Friday, February 27, 2009


Really, the studio is in chaos, the house is in chaos, the kind that makes me twitch...

I still need to put everything together, important papers, cameras, sunscreen etc. I still need to paint my toenails and apply flat backed sequins (one must have pretty toes while cruising), I still need to get Miss Maya's bed, food, bowls, leash ready to take to my daughters, I still need to iron the linen (well maybe not)

I've already said goodbye to the blog

and yet in the midst of the chaos, I had to bead this!

Ok, now I really am leaving, I really am going to finish up and kick back and relax until tomorrow morning at 4:30 a.m.

Leaving on a jet plane....

I always loved that song.....although it brings back memories of my very first heartbreak.

But this time it's all good. Seems like I'm always leaving on a jet plane these days. But this time I'll arrive in New Orleans to get on a big boat, meet up with dear husband and fellow beaders.

I took a few minutes last night to make these pretties. Just what I needed to go with the shawl. Verde rivolis, verde teardrops, bezeled in bronzey 3 cuts, embellished with gold charlottes. Simple yet elegant.

I'm pretty much ready, a few details yet to attend to, but the day is young and I'm confident.

I look forward to having some serious beading time, something that's been lacking in my life the last few days at least. I have ideas begging to be beaded, now what beads to pack?

This little jewel has been waiting for it's proper design complement since Thanksgiving when it first showed up in my mind and insisted on being beaded. There are five more and a necklace design is beginning to form...

Purple iris fire polish, peach helix crystal bi-cones, volcano rondelle center and a touch of orange permanent finish seed beads. I'm pretty much loving it.

Well dear blog readers, I fear that internet access will be scarce and blogging while I'm on the ship not practical, so please come back next week when I'll provide the 'full report' of a wonderful trip!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I love my tools

I've always enjoyed nice tools, and I've accumulated a set that I enjoy....

I adore my gingher leopard spot scissors

and my needle case, made for me by Rachel Nelson Smith (I made her socks with beads in the cuff, hot pink)

and my cupcake spoon, acquired in Tucson last year, cupcake by Ellie Mac

and my pincushion, scrap collector

and my new gram scale....great for weighing beads. It's so adorable, compact, weighs to the tenth of a gram and if you enter the price per unit it calculates the cost of the weighed item. I don't need that feature, but it's nice that it's there.

I love a tool that is both functional and attractive. It makes the work so much more visually stimulating, and I'm all about the visual.

Bead Illustration

I'm often asked what programs I use to do my illustrations. So I thought I'd write a little about the process,since it's been keeping me busy for the last two days. My next 'designer of the year' Beadwork project is due! I'm not sure how deadlines just come and sneak up like that....

I've been doing my own illustration for quite some time, but last year when I agreed to illustrate my own book 'Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence', I became painfully aware of how inadequate my skills were. Given it was a book and not classroom handouts (although I truly take those seriously as well), I knew I had to improve and quickly. I was fortunate to have the mentoring of Bonnie Brooks who illustrates many of the bead books available today.

I use Corel Draw to create my illustrations mainly because I already owned it and I didn't think with a book deadline looming it was time to take on new learning curve, but as it turns out learning curve was unavoidable. If I had to make a choice today I would use Adobe illustrator. I think the products are comparable, but there is more training and reference material available for illustrator.

So I've gotten reasonably adept at drawing beads and arranging them to illustrate the thread path and positioning, see...

That little dashed line showing the thread through the beads, an aha moment, thank you Rachel! You draw the line and choose dashed, then you duplicate it and choose solid, then you send the solid line to the back and the dashed line to the front. What a good day that was! Then I learned to rotate beads around 360 degrees, which is why you see the four points of the medallion evenly spaced. And I learned how to shade the facets of a crystal, thank you Bonnie.

After creating all my illustrations I save them as .wmf files (windows metafile) I am not sure of the true advantage of this step, but they seem to import and behave better then the native corel file. Then I open Microsoft Publisher, insert a picture of the project, insert all the illustrations, add text boxes and type the instruction. See simple!

For those of you who have already listened to more then you want to know....look for more fun content tomorrow. For those of you who have a need to learn bead illustration, I'm happy to share more if you contact me. I use Corel because I have it, but there are many simple drawing programs available, including the drawing tools within Microsoft Word that can be used to draw beads. They won't be as powerful, you probably can't rotate beads around a circle or blend along a path, but for simple bead illustration they do work.

Ok, off to finish up my 'New York State of Mind' and get it mailed off to Beadwork!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Busy Days Continue

But would I have it any other way?

Much to do before the bead cruise. This year we are going out of New Orleans and as far as Cozumel. I was thrilled when Heather asked me to join again this year. I can't wait to catch up with her and Mom Beverly of No Easy Beads. Also many friends from last year and new faces to meet. And, my darling husband is joining me! I did see him last week in Atlanta, but it wasn't nearly enough time. I can't wait to be in his arms again!

Here are a couple of pictures from last years cruise.

I love glass and these sculptures were beautiful.

I was successful in my cruisewear shopping with a floaty white skirt and yellow top to go with my new kiri shawl (I'll spare you another picture, although I do continue to love it) If you missed it you can look here.

I also took a day to rejuvenate a bit. The day found me beading with my knitting friends in a beautiful relaxing home on a gorgeous day. And in the evening Jeannette and I decided to feed our sushi cravings (for those of you who didn't know, Jeannette Cook of Beady Eyed Women is my neighbor, imagine that! a bead artist neighbor, pretty amazing). We ordered in and enjoyed some sake and sushi in her beautiful candlelit home.

Today, I have an ocean walk planned and then I really must get busy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sunsets to bead by.....

Since yesterdays post started with the sunrise I thought I'd start todays with a stellar sunset. I've never lived in a house until now where I was able to enjoy both a sunrise and sunset from the comfort of indoors. It is really quite a good feature of this house! Enjoyed from my studio.....

Apparently there will be several more of these this week as we experience pretty low daytime clouds and that perfect 70 degree temperature.

And speaking of beading, I've been giving Beadalon's new wildfire a second try and liking it. I received a sample at last years Bead and Button, but was not enamored with the really black color. Since that time Greg Hanson, in the interest of spreading the word on a thread he liked, sent me a dusty green color and in Tucson I sampled a frost color so decided a second chance was in order. And I'm liking it. It has a smooth untangly feel that glides through the beadweaving similar to silamide but with more strength and easier to thread. It knots well and with the two current colors I can accomplish many of my pallettes. Best part, no black residue to wipe off and no dirty hands. I did meet the Beadalon folks in Tucson this year and requested a smoke color to use instead of the black. They were giving it consideration and I hope that we will have a smoke color in the future. My recommendation, give it a try, I like it!

And have a look at Greg's site, he does beautiful lampwork and he beads! Perhaps Marcie had some influence there? Marcie was one of my first beading idols. At the time I lived in Northern California but my job required frequent trips to the Tijuana factory. I always arranged these trips so that time was left for a trip to the Shepherdess. I was enamored with Marcie's freeform peyote and beautiful scultpural work.

Another playdate with knitting, a girl needs some balance. I'm working on Satine from French Girl Knits. If you are a knitter this is a beautiful book to own. Lot's of floaty romantic wear.

Yesterday my daughter Casey came to help kit and we finished up things for the cruise, so I can relax a tiny bit.


Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm home

The morning welcomed me, still in bed this is my morning view (the window is curved, your sight is not distorted)

(Miss Maya, who was trying to sleep in and not enjoying the view)

Today I need to, wash clothes and repack, only this time I'll need different clothes. Atlanta was cold and I got to wear black velvet, but my next trip is the bead cruise and I don't think black velvet will do. So I need to start perusing the summer clothes for a suitable wardrobe. I may have to go shopping! I'd like a floaty white dress to wear with my new shawl. See those pretty sparkly drops attached to each delicate point? They are beautiful Swarovski teardrops in Crystal Verde and yes they were expensive and yes they were really supposed to go into Romantica kits, but I couldn't resist. Now I need to order more in time for my class with the Kentucky girls. But I think it was worth it, I love this shawl.

