Saturday, December 30, 2006

Six Word Stories

Browsing blogland, I found two wonderful (new to me) blogs: Juju Loves Polkadots, which is as fun and artful as its name, and Tounge in Cheek, which is where I got the idea for this post. Between the two of them, three and a half hours passed in pure bliss.

The idea of six word stories is explained here. It's based on Ernest Hemmingway's story:

"For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn."

Think about it... that's quite a story for just six words! Corey Amaro added to the idea, making it "snapshots and stories in six words".

Accepting the challenge, I decided to call it "my art assignment" for the day... here are the results:

Child in tulip field, photo by Robin Atkins
 Lady with Candle, collage by Robin Atkins,detail
San Juan Channel, photo by Robin Atkins
Syrian wedding dress, photo by Robin Atkins
Grave marker in Native American graveyard, photo by Robin Atkins
Storm damaged tree on our property, photo by Robin Atkins
Mia's grave marker and deer, photo by Robert Demar

My photographer husband says this is cheating... that these are one thousand and six word stories. He has a point. Who cares... it's been a fun afternoon. I'd love to see your interpretations of snapshots and stories in six words (or 1000 + 6 words, if you prefer)!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

painted paper for Christmas cards by Robin Atkins

Merry Christmas
& Have a Beady New Year!

While visiting my nearly-90-year-old Mom in Minnesota a few weeks ago, we occupied the craft room in her assisted living home for a few days and painted a bunch of papers. Later, we cut up the papers and pasted them on blank cards, which we rubber stamped with our Christmas greetings. It was great fun to play with her like that, and she enjoyed it too! Wish I had pictures of us working to show you, but we were too covered with paint and having too much fun for picture taking. Below are a few of the ones I did... I'm just showing the painted part, not the whole card.

painted paper for Christmas cards by Robin Atkins

painted paper for Christmas cards by Robin Atkins
painted paper for Christmas cards by Robin Atkins

painted paper for Christmas cards by Robin Atkins
Christmas painting, acrylic on drawing paper, by Robin Atkins
This last one isn't a card. It's actually a full sized painting, which I've since framed. It reminds me of the nicer aspects of our recent snow storm (here and here).

earrings by Robin Atkins, bead artist
I have two favorite pairs of Christmas earrings. I made these stars (origami - folding strips of paper - here are instructions) into earrings, and have a necklace to match as well.

earrings by Robin Atkins, bead artist
These are my other favorite Christmas earrings. I'm sorry that I can't recall the name of the woman in Edmonds, WA who made these lampwork beads years ago. I don't know if she's still making beads or not. Anybody recognize them? She didn't have two Santas, so I made them different. I love that they don't match, and always enjoy wearing them.
Note added on 1-30-07: The beads in these earrings and the fibula pin below were made by Marjorie Burr and she's still making beads! When I knew her (around 1994), she was still teaching school, but looking forward to retirement and a new career making beads. Seems she's done it!

fibula pin by Robin Atkins, bead artist
Here is a Christmas fibula pin I made years ago with beads by the same person as the earrings above. I mostly wear it on a black fleece coat, but sometimes move it onto a sweater.

beaded panel on leather box by Anna Feher
Over the years, some of my beady friends have made me some really wonderful beaded gifts. This is a woven (peyote stitch) panel, which is mounted on a black leather box. My bead sister, Anna Feher in Hungary made it for me.

rabbit Christmas ornament by Janet Briggs
Here is my favorite beady gift from this year... an ornament featuring my totem animal (rabbit), made by Janet. This is really special for many reasons. First, I LOVE it... and second, it blows me away that a blogging friend whom I've never met would know me well enough to send such a totally me gift!

My brother, Thom, and I often exchange hand-made gifts. This year, in addition to sending a gorgeous wreath, he and his wife made us three snowflake ornaments, which I've hung in our kitchen window.

beaded snowflake by Thom Atkins
beaded snowflake by Thom Atkins
My Christmas wish for you:

May your holiday season be filled with the spirit of play,
and may the new year bring you many blessings of
peace, love, friendship, family, health,
creativity and more play!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bead Embroidery & Cloisonne ~
Pin/Wall Hanging Combination

by Karen Cohen

Bead embroidery and cloisonne by Karen Cohen
If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember seeing bead embroidery (here and here) by Karen Cohen, who is primarily an enamel artist. In the last year, Karen has added bead embroidery to her considerable skills and is now combining the two. Here is a bead embroidered wall hanging, which serves as a "frame" for her triangular cloisonne pin. (The pin is removable when you want to wear it rather than see it on the wall). Don't you think she's done a grand job of blending the two art forms? Here you can see a larger image of this piece.

Storms Keeping Us Busy

I wanted to start this post on an up note, turning the attention from our weather-related hardships back to beads and art. However, it feels important to explain my long silence. Since our snow storm three weeks ago (see here and here) and more recent extreme high wind storms, we've been focused on repairs and fixes around our 5-acre property (on San Juan Island, WA). This has been very unusual weather for us with temps well below freezing, very high winds, record precipitation. Here is some of what we've been dealing with.

Many fallen trees and branches, photo by Robin Atkins

Trees and branches down... all over the place, some caused by the weight of the snow, others by the wind. Much chainsaw work is needed.

Fallen tree on trash shed, photo by Robin Atkins

Fortunately, no trees fell on our house, but one nailed our garbage storage shed.

Prone fir lost upright trunk, photo by Robin Atkins

One of my favorite trees, a huge, mostly prone fir, along the trail to the studio, lost it's only upright limb. I guess the good news is that we have lots of firewood for the next year or so.

Hauling branches to burn pile, photo by Robin Atkins

Once the useable parts of fallen trees get bucked-up for firewood, we have to haul the remainder to an open area where we can burn it. This is the first burn getting started.

First burn pile underway, photo by Robin Atkins

Here is Robert feeding our first all-day burn. We roasted hot dogs in the coals later that night! We'll probably need at least three more burns like this before things begin to look normal around here.

Shattered plumbing connection, photo by Robin Atkins

The other thing that happened is damage to our plumbing. Our property is on rock and at an elevation of about 500 feet, making a well expensive, if we could even find water. So we collect rain from the roof of the garage, house and studio in large cisterns. From the cisterns it is pumped to the house. The pump and outside plumbing are very vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Normally they are protected by heat lamps (in the pump houses) and heat tape (on the pipes). But with the temperatures 8-12 degrees F. and our power out for 48 hours during the snow storm, there was unavoidable damage. This picture shows one of the shattered pipe connections for the studio.

Old and new pump parts, photo by Robin Atkins

The pump for the house cracked. Robert ordered and installed a new pump, but unfortunately, the replacemet pump had a defective impeller. For 5 days he experimented with it, trying to get the system working. And, of course, we had no running water during this time. Finally he took apart the new pump and the cracked pump, and using parts from both made one that works! Running water is SUCH a blessing!!!

There you have it. I intent to return to beading and more frequent blogging soon. In the meantime, please don't give up on me, and thanks for your moral support!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Time to Bead...

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins This is from Monday morning, after it snowed here all day and all night Sunday (see previous post). We had 18 inches in our yard, according to my "stick-in-the-snow" measurements... up to our knees in snow.... wet heavy snow.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins Everything was bowed down with the weight of the snow. Plus we'd had freezing rain the night before it started snowing, so the branches and leaves were already coated with ice.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins Here's the Madrona tree right outside our back deck.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin AtkinsHere's a close up of the Madrona berries. They look so pretty in contrast to the white!

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins Here's where we start to notice the damage. This is the trail from our house to the studio. Obviously some trees and branches down here, broken from the weight of the snow and ice. This calls for a temporary new trail and a lot of clean up when it all melts.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins If you remember from the previous post, Robert tried to pull our neighbors pickup with our Bronco, got it stuck too, and decided to leave it where it was. Three trees fell across our drive way during the night, narrowly missing the front of the Bronco. That was quite the chain-saw and back-breaker job to get those three trees off the driveway. Several more fell across the driveway between our garage and our neighbor's house... more work to keep us warm in steadily decreasing temperatures. Oh, and by the way, I didn't mention, did I that we lost power Sunday evening, our pipes froze, and we lost our telephone line. But then, there was lots of snow to melt on our wood stove.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins Here's one of those trees across the driveway... You can see how the weight of all that snow and ice just snapped the trunk.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins
The hero of the day was our neighbor, John, who has a tractor because he's a bamboo farmer. Bless him, he plowed our road on Monday, and today came back to plow our driveway (after we cleaned the fallen trees out of the way). This is one of the blessings of living on an island... we work together, and help each other during hard times.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins
This is just a pretty picture taken up by the studio. Robert collects old rusty things. This antique portable fire hose is one of my favorites.

snow storm, Nov. 2006, photo by Robin Atkins
With the power out for two days, no water, and no phone, and the temperature falling... the only thing that keeps us going is our wood stove. Here's Robert with a load of wood. Yesterday it was about 15 degrees (F). Right now it's down to 8 degrees. But for now, we have power, light, phone and computers. Still no water, but that's ok... there's still lots of snow!

What with all this hauling, chopping, clearing, etc. I've had no time to bead during the day, and no light to bead at night. Whaaaa. Guess I'll just have to take my beads to Minnesota, where the weather's been balmy with rain showers! It's supposed to snow a bunch more here tomorrow, but hopefully I'll be gone before it starts. Snow is ok in moderation, if the power stays on, and if your pipes don't freeze, and if your trails and driveways don't get blocked by fallen trees.

Wish us luck that the Bronco will start and make it into the airport tomorrow morning. There I'll catch a small plane (6 or 8 seats) to Seattle. I'll post to the comments from Minnesota after I arrive there. Then it'll be a week before I'm back to blog writing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Little Beads of SNOW!!!

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins This is how the trees looked from our upper deck this morning at about 10:00 am.

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins This is how the entrance to our wood shed looked (after I got a load of wood - see footprints?) this afternoon at about 3:00 pm. We're up to about 10 inches here!

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins You can see the ten-inch accumulation on our upper deck rail. It's the best place to measure.

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins Miss Hollie Three-Bell-Huntress says, "You what? You want me to step out in THAT?"

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins "Well, OK, but I'm sticking right next to the house where it's sheltered."

"Hmmmm, I see it's not going to stop soon. Think I'll come back inside and sit by the fire for a while."

snow storm photo by Robin AtkinsOur neighbors went to town (6 miles) to stock up on groceries. Good neighbors that they are, they called from town to see if we needed anything. Yes, they'd bring us milk... But when they delivered our milk and tried to back out of our drive, slip, sloosh, spin.... Oooops, stuck good.

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins OK, so we'll try to shovel it out. No luck.

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins Well then, let's get out a length of chain and hook my husband's Bronco to the neighbor's truck. Four wheel drive ought to do the trick, right?

snow storm photo by Robin Atkins Pull. PULL! Now eight wheels are spinning, but neither the truck nor the Bronco are moving an inch.

Ok, they agree... We'll just leave them where they are for now, and see what tomorrow will bring.

That's the report from San Juan Island, Washington, where it rarely snows... maybe once a year. It's dark now... and still snowing. The record here is 3 feet, which stopped everything except kids with sleds and adults with snowshoes. Since I'm due to go off island in two days (going to Minnesota to see my Mom), let's hope and pray it not only stops snowing, but also warms up considerably... or I won't be going anywhere.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

T is for Thankful!
B is for Blessings!

While our turkey is cooking, the joyful smell of its crackling juices pervasive throughout every cranny in the house, it seems appropriate to make a gratitude list. Mine is random, unedited, in the order conceived… and incomplete.

I’m blessed with a wonderful family. We all like each other; we’re all friends!

Mom, photo by Robin Atkins
Mom ~ who is nearly 90, amazes me constantly. She’s totally deaf, lives across the country from me, and doesn’t do computers… so we communicate the old fashioned way – with letters. Her extensive vocabulary, flawless grammar and love of books have undoubtedly contributed much to my appreciation for good writing.

Mom and Dad, photo by Robin Atkins
Dad ~ and Mom had a rare and envious kind of marriage that was rock solid, founded on deep mutual trust, respect and regard. Together they set a golden example for their family, and provided a road map for navigation through difficulties, illness and loss. For this I am incredibly grateful!

Family gathering, Thanksgiving 1998
My siblings ~ Thom, Matt, Jon and Roxy, their spouses and their kids – I’m so proud of them all, so happy to have their friendship, to have this lovely sense of community, support and family, even though we’re spread across the country! The picture above is from Thanksgiving (in Minnesota!) 1998, when Mom and Dad were still in their home.

Robert Demar at Work, 2005
Robert ~ I’m equally blessed with a wonderful husband. At age 54, I thought I’d never find anybody with whom I could share such a relationship as my parents had. Better to never marry, I thought. But all that changed when I took a photography class at the Coupeville Arts Center and just happened to sit next to Robert Demar. He made me laugh then, and he still makes me laugh. I adore laughing, but am a serious soul… so I need him to fodder the chuckle within. Companions, partners – mates for life– that’s what we are!

Many friends have blessed my life… Here are a few of them:

Liz and Robin, photo by Robert Demar
Liz ~ I’ve probably talked more, revealed more, listened more and learned more with Liz than anybody else in the world. We go back 36 years. We read our morning pages out loud to each other. That’s trust!

Creativity Sisters
Creativity Sisters ~ This group goes back a long time too. Formed early in Beadland (17 years ago), we do art together and encourage each other, especially when life gets in the way of our art.

Quilting Sisters
Quilting Sisters ~ Together, we do lunch and work on our art/quilt projects every Tuesday. I’m so grateful that finally, after living on this island for 8 years, I found local girlfriends. They enrich my life more than I can say.

Friends who invested in a rental property together
Slum Lords, Inc. ~ Well, we were actually really good landlords, but we got a chuckle out of calling ourselves “slum lords.” Four friends (Doug, Anne, Liz and me) back in 1982 bought a duplex together as an investment. The real investment was in our friendship. The duplex sold many years ago, but we still meet from time to time, our bond strengthened by the trust that comes with shared business and money experiences.

My Hungarian bead sister, Anna, and her kids
Anna and Jinghong ~ During my traveling abroad years, I was fortunate to acquire two sisters. Anna, my bead sister (pictured above with her kids), lives in Hungary. Among other things she learned English so we could talk and correspond. Jinghong, my soul sister, bless her heart, knew English so well when we met (Beijing, China, 1991) that she could have been a professional translator. Sensitive and expressive, she wrote beautiful long letters, all of which I still have. Now we communicate more often on the phone.

Many others have and do touch my life in a special way, including all of you blogging friends. Friendship and sisterhood are huge blessings!

My hands doing finger weaving
Hands and eyes ~ a pair of each to make art possible… Oh my goodness, what would I do with out them!

Robin, cycle rider, on her way to Jasper, 2006, photo by Robert Demar
Balance ~ Maybe it was years of dancing that gave me good balance? The blessing of it now is that (at age 64) I can ride my motorcycle! Here are pictures from our recent trip to the Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. What a delightful way to be in the world!

Beaded Blessings, improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead artist
Beads ~ Precious beyond their cost or merit, every little bead (and all my time spent with them) is a treasure, inspiration, and gift. Fabrics, fibers, tools, buttons and paint are right up there as well.

San Juan channel, photo by Robin Atkins
Home ~ Our lovely 5 acres in the middle of San Juan Island, Madrona trees, moss and wildflowers, deer; our sweet and funky little house; our island community; Mt. Baker and all the mountain majesty surrounding us; the beaches and ocean waves; eagles, fox, rabbits, orcas… These are riches beyond measure!

Hollie on the trail to our studio, photo by Robin Atkins
Hollie ~ Our delightful feline, Miss Hollie Three-Bell-Huntress, is a clown and born entertainer... How would we ever manage without a cat in the house to boss us around?

Elections ~ The fact that we can (and do) vote and this year’s election results are small blessings in the thorn of media propaganda (especially prior to elections).

This list could go on and on… but the turkey needs my attention. So adieu my good friends…

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving Day!