Friday, February 29, 2008

When the snow melts, what does it become? Part 2

I'm just squeaking in under the wire for a Friday post - it's 11:54pm where I live. I re-made the "When the snow melts" pendant today. (For anyone who hasn't already read it, please go here for a photo of the first pendant, which I lost, and an explanation behind the design.) I felt that I made the colors slightly too light in the first version. I think I overcompensated here, though, and they turned out slightly darker than I intended. Resin always looks different after its been applied to the silver than it does on my mixing board, and I have a hard time gauging the shade as I'm applying pigment to it. I still like the way this came out, though. Plus, I really do like the understated effect of these white druzy quartz cabochons. When the light hits them a certain way, they sparkle tremendously. I may have to make an effort to visit that rock shop again to see if they have a few more of these...

I actually managed to meet the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the week - I made five new projects over the past couple days. I even managed to write up the proposals and submit them, a whole four days before the actual deadline. For me, the ultimate procrastinator, this is a decent accomplishment. Whether or not they were good enough for the editors to accept any of them is a different story... Still, this is the first time I've managed to design full pieces for some of the pendants I created earlier this year, which was fun. Hopefully, I'll be able to show them to you later on.

We took the Short One out to dinner tonight (even as a toddler, he has excellent restaurant manners and really enjoys eating out - I mean, he enjoys the ambiance. Whether he actually eats the food is kind of a toss-up). For some reason, he fixated tonight on the lemon wedges that were served with a plate of calamari. Despite out attempts to save him from himself on this point, he complained until we gave him a wedge, from which he promptly tried to take a bite (which is very unusual - usually he approaches new food the way a wild animal approaches a National Geographic photographer - suspiciously and with great caution). After a ten second routine involving squinty eyes, lips puckering and a huge shudder - which I'm sorry to say that both H. and I found terribly entertaining - I took the wedge away, figuring that he had learned a lesson about lemons. The SO ended up being a glutton for punishment, though, as he spent most of the meal trying to swipe the wedges from the table again for a second bite (which we watched with great interest, as he had the exact same response) and then a third bite. As usual, I would give serious money to know what is going on in his mind at times like this...

I'm finishing up a second pendant tonight - so I should have something new (well, newish - this is a new version of an older design) on Monday. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ornament Thursday - LUCK

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! Each month, a group of diverse but like-minded artists come together to create pieces based on a common theme. For more information regarding Ornament Thursday, please go here.

This month's theme is "luck". Now, I think everyone had in mind "luck of the Irish", given the timing of this theme, but I decided on a departure from this interpretation. I don't know - call it "luck of the Chinese" or, more properly, "luck of the Chinese Take-out"? Please bear in mind that I am not Chinese. Of course, neither are fortune cookies, really, so I feel that it's all good. Accounts differ as to where the first fortune cookie was invented. The Husband believes that Chicago was the location, other accounts seem to indicate California. As far as I'm aware, fortune cookies remain unique to US Chinese restaurants. (To my non-US readers - I'd be interested in any information to the contrary.)

I am not a superstitious person, but I love fortune cookies (I have even been known to eat them). I tend to save the good fortunes and the funny ones. They end up in ceramic vases, desk drawers, books, candy dishes, etc., etc. all around my house, my parents' house, my friends' houses. So, when I started working with PMC and resin, fortune cookie fortunes seemed like a good candidate for a piece of jewelry. It seemed obvious to me, anyway.

I think this is a good example of finding inspiration in everyday objects. These days, I am unfashionable and I do not follow trends - I barely manage to wear matching socks and have, on one memorable occasion BSO (Before Short One), managed to show up at the office wearing my shirt inside out. When I design a piece of jewelry, I look to the things I find interesting - poetry, manga, movies, music, games, traffic lights and, well, fortune cookies. To me, nothing epitomizes good luck like a favorable fortune cookie fortune.

The fortune used in this necklace (and you can click on the photo for a close-up) is actually from our local Chinese restaurant, a very child-friendly place where the Short One (a picky eater) will condescend to eat a little chicken and all of the baby corn from the restaurant's version of lemon chicken. Our family, is, as a result, a regular at this restaurant. So, there is a little bit of our daily lives infused in this necklace, which I find appealing. To cap it off, the fortune itself says, "Something wonderful is about to happen to you". I can't imagine a better sentiment to help one get through the day.

For more luck (and who can have too much luck, after all?), please visit the websites of the other participants of this month's Ornament Thursday project:

Art Bead Scene
Lucky ABS! We're part 2 of Lucky Knots!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Luck is knotted up in Part 1 of this tutorial

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie is inspired by a lucky Leprechaun to make a fairy tale, treasure filled necklace

Jennifer Heynen of Jangles
Lucky Charms Bracelet...The name says it all. This bracelet has everything to bring you good luck.

