Saturday, February 25, 2012

February Reader's Challenge REVEAL...

Today marks the last and final Reader's Challenge that includes a Design Kit from me.  The February Design Kit sold out within minutes and was nice way to finish this series.

The Design Kit included a Simple Truths piece by Erin Prais-Hintz, a ceramic bead from Keith O'Connor, a polymer clay round from Pam Wynn, lots of dyed jade, vintage plastic, pink opal, rosewater opal glass, fuchsia Swarovski crystals, vintage glass, organza ribbon, irradiated shell, Czech glass, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend was truly lovely!  It was made up of ToHo seed beads, Miyuki seed beads, Czech glass, pearls, vintage glass, rose quartz, and other semi-precious stones!

The Mystery Components that no one saw until today consist of enameled rounds from me!

Curious to see what the participants made?  Me too!  Make sure to stop by their blogs and comment on the nice jobs that they did!  Here's a list of the participants who are revealing their pieces today:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Speed Bumps...

I've not posted lately.  It's not for lack of material.  By golly, there's a backlog of photos from Tucson, snapshots from gallery openings, and various projects in the works... but I haven't felt too much like writing lately.  The biggest reason is that I've found another bump.  It's not far from the original skin cancer site and frankly... it has me a little worried.

I've been trying to be positive and keep up with things, but there's a niggling little thought in the back of my mind... "Maybe it's cancer again."

After my first diagnosis, I had such a weird feeling of being betrayed by my own body.  My cells were rebelling and fighting against me.  All my life there has been adversity of some form or fashion, but all of it came from outside forces.  Prejudice, bigotry, loss... all of them could be weathered.  With enough inspiration, creativity and vision... I could see past the things happening around me in favor of something bigger, brighter.... better.  But when the very fabric of your body turns against you... there's a sense of powerlessness.  And when you feel that amorphous sense of being out of control of your own destiny, it never really leaves you.  A little seed is planted.  As a survivor, you carry that seed around with you, that it could happen again.  The possibility is there.  And there's worry that that seed could one day sprout and that terrible creature could strike again and that picture you've worked so hard to create... could... just... fall.. apart.

So, yes... there is a new little bump and no, it's not definitive if it's cancerous or not.  Hopefully it's just an ingrown hair or a stubborn pimple or a blackhead that won't go away... and that with a little more time, it will go away.  I have spotted it and will be monitoring its growth and should things get worse, I will definitely head to the doctor's to hopefully catch it in an earlier stage this time.

Sometimes there are unexpected speed bumps that come along; you can either be derailed completely by them or continue on.  I wish to carry on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day...

I'm taking a break for the moment from the Tucson recaps to say, "Happy Valentine's Day"!  I hope that your day is full of love in all its many incarnations and forms!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lima Beads Party...

After my day at the Swarovski, we headed over to Lima Bead Party!  They always throw a wonderful get together!  Everyone always has such a nice time!  I know I did!

Q and Andy of Urban Beader.

New trend for 2012... aluminum foil accessories!  Jewelry-makers will find a way to turn any household item into wearable art! 
 Another example of the latest trend!  She makes it work!

 Bonnie, Ali, Marilyn, and Danielle.
A dance party broke out in the kitchen!  I've covered the faces of the participants to protect the identities of the dancers involved!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sparkling Good Time...

 I had the distinct pleasure of joining Margot Potter for the first ever Design and Creativity Challenge hosted by Swarovski!  It was a special treat, because I rarely get to take any breaks when I'm in Tucson.  Usually I am too busy to do anything but work the shows.  So, taking the day to play and create with Margot at the Westin La Paloma was particularly sweet.  We had an intimate group of six participants who were all great fun!
 No one was cutthroat and mean-spirited.  In fact, everyone was very supportive and kind.  I had a great time!  I was a little surprised by this, because usually in a competition atmosphere, people can get nasty.  But all the other participants were just amazing!
 The first part of the workshop was devoted to creating a design board.  I do this as a regular exercise in my own studio, so I felt really comfortable.  I wanted to embrace color and really wanted to work with warm, rich tones in my challenge piece.

After a short break for lunch, we got down to it.  There were several tables loaded down with crystals and mixed-media supplies and tools.  It was just like a scene from Project Runway!

An idea popped into my head and I ran with it.  I created another collage with colored magazine pictures in the same burnt oranges and tangerine color family.  I then poured 5 minute epoxy over it and embedded crystals and seed beads.  The goal was to wash the paper backing off, leaving the ink embedded in the resin studded with crystals.  Then I was going to use the heat gun to manipulate the resin into these crazy, sculptural cuffs.  BUT... just like on Project Runway, sometimes even the best of plans just don't work out.  The resin started cracking and broke into jagged chunks.  I tried to fix it with more resin, but the more I used... the more it looked like someone tried to swallow crystals and threw them up.  Yuck!

I knew that my crystalized vomit design would not cut it.  So, I quickly went to Plan B.  With an hour and a half left, I went into overdrive to produce something that I would be proud to put up for competition.

This is the piece that I ended up creating.  One of the challenges was using the "mystery ingredient", which was cuplink chain.  While I like the look of cuplink chain, it's not particularly the easiest material to work with.  But I used it in a focal pendant, where I layered some filigree with a piece from TierraCast and a crystal-encrusted component in the center.  This was all attached to some Grunge Board by Tim Holtz that I painted gold.  I then used some filigree fans to dress up the focal and attached a small fortune worth of Swarovski crystal components.  I tied for runner-up!

I had a fantastic time and really enjoyed myself! I definitely recommend taking this workshop!  It was so much fun and we ended up taking a ton of swag back!  I had a wonderful time with Margot and the rest of the participants who did WONDERFUL jobs!  We had a champagne toast to celebrate the winners!
Swarovski outdid themselves with this venue!  It was beautiful!  The Westin was situated at the base of the Catalina mountains and there were gorgeous views.
 Here is Leslie Rogalski out on the balcony.  Isn't she a doll?
 Doing a "renegade" demo of crystal iron-ons, Stephanie Dixon was showing how it's done!
 It's always delightful to see Krystal Wick.  She's such a positive force within the community and it was great to practice posing for pictures with her!
 I feel like the words "Fusion Beads" and "Swarovski" go hand-in-hand.  Here is Katie Wall and Mari of Fusion Beads.  It was so nice to spend time with them.  I adore them! Cynthia and I will be teaching at their store in Seattle in April!  Keep your eyes peeled for more details!
What would a Swarovski event be without Marcia DeCoster?  I didn't get to spend much time talking with her this year, but I had to make sure to snap at least one picture of this regal lady!

You never know who you're going to meet at Swarovski!  I got to meet First Lady, Michelle Obama... just kidding!  Her name is Lisa Wright and she's the author of, Oh No He Didn't!

I also got to see Anna from Kalmbach, who's working on another book.

The happy hour at Swarovski was definitely a nice way to end the day there.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Limited Edition Pre-Order...

Before I left for Tucson, I made a couple of different prototypes for pieces.  I had originally wanted to place them for order before I left for the desert, but just didn't have enough time.  A friend of mine suggested that I put them up for pre-sale!  There are three new designs:  Freedom, Love Grows, and Waiting for Spring.

I had made this link a few weeks ago, but didn't quite like the hole placement in the original.  So I moved the holes and am really happy with the results.  I think it might be nice to add a dob of colored resin to the heart cavity or some colored two-part resin clay.  I like the idea that there's a freedom to fill it with what you want or don't want.  And I like that the bird is not afraid to fly.

A friend of mine gave me a potted plant when I started seeing my partner.  It was a tiny thing in a tiny pot – just a few leaves in a yogurt cup.  Over the years, the plant has flourished along with our love.  The roots have grown deep... so deep that they've needed to be repotted at times.  Those tiny things have grown into trailing vines, healthy and very much alive.  That was the inspiration for this piece.  That love grows and if you let it... it'll flower.

Before I left for Tucson, I looked out on the landscape and took note of the barren branches.  Normally it makes me a little blue, but this time it didn't. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of potential.  It was a building and budding energy, waiting to explode with spring!

All three of the pendants are available for pre-order.  Since I'm still away, I won't be able to finish and ship them off until I return home.  Each particular style is limited to twenty designs and once they're sold out... they're sold out for good!  CLICK HERE for the "Freedom Pendant", CLICK HERE for the "Love Grows Pendant", and CLICK HERE for the "Waiting for Spring Pendant".  Ordering these pieces now will help me get more money to purchase supplies and goodies while here in Tucson, which I would be very grateful for!