Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Merry!

Our Christmas was lovely. It's rare for us to have all three kids together (one away in college, another living here but in college and working, and of course the little one who is still here all the time!) so that was great!

After the girls left for their grandmother's house, my mom came over and we had a ton of fun playing parcheesi, Chinese checkers and Jeopardy (on the Wii).

Santa was very good to everyone, but a favorite of mine were the gifts my son to gave to his sisters.

Jackson drew & colored & glittered the pictures. I set them in resin and added the chain & beads. The girls loved them and Jackson felt pretty happy seeing how touched they were!

Today I'm looking forward to a snowy, quiet, beady Sunday! (And maybe a few more rounds of Jeopardy....)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

She's just not that into you

"She's just not that into you" said the newly chosen color palette to the previously selected color palette:

In other Margie & Me bead challenges, I've relied heavily on what Delicas colors I have in my stash. This time around, for this awesomely fun Margie & Me The Finals Challenge, I took each palette and compared it with what I owned in Delicas to be sure my color were accurate. So I picked a palette that I had the most Delicas, which was the Lady & the Unicorn #56 (as noted above). I dutifully picked all the complimenting beads and put them in a Gladware container...and then they just sat. They sat, and sat, and sat some more. I glanced at it often and said to myself..."Self, you should get going on that challenge". But I didn't. And then I realized, I just wasn't that into that color palette. I thought I was because I definitely have a thing for burgundy & blue together. But all in all I couldn't get inspired. So I visited Marcie's site again and looked through the book at the palettes again. Although I hardly needed to because this time I knew...this time, she had me at " richness of the reds and punches of creamy pinks". OOOOOHHHHH.....creeeeeeaaaamy pinks. Right away I thought of these little 3mm beauties:

I have pretty much EVERY incarnation of this bead color:

I buy it (matte silver lined light pink) almost every time I see it. Then I get home and see I already have it, of course. And now I'm working on about 10 tubes of it, in different sizes.

Also in my opinion - these earrings go with just about everything. They might as well be a pair of silver or gold hoops I wear them so much!

I priced this piece so high a few craft shows ago, it was as though I was daring someone to take it from me (It has since been taken out of the for sale stuff, and into my personal collection):

So you see, I like pink. And I like the colors that make pink too. So this is definitely a palette that I'm a little more into. In the book, The Beader's Color Palette, it is described as "deep Venetian reds are featured against warm ivory-gold flesh and pale neutral linen-whites."

I've tossed aside the notion of doing this with only Delica colors to keep me on track and go with my gut on this great palette!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas this weekend!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Special Treat!

How FUN was it, to pull my Google Reader up and see my name posted as a winner for a giveaway!?!?! It was a special treat in an otherwise crazed and stressful week!!! I won the December drawing for a grab bag of cabs from Lori on her blog, Out Of The Flames! And just two days later I received this GORGEOUS bag of cabochons!!!

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! THESE ARE SO PRETTY AND I AM SO LUCKY TO HAVE THEM! Thank you Lori! I cannot wait to do some projects with these!

In other news, I sustained a minor injury early last week. I was using one of those winged cork screws when....

I somehow got my thumb caught in the spoke of the wheel....and did a fair amount of damage to the pad of my thumb. Turns out, I really need that digit to do any beadwork. It definitely put me a little behind schedule this week...but I was able to get going again last night to make a necklace to go with my outfit for my husband's firm's Christmas party tonight!

Based on Diane Fitzgerald's "Trillium" necklace:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday sparkle

It was a great weekend!!!! It was cold and it rained terribly all day Sunday....which was a perfect excuse to stay in and craft all day!

The weekend started Friday night with my son's school's Winter Dance. I think it is so cute that they do a dance for the kids. The kids have such a good time! The DJ was great playing all the kids' faves from Nickelodeon like Miranda Cosgrove, Victoria Justice and Jackson's favorite, Big Time Rush (I've been scouring the web looking for 2011 tour dates in our area for a Christmas present!)

Saturday we found a pretty tree and put it up! And then I went on a cleaning blitz.

But Sunday is when the fun began! I pretty much spent the whole day in my bead/craft room....working on a special requested collage:

and after playing with my big collage I remembered I had some Easy Cast from last year and played around with some teeny collaging...and stamping....and glittering:

And then I moved onto the real holiday sparkle by working on some birds for my tree:

The Martha Stewart glitter collections have to be one of my most favorite-est craft products on the market. The colors are just exquisite!

It can transform something that is just blah, to something that is BLING!

(this is the card I will attach with my holiday cookies, with the name of the cookies on the back)

When I finally emerged from the room on Sunday night my husband commented that I had glitter all over me head to toe and asked, "Are you magical"? I said, "No, just go in and out of the bead room and you will look like this too. Literally" He said, "Ah, so in order to be magical, all you need to do is go into the bead room!"

Yes, my dear, I suppose there is magic in the bead room! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Art With Heart Cycle 3

The Art With Heart Cycle 3 deadline is tonight at midnight!!

As mentioned in a previous post, my stepmother, Lois, passed away from her battle with cancer in mid-October. Her passing was also just two days before the Art With Heart kits were shipped. And this cycle is benefiting Step Up For Cancer. Poignant.

I drove from Maryland to Massachusets for the funeral, but just a few weeks before my stepbrother was married and I also made the trek! It was a fun and special day:

Now I don't know if you are familiar with the "95 corridor" up the MidAtlantic, but having lived in the D.C. area for the past 20 years, I have traveled that route many, many a time.

It is rare to have it be an easy trek. Approaching all the tolls, even if you have an EZ Pass, can be a traffic nightmare. Don't even get me started on traveling through or near the major cities!

So after TWENTY years of having what should be an 8 hour drive, end up being 10 hours or much more....I decide to go another route. And was I sure glad that I did! I took the interstates through Pennsylvania and central New York this time. Although this route added about 100 miles to the trip, there were tremendous amounts of added benefits. First of all - there was hardly anyone on the road. It only got a little congested near Scranton (we had lunch at the Steamtown Mall on one of the pass thrus - for any of you fellow Office fans!). Secondly - there was only one toll of $1.00 (as opposed to the over $25 in tolls on 95). So the whole trip including pit-stops was about 9 hours for every jaunt.

However, the best benefit was traveling through the beautiful mountain ranges on this route. It was, in a word, spectacular. The views were amazing. And depending on which part of the country, and what day in October, the foliage was stunning.

I grew up in New England, so I'm no stranger to stunning foliage....but somehow, this year, all the colors were sparkling and alive. After spending the summer really studying and experimenting with color theory, I was amazed at how many colors I was seeing. Typically when I think "Autumn colors" I think red, orange, yellow, brown...but what I was amazed to see, was the pinks, mauves and purples dotting the countryside. And green. The green is still there with the evergreens...but the varying shades that go along with all the changing leaves was pretty incredible too! I'm sure all these colors have always been there, but it was as though I was seeing it with new eyes.

So...let's circle back now to the subject at hand: Art With Heart Cycle 3. My kit was waiting for me when I got back from the funeral:

I had been thinking of a plan for this kit for weeks before it arrived. So...inspired by all the beautiful scenery and teeming with tons of emotion I went to work.

This is what I came up with:

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with this piece. And I think my final decision will be to hold a raffle or an auction for this piece and donate the proceeds to Hospice Care in my stepmother's honor. Just need to figure out the logistics!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some days....

Some days...I find myself in a funk. Today was one of those days. And it's not even that things are so bad!! I have about a bazillion things to be grateful for. It's just little annoying things that have to be dealt with...and maybe some things that are not so little (even though I refer to these stressors as "little" such as...."my little irs issue", "this little festival that I'm working on", "the little mess someone left in kitchen" "this little pile of laundry" to name a few) And usually I don't sweat the small stuff. Or even the big stuff. But some days, that little mechanism of facing it all is a little off!

The universe is funny though, because after muddling through my funky fog this morning, I opened up my Google reader and the first blog that came up was this wonderful quote:

Trust in the universe that no matter how bad a situation seems
there is a reason. Ultimately, it will make you a better person
& give you the ability to help someone else when it's
their time of need.
Dawn Abraham

This was from the lovely ladies over at Kind Over Matter.

Anyway - it was a nice thing to read first thing today. It's funny how things get put in front of you just when you need them. It's as though - it was meant for ME!

My holiday craft show went relatively well. I didn't meet my goal but my take wasn't too shabby either! I was lucky that I had a good friend spend most of the day there with me. It was nice to have a second set of hands and the company.

I'm super triple dog excited for Marcie Abney's Color Throwdown this month! What a great idea!

And speaking of color challenges, Zoya Gutina (of My Lovely Beads, also the winner of the Ice Queen Bead Maven's challenge!) just announced in her November newsletter the colors for her Fashion Colorworks 2011 competition. I can't remember how I came across this contest earlier this year, but it was the muse for my very first blog post!

I'm also excited for the Art With Heart Cycle 3 deadline coming up this Friday. I finished my piece a few days after I received the kit, so I've been dying to do a reveal!

And's the last couple days to vote for the What INspires You Contest of which I entered. So if you are so inclined, I'd love to get your vote!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting ready

Getting ready for a craft show! Next Saturday. It's one of the bigger ones in the area. Last year's show took place on the day we had the first in a series of snow storms. It was a baby storm by comparison - only 4 inches - but other vendors told me it really affected attendance. I thought it was pretty busy! So...I can only theorize, that with a sunny day in the forecast, this show should be great!

I have a mini lighted Christmas tree I place on my table. Last year I put beaded dragonflies on the tree and they were a hit. Even though it wasn't my intention - I sold them all! So this year I am planning to place these little guys all over the tree:

and these little guys

Unfortunately, this bright idea came to me yesterday, so I now have less than a week to make enough to cover the tree!!!

Here is another activity I am getting geared up for this week:

I am a den leader for one of the dens in my son's Cub Scout pack. But I am also the only trained "Whittlin' Chip" instructor among the leaders. What does that mean exactly?! Well...I get to train a bunch of 8 year old boys on how to use a knife! Scary sounding, huh?! But it's all good. We take it slow. I start them on bars of Ivory soap and a sharpened popsicle stick(they learn their sharpening skills by making the stick sharp). It then takes us about 3-4 den meetings before we finish these lovely little bears carved out of soap! Then we move onto paring knives, but they wear work gloves and we learn to carve different types of vegetables. Then we move onto wood, and remove the gloves. And VOILA! The result is an 8 year old, who can safely use a knife! (Did I mention there is a huge pledge they take reciting all the rules on safely using a knife?!) It's a huge right of passage for them in the pack and it's fun to train them on it. They get so serious, and they are always SO proud of their bears!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Margie & Me Challenge - Mosaic of Color

Happy Thanksgiving folks! I had a great couple of days and ate plenty. Headed up to the City of Brotherly Love for our feast with the in-laws, and looped around to Cape May and then took the ferry for the first time across the bay to Lewes! It was fun - but the water was unbelievably choppy. So choppy you could barely stand up in the ferry, the boat was rocking so much!

I've been working on my Margie & Me Challenge since Marcie selected and posted the palette. Mosaics of Color based on Islamic architecture!

It is deliciously colorful and uses a lot of colors I don't normally use. I was cracking up, in fact, when I looked at my Nymo thread collection and noticed that the only spools that are practically empty are pink, green, gold and brown. Plenty of every other color available for use!

I swear that half the fun of this challenge is just looking at the palette and picking out beads. I had 3 of the five delica colors in the book. And started playing around with my bead selection immediately and did this:

I was planning a cuff, but right angle weave used with the aqua/turquoise bicones was feeling flimsy. And the peyote just wasn't attaching neatly.

So then I did this:

Which was going to end up as a single beaded bead, but I didn't have a plan for incorporating the rest of the colors in the palette.

So then I did this:

But this one had too much of a Mexican feel to it.

So I ended up with this!

This little donut, had several prior incarnations. But when I compared it to the inspiration I decided it was time to rest!

I also want to send out a CONGRATULATIONS to the talented winners of the Haute Couture Contest. The entries were amazing and the two winners' pieces were quite spectacular!

Monday, November 22, 2010


And you thought elections were over on November 2!

It is apparently competition season. And I'm only now realizing that the 'public' vote on all of these competitions I've entered, is one right after another or even worse - the same time!!!

I feel so funny campaigning for votes for my beadwork. Even though I'd really like to get everyone's vote! So how do I humbly ask my 312 Facebook friends to vote for me? And if they are feeling generous - to persuade their friends to vote for me? Or how do I get the 180 Facebook fans on my FB Amybeads page (102 of those, are part of the aforementioned 312) to vote for me? And how do I do it without annoying anyone? Or have it seem like I'm begging.

I don't know why I feel so awkward about it. I feel less awkward "campaigning" to my"fans" than my "friends"...I mean, they did opt to BE my fan....but then again I passively suggested they be my fan....well, at least 102 of them were suggestions, I'm not really sure how I got the other 78.

But at the same time, I want EVERYONE'S vote! But I think I'll seem like junk mail if I start today by saying - okay everyone - time to vote for People's Choice in the Haute Couture contest - voting ends November 25!!!! Please vote for me! And while you are at it...head on over to the page and vote for the Hero's Adornment piece...I'd really like that prize! Voting ends December 8!!!! Please vote for me! Oh and since you are in a voting mood - some time after November 30th, would you mind terribly clicking here to vote for my Art With Heart Cycle 3 piece! Please vote for meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so begins my campaigning quandary. I would like to just submit my pieces and let whatever happens happen. But I know my competitors aren't doing that - and so not wanting to feel at a disadvantage....I must campaign! But I also know that maybe FB friend Jane Doe might go ahead and vote the first time I ask her to. But then I'll ask again a few days later, and maybe she will, maybe she won't. And then I'll ask AGAIN a week later and then she will either really be into it, or she might roll her eyes and click "hide this post" or even worse: "hide all posts from Amybeads". AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

What to do?!?! Well, I think I've mostly figured it out. Truth is, two of the competitions have peoples choice votes available and no prize. The actual winners are determined by a panel of judges. But one of them, has no judges and some really great prizes! So...while it would be really cool to win people's choice in the other contests...I think I'll spend my campaigning energy on the one with the great prize!

In the meanwhile....I will go ahead and add a couple of links on the sidebar - so if any of my WONDERFUL followers and readers feels so inclined, I'd be most appreciative of your vote. :)
All of this reminds me of a wonderful story. A story about a popular vote. If you've ever read my "bio", it tells a story of a 25 year old girl, who on her birthday was walking by a store in Washington D.C. called Beadazzled. She wondered to herself, "hmmm, how could there be an entire store for just beads?"

Well....that was over 16 years ago and the rest, shall we say, is history. I spent years and years buying beads in Beadazzled, til I realized they come a little cheaper in other stores, shows and internet sites. That is not to say, I don't still patronize Beadazzled ...because I do...quite happily. It is a wonderful store, that since my first trip in there 16 years ago, has expanded to to add stores in Baltimore, MD and Tyson's Corner, VA. They carry pretty much any and every seed bead color, finish and size you can imagine and lots and lots of wonderfully unique beads.

Earlier this year, they held a pearl necklace contest. In one of the eras of my 16 years of beading I was somewhat obsessed with pearls and so I had a treasure of pearls in my stash so I was super excited to enter this contest.

I created this piece. Which at first didn't sit right. So I redid it TWICE before I was satisfied. I took one of them apart and started over. And the second time I just started a brand new piece:

I have to say - it was a HUGE thrill for me to have one of MY pieces displayed in a Beadazzled. After all, that store was my beady beginning!

It was a public vote. For 10 days. Customers in the store would be encouraged to vote on the pearl necklace contest. My husband works near this store. So I sent him in. Honey, please vote for me. But really - how do I get my audience to head over to a brick & mortar store and actually place a vote?!

Well....then....something truly magical happened!!!!!!

On June 18th, it was announced that I was the First Place winner of the multi-strand category! They liked me! They really really liked me! Okay - but seriously - with very little campaigning....I won this contest! It was a feeling I'll never forget. The only people I personally know that voted for me were my husband, and myself. I have never felt more validated as an artist than I did that day.

And once again, I'm tempted to say, let me just submit these contest pieces and let whatever happen, happen......but in this digital age I think it's smarter to leave you with this: