Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bead Journal Project for January ~ Finished!

With a couple of unexpected free hours this morning, I finished January's BJP page! Here's a peek...

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project for January, detail
Dancing! I've always loved it... I love to dance... to watch others dance... to imagine and dream dancing... I love all types of dance!!! I also love that dancing is an obvious metaphor for love and partnering relationships. So, of course, I've hoarded a set of copper, dance-figure charms forever.... for so long that I don't even recall where or how I got them.

I photographed some of these charms on a picture of the aurora borealis from a wonderful photography book called Northern Lights. (BTW, this book is a great source for inspiration for beading and stitching designs/colors.) Have any of you ever seen any charms like these before? Do you have similar charms (in different dance positions) to trade for duplicates in my stash?

copper charms, dance figures
Back to beading... On the day I started to work on January's BJP, I looked through some of my charm stash for an idea. Voila!!!! There they were, my long-hoarded dancing charms, just waiting to be used... What to do with them? I don't know, what about a moon? Dancing in the moon light... hmmm, hmmmm... yes! With that, the page instantly fell into place... I would have a waxing, full and waining moon. Here is the finished page.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project for January
What does it say? I'm really unsure. Notice that the man and the woman are facing each other in the waxing moon in the lower right. They are tight together in the full moon. In the waining moon, they are apart again, this time not facing each other, but still sharing the light of the moon in their dance. One possible name for this piece is Lunar Marriage Dance... Any other suggestions?

On one level of meaning, the man is my husband, Robert, and I am the woman. What does this say about our relationship right now in January of 2009? Is it about our evolving path as a couple? Does it suggest our partnership is diminishing? Does it speak to the cyclical nature of a couple's interactions? Does it suggest a maturing of our partnership to the point where we are able to be together, yet be our own persons at the same time?

I don't know what it means. The only thing I do know is this... Today, as I stitched the last bead and looked at it, I had a sense that the dance between us is good and that it passes naturally through phases, yet remains and will continue to remain a good dance. So, today I'm optimistic.

* * * * * * * * *
A couple of days ago, I posted here about the hardware removed from Robert's back. In the comments section, a couple of you mentioned using all or some of it in a bead embroidery piece. While that's a very intriguing idea, I think it won't happen for a while. Seems Robert claims it for himself! However, I have started a bead embroidery piece that will be for him... maybe for that he'll give up some of his infamous hardware.

* * * * * * * * *
I'm trying to think of ways to promote my books, especially the most recent one, Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery. Can you think of any way to help me? I'd like to get away from retail sales and increase wholesale orders to distributors. Right now my primary distributor has been very, very quiet.

Robert and I tried Amazon with our book, Nautical Highways. It did not go well. Maybe, however, I should look to them to sell my books (with links to Amazon on my website book descriptions). What do you think?

Certainly the slow sales must be related to the sagging economy. Two of the bead shops in my general area have gone out of business in the past 6 months. (Yikes!) Yet, one would almost think that the economy would drive more people into beading...

OK, I'm not complaining here... simply looking for any help I can get!


  1. First of all Robin, I love your page. Maybe it has no meaning. Maybe you just saw the charms and things just fell into place and you had an enjoyable beading time!

    Anyway, its great and so are the charms.

    The first place I go to buy books is Amazon, and usually buy a couple different ones at a time.

    One of the 3 bead stores in the South Bend area closed. I am not sure, maybe another one also that I don't shop at. Anyway, the one that closed mentioned that if everyone on her e-mail address spent just $5 to $10 a month in the shop, she could have stayed open. Our unemployment rate here is about 11%, so closings are inevitable. I sure hope the remaining shop can make it, but its not the seed bead variety shop.

    Good luck marketing your book. I give you a plug everywhere I can.

  2. I dont know about the book sales aspect of your post. I know myself, i have told anyone who will listen about your Heart to Hands bead Embroidery book because i think its fantastic! I would think that with all of us BJP participants out there speaking of your praises it should help sales somewhat!
    Love your newest page! I think it does speak of the many phases a relationship goes through very beautifully! Sometimes its close, sometimes far apart, sometimes just in between and comfortable. Much like the waxing and waning of the moon cycles. I dont know, but I love it! Its very simple and beautiful and uncomplicated.

  3. This page is wonderful no matter what it means -- just makes me smile to look at it!

    You are going to laugh at me, but every month I print out an order form for your books, then it promptly gets buried under my projects.

    Tonight that order is getting filled out!!!

    Kathy V in NM

    (have you sent a flyer or an email flyer to bead shops for your books?)

  4. To Carol ~ Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. I buy from Amazon too... Guess it's the way I need to go. Also thanks for the promotion you do. Sorry you've lost your local seed bead shop...Ouch, that hurts.

    To Tracey ~ It is a simple, uncomplicated-seeming page, isn't it?! Funny how it seems that way, yet to me it's also full of unanswered questions and subtle implications. I like it too. Thanks for your help in promoting my book... I've seen and appreciated your posts.

    To Kathy ~ I'm so glad it makes you smile... me too. I'm keepin' an eye out for your order ;>}

    Robin A.

  5. Hi ya Robin-Great page!

    I think that your page means (at least what I am sensing) is that like the figures depicted against the moon, it's like with any loving marriage or relationship. Sometimes you feel extremely close, sometimes you just have to walk away from each other for a moment (or many moments!!!) because everyone has those nasty little habits that annoy! Maybe your husband stepped on your toe one too many times in that dance!!!! You need to go nurse your sore and throbbing toes...
    As for the book selling, me too, I have been touting your books all I can, they are all such a great source of inspiration.
    I too buy most of my books from Amazon, but are there "inspirational" book stores out there in the world too? What about beading sites, or the beading mags? A person hates to spend money (on advertising) to make money, but???? A nice ad in a mag about how INSPIRING your books are?
    Good luck with this, but I believe all the lagging sales in EVERYTHING are due to the economy. I know that I promptly put "want" behind "need" for everything these days.
    whew! long comment! Thank you to my cup of coffee! :)

  6. LOVE THE PAGE! Those dancing charms are just the cat's pajamas. I had to laugh about the comment on Robert's hardware as when I saw those that was the first thing I thought of too.

    Have you tried selling your book wholesale to places like Joggles or Doll Maker's Journey. I sold some of our Guild's doll pattern books to them about 6 months ago, but you are right. With our economy being so sluggish, I think even they are having problems as I haven't gotten any calls from them wanting more.

    Have you tried putting in ads in the magazines? I know that Doll Crafter is always looking for ads. I'm thinking of putting one in just for my availability to teach. Or the bead magazines. I know it cost, but it might be worth your while even once to get noticed.

    Good luck, and I'm sending good thoughts for Robert's quick recovery.


  7. I simply like your page for what it is, the flow, the energy, the simplicity. It feels good.

    I think contacting Barbara at Joggles is a great idea from Dot. She sends out a weekly newsletter.

    Also, if you made a button like the one we have for BJP that we could put on our blogs, it could direct people to your website for the book. Lots of us mention your book...

    I hope Robert is healing well.

  8. I love the dancing figures-a perfect page. Relationships do evolve.
    I usually check Amazon for books-a lot of people do.

  9. It's beautiful, strong, simple & complex. I think you will eventually know what the meaning is for you and where this piece is moving you to. I like that this relationship is moving in graceful, mysterious ways. Interesting that you decided to use these treasured charms now and that you placed them in the sky and not on the ground. I love your work Robin and your internal seeking.

  10. It's a lovely page, whatever the meaning. I can see why you hoarded those charms of the dancers.

    A technical question: Did you use the buttonhole stitch to hide the attachment of the charms? Whatever the method, the dancers look like they are just there. Very cool!

    Best wishes to Robert. Keep on dancing!
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  11. Those charms are so cute, and you put them to such good use in your January page. The arrangement of dancers and moon phases does provide food for thought. It also tells me that you must be seeing the waxing and waining moon in a different position in your part of the world. To me here, the waxing moon is like ), and the waining like (. Near the equator, the moon is floating around in different positions again.

    Is Robert going to keep the hardware as souvenir, or will he use it for repairs around the house? Silly question, I know.

    I do think that Amazon would be a good place to help selling your new book, and your books in general. The bonus with Amazon, as I see it, is that, once you have purchased a book about beading or embroidery or similar, they continue to offer books and inform of new publications covering those fields. This is done by e-mails to clients. Maybe the Ferry Book, though I am sure it is beautiful and interesting, is difficult to sell because the theme is quite exotic and supposedly only appealing to a limited circle of readers.

    Oh dear, beadshops going out of business - what a nightmare!


  12. I love your page and to me it definitely refers to the cyclical nature of long-term relationships...the moon aspect says to me it's a romantic relationship, as does the dancing couple, but they also remind me strongly of the "dance" we do daily with each other...sometimes very intimate and close, other times more independent and busy about our separate interests.
    About the book...I stopped by shipwreck on our way home yesterday specifically to see if they had your book and they did not...I would have loved to have bought a copy there. I'm also wondering if you've contacted helby?...since I have a friend with a wholesale account, I sometimes buy books from them too.
    And last, although this won't help you increase your wholesale orders, I'd suggest a shop on etsy just for your books and any beads/supplies you have that you might want to sell occasionally. You have a built-in customer base here with your blog and website...why not add the ability to order online? Maybe both amazon and etsy?

  13. Anonymous10:30 AM

    Sad to say but we had one bead shop shut down the first of this year. As a previous post said, need certainly trumps want in all my buying habits now.

    I highly recommend a link from your site to Amazon. Several books in my personal library were purchased through a blog link.

    Good luck. I too am a self-supporting artist and we are in for rocky financial times ahead. But just think, that gives us more time to create just for the sake of creating! A blessed silver lining, wouldn't you say?

  14. Oh Robin I just love this lunear dance and if it was me I'd simply name it "LOL" as that's what I see of the moons. Just lovely!!! I too want to kick up my heels.

    I also love the charms on the norther lights background too.

  15. To All ~ Yes, I think your encouragement about Amazon is a good push for me, although the business of them only ordering one or two at a time (and I'm eating the postage because that's the way they do it) is the pits! Plus they pay so little per book (with their take-it-or-leave-it policy), that I make only a dollar or so on each sale. Still... it's a sale!

    Yes, I sell through Helby (for years they've been my primary-and-fabulous distributor). I also sell direct to a couple of bead shops, Doll Maker's Journey and a few other on-line retailers.

    I'm going to re-read (& print out) all of your suggestions again... I will seriously consider each of them. Thank you so much!

    Robin A.

  16. This was such a thought-provoking post.

    Hmmm. I think you can come up with a really beautiful name for this piece. Here are some thoughts I have from looking at your work... The light of the moon is so different from the light of the sun; plus the moon is always visible whereas the sun is not. The sun has typically been masculine and the moon feminine. The moon controls the tides. I believe that marriage is a dance and sometimes our partner makes us soar and twirl and feel like we can do anything...other times our partner may drag us down and we don't dance beautifully at all -- or do we? I believe that the fact that we continue to dance is a testament to US as a couple and therefore, it is beautiful (even though it doesn't always feel that way at the time). No matter what, we will dance. After a lifetime of that, of dancing through so many moons, you no longer notice the dance and you only see the couple -- and the beauty of the couple who has continued to stay together. How many times do we see an older couple married some fifty years at a wedding dancing together and remark how wonderful they look? We NEVER notice their dance -- only that they choose to continue to dance. The couple and their dance are constant, like the moon, as life waxes and wanes.

    I believe too that a relationship starts out in a more masculine way and over time becomes more feminine. More emphasis on constancy, nurturing, and yes, even caregiving, as we mature and age and grow to understand what is really important.

    There's an innate happiness to your pieces lately that I didn't notice as much in last year's work. Hmmmm....

    OK, one last thing if you haven't fallen asleep reading this...

    I agree with the folks about Joggles...but I'm thinking you should propose doing an online course there. YOu'd be great at that, the class would drive some purchases and Joggles would be a great distributor for your books. I think your class would lend itself to an online format very nicely and the forums that Barbara uses are a great place for students/teacher to post work and progress, answer questions, etc...

    Ok, I'm done....Love, Susan

  17. Anonymous4:46 PM

    Simply wonderful Robin and to be honest, think you are over thinking on the meaning, like we do with life and love a lot of the time. I saw, I enjoyed and fell in love with it instantly.

  18. If there is one thing I'm not good at (and there are some!) it is merchandizing. I think it is always good to have a story about a piece, but I really don't think each one has to have the story be obvious. The more etherial the more possibilities.

  19. To Jacqui and Mary ~ I like and agree with your comment about not over-working the meaning/story thing... Thanks!

    To Susan ~ Very intriguing comment... Definitely food for thought... especially the part about relationships becoming more feminine as time goes by. Thanks!

    Robin A.

  20. Robin, Your "dancing page" is just great...and so original. Hope Robert is still doing well...and I share your thoughts on inauguration day...it was a wonderful day...I'm glad the surgery went well too!
    And, in regard to your comments today...yes, it is sweet that my daughter liked the colors....of course, orange IS her favorite! You take care. Pat

    PS. Wish I had some good advice for you concerning your beading business. Unfortunately, I am not all that good at those kind of things, so have nothing constructive for you. Hang in there seems to be my watchwords these days!

  21. To Marty S ~ To answer your question about attaching the charms. Using a thread that matched the background fabric, I stiched from the center of the loop to the outside of the loop over and over again, each time moving further around the loop until it was completely covered with thread. The threads show more when you look at the real piece than they do in the pictures.

    Robin A.

  22. I love this piece Robin. I do think that couples married or not do a dance in their relationship. Sometimes we are side by side, sometimes different rooms, sometimes different planets...eventually we get close together again. How big are the charms? They are delightful.Julie C

  23. Hi Robin! This is a great page - Lunar Dance. I like the cyclical nature that you mentioned about marriages going with the flow and changing all along the way. I thik it's beautiful.

    I know that I use Amazon a lot, too. I've mentioned it to all the people I know and showed them all. I'll look around for more places.

    Take care.........

  24. Robin just today able to read blogs and appreciate your kind thoughts about my recent and current eye problems. Had to have more laser work done yesterday. Okay Enough!!
    I love your dancing moon page - it has a quiet quality to it and a joy. It is a brilliant idea. It is wonderful to see all the beautiful work that is being done and thank you for inspiring us all.
    My plans are to order your book,I believe Pat has ordered it recently and is encouraging our group that it is a must have.
    Best wishes

  25. Anonymous10:15 AM


    You only net about a dollar from each Amazon sale? Ugh! I think I'm going to quit buying books on Amazon, I can't stomach knowing the authors get such a pittance! I don't think it's worth getting out of my pajamas to make a dollar on a sale! It's true that exposure is important, but at what cost?

    You would do much better on eBay, even if you sold fewer books. If you need some help getting going on eBay, just let me know, I'll walk you through it.

    Also Etsy would be a choice for you.

    You might consider using a cheaper shipping rate and packaging method, and passing those savings along to the customer. I wrap your books in a layer of bubble wrap, and slip them into a 9x12" clasp envelope, reinforce the corners with a bit of packing tape. (If you buy those supplies in bulk they are cheap.) Then, I ship via 1st Class, it's under $3.00. I think Media rate would be even cheaper. I've had feedback that the books arrive in pristine condition with this treatment.

    I was carrying your Beaded Treasures on eBay, but the winning bid price started sliding down too much. The books need to be at a set Buy-It-Now price, or in an eBay store (which has lower seller fees.) Also, using PayPal, which has those annoying fees, will help with sales, even on your website. I know you don't like that system, but the public is now accustomed to "instant-click" buying. Rather than give the whole store away to Amazon, I'd try some of these less stinky options first.

    I'm wary of magazine advertising, it's expensive. BUT, magazine editors are always looking for articles, instructive articles with good step-by-step illustrations (they will do the artwork if you need line drawings) or photos. Then, rather than accepting the couple hundred dollars they pay for an article, you can get free advertising, plus a link to your website on your article.

    You don't have to write articles that cover a huge scope, just a single, small project or technique. Likely you can lift ideas from your books and alter them slightly, though I'd be sure to check with the publisher on this...you may need to provide projects that have not been previously published, but certainly the techniques can be re-introduced in a fashion that will satisfy their structure.

    Readers will be much more likely to notice you from an article than an advertisement. Also, an article gives you a wide platform to appeal to the heart of a reader, and you have so much great stuff to share!

    One venue for advertising that might be worth investigating is a lampworker's forum called Lampwork Etc. The ads on LE are $10 a month, I think, and there is a rotating banner that will link to your website, as well as a listing of advertisers. Let me know if you need some help finding the site.

    I didn't address your great beaded piece, but I've hogged your blog for long enough!

    Chin Up, we'll all get through this!

    Terri Budrow-Nelson

  26. Anonymous12:47 PM

    Robin, I don't know where you can buy charms but I traced some figures onto PMC sheet and cut them out and fired them. There are bead shops offering firings and some independents also. You can make nice, inexpensive figures out of shrinky-dink plastic also.

    The $1 thing about Amazon makes me sick too.


  27. Oh what cute charms and what an utterly lovely page ! It's very different from what you usually do but it's full of energy and love.

    A few weeks ago, I browsed through a book called "We Shall Never Stop Dancing". This phrase was written on a wall in Jerusalem after a terror attack. The book was about relationships. How they evolve etc...

    Also I am listening now to a tape by Clarissa Pinkola Estes on relationships ("How to love a woman"). She insists on the cyclic nature of life, and love. I think the way you use the phases of the moon is very profound.

  28. Beautiful page Robin.
    You always come up with such unique beads/charms/buttons.

    I also liked Susan's description of relationships starting masculine and ending feminine. I have never had a relationship that lasted long enough to find out!

    Book idea - have you thought of writing a press release, sending it to different magazines, local newspapers/mags. Even if they don't do a story about the book, they might do one about you!

  29. I like your page Robin. It makes me feel like I do in my marriage. It has it's flirting moments, together moments and leave me alone ones but it looks like a happy page overall.

    I buy my books from Amazon. I knew authors didn't get a huge amount from each sale but didn't realize it was so very little. I don't know where else to tell you to sell your books except as others have mentioned. I shop Etsy before ebay but it's supposed to be handmade goods and I don't know if your book qualifies for that. I sure wish you the best of luck and I would gladly put your web page or book button on my blogs (one of which is not mainly BJP so it might reach different people).

  30. My son works for Amazon (as a programmer) so I do feel I need to stick up for them a little.
    Even if you only get $1.00 per book, the potentially huge increase in volume in sales could very well make up for that...

    Love the Joggles teaching idea for you, and the suggestion to write more articles for magazines.
    I'd love to have you contribute something for the next issue of CQMagOnline. We don't pay for articles, but our "sponsor the issue" rates are very cheap...you could combine an article that offers a beading technique that could be used for CQ, help sponsor that issue, and generate some sales and good will that way....

    Your January BJP gives a big and lovely perspective on marriage...and strikes me too (along with Susan) as hopeful and ultimately happy.
    It's our 28th anniversary today...and I feel hopeful and happy too. ;-)

  31. Robin, Seeing your awesome dancing under the moon scene reminds me of my wedding night 5 years ago (in April)and how wonderful and happy that new beginning was... we've been dancing ever since.

    I belong to a Quilting Forum where we are always talking about various ways to embellish. Lately, the ladies have been going crazy about anything that has to do with beads. I hope you don't mind but I gave them your link to check out your books & blog as I know they will love them.... as soon as I find my wallet and CC under this mess of a desk I will be ordering your newst. Thank you for all the beautiful inspiration you give and share. Being new to the beading world I would love to see you offer classes on line!

  32. Very different and always beautiful. It's so dynamic that I hear the music!
    So, about your books, it's so easy to buy from Amazon or Marketplace..because shipping is often free or cheap. But the first reason for me is that it's easy to pay with card.I would love to buy one of your books but I don't know how to pay it.

  33. Robin - this is so cool!!! I love your interpretation of it, the evolving of a relationship. This is so creative, beautiful work! Thank you so much for your kind comments on my Jan. bjp! :) Marva


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!