A Cholla and its Beaded Wall Hanging Bewitch Viewers

A bead exchange initiated from a Facebook bead embroidery group instigated my design senses with repeated challenges of a beaded wall hanging. I raised my hand, volunteered to participate, and the rest is history. From that moment, Mystic Muse pursued me. She crept into thoughts unexpectedly: “What if you used vintage crystals for the night sky?” “How might you translate nature into an important element? What if you used that cactus stick you love as a hanger?”

© 2019, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Beaded Wall Hanging Components

Captivated, I collected materials, including fibers, seed beads, color-coordinated objects such as felted scraps or bead embroidery ufo’s (unfinished objects). I combined natural elements like a dried cholla stick with bling ones – think vintage Czech buttons – and focused on a palette of purple and bronze.

The haunting face, felted object and intriguing bits of fiber such as Shibori silk included in that bead exchange project kept calling me. I sensed the birthing of a wall hanging, a first-time project. My pioneer spirit danced its approval.

Ask Questions, Open Possibilities

I laid out a potential design then snapped a picture. I then queried the bead embroidery group with a series of open ended questions. The amazing support I received cemented my decision. Some of the suggestions were spot on. For example, one person asked if I could cut the cholla in half lengthwise. I hadn’t explored altering my natural hanger. 

Enter a short exercise in frustration. I experimented with a jeweler’s saw and then a regular wood saw to cut through the thick cholla. Next I expanded my thinking to include others I might know with access to machine saws. My need was met when a machinist friend I approached kindly used his bench saw to split the cholla.

Action Generates a Life Force

Once in motion, the project moved with a life force of its own.

© 2019, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Beaded Wall Hanging Mystic Muse Takes Shape

I worked in small patches on the Mystic Muse – – the sky, the hair, the center. My original vision morphed again and again. One group of beads was too dark. Another selection needed some sparkle. What didn’t change was my love of color – the bronzes, purples and metallics that made the piece rich.

Certain aspects like the hanging piece on the right hand side manifested themselves – exquisite vintage trade beads, sand cast brass forms, a purple leather tassel – elements with special details that made me smile. I incorporated a beaded filigree butterfly into the hanger, pieces of wire supported ribbon into the Muse’s flowing gown.

© 2019, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Beaded Wall Hanging’s Butterfly on Cholla Emulates Muse Call

A riotous freeform assemblage of seed beads made the center of the scene. As always, bead embroidery brought balance and joy. The swirls they encompassed suggested motion. Luxe felting on either side helped stage the night sky. Antique Czech glass beads, Swarovski cup chain, Shibori silk and other elements combined to develop an individualized statement.

It was as if the Muse was proving her point: “No preconceived notions. I have a better, more free-form idea.”

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

–Bradley Whitford

Notice Soul Prompts

Srini Rao, author, podcaster and Unmistakable Creative addresses the Audience of One in his latest book and series of articles. He says, “What you’re willing to do when you only have an audience of one will ultimately determine whether you reach an audience of millions.”

When I gathered the pictures for this post, I reflected on the learnings of Mystic Muse: In any endeavor, ask questions. Almost always, you’ll be led to additional resources and options to explore as a result of the answers. 

Secondly, and most importantly, act. Begin. In the process of motion, creativity happens. Course corrections become improvement and glimmers of ideas resonate for exploration. 

At the bi-annual Fiber Arts Fiesta, my wall hanging won Viewer’s Choice. This honor means the world to me because it represents the resonance of Mystic Muse with her audience. In the days that followed, I hung Mystic Muse in a place of honor in my home. It seemed the energy changed as a result. I find myself smiling each time I pass. I’m appreciative of the hours involved, the joy of making and my deposit to my body of work.

Are you a prolific creator? When you contribute a deposit to your body of work, what does it say about your effort? Have you satisfied your primary audience of one?

2 thoughts on “A Cholla and its Beaded Wall Hanging Bewitch Viewers”

  1. Your captivating designs make me pause to appreciate the intricacies, Mary Ellen. Viewing your extraordinary bead work for the past several years, makes me appreciate the steps you share with me/us.

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