Monday, January 17, 2011

Egregious Use of "Quotes"

Saturday we went to the Pasadena Bead Show. This year I spent a lot less, and lot more selectively than I have on previous trips. Perhaps that's because my budget is limited. Perhaps it's because the one vendor I wanted to really visit, Out of Our Mines, wasn't attending the show this time.

Pity. I really wanted a shot at their wonderful cabochons. Although they have lots of items up on their website, there's just no substitute for fondling the stones in person.

Anyway, I had a good time, frugally speaking, and found some lovely old undyed coral branches, only $20 a strand!!  And also some wonderful raku porcelain beads and donuts by Amy Mealy of Xaz Beads.  These beads are gorgeous up close. The play of color is incredible, and the beads are light, since they're made of porcelain.  The price is also great.

I found some lovely coral rounds and turquoise teeny almost heishi strands for reasonable prices as well.  I picked up some ear wires, as I've been plunging into earrings lately. No silver, other than a pair of silver spiral earrings that I'll probably just keep for myself, since silver prices are going through the roof.

At a booth called Mineral Treasures, we found some Russian rockhounds who just love their rocks. They know every mineral intimately and are glad to share the details. In depth. They kindly dismantled a necklace when all I wanted to buy was the wire-wrapped dendritic quartz pendant. The rock is similar to the one pictured here.  They have kick-butt labradorite, too.  Great prices, as well.

And then there was the one, truly evil, item. Dichroic coated seed beads. Yipes! I won't say what I spent for them, but they come in tiny 1 gram vials just like crack cocaine. They're about as expensive, and just as addicting. I found the website for Dichro Beads, who makes them. Turns out the coating company she uses is right down the road in Orange, CA. Hmm. Wonder if I could get them to coat things for me? $8 per gram is steep. On the site, it says "use sparingly" but I guess that's just because using them in masses would break the bank, hey?  You need as little as 6 grams to spice up a necklace, they say...well, using my old-school math, that comes out to $48 just for accent beads. Yipes again!

Since dichroic material is so hard to photograph well, I suspect the sample pieces you see on the site are spectacular in person. The worked beaded beads I saw at Paula Radke's booth, where I purchased them, were quite lovely. I only bought two vials, and I'll report back on how using them turns out. A single gram has between 180 and 200 beads, so I will indeed have to use them sparingly.

What's this about quotes, you say? On our way home we saw this sign.  I sat there staring at it, still kind of stunned from the sensory overload of the bead show.  Then, slowly, something penetrated.  I scrambled for the camera before the red light changed.

"7"???  What did they mean, "7"?  Were they not open seven days a week? Did they think there were other days?  Did they want to emphasize the number 7 even more than just making it bigger and bolder than the rest of the text in the line? Did they not understand the use of quotes?

I'm still confused.  But I'm guessing so is the sign-writer.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bead or Blog....Blog or Bead?

I'm sure every blogging beader has the same conundrum.

I'm happier while beading than I am while blogging. Particularly since prepping for a blog post means taking and editing my photos, and preparing them for uploading. And it just doesn't seem like a blog anymore without a few photos! Why is that, I wonder?  I used to be able to just yammer on about feelings or hopes and fears or, well, crap, without the need for photos rearing it's ugly head.

Time is the commodity we all have the least of. Except for teenagers, who are immortal, and thus don't feel that spending their youth courting carpal tunnel of the thumbs while texting is a waste.  I feel like I'd rather spend my valuable time where it makes me happiest.

So my blog-productivity (blogitivity? productbloggity?) is down somewhat. But on the other hand, I really like sharing my work. I like the support I get from other beaders and readers. I like the suggestions that come along when I pose a question or have a knotty problem. And beaders always have knotty problems. If ya' know what I mean.  

So there are benefits to blogging that I don't want to forego, and I know that if I want to keep readers coming back, I can't just let this blog lapse for months at a time like so many do. I can't tell you how many blogs I've stumbled across at random where the last post was in July (2009), and that one says, "Oh, I haven't posted for months but now I'm going to be posting every day..."  Yeah. Right.  

Fresh and interesting content keeps people coming around. People who will show me their stuff if I show them mine. So, we're back to photos, aren't we?

I've been struggling endlessly with my camera. I couldn't get reproducible results from one photo to another. I got the darn thing repaired (thank you, Canon USA). I couldn't believe that it wasn't easier to take a simple photo.  Online I found a recommendation that for a camera to take good jewelry photos it needs to have a Macro setting, and a white balance adjustment. My camera has those.  Why doesn't it work for me?

So I returned to state zero on my camera. I wiped out all the custom settings I'd been trying, and read the darn manual. One more time. Whattaya know?  There it is on the Macro page, when I click the little flower button, it will take pictures as close as 2 inches, or 9 inches when zoomed. Though it seems like their measurement isn't to the lens, it's the back of the camera, really.  It will focus itself. Stop struggling, Lynn. Just let the zen of the camera take the picture. 

And it worked. Finally. Closeups that are beautiful, and look like the object being photographed. I had to do minimal correction of the photos in editing software. Cropping, adjusting high/lowlights, and saving in the right format. I think I only used sharpening on one photo in the whole batch!

These pictures are of my most recent piece. It's a bracelet done with a peyote strap, in size 15, yes, 15 beads. I love the "fabric" of beads this creates, so supple and with a surface of glowing depth. Then I used a ruffled netting along each edge, with 3mm Magatamas in purple to highlight the edge. 

I used a slide bar clasp in sterling, and the large beads in the fringy embellishment are flourite rounds, 12mm. I love those. This bracelet came out exactly as I wanted it to. Can you see the subtle variation in the beads on the strap? There are patterns there which, when you hold the bracelet under the light and move it, are more obvious than in the pictures. I accomplished this by using two color codes of 15s, right next to each other, Artbeads Toho 506 and 507, one of which is more blue/green/purple, and the other more green/yellow. Lovely.  I hope you can see that pattern in the pictures.

I auditioned several different methods of embellishing around the clasp, most of which didn't work. This clump of Magatamas with the flourite coming out of it is great. The larger beads flop about and clack together, so you get sound as well as sight and tactile enjoyment of the bracelet.

This piece is a variation of the last bracelet I finished, using some metallic finish size 8 delicas in what the seller called a "rain" mix. Didn't look like rain to me, but it looked nice. I made my own hook and loop closures for this's only marginally successful. But as an inspiration to move into a variation that was so successful, I forgive it for not being perfect.  Sort of. Maybe I'll give it to someone I don't really like. Or convince someone to adopt it because it's so pitiful. 

In any case, with some adjustments in lighting and staging, I think I can move along in my quest for better photos now. I know it's not the camera. I probably shouldn't be taking all my pictures on a ratty beading matt with thread clippings on it, either. I have a lovely set up in the other room. 

Now I can move on to agonizing over why I don't have any Etsy sales.