Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Anatomy of a Design - Part III

Fortunately for me, the darker of the two colors of pink disks has a little bit of brown in it and what happens to be sitting in my “go back” pile of stuff from previous projects that I haven’t put away yet? I see some faceted smoky quartz rondelles which will add the perfect touch of depth and sparkle.

However, something is still missing. The piece needs a highlight of some sort. Well, the shell disks are, well, shells and that made me think of pearls and I had some pretty, white freshwater pearls in the “go back” pile also so I added those, too. I just love the “go back” pile. It really saves all that nasty wear and tear from me walking back and forth to the bead storage area. See, I told you laziness is an effective design tool!

With the addition of the pearls and smoky quartz, “Mermaid’s Treasure” is just about finished. I zapped on a clasp and it was done. I chose a hook clasp that can be hooked anywhere on the chain of the necklace which allows the finished piece to be adjustable in length. As usual, the scan doesn't quite do justice to it because you can't see the smoky quartz or appreciate the flashing reflectiveness of the silver disks, but trust me, in real life, it's FABULOUS! This is probably my favorite thing I've done since November of last year!

So, next time someone asks you what sunken Spanish galleons, high silver prices, Disneyland, bellydancers and laziness all have in common, you can tell them: “Mermaid’s Treasure.”

Anatomy of a Design - Part II

At the same show, I also picked up some strands of dyed shell disks in two shades of pink and two different sizes. Those went into the same shopping bag with the silver disks, although at the time, I had no thought of using them together. I just bought the pink shell disks because I like pink and hey, they were only $2.00 a strand!

So, this brings me to last night. I’ve already gotten out the large metal disks and I know I’m going to hook them on to chain. I start matching the disks to different pieces of chain I have in stock to get just the right look and all of a sudden the word “bellydancer” just pops into my head. Yeah, weird, I know, but bear with me here.

There have been a lot of what I call “bellydancer” influences in fashion lately from ethnic printed tunics and tops to lots of gold and chain pieces. I’m starting to picture the edge of a dancer’s veil with all the disks on it clanking with smaller pieces intermixed. Coincidentally, I had to get the pink shell disks out of the shopping bag to get to the metal disks so I had a chance to see them together. I liked the way the shapes were similar and hey, circles are hot in fashion right now, too. Plus, I haven’t made anything pink for a while so okay, I’ll mix the shell disks in with the large silver disks.

I start wire-wrapping the shell disks onto the chain in between the larger silver disks and I sprinkle in some of the smaller silver disks as accents. I like the mixture of elements but I quickly realize I’ve got a serious problem. The large silver disks are so big that they’re obscuring the pink shell beads. Rats!

Now, here’s my most very secret trick – how to turn laziness into a design tool that works for you! I’ve already wire-wrapped half the necklace and I really, really, really don’t want to have to re-do that. Not to mention that it means having to cut up and waste all those sterling silver headpins. But, the large silver disks are not wire-wrapped onto the chain. They’re hanging from jump rings. Which are easy to open and won’t be destroyed by being re-used. Hooray!

I quickly replace all of the large disks with small ones and now the design is coming together. Still, it’s just pink and silver and seems too monochromatic which is a design trap I often fall into. So, I need some other colors. But, I don’t want this design to get TOO wild in the color dept. thus the need for something fairly neutral. It seems to need a bit of “sparkle” as well.

Truthfully, I tend to think MOST things need a bit of sparkle. That’s probably why I used to use a hair mousse with gold glitter in it when I was in my 20’s. And yes, I wore it in the daytime, too. {Hangs head in shame} What can I say? I survived the 80’s, but the scars run deep ;-)

But I digress…

See Part III

Anatomy of a Design - Part I

Recently, on an internet jewelry forum, there was a lot of discussion on how designs evolve from concept to finished piece. Some people start with a sketch and then edit it until they have something they like and then they select the materials to match the sketch. Others pick a focal bead or color scheme and go from there. Sometimes a completed design “vision” will just flash into someone’s head! And, of course, there’s all the influence from fashion, entertainment, nature, etc. that can all contribute to the creation of a specific design. Anyway, it was an interesting discussion so I decided it might be fun to figure out just how I come up with my designs.

When it comes to the creative process, I think there are several things going on. The first is that our brains are constantly taking in input from the world around us: colors, scents, sounds, sensations, etc. Everything we read or hear, pictures we see – they all go into our brains and get processed behind the scenes. We’re not consciously aware of the process, but somewhere in the gray matter, things are percolating and melding in strange and wonderful ways.

Remember the movie “Weird Science” where the two boys use a computer to create the “ultimate woman?” As part of the creation process, they scan photos and articles from various books and magazines. They take hair from one picture, lips from another, add in an article about Einstein, etc. and eventually the computer processes this all together to create Kelly LeBrock ;-) This is sort of how I visualize the creation of a particular design happening.

Sometimes the input I work from is provided by a particular focal bead. Usually, large stones or lampwork beads make the best focal inspirations. I take the focal bead and look at it under sunlight as well as indoor light and ask myself what colors I see in it and what those colors remind me of. I usually get sounds and sensations as well as the actual color. For example, cool blues and greens always make me think of water. I might picture a fountain which has sort of a light silvery feel and splashy sound. So, for a “fountain” design, I should look at blues from icy to aqua with silver or white accents. Once I focus in on a color group, I start rummaging through my bead stash to see what I have that matches. I play around with the focal beads and the accents beads I’ve pulled and they usually tell me where they want to go and how they want to be used.

Usually, however, the process happens in a different way…the “Weird Science” way. Lots of disparate elements come together from various experiences and combine to create something new and unique. That’s how “Mermaid’s Treasure” came about.

Recently, I attended a bead and gem show in Costa Mesa, CA. I wrote about it a few blog posts ago and shared some pictures of what I bought there. One of my most exciting finds was a new silver vendor who had some really unusual pieces. Oddly, I almost passed him by because his prices were on the high side and I have other tried-and-true vendors I shop from at this show who can do better on price. But, I was shopping with my mother and she (not being up on the current price per gram of silver) insisted I stop and take a look at his merchandise.


It’s tough to find something new and different at these shows where it often seems like vendor after vendor is selling the exact same stuff so I love it when I come across something I haven’t seen before like these hammered silver disks.

As soon as I saw them, I immediately had a flash of the treasure cavern at Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. That’s always been my very favorite ride and I used to try to figure out how I could jump off the boat in the treasure cavern and just roll around in all that shiny stuff. See, it’s not my fault I’m a bead addict…I just got exposed to too much loot too early in life ;-)

The more I handled (okay, fondled) those disks, the more I kept thinking about the treasure cavern and then I started remembering this documentary I watched years ago (probably on the Discovery channel) about divers searching for sunken Spanish galleons and their lost treasures. They found a lot of silver coins that the disks reminded me of and also lots of crosses on heavy chains of gold and silver. Now, I’m picturing these disks all jumbled together on chain like ancient coins. Then I realized they came in two different sizes and that the smaller size would either make great accents on the necklace or be okay for matching earrings. I bought some of both sizes and put them in my bag and the whole pirate’s treasure thing went outta my head as I got distracted by whatever neato thing was at the next booth I went to.

See next post for Part II.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Monday, Monday...

...okay so I need to stop listening to my "The Mamas and the Papa's Greatest Hits" CD on the way in to work on Mondays LOL!

This weekend was jam-packed with activity for a change from our normal, boring, nothing-worth-mentioning happened type of weekend. Firstly, Ryan seems to have recovered from his mystery illness of last week and is actually (shhh...don't tell anyone) healthy right now. Saturday was our neighborhood's annual summer block party so DH took Ryan out to play with the other kids in the all the wading pools that everyone had set up. It was 98 degrees out which is a bit too toasty for me and plus, I had work that had to get done so I didn't make it out for the party.

I got the kitchen cleaned up and lots of laundry taken care of including actually putting the clean clothes away (which is the part of the laundry process that I suck the most at). For some reason, I just have a tendency to let baskets of clean laundry sit around a little too long. But hey, it's hard to concentrate on such mundane things when beautiful beads are constantly calling your name and asking you to come over and play.

Once the laundry was done, it was time to get down to real business. I had a custom order that had to get finished and in the mail on Saturday. Normally, I'm not in such a rush, but Ryan's illness caused me to lose 2 whole weeks! Although my customer was very nice and patient about it (thank you, Cathi!), I still don't like to be late on things. Here's a pic of the finished piece:

The colors are fairly subdued in the scan, but they are pastel lavender and pink peyote tube beads w/ black edging. The accent beads are Bali silver and Swarovski pearls in pink and lavender. Total length is 17" with a 2" extender.

Since I was already working, I finally dragged out some of my bead show purchases and got working on a design with them. I used some mint green prehnite rondelles and mixed them with Bali silver and some gorgeous glowing pink freshwater pearls. The focal bead is one of those fabulous sterling silver pendants I got at the show two weeks ago. It reminds me of some kind of pirate treasure so I named this 19" necklace "Ancient Treasure":

After that was done, it was time to go check on the boys at the party and get lunch and then get Ryan down for his nap. I got another new necklace partially designed while he was sleeping, but it's not done yet. I'm hoping I can finish it tonight.

After that, my mom came over to babysit Ryan so DH and I could go to the movies. We had planned to see "The Brothers Grimm" (hey, whaddaya want, the pickings at the movies are pretty slim right now) but it was sold out so we ended up at "March of the Penguins" instead. I'd heard great things about it, but it really exceeded my expectations. These animals are truly magnificent and the ordeals they endure are really unbelievable. Plus, the scenery and photography are quite spectacular.

There was an extra added mystery to this experience for us, though. As the previews got under way, theater personnel came in and blocked off the two rows of seats in front of us to allow a special group to enter. This group is a mixture of men, women and children and of multiple races and they are accompanied by one uniformed security guard and one plainclothes guard with a Secret Service-type radio in his ear and a weapon in the fanny pack he was wearing. Another guard arrives with bags of take-out food from a nearby restaurant (and since when did a theater let people bring in their own food?!) and serves it to the group of people in a very deferential manner. In fact, some of the people in the group were quite obviously acting in "servant" role to others in the group. There was a lot of bowing and subservient body language. After the movie was over, they made all the rest of us wait to exit the theater until this group had gotten out of their seats and was on their way out. Once we did make it into the main hallway, I saw two more plainclothes security people with ear radios and concealed weapons.

I don't know who these people were or why they were in our little rinky dink theater, but I'm not sure I'm crazy about being in the same place as people who feel it necessary to have that much private security! It was kinda creepy. And of course, the mystery of not knowing what was going on still bugs me LOL!

Sunday was a girl's day out as my friend, Laura, came to visit me. We went out to lunch at The Stadium Brewery and then we went to see "Must Love Dogs." It's been so long since I got out to a movie and I actually got to do two in one weekend! I didn't know much about the film except that it has John Cusack in it and I just LOVE him. "High Fidelity" and "Grosse Pointe Blank" are two of my favorite movies of all time and I will pretty much go see anything he does. The movie was funny and overall really good (although the plot meandered a bit at times). I was impressed with Diane Lane's performance as well. After the movie, Laura and I went and got pedicures and then it was time to head home where Laura was nice enough to purchase the "Enchanted Evening" bracelet I posted last week. So, if you were interested in that design, sorry, but it's gone. Thanks, Laura!!

I picked up the boys and we also picked up my mom at her house and then it was off to my brother's house to see the newly decorated nursery before we all went out to dinner at Claim Jumper. Did you know they've done away with their salad bar??!!! Neither did we! Horrors! We're not sure if it's just that location or all of them, but it really messed us all up because most everyone had planned to order the salad bar (it was kinda the reason we went there LOL). But, we muddled through and then hit Coldstone Creamery for dessert. It was okay, but it ain't no Maggie Moo's ;-)

Ryan sang all the songs he knows in the car on the way home which was incredibly cute to us, but I'm sure no one else cares LOL! Then it was time to tuck him into bed and I got to settle down with two of my favorite HBO shows - "Entourage" and "The Comeback." The perfect ending to a pretty fantabulous weekend if I do say so myself.

Now, if I can just get that other necklace finished tonight...


Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Book Recommendation

Whew! Sorry this is a bit late but what with Ryan's illness and a sudden overwhelming demand (okay, 2 people) for my bracelets, I'm a bit behind. So, to catch up, Ryan is better. I knew when he ate FIVE BOWLS of cheerios and milk for dinner last night (what? your mother never let you have cereal for dinner?) that he must be feeling better. I was just so happy that after two weeks of almost non-stop illness he'd finally gotten his appetite back. The poor kid has lost five lbs. and (unlike his mother) didn't have the lbs. to lose!

For item #2, the bracelets are now up on the website and available for sale. Tell your friends and call the "Times!" LOL!

Now on to the books. I'm just starting S.L. Viehl's latest book, "Afterburn", which is set in the same universe as her "Stardoc" novels, but follows a different set of characters. I highly recommend starting with the original series to get a feel for the universe and then branching out into the subsequent books.

Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil, the heroine of the "Stardoc" series is a really fascinating character (despite what some of the reviewers on Amazon who OBVIOUSLY didn't read the same book have to say) and I really enjoy the wide variety of aliens that people this particular universe. It's like the Mos Eisley cantina scene from "Star Wars" only on a much broader scale. S.L. Viehl puts her experiences as a real-life medic into play when describing the medical scenes. Of course, I've always been fascinated by all the "Life in the ER" type shows on the Discovery Health channel as well, so maybe it's just me, but it's really amazing to think of a doctor having to know not just human anatomy and how to repair it, but also having in depth knowledge of all the alien anatomies she comes across. And yeah, she's got some technology around that helps her out, but she's still pretty impressive. Of course, if you keep reading you find out that there's more to Dr. Grey Veil than just her medical skills...

There are several books in the original series as well as two branching-off series, the latest of which is "Bio Rescue" and "Afterburn." As far as I'm aware, all the books are available in paperback except these last two.

Okay, and now something I just have to get off my chest:

Dear Megan McTavish and other idiot writers at "All My Children",

I mean, dude, seriously. I get that those of us who watch soap operas are supposed to be drooling imbeciles (apparently) and that the "back from the dead" thing is a tried-and-true soap opera gimic, but COME ON! Not only was the guy shot in the chest but he had a freakin' bomb strapped to his back which BLEW HIM AND THE CAVE HE WAS IN TO SMITHEREENS! Somebody did a helluva cut and paste job on him because he doesn't even have any scars! Not that that would make this any more believable but still! I need the number of his plastic surgeon immediately!

And, if I'm to be forced to accept him (and his overdone really crappy acting which I could overlook if he was hot like Ethan or Ryan but he's not) back then why can't Princess Gillian come back? After all, she only got shot in the head and had her heart cut out and donated to pyscho-Laura. Her return is FAR more plausible, don't you think? Let's see, we get Dr. Death (aka David) to find her grave and dig her up (because he's looking for a substitute daughter now that Babe has told him to stick it) because he's come across psycho-Laura in a hospital somewhere and realizes that she's not been making good use of the transplanted heart he gave her (what with the whole psycho-freak-stalker thing and the fact that she NEVER calls her mother) and that the heart really belongs back with Gillian. So he puts the heart back and undoes the five or so years of decay she's undergone with one of his "designer" drugs. He leaves the bullet in because, let's face it, Gillian was never a brain trust anyway so what's an extra hole or two? Eh voila! Gillian is back from the dead more or less and now that Greenlee is exiting the show anyway, Gillian is perfect as the third leg for a love triangle with Kendall and Ryan.

See, even *I* could write this shit and I'm not getting paid for it! PLEASE, I'm begging you, couldn't we have just a LITTLE bit more intelligence in the show? I'm not asking for quantum physics or anything but just stop making me want to stick an ice pick in my ear. Otherwise, I may have to give up on your show even though it would mean doing without my Tad fix which would be really, really, really hard. I mean, how can you not love someone who works the expression "jinkies" into a soap opera.


A loyal (but not for much longer) watcher since 1983

Okay, back to the regular programming now. I just couldn't hold that in any longer. But, for the first person who can tell me where the expression "jinkies" came from BEFORE Tad started using it on AMC...a free pair of earrings. And no, I'm not kidding.

Take care everyone and have a great weekend.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rainbow Bangle Bracelet

Well, glory freakin' hallelujah, it worked this time! Maybe the file size was too big for the last post? I dunno...some of the mysteries of Blogger are just beyond me apparently. Anywho, here's my "Rainbow Bangle Bracelet". It's a brick stitch tube over sterling silver frame with a sterling silver star charm. I'd like to take credit for this concept, but I can't. It came from an article in "Beadwork" magazine. I've got a lot of ideas to take it in a totally new direction, however, but wanted to make this first one as per the instructions in order to get the technique down.

The other piece I finished is a more typical furnace glass bracelet in shades of black, royal blue, purple and gold. It has Swarovski crystals, glass pearls and a few vermeil beads thrown in for good measure and I call it "Enchanted Evening":

Casa d'Illin' Strikes Again

Y'know, I think I'm going to just start out each post with "Ryan is sick...again" so we can just get that out of the way right off the bat. Or, maybe I'll only post when he's NOT sick as that seems to be the more newsworthy event. I would insert a big ol' heavy "sigh" right here, but I've sighed so much lately I'm starting to hyperventilate so I'm trying to cut back on that.

So, without further ado...

Ryan is sick...again. He's had a high fever off and on since Sunday and I spent Monday and Tuesday home with him. Of course, he managed to be fever and symptom free for the hour that I took him to the doctor's office on Monday so I'm sure his chart now says something like "nice kid...too bad his mother is a paranoid hypochondriac." Hey, you'd be paranoid, too, if half your brain had leaked out your ears from 48 straight hours of children's television programming. I can now sing the theme songs to "Dora the Explorer" and "SpongeBob Squarepants" from memory and sadly, I know how to find all of "Blue's Clues."

The only bit of excitement during the last 48 hours was provided by a wackjob from a neighboring community who decided that Monday was the day for his psychotic break. The first I knew of anything being wrong was a helicopter that kept hovering right over our house for about 30 minutes. We live relatively close to a freeway so I thought there might either be an accident or some kind of police chase going on. Still, the 'copter was circling right over our heads and low enough to make the walls and windows rattle which is very unusual. Turns out that said wackjob had run his car through our neighborhood at high speed, smashed into several parked cars, wiped out some mailboxes and a fence on my neighbor's property. He then drove THROUGH one of our greenbelts, and down into our park where he abandoned his vehicle and escaped to his house. He barricaded himself in the house and had a standoff with police. The SWAT team was even called in!

And where was I while all this was going on? Upstairs changing a poopy diaper and wrestling with Ryan to get him to let me take his temperature. I eventually got both accomplished (although it cost me 2 stickers and an extra story) but I guess his howling drowned out all the car-crashing and sirens. I miss all the good stuff.

The good news is that he did take long naps both days so I was able to use that time to finish a couple of projects:

Well, normally there'd be two pictures here, but for whatever reason, Blogger has decided that today, there will be no pictures in this post. I'll have to post them separately. GRRRR!


Friday, August 19, 2005

A li'l something extra!

Check out the template changes! I actually figured out on my own how to add the links section to the sidebar. Woo hoo! I just knew it was going to pay off not having my hair re-blonded this month. 3 cheers for less attractive but surprisingly smarter roots!

Okay, so I still haven't figured out how to add a graphic there, but it's progress and now I can stop sending pathetic "help me" e-mails to my poor friend, Jenie. Speaking of which, her beautiful jewelry site, Dragonfly, is one of the links so be sure to check it out!

I also added a link to my friend Laura's blog about her bazillion Siberian Husky dogs. It's just getting started but the doggie adventures are quite funny and surprisingly drool-free.

And, of course, I just had to add the delightfully sarcastic and evil Go Fug Yourself website because I'm now addicted to it and I believe everyone should share my addictions so I don't have to feel so guilty about them. Donut, anyone?


Friday Book Recommendations (or UN-recommendations)

Can't remember if I've mentioned this before or not, but I sorta have a thing about avoiding new authors. I like to stick to the tried-and-true because, let's face it, books are $(*)&#&&*!! expensive and it really sucks to get home and find out you've plunked down your hard-earned moolah for a total turkey. But, then again, every once in a while, I get a yen for something new and so against my better judgment I go out and pick up a new author. There is a bit of a thrill to it as I open the first page and hope for the best...but the thrill quickly turns to despair when I find something like C.J. Ryan's first novel, Dexta

Having worked for a couple of very large companies and therefore having a lot of personal experience with "bureaucracy" at its finest, I was really interested in the background world of this book and thought the descriptions of the different corporate "types" (Lions, Tigers, Sheep, Dogs, etc.) and their various functions and tactics were all fascinating.

Unfortunately, the really excellent "world-crafting" here is totally overshadowed by the fact that Li'l Kim and her propensity for boob-baring in public have both apparently been re-incarnated for the 23rd century as the heroine of this novel. I get that there's no nudity taboo and that sexual politics and control are part of the Dexta way of life. I get that the main character is a futuristic Helen-of-Troy type and that her beauty is irresistible, blah, blah, blah, but I think even Helen didn't hang her bare boobs over the walls of Troy and scream "come get me, boys!"

This gal bares her assets more than Hugh Hefner's flava-of-the-month! She wears clothes that have little auto-controls in them to set the garment's opacity/translucency amount and she's constantly turning them more and more and more translucent. In fact, I'm sure if I went back scene by scene and added up all the percentages by which her clothes get sheerer...I'd wind up with about 3000% translucent (which is impossible...can't get more visible than 100%) Ditto for how often she's pushing her jeans down. By the end of the book I think they're around her ankles.

I'm dying to know if C.J. Ryan is a sadly misguided woman or a never-got-over-life-as-a-frat-boy guy. Either way, "Dexta" could've been a really great book if he/she had just dialed the overexposure down a few thousand percent. Or maybe the hot male co-star could've gotten naked a little more, too and balanced things out. How come that never happens?

In contrast, my other new experiment, Charles Stross's The Family Trade was a much better choice. It's garnering a lot of comparisons to the Amber books and it definitely has that same parallel earth/worldwalkers feel to it. I liked that the main character is smart as well as sexy and likes to take action. I did think that the romance wasn't quite set up properly which gave it a bit of an "unrealistic" feeling. Also there are some choppy intrusions from other characters that interrupt the flow of the novel. Still, it's a good and enjoyable read and the second book in the series is already out (albeit in hard cover...boo!).

All in all, though, if you want a REALLY fantastic reading experience, just go for the original, tried-and-true :-) genius of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber . Not only are there enough books (now all collected in one complete and convenient volume) to keep you busy for quite a while, but Prince Corwin is one of the best characters of all time.

Have a great weekend and take care all!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

New Li'l Pendant

Although most of what I did over the weekend ended up getting ripped out because I hated it, I did manage to complete this new pendant. It's perfect for stringing on a favorite silver chain.

It's all done in Czech glass and seed beads using the Japanese flower stitch (which is, I think, sort of a version of right-angle weave).

I am working on a new project, too, which I'm fairly excited about. It looks like it's going to work out (at least so far). It involves a brick stitched tube of seed beads over a sterling silver wire armature to make a bangle bracelet. The original technique comes from an article in "Beadwork" magazine, but I have some ideas for changing it around and making it uniquely my own once I get the basic technique mastered. I've done brick stitch before, but never on quite such a large scale or over any kind of armature. Plus, this is the project that originally called for 11/0 seed beads and for which I accidentally bought Delicas instead...and then decided to go ahead and use them just to see what would happen. So far, so good.

And of course I'll publish a picture when it's done...assuming it looks good :-)

The pendant will be up for sale on the website later today or maybe tomorrow depending on how busy I get.

Take care!


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Website Updated!

The latest earring designs have been added to the Website and are available for purchase. I'd hoped to have more to add, but didn't accomplish as much over the weekend as I'd hoped. I got two bracelets done, but then hated them and felt compelled to rip them up. Same goes for the pendant I did last night. Lately nothing's been working for me. Of course, perhaps I shouldn't be trying to design while all of us at Casa d'Osborne are recovering from stomach flu. Sigh...I'm thinking of renaming us Casa d'Illin' as that seems to be all we ever do. Even DH got hit with this one and still had a fever of 100 degrees last night.

I did get one new pendant finished which I think is kind of cute, but I haven't gotten it strung yet and can't do a scan til that's done. I've got all the components finished for a new peyote tube bracelet, but am still on the hunt for the right clasp. GRRR! I just hate it when I can't find what I'm looking for at the right price. I did find a couple of nice ones, but that company wanted $7.00 for SHIPPING! Errr...I don't think so.

In the meantime, I'm starting a new project that I hope will turn out better and pull me out of my recent bout of suckiness. It's not off to a great start, though. I went to the beadstore yesterday to get beads for it and for some reason by the time I got there I'd convinced myself I needed Delicas and proceeded to buy rather a lot of them. Then got home and realized that I really need just regular 11/0 seed beads. And OF COURSE, I already HAVE a ton of those and seriously don't need any more. Don't you dare ask me if I want some cheese to go with that whine! I'm nauseated enough as it is.

Maybe I'm still feverish? I think I need to go lie down. Could someone bring me a daiquiri and a cold cloth for my forehead?


Friday, August 12, 2005

Nothing says "party" like an ovarian cyst.

Last bit of news for the week is that I had the extrememly un-fun experience on Wednesday of having an ovarian cyst rupture. One minute I was walking around just find and dandy and the next I was doubled over in pain in the ladies' room and trying desperately not to throw up. The pain continued through Wednesday night and part of Thursday until it finally started to subside Thursday afternoon at which point I finally got in to see my doctor and she gave me the diagnosis. A subsequent ultrasound confirmed it. So, just as a public health announcement, I thought I'd post a link to the website for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) If you or anyone you know suspects they might have this condition, this website is a fount of useful information.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!


Ryan's Snails

Now that the Friday Book Review is out of the way, I can move on to pictures of my latest creations. This is actual work, not "cheater" pictures of stuff I bought but haven't used yet ;-) My little boy, Ryan, is just absolutely bonkers about snails. I have no idea why, but he is endlessly fascinated by them and so we have to go on "snail hunts" nearly every evening around the neighborhood and we have books on snails and stuffed snails and songs about snails and snail movies on DVD and pretty much if it's slimy, gross and has to do with snails - we've got one. So, when I was doing my usual weekly bead perusing of a favorite bead auction site, I was thrilled to find these cute little sets of snail beads by Ginger Sanders. They've been sitting on my work table for a while now as I tried to decide the best way to make them up. And so, without further ado, here are Ryan's snail earrings:

And here's the second set:

Being borosilicate glass, they don't scan all that well, but the colors (as usual) are prettier in real life. Lots of deep greens and blues and ambers that seem to "glow" from within the beads. Hmmm...glowing snails...I better not mention that to Ryan or we'll have to go look for those and when we don't find them I'll get the "why, Mommy?" ad infinitum.

Happy Snail Hunting!


Friday Book Review

The last couple of books I've read have been crapola with a capital "crap". Sooo, I decided to go with a favorite author of mine, Patricia Briggs. I've really enjoyed her earlier works, especially "When Demons Walk." The heroine, Sham, is a personal favorite of mine. I wasn't quite as fond of the Dragon's Blood series, but the new Raven series seems to be a lot more enjoyable. Raven's Strike is book two of the series and is out now, but I haven't been able to pick up a copy yet (stupid Barnes and Noble!)

There's supposed to be more to this post, but blogger.com is freaking out and screwing up all my HTML and links and formatting so I'm having to split today's post into a couple of sections.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Costa Mesa #3

Here's my final picture of "goodies" from the Costa Mesa show. I've been resisting the whole "shell bead" trend up until now, but I finally found some things I just couldn't pass up. The disks on the left are from the same vendor where I bought the pink shell disks in Monday's entry. It's a little late in the summer season to be going for these colors, but I just loved how bright and cheerful they are so screw the "rules." ;-)

I also just fell in love with the sweet little flower and leaf shell beads on the right. They're just so pretty and delicate that I couldn't resist. I'm looking forward to figuring out what the heck I'm going to do with them LOL!

That's it for today. I'm off to finish up my latest peyote tube project which is all in shades of turquoise and aqua. The beads are done and I'm on the prowl for the perfect clasp. I'm hoping to start a new embroidered butterfly pendant today, too. In case anyone wants one...

Take care!


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Costa Mesa #2

First a little announcement - I've had to put some controls in place on the comments due to spamming. Apparently, some loser out there thinks I need tuition assistance to go to college. Guess I didn't hang my diploma from UCLA prominently enough. Legitimate comments should still come through, but let me know if you have any problems.

Now, on to the goodies. Here's the second picture of my treasures from the show this weekend:

I found this great sterling silver charms and castings vendor and wanted to buy out his entire stock, but I restrained myself to just what you see on the left of the picture. The fleur-de-lis and key charms are for a design for my mom. She wanted something to represent her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. The other items, like the stamped disks and large flower pendant, are just things I thought were really cool looking. And no, I have no idea what I'm going to do with them yet. I'm percolating some thoughts and making some sketches so we'll see what happens. The big shell pendant on the right didn't scan so well - in real life it's just rippling with iridescent streaks of green, purple, blue and even some violet and red. It's a lot bigger than the type of thing I normally go for, but I thought it was so outstanding and unusual that I just had to have it. And that was BEFORE I saw what a fabulous price it was being offered for. I should've got several of them, darn it!

I also finished the "earrings from hell" completely last night and I should have them up on the website for sale later today or tomorrow.

Take care!


Monday, August 08, 2005

Costa Mesa Show #1

I have a feeling that the stupid photo function on blogger.com is only going to allow 1 picture per post so bear with me. Here's my first set of goodies from the show:

The lovely deep teal beads on the left are apatite. I got a great deal on these and so got several sizes and shapes. In the center are some Thai Hill Tribe silver beads I found in a brushed silver finish. Not only were they affordably priced, but I don't have anything like this in my stash already and I'm always on the lookout for something new and different. Lastly, I got these lovely pink shell disks in two different sizes and two colors (the scan doesn't show it well, but one is a much darker pink than the other). My friend, Jenie, and I saw these at the Santa Monica show along with an entire table of a zillion colors and I've been kicking myself ever since then for not grabbing them up at the time. The same vendor was at Costa Mesa this weekend, but the stock was sadly depleted. A lot of the colors I was looking for were just totally gone.

Note to self: do not pass up beads that scream out "buy me NOW" because you'll regret it!


Too good to be true.

Well, it's over. I knew it couldn't last forever, but I was still hoping we'd at least make it to November. No such luck - Ryan is sick. Again. Sigh. Poor kid started sniffling Saturday afternoon and just went down hill from there. I wish I could figure out where he picked it up this time because no one else in the family is sick and, miraculously, no one at daycare is sick right now, either. Just our luck, I guess.

Still, since he waited until Saturday afternoon to show any symptoms, I was able to get some work done. I finally finished one of the "earrings from hell" that have been driving me crazy for the last month or so. As I mentioned previously, I don't think they're my best work due to funky color combo, but at least I was brave enough to try something new and different, right? Yeah, that's what I'm telling myself anyway. Here's a pic:

To be totally done, I just have to put the fringe on the other earring and the tops on both and then I never have to touch these again. Woo hoo!

Now, for the real fun. Mom and I hit the Gem Faire at the OC Fairgrounds on Saturday and shopped ourselves silly. She got a really fabulous Larimar pendant set in sterling silver and a pretty silver chain to go with it. Larimar comes from a dormant volcano in the Dominican Republic and is only found in one square kilometer on the entire planet. It's a beautiful sky blue stone that shades to deeper blues and teals and often has striations of white or translucent areas. It's somewhat similar to turquoise in appearance but paler and w/o the dark matrix. Mom also peeked over my shoulder while I was digging through a bin of really pretty abalone pendants and grabbed the best looking one of the whole lot while I was still trying to decide whether I wanted one or not. But hey, she provides a heck of a lot of free babysitting so I can't complain too much.

Besides, I got some pretty stuff, too. I'll post my pics in the next entry.

Take care all!


Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Book Review & Misc. Announcements

First off, thanks to everyone who e-mailed me about one of the projects in the latest issue of "Bead Style" magazine being a rip-off of my Shimmering Leaves designs. I appreciate the heads-up, really. However, after checking out the project in the magazine, I don't really think it was an intentional theft - simply a matter of two designers having access to the same beads. The magazine design is also a lariat style instead of a multi-strand necklace like mine and it also features wire and crystal charms which are not part of my design. Lastly, the magazine design is done on either an antiqued gold or a copper chain/wire and mine is done on gold-filled chain. But again, I do appreciate everyone who took the time to alert me!

