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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Kenney, Art Nomad

You Never Made One For Me ...

After nearly twenty years of learning my beading craft, my husband comments, "You've never made anything like that for me."  Given that I have created hundreds of beaded projects for numerous people I am caught off guard by this unanticipated but accurate statement.  How could that be? I've made him jackets, cross-stitched a pipe-smoking Bowdoin polar bear for his birthday, created numerous photo montages for anniversaries and holidays.  Is it possible I never threaded a single bead for the man that I love?

At the start of my creative "Art Nomad" beading journey, I tended to stick with "simple" projects like a Christmas ornament drape.  While thumbing through a beading magazine in the mid-1990's, I remember seeing a lovely red Christmas ornament with a beaded drape, and I had to make one! The beautiful white beads cascaded down, while crystal dangles captured the sparkle of lights from the Christmas tree.  I set about to create my own, but something went terribly wrong. My drape was so narrow, the only thing I could do was use it as a "candle sock". Yet the Art Nomad does not give up.

I moved on to silly little projects, like my "Wonder Woman" figure using large kiddie beads and wire. Not too difficult, and I had a great time being able to complete a project over a weekend.  I also discovered that my best creative hours are between 10 p.m. and midnight, when demands for my time are silenced by others' nocturnal desire to sleep. Haha!

Over several years, I moved on to miniature beaded purses, lariats, necklaces, bracelets, bead tapestries, and ultimately working on a bead loom. I never counted my projects, nor did I chronicle them like I probably should have.  Only after several years of beading did I realize I should photograph my efforts. As my skills increased, my need to have a designated workspace grew as well. It is amazing how a little desk with several vials of beads has grown into a workshop with hundreds-of-thousands of beads awaiting my handiwork. 

I think the final prompt for my husband was my creation of a paisley bracelet for our youngest daughter when she went off to college this August. It is a magnificent creation, if I do say so myself. The Art Nomad at her finest!  And yet with my husband's comment, I knew I needed to do something magnificent and "one-of-a-kind".  My bad … 

With this challenge in mind, I select the Man in the Maze design.  Not only is this one of his favorite designs, I think it captures a wonderful symbol of our own nomadic desire to move to the Southwest.  The Man in the Maze is an ancient pattern from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, intended to help children understand the meaning of life.  The maze itself represents our journey through life and the many choices we make in our search for physical, social, mental and spiritual balance.  The middle of the maze is where our dreams and goals are found, and according to legend, when we arrive at the center the sun god greets us, blesses us, and passes us into the next world. 

So here's my lesson learned. When pursuing our nomadic need to explore and create, figure out a way to incorporate the important relationships in our lives. By combining our artistic talent with our passion for a loved one, we have the potential to stretch our artistic expression beyond what we thought possible.  Short cuts that I might have taken on a different project are not an option on this piece. I want it to be unique and infused with love. And so it is!

- Originally published 7 December 2012

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