December BJP Update

This is where it stands this morning. I wanted to post a shot of these cabochons, too - they are so exquisite - the body is full of stars - this is a river stone from southern New Mexico - it was really porous and I gave it a coat of liquid glass. It brought out those wonderful occlusions in the stone. The head is a striated agate, showing multiple layers. I thought they'd be perfect for this month. My body is filled with universes, my mind with many layers.

While I'm working on this, I've also been working on the Beadweavers' next challenge, the theme of which is "Spring Break." I decided on another pony - this one different from the ones I've done previously. This is Maia.

Some of the significant differences I'll be incorporating are that I'll be painting in her eyes rather than using large beads, and her mane and tale will be beaded, rather than fiber.

Now for Inspiration #4: The beadwork of Rebecca Roush. Her work is stunning.


No Time To Bead

Not for the last two weeks, really. Just a stolen half-hour here and there, making me scattered and nearly deeeeee-ranged

and this is scarcely odd because it was the middle of the week.

I digress. I babble. It's tax time. Forgive me. And on a totally unrelated note, but to bring the previous two posts to their natural conclusion, I finished second in the Red Challenge.

Now to catch up on three weeks' worth of Inspirations:

#1. Poetry: Book of My Nights by Li-Young Lee - spare, evocative and haunting. Here's a sample from my favorite poem, "Pillow":

There's nothing I can't find under there.
Voices in the trees, the missing pages
of the sea.

Everything but sleep.

And night is a river bridging
the speaking and the listening banks,

a fortress, undefended and inviolate.


#2. Art: Jay Dunitz' work - he paints with electricity! Here's a picture of the cover of his book, Pacific Light:

#3. Music: This would be an extension of my current love affair with all things Simply Red - their concert DVD, "Simply Red - Live in London". There's something about an Irish tenor singing jazz, reggae, R&B, rock, pop and ballads that puts me in a creative mood. My quest to own everything recorded by Mick and the gang continues.

I've been crunching numbers and receipts into spreadsheets and worksheets and timetables. I have to compartmentalize my world when I'm getting ready for the annual trip to the accountants. All the paperwork is now complete, but the discipline has spilled over into my real life. It's taking me a little time to switch from one hemisphere of my brain to the other - I've been keeping a To Do list every day, and I had to actually write down "work on Bead Journal Page" for today.

I believe a little quiet time with a pile of beads ought to set me to rights.


What A Bitch THAT Was

No other way to say it. This piece was a challenge, all right.

This great mosaic of all the Red Challenge entries was pulled together by Carol Dean, aka SandFibers, one of my fellow New Mexican Etsians and a founding mama of the Etsy Beadweavers' Street Team. My hat's off to her for all the energy and effort she puts into our Team.

I hope she and MaryLou, aka Time2Cre8, know how much we all appreciate them- this dynamic duo handles most of the heavy lifting for our group's blog and Yahoo Group forum.

Voting has ended.

(I came in second!! Thanks for the votes, guys!!)

But that's not what I called you here for.

This is the story behind the picture in my previous posting. Just in case there's any lingering doubt that everything always works just swell from start to finish, I'm here to put that little myth to rest.

When I first started work on my entry for the Red Challenge, I decided to cannibalize some fairly ugly beaded beads and make them all into leaves. They're fun to put together and work up quickly, as these things go. I thought they'd mount easily on a netted base, so I hauled out my transparent garnet seed beads and made this Very Wide band.

Little did I suspect what I'd let myself in for.

First off, the band was too wide. After mounting a few of the leaves on there I realized the band was too dark. I opted to do something lighter and brighter in color as well as more narrow, so the leaves would cluster more effectively.

Instead of using a netted base (my original intention, which I should have held to), I did a peyote band in transparent bright red. Wrestling with needle, thread and bead, I found that I had to mount the leaves by sewing them down in such a way that had the thread showing on the underside, where it would be vulnerable to wear. Also, the act of sewing them down had me catching the tips of the leaves each time, tangling the thread and making the process very slow. As in, working on this part an hour or so every night for several days. I got the big leaves tacked down and did a bit of fill-in stitching around them with fringe type leaves, and large seed beads to resemble berries.

The deadline to enter the challenge was now only a few hours away. Technically, the piece was finished, so I took my pictures, shoved the thing onto Etsy and entered the challenge.

Still, the problem of the thread showing on the back was irritating me. My solution? I thought it would be a simple matter to apply a little Fray Check to the threads showing. I underestimated how quickly it would stream out of the bottle. It went everywhere. When it dried, it left a film on all the large accent beads. I got back on Etsy and edited the description to say the bracelet was unavailable. I spent about four hours peeling the dried film off not only the big beads, but a good bit of the leaves as well. I ended up using a toothbrush to get it out from between the little seed beads.

All that Fray Check resulted in the bracelet becoming very stiff. So stiff, in fact, that the button closure became impossible to manipulate. Two more hours were spent in changing them out and adding in a copper snap closure. This made the bracelet longer and gave me a very sloppy fit. I had to remove several rows of the base band from both ends and reattach the findings. It was still a little big.

To counter this problem, and take care of the back of the bracelet (which still looked horrid), I figured I could back it with a piece of deerskin. I don't have any in red, but I did have a piece in a sort of warm caramel color that I felt would work.

I glued the leather down the center of the piece and whip-stitched the edges together. The leather peeked out here and there between the leaves, and sure enough - it looked ghastly.

To fix this, I felt I could dye the leather to a shade of red with Something - I mean, I have boxes and boxes of paints and markers - I reasonably expected I'd lay my hands on just the right thing. Several hours of rooting through my stash left me frustrated. Not a drop of red in sight. Ready to tear my hair out, it was definitely Time For A Break.

I had to take care of some filing up in my office, and while in there I happened to notice one of my lesser purchases - a printer ink refill kit I bought over two years ago which proved to be the messiest and most fruitless thing I'd ever tried. I kept the bottles of ink to use with stamp pads and for refilling my calligraphy pens. What the hell, I thought. Photo Magenta would have to do.

I dribbled it on around the edge and to my great relief, it worked. I covered the whole surface with the ink, turning the golden deerskin blood red. It dried beautifully, but my new concern was if the color will rub off on my wrist. I rinsed the whole piece in cold water and watched a lot of red go swirling down the drain. I kept on rinsing it until the water ran clear. After the dripping stopped, I laid it out on a paper towel. Here's the result:

Which caused me FURTHER alarm.

Total time to get to this point? Twenty hours spread out over two weeks (with a fair bit of serious drinking interspersed between the work sessions).

If I had to do this over, I'd mount the leaves on a netted base. The piece would keep its flexibility, I'd be able to do a button closure, there'd be no need for backing and the whole piece would have taken about ten hours less.

The good news is that once it was completely dry I wore it all day and not a whisper of red transfered to my skin. And now that I've worn it for a while, I kinda like it. I might just have to hang on to it a little longer.


Hit The Deck Running

This is just a little shout-out to my daughter, TheJadeDog. We're both members of the Etsy Beadweavers group, and we both have entries in this month's challenge, the theme of which is RED. If you'd like to know more about the challenge, check out the group's blog (voting starts 7 Jan), or click here to see all the entries over at Etsy.

Here's a better look at my entry, titled "Simply Red, Leaving.":

Remember: Vote Early, Vote Often!! (that's a joke for those of you who may have lost their sense of humor over the holidaze).