Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of the frying pan and into the...freezer?

Well, I've been back for several days from paradise (Maui), but was swiftly struck down by a vigorous head cold, which I believe latched onto my body in Paia one night. It hit fast and hard and I've filled my days since then with fluid forcing, kleenex marathoning, grumbling and sleeping. I'm starting to feel better now, thank you, but the weather is frigid here in coastal Northern California and threatening snow down to sea level (I know! WTF?). Both wood stoves are stoked and I've got comfort food on the menu for the foreseeable future.

I made spiny lobster in crazy water for our first al fresco dinner together. It was the best!
Or maybe it was the company.

Maui was just what I needed after my freezing workation in Tucson. Mom and I did pretty much everything I had hoped we would, and it was very relaxing and yes...warm, if not cloudy from the vog. We ate, we drank, we played Rummikub, we saw some spectacular whale activity, we visited with mom's Maui friends and had several long, scenic walks.

Croton. Admire it, photograph it, or put it on your salad.
Just kidding. That would be crouton.

It was very restful except one or two nights when the waves got bigger and decided to explode like dynamite on the sea wall about 60' from my weary head. We had a wonderful tour of my friend's friend's budding coffee farm, and thanks to Facebook friends I was able to get connected with Kimberly Treolar for a personal studio/gallery visit to her new shop. It's wonderful to see hard working people creating businesses and giving back to the island - both are actively involved in the Rotary Club and helping the local scene.

The Whale Festival is always fun, and the floats were great this year too.
I think one could make a small fortune opening a tattoo parlor on Maui.
Lots of ink. Everywhere.

If the Chaka Divers did not win the Most Creative Use of Materials prize in the Whale Festival parade I'll be sorely disappointed.

I did some beading on the plane, and am happy to report that I followed Kate McKinnon's book to learn square stitch, herringbone, and Right Angle Weave (RAW), and and it was fun! I need a lot more practice on the RAW, however - it just didn't seem to come together like the others although I didn't spend as much time with it. I didn't have beads as small as she called for in her patterns, but scaled them up so that I could practice using what I had at home and at least grasp the concept, and more importantly, see them. I thought the seed beads I had in my stash were tiny, but wow, size 8s are the ginormous ones in that world so I'm about to get schooled. Kate's totally right about the beads becoming fabric as you stitch them, and it was very cool to see the pile of beads on my tray table become this supple, unified thing.

Specifically, I made a round, African thingie (a Ndebele tube, but don't ask me how to pronounce it), and it was quite exciting to see it take shape. I'm sure the flight attendants wondered about me wearing two pairs of reading glasses at once, but stronger lenses, beads, and better thread will arrive soon. My biggest challenge right now is sourcing the sizes of beads she uses in her book in color schemes I like, without copying her designs entirely. Those beads are tiNEY!

I also did a ton of Viking Knit on Maui (not on the plane - I've learned this can be treacherous to fellow passengers), and was able to wire a small mountain of pearls on the plane as well.

Molokai revealed herself only on my last day there. Until next time...

As if by magic, the most wonderful, incredible whale sightings came on my last morning there, when I saw two whales dive side by side, tails descending in perfect unison, followed by a baby breaching again and again and again and again, until exhausted. It's just magical, and Maui wouldn't be the same without the whales.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inspiration from nature

I am always inspired by the TED talks, but this one got me stretching to envision how some of these concepts might apply to the perfect jewelry studio. In addition to informing your jewelry from nature's well-designed architecture, what about the notion of studio efficiency? How incredible to be able to take waste materials from one part of your creative work and use them as the building blocks for another.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Slowly I'm settling back in to my regular life, enjoying walks with our dog, doing laundry, shopping for groceries, doing paperwork. But I still haven't pored over my Tucson treasures...soon.

Prunus subcordata
Prunus subcordata, bursting into bloom everywhere

Almost all of my show things are back in their rightful places, and I'm thinking about the local art and bead shows I'll do this year. Not all are scheduled yet, and I need to coordinate things with family events.


Center stage in my mind is my next voyage, which is...Maui, coming right up next week. My mom is there every winter, and I love visiting her there where she is so full of joy and so relaxed, but it's been a few years. Looking forward to this certainly kept my body temperature from plunging even farther last week. It will be heaven to sip kona coffee with her on her lanai in the morning, watching for the whales that frolic against the rugged backdrop of Molokai. My friend Heidi has friends on the island who have a coffee plantation, and we may be able to visit them for a tour - that would be really nice. I'll also cook for us a little, and we'll visit with all of her friends there, take long brisk walks, sit by the sea wall and read or bead, visit Makawao for a massage, blow the conch as the sun sets, and have drinks and pupus on Friday night. There's also a glass studio and gallery in Lahaina I hope to visit. Yes, I'll be busy for sure, but I'll be incredibly relaxed when I return, and oh so deliciously warm.

The Friday night pupu party is an Event.

Probably no zipline for me this time.

I read on the website that shivering burns up to 400 calories per hour. That explains why many of my clothes are loose after my trip to Tucson. I spent at least 3 days shivering in the desert. Apparently this is a NEAT way to burn calories -- as in Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Right. And I thought I was just trying to survive.

As I go through the motions of re-assimilating into regular life, I keep recalling little snapshots from Tucson, and it's wonderful. One of these was a really fun but kind of freaky conversation with Andrew Thornton where he revealed that he recalled each and every interaction he's had with me over the last few years (and they are not many, but I was surprised he recalled). Another was meeting Jodie McDougall and feeling certain I've met her before, but can't figure out where. Was it at a class at Arrow Springs, maybe? Yet more were scoring a bead from Harold Cooney and trading with Andrew Brown. Also was the incredible honor of meeting Kate Drew Wilkinson and swooning when she actually picked up one of my beads and admired it. Another was being so caught up with the music and excitement at the Flameoff that Heidi and I were literally dancing in our seats. Another is the night before we came home, when Barnes gifted me with a girly University of Arizona ballcap bedazzled with red white and blue rhinestones. And on and on and on. No wonder I'm tired - my brain is bursting at the seams.

I'm aiming to list a few new pieces in my Etsy shop tomorrow, re-opened after a week's vacation. I'll be back with those. Meanwhile I'll leave you with one of the sexy sunsets I'll be seeing next week.

maui sunset

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Over...and Just Beginning

My rugged friend Heidi and I at our booth en plein air at the Best Bead Show.

I'm sad to say that the Best Bead Show is over for this year, and I am alone for the first time in over a week mulling over many sweet memories. Seeing the javelinas that first gorgeous morning (as well as the last day), the excitement of setting up, the Flameoff, the karaoke party (with some startling performances by some glass icons), it just goes on. I'm much more of a "beginnings" kinda gal, and goodbyes and door closings, no matter how soft are always difficult for me. Instead, I'm going to focus on the path ahead, the work, decisions and new connections to be made.

Eli Mazet took 1st place in the solo flameworking competition at the Flameoff.

Eli's winning piece, with something like 13 skulls piled on each other for the base.

First place in the pairs competition went to Matt Bain & Jon Russell, with this incredible creation.
Keep in mind that these pieces are created in a matter of a couple of hours.
See the rest of the winners here.

Our booth neighbor Kevin O'Grady, telling an interested group of women about his work.
This is a common sight at the show. Kevin had some killer new work to show this year.

My favorite desert animals, the javelina.

Bead fans come in all shapes and sizes. I am honored to report that Senor Dune found one of my beads lick-worthy. He got his name after being rescued, near death, from the desert. He now lives a well-deserved life of luxury.

It was wonderful to have a little time to wander through the halls and tents and visit with friends like Joyce, Kate, Lori, Judy, Denise, Jean, David, and more. Everyone's tables looked so delicious! I wish I had gotten more photos of people at their booths but I'm kind of shy about that.

As I look back on the challenges (2 days peddling beads and jewelry outside in 37 degree weather come to mind) and the fun, as time goes by I'll recall mostly just the fun. Ironically, I've been chasing incredible weather around the Western U.S., leaving unseasonably warm days behind, and arriving in the desert just as their unseasonably warm temps are replaced by a 100 year deep freeze. Arriving home last night was the same - it was 80 degrees here last weekend and now is brisk and threatening rain soon. Oh well, best snuggle up to the fire and get over it.

The lovely fountain outside our casita froze, as did fountains all over town.

Cacti are always beckoning me to photograph them.

Harris Hawk, in a thrilling raptor demonstration at the desert museum.

We were totally spoiled by our friends Terry and Barnes, who made sure we were always well nourished and cared for in every respect, and who shared their decades of knowledge and deep connections with this area. What comfort it was to know that there were caring people waiting for us each night at home. The jacuzzi was just what the doctor ordered to revive our cold, stiff bodies those first couple of nights. I look forward to our next visit there, to see more of the Tucson area and more of the shows. There's just never enough time to do it all, is there?

My booth mate Polly gets the Best Attitude award for finding cause to celebrate (an unbroken jellyfish!) amidst the ruin of her broken boro work that crashed to the ground in the night when our canopy nearly left the earth. This place is known for high winds and I'm now the proud owner of a sledge hammer and some 2' long iron stakes. A heartfelt thank you to the astute Pima County sheriff's officers who were there at 3am and tried to minimize the damage. Most of Polly's beautiful work survived, and it was cool to see all the Japanese boro boys who came to trade with her.

Polly and Heidi, bundled up in our booth.

Polly's stalwart boro jellyfish, silhouetted against the gorgeous desert sky.

It was great to see some brave shoppers out those first few days, and even better to see the crowds multiply as the temperatures rose with our spirits. I got some great feedback on my new reptilian beads, and was further inspired by the reptile exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on Monday. I can't wait to get back in the studio and explore some new ideas.

So, it was a great road trip, and an incredible adventure. Tucson, I'll miss you.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So. I love the desert!

We had a whirlwind of a drive to Tucson yesterday, and landed safe and sound at our friend's home on the Northwest side of Tucson. I swear, Terry and Barnes should be professional innkeepers. I feel spoiled enough with linens, expertly timed glasses of wine and nourishment, and handmade soaps (thank you Irene!) that I almost want to be adopted. Seriously, they are truly gracious hosts and it feels just so amazing being here.

The first breath of amazing we had was this morning after breakfast when the javelinas I had sooo hoped to see turned up right on cue outside their back gate. And the most perfect thing was...there was one little brand new baby that was no larger than a guinea pig! They were so adorable, and so foreign, that I felt like I was visiting another planet.

We had a totally leisurely morning and drove down to the show site at the Kino Veteran's Memorial Center to set up just after lunch. With 4 of us the canopy raising and booth furnishing didn't take too long, but we waited a long time to get our canopy properly staked. It's been quite breezy and if not properly done it could mean disaster. It was fabulous seeing everyone again, coming and going to set up, and the excitement in the air is amazing. I just love how everyone is arriving to this one spot with so much of their creative product in tow, ready to share it with the world.

It's going to be a long day tomorrow, as the show goes into the evening hours, but I'll try to post Facebook updates as I can. All for now - I'm tuckered, and my room mate is sawing logs. Time to do the same.

One more thing...Happy Birthday, darlin! :-)


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