March 21, 2007

Freeform - Lesson learned

A Beader's Meal
Need I say more? I have never attended a beading-related event where we all did not eat very well. A good meal and beads, what more could anyone want?

Facilitating Freeform in Beads

(all samples in the photos are the property of workshop participants)

I just spent a weekend teaching freeform peyote. It taught me one thing ... you do not teach freeform, you facilitate freeform! This technique has no rules and there are no mistakes, just opportunities to grow a piece in a different direction. With those parameters, I have to concede that you cannot teach it, you can only foster the creative spirit in each attendee. Not every beader has the personality to thrive in this atmosphere. It is not the easiest technique to do in a workshop setting.

When I agreed to take on this assignment, I didn't realize that I was fortunate to have a group of relatively new beaders .... they didn't have any pre-conceived notions of what was right and what was wrong. Everyone learned that they could let loose and let the beads tell them where to go next.

We worked on basic techniques and how to handle tension. You don't get pronounced humps 'n bumps if you don't control your tension. One participant got excited when she realized that she was actually "doing peyote!"

I based the workshop around a series of elements which I illustrated and provided samples. This way, when one hit an impasse, they could pick another element and try that next. It seemed to work as everyone used them differently and incorporated them into their own bracelet, with their own colors and variations.

It's always exciting to have someone listen, look and then go off in another direction. Remember I said there were no rules and no mistakes? This regal, long element will ultimately be attached to a dark, matte rectangular base. I like the idea that the flowing piece of beads will be offset onto a structured, angular base. It will most certainly be an "Oh Wow" piece.

Color is such a personal choice and it's hard to work outside of your comfort zone. This sample comes from two participants who sort of said "ug, nasty" to their starter pieces. I've long held that it's not the beads (or colors) but what you do with them. Once the two elements were joined with a bit of added fancy work, everyone admitted that it looked quite different and had merit.

See what you can do when you let loose, let the beads do the talking and creativity take over?

March 20, 2007

Spring in the Desert

After a couple of days in the 90's the desert is showing signs of spring. In this sparse landscape you have to look close, but they are there. The Aloe look dry and dead, but have put put flower stalks that will soon bloom a glorious red/orange. I can't wait for the Oriels to come through and
hang on the blooms, sipping nectar.


Spring bulbs have put out their green leaves and the very tips of the Ocatillo are sporting new flower buds.


The big Nopal Cactus outside of my bead room window is covered with tiny flower buds.


However, local lore says we'll still have a frost. There are two stories around here ... one says the Mesquite trees will not leaf out until after all chances for a frost are past ... and the other is that the last frost will occur after Easter. The Mesquite trees in Tucson & Phoenix all show signs of green leaves this past weekend, but those in my yard are still bare and dead looking.
I love the colors that come when things bloom here in the desert and I'll have to keep an eye out for beading opportunities based on Mother Nature's colors.

March 11, 2007

Creative Chaos

The trip to cold, snowy Chicago must have done me some unrealized good as on my return to 80 degree Arizona weather, creative chaos hit... big time. Both my beading work table and large work area just seemed to erupt into royal messes and ideas have been transformed into completed projects (or parts of projects).

I have a short, but very critical "to do" list.
I need to have handouts, samples and a mindset ready to teach a Free Form Peyote Workshop next weekend in Northern Arizona. I think in the future I'm going to have to say "facilitate" rather than "teach", as a technique that has no mistakes nor any rules really cannot be taught. I've done this once before and had partial success as there are people who have a high need for symmetry. They cannot seem to let the beads flow any which way and just enjoy what happens. Now, how to put that all down on paper and then get the concept across? .... in 4 days ...
Samples, Samples, Graphs & Stringing Tables:

I'm working on my third bead crochet book and it is an arduous two year long process. All of a sudden, last week, several things clicked into place and two sections of ideas for the book finally worked out satisfactorily. So I tested, graphed, wrote and decided on bead sizes, finishes, and colors. Now they can be sent off to the bead fairies to make samples and be sure that all the components work for someone other than myself. Sigh, about half way done and I'd like to see a finished book back from the printer by the end of this year. One of these days I'm going to have to think of something to do with the yards of small sample pieces that reside in baggies and clutter my work areas.

The third critical "to do" is accounting work. Deadly dull and boring, to my way of thinking. Hopefully this creative chaos will help to get me out of my procrastination mode and get the rest of the business data entry done so I can file my 2006 taxes. Somehow, I don't think the IRS would like creative accounting..... and time is getting short ... April 15th seems to arrive faster every year.

March 6, 2007

Chicago...the windy city

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Chicago. A couple of days after I agreed to this visit I sat myself down and bemoaned the too quick "yes"! Not only did I not have a winter coat, I didn't have real shoes either. I survived the change from Arizona's 70 degrees to Chicago's 30 degrees and sharp, biting winds. Oh, but it was great to shed the heavy winter coat coming out of the Tucson airport terminal when I got home.

I found that Chicago is the home to the very first MacDonald's. Now I should have known that as I spent different years in and around the city growing up. I had fun reminiscing with a High School friend here in Arizona about going on double dates in Lake Forest and getting 4 McDonald's hamburgers and one coke with 4 straws. It was as far as allowances would stretch!

Coming around a corner and unexpectedly finding the Morton Salt building once again was a real treat. It's a sight that I remember from my childhood.

I had a fun weekend and realized that my ties to this Midwest city are stronger and longer than I had realized. Kindergarten & 1st grade in Oak Lawn; 4th & 5th grades in Highland Park, the last 3 years of High School at Ferry Hall in Lake Forest.... and many trips to the Loop to shop and then ride home with my Father. I fell in love with Chicago all over again about 8 years ago when my daughter lived there, and this trip just reaffirmed my liking for the city.