Beads and Yarn

I have a secret. I love coming home from a bead show, dumping all of my purchases into one big pile on the table and running my fingers through all of my new beads. All that beautiful color and texture! Even though I buy from different vendors, my purchases reflect ideas and images I’ve been thinking about lately and they all seem to match in one way or the other. Do you experience the same thing?

I’m thinking of a bead embroidery cuff for the face cab from Earthenwood Studio. Isn’t it fabulous?

My dumping/ooh-ing and aah-ing ritual reminds me of when my kids returned from trick or treating on Halloween night and all the stashes got dumped on the family room rug. First, Mom or Dad would go through to pick out any suspicious looking items (and the Butterfingers) and then the trading would begin.

Here’s some detail of a strand of unique snakeskin jasper and pearls I couldn’t resist along with amethyst and peridot. A lot of my stone bead purchases were made from Momminia of Cold Spring, NY. A husband and wife team, Marlene and Steve Goodrich are quick to share their in depth knowledge about any of their stones. So, buying from them is both an education and a treat to the eyes. Even though my daughter isn’t at all into beads like I am, she listened intently while they named the different stones and where they originated. Here’s some faceted rhodolite garnet. We couldn’t resist that amazing raspberry color. It will go fabulously with black, I think.

Last but not least, my yarn purchases from my Michigan trip in March. I also discovered a yarn store called Knitting Pointers, right down the street from my new home, and I visited there last weekend. I couldn’t resist the pale muted colorway on the left.

The brand name is “Poems”. What a perfect name for what these colors inspire in me.

“I want to make poems that look into the the earth and the heavens and see the unseeable.

I want them to honor both the heart of faith, and the light of the world;

the gladness that says, without any words, everything.”

-Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

After a night of pouring rain, the clouds have cleared away and the world outside is freshly washed with sunshine. As I was taking the photos of my tea this morning, I was amazed to see how the beautiful color variations of the dry leaf are very reminiscent of the beadwork I’m doing on my March journal page. I’m creating a twisting tree trunk in browns, silvers and greens and will post a photo very soon of my progress.

So, on this dazzling Saturday morning, I’m sipping a cup of Sikkim black tea from the Temi estate. The Indian state of Sikkim is located slightly north of the Darjeeling district. Since its location and climate is very similar to Darjeeling, teas produced in this district taste very much like a Darjeeling tea but I find that they are softer without that characteristic astringent “bite” that a Darjeeling can have.

The steeped leaf reveals some whole intact leaf along with tightly curled new growth, the whitish tips of the plant. The abundance of white tips lend a gorgeous silvery cast to the dry leaf. The liquor is a medium amber color with a whisper of a floral aroma. The taste is fruity and floral all at once with a silky softness. Darjeelings are considered the “champagne of teas” and there is no doubt to their unique status in the world of tea. Every Spring I look forward to the arrival of the first flushes with great anticipation. That being said, I think that this first flush Sikkim is a wonderful choice, exhibiting the same aromatic nuances as many first flush Darjeelings I’ve tried in this range.

I am enjoying my tea with a piece of Zwieback toast. This toast is well known as a teething biscuit for babies and this is how I discovered it when my children were young. After sharing it with 3 babies, I’ve developed a taste for it’s crunchy texture and lemon-y cinnamon flavor myself. It’s a great snack to have with tea because the flavor is very mild and the texture clears your palate for the next cup of tea.

March Beaded Journal Page in progress

As I have been slowly but surely unpacking my art supplies from my move a couple of weeks ago, I found my March page neatly wrapped up in one of my moving boxes. I had gotten as far as placing the polymer clay glazed face cabochons created at my January guild meeting on the fabric and then had stopped around mid-March so I could pack everything up. I was so delighted to finally find my page and sat down almost immediately to give each face a beaded bezel. I used the “barnacle” technique as explained on page 50 in Robin Atkins wonderful new book called “Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery”.

Back in March when I was so looking forward to Spring’s arrival after a long cold winter, I found myself studying trees very closely to see any signs of Spring. In one of my meditations, an image popped into my mind of each knot in a tree having a face in it that was waking up from a long winter’s sleep. Shortly after that I was purging some old magazines and found this image.

It reminded me so much of my image of the faces in the tree. The feeling I want to convey with this piece is one of an organic awakening. Robin has another bead technique on making twisted tree trunks (page 67). I think this beading technique will be perfect for the look I want. Stay tuned for more progress!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is a day to celebrate and honor all women – daughters, sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers – who have given birth. Given birth to a baby or a piece of art or a book or an idea or whatever their deepest passions have manifested. We are all connected in our fertile bodies and imaginations.

About 3 years ago I presented this plant to my S.O. because I know how much he loves lilies. Called Clivia Miniata or its common name Bush Lily, it is native to South Africa where rooibos and honeybush tea come from. In the wild, it grows in the shade of trees because it doesn’t like full sun. We have it in a northwestern exposure to the side of a sliding glass door. This is the first time it has flowered. I’d like to think that it is welcoming me to my new home.

Today I am spending the first part of the day by going to a bead show with my daughter. I haven’t been to a bead show since last year so I’m very excited to go and share my “beadie” passion with her. In the afternoon, my sons will come over for a visit and we’ll play Blokus, a new board game I discovered while visiting my brother and his family in Michigan last March. Each player gets a bunch of brightly colored semi-transparent tiles in different shapes. Starting from a corner, each player takes turns placing their tiles down so that only the corners are touching with the object being to lay down as many tiles as you can. So, of course, there is opportunity to strategize and block your opponents while also trying to fit your pieces onto the board. I like it because it really taps into your right brain’s spacial ability. Currently, my son Brendan is the champ but we will see what today brings.

Saturday Morning Tea

While the woods outside my window are swelling with green, the weather remains cool and cloudy, much like April days instead of May days. As I listen to the sweet song of a robin in the early morning quiet, I am sipping a cup of a China green tea called Xia Zhou Bi Feng. Produced high in the mountains of Hubei province, the full leaves have been rolled into thin strands. Hubei province’s rich, fertile hills and mountains are ideal for growing tea.

I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes. While some of the leaves uncurled a little, most remained curled in their originally processed state. Their color reflects the beautiful spring green of our trees. The liquor is a very pale brownish olive green with a distinct vegetal aroma.

The liquor has a pronounced tangy astringency to it reminiscent of a Japanese green. However, that is where the similarity ends because it is also sweet with that sweetness lingering in the aftertaste.

Mmmmm, time for another cup!