Next, I'm sorry there haven't been any new pictures for a while. I'm still struggling with that same pair of $()%&*#! embroidered earrings. The tops are finally done and I just need to do the fringe to finish them off. I'm afraid they are not my best work and you'll see why when I finally can post a picture here. I just could never get the color combination quite right and honestly I finally got tired of ripping out beads and re-doing them. So, I just went with the last combination I came up with and while it's "okay," it's not spectacular. I don't have so much beading time that I can afford to keep fiddling with one project (and yeah, okay, so I'm just impatient, too). I hope to get them finished this weekend and get them posted. However, I also have a custom order that I've been working on for about a month now that HAS to get done this weekend and I'll TRY to get a pic of that one before it ships, too.

It's going to be a busy weekend at our house. Of course there's Ryan to be watched/entertained/parented and the grocery shopping/laundry/errands to be done. I have the two projects mentioned above, and also have a customer coming to the house tomorrow morning to pick up a repair and (hopefully!) order some more things. She's bringing some clothes to match - let's just hope the "right" beads are on hand! It's also a bead show weekend so I've got to find time to run up to the OC Fairgrounds to pick up some things I'm out of (and maybe more if things go REALLY well with the customer that morning LOL). Then Sunday, Dean has to go help my brother and my sister-in-law paint the nursery at their house for the baby they're expecting. I'm going to be an aunt in November! Then there's church and our usual Sunday night dinner with my parents and I'm sure there are several other things I'm forgetting, too.

Which brings me to this week's book review of Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon : Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom It's billed as what would happen if Buffy got married, moved to the suburbs and became a mom. It's also a disturbingly accurate portrayal of what it's like to be a mom to a 2 year old including the mentions of "Dora the Explorer" and dealing with poopy pants while shopping at Wal-Mart. While I enjoyed those aspects of the book, I'm afraid I can't give it a top-level endorsement because the plot and writing style are quite simplistic. They aren't bad - just not very sophisticated. I'm not sure if this is Ms. Kenner's first book or not, but it sure reads that way. It also really bugged me that Kate (the main character)'s husband is IMO kind of a creep. I would absolutely go nuts if my husband called me at 4 PM to have a cocktail party ready by 6:30 the same night. Not to mention the fact that I'd never agree to do it (and he'd never ask me to begin with because he KNOWS I'd never agree to do it). I was also somewhat disturbed by how blithely Kate drops her toddler into the first daycare that has a spot open...just because it's the only open spot. I didn't find that realistic from someone who's always been a full-time, stay-at-home mom up to that point. I also didn't find the save-the-day, watch-the-kid-and-have-my-back portrayal of the best friend (who conveniently lives in the house behind Kate) to be even remotely believable. I just don't know anyone who can drop their entire life at a moment's notice to watch someone else's toddler for a day (much less for three or four days). Apparently, Laura (the BF/neighbor) has no other life except to be around when Kate needs to free herself of her family responsibilities so she can go demon-hunting.

Still, it is quite humorous and, as I mentioned, the "day-in-the-life-of-a-mom" moments are dead on. I loved the 14 year old daughter and her sarcastic dialogue! So, all-in-all, I'd put this in the category of beach reading. It's light, funny and appropriate for a time when you're not going to be overly picky about perfect plotting and characterization.

Happy weekend, all!


Monday, August 01, 2005

It's Football Time!

It's time for Al Michaels and John Madden. It's time for hail Mary's and wicked blocks. And, most importantly, it's time for Brett Favre in tight yellow pants! That's right - it's time for the NFL 2005 schedule to begin THIS WEEKEND in Tokyo with the Hall of Fame game. I, for one, cannot wait. And yeah, okay, so pre-season is always kinda lame, but still it's better than no football at all or worse...the slow, painful hell that is baseball. Who decided that a bunch of overweight drug addicts standing around spitting and scratching themselves is a sport? Yes, I know, OCCASIONALLY, someone throws or catches or hits a ball, but by then I've usually lost interest and gone to get another beer or I'm stuck in the 18-mile-long line to the women's restroom where we're all waiting to get rid of the aforementioned beers. And besides, baseball doesn't have Brett Favre. Have I mentioned how good he looks in tight yellow pants? Yummm. Dear God, thank you for football. Amen.

Oh, and in addition to the NFL, it's only a month until my beloved (but beleaguered) UCLA Bruins return to the gridiron. I can only hope they've solved the problems that beset them last year and that we can beat the Trojans this year. It's been too long and it's time to end the drought. Go Bruins!

Now, if LA could only get an NFL team, my life would be complete...