Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bead Soup #6 - the Final party!

The 3rd reveal is here - and the largest! Can you believe I only visited a handful of participants in the previous 2 reveals (I have serious good reasons for that, unfortunately)? I will remedy this in the next couple of days (most probably weeks, we're talking 400 beautiful designs here).

If you'd like to see what Tania (my partner in crime this time) and I made (for the 1st reveal) - you can read all about it here.

Blog Soup Party: Glass by Tania Tebbit, sterling silver, wire wrapping: Sunset on the Beach :: All pretty Things
If you'd like to see what everybody else made, you have many options:

There is Tanya's effort to add everything together on one website (beautifully done, thank you, Tanya - that in itself is a huge amount of work)

Bead Soup Party - Summer 2012

There are the lists themselves from Lori's site (she manually changed the links to the actual reveals - another heroic effort, thank you, Lori!!)

Bead Soup Party - 1st Reveal

Bead Soup Party - 2nd Reveal

There is also a Pinterest board for all of us:

Pinterest Blog Soup Party Board

There is so much beauty - I hope you'll enjoy all the creativity!

Friday, August 24, 2012

When it rains...

... it pours!

I've been quiet for a little while - first we were on vacation, then I've been trying to get everything in order back home, then life interfered a bit.

Tonight, when I started to write a post I thought it will be just one. Instead, I ended up with about 4 new posts. Mind you - some really short, but posts nonetheless!

So what's new this time?

Well, after a whole month without much jewelry making (designing in my head, but nothing on the table - yet) I decided to get back into gear. How would that be, you ask? By entering to participate in a series of new blog hops and events.

Holiday Bling Blog Hop :: All Pretty Things
First one is Marlene's Holiday Bling Blog Hop - you can read all the details right here. Handmade ornaments exchange - could there be something more fun than that? I don't think so! And rightfully around October, so it gets one into gears for the Holidays.

Then, while browsing Marlene's blog, I re-discovered her post about Tanya's Free Beads for Blogging event. Of course I've completely forgot about it - so I quickly entered and I now keep my fingers crossed.

What else is there? Yes - Jennifer's (of Glass Addictions) splendid idea of a Charm Swap. I've already started to think on how to make the charms, forward thinking, eh? Nah - I'll probably make them last minute, nothing like the last-minute panic attack to create (only half-joking, you know?).

Yeah, when it rains... it truly pours.

What challenges have you entered lately? I need more :)

Free Beads for Blogging

Now this is a concept! Tanya from Fusion Muse is a true phylantropic soul - she decided to have an on-going 'Free Beads for Blogging' event. What's that? You sign-up, if you get lucky you're being picked - you receive beads and you have to blog about them and what you make out of them.

Isn't that great! Yes, it is - and I signed up today for the current bead set.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Myrtle Beach, SC: Sun rise
Myrtle Beach, SC: Sun rise
I have very few regrets in life - when I was 16 years old a good friend of mine told me something I kept in my heart since: "Don't regret your past, you won't be able to change it afterwards. Instead - learn from it and move on" and I seem to have managed to do just that for over 25 years.

However, I just found myself in a strange situation right now - and considering what I've been through in my life, it seems small. But it's important to me - which makes it, well, huge. For me.

What is it, girl, you'll ask? I've been looking for a studio of metalsmithing in the area for ages - I found lampworking, jewelry design, but not metalsmithing. Or not what I've been looking for. Not yet. Recently we've been on vacation, as you know - in Myrtle Beach, SC. I knew from a group on facebook there is a studio there and guess what? There was one right across our campground (as in: you crossed the main street and you entered the bead store). I though that's the one - but didn't have what I have been dreaming of: metal sheets and metal working tools and etching materials and so on. I didn't investigate more: partially because my mind wasn't there, partially because the Internet connection was crappy - but these seem lame excuses now.

Why? I came home and got one of my books from the library. A brand new one (I am buying it as we speak), from Kalmbach Jewelry Books... on metalsmithing and not only. The perfect book... I went through it once, quickly, ooh-ing and aah-ing and telling myself "this is *it*".

So - what's the problem?! The problem is that I read a book from cover to cover, I look to see where the artist comes from and so on and so long. And this specific artist? Her name is Kim St Jean from Studio St Jean. And where is she located? Where? Yes, of course: Myrtle Beac, SC. The place I left a week ago... That is the studio I heard about: where they hold classes and let you try the tools... That is the place I have been looking for.

I am truly sad - hubby and son are smiling and comforting me: "we'll get there sooner than we might have thought" :) Yes, that might be - but I had the chance to see what I want and... Oh, well - snapping out of it.

The good part? I found *THE* book: if you're looking to teach yourself sawing and piercing metals, etching, enameling, setting (soldering, cold connection), texturing, form folding, and more - get online, get to the closest book store, or just get to the library and get reading it: Metal Magic by Kim St. Jean. In my defence, the book has been published 1 day after we left for vacation :)

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton: Gail Crosman Moore Giveaway...

A wonderful opportunity to learn - and a giveaway! Who can resist?

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton: Gail Crosman Moore Giveaway...: To commemorate Gail Crosman Moore coming to Ligonier to teach in the Weekend Intensive , I've decided to host a little giveaway!  Up for ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adventures on vacation

On the road, somewhere between Pennsylvania and South Carolina :: All Pretty Things
On the lovely road... again :)
We took off at the end of July - with a grand plan in mind: first we'd go to a nice competition in Pennsylvania, then we will go for a week in South Carolina, at the beach, then we'll come back to PA and OH for 3 more weeks of training and competitions. Good plans usually don't work (and we know best than to plan very strictly, since our plans rarely go smoothly), but for the first part we were in luck.

The competition was nice, and I managed to improve my scores from a month ago (with not much training in between) - so I was happy (more on this another time).

Myrtle everywhere! Myrtle Beach, SC - vacation 2012 :: All Pretty Things
From Central PA we started our long journey to Myrtle Beach. We've passed through SC once before, 5 years ago on our amazing one-month-long vacation: from our home in Ontario to Florida and back. But we haven't really stopped then, I remember just passing through on I95. Since then, we've never been southern than Columbus, OH and I remembered now how beautiful the South is! When you start having blooming trees and bushes on the highway median you know you're there :) Plus the Waffle Houses at every stop!

Sun rise in Myrtle Beach, SC :: All Pretty Things
1st sun rise at the ocean: you must feel it!
We weren't sure what to expect from Myrtle Beach, back in 2007 the beach in St. Augustine has been too 'violent' (wave-like violent) and we had moved on the Golf's side for the rest of the vacation. This time, as soon as we arrived, after setting the trailer in the campsite (we have it down to art now, it takes as less than 40 minutes to unpack and about 45 to pack it back) we ran to the water... blimey! the waves were huge! But now we have a very good swimmer in our household (which posed quite an interesting problem: knowing he swims well the kid became a bit reckless!) and my hubby *loves* the ocean (I am mountain person, to tell you the truth) so everyone was happy: they spent most of the day in the water (with brief breaks to catch their breaths and eat some), I spent as much as I could in the water, some time on the beach (I must take a picture of the collection of shells I gathered!) and some under the umbrella, reading.

Boys surfing, Myrtle Beach, SC :: All Pretty Things
The boys with the surf board
We were supposed to stay only for a week in Myrtle Beach, but halfway through we got news that we might need to return home earlier than expected - so we decided to make the best of the time we had on our hands, and instead of returning to PA we stayed for another 5 days :) Can you believe that we were so much in love with the water and the sand that we felt no need whatsoever to get out of the camping site, other than visiting the grocery store almost daily (I underestimated how hungry the water and sun made all of us)? It was during the last 3 days when we got out 3 times: once to eat at a Calabash Buffet (William was truly in love with that place), once the day-before-last to visit the actual Myrtle Beach visitor area (beautiful) and once the last night to eat at a splendid Southern Supper place (must find a Southern cooking book to try some of the recipes... just loved everything!) and to play a round of mini-golf.

Boys playing mini-golf: Myrtle Beach, SC :: All Pretty Things
The boys playing mini-golf under the lights
You'd think we would have been ready to leave after almost 2 weeks of constant fiery sun (and tropical behaviour: every day we had a quick and powerful storm, then all will be clear and nice), but not really. I could have stayed for much longer - and if you ask both my boys where is our next vacation they'll both answer: Myrtle Beach.

The only huge disappointment was the Aquarium. I knew I should not expect much (so far, besides the Smithsonians - and not *all* of them either - no museums impressed me much in North America), but the place was quite a circus. Nice sea life, no complains there, but much too less for our hungry-for-information son (and his parents too). Lesson learned: if a museum is under the Ripley's 'hat' - stay away :)

During our stay, the child decided he would like to fish (lots of kids where throwing nets) so we bought a net for him at the camp store. The net was a bit big for him, so the fishing had to happened in pairs: mostly with daddy, and a couple of times with mommy. We mostly got small fish - which we would put in a pail, watch for a while and release. But we had 2 huge surprises: one day a small stingray fish was caught in the net. It wiggled its way out of the net quite quickly, unfortunately, but seeing it in the net was quite a feeling! Another day - a puffer fish: I have never seen one in real life (only in documentaries or animated movies) and that was a sight! when we got it out from the water it was all puffed and scary-looking! then it deflated and inflated again and on and on it went like this for a few minutes. None of us knew anything about this type of fish, the pail was way too small to keep it in - so it was released right then and there. The experience stayed with all of us, we were all quite excited.

William studying the clams, Myrtle Beach, SC :: All Pretty Things
William studying the clams, Myrtle Beach, SC
One day we saw a pelican - it dove into the waters, grabbed itself a fish and flew very closely :)

And, of course... the dolphins! Oh, my! Gorgeous creatures - simply amazing. We saw them first while we were in the water - it seemed like you could touch them, but of course they weren't that close. Arching elegantly from the water - a family (pod? herd?) of a 5 or so. I watched the water like a hawk every day after, with the small hope I will see them again. Nothing - for a full week. And in the last 3 days: every day they came to visit, swimming graciously and having no care in the world. Not sure what it is about dolphins - but they sure gave you a sense of profound beauty!

The memories are still raw and the excitement still huge about this vacation. And, of course, the ideas I got from the sandy beach and its shells (more about this later, though).

We are now safely home (that's another story too!) and enjoying those memories :)

Where did this summer take you and your family?

Monday, August 13, 2012

A touch of autumn

I know, I know... we haven't even gone through summer yet... however - we've just returned from vacation and on our way back (through the Appalachian Mnts) I was reminded once again that time does not stay still, no matter what we do. A tree here and there would start rusting its leaves - while I love the colour of fall (especially here, in Canada, where the maple trees explode with unbelievable shades of red), I simply don't want summer to end, it's too soon!

But I think this next necklace is quite in the spirit of those trees I just admired.

Do you remember when I found the ceramic treasure at the store not long ago? There were 2 sets of ceramics, one green, one a beautiful blue/teal. I thought I will use the blue first - but after Kristi's Big Hole Challenge, what was left on my desk but the copper I used for the necklace. And everyone knows copper goes perfect with green, especially since the green ceramic beads were speckled with copper.

Ceramic beads are heavy and I wanted to make a long necklace, no stringing involved - so out came the wire jig, the pliers... swirl, swirl, cut... swirl, wrap, bead, swirl, wrap, cut... repeat many times, until this came out:

A touch of Autumn: copper and ceramic beads, wire wrapping, necklace :: All Pretty Things

It is quite a pleasure to wear (although it was quite hard to create the wire charms on the jig: the copper is much harder than silver to work with, and the jig decided it won't cooperate and it would pop the charms every turn I took) - not as heavy as I was afraid it would be, long and with exquisite curves around one's neck, and the colours - oh, my, I am in love with copper right now :)

This is a picture of about half of the necklace, to give you an idea on how it falls: look at the shades of green and rust, aren't they delicious?!

A touch of Autumn: copper and ceramic beads, wire wrapping, necklace :: All Pretty Things

While making the Bead Soup set you know I decided to make the 'beach' ring - and I suddenly knew how I want to use one of the disk beads left (I had a few beads left, but since the necklace was very symmetric, I wouldn't add them to the mix, thought I would make a bracelet):

A touch of Autumn: copper and ceramic beads, wire wrapping, ring :: All Pretty Things

I swear that ring took a lot of patience: the copper would just not behave itself... I almost gave up, but at the 3rd attempt I managed to get a decent-looking piece :) At least I am happy with it.

One more view of the necklace:

A touch of Autumn: copper and ceramic beads, wire wrapping, necklace :: All Pretty Things

Lesson learned: each metal has its own personality and one should better learn how to get along with various materials :) Luckily for me - I adapt quickly and I love challenges.

How do you overcome challenges? (they don't have to be jewelry related, there are challenges everywhere you turn :))

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The reward

The reward :: All Pretty Things
In a mountain village there was a man who was renowned for his diligence. However - his son was extremely lazy. All day he would do nothing and never got bored of it. One afternoon he went to his father:

- Father, I saw some boys with new, beautiful boots. I would like a pair too.
- Well, my son, if you would work just a little bit, I would give you the money for the boots...

The boy said nothing and left all upset. He was so wishing for the new boots that next day he went back to his father, asking for money. His father refused him again.

When he came back the third day, his father told him:

- I see you really want those boots. Right now I am busy here in the garden, but if you go into the attic there is some wheat you need to work. Go get a shovel and see there is a heap of what up in the attic; it needs sifting: start sifting it and then come back and I'll give you the money.

Happy, the boy went to the attic... but once there he thought nobody will know if he worked or not... He took a short nap, then went back to his father:

- Father, I am done! will you give me the money now?
- Absolutely not! said the man. I told you to work, not to waste the time. Go back and finish working.

The boy went to the attic, wondering how would his father know he didn't do any work. Maybe he saw him sleeping... so he climbed to the attic and started to watch his father. After about half an hour (during which time the man kept working in the garden) he went back to his father.

- Done, all done now. May I have the money now?
- Son, not only you're lazy, you're a liar too! Have you no shame? I asked you to finish the work and only after that come back. Please do so!

Seeing there is no solution, the boy went back to the attic, took the shovel, and as soon as he shove it into the wheat pile... he bumped the shovel into a pair of new boots exactly the ones he wished so for!

He was happy, but at the same time very ashamed for all the lies he told his father before. After he sifted all the wheat he went down in the garden to help his father, without being asked.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wire and beads - 5 tips

5 tips for making beautiful wire and bead chains :: All Pretty Things
Exactly like Jennifer, lately I have been working a lot with wire and beads. I love it, I love the feel of wire, I love the versatility of the resulting piece, and I love the infinity of possibilities.

In this article from Beading daily you'll find a tutorial and 5 tips on making the perfect wire components every time. I, too, like to work directly from spool: there is no wire wasted :)

Happy beading!

Beading Daily: 5 tips for making beautiful wire and bead chains

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Benjamin Wallace: The price of happiness [TED]

Can happiness be bought? To find out, author Benjamin Wallace sampled the world's most expensive products, including a bottle of 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, 8 ounces of Kobe beef and the fabled (notorious) Kopi Luwak coffee. His critique may surprise you.

The very-very end of the video holds a very-very interesting piece of information :)