Monday, March 28, 2011

Shopping trip!

I finally checked out the Craftsmen's Classic Arts & Crafts Show in Chantilly, Va., on Saturday. I've seen these advertised in the papers for years, but the Dulles Expo Center always seemed so far away. (Discloser: Everything in Virginia seems far away when you live in Maryland, even if you are traveling from a near-in suburb of D.C. to another near-in suburb of D.C., and it really only takes about 30 minutes to get there. Chantilly was a little over an hour's drive.)

I had read on Lori Anderson's blog Pretty Things that she would be selling there. She is the creator of the famous (among beaders, anyway) Bead Soup Blog Party. I have been reading her awesome blog for months and find it very inspirational. I have learned a lot from it about designing jewelry and doing booth shows from reading her blog, but probably the most important lesson I'm learning is how to create a delightfully charming and engaging blog presence. I felt that I knew her before I met her (in fact, I was a little worried about coming off as a stalker). I can assure you she is as gracious and kind in person as you would expect from reading her blog.

I think I embarrassed my daughter only a little by making her take this pic with my iPhone:

Unfortunately, my snaps of Lori at her booth came out way too dark, so I cannot show off her lovely merchandise. (But check out her most recent post, and you can see her display for yourself.)

I bought a hand-blown glass bead necklace and larimer earrings from her but haven't had time to take pics.

I also bought a hand-carved wooden brooch from this guy here, after my daughter came back showing off a necklace she had bought from him. I'm afraid he'll have to go nameless, since I didn't record either his name or the name of his company. So he'll be forever preserved as the Hand-Carved-Knife-Handle-and-Assorted-Odd-Tschotkes guy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Meet full need

One of the advantages of having a blog that virtually no one reads is that you can write a post purely for the purpose of making a couple of friends do a spit-take! Above is a talented actor named Mark Jude Sullivan, who played Lord Byron in last night's staged reading of Camino Real. The event was part of Georgetown University's fantastic Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival. The fest runs through Sunday, with a John Waters show as the finale, I think. In addition to seeing this production, I also caught a fascinating conversation with Edward Albee the night before. (Did you know that the stars of the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf were originally going to be Bette Davis and James Mason?)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Field trip!

Last night my digital media class went to Google's Washington headquarters for a presentation by Peter Greenberger, one of the company's communications people. I am learning so much in that class. In fact I am flexing my nascent social media muscles by attempting to post on my blog remotely from my iPhone while I wait for a shuttle back to the office.

If you're reading this, it means I succeeded!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Never say never

We used to have the loveliest ornamental tree in our front yard. Someone told me once that she thought it was a species of blooming magnolia, but I never really knew for sure. It was a favorite climbing tree for our daughter and other neighborhood kids, because it was very Y-shaped, with these two strong branches coming off a short, stout trunk. Its blooms were a lovely harbinger of spring, arriving even before the cherry blossoms.

About six or seven years ago, it severed in two after a bad storm, and we paid to have it chopped up and toted away. But every year, a feisty little sprout shoots up from the flush stump and offers up a few blossoms. 

This year, I think it may have graduated to "shrub" status. Let's hear it for hanging in there!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Macaroni groggers

I had a blast at the IFFP Purim festival today. I sold my jewelry at a crafts table there, and had contributed a  pearl necklace and earrings set to the silent auction (see previous post).

"Macaroni groggers" refers to the boxes of pasta that people were asked to bring and shake. It is a tradition during Purim festivals to shake groggers, rattles and any other kind of noisemakers whenever the name "Haman"is said during the reading of the story of Esther. Once the pasta boxes had done their duty as noisemakers, they were collected for donation to a local soup kitchen.

The favorite part of my morning was meeting a young artist named Sarah, who was about 11 or 12, I think. She told me that she made jewelry and that her grandmother had taught her how. She also said she loved to paint. She chatted with me all during my setting up, admired several of my designs and bought a pair of iridescent blue teardrop earrings from me--my first sale of the day. Thanks, Sarah!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do you like this necklace?

Well, it can be yours if you attend the IFFP Purim festival and silent auction in Silver Spring, Md., this Sunday. Five braided strands of bronze and cream freshwater pearls, interspersed with glass "pearls" and gold-plated spacer beads, the choker is my donation to this wonderful group and cause.

