Saturday, October 31, 2015

Minion pumpkins

I know I owe you a RAW: Merge recap, but I haven't had the time to dedicate to putting it together.  Soon, I hope!  It was a really fun night, and I met some very nice people.

My husband, Steve, likes to do our pumpkins for Halloween.  He usually carves something, but this year he wanted to do something different.  He had seen posts on Facebook showing pumpkins painted to look like the Minions.  We love the Despicable Me and Minions movies, so I said that was a great idea.

We bought three pumpkins roughly shaped like the three main characters from the latest movie.  Steve cut off the bottoms of pop cans (sorry - here in Wisconsin they're called "soda" cans), inserted them into the pumpkins, and started painting.

Here he is in process:

Before painting, Steve had first sketched what he wanted to do.  He used a ball point pen, which turned out to be a bad idea:

Can you see the lines above and below the black?  Those are pen marks after two coats of acrylic paint.  Oh, well.  Unless you scrutinize the Minions, you won't be able to tell.  Just learn from our mistake and use pencil if you're going to draw on a pumpkin before painting.

Here are the finished Minions:

From left to right: Bob is laughing at the funny costumes the kids will be wearing, Kevin reacts to the scary costumes, and Stuart is waving to everyone walking by.

It's a really crappy day today - cold and rainy.  We wanted the pumpkins to be seen from the sidewalk and road, so I suggested we put our patio table and umbrella out so they will be visible and remain dry.

There have been few trick-or-treaters so far (one hour left!), but they've all loved the pumpkins.  Good job, honey!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Updated: I am RAW (and need your help to stay that way!)

Back in May I received an interesting message on Etsy.  It was from Josh, the Assistant Director of Milwaukee showcases for RAW: Natural Born Artists, an indie arts organization for artists, by artists.  He went on to compliment me on my jewelry (which is always nice!) and told me a bit about their showcases, which take place in over 60 locations all over the world.  I'm going to use his words here - much better than trying to paraphrase:
We focus on spotlighting underground and emerging talent to the public. Every other month we hand-select and showcase 40 local artists in film, fashion, music, visual art, photography, accessories, performing art, hair & makeup as well as DJs etc.
Our showcases typically are attended by 500-800 people, and we always invite press and media, art galleries, and other art industry professionals to give artists optimum opportunity to expand your client base, sell your work, and get your name out there, as well as network with like minded, passionate artists.
RAW's mission is to provide artists with tools, resources and exposure. We exist to give independent artists a platform and voice!

There was more to the message, but this is the gist of what RAW is and does.  The showcases always have a fashion show, bands, and more.  To say the least, I was very curious.  Anyone who tries to make a living in the arts knows how hard it is to find the right venue, and this one sounded different than anything else I've seen before.

I responded to Josh, and we discussed some particulars about the shows themselves and the next one they were planning in June.  Unfortunately, it was right after the Bead&Button Show, and I knew I would be in no shape to be in that showcase or even to attend it.  (I'm always wiped out for a few weeks after B&B!)

At some point my discussions shifted to Sarah Raeke, the Showcase Director for Boston and Milwaukee.  She answered my very plentiful questions with long and involved answers.  I truly got the feeling that she cares for artists, whether or not they commit to doing a showcase.

I looked at the pictures they posted on flickr for Milwaukee's June showcase.  They all looked so young.  I'm firmly in my mid-40s and possibly getting a little stodgy.  I didn't know if I'd belong.  I expressed this concern to Sarah, and she knocked it down.  I shouldn't worry about it, she said.  They include artists of all ages.

Another hesitation I had is that I would have to sell tickets to the showcase, since it's an event more than an art fair - there's the fashion show I mentioned, music, and other entertainment.  I'm more willing to plunk down my own money than others' money, especially on something I've never been to before.

Sarah came to the rescue again.  She said she'd put my name down on the guest list for August, and I could see it for myself.  August turned out to be almost as busy as June, but I went anyway.

The Milwaukee showcases are held at The Rave Hall, where concerts and other events are held.  It was a little dark, a bit loud, a lot hot, and... FUN.  The atmosphere was kind of electric - art and artists everywhere you look.  If you're interested in seeing pictures of this event, here's the album on flickr, but I'm going to link to a few specific pictures. Up on a stage was a "bird woman" (I hope that term doesn't offend her) in a large birdcage, and on the floor to the right were paintings of her (cage included).  Some near-naked woman was up there, too, getting painted.  It might have been this one, but I'm not sure.  The booths (which you can see starting at this page) had jewelry, art, photography, bags, clothes, and more (like this).

I chatted with a few jewelry vendors and one artist to see what they thought about the show.  The first jewelry vendor was Moonchild Designs (check out her Facebook page).  She was very enthusiastic about the show and told me this was her last one before moving to Colorado.  Her pieces were beautiful, and so was her display.  The second jewelry vendor was Maria of MWstyle (check out her Etsy shop), and she had more than just very pretty jewelry!  I liked her hand-painted bags!  She told me she was doing very well, and I could see that she kept busy.

The artist I talked to was Jo of Joywise Arts (check out her website).  While I loved her art (and bought a card of her Olbrich Spring Blooms print!), I will admit that my primary reason for talking to her was because she was older.  It seemed that everyone was young, and, again, I was nervous I wouldn't fit in.  She assured me that I would.

One of the other things that happens at a RAW showcase is that head shots of the artists are taken.  They're posted on flickr, and the artists can use them in their own promotional materials and such going forward.  Remember the whole old and stodgy thing I mentioned above?  Well, I think I'm even more nervous about the head shots than selling tickets.  Sarah said I could opt out, but when I confessed to Jo that I wasn't keen on getting my picture taken, she assured me that the photographer was excellent and knew just how to pose a person for a good picture.  Considering how her picture turned out, I think I might be okay.  One of the head shots in the flickr album just took my breath away.  Check this one out.  It is just stunning.  I know I won't take as good a picture as that one, but I won't shy away from the photographer.

Sarah said I should look her up during the showcase, but I had no idea what she looked like.  The "ticket taker" in the front gave me a description: colorful dress, long sandy-brown hair, about 5'7"... I said, "Um, okay..." and while she was checking a few people in I took a look around.  "Is that her?" I pointed to someone who matched that description, and she said it was.  Whew!  Fortunately I didn't have to wander around the place staring at all the women until I found her.

I introduced myself, and she gave me her undivided attention for as long as I needed her.  She laughed at my jokes ("Everyone is young and hip, and I'm old and need a new hip." - the arthritis has been really bad lately!), and she answered still more questions I had.  We talked about how hot it was, and I said that I thought colder was better than hot, "because you can always put on clothes but can't really strip ... wait a minute... I did see a naked woman getting painted a little while ago.  Never mind!"  We both said we hoped that it would be cooler in the venue in October.

Sarah was friendly, kind, and warm (and not just because of the temperature).  Now, I'm not just saying all this because I'm sending her a link to the blog.  I'm saying this because it was Sarah who (unknowingly) pushed me off of the fence.  If I hadn't have talked with her, I'd probably still be dithering.

When I apologized for interrupting her conversation when I walked up, she said it was okay, as her artists were the most important thing for her.  For some reason, that made me feel like I belonged.  I don't really see myself as an artist - it seems that most of my time is spent marketing and doing all the business aspects of having a business.  But after grappling with it a few days, I decided I am an artist.  I've flirted with that thought before, but now it has firmly taken hold because I have been handpicked to be among other handpicked artists, and I will showcase my art at the "Merge" showcase on October 15th.

I am RAW

Updated with new start time!

Just writing about my experiences has me excited and ready to go.  I can't wait to see what other artists will be there and what the energy will be like.  I can't wait to meet people (artists and attendees) and perhaps collaborate with them in the future (as it is, I've been staring at the card I bought from Jo, trying to figure out how I could make jewelry to evoke the same feel as her piece).  I just can't wait.  I've been thinking about my space and what I can do with it, especially with the petrified wood chunks I posted about a while ago.  I'm planning what pieces I will bring and what I might want to make beforehand.

Here's where the second part of the blog title comes in.  You were waiting for it, weren't you?

I need your help to meet my commitment of selling 20 tickets at $15 each.  Yes, I know the event is on a Thursday night and starts at 7:00p.  (Moved up from the original time of 8:00p.)  If you're in the Milwaukee area at all, I'd like to encourage you to come, even if it's for just an hour.  If you want to stay longer, well, you should have enough notice to take the next day off of work and have a three-day weekend!  MERGE is sure to be as interesting and exciting as the August showcase, with the extra added benefit of me being there!  What more do you need?  :)

Wait, you may not know me at all, so my being there isn't going to be much of an incentive, is it?  I'm going to be flinging this post far and wide, and I'm hoping that there will be a lot of you who don't know me.  Please check out my RAW artist page to read about me and to see some of my jewelry.  I can't control the picture collage on that page - it does what it wants every time the page is loaded.  You can click on a picture to see the whole image and scroll through the rest of them.

Or... you could visit my webpage and its gallery.  That should give you an idea of what I do and what I might bring.  The home page of my website has a calendar of my events, so you can follow me around like I was the Grateful Dead.  I do finished piece shows, like this RAW showcase, but I also do bead shows where I sell kits and tutorials of my designs.  If you make jewelry, please check me out at those shows, too!  More will be added soon - my calendar is filling up!

So, what about those who do know me but who can't attend the event?  Why would you want to purchase a ticket or three?  You know I have an answer for that.  :)  I need your support.  Keeping a small business afloat is tough.  I am expanding (I'm going to have a table in the Artisan Pavilion at the Bead&Button Show next year!), and I need to earn money so I can pay for table costs, make jewelry and kits, and keep designing (so I can make more jewelry and kits).  The opportunities available through the RAW organization are too good to pass up, and I'm hoping they will lead to more opportunities down the road.

But, near or far, purchasing a ticket will not be one-sided.  To show my appreciation, I would like to give you something for supporting me.  If you buy one ticket, I'll send (or give if you come to the showcase) one of my "SDN15 - Dino-spine" pendants (which goes with the bracelet shown above):

It is double-sided (the other side of this one is purple), so you have options!  I love jewelry with options.  It'll come on a simple chain, around 18-20", depending on what I have available.  If you have a particular hankering for a color, let me know, and I'll see what I have in stock.  Otherwise, please let me choose for you.  It'll be more fun that way!

If you buy two tickets, I'll also send you a pair of earrings to match one of the pendant's sides.  They'll look something like this:

Purchase three tickets, and I'll send along another pair of earrings to match the other side of the pendant.

If I'm mailing your items to you, it may need to wait until after the showcase.  I have another show just four days before this one, and I'm going to be pretty busy getting ready for both shows!

Exciting alternative!  If you'd prefer to make my designs yourself, for each ticket you purchase, I'll e-mail you PDFs of designs you choose that add up to $20 from my Tutorials and Kits shop pages.  Yes, that's right - you'll get more than your money's worth in PDF tutorials for each ticket you buy.  For example, you could learn how to make every piece of jewelry shown in this blog post (bracelet, pendant, and earrings) and still have credit left over for another design or two (see my SDN15 page - the "SDN15 - Basics" PDF tutorial is $6, and the "SDN15 - Dino-spine bracelet and pendant" PDF tutorial is $7.  You could get the "SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids" PDF tutorial, too!).  On top of all that, you can still attend the showcase!  Do not order through my website - just send me your list after you buy a ticket, and I'll e-mail them to you.

Now that you're interested, how can you buy tickets?  There are a number of ways: through my RAW artist page, through Paypal's Send money to friends and family page, by sending me a check, or by handing me cash.  There is a charge for using a credit card through Paypal on the RAW website, but I believe that there is no charge for using a debit card through that "Send money" link above.

Any of the above ways will get you on the attendees list for the showcase.  If you do it through the RAW website, please forward your receipt to (after you delete any financial details) so I can add you to my gift list as well.  No matter which method you prefer, include a note about which perk you'd like - jewelry or PDFs (and your list of PDFs).

I've created an event on my Creative Pursuits Facebook page, so if you're going, please join the event here.  If there are any changes or updates to the event, I'll be posting them there.

I need to sell at least 20 tickets at $15 apiece by October 8th.  Well, 18 tickets.  My mom has promised to buy two, and that was even before I said I'd be giving jewelry away.  So... 18 tickets.  That's very doable, isn't it?  Update:  My mother and stepfather bought four tickets, so now I only need to sell 16.  Thanks, Mom and John!  Second update:  I now have sold seven tickets.  That means I need to sell 13 more.  Now that the show is opening an hour earlier (at 7:00p instead of 8:00p), I'm hoping that means that more of you can come.

Thank you all for getting down this far.  I know this has been rather long.  I've been working on it all afternoon, so I feel your pain.  :)  I'd also like to thank you in advance for your support.  If you've read this far, then I hope to be receiving your ticket order soon.  Don't delay so I can sleep well at night!  (No comments from the peanut gallery - I know I don't sleep well, but this might help.  We won't know unless you help me out!  Who knows?  This could be my cure for insomnia!)

