Studio Musings

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Going Bohemian

A few Bohemian Wrap bracelets by Kate Parsons
My favorite Sunday of the month is just past, and this time round the NW Seedbeaders Group took on Bohemian Wraps under Kate Parsons' excellent tutelage.  Starting with free instructions from the Fusion Beads website, Kate shared her own unique twists and experience with the technique, making this a surprisingly fast and fun beading project.

It's funny how the bracelet style burst onto the scene about six months ago.  I'm not used to noticing jewelry or beading trends, but this one definitely caught my attention.  Perhaps because they remind me of the twined friendship bracelets.  I used to make gobs of those to wear and share, back in high school and college.  With its twinned cord and knotted loop closure, these little darlings have that 'make and share' feel.  They're also a great way to show off your beads.

Closeup of a double wrap bracelet with hematite spheres and squares by Kate Parsons

These bracelets are rather difficult to photograph when looped into their bracelet shape if they're not actually on a wrist.  Speaking of wrists, I wish I'd gotten a good photo of the three-wrap bracelet Kate was wearing!  She'd used crystals ($30 worth!), shading from a brilliant turquoise to a rich chocolatey brown.  The result was both grounded and stunning, combining the flash and sparkle of the crystal with the more urban vibe of the cording to create a piece you could wear every day, also suitable for a night on the town. 

Kate Parson demonstrating the starting technique
Kate, using a clipboard to maintain tension
Shirley, going for extra credit
What did I make?  Just a wee little bracelet  with 4mm glass beads - enough to try out the technique and be sure I could finish it the same day.  Turns out, the smaller the beads you use for the center, the longer it takes, comparatively speaking (smack on the head - of course!)  I used waxed linen thread that I had from way long ago when I took a pine needle basketry course.  I chose to work with the lighter blue, but wonder what the same beads would look like with the darker navy cording.  Might just have to experiment and see. 

This would be a good technique to combine with tv watching. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ignore the Woman Behind the Curtain

I've been hiding out the past few weeks.  I'm in the middle of several larger projects and there isn't much to see right now, because they're mostly text & illustrations and it feels repetitive to write about the same things over and over.  Yep, I'm still working on my fish patterns - think I finally have a handle on them. 

That's a really good excuse, especially because it's true, yet the real reason I haven't written recently is fear.  Sounds crazy?  It's true, sad as it may sound.

I've had a lot of success in my artistic career in the past six or so months.  My work took first at the Uptown Art Stroll, a local art festival, in their 3D category.  I was invited to speak at the NW Bead Society's annual bazaar and won the people's choice for the Bello Modo challenge.  I wrote a guest post for The Book Designer on my experiences self-publishing Freeform Peyote Beading, and Cyndi over at The Beading Arts just did an amazing artist profile of my work.  I'm delighted to be teaching at Fusion Beads  here in Seattle (one of the best bead store in the country in my humble opinion), and have received word that I'll be teaching two of my classes at a national conference later this year (more on that later).  So things are looking brighter and brighter.  It's been an incredible journey and I am incredibly, incredibly grateful for my good fortune.

More and more often, however, I'm having to use all of my strength not to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head.  I have a terrible history of taking artistic u-turns right as things start going well.  Because a little voice inside me warns, "Just wait, sooner or later they're going to pull aside the curtain and see the woman pulling all the gears and levers and realize you're a great and shabby fraud".  This time around, I'm determined not to flee in panic, but it's hard.

I've tried ignoring this fear, shoving it under the rug and into the closet and just keep forging ahead, telling myself that it will get better if I keep on keeping on.  But it's insidious, and rears its head not as fear, but as fatigue, or artist block or ennui.  It dries up my words; more and more often over the past month and a half, I've sat down to write on my blog and the words wouldn't come; nothing was there that seemed worth putting to paper, or computer screen. 

So I decided to write a post about it.  Because I'm guessing I'm not the only one out here with issues revolving around success.  Especially when it's personal success.  My husband is extremely supportive, but I don't think he quite gets it.  As far as he's concerned, I rock (thank you Joe!).  Talking with my friends here locally, it seems to be something that plagues more of my female friends than the opposite sex.  Why?  That I haven't figured out.

I've decided I'll take a multi-step approach to diffusing my fears.  The first, I've been doing all along; I've continued working, even if it's just small things.  Haven't been writing about it, but I'm still stitching, drawing diagrams and mucking around with instructional text.  The second step is right here - sharing this with all of you.  The next step after that?  I'm working on that - we'll see what comes up. 

Actually, I think the next step is asking - have you experienced similar problems?  And how have you overcome or worked through them?  How do we learn to own our own successes?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Word Cloud

Word Cloud analyzes the text in your site or blog and comes up with a lovely design showing the frequency with which certain words are used.  I decided to try it out here.  I'm glad to see Beads is one of the major words.  We'll say it again a few times to improve its relevancy:  beads, beads, we love beads! 

It's rather fun seeing what words appear, although there are are obviously some I need to use a little less frequently.  Try it out for yourself

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Day I Went Insane

That was almost a year ago exactly, when I bought a Groupon for a two-hour trapeze class; the day I went insane.  Two days ago, I proved I hadn't yet recovered my sanity as I made the call to schedule the class.  And this afternoon, I rode the light rail down to the Emerald City Trapeze School.   

I can't remember the last time I was so nervous, but wicked excited too!  Signing the waiver I had to talk myself down from backing out.  Getting ready for this class was the reason I've kept going to the gym all year, even when I didn't want to. No way was I backing out now!

My first look at the net.  Oh my!
They started us out on the ground with a hanging bar we could reach with only a little jump, thank goodness. There we tried out our 'routine' for the first time.  We were supposed to wait for the call before doing each step.  Luckily we weren't being graded!  I'm so glad we got to try things out there first!

We had seven first-time flyers and three instructors for our class (max is 12 students).  It was a family of four, a mother/daughter duo, and me.  After the 'ground school' lesson each of the instructors took their posts: one climbed the ladder up to the platform, another grabbed the rope that would keep us from falling, and the third manned the ladder, getting us hooked up to the guy lines when it was our turn to go.

I have to climb that?
 Standing at the base of the ladder, the platform sure looked like it was a long ways up!  To make it easier, they did clip us into a guy line before we climbed.  Once I made it to the top, I still had to step around some tension lines, after which the spotter swapped out my single guideline for a pair, one on either side and brought the bar in 'close' so I could grab it.  Close being a relative word when you have your toes curled over the edge of the platform and you have to arch your body out into thin air to grab the bar with your right hand while holding onto a support with your left.

To be fair, the spotter had a very firm grip on my belt and was using her weight as a counterbalance, but it didn't feel safe.  I honestly did not think I could remove my left hand to reach for the bar.  Bless the spotter; when gentle encouragement didn't work, she shouted at me; that I could do it.  And what do you know - I did!

You want me to do what? 
The routine was supposed to go as follows (with instructions called from below reminding me of a bizarre square dance): Swing out, bring your legs up (meaning through the space between your arms and the bar, hitch your knees over the bar and point your toes.  Really.) Swing back.  Release your hands (and let your body fall back into air).  Swing.  Grab the bar again with your hands, release your knees, then kick yourself into a backflip dismount.

I did it!  I really did!
I ended up taking four separate runs at the routine.  The first time, I could NOT get my legs up, and I was shaking so hard with adrenaline afterwards, I didn't know if I could continue.  Luckily, the time it took for the others to go gave my body time to settle.  And the next time I did it; I swung from my knees high, high above the ground.  I may have been the most ungainly trapeze flyer ever, but hey:  I did it!

Everyone else got to do a transfer; I decided I'd better wait until next time.  Next time, you ask?  Yep, they offered a two-for-one deal.  If you signed up for another class before you left, you got a third free.  I've signed up; figure it will likely take that long before I'm ready to do a transfer. 

Next class is April 21.  That gives me a little over a month to work on my core strength, which is what it turns out I need.  My arm strength surprisingly was fine, but at this point I can only lift my right foot about 3 inches off the ground; my right front hip flexer is sooo tired.  Won't be surprised if I walk with an odd hitch in my gate tomorrow. But what a motivation to keep visiting the gym!

My brother, sister and their kids are all supposed to be coming to visit this summer.  Wonder what they'd think of a trapeze class as part of their vacation?  Kids as young as six are allowed, though you have to be twelve to do the transfer. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Time for School

These guys are surprisingly difficult to photograph, but here's my current school of Fancy Goldfish.  The one at top right was a Christmas gift for my husband, and he requested a single line of thread so he could hang it in his office, which is what you see trailing off to the side.  It's loosely based on a Japanese Fighting Fish.  But then I stole it back for photographs.  :)