Friday, April 14, 2017

Sometimes we need a that friend.

Today I had the chance to make a quick visit to a friend suffering cancer. First, her cancer was misdiagnosed as a spider bite. Then she found out it was a form of skin cancer. It's on her finger, which rather sucks, because she's in the medical field, and if the skin graft doesn't hold (and it's dubious right now) her job may become NO job.

I'd mentioned on Facebook that I have eight friends with cancer, and if I could, I'd get a tiny teardrop trailer and make a massive road trip, from Maryland to Oregon and spots in between to cheer them up.

But it doesn't take an epic road trip.

It's easy to get lost in the workaday world, and days turn to weeks that rapidly turn to months. So today, why not get a pretty card and send it to someone? They don't even have to be sick; you may have just lost touch. Email is quick, but snail mail, especially unexpected cheery snail mail, can make a person's day. And if you can, why not stop by, with a coffee or a great book or a movie?

PapayaArt is one of my go-to shops for unique cards.

Let's make a Bucket List to check our calendars each month and pick a person to spoil a little. Be a friend.

I guarantee it won't be forgotten.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Barbe Saint John and Industrial Chic Giveaway

I love Barbe Saint John. I have a bracelet of hers that is just incredible. She has a way of thinking outside the box that just goes straight over my head.

Barbe just had a piece of her jewelry published in Jewelry Affaire recently (go Barbe!). As a member of Susan Lenart Kazmer's creative team, she gets to try out new components first, and she made a beautiful necklace called "Swan Lake".

To celebrate (and because she's generous!) she's giving away three copies of the Industrial Chic booklet as well as some of the NEW Industrial Chic charms!

Click here to learn how you can win these!

Congratulations, Barbe!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Story from Zack -- Why Woodpeckers Bang Their Heads on Trees

A while ago, Zack and I got into a conversation about woodpeckers. He brought it up because he thought they were rather fascinating birds. I asked him WHY they were fascinating. Here's his story that was published in his school newspaper; it's a little shorter than the original version due to newspaper space. Enjoy!!!!

The woodpecker, also known as Dryocopus pileatus, bang their heads against trees because they are diehard heavy metal fans. But not just ANY heavy metal; only heavy metal bands comprised of squirrels. Yes, squirrels.

Compared to human heavy metal, squirrel heavy metal is like cutting down the squirrel's tree while they're screaming at each other and throwing acorns around at each other. This says two things about the woodpeckers' personality; a) they have horrible taste in music and b) they are not the sharpest beak in the forest.

"Hey. I'm with the band, dude."

"When is the gig? I'm ready to ROCK!"

When a woodpecker pecks, it's usually out of view. This is because they're a bit afraid of people and they hang out where the squirrels are -- in the trees. Squirrel bands are in trees because they are conscious about the feelings of humans. The might be out of fear, though -- most people only hear a few pecks at a certain moments, but around squirrels, woodpeckers peck on one tree for hours at a time. This is because heavy metal songs composed by squirrels are VERY long, but no human has ever heard an entire one. The record for the longest time listening to a heavy metal song made and performed by squirrels was 30 minutes. The person only lasted that long because his eardrums eventually burst and his brain melted.


For some reason, the squirrels aren't affected by their music, but they ARE affected by the constant head-banging of the woodpecker. When a woodpecker pecks, to us it sounds like, well, a beak on wood. To squirrels, it's like someone banging on a wall right next to you at twenty beats a second.

Quite a dilemma.

But let's not focus on that. Let's focus on the beauty of the Dryocopus pileatus.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome to the Bead Soup Blog Party, Bead Hoarders Edition!

SO! It's finally time for the Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) Bead Hoarder's Blog Hop!

I first want to thank all participants. It was a bit daunting dusting off something I've done for years after many years of making nothing at all but a good-sized dent in the bed, and it was equally daunting to even MAKE jewelry when I hadn't touched my tools for a long, long, long time. Everyone I've come into contact over the years on Facebook during these parties couldn't have been sweeter. So...

