Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bead Exploration Collaboration

Well, the Bead Exploration Collaboration has concluded! You may recall from my earlier post, Melanie Lukacs, Heather Powers and I have been working on creating pieces from the sets of beautiful beads that Melanie and Heather created. Each of us had identical sets of beads from which to work. The only rule was that we create each piece of jewelry using at least one bead from each artist. Oh, also, we were to create our pieces completely independently from one another. Today is the first day I w see Heather's and Melanie's work and vice versa. Melanie's beautiful work can be seen here and Heather's equally stunning work can bee viewed here.

Well, give me beautiful fairy beads and beads in lovely shades of green, and I immediately think of - yup! - "A Midsummer Night's Dream". My own pieces were once again inspired by the theme of wood nymphs. The starting point for designing all of the pieces was the center strand in the necklace. I loved that combination of beads, but as the Husband pointed out, it was a bit on the long side when strung together. I didn't want to shorten it, so I thought about how to balance the rest of the piece around that strand. I decided that I wanted the necklace to have a sort of totem-esque feel to it, so I planned out a series of graduated strands around the central one. From a technical standpoint, I thought that it would help to add beads with slightly different textures and colors to bridge Melanie's and Heather's beads. I tried different combinations and found that Diane Hawkey's beautiful faceted ceramic beads worked quite well. I added more of Melanie's beads - some deep brown pumpkin accent beads - from my stash. I also used a strand of golden bamboo coral, as well as some deep tourmaline Swarovski crystals and a couple raku ceramic beads (I'm afraid I don't know the name of the artist who made those). Finally, I found an odd Czech glass leaf bead to use as an accent.

I'm quite happy with the way the necklace turned out. To my eye, it has a sort of tribal feel to it. (I really didn't realize until I finished it that the basic shape is similar to my "Something Wicked" necklace - for one thing, I seem to be on a coral kick right now.) Although I rarely wear coordinated sets, myself, I thought in this case that matching earrings and a bracelet would be fun. (The Husband took one look at the bracelet and said "...Erm, you do realize that this is off-center, right?" I kind of like it that way!) As you can see, I used a good number of beads from both artists. The one thing I regret is not using some of Heather's lovely bicones, but I could not figure out a way to incorporate them into the piece in a way that was attractive and original (for beautiful examples of how to use these bicones, please visit Heather's gallery).

I'd like to thank Melanie, Heather, Cindy Gimbrone, and the rest of the artists involved in the Bead Exploration Collaboration for giving me the opportunity to participate in this fun and creative project!

Oh, and by the way, I emailed Michele Goldstein about the broken focal, and she is going to re-make it for me. Hopefully, the new necklace will not have any of the issues the original did...

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Well, apparently the necklace really was cursed. I made the mistake of wearing it today, and the Short One and I had a big disagreement about the appropriate time to leave the park to go home for dinner this evening - the focal was the casualty. Needless to say 1) it was completely my fault for being silly enough to wear something like this while taking care of the S.O. and 2) I'm grateful that the S.O. wasn't injured by the broken glass. Still, it was a costly mistake. Sigh. If Michele Goldstein is willing to re-make the bead for me, I will re-do it. If not, this piece is going to go by the wayside. I do find it ironic that the one time in my life I start designing and making jewelry seriously, I can't actually wear any of it!!!

Okay, Melanie, Heather and I are posting our creations from the Bead Exploration Collaboration tomorrow, so please come back to see those! Have a good night.

Curse of the Love Necklace

I'm convinced that this project is cursed. I finally sat down at the table today to re-string it - and dropped the whole thing once again, onto the floor. On the third try, I discovered that I had cut my wire about 2 inches too short. On the fourth try, I mis-crimped the crimp, so that I couldn't fold it over properly. On the fifth try, I somehow managed to make the loop part of the clasp slightly too small, so that it wouldn't fit over the bead. FINALLY, on the sixth try, I finished it. Of course, now I'm too scared to wear it, given all of that bad mojo. It looks nice, though, don't you think? Once again, the skull focal, button and black and white disc are by Michele Goldstein and the black and white graphic hearts and round beads are by Dawn White. Mmm, I love these beads.

Thanks for stopping by!

ps. For those wondering what was wrong with the original necklace - the rightmost heart (in the photo) was upside down.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I got ambitious and decided to try stringing one other piece that has been sitting in a project bag all month. I dropped the @$%#$^ thing three times, all over the carpet (I still have to hunt for a few more Swarovski crystals before Someone Else gets to them). After much gnashing of teeth, I finally finished the piece, tried it on for size and realized.... Can you tell what's wrong with it? Aarrrgh. I give up - I'll fix it tomorrow. I'm going to bed. Oh, by the way, the skull focal, button and the black and white disc are by Michele Goldstein. The graphic hearts and round beads are by Dawn White. I added Swarovski crystals, black seed beads and Czech glass. Good night.

ps. Lest any new readers think that all I ever do is skulls, I plan to resume work on my little ice cream beads, and cuter and sweeter stuff generally, soon. This will probably be the last skull piece of the season.


