December 27, 2008

White Christmas - a day late!

The Christmas cake turned out spectacular this year. I love the crisp, detailed bundt mold I found last year. Christmas day was spent out in the Ghost Town of Gleeson AZ with my Sister. She now owns the old 1800's jail and is restoring it. My G'kids think that is cool - a Great Aunt that owns a jail!

Brrrr ... Yesterday afternoon it got dark and then we got sleet, snow and frigid temps. It's a bit early for our area of Arizona to have 25 degree weather with the white stuff. The nice thing is that the sun is out and it's already starting to go away. So we almost had a White Christmas.

It's a bit late to post trip photos, but I did want to share this find from the Windmill Museum in Lubbock Texas.

I found it fascinating that the birds could even work with the stiff pieces of wire plus barbed wire.

Enjoy what's left of 2008.
Did you know it'll be leap second year?

December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings

It's taken 2 weeks for the quail to figure out that I'm back and they can get water and a meal in my side yard. I counted 18 in the herd this afternoon and enjoyed watching their antics.

I've been in touch with friends and family in New Hampshire and followed the news about ice and snow. Seems they are well on their way to setting, or at least matching weather records. I feel fortunate to have escaped NH's wintry weather and am still wearing my flip-flops.

Tombstone has been chilly, but not downright cold! The house has been mostly put back together and project plans for the winter formulated. I've not gotten any any beading done, but have been working on mental beading with my programmer partner. Since he has learned to bead crochet, he's made me see things about the technique that I never thought to know.

The pies and Christmas cake are made, the roast beast is in the fridge and all is ready to go out to my Sister's place in Gleeson tomorrow to share the holiday meal. Only in my family would there be plans to spend part of the day admiring an 1880's jail restoration project and climbing around a sheet metal junkyard.

I'd like to take this time to wish all of you
The very best for this
Holiday Season
a great New Year

December 13, 2008

in Arizona

Arrived in AZ and sure am enjoying the sunshine and weather. Especially seeing what I'm missing in NH. See what Jen has to say about the ice! Now to set the studio back up and stock the pantry. Trip photos when I get my desktop up and running and can go through what we took on the trip.

Here is a mystery. I bought 8 of these in a junk store and have no clue as to what they might be. They are brass stampings with porcelain-center knobs. One end is marked "JUDD - Pat." the other "March 1889" Thinking ... some sort of drapery hardware? Don't know what I'll do with them, but they are just mighty interesting. Does anyone have any idea of what they are?

December 8, 2008

Trip West Report

It's been a slow trip so far. Life conspired to not let us out of NH in a timely manner, then we had a few trailer glitches. While driving the back roads of Texas, I saw this sign and just had to turn around to take a picture of it. It was one of those , "say what?" Another, smaller sign said they were buying catalytic converters - I can only surmise that was what they meant by cats! Sure made us stop, look and turn back for a photo.

Better than half way to Tombstone. Home soon.

November 30, 2008

Bead Crochet Ropes - DVD

You can now easily find the DVD for sale at abba dabba Productions. I will eventually have it for sale on my web site, but only after I get myself (and my beads) to Arizona and somewhat organized. Hopefully that will be around December 15th.

The most amazing thing, in my mind, is that my programmer friend in Arizona has taught himself to bead crochet from the video in about a week's time. This is a man who had never beaded or crocheted before. He has had to ask me a million questions about beads and bead crocheting while working on the Bead Crochet Element Designer software. He finally found success by using large wood beads and nylon cord. He called today to announce that he is now down to size 8/0 beads and is excited that he got it to work with "those small beads"! I won't say that it will work for everyone, but with a testimonial like that from a sixty year old, motorcycle, computer guy, maybe you should give it a try - it's a classroom on your computer or TV.

Of course it's snowing and there is freezing rain promised for tomorrow morning .... I'm suposed to be on the road for Arizona then. Catch you all later.

November 26, 2008

a NH ending

It's Time ... shut things down in New Hampshire, pack the car and head for Arizona.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving and an early Christmas with my Son's family. My Granddaughter and I had fun this afternoon making pies. It's already snowed and we've had a week of temperatures in the teens and twenties. My friends in AZ tell me it's been enjoyable 70 degree weather out there. Friday I'll clean off the work tables and get all the beads packed away and ready for their journey west.
If all goes well, we should be on the road Sunday morning. Maybe I'll have time and inclination to post while traveling. If not, look for a post on the trip later in December.
the photo... well, I just got a new camera and had to try it out. The detail is fantastic of a box of finished bead items and broken vintage beads that is sitting on my work table.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving
and think of the small things each of us/you has to be thankful for.

November 22, 2008

It's a Good Day

I just got notified that the first copies of my instructional DVD, "Bead Crochet Ropes" are in the mail to me. It's been a long wait, but it's finally published. Although I'm not too happy with the way I look, after all I have to realize that I'm not 20 anymore and will see 65 next year. My wrinkles are well earned! I'm pleased with the results and think it will be one more step in helping people learn the sometimes frustrating craft of tubular, slip-stitch bead crochet. The DVD's are available to purchase through the production company, Abba Dabba. Although they are not up on their web site yet, if you are interested, an email or phone call to them will work. They have an 800 phone number. Cost is $34.95 + shipping.

On the software front, I've finally gotten a couple of design elements up at Bead-Patterns. As these are for downloading and then importing into the Bead Crochet Element Designer, it's taken some time and work to figure out how to handle them. You don't get a pdf nor do you get something you can print out, you get a *.bce file that you have to save to your BCED folder and then open in the program.

There is a free design element, Boxed, to try things out and see just how it works and the Double V's you see here, for sale. If you try this out, let me know how your experience was. If I get good feedback, I will work on getting some design libraries up.

After weeks of frustrating, non-progress, in everything on my work table (or computer) things have jumped ahead overnight. Now if the weather would just quit being so cold, I'd be totally happy. It's 21 degrees, windy and snow flurries predicted!

November 16, 2008

Studio Play Time

Some how I got sidetracked this afternoon ..... I was seeing what was on the Internet for bead crochet "how-to's" and ran across a couple of videos on how to do Viking chain knit. That's something that has intrigued me for awhile. I've had this 40# spool of wire under my beading table for about 18 months, thinking it would work great to practice Viking knitting with wire.

See where this is going?

Yes, I then spent a couple of enjoying (frustrated) hours playing with wire. The big spool wire is a stainless alloy and tended to work harden very quickly. I couldn't manage to get the hang of weaving with it so I grabbed a spool of much softer, coated magnet wire that I use for twisted wire earrings. Hallelujah, it was just what I needed and soon had a rhythm going of lopping and pulling through. I still like the idea of the stainless alloy wire for this technique and the next spare moment I have will try that again. I really like the look of the chain after it is reduced through a draw plate. I don't think my first attempt is all that terrible and may use it in something.

I think this will be a very effective bead crochet pattern if I can ever get the danged thing strung right. I've taken out the strung bead sequence 4 times now. It doesn't help that it is 39 rows long and I was watching NASCAR races while trying to read, count and pick up beads. Maybe I need to try doing just one thing at a time when it's a long stringing table.

I spent the other day playing with a very rough version of the next iteration of bead crochet design software and came up with 6 rather neat patterns. Now I just have to get them strung (correctly!) and worked up. I guess I'd better do it at my work table without the TV going!

Bead Crochet Tip:
If you want to set up a travel bracelet project and don't want a big 'ol spool in your kit, then use a floss bobbin and wind 10 yards of thread onto it. That's what you see in the photo and you can find them in the embroidery section of craft and sewing stores. Ten yards is an ample supply of thread for at least a 9" bracelet and enough extra to handle any errors you might have to cut out. It makes for a very compact on-the-go bead crochet kit.

November 8, 2008

New Kitchen Toy - Part #2

It's a gray, damp, miserable day here today. I finally got the time to try making crackers on my new-old kitchen toy. What a difference .... 2 hours and I had nice crisp, thin chive flavored snack crackers. Rolling the dough the pasta machine made making crackers such a breeze that I may never buy another box of saltines. A real plus is that I know exactly what's in these: flour, yeast, olive oil, salt, water & dried chives.

I found Hodgson Mill Pasta Flour the other day and it will serve for both pasta and crackers. Now I'm wondering what would happen if I cheese flavored the dough, ran it through the angel
hair setting on the machine and baked the results.... Would I get
snack noodles?

The recipe called for a total of 3 cups of flour and this is how many crackers I got. I'm thrilled with the results and it was fun to do.

errand finds

Friday was errand day in the big city. I stopped into JoAnn's for two things; fray check and cotton crochet thread. I should have known better as I had to take a look at buttons and cruise their bead aisle.

I found these wonderful packs of matte square plastic buttons in great happy colors. I'm thinking that they would make another light weight finger woven bracelet. What a neat contrast of the suppleness of the technique and the graphic squareness of the buttons. Adding a small chain of beads between the holes on the top would add just that hint of a sparkle to the whole bracelet. Yep, 4 packets went into my basket!

