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

Campaigning

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 Artbeads.com 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:


Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I like!

I was walking along the B&A Trail recently and saw a construction crew tearing down trees in a forest for a housing development. It kind of freaked me out and I was starting this post ranting and raving about it. But I didn't like that. So I decided instead to post about things I LIKE!

Picnik

And no, I don't mean picnic, like the kind you do on a beautiful day on a grassy knoll. I am referring to the amazing site: Picnik.com. It is a photo editing site that allows you to fix and edit photos absolutely free. I almost always need to adjust the exposure on all my pictures. They always appear darker on camera than they actually are. So I can take a picture like this:

and turn it into a picture like this(its actual color):
'
Did I mention you can also crop, and add text!?
I used this site to create my Etsy banner:

and an ad that had a 100X100 pixel spec:

And it's fast and easy. I recently upgraded from my free account to a "premium" account. At $25 a year, you can't really beat the features! Plus it's available to me where ever I have web access! But you may not even need the premium account because you can do so much for free! You can create collages, add special effects, text, stickers, resize, fix exposure, color and more:

There is also a feature that I haven't used yet that allows you to upload your edited photos directly to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Picasa, Photobucket, Flickr, etc.!

My Husband
He's the cutie featured just above in the collage. Love him!

Funny Stories
So my son and I go to the National Zoo quite often. We both love the bird section. We went there over the summer and saw this really neat bird (note the bird's name):

Well, when we got home my husband asks what kind of animals we saw....and my son said,
"we saw flamingos, the flamingo babies, an ostrich, and a cocky bastard." LOL!

The Royal Engagement

How CUTE are these two!?!?!? I am a shameless celebrity follower. I don't subscribe to People magazine, but People.com is my homepage when I open up my browser!!! And frankly I was delighted by this royal engagement!!! AND - fellow beaders - one article I read about Kate's influence on fashion noted her affinity for long beaded necklaces!

GIVEAWAYS!
Here are a couple of really really cool giveaways. The first one I saw this week was on Kind Over Matter. And this giveaway is practically rivaling Oprah's Favorite Things. Okay, well that might be an exaggeration, but this one really is a giveaway BONANZA!

The other one I'm really crossing my fingers to be the winning draw is on the Where Women Create blog. They featured the Brave Girls Club giveaway of a free online workshop. This workshop looks so neat, I may even take the class even if I don't win! (and there it is....proof that a promotion like this DOES work to drum up more business!!!)

Well, my list of "likes" could go one for quite a while, but I will stop here. Have a wonderful and creative weekend!



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hero's Adornment and a muse on inspiration...

I think I mentioned in another post that I was going a little outside the box for my Artbeads.com What Inspires You contest piece. Frankly - it is difficult to choose ONE thing that inspires me!! I finished my Art With Heart competition piece recently and was genuinely inspired by the Autumn foliage I saw here on the East Coast. Pink is one of my favorite colors, so all I have to do sometimes is see the right shade of pink beads, and I'm inspired by that. The Margie & Me color challenges on La Bella Joya's blog inspire me. Other bead artists inspire me. Artists of any kind inspire me! Creating a gift for someone special inspires me. Really....the list goes on and on!!!

But shortly after the announcement of this contest, my 9 year old walked into my 'bead room' with one of his LEGO® toys that he had just built and asked how I liked it. I think his exact words were "How do you like this warrior hero?!"

As usual, I was quite taken with the color selection he chose to create this warrior hero!! I asked him to please leave it in the room, because, I was in fact, inspired by that action figure!! It was decided that moment that I would use this action figure as my "What Inspires You" inspiration! And I told my little fella' so! (to which he was quite excited!!)

So looking at this piece, I gathered up the beads that I felt were a good representation of this wonderful warrior hero. And I am sure I don't need to explain to anyone who has a young child about how these LEGO® toys snap together so perfectly. The way these toys come together, really made me think of peyote stitch, especially the way the beads snap together - just like a LEGO®! The figure also reminded me of 3D geometric shapes. So I got busy making beaded beads of pyramids and cylinders!

And after a couple weeks I had this necklace:


You may find it amusing to know, that since that fateful day when I let my son know that I was using one of his toys as my inspiration...there have been similar heroes, in different color schemes, parading through my bead room, with my son asking, "Does this one inspire you?" "Do you want me to leave this one here?" Too cute!

I hope you will vote for my piece some time between November 23 & December 8!


Also - if you feel like getting in on a great giveaway - Julsbeads is giving away three of her gorgeous glass beads. If I win I don't know how I'll decide between these cuties:

or these colorful rings:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Margie & Me challenge - Adoration of the Magi #59

Wow - those two weeks passed QUICKLY!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post - I'm BUSY these days. But I can't resist participating in the Margie & Me Challenge! I was thinking about that a lot today. Why do I feel so compelled? But the answer is easy - I LOVE challenges, it helps me grow as an artist, and I try to do these pieces as gifts with a recipient in mind.

I took on too big a project than I actually had time for this time around! I should have planned for and done a simple strung piece if I felt so compelled to participate.... but once the challenge palette came out - I rummaged through my stash, pulled together a bunch of beads and decided on an embroidered piece.

