Sunday, March 25, 2012

My First Choker!

Really? My first choker? With all the beadweaving I've done in the past few years, I'm actually surprised myself that I haven't made a choker. I've made pendants that are on wire or chain chokers, but never a beadwoven one.

Until now.

I recently had a special request from a customer who wanted a choker to match the Rastafarian Topography cuff.

After we talked for a bit about size and color placement, I created a whole new design meant to coordinate with the original design, pulled out beads in the same colors as the cuff, and started beading.

In order to make sure the choker would fit properly, I made it slightly smaller than the customer's neck measurement and used a length of copper chain and a lobster clasp that will allow her to adjust it to a comfortable length. No one wants a choker that's too loose -- or worse yet, too tight!

And just to fill out the ensemble, I decided to make a little pair of earrings to go with the cuff and choker.

The customer has already received her matched Rasta set and says she loves them... a good thing, since she's planning to wear them for a very special occasion - her daughter's wedding!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

And Suddenly It's March!

I knew this was going to be a busy year. The housebuilding project continues, and although it's no surprise that it's time consuming, it is a surprise that I barely manage to fit in anything else. In past building projects, I've been less concerned with the decision making about design because we were just building spec houses and weren't planning to live in them. When you're going to live in a house, though, it seems like the choices take more time and more thought.

Case in point: Flooring. We were quite proud of ourselves last year when we went to the Asheville Hardwood Center and picked out flooring. We chose #2 hickory in 3", 4", and 5" widths (I really like the random widths), and the only choice that remained seemed to be whether we would install and finish it ourselves (a daunting task, with 2400 square feet of floor to cover!) or have it done by them. After the house progressed further, we started to question our choice: Is #2 hickory, which is really knotty, going to look too "busy" for the space? We have one giant space that's living room, dining room, and kitchen combined, with no walls, and we feared it would just be too much.

So off we went last month to track down something a little calmer. First we went to a local flooring place, where we found some prefinished engineered maple flooring that we both kind of liked. The price was a little less than the #2 hickory, so that was nice; but the flooring was only 1/2" thick and we had planned on using 3/4" (not a big deal to some, but it changes the stair riser height at the top step).

Not completely satisfied with that find, we decided to try Lumber Liquidators. There we found some prefinished maple with just a clear coat, and it was even less expensive; and the good news is that it was 3/4" thick solid hardwood. Looks like we're on the right track, right? We even asked the sales clerk to haul out a box so we could see the board lengths and get an idea of how well the boards would fit together. The maple solved the "busy" problem because it's very plain, with almost no knots in it and very little grain pattern.

Just for kicks and grins, we decided to head back to the Asheville Hardwood Center to see if they had any prefinished flooring. After looking around for a bit, the sales guy told us he had some prefinished 3/4" hickory, 5" wide, that was discounted because they had a limited quantity. What?!? That sounds perfect! We looked at the display in the store and decided we couldn't pass it up; so we ordered it. It was delivered to the house about a month later (we asked them to hold it while the drywallers were working), and just last week we opened some of the boxes to look at it.

Argh! The pieces of flooring in the boxes we opened (about ten boxes, so we'd have a good sampling) were almost all in the 12-18" range! That's going to look like CRAP. Out of all the boxes we opened there were only four or five pieces that were 30" or longer. So we called the sales guy back and told him the problem. The good news is that he came and looked at the flooring, completely agreed with us that it wasn't acceptable, and then sent the truck to come pick it all up. That's some great customer service.

But now we're back to not having flooring. One more trip... back to Asheville Hardwood Center (because the sales guy told us that he could give us a good price on some select hickory), and I think we've FINALLY chosen what we're going to use! Select hickory, 4" wide, unfinished (they'll install, sand, and finish with three coats of polyurethane). Whew.

That flooring adventure is just ONE of the things that's taken a ton of time. Add to that the selection of paint color (who knew there are so many shades of offwhite!!!), buying a paint sprayer (and then having to take it back to get a new one because the first one didn't work!), learning to operate the paint sprayer, trying to figure out how to build the bookcase that will double as the stair rail, working on deck railing designs (we've already gone through about ten iterations of railing design, and we might have actually figured that out now), finding tile for the showers... it seems endless. It's fun. But it seems endless.

So in between all of those house things, I did manage to get a little beading done. After hours and hours of work, I finished this piece, Brushed Gold. It's a custom bead crochet rope made from more than 10,000 teeny tiny size 15/0 Czech glass beads with a 24k gold finish. It's soooooooo slinky! I'm not sure I'd tackle a project like this again, but it was kind of interesting to work with the tiny beads.

And more recently, I finished a bead crochet bracelet, Shinju Sage. The faux pearls are so pretty, and it's really fun to string a bunch of different sizes and shapes and then see what develops as I crochet.

Now it's time to go do some more painting. We're about halfway finished with the walls and ceilings in the house, and we've gone through 25 gallons of primer so far... (we finally did select a color: Vintage).