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 traci@creative-pursuits.biz, 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!