Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Picturesque English village

It doesn't get more picturesque than this.  Beautiful, charming vignettes everywhere I look.

The greens are so green, something you're not used to while living in a desert community.

This is in the back of the church in Stow on the Wold and we might have missed it had Sue's husband not made a point of telling us to walk around to the back of the church.  A hobbit like door with trees growing into either side.

For my knitting friends, fleece alley, although I didn't see any reason along the walkway to have named it fleece alley.  Perhaps in older days there were sheep?

I love the old old buildings and the hanging baskets.  This was the scene everywhere we wandered yesterday.  What an excellent time we had.

The old Stowe lodge, set back from the square on a tree lined path which invited you to walk down it.

Last night we decided on staying in our cozy room so we set about collecting picnic foods from the various shops around town.  We had English Brie with salami and crackers and a pork pie.  Then a dessert of a ginger orange tart which was decadent and so wonderful I may need to have one more before leaving.

Today I teach Sprockets in a village hall nearby while a beader's husband offered to take Mark off on a day outing to a nearby museum.  Then back to our welcoming room and a choice of several really good dinner options.  Which shall we choose?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

England travels

We moved from Yorkshire county to the Midlands last Tuesday in preparation for the three day master class I taught to a talented group in Barton Under Needwood.  It is a plan we conceived on my last visit 18 months ago so it was a long wait, but in the end worth it.  We had a grand time, well I had a grand time and reports were that the beaders did too.

Three days of playing with the master class playground of components, finding arrangements and beading up new designs.  It was 'brilliant' as the saying goes here.  Here are just a few of the pieces that were in progress

Before we got started though, Stephney and Tim, host and hostess extradonaire, took us on outings to Birmingham and then Bletchley Park.  In Birmingham we visited the museum for the special exhibit of Andy Warhol and William Morris.  The curator had drawn similarities between their beliefs and their artwork, although I would say, the connection seemed loose, I did appreciate the body of work from both artists.  Seeing the hand drawings of William Morris later turned into intricate design was wonderful.  

Also in Birmingham Art Museum I enjoyed the Room of Dreams by artist Wendy Ramshaw.  

I also managed a wee bit of shopping and have a new pair of blue Doc Martin's which Tim fondly referred to as my Fairy Boots.

Bletchley Park was of course the real life setting for the movie the Imitation Game.  We saw a replica of the Bombe machine which was invented to decode the German Enigma coded messages.  The women who described it did an excellent job and you got a real understanding of the magnitude of the invention and it's importance in the war.  This piece of history was almost lost so thankfully there were people who cared enough to restore it and open it to the public.

Here is a wonderful flower from Tim's garden.

Monday's travels brought us to Worcester where we again staying with lovely hosts who are looking after our comfort.  The venue here is a large meeting room in a garden center.  There is a lovely cafe and a large garden store to peruse during lunch.  Yesterday class was Quattro Cupole and today we tackle Sprockets.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Beading in England

It's been a fabulous trip so far and it's only one venue of four.  We arrived Thursday morning through London and onto Leeds where hostess Jenny picked us up and delighted us with informative commentary on many of the sights and much of the history of Yorkshire County.

Our first stop was Robin Hoods Bay where Jenny lives and the workshop was to be held.  The views are beyond breathtaking and our accommodations looked onto the bay.  There was a village at both the top and bottom of a steep hill.   Down below directly on the bay was the old village which friend Audrey took us for a tour of.

Here's a great photo of the old village from the top of walking trail which were abundant.

Our first evening stroll along the walkways led us to this sight.

 Friday's journey included Pickering where the steam train in the original Harry Potter was filmed.  We also had a visit to Whitby Abbey, a ride along the Moors where sheep were plentiful.  This photo is of you Susan!

Saturday and Sunday the classroom was full of eager and accomplished gals who came to make A Touch of Whimsy followed by Romantica.  On the left we have Emma, Emma's Mom Cath, Dot, Avril, Janet, Harrie, Penny and down the right we have Jenny, Jayne, Jenny, Imelda, Vera, Alison and out of sight at the end Cher.  In the back corner was Margaret and Carolyn who've taken my classes before so it was nice to see their familiar faces.  Opposite them were Jacki and Sheeva (Who I must apologize to as I never saw the correct spelling)  I will tell you it was a very lovely two days where I mostly visited and gave out little bits of encouragement and a few ideas for variations.  The group happily got on with it an several approached finishing or finished their medallions and moved on with their diamond weave.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

On Monday Jenny again chauffeured us to York, an old city center where we walked through the streets, dined, shopped and enjoyed all the architecture and history.

A view of Yorkminster, a beautiful old building w here we watch a bride and groom kiss on the doorstep.

Mark walking through the old Roman gate into the city center

The Famous Betty's tea room where we did of course stop and have a scone with clotted cream

And a sign which has to make you laugh, I wish I could find some!  Apparently when this building is sold it is in the contract that they will maintain the sign.


Finally I leave you with my Topman!   We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on Saturday with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful meal thanks to Jenny's warm hospitality.  It is such a pleasure to have him traveling with me.

We've arrived in Barton Under Needwood where Stephney's husband Tim is whipping up one of his famous culinary delights.  Stephney will arrive home shortly and we have two days of fun followed by a three day workshop, also fun!

Monday, June 22, 2015


Journey is the name of the piece I entered into Bead Dreams this year, a Bead and Button bead competition.  It was accepted and traveled to Milwaukee to be displayed.

I finished it just in time, took photos and then sent it off……Then I began seeing a part of the design that looked incomplete to me.  I am all for asymmetry done well, but this just looked unbalanced to me. Every time I looked at the photo I wondered why I hadn't seen it before and once I did I couldn't see anything else.

So when Journey was returned to me this week, I immediately set about filling in the big negative space that was taunting me.

It may be a subtle difference.  It is certainly still asymmetrical, but to me the difference is huge.  Should I undertake another large piece I would make sure to build in the time to photo it and then live with the photos before deciding on the pieces completeness.  I find you see things in photos that you don't necessarily see otherwise.

I'm a little sad that I didn't see this gaping flaw (as it became in my mind) before it was shared at Bead Dreams, but I am glad I had the opportunity to make it better in my eyes.

I will be teaching my master class in England next month and since this piece is really a study of my master class components and the technique of component design it will be a great teaching tool to have with me.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Let's Hubble…...

That is the title of Melanie de Miquel's new book and also the name of a new stitch she developed.

It takes a lot to develop a new stitch.  A lot of due diligence to see if it has existed previously, if it has design versatility, if it will have staying power.

I think Melanie did a good job of working through these challenges and her book Let's Hubble is the result.  The book is a nice size, and has the advantage of a covered spiral binding which allows you to lay the book open when using it.  I love that.  The illustrations are large and nicely done, leading you through  the basics and moving onto some variations and projects to use your new skills.

At first glance people have thought it resembled right angle weave, but there are no shared side beads and it has a much more open and lacy look.  There is a need to be careful with your tension to make sure it doesn't have too thready a look or get puckered from too much tension.

After my first few rows my next question was, can I make it structural?  I've tried and yes I can.  It also has huge embellishment possibilities but I wanted to be careful not to embellish so heavily that I lost all the charm of the lacy quality.

I've also begun to think of a multitude of design possibilities which I find to be a good thing.  When I can start to think in a stitch I think it bodes well for me using it well into the future.

Photos?  Well not quite yet.  The piece I am busy developing will be an exclusive retreat piece for a while, but as soon as I finish I intend to move onto some of the other ideas that are floating around in my head.  Then I'll be ready to share.

In the meantime, I highly recommend Let's Hubble.  Yes it's a tad expensive at the moment as it has to come over the ocean.  You'll find a few U.S. bead stores are carrying it.  I bought it from the U.K. and I'm happy I have it.

There is a Facebook page here if you'd like to look into it a little further.

Monday, June 8, 2015


That's what happen when you host a daughters wedding and attend Bead and Button on back to back weekends!

The wedding was magical.  Casey's vision was realized and the venue turned out beautiful.  Big thanks go to three dear friends who showed up and transformed our yard into a lovely spot for a wedding and did all the background work to make it happen.  Huge thanks to Mark as well who worked very hard to make the yard ready, made a wishing tree, ran a large number of wedding errands and as is usual was my rock.

Who doesn't love a dog in a tutu, and a beautiful bride?

  This is behind our house where the airstream is usually parked.  It was moved to the end, you can just make it out and was used as a photo booth.  We had a lot of fun with that.  And a popcorn bar, 36 inch white balloons, and lots of lots of beautiful flowers.

All of the rest of my kids and grand kids stayed with us through Wednesday.  We went to the zoo and a wonderful visit.  Malayna even helped in the studio, 4 is a good age for putting stickers on MadDesigns kits!

Then it was off to Bead and Button.  Tracy and I had matching polka dot leggings….of course.  What we didn't know is we also had matching polka dot dresses, hers was black and mine was white but it was the same dress!

Here is a pretty shot of the night sky and the river.  Home from dinner one night I decided to get out of the taxi half way and walk, needed those fitbit steps!

Here is my bead dreams piece in the case….with someones foot….it was nice to see it there.  Lots of incredible pieces in those cases.

Here I am with Huib whose beard matched my hair.  He is very dapper in a bow tie and colorful shirt.

I had a few saga's…..a box I shipped to myself full of kits went missing.  It turns out I had the zip code wrong by one digit, so much for proofreading.  For meet the teachers my wonderful helpers started an interest list for those who wanted the missing kits.  They have been found and should get back to me by the end of the week.  If you signed my interest list I will be in touch as soon as they arrive home.

I have three weeks until the next big adventure which happens in England. After that I will be really retired for this year.  I have no other beady engagements until next March's Beading by the Bay.   At Bead and Button I hear a lot that I was not doing a really good job of 'retiring' but I am about to embark on 7 months of no bead travel.  There will however be airstream travel and quite a bit of it.  I've started an airstream blog for that part of my life….I'll share it once it gets a bit more regular.

Oh and there will be kits and new projects here and there as time permits.  I'm not going to stop beading, just some of the bead travels!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bead Dreams

The entries for this years Bead and Button Bead Dreams competition are now available for your viewing pleasure.  There are a lot of really incredible entries.

If you'd like to have a look, click here

I'm not sure if in previous years they've been posted so early.  I kind of like waiting until they are unveiled at Bead and Button outside of the showroom and of course there is nothing like seeing them up close and personal.  In the meantime if you are curious you can have a look.  I realize not everyone is able to go and it's nice to be able to see the pieces.

You may recall me telling the story of preparing for this year.  Or of last years collaborative entry with Sherry here.  I also did two collaborations with the Dallas Bead Society resulting in beautiful pieces.

But this  year I really wanted to make a piece that was all my own and prove to myself I had the perseverance to make it happen.  I almost gave up, and then I didn't.  I got it done a few stolen moments at a time.

It's called Journey because much like the master class I taught, it was a collection of different elements that I've used and improved on during my beading career.  I'm happy it was finished and happy it was accepted and will be happier still when it comes home with me and can live in the studio reminding me that I did it.

As always it has a heavy dose of Swarovski crystal

Creating with some of my tried and true components but adding the new bead shapes was fun.
You can see a pretty little glass component gifted to by the talented Patty Lakinsmith. It was perfect addition.  Also Rizo's and pips can be seen in use here.

This photo gives you an idea of the dimension going on.

I'm exceptionally pleased with how it really speaks to the entirety of my learning to bead.