Sunday, January 26, 2014

As bizarre as this may sound, when I first started making these brooches, I had no idea how to finish them as I'm not a seamstress and can hardly sew a button into place.  After spending weeks or even months on one pin, I'm anxious to finish it but at the same time reluctant.  Cutting and gluing isn't one of my strengths as I am not a "crafty" person and have nightmares about a slip of the sizzors undoing hundreds of hours of work.   

But what's the first thing you do when you pick up a piece of hand-tooled jewelry?  I immediately turn it over and inspect the back.  I was determined to put as much effort into finishing it as I had into creating it; like Steve Jobs felt about his Apple Computers, the inside had to be as perfect as the outside or the whole thing was "garbage!"

So began the long process of teaching myself to finish a pin.  I practiced by buying kits of embroidered cuffs from other artist like Sherry Serafini.  If you want to see some amazing work, look up her book on Amazon, Sensational Bead Embroidery.  I had to figure out how to create my own unique backing as my project was a bit different but it gave me the opportunity to practice.  

Long ago I read a book about learning to "manage" your weaknesses without expecting to make them your "strength."  In fact it's still in print if you're interested.  Soar With Your Strengths by Donald Clifton.  It's with this mindset that I approached finishing the backs of my pins and as a result, I'm pretty proud of them when I flip them over!

Praise for managing what I consider to be a "weakness" can do more for my level of confidence than any amount of recognition for what I consider to be a "strength."

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I feel strongly that my intention as I bead is important which is why I don't do anything else while beading like watch TV or listen to an audio book.  I not only want to "listen" to the beads and what they have to say (and believe me, they say plenty) but also want to put as much positive energy into the piece as I can and this isn't possible if I'm doing something else.  

As I finish a piece and start the "separation process", I think of sending it out into the world and what I might do to insure my positive thoughts and energy go with it as it seeks a new home.  

Before sewing the ultra-suede backing into place, I glue a magnet, some fabric lining and a piece of cardboard to the back of the face to give it some stability; a perfect place to write a few positive words of encouragement!  I got the idea from my mentor/friend, Ronna Sarvis Weltman whose amazing work in polymer clay can be viewed on   Ronna will often write loving prayers in tiny script; illegible, squiggly lines that are part of the design.

Do they make any difference?  I have no idea, but if words are powerful when we speak them then why not when we write them even if they are hidden?  

If I assume my intentions and actions make a difference, perhaps they will.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I love the unpredictability of natural beads; you never know exactly what they will do until the needle penetrates the back and the thread is pulled taught.  The same can be said for the glass, Japanese seed beads but they are much more uniform and are more likely to behave themselves!  

I like to think of the beads as living entities; each with a unique personality.  Sometimes a tiny bead just won't cooperate and try as I may just won't allow itself to be scooped up by the needle.  That's when I imagine they might not belong so I go in search of another to pair with the group already threaded.  I know, it's crazy but I like to think each bead is part of a family and has a story to tell but can't tell that story if they aren't placed exactly where they are meant to go.  

I often wonder when a piece has been completed if the message it conveys might not be quite the same if certain beads hadn't been included.  Wouldn't it be possible that the piece might go in an entirely different direction and the outcome unrecognizable to the finished piece I hold in my hand?

Life is similar to beading; small choices made along the way can make a huge impact on the final outcome.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I believe art to be a collaboration of forces in the Universe so I try not to have a vision set in stone when I create a piece.  It's kind of like working with a team of artists of which I'm only one part of the whole; maybe an important part, but nonetheless just a part.  Yes, the vision must be strong enough to convey to my other (unseen) team members, but not so rigid that I reject or ignore their contributions.  When I hold my vision and remain open, they always come up with ideas that, many times, take the project in a direction I could not have even imagined.  This delights me as I'm always pleasantly surprised by the end result and left with the feeling that I'm not too sure who actually created it!    

Lesson:   The more I practice flexibility, the more room the forces of the universe have to shape the the spirit and outcome of my work.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Organic Bead Weaving

I rarely draw a design but rather let the beads dictate the end result.  Sometimes, however, they just don't know where to go and giving them a guideline to follow seems the sensible thing to do.  Other times, I see where I want them to go but the beads have other ideas!  Each piece is a collaboration of mind, body, and spirit; my own AND the glass beads and stones that go into each face pin!