Monday, January 4, 2010

Introduction, confession, and a plan

Greetings! This is my first year participating in the Bead Journal Project, and I thought hard before deciding to sign up. Don't get me wrong -- I loved the (gorgeous!) beadwork I had seen through Robin Atkin's blog posts about the BJP, and I know that these kinds of journal projects can be wonderful for artistic growth and building community among artisans. But I have a tendency to overcommit myself. There are so many things I want to do that I often take on more than I can realistically complete. I didn't want to have this turn into yet another unfinished project -- yet another failed commitment.

So I waited, and pondered . . . and then I signed up.

There were several reasons I finally decided to join in. I knew that regular beading would increase my skill level and push me to explore new design and new technique. There is nothing like regularly doing the work to foster artistic growth. I also find that hand beading is very meditative for me. I've never been good at quiet contemplation -- I like to always be engaged in productive work. Bead embroidery is pretty much the only activity that keeps me still and focused for hours at a time. This summer, I had a foot injury and was told to keep off my feet as much as possible. I started a new bead project that same day, as I knew that was the only thing that would keep me from getting up every couple of minutes. (Alas, I haven't finished it yet . . . see the above overcommitment issue.) It seemed to me that regular beading would probably have a beneficial effect on my mental health, in the same way meditation does. The project also seemed like the perfect prompt to connect with a series of beaded works I had in mind.

Some years ago, I got involved in our campus V-Day production. Every year, the students put on a production of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues, as a fundraiser for organizations working to end violence against women. The play is a series of monologues about women's experiences of their bodies and their sexuality, based on Eve Ensler's interviews with a diverse group of women. In the final monologue, Eve describes her experience of awe and reverence while being at the birth of her granddaughter. She compares the vagina to a heart:

The heart is capable of sacrifice.
So is the vagina.
The heart is able to forgive and repair.
It can change its shape to let us in.
It can expand to let us out.
So can the vagina.
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed and bleed us into this difficult wondrous world.
So can the vagina.
---Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues (2001, p.124-5)

So I began a series of V-hearts, beaded fabric hearts with abstract vulva-like imagery (similar to Georgia O'Keefe's flowers). Some were based on monologues in the play, and some were just explorations of the idea more generally. I gave most of these away to the performers in the show that year, but I have been wanting to get back to this series to explore the idea more fully, and began a few more over the summer. So my plan for the BJP is to have my monthly beaded journal be heart-shaped. The hearts are usually pretty small (large brooch/pendant size), although I don't know exactly what size I'll use. I'll explore and expand my V-Heart series, although I'm also open to seeing what else emerges from the heart shape.

I don't have much of my beadwork on my blog, but you can see my latest bellydance belt and bra and a beaded necklace I made for a friend a few years ago.

I'm excited about the Beaded Journal Project! I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes us.

Oh, and to our hard-working blog administrator: I'm not listed on the authors roll. Can I be added? I go by Deborah C. Stearns, and my blog is: Thanks!


Jacquie said...

Welcome...sounds like you have a plan! Nice to meet you..there are a lot of wonderful people here. Looking forward to seeing your works...

Deborah C. Stearns said...

Thanks for the warm welcome, Jacquie! I look forward to seeing your work, too.

Deborah C. Stearns said...

I hopped over to your blog, Jacquie and just wanted to say you have some GORGEOUS beadwork there! Wow. I'm in awe.

freebird said...

Welcome to the group. You've got a good plan down to work with. I'm still working on mine! Hope you enjoy being part of the group.

The Beaded Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

What an amazing poem and concept!!!! Vulva-heart and you being open to uncharted pathway with this... fabulous!!!! I shall hop over to your blog next. Also, I'll pass along your request to Diane so she can get you on the author list. Thanks for noticing!

Robin A.

Robin said...

Instead, I just went ahead and added your name and link. All done!

Robin A.

Deborah C. Stearns said...

Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments! I feel very welcomed.

Whytefeather said...

Interesting concept, can't wait to see how your creative ideas work in your pieces. Love your blog!

Drea said...

Hi Deborah,

I totally agree with your comment about the meditative quality of beading. My hands start moving and my mind begins to still just enough that my heart's voice takes over ... I think this is why, even though I like to explore other creative paths, I always seem to come back to beadwork.

Also loved what you had to say about "doing the work". There's a lot to be said for just showing up, and making creativity a part of your regular routine.

It's nice to "meet" you - I look forward to seeing your journal unfold.


The Beaded Life said...

I love your blog. I look forward to seeing more the coming year.
lisa (reposted to edit last name out)