My last beaded journal page is done

Well, talk about getting down to the wire! With the 2008-09 Beaded Journal Project poised to begin tomorrow, I have completed my last page of the 2007-08 year, my November 2007 page. With my annual jewelry show in November, that whole month is dedicated to preparing for my show. Instead of creating my November page in December then, I was inspired to jump right into my December page at that time. So, November never got done until now. However, I always had what I wanted to create, a tribute page to my greyhound Buddy, in my mind. It was just a matter of getting the fabric paper to put in my printer, updating my printer cartridges and getting started on it.

I’m so glad to be finished with all of my pages. I feel a great sense of accomplishment even though I finished late. Now it is time to turn my sights to the new year and start on my first bracelet!

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Saturday Morning Tea

When I got up this morning, I discovered that it had rained overnight. The sky now looks like a big gray blanket, overhanging a very wet world outside. The air is very still and a few birds call to one another in the treetops. As we enter the Labor Day weekend, the official end of summer, I can feel a change in the air. Lazy, hazy is being replaced by a cooler more “get down to business” type of energy as school starts again. When I was young, I always loved the start of school because it meant a shiny new pencilcase and a bright box of Crayola crayons with the sharpener on the back. Oh, how I loved to draw and color!

In honor of this ripe, harvest time of year, this morning I am sipping a cup of second flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari estate. The Darjeeling tea growing district is located in northeastern India. When I think of second flushes, words like ripe, grape, heavy and lush pop into my mind. As I gaze out my window, I see our garden, a riot of color, a sea of golden yellow, ruby red and rich magenta.

2nd flush Darjeelings are harvested in the summertime after the tea bush has “flushed” again after the spring picking. With a rich, amber colored liquor, the taste represents the more mature taste of the leaf as opposed to the greener, brighter taste of a first flush. For tea drinkers who enjoy their tea British style with milk, most 2nd flushes offer a stronger taste that one can taste through the milk. I always recommend to try the tea plain first so you can discover what it really tastes like.

A rich fruity aroma greets me as I take my first sip. What is called a muscatel flavor note predominates the taste. Some Darjeelings are described as “muscatel”, a flavor note which speaks of the Muscat grape, said to be the oldest domesticated grape variety.

With this tea, I also detect a slight nutty note with a crisp finish that lingers in the back of my throat. The pungent character of this tea would go very well with rich food, especially a rich dessert like a dark chocolate torte or something incredibly decadent like that. Mmmmm…

The Birth of a Freeform Peyote Bracelet – Part 3

I’ve done some more work on my freeform bracelet and it’s slowly but surely getting wider. Because of the different size beads I’m using, it’s starting to lean to one side on the left end. This will work to my advantage, however, because I want to add a coin shaped freshwater pearl and was looking for the perfect place to put it.

It fits perfectly in this little spot right here. Once I add it, I’ll just bead around it with a loop of beads. This loop will eventually be incorporated into the rest of the bracelet as will the large pearl. In this way, you may add anything you’d like to your piece.

I’ve been adding pearls here and there. I also love to add “bridges”, a loop of beads that cross over from one side to the other. This gives the surface of the piece wonderful texture. You can choose to leave the loop as is or add some more beads to it on your next pass around.

At this stage, I will add the larger beads/objects and then assess which parts of the bracelet need to be built up more. You can leave the edges wavy and uneven or try and even them up before you finish the piece. Also keep in mind that if you add to the ends, it will increase the length of your bracelet, of course. I usually start with a 6 inch length so I can add to the ends without worrying about it getting too big. Another thing to keep in mind is what type of clasp you’d like to add. This will add length to the bracelet as well.

If anyone is being inspired to create their own piece, please let me know. I’d love to see photos!

Studio Wednesday

In my studio today, I worked on my last 2007 beaded journal page, my November page. Well, truth be told, it was such a gorgeous day weather-wise that I brought my beadwork out on my deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the fresh air. This is a photo of my greyhound, Buddy, who passed away in August 2001. We adopted him from Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to rescue greyhounds, take care of them and find forever homes for them. Also, to spread the word about them and their plight.

Greyhounds are such amazing dogs, enduring the hard and challenging life of racing at the track. They are usually “retired” after a couple of years of racing because it is so strenuous on their body. Very sadly, most of them are destroyed after they can’t race anymore. In ancient times, greyhounds were the revered pets and hunting dogs in Greece, Italy and Egypt, not used for how much money they could make for their owner.

Buddy, whose racing name was “Paris Boy”, was retired at age 2 1/2 and soon after came to live with my family. The first week he lived with us, we discovered that he had absolutely no idea what stairs were. We lived in a ranch house and it wasn’t until we visited my in-laws down the street and he got excited and walked up their deck stairs to greet them that we discovered he didn’t know how to get back down. My SIL got his front and I got his back and together we lifted him gently down the stairs. Poor guy was petrified. He also was afraid of rubber balls which we found out when we tried to play catch with him and he ran away in the opposite direction of the ball. One thing that he greatly enjoyed was to go into my daughter’s room and methodically take all of the stuffed animals off her bed back to his “nest” of blankets in the living room. We discovered this upon returning to the house one day to find him in a pile of stuffed animals. He was very happy that day.

