Saturday, October 30, 2010
When we were at the library last weekend, I stumbled upon a few books for Colden by Ezra Jack Keats, whose work I remember from when I was a kid and just learning to read.
I told the librarian how I had forgotten how much I loved reading these books when I was kid, and how excited I was to introduce them to my son. She asked me if I'd read this biography about Keats, written several years after his death. She said that it was actually written for middle-schoolers, but that it was a great read, and she was right.
This is the story of Ezra's life, written from interviews and essays that he left behind, and I enjoyed reading about the life of this wonderful artist, from his upbringing in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the time he spent painting in Paris to his first paying job as an artist for a comic book company.
I don't think I ever realized what an important children's author he was - I just loved reading his books. So now I get the fun in introducing my own son to his books. I think maybe "The Snowy Day" will be our next bedtime story as we head into winter!
It's the day before Halloween, and earlier this week, it was in the high 70s - warm enough that I had windows and doors open and was spotted wearing a tank top with my cargo pants while Colden and I ran around the backyard in the autumn sunshine.
Today, though, it's cold. It was raining in Jay when I left for Lake Placid, and as I approached Whiteface, I saw that it was capped with snow. There's snow on the ground in Lake Placid, and most of the rooftops are covered, too. The cars sitting idle at the gas station have snow collected at the base of their windshields.
So, it's winter.
And while some people might despair that the warm weather is gone for another seven or eight months, I'm actually okay with that. Yes, I love the warm mornings and the smell of the breeze coming through the windows in the house, but I also love the cold. I love the warmth of a fire in the wood stove. I love a steaming hot bowl of butternut squash and apple soup, and I love the feeling of snuggling down under a fleece blanket at night.
I think I actually need the cold. I don't feel complete without it. I've been to warmer climates during the winter months - places like Houston and Los Angeles - and it's always left me feeling off-balance until I get home to where it's cold.
Some days, I feel like I wrap that cold around me like a cocoon to comfort me. It gives me a reason to spend time with family and friends. It gives me inspiration to find color in the grey, rainy afternoons.
And when it snows, well, that's just magic. Seeing the world on a bright, sunny winter morning after a snowstorm is just pure magic.
I don't think I could live in a place without being able to really see the changing seasons. Being able to watch the world changing around me gives me a real sense of place, and it makes me feel like I'm really a part of this Earth.
Friday, October 29, 2010
This is another one of Marsha Hedrick's new designs. This dragonfly slide is lightweight, but substantial enough to hold the necklace together. And it works perfectly for the right angle weave rope that I stitched for it - it felt like a soft mesh necklace when I tried it on to check the length.
These slides by Marsha come in other colors - check out Marsha's website for more options.
As with Marsha's other pieces, I was once again truly impressed with the quality of the workmanship. The piece was well-sculpted and lightweight. It hangs perfectly on the beaded rope that I made for it, and it looks fabulous when worn.
I'm working on finishing up the last rope that uses a triangle-shaped slide and cones - maybe this weekend I'll have it done.
As I stitch up each rope, I'm photographing tutorials that will eventually go on the About.com site as part of a big hub about beaded ropes and how to make them.
And, of course, I'll have this one listed in my ArtFire shop soon!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Porcelain artist Marsha Hedricks contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I'd be interested in seeing some of her newest designs. I've loved Marsha's work ever since I saw her adorable little snow babies beads at Beadin' Path, and I jumped at the chance to design and create a series of beaded ropes with her newest components.
Marsha's work is truly extraordinary - her pieces are so thin and lightweight, but extremely durable. Her colors are beautiful (and easy to match with my seed beads!), and the textures of these pieces make them just a delight to hold in your hand.
I chose to do beadwoven ropes with her pieces, but they'll work just as well if you like to do kumihimo.
There are so many things about these pieces that I like - but the thing that I like the best is that there are holes in the cones so that you can wire-wrap your pieces instead of just gluing them on. I've never had a very good experience when it comes to gluing jewelry components together, and I always prefer to use wrapped loops when it comes to assembling pieces. With these cones, you can stitch the beadwork (or kumihimo) to an eyepin and then pull the eyepin through the hole in the cone to fasten it with a wrapped loop! I think that makes for a much better constructed piece of jewelry.
This is the first of four pieces I've designed using her components - three beaded ropes, and a leather collar that showcases an incredible porcelain cabochon!
You can see all of Marsha's newest slides and cones in her online store, Amazing Porcelain, and you can read her blog at Marsha's Porcelain Art.
She's got more new designs coming in the next few weeks!
And if you like this piece, you can find it in my ArtFire shop by clicking on the picture.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Work is what I'm doing this morning, mostly to the soundtrack of my favorite tunes by Jimmy Eat World. This is one of my new faves.
I'm kickin' ass and takin' names. Got a new set of graphics done. They're not sparkling, but they are a hell of a lot better than what I've been able to do in the past. I'm working on editing my newsletter, editing my user paths and landing page and other site maintenance stuff, and gathering thoughts for some new articles.
Oh, yeah, baby. I'm in the zone.
This is what solitude does for me, and I enjoy it.
I was the only car on the road for most of my drive through Wilmington Notch. It is dark and grey and cold and raining this morning. It's exactly what a Sunday morning in the Adirondacks should be in late October. I saw one car at one of the parking areas near some trailheads, and I thought about the person who parked their car there and then trekked off into the forest there. I know there are a couple of lean-tos up the trail, and I wondered if that person was alone in the lean-to, if they had spent the night there, and if they were feeling the same wonderful feeling of solitude that I felt.
A lot on my mind this morning before I get down to work. I have a tutorial to write and publish, and then some site maintenance to do, and then a newsletter to edit before tomorrow morning.
I started working on a piece last night that I will be auctioning off to help raise money for Andrew Thornton's medical bills. While I am amazed and encouraged by the huge outpouring that has occurred since Andrew announced his diagnosis a few weeks ago, I'm still so sad and disheartened by the fact that this kind of thing is still necessary in this country. We still have no public option for health care, and that means that an independent artist like Andrew has to rely on the good hearts of so many people for his medical care. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I would gladly pay extra taxes to make sure that people like Andrew have access to decent health care in this country.
Last night, I finished the first beaded rope for the projects I'm working on for Marsha Hedrick. I stayed up way past my bedtime working on it, because I just felt the piece pulling me towards finishing it. It's been over a week since I started it, and I was really worried that I was going to run out of seed beads before I finished it. I was torn between going to bed and getting some much-needed sleep or finishing the piece - lucky for me, Colden let me sleep for about two hours before he woke up and needed a diaper change.
And so that made me think about one thing that's been on my mind lately, how I worry about Colden growing up with a crazy artist for a mother. Mothers aren't supposed to play their music too loud in the car when they're alone, or get up at 2 a.m. to sketch out design ideas before they disappear...
I want to raise my son to be happy, creative, well-adjusted. I want him to have the confidence in himself to pursue in life what is going to make him happy. I want him to have a good set of values and morals to guide him. I want him to delight in diversity and marvel at everything the world has to offer.
It's a pretty big job.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I'm nearly finished with the first beaded rope for the projects I'm working on for Marsha Hedrick. Colden looked at it last night and said, "Oh! Mommy's making a big, green worm!" and then he wanted to hug and kiss the worm while I was working on it. Which was adorable at first, but then wasn't so adorable when I couldn't tug the worm out of his hands...
No energy tonight. Colden had a fever the last two nights, and it was all I could do to keep him comfortable. The Motrin helped, and the pediatrician said that it was probably viral since the fever disappeared during the day. They also told us that they have seen lots of weird viruses, colds and flu going around, and it's not even the end of October yet. Still on the fence about getting Colden his flu shot, we'll have to talk about that tomorrow...
Thursday, October 21, 2010
So now it's about 2:30 in the afternoon. The sun has been playing hide and seek all day. (Which has wreaked havoc on my photographs.) The wood stove has the house at a comfy 72 degrees, and I can see the snow flurries coming down outside.
I'm in the middle of resizing and upload photos, writing out materials lists, and trying to get the needle crafts newsletter edited. I'll try to get the blogging done this evening, and maybe get a few tutorials and maybe a few quick articles up this evening, too. But it's going to be another looooooong night...
I also had an idea for a piece I want to make and auction off to help raise money for Andrew Thornton. Andrew is an artist and writer who was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and since he is without medical insurance, beaders and jewelry artists are banding together to help him cover the costs of his medical bills. I may start it tonight after Colden goes to sleep... The focal point will be this bead that I bought from him back in August as part of my retail therapy binge after the miscarriage...
I'm hoping that I can turn it into something good for someone else.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
First, I have a surprise for Beki Haley of Whimbeads - she was my 100th follower, so she gets a special runner-up surprise.
So, I ran my trusty random number generator and came up with number 76:
And that number 76 corresponded to Eva Maria Keiser!
