February 29, 2012

Breakfast with the Birds . . .

I have a 4 gal. bucket of 4 yr old pecans on the back porch.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the woodpeckers were helping themselves.  However it got to the point that there were no more split/cracked nuts and they took to sitting on the rocker and screeching at me in the studio. Some people have dog or cat bowls and I decided to see if I could entice the Gilas with a bird bowl on the table outside of my window.

Didn't take long for them to figure out that I had cracked a bowl full of pecans for them.  The male would come get half a nut, fly up the the mesquite tree, wedge it into a knothole and eat his nut.

 The females are a lot quieter and don't do as much yelling as the male.

This morning I've been sitting at my computer, drinking coffee and watching a few other birds at my bird bowl. Hey, I'm having breakfast with the birds

The cactus wren is a social bird.  The have a bit to eat and then hop on the window sill, look in, as if to say, "join me?"

I've had a good laugh at the pushy curved bill thrasher.  He sweeps around in the bowl, picks up a nut piece and if it isn't to his liking, drops it over the side of the bowl.  He's gone now and there are nut shells all over the table and porch floor.  Sort of like a two year old and their toys.

I'm not getting much done this morning with the bright sun coming in the window and the big birds coming and going on the table outside.

February 15, 2012

Native Stripes String-Along Progress

Everyone has been working away at their necklaces, a section at a time.  We are now up to section 8 with only 2 more to go.  So far the most popular motif has been the fish above.  I know of at least one fish bracelet that's been done.

 We've been sort of joking about having a second shift in this project.  Some of the participants didn't get started right away, or decided to totally change their colors out. 

Karen's sections 1 through 4 have a look of Viking work to me.  The grays and metallics make a rich, but beautifully subtle piece.

 Peggy has gotten to section 2 with her earthy & bright colors.  Don't they look like a New England Fall?

Melanie has used a unique bead soup, matte and shiny black beads and is up to section #3.

Now we can go back to the progress that the first shift is making. Terri is our speedy beader.  She actually almost keeps ahead of me.  It's nice to know right away how a section is going to play with the rest of the piece.

Here is Terri's necklace, through section #8, laid out as if it were a finished piece.  You can now begin to see what it's going to look like. 

Marty is doing a dark version. Both the light version (above) and this dark version really make the pattern parts show to good advantage.  Hers is also laid out as if it were a finished necklace.

Marlene is using the crayon bright color set and is up to section #6.
As you can see, with no real deadline, people are at all different stages. 

Now, we're not quite sure where Sandi fits in the timeline as she found a mistake, pulled everything out and then decided to change a couple of colors.  She's now finished section #6.  I have to say that the color changes makes for a more vibrant piece, however I would not have undone all of that hard work.

Some of the participants have also admitted to having more than one piece in the works as they kept seeing other neat color combinations.  One person has four necklaces going and jokingly said she's not had much time for other pursuits.

It's still quite a fun project and I love being able to foster such creativity.  Give a group like this some simple patterns and allow them to play with bead colors . . . . oh my, what results.

February 13, 2012

BCPD - Bead Crochet Software

2-17-2012 update: PC based only - no Apple i-anything, however  I've been told that it will work on Windows Virtual Machine on an Intel-based Mac.

It's done... finally done... BCPD
A new version of the bead crochet design software for the PC.  It doesn't have a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but it's elegantly simple and does what it does very well.  Bead Crochet Pattern Designer (BCPD) lets you do patterns up to 89-around and 85 rows.  Well, that's almost a purse, not a plain rope!

I did both the Urban Stripes and the Native Stripes projects with the software.  Of course I had "broken" versions,  "test this" versions. "do you like this" versions and I managed to find every fault and problem there was.  I still managed to design all of the sections for my two projects in spite of the problems along the way. I love not having to hand write a stringing table and being able to see how a pattern meets in the back of a rope.

The program has:
* 14 Bead color palette key, customizable with a color wheel

* 3-around to 89-around
* 2 to 85 row graph
* Rotating zipper graph and rope simulations
* Stringing table with bead counts
* Graph zooms to 5 levels
* You can open, save and print designs
*  HELP/Quick Start information

It will be for sale at Bead-Patterns in the next couple of days.  I just need to tie up some of the small details.

I'm excited that now it'll be easier for people to design their own patterns.

February 12, 2012

Tucson Shows - Final Trip

On Thursday, while having my morning coffee, I decided that I really did need to make one last trip back to Tucson.   I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to do photo research at the African Village.  Where else did I have that much material in one place at one time?

We started at the 22nd Street Show (new last year) as parking was ample and free.  It was just an overpass away from where we were headed.

