Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wacky Chunky Air Force Blue

I want to share some good beadiness with you...

One of my Favity McFave bead makers totally hooked me up! I said "wacky chunky disks" in a an "Air Force Blue sort of color combination" and look what Heather from HMB Studios made me!!!!

Aren't these just gorgeous?! Talk about aiming high...these are so much better than I could have even figured on.

So, why do I want Air Force blue beads? Well, there's this big Air Force Charity Ball that the Air Force Officers' Wives' Club puts on in the D.C. area to benefit the Air Force Aid Society. I got the opportunity to go last year (thanks to my bud, Wayne) and it was an absolutely wonderful five-star event. Much champagne and a fantastic meal, all while wearing a sweet mess dress uniform, led to a fantastic shopping experience in the silent auction. I decided that night that I really wanted to donate a super-fantastic-fancy piece of jewelry for the next year...which is now this year. I wanted a challenge, so I figured I'd go with an Air Force blue theme, hence, the beads! I still have a little design time, thank goodness, so I can figure out the best way to show off these beauties.

Wish me luck! :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life's a little less Cocolicious...

I said goodbye to my sweetie-girl beading helper, Coco, on Friday. She's been sick for a few months and it was just that time. In her honor...here are a few fond memories...

She first came into my life in front of the BX (that's the Base Exchange) at Aviano Air Base, in Italy, in 2003. I was feeling lonely and there she was with her family who was headed to Japan and couldn't take her. We were a perfect match! My friend, Alicia, was there and we both laugh regularly at my insane response to this family as I rambled on in a crazy-cat-lady-wannabe way that I just had to take Coco with me right then and there!

She was there for a lot of moves (six different houses!), dealt with a lot of craziness, and helped me settle into where I am now...happily married, happily beading, and loving life. :)

Giving me the look..."I know I just ate and I look relaxed, but when can we have treats?"

Sprawling on the new Gabbeh rug which she immediately claimed by clawing

We spent a few years in Italy...she fell in love with the olive wood cutting boards I brought home from a trip through Tuscany. It was the strangest thing, but she would love all over them!She's saying..."uh, nice slippers, crazy cat lady...now where are the treats?"

Helping out with the beading business...by drinking out of "her" water glass on the desk...it was either that or the toilet!

This tub was a hand-me-down from her bud, Max...it was her favorite place.

Because I thought she might want someone to hang out with, I brought Frankie into the family...she looks like she really loved sharing! haaaaaaa

And then I went and got married and a new brother came to live with us...Brando. She was obviously very welcoming! haaaaaaaaa

In spite of all her wonderful Siamese-ness...she was the sweetest, cuddliest and funniest cat. I'm going to miss her dearly; it's going to be hard now that she's not here to run the house! haaaaaaaaaaaa

Going Analogous...

That's like a combination of "anal" and "gorgeous" which just totally made me laugh...it's like a fancy little vanity table that's very tidy. haaaaaaaaa
This is my take on #2 of the Beads-of-Clay Color Challenge series. You can see other details about the challenge on the Artisan Clay blog. The basic requirements are: use a clay bead (earthen clay, porcelain or ceramic--not polymer) and follow the analogous color "code."

I like this color challenge series because it starts with simpler combinations (one color) and works towards more complex mixes (many colors). Because it's a gradual design process, I've been gradually studying color more...both in books and just by observing the world around me a little differently. For instance, warm, punchy colors permeate my home's decor...there are pinks and oranges everywhere. But, they all fall on a nice, cool, relaxing denim blue couch or a heavy, rich brown wooden dining room table. I guess that's how I design my jewelry, too...depends on the mood. Do I want punch or do I want soothing? But, then, there are so many other textural factors to think of, too, that the options are just so much fun to think about!


To help steer my color-related mind, I used a handy-dandy Border's coupon and got myself a new book: Color Index by Jim Krause. Its main audience, as far as I can tell, is print and web graphic design--there are lot of things about mixing formulas for the best screen or print results. But, to quote the author, "Simply put, use this book however you like." So, for a designer/beader/artisan/crafter, the book is great to educate on color basics (like what an analogous color scheme is) but also to trigger ideas about color combinations and how different values (lightness or darkness) can work. There are pages and pages in this little guidebook that pull combinations from the world around us...both natural and media-created. If you want to take a look at inside the book, you can go to the Jim Krause Design website and "cyber flip" through a few.

Anyway, enough on the book...on to the beads!!!

This work was inspired by the big porcelain focal bead over on the left-hand side of the necklace. I would love to tell you the designer, but I can't for the life of me remember. I know, though, that I bought it at a trunk show at the sweet little bead shop in Alexandria, Virginia called Bead Obsessions. Patricia always has wonderful treats in the store, but I failed to write down the info...I even found the receipt from Valentine's Day, 2009...nice record-keeping. :)
**I have an update! The bead artist is Bill Batts--according to Patricia, he was from North Carolina at that time. :)

I went with the violet and blue analogous color scheme with this eclectic mix of beads. Plus, I created my own wire-worked links to add a little bit more interest to the asymmetry...

Materials:
- Lovely big "mystery designer" **Bill Batts** porcelain focal with a great blue-violet finish
On the Blue Side:
- Navy glass ovals (from a bead swap with a friend)
- Blue spotted Kazuri bead (from Off the Beading Path)
- Denim blue lapis square pillows (from Potomac Bead Co.)
- Navy leather finished with sterling crimp ends (from Artbeads)
On the Violet Side:
- Dyed purple rough-cut agate nuggets
- Amethyst rectangles & nuggets (from Michael's)
- Blue-violet agate ovals
& violet simple cut stones(from Potomac Bead Co.)
- Lampwork glass disks (from HMB Studios)

Here's to the blues (and violets) on a rainy Sunday morning. :) I have to go take a nap before reading about nuclear strategy...or should I say not reading about nuclear strategy and playing with my latest bead goodies instead. haaaaaaaaaaa

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Little Package of Beadalon Goodness

A couple of days ago, I posted about a not-very-successful class effort I tried. Even though I didn't get the big chance I wanted to share some skills with some new folks, I still ended up with a cute little earring design.


I got the greatest compliment on that post...Margot Potter, the Impatient Crafter herself, saw my post and my reference to the book "Exposed" that features all sorts of Beadalon components. She actually commented on my blog! I was shocked and honored! But, even cooler, she saw my joking note about my lack of compensation for glowing reviews of the produts and had Beadalon send me some samples! I got a great little pack of treats!

I'm so excited to go make something new! My fave things from this little package of goodness:

- crimp covers - the little "open beads" that you can use to cover up a not-so-pretty crimp and make it look like a bead

- sterling silver crimp ends - I didn't even realize Beadalon components came in sterling silver!

I'm gonna go do some more browsing on the Beadalon website to see what other neat tidbits I may need in my workshop!

So, many thanks to Margot & Beadalon for the crafty love!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Soviets Vs. The Soup

I'm torn. I have a two-page paper to write about the Soviet Afghan War book I just read (or sort of skimmed) but I also received my lovely bead soup from Julie! What's a girl to do??? The paper's not due until tomorrow...and it's ONLY two pages!!! haaaaaaaaaa

So, the soup wins! Check out this phenomenal set of artwork from Julie Nordine's Credit River Art Glass. It's so classy and gorgeous and textured and pretty and original and fun...I am so excited! I'm honored to be able to work with such great pieces! That focal alone...aren't you all coveting?!! haaaaaaaaaaaa

So, as Julie wrote in her post about receiving my soup, we're both in for a challenge. These lovely subdued colors are going to be a joy to work with, but certainly not something I'm used to. :) Plus, I am loving the copper! I am ready to channel my friend Jeannette Blix (another bead partier) who first started me on metal...I'm going to get my hammer out and see what happens! I'm generally a silver girl, but the richness of the beads with the copper-finished ends is just too much goodness...I have to follow that path.

Speaking of paths...I guess it's time to move towards Afghanistan and the two pages that have to be done before tomorrow morning. But, not before one more look at my goodies! haaaaaaaaaaa

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lending a Crafting Hand

I was just wandering around some other Bead Soup Party blogs and found the lovely JBird's Garden. In addition to all the great jewels and beads, there's a special link to a great organization that I haven't seen before: Craft Hope. So, I did a little digging to find out about this crafty group that is doing good things one project at a time.

This week they created Craft Hope for Haiti. In just two days, through item donations to the special Etsy shop as well as lots of shoppers, they've raised over $7,000 for Doctors Without Borders, with 100% of the proceeds going to them. The medical need in Haiti right now is acute, as any of us can see.

(Click on this button to go shopping!)

No matter what your craft or your need for shop, click on the button below to check out the variety of goodies. They're listing new items constantly as donations come in. You'll see some of my polymer clay there soon!

And, to share a quote from a recent Craft Hope post that I really liked:

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” — Nelson Henderson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Credit River Art Glass...The Party's Started!...

Here's the link to my partner...Credit.River.Art.Glass: THE PARTY HAS STARTED....

Julie got her package of Jen Judd goodies...so we're on! Plus, look at that teaser of pretties!!! I can't wait!!!

Cheers to all Bead Soup Partygoers!!!! :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Art Bead Scene Challenge - Shadowy Branches Necklace

It's Art Bead Scene Challenge time...for January, it was a wintery, chilly scene...

Monet's "La Pie" © Musée d'Orsay


My interpretation focuses on the shadows and the branches with the idea of a solo piece holding court in the midst of it all. I used some silver-toned craft wire to create a branch with lots of texture and shape that frames the solo Bronwen Heilman glass feature. If you're familiar with her work, this doesn't seem like her norm, but it's one of a few freeform, smooth, lovely glass disks that I got last year (or maybe even the year before) at Beadfest in Philadelphia. I love the juxtaposition of the smooth bead with the texture of the wire...sort of like the warm sun on the cold snow in the painting.

I've been thinking about this challenge for a couple of weeks and this idea came to me during a lecture on Joint Operational Planning. Yes, while learning about how to come up with war plans, I was sketching jewelry. I guess that's how I tie my two worlds together...part of operational art is learning how to think outside the box. So, my very military-looking pink notebook has a great combination of ideas! haaaaaaaaaaa

Pic Me Up - A little Kansas City

It's a Saturday morning and I'm chilling out just thinking about my sweetie who's out practicing base defense somewhere in Indiana right about now. I decided to use some pictures from our recent Kansas City trip as a little happy memory. I was trying to fancy myself a photographer during this trip so here are some of my takes from around our hotel:


A view of the plaza from our boutique hotel, The Raphael

Some "sole searching" for inspiration.
(I laughed for 10 minutes after that comment...Curt didn't think it was quite that funny.

A little trip to the antique shopping area...but it was just a drive by because it was soooo cold and snowy!

Inside the Raphael, there were these lovely beaded chandeliers...pretties are everywhere!
It's the start of our first new year together...complete with me jamming his head into our self-portrait and making sure my necklace is visible. haaaaaaaa


The view of the plaza from our room...playing with the exposure to turn the bright lights into lovely hearts (or upside-down butts) :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ready, Set, Teach...

Or, in my case, ready, set...sit with one friend-turned-student and make earrings. Last night I had a class scheduled, with five folks signed up, and only one actually made it. We definitely had fun making earrings and gabbing, so it was worthwhile for that reason. And, some other buds showed up after a late night at class and an extra-long happy hour. Again, I love these girls, but how did this happen? haaaaaaaaaa

I guess I have to learn some lessons...even if I spend hours developing project ideas, preparing materials, and getting the house all cleaned up, it doesn't make a difference if I haven't marketed properly. :)

But, in the meantime, with that experience behind me...I want to share these cute little earrings:

I recently picked up "Bead & Wire Jewelry: Exposed" which is a design book featuring Beadalon & Swarovski products. I've never been a huge consumer of either, but I think Margot Potter is wonderful and she teamed up with Fernando DaSilva and Katie Hacker for this book. So, I figured there has to be something neat to learn. I was a bit surprised by all the exposed elements like crimps and wire, but then, uh, I read the title again....haaaaaaaaaa. Nice. Exposed.

One of the coolest little components I noticed while perusing these projects were the Beadalon crimp ends. I use big sterling silver crimp ends all the time to finish off leather, but they're usually expensive so I never would've thought about using them on plain old beading wire. These little non-sterling smaller (cheaper) options looked like a great idea! So, after a quick trip to Michael's (with a coupon, of course) I had two different sizes of these crimp-able ends in my hands. Since I was in prep mode for an earring class, that's what I went for...a little bit of shiny beading wire, some of my fave HMB Studios glass disks, a couple of little silver spacers all combined with the crimp end to make a sweet little earring. I can see endless possibilities with these considering all the fun colored and textured beading wire out there. Plus, just think of all those pretty beads that need to be showpieces all by themselves!! haaaaaaa

p.s. I'm not being paid to endorse any products. (Although I certainly wouldn't mind! haaaaaaaaa)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Party Partner...

A couple of days ago I posted about Lori Anderson's Party. Well, it turns out there are 83 artists/bloggers/beaders/crafters attending!! How cool is that?

The greatest email was waiting in my inbox this morning from Julie Nordine, of Credit River Art Glass. She's my Party partner. :) What does that mean? She's going to send me beads to work with and I'll send her a set of goodies from my collection...then, we take those sets and work them into something spectacular. Not only is she a fantastic lampwork bead artist, she's an Air Force girl, too! Well, she grew up with an Air Force dad and that certainly counts. :) She has a great gallery on her website: Julie Nordine - Credit River Glass that you should definitely check out. Here's just one sample of her work...

Isn't it seriously gorgeous? She says her bead style is "fairly organic.... in a strong, exaggerated & stylized sort of way." Anything that's strong, exaggerated & stylized sounds great to me! She's writing to the bead-blog world from Minnesota on her Credit River Art Glass blog and there are more great pictures and stories.

So, great to meet you, Julie! And best wishes to all the others at the Party!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Color Challenge...

And, no, I don't mean trying to fit into my blues on a Monday! haaaaaaaa (For those who might wonder what I'm talking about, I'm in the Air Force and we wear our blue service uniform on Mondays. It tends to be a little less forgiving in the fit department than the camouflage of the other days of the week.)

The challenge I'm talking about this time I found on the Beads of Clay blog. It's going to require a little bit of practice thinking about the color wheel in different ways with new combinations of colors every couple of weeks. I own at least six books on color (buried in my crafty-book bookcase) but find myself drawn to the same color palettes most of the time. My brother, an artist, once told me that color is all about "trippin' out the rods and cones." That always cracks me up, in an eyeball-anatomy-nerd sort of way. :)

The other cool thing about these challenge projects is that they're focused on clay beads--that's earthen clay like porcelain, stoneware, earthenware, terra cotta, or raku--rather than polymer clay, which is what I've worked with before. There are tons of great clay artists out there so not only do I get to think outside my normal boxy workspace, I get to shop for some great new beads! haaaaaaaaa
For the first challenge, the focus is "Monochromatic." This scheme can be considered one color--just tones and shades of that one color. Well, I happened to have this fantastic clay & recycled glass pendant by Kristie at Artisan Clay which is where I first saw the challenge post! It's in a vibrant violet that actually looks to me more like a red-violet than a blue-violet. Either way...I was able to feature the pendant prominently amidst a mix of big funky cut stones. Then, the back is finished off more daintily with amethyst and pearls. I'd highly recommend Kristie's shop at Artisan Clay Jewelry Etsy Shop.

Since I was in the monochromatic groove, I decided to do another piece--this one turned into a set of earrings. The denim blue porcelain charms that are central to the design came from Marsha Neal. I strung a variety of blues on beading wire and used a Beadalong crimp end, that has a little ring on it, to finish it off. This creates a perfect link to an earring wire.

If you're up for some color challenge or just want to see some pretty work, check out the Beads of Clay blog. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kansas City's Finest, Beadiest, Shops!

While visiting the Velasquez clan--now my clan--in Kansas City over the holidays, my sweetie husband helped me plan a little bead shopping adventure one afternoon. The weather was freezing and we had to take a break for some KC BBQ, but we got to two shops and I had great experiences at both and want to share!

First, there's The Bead Shop in the Overland Park area of the city. They have something for just about every beader! Some of the newer fun stuff like metal stamping but lots of the seed bead basics, too. They have a huge selection of base metal chain in all sorts of pattern and sizes that really caught my eye. I saw some stone cuts that I haven't seen before, too, which was cool. Plus, I got sucked into the glass case featuring the "good stuff" at the counter. You know, those cases have the fanciest, prettiest, and most budget-unfriendly stones that you'll ever drool over. Well, I didn't just drool...I couldn't hold back on this gorgeous strand of imperial jasper.

So, overall, a great shop to check out if you're in the area. I got some great, enthusiastic help from the staff while I browsed for close to an hour. :)
Next, there's the shop over in Lenexa called The Heartland Bead Market. I was overwhelmed by the walls full of color! They have great lighting that really makes the most of an extensive collection of Czech glass. I'm not usually a big fan, but I couldn't resist perusing the entire wall and ended up with some pretties! The stones were gorgeous and I ended up with way more than I probably "need" but I couldn't resist. The staff was wonderfully helpful and encouraging when it came to making some interesting stone combinations. :)
Plus, I'm now nearly obsessed with lapis because it's native to Afghanistan and I have a personal connection there now. :)
So, I may not have the most powerful endorsement, but I'm a world-wide bead shopper and these are both places that I'll definitely visit again!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Joining the fun of the Bead Soup Party

A couple of days ago, the Art Bead Scene posted about throwing parties and giving beads center stage in the fun. Luckily, I've stumbled into just such a party being hosted by Lori Anderson on her Pretty Things blog. It's going to be virtual, so a lot less wine will probably be consume, but I still can't wait to see what happens!! I'm so thankful for all my wonderful bead friends here in blogland!

To quote Lori:
"Life should be full of beautiful experiences and pretty things."
Some good words. :)

Starting 2010 in a Big & Bold Way

I'm finally getting in the groove of this new year...
- starting another semester of my Air Force school with a whole new "home room" of folks to meet.
- dealing with a spoiled cat who is driving me batty with a capital P.
- missing my husband after a fantastic two weeks together over the holidays.
- trying to lose a few pounds, just because it's that time of year and I have a few pounds that could use some losing.
...but, most importantly, I picked up a copy of the Winter 2009 Issue of Stringing and am so happy to see a familiar big, bold piece on the cover!


One of the coolest things about this cover is that I found the hardcopy of the magazine at one of the bead shops I visited while in Kansas City visiting my husband's family. It was a wonderful treat to find it while shopping with my sister-in-law, Kim. I'm so proud, and the design brings back such wonderful memories from my July 2009...including my pretty engagement ring. I was all about the big sparkle that week and it certainly shows in my choice of stones.

So, here's to all of you, my bead blog friends, on the start of a fantastic new year. Looking forward to sharing inspiration, lessons, and just plain old good times with all of you!

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Charleston, SC, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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