Friday, July 30, 2010

The Abandoned Church

Today I sat down to blog and realized -- I have nothing interesting to say. I usually have blog topics running around all the time, but today, nothing.

So I went for a stroll through my picture files and decided I'd pull a photo or two and see if they would inspire thought.

These photos are ones I took at an abandoned church about 15 minutes from where I live. The church is right on the edge of the river (I mean, RIGHT on the edge), and since the church was built of stone, almost before they were completed building, the foundation began to sink. It was in use for a short while, but nature took over.

While wandering (very carefully) around the perimeter of the church, I was struck with how quiet it was, and how peaceful. I think it would be a great place to pray, or meditate, or just think.

I tend to make up stories in my head, have probably written several novels in the confines of my own brain. It's a past-time that helped me through my childhood and on into adult life -- dreaming and imagining.

I found what I called a grotto in one wall, and wondered what used to be in it.

Maybe it wasn't a grotto, maybe it was just a hole in the wall, but imagination is a powerful thing. Influenced by the stacks of novels I've read about medieval times, full of intrigues and liaisons and unrequited love, I dreamed up this church set in a forest, almost the way it is now. A secret place where lords schemed and lovers met.

Even the trees were being taken over by nature. Huge, tall trees covered in ivy and thick vines -- still standing, refusing to be overtaken.

Around the corner, I found a surprise, a statue, surrounded by a lake of ivy.

I couldn't make my way over all that ivy (you wouldn't believe how deep it was) so I have no idea who the saint is. I think of him as Saint Abandoned.

In a world that sometimes seems to revolve around the Internet and emails, Twitter and Facebook, I wonder if people still seek out private, quiet places to just .... be.

Thanks for taking this tour with me.

Lori Anderson makes jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs and also writes for the blog An Artists Year Off.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meet Barbara Lewis of Painting With Fire Artwear!

(photo by Barbara Lewis)

One of the hottest things in the beading world right now is enamels, and Barbara Lewis of Painting with Fire Artwear is the veritable queen! I was really lucky to take one of her classes months ago, and she's not kidding when she says if you take her class, you'll leave with TONS of beads!

Barbara has just announced that she's been asked to teach at the Hampton, VA Art and Soul Retreat (congrats to Barbara!) but I can't wait that long. I'm planning on taking her class again (because I tend to burn things to a crisp on my dual fuel torch, and need to try to figure things out in a different manner) at Maryland Hall, which is in Annapolis, MD. So if you're not doing anything October 23rd, I hope to see you there!!!

Barbara's beads can be bought at her Etsy shop, and if she also sells tutorials, enamels, and torch set-ups as well.

I hope to see some of you in October!

Lori Anderson designs jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs, and also writes for the blog An Artist's Year Off. She lives in Maryland.

How to Store Your Art Supplies Artistically

Head on over to Art Bead Scene and read my latest on "How to Store Your Art Supplies Artistically".

Click here to read!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs and also writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review -- One Day

One DayOne Day by David Nicholls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This one reminded me of "The Time Traveler's Wife" without all the time travel.

Two people meet the day of graduation, knowing they are to set out on their separate ways the next day. What follows is a visitation of their lives over the next 20 years, each July 15. The events that occur in between are what made this book hard to put down, and in fact are the reason I needed extra caffeine after a long night of reading.

I loved the book -- highly recommended.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Christmas and Holiday Beading

Oh wow, yesterday's blog was a doozie, wasn't it? Thanks for all the Comment Love (you have no idea what your comments mean to me) and I promise I'll keep my venting to a minimum because this blog is called "Pretty Things" not "My Life is Crap Right Now". That would not be a blog worth reading.

So on to the topic -- Christmas and Holiday Beading. Can you believe I've already started?

My holiday beading usually starts in the summer, so I don't let time sneak up on me and Woah Nelly, I'm frantic to churn things out. I've found that as early as my September shows, people will ask if I have Christmas tree earrings or snowflake jewelry. I even had a customer in July catch me as I was setting up for a show and ask if I'd brought any Christmas stuff with me, and she ended up buying half of what I had. So you never know.

This is what my table looked like last year as I was moving along the winter path. Lots of snowflakes, some adorable handmade snowmen from Moonraker Lampwerks, and penguins that I added scarves to.

One thing to keep in mind when making holiday jewelry is a variety of price points. My Christmas tree earrings in Swarovski crystal are $15 and they fly off the rack. I think I sold 200 pairs of those at shows and galleries last year. With the economy what it is, that price was just right. I did buy the beads in bulk, so this year, I don't have to buy ANY more beads for this style. If you're at all able to, buy as many of a repeatable component as you can -- it works out in the long run. On the other end of the spectrum, I make some over-the-top snowflake charm bracelets that go for around $125. Basically -- know your customer.

Also, remember to make non-denominational jewelry. Snowflakes, snowmen and snowgirls are a great example of this type of holiday jewelry.

I also found out from a Jewish friend that finding Hanukkah jewelry is next to impossible to find at a craft show. So with her help, I made these, using the Star of David in pewter and the colors of the Israeli flag.

(Star of David pewter charms from Quest Beads)

One of the best things about starting early on your holiday jewelry? If you find yourself in a rut, pull out a box that you've set aside with all your holiday jewelry components and just start working. Chances are (especially with earrings) you'll be in production mode, and that can sometimes help clear the mind.

I hope you've enjoyed our little walk down the snowy path! It's nearly 100F here and I'm about to roast, so I think I'll pull out some icy clear Swarovski crystals and see what I can make.

Lori Anderson makes jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs, and she also blogs at An Artist's Year Off. She lives in Maryland.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Vent About Migraines

(Warning -- this may be a boring post. But I'll throw some beads in at the end to make it all worthwhile, though.)

Sigh. That's an all too-common sight around here anymore -- me sacked out on the couch or in the bed, a washcloth over my eyes for darkness and an ice pack on my head for pain. (Zack took that picture and he apologizes that it's blurry. I'm IN the picture, and I apologize for being, erm, not showing my most glamorous side!).

The past two days I've been stuck in bed with horrible migraines -- but what else is new, if you've been a long-time reader? I did go to the ophthalmologist and he saw some slight swelling around the optic nerves but "nothing to be worried about". Cripes. That is exactly the reason my neurologist gave me a spinal tap a year ago.

(about pseudo tumor cerebri, also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension)

Herein lies the rant -- I no longer HAVE a neurologist. He doesn't take my insurance anymore, and the nerve-blocking shots that I was getting in my forehead and neck every two weeks are $800 a pop. No idea how much an LP would cost. Suffice it to say, paying out of pocket is more than my mortgage.

The good news is the only other neurologist that is available via our insurance is at Johns Hopkins Headache Center. The bad news is the doctor won't be able to see me until March 2011.

2011. As in, next year. In March. MARCH. 2011. Did I say next year?

So yeah. I haven't been treated since May. Other than a pill to try to keep eye pressure down.

Both my past neurologist and my husband have been doing their best to push my folder through, as the Center indicated that if they had an opening, or if they viewed my chart and decided it warranted being seen earlier (!!!!), they'd take it under consideration. Which I think means, you're kind of stuck with March, dude, because we have a lot of patients here.

So that's my rant. I'm angry that I have to deal with migraines, I'm mad that my eyes always kill me, I'm mad that it's affecting my creativity, I'm just so MAD. I want to stomp but it would hurt my head too darned much.

OK. Got that off my chest. Sorry. Deep, soothing breaths, right? OK. OK.

I can do this.

I will do this.

This will pass. Yes. It will. It has to. So, it will.

Aaaand, I promised you pictures of beads if you stuck with me, so here they are!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Beader's Creed

1. Though shalt walk through the entire bead show once before buying anything.

2. Unless, of course, you see something you can't resist.

(Libby Leuchtman beads, my first stop at my first Bead and Button years ago).

3. Though shalt not covet thy neighbor's haul.

4. Though shalt stroke the pearls as they are good.

5. Though shalt break out the plastic, as you did not bring enough cash.

6. Though shalt share thy haul online with your beady friends.

(My own beads from a bead show a long while back.)

7. Though shalt repeat as necessary. Or as often as a show comes in town.

And that's just a few!

Happy shopping (and remember The Beader's Creed)!

(and a little PS - I ALWAYS break Rule #1. Always.
Spank me with a strand of tourmaline.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Become Truly Great

I found this quotation and posted it on my Facebook and thought it was too wonderful not to share here as well. I think they're terrific words to live by, don't you? It's so easy to forget this when we're wrapped up in our own little world.
“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.”
-- Charles de Montesquieu

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glass Rod Storage and the Joy of Color

First, there's some back story.

I have a studio that used to be a shed. It was modified within an inch of its life with insulation, a small A/C unit, an extra window -- as much as you could do to make a nice lampwork studio. You can click here to see it in progress and here to see it finished.

This year, we finally decided once and for all we are NOT going to move and decided to just go ahead and renovate the house, building on an addition to the back of the house. This just started a few weeks ago, and while it's still hot as Hades outside, there have been some times I've wanted to go out in the evening and make some beads.

But this is what I face every day.

Look at all that dirt. And you can imagine, with the dry weather we've been having around Maryland, that it's been getting into everything. I walk to the studio and my sandals are full up with good ol' dust and dirt.

Enter the problem.

My studio is open to the contractors every day. All day. Because of this.

I have great electricity in my studio -- there are two separate breakers that run in there. And they NEED those outlets for all the power gizmos they use. They DO. I would no sooner tell them to shut my shed than I would tell my best friend to jump off the Bay Bridge. Instead, I decided I had to get creative in order to keep the glass I have in storage as dust-free as possible (the stuff on the desk is just going to have to be cleaned as I go).

I TOTALLY lucked out a year ago in Pennsylvania at an antique/junk store and found an old oak post office sorting stand -- the sort of thing that usually sits on a table and the mail got stuck in all the slots. I walked around and around that beautiful thing (it was huge!) but couldn't find a price. "No price, probably too expensive" I thought. But I couldn't stand it, and when the owner walked by, I had to ask. "Weeeeeel," he said, stretching his back and cocking his head, "I guess I could give it to you for $100."

SOLD! I couldn't even have bought the oak for that price. That sorting shelf BARELY fit in my van -- we took a thin bit of both oak AND van off each side and three men wrestled it in. But isn't it the coolest? And how about those COLORS? All of that is CiM glass, which I love beyond distraction, even though I'm still such, such a novice. I get happy just resorting the stuff.

But remember the curtains I'd originally hung to cover shelving? Half the shelving got ditched in lieu of my new rod storage, and I almost got rid of the curtains. But hey -- guess what? They cover the front of that mail sorter perfectly. Dust? Not a problem.

Problem solved. I'm still going to have to do a major dust-down each time I go in to torch, but all that glass is for the most part safe and sound. And I'm still surrounded by what I love best -- color.

Lori Anderson designs jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs and also writes for the blog An Artist's Year Off. She works in Maryland.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Floridity -- Helping Me Continue the Bead Soup Blog Party Idea

I absolutely love the Bead Soup Blog Party idea. I wanted it to help bloggers, old and new, to connect with one another, introduce new bead shops, and above all, to push artists (97 last time!) beyond their normal designing boundaries.

This year, I've had a lot of trouble finding my way. I've wanted to experiment with new types of beads and in new ways, but I've been sluggish, falling back into my old patterns.

So, I decided that I'd pay a bead maker once a month to send me a bunch of beads, sight unseen, and I'd have my own private Bead Soup Blog Party.

This month, I paid Barbara Bechtel of Floridity, a phenomenal polymer clay artist, to send me some goodies. The lovely thing about this? She was going to send me some things from her brand new line!

These are from her brand new Whisper Collection. Barbara says they're inspired by nature, poetry, and traditional mark-making. Each one is drawn and etched one and a time, and I'm thrilled to get them. I'm imagining pulling out some of my CiM Sepia glass to make some little beads to go with them.

The next set of beads she sent are from her Breeze Collection. I am in love with the bird! These just scream spring and summer to me. Not quite sure yet what I'll do with these, but that's the point, isn't it?

I don't quite know when I'll have these made up into jewelry and posted, but I have given myself to the end of August, since I got a wonky start and want to have a new artist for an entire full month.

Floridity's shop button is over on the right side of the blog, and here are her other sites... I hope you'll frequent them, and tell her Lori sent you!

Barbara Bechtel, Floridity


Jewelry and Beads:

Vintage and Paper Goods:


Lori Anderson designs jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs and also writes for the blog An Artist's Year Off. She lives in Maryland.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Which I am Overwhelmed

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the number of comments, emails, and e-cards that I received about my loss of Buddy. I've tried to email and comment back to let you know how much I appreciated it, but if I missed you, it was totally my fault, so I'll say it now -- thank you from the bottom of my heart.

After a few days hiding in bed, reading, crying, cuddling Max, and talking to my husband, I pulled myself out of it enough to take Zack to the mall yesterday to buy a new Lego set (but then promptly went back to bed. I guess I wasn't QUITE ready).

The thing that IS almost ready is my new web site. I'm really excited about showing you the NEW Lori Anderson Designs, and I hope you'll love it. It's been designed by a fabulous company, Quirky Bird, and since January we've been working on design boards, all the gizmos that go on behind the scenes, a killer front page, and now, it's up to me to put in all the products (so the new web site won't launch for a couple of weeks -- at least, that's the plan). And what products I'm entering! Not only transferring over unsold items, but putting in NEW and EXCITING items the likes of which you've not seen!

I'm also going to have some new items for the Awareness section, including these Breast Cancer Awareness stitch markers for those knitters out there. Wouldn't these make a great gift?

Anyway. Thank you again for all your support and for sharing your stories. They won't be forgotten.

Love, Lori

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Loss of a Good Friend

This is going to be a hard post to write.

Yesterday, I lost a beloved pet -- not just a pet, but a friend who has been with me literally half my life. My sweet Himalayan, Buddy.

Buddy has been with me through thick and thin, and was a constant companion in my life. He's traveled between colleges, homes, and cities with no complaints. He loved to have his head and ears scrubbed hard with my knuckles, and if I let up, he'd head-butt my chin, as if to say, "Hey, you, *I* rule the roost here!"

Buddy's death wasn't unexpected. He's nearly 20 years old, and has been diabetic and half blind for a long time. But the final straw was the vet telling us that Buddy was in renal failure, and that he could last days, weeks, or a few months, and that we should be prepared to have to make a hard decision down the road.

I was devastated. This cat, who had always been so robust, was going to slow down. "Impossible!" I thought. But it was true. We watched him go from 13 pounds to 7. We went to the vet every week. Each time we felt it was time to make that horrible decision, Buddy would rally, perking up, begging for special treats, and becoming more social. And another week would pass.

This past weekend, we had to take care of some family business out of town and boarded the cats at the vet. They have a "kitty condo", so both cats could be together, which was great, as our other cat, Max, has a nervous temperament. We called every day to see how they were, and Buddy was doing just fine, until the day we were coming home. We called, and were given the news -- Buddy was gone.

Apparently when they came in that morning, he wasn't acting himself, and they put him on oxygen, but it went rapidly downhill after that and his heart just gave out. I think he'd given out all the love he had and knew it was finally OK to go.

Although I've cried my eyes out and feel completely lost without him -- still looking around the house expecting to see him -- I know it all happened in the best way. He was in good hands, and I know he was well loved by us and he gave that love back ten-fold. He had a very long, good life, and I have a ton of memories of him. One memory is his little paw print -- the vet printed it for us.

I wrote this as a way to free my heart a little -- to help it let Buddy go. I'm sorry if I upset anyone or brought back bad memories for anyone. I just needed to say goodbye.

And with that, the tears start again, so I'll sign off.

Love, Lori

Friday, July 09, 2010

Book Review -- The Earring Style Book

You can read my review of this divine new book, " The Earring Style Book", by Stephanie Wells, at Art Bead Scene . It's unlike any other earring book you've ever read, and I highly recommend it! It's not out in stores yet, but you CAN preorder it.

Click on over to ArtBeadScene to read my review!

Lori Anderson makes jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs and also writes for the blog An Artists Year Off.