Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So I mentioned I had a couple of books I wanted to review and today is that day.  It's not often I buy books about beading because I'm a sponge and I fear accidentally regurgitating someone else's design but as I am about to venture into some bead embroidery I thought I'd better get a good reference book.
And that is exactly what Jamie Cloud Eakin's "Dimensional Bead Embroidery" is....a wonderful book for those starting out with bead embroidery.

Jamie gives you lots of information about materials and she includes some inexpensive ones I would never have thought of.  I would definitely class this as a must have book for the beginner to intermediate bead embroiderer.
Click on the book to buy :)

The other book I bought was to replace my embroidery book that fell apart due to over use :) This one, "Stitch-opedia" by Helen Winthorpe Kendrick, is a definite upgrade from my old one.  Helen covers most  types of embroidery from cross-stitch to stumpwork and is a great reference guide for embroidery stitches.  There are many styles of embroidery that can be adapted to beading and as soon as I have time I plan on experimenting with them all :)

This book is spiral bound which I think is a brilliant idea for any kind of craft book. If you're a zentangler and want to take it to the next level....embroidery would be the way to go....with bead or without :)
Again clicking on the book will take you to Amazon where this book is on sale for about 50% of what I paid...run!

The next book I'm looking for.....a good book on 'Trapunto' which has always fascinated me. For those of you who don't know what it is....trapunto is a quilting technique where you stuff certain areas of the quilting to create a more dimensional piece.  It is covered just slightly in "Stitch-opedia" but I'm greedy for knowledge so I want more :)  If anyone knows of a good 'Trapunto' book let me know.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pineapple Salsa

So.....more work on the Pineapple bead lace....the second draft addressed many of the issues and only required a little tweaking...though I'm not 100% on the connections.  This single motif would make for a great earring...and that's why the title of this blog post is "Pineapple Salsa", it seemed like a great name for the earrings :)

The photo is crap, had a hard time getting a non-glare shot this morning but maybe that's a good thing (given there are people who count beads to avoid paying for a pattern).
The center bead is a black and bronze three-facet round...it was all I had that matched the little bronze fire-polished and plain black was just too flat. I  really like a black/bronze combination....possibly my favorite classic mix.

The more I work on this the more design possibilities I see.  In fact, the five section ring I was working on (and having trouble with) may turn into a ring version.  There's something about black lace, the way it was worn to hide and highlight, that is just so sexy and yet demure.
It will definitely be fun seeing where this goes.

I woke this morning to a bunch of orders for the Urchin Wings Pendant Mirror/Brooch which made me happy, as I always worry something won't be a seller.  And the sales pushed me over my monthly goal in my store so there will be a $50 gift certificate raffled off at the end of the month....if you bought/buy from my Artfire store this month you are automatically entered....one ticket for each day you shopped :)

And this tutorial does include MY instructions for the Gothic Butterfly bracelet that was featured in Beadwork Magazine.

Today will see me taking Mom shopping, doing some packing, dropping things at Goodwill and after all that there should be time for beading.

I have a couple of books I want to do a review on....Jamie Cloud Eakin's "Dimensional Bead Embroidery" and Helen Winthorpe Kendrick's "Stitch-opedia" which is a book about all kinds of embroidery. I bought "Stitch-opedia" because my previous book on embroidery stitches fell apart after years of use and this is a definite upgrade.  So watch for these reviews...I hope to get them done sometime this week :)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Growing Pineapples

It's been a rough week, one of those where you see your time and your sanity circling the drain to disappear forever.  But after sleepless nights spent trying to figure it out and endless days spent explaining and discussing I think my feet are finding marshy ground again....not solid ground, I've learned not to be so trusting and that's it's better to sleep with one eye open.
After two false starts to a personal day I finally managed it yesterday and by the evening I was actually fit to bead.

One of the things that I found relaxed me was drafting a bead lace pattern, this time one of my favorite crochet patterns, Pineapple Lace, and Wednesday night I did just that. The thing about bead lace is you have to draft the pattern first, then try it out, see the issues, make changes to the draft and try it again. Repeat as needed.
This is the first draft I did Wednesday night....I do the beads to scale thinking that will make it work...lol...not necessarily!  But you can see the progression and the possibilities and it all looks pretty enough but the test is if it works and where the heck you do the thread path.

Here you can see the testing process with a couple of scrapped false starts (there were more!)  What looks good on paper will not always work in beads and adjustments and compromises have to be made.

