Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Amulet Bag :: Blending Ancient Egypt and Native American

I started this bag about 2 weeks ago and was hoping to finish it before the last ATTS hop hosted by Christine and Therese. I didn't quite make it, but I did finish. So here it is, my amulet bag.

The bag came together in pieces. I started with the top band of peyote in a 'basket weave' which I attached to a piece of suede. The suede was beaded or 'zipped' along the side with a ladder stitch and a bit of picot that I stitched into the bag to ensure it was secure.

Then came piles of fringe, can you ever have enough fringe? Its a bit unruly, and makes you want to constantly comb your fingers through it to straighten it out. The last piece I added was the scarab created by Lesley Watt from metal clay. I bezeled this months ago and it sat on the bead table awaiting just the right project. 

An amulet is an object that protects its owner from harm, which is different from a talisman that is believed to bring luck as well as protection. Amulets can come in the form of gems, statues, coins or even a plant or animal. The word origin is Latin (amulētum) and prevalent in ancient Rome. But the tradition stems from Egyptians who believed that stones were associated with gods, and that wearing these stones, or amulets, gave powers from the gods. By the time of Egypt's Middle Kingdom the scarab shape had become a powerful protection amulet particularly for kings, who wore stone carvings of the beetles for protection both in life and the afterlife.

While the Romans tended to wear stones as amulets, the Native American tribes tended to create small bags to carry sacred objects, medicine or tobacco. The bags were often painted, beaded or quilled with characteristic tribal designs. The Shaman (or medicine man) would carry 'medicine' in these bags to treat sickness or disease. But they were also used for luck, protection and strength in battle. Some medicine bags included paint (with powerful magic) which gave the warrior the belief that he was invincible in battle.

My amulet bag is a cross between these two cultures. It has the symbolism of ancient Egypt with Lesley's lovely scarab, but created as a bag to carry the amulet protection. And a bonus that it comes with lots of fringe that is so depictive of Native American bags.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CC7A :: Blue Skies

We are wrapping to a close on our second year of our CC7A group hop, the Creative Continuum of Seven Artists created and hosted by Alicia of All The Pretty Things blog. Each one of us have co-hosted a month by sending around a photo to the team to inspire our creative thinking. 

This final month is hosted by Christine. She sent around such a cool inspiration as we head into winter. A view of an open blue sky that can consume the landscape once the trees are bare. It makes me think of seeing the migrating birds heading South for the winter. It is a dramatic sight in an empty sky.

That is why my piece for this month is of a bird in flight. That is exactly where my mind went when I saw Christine's photo. I think we all struggle with finding that bit of breezy blue sky inspiration once the days turn short, and often the skies are grey and heavy with snow. But on those rare days when the sky just opens up with a burst of blue on a cold day it makes you want to breathe in deeply and enjoy the short bit of warmth on your face. Thanks for this photo Christine. It is that warm blanket on a cold winter's day.

I also decided to add a pair of earrings. They match the necklace, but only with the agate rondelle accent beads I have included in both. The skeleton of the leaves reminds me of what is left behind after they fall. That delicate, decaying lace stretching between the skeleton of the leaf that was. Ok, one last turn about the rest of the blogs for our group hop: Christine, Therese, Sally, Alicia and Monique. Be sure to check them all out!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

ATTS 8 :: What's Your Bag?

I think ATTS (or A Time To Stitch) is my favorite blog hop series. My friends Christine and Therese have managed to create a hop that is constantly reinventing itself and getting us all to try a new technique. And I love to try new things. 

This time the challenge was to try making a bag using beadwork. Now that could be an amulet bag, or a beaded bag or whatever else you decide you want to try your hand at. That is the best part of this hop --- it has pretty easy going rules. I was going to try an amulet bag, but instead I decided to make myself a jewelry travel pouch. 

What's that? Well the one I had, I'd had for years. It is still in very good shape, in fact almost new. It has all these little zipper pockets in it to stuff your various earrings or bracelets in. Then you roll it up and you pull a cord around it to secure it. (Here is a similar one) So why did I need a new one? Well, the one I had was from my mom, and when my sister came to visit I sent her home with it. I made quite a few pieces of jewelry for her to take home for herself and several of her friends. I tucked them all into the jewelry travel pouch from mom. She lives so far away from the family and has so few things from our mom that whenever she mentions that she likes something from mom I tuck it in her suitcase.

I actually ended up shipping her some green glass bowls that my grandmother used to use for desserts but my sister said "oh those are awesome champagne glasses!" Huh, yea I guess they are. But I had been using them for pudding or jello for the girls. She had a much better idea of what they were. So I shipped those to her. I would bet that my grandmother spent less than $5 for the set of 8, and I paid nearly $130 to ship them to her (New Zealand is not cheep to ship to!). 

Ok, officially down a rabbit hole. Back to the topic here. My travel pouch. I love this rusty copper color. I cut a swatch of raw silk and assembled it by beading the sides together with peyote. I used some suede for reinforcement of the magnet closure and added a bit of beaded design around the top of the closure. Pretty simple actually, but will be just the perfect thing to keep my bits of jewelry in when I'm traveling.

Don't forget to check out all the other bloggers for the hop: Christine, Therese, Bobbie, Amy, Alicia, Dagi, Jasvanti, Karin S, Debbie, Liz E, Lori F, Maryanne, PaulaSamantha, Jenny, Ana, Motidana, Becky

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Selling on Amazon Handmade

Like many of my fellow handmade artisan friends, I've opened a shop over on Amazon's new Handmade Marketplace. There are a growing number of us discouraged by Etsy's new policy that redefine what they consider to be handmade. They have let a number of low-cost manufacturers join the ranks of Etsy from countries where labor is cheep and 'hand assembled' can bend the rules of what the rest of us would consider artisan made. Etsy says that it is strict about who they allow to use "outside manufacturing help to support their increasing volume needs."  

Sadly, many of us artisans selling on Etsy are feeling this shift directly in traffic to our shops and reduction in our sales. The pages of Etsy are now flooded with page after page of low-cost options from overseas. There was an interesting article on this from the Huffington Post from the buyer's perspective. I, like so many of my fellow artisans on Etsy, are seeing massive drops in traffic to our shops. I have regularly seen conversations about whether people should consider closing their Etsy shops for good. Sigh. 

What it has done is encourage many of us to try other options including joining Amazon's new Handmade Marketplace this holiday season. I am starting out slowly to see how it goes over on Amazon. So I have only a few pieces listed in my shop. This necklace I am showing on the post today is listed and uses beads from Sue Kennedy. These are some of my favorite artisan beads from Sue as I love the soft sand color and overlay of silver. I've used a combination of pyrite and hematite beads to accent the design.

As with quite a few of my posts lately, the bead girl is modeling this piece. We've been having lots of fun together this Fall, and she is helping me by modeling in several of my pictures so I can photograph them and get them listed in my shops. If you have the time to stop by my new Amazon shop, please do click over!

Friday, November 13, 2015

They Are Watching

Karlovy Vary Spa, Czech Republic
Vienna City Center Skyline
Today is Friday the 13th, and a great date to post on this theme on 'the watchers.' Here is a fun fact, my mom was born on Friday the 13th, not in November, but in January. I actually never knew that until after she passed. Not sure why? But she never mentioned it. It was my dad that said something a few years ago with just a hint of a raised eyebrow as if to say 'well you know why she wouldn't want to talk about it.' Hmmm, actually I'm not in the least bit superstitious. I find the concept to be a complete waste of time. One of my girlfriends growing up had a habit of not wanting to walk on either side of a pole. So if for some reason we got out of the car and I was on one side of the parking meter with her on the other, she'd come around to my side and say 'bread and butter." Can someone please explain what exactly that corrects in the world of superstition?

So the watchers. We found statues everywhere we went in Europe, but one of the most curious places was on top of buildings? They appeared to be teetering on the edge of the roof, as though they might take one more step and come tumbling down? We saw them all throughout our trip. We saw them in every country we were in. We saw them on top of buildings, on the front of them, above the doorways, on the sides, between windows. They seem to be a very common architectural design.

Austrian Parliament Building
I went in search of why exactly they would be so popular. The best answer I got was that during the Middle Ages as churches were being built statuary became a popular architectural design element. They used the buildings themselves as a canvas for a range of subjects from complex theological ideas to biblical tales to whimsical creatures. And I would say we saw all of this from the building in Rothenburg with the seven deadly sins in the facade, the castles of Bavaria, many of the buildings in the old center of Vienna, to the spa in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. They were simply everywhere.

The one in Rothenburg took over the entire front of the building called Baumeisterhaus or the Master-Builder's House. The facade includes the seven virtues (kindheartedness, motherliness, gentleness, temperance, courage, justice and wisdom - yes I had to look that up) as well as the seven deadly sins (gluttony, deception, falsehood, greed, lust, sloth and vanity - yes also looked this up). Gotta love a good medieval statue series to play out a few biblical stories. Particularly when it is now on the front of a restaurant to remind you of the sin of gluttony before you walk in the front door?

You can see the influence of Romans and Greeks in many of the statues, particularly in Vienna. Ah, Vienna. I believe it was my favorite city of the trip. It has such style, elegance and beauty. Dave and I absolutely fell in love with this city. I captured just a small sample of all the statues like this random blue Greek God (perhaps Hercules?) on a corner building, or like the Caryatid Pillars on a side entrance of the Austrian Parliament building. Vienna is a city of statues, and they were stunning.

The picture at the top of the post is one of the 12 statues representing the months of the year, which sit on top of the Mill Colonnade in central Karlovy Vary. You can read more background on the town in one of my previous posts. So why 12 statues representing months? I have no idea. None of the history to the town told me why the architect (Josef Zitek who also designed Prague's National Theater) decided to include them. Zitek was known for his Neo-Renaissance style; popular in the 19th Century throughout Europe for important public buildings like opera houses, theaters and palaces. Sometimes my study of history gives me the answers I'm looking for, and sometimes it doesn't. I don't think I really got a straight answer on all these watchers, but I did really love seeing and photographing them.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Missing Egg

I guess I sent people on an egg hunt today, quite unintentionally. 

I know you all know that my day job gets in the way of my bloggy life, so I don't usually remind everyone. But this is an instance where it was more apparent than usual. 

I did the blog post last weekend before taking off on yet another week on the road. I scheduled it to post today, but completely forgot that I meant to get a picture of the hand-painted egg up on my Pinterest board. Doh!

I meant to. Honestly. It just got pushed to the bottom of the 'to do' list. 

So if you are just reading this post and have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about? Read the previous post (and perhaps a few comments from 'egg hunters'). And if you were looking for it? Well, here it is. Or it is over here, on Pinterest.

Slovakia :: Visiting Family

Bratislavský hrad (Bratislava Castle)
One of the places that we were anxious to visit was Slovakia. My husband's father was Slovak, and so Dave grew up with stories of 'the old country.'  Above our fireplace is a hand carved panel of the Bratislava Castle that was given to him by his father. 

When Dave was in high school he toured Europe one summer with a group called People to People. They visited Slovakia that summer, and at the time the country was still communist. It was rather bleak and he was looking forward to seeing how much it had changed since the 80s.

After spending 8-9 days in Germany and then Austria, there was a very distinct difference as we drove to Bratislava. Only an hour away from Vienna mind you, but a world apart. I talked a bit about it a few posts back, how people in Vienna believe it is a waste of time to head East out of town. You could feel it on the roads. Driving in to Vienna (from Munich) the roads were packed and over run, but driving East to Bratislava the roads were nearly empty. And most of the license plates shifted to Romania, Hungry, Poland, Czech Republic and of course Slovakia. It quickly shifted from a feel of Western Europe to Eastern by driving that 1 hour East of Austria.

Bratislava, Slovak National Theatre
We absolutely loved our short time in Slovakia. Probably the best hotel we stayed at for the entire trip was in Bratislava. At a place called Marrol's. It was a beautiful old boutique hotel right in the heart of the old town. We stepped out onto the narrow, old cobble-stone streets, and it was like we had stepped back in time. It had such a different feel to it. Lots of cafes with street-side seating where locals were simply hanging out watching the day go by. It didn't have that Western tourism rush to buy every tsotski you could find. That was the other thing we realized once we were home that we had bought next to no souvenirs on our trip. Which I am completely good with --- my house is full enough. 

There was a wonderful local craftmans' area set up in stalls just in front of the National Theatre in Hlavne Namestie (or the main square). It is one of the only places I did buy something to bring home. I picked up a beautiful hand painted egg to hang on the Christmas tree and remember our trip. 

Family Plot Borský Svätý Jur, Slovakia
After our stay in Bratislava we headed North toward Prague. But stopped off in a small, very small little town along the main highway. The town of Borský Svätý Jur. A small village where my father-in-law's family is from. Thank God for GPS, or we would never have found this place. The village dates back to the 1300s, established around a church built in the main square. 

Borský Svätý Jur Medieval Cross
It was in disrepair, and a new one has replaced it. A highlight (as strange as this sounds) was the graveyard. You can see the medieval influences in the gravestones and statuary. It is central to town, just off the main square. And holds the stories of the families who lived in Borsky Svaty Jur through the ages. My husband was wandering through the rows, and stumbled upon the family plot. There was much excitement and snapping of pictures. The headstone is actually the plural of the family name (the ending "ovi") since husband and wife are buried here. 

I think one of the coolest things was hearing locals pronounce our last name. It has been anglicized through the generations and is no longer pronounced in the Slovak way. And while my brother-in-laws will swear it is pronounce in a guttural way (saying that is the 'old country' pronunciation), they are wrong. It actually has a much softer sound when pronounced by a local. And it was fun to see their face light up when they saw our last name on the registry, asking "oh, you are a Slovak?" You just don't get asked that every day in the US. All the rest of the Slovakia pictures are over on Pinterest including the hand painted egg.

Friday, October 30, 2015

People Watching, Dogs, Bikes and Street Musicians

Fussen, Germany Boy in Lederhosen
Fussen, Germany Medieval Band
Nothing like getting out on foot to explore a city. Central Europe with its old medieval town squares is a perfect place to do just that. Along with some fantastic people watching, a little dog watching and plenty of street performers to throw in a little ambiance. 

One of my favorite pictures from our trip was this one of a young boy fully decked out in Lederhosen complete with suspenders. The pants are long, heavy leather (not the traditional shorts). You can see by how he stands that he was feeling quite proud of his outfit. I love how Dad is left holding the pack back because it just didn't go with the assemble. 

Fussen, German Bike Scene
So what was the boy and the rest of the crowd so intensely watching? Why a German medieval band of course. They were really rocking out with a very rhythmic beat getting lots of people in the crowd clapping along. In every city we walked there was music. Whether traditional, medieval, classical or otherwise. It was lively and festive and I so enjoyed it as we explored the streets of Europe. 

Accordion Player in Fussen
Notice all the bikes piled up there off to the side of the band? That was a curiosity as well. It would seem that Germans really, really (I could probably throw in another 'really' here) like their bikes. We saw groups on bikes, families on bikes, vacationers on bikes and well pretty much everyone seemed to have them packed on top or in back of their cars. I suppose with all the narrow streets it probably makes sense. 

Harp Player in Bratislava, Slovakia
At one point in our trip we were traveling from the Rhine River Valley up through a pass to the other side to the Moselle Valley on our way to Castle Burg Eltz (blog post on Burg Eltz). As we were cresting the pass and coming down into the Mosselle Valley an older German man was biking toward us and promptly jumped off his bike and starting to wave his hands at us up over his head. A universal sign for STOP. Which we did. Only to find out that he spoke only German, understandably since we were in fact in Germany. But he was speaking quickly and very loudly. Apparently he believed if he increased the volume it would help us understand him better. It didn't. After roughly 15 minutes of this we decided to roll up the window and continue on. As we started the steep decline into the Moselle Valley we realized that the road was completely washed out. Oh! That is what he was screaming about. However the road had narrowed to slightly more than a single lane of switchbacks with absolutely no shoulder to speak of. That makes for an impossible situation to 'K Turn' to head back the way we came. So what do you do? We put it into low drive and slowly, slowly back your way up through switchbacks backwards. The look of satisfaction on the German man's face as we passed him again spoke volumes.

Violins in Vienna, Austria
Fussen, Germany Dog Scene
We thought we were being very smart to bring our own GPS with us to Europe downloaded ahead of time with all the local maps. And it was incredibly helpful to have directions given to us (in English) along our drive. But it failed us when it came to all the local construction on the German roads. We lost several hours on this back tracking, but it was a beautiful place to get stuck!

One other thing we noticed was that dogs are very prevalent everywhere we went. People bring them out to pubs, to walk the city even in to restaurants. We would see waiters slip water bowls under the table for the dog curled up at the owners feet. That is one thing we always found difficult traveling around the US is that it is very hard to bring your loved dog with you on a family vacation. Not the case in Europe!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Behind the Lens :: Hidden Architecture

Church of St. Joseph
I just could not get enough of the architecture on our trip. The buildings are magnificent. Big or small they all have so much craftsmanship packed into their design. While we spent much of our day in Prague around the main town square of the old town, we managed to wander off down some side streets and stumble upon a few hidden treasures. 

A few posts back I showed you a picture of the amazing metal door of the Church of St. Joseph decorated with filigree. This is the front of that church. Just another church, down just another side road. 

Church of St. Joseph Skylight
It was hot while we were there. Really hot. Mid to high 90s and no A/C. 

But the second I pushed open the door to the church I felt a waft of cool air rush across my face that just drew me in. 

It was a small chapel. Nothing special, no ornate alter or huge crucifix hanging from the wall. Just a simple place to find some reprieve and quiet solitude. I sat in a pew and cooled off. Looking up all I could see was this beam of soft light coming in from the narrow sky light at the top of the dome. I was truly lost in my own space and time that I didn't notice the small face a few rows up intensely staring at me. I was a complete curiosity to the young girl. I guess just as much as this old church was to me. Funny how that happens sometimes when you are so intent on things going on in your own little world that you forget to notice the effect you have on the world around you.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wire weaving with a friend

The last time my bead buddy Christine and I got together we tried our hand at doing some wire weaving. As is often the case when I'm trying something new, I walked away stabbed and bleeding. Truly. I'm such a klutz sometimes. I managed to run a piece of the wire up under one of my finger nails. ouch!

This is my second attempt at using this technique and I think it is going to take a few hundred more before this is comfortable to my hands.

That said, I do like how this second one turned out. I pulled out a large coin-shaped jasper bead I had in my stash and treated it like a cab. I glued it to some lacy stiff stuff and then added a leather backing that I stitched along the back edge of the cab into the wire weave casing. The results are a framing of the bead in a cab-like setting. 

It isn't perfect and it has too many imperfections to put this one in my shop, but I like the technique enough to try it again. If any of you are interested in learning how to do this, I highly recommend picking up Lisa Barth's Timeless Wire Weaving book. Great instruction that is easy to follow. Hey, if I can do it anyone can!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Float Down the Rhine River

Liebfrauenk Church, Oberwesel
Rhine from above Bacharach
We started our European adventure just North of Frankfurt in the Rhine River Valley. And it is gorgeous. Seriously. 

We stayed in Bacharach and took a ferry along the Rhine up to the town of St Goar. A short 'float' along the river by about 90 minutes from where we were staying. We sat on the upper deck, which was open to the wind and weather. It was sort of a grey day when we started the trip, which turned to a mist then a rain by the time we were cruising along the river. We toughed it out for quite awhile, and then finally threw in the towel and retreated to one of the lower decks. 
Wernerkapelle Chapel
But by the time we arrived at our destination, the skies cleared and the sun came out. It was a glorious along the banks of the Rhine. I just could not get enough of these old medieval towns with churches and castles in every direction. 

The streets of St Goar
We toured the streets of St. Goar, our destination for our river cruise. And ended in a pub just next to the river as we waited for our return ferry back to Bacharach. Once back in Bacharach we went out for one of the most memorable dinners of the trip. I had a stew of venison with lingonberries that was simply to die for. Truly. The place was run by this sweet older couple who were celebrating their anniversary. Funny thing was that they looked like it might have been their 40th or 50th anniversary, but was actually their first. Which made the story that much sweeter. They had clearly found love later in life and were inseparable. They were side-by-side and snuggled in a corner booth working on the books and reservations and clearly just happy to be with each other. If you are ever in the neighborhood you have to try their old-style German food at a place called Rusticana.

St Peter's Church Bacharach
There is an old history to the area. Bacharach itself dates back to the 7th century and has had plenty of warring local families fighting for control. The Rhine region was the central trade route to transport goods, and by 1356 Bacharach was finally granted town rights and able to control and tariff transport down the Rhine. 

We hiked the back side of town up to an abandoned chapel call the Wernerkapelle which is known in connection to a ritual called a Christian blood libel. The accusation is that Jews kidnapped and murdered children of Christians to use their blood as part of religious rituals during Jewish holidays. In this case, a 16-year-old boy named Werner of Oberwesel was mysteriously murdered in 1287 on Maundy Thursday (holy Thursday before Easter). It is alleged that the local Jewish community killed him and used his blood for Passover observances. The allegations created an anti-Semitic mob who wiped out the Jewish community through the middle and lower Rhine and Moselle regions. The unfinished Wernerkapelle was left as a remembrance to the boy. 

So much old history to learn about through our travels. Some is dark and disturbing, but not all of it.  There was plenty of good and bad to research and explore. I think what is so fascinating to me is that while the history is old, the people continue to live along side it. It isn't locked up in a museum somewhere to be studied and scrutinized. But instead it is discussed and debated openly with much less cautious 'political correctness' to filter everything that is said. I found it truly fascinating. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Old Towns of Germany

Dinkelsbuhl, Germany
Rothenburg City Wall Framing the Village
Germany. We loved our time traveling in this lovely country. Especially once off the autobahn. Just South of Frankfurt is the old road that weaves its way through the countryside going from one old medieval town to the next (28 towns in total). 

I can see why it is called the Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road) as the towns are ridiculously cute. All I wanted to do was park the car and stroll from shop window to shop window. 

Rothenburg City Gate
The towns are of course full of history. The concept of the Romantic Road was actually coined in the 1950s as a public-relations piece to encourage a return to tourism after WWII. But the history of the area dates way, way back to a road built by the Romans some 2,000 years ago. The road crosses centuries-old battlefields. In fact, the 30-years' War in the 17th Century destroyed the economic base and depleted the resources of the people in the area. As devastating as that is, today it gives us a look into medieval German. That is because the people lacked the economic means to modernize the area. Lucky us that we can now take a beautiful walk through history as you explore these time-capsule towns. They are a living museum. People still live in the houses, run local shops and the restaurants serve classic German dishes.

By far my favorite town was Rothenburg. It is full of history and charm and surrounded by the original city wall. You still need to enter the city through one of the original stone gates complete with a look out tower. Seriously cool. We spent 2 nights here, and could easily have spent a week getting lost along the side streets, little shops and beer houses in every direction. We took lots of pictures of the Romantic Road, so if you want to see more just click over to our collection of photos over on Pinterest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Beer or Wine?

Beer for two in Munich
A Liter at the famous Hofbauhaus
Anyone who hangs out with me knows that I prefer wine, and by wine I mean Chardonnay. I know that sounds crazy boring, but hey when you find what you like ...it is what it is. It isn't that I haven't tried many varieties of wine because I have. My husband and I lived in San Francisco when we were dating, and as I like to say 'we dated our way though wine country.' 

But here's the thing about wine in central Europe. First off, white wine is served only slightly chilled. And secondly, California style wine doesn't exist. The wine tends to be either quite sweet, or Rhine style from the Rhine River Valley, or it crisp as in French style wine. To me, crisp is sharp and grassy, which I just do not prefer.  

So what's a girl to do when on the road in Europe? In a word; beer. Beer in central Europe is fantastic. It comes in so many flavors and styles, and all on tap. It is rich, deep and many are somewhat creamy in flavor. YUM! It is beyond recognition from the bottled varieties in the store at home. My favorite was the Bavarian style dunkle lager (or dark lager) which we had while in Munich. And the best part of beer is it comes stone cold, and on a hot day what is better than that? I think the least amount of photos we took at any location along our trip was Munich (our photos over on Pinterest). Not sure why exactly. Perhaps too busy sampling beer? Could be.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Stone Cabochon Series :: #5

It's been awhile since I posted designs from my stone cabochon series. I have continued to bead and create new designs, but just haven't had time to post.

I was gifted all these beautiful stones from Melinda Orr over a year ago. And I've been working my way through my stash. They don't match exactly, but that has been all the fun. I have enjoyed mixing and matching and beading around them. I have half beaded sets, and quite a few sets still patiently awaiting a strap design. I don't know why I get so stumped on straps?

This particular set sat on the bead table for months until one day I noticed that it was sitting next to another necklace with a hand made chain that really worked with the pattern. So I did what any designer does when hit with beader's block, you steal from another piece! Oh yes I did. I would rather figure out what to do with the other necklace than sit and stare at this one half finished.

For this set, I decided to try something a little different. I beaded around one, but left the second au naturel. I have absolutely no idea what either one of these stones are, but I love how the bottom one plays off the negative space in the one above. 

I have been having so much trouble lately with catching the light in a way to bring out the colors in the jewelry. But I find the pieces photograph so much better on a model. You can see my dilemma here in the picture off to the right. I must have screwed up the settings on my camera, and now can't seem to figure out what I had it on when the pictures were working. Which is really frustrating me.

I did do a little photo shoot with the Bead Girl to make sure I took pictures of the pieces piling up on the bead table to ensure I can show you what other beaded stone sets I've been working on. She was very patient with me pulling necklaces on and off, positioning then this way and that. I've neglected my blog lately, and I'm trying to carve out some time to make it over here to share some of the recent work. I do have more to come.   

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Obsession with Doors

Prague, Czech Republic
Prague Church of St. Joseph
I was really captured by all the architecture throughout our trip this last August. I keep taking random pictures of doors, statues and ceilings. Thankfully the hubby was pretty patient through most of it. But by the time we hit our last town, he was just starting to walk away

For me, it was just and endless smorgasbord of old world beauty to photograph. And I was happily snapping away lost in the moment. It seemed like every time we turned a corner there was a row of new doors, arches, columns and statues to explore. I forget just how new our country is until I visit some other place. Honestly, pretty much anywhere in Europe or Asia is much, much older than the US. And I fall in love with the detail, the tooling, the weathering of the ages and the patina left behind. I have an extensive collection of doors from around the world over on Pinterest. Yes, I am obsessed. If you want proof, just click the link. I can't help it. I love to wonder about the stories of who lived behind the doors. 

At the end of our trip, my husband and I were going through our photos and Dave said "our pictures are so different from each other." He has a tendency to want to pull back and get the full landscape shot, where I want to get up close and study the character of a building. I do just love the detail. The nicks and stories of who was there before me. 

I am still trying to get all our photos uploaded over on Pinterest. Combined we have a pretty nice collection of our whirlwind trek through central Europe. But I will spare you all reading the blog of the massive amount of pictures we took. If you want more doors, just click over to Pinterest.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

CC7A :: Indian Summer

It is my month to host our CC7A hop (Creative Continuum of Seven Artists) created by Alicia over at All the Pretty Things

As host, we have all had our turn at picking out a photo for inspiration and creating our own color palette. So for my inspiration I decided to use a photo I took from our place in the Adirondacks. It is one of my favorite spots; standing out on the end of our dock and looking down the lake. 

The photo is from last year in September. Which is when we go up to close the camp for the winter. Our camp is what is called a summer camp because it is not insulated. Which means that when the temperatures start to dip into the 30s at night it just gets to be too cold to be up there. And so by September we board it up for the winter and wait until spring to reopen.

As sad as it makes me to close it up, I do love the trip up this time of year. You can start to feel Fall rolling in with that crisp feel in the air. Fall has some of my favorite colors in the vibrant hues of moody skies and changing leaves. I love all the rich, deep oranges and woody browns. I know it is short lived, but Mother Nature really does put on a show! 

This year I did not make it up to our camp, but instead had a wonderful visit from my sister. September is her birthday month, and she decided to spend it with me! Well at least for one week leading up to the special day. I asked her before she arrived what baubles she wanted me to make for her this year, and she said something in an orange tone - check! And that was absolutely perfect for my September CC7A challenge! 

Her birthday jewelry this year was a combination of special beads pulled into a necklace. I used small round carnelian beads from India my mother-in-law gave me, another carnelian tube bead my friend Christine gifted me and then added one other special touch I had from our mom. I still have a few odds and ends left from our mom's jewelry box that I sparingly use. For this piece I used a small oval focal in a mother of pearl. It gives a nice little swing to the bottom of the focal to this necklace.

I wanted to create something a little different for my sister. This is a lariat style with one long piece of silver chain. I put a large hoop on one end and a tubular focal on the other that slides through the hoop. You can see she wears it up at the throat and lets the focal hang down; just as I designed it. And I think it looks wonderful on her! I also made a sweet little pair of matching earrings in Carnelian faceted, onion cut beads. You can see her wearing both of these pieces plus the cuff I showed you in my last post. I asked her to take a quick picture over on Facebook of her new pieces and she posted this picture back at work where she is all decked out in her new trinkets!

Thanks for letting me host this month Alicia, and for picking my favorite month for me! And now on to the rest of my teamies: Alicia, Therese, Christine, Sally and Monique.

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