Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Last Friday!!

It's a big day here in's almost the last Friday of the month and that means a lot of things:

a.  I only had a three day work week and it's almost over.
b.  I get to learn weaving tomorrow at Art & Soul over at the convention center.
c.  I have to finish my Art Bead Scene challenge piece for April.
but...most importantly for right now...
d.  It's the inaugural Artisan Clay Design Team reveal!!!

First off, I have to give a little intro to Kristie Roeder, the creative force behind Artisan Clay.  I initially found Kristie's work out here in blog world when I found the Beads of Clay group.  I used to be a glass-artbead-only kind of girl before I discovered all the goodness in clay, porcelain and ceramics.  Now I have more than one "special art bead" drawer full of little earthenware art pieces...lots of them happen to be Artisan Clay originals.  I love being able to support a fellow Pennsylvania girl and was thrilled when she came up with the idea for a design team to feature her work.  Luckily, I got in on this first round and got to work with one of her latest styles in a metallic bronze finish.  There are five different designers who got to work with five different styles, all in a similar finish.  I'll point you to those other blogs later in the post, but for now, here are a few examples of the raw material I got to work with:

Since it's a nice substantial, rugged donut, I decided to make it part of a focal design.  It could've stood all on it's own with a simple leather knot but I decided to take it a couple of steps further.

I happened to have this phenomenal lampworked glass bead from Alice St. Germain that I picked up recently from the artist herself in Philly.  The rustic, soft colors of the bead softened the rugged "edge" of the donut and I had to have them together.

The lighting on my photos isn't the greatest, but you should be able to see that I used a couple of different leather scraps--some skinny and some more thick and suedish--to pull the feminine into the design.  I just adore the color of the leathers which are sort of orange-coral-red-pink-awesome.

Aside from getting to revel in the world of clay and glass art beads, I feel like I kind of reached a personal milestone in creativity with this one...I didn't even think about looking for a ready-made clasp in my "ready-made-clasp" drawer and reached immediately for wire to make my own!  I'll throw a thanks out to Judy (my bead soup partner) and Cindy W. (who just makes awesome wire work) for the inspiration and helping me realize that a little bend and a couple of coils is a good thing.

I'm only one of the luckies this month so you've gotta see the rest:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Latest Colorful Wire Squiggle Pendants

New in my Etsy shop...I'm going to do better about putting things in there so I can actually sell them instead of just looking at them here in my house!  If you're in Bedford, there are some of these at the Arts Council shop in the Anderson House and you'll see them at Arts on the Square in June.  :)

These are colorful versions of the wire squiggle pendants in nice, deep resin-filled bezels.  There's a pinky-peachy one...

And an ocean-inspired blue and green one...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Countryside Garden Flower Shots

I don't have beading tools with me, but I do have my camera, so I continue to look for color and texture inspiration.  Here are some shots from Countryside Gardens here in Bedford.  We were there picking up a couple of flower arrangements and I got a chance to shoot some blooms with no breeze blowing them all around!  You can almost feel the pollen coming off these babies!!  haaaaaaaaaa  Makes me want to go get some allegra.  :) 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Connecting in my hometown for an art show opportunity

I'm at home in my sweet little town of Bedford, Penna. on vacation.  Part of my "work assignments" for the week is meeting up with Heidi, who runs the shop at the Bedford County Arts Council Building.  There are now a ton of my finished jewelry pieces available for sale there.  She has done great work organizing the shop to feature work from all kinds of local artists:  photography, textiles, painting, prints, name it.  I'm thrilled to be a part of the group!

I have a message to pass on to all my crafty, artisan friends out there who may be near enough to Bedford and are interested in a smaller show in June.  The Arts Council is sponsoring "Arts on the Square" in downtown Bedford.  It used to be a one-day event, but to make it more worthwhile for exhibitors, it's now two days.  This year it's on Saturday and Sunday, June 25th and 26th.

