2011 Bead Journal Project

For 2011 I decided to make my pieces for the Bead Journal Project 3.5" wide by 2.5" high. This is the size of artist trading cards (ATC's). A lot of ATC's are vertically oriented but I chose to work in a horizontal format since in the previous year I'd worked vertically.

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For January I used a large pewter charm on hand dyed fabric and then piled dyed shell chips all around it. After that I filled in with seed beads and bugle beads. I wanted "Imagine" to be my mantra for the year.


In February I decided to document my love of reading and journaling. I used a cotton text print as my ground. The pencil and Scottie dog are buttons, the book and the arm are charms, and the face is a bead. A few beads and sequins for hair and it felt done!


These first two projects are actually card cases. Below you can see how I closed up the sides with feather stitching. The rest of the year I took the easy route and mounted my work on watercolor paper.


I've had an assortment of pets over the years but never a canary. I wanted a bit of color and life in the studio and, now that I'm living with extreme chemical sensitivities, a canary seemed appropriate. Mr. Bingley came to live with me in March and became the theme for that month's ATC. The ground fabric is a tone on tone music print (very hard to see in the photograph unfortunately). I've duplicated his mirror and bell with an embellished sisha mirror and another bit of dyed shell. The shamrock at the bottom was created with three little flower beads and a few seed beads. In this case I felt the blanket stitch on my sewing machine did a good job of replicating the bars of Mr. Bingley's cage while securing the bead work to the watercolor paper backing.


With the advent of spring I did my gardening in beads instead of in the dirt. Beds of glass and button flowers, a couple of leaf sequins, and the return of the song birds to our backyard.


May's ATC was truly a work of intuition. I pulled some word charms and beads out of my stash and started playing around. The 'joy' charm landed on top of a large sequin heart; the holes lined up perfectly. 'Create' seemed to belong on the left, and my stork scissor charm wanted to be on the right. All that was left was to express the joy of creation visually with an explosion of bugle beads and star sequins!


In June I started with a scrap of a dotted print sent to me by a friend. I simply followed the designs in the fabric, filling it in with short bugle beads, seed beads, sequins, and an eye bead in the very center. Between the eye bead and all the sparkle of the glass and sequins, evil spirits don't stand a chance around this ATC.


Around the corner and down the street from us there was a white haired lady living in a house painted in shades of pink and purple with green accents. It was delightful. In July the house changed hands. The new owners repainted it a gray-blue that literally makes the house disappear from view. I was so disappointed by this change that I had to make an ATC to commemorate the joie de vivre of the original owner. The charms say 'joy,' 'laugh,' and 'inspire' (left to right).


Every other month or so I get together with a couple of artist friends. Occasionally we set challenges for ourselves. This summer it was suggested we each make a piece of art in the medium of our choice, based on our respective husbands. What fun! And the timing was perfect for August's ATC. My husband absolutely loves the skull and crossbones quilt I made for him so I began with the commercial applique in the center. The ground is a piece of wool, his favorite fabric. I'm not sure what the buttons represent, possibly the suspenders he wears. I have a bead soup across the top to indicate the nearly constant cloud cover of the region in which we live (and which he also loves). At the bottom I used some triangular shell beads to make tress and seed beads in giant cross stitches for the rivers around here. He's the whole reason we live up here and not in some more tropical climate. ;- )


My mother had two sisters, one older and one younger. My mother and her older sister have been gone for several years now. The youngest passed away suddenly and without warning in September of 2011. This ATC began with a black cotton fabric. I used letter beads to write out the sister's names and then covered them with a piece of sheer fabric that had been shirred with a felting machine. The sheer is held down with white seed beads and flowers beads in their more favorite colors. Before I secured the edges I added a silver dove under the sheer and the heart sequin on top. The sisters have gone beyond the veil but our love and respect for them remains with us in the present.


In October I started again with a piece of fabric given to me by a friend. There was no specific theme or goal when I started but I really liked the juxtaposition of the elegant pewter lady on the primitive skull and crossbones print. It made me smile. (That's always a good sign as far as I'm concerned.) I added a few glass and pewter flowers to the wreath created by the lady's hair, and the next thing I knew a spider charm had crawled into the picture. Pewter leaf beads complete the composition for "Arachne's Fate."


My local quilt shop had a big sale in the days after Thanksgiving. I bought up some of their leftover Halloween prints and almost immediately began work on a Halloween quilt (for next year!). For November's ATC I pieced together scraps from that quilt to make the ground. A few charms, a few seed beads and bugle beads, a bat button, and it becomes obvious that I'm "Crazy for Halloween."


One day in December I was rereading an exhibit catalog of the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins, an African-American quiltmaker who was born and raised in southeast Arkansas but lived her adult life in Richmond, California. I have admired her work from the first time I saw it in a magazine. This time through the thin volume I picked up on the fact that Rosie Lee had passed away in December of 2006. That's when I decided I would make my December ATC in her honor.

Rosie Lee was actually born Effie Mae Howard. In her later years she very often cross stitched the name 'Effie' onto her smaller patchwork items, usually with dates that were significant to her. In the limited space I had on an ATC I used glass seed beads to write out her name but then used plastic number beads to write out her birth and death years. Rosie worked with recycled textiles a lot. I used a scrap of a man's silk tie for the base of this piece. The red glass triangle beads reference the triangles she often used in her quilts, cut freehand with scissors.

I am very proud of myself because this is the first time in three years of participation in the Bead Journal Project that I've succeeded in making 12 pieces for the year. The question is, can I do it again in 2012? ;- )


1 comment:

Liz E said...


From "joy" to gardening with beads and commemorating special people this series is amazing. Your hands, your heart and your brain work together so well to bring these gifts to life. I found your blog from the 2014 FB BJP page, I'm very glad you are continuing your bead creativity this year!