Thursday, January 4, 2018

Here we come, 2018!

Happy New Year, Beady friends! May this year be filled with love, hope, happiness, health and all the good things one can wish for. Personally, I can't complain. As far as I can tell, this is going to be another wonderful year filled with lots of travel, a veritable amount of shinies with holes- aka beads, and surfaces to stitch them on. What else can one hope for? I am healthy, my family is healthy, other than Baby Karl having staples in his little ear, all is well, and the staples no longer itch, so I can honestly say I am happy as a clam. So is he, because by not scratching, he does not need to wear the cone of shame.

Sweet Sammy is entering her golden years with a surprising amount of grace and dignity. A whole lot of hopping and barking too. There are old lady dog cankles and creaky backs to deal with on some less fun days, but hey, life is such. May that be the worst to ever happen to any aging beauty, canine or human.
As for Paul and I, our whiskers are getting gray a bit too. I would be fine with that if they were existing whiskers, but in my case the real surprise is when I find them where they ought not grow in the first place.  Again, life is such. But all in all, we are doing pretty spiffy.
Thanks to a large number of fortunate circumstances, we got to go back to visit my family in Hungary and visit our best friend in France. In fact, the past two years really made up for the previous ten, when I did not get to see anyone. Good things are worth waiting and working for, one might say, which might be true. On the other hand all the hard work and waiting does doodley squat without some luck, so I am not going to get on a high horse and pretend that I deserve all the wonderful things that have been happening to me. In general, I don't think anyone deserve anything any more than other people. Hard work and patience are virtues indeed, ones a person should cultivate during her temporal existence out of the sake of joy they cause, but they are no guarantee for anything. And so I am all the more grateful for things like being able to travel to Europe.

I have been to the Beaders Best Show in Stuttgart, as the featured guest artist this spring. The good people of Perlen Poesie who organize this event even featured me on the cover of the summer issue of the magazine. The show was fun, and I got to meet beady peeps from all over Europe.
Here is Claudia Cattaneo signing an autograph on my back, with Joanne Zammit next to me. I got to spend time with Joanne, one of the best things about that trip. She is not only a wonderful artist and a designer with an eye for perfection, but smart and interesting! We went sightseeing together.

Here is a picture with Joanne, Thorsten Grotke-Wegner and Julie Romero. If you are not familiar with their names, it's time to look them up. You are looking at the beady future!
Another exciting thing that happened to me this past year was creating five more online courses for Interweave publishing to follow up the previous year's two videos. Kristal Wick was in charge of the process, and her expert guidance helped me through this challenge.I had a wicked cold at the time, and weighed 30lbs more. Consequently, all the new people I meet this year think that I am "taller" (isn't that nice), look "better" (hehehe) and sound better. I am going to just say that I haven't seen any of the videos because I can't imagine torture more acutely tuned into tormenting my ego than watching myself for hours, but I was told I did good. The crew liked me, even the sound guy did who had to listen to me blowing my nose and gurgle for days.But the videos are selling, and I am told that viewers find them useful and inspiring, which makes me very pleased.

I now have a deeper understanding and admiration for movie magic, and seeing my beautiful but somewhat overly rotund shape scared me into instantly dropping some weight.

 Hell, who am I kidding. It took countless hours of slo-mo hedgehog - like scuffling, an activity I like to refer to as running, a lot of green smoothies abundant in kale and the initial very strict diet.

I have been all over the US, traveling  a lot to bead stores and bead societies and retreats, hugged many of you, fellow beady peeps and had grand times. It was a good year, and the way I see it, 2018 is shaping into being another one just like it. For one, I get to go back to France. This time for a beady cause non other than a grand tour of "Beads, Bordeaux &; Chateaux".  
Let me show you the projects I will get to teach.
Monastery Windows at Dusk
 Here we have the super model herself wearing this exciting new piece...
 On the Nature of Daylight Pendant. Yes, double ropes of size15 CRAW. You are seeing it right. I am thinking: there is nothing better than hanging out at a French castle, drinking tasty wine in good company, while  picking away at never ending craw. It is a paradisaical vision of mine to devise exquisite tortures for all who are willing to submit to my beady rule. Muwahahaha!
 It is so worth the effort, though. The finished piece is like the last rays of the sun shining through Gothic windows. I think at almost 38, I can admit to a life long obsession with the aesthetics of Catholic churches. May they be Romanesque or Gothic, whenever I am near one, I go in, walk around, go to the crypt if it's allowed; and in general; breathe it in.  Musty dead saints and all. The macabre opulence, the rich history of power, suffering and divine joy, the wrongness and rightness of it excites me, and remain a central element of inspiration in my admittedly somewhat twisted little world.

No great surprise that the third, last piece in the collection is called Relic. It's a set of earrings, which is exciting to me, because I personally don't care for earrings, and whenever once in a while I design a set, they are ok, but not outstandingly so. This one is beyond ok. I like it. Not only will it do in a design sense, but I actually like wearing it, and it flows like magic. It is a good feeling when things I make flow like magic.
You see, sometimes the nicest things are not the most complicated things. I know for me it took years to "edit" my beady self from wanting to do too much in every piece. It is all too easy to hurl everything onto one design. It is a lot harder to strip things down to the most desirable elements where every bead matters.
Meanwhile, as you are reading this, listen to Max Richter's  On the Nature of Daylight.
Thank goodness, you can for 10 hours if you feel the need for it. I have listened to this a lot last year, even named the pendant after it.
 Here we have the pendant in situ. I ran out of models a long time ago. It is a major pain in the butt to be the photographer and model at the same time and I don't like it. Models, please knock on my door. I miss the days of taking pictures of other people.

Now, onto the things I have seen in France last time. This is of course the tip of the iceberg of the images stored in my noggin. I could stay in bed all day and visualize inspiring architecture and art and have a great time. But I wanted to give you a window into what gets me excited.
And to tell you, that travel is good for the soul.
This trip is in dire need of adventurers signing up. I am saying this of course having an ulterior motive: I want to go, and it will only happen if there are enough people signing up.

 Just in case you have been wanting to go to France and you can wing this trip, please sign up quick. I promise we will get into all sorts of trouble. I have a way of doing that. Only the good kind though.

At any rate, here is a doorway. This door is leading in and out of  the courtyard of my friend's house in Dijon. It might just be the most magnificent door I know. I have come to know this door, having visited three times. The stories it could tell, if it was able to speak... May this door symbolize for me-and throughout me for you too- all the good things that this new year shall bring.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Welcome to my gallery of things that only exist for their own purpose...

.... What do I mean on this title? Well, I truly enjoy coming up with exciting class projects and kits. It's a challenge to make up a design that can be recreated over and over, taught to a great number of beady people in a workshop format. A project that features interesting elements, techniques, stuff people haven't done before.

To me, that's about ten times as hard as sitting down with my own stash featuring one of a kind components, like semi precious stones I hoard, or a vintage purse frame, and then just letting loose and not ever thinking about the future of this piece as a project.

And as I was saying in my previous post, I oftentimes get reprimanded for not making everything, every part of my creativity accessible to everyone's needs. Because somehow my creativity has become public property. I don't resent this fact. At all. I love my life, sharing my creativity pays my bills and feeds my pups.
And not only are they well fed, they get to have a wonderful life. So do I and my husband Paul. And that's why I have no regrets and in general, I am happy as a clam.

But there will always be things that I just make for the fun of it. Just to experiment, to play, to learn new things, to breath inbetween all my trips, all my responsibilities, and I decided that from here on, I will stop apologizing for not making this little section, this tiny part of me not available for public consumption. Without me making these things for the sheer joy of just creating, the rest won't happen.

Without further ado, I give you all the things that are only available for your viewing pleasure and to serve as inspiration and beyond that they just exist because why not. Some of these I will keep, some I will give away to the right person, and that has little to do why they exist in the first place. They exist because making them pleases me.

 From top: andamooka opal bracelet, wooden carved Buddha bracelet and a bracelet with eyes. Eyes are by Wayne Robbins, the bronze components are by Wayne's wife Judie Mountain, andamooka opal by Althea Rose Duffy.
 Three opal bracelets. On top a boulder opal, then a synthetic opal surrounded by Ethiopian opals, then on the bottom another boulder opal with Ethiopian opals. Varying sources of materials, do not recall the sources.

 A Colombian amber focal surrounded by watch bittsies and Ethiopian opals.
This sterling silver focal came from my friend, Marcia Balonis. It was a gift.

 This piece features a Russian enameled Virgin Mary with a homunculus Baby Jesus. I called it "For a Catacomb Saint" and it was featured in the summer edition of Perlen Poesie.
 Here we have the bracelet with the eyes again.

 Closeups of some of the pieces I introduced before.

 This wrap bracelet also features one of Althea Rose Duffy's opals. It's quite magical. But then, as you might have figured out, I do have an opal habit.
 This vintage Judith Lieber purse frame came from Beads by Blanche. I wanted to make something for myself that was suitable for occasions when dragging my 15lbs bottomless black hole of a "purse" was simply not the way to go. Since opals are not the only thing I stash like a dragon and I have a veritable arsenal of ammolites as well, I figured I would bedeck the whole thing in ammolite cabochons. It is satisfyingly heavy and wonderful from every angle. I am very pleased with myself.
 Look at them shine. Since this is my latest creation, I am particularly fond of it for the time being.

 And it's pretty on the inside too. I lined it with pewter lambskin.
 And here we have two more pictures of my synthetic opal bracelet. It fits so well. Paul got me the opal at the Rocky Mountain Bead Society's bazaar last year, and I stashed it, called it precious and fondled it a lot before I gave up on the infinite possibilities of what it could have become and picked a linear path for it. It has become my favorite piece to wear this year.
And that's the end of it. I think the lesson is that I am happy to share everything I make even if it's just show and tell. May it serve as some sort of inspiration.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Class Offerings for 2018

It's time to plan ahead for next year's classes!
My teaching schedule is full till the second half of 2019, so I figured it is time to post about the new projects that are coming everyone's way from Alaska to Florida and everywhere else inbetween. 
Let's start with this Mandragora:

In the center of this composition we have a delightful precious metal clay hand sculpted medallion by the talented Cynthia Thornton.  The bracelet has the feel of enchantment, playfulness and childlike innocence. Kind of like a magical garden. It's a great project for those who want to experiment using fabrics in bead embroidery, and those who want to play with a more three dimensional approach. Or just those who think the piece is so darn cute, they just need to make one for themselves.

Then, we have the Heart of the Ocean:

This piece may seem pretty straightforward, but it took a whole lot of planning. The older I get the more I appreciate how my brain works..
Oftentimes people ask me how do I come up with things I come up with. Is there a long process of trial and error, how many times I need to make things to perfect them, and such.

The truth is by the time I sit down to make something, I have already thought it out. Most of the times I have assembled the potential suspects ( beads that will get used, any other material needed) way ahead of time. I have spent hours constructing the piece in my head. The way things look at this point in my mind's eye, is like a 3D object I can rotate back and forth, observe, but it's still foggy in places.
So then I start sketching. 
This really helps to finalize the little details, add anything that was missing and change things up, if needed. By the time I start beading, the piece already exists. Which is great, because doing things this way allows me to move in a pretty speedy fashion. 

What I wanted to achieve with this  particular project was to create a deep, dark greenish, tealish, glow, something you would see floating in water, looking upward. Also, I always loved malachite combined with amazonite, but let's face it, some things make great one of a kind pieces and impossible class materials.
Because no one is going to pay $350 for a class kit. Understandably so. Also, there are just materials one can not source in quantity. So how to create a feel that I loved about that precious combination of deep greens and blues? This is my answer to my own question. It does glow, and it is aquatic, and after watching the Titanic, it even looks a little bit like the giant blue diamond in the movie.

Now the best part for me is that I successfully created a piece that is entirely usefully multi-functional. It goes from pendant on a rope to slinky wrap bracelet. It was not an easy task to make this happen. The shape had to be just right, the weight and feel had to be just right. But it worked!

Now, on to Kiss my Bass.

I think the main selling points for this project as a class are twofold: 
First of all,every time you get a compliment on your new bracelet,you can go like:  "Thank you, it's called Kiss my Bass."
Then of course the obvious: Just look at that sterling silver badass bass among the aqua fuchsia waves! Husbands all across the country will be finally ecstatic about their wives beading workshops. Yes, Honey! Go make that bass bracelet! 
Ok, jokes aside, there isn't anything super fancy technique-wise here. But the piece is super fun, super wearable and it will also come in a more grownup bronzey colorway, in case hot pink is just too sassy for you.

And last, but not least, here we have Dark Celebration.

Thanks to all of You, Lovelies taking my classes and buying my kits, I now get to go to Tucson to find exciting components at the gem show. And that is how I found this lot of vintage purple abalone cabochons, of which I was able to get 80. And the wee ones that are harder to see on the bottom. There are two of those on both sides of the big cab, bezeled.
Tucson happened back in February, and the idea for this has been gestating ever since. 
See, that is what I mean on things existing before existing. By the time I sat down today to crank this piece out in one sitting,I had everything ready to go, ideas in place, sketch, materials.
And bam!

The interesting thing about this piece is that there is very little contrast, but it works. The dark purple, the rich burgundy, the teal, it all is pretty dark. It's not something colorwise that I would normally do. I like a piece with different values. And this is all dark. But I had a feeling that it would do, and I went for it, and the outcome is a sinuous, curvy, elegant, sexy sort of bracelet. 
What do I mean on no variation in value? Well, let's take a look at this piece in greyscale.
See, how the whole thing is all the same shade of grey without much contrast? 
This normally would not do.
But here is why it works: Look at the textures and patterns even in grey. They are so intricate and enthralling, the textures legitimately take the place of what I normally would assign to contrast of value.
Because I only have enough materials for 4 classes, this class will only be available about 4 times next year. That is, in its current form. I could surely make something similar with different materials, but that is for another day.

Finally, before I finish up this post, I would like to point out something,that has been on my mind for a while. Every time I travel for workshops I have a bunch of eye candy to look at. Stuff that's one of a kind, and inevitably there are the questions of when and where is it a class?  The answer is just no. It isn't, it won't be, it never meant to be, and just no.
Some things are one of a kind, and they can not be classes. I just lug them around to share them with You All, for fun. For inspiration. For the sake of sharing.

And sometimes I even feel like I should not, I should just hide them, give them away, hoard them, whatever, because it does get frustrating to become a source of infinite disappointment when my inevitable NO surfaces.It is not because I am such a tease that I make those things, or that I show them at the places I teach at.

It is because by making one of a kind pieces- just for shits and giggles- that I learn, that I grow and that I am able to come up with ideas I can successfully implement in stuff that I can reproduce to make up class materials and kits.  It is my playtime.

I am ever so grateful for being able to make a living now on what I love doing. But without the playful experimentation things would get boring. Not just for you guys, for me too.
Even my most awesome job would become tedious, repetitive and un-enjoyable.Consider this:
 It is so much, much, much easier to come up with opulent, over the top, crazy expensive or simply too impossible one of a kind designs, than to be able to come up with something I can teach over and over with materials I can buy enough of, and with techniques that I can explain. Does this mean that class projects are inferior to one of a kind pieces?

Nope. It does not have to mean that. It just means that my own experimentation paves the road for more clever class projects, and that rightfully so not everything I have ever made or will ever make will become a class. And that I really should not be made felt guilty for "keeping things" to myself. 
And sometimes I feel like I don't even want to show new pieces I made for the sheer joy of creating because it gets so tiring to have to repeat, that no, not everything can become a class. 
I have made some pretty awesome new pieces inbetween the last blog post a year ago, and now, and they are nowhere to be found online, because I don't want to disappoint people by telling them no, you can't have this. Even though I got super good at saying no, I don't do it with a light heart. I am after all a pretty agreeable creature, aiming to please. 
But I am considering posting them all sometime in the next month or two. Take nice pictures of them and just put them up here... Just for the sake of sharing, like I said. Maybe they can serve as inspiration... Maybe there will be just never ending questions. And may this be my toughest dilamma this year. I am off to count my blessings.
Peace, Peeps!