Monday, August 13, 2012

A Gift For Dear Grace. . .

Fair Warning!!! This is my longest post to date! There are lots of pictures and I promise to keep my thoughts as light as I can. When I went through my photos and chose pictures for this post, I couldn't believe quite how many there were. I told Mark there are so many photos that I think I should forgo the little things and he said no've been working on it for a long time and it wouldn't be fair to your friends, Grace or yourself. After thinking about it, he's right. So, here we go. . .

I have been working on a gift for a very sweet friend whose heart is as big as her talent. I started this gift many, many moons ago for Amazing Grace. Besides following her blog for a long time and being inspired by her beautiful beading, I was fortunate to meet Grace, and a few of her friends in October, 2008. I have very fond memories of that fun afternoon that, unfortunately, flew by way too fast. I can tell you...she is such a sweetheart and gentle soul. I remember her blue eyes, her gentle smile, her long braided hair and her laugh...she has the best laugh!!

Anyway, this gift has been a journey. Again, I have learned so many lessons. I had a few false starts, a number of do-overs, one total flop, dealing with my inner critic for awhile and the frustration of running out of seed beads over and over again (total underestimation on my part)! But, irregardless, the lessons learned were valuable ones. Though slow, I persevered and finally finished her gift.

A funny thing happened while I was packing Grace's gift. I went through some of my photos to make cards and was smiling over some of my squirrel pictures. I was feeling rather bad because I had intended to be done in April, then May, then I verbally told her that I had hoped to have it waiting for her when she returned home from a trip in June, and here it was almost nearing the end of July! Anyway, I thought that I would make her a fun apology card/book with some of my photos. These photos aren't great either because I just snapped pictures of the book quickly so that I could share it with Mark. You know I love squirrels and for some reason, we both still chuckle about it and I thought you might enjoy it too.

Grace had mentioned that she loved the sunflower brooch that I had previously made and I knew that I wanted to make one for her.
Then a funny thing happened in February, 2009, when I had mailed the doll I had made to Monica. After dropping it off at the PO and knowing it was on it's way, Monica made a post that she and Jeff were taking off on a rendezvous together. Panic set in of how long the PO would hold her package and I wrote Grace a note and asked if she had any idea how long lover boy and lover girl were going to be! ~wink~! In the subject line of that email I wrote. . .A Penny For Your Thoughts. It all turned out well, and they were back to receive it days later before it would be returned to me.

Months later, I wrote Grace and asked her if she wouldn't mind telling me her DOB. I knew that I wanted to pay her back that penny that I owed her. So I found the penny, not just any penny, but a *special* one and began to bead around it. I was treating it like a brooch and then I thought that it would be boring to send her two brooches, so I wanted to come up with another idea. Oh, I DID!!! I decided that I could maybe make her a little simple beaded box (you know, like the beautiful ones that Lynn makes) and then glue the penny brooch to it. Oh, it was a lovely idea, BUT, it turned out to be a total flop...disaster is more like it! The beading, the box, the whole nine yards. I knew if I didn't like it, Grace wasn't going to like it and I couldn't bring myself to glue the penny brooch on it a second time. There is more to that story, but I will stop there. I will tell you that the box was beaded twice and so was the penny brooch. But in the end, it all turned out well! I have collected small boxes for years and pulled out a couple that I thought might work and found one to glue the penny brooch on. It's a little treasure box that's called...A Penny For Your Thoughts.

Well, I knew in my heart that I really wanted to make Grace a special doll. I had been mulling around some ideas last fall and wanted to place an order for a special one. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I wasn't sure what Monica's thoughts would be or if she had time to make it for me, etc. I finally contacted her and asked her what she thought. We discussed the idea and she agreed to create her. I was thrilled that she'd do it, especially because it was around the holidays.

As you know, there is one doll in particular that Monica makes that I adore...her sitting the one's sitting below in the chair. . .

I asked her if she would make one like it, only bigger, so that I could make a more realistic looking doll. NOTE: I feel SO bad because for some reason, I never took a picture when she arrived and I wish I had that to share right now...please forgive me!! But, trust me, what she made and put together was outstanding!!! I asked her if she could make her some clothes...specifically a pair of jeans and a bohemian looking peasant blouse. I also asked if she could put a *ROCK* or *SOMETHING* (weight) in her behind, so that when I was done beading she wouldn't topple backwards, etc. I sent her some Kona cotton, a pair of my old jeans, two packages of fishing lead shot (instead of a rock) and a package of Peanut M&M's to see her through! ;-)
As soon as she received the package, she started creating her. However, we changed course with the idea of jeans because our girl is a little curvy in the hip. So we both decided that a bohemian looking jean skirt would be perfect. I received our girl and she was FABULOUS! As always, Monica did her magic and then some!!! She not only made the doll, blouse and skirt...she went the extra mile and inserted the weight (counter balance) in the appropriate spot, put a dowel through her body/neck/head for stability, gave her bosoms and even made shoes, a purse and a scarf to go with!!!! She did a beautiful job!!!

