Friday, October 30, 2009

An Inspired Collection

Do you keep little things around that inspire you? I certainly do - in fact I have not one, but three dishes on my work table into which go items that please me, that help to stir my creative juices.

The first is a ceramic dish which I happily bought from a local potter during a studio tour. This dish holds all of my 'natural' wonders. A shell picked up at the beach on our last trip to Charleston; acorns picked up on my walks last fall; a feather also picked up on one of my walks. Then there is a piece of quartz with its shiny pointy things (obviously this is not a scientific definition) and more shells.

The next dish is wooden, part of a set picked up at a thrift shop. This smallest of the dishes holds little metal pieces that I have picked up along the way. In the back of my mind one or more of them will become part of a beaded piece but for now they sit there teasing me with their presence.

This wooden dish is much larger and it holds precious cabochons. Oh the inspiration in this dish! Some of these cabs are simply flat stones that I have collected, others are 'real' cabochons purchased at favorite bead shops. All of them whisper to me as I go about my daily beading.

Is there a bit of the magpie in each of us, the part of us which cannot imagine leaving a penny on the ground? Perhaps the love of beads and beading fulfills that need to capture the shiny and hold it in our hands.

I constantly add to these collections, and hope that I always will. Sometimes I even take one of these beauties and incorporate it into my beading -- but if I never did that, if they lay there forever just for my pleasure that would be okay too.

"Observe the wonders as they occur around us." - Rumi

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Falling for Fall

I'm reveling in the beauty that surrounds me at this time of the year.  Fall brings with it colors and scents and sounds and feelings so particular to this time of year. 

Color - how many colors are seen during a walk in the woods?  Colors that only appear for a short time each year.  Colors to savor and remember later on when the trees have lost their leaves and the colors are mostly grey, black and white. 

Scents - the scent of stew cooking in the crockpot, of freshly poured tea awaiting its first sip, of cider and pumpkins and cinnamon and every manner of warm smells.

Pictures - because I know that fall won't last as long as I would like it to I must take picture after picture.  Pictures of the changes in the woods, of the blue sky peeking through coloring leaves. 

Sounds - the crunch of leaves underfoot as they pile up everywhere.  This is a Fraser Magnolia leaf - at least 15" long.  Its HUGE!  During the spring and summer we are blessed with beautiful white flowers - during the fall we find these large leaves on the ground, dwarfing all the leaves around it.

Feelings - who can resist the feeling of a cool, crisp October day.  This is a day to wear my favorite sweater, to sit with a cup of tea on the porch looking out over the ever changing woods beyond. 

This is fall!!
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

Friday, October 23, 2009


After completion of the white glove I had to decide how to display it. Display was never a problem for me when I was creating book art -- finish the book, stand it up and voila!! However for beaded pieces the display is a whole new world for me. As I beaded the hand I had the thought that this was a bride's glove and I wanted to display it to portray that kind of image. I had pictured the glove laying on top of a vintage wedding invitation which was in turn atop a vintage plate. I was never able to find a vintage wedding invitation - but I did find an old photograph of a bride and groom. The bride is wearing white gloves and holding a bouquet of pink flowers.

Now to the plate -- which I found at a local shop "Honeysuckle Hollow". The owner makes these serving plates by affixing old plates to glass bases. The one I found had pink flowers on it which was perfect. While in the shop the owner suggested that I might want to make a small beaded heart to place in the palm of the hand - good idea!

What started out as a vague idea of what to do with this long term project became a romantic assemblage. Don't you love it when your art takes on a life of its own and becomes what it wants to be?

"Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words." - Plautus

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Give Me A Hand

At long last my white glove/beaded hand project has come to an end. For this particularly monumental project I did count the hours - 96 from start to finish. I began this project on January 26, 2009. Of course after the first 46 hours when I had only finished the fingers and my own fingers were raw, it sat on its tray for a long while.

As a learning experience this one was a 'pip'!! I certainly learned a lot about beading on a sculptured object. I stuffed the hand as I went along but working on a piece that is already stuffed can be limiting to the kinds and styles of stitches you can create. Stitching through the kid leather was a little difficult at times but not as bad as I had thought it might be. Using all white beads was another challenge. At times my eyes felt like they were crossing trying to decide which white beads I'd already used, which white beads I wanted to use next and heaven forbid any 'bead soup' because it was impossible to separate them out if they got mixed up (and I have to admit that at times they did get mixed up).

Since beginning the work on this project I have received several kid gloves as gifts but I have to tell anyone who has given them to me that I probably won't be doing another one of these for a long, long time!

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Emile Zola

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Time to Ponder

As I enter into this 'quiet' time of the year I find that prioritizing is definitely a 'must' for the coming year.  Having just completed the Studio Tour my inventory is a little lower and there is a major show coming up in May.  How to get many pieces done before that date?  It seems daunting at 4 am when my eyes snap open and my mind starts churning.  I have made up a list of types of pieces that I want to have finished by that 'deadline' and it will mean that I will have to focus, focus, focus.  At the same time I want each piece to reflect my inner self - not an arbitrary deadline. 

Time, time, time - that's what I need! Perhaps the answer to the dilemma of working under a time constraint and still putting my heart and soul into my work is to take it one day, one hour, one bead at a time.  I may fret and worry when I'm not beading but I won't allow myself to fret and worry when I am beading.  That is my time - time to wrap myself in my studio sanctuary, to study the beads and listen to what they say to me, to savor the colors that surround me and take each stitch carefully.  And so I tell myself that everything will get done - but the most important thing for me to remember is that each finished piece be a representation of my dreams and aspirations.

"Events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation". - Eudora Welty

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Beading Year

After many months of preparation the 2009 Open Studio Tour is over. Two days of magic, when visitors came to visit my studio and to see what my busy hands have been creating. It was great fun to see friends and to welcome strangers. The weather could have been much better – apparently my ‘sun’ dance didn’t work - but it was dry and cozy inside. It is always such fun to introduce people to my work. I had a few pieces of my book art from previous years on display for those who were not familiar with book art. But for me the most exciting part was to share my beading of this past year. It was a year ago that I began bead art and as you know from reading here, once started I didn’t look back. I’ve gone from the first picture that I created to trying jewelry, other pictures and even beaded sculpture.

Now is a good time to sit back and reflect on the past year, the pieces that I’m proud of (I know that because I want them to sit in my studio forever) to those that I’m not quite as enthralled with. This past year has been a wonderful journey – sometimes frustrating, sometimes thrilling – and all of the time just what I wanted to do. As I’ve gone through a year-long learning curve I’ve also felt that I was just where I was meant to be. It has been that feeling that has pushed me forward and tempted me to try things that I never dreamt I could try.

And for the coming year? I have the BJP to look forward to and I’m currently working on a new-to-me beading project. I have another sculpture waiting for me and who knows what else this coming year will bring. I hope you will walk this art journey with me and learn about each piece and its inspiration as I go along.

"Feel yourself being quietly drawn by the deeper pull of what you truly love". - Rumi

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ready, Set, Go!

These have been hectic days for me.  As a matter of fact, the last six months have been pretty hectic as it pertains to the Open Studio Tour for artists in Henderson County (North Carolina).  I was on the steering team which meant that meetings and preparation began last March.  Finally, things settled down after the brochure had gone to the printer and I could focus more on my own studio which would be part of the overall tour. 

I completed a couple of the larger projects I'd been working on and started some less time consuming pieces to place on the shelves.  As I was finishing up the last of these I decided that perhaps I should have some even less time consuming (translate lower priced to the visitor) pieces.  And so I created these 'trinkets'.  They are beaded front and back and then hung on silk ribbon.  Thanks to the instructions in "Beaded Embellishment" I was able to use the spiral stitch on each piece.  I made a variety by choosing three different shapes and several different colors.  I admit that when I started my goal was to make 12 -- just to have them hanging and as an option to the more expensive pieces -- but time, my finger tips and the fact that I'd spiral stitched my way through 8 pieces I decided that it was time to say 'enough'.  So I only ended up with eight.  Perhaps the next 'brilliant' idea I come up with won't be at the last minute.

Here is a picture of one of my shelf units -- I have hung the 'trinkets' from pegs and have set out some of my beading.  My most precious collection of silk ribbons and other fibers takes up the bottom area.

The nice side effect to all of this hullabaloo is that my studio is quite neat and tidy now with everything 'in its place' (for now) and I'm ready to greet visitors this weekend. 

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now." - Alan Lakein

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taking The First Steps

Each journey begins with the first step. What better symbol of this thought than to create a bead sculpture baby shoe. The first shoe was an infant size 2 cloth shoe in the form of a ‘sneaker’. This project was one of the first almost all Delica bead pieces that I have made. I did bead the sole of the shoe using seed beads because they seem to work better in a larger beading area.

Of course once I had created one shoe I had to make a second one. Not matching shoes mind you – that would be no fun! This time I chose a Mary Jane shape. The original shoe had a ribbon across the top instead of a strap. Off came the ribbon and a strap was made . Stitching through all the layers to hold the strap onto the shoe was 'interesting' (not so to my fingers however).

When I make several of the same type of piece I like to make odd numbers – don’t know why, but they seem to show better if the numbers are odd. So I’m sure number 3 shoe will be on my work table any day now...
            "The distance is nothing, it is only the first step that is difficult."- Madame Marie deu Deffand

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beaded Journal Project

I have been waiting a year for this very day -- the day that I join the 2010 Beaded Journal Project. Last year I was a beginning beader and only found out about the BJP after the deadline. Probably a good thing since I had no idea what I was doing at that point and really wasn't ready to take on a monthly journal project. But I am ready now!!!

In previous years the BJP has run from September to September. To show you how much I was looking forward to this adventure I figured out what my project would involve way back in July. I decided to utilize my love of words and also make an homage to my book arts days. Thus, I selected a bunch of words, typed them on paper, cut out strips, carefully folded each strip (word) and put it in a glass bottle on my work table. From this bottle I determined to take a word each month and make a bookmark to reflect that word. The beginning date for the 2010 BJP is now January and I can assure you that even at this point I have no clue what words I chose back in July so beginning in January I will be surprised (and probably challenged) by the word I pick out. No picking and choosing is allowed - whatever word comes into my hand is the word of the month and I must work with it.

All year long I have 'lurked' on BJP blogs and websites and read the postings and comments - sort of like a child standing in front of the candy store window and looking in. Now I shall be part of it all. This won't be easy - everyone is so talented, so imaginative and so skilled that it will be a real challenge for me but one that I'm looking forward to with great glee. Just think - the door of the candy store has opened and I've taken that first step across the threshold.

"Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure." - Alfred North Whitehead


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