Sunday, May 31, 2015

I'll be back soon

I promise.

Right now, I've just finished another long day (14 hours, today), writing one of my PhD exams.  It's been a bugger to write.

Actually, I've felt kind of like the frog in this video, getting the life slowly squeezed out of me.  Only I've made MUCH more noise about it than this frog.

Don't worry.  There's a happy ending.

Mine will come on Wednesday.  After I edit two more papers, grade 15 papers, and upload and print my PhD portfolio.  But on Wednesday, I will sleep.  And eat cheesecake.  And plan for my oral exams on June 24.

But between Wednesday and June 24, I will play with beads.  And make scarves.  And write blogs full of beautiful things.  Instead of snakes. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trivia Crack

This past week, one of my students told me about the game Trivia Crack.  Now, I'm hooked.

However, in playing, I've noticed a distinct lack of women included in the questions and answers.  yes, there is the usual contemporary entertainers - Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Oprah, etc.

Maybe I'm over-sensitive to this since I'm a feminist and my academic studies focus on women.  After all, my dissertation takes the discipline of History to task for its continued lack of including women in what is taught about history.  Even the National History Bee, which is one of the leading scholarship contests for elementary students, neglects to address women in its questions and answers.

So, I'm taking advantage of the "Create Questions" options available on Trivia Crack.  This morning I submitted 25 questions that focus on women's achievements.  I submitted in the categories of History and Art and even Science (though, no surprise, Science is my weakest subject).  I'm trying to focus on the women that we don't hear much about, paying special attention to women of color as they often get left out of popular conversations.

I figure it's one way to expose more people to all of the marvelous things that women have done.  Small steps.  You're welcome to join me.

And, if you want to play me in a friendly game of Trivia Crack, my screen name is justbrez.  :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Designing Woman

My favorite necklaces to make are what I call "collage" necklaces.  Where I take a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of bling, and mix 'em all together.

Fleur, circa late 1990s
The necklace above is one example.  These were the kinds of necklaces that first got me hooked on bead embroidery.  Way back when, twenty three years ago.  I went to lots of antique shops and estate sales and yard sales, picking up all sorts of odds and ends.  This was before there were great bead stores and online sources.  

Berkana, circa late 1990s.
Luckily, I lived in Las Vegas at the time, the land of bling.  And where friends loved to wear unusual jewelry.

Ronnie's Bling, 2013
This summer, I'm planning to get back to my roots a bit with some more collage necklaces.  Just need to figure out how to lay them out.

This will be a bigger piece.  And I think I'm going to use some citrine chips as the background.  Seems like the perfect summery mix.

Here's another.  Honestly, I'm not sure these piece will work.  But, maybe.  The main thing in a collage necklace is to get the balance right.  Colorwise, it's not too hard for me.  Weight-wise might be a bit more difficult.  I've got fairly heavy copper drops and a high profile druzy cabochon to balance with polymer pieces and a lightweight silver stamping.  The gemstone cabcochons will fit in anywhere.  They're more for accents and to bring in the energy of the rocks.

 On the above (very blurry picture), I'm undecided.  Do I go with the silver?

Or, with copper?

I'm leaning towards the copper.

I'm also going to be hitting the spring and summer estate/garage/yard sales.  Can't wait.  These always have the most unique finds!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lampwork Lovelies

Hi.  My name is Skylar and I am a lampwork bead hoarder.

But, sometimes it's good to force yourself to let go of things.  Don't ask me why it's good, 'cause I don't know.  I'm just trying to sound rational.  Or, maybe, justify buying more lampwork.  'Cause, you know, pretty things are also good for the soul.

A stash box
About a year ago, I set aside some lampwork sets to make necklaces and bracelets with.  For me. ME.  'Cause I never make jewelry for myself AND I can't bear to part with my lampwork.  But it makes no sense to have it all sitting in a box on a shelf collecting dust.

So, here's what I pulled:

A nice neutral selection.  For those days when I have to impress someone in academia and not appear to be a hippy/feminist/boat-rocker.  I'm thinking I'll pair this with some copper druk beads.

Some bracelet sets.  More neutrals.  I think I'm misrepresenting myself here.  I really don't wear neutrals very often.  Of course, I've already made up about 10 lampwork bracelets.  In purples.  And greens.  And blues.

Back to necklaces.  I wish I could remember where I found this clay figure.  I love some more.  I think she's pretty old.  And, I'm undecided on whether I'll really include her in a necklace, but...  These lampwork beads are from a fabulous artist in Israel, Pearly Karpel.  Years ago, when I first started collecting lampwork, I won one of Pearly's Ebay auctions.  I think it was 167 beads, for about $1 a bead.  And these are some gorgeous beads!  So gorgeous that I haven't let myself use any of them.  Until now.

Loving this set too.  Or at least how I see it in my head, in necklace form.  I think the yellow set is from Laffinggull.  The blue pendant is from Julsbeads.  I'm going to add some kyanite beads and some silver.  The pictures don't show it, but there's some yellow threads running through the blue bead that match perfectly.

This necklace will be lots of fun to do.  Very sparkly.  I got these gorgeous lampwork flowers from Terri Wlaschin, now of Shanty Creek Beads.  I've paired them here with champagne colored crystals, which matches the glass overlay of the lampwork.  Not sure what else I'll put with this.  But I want a long, drapey necklace.

My goal is to have these done by the end of summer.  So I can have something new and fun to wear when school starts in the fall.

(I'm on such an academic calendar.  This is my first week of summer break and I'm already thinking about fall.  Silly.)

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I played with fabric all day in the garden today!

No pics of the fabric (maybe tomorrow), but here was my view today, on this perfect spring day:
Aren't these baby irises delightful?  They grow in circles, like little fairy rings.

The sky was a beautiful blue, with some clouds.  The wrens were singing.  And cardinals and robins chittering.  We have one cardinal that calls "Ricky, Ricky, Ricky!" over and over.  Our oldest cat, Ricky, looks around, confused, trying to figure out who's calling him.

Bleeding hearts.  One of my favorite.  These are some impatient flowers, blooming when they're barely a foot tall.  If they'd wait a few weeks, the frost wouldn't get them and there'd be some shade to grow under.

I pulled out all of my bins of scrap fabric, thinking I could sort through everything.  Ha!  I did get through three bins and two big bags.  By trimming, I fit all of this into two bins and a small bin for embroidered bits.  I've got some gorgeous stuff to work with!

The tulips are a riot of color!  I bet we have close to 300 in the backyard alone.
Most of these are up and open.  With daffodils and hyacinths in the background.

Which made me start thinking about just what I'm going to do with all this pretty stuff.  Scarves, yes.  I've got two bins of old saris to use for these, and other stuff.  I think some patchwork scarves will be cool, with one side having lots of embellishment and one side plainer.  

Forget-me-nots!  I've careful about how much I let these spread.  They love to take over a yard!

So nuno scarves and patchwork scarves.  And belts.  And headbands and bracelets, for the smaller pieces.  Maybe even some pincushions or sachets.  If I make sachets, that's an excuse to buy more lavender plants, especially since the last two winters have been very hard on them.

Inside of a tulip by the mailbox.  Stunning.

I have two more bins to go through, mostly pieces of old felted sweaters that were gifted to me last spring.  Some of these pieces might be perfect for pillow covers.  Then I'm going to divide everything by size and by embellished/plain.  I'll make a bin that's good for backing belts, bracelets, and headbands and a bin of bigger pieces.
Love the coral color of this.

That's been the hardest thing for me, in my new obsession with fabric and felt - figuring out how to organize everything.  'Cause I like to work from an organized space, so that when I'm working on something, I know where everything is.  It took me a while to figure out how to organize the beads.  Hoping I'll get the fabric managed tomorrow.  I'd hoped to fit everything in my Grandma's cupboard.  Doubtful.  I collected more than I thought I did.  :)

So I can play!  Especially now that I'm inspired by all the beauty in my backyard.

Friday, May 1, 2015


I've been whipping up some WIPS. 
Some, like this one above, I've had in the works for a few years.

I like to work from piles.  (I think this comes from the stack of academic books I always have piled up, to be read.)  So, every few months, I go through some of my bins of treasures and pull out things that look like interesting pieces to work with.  I glue a bunch of pieces down and/or put components into baggies, for later.

Here's another one that's been in the planning stages for a while.  Not sure why.  
It's a really simple piece.

 I picked up this handy cigar box when I was in Kansas this spring.  It's nice and deep,
a good container to keep pieces in progress.

While I rarely do two pieces that are alike, I did a crane necklace last fall that sold almost immediately.  Since then, I've had two galleries contact me for the "crane" necklace.  I think these two will work as replacements.  The felt piece - well, it's my attempt to start letting loose of some lampwork beads.  (More on that in an upcoming post.)
I've also had customers asking for collage necklaces.  I think this coppery raku piece will fit the bill.

I'm excited about these two pieces.  The brown one is a cool mix of a wood button and a chunk of agate.  I think I'm going to add lots of fringe around the agate.  The pink/purple collar will also get fringe, in the same bold pink drops as on the right side.  I love doing these kinds of collars - simple but lots of texture!

For my ode to spring, I did these two pieces.  Delicate flowers, size 15 seed beads, aka headache beads (because of the eye strain.)  I think I'm happiest with the little touches of crystal in these pieces.

Love these "destash" pieces from Joan Miller.  While I don't do sets very often, I can't break these up.
It'll be a great necklace and earring set, with some rose quartz or rhodonite beads.

I found these cool pieces of pottery (on the left) and rough azurite (on the right) in AZ last year and have been wanting to work them up into something special.  I love the rustic quality, the "oldness" of them.

This sweet little polymer owl is, well, sweet.  At only about an inch and a half, it's fairly tiny so I bulked it up a bit with some gemstones.  Loving it.  And, ammonites are always fun to work with.  This one's paired with goldstone, red jasper, and a purple cats eye cab, for a bit of color.  I love the combination of browns, oranges, and purple.

And, finally.  A couple I have yet to start.  I'm on the fence about the druzy below the wings and rose quartz cabs.  Seems like a bit of overload.  Same thing with the blue/green piece.  I'm undecided on the druzy.  The only way to know for sure will be to get started.

Maybe, tomorrow.