Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's the end of the year . . .

 . . . thank goodness.

It was a tough year; I'm very glad that it's nearly over. I hope that the coming year will be a better one!  No resolutions for me; I intend to keep working on learning whatever I can, and doing my best to deal with whatever life sends me.  

We're seeing the old year out with an appetizer dinner; I've been making nibbles all afternoon. It's a fun tradition that we all enjoy; everyone gets to eat exactly what they want to eat, one bite at a time. No "eat all your veggies," from me tonight!

And I'll actually encourage everyone to eat lots and lots of dessert.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So how's the move going?

I'm sure I heard someone asking! We took time out for Christmas, and drove down south to visit family. What an amazing concept! We'd been in New York for so long, that we'd quite forgotten how much fun a family holiday can be. But now we're back, and yesterday I tackled the garage.

Yup, the place where everything that we didn't want to deal with went to hide.

I didn't get everything unpacked, but I did get it cleared out enough to set up our new exercise room in one of the bays. So now I have no excuse not to lose that last ten pounds, right?

Oopsie.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The more things change . . .

. . . the more we look for ways they remain the same. Although it is later than usual, our Christmas decorations are up. The tree is filled with all of our old favorites; the ones the kids made, the ones we bought over the years, the ones that decorated our little tree the Christmas we lived in London. The stockings are hung; the singing Christmas tree from Aunt Diana is ready to surprise visitors; and the same shepherds are watching their sheep as the wise men approach the stable in our nativity.

Everything is in a new place, but they are all good places. A few things have not been unpacked; they will wait for next year. We just didn't have time to find everything. But we have time to make cookies, and we have time to remember all the Christmases that we have spent together.

We will remember this year as the year we unpacked the Christmas ornaments before we unpacked anything else.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Free at last!

Well, okay, yes, I'm overstating this already with my title. But I have to admit, I'm really, really looking forward to lazing in bed. We moved two weeks before the kids' semester ended at their old schools, and we decided that it made more sense to have them finish out the year before changing schools. Sounds reasonable, right? But it meant hauling my sorry carcass out of bed before sunrise every day.

You see, they are in different schools, with different (and totally incompatible) start and stop times. So I ended up having to drive about 100 miles per day in order to get everyone where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there. But today is the last day of the semester, and the last day of mom's taxi service.

They'll be on winter break for the next two weeks, and then they will start school again.

Locally.

I'm free!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The worst part of moving . . .

. . . has to be cleaning out the old place. That's what was on my plate today, and I'm very glad that I won't have to do THAT again!!!!

Whew. What a day. I vacuumed and scrubbed every inch of that place. My son opened the drain on the hot tub, and he took care of cleaning up the outside while I did the inside. We worked like maniacs, and were finished by noon. So we packed up the car and drove home. Settling down on the couch for a well-deserved rest, I picked up the newspaper and read:
"It's really, really cold for California."
How cold? Cold enough. Possibly 27 overnight. Yeah, laughable by midwest and east coast standards, but it almost NEVER gets that cold here.

And all I can think about is that hot tub, draining at the rate of about 3 inches an hour. Yup, do the math; no WAY would that sucker be totally empty before the big freeze. And, of course, we had to turn the heat off in order to drain it, so I'm instantly imagining that thing freezing and cracking.

Not an option.

So my wonderful son drove back over there with me and we bailed it out. Good thing we did, because the drain hole is about 6" above the bottom; even if it had finished draining, it would have had enough water in the bottom to possibly cause damage when it froze. But it's dry now. And covered. And my darling husband has offered to take us out for pizza.

Why couldn't this have been a NORMAL cold night of 52° !?!?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This time, next year

. . . is when you'll most likely see me in Bead & Button magazine. I wrote a step by step article for them, and the tentative publication date is December 2009. So, if you like my bead lace, and want to learn how to do it, keep an eye out for that issue. Of course, there are no guarantees that it will be in that particular issue, but that's their best guess as of now.

I am very pleased that they wanted it; I love Bead & Button magazine. I can't wait to share this project with you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cranberry spiced wine

Did you try my recipe for Cranberry Relish? If you did, and you have leftovers, as I do, then here's my very favorite way to use them up:
Put a few big spoonfuls of the cranberry relish in a custard cup, stir in a little cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Spoon it into a nice, big red wine glass and add your favorite red wine. Stir, and enjoy.

Delicious.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where have I been?

I just got asked that question, so I decided to tell y'all. I've been so busy working on our new house and moving stuff that my only recreational activity has been sleeping.

Sad, but true.

I keep hoping that things will settle down, but it's been go-go-go all the time. This week and next I've been especially busy shuttling my teens back and forth to school; although we are mostly moved into our new house (the furniture came last Saturday!) their school semester doesn't end until the 19th. Being that we only moved about 15 miles away, it seemed to make more sense to let them finish the semester before changing schools.

Two weeks of driving them back and forth didn't seem like much of a hardship, considering.

It really isn't that big of a deal, but it has made my days rather frantic. It seems as though I am always going one way or the other, without much time to stop and think. I think I'm looking forward to their winter break as much or more than they are!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The sounds of silence

No traffic noises. No workmen talking, joking, laughing, singing, whistling. No radio, blaring a mixture of pop, rock, oldies, techno and rap, all in Spanish. Nothing but the soft click of my keyboard.

I'm here, all alone, at our new house. The tile has been laid; tomorrow they will come back to do the baseboards, but not until 9:00 am. After a week of hauling my sorry carcass out of bed before sunrise, 9:00 am sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

They're not quite done for the day; they've gone to haul the garbage out to the dump. They'll be back for their tools, so I'm waiting here to let them in, and then I'll lock up after them. I've just been walking around, admiring the gorgeous new tile, and enjoying, nay, exulting in the silence.

This is a very quiet house. I'm going to like that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Did I mention . . .

. . . that we bought a new house? Yup, we're moving again, but only a few miles this time. Our new house needed some tender loving care; it had been painted all sorts of wild colors, and the flooring was, shall we say, eclectic. A whole lot of paint has pretty much transformed the downstairs already (all four of us working together made the job go pretty fast) and this week we've got the tile installers putting down a gorgeous tile floor.

It's going to look so incredible when it's all done! I'm not looking forward to the moving part; that's never fun, and we just did it such a short time ago. But I am very much looking forward to the living here part.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yay Team!

I've decided to give selling my jewelry another go; and I've joined a brand new team of very enthusiastic Etsians as a way of keeping myself on target this time. So check out it out! The Starving Artist Team has oodles and oodles of goodies, just in time for Christmas shopping.

My own shop is a bit short right now; I'm in the process of moving, and I'm not as together as I'd like to be. I must confess that I'm really not quite sure where all my jewelry is right now. It's packed. That's all I can say. But I'll be listing more as I find it, photograph it, and get it set up ready to ship.

I'll be blogging here and at the team site; check in often for all the news that's fit to print. And, if you'd like to do a bit of shopping in the meantime . . . here's a link to our team's goodies on Etsy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something for me

I decided to make up a bunch of lampwork earrings today; I wear the ones I have almost constantly. My lampwork bead collection has been growing lately; I just can't resist those beauties. There is something so amazing about them; they are little pieces of artwork.

I've given my beads simple settings; just a little silver to hang them from my ears. I've still got lots of beads in my bead box; maybe tomorrow I'll make some more. It's nice to make pretty things.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Geometrical

I've decided that sometimes it is fun to arrange beads in an orderly fashion. It's rather relaxing, actually. Oh, I doubt that I will go over entirely to the side of order; I'd miss the excitement of beading by the seat of my pants.

But it does have its place.

After spending so much time on Audrey, I wanted a project that required a bit less in the way of constant mental engagement. (Erm, that's doublespeak for "mindless.") Something that required no more of my brain than counting to three.

Coincidentally, BeAd Infinitum is having a contest on their new forum; all entries must feature the number three.

I've just spent a lovely day, stitching away and counting to three.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

hmmm . . . what's next?

I love big projects, but I always find myself at loose ends after finishing one. Yup, the big piece is done; photographed, blogged and hanging around my neck even as I type. I've put away the drawer full of beads that I used while making it, but am reluctant to commit to a new big piece just yet.

So I've made a few pairs of lampwork earrings. And ordered some more lampwork beads. I've got some ideas rumbling around in my head; so far none of them has grabbed me, though. Sometimes I really enjoy the period between projects; it is a time when anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm writing again

Blogging has bit me with the writing bug again; I'm considering writing a book.  I'm nervous but excited; it's a long-term project and I've just started today.  I don't know if I'll be able to do this or not; I've always been a short-short writer.  But it's something I've always wanted to do, and the time just feels right to give it a go.

Not to worry, I'm in no way giving up making jewelry.  In fact, I may have finished the very large piece I've been working on; I just need to let it sit for a little while before I'm sure.  Sometimes it is hard for me to know when I'm done; I don't want to overdo it, but neither do I want to stop short.  

Hmm.  Maybe writing and jewelry making have something in common.  I've gotten used to stopping short when I write; maybe I can go on a bit more.  Time will tell.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm it!

I was tagged by Heather of A Creative Journal and, since I haven't ever done this before, I decided to play!

So, here are seven random facts about me:
  1. I actually like spending time alone.
  2. I think birds make the best pets.
  3. I like to be near water.
  4. I think fiddley, tedious things are fun.
  5. I love spicy food.
  6. Clutter makes me crazy.
  7. I wish I could sing on tune.

Here are the blogs I've tagged:
  1. New Beaded Jewelry Accessories
  2. Butterfly Beadwear
  3. Crafted Gems
  4. Fire and Glass
  5. No Easy Beads
  6. Not Your Average Jo Jo
  7. Ca' Lucia Creations

Ok, so here are the tagging rules…
  1. Link to my blog (tagger) on your blog.
  2. Give seven facts about yourself.
  3. Tag another seven blogs by leaving a comment on their blog and letting them know they were tagged and listing them (and their blogs) on your blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Instant gratification

I needed a bit of instant gratification today, so I made my favorite style of lampwork earrings. They're pure simplicity: a pair of small lampwork beads, ten inches of silver wire, a torch, a pair of pliers, and about ten or fifteen minutes. Okay, so I also use a file, a bit of sandpaper and a polishing cloth. But those are a given when working with sterling, so hey, they don't count.

Anyway, I'm wearing my new earrings and feeling very spiffy.

I've still got a day or two of work to do on my current seed bead piece; the embellishing is going well, but it's not fast work. Bead embroidery on beaded netting is not nearly as quickly accomplished as bead embroidery on ultra suede; it's an entirely different way to work. This piece is getting a sculptural look; it came off the pad a bit flat looking, but it is flat no more.

Have I piqued your curiosity?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Billions of beads

I would not even want to guess how many beads I've already put into the piece I'm currently making. No, not really billions, I used that for alliteration, but it's got to be in the hundreds of thousands.

And I'm not done yet.

This is a beadweaving piece; no backing, just beads and thread. All off-loom stitches. It's big, and it's been loads of fun. I'm still working on the embellishments, and I have yet to make the clasp, but this is one I just love.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Once more, with feeling

I'm still watching the discussion I wrote about yesterday, though I am no longer participating. It's like looking at an accident; I don't really want to look, but I find myself returning, just to see what is happening. Which side will prevail? Or will the entire discussion simply disappear if it grows too rancorous for prime time?

I've had a few more thoughts on the subject; we are a social animal, and, for many, the worst thing that can happen is to be on the wrong side of the leadership. This leads us into some astonishing contortions; think politics for some excellent examples of people acting against their own values.

Is it the same in the art world? Is being cool worth compromising everything?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is it art, or . . .

. . . something else?

and, what is the purpose of art, anyway?

Some would say that the purpose of art is to inform and inspire action. Others say that the purpose of art is to delight and inspire joy. Some might argue that the purpose of art is to add beauty to the world; and there are those who argue for the shock value of ugliness and horror. Some simply want something color-coordinated to fill a space and make their lives a bit less bland. And I suspect that there are others who feel that art has no purpose at all.

I have found myself in the middle of an interesting discussion regarding a piece of socio-political art. The intent of the artist was to inform and inspire action; to me, the piece failed, but for others, it succeeded. They found it amusing, or felt that it was a strong and true validation of their anger.

I found it crude, vulgar and mean. I don't like to see people sink to the level of the ugliness they wish to unveil. I guess I'm the sort who wants art to inspire and elevate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The purveyors of order

So you already know that order is a challenge for me, but I know a couple of people who specialize in it. Gwen Fisher and Florence Turnour are the artists behind BeAd Infinitum and they are beaders of the highest order.

Gwen even got me to step out of my chaotic box and practice a bit of order last weekend. You can see my orderly effort in their guest gallery; I took a class and learned how to make Gwen's Kepler's Star pattern. It is a wonderful weave, surprisingly easy and comfortable to make. I couldn't totally abandon myself to orderliness; I made a few teesny-weensy changes to the original pattern. Check out their tutorials; I can say with great confidence that they are very well written and illustrated.

After all, Gwen was even able to bring order out of my chaotic fingers!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Entropy and order

Only half-jokingly, I told someone the other day that my beads do not want order, they want entropy. I have to really fight to make an orderly piece; symmetry is not in my nature. But sometimes I flirt with it. The piece I am working on right now has the appearance of symmetry, but it's a very rough symmetry. The shapes are not exact on each side, they are not quite in the same position, and the stitches most definitely do not match. I don't like to count when I bead.

Now some of you may have noticed that I did bead a perfectly symmetrical, and yes dadgummit, COUNTED piece just this past weekend. But it was a real stretch for me, and not in my nature at all. I'm glad I did it; I really like the stitch I learned in order to make it, but I've thought of nothing since but how to deconstruct it and make it dance for me.

Entropy. Yeah. That's my style.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spackle and paint

Yup, that's what's on my mind. We just bought a house; what a crazy time to be buying, but there is is: our lease is up in a couple of months, and our landlord was not encouraging when we asked if he would be willing to extend it. He'd really like to sell, not rent.

Although we've enjoyed living here, it's not a place we'd like to buy, so we got busy looking. I think we saw at least a hundred houses, but one stood out from the rest.

It's in great shape, and we love everything about it, except the way it was painted. But that's easily fixed. In just a few weekends, we'll have it just the way we want it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Click your heels, Dorothy

I went looking for someone else to be today, but I didn't find anyone I wanted to take home. I went into a craft store and found all sorts of new people; I could take up paper mache, make cute bracelets with metal scrapbooking sayings, photograph my jewelry on exciting new backgrounds, or embroider with linen thread. All of those things were really tempting; I would like, on some level, to be the sort of person who does those interesting things, and all it would take would be a few dollars in supplies. But, after walking the entire store and thinking about being someone who makes cute little Christmas ornaments or stunning silk flower displays (I could put a stem of faux orchids in the pot where the real ones are getting crispy!) I decided I was better off not adding anything new to my repertoire and I bought a packet of beading needles. Using my 40% off coupon, natch. How me is that?!?!?

Then I walked down the way to a discount store, and I thought I might be the sort of svelte woman who tames her tummy with a nice little tummy smoother type of undergarment. But either they were out of my size, or there are bigger tummies out there wanting taming. Alas, I am not destined to be sleek. Nor am I up to giving heels another go; I can't even really fantasize any more about making my legs look longer with a gorgeous pair of high-heeled pumps. The reality is, I just don't have that kind of balance any more. Or that kind of lifestyle.

So I hit the grocery store and came home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bead Dreams

I don't know about you, but I almost always start a new piece wondering, "Is this my Bead Dreams entry?"

So far, the answer has always been no; but it doesn't stop me wondering. Yup, I'm at it again. I've just started a new piece, and I'm wondering . . . is this one my Bead Dreams entry? The design feels right, it just depends how it works up. But it's fun to dream while I bead, and someday, yes, someday I know that I will answer yes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Brillante Award

Thanks, Janice, for awarding me the Brillante Weblog Premio! And now . . . ahem, is this thing on?

First, I must thank Janice. Not only for nominating me, but for being a wonderful person who always takes time out of her busy life to say hello and offer support to her friends. I appreciate it more than I can say! (And I will be back to visit you at the Jewelry Artist's Network, just as soon as I get a few things sorted. It's been wild.)

And second, I want to thank my posse of jewels (you know who you are!) for the love and fellowship we share every day at the Studio. You ladies give me something to look forward to every morning.

And next, of course, are all the wonderful lampworkers who keep me inspired and broke. Again, you know who you are.

And last, but definitely not least, I guess I really must thank my family, who distract me from beading and remind me that there is more to life than making jewelry.

And now, for my nominations:

The Energy Bible
Casto Creations
Laurel's Blog
Szarka's
Accent Yourself
Erin Lilies
Simply Shiny


Here are the rules if you’re nominated:
1. The winner can put the logo on their blog.
2. Link to the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you’ve nominated.
6. Write an acceptance speech in the style of the Academy Awards, thanking everybody’s mother, father, sister, brother, aunties and uncles and the kitchen staff at your favorite restaurant!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

At the zoo

We have a small zoo in our town, and today we took a trip out there. My daughter and I fell in love with the Channel Island Fox; they are such delicate and perfect little creatures. We watched one sleep; its little face was exquisite. It was so tender and vulnerable; there was something very special about it.

Unfortunately, it is a threatened species that may be on the endangered list very soon. I know; it's not the only one. But it's the one I saw today, and it is the one that is real to me.

Sleep well, little ones.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I love to learn

I signed up for a class today with the wonderful Gwen Fisher. She's stepped outside her comfortable beaded beads box and she's used her math skills to create a wonderful beadweave that she calls Kepler's Star.

The minute I saw it, I knew I had to learn it. Usually, I'll just buy a tutorial and learn it all by myself; but Gwen is teaching a mere 17 miles from my house. What better way to learn a new beadweaving technique and possibly meet some new beady buddies?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fringe benefits

Or not.

I have a love/hate relationship with fringe. I love to wear it, I love the way it looks, I love to make things with fringe. But I just don't have a feel for designing it. Yet.

Inevitably, I find myself ripping it out and starting over . . . several times. That would be a minor setback if I made the decision to rip it out after a couple of strands; but that's not the way it works. It doesn't strike me as totally wrong until it is almost all done; it's heartbreaking, I tell you, to rip out 40 strands of 3-5 inch long fringe . . . twice . . .

But that's okay; each time I learned a little bit more about how fringe behaves; or in this case, misbehaves. I finally got a fringe that I'm happy with; in this piece it needed to be a background singer, not a soloist. I'll have to remember that; it just might be important.

Or not.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I couldn't resist

I've put my new beads away; arranged by color and size. Yes, I did pet them a bit; I pulled out this one and that and just enjoyed the colors and the variety of finishes. Matte beads are my new favorite; there is something so wonderful about them. But enough of my precious; I could not resist using them.

I pulled out a gorgeous lampwork focal bead by Melissa Vess, with loads of colors in it, and I went drawer by drawer, from yellow to violet, pulling out dozens of colors that matched or complemented the bead.

Will I use all of them? Probably not. But what a lovely palette they make. I've started another lace piece, this time in glorious color.

Lots and lots and lots of color . . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beads, wonderful beads!

My new colors are here! and, just in time, I finished my pearl lace necklace. I haven't put it up yet; I'm too full of all my pretty new colors right now. So many possibilities; so many new colors and textures to try. My head is spinning; I don't know what to do first!

I may just spend a day or two poring over them and sorting them out. Getting to know them. Making friends. A few of them are already standing out in my mind; a particularly luscious green, and a matte yellow in particular.

Hmmm.

Wonder if I have any lampwork in those colors?

bliss. sheer bliss.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Making lace

While waiting for all my beautiful new colors of beads to arrive, I decided to do a totally monochromatic piece; a colorless piece, in fact. I'm using only shades of off-white; freshwater pearls and pearly seed beads. I've dusted off my needlelace skills, and have worked a lace motif for the centerpiece of the necklace.

I've really enjoyed working on it; it's very different from, and yet very similar to, traditional needlelace. This necklace belongs to a bride; I'm not sure it would suit anything other than a wedding dress. It's a very romantic necklace. I'm nearly done with it; I'll most likely finish it tomorrow.

It needs an ornate clasp, and I'm too tired to start one just now. Besides, my new pretty colors won't come until Wednesday; I'll need something to do tomorrow.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My beautiful girl

Today, my daughter had her first modeling gig. Isn't she beautiful?

A local shop held a fashion show, and she was one of the models. She did a great job, and had a wonderful time. I was so proud of her!

It isn't always easy begin the mom of a teenage girl; sometimes it seems as if we are dealing with what is wrong more than what is right. I guess that makes sense; the most energy goes to what needs fixing. But sometimes it is just so nice to step back and look at what has gone right.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gail, you're the BEST!!!

I was the beneficiary of a random act of kindness today, and it sure felt good! One of my favorite beadmakers, Gail from Beadles, just up and sent me an adorable set of the teeniest tiniest little pink and white conch shell beads. They are so cute!

But even better than the beads (did you think anything was better than unexpected lampwork?) is the thought behind it. I can't tell you how special it made me feel to get such a lovely surprise. I'm going to have to come up with a very special design and story for this one.

Thank you, Gail!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New patterns = more beads

Raise your hand if you knew that was coming.

This morning, I realized that I just don't have the right colors of seed beads. I've got a lot of beads; even I have to admit that. But I just don't have the range of colors to do the more subtle shadings. I really, really, don't.

Okay, end of the rationalization part of this entry. I really just wanted some new colors of seed beads for the patterns I've been churning out. They will look ever so much prettier with new colors.

So I logged on to my favorite bead supplier and went through the list, picking this one and that one; and oh, gotta have THAT one, and may as well go back and buy a couple more to get to the next discount level . . . and oh, I NEED that color, and that finish, and THIS size and THAT shape . . . they're all less than $2 a box so how bad could it be?

Yeah, that bad.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More fun and games

Okay, so I'm still playing with the computer. I'm not getting any actual beading done, but it sure is fun!

This is a version of the Mandelbrot set as a collar; wow, but I would love to have this! Again, I am not sure that my peyote-pattern-following skills are up to it, but I sure would love to wear it.

Can't you just imagine all that silky peyote around your neck? Yum.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mandelbrot Set

I've been playing with a program that converts photos to bead patterns, and it occurred to me to go back in time to my I-love-math-and-physics days and dig up some graphics of the Mandelbrot set.

I don't know if I will ever actually work this up; it may well be more than I can handle, peyote-wise.

But on the cool scale, it's off the charts. I'd like to be someone who makes things like this!

Monday, September 8, 2008

oh WOW!!!!

What a lovely surprise! I submitted a bracelet to the Art Bead Scene contest, and was chosen as this week's featured designer.

My bracelet, Hollowings, features a lampwork bead by the incredible Donna Millard of Fyrebeadz.

Check us out! And if you're a jewelry designer who uses art beads, enter the Art Bead Scene contest.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Missing the mundane

We've been so busy this summer; I feel as though I haven't hardly had a moment to myself. It's been all good; just a wee bit frenetic. My goal for next week is to work on the mundane. It may sound strange, but I miss it. There is a strange comfort in performing small chores; in knowing that I am getting the little things done.

It's time to reclaim my routines.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm featured!

Melissa Vess of Inner Realm Creations is such a sweetie! I used two of her beads in my Sand and sky necklace, and she arranged to have me featured on the LEST Street Team Webpage.

It's a gorgeous site, chock full of beady eye candy and interesting information about beadmakers and their art. If you've never seen the site, it is well worth visiting (and not just because I'm on it!). Take a look; there are some very talented bead makers over there.

As you all no doubt know, I love lampwork beads. I am so pleased to be featured on this site!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

beep beep beep

Does anyone else find their lives ruled by beeping things? Pretty much everything beeps at me to get my attention: my washer and drier beep, my oven, my camera . . .

My microwave has beeping down to an art. If I don't open the door when it beeps, it waits a few minutes and beeps some more. It will do that pretty much forever, I think. I can't always get to it right away, so while I've not exactly tested this theory, I do know that it repeats its urgent request to have its door opened now! now! now! quite a few times.

Uh, oh, there's the drier. Gotta go. It's beeping at me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Swirling color

I'm following my rather monochromatic (or at least mono-tonal!) Mermaid's song necklace with a very colorful and swirling embroidery piece.

Taking my cue from a lovely focal bead by Melissa Vess of Inner Realm Creations, I have been embroidering a free form pendant with swirls of blue, green, lavender and red on a field of ivory and gold.

I'm thinking about adding gold chain maille, or maybe some needle lace, or maybe both. I may add some smaller motifs with gemstones, or perhaps I'll raid my stash of vintage glass cabs. So many possibilities.

What fun!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've been so bad!

More eye candy! This time my beady dollars went to Gail at Beadles, another one of my very favorite hot glass artists. So, with no further ado, here are my new beauties:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Teenagers!

Yup, my house was full of them just a few minutes ago. They've all gone off the park now; the silence is deafening. But it's all good; they're nice kids and they're having fun. Loudly, to be sure: they're teenagers. Were my friends and I that loud? I expect we were. It didn't seem like it at the time, however.

Teenage girls sure do giggle a lot. And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eye candy

Yup, I indulged myself today and bought some new beads from one of my favorite beadmakers, Melissa Vess of Inner Realm Creations.

If you've never been to Melissa's shop, you're in for a treat! Since I've already bought my favorites, I'll be nice and share the link to Inner Realm Creations on Etsy. Go ahead, indulge! You'll be glad you did.

Wanna see what you missed? Here are my new pretties:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My glass thing!

Remember last week when I took a glass blowing lesson? This is what I made!

I spent all this week wondering what it would look like when it came out of the kiln; I'd had so much fun moving the glass and just playing with it, that I came away with very little idea of what I'd actually made. I do that sometimes; I get involved in the process and completely forget to think about what it will be when I'm done.

I knew it would be yellow with the teeniest hint of blue; I knew that it bore a vague resemblance to an abalone shell. I also knew that I had not thought at all about the design or function of it while making it. That scared me a bit; I've been known to create some truly awful things when I'm under the influence of a new medium.

But I like it!!! And it is functional enough; it isn't quite as deep as I would like, but the curving edges serve nicely to balance a small arrangement of flowers. These are miniature roses and a few sprays of cotton lavender. So yes: I'd love to try it again, but next time, I'd like to pay a bit more attention to the final product. Not that I'm unhappy with this one; far from it. I'm delighted that it turned out as well as it did. But next time, there are a few more techniques I'd like to incorporate . . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Spiraling out of control

No, not really, but I just couldn't resist the title. I finally met a spiral I like! Let me rephrase that. I have fallen in love with a lot of different spirals in photos and other people's work; but every time I try them, they leave me cold. Not that they aren't pretty; they are. But I find that I simply do not know what to do with them once I've made them, and they're just not interesting enough to stand alone.

I've been playing with the spiral stitch; singles, doubles and triples. The single was a little too sparse for my taste, and the triple too full and bushy tailed. But the double is just right. I didn't like it in contrasting colors; that was too busy for me to work with. So I tried again in a pretty much monochromatic palette; my old favorites, black, blue-grey and a hint of pink.

It ended up looking more like a rope than a spiral, and I think it's going to anchor a sea-themed necklace. I've been wanting to do a beach piece and this color and texture combination is already saying ocean swells.

It's nice to have one I won't be taking out for a change.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'sperimenting

Sometimes I make jewelry, and other times I play with beads. It's been a playing with beads week for me! Thank goodness for Fireline; I've been putting beads on and taking them off again all week. If I were using anything else, I'd have a trash can full of shredded thread. But I've learned a whole lot of ways not to do things; there are some stitches I really admire when I see others use them, but I'm coming to the reluctant conclusion that they're just not me.

Well, not yet, anyway.

But I'm enjoying trying them out, even if all I do at the end is rip them to bits. It's fun to experiment and try out new things, even if I don't know what to do with them yet. I'll figure it out eventually.

Or not.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Slowly, slowly

I'm working an Ndebele rope with 11°s; rounds and hexes in a spiraling pattern. Nope, not spiral Ndeble; I'm doing the straight stitch with a spiral of hexes running around it. There's nothing hard about it; the stitch is easy, and the pattern repeats and repeats without any changes. But I'm finding that it takes a good bit of concentration; when I go too quickly, or try to multitask by talking or watching TV, I mess up.

So it goes with life sometimes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blowing Glass

I had the most amazing experience today; my best friend gave me and my daughter glass blowing lessons for our birthdays. I made a thing; I'll post a picture of it when I get it back. Right now it is in the kiln, annealing, and after it comes out it will be sanded and polished.

Why do I call it a thing? Because it isn't quite a bowl, and it isn't quite a vase, and it's sort of like an abalone shell. Y'all know me; I like to go with the flow. So I let the glass go where it wanted to go, and then prodded it a bit. I ended up with a very asymmetrical vessel; not a surprise, really. All things considered, I generally prefer to make things asymmetrical.

My daughter made a beautiful round glass paperweight; perhaps she'll let me post a photo of it, too!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Time to explore

This afternoon we took an impromptu trip down to Morro Bay. We had a lovely time wandering about, peeking into shops and galleries, and ate seafood in a restaurant overlooking the bay. It was a delightful afternoon.

So now I'm thinking sea-themes; I picked up some pretty seashells in a shell shop, and I'm looking forward to using them. I restrained myself and only bought a few (I wanted to buy at least one of everything, but I resisted!); although it felt like vacation shopping, I reminded myself that we're only minutes away, and I can come back and buy more any time.

Now, on to the important part: what will I make with my seashells?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lavender blues

I discovered that I really, really missed having lavender in my garden. So I bought a three small plants today and put them in a pot. Nothing smells quite as good as a lavender plant; it is one of my favorite scents. There is something that is both energizing and relaxing about it.

Every year that we lived in New York, I'd taken cuttings from my original small plants and planted them out; nearly every flower bed was edged in lavender.

This garden is much smaller; it won't take me nearly as long here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Arte y Pico Award


Thank you, Beading Gem and Sweetwater Designs for awarding me the Arte y Pico award. That is so cool!

Here are my picks:

Christina, of Good Quill Hunting, is my seed bead hero. Her blog, and her websites, are must-sees. Her designs are fabulous, her work is meticulous, and she is a kind and generous person, too. She's the reason I picked up seed beads again after so many years!

Jo, of Gem Haven, never fails to inspire me; both with her work, and with her words. Although we have never met, I feel that I know her through her blogging, and I would dearly love to sit down with her over tea and cake. Visiting her blog is like visiting a very dear friend.

Sue, of Subeeds, is not only a very talented seed beader, but also a real contributer to the blogging community. Sue is an activist who cares passionately about fairness. That makes her tops in my book!

Karen, from Through Karen's Eyes, knits her life into her beautiful things; her blog not only features her knitted items, but also shares her wonderful philosophy of life. I am humbled and inspired by Karen's words, and her beautiful work never fails to delight me.

And for pure, unadulterated eye candy, Lisa, of Touch of Glass Designs, gets my nod. Her peaceful, nature-inspired beads, can calm the most tortured soul. Is there any better service to perform?


Rules
1. Pick 5 blogs which you think deserves this award for creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogging community, no matter which language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3. Each award-winning has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4. Both the selected blog and the person who awarded the prize have to show the link of Arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5. Show these rules.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Transitions

I'm between projects. Sometimes I go from one project to the next; there are even times when I'm chomping at the bit, can't wait to finish one project because the next is crowding my brain; but not today.

Or yesterday, or the day before, actually.

It's not for lack of ideas; I've had lots of ideas, and I've even walked over to my bead box and looked inside, but I haven't quite gotten to the point where I pull anything out and thread that needle. Will I try a spiral stitch? Ndebele something? Another embroidery; maybe something dimensional, or wait: needlelace is calling me . . .

But I have not yet answered.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

All things work together for good

How easy it is to forget that! Recent events had left me feeling stressed and uncomfortable; instead of looking for the good in the situation, I was becoming fearful and worried. I was considering action that I was not comfortable taking; I was stuck on trying to make things turn out the way I thought they should.

Purely and simply, I was scared. I'd been sideswiped, hit blind-sided, and sucker punched by someone I trusted, by someone I thought was on my team. It hurt. I was reeling and wanted to make it stop. I didn't know what to do, but I wanted to do something, anything, to make the pain go away.

And then, suddenly, I was given the gift of knowing that all things work together for good; there is nothing I need do.

Not a single solitary thing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do-over

Events of the last couple of months have rendered me useless as a blogger. Due to the drama of selling the house, packing up, driving cross country, unpacking and figuring out that I am living here; I confess that I have, at times, been utterly overwhelmed and have just not felt like chronicling the process. Some things are better forgotten.

So I hereby declare a do-over.

Last night we went to the county fair. It was great fun; we looked at all the exhibits and my very loyal family assured me that my jewelry would have won if we'd been here in time for me to enter. I love my cheering section! We ate all sorts of yummy things that were not strictly good for us, and listened to pitches for interesting appliances that we had no intention of purchasing.

But the best part? Knowing that we're finally here. No more showing the house to potential buyers, no more putting our lives on hold, waiting to do things after we move.

We're here and we went to the fair.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whew!

Moving sure is a lot of work! But we did it: we sold our house in New York, packed everything up, and drove cross country to our new home in Central California. We've been busy unpacking, getting to know our new area, and visiting with family.

That's a huge change for us; we had lots of good friends in New York, but no family at all.

Confession time: I still feel like I'm visiting. I wonder how long it will take for me to realize I live here?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thunderbird, up close and personal

In one of the more amazing coincidences, our hotel in Gallup, New Mexico is next door to Thunderbird Supply Company. I've been ordering from Thunderbird for quite awhile now; their prices are super and they are very reliable and fast. I've ordered small stones from them, but was reluctant to order larger stones without actually seeing them, touching them, and picking them out in person.

Today, I got to do just that!

I walked in, and just STARED. Case after case of stones; turquoise, coral, charoite, and more. Honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed. I went round and round the display cases, and finally settled on several freeform cabs of Kingman and Sleeping Beauty turquoise in gorgeous shades of blue, and two very nice pieces of charoite.

