Monday, December 29, 2008

New Works In Progress

Well here we are in the heart of holiday season. It took me a few days to recover from all the food that I prepared for Christmas - and we're still working on it! I'll try to remember that next year and cut down on my baking activities... Tonight will be the last night of my holiday food extravaganza. My birthday was yesterday, my stepdaughter's birthday was last Tuesday, and we're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate. There's a restaurant in Oakland (CA) that I'm very fond of, so we're all going to dine at Doña Tomás. Normally I don't care all that much for Mexican food, but this restaurant is wonderful!

Even though the big holiday crunch is over, I've managed to retain my ambition regarding projects. I've got several of them in progress, so I've decided that Mondays will be Works In Progress day.

I made a lariat out of the autumn leaf bead that I posted about earlier - the first lariat I've ever made - and after test driving it, I've decided to make several more. I raided my stash of leaf beads and pulled out a few that I think will look nice. The problem will be getting good pix of them. Here's the first one I'm working on. The colors in this piece are beautiful but very subtle. I put the piece on my scanner, but the colors just don't show up well. The leaf bead is a mixture of gray, amber, and some very subtle hints of blue. The veins are black, and the leaf has a few smatterings of fine silver dots. The bead above it is a mixture of blue and deep olive green, encased in clear with a few very faint blue lines around the circumference. The body of the lariat is done with various sizes of seed beads in rootbeer, iris peacock, silver, charcoal, light sage, and transparent aqua with a greenish cast to the center.

I must be in a neutral mood these days - the second piece in progress is done in very similar colors but I'm thinking about livening it up with a bold splash of red. This will be a short necklace, and I'm thinking about attaching this center piece to a chain rather than beading the whole piece. We'll see how it goes... Along with my leaf and accessory beads, I've included some Czech glass leaves, a few wired coral beads, and some wired labradorite beads. I can't wait to test drive this one! I think it will look fabulous with a "little black dress".

Earlier today I was looking at the Etsy Treasury that was used to create the front page I happened upon, and when I hit the big blue arrow to go back to the Treasury I saw that it had come from Treasury West. I also saw that the blue box was just about to appear, so I managed to create another treasury. Here's my latest curation in Treasury West.

And now I'm off to work on these jewelry projects so that I can finish them up and get them into my Etsy store. Hope you all have a creative day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis The Season...

Every year I indulge a bit and buy myself a Christmas present. Things are really tight this year, but I couldn't let the tradition die. My little package arrived in the mail Tuesday, and I was just tickled pink! Or maybe I should say tickled red... After having put together many Treasuries on Etsy in which I included some of my fellow local artisans, I wanted to patronize their shops. I now have 3 lovely peace cranes hanging in my silk ficus tree in the family room, with a few mini-cranes nestled in a pile of little ornaments next to my rock candle. Thank you Nancy McNally, i.e., localcolorist, for making such lovely art! If you folks aren't familiar with Nancy's peace cranes, you MUST check them out!

Here's my John Lennon peace crane hanging in the ficus. I also purchased the Annie Lenox peace crane - she's red and gold as well. The third crane is the Maya Angelou crane, which has blue, green, pink, and dark rose flowers on a white ground. She's a beauty!

Here's a picture of the 2 white and silver minis, which were a complete surprise. They're perfect in my little ornament heap.

I actually started writing this post on Tuesday, and while I was in the middle of it I got the Treasury "blue box" on Etsy. Here's the treasury I put together. I thought that tranquility would be a nice subject for the holidays.

Now I'm off to bed. It's almost 1:00 a.m. and I just finished up the food prep for Christmas day. I'll be having a few folks over in the early afternoon, and then there will be 9 of us at dinner. I'm going to make my annual peppercorn-crusted salmon filet. I got the house all stinky earlier on Wednesday making the brine in which it will soak for about 8 hours before I finish preparing and baking it for dinner. Geez, that liquid smoke stuff sure smells funky - and it really hangs in there! But oh, the salmon is divine.

I just finished making 2 loaves of pear bread, 4 dozen oatmeal scotchies (cookies), cranberry orange bread, 4 dozen cranberry oatmeal pecan cookies, and a really tasty salmon spread to go with the brie, goat cheese, pate, and roasted red bell peppers with cream cheese. I'll be serving all that up Christmas afternoon - anyone want to stop by for a snack? C'mon down! We no longer exchange Christmas gifts, I just do a lot of cooking and baking and have folks over for food and conversation. We all like that much better.

And so I will leave you for now with heartfelt wishes for a peaceful and happy holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, or no holiday at all. Joy to all of you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Falling In Love All Over Again...

Nope, not talking about a person here... I'm in the process of FINALLY putting up some Christmas decorations. I have some "buildings" that light up, all having some sort of personal meaning to me, and this year I've put them on my fireplace hearth in the family room. I used to put them on the top of my rolltop desk, but we moved that desk into the front room of the house that's used as an office/library. Since they're now on the hearth, there's a jumble of electrical cords/plugs, extension cord behind all those buildings that looked rather unsightly, so I decided to cover them up with something. It occurred to me that I have a "wicked huge" stash of fabric from my quilting days from which I could probably find something appropriate. I keep the main portion of my stash in a dresser that I quit using as a dresser years ago, which is now in the "library". Off I went, rummaging through the drawers - and I had to exercise a great deal of discipline to grab what would work and get the heck out of there. But I had to stay just a little while to fondle some of the gorgeous fat quarters and half-yards stored away... wonderful jewel-tone batiks, bright florals, greens with leaves and trees in every shade you could imagine... ooooohh, aaaaaaahhh. Now I want to make stuff with fabric. Geez, just what I need - another distraction! I have a show coming up in 2 months and I just CAN'T get involved in another medium right now. But oh, how beautiful these things are - and I can see them in bags, clothing, wall hangings... it boggles the mind! OK, enough of THAT, Shirley! Here are a few of the dresser drawers I was drooling into.

Of course, I found the perfect fabrics for the "background" of my little village - how could I NOT in this pile of stuff?

So now I can finish up my decorating while I'm listening to my Afro Celts CDs. These folks are wonderful - in fact, I put together an Etsy Treasury that was influenced by their song "Rise Above It". You can hear this song on YouTube HERE. And check out an Afro Celts performance featuring Johnny Kalsi (Dhol Foundation) HERE - wild! Anyhow, I was on the torch the other day listening to "Rise Above It", and I started dreaming up this treasury. I caught the blue box last night, so here it is.

I really enjoy putting treasuries together - I always find new artists to add to my list of favorites. And, of course, it's always a thrill when I see the gold star in the list of treasuries. Carol Dean Sharpe of Sand Fibers has a great idea. Whenever she is featured in someone's treasury - which happens very often, her work is gorgeous! - she displays that treasury, then displays an item from the treasury curator's shop that she likes. Perhaps I'll borrow her idea and show more treasuries on my blog. I'm a hopeless treasury addict!

OK, I'm off to finish my decorating - then it's time for a cappucino break. Happy Sunday to you all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Dang, it's cold out there...

OK, all you folks who live in 4-season locations have no sympathy for me, I know - BUT... Since having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area 30-some-odd years ago, my blood has thinned considerably. So this arctic blast we're getting is doing a number on me. I was putting trash out last night and by the time I got inside, my nightly blueberry tea ritual was more appealing than ever! We've got snow all over the Bay Area. Check it out in the pix posted on SFGate. I'm particularly fond of this one in the Carmel Valley - that's a bit south of me, and snow is very unusual there as well.

Snow in Carmel Valley

Now I'm tempted to load my fur kids into the car and haul them off to the hills to see this strange white stuff we call snow. To my knowledge (they're both rescue pups), they've never seen it before. This could be fun - but it'll have to wait until tomorrow, I'm going to be cooking up a batch of beef stew before I go teach my class tonight. They're probably just as happy where they are. After I finished my breakfast this morning I went back into the bedroom to make the bed, and there was Peanut - playing in the snow was not on HER agenda...

And Niki is STILL in her "waiting for the mail to come" spot in our front room...

Once again, tonight is the last night of my latest 4-session Beadmaking 2 class. This one went by so quickly - we had classes 2 nights a week rather than one so we wouldn't bump into the holidays. So we'll be doing some complex twisties, floral cane, and applying flowers to beads. This has been such a fun class - I'm really glad that these students have joined our SGB Norcal group! I'm bringing my camera with me tonight for sure.

I'll probably be making more "color of the year" demo beads tonight. Yesterday I did pull out some of my yellow glass, but I noticed that I had a leaf sitting on my work table - a real one sent to me by the wife of an old college buddy of mine from Connecticut. Rather than do a bunch of yellow beads as I had intended, I made a leaf with my yellow glass layered with several other colors. I think I'll send this leaf bead to my friend who sent me the real deal. She'll get a surprise for sure! Here's the real deal along side of my leaf bead. It was a real challenge keeping this one from cracking without overheating it, but it was fun. I'll be doing more of these for sure!

And now I'm off to the kitchen to get my stew going. I have to leave for class in 2 hours - yikes! Have yourselves a warm and cozy evening!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pantone Color of the Year...

Doesn't it figure?! Pantone has chosen Mimosa as the color of the year for 2009. Here's a swatch from them - and you can read the associated article HERE.

Why do I say, "doesn't it figure?!"? Well... I love yellow. It makes me feel good. It warms me up when I have the chills. It was my late dad's favorite color and the color of my very first car (yeah, he helped me pick out the car...). Pantone says, "Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation." And face it, I can use all the sparks of imagination I can get. But... I cannot wear yellow! I look absolutely horrible in yellow. With my skin tones, yellow makes me look very sickly. Now THIS makes me very sad, since I love this color. So I have to find other ways to get my "yellow fix".

The other day I created a Treasury in Etsy based on Mimosa, the upcoming color of the year. In fact, I called it "Pantone COLOR OF THE YEAR". Of course, I had to put some punch into it so I jazzed it up with yellow's complement and a bit of green. My inspiration for this treasury came from that gorgeous crocheted necklace made by "aysetugrul". Check out all of her wonderful creations!

Once in awhile I make beads with yellow glass. A few years ago I made some leaves in a combination of sage green, purple, and yellow - the colors of Mardi Gras. It was an accident - I thought I was using a rod of amber glass and boy, was I surprised when the leaves came out of the kiln the next morning - not amber, but yellow! They turned out to be some of my most popular leaves, too - who knew?! I think I tend to stay away from this glass because of the fact that I can't wear yellow - and because the various opaque yellow glass colors tend to boil easily. But from time to time I "break out of my 9 dots" and make something yellow. Here are a few beads I've done recently on a base of yellow, or actually yellows (no, I can't make a base bead in a single color) - before I knew that yellow was going to be big in 2009. Both of these beads are on sale in my Etsy shop - Jumping Jack Glass. I'm starting to get myself into a mood to make more yellow beads, which is very unusual for me. Perhaps tomorrow...

Quite some time ago, I hauled out my size 5 triangles and made a peyote stitch bracelet in shades of yellow and amber. This one, I embellished with one of my lampwork leaf beads, my lampwork branch bead, and other assorted goodies. It's rather weighty, but I really like the feel of something substantial on my wrist.

Here's the bracelet - I think there will be more of these in my future!

Speaking of yellow, I'm teaching session 3 of my "Beadmaking 2" class tonight, and it seems that my students really like the "yellow apricot" glass. I like it a lot as well - it's my favorite new demo color. For the longest time, I made all my demo beads with "periwinkle". I donate all my demo beads to Beads of Courage, and I decided that the kids needed something other than periwinkle beads so now they get sunny happy yellow beads. So it looks like I'll be making more "color of the year" beads this evening. Perhaps tomorrow when I work in my own studio, I'll pull out all my yellows and see what I can mix up.

Now everyone's probably yellowed out for today. And it's time for me to get ready to go to class, so I'll leave you on a sunny note. Have a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Time Vacuum...

Have I ever mentioned how much of a time vacuum the computer can be? I knew this when I was in the midst of my geek career - how soon we can forget! I spent the entire day changing my website around. I was planning on making beads today, but noooooo... And to make matters worse, this is the 2nd time I'm writing this blog post. I wrote it, previewed it, hit the "Publish Post" button and the dang thing went out into the stratosphere. Told me I couldn't publish without a valid ID. Fascinating - what sort of cyber-critter ate my ID?

Several of you folks have signed up for my newsletter over the years and I've had a horrible time with my emails. Folks just don't get them, so my newsletters only reach some of the people on my list. I've decided that for now, no more newsletters. What does that mean? Well, I'll be putting all of the information that would have gone into my newsletter here in my blog. If you'd like to get up-to-the-minute (or at least up-to-the-week) news about Jumping Jack Glass, just subscribe to my blog and you'll be able to know what's happening before it actually happens! No more missing my shows due to lack of communication. No more missing out on bead specials. And you can actually sign up for my classes before they're full!

Well, tomorrow, I absolutely HAVE to make beads! So perhaps you'll get to see pix of what comes out of the kiln. In the mean time, I'll leave you with a work in progress. Here's a bracelet I started the other day. I haven't decided what kind of clasp I'm going to make for it - I'm still deciding whether or not I like the components the way they are. I got these 2 chunks of coral at the Intergem show over Thanksgiving weekend, I made the hollow bead (yep, it's hollow) a long time ago, and the round stone is "African Turquoise", which is actually Jasper. Any comments? Suggestions? Should I rearrange it? Go back to the drawing board? I'd love your input, I'm just not sure about this one. I do love the "chunkiness" of it, though.

Until next time...
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