29 June 2010

What Can You Do with a Humble-bead?

"Because our gifts carry us out into the world and make us participants in life, the uncovering of them is one of the most important tasks confronting any one of us." ~Elizabeth O'Connor

Oh, how I love a challenge!

And when the challenge includes some beads from one of my very favorite designers in this whole wide world, how can you go wrong?
And I think that by accepting challenges we find our talents are uncovered particularly when we are forced outside of our comfort zones.

Heather Powers of Humblebeads asked me to participate in a new Design Team Challenge on the popular Art Bead Scene blog. She sent some of her brand-spankin' new hand painted Autumn Wildflowers Pendants {have seen these labor-intensive babies in person and they are GOR-geous!} as well as some of her disk beads in coordinating colors. These are not really outside of my comfort zone, but this challenge helped me to explore new things nonetheless.

From that little goodie package I managed to come up with four designs.

By the Wayside

I was inspired by this focal that reminded me of some of the grasses blowing in the breeze in the ditches and culverts along the back country roads in Wisconsin. The colors are soft, and the flowers are so dainty. I paired that with some chain, recycled sari silk ribbon in a sage-y green color, a vintage scroll bead from Yone Beads in San Francisco and some pressed glass leaves that I picked up last summer on my jaunt to Galena, IL to visit the Vintaj girls.

Out on a Limb

...that is where the fruit is!
These branch beads in tones of gray and copper are so beautiful that they deserve to be center stage. I picked up a package of those new Industrial Chic connectors from Susan Lenart Kazmer's line exclusive to Michaels and thought they looked like a modified branch. {If you haven't seen these components you must be living under a rock, or else you don't have a Michaels nearby. So sad! See if you can find them! They are great!} So I wire-wrapped a little copper leaf connector and added some bead caps and Swarovski crystals.
The first is Out On A Limb - Rust {which is currently highlighted in the Reader Challenge on the Objects and Elements blog - go see all the great entries!} and the other is

Out On A Limb - Frost
{I actually painted some silver on the leaf to make it blend more with the frosty tones}

Frost on the Blooms

And finally, there was a lovely pair of blue branch beads that were just begging to be earrings. These branches against a bright blue sky reminded me of the limbs of the trees by the Wisconsin River in the winter, starkly outlined against the sky. And "Frost on the Blooms" was born.

But the real magic is in seeing what all the talent produced with the same components. Go to the Art Bead Scene website to read about all of these amazing artists and their creations.

Enjoy the day!

26 June 2010

Mad Tea Party::Like Alice

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Such nonsense from Lewis Carroll.

Or is it?

Have you seen the recent Tim Burton rendition of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland? I saw it in the theater, but recently bought the DVD.
Up until now I have never felt that poem made much sense {obviously}, but I can see it clearly now, thanks to Tim Burton. I am so glad that I saw the movie in the theater with my friend. It seems that we both shared so much in common with young Alice {albeit for different reasons}.

I wonder if you share things in common with Alice, too?

Tim Burton fills his world with color and wonder and deep dark demons. The characters that populate his imagination are rich and filled with poetic reckoning, but also with a curiouser and curiouser stature.

As pure entertainment, it ranks right up there as a most visually stunning feast, or tea party, if you will. I found the sets, the costuming, the make-up and the fantasy world all winners. I enjoyed Johnny Depp's delightfully quirky performance as the Mad Hatter {seriously, who else could play that role?}, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen {she reads pathetically fearful at the same time}, Crispin Glover is perfect as the creepy Knave of Hearts {with a twisted penchant for big things}, and all the animated characters who truly came alive from what I had wished every other version had looked like.

I have read some reviews which labeled Mia Wasikowska ineffectual as Alice, because she was so naive and stiff at every turn. I happened to like her portrayal because she wasn't the sentimental wide-eyed child that we have come to know from any of the other Alice renditions {like the animated Disney classic, which is much too saccharine}. I think that it was important for her to be on the verge of becoming an adult, with her eyes wide open and her inability to see this 'Underland' as anything but a dream. Children naturally accept the Wonderland. This Alice has lost the ability to delve into her unconscious dreams, as she stared into the precipice of what her adult life would hold. I found that more believable, not less.

This quest that Alice embarked upon started with a day that should be something celebrated, but was rather dreaded. A day in which the culmination of a life of pleasing others came to an abrupt halt. When Alice took a moment to follow the White Rabbit, she took back her life.
After tumbling down the rabbit hole, Alice encounters a world at once strange and familiar. She is told that she is most certainly not the real Alice, although she swears she knows who she is. But who is she really? Or rather, what is she becoming?