Jenny Harada
Jingly Good Luck Charm

Joolz by Lisa
As Luck Would Have It...Lucky Earrings

Katie's Beading Blog
Make your own luck with these fun, swingy earrings!

Labyrinth O' Luck
Hali has created a finger labyrinth journal designed after a 4-leaf clover.

Linda Augsburg at Make It Mine magazine
Lucky doesn't begin to describe the adventure I had making this T-shirt...

Lucky to be... based on a coin holder a friend made for me...

Lucky To Be Me
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Well, YOU, of course. No matter who you are when you look into this magical mirror, you'll be reminded you're lucky to be you!

Lynn Kvigne - Beading Help Web
Irish Proverb Window Ornament - step by step instructions for making this year-round ornament that may bring luck right through your window!

Savvy Crafter
Get Lucky over on Candie's blog! She's giving away some Lucky charms and see her earrings made with napkins! Bon Appetit!!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
You'll "make Jean's day " if you check out her lucky Pendant with a Clint Eastwood eighties twist.

Swelldesigner gets lucky this month with some super colorful, sparkly painted bangles.

The Impatient Blogger
Luck starts with a wish...Margot shares an project she created for Simply Beads last August.

Thanks for visiting!

Work In Progress

Here's what I've been doing today. Well, at least part of what I've been doing. The Short One is normally not a good napper. On average, he only sleeps for about an hour - hour-and-a-half. His pediatrician has told me flatly that this is not enough sleep for a child his age, and we grapple with this issue on a daily basis. (For some reason, my asking him nicely to sleep a little longer doesn't seem to have much of an effect. Weird, huh?) As a result, on days that he does take that age-appropriate, longer nap, either 1) I am completely unprepared to take advantage of the extra time to get things done, or 2) I completely freak out and wonder if he's actually still breathing up there. So you will understand when I say I feel pretty proud that, during his unusual three hour nap today, I managed to get a bunch of chores done and a little beading. If only we could schedule these longer naps into the calendar. I wonder if I could ask the SO...

Anyway, obviously, this necklace is still a work in progress. It does, however, give an idea of how I work. I generally start out by opening up my stash and putting together color groupings. After I have determined color, I then weed out based on shape. Whatever is left, is what I end up spreading out on the table for my project. (Of course, this is sort of a generalization - sometimes I will have specific beads in mind for specific projects from the get go.) Then I usually gnash my teeth, pull my hair and agonize over composition for an indeterminate period of time. A friend of mine, who makes really beautiful beads and jewelry, told me that she aims to spend no more than an hour on any given beading project. I find this mind-boggling (bear in mind, again, that her stuff is really lovely and very original). I can see that becoming more efficient in this process is a goal I need to pursue - I definitely cannot get anything finished in an hour or less. I don't know, perhaps I should aim for getting something done in less than three days? (Okay, that is a slight exaggerating, but you get my drift.)

To this end, I've decided to try and get at least four-six projects finished this week. I had the foresight, for once, to check the editorial calendar of a magazine in which I've been interested. I've managed to miss the issue deadlines three times, due to complete absent-mindedness. As it stands, the next deadline is in a week, hence my suddenly ambitious (ambitous for me, at any rate) goal. So, if I seem as if I'm blithering a little more than usual this week, that'll be why.

Fortunately, my Ornament Thursday project is finished, and the next two posts will be OT-related. The format this month will be a little different. Tomorrow (and I may just post before going to bed tonight for Wednesday), I will offer a short sneak peek at the OT project. On Thursday, I will revise the same post to offer the full OT project. The reasoning is a little complicated, but this is the best way we've been able to organize the whole OT project. So, if you have this blog on bloglines, you will not get a notice about a new blog entry for Thursday. However, there will be a new entry - it will just be an edited version of the Wednesday posting. Clear as mud? Just stop by on Thursday - I guarantee that there will be something new to read. There won't be any project instructions this month, but I will offer some background on the piece.

Having said all this, I should probably get to work. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'll Fly Away

I just bought this cloud pendant from Rachel Place's Etsy store, Sugartoppers. Isn't it cute? The funny thing is, I'd been thinking about necklace designs with cloud themes lately. I think this bead will work perfectly with a design I currently have in my sketch book. Anyway, Rachel has a bunch of new work, including the cutest lampworked robots I've ever seen. I highly recommend checking her store out.

I had kind of a frustrating weekend. I ended up wearing the "What happens when the snow melts" pendant on Saturday, and I lost it. I had it on a simple chain which should've been fine, except I was carrying a load - messenger bag slung across my chest, diaper bag and the Short One. Somewhere along the way (probably at the grocery store), I think one of the bag straps must have inadvertently yanked the chain off, and I didn't notice until later that evening. I was completely bummed out. I'm usually disappointed when I lose something, but there's something about losing a piece that I've invested time and effort to make that's particularly disheartening. I have bad karma where that particular grocery store is concerned, too. Last spring I'd just finished knitting the SO a nice hat out of a beautiful shade of Koigu merino wool and, yep, I managed to lose that in the store, too, the very first time the SO wore it. Anyway, I think I just need to face facts and stop wearing any jewelry until the SO is a little older and doesn't require quite so much gear. (When will that be exactly, I wonder?) Kind of ironic, really.

