Monday, May 12, 2014

The Best Reward.... Ever!

bead embroidery by Becki Applegate, detail
I've been teaching a two-day workshop called Improvisational Bead Embroidery for more than 25 years now, teaching both techniques and process to more than 2,000 women + a few men. In every workshop, there are one or two students who really stand out, who learn the stitches quickly and easily, and who embrace the idea of working intuitively. Often, they are the quiet ones, the ones who focus on their work and get a lot done in class, who don't ask many questions, but who pay rapt attention to all that I say and demonstrate.

bead embroidery by Becki Applegate, detail
Sometimes a promising student sends me an email with a photo of the project they started in class, which I always love to see. But the most gratifying reward of all, the thing that makes all the prep time and all the travel time worth while, is when I meet a student again and they bring the finished piece, the one they started in class, to show me in person. That is the best reward for teaching... ever!

bead embroidery by Becki Applegate, detail
Last week, I taught a group of 19 ladies from the Camano Island Quilt Guild, a very lively and talented group, many of whom will make me proud in the future! See how focused and hard-working they are?

my students - Camano Island Quilters and 3 visitors
One of the students, Becki Applegate, of Whidbey Island, took this same workshop one year ago when I taught it here on San Juan Island. At the time, she was definitely one of those stand out students, and she later joined the Bead Journal Project, continuing to make compelling bead embroideries.

bead embroidery by Becki Applegate, detail
When I asked her why she was taking the workshop for a second time, she said she was tired at the end of the second day (a year ago), and had not been able to absorb some of the things I taught, especially the finishing techniques. This time, since she already knew all the basics, she figured she could conserve her energy for that last segment about how to finish various types of bead embroidery, how to frame, line, back, sculpt, etc.

bead embroidery by Becki Applegate, detail
That is gratifying to a teacher, for sure! But even more gratifying, in this case, was seeing the finished project, Becki started in my class a year ago. She gave me permission to photograph it and show it here. Below is the front of her beaded pouch. It snaps closed at the bottom center.

beaded pouch by Becki Applegate, front
Below is the back of the pouch. I especially love the patchwork design with the gradation from orange to yellow beads. As always, you can click on any of the pictures to open a "slide show" of enlarged versions, which better reveal the details.

beaded pouch by Becki Applegate, back
Below is the front and back, how it looks when the pouch is open and laid pocket-side down, showing all of the bead embroidery. Becki uses many size 15 seed beads, which is how she gets so much detail into a small pouch (about  3.5 inches wide).

beaded pouch by Becki Applegate, front and back
If you flip it over, you can see the pocket inside, suitable for a special treasure or photo. The pouch is lined with Ultrasuede Soft Premium, a synthetic leather. The color is "Carrot."

beaded pouch by Becki Applegate, showing pocket inside.
I couldn't be happier or more proud of Becki and the beautiful bead embroidery she is doing!


  1. What a great piece and a lot of work.

  2. So happy to see Becky's finished piece. WOW! She has such a way with color. I was tired by the second day of your workshop, too! Great that she's close enough to take it again.

    1. I knew you'd remember her and like this pouch, Peggy! Doesn't it bring back great memories of a fun class?!

      I never know how to handle that last segment. Sometimes I think I should drop it, but it's such important information that I always try to squeeze it in... and there's no short cut.

      Thanks for being my beading buddy :)!

    2. It did bring back memories! I think my fatigue was increased by being in complete sinus meltdown! I remember having to just go put myself down in bed for a couple of hours. (After I got home my doctor suggested that I might want to time my vacations when the spring flowers weren't in bloom. NOT!) I missed some of the best stuff... oh well. It is important info, maybe it could be bumped up a couple of hours, like after lunch the second day. Thanks for teaching us! We weren't nearly as focused and serious as we probably should have been.

  3. I can see why this is so gratifying to you as the teacher. Her work is so colorful and lively. Wonderful!

  4. What a compliment to you Robin! Becky's pouch is wonderful!!! Congrats to you both on job(s) well done!!!

  5. ooooh, I remember Becki's work .... she has a fine, steady hand and mucho patience for all the little-bitties ;>]] Lovely to see this finished piece!

  6. Gorgeous work!

    I can tell that you're a fantastic teacher, Robin. I love how much pride you take in your students' work!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!