Friday, October 29, 2010

Goodnight, Moon

It's been hard to sleep lately with the full moon making the night as light as day.Here's the full moon and the crescents (complete with craters), the dark beads represent the night sky when the moon is new. The yellow bead is cheese, of course. Here are some of the titles I rejected for this bead set: full moon, blue moon, moon pie, moonstruck, paper moon, moon shadow, bad moon rising, moon river, howling at the moon, moonlight sonata...I finally chose the title of my sons' favorite book when they were small. We wore out three copies before they got too old to want me to read it. My favorite time of day was the reading of the bedtime stories.
...Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Good night cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady
whispering "hush"
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere
--"Goodnight Moon", text by Margret Wise Brown

Thursday, October 28, 2010


My first six years of teaching were at a small, rural school. We strive now to get parents involved in schools, but that school really knew how. We had fall festivals, school programs, ballgames, and all kinds of special events, but the Big Kahuna of them all was Halloween. Kids came to school in costume that day. The costumes were ALL homemade.(They didn't have Walmart nearby then.) These costumes were clever and innovative. Moms and grandmas sewed for weeks beforehand. We had Cleopatras, army men, smurfs, lions and tigers and bears. We had Raggedy Anns and Andys. We had clowns and hoboes and ghosts. We always had multiple Elvises. It was wonderful! One year I had an eighth grader who came as the Wolfman. His mom made a concoction of Karo syrup and wool for his face and hands. The flies buzzed around his head all day. After lunch the whole school trooped into the gym for the costume parade. As each class stepped out onto the gym floor to be admired, applause and cheers greeted them. Flashbulbs sparkled. The insignificant prizes we gave out were more sought after than gold. Parents took off work to be at school that day. This small school was the social hub for the community and parents supported our efforts. It didn't hurt that we provided photo ops and memories of their child's life to fill their scrapbooks and their hearts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Traffic Lights

We've got a few of those special stop lights in our town that take a picture if you run the red light. I'm not a big fan. Driving is not one of my best skills anyway. I try to be careful and obey all of the rules, but the anticipation/dread of accidentally running the red light makes me slow down too soon or speed up to make sure I don't get "clicked". It feels like they cause more problems than they solve. The town I lived in before had only a four-way stop sign and no lights. That worked fine. On weekends we like to go to Nashville where driving can be a real challenge, and I have only recently mustered the courage to drive there. If my favorite used bookstore, McKay's, hadn't opened a Nashville branch, I never would have even tried. Traffic lights and signs don't physically stop us from driving dangerously; we all must agree that the lights and signs are there for the greater good and our compliance becomes automatic. For the most part, this works. If you don't choose to comply in our town, be ready to say "Cheese".

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Big Yellow Taxi

When I think there is no more inspiration for unique beads, something always comes to mind. Thanks, Joni Mitchell, for many hours of mellow music.
The hardest part was deciding whether the beads should be car-shaped with wheels in the right configuration or simply suggestive of wheels. I like this better. Perfectly representational beads make a bracelet that needs to be double-stringed for proper wrist orientation. Too much work!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shy Violet

I was in a meeting today listening to a discussion on blogging as an educational tool. Why was I listening and not contributing? I’m not quite sure. I suppose you could call it shyness, reticence, embarrassment, maybe fear of sounding foolish. Finally I blurted out, “I adore blogging!” We teach others that writing is valuable and needful, but do we really realize the value of writing ourselves? When writing for an audience, we shy folk tend to say much more than we would ever venture to say face-to-face. We have time to think about word choice, tone, focus, even punctuation and precision. We can revise until we’ve expressed exactly what we intended. This almost never happens in a real conversation for us. I started a blog about creating which has, surprisingly, turned into an autobiographical treatise. I’ve begun with a clear vision about what I wanted to post and found that forgotten people, places, and events resurface to help me clarify a point. We teach that there are three purposes for writing: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. I say there is a fourth purpose: to know our own minds. It’s amazing how our brains put on travelin’ shoes when we write.

Seventies Chic

Our friend Joe died the other day. He was a guy who never stopped loving the seventies and its music. It's the stuff you hear on the oldies stations. He remembered it when it was fresh and new. I've been thinking about that time lately. Some of the beads I'm making would have fit right in.
There were only four types of acceptable foot wear in the seventies:1. Buffalo sandals-the guys had rubber tire soles and the girls had platforms, 2. Daniel Boone suede-like shoes with gum soles were unisex, 3. Beaded moccasins were unisex, and 4. Fancy purply-red leather shoes (which I secretly coveted but could never afford) were worn only by the trust-fund kids who dressed like middle-aged adults.
I hope Joe is wearing his old Daniel Boone shoes right now and attending the ultimate concert featuring Jimi, Janis, Jerry and Jim. Rock on, Joe, rock on.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Only One

I went to a wedding yesterday. The bride and her dress were beautiful. There were eight attendants in coordinating dresses of brown with orange accents. The bride was nervous, but talented and brave enough to sing a song at her own wedding. Amazing!
I'm thinking back today on my own wedding day. I had one attendant. She was reticent and hilarious, tender and tough, supportive and sassy and utterly unique. She was my best friend. She wore a denim skirt that day, which was an amazing thing. I had known her five years and never saw her wear anything except ragged blue jeans (It was the seventies,of course). She helped me to get ready, and as she did she sang the song to me she always sang for courage, the song she sang before a big test, a scary speech, a job interview. "Chin up, shoulders back," she'd say,"now let's sing....
The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I'm the only one!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Water for Elephants

I confess that I haven't been reading for the past few months. There's rarely been a time when this has been the case since I realized the letters on my building blocks could make words. This bracelet is named after a book I particularly enjoyed. Water for Elephants had a 1920's setting, behind-the-scenes circus life, and an elephant! Who could ask for more? It's a thrill to recommend a really spectacular read. I am,sadly, aware that I spoil it for everyone because I can't resist telling the whole plot. Sorry, friends. Perhaps I need to step away from the clay a bit and read myself into a galaxy far, far away. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White

I made these pink beads for breast cancer awareness month. I was the type of kid who tried to be invisible when grown-ups were gossiping. I thought if I listened I'd learn what it was like to be adult, and I just couldn't wait. I had a relative who was quite loud and pretty doggone funny to boot. I could be around the doorway in the next room and hear her quite clearly except for one tiny thing. Whenever she came to a word that she thought was risqué she would whisper it. So here's how she sounded: "WELL, I SWAN. YOU KNOW SHE WORE SUCH A LOW CUT DRESS THAT YOU COULD SEE HER bra. HER HUSBAND HAS BEEN HAVING AN affair WITH THAT hussy DOWN THE STREET AND I GUESS SHE THINKS SHE HAS TO SHOW OFF HER breasts TO FIND HER A NEW MAN. I learned a lot by snooping on the grown-ups. It made me a GREAT listener.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tiger Beat

There was a time when you couldn't have caught me wearing animal prints, but we get older, fashions change, and now I like them. When I made this I was thinking about a magazine that was popular many, many years ago when I was a teenybopper. It was called Tiger Beat and was filled with the heart throbs of the era. As I recall it was Sajid Kahn, Bobby Sherman, the Monkees, and the one non-singing member of the Cowsill family that I particulary swooned over. The articles were written in a kind of hyper-charged English with interjections and exclamation points sprinkled liberally throughout. I notice this kind of language used on entertainment "news" shows on television now. I suppose our mundane day-to-day manner of speaking is just not sufficient when describing the stellar talents of Lady Gaga. Zowie! Whatever happened to that Sajid Kahn anyway?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Sometimes I like to paw through the orphan beads that didn't make it into the bracelet they were made for. Then a melange emerges that is unique and a delight to design. I discovered the strangest thing last night....Most days the beads I roll turn out perfectly round. When my hands are sore, the beads turn out in football shapes. When I'm feeling mellow the beads are tubular.When I'm nostalgic the beads are square. I can't seem to make anything to order or duplicate what I've made before due to the fact that I never know what kind of beads I'll be able to roll on any given day.
"You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jane Hathaway

Though I tend to like bright color combinations with a little red or orange thrown in the mix, this bracelet has been a big hit for me. For those of you who did not grow up in front of a television in the sixties, Jane Hathaway was a character on a television show called "The Beverly Hillbillies". She dressed conservatively in nondescript tweed skirts and sweater sets. This would have fit her style perfectly. I loved those corny old comedies as a child and can still watch them over and over. The characters seem like old friends. We watched them evolve over the seasons. We identified with their shortcomings and cheered their successes. I just can't get that same feeling of connection with Marge Simpson though she is just as realistic as the characters in the old sitcoms were.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I don't think other people are as enthralled with poetry as I am. I come by it naturally. My dad was a ring-tailed tooter at memorizing a rousing poem. He could recite "The Charge of the Light Brigade" at the drop of a hat. There was another one about Darius Green and his flying machine he did for me many times, and I need to find it again. He didn't memorize to please some teacher or get extra credit; that's for sure. I treasure his 8th grade English book. The pages are thick with Donald Duck comics of the era pasted over the pages he was supposed to study. When I read Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams (insert dozens of others here), I want to absorb those words, to savor them, to make them a part of my own worldview. It's not just serious poetry either. On this bracelet I put one of my Ogden Nash faves:
The Panther
Should you behold a panther crouch
Prepare to say ouch!
Better yet
If called by a panther
Don't anther!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Craft Fair Philosophy

Yesterday I watched a first-time craft fair vendor. Her booth was well-designed, her product was plentiful,eco-friendly and cool. She had professional marketing signage. I don't think she had a very good day. It's so hard to get it right at craft fairs. Your target market is always changing. There are many variables: indoor versus outdoor, customers on a budget versus spendy up- and- comers, an older population who don't want dust catchers versus hipsters looking for something no one else has, kid-friendly products versus pricey touch-me-not items. Here's some advice from a craft fair vendor/patron of twenty-five years plus:
1. Smile and engage people when they slow down at your booth. It's overwhelming to see the array of items offered in every booth. Make your products special.
2.Don't get discouraged if someone walks away after your ten-minute spiel about how your product is made and why you made it. They might come back after they've compared it to other things they see.
3.Price your product to fit the market. Things are tough today. It would be nice to make big bucks crafting, but realistically you charge what the market will bear, not what you'd make per hour in a nine-to-five job.
4.Be passionate about your work. If you don't love it, how can you expect others to?
Oh, today's bracelet is the one I wear to this season's fairs. I take it off when someone stops to look and say, "Try one of my bracelets on. You'll love it!" I love it myself. Would I sell it? You bet your boots I would!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicago Skyline

The spots remind me of the lighted windows from our visit to Chicago. Here's the story...We were visiting the college boy and cut across Illinois to save time. We pulled into a grocery parking lot to look at a map and realized it was actually a combination grocery parking lot and open air toilet. Hightailed it back on the road. We pulled into a filling station parking area to look at that doggone map. A car pulled in verrrry close on our left. Another pulled in nice and snug on our right,everyone looking cool, slouched low in the seats. When a third car pulled up to the back bumper, we vamoosed. It was getting dark. We circled hopelessly. The interstate was visible, but no on-ramp appeared. Finally we saw one just as we whizzed by. "There's an alleyway," I screamed, "let's turn around there!" A smiling welcome committee with matching t-shirts and hats stepped out of the shadows. We burned rubber in reverse, made it to the interstate and drove all the way to Joliet to find lodging. Apologies to Jim Croce for not listening when he told us about Bad, Bad Leroy Brown & Co.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Spiders seem to be lurking everywhere lately. Is it fall or Halloween that calls them forth? Many years ago I walked in the woods behind my family's house and went over the fence separating our property from the neighbor's. I knew I was on forbidden territory making everything deliciously frightening. The trees cast a sinister shadow; I heard a weird bird call I'd never heard before. I stepped through a shadowy arch to find a grove where the ground was white with thick spiderwebs. I ran home and have had nightmares about this place ever since. Did it really happen or was it a dream? I never went back to find out. Still won't.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rose in Bloom

I can't believe how incredibly easy it is to make a rose cane once you know how. Simply create a red to white Skinner blend. Wrap it in a thin layer of black. Reduce the cane quite small. Compress the cane from round to slightly smooshed. Slice and build a rose rounding the edges as you go. A lovely effect that looks much more complicated than it is!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Groovy Goldfish

This bracelet was my attempt to create a fish out of water with orange Skinner-blended scales.
There are things that make everyone feel like a fish out of water sometimes. Often it seems that there must have been a book or a memo handed out that explained everything: how to act, what to say, what to wear. Where was mine? Did I lose it or just never get one?
Oh well, there's always a block of clay to mold, a bracelet to design, a new day to unfold. Scarlett O'Hara summed it up so well: "Tomorrow is another day".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crazy Klimt

This is called a Crazy Klimt bead set. The patterns are made by putting several shades of raspberry and teal with white into my new clay extruder. It's the kind that has a crank handle and actually can be worked without making your hands hurt for days. I love this look. The "Klimt" is for the patterns in Gustav Klimt's paintings. Lately the beads I'm making are getting smaller and flatter and more workaday friendly. The flat disk beads give the bracelet a softer look. My hands long to make grand and glorious diva-style spheres that are gigantic and gorgeous and almost impossible to wear. How did Wilma Flintstone do it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ruby Slippers

We watched The Wizard of Oz for the umpteenth time the other night with closed captioning turned on. We're watching more and more like that as we age and have to turn the volume up so high it's unpleasant. You catch things you were never aware of in the dialogue that way. Anyway, I thought up a whole series of bead sets with Oz themes: that zigzaggy pattern on the flying monkey jackets, the yellowbrick road, sepia toned transfers, Dorothy's gingham dress...the possibilities are endless and have probably been done to death, but that doesn't mean I can't have my turn at it. If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,why oh why can't I?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creative Dilemma

Okay, here's the thing. I finally released some of the summer's bracelet bounty into the world. I was happy to see them go to people who seemed delighted to get them. I simply move on and create whatever comes to mind as I did all summer or do I try to re-create the ones sold so that the design is a part of my repertoire? This one was called Cartoon City because it reminded me of the thought bubbles in cartoons. It was fun, but is it done? Time will tell.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bracelet Bonanza

My first craft fair with the bracelets in tow today. They were a big success. I think people enjoyed reading the names as much as they liked the actual bracelets. Some sold were: The Eyes Have It, Mermaid Singing, Cavegirl Bling, Jane Hathaway, Cinema Classic, Purple Kimono, Firecracker, Angel's Breath, and Here's My Heart. I wish I had time to make more before the next show. What fun!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hope's Lamp

The inspiration for this bracelet was a lamp I saw in the living room of a fictional character named Hope on Thirtysomething. The lamp was so beautiful and soft looking I had to try to recreate the look in beads. Translucence is an area I am working diligently to achieve in clay. The blue, green, and coral were mixed 1 part color to 16 parts translucent clay. For the base I mixed a creamy antique yellow. Then I sliced the colors thin enough that light shines through. I love the watercolor effect and plan to continue studying translucence in polymer clay. Perhaps tinted liquid clay will be the next step. There's always something new to learn with this medium!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cow Eggs

There was a time in the 80's when I had a houseful of cow-themed kitsch. It was during that "country/crafty" time when there was a little festival on every town square in the summer and every other booth was filled with white ducks with a welcome banner and mauve and Williamsburg blue were the only colors that you could find in stores. I casually mentioned to my class that I thought the patterns on those black and white cows looked cool. Every occasion after that I got cows: cow canisters, cow placemats, cow pens, cow candles,cow coasters, cow notepaper,cow plates,cow keychains....Anyway, I took the bull by the horns one day and gave the whole lot of it to Goodwill. I just thought I'd make one cow bracelet for old time's sake. MOO!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rhapsody in Gray

I think much of this bead making experience has simply been an exercise in color. I've learned to mix colors, to find my personal pallette, and to appreciate purple though I had never cared for it previously. Before this I thought my favorite color was red when it is actually tomato red (which is not red at all, but orange). I discovered a passion for smoky, stormy blue-greens and a deeper respect for the versatility of olive. I realized that brown goes with everything and you can't go wrong with a marbling mix when you add a little black, a little white, and a lot of gold. This particular set of beads was the result of taking strong colors straight from the clay package and adding my own gray "mud"to form a sort of shadowy rainbow. I applied the white threads to add a little contrast. It works for me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Citrus Surprise

I have always thought those pink grapefruits in the fall fruit boxes the high school band sold had the most gorgeous color palette of any fruit. I just wanted to look at them, never to eat them. I remember spending the night at a friend's house and having grapefruit served for breakfast. They all knew how to eat it without the juice squirting all over their faces. They didn't even slather it in sugar! Weird. Anyway, this is my tribute to those yellows and pinks and oranges and yinks and pellows and whatever you call the whole spectrum of colors in between.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whose woods these are?

Finally fall! These beads were inspired by a walk in the fall woods. The rusts and golds were the leaves crunching under our feet up the hill from the old spring. The deep browns were the buckeyes we were scrabbling for in the leaves. The grays were the sky and the rough bark on the tree trunks. We found my father's initials carved on a trunk when he was a boy. Nothing beats a nature walk in the fall. Nothing!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tennessee Flag

In Tennessee's bicentennial year we did many, many craft fairs across the state. I bet I painted hundreds of the ubiquitous rocking chair with a Tennessee flag draped across the arm. This makes me think of that season. Good times...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy bracelet

This bracelet is a hodgepodge of colors and techniques that just seems to work for me in a very festive way. It makes me happy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Genio Atrapado

I was playing around with gold clay trying to learn mica shift techniques and started making filigree type designs. This led to the genie bracelets as shown in the picture. I like them so much I made 24 in different color combinations. I can't make any more for a while since I've developed some type of carpal tunnel type wrist problem from making so many beads so fast. Sigh...