Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've got a rather large number of silver-lined, bright green beads that are either of Chinese manufacture, or Czech before they started to care about uniformity.

You're seeing only a small number of them in this picture; there are lots more hiding in my drawer. I like the color, but I'm not crazy about the idea of culling them; they are terribly irregular in size. And they're very, very bright; silver-lined beads are always bright, but these seem to be brighter than usual. I've been passing them over for a long time; wondering if I should just get rid of them, or let them stay, taking up space.

Did I mention that I have quite a lot of them?

So, yesterday I had an idea. I've started a new piece; it's to be completely beadwoven and contain ceramic and lampwork focal beads. It's going to be a medium-big piece, but the focal beads are heavy, so it needs a lot of structure. A lot of structure that isn't going to show . . . do you see where I'm going here?

I'm hoping that these bright green silver-lined beads will reflect light up into the piece when it's done and create a subtle glow. That may be too much to expect; I'm prepared to cover every inch of them with other beads if they turn out to be less of a design element and more of a distraction. But, regardless of whether or not any of them end up being seen in the final product, I'm using them.

Without culling. Well, at least without very much culling. The really bizarre ones do have to go.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ghost of Christmas Past

"And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . ."

That turned out to be the hard part.

The little tree with all my favorite glass ornaments and a ton of glass icicles went up very happily in my new studio; that was new, and I loved bringing Christmas into my new space. We bought our big tree for the hall early; it isn't decorated yet, but that's only because decorating the tree requires scheduling. It's the one part of Christmas decorating that I don't do all by myself.

The wreath is on the door, and the plants have their decorative stakes; the nativity and winter scenes are arranged; the dining table is dressed; the little trees at the top of the stairs are decorated, and the dolls and toys have been arranged beneath them. The pine cone candy basket that my sister made is on the coffee table; the little train set runs around it, as it always has. The poinsettia is on the bar, the M&Ms are in the little candy dish, and the Santa plate is filled with cookies.

But the box with the stockings in it sat, untouched, for days.

I just couldn't do it.

This is the first year that my daughter won't be home for Christmas; she's with her boyfriend, on the other side of the country. We're happy for her; she's a grown up, and she's where she needs to be right now . . . but seeing her Christmas stocking brought more than a few tears to my eyes.

It seems like just yesterday that I made it for her; just yesterday that she waited impatiently on the stairs on Christmas morning for the signal to run as fast as she could to see what Santa had brought. Her stocking is the green one on the right; see Santa on it? She loved visiting Santa; when she was in kindergarten, she and I visited every Santa in town. I don't think we missed a single one.

Her stocking will remain empty on our mantlepiece this year; Santa will have real snow to get through when he visits her.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Exclamation points


They're getting out of control.

I've noticed them creeping into my writing; not just one of them, but two, three, six or nine of them to punctuate a single sentence. When I see that happening, I'm starting to hit the delete key; really, there are very few times that I'm that surprised, shocked or delighted. It seems that, like potato chips, when it comes to exclamation points: one is no longer enough.

I never used to use exclamation points at all; I had it drilled into me that it was far better to use words to convey excitement than punctuation. I seem to have grown lazy; my sentences are getting shorter and my punctuation is getting longer. I don't like what that says about me; I want to express my feelings, not rely on a generic punctuation mark.

So that's my resolution for 2011; to eliminate the effusive use of exclamation points and get back to using my words.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Following directions

It's relaxing sometimes, y'know?

I'm not very far along on this one, but it kept my sanity intact while judging the Ice Queen Challenge. There were so many gorgeous entries; it's a total cliche, I know, but I wish we could have declared all of them winners. There wasn't a piece entered whose merits we didn't debate; it was terribly hard to choose just three winners. We were still debating it less than an hour before it was time to announce.

But that's neither here nor there.

I've actually used two tutorials from two different shops to make this little snippet; I will be adding more sections until it's long enough to wear as a necklace. The beaded bead is beAd Infinitum's Ionic Octahedra, and the rope is a variation of NEDBeads' Trellis Series Necklace. I used the beaded beads in place of the crystals in the rope, and made it a little bit bigger around to balance the beaded beads. Both changes were super-easy to make; this rope has room for a lot of variations.

I'm not normally very good at following directions, but when my mind is occupied with other things, it's a real relief to have something to do with my hands that doesn't involve thinking. Using a tutorial is like stepping into another artist's brain; it's very inspiring once the need for relaxation has worn off.