Absalom, the huffing cerulean caterpillar {voiced masterfully by Alan Rickman}, mysteriously pronounces the grown-up girl as 'hardly Alice.' Indignantly, she insists that she is exactly who she says she is, but she is not the Alice they want her to be. And thus ensues her quest to find the true Alice.

I think that I am quite like Alice.
What about you?
Like Alice, I may be too often pulled in a direction that I don't want to go, as the Tweedles do to her.

Like Alice, I am told what I must do certain things and am expected to be happy with what I get, as her sister Margaret tells her.

Like Alice, I feel constricted by the ideals that society puts on me, as if wearing a codfish on my head would make any more sense.

And like Alice, there is a 'Wonderland' inside of me, w
aiting to be re-discovered.

There is also a Jabberwocky to slay in each of us.
Has thou done battle with your Jabberwock?

My Jabberwocky may be different than yours...my Jabberwock rears it's ugly head in thoughts that I am not good enough that routinely throw me off track...self-sabotage that I heap on myself preventing me from fulfilling my potential...doubt of my worth that creeps in on Cheshire cat feet before vanishing in a pouf of regret at what I haven't done, what I have failed at.

As the White Queen says, it must be your choice to slay the Jabberwock and when you go you will go alone. Just knowing that you have the entire White army behind you and your own cast of wacky 'Wonderland' characters, including a Mad Hatter in your corner ready to take up a sword and fight beside you, should give you the courage you need.

"From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole, I've been told what I must do and who I must be. This is MY path. I'll decide where it goes from here."

When Alice reaches this turning point she sets her feet pointing firmly toward her goals. And once her Vorpal sword slays her Jabberwock {we are told that the Vorpal sword knows what to do, as long as it is held steady}, she is given a choice: stay in 'Wonderland' or go back to the reality that awaits.

I am glad that Alice went back...and that she believed enough in herself to see that she had choices. She succeeded in challenging the dragons that were clearly ambushing her at the top of the rabbit hole because she knew that she would always have the 'Wonderland' inside of her. And that gave her the courage to dare to dream of a different life.

In the end, Absalom begins his own transformation, and proclaims that Alice has indeed found herself. She has become more complete now that she has vanquished her Jabberwock with a snicker-snack. She has regained her 'muchness' {muchness, n.
physical magnitude or largeness}. She is about to become all that she can be. She is spreading her wings to fly.
I will take a cue from Alice and fight the battles that need to be won, with resourcefulness and confidence on the way to celebrating my muchness and vanquishing the impossible.

"This is impossible," laments Alice.
"Only if you believe it,"
replies The Hatter.

Were you inspired by this rendition of Alice in Wonderland?
In what ways are you like Alice?
Do you recall a turning point where you lost the ability to see your Wonderland? Have you ever lost your 'muchness'?
Have you come upon a turning point where you regained your Wonderland?
What is your inner Jabberwocky to slay?
Do you have an impossible dream?
Who is your Mad Hatter, the one who believes in you, sees your true self and spurs you on?

Do tell!

Thank you so much for stopping by my Mad Tea Party! Be sure to go to Mad Tea Party Central and hop
around the other 350+ parties!

Since you made it to the end of this {really long} post, I want you to have a chance to win a party favor, just for coming. Or better yet, how about four prizes to win. I will select four names at random from my Mad Hatter's hat and send these lovelies off to you, wherever you are.

Prize #1: As an artisan jewelry designer making pieces for publication, I have a whole storefront to choose from. For the Mad Tea Party I chose to share a piece called "Fly Away Home" {quite a fitting name for an Alice post, don't you agree?} that was featured in the June 2009 issue of Bead Trends magazine. This piece has a dragonfly filigree wrapping a matte purple bosher (button-washer). There are pearls, crystals and lots of Vintaj brass. {Did you know that dragonflies are lucky? That they imply deeper thoughts are just below the surface? That their short life reminds you to live life to the fullest?} This is actually a long necklace, about 30" but depending on your neck, you might be able to wrap it twice!
Retail Value: $125

Prize #2: How about I throw in a really cool set of letterpress coasters from 1Canoe2 on Etsy.
Retail Value: $15

Prize #3: A beautiful letterpress print from EightHourDay on Etsy.
Retail Value: $20

Prize #4: Home Tweet Home! This charming birdhouse kit from Paper Fashions Boutique will come home to roost with one lucky winner.
Retail Value: $32

Here's the fine print:

  1. Comment on this post to win. That's it. Feel free to answer any, or all of the questions in the post above.

  2. If you would be so moved as to follow on our journey of inspiration, become a follower of this blog and you will be entered a second time.
    (Be sure to post a separate comment so that I can tell.)

