Friday, October 31, 2008

Seven More Random Facts

I've been tagged by Maria Grimes! (Actually I was tagged by Carter Seibels, too, last week and I took a pass, since I'd done it so recently - so this is for Carter, too.) Here are the rules:

1. Link to tagger and display these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself - some random, some WEIRD.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, seven (more) random facts about me:

1. I am a procrastinator (and possibly a little masochistic that way). I work best under pressure and under deadline. If I don't have an impending deadline and just slightly less time than I actually need to finish something, I just don't work as efficiently. I used to take all-nighters all the time as a student.
2. While I don't really follow/believe in astrological signs, I still consider myself a classic Gemini - unpredictible and a blend of contrasts - outgoing yet pathologically shy, verbal yet quiet, etc. I'm a little hard to live with - but you'd have to ask the Husband, and he'll probably lie and say it's not true (if he knows what's good for him).
3. Back in the early 90s in England, when I was living in Brighton, there was a company that used to sell "savoury peanut butter" - a spicy rather than sweet peanut butter. I LOVE this stuff. Unfortunately, I think it's been discontinued (and you can't get it in the US anyway, sigh).
4. I am a cheap date - I have no tolerance for alcohol. After 1 drink, my face turns red, I start feeling dizzy, etc. This has always been a social nuisance, both personally and professionally, for me. I was so happy when I got pregnant and no longer needed an excuse for not drinking. Since the SO arrived, I've given up and just tell people that I don't drink.
5. This one has been on my mind recently, given the time of year - I have no idea how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. I didn't learn how to cook until I graduated from college (it's one of the reasons I cook with the SO now - it's an important life skill!). I can cook a decent variety of dishes now, and I enjoy baking, but I've never done a bird. We never had it at home when I was growing up, either (I always requested Korean food, instead). I live in fear of the day that the SO is old enough to want a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
6. I am a packrat - I save EVERYTHING. Mix that in with my husband's clutter and the SO's toys and, well, you could say we tend towards piles of stuff in this house. (I don't really like to admit this, but it's true.) I always say I am going to try to do better, but so far I haven't made much headway.
7. I love genre fiction - I read everything except Westerns. Science fiction is a favorite, but I also love mystery novels. I'm the type of reader who can't go to sleep on a cliffhanger - if it's exciting, I have been known to stay up until 5am to finish a book.

There you have it. Seven more random facts about me. Here's a list of my victi - er, the lovely people I am tagging in turn:

Carmi Cimicata (Carmi's Art/Life World)
Amy Locurto (Living Locurto)
Alexa Westerfield (Swelldesigner)
Barbe St. John

Thanks for visiting and - Happy Halloween!! (Note the Short One's efficient use of his feet in the artwork above.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ornament Thursday - Gratitude

Welcome to another Ornament Thursday! This month's theme is "Gratitude". I did not participate this month, due to home improvement issues and Halloween costume issues, but you can see all of the great projects my colleagues created by following the links, as usual:

Cat's Attitude of Gratitude
Michelle at http design has a fun take on gratitude - think about it - what do cats give you when they love you? Mice!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy's grateful for Ornament Thursday!

Gratitude Screen
Michelle's grateful for OT!

Linda shares her expression of gratitude
Of course there's a story behind Linda's shadowbox on the blog

Lisa looks at the meaning of the word
Just some reflection this month

Ornament Thursday - Gratitude
I am grateful that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

There are so many ways to say thank you
Helen from http design puts to work to create these earrings which say thank you in so many ways.


Brandi’s got some journals to share!

I, of course, am grateful to you, for visiting - thank you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lady Lazarus

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

-from "Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Plath

Well, this post isn't really about jewelry or beading directly, so I suppose I'm cheating a little bit. However, I've been looking for inspiration tonight, and, for me, that often entails reading poetry - and, for once, it's not Shakespeare! I am a fan of Sylvia Plath's work. I read The Bell Jar in high school and started reading her poetry shortly thereafter. Out of all of her work, I have always found "Lady Lazarus" to be the most powerful. It is tactile, graphic, disturbing and even offensive. (Regarding this last, I have been fretting a little that people unfamiliar with the poem and Plath's work may find it offensive, so you have been warned. It is what I have been reading right now, so I decided to go ahead and post this.) Whether you like it or hate it, it tends to linger in the mind after reading. I happen to love the image of the phoenix that appears at the end (see above quote). How this will translate for me into a new jewelry design, I don't know yet, but I know that it eventually will, whether it be in the color or mood of a piece (right off the top of my head, the poem makes me think of stark, sharp pieces in bold colors) or whether I will simply use a quotation from the poem.

The BBC has a wonderful recording of Plath reading the poem herself in their arts section. Please go here to listen to it and/or to read the entire poem (and judge for yourself whether you find it inspiring). If you find that this poem also inspires you to create new work, please do share. If you are also inspired by what you are currently reading, I'd love to hear about it (and learn what you're reading, of course), too.

Thanks for visiting!

Australian Beading Magazine - Even More Shameless Self-Promotion

Yep, two straight days of shameless self-promotion. I hope you will excuse the excess on my part. This one is special to me, as it's my first appearance in a non-U.S.-based magazine. The lovely Jean Yates writes a column for Australian Beading Magazine (I was not able to find a website for the magazine - does anyone know if there is one?), and she asked me if I would be willing to be featured one month. Being of (mostly) sound mind, I said "YES!" The article is out this month, and it is lovely. Jean is such a wonderful writer, and she makes anyone about whom she writes look so, so good. Thank you so much, Jean - I feel like a rock star!

Jean also wrote a wonderful review of Jennifer Heynen's new book Ceramic Bead Jewelry: 30 Fired & Inspired Projects, and I just found out that my friend Mary Harding is also profiled in the issue! Australian Beading Magazine is unfortunately not yet available in the United States (although I believe that will change shortly). For any readers who live in a country where it is available, please do check out the issue. I would love to hear what you think.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Step by Step Beads - More Shameless Self-Promotion

Greetings. I'm here to say that I have new work out in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Step by Step Beads. (Check out the beautiful necklace by Carter Seibels on the cover - is that not eye-popping? I love it!) This issue is kind of interesting, as it features work inspired by the art and traditions of countries from around the world. My necklace is called "Chinese Lantern" and features two beautiful coldworked, lampworked beads by Sarah Moran as focals - bet you can't guess what country I was inspired by, eh? It also showcases the 2008 Bead Arts Award winners - and there is some incredible work here. (You may not be surprised to learn that I favor the piece with the koi and lotus.) I think this is a great issue, and I'm proud to be a part of it. Thank you to everyone at Step by Step Beads!

On other fronts, the SO had a Halloween party at his Mom's Morning Away class today. I get the impression that there aren't a huge number of moms in my area that make costumes any more, judging from the reactions the SO received - anywhere from "I wish I had time to knit these days" (from a mother of three) to "You made that? Really?!? Do you do this for a living?" Since I hang out with a crafty crowd (all of you!), I was a little taken aback, since I don't think it's all that elaborate of a costume. Sometimes it's hard to remember that enjoying working with ones hands is not necessarily the norm. I'll be curious to see at what age the SO becomes embarrassed to wear something that his mother made - hopefully, that will be a few years off. In the meantime, I get to enjoy having a little pirate around the house.

Speaking of hand-made costumes, though, you SIMPLY MUST visit Kathleen Dougherty's blog and see the fabulous Marie-Therese costume she gave away last week (yes, I'm sorry that the contest has already closed, but it is definitely worth your while to give this one a look - over 1,000 people left comments, and it's not hard to see why). I discovered Kathleen's blog yesterday via Amy Locurto's blog (who has many wonderful costumes of her own on her blog - her family costumes, such as this one, are hilarious - scroll down to previous entries to see more). I made Amy's acquaintance recently through participating in Terrorific Tuesday this month. It's all six degrees of separation in the blogosphere, that's for sure.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Terrorific Tuesday Finale


This month has flown by as fast as a witch on her broom! Can you believe that Halloween is almost here?? Well, unfortunately this is the last Terrorific Tuesday of the year, so whip out that glue gun and scissors and get to work on one of these great ideas that will be sure to delight ghosts and goblins of all ages!

Spooky Jewels Katie Hacker strings this red and black set using a Fresh resin pendant, polka dots, and metal skulls.

Fangtastic figurines Retta a.k.a. Attercat breaks out the polymer clay and whips up some glow-in-the-dark figurines.

Cool canister Serena the Crafty Mom revamps a bargain bin canister into an awesome Halloween decoration!

Gothic Pink Melissa J. Lee explores the spooky side of one of her favorite pastel colors.

"Eye"gor pin cushion Kiki of Kiki's Craft World knits up this eye-catching pin cushion bracelet.

Stamped paper coffin Kate Pullen, the Rubber Stamping Guide at folds and stamps up this little coffin box that Dracula would envy!

Fun party food ideas Amy at Living Locurto threw a Halloween party and came up with tons of great ideas for the food table including this adorable witch cake!

Double the goodness from Margot! The Impatient Crafter™’s final Terrorific Tuesday offering is a two part story of friendship, Goth Style. Here are links to see Morticia Invites Miss Havisham to Tea and The Invitation.

Spiderman pendant (but not the Spiderman you're thinking) Kim Ripley a.k.a. Stoopidgerl pours up a glittery sweet skull and crossbones resin necklace.

Quick & easy polka dot treat cups Alexa Westerfield a.k.a. Swelldesigner shows you how to make quick and easy Halloween treat cups sure to wow your guests!

3 brand new Halloween jewelry projects! Tammy Powley, the Jewelry Guide at does an all-nighter (almost) as she pushes for a few more Halloween jewelry projects, including a super cool sterling silver spider, a glass framed mixed-media Halloween-themed pendant, and to top it off, a silver headless skeleton charm.

Fast & Fun Halloween Boa Sarah E. White,'s Knitting Guide knits up this super cute boa perfect for those chilly fall nights!

Dia De Los Muertos Cigar Box Shrine Kathy Cano-Murillo a.k.a. The Crafty Chica honors the Day of the Dead with this beautiful shrine.

Happy Haunting Greeting Card Phyllis Dobbs treats us once again with this cute Halloween card, perfect for all your favorite goblins!

Gypsy Traditions Lorilyn Hurley of the Dream Life shares a touching story of her family's love for Halloween & their passion for playing dress up at their annual party!

More spooky pendants Rebecca Hull for HHH Enterprises does it again with these ultra fabulous pendants!

Boo Bucket Michelle McGee crafts up a spooky and scary bucket that will leave goose bumps on all your guests!

Vintage Postcard Banner
Kris Tuey aka: the Collage Contessa
has made it official. Now you know exactly what time it is when you walk into her house. It's HALLOWEEN time! This vintage project using fun Halloween postcards is so simple you can even entice the kids to help as well!

