Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bead Embroidery + Quilt Show + Bead Festival

Bead Embroidery

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, detail of bead bezels for pebbles
Here's a look at my current project. It's for my husband, Robert. Somehow, I'll mount it on (or in) a wooden, treasure box.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, piece in progress with pebbles in bezels
It began with these pebbles, which I collected from a beach on our island. I think of them as stepping stones... crossing a river maybe or going to another place (both intrepretations have spiritual implications). I made bezels for them by surrounding them with "tall stacks" and then joining the tops of the stacks. They are not glued in place.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, piece in progress for Robert's box
It's about 2/3 finished now and, if you look at the click-to-enlarge version, you'll see
  1. a bear and beaver (his totem animals) to help and guide him on his journey
  2. a heart (mine, of course)
  3. precious, itty-bitty, faceted tourmaline stones (extremely small holes, character building for me to sew them on using the smallest size 16 needle I have) for healing and unifying spirit, body and intellect
  4. labradorite chips because it stimulates intuition
  5. a beautiful, man-made, faceted ruby (a gift from a student in Phoenix), the stone of passion
  6. a cat (we both love cats)
  7. three little brass bells (to attract fairies)
  8. a piece of shell or barnacle I picked up at the beach
  9. branch angel-coral (to attract angels)
  10. leaves (we both love many different types of trees) because it's Fall and the leaves are so pretty this year
No clue what I'll do next with this piece, except that I know it will be solid beading. For the past two years of doing the Bead Journal Project, I've been playing around with using several fabrics on each piece and allowing them to show. For Robert's piece, I've returned to an encrusted style, which is really fun!


If you're in the Seattle area, or wish to travel to this currently very lush and green part of the country, you may want to come to the Bellevue Bead Festival! Organized by the Bead Factory, the same folks who do the Puget Sound Bead Festival in July, this one promises to have great classes and shopping opportunities!

I will be teaching two classes...
  1. Techniques of Bead Embroidery, an all-day class on Friday, Nov. 20. This is a wonderful introductory class for learning the four basic bead embroidery stitches, many fanciful variations (such as the bezels in my piece above), plus edging and fringing techniques. Students will make a sampler of these techniques to take home along with a comprehensive handout.
  2. Beaded Buttons, a half-day class on Saturday morning, Nov. 21. This is the best way to see if you like bead embroidery and to experiment with working improvisationally. I teach three basic techniques and several nice variations. Most students leave class with a finished button and a very good start to learning bead embroidery.
beaded button by Robin Atkins, bead artist
On display in my classroom, I will have all of my Bead Journal Project pieces along with many other examples shown in my books. Both classes still had openings as of a week ago. If you're a Beadlust reader and decide to take one of these classes, please come and introduce yourself before the class.

Quilt Show

Oh boy, oh boy!!! My bead/quilt friend, Lunnette, and I took a field trip off-island yesterday!

Penn Cove Pottery, gallery in Coupeville, WA
In addition to shopping the quilt/fabric shops in Anacortes, the primary purpose of the trip was to go to Penn Cove Pottery, a gallery near Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Here's an artist's interpretation of how the place looks. And, yep, that's almost how dismal/cloudy/rainy it was yesterday... outside.... INSIDE it was grand!

Yeah, it's a pottery place representing 9 very gifted and artistic potters. But through Nov. 28th, they also have an exciting exhibit of 18 art quilts and 2 wall hangings. Very worth our time (and expense of the ferry trip) to go see this work! Below are my favorites.

art quilt by Myrna Giesbrecht, Evolving Sampler
This one is Evolving Sampler by Myrna Giesbrecht. I especially liked the way she mounted the quilt on a stretched canvas, painted black... a very dramatic effect.

art quilt by Myrna Giesbrecht, Evolving Sampler, detail
I also liked the way she blended her colors in the non-focal area.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere
This one is Somewhere by Judie Hoyman.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere, detail
Judie printed (world maps and lettering) and hand-dyed the fabrics. Around the border are phrases which describe some of the positive and some of the negative things going on in the world, especially for girls and women.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere, detail
"Somewhere... a child is exploring the internet". "Somewhere... a little girl is being denied an education". It touched me and made me think about the importance of global awareness and sharing.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods
This one is A Clearing in the Woods by Cinda Langjahr.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods, detail
The quilting details and patterns really appeal to me in this quilt! I've never been very interested in learning machine quilting until I saw all the possibilities Cinda uses.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods, detail
This weekend is our annual Quilt Retreat at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island. There will be about 40 of us stitching for four days! I'll be working on a graduation quilt for my niece, Margaret. You'll see!


  1. Anonymous4:59 AM

    Oh my, Robin, as always I need more time to absorb all that's in your post. Just browsing for now, but I can't wait to come back and really dig in. Your piece for your husband is absolutely lovely. Later!

  2. I can hardly believe the time for the class in Bellevue is almost here and I am counting the days... I have signed up for the Bead Journal and 3 more people signed up after reading about it on my blog... I am bring a couple pieces of CQ for show and tell as you suggested... See you soon..

    Gerry Krueger
    Spokane, WA

  3. Aren't you excited that Gerry will be participating in the BJP! To me, she is to CQ as Robin is to Bead Embroidery!

    What a wonderful idea to make your husband a treasure box. I have been thinking about the 2010 BJP and how I will participate this year. You discription of the components you added to this piece make me long to be BJ again. I had forgotten for a little moment how important it is to me.

    Love the pics of the Art Quilts. Can't you just look at them forever!

    Have a nice Thanksgiving, Robin. Hope all is well with your health.

    XX, Carol

  4. Oooo this is just glorious, Robin! How special that you have included his totems, they will bring him good luck, I'm sure. Do you sometimes feel isolated on the island or is it your sanctuary?

  5. Wonderful inspiration, robin...thanks for sharing...your weekend sounds great!

  6. Beautiful piece that you're working on for your husband! I really like the way you included the pebbles. Thanks for sharing the quilt pictures also. Although now I want to bead & quilt! Guess I'll just have to combine them!

  7. To Gerry ~ It will be so awesome to see you in Bellevue and to work side-by-side on our BJP pieces!

    To Carol ~ Thanks, dear heart, for the reminder of what is the essential core of the BJP! This may explain why I've been feeling a little at loss lately... no on-going beaded journal. Ah, soon we'll be back at it!

    To Marty ~ I feel both ways... sometimes isolated and at other times like this place is a safe-haven or sanctuary.

    To Robin ~ Yes, I'm drawn both ways too. I did make one of my journal pieces from last year into a quilt. Your comment reminds me that I've never posted a picture of it. OK... the next post.

  8. i always am in awe over your pieces...the colors you choose, the elements you use and how you compose them is so phenomenal. great work for your husband! can't wait to see it finished. the quilts are very beautiful too. i am not a quilter and always wonder how they put them together and get the colors so perfect. always anxious to see your posts!

  9. Oh my, Robin, isn't Robert the lucky guy! What a gorgeous treasure box this will be...I wonder what he will put inside of it. I LUVLUVLUV the caged pebbles (of course!) and that smattering of multi-colored leaves, the semi-precious stone chips, the totems...

    An aside: how does one go about finding out what their totem is??? is it instinctual, or by personal choice...or...?

    The quilt show looks fabulous - I have it on my calendar to try and make it down there. Thank you for capturing the *eye candy* to entice us!

    Enjoy your fabulous weekend of stitchery & all things beady and please take lots of pictures to show us!!

  10. I find this piece particularly moving. Perhaps it is all the love that is pouring into it. I feel that it is intended to nuture Robert and keep him as safe as well as the treasures it will hold.

    Truely beautiful.

  11. Beautiful - a real treasure trove of spirit led beading. I love the use of the stones -- picking up bits and pieces from nature is always a favorite pasttime of mine, incoporating it into beading is icing on the cake.

  12. Robin, you continue to be an inspiration to me. Your piece with the little stones is sooo cool, and how wonderful that you made it for your husband. That will really be a treasure piece for him to have. You fit so much into your posts..thank you for sharing. Wish I lived in your are, just never get out that way although we lived and married in the Pacific NW.

  13. Anonymous7:00 PM

    I love your bead embroidery piece - it's really beautiful! The stones are gorgeous too. Encrusted is always good when it comes to beads!

  14. I love the path of stones collected from the beach...all slightly different in color, hue and shape but all part of the path. It feels to me like Robert, should he ever fall from the path, he would be surrounded by love and life and an energy such that he wouldn't even know he had fallen. What an absolutely beautiful gift of love love love. A heart song...

  15. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Such beautiful work here Robin.Your talent is amazing.

  16. It's a wonderful gift for your husband.

  17. I really love this new piece you're working on -- can't wait to see how it will come out.

  18. This new piece is absolutely gorgeous. Your husband will love it.

  19. Jeepers, I hope that path leads back to a place by your side and not to the other side of the veil as it were. I'm sorry, but that's the first thing that came into my mind. Meanwhile, I love the symbolism of the tokens. I hadn't heard of a few of those.

  20. Your beading is incredible! your class sounds wonderful but just can't come from Ohio...will be checking back in here often to be inspired! thanks also for sharing the quilt show...

  21. Hi there. I stumbled onto your blog today. I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed it very much. Love the bounty of great photos and all the different colors. I'm looking forward to reading more and will probably even read back. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us.

  22. To Karen ~ Thanks!!! I shall visit yours as soon as I finish this comment!

    To Dianne ~ I wish traveling weren't so difficult from this remote island where I live... It would make a difference in my desire to teach anywhere east of the West Coast.

    To Magpie Sue ~ Not to worry... no fear of that at all. The path is a spiritual one, one to a connection with a higher power.

    To Sweetpea ~ Did you make it to the show on Whidbey Island?


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!