This is our first year planting corn, so we weren't sure what to expect - especially since we didn't attempt to hand-pollinate the stalks when the tassels opened. However, I went out the garden this evening to take a peek and counted at least eight small ears growing in our garden. Woo-hoo! Here's the clearest shot I was able to take of one of the bigger ones. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it?
Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the weekend. Have a good one!
I love receiving packages in the mail and this month was no exception - check out the contents of the goody bag I recently received from the good folks at Rings & Things. It's filled with a variety of treasures, such as the cool, metal links in unusual shapes, a sweet and simple copper bail, a bag of blue designer mix beads and some cool Swarovski Crystalized Elements crystal cubes.
I was particularly interested in the cubes, as the colors just happened to complement a boro lampworked bead I recently acquired from Sarah Moran. The bead had been lying around for inspiration to strike, and the goodies from Rings & Things turned out to be the perfect catalyst.
This simple design works for me. The beautiful crystal cubes set off the focal boro bead perfectly - the colors complement the glass nicely and the clean, geometric cube shape contrasts beautifully with the round focal. It is comfortable and easy to wear for the summer (and if you read my previous post, you know I'm now a big fan of tie-back closures).
I'm sure you're going to laugh at me. I just discovered something fantastic - I really love tie-back closures. I know - silly, right?
I've always loved their simplicity and the way this type of closure looks, but, deep in my heart of hearts, I always felt they must not be terribly secure. Last week, I was shopping at our local paper store and one of the clerks was wearing a humongous double-strand necklace with over-sized stone drops - 40mm or over - closed at the back with a simple bow-tie. So, naturally, I accosted her with my questions: "Is it comfortable? Is it secure?" "Sure it is!" she replied.
So, after my year's worth of skepticism, I tried it myself with some heavy ceramic beads - and I love it. Comfy! Secure!
Here's a little summer color to inspire you - beans from our (H's) garden. These were actually picked yesterday, but they are still darn fresh compared to what I find at our local grocers. Meanwhile the tassels on our corn have opened - we did not have time to go out and pollinate by hand, so we are just hoping that we will get a few ears out of it - this is our first attempt to grow corn in the garden.
I hope everyone is having a good weekend. I'm finishing up a project for a book today and reviewing a few contracts - trying to take care of business. Here are your bead and jewelry links for the week. Thanks for visiting!
Here's one of my necklaces appearing in the current issue of Creative Jewelry. I designed the necklace around the clean, geometric piece of turquoise I found at Ayla's Originals, one of my local bead stores. It was pretty much the perfect size to frame my fine silver dragon-heart pendant.
If you're interested - this is actually my submissions photo to the magazine. The magazine photo is much more beautiful, of course, but I think seeing other people's submission photos is sort of interesting, don't you?
Kate McKinnon has posted an update (I find I cannot link directly to the post for some reason - it's one of the July 22, 2009 entries) concerning her metal clay safety project, and I thought I would let you know that it's there (if you are not already following her blog, of course) and briefly weigh in on the issue.
Kate's position on safety - which requires no kiln-firing in classrooms, less (no) sanding, no burnout of styrofoam cores, among other things - has generated certain controversy from the outset. Now, I have never taken a class on metal clay - I have no practical idea how the classes are generally run or what the physical conditions are actually like from best to worst. Also, because I started working with the material at a time when I was otherwise pretty busy raising my infant son, I worked and continue to work in isolation from the metal clay community near where I live - which I think is both a blessing and a curse (but is a topic for another day). However, the bottom line for me is that Kate's information made a practical difference to someone like me, who is completely self-taught from books, at a time when I really needed the information.
As far as I know, I started working with metal clay a few months before Kate first widely starting posting about safety issues, around mid-2007. At the time, I had not yet bought my kiln, was still learning how to control the clay (whom am I kidding - I am still working on this) and was, as a result, sanding excessively and working without any sort of respirator. I didn't have any severe symptoms, but I was experiencing some respiratory irritation (which I did not immediately connect to the clay). After reading Kate's informational posts and the ensuing dialogue with other metal clay artists, I adopted certain changes in the way I work. I bought my kiln, which I store in our detached garage and fire outside, I work with sponges to "finish" bone-dry clay as much as possible and when I do sand (which I still do more than I would like), I work in a well-ventilated area away from the house, wear a mask rated for metalwork and make every attempt to "contain" the resulting dust. The respiratory irritation disappeared, and I feel more confident that my work is not having an adverse impact on my or my family's health (I always worry about the Short One, in this regard).
Now, I have to confess - I have not adopted all of Kate's recommendations wholesale. I definitely still do a few things (like the sanding I do - some of which I'm sure could be eliminated if I could just put my brain to it) of which I'm sure Kate wouldn't approve. Also, from a practical perspective, there's pretty much no way I would have spent the money for a kiln from the outset without experimenting for a while with the significantly less expensive torch (she does not recommend torch-firing). However, I don't believe it's possible to have too much information when it comes to this topic. The important thing for me is that Kate's forthright stance on this issue and insistence on holding a dialogue on the topic with artists who disagree with her findings helped me make a more informed decision on how to continue working with this wonderful material.
Frankly, whether you agree with Kate's findings or not - the fact that she continues to raise the issue is extremely important, especially for people like me who are relatively new to the field and who would otherwise not be focusing on this type of information or not know where to find it. So, if you are also relatively new to metal clay or thinking of working with it or are just looking for more information on the topic, I highly recommend checking out Kate's website or reading the safety section in her excellent book, Structural Metal Clay. What you decide to do, of course, is ultimately up to you, but educating yourself on potential safety issues is well-worth your time. As for me, Kate's recommendations had a very practical effect on the way I work, and I'm definitely happier for the changes I adopted as a result.
Oh, how we suffer for our art around here. If you can call it suffering - I think the Short One was rather delighted to discover he'd managed to turn his posterior nice shades of orange and pink.
We've been playing with chalk this weekend - how about you?
I also finished up my Use the Muse II piece - I'll post photos and commentary after the "Big Reveal". I should have some new jewelry designs to show off this week, touch wood. In the meantime, here are your intriguing links for the week:
Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! Jean discusses finishing up the challenge "Use the Muse II" which was thought up by Scarlett Lanson, Rainbows of Light.com and Artbeads.com. She enjoyed it very much, particularly because it made her think!
The last time I played tag, one of the questions I had to answer was what I would do with $100.00 if I could spend it on anything. I replied, "Books". Well, I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. As a member of the Rings & Things blogging partnership, I was given a $50.00 gift certificate with the opportunity to buy anything from their wide range of lovely products. While I was completely tempted by their Sleeping Beauty and Kingman turquoise, I decided to check out the book section (which I had not previously visited, despite having been a Rings & Things customer for some time) before I made a final decision.
I was completely blown away by the interesting variety of books that the company stocks. Now, I'm not the type of person who snoops through medicine cabinets when I visit other people's houses (honest!), but I always snoop through bookshelves. I am a total bibliophile and love to see and hear about what others are reading. The selection of books that Rings & Things offers is extremely engaging - from recent releases to classic texts, some of which are relatively hard to find elsewhere, covering all aspects of beadmaking and jewelry design. Browsing through the company's book catalog really is just like browsing through the extensive personal library of a bead enthusiast.
I was quite interested to learn how Rings & Things puts together its catalog in this regard, and I recently had the good fortune to correspond with Noryan Baker, Rings & Things' astute buyer for "all things book related". Noryan uses a variety of criteria in choosing new titles to add to the product list, including whether "[t]hey have good example jewelry, they have easy to follow instruction, they use items that are readily available or that we stock, or is possibly a current trend that we think is a good idea. Good pictures/pictures of instructions are always a plus."
Currently, a team of five people of varying jewelry-making backgrounds will select titles, so that "there is little to no bias, [as] every individual has different experience with jewelry making in different areas and work in different parts of our warehouse, and they can offer their opinions based on such. " The result is a nice mix of titles covering everything from basic stringing to beadmaking, from craft business guides to the cultural histories of beads and beyond.
And what did I buy with my $50.00? Well, it was a difficult choice, but in the end I picked up Oscar T. Branson's Indian Jewelry Making, Lois Sherr Dubin's The History of Beads from 30,000B.C. to the Present and Elizabeth Harris's A Bead Primer. I'd heard good things about Indian Jewelry Making (and I happen to be an avid collector of such jewelry, primarily Navajo and some Zuni) but had never come across a copy, so I'm quite excited to add that metalworking book to my library. Likewise, I had been wanting a good book on, well, the history of beads for a while now, but, in my experience, a new copy of Dubin's book can be hard to come by these days. Sure enough - it's quite a fascinating read. I was not previously familiar with A Bead Primer, but it turned out to be a nice, concise pamphlet on various bead types, such as wound, drawn and molded ones.
