The natural world is an enduring wellspring for artists. Just ask Nancy Eha, whose studio overlooks a lake surrounded by forest. Her refreshing online workshop Seed Bead Botany is dedicated to creating a flourishing floral masterpiece with seed beads. Of course, Mother Nature is far more than an inspiration— she is at the very heart of our wellbeing.
Have you noticed how a walk around the block can do wonders to clear your head and organize your thoughts? Or that a room with a few green plants—or even fake flowers—can put you at ease?
Throughout history, we have recognized the intrinsic value of all things green and growing. The ancient pleasure gardens of Babylon and Persia were intended as much for relaxation and enjoyment as for spiritual and emotional healing. In our modern age, more and more research confirms that natural settings offer immense benefits to our physical and mental health—if only we are willing to go out and get them.
A Dose of Nature = A World of Good
Studies show that just a 15-minute walk in nature can lower our blood pressure, our heart rate, and our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Furthermore, people who live near green areas have lower rates of depression, heart disease, and mortality. This fact holds true even if those people don’t actually take advantage of using the green space. Merely by its presence, nature has the power to calm us, sharpen our minds, and make us more empathetic.
This bond with nature is so profound that even images or photographs of the environment have a positive effect on us. You’ve probably heard that hospital patients who have window views of trees and grass recover more quickly than those with no windows. The same goes for school children; they perform better in school when they can look out at more than just metal and concrete. Similarly, greener communities tend have less violent behavior.
Botany 101, with Seed Beads
No wonder nature is such a common expression in our artwork! Now that I’ve extolled the virtues of spending time in natural realm, let’s get back to what is bound to be your next project: Nancy Eha’s online workshop Seed Bead Botany.
Instead of giving you hard and fast rules, Nancy provides a literal garden of techniques and tips so that you can bead your way to natural paradise. She covers the basic of controlling your beads to lay flat on fabric and then walks you through several useful stitches including the beaded back stitch, feather stitch, stop stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and raised satin stitch. She guides you through the building blocks of vines, stamen, petals, leaves, and berries. And then she sets you free to bead your floral fantasies!
I love Nancy’s suggested assignments throughout the course—first practicing vines, then adding flower centers and petals, even encouraging you to use your imagination to invent a new species.
To appreciate just a fraction of the amazing variety of flowers and plants, try visiting a nursery or botanical garden near you. On a recent mission to “green up” our apartment, my husband and I fell in love with all kinds of glorious colors and leaf patterns. I found myself snapping a barrage of photos, each vibrant specimen proudly displaying its unique petals or foliage. I expect these images to come in handy for artistic inspiration, not to mention other positive influences.
If you’re looking for a project that calms and focuses your mind while connecting you with nature, look no further than this workshop. To truly get the most out of it, why not move your beadwork next to a large window with a view, or even go out on your porch or to a community park? After all, nature has been shown to improve our attention, memory, and creative problem-solving abilities—all qualities that any artist would appreciate!
Go be creative!
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group
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