On the plus side, I do have one more white druzy quartz cab in my stash. It's not quite the same size or shade, but I should still be able to make one more "What happens when the snow melts" pendant. Also, I've been working on my project for Ornament Thursday (which is this Thursday), and it's coming along quite nicely. I hope you'll visit later this week, to see it.

On the home front, I've decided that the Husband is not longer allowed to take any business trips. (Won't his boss be surprised when I 'phone him up to tell him this?) Every time H. has gone out of town this winter, we've had a huge snow dump in his absence. Tonight's snow was particularly annoying, as it was quite wet and heavy - very hard to shift. Plus, I haven't yet figured out a good way to handle shoveling with an active toddler in the house.

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Thanks for visiting, as usual!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Umm, is it still Friday?

I spent last night finishing up my projects and packing up the four necklaces to be shipped off to the respective publishers. By the time I finished it was about 2am, so I decided to weasel out of posting on the blog and went to bed instead. I can't imagine anyone really missed me on a late Friday night, but I do apologize, if so.

Two of the necklaces I packed up were pieces I made last summer. They will finally be published in July, a full year after they were accepted for publication. I hadn't even looked at them for several months, so it was sort of interesting to inspect them and see,what, if any, progress I've made since then. One of the pieces that will be published in a magazine gallery includes my very first fortune cookie bead. I still like the way the bead looks, but it's quite a bit heavier and thicker than the ones I make now. So, I feel that I have managed to refine that design over time, which is nice.

I also find it interesting how far in advance some of the magazines are planned out. As someone who has read beading magazines, on and off, since about 2000, I never really gave it much thought. I'm still surprised that some editors are looking at items a year or even longer out from publication. It does make me wonder a bit about how the magazines actually profile "current" fashion trends, etc.

Anyway, above is an older photo of the first necklace I made with PMC. It's not a great photo, but it's the only one I have (I gave the actual necklace to my mother-in-law for Christmas). This is the necklace that appeared in the January 2008 issue of BeadStyle. The magazine is no longer on the newstands, so I feel it's okay to go ahead and post this photo. As you may recall, if you're a longtime reader of the blog, I made this piece last May for an Art Bead Scene Challenge. As I think about it, I was just starting to try my hand at lampworking around this time last year. I had not yet even thought about metal clay. Ironically, I bought my initial packet of metal clay, because I was in the market for a kiln for my glass beads, and I wasn't sure whether to get a kiln that could also handle metal clay. I wanted to try the material out before I invested in a kiln. (I have a feeling I may have mentioned this before - sorry if I'm being a little repetitive.) As it stands, I haven't been lampworking for many months, although admittedly, this is partially because my torch is set up in an unheated garage, and it's been quite cold where I live for a while now. Although I still have quite a ways to go to become more skilled at working with this material, designing jewelry seems like such an integral part of each day now. It's hard to remember what life was life before. (Well, okay, I used to knit a lot more before. The yarn in my huge stash still looks at me reproachfully whenever I open the closet in our guest room.)

(Of course, it's hard to remember what life was like before the Short One arrived, too! If it's a contest between jewelry and the SO as to which one made a bigger impact, I suppose you wouldn't be too surprised to learn that the SO made a bigger impact, eh?)

Thanks for listening to my rambling and thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Byte Me

First of all, I'd like to say thanks for the kind get well wishes for the Short One. He spent about 5 hours vomiting last night (we finally got to bed at around 4am, after having to change clothes 7 times). Fortunately, though, it seems to have been a 24 hour bug. He still isn't eating well, but he's drinking a lot and getting over his dehydration well. I hate seeing him so miserable, but I can only hope that this will help build up his resistance against the time he inevitably catches the next bug.

I seem to recall that I had more to say about yesterday's pendant, but I can't for the life of me remember what, so it can't have been all that important. Yet another example of my advancing senility, I'm afraid. Anyway, moving right along, here's the second pendant I made this week. This is a collaboration between myself and the Husband. As you may recall, the H. had been encouraging me to make a hexadecimal version of the Geek Love pendant, but I really didn't have an idea of what to say with it (I didn't want to repeat "love"). I sat down and asked for suggestions a few nights ago, and he said, "How about 'byte me'?" Being a truly horrible pun, I decided I liked it. So, here it is - the byte me pendant.

