Monday, May 19, 2014

Message to Elders - April BJP

My Bead Journal Project for April concerns a topic not everyone wants to discuss. Please stick with me on this one, and feel free to post your comments, even if you disagree with my thoughts on the subject.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to Elders, April 2014, detail

If you've been following my BJP pieces this year, you know I've been greatly concerned for the future of the world and the children who are yet to be born. Countdown, a book by Alan Weisman (a well-researched, yet readable, book about the recent history of the growing human population in all areas of the world, and the effects this growth is having on us and on our habitat) greatly influenced my piece for April. Although I began working on it before getting the book, you can see the like-mindedness between my divided piece (in progress) and the art on the cover of the book (which I think is fabulous).

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to Elders, April 2014, detail
Message to Elders of the World (in progress)
cover art by Sam Chung for Countdown, a book by Alan Weisman
Cover Art by San Chung for the Book, Countdown, by Alan Weisman

Watching environmental documentary films on many topics over the past few years, a foreboding sense of the damage our ever increasing growth and demands place on the earth has brought me to a voluntary, world-wide, one child point of view, as the only thing the citizens of the world can do to save it. I call it 1+1=1, and it is the theme of my BJP pieces this year.

For April's BJP, I direct my hopes toward the elders, the grey and white haired folks, like myself.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to Elders, April 2014
Message to Elders of the World

Above is the finished piece. And here is a poem I wrote while beading on it and the message I hope it conveys to others who are grey now, like me:

I Am Grey Now

I am grey now –
no longer so self-absorbed
as in the greener phase of my life,
looking beyond my pile of beads,
considering the colors of the whole world,
wondering how long before
there are no more red or green apples,
how long before the abundant waters
under the earth's crust are gone,
how long before order turns to chaos,
and most of all wondering what I can do,
in my grey years, to help.

        Robin Atkins

Message to Elders of the World

For the sake of your grandchildren and great grandchildren,
wake up to the possibility of massive hunger and thirst,
the depletion of resources and environmental destruction
caused by the demands of an ever increasing human population.

We, the elders, must help our granddaughters and grandnieces
to understand it is on their shoulders to save the world,
with only one way to do it: world-wide, voluntary, one child.
No government can make this happen. Only they can do it.

        Robin Atkins
If you are like me, worried about the world, concerned for the future of all the babies being born every second, and especially for our own children, it follows that we must take on the responsibility of coaching them in stewardship, which includes green living as well as voluntary one-child. My other three bead embroideries on this theme are:

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to Young Brides, March 2014
Message to Young Brides of the World
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to Women, Feb 2014
Message to Women of the World
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Message to All People, Jan 2014
Message to Citizens of the World
My available tools of change are art and words. Thus, I am making these bead embroidery pieces (2.5 x 3.5 inches each), which can be displayed on small easels, and writing poems for whoever will see or read them, in the hopes of helping others to envision and question the future, to ask what they can do for the world.

Thank you for staying with me to the end of this post, and for considering the questions it raises.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

8-Year Giveaway!

On this very day, eight years ago in 2006, I took a big plunge and started blogging. Here is my very first post :) ...

our Siamese cat, Hollie
My cat, Hollie (age 11 now), is still our trusted companion, although mostly inclined to sleep, and with much darker fur. In fact her body is so dark, it's only her face that makes her recognizable as a Siamese. As you can see, she likes to sleep on Robert's shoes, under the coffee table.

I've posted 297 times in the past eight years, which only amounts to an average of slightly over 3 per month. There's always a wait-list of posts I want to write, pictures that need editing, subjects worthy of research and sharing... but time? Well, that's a fleeting sort of thing... so I never get around to posting as often as I'd like.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Valentine
Thank you to all of my followers! You and your comments keep me posting. It's true. I probably would have stopped years ago if it weren't for you.

One Bead at a Time by Robin Atkins, cover
By way of thanking you, I found two pristine copies of  One Bead at a Time, my first book, which has been out of print for several years now (although available as a free download PDF on my website).

To celebrate 8 years of blogging, I will give away these two books, one each to two randomly selected readers who comment on this post. Even if you already have this book, please comment to enter... you can give the book to a beady friend, or request another of my books when I contact you. This giveaway ends on June 1, 2014.
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Friends
Again, thank you and bless you for your support during the past 8 years. Now that I'm semi-retired, I hope to be better about posting more often: step-by-step photo tutorials, and posts on informational/inspirational topics. Keep beading and stitching... it's therapy!

Oh, and please, don't miss my post from yesterday, showing exceptionally fine bead embroidery by Becki Applegate!

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!