Thursday, August 28, 2008

Missing the ocean

I am really homesick for the ocean and our many years of beach vacations. I think I have been at the beach for at least 35 of my 45 summers. And, although I've thoroughly enjoyed exploring new areas (fresh water swimming isn't all that bad) there's something to be said for the comfort of "home."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Place Like Home

Ok, enough with the Wizard of Oz themes ...

Chicago was great. Wicked was wicked awesome, our mini vacation was a breath of fresh (yet very hot and humid) air. The camera battery is dead and the charger is missing, so there are no photos to share yet. Meredith took some wild ones on her camera phone, so I may have to post some of those.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic achievement

Here is one project I finished while watching the Olympics (lots of hand-turned S links):

and here's another view:

Disclaimer: I am not a metal smith nor do I play one on TV. My Mostly Metals book is about designing jewelry with silver and gold beads and findings. However, I had a blast making this project. Sometimes I think not knowing how to do something gives you more freedom. I've been kind of obsessed with creating some outdoor art and finally decided to go for a wind chime. I started with copper disks in different sizes from Metaliferous. I hammered them with my ball-peen hammer on both a rubber block to get the curve and a textured block to get, well, the texture. Then I played with color -- ammonia for the blue and a torch for the pinky reds. I made all my links, and connected everything. I used chain to suspend the strands for longevity and I'm happy that the whole piece (except some decorative beads) is made from metal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wicked earrings

We're off to see the wizard this weekend and I had to make an emerald-green pair of earrings to wear to the special event:

Wicked beautiful (as they say in Boston) if I do say so myself.

We'll be in the windy city for a few days and we're looking forward to a little family time, a little sight seeing, catching up with an old friend over lunch, and just exploring. And, of course, the show on Friday night.

Other news:
Monette wins the lurker lottery -- I'll mail your prize next week when we get back. To the rest of you -- keep reading. Post a comment now and then so I don't feel like I'm talking to myself!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Creative Eye

Here's what Meredith saw on the cement wall leading to our outdoor basement door:

And, here's what she did with it:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lurker Lottery

Thanks for reading my blog! I'd love to hear what you think. Leave me a comment, tell me what you like or what you don't like, or just say hi. On Wednesday, August 20th I'll do a random drawing and one lucky winner will get a prize. Good luck!

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Haley and I realized we'd be dining alone tonight and I asked her what she'd like to have. After some careful consideration, she said, "How about risotto?" Gotta love that kid.

Altered You Book Review

Here's a link to a great book review by Sharon Madson on her blog Adventures From the Sewing Studio. Thanks, Sharon! I'm excited to find another fun sewing blog to read. It looks like she's got some great ideas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Weekend Face-lift

Ours is a 100+ year old farmhouse, but the previous owners had painted the porch ceiling bright pink. The paint was peeling, the boards were buckling, etc. etc. DH has worked very hard this spring renovating the ceiling (beautiful bead board), painting the posts and the floor, and repairing the doors. I love the new gray floor, the gray and black screen door with black hardware, and the antique lights we found. Now it was time for me to spruce the rest up.

Of course, I had the HGTV narration going in my head the whole time, I just couldn't figure out what show I was "on"-- Design on a Dime? Decorating Cents? Curb Appeal? Anyway, I bought two cans of red spray paint, went to town on my weather-worn wicker chairs, quickly realized I didn't have enough spray paint, sent DH out for more, and here's the result:
I am so happy. Then, I hit the garden store and everything was 75% reduced. I scored some great plants and didn't feel bad for being so late in the game. Here's the view from the chairs, toward the front of the house:

My crafty friends are finally where they belong. Now, hopefully we'll get a few mosquito-free evenings to enjoy all this before the snow begins to fly!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Working on my workspace

Margot Potter's post about her studio cracked me right up. It reminded me of my studio description in Mostly Metals:

I have a fabulous studio that streams with sunlight. My well-organized shelves keep all my beads at my fingertips and I’m free to design all day long. Well, in my fantasies, I do. The truth is that I make all my jewelry at my dining room table (although I do get some nice sunlight). Realities, like dogs and cats (sometimes not behaving), telephones, car pools, forgot-my-lunch emergencies, the need for dinner to be made, and the rest of life means even on a day dedicated to beading, I’m up and down a lot. And, because we eat a family dinner at the dining room table (aka my studio) every night, I need to be able to clean up quickly. I’d love the luxury of my own space and for now I can dream about it.

I'm determined to have a functioning studio some day, and I visualize it every day. By the time I raise the funds, it will practically build itself!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mostly Metals Project

Chapter 5 is all about designing with spacers -- using these little metal darlings to solve a design problem or enhance a focal bead. The "mother's bracelet" project on p. 78 uses a lot of metal spacers to make a primarily silver bracelet accented with children's names and birthstone crystals. These bracelets are extremely popular and I don't claim to have thought of the design myself. However, it's an excellent illustration of how spacers can drive a design, and help unify elements. I also love the project because it's so personal and you will never see two exactly alike. Here's a version I made years ago for my mother, when she became the grandmother of three:

This version uses tiny gemstones to signify the birth months, and since I don't do anything mainstream, they are the "alternate" birthstones (really, now, who decides this stuff?) tourmaline, lapis and quartz.

I also enjoy making these bracelets without the letter beads. The pattern is driven by the birthstones, and the mom knows that what may seem to be just another pretty bracelet to others holds a special significance for her.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are you ready?

I come from a family to whom the following logic made sense:
Idle hands make idle minds.
TV makes idle minds.
Therefore, if you watch TV and you don't want your mind to be idle, you'd better keep your hands busy.
Or something like that.

Anyway, I can mark all of my serious childhood TV watching (the Roots miniseries, the Thorn Birds minisereis, The Academy Awards, The Miss America Pagents...) by the crafts created while watching -- an oddly shaped hand-knit cat sweater, hand-sewn Barbie clothes, embroidered jeans, lots of needlepoint...My mom said, "always have lap work."

So as I gear up for the marathon event that is Olympic broadcast viewing, I'm lining up my lap work. I'll use the opening ceremonies and the first few days of events to finish some jewelry projects, but I'm really in the mood to start knitting again. So, let the games begin.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From the garden

I've been pretty frustrated this year because the weeds are over running the garden, and I don't have the time nor the stamina to solve the problem. However, in the spirit of positive thinking, I spent some time the other morning focusing on the good part -- the flowers. Here are some close-up pictures. I have had beautiful arrangements in the house and for the rest of the summer I am going to try to see the flowers, not the weeds.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Altered You!

Today is the official "on sale" date for Altered You! Don't forget about my virtual book signing -- purchase a copy of either book, let me know via e-mail or this blog, and I'll send you a signed book plate.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Veggie Tales

The garden story 2008: Brutal winter. Daydreams of fresh produce and never entering a supermarket again. Cold spring. Delayed planting. Bead & Button show – further delayed planting. Torrential rain. Finally planted. Frogs move in; splash in standing water. I sink 2” when I step in to weed. Dry spell. Miniature plants, but blooming and beginning to bear fruit. The miracle of mother nature.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Music MeMe

I got tagged for a music meme by my friend Tracy at Rah Cha Chow. I'm game to play, but I'm starting at a disadvantage. First of all, I'm not sure I can come up with seven songs. I listen to NPR when I'm alone in the car, Top 40 when Haley is in the car (hate most of it) and Grunge when Meredith is in the car (really hate all of it). And second of all, I know I can't come up with seven blogging friends. But, here goes.

Here are the rules:List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your summer (or whatever season). Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they're listening to.

Here are my songs, in no particular order:

Seasons of Love from Rent: I heard this performed on Good Morning America yesterday. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes -- in fact one rolled down my cheek (sniff, sniff).

4 Minutes by Madonna and Justin Timberlake. I'm not linking to the video. I just like the song.

Any old Eagles song: I have the two-disc live album on shuffle in my car and I love every song. I especially like their 9/11 tribute Hole in the World.

Ok -- I have to give up. I can only come up with songs I really dislike, such as I Kissed A Girl. Yuck.

Now for the tag part of the game. I'll send this to:

Friday, August 1, 2008

August is Craft-With-What-You-Have month

Nothing I hate more than having to buy things to make things. When I was working on the books last summer, I felt that I was constantly hitting the store, looking for the perfect clasp or trim. Needless to say, my stash overfloweth my workspace, so it’s time to use things up! For the next month (and into the foreseeable future) I am going to hit the reserves for my materials, making things from what I have, and not falling for the siren song of the 40% off coupon.

I decided to make some earrings for my friend Nickie’s birthday. In the spirit of craft-with-what-you-have, I got out the jewelry supplies. The first thing I noticed was that my findings and accent beads are quite depleted, thanks to all that went into Mostly Metals. I settled on some lacquer-red shell pearls and decided to play with some wire wrapping. I always have trouble making symmetrical earrings, but hey – it’s the organic look that’s charming, isn’t it? I really wanted to use lever-back findings, but did I have any silver in my stash? No. I ended up making a pair of hooks, because I wanted the ear wire gauge to be the same as the earrings. At the last minute I added a 4mm black onyx bead to each wire. I love the results. And, I never would have ended up with this if I started my journey at the store. Here's a picture that's a little out of focus, but you'll get the idea.