Again, thank you.  And for those of you still reading.  I have an extra special treat for you:

A rare picture of Pixel and Clinchfield cuddling, taken by my husband while I was slaving away on this blog post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More neat finds

I was all set to do another "non-blog" like I did last week because I have been busy again with more being added all the time.  In between the activities I've been resting, because Fibromyalgia hates nothing more than an active schedule.  I was going to appease you by giving you lots of pictures of our new kitten, Clinchfield.  But then I realized that I do have a blog topic!  And there was much rejoicing.  (Yay.)

One of the almost-last-minute activities was a trip to Illinois for lunch with my mother and my cousin Dawn.  Dawn had an appointment after lunch but went back to Mom's for a while after, so Mom and I hung out and "helped" my stepfather, John, while he was working on cleaning out the shed.  We found some neat things in there that have come home with me, and they are my topic for the day.

Almost three years ago I posted about the hidden treasure I found in my garage - a wooden box with dividers.  If you missed that or want a refresher, click here.

I know I posted about two more wooden boxes I found in Mom's basement, but I wasn't able to find the post.  I use those boxes when I do bead shows.  Kits fit in them nicely, and they add a nice rustic look to my table.  I've had to keep an eye on the boxes, though, because various friends of mine have expressed interest in them and have "joked" about them walking away.

Well, yesterday in the shed we found more wood boxes and a tin!  I found another box in the garage, and John cleaned them up for me and put them in my trunk.  Here's the haul:

I may have to start sharing them.  I love that one of the boxes was for prunes (the one under the orange tin).  The small box in the front has a bunch of door hardware that I'm either going to put on eBay and/or make something artsy with.

This wasn't the whole haul, though.  Sitting on top of a work table in the shed were four pieces of petrified wood and a quartz fragment:

The quartz is being soaked because it was pretty filthy.

If you're thinking that doesn't look like you thought petrified wood would look like, check out this site.  If you scan down the article, the second picture in the left column looks a lot like the pieces here and ones John found in other parts of their house.  (It's a treasure trove in there.)

Oops!  It's 2:30.  I have to run to today's last-minute activity, getting my teeth cleaned.  I was going to do it tomorrow, but something unexpected-but-necessary popped up for tomorrow.  I'll wrap this up when I get back.

Home again!  Where was I?  (Um, you were at the dentist.  What did they put in that fluoride polish besides fluoride?)  No, no, where was I in the blog?  Oh, yes.  Petrified wood.

I used other pieces for photographing a few pieces of my jewelry.  You may have seen them before:

I've been telling my husband that it's a pity to keep all the petrified wood in a box.  We should put it on a shelf or something.  But when I brought the new pieces home I had a thought.  Dare I say it was an epiphany?  Why don't I use the petrified wood, the quartz that's soaking, and anything else I have like that for displays at my shows instead of just for photo shoots?

So for the purposes of this blog I set up a quick little display:

I've been using a white tablecloth lately, but this purple napkin was handy.  I'd space them out more and have a few of them up on risers or something, but this should give you a good idea of what it would look like.

In case you're curious about the designs, the pieces are (top to bottom, left to right): Shadowed Diamonds, Double Decker Daisy, SDN15 - Dino-spine, StarLite Mini Flowers, Cobblestone Path, and SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids.

Here are a few of the displays close up:

I like it!  It shows the pieces at different angles and gives you an idea of the drape.  I'll try it at my next few shows and let you know how it goes.

But who cares what I think?  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

For those of you looking forward to pictures of Clinchfield, I will not disappoint.

Here he is last Tuesday after the whole water-splashing escapade:

Turns out he had a bit of a buzz from the pain meds (instead of getting sleepy) and was quite the crazy cat the rest of the afternoon.  I could not keep him out of the sink until I forced some quiet alone time on him in his crate.

Even though he's calmed down from that, he's still a kitten.  One of his favorite activities is making a mess out of the shelf above my desk:

You see him there at the bottom right?

All the destruction wore him out, the poor baby, but he still had enough energy to reach for the Darth Vader Pez dispenser he had sent flying towards my head.

Guess what he's doing right now?  Yup!  Back on the shelf:

While shelf-destruction ranks high on his daily to do list, his absolute favorite activity is pestering Pixel.  Clinch jumps on Pixel or lies underneath him batting at his head, and Pixel whines and grumbles and bats back.  Then Pixel swishes his tail back and forth in irritation, which Clinch thinks is strictly for his benefit:

Let's look at that from a different angle, shall we?

It's most fun when Pixel is on a level higher than Clinch.  Most fun for Clinch, that is.  Pixel just gets more and more annoyed.  We usually just yoink the kitten and try to distract him from Pixel for a little while.  They'll get it figured out eventually.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A non-blog

July has been an extremely busy month.  On the 6th we had our entire HVAC system replaced.  It was an oil furnace, and we switched to natural gas.  You can imagine the amount of scheduling and planning all that amounted to!  We had the oil tank removed last Wednesday, and we were extremely lucky that there were no leaks in it.  For those of you who have never seen an oil tank before, here's ours:

That orange stuff is the plastic coating that they painted the tank with to help keep it from corroding.

We wanted to have all of the bushes removed because they were starting to die and look crappy, so while the guys were there with their big digger machine they just ripped them all out.  Yay!  We had those picked up a few days later.  Now we have to decide what to plant there.  I would like part of the area to be a raised garden for basil.  I don't know if there's enough sun there, but we can give it a try.  For the rest of it, we're thinking Dwarf Korean Lilacs.

On Friday night we got a new kitten:

Meet Clinchfield (Clinch for short, named after a railroad because that's what my husband likes to do), who was not getting along with the dog at his former home.  He's almost four months old and is settling in pretty well here, except today he's hyper.  We went to the vet, and they had to give him some meds for ear mites, then they had to give him some meds to relieve the pain and irritation of having his ears cleaned.  They said it should make him a bit sleepy, but he's loopy and high instead.  He spent some time pawing in the water bowl, splashing it everywhere.  The vet assures me that he'll calm down.  Soon, I hope.  Pixel hopes so, too, because he's been getting jumped on a fair amount.

There have been other things going on, too.  A Loose Bead Society rummage sale, a coupon workshop, a Loose Bead Society meeting, seeing Ant-Man at a private screening through my credit card (for free!!), and other stuff.

All this activity (along with bad allergies) is why I didn't blog last week.  I don't really have anything to blog about this week, either, but I didn't want it to go another week.

I have been working on a few things, but nothing is complete.  Here's a paw print bracelet with peanut beads that I'm making to match another one of my tops:

This next piece will have to remain a mystery:

It's something in process from my SDN15 technique.  I'll show it to you when it's all done.

And when I was at my mother's this weekend I brought all this home:

Little silverware?  Why?  I keep seeing neat jewelry made with silverware on Pinterest (you can see the ones I like on my Flatware jewelry and other creations board) and wanted to give it a shot.  I have a book with some flatware projects, and now I have some expendable flatware, so now I can!  Most of these are my baby silverware, but there are a few other interesting things in there, including a spoon from Lucerne.

I'll keep you posted!

Now I must go.  The kitten keeps going in the kitchen sink to get at the water bowl and the bowl stand.  I've just taken the stand outside so it can dry, but he keeps going in the...


I may have to sit on him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Purple Petal Palette Pickle

After months and months of thinking I'd magically "find" the time to get my full line of kits and tutorials on my Creative Pursuits shop and on my Etsy shop, I finally decided to get organized and just do it.  I made a chart and scheduled a handful of tasks each week.  If I can keep up with it, it'll take me until September to get it all done.  (I hate to say it, but I'm already a little bit behind after only one week.)

The first designs I decided to do are Ever-Evolving Spiral and its offshoot, Let's Shag, Baby because they are among my newest designs and weren't on my site at all.  I have the website shop pages up (see the links if you're interested), and I'm hopeful that in the next few days the Etsy listings will be up.

While I was doing that I remembered that I owed you a blog post.  When I posted about the Ever-Evolving Spiral that only used the first thickness to match a top (click here to catch up), I said, "Recently I bought a whole bunch of beads to match a top that needed the perfect jewelry, but that turned out to be more difficult than I thought it was going to be.  I'll show you that and give you a new tongue twister on Tuesday."  Um, that was about 10 months ago.  Oh, dear.  Now, I never did say which Tuesday, did I?  Today's Tuesday!  I think that counts for something.

Anyway - here's the tongue twister: Purple Petal Palette Pickle.  It really is a bit tricky to say.  Try it.  I'll wait...

Here's the top I was talking about:

It's very loose, soft, and flowing, and the fabric is thin, which is nice for warm days.  I like the 3/4 length sleeves, but I'm not fond of the elastic.  That may have to go at some point.  The deep scoop neck is perfect for a full Ever-Evolving Spiral necklace, but the colors turned out to be hard to match.

When I bought the beads, I thought I had a perfect combination:  permanent finish metallic lavender 8/0 seed beads, white 11/0 seed beads, opaque amethyst luster SuperDuos, and matte crystal AB Rizos.  I started stitching, and it was awful.  The white seed beads took over the whole piece.  I started experimenting with purples, but they were all too harsh for what I wanted.  None of them were "soft and flowing."  I had been looking only in my 11/0 rounds because I like those best for spirals, but I was desperate so I looked in my Delicas.  They're cylinder beads that are great for peyote but can be a little blocky in a spiral.  I found the perfect color, though, so I decided to live with a little blockiness.

After all that, it still didn't look quite right.  The core was too "Hey!  Don't ignore me!"  For a project like this, I wanted the core to blend in.  Soft and flowing...

I tried a bead that I've been having problems finding again, and it was perfect.

Here's my trial piece:

You should be able to click on it to see a large version.  At the left you can see the white seed beads and the different purples I tried.  At the almost-halfway point you can see the change to the blockier Delicas, and the core changes about 2/3 of the way in.

Here's a closer-up picture of the core change:

I know... It's subtle, but I really like the final result.

Since I had less than a hundred of that core bead left (8/0 Matte Crystal AB - #131FR for those following along), I needed to hunt them down.  Not only did I want them for this project, but I wanted to make this into kits for both designs.  Also, I love this color for spiral cores.  It doesn't detract from the other colors, helping them to look their best.  I found them (whew!) and was even able to get a few large bags, so I should be set for a while.

Here are the finished pieces:

I like Ever-Evolving Spiral for necklaces and Let's Shag, Baby for bracelets.  Rizos can be kinda pricey, so there's no sense spending a lot of money just so a bunch of them can hang out in my hair.  My hair is unappreciative of pricey beads.

So, how does it look with the top?

Not too bad!  I've had a lot of compliments on it.  I did change the name from "Purple Petal" to "Lilac Blossom" because it was more soft and flowing.  When I wore this to Steve's work picnic, my friend Kat (who works for the same company) said it looked like lilac blossoms.  I guess I picked the right name!

And here I am in the top and necklace:

I'm wearing the bracelet, too, but I couldn't figure out how to show it in the picture without it looking stupid.  Also in this picture you can see my new haircut and my new glasses.  In case you're wondering, yes, my glasses are purple.  They even have a bit of fanciness and bling on the temples.  The most important thing about them, though, is that they're not making me want to tear my eyes out of their sockets, which is a huge step above my first pair of new glasses.

I do wish I had made the necklace an inch or two longer.  There's still a lot of my chest showing with this neckline.  One of these days I'll remake it.  Yeah, I don't think so, either.  It took me nearly 10 months to get to this blog, and I have a huge backlog of not-already-done things that need doing as well as a few things that need fixing.  Not to mention that chart of website and Etsy tasks that need doing.

So that's my purple petal palette pickle.  If you'd like to make your own Lilac Blossom necklace and bracelet, please check out my shop pages: Ever-Evolving Spiral and Let's Shag, Baby.  If you get the tutorial for Ever-Evolving Spiral, you will not need the one for Let's Shag, Baby.  It's the same technique but slimmed down for just the one thickness.

If you get the tutorial and choose your own colors, I'd love to see them!  E-mail pictures of your final pieces (perhaps with you wearing them?) to, and I'll feature you in a blog post!  It won't take me 10 months to post it.  I promise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Xuron comes to dinner (B&B Show recap #4ish)

I first became acquainted with Xuron through Ashley Bunting (you may have heard of her as Miss Ashley Kate) who I met when The Beadin' Path came to a Loose Bead Society program in 2011.  A year later she was with Xuron and offered me a sample of their "Fireline scissors", and I fell in love.  With the scissors, not with Ashley.  Not that she isn't cute and all, but I'm married.  You know how that goes.  Anyway, you can read the whole story and my review of the Fireline scissors here.

From there it has snowballed... I have reviewed a number of Xuron tools (there's a list of the reviews on my website), I started selling some of them on my website, and, most importantly, I have become good friends with Abby, my main contact at Xuron.  In our house, we call her Xuron Abby.  My husband, Steve, has dealings with Xuron sometimes at work at Model Railroader or Model Retailer magazines, so we talk about Xuron Abby regularly.  It's usually something like, "What's Xuron Abby's e-mail address?  We got a pair of 90 degree bent nose pliers as a sample and I have a few questions."  (Due to that conversation I ended up with my own sample of the pliers!  Stay tuned for a review!)

Frequent readers of my blog may remember that Xuron Abby and Ashley took me out to dinner the last night of the 2014 Bead&Button Show (photographic evidence near the end of this post).

I vowed to return the favor this year, and Abby requested a dish I've posted about before, Kraft's Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce.  So for a year Steve and I prepared to have them over for dinner.  It took gobs of preparation, you know.  However, Abby was unable to attend the show this year.  After wiping my tears, I decided to go ahead with the dinner anyway, because Ashley was still coming, and I wanted to spend some time with her.  Angelica, who lives in Milwaukee, helped out, so she was invited, too.  I actually spent some time trying to figure out how we could send leftovers home with Ashley so Abby could eat, too, but I decided that wasn't feasible.  She'll just have to make it herself or wait until next year.  :)

It would have been nice if Ashley had remembered to invite Angelica before I showed up at the Marketplace.  Ashley was busy talking to someone, and I walked up to Angelica and asked, "Are you allergic to cats?"  To her credit, she didn't freak out and just said she wasn't allergic.  I believe I then asked about any food allergies.  She looked utterly confused, so I introduced myself and said she was coming to dinner on Sunday night.  Ashley looked over and said, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you about that."  Angelica didn't run away screaming, so I breathed a sigh of relief.

Ashley and Angelica at the Bead&Button Show

Finally Sunday night came, and they came over.  Here's the yummy dinner Steve made:

Doesn't that look good?  Wish you had clicked on the recipe link above?  Here - because I'm nice to you, here it is again: Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce.

Before we ate we thought we should take a few pictures, so there was some fumbling with trying to set up Ashley's phone for a timed picture, but there was no good place for it (and dinner was cooling).  The cats were also unhelpful (as per usual), so we took pictures in shifts:


The pictures are a little yellow, but yes, we do have peach walls.

Then we had an "I'm-sorry-off" because I forgot to tell Angelica that there were noodles, and she can't eat many noodles.  It was fine, though, because she picked the ones with the most sauce on them and ate the chicken, tomatoes, and basil.  Dinner was declared delicious by all.  (Thanks, Steve!)  We decided that the next time Angelica comes over we'll have kebabs.

I offered to take Ashley back to her hotel so Angelica could get home to her waiting dog.  Ashley stayed quite some time, and I asked her about her book, Fiber & Cord Jewelry: Easy to Make Projects Using Paracord, Hemp, Leather, and More.  I've been considering submitting a book to Kalmbach (the publishing company for Bead&Button, Bead Style, and Art Jewelry as well as the magazines Steve works for) and was curious about the book-writing process.  It's a lot of work, but it sounds fun and rewarding!

Eventually I had to take Ashley back.  I was glad I could spend so much time with her and that I got to meet Angelica.  It's always nice to have a new friend in the area!

Now we have to determine what to have for dinner next year when Xuron Abby WILL be in attendance (all caps, bold, italics, and underlined makes it a certainty, doesn't it?).  We can't serve the same thing two years in a row, can we?  Any ideas?  Leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #3

This is the third in a series of my Bead&Button Show recap posts.  If you're just coming in, you might want to catch up by reading my pre-show post, recap #1, and recap #2.

I've mentioned my friend Michelle before (hi, Michelle!) in at least one of the recaps.  We've gone around the Show together the last few years.  We do completely different types of jewelry - I primarily do bead stitching but dabble in other techniques, and Michelle does mostly metal and wire.  It's interesting hanging out at the Show with her because I end up at a bunch of booths I'd likely skip if I were there on my own or with my husband.

One such booth is Beadalon.  It's not that I don't like Beadalon.  I like them just fine.  They came to a Loose Bead Society program a few years ago and showed us a bunch of their products.  I use their beading wire on the rare occasions that I have bead stringing projects (I bought a big spool about 4 years ago that will likely last me another 4 years or more).  I'm interested in the products that they come out with, but right now the only thing I need is a needle, Fireline, and some beads (preferably SuperDuos).

Michelle does use their tools, so off we went to bother Wyatt:

While Michelle was talking to him about the tassel maker you can see on the right side of the picture, I noticed something off to the left and literally squealed, interrupting both their trains of thought:

It's a 3D printer!  I have been intrigued by them since they first came out, but this was the first time I saw one in person and in action.  Here's a close-up picture of the bracelets right in front of it:

From what I understand (which is very little), the printer melts plastic (called "filament") in particular patterns based on whatever program is loaded.  The platform lowers as the piece grows, so you can make items of various heights.

