Thursday, March 27, 2014

Busy Creating New Necklaces This Week

Stringing a choker necklace
The last few nights mom and I have been reassembling necklaces and creating new necklaces for the show this weekend.  Monday I reassembled three necklaces (the pendants were cracked and had to fix them in the kiln) and mom reassembled our circle necklace (pendants were cracked or chipped and had to be fixed in the kiln) that has jump rings.  Mom has stronger hands than I do, so yes, I make my mom work with the jump rings!!!

Southwest Twist - was restrung because it was a small, very small choker
 Tuesday was the night mom and I were stringing the two choker necklaces - each strand was over 50 inches long and there were four strands to string.  I think it took us almost three hours to string but we are both happy with the way they turned out.

The Southwest Twist was a challenge piece from Erin's Toast of the Town Necklace Hop.  The beads used were Turquoise dyed howlite cross 16mm, red chips dyed bamboo coral beads (2 packages), and reconstituted turquoise (16x20mm).  We created the enameled copper "Red" toggle clasp for the challenge.  Mom and I loved this piece so much we wanted to make another one.  So, we used a different pattern for the toggle clasp and I enameled it white with purple. The beads we used were dyed purple crazy laze agate of various sizes.

Iris pendant - lace agate - our lampwork beads
Bib pendant
Bib pendant from Jan's ABS Challenge that we didn't get done.  Still
trying to decide what we want to do with this one.
Mom and I started laying out more pieces to string together - trying to have a production line going.  Plus we lay out pieces and then we decide if we both like them - and believe me we let each other know when we don't like something the other did ;)

The finished necklace - has one of our enameled copper "iris" pendants, dyed purple crazy lace agate, yellow Czech beads, and a set of our lampwork glass beads.

I really wanted to finish this one last night - but we didn't have a big enough clasp to go with it.  As much work as mom and I put into this bib pendant I didn't want a clasp that was half ass to to finish it off.  So, at lunch today we are heading to our favorite bead store to see what they have in stock.  If there isn't anything there then this baby is going to have to wait even though I really want to take it to the show this weekend.

While mom was finishing up the flower bib necklace I started to re-string this bracelet.  I didn't like how much trouble you had with the toggle clasp, so reworking it.  It has a set of our "Kuiper Belt" lampwork beads, gunmetal spacers and black seed beads.

Tonight is the last night to finish up any last minute pieces.  Then it is load up the car and take off tomorrow morning for our show.

I hope you all had a very productive week like we did - mom and I are exhausted!!!!  But it feels so good to be creating again!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party Partner and Enameling this Weekend

Well, I know mom and I have been away for a bit - was a little busy with a conference I attended at the beginning of the month and then an enameling weekend at Thompson Enamel and of course we are getting ready for a show this weekend - busy, busy, busy.  I do plan on sharing what happened at the conference and the weekend at Thompson but first I thought I would share an update on the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Mom and I found out who are partner is - Genny from Florida.  She teaches a lot of different jewelry techniques in Florida - mostly chainmaille. She is also an RN.  Mom and I are so excited to be partnered with her this time around.

This is what we sent Genny - sorry can't share because she hasn't seen the goodies yet.  Genny had to teach this weekend and had her mail on hold - so hopefully she has a chance to see her goodies today.

Here are the goodies we received from Genny:

Mom and I have the cookie trays out and have already laid out several ideas.  What I love about the cookie trays is that we can go in at anytime and move things around until we have the pieces perfect and ready to string.  I can't wait until we can share with you the final creations!

This weekend was a cleaning the garage/studio, finding all the inventory that needed to be repaired and laying out final pieces to assemble for the show this coming weekend.

Last year - due to wind - some of our pieces were chipped or cracked when they were knocked off the display table.  So, we tore the pieces apart so I could throw them into the kiln to repair them.  These are the pieces that had to be done.  Now just have to put everything back together.

Earrings ready to go into the kiln

Since I was repairing I thought I would enamel a few earrings and two pendants. 

Here are two pendants I also got enameled.  I am showing you the front and back side of the pendants.  I was trying two of the techniques I learned at the enameling weekend at Thompson. 

The finished enameled pieces - sorry - I have rotated the image but blogger keeps loading it wrong.  Once we have assembled the earrings and pendants I will share better pics.

So, that is what mom and I have been up to.  I will try and type up blog posts this week about Vegas and Thompson Enamel.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Las Vegas - Conference Time

Tonight I am heading to Indianapolis to head out to Vegas in the morning.  There is supposed to be a big snow storm coming in, so I went ahead and got a hotel room in Indy tonight so I don't have to worry about the drive to the airport at an unholy hour of the morning on Sunday.

I am going out there for the 2014 SharePoint conference.  We use SharePoint at our school and I want to learn more about SharePoint and how to better utilize it where I work.

I plan on posting pictures as I can to my Facebook and Instagram sites.  Of course there will be a blog post when I get back.

I do plan on finishing the blog hop for the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music when I get back.  I am still trying to finish up some things before I leave tonight.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

3rd Annual Challenge of Music - Hope

3rd Annual Challenge of Music
It is time for the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music.

The rules for the challenge this year:
  • Pick a significant year in your life history. Now pick a song to help tell that story. Your playlist is as unique as you are! The music of your past weaves a story that only you can tell. The choices of song will tell us a lot about who you are, where you come from, what is important to you and give great insight.
  • Create something of your choice - jewelry, accessory or some other artistic representation - that helps us experience this special song. I am opening this challenge up to any artistic interpretation. Whatever way this inspiration moves you, follow its lead!
Last year I picked the music for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Music and you see more about it here.  This year I wanted it be about mom and the song/music that is significant to her.

You better grab some coffee or tea - and maybe some food - because this is going to be a long one.

In 2013, mom and I decided to have an extension built on the back of her house, there was turmoil at work for both of us, mom had health issues, which made for a very chaotic year for us both.

I thought I would share pictures of our piece as I told our story - the piece for this challenge is called "Hope".

Last January, mom and I decided that the best thing for us both was to have me move back in with mom so we could share expenses - here is where we first talked about it.  It took eleven months (of hell) for it to finally happen, three times longer than was expected, and my house didn't go on the market until January 2014 instead of last summer.

Some highlights of our journey of frustration, despair and flickers of hope:

  1. The first shock to mom was the destruction of her yard.  She had to have several trees removed and some moved around the yard - the yard was a complete and utter mess. The yard mom worked on for 13 years was gone.  Mom just about bawled, and all I could tell her was "It's okay mom."
  2. Next shock - when they built the house originally, the contractors laid the water/sewage pipes from the street under the driveway and the sidewalk to the front door.  We had to get an exception to connect directly to the street - then more destruction.
  3. The concrete - oh boy - the concrete.  The subcontractor who usually does their work was going through chemo, so the builders tried another crew.  That crew set us back five weeks, and they left mountains of dirt and debris piled up in the yard, over poured concrete, damaged the back fence and further demolished mom's yard.
  4. Next - the venting and furnace subcontractors (do you see a pattern yet?) - they couldn't work us into their schedule, so another subcontractor is hired and put us behind another 4 weeks.  When they finally showed up, they started the work one day, left aluminum ductwork hanging from the ceiling and then they didn't come back.
    • Had to then wait for the original subcontractor to have an opening, and once they got to the house we found out that the prior subcontractor had barely made specs, had vents in the wrong locations and not enough of them, and they were not big enough.  They had to tear everything out and start over.
  5.  Up next is the roof.  We were only going to have a new roof on the extension, but when the inspector was up there, he said that we were going to have to replace the existing roof in five years, so we went ahead and replaced the whole roof.  Well, the day they replaced the roof, Indiana (lovely Indiana weather) had an unexpected pop-up storm.  There was nothing our contractor could do because he worked up until it started lighting and pouring down rain, and he had to stop.  A short while after he left, it was still raining.  Mom went out into the garage, and she said that there were waterfalls pouring out of the overhead lights, the ceiling exhaust fan and the attic entrance.  Our studio was basically underwater - all of our tools, equipment and supplies were just standing in water.  Mom was totally freaking out.
  6. Finally in November - a week before Thanksgiving - mom and I moved me into the extension - all by ourselves, except for the last piece of furniture.  Our neighbors happened to drive by and as mom and I about dropped my new comfy couch into the mud. They stopped what they were doing and helped us move it.  Thank goodness for awesome neighbors. 
  7. But wait - there is even more (I am sure I am hearing groaning from the audience).  When the builders put in the water pipes they routed them through the ceiling.  We weren't worried about them leaking because they expand up to 30 times their normal size.  What we were worried about was the pipes freezing.  I actually think it was the third or fourth day in the house, the pipes froze (now is the time I burst into tears).  Found out the crew didn't put as much insulation in as they were supposed to - the builder came to the house in less than 30 minutes and added more insulation to the attic.  A few weeks later, the builder came again and added even more insulation.  He is still not happy with what is up there, so in the spring he plans on adding even more.

If you are still with us - thank you - but we have still more 2013 chaos to share.  You might want to stop and get some coffee - I will wait :)

Mom's health surprise.  Mom was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in July.  Also in July mom was told she would need double knee replacement surgery down the road.  Then in October, mom finally decided that after years of neck/shoulder/arm pain to have the neck fusion surgery (C5,6,7) and then discovered that she is no longer a candidate for the surgery.  Let me tell you, if mom wasn't swearing by now, I would do all the swearing for her.  I am sure she would learn some new words :)

At work mom has been trying to actively raise awareness of bullying in higher education among faculty and staff by writing the president of the university, human resources, and employee relations.  Many avenues were being pursed with a high personal cost to mom both emotionally and physically.  Also, mom just lost her boss to another college, and she was trying to keep the team going in the interim (new boss started in December).

And, of course, the turmoil with our small business.  Because of the flooding in the garage and damage to the tools, equipment and supplies, we were very low on inventory and it was, and still is, impossible to work in the garage.  Both mom and I are panicking!  Then unexpectedly, we were not accepted as artists in two of our best-selling juried art shows.  We had participated in them for years, and we were caught off guard.  It was a blow emotionally and financially.  Mom and I were left scrambling to figure out how to replace the loss of that potential income.

But - there is always hope!  In late November mom was searching YouTube for something (and of course she can't remember what she was looking for) and she stumbled upon a clip called "Shy Boy and his Friend Shock the Audience with The Prayer - Unbelievable".

Mom has no idea why she decided to watch the video because she usually only uses YouTube for training videos, rarely for entertainment purposes.  Mom said that Jonathan and Charlotte began to sing.  Mom was stunned by the magic created by the duo - she was totally blown away.  Mom can't remember any other music that has affected her so profoundly.  Mom said her chest seemed to swell with emotion and her mind started to slow down (mom's mind is constantly racing) allowing her to enjoy and absorb what she was hearing.

Mom said she watched the clip over and over.  Mom then asked me to download their first album "Together".  Mom has listened to the whole album every day since I downloaded it for her.  You can see more of Jonathan and Charlotte by going to their site or their Facebook page.

Mom still can't understand why she loves the album so much, because some of the songs are in Italian and she doesn't even know what is being said.  The only way mom can explain why she loves their music is because they epitomize hope!

Everything in the last year has been dragging both mom and I down.  Both of us, I think, had given up on hoping for something better.

Mom says that Jonathan and Charlotte gave her a gift - every time that she listens to their album (I have mom and the waiting list for their new album) - mom is reminded of that gift and is thankful.

So - that is how we (I should say mom) came up with our piece for the Challenge of Music.  Mom drew up two pendants (one for her and one for me).  I sawed out the exterior of the pendants and mom sawed out the interior.  We then filed and sanded the pendants, and then I enameled them.  Mom wanted her "Hope" pendant in red.

I enameled my pendant in black, purples and pinks and if you go here you can see what I based my colors on.  I still have to make beads to go with the pendant and then I will assemble it at a later date.

The beads mom used were some of our red "Sugar" beads, fresh water pearls, and red Czech beads.  We then finished the piece off with a Sterling Silver toggle clasp.

If you made it to the end of this long-winded saga, you are a real trooper!

Mom and I want to thank Miss Erin for the wonderful challenges she provides everyone to participate in.  The challenges are always fun and exciting.

I am going to try using the InLinkz tool.  If it doesn't work, please go to Erin's blog to see a list of everyone who is participating in the Challenge of Music.

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