I made a couple compromises in the design here, which I hope won't bug anyone too much. I eliminated the characters for "carriage return" and "new line", because it made the top line too unwieldy. In order to make the pendant a decent size, I also squished the numbers together just a bit. The pendant is supposed to read: "62 79 74 65" and "6d 65" - hopefully, you can see that in my version.

This will probably be the last code version Geek Love pendant that I make. I do have two more Geek Love pendants that I'm working on, but they're in a slightly different format. I hope to get to them next week. After that, I'll probably move on to something new.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When the snow melts, what does it become?

Right now, spring seems just like wishful thinking on my part. Temperatures have been in the single digits here and the wind chill has been in negative territory for a while. Nevertheless, I have been thinking of spring lately and spring themes. Here's the first sort of spring themed piece (I suppose it's more transitional - more on this in a minute), but hopefully not the last, from me. By the way, I realized last night after posting my blog entry that I'd complained about not wanting to make floral pieces and, of course, this has a flower in it. It's not overly floral, though, right? Right?

This pendant was inspired by a riddle that appears in a very popular Japanese shoujo (meaning, for girls) manga that's currently running in the US called Fruits Basket. I've thought about it, and there's pretty much no way I can accurately describe the plot without it sounding completely like something you wouldn't want to read, so I'm not even going to try. Suffice it to say that it involves a rather pure-hearted but likeable protagonist and, apart from a dubious student-teacher relationship (which seems to be a very common theme in shoujo manga, unfortunately) of which I completely disapprove, I wouldn't mind if the Short One decided to read it, er, once he learns how to read. Seeing as he's a bit of a manly little man, I doubt he'll ever be interested, though.

At any rate, at one point in the story, one of the characters poses a riddle to another, which goes something like this:

"When the snow melts, what does it become?"
"It becomes water, of course."
"Wrong! It becomes spring!"

I've been wanting to make a piece of jewelry that depicts this riddle for a while now. (In fact, this may not be my only attempt - I'm quite fond of this notion.) Last week, I visited a rock shop in the town where we used to live before the SO arrived and picked up a couple things, including a few small Brazilian druzy quartz cabochons. A couple of them were snow white and reminded me very much of ice crystals. So I designed this pendant where the druzy symbolizes winter and the flower beneath it, of course, symbolizes the coming spring.

Okay, the SO has been vomiting for the past half hour. It seems he's picked up a stomach bug. I need to sign off - I'll be back when I can. ' Night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Young Man's Fancy

I actually did fire a kiln load of PMC today, but nothing's finished (still need to buff, dip in liver of sulphur, polish, add resin, etc., etc.), so I'm punting again today. I was going to embed a nice video today, but discovered that said video is not embeddable (is this a word? looks a bit odd), so I'm recycling the photo of my Kissing Bandit necklace, instead. It seems like the right time of year for this piece, anyway...

I've been struggling to come up with new designs with a spring theme. To me, spring is all about flowers and new leaves budding everywhere, and I'm just not all that keen on doing anything floral with PMC. The Husband suggested thinking about birds, instead (actually, he suggested slugs and worms, first, but I nixed those ideas).

In my usual stream-of-consciousness way, I ended up thinking of funny mating dances that birds perform, which in turn made me think of the riflebird. The Husband and I enjoy watching documentaries, including nature documentaries. During one of these (I think it was David Attenborough's "Living Planet", but I'm not sure), we were introduced to the riflebird, a bird which performs my all-time-favorite, no-holds-barred mating dance. They remind me of flashy flamenco dancers. I couldn't find the "Living Planet" footage anywhere on the Internet, but National Geographic does have a nice clip of a couple riflebirds strutting their stuff. I really recommend it - it's even worth sitting through the sponsor's commercial and the somewhat irritating narration. Go here to view it.

I have no idea how this could possibly translate into a bead or pendant, though. So much for inspiration, eh?

Right, the deadline for my magazine projects is fast approaching and I also still need to file my state sales tax return tonight, so I have to boogie. Thanks for stopping by! There will be new work and a more substantial blog entry tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I've been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Lorelei. I met Lorelei through Art Bead Scene. She makes lovely jewelry and was recently interviewed by ABS. Go here to read the interview.

Hmm, I've never done this before, so you'll have to excuse me if I don't do something quite right. Okay, here are the rules:

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

Seven random and/or weird facts about myself:

1. I cry easily and am extremely sentimental. What this basically means is that you'll sometimes come across me watching tv, sobbing over a McDonalds commercial (embarrassing but true).

2. I started making beads to avoid going completely stir-crazy at home when the Short One was an infant. I love the SO as only a neurotic older mother can, but I still needed (and still need) a little private time.

