Friday, June 25, 2010

Working on my BFAC

I know this post isn't much without pictures, so I'll try to have some in-progress shots soon. I finally started my 2011 Layne's Legacy -- Beading For A Cure project about a week ago. It's due at the start of August. It's been years since I procrastinated this much on starting one. Kind of odd, because I love the bead kit and I decided exactly what I wanted to do and what components to add soon after receiving the kit. I've just been so busy with dancing and the gym and such that I haven't wanted to tackle a large-scale beading project. Now with a looming deadline, I really have no choice.

Bezeled rivolis will form the focal point. Since almost every weaving project I've done this year has involved at least one peyote-stitched bezel (around a rivoli or a button), I'm really quite bored of them. Once I'm done with this it's time for some bead embroidery!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Fairy Day!

Today is Fairy Day, and I would have forgotten all about it if not for Facebook! Thank goodness for Twig the Fairy!

I did two and a half things to celebrate. First, I finally photographed and listed Miss June, the faerie pin-up girl inspired by the Egg Moon challenge back in April. I also decided to have a faerie-themed sale in my Etsy shop, so you'll find 9 faerie, elf, and dryad items in the Sale Section, with discounts of up to $25.

The half thing is that I'm wearing one of my favorite shirts, this tanktop, but I put it on before I knew what day it was, so it doesn't really count ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

For the Bride

Please forgive this bad photo. White/crystal AB/pearl jewelry is hard to photograph, especially when you're in a hurry and have poor lighting. I'll be borrowing this necklace back from the bride sometime after the wedding to take high-quality images to show off.

When I showed my friend Helen the O. Bersten necklace in Rachel Nelson-Smith's Seed Bead Fusion, we both agreed that it was the perfect design to go with her wedding dress. Besides the white wedding color scheme, I made a few small changes to the design. Rachel used 5mmish freshwater pearls, and a single pearl dangle from the bottom of the pendant. I used 4mm Swarovski pearls, and decided to do 3 dangles, since the pearls were so small. Her original design had the necklace attached to the pendant at two points, but I decided to do a wire-wrapped bail on mine so I could hide the crimps in the back. Her design used two colors of drops to embellish the bezel, and I just used one, because it was all I had that matched the color scheme ;)

The O. Bersten component is fun to make. It's really dimensional and I can see a lot of opportunity for color variety... but I don't recommend doing it in various shade of pinks, otherwise the floral base will look like a little ring of boobies. Just saying...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Seed Bead Fusion

You may recall that I bought this book on a whim because I had some JoAnn's coupons and I was mad that they didn't have any of the stuff I wanted for my next coin bra project. Amusing then, that this is the first beading book in a while that I've actually made something from! And that was also because of a whim. I was flipping through all my bead books looking for something elegant to do with Swarovski pearls for my friend Helen's wedding necklace. I thought that Seed Bead Fusion was all funky stuff, but there was a beautiful rivoli pendant project hanging from a strand of pearls, and when I showed it to Helen, that was the design she chose.

So I can actually give a real thorough review, since I've tested the directions! Author Rachel Nelson-Smith provides step-by-step written directions, with a few helpful graphs. For visual learners, each tutorial is followed by a couple pages of thumbnails of the major steps. The photographs of the projects and steps are very clear and sharp against a plain white background, making it easy to see what you're making and how you're doing it.

I found one or two small typographical errors in the project that I did, but they didn't throw me off since it was easy to infer what the author actually meant. Over all the project was very doable, though I bent three needles, and as I mentioned in my last post, it took three tries to get a 36 bead bezel that actually fit perfectly around the rivoli.

The projects use a lot of right angle weave and peyote stitch. Many of them are very dimensional, and the examples tend to be in extremely bright colors, so that I usually have to imagine them in green and black to think if I would actually do them. The fusion in the title comes from the fact that most of the projects also incorporate some wirework or stringing along with the seed bead weaving, but there's still plenty of interesting stuff for beaders who are strictly interested in weaving.

After making Helen's necklace (which I'll post tomorrow or Monday), I want to make something for myself with the same technique, and there are at least half a dozen other projects that I could see myself trying out. In fact, I'd dive right in if my BFAC deadline wasn't looming large on the horizon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brunette-locks and the three bezels

I'm trying to finish my friend Helen's wedding necklace before I go see her on Friday afternoon (her wedding is on the 26th). The pendant involves a bezeled rivoli. The bezel has to be exactly 36 beads, to attach neatly to the base I've already made. The first 36 bead bezel I made, out of the white opal gilt-lined seed beads was too small. The second bezel, made from the silver-lined matte crystal ab is so large that I think I might be able to fit an 18mm crystal in, instead of the prescribed 16mm crystal. So what bezel will be "just right"? Should I go with crystal AB, which I've already made most of the pendant out of? Should I try alternating the little white opal beads with the big matte beads? Should I swear off bezels since they almost never fit on the first, second or even third try?

Weekend of Dancing

My weekend of dancing was a fun and educational time. On Friday night, I went down to the Black Rose Caffe to watch and perform in the hafla. It was a great evening, lots of talented tribal style and tribal fusion dancers and a very enthusiastic and supportive audience. My performance didn't go quite as well as I had planned; I started out a little nervous and as such, I forgot some of the things I was going to do and all the flaws that I had been working through in my practice came back in my dance. But people seemed to enjoy it, so that's the important part. Unfortunately, I can't post the video here on my blog, as it's 10MB over Blogger's tiny limit, but if you're one of my Facebook friends, you can view it there.

The guest of honor, Oracle from Atlanta, performed twice and was a real treat to watch. Amazing physical skill and really in touch with her music and the audience. Also, abs that I would consider selling my soul for. You know, if anyone out there is in the market for a soul...

A bit shout-out to Brandye for organizing the hafla, inviting me to dance, and gathering such a great assortment of local performers!

Saturday had a serious lack of dancing fun times and is honestly not worth talking about.

But then Sunday rolled around! And off I went to my workshop with the amazing and talented Ava Fleming, who is based out of the Phoenix area. I had been warned that Ava would probably kick my butt, and the workshop was in fact pretty hard. There were moments when my muscles were crying for a reprieve, but luckily I didn't have any lasting ill effects. Thank goodness for CrossFit, it's really helped my endurance for belly dance workshops.

Ramona, the lady who organized the workshop, did a great job. The workshop itself was held at a ballet school, so there was a good floor, lots of mirrors, and good lighting and sound. There was water and snacks to keep us hydrated and energized for our 3 1/2 hours of drilling techniques and then rolling them into combos. I'd like to publicly thank her for putting on such a nice event!

After a quick trip home for a shower and a pretty dress, I was back out the door again to watch the showcase, which featured Ava and an assortment of local Tucson dancers. While Friday was all about the tribal gals, Sunday night was heavy on the Egyptian style, with a little debke (a social line dance from the Middle East) and one awesome Turkish dancer. It was nice to see all aspects of the Tucson belly dance community in one weekend -- though it would have been even better to see them all together in one show!

And to think I was worried that my dance life would slow down to a boring crawl when summer rolled around. I actually had to choose between a workshop with Ava and a workshop with Oracle, and I have more difficult choices ahead of me as the summer just gets hotter!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Deep in Thought

I'm feeling introspective, about the way I manage my time, and what I want to do with my life. There probably won't be any huge, stunning changes that come out of this thoughtful period, mostly just little tweaks here and there to get things on track. It's just that between being busy, and being lost in thought, I don't seem to blog a lot.

I should have a review of Seed Bead Fusion later this week, and maybe even some new photos, and I should blog about my fun-but-grueling belly dance weekend, once I'm a little less tired.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dreaming of the Flower Moon

The FAE Team Art Dare for June is Rose Moon, Flower Moon, or Strawberry Moon. I have another one of these pretty floral crescent pendants, so I will definitely have to use it. What could be more perfect than a moon with flowers already on it?

I totally missed the Milk Moon Art Dare. I guess my muse is lactose intolerant.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dancing this Friday

One of my goals for 2010 was to find more opportunities to dance in public, and I'm happy to say that I'm succeeding so far. I've been invited to perform at a small hafla (belly dance party) here in Tucson this coming Friday. I'm excited, because it's my first Tucson performance, and a bit nervous, because I won't have my huge Plaza de Anaya dance family there to stroke my ego. But I will have my real family, some friends, and the Tucson dance community there, so it should be fun.

Mostly I'm happy for the chance to get to meet more local dancers, and see them perform. I had already intended to attend the hafla before I was invited to dance, as I'm really trying to get more involved with the local community. There's talk of more workshops, haflas, student nights and other fun dance-related events, and I want to make sure that I don't miss any of it, and that I do whatever I can to help make them successful. It's my dream that someday the Tucson dance scene will be just as vibrant as the Phoenix area one, even if it is smaller.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Crystal Brilliance by Anna Elizabeth Draeger

Crystal Brilliance is a new book from Kalmbach Publishing, written by Bead & Button associate editor Anna Elizabeth Draeger. As the title and cover photos suggest, it is entirely dedicated to projects using Crystallized Swarovski Elements, along with seed beads. Most of the projects primarily use the easy-to-find and relatively affordable bicone crystals, along with some pearls, rounds, and a few of the fancy cuts.

One thing very strongly in this book's favor is that it is perfect for a new beader, or someone who has primarily done bead stringing, who wants to give beadweaving a try. There is a lot of great basic information at the start of the book including a lot of really helpful tips that other books assume you know. Also, each chapter has the projects sorted in increasing difficulty levels, with several very simple ones for the easily daunted beader to cut their teeth on before moving on to larger, more complex projects.

A lot of the designs are very beautiful, and there are a few I'd like to try out, once I've collected the proper crystals (my selection is pretty much all 4mm bicones since those are what I use for my right-angle-weave bracelets).

My one complaint is that the interior photography is not very good. The primary photo for every project is focused on the front and center, with the rest of the project blurred behind it. That's very nice and artistic, but it makes it very difficult for the reader to get an idea of what the entire necklace/bracelet looks like! Many of the items have sharper photos for the "alternate version" picture than for the main one!

But if you can get past the less-than-stellar pictures, this seems like a nice book for anyone who loves to weave with crystals.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Outside my window

This is a picture from way back in December. I was doing housework and I looked out the kitchen window, and there was a bird of prey sitting in the mesquite tree, eating a smaller bird. I snapped a few quick pictures through the window, because I wasn't about to go outside and disturb his/her meal!

Apparently the Harris hawks nest in Reid Park, which is just a few blocks away from my house, so it's not unusual to see them hunting pigeons in our neighborhood. It was surprising to see one enjoying lunch in my yard, however. When I'd previously seen piles of feathers below that tree, I naturally assumed that they were the work of one of the stray cats.

I've also seen a raccoon under the same tree. And someone on the other side of the park from us saw a ring-tailed cat. Javelinas and coyotes also occasionally show up inside the city. This is the reason why I like to keep all my pets indoors -- well, that and the 100 degree heat, which doesn't stop the dogs from wanting to play outside all day.

Friday, June 04, 2010

FAE Team Exhibition Time!

The June/July theme for FAE Team's Exhibition is Secrets of the Sea. There are a lot of beautiful aquatic items up on display from my super-talented team mates. You'll spot two of my mermaid necklaces in there, too.

It's great to see the team flourishing. We have a lot more active members now, which means more posts on all of our different forums, more blog content, and more goodies in the exhibitions!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

She Lives!

How's that for an appropriately dramatic blog post title?

It would appear that I took two weeks off from blogging. There was no particular reason for this, just a combination of being busy, the office being the hottest room in the house, and not feeling like I had anything exceptionally compelling to say. And what happened while I was gone? Spammy blog comments! What did they hope to accomplish by commenting on posts that were two weeks old? Who knows?

I haven't been beading much lately, but that's about to change. My dear friend Helen is getting married to a great guy later this month, and I'm very excited to be making a necklace to go with her gorgeous dress. I'll be starting that in a couple of days, I'm just waiting for the rest of the beads to arrive in the mail. On top of that, the BFAC deadline is just two months away and I haven't even started on my necklace. Plus I've got these ideas swirling in my head for various lampwork beads that are sitting on my desk.

I'd love to chat more about my dance life, and FAE Team, and all that good stuff, but I have about 8 hours worth of stuff and 3 hours to do it in, so I'd better wrap this up. I'll be back tomorrow!