Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weird, Cool, and Freaky, with a Tiny Bit of Beading

Yesterday we spent several hours with a friend at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. If you've never been to Venice Beach, it's a touristy LA thing you really shouldn't miss.  The Boardwalk is the natural home of every tacky pair of sunglasses ever made, weird outliers of the human species, and the ravening spirit of the predatory entrepreneur, buyer very much beware.

The people-watching is extraordinary, even on a gloomy, overcast and somewhat cool Saturday. The skinny old guy who wanders about wearing a very very VERY brief Speedo had goosebumps. Not that I looked, or anything.  Everywhere are vendors hawking their own CDs, very cheap jewelry, much of it made of feathers (to the point that you wonder where all the naked birds are), or Bob Marley/ganja/rasta goods.  Oh, and the per capita distribution of psychics (for people or pets), palm-readers and massage artists seems quite high.

Speaking of high, many of these folks seem like they washed up on the shores of the 1960s and never got back in the swim. There are medical marijuana clinics with sexy costumed "nurses" outside, trying to recruit passers-by like strip-show hawkers in Times Square. This, between the Freakshow barker and the Phoenix House addiction treatment center. Seems appropriate, somehow.   And scattered all through this, on the fringes of the crowd, are the homeless. They're mellow, most of them, Venice being one of the better places to be homeless for the winter.

And, of course, many of the vendors/artists are absolutely unique. There's a sand artist, and another shop filled with small to larger-than-life sculptures made entirely from hardware bits, most of them of movie-monsters like the Alien or Predator. Big hit with the guys.  There was a half-pipe skateboarding competition taking place while we were there, fantastic to watch. Of course, there are always the street performers, some of whom are amazing, funny, or both.  Or loud. The musicians are generally good, but every shop also pumps out music, so the few stretches of quiet along the boardwalk are welcome.

Pick your spot, and you can get quite good, or very very bad food. We had a decent lunch at Figtree, though the menu was surprising in that it didn't have any red meat on it at all. Semi-vegetarian, kinda.  I tried the bread pudding at Shultzies, but found it somewhat disappointing. To me, proper bread pudding is custardy, and with some texture of the bread or pastry used still present. The raspberry pudding I tried was just...wet. Dense, served cold, and with no egg flavor at all, it was more like refrigerated milk-soaked bread than pudding.  I can make better myself.

So how is this related to beading? Certainly the acres of $2 bracelets from China or India or whatever are dreadful and offer nothing to the real beader. Some of the vendors have interesting (or weird, depending on your viewpoint) goods such as insects, scorpions, or sea-life embedded in resin, or cut stones.  So I found one vendor with a bunch of unmounted cabochons for sale, and bought three of them. The good thing about buying here is that the dealers are amenable to drastic bargaining over the price. You do have to be really careful of the quality. But I got three agate cabs for not much money, so they'll be joining the stash.

The creative beader can find materials anywhere!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carnage on the Concrete

Have I mentioned how much I hate to rework things? Whether it's a database design that needs changing, or the client asks me to remove the programming they insisted I install, or ripping out a beaded section that just doesn't work artistically, I hate re-doing what I've already done once.

Now imagine how much I hate re-doing work when it's my own stupid mistake that makes it necessary.

Original brooch
I found out something new in the course of making the mistake, though. Semi-precious stone, which sounds so sturdy because of the "stone" part of the name, is surprisingly fragile. Especially when you knock it onto a concrete floor from a height of 3 feet or more.  

I've always known that drop-shaped beads in stones like amethyst or citrine can be split open at the drilled hole by trying to force a too-large needle through. What I didn't realize was that turquoise is very breakable, particularly when formed into pointy-ended shapes and then drilled through that point. Very little structural strength remains, and when dropped... Well.  Kaplooey. Or some sound like that.

The Carnage
So I've got this piece I'm so proud of. May be the best designed piece I've done so far. I entered it in the October challenge (as noted in the previous post) for the Etsy BeadWeavers Team.  It's listed for sale. I might have to ship it to a buyer at any moment! Not that I generally need to worry. I've never had one sale from my Etsy shop. Not one. 

And I dropped it. Smack onto the concrete floor of my living room.  Carnage ensued. I'm just lucky I didn't drop it face down and break a cabochon. I only broke five out of the seven turquoise drops.

The Replacements
I said some very bad, unprintable words. My husband helped me gather the bits and I realized I'd have to completely re-string the longer fringe.

Luckily I'd purchased an entire strand of the drops, and had plenty of material to choose from to match the former beads.  Took me a bit but I finally found the close matches I needed.

I cut out the existing fringe and stripped off the beads on to my workmat.  Then I started to reweave the fringe. And, of course, did the first one wrong, even after consulting my photos. I hate doing things twice. Doing them three times makes me say even worse words.

Good as new?
But finally, I had it done again. Looks good, perhaps even better than the first time, since they're a bit more consistent.  I will be a bit more aware of where I'm putting it, so as not to drop it again. In fact, it would probably be a good idea not to knock it against anything hard. Ever. Don't want to do it again!

Monday, October 3, 2011

How Lucky Can One Girl Get?

I've got jury duty AND a root canal, all in one week. How's that for lucky?  Still, it could be worse. I can afford the root canal, and the agony before the doc relieved the abscess made me realize how amazing modern dentistry (and medicine) is. I've never had an abscessed tooth before, and now I know why people used to just yank bad teeth out, even without anesthesia. Wow that was bad.

Sometimes life gets in the way of beading. I especially regret that now as I'm really starting to get back the flow of ideas that sort of dried up before when I was so overwhelmed by the needs of getting the software out to market.  One project after another leaps out of me, and I've got far too many to try even if I could bead for hours each day.

Our Etsy Beadweavers Team has a monthly challenge, with each entry being a listing in our Etsy stores.  This is my entry for October. The original title was supposed to be "Gifts of the Earth" because of all the semi-precious stones used in it.   The theme of the October challenge is "Inspired by Picasso" so I retitled it and related it to the theme as required.

From October 9 until October 15, you can visit the EBW blog and vote for your favorite entry. Every month there are some amazing entries, you'll be sure to get an eye-full, and find a favorite!

I've also been inspired by the November challenge theme, on Spirals, and have started a project I hope will develop into something worthy of entry.

Meanwhile, I'm learning to bead crochet, and trying to earn a living.

Notice where that last falls on the priority list.