Well, I'd been wanting to string one or two more pieces for Art Bead Scene's "When Beads Collide" Challenge (use art beads from two or more artists in a single piece), and these beads had been sitting in a project bag all month waiting for me to try to string them. I decided to use a bag of sterling silver tube beads that I picked up earlier this year at a show for cheap. Tube beads are not really the kind of beads I usually use, and I'm on the fence about how this piece turned out. I think the tubes go well with Alicia Abla's sticky mosaica pendant, but I'm not sure I really made the best use I could have of Jenn Kelly's lovely set of lampworked beads. I think the piece looks nice and summery, it is light and extremely comfortable to wear. Still... I can't decide if I just need to get used to the look of the tube beads or if I just didn't hit the mark on this one. I guess time will tell. Anyway, I finished the piece with the tube beads, olive Swarovski crystals and a simple sterling hook clasp.


Okay, before we get to the topic of today's entry, did you note the new Way Cool Banner on my blog? Did you? Go look, go look!! This was a surprise from Rachel, aka Fancy Pants. Last night, she emailed me and told me to look in her flickr account where I found my new banner. Rachel is busy with her own brand new blog, Sugar Toppers. She was doing some work on her blog and decided to create a new banner for me, too, while she was working on it. Wasn't that nice of her? Thank you, Rachel! (By the way, if you are a sugar-head the way I am, you should so go look at her blog right now - she has the most fabulous cupcake designs you will ever see in your life. My favorite is the one that looks like a cupcake topped with elaborate quilling - believe me, you'll know it when you see it.)

Now, back to our topic. I was working on the Bead Exploration Collaboration last night and I ran out of eyepins, so I was forced to stop by the local bead shop to pick up those and a few more items today. As you can imagine, this was an extreme hardship for me (the LBS is a ten minute walk from my house), as was discovering that the owners had replenished the 50% off table that they so cunningly place right by the entrance to the store, where no one could possibly miss it. In a fit of self-control, I walked right past it while averting my eyes, as I really did need a few things to finish the BEC pieces (which will be published on the blog on Sunday, incidentally). However, once I had everything on my shopping list in my paws, I raced back to the sale table and ended up finding the strand pictured above. Do you know what this is? I didn't. At first, I thought it was some kind of exotic shell. I finally asked one of the ladies working there who informed me that it's dragonskin jasper. I love it. I love the name, love the beautiful mottled design of the stone. I have never ever heard of dragonskin jasper before. So I appeal to you fellow beadheads - anyone have any information on this stone? Upon close inspection, the mottled design gives off an almost cellular feel, as if this stone grew like quartz. Anyone have any idea? I feel this strand would be perfect for the summer necklace I'm supposed to be creating for Beadstyle, if only I could get my act together.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

ps. D'oh, as soon as I finished writing this, flickr went down, and the new Way Cool Banner is now unavailable. How annoying. Hopefully it will be back up by the time you read this.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

FOR SALE, aka, Cute Skulls Seeking Sympathic Homes

Well, as you can see, I don't have anything new to show you, today. I am in the middle of making my pieces for the Bead Exploration Collaboration with Melanie (Earthenwood Studio) and Heather (Humblebeads), but I'm not allowed to show you any works in progress for that. It finally occurred to me that the end of the month, when we are supposed to display our finished work, is only three days away, so I've been beading like the wind, so to speak. I think I will finish, but probably only by the skin on my teeth.

The other thing I have been debating is actually moving outside my comfort zone one more time and actually offering one or two skull charms up for sale. For some reason, doing this the day after the close of the contest seems sort of venal to me, but I feel that if I don't do it now, I'll procrastinate and never do it at all. I hope all of you will understand. So (deep breath), if anyone feels the need to welcome some cute skulls into their lives and jewelry projects, the above are now officially for sale. The skulls are made from PMC3 and are therefore fine silver, or .999 pure silver. Each skull is about 16mm x 16mm. Both charms have holes at the bottom for the purpose of adding additional dangles, similar to the red Czech glass drops on the earrings that Rachel, aka Fancy Pants, won. (These dangles are not included.) The single skull charm is $16.00, the double skull charm is $32.00. Shipping within the U.S. is $2.00. Any interested international buyers, please contact me for shipping costs. In the event that I have more than one interested buyer, precedence will be given to whomever emails me first. Please send inquiries to: Oh, and at this time, I only accept payment by Paypal. If the buyer is not satisfied with the charms once they arrive, they are more than welcome to mail them back to me for a refund (excluding shipping costs). These two charms will be available for sale until the end of October (or until they are sold, whichever comes first).

Ack, this is making my palms sweat...

Okay, to end on a much, much more interesting and amusing note, if you are in the mood to see robots doing a cute fan dance (completely clean fan dance, I might add - it has nothing to do with throwing tassels etc.), please check out the video of the Beck song "Hell Yes" at MTVU. I am not a Beck fan - I think this is the only video of his I've ever seen (I believe the Husband found it on BoingBoing originally), but it is fabulous and is one of my all-time favorites. Beck and the producer enlisted programmers at Sony to program a chorus of cute robots (the Sony QRIO) to perform a cool choreographed dance for the video. I LOVE IT.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And the Winners Are...

Remind me when I do this again (and I think I will be doing this again) not to even make a pretense of the Short One picking out the winner, will you? He actually did pick the winners - yes, there are two - of this contest, but it took a little while for him to select one entry and then to convince him to actually give it to me or anyone else. Apparently bits of paper (and I used folded Post-It notes, thinking that they would make nice self-sealing entries - in actual fact, they made lovely decorations all over the S.O.'s clothes while I chased him around the living room) are in fact more fun than a barrel of monkeys, especially when they're placed in a hat one hasn't seen for some time.

When I finally coaxed the first entry out of his chubby little paws, it turned out to be (drumroll, please):

IHT! Congratulations, IHT - you've won the bracelet! Huzzah!

Now, I have to confess here that the "I" in "IHT" stands for Ingrid, and she is the person I somewhat sarcastically suggested de-lurk and leave a comment (which she did - grudgingly). I've known her for over twenty years, and she was my matron-of-honor. (See, Ingrid?? See?? It doesn't hurt to de-lurk once in a while, does it?? Sheesh.) As a result, in the interests of fairness, I decided to select a second winner. After repeating the same exhausting procedure with the Short One, including a short bout of tug-of-war and many complaints on his end, we came up with a second winner:

Maria Grimes! Congratulations, Maria - you've also won a bracelet! Huzzah!

Maria, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and entering the contest.

So, Ingrid and Maria will both be receiving Something Wicked bracelets. I know where Ingrid lives - Maria, if you could send me your address, I'll be happy to ship your prize off to you. You can contact me at, if you need the blog address.

Many thanks to everyone who entered this contest. I loved the informative and very kind comments all of you left. This was a lot of fun, and I will be doing it again, probably a "100th Post" giveaway. Next time I'll have something cute and sweet as the prize, since I know skulls are not everyone's cup of tea.

Best wishes to you all! As always, thanks for stopping by.

Something Wonderful

Urgh, I finished this piece and realized as I took it out from the UV light that there were a few air bubbles in the resin that I'd missed. It's realllly annoying. Anyway, the sentiment is still a good one, don't you think?

I'll keep the contest open for a couple more hours. Again, the winner will not be posted until the S.O. is in bed. I know this is the middle of the night for some of you - I'm sorry about that, but I think it's the only way I'll be able to manage things.

Thanks for stopping by! See you tonight!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Great Pumpkin

This is the hat where all of the contest entries will go. I was originally going to use the Short One's cowboy hat that his grandfather bought for him, but then I came to my senses. Like many first time mothers, I stuffed as many cute knit hats on my progeny's head as I could while he was young and helpless and not yet coordinated enough to pull them off. (Maybe it's just me, but I feel it's every mother's prerogative to dress their helpless infants in as many cute outfits as possible before they're old enough to complain about looking "dorky". I mean, if you can't take advantage of your own children, whom can you take advantage of?) This is one of them. Although there are several pumpkin hat patterns floating around the 'net, I didn't care for how any of them shaped the crown, so I ended up writing my own. I knit the hat with Patricia Roberts' Cashmere THAT I BOUGHT AT CLOSEOUT (I can hear all of you U.K. knitters gasping with horror) from String Yarns when they were getting rid of the line. I figured it out, the hat cost about $10 to knit, okay?? Okay? Not that I'm feeling defensive about this, or anything.

Actually, I am actually quite fiendishly good at sniffing out deals on cashmere yarn (I know of two sources at the moment for sale Italian-milled cashmere - if anyone's interested, just leave me a comment) - I love knitting with luxury fibers when I can, and I live in an area of the country where I can make good use of garments knit with them. I knit several items for the Short One when he was an infant with cashmere or cashmere-blend yarns, and only one item was really costly. It was a receiving blanket - I made the one from the Debbie Bliss Workbook - out of the recommended Jaeger Cashmina - even on sale, it was really pretty costly. It had been the prize of my stash for several years, but it made a truly wonderful blanket and was well-used - the Short One slept in it every night for the first months of his life and then it turned into a stroller blanket - so I don't even feel very guilty about it.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. I actually have a cute photo of the Short One wearing the hat, but I'm afraid I just don't feel comfortable posting it. Somebody put up a link to my blog from a porn site over the weekend, so I've been getting some odd traffic lately. If any veteran bloggers have any suggestions on how to handle this type of situation, I'd welcome input.

The Little Something Wicked Contest is still open! Please go here to enter.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fancy Pants' Surprise

With apologies to Fancy Pants for taking so long, I've finally finished the "surprise" for correctly guessing that I took the bracelet photo on top of the stove. Here it is - your own set of friendly skull earrings! FP, please email me your mailing address. The blog email is Thanks to everyone for playing my little side game!

So I finished all of the little skulls I made a couple days ago. I thought it would be more efficient to do them all at once that way, but by the second hour of polishing all of them, I was ready to keel over from sheer boredom. I must re-think my strategy there, the next time, or at least put on a video of something...

A big "Thank You" for all of the new entries to my Little Something Wicked Giveaway. As I mentioned in the comments, I'm not going to keep posting my own comments there, in case I need to use the random number generator, but it's been fascinating learning a little bit about the interests of other beaders and knitters (and people just interested in these topics). Once again, The Short One will be (theoretically) picking a name out of hat Wednesday evening, before he toddles off to bed. I will post the winner once he's safely tucked in. If you have not yet entered and would like to, please go here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Raison d'Etre

Yes, even more gorgeous beads to show off today. These are a part of bead sets by Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio and Heather Powers of Humblebeads. Anyone who's been reading this blog knows that I love Earthenwood Studio beads. I don't think I've previously talked about Humblebeads, though. Heather Powers does the most amazing things with polymer clay. Her cane work is incredibly detailed and her application of the canes on each bead creates this really lush landscape. "Romantic" is a word that comes to mind when I see her beads. She's also, like Melanie, an incredibly talented jewelry designer.

