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!
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!


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

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Posh party

Bon Baisers de Québec!!!

Well hello there! I know, I know, it's been a while, but I just didn't have time to do it all the last week I was home. You see, I was preparing for a three-week long trip back home, organizing, cleaning, and preparing the apartment for a Posh Party, and all around going crazy trying to do it all by myself.... Well, it all got done, in record time! ;) Of course, I had to make a few last-minute extra pieces, and since there was a request for anklets, I thought it wise to make a few. As luck would have it, I busied myself with a few easy designs, using my beautiful freshwater pearls, but two dear friends spied them ahead of time, and both made sure to let me know that they wanted them for themselves.... So, I had to make more... LOL!

Now, come in, come in. Please, welcome to my Beadoir, make yourself comfortable, and sit for a spell.

It's not much, but I made do with what I had. The floors are clean, and there's good food and some fresh brewed organic iced tea, lightly sweetened with some local unpasteurized wildflower honey.

I don't have a 'sideboard', but I created a makeshift one with an old school desk and a lovely Moroccan tablecloth.

My little dining room, turned into a cozy little showroom.
Notice my bookshelves, sagging under the weight of all the needed materials for my work.
I love those hardware organizers, they're perfect for storing larger accent beads and finishings. The labeled boxes store my finished pieces, which are all individually packaged and labeled. This, of course, makes it much easier for myself to find a needed piece should it be ordered off the site, or if a friend should happen to drop by in need of a particular piece for a special occasion.

I was worried I wouldn't have enough space for everything, but it all turned out alright. When in doubt, build UP! ;)

Nicole here, a young lady who lives in my building, got herself a pair of Drop Dusters, a Mother of Pearl Memory Wire set, and a lovely four-strand stretch bracelet made of horn. Nicole was also the happy recipient of a very special door prize: a pair of Pearl Dusters.
At which she exclaimed: "Ooh! I'm so happy I didn't buy the pearl ones now, I was going to, and now I've got a pair of each of the ones I liked!!!"

Miz Andrea, showing off her lovely pearl anklet, made with dark amber colored beads and berry colored pearls. She LOVED it!

Maria was in attendance, and amongst a few other pieces was this pearl anklet as well. It looks fabulous against her tanned skin. She wore it the very next day at the pool.

Well, we all had a good time. And to be honest, this was quite a lucrative soirée for me. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but with different guests of course. I didn't have a huge crowd; 10 of the 14 invited showed up, and I'd say I averaged between $25 and $80 a person. In other words, if any other beaders out there are wondering what to do with their ever growing collection of pieces, this might be a great way to showcase them. Bonus: You don't have to pay an admittance fee as you would for craft/art shows, you'll save on lodging/traveling/eating expenses, and you'll be in the comfort of your own home. Try it and see... Who knows? You might build a regular clientèle who would be more than happy to attend on a regular basis. (A few girls did mention that they would love to come if I did this again!)