Sunday, November 09, 2008

November Bead Journal Project ~ Mom & Me

Wow! I've been reading the BJP blogs, catching up after my week in Minnesota with Mom ... I'm vividly impressed with all the creative expressions of our hearts!!!! This just gets better and better, don't you think?

Before departing for Minnesota on Nov. 1, I gave some thought to my Nov. BJP. Since I was visiting Mom, who is a real a sweetheart, and since this important trip has been on my mind for several months, it makes total sense that my journal page for Nov. should be about Mom (and a little about me too).

With that decision made, visions of photographs of Mom came to mind... also the image of a butterfly. Mom was a scientist at heart, she studied entomology (insects) and ornithology (birds) in college and graduate school. She doesn't get into what things symbolize as much as I do. Yet, she's always been drawn to butterflies.

So, I googled butterfly images to see what might inspire me. At first I was impressed with the fancy ones. But after skimming 20 or so pages of images, I found myself repeatedly noticing a plain little yellow butterfly with a single distinguishing spot on the upper wing.

dogface butterfly, female
As it turns out this beautiful creature ( Zerene eurydice, commonly known as the Dogface butterfly) is the California state insect. Mom was born and raised in California. Although I considered using the more dramatic male version (see below), the more subtle and shy female coloring seemed more appropriate for Mom.

dogface butterfly, male
OK, I thought... now what? How can I use this image AND the photos of Mom? A book!!! I decided to make a book on my page, with a beaded butterfly wing for the front cover and the background fabric of the page for the back "cover."

I drew the butterfly on interleaving paper, and basted it onto some yellow dupioni silk from my stash. I basted around the wing and the along the veins to give myself beading guidelines (see back and front below).

bead journal project, Robin Atkins, butterfly outline, back
bead journal project, Robin Atkins, basted guides for butterfly wing, front
Here is an example of one of the inside pages of the book. I used Photoshop to make the images into vignettes and collage them onto a partially screened version of the wing. Then I journaled in the yellow areas, writing little thoughts that came to mind as I looked at the images.

bead journal project, Robin Atkins, butterfly book page
Basted silk, beads, yellow embroidery floss and the wing pages traveled with me to MN. Mom was quite impressed that she was the subject of this month's BJP page, also delighted to see some images of herself that she hadn't seen in many years. Here are two of them that are included.

Mom and me, taken in 1943 when we lived in Palo Alto, CA.

baby Robin and Mom, 1943
Mom, taken in 2004.

Robin's Mom, Ferne Cook, 2004
While I was there, I worked on beading the wing for the cover. I got it finished the last day I was there, but only have the in-progress picture below.

bead journal project, Robin Atkins, beaded butterfly wing
My sister-in-law, Julie, said I should consider it done... She said the silk has a papery-like texture, similar to the appearance of a butterfly's wing. I agreed with her, but decided to try beading the entire wing, giving myself the option to undo it back to how it is shown above if I didn't like it. You will see my decision in the next post!

* * * * * *

You know I'm a bunny person, right? One of my two totem animals is the rabbit, right? Well, arriving at the Seattle airport a tad early on Nov. 1, I decided to do a little window shopping. Look what I found at Fireworks!!!!! Is he cute or what?!

bunny with sweater
bunny with sweater
* * * * * *

While in MN, Julie, Brenda, Terri and I got together one evening to bead. We had a whee!!!! Brenda brought her beautiful gate (September's piece) and was working on her October pathway. Terri has 5 (or maybe it's 6) of her "pages" started, some nearly completed. Like her Pirate book from last year, this year's piece will be a sort of "book." Julie was working on a free-form woven bracelet for a sale she's having next month, but brought her BJP work to show'n'tell. I'm totally in love with the way she visually described her experiences in Yellowstone National Park this fall in her September piece (see below).

bead journal project, Julie Cook, Yellowstone Impressions
* * * * * *

Mom's doing fairly well, especially considering that she'll be 92 years old in a couple of months. We braved Minnesota's chilly night to go to my brother's house to watch the election returns... and celebrated with champagne during President-elect Obama's speech!!! Mom still reads the newspaper every day and was much relieved to know there will be some changes in the years ahead.

Having read and appreciated Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, a year ago, I was convinced we needed him in the oval office. A couple of weeks ago I bought his first book, Dreams from My Father, which I've been reading during the past week. It feels like an amazing privilege to be watching our new president on TV while at the same time reading about his struggles to find himself, to identify his authentic place within race and other issues, during his youth. I believe he has the potential to be a great leader!

* * * * * *

Long travel day to get home yesterday... I flew from St. Paul to Seattle, took a shuttle to Boeing Field, and caught a puddle-jumper flight, which landed and took off in Oak Harbor and Orcas Island before finally arriving at San Juan Island, where I live. Ordinarily, I'd enjoy the extra flying time (over beautiful emerald islands), but yesterday was totally weird weather... high winds at certain altitudes, three levels of clouds (the lowest of which barely skimmed over the surface of the land and was extremely fast-moving). Some of the middle layer was busy dumping a load of rain, and once we saw the most brilliant rainbow.

view from small plane over Whidbey Island
However, if you know about flying small planes, you may be able to guess at what a nail-biter it was to be landing and taking off. Rock'n'roll, you say? Bounce, you say? Swerve to the side, you say? Yup! Took me an hour for each of the three landings to calm down after getting home. Had to put the cat on my lap... But, here I am, safe and sound!


  1. The butterfly will be beautiful!

    And, yes, I know all about small planes. My dad is a private pilot, and I spent many flights with him when I was a kid! He let me fly that plane all the time! :D

  2. Welcome Home Toto! I 'm loving the butterfly - and I don't think any baby has ever been cuter !

  3. Thanks for sharing your thought process on creating your November page. Nice tribute to your mom. bet you're glad to be home too.

  4. Your butterfly is beautiful and a lovely tribute to your Mom. Welcome home!

  5. I love your yellow butterfly! AND the photo of your mom. She looks wonderful! Thanks for showing the details on how you transferred the butterfly pattern to the fabric. That was really helpful for me! Glad you survived your rocking and rolling flights!

  6. I detest small planes any way. Poor you! I can only imagine and don't really want to do that.

    I'm liking your butterfly the way it is, but I can see where the other way might be just a good in a different way. You need to do what you think is right for it as I'm sure you know.

    I was afraid I'd lost all my photos, but luckily I'd put on my hard drive and it automatically backed them up! PTL! The Bunny is cute too!

  7. What a wonderful way to honor your Mom. The butterfly is perfect.

  8. What a wonderfully eventful week you've had!
    I love your november piece and am really looking forward to seeing it finished...
    (and I hope robert's back is getting better and that the surgery will leave him pain-free...we know how awfully depressing constant pain can be..)

  9. Robin this is so beautiful! I love the color of the silk you have chosen. What a beautiful tribute to your Mother and her life. You are so blessed to still have her with you. I cant wait to watch your progress. Its so beautiful and
    serene. You chose the perfect butterfly for her.

  10. Where to start commenting on a wonderful, giant post like that? Moreover, it's past bed-time after a strenuous day, but your post woke me up again.

    I am looking forward to seeing the finished front cover of your little Mom Book. Suspense! It is great to hear that your mom is well.

    What a nice airport-find that cuddly bunny is. Love the cardigan it wears.

    And another beading session with enthusiastic BJPers ... enviable!

    I was happy to read your lines about Barack Obama. One of the online dealers I buy books from sent me an offer of books written by him. I have not yet decided which one to get first. It is a pity that I cannot afford a signed copy, but never mind.

    Yes, there's nothing like a purring cat to soothe one's nerves. Mine isn't a great lap-sitter, but loves to drape around my shoulder from ear to ear, giving me a warm and witchy feeling.

    All the best,

  11. Anonymous9:54 PM

    Hi Robin,

    I love your butterfly page for your mother, what a lovely tribute to her. I started working on my November page with a new photo of me in a horn of plenty. So far it looks a bit rough but I usually enjoy each finished piece.

    You have inspired me to dig deep this year, in fact having my photo on each page is a challenge for me as I hate to see myself but not any more. I promise to love myself no matter how much I weigh.

    Beadily yours
    Susan Feldkamp

  12. Wonderful post, Robin! Your mom is as beautiful as that butterfly, too.

    Waaaaay back when I was in my early 20's, I loved to fly in small planes -- now I have to think twice about getting on any plane . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  13. Robin I loved your butterfly post. The photos especially were such a nice touch to an already beautifully beaded piece. I'm enjoying seeing how your beading process goes along. Photos are such a blessing to have of loved ones aren't they? Of course I guess they can be a curse too...especially in the 80's with all those hairdo's!! ;0)

  14. this is a very pretty page, Robin! I always love how you explain your thoughts so well in your beading...

  15. Love this page, Robin. I am a big fan of old photos and this is a great way to use them. It's a nice tribute to your Mom.

  16. As always, this is beautiful. I just love butterflies myself. They represent transformation to me and this is such a lovely tribute to you and your mom! I'm having so much fun watching everyone this year - thanks for doing all this. Hugs to you - Heidi

  17. Beautiful butterfly.Yellow is a very uplifting colour isn't it?
    I was browsing in a local(well, almost local...taken son back to his residential special school - he is autistic - and there is a new bead shop just 3 minutes away...) bead shop, and saw your book (One Bead at a Time )and snapped it up!! Truly inspirational.
    Anji in the UK

  18. Your blog took me through a full spectrum of emotions! I was happy, serene, sad (when I thought of your birth father dying and leaving his family), proud (of your beautiful mama and you), honored, and tickled with your purchase of your new rabbit.
    Welcome home!

  19. Robin,
    I can't wait to see how this page turns out, I love the idea of a book page and what a way to honor your Mom.

    Does the bunny have a name yet? Sure is a cutie, Teddy sends his love and hugs, Angie

  20. Robin!
    I just love all that you have shared about the evolution of your BJP for this month. Your Mom is so deserving as she created wonderful you!!
    We worked so very hard here in VA for Obama, and we were holding our breath as the returns came in. All of the doors that I knocked and the phone calls that I made and all of the new relationships that were forged were so worrht all of the effort. This is our new begining and we CAN"T STOP NOW!!!! Yes We Can!!
    Can't wait to see how you finish off your butterfly!
    Big Hugs!

  21. Robin awesome idea for the butterfly!!! A neat way to journal your Mom too.
    The small plane episode gave me chills, my 1st hubby was killed in small plane crash in the rockies.
    I watched Obama's 2004 Q & A book signing "Dreams of my Father" at Barnes & Nobel on TV the other night and feel as you do, he has a lot to give and is very "grounded" as to how & where the middle and lower class are struggling.
    Now I have to get my Oct block done today!!!

  22. Robin
    I love the butterfly. It is truly spectacular. I enjoy your work.

  23. Thank you Robin, the whole post is amazing. I enjoyed the different views of your page in progress and the old photos. I love old photos too. I also appreciate your comments on the election. That was a wonderfull night. I still feel it over a week later. I grew up in Chicago, so I enjoyed the scenes in Grant Park too.

    I look forward to seeing your page completed.

  24. Believe me it is even more beautiful in person. I am so honored to have seen it. Can't wait for our next beading session!

  25. That book is a terrific idea, it looks really good, and I love the soft coloured silks you have been using so far, they feel precious and as soft as a butterfly kiss.

  26. Thanks for sharing the way you developed this idea. I also appreciate being able to see the back before you started beading. Glad you had a good visit with your mother.

    This BJP is too much fun!
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  27. Erin H1:52 AM


    You are awesome.



Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!