Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bacon, Shrieking Cats, Snowstorms, and Deciding What's Next

There are lots of great things about doing shows. The chance to meet some really great people. The opportunity to share my jewelry with customers. And since my children are well beyond their toddler years and I am currently between full-time jobs, doing shows is, without a doubt, the best fodder for wacky stories I have in my life right now.  And no matter how bizarre things get at a show, I can keep it in perspective by reminding myself that "it'll make a great story for the blog -- no one will believe this!"

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I did a show in a nearby city. So I get set up and ready for a fantastic weekend, when all of a sudden, I smell bacon.

It was not the cologne worn by enthusiastic art buyers or the aroma of credit cards being swiped fast and often.  There was actually a booth about 100 feet away from me that was selling artisanal country ham and bacon, and dear heaven, they were cooking up samples. You will be proud to know that I limited myself to one sample each day. But it was pretty funny to watch customers walk down the aisle with their noses twitching and a puzzled look on their faces...

Not an actual photo from the show. But now I'm hungry
The music, however, was a completely different experience. Piped in holiday music for eight hours a day. I do not know how store clerks make it through the holiday season, endlessly listening to it, without wanting to slap the living daylights out of someone.

There were 32 repetitions of "Winter Wonderland", about 29 "Jingle Bells", and so many people singing about chestnuts roasting over an open fire, I figured the world supply of chestnuts was depleted for in-home cooking purposes. (I'm not exaggerating too much  -- I actually kept a running tally of the songs played Sunday to amuse myself). Sometime mid-afternoon on Saturday, an aural offense was perpetrated that was so heinous, it nearly had everyone running from the event space with their fingers in their ears. Remember the "Jingle Bells" done with barking dogs?  This horror was similar, only using the meows and moans of cats.

What I imagine the lead "singer" in this particular holiday
nightmare looked like in the recording session.
Good grief, it was terrifying. People looked alarmed. Children wept. Have you ever heard two cats fighting? Yeah, that's a Beethoven symphony compared to what this sounded like.  Thank goodness it did not get played again. Happily, the show was better than the soundtrack!

And this weekend was my last show for the calendar year. A local show, with high-quality work, with an enthusiastic crowd of buyers who eagerly await it each year. It opened at 2 on Friday, and ran all day Saturday. But we woke up on Friday to sleet and ice, which made getting to the venue and unloading the car an adventure.  By 3, the sleet had changed to snow, and this is what it looked like outside the venue.

A lovely volunteer kept trying to shovel the walkway,
but as you see, it got ahead of him.
What you can't tell from the photo is that it was snowing when I took the picture. Heavily. All afternoon. The customers who'd braved the sleet evaporated when it started snowing.  The artists had a lovely time that afternoon visiting with each other, because there certainly weren't any customers (can't blame them!). Saturday, though, dawned clear and cold, and the roads were clear, so we had a strong Day 2.  I spotted someone wearing a necklace she'd purchased from me at the same show eight years ago (!!!), and helped a number of folks cross things off of their gift lists.

This was one of the things that went to a new home on Saturday. Yay!
Now that I have a break from getting ready for shows, I want to hop in on some of those new things I've wanted to explore. Perhaps some soutache. Maybe I'll finally tackle CRAW. Probably not. Then again, haven't done any freeform in a long time.

What's on your list of techniques or projects that you want to tackle next?

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Personal V8 Moment

You know the classic move in the V8 commercials?  The slap on your forehead that accompanies the great enlightenment and insight?

Yeah, I had one of those this weekend.

During slow moments at the show I was doing, I worked on bezeling a couple of donuts from my stash. Peyote is my usual bezel choice, but this time it felt like time to try a right angle weave bezel.

Yes, most of the seed beading world has done these. Yes, I realize that my insecurities about RAW is irrational, and can only be overcome by working through it.  And yes, I have had many previous escapades with the stitch that ended in bug-ugly projects, inappropriate language being thrown around, and frustration.

