead shop <> Bead Museum AND shops

The last three are the good news for me! Although I missed Robert and our cat, I got to see friends Claudia, Patricia and Roger. And the big plus was my wonderful students, who really seemed to enjoy making beaded buttons and learning/practicing sewing beads on fabric improvisationally!

beaded sneaker by Teri Greeves, Native American bead artist
Beaded sneaker by Native American artist, Teri Greeves.

Bad news... I left my camera on the bed in my hotel the day I taught at the Bead Museum in Glendale (fun area in Phoenix!!!) so I don't have any pictures to show you from there. So please, just write this in BOLD on your mind's hard drive:
If you are ever in Phoenix, do not pass go or collect $200... instead, go directly to the Bead Museum and plan to spend some time being totally awed by the collection, display, library and shop!!!
OMG! I knew it was going to be good... but wasn't prepared for how extensive it is! Their website does not do it justice at all. And take some extra cash, because the museum shop is awesome as well!

bougainvillea blossoms
Good news... I did remember to take my camera to the Farm at South Mountain, where I taught a 2-day Improvisational Bead Embroidery workshop. Now, the Farm itself is a worthy Phoenix destination! Picture a large grove of shady pecan trees, gardens, flowers (like the bougainvillea above and the passion flowers below), three world-class restaurants (lunch being my favorite, because it's served in a picnic basket which you then carry outside to a picnic table under a pecan tree to have your meal), and an artist's studio.

passion flowers
The Farm features a different art program every 6 weeks or so. I was there as part of bead artist, Corinne McAuley's residency. During her time as Artist in Residence, she displayed her own work in the Artist's Cottage at the Farm, taught workshops, brought in a couple of distinguished speakers about beading and organized my teaching gig. My hat is off to Corinne, a most talented and well-organized new bead friend!

Corinne McAuley, beaded tapestry, peyote stitch, Peonies
Corinne McAuley, beaded tapestry, peyote stitch, Fall Fire
Above are two examples of her work (before taking my workshop - who knows how learning improv bead embroidery might influence it in the future). They are worked in flat peyote stitch with countless thousands of beads in each piece. You can see more of her tapestries on her website, here. And, hooray, Corinne has already joined us for the 2010 Bead Journal Project!!!

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
This is Joan, Corinne and Lisa (left to right). I hear Joan's got the bead embroidery bug. And Lisa, OMG, she's finished her class piece AND a second piece in less that two weeks. See below! Aren't these fabulous?! How do you like her use of mirrors in both pieces? I'm so proud of her!

bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, My Racing Thoughts
Lisa's first piece, started in class, titled "My Racing Thoughts."

bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, Tranquility
Lisa's second piece, finished two weeks later, titled "Tranquility."

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
This picture shows the room where we had class. At the first table are Sheila, Ann and Joan! Ann had already done three pieces of improv bead embroidery using my books to learn the stitches and process. You can see her first and second piece below. I'm sure all three of these gals have been stitching with abandon since completing the class!

bead embroidery by Ann Severine
students, bead embroidery class by Robin Atkins
This picture shows my two tablemates, Marty (a crazy quilter, who seems to be gravitating nicely towards more beads and might join the 2010 BJP) and Glenda (who took both of my workshops and is one of those students who makes the teacher feel good because she catches on quickly and does beautiful work right off the bat).

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
Michelle and Suzanne (front), Diane, Victoria (a current BJP member) and Linda sat at the third table. Victoria brought her BJP butterfly pieces (see them here, scroll down) to share with us and a doll she created and beaded (below)! Diane brought several samples of Native American beadwork for show'n'tell (including the beaded sneaker, shown above, the belt buckle shown below and a beaded bag, detail shown at the bottom of this post)!

beaded doll
Victoria's doll. I love that it's not totally symmetrical and in the African Ndebele style!

Native American barrette
Barrette by Native American artist, Edgar Jackson, brought for show'n'tell.

The workshop ended all too soon. We were having a great time together and much beading progress was being made!

After parting company with my students, I joined my long-time (non-beading) friend, Patricia, and her husband Roger for a couple of days of relaxation in the sun. They have a home in Fountain Hills, a lovely part of Phoenix (NE of down town), and so named because of its hallmark fountain, the tallest in the USA!

Fountain Hills, AZ, fountain and rainbow
Fountain Hills, AZ, fountain and painted wall
This fountain goes off for 15 minutes every hour during daylight and early evening. There's a lovely walk all around the lake. AND, the piece d' resistance of the lake-side promenade is La Scala Creamery, where you can get the most tasty gelato in the world and/or have an ice-cold, refreshing drink of sparkling La Scala tea! This is NOT TO BE MISSED!

One day we took a drive out Hwy 87 to Payson, and then NE on Hwy 260 to SR 300, which is a gravel road that runs along the edge of the Mogollon Rim, a plateau that rises to 7,000 feet (towering 3,000 feet above the valley below)! Below are two pictures I took from the Rim... They hardly do justice to the beauty there.

Mogollon Rim, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Mogollon Rim, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Among other fun things that day, we stopped in Pine (on Hwy 87) for lunch at HB's Place. We gave them 5 stars! Especially delicious was their Oatmeal Pie. I think it may have been similar to this recipe:
Amish Oatmeal Pie

1 1/2 c. milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
2/3 c. rolled oats
1 1/3 c. dark brown sugar
2/3 c. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 425. Combine milk, eggs, butter, oats, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour into flour/nut pie shell and sprinkle with additional coconut. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

beaded bag, detail, contemporary Native American
And that about does it for Phoenix... a fun desert place, indeed... great beaders, love the Saguaro cactus, love Mogollon Rim and the fountain in Fountain Hills! I hope you've enjoyed this vicarious visit to the Southwest!


  1. WOW spectacular pics and incredible beading! Looks like you had a GREAT time. Thanks for sharing, Robin!

  2. Wonderful post Robin!! I am soo glad that you had such a winderful time! THank you for sharing it all with us- I have never been to Phoenix and now I feel like I have! I have been without much of my computer access for the last two weeeks and I have found so much time!! I have been beading!! I can't wait to share with you!! I also plan to join the 2010 BJP!!
    I a sure that you are glad to be home again!!

  3. Wow, Lisa has just taken off with this, hasn't she? Her pieces are gorgeous! I had such a good time in your class, Robin. I plan on taking what I learned and applying it to my Midsummer quilt... I'm excited to get started on the beading! I'm still considering joining the 2010 BJP. It would be a great way to upgrade my skills.

  4. I made a move from the Midwest to Yuma, AZ several years ago for a teaching job (I'm back in the Midwest now). I was completely awe-struck by the beauty of the desert - sweeping landscapes and the subdued color palette - as well as with the Saguaro cactus! Fantastic! Thanks for taking us on your adventure :)

  5. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Robin. It looks like you had a great time. Can't wait to start the new BJP.

  6. oh my...looks like a wonderful trip although I bet the temps were a bit high for you? Or is it true that the dry heat isn't as HOT as our high humidity/heat?
    Love your students' work...they must have had a great time!
    I think I'm glad we have until january for the next bjp since I'm still undecided as to what I'll be doing for about you?

  7. To Elizabeth ~ Yes, I think if my computer went down I'd get a whole lot of beading done. Welcome back. Hope you'll join the BJP!

    To Marty ~ I totally enjoyed meeting you and sharing the table with you and Glenda!!! I hope you'l sign up for the BJP... it would be great to have you in it!

    To Cindy ~ Yes, sweeping landscapes and warm colors are good words to describe the Phoenix area. It was fun to be somewhere so completely different. I grew up in the midwest (MN) and miss it, especially in the fall.

    To Arline ~ I'm working on a solidly beaded piece and happy getting back to my old style... thinking about it for BJP 2010.

    To Bobbie ~ I've not made decisions yet, except that I'm tired of the postcard shape and think I'll try something else for 2010!

  8. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to our corner of the world. Your photo of that view from 7,000 feet made me grin because we have 9,900 foot mountains here in Las Cruces and spectacular views in every direction, too.

    Your classes all look so happy!

    Kathy V in NM

  9. Oh Robin, what a delight to revisit the Phoenix area through your eyes! The desert landscape (ANY desert) has always been something that just rings my bells...dunno why exactly...maybe because of all the survival mechanisms in place for the critters & plants that live out there, I just find it so fascinating.

    I get *pangs* when I see all your happy class pictures - wish I could have joined in! There's nothing like the energy of talented beaders buzzing around a room to inspire one!! There was such beautiful work that came out of your participants.

    Thank you for the wonderful and informative post! and I'm so happy that you had such a successful and enjoyable time away. oh, and those passifloras are to die for!!


  10. WoW! Utterly amazing photo of both the beaded beauty and the glorious landscapes!

  11. Great pictures! Sounds like you had a great time. It's good to be in a whole different environment sometimes. Lovely beadwork you share here too.

  12. I have a question if you or anyone here can answer it. How do you stitch on a shoe like the picture in your post? It seems impossible to me yet people do it and they do such even work too.

  13. Wish I could of been there at this class. Everything is sooooo lovely. Loved Lisa's work,Corinne's is spectacular, and Teri Greeves running shoe ...well I would love to wear them!!!! Question I have for you. How would you do the passion flower in beads??? I think that would make a great beading piece. Lise

  14. What an amazing work / vacation you had! Enthusiastic and talented students, amazing bead art to take in, friends and scenery - and you've shared it so well, I feel invigorated, too! I've never seen bougainvillea - they set the wheels turning for me!!

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Robin.

  15. To KV ~ I'm going to have to visit Las Cruses someday... I could tell that from reading your book!

    To Christi ~ The desert in the vicinity of Phoenix didn't ring my bells at all. BUT, once we got away from the city, I was blown away by it!

    To Marie ~ Thanks! High praise coming from you!

    To Timaree ~ Beading the Shoe.. It's mostly lazy stitch and done from the outside, stitching in and back out through the canvas to make a single stitch. Teri is a master at it. However, you might be surprised... Buy a pair of canvas tennies or sneakers and give it a try!

    To Lise ~ Beaded Passion Flower.. I've been thinking about that too. Actually, I'm more drawn to trying the Bougainvillea, which I would do by creating a deep ruffle around a stack with a white flower bead at the top. To get the delicate look of the Passion Flower would be tricky indeed! Perhaps I'll give them both a try. You too!

    To Vicki ~ I had never seen Bougainvillea either, although I've run across it in literature and poems quite frequently. Now I can see why... I't so lovely and cheerful!

  16. Anonymous4:19 PM

    Oh my, Robin, what a chock-full post! I must return and check out *all* the links. Thanks for being so thorough and providing them for us to enjoy.
    I especially like Ann's improv pieces, and Lisa's use of mirrors is wonderful! I'm thinking there may be a beaded piece in your future symbolic of the cactus photo. It reminds me of your "spaces between" post about Madrona trees.

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I'll be in Scottsdale in a few weeks and told my sister to read your post so maybe we can follow in your shoes. Great to get new members for the BJP '10 also.


  18. To Barbara ~ Yep, that prickly, wavy, juicy cactus against the vibrant blue sky DOES inspire me to bead... it just could happen... There are many "studies" possible just from these pictures... and there are a goodly number more that I didn't post!

    To Susan ~ Oh, you just must get to that gelato place in Fountain Hills... it's pure heaven! I bet the weather will be a tad cooler than when I was there, but you'll still have that lovely blue sky! Have fun!

  19. I am just sick!! It's Oct.18 and I live in Payson, AZ. I SO WISH I had know about your class in Pheonix. It is really different up here for us big tree people. I grew up in TN. The beauty here is more subtle and sneaks up on you. I have a view of the Rim out two windows, pretty unusal for a modest home. It is beautiful and I will keep up reading my blogs at a more timely rate in the future. I'm sure this has been mentioned. I love your work and am a wannbe beader, been reading and quilting too much to get very far. My house is small so no storage room. Plus I'm a little lazy in my retirement. Marty

  20. To Marty ~ If I were to more to AZ, I'd be checking the area around Payson! Just my size of town and what a location! I can imagine how fabulous it would be to look out my window every day and see the Rim!!! I'm sorry you missed my class... my two books, One Bead at a Time and Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery might do the trick for you. I know of many beaders who do beautiful work with no other instruction.

  21. What a wonderful experience! I've always loved the desert, but here I am in the soggy PNW! Thanks for sharing your photos and your enthusiasm. I can almost imagine myself having been there with you :- )

  22. What an absolutely amazing trip you had on many many levels! Inspiration everywhere you went!!! I noted all of your "must sees" in a file in case I ever go to Phoenix. You met my CQ friend Marty, I see. And the images of all the beadwork is very inspiring. I love love love to see what people do with beads. And I loved "My Racing Thoughts" -- I could really relate to that after reading this meaty and motivational travelogue. So so glad you had a great time. xo Susan

  23. Anonymous6:43 PM

    Hi Robin,

    I'm glad we met face to face when you were here in Phoenix. Joan finished her piece and she brought it to our East Valley Beader group. You taught her well and her heart piece is lovely.

    It's nice that you got to go to the rim. My parents bought a cabin in a valley just below the rim when I was a child. I consider it my second home. You can see that valley when looking from the rim.

    The photo of the passion flower is wonderful, I'd never seen one with curly petals before.

    Thanks so much for coming to my neck of the woods!

    Beadily yours
    Susan Feldkamp

  24. Anonymous10:21 AM

    I am trying to find Shoshone Bannock artist, Edgar Jackson, who created the wonderful bison beading on your website to talk about a contract item (Asian bear for animal welfare project). ¿Does anyone know how to reach him? ¿Does he still work as an artist? ¿Is there anyone else this good ad animal images? The image is to be transferred to a surgical scrub hat to honor a New Orleans anesthesiologist working to end the horrors of bear bile farming (Eric Busch MD).

    Thank you.

    James Riopelle


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