Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beneath the Surface :: Lessons

Recently my daughter was struggling with a problem. It would have been easier for me to pick it up and fix it ... probably within an hour, maybe two. But instead I decided that it was a good life lesson. A frustrating one, but a harmless one. It took her nearly 5 days to resolve; I coached her, but only when she asked. Sometimes there are things in life that you can't teach. It is something you have to live to understand.

My daughter Anne works with me a lot in my studio, and it is amazing to see how she creates. It's different. Different from what I might chose. But isn't that the best part? I have to hold myself back from saying "why don't you try this ....." because I don't want to stop her creative process. 

When we were at Beadfest last year Anne spent time by Melinda Orr's side. And I had the pleasure of watching her learn from Melinda. Branching out and doing things I would never have thought of. The two of them created birds' nests. Something I would have looked at and said ... "maybe we need to straighten this up a bit over here ..." But then look what she ended up making. Something she wears constantly, and takes such pride in saying "I made it."  Sometimes the lessons learned aren't for her, they're for me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beneath the Surface :: Keys

I found a pile of old keys up in our camp when my mother-in-law and I were cleaning out cupboards. I asked if they went to anything? But these keys have long since unlocked what they were meant to. Whatever doors, chests or closets they went to are long gone at this point. I was left just wondering what beautiful old wood features these might have unlocked. 

I originally thought I was going to polish them and give them new life in a piece of jewelry. But instead I decided to keep their years of wear and deep coloring as is. Sometimes the tarnish you pick up in life adds character and for people who care to look beneath the surface they might find a deeper beauty. 

It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life. To stop looking ahead, and try to live in the moment. To stop collecting, and to start thinking about what are the few things I would put in a suitcase and take off traveling. You have to think more carefully when you know you're going to have to carry it. 

It isn't an easy thing to let go of the burden you can feel with all the responsibilities of life. They pull at you. And keep you focused to lists, dates and achievements. Not that these things aren't important. But when is it enough?

I took a look at my current key ring and realized that I was carrying around several keys that I no longer use. Why not unburden myself, pull off what I don't use? And create something new, from something old to remind myself to reassess my load from time to time. An old key for a new filter on life.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blog Book Tour :: Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

I know that I've already told you about Karen's new book Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading, but when she said she was doing a book tour I just had to jump in!

You all may know that Karen is the reigning queen of freeform, and for good reason. Have you seen her work? There was one piece she showed on her blog as a work in progress that I just could not wait to see how she finished called: Messages in a Bottle. Yep it is in here, And yep, it is as amazing as I thought it would be. But I'll let you guys all run over to Karen's blog to get a preview from her.

I thought instead that I would give you a second peek at some of the work in the book. Aaaaaand, since I already shared with you one of my featured pieces, I asked Karen if instead of talking more about me (which of course is fun and all) it would be ok to give you all a peek at someone else in the book: Bobbie Rafferty. 

I could gush all afternoon about Bobbie's beadwork, and was thrilled when Karen said it would be great to give a shout out on her piece. But what I really wanted to know was the story behind the intriguing face? And so I asked Bobbie, and she told me that it was something a friend gave her years ago who owned a bead shop where she taught. Where she of course also frequently shopped ... what self respecting beader could hold back if you just happened to be in the shop teaching?!

Her friend bought several of the faces, but people weren't buying as the light purple tint on the profile seemed challenging? So her friend handed one to Bobbie and said "do something with it." Bobbie certainly did! But she did confess that it took her 10 years to finish, LOL. This baby went back and forth across state lines and was part of a pack up and move, then rediscovery before it was complete. 

Bobbie told me her inspiration was the sea. She said ....
"She just always looked like a mermaid or sea nymph to me, and the color of her face was the soft pinkish purple you find inside a shell. I had tiny shells from the beach, which I thought I could weave in, but getting the needle through the natural lengthwise hole formed by the swirl of the shell was impossible. I was afraid that they were too delicate to drill a hole into. So even though I swore everything would be stitched around the face, glue became my friend in making the hair. After that, I completed the bezel, made some ruffles to imitate waves and seafoam, started expanding the freeform."