The button aisle yielded a few that will work as a toggle style closure for any beaded bracelet. These are nicely made metal buttons and have a bit of style to them.

As I was walking out I spotted a clearance rack of Blue Moon items at the end of the bead aisle. I'm not really a chain person, but have been admiring Steam Punk creations. Nicely antiqued gray metal chain for $1.99/45 inches was a great bargain. "Four, they only have four packets.... well I guess that will have to do as I'm really not sure just what I'll do with it."

I have a Friend who has decided to de-clutter and possibly lean towards minimalist living. She now only buys exactly what she needs for a single project. Her husband mentioned to me that he and the cats were beginning to worry about having anything to sit on.
Funny thing is ... if I thought up a project and only bought what I needed .... the project would never get done and I'd miss 90% of my best creative ideas. When I go shopping I can never find exactly what I'm seeing in my head (unless its Kleenex). Days, even months go by until the right component shows up for a partially finished project. A good example is my red tiger eye necklace. My best work happens serendipitously when beads and components end up on my work table and scream at me ..."we belong together!"
So, the crochet cotton, Fray Check and my other finds all went into my basket and will now be sorted into my supply boxes. The chain is creatively flung onto my work table as I think it may become a necklace right quick. I have a baggie of other project remains as well as broken bits of antique jewelry that just might become an asymmetrical Steam Punkish necklace.
Do you let your supplies tell you what they want to become? Or, do you start with an idea and then find or purchase what you need?

November 5, 2008

Back to real life

Maybe the phones will be quiet and I can go back to a regular routine. Here in New Hampshire we get more than our share of politics and it starts way earlier than the rest of the country. I finally let the answering machine pick up the last two days as I got tired of saying, "Yes, I'm going to vote (voted) and no, I don't want to discuss it." I watched the results until I fell asleep on the couch. Somehow it isn't as much fun as I remember when a kid and we got to stay up late to watch the results and the numbers change.

November 2, 2008

Late Haloween Project

I guess this comes under the heading of, PLAN AHEAD!

..... for next Halloween, that is.

or... better late than never...

I had wanted to get this up before Halloween, but somehow life threw me a couple of curves as well as a phlegmy head cold. I got these beautiful matte orange lentils from Bead Cats a couple of years ago and they just screamed Halloween to me. By the way, Bead Cats has long been my source for lentils as they seem to have the widest choice of colors of any one out there.

The Flat Caterpillar bracelet is one of my favorite bead crochet techniques because of the supple feel to them. This one has been a particular favorite because of the color contrast and always seems to draw the notice of other people.


To celebrate the season ...

...late for 2008 and early for 2009,

here is a free Bead Crochet
pattern for you to try.

It's in a JPEG format, which makes it a wee bit fuzzy when printed. Just click on the photo for a full size version, then right click and select print.

I used a vintage, orange Bakelite button for the clasp, however any button would work. How about one of the candy corn buttons I've seen this year in the stores?

October 27, 2008

New Kitchen Toy

When I'm cold, I bake - just ask my kids.... When I'm depressed or upset, I cook - anything, something. I've been wanting to try home made crackers forever and a week ago decided it was time to finally do it and take my frustrations out on the dough. Besides the weather was getting quite chill. After all of the rolling and very tired arm muscles, I decided to surf eBay for a pasta maker to do the rolling for me. I like kitchen gadgets, but not of the electrical persuasion. My West German, vintage pasta maker came in today. What a find as I don't think it had ever been used more than once - all nice painted cast iron with fine brass rollers. I couldn't wait to try it out, so a little cleaning and I put it to use with a pasta dough. We had fresh noodles with a bit of butter and garlic for dinner tonight. You can't beat fresh pasta as it's so different from the dried commercial kind. I'll leave the machine up and tomorrow try another variation of the crackers I made last week ... black bean flour mixed with the wheat flour and a few herbs thrown in. No tired muscles from trying to get the dough as thin as possible. I have just the right, very sharp Cheddar to go with those crackers!

October 26, 2008

House Cleaning - Webs & Such

Funny how things that you think are set in stone suddenly become quicksand! Right now I'm totally frustrated. I have had a small local NH company handling orders and shipping my Bead Crochet Books. They have done a great job and also stored all of the inventory for me. The end of September they told me that they were going out of business and could no longer handle my books. Right now I have cases of books clogging the floor of my studio and I'm going to have to figure out just how many should go with me to AZ. I have such small volume that no one else wanted the job and I guess I'm going to have to do it. One more thing to have to pack into the Element. Guess I'd better start calculating weight load for this trip West.

So.... I needed to completely change my web page and re-configure all of the Shopping Cart Buttons. One thing led to another and I also decided that I needed to completely update my web page. Old software from 1998 didn't do the job any more..... New software that I'm evaluating, does things so differently that I'm having trouble getting things to do what I envision things to be.... My short term solution was to buy an updated HTML for Dummies and go back to hand coding pages. Somewhere in the last 10 years my brain seems to have lost the knowledge I had of what code did what things. I did decide to offer a limited number of the Bead Crochet Element Designer Software for sale through my web site. Once I figured out the other changes, this one was easy.

OK, as long as I'm whining, I guess I'd better add in the other thing that is causing me planning problems: buying a house. I've had an offer in on a pre-foreclosure home for 7 weeks now - nothing, nada, niet... Bank won't give me a clue as to what they are going to do, or doing, thinking of doing, or even when they might have an answer. I certainly don't want to be in NH when the snow starts to come down, besides it's difficult to work on a structure when it's sleeting outside.

As to beading - it's been very low on the "To Do" list. It's hard to get excited about anything creative when your mind is roiling with other what if things. I have been slowly working on another finger woven bracelet with light weight wooden propellers. I think I'm doing a series of bracelets that have light weight in common. This will make the 3rd one that does not use glass beads as the main elements. At least they are light hearted, fun and cheerful to make up.

October 20, 2008

This One was Fun

Robin Atkins introduced me to finger weaving and it's become a favorite technique to use up left over beads and treasures.

This bracelet has been sitting beside the side of the couch, waiting for the finishing touches - the beaded knots that hold the button on. I finally got them done tonight. I used the start of the bracelet as an example for a workshop and then had fun playing with different elements to see how they might work up. Elegant jewelery it isn't but .... it was fun to make and see what happened. The colored safety pins are an example of using whatever has a hole in it. The wooden propellers are something I picked up in Feb. with the idea that they would work well in a finger woven bracelet - I was right! The button closure really isn't a button, but a wooden earring piece that I drilled two off set holes in. It works nicely as the bulk of the button sits nicely on top of the loop and doesn't leave a huge bare area. Now I'm going to try a bracelet with a mixture of purple and lime green wood propellers.

I noticed a problem the other day and am uncertain what to do about it. I picked up two of my freeform peyote bracelets to photograph as headers for a re-vamped web site and both of them had broken edge threads. One is 3 years old and the other is 2 years old and have (maybe) 6-8 hours of wear each. I've used size "D" C-Lon or Nymo, nylon beading thread. Yes, I can repair them, but if they had been sold, I'm sure their owners would have been upset. Is it my tension - is it the threads - is it chipped beads - or something else? I cull my beads as I work ,but I do tend to have extra tight tension. Anyone have any ideas of what might be happening?

The green and white ones have broken edge threads.
The black and amber bracelet, which is about 6 years old and made with Nymo is just fine despite many more hours of wearing.

October 2, 2008

Dark and Stormy Night.

October's Art Bead Scene monthly challenge is a piece that embodies a
Dark and Stormy Night

This bead crocheted choker embodies the sense of a gray, stormy day, dark piles of wet fallen leaves on the ground and a hint of the low horizon Harvest Moon. I can see the moon's surface features in the stone.

I crocheted the the side pieces of this choker with 6mm red tigereye roundels and had it sitting around for the better part of a year, looking for the perfect center bead. It didn't become just a plain choker because I was short red tigereye to make it fit around my neck. That's when I ran across the "mine shaft basalt" bead at Gary's booth and it was the most perfect fit.

Every year at the Tucson Gem shows, I always visit Gary Wilson's booth to see what he has that is new. In the past, he has had beads and cabs made from "Ball canning jars", 1930's Jadeite tableware shards, "Fordite" (vintage factory layers of Ford automotive paint), and vintage pool hall balls. Then there are the minerals or rocks. If you want something that does not fall into the usual ho-hum category, then his pieces are well worth your while.

September 28, 2008

Finally got it done!

It's a gloomy, rainy day in New Hampshire and I'm sort of between projects. So, I bit the bullet and spent the afternoon changing my blog over to Blogger's new Templates. With lots of trial and errors, I've got it organized and sort of looking like I want it to be. Learning what they call things and getting them to work right has left my brain tired, but I guess it's things like this that keep me young.

Fall colors are really starting to show around the countryside. Here are some Mums that I saw last weekend when we went to watch Yankee Siege (a Trebuchet) fling pumpkins.

confessions of a glass bead snob

Once upon a time, I would only consider glass or gemstone beads for my work. Sometime late last year my opinion changed. Maybe its the weight of pieces or maybe it's the selection of beads in fantastic yummy colors, but I find I've changed my mind and now will consider a wider range of materials in my stash of beads.

The first material that I found was vintage Lucite - it sure isn't your kid's plastic beads! The detail is amazing. Combine that with a translucent quality in some of the items, add great subtle coloring and you have a medium that I fell in love with. I've been buying old earrings and necklaces for some of my stock and the rest comes from Beadin' Path up in Maine. I could spend hours (& $$'s) in that store.

The first lightweight piece I did was a finger woven bracelet with Lucite flowers and leaves. I paired the flowers with 6mm faceted roundels in semi-precious stones (citrine, amethyst, tourmaline, quartz, blue topaz) and topped them with red Delicas. This bracelet weighs less than an ounce compared to five ounces in the last one I did with glass beads. I actually think it's more striking than the full glass bead bracelets. It's easy on the wrist and gets noticed when I wear it.

When I was at the Tucson shows this February I grabbed a bunch of brightly dyed wood beads - not having a clue as to what I was going to use them for. I just liked the shapes and colors and the very low price. Seems like a lot of beads just follow me home that way. Some of the the wooden beads have now found a home in my current finger woven bracelet project.

This is sort of an, "I wonder what would happen if....?" bracelet. I had a packet of colored safety pins lying around - looked at the holes at one end and had to try them in a bracelet. I added some purple Lucite rings and liked the eclectic, wire look. Next, I added a bunch of the small purple propeller-like wood beads and ...WOW! I never imagined they'd sit up like that and nestle together so nicely. OK, I'll finish the safety pin bracelet, but I can't wait to try a whole piece with the propeller wood beads. See the aqua sticks at the top of my wood bead collection? That's another, "I wonder what would happen if....? idea for a funky bracelet.

I'm having fun exploring finger weaving with lightweight materials. It all seems to fit together and works well. I guess I've come to the realization that it's not the materials, but what you do with them that is important. Glass and gemstone beads are still 90% of my collection, but I've now made room for other materials.

September 6, 2008

Indiana Barns

We took a trip earlier this Summer from NH to a family reunion in Illinois. I fell in love with some of the seed signs along the side of the road. They have great graphics in bold, bright colors. I'd love to have a couple to hang on my studio walls.

While driving, I started noticing the doors on Indiana barns... Most of them had the door trim painted on them in an arch pattern. Indiana had red barns and Ohio had white barns. Wonder what local customs dictates the color of barns?

Some were realistic and others were just sort of a scalloped top edge.

A nicely done fresh coat of paint.

Even the little doors had painted arch trim.

This gem of an octagonal barn was just sitting in a field all by itself. What beautiful details.

September 5, 2008

House Hunting

I've been house hunting for larger summer quarters. Haven't found what I want, but I've run across a few places that I could have lived in. We're looking for a rural loft for 2 small businesses with smallish living quarters attached.

Anaconda MT has a 1920's building that was a drugstore and then a theater in the 40's. Loads of original interior things are still there. The price was right, but too far away from NH.

I like to travel, but there just wasn't enough space in this caboose converted to an efficiency apartment. The price included a rail move once a year.

This old firehouse just north of me in NH had great possibilities. It had the right open span space on the lower floor and a great apartment above. The drawback was that the building sat on a lot that was just 3' larger than the building... no septic system or well. I could deal with a chemical toilet, but finding a shower elsewhere was a real problem.

We drove by this old school building in Erie PA and had to stop and take another look. Sigh, again it wasn't in the right state. Wouldn't it make a great studio and home?

There are a lot of loft-type places out there, but the big problem is that they all seem to be in cities. I'm needing something in the country, or at least where I can look out at green growing things rather than buildings. Meanwhile, I thought some of you might enjoy some of the more intresting places that I've run across.

August 25, 2008

3 necklaces

I've finally finished the last of the three necklaces that I was crocheting for my personal use.

Now I'm all set to go with either one,

or two

or all three - in a nice bulky bundle...

Funny how photos come out... same location, same camera, taken seconds apart and different color hues. The first one is probably the closest to real life colors.