The first weekend in October I got a wonderful opportunity to go up to Baltimore and meet Robin Atkins in person. I had one of her bead embroidery books before I first heard of the Bead Journal Project. In May of 2007 Robin had the wonderful idea for this project and I was lucky enough to have heard of it in time to join the first year.
The Bead Journal project was were Robin and I first met through each other's blogs and then through e-mails. We liked each other's work and although our work is very different in many ways we are very much alike. (From the picture you can see we both love purple.)
When I found out that robin was coming to Baltimore to teach for the Embroidery Guild I was so excited and wanted to go so that we could meet, I could take her classes and anything else I could do.
I went up on Thursday so that we could meet and bead together. I met her and her hostess Carolyn Everly at Carolyn's house where we played show and tell, talked and beaded. This was the first time I had met someone that I had met online and it was an amazing experience for me. Robin is even more wonderful in person than online.
On Friday we started her 2 day class on Improvisational Bead Embroidery. I got to help set meaning I got to be one of the people to see everything first. Being able to touch and look at all of her pieces in person was just so neat. They look so much better in person. Photos just don't do them justice.
Since I have been doing bead embroidery for about 4 years now I had a good start and having all of her books I had read about the rest of the techniques she was teaching so I had a bit of a head start. There were several techniques or variations that I hadn't tried yet and was excited to try.
Having read Robin's books before I left I was inspired to make a piece while thinking of someone I loved. Sort of a portrait of that person. Since My husband was coming home from deployment in a couple of weeks and I had been thinking of him a lot anyway he was the obvious choice. I picked out a fabric that I loved and that sort of reminded me of him. I decided that I wanted to make something useful that he could use so I chose a box that he could put things into. I made the sides of the box out of EZ-Felt and attached them to the fabric and connected it all together so that I could "work in the round."
I went through my beads, buttons and trinkets to pick out things that felt like possibilities for the piece. The most unusual thing that appealed to me was a slice of wood that Wayne had given to me when he was doing one of his furniture projects. I added a pen drawing of the center of a propeller to it and used acrylic medium to seal it.
On Friday afternoon in the class we got to start our improvisational pieces. Since most of my bead embroidery pieces are representational I usually have to do a fair amount of planning things out at least to start. Working completely improvisationally was new for me and in many ways very freeing. I started with the wood slice and just went from there.
Using some of the techniques and variations of techniques that I was trying for the first time in the class my box looks different than any of my other work but I still have never gotten stuck, when I finish one bit I look through my goodies and something will say "me next" and off we go. I found that I really liked the bugle bead pathways and the short stacks with 8/0s or 6/0s as the bottom beads. On Sunday when we went to Beadazzled I just had to get more 8/0 and bugle beads as well as some other seed beads for this and future projects.
I worked on this piece on Friday and Saturday during class and both evenings with Robin after class as well as Sunday during the day. As you can see from the photos the piece really came along well in just those first few days. Working this way was very freeing.
I didn't exactly plan for the piece to have quite as much of a patriotic feel as it has turned out but I guess 20 years in the military does color your world. I hadn't worked on the piece for the last couple of weeks but worked on it again some yesterday so it is further along than the pictures show.
While in Baltimore I also met Susan Elliot who is also a BJP member as well as all of the other students there. It was a wonderful weekend and so fun and fulfilling and getting to meet and talk to Robin was the best part.