According to Noryan, the bottom line for Rings & Things is to "try to offer books that have useful and interesting information, that can better an individual's experience or knowledge on the world of beading/jewelry." I think they've succeeded quite magnificently. If you have not already taken a peek at their interesting selection, I highly recommend a visit now by clicking here.
Yes, it is I, the continuing absentee author of this blog. I had the best intentions in the world of composing scintillating beady prose this week and now it's Wednesday and, well, zippo. Sigh.
I do have this lovely strand to show you today. This appeared in my Christmas stocking last year. The mother of a very close friend of mine (both of whom have truly exquisite taste, in my opinion) purchased these at the African Market in Manhattan a while back with the good intention of stringing them - and then never pursued the project. I, lucky person that I am, inherited the strand from her. To be brutally honest (just between you and me), I do not know much about trade beads, but, as the saying goes, I know what I like. I find the combination of colors, textures and patterns here to be very salubrious.
Naturally, it has me chomping at the bit to visit the African Market (which had not yet opened at the time I lived in New York City). Is anyone familiar with the place? I had it on my list of places to visit the last time we were in the city, but we just never made it.
If the stars align and (more to the point), I get my act together, I should have some truly cool books that I obtained from Rings & Things to show you tomorrow. Hope to see you then. Take care.
I fell of the face of the earth this week, and I'm not quite sure why. After several days of playdates, errand-running, and, well, making puppets and holding puppet shows with the Short One (the one on the left is the SO's), I gave up worrying about jewelry design (and my lack of progress thereof), and here we are. The most exciting thing I have to relate is the partially-obscured sign in my dentist's office that I read today during an emergency visit (I have a root canal in my immediate future, alas): Blessed are those who hold lively discussions with the helplessly mute.
I do have PMC components for my Use the Muse II contest piece firing in my kiln right now, though. I'm a little worried that I may have miscalculated the shrinkage rate on these pieces, but in an hour or so I should be put out of my misery one way or the other.
Call me optimistic, but I expect to be back to the usual beady posts this week. In the meantime, here are your intriguing links for the week:
Humblebeads Check out the 2009 Bead Cruise design contest winners!
Art Bead Scene Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge painting for July is the Lascaux Cave Paintings. Get your stash of beads out in ivory, red and brown to match the color palette of these ancient drawings.
Beading Arts Wonderful wonderful wonderful new CopprClay! Cyndi is so excited about this new material that she can't stop playing with it!
Hi there. I hope everyone had a great July 4th. It was a little drizzly where we were, but the Short One still managed to take a fun July 4th train ride at our local festival (barely: like idiots, H. and I took the SO but forgot to take any cash - after spending a half hour to find parking, we discovered we had about $3.00 between us). The SO saw a few fireworks from our house but wasn't terribly interested in them and decided he'd rather go to bed. Next year, maybe.
Above is a necklace I made last year using one of Sarah Moran's beads and one of my fine silver buttons for a clasp. As you may guess, it's called "Firecracker."
Here are you intriguing links for the week:
About.com Jewelry Making Heard about copper clay or coppr clay? Find out more about this great new metal clay product and check out some new metal clay projects too.
Beading Arts Cyndi reports on her experiences with firing and finishing CopprClay pieces. This stuff rocks!
I just received my advance copies of Creative Jewelry, Interweave's big annual publication, in the mail today. I have two necklace and two bracelet projects in this issue. The magazine looks great! I'm particularly pleased with the photos of a bracelet I made with Sarah Moran's lampworked beads. My other projects include, well, my own Dragon Heart pendant and Stop Traffic charms, a mermaid button from Green Girl Studios and a porcelain shell bead by Joan Miller. On newsstands now!
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
- William Butler Yeats
(I've been reading a lot of poetry lately - can you tell? I have this feeling I've posted this poem to the blog before, but I've been thinking about it again, so... The photo is another wedding trip one, also from our first morning in Hawaii.)
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 quick note
Welcome to my blog (my "virtual home") and thanks for visiting. I love to hear from people, so please do feel free to leave comments. I'm also quite open to friendly discussions and even constructive criticism. Please note, however, that I will not approve of any rudeness or profanity here and any comments containing same will be deleted. Thank you!
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.