Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Word: Shine...

This week's word is "shine". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the word. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Allison Shock...

One of the things that I love about the house I'm staying in is that it's filled with Allison Shock's work. Morning coffee is elevated above utilitarian purposes and transformed into a communing with art and desert creatures when sipped from one of Allison's mugs. She is a talented ceramist and thinks about all the surfaces, even the bottoms.

Allison was participating in the Camelback Studio Tour and I jumped at the opportunity. Dustin and I hopped in the car yesterday and drove the two hours to Allison's studio and home of her company, Three Star Owl, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

We followed the path to Allison's backyard, where she was set up. I was instantly impressed. Around her were creatures made of clay – owls peeking from cacti, desert lizards, and sweet honey bees. The pots, bowls, and vases of varying sizes had sprouted hooves, eyes, and limbs. Some were studded with skulls. Seeing the pieces en masse was a delightful pleasure, almost akin to stepping into wonderland.

On another table, Allison had a station set up where she demonstrated her hand-building techniques. One of the passerby studio tour attendees asked her if she was baking bread. She smiled patiently and described her process. While she was not baking bread and creating sustenance for the body, she was creating sustenance for the soul. Good art feeds the heart and mind.

Allison's yard was a paradise of cacti and succulents. Bordering her pool was a wall of potted desert plants. Some of the pots were of her own design. I saw one skull pot in particular that made my heart race. Again, I was deeply impressed and it made me miss my own collection of succulents.

She also had several feeders hung up. Birds flitted to and fro, searching out food and sharing song. Occasionally Allison would see my eyes dart, following the sound of a woodpecker or the buzz of a hummingbird and mention exactly what kind of bird it was and various interesting facts about it. For instance, a woodpecker's head is mostly made of bone and tongue. The tongue, curled up helps cushion the small brain as it pecks away and then is extended to retrieve goodies from the burrowed holes.

Across the way from where she lives is a military base of some sort. A huge chain-linked fence topped with barbed wire surrounded this desert place. Most notable was the large rock formations. They had unusual holes and caves and looked like a giant anthill. Occasionally a structure could be made out and it left me wondering if the mountain itself would open up or housed secret laboratories or missile silos.

It was a real pleasure seeing where she works. The day was overcast and it was moister than usual in the desert. Creosote bushes scented the air sweetly, creating an intoxicating perfume. It felt almost dream-like, smelling sweet smells, and seeing a magical place where an artist creates.

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day
Expressing her love for daisies, Lisa uses scrapbooking embellishments to make a quick and cheerful bracelet! Jewelry Making
Winter white can mean bitter cold or a beautiful double strand pearl and matte glass bracelet.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gets your creative juices flowing with a treasury inspired by the monthly challenge painting.

Beading Arts
Cyndi is wrapping up a month-long emphasis on education for jewelry and bead artists.

Beading & Books
Do you use buttons in your jewelry? Michelle is hosting a Button Swap. Sign up to get a partner, trade buttons, and create something!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Do you use any sewing techniques in your jewelry? Come see what Cindy's sewn up!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
A fun find at an antique store uncovers new inspiration with some women's medicinal history and a crazy folk song

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
After a very busy couple of weeks, Lorelei finally has time to share some pictures from a recent trip to Spain!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Come and see what the amazing Kim Miles has been up to as Winter turns to Spring--You will love it!

The Bead Dreamer
Inspired by the poet Rumi and a gorgeous pendant from Green Girl Studios, Charlene creates a necklace using beads, fiber, a button - and of course - the pendant.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Want to win some FREE ImpressArt metal stamps from PJ Tool & Supply? Andrew hosts another Thursday Giveaway with a prize valued over $70!

Friday, February 25, 2011

PJ Tool Jewelry Giveaway...

If you've been following along the blog, then you'll know that right now there's a great set of ImpressArt letter stamps from PJ Tool Jewelry up for grabs in this week's Thursday Giveaway. BUT... there's another way to win! Head over to their Facebook page, upload a picture of a piece created using ImpressArt Metal Stamps, and then get as many people to Like that picture as possible! The picture with the most likes by March 13th at 5PM will win a set of stamps of their choice OR $80 worth of design stamps! CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page. CLICK HERE to check out this week's Thursday Giveaway.

Studio Soundtrack...

I've been busily working on lots of projects that all seem to have the same deadline – the next few days. I sometimes wonder if there's a special alignment of the planets that make various days more popular for the Powers that Be to pile up the due dates. It's a mystery. I try not to think about it too hard, but just work on trying to get as much done as possible. As a result, I've been putting on the dark coffee and been turning up the music.

Below are some of the songs on my playlist:

Cross Bones Style, Cat Power
Dr. C, Alias & Tarsier
Untitled 4, Sigur Ros
Werewolf, CocoRosie
Come Rain Or Come Shine, Billie Holiday
To Be Alone With You, Sufjan Stevens
Faking The Books, Lali Puna
Runaway, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Rainbowarrirors, CocoRosie
Remember Me As A Time of Day, Explosions in the Sky
Sweet And Tender Hooligan, Nouvelle Vague
Mad World, Gary Jules
Point of Disgust, Low
Each Coming Night, Iron & Wine
Fade Into You, Mazzy Star
Slow Moves, Jose Gonzalez
Blue Skies, Lady & Bird

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Giveaway...

This week, one lucky winner will take home a set of NEW ImpressArt metal letter stamps courtesy of PJ Tool & Supply. The metal stamps are precision cut from carbon steel and come in a convenient plastic carrying case. Up for grabs is the uppercase Wonderland stamp set. These artist-designed stamps are whimsical with an air of fantasy and Art Nouveau elegance! (The set has a $70 retail value!)

As a BONUS prize, this week's winner will also take home an ImpressArt Design stamp of a wing from the Animals & Nature Series!

What I love about metal stamps is that they make customizing a piece of jewelry easy. Personalizing components doesn't require a trip to the local engravers or extensive equipment. All you need is a hammer, a metal block, and the stamps and you're on your way to creating one-of-a-kind creations that literally spell out your artistic vision.
To enter to win this set of letter stamps PLUS a BONUS design stamp is very easy! All you have to do is comment on this blog post. One lucky winner will be randomly selected from the comment section of this blog post on Monday, (February 28th) at midnight EST. Make sure to leave your name if it doesn't already appear next to your comment for easy verification. (Anonymous comments without a name will unfortunately not qualify to win these great prizes!) This giveaway is open to all participants, including international readers.

Bonus Points: You can earn extra chances of winning this beautiful set of fine pewter pieces by blogging, updating your Facebook page, and/or Twittering about this Thursday Giveaway. Please include a link to the PJ Tool & Supply website and link back to this blog post to qualify! Don't forget to add your act of social media kindness as a separate comment for your additional entry to win!

Extra Bonus Points: Take a visit to the PJ Tool Jewelry – ImpressArt Facebook page and LIKE it. Once you've successfully LIKED their fan page, head back over here and leave a comment saying that you've done so. CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page. Their Facebook page is a great place to find out more! There you'll get new product releases, the latest company news, information about fun contests, and a unique glimpse at the minds behind PJ Tool & Supply. It's also a great platform to share images of work you've created with other ImpressArt metal stamp enthusiasts!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview: Marianne Kasparian

Marianne Kasparian, more commonly known as Mak, is the owner and artist behind MakuStudio. Creating work from Raku, she makes pieces of astounding quality and beauty. The pieces she makes are organic, earthy, and fine examples of the technique she so adores. Mak travels the country, doing trade shows and selling her work. She also sells online via her website and her Etsy shop. For more examples of her work, CLICK HERE to visit her website and CLICK HERE to visit her Etsy shop.

Andrew Thornton: You work primarily with raku, can you describe how you first became interested in this ceramic technique and what appealed to you?

Marianne Kasparian: I love raku! It is truly my passion. I took 3 years of ceramics in high school and absolutely adored it. Unfortunately, as my life progressed, I did not touch clay again for about 15 years. It was then that I started doing some serious soul searching...trying to figure out my purpose in life and find my passion. Tapping into my love for clay, I took a ceramics class in
Sedona, AZ in 2000. It was there that I did my first raku firing and was instantly hooked! I am so drawn to raku. I love the fire, the earthiness, the matte black of the smoke. I love not knowing exactly how a piece will turn out as I pull it out of the reduction bin. I love the perfectness of the imperfections. I love all the creative possibilities with raku and the fact that there is no right or wrong.

AT: How does a typical day in the studio progress? Can you describe your artistic process?

There is no "typical" in my day in the studio! My mind doesn't work like that! I can say that for the most part, certain days I work on creating pieces with the wet clay. Other days are strictly devoted to glazing and others just firing. On the days that I am creating, I usually start the creative juices with just pinching off a lump of clay and playing...anything goes. I set no limits, nor tell myself that I "have" to make something specific. Other times, I begin playing with the clay and try to get out an idea that's been churning around in my head for months. Other times, my pieces reflect my view of things that I've seen in nature...the hummingbird that comes and sits on a limb in front of my studio space, patterns in the clouds in the killer Arizona sunsets. Or, things that I've picked up off the ground like chards of glass, rusty screws, twigs, etc.

As far as the actual process of getting to my final product:
*first I create the pieces
*then let them dry and sand the pieces to make sure backs are smooth and there are no sharp protrusions of clay
*then I bisque fire them in an electric kiln to harden them and get them ready for glazing
*then I wash the pieces to get any clay dust off them so that the glazes look good on the final pieces
*then I glaze the pieces (this is the most time consuming!)
*then I raku fire the pieces in an outdoor kiln (which my husband and I built ourselves).

The raku firing involves a fast firing that goes to over 1800 degrees F (for the most part), then pulling the pieces out of the kiln while they are red hot using special gloves and tongs and placing them in a reduction chamber (small can) filled with organic materials such as newspaper, leaves or sawdust; the organic materials catch on fire and the lid is then placed on the can; the fire wants oxygen to keep going and pulls it out of the glazes themselves; smoke is created, creating the matte black look of raku wherever there is no glaze; the pieces are left in the can to cool, then removed and scrubbed clean of the ashes and voila!

There are many variables involved such as the weather...temperature outside, wind; how fast I go from the kiln to the can; when I put the lid on and many more!

AT: What an amazing process! And an amazing journey to get to this point! Can you tell me what it was like to see your work incorporated into someone else's jewelry design for the first time?

MK: It was really beyond my wildest imagination! I am so fascinated and constantly intrigued and amazed by the creations of others using my work. I am so grateful that my work inspires others in their own creations. I think that is what I strive for...for others to be inspired by what I do and what I create.

AT: Speaking of inspiring, what do you do to keep inspired and do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?

MK: I just took an intensive three day raku workshop with some of the masters of raku... Steven Branfman, Jim Romberg and Eduardo Lazo. I'm excited to start incorporating some new glazing and firing techniques into my work! Of course, very exciting is the "Caged Heart" class that Sherry Serafini is teaching at the Bead & Button Show
this June! She is using my raku heart as the focal piece. Thank you Sherry!!! I'm also quite honored to have had one of my raku pendants chosen for the "500 Raku" book by Lark Books coming out this March! Other than that...we shall see...the possibilities are endless! Right now I'm still recovering from Tucson and the workshop!

Thank you to everyone who supports me and my raku! I wouldn't be where I am without you! And, I'm excited to continue my raku journey!


I got a request the other day to add someone's blog to my Blogroll. Instead of just adding it, I instead redid my entire blogroll structure. Instead of having a static list that I woefully tried to alphabetize by last names of people and the first letters of companies, I added separate widgets that would automatically update the order by when the last person or company published. Not a new concept, but I always dreaded the task of inputing all the old blog addresses.

This though, in conjunction with my Top Sites on Safari will help expedite my blog reading, which I try (sometimes with little success) to keep under an hour a day.

I also added a couple different NEW Blogroll categories. For example, "Blogs I Like (but wish updated more)" and "Capturing the Moment Blogs". When I read the blogs that I frequent regularly, after I check my Top Sites, I systematically go through my lists on my blog; I was getting tired of stumbling across blogs that infrequently update or have not done so in a year or more. I didn't want to kick them to the curb though, so have created this new category for them. When they do post again, I'll see their names move right to the top of the list! It's not meant to be hateful or harsh – just a way of streamlining my day. The Capturing the Moment Blogs are all the current blogs from our past workshop attendees. (Yes, I keep tabs on everyone who took the workshop and comment regularly.)

It was a lot more work than I had anticipated doing last night/early this morning, but I think it'll pay off in the long run.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Tucson Loot...

While I was working on some projects last night, I realized that I never posted pictures of the loot I scored here in Tucson. It's true that I didn't take home quite as many goodies as I did in previous years (still paying off all those pesky medical bills), but I did manage to find quite a few treasures that needed to be added to my dragon's hoard.
Below are pictures of some of the things I took home. Captions read from left to right:

Enameled Components, C-Koop Beads. New Craft Wire, Soft Flex Company. Galvanized Lucite, The Hole Bead Shop.

(I did want to make a note saying how grateful I am for all the discounts and complimentary goodies I received from my friends and fellow vendors. I don't think I could have even amassed this many beautiful treasures if it weren't for the good graces of my fellow artisans. Thank you! I will make beautiful things with your beautiful work.)

Thursday Giveaway Winner...

The winner for this past week's Thursday Giveaway featuring fine pewter components from Green Girl Studios is Fireflymyst. Congrats! Be on the look on Thursday for another chance to win!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekly Word: Boundless...

This week's word is "boundless". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the work. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It rained today. It hasn't rained that many times since I've been here in the desert. It was unusual to see the sky cloudy and overcast, to hear the thrum of raindrops as they hit the metal awning. Tap. Tap. Tap. It was a lulling song. I found it hard not to fall asleep.

Although it was chilly, I opened the window. The smell of wet creosote and wet, red earth wafted in. It wasn't a smell that I was familiar with since it had rained so little. It was pleasant – floral, but at the same time, slightly musky and sharp.

As I looked out the window, I could see hummingbirds cheerfully flicking about in the rain and the frostbitten leaves seemingly extending skyward, drinking up the consistent sprinkling of water. All around me, it was like the thirsty earth was sighing with relief and quenching its parched dryness.

I greedily wished for bright, blue skies.

Beaded Links...

A 1 minute jewelry project? Lisa shares a swarovski component that can be used to make a SPARKLY ring!

For gemstone fanatics, earrings are the perfect way to enjoy fast projects that include all their favorite stones.

Art Bead Scene loves a wall of beads. Stop by and see if you don't love it too!

Have you heard of a hair fascinator? Come see what Cyndi put together with a handful of Swarovski crystals and a length of thin gauge wire!

Michelle shares a behind-the-scenes look at her work doing technical edits on a jewelry magazine.

A new bronze pendant from inspired this new necklace from Carmi.

Cindy shares her "DO" for the week. Come take a look!

Melanie explores the old craft of paper quilling in an experiment combining the technique with resin for jewelry.

Jean reviews a comforting and beautiful book for beaders which she herself has often turned to as a "bridge over troubled waters": Beading for the Soul, by Deborah Cannarella

Book Review: Steel Wire Jewelry. Love alternative materials and modern, whimsical jewelry design? This book is a must have. Project one is an earring wardrobe! Read the review in full.

Andrew gets in touch with his inner "Calder" and hammers some wire.

Art Bead Scene February Challenge...

The prompt for this month's Art Bead Scene Challenge is the painting, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" by John Singer Sargent. Although I've been busily scrambling around to meet deadlines, answer emails and catch back up after the Gem Shows and teaching, I wanted to take some time to create something for this challenge. I love the painting and its luminosity. I can almost smell the heady fragrance of the flowers in the garden and feel the cool of the early summer's evening.

I don't use a lot of pink in my work, so I'm always looking for a creative challenge to force myself to utilize it in a design. This was the perfect opportunity to encourage me to expand my creative horizons.

Above is the bracelet that I created. It is composed of a mix of art beads; the ceramic floral focal is from Golem Studio, the enameled flowers are from C-Koop Beads, and the fine pewter floral toggle is from my family at Green Girl Studios. I used these components with a mix of German silver, Swarovski crystal pearls, Vietnamese ceramic rounds, violet opal and light rose satin Swarovski crystal bicones from Fusion Beads, and some candy-colored pink opals I picked up from Scottsdale Bead Supply.

I like the design. It's simple and sweet, and I think it captures the essence of the garden. The pink opals also have the same luminous effect as the lanterns and play off of the opaqueness of the ceramic rounds and the lustrousness of the navy pearls.

Bead Soup Ingredients...

Lori Anderson of the Pretty Things blog started an online event called the Bead Soup Party. It's a more than just a bead swap, but a creative challenge started to inspire and encourage designers to step out of their comfort zone. My partner for the challenge is the mixed media artist and jeweler, Brenda Salzano. Brenda hails from the Northwest and has a very earthy aesthetic. CLICK HERE to check out her blog.

Above is a picture of the "ingredients" for my Bead Soup: a handmade ceramic focal pendant from Brenda, vintage shell bird fetishes, copper Indian bell dangles, a bluejay feather, polished agate, a vintage German button, bone tube beads, twine and an assortment of vintage glass beads. What a selection! I am excited to participate and am dreaming up all kinds of ideas of how to use these unique components. CLICK HERE to see what I sent Brenda.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fare Thee Well...

I sit here in the house alone. It is quiet here, save for the sound of the wind in the trees and the whale song of the ice machine.

Even after that, there is much to look forward to. We have many plans, forming and shaping and swirling into being. So it's just a temporary goodbye – a temporary parting of ways.

I try to imagine what it was like before spending countless hours together, when the solitude of the woods was my standard. I try to imagine how I managed without my friend. My heart aches at her leaving, but there are many adventures yet to be had and many more chapters left to be read.


I decided for this week's Weekly Word prompt, I'd make a piece of jewelry. The word for this week is, "Passion". Here is what I made:

I wanted to spotlight the great components from Melanie Brooks of Earthenwood Studio. The punches of red in this design come from her fiery heart components. I also used two of her round links with the black quartz and gunmetal jump rings and chain.

The wire-wrapped chunks of quartz remind me of rosaries and the length of it has the heart pendant from Earthenwood Studios falling exactly at my own heart. The pendant becomes something more than just a jewelry component, but a reminder to live each day with passion.

Blood: An Exhibition...

What does it mean to live? The new group show featured at Sacred Machine on Congress, Blood, attempts to answer this morbid curiosity. Whether it's the glinting gore of Chris Mars' visceral oil paintings or the cartoonish surrealism of Charlie Immer, the pieces in this show push the viewer, sometimes uncomfortably, to ask themselves, "What does it mean to live? To die? To suffer? To love?"

The pieces have equal power to repulse as they do to endear. Standing back and watching the faces of the passerby audience at the opening made this clear. A delighted smile was as common to find as a grimace in this Tucson museum and curiosity shop. This is the power behind Blood: to entice and seduce and then reveal and explore the mortal condition.

Also on view are the new works by resident artist and co-owner, Daniel Martian Diaz. The new works make a point of reclaiming old symbols and exploring the layers of what's real, what's earthly and what's divine. The dichotomy of monster mouths and crowns that stud the show exemplify this – a parallel of the sacred and profane.

One of the great things about seeing a show at Sacred Machine is the ambiance. The work (which can be seen by CLICKING HERE) is shown alongside antique oddities and every opportunity to excite visually (and even audibly) is taken. Whether it's a live performance during the opening by a talented guitarist, or interesting lighting fixtures and gilt frames in the bathroom, every chance is seized.

I definitely recommend stopping by Sacred Machine to check out the new show and support local artists who continue to carve out a niche and succeed at doing so.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Inspired Wire...

Did you know that Calder made a series of animal-inspired wire jewelry pieces? They don't get as much attention as the showier pieces like "The Jealous Husband", but he created several based on the creatures of land and sky. Above is a piece that I created loosely inspired by his work. It's created out of bent and hammered brass wire with copper wire accents. I had intended this deer to be the focal to a woodland themed crown, but we'll see. After I hammered it out, I lost touch with the vision of it atop a crown of swaying reeds made of patinated hammered bronze wire.

Lollipop Shop...

The other day, while we were showing Dustin around 4th Avenue, we stumbled across a cute little store called, the Lollipop Shop. Open less than two weeks, this bright, technicolor shop specializes in Japanese Pop Culture. I love the mix of Hello Kitty merchandise and Mark Ryden postcards. It's a great little shop and I can't wait to see how it grows and develops. CLICK HERE to check out their Facebook page and become a fan!

Breakfast of Champions...

Whenever there's any extra bread, I whip up a bread pudding. It's a great way to use up bread that would otherwise be thrown out the next day. The one shown above is made with apricots and toasted walnuts, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a splash of Maker's Mark. A true breakfast of champions, no?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Inner Calders...

I got out a stamp set from PJ Tool & Supply. You should definitely check out their new line of metal stamps called ImpressArt. The stamps come in a variety of fun fonts and interesting characters. I definitely recommend them. Not only are the stamps really nice quality, but the guys running the show behind the scenes are awesome!

Above is a bracelet that I hammered out. It was a nice re-introduction to forging and working with such heavy wire. While it is simple and unembellished, don't let it fool you. It took hundreds of blows to hammer out the heavy-gauge wire and forge it into a bracelet. I love the texture of the hammer strokes and their uneven beauty. It has the nice feel of "sturdy". When I'm dead and buried and a dozen more generations walk among the earth and are interred themselves, this bracelet will still be around unless it is purposefully put to an end. It's the kind of thing that the archeologists of tomorrow will uncover. The blows of the hammer – the hammer held in my hand – will ring on far into the future.

Big Rooster...

A little over a month ago, someone saw what she thought was a fabulous rooster belt buckle (which we have since determined might actually be an eagle-or-other-bird-of-prey-swooping-in-for-the-kill belt buckle). Ever since then, we've been joking around about making our own rooster belt buckles.

We were at Preen on 4th Avenue yesterday and she saw some awesome vintage, metal, cockfighting rooster wall plaques. (Notice the small spot of oxidation that looks like an injury on one of the roosters.) She snapped them up and I said, "I can totally make a belt buckle like one of those. Easy!"

We laughed and it was sort of filed away under the "Andrew Talking Big" file.

Imagine their surprise when I produced this polymer clay rooster belt buckle prototype this morning! Once I do a few finishing touches, like burnishing some of the rough spots and crisping up some of the details, I'll make a mold of this bad boy and press out some BronzClay and then mount it with rivets to a buckle. I'm thinking of enameling the background of the buckle.

See... like I said... "Easy!"

Thursday Giveaway...

I took a few weeks off from the Thursday Giveaway to devote my energy to my students and to working the Gem Shows. Now that I've finished up, the weekly Thursday Giveaways will begin again!

We'll start things off right with a BANG! This week, one lucky winner will take home the BRAND NEW fine pewter pieces from my family at Green Girl Studios! These pieces debuted in Tucson and are so new that they haven't even been listed on the website yet. Included in this week's prize are two fine pewter toggles, an assortment of charms, links, and beads; the lot of components has an $80 retail value! To check out more work from my family and examples of our work, you can visit the website by CLICKING HERE.

To enter to win this lovely combination of artisan made jewelry components is easy! All you have to do is comment on this blog post. One lucky winner will be randomly selected from the comment section of this blog post on Monday, (February 21st) at midnight EST. Make sure to leave your name if it doesn't already appear next to your comment for easy verification. This giveaway is open to all participants, including international readers.

Bonus Points: You can earn extra chances of winning this beautiful set of fine pewter pieces by blogging, updating your Facebook page, and/or Twittering about this Thursday Giveaway. Don't forget to add your act of social media kindness as a separate comment for your additional entry to win!

Extra Bonus Points: Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment here afterwards. Becoming a follower is simple. Find the widget on my sidebar to the right and click, "Follow". Don't forget to add an additional comment for your extra chance to win!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview: Jeannette Cook...

Jeannette Cook is the owner and creative force behind Beady Eyed Women. She is a talented artist who uses beads as her medium and is the author of several instructional bead-weaving books. Jeannette has taught around the world and continues to do shows across the country selling finished jewelry, kits, and tutorials. To find out more about Jeannette, visit her website by CLICKING HERE or visit her blog by CLICKING HERE.

Andrew Thornton: Many of your designs incorporate bright colors, organic shapes and sparkling crystals. How do you come up with your ideas and what influences this "signature style"?

Jeannette Cook: I'm drawn to bright colors. So color really is its own influence when I work. Sometimes I have a lampwork bead that I pull my color palette from. Sometimes I just see an object that has colors I love and I run to my bead stash and pull together a color palette based on that.

AT: You were one of the first beading teachers before the Bead Shop Boom, the explosion of How-to-Jewelry-Making books and the mega shows registering 600 classes. What are your impressions of beading classes now? How have things changed?

JC: Back in the early days, there were no handouts and no kits. Students were as new to classes as teachers were. There were no bead shows, few books and no magazines when I began teaching. People would bring a note pad and pencil to take notes with during class. They learned by just beading. Then teachers would do a hand drawn and photocopied brief handout. Projects were much simpler then, so that worked.

As projects got more complicated, so did the handouts. Now they are amazing! There are programs to illustrate beads. Students at shows and in most classes are much more demanding. Classes are quite expensive now. There were about six nationally known teachers when I began, now there are hundreds!

AT: What is your teaching philosophy? How do you prepare yourself for tackling a class full of new students?

JC: My philosophy is very customer service oriented. I want my students to get the most out of a class as possible. Having fun in class while learning is also very important. I try to help people stop and slow down and play with their beads. No bringing work or home stresses to class, if possible. This is our fun time and time to create. I ask that all cell phones are turned off or on vibrate if they must have them on. Then, take it outside.

I prepare by making sure that students already know the basic stitches when they arrive in class. After teaching for more than 26 years, I have seen it all. I will send a tutorial if needed and ask that people learn the basic stitches that will be used in the project before they come to class.

AT: Out of all your kits, classes, and tutorials, what are some of your favorite designs?

JC: I still love Freeform Sculptural Peyote Stitched pieces. My all time favorite is the GeoMagical Frenzy Necklace. You will see me wear it a lot at shows. I made five of them! I sold one and still have and wear the rest. I adore the beaded vessels I made years ago. They don't get to travel since they get mashed in transport.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


During the workshop, we talked a lot about making it easy for people to communicate and how it was good to encourage commenting. I've tried in the past to disable the Word Verification and Sign In option with mixed results. While it promoted commenting, I also got lots of spam and some rather nasty anonymous comments. I threw up every defense possible to keep them at bay short of disabling comments completely.

I think though that I'm going to do another test run. I'd like see if the new Blogger Spam Detection will help and if those lurking in the shadows with ill intent have been weeded out by long months of no anonymous release.

We'll see...