Monday, August 22, 2016

Finishing the Things I have Begun - Featuring Cherry Creek Jasper!

August has been a joy so far!  My new bead storage system has allowed me to find what I am looking for quickly and finish projects I have started over the last year.

A Brassy Blast

First, I finished a piece I began last Winter.  I have named it " A Brassy Blast of Autumn."  In February it was more about being colder than a witches... well, you get the idea.  When I put this together initially, it felt too crowded; desperately in need of breathing room. But now at the end of summer, surrounded by bounty and lush abundance, it seems fine as it is. Maybe even perfect. Someone suggested it looked like nuts and seeds, and I love that. Time sometimes heals my aversion to my work.  :)

I culled these cabochons from a big group of Cherry Creek Jasper, pulling just the golden green ones.



I thought it was done, but the tips of the three primary cabochons seemed blunt to me... so...



I contemplated a more substantial component as the drop.  But as soon as I laid it out, it looked like a little pursed-lipped, pouty face with a long beaky nose and slanty eyes.  Can you see that???  ACK! It is so easy to do that by mistake with symmetry.
So, you can guess what I did with that little component?


Earrings!

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle...

And then there was this other half finished piece... a spiral chenille rope and some cabochons.  I wanted to imply an animal, and had two pieces of stone that looked like a hoof print. But then I found this yummy marsala Cherry Creek Jasper teardrop and rounds, from Rainbow Artifinds, a lapidary couple in St. Paul, whose work I really love.  All kitties really have four toes, and a more oval central paw pad, but these had enough suggestive tiger-ish illusion when put together, to allow me to create "Jungle Boogie."


I like how the broken edge around the bezel kinda blends with the broken edge of the Chenille.

When I started this necklace, I was thinking specifically of a piece of fabric I have. I love animal prints, and will maybe make something for myself with it.  So I tried to think clean, simple, and bold, because the print is very busy!  The piece will need to be displayed on a plain (looks great on black!) ground, so the fabric could be a jacket, or skirt maybe.  Otherwise, the camo will eat the necklace!

  
Someone on Facebook suggested a jacket and LBD, and that sounds pretty good to me! But who knows when that might be.  It's funny, although I still have my Etsy shop, it almost never occurs to me to sell my work these days.  Maybe it should.  

I had fun with these claw/talon beads.  I am not sure of the official name, but I am quite sure they are Czech.  I give everything I make a "test wear day", and I put this on this morning, and when I looked in the mirror, I thought "claws out!" Brings up all the cat fight stuff floating about in my head.  If there were a buyer for this, who would that be?  Makes me smile thinking about it!




I could not resist the claw at the end of the extender chain! 

So, to list, or not to list.  I have some other beady work to list in a week or so, pertinent to another project. I'll contemplate between now and then, I guess.  

In the mean time, it feels good to be both organized and caught up.  Now there is only one thing to work on at my beading bench, but it's a long-term project, and it might wait a little while.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Bead Storage!

I am very excited about this!  I have been thinking about exactly what I want my bead storage to look like for months, and in baby steps, I have ended up with something I just love.

My criteria were many and varied.  First, I am a person who likes to have things out and accessible, rather than tucked away behind doors and drawers, so I wanted my beads visible.  They used to be in glass jars on my work space, but they were beginning to take over.


Secondly, I wanted all of the beads of a color and finish to be together, no matter size 15, 11, 8, 6, or packaging, so I decided that trays that held tubes, boxes and bags would be perfect. I did not want to do any repackaging or labeling.  I decided that my trays would need to be neutral in color, since the color and finish of the beads is to me the most important consideration in making choices.  I considered black velvet trays, gray cafeteria trays, and silver bakery pans.  I kinda wanted these trays to be pretty!

My third consideration was cost.  I did not want to spend hundreds of dollars.  I stumbled across these plastic trays at the Dollar Tree store and fell in love at first sight!  They are the perfect size for long tubes of beads, they have little handles that feel good in my hands, they are totally color neutral, and they even cast pretty shadows on my counter!  Best of all, $1 each, and compared to everything else I considered, BY FAR the best bargain.  And bonus, I can see the color range from the end of the tray!


 AND, these worked great for different sizes and kinds of containers, so no need to repackage and label!  I found them here at Dollar Tree.


Also, these trays are lightweight, but quite sturdy.  And let me tell you, beads are heavy things!  I can lift three trays at once with one hand.

I also can sort any way I like, and move things around without trouble.