The printer at the Beadalon booth is an "Ultimaker 2".  I looked at their website and found a neat video.  I highly recommend you check it out.  It's short but shows enough so you can get an idea of how it works.

The brown bracelet in the above picture (second one in) was surprisingly light.  It's a thin piece that's kind of corrugated.  It stretches a bit and looks really delicate.

Being short, I couldn't really see what was going on, so Wyatt suggested that I take a picture from the top:

It's a very slow process.  This bracelet had been going for about eight hours and still had a few to go.  I checked back about two hours later, and it was done!

Now, you may be wondering what a 3D printer was doing at the Beadalon booth.  Wyatt said that they make the filament!  You can learn more about the filaments at the Filament Express website.

While this is a really neat machine with unlimited possibilities, it is quite an investment.  Based on the Ultimaker store page, the smallest Ultimaker 2 is €1.195,00.  According to Google, that converts to almost $1333.  Each color of the filament comes on its own spool and is $42.99.  I have no idea how much of a spool is used for a project like that red bracelet.  You'd probably want a few colors to play with (they have 10 to choose from).  Then there's the software used to make the designs.  I don't know if that's included or would need to be purchased separately.

Even so, this is definitely a technology to keep an eye on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #2

This is the second in a series of my Bead&Button Show recap posts.  If you're just coming in, you might want to catch up by reading my pre-show post and recap #1.

Today I'm going to introduce you to two people I met at this year's show, Diane Hawkey and Eugenia Chan.

But first, let's look at a few of the Bead Dreams winning pieces that caught my eye.  Bead Dreams is a competition held every year, and the pieces are just stunning.  Bead&Button magazine sponsors it, and the winners on the Fire Mountain Gems website here.  They haven't posted this year's winners yet, but you can check out winners from 2004 on.

The pieces are all displayed behind glass, so my pictures aren't the best.

The first one that caught my eye will be no surprise at all to anyone reading this very purple blog:

It's a purple beaded outfit!  The picture really doesn't do it justice.  This is called "Lady" and was made by Tomiko Sakanaka from Yao Osaka, Japan.

This next one is also from Japan:

This is "Castle of Nagoya" by Masako Takahashi and Hiroko Yokoi from Ichinomiya Aichi, Japan.  It's really stunning up close.

The last one I took a picture of is "The Underwater Kingdom Handbag" by Elizaveta Antonova from Berdyansk, Ukraine:

That looks like shibori silk waves among shells, pearls, beaded starfish, beaded fish, and other sea creatures.  Beautiful!

Now on to the new folks!

The best thing about the Bead&Button Show Marketplace is meeting the smaller vendors.  There are so many of them that do such interesting and unique work.  There are many lampworkers, but there are also polymer clay, raku, ceramic, and a whole host of other artists!

Diane Hawkey is a ceramic artist who makes very whimsical pieces.  Check out her website, and you'll immediately see what I mean!

Here's Diane amongst her wares:

She had so much to see, it was hard to pick just a few things to show you.  Here are a few "message sticks":

It's hard to read them in that picture, so here's what they say (there are duplicates):  "Be curious, not judgmental", "Stars can't shine without darkness", "I exist as I am, that is enough", and my personal favorite, "rub my butt".  I almost brought that last one home, but I didn't want random strangers fondling me once I made it into a bracelet.  :)

Here's another picture of some of her creations:

I really like these, and I wish I had bought something from her.  I'll probably do what I did with Evvy Beads and get something next year!  As I mentioned before, you should visit Diane's website.  She also has a blog and an Etsy shop.  Her Etsy shop has just one thing in it right now - a custom word bead.  You choose the color and the word.  The last word in the list made me literally LOL.  I love sassy jewelry!

Wandering around the Marketplace on Sunday with my friend Michelle, we saw an enameling demo done by Eugenia Chen.  You can see more of her work and learn more about her on her website.  Her enameling was nothing like I've seen before:

I have had very little experience with enameling (see my posts about attempt #1 and attempt #2), so seeing Eugenia's pieces blew my mind and made me want to try again!

Here's my absolute favorite piece that she had out:

I had no idea you could do pictures with enameling!  Eugenia used templates that she said aren't on the market yet.  They should be, though!  Those pieces are gorgeous.

Here is Eugenia in action:

And, finally, here's the piece she was working on:

Next week I'll show you a very cool machine that made some very interesting pieces.  Vague, I know, but if I told you what it was, would you come back?  :)