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Maxi Starr – Bead Embroidery

Black bead embroidered brooch by Maxi Starr

Maxi is a friend. She is a very tiny, funny, older friend. She doesn’t like being old and will tell you so. She has a tiny dog named Henry, who I covet. Henry is an Havanese and only wants to be loved and give love. (And to know there is a constant stream of snackity type things available on tap – not).

Maxi is an extremely accomplished bead embroiderer (along with many other skills).

In my July 2021 newsletter I wrote about black and white being non-colours. This sparked a certain amount of debate from readers who remarked they liked black and white quite a bit, thank you very much.

As I explain later. It’s not that I don’t like them, they are not natural. Black is the absence of light, and white is all light. They are not colours. My artwork doesn’t involve the use of black or white. Nor do I tend to wear them in clothing, jewelry or even shoes. (Though I have painted all the walls in our house white).

Maxi sent me an email with the subject “Black is Good”, and included an image of a gorgeous brooch she made to clasp a cape (see above). So pretty. After some more to-ing and fro-ing she sent me pictures of a couple of collars.

Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar on model, by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr
Bead embroidered collar by Maxi Starr (commemorative bead from Bead and Button show)

Aren’t they lovely?!

As I become older myself (my girlfriends say I’m there already) – I no longer worry about having an opinion. In fact, having an opinion is fun. People react either for or against. Whatever they do, it’s a learning experience as they challenge your beliefs. I might not ever wear black or white for the rest of my life but goodness – I’ll continue to talk about it if it leads other artists to dig into their creations and tell me what’s what.

Thank you Maxi for showing me what black can do for you …

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Covid 19 – White Rose

Covid 19 - White Rose. Bead Embroidered using a variety of glass beads, crystals, pearls, and cabochons. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Covid 19 – White Rose by Rose Rushbrooke 2021

For more images of this piece and information on how it was made go here.

Back in February 2020 both my husband and I went down with a mysterious bug. I was lucky and was flat out on the couch for several hours. My husband was not, and to this day continues to feel utterly miserable, and very tired on a rolling basis. The main problem for him is the famous ‘covid fatigue’.

This is no strange story. Pretty nearly everyone I know has been affected negatively by this virus.

The hardest part for me wasn’t being sick – a day’s worth of crap is easily gotten over. No, my horror story was how the virus destroyed my world as I knew it. Once my mother told me flat out – ‘you won’t be coming over to the UK for a while, possibly a long time’ the penny dropped.

As far as I was concerned my working life was over. My connection to the universe was severed. My creativity was stymied. My soul was crushed.

I threw everything I was working on into boxes, cupboards, drawers, and shelving. All my studio tables were cleared of any sign of works in progress.

I could hardly breathe.

Who am I now, where do I go, how do I find the motivation to put thread to needle? HOW DO I LIVE?

At the same time as we were being overwhelmed with news stories about the virus our little online thread business burst into astonishing activity. My husband, in one of his ha-ha moments, used the cha-ching sound on his phone for orders when they came in. That ruddy phone cha-chinged every time I turned around.

I was so overdone with the constant noise I begged him to turn it off.

That March we sent out thousands and thousands of dollars-worth of thread. Folks were obviously making facemasks by hand and buying thread to do so. We had no checklists in place, no automated software to help with inventory, not enough business cards printed.

We were just. not. prepared.

I went into a deep, deep depression and couldn’t see any way out. I was being ruled by a cha-ching sound, my days were spent reeling from one order to the next, and trying to find time in between to eat, sleep, and take the dog for a walk. My husband was out every night driving the buses and dealing with the endless parade of walking dead as his customers. And I couldn’t leave the country.

It was a ghastly time.

There were trays of started seeds warming on my kitchen window, ready to be transplanted when they got a little bigger. I had plans for tomato cages, bean teepees, rambling winter squashes, potatoes warm from the summer sun. Oh yes, my garden was going to be tremendous in 2020.

Not.

The seedlings were put outside and subsequently died. Later in the year I walked all the way to the garden shop and brought back 3 tomato plants and 3 pepper plants. None of them did very well. Particularly when they were hit with 10 solid days of wildfire smoke in the summer.

The strawberries ran riot only to be eaten by marauding squirrels while I watched, numb. The rhubarb grew unattended, I picked 10 runner beans after half-heartedly planting some seeds very late. All in all the garden in 2020 was a washout. I didn’t have the heart, or the time.

During late summer I walked through the back garden and brushed by my white rose bush. There were several blooms in the process of dying on the branch. My deadheading had been lackadaisical to say the least.

This shabby rose with it’s curled and browning petals represented my soul. The flower would die, only to give back life to future blooms. I would shake off my grief, brush off the depression, drop the sadness, and feed my future self with new growth.

My heart went into this beaded rose. It was joined by a ladybug, a spider, and a caterpillar. Each of whom have positive symbolic meanings (click the links for each creature to read more on their symbolism).

From the most crushing, soul destroying, appalling event came one of my most meaningful, and heartfelt creations.

I cannot say I am grateful for what has happened to us on this Earth in the last year. I am dreadfully saddened by the deaths during this historic dark period, and the horrific situations many people have endured, are still enduring, and will continue to endure for a long time. I can say I am grateful for what it has done for our ability to survive, grow, and I believe eventually, thrive like the caterpillar, in a brand new butterfly coat.

This year, I look forward to a bountiful garden, many more pieces of artwork, and a new virtual way to connect with my friends and family. What would we be without Zoom!