Friday, December 31, 2010

End of December's Cup of Bead Soup

It's that time -- time to say goodbye to this month's awesome Cup of Bead Soup contributor, Summers Studio!  Throughout this month, I've made some really cool creations with her ceramic and Bronze Metal Clay goodies:

This certainly won't be the last time I create with Leann's beads, and I hope you'll visit her store and blog:

January there won't be a Cup of Bead Soup because we're having the infamous


Click the photo or click here and you'll see ALL the details, updated with photos and everything.  Grab the button for your blog, announce it on your beading forums and blog, and keep up to date on the new Facebook page,  Don't miss this one!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

One Last Fun Post for the Holiday Season

I wish I'd seen this sooner, but what better way to ring out the year than with the silent monks singing "Hallelujah"?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A little bit random

Today  is a little bit random.  

* I have 112 emails in my Inbox that need attention as I was out of town a couple of days.

* I'm very distracted and sad because one of my best friends, mentor, and surrogate mom is critically ill.  She and her husband both have been fighting cancer and now, now she has pneumonia.  That wouldn't sound so bad except she also has congestive heart failure and is allergic to most medications that will help her.  She's won SO many battles.  So has her husband.  They've beaten SO many odds.  I pray she'll beat another one.  

photography by Barbara Hickson

* Even though the holiday season is essentially over, I've still been making custom jewelry.  I'm busy, but I'm still finding myself wandering into my bedroom hours before bedtime and reading, reading, reading.

* Our living room furniture is still not here.  Nope.  Ordered in October.  Promised in November.  Postponed yet again just yesterday until January 9th.  This time, Rick asked if the furniture even existed.

* A stocking full of chocolate + lots of naps + snow + no gym = hatred of zippers.

* I'm looking at the clock and thinking I'm not good right now for much else other than a bath and a book and bed.

Signing off for now.  Hug your loved ones.

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Artist's Year Off -- The Year End Wrap Up

On January 1st, 2010, I started a blog called An Artist's Year Off.  I made it to chronicle my journey through a year of learning new skills while taking time off from five years of a grueling craft show schedule.

Today I wrapped up the blog.  If you'd like to catch up with me, click here and join me!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas at Pretty Things

It's been a Merry Christmas at Pretty Things.

Rick's older boys drove in a couple days prior, much to the abject joy of Zack, and as at Thanksgiving, they prepared a Christmas Eve feast of turkey, the best mashed potatoes this side of I-don't-know-where, and my favorite -- jalapeno mac-and-cheese.  After dinner the three boys played games together and I basked in the realization that I had absolutely not a thing to do.

The tree in the new addition, the library part of the living room.

Christmas morning, everyone met around the tree and I sat with Zack to watch his face light up at his toys.  He totally charmed me with his Zack-ness when he cracked open a geode I'd bought for him on a bead shopping trip I'd made with Cindy.  (Sigh.  I couldn't wait to give it to him for his birthday).

Zack opened it and was enthralled by the amethyst inside.  Then he looked up and said, "I want to give a half to Ryan and a half to Colin.  Is that ok?"

So that was his present to them.

A gift we'd given to Zack ended up being a present for all the boys -- a huge Lego house kit.  I was in my office puttering around when I heard the three of them happily opening bags and divvying out parts.  They decided who would get Bag 1, Bag 2, and Bag 3, and then looked to see what they got.


Zack:  "Colin, are you jealous I got all the (enter cool neat parts)."

Colin (who is 25):  "Well... yeah, a little!"

finished Green Grocer

The detail is amazing!

Rick surprised me with a couple of things I'd written about in my blog (one thing we'd BOTH actually purchased within days of each other, and the astute seller caught it, so thankfully, I only have one).  To prove again how well we know each other, a couple of days ago I received an order from a book club I belong to and I showed him one of the books....

... and he winced and said, "Can you send that back and act surprised when you get it again?"  I didn't have this book on any wish list at all, but Rick got it because he knew I liked WWII history.  Score one for Rick!

Score ten million for Rick on my other two presents.  Remember my epic blog post about our trip to the Mercersburg Inn and our antique shopping, and my discovering a tiny accordion-style camera?  Rick spent ages on Ebay finding me two others, both serious collector's items.

This one was made by Kodak between 1927-1933 and is called a vanity camera, in that it was made for women, made in colors, and came in a pretty case.  Mine came with the case embossed with the owner's name.  

Then he found another rarity, a Kodak Boy Scout camera, complete with the case and manual -- a real find.  It was made specifically for the Boy Scouts in 1930.

We were supposed to head to Pennsylvania today, but it's snowing, so we're spending a lovely day at home.  I'm catching up on pre-taxes paperwork (the first time I'll be ready ahead of time, an awesome feeling), writing, organizing, and basically feeling peace and calm.  

Peace and calm are all I wanted for Christmas.  I've had Christmases spent overseas, alone in the military; I've had one sadly memorable Christmas abjectly alone in my first house in Charlottesville; so I know the opposite of peace and calm, and my heart is with anyone feeling those things right now.  The holidays can be tough in innumerable ways for many.  So for everyone, no matter how you spent your holiday, know that my heart is beaming out to you, and my wish for you is a new year of happiness and light.

Christmas ornament Rick gave me for our first Christmas together.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Friday, December 24, 2010

OCD Santa

from The New Yorker

Oh, I can so relate.  It's great to be in good company.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Glitter Me Up, Secret Santa, and the Secret Elf Wrapping Room

Zack and I had a majorly fun craft project involving copious amounts of glitter and heavy-duty kraft paper ornament bases from one of my favorite stores, Paper Source.  The idea was to apply glue, sprinkle glitter to cover the paper, and there you go.


I soon discovered for maximum coverage, we had to shake shake shake that glitter like a parmesan cheese fanatic over a pizza.  The result?  Glittery, yes, but really, really fuzzy glitter.  We ended up flocking the danged things.

We're afraid to pick them up!  Glitter overboard!  Glitter everywhere!  On the floor.  On the cat.   On our non-existent living room furniture.  But by Maude, they're glittery and we had fun.  And I still have glitter in places glitter has no business being.

I also participated in the Secret Santa exchange via lillyella.  I received two fabulous presents in a beautiful gift bag from Bonnie Jobe of Farmgirl Musings.  Just take a look at the lovely gift bag!

Oooh, but let's take a closer look -- that bird has a real feather!

How clever is that?  I adore packaging like this.  To me, it says, "I care and take pride in what I make, and about YOU."  So when I package my jewelry, I like to pretty it up, too.

So what was inside?  First, a divine evening bag she made.

That rose is to DIE for, isn't it? And I love pearls.  I have NO evening bags, and end up handing Rick things to shove in his jacket pockets when we go out, so I'm very happy with my present!

But wait!  There's more!

She made me fingerless gloves!  (And look at that CARD!).  Now, the reason I'm so gaga over the gloves is because my hands freeze, but I hate putting on gloves because my cuticles are an absolute mess from making jewelry.  Dragging cloth over them is like torture.  And while I know how to knit, and Before Jewelry I knitted sweaters copiously, I have only knitted one fingerless glove.  Not a pair.  One glove.  And it didn't fit.  I must have bound it off wrong or just am a major backwards screw-up (I can make a cable sweater, but not a fingerless glove?) so I gave up.

Lots of excitement over these lovelies.  Many, many thanks to Bonnie!

Now -- what about the Secret Elf Wrapping Room?

unknown source
This morning, Zack said he heard "lots of noise" coming from our old bedroom upstairs, but the door was shut.  "But Mom," he said, "the lights were on!"

Darn.  I thought he was asleep when I was holed up wrapping presents and watching reruns of "The Office".  Elves like to watch Dwight Shrute, right?

"Ah,"  I said.  "That must have been the Christmas Elves."

"Do what?"  he asked with that look on his face.  You know that look.  It's the look that says, "I'm pretty sure you're pulling my leg, but I hope you're really not because this sounds kind of cool."

"Oh yeah, Christmas Elves," I continued nonchalantly.  "Where do you think the elves wrap Christmas presents?  Santa's got to have some pick-up stations along the way, you know, um, in case of accidents."

"Soooo," I said, "Only adults can go in that room, now that the door is closed.  OK?"

He solemnly nodded.  I know my boy.  He won't peek.  So I relented.  

"Well.  If you promise not to tell, and they aren't there, I can let you have a QUICK peek."

So I knocked.  No answer.  I cracked the door, and Zack peered in, then jumped back.

"Woah,"  he said in a hushed voice.

photo via Paper Source

Score one for Mom.  And the elves.  

And let's hope Santa has a spare in the trunk.


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.

Join her at the Facebook group Bead Soup Cafe for bead chat, swaps, challenges, and lots of eye candy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cup of Bead Soup last reveal #3 -- Summers Studio -- AND Bead Soup Blog Party!

Today I'm revealing the last piece of Summers Studio's Cup of Bead Soup contribution -- my favorite piece of her Bronze Metal Clay.

As you all know, I love Bead Soup.  I had a small collection of pretty and unusual bead soup and snippets of brass chain similar to this from Ornamentea.  Rather than use brass wire, I used some chocolate brown Parawire and copper jump rings to give a subtle color shift.  

And here's what I came up with...

I carried the floral theme of the pendant into the necklace with a few dangling flowers and a leaf, and tied the varied colors together with Purple Velvet Swarovski crystals.

Why does this make me think of Happy Hippy Chick?  I don't know, but I know I love the idea of it.  This is a jeans and t-shirt, flowing skirt and blouse type of necklace, I feel.  But you can wear it any way you want!

I really hope you've enjoyed this Cup of Bead Soup -- we're ending it early due to the holidays.  January there won't be a Cup of Bead Soup because we're having the 


Click the photo or click here and you'll see ALL the details, updated with photos and everything.  Grab the button for your blog, announce it on your beading forums and blog, and keep up to date on the new Facebook page,  Don't miss this one!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Auction Winner

Melissa Stardy, you're the winner -- please contact me via the email in my profile within the next two days.  After that, I'll contact the next winner up. 


Monday, December 20, 2010

An Auction to Help an Artist in Need

Imagine if, as a young child, you couldn't hear.

Imagine if, as you grew up and decided to go to college, you decided on pursuing the visual arts.

Emilie Gossiaux is such a person.  

Attending Cooper Union School of Art in Manhattan, she flourished.  But this came to an end on October 8th when she was struck while riding her bike by an 18-wheeler.
Emilie Gossiaux
Her injuries are horrific.  However, the worst thing -- she not only can't hear. 

She is now blind as well.

You can read more about Emilie by clicking here.  There's a link where you can donate if you like, and an Etsy shop where you can either purchase things other artists have donated or offer to donate your own art to help with the major hospital bills.

I am going to auction off this necklace to raise money for Emilie's medical bills.  

About the necklace:

The handmade frosted glass heart measures 1.25" tall and looks like an artist's drawing.  Matching handmade glass beads -- 10mm frosted cubes and two-toned disks capped in decorative pewter -- march up the sides. 

I made the remainder of the necklace by linking lots of lightweight aluminum rings together to create a fringy chain.

The beaded section is 9".  The necklace is 20" long and closes with a toggle clasp; however, I can adjust the length and the closure upon request.

Here's how it works.

I'm starting the bidding at $25.

Put a comment in with your bid.

Please keep in mind I'm not at my computer every minute to get all the comments through as soon as you post, but I will do my best to stay on top of this.


Let's help someone.

(If you feel like sharing this on your blog, that'd be great.  I know money is tight these days -- even beaming out good thoughts will help her.)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Let's Go Bead Shopping

I took a much-needed trip yesterday two hours down the road to pick up my friend Cindy Wimmer of Sweetbead Studio and head to an enormous bead show.  I honestly didn't need to buy anything, but I really needed the girl-time and a diversion in the shape of a bead show was just too hard to resist.

My own stash of larimar.

I take it back.  I did need one bead.  Over the summer, I'd made Zack a necklace with an Ojime bead featuring a pair of turtles.  Ojime beads are intricately hand-carved boxwood beads from Japan, and I picked the turtle bead because Zack really wanted a real turtle but that just wasn't going to happen.

Unfortunately, the necklace met its demise when Zack took it off, was holding it while in the school bathroom, and dropped it in an automatic flush toilet.  He was devastated when he got home -- "Mom, that was so special to me!" so I waited for this show to hand-pick another one.  Here it is.

I got him a little turtle ornament for the tree to go in the box with the necklace, too -- I think he'll like that.

Cindy and I did a LOT of ooohing and aaaahing over things but mostly spent time talking and walking and catching up.  She introduced me to a COOL vendor who sells geodes, both held together with a rubber band AND uncracked, perfect for the boys.  I snagged one for Zack to open on his birthday.

While standing in line at a vendor stand, my eye started wandering and lit upon a lovely fat strand of glass pearls.  I'm used to seeing these 16mm pearls in the traditional round shape, but these?  Jelly beans.  The ultimate impulse buy.  (Note to self -- when standing in line, keep those eyes FORWARD, m'k?)

There's a Turkish silver vendor I never miss -- White Cloud.  Their silver is always more expensive than traditional Bali silver but they have pieces I don't see everywhere else, so to me, it's worth it.  But folks?  This is 27.00 of silver.

To put size into perspective, the rectangles are 20mm tall.  

Here are two tips when buying silver (and click here to see the live silver price, to keep you gasping).  One, check the beads carefully to make sure there's no damage to the design.  Two, check to make sure both holes are HOLES.  Nothing worse than coming home only to find out that one hole is filled in with silver.  And is that hole going to be big enough for the wire you want to put through it?

OK.  Last thing to show you.  I'd seen this sort of pendant this spring at BeadFest, but finally bought one.  This is a bonded piece of amazonite and Red Creek Jasper.

Are these two natural gemstones?  Yes.  Did they naturally occur attached together?  No.  Do I care?  Heck no.  I just love the look.  You can do some cool things with gemstones.  Just look up "red creek jasper intarsia" and you'll see some amazing picture frame-style pendants.

My two-hour drive home alone was good -- I alternately cranked music or turned it completely off.  I came home, took a long soak, and skipped dinner in lieu of going to bed early with a book.  I had a complete escapist day, and honestly?  I think everyone needs one now and then, don't you?

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cup of Bead Soup reveal #2.5 -- Summers Studio

Today I'm revealing more of the lovely ceramic beads made by Leann of Summers Studio.  I'm really quite pleased with this offering and hope you are, too!

For this piece, I decided to use the ceramic heart and the matching set of ceramic beads Leann sent.  I also decided use one of Susan Lenart Kazmar's  Industrial Chic links from the pile I've been hoarding.  Then I pulled out my box of wood beads I've collected from Beads and Pieces.  I've been working more with wood lately for the fall and like how a few pieces here and there can really add that certain "something" to a piece.

Here you go:

"Exclusive Heart"
Let's break it down.

One side of the necklace features five of the 12mm ceramic beads, capped with a tiny piece of wood I rescued from a vintage necklace.  The wood is as tiny as a seed bead.  Along the other side, I used one ceramic bead, a couple of faux bone beads, and one of Susan Lenart Kazmer's links.  The word in the resin isn't complete, but you can tell when you hold it that it would say "exclusive".  And just like I did with the first necklace I made with Summers Studio's beads, I made a hook-and-eye clasp to fit into the chain that will go around the back of your neck.

You can't see it, but there's a "c" before the "lusive" on the SLK link.  

So there you have it -- "Exclusive Heart" -- ready to find a home.

Now comes the "0.5" part of the post.  Leann didn't send this baby owl bead to me, but I bought it a long time ago and it's what attracted me to her store in the first place, so I had to share.  As you can see way above in her shop ad, the owl is a talisman of sorts for her, and something she's known for.  About 20mm tall, it's the perfect size for a bracelet bead.

"Owl Be There"
Once again, a piece of wood, and a single lampwork bead by Dora Schubert compliment the owl.  So, this is where my love for Summers Studio started!

With the holidays upon us, Leann's Etsy shop is on vacation, but with a click of a button, you can be notified when she returns!  Buy a few beads and join in the fun!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Thank you

swimming to the surface.... (source unknown)
A quick note to say thank you to all of you who sent such wonderful wishes via comments and email.  

After re-reading what I wrote yesterday, it sounded like I was basically complaining about having no furniture, but believe me, that's not what it was about.  I guess I just fixed on my Type A tendencies because I can't really talk about the true fears and stresses I have for my son, among other things.  

It's easy to write about bad customer service, but when trying to put into words the deepest hurts and fears that live in the heart -- no, not just the heart, but the soul -- it's  really tough to do.  It's tough to know where the line is.

Thank you again, and back to Pretty Things.  Stay tuned for the next Cup of Bead Soup!

The Winner of the Metal Beads (and redraw on the winner)...

(back to your regularly scheduled programming....)

The winner of the metal beads from Auntie's Beads is 

and since I never heard back from my email or posts from the winner of the necklace, I drew again, and the new winner is...

Congratulations, and contact me with your mailing address if I don't contact you first!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Please help me. If you would.

I try my hardest to keep this blog as upbeat as possible.  Occasionally I indulge in wallowing in self-pity and as a writer, that's cathartic, and it usually snaps me out of whatever funk I'm in.  But this time, I feel I'm in pretty deep and I could use some help.

I know that not everyone prays, but I think everyone has a substitute -- meditating, candle-lighting, sending out white light -- what have you.  I'm incredibly liberal when it comes to religion and belief systems and cross over into several myself and I believe the simple power of positive thoughts beaming a person's way can do wonders.

Can you beam some this way?

I've hesitated to write much about what I've been feeling these past few months.  Part of it is my trying to maintain that positive outlook because I want this blog to be a welcome place for people to come and enjoy a moment of their day, find Pretty Things and leave feeling refreshed.  It humbles and honors me to no end the number of people who visit.  Follower numbers mean nothing.  I look at the statistics behind the scene and there are so. very. many. silent readers and I'm blown away.  I'm not sure what it is about this place, but I'm trying to keep it up.

I do have friends I've shared my fears with, friends who have been invaluable rocks to me.  Some things I feel should NOT be put out in public, and my complete and forever thanks to those who've talked me down from the precipice. You know who you are, and without you, I wouldn't be maintaining.

So why am I here, writing this entry, putting out on the wild, wide, foreverness of the internet even a portion of my sorrows?  Because I know I can't be the only one who feels scared and alone, and I want you ALL to know that you have a friend in me.  We've never met, probably, but I do have an email in my profile, and it's there so you can use it.  Sharing helps.

What I need prayers for first and foremost is my seven-year old little boy.  I don't want to go into it because I believe that certain things are sacrosanct and shouldn't be blogged about.  But I do need the prayers, especially today, so if you have the time, please pray for him.

Secondly, pray for me.  For the past few months, my stress level has brought me to where I'm hanging on by a fast unraveling thread. 

I think I have a certain level of OCD, and I like things to be in their place.  Not lined up to a 90° angle on the table, but in their place.  I about went nuts when our addition was being built, but it's been done since October, and thanks to Ashley Furniture, they've so royally messed up our furniture order they've ruined not just Thanksgiving but now will ruin Christmas by not delivering our furniture when they said they would. Corporate tells us one thing.  Local tells us another.  Both apparently are lying.  Bottom line -- no furniture.  So we have a mess STILL in this house, and it's making me twitchy and anxious and upset.  And the only thing that has helped at ALL is hitting Twitter and getting Ashley Furniture Corporate's attention.

Then came two unexpected shows in December.  I never do shows in December.  Ever.  I stop after Thanksgiving.  But one show I always do had its date moved and I was personally invited to another, so there you go.  And now my office is full of boxes up to my waist. The only room in the house that is normal is my bedroom.  And I can't just up and abandon my family all day just because chaos and disorder upsets me.  And no matter how I move the boxes around, it just results in a new pile of chaos.  There's just no place to PUT anything.

Stress brings on headaches.  My migraines are back with a vengeance.  Click that link and you'll see what I'm up against.  I FINALLY have an appointment in January with Johns Hopkins (I've been waiting since June) to see if they can help.  But I also will have surgery for an unrelated matter scheduled around then, too.  Moses pass the roses but when will this stop?  I feel like I can't move without some part of me crapping out.

I can't show my stress due to Zack being so close to me.  So I hide it.  Hiding it makes me feel like a big ball of tears and tension.  I don't have the time or the luxury of having a good cry because I have so. much. to do.  There are appointments and deadlines and web updates and packages to ship and a house (such as it is) to clean for guests and Zack to worry about and I am losing my ever loving mind, and dear readers -- I'm afraid I'm going to snap in two.

Today is a Very Bad Day.  Zack has a Very Important Day and I'm a mess.  Yet I still have my responsibilities and none of them can be done by anyone else.  And I'm falling apart.

I'll eventually be fine.

But I need your help.  I need your prayers.  Your white light.  Your zen.

If you feel so inclined, I'd be forever in your debt.  And trust that my heart is here for you should you ever need it.  Even though we know each other only from words, my words are true from my heart.

I promise my future blogs will be back to normal.

Thank you for reading.

With much love, Lori

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinosaurs, Gemstones, and the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

Yesterday I got to chaperon my son's second grade class to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.  The class is studying various periods of the dinosaurs, so after the kids got all their classwork done, we all split into groups and explored the museum.

As a family, we've all hit the various museums of the Smithsonian frequently and with fervor.  We're all about that sort of thing.  But there's always something new to see, and seeing it with friends makes it much more fun!

On our way out, Zack said hello and thank you to Prehistoric Man.

 Next, Zack and I enjoyed an entire wall of seashells (these were enormous) ...

and then we all went into the butterfly exhibit, where real butterflies flew about us.

They did include a couple of luna moths among the butterflies, so I finally got to see one in real life.  Gorgeous.  (I think you'll get a bigger picture if you click on it.  I think).

Then Zack insisted on seeing the Hope Diamond (I've taught him well) and we had a long conversation about how diamonds and sapphires and others stones can be different colors, not just their "traditional colors".  We saw an enormous outcropping of amethyst...

and an exceptional specimen of Argentinian rhodochrosite, which was between three and four feet tall.

Then Zack got stopped in his tracks by an enormous wall of quartz. 

By far, my favorite special exhibit was the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef.  I'd read in the Etsy Forums about a few artisans participating in this HUGE project (taller than two of me, at least, for the main exhibit), and if you click the link above, you can learn how to contribute, how to learn to make things like this, and more about the project.  In a nutshell, it's an enormous coral reef made mostly out of yarn.  Please forgive my photos -- the lighting wasn't with me.  But enjoy.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.