Studio Musings

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kettle's Overboiling, Soup's Definitely on....

Soups on!  Bead Soup that is, courtesy of our fabulous hostess, Lori Anderson who organizes the entire show, pairing beaders from around the world to see what they come up with.  Wondering just how big the Bead Soup party is?  Check out this map that Lori put together.  

My partner this time around is the wonderful Tracey Nanstad of A Beadiful Mess.  For a peak at the soup mix she sent, check out my earlier post

Her Lucky Robin Bluebird pendant really gave me the fits, trying to figure out what to do with it.  The bail was too prominent (and pretty) to remove, so I couldn't just bead bezel around it like a cabochon.  But it was too narrow to fit any of the various beaded ropes I came up with.

So I finally broke down and pulled out my favorite book on wirework and sat down with my wire-snips and pliers.

While my wireworking is fairly simple, I don't do it often.  It's outside of my comfort zone, which is supposed to be part and parcel of this challenge.  Yeah.   I had fun figuring out how to wire the flower beads onto the metal knots.

I used Tracey's pendant, clasp and silver circles.  Searching through my stash for coordinating beads, I came across the pressed blue beads, leftovers from Kalmbach's bead soup party last fall.  The red beads are garnets - I started to worry that I wouldn't have enough because less than half of them fit onto my wire. 

While I wrestled with what to do with the Robin Bluebird pendant, I noticed that the stone cabochon Tracey sent was perfectly shaped for a fish body.   If you've been following my blog at all lately, you know I'm working with a fish theme this year.

I thought about making a grand daddy of a Fancy Fish.  Instead, I decided to draw a cartoony-style fish with beads.  As I worked, it occurred to me that the way I planned for it to hang, people would only ever see one side of the fish at a time.  So I decided to create a split personality fish, with a different look on either side.  So it's like having two pendants in one.  I made sure that the necklace worked worn either direction as well. 

What started out as a way to pass the time while I waited for inspiration to strike took on a life of it's own:

"Fresh Catch of the Day" beaded necklace by Karen Williams
"Fresh Catch of the Day"

"Fresh Catch of the Day" beaded necklace by Karen Williams - second face

The fish hangs from a felted, beaded bead 'float' that I made.  For the supporting necklace, I wanted to carry on the ocean theme, without becoming too busy, especially since the necklace is quite long.  I stitched a couple of my standard fish bodies, but decided not to add any other identifying details other than a little bead fringe to hint at tails.  For the clasp, I used one of Tracey's textured copper discs, then made a 'fish hook' closure. 

While figuring out the components for my Fresh Catch of the Day, I also stitched a couple of beaded beads and used brick stitch to create several medallions.

By skipping every other bead when adding the fire-polished beads around the outer edge, I came up with a design that reminded me of a ship's helm wheel.   But they never did quite fit into the design.  I turned two of them into a pair of earrings for now.  All three are likely to get used in something else in the future.

So that's what I came up with working from Tracey's Bead Soup.  Now it's time to see what Tracey made with mine.  And to check out what everyone else has made as well.

Lori has a complete list of participants on her blog.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Focus on Life - Aged Beauty

Aged Beauty: this week's Focus on Life theme.

Much of our furniture falls into that category; 'passed-downs' from my husband's side of the family.  Most have stories that go along with them.  For instance, his grandfather was born in the four poster bed in our guest room.  It was a rope bed with a feather mattress back then.  When we inherited it, we replaced the mattress, I promise!

Then there's our Vita-Nola.  Not a Victrola, but along the same lines.  My husband's great uncle purchased it back around 1917.  In time, the phonograph passed from her uncle, to my husband's grandmother, Lela.  Many years ago, she passed it on to us, confiding that she learned to dance listening to records on this phonograph.  She passed away several years ago, but I can imagine her, dancing along to the big band music.

The records are clay, not vinyl. The entire needle-head mechanism tilts back when not in use.  Since it's not electric, we could listen to 1920s big band music by candle-light when the power goes out in a storm.

Researching it on line, I came across this period advertisement. I love it: "mistress of every mood - a solace, and a joy".  Music truly is both, and so much more.

Speaking of aged beauties, next year will be our home's 100th birthday.  It's a little Craftsman's cottage and I hope to celebrate its centennial with a 1920s style garden party.  Can't you just imagine our trusty Vitanola providing the music for such a bash? 

So there's my story for this week.  It's probably the least artistic of the photos from this series - I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's contributions.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Focus on Life - Up Close and Personal

China Rockfish - his pectoral fin remind me of fingers!
This week Sally has challenged us to explore the details of the ordinary up close with macro photography.  Since I seem to be on a fish kick, I thought I'd share a few closeups of some of my favorite friends from the local aquarium. 

I took a number of shots trying to catch the movement of this China Rockfish's pectoral fins.  Rather than a solid fin, it's composed of individual streamers that seem to fan somewhat independently, in waves of motion.  

Spiny Lumpsucker
This little guy is only about two and a half inches long.  Isn't he cool?  There are so many interesting things about him - all the little spikes, how fast his fins fan (you can't even see his pectoral fins in this shot, they're moving so fast - like a hummingbird's wings), his bright blue eyes.    Then there's his name - Spiny Lumpsucker!  So named because he also has a suction cup on his belly for attaching himself to reef rocks.

Another rockfish
This shot is straight out of the camera - the slight graininess is from pushing my macro to the limits to catch this guy.  He's yet another species of Rockfish, but I think he looks like a dragon. 

Thanks again Sally for this week's prompt.  To see what others decided to study up close and personal, take a gander over at The Studio Sublime and Week 14 of Sally Rusic's Focus on Life photography series.