Saturday, December 31, 2011

Beaded Laughter Blog

Okay, so one of the reasons why I love the online community of beaders and bead artists so much is...this. Bead artist Sylvie Elise Landsdowne, who makes amazing and brightly colored lampwork glass beads, has been horsing around making hunky inspirational posters for those artists who are frantically preparing for the Tucson shows coming up in less than a month.

They started out just as a little joke between her and artist Jill Wiseman, another insanely talented beadweaving artist, and now it's just taken on a life of its own! Check out Sylvie's new blog, Beaded Laughter...

And check out this morning's blog post with my favorite hunk-a, Robert Downey Jr...

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I must be getting old, because I feel as though I've become quite a creature of habit. For breakfast every morning for the last several months (except during my little bout of cranky gallbladder syndrome), I cook a bowl of oatmeal with dried cranberries and toasted pecans and a cup of hot chocolate. (Made with milk, not water.) It's turned into a morning ritual of sorts, as I stir and pour while Colden eats his eggs or muffins or whatever he has requested for breakfast.

So this morning, with Tom home from work and me trying to get functional with dried-up sinuses, an aching lower back and a pending migraine, I found myself getting quite testy when I saw that Tom had left one of our ginormous house plants in the sink to be watered and drain, and that he had left all of the cooking utensils from his and Colden's breakfast scattered all over the stove and counter.

I grumbled to myself about messing with my morning ritual, but felt instantly better when Tom and Colden came into the kitchen with the huge airplane that Tom had built for Colden with the Tinker Toys from Santa.

Many more things I want/need to write about in the last few days, but it'll have to wait until later... Off to get our family picture taken today, and then dinner out with Kathy and Kevin!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Christmas was pure magic at our house. Colden was so thrilled to see that Santa came, and he took his time opening all of his presents - almost a full hour! It was just so much fun to watch him and see his reaction as he realized what each one was. He was totally thrilled with his Thomas, Hiro and Spencer toy trains, so we may have to complete his set for his birthday in a couple of weeks.

We've been spending every day over at Oma and Opa's house with the cousins, and while I think Colden is having a blast playing with his Reno relatives, I think he's starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Maybe time for a little break for him this morning.

The office is closed this whole week until January 3rd. And while I'm loving the time off from deadlines, not writing every day is sort of driving me buggy. I keep trying to make a little time to do some writing or some beading, and it's just not happening. If we go over to Oma's house this morning, maybe I'll bring some beading with me.

That said, the other night I was browsing beading books on Amazon, and I stumbled across this volume by Wendy Ellsworth, one of the bead artists who got me inspired to start on this path. I've always loved and admired her work, her use of color and her flawless techniques, and I was absolutely thrilled to see that she has written a book about the connection between spirituality and beading! I was even more thrilled to see that it was available for download on my Kindle app, so I had it in seconds.

I finished the first chapter last night after everyone else had gone to sleep, and now I want to start stitching a mandala. After starting up with massage therapy and acupuncture this year to treat all those lovely digestive issues, 99% of which are probably from stress, I feel so strongly like I need to find my spiritual center again.

I had to force myself to put the book down last night, because I desperately needed some sleep, but I'll be picking it up again today. My only gripe is that there aren't any color pictures, but I'll get over it. Wendy's writing is easy to read and fascinating when she talks about the long history of beads as they have been used for spiritual purposes throughout human history. I think what appeals to me the most is that she's talking about spirituality - not religion - and cosmology as she takes you through each chapter and project. There are meditation exercises and beautiful beading projects for both beginner and advanced beaders. All I have to say is, Wow. This is such an amazing book.

So, before I start stitching on a mandala today or tomorrow, I need to get the breakfast dishes cleaned up, take a shower and get Colden and I dressed, and then clean off my work table. I've also got to run some errands in Lake Placid before we pick up Tom from work this afternoon... At this rate, I'll need a vacation from my vacation!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This is the first "big" piece of bead embroidery that I've attempted since finding out that I was pregnant in 2007. It was supposed to be my entry into the December Etsy Beadweavers' Challenge with the theme of "Arabesque", but I just couldn't make the deadline.

So this afternoon when I found myself pretty much done with deadlines until January, I decided to pick it up and start stitching on it again. Lo and behold, the bead embroidery just sort of stitched itself, including some very unexpected embellishment with pearls.

And then...just when I thought I was finished...I had the "good" idea to embellish the cabochon bezels with pearls. Oh, wow. More embellishment...more pearls...totally yummy!

So, now I've got about a zillion more pearls to stitch on to this puppy. Will I have it finished for Christmas? Probably not. For New Year's? Very possibly. Will I list it in my Etsy shop? Highly unlikely.

Handmade ceramic cabochons by Lisa Peters Art. Stitched on a piece of wonderful, thick, powder blue Nicole's Bead Backing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I think we've got these holidays totally mixed up. Around Thanksgiving, I don't usually feel that "thankful" sort of thing that everyone says you should. I just feel mostly annoyed at the barrage of ads and sales and other nonsense that gets people lined up outside big box stores at midnight and pepper-spraying each other for video game consoles.

No, I start to get thankful around Christmas. When people seem to be focused on buying, buying, buying and more, more, more, I start to think about what I already have.

First of all, I have a wonderful family. Tom and Colden are more than I could ever have hoped for, and while things certainly haven't been easy these last few years, they have been more rewarding than I could ever have dreamed. Second of all, we have a beautiful home, Moose, the chickens and our gardens - they all go into making this place special. I'm thankful that we have a warm, bright home and that Tom and I have the resources and the ability to maintain it.

This year, I'm particularly thankful to have my health relatively intact after a tough year of doctor's visits and uncertainties. I'm thankful that I have the resources to address problems when they arise.

I'm thankful that I have a job that I love more than I could ever have imagined, with a team of co-workers who are truly delightful and talented, and who make me laugh out loud when I read their emails.

Lastly, I'm thankful for the healthy food in our cabinets and freezer, and our access to healthy, nourishing food. So many others are forced to go without, and with every meal, I am thankful that we have never suffered from hunger in this house.

What I'll be most thankful for this year is that we are going to have a wonderful holiday at our house, and we didn't have to spend a ton of money to do it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Manhattan, Day 2

The next morning, we ate breakfast and then headed back into the city to meet up with Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art. I've been buying Lisa's cabs and beads for a couple of years now, and I swear, she puts some kind of highly addictive drug in her clay. Every time she lists her items on Etsy, I end up buying more. And more. get the idea.

The first thing Lisa did was hand me a little package with my latest order in it. Yowza! These cabs and connectors were just gorgeous! This was already off to a good start!

We walked up to Beads on Fifth, where I had purchased and printed out a couple of special deal coupons - buy a certificate for $20 and redeem it for $40 at the store. Fantastic!

Beads on Fifth was small, but packed with beads, findings, charms and tools.

Lisa and I did a little creative collaborating...

And then we got down to the business of buying beads!

So much fun! Lisa even took a quick pic of me, Min Ping and Min Yee as we were browsing the trays and trays and trays of beads and findings.

Next up, we went to York Beads, where I nearly lost my mind just after walking in the door. All the colors, all the shapes, all the sparkle! It was almost too much!

Min Yee took my picture in front of the Wall O' Czech Seed Beads. I hadn't seen this many beads since I left my house on Saturday...

The only thing about is that you have to buy in quantity. They don't sell just a strand of daggers - you gotta buy the whole hank of daggers! Not necessarily a bad thing, but it meant that I could only get one hank of daggers, one hank of glowing copper drops and one hank of green lustered mushrooms. But considering I also picked up three new colors of 13/0 charlottes, some excellent Picasso-marbled tube beads and a strand of marbled green tribal curved daggers, I think I did pretty well.

After that, Min Ping and Min Yee went off to find lunch, but Lisa and I were just hungry for more beads. We went into Phoenix Beads, where we browsed but didn't buy, and City Beads, which was a very impressive shop, indeed. I found a few Swarovski crystal components that I need for projects for The Book, a strand of textured glass coin pearls, and a small package of metallicized plastic beads.

Lisa was totally smitten with a package of beads that looked like dice, so I helped her pick out a few little goodies to go with it for a special gift for her grandmother. (Can't wait to see that one!)

Then we wandered into the Toho store. And wow. The selection of components there was just unreal! I picked up more than a few beautiful items to bead around and to incorporate into beaded chains, as well as a set of beautiful gold wire mesh roses. (I've been lusting after those roses for a long, long time, and this seemed as good a time as any to give in!)

After we met up with the Mins again, we had some time to kill before our train back to NJ, so Lisa suggested we go into MJ Trimmings. Once again, total sensory overload combined with the deepest relief that I had left my credit card at home.

To get the full idea of what it's like in MJ Trimmings, imagine 20 foot high walls, stacked to the ceiling with boxes and boxes of buttons. All sorts of buttons. Toggles, shank buttons, painted, metal, glass, crystal...the place sparkled like sunshine! In the next room were nailheads, rhinestones and walls and walls of ribbons, lace and decorative edgings and trim.

Lisa came up to me as I was picking out a few buttons and told me that I had to see these amazing metal sequins - and I did. Oh, wow. I picked out three packages of them to take back with me.

By this time, I was totally exhausted, overwhelmed and excited all at the same time. We said goodbye to Lisa and went back to the train.

In a way, I'm glad that I don't live closer to Manhattan. I'd be in there all the time to buy beads! On the other hand, for me, the city is a place that is full of energy, excitement and inspiration, and I think I need to go back there maybe more than once a year!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Manhattan, Day 1

So,  my first morning in New Jersey with my friends, we decided to make the trek back into New York City and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I hadn't been to the Met in many, many years. Probably like ten years since my last visit - and for a place that has always provided me with inspiration and relaxation, that's ten years too long! I had wanted to go for a visit last fall when I was down in NYC for the Guide event, but just couldn't make it in that weekend.

We hopped on a late morning train into NYC and then navigated the subway. I joked with Min Yee that I was too out of shape to keep up with her. It was all I could do to keep her bobbing pony tail in my sight as she raced up and down the streets of Manhattan toward the museum!

So, there I am in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Min Ping. I was so excited to go in there and see everything! I'd been having dreams about this place, and as soon as we got past the crowded entrance hall, it was amazing.

Almost the first thing we saw was this case full of ancient Egyptian beads. It still boggles my mind how these tiny, carefully and skillfully crafted bits of sand, stone and glass have survived for thousands and thousands of years.

Stunning, aren't they?

Then we decided to go spend some time in the Asian arts wing. We spent a couple of hours admiring the insanely beautiful and quiet art of China, Japan, Tibet and India. The sculptures and statues of the Buddha in all his many forms were very inspiring and soothing for me.

Here is Min Yee, hugging a post of Nan wood in the beautiful Chinese courtyard installation.

And I totally fell in love with these doors, leading into the interior of a traditional Chinese house. They just looked so soothing and inviting with the warm wood, the carved-out lattice work and the light falling gently onto the stone floor beneath our feet.

There were a series of lattice work windows all around the installation, and we got the idea of translating them into beading patterns for netting and right-angle weave - perfect for all those new Twin seed beads I just got from Sparkle Spot Bead Shop! (In all my free time, right? But these should work up quickly, so maybe I'll at least have the basics down before Christmas!)

Then we took a photo of this intricate carved rosewood roof on the way up to the galleries with the art of Bhutan and Tibet. The light was poor, and flash photography isn't allowed in the galleries, so this was the best we could do with my little Nikon point-n-shoot.

The craftsmanship of these types of installations just thrills me. I can imagine the craftsman at work, lying on his back, looking up at his work, patiently carving out each figure and pattern from the wood.

There were more things that we saw, but unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed. I can only say that I finally got to see the famous Met Nativity Scene live, in person and up close and it was as every bit as amazing as I had expected it to be; I found myself breathless at the sight of two 17th century Japanese kimonos that were embroidered with silk and precious metal threads; and the European decorative arts wing with all of the elaborate Baroque furniture was just as gorgeous as I remembered it.

We had long talks about the differences between Eastern and Western religious art and the differences and similarities between Chinese and Japanese art and culture.

And the sushi in the cafeteria wasn't half-bad, either!

On the way home, we took a "slight detour" (according to Min Yee, who could qualify as an Olympic marathon speed-walker) and went to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. I need to figure out how to get the photo off of my phone, but we got there just as a show at Radio City Music Hall was letting out and the streets were packed with people and cars and police officers. The crowd at the Christmas tree was incredible - I don't think I've seen that many people in the same place at the same time since my first rock concert back in 1991.

I was absolutely exhausted when we got home, but a hot shower, a hot meal and some decent sleep had me recharged and ready to go the next day when we met up with Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art and did some serious bead shopping in the fashion district!

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Wow. Just wow.

I posted on Facebook about this crazy convo I received yesterday, and I was overwhelmed with the dozens of responses that I got! Truly, I am in good company when it comes to dealing with insane people who have no idea what it takes to create the type of handmade jewelry that we do.

It inspired me to get this post out on Beading Daily about How to Price Your Handmade Jewelry. 

I was even more thrilled to discover that the amazing Margot Potter addressed this in her blog this morning! Way to go, Madge!

I think what thrills me the most about this whole situations was that through the power of the Internet and our collective dedication to the art of handmade, we took what could have been a very hurtful message and turned it into something positive and humorous! Way to go, Beaders!

It was one of those days where I just wanted to sit back and give a contented sigh of, "I love my job."

Happy December! I'll be packing tomorrow for my big New York City bead shopping trip! I'm planning to meet up with a couple of beading friends, spend some time wandering around New York City, and sleeping in past seven a.m. without a rambunctious four year old yanking on my hair. (Although I will miss the rambunctious four year old terribly while I'm gone.)

What's on your agenda this December?