Bead Journal 2011

by Virginia Brubaker

The Bead Journal Project was started in 2007 by Robin Atkins. Although this is the first time I have participated in the Bead Journal Project, this is actually the fourth year this has been done. To participate in the Journal Project, beaders make a commitment to make a piece of beadwork for each month of the year, all the same size and shape.

Some of the participants really use it like a written journal to express the ups and downs of their lives, others just as an artistic challenge -- or just to prove that they can take on a project and follow through.

I have tried to figure out a theme for my journal projects, and it's a little vague to me early in the year as I write this, but it may emerge. The ideas I have are around gratitude and the things I notice to be grateful for during the course of the year.

I decided on a 2-inch circle for the shape and size of my beadwork. I came to that size and shape based on a silver brooch that came from my grandmother. I figured that I could make brooches of my finished circles of beads, so with that decision made, I was ready to figure out what went on the circles.


When January blew in, I was sorry not to have taken some nice reference photos of the deep snow and lush evergreens I had enjoyed on a Christmas visit to my sister in Minnesota. But I couldn't seem to catch the feel of that landscape, so I stuck to a more central Illinois look.

I have long enjoyed the look of bare trees, stark against the sky, so I settled on that as my subject for January. By mid-February I had a sketch. (You'll notice that time was slipping by me.)

Then, of course, I realized that I didn't have all the beads I needed to turn that sketch into beadwork, so I ordered more Japanese size 15 beads and waited for their arrival.

I embroidered my January 2011 bead journal piece with size 15 beads. Here in central Illinois, the landscape is mostly flat, so there is plenty of sky, unobstructed by mountains or hills. This piece pictures the fairly typical winter sky -- some blue, a band of gray cloud, with some lighter cloud above.

The tree is a red mulberry, a fairly common small tree in these parts.

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