I don't know if any of you remember that I had started to take part in the Bead Journal Project a year or so ago... I think it was 2012...but never did finish. I only got four squares done before I ran out of steam. I have always truly wanted to really have a go at this, as I think it's a marvelous skill building project, and one that can mean a great deal to each person individually. Very simplified and basic, the BJP is a visual journal in beadwork, just like writing a journal, but in beads. The idea is to make one piece per month, telling your story for the month. You can choose to have a theme, or choose to go about it in a completely improvisational way each month, although you may want to have one element, or one shape, as something that holds your pieces together as a whole, you don't have to. I got alllllll excited to try it again and do better this time, when I saw that the founder, Robin Atkins, had started a Facebook group dedicated to the project this year. She also gave more freedom in the 'rules' (they aren't really, they're guidelines at the most) and I was intrigued and began thinking furiously about what I could do with it. I really love improvisational work, and freeform work, and think that sometimes that is what I am best at - it is certainly where I get the most passionately creative, and have such joy in the beginnings of each project. I think having the group in FB is a big thing for me, as well - I spend a lot of time there, and I enjoy that there is so much interaction. The BJP by blog only felt kind of lonesome to me, and it was harder to really get to know the participants. I fully intend to blog along, but I am REALLY enjoying the company on the group page.
The last time I tried, I think I gave myself way too many parameters and rules. I had a set shape, I had a theme (quilt squares in bead embroidery only, no fabric), and I was pretty well set that I would only do geometric shapes in the squares. After four of them, my muse said forget it - and the fourth was exhausting to make in many ways, as I felt it had to be about the tragedy in Japan. It sapped all the excitement out of me, and I gave up. If you'd like to see the ones I made that year, the posts start here.
This time, I am happily going forward with only these things in mind - I love freeform bead weaving, and I love embroidery and I want to try to use the Artist Trading Card format, which is 2.5 x 3.5". I want to leave plenty of room for incorporating anything at all into them, whether it's fabric, or fiber, or paper, or metal, or rocks, or... you get the idea. In fact, the more mixed media I can add into it, the happier I will be!!
I was, in fact, so excited about it this year that I began work on it (by cutting out the ATCs from Lacy's) on Dec. 31st! I then spent all day yesterday and part of this morning, finishing up the first one. I didn't want to stop working on it at all, and was wondering if I should have used a larger template per month, but then was concerned that some months I might not be able to fill a larger space... Robin suggested to me that I could do more than one per month if I felt like I still had something to say, or I could make a lager, OPTIONAL one per month if that felt better, too. Sometimes I have a hard time giving myself permission to play, or permission to change things up, and it was hugely refreshing to have Robin give me permission to give myself permission, lol!!! :D
I was thinking of gratitude while I made this one, gratitude for my loved ones and friends, and of my friend Julie in particular (who gave me the gorgeous bronze button in the upper right), and about how good it felt to be excited to start something again. This last year has been rather overwhelming and exhausting, and I was so relieved to feel some real creative energy as I began.
I like that there is so much freeform both in the weaving and in the embroidery. I like that my husband saw several different things in it (he's male - he saw a city and a computer processor board), while I saw different things (I saw a queen's crown or a jester's hat, or a theater curtain). I like how I felt while I worked on it, and I like that I still have creative energy even though it's 'done.' The edging and the backing aren't done yet, as I am not sure how I want to finish everything off at the end of the year. Maybe they'll just be little individual bits, but maybe I will want to piece them together somehow... so I haven't completed the finishing touches. I'd love to hear what you 'see' in it, if you'd like to share in the comments!
I know that the dark, metallic sort of soup that I used doesn't instantly bring gratitude to mind, but it represented it very well to me; I love this mix and use it a lot, and it's soothing and relaxing and energizing all at once, rather like the universe and staring at the night sky. The button definitely represents Julie, and how she shines on my life like a sun, and shows just how well she knows me, that I would adore a little medieval village scene. Maybe, at the end of the year, I will look back at this one, and see a lot more things than I do now.
I have a lot of beady soup left... and I really think I may do something else with it, perhaps a larger piece, if I can get my hot little hands on some more fabric!! I have next to no fabric stash... But I have already started another ATC, I couldn't help myself, and I'm immersed in chocolate cherry raspberry beads! My Dad is doing really well, Sherwood has been doing better the last few days (he's been having an awful time with his back), and we've had two days of relaxing and spending time together... all in all, a really good start to the year. :)
If you'd like to learn more about the BJP, visit Robin's blog BeadLust, or her website, and come and check it out on Facebook, too!!