I'm a knitter as well as a beader. In fact I've knitted since I was ten and beaded since I was somewhere around forty. I say this because I'm familiar with and have come across yarn bombings in various places in my travels and they always make me smile.
Apparently they made this week's artist Laura smile as well, but then she brilliantly took it further and decided to bead bomb. I find this idea extremely exciting and I think we could certainly create smiles and introduce more people to the allure of bead weaving if we were all to undertake just a little bit of bead bombing.
At first I lamented how I would fit anything like this in.....and then it occurred to me that I have loads and loads of odd bits of beadwork. Some early pieces that didn't quite work out, or maybe a piece that didn't stand up well to wear. These would be perfect for Bead Bombing.
Several years ago, a grouping of blue panels with reflective arrows that looked like street signs were erected under a bridge in Austin. No one could figure out what the signs were supposed to indicate, and it turned out to be an art installation that the city paid $45,000 for, and which no one (including the artist) really liked. Turns out the project ran out of time and money, so we paid a ridiculous amount of money for a confusing eyesore that we all just agreed to never speak of again.
The point of this story… One day, those panels were all wearing fun sweaters and everyone suddenly loved them! Someone or some group had come along and covered them with crocheting or knitting and I was introduced to a new concept - Yarn Bombing. Also known as yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting, or graffiti knitting, yarn bombing is a non-permanent way to create urban art by covering objects with … um, sweaters.
When Marcia DeCoster came to us with the idea of Bead Love, my mind flew almost immediately to this concept and I knew I wanted to do something that expressed my love of beads in places that meant something to me. So, I came up with the idea of Bead Bombing; I’m going to bead the places I love.
Beads do not work up as large or as quickly as knitting, so my installations were going to have to be smaller than what I had come to expect from this guerrilla art form.
The first place I wanted to infect was Bull Creek hike and bike trail. I take my dogs here all the time and it is our special place to “go in the car.”
I had passed this bench many times and it seemed like the perfect place to start.
I decided that circular concentric brick stitch was the stitch for this project. I created a bunch of circles, sewed them together, and filled them in with blossoms until I had a “fabric” of beads long enough to fit around one of the slats in the bench.
Under cover of full daylight in the rain with my mom (stealth is NOT my strong suit), I snuck out to the park and stitched my beadwork to the bench.
A small group of appreciative daddy long leg spiders (sadly, not pictured here) ambled up to see what was going on and, perhaps, if I needed any help (I did not). It felt kind of thrilling to be performing this act of affirmative vandalism, and we left in a fine mood.
The next victim in my lawless crusade would be Pure Austin Gym. I am trying to get myself back into healthy shape. Hours of beading, while emotionally rewarding, isn’t the waist-slimming exercise I fantasize it should be, so I am spending more time at this wonderful gym which features its own LAKE!
After a particularly grueling workout (Thanks, Ryon!), I snitched a rock from the rock garden out front. I took it home and decided that freeform peyote world be the stitch for this project.
As I began working on the rock, I started thinking about the project as a whole. This is the furthest thing from an instant gratification activity I can think of, and there were a lot of hours to fill in contemplation of this endeavor I had begun. I had been asked several questions about it.
“WHY are you doing this?”
This has been a difficult year personally and politically, and a challenging year career-wise. I needed something to bring up my spirits and recharge me artistically.
“Wouldn’t your time be better spent doing something that would make you money?”
Perhaps. But I find that when beading becomes all about making money, the delight gets sucked out of it. If I can do something whimsical from time to time, it pulls me back to that happy place where beads take me just by being beads. That sparkly bird place,
“Aren’t you afraid your beadwork is going to get destroyed or stolen?”
The very nature of this project is to bring the joy of beadwork to myself and others. It is an intentionally temporary art form that is designed to bring a brief ping of happiness to anyone who sees or touches it. If someone feels the need to take it, perhaps that person needs some extra happiness in their life for one reason or another, and I hope it brings it to him or her.
This is going to be an ongoing project. I have several more sites (I have come to think of them as my LoveBead places) that I want to bomb here in Austin. And then other places when I travel. Sometimes I will inform the locations and make it a collaborative effort with cross-promotion, and sometimes I will just sneak up on a place and infect it with beads.
Thank you, Marcia, for bringing this weird and wonderful Bead Love seed to us and allowing us to let it grow in our own ways. I will keep you all updated and post when I can. Please feel free to follow along if you like. Or join in!
Aaaaaaaaaand … If you would like to create a pair of earrings based on the park bench bead bomb, I have a little tutorial for you.
Peace, Love, And Beads!