This is the Theme for a Year for Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

Annual theme is HerStory: Heart & Hand

Connection. Meaning. Direction. These three words set the stage for my annual theme. A theme for the year is a tradition for me, one characterized by a piece of art that illustrates the concept of my word or phrase.

An article in Psychology Today  describes an easy, five-step way to set your theme for the year.  Author Marcia Reynolds Psy.D. refers to your theme as a guiding light and suggests that you create a daily ritual to go with it.

Away from my routine, my studio and my supplies for the holidays, I played with my annual theme. As the words gelled, I considered how to illustrate them. What would make them come to life? What visual would super-charge my days?

Katie, my youngest niece, impulsively suggested we work together to create something specific. At first we discussed a daily posting, then a weekly one. Given challenges such as the miles, year and calendars separating us, we realistically agreed to a monthly “something” project.

Our loosely conceived agreement suited us both. Craft day, an annual creative family activity, seemed the perfect time to launch our first collaborative effort. Read more about our annual get-togethers in “The Litter of Creativity” or, “Creative Muse Crafting.”

Katie shows her theme for a year, a personalized phone case which she made during craft day with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

© 2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Katie with her personalized phone case

For this craft day, we began with canvases of aprons and supplies such as buttons, embroidery floss, markers, puff paint and beads. (If you know me, you know that beads are always a staple of creativity.)

My sister Sally framed her theme in a word and vowed she would hang her apron in the laundry room where she’d see it regularly.

This is Sally's theme for a year, made during craft day with Mary Ellen Beas Albuquerque.

© 2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, JOY, Sally’s apron theme for the year

My niece, always playful, prepared a literal creation of an apron for the cook.

This Kiss the Chef apron was made by Katie during Theme for a Year craft day with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

© 2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Kiss the Chef, an apron theme by Katie

My apron felt important to me. I asked Katie, to letter my theme. When the afternoon ended, I decided I would add additional components to the lettering.

What does HerStory: Heart & Hand mean?

I thoughtfully embellished the lettering for additional visual punch.

  • Found objects such as a happy yellow color vinyl piece form the anchor for the year
  • A simple flower pin on the vinyl represents my motto, “Gather friends like flowers”
  • In true freeform style I beaded the flower with yellow and purple beads I had with me
  • Colorful miliflori chips, a string gifted me, served as coordinating accents for the picture theme (bottom right) heart & hand
  • 12 miliflori bead chips, the 12 months of the year, are haphazardly placed on one side of the flower
  • A small ruler divides the year into quarters
  • Each quarter holds three months
  • 52 sequins across the top symbolize 52 weeks
  • In retrospect, the apron is a perfect canvas for my theme, a playful and physical symbol, a useful studio element, a a believing mirror for my new year. Here’s to creativity unleashed with HerStory: Heart & Hand, my theme for the year.

Will you set an annual theme for your year this year?