So congratulations to both Beki and Eva!
And I have to apologize for the delay in getting this post up. I had an extraordinarily long day yesterday, which is going to result in another long day today while I get caught up on (ew) housework.
Monday, October 18, 2010
...is what Tom presented me with when he came back inside from feeding the chickens this afternoon. This was the last hollyhock from the plant next to the house. He came back inside a few minutes later with some of the seeds, and he's going to plant them all around the house so that maybe next year, we have some more of these beautiful blooms.
The colors in this flower just make me want to bead! Light pinks and greens... It's not even winter yet, and I'm already dreaming about spring...
So with Tom working those 10 hour days (insane), we managed to save up enough money for a new set of snow tires for the Matrix (which we will need when he has to commute into Lake Placid at 6:15 a.m. all winter) and on Saturday, we went up to Plattsburgh and picked out a new washing machine. It wasn't a hard choice - the one we got was the only one in our price range.
We did manage to set aside twenty bucks and went out to lunch that day, too. It had been a long, long time since the two of us sat down to lunch together in a restaurant. I think the last time we sat down and ate a meal at a restaurant, just the two of us, was my birthday in 2009. Yeah. Something like that.
It was a good day. We got to talk about everything that's going on - the stress, work, the house, Colden - and it felt like we started to re-connect a little bit.
Of course, as relieved as I am that we actually have all the major appliances in the house functioning again, this means that if there's a load of laundry sitting around, I actually have to DO it during the day. At least Colden likes to help!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I'm about 5 1/2 inches in on an 18" beaded right angle weave rope for a top-secret project for a designer/artist friend of mine. I wanted to do a series of beaded ropes for this project, because I love beaded ropes and I haven't made nearly enough of them lately. But you know what? I am still trying to figure out what made me think that doing an 18" tubular right angle weave rope would be a good thing.
It started out as something fun: ooo, a new challenge! Then it was like, holy crap, this is taking a long time. Now it's like, I am determined NOT to let this thing beat me! I WILL prevail! Yes, I will! I'm going to finish this rope!
Of course, I might take a break and do a nice and quick and easy Dutch Spiral rope for one of the other projects just to give myself a break. Too much more of this round and round stuff with the right angle weave and I'm going to lose my mind.
Anyway, lots of great new stuff up for this week: another Tila bead project, some beaded maple leaves, some charted patterns for fall (and a few for Christmas and Hanukkah, too!) and who knows what else... Might even start my series of articles on photographing your beadwork.
As of this posting, I have 95 followers! Wa-hoo! 5 more, and someone is going to win a free embellished beaded rope necklace from me... I'm really excited about this!
Friday, October 15, 2010
It's been a long time since I did a giveaway on my blog, and now that things have sort of settled down with my life, I think it's time for another one.
So, here's my giveaway:
As of this post, I now have 75 followers on my blog. When I get to 100 followers, I will randomly choose one of those lucky followers to receive a custom-made embellished beaded rope necklace. You can choose the colors, the beads, the length, and the clasp.
I'm going to set the deadline for October 31 at midnight EST. If I hit 100 followers before that date, I'll do the drawing (via random number generator) the day after I hit 100 followers. This way, the winner will receive the necklace in time for the holidays - wouldn't it make a great holiday gift for yourself or for someone very, very special?
PLEASE make sure that when you follow my blog, you check your profile so that it includes a valid email address - I need to know how to contact you!
And remember, I still have that ArtFire coupon special going until October 31 as well - 25% off every item in my shop if you use the coupon code WELCOMEARTFIRE. That includes finished jewelry, beading kits and beading tutorials!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So I transferred all my items over to my new ArtFire shop - you can find it at http://www.vanbeads.artfire.com. And while I'm still working on finalizing my edits to my items and re-arranging my shop, I did manage to create a coupon code, good on any item in my ArtFire shop until October 31, 2010.
Use the code WELCOMEARTFIRE and get 25% off any and every item in my shop!
That includes this fun bead embroidered cuff bracelet. One of my favorites, I called it "Green Meadows", and it's one of a series of embroidered cuffs I created over the winter. (I've got lots more in production right now, I just need to get to them!)
So, if you've had your eye on a piece on my shop and have been waiting for an opportune time, this is it! The coupon code only lasts until October 31, 2010, so you still have about two weeks to take advantage of it.
I'll also be listing some new items in my ArtFire shop early next week. I've got several bracelets, three necklaces made with stoneware donuts, and three new bead embellished ropes. I have been one busy beader!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
So, even if it is a tad washed out, this is a much better photo of the same piece that I posted earlier.
