Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Drawing CRAW is not so easy and when it needs to bend or curve then it's even harder….and if if you have even more sides then four, it's even harder then that.    In real life the beads gently curve to fill in the spaces, in 2 d drawing, they do not.

It almost makes one want to stop designing with CRAW, just kidding, I don't see that happening, it is just too versatile a stitch and begs me to design with it at almost every opportunity.

I've been busy with both travel and the business of the business and I am itching to sit down and be in design mode.  I did make a pretty fun bauble for the Toho  challenge which needs only a few more beads to be complete,  but it's under wraps for now.

And I am trying agains all odds really to finish a Bead Dreams submission, we shall see, I have the desire and I'm trying to maintain focus in the odd moments I'm not working on the myriad of things that need doing.

I have a stretch of time in front of me that will require a fair amount of work and then I go play.  First at Beading by the Bay, which while work to prepare, is after that a big ball of fun as I see so many wonderful beaders that I call friends.  Many have been with us everyone of the six years we've done this retreat.

Then I am attending a knitting retreat with my dear East Coast friend.  We parted in our twenties when I moved to the West Coast, but we now make a point to get together and do something creative at least once a year.  We'll spend a day in Asheville and then off to the Blue Ridge Mountains where we'll be fed and take classes and visit.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

I've been busy!

We went on an airstream trip!  I will say we are feeling more and more accomplished and like seasoned travelers each time we venture out.

I even drive reliably now, pulling in and out of rest stops and passing trucks as required on the freeway.  Still don't do the local streets or heavy freeway traffic, but I'm getting there.

This trip started out with two days in Tucson, a photo shoot by Kyle Cassidy, a trip around a few of the shows and an Interweave party.

Mark took this shot, I'm wearing my beautiful Kinga Nichols necklace!

 This is a shot traveling through Pacheco pass.  We've named the airstream Pacheco as it has always been a part of our life, connecting us to travel in and out of Santa Cruz.

One of my favorite spots to park, in a grove of redwood trees in Felton California.

Everyone travels with their truffle salt, right?  I mean you can't give up your luxuries just because your experiencing life in a travel trailer!

This was through Palmdale, a rainbow!  We experienced everything on this trip, we had torrential rains, dense fog, high winds, and bumper to bumper traffic.  These were all firsts and we survived!

Here is photo at my hotel.  Jill MacKay noticed I would be in Fort Collins and offered to pick me up and take me to dinner.  We went to downtown Fort Collins which I totally loved.  Unable to take a good selfie in the dark of the car, we asked our concierge at the hotel to take one for us.  I had a great time visiting with Jill.

Thursday night I was treated to a dinner with Jean Cox (Campbell) and I was tuckered out from two days of video and forgot to take a photo.  But I am always happy when I get to spend some Jean time, one of my favorite people on planet bead!

I'm home for a few days before leaving again for Beading by the Bay, is it next week already?  Wow that snuck up on me.  Lot's of work to do this week, but I'll check in with you again in a day or two and let you in the fun I had making the CRAW PRAW videos.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


We decided 'on our way' to Nortern California to stop in Tucson (which is of course not on the way at all).   It was however fun!  We parked in Kate McKinnons driveway and joined the party.  Her backyard is a spectacular fantasy of outdoor rooms, including a bed under the stars and a vintage travel trailer nicknamed the Barbie Coach.

I of course did a wee bit of shopping, but only a wee bit.  I have a few new beads to play with, and some pretty ribbon and some great Lillypilly buttons, a couple of new EZEL clasps and cute little squares from Hynek, designed by Patty McCourt.

I also have some MakuStudio earrings and matching ring with Paradise Shine chatons.  Excellent!  AND a leaf pendant made by Kinga Nichols, just how lucky can a girl get?

We left Tucson early Saturday morning and drove to Tehachapi where we spent the night in a beautiful spot in the foothills.  Sunday's trip through dense fog and then torrential rain were not airstream firsts for us, and we survived.  we also survived very heavy winds newr Oalm Sprongs so we are getting to be seasoned airstream travelers.

Today I bead, all day, nestled in the redwoods in our cute little trailer!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I want to bead!

Coffees on!  The day started early with shipping a few orders and tidying up the studio a bit.  

I would love nothing better then to be all day but that's not in the cards sadly.  Lot's to get done before my video shoot and Beading by the Bay.

However I did squeeze in one more earring with hopes of making a second today.  Turns out it's about and hour per earring, maybe a little more.  That's a reasonably large time investment for earrings, but I do love the architecture and sparkle factor in these and I just had to try them in silver since my go to wardrobe is black.  There is more going on here then meets the eye as you really need to understand craw inside and out to make appropriate thread paths for these.

I also have some ideas spinning around that came out of the prep work for the video.  Little bits and piece will do that, spark an idea and it sparked several.

I also want to revisit some older designs, so many that I'd love to bring fresh colors and ideas to.  This one for sure!  I desperately want to bring this back in dark silvers.   Victoria is a very early design but a classic and I think it would be stunning in dark silvers with indigo accents.

And I thought retirement was going to be easy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

MadDesigns Webstore

A great big huge thank you to all who ordered and kept us busy and out of trouble the last two weeks!  Some of you are such overachievers that I have already seen photos of finished Ancient Bells and Duomos Romanticos.

I thought I should give you an update on how the store is going to work going forward.  You may have read that I am trying to cut back my teaching schedule, although I will continue to do a few outings here and there per year.

I also want to travel more, hug grand babies, plan a wedding party (my daughters) and bring you the occasional bead video.

So…..the store will only have a few items at any one time, they will have inventory control so when they are gone you will not be able to purchase them (Ancient Bells has sold out in both color ways) and Duomos Romanticos is approaching sold out in at least one color way).  We may or may not be able to repeat a sold out design.

Mark has simplified the website and new items will appear on the home page as they are available.  Lest I confuse you, Sprockets and Santa Lucia are my Bead and Button Classes this year, not available as kits.  But if you happen to be going there are exactly two seats left in Santa Lucia and five in Sprockets.

New kits will appear as we have time to make them and given the immediate travel schedule to film a video followed up by Beading by the Bay and then a knitting retreat on the East Coast for me, well you get the idea.

I know some of you are waiting on the Romantica revisited and on La Navette.  I also have plans for Touch of Whimsy and a few of the new earring designs might appear.  I thank you for your support, I will do my best to make kits available as time allows.

I'm having a bit of an earring obsession

Used to be I never made earrings and now I can't stop!  They are reasonably quick, depending of course on the intricacy.  I have pairs I can make in 15 minutes, pairs that take 45 minutes and then, well some take longer then that.

But in the end being able to wear your own earrings, especially ones that are neutral enough to compliment  your other beadwork, it's a good thing.  I have short hair and I'm not dressed until I have my earrings on.

There is the danger of second earring syndrome, similar to second sock syndrome.  I know this because I have had one of a pair done for two weeks and haven't brought myself to make it's mate.

Instead I moved onto these.

An inspiration from my David Chatt class, perhaps you will see the influence here.  A small snippet of David 's sketchpad which I couldn't wait to try out.  Of course I had to embellish, and although it's a bit tough to make out there are 2mm gold aurum crystals across the face of each cube in my diagonal diamonds.  They have a very high sparkle factor.

Yesterday I completed all the prep for my craw video which I will film in two weeks.  Here are just a few of the samples, these ones showing different patterning options.  There will be four hours of CRAW content so I have explored a lot of different uses and variations for working with this versatile stitch.

I look forward to the actual filming, last time I had a blast.  The team at Interweave is excellent and made me feel immediately at ease.  They also work hard at making a quality video with excellent close ups so that you can truly see and learn.