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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broken Rhythm

My day job has just changed my game plan!  By day, I design and make costumes for competitive ballroom dancers.  At night, I usually bead.  Last weekend, I attended a local dance event, "Minnesota Madness," and so many people stopped by my vendor booth to request new projects that I could not keep track of them all in my head. My new life will be "all dancewear, all the time" until January 9th, the day after the next local ballroom competition.

I am NOT COMPLAINING.  My day job is a good one.  I've had my own business since 1987, and it's been wonderful.  I work out of a really beautiful studio in my home, and have been able to juggle being a mom, costume designer, and most recently, a beadweaver, with ease for the most part. 

Last year was not a good year for Made for Movement, (the dancewear business) with gross income down about 45% from the year before.  I figured it was the economy, but this year, for some unknown reason, business has picked back up and I am well beyond my 2009 and 2008 sales thus far.

Thankfully, as you can see, there is jewelry, and "beading of a sort" involved in the dancewear, although most of it is done with glue instead of thread and wire.

And some of my gowns really are beaded, like this one with the fringed gauntlet and the beaded tassles on the skirt.

With all the new projects on the schedule, I am officially swamped.  I rarely enter my studio in the evening, but here I am tonight, cleaning up after a 4:30 fitting and preparing for tomorrow.

I have gotten myself into a really nice rhythm of blogging nearly weekly, and I think there will now be a syncopation in that rhythm for a while.  I'll miss it, and I'll miss beading.  But one must "make hay while the sun shines" and my dancewear sun is blazing.  I hope you, faithful readers, will keep me in mind, and look for a return in 2011. 

In the mean time I'll be at the design desk, the cutting table, and the sewing machine.  And the next time I load up my gowns in January, to attend the Snow Ball,  I'll know I'm coming home afterward to my blog and my beading.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deck the Halls

Image from
 "Deck the Halls" is the current working title for my November Etsy Beadweavers Challenge piece.  I got to select the theme, as reward for winning the Bollywood challenge in September, and I chose "Holiday Treasure."  The idea is to choose a November or December holiday, and create a beadweaving to be worn for, or used at, the event.  I celebrate the Winter Solstice, (along with Christmas and Hanukkah) and see it as the genesis of most other December holiday traditions.  The use of holly, and other evergreen plants, as indoor decoration at the time of long, dark, and cold winters has been symbolic of the eventual return of warmth and the growing season.  Holly has the added mythic benefits of providing protection from evil spirits with its spiky leaves and serving as safe resting places for friendly forest fairies.

So... I intend to "deck the NECK" with boughs of holly.

I have been working on holly leaves and berry clusters and a pretty pleased with my results thus far.

I have begun stems as well, to assemble my leaves and berries on, and think there will also be a bow, to tie the cluster together and form a focal point, but it's all still a bit fuzzy in my head at this point.  I am really having a great time with it though.  Are you making a holiday piece?  Tell me about it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tila Beads

I took a class on Sunday, a rare event for me, being as paraniod as I am about copyright infringement.  Usually, I avoid classes, (along with more than cursory glances at beading magazines) because it means having a door opened that I feel I dare not ever walk through for fear of being accused of "STEALING!!!"   Sigh.  But this class was designed by someone who teaches people how to teach classes, and whose work as a teacher I deeply admire, Diane Fitzgerald.  And it seems to me that she is always presenting technique, as well as a design, which to my way of thinking is what a beading class should be: beautifully presented technique, with a possible take-home outcome, for those who do not design for themselves.

In this case, when I looked at the class material, the techniques were square stitch and herringbone.  WOO HOO!  I have never done square stitch and only rarely used herringbone.  Something about the texture of the herringbone stitch seems rough to me, and although I sometimes think, "hmmm... herringbone is probably the right solution to this problem," I only rarely move past the sample stage with it. But maybe Diane would offer a new perspective or improve my technique with the stitch sufficiently to make it more usable for me.  Plus, Diane's class focused on a new bead from Miyuki, the two-holed Tila.  I signed up, thrilled at the idea of an introduction to a new bead, having a new stitch to play with, and a new piece of jewelry to wear by the end of the day.  I so rarely make things just for me, it seemed almost decadent!

When class began, Diane demonstrated square stitch and showed us a lovely collection of possible Tila bead projects and a good selection of Tila beads to choose from.  I loved a necklace project, made in the square stitch.  It required increasing and decreasing, so I set out first to make a sample doing that in a regular way, to confirm that it would not overwhelm me.  I realized after several increases and decreases (which I creatively improvised) that I was not really understanding the stitch, and at about the same time, Diane suggested we should perhaps all begin with a simple bracelet or straight sample.  Yes, mam! 

I started on a bracelet, and the comprehension of the stitch fell neatly into my mind and hands.  Because I tend to keep my head down and bead, rather than chatting, and because I have the smallest wrist I have ever measured in my lifetime of measurement-taking as a dressmaker, I finished a bracelet. The Tila beads are BIG, compared to my usual 11's and 15's so the speed of visible progress is a really fun change.  Diane had a selection of clasps from Claspgarten, a German company, and sold me a magically perfect slide clasp for my bracelet.

Later in the day, we worked with herringbone stitch and combined other beads with the Tilas.  I have not yet finished my herringbone project.  I am working on another piece that has been taking my full limited-beading-time-per-day at the moment, but I am feeling a little pull toward finishing the herringbone necklace today...  so we'll see what happens when I pick up my needle tonight.

In the mean time, Diane, thank you for a lovely and fruitful day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time to VOTE!

Well, Ok, elections are just around the corner, but I am talking about the Etsy Beadweavers October Challenge, "Autumn Falling of Leaves,"  another huge turnout for our team.  Please check out all the entries, and vote for your favorite by the 15th, when the poll closes.  You can see each piece up close and personal by using the links below the mosaic.
My own entry is #12, inspired by my neighbor's beautiful maple tree:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Organic Drusy Trinket

I picked up a few small, vibrantly coated quartz drusy cabochons at the Gem and Lapidary Workers Show a couple weekends ago.  Between humming "Deck the Halls" while I work on my solstice piece, and a frantic fall for my day job, Made for Movement, I played with one of them for a couple evenings evening last week.  Finally tonight, I got it listed in my etsy shop.
 I am apparently a sucker for metallic irridescence, since all the necessary beads for the piece were already in my stash. It's not an exactly calibrated shape, so I worked organically with the bezel, shaping it without precise geometric symmetry. A simple trinket, but sparkly and fun!