I can imagine that this piece lured many to pick it up, and Bobbie said she sure did ...
"Once she was finished, she was always front and center in my display at shows, serving as a great lure for passersby into my booth.  She was in an exhibition at the Kentucky Artisans Center. I wore her to a couple of events. And then at one show, she went home with a charming lady who fell in love with her."

There are just so many wonderful pieces to pour over in Karen's book. And it isn't all just eye candy (which I know we all love). She's also got lots of instruction on stitches. and she makes it a point to show how artist bring their pieces together. Anyone who has tried freeform has likely struggled a bit with it - at least at first. It feels messy, and there aren't any instructions. So getting a sense of the thought process can be very helpful when you're trying to find your freeform style. Karen really covered a lot of territory in this book!

I hope you'll take the time over the next few days to stop in and visit the other artists on the book tour. Oh and there is a drawing too! Just hop around to the blogs and comment. Each comment (per blog) counts as an entry in the drawing (a total of 8 for each participating blog). Karen will announce the winner on her blog Saturday January 24th.

Book Blog Tour and Launch Party  January 15-20, 2015
Thursday (January 15) Karen Williams of Baublicious
Friday (January 16) Cynthia Machata of Antiquity Travelers
Saturday (January 17) Nancy Dale of NED Beads
Sunday (January 18) Bobbie Rafferty Beadsong Jewelry
Monday (January 19) Natalia Malysheva of Aqvatali
Monday (January 19) Sarah Meadows of Saturday Sequins
Tuesday (January 20) Ibolya Barkóczi of Ibolya-gyöngyei 
Tuesday (January 20) Mandi Ainsworth of Bead Circle 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Time to Stitch VI :: Beading with Graphs

Today Therese and Christine are hosting the next installment of their popular bead weaving hop A Time To Stitch. This time the theme is to use a graph to bead our projects. And Amy, from Amybeads, graciously offered up graph patterns for us to use for this hop. Quick shout out to the charity Bead-it-Forward Quilt that Amy chairs for breast cancer research. These little 2x2 beaded squares come together in quilts sold to raise the money for the charity. 

Ok, so I picked one of Amy's patterns (the bull) to bead up my 2x2 square but things did not go as planned. Yes I did bead something resembling the Bull, but no it is not 2x2. I even tried this baby twice, and both times it is not quite right. 

The first version uses size 10 delicas, which Christine and I found out from Amy are a rare and not often found delica size. Amy (an avid 2x2 square beader) said she'd never heard of size 10 delicas. Christine then fessed up saying she bought her's from a now closed local bead store. I found mine at an off-the-beaten track bead store in Manhattan, but I think they mislabeled some of them. Why might you ask do I know this? Well, you'll note that my so-called 'squares' are wonky, caused by slightly mismatched bead sizes. Heavy sigh.

The first one, I was going for a subtle pattern (pink on gun metal grey), which you'll see doesn't show up well. And is also too small for the Bead-it-Forward Quilt. I was trying to create a 2x2 to send, so I specifically asked at the bead store for the right size delicas. But you can see the tan/ bronze 'square' is also not so square. 

I gave up at this point, and moved on. I decided that a I'd use a recent Ombre cuff I made as inspiration. I wanted that Southwestern look only with leather this time. I was thinking rustic, but just could not decide on the closure. I went back and forth a few times thinking I might include snaps. But in the end went with a fiber/ button closure on the back to give it that ranch, lasso rope feel.
I'm going on record to say I tried beading graphs, but graphs did not like me much. Amy how do you do this? Seriously. I think I'm just a bit too 'freeform' in the way I bead. I also cannot paint by numbers, at least the colors never match up because I follow what's in my mind's eye - never the instructions. Perhaps that's why I could never seriously consider carrying out forgery, well that and the lack of artistic talent for painting. Yeah, I'm sticking with that answer.

