The American Dialect Society chose the Twitter-inspired term, hashtag, as their word of the year for 2012. My word for 2012 was explore, and it was a great year for new challenges and discoveries. If you followed along on my blog, I am so grateful for your readership. This year, I’m trying something different – I’m setting the tone for 2013 with a symbol instead of a word. A symbol to guide me spiritually, personally and professionally.

A lot of things in my life were pointing me to my symbol of the open hand – the writing of Jennifer Rothschild, as some friends and I took up her study, Missing Pieces. Jennifer encouraged us to greet each morning with hands open to receive whatever God has for us in this day.

This print by mixed media artist, LalyBlue, drew me in with its open hand. Finished while we were both taking Kelly Rae Roberts' online class, Flying Lessons, LalyBlue asked the group to help her name it and chose “Touch the Dream” from the many suggestions.

LalyBlue's painting was my inspiration for this lariat, which I plan to wear often this year to keep me focused on the goals I've given myself. Three weeks in, it's a gentle reminder that 2013 encircles me, supple and fluid. And that turning my ideas into actions begins with a hand open to the promise and the possibilities.


AJE Earring Challenge - First Reveal

I was quick to sign on when the team at Art Jewelry Elements issued their 2013 Earring Challenge because, as many hours as I spend at the bead table, I rarely take the time to design and create a pair of earrings. This is the perfect opportunity to remedy that!

The requirements are simple - just create one pair of earrings a week using a handcrafted artisan component. To make it easy for everyone to participate, the challenge is broken into 13-week segments, with a reveal every other Sunday.

Sweet and simple, my first pair features a hammered copper ring encircling a fine silver textured charm by Leslie Watt of THEAtoo. Sterling silver ear wires. These have not left my ears since I made them!

My second pair combines folk art mini flowers by Susan Barnes of the Fire Goddess with jet Swarovski and fine silver spacer beads. They hang from handmade, 19mm sterling earwires.

Now, click over to AJE and treat yourself to some amazing links!


Memories and Thanks Blog Hop

Is there someone who greatly influenced your direction as a beader? For me, that person would be Alice Walker of Beadazzles, the wonderfully eclectic Atlanta bead store that closed its doors in 2012. The display cases in Alice’s store were always brimming with enticing beads and components, and its walls were covered with original and unusual pieces sure to inspire. If a project was just not coming together, Alice and Beadazzles’ talented staff were there to offer design advice and usually that perfect bead to delight the most elusive muse.

I remember Alice encouraging me to sign up for a Laura McCabe class, a two-day workshop that found me, still very much a novice, in way over my head. The woman across the table noticed that I was lagging behind and quietly demonstrated each step again. She was a life-saving tutor over those two days and became a good friend. I wouldn’t be surprised if our seating hadn’t been pre-arranged! That was Beadazzles. I took many more classes at Beadazzles, from both local and national teachers, and eventually, at Alice’s urging, taught some of my own designs at the store.
Alice immediately came to mind when I read Lori Anderson’s idea to dedicate a post on January 12th to honor someone who touched your life and made it better.

Since this is the last bead strand I purchased at Beadazzles, it was my first choice for this project. I remember when I was paying for that final purchase, the staff asked me if I was planning to use these as a whole strand, or individually. I definitely saw them used in pairs ... for earrings, or as accent pieces. Time to readjust my thinking! The tetradic colorway the beads suggest is challenging, and not for the fainthearted, but perfect for this necklace, since Alice’s favored pieces were always large in scale with lots of color.

I had some fantastic tourmaline cabochons in the beads’ blue-greens and red-violets, so they became my dominant colors.
I don't have a photo of Alice, so I borrowed this one (Alice is on the right), from Marcia DeCoster's blog, taken when Marcia was teaching a class at Beadazzles (before I took up beading, or I definitely would have reserved a seat for that!)  This link will take you to Marcia's post on Alice and the store.

Alice closed Beadazzles late last year, retiring, with plans to move to California to be closer to her family. Much thanks go out to her today for her care and encouragement and for many great beading memories!

Click over to Lori Anderson's blog and follow the links to the other participants in today's  Memories and Thanks Blog Hop. I'm sure we'll be treated to some fine designs and inspiring memories!


Best new thing on my bead table

Do your designs take shape through sketches, or do you prefer to let them evolve as you go?

I was three-parts excited, one-part panic-stricken, when I won this sketchbook from Kathleen Lange Klik’s Modern Nature Studio blog. It’s going to have a prominent place on my bead table this year and is already proving to be a great tool to firm up my design ideas. I wasn’t born with the ability to think visually with a pencil, so I plan to start with a basic sketch of the shape of my design, and translate my thoughts to its pages in other creative ways. To collage (perhaps literally!) my key elements together. Develop my color palette.  Plan out each step in the design and sort through possible variations. Jotting down a materials list and production notes should prove invaluable in case I want to create a second version of a piece.
Using a sketchbook has changed up my creative process, and helped me resolve some technical challenges in this lariat design before I threaded my first bead on the needle. A good start to my first project of the new year!