Sunday, November 27, 2011

August BJP Finished

Robin Atkins, bead embroidery, bead journal project, detail
Can you guess the subject of this piece? I guess the title will have to be Me & The Book! Maybe a little "refresher" about how I do bead embroidery is in order...

First, this is a Bead Journal Project piece, meaning (for this year's pieces) it will be about a significant intersection in my life. August was the second month I worked on my new book. "Worked" is an understatement. I slaved on it, working mostly at the computer, nearly every day of the week for 8-14 hours a day. At that time it was both an exciting, challenging opportunity to teach what I know about beads AND a frightening, draining, daunting 7-month commitment. It was a natural choice for my piece... the intersection between me and the book, how our paths cross.
  • Fabric choices: just what appealed to me; hot color for a hot month, maybe. Or, perhaps my hunch that the book itself will be HOT!
  • Bead choices: with the subject tucked in the back of my mind and the fabric already chosen, I went through some boxes of beads and picked out things I like (love).
  • The rock: it was in with some smaller pebbles I collected on the beach one time. It appealed to me.
I almost always begin beading in the center. The rock was big, I thought, but I was compelled to put it on this piece right at the point of intersection. The rest of the piece developed quickly and without much thought on my part.

When I'm all finished (or nearly finished)... that's when I begin to analyze the piece, deciding which axis is me, which is the book, thinking about what it means.

Robin Atkins, bead embroidery, bead journal project, detail
In this case, the book (see end of this post) was like a big rock in my life... an anchor, a huge, solid mass requiring my full attention and focus. I am the straight line, surrounding the book, not allowing myself to veer away from working on it. The other line, the book itself, is creative, fun, open, developing. It exists beyond my management of it. The last things I added were the long pieces of coral. I think these may reflect the part of me that is having fun with the book, a guiding muse, perhaps, existing outside of my conscious control.

Robin Atkins, bead embroidery, bead journal project, new book
Here's the whole piece. I made the miniature book on top of the rock a long time ago. I'm going to make another one in the likeness of the new book (once it's cover is designed by the publisher) and exchange it for the one that's on the rock now.

It's interesting to note that this piece was me and the book in August. It would be a different picture now that the book is 2/3 complete. I'm not in such a straight, rigid line about it anymore. Yay!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

July BJP Finished + New Book

Robin Atkins bead embroidery, Ocean, BJP, detail
Above is a detail picture from my July BJP. I'm "journaling" this year about how I intersect with important people, places and things in my life. The one that came to mind for July was The Ocean. I grew up in California, living near San Jose until I was 7. My grandparents had a little cottage in Santa Cruz on West Cliff Drive, a few miles north of town, where in those days, many of the lots were brussels sprout fields. Can you imagine, prime real estate like that, high on the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, used to grow artichokes and brussels sprouts? Shows my age, doesn't it!?!

Robin Atkins bead embroidery, Ocean, BJP, detail
You can easily see which line represents me and which is the ocean. I've always loved the ocean, adored it, mesmerized by the sound of breaking waves, frightened by its immense power, awed by its beauty. As a young child, I used to cross the street and clamber down the steep cliff to the rocky ledges below, exploring tide pools, just sitting and watching the waves break below me. Once a rogue wave almost took me away. I saw it just in time and practically levitated myself up two ledges, watching it growl over the place I'd been seconds before.

Living on an island, I'm surrounded by ocean. When it storms, my husband and I like to go to South Beach and Cattle Point, where we watch and photograph waves so big they pick up and toss around whole driftwood logs like toothpicks. Ah, it's in my blood!

Robin Atkins bead embroidery, ocean, bead journal project
Here's the whole piece. These "blocks" are designed to go "on point" and will be joined together and hand quilted to make a wall hanging. Looking at all 8 of my finished blocks (each 7 inches square), I am thrilled with them! They tell such a personal story about me... I thought they would be a journal of 2011, and in some ways they are. But, even more, I seem to have chosen to illustrate intersections that have been important to me for a long time, like the ocean on this piece.

Although I've been focused entirely on writing a new book since the end of June, I've managed to get two more BJP pieces finished (July and August). September's piece is started. I will finish the year, although probably not on time. I'll post August's piece tomorrow.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
New book! I'm not at liberty to say much yet about the new book, but will soon. I can say it will be about 350 pages, loaded with photographs, and have 40+ projects in it. The projects are designed to teach techniques. Small groups of projects build on each other, resulting in both easy and complex pieces. While the book emphasizes technique, it also covers process and design. Nine guest artists are contributing projects to give it a wider-scale appeal. It's about 2/3 complete and looking mighty special! As soon as the publisher allows me to spill more of the beans, I'll publish a post with more details. Oh, I can say, it will be available on Amazon and in bookstores next fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recognize this Bead????? Mystery Solved!

vintage blue glass bead
Anybody out there recognize this bead... how old? where made? (Click to enlarge!)
Answers revealed at end of this post.

Here's what I know about it:
  1. made of transparent, medium blue glass
  2. round in shape
  3. about 14 mm in diameter
  4. probably a lampwork bead, because I can see bits of what seems to be kiln slip in the hole
  5. seemingly hand ground on the ends
  6. seemingly hand engraved, carved or etched because the cut designs are slightly different on each of the 13 beads I have
  7. at least 25 years old because that's how long I've had them
  8. carved design (three circles on each bead) looks a little like the Chinese symbol for longevity
  9. although I don't recall how (or from whom) they came into my possession, I do recall being told they were "vintage"
  10. I think I was told they were "vintage Japanese," but am not sure about that

vintage blue glass bead, hole
I need to know about these beads for a book I'm currently writing, especially how old they are and where they were made. Anybody know the answers? Educated guesses are OK. If you know somebody who might know, please pass the link to this post on to them. Thanks!

vintage blue glass bead, hole
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sept. 18, 2011 ~ Origins of mystery bead are revealed, thanks to Robert K Liu, founder and editor of Ornament Magazine, who wrote: These are lapidary-cut or ground Chinese Qing Dynasty beads, at most probably early 20th C.

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions about who to contact, especially Beady Ann, who suggested contacting Dr. Liu.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ganesh - Bead Embroidery by Janet Dann

Janet Dann, bead embroidery, bear, detail
I've shown Janet Dann's exquisitely detailed bead embroidery on an earlier post, here. As you can see in the picture above, she has such an amazing "feel" for animals and is able to show great detail by using mostly size 15/0 (and smaller!) seed beads.

Janet Dann, bead embroidery, ganesh, head detail
This time, she took on Ganesh (sometimes called Ganesha), a long-revered God in India, a guide for new beginnings. With his human-like body and elephant head, he also removes obstacles. Although, when needed, he sometimes places obstacles! Janet is the second beader I know to bead Ganesh. The first was Liz Thompson, who bead embroidered the wonderful, fat and happy Ganesha shown below.

Liz Thompson, bead embroidery, ganesha

Janet's Ganesh is playing music and dancing, as he often does. His robes, necklaces and jeweled belts are swishing this way and that as he moves. His countenance is joyful, his headdress radiant. The size is about 9" high. Most of the beads are size 13/0 and 15/0. Janet used rhinestones, flatbacks, Swarovski crystals, & silver lined beads to decorate his headdress and adornments. There are also gemstones: ruby, emerald, amethyst, rose quartz & lapis. Please click picture to enlarge so you can see the details!

Janet Dann, bead embroidery, ganesh
Maybe some of you don't relate to Ganesh. But all of us can appreciate Janet's work!

Janet Dann, bead embroidery, ganesh, knee detail
Above is a detail of Ganesh's knee. To get the lines and the detail, Janet had to plan ahead the order in which she would bead various elements. In this case, the adornments had to be done first; then the robe covering the top part of his leg; then the knee, leg and foot; and finally the robes behind his leg. Beading in that order allowed the sharp edges which define the various parts.

Janet Dann, bead embroidery, ganesh, drum, jewels detail
Here again, you can see that the hand beating the drum came first, then the jewels on the drum, then the rest of the drum, then the jewelry, and finally Ganesh's body.

As you might guess, the very last thing Janet beaded was the white background. When the beading was finished, she "framed" it in red felt, padding a little bit in certain areas to give further dimension and definition to Ganesh. She made it as a gift for a friend, who has serious health obstacles and needs a "remover." I hope Ganesh does his job well!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Purple Thumbs... June BJP Finished!

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, garden, texture detail
Although I come from a family of gardeners, the urge to play with growing green things never (ever!) appealed to me. My parents said I have a purple thumb, meaning I don't take to gardening. OK with me... I love purple!

Early this spring, my husband started talking about us having a vegetable garden on our property. Ohhhhh, no! Not me! I don't DO gardening, I said. A bone of contention between us , it became a hot topic in our counseling sessions until I finally agreed to contribute 10% (to his 90%) toward the building and operation of the garden (labor and cost).

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, garden
You guessed it. My thumbs are greening. You can see it in my Bead Journal Project piece for June. The purple bugle bead pathways are my thumbs, the greening around the edges (looking a little like beet greens) is what is happening to them! The other arm of the X is our garden.

I even started a garden blog. I'm ghost writing it for my husband, which he claims is stealing his identity. If you'd like to see the results of horse-trough, intensive, raised-bed gardening, take a look at Rain Barrel Garden.

Now here's some fun... click on the picture below to make it big and see if you can identify the vegetables. Not in order and not counting the obvious ones in the center, they are: beets, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, three types of lettuce, kale, strawberries and spinach.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, garden, center detail
Although I enjoy planting, harvesting and eating our own organic foods, I had no real appreciation for how much I enjoy it until it showed up in my beading. All I do at the start of one of these visual journaling pieces is to tell myself, "This one is about the relationship between me and our garden." The rest just happens... improvisationally... bead by bead. It's magic!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Me and My Stuff - May's BJP

Too many piles? Too much stuff?

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP,Me and My Stuff, detail
Most of us, after we’ve lived in the same place for a number of years, begin to accumulate a few too many things. Right? Do you know what I mean?
  • drawers stuffed... full, all of them totally full
  • closets stuffed full, piles on the floor, shelves stacked to the bottom of the next shelf
  • boxes, OMG, the boxes…
  • piles of papers around the computer
  • piles of papers on the tables
  • too many beads to keep track of them all
  • take a class, buy all the stuff… yep it’s all still there
  • did I mention shoes?
  • did I mention clothes that don’t fit any more?
  • books? Oh dear, don’t get me started on those!
  • attic? Stuff from the old house; lots of stuff… boxes on boxes on boxes… been there, untouched, for 13 years now
  • photos
  • paint and paintings
  • greeting cards
  • beadwork, quilts, artsy stuff I’ve made
  • artsy stuff others have made
  • family treasures passed down from relatives
The quantity of stuff I own began to depress me when my Mom passed away in March. She had so little by then, the best of her best. It took only a few hours to clear out her room and find homes for her few special things.

I started to think, What if….? What would my poor husband do with all my stuff???? I started to wish it would all go away, giving me a clean slate, empty shelves and drawers, like when you got your first apartment. I read an excellent book about hoarding (Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee), and got more down about it, although I’m not as bad as many the authors described. And for a while I actually went through some things and lightened my load a little.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP,Me and My Stuff, detail
OK, so what better topic for my May BJP than Me and My Stuff? No problem gathering stuff… little scraps of this and that I’d saved because I might use it someday, things people have given me over the years, like the white, plastic horse from a box of Cracker Jacks. By the way, the pink line of beads is me. You can see, I'm surrounded by my stuff...

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP,Me and My Stuff, detail
As I began stitching, I assumed the stuff would pile on top of more stuff and it would all look jumbled and chaotic, not pretty, not fun and not happy. To my great surprise, it’s just the opposite.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP,Me and My Stuff
Many times I write poems off my work (a technique I describe in One Bead at a Time, which you can download for free from my website). I write a list of words and phrases that pop into my mind as I look at my beading and workspace. Then I circle the word or phrase that seems the most compelling to me. Next I write: “I am ____________,” filling in the blank with the circled word/phrase. This is the first line of a poem about me. Using as many of the words/phrases as I wish in my poem, I quickly say whatever comes to my mind. It’s a way of letting our visual journaling, our beadwork speak to us about who we are.

This is the poem I wrote about Me and My Stuff
I am parts of old projects
unfinished business
tufts of the past
holding me back somehow.
My work is trying to tell me something.
Unbidden, in its joyful, little-girl colors,
it seems to be a key
to starting something new.
What about the white plastic horse?
What memory am I saving in my stuff?
Lots of stuff, pretty stuff, piles of stuff
laden with memories
I am afraid of forgetting.
Ah-ha! Writing this poem and looking at my piece, gives me a giant ah-ha!!!! The stuff is about fear, fear of forgetting. For me, ALL my stuff is about fear of forgetting! Isn’t that interesting? I love knowing this. Because now I realize it doesn’t work. The memories are either there, or they’re gone, or they’re fading. The stuff may jog my memory for a while, but there are no guarantees.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, BJP,Me and My Stuff, detail
For example, the woven “flower” in the center of my piece was given to me by somebody, maybe a student, maybe in a class, maybe mailed to me… I don’t recall who or what were the circumstances anymore. I do recall who gave me the horse, but the when and why of it are lost memory.

So why not let go of the stuff, knowing that some memories will remain for a long time, others will fade? It’s life. It’s aging. It’s OK.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mom and Me - April BJP Finished

If you read my April 1st post about Mom, you know she passed away at age 94 this year in March.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, April BJP, detail
I began working on my April BJP while I was in Minnesota, just after she died, for the memorial service and to be with my siblings. Thus the subject for March was a "no-brainer," the intersection between Mom and Me, how our life paths intersect.

As usual, I worked improvisationally, with no plan for how it might turn out. In my other BJP pieces for this year, the two intersecting lines of the X always developed distinctive characteristics, one representing me and the other representing the other force, event or person in my life. For example, it's very clear to me looking at the piece about my husband and me (here), I am the red beads and he is the blue beads.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, April BJP, detail
This piece is different. I can't explain and don't really understand why Mom and I look the same. Is it the strong bond and connection between us? Is it that we are quite a lot alike in many ways? Is it because I've now assumed her role as the matriarch of the family? Is it a visual way of holding onto her, not letting her go, wrapping her into my own identity? Whatever the reasons, in this interpretation of Mom and Me, we are so much the same that I can't tell which line is her and which is me.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, April BJP, Mom and Me
It's been three months since she passed. The raw grief is less now, yet I think of her very, very often. I see a picture of her and catch my breath as it sinks in again that I won't see her in person ever again. Her words and expressions come frequently to my own lips. I miss her in ways I don't know how to express. Life goes on with no mama, in a different, more lonely way.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Living on an island with no access to fully stocked bead shops within 100 miles can be a bummer, especially when I need something for a time-sensitive project.

I've been asked to make a special bracelet (peyote stitch) for a dear friend on a rush basis. I need about 30 transparent green Delica beads. The green needs to be a pure green (not yellow-green, not blue-green) and not real dark. It doesn't matter too much if they are matte or not.

If you have such a thing and would be willing to send them to me, I'd be so grateful. Comment and I'll get you my snail mail address. Thank you, thank you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

March BJP Finished - Difficult to write about....

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP, detail 2011
When you look at this detail picture and the whole piece below, what do you think it's about?

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP 2011

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP
Like all of my BJP pieces this year, the cross represents the intersection between me and something else going on in my life. What do you think this is?

If you have the impression that it has something to do with spirituality, you're right. It's about me and my higher power.

This is a difficult subject for me, ever since my early college years when I abandoned all faith in the Christian church after witnessing several improprieties by the pastor of the Congregational Church where I had been Confirmed. For decades I declared myself an agnostic.

In my 50s, writing and reading poetry, learning Tai Chi, and befriending an artist-shaman who introduced me to the concept of "totem animals," brought me out of agnosticism and into a limbo of vague spiritualism. In this realm, there was no supreme being and definitely no force responsive to me or my needs. Rather, it seemed more like the power of positive thinking. A small force stemming from within me toward good, healing and beauty; a connection to the same force in others. There was a contentment in those years and an optimism I'd never felt before.

After getting married and moving to the small island community where I live now, my connections faded somewhat and I lost spiritual ground. Then, a year ago in March, something happened that will forever change my life... I became aware that my whole life of yo-yo dieting, overeating and binging was a matter of addiction. (I write about it on Words Paint.)

For the first time I grasped that I, alone, can not control my eating, that only if I admit I am a compulsive overeater and yield my will to a higher power, only then might I regain sanity. If you have not suffered addiction, or if you have seen me and seen that I am not morbidly obese, you may think I exaggerate. I do not. Whether dieting or gaining, I constantly thought about food, driven and obsessed particularly by sweets like chocolate, cake, cookies, pastries, ice cream, pie and candy, hating myself for it all the while.

I had no choice. I joined Overeaters Anonymous, became abstinent on the above mentioned sweets, lost about 60 pounds in the past year, and finally began to grapple with the concept of a higher power... faith and serenity, not from within me, but from outside me and available to me. At this point, I believe in a force for good and balance within the universe. I believe this force is what keeps me abstinent, keeps me from falling again into the grip of addiction.