Last night saw me changing the draft with what I had learned (more beads here, less beads there, change the connection completely) but progress was made and I can see this being very pretty when I have it done.  And it has so many possibilities. I love lace :)

I'm hoping to get back to business today and edit the Urchin Wings tutorial that has been sitting on my desk since Tuesday. Fortunately I tested it as I went so once edits are done I can actually list it....hopefully later today.
Then I can feel good about getting back to beading this lace.

Hope everyone has a great weekend :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Behind Schedule

The vacuum cleaner of time, fun, positivity and hope that is my family struck again losing me an entire day of work and sending me into depression.
I realise there is a pattern to this, every time work is going well and I'm happy my family comes up with something to knock the stuffing out of me.
I can hear the words of my therapist from years ago telling me this is what I should expect from them and the only defense is distance....and the word "no".

I decided this year my new response to this crap is to immediately put myself at the top of my list and any demands/needs of said family at the bottom. I'm basically on strike as far as my family is concerned.  

So...I'm tucked away in my studio working on the Urchin Wings: Peacock Mirror Pendant/Brooch....slower than normal but getting there.  All the illustrations are done....and redone (note to self: do not illustrate when upset), and today I'm writing the words.  

Yesterday I had two deliveries, one, a pack of beads and the other the rolling case with 18 full size jewelry trays...finally somewhere to store all the finished samples for my designs and not just little jewelry boxes scattered everywhere.  Not to mention they will all be packed and ready to go if I ever get out of here.

And I will get out of here....come hell or high water!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finally...Fourth time's a charm....right?

So this is the part that had been giving me the issues...I was trying to create something totally with beads that would be a strong base for the pin back needed to make this into a brooch.  After three attempts I decided I needed a base to work on and ran to the store to buy it.
What was it? A 26c washer!

Problem fixed and I was able to set the pins in my favorite way so they look totally neat and clean :)

Now I just need to attach it in the same manner as I did the mirror.
Now I'm a happy Mikki :)

Of course...while I was at Michaels picking up the pin backs I spotted this: 

Yup! A big bag of shell bits. Apparently my muse thinks there's a project for these that would make a great class. I have to admit....it's something I think I'm asked about the most and I could see it being a very popular class.  So this is on the 'To Do' list for class submissions which I really need to start working on!  Yep...another of those secretive things, can't give the ideas away before I've proved they are mine :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I made good progress on the Urchin Wings: Peacock Mirror Pendant/Brooch yesterday getting most of the illustrations done. And last night the third attempt at the support for the scarf slider and pin back gave me what I was looking for, so I should be able to get that illustrated today.  Then I have to tackle the illustrations for actually putting all the components together....that's the not so easy part.

I'd like to have all the illustrations complete today as tomorrow I need to go get my car serviced for the trip to Vegas which I'm hoping to do on Thursday. So just having the words to write tomorrow would be perfect :)

The secret project I'm working on made me get innovative as I had to come up with a temporary support to reach the desired effect.  I was very relieved when the thing didn't collapse on me when the support was removed and I think it's a valuable tool for those times when something is tricky.  Definitely a good tip that might be useful even when you're not working on something quite as big as I am right now.
Of course I'm having lots of 'spin-off' ideas with this project some of them are actual 'spinning' ideas :)

Enough with the mystery...it's hard not to tell you what I'm doing but I'd rather have it be a surprise and not get my idea stolen before I've brought it into fruition.

A lot of my ideas lately are not for jewelry and it's interesting to see where seed beads can go. Many ideas for wall art and sculpture.  Who I am as a beader seems to be morphing and the direction I thought I was heading in six months ago doesn't seem right for me now.  I had thought that once I moved I would be teaching every week up and down CA but I'm now feeling that teaching just a few times a year will allow me to take my beading into the direction it seems to want to go.   My roots are in art, painting and sculpture so I guess it's no surprise that the beads want to go there too.  The tricky part will be balancing it all no doubt :)  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday is a day of relaxation....right?
I wish!
I've already been reminded of what needs to be done, before I'd even had my caffeine fix...sheesh!   My entire body aches from all the heavy lifting I did yesterday and Firday but... it's progress.
I think all the major stuff is done now and much as I loved my Dad I've shaken my fist in his direction many a time while cleaning his spaces. My Dad was a hoarder....fortunately Mom is the opposite so I've only had to deal with Dad's areas....the loft, the garage and his work shed.  I honestly don't know how people deal with hoarders who have run of a house too.  I should take a load of stuff to storage today but the way my back feels I'm hoping Mom lets me off the hook, and I really don't feel like climbing the ladders to do what she wants done next.  Taking her shopping is enough for today!

I did manage to get some beading done last night so I just have the scarf slide and brooch back to do on the Gothic Urchin Pendant/Brooch.  I'd like to finish it today so I can get back to writing the pattern tomorrow.  I'm definitely happy with the construction simplifications I've made....even if illustrating them isn't going to be easy.

Now....here's a little tease....what will I be doing with these?
Videos? Books? Playing frisbee? 

As Wanda didn't come forward to claim her prize in my Milestone Giveaway I pulled another ticket this morning....
and....the winner is 
Releases by RoofyDoof
So...Karyn, if you would contact me with your e-mail there will be a $25 gift certificate for you, congratulations!

Keep the blog comments coming and spread the word about the benefits of following my blog :) Because we're on the downhill track to 400 followers and another Milestone Giveaway.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Slowly but Surely

It's the weekend and these days that means it starts on Friday and instead of being time to relax it's busy, busy packing and cleaning.
Yesterday I tackled my studio closet....the bad thing about be organized is you can pack a LOT of junk into a closet if you just arrange it neatly :)
Bags and bags of garbage, did I really need a ream of every color paper? Hundreds of those magnetic bingo chips...it was a project....are now headed for Goodwill.  And I found my missing crochet books :)

Last night I broke down and ordered myself one of those jewelry carts for all my finished pieces/samples.  I figure if I have to pack them up it may as well be for the last time...they'll be in their home ready to travel to shows :) My goal is to pack all my studio things in rolling carts/drawers so I don't lose time unpacking when I reach my new home.  Those little carts that fold flat are great for this and I figure two will hold all my boxes of beads.  The beads will be the last thing I pack and when I get to packing them it will mean we are moving the next day :)  SO looking forward to that.

I still haven't heard about the submission dates for BABE classes, I'm thinking I'll do the project anyway because I'm sure it will be a popular class around Christmastime.....so next week will include a trip to Vegas for supplies that match perfectly.

With the busy weekend I'm not going to have the tutorial for the Urchin Wings: Peacock Mirror Pendant/Brooch done because I'm only this far on the second sample.
The reason is, besides all the packing/cleaning, I am trying to simplify the construction. The components are very easy but putting it together is where the skill comes in.  I believe I have it as simple as it's going to get and have the tricky needle moves down to a minimum :)  If you think it looks like a flower at this point....I agree, and you could always stop at this point.
The next step is adding the rivolis between the petals and then I have to devise the scarf slide/brooch back. I'm hoping the technique I used for the Spiral Star will work for this one too....it's so nice and clean.
I will have the tutorial finished and in my store by Friday barring any unforeseen disasters.

I got a cool surprise yesterday, a gift certificate from Fusion Beads for naming them as my supplier for the Gothic Butterfly in Beadwork magazine. It's always nice to be acknowledged in that way.  Bead shopping!

Sales in my store are looking good this month and just went over the half-way mark to my goal which means....if it keeps up there will be a $50 gift certificate up for grabs. You qualify for a chance to win that GC when you shop at my store ....each day you shop in February gets you a ticket.

And keep commenting on my blog....all comments between the last giveaway and when I reach 400 followers will get you a ticket in the Milestone Giveaway.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Got My Socks Blown Off!

So...last night I put photos of my latest creation on Facebook, had a few really nice comments and then I went to bed feeling good about a productive day.
I wake up this morning with an inbox overflowing with amazing compliments and over 30 friend requests!!!!  Not to mention a few sales :)
My socks were across the room!
Thank you for all the encouraging words...nothing better than a design getting a great reception :)

So here are the photos of my Urchin Wings: Peacock Mirror Pendant

The mirror works really well and seems like it was meant to be.

I'll be making a second one that has a buckle type element on the back along with a brooch pin.  The buckle is to slide a scarf through as Mom and I think this will be a great scarf pin and we don't want to make holes in those pretty scarves, now do we?  :)   As it happens the only complete set of rivolis I have in stock are jet black....which means if will be a little Gothic....and as many of you know, that's my style and I am delighted with this happy coincidink, I'll take any excuse to make something Gothic :)

I am also itching to make this little evening bag but I need to save that till the weekend...plus I need to go hunting for components for the larger size retro bag.  And we don't even want to mention the third design Morganna has come up with which mixes the modern with the retro.

I so need to clone myself!  Somehow I think Morganna was slated to be the muse of quintets and the paperwork got screwed up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meddling Muses

So, just a few days late I stocked my store with the Lace Cufflette tutorial...big tutorial. That might be the biggest single design tutorial I have done but I'm happy with it as I think anyone with a basic understanding of bead weaving will be able to make it.

Ah....why the title? You ask.
Morganna is meddling with my schedule again, it's not enough that she's got me forking off to do some bead embroidery now she's giving me designs for the home....art pieces, if you will.   It's not entirely her fault, I guess, I have been saying I hope to do a gallery show when we have moved back to Fresno, she's just trying to help.  And the art pieces, well, I'm happy to sketch them and make notes so I can come back to them.
However....then she throws at me THE most brilliant idea for an evening bag using my corrugated peyote....not just brilliant, but the kind of thing that a photo of it is likely to go viral.  Oh...and she wants me to make TWO!

So, I'm scrambling to find the time.

Last night I got quite the surprise when working on the Urchin Wing pendant....Morganna surprised me by showing me how my design is actually based on peacock feathers.   What gets me is how she looks at my supplies and finds exactly what she needs.   Now there is some discussion (no I am not talking to myself...well, maybe) as to whether I add an optional mirror to the back of the pendant....useful little thing if you need to check your lipstick and there's a line to the restroom :)

Of course this will also make a fabulous brooch, minus the mirror, of course. So, I am going to add instructions for how to add a pin-back.
This tutorial will also include the original Urchin Wings (Gothic Butterfly) bracelet pattern with a few more illustrations than were in Beadwork Magazine.

I start the illustrations today and if I can get everything done in the next three days it will be in my store Friday :)

Then....I plan on spending my weekend evenings making that brilliant little evening bag....it's a simple enough design, lots of beading but I am 
SO excited about it :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

And the Winner is........

The winner of my Milestone Giveaway is a ticket from a blog post


Congratulations Annalie, let me know your choice of prize and where to send it....e-mail address for the gift certificate, physical address for the jewelry.

I also pulled two more tickets :)
And I will be sending $25 Gift Certificates to the following people 

Tia Dalma
Wanda (the first Wanda who commented on my blog)

If you ladies would send me your e-mail address I'll get your gift certificates out to you :)

Now if you didn't win this time.....here's the deal:
When I reach 400 followers there will be a $40 gift certificate just for people who comment on my blog between now and then, commenting on a post gets you a ticket...so you have multiple chances to win, one ticket per blog post...(so if you comment more than once on one post you still just get one ticket).

When I reach 500 there will be a $50 GC.....same rules.
I'll increase the prize $10 per extra 100 followers until I have 1000, then it will be $100 for every 100 over 1000.

For my store:
As this is my livelihood my sales pay my bills and I have to make a certain amount each month to keep the bill collectors away :)
So....whenever I reach my sales goal for the month I will give a $50 Gift Certificate to someone who helped me reach that goal....so each time you shop (different days) you will get a ticket to win.

When I feel I'm winning I want to share :)

Ok...so now to the not so great news.
Some of you will know I had a hell week with my internet.
Apparently an upgrade was released for my access manager and it corrupted my modem. I had been thinking all the solar flares were messing with my connection but no....my modem was dying.
I figure I lost about 30 hours to fixing the problem, talked to 6 phone support people....for about 5 hours total, 7 visits to the store ....totaling about 10 hours, and all the stress made me too tired to work when I wasn't talking on the phone (something, if you know me... I hate) or running around to the store twice a day.  So....I am about two days behind with work...still beading the project I'm scheduled to write the tutorial for this week and I still have about 5 pages to write for the Lace Cufflette which was scheduled for release last Friday :(

Still....my new mobile hotspot is working fine now and I definitely owe thanks to Jeremy Brooks at the Verizon store in St George, UT for going to bat for me when other members of staff were rolling their eyes, obviously willing me out of the store and were totally unsympathetic to my situation....which was caused by their technical people.  Jeremy is one of the good guys who believe in doing the right thing and convinced his managers to do the same.
So...if you need anything Verizon in St George....Jeremy is your guy!

Now, hopefully, we will return to normal programming :)
Have a great Sunday people!