Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anthem for the New Year

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in.
--Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Posole is Almost Gone

Not to worry. It's turkey. It'll keep. :-)

In case you were wondering, I did not get eaten by pigs. They were wolves. They dragged me into their lair and made me show them my secret red chile sauce recipe. I'm back now, and wow, the house is fairly clean, considering...

Nikia's elk tamales made the Christmas Eve gathering, although Aunt Marian's cheese log (I cannot bring myself to say "balls") was a close second. The cookies are gone (thank you baby Jesus) and speaking of baby Jesus, Christmas Day was blissfully relaxed and there may have been prime rib on the table...yes, I think there was! Christmas Night -- wow, illahis for Shaykh Nur in the cozy warmth of the tekke.

The MOTH (man of the house) strung those vintage lights that have bubbling colored water in the tubes when heated up. The above photo is the box he found last year of those amazing large reflectors you slip over a little colored bulb on the tree.

God bless Amazon and your "Give Album OR Song as Gift" button, and God bless this little black rectangle in my hand where I can push a few buttons and hear my ma's voice anytime I want (provided she's not napping or out on the town).

Tonight? It's crock pot Italian meatballs and UFC141. There have been a half dozen teenage boyz' butts on my couch since Christmas Day and tonight there will most likely be a few more...


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bosque del Apache

Sometimes on our annual trek to T or C for R & R, we cruise the Bosque del Apache.

Keeping a low profile. ;-)

Spying on cranes. Yes, that is all wetlands out there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ramakian Dancer Doll Costume

Detail of the costume on a vintage Ramakian dancer doll
from Thailand. See the metal sequins in the fringe?
And the 6-pointed stars?

Wow. Sequins and dolls, in the same post.
She's in my Etsy shoppe.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Poll: Best Venues for Bead & Jewelry Teachers

Hey all, now that school is over I have gotten three requests to teach again. I know -- weird. And while these requests are mostly local (plus the Boulder trip next week), my friend Nikia got something like 5 classes accepted at Bead & Button next year. She's all excited, and I'm excited for her. All of this got me thinking.

Travelling to a national show is so exciting, but it's also expensive. There is travel -- by plane? by car? And there is lodging -- hotel, at the venue or close by? And food (we won't mention the bar expenses). Then you teach. You get a percentage of the tuition, and sometimes all the kit fees, which are sometimes folded into the student's tuition. Usually you can sell kits, supplies, etc. during the class (which some students resent if you push it too hard), and often there's a meet the teachers venue where you can also sell to project-hungry attendees.

When I teach locally, I don't have travel, lodging or food expenses. When travelling regionally to guilds and bead societies, you sometimes get to stay with a local host or hostess and/or have some of your meals paid for. Sometimes they will also pay your travel expenses. I've never taught at an out of town bead store so I don't know how that works, but locally, the pay arrangements vary tremendously. Sometimes you can only take 3-4 students, sometimes you have to agree to take 16-18. Sometimes you can sell your stuff, and sometimes you can't. And you get anywhere from 50% to 100% of the class fees.

And then there's the planning, prep time, kit making, tutorial writing, packing, set up etc. Generally, the expectations are higher for national events.

For me, there's also the social scene. Oddly, I probably know as many people at the national events as the local ones. And I love seeing old friends, sharing a meal, getting away from the dishes for a day or three. But teaching locally is less stressful.

So. I've created a poll (Facebook and other feed readers, you'll need to come to my blogspot page to vote: ). What's your opinion? Do teachers benefit more and/or make more money teaching locally, regionally, nationally, or a combination? The poll is open until Thanksgiving weekend.

Also, add a comment here to weigh in with your details & experiences. :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Accidental Zentangle

The back of my sequin sampler.
I was holding this up while working on it and someone said,
"Have you ever photographed the back of your beadwork?"
The answer (at the time) was "No........"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beading Daily Earrings

That headline is confusing, so I left it that way, ha! (What are daily earrings?) Bottom line -- I need to read my own emails a little more closely. Sally congratulated me on my earrings featured in Beading Daily, and had go back three dailies to figure out what she was talking about. Then I found out Chris P. mentioned it on the Prodigy Orphans list. Where have I been??? What they were talking about were these (<--also a not very good sentence):
Thanks Jen for picking these two. I think we should get back to peyote stitch fringe earrings more often -- they're very satisfying and quick, and so many color combos (I think this particular article was about making earrings to go with your favorite blouse...). Here's a link to the pattern ($4.00):

And the hand amulet pattern is near and dear to my heart. For me, it's come to symbolize unity because it is a symbol used by both Muslims (as the Hand of Fatima) and Jews (as the Hamsa) in the Middle East. In case you hadn't noticed, they have not exactly been on the best of terms lately. So if I can make something that means something to two disparate and "at odds" groups, thus proving they have at least something in common, maybe that becomes a small act of positivity. And even if you're not into politics you can make these little puppies out of SO MANY colors of silver and gold thanks to the Japanese Delica people. The photo above shows a tarnished silver, almost pewter, but there's also an old fashioned gold that just makes me want to cry, it's so beautiful (and it looks great with bright blue turquoise). Here's the link to the Hamsa pattern ($4.00):

And by the way, I'm always willing to tout Interweave's online pattern shop, because after they  publish your project, if they put it for sale on their website, the artist gets a commission on all sales. Which is a lot more than most other publishers do... not that I'm complaining. Interweave is the only site (that I know of) that republishes any of my print articles.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Funniest Feedback Ever

I had to conduct some live, online training and this is one response I thought was so funny I put it up on my cubicle wall (for a time... there were a few who passed by and read it but didn't get the humor):

The presentation went extremely well overall. The presenter was friendly, knowledgable and used polls and questions to actively involve the participants. Give her a raise and then punish her for being so good by making her give these quality, helpful presentations constantly and make others shadow her so that hopefully others will learn that there are ways to effectively train employees without simply droning on and killing people with Power Point...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mystery Slipper Covers

Sally Ingram bought these slipper covers on eBay from a seller
who thought they were Native American made. Not so.

They're pretty similar (especially the triangular tops) to the Afghan
beaded medallion Sarah gave me.

We'd like to find out more about them! Any comments?

Here's what the backs look like. Crochet?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boulder -- Where I'll Be in November

I'll be with the Handweavers Guild of Boulder on November 14 and 15, giving a slide lecture about my mixed media bead embroidery, plus two workshops -- Color Theory for Beadworkers and Artisans, and Beading with Sequins. For the former, I'll be using my new booklet called Hands-on Color. Here's the Guild's web writeup on the November program

I am so thrilled to be invited up to Boulder and to be getting back into teaching again after my long hiatus in grad school!

Also, to spruce up my blog for potential sign-ups by Guild members, I finally pulled my portfolio and bio pages out of draft mode. You can see the new pages up along the top navigation bar. Have a look!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wire Wrapped Bangle Earrings

Finally had a chance to play with some of that wire wrapping stuff. Didn't intend to...
I started with some really sturdy, high quality copper findings from New Mexico
Bead and Fetish. I mixed sterling and copper with Amy's bead swap beads,
then since I had some 24 gauge wire on me I played a bit with wrapping some
seed beads around the oval form.

More of Amy's bead swap earrings, this time blue/green cathedral beads.
Now I think I'm ready to try this with gemstones.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NMBS Class

Saturday I taught Beading with Sequins at the New Mexico Bead Society's
"Bead Boot Camp." Here they're learning how to make the "Magic Flower"
(thank you ladies for helping me name that thang ;-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Afghan Beaded Medallion

This was Sarah's roomie gift to me over the weekend!

Beautiful Afghan tribal motifs joined together
on this cloth-backed medallion.

Sarah got this large and lovely piece (about 6" in diameter) from Uberkuchi on Etsy.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Weird, wet skies this morning. Very intense colors.
Don't know if the photo captures
how these colors really saturate your eyes!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Skulls on a Bed of Rice

I find the weirdest things on my worktable.
In this case, it's stone skull beads, some with rhinestones glued into their eye sockets,
garnished with some weird old millinery stamens that suddenly remind me of bones.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Free Clip Art for Bamboo Tiles

Playing with my new laser printer today, I resized some images from my collection of vintage labels. So addictive! Here's a little freebie for y'all, a mysterious gal from an antique Art Deco perfume label:

She's scaled for the larger, 1" x 1-7/8" tiles.

Have fun!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Review: Jewelry Upcycled!

Here's another fun project book by Sherri Haab, this time with Michelle Haab: Jewelry Upcycled!. Together they explore the latest jewelry making styles and techniques, this time with an emphasis on using found and recycled materials. Although not the only title on this topic, Sherri manages, as usual, to create unique, wearable and tastefully designed jewelry items.

The first section, covers tools and basic techniques. The second section covers basic tools and supplies for working with metal -- including recycled metals, and the projects here include cold metal techniques like rivets and eyelets. One project shows how to use shapes cut from old tins in a project I could have sworn was guilloche when I first saw it! As always, I like Sherri's fresh takes on already known ideas, like working with old silverware. She creates a pretty pearl and silver spoon pendant that would be a real hit as a wedding gift.

I wouldn't have bought the book for the first two sections since I already know most of the techniques but the coverage is perfect for a beginner who needs to stock their studio for taking their jewelry making to the next level.

Remember telephone wire? It's in here. Want to recycle your old credit cards? Sherri shows how to layer the cut, embossed shapes with textured copper. You can make clear plastic soda bottle jewelry that looks like glass (but weighs and costs less!). There's a crocheted plastic bag bracelet that is sure to be a hit with my local OFFCenter artist pals, who live and breathe recycled art. I could live without the shampoo bottle charms, but the idea did inspire me to pay closer attention to the colors of the products I select! And before I throw out that last box of cassette tapes that didn't go at my last yard sale, I'll remember to turn OFFCenter on to the idea of braiding that stuff a la kumihumo.

After an easy stroll through plastics, Sherri heads into heavier territory in the next section, working with recycled glass and ceramics. The drilled and tumbled glass pendant project, and the soldered china plate charm are pretty standard fare but in Sherri's book you get step-by-step pictures to show exactly how it's done. A guest artist also shows how to make a mold, smash glass, and fuse it in a kiln.

My favorite section covered upcycled fabric and leather. Here you can recycle your t-shirts into roses, and rivet an old leather belt into an embellished cuff bracelet. I love the pins made from sweather felt (at last, some beads!), and the found object bottle necklace with stamped metal and cowboy boot was another favorite.

Did I mention that each section is followed by a gallery of work from other artists? It's quite an inspiration to see how other people transform basura -- trash -- into pretty treasures we can wear.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tila Wheels Beadwork Tutorial by Beki

I always love to see what Beki comes up with. Here she's using the new Japanese Tila beads -- they're sort of like chicklets, flat tile shaped beads with two holes -- in a repeating motif, finished off with ribbon. Check out the free tutorial:

Just one of her many great free tutes:

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Memories First Steps and Misadventures

Well...sad to say I'm still trying to download the software to my computer. I emailed support on Sunday and as promised on the website, I heard back from a nice guy within 24 hours. Still not sure what the issue is on my computer, because I did manage to download the My Memories Suite 2 onto my son's laptop. I contacted support again so we'll see what they say tomorrow.

But last night I spent a quick 20 minutes, just 20 minutes, mind you, playing with the software. Seriously, within that time I had a sample digital scrapbooking layout all filled in. I chose a muted blue corrugated background, and added web cam captures of Junie from his folder of old Facebook profile photos, with a big picture of our dog as the focal point. Only trouble is, Junie won't let me post it, ha! I also added a title, in my choice of font and color, and a paragraph of journalling text. All of the page elements I added were very easy to edit. I also added a decorative flourish and a star in a coordinated pattern.

So here's what I think. I think this is the easiest darn program I've ever learned in five minutes! I had previewed a YouTube tutorial, so that helped me know ahead of time that I could drag and drop photos into their frames, and then crop them by positioning them best for that particular frame shape.

I really love that once I got started choosing a layout, all I had to do to learn the features was work my way down the tabs on the right side of the screen -- Background, Photos, etc. I even added a recording of my voice from within the program.

Yeah. Pretty sure I'm in big trouble -- because all day at work I was wishing I was home playing with this! The next test will be to see the quality of the projects when they're printed out. I'm going to try and create a few sample spreads for posting here, and then move on to other types of projects besides scrapbook pages.
Pssst -- You can use my coupon code STMMMS78794 for
$10.00 off the MyMemories digital scrapbooking software
AND $10 in free merchandise from the MyMemories store.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let the Digital Scrapbook Adventures Begin...

I always intended to scrap. I even have blank scrapbooks around here somewhere. But all these years of memories, and alas, nada...

So when I was approached to review the MyMemories Suite, I said yes. For one thing, I'm pretty comfortable with graphics programs. Perhaps I'll be more likely to scrapbook digitally? I looked at a couple of YouTube tutorials, and the program looks pretty robust to me. Plus, my sister is researching our family tree, and I'm thinking it might useful to make a book of our people.

So I've decided to journal here about my learning process, with help from my BFF Sarah (Our misadventures as Second Life newbies remain archived elsewhere on this blog, hehe).

Sarah used my Share the Memories coupon code (Facebook readers, you'll need to visit and look in the right column -- you can use it too!). It let her use Paypal, and calculated the $10 discount on MyMemories Digital Suite v2 just fine. Word is not in yet on her $10 shop discount...we'll let you know.

For both of us (I'm using Windows, she's on a Mac), the download didn't take long, but the installation took about an hour, during which time I wandered around the house thinking about what to put in my MyMemories digital pages...

I used my little wee digital camera. Um, great for jewelry shots; not so hot for anything else. As you can see, it was dark-ish. I kept leaning one way or another right when I pressed the button, causing the images to be blurry. I took the same shots so many times, and each time, I'd fall one way or another, which would make me laugh. Which would make me wiggly. Which would make the shots blurrier. I finally gave up and settled on these:

This reminds me of a New Mexico landscape.
Get it? Couch = desert, crosses = stars.

Thank you Ibrahim for the purple kitchen wall.
Thank you Tia for the stove.
Thank you MOTH for the Indonesian angel
Thank you Thrift Town for the S&P shakers.
Oh and thank you God for the roof over my head. :-)
Pssst -- You can use my coupon code STMMMS78794 for
$10.00 off the MyMemories digital scrapbooking software
AND $10 in free merchandise from the MyMemories store.

9/11 Bead Quilt Update

This just in from Andrea Adams, who steered the 9/11 Memorial Bead Quilt project.

Back in January, the quilts were sent to their permanent home at the National September 11th Museum and Memorial, which is being built on the WTC site. Here's the blog post Andrea wrote back then:

Although the memorial is being unveiled for the 10th anniversary, the museum itself won't open until 2012. And there is a page for memorial projects donated to the museum but unfortunately they don't mention the Bead Quilt. Let's find out how to change that... Meanwhile, you can see all the squares here:

Thanks, Drea!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Alter an Acrylic Cameo

I'm a big snob for glass, gemstones, and crystals, but I'm also a sucker for a sweet faux vintage cabochon, even if it's plastic. Trouble is, you see them everywhere. So here's how I customize my cabochons to get something unique, following techniques I learned for working with polymer clay and paper crafts. You can follow these tips to get anything from a strong to a subtle effect, it's entirely up to you how far you want to take it. (Tools and materials are highlighted in Lavender.)

1. Choose a cameo -- new or vintage. It should be plastic (aka acrylic, resin, lucite, and other fancy words for plain ole plastic).

2. Grab some acrylic paint. I mixed a dark brown. You can use whatever color you like.

3. Slather the paint all over the cameo. No holding back. Mush the paint gets into all the crevices, nooks and crannies.

4. If you're using craft paint from the bottle, let it dry a bit before removing any of it. If you're using artist grade acrylic paint from the tube, start removing it now.

Get a paper towel barely wet. I mush mine into the water at the bottom of my sink. That's how little water you want to use.

Dab off some of the excess paint. Do not drag, swipe or wipe. Come straight down onto the cab and barely press.

5. Let the paint dry a little more, then carefully remove more paint. How much you leave or remove is entirely up to you. I could have removed a lot more paint. Use a corner of the paper towel to remove paint from the background cameo. Or not. I like this color of pink, so I removed paint from it so the color would be very visible. If the paint starts to dry too much, get the paper towel a little wetter.

6. If you're using craft paint from the bottle, it will most likely dry shiny. This shine won't enhance the aged effect. So I sprinkle dirt onto the still drying paint. Yep, sandy dirt from my yard.

7. Tap off the excess dirt just as you would embossing powder.

8. Let the paint/dirt mixture dry completely, then apply a bit of heat with a heat gun -- do NOT overheat. Applying some heat will help to bond the acrylic paint and the acrylic cab. Again, don't overdo it or your cabochon will melt and warp.

9. You can stop here if you like. But I like to highlight the high areas -- hair and dress mainly -- with Rub and Buff or other waxy pigment.

Use VERY SPARINGLY and be careful not to get the Rub and Buff down in the crevices. I squeeze out a very small amount then rub between my fingers to get a very thin layer. Then I dab the wax pigment carefully onto the high areas of the cameo. Don't drag or smear. Let dry completely, then buff very gently with a dry paper towel.

You can also use paint on the high areas. Dab very carefully. I forgot to photograph this, but I used a hint of silver paint in this example.

9. Next, I sprinkled fine glitter over the damp paint and tapped off the excess.

You can seal the whole thing if you want -- I generally use matte medium for vintage stuff. You can apply in stages, adding more glitter to some wet areas.

This is just one example of what you can do with your acrylic cameos. You can also highly rosy cheekbones, jewelry, and eyelids if you want but be careful not to overdo it.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Buffalo Burgers etcetera

Buffalo burgers with sage, basil and garlic.
Plus the obligatory hot dogs.

What's left of dessert -- French vanilla ice cream scoops in waffle cups,
with chocolate syrup and morello cherries.

And just when we thought all the food was gone,
Uncle Eddie's tomatoes magically appeared from over the fence!
(It seems to happen every summer...)

Green Chiles, Sun Tea and Couscous Salad

Fresh roasted green chiles, for the buffalo burgers

Sun tea -- green tea with mint and fresh ground green cardamom

Couscous salad with garbanzos, parsley, cucumbers, tomatos,
and feta cheese sprinkled on top. Hint: cook the couscous in chicken broth,
season the salad with dry mint, olive oil and lemon juice.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day Cookout Menu

  • Herbed buffalo burgers with fixins
  • Baked beans
  • Yogurt potato salad with dill
  • Cold couscous salad with cucumbers, green onion, diced tomatos & black olives
  • Sun tea
  • Watermelon
  • Apple pie a la mode
  • Followed after sunset with giant marshmallows over the firepit


Friday, September 2, 2011

Sequin Embroidery Video

Boy have I been doing it wrong! Cause I sew the sequins down one at a time, hehe....

I guess this is some kind of tambour thing?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Can't Beat Free

Creative WorkGroups at OFFCenter
This from the latest OFFCenter email. Just about any day of the week locals can drop in to join one of these free groups (or can also just work in the studio using their shelves full of art making materials):

  • Hands-On! Sewing/Knitting Circle Wed: 2-3 pm and Sat: 11am-Noon
  • Writing Group with Mandy Gardner - Wednesdays: 3-4pm
  • Painting and Drawing with Dave Blecha - Thursdays: 1-3pm
  • Card Making with Karen Turner - Thursdays: 3-5pm
  • Basic Guitar with Kay Stillion - Fridays: 2:30-3:30pm
  • Printmaking/Book Arts with Adabel Allen and guest artists -- 3rd Tuesday of Month, 5 - 7:30 pm and 3rd Saturday of the Month, 12 - 2 pm - Aug through Nov. 2011\
You can also check out their schedule of events/workshops from OFFCenter's online calendar:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Drool Book of South American Folk Art

Another stunner from the Museum of International Folk Art, a super fat hardback with superbly photographed handmade art from the Andes (featured in an extended exhibit in Santa Fe).
The book is written by Barbara Mauldin, and I have to say "Thank you Miz Mauldin and Mz. Bartlett (visionary founder of the museum), for pictures so real that I 1. cried when I opened the book to page 20-21; and 2. got chills on page 250. The big tome covers all the major media of the area, from pottery to weaving, to jewelry, to religious art and regalia.

The last time I felt like this about a book, it was The Shining Cloth. Judging by that experience, it looks like I'll be studying Folk Art of the Andes for a long time...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random Etsy Things That Bother Me and What Moods They Put Me In

Calling a rhinestone a cabochon (and vice versa)
  • MOOD: Frustrated while searching
Referring to oneself as "we" apparently to try to impress people with your professionalism
  • MOOD: Unimpressed
Calling it "Lucite" just because it's plastic
  • MOOD: Concerned about accuracy
Overpriced vintage junk
  • MOOD: Scoffing
  • MOOD: Depressed
Calling anything more or less flat a "sequin" just to get more hits
  • MOOD: Irritated cause you're steppin on my search results
Being invited to join an exclusive group for sellers that has a membership of thousands and also encourages buyers to join
  • MOOD: Don't waste my time
821,000+ search results for "earrings"
  • MOOD: Heading for nearby cliff to leap from
People who complain about vintage items not being in perfect condition
  • MOOD: Almost a migraine
Constant updates to Etsy seller's pages
  • MOOD: Groaning but willing to learn new tricks

Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple Art Attack Greeting Cards

While visiting my mother recently, I felt an art attack coming on. And me without any beads or art supplies! So I hustled on over to Joann's with my niece, who works there (lucky girl). While she headed for the beads section I was stopped in my tracks by the 40% off sale on all paper crafting supplies.

Next thing I knew, I was loading up my basket with a couple of postcard-sized cardstock pads and a box of 40 bright cards and envelopes. Couldn't resist those $1.00 rub on sheets, either, and then let myself go with a couple of K and Company goodies (so sparkly!). While I was at it, I picked up black and white gel pens, a glue stick, and one of those fancy corner punches.

At the register, I found out I also qualified for Allie's employee discount -- woohoo! That kept the bottom line down even more.

Back at mom's house, I searched and searched for some magazines or old books to cut up and collage onto the cards, but her coffee table was totally bare as she'd just sent her old mags out for recycling.

So we headed out for a quick trip to Borders, where even after scrounging the sale shelves once or twice, I hadn't found any pictures that moved me, until my nephew spotted a little book of world mythology for under $6.00.

Back home and still looking for something unique to affix to the cards, I think it was my mom who suggested using old lace. The upshot of that story is I came home with a huge bag of her vintage lace, most of which were purchased for making doll clothes, so they are tres petite and precious, and perfect for cards.

Banded card stock (punched at 2 corners), East Indian image,
presstype border,
vintage lace, teardrop rhinestone

Gold and purple cardstock (punched), Buddhist mandala,
vintage lace, rhinestone, white gel pen

Patterned card stock, 2 images from paintings,
flowered border sticker and vintage lace

Patterned card stock, image from a painting, rose stickers
(I have the urge to add some glitter to this one!)

All in all I've made 20 cards (2 batches of 10, each batch using one of each color in the box). Only 20 more cards to go, hehe. Although I'm back home now where so many other artsy things are distracting me...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pretty Pretty Tarot App

I'm not such a die hard Tarot fan, but I'm a complete sucker for old Tarot decks and their awesome graphics.

This app for my Android phone is called Tarot of Marseilles Lite.

 So cool, you "shuffle" the deck by shaking the phone, before drawing your 3 cards.

All the graphics are bright and clear, even the buttons and navigation are well illustrated.
The interpretations are fairly brief and seem to be translations into English by a non-Native speaker, but they are quaint.
You can draw a spread relating to Family, Love, or Career questions, and the interpretations are geared toward each type of question.
But mainly I'm here to talk about the GRAPHICS eh? You can zoom in on a card to get a closeup view: