Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September Bead Journal Project -- Returning Home

I have finished my bead journal project for September.

The name of the piece is Returning Home -- it's about returning back to myself and my life after my Mom's illness and death. During my Mom's illness, I didn't really participate with myself -- if that makes any sense; I didn't exercise, read, stitch -- I only did things that I thought would bring my mother joy and/or comfort. It was an anxious time and, in many ways, I felt "outside of myself", like I didn't really live in my own body -- this piece is about coming back home to me and the things I love and having my Mom with me, inside my house.

Before my Mom's death, my house might have looked something like this pink cabana. A small pink beachhouse with a porch for stitching. (Photo courtesy of appyjumper1025.)

Now, my house if full of my Mom, the color aqua, and sea shells. My mother loved to collect shells and we spent many hours collecting, washing and categorizing each find.

I'll never forget what she said to me one day while we were washing our shells. She said, "Isn't it amazing, Suz, how an animal so small could create something so beautiful. Without their shells, these animals are insignificant, ugly even. But then they make themselves this beautiful home to live in. It's amazing." And it is.

Like the humble mollusk, Mom loved nothing more than creating beautiful spaces for those she loved. Her hobby was decorating and she was gifted in color and design. Just like the shells she loved to collect, her house was a beautiful place and it's where she spent most of her time. It's where she chose to die, inside her own shell.


In this picture, the shells on the right are called blue limpets and Mom loved them because they look fairly ordinary from the outside but when you turn them over, they display her favorite color. I used one of these shells as the bottom left "flower" on my beaded house.

Three other shells form the "flower" on the right side of the door. We collected these shells together the day my Mom bought a day trip on a Seashell Cruise for my husband's birthday.


My husband, like my Mom, loves to collect shells. The two of them were convinced that, if they went on a cruise to a remote island, there would be oodles and oodles of beautiful treasures since there were no people around to get them first.


Even Jack got in on the action.


When we first got to the island, they were so disappointed. There were no whelks, no nutmeg shells, no conchs that day. The only shells on the beach were cockles (which were very common) and lots of small translucent, pearly shells called jingle shells. I happen to love jingles but they are so delicate that they normally get crushed underfoot on the public beach. Here, there were hundreds. I mentioned how pretty I thought they would look displayed in a dish and Mom set about collecting as many as she could.

Mom thought shells were so beautiful that she would put them in her china closet next to her best crystal and tuck them into her jewelry drawer next to her finest gems. One day she came to my house and put this arrangement together with bits of lace and silk ribbon from my sewing table. It's now one of my favorite pictures.


I struggled with the background of my beaded house. I wanted the background to represent the "fog" and the otherworldliness I felt when my Mom became sick. How everything else became unimportant except for her -- how the rest of my life was put on hold or, in some cases, how life tended to go on around me but I was no longer a participant. I tried so many ways of trying to make a foggy backdrop for this piece -- beads, paint, glitter...nothing seemed to work. I added the pink "stars" as bits of myself poking through the fog but now I'm beginning to think that I don't need those either. I'll let them sit for a while and see if they grow on me. Someone left a comment last post and asked, "do you even need a background?" Two days ago I thought I did, now I think maybe not...

Robin Atkin's class is being held here in Baltimore this weekend with a two-day workshop Friday and Saturday and a lecture/beaded buttons class on Monday. I'll have lots of beading eye candy to share with you all then.

27 comments:

Marty52 said...

This must be such a special piece for you! I like the background just the way it is, stars and all. It seems very peaceful to me.

abeadlady said...

I agree with Marty. I sense a peace about the house. Like the peaceful place your Mom is in now. What a wonderful tribute to your Mother.
Arline

Judy S. said...

What a nice tribute to your mom, Susan. That's a very difficult life passage..... Hugs.

Heather J. said...

Wow, it's amazing how much meaning you can pack into such a small piece. Thank you for sharing about your mom ... she certainly seemed liked a wonderful woman.

Debra said...

I share your mother's love of shells too and have them tucked all around my house. I have often wanted to do a shell series and my Tropical Tree of Life was just the beginning of that idea--I see some more work around, about shells coming from me. It's always interesting how one's life experiences form the structure of one's artwork.

a2susan said...

Your mother sounds like she was a very special person, who appreciated the simple things in life and turned them into treasures. Your returning home piece is very beautiful.
a2susan

Chris' Shady Grove said...

I feel such sadness for your loss and such joy for you that you found your way home again. Welcome home!

Vicki W said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mother - the post and the bead journal.

heidibeads said...

Your page is beautiful. Your house is beautiful. Welcome home. What a lovely tribute you have done for your mother and for yourself. I know you'll never forget her and you will grow in peace. Thank you for sharing your mom with us all.

brenco1 said...

What a beautiful piece and story about your Mom and your family. Memories to be cherished forever. Thank you for sharing with us and showing us your beading expertise.

coral-seas said...

Hi Susan, thank you for sharing this.

Form he first pic I saw of your house, I thought it was filled with joy.

My beloved Nan died very suddenly. For the following year, I lived in that detached place that you speak of and in the depths of sorrow.

Then one day I thought of Nan as I had every day, but on this day the thought brought joy and laughter instead of tears and pain. It was a turning point, I still miss her greatly but I have stopped grieving and now enjoy loving memories.

Looking at your BJP, I feel you may have reached that turning point.

Welcome home. :)

Carol said...

I am so glad that I found your journal page. Your first page is what I have found in creating my first page, the ability to put thoughts in perspective and express what we are feeling. This entire post is a wonderful tribute to your mother. You have conveyed your eternal love for her, released your grief and began your journey to come back to yourself. Your mother is truly watching over you.

Allison Ann Aller said...

I can see you in your mother's face....
Now I understand the shells' prominent place in the house. This is so wonderful.
The year you spent "outside of yourself" in service this way will become one of the most treasured of your life...and your journal page here is such a gorgeous symbol of it.
Such good work!!!

mariasangel said...

this is an absolutely beautiful piece--your mom sounds like she was an amazing woman--you are very lucky to have had her in your life!

anne said...

Your bead work is fantastic, your photos as well. When you put on the top of it so many thoughts and emotions it gives it even more deepness.

SueU said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Mother, your shared love really shines through your journal page. My mom collected tiny shells and made framed pictures, I have several hanging in my home.

Barbara C said...

The pink stars are perfect. I hope they grow on you enough to keep them.

Your post is beautiful. It's nice the way you connect the shells to the house. They're both dwellings--houses for our bodies and spirits.

pam T said...

Very beautiful and touching, love the colors and loved your story about your mom.

Muriel said...

Because my english is too poor, I'm sorry I can't express exactly what I feel.
You have changed sadness for something so beautiful and touching, thanks.

Julie said...

I just love your house. Its so sweet, and I love the shell. Im glad you are finding your place again. Your Mom sounded like a great Mom, I know she will find a place in your house. Julie C

Robin said...

So many things to comment about here... the feeling of not "participating" with oneself while the only thing that seems important is being with the illness and death of a beloved parent, the obvious love and respect you have for your beautiful mom, the whole thing about shells, particularly the jingles and the limpets... the complete truth of your experiences of this life-change so beautifuly journaled with both words and beads. Oh, Suz... I will return to this post many, many times... You and this post will be a rock for me with my 91-year old mom in the months ahead. Thank you so much. Love and hugs, Robin A.

Pursuing Art... said...

What a beautiful page and story!!! It is a lovely tribute to your mom. I'm so glad you used the shells...it was the perfect way to honor her! Most importantly...I'm glad you found yourself and came back home. She is there with you...she is within you. I know the feeling of being "outside yourself"...as I went through it seven years ago with my mom. It was so difficult and it takes time to return home!!!

I hope you consider the stars...I think they are wonderful. I look forward to seeing your monthly pages!

~Lisa ;-)

P.S. Your mom was a beautiful lady and you sure look like her!!!

freebird said...

How did I miss coming by to see this post? It's stunning. Your beadwork and your whole story. I love your little bead house with the shells that mean so much. It's wonderful you got to take care of your mother and that she got to die in her own home (my dad did too). It's obvious how much you love her which is a tribute to both of you. Just wonderful.

Phyl said...

...your mom was beautiful!!
And what a talent (like you)with beautiful things.
Thanks for sharing.And your BJP house is lovely!

Hélène H said...

A beautiful piece and a beautiful post.

Susan said...

Hi!
Another fabulous piece....of beading, prose, photos and life! Thanks for sharing!
Susan

sue said...

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