Monday, December 29, 2008

Sammy's got the Deep Sloth Blues

Uncle Paul and Sammy Playin the Deep Sloth Blues

Hooboy. We opened gifts on Christmas Eve, and junior gave my brother a carved wooden sloth, with a hooked tail for hanging upside down. Lord knows what goes through my bro's head sometimes (but it seems to run in the family) -- but he showed up on Christmas morning with his steel guitar and the sloth, which he introduced as Sammy, discreetly hanging from his pocket and an impish grin on his face.

He took out the guitar and began to play the blues. After a few bars he gave Junior a wink and pulled Sammy out of his pocket. And the rest is cell phone video history. We shot two more takes after the first song. Unfortunately I don't have video editing software to trim the ends, but honey when I do, Sammy the Sloth will be the next YouTube phenomenon! ;-)

Doesn't Sammy look like he's totally scared
spitless and praying his tail off???


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bird House Brooch

recycled jewelry bird house pin
Bird House Brooch
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya

While I was pre-Christmas cleaning I found a bag of jewelry I had forgotten I made. (Maybe that's why the MOTH gave me BrainAge for Christmas???). I decided to put my little Bird House Pin in my Etsy shop, with this nod to Leonard Cohen:

"Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in the midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free."

Today I plan to photograph some more of the lost-and-found jewelry. I think that's why I had put them in that baggie to begin with...

Brain fartfully yours... 8-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Paz

Amazingly, I got my work table clean in time for Christmas Eve. It took hours. (This time, I didn't shove everything in boxes under the table and put an extra long tablecloth over everything.) This time, I sorted. I organized. I rearranged. I packed. I put things in little compartments and drawers and baggies. I had bought two beautiful little dark wood mult-drawer rolling carts which had stood basically empty all Fall. I labelled them very discreetly with little old fashioned letter stickers -- r, o/y, g, b, v, etc., and filled them with the junk, er, I mean, supplies off my table. Well, not filled, just organized.

Last night after everyone left and I had put the food away, it was very late but I got out a little bag of goodies I bought at Mama's Minerals' 50% off sale yesterday, and it was so awesome to be able to look at my new beads, then turn around and pull out the exact beads I thought would look cool with them.

Organized. It's a whole new world! But I can't wait to mess up my table again. ;-)

Oh and in other news, unfortunately a relative has developed a problem with alcohol and like others in our world and yours, it's gotten progressively worse, because that's what alcoholism does. Thanksgiving was awkward and a bit uncomfortable although the relative isn't a crazy drunk. So my DH and I decided it was once again (something you have to do now and then over the years) time to declare our home alcohol free over the holidays. We called the relative to let them know, very simply and not in a mean way, and although it seemed to go well, that entire portion of the family decided it would be more fun to go to a casino for Christmas Eve. (lol ;-)

I know we did the right thing. There was a time when I had a sign in my house that said, "Mi casita de paz" -- my little house of peace. I'm certainly compassionate about alcoholism, and for that matter addiction and mental health issues and all those other things we don't choose to be afflicted with, but if there's anywhere on the planet I have some rights to choose my influences, it's in my own home. I wasn't so surprised the one relative chose to stay away, but I was disappointed that the others didn't come.

So today we travel to another relative's for Christmas Day. And maybe we'll meet up with our drinking relative, and maybe we won't. But I know, whatever happens, it will be ok.

Artdoodads Etsy Treasury

Kewl -- Artdoodads, an Albuquerque-Etsian, included my blue apatite bangle ring in her "Soft and Pretty" Etsy treasury. Thanks!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gregory Cajete and bell hooks Poster

Here's my finished poster project from my Adult Learning class. Meet my "friends," bell hooks and Gregory Cajete. Well, you met them not long ago in their unfinished state. Many thanks to my classmate John who took photos of all our presentations. This might have been the most fun I'll ever have in grad school. ;-)

I will post some links later to some great videos of hooks and Cajete as well as John's wiki he created as a resource for Adult Learning theories.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Morning Glory Antiques & Jewelry

vintage christmas tree brooch
I fully intended to post something bloggish yesterday, but I ended up spending the better part of my late afternoon wandering instead through this wonderful website of a local vintage jewelry dealer! Oh. My. Just take a look at the finds there, and the resources. I find a lot of inspiration for new bead embroidered jewelry designs, strung jewelry, and even wonderful color combinations by studying vintage jewelry. And now that I seem to have a vast stash of rhinestones, I found the designs intriguing in a new way, too.

