Studio Musings

Monday, April 17, 2017

More Happy Fish from Fusion Beads Workshop

Sometimes, it's important to work on projects simply because they make you happy.  No worries about whether you're creating 'fine art' or even 'fine craft', just crafting, stitching, drawing - whatever - because it's fun.  That's what my Happy Fish are for me.  And that joy in creation fueled my Happy Fish workshop at Fusion Beads late last month. 

My students ran the gamut: one had far more experience with bead embroidery than myself, while others were just getting into the idea of working with seed beads at all.  When asked - everyone's primary reason for joining the class was 'because it looked fun'. 

I snapped photos towards the end of class, and my students said I could share.  I love how different they all are. 

Love the outline variations here!

starting with the glass cabochon

I really liked her use of the O-beads

crescent beads and daggers were very popular this workshop

the whole class had fun coming up with ideas for her 'bait line'

crystal rivoli button for they eye

Vala's fish, starting to take shape - just starting to add some half-round pearls
And here are some photos that I received later:
Vala sent me this picture of her finished fish

Debbie made great use of the new shaped beads

I would have never considered adding the crystal 'bells' for fins!

Lesley's fish, jumping over a candle

Monday, March 20, 2017

Let's do it again! Another (Un)Finished Objects Blog Hop

We had such fun with the last one - I'm hosting another UnFinished Objects (UFO) Blog Hop!  I put it up for a vote amongst the group, and almost everyone from the first hop has already signed on.  

UnFinished Objects (UFO) Blog Hop
Signups through March 26
Blog Hop May 1st, 2017

And as promised, I'm opening this up to new additions.  If you missed the last one and want to join; here's your chance.  Once again, you don't even have to have a blog.  I've set up a closed, members-only Facebook Group, and we'll be doing a simultaneous reveal there.  Or I'm happy to host you on my blog as well.  The choice is totally yours.

Again, the group is open to people working in all mediums.  Right now, there are a lot of beaders, but you don't have to work with beads!!!!!  For myself, I've decided to do a 1-for-1. I'm allowing myself to pick one non-beading UFO (projects that are unlikely to ever appear in a tutorial) for every beady UFO I tackle.  I'm enjoying the permission to work on some purely 'for fun' projects.

What you're committing to:
  • Sorting through your desktop, drawer, pile of unfinished objects (this can be scary, but can also be like searching for buried treasure). 
  • Choosing one or more to finish, then getting started!
  • Sharing your (hopefully) newly finished object with the group on May 1st.  (If it's not quite done, simply share where it is as of that point - any progress is forward movement)
  • Additional fun - share a little of the story of the project; why you started, how it got stuck in the UFO pile, why you decided to finish that particular item. 
 You can also use the Facebook Group as a support network if you need ideas or suggestions for moving forward, or simply as a joint cheering squad as we all move towards our goals.  (Unless you request otherwise, I'll add you to the Facebook Group when you sign up).

Want to join in?

Leave a comment, or send me an email: (skunkhillstudio at gmail dot com) with your name, email address and blog address if you have one.  Feel free to also include information on your UFOs, but this isn't absolutely required up front.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

(Un)Finished Objects Blog Hop

Just over a month ago, I invited friends and fellow artists to join me in founding an UnFinished Objects support group, and participate in a Blog Hop Challenge. The time has come to see how everyone has done with finishing some of their UFOs.  Here's the full list of blogging participants:

Karen Williams, Baublicious (you're here)
Francie Broadie, Francie Broadie Custom Jewelry
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Therese, Therese's Treasures
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz E, Bead Contagion
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cathi Salzarulo Kent, The Cat's Meow
Liz Hart, Treetop Life

Personally, I'd hoped to finish two of my longest-standing UFOs.  I didn't quite hit the mark, but one is complete, and the other is much farther along than it was at the start of the year. 

UFO #1:  My Orange Blossom Tea Cozy definitely held the record for my oldest UFO.  One that I'd always planned to finish.  I started the cozy for an embellishment round robin for a sewing group in my old hometown of Columbia, Missouri back in 2001, right as I prepared to move from Missouri to Seattle.  I crazy-patched the cozy, then started its travels through the group - it spent a month with each friend while I worked on their pieces.  All of the machine embroideries are their work.  I moved before the Round Robin was quite complete, and I finished the last few turns with a little help from the post office.

