Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Challenge Met - The Beadswap Reveal

A couple of months ago, I signed up to participate in a bead swap challenge called the Bead Soup Double Up. Then life, the day job, a quick trip to the hospital, and (frankly) forgetfulness intervened, and I didn't work on creating something - anything - with the really great beads I had received from Krafty Max.

A sneak peek from last week

has turned into this bracelet:

Did you guess that's that was where I was going with it? Frankly, I had lots and lots of ideas, but this is where I landed. I'm really pleased -- even my husband looked at it and said "that's really cool!" High praise, indeed!

The pack included lots of gemstones and seed beads in blacks and greys, and the ocean jasper focal really appealed to me. I picked up on the shades of blue and purple in the donut, surrounded it with iolite and Czech glass, and echoed the purple and blue shades, deepened and enriched by the darker shades of seed beads, in the rest of the bracelet.

It's not completely finished in this photo. I'll be putting it onto a brass blank cuff, backing it with suede, and adding an edging in the same 8/o beads as I used around the focal donut. (See how I gave myself another blog post topic there?)

There were more gemstones in the pack that didn't become part of the bracelet (like, all of them aside from the focal). So I used the jasper rectangles, combined them with some sponge coral and cinnabar from my own stash, and came up with this necklace.

There's a really beautiful, deep red/orange vein running through some of the beads. That's what inspired the inclusion of the cinnabar and coral. I love the depth and detail in these beads.

Thanks, Max, for the really varied and rich springboard to dive off of for this challenge. It was fun! And since I had more materials than time to work with, I'll revisit what's left -- can't wait to see what comes from all of it! (Aha! Another blog post topic...)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Responding to a Challenge

Over a month ago, I saw an invitation to join a challenge called the Bead Soup Double Up on Facebook. The idea is that you pull together a box of beads that includes a focal, seed beads, and anything else you choose to include, mail them off, and the organizer would pair you up with a fellow bead fanatic. I mean, enthusiast. You create something with the goodies you receive and post it to the group at the end of May.

Fresh off the joy of the 7000 Bracelets blog hop, I signed up. Had a blast putting together a box to send to my swap buddy, and was very excited when my box of goodies arrived in the mail (even though the ominous rattle inside the box warned me about the tube of seed beads that self-destructed en route).

And then life intervened, as it so often does. And the beads sat in their mailing box for over month.

So now I'm in a full on, throttle-wide-open panic to be creative in time for the deadline of May 30. Here's a teaser of how I've treated the focal....it's a very cool agate that came to me with lots of black and grey seed beads and other gemstones. Being the contrarian that I am, I picked up on the shades of blue and purple in the markings of the donut and encircled it with iolite and Czech glass.

Any guesses what I'll be doing with it from here? Especially given the fact that I only have a few days to complete the piece and a full time job away from the bead table?

I'm living on the edge, here, folks!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

There's something I haven't confessed to in this blog.

I love shoes. Seriously enjoy them. To the point that my children, when they were little, would do all they could to steer me away from a store's shoe department because they knew it might just eat up a chunk of the afternoon. To the point that several of my students, back in the days when I taught at a college, made baseball shirts for a bunch of people, and the name they put across the back of mine was "Shooz".

What does this have to do with jewelry and beading? I ran across this picture on AOL today, from StyleList.
These are shoes by Guiseppe Zanotti using diamonds, tourmalines, pink sapphires and russellites from Chopard. And in case your feet get weary from the stiletto heels, the jeweled portion of the ankle straps detach to be worn as bracelets. Thoughtful, no?

Time for another confession -- back in the early 80's I had some smoking hot fuschia and purple high heeled sandals. I blew a whole week's paycheck on them (from working, no joke, at a shoe store). Those shoes wowed 'em at the disco.

But these Zanottis are a little bold even for me. And no, it's not because I'm old enough to have gone to a disco, even if I was underage at the time. (Yikes, that was confession #3! What's the statute of limitations on pretending to be 21 when you're only 19?)

Good thing I'm not lusting after these shoes. At $180,000 I don't think these would be in my closet any time soon, no matter how much I like them!

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the briolettes to play with, though.....

(And if you recognized the quote in the post title as being from Paul Simon's Graceland album, extra bonus points to you!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Mother of All Giveaways

Okay, fair warning here -- if you are prone to fits of drooling when you see beautiful beads on your computer screen, then you should take appropriate precautionary measures before checking out the jaw-dropping, awe inspiring, gasp inducing, you-can't-believe-there's-so-much-stuff, drool worthy giveaway being done at the Art Bead Scene blog.

Go. Look. Be amazed. Clean up your keyboard, and then enter for yourself.

You can bet I've put my name in the entries!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Weekend Art Show - Wherein We Defy the Laws of Mathematics and Meteorology, and Perform a Floor Show

Yesterday I began the saga of the art fair that I participated in this past weekend. Saturday had been a great day, and if things continued on at the same pace on Sunday, it would be one of the most productive shows I'd done in a very long time.

Sadly, we were in for a less fabulous day.

What had been predicted to be a 60-degree day with only 40% chance of rain turned out to be a 45-degree day with nonstop rain.

So on Sunday, 40% = 100%. The laws of mathematics were now apparently no longer valid.

Ah, well.

At least there were still people coming to the fair. The crowds were understandably lighter, but the ones who did come were a hardy bunch. They braved the mud and the slop to shop, and they bought. Bless them.

But some time around noon, an unusual thing happened. It began raining. Inside my booth.

This has happened before during particularly rainy shows, so I wasn't altogether surprised,
though it does always strike me as a refutation of the laws of meteorology to have indoor precipitation. The swim noodles did their jobs and held the roof up (hooray!!!), but the poor tent roof just got so saturated that it soaked through and began dripping. Frequently down my back and on my head.

So I spent the rest of the day running around the booth, mopping up drips as they plopped in unpredictable spots on my display, trying my best to keep the jewelry dry and safe. For once, I had planned ahead. If you remember yesterday's photo of the ugly underbelly of my display tables:

See the white blob near the center top of the picture?

That, my friends, is a roll of paper towels, which I used nearly completely up. I felt like such a well-prepared scout!

At the end of the day, sweet husband showed up to help me break down and load out. Of course, the rain had slowed to a mild mist by this time, and believe me, we were all thankful for the break in the showers. We got everything packed up and loaded into the car before taking the tent down.

While my husband was taking a load of stuff to the car, I pulled the swim noodles out from the tent frame, and realized that once the noodles were gone, the moisture on the roof collected into a couple of puddles.

In the pre-noodle days, I would take care of this situation by pulling the edge of the roof, allowing the collected rain to run off. In the pre-noodle days, I would do this while standing inside the tent, reaching out to pull the edge while staying sheltered by the tent itself.

Yes, this was the crucial detail that I forgot until the first nanosecond after I tugged on the roof edge while standing in front of the tent.

The whole collection of rainwater came gushing down. On my upturned face. Much to the amusement of my neighboring artists.

I looked kind of like this:

So what do you do when you've simultaneously nearly drowned yourself and provided a load-out floor show for your fellow artists? Laugh along with them and be extra thankful that the heater in the car works.

So the moral of our story, dear friends? Always travel with swim noodles, a roll of paper towels, and a healthy sense of humor. It'll get you through any art show!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Weekend Art Fair - The Booth, The Golden Arches, and The Ugly Truth

This weekend I was in a local art fair - it was the third year I've done this show, and it's a popular event each spring. So here's the saga...

Chapter I -
The Booth, The Golden Arches, and The Ugly Truth

Set up is always an adventure. I'm always playing around with the arrangement of the booth itself, but this one was fairly close to my last indoor show. Things seemed to come together pretty well. Here's the final product right before the show opened on Saturday morning:

Looked pretty good. Pretty zen. But look closer...see the funny yellow things near the roof?

Those are swim noodles. The things you give your kids (or keep for yourself if you just want to float instead of paddle) when swimming. If you have an EZ Up tent as I do, you understand that if there is any moisture in the air within forty miles of your show, that moisture will inexplicably and inexorably be drawn to your tent roof, puddling up into ominous pools that threaten to collapse the whole shebang. Fellow artists at other shows had told me they combat this problem with (a) hula hoops or (b) swim noodles, which they put between the tent frame and the roof to support the roof canvas in the saggy spots.

If only I could find something to do that for the saggy spots on my body....


Anyhow, this seemed like the perfect time to test the concept, since there was a 60% chance of showers on Saturday and 40% chance on Sunday. They noodles looked kind of odd, but I was optimistic. At worst, they would be a great conversation point.

As I settled into my position behind my tables, ready to welcome the hordes (I hoped) of excited shoppers, I realized that an artist's booth has much in common with the old saying about the swan. You know, a swan looks so elegant gliding across the water, but under the surface of the lake, it's paddling like mad. An artist's booth looks great from the front, but behind the drapes and the tables, it ain't so pretty:

The show opened, crowds were good, and the weather was fine until around 4, when we heard some ominous rumbles of thunder...

And then I got the chance to test the swim noodles. They worked. Then again, it was a relatively quick storm, and even while it was raining, people continued to shop. The day ended up dry, and I had enough sales to feel like treating my sweet husband to dinner out as a reward for being so helpful in setting up. All in all, I was looking forward to Day 2.

Tomorrow's installment:
Chapter II: Wherein We Defy the Laws of Mathematics and Meteorology, and Perform A Floor Show

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Would Have Kissed the Mailman

You know how a package in the mailbox can just brighten your day right up?

Well, today I got a little package of sunshine in the mailbox - beads from Julsbeads!

I mean, seriously, how great are these?

And to make it even more mindblowingly fun, a little extra surprise (or, as my grandmother would have said, "a sursie") was enclosed.

Honestly, if I'd have been home when he delivered these, I just might have kissed the mailman!

If you want to drool over some wonderful eye candy, or if you just have a hankering to kiss your mailman (I promise, I would understand), you should check out Julsbead's Etsy shop.

You'll thank me. And so will your postal carrier.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Running for Roses, the End of Hat Week, and Mother's Day

The sun shone bright on this first Saturday in May, so lots of people donned their hats, poured their bourbon, and spent the afternoon getting ready for the most exciting two minutes in sports (aka, the Kentucky Derby).

Today also marks the end of Hat Week, a celebration I invented to mark the week that was bookended by the Royal Wedding and the Kentucky Derby.

So in honor of the Run for the Roses, I wanted to highlight some of the pictures from today's Derby that featured hats with flowers (there's a rumor that there were also some horses at Churchill Downs today, but depending on where you looked, you might not have known it!).

This next hat looks very much like the one my daughter wore today, though hers was completely ivory. So pretty! When and if I retrieve my camera, I'll share the picture I took before she headed out this morning...

Start 'em learning early...(isn't she precious?!?!?)

And since today's Derby champion was Animal Kingdom, here are a couple of hats that combine a nod to roses and to the horses that want to wear them...

If you're interested in seeing more (seriously, hundreds more) photos of the hats that graced Churchill Downs today, from the wonderfully fabulous to the truly bizarre, check out the galleries from the Louisville Courier-Journal here. Last time I checked, there were 9 galleries of photos, just of people and their hats.

Again, to bring the post back to jewelry, here are a few pairs of earrings I've made for an upcoming show. Many more pieces with flower beads in my inventory, just not that many on the memory card of the camera (and since the camera went to Derby with my daughter and her boyfriend, I had to make do with what I'd already taken...)

And in case the part of my family that was able to get to town for the weekend sweeps me away for a fabulous day of brunch and fun, I'll wish everyone an early Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oaks, Lillies, and Pink!

Today in Louisville, it's Oaks Day -- the day before the Kentucky Derby that's locally called "Louisville's Derby." A lot of people who live in town go to Churchill Downs today and leave the actual Derby day madness to the out of towners, celebrities, and national media. The main race of today, the Oaks Stakes, is a race for fillies, and is known as the Run for the Lillies.

But the day is not just a local excuse for a party -- a few years ago, the whole day became associated with breast cancer awareness, and pink became the "must do" color for the day.

So here are some hats from Oaks Day. The second and third pictures are actually from today, while the first was from last year's race.

Even the horses are pink and fashionable today...

And to bring the blog back to jewelry, here are a few pieces I've created with various shades of pink, from sweet to bold.

So everyone pull out your mint and simple syrup, muddle it up, and get those Mint Juleps ready for tomorrow. Derby On, everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today was the Pegasus Parade, a tradition that occurs the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby.

A parade is not a subtle thing. Between the giant balloons, the floats, the marching bands, and the watching children hyped up on sugar and excitement, everything is big and bold.

And so in that spirit, I wanted to share some of the biggest, boldest Derby hats I could find.

Since hats are a chance to express your personality, sense of fun and creativity, some people take a little different turn...

There are some consistent themes in Derby hats. Such as feathers. Lots and lots of feathers. Even if it looks like some poor turkey has exploded on your head.

And as long as you look good, you don't have to be able to see where you're going. Apparently.

This next woman, I can't even tell which way she's facing. I hope the hat didn't actually eat her head down to her shoulders, poor lady....

And the most consistent truth about Derby hats? Bigger is better. Which again begs the question, how the heck do you fit into the car to get to the track?!? What kind of box did you bring this thing home from the store in? And where will you store this after today?

And now in stark contrast to all that big, feathered headgear, here's a simple little necklace I mailed off to my mom for Mother's Day. It was the first time I've done a piece of birthstone jewelry - from top to bottom, the crystals are for my mom, my sister, me, my kids, and my sister's daughter.

Tomorrow is Oaks Day, which is almost as big a deal as the Derby itself. Schools are closed (buses can't move in the traffic gridlock), many people have the day off from work, and people wear pink to the track to support the day's breast cancer awareness theme. I'll be hunkering down and cleaning house for out of town guests. Joy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Green, Muddy, and Fabulous

Y'all, I had the great luck today to go to an event at Churchill Downs today. It may be three days before the Kentucky Derby, but they're running full slates of races every day, and you can feel the excitement bubbling up everywhere.

What I wasn't clever enough to realize was that I should have worn a hat.

Churchill Downs + Derby week= HATS. Duh. I am now swimming in the irony of it all.

Many of the women who attended this event were wearing fabulous hats. Some of them were wearing spectacular hats. There was one woman wearing a hat that, I kid you not, was twice as wide as her shoulders. Watching her navigate through the room was akin to watching a ballerina pirouette across a stage. While balancing an elephant on her head.

Anyway, it has been raining here for many, many days, so the track was quite sloppy. Mud was flying, but the horses were beautiful. Sadly, the ones I put my money on were beautiful but slow.

But all the rain is making all the plants and trees in town incredibly green. When the sun finally broke through the clouds today, it was stunning to see how lush everything is.

So today's hats are in shades of spring green. I find light, spring, chartreuse-y green a little tough to work with, but every now and then I work to break myself out of my rut, because honestly, it's a perfectly lovely fresh color.

Today's event was not one I was in charge of, so I felt like I couldn't break out the camera and take pictures of the women in attendance. Hence, I'm using photos from websites. This first one is, obviously, from a store's site. How's that for a statement flower?

This next one is not a picture of me, nor is this lady anyone I know. But she looked chic and beautiful enough in this designer's hat that she was featured on their website. And seriously, if I had been closer enough to this hat in real life, I'd have been sorely tempted to grab it and make it my own...

And here's my ode to spring green - I wore this necklace today, and it will be for sale at my show in two weeks.
Thankfully, I am typically more successful in putting together jewelry than in putting together a winning wager on the ponies. Ah, well!