Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Here's a little seasonal artwork from the Short One. He amused himself after making this by picking off the turkey's googly eyes then complaining vociferously that the turkey was "broken" after the eye came off. I have no idea when the eye came off again, but this guy is clearly destined to be a one-eyed turkey for the holiday.

As I mentioned earlier, I've decided not to sweat the holidays, and I'm taking the week off. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving! In the meantime, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week:

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Finding Inspiration – Andrew explores a few examples of where he discovers inspiration and how it relates to the jewelry he makes. Jewelry Making
New Gathering Leaf Project - Use a chipboard sticker and some wire to make a leaf necklace for fall or to wear at the Thanksgiving table.

Bead&Button Magazine
Always wanted to publish a beading or jewelry-making book? Kalmbach Publishing Co. is looking for authors.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi decides to make a name tag she'll actually wear.

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer's showing some funky sticks for your hair this week.

Naughty Secretary Club
Naughty Secretary Club and Etsy team up for a fun bracelet how-to project and a shopping guide for kitschy cool jewelry supplies.

Strands of Beads
Melissa gets inspired by a favorite strip from "Peanuts."

Art Bead Scene reviews their favorite tools
This tool gets around!

CHA Winter Show and Trends
Join Katie as she shares trends from the upcoming CHA Winter Show.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
It's not beaded, but it's quite entertaining! Carter shares some of her other creative talents this week.

Jewelry & Beading
Kerry Wilkinson works with resin and...fruit? Well, ok, it's really polymer clay!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean could easily picture herself as the lead in the book, The Secret Garden. Come play dress up with some jewelry using Green Girl Studios components!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Celestial Globe

I took a series of photos for this post, but most of them came out massively blurry for some reason, so I gave up and have reverted back to my usual image-lite blogging. This photo, however, does require a little explanation, so please bear with me.

A while back, Carter Seibels held a little contest to name one of her completely gorgeous lampworked necklaces (I couldn't link directly to the necklace, but it's the one in the upper left hand corner). I should probably save this as a random fact about me for the next time I get tagged, but it is a peculiar part of my personality that I can never resist a naming game. What I come up with may not be terribly apt, mind you, but I love coming up with names (which, frankly, made the ultimate name game - what moniker to saddle the Short One with - difficult, as H. and I came up with dozens of candidates, but that's another story). Anyway, having spent two years playing with the SO's toys, Carter's lampworked beads reminded me very strongly of jungle animals. I also knew from her blog post that Carter had been specifically working to create the beautiful rectangular shapes of the beads. So I came up with "Geometric Safari", which - as you can see on the link - is the name she ultimately chose for the piece.

As my prize, she sent me a beautiful sea green hollow bead with a smaller lampworked bead inside of it. I was smitten with it the minute I saw it - the bead seemed very kinetic, and I wanted to preserve the sense of movement in it. The construction also reminded me vaguely of a spherical astrolabe, also called an armillary sphere (if you are unfamiliar with spherical astrolabes, you can see an illustration of one here). I am a huge fan of historical mechanical instruments of all kinds, but none are quite so romantic to my mind as astrolabes and orreries, those devices that were created to simulate the motions of heavenly spheres.

I sat down to think of how to turn this concept into a working pendant and ultimately came up with the above. Initially, I wanted to have two concentric fine silver rings, but the size would have made the whole thing unwieldy, so I settled for one. The ring is stamped on each side with a favorite quote from (who else) Shakespeare's "The Tempest": "We are such stuff / As dreams are made on". I managed to preserve a sense of motion in the piece - the bead spins, the ring swivels (actually, I keep thinking that the whole thing would probably make a fun cat toy if it weren't so, well, fragile and expensive). Sometimes, in my design process, the end result doesn't really resemble the initial concept all that much, but I think it translates fairly well here.

Many thanks to Carter Seibels for the beautiful bead and the great inspiration!

And thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Piece of Pi

So, as I was saying yesterday, I decided to make this little mathematical frippery. What, you say, is it? Think back to your geometry class in high school. Think circles, think circumference, think area. Yup, it's pi (taken out to eight decimal places). I couldn't help myself. I've been wanting to make one for ages. It's one of those pieces that probably only I will ever like, but I do like it. Before you know it, I'll be making conic sections jewelry. Sometimes I have to follow my inner geek.

Plus, the Husband, who is an engineer, finds it amusing.

