Studio Musings

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Perfect Summer Day - Playing Tourist in Seattle

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in the Seattle Pride Parade
Yesterday couldn't have been more picture perfect - cobalt blue skies and 75 degrees.  With that in mind, I decided to head down to the Pride Parade. 

The atmosphere was wonderful, everyone so happy and excited.  The news from New York adding measurably to the excitement of the parade.  Gives me hope that I'll one day be able to attend my friends' weddings just as they attended mine. 

Microsoft's "float" in the Pride parade
I stayed for about an hour of the three hour parade - I was quite a ways back in the crowd and took these pictures by holding my camera well above my head.  I was impressed by the number of corporations had entries - Starbucks, Amazon, Exedia, and Microsoft. 

And then I wandered on, walking through downtown heading towards the stadiums and my studio to pick up some supplies.  I found the area hopping with Sounders' fans - a live marching band and tents hawking everything from kettle corn and hot dogs to grilled salmon gave the area a festive, carnival like atmosphere. 

Wandering through the crowds

And I discovered I'd dressed appropriately to match the fans! The green of my shirt and bag matched the Sounder's green almost perfectly.  Too funny!  (The green tshirt behind me in the pic was not the true Sounders color, which is more chartreuse).

Next up - a quick jaunt back through downtown to Pike's Place Market to pick up some fresh fruit - the peaches are melt-in-your-mouth ripe and the Rainier cherries are in season - it's been a late year for cherries here in Washington. 

And then on to the Seattle Center.  Stopped for a limonata while watching the fountain dance and listening to yet another live band - rock this time.   Oh, and that's a rainbow flag on top of the Space Needle!

Carved ox bone charms at the gem & jewelry show
Then back to the Gem and Jewelry show to do some buying.  Then back home.  Reading a book and people watching while wating for the bus.  Traveling entirely by foot and bus, I made it home less than five hours after I left.  I love playing tourist in Seattle!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Play Dates at the Studio

Pouring concrete cabs - don't look like much at this stage, do they?
I've been playing around with ideas for summer classes for weeks now.  (Yes, I'm slow!) The problem: I wanted something lighter and more playful than a standard workshop lineup.  So I came up with the idea of a series of evening 'play dates' in the studio, each with it's own theme, but that build on eachother into something bigger.

For a while now I've been meaning to make some new focals for my beadwork using concrete and resin.  And I decided that would be my theme.

First up - Concrete Cabs on Thursday, June 30th.  We're talking small batches of concrete, mixed in clear plastic drinking cups with all sorts of interesting inclusions possible.  If you keep the mix fairly dry, you don't need to build walls to contain it.  Blue painters' tape holds my focal items in place and with a little luck prevents concrete from sneaking underneath.  You can also draw guides on the tape.  

Concrete tinted with procion dyes
I tinted the concrete with old procion dye mixtures - two different blacks, navy, scarlet, golden yellow, fuchsia and turquoise.  The colors look rather pastel when grouped as they are at right.  That's okay - its rather like adding gesso to a canvas, simply a base layer of color from which to work. 

Potential concrete focals, some with resin topcoat
Follow-up and Resin, Thursday July 7th.
The following Thursday, we'll be finishing up the concrete work - sanding, adding additional color with acrylics and rub n buff, and playing with resin.

If you attended the earlier session, resin can be used to 'butter' the concrete to deepen and enrich the colors, add a sense of depth and impart a high gloss finish.

Resin cab with embedded design
Or you can use resin by itself, embedding beads and other found objects or painted papers and drawings to create unique focals, like the cabochon featured at right.  I used the cab in my December Art Bead Scene challenge piece, Hunting Fae

Bead Rings - Tuesday, July 12
These fun bead rings (see more here) are quick to make, fun to wear, and a great introduction to right angle weave.  They are also great practise before setting out to capture a cabochon with right angle weave, since they use many of the same techniques.

Fair warning though - they are addictive to make and all your friends will want one!

Play Date Times
The three above are all evenings, starting at 7:00pm and running until 9:00pm or until I run out of steam, whichever is later at my studio just south of downtown Seattle. 

Focal - concrete cabochon with resin
Capturing Cabochons, Sunday August 7th
This is going to take longer than an evening, so carefully scheduling around Mariners' games and Sounders' games and concerts at Qwest field (the tricky part of neighboring two stadiums), I set the date for the first Sunday in August.

Bring your own cabochon, or cabochon shaped object, (or purchase one of mine) and I'll show you how to capture it with a mixture of right angle weave and peyote.  This will be an all day workshop. 

The evening play dates will be free, though donations are welcome to help cover materials costs.  And I'll be updating my website in the next day or so with this information and supply lists and such.  I will be charging for the capturing the cabochon class - just haven't quite figured out what yet.  Pricing is always so difficult!

June 23 update:  I  have now updated the calendar at and added separate class pages for each of the above.   Phew!  I forget just how much work that is.  I'll be adding more pics in the next couple of days, but I'm done for today. 

So, if you happen to be in the area and would like to stop by, drop me a line!  I'll send you the addy, directions and supply lists.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Early Adopters - QR codes and

Bored now - unless it's dinnertime

Wow, three blog posts in one week!  That has to be a record for me - especially considering my struggle to manage even three per month lately.  Is it empty house syndrome?  With Joe away, I'm by myself all day getting work done, and by myself when I come home.  Blogging is definitely better than turning into that little old lady who talks to herself (I already talk to my cat). 

Perhaps it's delayed reaction from our wonderful vacation.  I like that idea!  Bet you didn't know the rejuvenating effects of a vacation can be delayed up to a month after your return?  Or maybe its simply that the dust is finally settling from a busy spring season of finding new tenants for our apartments and getting them happily settled into their new homes.  Whatever it is, my current post is in response to a newsletter email I received from Moo.  Normally I just glance at them, but this time it caught my attention.

QR codes at the Queen Anne Farmer's Market!
So, QR codes - they're those odd little squares that are showing up everywhere.  Every time we visit El Diablo, our favorite coffee shop, my dear husband 'checks us in' to Facebook using their QR code.  Even came across one at the local Farmers' Market!

Now Moo is recommending that QR codes be used to help with individual branding - helping direct people to your website or blog.  And touting their partnership with a new website/service called

My site on wants to help me collate all of my online profiles - Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. into a personal landing page that I can customize.  So I asked myself, do I need another page?  Hmmm.....

Sample cards from

It seems low maintenance - more of a business card than a blog.  And hey,  when I checked it out, I could actually get my name Karen Williams as my URL.   That alone sold me!  Yeah for early adoption - those of you with common last names will know and share my pain.

So now I am the proud? owner of yet another web page.  The background image is stock, but I liked it for now.

And back to that QR code thingamagiggy - has an offer for a set of free Moo business cards (I pay shipping), with my webpage and my own QR code directing people to my new landing page.  And  QRStuff will make a QR code for you based upon your input.

So - out of curiosity - how many of you
a) have your own QR codes already (and if you do - how are you using it) and
b) would actually use your smart phone to check out where the QR code led if you were handed a business card that featured one?
c) As a bonus question - how many of you actually tweet or follow people on Twitter?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy, Happy, Happy Day

I made it into the studio today!  Last night, I told a friend I was bound and determined that today would be the day.  Curious, she asked what I had planned.  The truth was, I didn't really know; my only true plan was to walk through the door.  Just snatching the time to do that has been difficult enough this spring.  Whatever I did once there would be gray.

The way things have been going.  Just showing up would be enough.

But as it turns out, I did end up doing a bit of something.  Decided it needed to be a play day, so I spent it making a bunch of little rings.  And since it's Bead Table Wednesday, I thought I'd share a shot of my table, just as I finished up my fifth (and last) ring of the day.

Like the brightly colored little cup bowls?  I picked them up as Safeway earlier this week.  They had them on sale as part of their 'picnic ware'.  Also bought a platter that I can use as a beading table when on the go and some smaller square plates (you can see the little plates in my first picture).  Gotta love the season!  Picnicware is perfect for the studio - durable and brightly colored.

And here's a closeup of my new rings, with a bead tube as a handy ring display.  So, nothing big, nothing fancy.  But sometimes it's enough just to play.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Recent Work

It's been a long dry spell, creatively speaking. Or at least that's the way it's felt. But looking around, I realize that even though I've had almost no studio time in the past couple months. I have managed to finish more than I realized. Here's a look at a few of my recently finished projects:

I finally finished this bracelet, though it doesn't have a name yet.  Considered Spring's Promise, but I wonder if that sounds too corny? 
Here's another view, though the color's a little off.  Guess I need to take more pictures. 
These are my Easter beads, so called because they remind me of brightly colored Easter eggs.  I also call them my Lady beads - all dressed up in corsets and stays, since I do most of the beading flat, then cinch it tight around the central wooden bead.
And here are two random right angle weave bracelets.  Each creating a decidedly different effect based upon the color choices, though the stitch is effectively the same.

So that's much of what I've been up to, beading wise.  And best yet, there's light at the end of the tunnel!  While I did not make it to the studio today, I am determined to at least put an appearance tomorrow.

And I have some fun ideas rattling around in my head for summer.  Need to pull out my calendar and take a look at dates and give it a little more thought.  My darling husband is away this week at summer camp for geeks, which has me pining for an artsy summer camp.  Since another trip is not in my budget....