Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Here's another contest piece I worked up in March. To be honest, I'm not satisfied with the way this turned out and will probably disassemble the necklace and just use the components for separate projects. I was grappling with the design when I ended up falling ill towards the end of the month and was not able to complete the revised version before the contest deadline. I'm still planning on working out a revised version, as I think it will be much better than this iteration (which just bugs me), but, as with so many things, it's been tossed in my pending pile and I may not get around to finishing it for another month or so. In the meantime, for what it's worth, here's Koi-Hime, or "Koi Princess".

I can't believe it's the end of the month already. May is a big month for me, as it's the one year anniversary for my jewelry and bead-making. I made my first PMC necklace, the one that was published in BeadStyle in January, in the last three days of the month, for the Art Bead Scene Challenge. I also finally have to stop twitting the Husband about being 40 next month, as I will turn 40 myself at the end of May (H. is only three months older than me - I always feel I need to make the most of those three months, especially this year, while I'm still a young thing in my 30s). It's likely that I'll be in a state of denial, er, taking some time off in May (classic of the increasing number of "senior moments" I seem to suffer these days - I no longer remember how to do a strike-through on Blogger), especially as we already have plans to celebrate with a little vacation at the end of the month. Oh, and of course, Mother's Day is coming up soon, too. I've been hinting around during playtime with the Short One, that Mama would like a big smooch on Mother's Day, but it's pretty much gone in one ear and out the other with him, as far as I can tell. Kids. Tsk.

So, lots of things to think about for May. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the last few hours of April and the fact that the weather has finally warmed back up to the 50s (I know some of you, especially those living in California, may find this a little pathetic, but we take what we can get around here).

Thanks for visiting! Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hocus Pocus

Here's another project that's been hanging around for a while. I think I've posted a photo of the rabbit in the top hat before but not the entire necklace. The rabbit and the two lampworked drum beads are by Jena Fulcher. The rabbit head came as part of an spring/Easter-ish set of beads I bought from her a couple years ago. Although I like cute beads, for some reason Easter rabbit heads have never been my favorite, so the bead langquished in my bead box for a while until I figured out that he didn't have to be an Easter bunny. With a little PMC, I turned him into a magic trick. I added the magic wand and hoop toggle clasp and magic card to complete the effect. This is a necklace I would definitely wear myself, if I weren't afraid of the Short One yanking the rabbit off.

The SO was due for an injection at the pediatrician's office today, so we toddled off to see the nurse and get a shot and a consolatory 'Nilla wafer. The SO has been remarkably good about going to the doctor's office so far. He always has a "Hi, how're you doing" attitude to his doctor (which I think she finds refreshing - she once told me that kids generally figure out by 18 months that they don't like her). However, this time I guess the memory of having blood drawn last month for his check-up was still too fresh in his mind, and he started bawling the minute we entered the exam room. Poor guy. After it was all over, he just sat there with a forlorn look on his face, nibbling on his cookie.

I hope your day is going better, or, if not, that you, too, get a consolatory cookie. See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Think, Therefore I Am

Hi, how are you? I hope you had a good weekend. We ended up having a nice weekend with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. My brother-in-law who, like the Husband, is an excellent cook, wanted to visit a well-known spice store that's in the town where I used to live when I was a single girl, so we took a little trip over there during the weekend. The store is so redolent with the scent of exotic spices that it hits you like a ton of bricks the second you open the door to the shop. I would have a hard time working in that environment without having serious sinus issues, I think, but it's quite pleasant to visit.

The Short One and I visited the local yarn and bead stores while the men were shopping for spices. (I worry about the impact of the spices on the SO's nose - they're that strong - so I took the SO elsewhere. It's just coincidence that we ended up yarn and bead shopping. No, really.) I'm sure a tougher man would not have been able to avoid the temptation of the ball winders and the shiny beads, either, so I wasn't all that surprised that I had to haul the SO out of each venue (complaining bitterly) after a few minutes. When the men rejoined us, they were carrying bags of epicurean treasure with such exotic names as "grains of paradise" (I love that one - apparently, it's a pepper substitute). The aroma that filled the car on the ride back was unbelievable.

On other fronts, I still have a troublesome, hacking cough, but otherwise seem to be on the mend. However, after a week of mild weather, the temperature has dropped again, and we even had snow this afternoon. The SO was sniffling suspiciously today - I hope I'm wrong, but I'm just bracing myself for yet another round of colds in the house. Arrgh.

