Thursday, November 3, 2016

IT's Nice in Nice

Yes corny I know.......we arrived in Nice France on Tuesday afternoon.  It was our job to stay up until early evening to try to minimize the effects of jet lag.  a quick shower and change of clothes and we set off to explore the city.

The weather has been an exceptional 70 degrees with gentle breezes.  We wandered through the interior streets looking to gain some euros from an ATM.  Eventually we came on a bank postale and acquired some cash with which we promptly bought our first french pastry.

While I'd love to bring you photos to go along with this blog at the moment I am technically challenged as to how to accomplish this.

So far we've had perfect weather, perfect food, great company and nice sight seeing.  We drove the coast to arrive for a visit in Cannes and a walk along the port there.

Today we'll drive to Monaco and board the Seabourn Sojourn for a 14 day Mediterranean cruise.  Hopefully there will be updates and photos!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

AND my Etsy shop is open!

Funny that all the years that Etsy has been around, I haven't been tempted.  The website was serving me well, and I was too busy to sit down and give it any attention, and then......

As we decide what our new life is going to look like I decided that the convenience of Etsy and the ability to maintain it myself would be a huge bonus.

It's not that I couldn't maintain the website, but over the years Mark took it over and it was convenient, until it wasn't.  Often I leave a show with 2 or 3 of a kit and I'd love to be able to offer them to you, but the overhead of putting it on the website and announcing it, for it to be sold out within hours, and then needing to update the website again, well, the onesie, twosies, languished.  This was too bad because there is some pretty things that I may or may not build again but that you may like.  There's also some new things, like the very pretty duomos bracelet in 7 different opal colors, and the sweet little hidden paradise vessel.

So things they are a changing here at MADDesigns.   You can find the Etsy store under MarciaDeCoster.  Since it's easy to update you will see more inventory AND as I move forward I will begin to offer some tutorials of projects that may interest you.

There's a silver version too, but I love the way these opal colors really show themselves off against the gold.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bohemian Collection

Earlier this year Sue Burleigh of SocialBeadia asked me if I'd be interested in traveling to Prague, Vienna and Budapest and teach some of the days during the trip.  I reviewed the itinerary and yes!  this sounded like a dream travel plan.

I wanted to do something special for the those going on the trip and something that would hold my interest and be a body of work which could grow.

Last year I had played with this concept of being able to magnet together bits of beadwork, and then time got the best of me and I didn't pursue it.

Beading through Bohemia (name of the trip) gave me the perfect opportunity to revisit this idea and work out the details.  It could as easily be called the Pacific Northwest Collection as the majority of it was beaded while traveling to Seattle in our airstream.

Since Cubic Right Angle Weave is an incredibly versatile stitch, and my little signature sprocket/finial/thingy ma jig, was already designed, I decided to work out the best way to encase a magnet into the thingy ma jig and attach to the components.

Then because cubic raw can get quite structural looking and I wanted it to be Bohemian in flavor I added the whimsical romantica component, some crystals (of course) and some floral accents.

I also had the idea for each of the components, or most anyways to be reversible, doing double duty especially in color.

Since the body of work was destined to grow and I wanted to be able to wear the pieces inter-changeably I stayed within a fairly narrow color family.

I have a sketchbook full of ideas, and I've been busy beading up the different elements.  

Here you see two lengths of diamond shapes serving as a necklace.  There is an X connector so that two different dangly bits can be added.  On the left there is a double diamond connector/pendant and a teardrop fancy stone.  On the right there is an ellipse/romantica connector and a long ellipse with romantica dangle pendant.  So in total seven different pieces, all of which reverse and can do double duty in other combinations.

This center focal is a bezeled large fancy stone with a double connector to hook into the necklace and a single connector from which to extend a pendant.  In this case I've added a diamond connector and a shield pendant. Since all connectors have south magnets and all pendants have north magnets, I could just as easily add the teardrop pendant or the ellipse pendant from above.  Here the diamond connector is a little shadow box with a czech flower peeking out, and the other side is a romantica medallion.

Here I've beaded up a simple prismatic right angle weave rope and added the y connector with the double diamond, the same diamond connector as above but on the romantica medallion side, the ellipse connector and ended with the shield pendant.

Taking out the diamond connectors and shield I left the ellipse connector and added the fancy stone teardrop.

At last count I have about 7 connectors, 2 necklaces and 6 pendants.  I have not attempted to count the combinations I can create with these 16 pieces, but it's a lot!  I don't see myself stopping soon.  The beauty of this approach is that once you've established a couple of necklaces and a good number of connectors, then an afternoon of beading a pendant creates an entirely new piece.

Yesterdays reversible button pendant with a romantica medallion is my new favorite.  As I add to the collections I'll be sharing photos.  For now the work will remain exclusive for next May's Beading through Bohemia trip.  The trip is currently full but if you're interested in future trips you can find Socialbeadia here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Design Success

It's easy, really easy for me to get a bit discouraged about design productivity.  Now that I am booking less engagements there are fewer deadlines to drive the need for a design.  I thought this could be a detriment.  If I didn't have to design, would I?

It turns out as I count up this years designs, the lack of pressure was really good for my design successes.  Each of the projects developed on their own time and in time or actually ahead of schedule for their project debuts.

Last year I designed Cryptex for this years Beading by the Bay, but it was this year I perfected it, beaded two additional color ways and wrote the instructions.  It's been a fun one to see beaded.

I'm showing you Cynthia Newcomer Daniel's version here because I love the changes she made to the strap and fringe as well as her layout showing the interior of the piece.

It turns out I was on a bit of a vessel kick, making this Hidden Paradise for this years Caribbean cruise with Heather Powers.  Lifting the top reveals a sweet little tropical house that Heather makes out of Polymer clay.

Here is Gifts from the Sea using new Swarovski iridescent pearls.  This one is for next years Coastal Maine Bead Retreat.  You can read about it's design process here.  I had an inspiration photo, but along the way it morphed.

This is Wind Beneath my Wings, named by my friend Beki Haley.  It came out of my need to do more hubble stitch.  Last year's Let's Hubble book by Melanie de Miguel introduced us to this very fluid and versatile stitch.  I used it in Cryptex as well and I know I'll continue to explore it.  This one is for this year's Fall Foliage retreat.  Rumor has it there are a couple of spaces still open.

Two different Waterfall earrings came out of my experiments with splitting a cube into two cubes, a handy trick for some design considerations.  I love the long chains that spill onto my shoulders but for those who don't, any number of bottom accents can be put into that little finial at the bottom of the teardrop.  Thank you Nancy Dale for giving me the name 'finial' for this little splayed out cube that I use so often.  It's a good way to refer to it.

The most recent design this year is called the Princess Anna Pendant.  This one I love because it can go from little girl princess to womanly elegant depending on your color choices.  This one is soft and elegant.  Again a finial appears, holding the crystal at the top of this piece.  It was also the first time I used spiky buttons, a new bead shape.  The newest in the collaboration between Sabine Lippert and All Beads CZ.

For some time I've wanted to go back to exploring my beginnings with Amulet purses.  My first ever was peyote stitch, and my second was a David Chatt piece on the cover of Nicolette Stessin's Beaded Amulet Purses.  That one was quite challenging and my first introduction to right angle weave.  This one was less challenging, but did incorporate my wrong angle weave method of adding an embellishment bead while weaving the raw fabric.   You can read that here or more here.

There's one more fully developed project still under wraps, so that's 7 this year (I didn't count Cryptex) and it's only June.  What's next?  I'll be working on a process class for the Beading through Bohemia trip next May.  I have a solid concept now of what I'll be exploring, always a good first step.  Let's just say the ideas for this series kept me up thinking about them most of last night.  I just pulled a huge number of seed beads and accent beads and I can't wait to get started!

Some might say this is not retired, but I have to say, cutting back to only 4 or so engagements per year has given me time to design.  I don't think I'll be giving up on beads anytime soon. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beading through Bohemia

I just wanted to do a quick update to tell you, Beading through Bohemia is a definite.  When a retreat or trip is planned there is always some risk that there won't be enough folks interested in joining your adventure.  Different factors as far as the timing, itinerary, and cost all come together to help people make a decision if this one's for them.

Well I'm happy to report enough folks have decided that Sue Burleigh's Beading through Bohemia in May meets their criteria for a trip, that we'll be going.  This doesn't mean you still can't go, there's room left for some beaders and some not beaders so if you're on the fence or if you're just reading this and think it might be a fit you find out more here or look at my previous blog post here.  On the May trip I will be the bead artist joining in and I'm busy preparing some bohemian themed beadwork for your pleasure.  I think this one is an excellent couple trip as there is plenty of free time for you to spend together and a three day river cruise which I've not done but I just have to imagine it would provide for a bit of romance!

A few photos from my previous trip to Prague.  I've not been to Vienna or Budapest so both of those sound truly exciting to me.

Angel sculpture in silhouette

Views from a boat ride we took while in Prague.

A taste of the fanciful architecture you'll see

There is also a second trip, same itinerary with Marjorie Garcia Barnes later in the summer if May doesn't work for you.  You can find out more about that one here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New tricks?

I bead with double fireline......and I wax and knot.  It's habit that has developed over many years and mostly serves me well.  I don't have to look for a certain color, the fireline recedes into the work, I get the tension I need without pulling too tightly which is hard on my hands.  I can manage double thread easily which you can read about here.  For the most part I'm happy with the results it gets me, but I decided I needed to be a bit more open minded.

So on a recent visit from Sabine Lippert I decided to give her way a go.  Single Sonoko thread.  It has more elasticity and so I can pull tight and get really good tension with  single thread.  Usually my tension is completely even and has enough fluidity in it.  I've got a rhythm that works.  With Sonoko thread I did a length of cubic raw that needed to bend around a fancy stone.  I pulled tighter in some places than others and got a 1/2 inch of unbendable craw in the middle of the piece!  For me, knowing I could achieve this tension with pulling tightly was a revelation as usually with single thread I cannot.

This bezel definitely benefits from single thread as the row of embellishment on it's surface was difficult.  My second one with the sonoko thread was easier.  Having said that, I immediately cut the thread with the 2mm crystal edge embellishment, so I switched back to fireline for that part.  I'm always a tad reluctant to suggest two different threads within a piece and especially to be specific about brand.  I must agree with Sabine however that my Sonoko thread experience has been superior to other nylon threads I've tried.

I'm beading a second wind beneath my wings and I've decided to continue my experimentation with the hubble band and craw bezel.  In both cases the Sonoko thread has served me well.  I can definitely see a different where I've pull too tight and am getting way more tension then I typically achieve even with doubled wax fireline.  

So as the saying goes, I guess you can teach old dogs or old bead artists new tricks!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Beading through Bohemia

As most of you may know, I love to travel....a lot.  I'm always up for a travel adventure and fortunately I am married to a man who feels the same way.  What I am doing less of is bead teaching travel as I wind down my 12 year career of full time bead teaching.   I've committed to far fewer engagements and Mark and I are planning more trips on our own, both with our airstream and to some international destinations.

However.....I really could not pass up the opportunity to be part of the amazing trip that Sue Burleigh of Socialbeadia has put together with Debra Curle of Triple M Tours.  The 15 day itinerary is a dream come true including 5 days in the city of Prague, 3 days in Vienna, a 3 day river cruise to Budapest and 4 days in Budapest.

If you are a Facebook kind of gal or guy you can find socialbeadia's page here.

I've been to and loved Prague but I've never been and have always wanted to visit Vienna and Budapest.  Throw in a river cruise, well it sounds like the perfect travel itinerary.

I love a number of things about the way this tour is organized.  First off the three beautiful cities, with a good amount of structured and free time to explore each of them.

Secondly the beading, while it will appeal to the beaders who join this trip  (more on that later) it is spread out with one session in each city giving you time to bead on your own in between, but also importantly giving you time to enjoy yourself with any non beading companions.  Sue and Debra have also thought to provide wonderful non bead related tours for your companions while you are beading.  My take is this should work really well, so well that Mark is definitely joining me.  I certainly would hesitate to take him to a weekend or week long beading retreat but this trip I think will serve both our needs beautifully.

Fitting in a three day river cruise is the perfect way to travel between Vienna and Budapest, relaxing (no organized beading) and enjoying the scenery along the way.

I won't review the entire itinerary here, just suffice it to say that every day appears to be a perfect mix of intriguing sight seeing, time with friends and a good amount of free time for those who love to explore on their own.  Have a look at the details here. I believe there are still some spots but I wouldn't hesitate.  I am glad to report that I know a few of the folks that have signed up and I think we are going to have a stellar time!

So what will the beading be like?  I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about this and the course work is evolving but I'd love to do a process class, somewhat similar to the master class called Playing with Possibilities that I taught in Milwaukee and again in England.  Both 3 day classes had great results with everyone achieving a good deal of success in creating pieces that matched their vision.  My plan is to focus first off on some Bohemian color schemes!  Boho style is definitely on trend right now so there is a lot of visual inspiration.  I'm going to select 3 of my most popular components or maybe 4 and work up some samples of different ideas.  For those who are signed up sometime before the cruise I will provide you with instructions for the the components we'll be using so that you can familiarize yourself with the thread path.  I'll also make recommendations on what beads to bring to help create your designs.  We'll spend some time talking about your design ideas and  you'll bead the pieces you wish to add to your design and finally work on arrangements to bring them into a piece of jewelry that will be uniquely yours.  In between our formal sessions, one in each city we visit,  you'll be able to bead as much or as little as suits you, and of course I'll be around so impromptu design consultations will be available as time permits.

Below are some shots from my first time in Prague.....over ten years ago now, but what I definitely remember about the city is the whimsy of the skyline with all of the spires on building tops. And the many angel statues.  I kind of have a thing for angel statues.  And the architecture, oh and beads.  Part of the visit to Prague will include a tour of a glass & Jewelry Museum!