I didn't start until the beginning of this week, and the truth is...I'm not even finished with it yet! I started this piece without an actual plan in mind....so I think because of that fact, I ended up with some portions of this piece (namely the bottom third of it) that I just can't stand to look at. I almost threw this out the window a few times. But I'm glad I stuck with it. I also haven't really decided how I'm going to finish it! I can't decide if I want it to be a large pendant, or a part of a larger collar, a decoration for a wooden box...or what!

But here we are on the eve of the reveal, so I will go ahead and reveal!

I think I captured the colors pretty well:

I've had that rose pendant for nearly 12 years. And as seen in the crevices, it's collected a bit of dust. I have been working with toothpicks and q-tips for days trying to address the dust but it just won't go!

I will be sure to post another pic once I finish my Adoration of the Magi!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Collage

I've been very busy working on my Margie & Me piece

and having a lot of fun with seeing the great colors come together. I'm hoping my piece isn't too gaudy - and also hoping I manage to get it done!!! It is a blessing to say that I've become rather busy over the last few weeks. I have two jobs, that don't include beading! And in another blessing, I got a big custom order on Etsy over the weekend!! When it rains it pours! I didn't work for two months over the summer and that was anxiety producing to say the least, but I did get my house really clean and do a LOT of beading! And in many ways, the time off really connected me with my beading. I made space in the day for beading every day and even now that I am working, I've stuck with that commitment of going to that space every day.

But in the MEANWHILE....I learned a NEW craft! LOL! I took a class at the Maryland Hall for Creative Arts (where, incidentally I will be teaching a class this spring! Yay!). The class was paper collage, taught by Laura Dixon (who makes spectacular paper collage artwork!!!!) The medium is using only magazine paper torn into pieces to create the image you want! It's crazy cool and FUN! I'll never look at a magazine the same again. Anyway - here are a few of my beginning pieces:



Hoping everyone is having a blessed and creative week!

Friday, November 5, 2010

TGIF

Good evening, Albarino. Oh! And my Lacy's Stiff Stuff came in the mail today.

I learned embroidery over the summer. My darling husband got me a kit for my birthday since I'd been talking on and on about it. I made this out of the kit materials and some of my own:

But I didn't really have a plan of what I was going to do with the not-intentionally-eye-shaped piece. So, like a big goober, I glued it onto one of my work folders:

It doesn't really "go", but I was so excited about my first endeavor into bead embroidery that I wanted to look at it often! Plus, isn't that cab gorgeous? So now my grand plan is to use any Lacy's Stiff Stuff (LSS) scrap I produce, to make small embroidered bits and add them to the folder. And add to it until the folder is covered!!! I've made a handful of bead embroidered pendants since that first piece, but I only had gray LSS on hand. So I am very excited to have the white now to play around with!

In other news of the week, I've been making pendants like crazy. As my wonderful friend Lynn says about her love of green...it's turning into a sickness! I saw this pattern in a past beading magazine issue and had some fun with it (here is a sampling)...

...and as I was beading them, realized they were remarkably similar to a method I used last year (a modification of a beaded crystal bead) when I entered a beaded bead contest. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is in the number of beads used!


Over the weekend, I plan to continue working on my Artbeads.com "What Inspires You" contest piece. It was hard to pick one thing that inspires me as there are SO MANY things that inspire me. I stepped a bit outside the box on this one....but when I'm done I will reveal what inspired these beaded beads that will be part of my final piece:

Monday, November 1, 2010

I had one of those weekends where I felt DETERMINED to finish any straggling projects. I manged to complete three of the projects that were sitting around so now I feel better about starting the Artbeads "What Inspires You" contest piece. One of the straggling projects was this one as a second entry to the Haute Couture contest. I like it, but I'm not thrilled with it for a competition piece:

But...for the fun of it....who can tell me which dress inspired this necklace??

Marcie of La Bella Joya cracked me up this morning in her blog regarding the Delicas for this week's challenge. In the last two Margie & Me challenges, I happened to possess all the Delicas named in the book for the palette....but alas - I HAVE been stumped this time. I knew when I was looking at FMG's color description of color #DB182: copper lined olive that it just wasn't in the cards...but I checked my stash anyway. You see, my Delica stash is so large, because many, many years ago I worked for a lovely lady who was creating and selling tapestry patterns through her on-line bead shop. She hired me to work up the patterns so she could be sure the colors and finishes all worked when the pattern was complete. She would send me the pattern, and all the Delicas I would need to complete the pattern. I was allowed to keep whatever was leftover. And there was PLENTY leftover! I worked up lots of patterns for her and ended up with a ton of Delica beads. I found myself a little obsessed with doing tapestries for a few months and joined a Delica bead of the month club, in which they sent 6 tubes of Delicas each month. I did that for about 7 or 8 months. And so...I ended up with quite an extensive stash. Here is where I keep them all:

And it is my only style of beads I attempt to keep in some order by color....here are a few drawers:

And here is a pile of them I haven't put away yet:

But this time for the Margie & Me challenge - I am short THREE OF THE FIVE colors (in Delicas anyway)! But that's okay - I've already subbed and added to the palette and looking forward to this challenge...maybe a little embroidered piece this time. Just ordered some Lacy's Stiff Stuff so we'll see how the wind blows when it arrives!