Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fast forward to New Year's Eve

Where did the week go? I blinked and it was over. It seems like it was Christmas Eve just yesterday. But it's been a week, there's no getting around it.

It was mostly a quiet week; the last week of the year is generally one I spend in contemplation, thinking about the year that is ending, and the things I want to do differently in the coming year.

This year, I want to laugh more; I want to let go of things that make me sad, and focus on happy things. It should be a very easy thing to do, but for some reason that I don't really understand, it's harder than it should be. Some of the sad things have acquired such importance; letting go of them is scary.

But let go, I will. I intend to enjoy this next year; I intend to laugh, love, and let go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Christmas Eve

I'm slowly finishing up the last of my Christmas Eve preparations; the gifts are all wrapped and under the tree, the sil (pickled herring) has been transferred to a pretty bowl, and next I will put the homemade candies on the dessert tray.

Then it will be time for me to get as beautiful as I get; I love to get ready slowly on Christmas Eve. I will indulge myself with scrubs and lotions, leave behind my jeans and tank top uniform for an actual (gasp!) dress, and put on a pretty pin, handmade by a friend of mine, the artist behind McLain Jewelry.

You may wonder why I buy jewelry when I make it myself; I buy it because I love having things that my friends have made. The pieces I buy are special to me; when I wear them, I feel especially close to the friend who made it. Handmade items are like that; they carry a little bit of the maker wherever they go.

I hope that wherever you are, you are with friends; in spirit, if not in the flesh.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The other day I posted a resolution:
Today, I resolve to let go of the things I cannot change; to let go of the things I want to change; to live with things as they are, without waiting for them to change.

To live with them without wanting them to change

and I came face to face with the fact that the word "want," has quite a range of meaning. It can express desire from a whim to an aching void; it can be used in the context of an order of french fries or a heart's desire.

For a very long time, I have been in want of something that is out of my ability to achieve. It has been a deep hole in my life; an aching emptiness that I am unable to fill. My wanting has not made it happen; my wanting has only made me sad. I haven't wanted to give up that wanting; I wanted to hold on to it. Although it has made me miserable, I did not want to let go.

And then, suddenly, I knew I must. Why now? Nothing changed; my want is neither nearer nor further away than it has ever been; it is still something I would prefer, but it is no longer a deep, aching, empty lacking. I don't want it that way any more; I want peace and happiness more, so I have let go of it.

We don't always get what we want.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A walk on the beach

My husband and I took a lovely walk on the beach this morning. We stopped at a little outdoor cafe for muffins, juice and coffee; and, after snarfing down our muffins, we sipped our beverages and meandered along the coast.

I know, I know; there's a blizzard on the opposite coast; a couple of years ago, we would have been there, all bundled up and shoveling snow, instead of walking by the shore wearing nothing more than jeans and T-shirts.

How lucky we are to live in an age where transportation makes the world accessible. I feel so much richer for having lived in so many different places; I am able to appreciate things on so many different levels.

It feels so good to set down my burden of stress and pick up gratitude instead.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

I'll admit it; I've had a hard time getting in the spirit this year. The last four years have been rough ones, and I finally realized that, oddly enough, I've gotten so used to being under stress that I think of it as a normal condition. I need to re-learn how to live!

And what better time than now?

Today, I resolve to let go of the things I cannot change; to let go of the things I want to change; to live with things as they are, without waiting for them to change.

To live with them without wanting them to change.

It's a tough resolution; I expect to have problems keeping it. But I need to reduce the stress I've been living under and find my happy happy joy joy. I need to focus on what is good and let go of what isn't.

It's time for a rebirth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Champagne, anyone?

I'm pouring tonight!! I found out today that I won the "Design of Distinction" award in the Use the Muse III contest.

I've been pouring over the gorgeous gallery of entries, and I'm amazed and humbled by all the wonderful ways that people used the muse. It's going to take me at least a month to take it all in; there are so very many beautiful entries.

If you want to see some gorgeous eye candy, stop on by!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A better life through beading

On her blog at The Beader's Muse, Scarlett posed an interesting question today:
How has expressing your creativity through beading enriched your life?

Number one for me, is all the friends I've made, both in person, and on-line. Beaders are, for the most part, good people; most of them are generous to a fault, sharing their experience, and their beads, with friends, students, and strangers they meet on a train. I've had some of the best times of my life sharing ideas and techniques with other beaders!

On a more personal, solitary level, beading fills my need to do intricate, delicate work. I love pretty things, and I love to make pretty things. I've done all sorts of hand work, from embroidery to making lace; from quilting to dressmaking, but I always come back to the beads. I've been beading for nearly 45 years!

For me, the joy has always been in the details, and beading allows me an almost infinite number of choices; I can choose from so many colors, sizes and shapes. I love beading; I joke that it is my therapy of choice. In truth, it probably is. My life is richer for having spent my time playing with beads.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The best part about the Use the Muse Contest

This contest always seems to kick my beading up to a new level. I don't know why, but it does! Maybe it's the challenge of working with beads that were selected by someone else, or maybe it's something more subtle than that.

After completing my first Use the Muse contest, I developed my bead filigree technique. And after entering Use the Muse III, I'm off to the races with beaded lace; taking the idea of a hand flower bracelet to a new place.

It's amazing how this contest kicks up my creativity; it's the last thing I expected. I thought the first time it was probably a fluke, but now I'm two for two!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, it's about time!

I got the Christmas spirit this morning. The Nativity is up, the winter scene with the characters from the Wizard of Oz is up, and the main Christmas tree is in the front hall.

Tomorrow, well put the lights on the tree and decorate it.

And then, I might just put out a few more decorations. I haven't hung the stockings yet!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not gonna make it in time

I started my lace piece in response to a challenge on one of the beading forums I frequent; the challenge was to make something that would be at home in a Tolkien novel.

I think you can already see the elfin nature of it, or at least I hope you can; and as I get more done, I think you'll see that it fits the costume style of the epic movies.

But the challenge entries are due tomorrow. I won't be ready; not even close. I did as much as I could today, and I realized that, in order to do what I want to do with it, I've got at least another week of work ahead of me.

I'll miss submitting it with the rest of the group, but as a personal challenge, it has been a success.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creation or evolution?

Nope, not going to have a theological or scientific debate; this is strictly about beadwork. It struck me odd today, as my lace project went off in a direction that I had not anticipated: while I like to think of myself as creative, most of the time I would balk at the word, "creator."

I don't tend to create my pieces; they tend to evolve, suggesting (okay, demanding) that I take them down roads I hadn't planned to travel. Take this piece, for example. Just the other day, someone asked me if I had considered making the flowers 3-dimensional, and I answered quickly and firmly, "No."

It was not something I was considering; not at all.

But I'll be switched if those flowers didn't just want to pop petals out today; I went to do what I'd intended to do, and instead of lying flat, the petals curved enticingly. It's better than what I'd intended to do.

Sometimes it's best to just leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's working. Maybe.

The jury's still out on the background I'm adding to my lace motifs, but I think it's going to work. I need to do more before I'm sure; I'm not ready to photograph it and share. I want to live with it overnight before I decide.

Strictly speaking, it's not a background at all. It does serve the same purpose, to connect the motifs and make a fabric of beads; but it isn't groundwork in any sense of the word. It's bold. It needs embellishment, but that's good, because I want to embellish it.

It's not what I thought I would do, but I think I'm going to keep it.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Is it jewelry, or is it lace?

Well, of course, it's both. Or at least it will be. Right now, it's still in process, and isn't really either.

What you see here is the foundation. The motifs have been woven of beads and basted to a needlelace pad; next I will link them together and embellish the flowers.

If this were strictly lace, I'd weave a very fine net for the background, but it isn't strictly lace. It's going to be a piece of jewelry. And even the smallest beads are not fine enough to make a ground for motifs this delicate.

So I think I will put on my jewelers hat and make a firm ground of bars in a very contrasting color. I'll find out tomorrow if this is a good idea; I found out today that netting was definitely not a good idea. Of course, if the bars don't work, I could always revert to lace making and make a fine ground with thread, but I'd rather use beads if I can.

It is meant to be jewelry, you know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hijacked by mimosas

I did a little bit on my beaded lace today, and then my husband and I went out to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners sure have changed in the past 20 years; they have features that I would never need, and parts that I have no clue what they do.

But I digress.

After buying the vacuum cleaner, we decided to go out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant around the corner from our house. They were still serving brunch; they had an all-you-can-eat buffet that included a choice of mimosas or champagne. I chose mimosas because I'm a bit of a champagne snob; when I don't know the quality of the wine, I prefer to have it mixed with something else.

Our waitress was very vigilant about keeping our glasses full, and we were equally committed to eating as much as possible. By the time we all conceded defeat, I knew that weaving tiny beads into lace was over for the day.

Can't say I'm sorry, though!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making lace again

I've started a new beaded lace project and I'm really excited about it. It is going to be something rather different for me; much more delicate than anything I've ever done before.

Of course, it is going to take awhile. But that's good; I'm back to looking forward to long-term projects. Whew. I had myself worried for awhile there! But I'm back to being me again, and back to enjoying a nice, long, fiddly project.

Isn't it funny what makes me happy?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I make asymmetrical necklaces

I know that I should make both sides at the same time, doing a row on one side, then repeating it on the other, if I want to make a necklace with symmetrical neck straps; but it's hard not to get caught up in the fever of designing.

I have a tendency to want to keep going as long as the ideas are coming; making notes, and believing that I will remember whatever I don't write down. You'd think I'd know by now: by the time the first side is done, my notes turn out to be cryptic at best, and I remember nothing.

It's embarrassing, but I'm reverse-engineering my own work.