I have tried to illustrate this force in my March BJP, the intersection between me and my higher power. Thanks for reading along... writing this post has helped me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs, as did working on the piece.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Artists Studio Tour... June 4 & 5... More Letting Go!

bead jewelry by Robin Atkins, man-made ruby set
It's been about 5 years since I participated in the San Juan Island Artists Studio Tour as a guest artist in Ev Tuller's weaving studio. This year I've been invited to join fine artist, Cinda Sue Dow, in her studio. I'm excited about this opportunity, as I haven't shown my jewelry for quite a while. This is my page on the Studio Tour site.

And this year, something new! Continuing with efforts to let go of things, I've decided to add some of my more artful pieces, ones that have been featured in books and magazine articles (some are shown below).

Location: from town of Friday Harbor, going toward the fair grounds on Argyle, take a right on Spruce, and then a right on Alder Ct. to 545. Cinda Sue's art will be shown in the garage studio, mine in a detached studio accessible through her garage studio.

Time: The open hours are 10 am to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Drawing: Both Cinda Sue and I will be giving away a prize, so be sure to sign up when you come!

The pictures below show some of my typical jewelry... fibula pins, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, key chains, zipper pulls/cell phone fobs. These are moderately priced ($14 - $75), yet are made from quality materials - sterling silver and gold filled wire, lampwork beads, Swarovski crystals, silver charms, vintage beads and charms. These items make lovely accessories and gifts. I offer free gift packaging.

beaded earrings, fibula pins by Robin AtkinsEarrings and fibula pins featuring beautiful lampwork beads.

beads and wirework by Robin AtkinsFibula pins and wire-worked pendants on variable-length silk ribbons featuring special lampwork beads.

finger-woven treasure necklace by Robin AtkinsFinger-woven necklace featuring hand-made, one-of-a-kind raku porcelain beads.

necklaces by Robin AtkinsI decided to put some of my long-hoarded sterling silver pendants from China, India and southwest USA on silk ribbons. These are definitely unique!

beaded necklace, vintage Chinese beads, by Robin AtkinsThese are vintage glass (lampworked) beads from China. They are a unique lusterous blue color, not available in today's bead market. I've paired them with sterling silver beads from Thailand.

Below are pictures of some of the art pieces, most of which were made to showcase a technique or design/color element for publication in books or magazine articles. I haven't decided on prices for these one-of-a-kind items yet. If you, as a Beadlust reader, are interested in purchasing one of these prior to the Studio Tour, please contact me and we'll figure it out.

I love working with Margie Deeb, author of The Beader's Color Palette. I made 11 pieces which showcase specific color palettes for this book. The 8 pieces shown below will be for sale at the Studio Tour and are page referenced to Margie's book, because her pictures are WAY better than mine!

beaded necklace by Robin Atkins, Air Currents
Air Currents ~ What color is air? How can one make a necklace that represents the nature of air? I chose vintage beads with various finishes in clear, white, light grey and pale blue with a beautiful swirling lampwork focal bead, real pearls, and silver bells on the tassels. Pg. 17

Ring of Fire ~ Inspired by our spring-time, giant burn pile, this off-loom woven bracelet, is a blazing ring of flames. Pg. 20 (I don't seem to have a picture of this piece in my files; I'll take one and add it later.)

beaded tassel by Robin Atkins, Stained Glass
Stained Glass Tassel ~ My assignment for this piece was to create a piece using the color palette of Medieval or Byzantine stained glass church windows. Fun! All the beads are transparent, so hung in a window, the light will come through it and pass it's lovely colors into the room. Pg.44. (Note: This finger-weaving technique is featured in my book, Beaded Treasures, on pages 36 - 39.)

bead necklace by Robin Atkins, Sea To Sky
Sea to Sky ~ The color palette for this necklace is based on a painting by Claude Monet (Morning on the Seine near Giverny) I loved blending the greens to blues to pale lavenders to whites giving close to the same affect as Monet with his paint brushes! This piece features a large, one-of-a-kind, vintage, sterling silver fish and butterfly clasp from northern Thailand in the Golden Triangle area. These two silver pieces, alone, are worth a lot as collector, possibly even Museum-quality, pieces. Pg. 55.

beaded necklace by Robin Atkins, Courtesan
Courtesan ~ The colors and emotional content of this nine-strand necklace are inspired by a Japanese kimono. Many vintage pressed glass, lampwork and gold-filled beads are included. Because the strands are graduated, this necklace will sit comfortably on the chest. Pg. 91.

bead embroidery pin by Robin Atkins, Emperor Penguin
Emperor Penguin ~ The shape and colors of this bead-embroidered pin are inspired by a photo of an emperor penguin with its head tucked down on its breast. I loved the way the yellow feathers showed under the lower edge of the wing. Pg. 129.

beaded dangle bracelet by Robin Atkins
Fancy Dangle Bracelet ~ Everything about this piece was inspired by a colorful sea anemone, the vibrant fuchsia, chartreuse, lavender and ivory colors and the fluidly moving tentacles. Pg. 132.

beaded necklace by Robin Atkins, Festive Time
Festive Time ~ This nine-strand necklace is bold and architectural. It features vintage lampwork and pressed glass beads, some of which can slide along the strand (fun for busy fingers). Bright and happy, it's all about summer fun! Pg. 152.

I guess that's enough to give you an idea, but there will be more, I promise! Hope you can make it to the show!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Something New!!!

Tranquility, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins
First of all, thanks to everyone who made such warm and supportive comments on my last post about my Mom passing away. Every time one of you commented, it bolstered my spirits. I appreciate you all so much for helping me to get through the initial period of grief.

Since she passed, a little over a month ago, I've been hibernating, quietly concentrating on projects, allowing myself time and serenity to remember, grieve and accept. Out of this period has come something new...

Create, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins

I've decided that I need to lighten my load, that maybe it's time to part with some of my beadwork (and other things too). I've kept most of my bead art as samples to show when I teach. Now that I'm semi-retired and not teaching so much, why not let others have it?

To that end, I've been preparing the one-of-a-kind, miniature beadworks created as technique samplers for my book, Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery, to sell. Above, you can see a couple of the pieces. There are 22 in all. Below, you can see my presentation of them, sewn to fabric, stretched over a 3 x 3 inch canvas and mounted on a mini-easel. Each piece is named, signed and dated on the back side.

Hope, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins

Roots, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins
I've actually sold 7 of them already (to locals who knew I was preparing them to sell)! Today I put up a webpage offering the remaining 15 pieces for purchase. If you have any interest, you can check them out here. I'm going to post about this on my Facebook page, but will wait about a week.... That's so you, my wonderful Beadlust followers, can have a head-start.

This isn't the end of it! Eventually, I'll list some woven treasure bracelets and necklaces shown in my book, Beaded Treasures, and a few pieces featured in books by other authors. Who knows, after that, I may even let go of some of my stash.

With deep gratitude, I thank my mother for showing me how important it is to travel with a lighter load in our later years.

* * * * * * * * *
Update, Tuesday morning, April 26...

Thank you Ann S, Anne-Marie B, Diane L and Carol C for choosing a miniature bead embroidery piece for your very own! I am pleased and honored that you will have this part of me among your beady things!

Nine pieces are still awaiting new homes... The webpage listing is current.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I Love You, Mom...

Ferne Cook, Robin's Mom, Spring 2010

Those of you who know me, know that I'm very close with my mom, and that we have maintained our connection even though she was in Minnesota and totally deaf (unable to talk on the phone), while I live across the country in the NW corner of Washington state. She turned 94 this past January.

Mom's Pouch, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins

Over the past three years, as her health declined and I made more frequent trips back to Minnesota, I've cut back on teaching. This year, I also turned the leadership of the Bead Journal Project over to other wonderful and experienced volunteers, so that I could be free to go to my Mom at a moment's notice.

Ferne Cook, Robin's Mom, 2009

The time I've been dreading finally came. Three and a half weeks ago, Mom started showing signs pneumonia, running a fever, no strength, difficulty breathing. They started her on antibiotics. For a while she seemed to be improving, as she has in the past, but then her fever spiked up again. She did not regain consciousness for two days and passed away two weeks ago today. I flew to MN and stayed for a week. We had a beautiful memorial service for Mom, a very sweet tribute to a remarkable woman.

Mom, bead embroidery by Robin Atkins

Now, back home again, I feel that her enormous love still surrounds me somehow, just as my love surrounds her wherever she is. Yet at the same time it's a strange, empty, lost feeling to know I'll never hug her, rub her hands, kiss her, touch her cheeks, or "talk" with her using a dry-erase board again.

Ferne Cook, Robin's Mom, Fall 2010

My April BJP piece will be about my relationship with Mom, as have been several other pieces over the years. I've shown two of them above. I love you, Mom... you, who've I've known and loved for 68 years, are always a blessing to me.