Thank you Christine and Therese for constantly pushing me to try new techniques, stitches and styles. I love this challenge and can't wait for the next installment. Bring it on! Be sure to check out all the other artists participating today: our hosts (Therese and Christine), Samantha, Karin, Wendy, Dagi, Lola, Paula, Karin G, Becky, Ana, Alenka, Debbie, Nelly May, LiliKrist, Sally, Maryanne, Kim and Amy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cyprus :: Boat Design

For years, I've had a love affair with this old Cypriot design (5th- 4th centuries B.C.) sometimes called the 'boat' design. I came across this design years ago from a replica by The Metropolitan Museum, and I have been wanting to incorporate it into a pair of earrings ever since but just hadn't found components I liked.

I love the simplicity and fluidity of this half moon shape, which has appeared in many materials such as crystal, carnelian, shades of metals; especially in copper. Perhaps the 'boat' shape comes from the area's fishing activity? That I couldn't confirm, but would make sense.

The island of Cyprus sits in the Mediterranean Sea, nestled up by Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. This location gave it a cross-road position in the area and strategic export trade for the Mycenean people who settle on the island. But it also made it a prime location for repeated invasions through the centuries. Thus, the island was visited, invaded and talked about through the ages in many languages. Writers have called it by names such as: Kryptos (Greek for hidden), Cuprum (Latin for copper), Kerastis (fertility), Kypris (name ancient writers gave to Aphrodite; including Homer), Kypros (Greek for Henna, a plant native to North Africa) but Kypros also means copper (pre-Greek word; Etocypriot language). Just to name a few, but there are many more. 

Most attribute the naming of the island back to the copper discovered on the island during the Bronze age (2500 B.C. to 1050 B.C.), which is pretty friken old in my book. 

While I love the smooth shaped stone of the Met's design, I wanted to use a metal in my earrings. It seems more like what would have been created in Cyprus centuries ago. I also decided to use a bit of chainmaille at the top to hold the design together and give it that old world look. I included earring posts with medieval flare that I'd been hoarding for some time, but have now found the perfect home. Maybe not exactly a 'replica' of the original Cypriot earrings, but I never seem to follow instructions to the letter. That's just me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ombre :: Hombre

So when did ombre become such a big thing? I hadn't realized it was until my daughters were asking for clothes that were 'ombre.' I wasn't sure what it was exactly that they were asking until they explained "you know mom, it's graduated colors." As if everyone knows that. And yes, my 12-year-old used 'graduated colors' in her definition. 

But see that's the thing. I never thought of ombre having to do with color. The word always reminded me of those old Westerns. The ones with a poncho-wearing Clint Eastwood that would talk through his cigar; saying just a handful of words as he squinted at the sun.

I figured that I just must have had the definition mixed up. But when I went looking for the meaning of ombre, I found several. The classic Spanish (hombre) for 'man.'  Ok, there's my Clint Eastwood reference. But there is also another that dates back to Spain (16th Century) for a card game like the game of Whist.

So how did this definition become known in the fashion world for the graduation of color tones? Apparently that definition comes from the French for 'shade' ... which was then applied to clothes, hair or even art when using graduated colors.

I didn't even think of it as something people do to their hair until the last season of The Voice. When I saw Gwen Stefani's hair I realized that this was a style I was seeing at the office. I had noticed girls were darkening their roots leaving highlights on the ends. At first I thought it was just a messed up dye job, but then saw too many people with the same style to think it was a mistake. A quick google told me that I was simply out of date and not up on my fashion jargon for the ever popular 'ombre hair.'

So I'm not ready to be doing any 'ombre' to my hair, but I kinda like the look for beading. So I did a bit of simple peyote and just changed up the colors as I went. Then I beaded it into a strip of old jeans. I did a straight cut and wore it for a couple of days as I wanted it to fray just like we used to do in high school when we thought it was cool to have that worn in look. Yeah, I might be out of style, but if I wait long enough it comes back.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Cellini-Bernini Debate

Cellini is a stitch that I've struggled with. It just seems so wonky when I'm beading it that I'm constantly questioning if I've got the right bead size and whether I'm on to the next row? 

Recently my beady friend Linda was using a pattern that seemed more my speed ... well at least it is flat and somewhat less wonky. So it has that going for it. This actually is just straight up peyote, but you are switching the bead sizes from 6s, to 8s, to 11s, to 15s. So pretty wide range which is what makes this pattern look like Cellini. The original Cellini spiral stitch is a sculptural peyote beaded into a self-supporting tube. Kind of like a carved column, or how the stitch was named.

Benvenuto Cellini is who the stitch is named after. He is a 16th century Italian artist best known for his sculpture of Perseus holding the head of Medusa (left). Apparently the beaders who created this stitch thought the pattern looked like spiral columns they thought were in the Sistine Chapel. Virginia Blakelock and Carol Perenoud of Beadcats are said to be the beaders who named the stitch.

But here is the fun part. I then found a second post on BeadingDaily by a beader, who also studied art. She noticed that the pillars were actually the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini who created the columns in question for the alter in Saint Peter's Basilica (right). So does that mean that we should be calling it the Bernini Spiral? I don't know about you all, but I'm going with Bernini Spiral.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

Many months ago I saw a post from Karen Williams over on her blog Baublicious. She was looking for beaders to work on freeform projects, including taking pictures through the process so she could featuring them in her new book Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.

I am pretty new to freeform beading, having only created a handful of designs. I thought, "sure I could work on a bracelet."  But then after talking to Karen she asked if I would be willing to create a necklace since so many people submit bracelets for freeform designs. 

I had never done a necklace, and I was just so unsure of how I would design something with such a large canvas in a freeform style. 

But then inspiration hit. I had been home visiting family in Oregon and stopped into a local glass blowing studio called Fern Hill Studio that I've mentioned a few times now on the blog. The pieces of glass I bought were cast offs from large glass pieces made at the studio like vases and bowls. But the little snips of glass I thought were perfect for cabochons. The owner let me buy a bag full of them! 

What I wanted to do with my little pieces of glass was to create a piece inspired by the bubbles that form in the surf along the Oregon coast. The waves there are rough and crashing creates a bit of foam along the shore. I love how the water swirls in the surf around the bubbles floating right next to the water's edge.

I did share a lot of photos with Karen as this design was very organic to say the least. I had an entirely different final piece in my head. I thought I'd created a short collar necklace, but it just didn't hang the way I wanted and I ripped it out. I switched to beading around brass rings, which also overwhelmed the pattern. In the end I went with a simple braiding of sari silk in a fishtail pattern. It felt more like the sea to me.

There are lots of other artists in Karen's book, and full of ideas, designs and instruction on freeform beading. It is a beautiful book that does not disappoint; including some of Karen's signature beaded sculpture pieces that are truly stunning. Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bingo, Anyone?

You gotta love when you find the Bead Girl sitting in your studio playing with beads and turns around saying, "hey mom look at this ... it's a bingo ball!"

I mean, what's not to love? It's rustic, antique looking, spins and makes noise with the beads flipping around inside. It looks kinda like the old metal bingo cage with the side crank. Those manual ones were great for getting a good turn to mix up the balls.  Oh yes, the Bead Girl would love a go with that old-style bingo cage.

But there was just one thing we were struggled with ... how exactly to cap off the ends so the letter beads didn't spill out? We tried a number of options; bead caps, large heshi beads, perhaps some messy wire wrapping? In the end we went with the knotted, weathered leather, which really seemed to suit the era.

We added some hand-made chain using silver connectors, a bit of my mom's old basting for ribbon around the back ... and there you have it. Bingo Ball fashion; Bead Girl style. I'm noticing that it might just be time for the Bead Girl to get her own logo since she's starting to create some serious designs. She has a at least two more I need to post. What do you guys think? Any suggestions as she establishes her signature labeling?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Whoops Hop

Several weeks back I was part of a design team for ZnetShows to create designs around Fall and adding upcycled elements to our pieces. 

But the thing is that when I went to select my beads from ZnetShows I got my sizing all mixed up. I ordered beads that I thought were a fairly good size (jasper stones) that turned out to be on the 'micro' side. And the pearls I ordered I thought would be petite .... and they turned out to be anything but! What's a girl to do, but roll with it. 

I did create a holiday necklace with my pearls (you can see my first design here), but since I originally thought I'd ordered small pearls ... the 2 strands of extra large pearls that arrived were way more than I needed for my project. 

And so I decided to share with a few of my beady friends to see what everyone else might do with these beads. It made for a wonderful challenge and I can't wait to see what everyone did with their pearls.

So my second piece with these pearls is another necklace, but this time a collar length double strand. I really wanted to try black leather with these pearls and pulled out some gorgeous deer leather I recently picked up from Melinda Orr at her ORRTEC shop. Love this stuff, and it was soft enough for me to stitch right into the leather so I could secure it as a loop around the large glass pearls. 

As a little extra, I decided to include some matching earrings ... but only with the smaller pearls I bought. These have a really nice swing to them and are very light and comfortable. I think I'll have some fun wearing these!  Please be sure to check out everyone else's creations: Bobbie, Christine, Hope, LindaTherese and Val.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wedding Rings

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary, and what better way to celebrate then to show you a bracelet I just finished with a pattern that looks like the wedding ring quilt pattern. 

I love this pattern. The bracelet is rhythmic to make, and lately I've been needing that to relax. I made another version of this pattern back in August, but this one is purple ... my hubby's favorite color. Not that he's going to wear it; this one will be available over on my Etsy site.

It always amazes me to think how long my husband and I have been together as it feels like yesterday that I met him. But then I can't remember my life much before I met him. Funny how life works that way...how someone becomes such a part of your life.  And if you're lucky enough to have kids, what a wonderful experience it is to see them grow. Not just physically, but becoming people. And people that are part you, and part your husband. Such a blend of us both. No one tells you life will be this way, or what deep, mixed emotions that brings on. Something I wouldn't change for anything.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stones and Leather

I haven't had a lot of time for blogging in the last few weeks with my pesky day job getting in the way. I have, however, continued to make a few things at night to unwind. Nothing complicated. Usually just something rhythmic in my hands that helps me relax at the end of long, long days.

I felt like making something earthy, and a bit raw like what I was seeing outside these days. I grabbed some gorgeous veined stones I bought back in August at Beadfest. I was at one of the vendors, can't remember the name of it, and I saw strands, and strands of stones for 50% off. I just could not walk away. I'm pretty sure these are jasper, but what type? I lost track in the frenzy that ensues with 'beads' and '50% off' in the same sentence. These greenish-grey-black stones were perfect to pair up with a set of tooled leather ends I got from Melinda Orr. Aren't they amazing? I love the green, earthy leaf pattern. I punched a few holes and strung the stones straight into the leather. This one feels substantial around the wrist and stacks in a lovely multi-layer of stone strands.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Little Leather Bracelet Belts

I've been playing with leather a lot lately, and kinda loving it. My friend Melinda got me hooked on leather. I don't know whether to thank her or curse her because all I want to do is include leather in all my projects now! I love the softness, and worn in comfort that leather adds to my work.

The last time we got together she brought a sampling of her treasures (on wheels because it is too much to carry). She had so much variety that I went to town picking out findings and clasps that work beautifully with leather like these belt buckle clasps; aren't they the coolest? 

I can't believe how easy it is to include these findings. I just put a little dab of strong glue on the leather ends and insert into the metal ends. I used e6000 ... which I use on pretty much everything. Seriously. 

In the first bracelet I simply cut a strip of leather to match the width. And in the second bracelet you see I used both a wide strip of leather and two thin cords on either side. The variation in the leather colors brings out the copper tones.  Both of these are fun to stack, mix and match!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rocks :: Beads :: Leather

Rocks, beads and leather. What more could I ask for? I love the simplicity of this pattern, and the comfort of this one around the wrist. It is soft and fits like my old, worn in baseball mitt from childhood. 

I found a great video that walked through how to create this stacked, beaded bracelet that was very simple to follow. There is also this tutorial if you want to try larger size beads. They are both just an easy, soft weave that feels great on. 

My inspiration started with a rock that Christine gifted me. A beautiful, flat skipping stone that she drilled. I knew that I wanted to use it as a bracelet toggle, but I waited to find a pattern both fitting in style and substance. You can see it is not a petite rock, but it does make for a wonderful earthy, boho feel. I love this look.

I got to work with the tutorial using some very soft suede that slipped right through the drill holes and provided the edging to my bracelet. And then I just grabbed some cording and started stringing some size 6 seed beads. It reminds me of the field corn my mom always loved to put out with the Thanksgiving decorations. Something that reminded her of her childhood on a Nebraska farm.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beadweaving :: Simple Peyote

I picked up quite a few sets of seed beads at Beadfest this year (you can see the loot to the right here); including a few strings of wonderful earthy beige and a hank of Picasso seed beads. The Picasso beads have been all the rage lately, as I hear everyone talking about them. But they are quite a bit more expensive for some reason. Frankly they look like all those beads I spill on my bead table and don't get around to sorting. I do really love the mixture of color, and I might just need to do my own mix!

This simple peyote pattern actually started with the beautiful center carnelian piece. I have a few of them sitting on my bead table that I've definitely been hoarding for some time. My friend Christine gifted them to me, and I love them. I think Carnelian ranks right up there as one of my absolutely favorite stones. I absolutely love it's rich, honey tone. I could not resist showcasing the photos of the bracelet draped over a rock. Anyone who knows Christine knows that she'd approve of this maneuver.

I wanted to do something different. Unique. But wasn't exactly sure what, and it took me quite a while to come up with the pattern. Sometimes the simple patterns take the longest to figure out as the understated can be quite dramatic. It makes me think of my hairdresser. I know .. I'm down a rabbit hole. But stay with me for a minute, and I'll explain. So I always thought ... how hard can it be? I have stick straight hair ... all you need to do is cut it in a straight line. But I've heard people cut my hair over the years and mumble under their breathe because every snip shows up. And in fact I have seen people struggle to cut my hair as it is harder to have it look like a clean cut, or not have a few pieces hang down if I part my hair slightly off from center (as I typically do).  I guess simple patterns are the same. Any small stitch out of place, or slightly different color of a bead, or even slightly irregular shape or size ... shows up. Can anyone see the spirit beads in this piece?

I ended up with a 2 row chevron pattern of Picasso beads alternating with the earthy beige. I did a drop stitch at the ends creating a triangle so it would roll around the center piece. I kinda love the softness of that look. I'm going to have to do that again, for sure. I also grabbed a set of Melinda Orr's leather snap ends (man I love these) and punched a couple of holes to bead right into. I had to laugh as I explained to my bead buddy Linda Younkman that I had left the string exposed when I attached the beading to the leather. I think she asked me twice, maybe it was 3 times if I really left it exposed. LOL, yes. I like the rustic, boho (aka 'didn't tuck in my shirt) look.

The piece fits like an old worn in baseball mitt. Truly. I was afraid the carnelian hoop would feel uncomfortable, but the beading around it gives it some swing in the pattern. I still have 2 more of these carnelian pieces to play with. But this one; it must return to Christine. I channeled her through the entire pattern. In the end is was earthy, had a touch of native flare, and just a bit of Colorado. 

And another one of my beady friends, Linda, was off doing her thing with peyote. Check out these stunning variations where she simply played with the size of the bead. She also included a tutorial for those of you that would like to try your hand at a simple, and classic peyote beadweaving stitch. Sometimes the simple can create the dramatic. You definitely rock Linda! You can see this article (include my simple peyote bracelet) in this month's issue of Bead Chat Magazine.

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy