Monday, August 29, 2016

Swarovski Fall/Winter 2017/18 Innovations...

Twice a year, Swarovski launches new products.  They just announced their Fall/Winter 2017/2018 Crystal Innovations.  As always, I find it a treat to see what they've come up with!

I have to say that the new launch includes some things that I'm very excited about.  I'm smitten with the Crystal Rainbow Dark and the new Iridescent Red Pearl.  Both of them are darkly romantic.  I also really love the new Swarovski Eye Pave Pendant and the Cross Tribe Pendants.

When looking at components, I sometimes evaluate whether or not a piece already has content.  In the case of seed beads, for example, there is indeed a lot of content, but it's subtle and they are more like building blocks.  With art beads and particularly ones that are very iconic, I consider those to have "instant content".  You can string it on a leather cord or a chain and it's already laden with symbolism and conveys part of that unspoken narrative.  I love how the eye pendant has that "instant content".

Now, the slippery slope with instant content is that it isn't universal and what it may mean for one person, may not be the same for the other.  (I know lots of folks who do not like "evil eyes" and therefore would not share my love of the pave pendant.)  And that's sort of my reaction to the new Male and Female Stones.  Like I get that they're cool and there's a lot of innovation in producing them, but they're just not my bag of chips.  I'm all for symbols... but these don't resonate with me.  I feel like instead of celebrating equality, they sort of highlight the differences in genders.  And I know that there are definitely differences between men and women, but I never bought into the whole Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus thing.  I'm sure that there are many designers out there that will take these components and do wonderful things with them, but they just don't pluck my heartstrings.

The new launch includes the Swarovski LacquerPRO Colors.  And I think they're brilliant.  If you look at any of the Pantone Color Reports, you'll notice that more muted and less technicolor hues are on trend.  The new LacquerPRO Colors fit this perfectly.  The Dark Grey Lacquer looks like it was kissed by smoke, the Dark Red Lacquer looks like a deep beautiful red wine, the Crystal Ivory reminds me of old piano keys – rich and warm with age and use, the Royal Green Lacquer makes me think of Dorthy adventure to see the Wizard in the Emerald City, and the Crystal Royal Blue Lacquer reminds of old comic books and that particular shade of chromatic blue.

Swarovski has a bunch of other innovations, including new stone shapes, flatbacks, and accompanying settings.  To see the full launch, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

BeadFest Philadelphia 2016...

We've been back for about a week now after our trip out to Philadelphia for BeadFest.  Normally a group of locals packs up in an SUV and we make a whirlwind day trip – driving over in the morning, walking the show, and then driving back!  This time William and I were manning the booth for my family at Green Girl Studios.  We also had a small selection of Allegory Gallery pieces available.  Despite being a little tired from running ourselves ragged, we had a nice time!  As always, one of my favorite parts of the shows is seeing old friends and meeting new people.  After so many years in the community, it's like a great meeting of the Tribe.  Makers from near and far all gather and we share in that creative energy.  We had a lot of great conversations and some awesome ideas for projects sparked to life!  Some of them are incredibly exciting and I can't wait to share more about them!

Since we were working at the show, we didn't really have a chance to get out of the booth very much. When we did, it was very quick shopping excursions to restock the store.  (We found a delightful selection of hand-dyed silk cord, components from Saki Silver, pearls, and gemstone strands.  We also did a little shopping at our own booth and restocked on lots of Green Girl Studios pieces!)  I tried my best to have my phone at the ready and snapped pictures all weekend long.  I tried to post them on Facebook each night to share in the experience.  (Normally we hang out after the show with our fellow artists and friends, but both William and I were so worn out that we grabbed take out or ordered in and then promptly went to bed every night!)

Without further ado, here are a few of the photos that I took during our trip to BeadFest Philadelphia:
Laurel Ross, Alison Adorns, and Donna Hoblit.

Kate Richbourg, Candie Cooper McCourt, and Gloria Allen.

Jenny Davies- Reazor and Nikki Thornburg, Marti Brown, and Tammy Jones.

Eva Sherman, Erica Cessna and Marsha Neal Minutella, and Maureen Henriques.

Michelle McCarthy, Saki Silver, and Anna Draeger.

Francesca Watson, Maria Richmond, and Dana Groves.

Patti Cahill, Diane Hawkey, and Marianne Kasparian.

Joan Miller, Meredith Roddy, and Ren Farnsworth.

Like I mentioned earlier... because we were at the booth most of the time, I didn't really get out much to shop.  I did manage to find a few things for myself.  It's not the largest of hauls, but I'm happy with my pile of goodies.

I found some incredible stones!  I found a few strands of tourmaline, hessonite garnets, chalcedony, amazonite, rainbow obsidian, jasper, kyanite, peach moonstone and more garnets!

I had to pick up some pearls for a customer and while I was finding things for her, I found these lovely heishi pearls.  I have a weakness for irregular pearls with a lot of character!

I've been a long time friend and admirer of Patti Cahill.  I've been enjoying her experimentations with fusing glass and have been stalking these cabs on her Facebook business page.  I made sure to make a beeline over to her booth to pick up a few to play with!

I've also been really enjoying the cabs that Joan Miller has been making lately!  I was lucky, because Joan and Patti were right next to each other, so I could do a little one-stop shopping.  I'm dreaming up some lovely earrings with these porcelain cabs!

Another person that I follow on Facebook is Staci Louise Smith.  She is mostly known for her polymer and metal clay, but she is abundantly creative and has been making prints recently.  I knew that I wanted and few and was lucky enough to scoop a few up before the show closed.

 Here are a few of Staci's beads!  Aren't they fun?  I love how organic they are.  They have a wonderful primal energy to them!

Our neighbors from across the aisle came all the way from Russia!  I found a lovely assortment of toggles and findings from Anna Chernykh.

We had a great weekend, but William and I were both exhausted.  We've been working really hard lately and have been running on fumes.  William ended up getting sick on the trip and is still trying to shake it.  It seems like every trip we have taken this summer, one of us ends up sick on the way back!  I'm looking forward to spending some time in the studio and making lots of pretty things with the pieces that we picked up in Philadelphia.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Twin Lakes...

I stood on a narrow strip of land, between two bodies of water.  As I marveled at the tumble of clouds and the shimmering ripples, I could feel the breeze come up off the waters and the sun on my face and arms.  Echoes of laughter traveled across the water.  I felt very much there.

Yesterday, I replied to a group of bloggers that I belong to.  One of them had commented on how the participation on their blog and the numbers of their daily readers had dwindled.  I've noticed this too, but I sort of just figured that it was because I wasn't investing much time into the blog.  Like any relationship, if it's not nurtured it'll eventually wither.  Over the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about what I had left to say... if there was anything left that I wanted to say.

As I looked out on the water and the sky, I noticed the mirrored balance.  All around me was a sense of completeness.  Ahead of me and behind me and all around me were forces held in a delicate equilibrium.  And it was there in me too.

I've rarely felt in my life a total sense of well-being and wholeness.  For most of my life, I've walked around with a mystery in my heart, an absence that ran so deep that I thought it was just another dimension of who I was.  Never did I realize that there would be a day when that mystery would be solved.  Never did I see myself truly happy.  I always saw myself as someone who would always see what was missing, always searching for what was gone.  Strangely I find myself glutted on fullness.  Now that I've sat at the banquet table of life and had a big meal, I'm ready to rest.  I'm ready to pat my belly and nod off with a slow smile on my face.  As I type this out, there's a beautiful cat purring and trying to nap as I tap out my thoughts.  I'm sitting in a room, in a quiet house, filled with love and good memories.

So... where do we go from here?

I always come back to gratitude.  Be humbled by the blessings in life and operate from a place of appreciation.  I think when I was younger, when I thought of gratitude, it was a concept that existed to fill the void of what was lacking.  Now my challenge is to operate from a place of quiet contentment.  I know that there are faults in the world and there are things that could be fixed, but somehow all that seems like just a passing shadow... and not the vista.  Now is the time to reach within, and go deeper than ever before.  Go deep, knowing that I'm grounded in contentment.  Now is the time to listen to the words that I've always wanted to say, but never knew how to form, to learn a new language made manifest by a healed heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Nature of Clouds...

Blood rushing in my eardrums, sweat pouring down my face, and slightly out of breath, I stood on top of the mountain and took in the view.  Stretching out before me like rumpled blankets, the distant mountains seemed almost fuzzy.  I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that what looked like plush flocking was actually the canopy of innumerable trees.  I knew that if I had been standing next to any one of them, the tree would have been much taller and more imposing than me.  But from here, it was just a small, distant thing.  It was a tiny dot of green amongst a rolling ocean of the color.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Tucked under a stack of books, I found an old journal.  As soon as I picked it up, I knew exactly what it was.  I had spent hours scribbling in it.  The feel of it in my hands was so familiar.  I found one entry where I had pressed the pen so hard into the paper, I was surprised I hadn't punctured the page with my letters.  I ran my fingers over the deep grooves and recalled without having to read what I wrote what troubled me.  At the time, it seemed so monumental.  I remember how angry and sad I was and how it seemed like I would never feel anything but that.  And now... it was just a small, distant thing.  Had I not come across the journal, I doubt I would have even thought of what once made me so intensely overwhelmed.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Whenever I am upset or perplexed with how I am going to handle a situation, I try to remember that slightly lightheaded feeling of standing on top of that mountain.  I try to remember the sky, so vast and seemingly endless, and how it spread out above me and outward.  Light filtered through the fast-moving, masses of fluff.  The clouds arrange themselves in a morphing picture.  One minute I can make out a face in the clouds... the next, an elephant.  Up so high, it's almost as though I can reach out and touch one and run my fingers though it, shaping it and forming it.  I try to imagine my problem as a bug.  It is a bug on a leaf, on a tree, surrounded by other trees, surrounded by more trees, on a mountain, surrounded by other mountains.  The bug is there... to be certain... but it is so small in comparison.  We can spread our arms heavenward, or stare at the mosquito.  I choose to think on the nature of clouds.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Essential and Necessary...

Sometimes when I get frustrated, I ask myself... "Is this essential? Is this necessary?" Surprisingly, the answer is almost always a resounding, "NO!" Though, the answer isn't always clear at first. The human mind can be a trickster and invent a thousand scenarios where that which is causing internal conflict can be validated and assumed to be unshakable. In these cases, where it appears to be necessary, but there is a linger doubt, I ask myself again: "Is this essential? Is this necessary?" The purpose of this exercise is not one of redundancy, but one of finding the truth.

While we may never condone lying to others, I have found that it is deceptively simple and very easy to lie to ourselves. This is especially problematic for those who are naturally more empathetic. For instance, if someone is cruel to me, I am a master of rationalization. I think to myself, "Maybe they're having a bad day? Maybe I did something to offend them? Maybe there was a miscommunication? Maybe they got stuck in traffic... maybe they lost their keys... got a flat tire... woke up on the wrong side of the bed... etc. etc. etc." But at the end of the day, this does not change nor negate that they were cruel to me. And so I circle back to... "Is this essential? Is this necessary?" When it comes to cruelty or frustration, rarely is it ever essential or necessary.

So you've identified that the situation is not essential nor is it necessary. What then? Once true honesty is reached, it can seem like things are locked in a standstill. You've fought valiantly to arrive at this personal epiphany... and then? Then comes action. When you have determined that is or isn't needed in your life, you give yourself permission to make decisions about how to handle your dilemma. Usually after rigorously questioning yourself, there is a sense of perspective that is achieved and the answers fall into place. The answers aren't always pretty and the consequences to your actions can seem scarier and more difficult than the original problem, but if that which is causing you anxiety or apprehension is truly unessential and unnecessary, then it makes doing what is essential and necessary somehow easier with the comfort of this knowledge.  That knowledge gives us courage to do what needs to be done to be happier, healthier, and more productive.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Thinking Fall 2016...

Back in February, when Pantone announced their Fashion Color Report for Fall 2016, autumn seemed a lifetime away!  Now that it's August, fall is just around the corner and the first tinges of the new season can be felt in the air!  Truthfully, I like to revisit the Color Reports from time to time.  It's not just because their color palettes and color combinations are endlessly inspirational, but I really admire their thoughtful approach to color.  They recognize the power that color has on our lives and how it can be a reflection of our times.  Leatrice Eiseman wrote, "The desire for tranquility, strength, and optimism have inspired a Fall 2016 color palette..."  With everything going on in the world, these words couldn't be more apt.  CLICK HERE to visit the Color Report for Fall 2016.  I encourage you all to take a few moments to read through the report and spend a little time with their interpretation of the color forecast.

Also, keep your eyes peeled!  The new Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2017 should debut in about a month!  This report usually surfaces in early September and includes the future Color of the Year (which is normally announced in early December), so it's always exciting to take bets and see what the new annual color will be!


As I'm ramping up my blogging again, I decided to finally claim my blog on Bloglovin'.  It's a really cool and EASY service that allows you to follow blogs through your email.  I just discovered that people were already using this service to follow my blog... so why not make it official?  If you'd like to keep up with my latest posts, click the link above.

Bead&Button Show 2016...

I've had these pictures on my desktop since we returned from Milwaukee.  As a result, I've seen them every day for almost two months.  They make me smile, remembering how nice it was to see so many friends and familiar faces, but I'm determined to mark things off my "Things To Do" list.  Each year, I do a big round up post of all the pictures I took at Bead&Button.  This is one of the things that has sort of been hovering over me.  (Usually it's done in a more timely fashion, but better late than never... right?)

Normally I do a pretty extensive write-up to go along with all the pictures, but I've already added most of these to Facebook and have already tagged and captioned them there.  I think this style of photo essay sort of captures the blur and enormity of the event.  We fit a lot into a few days...

Mark Making...

Lately, I've been searching for a more meaningful way to connect to people on the internet.  I've been a little overwhelmed with the onslaught of emotions on some of the other social media outlets, and decided to try and reconnect with my blog after being estranged from the routine of updating on a regular basis.  I've had the intention for a few months now to try and really get back into the habit, but it just hasn't clicked.  After reading yet another post about senseless violence and brutality, it finally pushed me over the edge.

As I visited my blog (admittedly for the first time in several weeks) and looked closer, I realized just how neglected it was.  If virtual tumbleweeds and cobwebs existed, they would have been here.  The header banner was one I had been using for far too long and the sidebars were littered with dead links.  I systematically went through the lists and realized just how daunting of a project this would be.  Whereas once I used to keep daily accounts of my friends and colleagues through my blog, as a sort of springboard into the activities of the blogosphere and beyond, I've since replaced and supplemented it with other social media outlets and as a result, have not been diligent in maintaining a presence on my blog.

So far, I've done some cosmetic changes and done a cursory once over.  I'd be lying if I said that it didn't make me a little sad.  So many people who I once used to hold a daily communion with, even if over the invisible threads of blogosphere, have disappeared or moved on.  I read post after post about people distracted by life, saying farewell, and hoping to be better bloggers in the future.  Some of the posts were months old... some even years old.  They felt like carved initials in a tree trunk, with some letters freshly scored and others... fading into illegibility.  I felt guilty for not being there to wish them well on their new ventures or encourage them to keep going.  All was not completely lost though.  A few links were bright and fresh, with newly updated posts.  Even with some of the blogs that have ended, I know that they've just shifted their focus and their energy and I can keep up with them in other ways.

As I ran my fingers quickly over the imaginary gouged out letters, I felt a splinter or two prick my fingertips.  I found remnants of former friendships that have since ended.  For a few brief moments, I thought about attempting to reach out and mend fences.  Then better judgement kicked in.  There were reasons why certain relationships ended and a dead link on a much neglected blog isn't a compelling enough motivation for me to revisit those missteps.  Why dwell on the negative?  I've started already, but it will take some serious time for me to go through the lists and cull those who I no longer resonate with or are who are no longer active.  Even more time will be necessary to add new links and highlight new friendships and business relationships.

Just like a forgotten tree house, it'll take time to beat out the rug, blow off the dust, and repair all the creaking, loose boards.  And maybe if I hang the flag high enough and make my tree house inviting once more, some of those friends who I miss and who used to post the most brilliant, beautiful, moving things will do so again.  We'll throw our heads back, hoot and holler, and shout out into the wild – calling our kindred spirits to us.  I'll invite them over for tea and lemonade and animal crackers.  We'll swing on the tire swing and make new memories.