Monday, May 31, 2010

Triple Treat

Last week was incredibly productive for me. I don't know what I did right, but I got a ton of beading done!

I call this trio my "Triple Treat" - three designs, all using the same basic pattern. The green necklace I finished a couple of weeks ago, inspired by that awesome pendant by Lisa Peters Art. I decided to make a version of the necklace without a focal pendant that works great as just a nice, flat neckpiece with lots and lots of sparkle.

And then I decided to make a more cost-effective version using Czech fire-polished beads. The bracelet came out a little longer than I wanted it to be, so I'm still tweaking the sizes of beads to get it to come out the right length, but it stitched up super-quick in just over an hour.

So now I can move on to my next set of projects! I've got an incredible design all sketched out for a netted Renaissance Collar using tiny 3mm Swarovski bicones and top-drilled round pearls - it wouldn't look out of place on a queen. And then I had this strange idea for a wagon-wheel pendant with glass flowers and bamboo tubes. Sounds strange, but I think it might work up to be pretty cool in a Mae West kinda way.

This coming week is going to be nuts. I've got to finish uploading all the videos I shot for and send off all the scripts, and try to get all these patterns I've been designing uploaded. I should have done more today, but I just couldn't get my act together, and the exhaustion today is just totally overwhelming. I haven't been able to get to Starbucks, my "office", since I found out I was pregnant last week, but I think I'm going to set aside two nights this week to get over there.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vintage Inspired

I found this among the pieces of my mother's jewelry that were given to me last fall after we scattered her ashes in Texas.

I don't know anything about it, like where she may have gotten it, or when it was made, but I'm guessing from the materials and the design that it may have been made sometime in the 1940s or 1950s.

The peachy-colored baubles stuck in my head for weeks, while I tried to figure out a way to re-create them. Then when I saw the new Swarovski crystal pearls in that gorgeous coral color, I knew I wanted to use them to try to recreate the piece. A piece of copper chain and a funky square-shaped copper toggle from Artbeads was all I needed to complete the piece:

Trying to make these beaded beads was definitely a challenge for me. I used tubular right angle weave, which is one of my least favorite stitches, and went through many, many variations of the pattern. The first time I actually had one beaded bead stitched up perfectly, I realized that I hadn't taken any notes on what I did, so I had to tear the thing apart to see where my thread path went so I could re-create it! Note to self: always take notes.

It's really a cool little piece. I love the way the beaded beads jingle against the chain when I wear it. This is one that I think I will be submitting to a magazine or using as a class, if I can ever get my teaching schedule organized.

The last two days, I'm really starting to feel like I'm pregnant, although I have yet to be hit with the nausea that I had when I was pregnant with Colden. There are still times when I feel like I'm totally in denial about the pregnancy thing because I actually feel pretty good most days, if not a little emotional. The thing that's been the hardest so far is the exhaustion - and having to haul myself out of bed once, twice or three times a night to take care of Colden. Yesterday afternoon, I walked down the hill to the garage to pick up the car after we had it inspected, and today, I feel like I can barely move.

But if this is how I'm going to feel for this pregnancy, I'll take it over the constant nausea any day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nap Time

It's days like this that I relish nap time, when Colden lays down and has his milk and I read him a story, then he snuggles up with his blanket and his favorite stuffed animal of the day, and I get a little bit of a breather. In the winter, it means curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and Moose; in the summer, it means curling up in my own bed or on the back porch with my laptop or my beads. Sometimes, it means crashing in bed for a much-needed nap after a long night of constant awakenings.

I'm going to start needing nap time even more, since last week, I found out that I am pregnant with our second child! Tom and I had talked about having another baby, and how nice it would be for Colden to have a sibling. But for a while, we thought it probably wasn't going to happen. What a nice surprise last weekend!

Of course, we've timed it all wrong again - my due date this time (until I'm told otherwise by the dating ultrasound in two weeks) is January 28. Another winter baby! Another terrified Tom, worried about having to get up to Plattsburgh in the snow and ice in case there's a storm.

And because I'm over 35, at my first appointment with the midwife last week, she absolutely put the fear of God into me over things like Down's Syndrome and Trisomy 18, and we get to go to Burlington to have a special ultrasound called an Ultrascreen to detect any abnormalities. But I've decided that I'm not going to worry about anything until someone tells me to worry - when Colden was still in utero, one of the ultrasounds detected a small cyst on the part of his brain that makes the spinal fluid. By the time of the re-check, however, the cyst had completely resolved itself and disappeared, and he's been a happy, healthy baby (and now a happy, healthy little boy!) ever since.

And since Colden has been asleep for forty five minutes now, I need to get busy and get some writing done so I can make a decent dinner tonight and then maybe try to get to bed at a decent hour!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Bead Soup Swap Package Arrived!

My swap partner is Ann Rishell, a bead artist and architect from Arizona. She sent me an absolutely incredible package of seed beads, pearls, Swarovski crystals, silver components and an incredible Venetian glass bead and clasp!

I completely forgot to take a picture of the beads I sent to Ann, but you can see them if you take a look at her blog, My Critical Eye.

This is all part of the Bead Soup Blog Party, created by jewelry artist Lori Anderson. So now I have until June 19th to get going and create something with all these lovelies! And wouldn't ya know it, Ann just happened to pick some of my favorite colors for me to work with. This is going to be so much fun!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reset Button

So, I'm not going into the details here, but last night, someone shot me down with something really negative, right in my face. It made me cry for most of the night, and it's left me feeling close to tears all morning. I think usually it wouldn't have bothered me so much, because I can usually let stuff like that go, but this was kind of a last straw type of deal. It just reminded me too much of the nonsense and hostility that went on when I had my shop a few years ago, and I think that's why it hurt me so badly.

We also found out last night that our friends have to have their wonderful, sweet, 14-year-old Labrador put down today. We've grown very fond of her these last few years, and it's not going to be easy to say good-bye.

It's not going to be an easy day.

Instead of continuing to push myself with the last few videos, I'm taking a day off today, taking Colden to Target to get some diapers and Play Doh, and then if it's not raining, we're going to go to the playground later today.

I'm just done with the bad stuff today, and I need to get it out.

I'm going into Lake Placid to write tonight, but before I do, I'm going to take a nice walk around Mirror Lake. I haven't done that in a long time, and I think it might be a good way to clear my head.

The one thing that made me laugh this morning was sitting on Colden's bed with him while we ate breakfast. We were watching Baby Wordsworth (one of the Baby Einstein DVDs that he love so much), and Colden was doing all the signs and saying all the words, some of which I had never heard him say before this morning! And I love hearing him say "avocado", or at least, trying to say "avocado". And whenever I take the milk jug out of the refrigerator, he points to the cow on the label and lets out a big, "Moooooooo!"

Whatever else I might do, whatever mistakes I make in life, I will always strive to be a good mother to my son.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Love and Hate

I spent the morning finishing up the latest incarnation of the Swarovski crystal overload necklace that I worked on over the weekend, only to find that I was short four Simplicity crystals in the right color. Okay, so it's an excuse to order some more beads from Artbeads or wherever I could find the crystals, right?

The I spent the rest of the morning working on a variation of said Swarovski crystal overload necklace that was actually a bracelet with Czech fire polished beads and rondelles. At first, I thought I loved it. Then, as the day wore on, I hated it. Now, I'm somewhere in the middle with it, but my brain is too tired to figure it out. So I'm gonna let it sit alongside the other two pieces until I've had a few decent hours of sleep.

We had another rough night with Colden last night. I finally got to lie down for bed around 10:30, and sure enough, just as I was falling asleep, Colden was awake and in our room. Instead of going back to sleep like he did the previous night, he tossed and turned and kicked and grabbed my hair and yanked. It did not make for anything like a restful evening.

Then after we got back from the grocery store this afternoon, I let him sit in front of the chicken run and throw grass in to the big laying hens that were running around in the sun. When I looked up, I saw what I thought was the fully-feathered wing of one of the big white laying hens sitting in a hole in the ground. When I looked closer, I saw feet, and then realized that it was actually the dead chicken body of the little Polish Crested that we got with our last batch of baby chicks. The bigger chickens had been pecking at her the last couple of weeks, and I guess today when she got brave enough to jump down from the brooding area, they chased her outside and finished her off. Very sad, but very gross: because the only way in and out of the chicken run (for now) is through the chicken door in the coop, I had to cut a hole in the run with the wire cutters and wait for Tom's dad to come over with a rake so I could lift the body out of the run. Ew. Poor thing... It didn't look as if the any of the other babies had been pecked at by the older hens, so we're going to wait and see what happens. If any of the other babies start to look beat up, those older hens are going in the freezer.

And I haven't been to the gym in nearly two weeks. I'm starting to feel a bit soft around the middle again. I have to get back on that...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

So, this is Week 2 of shooting videos for the website, and I have to admit, I'm having fun. It has been so cool coming up with the ideas for the videos, and writing the scripts and then actually using the video camera! I think the only thing that I am NOT going to enjoy (from my test runs the first day I had the camera) are the shots where I am on-screen. I'm not terribly photogenic, even on a good day, and when I watched the videos on the computer, I was shocked to see how often I blinked. I think I'll have to stick my eyelids open with double sided tape while I say my on-screen lines.

These are some of the samples from the first four videos that I have shot and finished: basic bead embroidered backstitch, St. Petersburg Chain, Cellini spiral, and African Helix. I had numerous requests for cubic right angle weave, which I would love to show in a video, but alas, these videos can only be three and a half minutes long at best, so I don't think I can do a tutorial for cubic right angle weave in under four minutes.

When I was reviewing some of the video I shot last week today, I realized that in the background, you can hear the (rather loud) trickle of water from the fish tank in the dining room! Yikes! I contacted the video editor to see what I should do about that, but before she got back to me, I decided I would just re-shoot the video clips where you could hear it so that I wouldn't have any problems when they start editing the clips for me. I re-shot the video with the filters turned off. Then I had to re-shoot some of those clips with the front door and the windows closed so that you couldn't hear the cars speeding up and down the road in front of the house. I need a padded cell, I think...

I've also been watching beading video tutorials online wherever I can find them. They're all like 5 to 10 minutes long, or longer! I hope I can squeeze all the important information into three minutes. And of course, I'll have written tutorials for these things on the site, too.

Meanwhile, the opening day of the Keene Valley farmers' market is drawing closer, and I have a million things to get - business cards, packaging, a new tablecloth, and I think I'm going to need an extra table, since I'm currently using one of my tables as my "desk" for shooting photos. I think it's going to be a less intensive market season for me this year. I'm not sure how good sales will be, considering the state of the economy here in the U.S. and around the world. I think I'm going to focus more on listing items in my Etsy shop, and when I do the farmers' markets and craft shows, I'll just have my higher-end bead embroidered and bead woven pieces and kits for sale. Maybe a few pieces of glass jewelry, but I've got an entire box of glass jewelry inventory sitting around with pieces that I've had for the last year, and it's not doing anything for me just sitting there and collecting dust. Maybe tomorrow afternoon I'll take a bunch of photos while Colden takes his nap...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It Don't Mean a Thing...

If it ain't got the bling!

I know, it's corny, but that's what I decided to call this piece, for now.

It started with this gorgeous focal pendant from Lisa Peters Art. I had no idea what to do with it, I only knew that I wanted to keep it for myself. Or so I thought.

I sat down with the big bag of leftover 4mm Swarovski bicones that I bought about a million years ago with the intention of using them in beading kits and started to make a strap out of right angle weave. I didn't like the way the strap looked with the pendant - it was too angular compared to the soft lines of the pendant. Then I accidentally picked up two sets of beads and stitched them together - wa-haa! It made something like a circle! And then I added a 4.5mm Swarovski "Simplicity" bead in the middle - and it looked even more like a circle!

I wanted to jump around and say, "Who's your daddy?" but I held back. After all, Colden was asleep.

I actually thought about naming the piece "Who's Your Daddy?" but figured it wouldn't work very well in magazines or on websites. Not with my target market, anyway.

But then this morning, I figured out how to add the pendant and stitched on the clasp, and it came out better than I thought. But now I have problems.

1. Should I keep the original piece or sell it?
2. Should I offer the design/pattern to Beadwork/Bead and Button magazine first or just publish it on
3. And now I want to make a plain version without a focal pendant, and I have just barely enough Simplicities in the right color and size.

I have really never thought of myself as a crystal-kinda-person. Truth be told, most days, I don't wear much jewelry because I find that it has been getting in the way of doing the dishes, taking care of the chickens, and it gives Colden one more thing to yank on when I pick him up. (He hasn't torn an earlobe yet, but I'm just waiting for it to happen.)

I am going to embark on the plain version later today, I think. The first version stitched up much, much faster than I thought it would, so I think the plain version will be quick, too.

And on that note, I think my glass fusing students are here, so off to the kiln for a little while!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Well. Farmers' Market Season is Here Again.

And I think that this year, I am going to have to seriously cut back on the number of markets and craft shows that I do. With the work I'm doing for and trying to make new pieces and design projects for the magazines and the website, I don't think I'll be able to haul my show around upstate New York (and beyond) three times a week. So in the coming days and weeks, I'll be shooting new photographs of my work and probably opening a de-stash shop on Etsy to see if I can't move some of this old inventory so that I can make new inventory and concentrate on my high end line of beaded and bead embroidered jewelry.

I don't have a lot of time to blog today, since I have to go blog for (I want to get all the rest of my posts done for the rest of the week!) and I have to keep plugging away on the videos I'm shooting. Shooting videos is hard. I'm starting to remember some stuff from my t.v. production and film making classes back in high school, but just when I think I have the line in my head, I stumble over a word.

I've set up my dining room for video production for the next few days. Here is what it looks like.

I really hope the weather gets nice soon so that we can at least eat on the back porch. The dining room table is underneath all that stuff!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birthday Blogging

So, today I'm 36. I feel like I'm on the wrong side of 30! But, like Dad always says, "It beats the alternative." On a more thoughtful note, to quote a song by singer/songwriter Ann Reed, "This looking back is a gift of age."

Yesterday afternoon at the post office, there was a huge, big ol' box waiting for me from Beki and the nice people at Whimbeads. I went a little nuts when she posted their new colors of size 11 seed beads and the new size 8 Toho hybrids.

Aren't these colors gorgeous?! C'mon, you know they are... I have a fondness for the metallic seed beads. I use them when I'm making beaded chains and cabochon pendants because I love the way they look.

I've also got a thing for the new Toho hybrids. The colors are just fantastic, and they work so well with so many things!

I've got plans for these babies. That gorgeous emerald Swarovski bicone and the bright permanent finish gold metallic seed beads are going to become a re-creation of a piece of estate jewelry I found in an online auction catalog.

I was really psyched when Beki told me that they actually had the 4mm Swarovski crystal pearls that I had been looking for everywhere! I got some of these for a project from another source, and of course, underestimated the amount that I needed. I kept trying to get them, but they were out of stock EVERYWHERE.

