I'm back from a 4 day class on Tambour beading with Bob Havens who teaches costuming at the University of Kentucky. If you are like me, after watching this YouTube video on how Bob does this incredible beading stitch, you'll think...oh I can do that. I thought that, so when I signed up for the class and headed down to Kentucky last Tuesday afternoon, I was full of excitement in learning a new beading technique. The first day we spent the morning mounting our piece on to the frame, drew out the pattern, and was introduced to the tambour hook. It was all downhill after that. I became so frustrated trying to work the hook, that I was almost in tears. The second day wasn't any better after Bob tried to help me get the mechanics of the hook. I could feel my stomach aching so around 11am, I left the class and went back to my hotel. I was ready to go home and just say forget the fact that there is 2 1/2 more days. I didn't go back to the afternoon session, but instead took a nap & drove around Lexington checking out the bead store (okay, don't bother) and the thrift stores (again, don't bother). I had a nice dinner all by myself and slept 9 hours. I dreamed about that tambour hook. I dreamed about holding it, manipulating it, and trying to work with it on the frame. I woke up with an idea, but since I left my frame back in the class room, I couldn't experiment. So on the third day at around 10am, I had that "aha" moment when it all clicked. So I spent the rest of the day just practicing with the hook doing rows and rows of chain stitch. I hadn't even picked up a bead or sequin at this point. Bob was happy that I the "slow" one finally got it as everyone else was just speeding along. He then tells me that it took him 10 years to figure it all our & that most of the other students had taken a 2 day class with him in Chicago the previous year. Then one by one the other students told me they had taken many embroidery classes. Me? This was my first. Bob then noticed that I sew left to right. I've always sewn left to right for bead embroidery, cross stitch and crewel. Well, I guess to correctly be able to securely hold the beads/sequins to sew them down using the hook, I have to sew right to left. Talk about trying to teach an old dog new tricks. So, then I had to practice trying to do chain stitches right to left...it was hard! I did get some fibers out to play around with as I need to relax so I wouldn't feel so frustrated. I enjoyed this, and Bob thought it a great new way to use the hook. So the question that everyone was asking me...did you have fun? No, not really as it was frustrating and hard. Will you do it again? I am not giving up on tambour beading, but I see that it is going to take many many hours of practice before I can even get to the point that the other students were when I left Saturday. Will I ever get to the point that I can make something using the tambour hook...after 10 years, maybe? So all in all...valuable lesson....if you are going to take a class that falls out of your comfort zone...ask more questions than I did and be prepared to struggle before you finally get that moment of "yes, I got it".
To keep myself from totally getting to the point where I would break down, I sewed on Mother's Love to keep my fingers nimble and to relax my screaming mind. Didn't I say how much bead embroidery is a therapy? It is! So here are a couple pictures. I have not done any surface embellishment and the face needs more work.