Monday, May 31, 2010

One Set of Beads, Two Different Looks

Remember a while back, before the Tucson show, when I was complaining about how hard it was for me to make sets of beads? Well, I'm over that now, but I tell you, training myself to do that has helped my jewelry making in several ways.

First of all, and most obviously, it has forced me to think more like a jewelry designer when making beads. You might think, "duh", she's a bead maker AND a jewelry designer, so what's so hard about that? I actually keep these two parts of my creative brain separate, and it requires conscious effort for me to think about one when doing the other. I have to admit that sometimes I just make beads in a certain style because that's where the creative stream took me that day. But making sets has forced me to think about numbers, types and colors of beads in a set from the perspective of one who would like to buy and use them. There's no way I claim to now know the answers to these questions, but I'm starting to get a feel for it.

Second, and this is the fun part, now that I've made multiple iterations of some sets, I can play as a designer to create very different looks using the same beads. Many bead makers are doing this lately through blog & magazine challenges, with many designers taking the same set of beads and putting their own spins on them to making quite diverse things.

Wild Ones bead set. See more like this in my Etsy shop.

Here's an example using my "Wild Ones" animal print themed bead set, which I've been offering in my Etsy shop since December. These are reminiscent of some kind of fantastical safari, and include earthy colors, ivory and black stripes, and a little touch of goldstone stringer decoration here and there. The beads are a 3/4" nugget shape, versatile (and comfortable) for earrings and bracelets. Each set is slightly different than the rest, but very similar in composition.

The first piece I did with these beads was just a simple bracelet using sterling silver Bali style disc shaped beads in between the nuggets, and (as usual), my own fine silver handmade clasp. Fun, not too fussy, and easy to wear. Here it is:

Safari style bracelet.

Yesterday I had fun making an entirely different kind of bracelet with these same beads. I started with my own handmade fine silver chain. Leonardo da Vinci's historic sketches document this interlocking folded loop style chain, which is described by Leslee Frumin in detail in Art Jewelry's Complete Guide to Making Wire Jewelry. I fused some fine silver jump rings, stretched them into ovals, pinched them in the middle, bent them in half, and then locked them all together. It's a very elegant chain that sends me into a mathematical stupor with its elegance and simplicity. It's stronger than many unsoldered jump ring chains, and I just think it's cool to look at. To this I added one of my larger fine silver clasps with some killer texture on it.

I wire wrapped each of the nuggets with some simple sterling silver daisy spacers, and added additional charms of dalmation jasper, citrine nuggets with sterling Bali style beads, and some great Hill Tribe fine silver elephant beads. The glass and the silver elephants make the coolest jingly sound when you wear it.

Safari Charm Bracelet with lampwork, Hill Tribe Silver, handmade fine silver chain and clasp, and citrine nuggets.

I'm always thrilled to see what kinds of jewelry other designers make with my beads - it's so much fun to see how we each envision different things. But making duplicate sets of beads like I did to get ready for a big show enabled me to do the same thing with my own beads and jewelry, and I had fun.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wine and Art in a Delicious Setting

Next weekend I'll be taking my jewelry down the road a piece to a Santa Cruz wine tasting event, and I hope if you're nearby that you can come. I've seen the venue (a private estate), and it's amazing! You'll sip wine, nibble some goodies, and peruse art in a wonderful park-like atmosphere. It's worth the price of admission alone just to see this place, and to dream about being lucky enough to live in a place like that yourself.

See you there!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sundial Bridge

One of my favorite bridges to visit, in Redding. Visit Turtle Bay Exploration Park if you can - it's great.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Edge of My Seat

Friday afternoon was a great day to set sail on the Chardonnay!

It's hard to believe that a girl could live most of her adult life within a stone's throw of two coasts and never have set foot on a sailboat before. Until...Friday, and a generous invitation from a dear friend. Finally, I experienced my first sailboat ride, and I have to tell you, I was....terrified! Holy Batman's Sunday Underwear the harder the wind blew, the more sideways we got, and the more grateful I became for that little raised ledge under my feet I could wedge into so I wouldn't ungracefully slide into the crotch of the nice looking family type guy across the boat from me. How awkward would that be? I'd probably spill my Chardonnay (what else would you feel compelled to drink on this boat?) all over him and his lovely family.

What was interesting to me is that the conditions that make this boat sing are exactly the opposite of those that make our much smaller fishing boat and her occupants happy. What is a smooth, quiet and effortless ride for one boat is the Cold and Wet Ride From Hell in another (trust me) as we return to the protected harbor. On the Chardonnay we hardly got wet, had very few ups and downs, and generally had a great (albeit sideways - this is weird for me) ride. In 25 knot winds!

What made this ride so wonderful was that it was a benefit for the upcoming AIDS ride. Haley Cutter is doing the ride in memory of a dear friend and AIDS activist who was killed in an accident in San Francisco about a year ago, and was able to arrange the sail as a thank you to the donors. If you'd like to support her team, you can donate here. Any amount helps!

The intrepid crew of the Chardonnay let nothing get in the way of the snack delivery.
Note the bare feet.

The Chardonnay gets a little tilty on the loop near the pier.

OK, now I'm off to list some new beads. Have yourself a stellar Monday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well, Bad On Me!

My booth at the Northern California Bead Society Show on Sat., May 15.
I built an overhead lighting system for the show and it worked great!

...insert obligatory apology for not posting here...

So! The Northern California Bead Society show was fun, and I'm so happy that some of my local friends and glassy acquaintances stopped by to say hello! It was nice being next to Lena and Robin, Hayley and Helen (of enVision SF) and Pam (of B0ndi Beads) and Barb (of SierraCatz). Without a doubt Barb gets the prize for the most festive booth and best leverage of a theme. Myself, I glowed with pride for having the most efficient setup I've ever had. Easy peasy, as Jamie Oliver would say.

Robin at her booth with Lena. Where's Lena? Hiding, maybe, or taking the guard dogs for a walk.

Pam's booth (from the back).

Barb's booth. What'd I tell you? Who couldn't smile looking at this festive booth?

As usual I was exhausted after being on my feet (on concrete) for 10 hours, but there was no rest for the weary. My sweetie and I had a wonderful brunch on Sunday at Hobbees (THE best place for breakfast in California), and some playtime with our dog at the reservoir on a gorgeous, warm day.

My sincere apologies to the tourists and their cute toddler who I edited out of the frame.

But after that it was all about the cleaning and cooking, you know the drill. It was a lovely time, and the food turned out great. We had goat cheese and leek tartlets, planked fresh salmon with pesto, marinated and smoked artichokes, and bulghur salad with dried fruit. Oh yes, and one of our guests brought some delicious home made ice cream, rhubarb topping, and baked goods, not to mention some great wine. It was a damned fine meal and a very nice time. I'll miss you Terry and Barnes, but will see you in Tucson in February. Yay for that!

Goat cheese and leek tartlets.

I'm etching beads and taking photos and generally aspiring to be a regular lister on Etsy, and I'm also getting some new jewelry ready for a very cool new event in a couple of weeks. It's a Vintner's Festival with several local wineries and artists at a private estate in Santa Cruz. Details coming soon, but it's June 5 & 6 if you want to come. I guarantee that the wine, art, and surroundings will make your day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Get Lost

Feeling stressed? Let's go for a walk in the woods. Click on the images to lose yourself in the beauty.

Have a great day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fruits of My Labor

I have not been very good about keeping you up to date on my beady news! I've been getting ready for the Northern California Bead Society's show this coming Saturday in Oakland, and have been at the torch nearly every day. The vendor list is here, and you'll see a lot of familiar names. Come on out to fondle the beady goodness!

Marbled Focal Bead, in my Etsy Shop.
More beads like this are in the show at the Pismo Gallery.

The biggest news is probably that my solo and collaborative work with Cyndie Smith is at the Pismo Gallery all during May for their Bead Invitational 2010 Exhibit. We are thrilled and honored to be a part of this event, and just wished we lived closer so that we could go visit. I'm lucky to have a friend living near Denver who sent me some pictures. I have loose beads and jewelry in this exhibit, and of course, Mean Green Mother Earth is there too, along with lots of Meanie goodies to wear and enjoy.

Marbled Focal Bead (SOLD).
More beads like this are in the show at the Pismo Gallery.

This season I'm making loads and loads of hollow beads in colorful, fun patterns, with (drum roll...) coordinating spacers! While I am a jewelry designer, I don't normally think about what someone might need to create something wonderful with my beads. But I'm doing my best to offer as much flexibility to designers as I can, while still feeding my creative side. It's been lots of fun getting to know hollows more intimately (I've made over 50 in the last few days), and playing with some new color combinations. Hollow beads are great all around; they provide a large surface area for decoration, and they're lightweight to wear.

The one I like best is below in green and turquoise. Years ago when I first became a California Girl my husband and I went to a local art and wine festival, and found the prettiest little sun dress in a batik fabric in these colors. I loved that dress and wore it to death.

Meanwhile, I'm counting the days until it's warm enough to plant out our little heirloom tomato seedlings from Love Apple Farm. This year we're trying some medium sized varieties that should do well in our mountain microclimate: Great White, German Johnson (this one cracks me up every time I say it), Japanese Oxheart, Thessaloniki, Green Zebra, and Brandysweet Plum. If you've read my Darwin Gardens posts you know that I don't have the patience or bandwidth to baby the plants in my garden, but the reward for doing it with these heirlooms was great enough to make me try it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I have such wonderful friends!

Sunday was an incredible day to be at the beach, and I wasn't the only one with that idea. I've been busy getting ready for upcoming shows lately, and haven't gotten out much, and this was the start to a wonderful few days making up for lost time with friends.

It's been a great few days. It started Saturday with a giddy feeling of accomplishment after powerwashing more than a few years' of mildew and moss off of everything (it seems) in our yard. Well, first came the giddiness upon seeing the green flying off of brick, and decks, and then came the dismay upon seeing the green (mixed with muddy brown) newly stuck to other surfaces nearby. What a dirty job! After four hours of that I was pooped, and appeared to be covered in it from head to toe. I'm glad this is not a once a year job. I like it growing in the lawn, truly (I can admit defeat), but it is yucky on the deck and walks and slippery to walk on.

Sunday after a good long walk on the beach I visited my friend Terry who was doing a show nearby. Sadly, Terry and her husband are moving away, but here's the good news - they're moving to Tucson! So, Loma Prieta Pottery will soon be doing business as usual, just from a drier, warmer place. It's been fun doing shows and sharing Etsy tips and stories with Terry, and I'll miss her, but the great news is I'll get to visit in February during the gem show.

Then on Monday I had lunch with my friend Rachel in sunny Santa Cruz, which apparently was besieged by anarchists on Saturday night. The news reports that a bunch of folks got rowdy and then went through downtown smashing a bunch of store windows and such. I guess the FBI is on it now. But it was great to see Rachel, as she's been working very hard on another new project recently. She is the hardest working beadist I know - seriously, that girl is prolific. If you're at all a fan of the seed beads, do check out her new book. If I had the patience or eyesight for the little things I'd be all over it. Rachel's work kicks butt and the book looks incredible.

Then I had the most wonderful surprise when I got home - a package from New Zealand! My friend and fellow bead maker Deb Batten sent me some fun frit to play with, and some fun seeds for the garden. I would send you to her blog but she has recently moved and I guess her blogging tools are still packed away in a box somewhere. ;-) One of these days we have just got to get that girl over here for a US Bead Tour, 'cuz there are lampworkers all over this dang country who are dying to meet her and buy her a drink. This woman is a magician with the Gaffer glass and can teach us all a thing or two.

Tomorrow looks to be yet another brilliant day with a huge heap o'beads from the kiln to clean, a heart pumping hike through the coastal rainforest with my friend Candi, and oh yeah, a hair appointment. Hmm, seems like I should have scheduled lunch or something on Cinco de Mayo instead of hair. Oh well. The week is young.

Stay tuned for some pictures of new beads. If you haven't yet seen or bid on Harold Cooney's spectacular work on eBay , get over there and be prepared to be blown away.


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