Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

You've waited long enough... Here are the pictures of my tribal-style steampunk costume! Lovingly cobbled together out of things I already had -- I didn't buy anything specifically for this costume -- it's the perfect blending of two costume styles that I truly love.

From top to bottom we have:
-Steampunk feather clip from The Gypsy's Kiss. You may recognize this from my Dancehall Steampunk costume earlier this year.
-Three hairsticks tucked into my bun, sagging a bit because I'd already been dancing when this picture was taken.
-Primitive grey niobium earrings and earcuff from The Beaded Lily.
-My peacock feathers woven necklace. I was going to wear a steampunk necklace that Chris gave me, but it was too long, and this one matched the colors of the costume.
-Vest purchased from Target, upgraded with vintage glass buttons. I wore this last Halloween, too.
-My coin bra, which doesn't jingle much with a vest over it.
-Green lace choli with 3/4-length sleeves, purchased at Plaza de Anaya last week.
-Brass bracelet that Chris gave me for the holidays, awesome coin bracelet that I bought in NYC, and an assortment of rings that I grabbed on my way out the door.
-Tribal steampunk belt. My vest covers it in this picture, so I'll get better pics of it next week. I ended up tying it with some black grosgrain ribbon, and amazingly it stayed up all night.
-Bustle skirt! I'm so happy with how it turned out. There's nothing like wearing a bustle to dance.
-Gradiated sage green harem pants.
-I was wearing my sequined ballet flats, but they're really uncomfortable, so I kicked them off as soon as we arrived.

And here's a back view so that you can see the beautiful gathers on the back of my bustle skirt. Squee!

I hope that everyone has a fun Halloween. I'm spending mine at home with Chris, tidying up the office to make room for our new computers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Costume complete, but time running short

I'm happy to say that I managed to complete my crazy steampunk belt, which involves one "Abercrombie" brand cloth belt that I bought at a thrift store years ago, copper chain tassles given to me by a former friend, copper chain given to me for my birthday a couple years back, 8 vintage keys purchased from Gem Show, and the HUGE kuchi pendant-y thing given to me by my friend and mentor Helen. I might also add some ribbon to tie it closed, because I don't like the yarn ties it has.

Anyway, my cookies are in the oven, which is why I have a couple of minutes to pop on here and let you all know that I will take many pictures tonight and share them here and all over the Internet tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Armed with needle and thread...

Remember when I said that I was hoping to finish the mushroom pixie necklace this week? Yeah, I haven't touched it. When I made that statement, I forgot to take into affect the fact that Halloween is this week. Yesterday I was struck with the desire to make a bustle skirt, so I did. I took scissors, needle and thread to an old skirt of mine and bustled it up. It looks pretty sweet.

Today I had to stitch the elastic straps for my zills, and while I was doing that, I started thinking about Chris's steampunk costume, and how his vest would look a lot better if it had vintage brass buttons instead of cheap-o plastic ones. I'm almost done with that project. Tomorrow's project will be my crazy steampunk belt to go with my bustle skirt.

I swear I'll get some beading done over the weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who invited you, Autumn?

It was really windy yesterday. I had this silly hope that the wind was blowing in some much-needed rain, but no. It was blowing in Autumn! It's still windy today, but it's a cold wind, the kind that cuts right through clothing and leaves you shivering.

Summer was nice while it lasted!

Here in Tucson, sometimes we have very warm Halloweens, and I can wear belly dance costumes outdoors. Othertimes, like this year, it's the sort of Halloween where I want to just wrap up in a beautiful cloak. I'll probably compromise, and wear a belly dance costume, but not bare my midriff. Or I might just wear some Ren Faire clothes from my pre-dancing days. We'll see what mood strikes me on Saturday. Who knows, maybe it will have warmed up a bit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

For evenings and weekends

During "business hours" I try to work on jewelry for my shop. But on evenings and weekends, I've been working on this. It's called Twinkle, Twinkle and it's Beki Haley's class project from the Tahoe retreat. Those four pinwheel-looking stars will eventually be hanging from the ends of the spiraling herringbone rope. I did 4" of rope yesterday while waiting for Chris, adding onto the 10" I already had, so there's not too much longer to go.

Both this necklace and the Mushroom Pixie are woven with a new-ish thread called One-G. Made in Japan and distrubuted by the Toho company, it's a bonded Nylon thread. It has everything I love about Nymo (drape, ease of threading) and less of what I hate (fraying and knotting). It also costs 3 times as much, so I probably won't switch over to it entirely (after all, I still have most of a huge spool of black size B Nymo), but it's definitely fun to work with.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New computer soon!

Chris has purchased all of the parts to build us identically awesome new gaming machines. I'm quite eager for this, as my current computer is about 5 years old and barely runs Guild Wars (a game that is 4 years old). I can't even try out new games to see if I like them, because my computer can't handle them, even at the lowest graphics settings.

The fun part will be transferring over 4-5 years worth of files... Stories, photos, random junk. I cleaned it out recently, but there's still tons of stuff on this beast. Some of these files date back 10 years or more, to my old on-line roleplaying days. You'd think I'd get rid of them, since I haven't looked at most of them in a decade, but nostalgia is a powerful force.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time for dancing. Lots of dancing.

Thursday was the last night of my current belly dance class. Having taken Beginner C and Beginner A, I figured I would be taking Beginner B this session. However, there are no beginner classes for the Winter session, only a fast-track class that reviews A, B and C and then transitions the dancers into intermediate moves.

My options were:
Take this 8-week session off and practice at home.
Switch to the beginner classes offered by another teacher.
Ask to be allowed into the Fast-Track class even though I've only taken 2/3 of the prerequisites.

I opted for the third choice, permission was given, and now I've challenged myself to have at least passing knowledge with all Beginner B moves by Thursday, as well as having practiced A moves and refreshed myself on C, which I've barely practiced while I've been trying to perfect A and survive the gym.

I'm very excited about this, as moving up to intermediate is a big step forward for me. It also means I'll finally learn zills. Every time I dance in public, someone asks me why I don't have them... Little realizing that it's hard enough to keep track of what my hips, shoulders, feet, hands and whatever else are doing, without playing a musical instrument as well ;)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A little preview

This is one of my current projects! A little vintage faerie button, in a peyote-stitch bezel. Next up comes the accents! Red and white is not a palette I do very often, but I decided that I really wanted to stick with it for this piece (without drawing the blue, green, yellow or black into it) because of the iconic white-spotted red mushrooms. I hope to finish it early next week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whoops, leaving early!

I thought I'd have time for an actual blog post, but Chris just informed me that he wants to leave early, so I'd better go finish getting ready for class. It's the last class of this session, and tonight we have to practice leading slow moves! Yikes! I've been drilling my snake arms in preparation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Medusa Rocks!

Face of the Gorgon is my second Medusa-themed necklace... Third if you count the one that I made for myself with this same focal. I just love Medusa!

I had some fun combining stones for this necklace. The nephrite jade echoes the shape of the pendant, whereas the lizardite has a snake-skin like appearance. I actually had the chance to purchase some beads that were made with real snake skin, but they felt really gross. I couldn't stand touching them. I don't know if the texture was really that bad, or if my natural aversion to snakes was kicking in.

The nephrite, lizardite, and eagle eye from yesterday's necklace all came from the Rings and Things show in May. They have another show coming up on November 1st, but I don't think I'll be attending it, since I'm hoping to go up to the Phoenix area on Friday the 30th for a Halloween party. Three trips to Phoenix in 4 days would just be too much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gothic Roots

When I started making jewelry 11 years ago, a lot of my designs were Gothic in nature. This was partially because I liked the aesthetic, partially because hematite beads were cheap, and partially because those designs sold well on eBay. There are still some Gothic designs in my shops, but lately I've been leaning a lot more towards steampunk.

However, earlier this month I got dressed up for a night on the town with Chris, and I ended up pretty Gothed out. Admittedly, there were steampunk influences, but I was wearing all black and grey, and it reminded me of how much I love the Goth aesthetic, and how I need to remember to use it more in my jewelry.

Along those lines, I present Beneath an October Moon, the latest addition to my Etsy shop.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Turning of the Wheel

Wheel of Destiny is today's Daily Special. This particular brass stamping is one of my favorites. I need to find more, preferably in the states this time (I ordered this batch from Canada, and I hate how long it takes things to arrive from there).

I have some ideas in mind to make another piece or two today. My shop definitely needs more new items to fill it out, especially with the holidays around the corner.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fish-related disaster

Well, not really, but it's a fun title for a blog post. We were supposed to have fish for dinner tonight. The instructions said to baste it with butter and broil it. But the butter got so hot that it burned holes through the foil and filled the house with smoke after only 5 minutes of broiling. We decided that aluminum-flavored fish was not the ideal meal, so we went out for burritos instead.

And that's really the most exciting thing that happened all weekend. We gamed a bit, I got a lot of work done on my necklace from Beki Haley's class at the bead retreat, and the corgis were cute as ever. Also, I finished reading the last book in a trilogy I've really been enjoying. Good times, just not much to blog about.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun times not as advertised

Here's a picture of my Mistress of Ghosts earrings. Blogger is being dumb and rotating pictures for no reason again, but we can pretend that I just took the photo at an artsy angle.

So, as the title of this post suggests, last night's concert was not quite what I and my fellow belly dancers expected. First of all, despite the fliers saying that the show started at 9pm, they didn't let people in until after 9, and then we had to sit through 2 hours of the house DJ, who was playing very loud hip-hop. Things at least got interesting after an hour and a half, when the previously empty dance floor became the stage for a few hip hop/break dancers to show off their very impressive moves. At around 11, the opening act came up. Unfortunately, this was another DJ, and his music wasn't that great.

Finally, Beats Antique took the stage at somewhere between 11:30 and midnight, and the dance floor filled up. It was an interesting mix of belly dancers, burlesque dancers (and some bleed over between those two groups), break dancers, normal people at a club dancers, people standing on the floor just swaying a bit, and one annoying trancy guy who was taking up more than his fair share of floor space.

The music was pretty good, though much more skewed towards the hip-hop end and not so much the Middle Eastern and Gypsy influenced pieces that I've seen belly dancers performing to. They also didn't have Zoe Jakes dancing for them, which was a big disappointment. I still managed to have some fun dancing (after all, I've applied my moves to disco, metal, and classic rock), but it was really not what I expected.

After a bit, the breakdancers pretty much took over the floor, and I got shoved into a corner as everyone else crowded in to see what was going on. Now, admittedly, those guys had some awesome skills and I really enjoyed watching them... But I came there to dance as well! Maybe if the club hadn't set up tables on more than half the dance floor (most of which were not occupied), there would have been room for everyone to have their own little space to dance.

I think I'd probably see Beats Antique live again if given the chance, but only if I knew they were actually coming on stage at a decent hour, and with a reasonable sized dance floor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun times tonight!

After class tonight, we're heading right over to a Beats Antique concert that happens to conveniently be happening just down the road 40 minutes after class. I'm pretty excited, as other than shows at Ren Faire, I have not seen a concert since I was a kid. I'm looking forward to some good music, some dancing, and hopefully a bit of socializing with my fellow dancers.

Of course, I have to leave in a little over an hour and I'm still having an internal debate on what to wear -- decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A little different.

The Gatekeeper Medallion is an experiment in mixed metals and mixed media. It's also my new favorite necklace! The combination of elements really speaks to me, so I'm hoping that it will speak just as loudly to someone else out there.

Normally I would have just hung the pendant from the brass chain, but I wanted to work some silver into the chain to balance the silver in the pendant. Then when I was weaving the silver chain through the brass, it naturally fell to one side, leaving the other side empty, so I decided to weave in the black ribbon for extra texture and to match the black etching on the shell.

Today's other new items are Little Elf Shoes, Mistress of Ghosts, and Wheel of Destiny.

Back to being busy.

After a week of being mostly-lazy following my return from Tahoe, this week I had to get back into the swing of things for real. That meant piles of laundry for the last two days, some jewelry creation today (and lots more tomorrow!), and returning to the gym.

I'm really excited about the new designs I'm creating, and I hope to be able to share a couple of them tomorrow. My shop is in desperate need of some fresh jewelry!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dancing Pictures

The lovely and talented Colleen Theodore took many pictures of me dancing at the Tahoe retreat. I sorted out the best ones (ie, the ones where my posture wouldn't make my teacher cry), and put them in this album on Facebook. You need not be a Facebook member to view them!

I learned a couple of important lessons with this impromptu performance, such as "always test your costume before performing" (my scarf came unwrapped, and one bra strap kept slipping), and "if it's freezing outside, don't leave your shoes in one room and then walk across the courtyard to dance in another." Also "when dancing in your friend's temporary bead store, watch out for wire racks." I still have a mark from that last one...

Needless to say, next time I travel, I'll travel prepared. I'll bring a real, pre-tested costume, and I'll write down which tracks on which CDs I want to use for my performance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So much driving!

