Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I just finished another "treasure box" pendant. This one has a little personal history behind it. The first thing to bear in mind is that my father loves sushi and always has, long before it ever gained the popularity it currently has in the U.S. When I was a child, the only place you could find a Japanese restaurant was in a major metropolitan area. This essentially meant that whenever we went on family vacations (which tended to be in larger cities), we always ate at Japanese restaurants. The second thing to bear in mind is that I hated Japanese restaurants as a child. You couldn't get a decent hamburger or plate of spaghetti at any one of them - just ick, weird-looking food that tasted funny. (In an ironic twist of fate, the Short One's favorite place to eat is our local Japanese restaurant - he'll slurp up soba noodles, munch on vegetable tempura and eat avacado maki any day of the week. But I digress...) There was only one thing I enjoyed about going to a Japanese restaurant and that was the koi pond that almost all of them had at that time. Naturally, my parents encouraged my enthusiasm about the koi, and I always insisted on spending a good amount of time watching them. As an adult, I do not have a koi pond, have never raised koi and hardly ever see them, but I still love to watch them when I do.
I've had a koi pond piece in my sketch book for the past four months, and the store opening finally motivated me to try to make one for the first time. I made the little koi out of polymer clay. The box is filled with hand-tinted resin. As usual, I made the box itself from PMC. I love the way this turned out. In fact, I really want to keep it. This suggests to me that it probably is good enough to go into the store, so that's where you'll see it next.
As an aside, all of this talk of Japanese restaurants made me remember the time I had dinner with my family in the Ginza in Tokyo, back in my 20s. The fish was so fresh that it was swimming around in tanks, literally. After my Dad ordered his sushi, the waiter brought one over to him, flopping around in a basket, for approval, the way a sommelier presents the label of a wine bottle to a patron for approval. When the sushi arrived, the carcass of the fish was draped elegantly around it, in a decorative display. This in itself would not have bothered me so much, had the tail not still been twitching, which it proceeded to do during the whole dinner. I suppose it's only fair to "know" one's food, if one is a meat eater - which I am - but I have to admit that this is one of the reasons I still don't eat sushi.
Thanks for stopping by!
ps I keep forgetting to post this. I've been seen at Art Bead Scene! ABS had an article on skull beads the other day, and mine were among them. If you like skull beads, pop on over here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Here's the new pendant I mentioned last night. I have a tendency to make big, chunky focals, and I wanted to try to create something a little more delicate looking. I'm pleased with the way it came out. This particular setting has shells, freshwater pearls and a piece of coral in it. I strung it temporarily with opal and more freshwater pearls, but I could see this looking good as well on a simple sterling chain. I could also see varying the contents of the box quite a bit, to include other types of "treasure". This design will also be in the shop when it opens, hopefully next week.
There's still a lot to do to set up, but I'm slowly getting there. I intend to open with about 10 pendants and gradually add up different types of stock over the next month to include clasps, earrings, bracelets, maybe one or two of the more lavish necklace designs, maybe rings. Wish me luck... I'm sure I'll need it!!
All right, it's back to work for me. As always, thanks for stopping by!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Well, I've finally moved past Halloween and onto more winter-themed beads. Here are my first batch of snowflakes. I think at least one, possibly two, of these will make it into the shop. I chose a simple, Victorian-era snowflake design. Despite how straightforward it looks, it took me numerous tries to carve the stamp before I had two sizes that I felt I could use. After applying the patina, I polished them to a high sheen. The patina in the recessed areas of the design really makes it pop. I think they will make attractive pendants. I will try to string one of them over the next couple days, to see how it looks.
I also made a little fortune cookie pendant, destined for the shop, and a new bezel design that I hope to fill with resin in the next couple days. So, new work is on the way.
The Short One's costume was a hit at the party yesterday. One enthusiastic grandmother threatened to take him home with her. By the end of the day, the SO had dribbled cracker crumbs and juice down the front of the sweater (more fool me for not bringing a bib - I don't know what I was thinking), but he had a good time. We finally bought all of our Halloween candy yesterday, too, and I'm afraid I may have succumbed to a Kit Kat or two (don't tell the Husband - he thinks the bags are all still unopened in the cupboards).
Thanks for stopping by!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Here it is - I finished it at 5:30am this morning (background art courtesy of the Short One). I like it, but I feel that in my determination to get something practically wearable after Halloween out of it, I sort of short-changed the whole costume aspect of the thing. Well, hopefully, the Short One will be happy with it, anyway. I think it's clear who he's going as for Halloween, no? So, I may be asleep during the party, but at least he has
I'm going to go pass out now...
ps. The SO tends to be faster than the shutter speed of our camera, but I'll try to get a photo of him wearing this for Halloween.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Well, these buttons are fresh from the toaster oven in which I bake polymer clay. Close enough, though. I ended up having time to make the buttons, for which I'm grateful. The more I knit, the more I think this is going to look too much like a regular sweater and too little like a costume. However, the buttons should help. I hope. I had a little panic when I discovered that I didn't have any brown clay or any clay in regular primary colors with which to make brown clay. I ended up using bronze clay and white and black to make the "cookies". The end result is slightly shiny, but I think they'll pass.
I'm just finishing one arm of the sweater right now. I have the other arm, the button band and the crew neck to go. Oh, and finishing the blasted thing (my least favorite part), but since I knit the body in one piece and picked up stitches for the sleeves from the armhole, the finishing shouldn't be too bad. The party isn't until 3:30pm tomorrow, so theoretically, I can work on this during the SO's nap, too. Sigh.
Thanks for all of your kind comments about the Etsy store. I live in fear that no one will buy anything (I'm a glass is half empty type of person), but I figure that if I don't at least try it, I'll never find out. Talk about moving outside one's comfort zone...
All right, back to the sweater. I probably won't be posting again until Monday. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I am falling further and further behind on the Short One's sweater, and I need to finish it tomorrow night, so this post will be quite short.
I collected these wonderful sheep and balls of yarn beads from lampwork artist Lezlie Belanger over the past year. Great, aren't they? I finally have an idea of what to do with at least some of them. I've decided that one set, once the piece is finished, will be going into my Etsy shop. Yep, I've decided to open a store on Etsy. My business license application went through today, and I'm just waiting for certain documentation, so I can register wholesale accounts with a couple vendors. I'm hoping the store, which will start out modestly - I plan on listing ten items, initially - will go live sometime in the next two weeks. I'll keep you posted.
I received good news today. The Kissing Bandit/Charmed Kiss necklace will be in a new book on metal clay that will be published next summer. Calloo, callay! More on this later, too.
Okay, break's over. I'm very sorry for writing such a lame-o post, but I'd really like to get the SO's costume/sweater finished, and finished properly, before his party on Sunday. Wish me luck!
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was originally going to try to wait until I finished this piece before revealing this particular charm, but the way my schedule is shaping up, it may take me longer to finish this than I had hoped. So, here's my latest charm and probably the best magic trick I've ever performed.
Last spring I bought a set of beads from lampwork artist Jena Fulcher from her fabulously colorful Cabana Boy series. Due to the time of year, the set included an Easter bunny bead. Now, although I love Halloween beads, I'm not generally as fond of other holiday beads, including Easter beads. So the bunny has been sitting around in my stash, as I really had no idea what to do with him. For reasons that will be clear once I finish this project, it finally occurred to me that the bead didn't have to be an Easter bunny bead at all. So, with a twist of my, er, clay roller and a wave of the craft knife, I turned him into a magician's bunny. Not bad, eh? I think he looks pretty cute this way.
Ooof, I am up to 7.5 inches on the costume/sweater. I'll be dividing for the armholes pretty soon. I'm hoping to make some theme buttons from polymer clay, but I'm wondering if I'll really have the time. We'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, the Short One and I strolled downtown today to have lunch out and discovered that our town was having it's merchant's trick-or-treat today. I must have missed the notice when it went out. Our town has fun holiday activities and the Halloween ones included a hay ride, pony ride, pumpkin decorating, bouncy castle and a few other older activities that the SO is just, well, too short for, right now. He did go on the pony ride, but he was singularly unimpressed by it, I'm afraid (the pony seemed rather resigned to the whole affair, as well). The SO does not eat candy (yet - I'm sure the days of innocence will be over pretty soon), so we didn't participate in the trick-or-treat, but I think he did enjoy watching all of the big kids running around in costume. (I don't think he realizes yet that his day of being crammed into a monster costume that Mama made is coming yet, or he might not have been quite so sanguine about the whole affair.)
I still can't believe that Halloween is this week. Where did the year go???
Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I spent some time trying to drape this blanket artistically to photograph it, and I failed miserably, so you'll just have to use your imagination. This is one of the two blankets I knit for the Short One before he was born. He spent the first couple months of his life sleeping in it. Now, it's hard to believe he was ever small enough to be wrapped up in it like a little burrito. I knit this from a Debbie Bliss pattern and it was one of the most awfully, stultifyingly boring projects I have ever knit. There's just nothing like knitting a 26" x 28" rectangle in garter stitch with 4ply yarn to really get the blood racing. The edging was fun, but it took almost no time to knit. On the other hand, this has been a stupendously useful article for the Short One. It currently serves as a stroller blanket and door flap for the Short One's little fort where he likes to hide every now and then.
Okay, in hindsight, I should have put this on the poll and let everyone decide, but I have a little follow-up question. Given that melissalee.com is registered and a porn site, how would you feel about my using melissajlee.com instead? Would it be too confusing and lead you to inadvertently visit the porn site? If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know. I realize Strands is the front runner right now, but I thought I'd ask about just using my own name, which would have been my top choice, were it not for the whole porn site issue.
Well, I'm making some headway on the sweater, but the SO is just too interested in my yarn these days and has developed the disturbing habit of wrapping loose strands around his neck. I'm so afraid he's going to go running and choke himself - I ended up having to put the knitting away while he's up. It means I don't have as much knitting time as I thought, so I guess I will be pulling a couple late nights. I'll try to visit Thursday and Friday as usual, but if I miss a day, that'll be why.
By the way, I kept thinking of that old joke this morning, the one where a fortune teller informs her client that she will fall in love with a "short, bald, toothless boy". The woman scoffs, goes on her way, marries a handsome guy, then has, yup - a baby boy who is, of course, small, bald and toothless. Now the SO was never bald - he was a very hairy little dude. In fact, when I asked the Husband what the SO looked like after he was whisked away to be cleaned, weighed, etc., his only comment was "Well, he has a very hairy back". The pediatrician pooh-poohed this initially and told us the hair would drop out, but after several months, she started qualifying her statement with "Well, I can't promise it will drop out...". (It did eventually drop out, and we're all sort of letting bygones be bygones, although, as his Uncle pointed out, it'll probably all come back when he hits puberty. His bushy head of hair never did fall out, though, which we found quite charming.) Uh, where was I? Oh, yes. It just strikes me every day that, no matter how much you think you're prepared to love your child, the reality of it still ends up hitting you like a ton of bricks once he or she has arrived. (Don't tell the SO I said so, though.)
Thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yes, yes, I know - I'm recycling old work. Well, sort of - I took this shot with the light tent tonight. Even with the one full spectrum light not working, I think it came out better than I could have done after dark previously (the best time of day for my to take photos - the Short One loves cameras, even more so because I avoid letting him plant his sticky paws on the camera lens - I try to take all photos while he is sleeping). Anyway, I took this shot because I'm entering another contest. Voting hasn't opened yet, but I'm sure you'll be hearing from me when it does. (Honestly, the fact that you put up with all of this and still read the blog never ceases to amaze me. You are really nice people. And I'm not just saying that to butter you up or anything. Truly.)
Also, I wanted to get the icky aftertaste of that failed cobweb pendant off of the front page of the blog as quickly as possible. (Rachel, thank you for your kind comment. I know you worked quite hard to reach the level of expertise that you currently have with icing - but you still have great talent!!! I can barely write my name legibly these days, my hand shakes so much. I don't know how much room for improvement I have, sigh. I will try the technique again, though - it beats a lot of cutting and soldering...)
I was planning on making beads tonight, but in a moment of distraction, I accidentally cast on the Short One's costume/sweater and ended up spending my bead time working on that. It is exactly 2" long right now (I am knitting it in one piece, so that is both the front and back panels). I'm surrrrre I have plenty of time to finish it before Sunday. Absolutely. No problem. At all.
So, if, contrary to my earlier promise, you don't see new beads for a few days, that'll be why. At least I'm not in denial about the Short One's costume/sweater any more.
By the way, it's occurred to me that I haven't showered you with verse or song lyrics recently. When I was living in England, the Tube was running a series called "Poems on the Underground" or something similar to that. In spaces usually reserved for advertising, the transit folks would post poetry. I traveled up to London quite a bit to do research at the British Library, and I always enjoyed reading the poems. It was really difficult to resist reading them, no matter how late the hour or how tired I was. (New York later adopted a similar program called "Poetry in Motion", but for some reason I never liked their selection of poems as much. Either that, or my job at the time just put me in too poor of a humor to appreciate them during my commute.) One poem in particular always made me and my friend Ingrid (she of the Little Something Wicked bracelet) laugh. I apologize if I'm misquoting, as this is from memory - but it went something like this:
When I am sad and lonely,
When I feel all hope has gone,
When I walk along High Holborn,
I think of you with nothing on.
Thanks for stopping by!
I tried to embed this from YouTube last week and failed completely, so I'm going to try again. Once again, the Husband's
I suppose I've dated myself somewhat with that statement. I remember talking with one of our teenage summer interns a few years ago. You should have seen the look on her face when I explained that not only did the Internet not exist (in the form we know it now, at least), personal computers did not exist for part of my childhood. Yes, I did feel like a caveperson during that conversation. Ah, Pong, I remember it fondly. And the Merlin game. Anyone remember electronic football and Merlin? You know, the one with the jingle: "Where's Merlin, where did he go? Janey's got him playing Tic-Tac-Toe..." I can't believe I remember that.
I sat down last night and finally wrote the pattern for the Short One's costume/sweater. It should be fairly straightforward (although it was interesting to flip through my knitting notebook and check his current dimensions against the last time I made him a sweater, in the spring - they grow so fast). I haven't cast on yet, but I'm still hoping it won't take more than a couple days to finish and won't require a late night mad dash session to finish. Can you tell I'm an inveterate procrastinator?
Many thanks to Monkee Maker for the tip on how to create strike-throughs. I feel so technically savvy, now!
Sorry for the absence of beads in this post. I'll get back on the ball, tomorrow. Really.
Thanks for stopping by!
Monday, October 22, 2007
I'm actually not all that keen to show this to you, as I think it looks pretty terrible, but here's the other version of the cobweb - the one that I think doesn't work. I wanted to try to make an openwork, lacy version of the cobweb with the thought that I could dangle Halloween-themed beads from the "strands". There are several different types of metal clay, including a paste type that you use with a syringe. In a way it's similar to frosting that you apply with a pastry bag (what's the technical term for this? It's slipped my mind, like so much else). I basically attempted to draw this cobweb using the syringe. My hand shook like anything, and I ended up getting little globby bits of PMC everywhere. Then the green clay (ie, clay before it's been fired) was so fragile that it kept breaking off. After a few repairs, I just thought "#@$^%!!" and decided to toss it in the kiln with the rest of the load to get a ballpark idea of how something like this could turn out, it it were actually done well. I kept thinking, where's Fancy Pants when I need her (you may recall from my previous post that she is a cake decorator extraordinaire)? I think Rachel would do an absolutely brillant job making these. Me, not so much, although maybe I could improve a little with practice. Now, don't say I don't reveal all, even the stuff I'd rather not!
As some of you have already noticed, I've put up a poll in the upper right hand corner of the blog. I've been thinking of setting up a real website, and I'm trying to come up with a name for it. As I mention in the poll preface, melissalee.com is already registered and is a porn site, so using my name is out. (While other variations, like using my full name or middle initial are still available, I'm worried about how much traffic would mistakenly go to the porn site, so I've decided to avoid those options.) Anyway, I would greatly appreciate your input regarding a memorable name for the site. So far, it seems folks prefer just leaving it "strands of beads". I guess this would be fine - I actually chose this name ad hoc. I knew I had to start a blog for the Collaboration Exploration and felt that if I didn't do it immediately, I would never actually start one. In retrospect, I wish I had chosen something with a little more, well, zing or panache or something. I mean, to those who voted for it - do you really like it or is it just an issue of being accustomed to the name already? Just curious.
Alternatively, if you don't like any of the names in the poll and have something else to suggest, please feel free to post something. Thanks for taking the time to respond, either way!
I finally remembered to take my ball winder and swift from the Short One's closet, where I've been storing it (there's space in there - his clothes are all so conveniently short still). Now I have this heap of blue yarn sitting in the living room reproachfully, wondering why it's not a monster sweater/costume yet. I suppose I should go wind some of it.
Thanks for stopping by!
Since it's technically Monday, I'm going to go ahead and post this. I stayed up too late stringing it, but I couldn't resist. I like how the PMC web turned out (I have another version of a spider's web that turned out poorly. I'll try to show you that one later this week). I wasn't sure how the linoleum cutter (which is what I use to carve the stamp) would do on thin lines, but it seems to have worked pretty well. The ceramic beads that I added are all by Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio. I didn't know what I was going to do with these beads at the time I bought them from her. She has a little spider bead in the same series - now I wish I'd bought one of them. Perhaps the spider has gone out for a walk? Perhaps the wearer is the spider? Yeah, that's it. I used the black dagger Czech glass to suggest spider legs. I finished the piece with amber, Czech pressed glass leaves and Swarovski crystals.
Given how close Halloween is, this will probably be the last Halloween-themed piece. Yep, it's almost time to buy the Halloween candy for the trick-or-treaters (I typically wait until the last minute to buy the candy to avoid temptation. It's one of the nice things about not working outside of the house right now - my former office used to be replete with holiday sweets from now until the New Year. I'd always gain at least five pounds.) For any overseas visitors who are unaware of the American custom - candy is given out to trick-or-treaters, rather than money. I found the Engish custom intriguing. Of course, I found Guy Fawkes' Day even more intriguing, especially since I lived near Lewes and had the opportunity to see the Pope burned in effigy during the Lewes celebration. More on this later.
Sorry for the short entry, buy I'm barely able to prop my eyelids up at this point. Yawn. (Oh, how funny - I accidentally typed "Yarn" the first time, instead of "Yawn." What does that say about my fiber obsession, I wonder?) Good night.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Here they are finally - Sarah Moran's new bead design, the Rolypoly Donut. I know it's hard to gauge size from this photo, but these are big beads - over an inch in diameter - and they are large-holed. The green one has been poked to create a little bubble in each chamber and the orange one has not. I reallly love these beads, so much so that I've managed to remember to visit Sarah's site when she puts up new work - Thursday night at 8pm (this in itself is difficult, because it's the Short One's bedtime) - for the past two weeks. I just bought a cool blue version of the bead last night. I think they would look fabulous just on a leather cord (I think most of her beads look great that way), but, knowing me, I imagine I'll come up with a more decorative use for them. The green one has a designated purpose but the other two do not. I have to admit, though, it's tempting to get some heavy gauge jump rings and just connect the three of them in one extravagant chain necklace.
In other news, I finally broke down and bought a light tent on eBay the other night. I'd been holding off on it, but it just seems ridiculous, given how much time, effort and moolah I've been spending on making jewelry lately, not to have a way to photograph the pieces effectively. Or, at least, photograph them effectively in theory. In my dreams, my days of slapping necklaces down on the stove range will be over... I'm sure the Short One will approve. In fact, I'm so sure the Short One will approve, I'm planning on setting everything up in our unfinished basement, where he can't get to it easily. Given the Husband's propensity for getting into things (on one of our first dinner dates, he started tapping on the faux marble walls outside the restaurant until he found one that sounded hollow and ripped the whole panel off to reveal a fire extinguisher and related equipment - I nearly died of embarrassment) I don't expect the SO's habit of tinkering will change as he grows older. However, I'm hoping the potential for injury and breakage will abate a little. And if you have older kids and have a different opinion, don't tell me - I don't want to know. La la la la (fingers in ears).
I'm in the initial stages of coming up with a new sculptural design for PMC. I'm hoping it won't take me too long to refine. Hopefully, I'll have something new to show you by Monday. Well, maybe Tuesday. My father is arriving today for a weekend visit, so I may not have much time for beads this weekend.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The Husband found this on one of his geeky, er techie (please, someone show me how to do that cool strike-through thingy) websites that he visits. I have never owned a cat personally, but I imagine that mornings are really like this (more or less - I take into account literary license). Would anyone who co-habits with a feline like to comment? Obviously, it has nothing to do with knitting or beading (apart from a general propensity towards yarn and shiny, dangly things on the part of most cats I have known), but everyone needs a break sometime, right?
I know I promised a pic of Sarah Moran's cool bead(s) (okay, I might have bought more than one of them) several days ago, and I have yet to deliver. I will try to get that done this evening.
Thank you for the kind anniversary wishes. We had a very nice dinner last night at a chi-chi restaurant (a restaurant where we're known, which makes a difference, with the Short One). The SO was not terribly impressed with my petite filet, but he grudgingly ate a little ziti in cheese sauce. He started a nice (but unintelligible) toast which was interrupted by the arrival of the ceremonial anniversary banana creme pie, at which point all thoughts went out of our collective heads (at least the SO's and mine - H doesn't eat sweets). I would say all in all it was a great success.
It's occurred to me finally that it's already the middle of October, and I have yet to start knitting the SO's Monster sweater/Halloween outfit. Thank goodness he's still small enough that the knitting goes pretty fast. I just have to remember to start it over the next day or so. I really do have a memory like a sieve these days. Remind me, someone, will you?
Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Okay, I admit it - I couldn't stay away. I owe an abject apology to Monkee Maker for twitting her about blogging too much after she announced that she would no longer try to update every day. Who knew rabbiting on and on about my mundane life and jewelry (and theoretically knitting) would be so addictive? It's a lot cheaper than therapy. Of course, under this scenario, I should be paying you for reading this. Hmmm.
Anyway, this lovely pendant is by Virginia Miska. I love her ceramic pendants - she has a whole range of very elegant ones. I call the necklace, sadly, Horsefeathers, because the dangling black Czech glass beads I used to finish the piece remind me of feathers. (Whatever happened to creative expletives like "horsefeathers", anyway? So much more colorful than the current range of options for expressing oneself.) The beautiful red accent beads are by Clay River Designs. I finished the piece with two pieces of moss opalite and a simple sterling clasp.
Thanks for stopping by!
ps. I forgot to mention, Virginia very kindly added this necklace to her Designer Gallery - I'm very proud to have it there! Thank you, Virginia!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Husband and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary tomorrow, so I'm going to go ahead and post this now, as I'm not sure whether I'll be able to visit tomorrow or not. I'll be too busy reflecting on the fact that the Husband actually ever popped the question in the first place. Or, as my mother puts it, "You're lucky that you actually found someone willing to put up with you - you're not easy to live with, you know." Yes, indeedy, it's now been some years since then, and we have the Short One and our current state of parental exhaustion to prove it.
In actual fact, "celebrating our wedding anniversary" translates to taking the Short One out for a nice meal. I will be carrying a container full of homemade apple sauce just in case the cuisine doesn't meet the SO's standards but anticipate that a nice time will be had by all (except possibly for the servers that have to clean up after us once we've left, but that's a different story). I must state for the record that, apart from dropping food everywhere, the SO generally has impeccable restaurant manners. He loves going out to eat. The Husband and I are anticipating a nice toast (with apple juice) on his part tomorrow night. We may not understand it, but I'm sure we'll enjoy the sentiment.
