Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stepping Out!

I'm working on the material I will cover in my second Interweave video.  The first on Right Angle Weave also covered the fundamentals of Cubic Right  Angle Weave.  You can purchase the dvd or a digital download which is very competitively priced.

This one will cover a really broad range of Cubic Right Angle weave techniques, including shapes with  turning corners, shapes with curves, embellishments and a foray into prismatic right angle weave, which is basically the same thread path but with a different number of beads then the four which make up a cube.

So what do step outs entail?  Think of it like the cooking show where all the prep work is done on camera and then the completed recipe is taken out of the oven…..only more work!

For each technique shown, I need to make three to four samples that show different bits of the process including the finished one.  For example, I will show how to start the first cube for a square, then pick up the prepped piece where I turn the first corner, then pick up the piece where I have turned the 4th corner so that I can show the join.  All this so you don't have to sit and watch me build the 15 cubes it would take for me to show you the entire process.  And that is just one square.

I am not in anyway shape or form complaining. I actually love the process of thinking through how to effectively share the most important on camera steps to lead one along in learning the skills.

I have an outline, well four as the information will be presented in different videos and chapters within the videos and steps within the chapters.  So each set of step outs gets a bobbin and a step number, and then it goes in a small bag with other step outs from that chapter and then the chapters go into a big bag for the that video.

On an unrelated note, isn't this a pretty site, ancient bells that were mostly packaged up yesterday.  Psst….there are four aqua gold ones left….


It is a rather graceful design.  I have an idea for some different tips and may re-release this with the variation as time allows, but for now there are these four and no more.

Two more days of step outs and then I turn my attention to some last minute details for Beading by the Bay, on to Tucson and then off to Colorado to film the video.  It will likely be ready sometime in April, so if you've been wanting to learn or expand on your CRAW knowledge this might be just the right video for you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

David Chatt

Seventeen years ago I took a two day David Chatt class and you may notice that right angle weave became a go to stitch for me.  There are so many reasons, but design versatility was as big one.  I know other artists who 'think' in peyote or ndebele or….any number of other stitches, but for me if I can envision it, I can usually sort out how I would approach it in right angle weave and more recently in cubic right angle weave.

Last weekend and this, I had the opportunity to take my second David Chatt class.  It is amazing what seventeen years contributed to my own skills, but also amazing that I still had so much to learn from David.  His approach to teaching is to provide you with a  huge 'sketchbook' of bits and pieces of his work.  He is open to describing any of the techniques he used in these pieces and allows the class and each individual to guide him in the direction of the class.  Everyone gets individual time during the class to discuss their particular work direction and resolve any problems and articulate ideas.

Given that this class consisted in a large part with girls I bead with on a regular basis, the collective knowledge will help all of us as we move forward exploring the various bits and pieces we are beading.  There is a beaded godzilla in the works, pyramids, covered hardware cloth, cubic raw boxes and from our head science and math nerd Cindy all kinds of variations that were ideas sparked by David and taken further by Cindy.

One of the class exercises should we choose, was to cover an unusual object…here are Davids keys and doll.  There were also army men and dogs.

Day one David provided some hints for the construction of the pyramid and on day two a couple of more hints with the challenge to create one during the week between classes.  Three people were able to do that with the hints provided, I was not one of them.

Here's the group with David smiling, likely after one of his amusing stories.  I remember his story telling and sense of humor from my first class and that hasn't changed.

Susan and Agnes watch intently as David describes the construction of a clasp that they found fascinating.

The group….Emily included!

The bits and pieces on the table give you an idea of everyone's individual explorations.    Judy Walker is intent on covering her hardware cloth box.

One of my breakthroughs….guided by David 

It was an excellent weekend and a memory that I will cherish.  I have many new ideas to explore!  David does not teach a lot, but if you should find him on a schedule near you I would not miss the opportunity.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ancient Bells

AND to update the update, although we sold out, we ordered more beads to do a second limited run…if you order on the website we will be building and shipping these kits in the next two weeks!  

Click here to order!

Ancient Bells has had an interesting trajectory…..

I was visiting with Perry at  York beads (and meeting Edgar!) back in August when Perry showed me the Ancient beads.  I brought a few home with me and told Perry I would design something for his 90th anniversary.

The idea being the pattern would be used to promote bead sales of the ancient beads.  The talented Melissa Grakowsky illustrated the pattern which was provided to stores who purchased the ancient beads.  Psst, if you are a bead artist requiring illustration services, Mellissa can provide that service and she's good.  Typically I would illustrate my own, but since this was a special case, Perry engaged Melissa to to it.

 Anyways, the pattern seems to have struck a cord with many….I've seen a lot of these made and posted, and all have been beautiful.

The other cool thing about this pattern is that it teaches a nice gradual increase using craw which results in that graceful bell shape you see.

I have made these two color ways and I have put together the kits with the small stash of ancient beads I have, you see they are at the moment no longer available from the original supplier, although you will find a few bead stores here and there with remaining inventory.

I've sold almost all of the first batch but a small number will be available, hopefully later today.  Mark is 'revamping' the website, which is indeed needed but it's slowing the process for adding new kits to the store!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I'm building a house

A wee little house, 1 inch square and maybe 2 inches high, small enough to wear as a ring, or maybe to hang as a pendant.

I'm taking a David Chatt class and I wanted to do something that would use a lot of skills and be a challenge, so size 15 craw with different interior and exterior wall colors, windows and a door and a stepped roof.

Yesterday was the second of a four day class which has been a huge treat for me.  A lovely group of beaders with David in our midst, available to help us explore, challenge and add to our skill levels, and make us think, all with a healthy dose of humor.

David brings a long a huge inventory of bits and pieces and will explain the technology of each design. I find that I am somewhat challenged in thinking in 3D and that I need to make a piece before I can cement it in my mind.  So I've made several little bits and pieces which will remind me of the direction I might take.

We have 4 days in between and I hope to put a little time in on the house, my mind was busy all night thinking through the thread paths of how I might approach the roof, and there was also a new reversible bracelet pattern that I'm thinking of.

This is pretty much the ultimate artist date to spend the time being exposed to so much brilliant work and having access to and guidance from the artist who created it.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Birthday Cuff

For our birthdays, we've been making beaded bead necklaces for one another, but Judy, always traveling to her own beat, wanted a cuff, a bead embroidered cuff.  The big reveal was today!

Two weeks back we gathered in the studio and Judy picked out colors and decided that the large La Navette focal would be the perfect center. The rest of us then set to work with me giving a mini lesson which was totally tuned out, can you believe I allow this?  They went about their business knitting and discussing the right choice of yarn for a soon to be crocheted koigu lap throw and gave me the occasional, uh huh as I showed them how to back stitch and make fringe and fill in an area.

I will say next time an embroidered cuff is the choice we need to start a little sooner then two weeks before the big day.

I prepped the lacy's, put together a kit of sorts with the colors, bezeled a coin pearl and two chatons and beaded up La Navette.

Susan took over and did a lot of the heavy lifting as far as the bead embroidery was concerned (I did repeat a bit of the tuned out lesson), then Susan called Gail to work on the cuff since it was to be a birthday gift collaboration.  Susan had the brilliant idea to include all of our initials, so there is J, S, M and G outlined in 2mm fuchsia crystal.

Bead embroidery done it was given back to me to put the backing on and complete the edge treatment.  I added a gold button clasp, and the fringy bits on the bottom of the focal.

It ended up being a beautiful piece and Judy was thrilled to open it at todays Torrey Pines Lodge Spa and lunch day.

It is a treat to look across a table and see a piece completed with so much love.   You did good girls.  Happy Birthday Judy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


It's really rare for me to sell my finished jewelry, time is of course always precious and I chose the designer, author, teacher, kitting route for my business model.  I find it's hard to do that in parallel with selling finished goods.

Every once in awhile someone comes along with a level of enthusiasm and asks so nicely that I'm inclined to grant their request.  So these beautiful earrings are winging their way to Florida today.

I've been making Romantica style earrings for awhile, but I love the addition of the rizos and the melon balls with an accent of pave teardrops!  I've got a new black pair with the baroque pendant on the bottom which are dark and mysterious and a pair with silver and fuchsia.  Now that I've solved my illustrator issues by abandoning my old CS5 installation and purchasing a creative cloud subscription, I can return to tutorial writing and I think I'll be writing these up.

and just because pretty packaging is also important…..

Today is bead with friends day and  I'm working on a bead embroidered cuff.  My job is to put the backing on and complete the edging.  The finished product is a surprise but I promise to take photos and show you after the reveal!

Bead well my friends!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Amulet Purses

Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic, my beading career started in the early 1990's where I was drawn to an amulet purse worn by a woman at a quilt guild meeting that I attended.  She taught me that sweet little amulet purse and I went on to make several more.

I made the one on the cover of the Nicolette Stessin amulet purse book, designed by David Chatt, my first foray into Right Angle Weave.  I made a nautical one and put all kinds of sailing talisman into it and wore it daily as Mark sailed safely from Santa Cruz to San Diego and back.  I attended the first retreat put on by Carol Wilcox Wells in the Blue Ridge Mountains and I made her caged amulet.  I wish I could show you photos of all of them, but it was before I felt the need to record all of these.  I only have one amulet left, however I have girlfriends who own and still proudly wear some of my first beading attempts (makes me shudder, but they still enjoy them).

