Monday, December 17, 2007

This is SO COOL!

Was checking my sitemeter thingie, and noticed an inordinate amount of hits from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Israel, Austria...
I only know a few People from Europe, but they all live on the same continent I do!
Turns out these wonderful people have found my crochet tutorial, and it's been linked to through here:
http://club.osinka.ru/viewtopic.php?t=35276&start=195

What looks to me to be a beading forum. ( I believe it's written in Russian, but I'm not sure...)

I LOVE IT!!!

If you would have told me, 10 years ago, that I would have created a beading tutorial that would have been helpful to beaders across the world, I would have scoffed at you! ;)

This has inspired me to create a whole section on this blog, aimed at tutorials only. I think it would be a fantastic way to share with the beading community.

To the ladies who've been linking:
danke, merci, dziekuje, spasibo

(and if there are mistakes, blame it on these guys!)

:)

The Sabrina cuff (sort of a recycled post...)

A few years back, I constructed this lovely textured cuff for a lovely young lady named Sabrina. Sabrina and I met at the gym, she was one of my first students. She just also happens to be a hair stylist extraordinaire, with much, much flair, and has been making me pretty for almost 3 ears now. ;)

On occasion, we'll exchange services, where I'll get a kick-ass haircut, and she gets some jewelery! Who could ask for anything more!?! On one occasion, after a full head of foils, and a fantastic cut, we got down to the business of designing a special piece for her. She wanted a bracelet, but couldn't find anything she liked in my 'reference' book. (Whenever I find something inspiring in a magazine, I cut it out, and paste it into this scrapbook I have - and they're all organized by item too: necklaces, bracelets, earrings... ) And she liked some of the necklace styles, but doesn't wear necklaces. She kept pointing to a particular one though, and said she liked that design a lot. "Do you think you could make something like this in a bracelet?" she asked... "I don't see why not." We picked the beads and hardware, I took her measurements, and I got to work.

I started with a netted base, which I then surface embellished with a short hematite bead fringe. I sneaked in a few hematite stars in there too, figuring it would be a cute, personal surprise for her. I figured she'd like the hidden stars, seeing as she's got 13 (yup: 13!) of them tattooed on her body. (these 13 are accompanied by various other body art.)


I love the clasp on this piece. It cheeses me off that I can't find another one anywhere. I got it at an L.B.S., but they don't carry it anymore.




When I gave Sabrina her cuff, she was one happy camper.
I was so happy when she opened the box and said :"Oh it's gorgeous!! It's exactly what I wanted!"


I love those moments:
They're PRICELESS!!


It's a popular design, and although I have a feeling it would be a good seller, I haven't made many, since every time I've made one, it's taken me FOREVER to finish it. It's not difficult by any means, it's just that the details are very time-consuming. I've been wanting to make one in pearls. Cute little button pearls.

I just wish I could find more of those clasps!



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Posh Party!

I hosted another Posh Party at my place on Saturday. It wasn't a big blowout, only had 7 ladies come, but it was perfect. I laid out some yummy finger foods - spring rolls, pot stickers, shrimp with cocktail sauce, grapes and cheese - made a huge pot of fresh strong coffee, all followed by a box of decadent dark chocolate truffles. (YUMMY!)

I busied myself all day preparing for the party, thankfully, I had my very own little 'insistant' to help me... (long story short, I was taking photos one day, and she was getting underfoot, when I told her I didn't need any help at the moment, she replied "But I want to be your insistant!", to which I replied "Mission accomplished!" LOL!) Mimi was very good at helping me with my price tags, and when pricing was done, she helped my by keeping busy with her homework. ;)

I spent three days cleaning my place up, and boy did it show. It was well worth the effort, as everything gleamed, and I felt quite proud of my accomplishment. Here's my table. Not very big, but I'm starting to build up on displays, so I can usually manage to still put quite a lot of pieces down.

LOVE my fishbowl. I have two. One for Beta fish, and one for Gold fish. I love my fish! ;) Of course, I realize that these are quite large for a single fish, but I like my fish to be happy, so I give them lots of room to play in.

The newest addition to my displays, and now I'm scrambling to find another one just like it. They're perfect! I have another wall mounted one from which I display my own jewelry, but this one has its own little stand, so it brings the pieces up to eye level. Very nice.
I found it funny that my "Vixen" necklaces even looked good hanging from the sleeves. Gave it that dressed up feeling.


Different view. Makes me laugh every time I see my sagging shelves. Guess I've got too many beads, eh? ;) I've asked hubby for a brand new bookshelf for Yule. I found the perfect one at Ikea.
Here is Maria, playing hide & seek with my Christmas tree, Sammie beside her, and that's Katherine in the green sweater.

On a side note: I like my Christmas tree! Believe it or not, this is my very first one! I mean, I had them every year growing up, but this is the first time I've ever put one up since I've been on my own, for, well, 17 years now... I think mom felt sorry for my lack of ornaments, so she sent me some of the old ones from my childhood. Including the whole hand-crocheted set of Snow White's seven dwarfs -complete with hand-sewn felt clothing!!!- that she made when I was 6 years old!

Cheryl, one of my co-workers at the gym, and Katherine.
(I swear she has a face!)

And here we have Bianca and her mom Mary on the floor, Katherine at the back (see? I told you she had a face!), Maria in the corner, Sammie in red, and Moi, finally enjoying a nibble. Mary and Bianca left shortly after this, and my friend Cindy showed up just as they were leaving.

I was pleased that it turned out so well. Like I said, it wasn't huge, but I think that 7 people at once was perfect. My favorite part of the evening? (aside from the financial aspect of course! LOL!) Right after that last photo was taken, I sank back into the couch cushions, and upon scanning the room, I got this incredible sense of well-being. It felt wonderful to be surrounded by women, food, and coffee. Oh, and chocolate! I honestly can't think of a better way to spend a nice quiet evening, eating, drinking, and shopping for jewelry!

Gotta Love It!

My biggest conundrum at the moment? How soon is too soon to host another one??? ;p

Monday, December 03, 2007

New page up on my website


I've been meaning to build this page up for months now, but never seemed to have enough hours in one day to do it all. Well, today, I had the opportunity, and some fantastic lighting, to photograph a few of my dad's bowls to display on my site.

After a few hours of photography, uploading, cropping and resizing, I got them up on my site, and since I'm really good at talking/selling my jewelry, and not so sure I'm so good with wood... ;) I was wondering if perhaps a few of you wouldn't mind taking a peek, and letting me know?


Please?

Oh, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I really want to offer my dad this extra opportunity to get his work out there. He doesn't have access to cyberspace, and is quite intrigued with it, and is very excited at the prospect of selling his pieces on there. I can't wait to show him he's got his very own page on my site!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blogger Love!

My friend Jin - that's her button in my right-hand column - has decided to spread some blogger love! Every so often, she'll create one of her blog readers in the form of a pastry. This is how Jennifer sees Moi, as a beautiful silver beaded necklace, with a large silver and turquoise beaded bead.

Now, you know I just HAVE to try and duplicate this in beads, right? ;)
Mmmmmm, finally, beads I could EAT!!!! I just recently ordered some Jin treats, they traveled well, all the way here to Canada, from Wisconsin. You've GOT to try them, they're out of this world!

Well, this might make me want to bead a little. I haven't been beading actually. I got hooked on something new... Yeah, like I need a new hobby... But I really like this. I've taken up Crochet. WITHOUT beads! Just a hook and some yarn. Good times man! ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Crochet Tutorial

I'll start with this: Diana, YOU ROCK!!!
Had you not suggested that photobucket thingie, I wouldn't have tried to save these as JPEGs, and I don't think I would have ever managed to get them up here. Thank you!

