Category Archives: Challenges

2008-2009 Beaded Journal Project Update

All 12 pages from last year’s Beaded Journal Project are started, 9 of them are completely done with the beading. However, I am still struggling with how to display them or back them/finish them. At first I was planning to make them a big book together, then as little shrines with equally beaded doors that closed. I tried a number of different ways to make the pages sturdy enough to stand on their own, but flexible enough to open and close. I tried thick interfacing, felt and quilt batting of different thicknesses, these were great for opening and closing the doors, but didn’t work at all for standing. Then I tried some card stock, cardboard and finally mat board. These were either too thin or too thick.  I thought I had it all figured out after Robin’s class, but I can’t seem to make it work with the odd shape. Besides, where am I ever doing to display them where I have 12 podiums that are high enough to be able to examine the details.

9 months of BJP

My next plan is to try and turn them into a wall hanging, still keeping them in the groups of three that were part of the original plan. But because I have already turned the edges and backed some of them I am not sure how I will attach them. I am thinking perhaps reverse applique. I auditioned some groupings and some backing fabrics. It seems that a simple black will be the best choice, other colors will detract from the work.

This is June’s page, quite a difference from the beginning. June is the end of the school year so it is very hectic, closing up the classroom and getting ready for the summer. I created this fabric from a doodle I did in my paper art journal at my April art retreat. I scanned in the doodle, then mirrored it in photo shop, then printed it out on fabric. I used a lot of new techniques I learned from some beading books that I acquired, and then adapted to my own style.

dec2009 062

Here are the remaining ones that need to be beaded.

This one is July. Spending time in my garden is the main thing that I enjoy during the summer months. This one is still very raw and has no bead work yet. But it is still part of the plan.

dec2009 052

This one is August. I have been training for a triathlon all summer and August is the heaviest training month. Still need to get beading on this.

dec2009 054

I am really pleased with how the beading parts are progressing (although slowly) and I am getting really excited for the next round.

Here are some things I learned from the first round, the reading and research on beading that I have done in the process and my class with Robin.

  • 8″x10″ is WAY too big for a first beading project!!! Prior to this project I have mostly been making fabric collages from 22″x 18″ or larger. I have also made little ATC sized mini fabric collages. But these have all only had a little bit of bead embellishment. So I thought that this ‘small’ size was going to be fine. BUT for bead embellishment it was too big. ~so for my next BJP I will be creating in a smaller size~
  • Alter-shaped is way too advanced and difficult of a shape. Again for my first project. The pointy shape is hard to turn and finish. yikes!  ~so for my next BJP I will try to pick an easier shape, however I am really leaning towards dolls~
  • Quilting and including batting layers are not necessary. In the class with Robin we just used paper as a backing . This made it easier to turn the edges when the beading was done. The thick layers made this part very difficult in this first series.
  • Printed fabrics with pictorial images will limit the beading. Because I was new to the whole thing I used some printed images to guide my beading, almost like a coloring book I beaded the images. This was fun and was a good way to start, but it is also very freeing to move to non-representational fabrics.
  • An Ott light is a GREAT advantage.
  • A bugle bead pathway is a great way to move forward when you are stuck.

So a few days from now is the NEW year and a new round of the Beaded Journal Project. Will I pick a smaller size, an easier shape, neutral farbics? I am really leaning towards dolls!

EBSQ 2010 Show Schedule

2010 is the EBSQ 10th anniversary year

Without further ado, the schedule you’ve all been waiting for:


  • Foodporn: Photographing Food as Art
  • Barnyard Animals
  • One-Word Concept: Grey
  • Flower of the Month: Orchids


  • Candy: An EBSQ Juried Exhibit *
  • Art for the Heart: A Benefit for the American Heart Association
  • One-Word Concept: Music
  • Flower of the Month: Roses


  • Pen & Ink
  • Sinners
  • One-Word Concept: Beverage
  • Flower of the Month: Daffodils


  • Saints
  • Repurposed: An EBSQ Juried Exhibit
  • One-Word Concept: Precious
  • Flower of the Month: Tulips


  • Nursery Rhymes Illustrated
  • Fractals
  • One-Word Concept: Green
  • Flower of the Month: Irises


