Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Etsy! and Caterpillars!

Yup, that's been my week... Now that the Design Challenge is mostly wrapped up, my focus has been on setting up an Etsy store, and making new Caterpillar beads.  These guys are so much fun to make- mostly done in the flame, with a few little embellishments using vitreous enamels.  I'm working on a long post right now that explains their 'evolution'- expect that in a couple days.  But I couldn't wait to share them, and the new Etsy store. Right now, in the store, you'll find a few of these Caterpillar beads, and another handful of finished jewelry pieces.  I'm adding more this week, and will be sending "New Work Alerts" once I have a bit more added.  So, this is a pre-preview, of sorts? Please, click on over to my Etsy store, and let me know what you think!  

I'm working this week on adding more to my website- more, different caterpillars, earrings, and more jewelry.  Maybe some other new beads too... I have quite a few projects in process, and it's always hard to tell which one will be 'cooked' first.


Expect more from me later this week!  Until then, happy beading!  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Design Challenge Winners!

It has been a tough week making decisions, and tallying votes!  I have to say how amazed I am(and all of the other judges were) by your creativity, innovation, and inspiration in your designs with my beadies.  There were 23 entries, which is more than I expected for this first Design Challenge (yes, there will be more).  THANK YOU for putting your energy, time, and spirit into this Challenge!  

To see the entries, visit my website (captions are coming): 

or, if you're on Facebook, check them out here: 

JUDGING: I enlisted the help of 4 other judges: Sara Hardin (Soft Flex master), JC Herrell (bead artist), Janice Zinser (my awesome mom), and Star Vasquez (bead artist).  Each judge picked their first, second, and third best pieces.  We worked a little magic and turned those votes into scores (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd).   All of our choices were between 9 entries, so this was a very close contest.  

So, without further ado, 

The WINNER of the 2010 Design Challenge is Christy Puetz with her amazing seed-beaded Beetle neckpiece, which received 8 points in judging.  Christy will win $600 worth of my work, and a gift from Soft Flex!   


2nd placeAJ Reardon with her "Beetles are Lovely Too" necklace, which received 5 points in judging.  AJ wins $300 worth of MZ Glass goodies!  

3rd placeGail MacKenzie with her "Tribute to the Red Hot Beetles", which received 4 points in judging.  Gail wins $100 worth of MZ Glass goodies!  
Gail was also selected by Sara Hardin for the 'Best use of Soft Flex and MZ Glass pieces', and will be getting a selection of Soft Flex Trio packs!  
 

The other artists that received scores were Rickie Voges, Valerie Fordham (for her entry #18), Rebecca Moore (for her entries #8 and #10), Elizabeth Fensin, and William Justiniano.  All of these entries had between 1 and 3 points from judging, so you can see how close this contest was!  Every judge commented on how difficult it was to choose winners.  

Again, thank you to ALL of you who entered.  If you didn't win this year (or if you DID win!), it's not to early to start designing for next year's Challenge!  I'm thinking I will have this as a continuing contest- because I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing my beads become part of your creative process!  Expect details on the next Challenge in the not-so-distant future.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

MZ Glass Design Challenge

So after getting so excited to see a few of my beads at my last show "come back" to me, assembled into beautiful jewelry, I decided to have a little fun, and have a contest. 

I'm giving away a total of $1000 of my work to show that, even though this contest is to embrace fun and creativity, I'd love to see your best efforts.  So PLEASE consider entering!

Here's the info:
MZ Glass Design Challenge


How do you use your MZ Glass Beads? MZ would love to know!

The CHALLENGE:

Use any of MZ’s work in an amazing design project. Any sort of project is fair game: jewelry, wearable art, wall hangings, anything that includes parts that MZ has made. Mix MZ Glass accents or focal beads with your own components to make something spectacular. If you’ve already made a piece with older MZ Glass beads, feel free to enter it! If you have a great idea for any of my current beads, here’s a little gift to help you! Enter CHALLENGE as the coupon code on www.mzglass.com, and get 20% off your purchase. (Now, once you use the coupon, you really need to enter the contest! Don’t leave me hangin’!) You can also mention the design challenge at any of my shows this summer and get an equivalent discount for components you’ll use for the contest.

Then, take great photographs of your piece. You can include up to 3 pictures with each entry.

Send those pictures, with your contact information, and all the important info about the piece you made to mz@mzglass.com. Include DESIGN CHALLENGE in the subject line of your email. I’ll post those pictures to the Design Challenge Page on MZ’s website, and on the Design Challenge page on Facebook.

DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 1, 2010

Winners will be announced by SEPTEMBER 7, 2010

Pieces will be judged by MZ and a few other artists and friends. More details on judges and judging will be coming soon. We’ll vote and pick 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Of course, technique, originality, quality, awesomeness of design, and fabulousness of how you used your MZ Glass beads in the piece will be considered.

The SPOILS:

1st Place: $600 in MZ Glass goodies, your choice at a show or on the website

2nd Place: $300 in MZ Glass goodies, your choice at a show or on the website

3rd Place: $100 in MZ Glass goodies, your choice at a show or on the website



A few pointers:

• Make sure your photos do justice to your creation! Use neutral (not busy) backgrounds. Include close-ups!

• You can enter as many times as you want!

• MZ (one of your Design Challenge judges) is excited to see any of your creations using her beads. She’s really excited about seeing how her new work is being used- particularly the Butterflies, Doodles, and Spirals. She’s also really excited to see her accent beads used creatively!

• Submit your entry on time! You have plenty of time to finish your piece! The contest will close on September 1, 2010 at 11:59 PM. Entries that come in after that will not be considered.

• Send each entry to mz@mzglass.com with DESIGN CHALLENGE in the subject line of your email. Feel free to follow up to make sure I received your entry (in case I don’t respond to your email).

• Be sure each entry includes the following:

o Your name as you want it to appear in the show & tells of this Design Challenge.

o Your contact info (email, phone, address)

o The title of the piece, year of creation, and year of MZ Glass pieces used (if you don’t know this last one, feel free to ask me for help).

o A great description of the piece. Include materials and methods used in the construction of the piece.

o You can submit up to 3 photos for each entry.



Ok, that just about covers it.  Design away!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bead Inspired Mesa


Last weekend I headed up to the Phoenix area for Beads of Courage's annual board meeting, and one of our fundraisers, Bead Inspired. What a fantastic weekend! The Arizona chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, one of the first groups to ever make beads for BOC, hosted the event at Mesa Arts Center. The spectacular day included beadmaking all day, performances by several awesome music acts, and culimated in a reception and live auction in the evening. The Phoenix area has several hospitals that participate in BOC programs, so this event brought together beadmakers, caregivers, and kids in BOC programs. It was beautiful and overwhelming to see kids, wearing their strands of courage, enjoying the beadmaking, bead stringing, and all the other fun activities Bead Inspired offered. The event was a huge success, and many thanks to all who put in so much hard work to make it happen! 



 


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's new, what's out, what's coming

Wow! 2010 is shaping up to be a great year, filled with steady positive changes, and that’s what I want to cover in this post.

What’s new?
A month ago, I posted a blog about the new additions to my body of work: Butterflies and Doodles. Just yesterday, I launched a new website, that brings a ton of positive change on its own. You’ll find shopping is much easier, and navigation improved within the website. I think the site ‘matches’ me and my work a lot more- more photos, more color. I’m really excited about it, and about the new work projects. Poke around; let me know what you think! With the launch of the site, I posted work from all of the series I make, but added quite a few Butterflies. A big round of Doodles will come with my next posting.
What’s out?
At the end of last year, as the ideas for the Butterflies and Doodles started to percolate, I decided to do a little creative house-cleaning. I realized that quite a few bead series were starting to feel …ummmm…. too familiar. I firmly believe that my energy and intention get captured within each piece I make, and that in turn comes across in the work. Fresh energy creates fresh work. Stale energy creates stale work. Getting to make a living from beads is a blessing, and at no point do I ever want to take that for granted. If boredom persists, I may as well start looking for an office job… I want to be feeling gratitude and joy when I play with glass, and I want that energy in every piece made and sold. (That said, it doesn’t mean we can’t use art to work through negative emotions. I do it all the time, but boredom is not an emotion welcome in my studio.) So, wanting to foster good, fresh, joyful energy in everything I make, I allowed myself to put a few of my well-established series to bed. So, the Biologicals, Talisman, and the Pendant series (that never really got a name) are done.
Please don’t misunderstand- I still love all of these series. But I wanted to make sure to ‘retire’ them before stale energy ruined them for me, and, a bit downstream, ruined them for you. I still have a few left in each series, and in the coming weeks, I’ll offer what I still have for sale on the website. If you’re antsy to get that Biologicals or Talisman focal you’ve always wanted, feel free to email me in the meantime.
What’s coming?
I’m in the process of figuring that one out. We (my web guy and I) still need to get the Enamels E-Tutorial JC Herrell and I wrote in a comfortable place on the website, and that’s coming soon. You’ll see the ‘retired’ series for sale in a bit. I know that over the next months, I’ll be making more finished jewelry, adding earrings, beaded necklaces, and accessories for my beads to the website. The Butterflies and Doodles will each see more development as I play around within each series. Past that, I’m not sure what’s coming. I have a few projects simmering on a back burner while this website project finishes up, and it’s hard to tell where my attention will focus, and even harder to tell which of these projects will be ‘cooked’ first. I know that, whatever comes, I’ll be excited to share it with you. ;)



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leafcutters are back…


Moving to Arizona ten years ago was like turning 5 all over again. I grew up in Ohio, and after years of being a biology-nut in the Midwest, I grew pretty familiar with a lot of the local flora and fauna. And then, I moved to the desert Southwest, where the plants had spikes, animals were venomous, and both plants and animals were to be appreciated with a different level of respect than the almost entirely harmless creepy crawlies of Ohio. I had to learn names and biology all over again- and what fun it was, and continues to be! I love living in Arizona- the diversity of insect species is especially astounding. Among my favorites are the leafcutter ants that make a visit to my yard every few weeks in warmer weather. Likely belonging to the Acromyrmex genus (such a good name), these cute ladies pick a plant and form a distinct path between their nest and the plant.
Over the course of a few days, they cut small, portable pieces of vegetation (some not so portable), and bring the plant matter back to the colony. They don't eat it. Rather, the vegetation feeds a fungus colony, which in turn, feeds the ants. Crazy cool biology, huh? A few years ago, the ants picked petals from my blooming orange tree, and left a trail of dropped petals along the top of the wall surrounding my yard. This visit, they picked a common weed in my yard, and I was able to snap a few photos of their handiwork. Not sure why they picked this one; there were many plants of the same variety much closer to their nest in my neighbor's yard. Hope you enjoy the snapshots of these extraordinary creatures as much as I do!


Dallas Craft Guild just earned a new fan


As I write this, I’m sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my flight to board. I’m on the tail end of a truly wonderful weekend of teaching at the Craft Guild of Dallas. This class has been in the works for quite some time; a few Guild members took one of my classes at the 2009 Glass Craft and Bead Expo, and wanted to bring me out to Dallas to continue the beadmaking fun we had in Vegas. So, after almost a year of planning and scheduling, we decided on 3 days, in 2 parts: my 2 day Shaping, Encasing, and Color class, along with a 1 day optional add-on class that covered how I use enamels to create un-glassy effects with glass. (This has since become the Un Glassy Glass Class, coming up at 2010 GCE in Vegas, and in May at Brea Bead Works). Oh my, we had a BLAST. This is the first time I’ve been lucky enough to have the same group of students for 3 continuous days, and it was so nice to get to see my students really sink their teeth into the class. I can’t wait to see pictures from the last round of beads we made on Sunday in the enamels class: sculpted Roman-glass-looking vessels, textured rocks, and marbles are what I’m particularly excited to see.




What makes the Guild awesome? Lots. It’s been around for more than 50 years, teaching classes in lampworking, ceramics, jewelry design, silversmithing, painting, bookbinding and alteration, and much more that I can’t remember. Each studio is well-equipped and well-designed. The staff is enthusiastic, and each studio has an open door; teachers and students alike are excited to discuss their projects. The collaborative and creative energy is certainly contagious. If and when I head back to Dallas to teach another class, I’m sticking around for a while to be a student, and take advantage of the wealth of information and equipment at the Guild! Many thanks to my generous hosts/ students/ friends for making the trip to Dallas such a wonderful one!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to regular life

The Best Bead Show (and the rest of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows) came and went, and I started the slow process of tuning back in to non-Gem show life. Over the last couple weeks, I slept a lot, slept some more, put my house and studio back together, took a nap, taught a quick class at Sonoran Glass, did a ton of paperwork, took another nap, and started working on my website again. The sleep deficit has been remedied, and I’m back in the studio- two things that sometimes take me a while to do after the February shows each year. Ahhh. Gem show done. It’s always wonderful, but I’m always happy to get back to regular life.


A while back I mentioned starting the process of updating my website, and to make everything work the way its supposed to.  That's hard to do... so I recruited and found local help to both assist me with the update, and teach me about the program that runs my site.  He's oddly a family member of the guy from whom I purchased my house and studio. Small world, eh? We’re working on giving the site a little bit of a facelift- adding more pictures, a few new features, and most importantly, making the store a bit easier to navigate. We’re making a ton of changes to the site, and Peter, the man behind the curtain, has set up a few things that make the site easier for me to maintain. I’m so excited for this project to be done- Peter has done such a great job, and I’m delighted to share it with you as soon as we finish up the last few edits, and push that ‘on’ button sometime soon. I’d like the site to be live before I head off to teach at the Craft Guild of Dallas next week. We’ll see…

With the launch of the new website, I’ll have a handful of new work available, including a new batch of butterflies. I’m painting wings today, along with flameworking a few Maze marbles and Doodlebeads to paint later this week. Yup, that’s what I’m up to- just plugging away.  No big news, and that's just fine with me.  Wishing all of you beautiful days!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The new projects


We here in Tucson are getting ready for Best Bead to roll into full swing. My houseguests have started to arrive, and by a stroke of last-minute changes of plans, we seem to have a smaller Hotel Zinser this year. I’m thankful, to be honest, but I will miss having so many here. Makes me feel slightly less guilty when the line for the shower has less than 10 in it…
JC and Harold kept me company while I photographed these last night, and I'm thankful that they kept me entertained...

There are two new series:
The Butterfly wings are done off mandrel as a thin pendant that hangs from a jump ring. Just like my Beetle beads, they're sculpted in the flame and painted cold (and then returned to the flame) for color and detail. Also like the Beetles, these are completely stylized, not representative of any actual species of butterfly. The wearer can opt to sport one, or mix/ match two to make their own imaginary butterfly.

 






The doodles are straight up fun. I had a bit of a creative slow-down/ slump last year... It happens- with attention on other projects, life, and all that. These really helped me get out of the slump... uncensored, plenty of room to play, but very simple technical contstraints (white bead, black paint). The doodles are a very literal translation of my journal pages into a bead. The first few I made were meant as a creative exercise- not something I expected to turn into a product.... but then I realized how much time I spent giggling, smiling, and in a generally positive and playful place. So, wanting to bring more of that play into my day to day creative world, the Doodles and Doodlebugs (and there's a DoodleBall not yet photographed) were born.