Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Vikings are coming!

Last week I had the pleasure of taking a class with Denise Peck , editor of Step by Step wire jewelry magazine, at Beadfest Philly.  At first when she started the demo I was thinking "what have i gotten myself into?"  But in short order we were all merrily knitting away on our bracelets. I found it to be very zen like once getting going and i hope to make many more pieces using this method, especially some neck chains.  My son was especially impressed with the weaving when i showed it to him.
The beads that I added are artisan lampworked beads and Kazuri beads along with some hill tribe silver.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trade Ya

I intentionally left these out of yesterday's post as I think they deserve attention all their own.  The first picture is of African trade beads, more specifically Dutch donuts.  They are from the late 1800's and most likely were used in the slave trade.  A lot of these  glass beads were made in Thuringia Germany and Europe and were used as barter for trade in Africa.The seller had one strand left in this beautiful cobalt blue.
This next picture is of beads known as Padre beads getting their nickname from the time when European and Spanish priests came to America and gave them to the American Indians in their efforts to convert them to Christianity. 

The next strands of beads are the pinnacle of my hunting and gathering.  They are called tradewinds beads.  They were of course pricey and the seller had 3 strands, I picked up 1 but upon hearing of their age and history promptly went back and picked up a second strand!  They are about 2000 years old, they hail from a time when the tradewinds carried sailing ships in season and they had to wait for the tradewinds to shift to carry them home. They were used to purchase spices and incense and other wordly goods. Their age is very evident in all their beautiful imperfections!

The last picture is of Roman Glass shards. I was actually searching for them when I came upon all of the above beads. It was a very reputable dealer and i felt confident that I was getting what I was paying for which is very important if you should choose to purchase some yourself. Roman glass is antique shards of glass that have recently been found during site excavations. Due to the high mineral content of the sand and water in the mideast, the glass has taken on an iridescence on the surface.

Now the hardest part will be to actually USE these beads and not hoard them away!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Under The Influence

I am back home now from Beadfest where I had a wonderful time. Meeting up with old and new friends, learned a few new techniques and of course shopped and shopped and shopped! I got some cool new tools and metals and of course beads of every description.

They had made an announcement that there was to be NO PICTURE TAKING ON THE SHOW FLOOR- but I asked permission for a generic shot into the entrance. This was Sunday morning, no where near as crowded at the start as was Friday and Saturday

The reception area had a ginormous necklace on an even bigger display
I came down from my room about an hour before the show opened because I thought it opened at 10 again and it was 11 on Sunday. Apparrently so did a few other people.

Now when i say that I was under the influence I don't mean alcohol, although a nice glass of wine after all that shopping would have been welcome . No I am talking about how what we see in our daily experiences have a way of creeping into our subconscious and coming out in our work.  Remember a week or so ago when we went to see the Tiffany exhibition? As I unpacked my stash today i noticed a theme happening. I didn't realize it when i was shopping but I was clearly drawn over and over to the colors and feel of that exhibition. Take a look-

Lapis beads in several cuts

Real turquoise

cultured pearls

Czech glass beads

Handmade artisan beads, Raku, clay, lampworked and Kazuri beads

Glass and Agate beads

Misc. beads
See what I mean? As an artist we can't help but be influenced by what we see- nature, the change of seasons, fabrics, decor and even exhibitions of another artist's work.
All in all, being at a show like this is like being in a huge candy store, all filled with colorful confections set in beautiful displays, just tempting you at every turn!

As fun as it is to go away, it is always best to come back home. Some of the loveliest colors I saw were waiting for me when I arrived. My love, my husband always has a bouquet of flowers waiting when I return from a trip. I am a lucky girl indeed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Inspiration

I am here at Beadfest Philly, and I am going to try to get this post done although I am sitting in the foyer  by the elevators because the wireless reception in my room is virtually non existant tonight.  I had a wonderful class today with Anne Mitchell and Gail Crosman Moore called Colors and Patinas on metal. It was so much fun, lots of cool new techniques and the atmosphere in the class was very laid back.
These are some of the class examples provided by Gail with her beautiful felted beads.
More samples to inspire
These are the 2 pieces I finished in class.
I had to edit these in flickr so forgive the pix but wanted to try to post while here. (Corrected the pix now that I am home). Tomorrow the show opens with 280 plus vendor booths so I need to say goodnight to rest up for the big day of shopping ahead!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm Off To See The Wizard....

The wonderful wizard of GLASS!
Yesterday my husband and I took a daytrip to Richmond, after finding out just last week that this exhibit was taking place! It meant driving 3 1/2 hours each way but it was well worth it!

Doesn't he look happy? And yet he was the one who opted for the headphones and recorder and was walking around telling ME all about the pieces! I think it surprised him how much he actually enjoyed it! There' nothing like seeing work like this up close and personal, it is overwhelming!

Now me? I was excited from the get go! I had seen a Tiffany exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY many years ago and knew just how spectacular it was to see his work in person.

