Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bead Doodling

Tonight's Beading Term:

Bead Doodling

A silly name for freeform bead embroidery.

Relaxing, and using bead embroidery to "draw" patterns on a whim...  with emphasis placed on simply "going with the flow" instead of completing a pre-determined pattern.


Today has been an insanely productive day on the jewelry front.

So much so, in fact, that I needed to just do something random and silly and, well, unimportant.

And so I doodled.

More specifically, I added that bright blue swirl on the bead embroidery piece pictured above.  ...And it was lovely.  No pressure, no need for perfection--something to just create and enjoy.

With all of the serious beading that I've been doing, and the incredible outpouring of creativity that I have been experiencing these last few weeks, I think I foresee much more bead doodling in my future.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fresh Air

One of my favorite things about Spring is being able to open the windows.

I love letting the fresh air sweep through, banishing the winter-staleness and lightening the apartment's entire atmosphere.

Granted, right now it's still a bit too cold to do so... hovering in the mid-forties Fahrenheit, even with the bright blue skies and warm sun.

But soon!

I have to keep telling myself that...  Soon!  

Oh, I am ready ready ready for full-blown Spring!


This morning, the light was streaming into the craft room as I was working, and I longed to open the windows wide and breathe deeply the fresh air.  

And I would have, too, if it wouldn't have also made my hands cold and clumsy.

Ah well...  Guess it just means that after lunch I should go for a walk and enjoy the sunlight that way.  I am definitely feeling the need to shake off winter-hibernation mode and frolic!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Check-In

Tackling Real Life (tm).

     Making Evensong Tribute.

          Experimenting with different adhesives.

     Writing writing writing...

Being social.

New hairsticks, as I play with epoxy resin.

Ooooo, look, glue!  ...And I managed not to glue my hand to my face! 
Berry cobbler with ice cream, a delightful dessert
shared with delightful company.

...Life is still crazy-busy, but in the best possible way.

And!  In good news, I believe I may have won Ant Wars 2013.  I have not seen an ant in my kitchen for the past three days.  Woo!

Now if everything else could just take care of itself so that I can go take a nap--that would be great.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Busy Busy Busy...

So, I have done a tally of how many pieces I have made for Evensong's Heir.  

(Unfamiliar with the project?  Go here.)

The giveaway earrings --
One of a Kind, and will only be available as giveaway rewards.
Details will be forthcoming on L.S. Baird's blog.

All told, how many pieces have I made?

- 17 complete pieces, that will be listed on my store
- 5 incomplete pieces, that will be listed on my store but are just waiting for components
- 3 pieces for giveaway rewards (pictured here)
- 2 pieces for a gift to the author (since this is her story, after all)

All told, that is 27 pieces.

...27 complex original designs.


And, since I don't want to reveal anything new just yet, here are close-ups of those giveaway reward earrings.

Dmitri, Lark of Valnon

Ellis, Thrush of Valnon

Willim, Dove of Valnon
and Third of that Title

How many more am I going to make?

Well, I also have at least 5 more pieces planned...  possibly more, if her characters keep clamoring for attention the way that they are.  (Even minor characters, it seems, want some love.)

All told, it's no wonder I have been so busy!

...And I've been loving every minute of it.  I think it is a very, very good thing that I finished my Bead Soup pieces early, because right now Valnon has completely captured my creative imagination.

And now, if you'll pardon me, back to creating I go!

Friday, March 22, 2013


So, this is follow-up on something that happened back in October. (Egads, was it really that long ago? ...Yes, I suppose it was.)

Anyway, last October, I went to the Zoo, and picked up a smashed penny souvenir. That started the debate: what do I do with it?

Well, I'm happy to report that I finally did something with it:

Ta-da! It's a manatee bracelet!

Now, I had actually decided on making it into that bracelet not long after I had last blogged about it (yep, once again, back in October).

So, why did I wait so long to actually do it?

Well, it was a matter of glue.

You see, it was only recently that I decided on what adhesive to use to attach the penny to the bracelet backing.

The original glue that I had in mind wasn't strong enough to hold the penny in place.  The second glue took too long to set, and the manatee kept sliding.

Then, in true Goldilocks fashion, the third glue (actually an epoxy resin) was just right!

I don't usually wear bracelets, but I haven't taken this off since it finished drying this morning!

...And now that I have a good adhesive to use, I want to start collecting all sorts of smashed penny souvenirs!  :D

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy First Day of Spring!

I almost forgot to wish everyone a Happy First Day of Spring!

Granted, it really doesn't feel like spring yet...  Where I live, it is chilly chilly chilly!

But at least the sun is out and the sky is blue and there are beginning pockets of green.

The edge of our parking lot here at the apartment...
So excited for those trees to have leaves!  :D

For those interested, it is also:
     - Mr. Roger's birthday
     - The International Day of Happiness
     - World Storytelling Day
     - And the day that Einstein published his theory of general relativity in 1916

...And for me, it entails doing Adult Things (bills and laundry and continuing Ant Wars 2013), but also playing with beads and reveling in the sunlight.

What a lovely day!

Turmi Challenge: Update

So, I didn't win the Turmi Challenge.

And that's okay.

My entry: the Turmi hairsticks.

No, really, that's okay.

It might sound lame, but I am just extremely happy that I did it.  I stepped out of my comfort zone, and actually entered a contest.  

Not only that, but I received some very, very nice feedback about what I made.  No one laughed at me, no one told me that I didn't do a good job...  In fact, I had many many people like it--and I stood out by doing something different.

And, I did it.

...Cliché and sappy as it sounds, I certainly feel like a winner.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Evensong's Heir: My Tribute

What is Evensong's Heir?

First and foremost, it is an upcoming novel by L.S. Baird.

But, more than that--it is a story that I have watched grow.  A story that I have heard snippets of, read small sections of, seen drawings of, have heard the author craft over the years.

It is a story that is musical, lyrical, magical--both in its subject and in its writing.

I have watched the process from afar...  but now I am beyond excited because the author has given me permission to make jewelry to go with her story!  (Yay fan-art!)

Necklace for Ellis, the Thrush of Valnon

There will be several pieces in this new collection--pieces that will go with the different characters in the story.  (It is a jewelry maker's dream--she even has different color combinations dedicated to different characters!)

Here are some more teaser-pictures of the necklace, my tribute to Ellis, the Thrush of Valnon:

Another shot of the necklace

Close-up of one of the links

The main focal of the necklace:
three glass dagger beads, reminiscent of feathers.

And, because I am feeling generous, here are some pictures of the matching earrings:

Earrings for Ellis, Thrush of Valnon

The same earrings, this time at a rakish angle.  ;)

The full line will be revealed at the end of April, to coincide with the book launch.  

Not only will I show off these pieces here, but most of them will also be listed on my Etsy store...  But, stay tuned, because there will be a few select items that will be available only through a giveaway on her blog!

...All in all, with my Bead Soup reveal, my Spring Fling reveal, and now the unveiling of my Tribute to the Songbirds of Valnon, April is going to be a very busy month!  :D


I will also mention here that L.S. Baird is also my sister-in-law (although I usually just call her my sister, because it's easier and closer to the point).

I have seen the work that she has done, I have seen how she has poured herself into this story.  And, while I certainly think that this story deserves amazing jewelry on its own merit, my connection with the author makes it increasingly special to me.

In doing this, I want to honor her and her words...  and show her just how special she is to me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Looks Like I've Done It Again...

Soooo, I may or may not be addicted now.

 Addicted to what, you ask?

Blog Hops.  

Since my Bead Soup is mostly done (unless I decide to remake everything 15 times), I decided to join another blog hop: 


This challenge is arranged by the talented Amy of Amybeads.  

All of the focals were hand-crafted by Alenka from Slovenia.  (The two of them met through last year's Bead Soup--isn't that cool?)

Everything, nice and neat in their little bags...
This is before I dumped them out and started playing with them.

How cool that something made in Slovenia
has ended up here in Ohio!

I am totally in love with the colors of this challenge.  I mean, honestly: purple and dark blue and rainbow-creamy-white!

I really do love purple.

And, for fun, here are some vanity shots:

Want to know what I'm going to make with these beads?

The reveal is on April 20th, so stop by then to find out!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Something to Be Happy About...

Today's happiness: 

Going out to lunch with my mother-in-law.

French onion soup and oriental chicken salad...  absolute yumminess!
Oh, and I ate the breadstick before I took this picture.  ;)

Good food, good company...

A chance to talk about writing and photography and other creative pursuits, 
     about Alice in Wonderland and Lord Byron...

An opportunity to unwind and savor the moment,
     and not mind if we spend time just to sit and talk...

A lovely day.

I have said it before, 
     but I am beyond blessed to be able to call my mother-in-law one of my good friends.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Love Getting Packages

I am lucky, lucky, lucky!

My Aunt has sent me another box of goodies to play with!

This delicate pendant actually belonged to my grandmother...
How special that it has found its way to me.

I am definitely thinking of my Aunt and Uncle right now, as they're in the middle of their move.  Moving is never, never easy...  But how exciting that it's happening!  :)

And how exciting that I have new things to play with...  We'll have to see what I end up creating. 

Hope everyone is doing well!  It's cold and dreary here, but I have new shinies and chai tea, and am quite content.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone: Turmi Challenge

I have once again done something rather out of the ordinary, at least for me.

I have entered a contest.

Yes, an actual contest. You know, where people will scrutinize my work and judge it and compare it to the work of other people. This time last year, I don't think this is something I could have done.

A baby step out of my shell--but a step, nonetheless.

Egads!  What do seed beads have to do with this?!
Read on to find out!
(Hint: not peyote stitch...
my baby seedbeadery is not quite contest-ready.)

About the Contest

I am part of the Bead Soup Cafe group on Facebook. (Look at me, getting out of my corner and actually being social! True, it's on the internet--but I'm interacting with people!) 

This wonderful group of people is having a contest where people design jewelry based on a specific inspiration picture. 

This particular time, this is the inspiration picture:

Picture courtesy of the talented Dini Bruinsma of Angaza by Changes.

...How cool is that?

