Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Old Friends

These two old friends occupy the very tip top of the corner cabinet in my studio.  They are leftovers (please don't tell them I called them lefovers!) from my 'art doll' days. 

A long time ago (or so it seems to me) I began making cloth dolls in the 'primitive' style.  As time went on and I learned about the world of 'art dolls' I switched gears and explored art dolls using found objects.  Thus the dolls that you see above.  Made using Altoid tins, paper covered straws, a little polymer clay and bits and pieces of oddities these dolls came to life - looking totally lost among the tea-dyed primitive dolls.  But they were fun to make and fun to show.

As I delved more into art dolls I found that decoupaged paper could be used over plain cloth bodies to make a finish that looked almost varnished.  Once I used fabric as a base I moved on to using fabric as the whole doll, skipping the paper covered fabric.  For several years I had fabric dolls hanging all over the place - and soon they went to shows and were adopted by visitors passing my booth.

Just before our move to western North Carolina I became enamored with book art - and spent five years making books as an art form.  Using paper and fabric and found objects and decorative beading and well, the list goes on an on, I became a book artist.

Through book arts I discovered beaded embroidery, especially encrusted beading and once again my focus switched.  I became passionate about bead work. Beginning with beaded abstract pictures I soon found myself trying my hand at jewelry and sculptured beading and the more I beaded the more I loved it. 

And then...yes back to figures.  I had made an abstract picture and wondered if I could use the same shape, making a back and front to create a figure.  The rest is history! I had come full circle back to 'dolls'.  I'm not sure why I always gravitate to figure work but I seem to find it endlessly facscinating.  

These days, my friends from long ago look down on me from their perch and wait to be introduced to the next figure that will appear from my hands.  Hopefully the glittery beads, elegant faces and detailed beaded stiches won't make my old friends too envious!

"Trust that little voice in your head that says "Wouldn't it be interesting if..."; And then do it." Duane Michals

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's It All About?

As the creative side of my personality has tried to burst through during my lifetime I always pictured myself with ideas and thoughts whirling like dervishes in my brain – then the picture transfers to my hands bringing these ideas to life – almost like magic. Hmmm – in the ‘real’ world my art life doesn’t quite play out like that.

I do have the ideas whirling in my head, but not all the time, sometimes it is an effort to search them out – like they have been put into a cupboard and I have to first find the cupboard and then remove all the cans and bottles that are stored there before finding this little idea crouching in the back corner.

Once I have the idea the ‘work’ part of the process surfaces. I often think that people viewing a piece of art have the concept (at least in the back of their mind) that the artist just thought up the idea and slapdash it was a finished piece. In reality, art is WORK!  It takes time and skill and patience and effort.

While I would love to be able to create my work ethereally – just sit down, stitch beads and say voila – it doesn’t work that way. Developing the skill to be able to not only stitch beads in place (so that they stay there) but to expand my knowledge with each piece is part of the joy of having the idea to begin with. I guess in some ways I’m more a craftsman than an artist. I love to try new stitches, to see what colors work with what other colors, to figure out how to stitch a figure design so that it conveys the whole original concept. In other words - I love the 'process' as much as I love the original concept. To put beads on and take them off when they don’t work - to start with one color only to find that it doesn’t please me or convey the design I had in mind – these are challenges that I gladly accept.

There is a passion to being a ‘working artist’ that greets me each day and I guess truly that is 'what it is all about’.

"The days you work are the best days." - Georgia O'Keefe

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome Spring!

No spring has been as welcomed as this one, this year!  Time has warped throughout winter making not only the gray, cold, snowy days long and dreary but each week, each month cried out for sunshine and warmth and SPRING!

So here it is -- I intend to keep winter in my heart as an impetus toward more walking, more being outdoors this spring and summer and fall.  I will remember the snowbound/icebound/housebound days of this winter and get outside as much as possible.  Perhaps I'll even move my beading out onto the porch - just to soak in the warmth and the green and the freedom of being able to do so.

I share with you this picture -- doesn't it look like a shiny green egg?  Actually it is a green bottle that someone left in the woods.  Look carefully through the glass and you will see tiny, bright green leaves.  A plant of some sort has taken hold inside the bottle and offers this beautiful treasure in the middle of a pile of leaves and winter debris. 

So now that the earth is revealed and sprouts are sprouting and bits of plant life are peeking ever so carefully from beneath a layer of fall leaves -- I intend to soak in the warmer weather and to walk oh so delightfully into spring. 

"Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment". - Ellis Peters

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breathe - March BJP

Taking a deep breath - I present 'Breathe' - my March BJP.  I had much joy working on this month's 'bookmark'.  As March came into being I put February and all its ups and downs behind me.  Of course it helped that except for one large, wet snow on March 2nd our weather has been mild.  It helped that the temperatures were not in the 20's (or below) and that I have been able to get out and walk most days.  It helped that the sun greeted me through my studio window more mornings than not.

As I read the definitions for 'breathe' numbers 3 and 5 in my dictionary spoke to me most clearly:  breathe to live; exist - and breathe to pause, as for breath; take rest.  What gremlin put that particular word into my hand when I reached into the jar toward the end of February?  I thank him/her as this was a much needed word!

Because of the onset of spring the various shades of green that greet us when we step outdoors (or that sit above my work table in the shape of beads) had to be used.  As I worked on this piece my mind took me into the woods of the mountains here in western North Carolina -- on paths that I've walked many times and on new paths as yet undiscovered by me. 

One of my beading quests this year has been to learn new-to-me stitches.  For this project I utilized the following stitches:  backstitch, chain stitch, peyote, half pekinese, moss stitch, shaded satin stitch.  Who knew so many different types of stitches could be placed on such a small piece of work!

"Breathe.  Allow yourself the luxury of doing nothing for a moment, or an hour, or even a day.  It is in emptiness that inspiration will happen." - Carol Katchen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Embroidery Stitches - in beads

One of my beading goals for this year has been to learn new beaded embroidery stitches.  To this end I purchased the book "Embeadery" by Margaret Ball.  In this book the author demonstrates traditional embroidery stiches using beads.  Because my focus is encrusted beading, I was especially interested in the stitches which 'cover the background' - those stitches where none of the backing shows through. 

What fun this has been -- to be able to add to my repertoire of stitches and learn new skills along the way.  A friend and I got together and using this book made up a couple of sample pages.  This was an excellent way for me to practice (without doing it on a 'real' piece of beadwork) and to find out which stitches would serve my purposes (for there are many, many stitches in this book).

We chose a stitch and then beaded it until we had figured it out.  In my opinon there are two things that could have made this book easier to use.  One - spiral binding so that the pages would lie flat.  I have to put something heavy on one side of the pages to hold the book in place as I read the directions and practice the stitch.  Two -the color pictures of the finished stitches are all together in one section - at the end of the beading instructions - it would have helped a lot to have a color picture beside each example rather than having to flip back and forth to make sure your sample looks like it should.  But - for ideas and instruction this book is wonderful.  So far I have used the shaded satin stitch and the half pekinese (one of my all time favorite stitches) in my March BJP and am using several other new-to-me stitches in a figure that I am presently working on.

Constantly learning is one of the true delights of life -- yes sometimes its scary, yes sometimes it doesn't work out the way I thought it would, yes, sometimes it takes extra time -- but when I'm done, when I've mastered a new skill or acquired new tools to use its thrilling.

"Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers." - Mignon McLaughlin

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ribbons and Fibers - oh my!!

I sit here, holding these oh so colorful ribbons and fibers in my hands.  The colors intermingle and I am in heaven!  This batch of beauties came to me via Ribbonsmyth and I was so happy to receive them.  I have a space in my studio where ribbons and fibers hang over dowel rods but when I first receive a batch of them I cannot bare to hang them in their oh so proper place - at least not until I've run my fingers through them and soaked in their colors and textures.  The varigated ribbons are my favorite - sometimes the color combination fills me with ideas.  In this particular batch there is a varigated ribbon with the combination colors turquoise, brown and cream.  Now isn't that a lucious mix and one that will be stirring around in my brain until I can figure out how to use it on a beaded piece. 

Some artists go to the local paint store and collect chips of paint to get ideas for color matches and blends and contrasts.  That is a great idea, and certainly a lot less expensive than buying packets of ribbons and fibers BUT the fluidity of the ribbons and the texture of the fibers fills me with the anticipation of using that blend.  I'm a pretty tactile person - I want to touch it - I want to feel it - I want it to drape across the palm of my hand.  So lucky me -- to have just gotten a whole new batch of inspiration.

"Inspiration can come from any direction, but only you can tap into it." - Faith Puleston

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh What Fun!!

I love to buy beads locally -- BUT delicas are very hard to find around here -- especially in all of their wonderous colors.  So, its off to the internet to place an order.  My very favorite place for bead shopping on-line is Fusion Beads.  They have a wonderful selection of delicas (and other things). As I place my order I have to keep returning to my shopping cart and weed it out as it gets fuller and fuller.  Ordering delicas is so easy from a color stanpoint as they may be ordered by color or by number.  I always save a few beads of any color, with its color number, so that when I reorder I will get exactly what I want. 

Above is a picture of a recent order that I received -- what fun to delve through those small packages reminding myself as I go exactly what I had in mind when I ordered that particular color and imagining designs I'd never thought of before.  Its very true that 'good things comes in small packages'!!

"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment." - Claude Monet

Friday, March 5, 2010

Decorated With Ice

So much has been going on in my life these past few weeks that I am just now getting out pictures of a beautiful sight that greeted me on one of my winter walks.  Walking has been more of an exception than a daily pleasure lately.  Our weather has not been conducive to walking (or even driving). 
But one day, a few days after an ice storm I was able to get myself out and about.  The first thing that greeted me as I walked out the back door was a walk covered in what looked like bits of glass.  It was ice that had blown off the trees and bushes.  It looked like someone had broken hundreds of panes of glass.  Then as I walked I heard the tinkle of 'glass' above me.  Looking up into the tree branches I saw the sparkle of ice hanging from every branch.  As I walked bits of ice would trickle down amongst the branches of the trees, landing on the ground below.

It was a magical sight to see - the sun sparkling on the bits and pieces of ice which still hung from the trees.  I know it is treacherous and I know it causes a lot of damage but still it was a beautiful sight as I trudged up the hill enjoying one day free of snow/ice/sleet or rain.

"When all is said and done, the weather and love are two elements about which one can never be sure."- Alice Hoffman

Monday, March 1, 2010

The First of March

Yes, it is the first of March and I'm happy to be showing you that I've already begun my March BJP.  The word for this month is 'breathe'.  I was so very inspired when I took this word out of my word jar.  After the frustrating, exasperating, never ending winter we've had -- I'm very, very happy to see March arrive.  Not that we won't have more winter weather but at least with the arrival of March I know that spring is just around the corner.  The word 'breathe' just seems to fit this month so well. Thinking of spring and the word 'breathe' the color green comes to mind -- so you'll see quite a bit of that in this BJP as I continue on with it.

In my dictionary I find that the word 'breathe' has no less than 15 different definitions.  Wow - that's a lot!  The first definition is 'to inhale and exhale air; respire' but for this posting I'll give you definition number three - 'to pause, as for breath; take rest'.  I love that definition.  I shall take deep breaths, finding my center once again as I continue to bead March's BJP.

"We breathe, we think, we conceive of our lives as narratives." - Christopher Lehman Haupe


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