These will get larger when you click on them, so I hope they're nice and clear for you. So far, everyone who's tried it has loved it.










Addendum:
I would like to let you all know how much I've appreciated all of your words of thanks, and personal emails. It brings me so much pleasure to know that this tutorial was helpful in getting you all on the way to understanding the technique; and all of your comments are wonderful, and have left me more grateful than you could ever imagine.

Thank you again
Jewels


J'aimerais vous laisser toutes savoir combien j'apprécie vos mots de remerciement et vos courriel personnels. Cela m'amène autant de plaisir de savoir que ce tuto vous ais tous aidés à mieux comprendre la technique; et aussi que tous vos commentaires sont merveilleux, et me laissent plus reconnaissante que vous ne puissiez savoir.

Merci encore
Jewels

:)

And sorry, these are the only two languages I write fluently so far. ;)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Quick question:

Does anyone here know how I can upload a link to a PDF file from my harddrive, so that I can share it with my readers? I'd love to share my new Bead Crochet tute with you. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spring knit cuff

FINALLY! Blogger's letting me post some photos.
I'm still putting the finishing touches on the tutorial, all the photos are done, I just needed to get the knitting terminology proofed, since I'm a beader, not a knitter. o_O

Thought I'd put in this shot of the materials. Now, the olive dish might throw you off, but, I'll share a little tip with you: Since I don't own a bead spinner (which facilitates stringing large amounts of beads in practically no time flat!), I use my olive dish to hold my beads, and I just dig at them with a super long needle and Voilà! A super duper easy stringer! ;) The porcelain surface makes it easier for the needle to just slip in through the beads, without causing any of the friction or snags that a beading mat might offer.

See? I AM smarter than the average BEAR! ;)

Materials

Clasp closeup
I dug these Jade beads out of my stash, they just happened to match the thread perfectly!

Finished!

White one done with size 8/0 Matgama drops

Red one, finished with three small magnetic clasps.

I wanted to finish every piece differently, to show the readers that you're not limited to one style of clasp. Being a "Think Outside The Box" type of gal, I'm not fond of limitations myself... ;)

You know, I really used to like the idea of a black background for my pieces, but now that I see how stark it is, I think I'll stick to gray, it somehow seems to soften the look of the pieces, doesn't it?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

M.I.A.

I quite recognize that I've been missing in action lately. I suppose life has something to do with it. I'm back to work at the gym, my sore body a testament to my hard workouts.

Creatively speaking, not much is happening these days. Really, my usual fount of ideas has run dry, or so it seems. I haven't had much inspiration to bead, let alone the desire to create something new and unique. All I've been plugging away at is more crocheted ropes, and I'm nearing a point where something's gotta give... You know?

Well, I think something is giving way actually. I was contacted last winter to submit a project to a [needlecraft related] Canadian magazine, and after all the health and money issues my family had been dealt, I had completely forgotten about it. Then, a week ago, I got an email from the editor, and was jolted back to bead reality. (Oh yeah, I'm a beadworker! LOL!) This had the added effect of lighting a proverbial fire under my butt, and got me going. So, I've been working on the project all week, creating extra pieces with the technique in question. My own design of course, it is a bead-knitted bracelet, and I'm really hoping it will be well received. I wish I could upload a photo of the project here for you, but Blogger's being a nitwit, and won't let me. o_O

Oh, and since it seems to be the only technique I've been using for the last year, I've also been graciously asked to teach bead crochet during our next Bead Society meeting, LOL! I'm trying to work up a tutorial for that too. In the meantime, I'm going to take a stroll over to YOUR blogs, and see what you've all been up to. Something that is long overdue, since I haven't been visiting anyone for a while. Man, I don't know where this funk came from, but I sure hope it'll be on it's way elsewhere soon, 'cause I'm not sure how much more of it I can handle.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Remember

That necklace my coworker gave me to 'refurbish'?
This one:
Well, I was very careful to take notes while performing the frog stitch on it - along with photos for visual aid - in the hopes that I could re-create something like it. But I was inspired to use something more than seeds for my piece. I used freshwater pearls and dark chocolate/copper Swarovski bicones. It was great fun to make this necklace, and I have a feeling I might try this again. I had so many different color schemes ideas while working on it.

The sides are basically made the same way, but for the fact that I decided to leave the back portions bare. So instead of crocheting to the end, I finished in a nice 'figure-8' finger weave technique.

And then I used the extra long thread ends, attached them to the silver heart toggle, and then made a lovely cascade of branch fringes, incorporating more of the pearls. A good 'counter' weight for the heavy fringing at the front.
(and boy is this necklace weighty!)


The front tassel hangs from a large, chocolate brown, gold foil lampwork heart, and I varied the techniques in the fringes. A few are crocheted, like the main strands in the necklace, a few more branched fringes, and some simple strands, accented with more pearls, and more bicones.

Sadly, the photos do not do this piece justice. I tried to photograph is in ambient sunlight, but the pearls just gave off this bright glare. In the shade, and I lose a bit of the color's richness. (The pearls are golden yellow with coffee brown edges). Oh, but you should have seen the crystals shining in the sunlight. Nothing short of spectacular. Okay, it seems that my darling pearls might be finding themselves in a bit of a competition for my affection regarding these little sparklies... ;)

Well, I sure hope this is just the beginning of setting the muse in motion. My next endeavor: Finishing a few U.F.O.s that have been lying around for a while. I hate seeing them floundering on my table or in a box, just waiting to be completed. That, or the myriad other pieces that just need to be put out of their misery... Hopefully I'm pulling out of this funky haze that invaded my cranium in the most recent weeks. Hopefully.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grimsby Festival of Arts

Sucked this year! I came prepared, with plenty of ammunition, but there just weren't any takers. I had the right attitude too. I didn't expect too much, just wanted to cover my costs, and then maybe double that so that I had a nice little sum to take home and take my friend to dinner, but no. This year, the GFA was filled with Lolly Gaggers! Not just that, but once again, I was faced with the fact that at least a quarter of the exhibitors were of the B&S variety: Buy and Sell. These numb skulls will buy some fifth-rate piece of crap, made by some poor beggar working for pennies a day in China or India, and then pass it off as their own at shows. Trust that a person like myself, who's been working at this craft for nearly 3 decades, can certainly tell the difference between an artisan/artist created piece, and a pennies piece. Trust... Besides, no artist worth her salt in the 'Americas' would even consider selling something that certainly took hours to make for a mere $5. (Not that the pieces are worth much more when you take the quality of the materials and the shoddy workmanship into account). But I gotta tell ya: It burns my ASS that I work so hard to offer quality pieces that just aren't recognized as such. In this day and age of Mass Consumption, the good folks have been tricked into thinking that quantity has become more important.

Just finished setting up. Still on cup of coffee #1.


However, the day was beautiful, and I got to spend it with my BFF M. No kids, and no moms. Just the two of us, hanging out, eating, and people watching. I think M might have the makings of a sales person. She was the best helper I ever had at one of these shows! Sadly, I don't think she'll be doing any more, since the results of this one were so disappointing. We certainly expected a bit more. But we had fun together, and that's what matters.



This last shot should get a chuckle out of you, certainly got one out of me:

Guess that's one way for Peepaw to make some extra cash, eh? ;)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dissassembly line

In preparation for an outdoor art show I was participating in this past weekend, I spent most of the week manufacturing. I knew I had more than enough stuff to sell, but I still went crazy making new pieces. I don't know where this habit of mine comes from, where I feel the need to make more pieces than necessary; as if my older creations weren't good enough, or I was going to run out of items to sell (Oh the HORROR! LOL!)... But, my hubby will always sensitively remind me: "It might be old to you, but it's new to them!" So from now on, I'm going to try not to overdo it. (Yeah RIGHT!)

So during my trip, I finally figured out how to sew a near invisible join on my crochet tubes, and so I've been crocheting bangles like a mad woman! I've found these bangles to be an excellent way to use up all those odds and ends size 6/0 beads that I just had too few of, so I made some lovely bead soups with them. Also good for those beads where I loved their color, but they only seemed to work well by themselves. (You know the ones! The ones you just HAD to buy, 'cause they were such an interesting color, but three years later, you still haven't used them, because no other bead suits them.) Like the white heart, root beer colored ones in the forefront of this photo.

But, what this also means, is that I've been running out of beads, real FAST! What does this mean? Why, a short trip to the R.R.R. box of course! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! The triple R box holds all those old projects that I didn't like as much once they were done, or only stopped halfway in the project, knowing full well I wouldn't like it completed (see, live and learn!), and countless practice pieces. I found two Dutch Spiral sets that had been laying in the box for years, and decided it was time to part with them. As luck would have it, they both contained a copious amount of Gunmetal size 6/0, which I was in sudden need of. ;)

It's a bitter sweet feeling, dismantling old pieces. Some I don't think I ever will take apart, but others, such as these practice pieces, will eventually bite the dust, so to speak. I couldn't help but dwell on the amount of hours I'd spent making these pieces. How I'd loved them once they were completed. How excited I felt at learning this new technique. But, I still took the scissors to them, and tried not to cringe too much at all the little bits of precious thread that were being sacrificed in order for me to reclaim a few beads.

One hour later, one set down, one to go:

Alright: Now, time to separate the 6/0's from the 11/0's!

30 minutes later: Two neat piles.
I think these will look really cool done in Crochet. I have quite a bit of the 11/0's soup. No clue what to make with those yet. But I'm sure I'll think of something, especially now that I just got MORE BEADS!

Hee! Hee! Hee!

Oh, the show, well, that's a whole 'nother post.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lioness' Birthday

I had the immense pleasure of being present for two of my best friends' birthday this year. As luck would have it, it's happened on the same day... Maybe it's 'cause they're TWINS! ;) LOL! Oh alright, I'm not that funny!
Manon and Camille invited me to spend some quality time with them last week, where we started with dinner at a lovely Thai restaurant, and ended with drinks at Chez Lucien, a quaint little French pub where Camille works. The last few weeks had been emotionally charged for the girls and their sisters Adèle and Julie, who had just found out some very sad news concerning their mom, and they just needed to let off some steam. I was so happy to be part of this evening, and to finally get to meet Julie for the first time!


Adèle, Camille, Julie, et Manon

I knew what Manon wanted most: Last year, Camille got a lovely Freeform Peyote bracelet, all in white. And although Manon loved the pieces I offered her, this bracelet really caught her eye. So, I made her one! As for Camille, that was a bit tougher. She's the epitome of style, and is a great art connaisseur, so I wanted to give her something that could seem extravagant, without being so. I knew exactly what would suit her, and made sure I brought every material needed to finish the hand-knotted strands of freshwater pearls I'd started my last week home (yes, the same week I spent agonizing over whether my apartment would be suitable for a Posh Party, LOL!) I finished both during my stay at my Papa's, and am happy to report that they both loved their gifts.



Here is Manon, showing off her new bracelet called "Ice"
(Man alive! I always have a hard time making bracelets for these two, they have such teenie writs!!!)

Camille with her pearls.
She got a great compliment from Lisa that night, who declared the strands "So Channel!"
(well color me Proud!)

Closeup of the pearls

Closeup of Ice

Happy Birthday girls!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wooden Jewelery

I may have mentioned in the past that my father is an avid practitioner of wood turning. He discovered the artform about two years ago, and has been hooked ever since. He's gotten quite good at it, and I'll be photographing some of his newer pieces soon to share with you. His specialty is working out 'burls', which he'll sometimes find by chance during one of his many nature walks, but recently acquired a truck load from a nearby farmer who'd found plenty on one of his firewood hunts, and got them for a STEAL.

