Monday, April 29, 2013

An End of School Reprise

This post was originally written in June of 2011, and as school is coming to a close, I thought I'd post it again.  It's been so enlightening going back through old posts, which I've been doing with some regularity recently.

(And this is the kidlet at one year old.  We should all have this much joy.)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Welcome to the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party ® 3rd and Final Reveal!

At last!

The 3rd and final reveal for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party® has arrived!

It's been an amazing blog hop this year
(who knows what next year will bring????)

Today, over 200 people
(out of a total of 541)
will show you what happens when jewelry designers
 swap their stash.

(Learn more about the BSBP by clicking here)

First, I'd like to thank everyone for putting up with not one but two postponements of reveal dates.  In this post, I explained the health issues I've been dealing with for what seems like forever -- and it's because of those health issues that I am SO VERY EXCITED about my reveal today!!!!  Not only did I make all of my pieces yesterday, but I made them with swollen hands and arms that felt like they'd been hauling lumber for a living.  I was seriously worried that I wouldn't be able to make a thing today, let alone more than one thing, but I truly think my partner will be pleased (I sure am!).

My partner for the third reveal is the ultra-talented Barbara Fernald.  She made the leaf focal and clasp, the leaf head pins, and the square beads in my soup.  WOAH Nelly but the woman has skills.  

As a reminder, these are the beads and components Barb sent me (click for a larger view).  
I used almost everything!

I'm going to show you my favorite piece last, so hang with me for a few, m'k?  Ready?  Let's go!

First, I made two pairs of earrings with Barb's polymer clay leaf headpins.  I would never have guessed they were polymer clay as they remind me of encaustic wax art.  I'll let the photos do the talking:

(Sally Russick sent me the green seed beads for my first BSBP reveal!)

For these, I made the purple and green enameled beads some time ago and finally got to use them!

I didn't have any copper ear wires, so I made them.  A quick trick, especially if you are in a hurry and don't have time to file the rough ends off the wire edges?  Snip the ends off head pins and make a small loop with that end.  The end that goes through your ear will already be nicely finished by the manufacturer!  To make your ear wires exactly the same size, make the large curve over a mandrel BOTH at the same time.

I made a bracelet next.  In the first collage above, you'll see ready-made bangles Barb sent me. They're made out of recycled flip flops of all things, and I DID have another idea for them but just couldn't get it to gel.  So.....

I cut two equal-sized pieces from the bangles and ran wire through them (they're conveniently hollow).  What else did I use from Barb's soup? A double length of copper fringe chain, her amazing handmade patinaed beads, blue seed beads, and her handmade leaf charm.  

At first, I used just one length of tubing, but to keep visual balance and proper weight distribution, I doubled up and connected them with two textured jump rings with charms. I love things that allow me to fidget, and the fringy chain just begged for more movement along the rest of the bracelet.  This is SO unlike my normal style -- I'm tickled that I even thought of it!

And now the piece that has me so proud I could just burst.  While it's in my favorite style (lots of dangles), it still was quite a challenge because for weeks, I haven't been able to hold my jewelry tools, let alone use them.  You can BET this piece is going into my personal jewelry box!

First, I had to make a chain, as the only chain I had was too delicate.  I took apart a byzantine chain maille bracelet I'd made a long time ago and made a simple sterling silver chain.  I added handmade lampwork beads by Jackson River Glass in between the lengths, and since it's "go big or go home", I wrapped the end of Barb's leaf head pin focal onto a large sterling ring from Bead Goes On.

Then came a blissful four hours of wire wrapping.  I say blissful because even though my hands felt like they were on fire, I knew exactly what I wanted to make and for once, it was all coming together.  From Barb's soup, I used all the variscite and the two styles of white pearls.  I added some glimmer with light green Czech glass, tiny but vibrant blue Czech glass, and taupe Swarovski crystals.  I ended it all with the handmade clasp Barb made for me.

My method to this madness is to work with one bead style at a time.  First, I added all the variscite.  Then I started spacing out the rest of the beads, largest to smallest, slowly tapering the fullness.  Periodically, I'd hold it up and see where there holes to be filled or colors that needed to be brightened.  

See all those tiny wrapped loops?  
I'm going to feel that in my hands in the morning...
and I don't care!!!!

The clasp is worn to the back, but I'm showing it to you like this so you can see the tiny bead details and Barb's exceptional PMC work.  I think details make all the difference in the world, and if I wear my hair up, you'll see just a hint of color.

I'm totally stoked.

So there you have it -- my creations and the end of this year's Bead Soup Blog Party®!  I hope you had a wonderful time, whether participating or viewing.  The next BSBP will be around the same time next year, but you don't have to wait until then to have beading fun!

You can follow my blog by clicking the button to the right, and please join me and over 1,600 jewelry designers and bead makers at the Bead Soup Cafe on Facebook.  I'll also be announcing the details of my next blog hop, Bead Hoarders, July 20th, very soon!

Please take some time to visit my partner's blog by clicking here and see what Barb made with the beads I sent her:

And you can visit the rest of the participants below,
or at your leisure by visiting 

Agi Kiss
Amanda Tibbetts
Ana Cravidao
Andra Marasteanu
Angela Perkins
Anja Schultz
Ann Sherwood
Anna Nordeman
Annita Wilson
Arlene Dean
Astrid Boyce
Barb Fernald
Betty James
Bonnie Coursolle
Brandy Thomason
Brenda Sigafoos
Carmen Lau
Carol Wilson
Caroline Dewison
Catharine Temaluru
Catherine Turrell
Cherrie Warzocha
Christa Murphy
Christina Hickman
Christine Hansen
Cindy Cima
Colleen Vinthagen
Dagmar Liebisch
Danielle Kelley
Dee Elgie
Denise Milward
Diah Anggreni
Diane Valasek
Dita Basu
Donetta Farrington
Doris Stumpf
Elizabeth Bunn
Elizabeth Drake
Elizabeth Jones
Elizabeth Stolarczyk
Ema Kilroy
Erin Kenny
Francesca Watson
Gen Smith
Ginger Davis
Heather Otto
Ildiko Jarai

Inge von Roos
Jackie Locantore
Jane Pranata Lim
Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Tough
Jenny Vidberg
Jessica KlaarenHttp://
Joanna Matuszczyk
Judith Johnston
June Butt
Karen Mitchell
Kari Asbury
Karin von
Karla Morgan
Kathrin Lembke
Kathy Stemke
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic
Katy Heider
Kay Thomerson
Keren Panthaki
Kimberly Idalski
Kirsi Loponen
Klaudia Tóth
Krista Quantrill

Kristina Hahn Eleniak

Kristina Johansson

Laney Mead
Lara Lutrick

Laura Guenther

Lauren Potts

Laurie Vyselaar

Leah Tees

Lena Adams

Lesley Watt

Leslie Wayment

Linda Kropp
Linda Newnham
Lisa Boucher
Lorelle McIntyre
Lori Finney
Lucie Bouvier
Malin de Koning
Marina Dobrynina
Marina Kosovic
Marion Simmons
Marita Suominen
Marjolein Trewavas
Mary K McGraw
Maybeline Tay
Menka Gupta
Merja Sundström
Merja Syrjämäki
Michelle Buettner
Mischelle Fanucchi

Michelle Escano
Michelle Wigginton
Miranda Ackerely

Mowse Doyle
Mrs M
Natalie Davidson
Natalie Moten
Nikki Banham-Hall
Noemi Baena
Norma Turvey
Pam DeBoer
Patti Pruhs
Penny Houghton
Regina Santerre
Regina Wood

Roberta Fauntroy

Rosanagh Watson

Rose Johnson
Rossana De Gaspari
Sam Waghorn
Sandi James
Sandra McGriff
Sandra Wollberg
Sandra Young
Shai Williams
Sierra Barrett
Silke Gröber
Siobhán Keogh
Stefanie Teufel
Sue Hamel
Sue Rennie
Susan McClelland
Susanna Lehto
Susie Hibdon
Suzann Sladcik Wilson

Tara Plote

Terri G.

Terry Carter

Terry Matuszyk

Theresa Frank

Tina Bosh

Tina Noonan


Facebook Participants

Audrey Allen
Cindy Wimmer Muse
Cynthia O'Toole
Deb Floros
Debbie Jensen
Erin Honeycutt
Kaushambi Shah
Lisa Lloyd Harrison
Mary Jane Tanner
Valerie Tilghman

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

This New Life :: To Jump or Not to Jump?

(Warning -- this is a long one.)

Most of you know I've been fighting some level of pain for a long time.  I finally have news.


Four years ago, my life-long migraines took a bad turn.   The good news -- I've been in "remission", if you can call it that, only experiencing bad headaches when the weather changes.

Two years later, the degenerative disk disease I had in my back and neck since I was 22 became a serious issue and I started getting epidural shots for pain.  The good news -- the doctor has nailed down which nerves are being compromised and I'll be having them cauterized soon.

Around November of last year, though, I started noticing my joints and muscles were aching.  Then burning.  Then swelling.  I would run a low-grade fever off and on for no good reason.  I continued to feel completely exhausted ... that bone-crushing tiredness that robs you of the ability to do much of anything.  I had days when I couldn't drive Zack to school, even though it was a five minute trip.  I found myself spending 90% of my time in bed.  I started losing hair.  My hands hurt too much to hold jewelry tools and the pain would wake me up almost every single night.

Pain medications didn't work.

I've written rather freely about my lifelong fight with depression, but with chronic pain comes a special brand of depression, and I found myself putting all my hopes into first this doctor, and then that one, and then yet another.

Recently, after a particularly devastating doctor appointment, I couldn't shake the despair.  I can't do this anymore, I thought.  As I drove back to my home over the Bay Bridge, a bridge that normally gives me chills, I had a sudden, terrifying clarity of thought.

"You know ... you could jump."

The thought was so searing, so completely overpowering, that I actually slowed the car down. 


I've tried to come up with words to describe exactly what I was thinking at that moment, but I've had weeks and weeks to think about it and I still can't describe how terrifying it was to actually consider leaping from 200 feet -- something like twenty-five stories.  All I could think of at the time was how  amazingly peaceful it would be to swan dive and finally, forever, be pain-free. 

Luckily, I came to my senses.  Even though I've felt like less of a mother for being constantly tethered to a bed, I couldn't possibly leave my precious little boy.  But those few moments scared me.  I drove the remaining thirty minutes home and immediately contacted a friend who has been a lifeline, a pain pal, and a serious source of common sense while still remaining empathetic and kind.  While I sat in the school parking lot waiting to pick up my son, this friend kept my head above the proverbial water.   I got home to my husband, who held me while I cried, and he stayed home the next day while we continued our search for answers with another doctor.

In case you're wondering, I'm under good professional care, and while I still have dark days, I no longer have days where I question living.  I'm not done here on Earth yet.  I don't know what my ultimate purpose is, but my purpose right now is to be a mother, and I have to be present to do that.  Some may think it was extraordinarily selfish or insane or even ridiculous to consider suicide at all.   To those I say, be very thankful you've never visited that dark place, because it's not always easy to back away from the edge.  Some may wonder why I risk people's opinion of me by writing about something so enormously personal and polarizing, but I don't care.  If my story helps just one person step back from that edge as well, it's worth it.

View from my backyard.  All storms do pass ... or at least turn to gentle rain.

With the help of my husband and a few friends, I soldiered on, dutifully marking down one, two, three, a dozen doctor appointments on my calendar, wishing for a name for what was wrong with me, because I was starting to think maybe it was all in my head after all.  How could I hurt so badly but no one could find anything wrong?  How could I look fine, but feel so miserable?

Finally, at long last, I have an answer.  I've had to spend some time wrapping my brain around it before writing about it because it can change my entire life. 

There is indeed a certain freedom of spirit in knowing the name of your fear because knowing the name means I can get treated.  In my case, my fear has two names -- lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects skin, blood, joints, and/or kidneys, causing inflammation and pain.  It's not contagious (so please hug me when you see me!), and while there's no cure, there are treatments.  Lots of people have it, and during my long search for "what's wrong with me?", lupus was one of the things I wondered about.  So I was prepared to hear that.

What I wasn't prepared for, though, was the additional diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.  This has been harder for me to make peace with.  

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is also a chronic autoimmune disease with no known cure but treatments available.  It causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints.   It is really a rotten thing to have happen to your body, but for me, it's losing function in my hands that has me reeling.  While we've apparently caught it early, I have to understand that I could lose the ability to do things like beading, playing piano, typing, handling a kayak paddle ... the mind boggles.

At first I was angry.  Then sad.  Then angry again.  

Now I'm ready to fight it.

My way of dealing with bad news is to consider all the worst case scenarios first.  This may sound defeatist and all sorts of wrong, but if I'm prepared, if I know what the worst can be, I can process it, then shelve it and move forward.  If I know what the worst can be, then I'm happy and pleased when things turn out for the better.  And if they DO happen to go wrong, I'm not caught unaware and can deal with things much better.

This could actually all be a good thing for me.  People talk all the time about living each day as if it were your last, but rarely do.  However, when you're faced with the very real news that your ability to do the things you love is going to be challenged, it suddenly takes on an entirely new meaning.  I've made a list of things I MUST do, things I WANT to do, and things that can wait because they just aren't that important any more.  I was going to start teaching Zack piano this summer -- must do.  I want to learn to juggle and play the guitar -- better start.  I want to, I want to, I must....


I've already started spitting in the eye of the bad news and creating a new life.  Yesterday, my friend called me up.  Our kids were out of school for the day, so why not try out that new indoor trampoline park we'd been talking about all year?

Oh, absolutely.  Grab the car keys, baby, we're there.  Sure my body aches.  But I don't care today.

When I paid for our entrance to the park, the cashier asked if I was going to jump, too.  It took me no time at all to decide.

"Yes.  Yes, I am."

I'm paying for it today with more pain than usual, but I don't care.  I was a cool mom, I giggled, I enjoyed my life for that hour in the park, bouncing and watching my son laugh and run with friends.  The irony didn't escape me that this, THIS was an entirely different type of jumping.  This time, the decision to jump was a good one, a healthy one, and a proud one.

One day I may have to sit on the sidelines, but not today.  

Not. Today.

Tuesday I go back to the doctor to start a treatment plan.  I have no idea what life is going to be like now, but I'm ready.  It's not always going to be easy, but I'm ready.

I'm jumping in with both feet to take control of my life back.

Hug the ones you love.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.