Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Day Without Beading Is....

Crap, pretty much. 

I have the same urge to bead that I used to, when young, to sit and read. I used to go through about a book a day. Back before the internet, timesucker extraordinaire.  Now it's remarkable if I read two books a week.

But really, all day, as I work, and do household tasks, is that underlying thought...

"I want to go bead."

I think I have to stop considering beading something I do to reward myself for completing undesirable tasks, and start thinking of it as part of the daily routine. Otherwise it gets pushed and pushed and pushed, along with other pleasures.

Like reading. Or sleeping. 

Less email. Less Facebook. Fewer games of Solitaire. 

More beading. That's the goal!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Philosophy of Bead Organization, Again, With Sources

More answers for Aleta, she asked if I separated my beads by type, or color.

Two main divisions, of course, are seed beads and not-seed-beads.   Seed beads go in flip-top containers I buy from Dee's Beads. These are then stored by size in project cases from Stacks & Stacks.  I can get a lot of those containers, of various sizes, into the project cases in one layer. But I still just had to divide my size 11/0 round seed beads into two project cases, as I had too many to stay in a single layer in one. So now one is yellows, greens, oranges and clear/metallic, the other is the darker colors.   I have one single container for bugles, triangles, drop beads and other oddities, and one apiece for 8/0 rounds, and 15/0 round beads.

Then all my not-seed-beads go into small plastic boxes, as seen here, inside the storage drawers from Stacks & Stacks.  These are all by color, except of course, there are a few things that just don't fit into the normal categories. 

The small plastic boxes come packaged inside larger, 6" x 9" x 2" boxes from Harbor Freight. In the stores, they also sell boxes filled with the double-size mini-boxes, but it doesn't seem like they do on the website. A small box is 1 7/8" square, and will hold hundreds of small beads or about 50 6mm beads. The larger mini-box will hold a strand of fairly large beads, anything smaller than 1" fits fine. A few strands I have are far too large for these boxes, I leave them in the plastic bags they come in. Not many, though. If I unstring the larger beads, they fit in the boxes very well. 

I have a special drawer for cabochons, and another for what I call "special beads." Those include the large metal beads, vintage pieces, and very expensive beads that I want front and center when I'm considering the focal bead for my next piece.   The "miscellaneous" drawer also offers quite a bit of inspiration. I found some tumbled sea glass bits designed for filling vases at Bed, Bath and Beyond that I think would work into something nice. 

The numbers you see on the small boxes in the drawers refer to my inventory software, which assigns the numbers that I apply with my labeler.  That way, when I count the beads used in the finished piece, I know how much the piece cost me in materials. Labor, now that's another story. Does any artist really get paid a good rate for their time? Other than, say a stripper?

Okay, back to Aleta's comments. Ahem. She said she has her seed beads in tubes. Most of mine are originally in tubes but I transfer them all to the flip-tops, as I said. With tubes, I find, as they accumulate, unless you have something like a tube-holder, they tend to lie on top of one another and hide what's below. And that bothers me no end. The thought that the very color I'm seeking is hiding from me. I have unexpected quirks that this organizational effort is revealing to me. The flat-sided flip-tops I use let me line everything up next to each other. No color shall hide! All will be revealed!!  Even those bead pavilion things, though, hide the colors of the tubes on the inside. 

Now I'm still searching for some kind of rack that will contain those project cases, each in it's own slot. That will make it much easier for me to extract the one single case I need to peruse. Right now it seems like they're always stacked up with the one I want at the bottom. How does that work? Why is it always at the bottom?  Seems like random chance alone would put it on the top sometimes, doesn't it?

I can organize beads. I can make jewelry and art pieces. Now, can I sell them? That's the next logical step, isn't it?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bead Storage and Organization, Workspace And WIP

I got comments from Aleta on how I had a lot of beads stored in a relatively small space. 

This is true. What I like about the storage system I settled on is that it's amenable to expansion as needed, without major investment. It also keeps the maximum number of beads visible at once. This is what I see when I open a couple of drawers in the rolling units.  I try to keep the smaller plastic boxes 1 or 2 deep as much as I can. If too much of the drawer gets 3 deep, things start getting forgotten and ignored.

But yes, there are a lot of beads in there. Some drawers are much more full. Many are sparse, like the drawers with clear beads, and the one with white beads. I may have less than a dozen selections in each of those color drawers.

You can see the numbers on the boxes. Those are the inventory numbers that tell me in the software what size, shape and color the beads are, as well as material and cost (and when and where purchased). So when I use twelve of #102 in a work, I know how much each bead cost me. 