Here is one that I did as part of a round robin.  I made the purse using Embellished Raw which made a beautifully supple bag.  It was then sent on it's way for embellishment, fringe and a neckstrap by different artists.  I believe Darcy did the beautiful spiral rope, and Nancy Dale did the fringe (swoon) and I am thinking, but not positive so forgive me, I'm thinking Laura Zeiner did the embellishment, or perhaps I embellished hers and someone else did this.

It has gotten me to thinking that I would really really like to do an amulet purse again…..

Friday, January 9, 2015


If you were one of those that signed up to take Sprockets at Bead and Button I thank you for seeing the promise in this piece.  One of the things I find hard to do is capture everything that is going on in a bigger piece in a smallish photo.  

It's important to get the entire piece in the shot so that there is an understanding of the overall form, but then you lose the detail when scaling it down to a 2 inch photo.  This makes it hard to convey all that is going on in this piece.

For one thing the pendant is totally reversible, with different embellishment and color opportunities on each side.  The spokes are a bit of cubic raw which counts on increases and decreases to add interest and to capture the melons and spikes (or crystals or pyramids or whatever you might like)  The interior circle is shaped with size 15's and 11's and the bezeled rivolis are captured and beaded back to back adding to the reversibility.  In other words there is a lot going on in this piece that will create learning and interest and present design ideas for your own work.

Look at all the juicy detail you can when I get up close and personal 

But you lose the fact there is a pendant and the overall shape or that it's reversible

You may recall that sprockets started out with an experiment that looked like this

And I still have an idea to make some sprockets bangles….or earrings or…..well let's just say I have not finished exploring the sprocket possibilities.

I really need to spend some time photographing these other colors to their best advantage.  Seeing them now I want to make another color way immediately, but I am pretty sure that is not fitting on the calendar!  

And in the event you're going to Bead and Button and your Tuesday dance card is not yet full, you can find the link for Sprockets here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Portico Pendant Re-invented

I'm happily home for a good spell and enjoying some creative time in my studio.  A couple of days ago I showed you some choices I was thinking about for re-inventing a portico pendant that was years old and needed some new love.

Number one was the winner and yesterday while beading with friends I made myself a little component (the one in the photo is reserved for an other project) and I bezeled in the navette stone.

I'm pretty darn pleased with the result!  Now to find something to wear it with.

Top down and side view so you can appreciate both the form and the layered construction of that top bit.  Oh and the original, so you can see how it was fancied up!


and fancy!

I continue to be really happy with how well my new camera, Canon Power shot  G16 is functioning!

Some of you might remember that I promised to open the kit store in January….and it's still my plan.  I have some Beading by the Bay work to finish this week (if you're waiting on that) and then onto kits.  Finding this retirement balance turns out to be not so easy.  I seem to putter a lot and I just realized that a deadline I thought was in November is in April.  But I will try to have a little more focus and get some of your favorite kits available soon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Beautiful weaponry and more London images

Beautiful weaponry seems to be at odds….but I was amazed by the beauty and craftsmanship of the weaponry at both the tower of London and the Wallace Collection.  The hilts of the swords were embellished and filigreed and decorated to a high level of beauty.  I had to wonder if these were weapons for actual use or those created for show.

I thought there would be some inspiration in the different bobbles at the top of these swords.

A crystallized gun at the tower of london

 Spurs from the Wallace collection…..definitely some bead inspiration here.

My favorite sword handle, also bead inspiration….

and more London images, unrelated to beading but beautiful, I loved this window for it's simplicity and elegance and for those shoes!  They are so not Mark's style (nor probably his price range!) but I did really love them.

A beautiful gate which was either at the Wallace Collection or the Somerset house but I've lost track.  I love seeing this kind of intricate work that one finds in a city, and especially in old cities.

This was a grate that was at the Somerset house, how intricate a pattern for a grate….

And a final favorite shot from the London tube!

I'll move some of these to the inspiration files and see if they show up in some beadwork.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Playing with possibilities

Playing with possibilities was the name of my master class but also a large part of my design process is Playing with Possibilities.  I was perusing through a box of older beaded designs and pulled out this ellipse pendant that I've always enjoyed, but also thought it was missing a bit of something…..It needed dressing up, similar to what I did with this copper necklace.  A bit of re-inventing.

I spent quite a bit of time exploring diamonds and ellipses, back four or five years ago.  This was called portico pendant.  I have a box of bits and pieces that I've created with a few of my tried and true thread paths so I thought I'd give them a try for combining with the pendant.

Number One - Here is a spirit flight, topped with a dancing light and a bezeled chaton center.  And of course the purple haze Swarovski navette looks beautiful as well, although it would need a way to capture it.

Number two - And if I wanted to go over the top, there is a layla, topped with dancing light and a spirit flight, that has a pink pave tear drop at the center, followed by a double spirit flight with an iridescent green coin pearl.

Number three - Or maybe a dancing light with a rose gold Swarovski dome bead at the center

Number four - Or if simplicity is your desire a small dancing light with the green coin pearl and no stone on the bottom.

Since I am personally in love with the Swarovski dome bead and want to use them everywhere immediately, I am leaning towards number three, but I also have a love affair with number one's bezeled chaton and the super duos that I tucked into the spirit flight. And number fours greens tie so nicely together, it looks as if they were designed at the same time.  Aaaahhhhh…..the possibilities.  Which one do you like?  Do you play with possibilities?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Stolen moments for beading dreams

I'm sure I've said this a few times, but my very favorite time to be creative is the quiet of a new morning, pre-dawn being my favorite.  I tiptoe into the studio, make the first cup of coffee, settle into the recliner, pull up a bead tray and if all is aligned, I bead well.

Today was one of those days.  Even though I'm 'retired' I still have plans for things to add to the website, I still co-mange a retreat, I am still teaching at Bead and Button this year and all of those things require some level of attention, so it's not all eating bonbons and pampering going on around here, but…..

I did promise myself to finally explore a bigger piece, a Bead Dreams worthy piece and to that end I have created myself an inventory of desired beads and have begun the beading.

I pressed my largest Bead on It Board into action so I can collect a lot of inventory and still have room to bead.  I've labeled a box and I'm collecting bits and pieces that might be used.  I'm also collecting the components I've been making.  I try for anywhere from one to three new components per day and add them to the collection.  I play with arrangements, take photos and put them back in the box.  The final layout can only be done when I have enough pieces.

Then comes the challenge of not only how they will be arranged but how will they be presented, what connections will I use, what focals might I add, will there be tendrils or clean edges or……Will there be crystal, will I complete a piece with no RAW?  Will I finish, will it be accepted, does it matter?  For now I am just enjoying the process.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

An Artists Date

In Julia Camerons the Artists Way, she recommends taking yourself on an Artists Date once a week.  Well this year at the end of a busy bead engagement schedule, we opted for the ultimate artists date, or two…..

We started our celebration at home, decorating a bit for the first time in years….

We hosted new son in law and daughter Casey for an early Christmas dinner and then popped up to  Northern California for a visit with granddaughter Sam, followed by granddaughter Layla, born this year, and Malayna, almost four!  Malayna is sporting her new outfit bought for her during an outing to Sarasota earlier this year.  She loves its and will love wearing it with her sister Layla's 12month old version as soon as she grows into it!

A Christmas Eve visit took us to Son Brian's house which he and new daughter in law Kelly have made into a warm welcoming environment. It was a beautiful evening.

We stayed at the lovely boutique Valencia hotel in Santana Row and met good friends Char and Rose (30+ years and counting) for a delightful dinner outing.

Christmas Eve had us joining our daughter  Lucia's and husband Ethan's parents at their inviting home where we were treated to a beautiful dinner, nice company and the delight of children at Christmas.

All of the above provided much needed relaxation with family and friends, which is always good for the creative process.

On the spur of the moment, I think we made the plan about three days before Christmas, we decided to spend some time in one our favorite cities, London, England!  Fortunately Mark and I have similar travel personalties and were excited to spend a few days absorbing the many museums and artistic images that London has to offer.

We previously stayed at Citizen M, a new hotel concept popping up in larger cities.  The rooms are small, with large beds, all conveniences controlled by a tablet in the room, modern in decor and the lobby is a huge living room with books and computers, and food and drink where people can spend their social time, using the room mostly for sleep.  I like it, so we elected to go back. The neighborhood is between southwark and london bridge stations and home to a lot of new restaurants, and the Tate Modern.  It was walking distance to Tower of London, the Thames, Borough market and if ambitious Convent Garden.  We were ambitious clocking between 17,000 and 20,000 steps each day we were there.

Here is a view of the close by iconic Shard.  The trip to top seemed prohibitively expensive and not something we needed to do, but the visual from ground is breathtaking.

I had never previously been to Tower of London, which I found fascinating.  The amount of creative craftsmanship and beauty put into weaponry was so odd to see.  I sadly still have not seen the Crown Jewels as the queue was way way too long the day I chose to be there.  But it was a fun visit.

I have a lot more photos to share from the various museums we visited, the favorite probably being the Wallace Collection.  Again there was a huge weapon collection with incredible detail and yes beauty….odd.

I have a lot of beady inspiration, so the artist date concept worked well here.

I will leave you with a festive and opulent vision from one of the spectacular Fortnum and Mason windows.

And wish you a  Happy New Year!