Create a Beaded Journal

I'm delighted to introduce today's guest editor, Robin Atkins.  Robin is a nationally known bead artist and author of four books, including Beaded Embellishment, a book she co-authored with Amy C. Clarke (now Amy Clarke Moore).  Her two current passions are fabricating sculptural pieces and combining bead embroidery with bookmaking to create bead-embellished journals.  I asked Robin to update us on the Bead Journal Project, a year-long bead embroidery project that encouages beaders to explore their lives using the medium of beads.  After seeing the gorgeous journal "pages" and reading the friendly and encouraging words on the project blog, I am very tempted to join this project next year.  I bet by the time you finish reading Robin's update, you'll be tempted, too!–Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor

We Are Explorers!

by Robin Atkins

We are explorers! That’s one of the most compelling things about the Bead Journal Project (BJP). We (259 of us from 16 countries and 36 states in the U.S.) commit to creating one beaded piece per month for a whole year. The idea is to journal visually, using our beadwork to explore and document our experiences, thoughts, and feelings during each month.

We look into various issues; we try to show the essence of some place we love or the seasons where we live; we create impressions of important people in our lives; we give a sense of our special holidays; we celebrate birthdays and births; we explore new design ideas and techniques. Throughout the year, piece by piece, we grow our unique style of expression and fertilize our artistry. Here are some examples of our work!  (Click on the photos to visit the individual artist's blogs.)

Pam T. in Wisconsin is exploring her emotions and experiences of breast cancer, a mastectomy, radiation, chemo and recovery. This is her second round with cancer and she still has a young one at home. Half way through chemo therapy treatments, her piece for February is all about her efforts to get through and beyond this stage.

Sabine E. in Germany creates a bead journal doll each month. Nova, her November BJP, explores “that magpie mentality known so well to all of us! Give me anything shiny, anything sparkling . . . a bit of shell, a piece of glass washed by the sea, an unusual pebble, a set of dentist’s tooth-color-sample sticks (Nova’s arms and legs) . . . I will eventually integrate it into a piece of art.”

And, here’s one of mine. Several of my pieces this year explore my relationship with my husband. This one is Lunar Marriage Dance because it is a metaphor for the way our togetherness waxes and wanes in a cyclical nature, like the phases of the moon.

This is our second year. We began in September, 2008 and will end this year’s BJP in August, 2009. We’re enjoying our work and the online beading community so much that we’ll probably start a third year of the BJP! If you’d like to join us, watch our BPJ website or BPJ blog for registration information.

Thank you, Robin!  For more information about Robin Atkins, visit her website at And don't forget to check out her book Beaded Embellishment, currently on sale for 20% off.  The book includes the basic bead embroidery stitches and variations, instructions for 10 projects, an entire chapter on design tips, a brief history of beading on cloth, and a gallery of inspiring designs.   

New Free Project

Beaded Needlepoint Journal Cover
Judith Durant

Create a beaded journal cover using needlepoint or cross-stitch canvas.  This design is based on a chart, circa l930, from a pocket book published by Maison Sajou in Paris.

Instructions for this project were originally published in PieceWork magazine, the only magazine to cover historical knitting, embellished clothing, quilting, and lacework with well-researched articles and an in-depth look at needlework techniques.  If you're like me and love exploring a variety of techniques all in one magazine, you'll definitely want to subscribe to PieceWork, This project will be free for a limited time.  

Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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