Monday, September 29, 2008

WildFire coming soon

Oh goodie, goodie! I've got a stash of WildFire on the way to me, and it will arrive early next week. I'll let you know when it gets here, and I'll be selling it on my website. Kelly R. tried it yesterday at Bead Brunch, and she really liked it too!

The 125 yd. spools will be $18, and the 50 yd. spools will be $8. I'll have the 125 yard spools in black and mossy green, and the 50 yd. spools in black. Everything else is backordered until probably January (a clear will be available then in both sizes also.)

If you know you want some already, you might email me at to reserve what you want. I have a feeling I'm going to run out quickly...but then I can reorder again!

Teaching around Texas

Yesterday's Bead Brunch was a super duper blast, as usual. Lots of folks I haven't seen in a while, like Susan and Bobbi. And then the biggest surprise was seeing the sweet and wonderful Betty Rodriguez! Betty was a regular student in our classes for a long time, and she is a delight to have around. She also had several projects published in Step-by-Step Beads, and BeadStyle magazines! She got seduced by lampworking, and we haven't seen much of her lately, but I think I might be able to pull her back for a seed bead weaving class here and there soon. Even if not, it was great to chat and catch up with her after 2 years.

Today's tasks revolve around a bunch of teaching I'm doing in the next week. Tuesday I'm at Sun City in Georgetown, teaching Russian Splendor, and then this weekend I travel to Fort Worth to teach two classes with ladies from The Wild West Bead Society - Russian Splendor, and Piazza Perline. I need to get kits together, instructions printed, and supplies organized for transport.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I survived the garage

Okay, so maybe I was barely in the garage. (shuffling feet, guiltily) But I was up late late into the night working on labeling and repacking my seed beads into the flip top containers I purchased in massive quantities, as well as creating (finally!) a master list of what the heck we do own. I'm amazed to find far fewer duplicates in bead buying than I was afraid of.

All of which means that by the time I dragged myself out of bed at 11am, Mom had basically put in a full day's work in the garage and was ready to quit. We consulted on a few big items - what goes, what stays. Mainly everything goes. And then we moved the crib out of the Bead Room to be transported to my brother's house. The new baby (due in April) will use it. Which gives us a whole extra wall to put more beads in there! Woo hoo!

So tomorrow Mom's going to buy a few more shelves for the bead room, and project organization will recommence. I'm also working on getting my books and stuff into the new bookshelf in my bedroom and out of the garage. It's all such a domino effect kind of thing.

Mom and I are in like minds about purging the extra stuff out of our lives, though, which makes it easier. I also went through a hall closet today, full of bathroom kind of stuff, and threw out about 80 bazillion old shampoos and lotions and stuff that I just don't use. I know which products I like - so perhaps I should just stick with them!!

Anne is in fine form tonight on her blog. You've got to check it out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vet visit

I figured I'd better report in after Maggie's vet visit this morning. I know she has a lot of fans out there!

They couldn't find any bone injury, and her x-ray didn't show any arthritis in either of her hind legs, which is great. So whatever is happening is probably a soft tissue injury, which we're treating with some pain and anti-inflammatory meds over the weekend. The vet will check in with me on Monday to make sure she's made progress in recovering. Other than that, we're supposed to keep her quiet and still as much as possible. No problem - she's been doing that herself already.

My hand is better, although still a little sore. Not nearly as black and blue as I'd anticipated.

Winston, predictably, is 100% fine.

Now, back to beading!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Preview of Parisian Lights

Oo la la...what is it we have here? Perhaps a little preview of my latest project, Parisian Lights, which will be taught at Nomadic Notions in Austin. Probably in November and again in January - I haven't set all the dates for my classes there next quarter quite yet.

Mom managed to name this project while brainstorming before falling asleep tonight. She hit it on the head pretty quickly - and I'm sure she was happy so she could stop thinking about it and fall asleep!

Winston zigged tonight while I was zagging, and his teeth collided with the back of my right hand, and now I've got a painful welt that promises to be a pretty bruise tomorrow. In the meantime, it's just enough to make me quit beading tonight. The hand motions keep aggrevating it.

And tomorrow it looks like I'll have to take Maggie to the vet's office. She attempted a small jump up on the sofa to sit by me this afternoon, and came up limping instead. She was in a lot of pain afterward, so I fed her a baby asprin in a piece of chicken and that made a big difference for her. We'll have to assess her again in the morning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Product Review - WildFire

I received a sample from Beadalon today of their new beading thread product, WildFire. It's their competitive version of Fireline, but instead of being plucked from the fishing department, this thread was produced specifically for the bead weaving market.

At first I was skeptical that it was necessary or would be much different from Fireline. So what's the point? But I admit right here and right now, so far, I'm really loving it. You want to know why, right? Well, let me tell you...

  • It doesn't have the smoky coating on the thread, so no more messy hands. When you use as much Fireline as I do on a daily basis, you walk around with that coating literally ground into your skin. I'd rather not be mistaken for an auto mechanic...
  • It's more supple than Fireline - kind of a middle ground between the softness of Nymo, and the stiffer feel of Fireline. The WildFire is a lovely weight to work with, and I have yet to tangle it in a few hours of working with it. None of the kinks wrapping around your working thread that I always get with Fireline.
  • Even though WildFire feels softer, it still retains the non-stretch and water proofing qualities that are important to me.
  • I tested it against Fireline in how much effort it takes to get a crystal to saw through it, and the difference was indistinguishable.
  • The 50 yard spool is the same type of packaging as Beadalon - which means it comes with that clear plastic half-circle to cup around your spool to keep it unraveling. My Fireline spool is endlessly becoming unraveled and tangled when I travel with it. I haven't seen the 125 yard spool packaging yet to see if it also has the same packaging.
It comes in black (a true black), a mossy green, and crystal. I'm waiting for the wholesale pricing, but the retail pricing I've been able to find online is identical to the Fireline.

I'll keep playing with it, but I honestly think WildFire is going to be a winner and ultimately replace Fireline for me.

I've got plans to start selling some carefully selected beading items on the website and in my Etsy store soon - and WildFire will be joining them. Look for a big Grand Opening announcement in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Caution: Week of work ahead

Something terrible is going to happen this coming weekend. It's so terrible, it makes me want to run screaming through the house to jump in bed and hide under the covers. So horrific, I can't even imagine what the aftermath will look like. So painful, I simply can't keep it inside another moment.

Mom wants to clean out the garage. I don't understand why - we can move from the garage door to the house door by negotiating a single-file path - with only a single location where we must jump over detritus. Good enough! Right??

When we moved last year we found that we had transported a bunch of big stuff at high moving van prices 45 miles from one house to the other, only to decide that we didn't really want it. At the time we weren't ready to get rid of it, but I think we've got to come to our senses now and JUST SAY NO to clutter. The thing I'm most embarrassed by is insisting on moving my old sofa from one house to the other. Now, I'm not ready to tell you just how old this sofa is. Or how 1990's huge floral the print is on it. I kept thinking, "but...someday I can recover it and it was the most comfy sofa ever..." Jill. Get a grip. Seriously. Although I really love that sofa.

I was hoping I could talk Mom out of garage cleaning duty in some way shape or form, but then she actually went and bought some shelving units today. Friends, she's serious. There is no escape.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Days are flying by

Looking at the calendar is increasingly confusing. I could swear we're barely half way through the year, and yet Christmas is only 3 months away. Yup, that's right. 3 months. Crazy talk!! I'm winding down on 2008 projects and winding up on preparing for 2009 ones. I still have quite a bit of teaching to do in Oct, but then less so in the Nov, Dec, Jan time frame. Just two more shows - both in Houston.

Mom and I need to have a meeting here pretty soon so we can figure out what our 2009 kit lineup will be. Getting the kits ready earlier this coming year is a new priority for me. Mainly that will mean making larger quantities when I'm stocking up on them so it will carry me through more than one or two shows at a time. Given how fast the turnaround is going to be between most shows next year I'm not going to have the restocking luxury I've been accustomed to thus far.

I also plan on completely revamping my booth display for 2009. Mom and I will be brainstorming on that soon as well so we can work out the kinks before rolling it out in Tucson in Feb.

We're working on some minor picking up and getting ready for the home class invasion Sunday afternoon. When you have 11 extra bodies in your house, you KNOW it! It was a lot of fun last time, and I know this coming class will be equally high-energy and full of carousers. I encourage that in my students! Off to price some seed beads, and get the tables set up....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worker bee

Today's beading efforts produced part of a Ring Around the Rosie bracelet in bright, happy colors. I did the first circle in our class last night and everyone gave the bold color combo a thumbs up. My mother, however, said "It's so ugly. And yet you keep working away." Everyone's a critic! I just laughed - we all know that everyone has different tastes. I think she'll like it better in the light of day though. The lamp light in our living room makes the chartreuse look sallow which throws the whole thing off. I can't get the colors quite right in this photo either. Sigh. Digital editing only goes so far.

What I need to do is break down and borrow my brother's light tent set up so I can take proper photos instead of trying to cheat all the time and scan them on my flatbed scanner. Perhaps I can make that happen this weekend sometime.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Patience is a virtue

I got news today on my Big Secret Project - and the news is that I need to wait a little longer for news. Okay, I can do that.

I worked until the wee hours of the morning on this project - it's a new sample for my Elegant Options bracelet. Instead of covering every square, I only embellished every other square, which gives it a checkerboard type of look that I'm really digging. The chips on top are some luscious Apatite chips, accented by taupe Size 15s on either side. I was so determined to finish last night that when I looked up and realized it was already 4:30am (and I wasn't done) I was shocked. I'll have to finish tonight after my Ring Around the Rosie class instead.

The photos of the Gulf Coast devastation are painful to see. And I wonder how long it will be until we start getting an idea of how many of those determined to ride out the storm got washed out to sea.

Monday, September 15, 2008

There's a lovely hint of fall in the air today. I did a triple-take as I was walking past the thermostat in the house earlier - it was showing that it was 77 degrees in the house and we normally keep it set on 79 in the summer. Sometimes Mom or I will set it down lower if we're having a "moment" and need cooler air. Sometimes we forget to reset it back to 79 afterwards too. So I was thinking, ah! Mom forgot! Until I realized, nope - it's just that cool naturally in the house for the first time since probably April.

I got all my class proposals submitted for Bead Fest Philly and Portland next year, so it's just waiting time again as I wonder what will be chosen if anything. I'm working on samples to send to the Puget Sound Bead Festival for class submissions - they want physical pieces, not just photos, so I'm busy making extras up.

And last, but not least, I'm designing a new project or two (if I get lucky and the design gods are with me) for Nomadic Notions classes. I need to set some home class dates for the next few months also.

I've got some upcoming teaching fun at Sun City in Georgetown next week, and in the Dallas area at the Wild West Bead Society the first weekend of Oct.

The schedule is getting so complicated that Mom and I have decided we need to break down and get one of those wall calendars where you can see the whole year at a glance. 2009 will include 15 shows, 2 knee operations for Mom, and 1 new sibling for Alexis. As well as 2 super secret and big projects. I sleep in 2010.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike visited, and all I got was some lousy wind

Not a single drop of rain in Austin. Not. One. Drop. To laugh or to cry, that is the question!

I'm dead tired tonight from my sleepless overnight vigil with the TV. Happily, my class this afternoon was full of life and silly fun to keep me going, and then I unexpectedly got to have dinner with my brother's family and my mother. Watching Alexis' antics is better for the soul than absolutely anything else in the world. Pure joy and fearlessness.

And while it may seem odd coming from me...I'm off to bed at the ripe old hour of 9:15pm. The two hours of sleep I got last night are long gone now and my eyes won't stay open another moment!

How can I sleep?

I'm mesmerized by the TV coverage of the the hurricane tonight and it's so hard to tear myself away from it. I'm supposed to be getting my things together for Saturday's afternoon class, as well as Sunday night's class too and all I can do is stare at the TV. Waiting for the sun to rise tomorrow to show us the resulting damage is painful.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vote in the poll

I added a poll over there to the left
<-------see? to find out how you guys think I should package the new seed beads I'm going to start carrying. I found these amazing new 3-cut seed beads in Size 8s, 11s, and 15s - and they include the permanent galvanized colors. Woo-hoo! So I'm going to start selling them at my home classes, and eventually I'll sell them online as well. I need some time to build up my stock and get them packaged, and labeled, and then update the website...

Poor little Winston

Mr. Winston had a day at the beauty shop yesterday (groomer) and came back looking particularly fine and more cool. All that hair makes a boy overheated in Texas, don'tcha know. If you've been reading the blog since the beginning, you know that the first time we took Winnie to the groomer, it was quite an event. He didn't cooperate very well, and we got charged extra because it took them so much time to get him done. I think he's been getting better, though, because the haircuts are looking more even and pretty over time.

On the other hand, he clearly doesn't like the trips too much. This morning, after Mom left for work, he came and jumped in bed with me for morning face licks, like usual - but instead of getting bored after a few minutes and jumping back out of bed, he curled up on the pillow next to me, and we slept the next few hours forehead to forehead. Awww! I'd shift, and so would he. Must. Be. Touching.

The hurricane is shifting and it looks for now as though Austin will still feel effects, but not nearly as badly as they were worried about yesterday. As we all know, yet more can and will change in the next 48 hours.

7 years ago today, I was making my 45 mile commute into work, listening to NPR on the radio, when they reported a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I imagined in my mind a small, turbo prop type of plane. What else could it be? But then I kept driving with increasing horror as the details started coming over the radio waves in my car. I got to NI and went directly to the cafeteria where over 100 employees were sitting, watching the televisions there. A few minutes after arriving, the second tower collapsed. I turned to my neighbor, crying, and said, "I wonder how many firefighters we just saw die." I had no idea just how high those numbers would be, and not just the firefighters, of course.


A day of can'ts, shouldn'ts, won't works, oh no you didn'ts (oh yes, I did!) from dawn to dusk today, from multiple fronts. I hate days like this.

On the other hand, if I'd listened to all the naysayers four years ago, I'd still be working 8am to 5pm in corporate cubicle land. Call it smart, or call it stubborn. If there's one thing I know - it's that I see my path better than they do since I'm the one forging it, and so far I've been right. Well, mostly right.

So I'm off to bed now to shake off the bad day and start fresh tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Watching that darned hurricane

It's pretty odd to be several hundred miles inland of the Texas coast, but yet still needing to make some hurricane preparations. Ike is predicted to possibly come through the Austin area while still strong enough to be throwing 70mph winds, and up to 10 inches of rain Saturday.

For those of you in my Saturday afternoon Butterfly Kisses class at Nomadic Notions, I'll be watching the storm and will make a decision Saturday morning about any possible cancellation of the class. If you don't hear anything - class is on. I'll make phone calls around 10am if we decide conditions are too dangerous.

The good news is that the 4pm tracker update is showing Ike might turn north prior to reaching Austin, which would put us on the softer, west side of the storm. But a lot can change between now and then, so I'll keep watching.

I had a sleepless night last night because I was brainstorming a huge and wonderful project. I'm so excited I'm wiggling right here in my seat. Really! Wiggle...wiggle... You'll have to wait a little while for me to get all the pieces and parts and projects together, but I promise, you'll hear about it first!!

I think I've finished most of my show schedule for 2009 now, and I've posted it on the website. If you count the three bead retreats, I'll be doing 15 shows in 2009. Sheesh! But I feel really good and solid about the shows I'm doing. I'm adding the Rocky Mountain Bead Bazaar for the first time, and I'll be going to Portland for Bead Fest next fall for the first time too. It all makes me realize how much more organized in advance I'm going to have to be going into the 2009 shows. Less time to restock between shows means making more kits up front. I know what I'll be doing all December!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So close, but yet so far

I'll admit it straight up. I didn't paint on Saturday like I planned. And I didn't do much of anything on Sunday but laze around and read and watch TV. But some days you need the break, right?

Monday I bounced out of bead at the crack of 11am and got down to business right away. I gathered my painting stuff from the garage, stirred that 2 month old paint up, and went to town. I only have two paint blotches on my sandals (easily removed) and one in Winston's fur. He looks lovely with his lavender highlight! It's his own fault, really, because I was down on the floor working along the baseboard, but he insisted on making me play with him too. I was pretty successful until he decided to back into the painted wall.

Anyway, the paint is going to need a second coat and I'm waiting until Tues morning to do that since that room gets better light in the morning. And then I need Mom to go up one rung higher on the ladder than I can make myself go to get the ceiling line painted.

I spent the afternoon putting together the bookshelf that will go on that wall. Ikea directions are always challenging, and this proved no exception. I had it mostly done when Mom got home from work, and she helped me with the bit of manhandling that needed to be done to finish the job. So for the moment it's sitting, homeless, in our kitchen dining area.

Now mind you - this is ONE wall in my room. And my room has four walls. I figure at this pace, I should be finished by March 2009. And I have an Ikea dresser in the garage that needs putting together. But first? It needs to be painted, naturally.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One of these is not like the other

So I've had two different people email me today, both claiming responsibility for the comment that was written about my blog. Now if that's not funny, I don't know what is!

Today's already been very productive - a trip to the post office, a stop by a local bead store, and a Home Depot fix (although they were out of the planter Mom wanted.) I plan on eating some lunch, then finally painting the wall in my bedroom! WOO HOO! And if the energy and will doesn't wane, I'll also get the Ikea bookcase built that I bought months ago. Progress - I see it!

Interesting Day

People bemuse me. There are so many folks out in the world who make it their life's work to dwell in anger and misery, and to dole out the same to anyone who crosses their path. Who wants to live like that? It must be a very ugly place to be - and it makes them ugly people.

When I posted my blog last night, I had the fleeting thought that the topic could cause some genuine thought and conversation among my friends, students, and customers. Copyright law and copyright ethics are a hot topic in the beading world, and rightfully so. There's a lot of gray area in how the laws are interpreted, and that's why it's important to come together as a community to reach a common understanding of what's right and what's wrong.

So what did I get in my email today? A scathing and angry comment left for my blog from "Anonymous." Happily, I already had the blog set up so I have to approve all comments on the blog before they are posted. Naturally, I didn't approve this one. Anonymous was brave enough to call me "ignorant" and quote copyright law to me, but not brave enough to do it under their own identity. Well, fine. That says a lot about you right there.

It's hurtful to me for so many reasons. First of all, I imagine this blog to be a window into the life and times of a beading designer/teacher...whatever you want to call me. I try to incorporate a lot of the process behind the resulting public identity here - I explain all the various deadlines and crazy things required - I confess when I'm hopelessly unorganized and have lazy days - and I also tell ya'll about the mental conversations I have when I'm designing a piece. And that's what yesterday's blog was all about. You'll notice I didn't post a photo of the project I was working on. And the reason was I knew in my heart that it wasn't my own yet. I need to keep playing with the technique and variations and incorporating other bits and pieces with it before I can let it see daylight.

Instead of taking it that way, Anonymous chose to jump in and thump me on the head for being stupid enough to actually talk about the process publicly. Huh?

I choose to not allow such negativity into my life again if I can help it, and I have decided to eliminate the comment option on the blog. Any of the folks I care to hear from know how to reach me anyway, and I hope I continue to do so. The evil ones can also find me easily, but they'll have to work a little harder to invade my world. I'm sorry this one person has caused me to react - that's just what Anonymous wanted. I debated for most of the day on this. But ultimately, as Mom reminded me tonight, there's no one person out there that EVERYONE likes. And that's okay.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How much change is enough?

I finished working on a project tonight that turned out absolutely gorgeous, if I do say so myself. I'm conflicted, though, on whether it's something I can submit for the national shows as a class proposal. It was inspired by another beader's published work, so the big question is - how much do I need to change it to make it my own design?

It's a tough line to watch in the beading world. There are only so many ways you can put together beads, and there's bound to be overlap. When it comes right down to it, there are X number of stitches in seed bead weaving, and none of those can be claimed the exclusive right of anyone. So instead we have to use our ethics-o-meter when designing new projects. The problem is that everyone's boundaries can be different.

So I think I'm going to run this one by a few of my beady mentors/friends, and see what the general consensus is. In the meantime, I've already thought of a new variation of my own design that will take it even farther from the original project and I'm sure that will be enough of a change to pass the rigors of public scrutiny.

And then, maybe, I'll share it with you guys! (I'm such a tease!)

The funny story of the night also relates to this darned project. I was so close to finishing around 11pm tonight, but there were certain beads I needed to do it. I was bound and determined to find those beads - the problem? They were "somewhere in the bead room." That's kind of like finding a needle in a haystack, the way things were looking in the poor dumped upon room. So I started at one end, and actually started putting things away. Amazing the things I uncovered! But not those special beads I needed. I kept working. Next thing I know, it's almost 3 hours later and the bead room is on the road to a much needed recovery! Woo-hoo! And yes, I finally found the dang beads! But by the time I did, and then finished the project, it's 4:30am, and I'm just now trotting off to bed. So much for getting on a more regular sleep schedule! Oops. (It was worth it, though!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

They don't believe me

It took a full day of sleeping and lazing around the house Monday, but I think I'm finally sufficiently recovered from Sunday afternoon's bead class. The amount of cleaning that had to go on prior to having company was daunting - but now that it's all shiny and pretty, we're going to make a concerted effort to keep it that way. There's a scary amount of miscellaneous piles of "stuff" in the bead room, but we just keep that door closed.

Actually, I'm going to be working on a complete overhaul of the bead room over the next few weeks - I have a better sense of how I need it to work now that we've been in the house over a year, so I can make changes that will make it more workable. But it's a heck of a task.

The class had fun, and the dogs behaved (mostly.) I had Maggie & Winston shut up in Mom's bedroom, but the women in class had been hearing about their antics for years now and requested a meeting. Other than loving leg licks, Winston did well. Not a single bark all afternoon. I wasn't in the least worried about Maggie. She's always such a doll and sweet. But Winny? And then the worst part was that he was SO well behaved that they don't even believe my blog posts about his destructive ways any longer! Huff! Okay, tell ya' what? I'll send him home with you for a week, and then we'll see what you think! Tee hee...