This is what I've been doing while waiting for lightning to strike re: August page. I found a bunch of these little ponies at a thrift store and got to thinking - one of the most wonderful art projects in recent memory is The Trail of Painted Ponies. I thought about all the jars of bead mixes I have and decided to make my own little trail.
The first in my herd is Monet, a spirited little filly. I've laid in the framework on which to build the peyote stitching that will eventually cover the whole pony. I found a website (I love the internets . . .) that gives hints and tips for removing the hair and decals from a Little Pony to prepare it for altering. To use the big faceted crystals I wanted for the eyes, I had to cut out the existing painted ones. Just after I did that, my partner walked into the room and said, "What is this? My Little Equus?"
A road was laid for me a thousand years ago, or so it now would seem as I look back.
I heard a call, not with my ears nor heart, it came up into my skin, saturating me
With longing for another country, one not my own but one that would own me.
I traveled here through time, through lives, through spaces wide, loud, rich and full,
To stand here in the quiet, enveloping stillness, to walk into the crucible of the desert
Where the sun works as the refiner's fire, burning me into a thing annealed.
I have turned my face from where I was; I am my past and need not dwell there now.
All I have learned and done has led me here to this place of light and tomorrows
Where the fire of extinction is welcomed as precursor to the fire of renewal.
It is the Spirit of the South, Spirit of Fire, great lion of life, great dragon of passion
That has led me here, that calls to me still with luminous voice that bids me burn
In the endless cycle of destruction and creation, the fire illuminating all roads to come.
© Morwyn, 2007
The page is nearly done, so I thought I'd write a little about the symbolism that evolved as I worked on this piece. The page is titled, "Fire/Self-Portrait." As you face the piece, the section on the left is the Fire half. First are the descending red flames of destruction, followed by the green fire of creation. There are five pearls on the red side and seven on the green - I will be 57 tomorrow. There's more to this. 5 plus 7 equals 12, representing the 12 principles of Buddhism, a discipline which has interested me since my two years in Japan. On the Self-Portrait half I'll begin at the bottom. These rich wine colors and varied textures stand for the first 20-something years of my life, born and growing up in California. My two children were born there and are represented by the two amber cabochons inside the lemniscate, or symbol of eternity - as our children are indeed our immortality. The next two layers stand for my time in South Dakota and then Nebraska. The bubbly green layer is my time in Japan. The layer surrounding my head is where I am now, here in New Mexico - here in the desert, where I found my own enlightenment. The next layer is the future, full of the fires of inspiration and the warmth of a life well lived. The many-layered stone I chose to represent myself is full of flaws and imperfections that still somehow result in a thing to marvel at, a study in contrast and harmony, dark thoughts and light.
Some technical notes:
I secure the cabochons to the interfacing with Gem Tack. I love this stuff. I use it to bond the finished beadwork to the leather backing as well.
A word of warning about using Sharpies; the red comes off the fabric and onto your fingers if they're even the tiniest bit damp. When I finish doing the beadwork, I soak the piece in cold water and a bit of Woolite, just to get my grubbiness and pencil marks away. This time, the water turned a bit pink, but after the final rinse the color had stopped bleeding. It was only the red that did this, and from what I could tell the color fade was minimal.
Time for some responses -
@ beadbabe re:Melusine; I honestly don't remember how my mythic doll series came about - it was so very long ago. I remember I had just finished reading Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy novel, Sailing to Sarantium, in which one of the main characters is a mosaic artist. This led me to a book on Byzantine art and marveling at the wonderful mosaics of the early Roman empire. From that I adapted my beaded faces.
@ Angela; I think the underpainting worked out well. It gave me a more grounded sense of the piece and helped me break away from some very stodgy color choices I had originally made. I think it helped almost 'backlight' the flames.
@ everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this great project with me. Every stage is a learning, an expanding, a revelation and a wonder.
Now while my fingers heal up and before I start my next project (tentatively titled 'My Little Painted Pony: The Monet Edition', I've got some Harry Potter to read and a poem to write.
These next three photos show some of my bead storage. This is the bottom of the stairwell that leads to our apartment. The wall storage bins are for my accent beads, findings, and some gemstones. The space under the stairs is where I have two bookcases - the large one for seed beads and (surprise!) books. I've been slowly acquiring those square flip-top boxes for my seed beads. I really like the visibility and compact space they afford. The smaller bookcase is for storage containers, cat toys & treats, and the odd craft or two. When was I into aromatherapy??
Here are the Bead Guardians. That's Montag on the bench, ever vigilant. The cat with the shoe fetish under the bench is Carmen. Actually, right now, they like to hang out down by the door - the floor there is linoleum over concrete and it's just about the coolest spot in the building. If it's this hot again tomorrow I won't get much beading done. Maybe I'll post pictures of my chunky-bits storage then.
As I type this, it's 9:30 at night and the temperature outside is 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The air conditioner is struggling to keep it about a degree cooler in here. Too hot to bead.
I can't believe I just said that.
So I was all fired up about the next phase of beading the journal page. I was rooting through my seed beads and I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. My version of Melusine, as a beaded doll. I had set her aside almost a year ago when my inspiration sort of poofed away. I looked at her bare legs and it came to me what to do -
So the journal page will have to wait a bit while I finish up Melusine. She's a water creature, where Valeria Gloria is a fire creature. She'll have a Kraken to care for, as Valeria will have her dragon.
I'll have to live to at least 102 to get these things finished.
I'm trying something new with this page. I wonder if, in the end, the effect of this might not be readily apparent. I'm trying some underpainting. I noticed last month that many of the bead journalists were using printed fabrics as their canvas, so I decided to try "printing" my canvas of interfacing as I go along.
I tried a variety of inks, markers, pencils and paint, but ended up deciding to use permanent markers - a bold move considering my penchant for changing my mind constantly. Anyway, Sharpie makes a bunch of colors, and I had a bucket of them in my office - here's a closer look at the piece:
The photos give a false sense of where this is going. The bead colors I'll be layering over the underpainting won't be the same; they might be complimentary or contrasting, depending on the effect I want to achieve. I'm really excited about the next stage in the beading; I can't wait to see what happens next!
BTW, I came across a curious fact: More people are born in the month of July than any other month, with October running a hot second. Cool, huh?
Not only did it yield enough yardage for the page/flap backs and the purse, but there's enough left over for a dozen bracelets and maybe even a hat. How cool is that.
So. Progress report time:
To answer the questions from my last progress report:
@ Brenda: I found the focal beads in a box of practice inlay slabs. Someone, somewhere, was practicing their inlay technique - layering thin slices of gemstone onto larger pieces of shale, sectioned off with thin strips of metal, then cut into shapes. You see this a lot in the New Indian Jewelry - scroll down for great examples. The pieces I used here have slices of coral, opal, obsidian, quartz and agate. The larger triangular piece is riddled with flaws and I chose it for that very reason. It was a little on the fragile side, so I gave it a coat of liquid glass to keep the slices from flaking off.
@ NancyK: The spiral necklace is just a regular spiral with different sized beads, including triangles.
@ freebird: For this project I had an overall idea and general direction, but when I get to the actual beading, things have a tendency to go their own way, hence all the scribbles as things progress.
The general theme for July is Fire, with a self portrait as a sub-theme (my birthday is this month), and it may even make sense at the end.
One of the most important things I've realized from participating in this Bead Journal Project is the personal decision to change my focus from making jewelry to making art. I'm happier and less crazed this way. Which is not to say i won't be making jewelry as well. It's just not my focus right now.
And here is how my most recent piece came out at the end (click on the pic to get a better look at the spiral work):