The Bead Soup Blog Party began in 2010, ran twice a year for short time and then for some reason it quickly exploded. The last few BSBP's had upwards of 500 people covering every continent except South American and Antarctica. A book was written, a bunch of us in the Bead Soup Cafe wore green ribbons and met each other at the Bead and Button Show, and it was the thing I felt I brought to the beading community -- creating an online community. Thank you to all of you for sticking with me even during my hiatus!

This party involved sending a hoarded bead or beads. That meant sending a bead that was special to you, sending something you really loved, giving it to someone you didn't know, as a gesture of goodwill and in a sort of Pay It Forward. I thought the world could use some Random Kindness about now.

Let's get started, shall we?

read details about these beads at

I had two partners. First is Audrey Belanger from Canada. She and I have been friends since even before the parties, and I got a lovely package from her, not just with beautiful beads, but body sprays, chocolates, and lip balm. You can see a comprehensive set of photos and descriptions by clicking here (but do come back!)

I'm very happy you're here!

The first bead I worked with was the Donna Millard lampwork bead.

I decided to make a bead-encrusted bangle from heavy gauge pale lavender wire. I made a loop at one end, planned the spacing of the beads, and went to town with hair-thin sterling wire. The gemstones and Czech glass I used were no larger than 4 mm and in some cases smaller. Four Thai silver beads flanked the lampwork bead. The gemstones I used were iolite, amethyst, pale blue chalcedony, rose quartz, and brighter blue faceted Czech glass beads. Once I finished moving all the way to the right of the bracelet, I went back towards the left with more fine wire and gemstones to fill in holes and make it fuller.

Then I made a clasp and jump rings with wire to match the base. This type of bracelet takes a long time to make, but it's so worth it!

The second piece I made used Audrey's handmade resin pendant. This one took some painstaking work with tiny wrapped loops and very delicate chain on the pendant itself, while I dug through about 10, 242 packages of chain just to find the RIGHT one. How is it the more you have, the more you need?

I started with 4 mm Swarovski crystals in Khaki, Copper, and Dorado 2X. I used jeweler's bronze to link them randomly, connecting a length of delicate chain in between each beaded chain.  The top of the pendant is a lampwork bead that I thought fit the color scheme well and a collection of crystal dangles stacked atop each other to create a backdrop for the bead. I love how it turned out!

I didn't have a bronze daisy spacer or bead cap, so I made one by weaving five large jump rings into a love knot.  And with those crystals being a tiny 4 mm, you can really see here how delicate the chain is.

For the neckline, I didn't want to draw too much away from the intricacy of the pendant. To that end, I added just a few Swarovski Copper crystals, some carved pale green jade, a lampwork bead that matches the pendant, and a button that honest to goodness just was sitting on my desk for four years. I linked that to double love knots of large bronze rings and connected it all to a long length of chain.

I made my own clasp, but I'm not that happy with it and need to practice a bit more.

Now on to the pieces Loralee Kolton sent me!

I will admit this now -- I am intimidated by dagger beads. I have no idea how to work them into a unique design. One night while fighting insomnia, though, I came up with an idea. A simple idea, but an idea. I briolette-wrapped three of them and connected them to small-gauge chain. I needed a way to make them dangle from the BACK of the heart pendant, so I linked two largish jump rings through the holes in the heart and attached a short link of chain to the back of the heart. Then I connected the smaller chains with the daggers to the back. Finally, I dotted a bit of glue to each chain to keep them from flying over the top of the heart if I turned to fast.


I used one of the Lucite nuggets (my favorite part of the package!) and then coated strips of cheese cloth with Fray Check, let it dry, and tied it above and below the bead. I trimmed it and then created an asymmetric necklace with cream and olive Swarovski pearls, Czech glass heart beads I forgot I owned, and pale gray and Vitrail Medium Swarovski crystals. Those last were tiny and I have a bunch on the floor now!

One side of the necklace was largely beaded, but the other side! I made a Shaggy Loops chain and then added the tiny 4 mm Swarovski Vitrail Medium rounds as tiny dangles to catch the light in the chain.

The clasp is a pretty lobster claw I'd been hoarding, and you can see I added some faceted onyx in both rondelle and round.

I tackled those dagger beads again and made a matching pair of earrings with 4 mm Swarovski Khaki crystals and those pretty hearts to match the heart pendant.