To make up for lost time, I did a lot of driving this weekend. Parking practice, errands, date night, daytime and night time driving. I have to drive Chris home from laser eye surgery* while he's loopy on Vallium, so I need to be confident enough to be as if I was driving by myself. Of course, if he's loopy enough to be a distraction, I'll have to call someone else to drive us BOTH home!

*Surgery performed on his eyes with lasers. Not surgery to give him laser eyes, which would be 500 times cooler.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trees in the Wind

I snapped this picture a week ago at the Bead Retreat, as the wind was blowing in the clouds that would later dump snow on us. Those yellow and orange trees in the middle were the only ones I saw that were changing color. Of course, the mountains themselves were covered in evergreen pines, but all of those trees look like the sort that should have been colorful.

It's hard to believe that I've been home for less than a week... this has been a very long week, and slightly overwhelming. I'm having a hard time catching up on everything I need to do. At least I'm getting a little beading done, as yesterday's post illustrated.

Today I finally went back to the gym. It kicked my butt, but at least I don't seem to have injured myself this time around. On Tuesday I restart the evening classes, since I missed more than half of them the first time around. I'll still miss a third due to dance class, but oh well.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Created with Crystals.

Today I sat down and played with my goodies from! When I was told that September was Swarovski month, I decided to spoil myself with a few of the newer fancy Pendant styles. The above necklace features a 45mm Article 6905 -- Dragonfly Pendant in Crystal Golden Shadow, and some 8mm Deep Brown Pearls from Artbeads, plus a Karen Sherwood lampwork bead, 4mm Ceylon Topaz bicones and green Czech glass from my own personal stash, topped off with a pewter Dragonfly clasp purchased in New York a couple of years ago. I call this necklace "Dragonfly Goddess" because the swelling of the bicone makes her look quite fertile.

I was really excited about the Dragonfly Pendant when I first saw it at the Swarovski party in February, so I lept at the chance to play with one now. In person, I'm very dissapointed by how asymmetrical it is. Lately, Swarovski has really been leaning towards these bizarre uneven shapes, and as someone who loves symmetry, I'm having a hard time getting enthusiastic designing with them. I definitely will not be buying any more Dragonfly pendants, which is a shame because they'd be perfect for my line.

The Deep Brown pearls, on the other hand, are just what I expected. The color is rich and lustrous, like dark chocolate. Swarovski really does make the best imitation pearl on the market, and I always love working with them. 8mm is larger than I usually use, but I wanted a big bead to be the head of the dragonfly pendant.
I also ordered two Article 6150 Pegasus pendants in Jet. My idea was to just dangle them at the end of some chain, or a few beaded strands, to make a simple lariat. However, while I was in Tahoe I saw this beautiful piece of black kyanite and it reminded me of folded raven wings, and it was flat enough on the back to be glued down for bead embroidery. Together, these components will form the focal point of a necklace called "The Morrigan's Wings" which I hope to start on soon.

Because Autumn is upon us, the shadows are a bit long in these photos... I'll have to try to get some better ones over the weekend.

Note: Technically I should be calling all of the crystals CRYSTALLIZED (tm) Swarovski Elements but who wants to type that half a dozen times per blog post?

Disclaimer: In keeping with FTC regulations, I need to disclose that provided free beads to me in return for me reviewing them in my blog and linking back to their site. I am receiving no payment for these posts other than free beads, all of which are being blogged about.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Standing in the snow

Here you go, photographic evidence of the fact that it snowed in Tahoe, and I actually went outdoors! If you're wondering why my arms are crossed, it's because I didn't expect it to snow during the day, so I foolishly left my coat in my room. I was COLD!

The picture was taken by my friend Betcey, who is from the mountains of Colorado where snow is a frequent occurrence, and this tiny dusting would be nothing to remark upon in her home. But she knew that for a desert girl like me, this was a Big Deal, so she offered to take a picture for posterity :)

The snow came on so suddenly that most of the trees in the area hadn't changed colors yet, so you can see the pretty contrast of the white snow on the green leaves in the background. Some plants even had icicles on them, but I didn't have my camera at hand when I saw them.

I'm so glad to be back in AZ where the temps have been very pleasant 70s since I got home!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Visit The Shelley House

While I was away, The Shelley House opened its virtual doors! Though our selection is still small, each item is an amazing hand-crafted treasure. I'm so excited to see what the future months bring, and I hope that you'll remember to check in periodically to see what we've been up to.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This is my full report on the Tahoe Mountain Bead Retreat, sans pictures because I don't feel like tearing my suitcase apart to find the USB cord for my camera. I'm going to break it down into The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, as stated above, and I'm going to be perfectly honest, which may not win me some friends, but I think that the bad is just as important as the good, because people should be informed of what to expect if they're in the market to go to a retreat.

The Good

-All of our teachers and classes were great. I already knew that Beki Haley was a good teacher, as I'd taken a class from her at the Vegas Retreat and used several of her on-line tutorials. I also expected to enjoy Sherry Serafini's class, because she's one of my bead idols and the book that she co-authored with Heidi Kumli really helped me become proficient with bead embroidery. I was less familiar with Marcia deCoster, but I found that she was a great, fun teacher as well. I made decent progress on all three of my projects and am looking forward to finishing them.

-Sherry gets extra props because she gave everyone a Halloween goodie bag with mini candy bars, silly rubber toys (I got a spider ring!), crystals and cabs. We teased the other teachers about it all week. "Well, SHERRI gave us chocolate!" I don't think they appreciated that much ;)

-The free classes on Thursday were fun, although far less challenging. I enjoyed the opportunity to play with some new techniques and materials, and everyone who was teaching or helping did a good job.

-Laura Timmons was just plain awesome. Fun, friendly, generous, and quick with a compliment.

-The hospitality suite was well-stocked with tea, soda, cookies, fresh fruit, and other refreshments that I'm less familiar with because I didn't partake of them.

-The other hospitality suite was a full-service Out on a Whim bead booth, stocked with all sorts of wonderful goodies for sale throughout the retreat. You could either purchase things right away, or have a tray that you threw things into until you were ready to check out.

-When lunch ran crazy-late one day, the Bead Unique staff delivered our afternoon fresh-baked cookies directly to our class rooms, so we didn't have to stop beading to run downstairs to the hospitality suite.

-Bead Unique editor Pamela Hawkins sat with various members of my group several times to discuss what we did and didn't like about the retreat and what we might like to see at future retreats.

-Food in the Village was mostly delcious, service was friendly at all restaurants, and the little shops were cute and also well-staffed by smiling, helpful people.

-The swag bags and raffles were full of great stuff.

-Beki made sure that all of us wild and crazy gals from my home bead forum were together in the same class, and that everyone else in our class could handle us when we got raunchy. It was so great to spend 3-4 days with old and new friends.

-Rooming with my friend Maia, who I've known for almost 10 years but only met in person twice before now, was perfect. We both had the same low tolerance for cold, love tea, and were happy to spend our evenings talking with each other or calling/IMing home.

-The room was pretty good, other than the over-zealous heating. We had a full-sized kitchen, a super-deep tub and high pressure shower, a fireplace, and my couch bed was very comfy. The view from the balcony was great, though I didn't spend more than a few minutes on it due to the temperature.

-Dancing for friends and strangers, in a mostly spur-of-the-moment way, in a costume cobbled out of things I'd brought, with a borrowed stereo, and not losing my lunch due to stage fright.

-Generous beaders gave me rides to and from the airport, so I didn't have to pay for an expensive shuttle.

-Sherry and I were on the same flight out of Reno, and my new friend Jamie was leaving at the same time on a different carrier, so we all shared a fun farewell lunch at the airport. It was so much nicer than eating by myself!

The Bad

-After being asked repeatedly what we needed to bring, Bead Unique told us that we didn't need to bring anything, everything we needed would be provided in our kits, we just needed scissors for Thursday's class. While everything we needed was in fact provided for the free Thursday classes, we arrived at Sherri's class Friday to be told that of course she didn't provide needles and thread, because everyone had their own preference. Marcia told us the same thing on Saturday. Beki was the only one who included needles and thread. I was lucky to be in a class full of beadweavers wiser than me, who had packed their own needles and thread and generously shared with me. I hope the other classes were equally lucky!

-Though the restaurants did their best to handle over 60 hungry beaders in a timely fashion, our lunch hours usually ended up running late. This was especially true when we had Saturday's lunch at Twenty-Two Bistro, which had opened especially for us (they were closed for the off-season). While it seems like a nice idea in concept, in reality, the kitchen staff seemed pretty overwhelmed and it took forever to get our food. One person at my table had been served, finished eating, and left the restaurant long before my lunch arrived.

-Snow. Ok, yes, it was pretty. Yes, everyone was right, the cold temperatures feel warmer at a high altitude than they do in Tucson. But it was still cold, I still wasn't quite appropriately dressed, and I still slipped down icy stairs, banged my knee, and sent my luggage flying everywhere.

-Thursday's Meet the Teachers Dessert Social. Yes, you could in fact briefly meet your teachers as you purchased your kits for the week's classes, but if you wanted to say more than five words to them, you'd be holding up the line of the other 50 beaders behind you who also wanted to buy kits. Then by the time you got out of line, your seat had been stolen.

-Did I mention the over-zealous heater? The hotel had awesome heating provided by hot-water pipes under the floor. This meant that you could step out of the shower onto toasty warm tiles. But despite the fact that we had the thermostat set to 70, it never shut off on Wednesday. I woke up at 5am and found the bathroom floor was almost too hot to walk on, and I was drenched in sweat, so I turned the heat off completely. When Maia got up at 8, she went to turn it off because it was still swelteringly hot in the room! We had to leave the balcony door open all day to let the heat out. For the rest of our stay, we had the heater off, but even the ambient heat of the building was sometimes too much. Oh yes, and all of my chocolate melted on that first day :(

-There was a huge discrepency in the quality of raffle prizes. Some were crazy-nice (worth $100 or more), some were very nice ($50 range), some were pretty nice ($10-20) and some were meh ($1-5). Some people won multiple very nice prizes and others won no prizes at all. One friend of mine who doesn't string won a small package of crimp tubes. Twice. I think it would have been better if it worked life past raffles I'd been in, where you could pick your prize. Maybe the big-ticket prizes could have been raffled seperately, and then all other winners could have their choice of the smaller prizes. Then no one would get a book they already had, or something they couldn't use, wouldn't consume, whatever. Alternatively, really small prizes could have been bundled together into goodie bags.

-We were told that there would be sparkling cider for the non-drinkers at the farewell champagne toast. Now, I think this is relatively important. There are people like me who don't drink because they don't like the taste. There are people who don't drink for moral/religious reasons. And there are people who can't drink for medical reasons. When I asked if there was sparkling cider, I was given a weird look and eventually handed a glass of apple juice from a can, as were the other non-drinkers. Someone else said that it seemed like there was *supposed* to be cider and someone dropped the ball on getting it... but even if that is the case, the correct response is "Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have any. Would you like apple juice instead?" (in which case I would have asked for water, because goodness do I hate plain apple juice) not a strange look.

-Did I mention the snow?

The Ugly

As I mentioned before, Cthuhlu took voter's choice for the "I Don't Think So" Ugly category in the Ugly Contest. After the contest was over, a couple of people tried to take their items, and were told that they weren't done with them yet. Everyone seemed to assume they would get them back at the end of the retreat.

On Sunday, they went around announcing when the farewell toast would be. They also said that they would be photographing the Uglies and getting them back to us. I took that to mean that they were photographing them that afternoon and we could retrieve them after the toast.

After the toast, I was returning to my room to get my evaluation form so I could turn it in, and I realized that they hadn't given Cthulhu back to me, nor had I seen anyone else getting their projects back. When I got back with my form minutes later, everyone had cleared out of the hospitality suite and the Bead Unique/All American Crafts staff were getting ready to tear things down. I could see the box full of uglies sitting right there.

I asked if I could take mine back, and I was told no, they still needed to photograph them. I said... when? Could I get him tomorrow before I left? I was then told that Pamela was taking them back with her and she was going to sleep for the first two days she was home (not that I can blame her on that count, I did far less work than her and I'm wiped out). I pointed out that I had spent *two months* working on mine, it was a major project, and I was not happy with their cavalier attitude as to when he would be returned to me. No one seemed to care.

My anger built up as I walked over to the Pub where a bunch of my friends were gathering for one last dinner together. I told them what happened, and I got a strong chorus of support and people telling me that I did not have to let them take Cthulhu. One friend confided in me that I had every right to feel uncomfortable about it, as they'd had one piece of hers for one year and another for two. So I said OK, I'm going back to get him! My friend Nikki came to be my moral support -- or maybe to make sure I didn't hit anyone ;)

When I got back, Pam was back, and I said "I'm taking my ugly." She said that they were going to take them home and photograph them and eventually mail them back. I pointed out that once again, this was 2 months of my life, my most major project ever, and furthermore, I had not signed anything giving them any rights to take him. I pulled him out of the box and left. She just stared at me and didn't respond.

The next day, several Bead Unique/All American Crafts staffers were also on the same flight as Sherry and I. They walked up to say Hi to us, and one of them (Russel I think) told me that I could have trusted Pam with my project. I said thank you, that's nice, but I did not want him out of my hands for any length of time, nor did I want to chance him being damaged by the USPS.

But the truth is, I was worried about a lot more than USPS damage. I was worried about not getting my project back for a year or more. Possibly never. And do you know why? Cthulhu was in the bottom of the box, under some neck displays, with no packaging. No label to say who he belonged to. He had been seperated from the bag of books I'd given for him to sit on (some trashy 1970s Lovecraft paperbacks). None of the items were labeled or wrapped up. I didn't see anyone taking any note on who he belonged to when I turned him in.

Honestly, after seeing that, I was supposed to expect that he'd arrive home undamaged and in a timely manner? I'd have been lucky to ever see him again.

Now generally, I try very hard to promote a good image to magazine editors, writers, and other staff, in case I ever wanted to submit a project or article. I like to have a good reputation within the bead industry -- and I think I've built a decent little one, through my work with BFAC and as a gem show vendor helper and that crazy girl dancing at the Swarovski party. But on Sunday night, I didn't give one whit whether Bead Unique and All American Crafts thought that I was a primadonna, a bitch, or any other appelation applied to a difficult woman. The fact of the matter is that they were the ones in the wrong, for never telling anyone that the Ugly Project entries would not be returned to their creators at the end of the show. That should have been spelled out from the very beginning.

And if anyone's made it through this entire post, I applaud your patience.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Home and stuff

I arrived home safely, but I am absolutely exhausted and not feeling that great. Hopefully tomorrow will bring the energy I need to unpack, find my camera cord, and do a full retreat report... but for now I'm going to collapse into bed.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stories to tell

I am so very tired, after a very long day which was chock-full. Friends, beading, snow, stress, righteous anger, pub food, packing, hugs of farewell, it was crazy.

I have a lot of things to say, but no time to say them tonight. I'm leaving here at 9am tomorrow, and I won't get home until around 4pm. Luckily the snow has stopped for now, so I should have a safe drive home.

Regular full-length blogging with pictures shall return soon!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I walked through snow flurries in my pajamas today.

That's really all you need to know.

Awesome Day

Ok, I'm blogging after midnight and I should be in bed and I still have e-mail to write, so today's awesomeness will be given in bullet points.

1: Sherri Serafini is a great teacher and I love the project she designed for this retreat. I got a lot done on mine and hope to do more work tomorrow night at the pajama party.

2: The ugly contest was tonight. There were 14 entrants. Cthulhu won the "I don't think so" Ugly, which I'm guessing my lovely friends interpreted as "I don't think he's ugly" because they kept saying how adorable/cute/nice he was.

3. I danced tonight, for a mixed group of my friends and random retreat attendees. A few people clearly didn't like it, but most really enjoyed it. I had my first bout of stage fright, but I got over it. Shout-out to Bead Unique editor Pamela for loaning me her stereo, my friend and retreat roomie Maia for handling my music, and Colleen for taking photos that will hopefully turn out because she has a nice camera and skills.

4: There was other stuff but I'm so tired that I forgot it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hello from Tahoe!

Hello everyone! Tahoe* is great. It's cold, and only supposed to get colder, but our room is so ridiculously hot (even with the heat off) that I'm wishing I had brought my summer pajamas. All of the other public areas have been pleasantly warm, too, so I haven't turned into an elf-cicle yet.

I'm having a wonderful time here with friends old and new. Today we had our free extra classes, an assortment of four relatively simple projects, including wire crochet with beads, and making pendants with Super Gloss or whatever it's called. I really enjoyed playing with some new techniques. I also won some Vintaj components in a raffle, yay!

Tonight was the dessert social, which was also supposed to be meet the teachers... the only problem was that the teachers were also selling their kits, so there wasn't really a lot of opportunity to speak with them. I picked up my three gorgeous kits, ate some dessert, and caught up with friends. I wore my Steampunk Cameo necklace, which got tons of compliments, including from my idol Sherri Serafini.

All in all, a very good day, and I can't wait until the real classes start tomorrow!

*Technically I'm in a place called Squaw Valley, but I really hate that word, so I'm pretending it's actually Tahoe.