Friday, June 04, 2010

Change - May BJP - Finished!

collage, bead journal project, Robin Atkins, detail
Major changes (which came into full swing during May) are happening in my life. All six of my words for the month are relevant. They are: change, remember, forgive, seek, open and thank. Can you find them in the finished piece below? (You may need to click to enlarge.)

fiber and bead collage, bead journal project, Robin Atkins
I named the piece Change because that's the most important word of the six. Although I've decided not to delve into the personal changes I'm making in this post, it's not really a secret. If you're interested to read about it, you can check out my journal-blog, Words Paint, which I write under the pseudonym of Peacefulbird.

Obviously, the butterflies are symbolic elements of change and metamorphosis. A once-closed envelope (me) is now open with butterflies flying free. Feathers are another symbol of freedom, flight and good perspective... My husband found these two in our yard. My best guess is that a Northern Flicker gifted some tail feathers to us. The turtles are all about getting there, no matter how long it takes.

I started with the second, luscious, butter-soft, piece of resist-dyed felt made and given to me by Sweetpea. Without thought, I immediately folded and pinned it into an envelope shape. What could go in it? Oh, maybe those flicker feathers I've been saving! Oh, OK, now what paper will I use for the background?

Auditioning papers: This one seems to dark, don't you think?

auditioning painted papers for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
This one seems too busy.

auditioning painted papers for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
This one is really too busy; it competes with the pattern on the felt.

auditioning painted papers for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
This one was my second choice. I like it a lot, but it seems a tad too pale or washed-out looking with the felt.

auditioning painted papers for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
Here's the one I chose. Doesn't look like much in this picture, but the color has lots of life without being overpowering.

auditioning painted papers for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
Once that was decided, I started playing around with various beads and elements I might use. I had 4 plastic butterfly-shaped buttons in my stash which looked really nice coming out of the felt envelope and had appropriate relevance to change.

How could I apply my words to these buttons and where could I find two more? Hmmm... gave up on that one and decided to make my own butterflies by sawing them out of copper sheet and metal-stamping the words. Tried that. Too big, and way too visually heavy for the delicacy of a butterfly. OK, well, maybe I could make butterflies out of heavy, water-color paper, write the words on the wings and paint them. Here are the three ideas. You can see why I rejected the copper...

collage elements, bead journal project, Robin Atkins
So then I played around with drawing butterflies free-hand. Ummm, I'm not so good at that. However I had a sheet of butterfly stickers that gave me an idea. I peeled off the background part of the sheet and placed it lightly on the water-color paper. Then I used a #2 Micron pen to draw around the inside (where the sticker was), which gave me some nice shapes.

template for drawing butterflies, bead journal project, Robin Atkins
I wrote the words vertically along the edges of the left-hand wings, extending some of the letters to look like the veins. For the right-hand wings, I wrote the words backwards. Ruined a few, but finally got six usable butterflies. Next I painted them with watered-down, transparent acrylic paints.

painting butterflies for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
After painting, they looked like this.

painted butterflies for bead journal project, Robin Atkins
Before cutting out the butterflies, I used an embossing stylus to score along the body on each side so that I could easily fold the wings into flying position.

Next, I had to figure out how to attach them to my piece. Everybody knows how much I don't like glue. So, I needed a way to sew them on the paper and felt. I also needed antennae. A double-layer body might do the trick...

I cut out six little, body shapes from heavy, black paper and made antennae from bent pieces of 28 gauge brass wire. Using PVA (acid-free, bookbinder's glue) and a toothpick applicator, I put a little glue on the back side of the butterfly bodies and along the duplicate body shapes. Then I placed two pre-cut lengths of Nymo thread in the glue, perpendicular to each body and laid the antennae in the glue at the head. When the glue was slightly set, I joined the duplicate body layer to the back of each butterfly. My plan, if the glued layers worked, was to use the four Nymo threads to sew each of the butterflies to my piece. It did work! I hope the picture helps to make sense out of what I just wrote.

underside of painted butterflies for bead journal project collage, Robin Atkins
I also used 28 gauge brass wire to wrap beads around the feather quills. In a similar manner to the butterflies, I laid two pre-cut Nymo threads along each quill before wrapping, which would allow me to sew the feathers to the paper.

Here's what the back of my piece looks like. You can see where I tied the Nymo threads to secure feathers and butterflies. I used Tyvek (from a mailing envelope) as a backing to prevent the thread from cutting the paper. You can also see where I sewed the felt envelope to the paper using Nymo thread.

back side of collage, bead journal project, Robin Atkins
Well, there you have it, probably more how-to than anybody needs or wants... but I can't help myself sometimes...

