Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Day After Christmas.....

Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the house
Paper and boxes were strewn through the house;
The family was lounging on couches and chairs,
Thankful the Fat Man showed up with such flair.
The children were surrounded by new gizmos and toys
And in every room all you could hear was their noise.

Mamma in her snuggie and dad in his jammies
Had just settled in for TV programmies
The weather outside was blowing and cold,
And the clouds blocked the sun just like Christmas’ of old.
No one moved, we all lounged and we snacked
On the goodies left from yesterday’s feast.
When suddenly on the front porch what did we hear
But Unkin Brian who had driven back here.
We yelled “Come on in!” and got up from our stupor
Grandma and Grandpa Wagner thought “Isn’t this super!”
Then later that evening according to agenda
Yvonne arrived in her Honda from far off Indiana.

The TV was tuned to the big football game
The men were all drawn to watch as moths to the flame.
The kids went to work and the little boy griped
"I just puked my hands and face need to be wiped!"
The women were bored and wondered just how long
The men would be mesmerized by the athletes’ song.

As a sick pitiful child makes a petulant plea
The male parent leaps to resolve it immediately.
So out to the pickup went Grandma and he,
Started up the great beast and rolled out as the child laughed, "Tee hee".
They went out for some orange juice and who knows what else
They’ll come back when they’ve cleaned off the grocery shelf.

So now here I am sitting at this PC today
Shall I figure out my new iPad, laptop or just play?
Instead I am writing all this droll doggerel
So I can post it with pictures on my blog, can’t you tell?
Enough is enough, I have beading to do!
So Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year too!

Here is our tree Christmas Eve day
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

This is the Christmas aftermath....

Here Kaleb is recovering from all the excitement and is still sick!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 time for beading!

Okay, so for the last two days I've been busy with other things that you really don't want to know about.  It might be funny if I told you, but only if you "know" me.  So let's just say I've been busy. 
Now on to what I can tell you about...

I had an appointment on my calendar for Monday, I was supposed to be in Clarkston at the Independence Township Public Library.  Clarkston is about a 45 minute drive North from my house in Sterling Heights.  Which is in lovely, wait 15 minutes and the weather will change, MICHIGAN!  Yes, I said Clarkston and you know that here in Michigan we all have to drive our cars, no mass transit system, no TRAIN to Clarkston, first middle or last.  So since we had freezing rain and lots of lovely snow Sunday night, Monday morning the roads were a mess.  Our schools were closed, the whole Metro area was an ice skating rink.  My beloved DH text (or is it texted) me at 8AM and told me to stay home.  Who am I to question the authority of my husband, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.  For about 5 minutes!  Remember that appointment?  Well, there was another component of  that appointment that I needed to address pronto! 

I am the Exhibits Chair for the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild and I have voluntarily scheduled back to back exhibits all over the Detroit Metro area for the next three months straight. Yikes, what was I thinking?  Over achiever...nope maniac! And the Board recently executed a plan to steal away my wonderful Co-Chair and I now have to rely on "volunteer" volunteer help.  (get it?) Don't misunderstand, I have a couple of helpers on the hook already, Valerie G. and Judy D. who are fabulous.  But I had known for weeks they weren't available for this gig.  This is a job that one person CAN do, but it is oh so much more pleasant and much more convenient with TWO people.  Time got away from me and I hadn't recruited another helper.   In desperation I hatched a scheme to call one of my fellow Guild members and beg for a solid.  I would resort to bribery if need be!  So I checked the membership roster for beaders I know in the Clarkston area and I rang up my friend Diane Grecu!  Low and behold she was not only available but she was also willing to come give me a hand.  (heh heh, beaders!)  Hey I love that about beaders, we all seem to be such giving people!  So now, dag nab it I had to get up and call Diane to let her know it wasn't going to happen that morning after all. (my friends know that I really prefer to hug my pillow until at least 9 when I can)  Long story short, it all worked out and we made plans to meet at the Library on Tuesday. 

Diane and I had a lovely afternoon installing the GLBG Exhibit collection into the display case in the Independence Township Public Library.  The library requested a Christmas decoration theme.  The Exhibit collection consists primarily of items loaned to me from the membership and sadly I only had a couple of pieces that could pass as Christmas ornaments.  Undaunted, I displayed all our lovely work and then suspended beaded snowflakes from the top grid of the case.  It was surprisingly lovely.  When we were all done, Diane and I looked at each other with great satisfaction and pleasure.  Several library patrons and staff members had already given us glowing reviews!  Diane and I decided that if we didn't have actual beading time, spending time with a beady friend displaying beadwork was almost as good.  It is very gratifying to share our work, something from which we derive so much pleasure (and frustration), with the community around us!  It is always fun to hear their comments (you gotta have good eyes to do that) and answer their questions (where do you come up with these ideas?).  Diane was surprised at how much work goes into the Exhibit process, but she also told me that she enjoyed it.  Thank you Diane, for giving your time.  I really appreciated your company and your help!  There are more pictures on my FB page.  Click here

If you live in the Clarkston, Michigan area, please be sure and stop by to see the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild's beadwork on display.   If you would like to know more about the guild....
January 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm I will be giving a presentation about the Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild in the Independence Township Public Library community room!
Please come, bring along your latest projects, we will have beadwork show and tell after the presentation!

Oh my, I still have some newsletter articles to write....sigh ....still no time for beading!
See you in the funny papers!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The First Challenge! Infinity Dodecahedron & Donut

Okay Wow! 
Let me start by saying that I have been hooked on making dodecahedron for quite some time.  When I first starting beading a little over 5 years ago I went searching the Internet for 3D objects.  I don't know why exactly, I just did.  My search led me to a site called Bead-Patterns and a designer by the name of Chris Prussing.  I found a neat little cross weave pattern for Chinese Pearl balls, better known as dodecahedron.  I've driven my friends crazy with them ever since.  I enjoyed them so much I just kept making them over and over in every gorgeous color of 4mm Czech fire polish I could find.  Problem was I didn't know what to do with them after I made them.  But each one was a lovely little sparkling beauty.  I was happy to have a bowl full of them for a while.  Then one day BAM!  I found a way to put them all together. 
Here is "Mardi Gras"

This is a double core spiral using bugles on one side. Some may recognize this pattern from the cover of February 2007 Bead & Button magazine.  I thought these two ideas would be fun together.  It is a fun exuberant, but short lariat.  It is wonderfully tactile and all those little jangly dodecahedron give you something to do when you are standing in line at the grocery store!

Fast forward to 2010....
Over the intervening years I have found other interesting 3D projects and come up with a few of my own.  I have learned many new beading techniques and developed my skills.  Designing new things....well that is a challenge.  And I love a good challenge!
I have long admired all of the fabulous patterns at Bead Infinitum, but I have been hesitant, nah straight up afraid to take them on!!  Remember those Internet searches I told you about?  Well, I found math articles by Gwen using beaded beads to explain geometrical relationships!  I was intrigued, enough to save them to my computer for future reference.  (glad I did!) But the knowledge that the patterns were created by professors of mathematics was a tad daunting.  Silly me.

Why am I doing it now???

Not long ago Gwen Fisher and Florence Turnour of  Bead Infinitum requested applicants for the Bead Infinitum Design Team, so I applied.  Very soon I had a lovely email from Florence telling me that I had been selected to participate!!


Suddenly I realized I had to face my fear! The challenge of the math masters' beading patterns. I don't know why I've been so intimidated by them!  I haven't met a pattern yet that I couldn't figure out and accomplish!  I've taught myself most the beading stitches out there.  Still, I was shaking in my boots!  LOL...  After reading the design team instructions I devised a plan!  I would meet the challenge by starting with a familiar subject! Lovely Dodecahedron!  When the Infinity Dodecahedron and Infinity Donut patterns arrived I discovered two twists I had not considered.  Bwaa ha ha ha!! Gwen and Florence!! No... 

1st - Infinity weave Dodecahedron are done with a single needle! 2nd - They have a layer of embellishment!  I was in trouble! 
Now I had to rethink the whole process.  I had to shut out the method I had learned, could do in my sleep and learn to make this beaded bead with one needle.  The visualization and execution of this bead took some getting used to!  Never mind that I loved the original beaded beads, I always wanted to figure out how to get more beads on each edge.  BUT I never had the patience to sit and figure it out.  Apparently Gwen and Florence did! Thank heavens!  I think they have devised a way to get paid for figuring out bead patterns, so that they can then print them and sell them and get paid for them again.  Now you do the math! Clever ladies! 

So I decided that I would follow the Infinity Dodecahedron pattern's step by step process and make myself completely comfortable with it. The simple dodecahedron was fairly easy, since I knew what the finished piece would be and generally how it would work up.  The Infinity version adds a new dimension and solved the riddle behind having more beads on each side in the shape! Gwen and Florence very wisely suggest you work with the largest size beads first and I did.  I made all three sizes of regular Infinity Dodecahedron before I started experimenting with other beads.  I wanted be totally confident with how to make them before I moved on to putting them into my own creation.  

Here are my samples:

Okay, so far so good.  Now, as in the past, what to do with them???  (story time begins)  My husband and I travelled to his home town, Dodge, in Wisconsin for deer hunting season and Thanksgiving with his family this year.  Yes, I went deer hunting. Todd, my husband, was successful, sadly I was not.  Maybe next year.  Well, back to the original story... Monday night before Thanksgiving I was drifting off to sleep thinking about this design challenge and wondering what could I do differently?  How could I connect them together in a new and different way?  I wanted to link them together, but how?  I'm a seed bead snob and shun using metal findings when I can. So I wanted a seed bead solution, or at least not metal finding one. 

(I did not want to "find" a metal finding that would solve my design dilemma....ack!)

O-rings came to mind.  But what kind of o-rings?  I was driving to Minneapolis the next morning to visit a friend and go to Bobby Bead.  I also planned to visit Beth Kraft's store Nordic Gypsy in Rochester.  Oh!  And then it came to me!  I had taken a class with Beth when she came to The Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild this year.  She brought lots of lovely unique items from her store to share with us!  I remembered that she had these wonderful rubbery o-rings in lots of colors! Oh boy, now I knew how I would connect the dodecahedron together!   Almost!  I also knew that I wanted to use the Infinity Donut as the loop part of a toggle.  ONWARD!!

Before I could join the dodecahedrons together with o-rings I had to figure out where in the process to add the rings.  So with the pattern in front of me and a dodecahedron without the embellishment layer in front of me, I mapped out my plan.  The first o-ring is added on the very first round of beads (1-5).  That was easy enough.  The hard part comes later.  Where to add the second ring....turns out the ring must go around bead 21.  When you have the pattern and know the steps it all makes sense.  Properly executed this places o-rings on edges exactly opposite each other in the same orientation.  

It's just a little trickier than it sounds...because you have to pay attention to where you place the rest of the beads as you finish the base rounds so that you capture the o-ring on the correct edge bead.  Once I had that figured out it went fairly smoothly. 

So here you see my design realized!!

"Infinity Connections"
Notice that the toggle ends are Infinity Tetrahedron - another regular solid that can be made using the Infinity Weave.  I executed the first tetrahedron, then directly off it's base I started a three-sided tubular herringbone section and ended with another infinity tetrahedron.  (That took a little thought.  I had to pay attention and make sure I built the sides up from the base.)  I added a crystal bi cone at each top for sparkle. 

Next I tried the Infinity Donut pattern.   This was easy to do, now that I fully understood the process.  The Infinity Donut  is simply a variation of the Dodecahedron.  The embellishment instructions make it's appearance unique.  Because I wanted to complete this project right away I simply followed the instructions for the embellishment layer, rather than playing with my own variation. Here is the Infinity Donut at the loop end of my bracelet.  Bottom's up! 

The donut is joined to the bracelet on a lower vertical side so that it lies with the center hole oriented up and down.  The toggle goes up through the center hole to the top of the Donut to close the connection.  Ta Dah!


Here is another project I am working on:

This is a Russian Spiral embellished with dyed jade 4mm rounds.  This is growing into a long necklace or perhaps a lariat with multiple Infinity Dodecahedron .   However, I am no where near through playing with these two patterns.  There are many more ideas floating around in my head about these little darlin's!  Remember those sample beads?  There are some other bead combinations I want to try out and oh...the possibilities are endless!

Hope you enjoyed my rant on Infinity Dodecahedrons!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First things first!

Okay, so here I am blogging! Wow, I never thought I'd actually do this! I was never one to keep a diary....well, this is way different if you ask me!

So here I am.  A member of the Bead Infinitum Design Team! Truth be told, that is my motivation for starting this blog! In the next day or two I will have some pictures to post and words about what I've made. 

For now HELLO internet blogging world!