Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Now where the heck did that come from?!?! Some old nursery rhyme that somehow infiltrated my brain as I was typing the title. It's amazing the things that are stored in my head.

So, I'm home. Back to the cold weather, with the snow on the ground. Back to the house that needs to be cleaned and tidied, laundry that needs to be done, meals that need to be cooked. It's nice to be back, though. I'm about theme-parked out. SeaWorld... Epcot... Animal Kingdom... Universal. That's a lot of walking and standing. The economy has obviously had an effect on all of the parks. While it was nice to be able to walk around the parks without feeling like sardines, it was kind of strange to see so much open space. At least we didn't have to stand in a bunch of lines.

The pictures have been removed from the new digital camera. I love the camera I use most of the time, but for vacations it's quite bulky (it's a digital SLR, and I have several lenses that I always want with me). I decided to travel light this time, so I bought one of those tiny Olympus digital cameras. I've figured out so far that if I take a picture of something that's being absolutely still, and I'm being absolutely still, it works quite well. The moving shots? Well, not so good. I'm sure there's some setting that will allow me to get better pictures of moving things, but I haven't found it yet.

Of all the pictures I took on vacation, these are my two favorites:

The Killer Whales at SeaWorld

Baobab Tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Now that I'm back, I'm catching up on all sorts of stuff. I have a list about a mile long of things to do, and I'm whittling away at it. One of the things on the list was to update the Bead Art Originals Holiday Gift Guide with Valentine's Day items from our members. There are some beautiful pieces, all of them perfect for the impending holiday of romance, and in a variety of price ranges. Check it out!

Although I have quite a few beadwoven creations finished and waiting to be photographed, I only managed to list one new piece today: Ironman's DNA

I designed this DNA pattern a few months ago and created one version of the cuff in blues and violets, but then my metallic beads began calling to me. When beads call out to you, you just have to listen! :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bead Art Originals Proudest Creations

I'm away from home right now, so I don't have many new photos of my most recent creations. I'm sadly behind in taking photos as it is... there are at least seven or eight finished pieces sitting at home waiting for me to take their pictures. If only I had a professional photographer who could pop in once a week or so and take pictures for me. I've even been considering making or buying a light box because I find that I'm too dependent on natural light. Time will tell where that idea takes me.

In the meantime, I have just this one photo of a beadwoven cuff I finished last week. It was specifically designed - size, color, and design - to coordinate with and complement the gorgeous polymer clay cabochon made by Dee (aka Malodora). The picture here does no justice to the beauty of this cab. Dee's photo of it is beautiful, so you can see it in its full glory here.

If you'd like to see photos of some beautiful work by some of the members of the Etsy Bead Art Originals team, check out the recent blog posts. Several of the members are showing off their proudest creations. There's a new post every day until each of the contributors has been featured. It's quite interesting to see just why each member chose a particular piece as her favorite, too.

If you haven't ever visited the Bead Art Originals blog, you're really missing a treat. Every Monday morning there's a post showing off the Items of the Week, specials being offered by participating members. There are almost always 10-12 items being featured, and there's some sort of special deal on each and every one... a free gift with purchase, free shipping, discount coupons. Check out the mosaic for this week's offerings (good only through tomorrow, and then there will be a whole new batch!).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Three New Bracelets

I get so wrapped up in making new jewelry and cards that I don't do a very good job of keeping up with everything else. I'm always scurrying from room to room, making new things, taking photos, updating spreadsheets (I live and die by spreadsheets!), moving files around in the computer (I have quite the folder structure). Part of the routine is supposed to be uploading the new pictures to my flickr photostream and writing a quick blurb for this blog; but those are the parts that wind up being missed. I put them off, thinking I can do them at night when there's nothing else to do. Ha. There's always something else to do.

And so I wind up doing what I'm about to do now. Posting about three new bracelets I've created and listed. They weren't all created in a day. They weren't even all listed in my Etsy shop in a day. But here they are, all being written about at the same time. Oh well. That's what happens when you're as obsessed with creating things as I am. Writing about the finished projects just isn't all that exciting.

This first bracelet was inspired by my need for spring. Seriously. It's soooooooo cold outside, and I've been shoveling way too much snow over the past couple of weeks, so I just wanted a flower.

You might find that funny if you knew me. I'm not a "flower" sort of person. No flowery wallpaper, no flower patterns on furniture or drapes, absolutely no flowery clothing. Nope. I'm much more a stripe or plaid person. Whatever that means.

When I originally designed this pattern, it was in shades of white. You know, the traditional shasta daisy. I was going to call it that, but then I did a little internet research and found that shasta daisies are white. Since I had opted to make this one in a brilliant violet and hot pink, I had to come up with another name. I just knew I'd seen purple daisies out there somewhere! It didn't take me too long to find that the purple daisies are called Tahoka Daisies, or prairie asters. Now that I've listed the Tahoka Daisies bracelet, I'm sure I'm going to have to make the white version.

The second cuff I listed this week is a new color version of a design I created a few months ago - Damask. The original version was in opaque red and white, and ever since I finished the design I knew I wanted to do some other color combinations. This one came about when I saw these silver-lined purple beads next to the crystal clear AB finish ones. They're gorgeous together!

I don't know about everyone else, but I find purple to be one of the most difficult colors to photograph accurately. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when I took the pictures of this cuff because they're actually pretty good!

Of course, the beads always look better in person, but that'll just be a nice surprise for the person who buys this. :-)

The third bracelet I listed this week is called Venezia.

This one began with a whole different idea. I wanted to play with this bunch of size 15 rocailles (doesn't everyone want to play with the tiniest beads around?), and I had an idea for a modified caterpillar bracelet. I'd do loops instead of fringes, and I'd have a row of larger beads going down the center.

Well, I tried the larger beads, and I just didn't like them. I actually liked it better with the space down the center where the base beads, pearly bright white size 8s, show through. When it came to naming, the thought that struck me was that I had multicolored glass and a "canal", both of which immediately reminded me of Venice.

Sometimes it's just best to leave things alone, and this bracelet is proof. The large beads down the center just aren't necessary.

So those are the three bracelets I managed to list this week. I also finished some necklaces, but I haven't gotten good photos of them yet. And as I write this post, I have a bead crochet lariat sitting on the sofa next to me, just waiting for me to pick the crochet hook up again.

Before I get back to crocheting, I have to share a couple of nice things... First, one of my Etsy customers, Lorrie Whittington (aka Illusio), wrote a very nice blog post after she received the package of ACEO blanks she purchased from my shop. I wanted to give her a link back here when she published her post, but of course I'm late. And now I'm actually glad I'm late because I've gotten to read her later entry in which she shows off some of her newest art.

I'm a HUGE fan of pointillism. In fact, it's the type of art I most often do myself, although my version of pointillism is somewhat different than the "norm." When I saw the new ACEOs Lorrie listed in her Etsy shop, I was floored at just how beautiful they are! This Valentine one is my favorite:

The other nice thing is that a fellow Etsy seller (and customer of mine), Sydnei, is now offering mini greeting cards in her Etsy shop (SimplySentimental) that feature prints of some of my ACEOs! She has a few of the mini cards listed, and they're absolutely adorable! I love the treatment she's given my little bits of art, but when you look at her shop it'll soon become obvious that she's a very talented card maker and artist in her own right.

Check these out! These aren't the only ones she has listed, but I just thought these were so cute turned into tiny greeting cards!! Click here to see the rest of them.

Okay, that's enough writing. I'm sure there was something else I wanted to post about, but I want to get back to work on that lariat.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I Love Flawful Fibers!!

I don't spend a lot of time entering contests, but sometimes they're just hard to resist. So when I received the December newsletter from FlawfulFibers, I jumped right on it. I've admired Julie's yarns and rovings for a long time, and I've just been trying to figure out a way to justify buying bunches of them (I'm not really much of a knitter, so I'd have to find other ways to use them).

Well apparently I was in a silly mood when I saw the FlawfulFibers contest. All I really needed to do was to visit Julie's site, choose a favorite (that was the hard part), and respond with my name and address so I could be entered into a drawing. What did I do? I wrote a poem. It only took me a few extra minutes, and I was composing it in my head as I looked for something I could call my favorite.

And the nicest thing happened!!! Julie liked my poem so much that she included it in her January newsletter!!! Even better than that, she's given me an Honorable Mention for my poem and a $10 gift certificate!!!!! I've already been on the FlawfulFibers site looking around to see what I want to get with my certificate, but I've been told I might want to wait for a little while before redeeming it because she's going to be adding new things soon.
Lest you think the decision on what to use my $10 gift certificate on is an easy one, I've narrowed it down to these... (and this is without seeing the new things Julie's going to be listing!)... I think... but there might be more... there are just so many I like!

Chocogrubs (handspun yarn) - the texture looks incredible

Harp Singer (handspun yarn) - aren't those colors incredible?!?!

Mermaids (handspun yarn) - the colors and the texture are amazing

Torque V2 (handspun yarn) - don't you just love the thick and thin?!?

Okay, I've just realized that I love way too many things on FlawfulFibers. Check it out for yourself, either on the website or in the Etsy shop.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mixed Up Beads

I don't always mix up my beads, but sometimes I just can't resist. Sometimes I make random mixes just to see what will happen, adding more and more beads until the mix reaches just the right tone. Then I have to hope that I have enough in the mix because recreating a particular mix could be nearly impossible. I did begin a sort of measuring technique, using a tiny little scoop to add beads to the mix and keeping track of which beads and how many scoops were added.

Sadly, the obsessive-compulsive part of me has, on occasion, not really liked the mix and has RESORTED the beads into their respective containers. Pathetic, I know. But I must have order.

Two of my most recent creations are made with bead mixes, and the good news is that I didn't have to resort any of these beads.

The first one is a really really really long bead crochet lariat. This was a special request from a wonderful repeat customer of mine, and she asked for a 66" long lariat. I got a little carried away and wound up making it 76" long (I think I was engrossed in an episode of House or Monk and just lost track of time and beads). She didn't mind, though, so this piece is on its way south. With something this long, she'll have all kinds of possibilities when it comes to wearing it (it's plenty long enough to be used as a belt!).

Now I've decided to offer these bead crochet lariats in custom lengths, just in case not everyone wants a 76" rope! I have so many beads on hand (thanks to the annual Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee every summer) that I can do just about any color anyone would want.

The other piece I made from a bead mix is this Tweed cuff.

I hadn't planned to make a tweed cuff. In fact, I had another design printed and ready to go, but then I came across this button while I was rummaging through my button box (and you won't be surprised to learn that there are thousands of buttons in there...).

It's such a great button, nice and heavyweight and with a great look to it. Doesn't it look like wrinkled cloth?

Anyway, I decided it needed a bead mix so it could kind of remain the center of attention, so I used matte black, shiny black, silver lined light gold (which just look like shiny silver), and metallic matte dark nickel (which looks kind of like khaki). Luckily I employed my little scoop to pile the beads onto my mat because I didn't get quite enough of them the first time and had to mix more. Whew.

I really like the way this looks now that it's finished. It really does look like tweed, and the contrast of the shiny beads against the matte ones is really interesting. And that button is just too cool!

I just hopped over to my Etsy shop to grab the links for those two pieces and noticed a momentous number there! I have a thing for THREEs, and I just noticed that my feedback number is at 3333. Cool. (And yes, I pay attention to numbers on the odometer, dates, and all sorts of other numbery things. I can't help it. It's like a disease.)

Yay for threes!!

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009? Already?

It's 2009? How did that happen? I wasn't done with 2008! I didn't finish all the things I was going to finish, and in a few cases I didn't even start the things I wanted to finish. I think there should be a recount. I don't believe I received my full 366 days in 2008, and I would like a refund.

Okay, okay. I know it's 2009. I even managed to stay awake on New Year's Eve long enough to watch the fireworks on TV. I made no New Year's resolutions, though. That's just asking for trouble. They're hovering there in the back of my head (do more beadweaving, finish the projects I have started, clean up my Etsy shop, work on my website, clean up the house, pack and get ready to move (!), plan more vacations, exercise, yadda yadda yadda). But you can't listen to the voices in your head or you'll just go crazy, right? So, no resolutions. I resolve to make no resolutions. There.

For those of you who read my previous post, I'm a fast healer. My thumb is still sore, but I've stopped wearing a bandage on it (it's too difficult to do stuff with a bandage on there). And I'm being vewy vewy careful with the utility knife now.

Since I've pretty much caught up on custom orders, I had a chance to make some stuff I'd had in my mind for awhile. This bracelet was inspired just by the color of the beads. The official color name is "champagne," and I thought that was just perfect for a New Year creation. I like asymmetry, so I decided just to run a row of polka dots down one side of the cuff. I wasn't sure how the closure would work if it wasn't centered, but it works great.

The piece I listed today is one of my favorites. It's really simple... just an ndebele rope with some fringes at the ends. But I made the rope to go with one of Lisa Peters' gorgeous raku buttons. She makes so many fabulous beads, buttons, and pendants that it's tough to resist the urge to just keep piling them into my cart (and it's probably a good thing Etsy doesn't have an "add entire store contents to cart" function).

Anyway. I love this heart. I wanted it to be the focal piece for a necklace, and initially I couldn't figure out how to do it since the heart is a button (there's a shank on the back). I finally came up with the idea of making peyote tubes and attaching them to the back of the heart, so now the heart is like a little bolo. It makes the necklace adjustable, and I think it makes it fun. In fact, it's so much fun that I think I'm going to make another one for myself. It's a good thing there were THREE buttons in the listing I bought from Lisa. :-)

Now the second day of the new year is gone. Poof. 363 to go. Time sure flies.