This is a shot of my brother, a portrait artist,  doing a sketch of my mom.  :)  It's a family affair!
I realize the show is just around the corner, but still wanted to pass along the word because they're looking for about 10 more craftsmen/artists.  If I had the leave to spare, I'd be there, but instead I'm just doing some networking.  They don't have anyone who does lampwork or polymer clay nor do they have anyone who is just selling beads.  Plus, out of the 20 vendors they already have lined up, only three are jewelry--they try to keep the jewelry "competition"tough. :)

Please click on this link: Arts on the Square for more information or if you just want to find out more about the art community in my little town!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How I Made My Banner...

I'm pretty tickled with how my latest banner came out and thought I'd share some of the steps I take through Picnik to play with my photos and make it work.  The fun thing about Picnik is you can spend hours and hours playing or just make a quick effect change to make drama easily.  Of course I didn't think to do this when I actually made the banner, so I went through the steps again.  I don't write down the color/percentage formulas so I can't necessarily recreate it exactly, but you'll get the gist.

1.  The original photo that I took with my Canon Rebel after making Curt pull off the side of the road while driving around Alexandria a few weeks ago.  It's not "tack sharp" by any means because of the combination of my handheld camera and the breeze, but I love the shot because of the horizontal focal branch.

2.  I really wanted to capture that horizontal branch, so I cropped the photo so the branch moved along the bottom third of the field (roughly) and left a nice space over on the right hand side for a text box.  The key for banners is to then resize the cropped pic to 968 pixels wide.

3.  Before moving into Picnik's different effects, I did a quick adjustment of the color saturation to get a little more brightness.  The sliding scale is perfect because you can move it back and forth until you get just what you like.  I wouldn't have noticed that salmon-pinkish sort of background without the adjustments.  

4.  Then I went for effects.  This is "Bunny Tone" which "posterized" the details and softened the colors but then I added a dash of "Boost" that brings out the color in their new tones.

5.  Next I went to the HSL filter...first is a "cool version" of the photo.  I love the purples and blues with the bright yellow flowers, but that's not the look I was really going for.

6.  Still in the HSL filer, I made a few adjustments to see what I could find and came up with this peachy version which is a perfectly pretty version, but I still wanted more energy.

7.  A few more adjustments and I found the colors I really wanted and then went back to edit the saturation levels to get this bright pink and orange with a little purple deep in the background:

8.  When doing a banner, there are lots of different ways to put the text in there, but I really like using a rectangle "sticker" to create a more level background for the letters so the font doesn't get lost in the photo.  This is the initial look of a sticker on the photo and it's obviously a bit of a big black vacuum that doesn't do much to enhance the look of the photo:

9.  Adjusting just the rectangle, I changed the color to a sort of chartreuse-y yellow and then made it semi-transparent.  I like the way that block balances with the focal flowers on the left-hand side.

10.  And, finally, I added some text.  There are lots of cool fonts to choose from, so it's always a challenge for me to pick.  I think this one is called Pepe.  I adjusted the color a bit and then used a filter to make it blend through the rectangle with the rest of the photo.

The last step for blogger is to go into the Design tab and add this photo into your header.  If you have it sized to 968 pixels, it'll fit right in there!  It seems like a whole lotta steps, but since each phase is such a fun experiment it doesn't seem to take all that long.  Go have a Picnik adventure for yourself!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beach Day Photos

I'm on vacation today!  It has been such a fabulous day off.  Curt and I actually got up and went out to Buckroe Beach for a walk.  The sun is shining, a breeze is blowing, and I'm not at work:  all is right with the world.  

As we were walking out of the apartment building Curt turned to ask me if I wanted to bring my camera.  How sweet is that?  He was watching out for my creative brain that didn't even think about the camera before we left.  He even ran back up to get it.  What a doll!  

So, here are a few shots from our little walk down in the sand...

Love the purplish smooth lines of the shell next to the amber stones and other rough shell fragments.

Under the boardwalk down by the Chesapeake...

Just a little bit of color in the piles of "ocean stuff" on the shore.

The beauty of worn and empty

Some cool signage on the way home.

Cheers to another seven days off!!!  Whoo hooo!!  I'm going to take some of these photos over to Picnik and see what I can come up with.  Or, maybe I should actually learn to use the Photoshop Elements software that I bought!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Blossoms

Sharing a little spring flower mood on this Sunday evening...

I happened to wander over to Studio Waterstone and an effort to share the love...up close.  :)

studio waterstone

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Bead Fest Haul

The torching was my favorite part of last weekend's Philly trip, but the shopping was a close second.  Here's a little taste of my bead yumminess with some of the "natural" stuff I found.  Yes, I know some of those colors aren't necessarily the natural colors of those particular stones or seeds or nuts, but they're still completely awesome.  Who doesn't love a pink bean?

When it comes to handmade lovelies, I met Alice St. Germain and fell immediately in love with her "Succelent Glass" work and wanted something big and dramatic and special.  So, you see this one:

I'm all in the mood for some brass, too.  I just love the satiny texture of these.

And here's just a final shot from Saturday night of the goodies that Elisabeth and I picked up in just a two hour shopping venture.  It's sort of funny looking at this pic now because you can see that one of us went on the warm side and one went on the cool...interesting!  I don't think we even noticed it that night.  She wasn't surprised by the pinks and oranges I picked up.  They'll always be my faves.

What will I make?  Uhhh, who knows.  I just looked around the apartment today and realized that I have projects out in every corner and it's basically a disaster area.  I haven't been in at the actual bead table in almost two weeks.  Now I'm facing a week of vacation at home with my family in Penna. so there's going to be even more time away from my beadisaster room.  Ah, this is a public call for responsibility and I must sit down and organize!  Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BTW in the Kitchen

It's Bead Table Wednesday!  I have a little time this morning to share my exciting kitchen mess...which is where the bead table action has moved as of late.  I'm working on some more pendants with squiggles but this time I'm trying a little color.

It looks like a disaster zone at the moment, but I'm thrilled that I ended up with some good ones.  I have to include this next picture because I live in a small apartment so when I say that the kitchen counter is involved that means the whole apartment is involved.  Thank goodness there are plenty of Cheez-its available to deal with the stress of the mess.

When I drive back and forth to DC to see Curt I stop at Hobby Lobby at the halfway point to break up the drive.  I get really sleepy when driving any distances, even in the broad daylight after a good night's rest.  So, I use crafty shopping as my little helper to get me through the drive.  A couple of weeks ago I struck it rich because these bezels, which I love, were 50% off.  My cart overflowethed. 

Luckily the resin didn't overfloweth too much.  I was so antsy to pour these that I went ahead without the waxed paper that should be underneath to keep them from sticking to the surface of whatever they're on and turning into a mess.  Only one of these had some drips and I caught them in time so nothing ended up with a black back.  

What's on your bead table...or your kitchen counter?

Monday, April 11, 2011

We Painted With Fire!

It was Bead Fest Wire time in Philly this weekend and my friend, Elisabeth, and I had a phenomenal time getting into full-on bead dork mode.  It was fantastic.  There was shopping, of course, which I'll talk more on later, but most importantly, there was Barbara Lewis of Painting With Fire fame.  She makes the best enameled beads so I was thrilled that I could get a seat in her class on Sunday.  

It was worth the hours and hours in the car to come up with a little something like these:

There were 20 of us in the class and because of the torching, we ended up moving out of the conference room that was originally scheduled and got a big workspace down near the food and vendors so we'd have lots of ventilation.  It worked out perfectly since we all had plenty of space and our own kit setup with the torch, gas tank, and all the rest of the tools that we'd need.  I intended to take a before and after picture but was too wound up to get the's the before with the whole setup, including the required coffee! 

Barbara set us on the path to goodness with demos and lots of help along the way.  Jim, David & Chris were a wonderfully helpful team.

Working with the torch was a little bit scary starting out.  Both Elisabeth and I have only had a little experience with lampworking, so that's the only torch time we've really experienced.  On that note, many thanks to my bud Juls for giving me my first taste of the flame last year.  :)  Once we got the hang of it and started seeing all the colors of the enamels coming out, we were hooked.

Elisabeth is concentrating.  She was all about the color "elan" which we finally figured out was like a dove grey.  Really pretty.

And I couldn't stop with the yellows and pinks.  I kept coming up with really pretty orangie-salmony colors and wanted more. That orange ball on the mandrel that I'm staring at is a HOT hot metal bead that's going to be dipped in powdered enamel a few times until I think it's ready and then it'll cool and become beautiful (or not...depending on how I worked it).

My favorite part of the class was in the last couple of hours when we got to really go to town and actually "paint" with the fire and use the heat and the copper to develop wonderful patterns, textures, and colors.  These are my favorite...

This is my actual Favoritey McFavoriteson.  We had the lights in the room dim so that we could see the flame more clearly and keep our work in the right/hottest part, so it was hard to see the colors once the beads started to cool.  I had this one still on the mandrel and wanted to take a look at it and walked out into the light.  I was so excited that I started skipping and running around and ran over to show Barbara.  It was just about the coolest thing ever!  Even better is that Curt asked me where I bought it...I told him I actually made it myself with a torch!!

Before we could leave, I had to have a picture with Barbara & Elisabeth. We put the "skinny" filter on...haaaaaaaaaa

Of course, there is now cylinder of MAP gas, a torch head, and a bunch of yellow and pink enamels here in my apartment so I can do it all right here in my kitchen!!!  Just what I needed...another obsession.  :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bead Babes Get Blissed Out

If you've been watching the news you've seen the budget issues and the possible US government shutdown.  Well, I work for the US government and happen to deal with personnel issues so we've been very, very busy figuring out how to actually execute a furlough.  Because it hasn't been 'really' happening, there hasn't been good guidance coming down, so we had to sort of make it up as we went.  Oh well...I guess it's a good thing I don't mind getting creative and making things up as we go!

On that note, I was able to chill out this evening and reminisce with some 80's flashbacks for inspiration on my blissed out blog hop...The German bead babes Janna, Stefanie and Nicki are hosting their first challenge ever: Blissed out by your favorite song. 

12 bead artists have created a piece of jewelry based on their personal favorite song. There were no other rules but to blog about the piece, and share your excitement about the favorite song. Today is the big reveal day, so have fun looking at what we all made, and leave us a comment if you’d like. You will find the links of all bead babes below.

Janna, Stefanie und Nicki veranstalten ihre allererste Challenge:  „Blissed out by your favorite song”, was soviel heißt wie “glückselig - oder auch inspiriert - durch dein Lieblingslied”. 12 Kreative haben ein Schmuckstück kreiert, das auf ihrem Lieblingslied basiert. Abgesehen davon,  dass wir über unser Schmuckstück bloggen sollten und dabei auch  erzählen sollten, was wir an dem betreffenden Song mögen, gab es keine Regeln. Heute ist der große Tag, an dem wir alle unsere Stücke zeigen, also viel Spaß beim Entdecken – und über ein Kommentar von Euch würden alle Teilnehmer sich natürlich sehr freuen! Die Links zu allen Teilnehmern findet Ihr unten.

How to pick just one's so hard for me.  Right away I decided to go with an 80's vibe.  I will openly admit that I graduated from high school in 1989, so I lived my most formative years under the influence of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard with a little Kix thrown in. (If you don't know Kix, I'm not talking about the cereal here....).  I just went to a Bon Jovi concert last month with some of my girlfriends and sang along with all the classics until my voice was completely gone.  We laughed and laughed about the days when we cruised the block in our little home town with "Livin' on a Prayer" blasting over the diesel engine of Juli's parents' station wagon.

Oooooooh, we're halfway the-eere, OOOOhhhHHHH, livin' on a prayer.  Take my hand, we'll make it I swear...(visualize me on my way to work with my window down, uniform on, coffee cup in hand absolutely screaming about Bobby and Gina and their hard knock lives--this happense on a regular basis.)

I guess on that note, about my earrings...they're a tribute to when life was simple and we really were living on a prayer with a little heavy metal and a little rock and roll all mixed together in the kind of carefree teenage lifestyle that you can only appreciate when you're counting down the weeks to your 40th birthday.  They're about as "heavy metal" as I get nowadays with a sweet little mix of brass, silver and copper.  I was motivated to try a cool earwire by an article I just read (but can't remember what mag it was in at the moment) so I took a cool headpin and used it to string a silver textured disk, a vintage brass piece, and a hammered copper ring.  

Simple rock and roll that makes me happy....that's what it's all about!

Check out the work and inspiration from the rest of the babes from around the world!

1. Janna Harttgen - Palimpa-Lim
2. Stefanie Teufel - Stefanies Sammelsurium
3. Nicole Keller - Nickis Reef
4. Berit Borchardt - Berit Borchardt
5. Rebecca Anderson - Songbeads
6. Maryse Thillens - Glassbeadart Lampwork
7. Krista French - French Elegant Jewelry
8. Linda Djokic - Lutka and Co
9. Karola Stein - Karolas Fundstuecke
10. Doris Radlicki - Doralila Beads
11. Jen Judd - Jen Judd Rocks - yeah, you found me already
12. Saskia Kaffenberger - Perlendistel

Thanks, ladies, for the great project!  It was just the thing I needed after this crazy week!!  It's time for me to get ready for Bead Fest Wire in Philly...leaving tomorrow!

Monday, April 4, 2011

So Little Time

I just feel like I don't have enough time in the day to do all the things I want or need to do.  I should be finishing up my taxes right now, but I'm watching Chopped All-Stars and playing with pictures and blogging instead.  I made a resolution as of April 1st that I will spend more time doing things that I need to get done to take care of myself and my family.  I tend to get 150% involved at work and then never take care of the things I need to do...I had a folder sitting next to my computer for three weeks reminding me to call the Bedford Springs to sort out the details of a big party we're having in April.  My mom was getting so irritated with me for not calling them that I was afraid to call her because I didn't have any new progress to report.  Heck, I still have to call the florist and I know I have to do that before I even try to call Ma or she'll kick my ass.  I told her that I'd like to spend a day hanging out with her and shopping to get her a new dress for the party in return for all the work she's done on it...she let me know that she didn't think we'd find anything expensive enough!  haaaaaaaaaaaa  I love you, ma!!

Anyway, I spent a great weekend with Curt and we took a hike on the Noland Trail which is a local park here in Newport News.  I'm mentioning this because I took my camera along.  Not only did I get some good pics, but I could randomly stop and pretend to see some need pattern in bark just so I could catch my breath and stretch a bit.  Curt thought I was being all artsy and I'm going to let him keep thinking that instead of knowing the truth that I was just plain tired.  

My bark pics actually came out pretty cool, but the shot I like best is this one....

Spring on the Noland Trail

For my bead friends out there...this is going to be part of my inspiration for the Art Bead Scene Monthly challenge that has a lovely Asian-inspired bamboo feeling.

As we wended our way out of the woods, we finally saw some trees with blossoms.  A little dogwood flower has some fun little purple tips.  So pretty!  The best part about this picture is that I had Curt trying to hold the branch still so the wind wouldn't move it so much.

He's such a good assistant.  

I'm going to grab another beer as this cooking show finishes up and the cat snores next to me.  I have another day of crazy taskers ahead of me tomorrow and one of my friends from the office has challenged me to try "yogafusion" class during lunch.  If I end up paralyzed you may not hear from me tomorrow.


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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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