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.