Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's not spring, it feels like summer!

It's been a crazy weekend here, with temperatures up in the 90s. Yes, you read that correctly - the 90s!!! But as I sit here, I am watching the clouds rolling in over the mountains a few miles west of here, so with any luck, things will cool off after the storms they are predicting this afternoon.

Anyway, I think I mentioned before that I am now involved with a program thought Artbeads.com that they call "Blogging for Beads". They send me great new products to test, and I blog about them! I think it's a pretty cool deal. I received my first package of beads from them a little over a week ago, and finally had a chance to sit down with them this past weekend.

These little beauties are made by Toho. They are called hybrid beads, because after the glass seed bead was made by Toho, they were sent to the Czech Republic where traditional bead finishes were applied. The colors I recieved were stunning! Everything from a marbled hematite to a gorgeous transparent pink and gold luster. I came up with the perfect project for them, which I am finishing up after I finish this blog post, and I will post the directions and the supply list later. They really are incredibly consistent in size and color. I think I'm going to have to order a larger quantity of one color, as it's going to work out perfectly for another larger-scale project I have going on right now.

They are incredible for beadweaving. I used them to make a sample for another project I'm working on right now, and they click together almost as nicely as the Toho cylinder beads, but because they are slightly rounder, they give the work a more organic feel. And those colors - wow! The finishes are just beautiful.

Once I complete the project later this weekend, I'll make sure I post full directions and a printer-friendly file for you to download and share.

Tom is in the kitchen making dinner for us tonight. We're having Breakfast For Dinner - omelet made with our fresh eggs, Tom's killer homemade pancakes, oven-fried potatoes, and of course, our homemade maple syrup!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is it spring yet or what?

Well, we had a couple of nice-ish days, some sun, temperatures slowly climbing out of the forties, and then this morning, SNOW! But, it's to be expected in the mountains, and I wouldn't have it any other way, even when I've got Spring Fever and I've got it bad!

This spring, we did a few things to celebrate the changing of the seasons. First, I went up to the local tractor supply store and bought a dozen new baby chicks to supplement our flock of ten laying hens. We love the fresh eggs, and Colden loves watched the chickens! These little sweeties were adorable, all fluffed out - by now, they're almost ready to go outside during the day, as soon as the temperatures warm up a bit more.

Tom tried something new this year, too - his father brought home a little plastic bag full of metal cones. When Tom looked at them, he realized that they were taps for trees to get sap. So he went out to the little strip of forest at the very back of our property and tapped the trees to get sap to make maple syrup. It was quite an adventure - lugging back big, heavy pails and jugs full of sap, and then boiling it all down. Tom decided the best place to do most of the boiling was out in the garage, and he set up a little station with our portable grill that just happens to have a gas burner on it.
First, he filtered it to strain out any stray bugs or other nasties, and then it went into the large metal pot you see steaming in the picture. After he boiled it down to a fairly low level in the pot, he brought it into the house and did a final slow simmer on the stove until the syrup was thick and dark. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, and I think we ended up with about a gallon and a half of syrup, including the bottles we gave away.

The forecast for tomorrow is going to be warm, in the 70s, and reaching 80 on Saturday! I am excited about the prospect of being able to open all the windows in the house again, but at the same time, I don't want it to get any warmer than that. I am a cold-weather creature, for sure!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I know when to give up.

And it was yesterday! After dreaming about this project for over a year, and working on one particular ring for over 2 weeks, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to give it up for now.

I got this idea to make a series of beadwoven Jewish wedding rings from one of my favorite books, "Ancient and Folk Jewelry". It's more like a scholarly compilation of photographs of jewelry from all around the world dating back to ancient times, and it's got some incredible stuff in there. There was an entire page of Jewish wedding rings from the 13th - 15th centuries, and I just thought how beautiful they would look stitched up in tiny size 15 seed beads. So, I finally ordered some size 15 seed beads a few months ago, and then sat down to make the rings.

The first ring came out beautifully! I made it from gold-plated size 15 seed beads, and it fits the ring finger on my right hand perfectly. I wore it around to test it out to make sure it was durable, and got lots of compliments. My husband, who is not fond of large, bold jewelry, told me it looked like a "Wonder Woman" ring. I took that as a compliment! So I embarked on the more ambitious sculptural ring with a tiny structure that was supposed to be the Temple at Jerusalem, true to the original ring which was made in Italy sometime in the 14th century.