Fall Wall Hanging
Kim of Sew Sugary Sweet
stitches this wonderful and whimsical wall hanging for her Fall Swap partner.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gothic Pink

I have to be perfectly frank - I had a couple interesting ideas in my sketch book that I was hoping to work up for this week, but what with the home improvement issues, getting the Short One ready for Halloween and having family visit, I ended up not having enough time to rough the projects out and make the beads for them. Sometimes life gets in the way, and we just don't have the time we wished we had to devote to what we all love to do, namely, crafting (yay!), right? But not having an abundance of time doesn't mean you can't create something interesting. Out of all the simple projects I've profiled for Terrorific Tuesday, this has to be the simplest and the quickest. However, I think it combines a few common elements in an unusual way, so I hope you like it.

When I went shopping for lucite beads the other day, I spotted a strand of big pink rose beads, and I just had to have them. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, of course, and they seemed rather feminine, which is not my usual style, but they just screamed out "Stash! Stash!" in big neon letters when I saw them. As it turns out, I think they provide a perfect way to explore the concept of gothic pink. It seems to me that the color combination of pink and black is often used to suggest something a little naughty - like swiss polka dots and lace on lingerie - but I like to think of the combination as being rather gothic in tone. (H. and I watched a show a few years back where a woman was being instructed in how to be goth. When the experts asked her what the most frightening color was, and she replied "pink", they all said something to the effect of "Oooh, you DO understand goth." H. and I found this rather appealing.)

Although the pastel roses seem rather girly by themselves, I loved the way they looked paired with plain black lucite and glass beads. Roses and skulls strike me as a rather classic combination, so I added one of my small skull charms. I finished the bracelet with a geometric, checkered button to downplay any remaining suggestion of frilliness on the part of the roses. So there you have it - my quick and easy interpretation of gothic pink.

Thanks for looking and Happy Halloween!

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

The Pumpkin Party was a smashing success (so to speak), although the Short One was a little dubious about the Mr. Potato Head who said hello to him early in the evening. Here's the pumpkin that the SO decorated (and a fine shot of my arm and my favorite knit cardigan - I'm sure you can tell that I knit it kimono-style, right?). I'll be back later tonight with my Terrorific Tuesday post, but in the meantime, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week: Jewelry Making
Tammy has gathered up a load of jewelry making links from all over the web covering related news, contests, and more.

Art Bead Scene
Catherine Witherell Visits Art Bead Scene!

Bead&Button Magazine
Check out Tea's blog about and their 15th anniversary content!

Carmi's Art/Life
Carmi makes a fabric skeleton pin to wear trick or treating.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter unveils some new designs for Fall!

Check out Katie's cute halloween decor!
Katie's festive pumpkin captures the the feeling of fall.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Holly Jolly Christmas Designs

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi's taking a look this week at all the informations she's gathered on steampunk style jewelry.

Savvy Crafter
It was a dark and not so scary craft night....

Strands of Beads
Melissa thinks about snakes and circle links

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blow the Man Down

I'm finally back - did you miss me? I will spare you the angst (although I watch them on tv, I don't really enjoy home renovation projects live and in person), but I can say that the new windows are in and that they look lovely. Had it not been for the windows and the fact that I forgot they were being installed this week, I doubt knitting the SO's costume would have been that stressful, but under the circumstances, I've been freaking out a little bit over completion time. I just finished it, though (which is good, since the SO has a Pumpkin Party to attend this evening), and I think it will do. For this year, at least.

So, here it is - vest with parrot attached and pseudo-red-kerchief-hat with attached gold "earring". You will note that the parrot is completely different from the one I showed you earlier. The original ended up being way too big to sew to the shoulder of the vest. I designed the new one myself on the fly while the dining room windows were being ripped out. A very relaxing way to spend that otherwise not terribly relaxing hour. Here's a close-up of the parrot:

He's now small enough and light enough to sit upright on the SO's shoulder without distorting the vest. Truthfully, I'm pleased to be using my own pattern for this - it kind of bugged me to resort to a commercial pattern previously. (And I thought to write it down, for once, while I was knitting it so I can duplicate it if I need to, in the future.) I only wish I had knit it with slightly brighter yarn, as I think the little guy is a little too darkish green for a toddler. Hopefully, the SO won't mind.

Despite some reservations about stretching, I decided to use garter stitch, since it's a flat stitch (no rolling edges) and has that nice property of being kind of square (one garter ridge = one stitch). Actually, though, given the time, I have not put any edging on the vest (and I did not stick in a selvedge on the edges either) and am hoping that the armholes don't end up around the SO's knees by the end of the evening. I will try to add that this weekend. The sash is sewn directly onto the vest to avoid any possible strangulation issues (the SO, unfortunately, likes to wrap things around this neck). I thought about the best way to tie the sash and opted for a keyhole closure - similar to a keyhole scarf, where one end is pulled through a hole in the other end. This seems to work pretty well, in terms of staying put, while still being easy to put on and take off. The hat is a regular watch cap design, and I added the bow (for a tied look) and the earring (obviously) later.

I've paired the hand-knit pieces with a regular red and white striped shirt and navy pants that the SO's grandmother found (at my request - my mother is a master shopper that way). It always bugs me that kids wear the costume for at most a week, and then it gets relegated to storage, so I've tried to add some practical elements that can be worn as regular clothing later (see last year's costume for more on this).

Don't say I never do any knitting on this blog, eh? Happy Halloween!

By the way, Amy Locurto is having a Halloween Blog Party (which I think is a brilliant, brilliant idea). I've joined it with this costume - please go here if you're interested in participating!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Terrorific Tuesday III (Bwa Ha Ha)


Another week has gone in October and you know what that means! It's Terrorific Tuesday! This week, we are featuring 20! fabulous projects and inspirations! This roundup features jewelry, scrapbooking, party ideas, knitting, sewing projects, mixed media art, photography, and so much more! So sit a spell (or cast one) and enjoy this hearty helping of haunting Halloween projects!