I love this piece and what it represents in my life! Hope you like it too.

26 comments:

  1. That is such a lovely piece! And the 'how to' was really interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely piece! And thank you for sharing all the steps that went into it. I always find that kind of thing to be just fascinating. The Flicker feathers are very special and beautiful.

    Of course, I looked at you other blog. You are going through mighty and powerful change, indeed! I love that you're setting those butterflies free.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I for one, LOVE the HOw-To's !!! Your poosts are always so inspiring and full of your wonderful spirit! One cannot help but be inspired and motivated to create. Change is so hard but it is such a necessary part of life and learning to embrace it makes for a colorful journey of self discovery!!!
    thinking of you and so very thankful for you and all that you share with us!!!
    Fondly! Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Robin, I thoroughly enjoy your explanations, so thank you.

    I am really enjoying your, and others, mixed media work this year. I always admired mix media pieces but never had a clue of how the work was created. It amazes me. I super like this piece.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great work for May - thanks so much for sharing your process and your test pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the way that you explained everything (and did such a good job of it!). Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the whole problem solving process with the butterflies... Sometimes it just "this or that" choices like the paper...but the really creative part is making the right butterflies just for this piece.... Hooray!!!

    Gerry K.

    ReplyDelete
  8. p.s. and those are flicker feathers... I sent some to Crow Woman and she used them in her last BJP piece...

    Gerry K.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fabulous - I can feel the texture from here and LOVE the idea of the envelope.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a lovely piece! And thank you for posting your working steps. I love to read how other people come to a finished piece.

    ReplyDelete
  11. As always, you are inspiring, Robin. I think this is one of my all-time favorite pages. Even before knowing the reasons for the page, it gives you a sense of freedom and letting go. Bravo for you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Adore the little butterflies! What a clever idea :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. A great piece!! And I love how you documented your process. That's the most fun seeing how everyone ends up with their piece!! Thanks for sharing with us.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the sheer simplicity of this piece and that the way everything is angled to produced movement as if everything is about to fly off the page. The turtles seem to be door openers and the ones keeping the envelope for floating away. One of the feathers seems to resolute and not going anywhere but the other is about to join the butterflies. Summer is definitely your season :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lovely expressions from a lovely lady. Thanks so much for stepping through the process. As a newcomer it will help me in the future to organize a plan on how to proceed. We have flickers too and love their non aggressive nature especially when considering their size. Have a happy day.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a beautiful piece. I love the way the butterflies are floating off! And like everyone else I'm glad for the detailed explanation, it's inspiring & instructional!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for such a beautiful and inspiring post Robin, and the link which explains your journey. Such beautiful feathers also with their symbolism.I am always intruiged with the steps in a creative process and enjoyed your explanation. It is such a beautiful piece!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I also enjoyed going through the refinement process of your piece. It's lovely and very special in it's meaning; plus there's a great deal of creativity in the elements of this piece, especially the butterflies!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love the thought, your clever little butterflies and the wooly envelope. You've made me think and I wish you well on your latest journey. Also, congrats on embracing the mixed media format. Doesn't it give you a sense of freedom? Just like the adventures of your internal butterflies.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is lovely and evocative. I wish I had half your sense of design.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I loved this piece at first sight, but after reading your other blog, I am even more appreciative of all that's gone into it and all it means to you.
    You are one of the dearest people it's ever been my pleasure to meet, robin.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is just beautiful, Robin. I also love the butterflies. They are so colorful and joyous! The envelope is indeed deliciously velvety. And it was great to read through your design process and see exactly how you made the piece (great idea to use the sticker outlines for drawing the butterflies.)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love the simplicity of this page. It is so tranquille and calm, there is a sense of release to it. Simply beautiful.

    Your confidence with mixed media is really developing. On the early pages you spoke of your stuggles, now you are providing us with a how-to (which I loved, thank you).

    Now I am going to look up Flickers (I've never heard of them) and then to read your other blog.

    ReplyDelete
  24. ...a {{{{{felt}}}}} envelope with butterflies on the wing...beautiful feathers from birds on the wing...and Peacefulbird now on the wing!

    Your grace as you fly directly into that windstorm is humbling and your honesty about personal changes (as with your honesty about everything) is like no one else I know. But your acceptance of others not having that ability and your gentle encouraging ways towards them, well my friend, that is so absolutely endearing...

    I wish you gorgeous uninterrupted joyous FLIGHT!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just found your blog, and it is wonderful!

    This is a beautiful project, and it is awesome to see the creative process that went into it :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow. That really is a beautiful piece. I love that every aspect of it symbolizes something about you. Change is a very important word, and this embodies that very well. Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!