Here are a few statistics...

* She sits 11" tall
* Her face is approximately 3-3/4" across
* Her shoes are 3-1/2"
* When complete...she weighed in at approximately 2.5 pounds

Although I received her at the end of November, I didn't start working on her until January. However, I certainly was putting my thoughts together and gathering beads that I wanted to use. I knew Grace loved green and blue, so I decided to use peridot, light sapphire and topaz. I knew she was going to be a 'Flower Child' from the beginning and that there would be flowers in her hair and flowers everywhere. . .
'Flower Child'
A hippie, especially one advocating universal peace and love as antidotes to social or political ills.
Origin: From the custom of carrying or wearing flowers to symbolize peace and love.

I began by stitching flowers and leaves on her skirt and once I got started, she just kept evolving. . .

Then I did some embellishing on her purse. . .

As I was beading her purse, I thought every girl needs a wallet so I stitched a wallet with a snap closure to go inside. . .

I knew it needed some money, so I included three quarters. One Alabama quarter that represents Monica, one Oregon quarter that represents myself, and one Indiana quarter that represents Grace. After all, it was a joint collaboration to create this doll for Grace. . .

Then I stitched her a bracelet and a ring. . .

Embellished her darling little shoes. . .

And, here she is wearing them. . .

I also, finally, made the decision about signing my pieces, when I can, with beads. I've thought about it for a long time and I finally decided to just make a simple cursive 'L' for Lisa that will have a Swarovski bead or beads above the tail. So, she also got an ankle tattoo. . .

I wanted her to be sitting on a small quilt. I found a quilt I liked from a lady that makes doll quilts in Washington, and started beading it also. . .

Finally, it was time to bring her to life and bead her face. I chose some light colored beads, added some flowers and leaves, added some green sequins (gifted from Dot), and stem stitched a blue headband for her hair. . .

Then I began the journey of beading her long hair. This is where I ran out of seed beads over and over again! I used 6-1/2 hanks of vintage beads, a few packages from my stash, a number of tubes, and I bought 6 more hanks and used five (less one strand) of those before I finished. So her hair ended up being a mixture of vintage and new. In the end, I used 12+ hanks to complete her hair! Her hair is 6-1/2" - 7-1/2" long and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take me as long as it did to cover the back of her head with hair! Yesiree, still learning plenty of lessons. . .
Her hair is loaded with various flowers, leaves, bicones, drops, hearts, millefiori beads, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, birds (3 brown birds gifted from Dot) and ladybugs. I can tell you that I added some exact quantities to her hair. . .10 Swarovski copper butterflies, 4 glass ladybugs, 60 bluebell flowers and 50 Swarovski Light Sapphire Margarita beads...special date...special year! She has a full head of hair! I don't have small hands and you can see that her hair pulled into a ponytail fills my hand. . .

A close up. . .

Having photo shoot outside of face and hair. . .
I kept debating about her possibly holding something (or?) and was trying to decide what it would be. I was thinking about beading a tiny stuffed doll, a small bird or even a small dragonfly, but I still hadn't made a decision. I was visiting Grace's post and she was having a giveaway of butterfly garden seed packets to help restore their habitat, especially the Monarch butterflies. I immediately knew what I should make...a Monarch butterfly. . .

So I did some research on the real size, shape, etc., and began to bead. I had a false start beading some of the white spots in circles and I knew it was going to take up too much room and not turn out realistic looking. So, I started again and stitched the beads more linear so I could get the pattern on the wings to look real. It is within the real size range of a Monarch and she is a female. I knew I would make it into a brooch. I built the body parts up (head, thorax and abdomen) with felt and stitched over them for a more realistic look. When I was done and ready to finish it, I didn't want the butterfly to be flat...I wanted the wings to be upward a bit. So I talked to Mark and we headed for the garage. He pulled out a few possibilities that might work and the final choice was stainless steel screen. I carefully cut it out and bent it to the shape I needed. I glued and sandwiched the screen between two pieces of posterboard then then backed it with Ultrasuede and a pinback. I started brick stitching around the edge and didn't like how it looked with another round of black beads, so I made tiny whip stitches around the edge instead. . .

Then the moment came when after seven months, on and off, of creating Grace's 'Flower Child' all came together. . .

" Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

I chose three pictures to share. During her photo shoot, I had moved and tried the butterfly in different positions...on her skirt, between her hands, on her wrist, etc. It was just a matter of where it sat best and what you liked best. But it was part of the presentation/quote for when she arrived home, not that the butterfly needs to remain landed on her! ;-)
I really enjoyed making this gift for dear Grace, and wanted to try and make something extra special just for her. She may not be perfect, but she was created from my heart. She and I had many quiet conversations, but when she was finally done...she was ready to journey home. If this gift brought a smile and warmed Grace's heart, that's all that matters to me.

Thank you again, Grace, for the butterfly garden seeds. Some are just beginning to bloom and others have many buds. Will share another picture of them soon!
I hope that you are having a nice weekend! Peace and love to you. . .~Lisa ;-)


GraceBeading said...

Oh Lisa... I am at a loss for words. You know from out private email exchanges that I have been in a bit of a black hole for awhile and when I received your generous gifts - it brought light into my heart AND it has inspired me to pick up my beads again after a (nearly) 2 month hiatus. I'm thankful beyond words. I like to think I can almost always put my feelings into words, but I'm truly speechless. I know how my heart feels, but I don't how to explain it. Suffice it to say I'm deeply touched and eternally thankful.

For those of you reading this, know that Lisa and I agreed to EXCHANGE beading and while she says she procrastinated for so many months... guess who hasn't even started on her part yet.

This "flower child" doll is SO me, I adore her! Lisa has offered up some really wonderful photos, but alas they do not do her justice. The details in each piece is truly amazing.

The fact that it was a collaboration by two of my favorite artistic peeps (thanks Monica!) is a bonus.

I treasure each piece, but that doll - she is something really, really special. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here (didn't I say I was speechless?). I'll be blogging about my gifts as well in the next few days.

Lisa (and Mark and Monica)... I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Carol said...

This post could not be more inspirational if it were on a promotional Positive Power website!!

I read EVERY word. The thought and creative energy that you used to create this tribute to Grace is just beyond words. I opens a window to your soul for all to see how generous and thoughtful you ARE. I am almost beyond words. I am so glad to know you Lisa. I don't EVER want you to get away from me.
Much Love,

beadbabe49 said...

dear lisa...what a labor of love your beautiful flower child is! Just stringing the 12 hanks in the hair alone is stunning, but then adding all the details and the glorious monarch!!! You get a major standing ovation for this one!
(and the book had me giggling all through must have taken a zillion squirrel photos to have such perfect ones to illustrate your words!)

Elizabeth said...

Dear Lisa,

Earlier today I visited your place and read this marvellous post and had no words.
Some hours later I am still not able to decribe my jaw-dropping ashtonishment. So I decided that this piece of art is beyond words.

The book with the squirrels is hilarious. Never saw such a lazy squirrels.

You signed this piece extra-ordinaire as a true artist.

All the details the shoes, the bag, the quilt, the butterfly so, so drop gorgeous.

I am not even gonna start about flower-girl. Lisa, you went more than the extra mile, you travelled all over the States, if you ask me.

From the bottom of my heart I hope you are beaming of pride that you passed all the obstacles. One thing is for sure, you are the most generous and loving friend anyone can have.

Have a fantastic sunday.

xoxo Elizabeth

girl_gone_thread_wild said...


know that my words cannot convey the sentiment -nor express the gratitude- I have for you, for allowing us to strap in on this glorious of rides you have been on,

written so beautifully, shared so poetically- that squirrel I believe is under your command, as we all are following this heart warming post..

Tell Mark I am ever touched by his willingness to hold your hand so gently, yet to let go to allow your wings to stretch~ your love for each other is true beauty!

We joked about this doll being our, "love child" Lisa.. however truth be told when I look at her, she exudes the very essence of the L O V E you have for your friends, JOB WELL DONE Lisa!

Your beadwork is AMAZING!!!

You've captured our hearts as you've captured Grace's spirit (and zest for life) in this doll.


I read that the presence of a monarch butterfly is good luck.

But, truly.. I know that we all feel "lucky" to have you in our lives,

Thank you for sharing your life with us!

xo, m :)

girl_gone_thread_wild said...

