Monday, July 30, 2012

Triangle Star for I Might Make That! Monday

Triangle Star from Eva
Maria Keiser designs

[Looking to sign up for my Bead Soup book giveaway? Click here!]

I recently stumbled upon the amazing blog of Eva Maria Keiser Designs. She has hundreds of followers already, so some of you may already be familiar with her site. I wish I could remember how I got there so I could credit the person who led me to her.

Seeing the beaded chess pieces featured on her home page banner will make you gasp, but even more impressive are the resources you'll discover once you start digging. If you click the link on the banner underneath that says "Complimentary e-Patterns," you'll be taken to a page that has links to instructions for all kinds of beaded wonders, like the Triangle Star shown at left (Sorry for the crappy photo, but it is a screen grab from the PDF.)

Lookie here for a sample:

Some tutorials available at Eva Maria Keiser Designs

Clicking on the "more tutorials" link reveals even more riches. If Eva Maria Keiser is new to you, I'll just go ahead and say "you're welcome" now, because I know you'll be thanking me.

An archive of past I Might Make That! Monday entries can be accessed at the widget in the top right corner. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

100th post ... and a giveaway

Today marks my 100th post since I launched this blog on the last day of 2010. What a fun trip I've had, making great new friends in cyberspace. (And how amusing to read back and see that I had characterized my home office as chaos back then; clearly this is a recurring theme for me.)

Many folks in the beading blogosphere are spending this weekend blog-hopping in the first installment of Lori Anderson's three-stage Bead Soup Blog Party, and I encourage you to join in the fun. Hop on over to Lori's blog for links to the July 28 participants. I will be part of the third reveal, on Aug. 25.

Given the convergence of my 100th post with the Bead Soup buzzfest, I am celebrating my milestone by announcing a giveaway of an autographed copy of Lori's soon-to-be-published book.


I've just pre-ordered two copies (one for myself, of course!), and I'll arrange for Lori to ship the book directly to the winner. You'll get the free tutes too!

The rules of the contest:

1. You have until midnight EDT Friday, Aug. 10, to enter. I will draw the winner using a random number generator sometime on Saturday, Aug. 11.

2. Leaving a comment here gets you one vote. 

3. Becoming a follower of my blog gets you two votes. (Current followers are of course included.)

4. Posting about this giveaway elsewhere (your blog, Facebook, etc.) also gets you a vote--but you must tell me what you've done so I can count you! You can leave this information in the comments or email me at: torquestory (at)

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kreativ Karma's going around....

Oh my gosh, I was thrilled to learn recently that Kathy of KJ's Beadacious Beads has named me a Kreativ Blogger!

The rules of this award are as follows.

When you receive this award...
1. Post a link to the person who awarded you
2. Share 7 well-thought-out random things about yourself
3. Award the Kreativ Blogger to 10 other deserving bloggers and let them know.

KJ generously doled out her awards to bloggers with fewer than 100 followers. That's partly why I titled this post "Kreative Karma." And I'm delighted to pay it forward by sharing a few of my favorite bloggers with you to pay it forward.
Termites--the key to eating them is to bite
down quickly, so they can't bite your tongue

First, seven random thoughts about myself:

1. I am a Brave Eater. I will try just about anything. Thanks to a Peace Corps stint in the Congo, I have eaten live termites (taste kind of papery, on account of the wings), several kinds of caterpillars (liked all but the spiny kind), palm grubs (taste like the fat you'd trim off a steak), rat (too gamy--hated), monkey (not a fan), porcupine (really does taste like pork!), antelope and a lot of other creatures that were described to me, in Tshiluba, simply as "animal from the forest."

This is by the authors of the hilarious
@FakeAPStylebook on Twitter 

2. I am such a grammar wonk that I collect grammar humor. A recent gem of a find: Grammarly on Facebook. (Also fun: @FakeAPStylebook on Twitter.)

