Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beads still surprise me

I've been beading for 22 years now,  that is a pretty long time, and I can still be surprised, well I guess I hope I'll always be surprised by the beads.

But this week I was caught off guard when I failed to see that I must have been subliminally influenced by the chair upholstery.  There is really no other explanation, since I picked a soft matte brown bead, highlighted by a pale seafoam and a chrysolite opal crystal.  You would think I had set out to use the palette from my new chair, but not only did I not, I didn't even notice the resemblance until the piece was complete and laying around for a few days on the table next to the chair.  I dropped it, and when I picked it up I laid it on the arm of the chair......Really there is no mistaking the influence.

The next thing that surprised me this week, and really this is going to sound stupid;  It takes a really long time to bead.  After twenty or so years you would think I would have an appreciation for the time it takes, but I still go merrily about the studio pulling palettes for the 5 or 6 pieces I'd like to bead today. And what did I really accomplish, about 2/3 of a spiral chain with a size 11 core, alternating between pearls and 2 mm crystals on the outside.  It's really pretty, but the repetition was getting to me, so I switched to a pair of cubic raw earrings to wear with the pendant that goes with the spiral.  I go about 2/3 of one earring done....Today I hope to finish the first earring, a second and the spiral chain.  That's doable right?

In my defense, beading time fits into the cracks of my life for the most part.  I do a lot whenever we travel, in the hour or two before an outing, on planes and trains (never in automobiles, I get carsick) In the evening while listening to a book or watching mindless tv (I'm not proud, but sometimes mindless tv is just right)  Because of this bead here, bead there schedule I don't really notice the time it takes, things just get done.  It's only when I set out to do a marathon beading session that I notice how little I can accomplish in what seems like a lot of time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alpine's day out

Today I beaded with a lovely group of ladies, whose talent, generosity and spirit I've become fond of.  I took Alpine with me....and took some iphone photos...but as with all things technical in nature, well maybe not all things, but I find photo stream, the apple application that in theory takes photos from any of my three apple devices and ports them wirelessly to the other two...well sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Update....the photos have now presented themselves in photo stream, so here you have Alpine, overlooking the view from Sylvia's back yard.

I must admit this was a risky move,....I did have visions of what would happen if I actually dropped it in the water....fortunately I did not have to experience that!

So I don't have the rather excellent photo of Alpine, perched on Sylvias fountain, overlooking the ocean, to show you.  But I will as soon as photo stream decides to cooperate.

My other big adventure was an outing to Weeds, my favorite clothing store in Solano Beach California.
They have eclectic taste in clothing, just the way I like it.  They routinely carry one of my favorite designers, Cynthia Ashby.
 Her clothing is funky but fashionable as a friend always describes my taste in clothes.  Her sizes are generous but not overwhelming, hiding a multitude of sins with over dyed linens and wonderful shapes.  My 'travel test' is to take a handful of fabric and scrunch it up with my fist.  If it unfolds unharmed, it's good, and this was.  The color is dark teal (shown here from her site in purple), the neckline is jewelry friendly and the sleeves are the perfect length.  A perfect bead teaching outfit!

Bead Origami

Cindy Holsclaw is the designer behind bead origami.  She specializes in Beaded Beads and makes them into beautiful jewelry.  I love the bright colors in this Tila Garden Pendant.

And what I can tell you is that girl makes a really really pretty illustration and turns them into clear concise and pretty directions.

I first met Cindy a couple of years ago at a Northern Bead Society meeting, and she has now moved to San Diego!

She has been following my Illustrator learning curve and graciously gave up a day of her time to tutor me on a few fine points that  had escaped me.  We worked side by side, Cindy on her computer and me on mine and I was able to absorb a lot of new information and ways of doing things that I didn't know previously, so it was a day well spent.

Her schedule includes classes at this years BABE show in Oakland California the first weekend in November, so if you have a yen for some beaded beads, there is your chance.

Friends Tracy Stanley, and Janice Berkebile will also be teaching and Susan, my Beading by the Bay partner will be a vendor.  I so wish I were going.

I now want to go back and redo all my directions....of course I won't, but I am kind of in awe of how clear, concise and beautiful Cindy's are, so I have some improving to do.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Bracelets

What a fantastic weekend I had, teaching at Creative Castle, visiting with my second favorite dog ever! having dinner with Carole and Roger, train travel and a relaxing afternoon of beading, loved all of it.

I was fortunate to receive my fourth! Traveling bracelet, Alpine from Beth in Texas.  Beth also included a note and wonderful fabric sugar skull pin with my package.  What a nice treat.

The bracelet was posed with many, including with Bailey, can you stand how cute he is?

and the perpetually youthful Carole, owner of Creative Castle, doing the pose, though she hardly needs it.

Today I am working on finishing up a crystal embellished triangle for the Geometrics book.  (You didn't think I could do it without crystal did you?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SES Update

I've been spared from Single Earring Syndrome, I finished a second.  Even though I feel that I could tweak the design a bit, I made the second one to match and it may be my new favorite pair!  But new ones are always like that.

There was a day I never made earrings and now it is one of my favorite things to make, and wear of course!  I never leave home without my earrings in, yes even to the gym, but I have a few more subdued pairs for the gym, these might be out of place.  

I'll have to show you a new close up of them when I have more time....they are really sparkly with those little 2 mm Swarovski Elements crystals at ever intersection, front and back.  They need an evening out on the town, and fortunately we have one planned, well dinner out at least.  Mark is going to come join me for one night and we're going out to one of our favorite restaurants, and I have the perfect pair of earrings to wear!

In the background a sort of clean studio and my luggage ready for the trip, and I'm off!

Playing with Possibilities

Funny, when I first developed the concept of my Bead and Button master class, naming it seemed like the hardest thing, but I think Playing with Possibilities is the perfect name.

I suspect I've told you about it before, but I, I mean we, have begun the work of creating the 'playground' of components, and so it is quite exciting.

The concept of the class is component design, and there will be many examples of five different components that the participants will get to arrange and re-arrange to envision their design.  Cameras will capture various ideas and when a design is decided on it will be printed out and the beading will begin.  The playground is there to help the design process but in the end everyone will bead their own components.  All good in theory right?  But with 22 students, there will need to be  enough pieces for everyone to work with.

So three groups of women around the country are helping to bead.  I've chosen a neutral palette so as not to interfere with the design process, and I've documented the five components and sent beads off to the various groups.

One of the three groups is local and yesterday we met in my studio and produced a large assortment of the Romantica medallion.

I must say they look darn pretty all gathering in together, each one uniquely beautiful.  I can' wait to photo some 'possibilities' but I think the real magic will be when all five components are available and can be brought together.  I see some incredible design opportunities.  

And now I'm off to teach the weekend at Creative Castle, North of Los Angeles.  I'm taking the train!  and I'm going to bead.....I'm still working on my piece for the Geometrics book, but I have a vision and I think it's working.

Monday, September 17, 2012

on Friendship

I have to say that I am beyond lucky that in my beady travel I have the great pleasure of meeting...surprise...other beaders!  And so it was that I met my friend Gabriella a few years back in Atlanta.

I suspect I may have told you the story at the time.  Gabriella is Dutch and so I had a chance to use my very rusty Nederlands Talle, or Dutch language skills.  I lived in Holland for een jaar ending in 2004.  Returning from Holland and ending my corporate career I began teaching beadwork, I had travel opportunities which have been fantastic.

Gabriella and I managed to stay in touch and I am happy to call her a dear friend.  We've beaded together often and she has been instrumental in helping me on this last book, Beads in Motion.

Image by Kate McKinnon Beadwork by Gabriella van Diepen
You may also be familiar with her if you are following Kate and Jean's Geometrics book.  Not only has Gabriella presented an exquisite body of work for the Geometrics book, but she was the model who Kyle shot beautiful photos of in the Tucson desert, holding out the stunning beadwork.

I write this because I don't want you to miss out on Gabriella's blog.  She is quite an accomplished artist and has recently blogged about the journey she made creating a beautiful art mask.

You will want to read that, but beyond that you will want to keep checking in because the blog is co written by husband Jeroen (thus the Gabroen) and provides a wonderful insight into  American living by a Dutch national.  I always enjoy his posts from his unique vantage point.

So have a read, I suspect you will enjoy it.  And while you're at it, leave a comment for bloggers like to know some one's reading!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Traveling Bracelet - the Quest

I've made a quest to visit with each of the  Traveling Bracelets, sent out into the world by Sig Wynne Evans.

If you have one you'd like to send me, I'd love to have it, unless I already have had it in which case please send it on to someone new.

Click on the link below the photo to read the stories of their travels!

Update!  I did indeed receive a bracelet for my 60th birthday, in fact one that Sig made especially with me in mind, the Golden Gate Bridge.  Since travel is a bit of a theme for the bracelets, it seemed fitting as Sig and I first met in California, and I did leave my heart in San Francisco!

After the bracelet and I cavorted through my birthday celebrations it joined me for a trip to Georgia and the Southern Bead Retreat where I handed it off to Karen!

Alpine September 2012

San Francisco October 2012
Ganesha September 2012

Carribbean September 2012

SES, Single Earring Syndrome

If you knit you've certainly heard of Single Sock Syndrome, but I think the term applies to anything that comes in pairs, especially if you are working with a short attention span.

It may be that cubic raw and I will get along beautifully for the next several years.  I am completely enamored with the stitch and it's possibilities.  This started out to be a zig zag, but I am quickly realizing I am not a straight line kind of gal, I like the gentleness of curves and not the hard edges of straight lines.  I tried, really, this was all angles when I started, but the flexibility of CRAW cries out for me to bend it, every time....

But back to SES....I like this one ok, but as is so often the case, I see the error of my ways once something is completely beaded.  I do make design decisions along the way and sometimes they work out, but more often then not, I finish and then I see where I should have gone.

What I see here is that the crystals at the top and bottom of the ellipse need to be brighter, and they will be on the next one.  The ellipse needs to be longer and the circle at the top needs to be smaller.  Which will be a feat since the circle was done in size 15 cubic raw, one color, making the join a little hard to see....

I also see that cubic raw and crystals were meant to go together, this is the perfect place for those amazing 2mm Swarovski Elements.  It is sadly true that we lost a few colors this past year in the 2's, but enough remain that I will continue to use them to compliment my seed bead work.  They are small and subtle, but the way they catch the light when woven into the fabric of a piece works beautifully. The light metallic gold 3 mm's are one of my favorite colors, but I think next time I am going to opt for something bright, perhaps the new light turquoise would work nicely.  I have some on the way, due to arrive any day and I can't wait to incorporate them into something new and shiny!

So it may be this one remains single as I move on to explore a new shape and color!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My second ever bead store

Creative Castle in Newbury Park California was the second bead store I ever taught at.  At the helm, lovely Carole Tripp who I've know known going on 13 years.

Carole's store has a wonderful selection of crystal, seed beads, czech glass, vintage beads and findings and is full of helpful folks to answer your questions.  I say this because more and more bead stores are finding it difficult to stay in business.  My good friend Susan closed her store the Beading Frenzy after 17 years.  The stores that remain need our support.

I sometimes hear beaders talking about sources where they might get beads less expensively priced, however consider the valuable service that our local bead stores provide.  We can look at color and size, make design decisions with beads laid out side by side, we can consult with a knowledgeable beader and in some we can take classes, expanding our skills while socializing with others, who like us have the love of beads.  That is a whole lot of positive and in my book is worth giving up any small price advantage to make sure it continues to exist.

Next week I will be teaching the Dream Keeper Vessel Ring, the brand new Cassandra and the beautiful Aelia pendant.  I'm excited, not only because I have so many friends at the store, and there is the darling Bailey, my second favorite dog in the world, but because I'm going to take the train!  I love train travel and it's a pretty rare day that it fits into my schedule and is available in the direction I'm going.  I love the rhythm of a train, watching the scenery go by,  relaxing into travel instead of racing through LA traffic.



Dream Keeper Vessel Ring

So please, if you are lucky enough to have a local bead store in your midst, please consider supporting them. It would be a terrible shame if we couldn't continue to spend a leisurely day playing with the beads or run over for that special bead we need to finish a project, or take a class and visit with friends.

Monday, September 10, 2012


It was Mark's 64th birthday and for months I have been keeping the secret that kids and grandkids would all be joining us.  Keeping secrets for me is really hard work, not because I want to tell, but because I forget and am very apt to give it away.  I almost did several times but always recovered.....

and in the end, he was very very surprised.  I told him of an outing I had Saturday morning to visit friends, but assured him I'd be back to have lunch with him (it would have been very anti climatic if he decided to go out!)  We had all these elaborate plans for saying surprise, but I forgot the Maya was going to announce any visitors to the back veranda.....So as they all snuck up and Maya was making a ruckus Mark came to find out what all the fuss was about, and of course we all yelled surprise!  It took him a few minutes to regain his composure, he was so stunned.

It's rare when we can all get we spent a fun weekend barbecuing, playing in the pool, hot tub, visiting the zoo, and playing Sam's all time favorite Rummy-O.  A friend gifted us the set years ago and Sam's visits are never complete without multiple games of Rummy-O.

The traveling bracelet went along, so here a few photos ....  Showing the beautiful Carribean fish!

and the turtle, in front of the turtle exhibit at the zoo, how fitting!

And here playing with beads in Grandmas studio!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Birthday weekend!

First off, for you who were reading yesterdays post....I added the wrong link to the traveling bracelets, apparently I am no longer as good at multi tasking as I used to be!  I was researching car seat rentals and accidentally pasted the wrong link...all fixed now, thank you for pointing it out, it was not an attempt at weird spam, just a lapse in paying attention.

And just to make you really crazy on the same post I didn't notice that the odd angle of the arm holding Emily Rose, the cute little Pomeranian modeling Ganesha, gave the appearance of a headless person.  I was so focused on her cute little as not to freak you out, I've removed the photo and will pay better attention to her surrounding next time!

So with that behind us....

For Ellen who likes posts about beads, here is a photo of Two by  Two, a bracelet I did which will be in the Kalmbach book which is a publication of work by the Create Your Style Swarovski Amabassdors.

and now, the Birthday weekend....It is Mark's 64th, which of course brings to mind 'Will you still love me when I'm 64?' and the answer is yes!  We're going to have an amazingly fun weekend which I'll tell you all about next week!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ganesha's last day

The second of the traveling bracelets to have come my way spent a lot of time at home in my studio....but yesterday we went on an outing.  To bead with friends for a few hours, at a lovely ocean view home on the coast.

 Hanging out on the gorgeous rubber vine

Enjoying an ocean view and breeze

 and adorning the decor

and serene among the beach rocks and shells

It was a most needed day of friendship and beads.  I love taking the opportunity to bead with others, and am appreciative of having found this group of talented beaders who have welcomed me into their midst.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bead Soup

After years of observation, it has come to my attention that most beaders do not prefer this method of beading.  This is interesting to me, because the beads speak to me so much more clearly when they play together like this.  I see color combinations I might not have thought of, I'm am visually pleased as I work.  I love these little palettes laying about the studio.

Back in my freeform days I always mixed the beads which I thought had many advantages, portability being one of them.  I could put all of the beads in one container, rather then stopping to put them all back in their own little correct container.

The other bonus of working from this pile is that I have a built in 'repair kit' when I'm done.  I just spoon the remainder of the palette in a baggie and toss it in the drawer.  If I ever do have a failure it would likely be years from now, when I'd have no idea how to find the correct bead.

I've come to realize I'm in the minority, but old habits are hard to break....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A few of my favorite things - Swarovski Elements

It's probably no secret that I like my jewelry sparkly.  A quick look of my supply lists suggest a minimum of a gross of crystal in most Spirit Flight and Pacific Morning Glory

and lately I'm quite enamored with the Swarovski in Cassandra

so today is an exciting day, Swarovski Elements has unveiled their fall 2013/2014 Innovations, and there are some stellar new colors and shapes!

I'm in love with the light turquoise and the Crystal Blue Shade, and in pearls the Crystal Grey is going to pair nicely in many of my pieces.

And the new shapes are brilliant as well, the leaf and the victory pendants and....well go have a look, it's all there on the Create Your Style Site.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ganesha's travels

Or lack there of.  Seems that I am hunkered down inside these days.  We did go for a short ocean walk yesterday morning, but between workload and weather   (heat and humidity that we're not used to) we've been staying in.

I'm using the new bead chair daily and have almost finished a second Vienna.  I try to always make a second before sending a first one off for a sample.  Even with the best notes and photos, it's easy to miss a step if you don't have a sample in hand.

I've also started a  Helix bangle from the special pre-order pages of the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork book.   

From the Facebook page, it is described as

An exciting new book in process by Kate McKinnon and Jean Power, with Christina Vandervlist, Dustin Wedekind and Gabriella van Diepen. The theme of the book is geometric form, and even advanced beaders will find new ideas and inspiration.

 Pre-order your copy and you will be able to access all the fabulous patterns being shared. You might also consider liking the face book page where you will see stunning photos of pieces being made by tall the pre-order folks!

But back to Ganesha, my second in the Traveling Bracelets series, hanging out in the studio.

Also completed in my stay at home marathon beading sessions are ten beaded beads for a beaded bead swap I joined last year in a burst of enthusiasm.  I must say it did end up being fun, and I shipped them off yesterday for their travels to England to be matched up with their owners.  I will in return receive ten beaded beads, in my personally chosen color theme.  It will be my task to make my beads into a cohesive necklace and present photos by sometime in February.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The great outdoor camping adventure

Those who know me really well probably just spit out their coffee, or at least are thinking they've stumbled onto the wrong blog......I don't actually camp, but hey this was close.

The evening was very hot, there was a blue moon (second full moon in one month) and I hadn't yet put the sheets on our bed....

What better time to camp on the roof deck.  This house has a large roof deck.  The downstairs having 7 rooms and 2 baths and the upstairs having only 2 rooms and 1 bath, the rest of the space is an outdoor roof, surrounded on all sides by 3 1/2 foot walls and the art deco signature style short railing.

When we moved in we had dreams of making it a space to lounge and watch sunsets, but with a few other things on the list that took priority, well we haven't.  A couple of years back we did have to replace the roof which on a flat roof is quite important to the absence of leaks, but not necessarily pretty.  And the paint job of the previous owners was poorly done and shows most on the interior walls of the roof deck, but it's still a good spot for sleeping under the stars.

Fist we laid a canvas tarp, then the air bed, clean sheets and a duvet, 4 big comfy pillows to lean against, two nightstands, a lamp, a bottle of wine on ice, a candle, a bed for Maya,  an iPad, and our 'camp' was complete.

We listened to the Mocking Jay, third in the trilogy of the  Hunger Game series.  The moon rose and was beautiful, the stars came out and sparkled and I drifted off to sleep.

During the night I woke several times and wished I could turn out the light, it was very bright.  The covers became damp, but under them was still warm and cozy with a gentle cool breeze that we wouldn't have felt indoors.

It was a lovely evening, but I don't think I will be going camping anytime soon!