Friday, November 30, 2012

Erin's Challenge of Color 2012!

Having followed Erin's blog for a looooong time, I know that her challenges are always exciting and thought-provoking.  There's something special about each one, and this one really piqued my interest.  A "challenge of color"...that's nice.  But what makes it so special and so COOL is that the color palettes are, in Erin's own words, "...created by my friend Miss Brandi Hussey who is my color guru. The pictures are from the Earth As Art exhibit from the United States Geological Service taken from the Landsat 7 satellite."

Each of the participants was provided with two different palettes, and could either choose one, or make pieces inspired by both.  I can't speak for the others in this blog hop, but my choices were both amazing, and completely different.  My eye was first drawn to the Meighen Island palette, which contains gorgeous shades of blue with a pop of chartreuse.  However, the palette I chose was of the Great Sandy Scars...muted, earthy shades of dark green, tan and beige, a lovely yellowy-brown, and a deep reddish brown.  I instantly thought of the different types of jasper beads in my stash, which contain all of these colors.  I couldn't resist! 

great sandy scars.pnggreat sandy scars

I created a necklace:

I used jasper beads of different kinds, colors, and shapes, and some pretty little Czech glass Picasso disc beads in the same earthy colors.  Because I'm a sloth when it comes to labeling my bead purchases, I'm usually guessing when it comes to identifying them later.  I think what we're looking at here are picture jasper (sandy yellow-brown stones), mookaite (the dark reddish stones), and the faceted square focal bead might be ocean jasper.  I added some short lengths of chain and a bead dangle to each side.
This was an inspiring challenge, and I had a good time working with my chosen color palette.  I love Erin's philosophy, her joyful attitude toward life, and her amazement of the beauty surrounding all of us.  It was a pleasure to participate!
Please visit the other participants to see the beautiful things they've created!
Erin Prais-Hintz
Rebecca Anderson
Kris Auderer
Chrizette Bayman
Lori Bowring Michaud
Courtney Breul
Lynsey Brooks
Stephanie Buss
Iveth Caruso
Shannon Chomanczuk
Lisa Cone
Cece Cormier
Lori Dorrington
Dawn Doucette
Jeannie Dukic
Kim Dworak
Beth Emery
Janice Everett
Pam Farren
Donetta Farrington  (You are here!)
Gloria Ferrer
Cherrie Fick
Therese Frank
Patty Gasparino
Tanya Goodwin
Ambra Gostoli
Jess Green
Denielle Hagerman
Mary Harding
Karla Hartzog
Kim Hora
Brandi Hussey
Emanda Johnson
Jennifer Justman
Sue Kennedy
Ema Kilroy
Lee Koopman
Linda Landig
Kirsi Luostarinen
Cynthia Machata
Alicia Marinache
Beth McCord
Mary K McGraw
Karen Mitchell
Cheri Mitchell-Reed
Aimee Moisa
Karla Morgan
Penny Neville
Becky Pancake
Kashmira Patel
Alice Peterson
Kayla Potega
Debbie Price
Bobbie Rafferty
Caron Reid
Nicole Rennell
Cynthia Riggs
Andrea Ross
Sally Russick
Annie Scherz
Pam Sears
Renetha Stanziano
Sandra Stein
Kristen Stevens
Tracy Stillman
Sherri Stokey
Lola Survillo
Kay Thomerson
Jo Tinley
Emma Todd
Cory Tompkins
Pam Traub
Melissa Trudinger
Michelle Tucker
Shelley Graham Turner
Monique Urquhart
Rachel Van-Walsk
Patti Vanderbloemen
Lesley Watt
Lynn White
Joan Williams



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jeannie Dukic's Do-Over Jewelry Challenge

It's time to reveal what I received from Jeannie (items from when she was newer to jewelry design and creation), and what I made from the pieces sent to me. This was a great swap...Jeannie is a delight to work with...welcoming and encouraging. I hope she does this again, although I suspect she may be running out of "old" stuff!

Here's what Jeannie sent to me:

A simple strand of lovely Czech fire-polished AB faceted crystal beads, in an icy sage green color, which I love.  Since I'm very, very fond of the warmer, darker antiqued copper and bronze findings, I decided to switch out the silver for my current favorites.  I took apart the strand of beads and the earrings, and started playing with wire and different beads and findings.  Here's my first creation:
The necklace is about 19 inches long, before the pendant.  And a closer look at the pendant detail:

I've been admiring the multi-strand bracelets I see everywhere, but have never actually made one myself.  After educating myself with a You-tube tutorial, this is what I made:
Recently, I ordered some curved tube beads from Fire Mountain Gems, and they were offering cheap multi-strand necklaces (by Blue Moon Beads) for only $1.00 each.  On a whim, I ordered several of these, in various colors.  The sagey green seed bead strand and yellow bead links are from the green necklace I received.  I'm all about parting out stuff I wouldn't ordinarily use, and making it work as part of something else I like the looks of...and here you see that I ended up with a triple-strand bracelet.

My favorite things to make are earrings.  I wear them all the time, they are relatively easy to make, and they sell like hotcakes.  Here are some of the earrings I made with Jeannie's beads:
Okay, this picture will not rotate.  It is correct in Picasa (oh, how I struggle with Picasa), but this is how it loads here.  Annoying.
Honestly, I need to read the manual that came with my digital camera.  Most of my failings are due to photography skills, or my lack of photography skills.  This is definitely on my to-do list.  Promise.

I was amazed at how much fun I had making new stuff from the beads donated by Jeannie.  I have several of them left, too...and they will not go to waste.  I made another pair of earrings also, using the crystals and some antiqued copper skeleton leaf charms, which are long and dangly.  However, although I did upload my photos, they are not to be found in Picasa.  I'm so confused...

So Jeannie, thanks a million for sharing some of your personal beads with us, and if you ever want to do this again, I'm definitely on board!  It's been a total pleasure.  Please join us by hopping from blog to blog to admire what Jeannie's fans have made:

Miranda Ackerley
Donetta Farrington (You are here!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

This and That

I've been struggling with Windows Vista for some came with the computer, and I never really felt that it was all it should be.  Cranky, capricious, difficult to maneuver...yeah...all that.  My lovely tech support division (my son-in-law) took the computer for about a week recently, and magically Vista is gone, and Windows 7 is installed.  And although I'd love to say that my challenges have disappeared, that's not the case.  I still struggle.  The Picasa thing, for instance  I admit I'm technologically challenged, but I simply can't seem to make it work the way I need it to work.  Why is this all so complicated?  Or am I only making it complicated, when it's really simple? 

Enough.  I've had a dry spell.  Artist trading cards ONLY.  Instant gratification...just the ticket for someone so easily befuddled by all things involving technology.

But I did join Jeannie Dukic's Do Over Challenge, which I've been working on for the past couple of days.  Jeannie sent a piece of jewelry she created a long time ago, when she was new to the whole concept of jewelry making, and when her beading style was maybe different than it is now.  Our reveal date is October 20th, and I am really looking forward to it!  We've been asked to use at least 50% of the beads sent by Jeannie, and we're allowed to supplement from our stashes. 

I've made a pact with myself to keep trying new techniques and new styles.  To stop reverting to what's comfortable for me, because I've done it so many times.  It's tempting to almost copy designs from other jewelry designers, if they've had critical acclaim...but it's very important to keep track of my aesthetic.  It's a balancing act, really...keep learning, keep trying new techniques, but stay true to my style without becoming stale and (thank you, Nina Garcia of Project Runway) a "one trick pony". 

So for now, it's back to the bead table to re-work a project from yesterday that just didn't work out the way I wanted it to.  I leave you with the following visual images of life at this woman's home:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Post soup activities

For the past several days, I've been occupied with blog hopping, checking out all the bee-you-tee-ful blogs and pictures from my fellow BSBP third-revealers.  Such gorgeousness...I am reminded that amping up my photography skills must be placed at the top of my "to do" list.  I shouldn't have written that for public consumption, since my "to do" list is a joke among my family and friends.  I always have one, but I usually list the things I intend to accomplish tomorrow, and it's always an overly ambitious list.  And then at the end of the following day, I discard that list without a second thought, and make another list (again, overly ambitious) guessed it..."tomorrow".  I've had some of the same things on my daily "to do" list for years.  (And years.)

It's not that I'm flighty or anything...but I'm easily seduced by something new.  A new project...I'll start a new project any day, rather than work on something already in process.  And by "tomorrow", the new project has become something "already in process" and therefore not as likely to be completed, because I spend way too much time on Pinterest and reading blogs and being inspired by everyone else's completed projects...versions of which then make it onto my "to do" list.  It's a never-ending cycle of dysfunction, and makes me wonder how I manage to complete any projects at all.  I believe this illness has a name...and that name is "startitis".

And something else I've noticed...just a random thing...when I'm busy with my crocheting, what I'm dreaming about is the creation of jewelry designs.  When I'm busy at the bead table, I keep casting my eyes at my artist trading card station, and thinking of all the great techniques I have in mind.  I am very consistent...when I'm making artist trading cards, what I'm really longing to do is bend wire and string beads! 

Today, however, I'm really trying to make sense of the hellacious mess in this craft room.  It's so bad that I had to pick a corner and start working around the room.  I've found so much stuff...stuff I'd forgotten I had!  Last night I completed about one-fourth of the room.  But I started late in the day, so hopefully today I'll finish the job.  I haven't put it on my daily "to do" list (because I can't find the list), so I probably have a good chance of finishing the task. 

Maybe my illness is one reason I enjoy making artist trading cards so much...they're tiny, and there's a definite deadline regarding when they must be sent.  Here are a few of the artist trading cards I've made lately, and sent off to new homes (in a timely manner, too):

 Swap-bot "Add a Ruler" challenge...using an image cut from an old Simplicity pattern.  The pattern is so old that it has a bust measurement of 32 inches...for a size 12.  And the price marked on the envelope is 60 cents.  I think I remember those days, but vaguely.
Swap-bot "Lady with a Big Hat" challenge
Swap-bot "Wax Paper Resist Technique" first time attempting this technique, which makes some very cool looking backgrounds!
Back to work...I have my girls to keep me company (one is sleeping at my feet, and the other is on the windowsill), and unless I find my to-do list I should be in good shape by bedtime!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party 6!

This is the big day for those of us who chose the third (and final) Bead Soup reveal...Saturday, August 25th.  Our fearless leader and organizer of all the Bead Soup details, Lori Anderson, has worked, reworked, and reworked yet again to make absolutely sure that everything is perfect for our reveal.  My hat's off to YOU, are a supremely generous lady, and I strongly suspect that it's at great personal cost.  I hope you can feel the love and appreciation we all feel for you.

My partner, Janeen (Wild Vanilla Designs) sent me a whopping fistful (or two) of truly beautiful beads, including a handmade (by Janeen!) focal and ceramic toggle closure.  I had so much to choose from...a selection of really cool vintage lucite in summer colors, dyed pearls...the list goes on and on.  You know the saying, A picture is worth 1,000 words?  I'll stop talking and just show you!

I played and played...assembled different combinations of beads into likely looking necklaces, bracelets, and earrings...moved beads around to see how they worked together...picked out different types of chain...and then I had a little talk with myself regarding the concept of a challenge.  Here is a golden opportunity to take the pretties sent by Janine, and stretch my limits a little bit. 
So I rummaged through my extremely disorganized stash of jewelry making "stuff", and discovered a baggie full of the most amazing silk ribbons from Marsha Neal.  Wowser, the colors went perfectly with the beads in front of me!  I chose a gorgeous dark pink skinny rolled ribbon, and decided to use it in place of chain for a necklace featuring Janeen's big, bold, beautiful focal.  I picked out tons of beads to use in the necklace, and one by one I set them aside...except for a special few that set off the focal.  I wanted the focal to be...well, to be the focus of the necklace, and didn't want to detract from it.  It's a showstopper of a piece, and deserves to be enhanced rather than diminished with a bunch of other beads.  So here's what I came up with:
I must apologize for the quality of the picture.  I know it's not the camera; and I used the very same techniques I've always used (disclaimer: that's not saying much), but my new home is quite a bit darker than my old home, and I've yet to figure out how and when to take really acceptable pictures (notice that I didn't say "exceptional"...I'm realistic about my weaknesses!).  Try as I might, I simply could not produce a photograph that clearly showed the hand-stitched beadwork in the center of the focal flower and still showed the entire necklace.  Epic fail.  Without a doubt, this is one of the simplest, most streamlined pieces I've ever made...three chunky wire-wrapped lucite beads on each side, separated by copper daisy spacers and attached to the ribbon on one end and to the focal on the other end.  The copper lobster claw closure attaches to the link at the top of one of the bead segments. 
I was so thrilled that I'd used silk ribbon for the first time EVER; it inspired me to have another go at it.  For the second necklace, I chose a melon-colored skinny rolled ribbon, which contrasted beautifully with the chartreuse and turquoise colored ceramic toggle from Janeen.  I rummaged through my bead stash and discovered some very, very cool Czech glass beads that are variegated from chartreuse to dark pink.  On a roll with the "first time EVER" syndrome, I learned to wire wrap beads, with that super-pretty swirl of wire across each bead.  (So happy...)  Here's the result:
The toggle is on the side, and is connected to a short strand of sea glass rondelles in aqua and white, with a couple of Janeen's little orange lucite balls thrown in for fun.  Then I attached asymmetrical strands of wire-wrapped variegated Czech beads on each side, attached to a silver V-shaped floral connector.  Hanging from the connector is a large aqua sea glass pendant, topped with three wire-wrapped variegated beads.  This piece was pure fun to make. 
I couldn't NOT use some of the sweet little aqua lucite flowers sent by Janeen, so I made a fun pair of earrings:

I started with decorative antiqued copper headpins, and strung them with the aqua flowers, topped with a pair of opaque white lucite flowers (from my stash) and then with those little orange beads.  I used eyepins to string the orange lucite squares from Janeen, and attached them to the earring wires on top, and to the flower charms on bottom. 
And I still have tons of beads yet unused, that will be put to good use over the next few months.  Thank you, Janeen, for your generosity and for the gift of these fabulous components.  I love them, and had so much fun expanding my horizons a bit for this Soup.  You're the best!
Please stop by and see what all the other "third reveal" participants created:
Hostess, Lori Anderson, Pretty Things

Agi Kiss, Moonsafari Beads
Alice Peterson, Alice Dreaming
Alison Sachs, Beads by Earthtones
Amanda Dittloff, Passion Smashin'
Andra Marasteanu, Bijoux de Monanage
Angie Szlovak, SweetBeads
Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
Ann Sherwood, Ann's Blog
Arlene Dean, A Glass Bash
Audrey Belanger, Dreams of an Absolution

Barb Solem, Vivi Magoo Presents
Barbara Blaszczyk, laboratorim Flory
Bianca Odenthal, Zydies Glasperlen
Birgit Klughardt, GitesBeads
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Bonnie Coursolle, Jasper Gems

Cece Cormier, The Beading Yogini
Charlene Jacka, Clay Space
Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie're
Cheryl Foiles, Get Your Bead On
Christie Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry
Christina Miles, Wings n Scales
Christina Stofmeel, Feng Beads
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Cindy Cima Edwards, Live to Design
CJ Bauschka, 4 His Glory Creations
Claire Smith, Embergrass Jewelry
Cynthia Riggs, Cynth's Blog

Dana Fowler, Trunk Full of Treasure
Dawn Pierro, Turtle Moon Designs
Dee Elgie, Cherry Obsidia
Donetta Farrington, Simply Gorgeous (this is me!)
Dot Lewallwn, Speedie Beadie

Eileen Snyder, Dorset Hill Beads
Elizabeth Bunn, Elizabeth Beads
Eva Kovacs, Ewa gyongyos vilaga!
Evelyn Duberry, Sheba Makeda

Fay Wolfenden, Torch Fairy
Fen Li, Bead Flora Jewels

Gail Zwang, Angel Moose Enterprises
Geneva Collins, Torque Story
Grace Dorsey, Fan of the Flame
Gretchen Nation, Art Food Lodging

Hannah Annear, Squintessential
Hajer Waheed, My Beaded World
Heather Goldsmith, As I Bead It
Heather Otto, The Craft Hopper
Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope

Isolina Perez, Isolina Perez
Jacqueline Keller, CreARTelier

Jane Haag, Did You Make Something Today?
Janeen Sorensen, Wild Vanilla Designs
Jean Peter, Jean P. Designs
Jennifer Judd, Jen Judd Rocks
Jennifer L Justman, Soul's Fire Designs
Joanna Matuszczyk, Bizuteria z filcu
Joanne Brown, Jo's Jewels
Joanne Lockwood, Jo Bunkum
Joyce Becker, Joyce's Joyful Gems
Judy Riley, Three Red Beads

Karen Mitchell, Over the Moon Design
Karen Williams, Baublicious
Karin von Hoeren, Creative Ideen
Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
Kashmira Patel, Sadafule .. always in bloom!
Kate Richbourg, We Can Make That at Home
Katrin Lembke, AllesPerle
Kathy Combs, Torched in Texas
Kathy Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreationz
Kelley Fogle, My Life, One Bead at at Time
Kelly Hosford Patterson, Traveling Side Show
Klaudette Koon, Only Road

Lara Lutrick, Lampwork Beads by Lara
Laura Guenther, Blue Antiquities
Laurie Lalonde, Simply Mod Jewelry
Lilik Kristiani, Soul of My Embodiment
Linda Younkman, Lindy's Designs
Lisa Chapman, Beach Cat Beads
Lisa Lodge, Pine Ridge Treasures
Loretta Carstensen, Designs by Loretta
Lori Bergmann, Lori Bergmann Design
Lori Dorrington, Lori's Adventures in Etsy Land
Lupe Meter, Gem's PC Corner
Lynn Davis, LLYYNN

Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin
Mandi Effron, Craft-o-licious
Mandy Williamson, Mimi's Beading
Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
Maria Rosa Sharrow, Willow Street Shops
Marianne Baxter, Simply Seablime Jewelry
Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre
Marjolein Trewavas, Room for Change
Marelene Cupo, Amazing Designs
Marsha Neal, Marsha Neal Studio
Marta Kaczerowska, uhuhu
Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes
Menka Gupta, Menka's Jewelry Blog
Michelle Burnett, Reverie and Revival
Michelle Escano-Caballero, The Cabby Crafter
Miko Wiropati, Uniquely Yunikua
Milla Hope, LB Creative Arts and Crafts
Mimi Gardner, Other Curiosities
Miranda Ackerley, MirandackArts

Natalie McKenna, grubbi
Noemi Baena, fuego, metal, y color

Pam Ferrari, Ferrari Originals
Pam Sears, Crazy Creative Corner
Penny Neville, Copper Penny

Rachel Baron, R. Baron Designs
Rachel Myers, Rockabead Jewelry
Rana Wilson, Definitive Designs by R. Wilson
Rebecca Anderson, Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag, Becca's Place
Riki Schumacher, Riki Jewelry
Rose Binoya, Ahtee's Blog
Rossana De Gaspari, Rdegas Blog

Sandi James, Do Be Do Bead Do
Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe
Sandra Wollberg, City of Brass Stories
Sarah Goode, Pookledo
Sarah Small, blog by salla
Shai Williams, Shaiha's Ramblings
Shawn Mills, Shawn Marie Designs with Bent Wire
Sheila Davis, Stone Designs by Sheila
Sheryl Stephens, Babble Bead
Shiraz Biggie, Secret Song Designs
Solange Collin, Ahowin Handcrafted Jewelry
Sonya Stille, Dreamin' of Beads
Stephanie Dixon, The Dixon Chick
Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
Susan Sheehan, Strands of Thought
Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
Sweet Freedom, Sweet Freedom Designs

Tabatha Dinger, Modernly Created
Tania Hagen, Pelima Jewellery Design
Tanya Boden, Fusion Muse
Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo
Tracy Stillman, Tracy Stillman Designs

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bead Soup Challenge

Lori sent a sweet reminder to all Bead Soup participants, asking those of us who haven't blogged and posted photos of our beautiful bead soup to please do the right thing...she said that doing so makes our partner feel loved and appreciated, and also invites other jewelry peeps to see what's going on in our particular corner of the world.

Here's the thing: my partner, Janeen, sent me a fabulous selection of beads, including a hand-made pinky-gold metal flower focal, and a beautiful enameled clasp.  Janeen couldn't have done better by me.  Look:

See what I mean?  Gorgeous.  Vintage lucite, pearls, dyed gemstones; super sweet and generous, that's my partner Janeen.

If only I could fix myself... but I seem to have lost my enthusiasm and "crafting mojo" for lack of a better phrase.  It's not just making jewelry that's gone by the wayside, oh no.  It's everything that I once found exciting, stimulating, and fun to do.  I have been making ATCs (artist trading cards) for almost two years now, and routinely swap with people all over the world.  It's so much fun to be given a theme, and to sit down with various papers, charms, vintage ephemera, paints, and rubber stamps, and to create something evocative of that theme.  It's one of my biggest sources of enjoyment, right up there with beading and bending wire. 

I took a six-week hiatus from everything (except the ever-frustrating granny squares), knowing that I needed to pack my belongings into moving boxes and to move into a sweet new home just a few miles away.  I had no idea what that six weeks would do to my spirit.  And now that I'm technically unpacked, and have a great craft room setup, I'm struggling in ways I never imagined.  I can't find what I need, when I need it.  My embossing folders are...where?  My wire snips...why aren't they with all the other "jewel tools"?  That six-week "break" has turned into a solid two months.

Can't find the special cat comb (essential for my long-haired babes); can't find the tube of prescription feline eye ointment; can't find so many of my basic cleaning supplies.  Yet I swear that every box is unpacked.  And frankly, although it seems that I have much more in the way of available work surface in the craft room, everything is stacked and piled around me in a chaotic mess.  What's going on? 

I even joined a group of blogging beaders who are struggling with these issues, and bought a great book on regaining our creative spirits...but I haven't contributed to the group in any way, and haven't even cracked open the book. 

Previewing this post makes me sad...I sound like a wimpy whiner!  Maybe I just need to step back from the situation and figure out a way to organize this room that will make it more workable for me.  That's the task I'm setting for myself for this afternoon, and hopefully my next post will be full of joy.  I really want that to be the case.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Woe. Is. Me.

I'm on the downslope of the moving process, but I have to's a painful process.  Yeah, I know I'm not in the greatest shape, and I'm waaaaaay past the age when it's an "adventure" to pack up and move...but still.  I'm surrounded by boxes, telephone isn't working ("too far from base"???), cable TV not operational (so much for the "seamless" switch to a new address), and I'm in such misery physically that I could cry.  Today I've done NOTHING, unless an unexpected four-hour nap counts as SOMETHING.  Maybe tonight I'll work my way through a few more boxes.  And then there's the steady diet of fast food meals...too tired to make myself look presentable, so drive-through dinners are the name of the game.  I don't think that's helping my energy level much.  Plus, I've misplaced my camera, and I have heartburn.  Come to think, I had heartburn yesterday after my Burgerville dinner, too.  Another good reason to give up on drive-through dinners.

I have a really lovely selection of beads from my Soup partner, Janeen.  And I'm going to photograph them and show them off right here...once I find my camera...and the attachments so I can upload photos to my computer.

I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day.  I'll probably find my camera, and for sure I'll get the kitchen squared away so I can make a nice little dinner.  That's a definite plan.  Oh, and the multi-purpose craft room.  I've created a pathway, and now I need to begin the arrangement of key items.  I'm sure the box(es) containing beads are at the bottom of a stack, since they were labeled "Beads: HEAVY".  I think usually the heavy stuff goes on the bottom. 

Meanwhile, here's a photo taken during the moving process, when a couple pieces of packing paper (alliteration once again) landed on the floor:

I guess it's a cat thing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lori's Giveaway!

Lori is one of those people who gives and gives...and then gives some more!  She is hosting a giveaway on her blog Pretty Things...and I'm telling you, her prizes are fabulous.  Here's the one that grabbed me right off the bat:

But then there's this one:

Or a *mystery gift* which you KNOW is going to be amazing:

A MYSTERY SOUP hand mixed by me!

And FYI, folks, that statement is from Lori, and not from's "mixed" by Lori!
If I should win, I'm going with option #1.  Don't know why, exactly, except that every single thing "speaks" to me.  Loud and clear!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beautiful New View

Oh, please take a look at my beautiful new blog design and header!  When I created this blog, I did the best I could with my limited "e" resources, and the huuuuuge header/picture was always a source of visual pain and sorrow for me.  I never really figured out how to make it right, you know?  Frustration came easily, and innovation not easily at all.

When Lori of "Pretty Things" and "Bead Soup" fame contacted me with the generous offer to revamp my blog header, I couldn't say "Yes, please" fast enough.  Isn't it...well, simply GORGEOUS?  I love it so much, and I'm so grateful to's hard to know how to express what it means to receive such a wonderful gift. 

So to my friend Lori, this is what I say:  thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I continue to be astonished and thrilled at the generosity of the people in the online beady world...and I mean generous with time, advice, and encouragement.  You are an inspiration to me in so many ways, and I look forward to being able to pass it along whenever I see an opportunity.  Mwah!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party

My partner for my very first BSBP is Janeen, of Wild Vanilla Designs (I love that name!) can find Janeen and peek at her lovely blog here.  Janeen is a very busy young mother of three who still finds time to do it all...and I'm happy to be swapping beads and so forth with such a talented lady.

I've been scrolling through my Google Reader, looking at so many great blogs, and I noticed that my friend Therese posted a picture of the very first beaded item she made.  Sadly, I never thought to take pictures of my earliest creations, but only started photographing my "beaded treasures" as a sort of inventory control process.  It quickly went by the wayside, and unfortunately I have not replaced that process with any way to manage my inventory.  I simply don't keep track, which is really unfortunate.  Must improve.

However, in the spirit of sharing and all, I'll post a couple of photos of my earlier designs: 

Lots of symmetry.  I still prefer symmetrical over asymmetrical designs...not sure if that's a bad thing or if I should just accept that it's just my preference.  It's funny...looking at these bracelets, I can see so many ways I'd do them differently today. 

Anyway, I can't wait to see what Janeen sends me, which reminds me that I'd better get cracking on my offerings to her!  My "studio" (aka: craft room) is a disaster, since I'm moving to a new house on July 10th.  Fortunately I've left that room for last; I couldn't bear to begin packing up all my beads and assorted craft items.  My mission for this evening is to choose what I'm sending to Janeen, and then to begin the Painful Packing Process (apparently I'm big on alliteration).  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bead Soup

I've been a very lax blogger for some time...I'm in the middle of a move from a medium-sized house to an apartment, and the purging is KILLING ME!!!  Not so much the packing, which is repetitive and unstimulating but not really difficult...but deciding which of my "treasures" must be left behind.  I realize that I have a bit of a hoarding tendency (oy...the beads and findings and altered art supplies and sewing things and yarn and...and...), and I have never, ever been very good at saying "I'm already involved in so many crafty endeavors that I don't think I should learn how to _____".  You can fill in the blank with many, many different types of crafty endeavors; I love 'em all.  Anyway, not to make excuses, but the purging is physically and emotionally draining, ergo the lack of blog posts.

The adorable Lori Anderson, "creative director" of the Bead Soup parties, suggested that we should write a post about what sparked our interest in beading and creating pieces of jewelry. It's a fabulous idea!

About 14 years ago, I moved with a friend to Dover, Delaware.  I worked at the local hospital (I've always worked in hospitals), and every employee of every medical center is required to wear a photo ID badge.  Usually you're handed a plain-Jane black lanyard with a clip to attach the ID badge, and that's how the ID badge is displayed.  However, one ICU nurse had a better idea...she created beaded lanyards with a clip to attach the ID badge.  For nurses and others who have direct patient contact, there is a rule that any lanyard must be of the "break away" variety, so she used magnetized clasps in silvertone and goldtone.  I thought these lanyards were the most beautiful things ever...practical, yet decorative.

Upon moving back to Portland (Oregon), and getting a position at one of the hospitals here, my beaded lanyards got a lot of positive attention.  Wanting more variety, I thought I could probably make them if I could figure out how they're made and what I needed to buy.  I took a deep breath and took apart one of my lanyards, making sure to lay out the beads and findings as they had been strung.  I took the "stringing stuff" (yeah...beading wire) and some of the metal things that I didn't have a name for, and went to Michaels to ask for help.  That's where I learned that I'd need a few basic tools in addition to beads and findings and wire and so forth.  Oh, and a book on basic beaded jewelry techniques.  I figured out a few things early on, such as the fact that good crimping skills are essential. 

As I started wearing different lanyards with different outfits, people began asking where I'd gotten them.  Then they would ask if I could make some to sell.  One thing led to another...a lovely lady in my office showed me how to assemble earrings, I discovered how satisfying it is to make bracelets, too, and things just took off!  I did very, very well at the annual holiday bazaar!  While having my hair cut one day, the salon owner was complaining that her jewelry supplier had quit making jewelry, and she missed having that type of display at the front desk.  I asked if I could bring some things in for her to look at, and she immediately created a display area for me. 

Everything I've done has been by trial and error.  I've learned so much from online tutorials and classes, and from books and magazines.  And the more I've worked with beads and wire, I've migrated away from the glass bead assortments and toward natural gemstones and higher quality materials.  Now I need to move to the next level, and have an online shop...that's my goal for the year, after I get moved. 

So that's my beading story! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Playing with Beads and Chain

Just messing around...trying to get a bit of beady enthusiasm back...I found a picture of some truly lovely earrings (torn from some magazine, sometime, sadly I cannot give credit where credit is due), which were intricately fashioned from a single piece of wire, with semi-precious bead chips lined up on the bar of the "trapeze".  I thought, hmmm, I'll bet I could make something similar, but using maybe eye pins and chain in place of the silver wire; easier and less time-consuming.  So I began to play.  And this is what I made:

Easy as can be!  Eye pins, some beads, jump rings tiny and medium, and some earring wires.  I'll be playing around with this concept, changing things up a bit, using different beads and chain...very simple, yet satisfying.  I have to say, I truly enjoyed my hour at the beading table.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trying hard

I'm trying hard to get my "mojo" desire to create and to take pleasure in the process. It seems to me as if I need to approach this process the same way I would approach any beginning. By picking something up and starting. Getting started is the surest way (for me) to keep going. It's hard, however, to begin something that I'm not already excited about. 

I have been making artist trading cards for various swaps...I never stopped doing that.  However, I find myself using the same techniques over and over.  I think it's time for a major shakeup...I've bought a couple books, and plan to "take classes" to learn new techniques, and will put them into practice.  Stagnation: not good.

Additionally, I have once again been crocheting...always the quest for the perfect, perfectly pleasing granny square. I am the QUEEN of crocheting, joining, and ripping out. I become...dissatisfied, I guess...with whatever I've made. I have an unbelievable number of partially-completed afghans and such, but when the urge to crochet strikes, I always seem to start something new. I get so inspired by what I see online! I want THAT, I say to myself! So I start, become dissatisfied, and before you know it, I have little balls and squiggles of yarn sitting all around me, which used to be parts of granny squares.

Ahem. Moving on. This weekend I was determined to start something I've had in mind for some time (oooh, saw the original on Flickr and FELL IN LOVE!!)...a pink, green and white cotton hexagon afghan. I started by making hexagons of all the different pinks and greens in my stash of Rowan Handknit Cotton (and also Jarbo, which looks and feels identical, but is much less expensive for some reason)...but very quickly decided that it did not look cohesive and I needed to use only a few colors. I settled on four: a lime-y green called Gooseberry, white, a very pale pink, and a darker rose pink. And using just those colors, I feel happier with the result. The pieces look cohesive, which is pleasing at this point. Probably by row four, I'll decide that it's boring and that I should rip it out and start over, with a different color scheme. (Sometimes I don't like myself very much!) So. After all the anguish, here's what I've done:


So there you have pursuits of late.  Next comes the jewelry; I've kind of dropped out of life, and haven't joined any challenges or blog hops in the longest time (two months).  Must rectify that immediately.  It all gives me so much joy (usually), and I'm hoping I can get that back.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I seem to have lost my way.  I don't remember when I published a blog post last (actually, it's been two months, I checked), and unfortunately it seems that unless I do this every day, it slips off my mental "to do" list...and then two months have gone by with nothing to show for that time. 

Honestly, I must have done SOMETHING during the past two months...but I feel stagnant.  I don't think I've learned anything new, which was not part of the whole retirement plan; I don't think I've created much of anything, either.  I bore myself!

So here I go again, promising myself that I'll do better, and hoping to use this electronic vehicle as a tracking device of sorts.  Does this happen to other people, or (God forbid) is it specific to me?  Right here, right now, on Mother's Eve, I promise (to myself) to do better. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Suddenly Spring

Suddenly Spring Challenge

Ah, yes...Michelle Mach's "Suddenly Spring" challenge.  We were challenged to take the bracelet you see here, and cut the stretchy cord.  We promised to make one, two, or many pieces of springlike jewelry from these crystal components.  So, with no further ado, here's what I made, with some additions from my own stash of beads and findings, and without very many of the crystal spacers, I confess.  I just couldn't fit them in, you know?  They just didn't work for me.  Moving on.

I made this pair of earrings first.  They're light and bright and swingy and springy.  For each earring, I used three separate ball-tipped antiqued copper headpins, two with tiny aquamarine AB round crystals (with a turquoise seed bead sitting atop each) and one with small antiqued copper daisy spacers on either end of the large aquamarine crystal rondelles, a tiny turquoise seed bead sitting on top, and then the same tiny round crystals perched above.  I cut the headpins to different lengths, so each dangle is a different length.  I attempted to add crimp beads above the dangles, go.  The beads swing free, as you can see.  They're attached to a jump ring, which in turn is attached to antiqued copper ear wires.

Now, why will this picture not rotate?  Whatever...I've tried and tried, with no success; time to move on.  I used round white shell "windows" that are stuffed (literally!) with the aquamarine crystal rondelles from the original bracelet.  I used frosted opal AB teardrops in between each glittery window. 

Here are the matching (coordinating?) earrings...the same white shell "windows" with the aquamarine rondelles inside; little silver daisy spacers and turquoise seed beads on top, and then a trio of wire-wrapped tiny round aquamarine AB crystal dangles. 

And finally, the necklace.  What is springy-er than a sweet little bird's nest, full of eggs?  I used one of my decoupaged wooden tiles, some silver chain, and added eye pins strung with the aquamarine crystal rondelles and using the crystal spacers, as well!  Check it out:

And that's it!  I made four pieces of jewelry and used a good portion of the "ingredients" from the original bracelet.  My trouble spot was the spacers...I just wasn't feeling them.  Can't wait to see what everyone else has can peek at everything here: 

 Michelle - Beads & Books - [Hostess]

Andrew - The Writing & Art of Andrew Thornton -

 Christa - Adventures of One Beady Woman -

 Dita - Alankarshilpa - -

 Erin - Erin Siegel Jewelry -

Heather - As I Bead It -

Jean - Snap Out of It Jean - There's Beading to Be Done! -

 Karen - Over the Moon Design -

Kate - We Can Make That At Home -

Kay - Palm Coast Art -

 Kim - CianciBlue -

 Kristina - Wild Roses and Blackberries -

 Linda - Lindy's Designs -

Lisa - Pine Ridge Treasures -

Marlene - Amazing Designs by Marlene -

 Michelle - Reverie & Revival -

Pam - The Crazy Creative Corner -

Pamela - Someday Beads -

 Renetha - Lamplight Crafts -

 Sharyl - Catchenthesun -

Terry - Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry -

 Therese  - Therese's Treasures -