Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tangle Tuesday

My latest Zentangle:

I wanted to use a central tangle of some sort, and then have different tangles radiating outward from it. I'm still experimenting with different tangles, so trying to find ways to incorporate lots of different ones into my creations.

I decided to go with a central flower, and started with a cabbage rose center - I labored over what size to make the center, because I didn't want my completed flower to end up dominating the page (oops!) - I thought I settled on a perfectly sized center (any smaller, and the pattern wouldn't have shown) but by the time I added a couple of layers of petals around it, my flower was huge. Then I decided to add some leaves and tendrils. Then I got fancy and added some color.

Once the flower was finished, I added some dividing lines (strings) for the tangles, and ended up with 13 spaces to fill - this was a lot of fun. There are so many tangles I still haven't tried, and yet I ended up using a few of my favorites from previous efforts (over and under, W2, and river).

W2 is one I really struggle with - no matter how careful I am, I screw up and get the little black squares out of alignment (every time!) AND manage to get some of the other lines in the wrong place, too. In the interest of full disclosure:

The section indicated with the red arrow started out to be W2. I drew the little black squares, and they were sort of aligned. Sort of - there was a bit of a deviation where the arrowhead points. But then, I started adding (what I call) the innies and outies - the lines that alternate on the inside and outside of the little squares. And right where the arrowhead is, I screwed up (as usual) and put an innie where an outie belonged. With my sakura felt tip marker - so it was permanent. No way to fix it, so I improvised and made the weird, warped plaid-ish grid you see there now.

I don't get very zen when I tangle - I want to be precise and perfect!

Tangles I used in this doodle (not including my weird warped plaidish grid):
  • paradox
  • tutus and tiaras
  • spearls
  • tendrils
  • chainging
  • W2
  • river
  • kloonz
  • tentacles
  • amoeboid
  • seasick
  • strircles
  • over and under
  • slalom
  • ballot
  • stoic

Are you a Zen doodler, or an anal doodler? (ooh - that sounds bad)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Well, I have enough beads left over to...

Remember the freeform cuff from a few days ago? (and a year ago?)

These are the bead piles I worked from on Wednesday when I recreated the cuff (which sold yesterday morning).

I have enough beads left over to make this cuff again, and those of you who read this blog regularly will NOT be surprised to learn that I haven't put the beads away yet!

So - here's the deal. If you are seriously interested in owning this cuff, I will be happy to make one for you - just sign onto Etsy and send me a convo letting me know you would like one. This will be first come, first served - offer good while bead supply lasts only!

Once I receive your convo, I will create a custom reserved listing for you, which will have a picture of the bracelet I made earlier this week. Your bracelet will look slightly different - although I am using the same bead assortment, this is a freeform design, and the beads go where they want to go! Once I have received payment (in full) for the design, I will make your bracelet, and ship it off to you within 3 business days. Easy!

Please be aware that this cuff is not really adjustable. The cuff will fit from size 6 to size 7-1/4. The cuff form itself, being steel, is quite durable, but also rigid, so on a smaller wrist, it will be a little loose, and probably impossible to shape to the wearer's smaller size. Similar, it can't be opened wider to accommodate a larger wrist.

Pics of the first 2 versions of this cuff:
freeform wire cuff, 2013

 freeform wire cuff, 2012

If you'd like one of these almost one-of-kind cuffs, send me a convo on Etsy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

For Breakfast Today? Green Eggs and Spam

That looks ... disgusting.

I keep hearing that Google, Yahoo, and other such web entities are intuitive - like the way Facebook knows to put jewelry and bead ads on my Facebook page.

That's why I am continually amazed at the e-mail spam I get - the spamming community is convinced I am a guy, I think - I get hundreds of e-mails for penis enlargement, Viagra (and other "performance enhancement" drugs), etc, a day. I periodically close e-mail accounts and open new ones, but am never spam-free for long.
Wish I could figure out who keeps selling my e-mail addresses; it's not like I'm visiting porn sites.

But anyhoo - I had to laugh at the latest one to hit my inbox:

It's from "Secret Wife Affairs", and the subject line? "Why wait? Have an affair with a cheating wife today."


It just makes me wonder:
  • Did all the cheating wives get together and form their own online business?
  • Why do these spammers think I am the target demographic for this?
  • Why are they yelling?
  • Is this type of spamming lucrative?
  • Who would click on this e-mail?
Not me.

But - if you feel left out because you aren't getting fantastic offers like this, just drop me a comment with your e-mail address, and I'll be happy to forward this one directly to you*! No charge!

*Not really. Find your own spam.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Freeform Wire Cuff, Redux

I don't often repeat my designs, but yesterday I created one of my most popular bracelets, a freeform wire cuff I first made last year.

I have had several requests to repeat this design, but put it off because I like my pieces to be one of a kind, and also because I didn't think I would be able to collect the same assortment of beads that I used the first time.

But in the process of hunting for something else, I came upon leftover aquamarine rondelles from the initial bracelet - I had squirreled them away in a "safe place", and promptly forgot where they were, and after a few months, forgot that I had them at all. I hate that! Anyone else lose stuff to safe places, all the time?

Here is the fruit of yesterday's labors:
freeform wire cuff, 2013

This bracelet was made entirely from bead soup - no strands of beads were cut, no tubes of seed beads were breached - all of these beads were stashed away; it just took several hours to hunt through all my various hiding places!

Some of the beads I used include: freshwater pearls in various colors, shapes, and sizes - pink, champagne, white, and peacock blue; round, potato, top-drilled, button, and some really cool peacock cornflake pearls; aquamarine rondelles (some faceted, some not) and chips; Czech firepolish beads in 3 different colors; Swarovski crystals in 3 colors, and size 8/0, 11/0, and 6/0 glass seed beads in 3 colors.

The base of the bracelet is copper-plated steel, and I wrapped it with Vintaj Natural brass wire. It will fit size 6 to 7, and is very comfortable (it will actually fit up to a 7-1/4). The cuff base (being steel) is quite rigid, so it can't be further shaped to conform to the wearer's wrist.

More pics, from different angles:

I've added it to my Etsy shop - if this one appeals to you, don't delay! SOLD!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Tangle

I created this zentangle over several days, adding bits and pieces here and there as the mood (and time) struck. I am really enjoying using this larger watercolor paper for tangling.

I wanted to use more colors in this one, and got off to a good start, coloring the chlink and string of beads as I drew them. But my color muse left me in the lurch after that, so other than making the leaves green on my vine, I stuck with black and white.

Patterns I used in this tangle include: chlink, string of beads, lacy, paradox, aah, crescent moon, river, squid, leafy vine, galoo, waves, facets, and bunzo. The squid was an afterthought, and if I had it to do over again (and I just might, next time...) I would draw it first, before the string, and draw everything else behind it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gorgeous Glass Gems

I spent 3 days cutting up the dichro slabs, engraving them with the Dremel, and then grinding and beveling them, and hustled them into the kiln yesterday for firepolishing - here are just a few of the cabs, liberated from the kiln this morning: (I wish dichro photographed well!)

Those of you with a trained eye will probably spot my mistake in this pic - Of these 7 cabs, somehow, 3 of them (the 2 uppermost ones, and the round one in the middle) - missed out on the beveling stage in the grinder.

Even more disheartening: out of the 35 cabs I made, only about 10 of them are beveled. I don't have the slightest idea how this happened - all 35 were in a bucket next to the grinder, and I was pulling them out one at a time to bevel. I sat at the dang grinder for 4 hours working on this - have NO CLUE how I missed more than 2/3 of them.

I was just going to leave them unbeveled,, until I started planning to solder with some of them - they are 7/16 inches tall, and my tallest bezel wire is 1/4 inch, so it will just barely work. And if I don't slant the top edge a little, I don't think I will get a good bezel.

So I am now going to haul out the grinder again, and bevel all the cabs I missed the first time - and then I'll firepolish them (again) tomorrow.

I have listed one of the cabs on Etsy - these are just SO pretty! Can't wait to make some rings, pendants, and bracelets with them. And I have put aside one for beadweaving, too!

This one's available on Etsy:   SOLD!!

If you'd be interested in some of the blue-green-purple ones, let me know, and I'll list them, too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sunday Soldering

This past Sunday, my friend Kris and I got together at Ye Olde Bead Shop to solder - it has been months since either one of us soldered, and we were so excited!

Kris and I share a "Kate Richbourg Connection" - let me explain: Kris took a tube riveting class from Kate at the Bead and Button show last year, and Kate was MY fabulously generous and talented partner in the last BSBP (Bead Soup Blog Party) - what a coincidence, right?

Kris purchased an autographed copy of Kate's Book Simple Soldering when she was up at Bead and Button, and she brought the book to the shop so we could try some of the projects - we joked that Kate was right there with us! I had previously borrowed the DVD from Kris, and enjoyed watching it so much - it is done SO well, and it was nice to put and face and name on my BSBP partner - it really felt like she was right there, talking to me, as I watched the DVD!

 Simple Soldering, by Kate Richbourg

We made 2 projects from the book on Sunday - the stacking rings, and the beads:

my stacking rings

textured & soldered silver saucer beads

The beads were very difficult to photograph - they are so shiny (after a spin in the tumbler) that they were almost too reflective to get a good pic.

I love my rings - wearing them now! Thanks for the help, Kate!

As I said last week, there is just not enough time to do everything I want to do - I wish I could solder more often! It is tough when you don't have designated work spaces (and time!) for all the different media - it's a pain having to put one set-up away in order to set up for soldering, or enameling, or glass fusing, or beadweaving, or whatever - when I win the lottery (that I never play, LOL) I am going to build a huge, beach front, airy studio with separate, well-appointed workstations for each and every one of my jewelry addictions!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Here's the second dichro slab

Yesterday I took a breather - a whole day away from jewelry and the bead shop. My blue-green dichroic glass slab sat all alone in the kiln at the shop, waiting for me to get here this morning and liberate it!

And I even remembered to check the pic orientation before I took the after pic:

blue-green-lilac Picasso-style dichroic glass slab, fused

same glass stack, before fusing

Look at the big difference in the greens, before and after fusing - interesting!

Today I have a lot of administrative stuff I have to do at the shop, but I'm hoping (fingers crossed!) to knock it out in a few hours, so I can start engraving these slabs this afternoon.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One slab fired

Here is the glass sheet I fired yesterday - fresh out of the kiln, and gorgeous!

As a reminder, here is how it looked before it was fired:

The colors are incredibly vivid! (One day, I'll learn to check the orientation of the before pic BEFORE I take the after pic, so that the orientations match -but not today! - sorry)

The blue-green slab went into the kiln at 8AM this morning, and won't be cool enough to remove from the kiln until early tomorrow AM - but I'll show it as soon as I can.

Can't wait until it's out, and I can start engraving them!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More Picasso Glass

It's been 4 months since I did any glass fusing - and it seems like much longer! There is just not enough time in the day to do all the different things I want to do!

I turned the last Picasso glass run into pendants, and have been wanting some pieces to use as cabs for beading and soldering, so it was time to make more.

I spent all of yesterday, and about 3 hours this AM, cutting, cleaning, and stacking the glass. I ended up with two 6" x 6" glass slabs to fuse, one in cool blues, greens, and lilacs, and the other in warm reds, golds, and oranges:

cool blue, green, and lilac dichroic glass slab, ready for fusing in the kiln

warm red, gold, and orange slab, ready for fusing

I didn't have as much of the red, gold, and orange glass as I wish I'd had, so some other colors are sneaking in to this second slab - but a good 1/3 of it is in the brilliant hot palette I was going for.

This second slab is in the kiln now, and as soon as it comes out, the other will go in. Then, it will be time for engraving, shaping, and other cold working - I should get quite a few nice cabs from this effort, and probably a few pendants, too!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Zentangle

I have been Zentangling for a few months, using the tiles provided in the beginner kit I purchased from Zentangle.com:

These tiles are 3.5 x 3.5 inches, and while I love the paper - the texture and thickness are perfect for tangling; they are just too small for me. As I noted way back in June as I blogged about my first Zentangle, there are so many tangles I want to try, and the tiles are so small that I was cramming everything into a small space, and it was making me go bleary-eyed, trying to make the designs so small! I even used my optivisor so I could actually see what I was drawing in some of these first tangles.

A couple of weeks ago I perused the art aisle at Hobby Lobby (with my 40% off coupon) and couldn't find any paper that was exactly like the Zentangle tiles, but I chose a pad of water color paper that was pretty close. Nice and thick, good texture - and a generous 8 inches square (more than 4 times the size of one of the tiles I was initially working with!)

I pulled out all my pens, pencils, and other Zentangling doodads, plus my Pinterest board loaded with tangle ideas, and started a new tangle a couple of days ago.

I wanted to try using negative space, and since Valentine's Day is near, I decided to try a heart. Negative space is hard! I'm not 100% thrilled with the result, but it's OK.

Surprisingly, it didn't take any longer to do this (relatively) huge design than it did to do the 3.5" tiles - it turns out that basically all I did was upsize my drawing - in other words, what you see in the pic above is the same design I would have crammed into the 3.5 inch tile! I like this way better!

Here are some of the tangles I worked into this Zentangle: heart chain, Zinger, lupe, fricle, bunzo (my new fave!), basketweave, W2, C-chain, and one I'm calling striped pole, for lack of a better name. I still need to work on my shading and reflection techniques - my reflection line on the striped pole is crooked. I don't know why, but that particular technique is much harder to do than it looks!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Freeform Peyote Neckpiece: the aftermath

Part of my process when designing my freeform peyote neckpiece for the Head-to-Head Challenge was to pick out many, many different seed beads sizes and shapes in the various colors I had chosen to work with.

Following the advice of several experts, I combined similarly-colored beads in larger containers, so that (in theory) my bead selection in that color group would be truly random. Not surprisingly (since I know myself all too well) this "bead soup" approach didn't work at all for me, and I had to re-sort the beads before I could stitch. But, being basically lazy, I only sorted enough to stitch with, and only sorted by size (meaning, for example, that if I had chosen 7 different shades of 11/0 Delicas to use, I only re-sorted these into one large pile of mixed orange Delicas, not into their original 7 shades).

Now that the neckpiece is finished, I have a lot of bead sorting to do - I simply have to restore order and usability to this mess - I am just too OCD-inclined to work with unsorted beads!

If you look at the unembellished back of the necklace, you can see that I have 8 different bead soups to sort:

  • orange
  • orange-purple
  • purple
  • purple-blue
  • blue
  • blue-green
  • green
  • green-orange
I decided to start by sorting the greens - and since it has been a few months since I worked with the greens, I forgot (at first) about there being  green-orange and  green-blue soups - I dumped out the green soup, starting sorting, and the light bulb came on. So I dumped all 3 side by side, and began by just pulling all the greens out of the green-orange and green-blue soups. Then I could dump the remaining blues in the blue bucket, the remaining oranges in the orange bucket, and dig into the now-larger pile of greens!

3 bead soups containing various green seed beads

mixed green seed beads

Sorting the greens was relatively easy, albeit time-consuming. I had only chosen 2 different shades in 11/0 Delicas, one light, one dark - easy. Only one 11/0, one 11/0 triangle, one 8/0, and one 4 mm cube - not bad. The 11/0 and the light-colored 11/0 Delica were very, very similar, so I actually had to roll each of these side to side, looking for the silver lining in the Delica. But all-in-all, not too bad.

Then I moved on to the blues - 
 sorting the blue bead soup

I had many, many more colors and shapes of blue beads to choose from, and it looks like I chose most of them! For the initial round of sorting, I was easily able to isolate the 11/0 triangles, the 6/0s, the indigo-colored 11/0 Delicas, and the 8/0 Delicas. But I put 6 different blue 11/0 Delicas in the mix, and 4 11/0 rounds. I decided that the better part of valor at first was to pull out the beads I was 100% sure of, and then just make a large pile of mixed Delicas and a large pile of mixed 11/0 rounds, and once I finish this initial pass, I'll go back with my optivisor and further sort the Delicas and 11/0 rounds. 

This will be the same approach I have to take with the oranges and the purples, where I also used quite a few shades of Delicas and 11/0s.

I'll be glad when this is behind me!  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Embellished Felted Vessel

Remember my foray into wet felting?

Back in November, I made this little felted vessel; I wanted to embellish it, but I put it aside, because I was busy working on my Head-to-Head challenge neckpiece (and working, and working...)

I finished the neckpiece a week ago today (yay!) - and started embellishing my felted vessel on Tuesday of this week, after enjoying a few days away from tiny seed beads.

After 2 days of stitching, here is my bead-embroidered vessel:
I added one of my enameled flowers, and embroidered a stem and leaf for it - the leaf is a little outsized for the flower, but that's OK!

I reined myself in, and didn't go all overboard with the embellishments. I like it!