Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beading Tips

Saguaro cactus, dusk, near Phoenix AZ, photo by Robin ATkins
Hi Everyone!

I'm in love with Saguaro cactus (above... this one may have been just a wee tyke when my Mom was born 93 years ago) and all the desert cacti and wildflowers in March!!!!! But our adventures in Arizona will have to be the subject of my next post. We took thousands of pictures... really, no exaggeration! So, it will take a bit of time to sort through them and find a few gems to post here.

In the meantime, I was reading Lisa's blog (Indigo's Beads) and decided to comment here on a couple of the issues she had with her March BJP bead embroidery... Here's her very beautiful piece... called Springtime in Heaven.

bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, title: Springtime in Heaven
In her post, here, she wrote about making the fringed "grass" border before filling in the background sky and about how the thread caught on the fringe over and over again, making it quite challenging (and time-consuming) to bead the sky.

Tip #1. It makes sense to wait to add fringy things to my bead embroidery until AFTER I've completed everything else. But often that's just not the way it goes. Often the fringe just needs to happen and I can't resist the urge. Generally I curse the tangles and keep beading, just as I imagine Lisa did. However, when it really gets to be a problem, I take the time to cover the fringe so that it doesn't keep catching my thread. There are two ways to do this. One is with tin foil. Tear a small piece of tin foil and scrunch it around the fringe. If a larger area of fringe is involved, as in Lisa's piece, I stitch a piece of netting or fabric over the fringe, temporarily containing it. The netting is nice, because you can still see the fringe through it.

Lisa also mentioned that she had to break the Bead Journal Project rule of maintaining the same size for all of her pieces. This is because she started with the ribbon meadow, working from edge to edge of her predetermined size. After creating most of the design, she decided it needed a grass border. That would either mean starting over or making the piece larger than the others in her BJP series for the year. Lisa chose to break the rules and go for the larger size. I say, "Bravo!"

Tip #2. Always break the rules of any art project when it enables you to create your art in a way that works for you. I really believe this! Rules are good guidelines. But don't let them hold you back when it comes to the flow of your creativity!

Then, showing a closeup picture of her beading, Lisa wrote, "oh, enlarged pics really shows my crooked lines! lol. oh well. They looked pretty straight when I was doing them." Yup, Lisa, I certainly know that feeling well!

detail of bead embroidery by Lisa Criswell, title: Springtime in Heaven
Tip #3. This issue always reminds me of looking at my cuticles under magnification. They look fine until I peer into the magnifying glass. Akkkk! The truth is this: it's the same for all of us. Any flat beading (back stitch, couching and/or weaving) can look smooth and straight... even when we examine our work with a critical eye. But when we take a photo of our work in macro or enlarge a high resolution photo to greater than twice the actual size, suddenly we see the thread between the beads and the beads appear to be crooked and unevenly spaced. Our work looks flawed. This is even more pronounced because of the nature of digital photography and scanners, which are designed to capture even slight differences in value. When I find myself feeling harsh about an enlarged picture of my beading, I try to remember to look at the whole, the un-enlarged picture and the original work, to regain proper perspective.

Hope these tips help...

I'm glad to be back on the computer, even though I have lots of catching up to do and oodles of pictures from our trip to sort through. I'll be around to your blogs as soon as I can... Oh yeah, and I'd better get started on my March BJP piece too... YIKES... the month is nearly gone!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Building Nests + 6 Words

There's always that one day that marks the end of winter and suddenly you're soaring into spring with all its glorious re-birthing. Today was that day for me!

The crocus and daffodils are blooming earlier this year after a very mild winter. February was unusually warm... 40s and 50s, no freezing at night. My neighbor, over at Herb Crazed, grows hundreds of daffodils on her triangular property, a joy for all of us! Check out her two recent posts, one about deer resistant plants and one about daffodils. These are hers, by the way.

The robins are back, hopping around moss-coated rocks in search of worms. Soon our 5 acres will team with all sorts of woodland birds. And two of them will commandeer our bird houses!

bird house, madrona trees
bird nest, side view
This is the remains of a nest from last year, which my husband cleaned from one of their houses. If you study it, you can see that the little tykes know how to build! The sticks, carefully sized, are placed one west, one south, one east, one north and back to west. It was easier to see this pattern immediately after the nest came out of the bird house. I took this picture a day or so later and the wind had already begun to destroy it.

bird's nest, inside view
This picture is the nest from our other bird house. I love the little feathers woven into the sticks. I think both residents were sparrows... but I could be wrong about that.

Yesterday I spent the whole day with Christi of Sweatpea's Path on Lopez Island. We stitched, talked, ate delicious home-made chicken soup and walked the paths through her neighbor's 80-acre woods... 50+ degrees and sunny! Could it be better? Well, yes, it could. Add to the above that she's tamed a whole flock of chickadees to eat bird seed from her hand. They're so tame, some of them will sit or her dog's head. Wouldn't I love a picture of that!!! I fed them too. Amazing and sweet to feel their little feet on my fingers, look eye-to-eye with them and watch them choose a special seed. Chickadee-dee-dee!

Words for March BJP

March 1, sat outside on our deck, quietly contemplating the sky and madrona trees, then quickly wrote the first six words that came to mind. They are:


Of these, the one which seemed the most compelling at the time was Explore, so that's my "featured" word for this month's BJP. While with Christi yesterday, I started stitching a bunch of different fabrics together, layering them. They may have to be part of it.

Takin' a Leave of Absence for Two Weeks!

My husband and I are taking our first significant vacation in 13 years of being together!!! We're going to Arizona, where we'll see a couple of Mariners spring training games, visit the Phoenix art museum, take a motor cycle ride to the Jerome-Sedona area, spend 2+ days at the Grand Canyon, and photograph blooming cactus (I hope) and wild flowers. We'll be away from our computers and home responsibilities for nearly 2 full weeks. Glorious!