An evening peek into the art studio, Tepoztlan, Mexico

art studio table covered in beads
Some of the treasures laid out on one of the art studio tables. The beads sorted into their boxes are a palette of delight and also promise of hours upon hours of manual work.

Our art studio in rural Mexico in the evening is a magical place. Cool mountain air falls over the work tables through the windows along with the loud chorus of crickets and, in the mercifully far distance, dogs get their bark on. The scent of roses lends a heady, dreamy note to the evening.

roses and pearls in the art studio
A small bouquet of roses perfumes the air and creates a magical atmosphere.

We arrived in Mexico 2 weeks ago, toting two extra suitcases of art materials and studio tools. I spent a good portion of last week organizing my materials and especially sorting the beads. Taking stock this way puts the palette of available stuff freshly into my head and feels very inspiring.

This table is covered in beads for the mandala project. This is part of the collection that we have gathered on our world travels over the last 15 years and every bead tells a story. The art studio is set up and I look forward to many happy hours over the next few months pouring all these stories into the new mandalas, one stitch and one bead at a time.

Seedbeads, size 11 and 16. 16 are truly tiny, a true 1 mm in size on average. These colors have been collected on 3 separate continents.
glass beads
Glass and semiprecious stone beads and real pearls in one of the many organizing boxes. These have been collected on travels around the world, mainly in Paris and Bangkok, and the pearls are from Shanghai.
orange glass beads
Glass beads from Paris, Bangkok, Shanghai, California, Toronto, and Mexico City.
kathmandu beads
Turquoise and green malachite fine tube beads bought in Kathmandu share a tray with glass bugle beads.
semiprecious stone beads in green blue and black
Yellow jade, pink quartz, white quartz, lapiz lazuli chips and beads, black onyx, green jade, blue amazonite, and turquoise. Gorgeous palette of colors on this tray.
Art studio view with table and computer
An overall view of one side of the studio. My table is covered with tactile color, meanwhile Marc is deep in digital land.

Sorting the Beads

Beads are always being sorted in the art studio because beads are always coming together for test palettes. The sorting feels therapeutic, as if the brain itself is becoming less tangled.

sorting beads
Beads on the sorting tray.

Above, beads are being sorted.

Below, what it looks like when the beads are being “un-sorted”: a jumble of colors and textures on one of the trays shows a palette of materials being considered for the next mandala. Blues, reds, and metallics create a rich feel with citron yellow for contrast.

Threads and beads palette of colors.
A tray with a selection of beads and embroidery thread form an unedited palette of materials in the first stage of creating a new mandala design.

Curious where all this leads to? Check out the mandala project page.

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