Sweet, sweet spring


An explosion of petals everywhere I look!
How I love this time of year ....

purple-leaved plum in the parking lot at the post office

variegated dogwood, 'Blue Muffin' viburnum, 'Midnight Masquerade' clematis, and a
spritely pink volunteer aquilegia in the front garden

a rose and her bud in the back garden

street rose gone wild behind the grocery store in Friday Harbor

and my favorite petal of all, snoozy in the back of the car,
riding with her new cotinus bush ['Royal Purple' all a'bloom]
and baskets from the Thrift
for the new studio digs  ...

More on that wonderful story in the coming month.

to all my pals in the northern hemisphere
(and a beautiful autumn to you southerlies)


bead sketches : month four


April's quartet ...

which felt more like a kind of poem evolving than a
weekly exercise in making;
more like a continuous thought that moved quietly from
one color palette to the next - which I will explain further 
at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado ...

Once again I'll note the source, or the word prompts, or where my inspiration came from
below each photograph (with links, if applicable).    

~ New beads! called 'Rose Petals,' which started as an exploration of mandalas but grew into
a green study revolving around this term  ~

~ I wondered how I might create a different twist on an old tradition ... ~

~ Off-loom bead weaving can be an incredibly meditative activity & a welcomed mental state of
mind it was this month, so I included a short journey with the freeform version of
this stitch in order  to practice mixing bead sizes & shapes  ~

~ In March of 2015, I had rather an amusing *failed* attempt at dyeing with madder and only
achieved apricot colors.  Since then the shade has grown on me & I've wanted to use some of
that cloth in a beaded piece.  A water-inscribed twig of driftwood, some pearls

: : : :

Now, about that evolving thought I mentioned earlier ...
I didn't realize until I took this quartet outside to photograph her that there is a certain
running through this batch that I haven't seen in the others.  This month
feels like one cohesive journey tied together by an invisible equilibrium.  Am I 
making sense?  Its as if I'm starting to work out some triteness, some of those cliches that
crop up when doing improvisational bead work.  There was definitely more of an ease this
month, a kind of level of intention that never left me.  It's hard to explain but let me tell you
what I did at the beginning of the month:
I drew a card ...
a prompt card from my dear friend India's "wander cards for wonderers."
The words were
I kept them in front of me on the beading table for the entire month.

It is where I held my focus.

And from that came a great, soothing calm
along with an unmistakeable affirmation to keep paying attention
to that which is most important.

: : : :

To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


bead sketches : month three


March was a bit wild, not the least of which was the unrelenting rainfall
which definitely set my teeth on edge by month's end (all time records were broken for Seattle!)
but did make for cozy hours at the beading table and a guilt-free frame of mind
as I watched the grass grow another foot taller and didn't have to mow it.

So now there's 12 ...

March's collection - month three of my '52 weeks : bead sketches' project - was more challenging
than earlier months due to paper wrangling one week and found object attachment issues
the next ... but part of the joy of this project is continuing on no matter what.
Nothing has to be perfect.
I can change my mind right in the middle of a bead pattern
because these are "idea" squares ... itty bitty templates for trying on a new dress, 
so to speak.  And it's all about the process, not about the finished product.

I've said it before - this adventure is so  freeing.

There was quite a lot of positive feedback last time about posting my inspiration each week,
so once again I'll note the source, or the word prompts, or where my ideas came from.
They are written below each photograph with links, if appropriate.

~ followed two simple questions: how might I create  texture  on those triangles
& what kind of edge treatment(s) might compliment the graphic elements? ~

~ thinking about an homage to "broken wings" inspired by THIS IMAGE ~

~ one glorious evening I bought a marvelous tome, wrapped in a paper bag,
from this [in]famous BOOKSTORE 

~ contemplation of leaves in the last line of THIS

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


Her, with the camera


~ vintage photo, early version of stereo camera designed to take stereoscopic images ~

Do you remember your first?
I do.  It was a box Brownie, bright pink plastic and I thought it was the cat's meow.
That probably was the start of everything.

Later, during college years, I collected a hoard of old relics, stacked them
on a bookcase in my tiny studio and if they were lucky
I even dusted now and then ... similar to this collection below
although not near as tidy.

~ photo collection courtesy of Flickr ~

I've simplified since then and only "collect" online images of these antiquities
 - far less space involved & no cleaning required -
and the subject matter is mostly women  using  cameras.
Don't ask why that started cuz I just don't know.

But here's some favorites ... all females, using the *tool* of the day.
Where am I going with this?  I hope it will become clear in the end.
I'm thinking these pictures may be good food for thought because
these glimpses back in time could spark a few potent thoughts about  now.

In no particular order than just because I like them ...

~ Kodak girl, 1909 ~

~ Photojournalist, Margaret Bourke-White with her camera during WWII assignment,
Time Magazine. Favorite quote: "Work is something you can count on, a trusted,
lifelong friend who never deserts you." ~

~ Myrtle Lind, posed with Graflex camera, 1919, Library of Congress ~

~ American, Berenice Abbot, portrait behind a view-camera, early  1900s.
Specialized in architecture & urban street photography ~

~ Georgia O'Keefe with her new Leica, New Mexico, by Todd Webb ~

~ Jessie Tarbox Beals, pioneer photographer working Worlds Fair, 1904.
"Her trademarks were her self-described 'ability to hustle' and her tenacity in
overcoming gender barriers in her profession." First female night photographer. ~

~ Patti Smith, with one of her Land Poloroids, circa 1960s ~

~ Maiko girls (Apprentice Geisha) with camera, Japan, postcard mid 1920s ~

~ Documentary photographer, Dorothea Lange, working on 'Dust Bowl' series, circa 1936.
Favorite quote: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." 
I've had a framed postcard of this image in my room for over 30 years - such spirit ~

~ Women holding Kodak cameras, Ideal Home Exhibition, 1971, Eastman Kodak 
eyeeee, the hot pants! ~~

~ Elizabeth Taylor with a Rolleiflex, photographer unknown ~

~ vintage photograph, little girl with her camera, circa 1910, from Flickr ~

~ Mary Ellen Mark, self portrait with Marlon Brando, 1979 (set of 'Apocalypse Now').
Known for in-depth documentary projects and portraiture - Time Magazine called her
a "humanist" photographer.  My teacher for one life-altering workshop, 1985. ~

~ Woman holding early Kodak camera, 1895. The camera was sold with
the film already loaded.  The entire camera was returned to the  factory
for film processing. Hulton Archive, Getty Images. ~

~ Diane Arbus, Central Park, 1969.  Noted for photographs of marginalized people.
Photo, Gary Winogrand ~

~ Climbing pioneer, environmentalist, and feminist, Miriam O'Brien Underhill,
Chamonix Aiguilles, France, 1929. To scale this center ridge she held her camera between
 her teeth.  She was the first woman to conquer the Matterhorn, along with other 
challenging peaks. On these treks she climbed only with other women - famously known
as "manless Alpine climbing." ~

~ Imogen Cunningham, circa 1970s. Prolific American photographer known for
her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes.
Proponent of "sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects." ~

~ College girl recording her experiences in yearbook photos, date unknown ~

~ Margaret Bourke-White, top of the Chrysler Building, New York, NY 1935 ~

~ Edwardian woman, c. 1900. Possibly the world's oldest documented "selfie"
taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera ~

Which brings me back to the beginning of this story 
and that pink plastic Brownie camera ....

This morning I read a blog post by one of my favorite  male  photographers,
David du Chemin, called  'The Place of Craft.'  He always seems to arrive at the heart of
the matter, no matter what subject he chooses to speak about.  Now, although his post is
aimed at photographers - the craft of photography - one could replace that word with ANY
other artistic discipline and his thought provoking words could still be applied.

Here's why [aside from the fact that many of them produced incredible work]
I've put up a truckload of images of women using the cameras of their day,
and why the *tool* is not the point at all.
Not yesterday ... and not today.
Excerpt from du Chemin's post:

Make your art with the tool you have. Use a Polaroid or a RED camera. Use film or digital. Use Leica lenses or Lensbabies. Create abstracts and impressionistic studies of shape and colour, or stunning landscapes that are tack-sharp @ 400%, but don't kid yourself - it's not sharpness that makes it great. It never has been. Humanity doesn't need more sharpness. That is not one of the things for which we hunger. We hunger for beauty, and meaning, for stories, and for love - among other things, things that are communicated visually through light and composition - through our use of balance and tension and movement and scale and colour and a hundred other things that you can't buy in the B&H catalog, and won't be found in the manual of your new camera, no matter how much money you spend, no matter how much better your camera is than mine. We get it. Hell, every one of us has right now, at least one camera that's better than what every photographer who created a truly iconic image before the year 2000 ever had. You can make sharper, larger, cleaner images than any of them, together, ever made. And you know who cares?

: : :


bead sketches : month two


And now there are 8 ...

February's collection - month two of my '52 weeks : bead sketches' project - is finished.
More playing relentlessly,
more diving deep,
more showing up faithfully.

I also did a lot of wondering about why I haven't imposed 
a project like this on myself before.  In truth I suppose because the time is NOW
and I wasn't where I needed to be to take this on before now.

Just showing up to do the work has great benefits.
I'll write more on that subject later as thoughts solidify, but for now
I've an amazing sense of freedom with this work / play
that I've never, 
had before.
There's surely a lesson in this approach for me
although I can't put it all into words yet.

For this month I thought it might be of interest if I noted where
my inspiration, or word prompts, or weekly idea came from.
They are written below each photograph with links.

~ bugle bead inspiration arose from HERE ~

~ exploring some thoughts about THIS ~

~ describing in materials the meaning of THIS PHRASE ~

~ experimenting with the pattern of THESE ~

Feels  so good  to be back with my beads.

: : :
Postscript:  A few hours after I published this post I came across some
excellent words that seem to fit right in so I've come back to note them.

You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than you tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough. You need to let timing do what it needs to do. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s
right now  becomes inspiration later.

: : :

To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,



The most important voice


~ Dream Boat, River Tay, Scotland ~


Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people's questions,
don't let them
smother something

To find
another's voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don't follow
someone else's
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don't mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

~ David Whyte, from "River Flow: New & Selected Poems"


bead sketches : month one


When I wrote the following on Dear Flora last month,

"Something new for what is feeling like a glorious new year on the horizon.
Thought it might be time to embark on a yearlong adventure ... 52 weeks
of 3-inch squares and the discovery of all the tiny worlds I can create
within them. I have no idea where this is going,
but go I must ... "

what I didn't mention was that I was going on this journey mainly to
play with beads again.  We'd taken a break, my bead family and I.  You know how it is
when you have to step away for a while in order to come back with fresh eyes,
a renewed heart?

I'd been away for so long that many new bead varieties had hit the markets without me
and I'd been growing steadily more curious about how to integrate them
into bead embroidery work.  Compound this with all the hand dyed
cloth I'd been amassing, explorations with paper, metals and all sorts
of sundry textiles and what was building felt nothing short of a crisis of making ...
I needed to dive.
I needed to stop dreaming and start doing.

For the last year or so I've noticed myself being attracted to the projects
of others who'd committed themselves to creating something/anything on a steady schedule.
Committed.  Key word.
Schedule.  Key word.
Be they daily poems or sketches, weekly paintings or mixed media collages, 
even a gorgeous pair of knitted socks per month, folks were dedicating themselves to
show up ... do the work.  Best of it was, they were gaining much from 
this kind of discipline.  They talked about it - they were having breakthroughs.
Their new creative "habit" was renewing confidence &
providing fertile ground for inspiration.
This, to my mind, was a healthy choice of how to invest ones time.

So I had a good long think about what I could stomach doing for the long haul.
Having really blown it in the past was actually helpful for not setting goals
to outrageously out there ... 20/20 hindsight & all that.
Size was going to be critical.  Beads are [mostly] tiny little pretties
and the last thing I wanted was a demanding blank space shouting, "Fill me up!"
So learning from a previous 6-inch disaster I first cut the size in half.

Another extremely important aspect of setting parameters was allowing
for the element of  play  ... I did not want to produce a *finished* square each week.
Instead, how freeing to simply play with ideas & materials
and just see where that took me.
Hence the name, bead sketches - not particularly clever, but to the point.
Without the pressure of having to finish something each week I found
month one an extremely enjoyable enterprise.  As each new week rolled around I
picked up whatever caught my fancy in the moment & started from there.
I wondered what would happen if I paired this with that,
then tried it.  I experimented with edge treatments & extending beyond
the exact space while allowing the materials to dictate the direction.
There were mess-ups - like joining methods, thread issues, fabric limitations -
which sent the beads all wonky-doodle ...
but I sure know a lot more now then if I'd never started.

Little templates to explore some ideas every week.
Slow and steady ... just show up.
Play relentlessly.

I'm really liking how this feels.

It would be immensely enjoyable to hear about your experiences.
If you are someone who's ever [or currently] embarked on a daily, weekly,
even monthly practice, your comments about the process are most welcome here.
If you'd like to share a link where we can come and see what you made during the process,
please do.  I think the sharing could be very advantageous indeed.

Thank you for stopping by.

"I have no idea where this is going, but go I must ..."

: : :

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