Beaded Michigan: My state in bead embroidery

I adopted Michigan as my home 21 years ago, and I have come to really love the state. This bead embroidery piece includes several symbolic elements that hold my memories…Copper Harbor, the Thumb, the swirl of the city of Detroit. I was inspired to make this piece after seeing bead embroidered works at the 2010 Ann Arbor Arts Fair…they were faces and abstract shapes, fairly small, maybe 3″ diameter, framed. I started Beaded Michigan in August 2010 and raced through the beading of the state quickly:

Beaded Michigan, improvisational bead embroidery

I wanted the fabric to show through only as water surfaces, which meant filling in the neighboring land in a plain way. I chose to fill the land space in one color, with a basket-weave pattern, so that it would not compete with the state, but would be more interesting than a plain fill. It took me a year to get that finished…not because it was hard, but because it was time-consuming and boring.

Beading complete, pre-framing

When it was done, I decided that it was worthy of being professionally framed—the first piece of my own work I’ve ever framed. The frame really helps isolate the water.

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