Friday, May 29, 2009

Rings 'N Things Rocks!

Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments on the “Boys vs. Girls” blog entry. I’m glad you liked it. But, since it’s Friday, it’s time for some beady eye-candy, don’t you think?

Yeah, I think so, too. So, without further ado, let me share with you the trouble I got into at the Rings ‘N Things traveling bead show that hit town a couple of weeks ago…

The first couple of tables closest to the door were piled high with freshwater pearls of every size, shape and color. My own stash also has pearls of nearly every size, shape and color, but the one kind I didn’t have was stick pearls:

So, I bought some :-)

There are two major advantages to this particular show. One is, of course, the great prices – 50% off retail and then another 15% off that. You really can’t get much better. The other is the incredible variety of stones available. I find things at this show that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

Like “Dragonblood Jasper.” I mean, how can you NOT want to make something fabulous with this stone? Even the name is inspiring.

And then I found this “Firework Jasper”:

Which, I have to say, doesn’t really look like fireworks to me, but I loved the deep blue color swirled with the black. I think I can make something really dramatic with this. Especially if I mix it with some of this:

I know this jade is dyed, but the color was so luscious, I couldn't resist it.

So, after that, I had to live up to my one "show rule" which is to try to get stuff that goes against my natural inclinations (because if I don’t I’ll just have one overflowing room full of blue beads and nothing else). At least one strand of something at every show has to be different than what I would normally buy.

In this case, it was a couple of strands of “Mexican Crazy Lace Agate” in different shapes. I thought the creams, browns and grays in this stone would work well with some clay and porcelain beads I picked up earlier this year. There are also some darker pink and red areas that would look great with rose quartz or garnet. Pearls too, maybe.

And now we come to my two favorite things that I got at the show:

These beads are labeled as “Fired Agate,” but after some research I believe they are actually “Spiderweb Carnelian.” This is carnelian that has been heat treated to cause a crackled effect in the stone.

Here it is in another shape and color:

This version has been dyed to get the aqua color in addition to the heat treatment/crackle effect. It is also known as “Crab Fired Agate,” but I think “Spiderweb Carnelian” is a more accurate name. Either way, I just love how it looks and can’t wait to work with it. I would’ve bought more of it, but another shopper grabbed all the remaining strands out of the bin before I could get any more. :-(

Bead shows can be war, man! LOL!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Color Me Happy

I've long been a fan of Margie Deeb's amazing books about color for beaders and now I've learned that she's got FREE articles (and podcasts...if you are a pod-type person) on color on her website!


She's also got a great .pdf download on Pantone's Spring/Summer 2009 color forecast as it relates to beads and jewelrymaking. It's not free, but $9.50 seems pretty reasonable to me. Heck, if you are color-challenged like me, it's practically a life-saving bargain!

So, go forth and color!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boys vs. Girls

Somehow, when I was growing up and envisioning what it would be like to be a Mom, I always pictured girl stuff. Y’know, tea parties, stuffed animals, Barbies, lunch, shopping, getting our nails/hair/makeup done.

I did NOT, however, picture spending my entire holiday weekend doing experiments from something called the “Disgusting Science Kit.” Yes, that is the actual name. The other kit choices were “Magic Science”, a volcano experiment, a fossil dig kit and a marine science kit. But no, MY kid wants disgusting…and the disgusting-er, the better.

And what is “Disgusting Science” you ask? (Well, okay, I’m just assuming you’re asking because, of course, I’m going to tell you anyway. Hey, I had to LIVE it. You just have to read about it!) According to the lovely illustrations on the kit box, Disgusting Science involves:

1. Growing your own germs – cultures taken from various places on the kid’s body
2. Making fake snot
3. Simulating farts
4. Making fake blood and scabs
5. I drew the line at this experiment and we didn’t do it. A mom can only take so much!

So, we brewed up our own petri dish cultures and took swabs from four places on the kid: mouth, fingers, toes and underarms. I now have 4 dishes growing – er – well, I don’t know what that stuff is (and I don’t want to know) but it’s growing. And it is DEFINITELY disgusting.

*Note: showing the kid visual evidence of what is actually living on his fingers and toes has NOT in any way stopped his need to get them as filthy as possible and then stick them in his mouth. Sigh.

For the snot (plain gelatin and green food coloring) we had a choice of following the directions for “normal” or “extra chunky.” I’ll let you guess which one my kid picked.

Fake blood and scabs (see above paragraph about snot except change the food coloring to red).

And then there was the fart experiment. Which was really putting yeast and sugar and water and bread into a Ziploc and then watching it fill up with CO2 as a result of the yeast’s…um…byproducts.

My 6 year old son’s comment on this particular experiment: “Well, THAT was anticlimactic. I’m going to watch ‘Spongebob.’”

And yes, he really does talk like that.

Other gems from him this week include:

“You roll the dice, you pay the price.” Apparently, he has been hanging out with a Vegas mob boss or something.

And then there’s possibly my favorite joke of all time:

“What do you get when you cross a chicken with a poodle?”

Wait for it……………………..

“A cock-a-poodle-doo.”

