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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.


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!

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Don’t Be Frightened of Fuchsia

Embroidered Beaded Heart Earrings - candy rose Czech glass beads, seed beads, and silver chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Ever noticed strange things going on when you work with pink beads? All sorts of pink beads. Dyed Fuchsia, Matte Magenta, Opaque Pink, Galvanized Rose etc.

Fire Mountain Gems has a useful chart of seed bead finishes and treatment durability. If you are completely dedicated to making jewelry for the ages and intend selling it to other folks then maybe avoid some of the less durable finishes.

But if you are making something yummy for yourself then it’s a shame to miss out on such gorgeous bright Purples, Pinks and Fuchsias. They are such happy colours.

I look at it the same way I look at handmade quilts. Dyed and printed fabric has the same issues – fading of certain colours. As the years of loving the quilt/bracelet go by you see the shifting, gentling shades. The artwork changes over the years and you can watch it and marvel at the new looks and how the colours work together.

There are quite a few of these fugitive colours in my stash. Some of them I use for my freeform sculptures. They get less handling and are usually not standing under UV rays which cause fading. But I wanted to use them in my jewelry.

I like bright coloured pretties. Must be something to do with getting older. When I was a young woman I might have been an artist but I hadn’t a clue how to dress myself. So I always resorted to beigey-type outfits knowing at least I didn’t look totally stupid. Until … a girlfriend remarked: “you are easy to find in a crowd, you are the one in beige”.

Erm…, not how I wanted to be remembered. (Not sure how I want to be remembered but definitely not BEIGE!).

Now those bright, bright pinks and blues call to me.

Yes, some of the finishes do chip but underneath the galvanised surface is a SILVER bead. Yes, silver. Or metallic anyway. And that’s pretty too. Not only do you have a fuchsia pink pair of earrings but there’s a silver sparkle in there, and a lovely pale pink from the dyed surfaces gentling into the night.

Now doesn’t that make you happy? Worth spending a little time on making something which gives a lift to the heart.

And is a fantastic way to use up those galvanised pinks, over dyed purples, and metal lined blues.

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Bead Storage

Beaders spend a great deal of time trying to organise and store their beads. Various companies have produced every kind of box, container, tray etc. Some of which I do use. However, I find the simplest solution is to put similar coloured and sized seed beads in the pockets of a see through over-the-door shoe rack. This way I can see what shades I am missing – ie. at the moment there’s a gap in neutral colours. I think when I go to bead trade shows or shops I get drawn into the ‘gimmee, gimmee bright colours’ and forget they really shine against a neutral.

On one side of the door I keep the size 11/0, 8/0 and 6/0 seed beads. On the other I put the size 15/0 which I often use and have many more than the larger sizes.Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beadsClear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

Clear over-the-door shoe storage rack for seed beads

I’m not kidding – this system really works for me. I can stand in front of the rack and easily pick out the colours for a project. AND, I can make a note of missing colours. Aha – another good excuse to buy more beads!