Thursday, May 31, 2012

Design Success

Given that long days were spent in front of the computer for the last several weeks, I used evenings to relax with beads.  I didn't have a new design in mind, in fact I was working a recent design in hopes of making it simpler to weave, thinking about different ways of going about the thread path....

After abandoning the idea, I started playing with the piece in my hand, folding it this way and that as I often do with my beadwork, and then I started stitching  and I ended up with this!

A pearl studded component.  And then I made more, and then I arranged them and then I connected them....and I love it!

I could connect them in a circle and make an exceptional pendant, or I could connect them as here into a bracelet, or I could connect them into a choker or I could arrange them staggered and make a really chunky bracelet or choker, or dangle one from the other....

I love it when a component excites me like this.  I love it when I don't start with a vision and something shows up that can be used in a myriad of ways. Although I love to teach, there is often the pressure of having a new class worthy design, and the fear that this time you've run out of ideas.

So having a new design, one where I can't wait to do it in a dozen different colors....Navy and silver, black, silver and mauve, maybe some of the new gemstone colors, it's an excellent feeling.  It's all crystal and pearl, barely a hint of seed beads just to hold it all together.

I know what I'll be shopping for at Bead and Button!  Pearls and more pearls!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I celebrated a huge milestone today, I packed up and shipped off the 16 remaining projects for my next book, Beads in Motion.  If you've been reading you've most likely followed the saga of my switching to an Apple Mac and to Adobe Illustrator for drawings.  The learning curve was steep and there are many things I still do not know, but in general I am very happy with my ability to draw beads.

And now I shall go celebrate meeting my deadline with a leisurely couple of hours reading on the veranda prior to taking a victory lap (which comes in the form of dinner out.)

Tomorrow I will turn my attention to Bead and Button I need to bask in the glow of accomplishment.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The biggest challenge

So far my biggest challenge has been to illustrate and write the instructions for cubic right angle weave. It turned out to be the perfect stitch for a bracelet band to support these little bejeweled sliding components.  I love the weight of it, and I love the act of stitching it.  It may be the ultimate in meditativeness, developing one cube at a time.  

But I can attest to the fact that illustrating it in two dimensions was no easy feat.  I hope that I did the job effectively enough to communicate it to those wanting to try their hand at it.  I may decide to do a video, we'll see, I haven't done that yet.  

In the meantime I will be one of several featured designers in the Toho booth at Bead and Button.  My time slot is Sunday June 10th I will there from ten to noon.  I've been invited to demo whatever I would like, and I'm thinking cubic raw.  It is one of those stitches which definitely benefits from being seen in person, so if you're curious and you're at the show, consider stopping by.

I'm fortunate that Mark made all of this years kits, and that Liz will be in the classroom to help and that I have lots of plans for seeing dear friends....but for right now, I have two more designs to finish for the book, before I can turn my full attention to Bead and Button preparedness.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's cold

In San Diego!  I had to go get woolies on....

These are from a day when I used to knit more, I look forward to getting back to it, but for the time being the illustration continues.

 I am on the home stretch, approaching done actually, but I haven't really let myself fully explore what that will feel like.  One of the reasons is I know that I am going to want to go back and 'improve' a few things.  As my skills progressed and I learned some better tricks, my illustrations got better.  There are some illustrations that I know I am going to want to improve, but for now, the goal is Wednesday and it's looking like I may be on target to succeed!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More peanuts

As is often the case I'm a bit slow to catch the trend, but once discovered I'm having a really good time with peanut beads.

This is the book piece I just completed and it's beauty shot that goes in my notebook with the illustrations supply list and text.  Of course it's just a little snippet, cropped to show you some detail without giving away the piece....

The peanuts have so  much substance!  So much in fact that a gram check, more about that in a minute, reveals that there are only 21 of these metallic peanuts in a gram.

I didn't use to do a gram check....until I had a kit come up short.  You see there are substantially different numbers of beads per gram depending on the material used.  I know, seems obvious now that I say it, but I used to do the math, you know, 9 units wide by 14 rows of right angle weave equals 154 beads, multiply by 20% to account for culling or spilling, and then divide by 120 the average number of size 11's in a gram. Well...a gram check reveals there are about 70 beads in a gram of gold seed beads.  And metal beads, well even less.  So now every kit begins with a gram check of the seeds to be used.  I'm trying to be smart and compile a library, but really there is only so much I can keep track of.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The piece

that almost beat project at a time I am illustrating and providing text and supplies for each piece in the next book.  The undone pieces all hang on the left bulletin board and the done pieces hang on the right.

