Friday, December 31, 2010

Artfully Meandering: Sand and Sea Necklace

My life is on the move again! This time I'll be staying in South Carolina but moving 3 hours away from where my family lives. So, I had to buy a new car, get insurance, get new work clothes, move. Again. But, I have a job! I'm so excited to start it. So, it will probably be another bit of blog silence while I get acclimated in my new location.

In the meantime, I'm posting pictures of the bead soup necklace I made with the beads I picked up in Albuquerque. It doesn't look very southwest, does it? I saw these Amazonite nuggets and picked up smaller beads built around the Amazonite. I went with mostly shell beads...small and medium size and then some silver and cream seed beads.

I don't feel like it's finished yet. I have my lampworking stash ready to go, but nowhere to work. Sigh. Again. I'm going to try to remedy that. But, my idea was to make some glass beads to weave into this design to round it out.

The colors in this necklace remind me of the sand and sea. But I realized my brain has been marinating in 10 & under television when I was composing my post for this necklace. The first thing that came to mind as I was thinking about this necklace was "Mermadia", which is my younger niece's favorite Barbie movie at the moment. I get to watch it a couple of times a week. pick: Sand & Sea or Mermadia. Either one. Both are oceanic and water-oriented. ;-)

Hope y'all are creating happily away! I've been reading the blogs, but not commenting lately. And I'll probably still be a bit quiet for a while until I'm a little more settled.
Take care and chat with y'all soon!

And in the meantime, I wanted to point out a new blog to sister's blog, Stories to Share about animals and kids. Please stop by to visit her and welcome her to our online world.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Artfully Meandering: Finding Myself

Nancy, I didn't take a lot of time to look around, but the scenery kept me captivated for such a long drive (CA-TX = 25 hours) that it was very hard not to stop and just soak it in. I did, however, spend 3 days in Albuquerque. It was raining the day I went out and interviewed with a recruiter. But it snowed one day and I had another bout of jetlag and ended up sleeping on the snowday. In the meantime, these are the photos I snapped while driving.

I didn't realize there were mountains around Albuquerque until I left. They were hidden in the precipitation. I did, however, manage to find an outstanding bead shop, a gorgeous leather furniture store (the kind of southwest furniture I drool over). I went through the downtown. I was looking for an adobe casita with detached studio listed on Craigslist. Didn't find it, but I enjoyed the vibe of Albuquerque. I could live there for a year or two on a consulting gig if something popped up out there.

Best co-pilot ever!!! She made it safely from Hong Kong and was a great little companion.

I rented a mini-van to see what it was like. I have to say...I loved having a mini-van. Funny story though...did you realize that 98% of the mini-vans on the road are white? (Okay, maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole) but I got into THREE (not just one) DIFFERENT white mini-vans at different times. One was a Honda and a guy was on the telephone in front of it and I heard him say, "Hey, that's my car!" Oops. The second one...well, there were actual people in it, so I narrowly escaped that embarrassment. And the third one...well, I opened the door, but realize it was nothing like mine and quickly closed it and ran over to mine. I guess that's what happens when I don't drive for two years and learn to recognize the subtleties of your "own car." But, I still love the mini-van. I probably won't turn soccer mom (for an old Maltese) just yet, but I'm not getting a white mini-van.

How can you not be inspired by high desert mountains? Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm..... Mountains. Love them. Miss them. I'm living in "low country" now. I think where I live in South Carolina is 70 feet above sea level. But, there are beautiful things here. Some serious history on the east coast. I'm conflicted with my inspiration at the moment. I'll have more to say on that subject later, but some of it is getting resolved with getting supplies for things I need to do. Once that Creative Monster is unleashed...well, it's like a Pandora's box. You can't put it back. Besides the jetlag and getting and upper respiratory infection, I was feeling seriously off-kilter and out of whack the last few weeks. I think not working leaves me a little adrift, too. I'm trying to get a schedule going, but I keep getting smacked down by the jetlag (it took two weeks) and now the upper respiratory infection. I need to be patient with myself because I was sick for two years with migraines.
The good news, I haven't had major headaches since I've been back. I must have some extreme sensitivity to the pollution. It's disappointing to me, as I think my two years in Hong Kong will be the extent of my ex-patriate experience. But, I got to have the experience. I'm grateful. I miss my friends dearly and other aspects of Hong Kong. I'll definitely go back for a visit when I have friends that are ready for their big China adventure.

Back-seat driver.

High desert mountains. Yummy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Artfully Meandering: Resurfacing

When I returned to the States, I got to do something I've always wanted to do...see the Southwest. I drove from LA to Dallas and met my dad there and we drove the rest of the way (he did) to South Carolina. I have SOOOO much to say I really don't know where to start. I'm feeling adrift. I don't know where I'm going to live yet. I don't know where my job will be. But, I do know my headaches have reduced considerably. To the point where I had one on Tuesday. And none the rest of the time. The decision to come back was good.
As for the Southwest, I drove through Arizona (desert mountains) and New Mexico (higher in snow was on the ground) and just fell in love with it. As I knew I would. I have many more pictures. I spent a few days in Albuquerque and found a darling bead shop. I'm working on a seed bead soup I made (inspired by Beverly Ash Gilbert's soups) with Amazonite nuggets as the anchor. I'm loving working on it so far. It's not far enough along for a picture. But, I thought I'd surface and give you just a hint of where I've been.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Artfully Meandering: A little hiatus

As if you can't tell, I'm on a little hiatus. I'm moving back to the U.S.! So, it will take some time before I settle back in and find a studio. I also gave all my jewelry I made away as gifts to my friends here in Hong Kong so they can remember me. They were adorable wearing the pieces the last times I saw them.

Now that I'm returning...I'm looking forward to finding the tools I need to do the crafts and jewelry I don't have access to here. I struggled with too many migraines to have time to figure out where to get the tools I needed to do a good job with things like the polymer clay. I have a confession: I like big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels so I can find at least starter items for what I'm looking on.

Keep you posted with pictures later!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Studio Time: Sherbet

The oranges remind me of Orange Sherbet. Yum! The necklace is finished in twisted tubes of polymer clay, silver, and citrine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Artfully Meandering: Exploring Design

Howdy, y'all! I seem to have lost some steam! But, I have a new camera that has motivated me to take loads of pictures of my pile of goodies.

This necklace is a good metaphor for the twists and turns my life has been taking. And I believe the twists are not over. We shall see.

This is a very random long necklace. I have a few small spools of colored wire. I love twisting wire together and did twists of two and three colors together. After I twisted the wire, I then wrapped it around a mandrel, cut it into 1 - 1.5" pieces and slid it over a thick piece of silver. I hammered the loops.

In between, I've included polymer beads that I've tried to "age". I still don't think I have the right materials, but I did achieve some of what I wanted. With the turquoise beads, I scratched them up, painted them with brown acrylic and wiped it off to leave the brown in the scratches.

I added a twist bead at the bottom, then some copper chain mail. It's a randomly interesting piece.
I have lost momentum as I still think and dream in glass. Polymer is now becoming a staple, but I do simple beads. What I'm finding my customer base likes is simple and elegant. A little chain maille, some wire-wrapped beads and we're good. I'm thinking about simple designs that will go a long way in addition to my "artsy" pieces like the one above.
I have more to say and want to get writing again, but I'll save that for another day. Just wanted to throw some eye candy out there and say hi to y'all!!! Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Studio Time: Simple Southwest

Nothing like a new camera to get me started with taking pictures of the pile o' jewelry I've made. Here is a simple one...mixed reds in polymer and a turquoise rectangular tube on brass.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Studio Time: East and West

The jury is still out on this necklace. (The jury in my head.) Style-wise, it's a little bit of East and West. The hammered silver bail reminds me a little bit of an Eastern roof-line and little bit of a Western hanging bar for the entrance to a ranch. The pretty part is the gorgeous glass beads by MoonKatty Studios. (If the jury in my head eventually nixes this pieces, the glass beads will be saved for a better project.) The polymer beads are my on-going experiments in polymer. I "age" the beads with a light wash of silver or copper ink.

The focal has gone through several iterations of aging with copper ink, sanding, silver ink, sanding. I really like the pendant and how it turned out. It just still feels juvenile and immature in technique. Both sides of the pendant are decorated.

Anyway, just a little something to look at... enjoy MoonKatty's glass beads. My inner jury is going to continue to deliberate on the polymer. :-D

Monday, September 13, 2010

Studio Time: Watching Out

Thought it was time to post some eye candy. I made a watch to match the necklace I made without the orange beads. I thought the navy and dove gray would be more neutral and go with more things. Now I just need to replace the battery in the watch face!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Studio Time: Custom Mixing Colors to Match

And now for my latest little endeavor...color matching! I tried this a few times in a glass and it was always a lot of experimentation because of the glass reactions. (That's also part of the fun of glass--when you're not trying to match colors--is waiting to see what will come out of the kiln.) For examples, I did a bridal party jewelry and it took a little testing to find a glass that matched. However, with Maggie Maggio's lessons in color mixing polymer clay, it gave me a jump start on matching. And let me just say, getting the right color in clay is much easier. I find the polymer colors a little boring by themselves, but with a light wash of the glittery inks, I get the shine and sparkle in the beads that I want. (Hard to cure the glass-geek in me.)

Here are the earrings, which are in the lovely dove gray and will be great every day earrings. Even did my own ear wires as I needed French hooks and didn't have any. A little rough at my first try, but it will improve.

I have a few shirts that I don't really have jewelry for, so I thought I'd try out the color mixing on this one, as it had some of the most unusual colors that I wouldn't have jewelry for. My goal was not to mix to match exactly. I wanted to have the color be slightly off because I like my jewelry to pop and not blend. The yellow/orange clay mixed slighty more orange, the dove gray and navy blue were slightly lighter. However, when I put a wash of silver on the navy and dove, it matched exactly. I put a wash of copper ink on the orange-yellow and it made it fairly orange, but I was still happy with it because the brightest color now popped. Goal achieved!

I'll share the recipe mixes for the two colors from Fimo clay. Sorry, I don't have exact measurements as I just played with it until I got it right.

Navy: Cobalt with Black
Dove Gray: Navy (from the above recipe) mixed with white and a small amount of Chocolate
(recipe mix: navy blue, lightened up with a bunch of which and a smidge of chocolate thrown in) was slightly lighter

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Studio Time: The Green Necklace

Here is the green necklace. I'm finding I'm reverting to my old style before I made jewelry...small beads and elegant and simple. I also have some wild and crazy brooches and pendants that I plan to incorporate, but I haven't figured out how to put them in a design without it being too jarring. Anything here is the elegantly silvered green with the silver clay pendant. The pendant design is from my own hand-carved design in polymer then stamped into the clay.

A splash of silver ink covers the beads to add elegance and tie into the pendant.

I also made a long necklace to go with the shorter one when I felt like wearing more jewelry.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Studio Time: Style Whiplash - but I hope in a good way

Here is the style whiplash, but I do believe it's a tamer version of the some of the other pieces I've made lately. I've started working with fine silver clay a bit. I created my own stamp in polymer and used that on this pendant. I've also made the beads in hand-mixed Fimo polymer clay in variable shades of coral and painted them in silver ink.

I have a little green one that I'll show soon. As as the "Green Lady" (my favorite color) I'm keeping the green one. But, this one is available for $75 (including the earrings) if anyone is interested. I think I'm going to call this series "Artifacts".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hong Kong Chronicles: A New Installment for my Future Book, "Memoirs of a Klutz"

It is important to have read this post to understand some of the things I will describe:

Swinging Like a Monkey

The double-decker buses have narrow, steep, circular stairways that go up and down. I had a friend with me and we were sitting on the top deck of the bus. Unfortunately, I realized we needed to get off the bus at the next stop. There is ideal timing for ascent and descent of the steps and they should be between the major lurches (Stop Lurch and Start Lurch). I started down the stairs in the Start Lurch where the bus has just spit out passengers and the driver basically stomps on the gas to get back into traffic. One thing I did do (learned the hard way) before I go down the stairs, is adjust my two bags so the straps are firmly on my shoulder and tightly clutched under my arms. I also employed my Four Point Death Grip going down. The stairs face backward on the bus and this is what posed the problem for me because I started down the steps just as the bus was heaving forward. My feet came off the steps and I was basically swinging like a monkey from the railings until the bus settled into it's driving rhythm and my feet swung back to the stairs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Effectively Focused: Project Management for the Small Business

I'm back! (I think.) I've learned during my second year in Hong Kong that July-August is going to be busy. I have visitors, my entire creative routine is disrupted, so I'm going to try something new and just go with the flow. I will most likely be MIA during the summers if this pattern continues. I'm hoping to return to regular posting soon.

On another note, I've been mulling this little project in my head for a long time. My day job is as a project manager and project management really touches (or has the opportunity) to touch many parts of a business. It can touch on budget, contracts, schedules, supplies, to name a few things relevant to a small business.

My qualificiations? I have my Project Management Professional certification and Certified Scrummaster certification. The PMP certification creates a common language when it comes to talking about projects (it does not give you a step-by-step plan on how to do a project). The Certified Scrummaster gives you training in a specific way to do a project. In general, I like this method because it embraces simplicity. However, I view both certifications as a "bag of tools" that I can use depending on the situation. I have used bits and pieces from both schools of thought depending on the project.

I've been struggling with this series because I didn't know where to start. I remember being a rookie project manager and wanting the "magic ingredient" about where to start. Heh. No magic ingredient. Just persistence and hard work. Why do I think this is relevant to a small business? When I was first self-employed about 17-18 years ago, I was overwhelmed with making sure I did everything right like contracts and reporting taxes. I think my PM experience has given me the broadest look across a business that I've found helpful to me. I know there are several other blogs that have business advice and I highly recommend them. Most are on my blog roll to the left. I will specifically point them out in a future post. My view is looking at your business as small projects. I'm not sure how regularly I'll post on PM ideas, but I'll try to share things I'm using and finding useful.

While there is no magic ingredient for managing your small business, I will say there are two concepts that can help make your life easier:
  1. Keep it simple
  2. Expect everything to change
Keep it simple. Don't go overboard writing every little thing down, unless that's what you need to do to remember something. And use Post-It notes. You might even want to take stock out in 3M (kidding...sort of). After all this work I put into learning "methods" and "tools" for project management, the Certified Scrummaster training took me back to simplicity. And it makes so much sense. The first class I took, we just used post-its for planning our projects. Of course, when the projects got large enough, we switched to software for tracking, but in the humble beginnings, Post-It notes are sufficient and maybe all you'll ever need. Why?

Expect everything to change. I fell into project management because I have a natural inclination toward organization and planning and then following through on the plan. The pitfall for me was realizing that plans are subject to change. A LOT. Your starting plan will look nothing like your finished plan. Oh, yes. You can learn from each project you do, but every one is unique. It was so frustrating to have a nice, pretty plan...only have to it wrecked by someone who forgot something, or changed something, or something got delayed, or...well, you get the picture. Post-Its are fabulous because you can move things around and it doesn't ruin the pretty picture.

Style Whiplash

In other news, I have been working a lot in polymer clay and my style has changed so drastically, I think it will give you whiplash. However, I've been experimenting with things I can find at the local art store and I found pearlized inks...below are my first experiments with small beads in the copper and silver inks over various colors. Purty, ain't it?

Then, I've finally figured out how to eliminate the whiplash by being more conservative and working in smaller beads. Sorry for the low light, but these are small beads (about 8-9mm) in mottled, earthy red that pairs nicely with antiqued brass findings and copper beads.

Stuff I Find Amusing in Hong Kong
Bumblebee socks anyone? I think this is the uniform of a messenger service because he came with a matching shirt.

As opposed to Ugly Wallpaper? Is there a store for the Ugly stuff?

Okay...that's it for today. Happy creating, y'all! ZaiJian for now.