Monday, June 30, 2014

I Can Count to Eight, uh, Seven

It wasn't that long ago (yesterday) that I was going on and on (again) about deadlines and coming up with classes and how I always think I have nothing and then at the last minute I have Something and it's always Happily Ever After yadda yadda.
I needed to make another one of these (I cut up its previous incarnation with hideous lavender beads and stuck with just two basic colours which makes me so much happier) to make sure I knew how to, and also to have one sample for the case at the bead store and one at home from which to write instructions. I then organized the pictures that will go on the bead store web site, checked my materials lists for the classes and then - whoops!

Too many projects.

Yes, I said it.

Too many.

Over the holidays I just can't teach every other Tuesday every month because if Thanksgiving doesn't get me then Christmas surely will and unless I squeeze in extra (Not-Tuesday) sessions (which can happen if it's a project which needs more than two hours), I don't actually need material for eight classes for the October through January semester.

I'm thinking I won't teach this one until February.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Something about a Deadline

So there I was, Sunday around noon, two days from the deadline for class proposals for October through January, filling in the templates and the last class in January says "XXX" because I have absolutely no idea what I could teach.

There's a beaded bead with rondelles and twin beads that turns out sort of cubic, which is nice, but it doesn't work properly; parts of it are awkward and clunky and it's still only partially baked.

There's another asymmetric beaded bead with different sizes of fire-polished beads; the fat half works really well but the rest of it is nasty and everything I try either makes blobby bits or else causes it to collapse on itself.

I look through my rivoli drawer because they're pretty and they sparkle and looking at pretty things cheers me up. Then I open my drawer of crystals things which are not round rivolis and I see the heart pendants I bought a year or more ago thinking I'd do something around a rivoli with them, and so I start stitching.

Usually when I just grab colours without thinking too hard about it, I get gorgeousness, but this time, not so much.
 The colours are even more vile together in real life, but the construction shows promise, except that I've used up all the hearts but one, the bead store closes in a couple of hours, and I have neither worked out nor showered yet.

These problems I can solve.
I fixed the funky thread path, supported the magatama clusters so they don't collapse and sway, added more magatamas (because yeah, they're deliciously juicy) and handled the bail/jump ring thing better so (are they still saying this?) BOOYA!

My dance card is filled and once again, the looming scary deadline is decimated with days I tell you, DAYS to spare.

Hellyeah I'm pleased with myself.

And the best part? (Totally unrelated, except in that it's part of my day) The paraffin should be all melted now and I can go all spa day on my hands.

Moving Right Along

It's always fun when I'm working on a new design and then whoops! Someone has a birthday and it turns out to be just the right present.
 The morning before the birthday lunch, I decided to make a better one of these:
 It's sort of uncomfortable in the wedge-shaped spaces between the large pinky-coppery beads and I wanted something better, except this happened:
 It's a beaded bead instead of a pendant and it was more interesting than the pendant and closer to being better but I still didn't like what was in the gap so I made two more.
 I still didn't like the gap, so I carried them around with me all day and managed to lose one of them (I'm pretty sure it's under the table of the birthday lunch restaurant) and when I got home after dinner the cats were all hissy (my daughter's cat while gorgeous is a trouble-maker) so I managed nothing except wiggly thread.
 This morning was The Time Of The Answer (after a few attempts which were so very clearly not The Answer that they didn't even make it as  far as a picture).
 These beads are sturdy and well-behaved and I've covered the unsightly and troublesome gap with some juicy drops of yumminess that also stabilize the structure.
And then I made a little friend to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Made It Work

I just had to use rivolis with the square pendant, and the only way I could make it work was to make it bigger.

And also use chatons because well, why not?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sometimes Not

 So if you join squares and hexagons alternately, you get something squareish, and the centre is roundish, and you'd think you could put a rivoli in the hole but no. I really really wanted to, but it just didn't work: the beadwork would distort and act bitchy and sneer at me.
 I had to settle for a square with a round hole. Using four millimetre beads to weave the base makes a substantial earring or modest pendant; you could also join them end-to-end for a necklace or bracelet - and I might! The version with bigger beads has the potential to be pretty fancy: if not a rivoli, there should be a way to use chatons, and if there is, then I WILL use them.

Stay tuned.

I'm a bit focused on rivolis since I'm somewhat flush with them after Bead and Button.
I also did a little experiment with end-to-end dodecahedra. Yes, it looks a bit crooked in the picture, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 21, 2014


So it's Saturday morning and me and my coffee are surfing, seeing what people are up to and I see a pair of earrings in which triangle beads are arranged to look like petals of a flower and I think it's interesting and wonder if it could be made two-sided into a beaded bead so I start playing.

The one I make has an awkward base and I don't like the size elevens so I decide to make a different base and oh look! Those bead studs or two-hole pyramids or whatever they're calling them would fit in the spaces between pairs of triangles but I don't offset them correctly and the whole thing is just too tall and really, the beads I've chosen just don't fit together nicely, so I decide to start with the bits I'm sure about and work my way to the parts that aren't fitting and I end up with something that I'm not ashamed to let out in public.
 I'm not saying it's done, but it's definitely evolving and I think when it gets where it's going it might be a decent dance partner.

I still need to investigate making little beaded beads with the triangles.
And then I stitched for what felt like an entire season of Nurse Jackie and finally finished the necklace. I'm slightly regretting some of my colour choices, but overall I kinda love it.

It's fun using what's usually a pretty drapey stitch to make something sculptural.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making up for Lost Time

It seems forever since I was able to just kick back and play with beads and see what came of it.

Bead and Button preparations seemed to be endless and though I took a couple of small breaks because I had ideas that felt as though they'd burn holes in my brain if I didn't, it still felt as though I was being deprived.

Before that, though not as intense, was the preparation for my trip up to Studio Beads in Chicago.

And I guess the day job has had a non-zero effect on my stress level.

Last week I was a bit zombie-like, getting myself and my house in order in the aftermath of Bead and Button, but this week - this week I'm on fire.
Not to say that I haven't generated the requisite amount of wiggly thread, but I think I've had a decent hit rate in terms of the happy end of the spectrum of design ideas, with not too much in the why bother category through vaguely successful but only this one time, and with a higher concentration in the hit me one more time arena.

Like the spiral above.

I made a one-inch sample in a single colour, just enough to verify that my idea worked, and for the past few months, every time that little nub of beadwork peeked out from under a pile of papers or a stack of baggies or a mess of bead tubes, I knew I'd have to get back to it to fulfil its potential.

I'm not unhappy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


 I bet your bead store does this too: has events with food and presents, right?

My local bead store used to give odd little gifts: an earring kit, cute little storage boxes, crystal heart pendants, that sort of thing, but lately it's a $5 gift card at which I am not sneezing. The earlier gifts left me with odd beads for which I struggle to find a use (and the cynic in me says that's why they were gifts), but presto changeo! I used up all the beads in one gift and now I have a cute little storage box into which to put Things.
Apart from the fact that the crystals and rondelles are blue and not really a blue I'd generally go out of my way to acquire, I'm not dissatisfied with this little doodad. It's not quite as plain as I'd planned but I think the touch of quirk is better.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Although this isn't the one, it'll do for now: I've been wanting to make a two-sided rivoli pendant for ages.
 The one I want to make uses a smaller rivoli and has a bigger, more architectural frame.
This one matches the chain I finished yesterday though.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Completion: Janus Chain

That's all.

After a long hard day of spinning (yeah right) I finished it and now I need to see what it looks like in a far less monochromatic palette - not that I don't like it this way, but I think it might be more interesting with more colour and besides, I have more colour so surely I should try it out with more more more.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Settling Back In

Honestly, Bead & Button was hardly exhausting or taxing so I'm not sure why I've been such a sloth for most of the last week. Perhaps the day job was a rude shock that knocked me for a loop. Whatever the cause, most of what I did was pretty unproductive (Netflix and I worked on our relationship); when I actually sat down to bead most of what I generated was wiggly thread.
 I did make a sample for Tuesday's class to be sure the instructions were complete.
Today I felt back to normal: after a few false starts (and that doesn't count the times when I should have been doing B&B prep when instead I played hooky and tried to work on new things. I didn't have much luck as the clear relaxed focus just wasn't there) I have something I like. The little components are two-sided, and even the side view looks good.

