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Beads and other Needs
I hope I didn't get your hopes up too high for a really spectacular pumpkin...while I have done the all-day, pumpkins-to-match-each-dog thing, this year I decided to go old school.
But we've been watching a lot of football this year; we always do, but my interest in the NFL is much higher now because of Vince Young and lots of other Longhorns playing. So every Sunday we have ESPN on with their preview. I carved the pumpkin Sunday afternoon, and just as I was about to create a traditional toothy grin, I was struck with inspiration:
I think he's cute--my husband thinks I'm nuts.
You know how in normal parts of the world, gardeners go out in spring to see what has weathered the winter, and how things look green and fresh after a long period of brown? Well, that's fall here in SE Texas. Winters are not such a problem, but through the toughest part of the summer almost everything just looks like it's given up. Happily, we've had a lot of rain the last few weeks, and after 4 years things are finally getting established. My roses have gone nuts, even the fussy hybrid tea!
The gopher has reappeared, so I went out there to look for a fresh hole and dig it up. Couldn't find the shovel, so I started pulling up passionvine. I am very tolerant of volunteers in the garden, being extremely lazy and also kind of hating to kill a plant when it seems happy, but this stuff is taking over. I didn't think anything could grow faster than the morning glory, but boy was I wrong! From 3 or 4 wimpy looking stems dug up from the concrete-like dirt in our neighbor's pasture, which appeared to croak immediately, I have dozens and dozens of giant vines. The roots are enormously long and funky looking. I let them go as long as they were blooming, but since they seem to have changed over to a plan to dominate the earth it was time to start pulling. I know they will be back, so the caterpillars don't have anything to worry about.
Ironically, I think the shade from the passionvine may have preserved some of the other plants. I have a pot of gerberas and shasta daisies that I planted way back when to celebrate the Longhorns, and they survived the summer. That's a first for me! Happily, I also found a very nice volunteer--a rose has come up! I guess when I took out the two climbers, one of the cuttings must have taken root. Too cool, a free rose plant!
So yep, I feel good finally taking some control out there.
Come back tomorrow to see my Halloween Pumpkin!
Oh kids you just aren't going to believe it. I looks like I'm not going to have a booth at the Houston show. There's been a misunderstanding on my part, and I'm embarrassed/frustrated/disappointed so that I kind of don't know what to do.
I was so excited with these new koi and was so focused and barrelling down the road to the show that now that it's off I feel totally at loose ends. I just sat at my computer all day yesterday checking email, hoping to hear from somebody about it. How pitiful! And now I have to email people and tell them I'll see them there but won't be showing.
I feel like such a dope!
My Big Small Focal Beads
Ok, here I am, thinking, Dang! This is one big bead I'm working on here! Awesome! This is going to be so big it will just have to sit on the table like a paperweight!
And here it is, just a little bigger than a quarter (yes I know that's a penny in the picture). But he's cute, right? I'm pretty happy with him for a first try. I had to do the tail first, encase it, then attach it to the legs and body, encase again and then add his top half. The bead is flat on the back, as I thought it was just getting sooo big I didn't want to add a lot more glass to make it round.
So that was my one fancy bead from yesterday. Tuesday I did another with fishies. The flowers aren't as big, so the proportion is probably better than Monday's:
It's a fat lentil shape, hopefully should be easy to design with. Now, I decorate all of these on both sides, because somebody
we all know and love is a detail fanatic and looks at everything from every conceiveable angle, and we agree that it is annoying when things aren't decorated on the back. I think this is doubly true for pendants, which do move around a lot.
BUT, these beads are going to be really expensive anyway, and I wonder if they would actually sit better in a design if they were plain or even flat on the back. It would cut the cost some, and I could just do flowers, so it wouldn't be completely blank...
Designers, help me out here!
OK, at last I think I'm coming close to an 'ultimate' koi bead.
Made the flowers first off mandrel--the centers are a clear cane with stamens of yellow and pink threads--then went on with the bead, keeping the flowers in the kiln. Then after adding the fishies' heads but before the eyeballs, superheated a spot and squished the hot flower onto it. Result? Wow.
And fun, too. The only caveat is that this bead took me over an hour to make. Not super practical.
