Studio Musings

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New Leaf Pendant

New Leaf Pendant by Karen Williams, polymer clay leaf by Jeannie Dukic
It's been a very topsy turvy sort of month, full of ups and downs and I haven't managed to finish a blog post in almost two weeks, nor had much energy to visit my favorite blogs.  I've missed you all!

The month began with a wonderful visit with family (I promise I will post some pictures from the trip). Unfortunately, Joe and I woke the morning after our return to discover new colds had waited for us quite impatiently.  They've been the sort of guests who greatly overstay their welcome.  I'm hoping to find a shiny new immune system under the Christmas tree. Or better yet, a matched his and hers set.  That would be splendid!

New Leaf Pendant by Karen Williams, polymer clay leaf by Jeannie Dukic
But in this post I wanted to wish you a very, very Merry Christmas filled with good company and good cheer.  We're having a quiet one this year, but expect it to be quite lovely.  A couple of our friends will join us this afternoon for games and dinner and to share a fairly simple (but yummy) Christmas dinner.

I also wanted to share my New Leaf pendant, my entry for this month's Echo Creative Club. Jeannie's polymer clay leaf made me think of the New Year and new beginnings. And New Year's celebrations.

I thought I'd create a brooch with lots of festive corkscrews to remind me of streamers. Somewhere along the way it became a pendant. It's a much simpler design than my usual, but I like it.

Now I need to go see everyone else's designs.

New Leaf Pendant by Karen Williams, polymer clay leaf by Jeannie Dukic

Cindy Cima Edwards
Donna Martin Bradley
Jeannie K Dukic
Jessica Klaaren
Karen Williams
Kashmira Patel
Kristen Stevens
Lisa Lodge
Lola Surwillo
Shannon Chomanczuk

Jeannie's currently accepting applications for next years Echo Creative Club. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Spring Classes at Fusion Beads

Fusion Beads has published their complete schedule of Spring classes.  (download a full-color newsletter). They offer one of the best selections I've ever seen - with over fourteen pages of classes this time around, including classes in wire working and metal smithing, resin, fusing, jewelry clay, macrame & cord, PMC, chainmaille and of course, Beadweaving! 

Even if you don't live in Seattle, if you're thinking of planning a trip to the area you might give their schedule a peak - they offer classes almost every single day

Taking a peek at the schedule myself, I just discovered that my Corset & Stays Beaded Bead class is one of those featured on the front cover! In case you're wondering, I'll be teaching on February on February 3rd. 

Registration begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, December 13.

Oh, and now through Dec. 16, 2012, will donate $1 to Treehouse, an organization that supports foster children with the purchase of any TierraCast plated pewter holiday charm

I think this is pretty cool as most of the charms seem to run about $1.50.   I haven't seen them in person, but several of these charms look way cute from their pictures. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Celebrating 200(+) Fans on my Facebook Page

I'm hosting a giveaway over on my Facebook page to celebrate hitting the 200 Followers milestone! And I didn't want any of my blog friends to miss out.
What am I giving away? A Snowflake(star) Pendant, made by me, like the one shown here. LAnd if I get enough entries, I'll make more than one.

How do you enter? Comment on my Facebook post. You can also get extra entries by posting on your Facebook page or blog and letting me know. I'm accepting entries through noon PST on December 15th.

Everyone's eligible to enter, but international posters be warned: if you win yours would likely arrive after the new year.


And thank you all for your awesome support!!!!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Inspiration Central - the Seedbeaders' Holiday party

For the first time since summer, I managed to sneak away for the day on Sunday for the monthly NW Seed Beaders meeting.  They are such an incredible group and I was reminded of just how much I had missed them this past fall! 

The December meeting is always jam packed with activity and happenings with a gift exchange, a bead swap game and program planning for the next year or so.  Shelly, our fearless leader, had asked me to take photographs of the Show and Share, Challenge and Future program entries.  I'm going to hold off on sharing the Future program entries because they're still working on the schedule, but I will happily share photos of some of the rest.

Challenge Necklace by Shelly Gillmann
Challenge Necklace by Shelly Gillmann
As we set up, Shelly asked if I could photograph her challenge necklace, which had taken third at the NW Bead Society's fall retreat.  She'd made the necklace for a family member, but wanted documentation before she sent it on it's way as it was the most complex piece she'd created to date.  I love all the little details and tried to get a number of closeups.  Hope she likes the pictures!

'Five Years of Challenges' freeform beaded necklace by Patricia Hardway
'Five Years of Challenges' freeform beaded necklace by Patricia Hardway
Patricia Hardway's gorgeous holiday necklace is the culmination of five separate years worth of challenges.  I love that she included a printed list of all the years' challenges and all the stitches she'd incorporated into the piece.  It looks like a party to me, with the little splashes of color reminding me of confetti. 

Jellyfish pendant by Jennifer Porter
Jellyfish pendant by Jennifer Porter

I fell in love with Jennifer Porter's jellyfish pendant as soon as she walked in the door and I saw her wearing it.   Photographing it posed several challenges - I had to borrow a display rod from one of the other ladies who'd brought items for sale so that I could hang the pendant in my photo boot as it simply didn't look right laying flat against a surface.  And once I had the pendant in my hands, I really, really didn't want to give it back.  The fact that I did made me feel very, very virtuous. 

I photographed this one while it was on the Show and Share table, but it may also be a program topic in 2013.  I'll let you know if it is! 

Ann Wilkinson's Zulu Square Stitch Collar
Ann Wilkinson's Zulu Square Stitch Collar
I love the subtle richness of Ann's collar.  The interplay of warm and cool tones of the rich chestnuts with the cooler olivey-brown tones pairs beautifully with the slow spiral design.  This piece looks and feels substantial.  I'm also always fascinated by how other's end their spirals, so I tried to get closeups of her closure.  She used metal caps shaped like flowers and stitched her beadwork into them; the pictures of that didn't come out quite as clear as I'd hoped.

To cap off this post, here's Georgia McMillan's entry into this year's challenge.  All entrants were given a baggie of common household items and were told to recycle or upcycle them into something:

Georgia McMillan's Recycled Christmas collection
Georgia McMillan's Recycled Christmas collection 

And once I have the 2013 Schedule, I'll post it along with whatever photos I have of the actual projects/techniques. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Okay, maybe not literally; it's still a bit too warm here in Seattle for actual snow. But I was treated to a flurry of snowflakes yesterday and how pretty they were! Yesterday nine students joined me for my second annual Snowflakes and Stars class at Fusion Beads. Such a fun, festive time we had!

Snowflakes clockwise from top left by L. Kay Rokusek, Cathy Warms, Nancy Lundeen, Debby Smick
Snowflakes clockwise from top left by L. Kay Rokusek, Cathy Warms, Nancy Lundeen, Debby Smick

Karen Lusby's snowflake with her bead selections
Karen Lusby's snowflake with her bead selections
I truly enjoy teaching at Fusion Beads.  They have two great classroom spaces and they really go out of their way to take care of their instructors and their students.  And this is one of my favorite classes to teach because a) I get to share one of my favorite, quick and extremely versatile patterns and b) I receive all sorts of inspiration from my students' creations. 

Isn't Kay's garnet, white and silver snowflake at the top left above stunning?  It's so rich and regal.  Nancy named her snowflake at the bottom right 'Siena' because it reminded her of the floor tile mosaics there.  Every student tried something different, and every snowflake was truly unique.  Thank you to everyone who let me photograph their work to share here.  

Karen Lusby even suggested I include her bead selections in my photos of her lovely pastel rainbow creation.  I took one photo just of the snowflake, and then another with the bead packets - transparent light azure AB, transparent light lilac lined AB and sterling plated iris over clear. 

Beaded Snowflake ornament by Karen Williams
Now, it's time to draw for the winner of my Snowflakes and Stars Kit and tutorial.  Between the two blog posts where people entered, there were a total of sixteen entries.  I printed out the comments and started to assign numbers so I could use, my usual method for determining a winner.

Looking at the neatly arranged comments, I decided to do something different this time, so I chopped the pages up into strips, folded the strips and put them all into my hat.  Then I woke my sleeping husband and demanded he draw a name from the hat.  After a little wait during which time I thought he'd simply fallen back asleep, a hand snaked out and plucked a piece of paper, which he then tucked under his pillow.  Luckily, only a peck on the cheek was required to achieve it's release. 

