Monday, May 31, 2010

The Lion in the Valley

This post is dedicated to my my fellow servicemembers who are doing the good work for America and its Allies...especially Curt and the rest of the PRT in Panjshir.  :)

With Afghanistan on my mind most days, this is my lapis and lion piece that I designed with Curt in mind.  I picked up the lion beady from Artybecca who posted a few more feline pics the other day.  Plus, the color inspiration for mixing the smokey quartz with the rich blue Afghan lapis came from Cindy Gimbrone who had a great post on Monday featuring that color combo.

Here's a recent photo from Panjshir...

(Left to right) Mohammad "Marshal" Qasim Fahim, Afghanistan first vice president; James DeHart, U.S. Department of State and Provincial Reconstruction Team Panjshir director; Khalid Siddiqi, PRT Panjshir political advisor; and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, PRT Panjshir commander, talk during a May 20 meeting at Fahim's home in the Khenj District.

You can read more about this meeting and tons of other things happening in Afghanistan and around the world at the DVIDS website.

I'm not the only one with my mind on the comings and goings of folks in Afghanistan. Over on Summers Studio blog, you'll hear the love and concern of a mom whose son is in the Kunar Province.

Many thanks for your prayers, good wishes, and support. 


Friday, May 28, 2010

The "My Muse" Giveaway

I love Heather Pyle's simple blog title:  "My Muse." 

It's such a great little word.

Let me quote her:  "We all need creativity and beauty in our lives and I am happy to be living my life with my inner eyes wide open."

But, what I love even more are the great beads she's offering in a giveaway:  My Muse Giveaway

Here's a pic of the fronts:

Two-sided flower beads by Heather Pyle of Aquariart

And, if you want to see more of Heather's work, check out her Flickr photo group...there is some really cool stuff!  She's a multi-media kind of girl...sewing, photography, and clay are just a sampling of the things she works with.  There's a great variety in her Etsy shop, too! 

Even if you're not a bead person, you'll still get inspiration from her jewelry and fiber designs.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Issues in the Summer...

No, not personal issues...Stringing issues!!!

The new Summer issue of Stringing is coming out June 22nd and on Beading Daily today, there was the first "sneak peek" into the content.  My name's on there!!!  I think that's so cool!!!

What's even cooler to me is that in this little clip from the newsletter there are projects from three of us who are in the creative arts & jewelry-making blogging community!

- Heather Trudeau is the mastermind behind the work of The Peacock Fairy...notice the gorgeous peacock in her piece?
- I'm in there in the middle (whoo hoo) with a little number featuring pretty aquamarine nuggets.
- Kelly Morgan can be found expressing herself with the works of Silver Parrot...she's been doing a ton with resin lately and her adventures are a great read.

There are going to be a ton of great projects in can tell by the pretty cover!  I can't wait to see lots of other familiar names...that's one of my favorite parts of getting any one of the many beading and art magazines I have.  I feel like I know celebrities when I see my blog friends' names!  Whoo hoo!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ciao Bella!

With all of the packing going on in my house, I've been looking at all my Italian art and photos with lots of fresh appreciation...and an amazement that everything fits in a moving van!  haaaaaaaaa  I was stationed in Northern Italy for a couple of years and visited Venice many, many times...thank goodness it was before my bead hoarding trends started.  Oh, I have plenty of unique and funky jewelry from little shops all over Venice and Florence, but only a handful of Italian beads secreted away in my bead drawers.  So, when Artbeads offered me the huge glass bead selection to pick from, I went right for the Zanfirico Venetian beads for my summer blog partner adventure.  I couldn't resist this pair in baby blues and gold...a color combination that truly reminds me of the streets of Venice.

I made them my own with some baby blue wire coils, vintage lucite, and gold & silver accents.  Plus, it's finished off with a little turquoise-y blue leather.

And since I'm in total set mode...I couldn't just make the necklace.  The whole set is out in my Etsy shop.  :)

And, here's a little memory for my sweetie friend, Alicia, who just came back from an Italian vacation.  This was a road trip we took to Val Gardena back in 2003.

The Zanfirico Venetian beads used in the previous post, specifically referenced as from were provided as promotional gifts by for review or design partnership purposes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Custom Work

I can't believe I just got distracted by The Bachelorette.  Reality TV is just so wrong sometimes.  This show in particular makes me appreciate my sweetie so much...thank goodness the big Air Force got small enough for us to find each other.  :) 

Anyway, now that I just watched some dumbass sing her a song about himself and another one do a flip off the top of the limousine it's time for me to get down to posting business.  The other day I posted about a custom piece of work for a lime-green dress for my friend, Patty.  Well, she loved it.  But, as an extra bonus, I had the box of goodness on my desk at work and one of the instructors was wandering by to chat with some other students in my seminar.  I was laughing about how much I've progressed through the year...not so much in air power expertise, but more in blogging numbers.  :)  He didn't understand, so I showed him the goods.  He immediately wanted "a set" for his wife...the only specification was to use the olive green blister pearls in it somewhere.  So, here's the necklace...

I was inspired for the whole color scheme with the Cindy Craig lampwork glass focal that I picked up in Philly at BeadFest Wire.  The amethyst and olive are soooo pretty!  Here's the whole set:

I am now in "set" mode...made three of them tonight!  (It's dark now, so no pics 'til the morning.)  We had a three hour panel discussion at school on the military and the media.  Well, it gave me plenty of time to work on my creativity to-do list.  There are only a few days left in the month which means challenge deadlines, submission deadlines, and just plain old finishing up projects before I have to pack everything up for the big trip.  June 10th is right around the corner and that's when the movers take off with everything I own!  Except the beads...I pack those myself so they'll be jammed in the car with me and the kitty boys.  I can't wait.  haaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thinking about September Already? It's an ArtBLISS thing!

First off, I have to call out two great ladies I'm happy to call teachers, mentors, and friends:   Cindy Wimmer & Jeanette Ryan.  Jeanette gave me my very first wire lessons!  It feels like forever ago, but it's just been a couple of years.  She and Cindy are on the forefront of bringing new learning opportunities for jewelry and mixed-media artists to the DC area.  And, their latest announcement is a big one!!!

It's all about ArtBLISS!

The brand new ArtBLISS website has all the details on upcoming workshops including the Inaugural Event coming up in September in Washington, DC.  I'm so glad I'll be back close to the area so I can get my jewelry-making bead nerd on with these fantastic ladies and the full agenda of amazing instructors they've put together!!  Whoo hoo!

But, for now, it's Sunday evening and the only blissful thing I get to do is fold laundry.  I tried to bliss out by removing paint from an old dresser, but it didn't go all that well, so I'll have to try more paint-removing bliss tomorrow after class.  Lovely.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fine Art Glass in Montgomery?

Yep!  The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has a pretty little gallery among its exhibits that features some really amazing and inspiring work.  I took these photos (under the watchful eye of the flashes allowed!) of some of the details that are just so cool.  I treasure the miniature works of glass art that I hoard so dearly in my bead collection, but these big-ass pieces are just so amazing!

If you click on the linked titles of each of them, it'll take you to the museum pages for each specific work where you can find out more about the pieces and the artists.

Dinosaur by Lino Tagliapietra, Free-Blown Glass, 2005

Prevailing Manic Jones by Stephen Rolfe Powell, Free-Blown Glass, 2001

Melon Bouquet by Cam Langley, Free-Blown Glass, 2001

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bead Soup: Hey Cindy!!

I'm pleased to announce that my partner in Bead Souping for this second round of bead nerd debauchery is Cindy Dolezal. Cindy's a clay bead artist who makes some seriously lovely nature-inspired pieces.  I can't wait to actually get a piece for myself.  She posted earlier this week about "agonizing" over choosing just the right thing for the swap.  There are only a few parameters...include a clasp, a focal, and some coordinating beads.  And, as Cindy found, it can be harder than you think!  We "stalked" each other's blogs and websites looking for insight into style and taste...from there, it's time to "shop" through our stashes to see what we can share.

I had a great time with my partner during the inaugural BSBP (Bead Soup Blog Party...I have to use acronyms because I am in the military and that's how we talk).  Julie Nordine of Credit River Art Glass posted a teaser photo of my pending challenge set using a little photoshoppery to hide the details. 

I love that idea, so to Cindy, here are your goodies!!  They're in the mail.  :)

I'd be remiss if I didn't send some love out to the BSBP Hostess, Ms. Lori Anderson, at her Pretty Things blog where you can find a complete list of all bazillion (okay, only 97) bead nerds/partiers.

Once I get my goodies from Cindy, I'll keep ya'll posted with my progress, but you'll have to wait for the big reveal of all the party aftermath in the BSBPH (Bead Soup Blog Party Hop...haaaaaaaaa) starting on 19 June.  I'll be rocking that party from my new apartment in Hampton, Virginia!  Wish me luck with that cross-country move!  haaaaaaaaa

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Treasury Tribute to My Sweetie and His Team...

My husband, Curt, is still in Afghanistan. This morning I was thinking of him as I spent some time looking for lions and lapis...things that make me think of Afghanistan and, specifically, the Panjshir Valley.

Here's a screenshot of the Treasury I came up with...

Curt's Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is working hand in hand with other U.S. agencies and local Afghans within the Panjshir Province of Afghanistan.  Why lions? Panjshir means "five lions" and is noted as the home to Ahmed Shah Massoud, known as the "Lion of Panjshir."  Why lapis?  It's pretty!  And, he sends me some, occasionally.  :)

If you're interested in seeing more about the PRT mission in Panjshir, here's a recent video that shows the importance of the relationships between the PRT folks and the local security forces.

A Peek: ABS Design Team

With the re-vamped look of the Art Bead Scene, there's also a new feature called the ABS Design Team Challenge.  I was honored and blessed to get an invite from editor Heather Powers to participate in the first group!  I'm so thrilled!  Of course I'm not done yet, but wanted to share just a bit since I got some of her lovely nature-inspired beads to work with.

Just to get a taste of the sweetness, here's a photo of the goods from Heather's Mother's Day post on her Humblebeads Blog. 

I've got a few ideas jumbling around in my head and I think bezels and resin are going to play a part in the end result...but they're still a work in progress...this is the scene from my dining room table last night.  Wish me luck with the ICE resin!

I had a blast searching through old buttons, my grammy's pins, some dried flowers and sticks from around the house, old wallpaper from my childhood home...I want to try a variety of things so we'll see what happens and what works best with my Humblebead treats.  And, if none of them work, well then onto another idea!  haaaaaaaaa

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"I need a 'wow' piece for a lime-green dress."

First, off, many thanks to my friend, Stella, who hosted a little show for me the other day out by her pool.  I probably ate most of the cheese and drank most of the wine, but I also had a great time feeling the love of my friends for my jewels.  And, yes, Stella is one of those girls in the picture that I posted the other day so we've known each other a loooooong time.  haaaaaaa  Somehow, though, we haven't aged a bit...isn't that perfect?  haaaaaaaaaa

Okay, then, onto the business of this post.  One of the girls at the party the other night is specifically in the market for a special piece to go with a simple, summery lime green dress.  So, I told her I'd take the challenge.  She's going to her hometown in week for big family graduation parties and wants to have something that everyone will ogle.  That's some pressure, but I love working with green so I sat down last night right away to work it.  I opened up my "special glass" drawer and right away saw this kick-ass focal from Donna Millard.  (By the way, she is killin' me with the new beads...they have to be my latest faves.)

And the rest of the piece worked itself out from there...
- Funky blue jasper faceted nuggets
- Vintage turquoise lucite rounds
- Smooth onyx nuggets
- Lime green pearls & South American beans

And since everything was there on the table, there's a bracelet and little earrings to complete the set...

Cross your fingers for me...I hope this is "wow" enough for her!!!

***Post update from a week later...she LOVED the whole set!!!  :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Storage Worth Coveting

And it's on sale at Collector's Cabinets.  Whoo hoooo!  Read through to the end and I'll point you in the right direction.  :)

A couple of weeks ago I did a post about collecting versus hoarding.  I made reference to my substantial bead "collection" (not "hoard" haaaaaaaaa) and got a comment back to show some of them off.  Well, in lieu of showing the beads in detail, I want to show you how I store them!  These are hand-crafted specially-made cabinets that have spaces for plastic trays that hold just about everything! 
  I divide the drawers up into colors (I looooove my label maker) and then use the stackable little beading bins that can screw together as the spaces for each type of bead or bead mix.  I can include the pricetag in the little bin so I have the values or I put it on a label on that particular bin.  If there is a weird stone or source that are particular to that particular set of beads, I either label it or just slip a little note of paper into the bin.  I do the same with any artisan beads so I can give credit to the right artists.  The drawers are deep enough that I can take the plastic drawers from a hardware set (like you would get from Lowe's to put screws or nails or whatever in) that can hold larger bead sets or just larger items in general.

And, as you can see below, you can take the trays out to work with.  Or, if you need to take beads with you to a class or a friend's house for a big bead night, you can just screw the little bins together and voila, you have transportable storage!

Why the sudden interest in storage?  Well, I want more. More trays and more pretty cabinets!  I went back to my source:  Collector's Cabinets.  I've been chatting back and forth with Sharon, who owns the business with her husband, Dan, to come up with the perfect solution for what I want to store, in the space that I'll have (in my new tiny apartment) and for the price I can handle.

Well, Sharon is looking to sell...they are ready to sell the business, so they're trying to liquidate all the plastic storage trays and to help with that, they've put all the custom woodworking on sale, too.  Here's just a little clip from their homepage at  I would highly recommend checking out the site and giving Sharon a call if you're in the market for furniture to outfit your workshop or crafting area.  Or if you're up for a new business opportunity!!  :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer Swirlie

Just wanted to share this pic of a recent design.  I'm using the draping methods that I learned from Noel Yovovich to work with a bit of sterling silver and create a casual swirlie slide that I love paired with a simple leather choker. 
You won't find them in my Etsy shop just yet since I'm planning on a little show this weekend over at a friend's house.  She's a big fan and amazing supporter, so wine, cheese, and pretties by the pool is the perfect way to bring my year of school and creating to a close.  If there are any left, I'll bring them on to the cyber world!  :)

Oh, and as I grow my wireworking skills there's always inspiration at the Art Bead Scene...the Carnival post on growth is a great one with some really inspired links!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Gal on the Blog

My three days of wargaming at work are over, so I can finally get back to my creative blog life. 

I'm proud to introduce an old friend of mine who's now joining the crafty/beady/crazy/pretty world of jewelry blogging.  Elisabeth and her business Beads for Busy Gals now have a blog and an Etsy shop!  I have to tell you a bit about how we know each other...we're both Air Force officers and when we were junior officers a few years ago (haaaaaaaaaa) we were blessed to be stationed at Randolph AFB in lovely San Antonio, Texas with some of the coolest girls around!  The picture below is from around 2000 and since then, these classy gals have in their own ways become Air Force leaders, retirees, moms, and overall high-speed amazing. 
In the photo, there's Tracy, Abbie, Julie, Val, Susan, me, Stella, Elisabeth, and Heidi.  This family of girls and a few others who didn't make it out for Japanese that night have provided an amazing amount of mentorship and support as we've all grown through our careers.  If any of you understand rank structures, at this time, we were lieutenants and captains (O-2 & O-3) and now several of the girls are colonels (O-6) and in command of huge units!  How cool is that?! 

And if you want to see a uniformed pic, Elisabeth and I are in mess dress for a big function back around 2000...look at those little bars!  It makes me feel a little old to be looking at these pictures, but, alas, my own retirement is just around the corner!!
I guess I should get down to the jewelry biz here...Elisabeth and I met up for Bead Fest Wire up in Philly in April and I showed her how to spend serious cash in only minutes.  haaaaaaaaaaa  She's exploring different styles and materials and having a blast with it, so I highly recommend that you check out her work and give her your support!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hi Ma!

Happy Mother's Day!

Looking forward to laughing out loud with you a lot more when I'm back in Virginia in a few short weeks.  :)  We've gone from standing on the side of the parade route enjoying funny things to living right in the midst of funny things.  haaaaaaaa  Thanks for all your momness.  Love, Jen

p.s. Happy Mom's day to all you mothers out there...especially my sweetie nephews' moms, April & Julie.  Love you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Got My Solder On!

A few weeks ago up in Philly, I got some edumacation in soldering from Noel Yovovich.  The class was a follow-on for me to create a flowing silver ring since I had the class a few years ago to do the flowing loopy silver bracelet and earrings.  The draping and silver-working skills that I learned through her classes have definitely helped form my "signature style," if you could say I actually have one.

So, adding heat to the draping and shaping was a pretty big deal.  First, here's my portable work-station (which has a foundation of a jellyroll pan) that holds all the important tools along with some of the shaped rings pre-heat.
And here's my torching workshop slash stovetop.  haaaaaaaaaaa  I needed to have ventilation and that just seemed the right place to have the setup.  By the way, it's not a gas stove so I didn't risk blowing up the whole house with my little sweetie butane super-torch.  I've got to throw out some love to my friend and supply dealer, Jeanette, at Fundametals which is where I got all my tools including the cute little pickle pot.  Just seeing that little pot right now makes me want some warm cheesy queso dip or something. 

Here's a closeup of the work in progress... 

And here's the finished product!!

I'm terrifically pleased with them and can't wait to get some more torchin' on!  Off to buy some more wire...:)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beads 2010 Project: Calvin Orr

Way, way back in the beginning of this blog in 2008, I took a trip to visit my friends, The Stanleys, in Hawaii.  In addition to sandy beach adventures and wonderful fun just being together, I found the best bead shop in Honolulu:  The Bead Gallery.  Heck, it was my first jaunt into a bead store like that and I was in heaven!!  I think I made Lauren stay in there with me for at least four hours pawing over every piece in the shop.  To share some of that BGL (Bead Gallery Love) with you, here's The Bead Gallery Blog!

Well, while in the Gallery, I found some completely wonderful lampwork glass beads.  Even with a novice eye (haaaaaaaaa, now that I actually made one myself I'm no novice, right???), I knew these were amazing little works of art.  The creator?  Calvin Orr

Since that trip, I've treasured this piece that I made with a "Calvin Bead" (that's the name Lauren and I gave to these special pieces) that Lauren gave me as a gift.  It's soft and subtle and bold and unique and kind of bead.  I actually have this one hanging as decoration in my kitchen...when you have a bazillion pieces of jewelry in your house, they have to go somewhere!  haaaaaaaaaa

So why Calvin right now?  Well, with the recent arrival of the Beads 2010 magazine, I was thrilled to see his name listed among the tons of bead sources.  He has a butterfly piece on the "Bugs We Love" page that is so detailed and pretty!  His bio information on The Bead Gallery webpage include this description from a 1999 newspaper article: 

"The delicacy of Orr's beads are incongruous with his rough, tattoo-covered exterior. Orr's resume includes stints as a computer cable fabricator, janitor and tattoo artist. But it was his work in stained glass that brought him to lampworking."

That just cracks me up!  And it gives so much life to something that could be "just a bead."

It was serendipity, I suppose, that Lauren's birthday was last week and I just happened to have a delicate purple plumeria Calvin Bead from our very special shopping trip two years ago.  In my art bead bracelet way of late, here's what she got for her birthday:

If it looks kind of small for a bracelet it's because she has skinnie-minnie wrists.  :)  haaaaaaaaa  By the way, it fits her perfectly and she loves it!!  Whoo hoo!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day! May Day!

Nothing's wrong in my world's just the beginning of May. 

So, there's a few things that I'd like to say:

My husband shaved his moustache off, so we can all say "yeah"!
I wish I could see it in person, but he's still too far away.
But, he went to Bagram for meetings and sent me some beads today.
Don't know what kind they are, but they'll be awesome anyway.

Soldering's on the agenda today, but I'd be safer with clay.
The cat's chasing birds outside; hope he doesn't run away.
I'm drinking reheated coffee, much to my dismay
But I hate to waste a half a pot that's left from yesterday.

I'm going to a Cinco de Mayo party later on so I can play.
The exciting part is that the host can grill even better than Bobby Flay.
I'll take some wire with me to craft on-demand at the soiree.
Earrings and rings and are great for a giveaway.

Here's a summer necklace that's knotty in a really good way
And it's for sale in my Etsy shop, but not over on Ebay.
I'm gonna go pick some roses for a little kitchen bouquet,
So, ya'll go have a great weekend full of laughs and fun, okay?


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About Me

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

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