Sunday, July 21, 2013

What I made at summer camp!

No, this isn't an "I Might Make That! Monday" installment, but it's time to admit to myself as well as to my readers that writing posts is going to be an irregular event for some time to come, and I'll skip the apologizing every time.

Just got back from a lovely week at Chautauqua, where it was sticky hot but lots of fun. Please do check out the link I've provided if you have never heard of this singular place.

I took a fused glass course--it was just two two-hour lessons, barely scratching the surface of all that is involved in fused glass making. I certainly have renewed appreciation for what my friend Patti of All Fired Up! puts into every piece of her work.

The piece above shows one of the pendants I made before it was fired. I think this technique is called Full Contour Firing. But anyway, I had to cut colored glass to the desired shape. Then the hard part: I had to cut clear glass the exact same shape to put on top of it. Then I decorated the piece with some shards of colored glass, some of which I cut and some of which I was able to use as-is. It was then fired at a very high temperature, which caused all the pieces to melt together, creating a flat surface.

To the right is the fired and finished pendant, along with other pieces destined to become a pendant and earring set, which I made using a different firing technique. (I forget what it was called, but I didn't have to cut any clear glass layer. It was fired at a lesser temperature, and you were allowed to have pieces that extended beyond the base.)

You'll see that with the first pendant, some of the glass shards "disappeared" into the green background glass and aren't visible anymore. Also, some of the glass pieces seem to have created a black border when they melted, which I think gives it a cool stained-glass appearance. But other pieces did not. So it was a real learning experience.

And no, the bail on the pendant was not part of the firing. I had just glued it on by time I picked up the red and turquoise pieces, which were fired a couple of days later.

I had fun playing with this, but I am not interested in acquiring all the specialized equipment required for fused glass work: Not just the kiln, but glass grinders, scorers, breakers, files, etc.

I also used the six-hour drive there and back to begin a Cellini spiral piece in shades of pink. I'll try to post pictures of that soon. It's only about 2-3 inches long at this point.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Two beaded chokers for I Might Make That! Monday

Gems Necklace by Monica
Glad to be back home after seven of the past nine days on the road, plus work commitments that ate up most of Saturday. I'm mostly caught up with laundry. But enough whining. I owe you all some patterns.

This first necklace is something I spotted on Pinterest. It's from an Italian blog that Chrome translates as "The Casket of Jewels." (Am wondering if that should be "The Jewelry Box." Anybody out there speak Italian? The original is Lo Scrigno dei Gioielli.)

I can identify the artist only as Monica, and she calls the choker simply "Gems Necklace." There's a schematic, so you don't need to bother with having to translate the text. I really like the undulating effect created by the bugle beads. The pattern is here.
Beaded pearl necklace Irvin

Since I skipped posting last week, I'll throw in another tute. This one appeared recently on Beads Magic. It's simple enough, but I do have a fondness for pearls, and I like the effect created by the two different sizes. 

Again, the creator is identified only as Irvin. (Or maybe the necklace is called Irvin. I really can't tell.) Anyway, the link to the pattern is here, and the schematic looks amazingly simple.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The graduate

Last Friday, graduation. Tomorrow, we're off to Lafayette, La., for my niece's wedding. Then we'll drive our daughter back to school in Austin.

I'll be back home less than 24 hours before getting on a plane again to attend a conference in Boston. I'll return Friday evening but will need to work over the weekend for an event involved with my job.

Boy, I sure thought things would be less hectic once I finished my coursework. Maybe mid-June. Anyway, I can't promise any posts while on the road.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lady Grey's grammar humor for Need a Laugh! Wednesday

Longtime readers know that I have dedicated several of these weekly features to grammar humor. (The stickler in me hastens to add that they're more correctly classified as grammar/spelling/punctuation humor).

A few weeks ago I discovered the Facebook page Lady Grey's Compleat Annotated Memes ("Correcting the Internet, One Meme at a Time")

Here are a few favorites:

Check out her Facebook page for lots more!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Two quickie projects for I Might Make That! Monday

Spikes in Bloom by Kerry Slade
OK, this is going to be a quickie post, since it's already after 11 p.m. and I have to go to bed. But I did not want to miss another IMMT!M.

Here are two fast (I think!) projects that popped up in my Facebook feed recently.

The pic on the left is a beaded component by the wonderful and talented Kerri Slade. The free tute is available from Bead & Button's online website, but you have to be a registered user (also free) to access it. The link is here.

Dreams Do Come True Bracelet at Fusion Beads
If you visit Kerry's Facebook page, you'll see lots of variations of this component made into pendants, earrings, etc. by various beading fans of hers.

The next tute is for this classy pearl and rhinestone bangle. I saw it on Fusion Beads' Facebook page.
It's made with rhinestone cup chain, which I'm dying to try out, combined with wire-wrapped pearls atop a plain bangle.

It is listed as a beginner project, and it certainly does look easy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Another go at Dutch spiral for I Might Make That! Monday

Dutch spiral tute by Olio on phpBB 
Yikes, this will barely make it under the wire to actually be posted on Monday, but my Sunday was filled with Mother's Day activities. (And I'm still not quite back in the groove yet in planning blog content in advance. The deadlines kind of sneak up on me.)

Without further ado, I present this link with several lovely Dutch spiral variations. I featured Dutch spiral once before, but I remember being very frustrated that I couldn't find any tutes that had attractive pictures and clear instructions.

I am not familiar with this site, but it appears to be some kind of online jewelry forum. There are probably all kinds of goodies there, and I hope to explore it more later.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Late-breaking addendum to Need a Laugh Wednesday!

Ooh, ooh. I haven't done this before, but seeing a friend's post on FB this morning reminded me that I left out a hilarious video that fits perfectly into my Mother's Day humor theme. I saw this a few months ago and just could not stop laughing!

Mother's Day humor for Need a Laugh Wednesday

Prepping for this Sunday...presented without comment...

Source: via Peggy on Pinterest

Monday, May 6, 2013

Finally done! Back to I Might Make That! Monday programming

Beaded dragons
The thesis has been submitted. The in-class presentation has been made. Yesterday, I even gave an hourlong presentation to the executive committee of the Alexandria Film Festival, the organization that was the subject of my thesis.

Signed, sealed, delivered--I'm DONE.

Tomorrow evening (I'm writing this on Sunday), I will be attending my last-ever class. I don't have to do anything except show up and nod attentively at the final group of students making oral presentations. Then there will be cake and champagne.

Commencement is May 17, and I will be marching in my cap and gown and peacock blue master's hood. It has been a long journey and a lot of hard work, but every bit of it has been worth it.

Later this week I will be blogging more about Pay It Forward, and I will be resuming my Need a Laugh Wednesday feature as well. But today my priority is to resume my I Might Make That! Monday feature. I'm grateful to all of you following this blog for not deserting me in these past few months of erratic posting.

Without further ado, here is a link for a free tute to make the cool beaded dragons pictured above. The artist goes by the name Chimera Dragonfang. (Be sure to read the notes and comments at the bottom of the file with lots of useful addenda.)

I actually saw this dragon tute a long time ago, probably before I launched IMMT!M, but didn't save it anywhere. It resurfaced recently on a Facebook page I follow, Confessions of Crafty Witches--a wickedly clever (and sometimes naughty) page of crafts and recipes. (Thanks, Mandy--I believe it was you who turned me on to them.) The picture is actually from the Crafty Witches' photo album, and if you click on the link that is in the caption, it will take you to a FB post that includes a few other dragon tutorials.

So do as the dragon bead creator says and spread the dragony love, people!

Now excuse me, I have about two MONTHS' worth of beady blog reading to catch up on!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Paying it forward giveaway ... and another plea for your patience

I thought that once my health issues cleared up, I'd have a brief period where I'd be able to post before it got to be crunch time with the thesis writing. Alas, no. I missed posting my I Might Make That! Monday feature a couple of weeks back because it was Passover and we were hosting a Seder, but I've had no excuse since then except I have to finish my dang capstone, which is due in two weeks and one day. So please be patient with my intermittent blogging. I get my life back after May 1.

However, there is one task that has been hanging over my head for months, and I absolutely MUST take care of this obligation. Back in September, Lisa Lodge of A Grateful Artist--Pine Ridge Treasures announced she was participating in a Pay It Forward event. (Read her original post here.)

I was one of the lucky winners. She and I exchanged correspondence over this, and I told her that I would delay posting my own participation until after it died down in the blogosphere. (There was a several-week period in which it seemed like every every beading blogger was doing this.)

So I waited, and then, frankly, I forgot about it. And then I remembered, but it was Christmas, and that didn't seem to be the right time. And then I forgot again. And then I had my surgery. Anyway, I'm finally doing this!

Handmade Gifts: Pay It Forward

Here’s How It Works:
I’ll send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this blog post. The gift will be a handmade surprise by me and will be sent to you some time in the next 365 days (a mystery gift at a mystery time).

When leaving the comment, make sure you include your email address (if your profile doesn’t include it). I’ll email you for your snail mail address and a ask a few questions about your likes and dislikes. 

To complete signing up you MUST play along too. To do this you must blog a similar post and pledge to make a surprise gift for the first three people who comment on it.

So, do you want to play? Comment below and I’ll sent a thoughtful handmade gift to the first three people who do. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chalk talk for Need a Laugh Wednesday

Posted on MindBodyGreen
If you live in an urban area, as I do, you are accustomed to tripping over the outdoor chalkboard signs that hog sidewalk space outside cafes, salons and boutiques. I always enjoy it when the sign-writers have a little fun with them.

I didn't see any of these signs in real life, but they were fun to round up. The next several are part of a collection published on Happy Place. Click here to see a coupla dozen more.

Before I show you my favorite sign, I will tell you the only personal anecdote I can think of involving a chalkboard in a public space. In downtown DC there used to be a bookstore called Olsson's Books that had an espresso/sandwich bar, as so many do. All of the sandwiches were named after authors, and they didn't have a printed menu--just the names of all the sandwiches and drinks written on a gigantic, lavishly illustrated chalkboard behind the counter.

One of the sandwiches was named the Edgar Allen Poe. As a copy editor, I know that Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most misspelled names in the English language. I pointed out--very politely--to the cashier that Poe's middle name was misspelled. She shrugged it off.

I said, "You know, as a bookstore, I thought you would care about something like this."

She shrugged again.

I said, "You don't have to take my word for it that it's misspelled. You could walk over about 20 feet and check it yourself in the classic literature section."

She shrugged again.

I said, "You know, it's not like I'm pointing out an error in a sign that it's going to cost you hundreds of dollars to remake. It's a chalkboard."

In the end, I was far more irritated by her attitude than the misspelling. I didn't go back to that bookstore because it wasn't in a neighborhood I frequented, but my husband would stop in occasionally and I would always ask afterward, "Did they ever fix Poe?" and he would say no. When the store went out of business a couple years after my encounter, I felt a smug satisfaction.

Anyway, here is my favorite chalkboard, spotted on Pinterest:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chain of Hollow Beaded Beads for I Might Make That! Monday

This is going to be quick, since it's almost 11 on Sunday evening, but I'm determined to get back to my regular Monday feature (and hopefully soon to my other regular one--Need a Laugh Wednesday.)

I spottend the above pattern on Pinterest recently. What's interesting about it is that is not a series of individually made beaded beads, as most patterns are. It's a chain of netting stitches that you make as one continuous piece, forming the beads as you go, which I think is pretty cool.

The pattern is free, but you do have to download it from a site called Bead-Patterns. (But you don't have to register or create an account or anything.)

And thank you, everyone for the well-wishes last week. It's good to be back.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Grapefruit Chronicles, or Uteruslessness

I really didn't mean to go this long without posting. My recovery is really quite complete at this point. I've just spent the past 10 days or so trying to get back in the swing of things and catch up with my grad school work.

You're perhaps curious as to what I was referring to when I mentioned "health issues" in my last post. I'll keep this as brief as possible: Just before Christmas, I had my annual physical checkup. My doctor felt something unusual in my abdomen. She thought it was probably a uterine fibroid, but told me I should go to my ob-gyn to check it out.

Because it was the holidays, and my doctor didn't seem sound particularly alarmed, I booked an appointment for the second week of January. The ob-gyn also suspected a fibroid, but told me to get an ultrasound to confirm.

Well, the ultrasound revealed not a fibroid but a 14 cm cyst--the size of a grapefruit--growing off my right ovary. The diagnosis was shared with me in a phone call that ended with my ob-gyn saying, "You need to see an oncologist right away."

Is there a more terrifying phrase in the English language?

Within 10 minutes of getting off the phone with her I had made an appointment with the oncologist. The week between that phone call and the actual appointment was the longest week of my life.

Things got better from there. Although the ob-gyn had said the cyst had septations that made her fear the worst, the oncologist said he didn't think it was ovarian cancer. However, it had to be removed, along with my ovary (I got to keep the left one!) and uterus, because everything was all adhered together.

This was done via laparoscopic surgery on Feb. 11, with one night in the hospital. On the surgeon's recommendation, I took three works off work. The recovery wasn't too bad--let's just say I got a reminder of all the ways I use my abdominal muscles all the time, every day. The uterus--well, its career highlight was nearly 20 years ago when it delivered the world's most perfect daughter. It was in retirement anyway, so I don't miss it.

I thought about blogging during my long hours lying in bed or on the sofa, but I had a superstition that I shouldn't publish anything about my surgery until I had my post-op checkup and got the full pathology report, which happened March 5. Thumbs up all around.

I did do some beading during my convalescence. Since I usually publish an "I Might Make That! Monday" tute on Mondays, I'll share a pic of the the bracelet patten I made.

It's quite a departure for me to work in flat peyote and follow a pattern. I much prefer to make beaded ropes and such. But I saw the pic below on Pinterest a day or so before I was due to check into the hospital. The doc had told me I might have to spend up to five days hospitalized if they had to do a full abdominal incision. I decided that beading and following a pattern might be a welcome distraction.

Link for this bracelet:

Peyote bracelet with 15s, 11s and 8s forming undulating curves. Pattern here.

Let me be clear that the pic is not my actual bracelet! That's the photo on the tutorial link. The instructions are in Czech or Hungarian or other language, but the bead diagram is quite clear. Since I can't read the language, I unfortunately can't credit the designer.

Although the pattern might look complicated, the dramatic curves are made by simply using size 15, 11 and 8 beads in the same row.

I made the bracelet in a dusty rose colorway. I didn't have 15s in the right color, so I used Delicas, which are a very small size 11, and Czech seed beads, which are a very large 11, and size 8s. The undulations are not quite as dramatic as that shown above, but I still like it.

Anyway, I finished the bracelet, but I don't have any photos. If I waited until I took pictures, it might be another month before I posted.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

...Because not everything is black and white

A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow in Krakow 
Photograph by Marcin Ryczek 

(I love this photograph, widely shared recently on Facebook.)

This blog has been neglected recently while I deal with some health issues. Look for it to resume in a few weeks, and I'll explain it all then.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bounty of free projects from Lark for I Might Make That! Monday

Sonoko Wave necklace from Japanese Beadwork
with Sonoko Nozue
, published by Lark Books

The Lark books I won from Speedie Beadie's giveaway 
I am a couple of weeks behind in blogging about this (I am a couple of weeks behind with everything), but I recently won a trio of books in a giveaway sponsored by the generous and very talented Dot of Speedie Beadie.

These are three awesome books from Marthe Le Van's series, and I am thrilled to be in possession of them. I really love her style. Thank you so much, Dot! (And thanks, Lark, for generously handing out books for bloggers to review and give away.)

I was trying to find some free patterns on the Larkcrafts website from these books to publish for IMMT!M, but I couldn't. But what I did find was even better: a whole bunch of free patterns that Lark made available for the New Year.

Click here for access to more than two dozen free patterns from Lark, including the lovely Sonoko Wave necklace pictured at the top. Its undulations are created from a unique take on peyote stitch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Keeping calm for Need a Laugh Wednesday

Image from Entrer Dans le reve, one of many in the
Keep Calm Flickr Photostream

About two years ago, variants of the Keep Calm posters starting sprouting from cubicles in my office. According to the website Know Your Meme (which I depend upon not so much to keep hip but so that I don't fall too hopelessly far behind), the orignal Keep Calm and Carry On poster was WWII propaganda; the phrase experienced a resurgence in 2000 when a British bookshop displayed a framed one and began selling prints.

Here's an assemblage of what Know Your Meme considers "notable examples."

Here are a few of my favorites from Pinterest:

I especially like the deviant ones:

And here are the two that hang in my office:

Source: via Geneva on Pinterest

Want to make your own? Here's link to a calm-o-matic generator

Monday, January 14, 2013

Shibori silk necklace for I Might Make That! Monday

Silk on silk necklace from Sonoran Beads
Today's post is especially for Patti of All Fired Up!

In October, I went to BeadFest Texas, where, in addition to taking a metalsmithing class from Lexi Erickson, I of course bought a boatload of beads from the vendors.

I never did post a pic of my haul, but I did purchase a couple of one-yard lengths of shibori silk from Sonoran Beads. I bought some for Patti, too, because I thought it would make beautiful stringing material for her gorgeous fused glass pendants.

At the Sonoran booth, they had a necklace on display--it wasn't the one pictured, but it used the same technique of the gathered silk accented with beads. When I got home, I looked online for a pattern on the Sonoran website, so that I could show the effect to Patti, but they didn't have anything.

Last week I got an email from Sonoran that showed the pattern, so now I'm delighted to share it with everyone. Sonoran calls it Silk on Silk, because the hand-dyed shibori ribbon surrounds silk cording that they also sell. Basically, you make a long tube out of the shibori silk by sewing the long ends together with a running stitch, then thread the cord through it, bunching the shibori in a pleasing manner. Since the inner cord is concealed, I'm sure you could use any cheap cord you have around. Accent beads are sewn on that I imagine help the shibori keep its shape.

Here's a link to other free projects from Sonoran Beads.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Piqued by spikes for I Might Make That! Monday

Spike Ball Dodecahedron by Beads by Becs
I've been really fascinated by the new spike beads that are available now--in several sizes and from several manufacturers. I haven't bought any yet--let me know if you have!

The beaded beads shown above were made Beads by Becs. She blogs about them here and sells the pattern on her Etsy shop here.

This dramatic choker is made by Good Quill Hunting and it uses not just spikes but twins, peanuts and lots of other nifty beads. I LOVE the combination of blue and bronze.

This is also not a free pattern; the link to buy it is here.

OK, OK, I know you come for the free tutes, so here are a couple.

First, spiky hoops for your ears from Preciosa-Ornela:

A PDF of the pattern is here. (I think these might be a tad heavy for me to actually wear. These appear to be clip-on earrings, with the clip-on finding embellished with seed beads for a nice touch.)

And below are two different Beading Daily links for bezeling around spikes for use as earrings, focals, or, as one of the designers calls them, "prayer vessels."

Psyched for Spikes guides you through the 7mm X 17mm size, and "Peyote Stitch and Spike Beads: Made for Each Other" takes on the 12mm X 18mm whoppers.

For more design inspiration, here is a link to a Pinterest board devoted to spikes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Humor for Need a Laugh Wednesday

These have a shelf life of about 24 hours, so I better use them now!

Spotted the one below on FB thanks to Mandy!

This next one is called "If the year 2012 and the year 2013 could chat on Facebook" and is courtesy of someecards.