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Please help the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project!

Photo by Julia Pretl

Hey folks, I need your help! The 9/11 Bead Quilt Project is my artistic baby. It is an amazingly touching and beautiful work of collaborative art from around the world. Don’t just take my word for it, please take 5 minutes out of your day and go visit the gallery pages via the link above…

These quilts have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial, which is being built on the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. Here’s the catch — the completed project is comprised of nearly 300 lbs of glass beads … so shipping ain’t cheap. Fed Ex (or UPS) will charge about $500 for ground service, and it looks like we may have resources for about half of that already.

photo by Julia Pretl

We need to raise another $250 by the end of the year, to get this project shipped to its final home at the museum. Over the years, we have done some crazy fundraisers — and yes, even begged from the Bead Community — to get the quilts what they needed.  Now that it is nearly a decade after the attacks, and there are so many other cool beady projects going on, fundraising is a lot harder. People seem to have lost interest, and also, there are a lot of other (worthy) groups out there vying for the same donations.

Frankly, I just don’t have the ability to devote the insane amounts of time that I used to, and just this once, I’d like to retain a little dignity along the way (yes, I realize I may have blown that by writing this post 😉 .  I need some creative ideas for how to make this happen WITHOUT burning the candle at both ends, begging like an idiot, or getting frustrated and dipping into my own pocket as I have in the past.

Photo by Julia Pretl

We have considered a Facebook fundraising campaign, in hopes that word will travel quickly … but I’m hesitant to create a “fan page” for something that will ideally be out of our hands within a few months. We have also considered doing Ebay auctions for the last 9 books (limited edition — we will not be printing more). Unfortunately, the last time I did an Ebay fundraiser the results were kinda sad … so I have some hesitancy on that one too. Plus, I worry that we Americans are so inundated with consumer marketing this time of year, that people will just feel overwhelmed or be unresponsive. Still, in the face of all of these obstacles, there has to be a solution. If you have ideas or suggestions for a simple and creative way to raise the needed funds to get these quilts shipped to their proper home, please let me know!

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A peacock, proper…

These leather peacock feathers are destined to become pins, fascinators and barrettes. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll add bead and/or feather work. I’ll probably try a few that way, and leave the rest plain — insomuch as a peacock feather of any type could ever be considered “plain”.

This series was inspired by the passing of an old friend, whose symbol was a peacock. I made several to give to her friends and loved ones, and the ones pictured here will (eventually) be finished and sold. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance  in memory of Mahala.

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9/11 Memorial Bead Art


 In response to the tragic events of 9/11/01, I became a part of  The Bead Quilt Project, which is an international collaborative art memorial project that was designed to offer hope and healing to all whose lives were changed on that day. When we started out, I could not have imagined how this project would snowball or how it would change my life. In the nine years since, I have learned so much about the healing properties of art and also about the beauty and resilience of the human spirit!

We invited people to express their feelings in 3″ x 3″ beaded squares, and we were stunned to receive nearly 600 beaded squares from around the globe! These tiny works of art were sewn together to create “quilts” that reflect the full spectrum of emotions and responses that rang out around the world.

The quilts spent nearly seven years traveling around the US on exhibit before we were able to find the perfect home for them. They have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center Site. We are in the final phase now, just trying to raise the funds to transport them to their final home in NY. I invite you to visit the 9/11 Bead Quilt galleries today, to enjoy the beautiful sentiments contained in this truly special work of art.

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Heading into the Last week of Beading For A Cure Auctions!

Are you familiar with Beading for a Cure? It is – in my opinion- one of the coolest bead charities out there, and so very worthy of your support.  Each year, I am amazed by the innovative beadwork that these artists create, and also by the love and commitment that the board members devote to making this happen. A fun aspect of this annual fundraiser is that you are able contribute to a very worthy cause AND potentially win a beautiful piece of bead art for doing so. Win-win, right?

If you’d like more info about this organization and its mission, you can click the link above, or scroll down for a description that I borrowed from their “About Us” page. If you trust me that this is an awesome organization that needs your support and you want to check out the super cool bead art RIGHT NOW, you should click here for a link to their current auctions. Please keep in mind that the current auctions end on May 2nd, and the final round of auctions for this year’s challenge will end on May 7th, 2010.

More about Beading for a Cure:

Layne’s Legacy is an annual beading challenge dedicated to raising money for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Association in honor of our friend Layne Shilling, who lost her battle with colorectal cancer in November 2002. The premise of the challenge is simple: participants purchase a kit which contains a variety of beads. Each kit is identical. At least one of each bead type must be used in the finished project and the beader can only add one other type of bead to the project (but as many non-bead items as they wish). The completed works are as varied as the beaders who created them. In the past we have had jewelry, sculptural work, and decorative items.
When the projects are all finished, they are auctioned off on eBay and all of the proceeds (minus operating costs) go to the NCCRA, donated in Layne’s name. This is our way of honoring the memory of a wonderful beader and good friend. Even those who never had the chance to meet Layne have joined into our cause. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use your artwork to help find a cure for something as insidious and devastating as cancer.
Our goal with Layne’s Legacy is three-fold. First, we want to keep Layne’s memory and spirit alive in all of us. Second, we want to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and the need to fund research to find a cure for it. Third, we want to raise awareness of beadwork as a serious artform, and beaders as artists with skill and heart. As well, we all want to have fun with this! While we’re doing this for a serious reason, we all love to bead, and it’s a great challenge working with beads that someone else has picked out. It’s very rewarding to see the various projects take shape. Usually, no two projects are anywhere near alike even though we all have the same beads!


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Art, Culture & Respect

Hey artsy/creative people,

I’d love to hear how you integrate cultural ideas into your work and if you have any thoughts on how to do this respectfully. I ask because there’s a concept/imagery from another culture that really resonates with me right now, and I’d like to explore it in my work. However, it’s a pretty deep/sacred thing and I don’t want to “cheapen” it.

Sometimes I see people imitate (or even just appropriate) my dad’s culture and it makes me feel angry and embarassed for them. My ancestors’ spiritual values have evolved over many (many) generations — some people dedicate their whole lives to learning and living these ideals. For example, dancers in the sundance ceremony often carry scars which reflect tremendous sacrifice and commitment to their community. So when some rich kid from the big city goes and gets scarification done in a nice sterile studio — as opposed to learning about the customs, making the corresponding sacrifices, and you know, actually DOING THE DANCE — it kind of belittles the whole thing (even if that’s not the intent). That said, I certainly don’t want to approach someone else’s beliefs in a superficial or irreverent way.

By the same token, we don’t live in a vacuum. Most of us are exposed to, and even influenced by other cultures on a daily basis. The term “culture” speaks to a community’s history, ideology, spirituality, music and art (and food! although that kind of falls under the “art” category in my book ;o) . These are all wonderful things to enjoy and explore — so why hoard them? Hopefully, sharing and understanding each others’ cultures offers humanity a way to connect and work together for a better world.

So my questions are, how do you approach the use of cultural ideals or symbolism in YOUR art? Do you strive for authenticity or loose interpretation? Do you let it inspire you but create your own thang, or?? Do you study the subject extensively, or just explore what it means to you? How do you walk that fine line of drawing inspiration without appropriating?


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Remembering September 11th

My travels with The Bead Quilt Project have introduced me to some of the most inspiring people. At the top of that list are the families and rescue workers of 9/11, who remain resilient, hopeful and proactive in the face of tremendous loss. I’ve learned (and grown) so much from knowing them.
We weren’t able to bring the quilts to New York this year for the annual Voices of September 11th memorial… but I’m thinking of all those people, and holding them in my heart today.
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Long lost box of beadwork unearthed!

We recently cleaned out a storage unit that had been untouched for some time. I was psyched to find a box of beadwork that I thought had been lost in a move years prior!
I’m guessing this work is circa 1997-2001, and it’s in various stages of completion. There are some pieces I’d still like to finish … like these two necklaces in the upper right:

They’re from a “goddesses and angels” phase I went through. In 1999, a dear friend of mine died. I can’t help thinking that if she’d nurtured herself as much as she did everyone else, she might still be around. It became really important to me to remind my women friends that they’re amazing — divine, even — and to honor that. These necklaces (and brooches) were the result. It’s nearly 10 years later, and this sentiment still resonates with me.

Besides, they’re almost done! The bright blue one below is worked in microbeads (mostly 16/o to 18/o) and features firey opal and rainbow moonstone cabochons. I have her pictured above her big sister there for a sense of scale. All she needs now is some arms (or wings) and to have the neckline polished off:

Other pieces will probably remain unfinished, like the multitude of amulet bags. Below are just a few. Some are pretty cool — but it’s been more than a decade since my big amulet craze, and I’m still burnt out on making them! 
I think the little dove amulet is the most recent work in this box. It was a sample for a pattern Julia created as a Bead Quilt fundraiser in 2002. At that point, the quilt kind of took over my creative/beady energy and I didn’t bead again for quite awhile.
This box runs the gambit from “wow, I need to explore that idea more!” to “OMG, what was I thinking?”. Some pieces will be finished, sold or gifted, while others will stay as they are. All of these pieces are special, they represent a piece of my past — of myself — that I thought I’d lost long ago!