Monday, September 10, 2012

Hands - BJP for August Finished

What would I do without my hands? That's a hideous thought, because all day, every day I use my hands... to bead, to stitch, to knit, to quilt, to type, to garden, to cook, to pet the cat. This year's BJP pieces are all about blessings in my life, and my hands vie with my vision for a spot at the top of the list.

First I made a reduced-size copy of my hand. I think it's about 50 %, but don't recall for sure. I cut out the hand, traced around it on my fabric for the basic hand shape, and drew in the lines by looking at my hand.

Looking through my brighter, warmer colored stash of batiks, I was drawn to a light-yellow fabric with rings of pink, lavender and aqua. It seemed right, although I didn't know at the time why.  It definitely influenced my color choices for the beads, and also the patterns I beaded on the hand.

Here's the finished piece, Hands (2.5 x 3.5 inches, standard ATC size). I called the previous pieces in this series ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), but really they are not, because I do not intend to trade them. They are my visual journaling pieces for 2012, one per month, each one about a life-blessing that seems important to me that month.

Back to my hands. I work improvisationally, without a plan. Sometimes, when the piece is finished, I find meaning in decisions that, when made, were strictly intuitive. Such is the case here, especially when I look at the pattern in the palm. It reminds me of a hand-woven basket, maybe one made by an indigenous crafts-person. It makes me think of my hands as baskets, or perhaps begging bowls, outstretched and open, willing to receive from the universe whatever I need. I love thinking about my hands that way.

There's also something child-like, playful, happy about both the pattern and colors. This makes me remember, with huge gratitude, my childhood teachers:
  • my mom, who taught me to sew very early in life, guiding my hands to make neat, little stitches, and later how to embroider and make my own patterns
  • my grandmother, who taught me to use her treadle sewing machine when I was only 6 years old 
  • my fifth grade homeschool teacher, who taught me origami
These three women blessed me and my hands with their wisdom. My hands are a lot like my mom's were. I often think of her when I notice my hands.

Finally, it's interesting that I chose to include a bone hand charm with an eye on it. So often I think of my hands as a way of seeing, another source of vision. A friend of mine in Hungary, made a beautiful, wall piece that told her life story in textural fiber art and beading. It was one of many pieces made by Hungarian artists for a national art show for the blind, who viewed the pieces by touching them. When I closed my eyes and viewed her work with my hands, tracing and touching lightly over the surface with my finger tips, it was a whole different experience, a whole different way of knowing about my friend and her life's story.

I bet most of you readers can identify with the blessing of your hands. Take a moment to join me in giving thanks for them.

Comment Verification Removal

I guess hackers and spammers are getting better and better, because comment verification has become nearly impossible. Akkkkkkk! I've gotten it wrong and lost my whole comment so many times. Very, very frustrating. Therefore, I've decided to see how it goes without it on my blog. Go ahead - comment with abandon and don't give a thought to figuring out the indecipherable gobbledy-goook at the end!


  1. Oh yes, giving MANY thanks, dear Robin! Having faced the possible loss of part of my hand last year, your meaning here is powerful indeed.

    I wonder what a reading of our "life lines" might reveal??? Being so like my grandma in many (important) ways, I wonder what that might add to my story...?

    So beautifully done...with the thoughtfulness that is only borne from your intuition.

  2. Hi Robin, love your "hand". I agree about being lost without them. I have had times when I could not use my hands because I used them too much, had some kind of inflamation and was bead-less for almost a month. It was the worst!! Glad you are back to beading again, your eyes must be working well for you, Hooray! Happy Day!

  3. This is an incredibly strong piece, Robin, and a striking use of colour as always. I chose 'hands' as the theme of a photo course I did last year. Our neighbours use signing and they express so much emotion with their hands. Chemo left me with neuropathy in fingers and toes and I couldn't hold a needle for months. It's now gone from my fingers, for which I'm eternally grateful. Your piece has spoken to all of us. X

  4. It's beautiful to think of our hands outstretched and open like baskets ready to gather what has been laid out for us. And once we've taken it all in, transforming it through the work and vision of our hands.

    I agree that I think you see with your hands. As do I.

  5. your hand is full of energy to me, emanating its own auras. also, instead of a typical whole body image, i see all the chakras represented in this hand, complete with the 3rd eye chakra in the bone charm. very interesting piece. beautifully done.

  6. You are so right.

    I often outstend my arms and look at my hands and wonder in awe at the ability of my mind to make my hands do what I want them too.
    xx, Carol

  7. Beautiful work and lovely post, Robin. A gentle reminder to think about all those caring hands in our lives that we need to give thanks for.

  8. I love your hand art! This is so meaningful.
    I think we sometimes take for granted our "parts".

    Due to medical stuff, I have hand problems. Surgery has helped, and for that I'm grateful. But over the years I've had to switch mediums 3 times due to losing more and more use of fine motor skills and strength in my hands.

    And no more fine thread crochet, or quilting, or embroidery, etc. I guess I get my fix for that kind of beauty from your gorgeous beading! :-D

    But I can still hold a brush and paint, so I'm happy!

    PS: still here, on my third try at the word verification thingie. They are getting very hard lately; do you really need it?? :-}

  9. For some reason the circular pattern in the fingers does something to me. I can't figure out what.
    Beautiful work.

  10. To All ~ Thanks for your comments and for sharing thoughts about your hands.

    To Lisa ~ Yes, I agree about the auras and the 3rd eye chakra.

    To Grandmommy ~ I think the circular patterns in the fingers are like mini energy emitters, or like Lisa says, chakras.

    To those of you who have (or once had) difficulties that limited the use of your hands, I send you both healing energy and the wisdom to switch mediums like Rettakat has, in order to keep using them.

  11. Another beautiful piece, Robin -- both in its technique and its message.

    I'm so very grateful for my hands. They're one of my favorite things about me, so I try to give them a nice stretch every day. :)

  12. I looked at this and immediately thought that I NEED to do something with hands. This was incredibly inspiring and just what I needed right now. Incidentally, I gave up the spam thingie on my blog and it seems blogger has really improved their catcher, because I've had some weird stuff posted that never gets published - always gets caught!

  13. Once again I write, then click,
    and hope that this will do the trick.
    I'm not a hacker nor a spammer,
    and never would I use a hammer
    to attack your blogging site -
    really, my vest is white.
    Therefore let us hope the best
    for this fourth commenting test.

  14. It worked! I know my previous mistake now: After clicking on the "publish" button, I did not scroll far enough to the right to sign in to my Google account.

  15. Your work is beautiful and your spiitual/emotional meanings and inspiration are wonderful!

  16. This is an incredibly powerful/meaningful piece - the composition is unexpected and it's beautifully beaded too!!!

  17. Beautiful! I'm just in awe of your work!

    As a novice to this kind of work, I have a small technical question for you: Do you bead the outline of the hand in the black beads first? Or fill things in and then do a final outline in black?

    I know when I've dabbled in (thread) embroidery, the outline that makes things pop is the last thing added. But it seems like with beads, you'd have to do that first and then fill in the spaces. Is that right?

    I've got your bead embroidery book, and I've been having a great deal of fun with it simply playing with covered buttons, which are about as big of a canvas as I've got the courage to tackle. :)

  18. Dear Robin, I like your works and web pages a lot.
    I tried open you page
    but it doesn't work.
    Please, could you help.


  19. Robin,
    Looking at your work is always so motivating for me -- I'm honored to be a part of the BJP crowd since its first year (even if I'm woeful behind and rarely even following posts any more - but new year brings new change to my routine!)

    As always, thanks for sharing your art and your thoughts with all of us!



Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!