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?!


  1. I love this post! What a great tribute to your beading girlfriends in Minnesota!
    Their work is lovely and inspirational!

    And I love Lucy - she reminds me of a stuffed cat I had as a little girl that I named Midnight. I asked for a black cat for Christmas one year and got one with a gold crown on her head and green eyes like Lucy's.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this post, too! How very, very special for all of you beady girl friends to spend that time together sharing & beading & ohhhhlahlahing!! WOW, they sure do scrumptious work.

    Your mom looks just GREAT, Robin, and I am so happy for you that her new home exceeded your expectations - a huge relief. It must put your mind {{{{{heart}}}}} so much more at ease....


  3. What a great post Robin, made me relive it all over again. Can you feel the smile on my face!
    Even though I love what I have created because of the BJP, the best part of it has been the friends I have made.
    Can't wait for your return!

  4. Oh my, what an exuberant post, Robin! Thank you for sharing everything with all of us and, especially, for putting a face to some of the BJPers . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  5. Wow, thank you for sharing the work of these talented ladies! Everything they have made is absolutely beautiful and very inspiring.

    Your mom looks happy and content--so glad everything worked out okay.

    Happy Halloween!

  6. Anonymous4:22 AM

    Wow, Robin, I'm glad you don't post everyday! It always takes me some time to completely absorb all that's in your posts, and I look forward to checking out the links as well. One quick question which I admittedly may have missed as I browsed Pam's blog -- how big are her framed circular BJP pieces for this year?
    I shall return after digging further. :)

  7. Your mother is beautiful. Absolutely radiant. The body may give out but the spirit sure doesn't.

    It sounds like a very stimulating and restorative trip. I'm sure you have a lot to process now that you're back home.

    I am quite jealous that you were able to spend time with Brenda and Pam and Julie. I feel like they've become good friends through the bjp so it's nice to see their faces. You are absolutely right about their's breathtaking. Love Pam's pieces AND that Dr. Seuss house better be insured!!!

    I hope your heartsong is strong and not giving you any worries. Welcome home. xo Susan

  8. Dear Robin ~
    Thank you for sharing this trip with us.

    Your mother looks, for lack of a more descriptive word, HAPPY. Her spirit just comes out of this picture and hugs you.

    I wish that we had a link to Carmen so we could all encourage her to join the Project. She probably doesn't realize how good her work is.

    Hope you health has not been a worry.

    Warm Regards

  9. Your posts are so alive and full of detail, they make me feel that I am there sharing with you. Thanks for all the photos - of beads and people.
    They all make my heart sing!


  10. Very impressing post.
    I think your mother will be fine, she laughs...can words say more???

    Greetings from Germany!


  11. What a wonderful trip that must have been for you. Thanks for sharing with us. I found out first hand what a treasure it is to meet fellow beaders in person this past month. Hope I convinced some of them to join BJP this year.
    Your Mom looks radiant.


  12. Boy I bet you were very sad to leave all that beading fun. Amazing is one word I have for that talented group of ladies you got to spend time with. Love all the pieces you shared!

    And you Mom is just too adorable! I just love to see elder folks beaming with with love.


  13. Sounds like you had a lovely time with your family and friends. Just what you needed to re-charge your creativity. What did you work on during your vacation and play date? Something exciting, I bet!

  14. robin, i finally managed to get an account so i can respond to your post. :)

    all of the work here is absolutely fantastic! i wish i could see it all in person because i'm sure it's even better than just seeing everything in a photo. fabulous!

  15. I enjoyed your post as it seemed like the spirit of a CQ retreat I just attended. I just registered for the BJP and now trying to think about size. Settled on 3 1/2 by 5" Hope to have 2 started to work on and for advice at the Nov workshop in bellevue. Is that a good plan or would that not fit with the workshop???

    Also a while back you showed a bunch of the BJP mounted and now I can't find it in this blog....

    Gerry Krueger

  16. The cat in the hat box is pretty funny. Looks like a birdhouse to me! LOL.

  17. Just stumbled upon your blog when looking for ideas for "beads"...your blog is awesome and the work you are sharing is fabulous! Love the colorful pieces and your photos...thanks for sharing!

  18. Robin, I really enjoyed getting to see your photos from your Minnesota trip. I especially loved seeing your Mom holding the bunny you gave her. I love too how you constantly support other artists TRULY delighting in their work. It's like you see the potential & artist in everyone you meet. I am so glad you had such a productive & fun time in Minnesota, & I appreciate that you shared all the delightful work you saw there.

  19. Hey Robin! It's Carmen from Minnesota. So cool to see all of the "Minnesota Girls" stuff on your blog. Makes me giggle. It was such a pleasure meeting you and beading with all of you. As soon as I can finish figuring out how to set up a blog, I will join BJP. I'm excited! And I'm memorizing your books! Love them!!! Thanks so much for everything.

  20. To All ~ Thanks for visiting! Special thanks for your comments about my Mom. Happy moments, like to one I was lucky to capture, come and go at her age. She loves it when I can come spend a week with her... and so do I!

    To Gerry ~ You can read that post here:

    To Barbara ~ Pam's circles are a bit more than 3" in diameter.

    To Carol ~ Carmen has just started her blog! It's here:

    To Anne Marie ~ That will be my next post! Just need to have a good day for photography... It's been raining steadily, so don't hold your breath!

    To Diane ~ I'm glad you found me because I then found you... your blog is FABULOUS!

    To Carmen ~ I can't wait to read your first post! Congrats on getting it set up!!!

  21. Ohmygosh! Robin! And all the rest of you out there! Carmelita thought she was just sort of in the process of making a blog when Robin publishes my blog address, place, whatever. Help! I laughed so hard tears ran down my face. What a discovery at 6 am. Now what do I do? hahaha

  22. Hi Robin. My blog site was just a test. I was trying to figure it out, and I didn't realize it went through. So! I have canceled this one, and will have a new one by December, when I shall start publishing. If you remember, I have this little back issue to deal with first. Will be sketching like crazy during the convalescence! Carmen from MN

  23. What impressed me was the gentle shape of Carmen's beaded hearts. I've been thinking about the next BJP and considered working with a heart shape but was concerned about the finishing process. Finishing is always my bugaboo, no matter what medium I'm working in. It's got to be simple and now can't involve any glues... More to think about!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!