Well. I made all the sides and walls and roof for the temple. Then I found that because I had used Nymo D from a big cone that it filled up the tiny beads too quickly and I couldn't get the needle through to attach all the parts! So I remade all the parts using size B thread and managed to get the four walls attached to the base. I stitched the parts for the roof, and then stitched the embellishment around the walls on the base. Well, after I finished embellishing the base, I realized that there was once again too much thread in the bead holes and I couldn't get the needle through to attach the base to the ring band!

At that point, I decided to throw in the towel and embellish the band that I had already made as a simpler version of the first ring. I was feeling tired and frustrated, and I didn't really want to tear everything out and start all over. The other problem that I had was that when I used the Nymo B to make the walls and roof of the temple, the pieces were very flimsy, even after they were full of thread. So I'm going to have to let it sit for now in my UFO drawer, and I'll pull it out when I need something to work on at the farmers' markets and craft shows this summer.

For now, here are the two rings that I did manage to complete successfully:

I am also trying to find a better way to work, again. I moved my operations from the dining room table a few months ago in an effort to make sure we had a place to eat dinner. But the little table that I got at Target doesn't always work well. For starters, it's small. It gets crowded very easily, and I find that I am afraid of moving things around in case something critical gets knocked off, like a glass of water or juice! (Or wine!) It's also not very sturdy, and when Colden is crawling around and being a generally curious little kid, he can easily pull my piece of Velux right down onto the floor, spilling everything on the pad and knocking down the entire table. So my next brainstorm is to get a lap tray or a lap desk and glue a piece of Velux to it. I'd like to find one that has little walls around it so that if it does get bumped around, the worst that will happen is my beads will get mixed up and I won't be crawling around on the floor looking for that last 3mm bicone that I need to finish the project! I'm hoping I can sweet talk Tom into making something for me - he's really great with stuff like that, and he'd rather make something for me instead of having me buy it from someone else!

This is what my dining room table looked like last night after putting in several hours of beading. Luckily, it was just me and Colden at dinner - Tom was outside taking the snow tires off the cars.

So, I'm off to rehearsal with the ladies this afternoon with Colden, and then I actually have to COOK something for dinner tonight! After living off leftovers for a week, we finally ran out last night! But I whipped up a quick dinner of hummus, veggie sticks, and Mediterranean rice.

Waiting for the nice weather this weekend - they are predicting sunny and 70s, so I am hoping we can get out to the park for a few rounds on the swings and I can get some exercise in, too!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Interview with Funny People Co from Etsy!

As promised, here is the first of several interviews I did with some of my fellow Etsy sellers! I came up with twelve questions for each seller who wanted to be featured on my blog, and they did a great job answering them for me.

Our first seller, FunnyPeopleCo, creates funky, cool jewelry and accessories. She's also including a free surprise gift with every order she receives in April, so you still have a few days left to take advantage of that offer! Here is my interview with FunnyPeopleCo:

1. What is the name of your shop and what items do you sell?
My Shop name's FunnyPeopleCo and I sell fashion accessories for teens and 20 somethings.

2. How did you get started in your art/craft?
Since forever, always loved designing clothes and accessories; I started fashion school a few months ago.

3. Where are you located?
I'm located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

4. Do you have a day job or is your art/craft your primary source of income? If you do have a day job, what is it?
I have a day job, I'm a math tutor at a tutoring center.

5. What is your favorite part of your art/craft?
The creativity and freedom to make something and have people love it well enough to wear it!

6. What is your least favorite part of your art/craft?

7. Do you listen to music or watch t.v. while you work? What do you like to have on in the background?
Usually, I'm listening to music, jazz or eurodance (don't know why eurodance but it makes me really hype and more creative).

8. Given all the bad news circulating about the state of the economy lately, how do you see handmade items fitting in? Are they more or less important?
I believe there will always be room for handmade since it's unique and people like to feel that way, that they have something precious that no one else does.

9. What inspires you? What motivates you to create?
Anything! Sometimes just looking at the sky I get hit with ideas.

10. What are your favorite materials to work with? If you are a visual artist, what colors inspire you? If you are another type of artist, are there any scents/sights/sounds that inform your work?
I love pastels, pinks, light greens, purple, colors that you may find in a teens' room (and mine btw).