  3. Four winners will be selected at random from all comments received by June 30th, 2010 at 11:59 pm CST. The awarding of the prizes will be at the sole discretion of the blog owner (that's me ;-).

Check It Out::Alice in Wonderland featurette

Enjoy the day!

22 June 2010

RAW::Everything You Give

Today's Random Act of Wisdom is brought to you by Notes from the Universe. Click to sign up and get yours.

"Everything you give, Erin, you get back, times seven.

Plus, what you give, grows, times seven.

Plus plus, there's a little known intergalactic algorithm that states whenever love is added to the giving, a line of unique wearable work-of-art jewelry draws ever closer to the giver. Whoa!

I give it all to you,
The Universe"

Isn't that a nice thought?

I get these TUT messages...Totally Unique Thoughts®...just by happenstance. They don't come every day, but sometimes, like this week, they come more frequently. And I wonder...can they really know that I needed to hear this right here, right now? This is a recent one. I store them in a folder and come back to them for encouragement.

In the spirit of giving, and paying it forward, I recently gifted Lorelei with a bundle of goodies from the Bead & Button show. She did issue a challenge on her ABS post about buying her something. Seems that others were listening to her as well. Go check out her post about it and stick around for her re-org of her studio. Imagine if she gets more organized how much more creatively prolific she will be! There will be no stopping her! What do I get out of this deal? Well, I like to share with my friends and Lorelei has been a great mentor to me. And there is nothing better than the satisfaction that she likes what I selected for her. I can't wait to see what she makes with that owl from Lisa Peters Art! {And Lorelei is giving away some sweet Kelley Wenzel eggs and a Summers Studio birdie. Tweet!}

And another good friend Denise Yazbak Moore has announced the mother of all giveaways. She has cleaned out her stash and tells me that this 7.5 pounds of beady goodness is but the tip of the iceberg to her dragon's horde. She is giving this away to one lucky commenter. PICK ME! PICK ME! But hurry! The sign up ends soon! Denise makes the most amazing jewelry and has wonderful color sense as well, so I am certain that these beauties are all top notch. I can't wait to see who the winner will be and what will be done with this bounty!

Just found out about another giveaway...Glasstastic Treasures has a sweet lampworked tree keychain to gift to a lucky person. Go to the post here for details.

As for me...don't forget that I am still taking comments on my Bead Soup post to win a pair of earrings {not as faboo as 7.5 pounds of awesomeness, but it is something!}.

And there is still time to get your entry in for the June Inspired by...Paper Crafting challenge.

And if you come back on Saturday, June 26th I am participating in the Mad Tea Party Blog Hop with a few hundred other creative bloggers from around the world. {I'll let you in on a secret...there will be a really awesome piece of jewelry up for grabs in my giveaway among other things!}

Last, but not least, the winner of the Summer Solstice giveaway from yesterday is.......

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 20
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congratulations Christine of A Hot Piece of Glass!
{It pays to be the first in line to comment!}

Email me to get that juicy bracelet in the mail to you!
What about you? Do you feel that when you give you get?

Enjoy the day!

21 June 2010

It Says Summer To Me

"Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How do you know that summer has arrived?

Since today is officially the first day of summer, I thought that it would be fitting to share some summer inspiration.

I was offered an opportunity that I couldn't refuse back in March when summer was little more than a dream to me. Auntie's Beads gave me a mini-shopping spree to order whatever I would like from their site, if I would then make something and tell you about it. I am embarrassed that it took me this long to post my results. But I figure that it is better late than never, right?

I buy from all sorts of online vendors, and although I had seen Auntie's Beads mentioned in ads, I had never ordered from them. Well, that will change now! There is a little bit of everything on their site from glass beads to pearls and pewter findings to copper chain. The website is easy to navigate and I like that the pictures are shot with a white background to make it easy to see all the details of a component or bead. I found their prices reasonable, too. Here are the things that I ordered*:

I used all of the components that were sent to me except for the Miyuki beads. From the picture I thought that they might be a better match for the blue turquoise magnesite round beads, but they weren't. They ended up being a bit too gray in tone. But I will save them for another piece down the line.

Sweet Taste of Summer

I know it is summer when the watermelons are seen heaped in my favorite grocery store. You can get cut watermelon all year round these days, but I know that summer has arrived when I see those giant green orbs. There is a certain mystery to them. You never know if they will be sweet and juicy inside.

I love the color of watermelon. The green wavy stripes. The crisp white rind. The sweet pink flesh. And every 'seedless' watermelon has at least one black seed. But remember when it used to be that they were filled with seeds? Then a spitting contest ensued with the juice running down your arms. When I saw the deep rose turquoise nuggets I thought they looked just like the color of my favorite fruit. So I decided to make something that would remind me of summer.

Sweet Taste of Summer
I alternated the pink turquoise with green prehnite nuggets from my stash laced with black seed beads. The clasp is made from galvanized steel wire wrapped in more seed beads. I think this bracelet looks juicy!

A Landscape Rare

Summer also makes me think of cool blue water, sunlight dappled through the lush leaves on trees and going on adventures. I was most excited by the blue turquoise magnesite beads that I received. I loved the color and the mosaic look. Turquoise happens to be the Pantone color of 2010 and I think that it is a perfect summer color that looks great with copper, which is my favorite metal tone to design with.

I have been making my own resin components for a few years now, and this double sided pendant has vintage maps for journeys and adventures as well as snippets from a French poem (translated into English).

It says, "Few things are perfect: your soul is a landscape rare." And it also has a mustard seed, because from the tiniest inspiration grows the greatest ideas. This is what I call my "Seeds of Inspiration" pendants.

A Landscape Rare

I really liked the heft and solid feel of the square radiant links and toggle. And they are all double-sided, so that worked well with this pendant that can be worn either way.

I added some wood beads from Michaels, a beaded bead scavenged from some old necklace and the most lovely teal colored recycled silk sari ribbon to remind me of the cool water of the river. I threaded the ribbon through the bright copper chain, just to give that some more visual weight, like a babbling brook flowing over stones.

And of course, some earrings to match, using the leaf and loop ear wires, turquoise magnesite rounds, teal seed beads (bringing in the same detail from the necklace) and the cool copper square spacers. Don't those magnesite orbs look like our little planet Earth? Or a map with twists and turns leading to treasures galore?

Summer has definitely arrived around here. But the one thing I won't be inspired by are all the mosquitoes that will be showing up soon!

Question: would you be interested in buying components like my "Seeds of Inspiration" pendants? Layers of paper, resin, poetry, and art? Do tell!

Would you like to win the "Sweet Taste of Summer" bracelet?
You have until
11:59pm CST on Monday, June 21st to comment on this post. Winner will be drawn at random from all comments that complete this sentence...

I know that it is summer when....

Enjoy the day!

*FTC compliance disclosure: the '*' items mentioned in this post credited to Auntie's Beads were provided as a promotional gift.
These items are for review or design purposes.

19 June 2010

Servin' it up Bead Soup Style

"When you have a good stock, you can make a good soup."
~Martin Yan

What could be better than one serving of Bead Soup? Why, three...or actually four, of course!

Are you hungry, bead peeps? Because there is a lot to chew on here!

I am delighted to be participating in the 2nd Bead Soup Swap organized by the lovely Lori from Pretty Things. This time around there are 90 participants. That is a lot of soup!

I was paired with Michelle Reilly of bMichelle Designs. She was really so generous. She knew that I asked for cool colors, but she found another set that she thought would be perfect for me, so she sent both! Isn't that sweet?

Both sets included handmade PMC silver clay toggle clasps. The detail on each is so very intricate. I just took a class at the Bead & Button show with Sherri Haab using PMC3 silver clay {more on that later!}, so I can completely attest to the amount of work that had to go into these.

One set was a beautiful mossy green with accents of peach. I love that color combo. I used a silver dragonfly from Thailand, one of the new Susan Lenart Kazmer Industrial Chic bar connectors {which I highly recommend} wrapped in pearls and some chain and spacers from my stash. Most of the rest were from Michelle's gift including that really cool stone connector. Tell me, Michelle...where can I get more of those?

Facing North

I call this soup "Facing North". I am not an outdoorsy kind of gal, but I do know that if I am lost in a woods and want to know my direction, I can look for moss on a tree and that direction will be north. And in another lifetime I was an assistant trainer for Leadership Portage County and ran their opening and closing retreats. We used to study the native American idea that personalities can be divided into four main directions: North, South, East and West. I am much more of an East South East girl, so going North is sometimes hard for me. North has direction and gets things done. North finds that the best way is to just do it yourself without regard for others you may mow over to do it. North takes the bull by the horns. I could use a little more North in my life.

The second set had this drop dead gorgeous brilliant blue glass egg. {A Kelley Wenzel perhaps?} The bright blue is a stretch for me, but I love the way the egg has this softness to it. I need to put a bit more thought into something special for that one. There were other glass beds, spacers that looked like pyrite and some blueberry flavored faceted drop shapes. But the one that I chose to work with was the fantabulous swirly glass bead. There is a deep mystery there.

I Can See Clearly Now

To this awesome extra helping of soup, I used a silver bar chain, with the simple elegance of some faceted iolite from my cupboard. The beauty of that stone is such that it needs little adornment. And I loved Michelle's PMC clasp so much I put it front and center, where it should be. Iolite literally means "violet" (ios) "stone" (lithos). It is sometimes called a blue sapphire. Iolite was used by Vikings to give them a sense of direction when navigating. It is said to enhance leadership ability, inner strength and self confidence and is associated with clairvoyance. Hence the name, "I Can See Clearly Now" {maybe I see a pattern forming here...seeing clearly, enhancing self-confidence and going North...hmmmmm....}.

Last, but certainly not least, I have a friend I met at a local art show who wanted to play along on the Bead Soup. But unfortunately, she doesn't have a blog {yet! email her at mizar@charter.net and tell her that she should start one!}, and you kind of need to have one if you are going to hop around on them. But I didn't want her to miss out on all the fun, and I just know you will all love her as much as I do, so I invited her to play with me. My third soup ingredients is from Sharon Misuraco of Off The Beadin' Path.

Sharon knows my tastes and style pretty well, and she picked things that she knew I would love. The key is my very favorite motif, including the logo for my company, and Sharon picked this lovely ceramic key from Tracey Dock that has a nice weight and a lovely rough texture and soft turquoise color. There is some turquoise chain from MissFickleMedia herself, Shannon LeVart {love it!} and some fun copper beads. Added to that are some lovely turquoise colored ceramic beads from Boulder Junction, WI.

The Key Element

To these yummy morsels I added a length of variegated ribbon {that I picked up at Bead & Button 2009 from Sonoran Beads} with shades of mossy green, gold and lavender and paired it with the last of that faceted iolite that I have been hoarding {oh...for about 5 years!}. I wire wrapped the copper beads she sent in the center of the chain for added visual weight to the piece. And the ending is a lovely copper swirly clasp {perhaps from Miss LeVart as well?}.

I call this one "The Key Element" because of that focal of course, but more so that the key element for me is inspiration. It is everywhere. It is in me. It is in you. And it is in these components. And really, anyone reading this should jump in and play along {please tell me there will be a next time, Lori!} because we are all making up the 'rules' as we go...just so we can break them again! But we are all faced with inspiration every single day. {What will you do with the inspiration facing you?}

And this is what I sent to Sharon. But I will let her tell you in her own words...
The ingredients: Erin generously sent me an abundance of pieces to work with! And don't miss the Moonstruck chocolate, which I saved for a reward upon completion of the necklace :) I chose the power word, "Harmony", and Erin surprised me with this beautifully done pendant that she created with Vintaj natural brass. So delightful! She also shared some of her precious beads from Heather Powers, created especially for one of Erin's projects at the gallery where she will soon be having a show. Look at that terra cotta sari silk, (the camera didn't do it justice), an extra hand-stamped focal, lava beads - healthy to wear! - a sassy silkie bead, brecciated jasper rectangles, vintage rollo chain, copper glass dangles, and a handmade awesome clasp! I gazed at these for days, and as the deadline neared, I went with my original idea.
From Deep Within

The outcome: "From Deep Within" Usually I wouldn't explain the name of my piece, but I want to mention how this collection of components absolutely forced me to go deep within my creative zones to bring out the best I could for each one! And lava comes from way deep within the earth, bringing us a glimpse of concentrated minerals. This was the first time that I used sari silk, so I completely winged it, and now I'm hooked! It was hard to leave anything out of the necklace, but I hope I knew when to quit! I have plans for the leftovers already. All I added were the 2 styles of chain and a few more of the Czech dangles. I'm so thrilled to find the perfect use for the Kan Fashions chain I found at the Denver Gem Show. The black and copper tied in perfectly with the lava and the silkie bead and the warmth of the sari silk.

