Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Best Use I've Made of a Muffin Tin in Months!

Heather of Humble Beads threw down the creative gauntlet -- fill a muffin tin with the raw materials for 12 projects, and complete them in a week.

As I wrote last time, this was a perfect focusing prompt for me, coming on the same day that I was packing for a long weekend in the mountains. I had been wondering what jewelry-related goodies to take along, so I packed up my muffin tin and hit the road.

Now, I tend to be an improvisational beader, usually surrounding myself with the raw materials and letting the inspiration strike. As I go along, if I need to reconsider the plan, I can always make a quick run back to the bead room to get other beads, different findings, more stringing materials....So, both planning twelve projects and pulling the appropriate bits and pieces for them (allowing for the inevitable "oh, dang, that's not gonna work the way I thought" change of plans), was an even bigger challenge.

Some of these are very simple, which isn't a bad thing. I took the pictures outside of the cabin I was in, so the lighting was what it was (a little shadier than optimal), and I really missed having a display bust to show how the necklaces hang....but hey, I was in the mountains, so it couldn't be all bad, right?

So here are the results -- three necklaces, two bracelets, and seven pairs of earrings. You may notice many of the art beads are the beautiful work of JulsBeads. I'd gotten a great set of earring pairs, and I'd been itching to use them, so this was a great excuse.

JulsBeads focal and faceted glass beads - this is my favorite of all the pieces that I did for this challenge

Furnace glass, macrame, Bali silver

Faceted glass, antiqued silver chain

Amazonite, brass filigree, upcycled vintage brass chain -
my favorite pair of earrings from this challenge

JulsBeads art beads, gold filled wire

Glass pearls, gold chain

JulsBeads art beads, Bail silver

JulsBeads art beads, vintage glass, Bali sterling with vermeil

Swarovski crystals, gold filled rings

JulsBeads art beads, vintage glass flower bead caps

carved rhodonite, vintage glass, brass, macrame

glass beads and about four too few freshwater pearls
This is when I really missed being able to run back to the bead room for a
couple more beads because I didn't pack enough!
(You can't see the other end of the bracelet because a proper lady never shows up
without being completely dressed. Okay, the real reason is that I cropped
the picture so you couldn't see my fingers holding up the pearls
on the incomplete strand...)

I had fun, and I learned a valuable lesson that I can share with you: if you are taking pictures outdoors on the side of a mountain, be prepared to climb down the mountain through the scrub to retrieve the jewelry when it falls off the tree branch you've so carefully perched it on. Dress appropriately...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Muffin Tins and Advance Planning

Have you heard about the Muffin Tin Jewelry Challenge?

This fabulous idea hit my blog reading list the very same day I was getting ready for a quick vacation to the mountains. I had been dithering over what to pack, beadwise, to take along.

And, like a magical intervention from the universe, this idea came to help focus my efforts.

It's been an interesting process, making the projects I envisioned come to fruition without the luxury of being able to raid the supply stash when things don't work the way they did in your mind. I'll end up with 12 completed piece of jewelry, but I also kind of feel like I should get a scouting merit badge for jewelry-making improvisation!

And believe me, I would have posted a picture of my muffin tin, loaded and ready to go, except that the cord that connects my camera to the computer is currently being used to download an update to my GPS. Apparently, it's a miracle that I've found my way anywhere recently, because the download counter says it's going to take 80 hours to complete the download.

Now, the connection in the mountains may be a little slow. But 80 hours?!? If I can find my way back home, I'll post the before and after pictures on Monday....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wherein We Discover Keys To Treasure and Give Thanks for Mature Children and Antihistamines

A couple of hours this weekend were spent poking around in a lovely antique mall -- rummaging around in dusty, rusty, mildewy, sneezy piles of fabulousness.

Thus the thanks for the antihistamine.

Though I've found beads in this store in the past, there weren't really any this time around. But there were still some things that made me squeal. Out loud.

Thus the thanks for mature children. My daughter, who was shopping with me, has apparently reached the age where her mother squealing in public no longer sends her into spasms of mortification.

In fact, she squealed with me when I found this great box of dominoes. I don't think they've got any great age on them - 30 or 40 years is my guess because they're not plastic - but they're very cool. Look at the great dragon on the back!

She also helped pick out keys.

There were so many more, but for once we behaved ourselves and acted responsibly....kind of.

I haven't done a lot of found-object work, but it's something I have been itching to explore more. These seem to be the perfect raw materials for some play. What would you do with these?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Escaping to Sanity

Pretty soon, I'll get to go spend time in my favorite place in the world. The photo above is from nearby.

Seriously, I can't keep the smile off my face. It irritates my coworkers.

I won't lie to you -- I'm pretty darned excited.

Many photos will be taken. Many naps will be taken. Many friends will be hugged. Great food, good wine, old stories, and older jokes will be shared. I'll even have some beads with me, because the surroundings never fail to inspire.

I plan to be annoyingly, stinkingly, alarmingly happy the entire time.

Do you have a place like that? A place that never fails to erase the stresses of your life? A place you can escape and completely recharge your mind and spirit? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Project That Ate My Bead Table (the Update)

Sometimes there are those projects that seem to stay stuck in an unfinished state.

They just won't tell you what they want to be. Or you know what they want to be, but for some reason, every time you sit down to work, the needle may as well be a spaghetti noodle, for as much good as it's doing you.

So instead of being fabulously creative, your beading session becomes a little more like this:

I have one of those projects. And a while back, I decided to use this blog as a means of keeping myself honest and motivated on it -- if I promised to keep you updated on my progress, I'll be a lot less likely to hide that puppy under a pile of other things.

The first hurdle was how to bring these disparate components into a connected whole.

I won't lie. There were some misbegotten attempts along the way. There were some ideas that failed in a pretty cataclysmic, hide-the-babies'-eyes -'cause-it's-so-ugly kind of way.

And that's the joy of beadweaving. And my thread clippers became my best friend as I ripped one attempt after another out and started again. But finally, the answer became clear (cue angelic singing here).

Now, joining these bits together with netting ain't rocket science. The result is not so complex, but all the pieces are now playing nicely together, awaiting the next step. And it gives me the flexibility to move in a lot of different directions from here. The ideas are percolating...

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Transitions, Passages, and Inspirations

You may not think, as you read this post, that it is bead related. It will be. Promise.

The centerpiece of this past weekend was my daughter's graduation from college. (Pardon me while I go through a quick succession of wild applause, uncontrollable weeping, and spastic happy dancing, all while wondering how she became an adult while I remained as cute and shapely as I was in my mid-20's....)

Also involved in the weekend was moving our son out of his dorm room to come back home for at least part of the summer, and moving our daughter out of her apartment, splitting her possessions between storage until grad school in the fall and those things she'll need for her summer obligations.

Needless to say, packing up the possessions of two young adults in one weekend inspires a person to want to simplify and organize.

See the glee in their faces as they contemplate the joy of
letting Mom and Dad pay for unlimited food and laundry
for the next couple of months?

So (and, as promised, here comes the bead related portion), I plan to do a clean out of my bead room, purging and reorganizing. The state of my bead table is horrifyingly disorganized, and the only way to get near it is by leaping over piles of bead strands, seed beads, magazines, and books. Seriously, it's going to be closer to an archeological dig than a reorganization.

But there will be treasures unearthed and given a new chance to become something beautiful. Will I be able to use everything? Probably not, and therein lies the fun...

All of this newfound organization and stash clearing will result in some giveaways here, so stay tuned! Fair warning -- the next few weeks will be almost as insane as this past weekend was, so the planned clean out may take a while to materialize, but it will happen!

And in the meantime, I have to remember how to grocery shop for two extra appetites and revel in the joy of having everyone under the roof again for a little while. Happy, happy, happy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Unravelling a Ruffled Riddle, or, Resurrecting the Fugly

Ever had one of those projects that looked absolutely fabulous in your mind, but in reality, eh, not so much?

Yep, I have a couple of those. Actually, a lot of them. More like a great big, mountainous stack of misbegotten projects that threatens to topple over and bury me in beady badness (and not in a good way) every time I dare to look at it.

This was one (although for some reason, Blogger has decided to show it rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise - go figure).

In my mind, it was going to be a really wonderful freeform necklace.

It started out great. Ruffles, soft colors, cool bugle beads fanning out in a nice textural section.

Whether it was because I've never been a particularly ruffly girl and therefore did not properly speak the language of the furl, or because the necklace was just a bad idea to start with, it turned out to be a wonky, off-kilter, badly balanced pile of pink ick.

I was tempted to cut it apart and pretend it never happened, but frankly, after undoing the original side sections, it was easier to let the rest crawl onto the fugly project stack and mock me endlessly than to sort the rest of the countless seed beads back into their original tubes.

Then one day a week or so ago, I saw it again and thought, "what if?" Perhaps it was the haze of Ohio Valley allergens blurring my judgement, but I tackled it again. And rather than trying to heal the wonky, I embraced it (kind of like I'm learning to do with my various body parts that sag unexpectedly and alarmingly).

Here's what it turned into:

Now, why I was previously uncomfortable with asymmetry, particularly in a freeform piece, as a solution to the fugly, I will never know. Perhaps it's greater maturity on my part. Or perhaps this necklace required a lot longer than others to decide what it wanted to be.

But I'm pleased with it. It hangs beautifully, well balanced on the neck. It's feminine but not overly fussy. Pretty, but with an edge. I think I may call it "Late Bloomer" -- what do you think?