Thursday, July 02, 2015

Seed beads

I really like beads. I've tried out just about every kind of bead making: handmade glass, paper, fabric, clay, rose petals, resin, gemstone and of course metal. I also collect all kinds of beads, except one, seed beads. I mean, I have a bunch of them, but I only ever use them as accents or a few embroidered on fabric. I never got bit by that bug that you see other ladies dealing with at shows, eyes focused with laser intensity, carefully selecting piles of tubes of sparkly color, searching for that perfect shade. I love the colors, but the idea of putting hours into a project made from thread seemed strange. I had been given a beaded glass ornament early on and a thread had caught on a hook and made a terrible tangle, ruining the piece. I suppose that fragility had stuck in my mind, because I never so much as glanced at a seeded beaded anything. Then, a few months ago, my friend Emily Miller showed me a necklace she was working on made from nylon string and metal beads. I remarked how fragile it was and she told me I could try and break a piece of the thread. I couldn't, so was intrigued enough to try it. Now, I'm hooked. I've made loads of the crocheted stitched necklaces and have a few spools ready to go in my bag at all times. Of course, I had to try dyeing my own colors of thread! I really like that the thread is part of the design, rather than just the unseen base.
Emily showed me how to crochet a rope, but it was a little too intimidating a project for the moment. That is until a couple days ago, when I decided I wanted to try it. I fiddled with it for several hours, having zero luck. I looked at videos, but most of them just confused me. I stumbled on Beadaholiques video and then I got it. Now I need to find more antique seed beads in that greasy opaly color I like so much ( since those were dug out of heaping piles of beads at the African Village in Tucson)! I'm really enjoying using these beads and can't wait to start designing clasp and pendant components. After I search for more beads, since I clearly don't have enough.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

New treasures

Every bead show I enjoy collecting a few more items to add to my mountainous horde of beady goodness. The Bead and Button Show is one of my favorites, as it gathers so many amazing artists and vendors in one spot. 
Let's start with my most favorite, Anne Choi, (top left, 3 silver beads) an artist whose work I coveted since I first saw her large mandrake bead in Metal Smith magazine nearly 20 years ago. We met at a show in Atlanta ( in an unaircondioned horse barn) after I mailed her a request form cut from her catalog. I remember how hard I stared at that booklet, trying to decide which beads I should get. Both of us were surprised by the other ( she pictured me as a mature artist, not a half Asian gal that looked fourteen and I didn't expect her to be as tall and southern) anyway, we've been friends ever since. The beads I found at the show were some that I've wanted for awhile, but were always sold out: the cube with various weather conditions, the ouroboros cylinder and a tiny with an eye, heart and u carved into it. They will look delightful with the others. 

Next, the little blue beaded bead is from Onye ( The three glass beads that look like alien fruit are made by Karen Elmquist. The cool bumpy bangle made from glass is from Trinket Foundry. The neat stacked and carved wooden drop pendants are from Banyan Bay Studios. The cornflake pearls are from Ta Pearls. The stones (ametrine crystals, drilled scapiolite crystals and opal nuggets) are from various gem dealers. The glass discs, eye beads, dark dichroic and tooth bead are from the delightful Maureen Henriques. I'm not sure what I'll do with the tooth and eye pieces ( probably put them in a little apothecary jar) but the discs are for wire wrapping to copper hairpins. The lovely blue and gold polymer bead was made by Erin Prais-Hintz ( I think it would look great on a hairpin as well). The ancient Roman glass pendants are from The bead goes on ( I think!). The little ceramic houses, which I adore, are from an artist whose name completely escapes me. I just love my new beads! I'm hoping to have time to make some new jewels, but in the mean time, I'm going to leave them displayed on my gem table, so I can admire them all day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


After my last post about not wanting to do Tucson next year, I received a bunch of messages about 'hanging in there, it's just the economy, it's the weather, etc.'. I realized that I may have given the impression that we tanked at the show and that was why we didn't want to do it.
The reason we don't want to do the show is that it is too long. We made money the first four days, then it was dead, with only vendors walking around. Thankfully, we did really good those first few days, so technically the show wasn't bad. 

But here's the problem for us, when one of us leaves, it's really hard to keep up with orders, since we have two kids and no family around to help. This year, we had a huge increase in orders, both of us itching to get to work, but neither Greg nor myself able to jump back in till I got home  almost a week later - it was just really hard not to feel exasperated. 

So, if you were concerned that Green Girl Studios was in a bad way, don't be, we are doing great. In fact, we are so busy, that I haven't had a lot of time to focus on the whimsical things that bring me such joy. Although, I did make a little string doll with the kids. His name is Trouble and he's a little mischief maker. I used cotton thread I dyed last summer and really nice wool felt. I'm longing to make an army of dolls.
Anyway, we will be going back to the To Bead True Blue Show. We are thinking about alternatives, like doing workshops, and having a small show of handpicked vendors. This has been a dream of ours for years, so hopefully by the time we get to Tucson this spring, we will have something special planned for 2017.

Coming together

Last week, my brother Andrew and his partner William came down from PA for a visit to Asheville! Yay! We always have so much fun. The kids couldn't wait for them to arrive, Max thought they'd love to play with his 'pet' caterpillars (he finds them and puts them in a big planter on the porch).
My boy is so sweet. I'm going to shirk my duties and cuddle him. 
Here's Max attempting to pull up Andrew onto a rocky path at the botanical garden.  We found some really beautifully shaped flowers for reference.
We found an amazing path up to a succession of waterfalls and had trying time wrangling the kids. They kept leaping and jumping in such a way that frayed my nerves. Like in this picture, the rocks are slick and that ruin looked like it was filled with creatures.
Someone made this installation of origami butterflies, so of course we had to have the kids pose. I made Andrew hold still.
I love how the picture came out!
There were waterfalls all along the path and this one was near the end. It's hard to capture just how high this is! It might've been 50ft? I wasn't about to scramble to the top, I'm nowhere near as nimble as I once was! I couldn't bear the idea of bustin my hind end and carrying a doughnut cushion.
Don't the kids look super cute dressed up for the Fairy Festival? Max is wearing my painting cap. Yes, I have painting outfits, doesn't everyone?

We had such a great time, I kept annoying Andrew and William with pleas to live in Asheville, or at least pinky promise that we would all move to Hawaii to be together. We got a lot of work done, namely packing our classes for Bead and Button and making some really fun little collaboration paintings. Of course, we didn't touch all the things planned! It was only like 40 items or so.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Thoughts on Tucson 2015

Somewhere over NC in the early morning.

Hey everyone! I've been home for about five days now ( most of that time laid out with some virus that sapped my life force).  I have a few thoughts I'd like to share. The first is that I've heard that it's sliding downhill and fast by more than a few vendors and I've heard a lot of the various ideas on why:
1. It's too long. Many of the shows are 9-14 days long.
2. People just aren't coming. Travel is too expensive.
3. The stock market. The big buyers don't have that disposable income anymore.
4. Too many shows, too many choices, the pie is being broken into too many pieces. 
Ok, I don't know which is the most true answer, but it's definetly not what it used to be. In the best days, the shows were short and sweet, there were loads of parties (we used to throw them ourselves) and the shows were packed with people from all over the world. It was  always a crazy time of year, one that everyone looked forward to, mainly because all the money that could be made, but also since it was like a worldwide bead buddy reunion. It was a point where FB friends would finally meet, where long time board friends could catch up and where you'd get a drink with those folks from Austria, because everyone went to Tucson in February. 

This year, it was quiet. It felt a bit worn at the edges, a little bedraggled. Of course, I might have just described myself by day three! This year, To Bead True Blue lasted nine days. I have no idea why, my guess is to sell hotel rooms, but anyway, by day five I was ready to leave and go shopping. 
These specimens are huge! That ammonite in the middle was bigger than a hubcap. I can't get enough of sparkly minerals. I remember one time when I was into carving rocks, I had Andrew help me haul rough stones and he brought a backpack and we stuffed it full to bursting, so he walked around like a hunchback. Man, I did get some super nice labradorite gems that time. 
A nice selfie of me and Diane. If I didn't have her with me, I'd have laid down and died. Math! Customers! At the same time! Ack! Ok, it isn't well known, or maybe it is, I'm not much of a 'customer service' person. It's not that I hate to sell, it's just that sometimes I'm not overly fearful of discussions at the table. Meaning I talk a lot and stand around looking at what folks bought in the other room, maybe start showing a new beading technique I discovered....and pretty soon it's a sewing circle behind the booth. It's fairly common for folks to have their 'piles' and eventually they get checked out. If I have Diane, I can talk all I want and she takes the money! It's brilliant. Let's just say when she left on day five, was a hard day for me. 
One of my hauls from African Villiage! Why yes, I am into antique seed beads, can you tell from this picture? Also not afraid of the hand woven indigo dyed shawls ( I have plans for those.....). 
To wrap this up, I won't be returning to The To Bead True Blue Show next year. It's too long. Nine days? Even six is stretching it. My tolerance is 4, maybe 5 days if I have buddies. We did ok, as far money, but that is a long time to stand around, me missing the kids, thinking about all my projects piling up. I would rather just go to shop, but that's for the future. 

I love going to Tucson. I really do. But for us, a lot of the reason (aside from cash) for going is making connections, meeting our favorite customers, seeing old friends and of course, making new ones. I mean, if it were just about money, we'd make more by staying home, since then I couldn't go shopping! 

Anyway, I'm dreaming of the way Tucson used to be. I have an idea, but I think I'll wait a bit before sharing. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Root babies

Small sculptures of root babies, the top one in resin, the bottom carved in clay and encased in clear resin ( with the help of my brother Andrew, who took the time to sand the heck out of it and wire wrap it).
Ever since I was kid, I've had a fascination with roots and growing things. The tangled shapes of tree roots, sheltering pearlescent mushrooms and bright lichen can hold my attention longer than many things. It all started with my grandma, a sassy country woman with more energy than ten kids. One evening, while we were walking back from the lake, I spotted a tree with great big bulbous growth protruding from its side, as large as a watermelon. I asked my grandma what caused it and she took a moment, studying the shape, then said, 'Why that tree's gonna have babies! There are little babies in that bulge, waiting to pop out and find a nice place of its own, then grow into something purdy'. I believed her. I imagined what the babies would look like, probably like cute potatoes, all fat and sweet faced. Maybe pale green, with tiny leaf buds and smelling of earth and dew. 
Decades later, I'm still facinated by that image. Now, I realize my grandma probably had no idea what made the huge bulge in the tree, but rather than give us a short answer, she told us a tale that had us speculating for years. Later, when I told my dad (a guy that frequently named trees by their Latin name) what was in tree knots, he just smiled and asked if learned that from grandma. I guess he heard that story too. 
It's interesting to me as an adult, what ideas have contributed to my visual vocabulary as an artist. There are things that I loved as a child, that I still love, but with more informed eyes, I suppose. It leads me to questions of what I'll be making in the next twenty years, of what stories my children will keep and what they'll discard. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tiny doll

Hi! This little lovely has been in the works for months. She's 1/12 th scale, or dollhouse size cast in cold porcelain (resin infused with porcelain). I made a doll in wax a year ago and discovered that I couldn't mold it in the traditional way, since everything I tried to build the mold walls with reacted with the wax. So Greg cast the parts in bronze and I'm working out how to attach them. Anyway, after all that annoyance I decided to just do it over. It took a couple of weeks to sculpt all the pieces, then another month of dawdling over the molds, then a week of casting loads of parts. I haven't perfected the process, I still get lots of air bubbles. Now I have one doll! Yay! 

After stringing her, I found a few problems in the joints, so I'll have to repair them and remold. I'm going to make more heads and torsos so I can change them around and get a variety of figures. I really like sculpting the faces. This one looks like Kate Moss, to me. Or a Botticelli face. I was thinking of Waterhouse when I was making her wig and painting her face- she reminded me of that painting of Ophelia floating in the water, with all the flowers around her. 
I am very happy with her and can't wait till after Tucson when I can work on her till perfection! It's going to be doll heaven when I get home. I'm already making lists of things I'm going to make and it's all going to be fun. Except cleaning my studio. That won't be fun at all. 
Isn't she so cute? I love all the dolls in hand photos on Flickr! Now I can add mine! Or, rather Azalea's, since I gave this to her for Christmas. She was pleased. This doll is going into our dollhouse for magical creatures. I have to make a mermaid in a rolling tub next. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in Wool

Hi! Guess what I've been up to? Preparing for Tucson? Yes, of course, but also a few side projects I've long had on the back burner. I'm what you'd call a 'craftaholic' and love nothing more than holing up in my studio, with several beverages, my crew of assistants (Max and Azalea) and a good chunk of time. I decided that I was going to do some felting while visiting my family in FL and brought all the wool I could stuff into a tote bag. The bright orange pearlscale goldfish (Popo) pictured above was made partially on the way down, with a foam mat on my lap and wool everywhere. I embroidered the details, but I think I'll pick out the eye stitches when my glass eyes arrive. My stitches need work.
This little hand puppet of a root baby was made by wet felting around a form cut from foam. The leaves were cut out from felt sheets and sewed down. The tiny lichens were embroidered with French knots. The eyes are brass studs.
This is another felt portrait of one of my favorite fish, Hiro, a Kirin Ranchu goldfish. He's finished, except for needing glass eyes. 
I've been totally bewitched by all the fabric renditions of moths on Pinterest, so I thought I'd try my hand at making a pin version. Let me just say, embroidery skills are a must. Mine are not great, so I got pretty frustrated when my 'thread painting ' stitches looked bulgy and amateurish. Of course I picked those out, leaving the better ones. I just need to watch some videos on Craftsy and practice. 

Practice - it's one of those words you hear a lot, but is it just me, or is it hard to find the time to actually do it? I get a weird sensation of guilt when I fiddle around with making things that aren't going to make money. I can barely justify practicing yoga, let alone crafts that are just enjoyable! I think it's the hardest part of being an artist/self employed- taking time for fun. I happen to really love what i do, so it's easy to work from the moment I rise to finally calling it a night (morning). Anyway, it felt really good to just create what I wanted for almost a week, without considering how much it would cost, or if someone would buy it. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

West coast

Hey there!  I just returned from a fantastic trip out west for a couple of shows. The first was Designer Con in Pasadena, a show focusing on artist prints, sculptural toys and apparel. It was a lot of fun to showcase our goods to a new crowd and meet loads of artists. The mermaids I carved and cast received a lot of attention, but it was my paper dolls that were a hit. I think I'll do it again, maybe. Doing shows is out of my comfort zone. After the show, Jess and I drove up the coast to meet some friends at The Sycamore Spa in San Luis Obispo to enjoy the hot springs. We got a room with a tub and pretty much stayed in the water the whole time. I think that water is magical, since I went in with a variety of aches and pains and came out feeling like a kid. I wish I had that water in house.

Whenever I'm in SF, Jess takes me all over the city to sample the local food. This is my favorite part. The food is so good, every time I think about it I have to take a moment to relish the memory. Anyway, here's a picture of some amazing doughnuts from Johnny's. They were so delicious, it was hard to stop at one. I mean two.

The Conservatory of Flowers was having an exhibit of aquascapes ( which were really hard to photograph!) but it was the collection of carnivorous plants that amazed me. Not only was the collection varied, but many were huge! I couldn't believe the size of some of those pods! The ones in the picture are easily bigger than my face, which impressed me because I couldn't grow them larger than a few inches. Anyway, it was marvelous. 
Between jaunts around town, I worked on some projects for Jess's pop up store in the Mission that will be opening near the first of December and will stay open till the end of January. The store, Elton Jeremiah, will feature vintage finds, handcrafted jewelry and also hand painted vintage bags. They were so fun to paint, I've been looking around for a bag maker to make me some blanks.
I'll post more info on the opening as it gets closer. 

Friday, November 14, 2014