Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I'm finally ready with two huge suitcases to go to Kentucky.....Leaving early morning. I know I could blog with my mobile phone, had I only sorted out how to and I've decided not travel with my laptop since I already have a kink in my neck and traveling heavier then I already am will not help the situation.

So I may or may not be in touch depending on my internet access while away.

And when I arrive home on Monday evening Mark (dearest of husbands) will finally be home for good. We'll be living permanently in the same house on the same coast and well, I may be blogging or I may be distracted, we'll see.

Take care, have a party, be well...I'll be back soon enough.

Nice Packaging

I really like nice packaging. I've worked hard at mine lately and I really appreciate the extra effort when I receive something nicely wrapped.

Yesterday's mail brought this, my Etsy purchase from Lorelei, very nicely wrapped.

Thanks Lorelei!

I'm off to Kentucky early tomorrow morning. Still packing to be done, as soon as Maya gets out of my suitcase that is. Whenever a suitcase is present Maya hops in with that 'please can I go, please' look on her face.

Kentucky is going to be fun. I have big full classes which is the way I love it, lot's of good bead energy. And there will be many familiar faces, Diane and Anne and Ellen and Sandy and Barbara and Lisa and.....well lot's. And lot's of new ones as well. I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The cycle of clean continues

I am married to a man who is neat by nature, really neat, he doesn't understand the word procrastinate, there is no time like the present for getting things done. And yet somehow he puts up with me.

I am not so neat.....I undress and lay the clothes next to my bed. By the end of the week, broad-jumping skills are required to clear the pile. Friends once noted that as long as last seasons clothes weren't at the bottom of the pile it was ok. If you've visited my house you now know why the bedroom door is always closed. And yet Mark is gracious and does not complain.

I do the dishes,(stop laughing Linda, yesterday was an anomaly) but they do 'air dry' on a dishtowel next to the sink sometimes for multiple days.

When I moved back to CA from NC I stashed a bunch of boxes in Mark's office. And then I had to route through them looking for things and I made quite a mess.

Well Mark is coming home for good next Saturday night. I won't be here because I'll be teaching in Kentucky. But I did find it necessary to have him arrive home to a clean house. So the day was spent cleaning up his office, washing dishes, putting away clothes and such. As well as writing directions.

I'm over the moon to have him home and now the house is neat enough for his arrival.
Yesterday was earring day at my house. There was a day when I never did beaded earrings, but I find that I like a nice little sparkly at my neckline and I can always manage to bead up a pair quickly if there is a color I want.

Last night myself and friends were off to the Walkabout in South Park San Diego. And I needed appropriate jewelry to wear with my new slouch. I came up with these two pairs and opted for the simpler pair on the right.

The first pair of these were done for the book and I gifted them to Nathalie the wonder editor at Lark. She was absolutely delighted and it seems that she's now gotten the beading bug. Another beader among us!

The second pair I wasn't wild about at first but then Linda tried them on and their gentle swinging enabled one to appreciate both sides of the design. Basically they are reversible. Jill and I both agree, when in doubt add fuschia and so I did.

The walkabout was great fun with the Grove at the center of it all (in my world at least), Scoop next door with delicious ice cream and cupcakes and Junc Boutique down the street with fresh eclectic art jewelry and clothing.

Today I need to do serious work ......

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I have many many things to do yet, to be ready to leave the house on Wedneday morning and be ready to teach in Kentucky, but....I finished this! Slouch from the new Sally Melville book.

The color is beautiful, as is the beaded trim I added to the ribbons...

Book, yarn and ribbon purchases at The Grove in San Diego

Loving my Etsy purchase

I was 'wandering around' blogland last evening after sushi and had a look at Lorelei's blog (something I do often) based on these,

I decided to go have a look at the Etsy shop and then I found this!

It was her entry into Scarlett Lanson's Use the Muse and I loved it when I saw it in the 'big reveal' and then there it was all pretty and pink and bronze and it was for sale. Well it's not any longer, it's mine now and I love it. Lorelei has a great design sense and puts together many wonderful combinations. Me, I use little seed beads and I weave, but I love the eclectic style that others bring to their jewelry. Can't wait to wear it. Pppssst, I didn't buy the earrings, you might want to go have a look quick, they're real pretty.

I saw many other amazing designs while scrolling through the big reveal including Andrew Thornton's winning design and Compass Rose from my friend Susan Blessinger and Spring has Sprung by Katie Nelson and....well just go have a look. And I may just be inspired to enter the next 'bead the muse' Because some how in the future I am always going to have great gobs of time available.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Seven Points

I have been craving sushi and last night I finally was able to satisfy the craving at Sushi Oto in San Diego.

Sushi Oto earns a 5 out of 7 on my sushi restaurant rating system. 6 out of 7 is the best ever achieved and that was in a strip mall in San Ramon California next to the Place to Bead.

How does one get 7 out of 7, here is the system

Great sushi 1 point
Round chopsticks 1 point
Miso salad dressing 1 point
Ambience 1 point
Nigori Sake 1 point
Mocchi ice cream 1 point
Coffee mocchi ice cream bonus point

It appears that miso dressing is a Santa Cruz only offering. My two favorite Santa Cruz restaurants Takara and Shogun have a creamy miso salad dressing.

There are quite a few who get 5 out of 7, but 6 out 7 is rare and 7 out of 7 has never happened.

But I did enjoy the evening. And if you know of a 7 out of 7 let me know!

Design Considerations

Being a bead artist who teaches others, I take much into account when designing.

I like my designs to be wearable, provide the right level of challenge and complexity, be achievable in a reasonable timeframe, and be affordable. Another key consideration is that I like the artist beading my work to be able to change it up enough to bring their own creative voice to the piece.

Romantica has been a great example where my design considerations have really worked. It can be taught in a day, but I have much to offer during the course of the day. I've seen many finished Romantica's and I've seen it endlessly changed up to make it unique to the wearer.

Victoria was another great project, but really works better as a two day class. Different color choices change up the look from elegant to soft and romantic. Many mother of the brides have chosen this design.

Given that I am usually considering the teachability factor when designing, writing the book and designing for the magazines has been quite freeing. I had many designs to share that wouldn't be suitable for teaching but will be quite doable with a good set of instructions. Designs like fanfare are easily achieved with just a few minutes of simple instruction.

It wouldn't make sense for me to teach it in a classroom, but it is still a great design that I wanted to share. Oh and did I mention this one has 14 gross of crystal? Yes, this one will take a committment to saving up for those crystals but it just may be worth it! The book also has many other design options with less pricey materials. For the impatient beaders among you, the book is now pre-orderable on Amazon 'Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence' and coming soon will be details on how to order a signed copy on my site (need to put that on the to do list!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Calendarizing the to do list

In my corporate life I managed big complicated software installation projects. The training is coming in handy as I try to manage by bead artist business. I need to maintain a schedule.

I've learned that the to do list doesn't serve me unless I calendarize it (pretty sure spell check is going to have a problem with that word).

Pay seed bead supplier (4 minutes) doesn't compare with submit next Beadwork project (12 hours) and then some things are time sensitive, such as book flight to Alaska Bead Company. It's fairly important I do that sometime prior to the date I teach. And I think tax time is approaching???

So I find putting the to do items onto a calendar in order of priority, with a sensitivity to the time a task will take, helps me immensely. I can get a sense of whether things are under control and doable or if I was delusional when making committments. Right this minute I'm leaning towards delusional since I think I travel 21 days out of 30 in April.....So the to do's must fit in those 9 days along with laundry, cooking, eating, paying bills, putting gas in the car, feeding the dog and the other normal life activities.

Guess I better get busy.

I leave you with the sweetest salt and pepper shakers, reminds me of the twittering spring birds. Did I say 'twitter' I'm trying to avoid that conversation...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We kissed, a lot

Excuse the quality of the photo, I retrieved it from pre-digital days and since I apparently haven't installed my scanner, fax, copier, printer to scan to my computer, I took a photo of a photo....but you get the idea

The 25th rose...a love story

On Sunday March 23rd of 1984 I visited Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz Ca and was charmed by a cute man pushing his two children, four and seven, on swings. We had been casual acquaintances at a previous company and I struck up a conversation. He was divorced and working in Los Gatos, 'over the hill' in Silicon Valley. I also worked 'over the hill' and suggested lunch. He suggested Tuesday, March 25th.

We had lunch at La Maison Du Cafe. He wore a plaid shirt and bolo tie....he was interesting, we had lunch again. He invited me to dinner at his house and I brought my five year old. His car broke down while he went to retrieve the babysitter, the evening did not go as planned. But we persevered and went to see 'Terms of Endearment' the following week.

A few months went by, he asked me to go to Hawaii. I was always totally enamored by travel, but it had never been part of my life. I was thrilled, it was the perfect vacation, every moment of it special. We were 'going steady'

I sent him a red rose for our first date anniversary and we ate at La Maison du Cafe.

We got engaged in Mexico, we bought a house in Santa Cruz, we got married in Minnesota, we worked 'over the hill', raised three children and a Golden Retriever named Lady. And we traveled.

I sent him 2 roses for our second first date anniversary and three for our third and so on...

The children are grown and thriving on their own. We moved to Holland for a year, and then to San Diego. We adopted Miss Maya Princess Angelina DeCoster and bought a 1940's art deco house in Lemon Grove. I 'retired' from corporate life and with Mark's support became a full time bead artist.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the first date and I wouldn't have lived life any other way. And today I sent the 25th rose.....I love you honey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Photography and White Balance

I think learning about white balance is one of the most important things you can do if you want to photo your own jewelry. There are many others of course

spot metering
marcro setting
light tent

But learning to set your white balance will help you to avoid that blueish, pinkish or yellowish cast that comes from a wrong white balance setting.

The important concept is to set your white balance to match your light source. I happen to have fluorescent photo bulbs in my photo light fixtures. I set my piece inside a portable fabric light tent on a gradated white to grey photo background and set my white balance to fluorescent.

I have a Sony Cyber Shot I usually use for my jewelry, but for the purposes of the blog I also have an inexpensive Canon powershot. Even on this camera I can easily set white balance, and I've done it here to show you the result.

You'll want to put the camera into manual mode. There is usually a function or menu button which will give you a digital screen on which to change settings.

Typical white balance settings are automatic, sun, cloud, incandescent light, fluorescent light and evaluative (you aim the camera at your environment and click the shutter).

Remembering that I actually have fluorescence's in my setting, I give you the results in order.

Automatic - not terrible

Sun - a little pinkish

Cloud - not so good

Incandescent - truly horrible

Fluorescent - the best result

Evaluative - a litle yellowish

I think you can see that when the white balance matches my light source, in this case fluorescent, I get the the truest color and most pleasing background. When I chose incandescent, that gave the worst result with a blueish cast to the background.

Both my composition and exposure could be improved here, but for the purpose of the white balance lesson, I think they tell the story.

Now off to clean the studio once again for a new session of kitting.....See you all tomorrow for a love story!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Soft Aqua

It was a great four days with Annie...lot's of kitting accomplished with a few fun moments thrown in, nice food, nice company, some good shopping, and cuddles with Maya

I treated myself to a true day off, spending the time with friends at a favorite breakfast stop and then some new knitting. It seems I am having a love affair with pale aqua at the moment. Influenced by my previously teal hair, fading to a light and soft aqua?

Here is what I'm knitting...on the new bed linens

And the vase and perfume bottle

and a new piece of artwork

And a jar of vintage buttons, (pppsss....see the soft aqua one?)

Yeah, pale aqua, and a new pair or earrings in the imagination today, hope to bead them in the next few days, using some of the Tucson fire polish stash, I'll keep you posted.

The Grove girls are coming tomorrow for some more kitting. Urchin Lariat is on the schedule, the one on the cover of Masters Beadweaving, do I see aqua?

24 kits, 4 colorways....a busy day!

Friday, March 20, 2009

kitting continues....

Time, that elusive commodity is getting the best of me right now. I have to use Annie's time wisely, so back to kitting, but at the request of Candy's comments, here is another studio shot

My inspiration books close at hand....there are the 500 series and many costume jewelry books, and beading reference books and just plain pretty books, I love them all

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kitting for Kentucky

We're kitting

Maya is supervising....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Flowers and Guests

Color inspiration? Jill brought me these lovely flowers yesterday

I may have to bead something orange and green....

and a touch of yellow?

And just the littlest hint of pink

On another note....Guess who's coming today?!

I love Annie, it will be a really nice visit with a little work thrown in, well a lot of work if I'm to be ready for the Kentucky girls. It's a large group and they all want kits, Romantica, Rings of Saturn and Portico bracelet and whatever else we can manage in 4 days and still allow for a little fun.

Monday, March 16, 2009


What a diffrence a day makes....

Are you able to see the neatness? Prior to yesterday's extreme clean session, there was not a table surface in sight, every last space was covered with stuff...and now great expanses of open space.

This is a good thing because Annie is coming to help me kit which requires some semblance of order.

And not only did I make space in the studio, I cleaned the bedroom, including under and behind the bed, and I rolled up the rug for pick up by the cleaners and I washed all the dishes and I made up the guest bed...

It was a productive day and now I treat myself to a day off before I revel in the orderliness of the studio. I know that it's neatness will spur creative endeavors...at least I hope so.

This is waiting to be finished...

Keeping up

I find lately that keeping up is challenging....there is just so much to keep up with, so many things I'd like to learn....I have a website and am busy building a new one (with much help from Mark) next up is setting up and testing a new shopping cart so you can buy kits

Then there is facebook, then ravelry (a knitting community) and I upload photos of my knitting and I have a blog and I'd like to figure out rss feed so you can get email of my updates (only if you want to of course) and then there is twitter and I'm definitely not going there right now at least

I need to update my business card to my new colors, which means updating my publisher file, then logging onto the printers site, I'm sure I must have an account, then using their upload program to submit my new card.

and I read others blogs and I 'follow' them so I see when they update and I keep noticing these photo mosaics, Beverly Gilbert has some great ones, so now I want to learn to photo mosaic, which I hear you can do on Flickr and I have a Flickr account, so I want to try to figure it out....

But all this keeping up is exhausting me and really what I need to do is clean, really clean, I can no longer function in the mess I've left behind.

Perhaps next week we'll have a look at photo mosaics.

I have three days before Annie Hesse comes to visit so there is much cleaning to be done.

Funny I don't have a single blog worthy picture to share today, but somehow I'm sure I need a mosaic of pictures, the logic is escaping me right now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Yesterday we drove to Beads by Blanche and had a sensational day. Blanche knew I was coming, but Wendy didn't and it was a fun surprise. Given I live in San Diego, she wasn't expecting me to walk in the door. Blanche was as warm and welcoming as always and it was great to see her. The store is beautifully stocked with all kinds of treasures, and a huge seed bead collection. Eleanor had never seen so many seed beads in one place and had great time picking colors.

While I was there I saw a bracelet of Shelley Nybakke's, loved it.

Go look at Blanches schedule, Shelly's going to be there with beautiful designs. And Maggie's pieces, a cuff and stunning necklace.

I had a design breakthrough with my medallion piece and bought some fun components to complete it. I expect it will debut in my fall class lineup.

I also picked up the latest copy of Beadwork and was treated to all the beautiful new designs from both the Designer of the Year Series and many others. I think the magazine is doing a great job of presenting fresh new seed bead projects. I loved the feature on Betcey Ventrella, Road to Beads, and Melinda Barta's antique connectons cuff, and Amy Haftkowycz's vintage charm and....well, go have a look, their all great, and oh, there was also this....

A color departure for me, but I love it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Artistic connections

I love my artistic connections. Yesterday was one of those wonderful days when I was able to share my love of beading with a fellow artist. Eleanor is a very accomplished bead artist and uses right angle weave, which you may know as one of my favorite stitches. Thursday we shopped for beads and yesterday we decided to stay home and bead. We admired one another's beads, we problem solved, we encouraged and we had bead breakthroughs. I think we were each influenced in a positive way to try new approaches.

And then Rhoda, Eleanor's mom came home and drove us to their favorite bead store and it was a treat. I got some amazing vintage Swarovski pieces and....I found just the right thing for Kate's ring, it's still a surprise, but I'm darn excited. While there we came across 'Swarovski girl' who Eleanor named Rosa Linda. Doesn't she look like she has attitude?

I've been beautifully hosted and it's been a pleasure to spend time with such gracious fellow artists. Rhoda's home is full of artistic surprises and I spied these little beauties and asked if I could photo them. I haven't shared yet, but I have a compulsion for collecting salt and pepper and this pair captured me totally. I love them!

Today...more bead shopping!

Kate's ring

During my Tucson trip I stopped to chat with Kate McKinnon who happened to be next to Green Girl Studios. I found myself fondling some great little flying bird charms and asked Kate to 'do something' with them. We decided on a ring trade, her's pmc and mine seeds of course. We also decided to complete our trade at bead and button leaving plenty of time for non pressured design. Are you kidding, I have to design a ring for Kate, which of course has to be a very cool ring, and structurally integral and interesting and .....it's pressure. But I've been playing with a design that I think has great possibilities.

One of the plus sides of so much travel is all of the airtime beading I can accomplish. I flew to New York on a 4 hour and 45 minutes non stop flight with two bulkhead seats to myself, heaven.

And this is what I beaded.

Yes it really was 4 hours of beading, it is size 15 double walled right angle weave and it is just a sneak preview of the design so as not to ruin the surprise.

I'm hoping to find just the right treasure to complete it in this weekends bead shopping.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bead shopping in Manhattan

You would think that maybe I would have finished bead shopping in Tucson, but the opportunity to go to Manhattan presented itself and turns out I still needed a few things. Then we generally wandered the city. If you're there, 19th avenue and Broadway there is a beautiful home store called ABC home. And in the back there is a delightful restaurant where we ate. And then on our way back we saw this little guy....

He was pretty worried I was after his nut and kept on trying to escape my camera's gaze. Cute isn't he.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New York New York

Yes, I'm off to Manhattan, for a play date. I'm meeting up with Eleanor a fellow beadartist who does fabulous work. I met her when I was living in North Carolina and we were determined to stay in touch so we're traveling to New York for the love of beads.

We will stay with her Mom Rhoda in Brooklyn and then travel off to Manhattan for some serious bead shopping and fun. I love the garment district and all the treasures to be found there. I am on the lookout for cool sequins and interesting fire polish and perhaps a second Monkey Biz animal to go with my first.

We're also going to visit Blanche at Beads by Blanche in Bergenfield New Jersey. Blanche has some serious seed beads, and some serious crystals and all kind of other good stuff.

I finished proofing the book and a few minor corrections are off to the editor.

I'll be taking the laptop so perhaps there will be some Manhattan photos to amuse you in the next few days.

Book Book Book!

You may know that I spent the better part of last year working on a book which will be published by Lark Books. I finished up the bulk of the work in September and sent it off to be edited, layed out, proof-read, proof-read and proof-read....and that process continues. Today I will receive the final proof in the mail.

There were many exciting days in the book writing process, the day I was asked, the day my proposal was accepted, the day I finished the last project, the day I finished the last illustration, the day I finished the last edit, and I'm pretty sure the day it is finally released in September will be an especially good day.

But as excitement goes, seeing the book cover is close to the top of the list, and so today I share it with you!

Pretty, heh? I think it fits the whole opulent theme. The book is second in a series called Beadweaving Master Class. Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork was first in the series. I've had the projects back since early this year and have been sharing sneak peeks as I travel and teach. Here are a couple of sneak peeks for the blog readers as well.

There are 24 projects in the book, illustrating different ways of working with right angle weave. There is fabric, rope, armatures, curves, embellishments, and layers. And each technique has 3 to 5 projects ranging from simple to more complex. I think beaders new to right angle weave will find plenty of designs they can create to build their skill level. There are also many designs which will advance the skill or intrique the more seasoned right angle weaver.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Last Shawl picture

I promise....but this one is of the shawl in action. I just can't go on enough about how much I love this shawl. And then there is my darling Mark who I also love. It was a very good evening.

If you missed one of the previous 87 times I've blogged about my shawl, then here are the details

Kiri, made of Habu silk mohair with swarovski verde teardrops affixed to each point, I think I mentioned how much I love it a few thousand times.

I'm kind of an accessory knitter, I find it turns out better that way. Fit and gauge are all less important.

Hopefully I will knit some other wonderful accessory soon so I can share something new!

In the meantime, some new beading showed up on the cruise as did some design elements to finish a necklace which has been in the works for awhile. Now if I can get just a few more minutes!

Bead Cruising!

Lot's too share and not too much time to share it in. I'm off again Wednesday morning, so the the unpacking and packing must begin along with doing an inventory check and some supply ordering....But before reality sets in too quickly let me share some bead cruise week highlights.

We flew into New Orleans and the fun began meeting up with old and new friends at Mothers restaurant. Who would have ever thought it would be COLD! I brought sandals and tee shirts, it was 39 degrees...Mark and I walked to Cafe Du Monde for Beignets and I almost froze, my poor little toes were very cold.

Onto the ship and the fun really began, with a welcome dinner. Heather puts on a really nice event and this year was no exception. You might want to bookmark this site so you can sign up and enjoy the fun next year!

I taught Les Perles de la Mer (Beads of the Sea) on Monday, how fitting. Lila finished hers and many others were close.

Mark and I had lunch on Tuesday

and the water was beautiful

and the foliage was beautiful

I admired many sky pictures, I love a dramatic sky

I met Lorelei who I had formally only met in blogworld and she was delightful

and I met Mary Hettmansperger who was gracious and funny and knowledgeble and I loved getting to know her a little better. She's written two must own books on metal which have both been hugely successful. I can't wait to try my hand at some of her techniques.

and I got to see Helen and Ethel, mother and daughter...Ethel is a hoot, she para-sailed! And I got to see Arline and Susan another set of mother and daughter bead cruisers (my photography skills escaped me and I don't have a good picture of the two of them) but they were great fun and it was a pleasure spending time with them.

And I taught Terracita earrings and Lila finished, and Becca finished and Sandy and Sandy finished and many were well on their way to finishing.

And Royelle was in my Rio Dulce class and made a most beautiful version.

We had a farewell dinner and for me a favorite part of this cruise a bead competition. Amazing what people were able to create in one week, fabulous! If only I were organized I would have taken pictures, sigh....trust me gorgeous.

I am taking a few minutes to savor what a grand life I have. I met so many fun, warm, talented and creative people on this trip. Thanks to all of you! I had a wonderful time.