I think I just might go back tomorrow morning, though; I know I didn't see everything!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Enchanting New Mexico

We made it out of Texas today and into New Mexico. Las Cruces, to be exact. Texas had great roads, and very high speed limits, but it was a real challenge not to be mesmerized by the roads. Not a lot of scenery changes from Midland to El Paso; the desert is beautiful and the sky was glorious, but it was an effort to stay alert at times. Needless to say, we made the effort.

New Mexico looks to be a bit more interesting, geographically speaking.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Still trekking through Texas

We've made it to Midland, and seeing a live armadillo running along the side of the road was one of today's highlights. Another highlight was missing a vulture who seemed intent on committing suicide on windshield of my car; I missed that buzzard by inches. That was way too close and personal for my taste!

But here's the best part of the day: our oldest son and his wife, who live in Midland, are taking our two teenagers for the night, leaving my husband and me to enjoy having a whole hotel room to ourselves.

Pure bliss.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Texas Tales

We've passed the half-way point in our journey! Tonight we're in Austin, Texas and tomorrow we'll be in Midland. This is the visiting family part of the journey, so we're not covering quite as many miles per day. It's nice to have a bit of a break in the middle of the trip.

It's been a fairly easy trip so far; the weather has been nice and the roads have been good. Who can ask for anything more?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Walkin' in Memphis

We're on our way to California; we left New York on Monday afternoon. We've made it to Memphis, and tomorrow we'll see how far into Texas we can get. So far, we've had great traveling weather and the drive has been very pleasant. We're about 1/3 of the way to California. It's going to be a long trip, but we're excited about it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Packing it in

First thing you need to know: I'm getting punchy. We've been packing for several days now, and I swear, the plastic organizer boxes full of junk are breeding. No, I'm not delusional; well, maybe I'm a little bit delusional; but they definitely outnumber us. And they are filled, or semi-filled, with the craziest things.

We are moving cross country, from New York to California, so we really don't want to pay to move anything we don't want or need. Unfortunately, that requires going through everything and deciding what to do with it. Keep or toss?

Guess which category most things seem to be falling into?

Yup, most of it is stuff we neither want nor need. How did that happen? Well, time is part of it. That, and having a rather large storage area. Instead of getting rid of the things we'd lost interest in, or outgrown, they were sentimentally put into . . . plastic organizer boxes.

But they've met their match. I've emptied them all. If there are more in there tomorrow, then I'm not delusional: they are breeding.

I knew it all along.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mandelbrot it's not

There definitely is an order-out-of-chaos thing going on in the piece I'm working on this week. I don't know if it is in reaction to packing up the house for our move, or just sort of what happened, but I can't look at this piece without thinking about Chaos Theory.

Whatever happened to Chaos Theory? Fifteen years ago, it was everywhere. It was beautiful, fascinating, and held the promise of finally finding the elusive key to a unified theory. Or so we thought.

Physics dilettante that I am, once it was no longer in front of of my nose, I stopped thinking about it. I feel a google search coming on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We're on our way home

So, okay, we're not on our way yet, but we're packing up. We're moving back to California in a couple of weeks, and oh my goodness, but have I ever collected a ton of stuff. I've been sorting through it and giving away quite a lot; the movers told us to think in terms of $1 per pound as the cost of moving. So I'm mentally weighing everything, calculating the cost, and deciding if I'd rather have that or something different for the price.

It's astonishing, really, how very much I own that I'd rather not spend the money to keep. Stuff is going to Goodwill by the van load. So far, I think I've donated upwards of 500 lbs; a lot of that was books. Books are heavy! It sure is a lot of work getting rid of things; it was a lot easier bringing them home. But we're down to the kitchen things; the extra set of silverware and the odd pots and pans are going to find a new home with a friend who is setting up housekeeping on her own for the first time; I hope she'll think of me when she uses them.

I love New York, but it's time to go home.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Which came first?

I've heard that there are actually people who buy jewelry to go with an outfit. What a novel idea! As you might guess, I buy clothes to go with my jewelry. Yesterday, after I finished my Crazy Quilt necklace, I went to my closet and tried on everything I owned because I wanted to wear it.

Nothing worked.

I did not own a single shirt that looked good with that necklace. How frustrating. So, of course, today I went shopping. I am now wearing my new necklace with a brand new plummy dark purple top. It was a surprise color choice; it doesn't match the necklace. But it complements it wonderfully.

Hmmm. Plum and yellow. Must remember that!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's finished!

Whew.

Bead Embroidery isn't something that can be knocked out quickly; but it sure is fun, and very addicting, at least for me! I've always loved embroidery; there is something so comforting and soothing about it. I love the repetitive nature of the stitching, and I love to see the picture emerge, ever so slowly. I've been known to embroider until my eyes are gritty, unable to stop, because I can't stand not seeing just a little bit more.

But all good things must come to an end; after awhile there is no place to put another stitch. You can see my finished Crazy Quilt on Jewelry Tales.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's too darned hot

No matter when we get our first heat wave of the season, it always seems like it's too early; but this one really takes the cake. It's barely June!

The poor peonies are crisping, and I'm wilting. The humidity is frightful; this afternoon it rained so hard it looked like someone had upended giant buckets over the house. I wish I could say that the downpour wrung all the wet out of the air, but it didn't. It's still very, very hot and very, very humid.

Perfect indoor beading weather.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A crazy quilt life

This has been an interesting year; almost nothing has gone the way I thought it should. It has been a year of letting go on so many fronts; letting go of expectations, plans, and fears; it has also been a year of finding the things that really matter. Family. True blue friends. The strength and power of love and hope.

Things have, at times, seemed very, very dark. Darker than I thought possible. There were times when I did not know how, or if, I could go on. But I did. It's been a very difficult year.

Today, the piece I am working on transformed itself into a crazy quilt; not just any quilt, but the quilt that has been passed down, and stitched, by my great-grandmother to my grandmother, to me. There is room yet for a few stitches by my daughter. I hope she will want to leave her mark on the crazy quilt of our lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mondrian and Me

I'm working on a bead embroidery piece with a large lampwork focal. The focal is gorgeous; very organic with great flow and movement. The embroidery is carrying out the colors and some of the shapes in the bead; but while I'm working, my mind is on Mondrian. You'd laugh at me if you looked at the piece; you'd think I was kidding. This piece is not geometric, the colors are not primary, it looks nothing like Mondrian at all.

But there it is. My mind is full of Mondrian.

And this piece is like nothing I've ever done before. It's Mondrian, filtered through my brain. Blocks of color, in organic shapes, lightly textured instead of flat. Red, yellow and blue rendered into shades of indigo, plum and sepia. Outlines that wander instead of forming grids.

It's not Mondrian; it's what I take from Mondrian.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Brace yourself

. . . I just added a third color. Am I living dangerously, or what?!?!?!?

No, it isn't a wild color addition. It's analogous to one of the colors I've already used; it's a very tiny step over the color line, but it's definitely not the same color.

Mmm hmmm, I'm a wild woman.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Color breakout!

Okay, so it's not really wild by color-mad standards. But I have been working very monochromatically lately; for me, this is a huge departure. Erm, actually, I'm only using only two colors, but hey! That's twice as many as I have been using together. And there are several shades and tints of those two colors; that's gotta count, right?

Probably not. But it's a breakout for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Left turn!

After taking the other piece apart and sorting through all the beads, I decided to put those beads away and start on another project. I knew that I didn't like where I was going on that one, but that's about all I knew. So I'm setting that stone aside to wait for some new ideas to blossom.

But I know what to do with this one. I'm putting a gorgeous lampwork bead into a bead embroidery. I've been wanting to incorporate lampwork into bead weaving for some time now; I just couldn't figure out how to balance the weight of the lampwork bead with the delicacy of the seed beads. Bead embroidery to the rescue; the foundation gives enough support and weight to support the bead.

This time, I'm liking it right from the beginning!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Another Edison moment

It's not that it didn't work at all; it just didn't work for me. I could have finished this piece; someone else could have worn it. But I just couldn't do it. First off, there was the stone. It was my birthday present from my husband. It's a stone I want to wear. And, secondly, I don't want to make something I don't like. What is the point of having complete creative control if I don't use it to make what I like?

So I ripped it all out. This is what it looks like now; next up, sort out the beads, get them all into their little containers, and toss out all the little bits of thread. Start over. Another Edison moment. I now know what not to do with this stone, and I know what not to do with my designs and labor. For better or for worse, for me, making jewelry is all about me.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Stand back

Sometimes those maxims from art classes are kept firmly front and center, and other times I discover them unexpectedly, misplaced in a corner of my mind. I just found one of those this morning.

Last night I was ready to rip out my latest bead embroidery necklace. The only thing that stopped me was the sheer amount of work involved in the ripping out; I was just too tired to begin. So I set it down on my desk and watched Star Trek instead. Am I ever glad I did! This morning, as I walked down the stairs, I glanced over at my desk.

To my great surprise, the beadwork that I thought was not working looked great! It just needed a little distance. Up close, right under my nose, with my hand on the needle, it seemed disjointed and not quite right. But from a distance, oh, from a distance, everything changed. And then I remembered, "Always analyze your art work from the distance and height at which it will be viewed. Don't judge anything from the the other end of the brush!"

Luckily, it doesn't need a lot of distance. A foot or so is fine. And I don't expect anyone to get any close than that to my chest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop and smell the flowers

I got some new toys, and I couldn't resist playing with them. First stop: my garden.

My new toys? A ring light and some magnifying filters. So here's a picture of an iris and a rose from my garden. Although the background is very dark, it was taken in full sunlight. But that little ring light puts out so much light, it turned day into night; and captured the color and detail of the flowers with amazing clarity.

I am going to have a lot of fun with these new toys!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The price was right (well, close enough!)

I finally found a photo grey card at an (unreasonably) reasonable price. I mean, $5.99 for a piece of grey cardboard?!?!?!?! But it really looked good to me yesterday! Let me explain.

I've been wanting one for a long time. It is so hard to get the exposure right when photographing jewelry; especially on the light backgrounds that I prefer. I've been relying on Photoshop to make up the difference, but if I'm going to enter contests or send my work to be considered by magazines, that won't do. They want photos that have not been Photoshopped, and mine are just not up to that standard. I really, really needed that grey card.

But they're not easy to find, and when they are available, they're outrageously expensive. I've been to several camera shops; when I ask for a photo grey card, I've mostly been greeted by blank stares. When I did find clerks who knew what I was going on about, they usually laughed and said, "I haven't seen one of those for years!"

It seems that most people just use the auto features on their cameras. Erm, that's not working for me! I need to do it the old fashioned way. So I began looking online. I committed myself to just buy one, no matter the price. I told myself that it really doesn't matter how much it costs; I need this thing. In the long run, it will save me so much frustration and time; I will recoup the cost in weeks, if not days.

But the best price I could find was $12.99 with $6.99 shipping. I couldn't talk myself into spending that much; I just couldn't do it. I put it in my cart and took it out several times; but in the end, regardless of how much I wanted it, regardless of how many times I reminded myself that I needed it, I just couldn't do it.

I just couldn't spend $19.98 for a piece of grey cardboard.

Now I'm glad I couldn't. We just happened by Sam's Camera in Mount Kisco, and the lovely gentleman behind the counter not only knew what I was talking about, but he had them in stock, and agreed that they really were better than the camera's meter for getting the exposure right,

Now let's just hope this does the trick!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bead Embroidery, day 5

Whew! Beading on leather is really tough on the fingers. My fingers haven't looked this bad since the last time I made a quilt. I do wish I could get the hang of using a thimble; I didn't learn to sew with one, and they just slow me down. But I suspect that learning how to use one would save a lot of wear and tear on my fingertips.

I'm not going to learn this time, though. I've just this minute finished the beading on leather part; I glued on the backing this afternoon, let it sit long enough to dry, and worked the edging this evening. It's sitting on my table, ready for me to start the fringe. Yesterday I found some beautiful strands of amber chips, in colors ranging from pure yellow to the darkest red-brown. I'll use them, and some turquoise chips, and pearls to make a long, lush fringe.

This is so not going to be a subtle necklace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bead Embroidery, day 2

This is just too much fun!

Yesterday, I glued the cabochons to the suede, and waited very impatiently for them to dry. That took longer than I'd have liked, and all I was able to do was circle the cabochons; the big cherry wood one in the center, and the four small turquoise circles underneath it. And yes, I most certainly did dream about it last night. (I also had a dream involving pirates, but that's really not relevant, so forget that I mentioned it.)

Today I hit the ground stitching. No waiting around for glue to dry; just me, my needle, plenty of thread, and beads spilling our of their boxes on every available surface. I always seem to pull out a lot more beads than I ever use. I like abundance! I started with the little turquoise cabs; I wanted to make them stand out a bit more, so I added two rows of beading around their bottoms, and bugle beads and pearls to give them some length.

By now, I've decided that it would be a real shame to cover up all this gorgeous suede with beads (the suede came from a stall at the Notting Hill market when we lived in London, and is much finer and softer than anything I've found here) so I took a deep breath and drew a circle about a half inch from the focal. A couple of rows of peyote later, a good bit of netting . . . and now it's time to step back and think about where to go next.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm in!

Yup, I've officially "taken up" bead embroidery. I've been attracted to it for a long time, but resisted until I found a marvelous book that I drooled over at the bookstore for weeks before deciding that I simply must have it. And, of course, owning the book led me to the inescapable conclusion that I really, really must take it up myself.

I suspect that this project is going to take awhile, but it really is a lot of fun. I'm not starting sensibly at all; I've jumped right to a large collar style necklace. I've barely begun; waiting for the glue to dry took longer than I'd hoped it would, so my embroidery thus far is minimal. I've gone round each of the cabs and an idea for the design is beginning to emerge.

I'm going to be beading in my dreams tonight, I just know it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Accidental variations

What's that, you say? That's when I make one earring just slightly different than the first. It isn't different enough to make anyone say, "Hey look! How cute! These earrings don't match, but they sure are fun."

Nope, mine was of the, "Something is wrong with these earrings, but I don't know exactly what it is," variety. And it took me awhile to figure it out! But figure it out I did, and I immediately made one more earring in each variation.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three beaded beads later

Yes, they definitely were addictive. I now have three of them, in different colors, and with slight variations. The colors are so wildly different, there is no way to combine them into one necklace . . . so I guess I let both sides of me out to play. The "let's do it again!" side got to make more beaded beads, and the, "let's do something new!" side of me got to play with color and bead sizes.

And then both of us sat down and made a pair of earrings.

Life isn't just about beading beads, you know!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beaded Beads

So I couldn't resist -- I just had to try one. These just might be addictive! But I'm certainly not going to break any land speed records making them. Even allowing for the fact that today was design day, it took me most of the day to make one approximately 20mm bead, containing 4 vintage 5mm square chatons and an uncounted number of sizes 6, 8, 10, 11 and 15 beads.

There are no increases or decreases in the stitching in this little bead; it's shaped purely by using different sized beads to round a basic cube shape. Right now I have it hanging on a sterling silver cable chain; part of me would like to make a whole bunch more, and part of me wants to leave it at that.

I wonder which of us will get up tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Finished!

Yup, there were moments this week when I truly thought I would be taking this necklace apart and reassembling it for the next 50 years; but I finally got all the parts to work together without fighting. I learned a lot while making it, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.

If you'd like to see it, Take the Plunge is on my Jewelry Tales Blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The never-ending necklace

. . . is getting close to being finished. It is nothing at all like the way it started out; every part of it has changed at least once, and more often twice. The only constant is the maille focal, and even that has been turned 90 degrees, and given a few extra rings.

But it's really quite pretty, now. I have one more section to bead, and it's a mirror image of the side that is already done, so I'm not anticipating any more changes. It's funny: sometimes designs just come together and it all flows, and other times it is more of a struggle. I don't think I've ever had a piece go through quite so many transformations, however.

Whew. I'm actually going to finish this one!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Edison, again

The necklace I'm currently working on has been taken apart more times than I can remember. Nothing, and I mean nothing has gone right the first time on this one. These beads have participated in so many different patterns, I'm sure they feel like square dancers. So I'm calling this necklace a major learning experience. I have learned quite a few ways not to bead on this one!

But, each time, it gets a little bit better. And so do I.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Honestly

I recently had occasion to butt heads with a young woman who believes that there is no such thing as absolute truth. She is very, very sure of that. Absolutely sure, in fact; she let me know in no uncertain terms that my belief in absolute truth is at best, naive, and, quite possibly dangerous to the development of my children. Let me be clear: I don't know what is true in most cases. I simply believe that there is an absolute truth in all situations, and we all should do our best to find it. We might never find it, but it's out there. It's like physics. We don't know exactly how the universe works; but we're not going to let that stop us from trying to find out.

Anyway, this young woman believes that truth is relative; she explained that we all form our own truths; that two mutually exclusive viewpoints can be equally true at the same time. She cited studies that proved how beneficial this belief is to people; she delicately informed me that people who don't come to see this truth are ignorant and, sadly, headed for bigotry, if they're not there already.

Turn the clock back 25 years and that was me! She used the same brilliant explanations I'd used; experienced the same frustration I'd experienced when confronted with a person of faith. And there I sat, using the same non-argument that had so annoyed me quarter of a century ago:
I don't know what Truth is, but I believe it's there.

God has a wonderful sense of humor.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dangerous liaisons

Making jewelry can be a painful process if one lets one's mind wander; especially in metal working. Fire, saws, hammers; all carry the possibility of injury and pain, and mistakes made in silver are very rarely recoverable My scrap pile runneth over. You may have noticed that there isn't much metal in the things I've been making lately! No, I haven't given up my liaison with silver; it's just been something that is a little too dangerous for me right now.

I've been driven to distraction.

Some good things, some bad things; it isn't all doom and gloom by any means. But my mind is full, and I've turned back to seed beads. Okay, there is a needle involved. And yes, I have stabbed myself with it on numerous occasions. But that's the worst of it, and (usually) there isn't even any blood involved.

Seed bead mistakes are rarely ever fatal. If I make a mistake, I can pull out the thread, sort out the beads and start over. That's a good metaphor for my life right now.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday, Sunday

I don't know what I'm going to do today; I don't have any projects lined up, demanding to be done. I have a few ideas, but they're not pitching hissy fits. Sometimes I just can't stand not getting started, but today, the weaver woman is feeling laid back. It's funny, but the seed beading is using different muscles; I can really feel it in my arms from pulling those long lengths of thread. So who says beading isn't exercise?!?!?!?

Works for me!

It is still cloudy, and the ground is all wet, so it must have rained again last night. I slept right through it; I was so tired and I really needed a good night's sleep. But unless that sun shows itself and the clouds break up, I think I'm skipping the crafts show at Lyndhurst this year. Sigh. I feel sorry for all the vendors; I'm sure I'm not the only one who let the weather rule my decision. If I were going to buy stuff, I'd probably brave it; it really is the only really high-end crafts fair around here; but I figure I can get inspiration from browsing the Internet. It isn't quite as nice as actually touching things, but it will have to do.

So. I'm at loose ends today, unless one of the ideas that is tickling me starts pulling my hair!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

I don't usually mind the rain; sometimes I even enjoy it.  But not this weekend!  This weekend is Crafts at Lyndhurst, our biggest and best crafts show.  Erm, did I mention that it is an outdoor crafts show?  Held in a large field?  A field that hasn't had time to get a good crop of grass growing yet?  

Yeah, it's a muddy mess over there when it rains.  And we've had a lot of rain; not just yesterday, when the show started, but it rained most of last week.  So, reluctantly, I've decided not to go this time.  

Unless it clears up tomorrow.  I'll brave the mud, but not the rain.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Whew!

I think I need to take a break. I have been beading like a madwoman; the ideas have been coming faster than my fingers can move. It's been a wonderful time, I've let myself be totally immersed in creating. But I fear that my family is starting to wonder where I am; I've been heads down for so long, they only know what the back of my head looks like!

I doubt I'll stay away from my studio for too long; about a day and a half is my limit. But it's time to take a break.

Maybe.

Right then.  That lasted about 30 minutes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm no Edison

One of my favorite motivational quotes is one that's attributed to Thomas Edison. When asked if he felt like he was a failure for not figuring out the electric light, he is said to have said, "Failure? Nonsense! I have figured out 4,976 ways not to make a light bulb."

Okay, so I'm paraphrasing, and yes, I made up the number. But it was in the thousands, and it ended in 6. So close enough.

Today I had a lot of reason to remind myself of that quote. Okay, so I really only had four reasons to remind myself of that quote, but it took all day to come up with them. I learned four new ways how not to make a bezel today.

Hmm. 4,972 to go.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The 24 hour rule

I like to let most of my pieces sit on my workbench for a day or two before I declare them finished; some pieces want a little bit more (or less) a day or two after I set them down. Sometimes I'm pretty sure that a piece is finished; other times, I'm just not. Me being sure or not doesn't seem to change the outcome; I'm every bit as likely to make changes in a piece I thought was finished as in one I thought might not be.

In other words, until I've let a piece sit for at least 24 hours, I really don't know what I'm doing.

Comforting, eh? But, honestly, I get too close to my work while I'm working. Especially my more ornate pieces. Stark and simple is much easier to judge; I have to stop while it is still stark and simple. But ornate, oh, that's a whole 'nother ball game.

I decided to stop on Mom's necklace this afternoon; I could go further, and I might. But it's one of those pieces that I'd like to keep on the simple side of ornate, and I know how easy it is to slip into the, well, very ornate side of ornate.

Know what I mean?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Entering the homestretch

The necklace base is done, and I'm well on my way with the leaves. I don't know how many I'll put on there; I'll decide that later. I'm just making them two by two and sewing them on, keeping the mirror symmetry pretty close on this one. Not exact; I'm just not that meticulous. I like a little bit of variation, so my leaves twist and turn a bit differently on each side.

But the balance is there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Update

The Russian Leaves are a go, dagnabbit. In 15s.

Progress report

Four more inches finished, and yes, I'm still sorting out yesterday's mistakes! My goodness, but things went awry yesterday. This necklace is one of those that looks simple, but isn't. Sort of like Jens Pind; there's a right way and a wrong way, and sometimes it is really, really hard to see which is which. But I'm entering the homestretch on this one: four more inches to go, and a clasp. I'll make something very, very simple for the clasp; I don't want anything that will call attention to itself. Most likely I'll make a gold-filled S-clasp for it.

I'm thinking of adding a few Russian leaves; I haven't decided yet. I keep going back and forth on that idea! Anyway, I have to get the main part done first.

Four more inches. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Inch by inch

I'm working on a necklace for my mom for Mother's Day, and I'm having to exercise just about all the patience I've got. It is going very slowly; about four inches a day. I expected that yesterday; I was working out the design logistics, and that is a slow process; however, today I fully expected to double my progress.

Not.

Today was one of those days where I discovered quite a few ways to do it wrong. Sometimes I discovered the same way more than once. That wasn't fun. With luck, things will go better tomorrow!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Note to self:

Beading faster will not make a too-short length of thread any longer.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Woo hoo!

Yup, that's me whooping it up. I'm getting closer and closer to integrating bead weaving and maille; I'm working on a necklace that mixes the two in a whole new way, and I'm really excited about it. The pendant is done, and tonight I figured out what to do for the necklace part of it. I've done one three inch section, but I suspect the rest will go more quickly, now that I know what I want to do!

Tonight was all about trying things, pulling it out, sorting the beads, and trying again; tomorrow will be about making it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fringe! Terrible fringe!

I have a new appreciation for those beaders who make fringed pieces. Whew! In theory, it's pretty easy. Go down, skip the last one and go back up. No need to read directions; set the pattern and that's that.

Not.

In order to make the fringe interesting, the number of beads in the first color set has to change. in order to keep the decorative beads at the bottom from bumping into each other, the number of beads in the last color set has to change. The color sets in the middle have to stay the same, or the pattern will be lost.

And then there's the little matter of getting the thread through each and every bead on the way back up. It's a lot harder than it looks. So my hat is off to those of you who make acres and acres of gorgeous fringe. I love the look, but I'm not entirely sure it's worth it to me!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Splurge

Sometimes there are things that I just can't resist. Like these cherry wood burl cabochons inlaid with turquoise from TazWood Finely Turned Creations. I've been thinking about them ever since I first laid eyes on one, and today I finally took the plunge and ordered some. Discovering that they were on sale made it that much easier for me to splurge!

I've used TazWood's beads before, and, in anticipation of getting these, I pulled out a purpleheart cabochon that I've had in my bead box for quite awhile now. I'll start on that one tomorrow while I wait for my new pretties to arrive.

I'm loving the seed beads and maille combination; I just finished a necklace, and I can't wait to start another one. Hmmmmm, wonder what color beads go with purpleheart?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Humming along

Serendipity. Yup, that's what I've had going for me today; serendipity. It all started a few days ago, when I picked up a string of labradorite briolettes by the wrong end and sent them flying all over the floor. What was serendipitous about that you might ask? Well, at the time, it didn't feel much like anything except clumsiness, but this morning I found one of the little escapees on the floor and tossed it on my bead board.

When I sat down to work, there it was, right next to the piece I started last night. Amazingly enough, it looked like it belonged there. I hadn't given those briolettes a thought in the composition of this piece; suddenly, I couldn't imagine the piece without it. The labradorite needed a friend, so I began looking through my bead boxes; petal pearls in the exact shade required were there, waiting patiently for me to find them.

But that's not all. The maille component of this piece was giving me fits; I had my mind set on something ribbon-like. In vain, I tried every flat weave I knew; and then I looked up and tried a few I don't know. I felt like Goldilocks: this one was too big, this one too small; would I ever find a weave that was just right?

Serendipity again. RSD just popped into my head. Nope, it isn't ribbon-like, it's not even flat; it's very textured, in fact. But it's perfect. Just absolutely perfect. I've only completed 3.5 inches of a necklace today, but it's beautiful. It was a very good day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Something to think about

So . . . how about combining maille with seed beading? I'm currently working on a piece that uses my beaded-bezel cabochons in much the same way I would use silver-bezeled cabochons; as decorative elements linked with maille. Gwen, from beAd Infinitum gave me an interesting challenge the other day: to actually integrate maille into seed beading.

Trust Gwen to think completely outside the box. She wondered if maille links could actually be part of the beaded elements; if the chain and beading could flow seamlessly together throughout the piece. I don't know yet if they can, but what a concept! That idea will be wandering around the dark recesses of my mind for quite awhile, I'm sure.

I get by with a little help from my friends!

Friday, April 11, 2008

How small can I go?

I'm really on a roll with the seed beads; I just posted my latest over at Jewelry Tales. In that one, I beaded around some top drilled Swarovski crystals, and that gave me an itch to try beading around some small vintage glass cabs that I recently acquired. I'm very pleased to say that I was successful! These cabs are 10x8 mm, and are a gorgeous apple green.

I've only done one so far; it took me awhile to get the bead count right. These are very tiny cabs! I don't know what I'll do with this one; but it would make very pretty links for a maille bracelet.

Hmmmmmm. . . .

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One bead at a time

Seed beading isn't fast; it takes days, or even weeks, to complete some projects. I'm not talking love beads any more! Yup, that's where I started, way back when: long strings of multicolored seed beads, daisy chains, and shoulder duster earrings. Worn with distressed cotton skirts and tiny Ts, the clothes I still love best.

How many of us secretly (or not so secretly) still yearn for our high school and college styles? I love going to the town of Woodstock, New York; tie dye and my Stevie Nicks skirts and tops are still in many of the stores there. Yup, I own several of them, and I wear them. My beadwork may be different these days, but I still love the fashions of the late 60s and early 70s.

Those were the days.

Monday, April 7, 2008

They get me every time

You know those volume discounts that some jewelry supply places give? Well, they get me every time. I swear that I'm just going to order what I really need, I am not going to pay any attention to the little counter that says, "Buy x more and save x dollars!"

I just did it again. How can I not? I entered my order and took note of the total; and then I added enough stuff to bring me to the next "volume discount" level. That total was lower than my original total! And I'm getting more stuff!

Hmmm, I wonder what happens if I go to the next level?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Weaving around

I've been experimenting with wire weaving, using copper wire to make rings. Finger rings, not maille rings; that's probably not a confusion for anyone but me, but there it is. Rings is a word I feel that I need to clarify.

Jargon is a funny thing. On one hand, it simplifies communication between people who share an interest; on the other, it confuses and shuts out those who don't know it. I have teenagers, and there are times when I absolutely do not know what they are talking about.

Well, this entry is wandering all over the place! I am at a total loss as to where to go from here, so I think I'll just stop.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ta-da!

Yup, the idea that I had last night worked. I am very happily wearing a ruby and haf-persian 3-1 bracelet today. Silver and dark red; yummy. The rubies are small; about 4mm, and lightly faceted. Just enough to catch a small twinkle of light; not enough to overwhelm the maille.

That was the problem with most of my ideas yesterday; they all took attention away from the chain, like a naughty child in a kindergarten class. But these small rubies play well with the chain, they complement each other and neither makes attention getting plays for center stage.

Now for chain number two . . . hmm . . . I'm part of the way there, but not satisfied yet.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So now what do I do with it?

Half Persian is a beautiful weave, and I've been having a great time playing with it. But I honestly don't know what to do with it yet. I tried out a few ideas today; but didn't come up with anything that wowed me. All of my original ideas were much better in fantasy than in reality.

Oooh. Just had a new thought. I'm outta here!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Notes to self on Half Persian 3-1:

  • Don't set this weave down without hooking a piece of wire through the next ring position.

  • Don't drop this weave.

  • Don't fall in love with it.

(Oops, too late).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Play day

Oh, but I had such a treat today. A whole day, all to myself, nothing I had to do and no one around to change that! So the tube settings came out for real; they sure do go a lot faster in my imagination. But they went fine, no major surprises, and I have a very nice eudialite and corundum pendant to show for it.

The eudialite is an interesting shape; not quite a shield, not quite a triangle, but somewhere between the two and very nicely shaped. I added half a dozen tube set 3mm faceted corundum to it along one side, and I'm very pleased with how it came out.

I made a simple two in one chain and I'm wearing it now. Such are the perks of a day at the bench.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is it real or is it imagination?

Does it matter?

Today was one of those very busy, running around sort of days. I did get quite a lot accomplished, but I didn't have any time for fun. Not of the real sort, anyway. But in the spaces between the places and the things that needed doing, I pretended I was making things. I made the loveliest little tube settings I could imagine, twinkling around a lovely cab.

Except I kept changing the cab, substituting this one for that, and even incorporating some lovely stones that may well exist only in my mind. I made some fabulous imaginary jewelry today. I'm like that. I rehearse things in my mind so many times that often when I pick them up for the first time, they feel like old friends.

I solved a lot of problems today. And when the time comes to execute those tiny tube settings in metal, I'm sure I'll encounter a few more. But some of it will be very familiar; and that's one of the things that makes it so much fun to do.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where have I been?

Well, not here, obviously! But I have found some time to get back to my bench and my beading board, and today I took some photographs of my most recent projects. If the muse is willing and the stories come, I'll post them over at Jewelry Tales over the next several days.

I am determined to overcome the difficulties that have been plaguing me this year; I may not be able to solve the problems we are facing, but I have realized that I cannot allow myself to be consumed by them, either. That's easier said than done, of course; but is is time for me to force my focus towards other things.

I may not make it here every day, but I'd surely like to be a lot more regular than I've been.

Friday, March 21, 2008

More adventures with seed beads

Who knew that making Russian Leaves was the coolest thing ever? Raise your hands; I know you knew that and just never told me. So, okay, the first one is very confusing and takes forever and doesn't look anything like the diagrams until suddenly it does; but the second one works up in no time flat and even whispers suggestions for modifications to make it work even better in my design.

Yes, I am making that flower-filled extravaganza of a necklace that I've wanted to make since the first time I saw one. I finally got up enough nerve to do it. I'm old enough now. Perhaps there are young women with enough guts to make a beaded garden and wear it around her neck, but I was not one of them.

Age has its benefits.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Something seedy

Laura McCabe's newest book really got me going! She is an amazing bead artist; she really pushes the limit of what can be done with seed beads. I have a real love/hate relationship with those teeny tiny tubes of glass; I love little things, but I have a hard time using them in a way that pleases me.

And then I saw Laura McCabe's work. Wow. Nothing shy there; she uses color so beautifully and she makes those seed beads sing. I'm humming along behind her; very softly and tentatively right now, but I'm excited. This stuff is just too much fun.

Take a look at Laura McCabes's work and see if you don't agree; she's brilliant!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tribute to three special women

I realized today how fortunate I've been; I have had three very creative women who led, taught and encouraged me from the very beginning of my life. Today, I'd like to pay tribute to them and express my gratitude; I am so very lucky to have had all three of you.

My mother has always been my best cheerleader; she has found something nice to say about everything I've ever made, and she has always encouraged me to try new things. If they didn't turn out, oh well; it was a learning experience. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to see the good in everything, and to (finally!) meet new situations with confidence.

My maternal grandmother was a true craftswoman of the old school; in addition to emphasizing the importance of technical skills, she taught me perseverance and objectivity. She always had her work to hand, and she worked every day of her life without fail. She recognized that the work stands alone, separate from the maker, and she never hesitated to rip things to bits and start over if it wasn't what she wanted it to be. Thanks, Grammy, for showing me humility, and for teaching me to refine my skills every day.

My paternal grandmother is still going strong at 101 years of age; she has always marched to her own drummer, and she always will. She gave me total freedom in her bead box, and encouraged me to listen for my own beat. Hers is the voice I hear when the work is whispering, "What if . . ." and I find myself taking a sudden left turn without ever looking back. Thank you, Grandma, for giving me the confidence to go where the work leads, and the courage to turn my back on what I thought I wanted to make in order to find what I ought to make.

I would not be what I am without you!