When I finally opened the paper, I found Christine Altmiller's name winking up at me from the page.  So Christine - you are the winner of my bead kit!  Congratulations and I hope you enjoy!  Let me know whether you'd like Cobalt, Silver and Gold or Snow White and Silvery Blues for your kit.  I'd love to get this out to you tomorrow.

Thank you all for participating!  And check back - this isn't the last give away I'm planning for the holiday season.  At least one more is still to come. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moonlight and Shadows (and Snowflakes)

Took me a few more days to get a good finished photograph than expected because I decided to do a little more work on it first.  But at last, here's my finished necklace featuring Jeannie's black and silver gin blossom.  It's now titled Moonlight and Shadows.

Several people I've spoken with lately have mentioned that my Lacework bracelets remind them of spider webs, so I thought I'd play with that here. 

I worked with three different types of silvered beads:  one's opaque metallic reminding me of hematite, another transparent silver lined with sky blue and larger beads that have the sheen of hematite, but are semi-transparent.  Also worked with shiny opaque black Czech seed beads, opaque matte black Japanese seed beads and an assortment of Chinese crystals in blacks and silvers.  Very international! 

The blue lined silver beads reminded me of strands of moonlight, and well you can see where the name came from, from there. 

It's designed as a short, collar-length necklace.  Wish I had a model with a beautiful neck to photograph it being worn.   But here's a clear picture of the full length:

It's a combination of freeform peyote and random right angle weave.  And finished, I think it's sort of a cross between Steampunk and Victorian with a touch of Goth.  Hadn't been going for the last, but the color scheme almost insured it would seem that way a bit.  I imagine it worn with a sleek black dress framed by a low neckline. 

What do you think?

Snowflake and Stars Kit Giveaway

And just a quick reminder - if you're interested in entering my give-away for a Beaded Snowflakes and Stars Kit and Tutorial leave a comment here.  I'll be drawing the winner on Saturday. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Holiday Collection and Cyber Monday at Skunk Hill Studio

Yule Tidings: Corset and Stays Beaded Bead duo by Karen Williams
This is my first year with an active Etsy Store leading into the holiday season.  Last year, my store featured exactly one item - my Snowflakes pattern.

This year, I've added an assortment of my favorite kits and patterns, many just listed in the past week. 

I've even created my first ever 'Holiday Collection', featuring items I thought particularly suited for the holidays.

Karen Williams'  Holiday Collection on Etsy: Skunk Hill Studio

Among the listings I've added are a freeform peyote beading kit to make a piece similar to my Peacock Spring freeform peyote cuff:

Peacock Spring: Freeform Peyote Bracelet Kit Etsy listing photos
Like all my kits, this one includes all the beads and findings you'll need, along with thread and beading needles.  The eight-page tutorial includes detailed, full-color illustrations to get you started and design notes about my process with full-color photographs.

Collage of Lacework Bracelets with random right angle weave
On the upscale side, I'm offering a custom, made-by-me-for-you Lacework Bracelet in your choice of colors, sizes and closures.  I've only listed one of these.  I decided to offer this for the holidays and won't be offering it again any time in the near future. 

Bead related postcards featuring designs by Karen Williams
Beady-related postcards
After spending some time looking through a slew of other Etsy stores, I added gift certificates in two denominations.  While I worked with gift certificates years ago as co-owner of a gallery, this is a new exploration for me as a solo artist and designer.  Guess I'll see if there's any interest.

I'm currently running a Black Friday - Cyber Monday Promotion: for all orders over $25, I will include a free set of seven bead-related postcards. Six feature some of my original beadwoven designs and the seventh is a fun collage of my concrete cabochons. This offer is only good through November 26th 2012. and only on sales which include shipping.  But if you enter the code BAUBLE into the comments section during checkout, I'll extend this offer now through the end of the year for my blog readers. 

Extra sets of postcards are also available for purchase.

Snowflake and Stars tutorial - new photograph
I've even updated some of my older listings, such as my Snowflakes and Stars.  How do you like its new look? 

Oh, and now I have snowflake kits too.  They were one of my post popular items at Bead Fest Texas.  If you already have my instructions and just want the kit fillers, contact me and I can put together a 'refill' listing for you.






Etsy Rain

This weekend was the EtsyRain holiday show.  They took over McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center for two days.  I didn't have a booth, but I was there on Friday, helping to set up.  Which meant I got to be one of the first people to see all the booths once they were set up.  Fun!  I thought I'd include a sneak peak of a few of my favorites here: 

Etsy Treasury featuring items from EtsyRain artisans
Just a few of the wonderful vendors from the show

'It's Coal' gift tags by Sarah of Tuttaloupress
gift tags from Tuttaloupress
I purchased to jars of Sweet Caroline's jams. They were supposed to be Christmas presents, but we've already broken into them over the Thanksgiving weekend because they were too yummy to leave alone.  So it looks like I'll need to buy more.

The award for funniest item has to go to the knitted beards from FoamyWader.  Especially the Peanut Butter and Jelly paired beards.  Don't know what you'd do with them.  But they definitely deserve a chuckle.

Somehow, Tuttalou Press didn't make it into my treasury, but she definitely deserves a call out.  Her work is simply gorgeous.  Her "It's Coal" gift tags are her best sellers, but there's plenty else wonderful here. And check out her About page!  She has some great pictures of her using her vintage press.

Winter Give-Away Celebration

Snowflakes and Stars Beading Kit and Tutorial Giveaway
To help celebrate a stellar year and my first every Holiday Collection, I've decided to host a series of give-aways here on my blog.   The first is for one of my Snowflakes and Stars Kits.  This is a $27.50 value plus shipping.  I'd like to leave this open to everyone, but international shipping quickly adds up, so if the winner is from outside of the US, I will happily cover up to $3 worth of shipping and send you a paypal invoice for the difference.   

In order to enter, leave a comment below between now and December 1st, when I'll be teaching my Snowflakes and Stars class at Fusion Beads.  I will draw for a winner that evening after my class.

For additional entries you can also post this giveaway to your blog or Facebook page or favorite items in my Etsy store and let me know you've done so by posting here.  And, if you make a purchase in my Etsy store, that will give you two additional entries. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Echo Creative Club - November Reveal Hop

This month and next, I'm participating in Jeannie Dukic's Echo Creative Club.  Earlier this month I received this wonderful Gin Blossom focal in black and silver.  I'd originally thought I'd create a choker using random right angle weave, as in my Lacework bracelets, but it was just a little too large for the design (or more accurately, my neck is too short).

Back to the drawing board, I pulled together a collection of black and silver beads.  As I sorted through my collection, I came across a stash of metal washers, including my star washers and decided I had to include them.

My goal was to create a cross between Steampunk and Victorian, at once feminine and delicate and industrial in feel.  I decided to mix freeform peyote and random right angle weave. 

I'm afraid the finished pictures I took all turned out blurry when I loaded them into my camera, so I'll take some more later today and post those, but at least you can get a feel for where the design is going from this post. 

You can see one of my star washers at the lower left.

Here's the list of the other participants this month:

Charlie Jacka
Cindy Cima Edwards
Donna Martin Bradley
Sonya Ingersoll-Stille

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you for an absolutely amazing year!  You have all been such a part of what has made it fantastic.

Here's wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving, where ever you may happen to be. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

50,028 Words and the Night of Writing Dangerously

Back in early September, I made all sorts of grandiose plans for November.  Here in November, I've been scrambling to keep up.

One of those plans I made involved Nanowrimo.  As you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the folks over at Nanowrimo challenge each and every one of you to write a novel over the 30 days of November.   

I find myself looking forward to Nanowrimo eleven months out of the year. is hands-down the best support network for aspiring writers I have ever found.  For thirty days, they provide every encouragement to simply write.  Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, internal editor silenced – with duct tape if necessary – letting the words flow.

This is my fourth year participating.  While the goal for Nanorwrimo is 50,000 words in 30 days, this year I decided to up my personal ante.  My goal was and is to actually FINISH my story this time around.  I will not feel I have won if my characters don’t make it to their own finish line, whatever form that might take.  And so I decided to take drastic measures. 

The collage for my fundraising page
That's where the Night of Writing Dangerously comes into my story.  The wonderful folks who sponsor Nanowrimo host a gala fundraiser event in San Francisco every year during November.  That's what I want to do, I thought to myself.  If I could reach 50,000 words before I left that ballroom, not only would I get to ring the winners’ bell to the acclaim of my peers, but I'd also give my characters twelve additional days to make their way through whatever my story has thrown at them before we’re all dumped into the cold, cruel, Nanowrimo-less world of December. 

So I put together my fundraising page and contacted some of my nearest and dearest and raised enough to attend and to drag my amazing husband along with me.  And I bought our plane tickets. 

Uh, oh!  Problems ahead
Fast forward to November 10.  It's just over one week until the Night of Writing Dangerously, and I'd managed to write exactly 8,709 words.  That meant I was 7,907 words behind the recommended pace to finish by November 30th, forget about November 18th.  Ouch!  I wasn't sure I could catch up by then, let alone by by November 18th.  I nearly threw in the towel. 

But my mom, mother-in-law, sister, aunt and best friends had all pledged.  I didn't want to go back to them and say, well I tried, but I gave up.  Even if they'd understand.  I wanted to at least put in a good showing.  More, I wanted to have something awesome to share.  So I decided to give it my all.

So I wrote, and I wrote, cramming writing into every little bit of time I could squeeze from my schedule.  By the time I arrived in San Fransisco around midnight Friday night/Saturday morning, my word count stood at 25,659.  I had written just shy of 4,000 words that day; one of my best ever single-day counts in four years of participation.  I was still behind, but I figured I could at least catch up with the recommended daily word count before the end of the weekend.  And I hadn't given up!

what I saw of San Francisco
Then something miraculous began to happen.  In between short jaunts out to see snippets of the city, I continued writing and my story came alive!  By Saturday evening, I'd increased my word count to 34,096.  I wrote another 2,000 words before joining other Nanowrimos for breakfast at a local diner on Sunday.  By the time we had to dress for the event, my word count stood at 42,015.

 But I still had nearly 8,000 words to go, and only five hours during which to write if I wanted to "win" that night. 

The way the night works is from 4-5pm there's cocktail hour, with an open bar.  Joe and I showed up late, because more than one drink and my literary hopes would have certainly been dashed for the night.  At 5pm, doors to the ballroom itself opened and everyone scurried in to find their seats.

The Julia Morgan ballroom turned writers' haven
It was the funniest thing to see, everyone in their Noir themed gala finery, sitting down and whipping out their laptops.  Everyone else at our table were from the local area and knew eachother, and none of them were trying to go for the bell.  But they were very encouraging when they found out I was, and how far I still had to go.  I'd barely sat down before the bell rang for the first time and everyone burst into applause. It was Chris, one of the writers I'd met at breakfast that morning.  He'd been at 47,000+ words at that time. 

There were speeches and word sprints (where you try to write as fast as you can for a specific period of time) and raffle drawings and all sorts of other fun and interesting things and I can't tell you about any of them; I was trying to focus so hard on writing.  I did help myself to the candy bar, and spent the evening hopped up on cinnamon jelly beans, which seemed to work even better than chocolate to my amazement.  At some point, Joe went out to the buffet and brought back dinner for me.  Later in the evening he delivered a German chocolate cupcake, and at 10pm, a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and milk.  And still I wrote (do you see a theme here?)

At 10:32pm, less than half an hour left before the evening ended, I checked my word count once again. There were the numbers I'd been hoping for: 50,028.  For a moment I simply stared at the screen.  Then I started to vibrate.  Then Joe asked me what was wrong.  I couldn't speak, so I pointed, not quite believing what it said.  He looked at my screen, grabbed my hand and literally dragged me to the front of the room.  There, a very kind woman put together my crown. Where else do fully grown adults wander around proudly wearing paper crowns?  Then I got to ring the bell.  It was large, and my hands were so numb from all the typing I had to hold it with both hands.  And the room applauded. 

Some of my writing from last night is truthfully quite awful, I am sure.  I haven't even opened my document to look at it since Sunday.  Tomorrow morning, I think, is soon enough.  To reach my word count, I'd turned the automatic spell check off, so I wouldn't be distracted by the red corrections.  I expect my entire screen to bleed red when I turn spell check back on. 

But the amazing thing is, I truly like my story!  It's ungainly, and awkward and needs a huge amount of revision, but I'm more than two thirds of the way through the plot and it's fun!  I have never made it so far into the plot in any of my other previous novels.  And now I have another twelve days (ten now as I took the past two days off) to finish the first, horribly rough draft of Jane's, my 13 year old protagonist's, story. 

I'm still stunned that I actually did it!  On Sunday I wrote 15,932 words.  To give you something to compare it to that's roughly equivalent to about 59 pages in a trade paperback.  Even today I'm still stunned and walking on air every time I think about it.  I did something I truly thought couldn't be done.  I thought I'd lost my opportunity when my word count slipped so low last week.

If you're curious about my story, you can check out the plot synopsis I wrote on November 1st on my Nanowrimo page.  The story has definitely morphed since then, but that's where it started.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Catching up on Everything, Earthquake Retrofiting my House and a New (to me) Couch

The past week and half I've spent trying to catch up on everything that's slipped behind and through the cracks while I was sick and crazy busy prepping for Texas.  I am happy to say that I can once again take more than the shallowest of breaths without a coughing 'til I see black or my lungs lungs feeling like they're on fire.  The best part of being sick is that day when you realize you're feeling better, and can actually breathe and just how AMAZING that feels.  Nothing like being really sick to make you appreciate basic health! 

pony wall, monster lag bolts and corner braces
While I was recuperating, much madness was going on at our house.  In my last post, I'd mentioned that we were prepping to have our house earthquake retrofit.   They showed up last Monday around mid-afternoon and were here through Friday.  It was good that they didn't show up first thing Monday, as I was still frantically moving things around. 

Sound Seismic did a fantastic job!  I'd definitely recommend them.  What is earthquake retrofitting, you might ask? The main gist of it is tieing your house properly to the foundation.  In most house construction, there's this short wall, called a pony wall (why - I don't know, maybe because it's short and everything rides on it?) between your foundation and the first story of the house.  You can see it behind Matt, the lead workman, in the photo above.  That wall typically just rests on the foundation in older construction and is tied to the first story with a few nails. 

Retrofitting and painting in one of our basement storage areas
What's holding it all together, you might ask?  Gravity! Yep - that was pretty much it.  Like a house of cards! Scary, huh?  It was for me, living in Earthquake Land.  The stuff of nightmares, literally.  So this year we splurged and had it fixed. 

First they tore all the facing boards off the pony wall so they could get to the framing.  Then they installed these monster lag bolts through the wood sill down into the concete foundation every 18 inches.  To top it off, before they installed each of these bolts they poured epoxy into the holes they'd drilled, so those puppies aren't going anywhere!  In a couple of corners they added triangle braces as well, to help protect against sheering action.

And everywhere they added those bolts, they added new 2x4s along the bottom.  Why, I asked?  That was so they had something to anchor the plywood, which they nailed every eight inches or so.  The plywood helps protect against sheering actions, helping to stiffen the pony wall.  Oh, and they added monster brackets to the top of the pony wall, so it was firmly anchored to the first floor. 

Matt, and the second workman Mike, were great.  Really nice people, hard, hard workers.  They were willing to answer all my questions, and even posed for a picture.  Matt offered me a lag bolt as a souvenir, but having spent the past week clearing out a basement of souvenirs, I politely declined.  Oh, and did I mention they did an incredible job of cleaning up after the end of work each day?  I don't think my basement has ever been so shiny!

Our newly reupholstered couch - Joe & Wormwood test it out.
So, Friday they finished and I wandered down into my basement and saw all these easily accessible concrete walls.  We've had some minor problems with seepage through the concrete during heavy rains, so a year or so ago I'd bought that special concrete paint that waterproofs the area.  Wouldn't this be a great time, thought me, to seal a few more areas before I put everything back where it belonged?  So I started painting. Oh, wait no - first I had to scrub the walls with a stiff brush and TSP to remove any loose particles and mold or mildew stains.  Half way through this project I came to the conclusion that I likely was certifiable.  But I persevered, as you can see in the above photo collage with its nifty before and after.  Did you know you can have the special concrete paint tinted, just like any other paint? 