Furry Monster Bucket Kiki of Kiki's Craft World shows how to make a clever project that you'll have to keep an eye on!

Hooty the Hoot Owl Retro Jewelry Set Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter tried her patience making a paper crafted jewelry set for this week's Terrorific Tuesday.

Mini Pumpkin Quilt Phyllis Dobbs shares a spectacularly whimsical quilt!

Sugary Sweet Skull Coasters Stoopidgerl makes some awesome resin coasters packed with candy, rainbows, and skulls!

Halloween Party Pics/Picks Swelldesigner a.k.a. Alexa Westerfield gets nostalgic with cupcake pics inspired by Halloween's of yesteryear.

Witch’s Hat Pin Tammy Powley of has a super simple witch’s hat pin project for you that is so quick you’ll want to make up lots of these to give to other Halloween witch’s.

Witchy Woman Angela of Angela’s Art Diary gets in the spirit when she puts herself in her own bewitched portrait!

Fairy Witch Frame Lorilyn Hurley of the Dream Life piles on the glitter and vintage charm in this inspired frame.

Spooky and Kooky photos Chris Garris a.k.a. Universal Stopping point puts his photography skills to the test and creates a set of haunting images to get you inspired.

Halloween Charm Bracelet Jean Yates charms us with this gothic and glam skull bracelet.

Easy Dia de Los Muertos Story Box Kathy Cano-Murillo a.k.a. Craft Chica uses toys, a mini box, and lots of glitter to tell a beautiful tale.

Double Skully Bracelet Melissa J. Lee creates this red and black dazzler strung with double the skull goodness!

Bootiful Belt Buckles Rebecca Hull at HHH Enterprises makes an awesome Halloween accessory out of ordinary belt buckles!

Knitted Ghost Sarah E. White whips up this little ghost, perfect for haunting your house!

Spooky Photoshop Tutorial Amy Locurto of Living Locurto shows you how to create your own Photoshop still life to use on a custom invite!

Pumpkin Scrapbook Pages Michelle McGee scraps up some adorable memories of her little pumpkin!

Wicked Witch Brenda Pinnick's witch is a bit scary, a bit fun andoh so colorful. She is made using heavy weight watercolor paper and acrylic paint. The paper sculpture techniques bring this gal to life!

Rubber Stamp a Luminary Kate Pullen
shows you how to use your rubber stamps to create a paper bag luminary
for Halloween on her Rubber
Stamping Blog

Fall Owl Pillow Kim of Sew Sugary Sweet gives a hoot with this cute owl pillow perfect for fall!

Silhouetted Paper Lanterns Robin of Urban Debris gets super spooky with vintage paper lantern patterns.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Double Skully

This is a version of a bracelet I made last year, when I first designed my fine silver skully charm. I've reverted back to my favorite classic black and red color combination for this one. Here are the project instructions, for anyone interested in making the bracelet themselves:

Finished Size: 8.5"

1 fine silver double skully charm
1 15mm diameter fine silver patterned disc
10 16mm x 9mm faceted onyx rondelles
1 14mm grey shell pearl
36 5mm x 3mm faceted red Czech glass rondelles
5 6° grey seed beads
1 13mm x 9mm faceted red glass drop
1 2" head pin
2 sterling silver crimp tubes
13" strand .019 beading wire

wire cutters
chain-nose pliers
round-nose pliers

1. String the red glass drop on the head pin and create a wire-wrapped loop.
2. String one end of the beading wire through the disc and wire-wrapped red glass drop. Then string the beading wire back through the disc and secure the wire with 1 crimp tube.
3. String 1 red rondelle, 1 onyx bead, 1 red rondelle, 1 grey seed bead, 1 onyx bead, 2 red rondelles, 1 onyx bead, 1 grey seed bead, 1 red rondelle, 1 onyx bead, 2 red rondelles, 1 onyx bead, 1 red rondelle, 1 grey seed bead, 1 red rondelle, double skully charm, 3 red rondelles, 1 onyx rondelle, 1 grey seed bead, 1 red rondelle, shell pearl, 2 red rondelles, 1 onyx rondelle, 2 red rondelles, 1 onyx rondelle, 1 red rondelle, 1 grey seed bead, 1 onyx rondelle, 2 red rondelles, 1 onyx rondelle, 1 red rondelle, 1 crimp tube and 15 red rondelles.
4. String the beading wire back through the first red rondelle strung after the crimp tube, 1 crimp tube, 1 red rondelle and 1 onyx bead to create the loop. Flatten the crimp tube and trim any excess wire to finish.

Resources: Fine silver charm and disc: Melissa J. Lee ( Onyx: AD Adornments ( Shell pearl and glass drop: Bruce Frank Beads ( Seed beads and findings: Chelsea's beads (

©2007-2008 Melissa J. Lee. You are free to use this project for personal use only. This item is not to be made for re-sale.

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

I'm completely punting right now - still behind on finishing the SO's Halloween costume and trying to get the house ready for our big window replacement job happening at the end of the week. I'm going to try to post my Terrorific Tuesday project tomorrow, but, after that, I may not be around for a few days. At any rate, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week. Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Art Bead Scene
One Cool Tool!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi breaks up a shell wind chime to make more pendants!

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
It's almost time for the Divali Glass Jewelry annual sale!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
It's a Flashback Friday Bracelet Project

Jewelry & Beading
Amazing mixed media jewelry artist Phaedra A Torres shares her secrets!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean discusses the complexities of trying to sell original designwork.