A big hug and thank you to Erin, a true-blue-beady-buddy, for coming up with a way to include me in the "party", even though I don't have a blog - yet!

So, what do you think of the soup? There is something here for anyone's tastes. And this is just proof that when you have that good stock, you can make a good soup.

Are you hungry for more? Michelle was so generous with her ingredients that I was able to make some lovely earrings with the some of the extra blue beads and the pyrite colored spacers and some sterling daisies.

Free! To a good home....

If you would like to win these, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post {you deserve a prize if you stayed until the end of this one!!!}. I will pick a random winner at the end of June from all comments received on this post. Feel free to pass the word. I don't care if the winner made soup or is just here to sample! Become a Follower of my blog and that counts as a second entry {just leave a second comment for that to count...I am math-challenged}. Easy-peasy!

Thanks to Lori for hosting this fun party...again {you can read about my first soup here}. Be sure to go and sample more soup from the list on Lori's blog Pretty Things. If you didn't get a chance to participate this time around, be on the look out for the future. You try new things, meet new people and have a lot of fun doing it.

And if you are interested in challenges, don't forget about my monthly Inspired by... challenges. The current challenge is to be Inspired by...Paper Crafting and you can read all about it here and view the entries here. I would love to have you come and be inspired!

And just 'cuz I like you...here is a heads up... be sure to check back this week for more chances to win other giveaways!

Enjoy the day!

15 June 2010

30 Words::Simmering

Paired with (two) partner(s)
Mailman delivers 'ingredients'
A pinch of this, a dash of that
Mix it up,
let it simmer
serve it hot or cold
Bead Soup is yummy!

The start of the 2nd Bead Soup Swap blog hop is getting heated up right now. The big blog party begins on Saturday, June 19th with the first wave of the Souper Beaders. I am in the first group. Then Lori is ingeniously rolling out all the rest in groups so that you don't get so overwhelmed trying to follow them all.

The pictures above are some BLTs for you....bites, licks, and tastes.

{And I promise that this soup won't have any calories, although you might find your wallets considerable thinner after viewing everyone's soup...because you might want to rush out and buy them!}

Be sure to check back for my soup. Three heaping bowls full!

Enjoy the day!

08 June 2010

Coming to My Senses::Bead & Button

I see....row upon row of booths with shiny beads,,, the smile on my friend's face as we see each other once again at the same time every year... new techniques that I am excited to learn.

I smell....high priced anything from the food vendor... the hot gritty smell of throngs of people... a torch being fired.

I hear....the constant murmur of people... the cries of recognition and peals of laughter echoing through the expo cente..., the pounding of metal into submission.

I taste....a big gulp of ice cold, high priced water... the highest priced sandwich you can imagine... the thrilling discovery of new artists... the rush of secret plans.

I touch....the strands of pearls dripping from a table (I want to roll in them)... the art beads with great reverence knowing that someone put their heart into making that with their own two hands... hands for shaking and arms for hugging.

I feel....blessed that I can be at the Bead & Button show this wee... meeting old friends and making new ones, especially my friends from the blogging world... delighted to be helping out at the Humblebeads booth... exhausted from standing on the show floor, feet screaming... excited by the possibilities.

What is coming to your senses today?

Enjoy the day!

Be Flexible

flex·i·ble \ˈflek-sə-bəl\ adj.
: capable of being flexed : pliant
: yielding to influence : tractable
: characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirement

Are you flexible? {And I am not talking about touching your toes!}

I find that my creativity is greatest when I am willing to be flexible and not rigid. When I am loose and able to bend, seeing materials in a different way than they were meant to be used, that is when my greatest ideas are born.

When I was a teacher, I was always told that I was 'unflappable' that nothing ruffled me {good trait to have when you teach English to 7th graders!}. I think that this could have stemmed from my naivete as much from my willingness to be flexible to whatever was happening around me. If we went 'off book', that was okay. It was a teachable moment and that adaptability served me well.

Last summer at the Bead & Button I met Sara Hardin at the SoftFlex booth. She was showcasing the new Trios that Soft Flex came out with last year. These tri-colored wires are really fun and vibrant. Last year they started a yearly contest called "Flex Your Creativity" inviting designers to submit a jewelry piece using the Soft Flex Trios. The catch? You had to SHOW the wire. Now usually jewelry designers tend to see the wire as a very utilitarian component. You string the beads on and it gets hidden. But with the Soft Flex Trios the wire can be the star.
But I am flexible, right? So I thought, "what the hey!" I entered the contest with my piece entitled "The Key to Kandinsky (is Color)." I created this necklace to enter in the June 2009 Art Bead Scene challenge {I am all about killing those two birds with that one stone}. The inspiration painting was Kandinsky's Farbstudie Quadrate (Color Study of Squares) shown above. While walking around at Bead & Button I found this cool circle component and flower link from Jangles and matched the Trio to it. The rest, as they say, is history.
I am also thrilled that this piece will end up in an ad for Soft Flex that should be hitting the newsstands in magazines this summer. Watch for it.
Once I got selected as a finalist in the contest it was open to a vote. And I was honored to take 6th place. The first three places won gift certificates - first prize is $500! - but the rest of the contestants won a Trio of their choice. I selected Egg Hunt for the green color in particular. I plan to make that the center of my theme for this years' contest.

The "Flex Your Creativity" contest for this year has a theme of Steampunk. That is all the rage, so it should be fun to see what gets submitted. There is plenty of time to enter the challenge, deadline is September 1st.

But more than the free spools of wire, I am pleased to share with you that I am the featured Designer of the Month at the Soft Flex website! Pictures of some of my favorite pieces and a little more about me can be found there. I hope you will go over and check it out. And maybe be inspired to enter this years' contest, too.

What is your favorite color? Is there a color that you have a particular challenge creating with?
Are you as flexible as you would like to be? Are there times when you could challenge yourself to be more flexible in your life?
In the Soft Flex Designer Highlight, I mentioned the "life is too short" to do what?
Do you agree with me? ;-)
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

Check It Out::
Soft Flex Girl

07 June 2010

Coming To My Senses::All Star Game

I see....American flags waving in the breeze, white chalk on the tan dirt, my son rounding 2nd going for third.

I smell....Boomerburgers on the grill, a hot-off-the-press souvenir t-shirt, that this garbage can needs to be emptied.

I hear.... the dull thud of the ball hitting the mitt, cheers of the crowd, "Steeee-rike!"

I taste.... hot, fresh cheese curds, the satisfying crunch of peanut M&Ms, an ice-cold Diet Coke.

I touch....the hard aluminum bleachers, the shutter on my camera, the few spits of rain on my face.

I feel.... thrilled to be back among our 'tribe' at the ballpark, enjoying the most Americana day, watching my son and his friends strut their stuff as the best of the best in the league at the All Star Game.... grateful that Sport-o has been selected for another year of traveling with this team of great athletes and their awesome families!

What came to your senses this weekend?

Enjoy the day!

03 June 2010

Countdown... Inspired by Exhibit

"To succeed... you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you." ~Tony Dorsett

I am embarking on a creative challenge like no other. And I am worried about its success. Or rather, I am terrified that I will fail.

In less than 75 days I will be attending the Opening Night of my biggest Inspired by... challenge yet.

I will be the solo exhibitor at the Gallery Q for the month of August and September. An honor that I am not taking lightly and that will likely make me sick from worry and angst. {But it is also one of those 'doors of opportunity' that I am always harping about -----------------> so I really cannot ignore my visions of what is on the other side can I?}.

One year ago on June 13th the Gallery Q Artist Cooperative opened in Downtown Stevens Point. I feel fortunate to have garnered the attention of the Founders who came knocking on my door with an offer that I couldn't refuse. This past year has been one of tremendous growth for me. I have met so many wonderful people and been a part of something larger than myself. I have had an opportunity to sell my work for an amazing commission rate and grow my art. I have helped with the events committee and feted many artists who were having their own exhibits, a privilege of membership.

And I was asked repeatedly by the members to mount a show of my own.

{Besame Mucho, Inspired by Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, featuring a Humblebead}

At first, I balked. I had to remind them that I was not an artist like my friend Ann who paints the most beautiful watercolors or my friend Kristin with her vessels of many shapes and sizes. But these people believed in me, and made it hard for me to shake off the 'artist' name badge.

I must be some sort of one note because the first thing that came to mind when asked to pick a theme for my show was "Inspired by..." I mean, I am always doing that on my blog each month, and finding ways to be inspired by my clients or the painting of the month at Art Bead Scene. Actually, I think I owe the talent over at Art Bead Scene for a lot of my fascination with inspiration.

And if you know me at all, you will know that I am the least competitive person around. I love collaborating with others. I love picking their brains and posing questions that get them excited and thinking in new directions. And I especially love it when you can collaborate on art.

{Norma Jean's Pearls, Inspired by Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe screenprints, featuring Jangles}

So, in January, the "Inspired by..." exhibit was born.

Inspired by...The Beginnings

{Les Chants de Fleurs, Inspired by Monet's Water Lilies}

In the spring of 2009 I was asked to participate in the local Arts Walk event. I decided that I should make new jewelry for this in a theme. In keeping with what I had been learning from Art Bead Scene, I thought that it would be cool to have a small exhibit based off Master works of art. I made showstopping necklaces based on Monet's Water Lilies, Warhol's Marilyn Monroe screen prints and Klimt's The Kiss among others {which you can see above}. It was a big hit.

So when I was asked to consider a show of my own, I thought that it would be an interesting twist to do the same, but with local artists. And since art beads are important to me I decided to use one in each piece, having it created just for me if possible.

My original proposal indicated that I would be willing to work with any artist in the Gallery Q who wanted to collaborate. Today I am glad that only 7 of the 30 artists came through. Because I have my hands full.

I told them that I would like to have new work, or at least something that is fresh, from each of them and I would then create jewelry that was inspired by their art using art beads created just for each piece. In my mind I saw at least two pieces for each piece of art. One larger-than-life statement piece and some others that were more affordable.

The artists were excited, and that made me think that anything was possible. But what I discovered is that juggling this many artists is a lot like those guys who would spin plates to keep them from falling. I am spinning the plates as fast as I can. And trying not to drop these delicate things.

I naively thought that if I started in February I would be able to secure my local artists and get in contact with bead artists to start creating so that by the end of May, I would have half of my pieces done. Today, I have not one piece complete. I did start back then, but some of those I contacted that long ago I am still waiting on beads from. I know that life has a funny way of throwing road blocks up, but to say that it is an inconvenience would be an understatement. I have always had a propensity for over stating what and when I could complete something. And this project is no exception. At the beginning of May I was still begging for pictures of the local art so that I could contact a suitable bead artist. But others, like Kerry Bogert and Heather Powers, who were contacted some time ago, were so excited about the outcome of our collaboration that they couldn't contain their enthusiasm and wrote the most passionate posts. {I promise that I will come back to both of these in more depth to come when I introduce you to the artists.}

Did I mention that I have to have all of my artwork at the Gallery Q by the end of July for the gallery committee to hang? Also, did I mention that I hope to have a booklet of all the artists in the show, but I have nothing to even get started with since I am still not sure which artists will be working with me? And just to complicate matters I will be attending a traveling baseball tournament every weekend from now until the end of July? And the first week in August I will be flying to Houston for a trade show for work? And my job...don't even get me started on my job....

Luckily, next week is the Bead & Button show, and this is absolutely it as far as the bead buying goes for this project. {This is likely going to be the most expensive project yet. I do hope that I can let go most of what I create because I must recoup my investment.} I am planning to make a list of any art beads that may be lacking in my arsenal so that I can kick start the process of creating pieces for the show as soon as I come back {right now it is 1:44am and this will be the norm for me for the next 75 days}. I will be meeting many bead artists there. Some, like Melanie at Earthenwoods and glass artist Dora Schubert from Germany will {hopefully!} have beads that we have discussed ready for me. Others I will be discovering as I go.

One thing I do know...if I can pull this off {and it is a big IF!} it is going to be the most impressive collection of my work yet, and I am very excited about it.

I plan to take the next 75 days and tell you of my "Inspired by..." exhibit one piece at a time. I will give you a peek at my inspiration pieces and tell you of the artists that I am working with to create this show. I will share with you the ups and downs of mounting this show with such a limited time frame. I may vent a little along the way. There will certainly be quite a few tears and many sleepless nights, but I promise you I will give you a glimpse into my inspiration. And who knows? Maybe it will even inspire you.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

If you could put on an exhibit of your best creative work, no matter the medium, what would you call it and why? Do tell!

Enjoy the day!


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