Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's Not What I Expected: Life Lessons From Improvisational Bead Embroidery

January. It's not at all what I anticipated. Of course, I didn't get off to a good start. I had quite a few other projects going on so I delayed. And then, I didn't know what to do. More delays. I started a couple of new projects. Even more delays. But it nagged at me, peeking out of the bead boxes, following me from room to room, waylaying me in the bead shop.

What to do for the January BJP? With the start of a new year, there is an internal push for something momentous. A fresh start. A different approach. An entirely new challenge. A beading resolution. A beading revolution!

But none of my ideas seemed worthwhile. I finally decided to see what I could do with an even more limited palette than I had used before. In addition, it would be a dull pallete. Nothing dramatic or flashy. A sort of, “What can you do with not much?” It was a challenge that matched my state of mind. So these are the beads I picked.

The first step was to paint my Stiff Stuff. After carefully (if not accurately) analyzing the color of my selected beads, I decided that purple, with just a little red and a fair amount of white and black, would give the desired color. Down I went into the dark and cold laboratory. Purple, a little red, white, black, more white, more purple, and then the Stiff Stuff. The next day I looked at it. Whoa! Fuschia! Not what I anticipated!

Should I get another piece and paint it? More delays while cheapness, er, frugality,er, careful use of resources argued with the vision in my head. I decided to go with the Stiff Stuff I had painted. Then it was back to the bead box for a new selection of beads. They were not what I anticipated using.

I beaded a few rows and I was surprised. Again, not what I anticipated. Rip some out, and back to the bead box. No, those other beads wouldn't work either.

Now in the greater scheme of things, improvisational bead embroidery is lesser. The stakes are small. It doesn't bring world peace, reverse global warming, or cure disease. It doesn't even vacuum or wash the kitchen floor.

But I believe it can teach us life lessons. By its nature, there is uncertainty in improvisation. Learning to respond to to uncertainty and the unexpected with adaptation, modification, active problem solving, and even enjoyment can help us develop resilience. And, goodness knows, we all need resilience.

My January piece has become a reflection on responses to the unanticipated and the importance of resilience. This, I believe, is a worthy theme for the beginning of a new year. The more difficult part will be applying this reflection to larger and more important unanticipated issues.

Technical Details:

As described above, the foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with Dye-Na-Flow.

As usual, most of the beads are 11/0s, with some 15/0s, 8/0s, and 6/0s. There are hex beads, triangles, two sizes of bugles, and some fringe beads.

The backstitch remains my basic stitch.

This page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

This time, I used taupe C-Lon thread.

What I Was Thinking:

In addition to what I wrote above, I was thinking a lot about Pam T and her amazingly resilient response to a difficult situation. I admire her greatly.

Issues that Came Up:
  • How did I get so many dull colored beads (that I didn't use in this page)?
  • I am quite satisfied with the size.
  • I like Nymo thread better than C-Lon.
If you are interested in reading about resilience, I recommend The Power of Resilience by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Brooks at the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute a few years ago. It was a great experience!


Carol said...

I love to hear the thoughts behind the creation of the page. I like to know why certain beads were chosen, and if the design was planned or if it lead the designer to completion. I agree with you about resilence, and about Pam T. I think of her a lot and she has been a pure inspiration to me. This was a great post and the page is beautifully done.

a2susan said...

I had no idea what to expect myself from your writing, but am I "wowed!" (is that a word?) Your piece is the most amazing expression of resilience - beautiful, regal, strong. Qualities you obviously have, and ones I would say Pam is sharing with us in her journey.

KV said...

Such a beautiful, thoughtful page, Marty . . .

Brenda said...

Very beautiful piece!

Kris said...

I really like your January BJP. It has an art deco/nouveau feel and since that's one of my favorite design eras, I find it very appealing. The design is ordered and organized - I like it!

Hope you're staying warm.

Kris Curtis

Robin said...

Marty... I love this post so much that I'm going to copy and paste it to a word document... I just LOVE that you have found such a wonderful lesson from Improv Bd Emb!!!! And I LOVE the way you wrote about it. And I LOVE LOVE the beaded results! OMG, it's so beautiful!

Other thoughts... Ditto on Nymo vs. C-lon (although there are some nifty C-lon colors). The challenge of "What can you do with not much?" So sweet that you mention and were thinking of Pam T in connection with resiliance... you are so right on!

Thanks!!! Robin A.

pam T said...

Hi Marty -
First of all, love the colors of your page, and the description of how you came to it! You are very expressive with your witticism and your pondering on resilience.
THANK YOU for thinking of ME when doing this! aw shucks you guys, I am very touched that I seem to inspire thoughts from you... But gotta tell you too, that I am just being me, and my seeming resilience isn't necessarily a choice but this is my path in life and I'm just following the signs along the way!
Anyway. Love the page, Marty, great colors, and as always, great beading with the texture. I'm going to have to try the more monochromatic scheme, I think, because it turns out so beautiful every time!
Too late for February's page for me, I am going to be already posting Feb. later today! :)
Thank you again....
pam T

MizDenise said...

I love your piece and laughed as you described your process: it was the way mine went as well - back and forth to the bead box - with a surprise at the end! I enjoy reading your blog and the witty way you describe your work.

Marty S said...

Thanks, all, for your comments. I have to admit that I like the way the page turned out.

Robin, I don't quite know what to say. I'm blown away that you want to keep a copy of my post.

Marty S

heidibeads said...

I love this page, I don't think the colors are blah, the texture of the page makes up for everthing. I liked reading your comments, too.

MixPix said...

I loved this post - it said so many things that I was thinking about January, beading, vacuuming, life the universe and everything, and your January BJP page turned out gorgeous giving me inspiration for trying new techniques for my February page.

freebird said...

A good sense of humor really helps one to be resilient and you have that! It turned out lovely. It has the ups and downs and some turn into swirls. It looks like a resilient piece. Thanks for the how-to's. It's always good to hear the process and/or lessons of a piece.

Hélène H said...

This page is very striking. Watching it feels like watching your thoughts evolving. It's really great.

Sabine said...

Congratulations, this is a beautiful piece, and I enjoyed very much reading the accompanying text.