I can share this with you today; the gift has been delivered and you will see it was a surprise and well liked. I’m sure everyone has a friend that is difficult to find a gift to give them, but this is not only about my gift receiving friend but also about my new beading mentor and friend.
I have been very fortunate in my life to have met a handful (maybe a dozen) of people who I consider mentors or inspirations to me. To be a mentor or inspiration to me just means that I want to listen to them lecture, teach, or just watch them create…and I always hope some of their creativeness falls off onto me AND I always learn something from them and I treaure their friendships. This is true of every teacher and mentor I have met and interacted with…all except one.
Cath Thomas is a bead designer and she lives in Switzerland. We have never met in person, but I not only consider her a mentor but also a friend. Let me tell you how we met…
Back in March I happen to be online when Cath posted a picture of her Octavio.
Immediately my friend sent her a message: “Is there a pattern for the octopus? I would like the instructions.”
Cath: “No I’m sorry, very difficult and just haven’t had time to write them. There is an article on my blog, https://samohtac.blogspot.com/2018/05/meet-octavio-or-how-to-take-design.html”
My friend: “Can I purchase the octopus?”
Well I knew the answer to this and so I immediately sent a private message to Cath, explaining who I was and how I knew my friend and that I would love to tackle this project to give to her for her birthday. Cath responded and said to give her a couple days and she would send me some pictures and notes. She also suggested I purchase her design “Tulip Tassel” from her web shop https://caththomasdesigns.indiemade.com/.
Over to the web shop I went and immediately knew this was meant to be. I was working on a beaded rope that was just getting longer and longer with no intended use. But when I saw the tulip I knew that this was going to be my focal point for the rope. I immediately purchased “Tulip Tassel” downloaded and printed a copy.
I read the instructions and knew I had just crossed over from a novice beaded into deep water; I felt like the kid who barely knows how to swim and finds herself in deep water. I knew this was going to be my first really hard challenge, but I gathered up beads and tried making a tulip. Took it apart and started over again…several times. Finally, for some reason I tried using a dowel I had in my tool box and voila it worked. I made my first tulip. I knew I needed to make another and since things usually work best in threes, three tulips was my goal. Amazingly I had the three tulips completed and the necklace completed in time for Easter, April 21,2019.
In the meantime, Cath had sent me notes and pictures. I had compiled all in a file, printed them, read them AND knew I was in way over my head.
Yet, I persevered. I decide rather than order beads online, sight unseen I would buy locally. This would prove to be my first good choice…if I ran out of beads I could just pop over to the bead shop and resupply. Andrea, my bead shop owner (https://beadboutiquekc.com/) helped me pick out beads and I was on my way.
On my way is a relative term, since I had no idea what I was undertaking. I was lucky, my friend had no idea what I was up to and was living in Florida. I was bound and determined to try to make this for her and so…about Mother’s Day, May 12th I took the plunge. Working the tulips had been a big help but they were in different colors and easier to keep track of the correct order…all these beads were pink. After a couple false starts I finally got the hang of it and was comfortable stitching the head. I even got the eyes in the correct places and she didn’t look cross-eyed .
Then came the legs. Cath had said each leg had taken her about 8 hours, that meant one or two days, maybe three for me. This also took several days because I can’t look at pictures correctly. The legs are 6 beads stitched in a Herringbone round for most of the leg; one end tapers off to a point and the other will be enlarged to connect to the head and beak. I didn’t see or read this so my first leg was too large, and never curled like it would when stitched correctly. My second leg was beaded incorrectly and as I was about to write Cath and tell her I gave up; a light went on. I was on my leg making journey. Each leg did take me several hours and I knew there would be more to come…I had decided not to add the suckers until after I had joined the legs to the body thinking I wouldn’t be catching the thread on them.
I had a deadline July 25th and so I stitched on. I would look at the head and had decided the legs would be joined in two groups of four. I decided I needed to stitch the beak in its ring so I could get a better visual in my mind of how the attachments would work. My beak is not the way it should have been beaded but it was beaded.
By July 4th I was beginning to feel the deadline fast approaching and I was nowhere near ready to assemble. I put everything else aside (housework included, but that was the easy part) and morning until night worked on the octopus. All this time I am sending updates and emails to Cath. Her patience is amazing and her advice invaluable!
As I was finishing the legs I was formulating a plan for assembly and I received an email from Cath saying the beak was not connected to the head. My first reaction was “WHAT!” Not connected, whoever heard of a mouth not connected to the head! After much though and looking at my parts I knew I had to make a decision. I decided I had in my mind seen the
beak connected to the head and the legs connected to both, so I went with it. I stitched the first leg on and it seemed to act okay (flow freely), so I continued. I did realize that not attaching the suckers before assembly was a mistake so I stopped attaching legs and attach suckers to with a 1/2 inch of the ends. I remembered reading in Cath’s notes that she attached more suckers after she assembled all the legs.
I finished my Octavio late July 23rd, two days before I was going to give her away to my friend. I bought a box, sent pictures to Cath and received the nicest complement ever. It brought tears to my eyes and still does!
Takes breath away! I swear, when I saw the first picture, I was moved and really sighed of happiness! You can be really very proud! It is just perfect!
I am very much looking forward to seeing your photos, and to learn what your friend thinks about it.
A huge bravo! I’m truly proud of you, of me, of us!
I will treasure my friendship that I have built with Cath through emails forever. Cath is a remarkable woman and bead artist. She designs constantly, shares her gifts with others and moderates three beading groups on Facebook:
Cellini Peyote Freaks (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2158100991128070/?ref=group_header)
From Petal to Pod: (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PetalToPod/?ref=group_header) International Bead Week https://www.facebook.com/groups/internationalbeadingweek/?ref=group_header
She has a blog (https://samohtac.blogspot.com/)
And a store (https://caththomasdesigns.indiemade.com/)
Thank you Cath; I forever in your debt.
Please keep Cath in your prayers, she is having some health issues and prayers are always helpful. Thank you!
And before anyone askes, I cannot share more than I have here about Octavio. She is not my design and without Cath’s permission I have shared all I can.
And my friend, well I think she was as surprised as I have ever seen her and I know Octavio will have a great new home. Happy Birthday,Nancy!
And that’s why we create. For the friendships we have, the friendships we make; so we can share our time, our talents and our gifts. Thank You for stopping by. I hope you have time to stitch today and every day.