I know, I’m his mom and I have to find (almost) everything he does unbearably cute, but c’mon…that is the BEST JOKE EVER.

And how am I going to relate all this to beads, you ask? ‘Cuz you KNOW you’re thinking “what the heck is she rambling about all this icky stuff for?” But watch me as I make the magic happen.

Well, as we were standing in the store looking at the various kits and I was trying (in vain) to interest him in ANY OTHER POSSIBLE CHOICE that would NOT involve me in making snot and farts, I ended up making a bargain that if I did his gross science thing, he would have to do an art project with me.

Because the kid HATES art. Here I have an entire crap…er…craft room full of every imaginable type of craft (I came to beading late by way of needlework, then general crafts and painting, and then rubber stamping) supply on the planet and I thought for sure we’d have fun with some of it, but he has basically zero interest. Actually, I think most of it is just not wanting to sit still that long because he has used my stamps…for about 2 seconds at a time…to tattoo himself and his clothes.

So anyway, he agreed. And I had just the project in mind. Tee Hee (evil Mommy laugh).

When I bought my stash of vintage Lucite flowers at the OC Bead Society Show last month, I bought a couple of strings of plain white, frosted flowers. Everything else is pastels, red or orange. I decided this palette was kind of limiting and started wondering if I could come up with a way to get other colors. About the same time, I came across an ad or article or something for Ranger Alcohol Inks and how they are permanent on hard surfaces such as plastic.


I bought some bottles of the ink in regular colors and also in silver and gold. The kid and I tested them on some glossy paper by painting with them, but neither of us was overwhelmed with the results.

Then I tried painting a flower with a color and a little bit of gold highlighting on top. Still just so-so.

So then we started just dripping them on the paper – a color plus a metallic together and wow…was there a totally cool reaction! The metallics and the regular colors sort of “fizz” and push each other around to make really neat designs.

I got out more of the Lucite flowers and the kid and I went to work drip-dropping all over them.

Here was the first test with just gold (and the flower is actually a super-pale pink):

Not sure if it was just the bottles I bought or if this is a product issue, but there was a much better reaction with the gold plus a color than with the silver. It just didn’t seem to “fizz” and react with the other inks quite as well.

I tried two different sizes of flowers, too:

The pansy shape didn't seem to lend itself to the ink flowing freely as well as the bigger flower shape did:

And I actually think the kid’s turned out the best of all:

He was a little freer with mixing colors than I was. Big surprise

I took these pictures right after the inks dried. I’ve since sprayed all the flowers with a glossy spray varnish and they look fantastic and are not sticky at all. I’m planning to get some small round resin beads and dye them to match the flowers so I can create some complete necklaces.

So, there you have it. My disgusting, yet still artsy, weekend.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Days off are so refreshing...

...and then you have to go back to work.


But at least I achieved my goal of getting some jewelry made and, as an added bonus, got the website updated as well.

I'm still having such a great time playing with all my new brass, gunmetal and brushed silver chain, filigree pieces and Lucite flowers that I just can't stop making stuff. Here are some of the newest pieces of my Memoire Collection:

Here's a close-up of the "bouquet" section:

The back:

And the coordinating earrings:

It's amazing how the use of the brushed silver chain just completely changes the whole feel as compared to when I use brass:

And the earrings - made these a little more "lush" by adding extra flowers:

And then I decided to experiment with a color palette that's WAY outside my comfort zone - orange and purple:

To go even further out of my safe little "zone", I tried to get a bit asymmetrical with this one by hanging a single dangle on one side only (I know, I know, I'm really living on the "edge" here, but if you only knew how hard it is for me not to make everything all "matchy-matchy" all the time, you'd know what a huge step this is for me):

And then I went REALLY hog wild and mixed dark gunmetal with pale pastel lavender, yellow and white and put flittering butterflies in asymmetrical spots (because, after all, butterflies don't care if they land in the exact most "balanced" spot, right? they're just looking for the best nectar):

Of course, there is one TEENY TINY issue I have with the Butterfly Blossom set, but so far, everyone tells me they can't see it unless I point out exactly what it is. So, I'm on the fence about whether or not I have to fix it (it's purely an aesthetic issue and nothing to do with the quality of the piece at all). So, I'm leaving it up to you - can anyone see what the issue is and if so, does it bug you enough that you think I should correct it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's FRIDAY! (on Thursday)

I’m declaring a Friday. And yes, I know, it’s a day early, but I’m taking tomorrow off in honor of the fact that it’s been a really crappy past few weeks (months) for me and I need some downtime. Hopefully, there will be jewelry-making. There will definitely be chick flicks, a pedicure and chocolate…or donuts…or chocolate donuts.

So, it’s Friday (go with me here, people). And in my world, Friday calls for some beady eye candy so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my finds from the OC Bead Society Show at the Bowers Museum a few weeks ago.

I had kinda decided to cool my jets on the whole beaded cab thing…until I saw these beauties at the first booth I went to (don’t you love/hate how beads can make you immediately toss ANY kind of resolution out the window?)

This gal has round a GREAT way to recycle beads that split in the kiln. She grinds the backs down and VOILA! perfect cabs for beading around.

Then I bought these cute dichroic pairs for making earrings from Karen Nan:

She’s more known for her fused glass pieces with the grooves cut around them to make them perfect for wireworking, but since I’m not much of a wire person – I can do simple and wrapped loops and that’s about it – I went for the pairs instead.

Then, of course, I had to get my porcelain fix on at the Lumina Inspirations booth:

Unfortunately, they were more picked over after coming back from Tucson than I had hoped so I wasn’t able to get as many of their new designs as I wanted. In fact, there was an awesome seahorse pendant that I was just reaching for when another shopper grabbed it before I could (boo! hiss!) and, of course, it was the last one.

They used to also carry a beautiful line of Russian lacquerwork beads and pendants, but that portion of the business has gone away so she only had a few pieces left:

I gotta have my pansies…always!

And speaking of pansies:

I found this beautiful pansy button along with some mother of pearl double-drilled rings (perfect for clasps for a two-strand necklace or bracelet, yes?) at the button booth.

Also found these stunning buttons at the same booth:

After the button booth, I came across a lampwork artist (and shame on me, I can’t find her card to give her a shout out here, but will add it as soon as I find the info…I KNOW it’s around here somewhere!) who had gorgeous things. All were WAY out of my price range except these spacer sets:

I love the “texture” that the frit effect provides. They look like stones.

Then I found the Jujee Beads booth. Oh boy, I got into SO MUCH TROUBLE there!

But seriously, can you really blame me? How gorgeous are these beads? And I am a sucker for anything “ocean-y” so really, there was no hope once I saw them

And, of course, all great jewelry designs need clasps so I took advantage of some great sale prices at the Jess Imports booth:

That oughta hold me for a while! Well…maybe.

Lastly, my big find of the show was a vendor selling all kinds of brass chain and findings and delicate Lucite flower strands to go with them and I was so inspired by the materials that it’s caused me to launch an entirely new section of my website (as you know if you’ve been reading for the last week or so).

Here’s another example from the new Memoire Collection:

Although this design doesn’t use the flowers, I thought the green garnet rondelle and carnelian round went particularly well with the brass chain. And more designs with flowers are coming – I’ve got several finished that I haven’t photographed yet.

Okay, that’s enough. I can’t wait to get home and spend my day off tomorrow playing with all my fun stuff!


P.S. If you thought this was a great haul…wait til you see what I bought at the Rings and Things show last weekend. Coming in a future post…(I know, I’m so mean).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is someone trying to tell us something?

I mostly don't get excited about earthquakes unless they're in the 6 or above range...because otherwise it's just like a big truck going by outside or an airplane passing low overhead. However, when we can't go 48 hours without having one...then I start to get a little annoyed.

Enough with the shaking, already! Do you know how hard it is to finish off that perfect wire wrap when my work surface is bouncing around? Sheesh!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MAY ABS - Butterfly Garden Bracelet

I'm entering this piece in the May Challenge - Monet's Water Lilies at the Art Bead Scene Blog. Wish me luck!

More Memoire

Thought I'd share a few more pieces from my new Memoire Collection:

Vintage lucite flowers, Swarovski crystals and pearls and brass chain make a great combination in this airy, feminine piece.

I think this clasp is probably my favorite part of the whole necklace. I just loved the design on it and am no kicking myself that I didn't buy more of them when I had a chance. Next paycheck, maybe.

This is a close-up of the centerpiece section.

Here are a pair of coordinating earrings:

I really love the delicate lucite flowers against the brass background. They mix so well together.

In fact, I liked it so much, I did another pair:

And another (I was kind of on a roll):

Okay, that's it for now. I wish I had more excitement in my life - I need blog content LOL!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Confessions of a lampwork addict...

Since my early bead newbie days when I nearly fainted the first time I picked up a lampwork bead and realized that yes, 1 bead did indeed cost $36.00, I've been fascinated by these tiny works of art and the amazing artists who create them. Even after taking a couple of lampwork classes myself, I still marvel at the fact that rods of glass can be turned into flowers, fish, birds, frogs, snails, entire underwater or spatial scenes and just about anything else the artist can imagine.

I'm always on the lookout for additions to my lampwork library and here are a few of my recent acquisitions:

Lovely blue glass tulip beads from blissfulgardenbeads on Etsy. I love pairs - so perfect for earrings!

I liked this design so much, I had to get a pair in pink as well.

A set from beadintrigue on Etsy - the colors were so yummy-looking that I couldn't resist them. They look just like candy!

Same artist and style of beads - but look how the change in colors changes the entire look and feel. This set is so much more girly and soft.

Obviously, I was on a roll. But seriously...can you blame me? LOOK at the COLORS!

Watermelon, anyone? Again, these look good enough to eat!

And finally, this gorgeous focal bead by koregon on Etsy:

I'm not sure why, but I see Kokopelli every time I look at this bead even though the design is actually more random and not a specific figure at all. I still see him, though. Perhaps I'm a bit woozy from staring at shiny beads for too long?