Ugh, I had such great plans to write eloquently about various beady topics this week. I even have a draft post about cool metal clasps that's been languishing for the past two days. Instead, I've been laid up with a bad cold (that I promptly passed on to the Husband who is on vacation at the moment, which means the Short One has been running rings around both of us) and haven't written a darn thing. Moreover, although we regarded the SO, our usual source of infection these days, with great suspicion, he's remained stoutly healthy. Hopefully, he can show off his newly built-up resistance to germs and remain that way.
But never mind all that - on to the reason you are probably visiting today. If you're thinking there are way too many pieces of paper in the SO's red cowboy hat, you are absolutely right. The SO, in a fit of enthusiasm, dumped all of the itty-bitty papers with numbers that we've been using to determine his Pick of the Day into the mix. It made things interesting, but he still managed to pick three names out of the hat. Drumroll, please:
Marym, you have won the SO's "Ace of Hearts" pendant. Congratulations!
Sue of Sue Beads, you have won the SO's super-numeric "Geek Love" pendant. Yay!
Bette Lou, you have won the grand prize, the SO's "Heart Has Its Reasons" necklace. (Uh, I seem to have run out of appropriate interjections...) Woo-hoo!
Winners, please email your address information to me at: strandsofbeads[a]yahoo.com.
Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to enter the SO's big birthday giveaway. I enjoyed reading the comments, and the SO had a great deal of fun with all of the little slips of paper involved. Which are now all over our house.
I think I'm going to go drink my liquids and have a little lie down, now. Take care, all.
We are in the process of painting our current spare bedroom that will metamorphose into the Short One's Big Boy Bedroom sometime this year. We went to Home Depot to select colors this weekend, and the SO scored a few cute paint chips.
When the SO was an infant, the only thing that would keep him calm during a diaper change was a little Baby Mickey rattle that I would have to wave in front of his face while singing "The Mickey Mouse Club" song in a suitably boisterous manner. Although we've broadened our cultural horizons since then ("Sesame Street", "Blue's Clues", "Curious George", etc., etc.), we're still mad about The Mouse in this house. I'm so tempted to have these laminated over a bit of the SO's artwork and use them for a placement. Not really what the manufacturer intended, I'm sure, but we did end up buying that brand of paint, after all.
I actually managed to submit a project proposal to the publishers today, for once. I find, as the SO gets more active, that the time I have to do anything not SO-related is dwindling down to nothing. Still, I should have some new work to show off in the next couple days, so please check back.
Here's the Short One's creation of the week - pineapple upside down cake from our Mommy and Me cooking class. The SO was intrigued by the ring shape of the pineapple (they never come that way at home) but regarded the maraschino cherries with great suspicion. Also, he had a classic moment where he stirred the batter too quickly and ended up covered head to foot in flour. I felt a little bad for him, as the other parents laughed (there's nothing like having a room full of adults laughing at you when you make a mistake, right?), but after getting over the initial shock, he seemed to take the whole thing in stride. He's a good sport. Well, mostly. Sometimes.
Anyway, it's not bad for a first effort, eh? (And I have never made the cake, myself - note the completely off-center plating.) The SO, who is, shall we say, a bit of a finicky eater, actually seemed to enjoy eating it as much as making it.
Thanks to everyone who has entered the SO's birthday giveaway. I love the comments - it's great hearing about your backgrounds! I've managed to visit a few blogs (of those of you who have them), and I will get to the others - it just might take me another day or two. Also, there's still time to enter, if you have not, yet - please go here for more details.
In the meantime, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week:
As you may already know, it's the Short One's birthday, and we are celebrating in a big way. As part of the festivities, in honor of the day, I am giving away a few gifts. First - you may recall this photo from earlier this week - "The Heart Has Its Reasons" necklace. It's not only light and easy to wear, it's infused with good karma (unlike some of my other pieces over which I tend to mutter and tear my hair). Officially approved by the SO himself.
Second, a "Geek Love" pendant - it spells out the word "love" in binary code. Judging by the way the SO glomps onto the computer and gets his hands on every gadget in the house, we think he is on his way to being a techie, just like his Dad. Of course, he can't read this (yet), but he likes saying "1" and "0" over and over (ad nauseum) - close enough for jazz.
Third, a cute "Ace of Hearts" pendant. It's definitely a love-fest in our house, but the fact remains that the SO loves playing with cards. That is, he enjoys shuffling them and throwing them in the air. Still, it's a good start.
