Monday, December 13, 2010
The box was conceived by bead artist Heather Powers, who cleaned off her work table one day and came up with the idea of sending this box of beads on a trip around the country to see how long she could keep it going.
I've watched the box travel all around the country through Facebook and the blogs of the other artists.
If you want a crack at the box, you can leave a comment on the blog post of the current holder of the box, Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio.
Wish me luck!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I think it's the biggest tree we've ever had since we moved in together back in - yikes! - 2000. And Colden had so much fun decorating it with us this year - and then knocking down the candy garland, and shaking the branches so he could see the ornaments bobbing about precariously... Tom even took the little piece he had to nip off the top and stuck it in a vase so that Colden could have a "Christmas tree" right in his bedroom! Too funny!
Monday, December 06, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
And on that note, in my blog post from earlier today, I mentioned something about a new project, and here it is: The Messy Beaders' Club!
That photo I posted on Facebook of my messy bead table really hit a nerve - it seems that hobbyists and professionals alike all have issues with messy work areas!
My favorite comment on the photo came from Jill Wiseman of Tapestry Beads. She wrote, "Oh, Jen, this makes me love you."
And the idea for the blog and the Facebook page came from Diane Hyde of Designer's Findings, who coined the name "The Messy Beaders' Club" and gave me the idea to start a blog about messiness, organization and creativity.
So, there it is. Check out the blog at the link above, and submit a picture of your messy beading space so you can be featured on the blog!
Embrace the chaos!
So, the first thing I want to share are these AMAZING beaded beads, called Blooming Beads, designed by my buddy Carol Dean Sharpe of Sand Fibers. She originally designed these for a birthday project for another beader, and then lucky for us, she decided to write up the directions. You can purchase the tutorial for these through her Etsy shop by clicking on the picture. She's got "Volume One" in the title of the tutorial, which makes me think - dear God, there are going to be MORE variations on these?!
They are so much fun to make - once you get the basic idea, they go fast. I found myself sitting at the dining room table one evening while Colden was sick, exhausted and really craving sleep, but I had my Blooming Bead on my work tray and I kept telling myself, "Just one more petal...just one more petal..." I had to force myself to put them away for a few days while I get through this last show tomorrow at Keene Central School and then get caught up on the other beading that I need to get done!
And this is what my work table in the living room looks like these days. Am I in project overload? Definitely. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I posted this pic on Facebook yesterday, much to the delight of my beading friends, and one of them gave me an idea which I will bring to fruition this afternoon after I get my work done... Stay tuned!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It started on Thursday morning when Colden woke up with a fever of 103 and a runny nose. We took him to the pediatrician who didn't see anything obviously wrong with him, and we decided to cancel Thanksgiving with Tom's folks to let Colden rest. (I also woke up feeling pretty crappy that day with a runny nose and a sore throat, so I needed some rest, too.)
The next morning, Colden's fever hit 104.7 and I panicked. Sandy came over and held Colden and let him sleep while I packed a bag and we got ready to go back to the pediatrician.
The next few days are just a blur in my memory - trips to the pediatrician, my fever climbing and my sore throat getting worse and worse, and our frustration at the pediatricians' refusal to give us an antibiotic for Colden because they kept insisting that what he had was viral.
Finally, yesterday, I woke up with my throat so sore and swollen that I couldn't really swallow. I took some Motrin to take care of the pain and went to the walk-in clinic where I'd been a few times to have someone check me out and give me an antibiotic - I was sure that this was another round of strep throat, which I have had before, and which I seem to get when I'm under a lot of stress.
They tried several times to get a throat culture from me, but every time that swab went near the back of my throat, I threw up. I finally told the p.a. to just give me an antibiotic and send me home, because I was tired of the torture. She looked at me like I was five, shook her head and said, "I can't do that because that's just not good medicine." I nearly jumped off the exam table and strangled her with her own pony tail.
"Oh, but it's good medicine to let me go home with an untreated strep infection?" I countered.
"Well, if it is strep, then we need to quarantine you for 24 hours. You won't be able to go to work -"
"That's fine, because I work from home."
She said that she needed to go talk to her supervisor, the doctor who owned the practice. He's a bit of a horse's ass himself, but that's another story for another time.
I heard them conversing outside and then she came back into the room and told me that I had a few options, one of which was giving me an antibiotic without a throat culture.
"Give me the antibiotic," I said again. She sighed and sat down to write me out a prescription for Amoxicillan which I promptly took to the nearest pharmacy and had filled.
Later that afternoon, I sat down in the exam room with Tom and Colden and the pediatrician and told the pediatrician that we wanted an antibiotic for Colden and we were done waiting for the fever to go down. She FINALLY relented and gave us a prescription for Zithromax.
Now, as a former pharmacy technician, I understand the concerns with antibiotic-resistant infections and superbugs. But this, I think, is ridiculous. We've gone from giving antibiotics out like they were candy to restricting their use like they're controlled substances. Why is it impossible to find a happy medium here?
After just two doses of the antibiotics, the swelling in my throat went away, and I could eat and feel normal again. After just one dose of Colden's antibiotics, his fever broke. Coincidence? Maybe. But we probably could have had a much better weekend if the pediatrician had just given us the damn antibiotic on Saturday instead of making us wait all weekend.
Okay, getting off my soap box now.
Tomorrow, beady stuff, I promise!
Monday, November 22, 2010
We spent Saturday running around in the morning, and then I taught a beading class in the afternoon while Colden took a nap at Oma and Opa's house. Then we had pizza for dinner with Oma and Opa.
While I was reading Colden his bedtime stories, I noticed a strange sound - kind of like the sound that the furnace made last weekend when we discovered that it wasn't working properly. Sure enough, I went downstairs after Colden was asleep and found that it had stopped working again. It was trying to turn itself on, but wasn't igniting properly. So, since I couldn't remember where Tom had hit it with the wooden board to make it start working again, I shut it off at the switch like he told me to and just waited for him to come home.
He arrived home a little earlier than he had planned, mainly because he wanted to see if he could get the thing working again so that we might have hot water intermittently until we could get the replacement part. He did manage to get it working again, but we have to keep an eye on it and as soon as we hear it making that noise, we have to shut it down for a while. Hoping we can get that replacement part sooner rather than later!
His hunting trip, however, was a great success, and he came home with his deer tags filled for the year. He was thrilled, and was even able to leave some venison behind with his friends as a thank-you for hosting him this weekend. I had to help him hoist one of the deer up in the garage yesterday afternoon, something I have to admit I never thought I'd find myself doing. But the good thing is that he now has enough venison to make sausage and jerky, and some really great tender cuts for roasts with is parents. And Colden, of course, looooooves those tender cuts of venison.
Tom took the day off today so that he could butcher and package the venison, so that means that I get to go to Starbucks and edit my newsletter, and that's where I am right now. Peppermint hot chocolate, egg white and feta cheese wrap, Jimmy Eat World, and the view of Main Street from the front window. I'm in heaven, and back in the game!
Aaaaand I'm also having another great sale in my ArtFire shop - 30% off your total purchase by using the code HOHOHO30 at chcekout. That includes my newest piece, the Glamour and Goth beadwoven necklace, with a handmade ceramic cabochon by Marsha Hedrick and those funky onyx gemstone drops! The coupon code is good until December 15, because that's the last date I can guarantee shipping in time for Christmas, and you can use the code more than once.
Shop now for best selection - I have two holiday shows coming up in December and then I won't have any new inventory back in stock until January!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Before Tom left for Plattsburgh (to get a replacement key for the car, which we lost back in July around the time I had the miscarriage), he asked if there was anything I wanted him to bring back. Considering all the b.s. we've been dealing with in the last 24 hours - health insurance company denying the claim from the hospital again, the ineptitude of the hospital billing department and claims manager, and the medical collection agency that called us on behalf of the hospital last night - I suggested something, ANYTHING, with chocolate.
So while I still have a chance, I'm stitching away on these tiny little beaded bezels for the typewriter keys for my beadpunk piece. I'm sorry to say that these two pieces have been sitting half-finished on my work table for far too long, and now that I can finally see the light at the end of the beading tunnel, I'm going to finish them in the next few days!
Whatever it is, it is really ruining my mood today. I think today is going to be a day to get as much beading done as possible, maybe some blogging and article writing, and basically doing whatever I can to divert my attention from the feeling that we're drowning.
I'm very much looking forward to yoga class tonight.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This is, without a doubt, my new all-time favorite scene from a movie. And in particular, my new favorite movie.
To me, this is a movie about trusting yourself and earning the trust of others. It's about knowing who you are and using that knowledge to the fullest. It's about following your heart and doing the right thing.
And mostly, it's a story about a boy and his dragon.
More than once, Tom and I have watched this movie with Colden, and then turned to each other and sighed and said, "Don't you wish that dragons were real?"
Monday, November 15, 2010
I chose the blue and gold cabochon because I don't work with blue very often, and I wanted to see what I could do with it. I was also interested in beading around the cabochon because of it's unusual shape - definitely not your everyday round or oval cabochon!
The fringe and the strap were a bit of a challenge for me. As I wrote previously, my original plan to attach the piece of a brass collar covered in leather didn't work when I discovered that I didn't have the right color of leather and that I lacked the necessary glover's needles for stitching through leather. (The glover's needles have since arrived and worked perfectly for finishing the leather collar!)
I decided to use a variation of flat spiral for the strap, using Czech fire polished beads and some inverted onyx drops from a project I made years ago. The fringe repeats the colors of the cab and uses more of those onyx drops. I tried the piece on and found that the fringe hangs wonderfully from the strap and the cabochon, and the strap is so comfortable to wear that I almost forgot I was wearing it!
The cabochon itself is truly a miniature work of art from Marsha. I love it. It's thin and lightweight, but substantial. The raised texture on it feels wonderful to the touch, and the colors are true and vibrant.
Marsha has some of this style available as slides for beaded and kumihimo ropes, and she'll have some available soon as cabochons. She also has them in red and gold, and has a set available with some of her yummy porcelain cones. Check out her website for all the options, including some other beautiful art nouveau styles of slides and cones!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
In case anyone has been following the adventures of the first Best Little Bead Box, we are now taking applications for the second round of The Best Little Bead Box! You can find the application on the blog by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. Applications should be sent to both me at email@example.com and Carol Dean Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also have the option of including a picture of your very best beadwork.
The applications are all due by December 1, and the announcement of the next 12 beaders will be made on December 15. The next round of the box will start sometime after New Year's and last for 12 weeks.
A big thank-you so far to everyone who is supporting our little project!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I just finished taking over 200 photographs of some of the most amazing beadwork I have ever seen in my entire life. Many of the pieces I've seen in advertisements, online and in books, and it was an incredible experience to be so close to them.
The colors and the forms and the beads were enough to take my breath away. I loved seeing the pieces by Sherry Serafini, Jeannette Cook, Carol Cypher, Robin Atkins, Melissa Grakowsky, Laura McCabe, Suzanne Golden, Jean Campbell, Diane Fitzgerald, Kelly Angeley, Huib Peterson, Carol Perrenoud...
I've seen this piece by Carol Perrenoud for many years, and I think it's one of the first pieces of beadwork I saw that really inspired me to learn how to stitch. It's made with size 20 and 22 seed beads, and the beaded fringe really resembles twisted cotton cord.
It's the kind of beadwork that makes part of me want to go home and just stitch for the rest of the day and the other part of me wants to curl up under the bed and whimper at my lack of talent.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Saturday was full of our usual stuff - housecleaning, cooking, running errands. We were invited to an appetizer party at our friends' new house, so I made a HUGE batch of hummus and we brought along some crackers, carrot and zucchini sticks. We met a lot of cool new people, and got to catch up with some others that we hadn't seen in a long, long time. Colden had a great time playing with some of the other kids, and when we saw him getting cranky around 9, we decided to call it a night. Which was smart, considering that I had to get up early the next morning, and we had that daylight-savings-time thing to consider, too.
Tom woke up on Sunday morning in a full-blown panic. "It's 7:30! You have to get out of here by 8:15!" I asked him if he had set the clocks back before we went to bed, and since he hadn't, we got to relax a little bit.
I came into the kitchen after I got dressed and found my little dude sitting on the kitchen counter, eating an egg sandwich and drinking from a big boy cup! He looked so grown up!
I spent Sunday morning at the annual Hanukkah bazaar up at the temple in Plattsburgh, and it was so much fun. I made some new friends, got to catch up with folks I haven't seen in months, and brought home some yummy lavender salt scrub. It made my hands feel so nice that I actually bought some new nail polish and cutesy, sparkling little flower decals!
Who am I, anyway?!
On the beading side of things, I have FINALLY finished the last two projects for Marsha Hedricks! I wish I could show them to you now, but we've had nothing but rain, snow and sleet for the past 48 hours, and I can't get any decent photographs. The sun is supposed to come out tomorrow for a peek - we'll see what I can do then.
Tonight, I talked to a very old and very dear friend on the phone for a few minutes before The Toddler dragged me away. I miss her so much, I decided that after I finish whatever else I need to do for the evening (blogging, etc.), I am going to set aside all my other work and start on a necklace for her. It features a pendant of Frieda Kahlo that I got from Andrew Thornton. It should be a good necklace.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
I found these awesome onyx upside-down drops that I used a few years ago on a piece I donated to the local PBS station's art auction and thought that they would just look perfect with this handmade porcelain cab. I was right, eh? And I found the perfect shades of turquoise and gold to go with the colors in the cab. I can't help but feel like it's a little bit Goth, a little bit Art Nouveau.
I've got the rest of the beads for the strap laid out in little piles, but I have been having the worst time getting that strap started! I've had about six false starts, fraught with split thread, cracked seed beads, and difficulties with tension in getting the beads to lie just right. I've got another idea in my head for how to execute this strap, I just need to find some time to do it.
And here's the other Plan B:
These turquoise pencil-shaped beads that I got at the Syracuse Gem & Mineral show last summer have been floating around with my "current projects" for a year and a half now, and when I realized that the leather-covered collar was just NOT going to work for the cabochon, my mind instinctively went to this strand of beads. I've also got some turquoise scarab beads leftover from a project I did five or six years ago that have been languishing in a plastic bag in one of my bead cabinets - and they shall languish no more!
Last night, I thought I'd start edging the collar with brick stitch and seed beads and discovered the reason why I don't usually use real leather. (I usually use Sensuede, Ultrasuede or another type of synthetic suede fabric.) When I tried to push my size 12 beading needle through one piece of the leather, it went right into my finger and up underneath my fingernail. If I hadn't been so worried about waking up Colden, I would have screamed in pain. That HURTS.
Hence, my first-ever order to Shipwreck beads this morning included a package of Glover's needles, which are super-sharp, triangle-tipped needles that are designed especially for stitching through leather.
So the turquoise collar is going to be put on hold until I get those needles, because I'm not into self-torture. Not even for my beads!
And on that note, I have to get back to work... Colden is at Oma and Opa's today, and I am trying to get as many patterns, tutorials and articles published on the About.com site as I possibly can before Sunday and my new Starbucks-on-a-Sunday-morning ritual!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Like tonight, for instance.
I had a wonderful morning, but a very trying afternoon that included several joyful utterances of the sentence, "Mommy, I made a BIIIIIIIIIIIG mess!" So when Tom came home and Colden decided to grab a handful of my hair and yank on it for the umpteenth time, I was ordered to take my laptop and go to Starbucks so that I could work and decompress for a while.
But once I got here, I found that working was harder than I had thought it was going to be. Armed with my list of about fourteen articles and hubs that I could publish and put together for the site this week, I found my attention drifting and wandering... I thought I'd catch up on emails to "warm up". Then I thought maybe I'd try to design some Christmas and Hanukkah and winter holiday patterns.
But nothing seems to be flowing right now. I got two bracelet designs finished, and I can publish those tomorrow.
I got one beading stitch tutorial done for tubular netting, to go in the beaded ropes hub and set of articles that I want to publish.
I started writing my review of Jean Campbell's new book. But that stalled when I realized that I could just not find the right words.
It's just not working tonight.
So what I'll probably end up doing is knocking off a couple of blog posts and editing a set of photos or two and then heading home to do the real work tomorrow while Colden is at Oma's house for the day. And then maybe some more on Friday, and maybe some more on Sunday when I come back to Starbucks for my Sunday morning ritual.
Meanwhile, I'm getting into some good old John Mayer. Whatever you might say about John Mayer, I love his voice and his tunes are catchy.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Nobody likes 'em, and it seems that everywhere you turn, the price of things is going up, and sadly, that's the case with my Venus Necklace as well.
I went to place an order for some more pearls from my usual source and found that the price of these pearls is now three times what they were when I ordered my last batch earlier this year!
So, unfortunately, I have ONE of these necklaces left in my inventory right now at $95. After this one is gone, the price is going to go up to $115 to cover the cost of the pearls. You can find this piece in my ArtFire Shop by clicking on the picture, and everything in my store ships for free via Priority Mail.
Tomorrow: pictures of the ceramic cabochon that I posted yesterday. I spent all evening covering a brass collar in turquoise leather only to discover that it was the wrong shade and clashed terribly with the turquoise in the cabochon. On top of that, I didn't have nearly enough of the light turquoise blue seed beads to put an edging on the collar. But as I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep (which shouldn't have been that difficult, seeing as I was completely exhausted), I came up with a better design idea that involves a whole bunch of these cool upside-down teardrops in black onyx that I've had for several years. I won't have much time to work on the piece tonight, but maybe tomorrow...
Oh, and the brass collar that I covered in turquoise leather? Turns out that it's a perfect match for the gorgeous turquoise pencil-shaped stick beads that I bought in Syracuse last summer! So there's another project half done!
Monday, November 01, 2010
I just found out that there is going to be a major contemporary bead art exhibit that opens this Friday at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh, a mere forty five minutes from my home. This is probably the first time that beadwork of this caliber and by so many major artists is going to be shown in the North Country, and I would love to go to the opening and check it out, take some photos and do a writeup for the About.com site.
Unfortunately for me, I also just found out that the show organizer is someone who is so highly toxic to me that I can't stand even the thought of being in the same room with her again, even for just a few minutes. She has said some incredibly hurtful and demeaning things to me in the past, and when we were business partners together in Plattsburgh, she threatened me with legal action and financial ruin when I left the partnership, at her request.
Part of me is saying, well, come on, now, you're a big girl - just go up there, take some photos, and get on with it. The other part of me is saying, forget it - it's not worth the stress of seeing this person again, and there's always the option of taking a quiet Saturday morning or mid-week trip to the gallery to see the exhibition when no one will be around except for me and my camera.
So, that'll give me something to chew on for the next few days.
In the meantime, just in case I do decide to go to the opening, I'll need something beaded and fabulous to wear. So my goal is to have this beaded cab finished and attached to a leather collar before Friday afternoon. Can I do it? Stay tuned!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
When we were at the library last weekend, I stumbled upon a few books for Colden by Ezra Jack Keats, whose work I remember from when I was a kid and just learning to read.
I told the librarian how I had forgotten how much I loved reading these books when I was kid, and how excited I was to introduce them to my son. She asked me if I'd read this biography about Keats, written several years after his death. She said that it was actually written for middle-schoolers, but that it was a great read, and she was right.
This is the story of Ezra's life, written from interviews and essays that he left behind, and I enjoyed reading about the life of this wonderful artist, from his upbringing in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the time he spent painting in Paris to his first paying job as an artist for a comic book company.
I don't think I ever realized what an important children's author he was - I just loved reading his books. So now I get the fun in introducing my own son to his books. I think maybe "The Snowy Day" will be our next bedtime story as we head into winter!
It's the day before Halloween, and earlier this week, it was in the high 70s - warm enough that I had windows and doors open and was spotted wearing a tank top with my cargo pants while Colden and I ran around the backyard in the autumn sunshine.
Today, though, it's cold. It was raining in Jay when I left for Lake Placid, and as I approached Whiteface, I saw that it was capped with snow. There's snow on the ground in Lake Placid, and most of the rooftops are covered, too. The cars sitting idle at the gas station have snow collected at the base of their windshields.
So, it's winter.
And while some people might despair that the warm weather is gone for another seven or eight months, I'm actually okay with that. Yes, I love the warm mornings and the smell of the breeze coming through the windows in the house, but I also love the cold. I love the warmth of a fire in the wood stove. I love a steaming hot bowl of butternut squash and apple soup, and I love the feeling of snuggling down under a fleece blanket at night.
I think I actually need the cold. I don't feel complete without it. I've been to warmer climates during the winter months - places like Houston and Los Angeles - and it's always left me feeling off-balance until I get home to where it's cold.
Some days, I feel like I wrap that cold around me like a cocoon to comfort me. It gives me a reason to spend time with family and friends. It gives me inspiration to find color in the grey, rainy afternoons.
And when it snows, well, that's just magic. Seeing the world on a bright, sunny winter morning after a snowstorm is just pure magic.
I don't think I could live in a place without being able to really see the changing seasons. Being able to watch the world changing around me gives me a real sense of place, and it makes me feel like I'm really a part of this Earth.
Friday, October 29, 2010
This is another one of Marsha Hedrick's new designs. This dragonfly slide is lightweight, but substantial enough to hold the necklace together. And it works perfectly for the right angle weave rope that I stitched for it - it felt like a soft mesh necklace when I tried it on to check the length.
These slides by Marsha come in other colors - check out Marsha's website for more options.
As with Marsha's other pieces, I was once again truly impressed with the quality of the workmanship. The piece was well-sculpted and lightweight. It hangs perfectly on the beaded rope that I made for it, and it looks fabulous when worn.
I'm working on finishing up the last rope that uses a triangle-shaped slide and cones - maybe this weekend I'll have it done.
As I stitch up each rope, I'm photographing tutorials that will eventually go on the About.com site as part of a big hub about beaded ropes and how to make them.
And, of course, I'll have this one listed in my ArtFire shop soon!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Porcelain artist Marsha Hedricks contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in seeing some of her newest designs. I've loved Marsha's work ever since I saw her adorable little snow babies beads at Beadin' Path, and I jumped at the chance to design and create a series of beaded ropes with her newest components.
Marsha's work is truly extraordinary - her pieces are so thin and lightweight, but extremely durable. Her colors are beautiful (and easy to match with my seed beads!), and the textures of these pieces make them just a delight to hold in your hand.
I chose to do beadwoven ropes with her pieces, but they'll work just as well if you like to do kumihimo.
There are so many things about these pieces that I like - but the thing that I like the best is that there are holes in the cones so that you can wire-wrap your pieces instead of just gluing them on. I've never had a very good experience when it comes to gluing jewelry components together, and I always prefer to use wrapped loops when it comes to assembling pieces. With these cones, you can stitch the beadwork (or kumihimo) to an eyepin and then pull the eyepin through the hole in the cone to fasten it with a wrapped loop! I think that makes for a much better constructed piece of jewelry.
This is the first of four pieces I've designed using her components - three beaded ropes, and a leather collar that showcases an incredible porcelain cabochon!
You can see all of Marsha's newest slides and cones in her online store, Amazing Porcelain, and you can read her blog at Marsha's Porcelain Art.
She's got more new designs coming in the next few weeks!
And if you like this piece, you can find it in my ArtFire shop by clicking on the picture.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Work is what I'm doing this morning, mostly to the soundtrack of my favorite tunes by Jimmy Eat World. This is one of my new faves.
I'm kickin' ass and takin' names. Got a new set of graphics done. They're not sparkling, but they are a hell of a lot better than what I've been able to do in the past. I'm working on editing my newsletter, editing my user paths and landing page and other site maintenance stuff, and gathering thoughts for some new articles.
Oh, yeah, baby. I'm in the zone.
This is what solitude does for me, and I enjoy it.
I was the only car on the road for most of my drive through Wilmington Notch. It is dark and grey and cold and raining this morning. It's exactly what a Sunday morning in the Adirondacks should be in late October. I saw one car at one of the parking areas near some trailheads, and I thought about the person who parked their car there and then trekked off into the forest there. I know there are a couple of lean-tos up the trail, and I wondered if that person was alone in the lean-to, if they had spent the night there, and if they were feeling the same wonderful feeling of solitude that I felt.
A lot on my mind this morning before I get down to work. I have a tutorial to write and publish, and then some site maintenance to do, and then a newsletter to edit before tomorrow morning.
I started working on a piece last night that I will be auctioning off to help raise money for Andrew Thornton's medical bills. While I am amazed and encouraged by the huge outpouring that has occurred since Andrew announced his diagnosis a few weeks ago, I'm still so sad and disheartened by the fact that this kind of thing is still necessary in this country. We still have no public option for health care, and that means that an independent artist like Andrew has to rely on the good hearts of so many people for his medical care. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I would gladly pay extra taxes to make sure that people like Andrew have access to decent health care in this country.
Last night, I finished the first beaded rope for the projects I'm working on for Marsha Hedrick. I stayed up way past my bedtime working on it, because I just felt the piece pulling me towards finishing it. It's been over a week since I started it, and I was really worried that I was going to run out of seed beads before I finished it. I was torn between going to bed and getting some much-needed sleep or finishing the piece - lucky for me, Colden let me sleep for about two hours before he woke up and needed a diaper change.
And so that made me think about one thing that's been on my mind lately, how I worry about Colden growing up with a crazy artist for a mother. Mothers aren't supposed to play their music too loud in the car when they're alone, or get up at 2 a.m. to sketch out design ideas before they disappear...
I want to raise my son to be happy, creative, well-adjusted. I want him to have the confidence in himself to pursue in life what is going to make him happy. I want him to have a good set of values and morals to guide him. I want him to delight in diversity and marvel at everything the world has to offer.
It's a pretty big job.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I'm nearly finished with the first beaded rope for the projects I'm working on for Marsha Hedrick. Colden looked at it last night and said, "Oh! Mommy's making a big, green worm!" and then he wanted to hug and kiss the worm while I was working on it. Which was adorable at first, but then wasn't so adorable when I couldn't tug the worm out of his hands...
No energy tonight. Colden had a fever the last two nights, and it was all I could do to keep him comfortable. The Motrin helped, and the pediatrician said that it was probably viral since the fever disappeared during the day. They also told us that they have seen lots of weird viruses, colds and flu going around, and it's not even the end of October yet. Still on the fence about getting Colden his flu shot, we'll have to talk about that tomorrow...
Thursday, October 21, 2010
So now it's about 2:30 in the afternoon. The sun has been playing hide and seek all day. (Which has wreaked havoc on my photographs.) The wood stove has the house at a comfy 72 degrees, and I can see the snow flurries coming down outside.
I'm in the middle of resizing and upload photos, writing out materials lists, and trying to get the needle crafts newsletter edited. I'll try to get the blogging done this evening, and maybe get a few tutorials and maybe a few quick articles up this evening, too. But it's going to be another looooooong night...
I also had an idea for a piece I want to make and auction off to help raise money for Andrew Thornton. Andrew is an artist and writer who was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and since he is without medical insurance, beaders and jewelry artists are banding together to help him cover the costs of his medical bills. I may start it tonight after Colden goes to sleep... The focal point will be this bead that I bought from him back in August as part of my retail therapy binge after the miscarriage...
I'm hoping that I can turn it into something good for someone else.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
First, I have a surprise for Beki Haley of Whimbeads - she was my 100th follower, so she gets a special runner-up surprise.
So, I ran my trusty random number generator and came up with number 76:
And that number 76 corresponded to Eva Maria Keiser!
So congratulations to both Beki and Eva!
And I have to apologize for the delay in getting this post up. I had an extraordinarily long day yesterday, which is going to result in another long day today while I get caught up on (ew) housework.
Monday, October 18, 2010
...is what Tom presented me with when he came back inside from feeding the chickens this afternoon. This was the last hollyhock from the plant next to the house. He came back inside a few minutes later with some of the seeds, and he's going to plant them all around the house so that maybe next year, we have some more of these beautiful blooms.
The colors in this flower just make me want to bead! Light pinks and greens... It's not even winter yet, and I'm already dreaming about spring...
So with Tom working those 10 hour days (insane), we managed to save up enough money for a new set of snow tires for the Matrix (which we will need when he has to commute into Lake Placid at 6:15 a.m. all winter) and on Saturday, we went up to Plattsburgh and picked out a new washing machine. It wasn't a hard choice - the one we got was the only one in our price range.
We did manage to set aside twenty bucks and went out to lunch that day, too. It had been a long, long time since the two of us sat down to lunch together in a restaurant. I think the last time we sat down and ate a meal at a restaurant, just the two of us, was my birthday in 2009. Yeah. Something like that.
It was a good day. We got to talk about everything that's going on - the stress, work, the house, Colden - and it felt like we started to re-connect a little bit.
Of course, as relieved as I am that we actually have all the major appliances in the house functioning again, this means that if there's a load of laundry sitting around, I actually have to DO it during the day. At least Colden likes to help!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I'm about 5 1/2 inches in on an 18" beaded right angle weave rope for a top-secret project for a designer/artist friend of mine. I wanted to do a series of beaded ropes for this project, because I love beaded ropes and I haven't made nearly enough of them lately. But you know what? I am still trying to figure out what made me think that doing an 18" tubular right angle weave rope would be a good thing.
It started out as something fun: ooo, a new challenge! Then it was like, holy crap, this is taking a long time. Now it's like, I am determined NOT to let this thing beat me! I WILL prevail! Yes, I will! I'm going to finish this rope!
Of course, I might take a break and do a nice and quick and easy Dutch Spiral rope for one of the other projects just to give myself a break. Too much more of this round and round stuff with the right angle weave and I'm going to lose my mind.
Anyway, lots of great new stuff up for this week: another Tila bead project, some beaded maple leaves, some charted patterns for fall (and a few for Christmas and Hanukkah, too!) and who knows what else... Might even start my series of articles on photographing your beadwork.
As of this posting, I have 95 followers! Wa-hoo! 5 more, and someone is going to win a free embellished beaded rope necklace from me... I'm really excited about this!
Friday, October 15, 2010
It's been a long time since I did a giveaway on my blog, and now that things have sort of settled down with my life, I think it's time for another one.
So, here's my giveaway:
As of this post, I now have 75 followers on my blog. When I get to 100 followers, I will randomly choose one of those lucky followers to receive a custom-made embellished beaded rope necklace. You can choose the colors, the beads, the length, and the clasp.
I'm going to set the deadline for October 31 at midnight EST. If I hit 100 followers before that date, I'll do the drawing (via random number generator) the day after I hit 100 followers. This way, the winner will receive the necklace in time for the holidays - wouldn't it make a great holiday gift for yourself or for someone very, very special?
PLEASE make sure that when you follow my blog, you check your profile so that it includes a valid email address - I need to know how to contact you!
And remember, I still have that ArtFire coupon special going until October 31 as well - 25% off every item in my shop if you use the coupon code WELCOMEARTFIRE. That includes finished jewelry, beading kits and beading tutorials!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So I transferred all my items over to my new ArtFire shop - you can find it at http://www.vanbeads.artfire.com. And while I'm still working on finalizing my edits to my items and re-arranging my shop, I did manage to create a coupon code, good on any item in my ArtFire shop until October 31, 2010.
Use the code WELCOMEARTFIRE and get 25% off any and every item in my shop!
That includes this fun bead embroidered cuff bracelet. One of my favorites, I called it "Green Meadows", and it's one of a series of embroidered cuffs I created over the winter. (I've got lots more in production right now, I just need to get to them!)
So, if you've had your eye on a piece on my shop and have been waiting for an opportune time, this is it! The coupon code only lasts until October 31, 2010, so you still have about two weeks to take advantage of it.
I'll also be listing some new items in my ArtFire shop early next week. I've got several bracelets, three necklaces made with stoneware donuts, and three new bead embellished ropes. I have been one busy beader!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
So, even if it is a tad washed out, this is a much better photo of the same piece that I posted earlier.
I bought these three copper fired stoneware donuts from Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay. I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, but I loved the colors and I loved the feel of them - soft, satiny and extremely light. I had two smaller donuts and one larger donut, and I wound up giving one of the smaller donuts to a friend of mine. I had no idea what to do with it until I found myself stitching peyote bails for other beaded necklaces this summer - I realized that I could just stitch a piece of shaped peyote and string a beaded rope through it!
I made the twisted herringbone rope with a technique I learned from a kit/design by Leslie Frazier. It is super-easy to start, makes a wonderful, twisty rope, and really works up quickly. (If you're stitching in the right direction, that is - but more on that later!)
I'll be working this into a tutorial for the About.com site later this week - as soon as I can find a time to sit down and wrap my head around writing out the directions for all fifteen steps. Yowza. It's really an easy project, I just wanted to break it down into manageable steps for someone who might feel a little intimidated by odd count peyote.
Freezing cold here again tonight. Tom just let the dog out, Colden conked out at 5:30 after skipping his nap this afternoon, and I'm really, really, reeeeeeeeeeaaaally hoping that Tom comes back inside with an armload of wood and fires up the wood stove...
Sunday, October 10, 2010
At least I can laugh a little bit about it now...
We went to Canadian Thanksgiving at Rob and Jennie's house last night. It was our second Canadian Thanksgiving since Rob and Jennie got married, and the house was packed with the usual suspects, a lot of kids, and more food than we knew what to do with. Rob was making rum and cokes for Tom, and he made them so strong that Tom had to ask me to drive home!
This morning should have been my last farmers' market of the season, but we all woke up at 7:45, and since I was supposed to be out the door by 8, it wasn't going to happen. The car wasn't packed, I hadn't eaten breakfast, and Tom needed to go to work this morning. So I made breakfast and tried to get Colden to eat (humongous fail), and then I wound up staying in my pajamas and bathrobe until, oh, noon.
I got some beading done, and then around four 'o' clock realized that I had used the wrong damn color of red seed beads. They just looked awful with the ceramic art pendant and bead that I wanted to accent. The pattern with the black cube beads looked wonderful. But the red - I have been trying to find a match for these pieces for MONTHS now. Literally. I've ordered about a dozen different shades of red seed beads. None of them look any good when I get them up close to the pendants, and since I live about a gazillion miles away from anything like a real bead store... I should have gone to Beads by Blanche last weekend when I was down in the city.
It was hard for me to tear myself away from the beading and try to get dinner together for Colden. I couldn't have cared less about eating my own dinner, but Colden was just having one of those days where the kid would *not* eat, and it drives me nuts.
So then I've got a load of writing and editing and photo editing and graphic making to get caught up on, and Tom goes and just lays down on the bed with Colden. Now, I know that Tom gets tired too at the end of the day, but you've got to ENGAGE that kid of ours. And then Tom gets frustrated when Colden doesn't WANT to sit in front of the t.v. for more than ten minutes. Argh.
And then I uploaded the pictures I took this morning for my newest project - a peyote stitch bail with a beaded rope - and the pictures are TERRIBLE. I think it's the lighting in my new corner, and I need to do something about it.
I mean, is this a shitty picture or WHAT?! And it's the lighting. My lighting in this new corner sucks, and I need to improve it. I used to have this great overhead light with three daylight light bulbs in it, plus the huge picture window that overlooked the mountains that just let the sunlight in... And while I love the new corner, it still needs a little tweaking. The colors of this copper stoneware donut from Artisan Clay are so rich and so subtle - and this photo just sucks all the life out of it.
Anyway. That's enough for now. I've got a little more writing to do, and then I'd like to get a little sleep before Colden wakes up at 2 a.m. again.
Vet appointment with Moose tomorrow. It's been nearly five months since his last round of bloodwork, so we've got our fingers crossed that the Imuran (chemo drug) and the prednisone are doing the trick and keeping his platelets at a normal level.
What I'm really looking forward to is a little alone time in the car with Moose and a little cup of peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks...
Thursday, October 07, 2010
This is the exciting project that I've been meaning to write about on my blog since it started last week! I can't believe that it's taken me this long to get around to it, but here it is: The Best Little Bead Box.
Carol Dean Sharpe contacted me with the idea for putting together a box similar to the one that is currently circulating called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Beads, but this one is going for a good cause: Beads of Courage, a program that uses beads to help children who are dealing with serious illnesses and their families.
This is how it works: Carol, myself, and some other extremely generous sponsors all donated a large quantity of beads that were put into a box - and the box weighed in at 11 lbs! Then we chose a list of 12 beaders, most of whom are well known bead artists, some of whom are not as well known but who are no less talented and respected. Then Carol set up a schedule, and sent off the box to the first recipient, Marcia DeCoster.
This is just some of what I donated for the first box: a few ceramic faces by Diane Briegleb, some brass embroidery blanks from Designer's Findings, gemstone beads, fibers, vintage Lucite, vintage seed beads, and some other goodies that I've collected over the years...
When Marcia received the box, she took out some of the wonderful beads inside and replaced them with some beads from her own stash. The idea is to leave the box bigger and richer than it was when it was received. Then Marcia will send the box on to the next person, and so on until the box is finally returned to Carol at the end of December.
Once Carol receives the box at the end of December, we will be auctioning off the contents in packages of 1 lb. All the money raised from these auctions will be donated to Beads of Courage to help them continue their work.
You can follow The Best Little Bead Box project on the blog, The Best Little Bead Box. You can also "Like" our page on Facebook, The Best Little Bead Box on Facebook.
Because of the incredible generosity of our sponsors, we are going to be able to do a second box sometime after January of 2011. And we've received even MORE interest in donating beads to the project, so we may even do a third box after that!
So make sure you follow the blog to see where the box travels next, and we'll let everyone know when the auctions are ready to go so that you can have a chance to bid on some of the amazing beads that will be collected in this box and help us raise money for an equally amazing cause!
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Isn't this an amazing beaded bead? Wouldn't you love to win one of them? Well, click on that picture and it will take you to the blog of my very talented friend, Carol Dean Sharpe of SandFibers, who is having a giveaway on her blog for one of these absolutely beautiful beaded beads!
You can enter in a few different ways:
Leave a comment on the post on Carol's blog. Then you can Tweet it (referencing @SandFibers), you can Facebook it (and then leave a link to your post about it on Facebook) and you can blog about it (just like I'm doing now!) and then leave another comment with the link to your blog post. That gives you four chances to win!
Carol is also giving away gift certificates for patterns on her Etsy shop. I love Carol's peyote stitch cuff patterns - they are beautiful and so well-designed. I've bought several of them in the last couple of years from her, as well as a couple of her finished pieces, and they are just a delight to wear and a joy to stitch!
So what are you waiting for? Get to it!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
This is the house where I grew up in Maplewood, N.J.
On my trip to Manhattan this past weekend for the About.com Guide Event, I stayed with friends of mine who just bought a house in Summit. After my event on Saturday, instead of going back into the city on Sunday like I had originally planned, I spent a nice, relaxed, laid-back day with my friends.
First, we went to Maplewood Village and had REAL bagels. I had a salt bagel with cream cheese. And no matter how much I love living up here, there are some things that folks up here just don't "get"... Like what a REAL bagel is.
We took the dog for a walk around the streets where I can remember riding my bike as a kid. And then we stopped and they let me get ice cream at the Magic Fountain, where we went damn near every night in the summer.
Going into the city for the first time in I don't know how long was an experience. I could barely contain myself as the train carried me from Summit through Milburn, Short Hills, South Orange, Maplewood, Newark and right into Penn Station. The people-watching was amazing. My iPod provided the soundtrack. And I even managed to find a helpful person on the subway who got me to my destination at the Metropolitan Plaza.
The conference itself was great. Very inspiring, very motivating, and I came away with a ton of great ideas. (Now I just need some ideas on how to find the time to do everything that I want to!)
The only thing that put a damper on the weekend was that the bleeding was unbelievable on Saturday, and it had me a little worried. I wasn't as present at the conference as I had hoped I would be - I was jumping up to run into the bathroom every ten minutes or so to keep an eye on things, as they were. And then I was just exhausted by the time I got back to New Jersey. I think it was just from all the blood loss, and I certainly hope that I won't have to repeat this experience next month.
I know I sound a little drab this evening, but truthfully, I am still exhausted. I just don't seem to have any energy these last few days. And today was another day of crazy running - play group first thing in the morning, then grocery store, post office, dishes, cleaning up the living room from last week's play date, cooking dinner, and then finally sitting down to get a little bit of work done. It's also cold and damp and rainy, and we haven't turned the heat on yet for the season, something I'm hoping we change tonight. I'm sure if it were a little warmer in here, I'd feel a little bit better.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
But in other news, I'm participating in a very exciting and top-secret project that I can't tell anyone about...until tomorrow! I'll make sure I put a post in here tomorrow to let everyone in on the fun.
And on that note, I still have to get a couple of pieces of content published to the Beadwork site after Colden goes to bed because I'll be spending pretty much all of tomorrow in the car. As much as I'm looking forward to going to New Jersey and seeing my friends and spending a couple of days in Manhattan, I still kinda wish it was going to be a beading weekend...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This afternoon, I have a few things to be thankful for...
...some beady goodness from Andrew Thornton that arrived in my mailbox this afternoon...
...the amazing colors that I can see in the mountains (and my neighbor's back yard!)...
...and most of all, the crazy little man who fell asleep in my arms as we were playing "Feeding Frenzy" on Mommy's computer...
Yep. Life is good.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Another day of no sales at the farmers' market yesterday. Spent an awful lot of time on my feet, though, talking to visitors to my booth and handing out business cards. It started to pour rain almost immediately after we had all set up our tents, and it continued to rain until about noon.
On the plus side, though, I got another semi-embellished rope finished with the Lisa Peters Art bead, and I took a few quick photos this morning. I have one more embellished rope to finish, and then I have to get cracking on the beading for "work" - a custom order to finish, a couple of bracelets to stitch up, and a couple of project tutorials to photograph so I can publish them later this week.
New listings in my Etsy shop and photos of those listings later today, too... Maybe we'll just have Ramen and frozen veggies for dinner tonight!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
That said, while I was thrashing about in one of my drawers for a tube of glass leaves that were actually in the bag where I left them a week ago, I discovered the perfect color bead for my latest project using a Lisa Peters Art bead.
The clasp is one of the new stash of clasps that I got from Artbeads during their Labor Day sale.
I seem to be maintaining my level of productivity - I finished another embellished rope the other day. I haven't listed it on Etsy yet, but will probably take care of that later tonight or tomorrow.
I'm calling it, "Jungle Fever". I love this one - it's light and fluffy and feels like feathers around your neck when you put it on.
And then I decided to go ahead and embellish that sparkly rope that I stitched up last week. I was debating just hanging a pendant off of it and leaving it at that, but then I looked at that bag of beads sitting next to it. I made a compromise - I'm only doing short fringes on it so that I don't go totally over the top.
That said, I unleashed a fair amount of venom on some unsuspecting folks today when the topic of overpriced items on Etsy came up. One more reasonf for me to leave Etsy: it seems that they have successfully marketed the idea of handmade items being "cheap". I feel sorta bad about it now, but my opinions are still my own, and I still stand by the idea that our time as artists is valuable and should be priced accordingly.
And now, off to make some dinner...
Monday, September 20, 2010
I had a bad day sales-wise at the farmers' market yesterday, and those days always send me into a tailspin. They always seem to come when my ideas are bubbling over, and I'm very motivated to bead, but there's this little voice in the back of my mind that keeps telling me, "Yeah, maybe you should concentrate on selling the inventory you already have!" Ugh. I hate that little voice. One of these days, I'm going to stuff a sock down her throat.
Last night was the first truly COLD night that we have had in a long time. It was below freezing, and when I got up at 2:30 to get Colden a small cup of milk, I nearly froze my toes in the kitchen since the kitchen door and the windows were still wide open! Gack. I finally made Tom get up and close all the windows and pull the curtain between the kitchen and dining room to keep some warm air in the house. It was cold.
Tonight, I'm debating getting into a hot bathtub for a few minutes before I go to bed... If I can stay awake that long.
More beading tomorrow, I hope. I didn't have much of a chance to do anything today except tear apart the stuff I did yesterday because it just flat out sucked.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Have I mentioned how much I love my son lately? Or how much I love working at home so I can be with him every day, despite the obvious challenges in time management and keeping my energy levels up?
This photos was taken on one of our afternoon sojourns in the backyard, under the big box elder tree. Every spring, Tom clears out some of the lower branches and undergrowth and we throw a couple of tree stumps in there with some candles and some folding chairs. This year, Tom built a wooden swing for Colden and hung it on one of the branches. Tom calls it our "Hobbit Hole". Colden loves it. He plays in the dirt, we look for caterpillars and bugs in the tree, and he "feeds" sticks to the glass and metal frog yard decoration that we keep under there for company.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
But now I have myself wondering: should I even embellish this rope? Should I just hang a pendant off of it and leave it as is? The colors in the rope are so bold and crazy - metallic gold core with silver lined jewel toned beads in between black for the accents - that maybe accenting the rope even MORE with the crazy assortment of glass beads would just be too much.
Seizure-inducing necklace, anyone?
My challenge piece for the August challenge was completed and listed at two minutes to midnight before the deadline. But this piece just came together so nicely - I started it on a Sunday and finished it on a Tuesday! Amazing!
I'm really getting into these embellished ropes. I love embellishment and fringe, and although I'm not a big fan of spiral rope making, I'm now finding that I can do all sorts of cool color palettes and my ideas for embellishing them are coming fast and furious.
Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I suddenly came up with the perfect designs for three of the Lisa Peters Art beads that I have! After I finish this next spiral rope, that's what I'll be working on next...
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I haven't been this productive in MONTHS, nor have I felt this inspired. But so far this week, I have finished two hugely embellished beaded ropes and haven't done a heck of a lot else! And that empty bead tray is just calling to me... I can hear it taunting me with the drawer full of Lisa Peters Art beads and cabs that I just bought... And the Venetian glass beads with the matching Czech firepolished beads... The huge Swarovski stones just waiting for me to finish attaching the petals around them to make big flowers... My Catherine of Aragon face that is waiting oh so patiently for me to start embellishing her...
Yeah. And I'm still in my bathrobe, Colden is still in his pajamas, and the breakfast dishes are still sitting on the dining room table.