All together...

And finally, I combined the beads I got from both Audrey and Loralee to make a bracelet!

I had to use the rest of those awesome Lucite nuggets! I also had planned to use Audrey's fluorite ovals in her necklace, but changed my mind. I cut chain in three-loop lengths, wired on the fluorite, and found one of my many hoarded lampwork sets, rondelles that picked up just the right amount of color.  I love it!

And that is that!

All of these pieces were made in two days and all were photographed today. I very nearly lost the light on some of them! It always seems that way when I hostess a party -- I'm finding the extra cups, putting out plates of cake, running the Pictionary Game (every drawing looked like a bead with these folks -- go figure!) so I felt really fortunate to have gotten this done and to have made pieces I'm truly proud of with no shortcuts. I'm an hour late in posting (it's 1 AM and I. Am. Toast.) but that's the fun of parties. People stay late, you pull out the reserve box of cookies, get a little giggly and put party hats on the cat. 

And it's all very worth it in the morning.

I hope you'll take the time to visit as many of the people below as you can (skip around -- you don't have to start from top to bottom).  

(The jewelry shown was made by me, mostly for other BSBPs!)

Lori Anderson :: Hostess

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bead Soup -- What I Received From My Two Partners

The Bead Soup Blog Party, Bead Hoarders Edition, will come to its blog-hopping party date this coming Saturday the 25th. Be sure to come back here on Saturday for my reveal and the list of links of participants!

The goal of this bead swap was to trade with a partner you don't know, giving them a bead or beads you have hoarded, treasured, and loved, sending them out to be worked up into a piece of jewelry or art. Each participant was also supposed to write a note about the beads they sent -- where they came from and why they were chosen.

I have two partners, Audrey Belanger and Loralee Kolton. First, we have Audrey. This is what I sent her:

The large focal is made by Keysha Koy. I love Keysha's work and at one show I practically poured all her beads into my bag. It was difficult to give one up but it went to a good home!

This is what Audrey sent me -- the front of the pendant....

And the back:

Audrey made this piece using resin. The front is made with a bird from a silk paper kit, adorned with glitter flakes and flowers. The backdrop is from a French dictionary, which she thought was apt for me, an avid reader! This is the only piece out of all my pieces I received that I knew immediately what to do with it. Stay tuned!

She also sent me this ceramic piece:

This one is Zack's favorite. He said he saw the organic birds in the ceramic as pterodactyls! Audrey said she bought this when Moriah Betterly of Blu Mudd stopped making beads and had her final sale.

Finally, she sent this one:

This lampwork bead was part of a custom set of three made by Donna Millard. Audrey's girlfriend owns one of them, Audrey has one, and now I am incredibly honored to own the third. She said this one was the hardest to give up, and I can totally understand why! She also sent some sweet vintage acrylic rose beads. 

Aren't the colors in the lampwork bead totally me?

Thank you, Audrey!

And now for Loralee Kolton! This is what I sent to her:

I sent a set of Jelveh Jaferian. I totally hoard her beads. She is also one of the very first lampwork artists I ever bought from, way back when I started making jewelry. I believe in loyalty!

And this is what I received from Loralee. First, she had a cute box with a sweet glittery heart perched on top:

The heart was quite apt, as when I set aside the cushioning, it revealed a Round Rabbit ceramic heart! This is special to me because Nancy is no longer making ceramic jewelry pieces, but please visit her store to see her amazing sewn goods!

It reminds me of a Victorian summer dress. I've been reading a lot of Deborah Moggach (author of a ton of books but also the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", which was awesome) and in her books, expats in Pakistan and India take center stage. Maybe that's why I think of this piece that way.

Here's the entire set. I'm a huge fan of vintage Lucite and these pale olive green nuggets just call my name. She also added a strand of matte black Czech glass daggers. I've got to admit, I am lousy with daggers, so we'll see what happens!

She also sent me a gift a week ago, a charm handpainted by Gaea, and if I have time (and I'm already laughing -- extra time? Bosh.) I'll work with it. But it's so special I don't know yet what to do!

 So the hoarding begins again.