I was so impressed with the layout, openness and variety of things at the show.  Wow, can you imagine a whole dinosaur skeleton assembled on the show floor?  I couldn't get far enough away from it to take a photo.

If you had $250,000 you could have had this skull, or for a cool $1,300,000 the whole skeleton.  It's beyond huge. 

This is what really caught my eye - stunningly simple, but beautiful.  I could imagine building a whole house around this large panel.  I'd never seen a full sized palm frond fossil before.
I did find Wild Things at this show.  They had moved from the old Rodeway show and had a much better set up. Jamie mans (or is it womans?) the booth at this show and Guy Lynn does the Gem Mall. They had a great selection of vintage Czech beads, buttons and oddments.  If you get a chance, they are the most delightful people with things you don't see elsewhere.  They've always pandered to my bead needs.
Then it was on to African colors and designs at the African Village Show: 

Simple graphics  

Primary colors

 Muted colors

My favorite, mud cloth fabrics.

I took a ton of photos that I'll need to go through when I have some uninterrupted time to myself.

I'll leave you with a shot of another motel lobby - all Mid Century Modern . . . .  before you walked into a room of Native American art and artifacts.  It was like walking from one time capsule to another.

The shows are now all shut down and the vendors are packing up today.
I've heard mixed reviews, both good and so-so.  Still not as much spending as in past years, but not as bad as some feared.  I did see a lot of empty spaces where favorite vendors had been in the past.

February 9, 2012

Tucson 2012 - Fun Day

Wouldn't this fossil make a great bead design? How and what are wide open, but oh, the possibilities.

Last Thursday was a pure fun trip to look at the rocks, fossils & minerals. I always look at the big spheres with longing - cost & size defeat my owning one of them.

Rocks & crystals, in their natural shapes as well as carved and polished for display are everywhere.

At first glance, I thought "pickles and olives" - "condiments"?

No . . . jars of fire agate rough in water so that you can admire the flash in the chips.

I was sitting in one of the courtyards listening to these beautifully sculpted water forms. Along came a couple of garrulous gentlemen who didn't know I was eavesdropping. I can't repeat their conversation, but their take on the form was hilarious and (ahem) fraught with sexual innuendos.

In between the rocks one tends to find bead surprises. This booth of vintage beads, findings and chain was a gem. I looked, touched, petted and in the end had to decide to not purchase anything. It's the vintage colors that I like so much. I asked all of my bead vendors (and then some) for opaque, primary colored beads. "Nope, not popular for several years" or "Nobody uses those colors today". I admire all of the intricate fantasies that many of the bead designers create, however I have a yen to work with matte primary colors, preferable in the vintage colors.

Turn another corner and there on the fence were some great oriental and African items. The tiger rug in wool and silk was a bargain at $225, but still outside of my budget. It would be such a happy piece to have beside my bed.

I've always liked the mud cloth fabrics; both colors and primitive graphic designs. I bought beads earlier in the week in colors that might end up as "African Stripes" patterns. Add these to matte black and a light cream (or white) and it just might be my summer String-Along.

I'm sitting here wondering if I should take one more trip back to Tucson and visit the African Village. If "African Stripes" becomes a reality, then where else would I have a whole show of design inspirations?

February 7, 2012

Tucson 2012 - Day 2

Toho Hybrids in 8/0 & triangles in some different colors.

Last Thursday I managed a quick trip to the Doubletree show as I was after some Toho seed beads. It's not one of my favorite bead shows, so I sort of ran in and out. Sometimes I really wonder about today's customer service. I stopped at John Bead Corp. to ask some questions and came away very much annoyed. It's been ages since I've had a sales person make a snide comment (as if to say, "you can't afford us"), turn his back and walk away from me. Contrast that to York Beads and a delightfully helpful Perry, where I cheerfully purchased a sampling of Twins, spikes and Czech Picasso 10/0's.

Isn't this a great Picasso mix? I added my fair share of them to my stash.

Passing through one of the exterior tents, I was struck by how cheery the sun looked coming through all of that glass


I spent the rest of my time at the Best Bead Show. I guess I was just too busy visiting to snap any photos. Once a year I get to catch up with distant friends in the bead world.

This is one of the tents at the Best Bead Show for all of you who have never seen what Tucson can be . . . multiple this by 100+ and you can understand what a sensory overload it can be.

I have a small bead budget this year as I really don't need anything. I went more to see what was happening and what was new and different. Sorry to say, "not much". At least the overwhelming sense of garishly colored, dyed beads seemed at a minimum this trip.