For Bunnell Street Art Center’s Member Exhibit in 2023, I submitted three experimental pieces made with laser cut wood, hand-marbled paper, acrylic paint and inks, and glass seed beads. These pieces will be available for sale for $200 each at Bunnell from September 8-30, and the show opening is second Friday, September 8 from 5-7pm with artist talks at 6pm. Please support this wonderful organization by becoming a member or purchasing art by one of the many talented contributors to this fundraiser.
After adding a few seed beads to some laser-cut earrings and participating in a wonderful beading workshop set up by Melissa Shaginoff and taught by Unangax̂ artist Qanglaaĝim Aangsuu, I wanted to try beading a more complex laser cut piece.
I scanned very quick drawings from my paper sketchbook, used stroke tools in Adobe Illustrator to create all the tiny holes, and then cut the basic shapes out of 3mm Baltic birch plywood with my Boss Laser. Following some quick paint washes and a coat of shellac, I beaded through the holes and then backed the beadwork and wood with scraps of hand-marbled paper to seal up the threads and add solid areas of color to balance all the detail. Lessons learned: don’t make the tiny wood elements smaller than 6pts, and be very gentle when tightening threads to avoid breakage.
The theme of this members’ show is “Taking Care”:
How do artists express care for self, community, other life forms and the land? How do artists picture resilience, innovation, and healing? As first responders, artists lead as healers through their creations. In times of tension, crisis or distress, artists surface truth and create images of energy, vibrancy, and hope. The exhibition, “Taking Care,” aims to foster hope, spark joy, and nurture self and community resilience.
Beading was a joyful part of my childhood art and crafting. I’d save up my allowance to buy small packets of seed beads from Ben Franklin Crafts in Anchorage to bead tiny lizards and other keychains, followed closely by earrings, rings, and other small ornaments. Even riding in the car, I *had* to bring my beads and work on tiny projects that I’d try to sell from a table at the end of our driveway to unsuspecting neighbors – my parents confirm that I was out of control! When I lived in South Africa as a teenager, I revisited my obsession when I saw the magical beadwork of the many artists from fine art galleries to roadside stands. The womens’ beadwork cooperatives made spectacular work that I still find inspiring, and their work embodied the incredible effort required for resilience and healing after apartheid. I loved visiting the studios of women working together: probably my first experience of seeing working artists collaborating. As I was in Johannesburg in 2001-2002, including 9/11, beading was a reassuring throughline back to home and childhood, and now in 2023 I again found my box of beading supplies waiting for me when I needed them.