Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finished February BJP

What better intersection to explore during February than my relationship with my husband?

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP, detail
Since we're struggling right now, working with a marriage counselor, trying to fix problems with both expectations and communications, my Bead Journal Project piece for February seems to be more about what I wish than what is.

I started out thinking this piece would be about our current relationship (and maybe it is that... more than I realize). But as the beading progressed, it seemed more and more to represent how I'd like the intersection of our pathways to look. I'm curious what our counselor might think of it... maybe I'll take it to show her next time. Maybe I'll ask my husband what he thinks it means. That would probably throw him for a loop, as he usually doesn't know what to say about my beadwork.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP, detail
Clearly there's love at the center of our relationship, not a glamorous love, more like a plain, wooden, heart-shaped button kind of love with two funky, silver wedding-rings attached. Yet the large heart dominates the center of the story.

The line of me in the intersection is represented by red/pink beads, my favorite colors since childhood. The line of my husband is represented by blue beads, the color he painted his room when a boy, the color of his eyes, the color shirts I like to buy for him. I notice that his color gets into my line and vice-versa, which I think is important, although I'm not sure why.

My work is improvisational which means I don't start with a pre-conceived plan of any kind. Rather, I select whatever beads I'm drawn toward and start sewing them on the piece. It's fun to do it that way... and fast.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP, intersection between me and my husband
For those who like to know:
-- fabric: cotton batik
-- thread: nymo, size D
-- stabalizer: interleaving paper*
-- finished size of block: 9 1/4 inches across the diagonal
-- length of the "arms" on the beaded X-shape: 5 inches
-- beads: size 15, 11 and 8 seed beads, vintage nail heads, pressed glass shapes

* I'll remove the interleaving paper from the underside in all areas that are not beaded. Thus when I sew the blocks together to make my wall quilt, the fabric will have a soft/natural hand.

The heart and the spiral are my favorite symbols, both appearing frequently in my art and beading. So let's go with it! Let's revisit my February pieces for the past three years of the BJP:

beaded valentine for little Robin
February, 2008 - This is Valentine for Little Robin, a gift for the child within, the little sweetie who loves flowers (fossies, as I called them at age 2), bunnies and duckies.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, beaded vlaentine
February, 2009 - This is Abundance, like a candy box filled with love, each cluster representing a special loving relationship in my life.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Cry
February, 2010 - This is a detail image, showing the beaded portion of Cry, a piece that tells the story of my relationship with my wonderful mom pictured in the tear-shaped center of the heart, the heart being my love that surrounds her always. She is 94 and still hanging on, although sometimes only by a thread.

It's fun for me to look at these again, to see how strong the heart is, to view with gratitude the abundance of love in my life!


  1. I love the story and hope that everything works out for you. Long lasting love doesn't have to be glamorous and I think your heart displays that beautifully. And all your work, as usual, is so inspiring and beautiful :) Love and hugs, Judy

  2. Thank you for sharing your real life love story, bumps and all. I love your beaded piece. May the love you share with your husband continue to blossom and grow.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  3. Reading your story it occurred to me that your husband is very much like mine and I would like to share and hopefully help. Many men are very literal in their thinking and might not get the nuances of life. Keep seeing the counselor ~ I've been married 26 years and my husband will tell you the 5 years we saw a counselor was the best thing we ever did. BTW, your work is gorgeous!

  4. As usual, your piece is wonderful. You are the queen of improvisational beadwork. I hope things get better for you two. Marriage can be damned hard. I am glad to see that you keep beading through it all. Sometimes it is all we need:)

  5. As it's February, I need to tell you that I LOVE your intersections (this one and the last). Are they as freeing as they look? You know that I'm totally attracted to the improvisational nature of your work. The love affair continues.....Giggle!

  6. Robin - truly a heartfelt piece. You have delved deep into your heart and come up with both beauty and meaning. Thank you ever so much for sharing this with us.