This necklace was another piece I made as a contest entry. It's sort of an homage to my love of cyberpunk. The binary code in the piece spells out the Cartesian principle "I think, therefore I am", which in this context is my own little joking reference to artificial intelligence. The multiple strands of leather cording are intended to suggest bundled computer cables. I intended to make beads based on circuit board design, as well, to put in the piece, but ended up running out of time. I may try to work those up separately at some point, though.

In the meantime, I've done an 180 and am currently working on a piece with an Italian Renaissance flavor - ornate and over the top. It's probably going to take me some time to finish this one, but I'm sure it will show up here eventually, once it's done.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ornament Thursday

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! (I must confess - I almost missed the boat on this one, as I thought the last Thursday of the month was next week. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.) This month's theme is "Motherhood". To see the team's excellent projects, please follow these links (my own full project can be found in the previous blog entry, below):

5 Generations of Mothers
Hali's first attempt at an altered book featuring family photos of great grandmother down to her niece.

Art Bead Scene
Add art beads to needle-felted flowers for the perfect Mother's Day corsage.

Candie Cooper
See a sweet project that Candie and her mom made together.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Celebrating Mother Earth with a ceramic pendant tutorial

Katie's Beading Blog
Make this easy talisman for new moms or moms-to-be

Linda at Make It Mine magazine
Quilts inspired by Mom's Mom

Modern Glass Link Earrings
Modern Glass Links for the Mom who's a classic!

Mommy-isms by Michelle

Strands of Beads
Melissa and the Short One celebrate motherhood with a little origami

The Swell Life - Swelldesigner's blog
Make this cool and colorful buckle inspired by the iconic "MOM" tattoo

UR Charmed Mother's Necklace
Easy to make and personalize necklace for Mom or Grandma!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ornament Thursday - Motherhood

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! Today's theme is "Motherhood," a topic on which I had zero knowledge until the Short One arrived and kindly agreed to educate me. (It's been quite an illuminating couple years.) While the SO and I continue to journey on this great adventure together, I thought it would be a good idea to sit back and reflect a little on our special time together.

I'm convinced that nothing emphasizes the passage of time so much as spending time with a young child, because the child changes and grows so darned quickly. With this in mind, I wanted to create a memento of our current time together. The SO is still quite young, but he has recently reached that stage where he finds simple paper crafts very entertaining. He cannot use scissors on his own yet, but he's quite fascinated by the paper chains, dolls, snowflakes and origami that I make for him from time to time.

The focal of this necklace is actually a small origami boat that I folded using paper-type PMC. (You can click on the photo for a closer look at the focal.) For anyone unfamiliar with this medium, this metal clay come in sheet form and feels a bit like vinyl. It can be folder, cut, stamped and otherwise manipulated in a way similar to paper. After firing, it leaves behind the usual fine silver. I must confess that I've had a single sheet of this sitting around in my tool box for almost a year - it came with the starter kit I purchased last May when I decided to give metal clay a whirl. While it's been on my list of things to try, I just hadn't gotten around to using it. (Having tried it once, though, I feel pretty motivated to continue using it.)

There are many simple origami boat patterns available, but this is the one I remember from my own childhood - the instructions for folding it used to be included in the basic pack of origami that my mother would buy for me at the local Japanese market. The SO has had many fun adventures with such paper boats (and hats - what's a commodore without a fancy folded paper hat, after all?), so I felt it would make a fitting focal for this necklace.

To finish the necklace, I added faceted aquamarine rondelles for "water" underneath the boat, and faceted round amazonite beads for the sky above the boat. The encased, dotted lampworked beads are my own practice beads from when I was learning to use the torch last spring - I thought they made a nice child-like suggestion of a rainbow. I set these colored beads off with small freshwater pearls. I had a nice sterling clasp that had a slightly nautical feel to it in my stash, so I used that to close the piece.

My son is young enough that it's unlikely that he will remember our time together playing with small paper boats. Moreover, in a couple years, these simple toys will be too crude to hold his interest. However, the time I spend with him now, as I continue to learn how to be a good mother to him, is precious to me, and I will be happy to wear this reminder of his childhood for many years to come.

Please visit these talented artists to see their own interpretations of Motherhood:

5 Generations of Mothers
Hali's first attempt at an altered book featuring family photos of great grandmother down to her niece.