Strands of Beads
Melissa designs a gryphon pendant

Think Pink! Beading for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Check out Katie's great ideas for creating and customizing your cause jewelry!

ps. I've been tagged by Carter! Since I was tagged by Lynn in the same round earlier this month, I'm going to punt (again) and refer you to that earlier post.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gone Knittin'

I have to face facts - the Short One's Halloween costume is simply not getting knit. I need to sit down and devote a few nights (the SO attacks yarn with the enthusiasm of a herd of cats, so I can only knit when he's asleep) to nothing but knitting. By the way, I'm aware I probably don't need a 1.2 lb cone of Crystal Palace chenille to knit a vest for someone less than three feet tall, but this was all I had in cotton in the right (sort of - I wanted black) color. This is just the gauge swatch, too - I have to write up the pattern still. Considering that the only piece that's done so far is the parrot, and that he is supposed to start wearing the costume next weekend, I feel it's probably time to start panicking - which I do very well, thank you.

So, I will be back to post the usual Bead & Jewelry Link Love this weekend, but if you otherwise don't see me around early next week, that'll be why. On the other hand, hopefully, I'll have a cute costume to show off for my pains in a few days.

Thanks for visiting and take care!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


A while back in July, Lynn Davis had a great Studio Saturday post on Art Bead Scene, where she showed off some circle links she had made, among other things. At the time, I ended up being inspired to use some simple links I had made for another project in a necklace. However, I also had a brainwave and decided that a coiled snake, or a snake eating its own tail (an Ouroboros), would make a beautiful circle link, jotted a note in my ideas books and then - promptly turned to other things. I finally sat down a few days ago and decided to try to make one - here's the result. As is usual for me, I kept the design pretty simple, although I do like how the scale pattern turned out on the snake's body.

I didn't realize this at the time, but the Ouroboros is evidently a symbol of infinity or immortality and is an alchemical symbol. Needless to say, I find this all pretty inspiring from a design perspective. Also, as Lynn pointed out, the circle link generally is pretty versatile. I think this would make an excellent focal, part of a toggle clasp or a link in an over-the-top bracelet.

On other fronts, we took the Short One out to a local farm to pick pumpkins and have fun at the Halloween festival they had set up for the season. The farm does a nice job of it - pony rides, hayrides, corn maze, some carnival games and rides, even.

At one point, I found and gave the SO a big yellow pumpkin blossom to carry around. He was so pleased - until a goat came up and ate it. The word "unconsolable" doesn't even begin to describe what followed. The sheer tragedy of having a goat eat your flower was hard to even comprehend much less to convey to anyone else (although he tried). It was hard for H. and I not to laugh, but ultimately we managed to haul our wailing child over to the duck carnival game - the kind where the child picks a plastic numbered duck from a stream of water and gets a prize - and he won a big teddy bear, which managed to console him. It was hard to explain that he wasn't allowed to keep the duck, though.

Maybe it's just a lack in my childhood, but I don't remember farms running these types of fairs when I was a kid. It's a nice seasonal activity, though, and since the SO does not know what c-a-n-d-y is yet, a nice way to start celebrating Halloween without getting into what some might consider the really crucial part of the holiday. I just found out today at the SO's cooking class that there's a big apple orchard north of where we live, too, so I imagine that may be on our list of things to do in the next couple weeks.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Terrorific Tuesday Take Two (Bwa Ha Ha)

terrorific tuesday mosaic week 2

It's back!!!! It's the second official post of Terrorific Tuesday! The following very fantastic crafters have brewed up some great projects and want to share them with you. The pics above are in order with the links below, so sit a "spell" and peruse the links or get out your glue gun and scissors and join in on the party!

Amy Locurto paints & constructs a marvelous Minnie Mouse pumpkin that's simply adorable.

Rebecca Hull at HHH Enterprises crafts up some spooky "Itsy Bitsy Spider" & "Murder at Midnight" Pendants that are absolutely terrorific! Be inspired to make your own pendant using your favorite Halloween image.

Lori-Lyn Hurley of the Dream Life makes a quick and easy craft by turning plain jars into spooky accents!

Tammy Powley, the jewelry guide at, wears these fun spider earrings every year around this time. Seed beads, a few crystals, and craft wire are all you need to make a pair of your own.

Phyllis Dobbs haunts us with an adorable gift bag using Brenda Pinnick's Sizzix dies.

Kate Pullen, the Rubber Stamping guide at, does a Halloween spin on a fun & classic craft – the paper chain!

Sarah E. White, the knitting guide at, shares with us knitted jack-o-lantern bag that’s a real treat!

Braaaiiinnssss!!!! Kiki of Kiki's Craft World crafts up a cute brain slug hair accessory!

Marice Rodriguez gets carded with this totally cute Jeepers Creepers card!

Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter™,offers this seasonally appropos and simple to recreate 'Runs with Scissors' charm bracelet. For those who know the hazards of crafting far too well and yet continue to play with sharp objects, toxic substances and messy paints and inks, this one's for you!

Alexa Westerfield a.k.a. Swelldesigner shows you how to become a living masterpiece. She creates a costume from an artist canvas.

Kris Tuey a.k.a. the Collage Contessa gets her spookiness on with a Skeleton House Frame and oodles of glitter!

Brenda Pinnick's three happy little ghosts have figured out how to spell "Boo!" . Her Halloween greeting card is made with her own clear stamp set available from Sizzix and her papers, available on QVC.

Melissa J. Lee gets bit by a passion for vampires with this simple fanged Bite Me necklace.

If you'd like to participate next week, please read more about it here. It's open to all bloggers out there who want to join in!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bite Me

I had two titles picked out for this Halloween-inspired project - "Love Bites" and "Bite Me". Ultimately, I had to go with "Bite Me" - the name just seemed to have more attitude. Anyway, I've gone gothic this week, with fine silver and Czech glass. This was a really fun project and completely inspired by my participation in Terrorific Tuesday this October (thank you, Alexa!). Furthermore, I created all new beads for this necklace, which I love, even though they are all quite simple in design.

This whole project arose from late night thoughts about how we sometimes use sharks' teeth as design elements in jewelry. I thought to myself, well then, why not vampire fangs? Then I thought, why not vampire fang bite marks? So, I fiddled around and came up with a few simple designs for fangs, bite marks and then I decided to do a simple bone for a toggle closure. Here's a close-up of the fangs:

As you can see, I used knotted leather cord instead of jump rings to string the fangs. I'd like to say that I planned this all along, but in fact, it turned out that I'd made the fangs a little too thick and was unable to attach them to a jump ring. As a result, I had to sit down and come up with an alternate way to string these. I like the way the leather looks - I think it adds character to the fangs. (Although, I have to say, part of me thinks this fang shape would make a great "Flintstones" or "Inuyasha" inspired necklace. Something for the future, maybe.) For the bite marks, I tried various shapes, but in the end, I found that I liked two simple joined circles the best. I filled (overfilled) the center holes with resin that I dyed a crimson color:

Finally, I shaped a simple bone for the toggle:

As far as stringing the piece goes, I had the black Czech glass in my stash already, as well as the small red drops. This past weekend was the local art center's biannual bead show, and I was lucky enough to find the deep red Czech glass beads I used here between the fangs (the beads were marked as "Oxblood" color). For the rest of the necklace, I kept the stringing quite simple so the bite mark bead would actually be visible and reasonably prominent. Of course, the bite mark bead is strung to lie along the side of the wearer's neck.

So there you have it - "Bite Me". Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

It's beginning to look a lot like...Halloween around here. Here's what the Short One and I have been up to this week. I cut the shapes out and the Short One glues (or at least attempts to glue) the pieces together. We use Elmer's glue stick right now to avoid excessive messes, and he's a great fan of the product. I usually have to wrest the it out of his sticky hands at the end of a craft session.

One of my pieces, entitled "Chinese Lantern", that will be published in the Nov/Dec issue of Step by Step Beads appears in today's Beading Daily post! It's right next to Carter Seibel's piece (which is also the cover necklace for the issue - congratulations, Carter!). Please go here to read it - the post is entitled "How to Add an Exotic Touch to Your Jewelry". You do have to be registered with Beading Daily to read it, but registration is free.

Here are your intriguing bead and jewelry blog links to help you through the weekend:

Art Bead Scene
It's a dark and stormy night at Art Bead Scene
Did you see Sara Snow's Living Green video on

Carmi's Art/Life Blog
Inspired by a tree pendant, Carmi creates new buttons.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter takes a walk down Divali Glass Jewelry Memory Lane

Jewelry & Beading
A special group of friends is showing off the work inspired by Cindy McCornack, and raising money for the American Lung Association at the same time.

Savvy Crafter-Candie Cooper
Tic-Toc, Candie shows a sweet beaded clock...

Snap out of it, jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean becomes an armchair traveler and lets a book take her away to exotic places when she reviews Bead Journey...!!!

Strands of Beads
Melissa creates a word bead based on T.S. Eliot's "The Naming of Cats"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now for Something a Little Different (Finally)

I've had real problems with time allocation these past months. I only have 1-2 hours maximum to work on jewelry / beading at night (sometimes less, depending on what's going on at home), after the Short One is in bed. I've found lately that most of that time has been eaten up with creating new finished jewelry and putting together project proposals for publication (and adminstrative stuff). While I've elaborated on bead designs I created earlier this year, I haven't really found time to do more than jot down ideas for new beads. I've found it a little frustrating. I decided the other night to just push everything aside and spend a little time trying to come up with something new.

I really love medieval bestiaries, which are basically compilations of animals, with illustrations and descriptions of each "beast". These lists throw together what we would consider both mundane and fantastic creatures - so, you might find snakes, owls, manticores and basilisks in the same manuscript, for example. The illustrations in the bestiaries are wonderful - relatively simple drawings but full of character. (If you are interested, you can view a few of these illustrations in the Wikipedia entry for bestiaries.)

So I chose this subject as a starting point - I decided to try to create a modern design of a mythical creature with similar clean, simple lines. I ended up attempting a gryphon, a beast which is half eagle and half-lion. I took a few liberties with the way I interpreted the combination of forms, though. This is kind of embarrassing, but I'm going to show you a few of my initial notebook sketches for the design. Once again, bear in mind that I don't have formal training and this stuff doesn't come easily to me:

(Don't laugh, okay? Oh, and in case you are wondering, the yellow crayon marks are the SO's attempt to improve my design. We are nothing if not consummately professional, here.) The first draft is the largest image in the center - the progression is counter-clockwise from there. Despite some problems with the legs, I decided that the overall design was workable. (Don't ask me why I put a peacock crest of top - I can't really explain it. It seemed like a good idea at the time.) However, the image was four inches across - suitable for a breastplate maybe, but not a pendant. The top right image was the second try - still too big, and I was still having trouble with the hind leg. I broke down and looked up a couple photos of lions on the Internet at this point. Third try is at top left - size is about right, and I finally resolved my issues with the hind leg. However, after shrinking down the design, I felt that there was too much detail - the design seemed too cluttered. Also, I lost the glaring eye, which was a feature I wanted to retain. Fourth and final try is at bottom left - size is about right, and eliminating some of the detail around the breast simplifies the overall look and makes it feel sharper (at least, to me).

I liked number four, and that's the version I ended up carving out as a stamp. It's still a hefty pendant - at about 2" in diameter, it's as large as I'm likely to go for a single piece. However, I think it will be pretty easy to create a substantial necklace (the kind I like, after all) out of it. If I do this again (which I may - the gryphon was one of three options for mythical beasts that I considered before starting), I'll probably make the pose a little more dramatic. I deliberately avoided the segreant posture that you find in so many heraldic depictions of gryphons (rearing up on the hind legs, facing to the left), but the standing image is a just a touch static.

Anyway, so there you have it: my first really new pendant design since the spring - and a little exposition on my personal design process.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Every Good Pirate Needs His...

Even though the "Strands" in the title of this blog was intended to stand for yarn as well as jewelry, I know that I haven't been keeping up my end of the bargain where the knitting is concerned. So I thought I'd finally let a little garter stitch show its face here. This little piratey parrot was knit from a modified version of a bird of paradise pattern that appears in this stupendously good beginner's knitting book: Knit a Square, Make a Toy. I was going to recommend this one for any aspiring knitters, but I just found out that not only does the book appear to be out of print, used copies are going for $100-200 on Amazon. Yikes. I think I paid $1.99 for mine at Edward R. Hamilton a couple years ago. If only I'd known, I would have bought more copies.

Anyway, the premise of the book is that, if you can knit a garter stitch square of fabric, you can make a toy. This was a perfect project for my mother, who knows her knit stitch but does not know how to decrease, increase, etc., etc. So, we sat down, modified the pattern to be small enough to perch on the Short One's shoulder and changed the coloring and the wings and tail a bit, and then she knit each piece of the bird as separate little squares. The shaping all comes with the sewing and stuffing, and voila! a knit parrot. Brilliant. Now I just have to sit down and knit the rest of the costume. Argh. (Or should I say, "Arrrr.")

On other fronts, the past three days when I've gone to adjust the thermostat in the evening I've found it set 2-3 degrees higher than I usually set it. Either we've recently acquired house elves (in which case, I will ask them to give me a hand with the laundry instead), or the SO has finally found a way to reach the thermostat controls without assistance.

Ack, Lynn Davis has tagged me! Here are the rules for tagging:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I can't stand cilantro, lemongrass or ginger. Being Korean-American, I tend to get weird looks from the waiters when I mention that I don't want these ingredients in my food at Asian restaurants.
2. I once asked for a fork at a Chinese restaurant. See above statement on Korean-American-ness. In this case, the waiters were so stunned that the owner came out and had a (friendly) word with me. (Great restaurant, though - near Magdalene College in Oxford. I wonder if it's still there? I don't remember the name, though. My friends Sarah and James took me there. Do you remember, Sarah?) I can use chopsticks, but I hardly ever do so.
3. When I see a personality trait in the Short One that I recognize in myself, I wonder if he gets it from me. Then I wonder if it just means I'm immature.
4. My favorite chocolate is the Vosges Naga Bar (or Naga truffle). It's twice as expensive as premium chocolates like Lindt, but, oh, how I love it so. I usually indulge on special occasions and holidays. (Hey, speaking of which, my wedding anniversary is coming up. Hmmm....)
5. Sometimes I think I enjoy playing with the SO's toys more than he does.
6. I wish I had a stunt-double to take care of the more irritating tasks in life. (Navigating phone trees, arguing with anyone over anything, etc.)
7. Even though I blither on and on ad nauseum on the Internet (and spent almost a decade as a lawyer), I'm very shy in real life. If I meet you in person but don't say much, it probably means I'm feeling embarrassed.

I will tag these nice bloggers in turn:

Cindy Gimbrone
Christina at This Girl Beads
Michelle McGee at Seriously. No Seriously.

Thanks for visiting! New work came out of the kiln today - I just have to burnish it, patinate it, etc., etc. I'm quite excited about one piece - hopefully, it will turn out well and I will be able to show it off tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Welcome to Terrorific Tuesday (Bwa Ha Ha)

terrorific mosaic

Yep, it's that time. It's the first official post of Terrorific Tuesday!!! Eleven artists posted projects over the past week on their blogs in celebration of their love for all things Halloween. The pics above are in order with the links below, so check out these spooky and inspiring projects by some of the most inspired crafters on the "web".

Eye of Newt Necklace Melissa J. Lee treats us to this stunning necklace filled to the brim with lots of texture and gothic appeal!

Halloween Knitting Patterns Sarah E. White whips up some insanely fun knitting patterns on her Knitting Blog. Learn how to knit a ghost, pumpkin hat, Halloween bag and more!

Spooky Googly Eyed Crafts Alexa Westerfield a.k.a. Swelldesigner creates 6 projects which includes a frame, pumpkin, and fashion accessories with her crafty stash of googly eyes.

Trick-or-Treat Candy Pot Phyllis Dobbs paints up an adorable pot that will make all the little ghosts and goblins smile.

Owl & Witch Halloween Cards Brenda Pinnick uses her Sizzix dies to craft these totally spooky cards. So swell!

Franky Halloween Card Marice Rodriguez crafts up this adorable glittery and colorful Halloween concoction on her Flickr page.

Resin Halloween Cabochons Tammy Powley's experiment with resin turns out to be a success! Check out her adorable cabochons and ideas for using them on her Jewelry Making Blog.

Pumpkins & Swirls Halloween Candle Kate Pullen shows you how to make this beautifully-inspired candle using simple rubber stamping techniques on her Rubber Stamping Blog.

Crystal Web Necklace Margot Potter a.k.a. The Impatient Crafter wins the webby award with this dramatic necklace using CRYSTALLIZED™-Swarovski elements and Beadalon silver plated wire.

Happy Haunting Collage Lorilyn Hurley of the Dream Life creates this collage filled with vintage goodness and an oh-so-risque flying witch!

Halloween Ephemera Collage Christina Tuey a.k.a. the Collage Contessa shares her artful wall hanging filled with all kinds of whimsical Halloween goodness.

If you'd like to participate, please read more about it here. It's open to all bloggers out there who want to join in! So join back here next Tuesday for another helping of inspired ideas!

The Naming of Cats

I really like the fact that the sky's the limit when it comes to word beads. There are so many interesting words to add to one's jewelry designs that there's not enough time in the day to come up with all of them.

I made this word pendant a little while ago. It's one of those projects that I feel only I will probably like, but I was compelled to make it, anyway. If you look it up, the word "effanineffable" does not appear in the dictionary. It's a T.S. Eliot-ism, and it appears in his poem "The Naming of Cats" from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The last few lines of the poem go like this:

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Effanineffable seems even more, well, ineffable than the word ineffable itself. I like the thought of being inscrutable (no jokes, please, IHT), of being unable to be expressed in words. After all, at heart, we all have a part of ourselves like that, right? The words suggests that a person has a secret, that there is more to a person than meets the eye. Very feline, in fact. (I like T.S. Eliot, did you guess?)

So that's my word for the day: effanineffable. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Eye of Newt

The Swell-est designer in my Ornament Thursday group, Alexa, has decided to put together a separate Tuesday group for the month of October to celebrate her favorite holiday - Halloween. Yes! How could I resist joining? To celebrate Terrorific Tuesday this week, I put together this super-simple stringing project: Once in a Blue Moon.

Now I really love the popular combination of green and purple, but up until today it always reminded me of spring, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love, etc. I thought it would be interesting to explore the darker side of this color combo - the gothic side of green and purple, so to speak. I rummaged around in my stash and came up with the perfect puce bead from Sarah Moran. It's one of her foil-dotty tab beads, and it reminded me strongly of an unblinking eye (an eye of newt, perhaps):

See? I then added one of my cobweb pendants for a little atmosphere. To finish the piece, I decided on very dark purple amethyst rounds with one large blue lucite bead to suggest the blue moon. The large toggle clasp has two pieces of blood red garnet in the bar. So there you have it - my version of gothic purple and green (okay, with a little blue and red thrown in for good measure).

I will post all of the lovely, dark, wonderful Terrorific Tuesday links on, well, Tuesday. If you would like to learn more about the project and join in the fun, please visit Alexa's blog. (Thanks, Alexa!)

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Here's what's been cooking at our house this week - some of the SO's favorite foods (except for the eggs - he likes making the construction paper kind but not eating the real ones. Speaking of which, does anyone know where I can find sturdy Easter-egg type eggs? The SO keeps cracking the inexpensive plastic ones we keep for the holiday, and he gets really upset when I insist on throwing the broken ones away. Anyway, where was I?)

Hear are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week: Jewelry Making
Yippy! Tammy is thrilled that another resin experiment is a success. This time she's making Halloween style resin cabs.

Art Bead Scene
A Not-So-Scary Jangles Bracelet.

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Book Review of Simply Modern Jewelry-its simply GORGEOUS!!!

Bead&Button Magazine
Tea gets inspired about beaded shoes

Bead&Button Magazine
Tea gets inspired about beaded shoes

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer's been playing with resin, see what's new

Jewelry & Beading
After being named Darth Pyro by her family, Cyndi wants to know what your darth beading name is!

Katie's Beading Blog
Katie went a little crazy buying beads...take a peak inside her shopping bag!

Metal Lid Pendant
Carmi cuts up a thin sheet of metal to make a pendant.

Savvy Crafter--Candie Cooper
Check out Candie's piece, Migration, in the new Fall Issue of's been quite a trip!

Snap out of it , Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean cheats a bit--this tiny creation isn't exactly jewelry unless you wore it as a pin. Which would be quite a conceivable thing to do!

Strands of Beads
Melissa finds inspiration at Kid Robot

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Take Me To Your...

...well, you know. Sorry for being absent - My cold has been dragging on and dragging me along with it. I took the Short One to the pediatrician today, to make sure he hadn't acquired a chest infection of any kind, and the doctor said we just got unlucky and were experiencing bad back-to-back colds. Oh, well, at least the SO is okay. We just have to drag through the next week, I think.

At any rate, here's some new work from me. When we were in NYC, we took the SO down to SoHo to buy him a toy at Kid Robot. I don't know if anyone else is familiar with Japanese "art toys" or not. They are basically rather off-beat, often cartoonish sculptural works. They are sometimes weird, sometimes offensive (at least to me - you may feel differently), but many of them are truly wacky and wonderful. Anyway, the SO came away with this little white alien guy with an outsie bellybutton (the SO calls him a "white alligator" and he currently lives with the SO's safari animal set). I ended up turning the trip into a shopping opportunity for myself as well, though, and bought several zipper pulls and a cell phone charm, thinking they might make an interesting charm bracelet. The zipper pulls come in "blind boxes", meaning that you won't know which zipper pull - out of a series - you are purchasing until you open the box. However, I found that the bright colors of the ones I obtained worked reasonably well together.

Thanks for visiting!