Friday, May 21, 2010

April Bead Journal Project ~ Finished!

Well finally!!! At last the words, felt, painted paper and beads all flowed together easily (and fairly quickly)... Here is Forgive, my BJP piece for April!

improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Forgive, April 2010 BJP
It must be due to the fabulous hand-dyed felt that Sweetpea gifted to me. She made it in a workshop taught by Chad Alice Hagen. When she showed me the precious bundle of resist-dyed felt she had made in the workshop, I about went nuts... drooling, petting it, rubbing it on my face (sooooo soft!), tracing the patterns with my fingers, admiring the saturated colors... What could she do? Of course, she gave me not one, but TWO, of the pieces!!!!

Until this month, I've used store-bought, wool felt and covered it with beads so that you couldn't see it. I was bored with it... bored with plain, solid color... and frustrated by the way the beads would sink down into the felt. I kept wondering WHY on earth I had decided to use felt this year.

Well now I know! Working of this piece of butter-soft felt with its uneven, felted edges (must be a proper term for this type of edge) was such a tactile pleasure!!! I did not use paper or any other stabilizer under the felt, which made it pleasing to touch on both sides of my piece!!!

improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Forgive, detail
The other thing that made this piece come forth so beautifully was the lime-green felt. I was visiting my family in Minnesota and beading with Julie (my brother's wife) and we got to wondering if it would work to rubber stamp on felt. It does! She had a scrap of lime green felt from which she had punched out a Christmas tree (see the shape on the bottom?) So we stamped it with a bird stamp. I liked it and asked if I could have it. (Who me a shameless beggar? You bet!)

The scrap looked a little different when she gave it to me. For this piece, I cut it in half (the lime green beads flow between the two parts), frayed out the edges using a needle and embroidered the birds and branch using single strands of standard embroidery floss (mostly back stitch).

improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Forgive, detail
I painted the tags in the same colors as the background paper and wrote the words on them with a #3 micron pen.

The words are special to me for the month of April and so is the piece because of some personal changes I began making then. To forgive myself and others is an important part of this change... I see the words flow and forgive working together in this piece to guide me in the process. The other words are part of it too, especially to rest and to finish what I've begun.

One other reason this piece went together so easily is that I worked improvisationally, without a plan. On last month's piece, I worked more representationally (the mesa or butte), which is always more difficult because I'm trying to make it recognizable.

Unexpected things happen when I work improvisationally. In this case, after completing the piece, I noticed the over-all shape of the felt reminded me of a house... a bird house? a house for a Robin? This metaphor applies to the changes I am making, yet I didn't plan it at all! Improv just works for me and I'm always more satisfied with the end results.

I hope you like it too.

38 comments:

  1. I like it very much Robin.

    I've been enjoying your mixed media BJP's and had thought that you were being over critical about your earlier pages. While I am still impressed with those pages, I can see that this page is 'much more muchier'. It seems very peaceful; healing even.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It looks like you've turned a corner or two (literally) and when you do, things really start to flow. I am really loving your work this year. I enjoy your use of new materials and how they interact with you as a new user. There's so much to like in this piece but your embroidered birds are the bomb...birds of a feather flock together and you've got quite a flock bead journaling around the world! Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do love your other pieces, but I love this one the most. It shows a sense of freedom and a certain amount of joy! I feel that collage and mixed media are most effective when you don't overthink them. That improvisational approach is rearing it's lovely head again. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My eye wants to go everywhere at once with this incredible piece. There's so much to see, and it's all pulled together (for me, by your flowing lime green bead strands). I love the ruffles at the top, one of my recently learned stitches. How neat that you gave new live to the Christmas tree scrap! It's wonderful no matter where I look!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The mixed media craze has really hit the BJP. This is by far my most favorite of you pieces this year. Think its partly the birds? You bet. I really love it. The color scheme is fantastic. I agree, a piece flows so much easier when you work improvisationally. For me, I call it flying by the seat of my pants ~lol~
    Great Art, Robin.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I enjoyed reading your beautiful post. Your April piece is amazing--such creativity and freedom all in one! I had only recently heard of the BJP, but I hope to make my own "journey" next year.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's wonderful. I like the felt and didn't think about resist dyeing it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That's lovely, Robin.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I also love the spontaneity of this piece.. and well of course the birds are what did it LOL
    I've been trying to push myself with colors and lime green is a hard one for me.. great for you though....

    Gerry K....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Robin -- this is wonderful! i love it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This piece really spoke to me on a deep emotional level. It is just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  12. this is beautiful! i am always amazed at your use of so many different textures and colors, how you make everything flow seemingly so effortlessly. it's nice to know that even someone of your calliber and experience still has some issues with trial and error, though. you are human! all this time i had you pegged as an infallible superhero. well, rest assured, my lovely robin...even with trial and error you ARE still a superhero in my book! :) xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love it! I always (well, usually) work improvisational. I love the let the pieces make themselves. Sometimes they just don't work out, but most of the time I am well pleased with how they do!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh you lucky lucky ducky you!! Such gorgeous material, and I really think you did well by it with the piece you created :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. That felt is wonderful, I'm so glad your friend gifted you pieces to use... the tactile feel of it is so luscious. Looking at the photo, just wow... it feels like acceptance, serenity, joy. Love your embroidered birds, beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Soooo beautiful! The colors and textures go perfectly together, and the piece flows so well.

    I've always had a problem with the whole concept of "forgiveness." We use the word very casually, as when someone bumps into you and you forgive them, because it's a small thing and doesn't matter. Forgiveness is really a very big thing, and it is hard, because it is about things that mater very much. The embroidered birds, the colors you chose, the words you used, all speak of forgiveness as a way to set ourselves free and go on with our lives. Bravo!

    The one regret I have about seeing your April BJP is that I can't reach through the screen here and touch that beautiful felt!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great Job Robin! I love your blog.
    I wanted to share this valuable beading book with everyone.

    I posted a link to a great beaders heaven enjoy

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh how "birdie sweet it is", I just love it & I am smiling when I look at it.
    Fabulous piece with a "mixture of a little bit of everything".

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This piece definitely has a flow about it that your last piece doesn't and that is probably more to do with the subject matter than anything. The mesa or butte is a big solid object which time has worn and weathered away at, which I think you captured brilliantly. The birds are springy and light, chirping at each other under a huge ball of light which is flowing down on to them. Looking back, I suspect you are definitely a more spring/summer person so maybe that is why these months seem easier than the winter months for you

    ReplyDelete
  21. Robin...I LOVE THIS piece! It is not just the felt, but the unsymmetry calls out to me. I can just imagine the feel of the felt & the different angles of folded fabric with the metal tags & then oh so lovely beads. Beautiful is the word.

    dot

    ReplyDelete
  22. That is just gorgeous and I agree that it is the 'best' one so far this year ('best' being a subjective opinion!) It is organic and it flows and the colours are wonderful. And I do love mixed media!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Robin, I also love the texture, softness and flow of this piece. It's beautiful and restful to me. The birds are delightful and the words beneath just dangle so gently. Wonderful work, as always.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh, that is so lovely! That is truly an inspiring piece.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This absolutely lovely - one of those pieces where I just want to keep looking and looking at it, seeing something new each time. I also love the word you've chosen for April -- 'forgiveness' -- something we have such a hard time doing, both toward others and ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is a wonderful piece—I love the blackbirds, and the beads flowing through the center of the felt piece. Your multi-media pieces are getting better and better.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I bought this complete beading guide book awhile back and it's one of my most valuable beading resources. I posted the link to this beading resource for every other bead lover out there.

    Highly Recommended Beading Resource.

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a fantastic piece! With almost each new piece you present, I think: This is the best I have ever seen! But then comes the next piece ...

    Sabine

    ReplyDelete
  29. To all ~ Thanks so much for your supportive and encouraging comments. Yes, I really wish you could all reach through your computer screens to touch this felt. As I said, it's the reason for and why this piece developed so easily and freely!

    Robin

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh my goodness, Robin... everything about your April piece is exquisite. That piece of felt, of course, is sooooo wonderful (you know me and felt...), and what you've done with it is fabulous! How imaginative, using that Christmas tree scrap in that way! And your birds are really calling to me - I was very much into birds these last few weeks too! (My latest vessel has a bird on it...)

    Isn't working with handmade felt fun? I just love your improv work - this piece really flows, and you've done such a marvelous job of bringing out the design on the felt. Gosh, I just can't say enough about this piece - Brava!!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wonderful! Love it Robin!

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is lovely. I like the way the green beads flow down. That felt is gorgeous. I've never worked with felt but after seeing this I want to!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Absolutely GORGEOUS!

    ReplyDelete
  34. What more can I say? So many beautiful comments. I LOVE this felt and the embroidered birds are so wonderful. I would love to see this piece in person but alas we are too far apart.... Lise

    ReplyDelete
  35. Robin, I like this one very much. Blackbirds being a favorite of mine. I really like your treatment of the bottom of the lime green felt. Your work as always, is lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  36. How amazing that you, who told me to not hesitate and just improv my beading, are still learning the joys of improvisational beading! I like it more and more, it feeds my imagination, it is in some way even spiritual and healing at times... Thank you for sharing your journey and allowing us to walk along. Your April piece has turned out fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh My Robin this is just beautiful! I love it very much!
    Also wanted to say thank you for the free e-book, much appreciated and very generous of you.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!