Monday, January 31, 2011

More Vintage Things I Love

In my last post, I talked about some of the vintage things I've collected in my home.  Today I'm going to show you some of the vintage things I'm in love with that unfortunately belong to other people (and I'm pouting about that.  No.  I'll be nice.  Wait.  NO.  I'm pouting.)


Source.  Seriously, if anyone has vintage tins to sell, email me!!!!

Source.  I imagine this as the kitchen to my Writer's Cabin, my getaway in Maine, my unwinding space.

Source.  I have a pearl one from my grandmother.  This one is from the '50s. 

Source.  And my Great White Whale, the thing I just can't find -- the pink typewriter.       

I must own one.  Yes.  I must.

I hope you enjoyed my vintage wishes (and seriously -- vintage tins? I'm all over that with cash money -- I have a cabinet full of them, looking just like I opened an old soup kitchen in my office) and maybe one day, I'll find that pink typewriter, or that cabin in Maine where I'll write the Great American Novel, or have an occasion and a dress that calls for a glitzy glam collar, or go back to the good old telephones that you actually DIALED.  

Sweet dreams, everyone -- I'm off to my vintage-pretender of a tub. 

(That's my actual tub, by the way! The only thing I asked for during our entire home renovation.)

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Loving Vintage in a Modern World

I love vintage things.  Love love love.  However, I stink at making vintage jewelry, for the most part.  I've made a few pieces, but there are artists out there who make FAR better pieces than I do, so I let my vintage bead drawer sit until I get some sort of divine inspiration down the road.

Necklace made with vintage components, made by one of my favorite artists, Deryn Mentock

My house is an eclectic mix of modern, vintage, and whimsy.  We have the modern red couch (which FINALLY arrived a couple of weeks ago), as well as a modern rug.

Tucked in corners of bookcase shelves, however, are bits and pieces of the things I've found on treasure hunts. Sometimes I have no idea WHY they speak to me, like this old enamel paint can.  I found it in an antique store and carried it around for an hour while looking at other things.  I just couldn't put it down for some reason.  It had to be mine.

Some things are one-offs, but some are collections, such as these china tea cups from my dearest of dears, Allegra.

Sometimes I run out of room and just start putting things wherever there's space, mixing things up with no rhyme or reason.  I actually LIKE that style of decorating, because you never know what you'll find, and each walk through the house, each exploration for a book in the bookcase, can bring back a memory.

vintage leather camera case tucked behind a vintage milk bottle

I mix the whimsical with vintage all the time.  In my office, a funky handmade fish made by a clever friend of mine sits next to old, old photographs and vintage books.  Behind the fish is a modern purple vase and an old glass electrical insulator.

Most of the time my vintage finds stay small.  I would LOVE a Hoosier or an entire vintage kitchen, but our house is just not big enough to hold the grand pieces I inevitably fall in love with.  However, the other day I wandered into a local antique store and found an amazingly affordable cedar chest and made it mine.  I was so stinking thrilled I would have done a Happy Dance but there was snow and ice on the ground and I've broken my leg three different times so I just giggled and fist-pumped the air.

And here it sits in our bedroom, which is my "Girl Cave" -- lately, my favorite room in the house.

While writing this blog, I thought, "Wait just a second.  Make jewelry like you decorate your house!"  Now, that's a trickier thing to pull off on such a small scale -- after all, making a 7" bracelet with both whimsical and vintage pieces is an entirely different thing than decorating a 17 x 18 room!  

Of the few vintage-mixed-with-contemporary-turned-whimsical pieces I've made, these are my favorites:
pink vintage glass, contemporary brown Czech glass and chain

large vintage lucite beads with contemporary chain

vintage lucite with contemporary pewter rings

I still maintain that the vintage styles I love such as Deryn Mentock's is a style I'll buy rather than make -- it's just completely outside my creative reach.  But I'm fine with that!  I know my limits, and I look at my jewelry design as I look at my house design ... eclectic, fun to look at, and the type where you never know which direction I'm coming from.  Some may call that a bad business move.  Could be.  But for the past seven years, it's worked for me, made me happy, and made my customers look forward to the next show.

And if something makes you happy, I say, you're doing it right.

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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Over the River and Through the Bridge... and Through the Bridge.. and Through the Danged Bridge

Yesterday was my LONG awaited appointment at Johns Hopkins Bayview Headache Center, a division of their Neurology Department. If you've been a reader of my blog for a while, you know I've been waiting for this appointment since this summer, but the soonest they could see me was, well, yesterday.

Johns Hopkins, Bayview Campus

I got up at 6am so I could get to Baltimore, MD by 8:30.  And I do not DO 6am happily, leaping out of bed with sunshine and roses in my heart.  More like a poked-with-a-stick bear with eyes still shut and one heck of a grumpy streak.  My dear husband did a quick Starbucks run, filled up my van, and had me ready to go before I was out of the shower.  What would I do without him?  Probably sleep late, (mmmmmsnoreszxx) but no really, he's awesome!

It had snowed the day before, but the roads were clear.  I plugged the address into the GPS, threw a CD in the player, and off I went, hopeful and glad the six month wait was over.

Yeah, no, that's not mine.  It's a German-made Messerschmitt.  Thought it was more interesting than my van.  From

Now, I love having a GPS.  And I am familiar with a lot of local cities -- Washington DC doesn't really phase me much, and parts of Baltimore are no longer difficult.  But Johns Hopkins is in a corner of Baltimore I just don't know.  No worries.  Remember, I have a GPS.  

Here comes the Fort McHenry Tunnel, so I know I'm almost there.  Factoid -- I'm claustrophobic and particularly hate tunnels.  Probably due to having to sit for two hours inside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as a young child on the way to the beach, smelling nauseating gas fumes, and listening to my dad THINK he was being HI-larious say, "OH, kids, see the water dripping down the walls?  Think she'll hold?"

Thankfully, we didn't go on vacation much.


I've been to the Bayview Campus exactly once but remembered a tricky turn.  Feeling smug, I looked at the GPS and made the turn.

Back onto the interstate.


Not only was I heading BACK down the highway in rush hour traffic, but I had to listen to that annoying, self-satisfied GPS woman say, "Recalculating" like I was the dumbest person to sit in a car.  I'd missed the CORRECT turn by about, oh, 40 feet. 

So now I have to drive to the next exit, make a U-turn, and hit the correct exit this time.  Easy.

You can bet I paid attention and made the U-turn.  I expected Miss Snide-McSmarty-Pants GPS Lady to take me on surface roads now, but no, I took my Stupid Pills this morning.  There's this thing called....

The Harbor.  With a TUNNEL. 

(Face:Palm)  (Head:Slap)  (Expletive:Deleted)

After three trips and $6 in tolls, I finally made it to the right road, only to miss another neighborhood road -- but at this point, I could see the hospital on the hill and turned the GPS off just as Mrs. Getting-on-my-Nerves was saying "Recalculating".  

That felt gooooood.

Until I remembered I had to go BACK through the tunnel on the way home.

Tunnel being built.  Source.

Driving home was directionally just fine.  But I must have peeved off Miss GPS because she knows Mr Burly Weather Man because he made it snow the entire way home.  She holds a grudge like that.

I don't know what it is about me and directions.  On both of my trips to NYC with my husband, we traversed the city entirely by subway.  We'd get off at some underground station and he'd just say, "This way", knowing which way to go, without looking at a sign.   Me, I'm the sort that would say, "Turn left at the gas station, then you know that cute pink house?  Turn left there."  But Miss GPS would snort at that.  If she had time, that is, between saying, "ReCALculating", and "Turn left -- (sigh) reCALculating".

"But now at least I'll know how to get to the Bayview Campus", I thought.

Haha.  Miss GPS laughs.

The rest of the appointments are at Johns Hopkins main campus, all the way on the other side of Baltimore.

Oh well.  At least I don't think I have to go through the tunnels four times in one day!

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Reviews

I haven't done a book review in a while so how about we do one, m'k?  Click the name and title to take you to my full review.  Which may or may not contain nuts. No wait.  SPOILERS.  Not nuts.  Spoilers.

The quick review:

This book will depress the living heck out of you ... if you let it. There are moments of snickering, but for the most part, it's about a family falling apart at the seams and trying desperately to put it back together again. And it's not just falling apart -- it's fragmenting, then decaying, then pieces are falling off along the side of the road while one family member or other patiently gathers then all back up.

If you liked "The Corrections", you'll probably like this one.  

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University" by Kevin Roose

4 stars out of 5

What happens when a college student from Brown decides to take his "semester abroad" at ultra-conservative Liberty University, run by none other than Jerry Falwell?  The answer -- almost anything.  I won't spoil this one for you, but it is worth the read.  Roose began writing this book at age 19 but it reads far more intelligently.  Some crazy coincidences at the end of the book will make the hair stand up on your arms, but suffice it to say -- this isn't the book you're expecting.

3 stars out of 5

Oh, what a disappointment. I'd given five stars to her book "Water for Elephants" and had high expectations for this one.  Alas.  I was far more interested in the peripheral characters than the main characters, finding the main characters flat or uninspiring, and the story lacked .... something.  Sorry.

4 stars out of 5

Once again, this was a book I was anticipating ever since I read (and reread) Kostova's realistic vampire hunt called "The Historian".  

This book is about a phenomenal artist who slowly and painfully loses his mind, and along with it, his family, his job, and his ability to explain just what it is he's painting -- the same woman over and over.  A psychiatrist, also a painter, is assigned to him to try and break the artist free of his demons.

The book is told in various voices -- the ex-wife, the jilted lover, the psychiatrist -- and it's a haunting tale.  Exactly what one would expect from Kostova.

5 out of 5 stars

I saved the best for last.  

Hillenbrand, who hit the scenes with her first novel "Seabiscuit", switched gears to write about Louie Zamperini, a survivor of WWII.  But this isn't just any WWII memoir!  

Louie started out as a scamp of a kid, getting involved in petty theft as a youngster.  His brother tried to tame him by getting him on the track team, and all of a sudden Louie became a star.  Louie even made it to the Olympics in Germany, meeting Hitler before Zamperini even really knew what Hitler represented.  
Joining the military, Zamperini had a fear of flying, yet was made a bombardier, eventually being shot down and floating in a life raft for more days than anyone could make sense of.  He got rescued, though -- by the Japanese.

The remainder of the book speaks to his time in various camps, his survival, and how he came out of it.  But what's DIFFERENT about this book is the first-hand anticdotes the author managed to get from so very many of Zamperini's friends and colleagues, making the book read as easily as a novel, not as a dry memoir.

If you've never read a thing about WWII, never had the SLIGHTEST interest in it -- I'd challenge you to try this book.  Full of photos, hilarious stories, poignant thoughts, historical factoids, and not a dry bone about it, it's one of the best books I've read in years.

I hope you bibliophiles have enjoyed this blog post and you beaders have stuck with me!  Now, tell me about books YOU like!  And if you're on, please do friend me.  Click here to find me.

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday

Today's Bead Table Wednesday is a bit unusual in that it doesn't involve beads, but involves marketing the jewelry I make.  

I have a jewelry show on February 5th, and I just got my shipment of postcards in yesterday.  Since I'm cutting it close, I decided today was the day to get a bunch of labels onto all those postcards.  So today my "bead" table is my coffee table, and with the remote to NetFlix all set up, away I went!

Yes, I really do use that many postcards -- it took me six to seven years to build up that following -- and it takes FOREVER to get labels and stamps on.  I need elves.  Zack got bored after putting on 35 stamps.

On another note, I'd like to show you a bracelet I made with some beads from The Gritty Bird.  Becky is AMAZINGLY creative (I love her thread-embroidered pendants!) and she recently started making a line of paper clay beads.  They're delightfully organic, in beautiful colors, and go FABULOUSLY with Vintaj findings.

Here's what I made:

"Purple Rusticana" includes Gritty Beads, a Bayong wood bead, and dangles of dyed betel nuts.  Vintaj findings and wire complete the look.  Here's a closer look at the Gritty Beads.....

Be sure to visit Becky's site by clicking here, and try out some of her unique styles!  (I've got my eye on the red for next time!)

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And the winner is ... (plus a discount for ALL of you, and a challenge!)

And the winner of the ImpressArt metal stamps is.....

But don't despair!

All of you are winners because  PJ Tool & Supply is offering FREE SHIPPING to all of you for any ImpressArt stamp order or ANY order over $70!  That'll save you a tidy sum because metal stamps are HEAVY.

To get your discount, enter the code LABLOG when checking out.

This coupon is only valid until Saturday, January 29th, so hurry and grab some goodies! 

The Challenge
If you happen to buy any of the metal stamps, make something, email me, show me what you made, and I'll post it on my blog!  No due date -- just email me anytime!

Congratulations, Lisa, and to everyone else -- happy shopping!

Click here for PJ Tool & Supply main site.
Click here for the ImpressArt stamp page.

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet My Bead Soup Partner, Susie Hibdon

Today I got my Bead Soup from my partner, Susie Hibdon of Vintagesusie & Wings.  I love Susie's style -- just look at what she creates!

As you can see -- not the sort of thing I make.  The sort of thing I BUY, but not what I'm good at making.  So I was eager to see what she'd send.

I'm a sucker for gorgeous packaging, so when I opened the box and was faced with this, I knew I was in for a treat.

In these pictures, you'll see postcards in the background.  The bags held those cards -- huge bonus!  I love ephemera and they're going onto the walls of my big vintage toolbox.

First up is the focal and clasp.  Now would you LOOK at this bag she made????  It's clever, beautiful, and personal.  I felt very special opening it.

And the goodies....

Oh my goodness, a KEY!  I love keys!  Right now I know my friend Erin is smiling as she reads this because we've had the conversation about my love for old keys.  I also love the Ten Commandments medallion (the postcards in this pack happened to be vintage Mexican madonnas).  Do I have any idea what I'm going to do with these?  Not a single clue.  But I've got time.  And I'm darned tickled to have them.

Next came the coordinating beads -- again, in a color palette I normally don't touch.  VERY excited at how I'm going to be pushed to create!

There's some cool stuff here, to be sure.  Ear wires (thanks!), some intriguing stampings (P and T -- hmmm -- what will they stand for?), copper chain, and gemstones that look like marbled white and milk chocolates.

Then I came to a heavier bag.  What could this be?

A special present, and I'll cherish them.

As I was gathering things up, I realized I'd missed a bag!  A linen bag labeled "SPACERS" was the last to be opened -- more dappled gemstone rondelles in the neutral palette.

I'm thrilled with my beads and excited with the right amount of trepidation.  I love that I'm going to be working well outside my normal comfort zone.  After all, that's what the Bead Soup Blog Party is all about!  

Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 26th, to start looking around at all the pretty things the Bead Soup Blog Partiers made!

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to Teach a Jewelry Making Class

I teach jewelry classes at a lovely place -- an unlikely venue called Evergreen Cove Holistic Learning Center here in Easton, MD.  Evergreen Cove has a long list of wellness services -- yoga, acupuncture, reiki, and homeopathy just to name a few.  It's a beautiful, intimate waterfront campus and I love how peaceful it is.

Bell and banner on the front porch at Evergreen Cove.

One of the very cool things Evergreen Cove offers is creativity classes.  This is where I took metalsmithing classes, and it's where you can take everything from mosaic making to journaling to knitting and weaving.  

This Saturday, I taught a group of women how to make a copper charm bracelet, using free-form techniques as well as standard techniques, like how to make a scroll with wire.  I made them each a copper chain via chain maille, gave them three gauges of wire to work with, a four-sided nail file with lots of various grits to file and buff with, and away we went.

When preparing for a class, even one that will largely be free-form, you have to think about what notes the person will need to carry home with them.  You don't want your students so busy scrawling things down like an Organic Chemistry major that they lose the fun of the experience.  I make up packets with the following information:

* A cover sheet with what we're going to do and all my contact information.
* A pictorial page explaining what tools we'll be using.
* Simple (a key word -- simple!) instructions for the basic things we'll do, like how to make an eye pin, etc.
* A source list -- where can they get that cool hammer I was using?  
* Photographic examples.

I felt that pictorials of charms wouldn't really do as the only source for ideas, so I also made up a lot of examples of charms. At the end of class, I drew names out of a hat, and the winner got to take them all home.

At the beginning of the class, I introduce the tools, tell the students what they'll accomplish during their time with me, and above all -- set them at ease.  I share with them my own experiences in classes where I've been the furthest behind.  I share with them how I've been in a class and found it wasn't for me, but in each class I've taken, I've ALWAYS found something to take away that made it worthwhile.  As a teacher, making yourself real is so important, especially in class mixed with veterans and complete beginners.

Introduction to the hammers, the steel blocks, and how to use them.  The blue is a tarp to protect the yoga room's floor from metal scraps.

Once I've gone over the tools, I go through the information packet by showing them how to make each piece.  The packet is really a reminder for when they're sitting down to work on their own, so I have them gather behind me to watch.  I'm sure to go slowly and demonstrate each step, making sure each student can see, and I make sure that each piece I make builds upon the one before it.

After a quick coffee break, it's time to go!  I like to set up the tables so we're all in a big square facing each other (great conversations and easy demos that way).  The students are now in what I call the "free style" part of class.  Some take a look back through the packet....

 and then they play with the wire.  Some try out the patterns I've shown them...

while some play and see what the wire will do.

Throughout the class, we talk and laugh and share.  We learn what each other does for a living.  We learn about other classes people have taken.  We show each other what we're doing. And the entire time, I'm there, ready to help straighten this out, remind how this works, suggest how to fix that.  Every half hour or so, I ask how everyone is doing, to take the pulse of the class.  If a class seems to be getting quiet, or losing its momentum, it's time to figure out why and think quickly about how to get the energy back up.  Is it time for a break, or lunch, or to show a new technique?  With this group of ladies, though, I had no troubles -- we zoomed along so well we all forgot about lunch until I looked up and it was almost 2pm.

In this class, I had one girl who, when I set the students loose to start, just sat and stared at her beading mat.  I asked her what I could help her with, and she said in a small voice, "I just don't know where to start."  I helped her with the easiest piece -- the clasp -- and once she had that success under her belt, she was off like fire.  

Giving a student a quick success, letting them DO on their own without taking things out of their hands, is key. When someone comes to me and asks for help, I always show them on a separate scrap of wire.  If they're still looking frustrated, I ask, "Would you like me to do that for you this time?", and I do it, explaining slowly what I'm doing, not just whipping it out fast.  If the student continually comes to me asking me to do their work, then it's time for me to go back to a fundamental and work with them patiently to give them a success.

Bracelet in the makings by my student who felt she "didn't know where to start".

At the end of class, I do a show and tell.  It's always interesting to see how things turned out. Inevitably, students will apologize for their work.  I always tell them about my own experiences with making things I didn't think were to my taste, and how they would still sell, and often quicker than things I loved.  I remind them this is their first endeavor.  I remind them that half the fun is the practice.  I remind them that at the beginning of class, they started with a coil of wire, and now look what's in their hands!  THEY MADE THIS!

Teaching can be very rewarding.  At the end of this class, everyone was hugging, talking about forming a book club, exchanging emails, and carrying all that positive energy home with them. 

I won't lie -- teaching (or taking!) a class isn't always like this.  You can get a real stinker -- the student who thinks they know more than the teacher; the student who can't be pleased even if you gave them the Hope Diamond to work with; the student who demands so much of our time you despair of being able to help others in the class.  

The key to those sorts of students is to know they exist, and have a Plan, a Plan with a capital "P".  Know that often it has not a thing to do with you.  Help the needy student by giving them a success (and almost everyone can accomplish at least ONE thing in a class) and then praising them to the heavens and sending them to their seat to build upon that success because, "I know you can do this, LOOK what you just DID!"

And you, as a teacher, CAN DO THIS TOO.

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