Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Light Goes Out

Just read that one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, passed away over the weekend. That makes the last of my "Big 3" (Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffrey) all gone to a wider place than this.

I can still remember exactly when and where I first picked up one of her books - the 7th grade library at Serrano Middle School. Lunchtime. We were only allowed to go two places during lunch: outside at the tables to eat or to the library. The outside tables were...not safe for me. I spent almost all of my junior high lunch breaks hiding...er...putting in extra reading time...in the library.

And there I picked up this weird-looking book with the gold dragon on the cover and entered the wonderful world of Pern for the first time. And really, once you've ridden dragon-back, you're hooked for life.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vacation Creations

I finally figured out what I needed in order to kick my muse into gear: VAY-CAY-SHUN! Seriously, it took one day of movies, a day of shopping, a day of eating (PIE!), and a day of lying around watching all my DVR'd shows and doing basically nothing for me to finally feel energized enough to get out the beads.

That is one serious de-stress plan!

But I guess I had a lot of pent-up creativity because once I started going...I just couldn't stop.

Here are the results:

I'm in love with these sort of blue-green lagoon-looking Czech glass rondelles. I had a whole strand and I used a few of them throughout the following earrings. This pair was sort of an end-of-the-day afterthought as I was trying to use up some of the leftovers on my work table (better to use 'em than to have to put 'em away LOL) I was trying to go for a sort of "messy" wire-wrap thing on the stick pearls...not sure I pulled it off (or maybe that's just my inner perfectionist griping). I named them "Pearl Lagoon."

And, as long as I was cleaning off the work surface, I thought I'd use up the last two of these purple Czech rondelles (you'll see the rest in a design later in this post) along with some pink chalcedony and some abalone shell beads. I needed to make a couple of pairs of earrings for a charity auction here at the office tomorrow and I thought these "Abalone Dangles" would be perfect for that.

These "Dragonfly Dangles" are another pair for the auction. Some of the last of my brass dragonflies along with a couple of faceted rhodonite rondelles. Simple and classic.

Here's another view of them.

I had these swirly flower disk beads in a dark chocolate brown color and used them in a bracelet and earring set last summer that came out really well so when I saw them in this ivory color, I grabbed them. Initially, I had them as the tops for a different earring design (the re-worked version is coming up), but that design ended up being a little over the top (I can get that way with earrings because I like 'em long or large and statement-making). So, off came the pink polymer clay flower art beads and I popped on these simpler faceted pink ceramic cubes. Less exciting, but more wearable. The flowers on the white beads sort of remind me of dahlias so I called these "Pink Dahlias."

Here's another view.

These flowers were originally going to be the bottom halves of the earrings I just showed. See what I mean about too much? Actually, these flowers were "too much" with a lot of things I tried with them. I ended up with a gigantic pile of "nope, that won't work" beads next to me trying to figure out what to put with them. I finally settled on these ivory shell rounds and some turquoise patinated bead caps from Patina Queen. They are still a little on the wild side and yet have that English vintage feeling, too, so I called them "Tea Party."

Here's a closeup of of the wonderful flower focal beads by Menagerie Studio.

Here's another view.

Similar focals from the same artist, but they are a little more subdued. The color is a bit off in the picture as they are more of a peach hue and not as vibrant. I used the brass dragonflies again and more of those "lagoon" Czech glass beads. Since this pair still reminded me of an English Tea, but in a more subtle way, I called them "Tea Roses."

Here's a close up of the flower focal.

And another view of the earrings.

This may be one of my favorites from this round of creation. I used brightly colored polymer clay squares in pink and green from Floridity, then added some mother of pearl shell flowers and wire-wrapped on some sparkling green lampwork. I have been trying for almost a year to set up a Hawaiian vacation for my extended family so I guess I had that tropical vibe going in my brain and this is how it decided to come out. The white shell flowers reminded me of plumeria flowers that are traditional for Hawaiian leis so I called this pair "Plumeria Leis."

Here's another view of them.

I loved all the earrings I'd made so far, but I noticed that there was a decided lack of glam and sparkle (and, okay, so my December "In Style" magazine had just arrived and I was drooling over the jewelry ads and seeing all the sparkley stones I'll never be able to afford). Had to grab these great 14k gold fill twisted hoop components (I've been seriously hoarding all my gold fill and, to a lesser extent, my sterling silver since the prices have gone so totally bananas...I know I'll never be able to afford some of these materials again!) And to them I added some tiny faceted lampwork nuggets in shades of amethyst and peach and small amethyst Swarovsky crystals as dangles.

The colors reminded me of sunset so these earrings have been christened "Sunset Sparkle."

Okay, I will 'fess up. I totally and completely ripped this design off from Shannon Levart of Miss Fickle Media. I couldn't help it - I fell in love with it on her site and had to make my own pair using her hammered copper flowers and patinated hummingbird charms. I did add my own creative touch by popping a sparkling Czech glass rondelle at the top. Originally, these were going to be for the charity auction (not for sale - I don't sell other people's designs), but frankly, they just came out too darned cute so I am keeping them for myself and hoping Shannon will not hate me too much for the copying. I decided that hummingirds could only be these color in a fantasy world so these earrings are called "Hummingbird Fantasy."

Here's another view.

And finally, here's the bracelet I wrote about in the last post - the one that was "on hold" while I figured out a solution to what I didn't like about it (plus, I didn't have a clasp that I thought would work with it). Shannon came to my rescue on the clasp issue as she included a wonderful freebie one in the package with the flowers and birds from the above earrings. It matched PERFECTLY in both color and sized. The rest of the bracelet is built around a polymer clay focal from Floridity, some gorgeous pink and brown "wheel" Czech glass disks, bleached wood slices and, of all things, brown shell dangles that used to be the "buttons" on ladies' shoes around the turn of the century. Years ago I bought a bag of these at the L.A. Gift show and have been hoarding them ever since. I thought it was time they made themselves useful. I call this design "Rosewood Bird."

Here's a closeup of the bird focal from Floridity.

I've been watching (and, yeah, okay, drooling) as LeAnn from Summer's Studio, Etc., started playing with bronze clay, but I was waiting for just the right design to strike my fancy. I finally found it with some pretty snowflake charms like this one and I turned the first one into this necklace by wire-wrapping some purple Czech glass rondelles (the same ones from the Abalonge earrings) onto patinated brass chain. The bronze is a bit tricky because it's darker than my normal gold findings, but not as dark as the brass. I got around this by using the darker brass chain and wire and then adding some brighter seed beads that are not quite gold, but still play up the highlights in the bronze. The purple beads reminded me of wintry shadows on snow so I named this "Twilight Snowfall."

Here's a closeup of the bronze snowflake pendant. I bought a second pendant from her with a slightly different snowflake and I made a necklace out of that one as well, but ran out of time to get it photographed. Hopefully, it will make its debut later this week.

Here's a closeup of the clasp...with my signature dangle.

And one last view. I'm loving this simple, but elegant design.

Whew! That was a lot of creating...and yet I'm sorry I ran out of time because I had more ideas and I know it will probably be a month before I get any more time to play. I'll have to hold out until then!

Hope everyon had a great Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 04, 2011

Rainy Friday Bead Porn

Yes, I know, it's neither rainy nor a Friday, but it was BOTH...two weeks ago when I originally started this post LOL!

As seems to be the mode for me right now, LIFE happened. Most notably the kid having emergency dental surgery (you know it's bad when you're in for a routine ortho visit and the nurse comes out and says "The Doctor would like to see Ryan's mom, please.").

Oh, and to make it just a perfect cherry-on-top sundae kind of event, I'd hit the annual $ limit on dental work for 2011 already (see previous rounds of dental surgery and fillings...I swear this kid has meth mouth without the meth) so yeah, this lovely bill came straight outta my pocket in its entirety.

Which is also why most of this bead porn? Purchased at least 6 months ago back when I had a bead budget.

I've looked at My Elements on Etsy a number of times, but held off taking the plunge until now. They have some really cool stuff, but it took me a while to decide how to meld it with my style. These frosted, colored rings were a perfect start.

Never one to buy just one color when I can get ALL the colors (I blame my friend Laura for teaching me to do this back when we both used to go to rubber stamp conventions together)...I got the same rings in bright pink, too.

They also had these unusual grass green tubes which I thought would make a unique design element if I can just figure out what I want to do with them.

I initially went to Aloha Bead to look at the amazing lampwork, but the shop has great Czech glass pieces, too, like these darling purpley-blue tiny flowers.

And these two-tone leaves.

And this great set of faceted Czech rondelles in shades of amethyst, citrine and peridot.

I was in a Czech glass mood so next I stopped off at Bead and Ribbon and found these watery long oval beads.

Same shape, but lavender and moss green colors. I was trying to get a head start on Spring designs.

I've been using a lot of this shape of bead in my designs - it's quickly become a favorite. This "seafoam topaz" colorway really caught my eye.

These beads always remind me of ammonite fossils and, like the wheel shape above, are starting to show up in the most unusual color combinations.

I started working a bracelet design with this pink and cream set over the weekend. I hit a bit of a snag around dinner time which I usually take as a sign that my brain is too tired to continue right at that moment. It's frustrating because I know it will probably be a whole week or more before I can get back to it. However, I've learned the hard way that continuing to push past that barrier usually leads to design or construction errors (which I then have to take apart and re-do). Plus, I sometimes get a new insight if I let a design sit for a while and look at it over a few days...I figure out that the proportion is wrong or there's not enough color contrast, etc.

So, here's hoping that flash of inspiration hits in time for the weekend (AND that I get the free time I'm hoping for).

Kristi Bowman's wonderful copper pieces are a new addiction. I love the shapes, the patina colors, everything!

Seriously, how cool are the snakeskin design? And, of course, these just beg to be made into long, dangly earrings...my FAVE!

I know these are supposed to be a floral design, but I see tiny bursts of fireworks in them.

Yeah, I now have at least a year's supply of Kristi's stuff (which turned out to be good planning on my part since bead $ is so scarce right now). I TOTALLY did that on purpose. You believe me, right?

I love the enamel work from Gardanne. This pair reminded me so much of the silver and turquoise concho belts that are such a part of the regional garb in Santa Fe where my family is from. I had a very small belt as a child (was my mother's when she was young) made of connected silver conchos each inlaid with a small turquoise stone. Nowadays, instead of the linked metal, the conchos slide onto a leather belt and fasten. Many of them are true works of art and are worth thousands of dollars.

Not only do I love butterflies, but that electric shade of blue is my favorite color.

And I love this teal with the white specks - reminds me of snow on evergreen trees.

Speaking of butterflies, I got this darling aqua and black dotted pair from Menagerie Studio.

And this pretty white and red flower...the beginning of a holiday design, maybe?

Polymer clay is so versatile...look how what Floridity is doing with it SOOOOO completely different from the Menagerie pieces!

This set I already used for the bracelet I created during my summer vacation. The soft blues, grays and ivories were just perfect for capturing those foggy beach days we had.

I've been collecting Barb's shells for a while now so when I saw this grab bag, I had to go for it to add to my collection. Plus...STARFISH! Score!

And continuing with my obsession with all things ocean-y...another starfish! This one in ceramic from Spirited Earth.

And this tiny ivory dolphin from the same store was just too cute to resist.

Lastly, a really unusual color palette of lampwork spacers from Blue Seraphim. She called it "Midnight Orchid" which I thought was a really cool name.

So, that's it for my "rainy Friday" bead porn. Whether it's actually raining at your house right now or whether, like me, you're just experiencing some stormy weather in your soul, I hope it brought you some cheer.

Next post will be...whenever I have time LOL!


P.S. For those who've been asking about Ryan...he has an appointment this week to get an EKG. His doctor wanted to make sure he had no heart issues prior to starting him on the ADD meds. So, progress on that front, but the doctor I was referred to in order to actually GET the prescription wanted to re-do all of Ryan's psych testing (and only charge me a paltry $450-not-covered-by-insurance to do it). Ummm....NO. I'm trying to work around that roadblock right now. In the meantime, I have Ryan's parent-teacher conference this Friday which I am NOT looking forward to as I suspect it's not going to be good.

As if all that wasn't enough, Ryan's dad hit me up yesterday for the umpteenth time about letting Ryan resume visits to his house (which is now two hours away and which he shares with the person who has had him arrested for domestic violence 3 times). Granted, it's been about two years since the last arrest, but I'm really struggling with the idea of trusting them again. I'd love to hear your opinions...am I being over-protective, crazy, ex-wife-ish, should I at least consider it or am I doing the right thing to hold the line?

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers!