Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Belated Anniversary

Okay, so this is truly embarrassing. For some reason, I have been convinced that I started this blog on July 31, 2007. I just checked, however, and it seems that my first entry was actually July 30, 2007 - so, I missed my own blog anniversary! (Puts head under pillow and mutters for 30 seconds.) At any rate, though, whether yesterday or today, the sentiment is the same. I've been doing this for a year - the blog has gone through its drooling, spitting up (so to speak), rolling over and crawling stages and should by now be tottering around unsteadily on its feet. And possibly saying "Mama" at odd hours of the night and day.

Just between you and me, for several years I never really "got" blogging. What was the attraction of reading about the daily life of a complete stranger? When you sit down to think about it, it is a bit of an odd phenomenon. However, one day, when I had a bit of time on my hands, I surfed over to the Yarn Harlot's blog, which had been recommended to me by some knitting friends. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life, at least not in front of the computer. So, I started lurking on a bunch of knitting blogs (I was just on the cusp of turning into a bead fanatic back then but had not yet fallen).

After I started collecting art beads, I began visiting bead blog sites, such as Melanie Lukacs' excellent blog (I believe I pulled the blog address from one of her business cards, originally, after making a purchase from her). I stumbled upon the new Art Bead Scene blog shortly thereafter and by then I was not so much sliding down the slippery slope as hurling headlong down it. When Melanie and Heather Powers of Humblebeads (who also has excellent blogs, by the way) invited me to participate as their designer in a Bead Exploration Collaboration project, I said yes immediately. In order to participate, I needed a forum in which to post my jewelry designs and, thus, this blog was born.

Honestly, I never thought I would have enough to say to maintain a blog full-time (now, of course, it's hard to get me to shut up, but that's another story) or be interesting enough for anyone to want to follow the blog or even check in from time to time. However, according to my comments section and stat counter, there are those of you who do, and I am very, very grateful to you all. Thank you so much for making writing this blog such an enjoyable experience.

I thought I'd share a little love with you today, so I am giving away one of my "Geek Love" pendants this week to celebrate. For anyone not familiar with this particular pendant - it spells out "love" in binary code (with a red resin heart in place of a zero). Like most of my work, it is fine silver. In order to enter to win, please leave me a comment below. Next Thursday, I will have the Short One pick the winner from his hat. Once entered, you must come back to see if you've won, and I will provide details on how to claim your prize.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ornament Thursday - Red Hot Firecracker

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! (And I say again: How can it be the end of July?? How?) The theme for this month is Red Hot. Even though Independence Day has passed, nothing is more Red Hot to me than a firecracker. To be honest, I've been thinking about making a firecracker necklace since last October. My first attempt didn't pan out, so I tucked it away in a drawer and proceeded to ignore it for nine months (clever strategy, eh?). When I finally dusted the project off at the beginning of this month, I decided not to belabor the point, and made a simple red firecracker tassle with Czech glass and head pins.

Personally, I like the way this turned out much more than the first attempt. (And I finally get to use those black glass banana beads that reminded me of the night sky the first time I saw them.)

I'll be back later today with my one year blog anniversary post. Please come visit, as I will holding a wee giveaway to celebrate blog love. In the meantime, check out what's cooking with the other Ornament Thursday members' red hot projects:

Art Bead Scene
ABS Editor Cindy Gimbrone Goes Red Hot Crazy!

Beading Help Web is RED HOT!
Lynn Kvigne takes up the torch and shows you how to make a toe ring using fine silver.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Trendy, Popular and Red Hot!

It's a Red Hot July in Arizona!
Lisa finally finishes a project from over a year ago. Check out this "hot" take on a changeable necklace.

Katie's Beading Blog
Check out Katie's Red Hot faux coral necklace! It's a punch of color with a summery feel.

Linda Augsburg at BeadStyle Magazine
Linda shares a red-hot card she created

Michelle is RED HOT!
Well, really, Margot is...

Savvy Crafter
Hotsie Totsie Plexi-glass Flower pendant over on Candie's blog!

Swelldesigner a.k.a. Alexa Westerfield
The Swelldesigner gets red hot with a Hunka Hunka Burner Necklace!

Too Red Hot
Our own Michelle Zimmerman has been hard at work this month sculpting a devil of a project for your enjoyment.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Losing my Mind

I've spent all night (post Short One's bed time) looking for a single bead and pretty much ripping apart all of my boxes of beads and supplies. I had a short strand of Michele Goldstein's beads sitting at the bottom of my working projects box for about 4-5 months. A couple weeks ago, I thought to myself "well, these are going to break if I don't move them". I cleverly tucked them away for safekeeping and, now that I want one single, itty bitty, bead from that strand, I can't remember where I put them. It is driving me INSANE. I've come up with a new design, and the bead would be perfect as part of the focal if only I could find it. Arrrrrrgggh.

In the meantime, I have three contracts on my desk waiting to be signed, four projects to write up that are due next week, my Ornament Thursday project to string and a bunch of stuff for the Etsy store that's been lying around for at least two weeks. All of this is not to even mention a full box of pending projects, including the above one that I started a mere eight months ago (using Sarah Moran's wonderful beads). In light of this, I think I'll go rummage around my stash one more time and gnash my teeth. Don't you think that sounds productive?

Hope you are having a better start to your week. Thanks for stopping by!

Updated: I found it! I think the bead may be too small for what I want to use it. I give up - I'm going to bed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jewelry and Beading Linky Love

Here's the Short One's latest masterpiece. (You have to admit - it ties in nicely with my earlier post on ice cream beads.) We think this day at Mom's Morning Away must have been accompanied by a scoop of chocolate ice cream - ever since then, whenever I give him vanilla ice cream at home (it's one of the few sweets he's allowed to eat right now, as he has yet to discover c-a-n-d-y), he cheerfully points to it and says "white ice cream!" Ice cream, along with rice, are probably the SO's two favorite foods. The Husband and I have had to come up with numerous code words for ice cream (it's currently "c-o-l-d s-t-u-f-f"), as I learned the hard way during dinner out several months ago that he already knows how to spell "i-c-e c-r-e-a-m". It's amazing how precocious kids can be when it's in their self-interest.

Hope you are all having a fine weekend. Here are this week's jewelry and beading links for your perusal: Jewelry Making
Jewelry De-Stash Options - When and if you go through your jewelry making supplies, what options do you have for possibly reselling them? And should you?

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene Editor Cindy Gimbrone shows her true colors.

Barbe Saint John
Forever trying to take better photos, check out the online Video tutorials I found to help.

BeadStyle Magazine
Cathy reviews books a plenty from the BeadStyle magazine library

Jewelry & Beading
The new book, 1000 Jewelry Inspirations, hits the mark!

Katie's Beading Blog
Katie dishes on all the new beady stuff she saw at the Craft & Hobby Association tradeshow last weekend. New geometric links, new resin components, new beads, oh my!

Strands of Beads
Melissa's making more memento mori (alliterative, eh?) in the studio this week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spring Geisha

Ugh, I'm sorry I went missing for a couple days. The Short One came down with a bad case of stomach 'flu, and we are expecting house guests today - the combination of the two has made life a little hectic chez nous. The SO has still not recovered his appetite, but he's much more cheerful and active now, so I feel that we are over the worst of it. Actually, the SO and I spent the morning perfecting our "butterfly and grasshopper" interpretive dance, which involves one of us wearing elegant-looking wings (ie, a baby blanket) and the other one hopping like a grasshopper - very sublime and careful choreography is involved, let me tell you.

Here's a photo of what I did with some of the beads I bought in New York over my birthday. It's a pretty simple piece, but I like the way the colors came out, and I don't think the pendant really requires a lot of adornment, anyway. (You'll note that I used another one of my simple PMC rings for the clasp, here, again.) We'll probably head to NYC once more before the year is out, and I already have a laundry list of beads I would like to pick up! Now if only I could find the time to actually list a few items on Etsy - I've had stuff ready to photograph for a week, but life keeps getting in the way. Funny how that works...

Oh, I just realized - my one year "blogiversary" is coming up at the end of the month. It's hard to believe that the blog is almost a year old! I'll have to come up with an appropriate celebration to mark the occasion...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memento Mori

So, as I mentioned earlier this month, I ended up making a few skull pendants inspired by the ferryman's guerdon, the coin that the newly dead were required to pay to Charon so that he would take them across the river Styx into Hades. I believe that the actual coin used in funerals for so many years (placed either over the eyes or in the mouth of the deceased) was a Greek obolos, but I decided to re-interpret the coin in my own design.

It seems to me that people either love skull designs or they find them too morbid to be attractive. I clearly fall in the former camp. The history of memento mori (loosely translated as "a reminder of one's mortality") dates back hundreds of years. Nowadays, you see memento mori style skull designs most commonly in connection with Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations (and I must admit that I love these stylized, often floral skull designs). However, there is also a longstanding European tradition of depicting skulls as memento mori in art, literature and adornment. Think of the Danse Macabre, for example, which originated as a medieval allegory on the vanity of earthly life. Jewelry also often contained skull designs. I read somewhere that Elizabeth I had a skull ring among her substantial jewelry stash (but of course I can't remember the source for that, so it's probably best to take it as hearsay - anyone have any information on this?)

I discussed the Hamlet-inspired coin in my previous post, but I thought I'd go ahead and show you the other two coins, that have nothing to do with Shakespeare. When considering what words to stamp on these coins, I considered and rejected a number of possibilities. I ultimately decided that "vanitas", Latin for "vanity" and a reference to a related genre in which images of mortality - be they skulls, hourglasses or dying flowers - are incorporated, would be appropriate. For the other, I chose two different quotations, the first of which is "acta est fabula" which, loosely translated from the Latin, means "the play is done".

For the second, I chose "et in Arcadia ego", a rather famous memento mori phrase, the meaning of which has been debated, but which I loosely translate as "even in Arcadia I exist". "Arcadia" refers to a sort of pastoral paradise and, thus, the quote suggests that death comes even in paradise.

So, these are my first efforts at creating memento mori pendants. If you would like to see other examples of memento mori beads and jewelry, you may wish to view Melanie Brooks Lukacs's work at Earthenwood Studio, Joan Miller's beads at Joan Miller Porcelain, and Michele Goldstein's work. If anyone has any other sources for memento mori artist beads, please do leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jewelry and Beading Round Up

Here's the Short One's and my week in a nutshell. Paper, paper and more paper. We used up so much origami over the past few days, that I had to phone around locally for stores carrying more (we ultimately found a big kit on sale at Borders - 200 sheets + booklet for $9.99). I also took the precaution of ordering a bunch from a mail-order Japanese book store.

The SO now has enough colorful paper boats to command an armada. It's been quite useful for practicing numbers greater than thirty, but I've had to find increasingly larger shoeboxes to store them all! (He wasn't all that keen on the frog, but the paper flowers were also a big hit.)

Here are your jewelry and beading links to get you through the weekend: Jewelry Making
If you are looking for some super easy methods for promoting your jewelry business, here are some no-brainer ideas for you.

Art Bead Scene
Pass us a cold drink because a heat wave engulfs Studio Saturday!

Barbe Saint John
Doing a big arts & crafts show? Here are some tips to help make it go smoother.

BeadStyle Magazine
Alison Libby is BeadStyle's guest blogger this week. Check out her first post and leave a comment about how you started beading.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares some of her bead business packaging and shipping processes.

Jewelry & Beading
The fabulous Amy Clarke Moore shares her inspirations and creative process!

Strands of Beads
Inspired by Art Bead Scene, Melissa creates a focal and clasp with fine silver circle links

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Kawaii

A few days ago, Lynn Davis had a great Studio Saturday post over at Art Bead Scene, talking about metal clay (yay!), and she showed us, among other components, some of the super-cool metal clay circle links she's been making in her studio. I love circle links - I think they are very versatile design elements, useful for multi-strand pieces, as well as for clasp components or focals.

It just so happened that I had made a bunch of simple circle links a couple months ago for a project that never really got off the ground, and Lynn's post inspired me to dig a couple of them out to transform into a new piece. Here's what I ended up doing with mine. I had a bunch of Japanese plastic beads (see my earlier post on the Japanese bead store Toho Shoji for more information) in what I think of as classic "kawaii" colors - very bright, cheerful pastels - and wanted to wire-wrap them into a summer necklace or bracelet. I thought the simple, off-center circle shape had a vaguely Asian flavor to it, so I decided to dangle some of the flower beads and a faceted spring green ball from it to see what happened. Here is a close-up shot of the result:

I'm not really keen on symmetry (and the rings themselves are not symmetrical), so I used jump rings in different sizes to hang clusters of flowers at different heights off of the ring. I then decided to create a design of graduated circles by hanging the green faceted ball and a smaller pearl off of the center point of the ring and added more tiny flowers to finish the pendant.

For the back, I took a smaller ring and mirrored part of the design for a bit of added interest on the clasp. I decided to highlight the circle design by simply adding a small lobster claw clasp to the side as a closure, instead of using a toggle bar. I think this makes a cute - or kawaii (Japanese for "cute" for the uninitiated) - summer piece to wear with a sun dress. (The Short One spent all morning trying to grab the colorful dangly bits and went after the necklace with grim determination while it was lying on the center of the dining room table, so I think it has his seal of approval, too.)

So, a big thank you to Lynn for inspiring me to create this piece!! If you use circle links in your own jewelry design, I'd be interested in hearing about your favorite way of using them.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Son of Beadzilla

I thought I'd show you a couple of the Short One's favorite things today. I may have mentioned before, but we don't have a huge amount of storage space in my house. I have a small set of plastic drawers full of the beads and findings that I use daily on the fireplace mantel in our living room - a space that I fondly think of as the "final frontier", as it is one of the few areas that is still completely inaccessible to the SO's curious little hands. Although the SO has a set of cute wooden stringing beads that we use to practice motor skills, he definitely knows the difference between these and Mama's beads. As you can imagine, it drives him bonkers knowing that all of the fascinating shiny baubles are just a few feet out of reach. One day, when he was being particularly eloquent about the unfairness of it all, I rummaged around and found these two beads that I felt were big enough (it's hard to tell from the photo, but they are slightly larger than his Duplo blocks) and sturdy enough for the SO to handle without being so heavy that they would cause injury if dropped on a foot, etc.

I'm embarrassed to say that the SO has enough toys that we could easily open a play center in our home right now. However, when the mood takes him - which is often - the only things he wants are his "two beads", and he goes around the house all day playing with them (often putting them in and taking them out of a cardboard jewelry box, which is hours of fun) saying cheerfully, "two beads, two beads!" He is still too young to actually string these beads, but I still find it very encouraging that he will cast aside his usual toys to make up creative play with them, or with origami or the little paper cutout figures that I make for him. One of the things I think about quite a bit as he grows is how to encourage a sense of creativity in his everyday life. In a few years, I imagine he will participate with me in working with clay, drawing, and designing beads, as well as many other crafty endeavors, and I hope as he outgrows his interest in these things that being inspired to work with his hands and be creative will stay with him. In the meantime, however, he has two beads - it's a sign of good things to come, don't you think?

Thanks for visiting!

ps: I'm giving away a pendant to celebrate my one year blogging anniversary! Please go here for more details.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for...

You'd think I'd have enough sweets beads already, wouldn't you? Ha! Here's my most recent acquisition - three cute ice cream cones in bright, sherbert-y colors by Jenn Kelly of CaliGirl Art Glass. Yay! Thank you, Jenn - I love them! Even better, they go so well with this month's Challenge theme over at Art Bead Scene - "Summer Vacation". Ice cream, watermelon, fireworks - they all suggest summer fun to me. (Why are two out of three things I think of food-related? Hmmm.) I'm hoping to put something together for the challenge this month. I've been really slacking off lately. Back in the day, I used to always have 4-6 entries for the ABS challenge. It's always a great source of inspiration. To see the current entries for this month (as well as previous month's entries), please visit the ABS Flickr Group.

On other fronts, the Short One took his first tricycle ride yesterday. Well, actually, he just sat in the seat, while I pushed him along (it's one of those trikes with a push-bar at the back that can later be removed when the child is ready to pedal on his or her own), but I feel pretty confident that the SO thrilled to the open road, just the same. The SO hates hats and most particularly chin-straps, so I was a little nervous about how he would take to his bike helmet (H. and I felt that if we didn't make him wear one from the get-go, we'd never be able to get him to wear one). However, I'm happy to report that the "Elmo wears a bike helmet when he rides his bike" argument was stunningly persuasive. Although I have some misgivings about what will happen once he's able to zoom around under his own steam (he's hard enough to keep up with right now without adding any sort of wheels), for the moment, we are enjoying being able to motor around the neighborhood on such a sharp-looking vehicle.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Here's a little abstract art from the Short One. Not bad, eh? Markers are still a special privilege in our house (and to be honest, it bothers the SO that the ink stains on his hands don't wash off immediately), so he takes advantage of the opportunity to create art with them whenever it's presented. This was the result of a creative session at the local children's museum a few days ago.

Here's some bead and jewelry link love to help you get through your weekend: Jewelry Making
Tammy declares, Red Brass Rocks! Consider red brass wire as an alternative to gold-filled if you have been put off by the price.

Art Bead Scene
Give your Art Beads a Summer Vacation!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Swimming in the deep sea of imagination, Melanie discovers inspiration's treasures in many places

Jewelry & Beading
Make a bright and breezy knotted turquoise necklace for the summer!

Linda Augsburg at BeadStyle Magazine
It's better than a backstage pass! Check out BeadStyle's open house, all-access pass this weekend. And get links to Bead&Button and Art Jewelry's open houses as well!

Naughty Secretary Club
Read Jen’s wrap up report of her adventures at the BEA convention. Actual copies of Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girls Guide to Handmade Jewelry were spotted!

Strands of Beads
Melissa discusses the curious byways down which inspiration leads us and is, herself, inspired by Shakespeare

Oh, and by the way, Bead & Button, BeadStyle Magazine and Art Jewelry are all having an Open House this weekend on their websites. Features that are usually restricted to subscribers and registered users are open to the general public this weekend, so be sure to check out those sites!!
I hope everyone is having a good Saturday. See you on Monday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

From A to B and C and D

Despite the somewhat ominous skull above, today I'd like to say a few words about inspiration. In particular, the curious byways and circuitous routes that our sources of inspiration, whatever they may be, end up taking us.

I have a background in English Renaissance Literature, and I personally often find inspiration in favorite bits of poetry. The following is one of my favorite songs from Shakespeare:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.

Okay, the topic is perhaps not the most cheerful, being the imagined death by drowning of the hero's father in "The Tempest". However, I find the "rich and strange" language of the song to be completely compelling. I've tried several times to create a necklace based on this song, and each time has been a complete failure, in the sense that I never really succeeded in embodying the actual song in my piece. However, in each case, I created something that I really liked, even if it had nothing to do with "The Tempest". This is very typical of my experience with inspiration - I never quite know where I will end up when I am inspired by something, but the journey and end result are usually well-worth the effort. In this case, my first attempt at creating a necklace based on "Full fathom five" resulted in this pendant:

I liked the nautical feel of the pendant (the cool ceramic shell beads are by Earthenwood Studio, and I set them with coral and pearl in a fine silver bezel), but it seemed far too sunny and cheerful for the verse that it was intended to represent. I revised my plan at that point and ended up creating a day-at-the-beach themed piece, instead. (Incidentally, you can see the full necklace in the July 2008 issue of Beadstyle Magazine.) My second attempt to create the necklace resulted in these cartoony skully beads:

The skull design seemed a little closer to the theme in the song, but, ultimately, they made their way into this necklace, instead:

It's still based on Shakespeare, but "Macbeth", not "The Tempest." However, it's one of my favorite quotes from "Macbeth", so I couldn't be too upset at this turn of events. (There is certainly plenty of good verse from Shakespeare to go around, in my humble opinion.)

So I gave up on the project at that point, jotted a few notes in my ideas book and moved on to other things. Last month, I thought, heck, why not try it again? At an opportune moment, when the Short One was occupied with his blocks, I took a scrap sheet of paper and drew these:

(Okay, I really debated showing this to you, as it demonstrates how truly untalented I am with a pen, but there you go. I've numbered each version to illuminate what I laughingly refer to as my "process". After deciding that the SO could have done a better job than attempts Nos. 1 and 2, I hauled out every photo of a skull I could find before trying again. I'm reasonably satisfied with the end image, but if you say "What skull?", I will be terribly, terribly depressed. I'm just warning you.) The skulls turned out okay, but, hey, what's that coin-like thingy in the left hand corner with the weird Latin and Greek inscriptions?

This time, the skull design for some reason reminded me of Charon and the River Styx. With that old Chris de Burgh song, "Don't Pay the Ferryman", playing over and over in my head, I decided that the skull would be best used as part of the design for a ferryman's guerdon. For anyone not familiar with the mythology, in order to cross the River Styx and enter into Hades, the newly dead had to pay Charon, the ferryman, a coin. In fact, in accordance with the mythology, it was customary for many years to cover a dead person's eyes with Greek obolos coins or to put one in his or her mouth, in order that the person's soul would be able to pay the entry fee into Hades. So, once again, I tossed aside "Full fathom five" and started thinking more about creating a memento mori based on a coin design.

