Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Beady Holiday

It's been a nutty six months. Seriously crazy. Upheaval at work, family job changes, losses of loved ones, moves - all said, not a lot of time or brain space to be creative in the bead room.

So when I had the day off yesterday for the 4th, I was determined - determined!! - to spend some time at the work table. Rather than jumping into a new project (there's one of those on the horizon, which I'll share in a couple of days), I completed a few simple necklaces that I'd strung up months ago. Several of them were ways to use up some beads that I'd had in my stash forever. Easy peasy, but I needed to make clasps and finish them all off.

This one has faceted carnelian (pretty big - about 12mm), amethyst and sterling. I am obsessed with the luscious richness of these two gemstones together.

This too a little extra planning and fiddling, to figure out how to incorporate the copper filigrees into a knotted necklace. With the rhyolite marquis and green jasper rounds, I'm pleased with the result.

Czech glass beads - clear with white cores swirled with black and gold stringers - paired with faceted clear beads with gold cores and onyx rounds. Nice and long to slip over your head without a clasp.

About as simple as it gets - a dichroic pendant that's been at the back of the bead drawers so long it's probably eligible for a driver's license. Hard to see here, but it's a lovely deep purple with a flash of dichro blue at the top edge. A couple of coordinating beads, chain and a sterling clasp. Done.

Again with the substantially sized beads - this time with gorgeous black fire agate, faceted and nestled into pewter end caps with onyx and glass spacers. It looks so elegant.

One of my favorite gemstones, flourite, kept simple with Bali sterling so that the variety of the gemstone colors is the focus of attention.

Mavis Smith may have been one of the first lampwork artists I ever purchased art beads from. Here's a focal of hers that I've been hoarding for way too long.

Aah, a vacation day, cooking out and fireworks, and some completed UFOs. A good day all around!
So what did you do for the 4th?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The UFO -- Completed!

It's every beader's dirty little secret - that stack of half-finished, reconsidered, abandoned, incomplete, wrongly-turned projects that lie, lonely and unfinished, in the bead room. Our own stash of UFOs - unfinished objects.

Karen Williams, in her wise and encouraging way, brought together a group of beaders to dig into their UFO pile with the mission of finishing one or more of them. Karen's great at giving me a kick in the creative pants, so I had to jump in. Read all the way down, because this one took several turns along the way...

Several years ago, I wanted to build a necklace around a lovely abalone cabochon.

 The original vision was for one side of the necklace to be a Cellini spiral, with the other side a multi-strand collection of pearls. The Cellini spiral turned out great, but I couldn't get the multi-strand part of lay correctly, no matter how many times I tried.

It wasn't ugly, but it certainly wasn't right. In fact, it was so not right, I never took a picture of it. Just took the pearls off and put it aside into the UFO pile.

Until Karen's nudge. There weren't enough of the seed beads I used in the spiral to make a matching side, so that option was off the table. I decided to try the pearl idea again, this time in a braid or other structured format.

But again, it didn't work. This is that version, but this is not the final result of the challenge:

Yeah, again not right. So far from what I had in my imagination.

So what to do? I took a deep breath, picked up a pair of sharp scissors, and cut that spiral in half.


The resulting halves were too short to be a necklace, so I had to finish them off and add a couple of purple jade and sterling silver beads to make a necklace that I could wear without choking. The final version, while not what I had originally imagined, is wearable, satisfying, and most importantly, complete.

Whew! Thanks, Karen, for providing the motivation and the accountability. Now, go check out what some of my beady buddies have finished from their own UFO collection:

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Francie Broadie,  FAB
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz Hart, Treetop Life
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Christi Carter, Sweetpea Path
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

UFO Spotting

They're every beader's dirty little secret.

No, not the piles of beads that occupy every nook, cranny, and closet in the house.

Not the urge to buy every color of the newest shaped bead. That's not a secret. But it does create the issue mentioned above.

The universal problem is the UnFinished Object. The project that started out great and either hit a creative wall, got run over by the time demands of daily life, or just petered out somewhere along the way.

Karen Williams, the creative genius behind Skunk Hill Studios and Baublicious, put together a blog hop specifically to encourage people to finish and share those UFOs that are lurking in their studios. I dithered a bit and missed the sign up for the first one (dithering may lead to some of my UFOs...). But she's doing it again!!

On May 1, we'll reveal how we've completed one (or more) UFOs.  Here's a sneak peek of what I've got in line to finish. If I manage to get it done early enough, I'll work on one of the other three thousand few UFOs I've got laying around.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Loving The Details

If you're looking for the 
Bead Soup Bead Hoarder's Hop reveal, 
go HERE!