11. What is your favorite season and why?
I love winter, the cold, the colors, views, scents, tastes everything about it.

12. And because I’m such a foodie, if you could have anything you wanted for dinner, cooked to perfection, exactly the way you like it, what would it be?
Plain ol' mac & cheese with bacon bits, mashed potatoes and butter and corn!

Please take a minute to visit her shop at http://www.funnypeopleco.etsy.com and check out her beautiful work. Fun stuff!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I've been so bad this week...

It's been a hard week for me this week, trying to keep on top of things, mainly because Colden has not been sleeping for the last five nights. Last night was the absolute worst - he would wake up, it would take me fifteen minutes to get him to go back to sleep, and then half an hour later as I was finally feeling relaxed enough to maybe shut my eyes, he was wide awake again. Horrible. I have started wondering just how much sleep deprivation a human being can take. I find that lately towards the end of the day not only am I totally physically exhausted, but I can't concentrate at all. It's all I can do to lie in bed and try to follow the plot of a movie or t.v. show.

So earlier this week, I called our local library and asked if they could get me a copy of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers. I know there are lots of people who swear that they just let their kids cry it out and it worked in no time, but I am not one of those people who can let my kid cry like that. I just can't. To me, it just seems cruel, and I am not one who is into cruelty. It's one thing to let him cry and fuss a little while Tom or I are holding him or rocking him or trying to soothe him - it's quite another to toss him in the crib, turn out the lights, and let him cry himself to exhaustion. I just can't bring myself to do that to my kid.

I started reading the book after I picked it up from the library on Saturday, all the while thinking to myself, man, this is a looooooooong book, when am I going to have time to read it? But I did find that they had a chapter all about what to do when your little nursling just wants to nurse every time they wake up, all night long (a big problem for us!) and how to create a more relaxing bedtime routine. Starting tonight, we are changing our bedtime routine, just a little bit each night, to reach the ultimate goal: to get Colden to go to sleep on his own, and for him to be able to get himself back to sleep if he does wake up in the middle of the night.

My mother in law said to me that at least I'm not alone, if there are enough folks in the world who have problems getting their kids to sleep so that someone has to write a book about it! That does make me feel a little better, that at least I'm not all alone in this, even though it certainly feels like it.

I have to admit, I am really starting to feel the sleep deprivation these days. I am incredibly cranky when I am trying to get things done because I always feel like I can't stay on top of things, I don't feel like I can concentrate on anything very well for any length of time (hence the reason I have torn out the sculptural part of the beaded wedding ring six times this week), I find myself reliving everything I have ever done wrong or ever messed up in my life and beating myself up for it, and I am starting to feel like I can't do anything right anymore. I really think that all this negativity is because I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a year - the longest stretch we've gone since last spring is four hours. And that's just not enough. And it's not like I can take a little nap in the middle of the day anymore - now that I'm back rehearsing with my group, trying to start the Etsy Team, the ArtFire Beadweavers' Guild, and trying to work with the marketing consultant and doing color studies with Margie Deeb (which is a whole lot of fun, by the way!), not to mention running after Colden and trying to make items for sale on my Etsy and ArtFire shops and getting ready for my show season in less than a month, I just can't stop to take a nap every day, or I'll never get anything done.

So, I've written up my new sleep plan with my goals. The ultimate goal is to get my kid to sleep for at least ten hours on his own at night. The author says it takes time - around 30 days - to really see results, but I can handle another 30 days of this if I know that the ultimate reward will be the first good night's sleep that I've had in over a year.

Okay. Now that I've vented about my sleep deprivation woes, I can move on, right?

This week, I am going to start the feature that I promised I was going to start a long time ago - and that's featuring other sellers from Etsy and ArtFire on my blog! I have a few to start with, and anyone who reads this who sells their work on Etsy or ArtFire should contact me or leave a comment on my blog if they want to be featured in the future!

I read on Marcia DeCoster's blog that she has Swarovski crystal ear bud headphones... Where the heck do I get a pair of THOSE?!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ADK Etsy Team - our first meeting!

So, a little background for you: on Etsy, there are these things called "Teams" which are groups of sellers who have something in common - they all make a similar craft, use the same medium (like beads!) or are all from the same geographic region. I had been looking and looking to see if there was a team for those of us from the Adirondacks, since this is such a huge area, and I knew that there were a wide range of artists and craftspeople in the area who sold their work on Etsy. To my surprise, no one had started an Etsy Team for the Adirondacks yet! So, being the "take-charge" kinda person that I am (yeah, right!), I decided to start one. I sent messages to about 35 sellers, and got responses from 25. Six of us met together for the first time the night before last, and it was great!

We had a great range of people at the table - there was one woman from Croghan, out near Canton (which is the only major town that I can think of near there), a couple of folks from Plattsburgh, and me from Jay. We met at the Great Adirondack Soup Company on Oak Street in Plattsburgh, which has always been one of my favorite places for soup and a sandwich, but sadly, I haven't eaten there in YEARS because I'm never in Plattsburgh at lunchtime anymore!

At any rate, we met and talked for about two and a half hours, and I came away with a bunch of typed notes that still won't make any sense until I re-write them out, and a whole lot of ideas for the group. I was amazed and pleased that there are so many talented people in such a variety of mediums - mixed media art, fabric art, spinning, dyeing, basketry, jewelry, crocheting and knitting, and of course, traditional Adirondack rustic-style furniture. Someone pointed out that it was great to see so many working artists who didn't necessarily create what is considered "traditional" Adirondack art.

So now, among the other things that I need to get going, I will be writing up the notes and compiling a list of shows and internet resources for the artists in our group. I'm hoping to somehow get the Northern Adirondack Trading Cooperative involved, because a lot of us want to participate in more online marketing classes and maybe a marketing idea exchange. (Oh, that's a good one!)

The other thing that's very exciting for me is that I am going to be participating in Artbeads.com's "Blogging for Beads" program. I will be getting beads from them, using them to create projects, and then posting reviews of the products here on my blog. I got a notification that my first shipment has been sent, so I'm looking forward to receiving it so I can share! Give me any excuse to play with beads and then write about them, and I will.

And today is a perfectly beautiful day here in the Adirondacks. It is sixty degrees out right now, sunny and clear, and it finally feels like spring! Colden and I went to Plattsburgh this morning because we were almost out of diapers, and on the way home as I was driving down I-87, I could see clear into Vermont across Lake Champlain. I would have taken a photo with my camera, but ya know, I thought it would be better if I kept both hands on the wheel with the baby in the car!

So for this afternoon, more beading and then writing up my notes from the ADK Etsy Team. Anyone who is interested in the team can see our Yahoo Group by clicking on the link.

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday - it's almost the weekend, yay!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaching this summer!

There is so much going on that I want to write about, but I have to limit myself to one topic per day, otherwise this blog would morph into something like the blob!

Last night, I spoke to the organizer of the Syracuse Gem & Mineral Show, and I am honored and flattered to be teaching there this summer. This is a brand new thing for the folks that organize the show - they have never offered classes, workshops or lectures before! So I'm very excited that I will be teaching a half-day workshop on Sunday, July 12 from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. You can find more information about the Syracuse Gem & Mineral Show on their website. The show will be held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse - directions and information can be found on the Syracuse Gem & Mineral Society's website. I'll also have two cases full of my work for sale at the show!

I don't know what I'm going to be teaching yet, but since it's a short class, I am leaning towards either my Easy Elegance right angle weave earrings or Tallulah's Pearls - they can both be taught in a relatively short amount of time. Or, I might do a short class on capturing a cabochon with peyote stitch. I'm open to suggestions!

The other venue where I'll be teaching, and I'm also very excited about this one, is at Interweave's BeadFest Philadelphia! I am teaching two classes there - Tallulah's Pearls (pictured above) and my Byzantine Neckpiece. (I have to apologize for the small thumbnail - I don't know what happened to my full-size photo of the piece!) But you can see photos of the pieces on the BeadFest Philadelphia website. The dates for BeadFest are August 21-23. Tallulah's Pearls (also called the Venus Necklace) will be taught on Saturday, August 22 from 5 - 8 p.m. The Byzantine Neckpiece will be taught on Sunday, August 23 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Classes fill up quickly, so if you are interested, sign up soon! I am already picking out what classes I want to take at BeadFest, and I think I've settled on a lampworking class and a bead stitching class. I haven't been able to attend BeadFest since 2003, so I'm really looking forward to it this year!

Tonight, I am hosting the first meeting of the Adirondack Etsy Team that I am putting together. There are so many of us who make such a variety of beautiful things, and the closest Team I could find on Etsy was for Central New York! Not quite what I had in mind, so I'm starting my own. I think there will be about eight of us there tonight at the Great Adirondack Soup Company on Oak Street in Plattsburgh. But that's another post for tomorrow! Like I said, lots going on that I want to write about!

On that note, I am off to do everything else I need to do today. Colden and I have to go to the store and buy some milk and bread for lunch, go to the library and the post office, and get him to take a nap! And then I need to finish up some freelance work I'm doing, keep beading on those wedding rings, get together my new submissions for Beadwork and Step By Step Beads, and finish putting my music into iTunes on my new laptop. It's only taken me two months to get the music transferred onto my new laptop. When I tried to backup all 15 GB of music on my iTunes, it told me that it would take 21 blank cds. I decided not to go that route and to just copy what I could onto my thumb drives and then just import the rest of them all over again. So far, I've got 262 albums in there, and I'm about half done. Just a few more to go!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So much to do, so little time...

Feels like every day, I always leave a million things undone. Whether it's the cleaning or the laundry or something else for the business (like doing the books - eeks!), by the time Colden goes down for the night, I'm faced with a dilemma: catch up on some much-needed sleep or sit in front of the computer for a few hours more and try to be productive? Last night, I just gave up - after sitting in front of the computer for forty five minutes and realizing that I had just re-read the same line over about six times, I checked out Facebook and then started playing a computer game. Not exactly what you'd call productive.

But this morning, I FINALLY finished cleaning out the closet in Colden's room that I've been meaning to clean out for like two years now. I took six bags of clothing to the thrift shop, and I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. Tom has Colden in the backpack, fast asleep, and is doing the floors as I put my feet up for a few minutes before I go start lunch for us.

We're hoping the chickens give us a few more eggs before we start hard-boiling them this afternoon for decorating at Tom's parents' house tomorrow afternoon. We thought they might like to watch their grandson color eggs, even if Mommy and Daddy are doing most of it! Last year, we postponed Easter by a week because I was sick in bed with mastitis and was just so exhausted that I could barely move. We decorated eggs the week after Easter, and then had our big Easter feast with his folks that same weekend. Colden, as I recall, sat in his baby swing and watched us color eggs until he had one of his infamous ass-plosions that required a hosing off in the bathtub! Aaah, those were the days.

Anyway, I finally got to watch the end of "Marley and Me" this morning while Tom was out trying to scare up a few colonies of bees for us for this summer. It was totally something I could relate to - even if I don't quite look like Jennifer Aniston and I'm not exactly married to Owen Wilson. Ha! But the whole thing just really rang true to me - the early days of being a parent, forming an attachment to your pooch, trying to figure out what you want out of life - those themes are universal. And they portrayed them so well. I swear my husband and I have had those same arguments that John and Jen had in the movie, verbatim. I wish I could get Tom to watch it, but he doesn't want to see the end.

Since I'm not going to be doing much else this weekend, I'll just post a picture of the piece that Beadwork wants to publish in their Feb/March 2010 issue. I call it "Ode to a Grecian Urn", but I don't know what they will rename it for publication! So, here's hoping that everyone has a wonderful Passover and Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What did I do today?

No, seriously, I'm trying to figure out what I did today...

It feels like I just woke up, but as I write this, it's almost 9:45 p.m.

We woke up at a reasonable time this morning - around 7 a.m. - and we went and had some breakfast while I checked my email and Colden practiced walking around the kitchen like Frankenstein with his arms high above his head. I called the Tractor Supply store in Plattsburgh to find out if the baby chickens had arrived, and they had! So my next call was to Sandy (at 8 a.m., I was hoping that I didn't wake her up!) to see what time they wanted to come give me and Colden a ride to Plattsburgh.

We bought a dozen baby chicks - so sweet! They had three aluminum tubs full of baby chicks, all under heat lamps. You could hear them as soon as you walked in the store. I also picked up a 50-lb bag of chick mash, which we probably won't finish, but it was either a 5-lb bag or a 50, so I went with the 50!

When we got home, Tom's dad, thankfully, hung out with Colden while I went out to the chicken coop and got the babies settled in the brooder that Tom had made for them. It was frustrating trying to keep the temperature at the right level - it was 102 under the light when I got in there, but as soon as I lifted it up even a fraction of an inch, the temperature dropped down to 80! In the end, we decided that it would be better if we left the temperature warmer right under the heat lamp, since there was plenty of room for the babies to walk away and cool off, and if they did get too cold, they could always huddle underneath the heat lamp for a while.

So, after I lugged up the 50-lb bag of chicken feed and finished with the new babies, I came inside and gave Colden a snack, caught up on my email, and then got Colden some lunch. I wasn't terribly hungry (still tasting the garlic knots from last night's dinner!), so I kept working on editing my photos while Colden ate and fed Moose.

After lunch, I continued working on re-sizing my photos. There has got to be a better way to re-size 260 photos without having to do each one individually!

When Colden finally conked out for his nap around 3:00 p.m., I picked up my latest beading project and kept working on it. I am trying to find a way to simulate the granulation of 14th century Jewish wedding rings with size 15 seed beads and 3.5mm bead caps. I think I've figured it out, but we shall see...

Tom got home around 3:30 and told me that his new motorcycle helmet had come in and that he was going up to Plattsburgh to pick it up. I didn't want to go because Colden was still asleep, and I didn't want to wake him up, and I still had 130 photos to re-size! Tom came home around 5 with his new helmet which, thankfully, fits him! By that time, it was getting to be time for dinner, so I reheated last night's leftover pizza (and garlic knots!) and fed Colden. Our friend Rob and his two stepkids came over for a visit after their trip to Delaware, and they were all excited to see the new baby chicks.

While I was eating dinner, I realized that I had left the baby seat in Sandy and Tom's van! I need it to go to Lake Placid tomorrow to do my errands, so it was back out in the cold (and snow) to their house to drop off half a dozen eggs and get the baby seat.

When I got home, I made out a new to-do list for the rest of the week and then got Colden into his pajamas, got into my pajamas, and finished editing the photographs. (Hooray!)

So, without further ado...

Coming exclusively to my ArtFire store sometime over the next few days, here is my latest line of fused glass jewelry:

I'm actually quite proud of these little lovelies! In fact, I think that's what I'm probably going to call them: my Little Lovelies!

Ah, yes, so you can tell that it's getting late and I need to go to sleep now. And I think it's time for Colden to go to sleep, too, so good night!

Monday, April 06, 2009

I really hope this is not going to be a long night.

But it's the first night since Thursday that we didn't have to give Colden any Benadryl for his congestion, and he didn't go to sleep until about five minutes ago! Eeks. So that means I'm going to throw these pictures up here and then get myself to sleep, so here goes...

Here is a sneak peak at the new line of fused glass jewelry that I have to photograph tomorrow so I can start listing them on my ArtFire shop! I am currently running a sale on my fused glass items on my Etsy shop, so these aren't going there for a while!

And these are the two Flower Power/Peyote Burst necklaces I made. These photos are terrible - I'm sure I'll get much better shots in the light tent.

And just for the heck of it, a picture of my "cool kid" enjoying his bottle and playing with Mommy's new sunglasses! (Hence the reason I never pay more than $5 for a pair of sunglasses these days - they get lost or Colden gets his hands on them!)

Okay, off to bed now. Cross your fingers and send some sleep vibes our way...

Oooh, it was a good day in the mail!

I got my latest order from Fire Mountain Gems, which means that I can now start writing directions and work up the earring projects that Leslie from Step By Step Beads wants from me. I also got the teeny, tiny little bead caps that I ordered from someone on Etsy for my series of Jewish wedding rings. (And, by the way, they threw in the coolest free gift! I'll have to post pics of those later and mention the seller, whose name I can't remember right now.) And then we got two new movies from Netflix - "Marley and Me" with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, two of my all-time favorite actors, and "Happy Go Lucky" which is a British flick that Tom wants to see and looks very promising.

But the best thing that came in the mail was my check from my sales at ConDFW back in February! It was about alot more than I had expected, and I am totally psyched. I am loving that I am selling my work at these science fiction conventions. And all I have to do is buy my sister and her friend a nice dinner!

I got a ton of work done this weekend. I don't know what I did differently, but I'm glad I did! I got two new versions of the Flower Power necklace made, one in bright blue and deep metallic wine that I'm calling the Mardi Gras version, and another made with lovely, soft purple colors that I have no idea what to call. I also finished attaching findings to the first batch of my new fused glass line, which I am going to sell exclusively on ArtFire for the time being.

So, another cold, crappy morning in the Adirondacks today. It was grey and COLD and damp when we woke up. I made us a nice hot breakfast of oatmeal and (homemade) maple syrup. I had a cup of hot chocolate, too, to chase the chill away. Colden had his banana and some leftover scrammbled egg, and then I sat down and got to workin'! I'll have a sneak peak at the new items later today after I get my camera hooked up to the laptop.

For this afternoon, I am going to tackle my latest cleaning/organizing project: my worktable (again!) and Colden's room! We'll see how that goes...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Intersession at North Country School in Lake Placid

So, one of the things that I have been meaning to blog about here was the incredible, fun week I spent teaching a group of six students (and two grown-ups!) at North Country School over in Lake Placid.

Lauren McGovern contacted me a while back about filling in for another local artist and spending a week teaching about beads, glass and jewelry as art. Since I haven't had an opportunity to work with kids (other than my own!) in a while, I jumped at it.

The first day, we opened by talking about what we were going to do for the rest of the week, and if there was anything in particular that the kids wanted to do. I asked them a few (not so) basic questions like, "What is a bead?" and "What are beads used for?" The answers were great! These kids really thought about their answers, and I was surprised and delighted when one student even knew the answer to the question, "Is glass a solid, liquid or gas?" (It's actually considered a supercooled liquid because of it's molecular structure, and this kid blew me away by saying, "It's an amorphic solid." Correct!)

So after we were done talking, we set out making some simple strung bracelets and necklaces using stretchy cord and an assortment of beads provided by Lauren. The kids had a great time, and some of them made several bracelets using some of the coolest combinations of beads that I've seen in a while. It was great to see how enthusiastic they were to just jump right in and start beading! After a while, some of them wanted to try something else (you can only string so many stretchy cord bracelets, after all!), and we set up a table for some of them to try working with polymer clay.

Polymer clay has never been a favorite material of mine, but these kids were inspiring! One student in particular showed a knack for mixing the nicest pastel colors out of - wait for it - bright neon polymer clay! She made a beautiful lavender color and a gorgeous seafoam green out of the almost-gaudy neon colors of clay I had brought along. And the variation in creations was amazing again as well - beads, focal components, words with jumprings in them so they could be worn. These kids were not afraid to try anything!

The second day was devoted to glass fusing. Using some small pieces of sheet glass, some little glass circles and some millefiore, the kids let their imaginations run wild. There were fused glass robots, pendants, earrings, and even a large objet d'art that reminded me of a painting by Klimt! One student had told me the day before that she was afraid of glass. After that session, she informed me that she was no longer afraid. Yay!

The third day we did more polymer clay. Again, the things that these kids came up with was astounding. We did things a little differently that day, though. Instead of just launching right into it, the kids looked through some of the books I had brought on beads, beading and jewelry for inspiration, and they had to sketch out what they were going to make before they made it.

Before we finished up on the third day, we took a vote as to what we were going to learn on the fourth day. It was a landslide, and a peyote stitch bracelet was the winning project. So, that night, I went home and loaded up one of my suitcases with as many different colors and sizes of seed beads as I could carry to make sure that there was a wide selection and each student could pick out exactly what they wanted to use.

It was a fairly simple bracelet, but like Natalie Goldberg (a favorite author of mine) always says, I had forgotten how to be in the mind of a beginner. Even though it felt to some of the kids like they had bitten off more than they could chew, everyone gave it their best efforts and the results reflected that! There were a few students who just took to beadweaving like a fish to water. Everyone chose beautiful color combinations, and the finished products were pieces that they could all be proud to wear.

The last day was really a wrap-up of everything that we had done all week. We attached findings to the fused glass that one of the art teachers kindly fused for us in her huge floor kiln, some of the kids finished up their beadwoven bracelets, and some of the kids finished cooking their polymer clay creations in the toaster oven. I really felt heavy as I packed up to go home that day - I had had such a great time talking and laughing and joking with the kids, and like I said before, it was so inspiring to me to see all the things that they created.

I think the most important thing that *I* took away from that week was something that I saw from the kids over and over, as we introduced each project: they never thought, "Oh, I can't do this." They just asked me, "How would I do this?" Failure was not even in the back of their minds - they were just so sure that they could do whatever they wanted to with the materials that they just went ahead and did it! Now that's something that we could all learn from.

I did go back the following week to watch them give their presentation on their Intersession Workshop experience. That was another great experience for me - I was so proud as I watched them stand up in front of the whole school and talk about how much fun they had. I also enjoyed seeing the other students' reactions to their creations - all the "ooohs" and "aaahs".

I hope they ask me back for next year! It was such a great way to spend a week!

It was a hard week for me, too, as that was the week that Colden came down with the croup, poor little guy. He had a little upper respiratory bug on Monday. On Tuesday morning, he sounded pretty bad, so Tom took the day off from work and took him to the doctor. His cough got steadily worse all day, and we were watchful that evening as he went to sleep for any signs of distress from him. Well, he woke up around 2:30 a.m. in obvious distress, weezing and panicking as he tried to breathe. We bundled him up and took him on the back porch where it was sub-zero, hoping that the cold would ease the inflammation in his airways. When that didn't work, we sat in a warm, steamy bathroom hoping that that might have opened up his airways. When that didn't work, we took him to the emergency room in Lake Placid, about half an hour's drive from our house. In the ER, they told us that he did, indeed, have croup, and he needed an injection of a steroid and a breathing treatment delivered via nebulizer to open his airways. He finally conked out in my lap around 4:30 a.m., after we'd been there for an hour. We got home from the emergency room at 6:45 - just enough time for me to turn around, shower, change my clothes, and head back into Lake Placid to teach!

But it was all good. I got to take a nap that afternoon, and we all slept really well that night.

And speaking of sleep... It's after nine p.m. now, and once I finish this post, I am going to try to make one more beaded flower for a necklace and then hope to get some sleep myself.

Tomorrow morning, Colden and I are going to the Riverside Thrift Shop in Wilmington. It's their twice-yearly bag sale, and you can fill up a 13-gallon plastic bag with as many items of clothing as you can for a flat charge of $5. You better believe I'm going to clean them out of little boys' clothes!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Now's a good a time as any...

To finally update this blog!

So, let's see. We had Christmas, I got sick, Tom threw his back out, and then we had Colden's first birthday. After his birthday, Colden got sick what seemed like every week for two months. First he had a stomach flu; then a cold; then an upper respiratory bug that turned into the croup; then pneumonia! But we all seem healthy now, and things are starting to get back on track.

The first thing I want to put on here is my schedule for 2009. Keep in mind, this is subject to change as I get more information about dates and times. But for now, here's what I have scheduled:

May 2009:

Adirondack Farmers' Market, Elizabethtown, N.Y. (Behind the Adirondack History Center on Route 9)
Friday, May 15
Friday, May 22
Friday, May 29
Hours at the market are 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lots of great vegetables, baked goods, and of course, handmade jewelry!

June 2009:
Adirondack Farmers' Market, Elizabethtown, N.Y.
Friday, June 12
Friday, June 19
Friday, June 26
Hours at the market are 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Adirondack Farmers' Market, Keene, N.Y. (at Marcy Field on Route 73)
Sunday, June 21
Sunday, June 28
Hours at the market are 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, Glens Falls City Park, Downtown Glens Falls
Saturday and Sunday, June 13 & 14
Hours of the Art Fair are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. both days

More shows for July, August and September will be listed soon as I finalize details!

I've been working on a few new projects, and experimenting to figure out the best way for me to work at home. It's been a challenge. You may remember some of my previous posts where I put up some pictures of my "office" in the dining room and living room. Well, we finally got it all cleaned up and straightened up, and I moved my four big cabinets of beads back upstairs and into Colden's room (temporarily).
Hey, I never said it was neat. But I can get to everything when I need it instead of having to plan my trips downstairs and finding ways to amuse Colden while I look for beads!

I've actually found a great way to buy myself a few minutes when I need to look for beads. I have a few big drawers on the bottom of the cabinets that are filled with beads in tiny little bags and tubes with locking tops, so I pull out a drawer and I let Colden dig through it. He totally loves it! Sometimes he just wants to empty the entire drawer, sometimes he'll sit there and look at each and every bead that he takes out of the drawer. It's the cutest thing. He has a special fondness for the little bag of Swarovski rivolis. I'm going to have to order more to make sure I always have a little bag in there for him to discover!

More updates to the blog are coming this weekend. Really! I promise! I have a featured seller from Etsy, and I have some photos of new work that is for sale in my Etsy shop, and I have a few more thoughts I want to share with the world. (Or at least with the folks who read my blog!)