He's slowly branching out from bowls, and has been working on some vessels, honey dippers, and most recently, baby rattles, LOL! (they're impressive though, the design is called 'Captive Rings', and they're made from one single piece of wood!) He's even experimenting on the bowls now, and has been adding shell inlays in some, and is letting some of the natural elements of the burls show through, like leaving bark on the edges. It's really neat, and just like when I was a little girl and used to sit in a far corner of his workshop and would watch him work for hours on any given project, now I like to sit on the basement steps that lead to his workshop, and just watch him in full concentrated action.


Dad at work on his latest bowl

Last week, during my week long visit, I presented him with a challenge: To make me a bangle!
"Ah What?" he said... "A bangle daddy, it's a bracelet you just slip over your fist. I love them, and have a very difficult time finding some that fit my large hand, and the ones I do find, are cheaply made, generic, and crack if I drop them"
"oh, okay... Well, let's see how I can make that..."
So, we got our heads together, drew a few designs, went hunting for some wood in his shop, and tossed some ideas around. He didn't want to go too crazy with the first one, Just a simple one. He settled on Maple. He got two inch-thick planks, and glued them together. The next part was excruciating, well, for me anyways. We had to wait 24 hours for the glue to weld the pieces together... LOL!


Not much to look at at first, just a big block of wood. But is took shape rather quickly.
Once he had shaped it into a cylindrical shape, it took about 45 minutes to complete.


And Voilà! Dad's very first Bangle!
He told me that the way he had fabricated it, it would be practically indestructible; you'd have to take an ax to it in order to break it! LOL!

Of course, not being the kind of person who's just satisfied with, well, one... I immediately challenged him to create a more intricate piece. Wider, and with two different kinds of wood this time: Black Walnut & Maple. Sort of like an oreo, LOL! Well, he took the bait! He set off to cut the planks, and glue them. The next morning, he just couldn't wait to get to work on this one. He was concerned that it would be much too large for my arm, but I assured him that this is exactly what I had in mind! I wanted a wide bangle that would sit higher on my arm.

Here's the block, which he's already started carving out.

A side view, with the original bangle for comparison.

Here we go!
I like the way the wood curls up and flies all over the place.
You can see it starting to take shape here, it's a lovely, even cylinder. Next, he'll start smoothing out the edges and giving them a more rounded shape.

The lathe turns so fast, the friction heats up the chisel. The chisel will get so hot, the metal will turn BLUE!


Now, dad is polishing the wood with bees wax. It's his favored method of finishing a piece, since it's completely organic. That way, no toxic materials will come in contact with my skin.
I liked the look of the beeswax polish so much, I had him do it with the initial bangle as well:


And here they both are!
I am now the proud owner of practically indestructible bangles, made just for me, and just my size! They're UNIQUE! They're DURABLE! They're PERFECT!
Yay!
He's promised to make me another wide one, this time with Bloodwood where the Black Walnut is in the one he's already made me. I've got his gears going now. He's got a few ideas to try some with shell inlay, and might pull out some of his carving chisels, and start adding some carved elements to the wider designs. I've worn the pieces a lot since, and on our way back from his place last week, we stopped in at the local Greek Festival, and boy oh boy, I even had some of the vendors asking me where I'd gotten them! I made sure to point dad out, and tell everyone that he had made them. He was really proud. And surprised! He told me he never would have thought that they would have garnered so much interest! He was most pleased with my incessant comments of "Oh dad! they're GORGEOUS!" and "I just LOVE them!". He said he was happy that he could make me so happy with something so simple. But to me, they're not simple. They were made by my father's hands, and to me, that renders them priceless.

Seems like I may have found a new niche for my Papa to explore!

Bisous!

I've got a great post coming up with photos of my darling friends, and their brand new Birthday Jewelery! ;)