But then there was the problem of how to store the trays.  I had then stacked in my beading space for a while, but with the trays 8 or 9 deep, it was hard to access the ones I wanted to pull out, plus I didn't like bending over to look for beads.  Bad light, bad back, bad knees, bad ankles, bad, bad, bad!


The Best Man Ever said he would make me cabinets to hold my trays, but I am not at an age where I want more furniture,  even super cool custom made stuff with tray slots, plus they would need to be HEAVY duty to support all the weight of the beads.  So I kept looking and thinking.

And then LO!  Last week at my Hancock Fabrics, which is going out of business, (insert HUGE sad face here) I spotted these!!!

FELT RACKS!!!
They were selling all their beautiful fabric racks, and everything else in the store and I thought... These!  I NEED THESE!!!  I dashed home, got a tray and it fit magnificently in the little slots.  So I held my breath and asked the price.  $5 each.  And they had two of them, which I bought on the spot.

Finally I have had a little time to move some things around and install the first rack.  I am planning to move some of my beading operation to my costume studio, and the racks fit perfectly on my counter, under my bookcases, so I took some time this afternoon and moved one of them in!


So, there you have it, my new bead storage.  This is ALL of my 15/0, 11/0. 8/0 and 6/0, and I have ANOTHER rack left to fill with cylinders, funky shapes, and Czech firepolish, but I may not get to them for a while.  

I have about 60 trays, and will buy maybe another 60, so a total of $120 on trays, plus $10 on racks.  

Feels great to have this sorted, and be really happy with my new bead storage!



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chihuly Garden and Glass

A day of inspiring imagery and fantastic depth and breadth in glass!
Starting point, the Glass Forest.  I thought it was much more like neon flamingoes in the dark.
I have gotten somewhat used to taking photos with my phone, because my otherwise practically perfect husband is annoyed by my DSLR camera. Apparently I squeal "OOOO, PRETTY!!"  and stop way too often when I have that tool in my hands. But I have never been quite as sad to be shooting with my phone as I was on the day we went to Chihuly Garden and Glass.  I could have stayed all day.
In the Northwest Room you can see the influence of Native Northwest art.
Motifs, shapes and textures from baskets, weaving, and vessels are obvious and elegant.
To quote from the little brochure you get when you pay your entry fee, " I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced."  I was, Mr. Chihuly, sir. You blew me away.  Between the beautiful glass, the spectacular lighting and presentations, the massive installations, and THE GARDEN, I was frequently in tears from the beauty and joy and inspiration I was feeling.

In the Sea Life Room the central installation was gasp-worthy, churning and frothing
in a sinuous mass of color, creatures and foam.
Crabs from the Sea Life Room
My iPhone shots do none of this justice, but I put them here because I want to try to remember 
what I saw and how I felt.

Sea Turtles.  I just love the pedestal.  "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea..."
And the composition of this!!!  I wish I had a 3D image for you.
Then there was the Persian Ceiling.  The lighting design in this gallery is spectacular throughout, but for me, glass is all about transparency and translucency and shimmer and color!  This was a beautiful way to see those things! There is an aquarium that you can walk through and beneath in Minneapolis. This had the feeling of that place.

Persian Ceiling, with breathtaking backlighting.
And combined with some masterful reflections, it was water and wind and nearly alive.

I can't begin to describe the Mille Fiori installation.  
There were grapes and eggplants and grass and vines and ferns and flowers.

End view of the huge Mille Fiori Installation
Maybe even a few snakes?  Eden?

My photos of the Ikebana and Float Boat installation are especially lame.  Sigh.
I could really have used the panorama feature on my camera for this.  :(
I missed the floats entirely.
The monochrome chandeliers were almost relaxing. There is so much
energy in this huge body of work that it is a bit overstimulating!


And we had our picture taken.  

With The Best Man Ever and Most Excellent Son.  Do I look a bit over the moon?
In the Macchia Forest below, Chihuly challenged himself to make use of every color of glass available.  Often a layer of white glass made the inside of the vessel 
delightfully and dramatically different from the outside.




And then we saw the Glasshouse, which celebrates the artist's love of the conservatory.

Conservatory inside.
Conservatory from the outside.
And finally the Garden!!! 

Of course there was the perfect environment for each piece of glass... or would that be goose?  Note the BLACK grass!
No words for this!  But all the flora is Seattle is much larger than that in Minnesota.
Fern forms.
SO...   I have taken nearly a year off from competition and larger work. I have played a little, but mostly I have spent a year teaching myself to illustrate and write tutorials.  It has been a huge learning experience.  The best thing I have gotten from this time spent is a new design tool.  I now have the ability to draw and adjust my design before I pick up a needle. 

I have been plotting a new, bigger piece in my mind, and seeing Chihuly Garden and Glass has pushed my thinking about it much further forward.  I have one final tutorial in editing stage, and will release it later this summer, but then, I am going to step back to M A K I N G, because I have this thing demanding to be made, and many beautiful new ideas and approaches in my heart to finger out. I am sad to have mostly ignored my blog this year.  Hopefully that will revert to past form a bit too.  

Should you ever find yourself in Seattle, navigate to the bottom of the Space Needle, and see this gallery.  It is a true work of art, and labor of love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

White Lilac Tutorial - Too Stubborn to Quit and Proud of the Results

OK, this one was a huge challenge!  I am very proud to announce a new tutorial in my Etsy shop.  I have been asked for instructions for making my Lilacs more often than anything else in my repertoire. So, in this, my year of learning to write and illustrate, I decided it was time.  Please help me welcome "White Lilac."


I have not made kits.  There are myriad possible colorways, and my Facebook research informed me that people would prefer to use their own beads and choose their own colors.  So the beads I used in making this model are given, along with brief advice about choosing your own colors and beads.

The tutorial is 48 pages, and includes 122 diagrams, (if you count each step I illustrated separately) and over 10,000 words.  It will take around 25 hours to make this necklace.

You will learn to make the individual flowers that combine to make the blossom.


You will learn to assemble them on a supply unique to this work, and available in my Etsy shop 
for $.50, with free shipping to almost anywhere in the world.  If your location is not listed, please convo me and I will do my best to accommodate you!


You will learn to make two sizes of three dimensional heart-shaped lilac leaves.


You will learn to make a supple, fringed Triangle Weave Yoke 
to support the lilac blossom and leaves.


And finally you will learn to make a floating connection between the blossom, leaves and yoke that  allows the finished work to fit any neck, and has the potential to be a choker or V necklace.
You can find the tutorial here, in my, Etsy shop, and I hope you will check it out.  For the first week of this listing, (through April 12th) I am offering a 20% discount on the tutorial, and everything in my shop as well.  Just use the coupon code WHITELILAC at checkout to get your discount.

This has been a tremendous learning experience for me, and the next time I approach a project this substantial, I will be armed with many new skills.  I have contemplated both starting over, and giving up many times.  But I believe the tutorial is descriptive and enabling, and that we must all move forward from where we are, rather than backing up endlessly.  

So I pass the baton (or maybe the branch?) to you.  I hope you will give it a try and let me know how it goes.  It is challenging, and labeled as an advanced project.  Like me, you may need to be too stubborn to quit.  I hope you'll be very proud of your own results!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Purple Painted Turtle - The Flurries Continue

Still thinking about that beaded bead, I wondered if the structure of it could be made into a domed covering for a cabochon.  Something that would mostly hide the cab, but just allow a hint to peek through.


I had some purple oval Lunasoft cabs in two sizes, and those seemed like just the right thing.  So I used purple beads.  Plus I have a new purple, gold, coppery, scribbly tunic, with some flashes of white.  I really like designing for clothing.  And this was supposed to be time to play without thinking too hard about perfecting my designs.  "Just do it" time.


I'll show you the bracelet first.  
The cabs covered in the structural dome reminded me of painted turtles, and this picture shows that the best.


 I am pleased with my rope.  :)

Earrings?  Well, I had the two little cabs left, and part of the Flurry plan was to leave no leftovers.


My two favorite takeaways from this exploration are the little fringe finials, which I would love to use again...


And the loop for the toggle, the shape of which I adore.  I will further explore this idea for sure.


I am pretty happy with the structure of the bracelet too.


But after all that, I felt really guilty that I had not made any of the little beaded beads.

So...    I used the free beaded bead pattern from Crystals and Ice to damp down the guilt. I tried to keep the work sketchy, like my tunic from Art of Cloth.


 It is a really cute little bead.  Here's the tunic of inspiration.


And the accessories.


I worked to finish supplies off, and this was all of the SuperDuos in this color I had.  (Which by the way looks awesome with the tunic, but not so much in my photos.) There were just the two leftover 8mm rounds of Crazy Lace Agate, and I am more likely to wear those than the beaded bead ones.  I forgot that stringing is its own special challenge.  Nice to be reminded.

What did I learn?  Well, when I am not trying to be really proud of the whole, it's easy to crank through a lot of beading.  And in the mix, are some bits I am pleased by, to futher explore.  But nothing that really sings.  Except maybe the one that is not done and needs lots of frogging and some serious design effort.  This is not what I want to do with my time generally, but it was an interesting experiment, with some mine-able results.