Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dots rule

Have you ever noticed that once you get started on a subject or your attention is caught by something, it seems to be everywhere afterwards? It must be some law, because it happens to me all the time. Lately I have been dotted, so it seems.

Recentely I picked up the newspaper and read about News Dots. Its a fun way to link all the news in a visual way with... Yes indeed: DOTS. I coulnd't help but google for news dots. It's fun and interactive and got  me wondering if there is anything in it, useable for my BJP next year. Somehow of course, not only the news but everything and everyone is connected. So will be my monthly journals as well. I haven't decided on anything yet , but I am sure the thought will come back. Next I followed the link on the Slatest website, and realized how wonderful and powerful a tool visualisation is. It is a universal language and I guess that it was the same power that grabbed me when I first encoutered the BJP and visual journaling as such.

I copied some images from the Flare website. And even though I don't know what these graphs are about,  aren't they beautiful? In reality they are interactive. When you visit the flare website and go over the demo-graphs with your mousicon, you will notice that around the circle words will light up in different colours, connecting with lines that also are highlighted. It awoke a sense of awe in me. How about this one?

It reminds me of a tree, it reminds me of the 4 seasons, it reminds me of the elements, it reminds me of reaching out to someone or something, it represents growht, it ...

Apart from its practical meaning (which it was obviously designed for) it has an inner beauty all because of its simplicity. It doesn't matter it wasn't designed to be pretty, it just is. Robin Atkins blogged about visual journaling some time ago and mentioned the diversity in languages used by different artists in journaling, some more obvious conveying a message, some more hidden. Neither one being better than the other, all beautifull of their own accord.

So I would like to close with these quotations: 

"Beauty is a harmonious relation between something in our nature and the quality of the object which delights us."

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French mathematician, physicist and philosopher

"Beauty is a primeval phenomenon, which itself never makes its appearance, but the reflection of which is visible in a thousand different utterances of the creative mind, and is as various as nature herself."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, novelist and dramatist.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

lessons learned

I made a start with my beaded version of Staphorster Stipwerk. In anticipation of the Bead Jounal Project 2010 I ordered some Lacy Stiff Stuff. I have read many beaders work with it, mostly to make jewelry so I wanted to give it a try for my bead embroidery.

When the shipment arrived I was surprised at how litterally Stiff the Stuff is. I didn't expect it to be for some reason. But hey, maybe there was an advantage that I didn't know of. My first piece I made with a square of 100% woollen felt that was very flexible to work with, had a nice, comfortable feel and was easy to handle.

Because I wanted my backing to be black as most of the background is for the Stipwerk, I simply dyed the Stiff Stuff with aquarelle paint that I bought once for the children. The Stiff Stuff absorbed the paint quite well, but took very long to dry. The result was not an evenly coloured piece of material, but I didn't mind too much since it is meant to become filled with beads and I have decided earlier that I just have to have the courage to try and fail.
So I went on and started beading with beads that I found last year and date back from when I was a kid - which means they are at least 30 years old! I liked the idea of working with those old beads in trying to replicate an ancient Dutch technique. While beading I realized that the production of seedbeads must have improved since then, because I simply wasn't able to pull the thread through all of the beads as the holes weren't equally big. Neither were the beads for that matter, which makes it harder to lie them down nicely on a flat surface. How fun the idea of working with my age-old beads might be...It wasn't an easy start.

As I mentioned earlier, the Stiff Stuff lacked flexibility. It didn't feel comfortable to hold and wouldn't bend in my hand to make holding beads to the backing any easier. I am not giving up though. I have beaded some and like the fact that with each series of beads attached, the work seems to come alive more and tickles me for more! Opposed to my demons that want to keep me from my trying and the possibility of not achieving a perfect result, a little angel is awakening that wants me to keep trying. My journey has begun!

Even though my piece is not finished by far, there are lessons learned:
  1. It is important to me to have a backing that is flexible, feels good and comfortable
  2. It helps if the beads are of good quality
  3. you never learn as much as from plain trying!
I did sign up for the Bead Journal Project this weekend. Although officially, registration is open from october 1st till december 15th, you can send in your application already. The reactions I have had so far are heartwarming, so I can encourage anyone to please sign up. It will be fun to travel parts of that road to discovery together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

thread or threat?

Saturdaynight, as I was picking up my current beading project again - after putting it down when "normal" life started as summerbreak was over - I felt frustrated. I am beading a 3D necklace from a design by Jean Power, but the use of very small 11/0 cilinderbeads sometimes asks too much of the tread. Especially when I have made some mistakes and re-do part of it. Working on my own version of this necklace is a study in patience and concentration in itself, a training in mindfullness.

So I found myself with a fraying thread and the urge not to replace it. Two very incompatible options. Then I asked myself why I would be so stubborn not to finish it and start with a new one? The answers that came to mind were simple:
  • thou shalt not waste a perfectly good piece of material
  • thou shalt finish what thou has started (with)
  • thou shalt not give up
But these thoughts...are they true? Or are they the voice of a thou-shalt demon, that wouldn't let me think for myself, but rather have it that I - without any questions asked - just follow lessons learned early in life? And if so, the lessons being inherently good: are they applicable now?

Then I remembered Robin Atkins' post on witnessing. Robin always succeeds in posing challenging thoughts that keep my mind busy for quite a while. Often I don't realize the personal meaning I find in her posts until I had time to digest them, so to speak. True food for thought! It was the same with this one, but it suddenly became clear to me that witnessing is not only important when communicating with others, but also in a more inner sense. Sounds vague? Let me try to explain:

As of late I have been investigating my inner critic and I found out that she loves to consume a lot of positive energy to spill it out in harsh comments. I let a little of that seep through already in my post walk the talk. So that's who was speaking here when I heard that voice saying I should not... Now, from a witnessing point of view: if I would be witnessing myself, what would I say? How would I build myself up and give me support? I realized that:
  • I should finish the fraying tread and start a new one, because it would stop the frustration and bring joy back into my project
  • I should give up on my tread, because it had become a threat. In no way would starting a new thread stop me from finishing my project.
  • Oh, yes... the thou-shalt-not-waste-stuff... But isn't it just what it is: a piece of yarn? What harm could there be in getting rid of that?
 I made it so and I felt the frustration ooze away. On the go I had witnessed myself and then I found this quote:

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein

I rest my case.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I love dots

I do, I love dots. Never realized it so much as of today. They always make a happy impression and combine so easily into flowers or other motives. (Photo with courtesy to Stegemans textiel)

Why today? Well, the 3rd tuesday in september traditionally is Prinsjesdag in The Netherlands. The Hague welcomes our queen for the festive beginning of the new parliamentary year. Although this might be boring to think about, it is always a festive event. To get an impression: think of it as the marriage between the State of the Union (USA) and the hats of Royal Ascot (UK). But is this now turning into a political blog? By no means! And what does relate Prinsjesdag to dots? I will come to that in a sec.

As I said Prinsjesdag is a very festive event, so it attracts lots and lots of people from all over the country who want to get a glimpse of our Queen, the prince royal and his spouse. As I was watching the news I saw a few children in traditional clothing from Staphorst, a small town on the north-east side of the Netherlands. As part of their clothing these girls were wearing small bonnets. Lots of these traditional garments are from a (dark) blue or black fabric and adorned either with shawls or aprons in vibrant colours and (floral) patterns or as in the Staphorster Stipwerk, the fabric itself is embellished.

Now I come to the dots...The picture above is of so called Staphorster Stipwerk, which can be freely translated as Dotwork from Staphorst. It's nothing more than a technique, in which a small block with some nails attached to it is dipped into paint and pressed on the fabric or any other backing. When this is done a couple of times with different colours, the black is suddenly alive with small floral elements.

In fact it sparked  my imagination: if this could be done by such simple means, why not try and do it with beads? I think I found a challenge for the upcoming fall and winter. The base colour does apply to the retreat and death in nature that holds the promiss of a blooming spring and summer...If I'll be patient. (Photo was taken in my backyard last autumn.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Walk the talk

The first work I made was just a trial. I had become intrigued by bead embroidery by surfing the WWW. After I first stumbled upon the Bead Journal Project homepage I felt drawn into a whole new world. I had been beading for a short time then - I started in the summer of 2008 - but had focused on beaded jewelry. Fun to do and still one of my a favorite ways to spend spare time, but I cannot possibly wear all that jewelry and have no ambition to start a shop. The BJP showed me a whole new meaning and means to beads.
It was the flow that seemed to embody all these different works and my inner self didn't seem to stop with ooohs and aaaahs.
The next I knew, I felt torn between a strong want to give bead embroidery a try and a little demon voice inside me that kept on telling me I would never be as good as they were. At first I won: I did start a little project of my own that didn't turn out so bad. I called it "teardrop", because the shape reminded me of a tear. Unfortunately my work then stalled: I simply did not know what to do with my piece and still haven't found out either.
It was when I started to really follow blogs like for example Robin Atkins' Beadlust  or Susan Elliot's Plays with needles' that I realized that they too struggled with their inner critics.  After I read Susans blogpost on  Mini Me I realized I did the same. Always telling my children that you never learn untill you try and try again, and that all good work (artistic or not) is not achieved at once. Teaching them that failure is not a bad thing at all, because it is through failure that we learn important and invaluable lessons that help us grow. And here I was, allowing myself to be put aside by my own fear of failure. I love the phrase Susan used as she wrote she needed to "walk the talk...". It might be a common way of saying, but to me (being Dutch and not having English as my mother tongue) it was new and compelled me to push myself to start overcoming that hurdle.
As I am writing this down I am well on my road to victory. I have started this blog as a first step into starting my own BJP next year. I am decided to embark on that voyage that will lead me to discoveries of new worlds where no one has gone before... - as captain Picard would say - not even me. I will no doubt find myself struggling with my inner critic who will sent me countless little demons as I go along... But if they can, why wouldn't I be able to?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

All new

To everyone and all, I am as new to this blog as you are. Hope you will follow me as I travel along the path of beading and exploring new ways to expres myself. It will take some time for me to get really going, but be patient and new things will follow.


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