One of the things I love most about making jewelry (and one of the things that can be the most frustrating) is how a small change can make a huge difference.

Move this bead from *here* to *there* and a clunky design suddenly looks perfect. Change the color of a seed bead you're using and the design pops.

So, I try to appreciate visual details and figure out how they enhance the things that they decorate. Over the past few days when the weather has warmed up enough to walk outside without turning into a popsicle, I've played hometown tourist, ignoring the stares of those around me when I whip out my camera to take pictures of some of the details I've encountered.

Coming from a meeting in an 1891 building, I found a well-worn doorplate:

In that same building, an intricate tile floor - imagine how much time and care it took to place each mosaic tile! The tiles themselves are less than a half-inch each. Even as a seed beader, this level of intricacy boggles my mind.

And walking home from the train, I noticed two beautiful bronze ornaments on the exterior of another building, this one built around 1930 - the pictures are just details of much larger decorations: 

The building would have looked perfectly fine without them, but I imagine the architect and his team deciding that they needed these extra touches to make their building a truly special addition to the city. And I appreciate the artists' vision and craftsmanship.

So, are you a detail spotter like me? What's one of your favorite discoveries around your town?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bead Hoarders Blog Party - The Reveal!

All beaders have those beads that they just can't let go of, and that they just can't bring themselves to make something with. Beader's block? Fear of not creating something that lives up to the beauty of the bead? Just the dragon-like tendency to amass a collection of shiny things? Whatever it is, we all have those hoarded beads in our collections, just waiting to be pulled out and used.

Lori Anderson to the rescue! She created another one of her legendary bead swaps, but this time the only rule was to send a bead we'd hoarded, along with a story of why it's important to us.

My fabulous partner Kathy Lindemer sent me a gorgeous handmade ceramic donut by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studios. Kathy said she loves Suburban Girl beads because they often have a nautical feel, and the blues and greens that she uses are colors Kathy enjoys using in her jewelry. They are pretty delicious colors, aren't they? Along with the ceramic bead was a lovely length of blue satin cording and a clasp that Kathy made herself.  If you'd like to see the whole package, go here.

How did I know this was a perfect hoarded bead for me? Because it was a perfect match for some seed beads that I'd been transparent green-lined lovelies that I hadn't found the right way to use, until now. They were absolutely the perfect match for the shades of green and blue on the donut.

I wanted to stay pretty minimal with my design, to focus attention on Kathy's bead. A herringbone rope with superduos, miniduos, and tiny crystals, undulating from small to large and back again, echoing the large to small decoration Diana used on the donut. 

A lariat style allows the focal bead to stay front and center, and the fringe has one, two, or three tiny crystals at the ends both to add sparkle and, again, echo the larger/smaller dimples on the donut.

But wait, there's more! I couldn't pass up using Kathy's clasp and that luscious blue cording. Again, a simple design to focus on the lovely components used - this time I used a pendant I made with seed beads and two-holed triangles. Easy peasy, just right for spring (if it ever gets here and stays here!)

Thanks for visiting, and huge thanks to Kathy for sharing such a beautiful bead with me. I hope I did it proud for you.

Now, go treat yourself to the eye candy created by others in this swap party. The full list is HERE. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bead Hoarder Swap - My Partner and What She Sent!

There's nothing like a beading challenge to kick your creative juices into high gear. And considering that over the past year my creative juices have been tucked way, WAY in the back of my brain, I appreciate all the creative kicks in the pants I can get.

So, when Lori Anderson announced a new bead swap blog party, I was ready to jump in. And this time, we were to give our partner a bead we've hoarded for ourselves. What a terrific idea!

And I was so lucky to be paired with Kathy Lindemer of Bay Moon Design. I've admired Kathy's work as part of the ZNetShows design team, and one of her necklaces was just featured on the Art Bead Scene blog.

Many of Kathy's pieces have an element of nature - flowers or plants or animals. Her work exudes a wonderful serenity that I find really appealing:

Yellow and teal floral earrings

Wanna see what she sent me for the swap?  It's yummy!

Kathy sent a beautiful little box, complete with a card she had made (creative lady!). And under the card was a spectacular ceramic bead by Suburban Girl Studios, complemented by a length of delicious blue silk cording and one of Kathy's handcrafted clasps. The ideas are burbling up already!

The box was so cute, decorated with washi tape, that I almost didn't want to mess it up by opening it.

Kathy's handmade card

And the beautiful surprises inside!

Thank you, Kathy! I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Re-imagining A Project

A while back, I played along in one of the A Time To Stitch challenges, and the theme was to bead a bag. I decided to work up a couple of covers for my key card holder to dress up a work necessity.

I took the picture above in order to have it for the challenge deadline, but did end up beading an edging around the outer edge of the piece afterward.

In theory? Great idea. In practice? Not terribly practical.

So I did something that made me very nervous. I cut a piece apart in order to re-imagine it into something else.

It looks a little wonky here - that's the photographer, not the necklace.
I took the scissors to the sodalite piece and reverse engineered it into a necklace. This one lived in my imagination a long time before I got the nerve up to cut it apart.

I'm pretty pleased with the result, and it's still something I can wear to work. It just won't swipe me into locked areas anymore.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Theme and Variations

Crescents and rizos and tilas, oh my!

Image result for gif of wizard of oz lions and tiger and bears

The explosion of shapes in two-holed beads makes me feel a little like Dorothy in Oz - so many new things to explore.

I spent one weekend at a show playing with crescents, quad tiles, triangles and o-rings whenever the crowds were slow. Just a few colors, and just a few patterns, but oh so many different results.  Here are a few:

Theme and variations - lots of variety from a limited palette of materials. That's one of the things I love most about beadweaving.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Silver Lining To Packing The Bead Room

The hardest part of moving into a new home? (I mean, aside from the whole selling the old place and finding the new place. Or remembering your new address. Or driving home only to find you're in the wrong place....)

If you're a beader, it's got to be the whole process of packing up your bead room.  Dear heavens. Talk about getting slapped in the face with your hoarding tendencies!

But then you get to the new place and discover all the treasures you forgot about, including the UFinished Objects that had been stashed at the bottom of the drawer or in the back of the closet. I found a couple that would work up pretty quickly, so here they are, the first completed UFOs of 2017!

First up, some cabochons that I had glued to backing, in order to embroider the into a pair of earrings. They sat on the backing, unfinished, for an embarrassingly long time. When I finally got back to them, one of the purple glass cabochons had cracked, so a matched pair of earrings were out.

So, with the addition of a nice little jade round, the earring and a half became a pendant.

The second UFO was a red jasper cab that I had prepped as an illustration for a class that I taught. About 15 years ago. Yep. It only had the peyote bezel, with no backing or edging.  With the addition of modest fringe (I am SO not a fringe gal) and a necklace of faceted carnelian, faceted glass, and coconut heishi with an antique brass toggle clasp, she's ready to come out of the drawer.

Do you have any UFOs lurking in your bead room? 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Long Hiatus, Killer Trees, and Show Lessons Learned

Hoo boy! If the road to perdition is paved with good intentions, my plans for making regular blog posts over the past seven months has me more than halfway down the road...

Lots has happened over the past few months (sold our house, bought a new place, moved, been asked to step into my former boss' position on an interim basis, took an anniversary trip to Paris), but I'm going to pick up the blogging where I left off -- smack in the middle of summer show season.

Each show has its learning opportunities.  For example, I learned that all the time saved by my neighbor artist when she set up the display of her whimsical bird houses in the open air instead of under a tent was equaled out each morning, when she had to spend quite a while cleaning the bird poop off of her pieces. Lesson One: there is no real shortcut in display setup.

The next show had no advance set up - rather, we were to arrive at 6 am to set up for a 10 am open. It was raining. A lot. And I was alone. I got my tent up enough to shelter the rest of my stuff, unloaded completely, and went off to park the car. I came back to discover that my spot was near a blocked storm drain, so that all the water draining down the street was pooling at the back of of my tent and those near me. God bless the volunteers who tracked down shovels and brooms to clear the dam and keep us from floating away! And thank goodness I had "borrowed" a straw fedora from my husband that morning so that I could stuff my rain-soaked hair up underneath and look (at least in my own mind) cute and stylish despite having been soaked all morning.  Lesson Two: rain + show setup = bring extra shoes and a cute hat.

The after effect of all the rain became obvious as the sun came out and the show opened.  Across the street from my tent, I saw this:

Take a closer look:

See it?

Killer tree!! Killer tree!! Yes, they moved the artist for everyone's safety.

This was a fun show (once I dried out from setup), and a good one. People were engaged with the art, enthusiastic about being there, and willing to buy things that they liked.

My favorite show of the season was held in a park on the shore of Lake Michigan. This was the view out of the front of my tent:

And this was the view out of the rear of my tent:

Not a bad place to spend a weekend! And though there were no Jingly Men, the music was great, the weather was lovely, and I went home with less jewelry than I came with. This was also where I learned Lesson Three: a tent that's near the boat launch will regularly be subjected to diesel or exhaust fumes from the trucks hauling said boats to the aforementioned launch. Nice views sometimes entail health hazards...

So another show season done. More lessons learned, and more fun memories.  Next time, I'll share some of my latest work.