I have lots to blog about but I think I'm in regroup mode after a busy, busy Fall and I just don't want to do anything I don't have to do. I don't even want to do anything I have to do, but I'm faking it, just for today. I do have a new artist profile coming. She probably thinks I forgot. ;-)

My bro comes in from Boulder tomorrow, and then I'm officially in vacation mode. We will celebrate his birthay at Tucano's -- in Gmail chat: "Hey bro, we were thinking of taking you to Tucanos for your birthday." "Sure, you know I'm always up for free meat." <--You would have to know him to know how true that is. Put it this way, last year he bought me a gift certificate at Thomason Stone Supply and when I got there to spend it, the guy who works there said "I think I remember him." I said, "He looks kind of like a small grizzly bear." And the guy said, "Yeah, I remember him." LOL.

I suppose I should cook next week but first, I need to clean my house. I mean, I need to clean it OUT. Anything that's been on the floor for more than a week is subject to dumpster review. Anything that's been next to the sink for more than a week will be boiled and bleached. Anything that's been on the bathroom floor for more than a week will be burned in the firepit. This morning I was walking through the house trying to put on a bracelet, and I tripped, I kid you not, over the space heater, the dog, and my husband's shoes (which are responsible, over the last 20 years, for 2 broken toes -- my toes.) Once outside, I turned my ankle in a hole in the driveway. My living room is like an obstacle course. We have four tray tables and two of them are full of things I plan to photograph. What are the odds I'll be ready for extended family (and select friends who have a high tolerance for my style of housekeeping) by Christmas Eve?

Hahahahahaha! Well, there, I guess I blogged after all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From the Archives

LOL! I found this while rearranging & archiving some images on my computer. Why did I make this???? I have no recollection. Was I trying to spice up my marriage? (hint -- that's not my real face, so I doubt it.) Update my professional portfolio? (er, which profession are we talkin about here?) Wow. Who knows... but the file was named "atthecasbah.jpg" LOL.

Monday, December 15, 2008

100th Etsy Sale!

Woohoo and yippee! Today I sold my 100th jewelry item on Etsy and how perfect that my BFF was the customer and my best-selling earrings, the Fairy Tree Wings, was the item. Thank you Sarah! Her secret special customer prize was a Paypal refund. ;-) Merry Solstice, GF! 8-)

And speaking of Etsy, I've finally been able to stock up my supply shop in the last week or so, with new vintage rhinestones, new sequin colors, awesome little coin charms, a neato Victorian jet nailhead beads that I've never listed before. And there's more to come. Anyone who is a member of my Yahoo Groups announcement list, MaryTafoyaBeadwork, gets a 10% discount in my supply shop (seriousbeader), and if you live in Albuquerque you might also qualify for a meetup delivery to save you a bit on shipping (see my shop policies about that).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Teenagers and Menopause

know, I know. TMI. The hot flashes started about three weeks ago (during dinner with Betcey and Mark no less). I feel like a pot bellied stove, heating up from the inside out. They truly are power surges. And I'm thinking -- what if I went out and bought some menopause herbal remedies and gave them to my young teen? LOLOL! Do you think he would take up knitting instead of... well, texting for one thing.

In other local news (hehe), I thoroughly needed the night out to OFFCenter last night. What a long week. (picture me bleary eyed, slump shouldered, weight of the world type of look) I sold 5 pieces of jewelry which was totally fun because I usually sell just 1 thing on opening nights. The band was great, and good friends showed up. Mama's Minerals plugged the show in their e-newsletter, and several people I don't get to see often dropped by on their way to and from other openings.

And so now that the aforementioned young teen is at a party, I'm off to Flying Star for a quick soup date with the MOTH (man of the house). See ya!

P.S. Seven days til end of semester... tick tock tick tock zzzzzzzzz wha? I missed class??? (I'm having school dreams again...)


Monday, December 1, 2008

OFFCenter Holiday Show

Please come to OFFCenter's fundraiser, holiday and birthday show. Bonnie Bluhm will help celebrate with live music. Over 40 of us artists will show our work -- basically the gift shop will be expanded across the entire gallery.

The shows opens Dec. 5 and runs through January-something. And the opening, this Friday, Dec. 5, starts at 5:00 p.m. and lasts all the way until 10:00! Woohoo! If you arrive after 6:00 there is a $5.00 admission fee and you get a raffle ticket with that for an art/door prize.

OFFCenter, in case you live around Albuquerque and aren't aware, is a free open studio in downtown Albuquerque, where anybody can come in and work peacefully. The artists get to keep a very high percentage of the selling price of their work compared to other galleries.

I'll have some jewelry in the show -- mostly pulled from my Etsy shop, so if you have been wanting to see the stuff up close and personal-like, come on by! Here are a few things I'll have hanging:

OFFCenter is located at 808 Park Ave SW, Albuquerque. It's caddycorner from the Hotel Blue, kind of on the southwest side of the new-ish turnaround on Central Ave., not far from the bars, y'all. There is lots of parking next to and across the street from the gallery.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I am so used to getting maybe six hours of sleep, I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night and woke up at 4:30. Got up and wandered around the house (don't you love that time of the morning?), then went back to bed and flipped channels until I settled on the first episode of a Jon and Kate plus Eight Thanksgiving marathon.

