Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reflecting From Whence I Came Or Why I Design Jewelry

Designing jewelry started as a reaction, a creative response, to ten years of losing what I considered to be my strongest talents and greatest loves: playing classical piano and writing what I coin, “whimsical observational commentary.”

Having lived that archetype of the funky cum zany high school English teacher, suffering a massive stroke in my twenties and losing my left side to paralysis was not something I signed up for. I mean…really…who chooses to personify that graphic of the evolution of man we are all familiar with- you know, where you see the chimp hunched over, gradually walking from four limbs to a semi erect posture and then on to the now celebrated anatomically modern man. Well, I regressed from biped, to wheelchair schlep, to terrified four-pronged cane-walker, on to petrified straight-cane-walker, finally to confident, “watch-out-here-I-come”…and-on-two-legs-limp-free-self once again. Spontaneous recovery for the fine tuning was a hope, but after ten years of inhabiting a body my brain wasn’t fully utilizing, I gradually grew open to accepting that I would not regain full fine motor coordination in my left hand, and doesn’t that bite?

I needed an outlet. I was too impatient for one-handed typing. Practicing piano so that on a good day I might play like I did when I was a 5 year old was too depressing. I needed a means to integrate using my left hand. But what? Lady Depression brought me to what some deem the best kind of therapy, and I do mean the retail kind. So I found myself in Michael’s, figuring I’d buy some wool and maybe take some knitting classes, but I dunno, it didn’t feel right. Neither the notion of classes nor knitting sweaters inspired me. Who would I knit for? Myself? Hmm, before me reeled a series of high school Home Ec projects, the chocolate chip cookies for which I used salt instead of sugar [my bad?], the Camp Beverly Hills sweatshirt for whose crooked pocket seam was an insult to those things that are crooked, the polished cotton pillows whose stitches puckered like shots of stomach acid.

Wait a minute!

I don’t even like knits; I hail from the “tailored school.” No, I would not knit for myself. But what am I doing in Michael’s then? Bewildered, disappointed, and confused, I chose a shortcut down the nearest aisle to exit the store when incidentally, I discovered the beading department. The neurons finally synched. Now this I can do. A hobby borne of necessity, a pastime evolved into habit, a passion to be fed…the conception of Bead Your Habit.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Teal, Pink, Purple and Leather? Why Not!

Pinks, Purples and Teals?

When the Singing Bee was on TV, I had a good time calling the host Joey Fat One. I knew his name was Fatone, but calling him Fat One makes me giddy and laugh like a high schooler. As I near my forties, I am still silly.

While I had fun playing with the compound “ fatone,” I wasn’t sure how to feel about the 2009 Fall Color Report as presented by Pantone or as I like to call them: Pant One. But because I don't design just for myself, I went on a shopping frenzy choosing faceted crystal and resin beads for the Fall months, guided by my Pantone Fall palette. Autumn - it's my favorite season. While I was choosing these new electric hues, I was thinking, "Where are my Earth tones: greens, burnt oranges, dirty yellows?" Mmm, colors that would make me want to roll in dirt and get crunchy leaf bits caught in my hair.

But the 2009 Fall colors are not the earth tones I love. How could this be, oh Pant One? Is it because I pick on your name? Pink. Purple. Teal. Really? These are the colors of Orlando rental cars, not my beloved autumnal hues. These are not my comfort colors, Pant One. Unlike a nice bowl of mashed potatoes, which I know will be delish, I’m not sure if I can fill up on these blues and pinks, so I went hunting for something new, yet familiar– a new something I’ve never worked with before. As if drawn by some magnetic field, I entered the closet. A buttery soft Anne Klein black leather summer flat with a hole in the right shoe. Like a falling pine cone from its tree, this shoe literally fell on my head. I opened the seams, deconstructed the pieces, and was surprised by the amount of usable leather. I fashioned a nice smooth cuff for my new pink, purple, and teal bead clusters. I like it. And I can like these Fall colors. You’re all right, Pantone. In case you are wondering, these gorgeous bead clusters were made from metal "catapillar"(spelling error intended) components from Midwest Beads. A while back it was rumored they were not going to carry them anymore and I shuddered, but they are still in their catalog and they are awesome as ever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I use a hot head torch for all of my lampworking. Some call it a “beginner’s torch” and when at the Arrow Springs booth at the Milwaukee 2009 Bead and Button Show, two workers said, “You should get rid of that torch,” but I think anyone who says to get rid of something without knowing a person’s skill level or finances is an ignoramus. Sorry Arrow Springs. Right now the hothead serves my needs, and I make very beautiful beads with it. There are many talented artists who belong to the same lampworking forum as me and many are super satisfied with their HH and have no plans to switch to a dual flame set –up. I understand its advantages, but not until I get so successful where I’m able to afford lots of Double Helix, and an oxygen concentrator will I consider switching.

Well, I made no beads today because I am out of gas, and this is driving me nuts! I called the design center last week to order a 20 lb tank which was supposed to be ready for pickup today, but due to a death in the owner’s family, the tank won’t be available until tomorrow. While I’m bummed, I feel bad for her loss which is of course greater. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have goodies to share.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Welcome Rosy

We certainly did not need another one, but our household of 4 has E X P A N D E D. Scott and I are now the proud mama and papa of Rosy, a 6 month old Redbone Coonhound. We adopted her from Hope 4 Paws, which is an organization that travels to area kill shelters and takes dogs out, fosters them, and travels to surrounding areas in hopes of finding them permanent placements. Rosy's shelter found her as a stray living under a shed. How sad. We are pleased to offer our FURever home to Rosy. She is SOO SWEET! I must make her a beaded harness!


Hope 4 Paws Rescue saves as many dogs as we have room for in our foster home program. We specialize in 100% pure bred MUTTS! We are foster based only so that we may socialize each dog, learn the personality of each dog and know EXACTLY what the adopter is getting before they go to their forever home! We hope to find new and better lives for the unwanted dogs out there. There are too many lost souls who deserve a second chance. We will reach as many as we can to give them their chance at a new, FURever home. Save a Life - ADOPT!

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's your poison?

Pick a patina!

Avoid the brown acid.

I did another copper etching, but while clich├ęs are often disappointing, in this case they fit: practice makes perfect, and I spread myself too thin. So I decided to start something else while the copper sat in its lovely lil acid jar, but I got super sidetracked and let it sit acid bathing for three hours (WAY too long… unless you’re trying to dissolve a human being) and my lovely lil copper treasures partially disintegrated! Serves me right.

But I do recommend this: try using cutouts of contact paper as the resist instead of ink; it gives much crisper lines. I printed out a flower template and traced the contact paper over it, then cut out my new flower decal and had some corners not dissolved from my own lack of supervision, there was a lot of promise there.

I learned through trial and error that steel does NOT etch, it flips the bird to liver of sulfur, and IS darkened by Novacan Black Patina. Novacan is serious stuff. It seems more dangerous to handle than the acid etchant. With Novacan (and pcb etchant too) do not forego the mask and gloves. Safety is key. Don’t inhale it either. If you’re clumsy, wear safety glasses. Then again, if you’re clumsy, I recommend not using any chemicals and choosing the store-bought-finished-product route. So the black patina is this light blue thin solution. It darkened the steel, but it was ugly. I used a brass brush on it but then it turned shiny gunmetal, not a fan. Live and learn…

My copper bird find from Metalliferous; I love him. Why didn’t I know about that store when I LIVED IN NEW YORK? Like Oedipus, the gods were against me. But at least I didn’t sleep with my mother. Now THAT would be awkward and logistically complicated. Back to the bird, I used a swirly punch on contact paper and the etching came out quite nice. I used a color wheel to guide my palette, and the wood beads complement the copper and clay tones nicely. I added the cage (from Ornamentea) so he could safely relocate his babies (tumbled rhyolite). Lots of natural elements included, and I love that. I ordered some stone connectors from Etsy studio, Stones Studios Too, and my drilled stones should be arriving this week, and ooh the excitement!