It is 2 years since I took part in Art Every Day Month! In the absence of a group of creative friends or creative groups to work with, it is one way to stay committed to daily art and at the same time be a part of a group of fun artists doing something similar. I dont know why the emails from Art Every Day do not have a prompt for the artwork of the day. They seem to refer to the previous day…. so I will make up my own. The point is that I am committed to Art Every Day!
Day 1. New Embroidery Stitches
I am in bed with a virus, but it didn’t stop me being creative. I got a small box and filled it with threads, needles, pieces of fabric, scissors and a book of how to embroidery stitches. My idea was to learn new stitches and then use them in a creative way, making little vignettes for my sketchbook. I want to record any problems and successes with the threads, the technique or the surface to be worked on.
With this virus keeping me to the bedroom, I read from two books that have inspired today’s work. ‘ Three Dimensional Embroidery’ by Janet Edmonson and ‘The Divine Feminine Fire’ by Teri Degla. This inspired me to create Om Shakti, a small devotional vessel, from coils of torn fabric, embellished with beads and stitch. When I was woken at 1pm by some neighbours putting on floodlights and bringing a lorry with lifting gear outside my bedroom window, I sat up in bed cursing and created some more tiny coils with the same fabric and made little feet for the vessel. By the time I put my head on the pillow at 2pm, I looked at Om Shakti sparkling with tiny beads under my bedside light and made a list in my mind of all the things I am grateful for in life. This pushed away the feelings of annoyance with my neighbor, who in 8 years has never done such a thing , so I forgave him, and anyway all those lovely thoughts took me into sweet dreams.
My husband wants to take me to lunch at a tapas bar in Mancha Blanca. But I am still coughing too much, so I will keep that little gem for later in the week. I am reading Teri Degler’s book, who writes about the incredible life force or creative spirit operating through us and how to tap into this source more often. I read the breathing meditation in Chapter 1 and realised it is something that I do most mornings since starting yoga 40 years ago! It reminded me how good it feels to be grounded and at least at the start of the day to feel at one with the world. I am thinking that devotion could be an adjective and a noun. It could be a feeling, an activity or an object that inspires devotion.
Today I am thinking beads. My brother once brought me back some natural seed-pod beads from Hawaii that are used in meditation, I also have a natural seed-pod necklace that I brought back from a trip to the Amazon. It was possibly made for the tourist market, but it has large pods that make it look like a meditation device. In Buddhist and Hindu meditations they are known as Malas and contain a total of 108 beads. Meditation beads have been used for centuries and are central to many religions. I think of the Catholic rosary beads and the Greek komboli beads (or worry beads) with their one more than a multiple of 4 system – so 5, 9, 17, 21,25 etc. The English word for bead derives from the Old English noun bede which means a prayer. Aw, I am liking where this is taking me, and I have hardly begun.
Day 4: Embellishing Devotional Beads
Yesterday I made 19 fabric beads, they are wrapped in thread and need to be embellished with glass beads, embroidery stitches and other ideas I have yet to fathom. I also need a solid idea for their creation. They are not for wearing, they are not like Greek-worry-beads that make a clacking noise, and they are too fragile to be used as a meditation device and handled constantly. The embellishment process will take considerable time, as glass beads are so tiny and the work painstaking… perhaps a couple a day. It is interesting to be working with small objects due to being confined to my bedroom, with a narrow range of materials. All the time I am working on Devotional Beads, in the back of my mind is how these basic design ideas can be magnified!
Day 5: Lady Godiva’s Bequest
Now I feel better I am studying the history of beads and I know that the earliest prayer beads were discovered in India and associated with the God Shiva about 1700 BC. A worshiper of Shiva would use a rosary or mala of 32 beads and a worshiper of Vishnu used 108 beads. This concept of counting beads whilst saying prayers or repeating the name of a god eventually spread throughout the Buddhist world to China and Japan and eventually to Europe and used in Christian worship.
Today’s prompt is from the knowledge that Lady Godiva, in 11th century England endowed the monastery at Coventry with all her treasure, including her circlet of gems which she used for her prayers. She is better known throughout history for riding through the town of Coventry naked upon a horse. Her husband the Lord of the Manor had imposed heavy taxes upon the population, and she had repeatedly asked for the taxes to be lowered. He offered to lower the taxes if she rode naked through the town upon her horse. She took him at his word. What charity!
Day 6: Embellishing Devotional Beads.
Lucky that I have been invited to a small group of avid stitchers, every Wednesday. I took along my fabric beads to see if anyone had any suggestions. I am not sure these small beads are working the way I would like. Chris, the organiser of the group, suggested making tube shapes of fabric around a tube of wadding, so that I have a central hole for threading them together. That is a good idea, which I will try, but I would like to continue with the spherical shapes too. So I have made a bigger sample, twice the size of the first, with a ball of wadding in the centre. This time I used a self coloured thread to tie them, instead of a complimentary colour. Then I decorated with sequins and beads.
Day 7: Devotional Bead Bag
This theme of Devotion has got me hooked. I have made a drawing of a bead bag to contain the beads.