I am grateful I'm not Kate. This was an early episode and she looked absolutely sleep deprived. I'm still sleep deprived, 13 years later, but at least I don't have to change diapers. 8-)

I'm also thankful my SIL didn't get upset that I didn't call her until 9:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to see what I should bring. And that she didn't get mad when we showed up at 4:00 p.m. because I'd fallen asleep and couldn't wake up, LOL. I'm thankful my husband's uncle is the funniest ornery man on Earth. He had us laughing yesterday until we were slinging snot and holding our hurting sides.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, thankfulness. I hate to say I'm grateful to have a decent job and a roof over my head when so many people don't. But I am, more and more each day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obamax font!

Oh! Oh! I've got so many posts and whatnot lined up for this blog but I keep getting distracted.

obama font

Check out this new Truetype freeware font from over at -- it's by Adam Chilota and it's called Obamax!

Hee hee. I love it! These images are made for this blog background -- but you can download the font to your computer, and then just type with it, any size, any color.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Life photos at Google

If you love to find sources for old photographs, you will really enjoy this. Google is hosting a huge image archive of photographs from Life Magazine.
Here's a link to my search for images of New Mexico, where I found the photo above.

And here's the URL to the mail portal:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bead Show Albuquerque

pent a good part of yesterday shopping at the bead show (Fairgrounds, Flower Building, or maybe it's called Children's Art? still going on today until 5:00), and then counting my new goodies when I got home.

Then we went to dinner with Betcey, Mark, Nikia and John at Zea's (for the second time this week!) and Junior got home and decided, once again, that our friends are "crazy" and "fun." That is high praise from a young teen, huh? :-)

The show was small but intense, with more than one Chinese vendor selling dubious stones and cheap lampwork. I recommend that you buy your stones from local shops -- there are plenty of deals to be had with better quality stones. Mama's Minerals and Thomason Stone Supply are two shops that come to mind. There were lampwork artists at the show who seemed to be doing very well, but (no offense) the really well known artists were not there. Better deals anyway, from the up and coming folks. 8-)

Betcey and Mark's Beyond Beadery was a wall full of glitter, as usual. I love Mark's unique bead mixes and stocked up on plenty of colors for my beaded cord bracelets.

I also found some good deals from a Nepalese couple out of San Francisco. I think they are called Dorjee (at least that's what my receipt says). I bought little pairs of faceted glass and stone teardrops, capped in fake silver with Tibetan-style swirly designs in them, to make earrings for Christmas presents. (Actually I'm thinking of going back today for more to make earrings for my jewelry shop).

And of course I stocked up on silver findings from Ands Silver. And I found some really cute vintage heart lockets that I'll use in a charm bracelet. (Like I need more heart lockets... [sigh] well these have a little indentation on the front, perfect for collage. 8-)

Today I have a million things to do, photography, laundry, prep for OFFCenter's holiday show, oh and maybe actually STUDY for my final project. Tonight it's the Elephant Bar after the show, yum!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Goddess for a Day?

Just not the particular goddess I would have chosen to be. Multitasking -- always makes me think of Lakshmi tho I know that's not what she's about. Y'all. Today while Betcey and Nikia were being pampered at La Bella, :-P~~~ I converted a big PDF into little PDF's (in between phone calls and emails) so I could save them as Word documents in order to convert them to HTML files I could then open in Dreamweaver and apply a stylesheet to. With a minimun of tweaking or actual thought. If anybody can think of a quicker, easier, hopefully mindless way to do this, feel free to let me know...

And then I drove (or rather rode) to Santa Fe CC for a presentation, and on the way realized I was coming down with the same odd little bug that Junior stayed home with today. It consists of a stinkin headache and a woozy tummy, and that's about it. Just sayin', in case someone out there gets it -- don't worry, you prolly won't hurl. During the presentation I sketched out an online course interface and some new sequin stitches, LOL.

Me and my coworker grabbed a quick and delicious lunch at Blue Corn Cafe, despite my tummy, then I raced into the kitchen store at the outlet mall to buy Junior an omelet pan for Christmas. (Shhhh!) They grow up so fast. ;-)

Then I came back to work just in time to leave again to pick up Junior's homework. I was going to speed back to work when the woozies hit me again and then I realized I'd get back 15 minutes before it was time to go home. So I popped into OFFCenter real quick to pick up -- Yay! -- a check and find out when to bring in what jewelry for their holiday fundraiser. Oh! It's Dec. 8, 2008 and there will be live music by Bonnie Bluhm!

At home I sat on a chair and vegetated for, oh, 10 minutes and then started picking things up (the force of gravity in this house is AMAZING, things seems to land on the floor more often and stay there longer than anyplace else on this astounding planet). The MOTH (man of the house) brought home groceries -- including ginger ale, thank goodness -- so after it got dark I sat on the couch, ate ginger cookies, and made up a few pairs of those twisted wire earrings they seem to love so well at OFFCenter.

Then I helped Junior review for a test and checked into my online course. I got sidetracked and converted some more PDFs... and now the turtle is sitting there staring at me forlornly as if to say "My Turn." [sigh].

Tomorrow we finally get to meet up with Betcey, Mark, Nikia and Big John at Zea's. Woohoo! (I hope I don't fall alseep in my big greek appetizer platter).

GOODNIGHT! 8-) from the some-kind-of-goddess-with-many-arms

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update: Remembering Cindy

The folks running the Remembering Cindy shop at Etsy have recently restocked the shop with bead doll goodies galore. There are lots of beautiful and affordable tiny art dolls, jewelry, paintings and other creations. As I mentioned in an earlier post about this charity effort, all the proceeds go to the American Lung Association in memory of bead artist Cindy McCornack.

I bought the postcards -- and oh my! I don't know why but I didn't realize I'd receive each style as a large size postcard. For some reason I thought they'd be either the smaller standard size or that there would be a picture of all four mystery panels on one card. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I received four suitable for framing sized art images. They are very affordable, and of course it's for a good cause and in memory of a very generous member of the online beading world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Have you met TED?

I may be gone for awhile -- gone as in lost in this wonderful site full of videos on many topics:

A colleague turned me on to the site during a conference we're hosting this weekend. You've got to see, for example, this video of amazing camouflaging and bioluminescent sea creatures:

Oy, I am totally sidetracked... can hardly finished posting... searching across the themes at TED... gotta run. 8-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Bookshelf

custom bookshelf
Here's the built-in bookshelf that Ibrahim made for us. He built it in three sections, installed it in the house and then put molding along the ceiling and in front of the sections to cover the seams. Beautiful! It's maple.

I took this picture when it was first installed. At this point we have it more arranged, with all the DVD's and CDs up, and some of the books. Notice that Ibrahim built us a sturdy shelf for Squirt the Reluctant Turtle (she surved pneumonia at a very young age, but now I'm pretty sure she'd make a hearty meal for four...oh! I didn't say that!)

He also left a space for a small antique desk my mother gave my husband. Please ignore the retro turquoise chair. The MOTH (man oh the house) had found the brown multidrawered thing at Goodwill and brought it home for a mere 20 bucks or so. However, I had no idea what to do with it -- it is big and heavy, not at all petite (and neither is the turtle tank honeys). So I was going to give it away or something... and then we went aha! I'm gradually migrating family art supplies into the drawers, like gel pens, colored pencils, string and embroidery thread, pipe cleaners, etc.

I also now have a place for all my grad school books, papers, class binders, etc. I hate to throw all those research articles away after all that work... now I have a great spot to pile them up, sorted by class.

Next step is another maple shelf, a pony wall actually, with more space for DVDs and software disks, as well as a few games and heirloom toys.

Oh and speaking of home improvements... we got a beautiful new patio door, it actually opens and closes without waking the neighbors! It's also double paned and much warmer. Not an intentional improvement. But how can you fault Junior and his new ricocheting BB pistol when we really did need to replace the door anyway? Hmmm. I wonder what I can buy him so he'll break the old toilet?

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Sorry for my absence of late. I am in grad school and, well, every now and then, I have to study. AhahahHAHAHAhahahAHAHAHAHA [<--sound of panicky, maniacal cackling] I'm working on a paper. We are to write about significant events on our learning journey, and so far I've discovered that it's hard to separate things in one's life. They are so interwoven. So yeah, it's interesting, but demanding when you've already got a full-time job AND that creative urge that's always tugging at you 24/7.

Enough whining. Now, more whining: I've had two migraines in the past month. I think it's from allergies as well as turning on the heater. I always get them in one certain spot, behind my ear. After several hours, all the muscles around that area hurt like hell, and pain reliever does help a little with the peripheral pain. If I take my (expensive) presciption medication at the earliest signs of migraine, that usually kicks it before it starts. But my problem is, I tend to get them in the middle of the night, while I'm sleeping. So I'm usually stuck with them for either 24 hours or 5 days. That is what the past has taught me.

Well, when Junior got hit by a car, I took him to my acupuncturist, Suzette, and she gave him a little jar of salve. Here in New Mexico, they call pine tar "trementina" and it's used for lots of things, from pulling splinters to purging the flu. The Huichol also combine it with beeswax to create the mixture they use for embedding beaded designs into their bowls and such.

Anyway, Suzette gets a trementina-based herbal salve from a guy in Northern New Mexico. His grandmother used the recipe as a healing salve for arthritis. I know it's got osha root in it, but I don't know what else. I love the way it smells, so when I got my second-to-last migraine I decided to rub some on my neck and shoulders, and even behind my ear where the migraine pain was the worsst. I laid down to take a nap and to my amazement, the migraine was gone when I got up!

Thinking it might have been a coincidence, even though I've never had a migraine last less than 24 hours, I used it again the other morning when I woke up with a horrendously painful, and very local, migraine. Laid down, took and nap, and poof! Migraine gone. Well under the 24-hour limit. Still felt a little cloudy, but no pain.

I can't wait to tell Suzette I found another use for her herbalist's salve. Oh and by the way, some of the very best info on traditional New Mexican remedies comes from Michael Moore, whose little pamphlet on Spanish/English herb names I stumbled upon many years ago, before his books were published. The Southwesst School of Botanical Medicine website contains oodles and oodles of information, including a vast catalog of plant pictures. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bead Retreat Goodies

Might as well share some of my stash-enhancement items from the weekend retreat. I got my bestest goodies from Sally Ingram, master of the traditional diagonal weave. In this technique, Sally charts a design and then warps up the beads ahead of time, making sometimes incredibly long beaded bands. I love, love, love this pair, which is one of her medum-length designs. The beads and tiny buffalo nickel charms dust my shoulders:

Sally also makes beaded critters. First she makes the forms from soft white smoked leather, stuffs them, and then she uses tiny charlottes and whatnot to embroider them. She makes pins with the smaller ones. Several of us were able to "ensnare" some of her critters -- here's my new stash!

In the photo below, Judy and I are modelling our new earrings. Me (don't judge me by my hair, I forgot my brush! Seriously!), I'm wearing Sally's diagonal weave shoulder dusters, and Judy is wearing the pair she STOLE from me.

See, I was teaching earring wires, and I tossed a bunch of bottlecaps in my tote bag in case someone wanted to make a quick pair of earrings by smashing the bottlecaps, punching a hole in them, and hanging the bottlecaps from their newly created earring hooks. Rita had handed out some coppery, pumpkin-colored feather charms during our trick-or-treat swap, so I smashed some orange bottle caps and hung some feathers fro them. Left the room for a minute and returned to find Judy stubbornly wearing them. Well, they did match her shirt. So I made another pair. Left the room again, and returned to find Bonnie wearing the second pair! Evil wenches! What the heck, I made Nik a pair in green and gave them to her before she could steal them. ;-)


Monday, November 3, 2008

Giant Hedgehog Acorns

New Mexico acorns These little oddities of nature were part of Nik's roomie gift to me. They are ginormous acorn-like seeds from south central New Mexico, around Soccorro. They're about 2-1/2" to 3" long, capped with hairy hats, or rather, hats with bangs! They remind me of little hedgehogs, or critters from a Star Wars movie. At first glance, held up by their "tails," they also reminded me a bit of matachine dancers, with their fringed veils over their eyes. Thank you Sarah!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


A joyful reunion -- this is about half of us. Sarah took the picture. Please do not look at my hair! We had just arrived, me after a long week of work and studying. None of that for me this weekend!

From left to right, it's Rita, Moi, Judy the Queen of Retreat Organizers, Bonnie and Suzanne. We rent rooms to get a good rate on a meeting room. Our meeting room is snug but perfect, and there is a door directly to a covered patio, where we can cook polymer clay.

Last night we ate at tres-SantaFe-ish The Shed. We entered through a secluded cobblestone courtyard, and wound our way through all the little rooms in the adobe walled restaurant that was once a family home and donkey shed, to the very back dining room reserved just for us -- it was so gorgeous! There was a large stained glass window, fireplace, huge mirror, and the walls were painted pink, so we were bathed in an amber pinkie glow all evening. Which added quite a nice ambience to my annual margarita gold. ;-)

Of course they always schedule me to teach after my annual margarita. So we played with wire and hammers. Yeah! Pictures to come...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Off to Santa Fe

. . . for our annual Fall bead phreak retreat. We always do a little bead swap. This year we're calling it "trick or treating." As usual, there will be informal classes. Jan always does a polymer clay thing, Sally has come kind of surprise cooked up and I will be showing how to make a few varieties of earring wires. Since I'm bringing my hammers and a bench block, I packed a bag of bottle caps and my beloved metal hole punching pliers in case somebody wants/needs to smash them, punch a hangin' hole and make a pair of earrings with their fancy earring wires. Beadnik will bring her digital camera, so hopefully, project pictures to come!!!

Onward with my trusty orange global positioning system!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cultures of Devotion

Today in my online course on Adult Learning, my professor posted that in some ways, learning requires dissonance (too comfortable, we aren't motivated to learn; too uncomfortable and it's too overwhelming to learn). Into my head popped a line from a poem by Alejandra Pizarnik, that reminded me of dissonance:

"...the distance between thirst and the hand that reaches for the glass."

Huh? Where did that come from?

Years ago I worked as a typesetter and there was a man named Frank Graziano in town, working on his Ph.D. He published interesting profiles of poets, including Pizarnik, whose works I don't think had previously been translated into English. His profiles typically included the poet's work, as well as letters, images, and scholarly commentary.

Well, I typeset a couple of his books. (The other was a profile of American poet James Wright. The introduction was written -- over and over and over again, I might add, right up until the publication deadline -- by Robert Bly). I guess when you type something it gets tucked into a little drawer in your head, which must have been where that snippet of Pizarnik came from. Frank must have noticed I was really into her poetry, so he gave me a copy of the book.

Thinking of Frank and Alejandra, I Googled and found that he is now a professor, and still writing -- most recently this book called Cultures of Devotion: Folk Saints of Spanish America. Wow! There is an accompanying website chock full of images of popular saints and their devotees (doing what devotees do...devoting?) Check out the website:

I love the colors and the clothing. I can almost hear the sounds and smell the smells in these images. And it's good to know Frank is still in love with his work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sequins in Action: Back Stitch

Here's a closeup from my Unity Mandala showing how yesterday's version of backstitch looks in action. I used tiny platinum colored flat sequins and tan thread:

And here's a recap of yesterday's thread path, showing the side view:


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stitching with Sequins: Backstitch

NOTE: Sorry folks, I had grabbed the wrong illustrations for the image yesterday (10/25/08). Below is the corrected post...
Ok, next lesson. 8-)

I guess this is called backstitch. Because you're stitching backwards on the top. As opposed to running stitch, where you'd be stitching forward. Whatever it's called, this is the trick for getting perfect spacing and overlap when stitching a line of sequins. I learned it from Al from South Beach. 8-)

  • flat sequins
  • thread
  • needle
  • fabric
  • scissors

You won't need any seed beads for this stitch. And, these instructions assume you'll be beading a line from left to right.


1. Knot the end of the thread, slip the needle onto the other end, and come up from the back of the fabric where you want your line of sequins to start.

2. Slip on a sequin, and then stitch down to the left, coming back down through the fabric just at the left edge of the first sequin.

3. Come up just at the right edge of the sequin, slip on another sequin, and then stitch down through the center of the first sequin.

4. Come up just at the right edge of the second sequin, slip on a sequin, and stitch down through the center of the previous sequin. Get it? Keep doing that. 8-)

5. When you get to the end of the line of sequins, tack down the outer edge of the final sequin, then knot on the back of the fabric and snip the thread.

TIP: To get straight and/or smooth flowing lines, draw guidelines onto the fabric, or practice on a swatch of patterned fabric and follow the designs.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Get to know your trade beads

african trade beadsI listed a couple of destash strands of African trade beads in my Etsy shop and as usual I did a little refresher research first, starting at Picard's.

Picard's website contains page after page of trade bead images, with titles and prices, but not much in the way of describing how the beads were made.

I would suggest focusing on the Antique Beads and Trade Beads sections to locate beads you're trying to identify, then doing a Google search for more information about that particular bead style.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Captured for an Ivy-themed Treasury

Many thanks to Etsy artist EderaJewelry for including my Tendrils Earrings in her ivy-themed gallery at Etsy's Treasury West. What a magical quality to the page, and such diversity in materials, eh? Check it out (click the image to visit the treasury):


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sequins in Action: Spot Stitch

sequins, artist trading card, mano, hand"Magic Hand"A simple application of spot-stitched sequins.
I used large cupped dark green iris sequins
attached with glass seed beads of the same color,
and scattered them around this Artist Trading
Card, overlapping the stitches in some places.
One of my favorite applications of spot stitching with sequins is found in those colorful Haitian Voudou Flags. There are books devoted to them, and many websites with flags for sale, though closeups showing the stitching were hard to find for this post. Here's an awesome fully covered flag, held up by its maker:
Erzulie, the Virgin Mary
from Niger Bend, an online gift shop
  • The flags typically are divided into color areas that are either completely filled with overlapping, spot stitched sequins, or partially filled in with sequins that match the fabric color behind it.
  • Sometimes the key imagery is completely filled with sequins but in the background, spaces are left between the sequins (which takes a lot less time but still looks cool!).
  • Usually, the seed beads are the same color as the sequins, but not always. Sometimes a contrasting color is used.
  • Sometimes, seed beads are embroidered (running or back stitch) in lines around the borders of things, with the sequins filling up the shapes. Or vice versa. In any case, total coverage takes time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spot Stitching Sequins

Crystal's comment got my mind a-workin' (did you feel the storm???) on breaking down my sequin tutorials into smaller, bloggable pieces.


The easiest thing to do with sequins is to string them in your beadwork and jewelry.

Stack them for a long chunk of color (but be aware that some sequins have very little color on the edges, like Oreo cookies the best part is always in the centers!)

You can also add sequins just one or two at a time to earrings or in beaded fringe. I've seen subtle floral effects created this way.


Spot stitching is the easiest stitch when working with sequins. You can use a heavy or light fabric, but if you use a light fabric, you might want to put it in a hoop or frame while sewing, and/or back it with an iron-on interfacing to strengthen it a bit. And, if you plan to wash the fabric, you should take the time to knot frequently.


You'll need a few sequins -- cupped or flat will work fine -- and a few seed beads, size 10, 11 or smaller. Make sure your beading needle will pass through the seed beads.

You'll also need:
  • for practice, a small piece of fabric (cloth, ultrasuede, bead backing, Ez Felt, etc.)
  • beading or quilting thread (I use Silamide, or Nymo if there isn't a lot of weight to the piece)
  • a beading needle (size 12 will work with size 11 beads)
  • scissors


1. Tie a knot in your thread before coming up from the back of the fabric.

2. Pick up one sequin and one seed bead.

3. Go back down through the sequin, bypassing the seed bead.

4. Repeat 2 and 3, and tie a knot behind the fabric when you're done.

The seed bead will anchor the sequin.

Variations: Go for a scattered effect. Place cupped sequins face down, instead of face up. Stack more than one seed bead and see what happens!

Tonight I'll hunt for some pictures of "spot stitch in action!"


Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Sequin Palette Packs

New in my Etsy supply shop, a couple of new assortment packs of vintage sequins:

Fairy Woodlands pack, featuring new purple rainbow flowers
and vintage "fairy wing" sequins. Yummy rich, rare colors too.

Old Fashioned Garden Mix, very soft, with rosy metallics,
fluted translucent pink and other scrumptiousness.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Contact Info: A Suggestion for Bloggers

Blogging is a great way to communicate. Right? I dunno. Three times in the last two weeks I've needed to contact another blogger privately (once about something I wanted to buy, once about something they wanted me to sell them, and once about getting involved in a project they'd put out a call for). But I couldn't figure out how, because they have no contact info associated with their blog. Two of those times, they had no email address anywhere on their websites either. Buh? What's the big secret? You're bloggin' aren't ya? Why not go all the way? ;-)

Realizing I should practice what I was about to preach, I checked my Blogger profile and noticed I'd disabled my email address. Today I enabled it to make it easier for someone to contact me "off-blog." Before, I figured they could find my email by going to my profile, then my website, but what the heck, why make people work so hard? (We work hard enough already!)

Will I get more spam? Gosh I hope so! I have such a great spam filter, I so hate not to use it! ;-) No, seriously. I just realized that a really nice recent profile opportunity (in the works) would not have happened if the PR person hadn't taken the time to click through my profile to my website and find my email address there. Let's hope the good outweighs the bad on enabling an email addy on my Blogger profile.

Like good ole Frank Zappa used to say, "I'll do the stupid thing first then you shy people can follow." Or, "Great googly moogly, you gonna do it too!" Or, "Shoot low, they're riding Shetlands!" ;-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Richard Biffle Loves Crows

Here's the story. Not long ago, a mother ordered a custom pair of my crow feather earrings for her daughter. I must not have read the email very thoroughly because for some reason I thought she was a fan of Richard Biffle rather than his partner. Well, she wanted them to arrive by a certain date, so I dropped them in the mail with just enough time. She said something about her daughter wanting him to see them on her because he has a special affinity with crows.

Well I never heard back so I was worried sick that they hadn't arrived in time. This weekend I had the. . . ok, the stomach flu (YUCK that is so disgustingly TMI) and didn't check my email all day. Tonight I opened up the most lovely note from the daughter that I almost cried. It was one of those blessings-on-a-deeper-level type of notes, and yes the earrings had arrived in time for a very special occasion for the two lovers.

So I thought I'd share some of Richard's art. Maybe everyone but me has heard of him, what can I say? LOL, I'm getting to be a bit of an old fart and I don't listen to as much new music as I used to, or rather, when I do it's usually on Sirius radio or via an iPod so I don't necessarily see the cover designs.

I really like his work -- a lot. I can see his unique illustration style in there but I also like that he seems to have been inspired by some of my favorite graphic design, such as old crate labels, European posters from the art nouveau period, and of course the rock and roll posters of the 1960s and 1970s.

Do check out his work. I find his color schemes inspiring too. They really pop!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

September Poll Results: If You Were a Bead

Seventy-six of you beautiful peoplez chose one bead from a list of 10 that matched, as closely as possible, the bead you'd be. Some of you suggested beloved beads that I had totally forgotten about, or didn't have room for on such a short list.

As for me, I'd be a Kiffa bead -- rare, highly collectible, skillfully made with women's saliva in the back country of Mauritania (don't ask). That's the bead I'd like to be, but if I'm honest, the bead I really am is probably the fire polished crystal -- affordable and versatile. You know, middle class glass. ;-)
Here are the poll results:
  • Lampwork focal 13 (17%) -- "Unique, creative artisan style"

  • Chunk of red coral 11 (14%) -- "Bold and natural, with an ethnic flair"

  • Labradorite 11 (14%) -- "Mystical, magical seer"

  • Opaque truecut 10 (13%) -- "Vivid color with a hint of sparkle"

  • Green kyanite 10 (13%) -- "Earth-bound but daring, like the fairies"

  • Faceted amethyst 8 (10%) -- "Classic, quality, understated elegance"

  • Swarovski crystal 6 (7%) -- "Elegant, classy and finely cut"

  • African trade bead 4 (5%) -- "A well-crafted, well-travelled treasure"

  • Fire polished crystal 3 (3%) -- "Affordable and versatile"

  • Victorian jet 0 (0%) -- "Rich black sparkle, the Queen's favorite" (What? Know great-grandmothers in the bunch? No steampunk goth girls? Interesting...these beads are some of my quickest sellers.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How to Change the World

This is from MSNBC's The Week in Pictures -- a Reuters photo by Rupak de Choudhuri showing little boys dressing up like Mahatma Gandhi, for a contest, on the anniversary of his birth:

mohatma ghandi Can you imagine? Not Batman, not the Incredible Hulk or Darth Vader, but Mahatma Ghandi. 8-) Pacifist activist scholar politician.

"Be the change that you want to see in the world."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Remembering Cindy -- Lung Association Fundraiser

Beaders are a charitable bunch. This from bead artists Dulcey Heller and Carol Strand-Siebers:

Cindy McCornack was a friend and mentor to beaders, in person and online. She lived in Alaska, but had friends all over the world through the online beading community, especially the Bead Art forum. Among the things she left for beaders was her book, Exploring Beaded Art Dolls, full of instructions, inspiration, and photographs of beaded art dolls that she and her friends created.

When Cindy was diagnosed with lung cancer, the Forum responded with flowers, gifts, support, and contributions. In thanks, Cindy began the Mystery Image Challenge. Inspired by the Mat-Su Valley Bead Society in Alaska, she cut an image into rectangles, emailed the rectangles to interested participants who were to bead the lines with black beads, and then embellish the rest of the rectangle. No one knew the finished image except for those who created the central face blocks: Cindy herself, Marya LeMieux-Ruibal, Mary Elter, and Rebekah Hodous.

Cindy died in 2005 of her cancer before being able to complete the project. Moderators of the Bead Art Forum have since completed assembling the Mystery Image Challenge. These four completed panels are now for sale in the Remembering Cindy Etsy shop. All profits after expenses will be donated to the American Lung Association in Cindy’s memory.

Also for sale in the shop are some of the dolls that were made for her during her battle with cancer. Her partner, John, gave them back to the Bead Art Forum for this purpose. There are also items that have been donated specifically for sale in Cindy’s memory. Those who would like their own small memory of Cindy’s Mystery Image Challenge can also purchase postcards of the four panels. Again, all profits after expenses will be donated to the American Lung Association.

Please visit the Remembering Cindy Etsy shop (she would have loved Etsy). The shop will be open through the end of 2008, closing in early 2009. Cindy is missed, and we want to help fight that disease that took her away from us, with funds from your purchases in the shop.


I'd like to also mention that postcard sets of the mystery panel are also available for sale in the shop!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sand and Sage Treasury West

Aw, panoply included my long twin pearls Amaya Necklace in her Sand and Sage gallery at Etsy's Treasury West. It's lovely! Such diversity of items -- maybe this will be my home page debut? Please please? (I'm about to sell my soul to get on the home page but don't tell God that! Hey, a girl's got to have goals, right?) Well, regardless (cause ir-regardless IS NOT A WORD), I'm happy to been included among like-paletted soaps and ceramics and paintings and jewelry. It's really lovely. The colors -- such a peaceful earthy palette.

pearl necklace