I wasn’t raised in a doomsday cult, but, some undertone of an impending tribulation pulsed beneath my life like a subway. An invisible, yet, omnipresent force that carried much of my generation into the twenty-first century – something unspoken among my kith and kin, but, regardless, it crept into my subconscious.
So, when I awoke on January 1, 2000, I was completely disoriented. The world was still in existence. I was lying in a wooden platform bed under a vintage linen-and-lace canopy, the same bed I’d gone to sleep on hours before midnight.
My conscious mind finally connected and concluded: The Apocalypse never occurred. The end of the world that I’d feared for 40+ years was a hoax. Hurray!
It was like being given a second life. A secular rebirth. And I leapt into the opportunity with gusto and decided to take some risks I’d put on hold.
Artistically I chose to switch from hand weaving, from wearables, from adornment to something more primal in my heart. I went spelunking into the source of my original creativity. And I found it in my elementary school coloring books. Yes, those newsprint books with pre-sketched images that appear completely uninspiring.
Well, as a kid, I found a wealth of potential in their emptiness. I had a private ritual that I’d begin with: over-coloring the skinny lines with thick black crayon. Once I’d plumped up the image, I’d fill in color with wild abandon and force of motion. I wasn’t satisfied until the color was solid – buffed to a waxy shine. My primary passion was color – bold, saturated, flamboyant color that Crayola and elbow grease produced.
So, I took this remembrance to my studio and starting drawing cartoon scenes on tissue-thin paper. Then glued them to felt and began stitching through the paper with poppy seed-sized beads. I used black to outline and color-gorged beads to fill in the forms. And, magically, my bead paintings were born. Well, not so magic – it took a month to produce a detailed piece the size of a postcard, but, I was so in love with having crawled back inside my inner child’s uninhibited imagination, I rarely noticed time.
Love and passion have that tendency to swallow time and translate it into non-time – or – maybe that’s eternity. The eternal Now. Something transcendent. Something that was transporting me into happiness because I was back in my original skin. I was finding the sound of peace as I strung and stitched beads.
Objects so tiny and inert, who would have thought they contained such power. As I worked, I began to see the beads as words being threaded into sentences – words painting brush strokes of meaning. It was then that I connected writing and beading, realizing that they are tandem in my soul. I need their balance.
The next step of release came by delving into my incongruity of lust for inanimate objects. I explored and combined the shapes of flamingos; Route 66; diner/café/coffee shop culture; small towns with diagonal parking; moss-carpeted, lichen-splattered rocks; ruins; desolate landscapes; marooned and rusting trucks. I mixed and matched vivid color and disconnected images into postcard art – like little love notes to send to myself.
And to the world, as I nestled each in a handmade shadow box and sold them through galleries. My beaded children eventually left home and traveled independently to foreign lands.
On this page, I want to share some of my beadery and its inspiration. Words and images are so closely chain-linked in my heart that I want them to coexist in the same blog space. I’m essentially regathering the scattered energies of creation and corralling them into one virtual address. Please come share the whimsy with me . . . .
This is a scene from Route 66 in Arizona. One that I’ve passed many times on road trips. There’s a BNSF train in the background (I adore watching trains cross the western landscape as I’m driving – they provide such cozy company) and there stands the hollow ruins of a traveler’s store in the foreground. A photo of the actual remains of the business is included, along with a photo of me standing on the Mother Road hugging a Route 66 sign.
A Route 66 landmark: The Snow Cap in Seligman, Arizona. I’ve blended it with a classic Corvette in pink and a pair of flamingos “driving” in the spirit of Christmas. The still functional drive-in is featured in the background of the photo where I’m standing on the Mother Road. The classic red Corvette is parked in front of vintage gas pumps.
Now here’s an example of my love for rusting old pick-up trucks. But, I can’t just leave them in tones of corrugated blood or decaying brick; I have to reanimate them with Crayola colors – alive and screaming happy! I especially adore plump trucks, so, the one marooned in the field was good fodder for sketching. The gas pump was inspired by the collection at Hackberry, Arizona. And the Mobil Pegasus . . . well . . . he’s long been a magical creature on the stage of my inner theatre. I love that he’s flying off toward the moon after years of being immobilized on a metal sign.
This bead painting is an homage to my favorite childhood diner – The Dinner Bell Diner in New Jersey . . . the one where my best friend and I would meet for Saturday lunches of cheeseburgers and Cokes, where we’d slip a stack of dimes into the jukebox to listen to our beloved Beatles’ songs back in 1963 – 1964.
To find out a bit about the process of bead painting with embroidery, please see my Cartoonery page.