Monday, January 28, 2013

Still Have a Couple of Openings!


Bead Embroidery
Beautiful San Juan Island
March 30-April 1

Join me, Peggy Kemp from Hawaii, and 12 other beaders
for a fun-filled two and a half days
intensive bead embroidery workshop
bead sharing
and beadwork show-tell-solve session!

Spring Getaway! 

As of today,
we still have a couple of openings!
Email Peggy for information
or to register.

More information
here on Beadlust!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Marriage & Beading

Today is my wedding anniversary. Sadly, it is not the happy day it should be.

Robert and I tied the knot January 12, 2001 in Victoria BC after being together for 3 1/2 years. We were both over 50 and had never previously been married. When we were saying our vows, Robert jokingly answered the 'til death do you part query under his breath, whispering maybe (not yes, but maybe). Although it was sort of funny at the time, perhaps I missed an undertone of truth, a current of unease that has run through our relationship.

Intersections - Robert & Me, 2011

If you know me, you know my bead embroidery is almost always improvisational, meaning unplanned and spontaneous. I like to stick a thought in the back of my mind, letting it guide my beading in a subconscious way. During our 16 years together, I've beaded about our relationship several times. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of these pieces in this post.

Marriage Bag, 2000

This is the first. It is Marriage Bag, started shortly after I met Robert and completed just before we got married. My intent was to explore the idea of marriage and commitment, to ask the question, Do I want to get married to this man?

Marriage Bag, Totem Animals, 2000
The first side of the bag I beaded seems to have a division. Looking at it 12 years later, I think it's about the two of us as individuals, apart from one another. My totem animal is the rabbit, so I think the left area is about me. There seems to be a lot of sunshine on my side. Robert's totem animal is the bear. His part is a bit darker, with just a hint of sunshine. There is a small heart at the bottom in each part connected by intertwined strands of beads, in retrospect a rather frail connection.

Marriage Bag, Intertwined Pathways, 2000

As I beaded the second side, the intertwined strands, representing our connection, grew much longer and stronger. It suggests a good and lengthy future together, don't you think? Back then beading this part gave me great encouragement and optimism about our relationship and marriage. Things looked pretty good during the "honeymoon phase" of the marriage, a time when we both turned blind eyes toward the signs that all was not well.

His Parents Were Alcoholics, 2007

This piece, from the first year of the Bead Journal Project,  is a portrait of Robert, showing childhood wounds, inflicted by parents, altered by alcohol, who probably did not meet his needs. I see scars, a wall, and the spirals of recovery passing under small holes in the wall. I see beaver, able to pass to either side of the wall, facing outward toward the light. I hoped that the wall would gradually fall apart, allowing us to be closer.

Hearts in Delicate Balance, 2008

A year later, I beaded this visual statement of our relationship. Look what showed up.... the same intertwined path, which I think represents the part of me that still held optimistic hope for our marriage to be well-rooted and to grow upward in a healthy way. But more dominate in this piece is the precariously balanced hearts. Even the thing upon which they stand is unbalanced. Bear is there, climbing up hill. Will we make it?

Lunar Marriage Dance, 2009

Three months later, this piece again shows my optimism. Yes, we sometimes drift apart, but then, like the cycles of the moon, we come together again, a "close dance" in the fullness of the moon. As I stitched the last bead and looked at it, I had a sense that the dance between us is good and that it passes naturally through phases, yet remains and will continue to remain a good dance. Looking at it now, I wonder if it actually predicted how the future would find us drifting apart, spending more time in solo dancing than in partnership.

Forgive, 2010

The next year, I was trying to re-invent myself, trying to make changes that would improve our marriage. This piece is inspired by two words: forgive and flow. I wanted to flow through our relationship in a peaceful way and to forgive us both for all the rough spots along the way. In retrospect, I notice that the flow divides the branch and the birds. The two birds closest to the flow have their backs to one another. Improvisational works seems to be like that, suggesting different interpretations at different times. Ten years earlier, on Marriage Bag, the two birds on the branch were facing each other (see the second loop of the intertwined pathways).

Intersections - Robert & Me, 2011

Here is another improvisational piece about our relationship, the intersection of Robert and me. I am the red/pink arm of the intersection; he is the blue arm. This is a tough one to interpret. There is a small black heart at the top of the wooden heart in the intersection. What does that signify? Wedding rings are most often shown overlapping. In this case, they are side by side. Again, I believe my choice of fabric with spirals represents hope and optimism.

None of my beadwork in 2012 is about our marriage or him. I don't know what will happen in the year ahead with either my beading or our relationship. Maybe it's time to tuck the word marriage in the back of my mind, pick up some beads, and start stitching...

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Spring Getaway - The Isle of Beads!

It's all Peggy Kemp's idea... her dream comes true March 30 through April 1, 2013... something to cure the winter blues for sure... and YOU are invited too!

Two and a half days to have fun with beads - learning, practicing and creating - on lovely San Juan Island - at the friendly Earthbox Inn and Spa! You can bring your partner, friend or spouse to enjoy spring wildflowers, hikes, kayaking, bicycle exploring on San Juan Island, while YOU play with beads.

March 29 - evening

Gathering at a local shop (yes, of course, beads) to meet me and the other students, and enjoy some light refreshments.

March 30-31 - all day + optional evenings + delicious, hot, catered lunch on both days

Improvisational Bead Embroidery, my favorite in the whole-world workshop to teach.
Learn all of the basic techniques for sewing beads on fabric, including high relief and textural variations, bezels, edge stitches, and fringing techniques. Practice them on a sampler similar to the one below.
Then begin to work on a small piece of bead embroidery, which can be made into a pouch, appliqued on a large bag, framed, sewn into a quilt, or one of many other possibilities. Throughout the two days, I will be teaching how to work improvisationally, without a plan or drawing, in a way that is fun and very empowering!

April 1 - morning

 Beady Problem Solutions
This optional half-day session is an opportunity for you to bring, show, and discuss your own work. I am prepared to assist you with "problem pieces," perhaps beadwork you like except that something doesn't "feel right," or pieces that you don't know how to finish. Bring any type of beadwork to this session.
Register now! Enrollment is limited to 12 students to provide for one-on-one instruction for every student.
$250 for Gathering and Improvisational Bead Embroidery workshop
$50 for Beady Problem Solutions
$275 for both of the above (save $25)

To get all the details and/or to register, please contact:

The workshop organizer - Peggy Kemp - email

Join us... we'll have a blast!