It was suggested (Thanks Liz) that perhaps my hair should match my new packaging.

And since I'm going with the blue theme, I had to have these sparkly peace signs made by Leesa at Beaddazzles.

May you enjoy a 'peace'ful day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beadazzled at Beadazzles...

I'm still in Atlanta, having a grand time at Beadazzles. We just finished up the second day of Rings of Saturn. Barbara brought three of her friends who have been learning to bead. And it was Judy's birthday! Everyone was focused and turning out really beautiful pieces.

Vikki came last year when her husband gifted her two of my classes for Christmas and she's back again, along with friend Pat.

And Vikki started a trend. She was the first to visit the ribbon store next door, Fine Ribbon and Embellishments, and came back with a ribbon flower

Gabriella and I followed and came back with an orange one and a cream one. We met Ronny there and she bought a pretty one as well.

Here's a great picture of Alice the owner with Vikki, Alice is on the right.

And here's the Beckah who works at Beadazzles and does the website. Isn't she the cutest!

Tomorrow we have 17 of us doing Romantica, so we're sure to have a fun day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I may have mentioned this before....San Diego weather can be a bit, well the same. And being an East Coast girl originally, I like a little diversity in my weather. Yesterday Atlanta provided it. I flew in to teach at Beadazzles and Alice picked me up at the airport. There was torrential rain, light up the sky lightening and deafening thunder claps. I loved it! I would have loved it more if poor Alice weren't stuck driving in it.

Today I'm teaching Rings of Saturn, size 15 right angle weave, and everyone is doing a fabulous job.

Here is a picture of Gabriella. We met in Atlanta last year I'm pleased to call Gabriella a friend. She's an excellent beader and came to visit and help in my studio. She's wearing her version of crystal collage and it's stunning.

Gabriella is from Amsterdam, a citiy I love, so we had lot's to share.

Wireless access is limited to lunch time, so more tomorrow!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The help I've had!

I must use a blogpost to thank all of the stellar help I've had throughout my 'ramp up' of kits for this season (and it's only the beginning, all of you waiting for online kits, soon, really, dear husband continues to work on the website and it's close)

Every day people came to my studio and supported me and I am so entirely grateful.

The 'Grove' girls came, my knitting, turned beading friends. They were brilliant, although I had to dole out jobs with diplomacy. There was whining involved, 'I have to weigh the beads and Gail gets to play with all the pretty crystals', 'I have to put labels on packages,' ' yes, but they're pretty labels, I have to put a,b,c...labels on bags, not so fun'

But it was all really good fun and we got many kits done and I thank you!

And then Linda came, and she was mellow and amenable and we went on an outing and stopped at the yarn store and then we worked for a bit and had a valentines dinner.

And then Tina, queen of organization came and we kitted and she labeled, and organized and neatened

And then Jill came and Tina came back and they held my hand (not literally) while I whined and bemoaned my new printer install not working, and they calmed me down and organized me and labeled and kitted and packaged.

See Progress!

I'm ready! I can relax a little today, I have a dentist appointment (and you know how relaxing that is) and a hair appointment (my accomplished daughter is my hair stylist, will it be pink?) and I have a dinner date with my friend Jonna

and on Wednesday morning I fly to Atlanta. And on Friday night Mark will drive to Atlanta and I will be so completely happy to be in his presence.

It's really cold in Atlanta and dry, I just checked, that means I can pack black velvet, my favorite bead wardrobe.

knitting break.....

I gave myself a short knitting break yesterday and blocked my Kiri, freshly off the needles. Blocking lace is transformative and I love the points. This one is made from Habu's silk mohair.

I decided some sparkle was in order and am adorning each delicate point with my favorite verde teardrop crystals, easily doubling the cost, but I think it will be elegant. I am hoping to wear it on my upcoming bead cruise. We leave March 1st out of New Orleans, sail as far as Cozumel and back. I've never been a lot of the places this cruise stops so it will be interesting. But the best part is that Mark will join me. Well there are lots of best parts actually, because I also get to play with beads, revisit folks from last year and meet new folks. It's too late for this year, but you might want to keep this cruise on your radar screen for next year. It is run by Heather Powers of Humblebeads. Heather finds good artists in multiple disciplines and entices 60 beaders to come play.