So my whole point in this long ramble is basically that the path down which your inspiration leads you may not necessarily be a straight and narrow one and that you should be open to the sheer mutability of inspiration when developing new work. I am a firm believer in "happy accidents", but I also believe that sometimes the trick is to recognize one when you see it. For myself, I think I could've easily become frustrated (and actually did become frustrated at several points) that none of the designs I created ended up being appropriate for the verse I used as my original source of inspiration. However, ultimately, I think each piece ends up standing on its own well enough, even if none of them actually embody that song from "The Tempest" that I love so much.

Oh, and I did create several hand-stamped pendants based on the ferryman's guerdon idea. Here's one of them (and the only one stamped in English):

It's not from "The Tempest", but anyone who knows their "Hamlet" will realize that this is a reference to, alas, poor Yorick, the court fool whom Hamlet knew and whose skull Hamlet dug up torwards the end of the play. I like the idea of a skull being "a fellow of infinite jest", and it seems quite appropriate for a memento mori, which loosely translates as "a reminder of one's mortality" (in this case, the infinite jest suggests, to me, that regardless of station, we all come to the same end). If you are interested in seeing any of the other versions of the pendant, I will post them next week - possibly with a long, and probably boring exposition on memento mori. Everyone needs something to look forward to, eh?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

I've been reading a lot of John Donne lately. Donne is one of my favorite poets, possibly even more so than Shakespeare (which is saying something for me, as I am sort of a Shakespeare geek). I had trouble choosing one (or two or three) poems for this blog post, as I love quite a bit of his work, but I eventually settled on one of the Holy Sonnets. It is not terribly cheerful in tone - the subject has to do with repentance, redemption and religious grace - but I have always found the imagery in this particular sonnet to be quite powerful. I'm particularly fond of the first four lines.


At the round earth's imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go ;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,
All whom war, dea[r]th, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you, whose eyes
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space ;
For, if above all these my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent, for that's as good
As if Thou hadst seal'd my pardon with Thy blood.

Although I have not modeled any specific design on this sonnet, I have been thinking quite a bit about issues of mortality as expressed through memento mori (more on this later this week), and this is one of the works I dug up while looking for inspiration. Also, it's been ages since I've posted any poetry on the blog, so I thought it was time to do so.

Oh, by the way, I couldn't find any photo that really related to the poem, so I settled on this one that I actually designed with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in mind. Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense, but none of the other potential choices did, either. (Plus, while I know you see part of this necklace every day on the blog, I thought I'd show off the rest of it...) The beatific face cabochon is by Earthenwood Studio. This was my first attempt to set a ceramic cab in fine silver.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hearts and Bones

Now that I think about it, I'm sure I've shown you this necklace before. However, since I was talking about Michele Goldstein and Stephanie Sersich last week, I thought I'd go ahead and post this again. All beads except plain spacers in this necklace were made by Michele. The spacers are my beginner lampworking beads. I made this last year. I didn't really know what I was doing (erm, not that I do now, of course), so my execution of the piece is pretty flawed. I still like the design, though. One of these days I'll go back and re-do the whole thing. In the meantime, please admire Meesh's beautiful beads.

Did everyone have a nice 4th? The Short One managed to come down with his first cold from his class, and he passed it right along to his Dad and me, so we ended up spending a good part of the weekend feeling sniffly. Still, we managed to get a little sand table set up for the SO in the backyard, and he enjoyed that to the fullest (some might say too much, given how much sand ended up all over the house, but the SO is still quite enthusiastic about the whole experience). The SO's Grandma and Grandpa arrived for a visit this evening and will be staying with us for the next few days, so I predict that my posts may be a little sporadic this week. However, I did manage to run a kiln-load of silver this past weekend. If I can take the photos in the next few days, I'll have new stuff to show off shortly.

Have a great day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Here's a little artwork from the Short One to help you celebrate your 4th of July (they're supposed to be fireworks, in case the SO's vision is a little too abstract for you). The SO is still a little young for fireworks (I wonder what he made of this art assignment, actually), but we did manage to spend some time playing in the sand at the beach, sliding down the big tornado slide (with Dad) at the local park and generally enjoying the fine weather outside. I hope your holiday (if you live in the U.S.) was equally happy. Here are the bead and jewelry links to help you through the rest of the weekend: Jewelry Making
Bronze metal clay is one the way! This new medium is the talk of the metal clay community right now.

Art Bead Scene
Whooo is the star of this week's The Trendy Bead?

Barbe Saint John
Steampunk? Learn a little more about gears and brass.

BeadStyle Magazine
Cathy Jakicic talks about Tammy Powley's new book and her gracious gift of a free project download for the community

Jewelry & Beading
Here's what to do with an ugly old elastic bracelet that never gets worn anymore!

Katie's Beading Blog
The Triple Take girls are at it again! Get a sneak peek at Katie's twinkle toes ballet flats for the August issue of Simply Beads.

Katie's Beading Blog
The Triple Take girls are at it again! Get a sneak peek at Katie's twinkle toes ballet flats for the August issue of Simply Beads.

Savvy Crafter
Stars and Stripes Charm Bracelet! Happy Fourth everyone!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
I was so delighted with how my interview with the fantastic Melissa J. Lee turned out! Come see!

Strands of Beads
Melissa shows off her favorite recycled tools.

Thanks for visiting! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Favorite Tools

Greetings. My quest for the set of charms the Husband brought back from China is still proving fruitless, so I thought I'd show off a few of the super-cool tools I use in my bead making and jewelry designing instead, today. Note the sleek lines, the shiny surfaces, the overall look and feel of these objects that just shout out how desirable they are for beading. Envious, eh?

If you, like me, have ever had a young child in the house, then chances are that you've had a bunch of these lying around at one time or another. I used to make a lot of fresh fruit puree for the Short One in his toothless days, but even so, we still ended up swimming in these little containers and jars. During a visit, my mother-in-law - who is an artist - commented that she could probably use the plastic containers for holding paint or water or some such, and it finally twigged that I, too, could incorporate these in my crafting, rather than just chucking them out by the dozens each week (which always bugged me).

The glass containers are the perfect size for holding small batches of hand-colored resin. I use the plastic containers as water and oil holders when I work with metal clay. The container tops make an excellent portable surface (with the addition of a small lump of polymer clay) to hold fine silver pieces level and steady when I am ready to fill them with resin. The containers are also terrific for sorting beads or even for holding small projects.

The SO was already starting to gnaw on solids by the time I started saving these, but I still managed to amass two big cardboard boxes full of them, which are currently sitting in the basement. I use them pretty much every time I work with beads and jewelry, which is to say, practically every day, and, of course, I love the fact that I don't pay an extra penny for them. I will be extremely sorry when they're gone. (I'm already eyeing the little sister of one of the SO's playmates as a possible new source of containers...)

So, does anyone else have good tips for recycling objects to use in crafting and/or beading projects? Please do leave a comment, if so - I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Show and Tell

Well, I spent my time while the Short One was at his Mom's Morning Away program rummaging around in boxes for some charms I wanted to show you that the Husband brought back from China for me several years ago. No luck on that (and, thinking about it, I don't think I've seen them since we moved house, which may be a death knell for that particular blog post - our garage looks a bit like the warehouse at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). However, I did dig out this excellent bracelet, and I thought I'd show it off instead today. This is one of Stephanie Sersich's and Michele Goldstein's collaborative works, and it was my big purchase at last year's Bead & Button Show. I have a skinny, skinny wrist that is always too small for standard sized bracelets. Nevertheless, I was ravished with desire when I saw this at Stephanie's booth, tried it on and, lo and behold, it fit. I ended up basically just not taking it off after that, and it came home with me. I love the combination of Stephanie's beautiful spiny knotting and Meesh's whimsical beads (the green frond-like beads are my favorites, although the button is also darned cute - please feel free to click on the photo for a closer look).

With an nod to Paul Simon, I have always enjoyed combining Meesh's heart beads with her bone beads (I'll try to dig up a photo of one of my necklaces to show you later this week), and Stephanie and Meesh actually call their collaborative studio Hearts & Bones, so I guess it's no surprise that I drool over most of it. If you would like to see more examples of their work together, please go here. (If I had pierced ears, I would buy one of those sets of earrings in a heartbeat, let me tell you.)

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow.