Friday, February 24, 2012

Stuff Beaders Say

The other night, this video was making the rounds amongst those of us at Interweave's Jewelry Group:

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

"Just one more round!"
"I don't count how many hours a project takes me, I count how many movies I watch while I'm making it."
"Please don't break, please don't break, please don't break..."
"I really need more beads."
"Green iris AB and blue iris AB are so different!"

Even Tom got a laugh out of this one. He recognized most of this Stuff Beaders Say!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Diane Fitzgerald's Favorite Beading Projects

Diane Fitzgerald is one of the first bead artists who had a name that I recognized. I think that her book Beading With Brick Stitch was the very first beading book that I purchased. (It certainly has seen better days - "well-loved", I believe is the correct term.)

So, seeing what Lark has been doing in the beading book world the last few years, I've been looking forward to seeing their new book, Diane Fitzgerald's Favorite Beading Projects. Sure enough, sprinkled throughout the projects in the book are some Diane Fitzgerald classics like her One-to-Many Strand Necklace, Yao Necklace, and her Knotty Necklace. There are a few bracelet and pin projects scattered throughout the book, but the majority of these projects are necklaces - which is great for a necklace-lover like me!

I was a little surprised when I saw the range of jewelry-making techniques in these projects, but then I remembered Diane's beautiful fiber finger-weaving work with artist Helen Banes, and I realized that these projects represent the very best of Diane's extensive technical knowledge when it comes to crafting beaded jewelry. There are knotting projects, beadweaving projects and assemblage projects that use some basic wire skills to create.

Not all of the projects are technically challenging for an advanced beader, but they are most inspiring. In the Buddhist tradition of getting back to a "beginner's mind", some of these projects will provide a wonderful and welcome break when you just want to bead something beautiful. If you want to expand your general jewelry-making skills to include work with fibers, fabric and knotting, this is the book for you.

I don't know if I could pick just one favorite project from the book. Diane's Yao Necklace is something that I've wanted to try for years and years, and the range of color palettes presented in the book did little to discourage me from dropping what I was doing and diving right in. The Pussy Willow necklace takes my breath away - so simple, but so beautiful! It's a graceful reminder of what the beads are capable of just by themselves without a lot of difficult maneuvering and complicated thread paths. Her Sea Urchin Necklace, with its row of flowers made from those yummy matte glass daggers stitched to a knotted cord base, is bright and bold and definitely not for the faint of heart. (For the faint of art?)

Diane has really allowed herself to develop as an artist over the course of her career, and this book is a delightful compilation of all the skills and techniques she has mastered along the way. For any serious bead artist looking for something new to try, Diane Fitzgerald's Favorite Beading Projects will provide hours of enjoyable beading projects.

If you check out the Lark Crafts website, you'll find a free project from the book: Fortune Teller Beads Necklace.



I'm having one of those days where I just feel...stuck. Yesterday was great, despite the fact that I was running around like a maniac between doctor appointments, dropoffs and pickups, and trying to squeeze in some work at Starbucks. My brain was overflowing with things to write, and I was inspired by my music and the view from the dashboard of my car.

Today, nothin'.

I got up, made my breakfast and got dressed in "real" clothes. I kept the fire going. I did my routine with Colden and got him out the door to preschool on time. I sat down and checked in with my email and my to-do list. Then I pulled up the blogs that I started last night.


So, I did some beading. Took some photographs for a tutorial and a blog and edited all of them. Still stuck. I made a strung necklace with the lovely beads I got from this month's Beadin' Path Beads In the Mail club. I had some lunch and a couple of cookies.

Still nothin'.

Part of what's bothering me is this damn herringbone bezel that I've been trying to stitch. It was a brilliant idea, and I know I had seen it before. I found the directions and tried modifying mine so that it used some of the techniques from the other version. And no matter what I did, short of using glue or double-stick tape (which I really don't want to do) the damn thing just pops right out.

My crazy messy beading work tray right now. There are at least three different projects there. The scattered beads and projects perfectly reflect my state of mind right about now. Drat.

And then there's the part of me that's been feeling so good lately. The part that thinks, "No, this can't be happening. Isn't there something wrong with you? No, there must be something wrong with you. There was always something wrong with your mother, so there must be something wrong with you."

Lately, I've felt as though I'm on the verge of something...big. But I just don't know what. Yesterday, it seemed as though every license plate I saw had a message for me - literally. They all spelled things out, like "LKPLCDSK8". Some of them I just couldn't understand...and it made me think that maybe the Universe has something else big waiting for me.

Or, I could just be thinking too much again and need a walk in the backyard or the woods to clear my head a bit. At the very least, I could go empty and reload the dishwasher...

I'm stuck. I don't know why.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Seeking a Friend For the End of the World

Tom stumbled across this movie preview the other day, and made me watch it, because it looks like it's going to be a damn good movie:

But now, the damn thing is just HAUNTING me. I won't go into too much detail, but let's just say that my nightmares could be written up and sold to Hollywood for lots and lots of money - which is what I would do if Tom ever lost his job so that he wouldn't have to go back to work - and this one just sort of fits right in along with the other end-of-world catastrophes that I dream about at night.

The thing is, it also got me thinking. What if the world were going to end in three weeks? My main concern, of course, would be for my son. But what else? I'm lucky enough that in the last few years, I've had jobs that I love and have been able to do things that I love every single day with no regrets. But what about my husband? What about everyone else?

Not everyone gets to do what they love every single day. Should we all go around with that idea in the back of our heads? This could be the last day of Life As We Know It, so make it count, people!

How realistic is that?

Well, we can think about it another way. If today were the last day of Life As We Know It, what would be important to you? Spending time with the people you love? Being out in nature? Eating well with friends?

One thing that we can do every day to make our lives matter is to show compassion towards others. It's not as easy as we think it is, and it's even easier than we believe. It takes a concentrated effort to set aside your judgements of other people, especially strangers and acquaintances, but if we can just look at someone as simply another human being with the same desires to be happy and comfortable as we have, we can find a way to extend compassion to that person.

I saw a picture on Facebook this morning that disturbed me. It was a picture of a U.S. soldier with a couple of Army dogs, and it said something about how you can judge a man by how he treats an animal. What about how these soldiers treat "the enemy"? What about how "the enemy" treats us?

We're all just people, people. I know, it's not the same when someone has a gun pointed at your head, literally. But why are they pointing that gun at us in the first place? I'd like to bet that somewhere along the line, a lack of compassion had something to do with that.

Tell me I'm simple, tell me that the world's problems can't be solved with more compassion, and I'd have to tell you that I believe you are wrong. If you've never meditated before, take a few minutes to meditate on this: picture someone you consider to be an enemy. It doesn't matter if you know the person or not. You can choose a public figure, a politician (easy to do, I think) or even the guy who cut you off on your way to work yesterday. Think about them as a person. Because really, they aren't some super-space-being who doesn't share your anatomy and physiology. They might not share your philosophies or your beliefs, but they are people. They need to eat and shit and breathe just the same as you. And you don't know what their story is. You don't know that they are going through an incredibly painful divorce or had just been diagnosed with a serious health condition or just lost a beloved pet. Just think about them as a person, if you can. Once you can think about them as a person, just another human being, then you can feel compassion for them. They are no better, no worse than you. They want all the same things as you do: security and love.

So think about this in your next end-of-the-world scenario: yes, it matters that you are nice and act with compassion towards the people that you love on the last day of Life As You Know It, but I would argue that it's just as important to act with compassion towards the people that you don't know.

And this is why I have a hard time turning off my brain at night. Because I think like this all. the. time.

And if Tom ever loses his job, I'll sell my ideas to Hollywood.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if we stopped giving energy to every single stupid thing that comes out of Fox "news". Seriously. Women in the military should "expect" to be raped? For real? Did that commentator have a cup of stupid for breakfast that morning?

What would happen if we just looked at her, said, "Yeah, whatever, lady," and then just went about our business? I can't stand seeing this thing plastered all over Facebook and Yahoo. It's just so idiotic. When did being stupid and hurtful become okay?

At any rate. I decided the other day that I am no longer reading the "news" stories on Yahoo or some of the other news websites like CNN. All they do are spread negativity and sadness, and the only thing I can really do about them is to push them aside and concentrate on making my life as positive and happy as possible.

Yes, the GOP is still waging its war on women, minorities and the poor. And I'll keep up with what's happening in politics and science so I can voice my concerns to my elected representatives. But other than that, no more "news" for me.

Unless it comes from Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, that is...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arianna Huffington
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grey February

Woke up to the news this morning that Whitney Houston has died. So sad. She was such a truly talented and gifted singer. Tom and I talked this morning about how much we loved her music when we were kids.

And I can hardly believe that it's been over a week since my last blog post! Yikes. It was a crazy week full of deadlines, getting back into my rhythm, and resisting the urge to just dive in to the eighteen gazillion projects I've had floating around in my head ever since Tammy and I hit The Best Bead Show last week.

Today is a grey, crappy, dark, and freezing cold February day. We're supposed to go clean out Tom's parents' chimney this afternoon, but his back has been bothering him again, and I'm not crazy about the idea of him climbing on the roof while he's hurting. It seems like it'll be a good day to stay home, stay cozy by the fire, clean up the house, and bake some cookies.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tucson! Tucson! Tucson!

I finally arrived at my hotel at a few minutes after midnight after 17 hours of travel. I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see a bed as I was that night!

The next morning, I bumped into Leslie Rogalski down in the lobby and she and Kristal Wick and I went over to the Swarovski showroom so I could have a look around.

The mountains in Tucson were amazing. I always forget how dramatic they are - not like the New York mountains that are covered in trees. No, these mountains are tall and jagged and dotted with scrub and rocks.

As I was wandering the tables at Swarovski, I noticed - lo and behold! - that Stephanie Dixon, aka The Dixon Chick, was here! I found her just as she was finishing her class, and I got a big hug (and an amazing crystal and wire ring!) from her!

I had been chatting with a very nice woman named Barbara in the hallways outside the classrooms earlier, and what do you know? Barbara's husband was a student in Stephanie's class that morning!

It was so very cool to see someone who was not a woman taking a wire and sparkly bead class!

There were a bunch of us from Interweave at the showroom that morning, and I left with Melinda Barta and some of the lovely ladies from Interweave Events and we headed over to The Whole Bead Show. Of course, I went over to The Beadin' Path and loaded up on lovely vintage goodies...!!!!

Vintage Czech glass pearls, vintage Lucite beads and cabochons, vintage brass neck collars, vintage brass charms... It was enough to make my head spin!

And sure enough, my head was spinning pretty good by the time we finished at Whole Bead. Melinda and Danielle were kind enough to bring me back to my hotel so that I could crash for a few hours before the Interweave party so that I could function.

Alas, even after a three hour nap and a shower, I still had to bail early on the party. It was great fun to chat with Maggie Meister and Rebecca Nunn of Nunn Designs and the great ladies from Beadin' Path, but by eight o clock, I knew I was on my last legs. A quick cab ride back to the hotel and I was asleep before nine o clock! (Which is actually 11 back home in New York, so I feel justified.)

I slept for about ten hours straight, which was exactly what I needed, and then got up for Day 2 of my trip, where I spent the day at The Best Bead Show with Tammy Jones!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Difference in Airports

Take note: The Albany, NY airport has a lovely mediation room, complete with comfy cushions and a nearly soundproof door.

The Las Vegas airport has flashing lights, slot machines and loud music.

I can't wait to get to Tucson.

Working Through It

When you have an anxiety disorder, things are hardly ever what they seem. It's hard to make people understand that, and sometimes it's hard for me to remember that.

What I've found lately is that either my anxiety attacks are increasing or I'm just more aware of them. Either way, I'm working with my acupuncturist to find ways to work through it so that I don't allow myself to be crippled by it.

While I love working from home and feel most productive at my little laptop in my cozy corner of the living room, I do not fancy the idea of a life that hardly extends beyond those walls. I used to love to travel and would hop on planes to see my family in Texas once a month. I saw myself as someone who traveled well and enjoyed the adventure of getting on a plane (or a train) and landing in a new city.

The anxiety disorder has changed that to some degree. I find that I worry more about things. I lay awake at night and wonder, "What if?" And worst of all, I find myself manifesting physical symptoms at times that are nothing more than a stress reaction, yet make me feel like my world is coming to an end.

So now that I know I have this anxiety, what do I do?

I buck up, I buy a cozy travel pillow, make sure to pack for any contingency, and I work through it.

When I was at the Met in December, I found myself wandering through one of the galleries of Tibetan art by myself. As I looked at the gorgeous artifacts in the cases, I suddenly realized that I was dizzy, sweating, and that I felt as though I was going to pass out or throw up - or both.

Instead of giving in to the panic, I reminded myself that this was just a stress reaction and that I would survive. I remembered my breathing techniques. I sat down for a moment and took out my sketchbook and pencils and drew while I waited for my heart to stop pounding.

Yes, the dizziness and pounding heart subsided. And by the time my friends caught up with me, it was like nothing had ever happened.

So, as I sit here at the Albany airport and wait for my flight to start boarding to take me on my next adventure to Tucson, I will sip my water, nibble on my snacks, and remember that this, too, will pass.