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Archive for September, 2009

A Bit of Chaos

It has been and will continue to be a very busy time for me right now. It seems like I am never home with my family. But when the opportunity arose to take a class from Scott David Plumlee at my favorite bead shop, then I had to find the room in my schedule.

The class I took was making a Double Chaos bracelet using a technique from his newest book. (It’s actually featured on the cover.) The technique is pretty free-form, which is a bit out of my comfort zone. Even my “free-form” was coming out in a pattern, so I had to mess it up a bit.

It was a great class, and I wish I’d had the time to take all four of them this weekend. I hope he’ll return when his third book come out next fall, and I’ll be able to take more. He’s really such a nice guy and explained several other techniques in addition to the chaos component.

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Back-to-School

This week I took my first class in a continuing education program on Web Design. I have always said that if I had it to do over again, I would probably go into Web Design and/or Graphic Design. Two things happened earlier this year that kind of gave me the push I needed.

The first was that I took a pay-cut at my job. It’s a tough economy, and everyone is making cuts. I guess I am happy to be able to keep my job, but taking a pay-cut was not exactly an improvement on the career path I never thought I’d be sticking with. When I took my job nine years ago, I thought of it as a temporary move. But things don’t always turn out the way you’d like, and I’m still there after being convinced that I would quit after each of my two children were born.

The second thing that presented itself was a summer catalog that arrived in the mail one day from one of the local colleges. I looked at their continuing education programs and it seemed like something I might be able to fit into my busy schedule while hopefully not putting too much of a strain on my family. I went to an informational session a few months ago, and decided I wanted to try it out.

I haven’t talked about it too much with my friends and family because I’m not really sure how much of the program I’ll be able to complete. We’re just trying it out and seeing if we can fit it in financially and without putting too much strain on our limited family time. Fortunately, my husband is behind me 100% to pursue something that I love.

I have taken some web design courses in the past, so I know it will take a few classes before I’m beyond the basics that I already know. But I’m excited to see how this new venture shapes up!

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Bead Bazaar Shopping

My jewelry partner-in-crime and I met up at the Northwest Bead Society Bead Bazaar last weekend and spent a good four hours exploring the booths and chatting with our favorite beading ladies. Last year I didn’t buy anything, but I made up for it this year with purchases at three different shops.

I’m very excited about all of my purchases, but what I love the most are the glass pieces in the upper left corner. These are from a company called Loot! and are made by a local gal who has been doing glass work for over 11 years. She’s found a way to take art glass that cannot be recycled and turn it into these gorgeous pieces. I’m currently planning to make a charm type bracelet, and I can’t wait to play around with it.

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I’m Riveted

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being able to take a riveting class taught by Tracy Stanley. We started off with 3″ x 3″ sheets of brass and bronze. We marked off squares, textured them, antiqued them, cut them out, rounded the corners, pounded the edges, picked out charms and created decorative components. Then we started riveting the pieces together.

It wasn’t until I looked at my first completed square of metal that I actually started getting into this class. The thing about metal working is you have to do 10-15 different steps before you finally start to see some results and anywhere along the line something can go wrong. I didn’t like making all of these decisions – this metal or that metal? this texture? more texture? how do I lay it out?

What I loved about this class is that pretty much all of those decisions didn’t have a wrong answer. It was a lot of playing around and experimenting, but for the most part everything turned out great. I was really pleased with what I accomplished. I think I was able to complete more of this project than I have with any other metal work class I’ve taken in the past.

I can’t wait to complete this into a bracelet, and I’m already thinking of other things I want to try out. Unfortunately, there are quite a few tools that I would like to add to my beading supplies.

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Foxy Findings

A few weeks ago I placed an order with Foxy Findings. I discovered this site through Twitter somehow. I think she started following me first, and after looking at her site and seeing all of the discounted shell beads, crystals, and gemstones, I figured she’d be a fun gal to follow.

I have to admit that I was a bit hooked after I won my first Twitter contest. The only downside for me is the $100 minimum for free shipping. I’m all about the free shipping. Since I’m not actively selling my jewelry, $100 is quite a bit to spend on play beads.

Occasionally she’ll have one day of free shipping for $30, while I missed the first few, I was able to catch the one last Friday. I’m so excited because my purchases arrived this afternoon, and there is an amazing amount of stuff for just over $35! (Ok, so I overspent just a little bit, but you’ll understand why if you read on.)

I’m not even sure where to start. I think the first things I put in my basket were the shell beads. I bought two different colors of both square and round. These are going to be really fun shapes and colors to play with.

In the semi-precious stones, I bought some diamond shaped lava that I plan to use with some other lava I have. It’s a bit smaller than I was envisioning, but I think it’s going to be working itself into a necklace. I bought some natural blue coral teardrop beads, which I have no idea what to do with yet, but I really loved their color and the shape is something I don’t have any of.

I am so excited about the fluorite rectangle beads. The colors are amazing on two of them. The third one is a bit on the pale side, but I’ll find a use for it.

I’m a lot more excited about the African Yellow Opal 34mm “coin” beads than I thought I would be. I’ve been meaning to add some yellow into my jewelry stash, and these beads looked like fun online. They’re a nice, chunky size. I was originally thinking I would pair them with the yellow freshwater pearls I bought for a necklace, but now I’m toying with the idea of taking four of them and making a bracelet and using the last one as a pendant for a necklace.

I bought the muddy green and turquoise porcelain beads on a whim and really have no idea what I’m going to do with them. But for $2.39, I thought they’d be fun to play with.

Finally, I was looking for something to fill in the approximately $2-3 I had remaining to make my $30 minimum, and went searching through their Designer Value Packs. There are pages and pages of these packages, which the video on the site describes as hand picked for color coordination. All you need to supply is your imagination.

They range in price from just over $3 to under $40. Some of them are not my style, but I had little trouble finding an interesting looking set for $5.59. I decided to go with orange tones even though I had a blue set picked out as well. I’m really trying to expand my color pallet and explore tones that I don’t normally gravitate towards. There’s one bead in the set that I’m not too keen on, but I already have some ideas forming for a necklace.

Overall, I’m very pleased and excited about my Foxy Findings order. I wish I had the time to burn through beads so I could place another order right away, but it’ll take me some time to get through these.

I do have to admit that I avoided going through the crystals too much. I’m a bit of a crystal snob and prefer Swarovski. Although I’ve liked the two strands I’ve won in Twitter contests. I think they will make nice pieces and in this economy, sometimes you have to go with your second choice.

Oh, and not pictured was some .015″ Spring Green nylon coated beading wire that I purchased. The spool has 315 feet for under $5! I have no idea what I’m going to to with it yet and I’m not certain about the quality, but for the price, I thought it was worth trying out.

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Bargain Shopping

Like every good gal nowadays, I’m shopping on a budget. I had a little picture project that I needed to do some shopping for, so I ended up at Michael’s. This is not my favorite place to shop for beads, but I like to stroll down their couple of bead-related aisles and see if anything catches my eye.

At the end of one aisle was their clearance bin. Near the top was this blue pendant. Then on one of their other end caps was the green shell pendant. I think they were both marked down to $1.99. I already have some shell (dyed mother of pearl) beads at home that will be perfect for the green one. I really liked the style of the blue one, so I’m sure I’ll be able to find something fun to do with it.

Sometimes it pays to do just a little bit of looking.

Oh, and I made a fun organizational find. I don’t have a picture of it yet, but I had to snatch it up at 40% off. I have dreams for my crafting area, and I’m getting the pieces bit by bit.

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…I think I’m in love!

A few years ago I received this Nikon SB-600 Speedlight from my parents for my birthday. I’d asked for a different piece of equipment, but didn’t describe it very well, so I ended up with the speedlight. While I knew this was also something I wanted one day, I wasn’t really sure how to use it, so it never made it out of the box.

I’m shooing a wedding in just a couple of short weeks, and I thought if I could figure out how to use this flash, I might be able to work through some of my lighting issues in the church. I am so impressed with this flash!

I started taking some pictures of my little one in our bonus room at about 7:30pm. I just had one small light on and left the rest of the room in natural light, which made it pretty dim. My first shot was with the light directly at him.

I was so pleased with how well he turned out in the dim light that I started playing around with moving the flash to different angles. I didn’t keep track of exactly what I did because I was just having fun.

Then I put the 1.8f/50mm portrait lens on and really started enjoying the results.

Hopefully, this flash will give me enough light to get the shots that I’d like. I’m so nervous about this event. I’m just praying that I’m able to capture some good memories for the happy couple.

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