Friday, October 30, 2009

Beading in Minnesota!

knitted pumpkins by Pam Ehlers Stec
Short on blogging time this month... Just returned to the soggy Northwest after 8 days of visiting my Mom, family and Minnesota bead friends. Thought you might like to see a few pictures....

The picture at the top of the post is a group of hand knitted pumpkins and one gourd by Pam Ehlers Stec. Pam is a member of the Bead Journal Project (08-09) and planning on joining again in 2010.

Minnesota bead sisters!
Pam, Julie (my sister-in-law), Brenda B (our BJP web mistress) and I got together at Julie's for an evening of beading and show'n'tell a week ago Thursday.... much ooooohing, talking, laughing and even a little progress beading. Then Sunday we all went to the Bead Bazaar sponsored by the Upper Midwest Bead Society. Whaaaa-hooooo! That was way fun too! More? You bet! Monday afternoon we were joined by Carmen (who we HOPE will join the BJP next year) and had a second bead-a-thon at Pam's house. Way to make it hard for me to go home, girl friends!

Pam's home was filled with beautiful quilts, dolls, beadwork and other handmade art. OMG... I couldn't settle down to bead until I had looked at and fondled every piece. She's so multi-talented! Here are a few things I photographed...

bead journal project pieces by Pam Ehlers Stec
Above are Pam's framed BJP pieces for this year. You can see them individually by scrolling down the posts on her blog, here.

wall quilt by Pam Ehlers Stec, thistles
This is a beautiful pieced and quilted, batik wall-hanging. I love the way these thistles look!

wall quilt by Pam Ehlers Stec
This is a wonderful wall-quilt... warm, compelling, exciting!

crazy quilt block by Pam Ehlers Stec, wool, thread and silk ribbon embroidery, in progress
This is what Pam was working on... a hand-dyed wool, crazy-quilt block. I'm in love with it! She offered to take off the little papers that say "lavender, parsley, holly-hocks and queen Ann's lace." But I think they're sweet and so said she should leave them on for the photo.

crazy quilt block by Pam Ehlers Stec, wool, thread and silk ribbon embroidery, detail
Here's a detail that shows her skills in thread and silk-ribbon embroidery! I hope she tells me first if she ever decides to sell this piece!

Brenda B completed both years of the BJP and is signed up for another year! You can see her pieces here and here. Once again, it's clear that pictures never do justice to the work! I am so thrilled to have been able to see and touch each of her 24 pages!

house that Dr. Seuss built, beaded by Brenda Brousseau
house that Dr. Seuss built, detail, beaded by Brenda Brousseau
I was also fortunate to see and fondle the piece above, The House that Seuss Built, created by Brenda for The Beaded Book - a juried competition sponsored by Beadwork Magazine!!!! She won second place! Check out this link for professional pictures of the winning pieces, including Brenda's!!! You can also see some good pictures on Brenda's website, here. The beads on this Seussian structure are are stitched, not glued... more than 1,000 hours!!!

bead embroidery by Carmen, Autobiography in Four Hearts
And then, there's Carmen, who is just starting to bead, with some guidance from Pam... Here are her first four pieces. These beaded hearts are autobiographical, telling of important transitions in her life.

bead embroidery by Carmen, Pure
This is Pure.

bead embroidery by Carmen, Broken
This is Broken.

bead embroidery by Carmen, Angry
This one is Angry.

bead embroidery by Carmen, Content
And the fourth is Content.

I'm quite impressed with Carmen's work and hope she will join the 2010 BJP!!!

You'd think from the above that all I did was bead, right? Nope, I spent a lot of quality time with my Mom and some with my two brothers and their families. Mom has been in an assisted living place for six years. But recently she's fallen repeatedly. The PT team says she's too weak to live on her own. So we've moved her to a nursing home.

I dreaded seeing her there because of the typical stereotype of such facilities. However, this one totally exceeded my expectations and Mom seems very comfortable there, more happy than she's been for quite a while. She's almost 93! Here she is... Ferne, my sweet, wonderful Mom!!!

Robin's Mom, Ferne
* * * * *
Happy Halloween, everyone!

Matt's cat, Lucy
This is Lucy! She rules the roost at Matt's house (my brother). An exceptional Halloween kitty, wouldn't you say?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun in Phoenix!

Saguaro cactus, Phoenix, AZ
October 1-8 in Phoenix... What could be more different than where I live? To leave our peaceful little island, now slipping into the wet season, and fly to Phoenix, where I had to dig out the sunscreen and watch for rattle snakes, was certainly a big change for me!

Friday Harbor, WA <> Phoenix, AZ
coastal island <> inland desert
highs in the 50s <> highs in the 90s
kinda soggy <> parched, dry
mostly cloudy <> clear blue skies
hilly <> flat
surrounded by ocean <> ringed by mountains
peaceful rural roads <> energetic city traffic
abundant evergreens <> sparse Saguaro cactus
talented beaders <> talented beaders
fun people <> fun people
alas, not even one bead shop <> Bead Museum AND shops

The last three are the good news for me! Although I missed Robert and our cat, I got to see friends Claudia, Patricia and Roger. And the big plus was my wonderful students, who really seemed to enjoy making beaded buttons and learning/practicing sewing beads on fabric improvisationally!

beaded sneaker by Teri Greeves, Native American bead artist
Beaded sneaker by Native American artist, Teri Greeves.

Bad news... I left my camera on the bed in my hotel the day I taught at the Bead Museum in Glendale (fun area in Phoenix!!!) so I don't have any pictures to show you from there. So please, just write this in BOLD on your mind's hard drive:
If you are ever in Phoenix, do not pass go or collect $200... instead, go directly to the Bead Museum and plan to spend some time being totally awed by the collection, display, library and shop!!!
OMG! I knew it was going to be good... but wasn't prepared for how extensive it is! Their website does not do it justice at all. And take some extra cash, because the museum shop is awesome as well!

bougainvillea blossoms
Good news... I did remember to take my camera to the Farm at South Mountain, where I taught a 2-day Improvisational Bead Embroidery workshop. Now, the Farm itself is a worthy Phoenix destination! Picture a large grove of shady pecan trees, gardens, flowers (like the bougainvillea above and the passion flowers below), three world-class restaurants (lunch being my favorite, because it's served in a picnic basket which you then carry outside to a picnic table under a pecan tree to have your meal), and an artist's studio.

passion flowers
The Farm features a different art program every 6 weeks or so. I was there as part of bead artist, Corinne McAuley's residency. During her time as Artist in Residence, she displayed her own work in the Artist's Cottage at the Farm, taught workshops, brought in a couple of distinguished speakers about beading and organized my teaching gig. My hat is off to Corinne, a most talented and well-organized new bead friend!

Corinne McAuley, beaded tapestry, peyote stitch, Peonies
Corinne McAuley, beaded tapestry, peyote stitch, Fall Fire
Above are two examples of her work (before taking my workshop - who knows how learning improv bead embroidery might influence it in the future). They are worked in flat peyote stitch with countless thousands of beads in each piece. You can see more of her tapestries on her website, here. And, hooray, Corinne has already joined us for the 2010 Bead Journal Project!!!

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
This is Joan, Corinne and Lisa (left to right). I hear Joan's got the bead embroidery bug. And Lisa, OMG, she's finished her class piece AND a second piece in less that two weeks. See below! Aren't these fabulous?! How do you like her use of mirrors in both pieces? I'm so proud of her!

bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, My Racing Thoughts
Lisa's first piece, started in class, titled "My Racing Thoughts."

bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, Tranquility
Lisa's second piece, finished two weeks later, titled "Tranquility."

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
This picture shows the room where we had class. At the first table are Sheila, Ann and Joan! Ann had already done three pieces of improv bead embroidery using my books to learn the stitches and process. You can see her first and second piece below. I'm sure all three of these gals have been stitching with abandon since completing the class!

bead embroidery by Ann Severine
students, bead embroidery class by Robin Atkins
This picture shows my two tablemates, Marty (a crazy quilter, who seems to be gravitating nicely towards more beads and might join the 2010 BJP) and Glenda (who took both of my workshops and is one of those students who makes the teacher feel good because she catches on quickly and does beautiful work right off the bat).

students, bead embroidery 2workshop taught by Robin Atkins
Michelle and Suzanne (front), Diane, Victoria (a current BJP member) and Linda sat at the third table. Victoria brought her BJP butterfly pieces (see them here, scroll down) to share with us and a doll she created and beaded (below)! Diane brought several samples of Native American beadwork for show'n'tell (including the beaded sneaker, shown above, the belt buckle shown below and a beaded bag, detail shown at the bottom of this post)!

beaded doll
Victoria's doll. I love that it's not totally symmetrical and in the African Ndebele style!

Native American barrette
Barrette by Native American artist, Edgar Jackson, brought for show'n'tell.

The workshop ended all too soon. We were having a great time together and much beading progress was being made!

After parting company with my students, I joined my long-time (non-beading) friend, Patricia, and her husband Roger for a couple of days of relaxation in the sun. They have a home in Fountain Hills, a lovely part of Phoenix (NE of down town), and so named because of its hallmark fountain, the tallest in the USA!

Fountain Hills, AZ, fountain and rainbow
Fountain Hills, AZ, fountain and painted wall
This fountain goes off for 15 minutes every hour during daylight and early evening. There's a lovely walk all around the lake. AND, the piece d' resistance of the lake-side promenade is La Scala Creamery, where you can get the most tasty gelato in the world and/or have an ice-cold, refreshing drink of sparkling La Scala tea! This is NOT TO BE MISSED!

One day we took a drive out Hwy 87 to Payson, and then NE on Hwy 260 to SR 300, which is a gravel road that runs along the edge of the Mogollon Rim, a plateau that rises to 7,000 feet (towering 3,000 feet above the valley below)! Below are two pictures I took from the Rim... They hardly do justice to the beauty there.

Mogollon Rim, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Mogollon Rim, AZ, photo by Robin Atkins
Among other fun things that day, we stopped in Pine (on Hwy 87) for lunch at HB's Place. We gave them 5 stars! Especially delicious was their Oatmeal Pie. I think it may have been similar to this recipe:
Amish Oatmeal Pie

1 1/2 c. milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
2/3 c. rolled oats
1 1/3 c. dark brown sugar
2/3 c. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 425. Combine milk, eggs, butter, oats, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour into flour/nut pie shell and sprinkle with additional coconut. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

beaded bag, detail, contemporary Native American
And that about does it for Phoenix... a fun desert place, indeed... great beaders, love the Saguaro cactus, love Mogollon Rim and the fountain in Fountain Hills! I hope you've enjoyed this vicarious visit to the Southwest!