Anyway, it seems an appropriate time to unveil the full Kissing Bandit necklace. Ta da! I must admit, this is one of my favorite pieces. I like the way it ended up having kind of an ethnic feel (H. says it looks Indian to him, but I kept thinking about belly dancers as I strung it, for some reason), despite the fact that the colors and subject matter aren't really ethnic at all. In addition to my PMC pieces and Sarah Moran's Smooches button, it contains blue chalcedony, turquoise, rose quartz, freshwater pearls, a glass banana bead, and Czech and quartz glass.
Thanks for stopping by!
To be honest, I didn't have the Judy Garland song in mind when I created this piece (although, irresistibly, I did hum this song and "Rainbow Connection" quite a bit while I was stringing it). The necklace was a result of a couple different influences, one of which won't be evident from the photo. The original concept was trying to turn a child's crayon drawing into a piece of jewelry. In my original sketch, it had a rainbow, sun, bird, clouds and a little house for a pendant. Ultimately, I thought the house would look clunky, so I ended up changing it to a simple heart pendant. I kept all of the other elements.
The other influence was a locket that my mother wore when I was a child. It had my photo in it, and she never took it off, as far as I remember. Once the Short One was born - her only grandchild - she dug the locket out of her jewelry box, added his photo to the other side, and started wearing it again. Now, I'm often caught with my pants down when friends ask to see a photo of the Short One. Like many people these days, we only have digital cameras, we don't keep many hard copies of photos, and I, unlike the Husband, don't have an up-to-date cell phone with a camera. So, I thought it would be nice to incorporate the SO's photo into a piece of jewelry. I didn't want a locket, but I still wanted it to be discreet. As a result, I designed the pendant to be double-sided - on one side it has a simple heart that I made using a rubber block and a linoleum cutter and on the other it has a shallow bezel setting for a small photograph. And, of course, cheesily, the pendant is designed to lie close to the heart of the wearer.
Coincidentally, I had recently ordered blue bird and nest beads from Maria Grimes, and I thought they complemented the necklace nicely (and worked well in connection with the "Over the Rainbow" song, although, again, that wasn't my original intent). The nest bead is very nice in that Maria made it two-sided, with eggs on both sides, so it's "right way up" regardless of whether you are looking at the photo or the heart. I've only managed to nab beads from Maria twice (her beads go fast) and both times they ended up being perfect for my project - I think it's destiny, Maria!! Thank you! The rest of the piece is made from Czech glass.
This necklace still has a few problems - it became clear to me as I was stringing this that I did not design the toggle clasp correctly for the strands of the "rainbow" to lie nicely. That will have to be changed eventually. For the moment, though, I'm probably going to go ahead and wear it the way it is for a while. The SO hasn't seen it yet, but I feel pretty confident that he'll find it tugworthy (his stamp of approval).
I know I promised a photo of Sarah Moran's bead today, but it's been so long since I've had a full finished piece to show you that I thought I'd defer Sarah's bead until tomorrow. It's really a gorgeous bead - I'll show it to you soon!
Thanks for stopping by!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Hi, there! So, here's the new prototype pendant, as promised. I have had this wacky idea of making a firecracker necklace, so I've been fooling around with fine silver wire in my designs - something that can be beaded to resemble fireworks (well, I'm trying to make them resemble fireworks - you can tell me if you think this is actually working or not). The only problem with the prototype is - I'm using 20 gauge wire. Even after firing, it's still quite flexible. This is either an acceptably fragile piece or it's technically flawed, and I can't decide which right now. I'm wondering how much I could harden the metal by putting it in a tumbler with steel shot. Does anyone have any opinion on this?
BeadStyle has accepted the final piece from me for publication next July, so I no longer feel pressured to finish this piece on a deadline. Still, if I can work out the issues with the wire, I think it could look kind of neat-o. Also, I think it would make an over-the-top ring, although perhaps not so practical.
I beat out other buyers at Sarah Moran's Superstars bead sale last Thursday (which is not easy - you basically have to have an email all prepared to send, before the sale starts, just in case there's something during the sale that you would like to purchase. I always think of it as a Superstar Stampede...). I purchased the most amazing large-hole lampworked bead. It arrived today, and it is completely gorgeous. I'll post a photo tomorrow.
Thanks for all of the well-wishing comments, by the way. The Short One is definitely on the mend, and I've reached that irritating hacking cough stage which means I should be over my cold too, soon. The husband and I are still getting used to the sheer number of colds we've had in the house this year, but I guess that's life with the S.O., and we'd better get used to it!
Thanks for stopping by!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Today, I'm making a little detour from my usual bead/knitting mandate for a shameless plug about cupcakes. (Yum. I can't think of a tastier detour.)
I met Rachel Place, aka Fancy Pants, through the community at Art Bead Scene earlier this year. We have similar tastes in lampworked beads, and we both have young kids, so we got to talking on email, and she's been a great cohort in the strange - but infinitely attractive, of course - beading adventure in which we've both been engaged. She is a talented lampworker in her own right - she owns the Etsy store Fancy Pants Beads - but she also is an extremely talented cake maker and decorator. She's recently launched a new venture called Sugar Toppers. As you can see in the photos above, sugar toppers are decorative little discs made of fondant that are intended to adorn plain frosted cupcakes. By using Rachel's sugar toppers, you can create little works of art for your next party with pretty much no effort at all (on your end, at least). Let me say that again. As someone with years of children's birthday parties and other children's parties ahead of me still, I really like the "no effort at all" part of the sugar toppers. As I'm sure you can tell yourself, Rachel has a great eye for color and design. Her Etsy store has recently gone live - please visit her, here. To learn more about her Sugar Toppers, please visit her blog. Oh, and for anyone inclined to sweets beads the way I am, she makes the most divine cake and cupcake beads. I'm not sure that she has any for sale in her bead store at the moment, but you could always drop her a line - I'm sure she'd be happy to tell you about them!
Thanks for stopping by! The way things are right now, I should have new beads to show you tomorrow.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Here's another little project I did with polymer clay a few years ago. If I recall correctly, this was similar to a project that Donna Kato demonstrated on a Carol Duvall show. It's a little unusual for me, as I hardly ever follow someone else's patterns (I'm too impatient), but I really liked the Japanese feel to this piece. Hmm, I just looked for this on the HGTV website, and I couldn't find the project. There's a similar one on Donna Kato's website, though, if you're interested. Her instructions are pretty clear (in fact, I recommend her book, for anyone interested in starting to work with polymer clay - it's the only instruction book I ever bought for this medium) and she covers a lot of basic but interesting techniques.
I also noticed at the HGTV website that at least parts of Carol Duvall's show appear to be available for viewing on-line. Calloo, callay! Not that I have time to watch it, but I do tend to like the polymer clay projects she profiles on her show.
My cold is proceeding apace. I just feel so drained of energy. I mean, I usually feel that way by the time the Short One heads to bed, but today I feel that way right now, in the middle of the day. I know this is not a good thing to be doing when one is sick, but I feel the need for a little caffeine. Hmm, maybe I can have a glass of orange juice then some coffee? What do you think? Will they cancel each other out?
I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday!
ps. I just found the link to the Donna Kato project on which this pendant is based. Go here to view.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The Short One has always been a little manly man. He never liked kissing very much. At most he will tolerate kisses on the cheek or forehead. Occasionally, if accompanied by interesting facial expressions and noises, he will find a kiss on the lips funny, but that's been about it. More often, he will try to avoid them. Every time we visit the pediatrician, the nurse (who has a grandson about his age) asks me if the S.O. has started kissing and hugging his stuffed toys, and I have to reply, "Nope. Head butts." Even when he was an infant, he much preferred little head butts to kissing (and I don't mean head banging - he was never one to head bang, thank goodness). He has a large stuffed donkey that my cousin gave him - he will go up and give the donkey (it's still bigger than he is) a nice firm head butt on the forehead by way of greeting.
So, you can imagine my surprise, when, during a rousing session of watching Sesame Street the other day, he crawled in my lap and started pressing his lips to my forehead. I was so accustomed to not receiving kisses that it took me a moment to figure out what he was doing. After four of five times, the penny dropped, and I exclaimed "Are you giving me a kiss?!?", at which point I received a cute little smooch on the lips. I was so happy, I must confess that I sniffled a little. (I try not to give the S.O. any further ammunition with which to try to wrap me around his wee fingers - he's already mastered the tactical use of the engaging smile - but it was impossible this time.) The S.O. has declined to kiss Mom or Dad again after that incident, but I notice that he's been going around giving generous smackers to the donkey and the rest of his stuffed animals.
(Just between you and me, I think we have a Kissing Bandit in the house, now. It's terribly exciting!)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
So, anyway, here's the haul from the show this past weekend. I may have mentioned, I tend to get pretty distracted when I attend these things. In order to stay focused, and because my memory is really like a sieve these days, I wrote down the names of the five projects I'm working on right now on a slip of paper before entering the show. Every time I felt my eyes glaze over and started muttering "Oooooh, shiny!", I took out the paper and peered at it. It worked, sort of. Everything here is designated for a specific piece, except for the aventurine (the blue discs). They were on close-out, and I couldn't resist.
The white leaves and pearls are for a new winter design that I intend to use with the "Noli Me Tangere" donut. I'm waiting for a few findings to arrive in the mail, but I hope to get started on that this week. The violet Czech glass, will go into the "Charmed Kisses" piece from yesterday. The big banana glass beads are destined for a new work called "Here Be Dragons". The faceted red jasper - well, I'm not going to tell you exactly what I intend to do with it, but I will say that some of the beads will go into the next giveaway prize. Incidentally, I'm already up to 75 posts - I guess that's what happens when one tends to numerous shorter posts - so it look as if the 100th post giveaway could happen in early November.
So far, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding my cold. It's a sad fact that the Husband gets over these things within 4-5 days, but my colds tend to build up to a crescendo and last anywhere from 2-5 weeks. On top of that, the Short One woke up congested this morning, too, so we've been just sitting around the house today with our noses dribbling (such an attractive picture, I know). The temperature around here dropped from the 80s (F) to the 50s today, too - I guess there's no getting around the fact that winter is coming. Sigh.
On the other hand, I have really no excuse to continue procrastinating over the winter knitting! Vicious Chicken, I am intending to add my name to your knitting speed survey! I even have a project in mind - I just have to wind the yarn and actually cast on the blasted thing. Knowing me, I'll post at 2am early Friday, but I do intend to get it done. So, with a grim look if determination, I'm off to dig out my ball winder...
Thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Combine these PMC charms and clasp and Sarah Moran's Smooches button and what do you get? Yep, new work. Finally. This is what I took out of the kiln this afternoon (after, you know, brushing, burnishing, dipping and polishing). I'm particularly happy with the way the heart-and-arrow toggle clasp came out. I was originally going to make three dimensional box beads for the letters, but I liked the play on words "charmed kisses" or "charming kisses", so I ended up just making simple silver charms, instead. Hopefully, it will work, once it's all strung together. It feels good to be finishing up another piece. Lately, it seems that I just haven't had enough time to spend working on PMC and lampworking. (You'll have to imagine me shaking my fist here and saying something pedantic, like "Damn you, Life, how dare you get in my way?")(...Erm, on second thought, don't.)
Having said that, of course, I did have enough time to visit the bead show on Sunday and throw myself recklessly in the way of temptation. This is a bi-annual show that's held by our local art center. It's small, but it usually has a good selection of vendors and artists in attendance. Plus, it supports the local art center which is always a good thing (I have only altruistic motives when I go, of course).
I did run into a bit of a puzzle this time - half of the exhibitors, when they said hello to me, started cocking their heads to one side, sort of like the way a parakeet does when it says "Polly wants a cracker, squawk" (or whatever - does any bird actually say this? Such a cliche). Various wild scenarios ran through my fertile imagination, to account for this odd behavior. After rejecting a number of them, I finally encountered an exhibitor who commented that she'd never seen a fortune cookie fortune used like that before. I like to test-drive my new pieces at bead shows to see what, if any, reaction I get - and, of course, I was wearing my "Good Fortune" necklace with the sideways dangling fortune cookie fortune focal. Yep, it turns out that everyone was just trying to read the fortune on the necklace. On the whole, I interpret this as a good sign for the necklace, although maybe it just demonstrates how peculiarly irresistible those little fortunes are. Or (although I hate to admit it), maybe they were all thinking that if anyone were eccentric enough to actually wear one around her neck, it must be unusually profound? Not that it's bothering me or anything.
Anyway, I know I promised a photo of my haul from the show today, but I'm afraid I'm coming down with a cold (caught from the Husband, undoubtedly), so I'm going to try to finish up my chores for the night and toddle off to bed. I'll have the photo tomorrow (I know you are all waiting with bated breath for this one).
Thanks for stopping by!
A really quick post for now and, hopefully, a longer one tonight. I did want to show you the Something Wicked bracelet that Pam Millis put together with my double skull charm. She did a great job, don't you think? (I also like the fact that she took the photo of the piece on - yup! - her stove range!) Thanks so much, Pam!
Okay, I've got PMC in the kiln, lunch in the oven and the Short One's laundry in the washing machine - I have to dash and try to take care of it all before the S.O wakes up from his nap. More later!
Monday, October 8, 2007
With the change in seasons, I've been trying to straighten out our closets a touch (actually, they need more than "straightening" - shoveling out is more like it). I came across a few pieces I made BSO ("Before Short One"), including my first felted and beaded purse. We lived in a condo BSO, in a town where HGTV ("Home and Garden Television" for overseas readers) was part of our basic cable package, and I used to enjoy watching all of the craft-y shows like Carole Duvall. This was back before I even entertained the idea of making glass beads or working with PMC. I always admired Donna Kato's work with polymer clay, and that medium seemed a little more accessible at home. So, I waited for one of those 30% off coupons that Michael's has from time to time and bought a pasta machine, tissue blade, acrylic roller and a bunch of polymer clay and started fiddling with around with them. I was only able to work with the clay for a couple months before I became pregnant, at which time I suspended working with it. However, I did manage to make a few things during those 2-3 months, including this little bag. I think this is the only project I've completed that combines my knitting with my beadwork. The bag was one of my first felting projects - we had public washing machines in the condo, and it was always a bit of a nuisance to reserve one of the two machines for felting (of course, now that I have my own washing machine, I haven't made a single felted object - the Husband comments on this ironically from time to time). Anyway, as you can tell, I didn't calculate the shrinkage factors correctly, and the flap turned out too short. With the little button closures, it worked pretty well, however, and the buttons and strap gave me a chance to use my first polymer beads in a project. As you can tell, these are all made from pretty simple canes - the one thing my short time working with polymer taught me is to appreciate the complex cane work of bead artists like Heather Powers - but I liked the bright colors of the clay, and I wanted a "candy-like" feel to the strap.
I'd really like to get back to working with polymer clay one day. Right now my tools are sitting in an unmarked box in the black abyss that is our basement. Sadly, we lost HGTV when we moved, so no more Carole Duvall and no more "Urban Gardener" (one of the Husband's favorite shows). In the meantime, here's a photo of the bag I made.
Oh, and the bead show was very nice - I bought way too much, as usual, but this time at least, it's all stuff that I particularly wanted for the 5 or so projects that I'm working on right now. I'll try to post pics of the haul tomorrow.
Thanks for stopping by!
Saturday, October 6, 2007
My Hato cards arrived in the mail today, and I'm afraid I couldn't wait until Monday - I wanted to show a few to you right now! Hato are traditional Korean cards. A deck has 12 suits of four cards - each suit represents a different month of the year. The general goal of the card game is to acquire as many complete suits as possible (this is a bit of an oversimplification, but more of less correct). Anyway, the cards are beautifully illustrated - the highest value cards have the most complex designs. The cards in the photo above are examples of high value cards. I grew up playing a simple version of this game with my mother, and I have a sentimental attachment to it, as a result. The cards are much smaller (and heavier) than Western playing cards, and I think they will be suitable for pendants, etc. Anyway, that's where I'm heading with all of this, although, of course, I have had a nice deck in my possession for a while now that I don't intend to touch, as I still enjoy playing the game (when I can find a partner - Mom, when are you visiting next?).
If you are interested in learning how to play with Hato cards, Randy L. Pearson has actually created shareware and on-line versions of the game. Please go here to check it out.
As for me, well, remember that bead show that I was supposed to be skipping to avoid temptation? Erm, well, it's tomorrow... I can't help it - I'm just a weak-willed woman. (Plus, I've been de-stashing on eBay, so I have a little more bead money - rationalize, rationalize). Anyway, it's a small, local one, so how much damage could I do really? Right? Right??
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Friday, October 5, 2007
These are Smooches buttons by Sarah Moran. I'm working on a little "kiss and tell" piece using one of these buttons. She makes Smooches beads, too, but a button will work better for what I have in mind - plus, buttons are what I have in my stash!
The Short One has been generating crumbs and general little debris in epic proportions lately, so I finally gave in and bought one of those little manual sweepers that restaurants use for, well, Short Ones and other messy eaters. It works fairly well - the only thing is that the S.O. thinks it's a new push toy. I feel a little conflicted about this. On the one hand, the Husband and I seriously considered attaching little dusters to his onesie in the days when he was crawling around, so he could multitask and sweep the floors while he played (nothing like getting them started young, I always say). So the fact that he actually wants to push a sweeper around the floor like a push toy seems quite efficient to me. On the other hand, he never seems to want to sweep the areas with the crumbs, so we end up squabbling over the sweeper in true playground fashion ("It's mine! " "No, it's mine!", etc. Hard to believe one of us is supposedly mature enough to be a parent, eh?). Ultimately, I suppose there's no harm in it, although I have caught him once or twice trying to dismantle the unit.
As you can probably tell by how even-more-boring-than-usual the blog entries have been this week, I've been a little preoccupied. The Husband has been traveling (he's due home in a few hours, calloo, callay) and everything seems much busier at home for Some Reason (read: SO might have something to do with it). Also, I've been trying to finish up another project for publication. I have such loose lips, it's hard from me not to show you everything right away, but I feel I need to restrain myself, at least until the the mag decides whether it wants the piece or not. Given that I still feel like more of an amateur hobbyist than anything else still, it's hard for me to start thinking more "professionally", but I guess I had better shape up and start learning the ropes. At least, I hope that will continue to be necessary!
Have a great weekend! I may be back for a short post over the weekend. Otherwise, I'll see you on Monday.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I have to say up front - this is not a necklace I made myself. My mother gave this to me as a gift when I was about 12 years old. Isn't it great? It has everything from red and black licorice, to Andie's Candies and chocolate Kisses in it. (Also, note the teeth with little filled cavities.) The Short One likes to rummage around in my closet, and he pulled this out today, so I thought I'd show it to you. I think these are the first artist's beads that I ever owned. I wish I knew who the artist was, though - any literature we ever had on the piece is long gone. I remember that my Mom bought this in a gallery in a shopping center in Indiana. That's really it. I also still can't quite figure out what material it was made from. You would think Sculpey or something similar, but the beads are not quite heavy enough for it to be that clay. Anyway, as you already know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I love sweets beads and I love colorful things, and this piece has both! I'm really fond of it.
I don't know about you, but I have had trouble getting on Blogger all day long. I wonder what happened? I've been working on yet another new piece - I was reading one of the Short One's books (the Short One really doesn't sit still long enough for me to actually read a book like that to him) the other day and the idea came to me. The necklace will be based on the phrase "Here be dragons".
I also received the first contract in the mail from BeadStyle, which is very exciting - it makes the publication all that more real to me. The first necklace will be coming out very soon, in the January issue. I'll let you know when it's available.
Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Okay, I lied. I do have a little something to show you - it's just not much. I was going to make you guess what these are supposed to be, but I thought it would be cruel and unusual and that you'd be too embarrassed to point out how downright childishly crude these are. They're supposed to be the equivalent of a child's rendered drawing of clouds. Needless to say, they're prototypes.
Oh, and I've been plotting new works today while I played with the Short One. Is anyone familiar with Hanafuda or Minhato? The one is Japanese and the other Korean - they're card games based on a deck of flowered suits. I grew up with them - my mother has a beautiful set. I just managed to find a nice-looking set (with the qualification that all of the modern sets have that mass-produced feel to them which Mom's do not) on Amazon, and once they get here I have plans of - yep - setting them in PMC. I'll show you photos of the cards once I have them. The designs on the cards really are quite attractive.
Anyway, I'm going now. Really. Have a good night.
I don't have anything new to share today, so I thought I'd post an older piece. I made this necklace to commemorate the Short One's 1st birthday. The sterling tag, which was made by Shannon Westmeyer (this pre-dates my working with PMC), has the Short One's name and birth date on it. I had mentioned to Lezlie Belanger that I had been looking for a special set for a birthday necklace. Within a week she created a special bead set with a baby bear in party hat, a slice of cake, a "1", several other party hats and presents for me. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I added some of her cupcakes and ice cream beads to finish the piece. I love Lezlie's work. This necklace was a real splurge for me, given the sheer number of sculptural lampworked beads I used in it. However, I still think it captures the feel of a young child's birthday. (Why, you ask, do I get a nice commemorative necklace when it's the Short One's birthday? Well, that's another issue!)
Thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Well, this is still a bit of a cheat, because I knit this several months ago, but here it is - the Short One's Halloween costume for this year (at least part of it). I bought this yarn intending to make him a little watch cap similar to what Daddy wears, but when it came, the color was so irresistible that I couldn't, well, resist. Anyway, I'm a little more wary these days about fancy costumes that the Short One will wear all of three times and then discard, so I have a cunning plan... In theory, at least, I will simply knit a plain stockinette stitch sweater and maybe a pair of mittens in the same blue color. I think it will go well enough as a costume, as long as he has the hat on. Then, for the rest of the winter it will, theoretically, turn into an everyday sweater. That's the plan, at least.
Well, the results are out for the Stringing Design Challenge, and I sadly did not earn placement in the magazine. Please go here to see the first place winner and Editor's Pick. Thanks again to everyone who voted for me! Erm, I am intending to try again - this quarter's challenge theme is "Double Trouble", so I'm sure you'll hear more from me about this later, hopefully in tones that are not too heckling.
Ooh, calloo, callay - this month's Art Bead Scene challenge is "Gothic Queen". And I swore that the cursed necklace would be my last skull necklace of the season. (Of course, I've already made so many pieces that qualify that I already have five entries for the contest.) I may have to make, well, one more skull-y piece... Go here to view the current entries.
Thanks for stopping by!
Monday, October 1, 2007
It never fails - the end of the month comes and at 9:30pm I decide that it would be perfectly feasible to design and string just one more piece for the Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge. Yep. Here it is - not bad, eh? The silver focal bead is by Anne Choi. The quote is from "All's Well That Ends Well": Simply the thing I am shall make me live. The pear and coordinating green accent beads are by Melanie Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio. I chose a pear, not for any particular symbolism, but simply because the fruit theme and fresh green color seemed very positive and life affirming. Light green and violet is one of my favorite color combinations, so I decided to combine the ceramic beads with amethyst. I finished the piece with sterling flowers and spacers, violet and purple seed beads, olive green Swarovski crystals and a slightly floral-themed toggle clasp. I ended up finishing the piece at 10:52, raced around like a madwoman and took a truly awful photo and uploaded it to Art Bead Scene at 10:58 (11:58pm Eastern time - I'm never quite sure which time zone to apply for them). No sweat.
I keep meaning to show you the Short One's Halloween costume hat, but inevitably I forget to get it out of his closet before he goes to sleep. Maybe tomorrow. Can you believe it's October already? Of course, the stores around here already have Christmas displays up - it's truly annoying. Whatever happened to waiting until after Halloween, much less after Thanksgiving, to start selling Christmas?
Thanks for stopping by!