(I threw in matching earrings, too.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mistakes were made

I've been trying to crank out some pieces for a crafts fair I'll be participating in on March 20. It's for the Interfaith Families Project Purim Festival. I was an active member of IFFP for many years--it's a wonderful group for Christian-Jewish intermarried families. In addition to the crafts fair part--which I gather is pretty small (they tried this for the first time last year, and I think it was limited to a couple of teens selling jewelry)--there is a silent auction. I spent today making a necklace and earrings for the silent auction--I'll post a pic here when I can take some better shots.

The photo above is for a piece that's still in progress. I wanted to make a Russian spiral rope necklace. Instead of making one long rope, however, I envisioned making it in three segments, with some large beads interspersed in the breaks. I did one 7-inch segment, the one on the left, on Monday or Tuesday. The following evening, I started segment two, but for some reason it came out a lot skinner. I took it apart several times, but it still stayed skinny. I assumed that I had messed up on the set-up row. I finally gave up, and the following evening I started a new segment, taking extra care with the setup. It, too, came out skinny. Then I did two more, both skinny. I can't figure out why the first one is so much fatter than the others. I can only assume that I somehow added a bead after the set-up row, and I can't replicate my mistake. Either that, or it's simply a matter of tension. I know that with many tubular stitches, the first inch or so is always loose, but I can't account for this. I will save the fat one for another project and use the three skinny ones for my current design.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Frost on the Lilacs

My last post was about honeysuckle. This one will be about lilacs. It sounds like I'm pining for high summer. I finished a new necklace this morning: I had spring on my mind when dreaming up the color combination, so it is filled with soft hues of lilac, dusty pink and shimmery silver.

I spent last week making the three Cellini* beads that are the focus of the necklace. They are the kind of thing you can do while watching TV, as long as you're not watching anything with subtitles. I had experimented with making these beaded beads before, but could never figure out how to make them hang right on a necklace. Even if you do several decreases at both ends, you will still wind up with a fairly substantial hole, and the bead dangles off-center from the stringing wire.

I came up with what I thought was an ingenious solution: I had some rubber tubing that I snipped off to a length slightly shorter than each beaded bead, and I glued a bead cord end (the kind of thing you might put on the end of a braid; it has a hole in the center) on each end of the tubing segment. Let's call this segment a "tubette." Then I stuffed the tubette into each Cellini bead and threaded them onto the beading wire with the other beads. The wire was now perfectly centered inside the bead, and the tubette was not visible at all.

When I was making the beads, I envisioned combining them with some large clear crystal rounds and pearls. But when I was rummaging through my supplies, I didn't have the large white-white pearls I envisioned. I tried making the necklace with the Cellini beads and some 18 mm crystal rounds alone. The necklace looked gorgeous, but it was so heavy I though someone might shy away from buying it. I mixed in some silver-painted wooden beads I had. The crystals/painted beads pairing didn't work, so out came the crystals altogether. The final touch was to add two lampworked beads (from Fire Mountain Gems) of a dusty pink with purple swirls to the combination.

There was one last bit of ingenuity required. I had planned to put decorative bead caps on each end of the Cellini beads, to finish them off nicely and hide the tubettes inside completely. I have a fair number of bead caps of various designs, but all were too small. I found some domed filigree bead caps made for a, say, 8-10 mm bead. I thought, what the heck, these don't cost much, so if I ruin one experimenting, who cares? I took a pair of pliers and gently started flattening it, working round and round the bead cap. Within a few minutes, voila! I had a perfectly flat disk that looked like a daisy and fit the end of the Cellini beads perfectly.

I call the necklace Frost on the Lilacs because of the pale purple and silver combo, although I suspect getting actual frost on actual lilacs would require rather freakish weather conditions.

Here's a closeup of the Cellini bead and one of the lampworked ones. In real life, it does not look this grape-y; it really is a soft lilac. But it's a dismal rainy day here and I couldn't get good natural lighting. You can just make out the flattened disks on each end--can you believe they started out semispherical?

*Cellini bead--a bead made from a peyote stitch called Cellini spiral. 
The pattern uses beads of graduated sizes in a way that causes an undulating, 
thick-and-thin spiral. Mine uses five kinds of beads, from size 11 to size 6.

I had two more of the pink lampworked beads after using two in this, so I made simple matching earrings with them.  My apologies that this pic is a little blurry.