Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Diane Fitzgerald book review

I am going to ask you a question?  What image do you have in your mind when I say the name “Diane Fitzgerald”?  Do you think of a Designer? Do you think of a Teacher?  Do you think of a Scholar?  How about all three?    
 In Diane’s new book by Lark Crafts, Diane Fitzgerald’s  FavoriteBeading Projects, Jean Campbell in the Foreword, writes:
 The way Diane shares her knowledge of the beads with such gusto is what draws so many students to her. Whether it’s through her numerous books, articles, or workshops, she’s a tireless educator, encouraging the joy and the creativity that comes from her beadwork.

As Jean describes this new book from Diane, she calls her one of the “bead mavens” which I have to agree with right here.  I have all of Diane’s books and have used them all in my journey upon the path of bead weaving.  This book is filled with 24 of Diane’s favorite class projects that will delight anyone wanting to expand their knowledge while creating some delightful pieces of art.  And there is every kind of project for all skill levels in this book from simple bead stringing in the “ One-to-Many Strand Necklace”, netting around resin beads in “Fortune-Teller Beads”, peyote weaving in “Merry Cherries” necklace, square stitch in “Yao Necklace”, brick stitch in “Zipper Bracelet”, fabric flower construction in “ Apple Blossom Necklace”, and much more.

One of my favorites in this new book is “May Baskets” using the Zulu stitch, which Diane has presented to the public in a previous book.  This project alone is worth the purchase of this book, as I can see this adorable pin being made in multiple colors with so much variation of embellishments. And what is even more astounding about Diane’s new book is that with the projects she shows many variations of the project using different color schemes and materials.  And I could not stop without stating that I find her “Button Doll ornament” one of the cutest projects ever, which is simple enough to help a younger student assemble and give out as gifts and favors.

And as with other of Diane’s books, there is a gallery of work that you just won’t want to miss.  I met Diane last year at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee.  I was so in awe of this woman.  I told her how her books had given me the confidence to experiment and push myself to limits I never thought possible.  And that through that encouragement from her written articles and books, I challenged myself to construct three-dimensional pieces filled with beaded items made using her instructions.  She was a delight to meet, and I do hope that someday I am able to become one of those “many students” and be covered with all of Diane’s scholarly teaching skills.  

And Lark Craft is giving you a gift.  Click here for a free pdf file of a project from Diane’s book, Diamond Chain Bracelet.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Family milestone

Mallory Noel

Mallory and Dot
Victor, Melissa & Mallory
Casey and Jessie Buckler
Yesterday was a family milestone for us all.  My youngest brother Victor & his wife Melissa had a graduation party for their oldest daughter Mallory.  I cannot believe Mallory is not only 18, but driving AND a high school graduate.  I still remember the day she was born and if you go to my Facebook page you can actually see the video taken 18 years ago when Vic & Missy brought Mallory home from the hospital.  Then I started to think I even remember the day Victor was born...I do feel old at times.  But it was a wonderful party with lots of family there to celebrate with a nice luncheon at the Der Dutchman restaurant in Plain City.  It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying themselves, and I finally got to met Mallory's boyfriend in person.  My Mother got to come and my sister Jeannette with her family.  We all just enjoyed talking and catching up.  And we get to do it all again in less than two weeks as Jeannette & Rick's daughter Jessie is graduating today & having her party on June 10th.  I just wish my Dad could have been with us as I know he would have been so very proud of Mallory, Vic, and Missy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review of Sonoko Nozue's book

When I received Japanese Beadwork with Sonoko Nozue  from Lark Books, I took one look at the cover and felt a little bit of panic hit me as I noticed the model was wearing a necklace all made up in peyote.  Before opening one page, I thought to myself that this book would be filled with peyote designs not for the faint of heart.  I have seen some of the most amazing work by Japanese artist in person at the Bead Dream displays in Milwaukee and in magazines.  The panic I felt was because I have only recently conquered my fear of the peyote stitch with help by bead designer Met Inmom while in Detroit.  I took a deep breath and started to leaf through the first few pages and was instantly relieved to recognize other types of bead weaving that I feel comfortable with.  I relaxed and began to enjoy looking through this book actually dreaming of making some of the projects.

The introduction by editor, Nathalie Mornu, brings a picture of Sonoko to life.   Sonoko has become a celebrity at the Bead and Button shows in Milwaukee after her first workshop in 2005.  I remember seeing her always surrounded by admiring students while at Met the Teachers event where her booth was so crowded that I was unable to get near to look at the kits she had for sell or to met her.  Now, I wish I had been more patient and waited in the long lines to acquire one of her kits.  In the introduction, the editor writes “beaders who prefer to pore over the illustrations rather than the read word will be especially delighted”.  I’ve bought books from Japan on fiber toy making that have no English at all and have always found the Japanese have wonderful illustrated instructions that are always easy to follow, and now I find a book on Japanese beauty also has instructions even I could easily follow.

I thought I understood beads, but after reading the techniques page, I realized I knew nothing about the three types of seed beads (Delica, Aiko and Matsuno) and their unique properties.  I knew the Delicas were different by being cylindrical better suited for bead weaving that called for multiple passes, but was amazed that the other two bead types also had differences suited for different types of bead weaving.  Imagine having your eyes opened on just page 12.  Sonoko also writes, “ The same stitch in a pattern can produce a variety of projects if you simply alter the kinds of beads which you weave”.  I knew this, but to read it in print just reinforced the permission to experiment. 
With Chapter two the actual magic begins.  Each project begins with a beautiful picture with a short introduction my Sonoko.  The bead weaving illustrations are well thought out with each type of bead given a unique symbol.  The thread patterns are easy to follow and the word descriptions are simple but exact on how to complete the piece.  Included with each project is a precise supply list. 

Waterdrops caught my attention at first as very colorful and fantastic variation of the caterpillar or fringe bracelet.  By adding a different bead weights and Swarovski Elements this is the perfect project to experiment with color and design. Sweet Breeze that is a netted shawl just took my breath away.  The only thing I wish is that the photograph was in color so I could admire the delicate nature of this wrap.  Sonoko uses lots of crystals in her designs.  I usually shy away from using so many crystals, but Snow Crystal makes me want to run to my local bead store to purchase enough of the 3mm bicones to complete this pendent in multiple colors.
The Sonoko Wave is so delicate and feminine, I could see myself wearing this with my scrubs at work to make myself feel special.  Probably  one of my favorite projects is Night Dew.  With the 350 3mm bicones surrounding the write, I think the drops of glittering dew in the mornings would blush at what Sonoko has designed.  I can actually see me wearing this to my 40th class reunion in September.  Add Breath of Spring in this same color scheme to complete a shining ensemble with the scarf like necklace to amazing the onlookers.
Stone Pavement
 One of my favorite project in this book is Powder Snow.  Using  Swarovski glass pearls and combining them with size 11 seed beads, I twitch to get out my needles to create this stunning piece of art for my wrist.  Some day when I feel brave enough to learn and conquer another bead weaving technique, bead crochet is on my list.  Stone Pavement is beyond lovely.  Just the colors in the piece make me want to swoon.
And then the Sonoko Necklace itself is presented at the end as a prize.  Intimidating at the very first, I find that each project give more confidence to entice the beaders to confront this amazing necklace.  By breaking each piece down into smaller interlocking pieces, Sonoko has created a design that does rival Mother Nature.  After spending time with Sonoko’s new book, I feel inspired to add her to my bucket list of artist/instructors that I wish to learn from.
 Click here to download a PDF of Crystal Rose from the book offered to you by Lark Books.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bead Embroidery obsession

I've been obsessed with bead embroidery from the very first days while involved with cross stitched and a Mirabella kit called for beads to embellish the tapestry.  That was it!  I was hooked from that day on, but I don't think I can only do bead embroidery forever so I always am trying out new bead weaving techniques and sometimes they do find their way into my bead embroidery projects.  Not this time.  I just wanted to let my brain go and go totally bead embroidery all the way. 

I belong to several beading groups on Facebook.  One of them is called Beader Without Borders.  We are a group of beading enthusiast from all over the globe. This month there is a Spring Challenge where you are requested to make a piece using this picture as inspiration.  It is a beautiful picture of a Spring bouquet from a garden.  I also wanted to try out some of Nicole's Bead Backing to construct a soft bracelet from.  She had all these lovely colors to choose from, and I was immediately drawn to the yellows and oranges along with all her new shades of green.  If you are familiar with NBB, then you'll be pleasantly surprised.  It is similar to Lacy's Stiff Stuff, but it comes is a rainbow of colors.  Personally I feel that it is more durable that LSS.  When I try using LSS, the warmth of my hands make the fibers ball up plus the fact that you have a bright white background.  Many bead embroiderers dye the LSS with Rit dye, but even that does not help the durability of the fibers.  Yet, NBB not only is already dyed, but it withstands the warmth of my hands and does not pill up nor does the ends fray as does Lacy's Stiff Stuff.  Okay enough with my selling pitch.

I used the yellow Nicole's Bead Backing along with assorted beads from my stash.  I left some of the yellow showing through as I thought that gave it a more warm and Spring like look.  I did use Ultra Suede for the back as I was afraid that prolong exposure to skin might break down the NBB fibers plus it is more porous and absorb sweat further causing breakdown.  For the edging, I wanted the bracelet to have more of a flower petal look, so I did a modified herribone edging.  When I finished I used snap as closures.  It does feel good on the wrist and is nice to look at.  I do think that the only thing I would have changed is that possibly I would have used the green NBB to match the challenge photo a little more.  But hey, doesn't matter as now I have a garden bouquet to wear on my arm.  Perfect.

I've tried the NBB with brooches.  I've been wanting to make an owl brooch for a long time.  Plus, I'm trying to come up with a possible project for 1 Stop that might attract students.  This is my first try.  I wanted to have sequins make up the breast of the owl, but this doesn't really match what was in my head so next time around, I'll use bigger diameter sequins.  I like the project, but it needs a little tweaking before I can present it to Lisa for a student project.

And then naturally...the end. Scottie Style!  Frodo loves Spring.  Our back yard is a bird hatchery with about six sitting nest. At times it gets very loud as those tiny little nestlings are very noisy. We have Robin, Starling, Wren, Cardinal, and I do believe there is even a Dove nest.  Frodo is always watching as the birds fight off his mortal enemy Mr. Squirrel and has Arwen beside him as his side kick.  Love Spring!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of Janice & Tracy's book

If there was a beading “bucket” list for classes then you’ll find both Janice Berkebile and Tracy Stanley’s name high on that list.  The wire divas are not only extremely talented and informative on the subject of wire, but also both are wonderfully entertaining.  I might be a little biased reviewing this book as I have been lucky enough to have taken classes with both of these tow instructors.  Last year at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, both Janice and Tracy were telling us about this their upcoming book offered by Lark.  They both said there were lots of instructional photos.  At that time it was hard to imagine what they possibly meant, but let me tell you that they did not exaggerate at all.  I struggle with wire classes because I get so excited in class and when I get home I would absolutely forget all the little twist and turns you make with your tools.  Plus I would forget which tool is used where.  Imagine how happy I was when sent this Lark Craft book to review and saw right there on the front cover of Making Wire & Beaded Jewelry: Artful Wireworking Techniques  “Learn visually with 500 How-to Photos”.  I opened the first few pages a little skeptical as I thought to myself how I could really learn with pictures when real time classes couldn’t do that for me.  Then I started to leaf through the rest of the book and was just astonished with the amazing amount of full color photos with step-by-step instructions clearly written for each project.

The first chapter outlines the tools needed for working with wire to created jewelry.  The on thing both Janice and Tracy stressed to me in classrooms is that quality tools are a MUST not only for ease in execution but also in safety issues.  I can still see in my mind’s eye my first classes with both of them at the Puget Sound Bead Festival.  I was struggling with my (okay I admit it) cheap tools I had bought here in Columbus.  My hands were just aching so badly and I had cut myself on the knuckle with the metal exposed grips.  I asked if I could use their tools in class and could not believe the difference.  I’d pick up another tool and questioned if I needed it looking over to see Janice bob her hand at an angle at me & slightly nod with a grin on her face or Tracy standing with hands on hips saying, “YES!”  So as you can see each page I turn I could hear their voices ringing out as I viewed each project showing me in detail all those things I had forgotten in class.  That is why I am saying that for anyone this book is a MUST for your library no matter if you are a beginner who has never taken a class at all or are an intermediate wire worker looking for more advanced techniques to take your wire art to another plane.  

For me the chapter on wire techniques are those I will go back to over and over again.  Even if you only use this one chapter of this book you definitely will be happy with the reward of learning that you’ll never have to every buy another clasp or jump rings again.  This is a definitely must for you reference library.
Each project progresses along teaching new techniques from Janice’s “Dog Bone Earrings” and Tracy’s “Go-To Bracelet” that are both simple enough for a novice to complete with the colored step by step photos are written instructions.  From project to project you will add another wire technique to your learning belt until you reach the final projects of Tracy’s “Cascading Spiral Bracelet” and Janice’s amazing “Bloom”.  I have to repeat myself here, but each project has so many clear photos to follow which is the perfect way to learn.  This reference book is a great keeper for you to always have at your fingertips.  The only thing better is to actually have Janice or Tracy sit right next to you, but in this case you get all the chocolate for yourself. 

I find it extremely hard to choose my favorite projects from this book.  Janice’s “Wire Pods” teaches how to make a three dimensional cage by using a basket weaving technique is one I want to perfect, but I am also drawn to her “Spiral Waves Ring”.  Tracy’s project “Cage It” stimulates my Muse to pull out all those irregular shaped stones I collect and create a way to merge them with wire and pearls to finish a stunning pendent.  But “Rock & Roll by the Sea” is my definite favorite that maybe someday I’ll be able to attempt.

I know this book will help me achieve success over my fear of wire and will probably be one of those books that over time will become dog-eared from use.  

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trip to the Garden center

Yesterday day was Mother's Day. I'm not a Mother except to three rascal dogs, so no big outing for me.  My sister was busy packing things away getting ready for her friend to move in with her.  My sister in law was sneezing away with a bad cold, and my Mother was out of town with my other sister visiting my Grandma so really no real Mother to spend a Mother's Day with except my friends here on the Internet.  Now Fiona is a Mother, but all she really wanted yesterday on a gray rainy day was to sleep in her new cushioned doggie bed and a nice brushing.  So Chris & I decided to go someplace where you can walk about fragrant trails without getting soaking wet.  We went to our favorite garden center, Straders, on Bethel and River Road.  As soon as I walked out into the green house, I just knew I had to take pictures with my iPhone.  The colors were just amazing. 

I'm working on trying to come up with some ideas for my Beading for a Cure project that is a charity that is near and dear to my heart.  I wanted to make a traditional doll this year and have settled on an Asian doll pattern by Leslie Molen.  Leslie does not allow people to sell dolls made from her patterns unless they have contacted her.  I asked Leslie, and she gave me permission to use this doll for my project.  I have the beads from the kit, and the doll pattern, but not a clue on the color palette for the doll's clothing.  Now after spending an hour strolling around the garden center here in Columbus, I've found some ideas to help me on my final fabric decision so I can start this project.  I think about colors and how to manipulate them into pleasing eye catching finish.  Thank goodness that I don't have to struggle with color wheels or books on color design...one trip to the garden center will help me find those colors that appeal to me & hopefully to others next year when this doll will be auctioned off.  Sometimes just a simple walk can give you so many ideas.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Evolution of Synergy project

 I finally have the doll completed for my Synergy project.  BUT...there is still so much more to do before this piece can be completed with the installation of the lamp work done by my partner Cindy.  I still need to finish the stand which is a turtle.  It has taken me two months to complete the doll.  I haven't been working on it continuously as I have been busy with work and other projects, but I must say that it has taken over a big part of my beading time.

I started out with a resin face covered with cloth. Then I painted the face using acrylics.  The doll has a full armature as she needs to stand without a visible doll stand, and she must hold a boutique of lamp work flowers.  Once I get the boutique, then I can mount them and cut off the remaining wire.  Also, I will then be able to mount the doll onto the turtle (in progress), but I need to have the lamp work beads first to figure out the weight distribution as I don't want this doll to fall over during the gallery show.

I've been asked why the hair of my dolls are so dense.  Up until now, I haven't shown anyone how I do the head piece of a beaded doll.  As you can see from the photos, I cover the head with peyote then use that as the base to have an even and dense platform for the beaded hair.  Not all my dolls have hair like this as it is very time consuming and requires the use of hemostats to pull the thread & needle through all those base beads. But I do like the look of it especially when the piece is to be judged.

You might be wondering why such huge hands.  Well, the boutique of lamp work beads will be covering up most of this and I needed them to be larger to hold the weight of the glass flowers in place.  Later next month, I hope to get together with my partner up in Michigan to work more on merging both our work together. 

So far so good.  Still have to figure out if I want the turtle to be all beaded or Apoxie Sculpt. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lark Craft review of Heat, Color, Set & Fire

Hello, here I am again ready to review another one of Lark Craft books.  This time, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone with a book using metals and wire to make jewelry.  The book is
Heat, Color, Set, & Fire: Surface Effects for Metal Jewelry
by Mary Hettmansperger
I have taken a few classes working with metal at Byzantium that is now closed due to the owner’s retirement and had a blast.  When I came home to play with metals, I found that I truly did not have a good working place to hammer away in total contentment, so I put all my finishing and texturing hammers away waiting for the day when I could find a place to make as much noise as I wanted without driving my dogs crazy.  Opening the first pages of Mary Hettmansperger’s book published in April 2012, I felt a pull making me want to play with metals again.
The first few chapters had me dive further in and what initially caught my attention was the looping technique.  What a wondrous way to weave with wire making basket type cages for all kinds of stones or found objects.  Mary also shows how to use paints and embossing powders to create color taking metal jewelry one-step more.  She also showed how using a heat torch could bring out even more distinct colors depending on the type of metal used, but I just don’t see Chris letting me near a heat torch as I have a tendency to lose track of thought when deep in creating and I don’t really want to burn my house down.  I showed him how Mary demonstrates using Apoxie Sculpt and resin within a metal frame to create unique pieces of personal art. 
After reviewing her article about copper etching, I felt the need to give it one more try experimenting with all the stamps I’ve accumulated over the years making some very funky designs.  But the one chapter that really drew me in was using colored tins to make jewelry.  Wow!  I knew there was a reason why I bought two boxes of dog treat tins at a garage sale many years ago.  That combined with the techniques outlined in Mary’s book on how to use found objects made me think about all those tools I have put away, and how I could now use them.  Her approach on how to make resin jewelry just made me tingle, and I do believe I actually dreamed about this one night figuring out where I had all those great Scottie treasures and how to embed them in resin to make some unique pieces of jewelry. 
I can’t wait to get out the tins, sheets of metal, and tool later on next month during my 12 days of vacation time.  Maybe we could find someplace outside to hammer and make fun pieces of jewelry.  I really think this book will make anyone itch to try all the techniques for themselves.  Mary’s instructions are easy to follow with many pictures to guide the novice to creating something special.  Take a few minutes and look at some of Mary's completed metal piece in her gallery. Mary also does fantastic fiber arts and basketry.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed.