Color Practice

This crystal and bugle bead bracelet by Cathy Lampole, aka That Bead Lady, has proven to be a great vehicle for practicing color theory. It works up quickly (I can finish one in an afternoon), looks stellar in monochromatic shades, and sparkles quite stunningly in complementary hues. Today I made this one in a very subtle but still striking combination of khaki, light Colorado topaz, jonquil, and jet crystals on a gold metallic bugle base. It's going to my sister, who requested a magnetic clasp. While I like these clasps for ease of use, I learned the hard way, when one of my Christmas gifts was lost by its wearer on its very first outing (attracted by a railing or a shopping cart, perhaps), to design them in the future with a safety chain.

My only problem now is in deciding what colors to try next!


When the occasion calls for fabulous

Snow and ice forced everyone indoors last week with nothing to do but stoke the fire, use up the canned goods and encourage the thermometer to rise! Luckily, the imperfect weather coincided with the need for a new necklace to wear to a gala event this week.

When an occasion calls for fabulousness, I turn to the designs of Nancy Cain. With her classic, refined sense of style, Nancy's Crystal Twilight necklace from the August 2010 issue of Beadwork is sophisticated, elegant and contemporary and has been at the top of my personal to-do list since I first opened the magazine.

My outfit is a shimmery olive green, so I jumped at the chance to work the design with my favorite Peridot Sahara crystals encased in metallic olive and sterling silver seed beads. The pattern quickly becomes second nature and with alternating sections of netting and fringe, never threatens to verge on tedious. The design finishes up with delightful sterling silver peyote rings.

Now, on to a bracelet and some earrings…


Here comes the sun...

I live in a city of 5 million people and eight snow plows. So several inches of snow on Monday, followed by a thick layer of ice, left roads pretty much impassable until today, when temperatures soared back up to a sunny 47 degrees. Just in time for Chase and I to venture beyond the edge of the driveway to Hartsfield-Jackson International airport to lunch with daughter Dani, who had a two-hour layover on her way back to Pittsburgh from a week of working in Orlando.

After a week of ice, a breath of sunshine!


Color Challenge - Monochromatic

My color challenge this week was to make three monochromatic pieces, using three elements in each. Starting with my favorite hue - green - I chose a cool aloe green seed bead to make up the greatest percentage of these Diane Fitzgerald pointed oval earrings, accented with a warmer yellow-green in a luster finish at the tips and a matte finish around the edges. A pale green crystal nestles in the center.

Next, I liked the way the smooth, creamy surface of the blue-green pearls in this earring design from Fusion Beads is countered by the brightness of the pure blue indicolite drop. I topped them with a small aquamarine crystal.

My final project is a kumihimo woven bracelet that combines 4mm translucent glass beads in dark and light blue with two different size 8 seed beads; a matte shade of midnight blue and a silver-lined tint of blue. A glance at this on your wrist proves the theory that a single color can be interesting if the tone and finishes are varied!


One-Color Wonders

I was fortunate to take some great beadweaving classes in 2010 from some very talented teachers; Jimmie Boatright of Atlanta Bead Market, as well as national artists, Sherry Serafini and Cynthia Rutledge. I’m always looking for opportunities to feed my knowledge base, and this year I’m going to concentrate on color, a critical design element I know very little about. Best of all – I can learn from home, thanks to Margie Deeb’s color theory classes on craftedu.com.

After my first few online sessions, I'm just beginning to understand the language of color and am training my eye to recognize values and temperatures. While I’m working up some monochromatic samples, here’s a treasury of powerful one-color palettes I culled from Etsy.


Favorite Read(s) of the Year

A glance at my sidebar will show that when I am not beading, I can usually be found with a book. It’s time to pick a favorite from 2010.

Having lived in Jackson, Mississippi in the early seventies, I felt like the characters in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help were old friends. They were my privileged, intolerant upstairs neighbors. They were the women I stopped to chat with at the bus stop when my year-old daughter and I went for our morning walks. It’s a wonderfully written book told from the voices of three very different but incredibly strong southern women. If you haven’t read it, I recommend the audio book, where the narrators’ voices make the characters even more vivid (and harder to leave behind!)

But my favorite book of 2010 has to be Mornings on Horseback, David McCullough’s biography of the pre-presidential life of Teddy Roosevelt. The subtitle says it all: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt. This is an amazingly detailed look at a close-knit family – an admired father, a cherished mother and the life they created for Teddy and his siblings in post-Civil War New York City.

The running list on the right doesn’t include all the beading books I’ve savored (devoured!) during the past twelve months. It’s even harder to pick a favorite in this category. But I love peyote stitch, and I was able to take my skills from flat to dimensional this year with Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork. The clear and detailed instructions and gorgeous projects make this a book I’ll return to again and again.