While all of this was happening, our couch and side chair were also out being reupholstered.  We'd received the couch as a wedding present from my mother-in-law nineteen plus years ago and we love it.  It's soo comfy!  And fits our house perfect.  After all that time of loving abuse, the fabric had finally given up the ghost.  Last Christmas, my wonderful mother-in-law had offered to pay to have it reupholstered as combined Christmas/birthday presents, but I had to make the arrangements.  I'd let it slide, until mid-October when the fabric suddenly started splitting instead of just fraying and I remembered that we'd offered to host Thanksgiving. 

So now it's done too! 

This is all great, but what about beading, you ask?  I've been working on that too.  This month, I'll be participating in Jeannie Dukic's Echo Creative Club - with a reveal date of November 25th. 

And later today or tomorrow I'll be adding a number of items to my Etsy store - mostly holiday kits with a couple of extras.  Nothing like just in time, huh? 

Oh, and this weekend I'll be doing something fun, but I'll tell you more about that next week. 

Time for me to get back to my to do list - you don't even want to see my living room right now!  Stuff HAS to start going back down into the basement.  :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Lost Week and my Bead Fest Trip Report

What ever happened to those colds where you wake up one morning with a sore throat and a fever, spend the day lounging and sleeping in bed and wake up the next morning feeling right as rain? Of if it was a particularly bad cold, it might last two days? I want one of those the next time (hopefully two or three years from now) that I get sick!

 It's now been a little over a week and I'm finally starting to feel like I might be ready to rejoin the human race. Whatever I caught, this chest cold really knocked me on my pins. I hate, hate, hate cough syrup (did I mention I hate cough syrup?), yet I found myself taking it ever three hours like clockwork to keep my cough under control. Without it, I coughed until my vision would start to go black.  And it was hard enough to breathe when I wasn't coughing

I did consider that I maybe ought to go to the doctors, but that would have entailed either walking or taking a bus, both of which were beyond my abilities. And even if I did drive, the fear of having a coughing jag while behind the wheel would have kept me at home.

 In truth, I started to feel a bit better over the weekend. Just in time to help my husband move everything in our basement to get ready for the earthquake retrofitting which started yesterday. We live in Seattle in a 98 year old house that has never been properly pinned to its foundations.  Thought it was about time to fix that, and when I scheduled it back in August, it seemed like a full week to sort through the basement after Bead Fest would be more than enough time. Oh well....

To prepare, we had to move Everything away from the Entire perimeter of the basement. Made more difficult by the fact that A) it's a very small house, so there's not a lot of 'center' to be had and B) we've lived here twelve years. And then, of course there's the fact that neither Joe nor I could lift anything without running for the inhaler or cough bottle. Needless to say, it was an interesting weekend, and I got very little else accomplished beyond playing basement sherpa. Which is all to explain why it's taken me so long to write about what I really wanted to talk about - Bead Fest Texas!

Friends pitched in with last minute kit building

First I have to shout out a thanks to my friends who came over Tuesday night to help me with last minute kit preparation.  Despite weeks of advance prep, I was down to the wire.  My printer had been running non stop since the previous Friday (it's a little slow).  They packaged the last batch of needles, cut kit covers, folded instructions and helped me put all the various pieces into the appropriate kits.  Yeah!

Trial run in my hotel room

Then I had Wednesday to fit it all into two suitcases, with kits definitely taking precedence over clothes.  Since the kit making had gone until the last minute, I really didn't know what it all would look like 'on display' until Thursday night when I set it up in my hotel room, just to see. 

My table at the Meet the Teachers session

Friday morning I packed it all back up and dragged my larger suitcase over to the Expo Center for the Meet the Teachers session.  Here's a picture that I got one of the people visiting table to snap.  Believe it or not, people were actually there, but they parted like the Red Sea as soon as the camera came out.  Luckily, they came back just as soon as the picture was taken.  In the left corner of the picture you can see Joan Babcock.  She and her husband Jeff were both incredibly nice.   Jeff, especially was very willing to share tips and advice and he highly encouraged me to apply to teach at Bead and Button.  That is my dream for 2014 - we'll see.  Oh, and it turns out they also use CreateSpace to print their books. 

Mandi Ainsworth and Rolanda Patterson
Also got to meet several of the other teachers, including Rolanda Patterson, who taught the Steampunk Cogs class. Wish I'd gotten a picture of her standing up - I had to borrow this one off of Facebook so you could see a glimpse of her awesome costume.  Since she was teaching a steampunk inspired class, she came dressed for the part in a perfect Victorianesque ensemble that she'd made herself.

Mandi and I pose for a quick photo
And Rolanda introduced me to Mandi Ainsworth, another incredible bead artist and instructor as well as the editor of the Bead Circle Network.  Amongst other things, her blog has a series of podcast interviews, including Marcia DeCoster and Jean Campbell. 

Technically, the meet and greet was only supposed to run for an hour and a half, but somehow over four hours had passed by the time I made it back to my hotel room just across the way from the Expo Center.  Then it was time to prep and repack for my first class. 

Elizabeth Ward with the bead storage systems she designed

I didn't make it to check out the shopping until the next day.  My goals were to look for things that I couldn't easily find in Seattle.

First thing that caught my eye was Elizabeth's storage solutions.  Lots of little clear boxes all housed in easily portable trays with nicely locking lids.  Better yet, she was handing out samples of the little containers.  The lids seem very secure, but are easy to open - both huge wins.  The little indentations in the lids are to make it easy to pull them out of a full tray.

If I hadn't been traveling by plane, I would have picked up at least one tray.  But I was worried about fitting everything in on the return trip (my suitcase was right at the weight limit on the way out).  And it turns her storage trays are available through Fire Mountain Gems.  These are definitely going on my Christmas list!

Bead storage containers, Katie Holland's art bead, Cathy's bird charms
I'd purchased a really cool art bead from fellow instructor Katie Holland the previous day.  It's felted wool with her textured metal bead caps and a copper tube rivet.

Also picked up some fun silver bird charms made by Cathy Collison of Trinket Foundry.  They're cut from antique silver-plated tea trays.  I love how the designs from the tray turn into feathers and body contours for the birds. 

Cathy Collison and her glass rings

Cut and tumbled glass rings by Cathy Collision
Cathy is such a fun person and I love her work!  She makes these cool cut and tumbled glass rings which drew me into her booth with covetous glee. 

And then her stories made me want them even more!  I left her booth with a number of her rings and lots of stories.  The large greyed-green ring is from the bottom of a wine bottle.  It's convex on one side, and completely concave on the other.  The wide sky blue ring is from an antique electrical insulator - the type my grandmother used to collect.  And the gold ring she said she'd dusted with something she called 'fairie powder' before annealing it to give it a lovely oilslick finish up close. 

But my favorites, story wise are the red to orange rings.  Turns out she cut them from red glass votive candle holders.  Did you know that the longer red glass is exposed to heat, the darker it becomes?  Cathy says that's why red glass candle holders often seem to get lighter as you go towards the top.  I have an incredible soft spot for red glass as I inherited a collection of it from that same grandmother who collected electrical insulators.  We had a lot in common.  So I purchased a set of graduated rings and at some point I will make a piece specially for Lela.

Oh, and I used one of Cathy's rings to make my Owl Brooch from my previous post.  

My classes themselves were tiny.  Definitely need to keep working on getting my name out there.  But my students seemed to enjoy and I know I had a great time getting to know them and sharing the techniques.  One of my student regularly attends Bead and Button and takes numerous classes there each time.  So I asked her what she thought of my kits and handouts and she said they compared favorably to anything she'd received there.  She loved the detailed photographs and illustrations. So that made me very, very happy!

And I got a chance to meet and chat with Melinda Barta, the editor Beadwork magazine.  She is incredibly nice and personable.  We chatted a bit about copyright and I want to follow up with her on that.  I've had some concerns about having my designs published in a magazine and losing the copyright so that I could no longer teach or make kits for those designs without violating the copyright agreement.  Looks like that might not be an issue.  I need to follow up with her via email - another thing I haven't done due to illness. 

But there you have it, my trip report for Bead Fest Texas.   Any of you who have borne with me to this point definitely deserves a medal!