Friday, August 26, 2016

Some projects are just #!@#!@#!@

I think you get my drift. Some projects just seem to give me fits where I vow to throw the whole thing out the window. This Greensleeves Collar design was such a project but I am so glad the stubborn side of me persisted because the finished result is pretty special.

This project had been sitting in my to-do pile for several years so that probably should have told me something. The design, by Jill Devon, was from the 2010 Beadwork Magazine. It requires quite a few different types of beads - triangles, size 11/0's, drops and 4 mm bi-cones so it took me a little time to round everything up but then I just kept deferring until a month or two ago when I took it with me on a trip.

The whole necklace uses right angle weave, which I don't do very often, so this was a great way to hone those skills. The first part of the necklace was great fun. You make the back straps and the connecting modules. But once I got to the front section, I was in trouble. You make a series of four graduating strands of right angle weave and have to take care that the strands don't get twisted when you are connecting the right side of the necklace to  the left side. Seems simple enough, eh?


Despite all the care I took to make sure they were straight, I finished the fourth strand only to hold it up, try it on and discover ##@@!@! they were twisted! Arghhhhhh. Yes, I had to rip them all out and start over.

Determined not to be outsmarted by a couple of teeny beads, I pulled out my macrame board and decided to mount the strands on the board to help keep everything aligned while I was fastening off the strands.

I took a little comfort when I noticed another beader had similar frustration with the design. I don't agree that the design itself is flawed but I do think Jill could have added extra emphasis to the caution about the twisting strands in the tutorial.

I held my breath as I connected the last strand. Yes! (fist pump) They were straight!

Yay! Straight strands!
This picture doesn't really capture how pretty it looks when it is on. I think it would look great with an open collar blouse.

Here's one of my favorite features of this necklace. I used multi-color triangles in the middle strands and they really give the necklace a more playful feel and also allow it to go with multiple looks.

The tribulations and rewards of this design remind me of the famous Winston Churchill quote and the expression on his face below was a lot like mine about half way through this project.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Beady purchases

Earlier this month, I attended the Art Unraveled Art Retreat Expo in Phoenix. I would have loved to take some of the classes but I am so busy at work it was impossible to fit in some vacation days but what a terrific line-up of teachers! I was especially interested in Laurie Mika, Jen Cushman, Roxanne Evans Stout and Susan Lenart Kazmer. I had to content myself with attending the Shopping Extravaganza on Saturday. Extravaganza is a bit of an exaggeration as the show floor was a modest size but I still found some great items.

Here's my favorite - a fabulous hand-painted Frida Khalo pillow by Olive Rose. I just love the quote, "At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can." Olive Rose has some adorable kitty creatures so cat lovers might want to check out the web site.

You might remember my love for all things Frida from a blog post several years ago where I shared a photo of my Frida chair.

I did pick up a couple packets of assorted bead shapes for embroidery, some buttons (which you always need) and some gorgeous blue glass flowers.

And when I returned home, I found another package awaiting with some purchases I had made on The Lipstick Ranch site a couple days earlier. I discovered this wonderful artist a couple years ago at Tucson and have been purchasing rustic pendants and charms from her ever since. If you're interested, you can read about their background and how they operate their mom and pop business from their dairy farm, which makes me love their products even more. Anyhoo -- here's my latest purchase:

Wonderful rustic pendants from The Lipstick Ranch
Now I need to get busy putting my new purchases to work!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Allegory Gallery Mystery Challenge 2 Reveal

I haven't done a beading challenge since April with Andrew Thornton's Hidden Cove Challenge. So I signed up for his second mystery challenge, where you don't know what your kit will contain and you just take a leap of faith that inspiration will strike regardless of the color combination.

I was so happy when my kit arrived since it was primarily blue and yellow and I thought, "Great! I will make something in the University of Pittsburgh colors since football season is right around the corner."

Mystery Challenge 2 Kit - Bead soup at lower right

But I just couldn't decide what to do. I started and stopped a few designs and at the end of the post I have a photo of one of the designs I stopped. I am working with a large load in the office right now and have even fewer leisure hours than normal so I decided to just not participate in this round. But this past week-end, I looked at the bead soup shown in the above photo and decided to try a design that used all the  crazy colors and shapes in the bag along with a tube of brilliant yellow seed beads. The interplay of bold vibrant colors reminded me of a carnival-like atmosphere so I called it Carnivale.

Carnivale Necklace and Earrings

Oh, and if you are interested, here is my reject item. I started out with a bib design using a map of Arizona which I printed on muslin using Artist Transfer Paper.

Once I started adding the bead dangles, I thought the colors looked too gaudy although I do like the sweet little peyote heart. For now, it is sitting in my UFO box and maybe I will finish it one day.

Please visit the Allegory Gallery Mystery Challenge page on Facebook for more creations. I'm a little on the fence about how I like Facebook as a platform for challenges. I really liked the format Sally Russick used in her challenges but we haven't had one of those in awhile. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has participated in any challenges hosted on Facebook.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Crochet and Mom

I don’t crochet very often and when I do, it’s usually to make something like this bead crochet bangle I recently made for one of my Art Jewelry Adventure classes.

Or this Turkish flat crochet bracelet, designed by Marion Hunziker-Larson.

I receive Marion’s newsletters which are always a fascinating recap of various new cords and techniques. Her latest newsletter shared these very awesome barefoot sandals. Now forgive the “Fred Flintstone” toes - feet are not my best feature. If you really want to see some nice feet in barefoot sandals, check out Marion’s blog where she generously shares her tutorial. I don’t go barefoot much these days - living in the desert always presents a risk of a stray scorpion under foot. But for my young nieces, these might be just the ticket for pool or yoga wear. Oh - and PS - it's really hard to take pictures of your own feet!

Barefoot Sandals Design by Marion Hunziker-Larson

Every time I crochet, I feel close to my Mom, who was a champion crochet-er, seamstress, doll-maker, cook - you name it. She made my wedding dress which I have written about before. All I can say is she would have LOVED the Internet and left us way too soon.

Wedding Dress by Mom: Mary Margaret Seymour

I need to look for some photos of Mom’s crochet which was lacy, gorgeous and perfectly crafted. While on my recent crochet jag, I saw a YouTube tutorial by Melanie Ham for a crochet basket made with clothesline and thought that was a very cool idea. Melanie is adorable and a terrific instructor. So I ordered some clothesline and followed her pattern to make this basket.

Then I was on a roll. I made these baskets using the same technique but different cord:

And this is one of my favorites. I came across this tutorial bundle on Etsy by JaKiGu and the directions are wonderful and the baskets are so beautiful:

Jute Basket Tutorial by JaKiGu

I don’t really need any baskets but I must admit they look great in my kitchen and great room and gave me some wonderful moments thinking of Mom.
© Cave Creek Beads