On other fronts, we made pumpkin squares at the SO's Mom and tot cooking class today. With cream cheese icing. I have to say - we both really enjoy this class, but I am finding, given that most of the stuff we make are baked goods, that it's quite detrimental to my waistline. The old equator has definitely been expanding over the past month and, for once, it's not because I scarfed down leftover Halloween candy. If only I could find it in me to NOT EAT SWEET STUFF when it's in the house. This is the reason I hardly ever bake anymore. I would appreciate finding a little willpower in my Christmas stocking this holiday season, please.

Believe it or not, I have even more new work tomorrow. (I should mention at this juncture, however, that I am going to be taking next week off for Thanksgiving.) Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Moons of Saturn Got in My Eyes

Here's new work from me - the first bead in a series. If I were actually organized about this, I'd wait until I had more of the beads finished to show them as a group, but given my current stunning rate of progress, that could be at the end of 2009, so I'm just going to introduce them on the blog as I get around to making them.

The inspiration behind this is a bit oddball - it comes from the quote above, which Lucy van Pelt said to Charlie Brown to explain why she (yet again) managed to miss catching that pop-fly ball during (yet another) sad baseball game. I can't really explain why I was thinking of this particular strip, except to say that, as a child, I was a huge "Peanuts" fan. I love comics and I still read them (for one thing, I started re-reading "Calvin and Hobbes" after we found out that we were going to be having a little boy), but I don't think I've loved any comic as much as "Peanuts". From the quote, I started thinking about, well, Saturn, and the solar system, astronomy, life, the universe and everything and decided that maybe I'd start out by making a Saturn bead.

This is kind of embarrassing to confess, but this was actually my first time using cork clay. Call me a paranoid mother (well, I am a paranoid mother), but I haven't wanted to use it, due to potential toxicity of the fumes during burnout. (If this is all Greek to you, let me just say that cork clay is sort of a modeling compound used by metal clay artists to create a base for larger beads. The cork clay burns away in the kiln leaving a nice hollow silver bead behind.) As it is, I ensured that the SO wouldn't be anywhere near the kiln (I usually ensure this anyway, for obvious reasons) during firing or for an extended period after firing, to give the garage a chance to ventilate.

I'm pretty happy with the results, although the bead is slightly heavier than I intended. As you may know, I hardly ever use a ruler, and I don't really like perfect geometric shapes in my work. I wanted a somewhat rough-cut, rugged looking sphere here. I added a heavy patina and then polished the bead, to bring out a little depth.

Believe it or not, I should have more new work to show tomorrow. It's a bit of a bagatelle, a frippery of a bead (in a geeky sort of way), but it's one that I've been wanting to make for a while, now.

Thanks for visiting!

ps. I almost forgot! For any knitting fans out there, it's Vickie Howell's 35th birthday today. To celebrate, she's giving away 35 fantastic craft books from Lark. To wish her a Happy Birthday and enter, please go here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

For your appreciation (applause, please), the Short One's first ceramic plate. Well, okay, I rolled out and cut the clay for him and we consulted on the octopus in the corner (it was supposed to be a frog, but the SO made the artistic decision not to stop with four legs), but the SO did the stamping on this own and chose the color glazes on his own. Although I had to touch up the painting to ensure coverage over the plate, placement of the colors was also pretty much the SO's decision. Not bad for a first try, eh? He's awfully proud of it. He carries it around to show everyone who visits (which makes me nervous, as he has no concept that it will break if dropped and that the pieces could cut him - I am one step behind him when he runs to pick it up each time).

I hope everyone had a great weekend. We did, despite the cold weather around these parts. I just took a kiln-load out, so I hope to have a couple new pieces to show off this week. In the meantime, here are your intriguine bead and jewelry links for the week:

Venetian Glass = Yummy!
Katie adds Venetian Glass into the mix to create a new fall favorite. Check it out!

Strands of Beads
Melissa remembers an important trip through the (what else?) beads she collected.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean is all kinds of entertained reviewing Jennifer Perkins' book, The Naughty Secretary Club

Savvy Crafter-Candie Cooper
Warm up your Thanksgiving table with these festive fall candle holders.

Naughty Secretary Club
Do you tune in to watch Mad Men each week? Ever pay attention to the jewelry the ladies in the office wear? You might just spot a Naughty Secretary Club Pencil Pusher Necklace.

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi doesn't often play with clay, but she figured out how to make a really easy pendant that she really likes!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer is showing a easy brooch project.

Contacting New Venues
Another Marketing Monday and Barbe gives some tips about how to contact new venues to sell your work.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter talks about the importance of getting yourself out there!

Carmi's Lucky Chips Necklace
Carmi glams up some old poker chips for this new necklace.
Naomi from BeadStyle visits Target and suggests that you can create jewelry that is as current as theirs.

Art Bead Scene: Stick or Non-Stick at Studio Saturday?
Take a tour of Art Bead Scene Editor, Lynn Davis's sticky studio!

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

Last week's post got me thinking just generally about the sentimental value of beads and how we commemorate special occasions with beads or jewelry. I dug around in my stash and came up with these - a carved Japanese boxwood bead and a set of three raku beads. They're a pretty nondescript collection, but they have a lot of sentimental value to me. You see, I bought them during my honeymoon in Hawaii.

My husband and I were married on the Big Island of Hawaii several years ago. Neither one of us had ever been to Hawaii, but we liked the thought of having our wedding there (and thereby making the islands special for us in that way). Also, as I think I've said a gazillion times already on this blog (not that I dwell on the issue or anything), the Husband wasn't interested in wearing a suit to the wedding, so I told him that showing up barefoot in casual clothes would be fine with me if we actually held the ceremony on the beach in Hawaii. We ended up marrying four years and 364 days after our first meeting. It made the anniversary slightly easier to remember, although one of us has always suspected the other party of arranging things so as to be able to claim that we married within four years of meeting rather than five. Some people are just naturally suspicious that way.

After the ceremony, we stayed at the resort for another week to relax and tour around. Despite the fact that we were on our honeymoon, and despite the fact that I wasn't even really designing jewelry back then, I still managed to locate and spend time in the one bead store on the island (whose name completely escapes me - anyone know of it?). I had never seen Japanese boxwood beads before, so I was completely smitten by how intricately carved the beads are. Also, I've always loved raku pottery, so I gravitated pretty naturally to those three beads. This small collection is still a really a nice memento of our time in Hawaii, and I know, once I design with them, that whatever piece I make will continue to serve as a reminder of a particularly happy event in my life.

I have to imagine that most of us search out beads and bead stores (or yarn and yarn stores - or both, come to think of it) when we travel. What are your favorite beady mementos from trips? I'd love to know.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Short One's Necklace

I know I usually save the Short One's artwork to show off for my Bead & Jewelry Link Love post, but I couldn't resist sharing this one today. His first necklace - yay! This is not my doing - when I picked him up yesterday at his Mom's Morning Away class, he was wearing it (although he later complained that it was "itchy" - which I could see, with the square and triangular-shaped construction paper). I'm so proud. Of course, the SO being the SO, he immediately demanded more beads, and the house is now littered with tri-colored pasta, but we will discreetly gloss over that fact.

I ended up having an emergency root canal yesterday. It wasn't completely unexpected, as I'd had some weird sensitivity issues with one tooth for a while. Also, I really liked my endodontist - she was so fast and efficient that I didn't even realize she was shooting me up with novacaine until after my mouth started going numb. Still, I have to say, getting dental work done (especially something like this) is probably on my list of ten least favorite things to do, along with talking to car salespeople and selling (or buying) a house (yet three more random facts about me).

On the beading front, I'd been setting aside what little time I've had for the past couple weeks to work up new proposals for various magazines. With one exception, I've been getting almost unilaterally shot down on each piece as I submitted it. So depressing, but I feel that rejection is pretty much par for the course, at least some of the time. If anything, it's made me set out with grim determination to try again (in fact, I've been so grimly determined that I'm halfway expecting one of the long-suffering editors I have worked with to finally tell me to Give It A Rest for a couple months. I hope this won't happen, but you never know.)

Oh, and I need your help with Christmas gifts, please. Does anyone own (or live with someone who owns) a Wii? The Husband will be getting one for Christmas (it's not a surprise - and he never reads my blog anyway, so I feel safe in mentioning this). He's been wanting one ever since the console came out, so he's pretty excited, but neither of us is "up" enough on the games to know what's especially good. We are also trying to find games that are toddler friendly, so that the SO can participate. We've identified a cooking game (which we think the SO will like to try) and a carnival games game (and, of course, Wii Fit, which no one seems to have in stock for less than $100 right now). Does anyone have any recommendations? The way I see it, the family will probably resort to getting him games (it seems like an easy and natural choice for them), and I need some good intel to pass along to them. Thanks for your help!

And thanks for visiting! I know the blog has been a bit barren lately, but I'm hoping to shake off this slump and have a bit more substantial content henceforth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stop and Go

It's been so difficult these days to find enough cumulative time to do new work. I'm putting more finished pieces right now (rather than making beads). I have a bunch of ideas, including one involving my Road of Life traffic light pendant, above, but I just haven't had been able to spend much time on them all. I know this time crunch is just going to get worse with the approach of the holidays, and it drives me batty. Not to mention that when I do find the time, my Muse just ends up thumbing her nose at me and not cooperating.

On the plus side, part of the reason I'm in a time crunch is that the Short One's personality just keeps getting bigger and bigger and demanding more attention. I find it fascinating watching him as his imagination expands exponentially. Even as recently as last month, he wasn't really engaged in more than very rudimentary pretend play. All of a sudden, though, his thoughts have just exploded and everything is grist to his mill right now - simple objects stand in for complex machines, and he has learned that he can use imaginary objects with his actual toys. I love watching this, even though I can tell it's still a struggle for him to find enough words to express all of this to me and his Daddy. I have pretty much no prior experience with young kids (shh, don't tell the SO), so the whole parenthood thing has been a complete revelation to me that way.

I hope everyone had a good weekend. I have a few new stash acquisitions to show off, plus a couple jewelry making ideas, but I'm afraid that will have to wait until later this week. Thanks for your patience!

ps. By the way, thanks to everyone who has been reading my post on ivory vintage beads. I think that entry has garnered more comments (and substantial comments, too) than anything else I've written. It's been a very interesting discussion!

pps. I just found out that today is a Refugees United Blog Day initiative. I've added the relevant badge to my sidebar. Please do click on it to find out more.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

Hello, there. I hope everyone is having a nice weekend. We took the Short One to the Legoland Discovery Center this morning and a fun time was had by all. The SO went on his first amusement park-style ride and first movie (3D movie, even - although H. and I had to hold his 3D glasses in place for the whole movie). He loved it. It's a bit, shall we say, overpriced, not to put too fine a point on it, but it was definitely fun and a great activity for a crummy mid-30s with snow flurries kind of day.

Here's a different kind of crumb-y - the apple cake that the SO and I made at our Mom and Tot cooking class this week. We liked it but think that we could've done without the too-sweet topping (well, I found the topping too sweet - it might have been more of a texture issue on the SO's part). The SO is quite an avid baker at home and seems to really enjoy cooking class (which takes place in the middle of a play room, so the kids can go wild when they get tired of mixing batter). I enjoy watching the SO interact with the other kids, although he does have a dismaying tendency to try to direct everyone else's play time ("Which one of you does he take after?" one mother asked pointedly - yeah, that would be me, the anal one.)

On other fronts, the SO has, hilariously, taken to one line Steve Martin impressions. We have a disc of the Best of the Muppet Show that a friend gave us many years ago. It contains the episode with Steve Martin in which he does a version of the balloon animals skit. The other day, the SO was messing with strips of construction paper and suddenly held up a bunch of them and pronounced, with the exact same intonation as Martin, "Puppy dog!" We nearly keeled over. I suppose if he has to imitate something, there could be much worse things to imitate.

Anyway, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week. Thanks for visiting! Jewelry Making
Looking for some early holiday jewelry ideas? Start now with these simple projects that will apeal to a range of fashion tastes.

Art Bead Scene
Ribbon Isn't Just for Wrapping Presents!

Art Jewelry Magazine
A reader tests Art Jewelry's acid-free etching technique

Barbe Saint John - New Treasures from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe is giving a way a copy of "Get Your Sparkle On', find out how to win it!

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
New designs for Fall are live on the Divali website; and Carter gets a technology facelift!

Get ready for the holidays with Katie's great gift ideas
Check out three of Katie's favorite gifts to give (and create!) this holiday season!

Jewelry & Beading
Using multiple techniques, Cyndi has made an autumn necklace that warms her heart now that the days are cold!

Naughty Secretary Club
Jen invites collage artist Traci Bautista to Austin for a little paint meets jewelry adventure.

Savvy Crafter-Candie Cooper
Candie's teaching at Ornamentea---see the class projects and details on her blog...

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
The day before the election, Jean urged us all to vote, which we did! On a jewelry note, she mentioned her fun article concerning gift ideas for the upcoming holidays which she wrote for Soft Flex!

Strands of Beads
Melissa ponders ethical issues involving some vintage beads.

