Beads and Braids

Last week I took a beginning Kumihimo class with Becky Patellis. While most beading classes end up being social gatherings to get to know like-minded students and swap ideas, this class was a little different. We were all so intent on repeating the mantra: right down, left up, turn while moving the cords across our kumihimo discs, that I don’t think I even remember anyone else’s name! Still, a fun afternoon learning a lovely and fast technique – all of us finished our bracelets in the three-hour class.

My bracelet colors were inspired by the liriope that bloom all over Atlanta this time of year.


One Fine Afternoon

This turned out to be a great afternoon. I just finished edging my first beaded cuff, wandered down to the mailbox to stretch a bit, and reached in to find the new issue of Bead and Button magazine. Perfect timing!

This was my second bead embroidered piece, and my first attempt at a cuff. I loved working with the blues, greens and all manner of golden taupe beads to give the bracelet a very textured look.

I'm counting on it to give fresh pizzazz to my plain white shirts and denim this fall.


Stepping Off the Path

Another thing that I loved to do when I was ten was embroider. I learned the essentials as a Girl Scout, under the careful eye of my Mom and my aunt, who were our troop leaders, and Diane Sawyer (yes, that Diane Sawyer), who served for a time as our junior leader. After whiling away many, many hours back-stitching a half-dozen pillow cases, I set my needle and thread aside, neglecting the art of hand stitching until this spring, when I took a class in bead embroidery.

While I was away, the artform has changed. What an exciting array of materials! Beads, of course, have entered the mix, along with silk, leather, lace, metals, mesh and more! Up until now, my beading projects have begun by finding a pattern and rounding up beads. With this cuff, I stepped off that path and started with a cabachon and let the beads tell me where they wanted to go!

It's a beginning...check back in a bit to see how it turns out!


Finding More Fun

Gretchen Rubin, in her excellent book, The Happiness Project Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, encourages us to Be Serious about Play. Don’t know how to tap into your inner child? Rubin was having the same problem, until a friend asked her this question: “What did you like to do when you were a child? What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you’d enjoy now.”

I recall with relish playing marbles with my little brother. Although I enjoyed the actual game of marbles and capturing all of James’ alleys (he was 5 years younger, and we never played for keeps!), what I really liked was rolling those cat’s eyes in my hands and examining the swirling colored glass that was injected inside.

So I set off to replicate that experience this weekend. The marbles were jasper, the swirls of color were on the outside, and I captured them with seed beads. A great week-end of work, but work that was fun!

The necklace is Carole Ohl's Earthly Hues design from the current issue of Beadwork magazine.

When’s the last time you knuckled down to a day at play?


The Good Sister

Growing up, my sister was a near-perfect child. Blonde, poised, smart, accomplished. An overachiever, appearing at the dinner table with face shining, hair brushed, and perfect grammar. I was, well, none of those things. Our mother and the bevy of nuns at St. Barnabas School who watched us grow up would have concurred that, of the O’Connor girls, Janet was the good sister and I was…a challenge. Today is her birthday, and I wanted to make something really special to celebrate it, especially given the fantastic scarf she has already gifted to me.

I knew I wanted to use this delicious color palette from Margie Deeb’s Fall Color Report. After collecting delicas and seed beads in the rich chocolate browns and slightly pink, slightly orange coral tones, I found the perfect necklace on Atlanta Bead Market’s class schedule: Jimmie Boatright’s Links, Rings and Things. There are not many things that I would spend 90 minutes in drive-time traffic for, but taking a class from Jimmie is at the top of that list!

My first stop was at Rodney Andrew’s Art Glass studio for these focal beads which worked perfectly with my browns and corals. The pointed oval links are from Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork. The chocolate truffle-toned delicas were so creamy I felt like I was weaving an elegant confection! They were so much fun to stitch and zip up that I’ll definitely be trying out more of Diane’s geometric shapes. The two-layered rings and bezeled discs brought lots of color and texture to the necklace. A bit of fringe completed the design. (I’m lucky to have learned this design directly from Jimmie. If you don’t live in the Atlanta area, look for the necklace to appear in a future issue of Bead and Button magazine.)

Estheticians say that the color coral is a veritable fountain of youth, and when worn on or near the face, brightens and rejuvenates.

A gift that’s both chocolaty and age-defying? Who’s the good sister now?