Run-up to the Big Finish (BJP Progress Report #4)

Lots of pictures here, detailing the progress.

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.


  1. This is so lovely and tactile - I really want to touch it.

  2. Outstanding! This is really wonderful! Your use of cabochons is inspiring me.

  3. Wow! I love the density and the progression of sections. And the symbolism ..... an amazing piece!

    Enjoy reading Harry Potter!

  4. Oh ... and thank you so much for including photos of the finishing work and the backside. It always helps the learning process to see how it all comes together in the end :) Thank You!!

  5. an amazing piece of work again.

    Thank you for all the symbolism details. Where do you get all your information from? I love it when symbolism is used in art as if you know what it is sort of meant to be, you get a more more interesting narrative. Unfortunately, we have lost the ability to read works of art like that for the most part.

  6. Just beautiful! No other way to describe it.

  7. Beautiful piece.
    I enjoy seeing the photos of your work in progress.
    And like the others I love hearing about the symbolism behind your page.

  8. thanks for the response to my question, morwyn. having seen two of your finished pieces now, I can hardly wait until you start #3!
    I just finished the last harry potter book and was just blown away by it...I think it's the best of all of them and I liked them all.

  9. I love this piece and I love watching the growth. The journaling is so personal and I love getting glimpses of you.

  10. Happy Birthday, Morwyn!

    I hope your day is as wonderful as this extraordinary piece you created.

    And I am finally going to be able to read Harry Potter, too. Since I was too busy when it arrived Saturday morning, my dear husband snatched up and just finished it!

    Kathy V in NM

  11. Great job. All that symbolism in one piece! You are going to keep what you wrote about it I hope. Thanks for showing all the steps and for telling the type of glue you like. I've tried E6000 but didn't really like it so am glad to hear of another.

  12. Have a great b-day. Your page just takes my breath. I bet you smile each time you look at it.

  13. This is a very moving piece. Happy birthday !

  14. This is so cool, in every way. I really enjoyed the progression photos and especially the photos of how you finished your piece.

    Incredible work.

    Oh and happy birthday!