Vacation Necklace

Carmi thinks nature provides pre-drilled shells just for her.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Ethical Problem

I've had an ethical issue sitting in my bead drawer since, well, since I had a bead drawer. Although I have only been designing jewelry for a short time, like many women I have had an interest in jewelry since I was a child, an interest that probably started with my many forays into my mother's jewelry box. I remember spending time with my mother examining the jewelry she collected as a young woman being a "special occasion". Her box was always interesting, and I loved each piece: an amethyst cocktail ring, a finely carved jade Buddha, porcelain rose earrings and enamel pieces with delicate mother-of-pearl inlay were among the treasures I remember.

When I became a teenager, she gave most of the jewelry to me, including this bracelet. My mother purchased this piece when she was traveling in Japan as a young woman, some time in the 1950s. These lovely hand-carved beads are genuine ivory. Mom was doing a little cleaning a few years ago and stumbled upon the box in my old room. Since the elastic had gone on the bracelet, she brought it with her when visiting and gave it to me, thinking that I might like to use the beads for other projects. And they've sat around, first in a drawer - and then in my bead box, once I started a bead box - ever since.

I love these beads - they always remind me of my childhood (and back then the elastic was still good, and I remember wearing them quite happily) and of images of my mother as a young woman. Even though they cannot be classified as antique - I believe a piece has to be pre-1948 to be considered antique - they have been in my family for over 50 years, and they are definitely pre-ban ivory. Still, I have qualms about what to do with them. I initially thought that, since I know for a fact that this ivory is vintage, it wouldn't be a problem to use them to design new jewelry. However, to be honest, I don't want to do anything that might be construed as promoting the desirability of ivory. Due to the sheer sentimental value of the beads, I do not intend to discard or destroy them. However, I've been on the fence about what to do with them for a while, now.

Does anyone else have vintage pieces like this - toroiseshell or ivory, for example - that you've acquired or inherited from family members or have simply had in your possession for a long time? If so, if you have similar feelings about these pieces, what did you decide to do with them? I'd be interested in hearing your stories.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simply Beads - Even More Shameless Self-Promotion

Would you believe I have another published project this month? It's my first (but not last) with Simply Beads (the December 2008 issue). I will be appearing in one final issue (Stringing, Winter 2008) before the year is out and then that will be it for 2008. Once again, the photography and layout are gorgeous in this issue. I have a secret obsession with Christmas-themed craft magazines, so I was bound to like this one. Plus, the issue contains great projects from designers I admire, like Melanie Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio, Jennifer Heynen of Jangles, Impatient Crafter Margot Potter, Savvy Crafter Candie Cooper, Katie Hacker and Barb Switzer. Please check it out if you get the chance!

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bead and Jewelry Link Love

As you can see, it was make-a-silly-hat day at our house this week. Did everyone have a fun Halloween? The Short One was completely beside himself as all of these strangely dressed kids came up to his house and took the brightly colored things in the bowl that his Mommy wouldn't let him touch. He spent twenty minutes putting on his shoes, taking them off, putting them back on and staring out the back window waiting for Daddy to show up to take him trick-or-treating. And to think we actually were considering not going trick-or-treating at all, since the SO doesn't eat c-a-n-d-y yet.

H and I had discussed how to handle the whole candy issue and had settled on a little quid pro quo for the SO. While he was excitedly dragging H around the neighborhood, I wrapped a little Playmobil race car and driver in white tissue paper and pasted on two black construction paper circles and a smiley face to make a ghost. When the SO came home, we negotiated a trade - the brightly colored thingys in the SO's pumpkin basket for a present from the Great Pumpkin. It worked (huzzah)! The SO clearly felt that a new toy was much better than some brightly colored pieces of paper with lumpy things inside. I imagine that this little trick-for-a-treat will only work this year, but I also imagine he will have a very good idea what c-a-n-d-y is by next year anyway, so it will all be a moot point.

Anyway, here are your intriguing bead and jewelry links for the week:

1000 Jewelry Inspirations Book Review
Barbe gets run over with inspiration from this book.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene Gives a Primer on Jewelry Displays, just in time for your Holiday Show!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi salutes the sock monkey with a fun to wear necklace.

Carter Seibels for Divali Glass Jewelry
Carter gives us an inside glimpse at setting up for craft shows at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Santa Monica

Get Your Bead On!
Check out Katie's latest news and notes!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Holiday or Anytime Ornament Project

Jewelry & Beading
Take a look at the beautiful way artist Beth Cummings has combined photography and jewelry!

Katie from Art Jewelry magazine and studio safety
Read about safe studio practices during this busy jewelry-making season

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean intervews Sara Hardin of Soft Flex Company for her wonderful Links collection of interview stars!

Strands of Beads
Melissa reads a little Sylvia Plath for inspiration this week

Thanks for visiting!