Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back From the Miami Heat

Phew! I am SO not used to high humidity anymore. Not that I ever liked it when I lived in Connecticut, but since I've lived in a dry climate for most of my years I really have a struggle with humidity. So most of the time I spent at the annual Gathering of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers was in the hotel. And what a lovely time I had! Now that I've FINALLY gotten over my week-long jet lag, I can bring you a few highlights of my trip.

While lots of folks were taking pix of the "usual sights" around Miami, I focused on some of the not-so-typical things that caught my eye. So if you're expecting to see turquoise water, white sand, pink flamingos, you're going to be terribly disappointed. Here are some of the strange things I encountered.

On my way to breakfast one morning, a 3-block stroll down the street, I encountered this ad for a restaurant plastered to the side of a building. Despite the not-so-subtle message, I decided to stick with my original destination for a bowl of scrambled eggs with fresh veggies and a whole grain bagel. Sushi is definitely not on my regular "morning eats" list! It did get my taste buds fired up, though...

Finding indoor walkways is rewarding when you're trying to avoid exposing yourself to the tropical elements. On another morning stroll through one of those walkways, we encountered a sign on the door of a local bank. It made me wonder just how many gun-toting folks there are in this town. And are they really stupid enough to bring their weapons into a bank? I literally laughed out loud when I saw this.

I shared a suite in the hotel with two of my local friends - Sharon Peters and Janice Peacock. I arrived at the hotel late Wednesday night, and as Sharon and I headed out for breakfast the next morning I looked out the window in the seating area near the 12th-floor elevators. Sharon pointed out the building across the street and told me that she had dubbed it the Janice Peacock building. Take a good look at the pillars near the edge of the building.

Janice gave a presentation at the Gathering that included a demo of how she makes her mask beads. Here are a few of Janice's beads - and gosh, they really do look like the pillars of that building across the street from the Miami Hyatt! What was really strange was that when you drive by those pillars, you can't see the faces - they just look like a bunch of spuds. I like the "Janice Peacock Building" much better than the "Idaho Potato Building"...

I'll have more on Miami later - right now I'm going to turn into a sleeping body. It's past my bedtime, and I DO need my beauty sleep (as if that's going to help, LOL!). Hope you're all having a happy and creative weekend!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Irons In the Fire

Since I'm taking a quick break from packing for my trip to Miami, I'm going to give you a sneak peek at some of the projects that I'll be starting when I return in a week. I'm not leaving until Wednesday but I have to teach a class tomorrow night, so I thought I'd get a jump start on trying to figure out how many suitcases I need to take.

I've made some purchases in the last few weeks with the intention of including them in my fiber pieces. I have a small collection of ceramic pieces by Lisa Peters, which I acquired when I was at the Bead & Button Show. I'll be using several of them on wearable pieces, perhaps with some of my glass beads as well. When I saw this pair of orange lips in her Etsy shop, I just had to jump on it! I'm probably going to incorporate it into a bag. I've got some rather wild ideas about what the bag will look like, and I just might make some glass eye beads to go with it.

On a more conservative note, I couldn't resist these crackle white raku donuts from MAKUstudio. I'm definitely going to put them on a vessel - I just haven't decided yet if I'm going to put both of them on the same vessel or if I'm going to make a separate vessel for each of them. I've already made a glass bead to go with one of the donuts, and the other will have some components that I haven't used on a vessel yet.

Here are some of the fibers I've chosen to work with - Merino wool, Harrisville fleece, hand-dyed (not by me) variegated silk, and a commercial ribbon yarn that I've had for a few years - along with my glass bead. I'm not going to show you the other components - it'll be a surprise. :-)

This is going to be an extremely earthy vessel... or two. I can't wait to get started on these new projects!

Before I resume stuffing my suitcase, I want to dedicate this post to my brave and determined fur kid Peanut. Last Friday while hubby was out walking the dogs, Peanut's left hind leg gave out on her and she collapsed. After they got home, her leg was shaking, she couldn't put any weight on it, and she ended up tossing her breakfast. That continued for awhile with additional vomiting, so I took her over to the animal hospital. They did xrays, gave her pain meds, put her on an IV to replenish her fluids, and kept her overnight. They determined that she was vomiting because of the sudden onslaught of severe pain. She has arthritis and bone spurs around her knee, with a possible torn ACL, so we scheduled knee surgery for her that's supposed to happen this Thursday. But she bounced back - as she always does - and to look at her now, you'd never know there was anything wrong with her. She's jumping around and very happy. Perhaps she decided that at 12 years old she didn't want to take a chance with the surgery. Whatever it was, I'm incredibly relieved!

We've almost lost her 3 times to pancreatitis, she has epilepsy, she had surgery on her other knee almost 4 years ago, she had an infection that required intramuscular injections three times a day for 2 weeks, and she's such a trooper. Hat's off to you, Peanut!

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative week! I'll be back from Miami on the 27th with undoubtedly lots of inspiration.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Inspiration And a WIP

Well Monday has come and gone, and rather than look for new inspiration I started to panic a bit. I'm leaving for Miami in a week and I still have so many things I have to make before I go. Then I realized that Miami will probably provide lots of inspiration for future projects.

I haven't been to Miami since 1973 - yikes! But when I think of Miami, I think of turquoise water and white sandy beaches, art deco, neon colors, palm trees, and humid heat. So I started looking around at pix of Miami to add some fuel to my thoughts just in case I'm so busy at the ISGB Gathering that I don't get out to take any of my own pix.

Here's some deco goodness - and these colors just scream Miami to me. That pink-capped cylinder on the right might make a great focal bead, yes? I'm not sure if I have any glass in my stash that comes close to that Pepto Bismol pink, I'll have to take a look.

And this building on the right is a nice study for some dot techniques and twisted cane. There's that pink again... It looks as if this town is just loaded with turquoise and pink objects. Maybe I should make some turquoise and pink beads for the bead bazaar there - they could be a hit with the locals.

Now here's quite a sight. It took me a while to figure out what was going on in this picture. Talk about neon colors - if I were to go bowl a few strings in this place I'd have to keep my shades on! Yep, this is a place called Strike Miami - and when I checked out their site on the web, I found out that there's a Strike Cupertino. That's about 20 miles from my house here in California - who knew?! Look at those bowling balls - like huge bubble gum! And I saw some pictures of the pins - same colors as the balls, yowza!

Oh, I could have lots of fun playing with these caliente colors in the glass lab. And it would fit right in with the weather we're having right now. In fact, I was supposed to be teaching a bead making class tonight but we canceled it. It went up to 97 degrees F today and there's no air conditioning in the hot shop where I teach. There were also going to be 2 benches going in the glass blowing area, which would add lots of heat to the building. That was it, I just checked out. But back to Miami... Here's the last image I'll put out here - even the Port of Miami Bridge at night looks flashy.

Despite the fact that I've been gathering up all this inspiration for my creative endeavors, my execution is still back at the kelp and coral pix. But the vessel has been felted and now I'm in the process of embellishing it. The coral side is finished! Here's my latest WIP picture - obviously not a professional one. I'm going to have to get some other background material for my impromptu pictures - this stuff is too close to the color of the vessel. But you get the idea.

The kelp side of the vessel will also have fish beads on it. I'm in the process of doing bead embroidery on the kelp, then I'll add the fish and some 3D kelp, then I'll weave a beaded coral reef for the rim of the vessel. And if I can find them, I'll add a few more teeny fish that have been in my stash for years. I just hope that will all this "stuff" hanging off the sides of the vessel it will still stand up.

I'm off to do some beading now - have yourselves a happy and creative week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

"If I Had a Hammer..."

... as Pete Seeger wrote all those years ago... "I'd hammer in the morning, I'd hammer in the evening all over this land."

Well, I DO have a hammer, much to my surprise and delight! Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio had a blog giveaway that I blogged about a short while ago. I was completely blown away when I discovered that I had won the embossing hammer that was part of the giveaway. A great big whole-hearted THANK YOU to you, Cindy! Looking forward to hammering all over the land. :-D

And this morning while enjoying my cuppa, I opened up the latest Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine that came in the mail yesterday and staring at me was an article by Cindy. You too can make this gorgeous "Concerto" necklace of hers!
Check out Cindy's blog for more of her work and generosity!

Today will be a torch day for me - first one in a long time! Last night I finished felting and fulling my ocean vessel and today I'll be making some beads to add to its surface.

Here's a look at both sides of the vessel after it was laid out in the wet lab.

During the fulling of the vessel, I ended up removing some parts of the coral as well as the "stem" on the kelp. I was unhappy with the way the kelp looked, and I have an alternative that I'm going to try. Right now, the vessel looks a whole lot different than it did when I took these pix. And when I finally finish it, it will look WAY different!

This is the largest vessel I've made so far - it stands 8 inches tall and is 6 inches wide. I'll start embellishing it this evening - can't wait!

And now the torch is calling me. Go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday Inspiration

With so many projects in progress, I won't be able to get to all my inspiration pix for awhile. But this morning I took my camera with me while I was out walking before breakfast. I've walked by these trees many many times, and last week I took a closer look. So today I took some pictures for my inspiration file. Now I can't decide if this should be inspiration for a vessel - I think it fits that sort of object quite well - or if I should create another scarf with these sorts of patterns. That might be interesting - a rough looking pattern executed in some soft silk and wool to wrap around the neck.

Tree bark has such wonderful texture, and the roots of these trees get pretty gnarly. I've had first-hand experience with those roots. Several years ago, I was out doing a power walk with my hubby, and we were on the last leg - just about home. My legs were worn out, but I was determined to get home without slowing down. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying strict attention to where I was putting my feet. Some of these tree roots had come up out of the ground underneath the sidewalk and pushed up one slab of the sidewalk a little higher than its neighbor. My toe caught the edge of the slab and I became airborne. Not being trained in the art of gymnastic recovery, I found myself headed face first with not enough wits about me to roll when I hit the ground. I did a face plant on the sidewalk and put one of my teeth almost all the way through my bottom lip. That was on a Sunday - I had to go to work on Monday, and most of my work friends avoided me like the plague. I'm sure they didn't want to have to come up with something clever to say about my "spousal abuse". Sure enough, after I spoke with all of them they told me that they were pretty much convinced that that's what had happened to me. Yikes! That's just so foreign to me - my guy is one of the kindest people I know!

Anyhow, I've since befriended these nasty old tree roots and perhaps they will guide me in an upcoming project. But for now, it's going to be the ocean. I'm determined to get that one finished before I have another birthday. Since I'm a Capricorn, I guess I have a little bit of time left.

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative day!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Before I Say Good Night...

I wanted to show you the finished "Raku" vessel. This is the vessel that I made to go with the lovely raku beads that I purchased from MAKUstudio. I ended up using only one of the beads. I kept going back and forth about whether or not I should use either of the other beads and finally decided that less is more. I already have a plan for the other two beads!

This vessel as well as my "Zen" vessel are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop - Flames & Fiber. Gosh, it's really hard to part with both of these - my newest babies. But if I kept all of my favorite creations, I'd have to move into a warehouse!

And now I'm off to get a good night's sleep - my ocean project is calling me, and it's huge!

Have yourselves a happy and creative week ahead!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"I Love a Parade...

... the tramping of feet, I love every beat I hear of a drum."

Here's to a happy Independence Day weekend to all my fellow US citizens - and a happy July 4th weekend to everyone!

I spent my July 4th in a parade. Yep, that's right - my friend Sharon, her step daughter and I got all "duded up" and rode in the Mayor's Fourth of July Parade in Alameda, CA.

Here we are just getting underway... can you guess which one I am? Check out this car, will ya! A cherry 1960 Chrysler Imperial...

Here we are waving our feathers at the crowd.

Still haven't guessed which one of these dames is Shirley? hmmm...

So back to the world of glass and fiber... I've finished up a few more vessels, and I'll have the "raku" vessel complete this evening.

Here's the vessel that I made as a sample for the kits that I sold at the Bead & Button Show. I decided that I didn't want a nekkid vessel, so now it's wearing "jewelry".

And here is the vessel that was inspired by the Chihuly pieces in his "Basket" series. It has a bit of a Zen feel to me. I've embellished both sides of the vessel, and it will be going into my Etsy shop in a bit.

I haven't gotten very far on my ocean piece. Here's what's on my work table out in the wet lab...

I've cut out some templates and rolled up a few balls of wool. Tomorrow I'm going to try and make some serious headway on this project. A few more ideas have been floating around in my head since I started looking at my inspiration pictures, and I think it will be fun!

Oh, and if you're still wondering which of those crazy feather- and tiara-clad gals is me, well... we won "3rd Place Vehicle" in the parade, and here I am holding the trophy! (and no, I really don't have red hair...)

Now go have yourselves a happy and creative weekend!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Jumping Into the Ocean

I'm just about ready to head out the door to go teach my bead making class - but I wanted to post a preview of the stash I'm gathering to work on my ocean project. These are some of the fibers I've selected. I have some other goodies up my sleeve, but those will have to wait for a later post - I don't want to ruin the surprise! :-)

There's such a variation here from dark to light that the colors of these fibers didn't register properly. That ball in the middle that looks almost white is actually a lovely minty green. The in-your-face green in the front is actually more of a yellow-green up-close-and-personal.

I have some things that arrived in the mail today that I'm going to try to incorporate into my mini-ocean. These will require some glass beads to be added to them - I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this all works. It's going to be pretty wild, I think.

And now I'm off to teach. Have yourselves a happy and creative day!
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