Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And the bead(ing) goes on...

I am having the BEST time with Julie Cloud Eakin’s “Beading Around Cabochons” book! I have been sans inspiration for so long that it’s great to feel the creative fire roaring again. I can’t say enough about this book – it’s taken my bead embroidery skills to a whole new level in less than a week. I find her cab beading technique to be far superior to the technique I had been using previously. By not using peyote stitch for the bezel, you get a much cleaner, more tailored design and the beauty of the cab takes center stage.

OOOOHHHH…and I just realized I can adapt these new techniques to my cuff bracelets!

Woo hoo!

It’s also been great to expand my edging technique repertoire. Previously, I had always used a picot stitch and been pretty happy with it, but Eakin’s book opens up a whole new world of edging and embellishment possibilities. The fabulous array of photos is a big help, too.

To help get the “fire” lit, I also picked up Sandra Wallace’s "The Beader's Color Mixing Directory." I don’t have any formal art training (unless you count that time I failed 7th grade art class and my parents made me drop it so it wouldn’t ruin my GPA any more) and so my knowledge of color theory is pretty much limited to “blue and yellow make green.” Even the kid has passed that stage in pre-school. I want to become more sophisticated in creating my color schemes as well as have the ability to branch out from my “safety” zone of cool, ocean-based colors.

This book was a great place to start on my expanded color journey. Not only does Wallace do a great job explaining basic color theory, but the color “recipes” she provides are extremely helpful for someone like me who wants to be more adventurous with color choices, but isn’t sure where to start. I’m using her “Rose Garden” recipe for my second pair of beaded cab earrings.

About the only drawback I’ve found to using this book is that if you want to re-create a recipe or project exactly (which is what I usually do when I’m first exploring new ideas in cooking OR in beading – follow the directions exactly the first time til you get it down and THEN experiment) it can be difficult if your LBS is way low on seed bead stock.

Which mine was this weekend.

Which put a HUGE crimp in my creative plans.

I mean, really, how can you let your seed bead selection get almost totally picked over? How can you run out of size 11 plain black or S/L gold for heaven’s sake? Those are like so totally BASIC!


Anyway, I soldiered on despite the supply issues and produced my first pair of beaded cab earrings using the new techniques:

Not quite the color scheme I had in mind when I started out, but I had to improvise and I think they still turned out rather well. Finding matching sets of cabs for earrings (same size, color and dome slope) can be a challenge as well. All four of these cabs are red agate and I picked them up at a bead show a while ago after spending an hour picking through the cabs to make matching pairs.

Coming tomorrow - new bead pics!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A cool thing happened to me on the way to the beach.

I meant to write about this a couple of weeks ago when it first happened, but y’know, life stuff got in the way. Still, it was one of the cooler things I’ve ever gotten to experience so I wanted to make sure to share the story.

It being summer in Southern California, the kidlet and I have been hanging out at the beach.

A lot.

He has a blast. It’s free. It’s great exercise for both of us and I believe that we’ve now caught every single sand crab between Main Beach and Corona Del Mar. He never gets tired of catching them. I should’ve known that would happen – after all, the kid spent about 2 years out of his 4 year existence being utterly fascinated by snails.

Well, apparently, sand crab is the new snail.

Oh, and I SOOOO went way up on the “cool-o-meter” when I showed him how to catch them. I rock.

But, I also digress.

So, a couple of weeks ago, the kid and I headed out to my favorite beach in north Laguna called Crescent Bay. It’s prime sand crab territory don’tcha know. As we head down the hill to the beach, I realize there’s a big crowd on the sand and some chick is talking away on a megaphone although I’m not yet close enough to hear what she’s saying. Now, this being Laguna, it could be anything from a wedding to an injured surfer to some weird sea creature (yes, I’ve seen a couple, but that’s another story) getting coughed up on the sand to the Laguna Beach Hare Krishnas doing their daily dance or whatever.

But as we get closer, I see a vehicle parked out on the sand, with the logo of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center on the side and two cages being offloaded onto the beach. We’d walked right into the release party for two rehabilitated California sea lions!

We got to watch them open the doors on the cages and see the two pups head for the waves. Well, one of them headed for the waves. The other decided he liked his cage and all the free fish just fine and had to be persuaded to go, but once he got into the water he and the other sea lion had a great time playing in the waves and then heading off to the rocks where the rest of the wild sea lions hang out.

The Rescue Center is located right on Laguna Canyon Road and while I knew they did animal releases on the beach, I’ve never been privileged to actually witness one live before. It looks like they don’t have pictures of this particular event on the website yet, but the pics from their April release are on the same beach (Crescent Bay) and the animals are about the same size and weight as the ones I saw released so you can get an idea by checking out this page.

I just love days like that where you randomly happen onto something cool!


P.S. The center really does fantastic work and has been around for a long time. It’s part of a national network of marine mammal rescue centers and is definitely a worthy cause if you are looking for something to donate to.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wait, didn't this blog used to be about jewelry?

Why, yes, yes it did.

Remember way back in November when I finished the lavender embroidered bracelet and started this new bracelet?

Yeah, I hardly remember it either.

And now that I finally have said new (and functioning!) digital camera, I'm proud to get this blog back on track. Of course, the new camera has far too many buttons and thingymabobs that will probably require me to take some sort of four year degree program to understand them before I can safely use it without opening a hole in the space-time continuum (continuoum? whatever.) or accidentally beaming myself to Jupiter or something.

But, all fears for the safety of the universe as we know aside, I was able to make enough progress with the technology to FINALLY take pictures of the lavender bracelet that was finished, oh I don’t know, EIGHT FREAKIN’ MONTHS AGO!

Here's a close-up of the front of the bracelet showing the center cab of fused glass:

Here's a side shot:

The accent beads are lavender pearls.

Here's another front view:

And a shot of the other side:

Lastly, here's a shot of how it looks being worn.

Wonder Woman has nothing on me - I could block rocket grenades with this thing ;-)

Also, the black bracelet? Wasn’t turning out as well as I had hoped. So I ripped out some of it and re-did it. And then I didn’t like that version either and ripped it out and re-did it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And so on.

But, I’m finally working on a version that I don’t totally hate:

Here's a close-up view:

I’m using more non-seed beads this time. The seed beads that are being used are mostly 11’s as opposed to the 15’s I used in previous projects for which my eyesight is profoundly grateful. Lastly, this project has some ruffles…little loops of five or seven beads to add some dimension and “fluff.” I think I’m also getting a little bit better with my spacing and not crowding everything so tightly together. I’m excited to see how this one turns out. Hopefully, once it’s done, I can finally move on to some other projects. This thing has been clogging up the works for a long time (a long time being previously defined above as eight months!) so I look forward to getting it finished.
Lastly, as part of my crusade to turn my attention back to jewelry-making, I purchased a couple of beading books last week. I've only had time to get into one of them so far, but OH...MY...GOD! The project pictures alone are to die for. I've had to tie on a bib to stop me from drooling on the pages.
So, what is this fabulouse repository of eye candy, you ask? It's "Beading with Cabochons" by Jamie Cloud Eakin. Although I haven't made it past the first few pages of the basic part of the instructions (too busy looking at and drooling over the project pics), already I've learned that she has a completely different technique for beading around cabs than I do. She doesn't use a peyote bezel and she has a whole treasure trove of different edging techniques that I think will really be invaluable to me as I adapt them for future projects. Plus, with all the years of experience and experimentation that she can draw from, I've already picked up a lot of tips and tricks to solve those nagging little problems that keep a good piece from being truly great.
Oh, and did I mention the pictures are fantabulous? The book is worth buying for those alone.
The other book I bought is about color and I haven't read it yet, but will review it in future issues.
P.S. Apologies for the long time between entries. I had thought life was done kicking me in the teeth, but apparently that was an overly optimistic estimate. It seems some people are inherently incapable of exercising even the most basic aspects of courtesy and respect and I need to YET AGAIN lower my expectations in this area.
Except, I'm not sure how much lower than "boil on an amoeba's butt" one can get. Hey, that just gave me an idea for a contest. Free pair of earrings (my choice) to the person who comes up with the best "how low can he go" description and e-mails it to me or posts it here. Have fun!