Thursday, January 19, 2017

Learning to do Off Loom Bead Weaving

Since I enjoy loom bead weaving so much, I thought I'd try to do some off loom weaving. For my first attempt I bought the components as a kit from Fusion Beads (except for the Silkon thread and the #12 beading needle I already had) and followed the instructions online. I did have to pick a different color than the one in the project directions as they were out of stock on the lovely 6mm Ruby Lila Vega Luster 2 Hole Honeycomb Jewel Czech Glass Bead.

The pattern works vertically from bottom to top (for the most part) and since the hex beads are two hole there are some interesting twists and turns involved. It amazes me how anyone figures these patterns out from scratch - at least for now, since I'm a bare novice. There has some kind of calculus or algorithm, I'm certain, to finding the best possible path!

I'm pretty happy with the outcome, though - the pattern instructions were very well written, easy to follow. I've only finished one of the set that's meant for earrings because I'm thinking that I might, instead, make it a component in something else.



The next thing to try was peyote stitch. I'd learned the brick stitch from the Endless Loom instructions, since the first couple rows have to be done off loom. The thing about peyote beading is that pictures, instructions and patterns for it seem to be everywhere, so I thought I should try to learn it. So far, I'm able to do a pretty good block of solid color, but I'm struggling to follow a pattern since the rows overlap and the direction of the stitching changes with every row, unlike looming.

I used my Beader's Bible (note: this is an affiliate link, if you want to buy this and use this link, I'll get a small commission from Amazon) to learn how to do the basic peyote stitch.


It took a while to get the first couple rows done correctly, that's a bit fiddly with the 11/0 beads in one color. I probably should have gotten some big beads in red and blue, just like the book and practiced with those. I usually pick the hardest way to do something when I'm just learning. 😊 Peyote stitch has each row of beads off-set from the previous one. Like this:



So here's a shot of the first few rows of peyote I've successfully made. I used Miyuki Chocolate brown11/0 beads from Artbeads and Nymo thread, size D in white. (Unless otherwise mentioned, I don't get compensated for mentioning & linking to my sources for beading materials. I just want to save you the time if you want to try something I've done). If your project pattern recommends a certain thread and needle size, choose them for best results. 




Also in the picture above, are the tools I would use for any bead weaving project - needle, thread, seed beads, thread conditioner (you can also use beeswax, I believe), sharp scissors, and a beading mat on your work surface - something that keeps the beads from rolling around.  In this shot I'm using a Bead Buddy Jr. travel beading board - these are great because you can securely save your work in progress - from cats, bumps, spills and for travel (note: this is an affiliate link, if you want to buy this and use this link, I'll get a small commission from Amazon)  

Both sides of the Bead Buddy have the fuzzy-fabric surface. You can find beading mats all over the web and in craft stores, and put them in box lids for a less expensive solution. I guess you could also cut a piece to size out of an old microfiber blanket for a bead mat, and save even more - I haven't got an old one to try with so I haven't used that option personally.

Now my challenge is learning how to read a graphed pattern and work it into the peyote stitch. If I get it right, I'll show you how!




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Monday, January 9, 2017

Loom Weaving - Endless Loom & Beads Reviewed

I have been doing some bead weaving lately, learning some of both on and off loom techniques. It's a bit time consuming (especially off loom, which is completely new to me) and I don't know when I'll be expert, or at least satisfied enough to try and sell any of it, but I always like trying out and learning new things.

On loom bead weaving isn't exactly new for me. I don't remember when I got my first "Indian Beadcraft Loom" but I do remember enjoying beading on one. It may have been when I was in Girl Scouts or even later as a teen in the 70s when beaded things were very much in style.

These days you can buy a number of versions of beading looms - from the simple standard crafts and kids looms that haven't changed much at all since the 50s, to the newer Jewel Loom (a Beadalon product), which is great for its portability and many other cool features (I love mine), to the Ricks Loom (distributed by BeadSmith) that leaves you with just two warp ends to tie off (don't have one yet, it's on my wishlist), and my latest purchase, Endless Loom which leaves no warp ends to deal with at all.


The instructions that come with the loom are well written enough to get you working immediately, but I found watching a YouTube video a couple times, once all the way through to see the whole process and then again as I was making a bracelet, stopping and starting as needed. The BeadsSmith's video gives a nice intro, showing one application with elastic cord (the loom is a BeadSmith product).

Other videos show alternate applications and techniques, just put "Endless loom" in the YouTube search. Because I bought my loom and beads from Artbeads I watched their tutorial. Here's what came in the kit:



I started off with the clasps and two rows of brick stitched beads attached to them as instructed, warped the loom and started beading. I chose a very simple pattern to start. The first two rows on either side of the clasp are a bit curved on the first two I tried (top and middle as shown below), but by my third bracelet, I was able to get it pretty straight. I'm not sure what I did right that time! Perhaps using more beads and the 4 strand clasp helped?



I used white Silkon #2 thread for the first two projects and tried Frost WildFire 0.20mm for the last one. Both types worked just fine. I think I'll go for darker and thicker threads, maybe matching one of the dark colors, for my next one. 

I also went from using the 3 strand clasp to a 4 strand one, used 9 vs 7 beads (these are size 6/0 seed beads, TOHO, Artbeads Designer Blends) and added some tiny metal cylinder beads on the outside edge to see how that would look. 

The TOHO beads aren't consistently the same shapes, some are more round and some more cylindrical. They are fine for this pattern, as I'm not using large blocks of a single color, but I'd want beads that are very consistent for more graphical designs.

It took about one and a half tubes of the Designer Blend to do the 7 bead bracelet for 7.5" wrist. The larger bracelet at the top was almost 2 tubes - I was working with the 8" spacer bars but it turned out to be 9.5" with clasp, not sure how I managed that.

I didn't use all the bead colors available in the mix with any of the bracelets. The left over beads are more of that one unused color and of the center bead color that wasn't used twice in each row. They'll be great with other projects so it's not a concern.

I really like the Endless Loom, it's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to trying all kinds of variations and beads with it.
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nearly Finished for the Finished Up Friday Facebook Post

Yesterday I showed you one of the necklaces I am working on this week. It was from this worktable submitted to the B'Sue Creative Group on Facebook:


I have really appreciated being a part of this group as it helps me get things done by having a weekly deadline for showing the work in progress on Work Table Wednesday (WTW) and then on Fridays there's the "FUF" deadline (Finish Up Friday). It's very challenging with a day job to do much more than a few hours a night on anything during the week, so I have found that having just 3 or 4 things on the table will get me at least 2 or 3 completed pieces to post on Friday.

Over the weekend in my studio, I can think up designs, gather the materials, and bring them into my inside office on Sunday and not have to worry about walking back and forth in the cold or dark between the house and the studio on Monday - Friday. At least until the days get longer and warmer.

You saw the beige cabochon pendant I was working on yesterday, today I'll show you where I am on the necklaces for the bird stamping and the key.


The bird (I think it's a swallow because of the split tail) is a brass vintage stamping from B'Sue boutiques with a dark red-brown finish and I affixed it to an antiqued copper glue on bail. I used Czech glass beads, seed beads as spacers, and some metallic (or perhaps they're coated with a metallic finish) beads, those are the ones closest to the bail, for the necklace. 

I'm not 100% sure it's exactly how I want it - I might change the piece so it has an offset toggle clasp and put the bird on the clasp - but that's where I finished off this evening. 


Lastly, here's an antique key about 2" long, with two wing stampings and a glass cabochon attached with E6000 glue. I made the chain using jump rings - the largest are closed 12mm brass rings connected by two 8mm twisted wire jump rings with glass #6 seed beads on them. The smaller 6mm jump rings nearest the key are simple antiqued brass also linked in a 2x1 pattern. From the place where I stopped making the upper chain tonight, I think I'll use some finished chain from my stash to make it about 20 to 21 inches rather than continue making it with links.

Now to come up with next week's ideas.
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Back to the studio worktable from my break over the holidays! I hope yours was as lovely as mine. My son was home from his Army post in Georgia, an my daughter visited several times from across town (and here in L.A. it's a lot of town - takes her an hour or more to get here). We celebrated Christmas Eve with my brother's and sister's families, too.

With all that visiting and celebrating, I didn't do much jewelry work over the holiday, but did get a few things started during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. One of the pieces I'm going to be finishing up this week is a necklace for this pendant I designed:


I set a beige glass cab from B'Sue Boutiques off center in a Vintaj brass bezel (you can find it at Beadaholique) and added gold microbeads and these raw brass faceted cube beads from Rings & Things around the cab with E6000 glue.


The neckline will be strung on Soft Flex Metallics Medium Antique Brass Color beading wire, using the beads shown below. The round beige beads and the two tone bicones came from The Beadin' Path vintage bead collection. Sadly, The Beadin' Path closed so no more of these lovelies for me. I'm also using the brass faceted cubes mentioned above in the necklace:


Here's where I am so far:


No, that's not a dead fly just above the pendant, I'll explain in a bit. The pendant setting's (bezel's) loop is in the same plane as the bezel (see below) and so the pendant can't be strung directly onto the beading wire, it would need a connection that's at a right angle to the bezel, like a jump ring. I didn't like the idea of attaching the pendant to the neckline with just a jump ring, though, I believe that would be too insecure, allowing the pendant to slip off the necklace if the jump ring separated just the tiniest bit.

What I needed was a bail that I could securely string through and attach to the bezel. I have a small number of these little looped things, I call them bead cap bails because I can't remember what they're really called. They have a loop at the top and four 'petals' into which you could press and glue in a small bead (I guess).

What I did to make it a bail was curl up two of the side petals and pinch in the other two, squeezed them closed around the pendant loop and added a generous amount of GS Hypo Cement. I'm hoping it will work! So far, so good and the glue hasn't had that long to set.

Here's an extreme closeup of the bead cap bail in it's original shape and, below it, as it's set on the pendant. The bead cap bail is very tiny, only 6mm (~1/4") long. I think you can see how I bent it into the pendant bail fairly well. I wish I could remember where I got them, but I have had them a long time!




Ok, time to finish that necklace and start on another one!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Making Something a bit Different - Bookmarks

A few years ago I made some ribbon bookmarks with beads and other embellishments to take to one of the Science Fiction conventions where I was a vendor. The conventions I did were not like ComicCon or media tie in conventions (Star Trek cons for example) but were about books, authors and reader fans of Science Fiction. Several of the other dealers were book sellers.

I figured there might be some interest in the book marks, made a dozen and I did sell out. They're easy to make and can be sold relatively inexpensively ($1.00 each was my price then, I may have to go to $2.50 for the new ones).

I'm going to be doing more cons next year, if all goes well, so I thought I'd make some more book marks. This time I bought bulk charms and tassels to put on the ends. While I was assembling these I thought that it might be fun, and also attractive to buyers, to add some decoration to the ribbons that were solid colors.  I bought some rubber stamps and some metallic archival ink stamp pads and gave it a try - you can see the stamped design on the green bookmark at the end.


I also remembered that at one point someone looked at the bookmarks (ignoring the sign that said "Bookmarks") and asked "Are these chokers?" and suggested if they were they'd be interested. I couldn't help them at the time, but thought that it wouldn't be hard to make some chokers, too. I'm going to add a little cluster of sea-themed charms to this one. I'll have to get some more colors of ribbon, too - the only solid colors I have now are black and green.

click picture to see details




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Monday, December 12, 2016

Keep Going 'til it Seems Finished

Edit:

I posted the necklace to a Facebook group I belong to and got a really good suggestion. I've added a postscript to this posting below to cover the change.


Between the day job and getting ready for the holidays, it's been hard to do much jewelry work! My son is coming home on leave from the Army soon and will be here through New Year's, so I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to do until January. So, just in case I don't post again until after the New Year - happy holidays! May you be able to spend time with loved ones and have lots of fun. I've been fiddling around with this cameo, it's resin, and as shown below, was originally ivory colored flowers on black.



I decided to paint the flowers using Lumiere paints but it still seemed unfinished. So I added a feather and then a leaf sprig embellishment. Decided to put a bit of rhinestone cup chain and some glass 'gems'. Then the chain seemed to plain, so I added some glass, crystal and metal beads to it. I think it's where it needs to be now. I like the very simple and the very ornate equally so sometimes it's hard to find the right place between them for any one piece.


 

Close up of cameo:



Adding to this post on 12/13/16:

I posted the necklace to a Facebook group of fellow jewelry makers/designers (B'sue Boutiques Creative Group, a closed, by invitation group) and received a good critique about how the two green beads next to the cameo distracted from it. So I moved the beads up the neckline:


Definitely an improvement. This is why I joined the group, to have interactions with like minded folk. 
 
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Last Show of 2016

Last couple of weeks have been very busy! On the 18th & 19th I was showing at the CATESOL conference in San Diego. The show went very well; I was pleased with the sales and the wonderful support of the exhibition room organizers. I had a great space with two long tables to work with. Here's (most) of my display. For this event I added two boards on easels for necklaces - I can show many more  than on the usual bust displays.



Earrings and inexpensive pendant necklaces went well, a couple cuff bracelets, too. I did a few sales of my larger and more pricy statement pieces, which made me very happy I'd made them, but I will focus more on the things that sold well for next year.

There were many, many booths for all sorts of educational books and programs (CA = California TESOL = Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). There was a "passport" game where participants needed each participating vendor's square signed by the vendor to be eligible for the drawing. I had tons of visitors come for their passport game and stay to browse with a good number making a purchase while they were there.

They also had two dedicated hours one on Friday and one on Saturday with no seminars so the participants could come to the exhibit hall. Lastly, there were a number of socializing events in the same hall that led to more visitors. I'd highly recommend doing something like this to any SF Fandom con dealers' room organizers as a great way to get more traffic to their vendors!

Of course last week was Thanksgiving week and my son came home for the weekend for the first time in years (he's either been deployed or had Thanksgiving with his in-laws). It was really wonderful to have him join us.

Now back to the workshop to make some new stuff and get pictures up on my Etsy and ArtFire sites!
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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Embellish to go from Blah to Beautiful


This is a closeup from one of my Work Table Wednesday pictures for a Facebook group I have joined. Owl. Pendant setting. Not bad as is, yes? But what could be done to make it more appealing and (one keeps hoping) sell?


Embellish!!

First I painted the owl. I wanted it to look natural so I used shading, painted multiple coats where I wanted the color to be darker and sanded back the painted area on the chest to let the original off white come through. (fyi: I used Ranger inks for the painting) 

Then I took a leafy brass stamping and after cutting it apart, glued it under the owl. Good start but still a bit blah. Added a topaz colored flatback crystal to the brass leaves. Better. took a brass filigree and cut it in half making two mirror image filigrees to add to the sides. Then found some rhinestones set in black cup chain and added those. Yes! Done!




None of this was hard to do. Some E6000 glue and a pair of cutters are all the tools you need if you don't want to paint the owl. I did mix up a batch of black Apoxie Sculpt to make sure the cameo was well set in the frame. The owl cameo was a great fit, but there was very little surface on the frame to insure that, if glued, it would be really secure in the frame. I pressed a 'snake' of the Apoxie around the back of the frame next to the cameo and then flattened it over both pieces to create a rock hard seal (after curing overnight).



Other ways to embellish a cameo like this would be to glue beads or tiny pearls around the inside of the frame around the cameo and maybe some flatback crystals on the flowers in the frame. I just happened to have the right filigree available.

Supplies:  Setting, owl cameo, brass leaves, rhinestone chain, topaz colored crystal and glue from B'Sue Boutiques. Chain and Ranger Inks from Michael's crafts store. Apoxie Sculpt from Amazon

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Quite Done - Re-thinking Designs

I've been working on a number of mixed media and assemblage pieces lately and thought I'd go through my steps on two recent ones.

First off, I knew I wanted to use this flower in a necklace. So I glued it to a small brass crescent necklace base with E6000, added some filigree and leaves also, but it was still too plain. First I added some green color to the leaves with alcohol ink, still not quite there.



So I grabbed my Lumiere paint and gave the petals a little dab.


This was better, but I still wasn't thrilled with the total look, so I added a green crystal to the center but it still wasn't working for me. The filigree wasn't set quite right either, so I knew I'd need to cover that up.

Here's what I finally ended up with - added some additional filigree pieces, a couple more flowers. The center is the same little crystal but set in microbeads that are set in crystal clay. I put tiny magenta red cabochons in the flowers to the side and some marquise shaped acrylic gems on the filigree. Now I think its done!



All of the metal pieces for a necklace like this can be found at B'Sue Boutiques. I was fortunate enough to get the small cabochons and the acrylic gems in a free gift bag from B'Sue. If I hadn't gotten them I'd probably have used flatback crystals.

The other piece I've been working on looked this way last week. Many more layers of metal leaves and flowers, a few came already patinaed, with some faux pearls and a purple Lucite flower. Again, it still seemed to be missing something.


This is what I added over the weekend - more filigree, a number of crystals, acrylic gems, and two Swarovski crystal dangles. It's busy, but in this case I think that's the right approach.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How To - Using Epoxy Clay for Filling and Setting a Cameo in an Open-backed Frame

Over on Facebook there's a group,B'sue Boutiques Creative Group, that I have followed for some time as a regular customer of B'sue. Lately I've posted a few times for their Work Table Wednesday (WTW) and Finish Up Friday (FUF) features.

In today's WTW I mentioned that I was going to use epoxy clay (Crystal Clay) for one of the pieces on the worktable and a commenter mentioned she'd not used it before. Well, I haven't used it much myself, mostly experimental things (that didn't quite work out!).

One piece that I did use it on successfully is a pendant I recently completed and listed. The setting is an open oval with flowers at the bottom and the cameo didn't quite fill the entire space at the bottom of the setting, so I pressed in an oval of black Crystal Clay which not only filled in the space at the bottom but also made the setting absolutely secure. That cameo won't be falling out of the setting short of total destruction.



I thought this might be an opportunity to show how I set the cameo in an open frame with Crystal Clay. It was pretty simple.

Here's an example of the frame and a floral cameo the same size as the skeleton lady. The frame was from Dry Gulch beads, but I didn't find it there in a cursory search. I've had the cameo in my stash for a long time, but they're not hard to locate around the web. Since I mentioned B'sue above be sure to check her site first!



See the small gap at the bottom where the table shows through? Also, the frame isn't very thick  and the chance of a glued cabochon or cameo falling off would be pretty high. I decided to try using my Crystal Clay to secure the cameo and also fill in the gap. 


I followed the directions to mix the two part epoxy clay using enough to create an oval that would cover the entire back of the frame and cameo then I pressed the pieces into the oval to secure them. I left the entire thing to dry for 24 hours.


If you look at the lower left of the cameo you can see a little puff of the Crystal Clay. The whole piece is only a couple inches long so it's barely noticeable. 

Various varieties and colors of epoxy clay are on the market and as a bonus, the clay once set takes paint, Gilder's Paste, Rub n Buff and probably a lot of other products so if you need a good color match you should be able to touch up the clay fairly easily after it's set.

Have you tried anything like this? I'd love to hear about it!

~Dawno~

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cuff Bracelets and New Necklaces

I'm working on stocking my Etsy and Art Fire stores again, they've been empty for ages and when I was able to do 4 or 5 shows a year it didn't matter to me much, but this year looks like I won't be able to do another show so I'm going to work the online angle. Here are a few of my newly listed cuff bracelets:


I used Gilder's Paste to color the flowers and cuff bases. 

And here are a few of my necklaces:


The top row center necklace was a real challenge - I started with a plain ivory colored resin mermaid cameo and had tried to make a bracelet but wasn't happy with the results. Finally I decided to create a filigree mount for it and fiddled with adding this and that until I had the pendant. The necklace part came after I didn't like any of the plain chains I tried with it. I think the glass pearl necklace is very complementary.
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Friday, June 3, 2016

Sometimes the Product Photographs Help Me to Really See Things Clearly

I'm trying to fill up my ArtFire store, so I'm taking pictures of my finished pieces. Sometimes when I look at the picture on my computer before uploading it to my store I find myself less satisfied with the finished product and take it back to the work table. It's a matter of seeing it out of context and with more detail - just like the buyer will see it online.

Here's one example - this is a pendant I purchased and then did some slight embellishment to by adding gold patina paint to the outer ring design. I then strung large hole beads in brass, silver and copper finishes on to a velveteen necklace.

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After I looked at the picture I was going to use to list the item in my ArtFire store, I felt it still looked blah. Back to the workbench. I added a Swarovski flatback crystal to the center and some Marble (white) Vintaj Patina Paint. Here's how that looked.


I think I'll add a few more coats of the patina paint after it dries overnight and then do some clean up at the edges then list it.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A "Timely" Piece

Insert favorite time metaphor here...

This is one of my newer pieces. I used two Russian Gold plated ornate wing stampings that come in right and left facing designs, a brass crescent for the backing, and a brass sparrow from B'sue Boutiques, as well as vintage watch gears and a vintage pocket watch dial. While the wings are lovely as is, I decided to give them a bit of a whitewash appearance using a light rubbing of white Gilder's Paste and am quite pleased with the effect. 

It's a bold piece about 5" across so I used a chain from Vintage Jewelry Supplies with larger heavy looking links and a nice texture to them. It's very similar to this chain at the same site as above.

The whole piece is one of those things that wasn't planned but came together as I was trying to sort and arrange my supplies in my studio - something that I will probably never finish doing since I'm always stopping to make something. I'm glad to finally be able to use the remodeled garage as a studio, although I do miss having my daughter living there! She's definitely happier in her new apartment - a real insulated, heated/cooled and with a fully equipped kitchen, home.

Anyway, back to the piece - I'm sure it's happened to you as you sort through this and that you put aside something and say "what will I do with this?" and then not long after you find another piece and another and finally it's a design. It's always fun when it comes together.
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dawno's at ConDor 2013 San Diego

ConDor is a smallish con, but it was about twice as large as I'd heard it would be, at over 600 attendees. The programming looked great, if I weren't working I definitely would have gone to the panels. The entertainment schedule looked like a lot of fun, as well.

The venue is the lovely Town & Country resort, but as the rooms were all booked up when I was notified that I'd been accepted as a dealer, I stayed just down the street at the much less lovely, but cheap and comfy enough, Best Western. The con seemed well run and everyone seemed pretty happy. I had great neighbors in the dealer's room and hope to see more of them at other conventions this year or next.

I've added ribbon bookmarks to my display and I think they're pretty cute - wish I'd thought to get a picture!  Didn't get one of my booth and me, either! Well, you can see the backside of the ribbons and a bit of my booth in the picture below (bottom left).

I think these are Tuskens from Star Wars. I wish the gal behind them was facing my booth - she's in a Tardis dress.

There was a great Time Machine replica. The wheel in back spins and there are lighting effects.
This lovely couple had great steampunk outfits and their boy was dressed as a tiny Doctor complete with sonic screwdriver. You can see a little piece of my booth in the far back, behind the lady in the white sweater.


I'm very grateful my daughter was able to come help, it made for a wonderful time!  Next con, BayCon over Memorial Day weekend up in Santa Clara.
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium 2013

I had a great time at this year's Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium on the Queen Mary this year. It was bittersweet because my dad passed away in October and he had helped me last year, so I missed his company greatly. My daughter and sister did come and lend a hand. I only have these few pictures this year.

My booth in the Queen's Salon - I was right in front of the main entry.  My table  was much larger than what you can see here with a whole section on the left that faced the entrance.

Here's my wonderful daughter mugging for the camera in one of my fancy hats.

Here I am in that hat and my kinda sorta Victorian 'shopkeeper' outfit

Next up, ConDor in San Diego. See you there!


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Counting Down to LosCon

It's been a very challenging year, and you know that saying about best laid plans. I had hoped to be better organized and back to regular posting long before now, as well as getting to work on a lot of new jewelry since the last I posted. Circumstances have prevented me from accomplishing most of that, but I have a convention in 6 days, so I'm doing what I can to get ready. I just hope I can find all my display stuff in the back room!


I thought I'd share at least one new item today. I'm quite happy with how it turned out. The necklace has aventurine beads, copper TierraCast beadcaps and chain plus a little copper leaf. It's amazing how some designs just create themselves - once I got the leaf and center aventurine bead assembled the idea for the rest of the necklace seemed obvious.

LosCon used to be my favorite because I would come down to L.A.and spend the weekend with my dad. This year I'll be doing the show solo and missing Dad enormously, not only for his help but for his company and the way he enjoyed being there, meeting new people, talking about everything under the sun with them. He'd want me to have a good time, so I'll wear a brave face and try to enjoy it.


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