Speaking of cruises, Margo Fields and Carole Tripp set sail on Saturday from San Diego. Carole owns Creative Castle in Newbury Park. Last time I was there Carole found my original proposal that I sent in 1999, meaning this year is the 10th anniversary of my teaching there! Since they were so close I had to go and say Hi! We took a short stroll along the waterfront and enjoyed the urban trees. You would have had a picture, I remembered the camera, unfortunately I did not remember the memory stick!

Between now and the cruise I will fly to Atlanta to teach at Beadazzles, a well stocked beautiful store and Alice, a very nice owner.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day

Valentines day finds me without my valentine....but he sent a lovely card, a mushy, this is how much I love you card, just the kind I like. And he sent flowers which I've put in this exquisite vase which is completely sentimental and pink. I met my valentine in March of 1984. My birthday is in October and this vase was his first birthday gift to me. I was really, really impressed with his gift selecting abilities. Don't you agree? It is from Lundberg studios which is in Davenport California, a visually beautiful coastal ride north of Santa Cruz where we lived.

Since that first vase, many others followed, including this one, very valentiney indeed

I leave you with a beaded valentine and the wish for a day where you give and receive love. (Lampwork by Julie Wuest Leopard Heart Beads)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Changing Things Up

First, this weeks flowers. I love sunflowers and it seems to be one of those flowers that are always availble. As much as I like flowers you'd think I'd perhaps like to grow them, and I would like them to grow plentiful in my yard, looking colorful and beautiful, but that would require time, and putting my hands in dirt and weeding and....yeah, well, Trader Joes has a nice selection.

So, there is a new website coming (just as soon as I identify all required pictures for workshops and kits and crop them and size them and take new pictures to replace ones taken before I learned to effectively use my digital camera) and there is this new blog with my lovely urchin necklace (created with the help of the Dallas girls)and (man this might be a run on sentence) so I thought it fitting that I change my kit packaging to match my new look, and of course then my business cards....It's a lot of work.

But I'm pretty happy with the result

Kind of a Tiffany blue, don't you think? Very pretty, gives that little bundle of beads a whole new presence.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wanna see some Tucson Stash?

I told you yesterday I'm having a love affair with fire polish, stands to reason I guess, it's sparkly and comes in a lot of beautiful colors, like these ones.

I call this the design inspiration stash.....

See those little aqua and olivey ones? 2 mm firepolish, I'm in love, not sure when or how I'll use them, but I had to have them.

Oh and this, more design inspiration stash......

Design inspiration stash? Calling lampwork design inspiration stash may be a stretch (although I'm willing to go there to justify my habit) because usually I just fondle and admire my lampwork, but occassionally I press it into use ...

as in this eclectic purse fob.

Just for the record, in case you're paying attention, not all seed beads or lampwork were a result of this particular trip to Tucson....ok, a good part of the seed bead wall was 'enhanced' with matte metallics, metallics and 3 cut 15's, but that's all....A girl needs a good design inspiration stash after all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

and the kitting continues....

Ready, set, Kit!

First you pick the supply list

Then you get the kit contents from the corresponding drawer

Then you put beads in the appropriate bag per the legend

We made 70 kits today and we weren't too distracted. Susan announced on arriving that we had to focus, we were not to see the Tucson stash until kitting had been accomplished....I held out for the first 20 kit session and then couldn't wait any longer to bring out the lovely fire polish beads I had chosen...Everyone picked a color they were happy with and a rivoli to match and a size 8 and 15 seed bead to coordinate. We had lunch and kitted some more and then a right angle weave lesson commenced and everyone got it, they were all really quick studies and there are going to be beautiful bracelets in beautiful colorways and I'm so happy my girls love the beads. Thank you! for all of the help.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let there be kits!

Today 3 friends will join me in the kitting room. Judy will be doing her real life today but will join us for more fun on Friday. They used to be my knitting girls and we do all still knit,quite well I might add (I'll get back to that part of the story) but over time, beads have been introduced and they've all declared 'the year of the bead'. Their first project was La Boquita and then Susan moved onto Terracita, a former non-beader doing circular right angle weave from directions only (I didn't tell her it was hard, she didn't know it was right angle....)

You see, it's working out quite well for me, I teach them beading (they are all hugely talented already) and they come help me kit. I don't think it's really a fair trade, I think I get the better end of the deal, but so far they're excited to come play in the studio and help out.

We do tend towards exuberance as a group, so we'll see how much we get done. But first they all want to see the 'Tucson stash'. And today they will learn how to do the crystal splash cuff. I bought lot's of pretty fire polish in Tucson and some gorgeous matching rivolis and they will all pick their favorites.

If you 'd like to make one, directions are in Bead and Button's special Right Angle Weave edition which came out summer of 2008, although I think I've seen it still on the newstands. It's so much prettier in person, the addition of the embellisment tips the firepolish at an angle for lot's of extra sparkle. I've been having a love affair with firepolish. The colors are so beautiful.

On the knitting front we've all just bought French Girl Knits and are busy selecting the pattern we'd like to make. If you're a knitter and on Ravelry, or you own the book, I want to do Louisa, a long lace tunic of sorts. We want them to wear to the March 28th Walkabout in South Park (which may be overly ambitious for me, Susan is the speed knitter of the group and will have no trouble, hey, maybe she'll make mine...) , where Susan owns the Grove, a wonderful yarn store, shared with a wonderful book store and gift store and more.

We'll also get a sneak peak at Val's newest felted purses before they go off to live with their new owners. Val is a super talented fiber artist who makes really fun stuff.

This little confection lives in my studio and holds my beading needles.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rainy Days

It's rainy in San Diego, really really rainy....and when you have a 1940's house with a flat roof, well rain can be problematic. But I love a good stormy day, with the wind whipping through the trees, a chill in the air and a rousing rain storm. Now to hope for no new leaks.

This is the view of the pepper trees from my studio. They remind me of giant willow trees on the East Coast and their branches sway in the wind. The also literally rain leaves, and make quite the mess.

A good rainy day calls for yarn so I retreated to the yarn room this morning for a little session with my Kiri shawl. There are 288 stitches and to bind off each stitch needs to be manipulated 5 times, I don't even want to do the math.....

My house tends to be mono-chromatic with yarn, beads and flowers providing the color splash

Yes, these flowers 'grow' in beads!

It's time for some erranding, hope I don't melt. Then some studio clean up to get ready for a huge kitting day tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Man in my Life

There is a man in my life, I met 25 years ago in Santa Cruz, I loved him then and I love him now. I married him 23 years ago. He keeps me sane, he grounds me, he loves me, and he is the love of my life. Right now Mark is in North Carolina and I am in California. He will join me in Atlanta when I teach at Beadazzles and he will join me again on the bead cruise from New Orleans. But right now I'm missing him, Love you Sweetie!

p.s. for my children (Isn't he cute?)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Farewell to Tucson

First, highlight of my day, a new collection of Gail Crosman Moore beads, I can't resist, the women is brilliant with color and shape and she has an eclectic assortment of embellishments.

At night we attended the Swarovski party near downtown Tucson. Everywhere one looks the finest Swarovski jewelry adorns necks, ears, wrists and fingers. Here are just a few of the folks I got to see or meet

Melinda Barta, beadwork editor, adorable and talented

Kristal Wick, so nice, beautiful necklace of silk beads with crystal

Meredith from Beadalon looking stunning in black with silver and crystal necklace

Tatiana, Wow! necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring. Leaves in the necklace of size 24 beads, amazing

Scarlett Lanson, contributing Beadwork editor and Scarlett's Mom, there was a strand of crystal running through her braid

The girls from Fusion Beads, don't they look nice together

Myself and travel companion Susan of the Beading Frenzy

And Janet, ever patient with Susan and I carrying on conversations that move in ten directions at once.

I'm packed for the drive back to San Diego. Next, putting away beads and preparing to kit. Lot's of help this week, so I need to be ready and use everyone's time wisely.