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!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ten-four Good Buddies!

One of the many things I love about my dear friend Rebecca is her ability to throw a fabulous party. Last year she shared her birthday party with her fellow Libras and the term Luscious Libra was born.

Rebecca (looking lovely below during her first trip to Las Vegas) is the ultimate Luscious Libra. Her birthday is October 4th, but she'll never tell it like that. To Rebecca, and all who know her, her birthday is "ten-four good buddy!" See, she makes everything more fun!

Rebecca and I got together for birthday sushi last week and I gave her this bracelet. I wrapped aquamarine rondelles, a crystal bicone and a vintage Czech glass bead onto a natural brass filigree piece and topped off the two strands with a Bakelite button that I bought years ago in Seattle. Bracelets are always a little tricky unless you know the exact size of the recipient's wrist and I totally lucked out. It was such a treat to spend time with Rebecca, as always!

Two days later, I got to celebrate some more with Aslynn, another October 4th baby. Aslynn is my brother's girlfriend and I'm so enjoying getting to know her. She's smart and beautiful and, when she said she wanted a pedicure for her birthday, I was more than willing to tag along. There is nothing better than a Signature Pedi from Two Pairs! After the pampering, we met my mom for lunch at Bisetti's in Old Town. For desert, Aslynn got their homemade cheesecake...

... and, as usual, I got a cannoli. So yummy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Communique

It's finally starting to feel like fall. The outside thermometer reads 43 degrees and the trees are all shades of brilliant. The weekend might bring our first snow of the season, so I'm enjoying the colors while I can - it's beautiful here in Colorado.

Oh, the plastic tub? That's the official lottery collection cup! As you can see, the lottery is green - the entry forms are strips cut from pages of my Get Fuzzy calendar (my sweet dad gifts me one every year) and the plastic tub is recycled from cotton candy eaten at my friend's carnival-themed birthday party.

Thank you all for participating. There are already over fifty entries! Impressive. Keep on commenting - let's make that cup overflow.

Also, please check out what some of my crew are talking about this week:

Sara Hardin (AKA SoftFlexGirl) is all about pink for breast cancer awareness: pink soft flex, pink cz's, pink bead stoppers & pink projects!

Kristen Fagan finds inspiration from one of Soft Flex Company's free online beading projects. Check out how she took the design idea and made it her own!

Have a lovely weekend. xoxo

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beads on Project Runway

While Tim Gunn was visiting Korto last night on Project Runway, there was brief mention of Korto's beadwork. As soon as I heard it, I went straight to Bravo's website to look for more details. I couldn't find any information about Korto's jewelry creations, but I did find some pictures.

The necklaces look pretty fabulous. I love that Korto chose big, chunky beads and such a beautiful color palette. I wonder how she created the pendant she wore during Tim's visit (assuming that she did). I wish I could zoom in and see the pieces up close. Luckily, Bravo will replay the episode about a billion times between now and next week's finale, so I'll keep my eyes open and my finger on the pause button.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

goodie box

The UPS man is fast becoming my friend for two reasons: one, he smells really good (I don't know what cologne he wears, but it's nice) and two, he delivered this box of tools and wire from Soft Flex.

Included in the box:
Wow! I don't know where to start, but I've come up with a plan. In order to keep myself on track with learning how to use all the fun tools, I'm going to post results of my experiments every Wednesday. Starting next week, look for a new-to-me technique, a fun wire design, or even instructions for a finished project.

Have you made projects with any (or all) of these tools? Do you have any tips to offer on how to use the tools or any favorite projects that you've made using them? If so, please feel free to share!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A little bit of swagger...

Just received the cover for Create Jewelry: Glass - isn't it pretty? I love the design. To the women of the Interweave Press book department: nice work!

The Glass book is the fourth and final book in the Create Jewelry series. It will be available in March of 2009 and information will be up soon on Amazone and Interweave's site. Though I enjoyed making the projects for all four books, the Glass book was by far my favorite. I started this book not long after finishing the Stone book, so I was worried about being burned out. Luckily, I had so many different shapes, styles, and colors of glass beads to play with that my imagination went wild. And making over twenty projects was great therapy.

I'd also like to announce that I'm a DOY. What's that? A Designer of the Year for Beadwork magazine. DOY is a new feature for 2009 and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. I'll have a project in every issue of Beadwork in 2009 and my work will be featured with that of some amazing women: Jean Campbell, Lisa Kan, Marcia DeCoster, and Scarlett Lanson. In all honesty, I can't believe that I was asked, so I'm incredibly flattered. Here's a little preview of my project for the February/March issue - love that circular square stitch:

Friday, October 3, 2008

oh happy day!

What did I discover during lunch today?

SEPHORA! I'm super excited. It will be five minutes from my house. FIVE MINUTES. Oh, it's going to be dangerous...

Also thrilling is the number of entries already in my lottery. A warm and fuzzy thanks to you all - you rock! Remember that every comment you leave equals one entry. Please be sure to post enough information so that I'll be able to contact you when you win.

Have a lovely weekend. xoxo

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The luck of the draw.

Have you read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson?

Back in high school my peers and I were divided into groups so that we could do class presentations covering the frightening tale. One group decided to hold their own version of the story's lottery, only the "winner" was to be pelted with water balloons instead of stones. Our teacher put a stop to it after the first balloon was tossed. Luckily, the classmate was a poor shot and only my pant leg got wet. Yes, I drew the black dot. Thankfully, m
y luck has improved since then.

Now I want to hold a lottery of my own. One with a happy ending. One where the winner gets a personalized copy of Create Jewelry: Stones:

AND a spool of Soft Flex Metallics Copper Color wire. How lucky is that?!

Want to win? All you have to do is leave your name in a comment on my blog sometime (or many times) between now and noon (mountain time) October 31st. I'll collect all the names and draw a winner and someone will get a Halloween treat!

Do you feel lucky?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

hello rock-tober

With the calendar change this morning, I was treated to the Rockstar Kitty you see above. Hello Kitty's monthly costume change adds colorful inspiration to my studio wall and, because she rocks, HK has prompted me to think about a few other things that rock:

Project Runway. Everyone I know has watched Project Runway at least once. Even my brother, though he will never admit it. Tonight the designers compete for the final three. My predictions are Jerell, Korto, and Leann. I don't know who tonight's guest judge will be, but last week's was LL Cool J. He definitely rocks. Mmm.

October 1st. No doubt there are many reasons why the first day of October is special. For me, it has to do with a tradition passed along to me from my friend Rebecca. According to R, on October 1st you switch to your fall/winter set of linens. (You switch back to your spring/summer set on April 1st.) It's a small guilty pleasure and a good way to welcome the fall season. Apparently Ginger prefers the spring/summer set...

Beads. Of course beads are on this list. I love beads. I work with beads everyday in some form or another. Therefore, I even dream about beads. And, I write about beads. Amazingly enough, there are four (soon to be five) beading books with my name on them. I still pinch myself when I see my books in the bookstore! I'm grateful that I've had so many opportunities to build my career around beads. I'd like to share that gratitude with you, so check in tomorrow to see how you can win your own personalized copy of Create Jewelry: Stones.