The picture was taken by Dini Bruinsma a few years ago, when she was visiting Turmi, Ethiopia (hence the name of this challenge).

Honestly, I think that it so appealed to the Anthropologist in me that I decided to participate.  After all, I might as well do something with that Anthropology degree, right? ;)

About What I Made

When creating my design, I decided to derive inspiration from the juxtaposition of shadow and light, the subtle changes in hue, the saturated earthy browns made golden by the sun.

And so, using that picture as inspiration, I made this pair of asymmetrical hairsticks.

Photo collage of the hairsticks--the picture I used for the contest.
Click to make bigger.

Why hairsticks?

For a number of reasons. Because they are one of my specialties. Because I have been pushing myself to experiment with different types of dangles. Because they are fairly unique, and I thought they matched the unique feel of the picture.

...And, well, simply because I like them.

Close-up of one of the focals.

It was rather hard to get this dangle to
hang right.

To be honest, this pair was surprisingly difficult to make. I don't usually work in asymmetry, but for some reason it felt right.  After all, the picture is not symmetrical--yet it still feels balanced.

So, I took extra time trying to balance the sides.

Here you can see more clearly the differences:
One dangle is longer, the other is wider.
One stick is darker, the other is lighter.
One focal bead is swirling upwards, the other is swirling downward.

And, since I know that most people aren't quite familiar with hairsticks, here they are in action:

Yes, that's the back of my head...
I believe this is my debut on my blog.

...The only thing harder than taking a picture of the back of my best
friend's head is apparently taking a picture of my own.

So, there you have it: my entry to the Turmi challenge.

I am still rather in shock that I did this (yep, working on my confidence), but I am very, very happy that I did so.

And thank you so, so much for reading!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


...It's apparently what I do on Saturday nights.

(Did some more peyote stitch this afternoon--no pictures to show for it, but slowly I'm learning.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone: Seed Bead Edition

Don't get me wrong.

I like seed beads.  

I mean, they are small... and rather pesky... and there was that time in middle school when I accidentally dropped an entire bowl of them on the floor.  

In the carpet. 

And it did take hours for me to pick up, lying on my stomach and painstakingly finding them one by one.


I really don't have anything against seed beads, lingering middle school trauma aside. 

I just don't use them all that often.  

Sure, sometimes I'll use them for stringing a simple necklace, or as spacers on hairsticks. In the past, I have done some loom-weaving and dabbled in bead embroidery (hence actually having seed beads in middle school)...  

But they are not my medium of choice.

That being said, there are people out there who do absolutely amazing things with seed beads.  Even if some of the pieces are not quite my style, I cannot deny the sheer amount of skill that goes into making these works of art. 

And so, I have been quite content to let these incredibly talented people work their magic, while I work with substantially larger beads.

That was, until this past Tuesday.  

For some reason, Tuesday morning, I suddenly got the burning desire to play with seed beads.  


Bead-weaving on a loom? Yes, please! Free-form bead embroidery? Of course! Flat and tubular peyote stitch and Russian-style leaves?  Yes, yes, yes!  

Kind of scary, actually.  

Still, I have learned through experience that, when I get these urges, it is best to listen to them.  Otherwise, I will just be miserable until I actually do something about them.

So, I dug up my past bead embroidery materials. I did a little online research, and went to the local Hobby Lobby to pick up some different needles and thread. I didn't get any special seed beads; I figured I could use what I have for practice.  If I find that this is something I enjoy, I can start getting the beads made specifically for such activities. 


So, you might be wondering: where do things stand now, as I stretch myself out of my comfort zone and start learning new things?

Well, let me walk you through the three different things I tried.

First up: my attempts at tubular peyote.

I cannot believe I am actually posting this picture here for the
internet to see.  *hangs head in shame*

...Sad. Just very sad.

I am not exactly sure what I was expecting on my first try, but it is rather humbling to look at those misshapen bead-blobs. Those poor misshapen bead blobs.

There is a glimmer of hope, however...  This morning's attempts have proven to be a bit better:

It's actually a tube! And behaving in the way that it's supposed to!

Cue the dramatic lighting!

Next up: my first attempts at flat-stitched peyote.

...Getting warmer. Even though I had to use my larger 6/0 beads because my thread was too big for my smaller beads, I think my first attempts weren't too shabby.

And, lastly: my continued attempts at bead-embroidery.

I decided to do something free-form, not using a sketch or really having a plan. Something about that spontaneous, flowing creativity is both extremely appealing and extremely intimidating--learning to trust myself, to stop obsessing and worrying and just letting myself enjoy the process.

I'm not done, and I'm no expert, but I am pleased that I haven't completely lost the knack.

The fabric that I used as my backing was a scrap of material from my last well-loved pair of jeans.  

Why did I pick it?  

Because it was there, and readily accessible, and because trying to find something else would have taken too long for my purpose-driven creativity to stand.


So, do I think I will end up being one of those amazing, crazy-talented seed beaders? 

I honestly have no idea. My first inclination is "probably not," but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

And, regardless, I am pleased that I am at least trying.  There is definitely something to be said for that, and continually pushing to learn.

...And, so far, I haven't dropped any of my beads into the carpet.  ;)