Bead Journal Project

Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of the year

I have spent much of the day working on my January necklace.  I will finish it in January so I think that counts. I am pleased with the way it is looking.  It is fairly close to being completed.  Of course the final test is putting it on and seeing how it hangs and wears.  That may require some revisions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Real World

Tomorrow the real world intrudes in all of my creative fun. Campus is open after the Christmas holiday. I have to prepare to orient a new administrative assistant. I also have to look for materials for a lab I didn't expect to teach. It is the downside of being the chairperson - if I can't find someone to teach a class I get to do it.

On the creative side I do need to take a break from my January beading project. It needs to rest where it is for a few days before I decide how to finish it up. I am thinking about my February project. The two things which got me through this last year were friends and family and my Buddhist beliefs. I haven't quite figured out how to represent my amazing friends, family and students. I have a few inklings of ideas but nothing even close to jelling. I do have a clearer image of "Buddhist necklace.". I bought this remarkable silver pendant. If I can download the image from E-bay I will. It is going to be much more of a statement necklace than I usually make. I want to learn the right angle weave. I really want to learn the cubic right angle weave but we will see how that goes.

I know I am working ahead but my life becomes crazy when classes start. I am also still fighting fighting an endurance problem so we will see how much energy I have for creativity. I need to do something creative every day to feed my soul. What remains to be seen is how much.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Update on January Project - Rethink the Pink

I have discovered a new design tool - the camera on my cell phone.  For some reason I can see the project differently when I am looking at a picture.  I can see the contrasts and flow of color.  With the choker completed I tried to arrange the leaves.  I didn't like the "flatness" of the way it looked on this picture.

So I played around with it some more and came up with this. I liked continuing with a different type of leaf and using the same colors.

That led to this.  I am working on some larger leaves for a focal point in the center.  I like the way it is going on right now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bead Journal Project

One of my favorite Bead Artists is Robin Atkins.  Her blog is Bead Lust, one of the ones I follow.  In 2007 she started a bead journal project - make a project every month, all of the pieces about the same size.  There has to be a bead element in each project.  This year I decided to join it and journal about my past year.  I looked at past journal projects and assumed that I would make pieces about 3" x 3" so they were something I could really accomplish.  I experimented with my first piece and decided that I am not enough of a graphic designer (don't think that way, have a hard time letting a flat piece evolve) to make twelve projects in that format.  I briefly thought about beaded dolls but didn't really want to do that.  I settled on beaded necklaces.  With each necklace I will learn a new technique. 

I have started working on the first piece.  I know that since this is a bead journal about my experiences of this past year different issues with cancer and treatment  will be the focus.  January, though, had be about the pink.  Any woman diagnosed with breast cancer automatically becomes part of the community of pink whether they want to or not.  My reaction to that was "I hate pink."   There is also a lot of controversy within the community about the whole pink thing.  The current name of the first necklace is "Rethink the Pink."  That is subject to change. 

The technique I decided to learn was the St. Petersburg technique.  I had tried to learn it before but never quite nailed it.  The major component will be leaves but each leaf is different.  There will be a couple of leaves with the traditional "breast cancer pink"  but each of us are different so I think each leaf should be different and definitely all shades of pink/burgundy/purple.

I haven't decided if I am going to put any green in it.  Does that make it too trite?  I haven't decided yet.  I also have all kinds and shapes of pearls to incorporate.  Here is a close-up of the leaves and a very simplistic preview of the necklace.  I am not crazy about the shapes of all of the leaves so they may or may not make it into the necklace.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Does It Want To Be?

I have found that there are some projects which have a mind of their own.  No matter how I try to force the piece into what I want it to be it just doesn't happen.  A case in point is the necklace I am currently working on.  Here is my inspiration.  It comes from  I love the colors and the lines.  I am not trying to duplicate the necklace but to make one that has the same graceful feel. 

I put this necklace together and took it apart so many times.  I just can't get it to hang right.  Here is my latest attempt to put it together.  Obviously I don't have the same graceful flow.  It is more square in its lines.  So does this necklace want to stay the way it is or does it want me to redo it again?  How big does it want to be?  It had better start talking soon or I am going on to another project and give it time to think.

I have been doing a beading group with some friends.  Between their globe trotting and my health issues we haven't been together for close to a year.  I get a walking boot on my foot on the 29th.  We are going to get together on the first.  It will be so good to do something normal.  The green beads in this necklace are ones Helen brought me from Beijing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I don't routinely look for or incorporate symbolism into my work.  It is more often about exploration of color and/or texture.  Since I believe that each piece of art has a spirit and knows what it wants to be, sometimes symbolism makes itself know as the piece develops.

The doll that I have included in this blog was symbolic from its inception.  This is my fifth beaded doll.  I completed it last fall.  I had originally made a similar doll with a very bulky body.  While I was working on another doll for a friend I realized how much I liked the more slender profile that she had chosen for her doll.  At the time I was working on losing weight and it seemed appropriate to make a more slender doll.  As I worked on this doll in various settings and with various friends and students I was hesitant to discuss the symbolism with others.  I find symbolism a difficult topic to discuss.  It can sound hokey and sometimes pretentious to others.  It is not in the eye of the beholder but in the heart.

Yellow is the color of  joy for me.  The doll has her arms raised and her body slightly tilted so it looks like she is dancing for joy.  The spiral is an ancient symbol which has many meanings.  The ones that are most relevant to me are the cycle of life and the expanding of the consciousness.  I placed the spirals over the heart chakra and the sacral chakra.  There are all kinds of books and sites which identify the symbolism of the chakras.  Generally the heart chakra is symbolic of emotions, compassion, tenderness, unconditional love, equilibrium, rejection and well-being.  I was thinking of equilibrium and well-being as I worked on this spiral.   The sacral chakra can  be symbolic of relationships, basic emotional needs, and pleasure.  It can also govern creativity,  joy, and enthusiasm.  Since this was a doll about Joy, this seemed very appropriate.  These are all things which I wanted for myself as I was facing the future.

Joy, Heart Chakra
 I wonder if art also has hidden or unintentional symbolism that reveals itself later.  Somebody who saw the doll said they would like one for her sister because she had a mastectomy on her right side.  The spiral over the heart chakra looked like a breast to her.  This spiral is definitely on the left instead of in the middle of the body.  No matter how many times I took it out and started over again, this is where the spiral ended up.  Shortly after I finished the doll I was diagnosed with cancer in my right breast and ended up with a mastectomy. 

Joy, Sacral Chakra
Can art be prophetic?  Has this ever happened to you that your art revealed more than you intended?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


As a reward for completing chemotherapy I ordered myself several beading books.  I decided they would last longer than food.  Books provide me with inspiration for color, lines and components that I then put together in my own projects.  Since color is so much "my thing" I like to be able to hold the books in my hand and look at all of the nuances of color.  Then I go to my bead stash to look at the possibilities.  The actual beads have so much more depth and light.

These three are my favorite of my new books. 

Bead Romantique by Lisa Kan has beautiful, elegant, somewhat elaborate designs.  Although there is some wire work she primarily uses bead stringing.  There are a lot of Swarovski crystals of one shape or another in her designs.  Some are a little flashier than I usually wear.  There are several designs and techniques however that I am itching to explore.  The instructions and the illustrations are excellent.  I am trying to be very disciplined and finish my square face necklaces first.  I am not sure how long that will last.

I ordered some luscious Swarovski pearls some time ago and have not been able to figure out what to do with them.  I have looked at designs on the web and in advertisements.  I have a vision in my head but have not been able to make it into a reality.  I ordered two books about pearls.  The other one uses mostly wire techniques which I am not comfortable with.  This book, create jewelry Pearls by Marlene Blessing and Jamie Hogsett, is just what I have been looking for.  The techniques are primarily stringing although there is some wire work.   I love the elegance of their designs.  And they have pages throughout the book with the heading "did you know."   They provide great pictures and information about the use of pearls throughout history.  I think the problem with my projects is that I just don't have enough pearls.

This is the most fun of my books.  It is Wild Women Stitched Art Brooches by Sarah Lawrence.  I love her use of color, texture and just plain fun attachments.  Personally, I don't wear brooches very often.  I just don't seem to be able to figure out where to put them.  But I think they would be great to make a bunch of little wild women to put on a necklace.  I have all of these ideas of how to make something wild and then seem to bland them down by the time I am finished.  I would like to get in touch with the wild woman in my art.

What do you use for inspiration for your art?  Are you expressing what you want to express?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Things Don't Always Turn Out the Way We Plan

This is the necklace I made for my faculty Jane Hofverberg for her retirement present.  Completing this was quite a struggle.  The original design included three faces - one representing each of the core faculty of the OTA faculty.  I intended for each of the faces to be white on white but significantly different from each other.  

Each face ended up being completed and taken apart several times.  They just didn't feel right so I would start over again.  As frustrating as this is I do seem to design in the moment.  I don't draw well and I find if I visualize in too much detail I am disappointed if I can't carry it off.  When I see it and touch it I can decide if I think it is working or not.

I also could not successfully place all three faces on the choker.  I ended up choosing the face that I Iiked the best to represent Jane's spirit and putting that on her necklace.  The other two faces are going to be necklaces for myself and for Nan, the other faculty member of our team.  Jane actually really liked that idea because it continues to link us together. 

I worked on this project while I was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  Fatigue was such an issue for me that it was a triumph each time I was able to be up long enough to work on it.   I needed those moments that I could focus on something other than illness.  Even though it looks just white there are six or seven different beads in the necklace, some shiny, some matt, some large and some smaller.  The ndebele herringbone pattern of the necklace increases the interplay of light and texture.  The layers on the pendant also add shadow and light to the piece.