I open a new illustrator file...I make all the beads I will use.  I don't start from scratch, I pick a previously used 15, 11, 8, pearl, crystal as the case may be and I color them the appropriate colors.  Then I begin to make an illustration of each step of the process.  When I'm done I take a screen shot of the beads I have used, paste it into a word file and begin the text.  Once the text is written I do the math to determine the quantity of each bead required.  Then I take a photo, print the illustrations, text, supply list and photo, 3 hole punch it and put it in the book.  I move the piece to the right bulletin board. I hope to complete a piece in a day, which is ambitious, but doable.

Sunday afternoon I picked this piece, simple enough really.....but for some crazy reason it was the one that fought me every step of the way.  Wrong problem I can fix that...forgot two illustrations, had to renumber all the figures...I can fix that....and on and on it went...I alphabetized the beads in the wrong order ...I can fix that, and finally it was done, two days it took, some are just like that.

On I went to the next one...and I messed up and got my filenames mixed up and over wrote them and deleted them and restored them and,  got myself entirely confused and it was gone!  The file I angsted over for two days, gone, poof.  Yes I have a back up, no it didn't help, long story.  Several deep breaths later, and I found the file in the virtual trash can!  Glory be, I'm going to go celebrate now!  The right bulletin board has more projects on it than the left.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breakfast made beautiful

I've always loved beautiful dish ware.  Many years ago in Santa Cruz I began my collection of Annie Glass and whenever I have the opportunity I pick up a new piece.  This is one of her latest, the beautiful frosted glass which reminds me of sea glass, stenciled with gold graphics.  My children gave me a bread plate with this motif for Christmas and I thought some bowls would be a nice accompaniment.

 It's nice to start the day with beauty, so I decided to serve my yogurt and blueberry breakfast in my new bowl.
 and my coffee in a cup with saucer
I try to be judicious in my purchases.....but my weakness for dish ware, while tamed due to lack of space, still gets occasionally indulged.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The companion ring

Last week I showed you this ring....I wanted to work with pearls and the platinum and brown pearl combination is so soft and dreamy. I love wearing the rings in pairs so it was time to make it's companion

This time I dusted the hand before taking the photo although I see I didn't go in for as tight a shot, I think it still shows up nicely.  I used light metallic gold crystals, platinum pearls and a sand opal across the top.  Sadly I think Sand Opal is one of the casualties slated to be dis-continued in the fall, I haven't been able to bear to look and confirm that.  I can also see that the pearls create a bit more of a gap when used not he side wall, especial the top row of the side wall, so that I can see the color of the dream peaking through.  I think this could be an interesting design feature.  I think I'd like to try this with the new neon pearls. I suspect I am going to have a Dream Keeper Vessel ring shopping spree at Bead and Button.  It's nice to have a shopping focus, keeps one from getting over whelmed.

My Bead and Button will be mellow this year, at least that is my current state of thinking.  I teach 4 days, down from last years 7 which is too many for me....and Liz will be there to help as always, which makes things easier.

I'll do my annual yarn shopping trip with a Milwaukee friend, this time accompanied by a German friend as well.  I'll have dinner with the German girls, dinner friends who I see every year, Pat, Tracy, Janice, Lisa, dinner with Debi from Beads of Colour and finally dinner with Judi Patuti who will be selling the thread catchers, bead mats and totes on the show floor.

At Meet the Teachers, I will have both Abrege and Aelia, kits new to this year, and many of the old favorites, crystal medallion bracelet, carousel, ringlets! and more.  Mark has been busy for weeks making inventory.  It's been fantastic to have his help while I work on the book.

I arrive early on Monday in time for an outing to the third ward where there is a shoe store and gallery I try never to miss and then a trip to the Public Market to stock up on fruit and protein for breakfasts and lunches.  On Sunday I'll be at the Toho booth in the morning and then will spend a leisurely afternoon of shopping, so come by and say hello if you're there.

Off to work on the book!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thanks to Liz

There is one more color way for Bead and Buttons Lilliana class.  Typically I make up each new design in three colors...the first is design mode, the second is fine tuning, and by the third I'm ready to write directions.

Since Liz has been in the classroom with me for the past six years, she always makes a sample using the directions.

It's a testament to her good will that she does this without altering the design when it is meant for a class sample.  It's truly against her nature, and her design alterations have always been brilliant, but it's hard to kit like that.

So because Liz actually followed the directions, I am able to bring you a lovely 4th color!  Thanks Liz

Friday, May 18, 2012

Craving Color?

In a post last week, I purported to be craving color and then I made this!  So apparently I am craving neutrals.  I got it in my head that I wanted to try the Dream Keeper with pearls and I'm pretty darn happy with the result.  I want to carve out a bit of time to make a companion in inverse neutrals.  I love wearing two of these stacked.

And then I have an idea to make a set of five, each one in black with a different bright, teal, fuchsia, lime, purple and ?  hmmm......and I'd like to try 3 mm squares across the top.  Of course that is going to require some stash enhancement I think.  Luckily I'll be traveling to Bead and Button in the next couple of weeks and I know just where to get a few matching squares, seeds and crystals.

Illustration beckons......time to settle in for a long session!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Playing with Peanuts

I've been playing with peanuts.  The one holed, two sided seed bead which provides a huge amount of texture.  It is a bit like doing cubic right angle weave in that you get two sides, lot's of texture, but is accomplished with only one thread path.

I think I want to continue to explore their possibilities.  Here a necklace which will provide a nice backdrop for a sparkly bezeled navette shaped rivoli.

And now.....back to the illustrations.  In my head I had three weeks left, the calendar suggests otherwise, two weeks until my next deadline.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Colors of Bead and Button - Crystal Collage

Aqua Gold
 Lavender Bronze
Green Amethyst

Teal Bronze

The colors of Bead and Button - The Rising Sun

Black Gold
 Silver Teal
 Orange Teal

The colors of Bead and Button - Dancing Light

Bronze Purple

Silver Mauve

The colors of Bead and Button - Lilliana

green aqua with gold
Bronze Fucshia

silver cyclamen opal

Keeping Dreams

A new Dream Keeper Vessel ring, fun bright colors for a colorful friend.

Sorry to be a bit of a tease, I know many people have written to me, wanting to a kit or a pattern. It's always a tough decision, the right time for releasing a design. I trust it would be popular, it is fun to make, they stack beautifully, it's a great design for color play and it's sparkly. Add to that the dream keeper component, writing your own dream to tuck inside and it's a pretty good project. But, I may decide to teach it again, I have at least one more venue coming up where it may make sense and I'm thinking of submitting it to Bead and Button next year. Which all means it may wait a while before being available as a kit.

Monday, May 14, 2012

With a little help from my friends

Yesterdays weather, despite starting out in the May Gray pattern of this time of year, turned into a gorgeous day of perfect sunny skies, mild mid seventy temperature, with a gentle breeze to keep things cool.

Waffles began the day with a visit from daughter Casey and boyfriend Brendan.  We then preceded to spend a lazy day, Mark playing music and me, well what else, beading on the veranda.

I have a  new Dream Keeper Vessel ring to show for my soon.

The outside dinner table was set.  We enjoyed bruschetta with the fragrant Picholine olive oil given to us by daughter Lucia.  Followed by artichokes fresh from Cynthia's garden.

And the table was set with colorful dinner napkins sewn by my friend  Susan.  So you see we had dinner with friends.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Remaining Open

Occasionally I will tell my husband that I am practicing being flexible and he ought to take advantage....yes sometimes I can be inflexible...he's always tolerated it well. Lately I have been practicing being open to new experiences. I find that I can sometimes stay small, not venturing out of my comfort zone, not opening myself up to new experiences. But as I age, I fight that urge and try to remain open. A couple of weeks ago, I met three former Facebook friends in person and it each experience was enriching.

So today when traveling down the coast I took the time to visit Cynthia Newcomer Daniel a Facebook friend whose beadwork I greatly admire. And again I was rewarded with a wonderful experience. Cynthia and husband Dan were lovely hosts, inviting us into their Paso Robles home and
walking us through their huge garden. Even sending us home with artichokes and serving fragrant sweet strawberries. I was also treated to a studio visit and the fondling of lots of Cynthia's beautiful beadwork. And in that spirit of staying open, I took a trip down memory lane with a visit to Kandra's bead shop in Solvang California. I taught at Kandra's shop many years ago and when I walked in and she recognized me, let's just say it was a magical moment for me. 

We connected deeply and I was so pleased to be there. We exchanged memories and new connections, me asking her about her friendship with Kerrie Slade an English beader whose work I adore. We also shared the sadness of Melanie Doerman's early death. She passed away this past week. I didn't know Melanie well but remember her sweetness at a Bead and Button Show meeting. I always admired her beadwork. It brought forward the fragility of life, and the fragility of love. I feel so for her husband whose loss must be deep.

Friday, May 11, 2012

That dream

Oddly I had THAT dream again last night, but with a different outcome. For many years I had a recurring dream which presented in some form of ascending too steeply, an escalator, a road, a set of stairs, but always too steep. Falling over backwards was inevitable and I always woke up before reaching the top. It isn't too hard to figure out that it had to do with not achieving dreams, or goals. So it wasn't surprising that when I left my corporate job in 2004 and arranged my life to be able to be with the beads full time, I stopped having the dream. And then last night....the dream. I have to say that even arranging ones life simply enough to be able to be a full time bead artist; even though beads are my passion; even though I set the tone of my own days, there is still work involved and at the moment it's hit rather a crescendo with book deadlines and Bead and Button coming together. However the dream was different. I was on a bus with others, unusual, first we drove down a steep windy road with huge ruts and narrow passages and then we drove up. And it became steeper and steeper. I closed my eyes, I relaxed, I was scared yet peaceful and the bus made it to the top! I have about 3 weeks to accomplish a lot, but I know I will!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


On my current book I took guidance from Rachel's Bead Riffs and decided to work within a subset of colors. for the most part rich dark blues and silvers, Bronzes with accents of blacks and teals and the occasional matte lavender and a classic bronze, black and olivine. I like it because the body of work all works together. Earrings coordinate with pendants and bracelets pick up the colors so many of the pieces look good together.

I've also been careful to work with beads that should be easy to acquire and will plan to make kits for those who don't want to face the challenge of assembling materials.
This all brings me to the title color.....maybe it's because I've been working in a narrow palette maybe it's because it's springtime, maybe it's my friendship with English beader Sian Nolan, but I'm craving bright color....

Sian's Takara bangles in the middle call for an armful of bright color. Sian and I became introduced when she beaded Disco Squares, is it any wonder she was attracted to this piece?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Photoshop touch

Since I first saw photoshop Touch for the iPad I wanted it. Like most programs though it can be made to look really easy, but there is still learning curve and one I've not quite wrapped my brain around.

But I did take the red eye out of this photo

And added the highlights back in and cropped out the background. It helps to have such an adorable subject!

One of the hardest projects to illustrate done yesterday. Just so you know I'm working between cute baby interludes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Man Alive

Not sure what that means exactly but it is one of my husband's mid Western expressions that I find endearing. Usually said with exasperation at the difficulty of a task. Which would certainly be the case for me today. Yesterday consisted of spending the day with an adorable 14 month old. Today we are staying at a friends home in Saratoga while they are traveling. I brought along the IMAC, and the drawing tablet in preparation for spending days illustrating. And I am. But the tablet was rendered useless by forgetting to bring along the tablet pen. However beads can still be drawn and I'll 'pencil' in the thread path when I get home. But back to Man Alive.....this maybe the hardest bit of bead work to draw, the gradual curve and turned corner that I use to make triangles and ellipses.
I really like triangles and ellipses and the actual beading is done at right angles which of course would be easy to draw, but due to the properties of right angle weave, and the size of beads I've used what you really get is a curve. The inside edge beads scootch and the outside edge beads spread apart and a true rotation won't need to manually drag beads around and rotate them until you achieve the right angles. Not easy stuff. I think a lunch break is in order!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Grandma time

We cooked eggs together, sang zippity doo Dah, looked at pictures on the iPad, kissed the dog, had a nap, took a walk, made some lunch.....

Is it time for MaMa to come home yet?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Design Mode

Or how much can I procrastinate?  We took Stephney to a meal at the Fish Market where she had a bowl of New England Clam chowder which reminded her of the chowders to be had on the West Coast of Ireland, but better.  Then it was off to the train station for a ride up to LAX where she'd be winging her way back to England.

And then it was supposed to be illustration time....but I thought that having been traveling for two weeks, I should perhaps just have a slow afternoon, with the huge push starting this morning, which it will any minute now, after I write this blog and shower and....I think my nails need polishing.

My slow afternoon consisted of a few pretty beads and some cubic raw and this shape emerged.
 I don't know yet how it will work into a cohesive design but for the moment I am just loving the colors, the shape, the texture.  I want to coax it into it's final form, but that really must be for another day, or perhaps with good progress on the day,  it will be tonight's reward. It was originally a triangle until I pinched it together. The crystally bottom turned the corner of the triangle and worked well but with the pinched version I would probably only have one cube of crystals and not the three you see here. I don't know how after 20 years of beading I don't see these things coming, I think I should, but of course there wasn't a plan, just the needle, thread and beads which took me on this journey. When I turned the first corner, the bottom gold beads were going to be round forming a half circle and perhaps being the top from which a bail would hang. As I approached the mid point, I thought let's turn one more corner and the triangle emerged, and then with the triangle complete I pinched the center which rounded up the top and created this pleasing shape (but with too many crystals on the bottom, who knew, and me saying too many crystals is not a frequent occurrence!) I also think that it needs to be bigger if it is to coordinate with a bezeled drusy which is currently the rest of the plan. And so the design process goes, and now a shower and the beginning of the big book push.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A bit of nostalgia

Or just when I thought de-cluttering was in order, I found this!

and was very clear that it had to come home with me. I don't really know the attraction. Memories of simpler time, a connection to Mom who trained to be a secretary and was always proud of her typing, the warm color that works so well in my studio? I didn't really need something to take up more counter top space.....I put a few other trinkets away, cleared a space and set up my Smith Corona. It works, although I'm not sure how productive it would be. It has a case, a lock and key and the original ten day typing lesson book. How many of us learned to type on one of these?

Later today my guest leaves which will signal the beginning of frenetic illustration and direction writing period. I need to be 100% focused, maybe 120%....I'll visit you briefly in the morning, after which I will work all day every day until it's done. I'll build in the brief bits of time to recharge, sip tea on the veranda or FaceTime with a special baby, but other then that, I'll be right here in front of the computer! The deadline looms and I intend to be on time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lilliana, travel, home

Lot's of plane travel presented enough beading opportunity to complete a 4th Lilliana. Liz completed number three in golds and fuchsias. This one is my new favorite silvery grey bead, 318T for the curious, paired with the matte lavender F463L and accented with cyclamen opal ab 2 mm crystals and light grey opal loch rosen. It's soft and feminine which I think is a nice choice for the summer in Milwaukee. The piece incorporates some cubic raw and the dainty St. Petersburg chain. This beady content is for Ellen, a blog reader who I met for the first time in New Jersey this weekend. Although she professed to have a weakness for pictures of Maya she also requested more beady content.

Next up is a photo of Sandy's Dancing Light in which she chose to add vintage army men in between the crystally, lacy components of Dancing Light. We posed her vintage army figures on the focal leaf that she added to the piece. The colors work perfectly and it was decided she needed a peach tee shirt and camouflage pants to coordinate with her necklace.

We flew into Philadelphia Friday night, and then I taught both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday night I met Holly, who jumped into a Facebook dialog when she realized I would be near where she lived and offered to take me to dinner on Saturday night. Her and husband Gene were delightful and we had an evening full of excited beady talk. Then on Sunday night Amy, who had coordinated my classes and who has been a long time Facebook friend, took us for a visit to her store, the Bead and Glass Boutique, in Pitman New Jersey. It was a large, light filled space, with a huge classroom, painted in a soft dark lavender that was the perfect backdrop for the large selection of beads she stocks. We followed that up with a visit to the Tap room before driving back to our hotel and getting ready for the Monday, crack of dawn flight home.

Once home we met up with Stephney who is visiting from England for a couple of days at the end of her family visit. She visited first in October with friend Rachel, and I will visit them in fall of 2013. And once again I marvel at the connections that get made in this community of people who bead!