3. For me, the only way to eat a poached egg is with soy sauce.

4. I never really outgrew liking stuffed animals. In fact, the Short One's monkey (Senior) was actually my monkey before the SO was born. I made the Husband buy the monkey for me before we married. I mean, I seriously made him buy it for me - a few tears (read no. 1, above) and a you're-so-cheap-you-won't-even-buy-me-a-stuffed-monkey sentiment may have been involved. (I'm not proud of this, but, as I've pointed out to H., the monkey is the SO's favorite buddy now, so it's all good. For some reason, H. rolls his eyes a lot when I say this.)

5. My favorite flavor of ice cream is Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide.

6. I never wear makeup. Even when I was working as a lawyer, I never wore it. (Although one of the male partners in the large New York firm where I started my career once told my next door neighbor to look more professional and "put on some makeup", I never actually had anyone say it to me. Thank God. Grrrr.)

7. I'm scared of large insects, like cicadas. We had one of those 17-year cicada summers this past summer where I live. I ended up getting cicadas in my hair and down my shirt while strolling with the SO under some trees - I screamed (the SO found this terribly entertaining). After that, any time a cicada made it into our basement (the whole town was crawling with them for six weeks), I always sent the Husband downstairs to deal with it.

Okay, so now you know more about me than you probably wanted to know. I had a very hard time selecting just seven victims, er, friends to tag in turn, but here is what I decided:

CaliGirl Art Glass
Diane Hawkey
Monkee Maker
This Girl Beads
The Vicious Chicken
Working Mom Knits

Okay, I must confess - I have a memory like a sieve. I may have inadvertently selected one or two people who have been tagged previously (I have one person in mind in particular, but I scanned her archives and did not come up with a relevant post). If you've already been tagged and would like to pass, feel free to leave me a comment, and I'll pick someone else. Also, there are a couple people I would have tagged, but I was almost positive they'd already been tagged, so... And I know I picked eight people, not seven - shhhh! (Why am I worrying so much about this? Am I really that anal? Don't answer that.)

Anyway, have a great day. I'm determined to get some beads done this week, so there should be new work to show in the next 2-3 days.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Queen of Hearts

I haven't flashed my bead stash in a while, so I thought I'd go ahead and show off a recent acquisition tonight. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know that I love skull beads. Anyone who's been reading this blog for the past couple weeks will know that I love unconventional Valentine-themed beads. So, you may not be too surprised to learn that I snapped this bead up the minute I saw it on Etsy. This witty Queen of Hearts skull was made by Joan Miller, one of my favorite ceramic artists (with silver work by Penny Michelle). I haven't decided exactly how I'm going to string it yet, but I have the impression it will be a slightly gothic, over-the-top kind of piece.

On other fronts, my binary code pendant has been featured by Jamie Kuli McIntosh on her wonderful blog, Twisted Textiles. Jamie contacted me last week for permission to use my photo and link to my Etsy store for her blog entry on Valentine's goodies. I am extremely flattered to be included in this talented group of artists that she's put together. Please go here to read the blog entry. And while you're there, be sure to check out her cool Crop Circle Quilt.

I can't believe it's already February 15th. I feel as if I've accomplished nothing this month, except indulge in a couple sneezy colds. I'm in the process of writing up two beading projects that are due in a couple weeks, but even with those I've been unduly dragging my feet. I've sketched out my project for Ornament Thursday (which will be posted at the end of the month), but I haven't made or fired the components for it yet. I don't know why, but February always seems to be a relatively unproductive month for me. I think that by February I feel that the winter has dragged on long enough, and I'm looking for a little spring fever. We've had an unusually wintry February where I live, too - lots of snow in just the past couple weeks with more predicted this weekend. It's interesting for the Short One, who is determined to get to grips with all of this strange, cold, white stuff, but I'm definitely ready for a little more sunlight and warmer weather.

I suppose that instead of writing about how little I'm getting done this month, I should actually go do something. As usual, thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Photos are Appreciated!

One of the winners of my recent giveaway made my day by emailing me a photo of herself wearing the prize. Isn't this a great photo? She makes the necklace really pop by pairing it with that lovely print jacket and top and that GORGEOUS hair!! Thank you so much for sending it to me.

I have to confess here that I often find it difficult to wear the jewelry that I make, because my wardrobe these days is completely Suburban Mom circa 2002 (which is odd, because the Short One wasn't around in 2002). The best I can usually manage on the fly (really all of the time I get from the SO - he's strangely impatient about issues such as wearing clothes) is a pair of jeans with a plain tee shirt and leather running shoes. In fact, a good friend of mine who knew me from my dressier days was visiting last year and commented tactfully one morning that she would be happy to look after the Short One for a few minutes, if I wanted to go and change before we left the house. The look of horror she gave me when I explained that I was already dressed to go out was suitably veiled, but she spent an hour after that, dragging me around the boutiques to try to pick out some new clothes and shoes. Anyway, I hardly ever have the opportunity to see my jewelry in a stylish setting, so the photo was a special treat in that regard.

