Friday, February 28, 2014

Spring retreat day 1

Happy retreat day!  It's late into day 1, and hilarity has already ensued.  Walking from one side of the room to the other is tricky and a little hazardous - there are bags and cords and all kinds of things all over the place.

Here is the table where I'm sitting:

From left to right is Judy, Kathy, Cindy, Sue, a space where I sit, and Kate.  They're all laughing not because I was particularly witty but because Robert Dancik was behind me doing I don't know what - bunny ears or something.  The other two chairs are now taken by Amy and Nancy. 

Here's the middle of the table:

I don't know if you can tell what all is there, but we will not be going hungry.  This was relatively early in the day. More has been dumped there since. 

After dinner, the booze came out:

Judy brought two of those big bottles, and Sue brought two of these:

Judy wins. :)

I am working on my keyboard innards bracelet. I've finished the top bit, and I'm working on the edging:

I should be done with this tonight or tomorrow. The apricots help with the creativity.

Here's one final picture for you:

The caption for this photo is, "Not having done any beading since October, anonymous LBS member digs through her bag for something to work on."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Packing for the retreat

The retreat is tomorrow!  The retreat is tomorrow!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you must be new here, as I've been talking about it a lot the last week or longer.  "The retreat" is the Loose Bead Society spring retreat.  Every year LBS members flock to Racine, Wisconsin to the Radisson Hotel Racine Harbourwalk for three days of beading, eating, shopping, class-taking, and obligation-leaving-behind.  We start getting excited about the retreat the day after the last year's retreat.

The first year I went I decided to not stay in the hotel.  Racine is only an hour away - why pay money for the hotel?  Big mistake.  I was sick and stayed too late on Friday night because I was having too much fun.  I made it home safely, but it was way too hard to tear myself away.  I have stayed in the hotel ever since.  I miss Steve and the cats, of course, but it's nice to get away for a few days.

The hardest part of the retreat is the packing.  What to bring?  What to leave at home?  That's a problem whether you're packing for a bead retreat or a day of scrapbooking.  I think I've gotten pretty good at it.  I bring way more than I'm going to work on, but that means I'll have options.  After the retreat, I have a bunch of projects already ready to go.

I may have shown you this overnight case before:

We found it in the attic after we moved into this house.  I love it.  It's hard and trapezoidal, so I can use it as a footstool.  Because I'm short and have (many) issues, it's necessary for me to be able to put my feet up if I need to.  I have two footstools in my office - one under the computer and one under the other area of the desk where I work, and I have an ottoman in the living room.  This case has been a godsend at more than one retreat.

Another benefit of this case is that it holds an awful lot!  Let's peek inside:

The "photo" boxes in the middle hold the vast majority of my Delicas, a bunch of keys, a number of miscellaneous bezel projects, and my brick stitch samples and materials.  This section alone would give me plenty to do throughout the weekend.

On the left side I have my project bags.  This first one is a bezel project that I've been wanting to work on.  It's slightly orange and will be funky:

This next one is another bezel project using some of the same beads as the above one.  It will be in browns and taupes as requested by my Aunt Nancy:

You can't really see the colors there.  Here's a better picture:

Remember the computer keyboard innards bracelet I showed you when I first got sick?  I wasn't happy with how off-kilter it was, so I took it apart.  I very lightly adhered the two layers together, and I hope that will help (and that the adhesive won't show too much):

This is another bezel project I've been sitting on for about 2 years:

The focal is a recycled sawdust piece made by Priscilla Beads.  You can see her recycled sawdust pieces here.  I think I've shown you her things before.  Let me check.  Yup!  You can see my matched set here.  It sure would be nice to show Priscilla a finished piece at this year's Bead&Button Show!  Her booth is all the way in the back near the concession area - stop by and see her and her gorgeous pieces!

This next one is a purple/gray colorway for my Quadrille design:

I'm thinking of making kits for this design for the Madison Art Glass and Bead Show, so it's important to see if the colors I chose for this one look good.  Yeah, that's why.  It's not at all that I want a new purple/gray bracelet.  No, not at all.

This final one (whew!) is going to be a funky Cobblestone Path bracelet:

I've used these colors for an It's Got Legs bracelet (see the Fire colorway here), and I've been wanting to put this one together for a while now.

Wow.  I need about 5 retreats to make all of those pieces.  I'm also bringing along my 2014 B&B Show commemorative beads, so I can stare at them and so other people can look at them if they want to:

And finally, I'm bringing the pieces I'm donating to the Cinderella project that I discussed yesterday:

The case holds a lot, but it does not hold my Ott light (which I almost forgot to pack!) or my little Caboodle case that holds all the pliers, needles, beading mat, findings, and all the little necessities:

While I'm fairly compact when it comes to my projects, I wasn't able to do as well with the supplies needed for my stamped dominoes class.  I'll spare you the gory details.  (You're welcome)  Here's what our back hallway looks like with all of those supplies, my project supplies, and a bag of snacks/miscellaneous things:

That's not even including my clothes.  Eek!  I'm riding with two other people - I hope there's room in Judy's car for everything!

Carol is a new friend (she replaced me as Webgoddess of the Society), and this will be her first year going to the retreat.  She sent me this e-mail this morning:
Wise one,
Since I've not attended a retreat before is there anything else I should bring other than personal stuff and beading projects? and camera, of course.

Let me know if I'm missing something.

Thanks and see you tomorrow.
I don't know if the coughing has loosened something in my brain, but this was my reply:
It is good for you to have asked.  Wise one always dresses in layers and brings a sweater so she is neither too hot nor too cold.  She also brings one or two snacks to share with the table so none goes hungry.  Other wise ones bring nectars of the gods, as drunken beading is enjoyable.  Bring lots of gold, as there will be a shopping trip to the Funkiest of Hannahs.  While there, also bring your appetite - they lay out a bountiful appetizer/snack table.
Fear not if you forget something - someone will have the pair of pliers you need or a spare needle.
I will see you on the morrow!
(Wise One)
And with that, I bid you adieu.  I need to spend a little time with my husband before I abandon him for 3 days.  :)

The next few blog posts will be from the retreat!  Come back to see if I finish any of my thousand projects.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pink cube bracelet and earrings

I'm saving all of my stitching projects for the LBS spring retreat, which is in just a few days.  There's no way I'm going to finish all of them, but it's nice to have options while I'm there.

In my never-ending quest to use up supplies, I decided to make a bracelet to match the earrings I showed you on Saturday.  I pulled out my bracelet beading board that I acquired a few years ago and very carefully lined up just over 6" of beads:

With the clasp it would be around 7" long.  If you have never used a beading board (bracelet or necklace), here's the basics on how it's done - the middle is marked as zero with each inch counting out from there.  If you line up the beads right next to each other, as I did above, you know exactly how long the piece will be.  The ruts in necklace boards are curved, and there are usually multiple ruts so you can plan multi-stranded necklaces.  I'd show you a picture of mine, but it's currently AWOL.  Here are some examples of beading boards from Fire Mountain Gems:  the bracelet board I'm using, regular necklace board, long necklace board.

All the boards I've seen are flocked so beads won't roll around willy-nilly, but it's still hard to get the little buggers to line up correctly.  With round or cube beads it isn't quite as hard, but most of the beads I used are rondelles.  If they don't "sit up and fly right", I won't get an accurate measurement.  I nudged them with my fingers and with my Xuron 4 in 1 crimpers.

After stringing, I measured again, and it looks like I did a good job:

Here's the final bracelet after adding the clasp:

It may be hard to tell, but there are pink rondelles as well as clear ones in two sizes.  It's very subtle.

After making the bracelet I had 5 cubes left and possibly enough rondelles to make a necklace.  I decided the middle of the necklace would exactly match the bracelet, so I lined everything up on the right side of my board.  I then divvied up the rest of the beads to see if it was possible:

Hmm.  I had 5 inches of beads measured out with the corresponding beads in the middle circle.  So if the middle section is 6", the whole beaded part of the necklace would be 16".  The clasp would add about an inch, so that's 17".  I had to decide if that would be long enough or if I'd have to supplement with another type of bead.  Most people have skinnier necks than I do, so I decided that 17" was just fine.

Here's the final necklace:

I have to say again how much I love my Xuron 4 in 1 crimpers.  If you haven't read my review yet, check it out here.  I will say that the quality of the crimp beads is about as important as the crimp tool.  If you use cheap crimp beads, you're going to get a crappy crimp no matter what tool you use.  At the last Rings&Things bead show here in Milwaukee I picked up a package of their silver plated size 2 crimp beads, and they work like a dream.  If you're interested in purchasing the crimp pliers from me, I have two left.  Check out my Etsy listing.

When I was completely finished, I had yet another dilemma:

I had leftovers.  I've talked about this before - I really, really, really like using up all beads if possible.  I stared at the three stooges and grumbled to Steve.

He asked, "Why don't you make a dangle and add it to the bracelet?"

That was a great idea!  He had meant it for the center of the bracelet, but that would throw off my symmetry.  I've seen pieces with dangles at the clasp, so that's what I did:

I should have used a softer headpin for this - the wrapped loop was a little difficult.

Here's the final set, after I spent an unbelievable amount of time trying to get good pictures:

The best part?  I used up four types of beads!

As I was entering these into my inventory program so I could tag them for sale, I kept thinking that since the pieces are on the smallish side, they'd be perfect for teenage girls.  The fanciness of the crystals reminded me of prom, and that reminded me that the Loose Bead Society members donate jewelry for the Cinderella Project - an annual event where deserving girls receive prom dresses and jewelry for their big day.  After the girls choose their dresses, LBS members help them pick jewelry to match.  I haven't donated anything yet this year, so I decided this set might be appropriate.  I'm going to take it to the retreat and see if our Community Service Coordinator agrees!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Domino gluing (not exciting but necessary)

I've mentioned before that this weekend is the Loose Bead Society spring retreat and that I'm teaching my stamped domino class.  Part of that preparation is gluing the bails on the dominoes so once the sealer is dry (about 24 hours after spraying), the piece can be worn with no further delay.

I had some problems with the last batch I glued, so last night I got settled on the couch to sand the dominoes, bails, and a few pin backs.  Sanding the surfaces gives them some "teeth" instead of being super smooth, and the glue will hopefully work better.  The Voice premiere was on, so I didn't mind doing it.  I glued more than enough for ten students, guessing on how many dominoes should be portrait and how many should be landscape.  I also did 5 pins.  In my experience, pins have not been as popular as pendants.

Have you ever wondered - in the middle of the night when you can't sleep - what 45 drying dominoes look like?  Here - I'll help you out:

That's so exciting I'm sure it'll put you to sleep in no time.  I know I was lulled into a near-drowsy state while sanding.  Perhaps that's what I should do the next time I have insomnia.

While I was going through the dominoes I saw a number of them with the same number of dots on each half.  I'm sure there's a name for that, but I've never played dominoes.  I thought they were cute, so I picked one with purple dots, sanded and glued the bail on the blank side, and applied some "Slate" (gray) alcohol ink to give it a bit of a marble look.  When I dabbed it with alcohol after inking, some brown elements came out.  That was odd, but I think it's subtle and adds depth:

It's really hard to see in the picture.  The color of the dots is a bit redder in real life, but you get the idea.

In non-domino related news, Steve has caught my cold.  He's absolutely miserable and is currently under the influence of Nyquil.  I hope he feels better soon so he can frolic while I'm in Racine frolicking.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Alcohol ink card

Yesterday I showed you an alcohol ink sampler and some bigger swatches I made with some of the color samples.  I said that today I'd show you a card with one way to use the inked up swatches.

I looked through some of my stamps and found the Stampin' Up! "Botantical Garden" set.  The background is all "black" (or whatever ink color you choose), so I thought that would be perfect to let the alcohol inks show through.  I chose the one with leaves, inked it up with StazOn (because the paper is a little glossy), and stamped:

Large stamps or stamps with a lot of "black space" are a little tricky.  I didn't press down enough, and the image wasn't very good.  I cut this color swatch out and tried again, this time bringing the paper to the stamp (instead of the stamp to the paper):

While I'm on this picture, here's a stamp organizational tip:  label your wooden stamps.  I found this essential for my many Stampin' Up! stamps.  If I pull a bunch of them out for a project, it's easy to find which box each stamp goes in.  I also put my initials on them in case I loan them out.  The "2/3" in the above picture means that this is stamp #2 out of 3 in the set.  I don't know if I need that, but I like being thorough.

Unfortunately, I didn't press down enough this time, either.  The result is better, but not by much.

The first impression is on the right (stamp-to-paper), and the second impression is on the left (paper-to-stamp).

Le sigh.  Stamping is always an adventure, I tell ya.

I tried with a different stamp on the purple/pink swatch, bringing paper to stamp and gently rubbing all over.  This time it worked a lot better:

There are a couple areas where the ink didn't transfer, but it looks great to me!  The one thing I don't like about these stamps is that even with a good impression, there are some blotchy areas in the background.  I don't know if that would get better the more I use the stamps or if I used something particular to clean them.  If anyone knows, please comment on this post and let me know.  I'd love to use these stamps more, but the blotchiness makes me not want to.

On a separate piece of paper I stamped "Hello":

That was one of the best impressions I've ever had!  I cut it out and adhered it on the left side of the color swatch:

The above picture is a scan - I couldn't get a good picture using the camera.

One thing to remember is that the alcohol inks have to come first.  It would be nice to stamp first then color it (so the leaves could be a different color than the flower), but the alcohol inks have a tendency to make other inks run.

If you've made anything with alcohol inks, I'd love to see it!  E-mail a picture to, and I'll post it here!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Alcohol ink sampler

As you may know, this weekend is the Loose Bead Society spring retreat.  No, it's not spring yet, but we like to dream.  If you knew about the retreat, you also probably know that I'm teaching a stamped dominoes class on Saturday night.  For examples of the dominoes, click here.

I use alcohol inks for the backgrounds on the dominoes, and to prepare for the class I wanted some new colors.  I already had six colors, but I thought some variety would be nice.

When I made more key and gear dominoes for the Gardens and Gears show, I was surprised at how some of the colors looked, so I decided to make a sampler sheet that I could take to classes.  I did a test sheet to decide how I wanted them arranged, and on the final sheet I added little samplers of different colors together so my students could get an idea of how they would look.  It will be a little different on the dominoes but not by much.

While I was doing that, I thought it would be nice to make larger swatches that could be used for cards:

I really like all the colors I chose.  Tomorrow I'll make a card with one of the large swatches so you can see what I plan to do with them.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pink cube earrings

I'm feeling a little better, but I sound a lot worse.  The coughing is still pretty bad, and if it doesn't start improving, I'm going to call the doctor on Monday.

I did a little bookkeeping work today, as I had another Etsy order (yay!).  I'm so far behind, so it's going to take a while to dig out.  I'm thrilled that my business has done so well this year, but it's a bit overwhelming to wade through my notes and make sure everything gets entered.

Today I made a very quick pair of pink cube earrings using the One Step Looper I reviewed a while ago.

I frequently get requests for daintier things, so I thought I'd bulk up inventory a bit while I'm under the weather.

That's it for me today.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something more interesting to show you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Addition to quote book plus attempt at Zentangles

Unfortunately, my cold still has a firm grip on my head and lungs.  I'm still not up to doing much, but I didn't want to skip blogging today.

I've talked about my quote book before, and I thought adding to it tonight would be a good thing to do while lounging on the couch coughing.

I couldn't decide on any stamps or inks or anything, so I decided just to pick one and use large letters that would hopefully look nice:

It looked a lot better in my head.  Then I remembered Zentangles and thought I'd try that.  The basic idea as I understand it is that you do different patterns in different sections on the paper.

I drew a line around the quote:

Then I worked my way around the page.  I didn't take pictures of the process, because it was difficult to hold the iPad and the quote book at the same time.  I was able to do it one more time when I was finished:

No, this isn't a great thing, and it doesn't really look as nice as the Zentangles I've seen online.  It's the best I can do, so it will have to do.  I thought the concept matched the quote, so it works for me.  It reminded me of freeform bead embroidery - I had to figure out what I was going to do for each section and how to fill in various places.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Resin vial that didn't work well

I'm still sick, so this post will be short.  I mentioned yesterday that if I was still sick I'd show you a resin project I tried that didn't work.

There are basically two types of resin: the kind you mix that cures on its own with time and a UV resin that cures under a lamp.  I like the UV resin because I don't like mixing OR waiting.  I'm a trifle impatient.

Remember in my enameling post a while ago I showed you two small locks?  I wanted to have those and two small keys "floating" in resin in a vial I had found in an antique store.

Because the vial was round on the bottom, I took a glob of polymer clay and pressed the vial into it so it could stand up on its own.  The vial was taller than the opening of the UV lamp, so I turned the lamp on its side:

Here's a closer look at the vial with the first key being cured:

What I tried to do was to put some resin in and after part of it was cured I put another key or lock in.  Unfortunately, the top layer cured very quickly, so I couldn't easily press the next component in right where I wanted it.  Also, since the vial's opening is very narrow, the resin wouldn't drop right down the center.  It kept dripping on the sides.

I ended up with a piece with a lot of bubbles around the components, odd air pockets in other places in the vial, and globs of resin around the opening:

It doesn't look at all like I wanted it to look.  I have other vials that I can experiment with, and I have friends who have more experience with resin than I do who I can ask for information.  I will try again (eventually).

Now I have to go back to bed.  Hopefully by tomorrow I'll feel up to making something new for you, although it might end up being a simple pair of earrings.  Maybe I'll add a quote to my quote book.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Achoo! (or, I'm taking a sick day)

Hi, all,

I hate to break my creating-and-blogging-every-day-in-2014 streak, but I'm sick.  My husband doesn't want me to work at all today, so this post is pushing it.  I keep saying, "I have too much to do!" and he keeps saying, "Sick people need to rest."  I wouldn't mind resting if I could sleep, but my nose rarely stops running, and my head is throbbing, so lying down isn't very relaxing.

To tide you over until I feel better, here's an in-process bracelet I'm stitching using the innards of that computer keyboard I showed you a while ago:

It's buckling a little in between the flowers.  It will curve around the cuff okay, but I'm not positive I'll have enough of the silicone part to reach all the way around the cuff.  I cut it bigger this time, but I guess not enough.  I may take the flower on the right out and straighten things out.

But now I need to go back to bed.  If I'm still feeling this crappy tomorrow, I'll show you some resin things I made that didn't turn out.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Official brick stitch earring samples

This is going back to the hands-on program I'm running for the Loose Bead Society at our March program.  I've talked about it here, here, and here if you've missed it.

The beads for the kits have come in, and I made two samples for pictures - purple (because it's me) and green (because St. Patrick's Day is coming up):

While they're pretty, I wish there was more of a contrast in the middle section between the 8/0s and the Rizos.  When we picked out the colors, we scrutinized and scrutinized and discussed matte vs. translucent and dark vs. light, and we thought we came up with good choices.  I know I've discussed this here before about how difficult it is to choose colors in general and online.  You think things are going to look one way, then you start stitching with them, and it looks different than what you had planned.

Here are piles of the greens that are in the middle section:

The Rizos are a lot lighter "on paper" (literally in this case), but when stitched they blend into the much darker 8/0s.  Don't get me wrong, the end result is very pretty, but it's not the contrast I wanted.

The pictures don't really do the earrings justice - there is a lot of texture and movement, and I hope folks will be happy with them.

Up next - I write the instructions, the kits are made, we have table captain training, and then the program!  Lots to do!

Before I go, I'd like to show you what Steve brought home last night:

These are the Bead&Button Show 2014 "Purple Lupine Ottoman" commemorative beads made by Amy Waldman-Smith!  Since he works in the building, he was able to purchase them and bring them home.  He's so sweet!  I told him I wanted one, but he brought two home.  I think I'm going to make a necklace and a bracelet.  I absolutely love these - not just because they're purple (but that is a contributing factor, of course), but because of the clean lines and raised dots.  I can't wait to work with them!

If you'd like to order your own, click here, but don't delay, because these will sell out fast!