And you know what?  This time it came together like magic!  I don't know why.  I can't explain it.  Perhaps it was an early holiday miracle.

So I did two.  The photos aren't great, but here they are...

There's no telling what they'll eventually become part of , but I think the smaller one is going to get some spikes...stay tuned!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Therese! - The Reveal

The fabulous Therese of Therese's Treasures is having a birthday, and she's given some of her friends gifts to play with.
Me and the birthday girl!
Let me tell you about my friend Therese.  We met through blogging, and through our conversations discovered that I had known and worked with her brother when I lived in Alabama (small, small world!!).  She is funny, warm hearted, generous, and has an insatiable curiosity that leads her to explore new jewelry techniques.  In addition to always pushing herself to new levels of beadweaving beauty, she's learned PMC and glass fusing.  What next? I predict fencing, competitive baking, and/or writing an award winning novel.
To celebrate her birthday, she dipped into the results of her latest exploration, and sent each challenge participant one of the fused glass cabs she's made.

I got the gorgeous, delicious cobalt blue triangle.  It has small flecks of clear dichroic, which give it a subtle effervescence, like little bubbles of champagne right beneath the surface. Because Therese always explores new ideas in her work, I wanted to figure out a new way to incorporate beadweaving into the bezel surrounding this cab.

Since I'd been playing around with twin beads, I explored ways to use them.

See the little sparkles of dichroic?  Lovely!
A twin bead herringbone strip was the perfect width for the height of the cab, and the unusual shape of the cab allowed me to twist the strip so that part of it laid down around the cab and part of it snugged up on end. And the rest of the necklace?

Since I love cobalt blue so much, I figured there's never too much of a good thing -- I pulled out lots of blue beads in my stash.

The webbed beads are vintage Japanese glass.  The pewter wavy discs have a sparkly finish that echoes the dichro in the cab.  And pearls are classic, perfect to salute a classic lady.

Thanks for letting me celebrate your birthday Therese!  Here are the other partygoers, so go grab a slice of cake and enjoy:

Bobbie yep, you're here!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

MeMaw's Quilt - The Rolling Blog Hop Reveal

A while back, my friend Christine at OneKissCreations invited me to take part in a rolling hop -- she'd send each of us a goodie package with a mystery component and some additional beads, and we could create something to share on our own schedule within a certain time period.  I love Christine's sense of humor, sense of style, and sense of creativity, so of course I said yes.

The package arrived, and, with great ladylike grace and restraint (snort), I ripped it open to discover the mystery component. And my thought process was something like, "Spools! Spools? Hmmm, spools....."

The image that kept coming to me over and over again when I thought of spools was one of my maternal grandmother, who spent a couple of years (or at least it seemed to me, although given a kid's sense of time, it probably was only a several months) making a pair of quilts, which she then gave to me and my sister.

So my creation was going to be a reflection of my grandmother, who we called MeMaw, her style, and her quilt.  Here's a little bit about my MeMaw -- she and my grandfather had a farm, although she also worked in town.  She had gorgeous snow white hair, long legs and a terrific figure (which, sadly, I did not inherit), a great smile, and always took care to dress with flair. She had an incredible strength and spirit.  I so wish my children could have known her.

Anyway, here's MeMaw, and here is a section of the quilt she made for me.

See what I mean about dressing with flair? She's wearing a silk dress and
fab jewelry, even though the infant me might have spit up or done
something else messy at any moment.  The lady had style and guts!
The quilt is queen-sized, and I have yet to find a square that has a duplicated fabric center.

And I'm happy to introduce to you MeMaw's Quilt Necklace.

I decided the best way to capture the idea of the quilt was to wrap the spool in a quilt of beads.  I made a right angle weave base, and added every small bead I could find in my stash to the open squares.  There are gemstones, crystals, Czech glass, and pearls in there -- hopefully a faithful reflection of MeMaw's love of sparkly jewelry.  For the neckstrap, I braided some beautiful sari silk that I had from another swap, AntiquityTraveler's blogoversary hop.  The color was a perfect mimic for the background of the quilt.  I will admit to having had fifteen different kinds of fits trying to figure out a clasp, since the silk wasn't long enough to allow me to loop it over, but I finally came up with one that I was happy with.

I tried really hard to do like MeMaw and not repeat any beads
in the squares, but there are a couple of duplicates.
The Quilt on the quilt

Thanks, Christine, for letting me play along!  And if you're interested in seeing what the others have created (and the results so far are pretty eclectic, kind of like the artists involved), here's a list:
Bobbie (aka MeMaw's granddaughter - you're here)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrating Cynthia's Blogoversary - Time To Reveal The Goodies!

Probably like you, I follow a fair number of blogs, but there are a few that stand out because the spirit and personality of their author truly shine through.  These bloggers show us more than their jewelry, they share their thoughts, their inspirations, their sense of humor, and their lives with their readers in a very special way.

Cynthia Machata of Antiquity Travelers is one of those.  She shares her exotic travel tales and explains how they inspire her jewelry making.  It's like taking a wonderful mini-vacation to read her posts. Wen she invited me to help celebrate her blogoversary with her, I was thrilled to say yes.

Five of us received a custom-made component from Jana at Happy Fish in the Czech Republic (see? One exotic location involved).  Along with that we got some complimentary beads and some sari silk from Darn Good Yarn, a company that employs and economically empowers women in Nepal and India. Another pair of exotic locales.

My beautiful soft denim blue component arrived, and for some reason it made me think of both something from the African continent, and of a figure in a Marc Chagall painting.  I tried mightily to find beads to echo the Chagall idea, but couldn't find anything right.  But what I did find in my stash was some antique Ghanaian brass beads that were a perfect expression of the African inspiration. Here's what came of the pairing:

The focal bail is a simple beadwoven strip made from the seed beads Cynthia included.  I added blue-dyed sponge coral, copper gear shaped discs, some rutilated honey quartz, a chunk of white turquoise, the Ghanaian brass, lovely moonstone rounds that Cynthia also provided, and some beaded beads that also include the seed beads from Cynthia.

Here's a closeup of the non-pendant section:

The only thing I couldn't use was the sari silk, but it will be showing up in another challenge reveal in a few days, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Cynthia, for letting me share in the celebration of the joy you bring to us with your blog! The other participants are below.  Now I'm going to go find a slice of blogoversary cake to eat in honor of Cynthia!

Janet Bocciardi          Honey from the Bee
Christine Altmiller      One Kiss Creations
Bobbie Rafferty          Beadsong (you are here!)
Therese Frank           Therese's Treasures
Alicia Marinache        All the Pretty Things
Cynthia Machata        Antiquity Travelers

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Friends, Monkeys On Unicycles, and Eating My Way Through Town

This past weekend was the second of my three shows this month, and it gave me the chance to go back to Tuscaloosa, AL, where my family lived for over a decade. I was thrilled to be part of the Kentuck Festival, which is a fantastic show, and I was excited to be able to go "home" for a while.

And to start things off right, look who showed up at my booth almost as soon as the show opened --

It's Therese from Therese's Treasures! What fun to see online friends, and what a kick to see her again!  She is, truly, every bit as sweet and encouraging and fun as you'd expect from reading her blog.  If you don't read her blog, get on over there and start following her!  She was a bright spot in an early morning that had started with some passing rain.

Around 11, the showers stopped and the sun started peeking out.  Pay no attention to the water bottle I forgot to hide before taking the booth photo.  Duh.

 Each night I was in town, I ate at one of the restaurants my family used to enjoy when we lived there.  I may or may not have gained five pounds. Do the calories you eat when you're having lots of fun count?

I got to see lots of old friends and neighbors, which was great, and very nostalgic. Even after eight years, it's like the blink of an eye.

"But wait," you're probably thinking, "you said something about a monkey on a unicycle?"  Why yes, I did.  And it was in the booth next to mine, the work of a truly awesome artist who handformed whimsical and weird creatures from steel wire and found objects.  This monkey stopped people dead in their tracks, inspiring laughs, gasps of wonder, and lots of photo ops. The artists were terrific neighbors, and they won a well-deserved merit award.

Seriously, click on the photo to see it in more detail.  Awesome.
No peeing dogs this weekend.  A few mildly hungover patrons on Sunday after Saturday's Alabama football game in town, but they managed to control themselves.  Great sales, great fun, great food, great football, and great friends.  Now I have a couple of days to recuperate and make new stuff to get ready for this weekend's show!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Life In The Forest, Or The 3-Show Month

Things have been a little quiet on the ol' blog recently.  But they haven't been quiet around the workroom!

Over the four weekends of October, I have three shows -- two of them out of town. The first weekend of the month (the only non-show one), I traveled to the Carolinas to visit my folks and hear a recital my sweet husband was playing.  So I'm not particularly well acquainted with my own bed this month, much less with my computer!

Anyway, last weekend was the Kentucky Artisans' Guild of Artists and Craftsmen fall show in Berea.  The weather was glorious, the setting was in a gorgeous forest on the side of a mountain, and the show itself was good.  The picture above was the view out of the back of my booth.  Not a bad way to spend a couple of days!

Of course, no matter how glorious the weather, any outdoor show has its own risks, which I've documented several times on this blog.  Rain?  Wardrobe malfunctions? Bad hair days?  Yep, yep, and yep.

This show was no different, although they were mostly things that make you say "hmmm" instead of things that make you say "yikes!"

Spending a couple of days in the great outdoors means spending a couple of day with the critters whose territory you have invaded.  I spent much time relocating daddy long legs spiders that decided my necklace displays were their favorite new climbing toys.  My tent, being on the side of the mountain, was on a slight slope, which meant that things leaned a little off-center the whole time.  Oddly enough, I'm inherently off-kilter enough that I didn't realize the issue until partway through the first day.

No matter what I may have encountered, the painter across from me had an experience that absolutely takes the award for story of the show.  He had leaned many of his canvases against the poles of his tent for his display.  A dog that apparently lived near the show site was strolling by, and decided to express his admiration of the artist's work by peeing on one of the paintings.  Yes.  Believe me, I kept an eye out for that dog the rest of the weekend!

So now, back to prep for this weekend's show, the wonderful Kentuck Festival.  If you're in Alabama this weekend, come see me!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Casablanca - or, How I Finished Another UFO

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.  Now when it's, say, pecan pie or a Snickers bar, I muddle through.  When it's a beading project, however, sometimes I have to put it aside for awhile until I can screw my courage up enough to tackle it again.

In the last Bead Soup Blog Hop, I took one of those bites, and among the pieces I made was a medallion that was heavily encrusted with bead embroidery, using the delectable soup sent by my fabulous partner Nancy Dale.

It ended up being about 4 1/2" across.  That, my friends, is a lot of embroidering. It was enough to make my husband say "woah!!" when he saw it.  And as much as I loved it, I was burned out on it for a while.  That, and the prospect of stitching the edging on those little cutouts on the interior of the piece was kind of freaking me out.

So the other day I was in the fabric store, and decided to pick up some ultrasuede to back the medallion.  A few hours later, here's what I had:

This is the back view (thank you, Dr. Obvious), so you could see the finishing of the interior openings.  Yep, those are 15's lining each one, and I'll admit it, there was some cursing involved as I worked to slice the holes in the backing and fill those tight little spaces with beads.  Trimmed up and edged on the front, here's the completed medallion:

Okay, so that was done.  Now, how to make it into something wearable.  I had some bead soup left over, so I made a couple of beaded beads.  Because I used the random beads in the bead blend from Nancy, they were a little freeform, and a little funky.  Then I raided my stash for some cool copper beads that also had interior openings that echo the openings in the medallion.  Some cool pinky/coppery freshwater pearls, and a copper toggle I made to work with one of the copper beads as a clasp, and I was done:

Granted, this is not a necklace for a woman who's uncomfortable being noticed.  But it is surprisingly light and completely comfortable to wear. I've called it Casablanca, because it reminds me of someplace exotic and warm, someplace that the desert breezes might mold the sand into serpentine dunes like the lines on the gorgeous JulsBead at the center of the medallion.  Maybe it's something that would be worn by the genie that comes out of the lamp you'd discover on the caravan trail as you cross that desert.

In any event, this has been a grand adventure, and I'm very pleased with the results. Thanks, Nancy, for the fantastic inspiration of your soup!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Creative Spark from ZNet Shows

A few months ago, some members of the design team for ZNet Shows were invited to take part in a challenge -- the theme was Rings and Bling.  If the chance to choose components from their wide inventory to work with wasn't enough, everyone's creations were going to be included in an online publication, Creative Spark.

Needless to say, I jumped (in an enthusiastic if not entirely ladylike way) at the chance.  I scrolled through the website making selections, sketching ideas as I went.

The earrings above are just a taste of what I made.  I got to do some beadweaving, some stringing, and even some wirework.  The necklace below may end up being an early Christmas gift from me to me -- you never know!  I've been a good girl, I swear.  Just trying to help Santa out, you know...

Creative Spark was edited by the multi-talented Hope Smitherman, and she did a fabulous job.  I'm thrilled to be included alongside some of my favorite designers.  Go check out the ringy, blingy eye candy everyone made.  I'm on pages 53 - 59 (got a little carried away with all the yummy components!).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Made Possible By Advil

Y'all, yesterday was one of those days.  What I thought was a mild headache when I woke up turned into something that felt like a small herd of elephants had taken up residence in my skull.

So even though I had planned on spending the day in close and meaningful communication with my beads, I spent it instead piled up on the bed, eagerly awaiting the next dose of Advil.

By the evening, I was able to move both body and head without muttering words that would have made my grandmother blush.  And of course, there's really no better therapy to feel better than to do something you here's what came from my therapeutic beading last night.  Nothing terribly complex, but they made me happy -- I hope they bring a smile to you, too!

Better beading through pharmeceuticals, that's what it was...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Long Weekend In The Workroom

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  I hope you've had a chance to relax a bit, doing whatever makes you happy for a while.

My workroom looks a bit like a bead bin exploded, but that's just a sign that I've been having some fun.  I'd show you a picture of the room, but seriously, I don't know how strong your stomach may be, and I don't want to cause anyone unanticipated visual trauma.

So here's something that I hope will be a little less visually jarring:

The agate donut had been sitting in my UFO pile forever, attached to a piece of backing in prep for a bead embroidery class I was going to teach, um, over eight years ago.  Class didn't happen, and so little donut sat there, forgotten and unloved and unembroidered, for a long time.

She's strung simply, on lustrous mother of pearl rounds, with some rich aventurine fan slices as dangles.

What else is working on the table?  I'll be posting those in the next couple of days!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spotting My Work In The Wild

Hi!  Remember me?  I know it's been a dog's age since I last posted....

For the past two weekends, this has been my home, doing two art fairs.  Both fairs went well -- great crowds, good sales, and good weather (none of the predicted rain on the first weekend, and a good 10 degrees cooler each day the second weekend than it was at the same show last year -- seriously, last year you could see people's brains melting as they trudged through the show grounds....).  All but one of the pieces I blogged about in advance of the first show went to new homes -- hooray!

You better believe I was extra cautious as I passed by the Killer Cicada Tree this year. I managed not to drop food on my clothes.  I did perform a spontaneous interpretive dance otherwise known as the "YEOW, I Put My Glasses On Top Of My Head And Now They're Completely Tangled Up There" jig, closely followed by the "Now My Hair Looks Like A Scary Witch" boogaloo.  In terms of my typical show kerfuffles, both weekends were relatively calm.

I did spot a surprising number of people wearing pieces they'd bought from me at previous shows.  What a cool feeling!  It was kind of like spotting your favorite kind of bird perched in a tree outside your window.

Another cool result from the past two weekends was two new galleries interested in carrying my work, a new show that I might do next month, and a connection with a local company that could lead to some really exciting things. I have a few weeks' break before the next round of shows, but with everything else going on, I'll be spending every waking hour in the bead room.  I know, getting up and saying "I HAVE to make some earrings today" is an incredibly fortunate position to be in.  Excuse me while I go do a happy dance!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And The Fall Show Season Begins!

This week marks the beginning of the fall show season for me.  If you've been around here for a while, you know that this signals the onset of my own brand of slapstick and wackiness -- attacks of cicadas the size of a B-52, meteorological rolls of the dice, unexpected hairdo's, and the chance to meet wonderful new people.

This weekend is the Woodland Art Fair in Lexington KY, which was a terrifically fun show for me last year.  Here are a few of the freshest things from the work table that will be making their debut at the show.

And hey, if you're around, come visit me in Booth 153!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jumping Back In The Pool

It's been a while since I've been able to sit down and create something beady. I've been going a little nuts without the creative outlet, to tell the truth.

Like an athlete (and if you knew my athletic ability, you'd understand why this analogy is absolutely hilarious) who's been out on injured reserve, I figured I'd need to start back in slowly.  So here's a simple necklace with delicious carved flourite rounds and delectable stick pearls. Not technically fancy, but it made me happy enough to choose my work outfit yesterday to go with it.

Look at the carving on the flourite!  And trust me, the stick pearls are
much more lustrous than my photography makes them look.
Heading back to the bead table now -- yippee!  How do you get back into your jewelry making when you've had to take some time away?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fish Are Friends - Blog Hop Reveal

As soon as Karen Williams (who is a rock star, by the way) announced a chance to make some fabulous fish from her tutorial, I jumped at the chance.  I love Karen's instructions, her generosity, and really wanted to do her proud.

Here's the beautiful assortment of beads Karen sent.

This was going to be a challenge, because even though I am a beadweaver, right angle weave is not a go-to stitch for me, and sculptural RAW was new territory.

Apparently, I have been suffering from a several-week long bout of brain spasms (or to use the medical term, brain farts), because despite gorgeous photographs and fabulously detailed instructions, once I got to the construction of the body, I could not wrap my head around it and make my fish look as beautiful as Karen's examples.

I started, and I ripped out, to start again.  And again.  And again.  And finally, I realized that travel plans meant that I had to finish and photograph three days before the deadline, so I buckled down and got it finished.  It ain't pristine, and it's certainly not the entire school of fish that I had hoped to present to Karen, but it's done.  I think she's kinda cute.

So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Wanda, the Wonky Walleye.

"Kiss me, baby!" Don't you love her puckery red lips?

Wanda comes in the hollow (or perhaps in this case, filetted) version, because I couldn't get the stitching to fit the stone.  (Seems the level of stress in one's life translates into the thread tension in one's beadwork...)

She may be wonky, but Wanda has a rocking color sense!

It is, therefore, a testament to Karen's genius that even my congenitally right-angle-weave-challenged self made a cute little fish.  Thanks for the opportunity, Karen -- it really was fun, and as soon as I'm back from travelling, I'm gonna tackle this baby again and whip out Tony the Tasty Trout and Mona the Marvelous Mackerel!

In the meantime, be sure to visit the others who participated in the challenge: