Studio Musings

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More Freeform Peyote Rings - my new 'Spring Woods' Collection

Last week I shared a couple of Valentine's Rings I made in preparation for my weekend workshop on the topic at Fusion Beads.  This week, I thought I'd share the two rings I started in class. 

Going into the class, here's the one I'd originally planned:

Robin's Nest ring with three crystal 'eggs' by artist Karen Williams
Robin's Nest ring with three crystal 'eggs'

I wanted my own "Robin's Nest" ring, complete with crystal 'eggs'.  One of my students asked about incorporating bugles into a freeform peyote ring.  This was the perfect chance to use some 6mm bugles both in the base and while building the nest. 

an alternate view of the Robin's Nest ring by Karen Williams
you can almost see the bugles I used in the band from this view
The Robin's Nest was a great example of adding embellishments after building the bulk of the ring.  After I finished the base ring, I positioned the three eggs, then began building the nest around them.  (Not quite how mama Robin would have done things, but it worked for me).

Just starting to work on the 'nest'.  Freeform peyote ring by Karen Williams
Just starting to work on the 'nest'

Helping my students in class, I decided I also needed a sample where I added my focal bead in the first row/ring.  So I ran out into the store and purchased a 10mm round druzy that worked with the bead colors I had with me.  I'm really, really bad about taking process photos while I'm teaching, since my focus is on my students, not my work.  So I don't have a single process photo for this ring. 

Dogwood Blossom freeform peyote ring by Karen Williams
Dogwood Blossom pinky ring
You can't really tell that the focal beads is a druzy in the ring's final incarnation.  It's entire look changed when I decided at the last minute to try adding some pressed glass leaves as flower petals around the core.   The 'petals' reminded me of a dogwood blossom, so I decided to run with it.  But they wanted to flop closed, so I added some beading inside the and between the ring of petals to hold them open. 

The funny thing is this ring's band is one of my smallest - sized to fit my pinky - while the dogwood blossom makes it one of my largest rings. 

Spring Woods freeform peyote rings by Karen Williams
Both rings side-by-side for comparison
Here you can see both rings together for comparison.   I've decided they are my new Spring Woods collection, created using a soft, muted palette of warm browns, antique coppers and lilac, with splashes of sky blue and olive green that reminds me of the earliest days of spring. 

I also found myself thinking that both rings would be right at home in the Hundred Acre Wood. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Freeform Valentine Rings

Valentines charms by Nunn Design along with some bellflower pressed glass beads
Heart charms by Nunn Designs & pressed glass bellflowers
I'm typically not a huge fan of Valentine's Day - it tends to be way too pink and a little too sweet for me.  But this year, I decided to jump into the festivities with a couple of new freeform peyote rings.

It started with a trip to Fusion Beads to drop off class proposals for their summer session.  Since it was right before my Rings workshop, I decided to pick up a couple of new focals for new rings, and since it was almost Valentines Day, I decided, why not? 

Especially when I found these fun heart charms by Nunn Design.  The rustic, weathered look of the antiqued copper immediately made me start thinking of alternate "Valentine" color palettes.

Bead palette in purples & coppers - did not use all of the beads, and added some alternate beads in process.
My color palette focused on purples & copper instead of pinks & golds
Prickly Heart freeform peyote ring by Karen Wiliams
"Prickly Heart" ring
My Prickly Heart ring includes a jagged line of twin beads which reminded me of stitches mending broken hearts. It's my experience that even in the best relationships, there's bound to be some heartbreak - the key is to mend it as best you can.  Here 'the' scar has become something beautiful.  I also added a line of five of the new dragonscale beads, which reminded me of arrowheads from Cupid's quiver.  And I finished it off with Nunn Design's rustic heart charm

side view of Prickly Heart freeform peyote ring by Karen Wiliams
You can really see the 'arrow heads' in this view

Staring circle of beads with a stop bead
Staring circle of beads
I was having so much fun, I decided to make a second ring with the puffed heart charm.  With both rings, I started with a simple circle of beads, then built up my base using freeform peyote. 

The goal here was to create an interesting base that I could then embellish with the charms.  Both the charms and pressed glass flowers are thread magnets - so I prefer to add them at the very last moment.   With both rings, by the time I finish building the base, I ended up debating with myself whether or not I really wanted/needed to add the additional embellishments. 

Here's a photo I snapped of my second ring before I started embellishing, so you can see what I mean:

the color palette and 4mm fire-polished provide subtle texture
Be Mine Ring before I added embellishments

I really debated whether I wanted to stop here.  Except I was in a "more is more" mood, and I still had the puffed heart charm burning a hole in my bead mat, so I kept stitching. 

Be Mine freeform peyote ring by Karen Williams with three bellflower pressed glass beads and a puffed heart charm
Flowers and a Valentine
I added the puffy heart charm on a short tether, then decided to add a little bouquet to finish things off.  What says 'Be Mine' more than flowers and a Valentine? 

I've worn both rings several times in the past week, and everywhere I go people comment.  They are intrigued by the fact that you can make rings out of beads (of course we can!).  It seems to be a toss up as to which people like more.  The charms make the rings especially fun to wear.  Because they are both sewn on short tethers, they can flip and turn, and add a dynamic element.  Such fun!

Last week I sent out a 'sneak peek' to my friends on my mailing list, something I've not done before.  My thought was to send it out early enough to give people time to make their own V-Day rings, if they wanted, because I seldom think of lead time.   One of my bad habits. 

So there's my first ever Valentine's beading.  Really! In all the years I've beaded, I don't think I've ever made anything for Valentine's Day before. 

Do you bead for Valentine's Day?  What do you make?  

Happy Valentine's Day!  Hope you have a wonderful time this weekend, whatever you decide to do. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

AB+ Blood is NOT Useless!

While I first donated blood back in high school, my donation history is best described as 'sporadic'.  Largely because my blood type, AB+, simply wasn't much in demand.  Junior High biology let me know that while I could receive blood from all eight of the major blood types, I can only donate to other AB+.  Since we're one of the rarer blood types, there really didn't seem to be much need.

In one very memorable experience at a bloodmobile drive, the check-in lady turned me away because "my blood would likely go bad before it could be used" and they'd rather "reserve the limited time-slots for useful blood types".  Huh.  Okay, I can take a hint.  I certainly didn't mind the free pass to skip rolling up my sleeve for the good-Samaritan vampires. 

My sister's helpful text included this photo
Fast forward fifteen, maybe twenty years (boy does time fly!), and out of the blue I receive a photo text from my sister.  A regular platelet donor, she just happened to notice this picture while at the Red Cross.  Suddenly, my blood had value!

Grumbling about how she just destroyed my free pass (Thanks Sis!), I called my local blood bank.   Turns out that even though I knew my blood type, I had to give a regular, whole blood donation before I'd be eligible for anything else.  Watching the bag fill with dark red liquid, I found myself thinking of it as the 'throw away' donation - all those sad little red blood cells just going to waste!  But at least they'd be able to use the other parts, I reasoned. 

Then I got sick, got busy, went out of town, life got in the way and way too much time passed yet again.  Until two days ago, when I received an "APB for AB Plasma" (that's literally what they called it!)  Which is how I found myself tucked under a warm, fuzzy blanket yesterday afternoon with a heating pad on my arm watching my red blood cells take a quick field trip to the 'Apheresis Faire' (my name, not theirs).  After a quick spin on the merry-go-round of the centrifuge, they were herded back home, leaving behind a bright golden fluid slowly filling a sterile plastic bag. 

Hooked up to the machine without much to do, I decided to research my newly 'special' blood further.  Turns out that while we make up only 3-5% of the general population, AB positives make up an even smaller proportion of the donor population.  (Perhaps they had similar donation experiences to my own and decided 'why bother'?)

 Plasma is where AB+ really shines - our plasma can be given to all blood types.  Positive, negative; the Rh factor doesn't seem to matter.  Wow! 

We don't do too badly with platelet compatibility, either.  A+ and B+ can give to their own blood types, plus O+.  So A+ can give platelets to A+ and O+.  In comparison, AB platelets can be given to all blood types of the same Rh factor.  This means AB+ can give platelets to A+, B+, O+ as well as AB+. Combined those four blood types account for about 85% of the general population.  Not too shabby! 

This website gives a really good breakdown of the most useful types of blood donations based upon your blood type. 

So, it turns out that AB blood can shine!  We just have 'get' to spend a little more time with the friendly vampires in order to potentially make a difference.  As a first-time apheresis donor, I can say that it really wasn't bad.  It'll never be "Woo hoo, I get to go donate plasma today", but the staff was really nice and the donation was really nothing worse than a little uncomfortable.  Though it did feel quite odd when the blood cells were all pushing and shoving to get back home.  In hindsight, I mostly just feel a little bad that it took me so long to get started.  To make sure another year (or more) doesn't go by until I make it in again, I have another appointment already set for next month.  Yikes!

Guess it's truly never to late to start!  :-)