Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Auditioning Painted Papers For Jude's Book ~

Continuing the theme of posts from the past few days... scenes from Beads, Books & Paint, a 4-day workshop I taught at Valley Ridge Art Studio in southwest Wisconsin.

Today we'll take a look at Jude's splendid work. Here we are "auditioning" her painted papers, helping her make decisions about which sheet to use for the cover of her book and where to place her beadwork.

Jude had never done bead embroidery before, but bravely started right out on the piece for her book, practicing and learning the stitches as she went along. I admire that! And, it turned out very well, don't you think?

Her painted papers are really lovely too, utilizing complimentary colors in a pleasing way. Below you can see Jude's book cover and five signatures, ready to be bound together, the last step in the process.

Here she looks pretty pleased with her finished book. No wonder... it's a beauty!

Another Beautiful Beaded Book ~

And more yet to come! This one is by Cathy of Wisconsin, student in my class at Valley Ridge Art Studio (see previous posts). Cathy's improvisational beadwork began to suggest a garden. Most of her painting also reminded her of plants and flowers, and so it became the theme of her book.

I love Cathy's color choices... bold and yet harmonizing. Many of us painted with analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel), which is a formula that nearly always works well. Cathy's colors are all over the color wheel and include both bright and soft combinations. In my opinion, what makes these papers look so nice together is partly that they are all similar in value (lightness <> darkness). The garden theme helps to relate them as well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kathy's Bead Embroidery ~

This is the first bead embroidery Kathy's ever done. Pretty nice, huh!

Please note: this is a PS to the previous post. For some reason I couldn't get the picture to upload to it... so decided to make a second post for the day. To find out who Kathy is and what this is all about, read on...
Kathy's Beaded Book ~

This happy student is Kathy Malkasian, director of the Valley Ridge Art Studio (see previous post). Despite having to take care of my teaching needs, feeding the whole class fancy lunch every day and hosting me in the evenings, Kathy still managed to finish her book in great style!

Here you can see two parts of the process... painting and book binding. Each of us also completed a small piece of improvisational bead embroidery to inset into the covers of our books.

Before completing the binding, I took a picture of the 5 or 6 signatures (sections of papers) and the cover of each student's book. Kathy's painted papers are rich, almost leather like, with many layers of acrylic paint, glazed to heighten the subtle quality. Each signature cover encloses 5 folded blank sheets with torn edges.

The resulting book is classy, indeed! I hope Kathy will enjoy journaling in her lovely book.

Tip ~ A little trick we used on Kathy's book may be useful to some of you. She did her bead embroidery on a natural muslin. Before insetting into her book, she temporarily placed it in position on the cover and noticed that the very light colored fabric showed around the edges. The high contrast was noticeable and not attractive. Here's the trick! We took a marking pen, permanent bronze, and colored the fabric next to the beadwork. After that, it virtually disappeared because it blended with the painted colors of the cover paper. I have also used acrylic paint, slightly watered down, to accomplish this same magic trick.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Beads & Books at Valley Ridge Art Studio ~
If you ever want to give yourself a really significant gift, take a class at Valley Ridge Art Studio! Located in southwest Wisconsin on a 120-acre farm, the spacious, well-lit studio is an instructor's dream place. Director, Kathy Malkasian, the gracious and energizing hostess, offers workshops from May through October.

A couple of years ago, an artist friend, Lynne Perrella, told me, "You've got to teach there. It is a fabulous place to teach." Fortunately I took her advice to heart, because she was right! Everything about it contributed to the wonderful experience we had there last week... small class (only ten students!), beautiful weather (including a sumptuous scarlet sunset behind the pine grove one evening), delicious lunches (with totally decadant desserts!), and all the working space we needed (everyone had their very own table).

Over the next couple of posts, I'm going to show you some of the wonderful books, beadwork and painting my talented students did during their four days at Valley Ridge. But today I just want to share some pictures that show what a lovely place it is. The last picture is a teaser - nine students holding their completed books! You'll see details in the next few days.

The top picture shows the farm house, where I was priviledged to sleep in a cozy room on the second floor with a home made quilt to keep me toasty warm even though I had the windows open. One of my windows looked out over the garden (from where I took the picture).

The house has a relaxed, homey feel to it, just as you'd expect of a well-kept farm home. Depending on the temperature, we lunched around the large family dining table, or at one of two picnic tables on the screen poarch, or out on the deck, where the sweet perfume of the old lilac tree enchanted us. From either the deck or poarch, we all enjoyed the view across the valley and ridge to the farm buildings east of us.

Below is a picture of the studio where we beaded, painted, and made our books. Many windows and good overhead lighting make it easy to work. No eye strain for us, even though we worked into the evenings!

One student had to leave at lunch time on the fourth day of class, and didn't complete the binding on her book. Everyone else finished! I'm so proud of them! Look for detail pictures of their work in the next few days.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bead Embroidery Projects ~

What beads to bring? That is the question. Everytime I travel this question plagues me. I want to bring all of them... all of my beads and all of my projects, which of course would require a moving van or two, especially if I were to dig out some of the really old projects. In my case, really old projects (ROPs) date back to 1988. There's the woven necklace I started in Helen Bane's class, and a netted & peyote stitch collar I was going to make for my sister to wear for her wedding. Both have potential... but they got a little boring, and I confess to abandoning them to a large box labeled "unfinished beadwork" when I moved 8 years ago. There are others as well, stashed in drawers and storage tubs.

Nothing new there, right? You probably have a few ROPs too. But here's the interesting thing: not a single one of my ROPs is bead embroidery. I always finish bead embroidery projects! Why? Maybe because I work improvisationally, without a plan, and therefore don't get bored. I never know where a piece is going, sometimes not even what it will be. Maybe because bead embroidery is such a meditative process. Maybe because it's a way for my heart to send messages to the rest of me, like journaling, revealing and honoring my most honest self.

Light flashing: I don't really want to bring all my beads and projects. The ROPs can stay where they are, maybe forever. They've served their purpose and taught their lessons. Besides, if I can't do art the way I want, why do it at all?

Ok. I'll just take a bead embroidery project or two. The answer to the question, "what beads to bring?" just got a whole lot easier. Take a squint at my fabric stash, pick two or three pieces that appeal to me at the moment. Do the same thing with my beads. Select only the ones that really shout at me. Don't think if they go together. Don't plan. Just play. Gather the shouters, enough to fill a pint-sized zip-lock bag. A spool of Nymo D, probably purple, because I'm in a purple mood... or, maybe red. A circular thread cutter. Not so difficult afterall... guess I'll cancel the moving vans.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Beads, Books & Paint!

I should be getting packed. Yet with Holly, Three-Bell Huntress on my lap, what is there to do but to start playing around with Google. Found this Blog site, and decided what the hey?!!! Might as well give it a try.

Improvisational, as is my style. Just do it. Don't think too much. My blog doesn't have to be perfect. My posts do not have to be perfect. I do not have to be perfect. Hey, you do not have to be perfect either. Whew! That's a relief.

Learned this lesson from Mary Oliver, who is probably the world's most wonderful poet, in her poem called "Wild Geese." I bet if you google it, you'll find it. The first line reads: "You do not have to be good." That one line has changed my life, totally, for the better!

Back to the subject of this post, I'm departing Monday morning for St. Paul, MN (town where I was raised, and where my parents and two brothers still live), and from there to Wisconsin... to be exact, that's Muscoda, WI... in the southwest corner of the state. I can't wait to drive there, as I haven't driven through the Midwest for ages. There, tucked into rural farmland, is an art school, specializing in book arts. Whooooopeeeeee! And there I will be priviledged to teach Beads, Books & Paint! All of my totally favorite things in life! Working shoulder to shoulder with students, playing with beads and paint and making books for four whole days (and nights)! FUN!

Are you the spur of the moment type? Want to join us? There are still a couple of openings...

OK, guess that's enough for this post. As I said... I really do need to get packing...

Until next time... beady blessings!