While no one who owns one of my pieces should feel pressured to send in photos, if you are interested in doing so, I would definitely love to see them. (Oh, and I won't post anything that's sent to me on the blog, unless I have explicit permission to do so.) My email is

Oh, one other bit of news to report, here. Regular readers of my blog may remember back in December that I was a little down after packing up some of my beads (that I pulled from the Etsy store and one of which actually came from a necklace I was forced to cut apart) to send in to a magazine. A friend had sent me a copy of the call for entries just a couple days before the deadline, and I had had no time really to prepare anything new for it and felt my chances of getting in were slim to none. After hearing nothing from the magazine for almost two months, I was convinced that I'd been rejected. Much to my surprise, I found out yesterday that all three types of beads I submitted have been accepted for publication. The name of the magazine is BEADS2008 - it's an annual publication put out by BEADWORK magazine that's designed to be a resource guide for new beads and beading products. It will be out on the stands on April 22d. I am extremely excited about this - I own last year's issue, BEADS2007, and it's a great publication, with lots of photos of beautiful art beads by wonderful artists in it. Thanks again, so much, to my friend who originally alerted me to the call for entries - you are a very generous person!

Thanks for visiting! See you tomorrow.

ps. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PostSecret - A Valentine Video

I finally joined StumbleUpon a couple days ago. Have you heard of this service? You sign up, indicate areas in which you have an interest (shopping, mathematics, art, crafts, etc., etc.) and the service provides you with a "Stumble" button. Each time you hit it, it will take you to a random webpage that matches your interests. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about the whole idea - until I tried it. The next thing I knew it was several hours later, and I'd found dozens of new interesting websites that I otherwise would never have encountered. Frankly, I need more time on the Internet the way I need a hole in the head, but the whole serendipity factor to "stumbling" is pretty charming.

Anyway, I have a number of favorites already (which you can see if you visit my page on StumbleUpon - I'm registered as Strandsofbeads), but out of everything I've discovered so far, this is my top pick.

The above YouTube video supports a project called PostSecret. Apparently PostSecret has received a lot of press since its inception, so this may be old news to you. I'd never heard of it, however, and I find it fascinating. The project invites people to reveal their secrets anonymously via handmade postcards. The project asks only that the secret revealed be true and be one that the sender has never disclosed before. Of course, there's no way to check this, but some of these are so poignant, that it's hard to believe there's nothing behind them, even if they aren't strictly "true". Anyway, the postcards are posted to the PostSecret blog each Sunday.

I took a peek at last Sunday's posts, and they are, by and large, wonderful. Many of the postcards are works of art in themselves and they express such a broad range of lovely, wonderful, sad, angry emotions, that it's hard not to fall in love with them. If you aren't already familiar with this blog, I highly recommend it. Please go here to visit it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is it Valentine's Day Yet?

I know it's a little early to be celebrating Valentine's Day, but the Husband is currently traveling in Belgium on business and will be heading to Italy on the 14th (life is rough, eh?). The upshot is that I'm not sure he'll have Internet access on Valentine's Day, so I'm posting this now to ensure that H. has something to look at by the holiday. (H. usually doesn't read the blog, but I'll direct his attention here tomorrow.)

I've come to the conclusion that I have pretty much zero talent at rubber stamping and should stick with what I know, but, well, it's the thought that counts here, right? And it's a romantic thought, too, right? Right?? What's that you say? It just looks like a bunch of jumbled numbers to you?

I should probably point out at this juncture that H. is an engineer with a background in computer programming. I should also mention that, ever since I made my binary code "love" pendant, he's been hinting around that I should make one in hexadecimal, too. I haven't done this (yet), but I did look up how to say "I love you" in hexadecimal. Yup. Not bad, eh? Certainly a lot shorter than in binary...

So, anyway, Happy Valentine's Day, H. The Short One and I are thinking of you - we can't wait until you're back home, safely, so we can smother you with kisses. Smooch.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chains of Love

I finally got around to making a piece for Art Bead Scene's February Challenge, which is "Chains of Love". The instructions for this month indicated that the chains could be either thematic or literal, so I decided to go the thematic route for my first submission. I wanted to create something simultaneously delicate and Gothic looking. As I hadn't had the luxury of designing with any of the pendants I'd made for Valentine's Day, I decided to use one of my dragon heart pendants as the focal. I had picked up a couple strands of really delicate, needle-like looking black bamboo coral at a trade show a few months ago, and I thought they would work pretty well with the relatively small scale of the pendant. I'm a big sucker for a purple/green color combination anyway, so I thought separating the black bamboo beads with violet and olive colored beads might be interesting. I also tucked in a few pieces of amethyst and garnet for embellishment. I debated using a larger toggle for the clasp, but I wanted to keep things unobtrusive so I opted ultimately for a simple lobster claw clasp. The piece is light and, despite the spikiness of the coral, comfortable to wear. I'm reasonably happy with it, and I'm very happy to have finally had a chance to design with some of the PMC pieces I've been making lately.

