Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

I just received my partner for the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party, and I'm so excited because this time, I get to swap beads with another bead artist in Sweden! It really speaks volumes to me about how precious beads are, and how they can unite many people throughout our entire planet.

So, while I'm waiting to send off my package of beads to this lovely woman across the ocean, I saw a prompt from Lori Anderson, the originator of the Bead Soup Blog Party. She told us to write about why we blog.

That got me thinking a lot about why I do what I do, both with the beads, and with my blog.

If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that I have exhibitionist tendencies, but I don't think that's the case.

I've always loved to write, and I've wanted to be a writer for a very long time.

I'm also somewhat distressed by what I see happening in the world, particularly in U.S. politics, and I'm distressed by the inequality I see, particularly between working poor families and the wealthiest citizens of the world. So I want to speak out about what I see as right and wrong.

Blogging is my way of trying to make sense of the world, and my way of trying to make sense of myself, and my life.

Which are all reasons why I bead, I suppose.

Beadweaving has always just sucked me right in. When I first started beading, I used to have to put a movie on so that after an hour and a half (or so, depending on the movie), I would force myself to get up and switch the tape. (This was in 1999, before DVD and "Repeat All"!) If I listened to the radio, I would just sit there for hour after hour, while I stitched away. (This was also pre-kid, when I could be a night owl and stay up to all hours of the night before having to roll out of bed and get to class by ten a.m.)

Even now, when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed by something, I want to retreat to my little corner desk, put on a funny movie or sitcom, and bead. It soothes my spirit. It gives my hands something to do, helps me calm my mind, and reminds me to just be and breathe and bead.

So, the spiritual side of beadwork...

One of the things that I saw during my time with the Tibetan Buddhist monks in Plattsburgh were these wall hangings. They are created with a combination of embroidery and painting on silk, with the color of the silk being allowed to show through the painting and the embroidery.

When I got home after attending afternoon prayers with Tom one day, I thought about making a bead embroidered cuff bracelet using some of these same techniques. And of course, the vibrant colors of the Nicole's Beadbacking are perfect for projects like this.

I traced a simple line drawing of a lotus flower on a piece of bright yellow bead embroidery backing, and then proceeded to stitch away.

While I worked, I tried to incorporate some of the Native American beadwork traditions that I love into the piece. I watched comedies and movies with happy endings while I was working on it, to avoid accidentally incorporating any negativity into the piece.

Working up the sides was more challenging. I tried several different patterns and embroidery techniques, but I didn't like any of them.

I finally came back to thinking, "Keep it simple, stupid." And I just started adding large size 6 beads and working small half-circles around them. I was very happy with the results.

I backed it with a piece of my favorite, buttery-soft Ultrasuede and was delighted to find some seed beads in the same shade of the bead embroidery backing to work the edging around the whole cuff.

The finished piece is huge. I think it's about 3" wide from top to bottom, so it's a little hard for me to wear when I'm writing/typing on the computer. But when I'm grocery shopping or running errands or beading, I love looking down on my wrist and seeing it.

So, why do I blog? Why do I bead? Because it helps me make sense of the world when nothing else does.

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