I've been investing heavily this year. Perhaps it's just the first flush of beading fever. Now I try to buy staples, like carnelian rounds, or unique items, like focals, cabochons, or materials I haven't seen before. Other than that, and seed beads, stringing materials and findings, I'm trying to limit my purchases. Use what I have.

Often the limitations imposed by budget, availability or time lead to the most creative work. Total freedom often leads to lack of focus. Today I went to two stores, mostly to look for amber-hued seed beads. 

One was JJ Bead, on Edinger in Huntington Beach.  It's a small storefront in a strip mall. They are awash in Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls. They have a large selection of each, and a fair number of seed beads and findings. They are friendly and helpful and the store has been rearranged since my last visit to provide wider aisles for those in chairs. Very roomy now.  They have a lot of Miyuki seed beads, and a fair selection of kumihimo supplies. Near the back of the retail floor is a medium sized work-table for beaders to come and work at. 

Right across Goldenwest, the cross street with Edinger, is Beadology. The focus of their store is glass beads, one whole wall worth. They have vintage glass in small tray containers, and a small selection of stone beads & semi-precious. The floor space is generous here, surrounding a large work table in the center, once again open for beaders when classes aren't being held there. They also have a reasonable selection of Toho seed beads, most widely in 11/0 size. These people are also kind and friendly, and give out purchase cards so that after you buy a certain amount, you get $25 off your next purchase. I like those kinds of encouragement, don't you?

I found a reasonable selection, mostly at Beadology, of the colors of seed beads I wanted.  I'll get all my purchases entered into my inventory software tomorrow, so I can start using them. I want to do a companion piece to my amber and carnelian neckace. Not a duplicate, but a logical development from that starting point. 

I also took another picture of my workspace. You can see a bit more of the actual space here. Everything is handy, nothing is too far away, and I have room to the side to set things that are being glued or in a waiting stage. You can see the pile of project boxes at the right rear there. 

And this is the current project I've picked up. A medallion to go with a kumihimo braid, and lots of fringe with glass fruit beads. Very fun. The purple border is the base ultrasuede, and will disappear after I've trimmed it off and sewed a beaded edge around the border. The cabochon is actually a dichroic bead. It's got a pin back glued on now, to help control the necklace, as it's meant to hang off-center, and that never works without some securing, as the weight isn't distributed evenly. I'm going to try to get the border started tonight. After I post this.

Keep those comments coming! I love them. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Link, Micro-macramé Miracle

Okay, this is just too much. Wandering farther afield from the links listed below, I found Joan Babcock's site.  What colors she uses! They are exactly the colors and intensity that most appeal to me. 

Okay, I quit. No more links today. Gotta go bead something!

A Trail of Links Like Digital Breadcrumbs

Seeking inspiration this morning, I, spent some time clicking random links. 

Sometimes I hit a lot of "my lovely sappy baby and husband" type blogs, filled with diaper tales and all those things that are so interesting when you're a first-time mom, and sooo boring when your kids are grown and you've been there, done that, thrown out the holey t-shirt.

Today though, I have three good ones in series. I will have to spend a lot more time exploring all the beady goodness I found in this trail of Digital Breadcrumbs.

First was Networked Blogs, where I think I'm going to find out how to get my blog listed. Yes I am!  

That came up as I tried to get to Foxan's Blog, which had an interesting description.  Wow that picture of the yellow necklace was really amazing!  And since it was a winner in a contest called Fashion Colorworks, I followed the link that promised a view of all the entrants. Holy cow, Batman!

I'm going to be gathering inspiration hither and yon, friends.  I'm also going to have to find out more about that contest. I'm not a big competition-enterer, but that is tempting.  I wish the entry pictures had bigger zooms!

Oh, yeah. And since I've also gathered some comments about my bead organization posts, there will be additional pictures and workspace commentary soon. 

Enjoy the links!

Monday, June 21, 2010

When a Piece of Art Sticks in Your Mind

I found myself thinking about another piece of work we saw at the Contemporary Arts Market last weekend. 

One in particular was done by Joan Dulla, who does extraordinary crocheted wire work.  One piece in particular caught my eye, the picture from her website will show you why. It was a crocheted tube in gold wire, the tube is about half an inch wide, hollow, and the whole necklace about 24" long, so it will slip over the head easily, though there is no catch.  A 6" segment of the tube is multiple strands of small lapis beads, as a continuation of the tube, and inside the tube, the artist has enclosed several lapis beads, which freely run back and forth inside. 

The sensual aspects of this work are significant. The tube has a springiness to the hand, yet is flexible enough to be comfortable to wear. The colors of the high-quality lapis are wonderful, contrasting with the gold, and they fall smoothly across your hand. And as you turn and examine the work, the inner beads fall and spin inside the tube, giving lively movement to the piece.

The workmanship is wonderful: the impression one of playfulness, and yet a celebration of the materials. Needless to say, this particular piece stuck in my head all this time, and I wanted to revisit it, and the other works by Joan Dulla. 

Ah, if only I could afford the $2,800 price!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Resurrecting UFOs, Recovering Inspiration and Forbidden Rice

The beading on the picture frame is substantially finished, so I started going through the stacked up UFOs (unfinished objects) saved in project boxes on my desktop. 

And I realized, that if a project sits long enough, and one hasn't made any notes, then it's as if you're picking up someone else's work. The inspiration is gone. The intended course has vanished. I looked at some of the bits I'd included in the project boxes, and wondered "what the heck was I thinking?"

Of course, this is the case where inspiration wasn't particularly strong in the first place. The real moments of "ah-HA!" linger on.  Those tend to arrive full-blown, with a visual image of the finished piece, or near what the finished piece will eventually turn out to be. Things I tend to grow slowly by randomly picking up "the next logical bit" are the ones that need documentation if they linger for any period of time.

On the other hand, if I pick them up and begin working, it's an opportunity for new inspiration, a new direction on the whole piece. And since I'm learning and improving my techniques all the time, the work can't help but benefit from the delay.

At least that's what I'm telling myself today.

What's forbidden rice, you ask? We bought this several months ago, and just cooked it for dinner tonight. It's a dark dark purple, almost black. Since it's a whole grain, it's very much like brown rice in texture, meaty and nutty when cooked. It doesn't taste terribly different from brown rice, but the color comes off in the water. And if you, ahem, drop any rice on your shirt, it will leave a purple stain. 

So don't. I guess the Emperor had people to help him eat, either that or he didn't care about purple stains on his priceless silk robes. 

Anyway, the stir fry with marinated pork, veggies and the black rice was very tasty. Tomorrow, up early, work, and then perhaps some beading. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Bead Organization, Storage and a Peek of Workspace

I talked before about the rolling drawers I use to organize all my non-seed beads by color. I did purchase the two additional drawer sets and now I even have a couple of spares. In addition to the by-color organization, I did some sub-categorizing.

The pic of all four sets shows them lined up as I have them when I work. They do all four slide right under the kneehole of the desk when I'm not working, or want to make the living room look neater. 

Yes, that's a cement floor. We ripped up the carpeting several years ago, and believe it or not, the concrete floor, with a big fat crack running across it and big swoops of carpet adhesive, is actually far more attractive than that carpeting was! Never have off-white carpeting in a house where people eat in the living room and walk around with their shoes on. Not a good idea.  Just say no. The previous owners installed it right before they sold. Sadists, I tell you!

When I need to pull the drawers out from under the desk, I use a long backscratcher to get hold of the farthest-in sets. Very handy. It's a reacher, it's a backscratcher. 

Sub-organization. I found out I had huge numbers of red beads, so I subdivided those into large & small, as you can see in the closeup of one of the drawer sets.  I also have separate drawers for findings, cabochons, ultrasuede, stringing materials, and finished work. Right now, that is. Finished work is growing rapidly and I'll have to find better storage than just stuffed in plastic zip-loc bags and piled in a drawer. I even have a few unlabeled drawers waiting for new items. My precious labeler has its own drawer.

Beige/tan/natural/brown and orange beads were also filed all together, but were also overpopulated, like the reds. So now Beige/Tan and Orange/Brown each have their own drawer. A drawer that's too full, piled 3 layers deep of the tiny plastic boxes you can see in the workspace picture, just impedes finding the perfect bead. 

On top of the drawer set you can see a couple of the seed-bead storage kits I use. Turns out that one of these on top of the drawer will still slide right under the desk. So that's a place for four of them, I have two more that stay on top of the desk. Oh, and I need to find a place for my growing collection of books and magazines. 

And here is a shot of my workspace, littered with beads, with my pathetic $7 magnifier from Harbor Freight and a former bedroom LED lamp. Clearly I need better visualization tools. Finding the ideal combination, though, of a comfortable position for the magnifier, the lamp, and my hands as I work in and out of the magnified area is tough. I know a lot of people use Ott Lites. I still haven't found one that suits me and I'm actually considering a professional grade magnifying lamp like those used in scientific labs. Pricey, though. 

The small colorful round dishes are the tops off of storage tins, they have a glass bottom and I've found them to be ideal holders for beads I'm working on. I have enough I can distribute many different kinds of beads and have them handy and controlled while I work. It minimizes the dropping on the floor syndrome. Not eliminates. Minimizes.   

So you can see my mess, bent needles and all. I have various bowls to hold items, and in the second desk drawer I actually keep all my tools. It's on the right hand and placed properly to reach for in the middle of something.

I do clear the desktop after every project is finished. You can see on the third drawer set from the left in the first picture a tiny peek of the current work in progress, a bead-embroidered picture frame on midnight blue ultrasuede, with silver and crystal beads. It might turn out okay, after all. 

Oddly, I hate hate hate filing papers, but I love to organize, label and tidy up my beads. I wonder why those two tasks, which seem to be similar, stimulate different centers of my brain. One is good, the other I avoid like, well, a chore. 

So there. My creative space. It's all in the living room, on the left hand side of the desk where my living room computer lives. It's a big desk. Notice along the front edge, those tiny torn post-it bits marking off measurements. If I didn't care about marring the desk, I'd just scribe those suckers into the wood. But I love the natural maple inlaid with ebony of the desk, so post-its it is. They last surprisingly long, and are amazingly handy for measuring thread, wire, and beaded lengths. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gorgeous Beads and bit of Envy

I was wandering the back corridors of the internet, and found a link to Nancy Sathre-Vogel's description of her life and relationship with beads.  She's gotten to travel all over the world, and guess what? There are beads to be found everywhere!

Pictures of her work are found here, and more if you follow the links on the page.  I love seeing what she's done with all the exotic and rare beads she's found. They provide such inspiration, yet she uses techniques that are available to all of us.

I guess the lesson is that by keeping one's eyes open, no matter where you are, you will find both beads and inspiration. 

I can't help but envy her ease at entering and enjoying foreign cultures. Something to aspire to, I think.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pictures of the New Piece

I had a slight wardrobe malfunction at the Art Market yesterday, and of course it takes longer to repair something than to do it in the first place.

Come to find out, crimp tips with loops don't really hold all that well, either that or I'm crimping poorly. I'm crimpless! One of the small side strands came loose just as I entered the show yesterday, I made fast repairs and continued on, to much acclaim. The crowd went wild!

So today, after the fix, here are pictures. The coral is a new piece purchased solely as a photo background. Let me know what you think!

The colors of the amber are pretty true. The coral is white, though it shows yellowish in the closeup.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Home From Santa Monica

The Santa Monica Contemporary Crafts Market, that is. Once again, a great show.  

Several years ago, we attended this show, and there were a lot more ceramics artists, and a lot fewer jewelry makers. Apparently, jewelry is enjoying a massive surge of popularity. Pots, not so much.  Almost half of the exhibitors seem to be jewelry of one kind or another.

I was extremely disciplined. I purchased only one pair of gold earrings, like these pictured (but in vermeil), from VOZ, for a very modest sum.

I was mightily tempted, though, by a woodturner named Morrie Elmer who embeds semi-precious gems into his vessels. They are unbelievably exquisite, when you handle them, the embedded gems are so smoothly incorporated the whole surface is silken and smooth.  One small mesquite piece with turquoise, coral and amethyst caught my eye. It was far less than the large vessel of ebony that took pride of place in his booth though. That one was inlaid with lovely opal, gold, and other gems.  $12,000, and worth every penny.

We walked away, though, having other uses for the money in the next few years.  Sorry, Morrie. Someday. Though I have thought about Mr. Elmer's work often since I last saw it 2 years ago. Oh well. I know where to find him now, if I become desperate for one of his vessels.

So. The first person we met on entering the market, at the VIP entrance, remarked on my necklace, and said I should be exhibiting. Wow. Much positive reinforcement took place thereafter. At least a dozen people commented positively on the piece. It's the finished amber, citrine and carnelian piece, which I just completed Friday night, purposely so I could wear it today.

Exhibitors complimented me, even those who were fully aware I wasn't going to buy anything. We had a lively conversation with Karen Smith about her micro-macramé, and advised a friend sharing her booth about the benefits of kumihimo for creating beaded braids. Her knotted work is totally inspiring. Must get back to work on my stuff!  We also talked a bit with Sally Bass, who works in a "take no prisoners" full-speed-ahead style that's really irresistable. She uses an astonishing variety of materials in her work, including old pool-table balls and vintage lucite and bakelite.  

We talked a bit to Myra Berg, of Quiet Oboes, about the success of her ad which appears every issue in American Style magazine.  Her pieces may seem simple in technique, wrapping silk and other fibers over cylindrical forms, but in person they glow with light and dance with texture. She ran over and complimented my whole colorful ensemble, what with my amber/brown/gold necklace, royal purple shirt, blue jeans, fuschia socks and artist painted canvas purse by Iró. She's definitely a person who is enchanted by color!

On our way out of the show we stopped by the front desk and asked a show organizer for an application for exhibitors. We discussed the whole process, and I decided I will work toward an exhibition at the Market in November, 2011. That's 17 months away. Until then, I've got many things to learn, and an inventory to create!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Next Blog

Blogging is an interesting pastime. You see lots of other blogs out there and wonder how they manage to produce new, interesting content all the time.

Or you see blogs that look like they were vital living things at one time but haven't had a live post for several years, but are still out there. It's a sad thing, an abandoned blog. It makes you wonder what has happened in the life of the blogger since the Last Post.

In the Google blogs, like Blogger, there's a link up top that says "Next Blog>". I don't know if everyone can see it, or just those who have Blogger accounts. 

Sometimes I click that link. I get the idea that you're supposed to be sent to similar blogs to the one you're on. So if I start on a beading blog like this one, I expect to get sent to beading, craft or art blogs. More often than not, I get sent to someone's "my kids, my wonderful sweetie-oookie husband, and me" blather-blog. There must be millions of those out there. 

Sometimes I get to an interesting blog worth reading. Other (many) times it's a dead invite-only blog or oddly, one that "can't be found." You'd think Google could get their programming a little tighter and not send a random blog-jumper to non-existent blogs.

I'm thinking to tweak my own blog descriptions, so that people may find me from art blogs more easily. I sure don't want to be classified as a blather-blogger!

Monday, June 7, 2010

So What's Next?

I've been thinking about taking a microwave kiln glass fusing class that's being given at Brea Bead Works.

Then I realized that the cost of the class is nearly as much as purchasing a kiln itself. The microwave would be extra, since I'm not going to put kiln paper into our family food microwave. That would be bad. I'll pick up a small, cheap microwave somewhere on sale. Actually having less than the blast furnace model will be good, a lower wattage oven will heat the glass slightly more slowly, which will help prevent cracking.

I looking around on the internet, and found the Microwave Kiln Helpdesk blog, by Sylvanye Roh, which was very informative. Then I found a site where they have all three readily available brands of kilns on sale. In multiple sizes. I'm still browsing for reviews on which is the best brand, though I suspect they're much of a muchness. 

After that, it's going to be test, revise and test. Glass is relatively cheap, in the quantities you use in these tiny kilns. Plus, several years ago, I found a huge cache of dichroic scrap, about 5 pounds worth, someplace, and grabbed it up. Isn't it odd I can't even remember where it came from? I've got small bits, all the way up to pieces about 6" across. The patterns aren't the best and colors tend to the blue/green, but I've got tons of the stuff. 

So I suspect that in a little while, I'll be microwaving my way to fused glass glory. And then figuring out ways to incorporate what I produce in my beading.

The amber fringe necklace is coming along really well. I'm very excited about it. In a way, I feel it's the next step in my evolution as an artist. The problem then becomes that everything I've finished before, I want to go back and do it again.  Better.  Yeesh!

Next weekend is the Contemporary Crafts Market in Santa Monica. The event last fall was incredibly inspiring. I may want to go this time just to absorb, not to buy, now that I've had experience with so many new techniques. I know a lot more than I did then, and viewing with a more educated eye will be so beneficial. 

Yeah. That's what I'll tell my husband. "It's educational, honey. I promise not to buy anything."  That'll fly.

Who knows. Maybe someday I'll be in the show, not just attending!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So What Do You Say to Queen Elizabeth When She Shows Up In Your Dream?

Hi? How ya' doin', Yer Maj? Yo, dawg!?

What a weird dream. I get the part about my sister being in the hospital giving birth. She's certainly at a stage in her life where a new start would be wonderful. That's often what the symbolism of a baby represents in a dream. 

For many years, I've been able to have a 'conversation' with my subconscious through dreams. When I'm troubled or concerned with something, I'll dream repeatedly about it, until I am able to understand what the message is. Then I can say (out loud, or not) "Okay, I get it." and I'll stop having the dream(s).

Sometimes the symbols are plain. Wandering through a house looking for something. Being nibbled to death by ducks. Like that. 

Sometimes, though, they're so darn obscure they baffle me. Queen Elizabeth II? Really?  She came complete with hat and handbag, and kindly smile. And she put up with shenanigans I know Her Real Majesty would not. Holy cow, she let me hug her!

So I guess my subconscious will have to try again. I can hardly wait. 

Oh, subconsicous? Could we have something with Tom Selleck in, please? If we're going to have famous people, I mean.