Thursday, March 26, 2015

30 Words: Gingerbread Cottage

A tropical cookie of a gingerbread house 
nestled atop an island getaway.

No witches lurk here... 
Only fabric artists waiting to lure 
travelers inside 
with promises of colorful batik wares.  

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

I took this picture during the Bead Cruise this year when we visited a Batik factory on St. Kitts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 11 & 12

Happy Monday, everyone!  I don't know about you guys, but I am so excited that Spring is finally here. .. Unfortunately, Minnesota has not gotten the memo and we got something like 6 inches of snow last night!  The perils of living in the great white north I guess.

So this first set of earrings is a little bit late... I made a trio of little Czech glass beads in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  I had gotten the glass, including the little clover leaf beads, from a friend's stash and decided that this was the perfect time of year to make something with them.  An added bonus, buy using said beads I have a few less things to put away!

Next up is another little trio of earrings... this time variations on some of my signature flower earrings showcasing new colors.  I'm especially excited about the white ones since I've noticed an uptick in customers at Unearthed Arts wanting something more neutral than many of my designs tend to be.  (What can I say?  I love color!)  I think the pink is especially sweet too.

All of these have gone to Unearthed Arts for sale... I know I'll be making more versions of the flower earrings just as soon as I can find my work table!  Have a great week everyone!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

We're All Ears: March 2015

This month's inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge is simply AMAZING!  Erin found some awe inspiring macro photos by German photographer Martin Amm.  Can you believe these extreme close ups of dew covered dragonflies and damselflies??

The way the water droplets are beaded up all over these little creatures immediately made me think of a certain type of lampwork glass.  I thought I might just have something like that in my stash, but no luck.  But then I started unpacking all my new treasures from the Bead Cruise and I found just the perfect beads!  I won these cute little beaded beads from Kristen Stevens (of Beadwork by KAS) as part of the Art Jewelry Elements prize package and I realized that the texture from the seed beads echoed the beads of moisture.  I added some brass bead caps, Czech glass rondelles, and some sweet little teardrop beads from Unicorn Beads.  

I couldn't stop at just one pair of earrings this month!  For my second pair I did a variation on theme.  I grabbed some left over spacer beads that came with a gorgeous luna moth focal from the talented Kerri Fuhr.  I thought the clear pale green color worked nicely for this challenge paired with some little Czech glass beads and some more teardrops from Unicorn Beads.

Both these pairs will be headed to Unearthed Arts next week.  Check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

30 Words: Taste the Rainbow

It’s a delicious RAINBOW... 
a yummy color riot.  
But please don’t eat these 
candy hued little guys!  
They are definitely beads, 
NOT candy... 
Well, eye candy perhaps!  
But still delectable.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

These little beads are the color choices from my upcoming class at Unearthed Arts, Jewelry Making: Artfully Etched Necklace.  Local peeps, want to come take a class with me?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Art Bead Scene: March 2015

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration, Emily Carr's watercolor Haida Totems, didn't immediately spark my creativity.  Maybe it is all the purpley blues and muted colors she used... I just don't know.  You can read more about the artwork and artist HERE.  Luckily, I was gifted a fun, organic ceramic pendant by Mark Braunwarth of Oliver Clay Company that got things rolling for me.  Mark mostly focuses on functional pottery so it was fun to see him playing with something totally different.

Haida Totems, 1912By Emily Carr
As an homage to the totem poles in the artwork, I went with a totem design but kept it relatively simple.   It was fun to pull several art bead artists together for this one.  In addition to my Oliver Clay pendant, I have a couple of ceramic beads by Gaea and one from an unknown artist (it was in a destash bundle).  I also used a couple of different Greek copper and bronze washers in between the beads for added interest and tied everything together with some waxed Irish linen.

I probably kept more to the feel of the inspiration artwork than the colors.  For colors I focused on the creams, tans, and the tiny bit of aqua/turquoise you see in the grasses in the bottom right corner (seriously, squint a little and you'll see the tiniest hints of it there!)  I kept the design pretty simple so the ceramics could shine, but I did play with wire wrapping leather cord for the first time.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Geek Love: Inspired by Reading Book Club

Wow.  The February selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was a doozy.  I have to laugh because when I saw the title, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn I made the assumption that it would be about geeky, nerdy love... not biting the heads off chickens freak show love.  Of course, the copy I got from my library had a much more generic cover than some other editions.  Seriously, the font even looks geeky in a computery sort of way.

I think I would have figured it out sooner if I had gotten this edition, lol!

This story truly sucked me in and wouldn't let me go no matter how strange the tale became.  The book chronicles the tale of the Binewski family's traveling carnival/freak show.  Ok, that doesn't sound so terribly weird, but the parents Al and Crystal Lil, tinkered with nature to ensure that all of their children were born true freaks.  They have Arty the flipper boy, conjoined twins Elly and Iphy, Olympia the albino dwarf with a hunchback, and baby boy Fortunato aka Chick who has the strangest and strongest talent of all.  There is also a special trailer that holds all the failed children in their special jars.  Nope, that's not the least bit abnormal!

Much of the tale is about family ties and love (often of a pretty twisted variety), and protecting your own kin at whatever the cost.  I won't give too much away but ultimately the price was pretty high.  The structure of the story was interesting to me.  The majority is set in the past as Oly reminisces on her youth but there are also chapters woven in that she calls "Notes for Now" covering the present day.

While I enjoyed this book and finished it at the beginning of February, I had no idea what to create from this strange tale of warped love and family ties.  Inspiration struck at the eleventh hour when I was just back from the Bead Cruise where I had taken a class from Heather Powers that taught me needle felting and some basic bead embroidery stitches.  This is the beginnings of what I came up with:

What is that?  you may be asking yourself.  Why it's a flipper!  I used some of the turquoise felt left over from my class to needle felt the general shape.  If you've never tried this technique, it's really fun and a great release on those days you might be feeling a little stabby!  Here is the finished design:

I chose this color and the blue and gold beads for the embroidery because of how Arty would make himself up for his performances.  I added a star charm because Arty was the headlining star attraction.  I thought about adding a heart for Oly's deep love for her brother despite all of his character flaws, but it just didn't look quite right.  Sometimes less is more.

And here's a little side story on the making of this piece.  The reveal was originally set to be March 5 while I was on the road helping my friend Kathleen move.  (Due to more yucky weather in the Northeast, the meet up and reveal got pushed back a week... I almost didn't escape D.C. due to Snowmageddon!)  Anyway, I got to the Minneapolis airport super early to begin with and then my flight was delayed an hour for mechanical problems so I had lots of time to work on my project.  I did all the bead embroidery except the edging and bail while sitting at the airport in this weird little pay phone cubicle that was right by my gate.  It was perfect since it had a bench, a work surface, and an outlet to recharge my cell phone!

Back to the Bead Cruise for a moment... in class we felted a shape that was supposed to be a leaf.  I'm not sure how leafy my class project really looks, but it did give me the idea for my book club project.  Here's a peak of that from midway through the class...  I got most of the embroidery done after I snapped this pic but I still have to do the stitches around the edges and make the bail.

Pop on over to Andrew Thornton's blog to see what everyone else created HERE.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bead Cruise 2015!

2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Bead Cruise.  You may remember that my friend Kathleen and I went on the cruise last year for the first time.  You can read about that first adventure HERE.  We had such a fabulous time that we just couldn't pass up the anniversary sailing and all the extra events that went along with it!  Heather Powers (of Humblebeads fame) always goes to great lengths to make the cruise a wonderful experience for all involved but she had some extra special events and surprises to help celebrate a decade of Bead Cruising!

Many of us arrived in Florida an extra day early to take part in a field trip to Beads Gone Wild in West Palm Beach.  I'm not sure that the staff there knew what hit them when a bus load of bead ladies swarmed them all at once.  Not really needing anything, I didn't expect to buy all that much... and yet I left with a heavy sack filled with pretty new seed beads, farfalle (peanut) beads in a rainbow of gorgeous colors, and some really neat coated hematite beads.  So much for resolve!

On the bus to the bead store!

Friday night we had group dinner to kick things off at a nearby hotel... highlights included a lovely gift for Heather that Terri G. organized and some delicious cake for dessert!  This year Heather made really nice name badges that got bedazzled with turquoise crystals based on how many times each person had been a Bead Cruiser.  It was fun to see how many folks were serious veterans!  On Saturday morning, giddy with excitement, our group boarded a series of shuttle buses equipped with trailers for all our baggage and headed off to the port in Ft. Lauderdale.

Bon Voyage!

Since this was our second year cruising, the whole experience felt very much like a homecoming to me.  It was a chance to catch up with folks that you only "see" online the rest of the year and to make new friends.  When you bring a big group of people together who share common interests and a love for fun, good things are going to happen!   
One of my favorite pictures from the cruise: with Kathleen, Erin, and Diana on our first formal night.

Our first stop was St. Maarten but Kathleen and I didn't spend that much time actually on that island.  We opted to go swim with the dolphins over on the neighboring island of Anguilla.  We had done the dolphin "cuddle" the previous year and were feeling more adventurous this time around.  Included in this experience were having the dolphin push each person on a boogie board and doing a belly swim where you are tummy to tummy as the dolphin pulls you through the water.  It was fun and incredible!

Our second port was St. Kitts and a good number of the Bead Cruisers signed up to visit the Caribelle Batik factory on the other side of the island.  Less of a factory tour than a cool shopping experience with lovely grounds, one of the best parts of the excursion was getting driven all around the little island and getting a glimpse of the non-touristy parts if only from a van.

Next up was a short stop in San Juan.  I would love to have more time here... most of us were sorry we didn't get a longer day to explore.  Kathleen and I chose to do the San Juan food and culture walking tour through Old San Juan.  I would totally recommend this shore excursion.  We had a nice walk through town getting some interesting history and stories along the way.  We stopped for three different tasty treats throughout the tour and did not go back to the ship hungry!  A highlight was getting to muddle our own mojitos and smash the plantains, garlic, and butter to create mofongo which we ate with a spicy chicken mixture.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!  Even though there were two bead stores nearby, Kathleen and I decided to end our day by visiting a local brewery... you can read about that and our adventures with cruise cocktails over on my husband's blog soon HERE.

I couldn't get enough of the gorgeous colors and iron work of the buildings in San Juan!

Our last port was Royal Caribbean's private beach resort of Labadee, Haiti.  Unfortunately, this wasn't our best weather day and we got a fair amount of drizzle with short periods of heavier rain that sent many folks running back to the ship.  Kathleen and I, perhaps bolstered by our dolphin adventure earlier in the trip, started our day with the Dragon's Breath Flight Line.  At 2.600 feet long, it's the longest zip line over water and it was amazing.  It was quite the adrenaline high!

I still can't believe I did this!

Thanks to Diana's quick work, we managed to snag a waterside cabana for the day.  It was great having our own private base of operations and cover from the rain.  The water was warm and wonderful and I loved getting to really swim for the first time in forever.  We also spent part of the afternoon doing some beach combing for pretty shells and other beachy finds.  I hope to incorporate some of the tiny shells I found into some new jewelry in the coming months.  Stay tuned!  

Looking out at the other cabanas from our little piece of paradise!

Lest you think that the cruise was all adventure and enjoying gorgeous tropical ports of call, here's a peek at my class projects in process.  From the top left corner:  bits and pieces from Heather Powers' Metal Sketches class, Tracy Stanley's Byzantine Chain class, Heather's Tropical Foliage needle felting and bead embroidery class, and Erin Siegel's Tribal Inspired Bracelet class.  I had a great time learning some new techniques and being surprised by how much I liked some things that were pretty far outside my comfort zone.  I've got a wish list of new tools and supplies and I'm not sure I can wait until my birthday in July to gift them to myself!

I swear I will get these projects finished soon!

On the last night of the cruise we had our farewell party and design contest.  Last year I played along for the contest (and won!) but this time, I just didn't have the right combination of goodies to pull something together... nor did I make a lot of extra beading time outside of class and the pj party.  Like last year, I was wowed by what people came up with for the contest!  Part of the evening's festivities included the last round of door prizes.  I ended up winning the mother lode... a grab bag of beady goodness from the contributors of the Art Jewelry Elements blog!!  I couldn't believe my good luck... just look at all the lovely loot I got!  (Not pictured here is the cool focal from Jenny Davies Reasoner because I traded it to Kathleen for the door prize she had won.)

Winning this prize package helped ease the pain of leaving the cruise and all my beady friends behind!

The details for Bead Cruise 2016 will be available soon.  If you are interested in taking engaging jewelry making classes with incredible instructors while having a fun cruise vacation, I urge you to check it out.  I learned a great deal, made new friends, and had a ton of fun... and I escaped a brutal Minnesota winter at the same time.  Bead Cruise for the win!  I'm hoping that I can go again in 2016... if not, I know it will happen another year!  Until then, I'll keep dreaming Bead Cruise dreams.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 9 & 10

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope that you all are starting to get adjusted to the switch to Daylight Savings... my body is still feeling a little confused.

For this week's installment of New Earring Monday I'm sharing a few pairs of earrings that I either made on the Bead Cruise or with techniques I learned there combined with goodies from our gift bags.  (I'll be posting my blog recap of the trip later this week.)

First up, a pair that feature Byzantine chain maille (which I learned in Tracy Stanley's class) and some cute little lampwork glass beads that Sue Beads donated to our goody bags.  Thanks to Diana Ptaszynski for the gift of aluminum jump rings!  I went with red, black, and silver to stay in the Queen of Hearts theme for our cruise cocktail party.  I also finished a coordinating bracelet (although not my actual class kit) during the cruise.

I'm super proud of this second pair that I made in Heather Powers' Metal Sketches class on the cruise... and not just because they are the only class project that I actually finished in class!  This was my first time using metal shears to make magic out of sheet metal and my very first time making ear wires.  I can tell you that I have some new tools on my wish list and I don't want to wait until my birthday in July to gift them to myself!

As an added earring bonus, here is a simple little pair that I whipped up during our Beading Jammie Jam pajama party!  I love the little flip flop charms from Vintaj and the beachy feel of the finished earrings.  I'll be taking this pair to Unearthed Arts in my next delivery.

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