While we were unable to take pictures of the exhibition, there was an Art nouveau wing as part of the permanent collection that I was able to take pictures in.
There was works by Mucha-
And another love of mine, Lalique-

And Dragonflies and moths and butterflies of every description

After leaving Richmond we made a stop in Virginia Beach at the Harbor Freight and had a fun time shopping for new tools. I really wanted this wooden workbench they had there on sale, really sturdy, plenty of room for metalsmithing, 5 feet long, yeah, that can fit in my Prius!  Oh wait THAT's the box it's in? Nevermind, will have to wait until we have the truck! The Chesapeake Bay was beautiful and slick calm as we crossed the bay bridge tunnel to head home.  All in all it was a wonderful day off!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Backstory -continued

The loose definition of a backstory is this: the experiences of a character or the circumstances of an event that occur before the action or the narrative.  A prequel. The history behind a situation.

So, I guess that's what I'm doing here, giving all this background info on my life for 1- to let you the reader know more about who i am and 2- to help me remember from whence i come and help me to see clearer where i am headed.

That being said, I will move now to the next stage, the college years.  The most memorable parts of my first college career in the nursing program was submitting a design for the t-shirts to be worn by the health technologies division during the field day events and being chosen.  I also founded a newsletter aptly named "Nurses Notes". I was spending all of my free time taking the 35mm camera that i received for my high school graduation and going on photo adventures.  Everytime I got extra money I bought photo equipment, developing supplies, paper, film etc. Remember the Christmas lists i told you about? Now it was lenses and filters.  I even squeezed in a class on sundays at the college in photography. I was in love!  This was my medium. 

I remember sitting on campus, waiting to head to my next class, anatomy and physiology II where we were to dissect a cat and identify parts when I spotted a group of students, giant black portfolios in hand, heading to their class. I wanted to be them.  So I went home that evening and over the dinner table told my parents I wanted to quit nursing and go for Marketing, Art and Design. A hush fell and my parents thought for a moment , looked at each other and then proceeded to persuade me to finish nursing, after all I was halfway to getting my RN. With that i could go anywhere and always find a job.  And they were right, so finish I did.  To this day I maintain my license.
That's me, 1979
Shortly thereafter while on vacation here in Chincoteague, I met my husband and after graduating and taking my state boards I moved to Virginia and was married a year and a half later. My parents were right, down here I would have never gotten a job in a marketing art and design field in those days. In fact they were so short of nurses that my first job was as a nursing supervisor at a nursing home. From there I tried the health dept and the hospital where i was a charge nurse of a very busy med /surg floor until the birth of my daughter 5 years later.  All during this time I taught myself to quilt and do other needlearts and crafts and always had a project that I was working on.  I attempted to return to work when she was 13 months old but that only lasted 5 months as child care here was virtually non existant at the time and babysitters were too unreliable.  But I had a problem, I had always worked, always had my own money, and I didn't like "being dependent".  What to do?

You know, a creative mind can be a dangerous thing when left alone! One day while food shopping I picked up a new magazine called Country Sampler.  I came home and read through cover to cover and promptly called the editor directly at the time, Mark Nichols, to ask "how does a person get into this magazine?" he asked what i did and I told him quilts. He told me he was trying to find someone who did quilts to add to the magazine. PERFECT!  All I had to do was send in $575. for a years' worth of advertising, the same ad for 3 issues, send the quilts with the written copy and they would photograph them in a room setting.  Great! Now where am i going to come up with an extra $575. to do this with?  I wasn't in the habit of borrowing money but my muse was screaming "you've got to do this!"  I called my grandfather, explained the situation, he agreed to send it to me and i told him if it didn't work out i would go back to work to repay my debt.  I called my state tax office and applied for a tax number, picked a name and when my husband came home from work I announced to him " I'm going into business!"  Everyone thought I was nuts. " what do you know about running a business?" I don't know but I'll do it.  And so i did. The year was 1984 and Comforts of Home was born and i made custom quilts and continued to advertise with them for over 4 years until the influx of cheap quilts from china and other places made it so that i couldn't compete. I couldn't even buy the fabrics for what they were selling a finished quilt for!   It was also during this time that my husband and i purchased an old run down restaurant (1985)  spending a year renovating and opening in May of 1986.  Again i felt the tug between what I wanted to be doing ( my quilt business) and devoting myself to helping get his dream of the ground.

As with so many women,  a recurring theme in my life is choosing between my own ambitions and dreams and those of my loved ones. Devoting my time to them or me?  I always wanted to be a stay at home mom and when i chose to, it was an unpopular thing to do.  But to have a cottage industry, to be home with my children raising them AND to be able to follow my dream was a perfect combination.  I designed quilts using graph paper and prismacolor pencils (no computers with fancy graphics and quilt design programs back then!)and put fabrics together and worked while the kids napped (my son was born in 1989) , wrote my ads and created a brochure and it really fulfilled me. You see, Marketing , Art and Design.  I felt very blessed to have this but it was apparent- change was a comin'.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Relentless heat!

That's us, right there under that big red HOT on the east coast! Heat index to be 110* today! Looking for September!
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