In addition, each day for the next week, the Short One will pick a number out of a hat. Any item in my Etsy store (except cords and chain, which are too boring, in my opinion) that corresponds to the number he picks will be 50% off for that day and that day only. I will post the SO's Daily Pick in the upper-right hand corner of the blog for your easy reference. By the way, I don't really have a set time as to when the items will be switched out, just that it will happen once a day.
Okay, to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post. This giveaway is open to blog readers, friends (whom I know sometimes hold back from entering my giveaways) and colleagues alike. If you like the pieces, if you like the SO (and what's not to like - right? Right?!?), please feel free to enter. The three winners (one winner for each piece) will be chosen Thursday, January 29th by the SO himself (he will pick names out of his cowboy hat, per our usual procedure - he's quite good at this now). You must check back with the blog to see if you've won and to claim your prize (instructions on how to claim your prize will also be posted at that time. Prizes that are not claimed within one month of the winner's announcement revert back to me.
Thanks to all of you for continuing to read this blog - it is much appreciated by both me and the SO.
ps. I know that these prizes are all nicely Valentine's Day-themed, as well, but I really can't guarantee that the winners will have their prizes by the day. It all depends on when I receive your contact details!
Here's new work from me, based on the well-known quote from Pascal: le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point. (I realize I need an accent circonflexe above the "i" in connait, but I'm not quite sure how to insert it here, so please take it as given.) I've seen this translated idiomatically a number of ways, but I like a slightly more literal translation: the Heart has its reasons of which Reason knows nothing.
Growing up, I was a big fan of Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time . One of the characters in the book, Mrs. Who, speaks mostly with the aid of famous quotations, and I remember quite clearly that this was one of them.
I believe in it's original context, Pascal was discussing knowledge of the divine, that it is the heart that senses the divine and not reason that knows it. Out of context, I have seen it widely applied to refer to romantic love, and, until the Short One arrived, that was always the sense in which I took it (and, if memory serves, that's the sense in which it's used in A Wrinkle in Time). However, looking at it now, I think it applies pretty well to parental love, too.
In my opinion, having a child results in one of the great paradigm shifts of life. The very second of his or her arrival, one's focus and attention irrevocable changes to the perspective of the little person, who basically takes over the household (at least for a few months/years/possibly decades). Reason and rationality have nothing to do with it - in fact, I'm pretty much convinced by about 5pm these days that I've completely lost my mind, anyway - it's all about the heart.
Anyway, back to the necklace. I was so inspired by this quote that I came up with three separate designs for it. Maybe I'll get around to making up the other two later. However, for now, this version seemed appropriate to express my sentiments on motherhood (about which I've been thinking a lot, as the Short One's birthday approaches). As usual, I made the hefty bar quote from PMC - it is fine silver. The stone is rough cut Sleeping Beauty turquoise which is meant to symbolize the open sky. I've finished the necklace with matte white seed beads and sterling silver chain. It's a simple piece, but I like to think that it's infused with good karma.
There's another reason it's special - I am giving it and other prizes away in honor of the SO's birthday. Please go here for details.
Here's an example of how art manifests itself in our house. Pretty much every framed item has been covered with examples of the Short One's ingenuity. These are two snowmen he made during his Mom's Morning Away program. Cute, eh?
In case you are curious, they're covering an antique map of the Brighton Pavilion, which I purchased before leaving Brighton (where I lived in the early 90s) to commemorate my time there. (Incidentally, if you find yourself along the south coast of England and have never visited the Royal Pavilion, it is well worth it. If you have never seen an image of the Pavilion and/or have never heard of it, I urge you to click on the link which will take you to the official website - I pretty much guarantee that it is not what you are expecting. Wild, no? Residents tend to take it for granted - on seasonable days, my friends and I, like so many others, would lounge on the lawn - but I still get a nostalgic feeling whenever I see the photos.)
As far as the weekly links go, I'm a day late and a dollar short (what does that phrase mean, anyway?). I sincerely apologize for being tardy. Regardless of the day, though, these links remain as intriguing as ever, so you may wish to click on them now:
Art Bead Scene Do you have a book inside you but not sure you could work with an editor? Consider self publishing. Take a look at the lovely results from one beadmaker who did!
About.com Jewelry Making Jazz up a necklace with a unique focal point or add it to a simple chain for an instant necklace. Pendants have lots of possibilities, and Tammy has some projects to get you started making them.
Well, I had a nice surprise today: I received an inquiry about my pony print pendants. Given that I haven't had these pendants listed on Etsy or otherwise advertised them for the past six months, I knew this meant that the February issue of Simply Beads - in which I have two projects, including one using my pony print pendants - must now be available. I haven't yet received my advance copies, so I surfed over to the Simply Beads website this afternoon...and discovered that my pony print pendant earrings have made the cover! This is the first time my finished jewelry (as opposed to beads - my koi and fortune cookie pendants were on the cover of BEADS 2008) has made the cover of a magazine, so I am Very Excited. Thanks to all at Simply Beads magazine - I can't wait to see the issue, which looks to include a great selection of projects by many of the designers I love, including Katie Hacker, Candie Cooper, Rupa Balachandar and Margot Potter. (In fact, I'm trying to sneak a trip to Barnes & Noble in among our errands tomorrow to see if I can hunt down a copy.)
On other fronts, I have been reminded that one of the people in this house has a birthday looming imminently (actually, two people do, but only one of them has been making a big fuss about balloons and cake). Last year, I rabbited on and on about this birthday for almost week until I'm sure anyone who was still reading the blog at that point was sick of it - and, frankly, I'll probably do it again this year. So don't say you weren't warned. However, I'm also going to be holding a nice giveaway, probably starting at the end of this coming week. I came up with a game plan while giving the SO his bath tonight (let's hear it for multitasking) which should work out nicely, if I can get my act together in the next couple days. This is usually a debatable issue, but I will try to make an effort in light of the special occasion.
I looked everywhere for these little guys sometime in July without any success whatsoever, and I finally stumbled across them last month while cleaning out an old jewelry box. They're not really quite seasonal anymore (it not being the time of year where I live to drink cold bottled green tea - in fact, it was -7F with a wind chill of -27 when I took the Short One to his Mom's Morning Away class today, hoo-boy), but I thought, "What the heck." They're still cute, right?
These are little promotional trinkets - there's a specific word for this kind of giveaway, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is - found on, as I mentioned, bottled green tea. I believe the brand is Japanese, but I'm not completely sure, and I don't have a bottle handy to check - you can see a dog and cat holding little replica bottles in the photo.
My husband used to have to go to China periodically on business, and it happened that one of the factories with which he worked also made these cute little guys. H., who knows me all too well, brought back a handful as a gift. I think they were originally supposed to be little cell phone charms (they each came on their own short plastic strap), but I took one look at them and thought "ooooh, charm bracelet", of course. I think these have a lot of cachet for your friendly neighborhood otaku, since, in addition to plates of Western food, the dogs and cats are also holding steamed buns, mochi (red or white bean-filled pastry) and, of course, green tea bottles.
At any rate, I offer them up as a nice twist on the usual Cracker-Jack-toy-turned-found-object-charm. H. gave these to me a few years ago and, obviously, this particular promotion is no longer running. However, you never know when you might find a new one, so if you shop at a local Asian market anyway, you might want to check around for similar giveaways. Asian markets and even your local Japanese restaurant may also have vending machines that dispense these types of trinkets, or Hello Kitty or anime-branded trinkets, for a couple quarters (if you are lucky enough to live near a Mitsuwa market, for example, chances are one of the stores within has plenty of cute components for your jewelry making).
I've been wanting to make a banana split ring for almost two years, longer than I've been working with metal clay at all. (I have a thing for sweets beads, you may recall - I can't explain it. They just make me happy.) Here's my first try - I don't know why it took me so long.
My first ring-making efforts back in the summer of 2007 resulted in a (somewhat unstable) lampworked sundae ring:
Back then, I'd only been making jewelry for a couple months. I didn't know the right adhesive to use and the ring design itself was not structurally sound. But it was definitely a learning experience. From this ring, I went on to various attempts to make a lampworked banana split bead, like this:
but I just never got around to making that banana split ring. Really, there are probably a few things I would change with this ring design the next time, which I may do. Eventually. Still, I think I can live with it for a first effort. It also makes me happy thinking about eating ice cream in WARMER WEATHER. I still eat ice cream in the middle of winter (read my profile), but it's much more enjoyable to tackle a mouth-watering banana split in the summer, to my mind, at least.
In the meantime, back in reality, we're bracing for more snow here this afternoon. Sigh.
Our family had another rite of passage today - the first visit to Chuck E. Cheese's. Truthfully, H. and I had been sort of dreading this, but yesterday we ended up getting hit with a foot of snow and had to cancel all of our fun plans, including a trip to the children's museum. Despite this, the Short One was very good pretty much all day, so we thought we ought to do something nice for him today. In fact, the SO had so much fun at the resturant that we stayed for two hours, and H. and I found the whole experience much more salubrious than we expected (H. had been telling me ominously that statistically more public brawls occur in Chuck E. Cheese's than in any other restaurant - I'm not exactly sure where he dug up this "statistic", but I found it kind of amusing, nonetheless. We did manage to avoid any altercation when we were there, I'm pleased to report).
Oh, and I finished up a ring early this morning (read: 3am) that has been on my to-do list for a mere year and a half. I'm so efficient and timely in my work. I'll have a photo of that one to show off tomorrow. In the meantime, here are your bead and jewelry links for the week:
The Short One and H. are both asleep, and I'm sitting here listening to Ani DiFranco and polishing a load of silver I took out of the kiln earlier today - life is good. I found this video of "Both Hands" through Righteous Babe's (her label) website and thought I'd share. Like most of her work, it's a great song. My friend Anne introduced me to her music in the mid-90s. Anne took me downtown ( when I lived in NYC) to a cramped venue with no chairs packed to the brim with college kids (obviously, this was before the artist became uber-popular). The show started two hours late due to some technical difficulty or other, and it was incredibly irritating. Once she hit the stage, though, I forgot everything and ultimately walked out of the show clutching all three of the albums Ani had, at that time, released.
I just thought I'd show off my most recent acquisition. I found this at a show last month (although I wasn't able to purchase it until last week due to tedious technical difficulties and the intervening holidays). Can anyone guess what this is? Celery stalks? Rhubarb? It's actually chunks of watermelon tourmaline crystal. It's a little difficult to tell from the photo, but the color is a nice celery green on top with underlying tones of pink. The pieces really are the size of thick rhubarb slices. I'd never seen watermelon tourmaline cut like this before (for beads, at least) and decided to forgo the multiple strands of intriguing, less expensive beads I had in my tray to purchase this particular strand, instead. It's such a nice spring color - I'm sure you'll be seeing at least some of these beads in upcoming designs this year.
Given that we've had about three inches of snow fall already with a few more inches expected tonight, I find myself thinking (obsessing) about spring designs. Last year, I really used a lot of peridot, amethyst and rose quartz for to signify the season. This year, I'm thinking more of amazonite, blue opal, and well, watermelon tourmaline (not necessarily all at the same time).
In the meantime, the Short One had a ball wading through the drifts of snow while I shoveled today. When we finally came inside, he peered out the window, pointed to his footprints and said "Look, Mommy - animal tracks!"
Do all of the employees at your local bead store know you by name? Have you already memorized the stock of your favorite on-line bead and jewelry component store? (Or is is just me that gets this obsessed with finding new beads (how embarrassing)? If so, feel free to stop reading.) Are you looking to experience the thrill of the chase, the lure of the hunt all over again? Well, have you considered visiting your local rock shop?
Okay, I'm a little worried that I'm stating the obvious here, but I have a tendency to overlook this option myself, which is weird, given how much stone I tend to use in my designs. Each time I visit my (somewhat) local rock shop I think, "Why don't I come here more often?"
I was actually a bit of a rock hound as a child. When I was a tot, I had a friend whose father was an enthusiast, and he took us on a collecting expedition one weekend. As a result of this, by the time I was 4 (no kidding), I could more or less identify bits of fluorite, quartz, rose quartz, obsidian, amethyst, mica, iron pyrite and galena and owned a small collection of same (which is still somewhere in my folks' garage). Whenever we went on vacation, we always had to visit the local rock shops and/or natural history museum. I eventually turned to other hobbies as I grew older, but I think it's likely that I'm drawn to stone now for jewelry design due to this early interest.
Anyway, I and the family ended up visiting Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop over the holidays and, once again, it was a great trip. Among other things, I picked up a beautiful, small pyritized ammonite and a couple fossilized sea urchins (see above) to add to my collection of treasure from that store (other items include natural, raspberry-colored druzy quartz, slices of amethyst with agate and dendritic quartz). Now, none of these pieces are actually drilled, as I plan to set them in silver at some point or other during the next, oh, decade, but Dave's, like most rock shops I've encountered nowadays, also sells a plentiful amount of interesting drilled stone and strands of stone beads. (For one thing, I drooled over one of the most gorgeous strands of turquoise I have ever seen during this most recent visit, but as it was $300+, it stayed in the store. I hasten to add that not all of the strands were this pricey - I found plenty of modestly priced stone there, too.)
The local rock shop is an interesting venue for the younger members of your family, as well. Of course, if you have a dinosaur enthusiast in the family, it's a great place to find real fossilized dinosaur bone (teeth are popular), fossilized dinosaur eggs, or dinosaur coprolites (fossilized excrement to you and me - particularly popular with a certain age group, I'd imagine. They do make beads from this stuff, too, by the way). The Short One, for his part, came away with a few small pieces of agate. I think we will hencefoth limit the SO to one small polished rock per visit, but he could amass an interesting - and educational - collection pretty quickly.
So if you are looking for a new place to visit for interesting beads and jewelry components and haven't yet investigated your local rock shop or haven't visited for a while, I highly recommend a trip. Chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised.
I have the good fortune to live in an area of the country that is pretty much replete with nice local beading stores. Okay, perhaps this is a slight exaggeration, but there are a good number of them within reasonable driving distance, and I think it safe to say that I have checked out all of them at one time or another. Out of these, I have three I tend to frequent the most, and Chelsea's Beads is one of them. I hope to do a more in-depth profile on the store later, but I will say that this is a friendly, down-to-earth, family-run enterprise. I go there primarily for their nice selection of stone. Also, when I started getting interested in vintage lucite, I knew that Chelsea's would be a great place to check out, as they have quite an extensive collection.
Anyway, if you peer through the store's windows this month, you might see a familiar visage (well, familiar if you've checked out the contributor photos in any of the magazines in which I'm published - I don't think I've ever posted a photo of myself on the blog. Although, come to think of it, I guess I'm doing that right now...). Chelsea's has started a rotating window display for local area designers, and I'm on for January.
Isn't this nice? This display was artfully arranged by Dawn, one of the friendly and helpful folks you will meet at the store. Chelsea's Beads is located on the North Shore of Chicago, in downtown Highland Park (just a block north of the Metra station). If you live in the area and have ever been gripped, for whatever weird reason, with the desire to see any of the stuff I post here up close and personal, a number of pieces will be on display through January (including some of the first necklaces I ever made - I swear, I must have been rolling all of my clay about 8 cards thick back then, the beads are so heavy - terribly embarrassing). And even if you have never been gripped by the insanity (and why would you have been, truthfully), do you really need any other excuse to go bead shopping? I mean, really? (Much of the store's inventory is available on-line, for anyone living in the rest of the country, by the way.)
Thanks for visiting!
ps. Of course, if you do visit the store and see a harried-looking customer chasing a hyperactive little boy in circles while trying to bead shop, that will probably be me, so please do say "hello", as I would love to meet you.
Happy New Year! Did everyone have a nice holiday? We had a great time. In brief, the Short One discovered the joys of sprinkles (see above), perfected his gift-unwrapping skills (the evening we gave his Mom's Morning Away teachers their gifts, he announced cheerfully that "Ms. Sheryl helped me unwrap her gift"), learned about the virtues of a white-bearded man in a red suit who has been known to say "Ho, Ho, Ho" and discovered that he really would prefer to stay home with his new Christmas gift diner set than do, oh, pretty much anything else (as Mom and Dad discovered, in turn, whenever we had to peel him away from it to do such important things as visit the aquarium or the Wonderland Express train exhibit at the Botanic Garden, eat out at the S.O.'s favorite restaurants, etc., etc. - life is tough when you're not the master of your destiny, let me tell you).
I'm sure you will be thrilled to hear that I'm more or less recovered from the festivities at this point and am ready to resume regularly scheduled programming. Tomorrow. (Why do today what can be put off, etc? Can you tell that I didn't make any New Year's resolutions this year?) In the meantime, I thought I should pass along the weekly bead and jewelry links that I completely forgot to even attempt to contribute to this week:
I am an intellectual property lawyer by training and have a background in English Renaissance literature. I love science fiction. I primarily watch Sesame Street these days and find myself humming "Pop Goes the Weasel" at odd moments (guess why). I can happily eat ice cream in the middle of winter when the wind chill is 20 below 0. I have been making beads and designing jewelry since 2007.
2010 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Other Finished Bead Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2010 - Grand Prize, Gold Medal Winner, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Jewelry-Making Contest
2010 - Finalist, Bead Star, Stones, Plastics and Designs with Heart Categories
2009 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay
2009 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Beyond Glass, Handmade Beads and Components
2009 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Arts Awards, Necklace
2009 - Finalist, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist, Bead Star, Pearls
A word about copyright
As indicated in the copyright notice, the contents of this blog are copyright by me. To the extent that instructions to make jewelry, beads, knit items or other instructions are included in this blog, they are free for you to use to make the projects for personal use. They should not be used for commercial purposes, ie, to make items for resale.