And while this is just on loan to me, this cool little pocket video camera is what I am going to start filming with today! A couple of weeks ago, one of the senior video editors at the site contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in borrowing a little pocket camera for a few weeks to shoot some video tutorials for the site. I've got fifteen videos scripted. I probably won't get the chance to shoot all of them, but when I looked up this little gadget online, I found that I can get a new one for about $150, so that might be in my future.

No shortage of things to do today, so I have to get off the computer, get some breakfast for me and the kiddo, and get moving!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Well, I can honestly say that this has been a less than perfect Mother's Day for me, except for the part where I got to eat chocolate while I was writing video scripts this afternoon. That was good.

But this whole weekend, I was sick as a dog with whatever upper respiratory crud knocked Tom out last weekend. (Colden had it earlier in the week, but he didn't have it nearly as bad as Tom and I did!) On Friday night, I was so miserable that I just could not sleep. I woke up when Colden woke up around 2:30, and that was it. I laid there and coughed and tried to blow my nose, but nothing was making me any better. And I felt like I had a fever, too. So, finally, around 4 a.m., I gave in, took my laptop into the living room with the tissues, some juice and a blanket and my pillow and crashed on the couch until Tom had to get up at 5:30 to go fishing.

Thankfully, Colden ate some breakfast the next morning with Tom and Claude, and then crawled back into bed so I could get a little sleep.

Today, the crud seems better, except for the occasional burst of snot in my nose.

Anyway, Tom did give me my Mother's Day/birthday present today, which is the complete Monty Python series on dvd, including the three movies: The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and the Meaning of Life. I have been a Monty Python freak for years, ever since an ex-boyfriend of mine introduced me to the show. It was the most bizarre, intelligent thing I had ever seen, and I can tell you some of the most inane bits of Python trivia, if you care to ask.

But anyway. This is my second Mother's Day without my mom, and I want to write something about her here.

Mom passed away in July of 2008, just before Colden turned six months old. I spent ten days in Texas with her right before she passed away, and it's a great comfort to me that she at least got to meet Colden, to hold his chubby little hand and foot, watch him kick his legs while he nursed, and laugh at him in the baby sunglasses I bought for him at Target one evening. Even though Mom had been sick for years, I still felt totally unprepared for the moment when I got the call from my sister at 4 in the morning to tell me that Mom was gone.

This is a picture that was taken at my sister's wedding in 1996. My Mom and Dad are the first two on the left. My mom is holding the red crocheted beaded bag that her Aunt Lou made back in the 1930s. Mom sent that bag to me in 2005, and it's one of my most prized family heirlooms. (See? Beads run in my family!)

My mom was an incredibly talented artist. She could draw, which is something I still can't do, and she made her living by designing and editing knit and crochet designs and patterns for various yarn companies and craft magazines while we were growing up. If there's one thing that I truly and honestly can thank my mother for, it was her example of how to earn a living doing something that you love.

The other thing for which I will always be grateful to Mom is that she always supported my sister and I in whatever creative endeavors we had. As a kid, I can remember watercolor painting classes, baton twirling lessons (which I absolutely loved), violin lessons, hours spent with her teaching me how to knit and crochet, and of course, making jewelry. She and Dad always encouraged me to do what I loved, including singing in our church choir, taking piano lessons, and auditioning for all the high school musicals and plays that I wanted to. They never told us "no" when it came to something that fed our creative spirits.

Lately, I've really been missing Mom a lot. I wish she could see what a handsome little man Colden is now. And I wish she could see what I'm doing on the site. I think she'd be a little bit proud of me for that.

So, to all you Moms out there, put your feet up - it's not too late for a glass of wine and a chick flick, or even a cuddle with your family.

And to my Mom: I miss you and love you, wherever you are.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Just in the nick of time!

While perusing my friends' status updates on Facebook, I noticed this update from Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay about a really cool Bead Soup Party going on, and today is the last day to sign up! So, naturally, because I don't have enough beading things to keep me busy, I signed up.

I wish I'd known about this before now, but I'm glad I got in just in the nick of time!