Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

Now at the Dayton Institute of Art are grand, elaborate, beaded tapestries made by Xhosa (and one Zulu) women from rural South Africa, “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence.” Ubuhle means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages. In the article on Dayton Local, Amy Dallis writes that the beadwork is contemporary in style, and covers contemporary issues such as HIV/AIDS as well as the universal themes of family, community, and hope. The largest of the 31 tapestries is 15 feet high, and seven women worked for a year to complete it. I wrote about this exhibition earlier, during it’s inaugural showing at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, and now it’s on tour.

This touring exhibition is in Ohio through September 10th. The tour is being managed by International Arts & Artists, and tour dates so far include the Flint Institute of Arts; the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a lovely museum, I’ve been there); the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk; and the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Melbourne, FL. I’ll see it when it gets to Iowa next summer.

Meet Nosey

I took a dimensional needle felting class at the public library, taught by Marlene, a teacher from the Textile Center. Here’s the progression, first body-head-nose:

Front legs and shoulders.

Out of time at the class, now working later at home to assemble most of the rest:

Next to a more realistic panda, I see that this one has quite the nose. Much needle felting of the nose commences, to try to bring it more into line. Now, ears!



Still on the nosey side!

Native American beadwork to enjoy

Three items have come across my desk/email lately that celebrate Native American beadworkers, and I wanted to share:

The Summer 2017 cover article of First American Art is beadwork by Marcus Amerman. The interview with the artist includes questions about creativity, what he needs for his creative process, his travels, his dream project, and his hopes for his creative legacy.

Reading from the preface, long-time Minnesota Historical Society curator Marcia G. Anderson wrote A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag as the culmination of a “three-decades-long love affair with gashkibidaaganag [bandolier bags]. I have scoured archives, museums, and other sources to learn about their origins and makers; I have met, learned from, and become friends with many contemporary Ojibwe bead artists, tribal government representatives, and keepers of the history of these communities.” Lois Sherr Durbin writes it is “Beautifully illustrated, carefully researched, and sensitively written…” I’m a big fan of MHS books – and this one is no exception.

And finally, New Mexico’s Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian presents the exhibition, “Beads: A Universe of Meaning” through April 15, 2018. “The exhibition traces the history of imported glass beads as a medium of exchange, artistic expression, and identity for indigenous peoples throughout North America.”


This is the warping board that my husband made for me. Side-to-side, the measurement between the pegs is a meter. I want a really short warp for this project because of the amount of yarn I have in these colors; it should be a wearable scarf. The warp cross between the two pegs in the center is the one that keeps the warps in my intended order. Nearby, I have scribbled onto a piece of paper: S L S L S S L S – and so forth. (Shiny, gLitter, Shiny, gLitter…) I’m trying for some irregular log cabin design, alternating between a shiny yarn, and one that looks like it has bits of tinsel. The portion of the warp that is log cabin is governed by the glitter yarn, as there’s just one skein, and I’m using it doubled everywhere as it’s very fine; I have more of the other three yarns. I’ve done calculations on the area that it will cover, and that math is governing the length and width of the warp.

Here’s the final warp, cut off the warping board and chained and braided. The shiny yarn is cotton and rayon, the green yarn is angora and wool and nylon, and the thick-and-thin dark purple yarn is wool and acrylic. The fine, fuzzy purple with the bits of tinsel is mohair and nylon and polyester.

On the loom!

The subtle log cabin; subtle in contrast but not color. I’ve alternated “shiny” and “glitter” in portions of the weft, with irregular widths. The warp of the two colors is subtle as well. Next time I do a log cabin, I will use more contrast.


The Weather Diaries at the American Swedish Institute

The Weather Diaries just closed at the American Swedish Institute. I visited, and following are pictures of the beaded works on exhibition. There were pictures of models wearing beadwork as well, as shown in the exhibition link. From the website:

“A stunning exhibition of photographic artworks by Cooper & Gorfer linked with one-of-a-kind installations, The Weather Diaries explores the roots of West Nordic fashion and the inescapable impact of nature and weather in developing a centuries-deep cultural identity in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.”

The exhibition was produced by the Nordic House in Reykjavik.  These first two pieces are dresses made of beads by Nikolaj Kristensen of Greenland.

This is work by Jessie Kleemann of Greenland, an exaggerated beaded collar from the Greenlandic national costume.

I bought a postcard of a photo in the exhibition by Sarah Cooper of the United States and Nina Gorfer of Austria, entitled “Ena with Eyes Shut.” Click through, you won’t regret it.

SAORI Two complete, the caterpillar edition

This yarn is AWESOME. I am having so much fun seeing what patterns emerge, just weaving back and forth. There’s no planning, and most of these pattern changes are not because of a new bobbin of warp.


Solid stripes with something that makes me think of corduroy.

More stripes, with an argyle interlude.

Look at how even and planned it appears, and then poof! It becomes another pattern.

This is just so much fun.

The end. I used one skein of this yarn, plus a little more from a second to be able to use all the warp. I have another full skein of this yarn as well. I highly recommend using yarn with a short color repeat like this, and just going along for the ride to see what happens when you weave.

This is 4″ wide and 56″ long, and thick fabric. This was really great fun to weave. I have no clue what I will do with it.

Next warp is wider and using mixed yarns, including fuzzy and thick-and-thin yarn, and a planned pattern. I get to try out my warping board…