Art Bead Scene
Add art beads to needle-felted flowers for the perfect Mother's Day corsage.

Candie Cooper
See a sweet project that Candie and her mom made together.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Celebrating Mother Earth with a ceramic pendant tutorial

Katie's Beading Blog
Make this easy talisman for new moms or moms-to-be

Linda at Make It Mine magazine
Quilts inspired by Mom's Mom

Modern Glass Link Earrings
Modern Glass Links for the Mom who's a classic!

Mommy-isms by Michelle

Strands of Beads
Melissa and the Short One celebrate motherhood with a little origami

The Swell Life - Swelldesigner's blog
Make this cool and colorful buckle inspired by the iconic "MOM" tattoo

UR Charmed Mother's Necklace
Easy to make and personalize necklace for Mom or Grandma!

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Set of Four

I've had a hard time shaking my cold, I'm afraid. I was feeling poorly again yesterday and ended up going to bed right after tucking the Short One in. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law will be paying us a visit in a couple days, and I'm trying to get over this by the time they arrive. It just seems that hacking and sneezing into their faces would not be ideal hostess form.

Not surprisingly, I did not make the cut with my contest entries. Sigh. The Husband pointed out that I am still doing pretty well this year, all things considered. Sometimes H. can be irritatingly reasonable. Grumble, grumble. Anyway, here's the first of my entries - a set of four dragon buttons. I used an amethyst cab for the eye this time. Nothing much else new in this design, though. I have been debating what to do with these (and the other entries). It does seem like a good opportunity to make some new finished pieces, so I probably will be designing with them in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Short One has been learning his colors. It still completely startles me when he points to blue and yellow for green and red and while for pink (which he does consistently at this point). I don't know when I learned how to mix colors, but I'm sure I was much older than the SO is now. I'm convinced this means he has some artistic inclination, but it could just be motherly delusion...

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Princess Charming

Well, this isn't exactly new work, but I don't think I ever posted a photo of the finished piece here, so I thought I'd go ahead and take the opportunity now. Yep, it's HRH Princess Charming. The focal contains a lovely floral lampworked pastille-shaped bead by Lezlie Belanger. This piece is pretty atypical for me - I was always very anti-girly-girl as a teenager and in my 20s (I wore a lot of black back then). Of course, I didn't like pink either, so go figure.

Since the Short One has been feeling better, and in order to give him some relief from the boredom of being stuck at home for the past few days, we ended up going out to dinner at a local Greek restaurant tonight. The SO was absolutely delighted, commenting on the decor, the other diners (the place is quite popular and was packed, since it's Friday), the lovely service, the high quality of the food, etc., etc. He ate like a horse, which pleased me no end, as his appetite has been quite depressed while he was sick. He also insisted on drinking water out of my cup with my straw (which is always so much more desirable than using his spill-proof cup and straw) which meant I had to hold the glass tumbler under his nose for about twenty minutes straight, but it was a small price to pay.

After dinner, the Husband drove us over to Borders to pick up a copy of the DVD entitled "Elmo's Potty Time" (guess why) and to run up and down the stairs (and ride the elevator) a few (dozen) times. Bookstore time in our family generally means that H gets to chase the SO around, while I get a few minutes to myself to browse. I always spend a little time looking at the new beading and knitting periodicals, and tonight I pulled out what I thought was a new copy of Beadwork from a back shelf to discover that I was holding BEADS2008 in my hot little hands. I think a heavenly choir might have burst into song behind me and my mailman definitely let out a huge sigh of relief. Yes, while I have been impatiently been waiting for my advance copy, the local Borders had already received a shipment of the magazine. Later, when I checked out, the cashier paused and said, "Um, are you aware that you're buying two copies of the same magazine?" Shhhhh!!!

Thus, having fed, entertained and exercised his family, H. cheerfully brought us home for the night. He's a nice guy, no?

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll just be sitting here, crooning in an undignified manner over the magazine. (Hopefully, one of these days I will be able to take a more mature, dignified and, shall we say, professional attitude to publication, but since it's only my second time in print, I hope all of you will cut me some slack.)

ps. If anyone has any advice to offer about the whole potty time issue, I'm all ears.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how fond I am of Sarah Moran's work. I ordered these from her catalog a while ago. They are part of her new BLING! series, which are lampworked beads that have been coldworked. When Sarah coldworks her beads, she kicks them up another notch, so to speak. Strategically taking off some layers gives them more depth, more sparkle - all of that good stuff. If you look carefully at the barrel bead in the photo, you can see that it has actually been faceted. Anyway, I love these beads. I actually intended to show you a necklace I designed with them, but I sent the photo off to a magazine the other day and the editor has already accepted it for publication (yay!). The project will be out in November - more news on this closer to the publication date. I will say that the barrel bead reminded me of a classic Chinese lantern, and I designed the necklace around that.

Sorry for my absence yesterday. My fever spiked suddenly and wouldn't come back down - I tried a couple different analgesics and they just made no difference to my temperature, achiness, etc. whatsoever. I ended up slinking off to bed as soon as the Husband got back from work yesterday and could take care of the Short One. (My fever finally broke early this morning, and I'm feeling much better.) The SO is back to his active, cheerful self, although he's still congested. We love going to our local children's museum, but it's been pretty consistent that after each visit, he comes down with a bad cold. I know it's better for him to be exposed to these germs now and build up a resistance as quickly as possible, but it still makes me feel as if I'm not doing something right.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The advance copies of BEADS2008 are now available apparently. I haven't received mine yet (it's all I can do not to jump on the mailman when he arrives, these days), but a friend received hers yesterday, and I found a pic of the cover on the Interweave Press website. BEADS2008 is an annual magazine put together by the folks at Beadwork magazine, highlighting new beads and jewelry components for the year. I have three types of beads in the magazine - the koi (both single and double), a fortune cookie and a skull. My friend kindly put me out of my misery and told me (and you can baaaarely see them in the tiny photo above in the bottom left hand side) that both of my koi pendants made the cover of the magazine. The fortune cookie also made it, apparently, but even when I squint, I can't make it out from the photograph. Needless to say, I'm quite thrilled and even the Husband is impressed by this (okay, okay, there are a hundred beads on the cover, but still!). Anyway, it hits the stands on April 22nd, so please do look out for it at the end of the month!

Shameless self-promotion aside, noses are still quite drippy and hacking coughs are in the air chez nous. H, who is still healthy, is becoming increasingly paranoid and has been trying to ward the germs off with the evil eye. We'll see if that succeeds. He has a better record than I do with managing to avoid catching the Short One's colds, but even he has succumbed from time to time. The SO, for his part, has reached that uncomfortable stage of his cold where he is definitely getting better, but the congestion in his nose is becoming increasingly irritating. This has manifested in periodic (say, every five minutes) squawking on his part and, if I fail to produce a tissue immediately, a dive for whatever part of my body is closest to wipe his nose against (knee, arm, shoulder, ear - this last was particularly unsettling). Still, I find this preferable to the alternative - when I'm not close enough, he resorts to using the furniture, windows, floor, etc. (I feel very sorry for him, but it does get a little hard to clean up after him after a while.) At this point, leaving a tissue box within his reach simply results in an empty box and a glorious flurry of tissue all over the room (sometimes I think there are marked similarities between toddlers and puppies - what is this obsession with tissue and toilet paper rolls?) I am hoping he will show marked improvement from tomorrow, although experience suggests we may have another 2-3 days to go...

I should probably try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, so I'll close now. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Accident

Let me be up front and say that I am pretty disorganized about my beading. I have two big plastic organizer drawers (from the Container Store - one of my favorite places to shop!) filled with beads and findings and then I have one big plastic shoebox filled with recent acquisitions and project bags. The mess in this area has been growing, as I get more and more backlogged on what I want to do, bead-wise. I was rummaging around in this box over the weekend, trying to find one of my projects to start up again, when I happened to look down at the table. By pure serendipity, I had placed a bag of pale coral roses on top of a strand of turquoise. Although I often mix turquoise and coral together when I design, I usually use the deeper red apple coral color and not the lighter salmon colored ones. I was completely surprised - I love the way these look together. (So, I tucked a rose in with the strand and added yet another unfinished project to my pile. Sigh.) I suppose it makes sense that when one buys, one ends up creating opportunities for complementary combinations completely unconsciously. I'm just always so pleased when something like this happens. Incidentally, the turquoise in this photo is Sleeping Beauty turquoise (ie, from the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Arizona), and the color of the stone is completely natural. Sleeping Beauty turquoise is known for being a beautiful robin's egg blue color, similar to what I think of as Persian turquoise - the clean turquoise that is so prized (and expensive) and is cut so that the beads contain no matrix (the darker lines you usually find in turquoise) at all.

I love turquoise. I spent part of my childhood in Oklahoma and have a tiny collection of fine Navajo and Zuni jewelry (of course, with this jewelry, it is usually the quality of the silver-stamping that sets is apart, but I have collected pieces where the artist has set fine turquoise in the jewelry as well). Most of the turquoise you see (or at least that I've seen) in the bead shows today come from China, much of it has been stabilized (the beads in the photo are stabilized), and some of it has been reconstituted and/or dyed. But I must admit, I have a real fondness for turquoise that comes from the Southwestern United States, such as Bisbee turquoise and Sleeping Beauty turquoise. They are usually more expensive than the Chinese turquoise, but I particularly like the color of Sleeping Beauty.

On other fronts, the tax returns are in!! Woo-hoo!! Hope your taxes are done, too. Less happily, the Short One is still quite sick with his head cold (really, one of the worst ones he's had), and I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a runny nose myself, so it looks as if we'll be lounging around being sickies together today. Ah, well, there are worse things than eating oranges and watching Sesame Street.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Let it...Snow?!?

We actually have snow predicted here for this weekend. That's right, snow. S.N.O.W. This just seems like bad management on someone's part. I mean, I ask you.(!?!) (On the other hand, it does give me a chance to show off this otherwise unseasonable necklace, so it can't be all bad, I suppose.)

The Short One has come down with a bad head cold and is currently sleeping uneasily with a slight fever (despite the children's Tylenol). I have a feeling we'll be headed to the pediatrician's office in the not-so-distant future. Meanwhile, I spent the evening whooping it up down in the basement with a bucket of bleach solution, now that our plumbing issues are, at least theoretically, resolved. Add in a celebratory load of laundry followed by time for going over our tax returns, that are finally finished, and - well. Clearly, life does not get any more exciting.

We have a thrilling agenda this weekend of standing in the line at the Post Office with all the rest of the taxpayers and going grocery shopping. If I'm lucky, I may actually get in some beading time. While I know it would be hard to top our plans, I hope you have a great weekend, too!

(I apologize for the shorter-than-usual-post, but my eyes are starting to cross and I'm currently propping my eyelids open with toothpicks, so I should probably go to bed. I'd mutter something about "quality over quantity" but I think I'd just be asking for it.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More "Jade"

Here's the other piece that I purchased that comes from the jade market in Hong Kong. This is an actual bead, with a hole drilled through it. Nice, don't you think? It's strange - apart from the one silk kimono I own, I don't really go in for ethnic clothing, but I love carved stone beads with an Asian flavor. I can't really explain why.

I can't believe it's almost the 15th. Is everyone finished with their taxes? Due to one document we need that is perpetually late, we always end up having to run things down to the wire (I'm sure our accountant loves that - I sent him an email last night at midnight, and he responded immediately. Clearly he doesn't expect to get much sleep the week before the filing deadline). I'll be happy when we can finally put 2007 behind us.

The Short One and I spent another fun-filled day with our plumber. He's been visiting so much lately that the SO greets him like an old buddy now (the SO tends to be quite suspicious of interlopers in his domain and is more likely to hide behind my knees at the sudden appearance of the mailman, etc). This time, the problem appears to have been heavy grease build-up in the waste line leading from our kitchen sink that resulted in a clog in the sewer line. He kept asking me if I was dumping stuff down the sink that I shouldn't be. It's hard not to have a guilty conscience when fixed with the ol' hairy eyeball by an expert, but ever since we managed to break the first disposal we installed in the house, I probably toss half of the stuff that we really should be dumping in the disposal into the garbage instead. The stench during the cleanup was truly incredible (I can only wonder what the SO made of the smell and banging and sawing noises) and the only thing preventing me from dumping a bleach solution all over the basement floor right now is the fact that he also poured new concrete over part of the floor and apparently it needs to sit undisturbed overnight. Yeeeech.

Now that you know far, far more than you ever wanted to about our house (and our plumbing), I'll toddle off to bed. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dragons of the East

Since my mind is still on dragons, I thought I'd show you this pendant from my stash tonight. I purchased it from a woman who had recently been to the jade market in Hong Kong. I am always interested in acquiring new carved stone pendants, and I thought this particular design of a dragon biting its own tail was very attractive. Unfortunately, the piece is about the size of a small coaster, so it's a little big to be used to hang around the neck. I don't know - maybe I'll make a breastplate or something with it one of these days.

The last time I visited Hong Kong, it was still a British colony. I remember quite distinctly visiting both the famed bird market (which I believe has closed down since then?) and the jade market, and eating shumai dumplings to the point that I really couldn't face Chinese food at all for some time after that trip. Back then, in the mid-90s, I was not making any jewelry, not even simple stringing projects, so all I took away from the jade market were a few cheap-o trinkets. It makes me gnash my teeth every time I think about it. What a wasted opportunity! What was I thinking? I've been dying to visit the jade market or the large bead market in Seoul, Korea. However, the thought of being on a plane with the Short One for 16 hours usually makes me come to my senses. One of these days, we will visit Korea to introduce the SO to his extended family, and I will be going with a very large shopping list.

Anyway, the jade market is a huge, huge multi-dealer market selling everything from true, fine jade (or at least this is what the dealers represented - I was not educated enough about jade to be able to tell by looking at the pieces) to less expensive trinkets made from jade-colored (eg, serpentine) stone. The lady I purchased this from couldn't identify the stone from which this dragon was carved. It is a very pale green color, so I am wondering if it's a type of serpentine, but this is just a guess on my part. Certainly, for the price she must have paid for it, it can't be jadeite or nephrite. So, until I figure out what I can do with it, jewelry-wise, I have a nice, little doodad to provide a little dragon-inspiration.

Meanwhile, we had heavy rains yesterday and the, ugh, sewer is backing up again through the basement drain. Our neighbor is having problems, too, so we are starting to wonder if this is more of a city problem. Our nice plumber, with whom I have lately been spending more time with than the Husband, will be arriving at the crack of dawn tomorrow to try and figure out what happened. Again. Sigh.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Flower Pot

Maria Grimes' Designers' Challenge has ended, so I can now disclose that I made this necklace from the packet of beads she gave me, plus a few that I added from my own stash. Alas, I did not win the challenge - to see the lovely bracelet that did win, please go here - but I was very excited to have the opportunity to participate. I hardly ever win random drawings, and I believe there were over a hundred people who asked to participate in this twelve person challenge.

Anyway, the great challenge packet that Maria put together gave me the inspiration to come up with a new, original design that I otherwise would never have made, which I feel really quite happy about. The design came about from five bugle beads that Maria included in her packet. I rarely use bugle beads myself, and I was sitting around wondering what to do with them (I didn't want to just stick them in a tassle, which was the initial easy option I considered). I decided that they looked like flower stems and, when I strung them on a headpin with the ceramic flowers that Maria made and small pressed glass flower beads that she included in the packet, I liked the way they looked. I had to figure out how to display them and decided that a nice PMC vase would do the trick. Well, originally, I wanted to make a vase, but as you can see, I ended up with more of a flower pot. The night I was working on the piece, the Short One had trouble sleeping, and I ended up having to go with something a little simpler than an ornate vase. However, flower pots are nice, too, right?

I had five bugle beads but only four ceramic flowers, so I made a fifth flower from PMC, as well. (It is tucked into the back of the focal, so you may not see it very well from the photo, but it is there). In order to prevent the piece from flipping over, I decided to weight the vase with a heavy beaded tassel (so, in the end, I still did make a tassel, but it was more for functional reasons than anything else). I have to say, it works quite well, and the focal sits very nicely when worn. (Of course, I can't wear it at all, personally, because the SO is too, too interested in the piece, but I have snuck it on after he's in bed a couple times, and it really does hang well.) Maria included rose quartz chips (which as you can guess, I loved, given how much I use rose quartz these days) and small dark seed beads, that I used to round out the rest of the necklace (I added more rose quartz from my stash and some violet seed beads to lighten up the ones that Maria provided.) Finally, I placed a smaller tassel at the back of the necklace to act as a counterweight to the heavy focal and front tassel.

I had a great deal of fun making this piece, and I really want to say thank you so much to Maria for holding this challenge!!

Thanks for stopping by - see you tomorrow!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dragons to the Right of Me, Dragons to the Left of Me

Here's a little accent bead I made to go along with the dragon eye pendant. I wanted to suggest a Japanese obi, so I cut the sheet to a point and wrapped it. I like the effect, although the irregular shape means that the end points of the bead are also irregular. Next time I may wrap the shape around a regular tube-shaped base bead. I must say that this is one of the satisfying things about making one's own beads. I felt I was missing a component in the necklace I've been stringing, and it wasn't all that difficult to make something to fill that gap. No more hunting around through innumerable catalogs and bead stores to try to find just the right component. (Spending time in bead stores is, of course, a terribly debilitating activity and something I avoid at all costs. Yeah, right.)

I actually finished the necklace last night, but I've decided to enter it in yet another contest, so I'm afraid I won't have a photo to show you for another month or so. After I fill out the paperwork for this, though, it's finally back to business as usual. Thanks again for sticking with me during this period. I have a backlog of spring projects that I'm finally hoping to take out and start working on - maybe I'll even get one or two done before the end of summer!!

Springtime is finally arriving around here - it's been in the mid-50s and sunny for the past several days (I realize this may not seem like spring weather to some of you, but, hey, we take what we can get around here). The Short One and I have managed to spend time at the local playground, and I'm reminded again how much easier life is with a young child when you can play outside for extended periods of time. The SO is getting so active these days that I'm expecting it's going to be quite a fun summer for us. In the meantime, the Husband has been rummaging through seed catalogs and muttering to himself about parsnips and cauliflower, so I expect that we'll be doing some planting soon. Thus, we all prepare for the arrival of spring in our own way.

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

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Creature of Habit

I am definitely a creature of habit. If I find a dish that I like at a restaurant, I will order it every single time we eat at that particular restaurant. I hang my robe on the right-hand hook in the closet and never on the left one. I almost always sit in the same chair at the dining room table to eat.

I'm this way about my use of metal clay, too. I spent the evening working on one of my dragon necklaces (I've had two versions sketched out for months and am only now getting around to finishing them). Metal clay is manufactured and sold by two different companies - Mitsubishi Materials Corporation makes PMC and Art Clay World (through, I believe, Aida Chemical Industries Co., Ltd.) makes Art Clay Silver. I usually use PMC rather than Art Clay Silver. There's no real rationale behind this - it's simply that I started out with PMC and liked it and never felt the need to try Art Clay. I've actually had a packet of Art Clay sitting at the bottom of my tool box for about 10 months, unopened, that I bought at the Art Clay booth at Bead & Button last year. (Embarrassingly, I kept referring to their product as PMC. Even more embarrassing, I learned later that the extremely nice and helpful lady (remember I had only been working with metal clay for about a month back then) who assisted me and who was very tolerant about my gaffe was none other than Jackie Truty - president and owner of Art Clay World USA. I will have to go and offer my abject apologies this year... Anyway, where was I?)

I decided to be bold this evening and actually opened the Art Clay packet. To my surprise, it really does handle differently than PMC. I use low-fire PMC (PMC3), and I bought the equivalent in Art Clay (Art Clay 650). I found that the fresh Art Clay is much firmer right out of the packet than PMC, which I like. It also drys out much, much faster (for the uninitiated - metal clay is notorious for drying out very quickly), which I don't like. I'll be interested to see whether the shrinkage rates are the same for the two types of clay.

On other fronts, I've had another piece accepted for publication. This was an interesting case for me, as the piece in question had been rejected a couple times before I managed to get it placed. I think this raises an important point about publication in beading and jewelry magazines generally. Although there are numerous magazines available for purchase these days, each one has it's own focus and interests. Sometimes when I've had a piece rejected (which happens a lot - I know I focus on the positive and only tend to mention my success stories, but I've had a lot of rejections as well), I worry that it's no good and think about dropping it. However, it's virtually impossible to second-guess an editor's preferences, and I'm learning that's it's better not to try. Anyway, this one will be published in the summer. I will let you know further details as they become available.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. See you on Monday!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Button Love

Yep, it's - another button!!! (I told you I was getting interested in buttons lately.) I basically turned my Geek Love pendant into a button here. Also, you'll note that it's framed by the end caps I made a couple weeks ago. I'm really liking these end caps. I can see doing a lot more with these and leather and/or silk cord in the future. Maybe I'll even finally get out that kumihimo braiding disk I bought five bead shows back and try to figure out how to use it...

Recently, Cyndi Lavin asked me to agree to be profiled on her Jewelry and Beading blog. As you can imagine, I was pretty flattered. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in jewelry-making but has not yet visited Jewelry and Beading to do so. It is a really well-written, informative blog. Cyndi covers everything from book and tool reviews to artist and vendor profiles to tutorials on jewelry-making techniques. I came to her site initially from a friend who alerted me to a call for entries for a metal clay book last year (in which, if all goes well, I should have two pieces published later this year) - Cyndi also publishes the call for entries for various publications and contests as they arise during the year. Anyway, it's a great blog and a great all-around resource. And I'm not just saying that because my Artist Profile appears as today's post, either.

The plumber is coming back for one last day of supplemental work on our pipes, and I need to get a few things done to prepare for our yet-again-waterless state tomorrow, so I'll close here. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Maria Grimes' Designers Challenge

You may recall from last month that I was selected (by random drawing) to participate in a design challenge that lampwork artist Maria Grimes held this past month. Here's a photo of the bead mix that each participant was given. Under the rules of the challenge, participants were to use all of the beads in the mix, although they could add anything else they liked to their works of art (not necessarily jewelry). I ended up having a great deal of fun with this challenge and have to thank Maria for holding it. The contest portion of the challenge has opened (judging is by the designers themselves), so I can't disclose which piece is mine until next week. (Somehow, I suspect y'all will be able to figure out which one it is, though.) In the meantime, if you are interested in seeing the results of the challenge and the interesting, broad range of responses (designers created a lot of non-jewelry items, which I always like), please go here.

Last night I decided I had done as much as a I could with my contest pieces and started the submission process (which consists of an on-line form for this particular contest). Not having tried this before, I wasn't sure what to expect and ended up writing descriptions, techniques, measurements, etc., etc. on-line as I processed the form. I finished everything, which took over an hour, and pressed the "continue" button and, instead of continuing, the whole form re-set. Apparently, I took so long writing the answers to the questions in the application that my connection timed-out. I could have cried - I lost the entire application. By this point, it was 1am. I ended up taking the precaution of typing everything in a Microsoft Word document and then started over, but, oy, what a pain in the neck. I didn't finish until after 2am. The finalists will be announced at the end of the month. I really doubt I will make the cut with any of my pieces, though. One thing I learned in this whole process is that the gap between what I envision in my head and what I'm actually able to make with my hands is still pretty large. Sigh. Anyway, once the finalists are announced, regardless of what happens, I'll show you what I've been tearing my hair over.

Meanwhile, we're all enjoying being able to use water in the house again! The washing machine is currently running - oh, what a joyful noise. There's only one laundromat even reasonably close to our house, and it charges $4.00 for the use of one medium-sized, front-loading washer. The Short One loved putting all of those quarters in the machine for each load, but, me, I thought it was a little pricey.

Have a great day. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Here's another button today - this time, it's a double koi. I'm hoping to use this for a knit kimono-style cardigan. I have some beautiful pale pink yarn that I think will go very well. Getting the weight right for the button is a bit tricky, though. The bigger and heavier the button, the more likely it will simply pull the knitted fabric down in unattractive ways. I'm hoping this will work, but, given how little I've been knitting recently, I may not have a finished garment to show off/wear until the winter...

I love kimono-cut garments. I have a tendency to emphasize comfort over style with my clothes and often end up wearing sack-like garments (according to my mother), but the kimono has the double advantage of being a nice, loose cut but stylish at the same time. The lack of shaping in the sleeves means that they are completely mindless to knit, as well, which is the only knitting I seem to be capable of, these days.

Praise be, our stinky sewer issues appear to be over, thanks to our hardworking plumber. The family celebrated wildly by immediately running the dishwasher (woohoo!) and then taking nice, relaxing baths (let's just say that the sewer wasn't the only thing stinky in the house by today). The Short One demanded "more boats, more boats!" and had a grand time playing with them in the all-too-short (to his mind at least) allotted time for his bath. Tomorrow, the extended celebration will continue as we gather around the washing machine and ooh and aah as it goes through its spin cycle (we've been using the laundromat, lest you think we've completely forsaken modern civilization these past days). You never appreciate the mod cons more than after a few days without them, I think.

May your own drains remain unclogged and swiftly flowing. Talk to you tomorrow!