Friday, March 23, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • Theme Reveal

Last year I took a year off from A-Z, and one might even suggest I practically took a year off from blogging!

But also last year, I modified / rebranded my blog, changing it from simply 'Amybeads' to 'Amybeads...and birds!'.

So without further ado, the theme of this year's Blogging from A-Z challenge will be: BIRDS.  My intention is to only post about birds I've seen here in my home state of Massachusetts.   To keep things relevant to the bead portion of my blog, I will also be challenging myself to a new pair of earrings each day of the challenge (taking a page out of my friend Christine's playbook!).

Did you know that 2018 is Year of the Bird?  This year was declared Year of the Bird by the Audubon Society and National Geographic because it marks the 100 year anniversary of the Migratory Bird Act.  And in part, because birds are a great indicator of how our environment is doing.  There is a fantastic article (click here) on "Why Birds Matter."  Plus, let's face it, birds are pretty cool.  

I have always enjoyed nature and wildlife, but I would say my love of birds started when I didn’t even realize it. I was in Florida for a vacation in 2009.  When I returned, I posted an album of my vacation on Facebook   The photos I posted were about 90% photos of birds! My friends ribbed me about all the bird photos ("Nice pics, but you seem obsessed with birds" "What's with all the birds?" "Wow, you REALLY like birds, huh?"), but I just brushed past it thinking, "but those birds are so freaking cool."

Fast forward a few years later, in 2014, when there was a snowy owl irruption on the coast of the Atlantic.  While this is not a new phenomenon, it was the first time I had ever heard of it and  lived close enough to go witness and observe these fantastic visitors. 

I visited the Massachusetts north shore multiple times that year and in doing so, started reading up on local bird forums and Facebook groups on where I could find the snowy owls.  But with that, I also started reading about other winter birds in the area and really caught the excitement bug of seeing new birds. 

It wasn't until 2015, that I realized the town conservation land that was so close to me, abutted an Audubon property! Let's just say, the rest is history.  I visit this property just about every chance I get and there are always some wonderful birds and/or wildlife to observe. 

I hope visitors will enjoy this year's Blogging from A-Z posts of birds in my state and probably some narrative on my experiences observing these birds.   Stay tuned also for a pair of earrings per day.  To spice things up, at the end of the challenge, I will hold a drawing for anyone who comments during the month and will gift someone with a week's worth of earrings.   (Examples below but not necessarily the earrings that will be gifted!)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Carrier Beads and Color Palettes

A new beading craze!

I saw these words, 'carrier beads', a few times and let it pass right by me.  Then I received a newsletter from Jill Wiseman Designs about carrier beads and made a mental note to check back on that.

Then I opened the email and got a little more curious.

Then I clicked through to her FB group and delighted in what I was seeing!

These two-hole beads, also known as "two hole pillow" beads, are being covered in very simple peyote strips, offering an unending stream of design possibilities.  Just go ahead and google "carrier bead designs" to see for yourself!

I contacted a couple of my local bead shops to see if they were carrying carrier beads...and none were.  Some weren't even sure what I was talking about.  So I ordered some online.  Now I wait.  Somewhat impatiently, might I add.

But hey - I don't need the carrier beads to start making my peyote strips.

Common design ideas are peyote delica strips created with the same two or three colors but with varying patterns.  The results are gorgeous.  I am drooling.  These designs keep reminding me of the designer, Angela Moore. Her hand painted beads and designs often follow a similar design style  Limited color-way, but varying art for beads in the same piece.

I also came across a gorgeous idea from Wescott Jewelry, where she took the same pattern, but did an ombre rainbow effect!  SO MANY IDEAS!!!!  Check it out by clicking here.

For color palettes, the possibilities are also endless.  We often see color palettes in four or five colors, but this new carrier bead craze has inspired me to create a couple of three-color palettes!  I added some delica color suggestions, but since there are so many options for delica colors and finishes, be sure to use your imagination!

In the meanwhile, while I wait for my carrier beads to arrive, I will continue to make the peyote strips, and keep busy with other activities! March 1 marked the deadline for the 2018 Bead-it-Forward square submissions and there are a handful of packages to open, photograph, and log.

At work, my company is opening another restaurant next month, so work is busy to be sure!  But there's always something beautiful to look at or taste, so I'm not complaining!

And finally - the birds are telling me that spring is in the air!  It is a very exciting time in the woods near my home.  There really aren't any words to describe how thrilled I was to see that my favorite bird couple has appeared to have successfully started another clutch this year.  Last year, my friend and fellow birding enthusiast named these two great horned owls, Nate and Ethel.  I first noticed Ethel hunkered down a few weeks ago in a nest.  And now I visit a few times a week and often see Nate on guard duty near by.

Other bird-related signs of spring include red-winged blackbirds arriving in the area, herons scouting out the rookery, and bluebirds in full blue plumage!