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!