It finally occurred to me that these 45-minute-to-an-hour beads are the reason my neck is so sore. With the little guys, I'm moving all the time, grabbing colors, putting them in the kiln, etc. But with these big fellas, I sit there squinched up the whole time, leaning into the shield trying to see what I'm doing. I have to wipe the noseprints off, it looks like the windows in my car with doggie noseprints!
I plan to discipline myself now, just doing one big fancy bead at the beginning of my bead session, then working the rest of the day on regular beads. Worked great yesterday, I got a lot done.
If you want to see some of the new koi in person, check Penny's schedule and visit her at one of her shows in the next few weeks, and of course I'll be at the Houston Bead Society show Nov 11 and 12.
17 days, countless beads
Wow, just a little over two weeks till the Houston Bead Society show. Can that be right? Why am I still obsessing on these encased koi--I should be cranking out the lentils and weebles and lollipups!
But that's one of the problems with a new idea. First, I get completely obsessed with it and don't want to do anything else, including vacuum giant wads of dog hair, cook dinner, or shower; Second, each time I sit down to do it I come out with something new and different and sometimes better, and then all those other 'new and great' beads from the last session just look old and halfhearted, and so what do I do with them now? I only want to use the newest and greatest ones!
Can you tell I had a breakthrough idea over the weekend? I think it was last Monday that I said, "OK just one more day of these new koi, then down to work"....well, obviously that didn't work out but on the plus side, I think I have found my wow factor. Stay tuned and I'll have pics tomorrow.
In other news, I lost the auction I was bidding in for a fancy espresso/cappucino machine. I was willing to go only so high, and after losing this one (and having lost before), I realized that I'm just not committed enough, and my limit is never going to win me one of those beauties. I am physically incapable of paying $250 for a coffee maker. So Saturday I went down to the local TJ Ma** and picked up one of these guys:
Mine is red, and it cost $12. Perfect. I'll put my money into good coffee instead! I went down to the local
coffeeshop to buy some, and they recommended their Italian roast. I emphasize local, because I do not mean the ubiquitous (even here) chain coffee place! Sweet Eugene's roasts their own beans, the big roaster is right in the middle of the store, it's a gorgeous brass and copper contraption.
I didn't know what to expect from this thing and thought it might take a while to boil and perk, but boy was I wrong. As soon as the water started to boil, I could hear it whooshing up into the upper pot. The coffee is delicious and strong, with NO bitterness or aftertaste. I am a happy camper, and the puppies no longer have to live in fear of an unsatisfied coffee craving tyrant!
By the way, the auctions end this evening, so go and bid please!
Wow. Now I remember what was so hard about ebay. The waiting. The watching. Visiting the counter, which sometimes actually goes backward
. That counter can't be right, I think I've visited the auctions more times myself than the stupid thing is showing. It's taunting me!
I can't handle the suspense of having an auction on for a whole week. It's especially hard once it's been up for a day or so and becomes relegated to the no man's land between 'Newly Listed' and 'Ending Soon'...can you believe how many beads there are on ebay?!
Ha! And my auction itself looks pretty lame compared to the regulars, with their beautiful layouts and fancy framing.
Well let's hope it's the bead that counts.
GO BID NOW.
Or at least visit and pump up that counter for me.
Damn, damn DAMN!
I've done it again. The cappucino machine has been on for an hour and about 3 drops have come through into the carafe. I have had this crummy thing for exactly one year. This is a serious situation for everyone. I make a full pot--which I suppose translates into 4 shots of espresso--every morning and that is my caffeine for the day. I need it. The frothy milk I add to it contains essential vitamins and minerals. Without the coffee I like, I don't think I am very much fun to be around.
It's the puppies that suffer most.
I am slowly beginning to understand why people pay hundreds of dollars for cappucino/espresso machines that last forever. The frustration is terrible, and in the long run, having to get a new cheap one every year isn't going to be so cheap. I know just the one I like. There are several on ebay at deceptively low bids right now. But I learned from experience that there are plenty of people out there who want them as bad as I do, and they're willing to pay.
Maybe if I put some beads up on ebay with a plea for high bids so that my dear doggies can live peacefully without worrying about an insufficiently caffeinated mommy, some sympathetic beaders would help. Beaders love a cause, don't they? A few pathetic-looking pictures, and the Europiccola is mine!
I'll think about it.
***Okay, I did it! Two new peeking koi are up on ebay for your bidding pleasure!
GO FOR IT!
It's officially an obsession!
I can't seem to stop making these encased fishies:
Went a little simpler on this one, since I know not everybody likes tons of surface decoration. Just some bumpy bubbles and nice colors.
And for those who like detail but aren't into florals, a bit of bonsai.
More pics next time, my camera wants more juice!
Hey, No Problem
So in case you were wondering, I totally rock:
When I went out to the studio yesterday, I noticed that my practice beads didn't have the same problem of looking dark as the finished ones did. The difference? Lots more clear glass. It was so obvious looking at them that I needed a fuller shape to get that optic effect of bending the light down into the bead.
I also used thinner stringer for the branches and a stronger pink for the flowers. As I finished the first one, I was so excited, it looked like a big bubble! This works out better in a lot of ways. With more glass on there, I can do more shaping on the bead, which is fun. I like the barrel shape and have decided to call it a garden seat
shape, you know-- like the pottery ones you can get. More appropriate to the theme, I think!
Size on these is of course a little bigger than usual, but the small one is still not quite quarter-size. It has TWO fish on it!
While I was working, I did think of other things that might be fun peeking out of the water, I think I'll play with that idea today.
Thanks Noralie for the comment!
Looking for WOW factor, feedback please!
I'm working on some very fancy focal beads featuring the koi. Below is an example of the first batch, a regular fish with cherry blossom branches over the water:
I am really happy with the cherry blossoms, especially since I hold the stringer of glass in very much the same way as a sumi-e calligraphy brush. I think that's pretty cool. I made a cane of tiny pink and yellow threads for the centers, and it gives a nice sparkle to them. I also did these in some really cool shapes, like a big fat lentil, and a real 'pickle barrel' shape. Nice.
But I do think the base is a little dark, I'd like the branches to show up more. And although I think the design and concept are tighter, they aren't that much different from what I already do.
I'm looking for Wow Factor here!
So yesterday I went back to something I had only tried in passing:
Nice concept, I think--and on some of them, the encasing brought out the streaks of yellow and orange in the fish, which surprised me. What I don't like is that I feel like the impact is dulled. I can get some clear glass that is supposed to be nicer than what I have. I don't know if it will make much difference in such a small amount, though. Yes, these are still pretty little, you know me! The one above is about the diameter of a quarter, a little smaller.
I guess what bugs me is what always bugs me about encased beads: they seem to absorb the light. But having the fish peek out and the flowers on the surface might be the only way of getting the best of both worlds. I think I've lost my objectivity here, too. Staring at these things in the flame till I'm goggle-eyed means sometimes I only see what I don't like.
Please help me out in the comments, blog readers! Would you be impressed to see a semi-encased fish? Or do you like the sharpness of having him on the surface? Maybe I should just have a stock of both on hand to see what folks say in person. My local beadshop where my pals hung out has closed, so I'll have to wait for feedback till the Houston show in November unless I can get you guys to add your two cents' worth.
Wow, I was up before 7 this morning--that's rare for me!
It's been foggy the last couple of mornings, and getting up this early, I can see it's really thick. But don't get any ideas of a misty autumn morn; it's muggy and gross. We made the rounds at Warrenton last weekend and nearly melted. Didn't find anything too exciting, either. We might go back Friday, depending on how brave we feel. Unless the weather changes a LOT, Bunny will be staying home. Bummer!
Lots of witch kitties on their way to Penny; have you visited the Halloween page yet? Too fun!
***update, wrote the above yesterday and I guess there was something I wanted to add, but now I don't remember what...
Anyway, the butterflies emerged from their cocoons before I got to take another picture, so I'll just have to enjoy them as they are. I wish I'd had my camera yesterday morning, we were out having coffee and saw the tiniest hummingbird really going after the morning glories...but the hummers don't usually care for them so much--wait a minute, it was a MOTH! A big chunky moth! Saw another one flying across the yard this morning, looking for all the world like a bird. It isn't that their wings are wide, but their bodies are huge. Must be the same thing that I thought was a bat when it hit the window one night last year...Hey, they are furry...