  • Plein Air: Architecture
  • Redux
  • One-Word Concept: Heavy
  • Flower of the Month: Pansies & Violas


  • 10th Annual Ripped Off
  • Rodeo
  • One-Word Concept: Horizon
  • Flower of the Month: Poppies


  • 9th Annual Pet Portrait Swap
  • Still Life w/Lemon
  • One-Word Concept: Jagged
  • Flower of the Month: Echinacea


  • Spam & Trout Biennial
  • Shut Out: What you’ve missed since the gallery world shut its doors *
  • Dead Poets
  • One-Word Concept: Bokeh
  • Flower of the Month: Sunflower


  • Think Pink: A Fundraiser to Benefit Susan G Komen
  • Dia de los Meurtos
  • One-Word Concept: Hope
  • Flower of the Month: Cacti


  • 10th Annual Portrait Swap
  • You Just Haven’t Urned It Yet, Baby
  • One-Word Concept: Despair
  • Flower of the Month: Waterlilies


  • Annual Better Late Than Never Show
  • Let It Snow
  • One-Word Concept: Classic
  • Flower of the Month: Mixed Bouquet with Vase

* Denotes a brick-and-mortar offline art event in association with this online exhibitSo–which shows are YOU most looking forward to in 2010?


Class Sampler

I was afraid that an 8 hours beading class would be WAY to long. and on some level it was. By the end I was making lots of mistakes. But on the other hand the time flew by quickly and we learned a TON. The techniques for beading with Robin had the goal of making a little sampler. we were given a 3″x3″ piece of fabric, basted to (acid-free) paper! this was new to me but a technique she stands by and it did work well. Gave the fabric a little stiffness while working, but not too stiff. Plus as you punch it with a needle over and over, it becomes supple.

There were only 7 people in the class. The lady next to me came from Spokane and is a crazy quilter. Her work is wonderful and she is not a newbie to beading. We did have a couple VERY new beaders but the rest of us were experienced enough. Robin is a strict but patient teacher. “both eyes on me” meant you better be watching and not trying to sneak in a few stitches. 🙂 But her directions are so clear and her drawings make something difficult to understand very easy to create. I love her drawings! There wasn’t much talking among the students. We were very focused. Beading take a lot of concentration. It is not a chatty type craft. You could hear our pins drop.

The conference provided each work station with an Ott light, which I now realize is a necessary item! The room was well lit, but freezing. Which can make it harder to bead!

We started with the basic stitches. seed stitch, then lazy stitch and it’s many vaiations, then a couching stitch and finally back stitch. I have done all of these. out of common sense and just figuring things out on my own. but the variations were mostly all new to me. All of them I have seen in RObin’s work and after we learned each one we were challenged to start identifying them in her work. For each stitch she brought around her work to show examples and variations. It was lovely to see all her work in person! Pictures online are interesting, becasue they can be in such high definition that you see them in more detail than you can in real life. but you can’t really see the texture unless you see them live.

We also learned edge stiches and dangling stitches. ALL of the work that we did is in her book that I already had. BUT it was opportunity to ASK questions while working through the stitches. and clear up some of the things that weren’t working for me as well as try ones I hadn’t been brave enough to explore yet. Learning the edge stitch and seeing her work in person to really examine HOW they were finished was the best part. It is where I have really been stuck with my own work so far. and now I have the solutions! I am excited to finish up my bead journal pieces from this year and move on to some new ones! So I have officially joined up again for Janurary. (Robin did sell us all on joining!)

She also talked about her process which helped me too. At first I used the printed fabric and beaded ON the pattern, following it like a paint by number. I love those pieces but I did move on to more solid colors and became more improvasational. As I gain more confidence I continue to get less literal. She talked about what she does when she gets stuck and how she starts out pieces. All this was very helpful.

It was a long but wonderful class and I am so glad I took it.

I  had quit on several months of my Beaded Journal Project pieces, leaving them semi-finished. I had not been able to figure out ways to make the backs look good, I had run out of steam and ideas on the beading on some of them and just called them finished. and I still have one month that has been sewn but not beaded yet.

BUT after this class I have been totally re inspired. I learned so many new techniques. and all the variations of them. I have been beading almost non-stop since I got back. After finishing the sampler, I revisited some of my journal pages that I had previously thought was done. I have been working on some wonderful additions to my December page. I feel like I see the fabric in a whole new way. Getting unstuck is just a bugel bead pathway away.

Also seeing her work in person turned on the light bulb for how to finish my own and ways to display them to really show them off. Now I just need to get some book board and foam core to get them done. I was also excited to share my work with Robin (which she seemed to enjoy!)

I got another one of her books (I own 3 now) and I highly recommend them!

So I signed up for another year of the beaded journal project. I plan to take on a smaller size this time! but thinking about going 3-D and making them dolls.

Finding the Person in the Art

Tricia  posed some questions and since I am seeking new direction, I thought it would be a good exercise.

dramaqueenDo you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?
Yes and no.
As an art teacher I do learn a lot about my students through their artwork, but they are really new to art, most don’t consider themselves artist yet, but they are pre-teens so EVERY thing is about them so they usually put a lot of their personality (or sometimes the parts that they want people to know about) into their art. Some of my assignments ask them to put that sort of thing out there.

I know my experience has been that in the past my work held a lot of my personality and passions, almost to the point of therapy. Now not so much. At least ,I don’t see the same level of meaning and subtext that I used to.

Is the work you did ten years ago different?

YES, the work I am doing now I think is very different. For several reasons… one I have been teaching now for 10 years. As part of my job I have to experiment in a lot of different mediums, make examples, explore ideas, take classes on new techniques with new materials. etc. So I feel pretty scattered in a lot of ways. 15 years ago I was working in a gallery and showing art more regularly, I was focused on my one medium (collage) creating in a series and entering shows and contests. I had a body of solid work. I do think that this work had a lot of my personality in it, of the person that I was then. There was a lot of depression, relationship and body issues and those came out in my work. One of the things I LOVED about gallery openings is that people would talk about my work either to me, and ask questions, or with other people and I would overhear their comments. So much of myself would come out in the work that I had NOT intentionally put in there.

blue pagesFor example in this piece (from 1993)a viewer pointed out that the blue swirls near the pelvis of the woman looked like ovaries. I did not intend this, or think of that as a symbol, but the piece has a lot to do with relationships and some struggles I had about whether or not I would want to or be able to be a mother. Also in this piece the face is a mirror, which I mostly did because I was not happy with my ability to draw faces at the time.  But I was asked if it was because the person didn’t know, or was searching for who they were. I realized that this really did fit at the time.

My work now, maybe still reflects my personality, I am just much more settled in my self but less settled in the techniques and skills of my media.

Is the content or the media the same? Neither are the same for me now. But I am a very different person too. It would feel false to attempt to still create the type of work I was making 10-15 years ago. In fact I have tried to do some of that style/type of work recently and it is not working for me.

2007july27 013Have you matured artistically or just improved your skills?

I believe I have matured artistically and personally, BUT I am still needing to hone my skills in my new choice of medium, fiber. If I had stuck with the same medium and not been dabbling in a ton of stuff for work and for fun, then I think I would have some nice bodies of work, but that might also have become stale and repetitive. I think I needed to change my medium to move to a new level artistscally but in the meantime I have lost some of my direction.

Is there a difference? Yes, although often they happen at the same time.

Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?

As an online friend of many artists, I know many that are well developed in their art and I can look at a piece and KNOW it was made by a particular person. They have a style that is well developed, a skill with their chosen medium and have worked towards making a body of work. But I don’t KNOW if I really KNOW them… I have a picture in my mind about them, based on their work that may or may not be accurate.

Bridgette creates work that I envy in what I see as a calm zen of simplicity. Through her work I imagine that she is an introspective, spiritual person. She has trees as a common symbol, which I see as someone who is grounded. There is still many different emotions in her work as she struggles through the trials of daily life, but it all still seems centered.

Angie’s work is so full of story, place, ideas and her beliefs. I feel like I know so much through her work about her and about the world. Her style, symbolism and passion is so solid and mature. I am proud to own one of her pieces that not only told me something about her, but also tells me something about myself.

Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?

Not really or not yet, I have been struggling with my work for the past couple years, not having a direction or a solid body of work. Not feeling inspired or having a theme. I just feel very scattered. Not sure what steps I need to take to get past this block. But perhaps getting out to some shows or artist groups so that I can talk to people about my work and find out what my current work is SAYING to other people.

Fabric Art Journals

As the Beaded Journal Project comes to a close I have been thinking a LOT about how to share and present the work. Although MY pieces are far from done and I am a couple months behind, I am still thinking about the closure of the project. I tend to have a problem with closure though, and will jump to the next project before finishing the previous one. I am trying not to do that for this project. I want to honor it on a different level and make it be the finished work that it deserves to be.

joggles class landscape in progress

I am also contemplating my artwork on the whole. What am I doing? Where am I going?

I know that I am moving away from paper, away from mixed-media sculpture types things. I am slowly culling my supplies and rearranging my studio to reflect this change. BUT I am torn. Mostly because of my day job, that of a middle school art teacher. I really am required to continue to work and learn about a variety of mediums, try out new supplies, create new projects that can guide or inspire my students. I am also a Gemini, which does lead to a scattered interest in a ton of different mediums. While I dabble in all these places, I am not reaching a skill level in my own medium that satisfies me and allows me to create a solid body of work. This is frustrating and disappointing.

I haven’t had a series that felt like a body of work since my last show in 2003. That’s SIX years! And that was my paper/window collage work. So with all my learning and experimenting in fabric over the past six years I haven’t reached a place of mastery nor a definitive direction.

lovebook Cover

I think my work is taking the direction of small fabric journal pages or mini quilts, but sometimes I want to work larger! I have in mind a few ideas for a series or two, but then I can’t decide if they should be individual pieces or put together as books. Then there are these ideas about working with quilts that are framed by larger objects. I have ideas about sets of art dolls. I want to print, dye and stamp my own fabrics. Do I want to learn some more complex and traditional quilting skills, or keep doing my hodge podge applique/quilting style?

on a somewhat related note: While I researched textile arts to find my direction and look for some ways to finish my beaded pages, I ran across this great article  that talks about fabric art journals in general, and directly links to a blog  and the project I participated in a few years ago. (Which reminds me that I need to make a cover for my wonderful pages that I received.) This brings up the question about sharing this type of work. Do I want to pursue my work getting published or find the right kind of shows to enter?  

Well it seems like all I have come up with today is questions, not answers. But I guess that is the way life is sometimes. Perhaps I will go express myself in some beads and see what develops.

Beaded Journal June In Progress

Before beading: this is a doodle that I scanned, mirrored and printed onto fabric.
June 2009 before beading

Part of the beading is done. I have been using a number of techniques from Robin’s book. This is for the month of JUNE. Which was a busy and hectic month, a month of beginnings and endings. I am hoping to reflect the joy and stress of this busy month.

2009 july BJP in progress

So far this is my favorite page, but it still has a lot of work until it is done.

2009 july detail in progress

Summer ATC Challenge

Last year I did Artist Trading Cards with my Art Club students. I had tons of examples and extras to trade. They made their own and then started a little collection and did a little trading within the club. They really enjoyed making theirs but also enjoyed digging through and picking from my trading pile. That pile is now gone and I want to do this again with my club and my classes next year, so I want to replenish my supply.

So here is my Summer ATC Challenge. I will send you an envelope stuffed with cool papers, or fabric bits and you will return at least 2 cool (middle school appropriate ~i.e. no nudity~) ATC cards. I would love to see info on the backs include your name and maybe what kind art you do and/or what kind of vocation (job) you have. I will need the cards mailed back to me by September 15th.

If this sounds like fun and you want to participate, leave a comment here with your name and both email and snail mailing address (ALL Comments are moderated and I will remove personal data before approving them.)

Beaded Journal Project Continues

Although slowly

Beaded Journal Project MAY 2009

Pictured above is MAY in progress. I did a really cool doodle at art camp in April. Then I scanned it in and printed it on fabric, now I am beading it using some new techniques I got from one of Robin’s books I ordered.

Beaded Journal Project April 2009

Pictured above is APRIL in progress. Experimenting with some different ways to make flowers. I did get to start gardening very early this year. These two months are focused on that idea.

Neither is close to being done and I still haven’t really done anything with March. Now it is already time to start June. Luckily, school is almost out and I will have lots of time to catch up on these.