Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bead Dreams

Every year in early spring there is a deadline to submit a competition piece for Bead and Buttons Bead Dreams.  I have previously completed two different collaborations, but this year I wanted to submit a piece entirely of my own imagination and hands.

To follow through on my intent, I labeled a box, selected colors and labeled bits and pieces that I would consider contributing to the design.

mmm…..bronze, fuchsia, purples, greens, golds, a nice mix of my favorites.

I added a nice dose of Swarovski crystals

And then I ran out of steam….I got busy, I gave up, I resigned myself to not finishing, there was too much to do and it all needed to be done and then…….

I gave myself a good talking to and decided that it would only get done if I put in the work, lots of work and if I gave myself permission to let everything else go.  It meant a couple of things got later then was comfortable, but you know in the end nothing earth shaking happened, and guess what?  I finished, I made a piece that I love.  It had the usual ups and downs of any design process, loved it, hated it, wasn't sure about it, and then it was done and I'm very very pleased.  I created photos and I did the paperwork and I submitted it but really the real reward is that I finished.  If it's not accepted I will be more than happy to wear it, maybe not to the grocery store, but I will make Mark take me to fancy dinners weekly and I will find as many appropriate occasions as I can to enjoy wearing it.  The name of the piece is journey as each bit of beadwork came form a previous part of my bead journey.

Now my focus returns to the rest of what needs doing and…..the new airstream.  That story is for another day, and maybe another blog.  In the meantime, where should I have dinner?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


At Beading by the Bay this year we decided on rings made of Cerulan clay and crystal for our make and take.  Who knew how much fun it would be!  I made several prior to the event so I would be 'practiced' but Susan did the actual class.

Melissa and Heather joined in the fun as well.  Mine is the whimsical one with the lime green sprocket. There were many glittery ones.  Pigment powders really fancied them up!

You also see quite a few wonderful bracelets in this photo.  Bonnie Morris is sporting the green and pink one which has it's roots in contemporary geometric beadwork.

Kate used pop beads and sprockets to make a tall one, and Heathers is the one in the forefront that looks like it might have a martini olive on it.

Liz Thompson gifted me this gorgeous pendant.  Apparently I did bead beg the first time I saw the photo on line but since it's reasonably shameless behavior I had forgotten about it, so it was a nice surprise.  Sadly she is not teaching this one at Bead and Button

But she is teaching this one and three others.  I love how ornate and delicate her pieces are.  You can find her teaching schedule here.

And to leave you with a smile, the lovely Layla Joy who is just learning to enjoy yogurt.

I'm off on a knitting retreat, preceded by a stop in Asheville NC then up to the mountains.  Should be a grand time, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Musings on this thing called retirement

So here I am retired, and not.  I always knew that I would want to stay connected to the bead world, and that I would want to design and maybe sell some kits and maybe tutorials and I hinted mid last year I was ready and I am…..

But I need to learn to do a slightly better job.  I've been home mostly since December, but I was busy prepping for four Interweave videos on CRAW.  Step out preparation takes a fair amount of time.  If I want to show you a square, I will make a start, make a second piece showing how to turn a corner and make a third piece so I can now show the join without making you wait while I finish the square.  Take that model times about 40 different techniques I wanted to show you, and it was a lot of step outs that needed doing.  Which is all ok, it makes me think about the stitch in an academic way and Im a better beader for it, and I have high hopes that you'll love the information shared and will find it a positive in your bead stitch knowledge.

Also, I had a blast, I love the Interweave team, and I loved Fort Collins and it was a treat to be there.

Here Nick is getting a preview of what we'll do in this segment.

This step out is color coded to explain how cubes are shared at the corners and how to count.

Each of my Bead On It Boards (yes I have a few) is staged to be able to grab during the filming to show the next segment.

The fourth of the series show shaping by increasing and decreasing.

So I've shared with you some of the process, but back to the topic….

Retirement.  So this bit of work took some time and then I had promised to kit up some Ancient Bells and I did.  The response was wonderful and we kitted more and we spent a few days shipping.  Then it was time to prepare for Beading by the Bay.  It's a wonderful event in it's 6th year and every year I look forward to it.  Together with partner Susan, we send emails, track color choices, make name tags, pick menus, and I write directions, and print directions and kit.  This year it's Layla, named for my newest grand daughter.  It's a pretty piece and an intense one….not difficult, but lots of size 15 craw with turns and joins, 26 of them to be exact.  I'm looking forward to it's teaching debut.

So back to the original discussion, while all fun, it's not exactly retirement, yet, and that's ok, I like to work, I like to work with beads.  The thing is I had hoped to bring you more kits by now, some of you are waiting patiently for La Navette (I have the beads!) and Romantica re-visited (also I have the beads) and there are a few more aqua and gold ancient bells that could be kitted and some more duomos, but in the interest of not working all day every day, they have to wait.  I'm hoping for mid April and I'll be sure to let you know.  After August I am definitely, really and truly cut back and then website kits may be more regular, until then it's the best I can do.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Drawing CRAW is not so easy and when it needs to bend or curve then it's even harder….and if if you have even more sides then four, it's even harder then that.    In real life the beads gently curve to fill in the spaces, in 2 d drawing, they do not.

It almost makes one want to stop designing with CRAW, just kidding, I don't see that happening, it is just too versatile a stitch and begs me to design with it at almost every opportunity.

I've been busy with both travel and the business of the business and I am itching to sit down and be in design mode.  I did make a pretty fun bauble for the Toho  challenge which needs only a few more beads to be complete,  but it's under wraps for now.

And I am trying agains all odds really to finish a Bead Dreams submission, we shall see, I have the desire and I'm trying to maintain focus in the odd moments I'm not working on the myriad of things that need doing.

I have a stretch of time in front of me that will require a fair amount of work and then I go play.  First at Beading by the Bay, which while work to prepare, is after that a big ball of fun as I see so many wonderful beaders that I call friends.  Many have been with us everyone of the six years we've done this retreat.

Then I am attending a knitting retreat with my dear East Coast friend.  We parted in our twenties when I moved to the West Coast, but we now make a point to get together and do something creative at least once a year.  We'll spend a day in Asheville and then off to the Blue Ridge Mountains where we'll be fed and take classes and visit.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

I've been busy!

We went on an airstream trip!  I will say we are feeling more and more accomplished and like seasoned travelers each time we venture out.

I even drive reliably now, pulling in and out of rest stops and passing trucks as required on the freeway.  Still don't do the local streets or heavy freeway traffic, but I'm getting there.

This trip started out with two days in Tucson, a photo shoot by Kyle Cassidy, a trip around a few of the shows and an Interweave party.

Mark took this shot, I'm wearing my beautiful Kinga Nichols necklace!

 This is a shot traveling through Pacheco pass.  We've named the airstream Pacheco as it has always been a part of our life, connecting us to travel in and out of Santa Cruz.

One of my favorite spots to park, in a grove of redwood trees in Felton California.

Everyone travels with their truffle salt, right?  I mean you can't give up your luxuries just because your experiencing life in a travel trailer!

This was through Palmdale, a rainbow!  We experienced everything on this trip, we had torrential rains, dense fog, high winds, and bumper to bumper traffic.  These were all firsts and we survived!

Here is photo at my hotel.  Jill MacKay noticed I would be in Fort Collins and offered to pick me up and take me to dinner.  We went to downtown Fort Collins which I totally loved.  Unable to take a good selfie in the dark of the car, we asked our concierge at the hotel to take one for us.  I had a great time visiting with Jill.

Thursday night I was treated to a dinner with Jean Cox (Campbell) and I was tuckered out from two days of video and forgot to take a photo.  But I am always happy when I get to spend some Jean time, one of my favorite people on planet bead!

I'm home for a few days before leaving again for Beading by the Bay, is it next week already?  Wow that snuck up on me.  Lot's of work to do this week, but I'll check in with you again in a day or two and let you in the fun I had making the CRAW PRAW videos.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


We decided 'on our way' to Nortern California to stop in Tucson (which is of course not on the way at all).   It was however fun!  We parked in Kate McKinnons driveway and joined the party.  Her backyard is a spectacular fantasy of outdoor rooms, including a bed under the stars and a vintage travel trailer nicknamed the Barbie Coach.

I of course did a wee bit of shopping, but only a wee bit.  I have a few new beads to play with, and some pretty ribbon and some great Lillypilly buttons, a couple of new EZEL clasps and cute little squares from Hynek, designed by Patty McCourt.

I also have some MakuStudio earrings and matching ring with Paradise Shine chatons.  Excellent!  AND a leaf pendant made by Kinga Nichols, just how lucky can a girl get?

We left Tucson early Saturday morning and drove to Tehachapi where we spent the night in a beautiful spot in the foothills.  Sunday's trip through dense fog and then torrential rain were not airstream firsts for us, and we survived.  we also survived very heavy winds newr Oalm Sprongs so we are getting to be seasoned airstream travelers.

Today I bead, all day, nestled in the redwoods in our cute little trailer!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I want to bead!

Coffees on!  The day started early with shipping a few orders and tidying up the studio a bit.  

I would love nothing better then to be all day but that's not in the cards sadly.  Lot's to get done before my video shoot and Beading by the Bay.

However I did squeeze in one more earring with hopes of making a second today.  Turns out it's about and hour per earring, maybe a little more.  That's a reasonably large time investment for earrings, but I do love the architecture and sparkle factor in these and I just had to try them in silver since my go to wardrobe is black.  There is more going on here then meets the eye as you really need to understand craw inside and out to make appropriate thread paths for these.

I also have some ideas spinning around that came out of the prep work for the video.  Little bits and piece will do that, spark an idea and it sparked several.

I also want to revisit some older designs, so many that I'd love to bring fresh colors and ideas to.  This one for sure!  I desperately want to bring this back in dark silvers.   Victoria is a very early design but a classic and I think it would be stunning in dark silvers with indigo accents.

And I thought retirement was going to be easy!