Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CC7A :: Tutti Fruiti

Today's CC7A hop is hosted by Therese Frank. Her challenge to all of us was to use the colors from this mutli-colored, tutti-frutti bloom. I think I might have mentioned this in my last post that I'm Mardi Gras challenged. Using lots of colors is a struggle for me. My mind likes uniformed patterns, so when someone throws in a bunch of colors it goes a bit haywire. 

Throwing caution to the wind I decided to use a pile of beads in a multitude of color. I dumped out what remained of my bicone crystals and used them all. Yes, every last one of them in a random order. 

I knew that I didn't have enough for a full bracelet, but I had something in mind. Originally I was going to finished off each end with a simple peyote band, but it created too much elegance. Strange I know, but it really wasn't what I was going for. I  really wanted something that was everyday wearable with a bit of fun bling. My friend Therese loves a bit of boho, biker bling ... and so I let it inspire this design.

I ripped out what I had, and instead took a strip from an old pair of jeans. I cut out a window box to nestle a sort of stained glass look inside. I stitched the outer edges of the beadwork right into the cut out window box. That first picture is capturing the light coming through the center. 

This cuff slips on like an old pair of jeans. It snaps in the back and feels so comfortable. I asked the Bead Girl to help out by wearing this around for a week or two to fray out the sides. She did a fantastic job with her part, although not exactly what I was expecting. I did see her wearing it for a few days, but when I asked for her to go grab it so I could snap a few pictures she could not find it anywhere. To the point of shouting through the tears, "I put it right here! I don't know what happened?" Fast forward an hour later and her room sifted .... I discovered it in the bottom of her bed. Sigh. 

Please make sure to check out all the other artists this month: Therese (this month's host), Alicia, Christine, Monique, Sally and Emma.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Playing Hooky with the Bead Girl

Bead Girl's picture of a door at Clinton Castle
Native American Pin
Last Friday my daughter had an optional field trip. Their school does an annual trip to view a surgery. This year was a bypass, in previous years it's been open heart. She was dreading it, and the school allows for kids who just can't take it to opt out. 

Seems a strange field trip, but the district here feels like it encourages those kids that can see themselves in the sciences, or those that might go into medicine. But for those of us that can't take the sight of our own blood (that would be me) ... the kids can opt out.

Bead Girl's picture of museum sky light
And so, the Bead Girl and I played hooky last Friday. I took the day off to run around NYC with her. We managed to get in quite a bit of the city including a trip down to Battery Park for a peek at the Statue of Liberty and a look around Clinton Castle (the battery itself). 

Native American Water Jug
Then afterwards we walked across the green there to the National Museum of the American Indian, which had free admission. I love this type of exhibit. I have seen many in multiple countries. But I will tell you that only one rivals this exhibit and that is the one in Vancouver, BC at The Museum of Anthropology. If you are ever in the area it is a must see.

The National Museum here in NYC was amazing, and completely unexpected. They had exhibits from Indian culture from all over the Americans and down into Central and South America. While not as large as the exhibit in BC, it is packed with beautiful things to see. 

Chibi polymer figures by Bead Girl
From there, we headed uptown to check out other landmarks she had never seen. I know we live close to NY, but we really don't bring the girls into the city much. And even then we usually have an engagement to meet up with someone so we don't sightsee. This trip was to tick off a few places she'd always wanted to see. We stopped into the Empire State building and then on to the Chrysler building. Not to mention Grand Central Station and the Graybar building next door. 

Cake, carrot and peas in polymer by Bead Girl
Our last stop was a store that she'd been talking about for months called Kinokuniya which is a bookstore full of all things Japanese. She's very in to anime whether it is drawing, painting or creating the little figures. She's practiced this miniature polymer art over past year. So she wanted to explore the store for new ideas. We spent 2+ hours there. Yes, 2+ hours. I can honestly say I was more than ready to leave when she said she thought she was 'done.' It was a fantastic day. And I loved every minute of spending a little one-on-one time with daughter. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Look Up New York

Gorgeous building awning @ 5th Ave and 34th Street
Awning at 5th Ave and 40th Street
I've been having fun this past week playing with Instagram. I've had an account for, I don't know, 2 years? Probably. But have not posted a single picture. Yep. Not one. 

Then for some reason this week I decided I needed to get in there. Can't tell you exactly why, but this seems to be the week that I burst on to the scene of Instagram. Yeah, I'm a big trend setter. 
Doorway on just another side street in NYC

So why now? I stumbled across some Instagram photos that really caught my eye, and I realized that there are a lot of things that I see each day that I've grown used to and, to me, seem mundane. But may not to other people. So why not share? 

I walk to work each morning, and try to switch it up with varying routes. I duck down a street to see if I can discover some new hidden bit of architecture to admire. There are so many amazing buildings in NY that just go unnoticed. At least to the average tourism guide. 
Lord & Talyor window box
So much of the cool stuff is 'up.'  Literally. As a typical NY'er hustling off to work, your focus tends to be straight ahead, down to avoid stepping is some random piece-o-crap or up at the light to see if you need to run to cross at the next corner. That sums up walking to work.

I've decided to snap pics on the way to work. I'm still figuring out Instagram. Yes I know I'm late to the party, but I'm a quick study. It seems to be less connected than other social media, so I'm sticking to posting photos snapped on my iPhone. I guess that will limit my gallery to 'on the go' types of pics. Thus the current tour of the streets of NYC. Love to link up with you all who are already on Instagram. I've been trying to click around to find you all, but click here and link up with me! I'd love that.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

One More for Mother's Day

I've been posting a lot of leather bracelets lately, and I thought I would show you one more. This one is no longer in my stash as I gave this one away as a gift to a friend. A new mom who recently had a sweet baby girl. I asked her to help me design a "Mom Gift" for herself. I know, a bit unorthodox. I brought in a box of options to the office and we played with colors and designs. In the end she went with a simple sort of black and white look with black leather and silver. It looks amazing on her. I love how excited people get when they realize that they are creating a piece of jewelry for themselves.

My girls in Savannah at one of the many squares
Summer in the Adirondacks at age 8 and 4
There is always so much excitement around newborns. Rightfully so, but sometimes we forget about the mother or the sibling. Having had two daughters of mine own, I know it takes a bit of time to feel like yourself again. That's why I usually give gifts to the mother. Something special that's just for her.

It took me a bit of time to feel like myself again after each of my daughters were born. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being a mother. It is one of the best things in my life, which is probably why it all seems to have gone by so quickly. I feel like my two daughters went from grade school to high school in no time flat. And now my oldest is just a year away from college. Seems like just yesterday that she was so little. I love the person that she has become, but it will be such an adjustment for me when she's off to college. I guess that is what is on my mind lately.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bracelets :: The Collection

Lately, I have been mixing and matching all sorts of leather, beads and findings to create bracelets. Over the last year I've been hoarding, well collecting all shapes and sizes of leather along with fun focals and closures.  As you can see, the stack of bracelets is growing.

If you've visited me lately you will have already seen a few of these posted. There was the Game of Thrones hop hosted by Heather of Humblebeads where I created a Daenerys Targaryen dragon head bracelet. There was also a hop to celebrate Alenka's birthday who has a love of butterflies, so I did one in honor of her.Then there was the one from last week where I was trying to solve for keeping a gorgeous lampwork bead (by Lea Avroch) from sliding all over the place. 

But there has been more. Much more as you can see. This stack represents the ones that are finished. There are actually quite a few more in various stages of 'doneness.'  Then there are the bits and pieces mapped out on the bead table waiting their turn to make it to the mat (the bead mat of course).

I really have been loving this braided leather. It is soft and easy to work with, and well looks a bit Medieval which of course is right up my alley. This particular one with blond leather, a copper twist focal and strong copper closure was designed by the Bead Girl. She loves to paint while I bead or glue away. But the last time I had a whole mess (yes I mean mess) of leather and findings spread out across the table she grabbed this combo and ask "what about this Mom?" Yes, yes I believe that will work is the only answer for that.

The vast majority of my materials I've picked up from my friend Melinda Orr. She always brings an enormous, movable stash (on wheels) with her to Bead Fest. And Linda Younkman and I will sit literally for hours oooh-ing and aw-ing through our discoveries. She always sends us off with things to try. Which leads me to my growing love of leather. I'm sure you've all noticed it cropping up in my designs over the last year or so, and I have Melinda to thank for my obsession! I blame her entirely.

Now that the weather is warming up, and the sun is finally here, I've been able to get a few decent pictures. I have most of these listed over on my Etsy, so I can make room for new additions to my growing collection of these babies.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Leather and Lampworks

I've been playing around with this bracelet for awhile now. Originally I had just the leather and the beautiful lampwork bead (made by Lea Avroch) in this bracelet.

Man I love this bead. I bid for it in an auction a while back and was out bid (argh!). But then Rita over at Toltec Jewels surprised me with it as a gift! That sneaky girl. 

I hoarded it for more than a year. (Hanging head). Yes it is true. I just couldn't part with it, and I wanted to find the right way to showcase it. It is a large hole bead and I didn't want it to flop around like a class ring on a string. I love the way this blue leather sets off the center of the pattern.

But it just needed more. Because while the the leather is the right width (with two pieces of cord) it still slides back and forth. I decided I was going to have to break out some seed beads. But I didn't want them to compete with the main attraction. I went very neutral with a pale, silvery grey. I did a quick peyote loop that I made just a tad over sized. I had something in mind. I wanted to lock them in place as a way to 'bumper' the lampwork, and stop it from sliding all over the place. I put in just a few stitches in the center and the whole thing locked just as I thought it might. Oh I love when things work. And bonus! Lea's bead stop shifting about. It actually stays put in the center now. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

CC7A :: Easter at Downton Abbey

The theme this year is not based on swapping beads, but instead based on sharing colors. For each month one of us has suggested a color pallet to inspire the group. Our first color challenge for this year's CC7A (the Creative Continuum of 7 Artists) is brought to you by our host Alicia of All The Pretty Things

Alicia decided to kick it off with some bright Easter colors. I think I might be a bit 'Mardi Gras' challenged. I just don't seem to be able to work with color pallets beyond 2, maybe 3 colors. So I zeroed in on 2 'fruity' colors from the pallet Alicia sent and went with watermelon and papaya. I just happened to have one more rose quartz doughnut left from the set I bought from last month's CC7A post (my watermelon color). And then I picked a warm, brassy-orange filigree to compliment my piece (my papaya color). The design has a lean toward the era of Downton Abby. If any remember my piece from last year inspired by Alicia, then you'll remember that I also picked this period (and Downton) to reflect my design for Alicia's month. Which I personally think is perfect since both she, and I are huge fans of the show.

I wanted to create something that any of the Downton ladies might wear to Easter dinner. They all wear dresses with long, elegant styles, and they often dress for dinner with some gorgeous necklace that 'lady's maids' have to fasten into place. I can't even imagine needing to 'dress' for dinner when I find it bothersome to deal with dressing for work let alone dinner. I'd rather slip into my jammies when I get home; not into an evening gown! 

Now I can't wait to click over to my fellow CC7A team to see what everyone else created with their Easter egg inspiration: Alicia (our host), Christine, Monique, Therese, Sally and Emma.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bucket List :: Savannah

I have an extensive bucket list of places I want to see. I realize the title of my blog is kind of a give away to my love of travel, so it should come as no surprise that I have a list. I have two lists actually, and they are over on Pinterest. The first one is for the places I want to see, and a second for the places I've been. I guess we all have our silly collections, mine just don't tend to be 'things' (unless we're talking about beads) usually they are experiences.

I have been to several of the places on my Blog Header; London (Big Ben), New York (Statue of Liberty), Seattle (Space Needle), Paris (Eiffel Tower), New Delhi India (Gandhi Museum), Hilo Hawaii (King Kamehameha), San Francisco (Transamerica Pyramid and Rodin's The Thinker). Some of you who have seen The Thinker might say, "that's not where that statue is." And you'd be right, and wrong at the same time. Apparently several casts were made, and so this statue actually sits in the courtyard of about 9 museums in the US, and another 8 outside the US. So for me, I saw Rodin's sculpture in San Francisco's Legion of Honor. And while that sounds like a lot of statues, there are almost 50 of Mahatma Gandhi around the world. As for my Shiva, this is a statue that sits on my book shelf that I brought back from a little town in the foothills of the Himalayas. You can read more about it here.

So back to the list. I can now tick off one more place I've been that is on both my bucket list and travel icons for my blog header: Savannah. I read a book years ago called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which intrigued me enough to make my bucket list of places I wanted to see. On the cover is a popular statue, Bird Girl, in an old cemetery just outside of Savannah called Bonaventure. The statue was originally made in 1936 using an 8-year-old girl as the model, and was meant to be a bird feeder. Four statues were cast from the original, which ended up in four states with one purchased by a family in Savannah who put it in the family plot in Bonaventure. The statue has since been moved to a local museum due to its popularity from the book. I am not one for visiting graveyards, but this one was intriguing. It is on 100 acres with lanes of trees crisscrossing through the cemetery and framing up the statuary. It is a worth the trip for any photographer.

We enjoyed our week in Savannah, and nearby Hilton Head. While there is a lot of history in this little town, we honestly just enjoyed the endless places to walk, or hike around. The streets are tree-lined and full of Spanish moss hanging down. The main park, Forsyth Park, is gorgeous with a cast iron fountain in the center. We met a local man who was out walking his dog who showed us a picture on his phone from 4 weeks ago when they have a quick drop in temp and the fountain completely froze over. They can't turn the water off as the cast iron would crack so the fountain froze with the water looking as though it stopped just shy of bubbling over. We spent one morning down along the old river walk and found a local favorite for pralines called River Street Sweets. I don't think I've ever had one before, and boy are they good.

The neighborhoods are full of Georgian style houses that are gorgeous to check out. And in one little neighborhood we found our favorite restaurant, The Crystal Beer Parlor, which is an old speakeasy. You wouldn't know from the outside that it was a large pub on the inside, but I suppose that was the point. Our second favorite restaurant we found out on Hilton Head called Scott's Fish Market, which had delicious fresh seafood. I think if I tallied the rest of the family The Distillery would come in third.

Savannah seems to have it all. There are also some wonderful beaches. In the city you can head to Tybee Island which is about a 20 minute drive. The beach has a long boardwalk out over the water (which is how I took this picture from this angle). Or for a bit more upscale experience try Hilton Head which is about a 40 minute drive. The sand is soft and there is an abundance of shells for those who love a little shelling. We brought home several bags, so I'm hoping to do a little beading with some of those. Finally, I think my personal favorite was a walk around Pinckney Island just off Hilton Head which is a wildlife refuge. There were marshes in every direction full of tiny mud crabs, local oysters and muscles. But even more amazing were all the birds. I lost count on how many types there were. There was a gorgeous great blue herring just standing there looking at us. Unfortunately (for me) the picture is on my husband's camera, so I'll have to come back later to show you all that one. But I'll leave you with a quick video of bird chatter we heard out on the island. Blogger wouldn't load this one, so just click over to my Facebook page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review :: Wire Weaving

I recently wrote a book review on Lisa Lynn Barth's new Timeless Wire Weaving in the most recent issue of Bead Chat Magazine (page 120). I had been noticing her work on Facebook quite a bit over the last few months. The patterns had me in awe of the way she can wire weave around all kinds of rocks and stones, or into a piece of leather. 

Every time one of her pieces posted over on Facebook I would stop and study it. I decided I really had to try this technique, and I decided that one of the best ways to review her new book was to test the instruction on myself.

I ordered her book, and went through it front to back several times over the course of the next week. And by the following weekend I was ready to give this a try. I picked one of my favorite patterns in the book, and a rock gifted to me from Christine (who found this one on the shores of Lake Michigan) and then began my project. 

Of course it took me a bit to get this started, and I did have a few places where I had to back up and rework things. It took about 3 hours, which I'm sure is much longer than it is supposed to take. But what was amazing (at least to me) was that this example here is truly my first time ever trying this technique. Lisa's instructions were so clear that you really can use this book to teach yourself. 

Lisa regularly teaches classes, and you can see that in the way she's written this book. She is the kind of teacher you hope for when you sign up for classes. She is thoughtful, and attentive and you walk away feeling like you've really mastered a new technique. A wonderful thing to find in a teacher. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Birthday Alenka

Today we are celebrating Alenka's birthday with a butterfly-inspired hop. She loves these beautiful little creatures that she calls METULJI!  

I do love the amazing colors these little guys can come in, along with lots of other small creatures in our world. For a bit of fun eye candy, check out my pinterest board for some inspiration.

Alenka is an amazing polymer artist who creates beautiful beads, cabachons and even something called 'inchies' out of polymer clay. She has such an eye for color, and I simply love her heavy use of vivid spring colors like yellows, oranges and sprout green. If you haven't seen some of her other work then check out the interview I wrote on Alenka a year ago right about this time in our March/ April issue of Bead Chat Magazine (Pages 86-89). Just look at those sweet flower earrings she made! And one of my all-time favorite pieces ever ... the zipper heart. Her creativity knows no limits.

Ok, so on with the hop. I confess that I love looking at butterflies out in the yard, on a hike or up at our cabin in the Adirondacks. We always get a large variety of admirals, and several with vivid reds and oranges. But when it comes to jewelry I don't usually use butterfly shapes. But I knew this hop was coming up, so I purchased a beautiful silver piece that slips on to a licorice leather band. So I created a simple, rustic bracelet for the hop.

Be sure to check out everyone else celebrating Alenka's special day: Alenka (our host), Monique, Beti, Kathy, Kepi, Christine, Amy, Dini, Alicia, Sheila, Therese, Rebecca, Rachel, Liz, Ana, Jasvanti, Carolyn and Nan. That makes 19 of us (including me) ... happy hopping!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Game of Thrones :: Hop with Humblebeads

When I saw that Heather over at Humblebeads was hosting a Game of Thrones hop, I was in. In fact she had me at hello on this one. 

What more can I say? It's a crazy show full of amazing costumes from another era, drama weaving across the kingdoms and plenty of plot twists. I didn't find out about the show until several seasons in. Well it isn't that I hadn't heard about it, I just hadn't watched it. But then my husband had read all the books and said 'you know, you might like this series.'  We watched one show, then two, followed by several more. It turned into a binge watching marathon until we had ran out of episodes. I've been hooked ever since. There are some real bad-ass characters in this show, and of my favorites is Danny, or Daenerys Targaryen. I'll spare you all some of the more gruesome scenes, but this innocent looking girl turns out to be anything but...
I decided to use Danny as my inspiration and went in search of some her costume designs. She wears some dramatic styles. But here's the weird thing ... I was pretty set on making a pair of earrings, and I was pretty sure I'd find some of the characters wearing earrings. But as I scrolled through page, after page in my google search I could not find a one? hmmmm. I decided instead to make a bracelet. And as I looked through Danny's costumes I realized she was a great choice as she does wear quite a lot of arm gear whether it is at the wrist or the upper arm. 

She also happens to be the mother of dragons. I suppose that would sound strange if you're not a fan, but makes for a clear theme when designing with her in mind. I decided to go with a braided, black leather for the band and used a a dragon-scale, hooked closure. I added some rough cut rubies for the eyes because those babies need to glow, for sure.

And for a little bonus. I recently re-worked a dragon pendant for my niece who is very into them. We found a pin that she really liked, but preferred a necklace for her dragon. So I pulled it all apart, added a back and a bail ... then strung it through some black leather cord. It was the perfect redesign for her. And the bonus touch to my dragon post.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

About Town :: Westport

We are not quite snow free yet, but very close. There are still some of the large snow piles left around town, and a bit out in our side yard that does not get as much sun. That patch of snow is still covering up what should be my crocus. 

However, that said it actually hit 60 degrees today and it felt like a heatwave! My snow drops are about to burst in the backyard. And the birds and squirrels are going a bit bonkers in the back. I guess we all just need a bit of sun and warmth already.  

I know I haven't posted much lately and that is because work has been busy, and I haven't had time to bead or make much jewelry. For those pieces I have made there hasn't been enough sun to take pictures. But today was perfect. I was able to get out and get a bit snap happy, so you'll see a few pieces coming up in the next week or two.

While we had the sun, we decided to head over to the library where the river walk is. This is my little New England town with the Saugatuck River that runs right through the middle of it. No it isn't very big, but there is more to it than what you see here. I just like the view down by the river.

It was crazy windy today as you can see from the water that is high and choppy. The river is tidal with tides that typically range from 7 to 10 feet, and flows directly into the Long Island Sound. We did manage to catch a few fine feathered friends who walked up the steps. There are steps that go down to the water for anyone deciding to row a boat along the river. You can see his friend popping his head up over that last step. Although the sight of me and the sound of my camera lens zooming in had these two off to the water quickly.

You can also see my photography assistant (aka The Bead Girl) who was out snapping pics with me. It was hard to get her to stand still or find an angle where her hair was whipping in front of her face! 

I also spotted a stone carving that for some reason I've never noticed before. I laughed to myself as I was wondering what kind of stone this was; I could hear the answer in my head from my BBF Christine who always defaults to agate if you're not sure. A good rule of thumb. So we'll go with agate that looks to have a bit of 'lace' in it. 

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy