Tuesday, December 23, 2008

poor little peanut

Over the weekend Ginger's little chin swelled up something fierce and was covered with red welts. She scratched a few of them, and blood freaks me out, so she got to go to the Vet last night.

My poor little kitty has feline acne. Cat pimples are new to me, but apparently it's pretty common. The Vet needed to shave her chin to get a better look at things. Ginger tried to fight it, of course, and he slipped and cut off almost all the whiskers on one side of her face. Baby girl looks a little pathetic. She's still cute though.

The Vet said to put ointment on her chin every twelve hours. I have a nice deep two inch scratch on my wrist and lots of other little scrapes from my first attempt this morning, so it must sting pretty badly. Poor Ginger. All she wants to do is lounge in front of the fireplace and zits are messing up her big plans. We've all been there. Acne sucks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Make earrings until your fingers bleed!"

A long, long time ago--well about four years ago really--Jean, Dustin, and I began work on the first ever issue of Stringing magazine. We really didn't have a budget for the special issue, so the three of us made 90% of the projects. We made A LOT of jewelry. As press day inched closer, we realized we needed to make earrings for a two page spread of designs. So, Dustin gave me an assignment: make earrings until your fingers bleed!

Since then, I've made more pairs of earrings than I can count and luckily have kept my fingers from bleeding. Making earrings is one of my favorite things (photographing them, not so much). Dustin still likes to use that phrase from back in the day. In fact, he said it yesterday while hanging out in my studio, between bites of fig nut bars and chocolate crinkle cookies. The next few days will be spent making earrings day and night - daytime earring-making for work and evening earring-making for some of my loved ones. And eating more cookies too, of course!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Communique

The above mix of beads in amber, topaz, orange, yellow, and brown are to be used in a custom necklace for a client at my dad's jewelry store. The necklace will be strung randomly so I mixed all the different beads into one big pile. The bright colors make me think warm, tropical thoughts, which are a dreamy distraction on this foggy, cold day. The forecast calls for single digit weather again this weekend, so I'm prepared to spend the time in my cozy little place making presents. Lots and lots of presents!

Check out what some of my crew are up to this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is in the holiday spirit. She put up her Christmas tree this week and it is looking and smelling good!

Kristen Fagan doesn't have much new happening creatively so, she figured this was a good week to bust out an oldie but goodie jewelry design.

Have a lovely weekend and eat lots of cookies! xoxo

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Playing with Wire

Um, perhaps this post should be called "Shopping for Wire" instead? That's all I seem to have accomplished for this week. These beauties just arrived. Lots of pretty colors to help complete lots of new ideas. I love internet shopping.

So, yeah, I haven't made any new wire projects that I can share with you just yet, though I have been busy in my little workshop. You'll see some of them after Christmas--I can't have people seeing their gifts in advance now, can I?--and you'll see the others later on. For now, I must run a quick errand for more supplies and then it's back to crafting and creating, which are two of my favorite things.

Hope you're all staying warm!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Playing with Wire

Check out the colors of the new Econoflex craft and beading wire from Soft Flex - aren't they gorgeous?! The color names, from top to bottom, are: plum, cinnamon red, spring green, autumn brown, steel blue, midnight black, and snow white. Even the names are pretty.

These 30 foot spools arrived about the same time I brought my Christmas decorations home from my mom's basement. It's been two years since I've seen my holiday goodies and last night I was finally able to spend some time unpacking and displaying them. Imagine my delight when the wire colors perfectly matched several of my ornaments. And some of the ornaments still needed something from which to hang. I used 8 inch pieces of spring green and steel blue, secured with a crimp tube of course, to string up this sparkly Santa. He wouldn't stand up for a picture--too many cookies I guess--but he now hangs happily on my little tree. The wire really shines under the little lights and looks so much nicer than fishing line!

At the bottom of the tub of Christmas decor were three boxes of these jewel-toned ball ornaments. I'd forgotten all about them! From what I can remember, they were bought on clearance in 2006. When I found them at the bottom of the box, my tree was already pretty full. They're so small they would get lost among the really big ornaments anyway, so I mixed them all up and dropped handfuls of them into the glass vases on my fireplace mantel. The Econoflex colors go with the ornaments so well that I just had to add it to the display in some fashion, so I used 8 inch pieces of plum, cinnamon red, spring green, and steel blue to add a little something extra to them.

I tied a wire to each ball and used scissors to curl them like ribbon. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but the wire adds A LOT to the display. One vase down, seven to go! Plus, I'll be dreaming up lots of other ways to use this new product around the house...stay tuned!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Comminique

My wish for snow came true! Granted, the snow arrived just in time to totally mess up my plans for the weekend, but I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason and it is better for everyone to be safe - and not drive long distances through a snowstorm - than sorry.

The best thing about the snow, besides making everything sparkle, is finally getting to wear these boots. Yaay!

In blog-world news:

The wonderful Andrew Thornton is having a sale offering up many fabulous treasures. Check out his auctions - only two days left to bid!

Also Michele Goldstein, a fun beadmaker and all-around delightful person, started a new blog that you'll have to visit - you're sure to love her!

And while you're at it, please check out what some of my crew did this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is in holiday mode! Here are her suggestions on how to give a non-stressful and meaningful holiday gift.

Kristen Fagan just got back from her family cruise vacation, what fun!

Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Thursday, December 4, 2008

i heart books

After spotting a pile of books in my bead room, Lorelei asked if I could "recommend any good beading books that might not be as well known as others but offer up some excellent inspiration." An excuse to spend time browsing through my library? Excellent.

The books in the bead room aren't just beading and jewelry books. There are sewing books, knitting books, crochet books, paper crafting books, art books, color books. And two really cool books about symbols borrowed from Bead Boy.

Walking around my bead room, I gathered the books I most enjoy flipping through. I'm not sure how well-known these titles are compared to others, but they're titles that inspire me, piled in the order they were pulled from the shelves:

Much of my beading library sits in cardboard boxes in my mom's basement - they trickle home a few at a time - so there are several other beading books I would add to this list. My friend Jean Campbell has written a ton of fabulous beading books and my friend Laura Levaas worked her little booty off for her book, Beader's Stash, about designs from America's favorite bead shops. There are so many more. Perhaps I'll have to start doing this semi-regularly...

What are some of your favorite beading books? Do you know of any brand new books that must be added to my collection?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Playing with Wire

The Twist 'n' Curl is officially one of my favorite tools. Using it is like meditation. These 3-step beads really are easy as one, two, three. Well, four really, if you count stringing the crystals. They need to be strung first.

One: wrap 22 gauge wire around the Twist 'n' Curl for about 1/2", keeping the coils close together.
Two: wrap the wire back in the other direction, leaving space between coils.
Three: wrap the wire in the original direction, moving the crystals up and spacing them apart while wrapping.

Remove the bead from the tool, tuck in the wire ends, and the bead is finished. My beads were made with Powder Blue Artistic Wire and 4mm Swarovski crystal bicones in white opal champagne, aqua brandy, and rose brandy.

The 3-step beads have a great weight to them. When strung up with Pacific opal crystal rondelles, vintage flower spacers, and natural brass spacers and findings on antique brass beading wire, it makes up a rather pretty bracelet, don't you think?

The color scheme makes me think of a winter wonderland. Perhaps I was inspired by the fact that we're finally getting snow?! Yaay!

Monday, December 1, 2008


It pains me to see my beading table this messy. It means I haven't been doing a lot of beading and that's not cool. I've been wanting to clean it off for a couple of weeks now and it just doesn't seem to happen. It's such a lovely table too. It's huge, it has pretty silver legs, and its lack of sharp corners means l don't hurt myself everyday due to my horrible clumsiness.

Part of the problem is my desk and my beading table are in different rooms, and I do the majority of my work at my desk in front of the computer. When a deadline approaches and a project needs to be made, I go in my bead room, fill a tray with the necessary tools and supplies, and bring it all out to my desk. When I finish the project, the tray goes back on the table and nothing is properly put away. Not good.

It's time to need to clean up my act. I'm going to start this weekend by moving my desk into my bead room. Hopefully working closer to the beads, will mean more time spent creating with them. After the furniture move, the organization will begin. It would be a bit ambitious to try to sort it all during part of one weekend, but I'll at least put a dent in it.

It will be like going on a treasure hunt, no doubt uncovering long-forgotten beads and findings acquired during trips to many bead shows this year. Seeing those goodies again will inspire all kinds of new jewelry designs. And a clean desk might actually mean more time to make jewelry. Oh, it'll be nice...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Playing with Wire

As promised, here is the finished "wonky spiral" project. When I started wrapping the spirals, I expected to make a bracelet, but that's just not how it worked out. I'm pleased with the necklace and now have a new piece to wear for Thanksgiving - yet another reason to be thankful this year.

Thanksgiving is a day full of homemade deliciousness, so how can I not love it?! More than the food though, I enjoy spending the day cooking with my mom, brother, and grandma and seeing my family. It will be a small crowd this year, as most of the family went to Arizona. I'll miss seeing my aunts, uncles, and cousins, but will enjoy securing my spot as the favorite grandchild. Take that cousins - ha!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving! xoxo

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Support your Local Bead Store

Do you have a local bead store, a.k.a. LBS? I've only been to my LBS, Bead Cache, a couple of times in the last few months. I haven't been buying elsewhere, I just haven't needed any supplies. Still, I feel guilty. I've been shopping at Bead Cache for about twelve years now and they've always been there when I needed them with exactly what I need to finish a project. Plus, it is always a treat to talk with Keriann and Heidi!

Luckily, it is time to start making presents. Surely I'll need a clasp or some jump rings or just the right color of seed bead to finish a project or two. When I do, I'll head over to Bead Cache for some instant gratification. In addition to the things on my list, I'll no doubt find a few new beads that I don't need, but won't be able to resist.

If you have a LBS, please be sure to support them this holiday season. Happy bead shopping!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh, Edward Cullen...

I won't deny it. I stood in line with all the fifteen-year-old girls Friday night in order to get a good seat for Twilight. Seven of us met up to see the movie and since I live close to the theater I got there first to score our spot in line. I felt really old standing with all the teens and tweens, but they liked my newly re-inked hair!

The movie was fun. It made me want to read the book again. Robert Pattinson is dreamy as Edward, greasy hair and all, and I look forward to seeing more of Taylor Lautner as Jacob in future movies! One of the most entertaining parts of the movie was listening to the audience. They all screamed when characters appeared on screen for the first time. It was silly.

Seeing the movie was a great start to the weekend. And, for the first time in several weeks, I was able to have a real weekend. I went to a book signing, picked up Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark (as recommended by Cynthia Thornton), saw lots of friends, baked, cleaned, and lounged on the couch watching a movie that I've had from Netflix for about three months now. I made a small dent in the ongoing organization of my studio by sorting all of my crystals. And I even worked a little, but the rest of the weekend was so relaxing, that I didn't mind at all!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Communique

I was doing so well. I went to the Sonoma Bead Festival and didn't buy a thing. I went to the New York Bead Festival and only bought a pair of pliers. But it's been a few months now and I find that I get a bit depressed when I don't buy beads on a semi-regular basis. So ... I bought some beads.

I blame Sonoma. I got home from my trip to that charming locale and read an email from Sarah Moran of z-beads.com. When Sarah sends an email, it means she has new beads available for purchase. Usually they're sold out by the time I get around to looking at her website. Luck was on my side that night though, as this set, conveniently named Napa Valley Merlot, was still available:

Aren't they gorgeous?! They arrived yesterday. It was an excellent mail day! I haven't decided what to do with them just yet. I'll work on that this weekend and I'll drink some Merlot as inspiration.

I'll also drink to toast Bead Boy's new title as President of the Rocky Mountain Bead Society. I went with him to Denver last night for the "coronation." The members of the RMBS are great fun and they put on an amazing bead bazaar every spring. They all seemed pretty excited about their new president and I know Dustin is happy about it too. Congratulations Mr. President!!

Check out what some of my crew were up to this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is walking in the Breast Cancer 3day this weekend.
There is still time to donate!

Kristen Fagan and the family went to the fountain hills festival of arts & crafts last weekend.

Good luck Sara - hope the new shoes are good to your feet!

Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Playing with Wire

Today I played with the Spiral Maker, a fun companion tool for the WigJig. The Spiral Maker is supposed to make flat spirals (as seen here), not these layered spirals that I made. I followed the instructions and tried many times, but I just can't seem to make a nice, flat spiral. Oh well, I like the messy look. It feels more organic to me. I also accidentally made a long coiled tube. I like the look of the tube and might try to make some more...

After I mastered how to make the "wrong" thing on the Spiral Maker, I took it to the next level. For the silver and amethyst spirals, I used the Twist N Curl to make a tiny coil of 28-gauge wire. I made two lengths of coil, cut the first length in half, and cut the second length into ten 1/2" pieces. I strung the 1/2" pieces, separated with 4mm round crystals, onto dark blue 22-gauge Artistic Wire before using the spiral maker. I used the longer pieces of coil to make two smaller spirals. And I did something similar with the green and dark blue wires.

Now, what to do with all of these funky spirals? I've got a few ideas. Check back next Wednesday and I'll show you what I make!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lunch Date

My brother Dean came over for lunch today and brought Remi with him. Isn't she cute? She is the sweetest dog, relaxed and super cuddly. When she was only a few months old, Remi stayed with me for a weekend and, thanks to Ginger, nearly lost an eye. Now that she's all grown up, Remi and Ginger have a healthy respect for each other, meaning Remi stays as far from Ginger as possible. She's smart too!

It was great having guests over. I've been working so hard the last few weeks that I feel like I haven't seen many of my friends and family. That's about to change though. I turned in a huge freelance project yesterday, so I actually had time to cook last night. I've been saving recipes that get emailed to me courtesy of Real Simple magazine. Last night I tried their chili recipe. Typically I wouldn't use a recipe when making chili, but this one had a special ingredient that grabbed my attention: dark chocolate. You add the chocolate right before serving and it's amazing what it does for the flavor. The chili was good up to that point and the chocolate made it about a billion times better. Dean even liked it, which means it must be quite excellent.

With one big freelance project turned in, one to finish up tonight, and a few weeks before the next one is due, I might actually get to spend some time making jewelry in my studio. I still have beads that I purchased at Bead and Button in 2007 that are waiting to be used in projects. Plus, the new beads that I just couldn't resist last week will hopefully arrive in my mailbox in the next few days, so I'll be able to play with those as well. I'll show you a picture when they get here. You're going to love them. I know I will!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Communique

I wish it would hurry up and snow already. There was a light dusting on my deck this morning. It wasn't much - it melted before I could even take a picture - but at least it was something. We usually get snow beginning in September and it's making me crazy that we haven't had any yet. I know many would argue that the fact that I'm wishing for snow is proof enough of my insanity, but I can't help it. I want a snowstorm!

While I hope for some big flakes to fall, check out what my crew (who live in a considerably warmer climate) are up to:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) was in California this week.

Kristen Fagan finished her autumn leaves painting. She started it back in May and finally finished it this week!

Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall in Wine Country

One of my favorite things (there are many!) about traveling to Sonoma for work is the drive to and from the office. The vineyards and rolling hills are gorgeous, and the scenery fills my head with all sorts of romantic thoughts. The most noticeable difference between the landscapes of Northern Colorado and Napa Valley, besides the elevation, is just how green everything is in Northern California. Even as winter approaches, the fields and hillsides remain all sorts of bright, vibrant shades of green and it is just lovely. 

About five minutes from the office there is a stretch of road lined with huge trees and their leaves blanket the pavement with a beautiful canopy. The way the light filters through is simply magical. I was hoping that traffic would be slow this morning so that I could stop and snap a picture, but the semi-truck driving very close behind me wasn't going to allow for that. 

In just a few short hours, I'll make one last stop at Broadway Market and then Sara and I will leave the charm of Wine Country behind as we travel home to different kinds of beauty, the desert for Sara and the mountains for me.

Keep your fingers crossed that we don't get lost as we drive to the Oakland airport! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Playing with Wire

Have you tried the Twist N Curl tool yet? If not, I highly recommend it. It's fast, fun, and meditative and there are so many fun things to make with it. I have the Twist N Curl mini-set, which includes two tools that make tiny little wire coils. Coiling wire with this tool is quite simple and Sara just offered up a great tutorial on her blog. Click here to see it.

I used 28-gauge Artistic Wire to make what I'm calling "triple beads" with the smaller of the two Twist N Curl tools in the set. I made the initial coil, strung it on wire, and coiled it again. Then I strung that coil on wire and coiled it again. Voila - triple beads! 

The wire colors black, dark blue, gun metal, and peacock blue happen to go really well with a bead from my friend Rashan of Jones Art Glass, so I strung them all up with some brass and black Czech glass rondelles, and now I have a funky new necklace - yaay!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I'm in beautiful Sonoma, California this week, making jewelry at Soft Flex Company headquarters. I get to work in the Gallery with all of the pretty stones and pearls! Being surrounded by beads is always a good thing, but the added bonus is getting to spend my days with Rosa and Katrina. Thanks for making it such a fun day girls!

We talked about lots of things, including the Twilight Series. Katrina said she was going to read the first book again before the movie comes out next week - a brilliant idea that I'm going to copy - and I'm pretty sure we convinced Rosa to see the movie! They're both just as sweet as can be, even if they were teasing me about my obsession with sandwiches from Broadway Market.

The sandwiches at the market really are the best. They're made to order, you get to choose from a vast assortment of meat and cheese, and you get a huge sandwich for about six bucks. Nothing wrong with that!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Communique

Hooray for Friday! I don't know about you, but I worked my booty off this week. So I picked up some special chocolates as a little treat to myself. Aren't they pretty? I picked them up at a cute little place just down the street called Simply Chocolate. The chocolates were much more expensive than the half-price Halloween candy I was planning to buy, but I figure I'm saving all sorts of money now that gas prices are lower, so it all works out, right?!

While I do my best to not eat all these tasty tidbits in one sitting, please check out what some of my crew did this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is knitting on a spool using Soft Flex Wire.

Kristen Fagan voted! Everyday is voting day. We get to cast votes for many important issues on a daily basis.

Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My First Attempt with the Kumihimo Disk

The universe decided today was my day to learn Kumihimo. Works for me.

I started by using the group of yarn that came packaged with the Kumihimo disk. I highly recommend that first-timers begin this way. The yarn is a good fiber to practice with and now Ginger has a colorful new toy.

Then I felt a little bit creative and decided to make a bracelet with beading wire and seed beads. I used 24 inches each of four different wires: Soft Flex Beading Wire in Dark Blue, Extreme 925 wire, Metallics wire in Antique Brass, and Soft Touch wire strung with size 8/o seed beads. The top of the Kumihimo board has numbers and little dots that help you keep track of where to place the wires. It's actually quite easy and even meditative once you get the hang of it.

Here's a shot of my braid in progress (the braid comes out the bottom of the disk and rests inside the glass vase) with the bright blue Colorado sky as its backdrop. It must be said that Colorado has over 300 days of sunshine a year. Sure, it is only about 40 degrees outside, but it is still bright and sunny! Anyway, I placed a binder clip at the end of the braid and attached a Bead Stopper to the end of every wire in order the keep a good amount of tension.

And here is the finished bracelet. I used a 3mm crimp tube to connect all eight wires to an eye pin, then strung a cone onto the eye pin and formed a wire wrapped loop to attach each end of the braid to one half of the clasp. If you look closely, you can see where I messed up a couple of times (I probably turned the disk the wrong way or something), but all in all, a pretty successful first encounter with the Kumihimo board. I'll definitely be trying this project again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Playing with Wire

Remember the CZ pendant I made in New York City? Well, I made two more and I happen to think all three color combinations are really pretty. Thank you for helping pick the colors, Sara!

I'll be making ornaments for several people on my holiday list. I usually don't start shopping for the holidays until the last minute (surprise, surprise), so it feels refreshing to begin the process early.

Want to make your own ornaments? Now you can. Step-by-step instructions are available here, on the Soft Flex Company website. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Have you voted yet?

(Oh Wigjig, is there anything you can't do??)

Did you vote? I turned my ballot in today and am proudly wearing my "I Voted!!!" sticker. If you haven't already voted, please do. Your vote matters!

After you vote, please visit my friend Sara's blog and enter her November giveaway. I know you love giveaways and Sara's is really good.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Communique

Happy Halloween!

Ninety-nine percent of the time, it is snowing in Colorado on Halloween day. Right now it's close to eighty degrees outside - perfect weather for all sorts of trick or treating.

Before you eat entirely too much sugar, please check out what some of my crew did this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) shows you how to use the Twist N Curl to make colorful metal beads.

Kristen Fagan shares her favorite "go to" jewelry set. It is casual, chic, super light weight and can be worn with black and brown.

Have a hauntingly fun weekend! xoxo

And the Winner is...

Congratulations Gibson! I'll be in touch...

Thank you to everyone who entered the lottery! (And a special shout out to Karen and Debby who entered every single day!) The number of entries was quite impressive. So much so, that I'm considering another lottery in the Spring. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Halloween! Be safe and have fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing with Wire: Work Hardening

During the New York show, one of my favorite things to demo was work hardening. The newbie beaders were fascinated by how quickly and easily it happened. Don't know what work hardening is? I wasn't sure of the technical definition (I really just enjoy seeing the results), so I went to the Design School at Soft Flex's website to find out and now I know. Check out the great explanation here.

Anyway, I was playing around with the Wigjig Olympus-Lite, trying to come up with a design that will complement my vampire costume for Halloween. Here's what I did. It's loosely based on a piece worn by Bela Lugosi in Dracula.

I placed my pegs and used about 24" of wire to make the piece. I began by making a starter loop with my new wire looping pliers (Believe it or not, this pair of pliers was the ONLY thing I purchased at the NYC bead show. I don't know how I survived this long without them!), and started wrapping from there. When I finished wrapping and popped the piece off of the Wigjig, this is how it looked:

I tried to photograph it from the side so you could see how wonky it is when it comes off the Wigjig, but it's hard to tell. Basically, the piece was quite curvy and the six points were twisted in different directions. I formed a double wire wrapped loop to connect the top loops and turn them into a bail. Then, I began the work hardening process using my nylon jaw pliers. They're shown below (left) along with the wire looping pliers.
To work harden using nylon jaw pliers, you just grip a section of the wire piece with the pliers and it magically hardens. I worked the pliers all around the piece and it looked like this:

It was flatter and firmer at that point, but still not finished. So, I pulled out my chasing hammer and wire whacker to complete the process. Now it's completely flat and work hardened! I just need to dig through my crystal stash to find some deep red crystals to add to the piece and string it onto some black Soft Flex Beading Wire and/or a red ribbon and my costume will be complete!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My mom might not be pleased...

Today I had an appointment with the fabulous Beth at Studio Be! Studio Be is so cool. I love it all, from the relaxing "bath house" to the pull-down blow dryers. This was my third trip to see Beth and, as usual, she did not disappoint.

Beth asked what I wanted to do with my color and I asked for drama. Here's what she did:

Isn't it awesome?!? I freaking love it!!! (Seriously, do I ever use this many exclamation points?) Yes, my hair is blue and green! And orange, hot pink, purple, and copper in addition to my natural very dark brown. To add all the different colors, Beth did what she calls "inking." The bright colors will fade out in a few weeks, leaving almost blond and copper highlights.

Did I mention that I LOVE IT! Thank you Beth - you ROCK!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

oh las vegas...

I can't really tell a whole lot about my trip to Las Vegas (you know how the saying goes), but I can say it was a blast. My cousins, brother, and I went for two nights and had a crazy good time.

A few notes about Vegas:
  • The pool at Mandalay Bay is delightful
  • Breakfast at The House of Blues is delicious
  • The Lions at MGM are amazing
  • The lobby at THE Hotel smells fabulous
  • It's best to just steer clear of the Luxor
That's about it. Now I need to catch up on my sleep...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Communique

It's almost Halloween and my little nieces Emma and Madison can hardly wait! At a family dinner last night, they modeled several different costumes and the witches were my favorite. When I pulled out the camera, they started posing as though they were riding brooms. Their imaginations are incredible!

I'm pretty excited for Halloween too. I know it is going to be a very memorable weekend, in part because Rebecca and Greg are throwing a Halloween party. The only problem is I'm still undecided on a costume. I'm not too worried though. I'm off to Vegas this weekend, where I'm sure to find inspiration galore.

While I'm away, please check out what some of my crew did this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is back from the Soft Flex Glass Art & Bead Festival.

Kristen Fagan created a special gift for 3 important women in her life. She picked out one of her original paintings turned resin pendant and then beaded a necklace to match the pendant design.

And remember, only one week left to enter the lottery. Good luck to you all and have a lovely weekend! xoxo

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I heart New York!

Fall in NYC is beautiful and the weather was perfect. The skyline (above) and the street view (below) were both taken from the balcony of my friend Cord's apartment. He lives in Hell's Kitchen on a lovely street.

Cord is a family friend and a wonderful guy who was nice enough to put up with me for six days. His entire apartment is about a quarter of the size of my place, but I felt totally at home. Cord built a loft for his bed and hung a hammock beneath it, showing off what a master space-planner he is. Nice work Cord!! Thank you for being the perfect host.

In addition to sharing his space with me, Cord introduced me to some great eateries, like his local pub and his favorite pizza spot. My favorite was the Burger Joint. It is a tiny place hidden behind a velvet curtain in a fancy hotel. You would never see it if you didn't know it was there and the burgers were super tasty!

On the last night of the bead show, after we packed up the booth, several members of the Soft Flex team went to a Korean BBQ place per Sara's recommendation. Sara did us proud - the food was excellent and it was fun (and hot!) to have them cook right in front of you. I ordered the rib eye and highly recommend it. It was thinly sliced and cooked with onions and reminded me of Sukiyaki, a Japanese dish that my grandma always used to make. Delicious!

Sara and Mike enjoying their Korean BBQ

And finally, who did we spot while waiting in line for tickets to see Avenue Q? The Naked Cowboy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Playing with Wire

Last weekend was the Soft Flex Company Glass Art and Bead Festival in New York City. The show was busy and super fun! I got to meet several members of The Bead Society of Greater New York. They're a fabulous, feisty group and they did an amazing job organizing the make-it-take-its. I saw several show attendees proudly wearing their new creations!

It was fun to get to know my co-workers a little bit better at the show. They playfully dubbed me "new girl" and teased me a lot when things went wrong in the booth. Lucky for me, nothing really went wrong! The Soft Flex booth was actually the Soft Flex room, right across the hall from the main ballroom. Below is the display of some really lovely gemstones that we had to offer. I was good to my budget and didn't buy anything, but there were many strands of beads that were terribly hard to resist.

I think the only reason I was able to keep money in my pocket is I was so busy at the demo table, thank goodness. We had a table full of tools and wire and I was there to teach people about the tools and show them what they can create. The Twist n Curls were a huge hit, as were WigJigs, Knitting Spools, and Crimping Pliers. I especially enjoyed teaching new beaders about crimping. Their faces lit up when they realized how easily they could make jewelry. There were a lot of first-timers who just happened to walk in off the street and I know there are now a lot more beaders in the world.

When I wasn't demoing a specific technique, I was working on this flower pendant:

It is a bit of a different shape than the piece I was working on last week (I forgot to take that piece with me on the trip, so I'll finish it up for another post), but the concept is the same. I found a pattern in the Wonderful, Wearable Wire Book (which is a book I need to add to my library right away!) and wrapped it with 20-gauge Artistic Wire in Amethyst. Then I picked out 4mm CZ rondelles in Clear, Lavender and Garnet as well as 5x7mm CZ briolettes in Clear, and used 29-gauge Non-Tarnish Silver wire to wrap the beads around the wire base.

I'm really pleased with how it came out. It is about 2.5" by 2.5" and would make a stunning pendant or a glittery holiday ornament. I have an idea in mind of how I'm going to turn the piece into a finished project. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Playing with Wire

As promised, here is my first experiment with the WigJig. This isn't my design. I'm not ashamed to admit that instructions for this design are included in the literature that comes with the tool, but hey, I had to start somewhere right?

Making this little piece was quick and fun. I used 20 gauge Artistic Wire in Amethyst. This color is very subtly purple and just might be my new favorite wire tone. I liked the wire flower as is, but thought it needed a bit more, so I'm wrapping the petals with 28 gauge Artistic Wire in Non-Tarnish Silver and a combination of Crystal Moonlight, Crystal Copper, and Light Amethyst 2mm crystal rounds. I've only wrapped two of the four petals so far, but I'm going to finish the other two and add another layer of embellishment.

I'll show you the finished piece next week. Right now I'm on my way to NYC for the Soft Flex Company Glass Art and Bead Festival. If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello!