Monday, April 22, 2013

I love beaded rings

Rings and Earrings are some of my favorite things to design, they are bright pops of color, and quick to make, well relatively.
A couple of hours of stitching, and a great place to experiment with color.

A few more hours and a whimsical ring

Next up the same ring, but too match the earrings.
This weeks focus is my master class presentation.
Next week I'm off to New Hampshire to teach at Bead Creative a Facebook friend in person for the first time. Someone who has been a dear Facebook friend for a long time, How exciting is that?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A bead immersed weeked

I am rarely home for the San Diego Bead Society meeting but today I was and it yielded so many excellent moments.

Barbara let me know that Joan, who works for Dallas and is helping with the Alaskan cruise is a dear friend of hers.

I met Tamara, new member of the bead society and bead enthusiast. I met her through Pat, a fellow Swarovski ambassador. Tamara is also a felter, lived in Holland and owns an airstream. We may have a bit in common....It was delightful to meet her.

Cindy Holsclaw of Bead Origami, did an excellent presentation of math and science inspired beadwork. She did such a good job!

And Florence spent the night. Florence first came to my attention in the early 2000 time frame as half of the Bead Infinitum team who were math immersed beaders. I met Florence at a class at Creative Castle and later met her bead partner Gwen at Bead and Button. Florence had a San Diego math conference and so a night in Lemon Grove at our home fit into her plans.

Tomorrow Cindy gives a class on her Tila bead in my home studio.

So you see a bead immersed weekend.

Tonight however we christen the airstream, sleeping in it for the first time!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Master Class Booklets

I got it in my head to make the master class component directions booklet style, so all the directions would be together in one place and also fit into the box I have planned for the kits.

Which is why being a bead weaver for a living is never just about the beads.  I hadn't done a booklet before and there are many different ways to do it.

A number of folks answered my plea for knowledge on facebook and as with many things there were several different approaches I could take.  This is good and bad, as what I find is that you start down a path with what appears like a good approach, only to find it's pitfalls fairly far down the road of time wasted (or ways not to do it).

Kyle suggested taking my individual files and making a book out of them...which probably would have been a great idea, had I understood facing pages when I did it.  I abandoned that idea and moved onto
a video which Susan suggested.  This InDesigner laid out the file in booklet format.  I thought this might be a good approach to control the font size and I fully embraced it.

My settings didn't match his settings when it came to printing and so with much more trial and error I finally printed a booklet with the cover where it was supposed to be, which read correctly front to back when folded in half.  Well to be more accurate it did this intermittently.  I would make a small change, re-export it to adobe pdf, print and no....pages were facing opposite one another.  Next pass it worked.

I still have no idea as it would appear that I did not change any parameters.

My point, is at the moment I am feeling very weary of new learning curves and I would like to go play with beads, or take my new car for a long spin.

But I won't, I will go purchase a long arm stapler so I can staple my pretty booklets and then move onto  preparing the kits.

I'm not a graphic artist in any sense of the word, but I am rather fond of my booklets cover.

I am not complaining, although it may appear that way, I like the process of making sure I have a nice result, even if I can be temporarily frustrated by it.  This is just what is required when you want to make sure 32 students have a really good experience in the Playing with Possibilities Master Class.

Monday, April 15, 2013

We're having a sale!

MadDesigns first ever Spring sale on selected kits!

Hint, the kits with red titles are on sale.  In general they are all at least 20% off.  The kit page and your shopping cart will reflect the new price.

Click here to shop the sale.

Note that some kits are very limited in stock so order early if there is something you really want.  We will do our very best to list them as out of stock as soon as that occurs.  

A few of these kits could disappear forever as we make room for new inventory.  

I have some exciting new designs that I will be adding over the course of the summer!

when I am not beading

I am knitting....
a recent yarn room search for a certain needle size, turned up this forgotten purse form my knitted felt days. This one is also bead embellished and I'm loving the colors.

I'm also working on a simple garter stitched, bright pink mohair scarf.

And a lace fichu, this one knitted by Susan of the Grove out of linen cashmere.

And a baby dress and....,well you get the picture
the beads are waiting patiently for their turn.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Have beads will travel

At least that's our plan.  For a few years now we've been talking about what is next for us.  We left corporate jobs and moved to San Diego in 2004, initially into a downtown condo.  I found I didn't like being in the midst of a noisy city and liked the lack room even less.  So we bought a house, outfitted a studio and got on with the business of MADDesigns.

I've taught, and sold kits and written books and Mark has patiently waited for more travel.  Grand babies arrived and our Northern California roots is where much of the family still lives.

For many years we had a sailboat docked beneath the bay bridge which provided a weekend home in San Francisco.  But boats are hard work and expensive and are not particularly portable.  For this non sailor trips up and down the coast were not really what I had in mind.  The boat was sold and we continued to contemplate.

Tiny house listings always caught my attention.  How fun would it be to personalize a tiny space and take it on the road.  For the time being at least, we'll come home to the house and studio between trips and MADDesigns will continue to function, although we may see a few changes along the way.  It might be time for a smaller subset of finished kits and a long awaited transition to the tutorial only business model.  We are still sorting that out as we contemplate what life will look like now that we own an airstream travel trailer!

This one is apparently on the property of Ralph Lauren, according to this blog on Glamping where you find a great many visuals of beautifully furnished airstreams.

As you might imagine I am looking forward to personalizing ours, however Mark will most like stop me short of being able to do this! Found on Pinterest, which is proving to be a great resource for my dreams!  

We are looking forward to learning the ways of the road, finding places to stay, visiting with family and friends in our favorite Santa Cruz.  And of course there will be beads and yarn involved!

Friday, April 12, 2013


I love this piece....I already have beaded two and have plans for several more.  It's a simple bead and a ring that makes a statement.

Yesterdays car salesman asked me if I attracted humming birds with it!

For all you neat and observant beaders, this is a modest mess on my bead board.  Although you can see pearls which are indeed left over from a previous project.  I sort of pushed them to the side rather then put them away.  

Given the angle you may not see that it stands up about 1/2 inch off the surface of the band.  It would be a great place for some additional embellishment.  Loch Rosen come to mind, but they don't come in gold araum 2x, or at least I don't have any.  But if you look real close there are 2 mm gold aurum 2x in between the spines.    

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fanfare gets a makeover

In the words of Maya Angelou, 'when you know better you do better' which I think she meant to relate to life choices and not beadwork, but it fits.

Fanfare was designed for Beaded Opulence in 2007.  It is a circle of graduated size beadwork, folded in half and joined at the top.  It takes 14 gross of crystal, not for the faint of heart, but the result really is beautiful.

My friend Pat made an improvement, she put a size 11 between each crystal on the top edge, and it really made a big difference.  I've been wanting to try it, and finally I decided now was the time.  This beautiful cuff in crystal comet argent light 2X was beaded for me by another friend MaryAnn.  I loved it, but wondered how Pat's improvement might bring even more life to it.

I cut the fans apart and got busy adding a size 15 gold bead between each gold crystal.

I'm just about done and then I get to string them back up and wear it!  I think the touch of gold on the top edge is going to improve it's wearability a lot.  Crystal Cal 2x can be a bit harsh on it's own and 14 gross is a lot of crystal cal 2x.

I think this project has stood the test of time as I still love it.  Thanks to Pat for the idea, I'll be wearing mine at Bead and Button!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork

My copy came a few weeks back in the midst of some really busy days, so I paged through, admired the layout, the photos, the beautiful work and the way the red spiral binding allowed me lay the book open to any page and leave it there....and then I put it on the shelf.

Well times are a little tad bit less busy and I was curious to dive in a bit more.  I feel connected to this work having been at the Atomic Ranch when the seeds of the idea were taking hold.  It was thrilling to be a part of that, to spend time with Kate and Dustin and Jean and Teresa and Gabriella and Jeroen and Ellen.

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork

So what strikes me now as I read through the book?  The photography is still stunning, a combination of Kyle Cassidy and Kate McKinnon.  How could it not be with the care and attention to detail.  The desert shots of Gabriella in the red ball gown wearing the incredible jewelry that has come from the geometrics are incredibly beautiful. The work itself, from all corners of the globe is fresh, innovative, colorful and inspiring.  And there is even a crystal or two, thank you AJ Reardon and Jeannette Cook.

What else?  The words.....the words are really good.  Beyond the names which invoke the fancifulness of the pieces, Horned Wings, Zigged Parrot Tulips, Fortune Teller Bangles, there are the descriptions 'The turquoise tips on each Horn slay us with their beady perfection'.

Then there is the humor.  Each time you read a chapter you find some hidden gems 'If we tell you to "Needle Up", then we are probably inviting you to either a bead party or to go to acupuncture with.  Either way, say yes!'

Descriptions in the Tips & Terminology chapter are not only descriptive, but visually descriptive as in Toothrow, 'any row or round of beadwork that presents in little teeth, waiting to hook on to some thing.'

Beaders have clearly been inspired by the concepts in this book as evidenced by the body of work that is presented here.  Also obvious is they've been given the techniques in a way that is easy to grasp, and in a way that fosters one's own creativity. What will it inspire you to create?  Should you not already own a copy, or you want to read more about Volume II click here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I remember them in the 70's, often in globes with macrame around them.  At the time I had loads of houseplants, many with macrame hangers, but I don't think I had an actual terrarium.

However they seem to be back in vogue, and with the help of a friend and a local store, it seems I've been infected with the desire to make terrariums.

So far I've made two of the sand and airplant variety, but after yesterdays session I stopped at Home Goods for a tall vase which I will use for a 'forest' terrarium, with black river rock and a piece of dried cactus that I brought home from our sea of cortez trip.

Here is Gail reaching into her large globe which she planted in the forest style, dirt vs sand, and green plants with roots.

 I started my smaller, side opened globe with white sand topped with the teal and lime

Added some plastic baubles, some crystals, aqua rock, rivolis and a couple of air plants

 Here is Jeffrey's, also Forest style

 with a piece of pyrite for just a touch of natural sparkle

 Here is Jeffrey contemplating his next addition

 and here are the three girls in Gail's delightful studio

It was a wonderful day and was very nice to step away from the beads even if I did add a few to my terrarium.

This is my minimalist small terrarium.

I look forward to making more!