On other fronts, the Short One has come down with yet another cold, and this one has been a whopper so far - hacking cough, constant dribbling (leading to a rash on the cheeks) and a subdued toddler who actually went to bed tonight without a complaint, which is always worrying from my perspective (and which I always find ironic, since I usually feel pretty tired by the time the SO has finished indicating to me that he's not feeling sleepy at all and has tons of energy to spare). On top of which, I've managed to catch it from him this time, and am starting to develop my own hacking cough and glazed expression, etc., etc. The weather around here certainly isn't helping. I think it actually reached 10 degrees (F) here today. There's just something wrong when you start thinking of that as unusually warm, in my books...

On that note, I think I'll be unconventional and turn in early. Thanks for stopping by! See you tomorrow.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's Alive

After a little hair-pulling - both mine and the Husband's (the Short One pulled our hair, too, but I'm not confident it actually had anything to do with our lack of DSL) - it turns out that the problem was not so much with our DSL line as with our modem. After six years of dedicated service, it keeled over in such a quiet manner that it took us a while to figure out that it had keeled over. After being continually disconnected while trying to order a new modem via telephone through our Internet service provider (one agent actually told me I could go on-line to take care of it - I had to restrain myself from becoming too sarcastic at this point), it finally occurred to me that I might actually have a second modem from the company that was automatically sent to us when we renewed out contract a couple years ago. For once in my life, my tendency to never ever throw anything away no matter how useless looking the object in question might be was completely vindicated - after a bit of poking around in the garage, I found the dusty box marked "DSL" complete with modem, cables and installation instructions. So, anyway, the upshot of this meandering, not terribly interesting paragraph is that I'm back on-line. Which of course you already knew, since you're reading this post. Sigh.

Okay, on to more productive things. One of the items I was meaning to show you before the snow storm hit last week was this cute packet from Maria Grimes of Garden Path Beads. Maria is holding a designer's challenge - twelve people, including me, have received packets identical to the one above, which includes a variety of beads and charms, and some of Maria's cute porcelain flowers. I had no idea when I entered my name for the challenge what the packet would include (although I knew I would love it, since I love Maria's beads). I was pleasantly surprised to see these spring-inspired materials, and, as you know, I'm all about rose quartz these days. According to the rules, we must use all of the materials in the packet, but we are allowed to add materials. I imagine I'll be making something with PMC to go along with this, but I'm not sure what, yet. I am such a sucker for design challenges like this - I always love seeing the range of projects designers create out of the same set of materials. Anyway, the deadline for the challenge is March 31st, so I'll have a finished project to show you in early spring.

The second thing I wanted to show you (or at least provide a link), is this funky crocheted coral reef that was on exhibit in Chicago late last year. I did not get a chance to see it in person (I just found out about it), but the photos are nice and detailed. I am a sucker for stuff like this - knitted gardens, crocheted coral reefs. Just brilliant. Go here to see photos from the Institute for Figuring's "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef".

That's it for me, today. With our DSL up and running, I should be back to my usual M-F posting schedule. Have a good night! See you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please Stand By.

Hi, there. Just a quick note from me - my Internet connection kicked out yesterday during a snow storm we had here, and it has not been restored yet. I'm writing this at the local library right now. Needless to say, I am climbing the walls (who me, addicted?). I will be back as soon as our DSL is back which WILL BE SOON, HOPEFULLY, FOR MY SANITY IF NOTHING ELSE. Ahem. Have a good evening, everyone. Talk soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Look familiar? Well, the words should look familiar at least, from my Ornament Thursday project for January. This card says (in shaky, shaky letters) "I love you" in Pig Latin (my favorite kind of Latin). Why, you ask, am I making very amateur-ish looking Valentine's Day cards? Perhaps you think you've reached the wrong blog?

Well, okay, I am taking a slight detour from jewelry-making and knitting. It has to do with a long-standing custom in our household. Since the Husband and I started dating we've had a deal not to buy gifts for Valentine's Day, but to make cards for each other. This was our little way of making the holiday slightly less commercial in tone. And I say "cards" very loosely - the year before the Short One arrived, my husband made me a sign that said "SMOOCH" in neon-like letters (it was really made of some kind of luminescent tubing), and, in the past, I made him tiny origami hearts that I placed in an origami folded box. Of course, the SO was our Valentine's gift to each other the year he arrived, and given our time constraints since then, we've radically pared back our projects for V-Day.

I thought this year that an actual card might make a refreshing (and easy) change, so I went to the local paper shop, bought an ink pad, a cute pig stamp (I already had letter stamps - the ones that I use on PMC), and some card stock. How hard, I thought, could it be to make a simple Valentine? Well, apparently, I just don't have the knack for it, as, an hour later I'd manage to stamp everything in sight and had covered myself and all inanimate objects around me with red ink (thankfully, H. did not ask why the computer kepboard looked vaguely pink the next day). This is the cleanest copy of this particular card (I have a different card that I will show you another time) that I came up with that night, and I clearly need to try again. I have a far, far greater appreciation for people who scrapbook than I did before I started this endeavor. Me, I haven't even sorted my wedding photos yet.

Anyway, that's the debacle of the day. Actually, that's one of the debacles of the day. Even in the face of another intense winter storm and up to 12 inches of snow tonight, I still fired the kiln to take care of of a custom order (and a few other things - I don't fire my kiln half empty if I can help it). I raced around to finish the piece, took the photographs, got everything ready - and then discovered that Etsy is currently experiencing a bug that's preventing anyone from uploading photographs at the moment. Grrr.

Perhaps I'll try again, instead of banging my head against the computer. Have a good day, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Another year...

Dear Short One,

Now that you are tucked in to bed, having managed during dinner to wrestle that bit of leftover birthday cake from my fingers (I thought you were only interested in the icing, honest) and cram it into your mouth along with the piece you were holding, I feel it safe to reflect a bit on the time we have spent together.

Your Daddy and I were perhaps not model parenting material - Dad wanted kids to pass on his "good values" (or something close to that - I don't remember exactly the words he used when we were dating), and I was scared to death of babies and tended to squint and pretend not to see them whenever our paths crossed in public. Clearly, we needed help. In the few years since your arrival, you have managed to raise us right, and we hope that we are now a credit to you as parents. (Certainly, I no longer have any fear of infants. Oy.)

We, in turn, have been happy to watch you grow and your little mind develop and become ever more devious month after month. Your attraction to the latest gadget with buttons (cell phone, Blackberry, computer, iPod, etc., etc.) was a revelation to us, especially that time you managed to call Daddy's business contact in Hong Kong on my cell phone in the middle of (their) night. Really, the time it took you to progress from crawling to walking to running seems terribly short in hindsight, and I noticed this weekend that you can pretty much reach everything on the dining room table now (given how quickly you climb onto the chairs) and a decent amount of stuff on the kitchen counters, so I guess we'll have to move all of the interesting things over to the fireplace mantel now. We are really looking forward to witnessing your creativity firsthand next year and enjoying your big personality.

We hope you had a great birthday. I, as evidenced by the photo above, really have no idea how to make a birthday cake, but I'm glad you appreciated my effort, anyway. I'm sorry I had to pry the Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster candles out of your hands, but you must admit that you did receive lots of nifty wrapping paper and a few puzzles and things afterwards, so I hope you will let bygones be bygones.

By the time you are old enough to read (and understand) this, I am sure I will no longer be allowed to kiss you in public, and many of the things I do will cause you excruciating embarrassment. So I figure there's nothing really to lose in saying here how much I love you and how glad I am that you are my baby boy.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

And the Winners Are...

Sorry for the short post, but I wanted to get the winners names up. Gladys has won the Koi Necklace! Huzzah! Congratulations, Gladys! Elaine has won the kyanite and pearl shell necklace! Huzzah! Congratulations, Elaine!

Gladys and Elaine, please email your address information to me at, and I will be happy to mail out your necklaces.

Okay, the Birthday Boy has indicated that he is up from his nap, and I need to go light some candles on a cake. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, February 1, 2008

They Say Its Your Birthday...

I'm sorry I have been such a deadbeat about my Friday evening posts lately. Both sets of grandparents are in town for the Short One's Birthday Bash (one set is also in town for the Husband's 40th birthday) and the Short One has been working himself into an excited frenzy what with being the center of attention of all of these adults (bearing in mind that the SO is the only grandchild on both sides of the family). I spent the evening making the SO's birthday cake (which hopefully will taste better than cardboard - it looks okay, at least...) and wrapping up the SO's gifts. The Husband spent the evening putting together the "Some Assembly Required" playhouse that my folks bought for him and muttering under his breath. (And so the SO's campaign to annex even more of our living space for his exclusive use continues apace.)

Thanks again to all who entered the very special Short One's Birthday Giveaway. I have put all of the entries in the SO's red cowboy hat and will ask him to pick two names when he wakes up. I will try to post the results at a reasonable hour, but in any event, some time tomorrow.

On other fronts, I have had two pieces accepted for publication in Step by Step Beads. This is the first time I will be appearing in this magazine, and I am pretty darned excited. No publication dates yet, but I will be sure to let you know when I have this information.

Oh, and for those who don't remember this necklace from a previous post, I strung this a while back to commemorate the SO's 1st birthday. The wonderful lampworked beads are by Lezlie Belanger.

Have a great night, everyone. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see who won the necklaces.