Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did you know?

That you can custom make your own Converse sneakers? I did. My daughter gifted me a pair a few years back, but at the time black grommets were not an option, and now they are!

I'm thinking that I want to adhere some flatbacks here or there, maybe some pink ones or crystal ab, we'll see what mood strikes me when they arrive. Please do notice that they say MadDesigns on the hot pink heel stripe which matches my hair on most days.

Should you want your very own customizable Converse sneakers, the link is here.

Mine are pretty tame considering the possibilities.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There's a new icon

Yep, over there on the side bar, see it....

Something about Create Your Own Style? Something about Swarovski Elements? oh yeah, I think it says Ambassador.

Clicking on it will take you to Swarovski's Create your Style website where you will find a lot of inspiration.

It seems that as I've been designing using copious amounts of crystal, (I checked, an average kit uses a gross of crystal and that's on average, the fanfare bracelet? 14 gross) well it seems that it was noticed. I was asked to join the team of Swarovski ambassadors. This is all very exciting as I do love the multitude of sparkly shapes, colors and finishes available to me as a designer.

A quick look at the list of ambassadors and I personally know the vast majority which continues to amaze me. The luck I have being able to be inspired and connect with so many who share my passion for the sparkle.

Many thanks to the team at Swarovski for the recognition. And now, I need to go play with my crystals!


Romantica Special Edition

Not to be a tease, but this one is not quite ready.

It's a new colorway for Romantica. It also has a lot of different Swarovski components that I am in the process of sourcing. The cosmic ring is larger and the filigree beads with pacific and white opal pulls the entire palette together. It is such a pretty sample. I hope to make it available by late July when the filigree bead is scheduled to be delivered.

This is something I am trying, going back in the design archives and using new colors and components to bring the design into new light. I think the special edition rings of saturn in gold and silver is stunning.

I'll be using higher end beads and therefore there will be a higher end price, but I think in the case of a piece this beautiful it will be warranted. Next up is a new Victoria in the planning stages.
This photo is one I designed for Margie Deeb's color book

The new one will have Pacific opal and bronzes, touches of gold and the luster of mauve pearls. I just noticed a theme here.....but I think it will be a beautiful soft version of the now classic Victoria. It's been made and worn by a lot of mother of the brides and this new version will be wonderfully summery, perfect for a Caribbean cruise or an outing on a beautiful summer evening.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A permanent photo setup

It used to be that I would take out the EZ cube and set it on one of the two studio tables, the one usually reserved for the shipping department and pressed into action when I hold classes in the studio. It was never the most convenient set up and the tripod and lights were always in the way.

Since I've sewn less and less over the years I decided to move the sewing machine upstairs into the yarn room and make way for a table that can hold this setup permanently.

In front is the new sparkler light which has really made a huge improvement in lighting. This is a new ez cube that has grommets in which plastic rods can be placed and a piece can be draped or attached to the rods to film it as it hangs in the air. This is often a better shot then one lying flat, depending on the piece of course.

The vase in the back holds additional backsweeps, an acrylic cleaner, the various rods that can be interchanged and clips which help to clip the back sweep into place. There is also a little container of prop wax and some invisible line to help with suspending things. The top of this cube opens for taking a shot straight down, and an additional piece of fabric can be attached to the front which allows a small opening for the lens so that in a highly reflective piece you don't see reflections of the equipment.

There are a couple of more pieces I'd like to add, a tripod arm that allows the camera to be suspended over the subject and a backdrop that can be used with the black acrylic panel for drama shots with a halo. In time I'll do that, but for now I'm prety happy with this improvement.

The site where I purchased most of this equipment, Table Top Studio has a lot of good information for taking and improving product shots. I look at my early attempts and shudder, but I am improving.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life in Europe

Here is Mark looking thoughtful while he rests under this piece of Dutch art. We were always coming across the unexpected in our walks about town. I haven't told him yet, but wouldn't this look great in the back yard?

What did get done in the back yard this week was this!

Mark designed it based on a fountain in Balboa park. The front tiles are each tipped forward slightly. When the water comes down the face of the fountain and lands in the shallow pool of water at the base, small diamonds of light and water will be created in the pool. You can't see the texture here, but the white tiles are full of tiny round bumps which I love.

Here is a slightly more elaborate fountain in a garden in Paris

and in bead news I will travel to Europe this fall and teach in Germany at Das Perlament in Bonn Germany. I will meet up with Petra, Sabine, Martine, Kathrin and meet a few more German beaders.

First Mark and I will spend two weeks in Hoorn which is a good ways north of Amsterdam, staying at a friends home while they spend a vacation in our home in San Diego. Then we'll visit other friends in Friesland, and finally take the train to Germany. I've never been to Bonn, but at a knitting conference this past January I met a store owner of a yarn shop there. I am very much looking forward to my visit, friends, beads, yarn, history,'s going to be excellent.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Save the Pink Bathrooms!

That is the cry over on the Retro Renovation blog posted by Pam. I've been reading for awhile since Kate pointed it out as a great resource.

Kate, Jeannette an I all have homes with 1950's or in my case 1940's pink bathrooms. Mine had mint green accents, tub, toilet and sink. Kate's very own mid century kitchen was featured on today's retro renovation blog.

When we bought the house the floor tile was severely cracked and needed to be replaced. I think we did a fine job of creating a look which is in keeping with the rest of the bath. This room is probably 8 by 10 feet, which is a great sized bathroom. It is also the first time I've had my own bathroom, having shared with family or husband for all of my previous 50 some odd years.

Dancing Light

Dancing Light gets a new color

This is the piece I will be teaching on the Alaskan Cruise leaving Seattle on September 3rd. The first colorway is all bronzes and purples.

This one is softer with zinc metal beads and a pretty pale mauve. Swarovski in light metallic gold bi-cones and mauve glass pearls contribute to the softness of the palette. Choosing a pleasing color palette can be hard work, or like this one, the appropriate beads come together easily.

We're definitely going, but still have room for a couple of more folks so if you're thinking beading while enjoying the open water from Seattle to the inside passage sounds like a good trip you'll find more details here. Barbara who has put the trip together for Carole of Creative Castle, has managed to continue to provide the first price offered, so you'll be saving $200 over the May 1st deadline rate quoted on the flyer.

I'm definitely excited for the beautiful ship (I've sailed Holland America before and the ships are really pretty) the good bead company, and the amazing Alaskan scenery. Need to know more, for details.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A new beader in the midst

Grand daughter Samantha who is visiting from Santa Cruz took up beading during an art class this school year. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to encourage more beading so when she seemed interested in a swirly design I turned to Carol Dean Sharpe for a pattern.

The instructions are beautifully written and had everything a young beginning beader could ask for. Sam is well on her way and is loving watching the design evolve. Many thanks to Carol for her extra fast service so I could get Sam started today while she is visiting.

I started her out with delicas and black nymo from a cone. Yes, I do usually use fireline but then I usually use a million crystals. With a flat pattern I didn't feel the need and I can easily send her home with a spool of nymo. I've created a small beading kit with needles, thread, scissors, a triangular bead scooper and beads of course.

This is the child whose first rattle was a tube of beads and learned to say 'ooooh beads' when she was two. So I'm glad to see her picking up a needle and thread. She's a quick study and a natural so I look forward to seeing this bracelet done and seeing if she'll be interested in more.

Malayna's latest sweater is done!

I put the finishing touches on this sage green bolero sweater for Miss Malayna Pies today.

I had knitted up the shawl collar and attached it, but was not at all happy with the finishing. A final soaking and blocking made all the difference. I think I still don't prefer how the edging was stitched on, with all the different cast off, cast on and decreased edges to cope with. But it's wearable. The button was an after thought and stitched on top of a snap closure. It was designed to be open, but I thought the edges would have a tendency to flop.

The wool was a washable cashmere merino from Sublime which was a pleasure to work with. Next up is a swing coat, already knitted up by Judi Patuti for her grandbaby who is a few months older then Malayna, so it's a proven pattern. I have time since I want to make it a 12 month size for wearing this winter.

Santa Cruz to San Diego

Spending the weekend with grand daughter Malayna was fun and spending the car ride home with grand daughter Samantha also fun. Sam and I made a sport of trying to capture the El Camino bells on film.

This was not so easy at 60 miles per hour, trying to time the shutter click just right. We missed far many then we caught on camera but here is one of the better shots.

Down around Malibu where Highway 101 runs along the ocean and the train tracks, we got this shot.

There is something so romantic about train travel. In this country, it is not for the most part so practical, although there is the odd route like this one from San Diego to Los Angeles that makes sense.

When I go to Europe this fall I will travel most likely to Belgium and definitely to Germany by train. I love watching the scenery go by and the rhythmic quality of the movement.

Sam took over my camera and captured this shot as we moved through the coastal marine layer.

Our ride traveled through temperatures ranging from 98 to 59 degrees. A lot of micro-climates for one highway.

Sam in true teen age fashion is still sleeping, but we have a busy day of cooking, and beading planned. Although as you may know I don't typically do peyote patterns, I think it may be a good stitch for her to learn. She is doing square stitch that she learned in art class. I'm going to dig out some delicas and some pattern paper and see if I can pique her interest.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The trek home

We spent a love filled week-end with family and today we head home with older grand daughter Sam joining us.

She tried her hand at beading during art class this past year so I'm anxious to explore some designs with her and provide some encouragement.

Given that LA is between Santa Cruz and San Diego we need to arrange our timing to avoid rush hour traffic. We'll be stopping to pick Sam up and enjoy a leisurely Santa Cruz breakfast at a favorite spot before heading out.

A visit in Santa Barbara and perhaps dinner should provide the necessary timing to drive easily through LA arriving home early evening.

Sam wants to cook, bead, learn to make waffles, visit the zoo and eat Oysters with me. It will be a busy couple of days and I'm excited for them.

She's also a budding photographer so we'll take some pictures for you.

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Cutie patuti

Miss Malayna Pies and her Grandpa on Fathers Day


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Friday, June 17, 2011

Baby Shoes!

Well my afternoon of knitting yielded these cute little baby shoes!

They are the Posh Party Baby shoes I found while browsing Ravelry a night or two ago. They were an easy knit and made to match the bolero sweater which is an hour or two away from being done. The little yo yo's on front are compliments of my friend Susan who was playing with fabric and had a bag of yo yo's sitting around. I think they are the perfect compliment to the shoe.

It's Peonies season

and what could be prettier?

Every year about this time you can buy a bouquet of peonies at Trader Joes. Their tight small bud opens into this glorious flower.

Flowers are one of my sheer joys in life! That and babies, and that I'll get to experience tomorrow.

Grand daughter Sam will travel back with us on Monday and we'll find some wonderful thing to do together, besides eat oysters on the half shell which is an annual tradition.

Enjoy your Father's Day....I may be scarce but I'll be thinking of you.

Some lovely photos

With the new light set up I've been taking much better pictures.
I love the luster of the focal pearl in this shot

and the way I can see each fiber of the felted balls and each facet of the loch rosen embellishments

The Swarovski golden shadow pendant shows up nicely as does the pearl strung necklace.

Still some things to add. I would like one of the bars that gets added to the tripod and let's the camera dangle out over the subject. I think it may be called rails or it may be a different thing (I'm a slow learner) but I can't get my camera over some of the pieces for a true top down that I would like. And then I want the vinyl that is held behind the black acrylic with a light behind it to get better lighting when I use the black. I like the black for drama on the web, but it doesn't look very good in print for my labels or directions, so I'll be using it sparingly.

Still to do is find an organization of the existing photos that I can live with. One big mass of events is not working for me when I need to scroll through a million pictures. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong here, but I've yet to come up with a workable scheme. In the meantime I'm putting new pictures on the desktop which is not going to be a good longtime solution.

An unexpected beading deadline came up this week and I've been focused on it, finally sending off a package this morning. Now I have to regroup and see what I should have been doing this week. But for a beautiful Friday afternoon, I am going to sit and finish Malayna's newest sweater.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fathers Day

and family.....We made a choice several years back to move to San Diego. It's worked out for the most part, finding a house we love and weather that Mark especially is happy with. But what we gave up was proximity to family. Our daughter Casey lives nearby which is great, but son Brian, daughter Lucia and both grandbabies live 8 hours north of us.

Fortunately that is a doable trek which we'll be making this weekend. I need to see baby Malayna and hold her in my arms.

Skype and a picture every day have certainly helped us witness her growth and changes, but to hold her will be wonderful.

I'm working furiously to finish her latest sweater, a bolero cardigan out of Sublime, a washable cashmerino. With darling little baby shoes to match.

First though I need to do some weeding in the yard so that our new landscaping isn't overrun and then I have some things to do for the bead business before I can sit again with the fiber in my hands.

I hope I will regale you with pictures of a finished sweater tomorrow, we'll see.....

and speaking of the yard, plants are taking root and flourishing and this week tiling on the hottub surround will be complete and the fountain will be started. Progress!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Milwaukee

I transferred images from the ipad to the imac today and found a few more share worthy images of my time in Milwaukee last week. Hoot making the rounds at the Miller Pub party on Tuesday night.

Here with Huib Petersen

and Suzanne Golden

And here with Benjamin Bunny, who belongs to Dot Lewellan and travels with her like Hoot travels with me. They look pretty cute together.

Before the teaching began Mark and I had an opportunity to walk down to the lake one day and experience some of the wonderful architecture that Milwaukee has to offer. A particularly nice balcony railing.

The beading has begun, samples for upcoming engagements, and a submission to teach. A ring promised to a friend, and the amulet bag I am 'fringing' for the amulet purse round robin. So today will be for beading.....and trying to ignore the chain saw that Mark is using to cut up the remaining pepper tree stumps and the tile saw that Manny is using to cut tile for the fountain. It may be that a trip to Fry's Electronics and a pair of noise cancelling earphones are in order.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm taking a rest

But I still thought you might like to see some of the treasures I brought back with me from Bead and Button. It was a fun ten days with Mark joining me for the first three and the Bad Liz arriving on Monday.

I treated myself to Harold Cooney bead. This one I'm blaming on my Canadian friends Barb and Beth who had to show me theirs during dinner one evening.

Easily influenced I took myself to the showfloor on Friday and bought this. Not that my arm has to be twisted much to buy one of Harold's beads. They are so incredible.

I also bought a few trinkets from Art by Amy. My friend Janice arrived wearing a Rock Star pendant and I knew I needed one too. The booth was lively with vintage pink diner stools, and a chandelier full of baubles. Fun!

Mind you it's not that I go around thinking I'm a rock star, but at a show with this much talent, it is really easy to starting feeling unsure of one's own self worth. It's a nice reminder to celebrate one's self.

And I couldn't resist finally owning one of Christi Friesen's steampunk creatures.

Christi is a huge talent and so completely full of all of life's positives. She always has a kind word.

I've got a few more trinkets to share with you tomorrow and then I best get busy with preparations for Fusion Beads, Alaska, Portland and Germany. They will all be here before I know it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


from Lark poses with Hoot!

Beautiful work

Yvonne came to class wearing this exquisite cuff!

the medallions were inspired by Terracita. I love seeing gorgeous pieces like this!

And here is Yvonne

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Oh the beadwork I've seen

So many beaders in one place displaying their beadwork. It's hard to fathom the talent here.

Here is Martine's 'chocolate' version of crystal medallion bracelet.

It's a really sophisticated palette.

I stopped by the show floor for a few minutes last night and bought myself another of Wayne Robbins petite colorful frogs and some sparkly magnetic clasps from Ezel that I can't wait to work with.

Today is the last day for me. I'm teaching Aurelia and since it's new this year I have many of repeat students that I'll be seeing. Old home week!

A good friend will drive from Chicago for a lunch time visit and I'll end the week saying goodbyes. Fortunately there are plans in place to see many of my favorite bead people during the course of the year.

I'll take a couple of days off when I return and then it will be time to prepare next years Bead and Button proposals and bead up some more color choices of Dancing Light for my Alaskan cruise in September. There is still a short amount of time to join in on that fun.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Barely blogging

I know I've been absent.....teaching everyday for seven days and spending evenings with people I love has left little time for checking in with you all.

Classes have been great and thankfully teaching energizes me. I've shopped a little with two treats..... A kit from Sylvie Beads called 'Marcia Marcia Marcia' and a Harold Cooney bead which is beyond amazing. Do you know his work?

A collection of what he calls his best work. The white and black above is one of the things I bought.

But while I'm her Kate is parting with treasures. Definitely go have a look, there are beautiful things.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bead and Button

I have a fresh new batch of the getting famous JudiPatuti bead mats with me. She'll be in her second fabulous bead publication later this year.

There are so many wonderful prints that I'm having to restrain myself from owning a fourth one, so far that is.

You can come to the Kilbourn classroom 5th floor in the Hilton, after class any day this week to choose one of your very own.

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Monday, June 6, 2011


Today was day two of Abrege. Carmen finished hers and wore it from class, nearly unheard of for a seed bead class. She was fast!

-She agreed to pose with Little Hoot.

Annie Hesse of doll maker fame followed in the tradition of Maggie and Jean and gave Little Hoot a smooch fitting since she usually signs her emails muchos smooches

And here is Karen who I know from my New Hampshire travels holding Little Hoot as we both say a Hello to Cathi from Brad Creative.

And finally The Bad Liz arrived today and can be found here sleeping with Hoot.

Tomorrow we co teach Under the Mast II so it's time for goodnight. More Milwaukee news tomorrow.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Super Stars!

First day of Abrege and everyone is doing beautifully. I love that most of the girls have taken previous classes with me. It's always nice to have people who you've developed previous relationships with.

Carmel comes from Melbourne Australia where I taught in November, so it's delightful that she chose to spend two days with me. She's a fast fast beader.

Karen I know from classes in New Hampshire at Bead Creative and at Bead and Button.

In the back is Susan from Highland Park who knows all the Chicago girls I know.

It's a wonderful community!

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Saturday, June 4, 2011


I arrived Thursday evening to 45 degree weather making a walk to the lake on Friday morning quite pleasant. Since then, as happens in the Midwest, a warm humid air mass moved in and the weather got a little less pleasant.

But that was no deterrent for my outing today with Loose Bead Society's President Helen Dhams. Helen graciously offered to pick me up and take me in search of fiber. Starting with Fiberwoods where Deb Bednarek, a Facebook and bead friend, works. The yarn there is geared toward weaving with lot's of weights and colors wound on big spools as well as a lot of roving and unusual fibers. I bought some baby sweater yarn.

Then it was on to River Boutique which has an eclectic yarn selection as well as decor. The staff and owner were super friendly and the cushy upholstered chairs of their knitting circle were very inviting. I could have stayed all day. Instead I bought a Sublime baby book which had the cutest hooded aran style cardigan that I just have to make!

Back to the hotel for a session of beading.

A ring for a friend who admired mine. I captured a different dream in hers, but this shows you what the shrink plastic looks like. I rubber stamped it and colored it and wrote my message, this one for me. Trying to remind myself to be accepting of this aging process.

I used the little 1.5 squares in the row where I would usually put a size 11 and it's quite a fun change. I love making these rings, changing up the sizes and colors and of course the 'dreams' they hold.

It's off to dinner at Osteria Del Mundo, a recommended Italian restaurant down near the lake.


Thursday, June 2, 2011


On his way to Milwaukee!