I bought these three copper fired stoneware donuts from Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay. I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, but I loved the colors and I loved the feel of them - soft, satiny and extremely light. I had two smaller donuts and one larger donut, and I wound up giving one of the smaller donuts to a friend of mine. I had no idea what to do with it until I found myself stitching peyote bails for other beaded necklaces this summer - I realized that I could just stitch a piece of shaped peyote and string a beaded rope through it!
I made the twisted herringbone rope with a technique I learned from a kit/design by Leslie Frazier. It is super-easy to start, makes a wonderful, twisty rope, and really works up quickly. (If you're stitching in the right direction, that is - but more on that later!)
I'll be working this into a tutorial for the About.com site later this week - as soon as I can find a time to sit down and wrap my head around writing out the directions for all fifteen steps. Yowza. It's really an easy project, I just wanted to break it down into manageable steps for someone who might feel a little intimidated by odd count peyote.
Freezing cold here again tonight. Tom just let the dog out, Colden conked out at 5:30 after skipping his nap this afternoon, and I'm really, really, reeeeeeeeeeaaaally hoping that Tom comes back inside with an armload of wood and fires up the wood stove...
Sunday, October 10, 2010
At least I can laugh a little bit about it now...
We went to Canadian Thanksgiving at Rob and Jennie's house last night. It was our second Canadian Thanksgiving since Rob and Jennie got married, and the house was packed with the usual suspects, a lot of kids, and more food than we knew what to do with. Rob was making rum and cokes for Tom, and he made them so strong that Tom had to ask me to drive home!
This morning should have been my last farmers' market of the season, but we all woke up at 7:45, and since I was supposed to be out the door by 8, it wasn't going to happen. The car wasn't packed, I hadn't eaten breakfast, and Tom needed to go to work this morning. So I made breakfast and tried to get Colden to eat (humongous fail), and then I wound up staying in my pajamas and bathrobe until, oh, noon.
I got some beading done, and then around four 'o' clock realized that I had used the wrong damn color of red seed beads. They just looked awful with the ceramic art pendant and bead that I wanted to accent. The pattern with the black cube beads looked wonderful. But the red - I have been trying to find a match for these pieces for MONTHS now. Literally. I've ordered about a dozen different shades of red seed beads. None of them look any good when I get them up close to the pendants, and since I live about a gazillion miles away from anything like a real bead store... I should have gone to Beads by Blanche last weekend when I was down in the city.
It was hard for me to tear myself away from the beading and try to get dinner together for Colden. I couldn't have cared less about eating my own dinner, but Colden was just having one of those days where the kid would *not* eat, and it drives me nuts.
So then I've got a load of writing and editing and photo editing and graphic making to get caught up on, and Tom goes and just lays down on the bed with Colden. Now, I know that Tom gets tired too at the end of the day, but you've got to ENGAGE that kid of ours. And then Tom gets frustrated when Colden doesn't WANT to sit in front of the t.v. for more than ten minutes. Argh.
And then I uploaded the pictures I took this morning for my newest project - a peyote stitch bail with a beaded rope - and the pictures are TERRIBLE. I think it's the lighting in my new corner, and I need to do something about it.
I mean, is this a shitty picture or WHAT?! And it's the lighting. My lighting in this new corner sucks, and I need to improve it. I used to have this great overhead light with three daylight light bulbs in it, plus the huge picture window that overlooked the mountains that just let the sunlight in... And while I love the new corner, it still needs a little tweaking. The colors of this copper stoneware donut from Artisan Clay are so rich and so subtle - and this photo just sucks all the life out of it.
Anyway. That's enough for now. I've got a little more writing to do, and then I'd like to get a little sleep before Colden wakes up at 2 a.m. again.
Vet appointment with Moose tomorrow. It's been nearly five months since his last round of bloodwork, so we've got our fingers crossed that the Imuran (chemo drug) and the prednisone are doing the trick and keeping his platelets at a normal level.
What I'm really looking forward to is a little alone time in the car with Moose and a little cup of peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks...
Thursday, October 07, 2010
This is the exciting project that I've been meaning to write about on my blog since it started last week! I can't believe that it's taken me this long to get around to it, but here it is: The Best Little Bead Box.
Carol Dean Sharpe contacted me with the idea for putting together a box similar to the one that is currently circulating called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Beads, but this one is going for a good cause: Beads of Courage, a program that uses beads to help children who are dealing with serious illnesses and their families.
This is how it works: Carol, myself, and some other extremely generous sponsors all donated a large quantity of beads that were put into a box - and the box weighed in at 11 lbs! Then we chose a list of 12 beaders, most of whom are well known bead artists, some of whom are not as well known but who are no less talented and respected. Then Carol set up a schedule, and sent off the box to the first recipient, Marcia DeCoster.
This is just some of what I donated for the first box: a few ceramic faces by Diane Briegleb, some brass embroidery blanks from Designer's Findings, gemstone beads, fibers, vintage Lucite, vintage seed beads, and some other goodies that I've collected over the years...
When Marcia received the box, she took out some of the wonderful beads inside and replaced them with some beads from her own stash. The idea is to leave the box bigger and richer than it was when it was received. Then Marcia will send the box on to the next person, and so on until the box is finally returned to Carol at the end of December.
Once Carol receives the box at the end of December, we will be auctioning off the contents in packages of 1 lb. All the money raised from these auctions will be donated to Beads of Courage to help them continue their work.
You can follow The Best Little Bead Box project on the blog, The Best Little Bead Box. You can also "Like" our page on Facebook, The Best Little Bead Box on Facebook.
Because of the incredible generosity of our sponsors, we are going to be able to do a second box sometime after January of 2011. And we've received even MORE interest in donating beads to the project, so we may even do a third box after that!
So make sure you follow the blog to see where the box travels next, and we'll let everyone know when the auctions are ready to go so that you can have a chance to bid on some of the amazing beads that will be collected in this box and help us raise money for an equally amazing cause!
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Isn't this an amazing beaded bead? Wouldn't you love to win one of them? Well, click on that picture and it will take you to the blog of my very talented friend, Carol Dean Sharpe of SandFibers, who is having a giveaway on her blog for one of these absolutely beautiful beaded beads!
You can enter in a few different ways:
Leave a comment on the post on Carol's blog. Then you can Tweet it (referencing @SandFibers), you can Facebook it (and then leave a link to your post about it on Facebook) and you can blog about it (just like I'm doing now!) and then leave another comment with the link to your blog post. That gives you four chances to win!
Carol is also giving away gift certificates for patterns on her Etsy shop. I love Carol's peyote stitch cuff patterns - they are beautiful and so well-designed. I've bought several of them in the last couple of years from her, as well as a couple of her finished pieces, and they are just a delight to wear and a joy to stitch!
So what are you waiting for? Get to it!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
This is the house where I grew up in Maplewood, N.J.
On my trip to Manhattan this past weekend for the About.com Guide Event, I stayed with friends of mine who just bought a house in Summit. After my event on Saturday, instead of going back into the city on Sunday like I had originally planned, I spent a nice, relaxed, laid-back day with my friends.
First, we went to Maplewood Village and had REAL bagels. I had a salt bagel with cream cheese. And no matter how much I love living up here, there are some things that folks up here just don't "get"... Like what a REAL bagel is.
We took the dog for a walk around the streets where I can remember riding my bike as a kid. And then we stopped and they let me get ice cream at the Magic Fountain, where we went damn near every night in the summer.
Going into the city for the first time in I don't know how long was an experience. I could barely contain myself as the train carried me from Summit through Milburn, Short Hills, South Orange, Maplewood, Newark and right into Penn Station. The people-watching was amazing. My iPod provided the soundtrack. And I even managed to find a helpful person on the subway who got me to my destination at the Metropolitan Plaza.
The conference itself was great. Very inspiring, very motivating, and I came away with a ton of great ideas. (Now I just need some ideas on how to find the time to do everything that I want to!)
The only thing that put a damper on the weekend was that the bleeding was unbelievable on Saturday, and it had me a little worried. I wasn't as present at the conference as I had hoped I would be - I was jumping up to run into the bathroom every ten minutes or so to keep an eye on things, as they were. And then I was just exhausted by the time I got back to New Jersey. I think it was just from all the blood loss, and I certainly hope that I won't have to repeat this experience next month.
I know I sound a little drab this evening, but truthfully, I am still exhausted. I just don't seem to have any energy these last few days. And today was another day of crazy running - play group first thing in the morning, then grocery store, post office, dishes, cleaning up the living room from last week's play date, cooking dinner, and then finally sitting down to get a little bit of work done. It's also cold and damp and rainy, and we haven't turned the heat on yet for the season, something I'm hoping we change tonight. I'm sure if it were a little warmer in here, I'd feel a little bit better.