I’m not really planning my beadwork ahead of time with this page. I was just going with the flow of the beads in the moment and found myself creating a pair of wings for Buddy’s heart. Well, they’re supposed to be wings. There’s some white space at the top and bottom of the photo so I’ll fill that in with some beads. I’m hoping to be finished with this page in the next day or two as the 2008-2009 BJP starts on September 1st.

For this new BJP year, I’ve decided to create journal bracelets, probably 1-1 1/2 inches wide x 6 inches long. With an ultrasuede backing, I’ll secure each one over a metal bracelet blank. I haven’t chosen a theme other than to make each one into a bracelet. My intention is to create a piece based on whatever I’m feeling at the moment. I’ll sew on one bead at a time and see where it takes me.

I’ve been tagged

I’ve been tagged by Stephanie to share 6 random things about myself.

First, the rules and then the random.

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post these six rules on your blog.
  • Write 6 random things about yourself.
  • Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
  • Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

The random:

  • I love the smell of coffee – freshly ground coffee beans brewing into a thick dark cup of java but I don’t like the taste of it. Whereas I never put sugar in my tea, I always put a generous spoonful of sugar along with plenty of milk or cream in my cup of coffee.
  • Instead of using an electric clothes dryer, I always hang my clothes up to dry and have for years. Outside on a clothesline or a portable clothes hanger in the sunshine and inside next to a woodstove or under a ceiling fan.
  • Even though I know how to swim and learned as a child, I am very afraid of deep water. Someday I would like to take swimming lessons for adults who are afraid of the water.
  • I am captivated by macro photography. A couple of weeks ago at work, one of our tea buyers found “tea fuzz” in one of the tea containers and put it under a microscope so we could get a better look. I wanted to take a photograph of it so badly. It made my day. Someday I am going to get a macro lens for my camera and take photos of teeny tiny things.
  • I am going to take a class to learn to speak Italian. I have wanted to do this for years now since I first heard Andrea Bocelli sing. I think I was Italian in a former life.
  • I have light green eyes. Before I started wearing my glasses all the time, someone once asked me if I wore green colored contact lenses. I don’t. Another person once told me that my eyes were light like an Alaskan Husky’s eyes. That was an interesting but strange conversation.

Six people I am tagging – (participation optional!):

Saturday Morning Tea

It is a gorgeous late summer morning here in New England with brilliant sunshine and low humidity. A soft breeze ruffles the treetops as I sit out on my back deck and listen to them sigh. A good morning for sitting out in nature and being still.

Several weeks ago I reviewed a tea called Heavy Baked Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong and I discovered that I had never reviewed a Jade Oolong, a tea upon which that particular tea is based. Well, this morning I brewed some up in my favorite glass teapot.

Oolongs are allowed to oxidize at varying times thus creating some that are more towards green tea and some that are much darker than that. A Jade Oolong is only oxidized for a short amount of time, about 18%. As you can see, this creates a tea that is very pale yellow.

A luscious flowery aroma greets me as I pour my first cup.

During processing, the leaves are rolled into curly shapes that gently release during the steeping. Sweet and rich, the liquor is buttery soft with a pleasing lilac note. I steeped the leaves in 180 degree water for 3 minutes.

If you want to try multiple steepings, shorten your steeping times.

My youngest son leaves for Basic Training with the Air Force in 2 days. He’s been trying to go early all summer but it didn’t happen. It seems his military training began earlier with this first exercise in patience. I’m so proud of him. Today we are having a big family dinner to send him off with good wishes and love. Between that and a little soreness in my right wrist, my freeform bracelet will also have to wait patiently for my return.

The Birth of a Freeform Peyote Bracelet – Part 2

Here is what I’ve accomplished today. You can see how I am starting to place the beads in such a way so that the colors are drifting into each other. This will soften that striped look. Because I’m using various size beads, the bracelet starts to get a bit wavy but I can adjust that as I go along by where I place the beads and how many I place.

Sometime I place 2 same size beads at once to fill in a space.

To add a larger size 6 bead, I sandwich it between smaller size 11 beads and make a little bridge by skipping more than the usual one bead.

Or, instead of staying on one side of the bracelet, I can move to the other side by placing size 15 beads (the lighter ones) across the top.

I love to add pearls because they give a lustrous, organic look. Another little bridge. Play with the placement and see which beads work best. Follow your inner voice.

Sometimes bridges can go across to the other side. Those green chips are peridot. I found them at a bead show I went to last spring. The clarity is amazing.

A closeup of one side.

And the other side.

If you want a thinner bracelet, all that’s left to do is to add beads in such a way to even it out and then add a bead/button and loop clasp. The clasp is beaded in a freeform way so that it fits right in with the rest of the bracelet. Because I’m having such a wonderful time with this, I’ve decided to continue beading and make this bracelet wider. Stay tuned for more progress…