Sunday, January 30, 2011

At Long Last, Bead Love

The weather in the US northeast has been pretty rugged the past week, not at all the time when you want to be eagerly awaiting a package coming all the way from sunny Australia, where my Bead Soup Blog Party dance partner lives. We both mailed our parcels well over a week ago, and I started hopefully checking the mail about Wednesday. Not actually expectantly, as I was not really expecting it to arrive when the post office said it would, but with great hope that it would show up soon. Yesterday, at last, it did. It was worth the wait and then some!

First, the tasteful and rather large box. Very Martha Stewartish, in a good way. (So glad I hadn't just sent mine in a sandwich bag.)

And now the reveal:

Look at that sterling box clasp. It weighs about a pound. I'm not kidding. That's chunky faceted mooakite "from Cattle Station in Carnavon, Western Australia" in the back right, looking rather like ivory.

Want a closer look?

The large spotted focal bead, the two GLOWING purplish beads, and the ivory glass and fine silver "spacers" (these are pretty enough to be small focals in my book) were all made by my partner, Jenni C, and that focal in particular is the one I was lightly hinting I wanted by picturing it (oh how subtle) in this post. The rest of the haul includes two of my favorites, chunky smoky quartz and just beautifully cut faceted citrine (also Australian), plus some weighty Bali silver spacers. The bounty here is mind-blowing.

So overwhelming, in fact, that I'm totally stumped on what to do with it. The way I work, there enough beads here for half a dozen pieces easily. But the clasp and the focal and as many of the other wondrous beads you see here as possible will make it into my Bead Soup piece. This is going to be fun.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Wrist Watchers

Bracelets are my favorite pieces to make. I like to load them up with lots of beads and motion, though I tend to keep them rather monochromatic (a tendency in all my jewelry, actually). For a standard bracelet, I often start with freshwater pearls and add in stones for interest, occasionally with some glass, as in the second bracelet shown here. Unfortunately, they are also the least likely pieces to sell. Shoppers tend to gravitate first to earrings (my least favorite creations) and then to necklaces, often saying they don't wear bracelets much (they hinder office work). That just makes it all the better when someone telling me she doesn't wear bracelets nonetheless can't stop herself from buying one of mine. It makes my day. So, some recent pieces.

Freshwater pearls with chalcedony and amethyst.

Freshwater pearl with amethyst and glass.

Freshwater pearl with pink amethyst.
 I was nearly done the bracelet when I realized I might have a cab
that would make a nice pendant for a matching pendant. That's Ohio Flint.
Now that I've gotten some of my bracelet yayas out, guess I'll have to work on some necklaces and earrings for a local First Friday show next week.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Last Summer, Part 2

If you’re following my story, you know that in the spring of 2010, I herniated a disk in my back. The effect that the chronic pain that ensued had on my disposition was not pretty. I couldn’t sleep and so was perennially exhausted. I had a hard time thinking beyond myself, I had no patience for others, I was unintentionally contrary. It seemed I was suddenly picking fights with people I’d worked with congenially literally for years. Even as I was apologizing and explaining that “I’m just not myself with this pain,” I continued to be difficult by thinking that everyone else was just being difficult. Why I’m reiterating this now I’m not sure, as it has no bearing on today’s post, but it seems important to stress it. I knew I was being awful yet I couldn’t stop myself. But all the while, there was the sense that when the summer was over, things would get better. Fall, however, was a long way off.

Late in the summer, I got an email from my younger sister with the subject line “You need to go look at this” and a link. (Even typing that now, I’m flabbergasted that she thought this was a good way to share the news she had.) The link took me to a website that featured a mugshot of an old friend of mine, along with an article about how he had just turned himself in for molesting underage boys. Without the name in the headline, I might not have recognized him immediately because in the photo he looked like sexual predators always do in the photos they show on television – unshaved face, greasy hair, hollow eyes.  But it was clearly him, the baby-faced little brother of a once-close friend of mine, a fellow whose pool I had lounged in only the previous summer, a Facebook friend. Moreover, a member of a prominent philanthropic family from my hometown, a political activist, a fellow who was involved locally and beyond with good causes, a doer of good. Were I Jewish, I’d call him a mensch.

I’m not going to share his name because this is really not my story to tell beyond the fact that I knew and liked this guy, his sisters, his mother, many of his friends. Everyone did. And though “everyone” (the folks from my hometown who started calling and emailing me, all reeling, reeling, from this news) was shocked and appalled by his arrest – by his frank admission that, yes, he had done what he was being accused of – we also felt we understood how it might have happened, how his intentions were probably good but that inclinations that he had to suppress as a member of a prominent family etc might have gotten the better of him. We all wanted to try to explain away what had happened, to make it fit into our personal experiences with this man, who we knew to be generous, smart, and funny. We all agreed that it changed our conception of sex criminals, our knee-jerk reaction to that term. Knowing this man and knowing all he had to lose, we could conclude only that if he had been able to stop himself, he would have. But he couldn’t.

When I wasn’t on the phone or emailing with old friends about this case, I was thinking about it. Vague, hazy worries about the molested boys. How would this affect them in the long term? Would they have to testify? Did their friends know? Things I had absolutely no answers to. And I mourned for the family, one of trust funds and political legacies but tempered with a surprising amount of down-to-earthness. I knew that his older sister, a friend of my since high school but who I'd not seen in a few years, would be devastated but also angry, very angry -- just furious that her brother would do such a thing. And who could blame her? It’s a crime that has a tremendous stigma and enormous ripple effects.

Most often, I thought about the man at the center of this story. I wished simply that this crime had not happened. That my friend had sought help. That things in his privileged, looks-perfect-from-the-outside life had been different in whatever way they needed to be so that he could have stopped himself when he was tempted. I thought about his face in that mugshot and how I barely recognized him, about how different he must be already. I worried about his future, whatever punishment it holds, and I hoped that he could be rehabilitated and someday have a normal life that did not hurt anyone else. That his family could forgive him.

Finally, I was sad about the effect that his absence would have on my changing hometown, where he had volunteered design work, had fought a WalMart that wanted to put a superstore on what is now a cornfield, and had generally been an asset.

It was just one more thing. This was not at all how my summer was supposed to go.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Excuses, Timesucks, and Drawings

In my initial post, oh, nearly two weeks ago, I said I'd aim for two blog entries a week. Then I joined the Bead Soup Blog Party and I found myself posting almost daily. This week, nuthin'. A few reasons for this:

  1. I had to go out of town a few days for a business trip, which in addition to keeping me busy, just wore me out. My hat is off to folks who travel for business a lot. It's not at all my (spinning-roller-wheeled, overhead-compartment-sized, stuffed-to-the-hilt) bag.
  2. My Bead Soup partner, the lovely Jenni C, is in Australia and I'm in Pennsylvania, so though we've both mailed our packages of beads, it's going to take about a week for them to arrive at their destinations. (I was surprised how little it cost to send my small parcel -- less than $4.) In the meantime, I've only made one very beady bracelet and haven't had a change to photograph it.
  3. While waiting to have a CT scan earlier this week (what I hope is the final step before planning my back surgery), I innocently downloaded a faux Scrabble app to my Android phone and immediately started playing with complete strangers. Good gravy, what a timesuck. I'm currently playing four games simultaneously. And when I say "currently," I mean I've stopped writing this post several times to take my turns against the two opponents who seem to be awake at the moment. One just played "QI" and earlier played "GEY." Another opponent used "QAT," later pluralized (or turned into a singular verb) as "QATS."  The heck? I realize these "words" are probably in the Scrabble dictionary, but they shouldn't be. If you can't define the term you're using, or at least say what part of speech it is, you shouldn't use it. (I just played "ACHOO" for 45 points. That's more like it.)

So those are my excuses for not posting. I have been thinking about my next "Last Summer" post though. Of the bad things that happened last year, this one probably affected me directly the least, but it was a big blow nonetheless, having a dreadful impact on a family I've known for decades, with ripples that go farther than I can even guess. I'm still thinking about it what to say about that occurrence though, so that post will have to wait a bit longer.

I thought today I'd share a bit from each of the first three assignments that I've done for Jewelry by Jeannie's Drawing Lab. For this lab, each Sunday Jeannie send her students an assignment and some instructions and guidance on how to do it. We then have about a week to do some drawing and post them to a private Flickr group to share and for comments. It's very enjoyable, not to mention humbling.

Lab #1. Draw cats from memory.

I have two cats, but I'll be darned if I could recall what they looked like without checking them out. In the partly circled area on the right is an eye I drew while looking at the cat. The rest are just weird.

Lab #2. Draw birds. 

Jeannie recommended a technique that involved using two different sized ovals, one as the body and one as the head, gently joining them and going from there. These are my first two attempts, left to right. The head oval was too small in the first one, making my bird look microcephalic, so I gave up on that one quick. The second one was better, cuter, clearly smarter.

Lab #3. Blind contour drawing

This was the most fun of all. Without looking at your paper or your hand, you look at your subject, running your eyes around the edges, or contours, of the things you're drawing, and try to have your hand follow the motion of your eyes. This picture may not look like much to you, but to me, it's a not unreasonable BLIND representation of two terrariums and an amaryllis bulb in a rounded bowl accompanied by a sprig of evergreen. The bulb isn't exactly in the bowl, and the thick glass bottom on the leftmost terrarium is too small, but otherwise, not bad. I wanted to go back and add the plants in the terrariums but since you have to keep your pencil on the paper and can't look to reposition it, I stuck with outlines and stones. Thanks, Jeannie, I think I'm getting somewhere!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Bead Soup Blog Party Pardner and More Crazy Lace Lemonade

After much travail for poor Lori Anderson, the blogger, beader, and all-round wonder woman who organizes the Bead Soup Blog Party (collecting, recording, collating, linking, and matching up more than 200 participants, one at a time), I found out yesterday who will be my date to the Party. It's Jenni of Jenni's Beads, and she makes lampwork glass beads, another gift to me from my BF Lori A! Look at these:

Gorgeous! (Hop over to her blog and you'll notice that Jenni and I are using the same Blogger template, just in different colors. This must mean that we're perfect for each other, as Lori no doubt intuited.) This is the first time either Jenni or I have been in the blog Party, so it's new and exciting for both of us. One thing I wasn't quite clear about, so maybe someone who's done this before can answer -- do we keep the piece we make or send it back to our partner?

I spent a stupid amount of time yesterday trying to salvage the frame I melted for the laguna agate piece I told you about here. It just was in such good shape except for the melted spot, which is like saying the car runs great except for four flat tires. Although I know it's against metalsmithing and stone-setting rules to do anything like this, I found a marquise-shaped peach-toned crazy lace agate that fit nicely into one corner of the frame and thought I might be able to manipulate the frame around it in some way. I sawed off the melted corner and started bending and fiddling and drilling and "sewing," and hours later (it was ridiculous how many times I took it apart), I had this:

I filed the gap between the stone and the bezel top with top-drilled peach freshwater pearls, which I also used for the first couple inches of the chain. I wrapped silver wire through holes I drilled at the bottom of the setting to close the hole in the frame then dangled a larger buttery pearl from the "threads." The last picture shows the contortions the metal is going through to hold the shape I forced on it. It's definitely a funky piece, organic and  even jaunty, but it looks pretty on and wears really well (I tried it out last evening on a pub visit). This is a piece to experience in person, not via photos, so I'll put it out at my next show rather than in my Etsy shop, and the price will be very reasonable. I'm just glad I was able to do something with that frame, and I'm also glad to find a use for that particular piece of crazy lace agate, which has gorgeous colors but its shape was a bit formal for me. No way you can even tell it's a marquise now. I'll call this necklace Back From the Brink.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mostly Photos

I've only been blogging for a week and I already know my posts have way too many words. I'm just blabby. Thought today I'd just show some images of jewelry I've made in the past year that are mostly beaded rather than fabricated. I think most if not all of these have been sold.

This pendant is actually very small, only a little over an inch across,
with tiny faceted peridot peaking out here and there.
It was precious and sold quickly.

Close-up and then as-worn photos of a freshwater pearl necklace I sold on Etsy to a total stranger.
(Worth mentioning because most of my Etsy sales have been to friends and customers I had already.)

A faceted chalcedony necklace that just glows on dark skin.

Closeup and as-worn photos of a freshwater pearl and chalcedony necklace.
Almost a lariat but not quite. My regular customers love this style.
Pendant of tiny freshwater pearls on oxidized chain.

Conclusions to be drawn: (1) I gravitate toward a muted palate. (2) I tend to limit the kind and color of beads I'm working with. (3) I prefer oxidized silver to bright silver. (But now that I have a tumbler, I've discovered the beauty and utility of shiny oxidized silver, rather than just matte.) (4) I like freshwater pearls. And chalcedony. (5) I managed to get a lot of words into what is supposed to be a mostly photos post. So much for that bright idea.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making Crazy Lace Lemonade

Holy cow, I got some comments! And a couple followers! Thank you, people, for being so supportive. As you can probably sense, I'm in a period when support is nice to have, so thank you again for reaching out to a total stranger. But I guess that's what this is about, huh? I'm so slow to catch on. Also grateful, so thank you again.

Since I overwhelmed you with my back problem last post, let's start with the fun stuff this time -- jewelry. I will admit that I don't work at my jewelry table every day or even most days. Especially at this time of year, I tend to give the hobby a rest. I'm burned out from the pressure of the holidays (when I am often asked to make custom pieces, gak), I'm low on ideas (I'm more creative under pressure), and, not the least of reasons, my jewelry table is just such a mess that I'm not drawn to it. How much of a mess? This much:

Ghastly, no? I've never been good about cleaning up as I go when I'm making jewelry, and my work space is very limited. When you combine the two, you get this. Which is why any beading project I'm working on is typically on a tray in my lap. I'm terrifically envious of the beautiful, bright, well-organized rooms and studios I see on other blogs, but I fear that even if I had space like that I'd soon do this to it. It's just how I work. (But not how I live; the rest of the house is much better.) Something I need to clarify about this photo: that iced tea spoon front and center is not for food. No sane soul would eat at this table. Rather, it's what I use to set bezels. Somewhere I have a proper bezel setter, but I've mislaid (ie, buried) it, and this spoon is working pretty well.

Since I don't make beads (I wish, I wish!), and don't even usually purchase beads or components that would be considered "focals" -- my work tends to group pearls and stones instead of leading up to one payoff point (something I've never even thought about but am realizing as I start writing about my pieces and notice that "focal" just never comes up) -- I figured I would fabricate the focal required for the Bead Soup Blog Party exchange. I went through my cabs and selected a largish, shield-shaped laguna agate in soft, mauvey shades and with beautiful striations. Here it is right before I soldered the bezel to the backplate.

My thinking was that I could put three round connectors on the frame, one at each of the points at the top on this picture and one at the bottom, and then my partner in the exchange could treat it as a pendant and run beads, chain, or whatever to the top points and dangle something from the bottom, or she (is it okay to assume that most Bead Soup participants are women?) could go wild and make this the focal point of an asymmetrical piece with two strands coming in and one going out and something creative happening elsewhere to balance, etc etc. I was trying to offer variety and not just, you know, a flat thing with a hole (not that there's anything wrong with holey flat things).

The back of this cab was almost prettier than the front, so I cut a large opening in the backplate to show the stone, which meant that side could conceivable become the "right side," so the connectors needed to be interesting. I wound lengths of thinnish beaded wire twice around a screwdriver shaft (ie, my mandrel) and then soldered the ends closed, making what looked like two interlocking rings. Now the tricky part -- attaching the connectors. (And I know there is a better word than "connectors," but "bail" doesn't seem right. Sorry if I'm misusing the term.) I got the first one on with no problems, but the second one was moving around, and when I focused on adjusting it, I forgot about the torch and held it too close for too long and melted a big hole in the frame, as you see here:

I mean, I really melted it. Not even close to salvageable. So not only was the past two hours' work shot (I'm a slow producer), but a pretty big piece of silver (nearly $30 an oz) was now destined for the scrap heap. Boo bleeding hoo. I was really disappointed and very close to calling it a night. (I got a Kindle for Christmas and, boy, does it lure me.)

But then I noticed the piece of silver I had cut out of the backplate sitting on my table. (If you can believe that I could see anything on that table.) It wasn't real big, but it was an interesting shape, and maybe I had something that could work on it. Granted this was not at all how I wanted to do this project, making do with a substitute focal after botching the "real" piece, but I was intrigued by the challenge and knew I could always keep the piece if it was not up to attendance at a Bead Soup Party.

So I looked through my cabs again and found a bag of small crazy lace agates. (Here I should say that I also found bags of medium, large, and extra large crazy lace agates because I'm just wild for that stone.) Most were rectangular but one was a little wonky, and it fit interestingly on the silver piece. Hmmm. So I made another bezel, soldered it on, made new connectors (this time out of heavier beaded wire) and attached them, and added a little flower thingy I had made earlier in the evening and decided not to use on the laguna piece. I then made a junction using the same beaded wire as a triple-ring backplate and soldered another little flower  onto that. Because I had textured the frame of the crazy lace agate cab with coarse sandpaper, I did the same to one of the hand-formed clasps I make in batches and keep around, and added that to the component pile. I oxidized everything, set the cab, polished the pieces with fine steel wool, and applied a couple coats of Renaissance wax. What do you think?

I don't know what the Bead Soup Blog Party rules are about posting images of what you'll be exchanging before you know who your partner is, so I hope I'm not violating any protocols by jumping the gun a bit. The real reason I'm putting this picture here now is so I'm forced to trade these pieces, because I really like them. I've never made anything like these before and have a number of ideas about how I'd use them for a bracelet or a necklace or maybe even a bracelet that converts into a necklace! My only hope of turning these over to someone else is to publicly deny ownership right now and say I'm just holding them for a friend -- a friend I have yet to meet.

Now my back. The surgeon called yesterday. Yes, as my sore behind suspected, the herniation is still present and still large. He wants me to have a CT first (for which my deductible is $750, which I cannot help but think of in terms of the silver sheet, wire, and beads it would buy), but then we'll talk about surgery, which will probably happen in the second half of February, since my brother is getting married in Puerto Rico on Valentine's Day. I only wish it could be sooner.

(It seems I'm incapable of short, to-the-point posts. I'll work on that.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Last Summer, Part 1

The things that happened "suddenly last summer" in fact did not all occur in the summer. They started in spring and stretched to the early fall. The very first thing that happened -- and it should not surprise you to learn that these are all bad things I'm referring to (though maybe if I were a more enlightened person, I'd seem them as otherwise, but not yet anyway) -- was that my mother had surgery and then became terrifically ill as a result. So sick that it seemed there was no way she was going to shake the troubles that were plaguing her and bounce back, but in fact she did. After weeks of truly miserable health problems, she improved and is now back to presurgery health, just thinner. Her scary surgical complications are not even one of the things that so affected me "last summer," because once the situation passed, it was in the past. It was no longer part of the present, as the rest of the occurrences still seem to be. However, there's a part of me that feels like I cashed in all my chips wishing and hoping and even praying for her recovery. After that, the coffers were empty, there was nothing in the bank to keep evil at bay and it just started to creep in.

In April we had a crazy heat wave in the Northeast. It hit 90 degrees a couple times, if I'm not misremembering. At the time, I was still employed full-time, and I climbed up with one foot on my desk and the other on a windowsill, and bent in half to pull straight up on one of the huge old, perennially stuck windows in the office. Even as I was hauling on the window in this awkward position, I was thinking, "This is a bad idea." And though I noticed no pop or ping or sudden shooting pain, before the end of the day it felt as though I had pulled a muscle in my butt. Things just got worse until I had pain the whole way down my right leg within a few weeks.

I'm going to cut to the chase here and tell you what it took me two months to discover: I had herniated a disk in my lower back with this stupid maneuver. Badly. Everyone who looks at the MRI goes out of their way to mention how large the herniation is. It's so large, I think I can see it in this scan that I just had done last week. Can you?

I'm pretty sure it's that bubble about a quarter way up the image, where the spine starts to curve out. That's the disk between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae, which happens to be the most common place for herniations because people fall back on ill-advised bend-and-lifts just like I did. If I'm right about that being a big glob of nucleus pulposus projecting into a location where it should not be, it's actually a good thing. I met with a surgeon recently, and he's the one who sent me for this, my second, MRI. We had decided (or I had; I hope he's coming along for the ride) that if this MRI showed that I still had a large herniation, I'd undergo surgery to have it removed.

Surgery would be a huge boon right now, trust me. I've been in pain since April and am verging on addicted to opioids. I take that back. I am addicted. If I don't get them, I don't go screaming out into the street grabbing passersby and looking for a dealer, but I'm miserable. I can think of nothing but the pain, which, if I miss my pills, feels like I've been kicked in the behind and have a deep and very tender bruise that's under constant pressure. And this is discounting the buzzing, humming, tightness, and numbness that occur down my leg even when I'm on medication -- that I can bear. I'm so hooked on my drugs that when the darvocet that I'd been taking for 6 months was recalled by the FDA in late 2010 because it's associated with potentially fatal heart abnormalities, I just continued taking it until my prescription ran out. I didn't want to face having to go without my drugs. (And in fact, the replacement med I'm on now isn't nearly as good. I miss my darvocet.) So surgery that would remove the herniation that's impinging on a nerve and causing this sciatica and get me off this drug dependency is something I very much want.

This herniation has changed me. I'm not the person I was before I was in chronic pain. I had no conception of what constant discomfort could do to a person -- to a life -- until I hurt myself. I was no great athlete but I occasionally went to yoga with a friend, I hopped on a bike a few times a summer, I walked my dog the mile to work with regularity, I was just your average able-bodied middle-aged woman. Strike all that, and that's who I am now. Plus my patience, my demeanor, my outlook, even my creativity -- the me of me -- has all been altered for the worse and has, not surprisingly, affected those around me, which has affected me some more, and so on. Vicious circle, thy name is disk herniation.

I have my fingers crossed that I'll get a call in the next few days from that surgeon saying, "Come on in. Let's schedule that operation." It would be like hearing I've won something. Something I have to pay for, but something I really wanted nonetheless.

In other news, my new best friend (she doesn't know that yet though) Lori Anderson is letting me be part of her Bead Soup Blog Party. I apologize if you are one of her readers who followed the link to my blog from the list she posts of all participants. No doubt you came to check out pretty beads and exciting jewelry, and there's not a lot of that here yet. But give me some time and know that if you get partnered with me, I'm going to send you a terrific collection of components. I'm nearly as excited about fabricating a focal element, putting together that package, and working with whatever you send me as I am about possibly having that operation. Spine surgery / bead exchange -- two sides of my lucky January 2011 coin.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Toot My Own Horn Tuesday (For Lori)

Well, look at me -- back already! Don't question, just accept.

Yesterday I said that next time I posted, I'd tell you more about what happened last summer that left me so affected, but I changed my mind. All that will come, or most of it, but not today. I recently signed up for a Drawing Lab hosted by Jeannie of Jewelry by Jeannie, a kind and generous woman who finds something encouraging to say about all submissions (unlike professors in first-year classes for art majors, who can be highly discouraging and even downright mean, especially if they've taken an unexplained dislike to you, says this still-sensitive ex-art major). This ingenious lab occurs via email and Flickr (and, fates willing, I will soon have a full-blown linky photo that advertises it, as Jeannie has requested, but so far no luck with that as I am new to bloggery). She sends out an assignment every Sunday, we all do it to the best of our ability and time, and then we post the results to a private Flickr gallery. This week we're drawing birds, which, it turns out, are really just a couple of modified ovals stacked oh-so particularly and gently joined with curving lines. Who knew? Different birds have differently proportioned ovals. That's about the gist of it, and lemme tell ya, it's a lot of fun to draw birds once you know this. My first one wasn't so great, but number 2 did not entirely stink. Once I finish the lesson, I'll share them here. However, all this is beside the point.

The reason I mentioned the Drawing Lab is that on Jeannie's blog today she was plugging a so-called Bead Soup Blog Party coordinated (at great personal effort, I might add) by Lori Anderson of Lori Anderson Designs. (For any of my friends who might be reading this who know my musical tastes, no, it's not LAURIE Anderson, that hero of mine, but close enough. Plus, I'm discovering that I greatly like nearly every Lori or Laurie I meet, so we're off to a good start.) I popped over to Lori's blog and checked it out, and I'd like to do it. Interested bead artists sign up (gak, I don't consider myself an artist or designer, but it's the common lingo on the internet, so bear with me), she pairs each off with a not-the-same-medium beader, and you exchange beads and then make a piece using supplies that are outside your normal realm. Having moved into silver fabrication only a year ago, I've been trying to expand on my just-gemstones-and-pearls tendencies (beyond beads, truth be told), so I think this could be good for me as well as a lot of fun. (I will resist the urge to beg to be paired with someone who makes lampworked glass beads and be happy with whomever I get, or so I say now.) I know already that I will spend way more time putting together just the right assortment of beads and findings to send to my partner than I do when I'm making pieces myself since I just tend to pull out some stones and a pearl or two and start putting them together with some chain or suede and see what happens, adding more and different beads as seems right. Except for the fabricated pieces, which I have to think out a bit ahead of time, I don't "design" anything, which is one reason I don't like custom orders. They are completely contrary to my methods and therefore quite agita inducing.

Even better, the communal nature of this activity will also force me to make contact with at least a few people who are interested in the same sort of things I am, something I tend to eschew for some reason. My lone wolf approach to making jewelry is something I really want to shake. Practically everyone but me prefers to go to bead shows with a friend or two. I like to go alone or to split off from any companions asap on arrival (no offense, Maura and Marla!). I'm so private about my jewelry hobby that I've dodged requests to teach a class at a new art center in Lansdowne, and though I recently had a dear friend over for the day to "bead together," her presence threw me off so much I only managed a few inches of the simple necklace I was working on in the time I'd have polished off a few pieces if working alone. In short, when it comes to jewelry making, I'm not a joiner. I'm weird this way, and I'd like it to change. Bead Soup Blog Party, help me change!

So, back to the reason for this post. To participate in the Bead Soup Blog Party, you have to have a blog. Good thing I started one yesterday, huh? Lori visits each participant's blog and then uses that info to pair up folks appropriately. So the next thing I'm going to do, if I can figure out how, is to post some photos of jewelry I've made. This is in theory just for Lori, as I had no intention to do this in my second post, but you can look too if you're here and interested. (FYI, posting photos of jewelry I've made constitutes the "Tooting My Own Horn" portion of this post. Perhaps I'll post some pix every Tuesday.) Here goes nothin'.

What you will notice first, Lori, is that my photography is lousy. I realize that to have a serious internet presence, to effectively market items on Etsy and at other online venues -- to really get your work and skills and creativity across -- you need to take good photos. Alas, I have almost no interest in spending any time on this. I'd rather make jewelry, read a book, take a nap, actually do some work, virtually anything than take pictures of my work or try to take better pictures. It's a real lapse, I know. And maybe this blog will help me get that sorted too.

So, anyway, I made all this stuff, though not in the order depicted (couldn't figure out how to change that). You might assume that I work almost exclusively with suede as a way to capture and relate the gemstones and pearls, but that's not really the case. It's just that these are photos I had taken already, and rather than take new ones that might provide a more representative sampling of work, well, you know . . . Nonetheless, I hope this is enough info to get me into your Bead Soup Blog Party, pretty please . . .

If you're not someone interested in this blog for the jewelry aspect, rest assured that I won't be posting seven consecutive images of jewelry all that often. I just don't have that much to say about beads and wire and saws and the like, largely because I don't really think I know much about them. I just like to make stuff.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tossing My Hat Into the Ring

Perhaps inexplicably, one of my unstated, unwritten, but thought-of-and-by-golly-it-appears-acted-on resolutions for 2011 was to start a blog. Not that I have anything of importance or particular interest to share. Goodness knows, that's not the case.

But one of the many life-changing things that happened suddenly last summer was my becoming unemployed. (More on this another time.) As a result, my days are somewhat lacking in shape and impetus. I tend to sleep late, take a nap in the afternoon, and put off until tomorrow what I could be doing today. I have work to do, that's not the problem. The problem -- which is not really a problem, just a truth -- is that for 20+ years I left the house and went to an office, where I stayed for 8 or 9 hours before returning home. Like everyone else who's a 9-to-5er, I managed to fit in all my personal life -- hobbies, housework, civic obligations, friends and family, etc -- around the edges. Now I have a home office, no coworkers, mostly distant deadlines, very little sense of urgency, and my days have no edges. Or they're entirely edge; I'm not sure which. I'm talking about structure, people -- my life lacks it.

So one of the things I'm hoping this blog will do is give my week more shape. Writing two blog posts a week should be doable, so I hereby resolve to do that. (Hey, one down already, nearly.) I also hope having a blog will get me to think about my life and work and creations more than I tend to and maybe blow my own horn a bit. I make jewelry, write a local newsletter, help organize a farmers market, and am a self-employed editor and project manager, so I should be able to find some material there. No kids, so this won't be a mommy blog, but my live-in boyfriend does have a 9-year-old son, so he should be good for some amusing stories.

I read enough blogs (but follow none; I don't understand following -- maybe someone can explain that to me and sell me on it) to know that bloggers at a loss tend to adopt patterns like "Musical Monday," "House Tour Tuesday," "Wordless Wednesday," etc. I may resort to this but change the themes. How about "Too-Too Tuesday" in which I post about excesses I've witnessed or been party to? I'll keep thinking on that. Bloggers also tend to share their meals, digitally anyway. I've seen enough photos of people's breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to make me promise that I will never do that here. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do, but whatever it is, it'll happen twice a week. Promise or threat? You decide.

Next time I'm tell you at least a little more about what happened last summer, suddenly and not so suddenly, that has so resonated in my life.