Absorbing every little step, the fine & small details to the great, big ones- love the signature "L," the expression on her face, THAT hair! Wow. Lisa, you really really outdid yourself on this one!

Your artwork spoke to me in more ways than one.

3rdEyeMuse said...

I'm sitting at the reception desk at work ... weeping.

Thank you for sharing you beautiful heART with us ... your words & that amazing creation have moved me.

KV said...

Oh, Lisa! There are now words that can adequately express how pheonomenal this project was. And it couldn't have been made for a more deserving person, either.

When I saw all that beaded hair, I cringed knowing how much time, supplies, and determination it takes -- and my only experience with beaded hair has been on Comfort Dolls!

You are a marvelous treasure of a friend -- your wonderful post and photos will stay with me for quite a few days . . . .

Kathy V in NM

Whytefeather said...

What a wonderful artwork you have created, for a special friend. Just wow, loved your story of working along and all of your thoughtfulness for each step of the way.
A truly special gift, as all gifts from heart and hands are.
What a huge inspiration you are!

Lynn said...

Oh Lisa! What a treat!!! And Grace is so deserving of such an incredible gift.

The squirrel book is a hoot! You should write a children's book!! Those are the best squirrel pics :)
I'm sure Grace was giggling page after page.

Your penny brooch is gorgeous! Love the colors and it looks great on that box.

Seriously, your flower child is beyond words. I want to run my fingers through her hair and trace her eyes and nose and mouth and fondle those sweet little shoes and marvel at her jewelry and pet her butterfly, etc etc. Just amazing. I love the quarters - you are so clever!

You're the BEST!!

Jan said...

Hi, I jumped over from Carols blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading this gift of beading journey. Thanks for sharing your photos and your story. The recipient is one lucky gal, it is a gorgeous piece. The love that went into it is quite evident.

Jacky said...

AMAZING...and I have loved reading through this lengthy post about how this 'Flower Child' evolved for your friend Grace.
Her beaded hair is quite wonderful and all of those special details. I love the Monarch butterfuly. You are so clever to be able to create it in beads.
What a wonderful gift from the heart to your friend.

You warm my heart Lisa.

Jacky xox

Dot said...

You warm my heart too Lisa. My eyes are full of tear's after reading this post and looking at every detail of your gift for Grace. I am not usually stuck for words(as you know) but I am today.
Your radiant loving soul shines. What a blessing you are to this world.
Much love my friend
Dot xx

Cathie said...

Such thoughtfulness and beauty from such a beautiful and creative soul. The time you spend making the special people in your life "know" they are special never ceases to stop me dead in my tracks. The doll is magnificient, but more than that - it is an expression of how wonderful Grace is and even more - what a blessing your friendship is. And the book - oh the book. You KNOW how much I love that book. And that squirrel - are you sure he's not stuffed and you posed him in some of those ridiculous poses! Can there really be - such a squirrel? Only in YOUR world - could such a squirrel exist. I'm so blessed to know you Lisa. XO

Micki said...

The doll is just much extroardiany beadwork! It is so pretty!

SpencerGR said...

Oh my god! Your pictures are sooooooooooo cute mom!!! Who gets pictures of sleeping squirrels!!!?!

Love you!!

*~tabby~* crooked heart art said...

oh lisa!!!!
she is truly magical!!
i know that every hand that touched this wonderful flower child is filled with love for grace :)
you are a pure blessing to have as a friend in this crazy world~your thoughtfulness and generosity comes straight from the heart
and as always your bead work is stunning
love ya and miss you a bunch
x's &o's

Healing Woman said...

Your gift is absolutely incredible. I love every bit of the detail. The doll is amazing as is her outfit. Your sunflower broach a piece of perfection. I've decided to follow your blog because I definitely like what I see.


flyingbeader said...

Lisa that is the most beautiful friend thing I have ever seen.


Oh wow! What fabulous gifts for your dear friend. She must be a very special person for you to give so much love

I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year

Best wishes

Jacky said...

Just popping by to wish you a most wonderful and joyous Christmas!

Your package arrived and I was thrilled and overwhemled by the beautiful gifts...thank you so much.

Will email again soon.

Jacky xox

p.s. did you receive my thank you email?

Elizabeth said...

Just stopped by to see if I missed a post or two. Unfortunately not. What is happening in Oregon?

Have a lovely sunday filled with peace.

(my word is porti that is what one pays when sending a letter, hmmm, makes me thinking.)

Dot said...

I miss you Lisa and think of you often. Hope you are OK.
Dot xx