3. I have never driven, and hope to never drive, a minivan.

From the Cloisters' collection
4. My favorite museum is in New York City--where I lived for nearly nine years. I love the Cloisters not because of the famous unicorn tapestries but because taking the subway way, way up to Tryon Park always felt like an escape and a secret. In December the place smells of cloves and oranges.

5. Through marriage, I am related to both Brad Wollack, the ginger-haired comedian on Chelsea Lately, and Weird Al Yankovic's longtime drummer, Bermuda Schwartz.

6. I went to cooking school when I lived in New York, and when I first came to Washington, I worked part-time as a sous-chef to a kosher caterer. (My Jewish husband had to explain to me that I was the Shabbos goy.)

7. This is not at all random or surprising about me, but it is so much a part of who I am, I have to include it here: Of all the many jobs I've had and things I've done and experiences I've lived, I define myself first and foremost as a mother. I have the most amazing daughter in the world, and her dad and I take only about 5% credit for her becoming the smart, funny, mature, adventurous, well-grounded 18-year-old she is today. (OK, I've just totally mortified one of the followers of this blog.)

Now for my Kreativ Blogger awards...

I've chosen some favorite beading blogs, trying for an idiosyncratic mix. Man, this was hard, like trying to choose a favorite child. I tried to not select blogs that everybody would already know about, like Pretty Things, Inspirational Beading or the Beading Gem's Journal. I could have chosen 20 or more. But I also wanted half my list to be made up of blogs not remotely related to jewelry. I think part of the fun of passing along this award is helping others discover great new reads on a range of subjects.

First, the beading blogs:
Some of Speedie Beadie's
1. Speedie Beadie. Dot of Speedie Beadie is my blog partner for Lori Anderson's upcoming Bead Soup Blog Party, so I just "met" her about a month ago. Her blog is a great mix of bead book reviews, accounts of her beloved Scotties and pictoral documentation of her stunningly elaborate beadwork. She is the most prolific beader I've ever encountered, and she can do more in a week than I could do in a dedicated six months of beading. In addition to jewelry, she makes these fascinating, fantastical art dolls.

2. Hint Jewelry. Beth Hemmila is known for her silver charms that tell personal stories, but what I like about her blog is how she posts about what she has learned from her yoga practice and spiritual journey in an occasional series called The Enlightening Mat.

3. Wild Roses and Blackberries. I have mentioned this blog before; it is written in English by the Swedish jewelry artist Maneki. She's been featuring lots of photo-heavy patina experiments on her blog recently that are fascinating reading.

4. Braidweaver. I wanted to include a kumihimo resource, and one of the best is Carol Miller Franklin's site. She is a great teacher. Note: this is mostly marudai work, although she has done some projects with the disk and plate. (If you have no idea what the last sentence means, this blog is not for you! But if you've heard about kumi and want to learn more, this is a great place to start.)

5. Beverly Ash Gilbert. This may be verging on picking an obvious blog, because Beverly is a well-known jewelry artist who has published many books and teaches classes all over the United States. But I've learned so much about color and design from her that I just had to feature her here. Her posts are spare on words and rich with color palettes like the one at left, for drawing design inspiration from.

And here's my list of Definitely Not Jewelry Blogs.

6. Gay Guy/Straight Guy. This is co-written by--you got it--a gay guy and a straight guy who are friends. They share their perspectives and offer advice, especially on topics like food, fashion and advertising. Gay Guy posts in italics and Straight Guy uses Roman font. Some regular features include Gee Whiz--photos of outrageously designed men's bathrooms--and brilliant quad graphs like the one below on desserts. (They haven't posted much recently, but they've aggregated a lot of homophobic/homocentric ads on their related Tumblr blog.)

7. Clutter Busting. Brooks Palmer talks about how to de-clutter your life, but he comes at it from such a different direction it will surprise you. It's not about how to organize stuff, it's about looking within to see what's going on in your life and what might be holding you back. (And no, you don't have to be super-organized to like it; I'm living proof of that.)

8. Stormdrane's Blog. This is a matter-of-fact blog about knot-tying. You might think it belongs up with the jewelry-making blogs, but this is a very guy-centric blog where the medium is paracord. But the photos, videos and instructions are great. Lots of applications for jewelry making, although I'm sure that's not his intent!

8. On Being Both is a thought-provoking blog written by a friend of mine, Sue Katz Miller, exploring issues of interfaithness. Our families met long ago through a great Jewish-Christian group in the D.C. area, the Interfaith Families Project. There are lots of us out there, and our numbers are growing--if you've ever struggled with loved ones on how to blend disparate faith traditions, please check out this blog and this group.
"A" puppy

10. The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. I'll wrap up with a fun grammar blog. As you may have intuited from my random things list above, the grammar sites I follow are ones that deal with the subject humorously. This site always cracks me up.

So please, explore some of these amazing reads, including KJ's blog linked at the top. Thanks for nominating me, KJ!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Playing with fire for I Might Make That! Monday

Liquid Enamel by Mary Hettmansperger
Here's a cool tute from Lark Crafts for making this necklace, called Liquid Enamel, which is featured in the new book Heat, Color Set & Fire: Surface Effects for Metal Jewelry by Mary Hettmansperger. (Click the link for a downloadable PDF.)

It involves liquid enamel and a blowtorch--cool! I've played with enameling at a summer family camp we used to go to that had a crafts studio, but it was the powdered kind that got baked in a kiln.

I have to confess that I don't like the particular necklace above that much, it's the technique that interests me--which is why I've included it here. I do like the two projects shown on the book's cover, though:

So do you play with fire?

BTW, my archive of I Might Make That! entries has been restored and is now up to date. You can access it by clicking the widget in the top right corner.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Binging on fringe for I Might Make That! Monday

Fringe bracelet tutorial at
via Artfire Beadweavers Guild

These three projects are a little different from some of my other I Might Make That! Monday entries because I actually have used some of the fringing techniques illustrated here before. They were just minor trim elements, however. I've never made a whole bracelet or necklace entirely from coral or loop fringe, as depicted in these projects here, and I think all three are cute designs.

First, the inspiration. The Artfire Beadweavers Guild, of which I am a member, made beaded fringe the topic of its July challenge. The Artfire post links to a tutorial on Whimbeads that shows how to incorporate several different fringe techniques in a single bracelet.

Fusion Beads' Reef It to Me necklace
Coincidentally, a day or so after I saw the above challenge and decided to feature the bracelet in my next IMMT!M post, Fusion Beads came out with a series of fringe tutorials in its e-newsletter.

Click here for instructions to do coral fringe, which is used to make the necklace at right. ("Coral fringe" is just another name for what the Whimbeads tutorial calls "branch fringe.")

A few days later, Fusion Beads followed the coral fringe feature with one on looped fringe, which is even easier.

That technique is used to make the bracelet below. A nice feature of the Fusion Bead beading instructions is that they are also offered as PDFs for easy printing.

Fusion Beads' Champagne Taste bracelet

Lookie, I created a widget!

For those of you new to my I Might Make That! Monday feature, I noted in last week's installment that my archive of past entries had gotten messed up and I needed to rebuild the page. I was able to design my first-ever widget, which has replaced the text button in the top-right corner of the blog, for accessing the archive.

However, at this point I've only had time to restore a few months' worth of the projects. I'll try to complete the archives by next week. (But I'm very pleased with myself to have designed my own widget, simple as it is.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lori's amazing Bead & Button giveaway

Giveaway #1 of 5 at Pretty Things

The always-generous Lori of Pretty Things is having a giveaway extravaganza, so go take a gander here at the goodies that could be yours. Lots of "bits and bobs" from her Bead & Button Show haul, her soon-to-be-released Bead Soup book and much more. Five chances to win in all.

(I already own one of the items--her ebook on blogging, which is well worth its $15 price tag.)

You've got until Friday, July 13, to enter!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Graceful wirework tree and more for I Might Make That! Monday

First, the abbreviated version of why I missed posting last Monday:
1. Power failure from massive storm that makes national headlines thwarts plans to write post in advance before leaving on vacation.
2. Hotel in vacationland woefully misrepresents its WiFi accessibility. Plans to use the week to catch up on blogging and answering email are abandoned.

I am now back at home, having spent yesterday evening emptying my refrigerator of the rotten food caused by a three-day outage (others had it far worse, so I'm not complaining.) As I type this Sunday evening, another massive storm is heading our way, so for all I know, I will be without power again before the night is over. When I went to the grocery for fresh provisions this morning, I only bought enough for a day or two; the grand restocking will wait until later in the week.

But back to our original programming.

I spotted the above lovely wirework tutorial on Pinterest recently. The hyperlink will take you to the Google translation of a Russian site. As always, the translation is a little hinky, but there are terrific photos to guide you. I especially like how the artist shows its origin as a sketch, which I never think to do. I wish I could tell you the name of the artist--if someone speaks Russian and can decipher for me, please include it in the comments!

And because I missed last week, here's a bonus feature. This link has a lot of great info about using alcohol inks on jewelry. (Scroll down to the bottom for the info about how this ring was transformed.)

Although the link above is for a specific brand of alcohol ink, here's a link for how to make your own.
(Pinterest has loads of other DIYs.) I'm interested in playing with alcohol inks and patinas because I think they can make ordinary gold- and silver-plated findings more interesting.

A housekeeping note: I recently discovered that the archive of I Might Make That! Monday features (the button in the top right corner of my blog) is currently not functioning. I'll have to rebuild the page. My apologies. I'll try to have that rectified before the next entry.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Earthtone bead bounty from Speedie Beadie

I've just returned from vacation, so I'm a bit late in posting about my bead haul from Dot of Speedie Beadie for Lori's 6th Bead Soup Blog Party. Her package was waiting for me when I got back in town.

Here are the goodies I found inside the polka dot-wrapping paper (Hmm, do you have a thing for dots, Dot???)

I had told her that I liked all colors but was especially fond of blues. She thought she was challenging me by sending me earthy browns and greens, but actually that is a favorite color combo. I have tons of beads in my stash that will complement this beautiful haul.

What will be a challenge--and one I'm looking forward to--is how to do justice to the lovely raku face that she sent as a focal. I'm finding it very hard to photograph, but here's a closeup:

I've been saying I wanted to learn how to bezel, and it looks like here's my chance!

In addition to the focal and lots of packs of seed beads, she sent me some lovely rings in two materials--I'm not sure what they're made of--a couple of cabs, a sweet little turtle bead, some cubed beads that also look to be raku, some gold-finish faceted rounds and a few coins. There are also these cool French vintage sequins she sent--they're barely visible in the top photo because I have the focal propped up against them. I don't know if I will use them in my reveal piece, but they'll be fun to use on something.

As a sweet gift, she also included this cute cat pin:

I must have talked a lot about my cats a lot in the emails we traded back and forth!

I'll have fun playing with all of these.

I'm especially appreciative that she was able to mail this package to me while going through the multiple-day power outage that I largely escaped by leaving town the day after the storm hit. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and I live in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., to give you an idea of how ginormous that storm was.

You can read about what I sent Dot for the bead soup party at her blogpost here.

Our reveal date isn't until August, but the first reveal is July 28, so be sure to visit the blog hop link above on that day to see what the first-round participants created.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Meet my bead swap partner, Speedie Beadie

Speedie Beadie interprets Sherri Serafini
For Lori's Bead Soup Blog Party, I've been paired with the very talented Dot of Speedie Beadie. She's a mostly-seed beader too.

The pic at left gives you an inkling of the fantastic work she does. It is a reproduction of the "Black Widow Collar designed by Sherry Serafini. Just a little ol' something she whipped up in what appears to have been a week or so--she really is speedy!

Dot is very generously giving away TWO copies of the Sherry Serafini book in which this design appears--see her blog entry here for how to enter before her July 4 drawing.

At the same post, you'll also see lots of pics documenting the beginning of her showcase necklace.

And be sure to explore her blog to see her dolls and other whimsical creations.