Anyway, even though these beads have just recently come into my possession, they are very special to me, as they are the reason this blog came into being in the first place. A while back, bead artist Cindy Gimbrone, Melanie and Heather, along with other bead artists, created The Bead Exploration Collaboration, a challenge where two bead artists and a jewelry designer would get together and create individual designs combining sets of beads that the two artists would make. The results are then displayed on the respective participants websites and/or blogs. To see the results of an earlier collaboration, please go here. Earlier this year, Melanie and Heather kindly invited me to participate in a new Exploration Collaboration. The only problem was, being a complete neophyte, I didn't have a blog or website! Thus, this blog was born.

These bead sets are fantastic, aren't they? I've already started designing a new necklace for them. I hope you'll come back to view the results, around the end of the month, once the Exploration Collaboration has concluded.

There's still time to enter my A Little Something Wicked Giveaway here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alas, poor Yorick

(I don't know about you, but I've always felt that the line should've ended "I knew him well" and not "I knew him, Horatio".) Anyway, here's what I've been up to today - pretty much fresh from the kiln. These skulls still need to be burnished, cleaned, dipped and polished, so they have a ways to go yet, but I thought I'd show them to you, anyway. I was originally going to make some comment about how even though most people don't seem to like them, I still think they're cute, but Rachel from Tampa just entered the contest today and saved me from self-pity. Thanks, Rachel! Er, not that I've been watching the contest entries today, or anything. (I think I can hear Monkee Maker cackling in the background.)

Seriously, though, I love the comments you have all been leaving. It's so nice meeting other creative people! I have a few crafty friends, but when I start talking about this stuff to most people, their eyes glaze over, and they keel over or pretend not to know me after about five minutes. I have a hard time "putting myself out there", so to speak, and it's great to know that there are some sympathetic ears listening while I, er, babble on and on. (Plus, for those of you with blogs - I have a fun time surfing to your blogs. It seems only fair, right?)

Anyway, the contest for the Little Something Wicked bracelet is still on, here. Oh and for those who are having problems with posting a comment - you do not need to be registered with Blogger to post a comment. Just hit the "Other" button, type your name in and post your comment. I know there were at least two people who had problems with that today. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stove Range

Well, Linnea came very, very close by saying it was a white appliance like a freezer or a washing machine, but ultimately Fancy Pants got it right. At 10pm, after taking about 20 photos and failing to get a clear shot, in utter frustration I slapped (okay, I didn't slap it, but you know, literary license) the bracelet on the range and to my surprise the photo came out just fine.

Okay, I have to admit, I asked this question off the cuff last night - I have a design ready, but I haven't actually made the little surprise for the winner yet! I'll post a photo in a couple days and get your details then, okay, FP?

Thanks for playing my little side game!! Remember, though, the drawing for the bracelet is still on until next Wednesday.

ps. Don't look too closely at the photo, please - we deep-fried tonight, and the range could really use a good scrub...

pps. I completely forgot - apparently, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day today. Be sure to say "Arrr, you scurvy dog" to someone you love. Or something to that effect.

Good Fortune Work in Progress

I am sentimental, and I am also a real packrat. All of this means that, whenever we eat Chinese food, half of the time I end up stuffing the fortunes from the fortune cookies in my bag. I later end up shedding them around the house the way women used to shed hairpins back in the day when we wore a lot of hairpins (and aren't we glad those days are gone?). For my non-U.S. readers, a fortune cookie is an almond flavored cookie that looks a little like the charm at the top of this photo. It's stuffed with a slip of paper (again, see photo) that has a fortune, or nugget of "wisdom" printed on it, and you crack the cookie open to get to the fortune. Nowadays, you can get customized fortune cookies, to celebrate the birth of a baby, for example, and even "naughty" fortune cookies, but I'm really talking about your basic cookie that is usually provided at the end of a meal in a Chinese restaurant. (Actually, I'd be curious to know if fortune cookies have made it to the U.K. They weren't around when I was living there in the early 90s - I used to bring them back with me - along with semi-sweet chocolate morsels to make chocolate chip cookies - for my English flatmate. I remember that she was so taken with them (the fortune cookies, that is) that she carefully packed one up and mailed it to her boyfriend living in London as a little present.)

Okay, back to the beads. I've been thinking of trying to incorporate some of the fortunes lying around the house into a necklace. I made the fortune cookie charm a while back (you may remember that entry), but it took me a while to figure out the best way to create a shallow bezel for the fortune to rest in. Here's the result. This is an actual fortune from our local Chinese restaurant. After waterproofing the paper, I stuck it in the bezel and covered it with a thin layer of resin. (Actually, I learned an important lesson today - never ever pour resin into a glass jar that's been sitting in the basement for a month before checking to see how dusty it is. I use UV resin that doesn't cure at all unless it's exposed to UV light, so I had plenty of time to pick out all of the bits of lint from the piece with a toothpick. It just would've been nice if I hadn't had to spend a half hour picking lint out of resin with a toothpick!) I made the glass beads, as well - I tried to use colors that you might normally find in a Chinese New Year's Dragon (bear in mind that I am not Chinese and that this is all sort of tongue-in-cheek pop culture-influenced, more than anything else).

All in all, this charm pretty much looks the way I intended except for two, er, rather major details - 1) it's really heavy and 2) it's REALLY LONG. I had intended to make a bunch of these to put together an over-the-top necklace, and now I really don't think anyone could wear my original design and still keep their head erect for more than 5 minutes. I think at most I might be able to use three charms in one piece. As for the length, it's going to be next-to-impossible to balance the piece, given how long the charm currently is. I'm thinking of separating out the cookie part of the charm from the fortune part, instead... I need to go back to the drawing board on this one... Sigh.

Oh, and thanks again to everyone who told me that my Comment Section was restricted to Registered Users. I really had no idea. When I went to change this, I finally discovered that I could have any comments posted on the blog emailed to me. Would you believe I've just been manually checking the blog every day for these? I'll get the hang of this blogging thing, eventually.

Thanks for visiting! And remember to enter my "Little Something Wicked Giveaway", by posting a comment about yourself here.

Comments are Now Open to Anyone

A quick follow up on my Giveaway. I am such a neophyte that I didn't realize my Comment section was restricted to registered users. I believe I have successfully changed this now. Anyone, even people who don't have a blog, should be able to leave a comment now. Sorry about that!

Bathtub and sink are good guesses on where I took the photo, but, alas, they are not correct.

Thanks!! I'll probably be back this evening...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Little Something Wicked Giveaway

I finally managed to take a decent photo of the item in question, so I thought I'd go ahead and post this before going to bed. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you'll know that I have not been designing jewelry, lampworking or working with metal clay for a very long time. As a result, I've been very timid about even the prospect of giving any of my work to someone who's not a family member. Well, I think the time has come for this to change. I've had such great support from everyone reading this blog, and I want to thank you. Therefore, I've decided to hold my first Giveaway. The prize is the simple skull-y bracelet, above. As usual, I made the skull charms and full moon button clasp out of PMC3. I finished the bracelet with chunky faceted onyx beads, a black shell pearl, seed beads and Czech glass.

I think this bracelet would be a nice accessory for the upcoming Halloween season. If you agree and would like to be the new owner of this piece, please enter this Giveaway by leaving me a message in the Comments section of this entry. You know a lot about me by now, but I know pretty much nothing about you, so I'd love it if, in your message, you would tell me a little bit about yourself - what kind of items you like to knit, what kind of beads you like, your favorite ice cream, the name of your dog - you know, whatever! I'd like to get to know you better!

The Comments section will be open for one week, ending on Wednesday, September 26th. The winner will be selected that evening by random drawing - I will ask the Short One to select a name out of a hat. In the event of technical difficulties (the Short One grabs a handful of entries, eats/runs off with the winning entry, refuses to pick an entry, etc., etc. - anything is possible, where the S.O. is concerned), I will use a random number generator to select the winner. I will post the name of the winner on this blog. You must visit my blog in order to find out if you've won. At that time, I will leave instructions on how to contact me to make arrangements for the shipment of the prize. If no one claims the prize after two weeks, I reserve the right to hold the Giveaway again.

Of course, all of this only works if you actually leave a comment (and please no Anonymous comments, as I'll have no way of knowing who you are)! This is the perfect opportunity for anyone lurking here (this means you, Ingrid) to say "hi". (As a little aside, I used to think Monkee Maker's anxiety that no one would leave her a comment when she held her own giveaways was really cute. M.M., I apologize abjectly - I will never, ever find your worry (at least on that account) cute or funny again. Truly.) Seriously, though, if no one leaves a comment, I'll be forced to bully my mother into leaving one, and you don't want to see me bully my mother, do you?

I had a heck of a time getting a decent photo of the bracelet (this seems to be turning into a refrain for me). Can you guess where I ultimately took this photo (I do not own a light box)? There might be a teeny surprise for the first person who answers this question correctly.

Oh, and on a final note, due to my background, I have to add a little note that, as the bracelet contains small parts and glass, it should really not be given to your own (or anyone else's) Short Ones to play with, no matter how tugworthy or desirable. I'm sure you already know that, but I can't help it - I'm anal.

Thank you so much for your support and for continuing to read my blog!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Diane Hawkey

I'll describe the weekend bead show (and flash my stash again) a little later, but I wanted to show you these beautiful beads and buttons that were a wonderful and unexpected treat from ceramic artist Diane Hawkey. (You can click on the photo for a bigger image.) Are these not to die for? Diane is also a knitter, and I had been previously rabbiting on to her about how I was always on the lookout for unusual buttons for my cardigans, and lo and behold, I found these absolutely gorgeous buttons in the cute parcel she gave me.

I reallly, really love these focals - they make such a strong statement. The minute I saw them, I knew pretty much what I was going to do with them, which is unusual for me. My favorite is the grinning fox (which I think Diane meant to be more of an animal spirit mask, but it looks like a grinning fox to me) which reminds me strongly of Aesop's fables. I also think the Horned God bead (which reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke" - I'm sure this is not what Diane had in mind, but there you go) is really unique and beautiful. I'll be reading up a little on mythology before I use this one. Diane also makes really lovely rough-faceted accent beads - a bunch of which are now part of my stash. I'll show them to you tomorrow. In the meantime, if you would like to see more of Diane's work, please go here. Thank you, Diane!

Oh, by the way, voting closes today for the Stringing Magazine Designers Challenge. If you have already voted, thank you so much. If you are thinking of voting, today is the day! Please go here. Okay, that's it for my shameless promotion. Thanks for bearing with me.

And thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Blogger's Blogger

I've been given my first blogger's award by the sympatico Monkee Maker. The Nice Matters award is apparently to be "awarded to those who are just nice people, good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others, that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world." I think this is the first time I've ever been called a positive influence on anyone (including the Short One). Of course, now that M.M. has given me the award, I'm getting more visitors from the U.K., which means more people to gape at my little faux pas in my September 14th "Knitting Corner" in which I refer to my "fanny" - which does not mean the same thing on this side of the pond as it does over there, I hasten to point out. (For those who need a translation from the American to the English meaning of the slang term - or vice versa - please go here.) I knew this ten years ago, but it completely slipped my mind (so much does these days, sadly) when writing the post. Shameful, eh? Hmmm, still, M.M. is the one who called me a positive influence in the first place...

Seriously, though, thank you to Monkee Maker - I feel like a blogger's blogger now! I would like to pass this nice award on to the following wonderful bloggers, in turn:

Jenn of Caligirl Art Glass
Beatrice of Fried Peas
Melanie of Earthenwood Studio
Lezlie of Canterbury Keepsakes

(There is one other wonderful blogger - a lampworker - to whom I would have given the award, except that I'm pretty sure she would prefer to remain anonymous. You know who you are, if you are reading this post.)

I'm a little pooped (shopping for beads is very strenuous, you know), so I'm going to defer any other discussion to tomorrow. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Knitting Corner

Monkee Maker has called out for us knitty-types to post photos of our favorite knitting corner, so here it is! The place where I do all of the mythical knitting (provided I can park my fanny there before the Husband does - as it's quite a comfy tv chair, too) that I claim to do. Monty Monkey (who came to live with us from Julie Willams at Little Cotton Rabbits) is serving as my stand-in here.

Really, I will start devoting more air-time to knitting. The temperature is dropping down to 38F tonight here, and if that isn't an incentive to start wielding my sticks and woolly stuff more frequently, I don't know what is. In fact, I think I'll go get them right now.

Once again, have a good weekend, everyone.

Flashing the Stash

This weekend is bead show weekend where I live - always a happy prospect. In an effort to stay focused, I'm digging up my works-in-progress and making a list of components I need for same and a list of exhibitors I really need to visit. It's hard, though. The minute I enter through the doorway of any bead show, my eyes glaze over, my heart palpitates and, well, I must shamefully admit, self-control goes out the window. Then again, years of indoctrination by the Husband have pretty much cured me of my desire to shop in almost any other venue (yarn stores and shows excepted), so I feel in my heart of hearts that perhaps it's okay to feed my addiction in just this one case? Okay, okay, truthfully, I also react this way to milk chocolate and pretty much any flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but surely that's a completely different issue?

Anyway, in the photo, from the top going clockwise are: 1) Dead Head pendant by Joan Miller and Penny Michelle (sometime I will show you the back of this pendant - it has the most amazing flowers and vines), 2) Sleeping Fairy by Earthenwood Studio, and 3) Lilly Drops by Green Girl Studios. These were in my current project bags and they're all missing certain components that I'm hoping to find at the show. In the meantime, I'm just flashing my stash at you a little.

Is anyone else here a Roches fan? The Short One and I have been listening to "Peter, Paul and Mommy", and it made me think of other groups with wonderful vocals and harmonies, which made me think of the Roches, which in turn made me think of their single, "The Hammond Song", one of my all time favorite ballads. The Roches are amazingly wonderful - there's a video clip of them performing the song in 1983 on "Soundstage". Please go here to view it - the clothing, hair and makeup may be dated, but the sound is wonderful.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Even more good news

Yesterday was definitely a good day for me. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my interview at Art Bead Scene. On top of the article being published, I received word from BeadStyle that they have decided to give me the whole gallery section of the July 2008 issue - it's a two-page spread, usually featuring three artists' work. I'm am pretty chuffed about this!! (If you are unfamiliar with the word "chuffed", please see my August 28th entry.) The only downside is - I don't have a third piece for publication!!! Ack. I spent last night choking over my design sketchbook and unable to come up with anything viable - so typical. I have until February before all of the pieces have to be in to be photographed, so I have time, but I need at least a few summer-themed pieces to submit for consideration before then. And here I was, all ready for the fall...

The above photo is of an older piece. Once again, all beads except plain spacers are by Michele Goldstein. The spacers are mine and are some of the first lampworked beads I ever made. I'm still quite fond of this one, and I find it appeals to a broad range of people - from the folks at my local glass studio (who loved Michele's beads - and who can blame them?), to the lady at the register of the grocery where I shop - to the child at the play class the Short One attends who tugged at my neck for a full fifteen minutes when, in a fit of over-optimism, I wore it to class. You may notice that it bears a bit of similarity to the necklace that I submitted to Stringing Magazine for their design challenge (please vote! voting ends next Monday! - a shameless plug, I know). This necklace design was the original.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I've been seen at Art Bead Scene!

A while back I was asked by the wonderful artists who run Art Bead Scene to agree to be interviewed as a jewelry designer. After I picked myself up off the floor and managed to close my jaw, I agreed. I've been informed that the interview is up on their website today. Please go here to read it.

In case you don't already know from reading this blog, I love Art Bead Scene. I started working with metal clay seriously (or as seriously as I do, right now, I should say) due to the Art Bead Scene monthly challenges. They are very generous folks. Thank you to all at Art Bead Scene!

(Just between you and me, I still can't get over the feeling that calling me a jewelry designer is kind of like calling the kid who plays dress up with Mommy's clothes a clothing designer, though.)

Oh, by the way, the photo is of the original version of a sundae ring I made a couple months ago. This is one of the projects I'm hoping to get back to in the next few weeks. The sundae is Moretti/Effetre glass and the ring is PMC3.

Clouds in my Coffee

Well, since it's technically Sept. 12th, I thought I'd go ahead and post this. The truth is, I was about to head off to bed when I realized I hadn't yet made the applesauce for the Short One's breakfast. Since homemade applesauce is one of the three foods that the S.O. will eat (this week, at least) without extensive complaints to the Management (read: Mommy) about the quality of the cuisine and accommodation, it's worth my while to stay up a little longer to cook the stuff. So, this is all being written to the cheerful bubbling of apples in juice (no added refined sugar, please) with a dash of cinnamon in the background.

Anyway, this is my "Kona Coffee" necklace. It's my first entry to Art Bead Scene's September Challenge "When Beads Collide". The requirement for this month's challenge is to combine art beads from at least two different artists into one piece. Here, the smashing coffee pendant is by Green Girl Studios and the lovely Kona-themed lampworked beads are by Melanie Egan of Moonraker Beads. The coffee pendant is a pretty recent acquisition (although I had it on my wish list for a while), but the lampworked set has been sitting in my bead box for a while now, so it's very gratifying to be able to use it. I just bought this strand of brown-red garnet beads a few days ago - the shades in the strand range from black coffee to cafe au lait, so I had to use them in this necklace. I finished the piece with sterling silver accent beads and toggle clasp.

This is going to sound a little corny, but this theme has a special place in my heart, as my husband and I were married in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. We didn't drink much coffee while we were there, but still. Neither of us had ever visited the resort where we chose to be married. In fact, neither of us had ever been to Hawaii before. Like complete idiots, we decided it would be perfectly plausible to be married there and made all of the arrangements by phone. (Well, okay, the resort handled most of the details - Hawaii isn't a lover's destination for nothing, after all.) It was absolutely perfect - I wouldn't have changed a single detail. The bridegroom and guests probably would have changed the brief rain shower that occurred fifteen minutes before the beach-side ceremony, but it gave us such a gorgeous sunset, I don't think in retrospect anyone minded. Well, I hope not, at least.

Ooh, the applesauce is done. Time for me to toddle off to bed. Have a nice Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

'Tis the Season

I've decided it's time to get back to the cute and sweet stuff, after working on all that Shakespearean twaddle for several weeks, so I thought I'd try making candy corn again. This is my second attempt (I can't imagine that anyone really wants to know, but if you do, the first attempt is in the lampworking folder in my flickr account). They came out a little long and toothy looking, but I kind of like them that way. I made the mistake of asking the Husband what he thought of them (he always takes my questions very seriously which is both good and bad, from my perspective), and he pointed out that real candy corn is fatter and has a bigger orange section. Grrr, what a literalist. This is Art - it's my interpretation of candy corn! It would be boring if it looked exactly like the real stuff, right? Right? (Yeah, he didn't buy it either.)

Anyway, after my first attempt at making these, I mentioned that I'd had some problems to Kristine Dery of Krissy Beads, and she very generously offered me some tips for correcting my problems. Thank you so much, Kris! I still need more practice, but these are so much better than the first batch - and that's thanks to you!

I love candy corn - one of those 100% artificial tasting products that I find hard to resist. I can feel my teeth decay every time I eat a handful. I am racking my brains trying to remember if candy corn is actually sold in England - similar to fortune cookies and semi-sweet chocolate morsels, I think not? At any rate, if you are not familiar with it - it's a candy molded to look like a kernel of corn - it's made primarily of corn syrup (I think). There might be something sweeter on the market, but, if so, I'm not familiar with it.

Sometimes I wonder why I feel compelled to make and wear sweets beads. It's a strange compulsion, no? When I was a child, my mother bought me this fantastic candy bead necklace for Valentine's Day, complete with peppermint stick beads, jelly beans, yes, candy corn, and even a few teeth with cavities. I still have it somewhere. I'll have to dig it out and show you. So, maybe I can blame all of this on Mom?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Here's the final piece. I had the devil of a time trying to photograph this. Black beads on a black background just doesn't seem ideal, but all my attempts to use a white background ended up making the silver looked washed out. I'm clearly not doing something right. Until I started posting on-line, I never knew how difficult it is to photograph jewelry and beads well. (Weirdly, it always reminds me of food dressers - you know, those folks who put lipstick on strawberries to make them look more luscious for commercials. I have no idea why my brain makes this connection, though.) Anyway, as you can see, I ended up swapping out the blood red glass drops for black faceted spinel beads, so I could use the sponge coral for the rest of the piece. I also realized after I finished it, that I have no shirt or dress with the right neckline to actually wear this necklace well. Sigh.

The long focal beads remind me a little of the streaming green binary code that appears in the movie "The Matrix". I've been toying with the idea of making a binary code necklace with green and black accent beads next...

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Them Bones

After fiddling around with it for a little while, I thought that the "Something Wicked" necklace needed a few accent beads, so I decided to try to make a simple skull charm. What do you think - do they look like stylized skulls to you? I like the ones with the longer teeth the best. I probably won't use all of these in the necklace, though. The clasp is supposed to be a moon clasp, but I'm not sure that really comes through in the design. I think I'll still use it. Hopefully, I'll have the finished necklace to show you tomorrow.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Something Wicked

Well, this is basically all that I've been able to accomplish this week, sigh. I ran out of metal clay right before we went on vacation. I didn't want to order more before we left and risk it coming while we were away (the stuff is too expensive to be sitting around). I placed an order while we were in NYC, and it finally arrived yesterday. Other than the "something" looking a little crowded, I think it came out, well, okay. Maybe. We'll see how it looks once it's all assembled. I was originally going to string it with a strand of branch coral (above), but now I think the color of the glass drops is going to clash with the coral. I wish I'd bought the black glass drops instead, sigh. On the other hand, I also have a couple nice strands of black spinel and some chunky faceted onyx. Clearly, I'm still undecided on how to finish this piece. Also, I haven't made the clasp yet. In other words, I really don't have much to show for this week. Oh, well. Have a good weekend, anyway!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jonathan Coulton

So, back to music I listen to when I work... I'm a big fan of Jonathan Coulton. He's a little hard to describe. He used to be a software designer. As a result, his witty lyrics often dwell on esoteric subjects like - well, writing code and Mandelbrot sets. He also did very, um, unusual covers of songs like "Baby Got Back" (turned into a ballad - it has to be heard to be believed) and "We are the Champions". If you like They Might Be Giants, you'll probably want to give him a listen. The above YouTube video is a fan tribute of "Code Monkey", one of his more popular singles. There are several tributes of this song floating around YouTube, but I'm insanely fond of this version - which is just of a college student in flannel pjs in her dorm room, but her interpretation of the lyrics is great. If you like this single, check out his website, where you can listen to many of his songs on-line. I recommend "Re Your Brains" and "Chiron Beta Prime". Also, if you are a parent, you need to listen to "Stroller Town."

Thanks for stopping by!

ps. If you'd like to see any other tribute versions of Code Monkey, here's a fun one based on an anime - seems peculiarly appropriate, given the subject matter of the song.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fired Clay Artists

Hi, there! The family arrived home this afternoon from our short stay in New York. It was quite pleasant - the weather was sunny, we saw friends and had a fun time, and the Short One actually SLEPT this trip, which was a pleasant surprise. The S.O. directs our recreational itinerary these days, which means that we visited one of the playgrounds in Central Park, the Central Park Zoo and the Children's Museum of Manhattan (the Short One gives CMOM "two thumbs up" and highly recommends the model fire truck on the third floor), and that was pretty much it on the cultural end.

Okay, I managed to squeeze in two visits to Bruce Frank Beads (on the Upper West Side - 83rd b/t Amsterdam and Broadway) - which just happens to be right across the street from CMOM, but that was it on the bead and knitting front. Bruce Frank is a fabulous little store. They can be a touch on the pricey side, but they have some unusual items. And their sale walls had a lot of tempting things, this time - I came away with some strands of carnelian, garnet and shell pearl for really decent prices. Plus, I found some blood red Czech glass drops for my "Something Wicked" necklace. They have a website, but it doesn't do justice to the breadth of stock in the actual store, in my opinion.

We also ate really well. Sometimes I think we go to New York just for the food. My husband's and my favorite restaurant is Gobo - a sort of fusion Asian vegetarian restaurant (now that I think of it, it may be vegan, but I'd have to take one more look at the menu to be sure) that, along with Terre a Terre in Brighton, England, are the two best vegetarian restaurants anywhere, in my opinion. I am not a vegetarian (my husband is) but the cuisine is so imaginative and delicious that I would definitely pass up meat dishes in favor of most of the items on the menu at these two restaurants. We also had stunningly good Japanese at Roppongi (and the waiters were extremely polite about the amount of rice that the S.O. managed to dribble all over the floor, which is a plus, in my books). Hmmm, sadly, I can't seem to find a website for Roppongi in NYC - it's located at 81st and Amsterdam, for any interested parties.

The icing on the cake for this trip? When I came home today I discovered that I've won the Summer Design Contest sponsored by Fired Clay Artists. My wood nymph necklace was the winning piece. The funny thing is, I submitted several works to this contest, but I almost didn't submit this one, as I was worried that the colors were too earthy and autumnal to be considered a "summer" piece (which was the theme for the contest). I guess it just goes to show that you never can tell. At any rate, Fired Clay Artists is an association of very talented ceramic bead artists, for anyone not already familiar with the organization. Go here to learn more about them.

Really, the only drawback to the whole weekend was that we were so busy with the Children's Museum etc. that I completely forgot about Earthenwood Studio's Labor Day weekend sale and missed the deadline to place my order. I remembered at 12:20am this morning. Argh. I have a memory like a sieve.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope everyone had a nice weekend.