Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bead Journal Project - Finishing Solution Found!

I watched a friend, Sondra Bayley, artist/photographer, handle my BJP "soul cards," gingerly trying to pick them up without rumpling the edges. I could tell she was concerned that her hands might not be perfectly clean, that she might get finger prints on them... She was clearly uncomfortable and so was I, not that I was worried about my pieces but that it cut into her enjoyment of them.

She asked how I intended to display them. Display them? Well, cards don't display very well... either they sit out on a table flat, and you can't see the backs... or... or what? She then spoke very strongly in favor of them as "art" and as such, she said, I needed to figure out a way to show them. She suggested framing each one separately.

Yes, I thought, you're right. But how? And what about the painted backs? So I took them to my studio and started playing around with grouping them. Three groups of four, but not in chronological order, looked good to me. Now what?

Traditional framing wouldn't work. I couldn't put a mat over my pieces because of the beaded picot edges. They would have to be glued to something. What? Not just plain old mat board...

Well, I love to paint decorative papers. And it was great fun to paint the papers I used for the backs of the cards. So why not try to paint papers as a background for each group of four?

That's what I did. And happy it makes me... happy painting and happy with how my pieces look on the painted papers. Whooohoooo! Now, what about the backs of the cards? No way to save them. I'd have to sand off the wax finish and some of the paint in order to glue them to the papers. But what I COULD do is to scan and print them. Yes, and glue the prints to the backing in the frame.

Voila! Here they are. You won't be able to see the painted papers very well unless you click the pictures to enlarge them. Hope you like them...

Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on orange, front
Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on orange, back

front and back, group 1

Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on rust, front
Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on rust, back

front and back, group 2

Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on green, front
Bead Journal Project, Robin Atkins, 4 on green, back

front and back, group 3

The groupings are by intuition, not logic. I just like them that way. There you have it! Finis!

By the way, I never, ever in the whole world thought I'd be framing something I'd painted. Never! (I guess we should never say "never," eh?) I only started painting a few years ago when I took a hand made book class and a painting class at ArtFest.

I was like a child... didn't know the first thing about paint, acrylics, brushes or any of it. Words like glaze and pounce were a mystery to me when applied to painting. But at the same time, I was like a child in Disneyland. And, though I was lost in the techniques department, I had a blast in the get-paint-on-the-paper department. Enough of the techniques stuck that I kept on working with it.

Several years later and you do not want to know how much painting stuff I've got crammed into my studio... or how MUCH I love it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bead Journal Project... If At First You Don't Succeed....

What to do with my 12 months - 12 pieces, each 4" x 6" and finished with the picot edge stich all around??? That was the question tormenting me for many months. If I had a dime for every idea that passed through my mind, I'd be a rich woman!

About 3 months ago, at a retreat with some beady friends, I finally decided to make my BJP pieces into soul cards, like tarot cards, with hard backs. I painted papers for the backs, rubber stamped each with the date and name of the piece, covered book board (heavy, dense cardboard) with the papers and glued my beadwork to the boards. Nice... or so I thought. Here are paired-pictures of each month's beading and painted/stamped back. All are click to enlarge.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
However... after getting them all finished, and showing them to a few friends, I just didn't feel good about them. Handling them rumpled the picot edges. And, I didn't like stacking them one on top of the other, crushing the textural elements on many of them.

So, in the spirit of "if at first you don't succeed..." I'm on to a new plan and the backs are going bye-bye. You'll see... next post!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bead Embroidery - May Bead Journal Project Finished!

Now I understand what some other Bead Journal Project members are saying about getting the blues when their May piece is finished. Yup... Actually, it's a mixed bag of emotions, because I'm also feeling lots of joy and satisfaction.

Speaking of joy, my May piece developed along those lines...

Bead Journal Project, fabrics for May
Here are the fabrics... I had recently bought 6 new fat quarters and these two were on the top of the pile, slightly off-set so I could see both of them. When I went to my stash to select fabric for May, there they were, right on top, calling me loudly.

I cut two pieces with irregular shapes from the multi-color leaf print, and one from the sun flower print. Without any concept of what I wanted to do for May, I just arranged the three fabric pieces in a pleasing way and stitched them together onto my stabilizer paper. I couched lengths of #8 pearl cotton over the seams, trimmed the extra fabric around the outside edges and selected some beads - ready to bead!

bead embroidery, Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project
Here's the finished piece! About 2/3 of the way through beading it, a name came to my mind and stuck - Climb Every Mountain! I love this piece as the last one of the year... great sentiment and full of hope and joy.

Yellow seed beads
I have to comment about the golden-yellow beads I used in this piece. The Czech and Japanese yellow beads (left) have an acid look to them, not a color I like very much. Yellow, in my opinion, is better when it's warm and glowing with friendliness (right). Only the French seed bead makers got it the way I like it. I understand they aren't making seed beads in France any more (boo-hoo). But you can still get back stock (like the ones pictured on the right above) from some suppliers. I recently bought some from Storm Cloud Beads in St. Paul, MN.

What now? Well, I think I'll go ahead and make a piece for June, July and August, just to keep in practice for when the 2008 BJP begins in September. And, what is really making me happy is my plan for displaying my pieces for 2007. More about that in the next post!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ten Years Ago...

book cover, Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman
I rarely do memes… yet always enjoy reading them. So, when Janel tagged me last week, it seemed to be about my turn. Janel, a knitter, yarn dyer and expert, just released her new book on knitting socks, pictured above… If you’re a knitter (or just smitten with color), you’ll love looking at this one. Ok, so here’s the meme…

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

1998 is certainly a year to be remembered! Head-over-heels, totally-bonkers, jump-up-and-down in LOVE, I floated through the entire year, not in the least troubled by selling my business (Beads Indeed) and packing up the cozy Seattle home I’d bought 24 years earlier.

I was 55 years old then and had never been married. Although a few special men had earlier crossed my path, I wasn’t ready to settle into a permanent relationship until I met Robert, who also had never previously tied the knot. But 10 years ago, I knew I’d met my future husband, as indeed I had. We married Jan. 12, 2001… Some things are worth waiting for… I know, because it just keeps getting better and better! Here he is... during a silly snow storm we had this April...

Robert, April snow storm, 2008
2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
  • I get about 15 legitimate email messages per day. One of my bad habits is to let them go for a few days, and then have to spend several hours getting caught up. That’s the situation today… so it's number 1 on my list.
  • Kits. Akkkkk! Can you imagine what it’s like to put together 150 kits? That’s what I do every time I teach at a conference… order supplies, print handouts, package beads and other materials for days... and days... and days. Alarmingly, just around the corner is the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach. So, today, getting started on kits is number 2 on my list. I'm making this public commitment right now... I WILL get the kits for at least one class ready today.
Geeeest, that’s enough for one day… I already made the bed, fed the cat and took a brisk 2-mile walk, for goodness sakes.

3. Snacks I enjoy.

This is a tricky question because I’m doing Weight Watchers (on-line). I’ve lost 12 pounds so far and have about 40 more to take off before reaching my goal. I’m a little afraid to mention this, because I don’t want to jinx it… oh well…

My sister-in-law has done VERY well on WW and is a tremendous inspiration to me. She is the one who taught me a very valuable dieting trick. “Snacks,” she says, “are important! But they must be managed.” She finds certain things that appeal to her for snacks and using the package information, she calculates how many of the item is equal to ONE point. Then she counts out the items and puts them in little zip bags to have available as one-point snacks. These are the ones I use:
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran Crackers, Multi-Grain. Yummmmy! Crunchy, a tad sweet, a tad salty, a little hint of graham, good fiber count, 9 crackers = one point!
  • Newman’s Own Pretzel Nuggets. Not so delicious as the crackers above, but nice for a change of pace, and I get 12 of them for one point!
  • Peeled baby carrots. Juicy, fresh and filling! I get 20 for one point!
Before WW, I used to snack on just about everything. Peanut butter, nuts and dried cranberries were my favorites. I still fit a few into my WW days.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire.

This one is impossible to answer. I simply can not wrap my mind around the concept of a billion dollars. I’ve always lived near the edge of poverty (by US standards), and am quite content to do so. I would hardly know what to do with a thousand dollars if it fell into my lap, let alone a million. Whoeeee… a billion? Ha!

5. Places I have lived.
  • Los Gatos, CA – born nearby in San Jose, CA.
  • Sutter Creek, CA – a sleepy little place back then, definitely NOT the tourist town it is today.
  • St. Paul, MN – moved there when I was 7 yrs old, moved away 20 years later.
  • Seattle, WA – love at first sight, lived on a house boat for several years, then an apartment, then bought a little bungalow home in Ballard, no thought of ever moving again until I met Robert and moved to the island to be with him.
  • San Juan Island, WA – close to paradise in every way except high cost of living.
Places I could live? I love Hungary and the Hungarian culture! I would be happy living there, except for the heat in the summer, which is what ultimately drove me away from MN. Robert and I have thought about where we might move (especially every time the price of a ferry ticket to the mainland goes up), but nothing we’ve seen has the appeal of this beautiful island.

6. Peeps I want to know more about.

I'm tagging the above cyber-friends for this meme and hoping you’ll be willing to do it. By the way, “doing it” means you get to answer the same 6 questions as I have, and then tag 5 or 6 more people. Of course, you don’t have to do it. But if you do, please let me know so I can be an appreciative reader!