  7. Anonymous7:01 AM

    A lovely piece, and I like your intersecting theme this year! It will make a wonderful end of year project!

  8. I am not free enough to improvise like you do - I'm a peyote kind of gal. Love your work.

  9. Hi Robin, Thanks for sharing your story and your beautiful piece from your heart.

  10. Beautifully crafted and told (as per your usual).

    I love how you share your skill and so much more with all of us, your readers, beaders, & the bead-wanna-be-rs.

    I look forward to your next intersecting/interesting story.

  11. Robin, I love your intersecting theme this year. It is going to be a bang-up quilt when you finish. And so inspiring to me. I've been spinning my wheels getting started this year on my BJP. So thanks for something to think about.

  12. I see aspects of 2 personalities in your intersection for sure. I like the combination of round and pointed shapes as well as the colors. This is such an inspirational example of 'bead journaling'!

  13. Robin -

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with all of us. It takes great courage to be so open. I think your theme of intersection is so creative and interesting. As always, your piece is gorgeous and I hope you do show it to your husband to see what he sees. One of the best thing we ever did was go to see a therapist together; actually we've gone two different times in our 47 years together and both times were winners. May the beauty you create shine and be a basis for understanding between you. Good wishes for it working out the way you would like it to.

  14. I love you cocept for the quilt! And I think it takes courage to WORK on your marriage, so many people these day won't fight they give up. I can see in your piece for February that your soul is in it! Beautiful!

  15. Hello Dear Robin. My first impression of the piece was a strong emotion relating to the 2 rings, connected by loops of red beads. I felt it was a powerful expression of true love. Then I thought blue and red are the colours of blood, before and after they go through the heart (or is my biology wrong ?).

    I like the way your husband and wife, man and woman are figured in opposite ways, opposite primary colors yet connected. It reminds me of a poem read in the Weemoon anthology that says basically "don't pat (your lover)".

    Very moving piece. Hugs.

  16. Anonymous3:00 PM

    I came back to look at this intersecting theme again, and something was tugging at my consciousness that didn't come out the first time I commented. Now that I'm looking again, I can't help but notice that the blues are much more dominant in the overall piece while the reds and pinks meld beautifully into the background. It makes me wonder if colors can say something about personalities. I'll have to allow that thought to flow freely in my next improvisational piece.

  17. I love this piece, and find it meaningful! I hope everything work out with your marriage. I also love the fact that you let your readers know about the bumps in it!

  18. Perhaps your relationship with your husband IS what you think it is and it's just the cosmetic details that are clouding up the picture.

    The fact that you both committed to counseling and are participating speaks volumes.

  19. Amazing! I love the colors and all the textures of the different types of beads next to each other. :-)

  20. Anonymous3:19 AM

    Lovely! All of your Febuary entried are gorgeous. I love the idea of the BJP, I didn't discover until Feb of this year so I was to late to join, but I'm trying my hand at it anyway. Thanks so much for all the tips!

  21. robin!
    long time no contact :) i've almost totally abandoned my abbie at play blog, and now i'm thinking that i should start a new one, one more personal perhaps. LOVE this post! it is so honest and real. just downloaded One Bead at a Time, and wanted to tell you how scrumptious it is and how totally inviting beading is to me. i wonder when i'll be able to squeeze in the sewing and beading that i've been hankering to do for a long while. in the meantime, thank you again for sharing the journey of your story. it's always an immense gift to me. take care :)


  22. oh my gosh your hearts are so amazing, of course! Hearts was one of the ideas I tossed around, inspired by relationship with my fiance. So seeing your hearts made me go..oh my gosh! Thats what I was thinking...only..she really knew what she was doing. LOL. I ended up not taking it on because I knew it would be too much work and seeing your pieces and your interpretation I can see how much work it would have been. I love when I have an idea and then find someone who has had the same idea, and made it happen. Fun to see what could be :)


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!