Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exciting new stone beads!

As planned, today I trekked up to Mesa for the Rings & Things bead show. I still find it weird that they have these shows mid-week, but I guess it allows them to do several shows a week and spread the beady love around, so I can't complain.

These shows are great because they have table after table of quality stone beads, properly labeled as to what they are and how they're treated. If a stone is dyed and heated quartz masquerading as something more valuable, Rings & Things will make sure you know it. They're also good about dealing with stone suppliers who treat their stone cutters fairly, so I don't have to feel guilty about my purchases.

I don't think I bought quite as much as last year, probably because I still haven't touched quite a few of last year's strands, and I didn't have Chris twisting my arm to get me to buy things I was hesitant about, but I did get some nice stuff.

From top to bottom:

Black lava coins; dyed red lava; dyed cream lava; brown lava rectangles; dyed green lava coins; black labradorite; kiwi quartz; pyrite coins; faceted mossy agate; color-gradiated chrysoprase rondelles; green two-hole, flat-back pearls; rough cut black tourmaline; assorted glass skulls; black pyrite ovals; heated quartz matrix; big round black lava.

Clearly I did not really move far from my green/brown/black/metallic comfort zone on this trip, but hey... they're all pretty!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving

Laura McCabe is pretty much my beading idol (well, one of them). Her floral work is so faerie-like, and her edgier pieces with prosthetic eyes and stone spikes appeal to my macabre Gothic side. So when I heard that her new book was out, I bought it sight unseen. I didn't even know the title at the time. I just knew that it had to be mine.

This was a well-chosen impulse buy! Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving focuses on giving your beadwork a luscious, textural appeal. The basic techniques that Laura teaches are pretty simple, and you may already be using variations of them. The genius is in how she uses and combines them.

Embellished Beadweaving is the 3rd volume in Lark Books' Beadweaving Master Class series. Like the previous two books, it starts out with an introduction to beadweaving, a bit of history, and some detailed tips on what tools, supplies and beads the author recommends. There's also a short chapter where Laura describes her process for gathering inspiration, and explains the focus on natural inspiration in the books' projects.

Some beaders like to learn technique, and apply it to their own project. Others like to be given a project that teaches them the techniques. The Beadweaving Master Class series is designed with both of these types of beaders in mind. Embellished Beadweaving has an entire chapter dedicated to the various embellishment techniques that Laura uses in the projects. The final chapter has 18 projects in Laura's signature styles, ranging from relatively simple rings to incredibly complex necklaces. I've unfortunately not had a chance to test any of the projects yet, but the directions look relatively clear. There's ample text, with easy-to-read graphics of the important steps.

This book also has lots of eye candy. In addition to gorgeous photographs of each project, the book is sprinkled with photos of Laura's past work, and then in the back there's a huge gallery of inspirational works -- all various embellished beadwork in a variety of styles, from the biggest names in the bead world.

I would consider this book a must for anyone who admires Laura's work and would like to bead more like her, especially if you can't take a class with her. I for one can't wait to try most of the projects, and I really hope the book will help me add some rich dimensionality that my own beading is lacking.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sale sale SALE!

I'm having a sale in my Etsy shop! Click here to view my brand-new sale section! There's fantasy, tribal, steampunk and more. Please note that if you purchase two or more sale items, I will refund your shipping costs. This even goes for international orders.

What do all of these sale items have in common? They're all made with stone or shell beads. The sale is inspired by the fact that Rings & Things is coming back to Mesa on Tuesday, and I want to buy more gorgeous stone beads. As I was debating whether I really needed to take a special trip to Mesa to buy more stone beads (after all, I didn't buy any at gem show), I realized that many of the items that I'd made with last year's stone purchases had in fact sold, some of them rather quickly. Clearly, stones are a good investment for me and I should probably get around to using more of them.

I've also brought back the Daily Special. Today's special is the Forest Singers earring pair. I'm honestly surprised that these have never sold, but then again, I've never been able to get a really good picture of them. Take my word for it, they're very cute! Daily Specials count towards the free shipping offer, too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book reviews coming up

I'm pretty worn out from the gym and shopping and such, so this is just a quick post to let you know that on my shopping trip, I acquired two more bead books, so my upcoming review list is:

Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving (squeeee!)

Crystal Brilliance by Anna Elizabeth Draegar

Seed Bead Fusionby Rachel Nelson Smith

Enchanted Adornments by Cynthia Thornton

While I was at JoAnn's, I also picked up their class catalog so I can hopefully get into a Sewing 101 class and get myself on the path to making my own costumes. My sewing machines have languished unused for too long!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Beads For Birthdays!

My package from my secret Beads for Birthdays buddy was slightly delayed, but that's alright, it just stretches out the birthday fun! It arrived this past Friday and I dove right in! In fact, I forgot to take pictures of all the cute white boxes tied with green ribbons... but here's a photo of my lovely gifts!

There are three cabochons, one black onyx, one tree agate, and one super delightful sparkly fuchsite from Siberia.

Three strands of glass: pale green leaves that nicely compliment the fuchsite, little bronze daggers, and big vitrail-like daggers.

One strand of what I think is a lab-grown tourmaline. Each bead is half green, half yellow, and they have a wonderful weight and perfect machine facets.

One triangle dish, which is super-helpful for sorting and cleaning up beads.

One tribal-inspired pendant in a dark brassy-bronzey-gunmetaly color.

Five tubes of assorted shapes and sizes of seed beads, including some yummy marbled 11s. I've slowly been collecting these, and I didn't have the pink-marbled olive yet (which isn't very pink, it's more of a copper).

One slim-line faerie journal. I think this will be very good for keeping to-do lists, and it should fit in my purse so I can take my lists with me.

One sparkly faerie birthday card! The handwriting inside looks familiar... perhaps a BFAC participant? I won't sleuth around and spoil the surprise.

Not shown: one box of Lipton Super Fruit Green Tea with White Peach and Mangosteen. It makes delicious iced tea! I've already had about 4 glasses of it. Yum yum!

Here's a shot of the fuchsite cab, I was trying to capture how awesome and sparkly it is, but the camera isn't cooperating.
Thank you, secret birthday buddy! I love my gifts and I can't wait to design with them :)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy World Belly Dance Day!

Today is World Belly Dance Day! And I didn't know until yesterday. What a bummer. If I had known ahead of time, I would have made plans. Instead I need to settle for dancing at home. Alone.

But! Here's a little celebration in my blog... a celebration of how much I love tribal jewelry. Last weekend, I noticed that Beads Galore was conveniently located on the route between my hotel and the studio. I have to avoid their gigantic booth at the gem show (it's larger than most of my local bead stores), because my budget simply can't handle it. But I couldn't just drive by and not stop in... especially not since it was my birthday and I had birthday money to spend! So I told myself that I was only allowed to buy tribal stuff, and not even look at their fabulous selection of Czech glass, and this is what I found!

Amazing green vaseline glass. Most of the other vaseline glass was $50-70 a strand. These rondelles were only $15. I'm pretty sure it was fate.

Black horn beads with metal. The silver-tone metal has a floral design. Very pretty and versatile, and rather lightweight for the size, too.

Horn and bone hairsticks. All but the eye-patterned one have horizontal holes near the top, which will make it easy to attach dangling strands of beads. The eye one has the more standard vertical hole for gluing in a headpin.

Afghani coin pendants and button. All with green glass "gems" set in them. Probably destined for a green coin bra, except the button which will either be a bracelet clasp or get used as the button to fasten an entari (a jacket-vest thing that we dancers wear under a bodice or a gahwazee coat).

Big Afghani pendants. One might also become part of the green bra, one will go with the vaseline glass. I haven't decided which will go with which yet.

Stretchy black skull bracelet. Will remain a bracelet until such a time as I decide to cut it up and use those awesome little skullies for something else.

Since I bought all of this swag with birthday money, it will mostly go into jewelry for me, but I have a feeling that the leftovers will trickle into stock for the Etsy shop! I can't hoard all the gorgeous tribal stuff to myself!

Friday, May 07, 2010

MZ Glass Design Challenge!

Just a quick blog post before I go pick Chris up from the airport (yay!). I wanted to let you all know about the MZ Glass Design Challenge, which I helped brainstorm (I love brainstorming!). The name says it all... Margaret Zinser is challenging you to design with her beads. In return, she's offering up $1000 worth of bead prizes! $600 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, and $100 for 3rd place.

The complete rules can be found in this blog post. I think one of the best rules is that you can enter as many times as you want, so you don't have to try to decide which of your design ideas is best, if you have multiple beads and multiple ideas (I sure do!). Also, the fact that designs in all media are welcome, it's not just for jewelry designers. I for one am hoping that someone will make a doll with butterfly wings. Just saying.

Expect further blogging this weekend, as I had numerous subjects I wanted to talk about today, but this one won because I've been meaning to mention it all week and I didn't have to take any photographs first.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fire and Tribal and Swords, oh my!

That's my plan for the evening. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it? Classes were a lot of fun last week. I'm enjoying learning Palm Flame and Sword, as they're two props that I'd love to be able to perform with someday (not at the same time!), and Tribal is always awesome. This session we're focusing on honing technique even more, layering shimmies, adding zills, and still learning some new moves, because Anaya Tribal has a huge vocabulary and we want to know it allllll.

I also got some new beading books in the mail today, which I've only had a little time to flip through, but hopefully I'll read them this weekend and get a chance to post some book reviews next week, as well as probably posting my Egg Moon necklace, which I got back to work on this morning.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Inana at Dusk

You may have noticed this necklace in the picture from my solo. I created it Friday afternoon, specifically to go with my teal silks. I already had the ceramic and rhinestone-embellished beads, but I needed a focal... which practically landed in my lap on my first day of my new job, when I admired the lovely teal and gunmetal bead and MZ said I could take it. Gunmetal lampworked spacers, indicolite Swarovski crystals and faceted freshwater pearls provide the perfect accents between the larger beads. I also added a floral crescent moon pendant, because it's pretty and I wanted a big focal.
I call this necklace Inana at Dusk, because by the time I finished draping myself in silk and veils, painting my face with makeup and layering on as much jewelry as I had packed, I couldn't decide if I looked like a goddess or a prostitute. And so my crowning jewel is named after the patron of temple prostitutes, the daughter of the moon god, Inana.

If you're enchanted by the lampwork focal in this necklace and would like something similar, make sure to check out MZ Glass. Margaret makes a lot of tribal-appropriate lampwork!

(Full disclosure: yes, I now work for MZ Glass, but I was pushing her beads long before I was her employee!)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Miss July, The Grass Moon Faerie Pin Up

Oh my goodness! Jewelry! New jewelry! On my blog and in my Etsy shop!

It seems like lately, I've mostly been talking about dancing and how busy I am, so it's time to get things back on track by sharing Miss July with you. Yes, my entry for the April challenge is named for July. I thought she looked more like a Summer faerie, since she's wearing bright yellow and orange and running through really tall grass. Well actually, maybe she's a tiny faerie and it's normal-sized grass. It's hard to tell with the wee folk.

I totally blew the deadline on Grass Moon/Egg Moon, but other teammates did not! Visit the FAE Team Blog to see the wonderful Spring creations of my imaginative friends.

Monday, May 03, 2010

My first (official) solo

The above picture was taken by my friend and classmate Jen. Thank you, Jen!

So, I've danced solos before, for visiting friends and family, and at the Tahoe retreat. But Friday night was my first time performing a solo at an organized event, for a decent-sized audience (actually, the audience was so big that I almost freaked out). Judging by the number of compliments I got afterwards (even from people who don't know me), I'm guessing I did pretty good! I haven't actually watched the video yet, so I don't know for sure. I'm going to bask in the glow of feeling talented before I watch the video and nitpick all the things I did wrong.

I performed to "The Hunt" by Niyaz. The song is about a man who goes out hunting, but everything that he sees reminds him of his beloved, so he can't bring himself to kill anything. It's a favorite song of mine, both because of the meaning and because it's both beautiful and energetic. A lot of fun to dance to.

For my costume, I went with simple and elegant, rather than trying to schlep huge skirts and lots of layers up to Tempe with me. I'm wearing olive green flare-leg pants and tie-back choli, over which I layered a teal shantung silk panel skirt and cropped tie-top/vesty thing (with lovely light olive ties). Of course it's accented with lots of jewelry and hair goodies and the malachite bindi that I made the other day.

I was reasonably nervous, especially since I had to follow up a solo by a well-known local teacher, and dance on an actual stage instead of the floor. But not only did Kim of Plaza de Anaya give me a loving and warm introduction, but several of my friends from my various classes were sitting front and center with big smiles, making lots of noise. Their presence really carried me through those first scary moments until I could lose myself in the music!

I'll post the video when I can, but it's currently on Chris's laptop... which is in Texas with him.

(By the way, I did not end up dancing the drum solo, my classmate Marlene did a wonderful solo performance of it!)