Saturday, January 31, 2009

About Sequins: Front and Back

Did you know that sequins have a front and a back? Well you do now. ;-)
Cupped sequins are easy to figure out. You have an upsidedown side and a cup side. You can stitch them either way, although the cup up is probably more common and more traditional (and also a tad more durable in my opinion).
But flat sequins are a bit more subtle. Generally, there is a shinier side and a duller side. Or perhaps one side is more vivid in color, with the other side duller in hue. It can be hard to see the color/glossiness difference, but it's usually most obvious on flat, vintage sequins. Here are a couple of photos:

Traditionally the brighter, glossier side is considered the front. But you can play with using both sides to create nuances of color in your work. My advice would be to be consistent about how you use both sides, and pick a stitch or application where it's really going to show and won't look like an accident.
For example, if you're filling an area using overlapping rows, do one row using the fronts and the next row using the backs.
You can check out my other tutorials and posts about sequins by clicking "sequins" in the Topics list.
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Friday, January 30, 2009

What's in a Friend's Name?

Sometimes you meet someone and there's an instant rapport. I'm not talking about entertaining each other, little bits of superficial laughter, or any of those rituals of interaction where you establish that you won't eat each other alive, and then there's a "wait and see" about whether you'll become acquantainces, friends, or very good friends.

I'm talking instant "I just met a friend today." I'm talking, "Yes, I'd even give you some of my art supplies. Here, take them now."

Here's what happend, and Ginny Gaskill's photo reminded me of it. She was at Leighanna's Metal Deck class and she took this photo and posted it to her blog:

leighanna light workshop

That's me on the left, Leighanna on the right, and a woman I met briefly at the NMBS workshop when I stopped by to plug various upcoming workshops at OFFCenter (and no, if I look bored, I really wasn't. Just antsy to get to work). She and I sat together after the demo and realized we both have the same first name: Mary.

She is Mary O'Hara and she's not one iota Irish. She's Hispanic -- her family is from Chimayo (now there's a power spot on a ley line or two). I'm Mary Tafoya and I'm not one iota Hispanic, but I am 5/8 Irish. Did we get the wrong names?

Maybe there was a balancing energy in that, LOL! because I so enjoyed working beside her. She was absolutely fearless in her method and completely accepting of the happenstance results (hey we were slathering patina, gesso, and many other things onto metal). I was being a bit more controlled that day, having learned that if I don't finish it then and there, I'll probably never get back to it. I had a plan. She had a non-plan. So, balance in that too.

She reminds me a bit of Betcey Ventrella, and she's got that same grounded, curious, having fun in life nature. Well the whole class had that nice, friendly vibe really, thanks to Leighanna. She was very attentive to everyone, and totally accepting of their stories and backgrounds and work.

Now I just remembered that Wendell Berry wrote a poem about meeting someone you feel like you know already:

The Recognition

You put on my clothes
and it was as though
we met some other place
and I looked and knew
you. This is what we keep
going through, the lyrical
changes, the strangeness
in which I know again
what I have known before.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bosque del Apache

bosque del apache wildlife refuge Photo by my bro. This is a wildlife refuge near Soccorro New Mexico. The view in this photo is very similar to the one I was lamenting leaving (in a previous post). Thanks, bro, I can take this with me. 8-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What my Bro Bought...


This morning I woke up early to see that my dear bro had purchased a gift for his friend. He must be quite the night owl because I thought I was up late!

He says she is an herbalist with "gypsy ways." How perfect. And thanks, bro. 8-)

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Being the New Kid

Thinking about starting my new job next week, I was reminded how Junior handled it when he went to a new school this year. I'm sure it isn't easy being the new kid, but he managed. Here's how:

Ok, so what would be the middle-aged woman's equivalent of a sick flip? 8-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Patina Trees


Patina Trees
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya

New earrings in my shoppe!

Click the link over there -->
to go to my Flickr photos.




Friday, January 23, 2009

The Last of 5,200 Days

Ahhh, today is my last day at the place I've worked for over 20 years. Earlier this week I was freaking out. I kept looking at my keys -- the keys I've held in my hand at least 5,200 times, and I couldn't imagine being without them. My computer -- my nest! Yesterday the IT gal came and set it up so my friend and colleague can use it when I'm gone, next week, when she takes over. Yesterday I turned in all but the one key I needed to get in the door today. Holding that lighter, sparser keychain made thinking of leaving easier, bit by bit. And seeing my colleague bring in her plants, books and family pictures little by little this week makes it easier to imagine someone else's life in the lab that I built.

Earlier this week I had my last videoconference with a group I have been working with for a year, some of my favorite people on the planet and in New Mexico education. There is a big picture window behind the ITV and I sat there staring out the window at the North Valley fields, the cottonwoods behind it, the mountains behind that and the blue chalk sky above. If you know New Mexico, you can picture these four things, each with their own space and color. Every 20 or 30 seconds, small groups of geese flew across my window scene, following the river, out beyond the cottonwoods. I won't have this view from my new pink cubicle, week after next. But I guess I'll have the memories.

To help say goodbye, today the woman who does most of the landscaping on the campus came by we took a last walk down by the bosque, along the loop of dirt road where I've listened to the wind in the leaves every year, in every season and in every weather. I'm grateful for this hectic week and this chance to prepare to say goodbye.

Yesterday morning my coworkers cooked breakfast in their own areas and brought the dishes in one by one, and we ate in my (not my) lab. Scrambled eggs, bacon, cheesy hash browns, jalapeno bagels with cream cheese, a huge pot of coffee, orange juice, and muffins galore. My husband was able to take a little time off work to come by. I'm so grateful to have hugged all these men and women I've worked with since their grown children were little children. There were lots of laughs, and jokes, but I was grateful most of all for the gentle sincerity.

It's such a nice way to go. Ok, I'm not going, exactly. They gave me a contract to teach one online course as an adjunct faculty, LOL! I'm grateful for that, too. We joked today about my buttprints being all over the furniture (ok, sorry, TMI), and opting for "emotional bungee cords" over "cutting the apron strings." Ease me out slowly. 8-)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spread a Little Rumi

Do you like Rumi's poetry? I do, and I love Persian art too. (In college, I used to copy the compositions, gestures, leaping gazelles, color schemes, etc. with my colored pencils and gold ink.) I found this beautiful, clean little application on Facebook and put it on my page, and then found the company that created it, and I see that there's a whole website where you can see these little ATC-shaped (on Facebook anyway) images with a quotation from Rumi on each one.

This is the coolest contemporary use of Persian miniature paintings I've seen, and it's also nice to find a Facebook application that does not hang up your page, freak out, stop working, or mislead you into clicking on spammishness.

Anyway, the site and Facebook app are both called Rumi Sushi. Here's a link to the website:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twisted Wire Earrings Class


Saturday, January 31, 2009 , 10:00am - 1:00pm
Location: OFFCenter Community Arts Studio, 808 Park Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM (across from Robinson Park and the Hotel Blue, just west of where Central meets Park)
(Contact me if you would like a flyer in PDF format, with a suggested supplies list.)
Learn the foundation steps of a twisted wire jewelry project. We'll make at least two pairs of earrings using beads, charms and fine wire. A fun and satisfying project for teens to adults!

Once you get the hang of these basic steps, you can use extra long lengths of wire and lots of different kinds of beads to create not just earrings, but other jewelry projects and art embellishments. This project is great for using up leftover beads.
Cost: $35. Scholarships are available. Please call OFFCenter early to reserve. Space is limited. 505-247-1172
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Leighanna's Metal Deck Class

I decided (it was an unconscious New Year's resolution I think) that the best way for me to get in my requisite (read: sanity-maintaining) creative time was to take classes. My first class this year was Saturday at OFFCenter, with home girl Leighanna Light. These are ATC-sized collage-ness on thin metal. They are unfinished, I'm feeling the need for more layers and more exploiting of the fact that they are metal and can be drilled and similarly abused 8-)

The angel set will have some flowers and beads (I think) woven into the holes, and I plan to make little hangers for them to hang individually. These were made quite simply with some napkins Leighanna brought to class, milk pogs, vintage cigar box wrapper labels, and some of those embossed pictures that are linked together as a sheet, whatever they're called.


The ordinary saints set will be made up into a deck, after they have the appropriate hardware and geegaws. They are made with metal surfacer (coppery patina), images I cut out of a miniature art book, 1930s photos from an old photo album, and vintage jewelry stampings, mostly.

Thanks Leighanna for an intensely fun class and thanks OFFCenter for letting me stay way late. 8-)
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Job

I hate to even post about this in case there is some way to jinx a new job with a blog post. But, yes, after 20 years at the same place (a job I love for the most part), I found an even better job. And that's an even better reason to not blog, because it's very apparent to me that I'm very lucky in a very unlucky time for so many folks. But, all Catholic guilt (yes, there really is a wikipedia entry on that!) aside, I'm so excited I think my head is going to explode! (Or as the MOTH says, es-PLODE-ee)

I gave my notice on Friday and I'm supposed to start on Feb. 2. Theoretically I will have a few days off between jobs, a luxury I'll believe when it actually happens, just like I'll believe I really got this job when I see my first paycheck. I don't know why I'm having a hard time processing this.

I turned 50 earlier this year and then a few months ago experienced my first power surges. Now, to get a promotion that has "permanent" next to the status designation makes me realize that I'm in the middle of what I'd definitely call a life transition. Crone-in-training. I'm so ready.

But I haven't been blogging quite as much because I find myself doing a lot of internal processing. Today I literally slept all day. I feel like I'm recharging. I feel a deep sense of peace amid the chaos. And gratitude for every little thing -- I did before, but now even more.

I have some decisions to make. My current workplace would like me to continue on with some things, under some sort of contract. I am taking one online grad class this spring, and after that I think I have 4 more classes to take for my Master's. There's both of my Etsy shops -- supplies and handmade jewelry, and I've been asked to teach locally too this spring. (I really should blog about that...) I need to pare down and simplify. Any ideas? Suggestions? Recommendations?

Oh, and I also need to know how one decorates a cubicle. Oy. I'm leaving the beautiful bosque and views of the mountains, for a pink cubicle. It seems to be roomy enough but I could hardly keep from giggling when they gave me a tour after my interview. Everybody looked like human animals in cages, all bug-eyed and performing little tricks for us when we walked by. I was thinking a Tibetan Buddhism shrine theme might be nice. Maybe on my days off I'll surf Archie McPhee for cubicle geegaws!
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mai's Necklace with Sequins

I'm always saying you can use sequins as spacers in necklaces and bracelets, but I never actually do it. Sarah has done it, but I couldn't find any examples on her blog (hint, hint). And I'm always wondering what people do with the stuff, er, I mean, delightful finds they purchase from my supply shop. Well, here we go. Mai makes the second Etsy artisan this week who has shared with me her unique vision for my vintage this's and that's.

Here she used some vintage turquoise sequins with red beads in a unique, asymmetrical necklace design. Sequins make great spacers because, well, you can use as many or as few as you like. Mai created different lengths of turquoise "tubes." Obviously, this is a different effect than what you can achieve with beads. Cool!

By the way, Mai's Etsy shop is called HanaPurse.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Teri Greeves' Beadwork

teri greeves beadwork native american Check out the great images of newer work by Santa Fe beadwork artist Teri Greeves, who works in bead embroidery (applique) in contemporary Native American themes. Check out the pink high heeled sneakers!

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Yummy Nailheads Necklace by OverTheTop


Jan Finnell (OverTheTop on Etsy) used some of my vintage red nailhead beads in the most awesomely unique steampunk style necklace for Valentine's Day.

I am so accustomed to stitching these down in bead embroidery projects, I never could have dreamed of using nailheads in links, like Jan has. Wowee, I guess the sky is the limit with a little imagination!
steampunk jewelry

Don't you love the way she wired the nailhead to the center of this pendant? Thanks for sharing this Jan, and here's to seeing it disappear quickly from your shop!

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Way Out West Necklace

western style jewelry southwest
Way Out West Necklace
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya

This winter I'm having a lot of trouble photographing my jewelry, now that the sun comes directly into the south side of my house. Even indirect light casts a bright shadow! Not complaining about the sunshine, it's one of the reasons I love living here. But I've struggled a lot to figure out where to shoot, and how to get the color just right. I dunno. I must have shot 20 images of this necklace. I think this is the best I can do (til spring ;-)

But I love it in person. 8-) I put it in my Etsy shop today -- it features a carved bone feather pendant, decorated with turquoise, peach moonstone, and mahogany obsidian stones. The strand is made with some vintage coin silver beads, faceted turquoise barrels, and wood beads that remind me of amber.

I never know what length to make my necklaces, so I've been making them adjustable! The chain on this one has an eye bead for a counterbalance. Gotta have your talisman handy, que no?

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