Friday, January 21, 2022

Dark Teal and Copper Daphne Leaf Variation

In 2020 I didn't purchase any beads, I was busy honing my sewing skills and mask making for people who wanted to purchase them.  I need more beads like I need a hole in my head but sometimes it's just really nice to have new colors. I'm very driven by color and playing with color combinations. So in November and December I couldn't take it anymore and I purchased a whole bunch of Duracoat seed beads (the metallic coat supposedly will not rub off as it is a huge issue on the really shiny brilliant metallic glass seed beads) and sparkly "Cut" seed beads which give texture another level of texture to many of my pieces.  

While I was home with COVID for 2 weeks, I couldn't quite get off of the couch the first week but I could bead when I was awake. I poured over all my new colors of beads and put together this necklace and earrings set. 

Medium Leaf Earrings are 2.2 inches long from the tip of the earwire.

This copper seed bead really called to me and I don't have anything like this blue mix so there was a lot of visual satisfaction stitching these together. I feel like the metallic coated beads make beadwork feel a little more like what people usually think of "fine jewelry."  My work has sometimes been mistaken for metal rather than glass beads which makes me feel like I've gotten the look that I'm striving for. 

Small Pod Earrings are 1.5 inches long from the tip of the earwire.

Necklace is 19 inches long from the tip of the clasp to the first loop.

These will be available on my website's shop until they get on the move to a gallery. You can shop HERE.



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Large Leaf Me Alone Installation Update with Video


I tend to bounce between a lot of projects. I always have a really big one going on in the background while I'm working on my beaded jewelry, knitting, gardening and larger house projects. The big, detailed pieces run on a low hum in my brain.  Leaf Me Alone (the big version) is the current large project for the past 2 years or so. I have a drive to get it finished finally!

It took a while living with that low hum before I decided what shape the leaf panel was going to take. Leaf Me Alone's sister piece, She Can't See The Forest Through The Trees, has a leaf panel hanging at the top third of the installation.  I wanted this one to be longer. I debated making the panel the same size as the woven panel but that just wasn't jiving with me. 


After some sketching and getting the leaf panel started I decided I really like the full lenth of the woven panel but only half the width.  When I'm making the leaves, I think I've got a lot of them, but there are never enough!  


I managed to pick up COVID somewhere so I was on paid time off for 2 weeks until I got better.  The first week we just slept all the time and tried to be comfortable (the sinus headaches and body aches were the worst, and zero energy, I hate not being productive but sleep was the only way to ge through it). The second week all my motivation came rushing in and I was able to really dig my heels in. I was busting out fresh leaves from my sewing machine and beading. No surface is safe in our house. I clear off a table and another project would sneak its way on to that nice clear surface within 24 hours. The leaf panel for Leave Me Alone moved in and I was able to really look at the whole thing. The above photo there are leaves laid out on the left side but I'd not yet commited them to be stitched down yet. Below is a time-lapse video of the side length of leaves being stitched on. It took about 2 hours for me to get them all stiched which was actually faster than I thought it would be.  Amazing how much more productive I can be when I'm not allowing notifications on my phone to distract me (because the phone was busy taking the video)!


I have a deadline for an exhibit I want to submit this piece to so I'll be getting on top of the finish work this month (hemming, cutting the metal rod for hanging etc). I'm also working on a new website to get up before my Textiles & Tea talk with Handweavers Guild of America, January 18, 2022, 4pm for live but you can find it later on their Youtube channel.  Fun things are on the horizon!!

This partial panel has been pinned in my studio for months now, glad to have it almost done!






Saturday, January 1, 2022

2020 and 2021 in Review

2021 Top Nine (I finally figured out how to do that...)

Sometimes I do a yearly review, sometimes I don't have much to say.  The last review I did was in 2019, and to be honest, 2021 still felt like 2020. So I might as well merge the two.

That start of the pandemic and general shut-down of society was...strange.  I don't follow the news much (I learned early that it's too stressful and I need to focus on what I'm doing, not what everyone else is) so when I came in to work and was told we are "shutting down for 2 weeks" and we need to prepare the store for that (all cash drawers and iPads in the safe, we unplugged the mini fridge and moved it into the bathroom with the drain to defrost etc), I went home and tried not to panic.  2 weeks sounded so vague and I didn't like it. So I applied to Home Depot that night.  Some retail establishments were going to be considered "essential" and stay open with limited capacity. I applied to everything that was available. I figured that the application and interview process would take about 2 weeks, that's normal.  That was Tuesday, March 17th.  I had an interview on Friday and started my orientation on Saturday. So much for thinking I'd have some extra time to get projects worked on. 

I hired in to Millwork. I had no idea what Millwork was when I interviewed. My Assistant Manager who was interviewing me told me I'd be fine. I'm a slow learner, I don't memorize well and sometimes numbers are really hard for me until I can relate them, but since we had only 50 people in the store at a time it was slower than usual and my coworker Russ who likes to know everything about everything had plenty of time to train me.  Understanding the swings of doors, lingo, what measurements mean, designing doors to fit spaces and eventually understanding how it would look trimmed out to explain to the customer came with practice. As much as I miss some of my co-workers and customers at Talbots, Millwork turns out to be a really great fit for me. I never knew I'd love doors so much!

I wasn't that inspired to work on my big projects.  At first at home I busied myself with making masks. I wasn't going to do it at all, but the writing was on the wall that I would have to eventually wear them, so I wanted to make custom to fit comfortably. Of course requests started coming in and I figured out how much time and energy and cost would make it worth what price point.  I had fun buying fabric, supporting Seams (what a year to open a fabric store!) and I really sunk into my knitting in the evenings. When the heat of the summer turned we started dismantelling the rotting roof of the garage Labor Day weekend 2020. I have so much support and people to talk things through at work that I finally felt confident reroofing my garage. It was a lot more involved than it looked like, but I usually expect house projects to go that direction anyway. Fall 2021 the garage is 98% dry, we ordered custom windows and I installed them with everything I learned talking about installation in my department.  Next year I have one more edge to wrap with roll roofing dismantling and all the trim work to do.  The back North corner of the garage is really rotted and that the last big patch I have to work on while I trim it out.  We purchased all of the boards I need this year so they can dry out and I'll paint them before putting them on. 


I worked on my door fence in 2020 but not so much in 2021.  I've picked up a few doors from customers so I need to get back on top of painting them and putting them up.  Some of the doors have survived the years and some are falling apart.  I wanted them to have a worn look so it's working out. As some get too bad outside in the weather I just swap them out.  I've found once you start looking for doors, they pop up everywhere. I also know what it looks like when someone is gutting a house. I obtained some solid wood interior doors on my way to work one day, I saw them sitting in the back of a pickup on top of a pile of garbage and simply asked the guys that were going in and out of the house if they were throwing them out, and if so could I have them. They were happy to help my load them into my vehicle.

Valeta's Gears Bangle

I did submit a few pieces into MLH's online exhibit. It was nice because I was able to show anything and since I made a bangle commission for a friend it never got to make the exhibit rounds but I had good photos and submitted it, so it got some view-time. The lack of creating new work came from a pit in my stomach of "what's the point" because as many photos as I can take to show what my work looks like, fiber pieces really truly need to be seen in person. It's hard enough going to a fiber show and not being allowed to touch, but at least you can see each thread, stitch and handwork in the pieces up close. Most of the shows I submit to have to have work finished in the last 2 years. So that was another reason for not finishing any big pieces, not until they can be on display again and they have that 2 year time period of being able to be submitted.  I'm back to trying to finish the large "Leaf Me Alone" piece, once that's done I'll allow myself to get back to my current doubleweave "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time".  I'm a bit tired of looking at greens and blue of leaf me alone, the black and grey of the next one is exciting because I have individual threads spaced through that have little pops of verigated color. My brain is also starting to dream up the warp for a Theo Moorman Inlay weaving that will be next.  I havevariegated  to roll around in my head how to get a drip or smear feel in that piece. 

Jewelry pieces have just been falling out of me on occasion. I find that I don't feel as stressed out to follow fashion color trends or make new pieces now that I'm not is clothing retail.  I'm letting Pinterest and my bead stash speak to me more. My work style now is hand knit socks, the Barley Light hat all winter, often handknit neck wraps gaiters and some of my earrings. I've fallen in love with the firehose flex cargo pocket pants at Duluth trading company.  I thought "I'll never use these cargo pockets"....I'm pulling so much stuff out of them when I go to throw them in the wash! I still can't really pull off a flannel, I'll always be more into hoodies and I found a new favorite the tie-dyed Wanakome hoodies. I also find that the dryride Burton zip hoodies are great for work right now in case I'm moving a lot of doors and get hot, I can take them off.

Speaking of moving doors... My arm muscles are bigger than they've ever been. One day this summer I was stocking a large shipment of interior doors and thinking about how the previous summer I was so exhausted putting away a few pallets of doors. Not this summer, I can pick up and throw around the interior doors easily. I still struggle with the weight and awkward shape (the attached brickmold adds a lot) of the exterior doors, I just don't quite have the wingspan/height to get those picked up too high, luckily there's plenty of help at work too. This 2-week at home with COVID is going to have me out of shape but I'll get back to it, I am enjoying being this strong and healthy.

Fabric Scrap Playing (beginning, back, front)

As much as we've been wearing masks, distancing and staying in (which I rather enjoy) we still managed to get this round of COVID. So I've been home since the 20th, the first week was awful. I've never had to take so much ibuprofen before. The body aches would wake me up, and I mostly slept the first week. As my health returned my motivation to work on my artwork came on full-force. I got back to make leaves to finish Leaf Me Alone. I've started the beaded edging for the piece that's on my loom, I started doodling  thinking about fabric and making cat patterns, plus some scrap fabric play.... it's like it's been a 1-week artist residency. Bryan and I are both on the other end of it, thankfully.  

Lastly, I'd like to rave about Bryan...he's so easy to be with, 5 years has flown by with him and I'm still shocked that 2 weeks quarentined in the house together has pretty much been a breeze. I feel so thankful for him every day. Being an artist is hard to juggle art, day job and relationship. I'm lucky to have found someone who can entertain himself and also respect the space that I need in my life to do my artwork. I have so much creativity to get out of my sometimes its overwhelming, I'm much better at taking it one day at a time, one stitch at a time, one bead at a time lately.  I now understand that there will never be enough time in the day but I can make the best of the 24 hours I've got. 

Lastly, I had this all written up, then last night at midnight we opened a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne and Bryan wanted to a toast, which led to our engagement! He had it all planned out to do it at the We Are the Union's Ska show that we were going to but COVID...I guess it was finally going to affect something big for us.  We still dressed up (above), ordered in a lovely meal for 2 from Tannin and played games and talked. Things are always so perfect with him despite having to change plans. <3

I love love love my ring, it's so sparkly!!

Speaking of sparkly, we ordered custom shoes for the NYE Ska show
Mine are pink glitter Converse with leopard print tongue
his are Vans with leopard, checkers, and a glitter side stripe. 


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Checker Fade Bangle and Earrings


 Well, I created this set for an outfit I was putting together. Bryan and I had plans to go see We Are The Union tries to throw a New Year's Eve Party in Hamtramck.  Unfortunately we ended up getting COVID and the outbreak in Michigan has been so much that they also cancelled the show.  Bryan basically had his entire rude boy outfit together and I had finished this set and was getting ready to make a skirt.  Either way I do like how the set turned out.  I was using the metallic pink as a color to match a pair of custom pink glitter Chucks I had ordered for NYE.  


I wanted to make a large checker bangle that faded from black to metallic pink. I'm not usually big on using pink but the right shade I'm attracted to, usually a deeper darker pink. There is a plum color in the middle for smoother transition.  I originally thought I'd fade back out to black again but I decided to stop at the pink and after leaving it I don't feel the need to keep beading on it. Sometimes you have to stop while you're ahead.



After finishing the bangle it needed earrings. I thought I might make some long flat checkers like I have in the past, but I felt like trying something different. The first pair I made is in the top photo to the right of the bangle.  I didn't get a great photo of that pair; it has 3 stitched loops and is 2 5/8 inches long.  


The above second pair of earring options only has 2 beaded loops and are 2 1/4 inches long. I'm not sure which earring I would have gone with at the end of the day, maybe the next ska show I'll wear this set with my pink glitter Chucks.

Below are the beginnings of the skirt idea.  I have a bunch of sketches and had even put together a basic paper pattern with 5 panels, pockets and zipper. I decided not to keep moving forward on the skirt since I don't think I'll be going to another show for some time and what I want out of a checker skirt could change.  I had drawn these at all different lengths, pleats, slit...the fabric is the slit is a sheer black lace-look rainbow cheetah that kept calling to me. The formal satin checker skirt will be revisited at a later time. 


And of course the shoes that started it all: 




Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Gypsy Leaf Bracelet in Neon

I'm not even sure what to say about this piece, it just sort of fell out of me. It's how my soul has been feeling, big and bright and I want to wear that on the outside of me.

Purple is one of the colors I use most, along with green, but not usually this...neon.  Lately I'm attracted to everything neon yellow/green and this really bright purple.  I found a V-neck shirt for Bryan at Buckle in a similar purple, I just wanted him to try it on and it happened to look really good, good thing for me purple is also one of his favorite colors. It seems I've been adding more neon to my wardrobe, then I made a rather large bead purchase from both Fire Mountain Gems and Northland Visions with as many neon and metallic Duracoat(R) seed beads as I could stand.


The original Gypsy Leaf Bracelet was positioned like the above photo when it was displayed at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, I love having someone else choose how to display my pieces sometimes. It makes it more supltural and shows how tight the leaves are beaded together.

Maybe this is my neon is my new comfort zone, who knows.



Part of the recent bead purchase was the neon green seed beads in the above triple pod earrings.  I wanted to see what they looked like stitched together and decided they don't have quite enough yellow in them to add that green to the Neon Gypsy Leaf Bracelet.  I think these earrings are fun and really pop.

I happened to find this neon yarn at Threadbender on Friday:

I think it's going to be part of the warp for a piece I've had in draft-form for like a year, I still don't have the imagery down just yet....plus I'm not allowing myself to even start to pull yarn for it until the Large Leaf Me Alone piece is finished. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Midnight Madness at Bløm Meadworks in Ann Arbor

New bead colors have got me making all sorts of earrings, these will be available at Midnight Madness

I'll be at one holiday event this year (outside of what galleries are hosting) and it's THIS FRIDAY.  I was invited to be a pop-up artist at Bløm Meadworks in Ann Arbor for a night of Midnight Madness. December 3, 2021 from 5pm-11pm.  Shops and galleries will be open late for shopping.

A small part of me misses selling in-person and talking about my work to an audience.  A perk for this indoor event is that Bløm is able to have an "in" door and an "out" door so the traffic will be going in one direction and will hopefully feel less chaotic than what I experienced at Midnight Madness in a past year as a shopper.  



Jewelry set up from a show with Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild some time ago

I picked up jewelry from Angelwood Gallery, some that I haven't had my hands on in 2 years and dropped new work off to them. When I was going through the box they gave me I was all "Oh look, there's the Pac-Man Bangle!" So I will have that work with me along with any newest of pieces of jewelry that I have happened to make while snuggled in on the couch with my Boo and the cats.

As much as I've been trying to stick to making leaves for Leaf Me Alone, I get distracted by other colors and fashion trends, and what I'm going to wear to the New Year's Even Ska Show. Neon yellow/green. bright purples and deep bright pinks are grabbing my attention in sparkly beads at the moment. Midnight Madness will see a bit of those colors in my displays.

Here's a sneak peek at what's coming in the next blog:



Thursday, November 4, 2021

3 years sober: Beaded Recovery Ideas

"Hi, my name is Jenny and I'm an alcoholic."  

I say that regularly at meetings and one of these days I'll probably slip up introducing myself at some other lecture with that line. I cannot believe it's been 3 years, because 3 years ago it seemed impossible to even go a day or a week without a drink.  But something had to give, I went to my first AA meeting and realized why it exists and there's a whole bunch of people out there struggling with the same types of things I am. 

I could rattle on and on about how much AA has helped me but I'm going to keep this short and simple...the recovery symbol used for AA is a triangle within a circle. I've wanted to incorporate into my work somehow but all I can think of are what the coins look like so I decided to start there.

This thought first came to me when I noticed a ring someone was wearing at meetings that has the recovery symbol, very simply designed in silver. I really liked the idea of incorporating the symbol into something you can wear daily.  I tried 3 different types of seed beads with this coin design, rocaille 15/0s, delica 15/0s and the regular 11/0 delicas (from left to right in the top photo).

I'm still not sure where these are going.  I decided to keep my beaded pieces simple and start with the form of the coins that we receive each month for the first year, then every year after. I have them floating around my house, a few hanging from my car rearview as daily reminders. When I'm having a rough week, I carry one in my pocket.  My sponsor gave me my third year coin today at the meeting this morning and then her and another very important to my sobriety AA member took me out to breakfast.  It's all connected and we all help each other. <3

Dark Teal and Copper Daphne Leaf Variation

In 2020 I didn't purchase any beads, I was busy honing my sewing skills and mask making for people who wanted to purchase them.  I need...