You could scatter them in a necklace as I've done, suspend them as little pendants from a delicate chain, join three or four in a row as a dramatic long pendant.

But tomorrow I spin!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I Fell Down Again

It's not my fault. (See the title of yesterday's post).
 Stuart Abelman is so freeakin' cool that he makes his own glass (he gets special sand to which he adds minerals - mentioned manganese - to get the colours he wants) so how could I possibly not buy a bead, especially when they're so crazy gorgeous? And he has the same name as my baby...
 Then apparently I needed more crystals. Show me the colour I was desperately trying to refill two weeks before the show, then show me more colours I've never seen before, and then offer me half-price if I buy a whole tray. Of course I'm falling for that one. (And I'm not sorry either).
And then head pins because why not? I make beaded beads which often need head pins. Plus half-price plus delicious equals mine.

Today is my free day, then I teach one class tomorrow and drive like the wind to get home.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak

Last year I was not sorry that I left before the opening of The Shopping a.k.a. the show floor a.k.a. the very large hall with people selling crack for beaders because I know I'm weak and have no resistance.

This year I'm here for three and a half shopping days and we're barely twenty-four hours in and already I need to ban myself.

It all started with a very lovely gift from Swarovski at Meet the Teachers.
Yes, it's a substantially-sized organza bag bursting with Swarovski crystal goodness. You'd think I'd be happy, but noooo.

Last night I started with seed beads (they're just tubes of Japanese seed beads. I'll spare myself this small embarrassment in favour of all the following larger embarrassments indicating my lack of restraint). Then there were some lampwork beads. I tell myself they're for gifts.
I mean, four of them are very similar so surely I don't need all of them, right?

And instead of my appetite being satisfied, it was instead whetted by the Swarovski treasures because it turns out that they keep inventing new rivoli colours and really, how on earth am I supposed to resist that? It's not as though I bought them ALL.
And I just had to visit the nice people from York Beads because I buy from them fairly regularly and Perry seems like a nice guy from his emails and it's not as though I can tell them what a great customer I am without actually buying anything even though they didn't bring the one thing I really needed (12x17mm spikes. I have plenty at home but I needed them here. Of course).
The one picture of seed beads I will show you was from a Czech booth. They had the usual shaped seed beads, but then they had this totally drool-worthy collection of Miyuki beads with Czech finishes like black vitrail and crystal azuro and lilac vega and it's ludicrous to think I'd pass those up. Plus these adorable new teeny-tiny triangles with a single hole, kind of like a triangular sequin. You can see them all the way at the bottom of the picture.
And that was from four until nine yesterday with a break for food and conversation with Jessica from Studio Beads and Met Inmon and her husband Larry and you may need to go to Cynthia Rutledge for pictures because her husband Mark was taking pictures.

The Shopping opened again this morning and I was there again since I don't teach until just over an hour from now.

I bought more seed beads.

I tumbled for lampwork.
This woman is genius because I couldn't whittle my selection down to just one or three. One is more insanely gorgeous than the next.

Then there was Kim something who does freakin' CHAIN MAIL WITH GLASS which blew my mind and I really need to figure out how to use her very delicate little rings and sets of rings in my beadwork but meanwhile I bought these twisty things because the colours are fabulous.
She packaged them in a clever little gift box in an adorable miniature shopping bag from (possibly faux) recycled stuff:
And all of these are y'know, inspiration for my next pattern or class, right?

I fell down and bought purely for lust. First this bronze pinky ring.
Wow. I need hand cream apparently.

That was because the ring I really bought is being resized and I won't have it on my hand for at least another week and I needed something to tide me over. I must have tried on every ring in their booth (Pacific Silverworks. I bought a ring from them at Beadfest Portland five or more years ago - I get compliments on it almost every day) and was almost settled on a pinky ring with tiny amethysts (I wished they were bigger, and were rubies or preferably pink sapphires) which I liked but wasn't in love with but it would have been on my finger right NOW, but then he talked me into letting him resize the ring that made my heart sing and generously modelled it so that I could gaze upon its digital loveliness until such time as I am able to wear it.
It's crazy big, and has a huge white topaz stone with a sort of sunburst carving underneath which shows up at the top and a couple of smaller stones; perhaps a garnet or sapphire or something, I don't quite remember but I'm super-excited and my class this evening might almost pay for it so I guess I'd better get to it!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Well Met

Last night was Meet the Teachers at Bead and Button, which determines if our visit was profitable or not. Each teacher is entitled to a table from which to sell kits. And I guess other stuff too - the lampwork teachers surely sell their beads for example, but seed beaders like me sell kits.
 Before they open the doors, it's a rather quiet scene, although I confess I was a little over-energized and was strongly advised to get a stiff drink. I might have had I had access, but I just walked it off - there's an over-abundance of the craziest talent, so it's tons of fun to see what other people do.
 This was my table. I wish I'd noticed that the cloth was skew before I started putting things on it. Oh well. The displays were as straight as they could be.
You can see the beginning of the swarm just after they'd opened the doors, while they're still a few tables away (my table is all the way at the left edge so it takes a few moments).

And then I don't remember much.

I do remember one of the students from Sunday night's class coming by to show me that she'd finished the project though - that's always a bit of a thrill somehow.

I do remember seeing students from last year's classes who came to say hi and left with a kit or two.

I do remember pairs and groups of friends and sisters who helped each other choose colours and projects.

I do remember people who bought and paid with a credit card, then spied something else and paid with cash, and then spied something else and charged it again.

I remember someone who showed me her Trivoli made with her own beads which were the wrong size, and which turned out gorgeously anyway.

I think I did ok. I have empty boxes and I sold out of a few things, so that's good.

So today I shop.

Still two more classes: one on Friday evening and another Sunday morning.

Monday, June 2, 2014

One Down

So it turns out that I've been so busy preparing for Bead & Button that I completely forgot to post anything at all. 

I'm not sure why I procrastinate so badly that I find myself still awake at one in the morning, desperately trying to finish a sample so that I can photograph it so that I can print kit cover sheets when I have to drive for six hours the very next day. And then I didn't even finish and went to bed anyway and even though I didn't think I felt terribly anxious, some neurons disagreed because they thought it was a good idea to wake me up after barely more than four hours and simply refuse to let me sleep again.
 One of the classes I'm teaching is a slider pendant in a triangle shape with rivolis and whatnot (scroll to the bottom for a small picture), and I know that certainly beaders will put their brand-new pendant on a strung or (horrors) bought necklace but the truth is that what they really want is to make the necklace for their slider.
 There are plenty of beaded ropes that would look perfectly lovely, so I put together some instructions for four different ropes all suitable for the pendant, as well as extra beads and a simple clasp.
I think they thought it was a good idea too.

And even though I've had the beads for ages and stitched a couple of inches to verify the combination before I packed up the kit, I hadn't actually completed the sample for Cru:
And this is a slow one: the whole necklace probably takes about six hours for me and I'm pretty fast because I kinda know what I'm doing here.

On the afternoon of the day before I was due to leave, I was about to print out the last of the instructions when I realized that they weren't quite finished. I had words words words and a few NEED  PICTURE HEREs and a bunch of words words words which needed editing editing editing so that certainly was an extra unneeded burden on my already-behind-and-overburdened preparations.

I needed to make another sample since that's how the pictures happen, which was just as well as I hadn't yet made one in this colour-way. Luckily the colours work together because the previous couple of combinations really just didn't. Or perhaps in my desperation I was less inclined to be picky.

I'm here though, in Milwaukee.

The drive up was easy and uneventful and I was exceedingly careful to keep my hands relaxed as the event that made me realize that something was seriously wrong with my hands was two two-hour car trips last September and the good news is that I had minimal discomfort and my hands this morning felt better than in months. I guess a day with no beading and no work really helps.

The hotel has a nice big fridge and a room which doesn't face the street and isn't next to the elevator or the ice machine (noisy places in a hotel) and this morning I had one of the best most high-pressure showers ever, so I'm basically complaint-free except for the fact that there's still stuff that needs doing but hey, isn't there always?
I don't need this sample to be complete by seven this evening, though it would be nice if it were because tomorrow I have to pack kits and find an office products store so I can buy an invoice book which I forgot to pack.

Last night's class?

It went great. I had the easiest students ever (I felt a bit useless quite honestly) and one even gave me a gift. From Japan. (She's from there).