Monday, June 30, 2008

back amongst the blogging

There is a silver lining here. Our computer, after spending a week in the Apple store hospital, came home two days ago with a new external hard drive, new operating system and all but three pictures saved from the old hard drive. I am so relieved.

I've been spending my interim days without a computer working on beads, among other things. The prayer beads were created for a very special lady who lost her lovely daughter last year. The Lao Tzu zen pendant is a trade. The clouds are the leftovers from a mid afternoon storm from last week, the view from the top of our building looking west over the city of Richmond from the museum district.

Since I don't want to spoil anymore surprises, the etchings sent off today will have to wait for another post. My days are full as can be. My husband and I are working on restoring a grand piano. My job this week is stripping, sanding and staining the open grain finish on the piano. Because of fumes, it must be done with open doors, so it is HOT in there working. I go home at the end of the day in a puddle. I even think my jeans are a little less snug. Another silver lining, eh? When I get home, there are animals to tend to, dinner to fix, things to clean up, and finally jewelry to be made. We are sharing a booth in Pittsburgh July 19-20 so at the last minute practically I am revamping alot of old pieces and creating a bunch of new polymer pendants, simple ones strung on a leather or rubber cord.

We hope to do especially well at this show because we are going to Italy! in January for an early winter getaway in fabulous Rome, Florence, Venice, Cortona, and yes, even Maranello, Italy, where the Ferrari museum awaits my car-crazed husband. Oh, the bead stores I see listed in Venice... i'll walk through water lapping at my ankles to find them. Anyone with any good tips for travel there, please let me know! Neither of us has ever been to Italy. My head is already aswirl with the Sistine Chapel dancing in my head, museums, pasta, cobbled streets, the Coliseum. The material girl in me is thinking beads! leather! paper! oh the joys of Italy. I can't wait.

Friday, June 27, 2008

still pondering

the computer is still on the blink. apple is still working on it. what to do...

in the meantime, i'm discovering how very much i can get done with no computer.
it's kinda nice!
karen, your prayer beads are on the way! lorelei, your pendants are ready!
heather/humblebeads, your pendants is on the truck to San Antonio!

otherwise i am working on polymer bead necklaces for the pittsburgh art
show in july. also finishing up a host of other languishing jewelry projects,
including the "what the water gave me" necklace. it's finished! if only a
real computer to upload pictures...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


just a note that our computer has crashed and is under reconstruction so i will be AWOL for a little while.  if anyone has a need, email me at  thanks!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Little Bragging

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is a world class car event that is held every year at Schenley Park. I'm proud as punch that my husband, a self taught and award winning artist, will be an art vendor there this year, July 19-20. The above photograph was taken of his most recently finished acrylic, a Jaguar E type, 12" x 48". In between his regular day work he is madly working all hours to finish up several canvases and have others printed. If you live in the Pittsburgh area or are otherwise attending the show, check out his booth of original fine automobile art. He also accepts commissioned work.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

pass the kleenex & the cough syrup, please

My husband, in all his generosity, has decided to give me his hum-dinger of a summer cold. I thought after a week of caring for his aching ailments that I would be in the clear. But, no. Now the king size bed is my plush friend and never did clean sheets and a plump pillow feel so good.

That said, I've managed not to start, let alone finish, any new jewelry or bead projects. Sorry, Lorelei. I promise the jpg's are coming soon as my head stops spinning! The only good thing about being sick but not desperately sick is I get alot of reading done. I have read Bead One Pray Too cover to cover, as well as Beads of Faith and Bent, Bound & Stitched. Also I have worked about a hundred rows of a knitted lace scarf, organized my bead containers and put together a small silver wire order to send off. Oh, I also finally delved into Frances Mayes' In Tuscany, the luscious descriptions and beautiful photographs of which sent me to the computer to research airfare and lodging for a fall tour. Alas, wishful thinking. $3000 for a one stopover flight in the off season from a hub like BWI to Rome? Give me a break, people. Last time I went to Europe it was around $600 per person and it wasn't that long ago. Oh well. I'll have to eat spaghetti and meatballs with my eyes closed and pretend big time. One can always dream.

Now it is back to relaxing, although not the type of relaxing I figured I would be doing right now. My real relaxation trip is postponed until next week. Back to the kleenex...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

thank you

hi everyone! thank you so kindly for your votes and your emails of support! last day to vote is wednesday. i am getting ready to take a well needed journey shortly thereafter. ahhhh.. relaxation. i'm ready.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bead Star Competition

I'm jumping-up-and-down excited that the only design I submitted to a contest called Bead Star has been chosen as one of twenty finalists in the Pearls category. The necklace was inspired by an evening watching cormorants on the James River and the lovely iridescence of their feathers. The triple strand of pearls on the bottom are all faceted, the silver pendant I hand stamped and added a small funny bird with steel stamp letters turned this way and that. The iridescent feather is by Zoa Art from Asheville.

If you so desire, you can vote for me in the Pearls Category. My necklace is number one listed on that page. Go to:

to vote!! The contest is presented by Interweave Press and Beading Daily. One need not be a member of Beading Daily to vote, however it is a wonderful site to learn about all sorts of jewelry and beading topics, so do join!

Thank you kindly and have fun voting!!

Yesterday was slated to be one of those days that we nearly all know about-- hurried, rushed, late, dreaded. When we can combine trips between Michael's piano tuning/repair field appointments and a grocery or store errand in the same vicinity, I will accompany him to save gas expenses and car wear and tear. Yesterday he had to deliver the remaining panels of a refinishing job to a waiting customer in Spotsylvania, VA, about a 50 mile drive one way from our place in Richmond. I went with him to help with carrying panels and general management of the job. An hour late, hot and grumpy, we both set off with all parts loaded and accounted for, having left a wistful Lucy home in the air conditioning.

We had mapquest directions and they were well needed, as this place that we figured was just another subdivision giant of a home was instead off of about six roads from 95 near Fredericksburg. Turn here, turn here, turn here, turn here, etc.. Finally, after stopping for an iced tea and diet coke, we came to a long drive way, and to my delight, found ourselves passing animal stalls and chicken coops. The property where the piano sat waiting was a six acre farm. The owners are a married couple with no children that we saw evidence of, but animal lovers like ourselves. Having all three in common, we hit it off with them immediately. While we worked on the piano, we were kept company by the three dogs of the house, two sibling two year old hounds, and a 12 year old australian cattle dog, all rescues, all well loved and loving animals.

Outside, there were two full size horses and a spunky little miniature pony named, well, Spunky. His name fit him perfectly. Free range chickens ran around scraping and pecking for insects, three goats baaaaaah'd from their large pen, and small lizards darted here and there across the porch. I spent most of the day delighted with watching the horses play and roll around on their backs, and rubbing dog bellies, their eyes closed in bliss. Such sweet critters. The husband extends his farm skills to his trade, travelling from farm to farm to shoe horses for a living. Now how cool is that? By the time we left the property at 9 p.m. last night, we came away with what was intended, a paycheck, but also a sense of fulfillment that emanated from this loving couple and their well loved farm and animals. What a delight to see a couple so in harmony with themselves, their lives, and their pets.

After spending a good part of the day laughing over the chicken's antics, I came home desperately desiring one for myself. We could put her in the bathroom, couldn't we, says I? Michael said, no, she'd probably end up in bed with us and the rest of the animals! Sounds ok to me. =)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

what the water gave me

I've slowly been collecting materials for this necklace. The focal beach glass is the one from the deconstruction project. It's been languishing all week on my workbench, whilst I've perused the stash boxes, pondered and sketched. All portions of this necklace are special to me. The large blue/green beach glass was collected on a trip

to Nags Head with my husband a few years ago, and the smaller pieces were collected at a beach on the James River last week during a day trip with my dog Lucy. The limpets are special treasures found on Assateague Beach on one of many seashell hunting walks with my parents over the years. And the other shells were found near Port Townsend, Washington, on one of the loveliest beaches I have ever been privileged to walk. I've put a lovely patina on the double strand sterling chain, and plan to use one of my land & sea series round mokume gane beads somewhere in the mix. Hiding beyond the glass is some lovely prehnite and faceted chalcedony that must have a place since the colors are so much of the waters.

The title, "what the water gave me," is taken from a Frida Kahlo painting of the same name, one of my favorites.

Hampering my progress is a bout of insomnia that just won't let up. Conversely, there's nothing like it for an excuse to get up at 4 a.m. and sand polymer beads. I managed to finish all of them from the last batch and only must figure out which ones are going with me to a shop in Chincoteague, VA, next week and which ones will be mounted in silver or posted alone on etsy.

On another note,

Monday, June 9, 2008

beading fool

I stayed up so late the past two nights making beads, my head feels like I've flown through six times zones and back again.

This is a small representation of some of the new beads. The smaller ones on the left (see below- I cannot get my pictures to work right on this) are not sanded and still covered with corn starch from pressing flat but the eventual intended purpose is to use them in creating prayer bead strands. I've been so inspired by Heather Powers' (Humblebeads) beautiful prayer bead strands and her review of the new book Bead One, Pray Too, that I made these green and 23 kt gold mokume gane lentil beads to use with some beautiful faceted Russian Amazonite, for starters. The rest of the prayer bead strands I am still conceptualizing but I'm excited by them.

The beads on the right (below) are inspired by my favorite fossil, the trilobite (I know, I'm a total geek..) as well as some experiments such as the double link circle to symbolize unity and then just some interesting abstracts in various combinations. I've sanded all the larger beads and pendants but still have to buff them. Unfortunately I never seem to have either time, inclination or inspiration to start working on jewelry or beads until evening, so my bedtime is pushed way past the point of restful sleep. Last night, engrossed in bead making and listening to an excellent CD compilation of Dire Straits, Sting, Johnny Cash and the Cranberries, I completely forgot the time and ended up hitting the pillow around 4 a.m. Michael was similarly engrossed in painting so we both crept through today like zombies. Then Mango got me up at 7 a.m. wanting his morning salmon. Good thing I love the little fat bugger...

Tonight I've promised myself to go to bed before midnight so the beads will have to wait until tomorrow to finish up and photograph properly.

Friday, June 6, 2008

too hot to move

It is too hot to do much other than stay indoors, move little and chug water. (ok, diet coke...). In spite of that, two loads of laundry trekked down to our complex laundry room, nine sacks of groceries came home from Kroger, packages got mailed at the post office, Lucy and I walked around the block twice, and Michael and I got dressed up and went out to some art gallery openings this evening, plus an ice tea tasting at a coffee shop.

There are tons of yard sales tomorrow and in spite of my fanatacism over good used stuff, I'm not sure we can brave such high temperatures even in air conditioned cars.

This necklace reveals two of my great loves in the material world-- old buttons and old keys. oh, how I love them. When I worked a state job last year, a friend brought in three of these tiny keys, each one hardly bigger than the tip of my pinky finger, and gave them to me. Isn't it adorable? I sold one on a necklace already, kept one for myself and this one will be going on etsy soon as I get the lead out and post it. The opposite side of the stamped copper charm says, keys to my heart.

What with the heat, Michael and I have agreed that tomorrow will be spent indoors as much as possible, working on his art, my jewelry and beads. oh joy! Should be a good one.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

practice begins

Following on yesterday's zen pendant, here is another just listed on etsy. Reading Katagiri Roshi's Each Moment Is the Universe- Zen and the Way of Being Time is truly mind expanding. It has influenced my life, my art, my understanding of time and my outlook in a positive manner.

Otherwise I spent today running around in circles from one errand to the next, fairly faint with non-acclimation to the new heat of summer. I cannot believe we had no air conditioning in our car for the first nine years of our life together, and always with a younger Lucy dog in tow. Many, many times we packed her in ten pound bags of ice, stuck under her cloth dog bed, for the four hour journey in our old truck, to visit my parents. She was nice and relatively cool, but we sweltered and sweated, cursing the heat, the summer, the car, the months til fall. At least I did under my breath. She's too old for that now, and so are we, so I am every day thankful for our safer and blissfully cooler modern cars.

After fixing fish and brussel sprouts (our favorite!) for dinner, the rest of the evening has been in front of the computer putting things online for sale and also creating a pendant for a custom order. Michael, banished to the bedroom due to the bum living room t.v., spent his time unknowingly entertaining me with his colorful language, grunts, shouts and boos for his Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game, of which the Penguins lost. A thrilling finish, he said, but a loss nonetheless. Now he's painting and I'm ready to start work for a bit on another project. I'm still struggling with my problem of having my fingers dipped into too many pots to keep up with all my ongoing and varied projects. It's the Gemini nature to be all over the place so I have an excuse. But it would be nice if my mind would stop racing so and just be....... calm. This is why I read zen books, although it's difficult for me to practice what I so love to read.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

letting go

Isn't this so true? It's ever so hard to implement, though. There are so many hindrances to getting things done as we would like them to be done, but how much of it really means a hill of beans in the scheme of things? Sure you want your house to be clean and your grass to be cut but how about giving in to that book you want to read, that day trip you want to take, that knitting languishing in the bag, or that piece of jewelry you bought the supplies for two years ago? How about just once doing what we really want to do? Instead of what we expect ourselves to do? It's hard, isn't it.

The quote on this necklace is a particular favorite of mine. Of course what he's talking about is not the hum drum of vacuuming and picking up dirty underwear. This quote strikes me so, I wanted to create a necklace around it that was organic and pure, undiluted, earth and sky and water and fire. The drop dangle is Peruvian blue opal (yes it is really green!), with a river rock from the midwest. jobs tears and faceted chunk rubies comprise the necklace. for anyone interested in a closer look, it is for sale on my etsy shop.

Still I am working on the necklace from yesterday's post. Instead of rushing home to begin work, today I decided to take some time with Lucy and walk the beach along the James River, see what could be found washed up. What took my eye and went into my pocket? A lovely and very weathered piece of blue beach glass, ten small rocks, three agates, a large rock for my dad's pond, and a small bit of driftwood in a funky shape. Lucy doesn't run through the water as she used to, but it's the longest walk she has had in four months now and afterwards she got back in the car with a smile on her face. I'll take that!

Monday, June 2, 2008


This is a necklace I made several years ago using beach glass found at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was actually chosen to be in a book but was edited out at practically the last moment. It's just as well because it pains me now to look at the wirewraps I struggled with back then.

Believe it or not we went to the Outer Banks that cool fall day specifically to look for interesting beach glass, one of my obsessions then and now. Both the large focal piece and the smaller blue piece were found that day. I was so excited to finally find the large blue piece after much searching. Immediately I knew I wanted to drill holes in it for dangly charms. Now I have a different idea in mind and the necklace here pictured is deconstructed and in the process of major reconstruction. It will still have dangling charms but the new ones are my handmade charms and beads, with a little nature tossed in for balance. A double silver link chain softened with patina connects the pendant, still such a nice memory from that spur of the moment journey. These journeys are always the best kind.
Pictures of the new necklace soon as it's completed...

After my lackadaisical week last week, I had such great plans for a constructive weekend. Alas, I spent the weekend in bed with the crud. Feeling better now and since I found out today I did not in fact get the dreaded job I figured was in the bag (after being narrowed down from 600 applicants, to 20 finalists and then was one of five cut in the end, oh joy), I have more time now to work on projects as well as worry about my future. Back to the drawing board...