Before: this is where it sat for the better part of 15 years!
After the cozy returned to me, I did a fair bit of hand embroidery, but at some point I put it away.  I'd say it was out of sight, out of mind, but I'd pull it out every now and then and think 'I really ought to finish this', before putting it back away for another day.  Pulling it out for this challenge, I made sure to photograph the back side because several of my friends signed their contributions. 

I haven't done any embroidery work (except bead embroidery) in years, so this was a fun project to pick back up.  Some of my stitches were a little shaky, but I still love french knots! And here it is finished:

I continued layering the embroidery, and added sequins

And the other side
closeups of more recent stitching

I first added french knots to the feather stitch.  Then, I had a great time 'enhancing' the boquet just above it with both french knots and tiny sequins.  The machine embroidery made a fun background for further embellishments.  One of my favorite early embroideries is the away I 'completed' the orange slice stitching it's outlines into the blue fabric.  It was tempting to keep going and keep adding additional embellishments - but down that path lays a continued UFO.  

Wondering where I left off with UFO #2:  Starry Night Collar?  It's the one that's not quite done.  Truthfully, I figure I need another ten hours or so (don't ask how many hours I've already put in).  For some reason, this piece reminds me of beaded crochet - I think because of the texture.  Although my sister recently reminded me just how different beadweaving and crochet really are. 

comparing the stitching and components to my original mockup 'pattern'

combines snowflakes, random RAW and freeform beadweaving

On the plus side, I've finally figured out how I'm going to manage the clasp.  If you compare the photos above to the one from this post, you'll see just how much further along it is.

So, I didn't meet all of my goals, but I was pleased to make progress.  And it makes it quite easy to decide what to work on for the next month's UFO project! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Working on UFOs

This Saturday is the UnFinished Objects Blog Hop.  Or should I say the Finished Objects - as that's the challenge and goal - to take one or more UFOs and finish them up.  While a number of newly finished pieces have already made their appearance over in the Facebook group, Saturday's the 'official' reveal. 

For myself - I'm running behind, but the hop has definitely given me impetus to work on a couple of of my UFOs.  I'm determined to finish at least one of them!  What am I working on?

UFO #1:   Orange Blossoms Tea Cozy.  The biggest challenge here is I hadn't done any hand embroidery in YEARs!  I look at my earlier work, compare it to my current, atrophied skill levels, and wonder if it was really me.  Then I consider adding beads.  I know beads!  Then I worry about washability.  Then I wonder if washability really matters....  

UFO #2:  Starry Night Collar.  I've worked on this piece off and on since the 2012 blog challenge that originally prompted the piece.  The photo below shows where I left off, way back when.   Yeah, it was pretty sad (I don't want to say how many hours this photo represented)

As far as I got in the original Big Hole Hop Challenge

As of this morning, the front is almost done - but there's still plenty of stitching to go on the back.  I also need to sort out the final clasp mechanism.  Will I get it done in time?  That's a really good question! 

Guess we'll see Saturday morning.  At the very least, I will share where they both are today.  And we'll get to see what everyone else has accomplished.  Guess I better get back to work!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ring Repair before my Spring Ring Fling Workshop

reattaching the runaway flower
This weekend's my Freeform Peyote Spring Ring Fling Workshop at Fusion Beads

About time to fix this poor little ring!  After riding around in a plastic baggie in the bottom of my purse for at least a month, it lost one of its flowers.  Poor little thing!

As a beading instructor, I fear I am ridiculously hard on my pieces.  Luckily the plastic baggie caught the runaway flower (and the little turn bead too, for that matter).

You can see one of the things I absolutely love about freeform peyote stitch in this photo.  Even though a thread broke and I lost a flower, the rest of the ring stayed neatly intact.  No cascade of escaping beads to corral.  Since I had to stitch the one flower back on, I decided to run my thread through the other two as well, just for reinforcement.  But it wasn't strictly necessary.

ready to wear again.
Now the ring is fixed and ready to wear again. 

With Valentine's Day coming up, it would be easy to make a another Valentine ring or two.  But I did that last year.  So I'm likely to go on to something new.  Not sure what theme I'll work with this coming weekend. 

A friend from Seedbeaders gave me a wonderful, oddly-shaped black pearl that could be a fun focus for my next ring.  Or I may simply stroll the aisles at Fusion Beads and see what jumps out at me. 

It's also fun to see what my students bring to work with - every ring made is so unique!  If you don't believe me, do a search on my blog for 'ring'.  You'll see what I mean. 

a better photo of the pearl than of the ring

Want to come play?

There's still plenty of room if you'd like to join in.  Saturday, January 28th from 2:00- 5:00pm. 

I'm looking forward to it! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Women's Weekend

waiting for the bus - with a party atmosphere
Saturday:  Womxns' March, Seattle

My weekend was a celebration of women.  On Saturday, Joe and I attended the incredible Womxns' March here in Seattle.  It seemed like the march was all anyone talked about in the week beforehand.  The local coffee shops were abuzz with who was going, who was meeting whom, who was knitting hats for whom.  I'd swear that in our neighborhood, it was more anticipated than Christmas.

The morning of, we headed down to El Diablo early, to find it almost empty.  We watched as one group of pink-hatted women after another dashed in, grabbed coffees, and dashed back out.  We also watched the metro buses gliding through the neighborhood packed with pink hats and signs.

the group behind us in line for the bus
We'd planned to meet friends at the coffee shop, then head over to the first stop on the 4 route about 10am.  We could see the corner, and the 40-50 people waiting there from our window seat, so we decided to head over way early.  As we waited, we watched the line grow, then shrink (then grow again) as people bailed to grab an Uber or other transport.  What was really neat was everyone worked to fill their vehicles to capacity, grabbing other people from the line. You'd hear the call, "we have one more space" and someone else would hop out of line and join them.

When we finally bailed, we did the same and brought a new friend from line with us, walking to another friends where her husband had arranged an adhoc carpool, piling ten of us into two vehicles (plus the 2 drivers).  Good thing too; the bus arrived as we were pulling out, and it was already so full that it didn't even stop where we'd been waiting.

the start of the march, before the skies cleared
On the drive to Judkins Park (the starting point of the route), every bus stop we passed was filled with pink-hatted, smiling women (and a fair number of pink-hatted men, too).  Truth is, we never actually made it to the park - by about eight blocks out it was obvious we'd have to go the rest of the way on foot.

Abandoning our drivers with many thanks, we walked another couple of blocks before the crowds simply got too thick to get any closer.  We ended up at 20th and Jackson.  Turns out none of our group had remembered to download a map of the route onto our phones.  So I asked one of the very nice policewomen for assistance and discovered that we'd accidentally found the actual starting line for the march - with a Native American group lined up right behind the police on bicycles.

inside the long river of people with blue skies overhead

Despite watching the start of the march, it took another 40 minutes before we made it out of the first intersection, and another 20 before we'd traversed another block.  There were so many people filtering in from so many intersections that it took forever to move more than 2-3 steps at a time.  But that was okay, because everyone was smiling, everyone was simply so happy to be there, to see the amazing turn out. And it was fun to read everyone's signs.

The signs ran the gamut of causes.  Many I believed in wholeheartedly, some were simply not my causes, and a few I didn't agree with at all.  But that's okay, because it was all about free speech and solidarity. Being able to speak one's truths and knowing you're not alone. That's why I was there.  After last year's brutal election cycle, many have been left fearful and hurting.  I wanted to be there simply because it seemed right to stand up and say 'I care, I'm paying attention, and you're not alone'.

One of my favorites was a hand-drawn sign carried by a little girl, maybe 5-6 years old riding on her dad's shoulders.  Her sign read 'Make America Kind Again'.  A goal I can definitely get behind.  It was fun walking with our little group of six women, three teenaged girls and two men.  Even when it was tricky keeping us all together in the crowds. Thank you Joe, for walking with me, and for sending the text last week, asking if I wanted to go on this particular 'date'.  Thanks Jen, for sending the text 'Come to our house now', and for organizing the impromptu carpool.  And thank you Spencer for playing chauffeur.

From Judkins Park to the Seattle Center, the full route was 3.6 miles long.  Based upon aerial photos I saw afterwards, we filled the entire route!  The first people were arriving at the Seattle Center before the last marchers had left Judkins Park.  Estimates this morning say there were as many as 175,000 people.  It was an incredible feeling to be part of such a crowd.  A peaceful, happy, smiling group of people from so many diverse backgrounds, coming together to participate as a community.

Thank you Seattle Bicycle Police!
Arriving at the Seattle Center felt a little anti-climatic.  My feet were sore, and I was ready to be off of them.  But at the same time, I was riding high on the energy of the event.  It was so powerfully positive.

Even the amazing bicycle police along the route were smiling, and wished us well along the way.  I want to sing out many praises for the women and men of the police force - thank you for being there, thank you for supporting the constitution, the 1st amendment, and your fellow citizens.

a few more signs I saw on the march

Seedbeaders!  (about half of the roomful)
Seedbeaders Sunday

And if the march wasn't enough to make me smile, Sunday was Seedbeaders.  This was the first time I'd managed to make it in about a year - I don't think I attended a single meeting in 2016.  Walking in the door, it was like old-home week, with so many friends I hadn't seen in ages.

Jennifer Porter talks about Random RAW
January's the month where everyone is asked to bring ideas for mini-workshops they're willing to teach at the monthly meetings through the year.  All of the meeting projects are free - members donating their talents to the rest of the membership.  I am so very impressed by the talent and generosity of everyone in this group.

This month, Jennifer Porter was teaching her version of embellished, random right angle weave.  One of my besties, Jennifer and I have a similar vibe (and tend to inspire each other) with our work as we're both drawn to freeform bead weaving.  (If you're wondering why her name sounds familiar, she is one of the featured artists in Explorations). 

Jennifer let me snap this picture of her talking about random right angle weave, and then a couple pictures of her work.  I'm including my best photo below (definitely not a studio setting - so the photos not as good as I'd like).

Cherry Trees in Fall by Jennifer Porter

A bright cherry on the Sunday goodness - it turns about a dozen of us from Seedbeaders had attended the march, and we all had different stories and highlights to tell.  I'll admit, I'm still buzzing from my wonderful, incredible women's weekend.

Good thing, too, because next up on my to do list today is State taxes for Skunk Hill Studio.  Yippee! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Want to Join a UFO Support Group?

Are unfinished projects cluttering your work surface and filling your drawers?  Would you like to 'clear the decks' of some of the UFOs that seem to accumulate?  Then I invite you to join my new UFO Support Group. 

Making art is such a solitary endeavor - I envision this support group as a way for us to feel a little less alone as we tackle our 'problem' and 'neglected' children.  The group will be a place where members can ask for constructive feedback when they're stumped on how (or even whether) they should move forward on a project.  And where we can share the celebration when projects come to completion.

Towards that end, I plan to set up some sort of group forum where we can share 'insider' information during the month.  Once we have a core membership, I'll send out a survey to figure out what venue would fit us best (Google Groups, Facebook, etc). 

And to give us regular deadlines to work towards (and times for celebration) I plan to host regular FO (Finished Object) Blog Hops.  But no worries - you don't need to have a blog to join in!

this tea cozy from my crazy quilting days is crying for attention
Who can Join?  
Any artist or crafter working in any medium who would like to join a positive support group working to bring some unfinished projects to fruition.  As I've shared in private emails, some of my UFOs include a steampunk outfit that I cut out back in the Fall of 2015, and a crazy quilted tea cozy that dates back to around 2001.  And of course, I have plenty of beading projects that I hope to finish.

You simply need to commit to completing at least one UFO by the first reveal - where we will share our newly Finished Objects and pat our backs in congratulations. 

My hope is that this will be an ongoing support group, but members might not participate in all reveals.  Right now, my plan is to continue this through at least mid-summer, then see how it's going. 

When and Where?
Signups are open through January 31st, 2017

First Finished Object Blog Hop will be Saturday, March 11th.  That gives us enough time to work, but not so much time that we can lose focus.  Together, we'll decide whether to host additional Blog Hops on a monthly or every-other-month basis.  

How to Join
Comment on this blog, or send me a email (skunkhillstudio at gmail dot com) with your name, email address and blog address if you have one.  Feel free to also include information on your UFOs, but this isn't absolutely required up front. 

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!