Sunday, November 30, 2014

The evolution of MadDesigns beadwork

I had an opportunity to consider my own personal evolution when asked the question in an online forum.

My first forays into bead weaving were amulet purses and although I made several I neither still have them or any photos.  Such is the early beading life when I wasn't teaching and didn't have to record everything I did.

I don't even know if these are represented in order, but I do know the top one, a bubble blower was very very early in my teaching career as were most of these pieces.  This whimsical little piece had a diachroic cab on the top which was glued to the top of a glass bottle cap.  On the inside of the cap I used my rudimentary wire skills to make a spiral at the top of the wire and a loop at the bottom.  The spiral was glued to the inside of the cap and became the bubble blower.  If you didn't get the pivot point of the connection quite right it would have a tendency to tip forward.  I would have been a better engineer today, but it's a fun piece.

This Bellisimo bead was done probably in 2000 or so on an Italian sail boat cruise down the coast of Italy.  It was also my first published piece in the Art and Elegance of Beadweaving by Carol Wilcox Wells.

Here you can see my freeform stage.  I was fond of making tendrils and folds and creating  really soft and fluid pieces.  I wish my illustration skills had been up to par at the time and I sometimes think I'd like to revisit these directions and share my techniques for this soft, fluid freeform work.

I especially love the colors and the dangles on this one.  It has a lot of movement when worn and I love that.

This piece belongs to daughter Casey and was designed to wear to a fancy opening of an eyebrow salon in Los Angeles.  She still has it and wears it!

Here is one of the original rings of saturn which became a favorite piece of mine and was the impetus for writing Beads in Motion.  Each of the rings spins around the center core.  And proves once and for all that I do know how to do peyote stitch.  And you thought I only knew right angle weave.

This piece amused me because I actually taught it and by todays standards it is pretty simple, but it was fun in it's day.  This you may recognize as the element from Romantica which I've used a lot in my design work.  It was first developed for Victoria to join the fans.

Victoria I know dates to 2003 because I remember designing it when I was sitting on a couch in my Haarlem apartment in the Netherlands.  I was trying to do ndbele with some picots sticking out from the rope, but it didn't work out so I embellished the resulting points and this little four pointed shape was born.

That's todays walk down memory lane!   Some of my designs have stood the test of time and some had short life spans.  If I had to pick one to repeat here, I wouldn't mind making a new, modern, fresh version of Victoria.  I can see it in dark silvers with indigo crystals, and someday I may do that!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Once again because they are so good, Vanishing oatmeal cookies!

I first posted this in 2010, but rather then linking back I thought I'd just give you the recipe once again because it's so good.

The best part is I almost always have the ingredients on hand, even when I'm desperate and can barely pull together a meal, much less a dessert, I usually have sugar, flour, egg, oatmeal and some form of nuts.  Making this the go to recipe when I am craving something sweet and did not plan in advance.  I hardly ever plan sweet in advance as I've struggled with weight my entire life and therefore don't usually have trigger foods in the cupboard.

Tonight I had to use the leftover pecans from the butternut squash, black rice salad.

So here it is….

The best ever oatmeal cookies!

As promised, I thought you might all like this recipe. They are called 'vanishing oatmeal cookies' well actually they are called 'vanishing oatmeal raisin cookies' but since I don't happen to like raisins in my oatmeal cookies I leave them out. You know how when the lights not good and you think the raisins are chocolate chips and then you get all disappointed because they're not they're raisins, me too...

Vanishing Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar
2 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups uncooked oatmeal

and my own personal addition 1/3 c crushed walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Stir in oats and in my case walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

These are buttery crisp, not soft and chewy. They are really really good. You might want to make a 1/2 recipe, or share with your co-workers or neighbors or knitting circle as the case may be.

and the winners are!

I've decided to give two of these away so we have two winners!  Thank you so much for participating.

Blogger Patsy Buccy said...
What a nice thing to do, thank you! I very comfortable with raw, but have not played with craw yet.... Would love to win...
November 24, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Blogger Lissa Davis Block said...
I would love to win this! It would be an awesome holiday gift to me! I'm still a beginner and I consume the work I see on these Facebook pages like a mad woman. I am always looking to learn new stitches and techniques and adding CRAW would be a bonus! Presents for the holidays! I love telling people I make my own jewelry when they ask where I get my pieces. So...winning this would simply be one of the best presents for the holidays. Thank you!
November 24, 2014 at 2:30 PM

So happy to be able to share the love of bead weaving and most especially raw and craw with you.  Please go to my website and use the contact us link to send me email letting me know your address details so I can send  your videos on their way!  If you are still inclined to watch this video the Interweave store has it on sale at the moment, not sure for how long so you may want to visit today.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

How did you come to beading?

I ask because I find that most people who show up in a beading class have arrived through some other path.  Often they have cross stitched or done embroidery or otherwise have worked with needle and thread.

I've knitted, crocheted, embroidered and sewed.  Sewing is being revisited at the moment as I have a desire to make a table cloth for our newly acquired Airstream table.  I like to do fancy, just in case you missed that personality trait of mine.  When I 'camp' in the airstream I take my nespresso, I have cloth tablecloths and napkins, china coffee cups and crystal cocktail glasses.  Yes, that is my definition of camping.

Today I visited the fabric store of JudiPatuti and bought three retro and co-ordinated fabrics which will create a tablecloth for the new dining table.  My sewing skills may be rusty, but I did have them, often making my young children pants and tops sewn by me.  I spent a period of time doing freeform quilting and I love fabric.  I still own a very old, by todays standards, Bernina sewing machine.  To own todays would cost a small fortune and not one I can justify.  But the one I have will service me just fine….I hope.

So tomorrow's job is to complete the table cloth which will have one fabric on top, a different coordinating one for the piping and a third for the 3 inch stop around each side.  The 18 inch b y 24 inch table is the perfect compliment between our low swivel chairs.  Since we are about to 'retire' and embark on one our longer airstream outings we want our space to be wonderful.

We'll be parked in the redwoods of Felton, near Santa Cruz where we met and grew up our family.  It should be a wonderful adventure!  Perhaps tomorrow I can show you the table cloth I've created!

Black Rice salad

Thanksgiving is full of traditional foods so when asked to bring a salad to a Thanksgiving dinner I wasn't quite sure what kind of salad would be right.  Then I remembered the Black Rice Salad that I had at a dinner party a couple of years back.

It was such a hit that the recipe was emailed to many who attended and I promptly made it, a little too often for Mark's taste I think, so it because one of those recipes that falls by the wayside.  For some reason it popped into my head as the perfect Thanksgiving salad and the small miracle was that I could actually find the recipe.

I suspect that my hosts had salad in mind, like something green with lettuce and tomato.  Though called salad, this one really is more of a hearty side dish or a vegetarian main course.

It was  originally published in Sunset magazine but typing the name into a search window and I found the recipe at  The black rice gives an earthy flavor, roasted butternut squash adds a sweet flavor along with a tiny bit of maple syrup and the pomegranate seeds and roasted pecan provide crunch and color.  It's a festive looking salad and a great one to take to a pot luck.  I had my first experience with de-seeding a pomegranate (I usually take the lazy way out and buy the seeds at Trader Joes, but if you wait until Thanksgiving morning to shop that is not an option)  It wasn't hard but I did lose my grip and send half a pomegranate skittering across the kitchen floor splashing red all over the hem of Mark's pants.  He did not find it quite as humorous as I did.  Maya ever hopeful for the dropping of food tried a taste and was unimpressed.

Don't forget a winner will be chosen to win Marcia DeCoster's Right Angle Weave video.  Enter to win by commenting on the post here.  Tune in tomorrow to see if you're a winner!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I have much thanks!

Thanks that in 2004 I left my corporate job, encouraged by my husband to explore my creative roots and be with the beads full time.

Thanks that many of the relationships I had made saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to teach in their stores.  Thank you Susan, Carole, Blanche, Julie, Lisa and Kathy, you believed in me when I was less sure.

Thank you to Bead and Button who also took a chance on my skills...I always tried to do my best, but a class or two fell short, and I was given the opportunity by students and staff to make up for that failure.

Thanks to the magazines, Jean Cox, Marlene Blessing and Leslie Rogalski who have showcased my work.

Thanks to Lark books, who helped to develop and promote the books that I wrote and curated, and special thanks to Ray Hemachandra, Bonnie Brooks, Nathalie Mornu and Jean Cox who were all instrumental in their success.  Also thanks to the many artists who trusted me with their work in Marcia DeCoster presents.

Thanks to my wonderful children who continue to excel and make me proud.  Thanks to my first grandbaby Sam who has and has always had my heart.  Thanks to all my children for keeping me in their and their children's lives.   It is my most important time.  Photos of Layla and Malayna always brighten my day and capture my heart.

Thanks to the group of friends I've kept through my corporate life, my early life, created in my bead life and spend time with in my home life, I love  you all.  Dearest Just Me, you are in my thoughts always.

Thanks especially to my husband who supports me and makes my life special in every way.

It's been a magical few years.

I  have much to give thanks for.  May you all have a wonderful day, however you spend it.

Beading for the home

My main beading has always been jewelry as I love personal adornment and it was my impetus to begin beading in the early 90's.   But lately I'd like to use those skills to bring a few personal touches to home decor.  We've been working on the bedroom and I bought new lampshades to update and freshen up the lamps we have.

When at the lamp store I was given two resin ball finials and had the thought that a Touch of Whimsy would be a fun treatment.  I also wanted to bring the silver and gold of the shade to the top.  I've finished the one and the jury is out.  I can't decide if it meets the goal of whimsical, or is just the wrong scale and looks silly.

I always get disappointed with unrealized visions….it was so perfect in my mind.  Ah well….I suspect I'll do the second and will come to appreciate them.  We shall see.

Have you beaded any home decor?  Vessels?  Wall hangings?  Finials?  Wondering how to bring a bit of beadwork to the rest of the home and not just the jewelry in the studio.  This was my last foray, although hardly a noticeable statement.

On the other had I am loving the dark grey wall behind the bed and the new lampshades add a touch of modern.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The bedroom remodel

Non beady content, but a fun project.

Seems that somehow in all the homes we've lived in, the bedroom decor gets done in the beginning and never really evolves.  Other rooms, you know the public rooms that people see take precedence and the yard projects and years go by and the bedroom is dull and boring.

We had white walls, a bed that I never really liked, a dresser that came with the house and a mirror that was much too small in scale.  The wood slat blinds that are throughout the house are in a level of disrepair requiring new tapes and the mattress needed replacing.

And so the remodel began.  I decided on this bed!  I had seen it a two or three years ago and was pretty sure Mark would not see the same charm that I did.  I'm not sure he does, but he agreed that I should buy it and I did.

We have black hardwood floors throughout the house so this is a really good fit with the decor.  I chose bedding from  Restoration hardware in shades of grey.  I chose two greys for the walls, one really dark grey for the wall behind the bed and the rest medium grey.  It's still in process so the room is chaotic, but I must say the change is totally amazing.  I go to sleep and wake up feeling like I'm being hugged by the warmth of the room.

I've bought new lampshades for existing lamps and this morning decided that I shall bead the round ball  finials with a touch of whimsy in silver and golds!  I'm very excited for that.  Bringing more whimsical touches into the room.  The top would look like this with little bands of raw coming around the clear ball of the finial.  

I still need to pick the perfect rug, take the blinds to be re-taped and paint the back of the built in book case with some shiny metallic paint.  I'd also like to replace the heavy sliding closet doors with sumptuous dark grey velvet curtains….we'll see if time and money allows that extra bit of luxury.

I hope soon to have the bedroom sanctuary that I've always dreamed of and then I will show you pictures!

Bead and Button Santa Lucia!

As promised, here is a look at my Santa Lucia that I will teach on Thursday of Bead and Button. I've taught this enough times to understand that it is a really doable project that results in a really pretty necklace.

I've seen many different color combinations and I'd love to make them all!  For now there are these four with the intent to do one or two more colors, we'll see.

There are only a few of the Topaz left as both the antique brass and dark green pearls have been discontinued.  But I've got a really pretty light green and vintage gold one in the works  (the green is also discontinued, but I have some inventory!)

Occasionally there is a design which I want to make in every possible color combination, this is one of those!  When I originally designed it the Swarovski coin pearls did not exist….my friend Tracy who took this class at Beading by the Bay made the platinum color way to wear to her daughters wedding.  It is truly a wedding piece done in these colors perfect for the mother of the bride or the bride!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bead and Button 2015

The online and in print catalogs start arriving mid December for us to see all the beautiful class offerings.  I know for many of us the ability to go is a dream not easily obtainable.  For others who save for many months to be able to attend and use precious vacation time, it's a highlight.  I wish I had a magic wand so that everyone who wanted to experience the show could, but alas I do not.

I do know that 2015 will mark my tenth year of teaching there and I love being immersed in so many beads, so many beautiful pieces of beaded art, so many beady people and I love the chance to be surrounded by dear friends some of whom I only get to see this one time a year.

Like the rest of my bead life I have also scaled back the number of days I will teach at Bead and Button and to that end I have offered all brand new classes so that people that I've been fortunate enough to have in class year over year will have good choices.

First up is Tuesday, and I'll be teaching Sprockets!  Man how I love sprockets, a truly fun project to make, and totally wearable, on either of it's reversible sides.  I will have these three colors at a minimum!  It's a lot of beading though, so I've offered it in the slightly longer workshop format.

Tomorrow I'll share with you the current Santa Lucia choices and then we'll see what happens with the sprocket earrings!  You will notice if you are paying attention that the sprocket earring is the bottom of the sprocket pendant, so you wouldn't want to take both.  Sprocket earrings will be a 3 hour class on Wedneday before Meet the Teachers which may fit nicely into your schedule.  It's a bit of shaped beadwork with a sprocket on the tip just for fun.  I haven't created all the color ways yet, but these three will probably make the list and a couple of others if I'm productive.

Psst….I've also limited the number of students I take from 20 to 16.  Since I lost my assistant the Bad Liz to her own well deserved teaching career I've decided to make things a tad easier on myself.  Having said that I do have some excellent help lined up as I like to make sure to have an assistant in the classroom making sure that everyone gets what they need.  And…..there is a rumor that Liz may return to help a bit on her day off!  Last year I tried to steer her in the direction of embracing her own teacherhood, this year I said I'd love to have you if you're available.  Cuz pretty much I miss her and I bet you do to!

Do you RAW…..CRAW?

I'm giving away one DVD which will be randomly selected from comments to this blog post from now through Friday midnight.

Even if you're friends with right angle weave and cubic right angle weave this video may have some tips for you.  If either is a stitch you've been wanting to master I think you'll find this a pretty comprehensive guide with up close and personal demonstrations of many techniques.

I'm proud of the job that Interweave did in filming and editing this 90 minute video and I'd like to share it with you so if you'd like the opportunity to win this dvd please leave me a comment on your RAW CRAW desires!

While the focus is on RAW with all it's variations, flat, tubular, increases, decreases, embellished, armatures and layers, I did manage to work in 30 minutes of some CRAW fundamentals, including starting, turning corners, joining and doing multiple rows.

Should you not be the lucky winner, it appears that it is currently on sale in the Interweave store.  I'm never sure when it will be on sale or for how much, but I just noticed that at the moment it is a particularly good price!

Next year I will be filming the sequel, Cubic Right Angle Weave and Prismatic Weave (which shares a thread path with cubic right angle weave but has more or less sides than a cube.)

It's been a whirlwind!

First off a big thanks to Kathy who yesterday reminded me that she missed reading the blog.  It's always interesting when I travel to run into so many people who have enjoyed spending time here.  Thanks to all of you for spending a few moments with me.

I've been so many places this year I can hardly keep track and I've one more engagement in a couple of weeks, and then onto 'retirement' or sort of at least.

I realized after this year of travel that I don't bounce back as well as I used to and so serious cutting down on the schedule is in order.

As I've traveled, many  have asked me what retirement looks like and honestly I am not entirely sure.  One thing I do know, it is very unlikely that I will stop beading, I have way too many ideas and too many beads for that.

I will be releasing some previously unreleased kits on the website, but most likely in small lots. I'm going to have a look at a few of my past favorites and think about re-inventing them.

Did you have a favorite you'd like to see come back?  I'm considering the bangles, crystal medallion bracelet, and perhaps another new Romantica.  Coming soon will be a Touch of Whimsy and you can still buy the few remaining Deco Bracelets.  I also ordered some amethyst stones for that one so I can do a bronze amethyst version.

Currently I have all three of these and will add them to the website (ahem, Mark actually adds them to the website and he's now painting the bedroom!) But stay tuned, it won't be too long.

Sadly you can't actually purchase this kit but I wanted to show it to you.  It's a Harold Cooney bead from my collection.  It worked nicely with this design.   This one was a gift to a special friend.

The Deco bracelet is currently available….and hopefully there will be an amethyst/bronze version in the not too distant future.

 Here are two I am considering bringing back….we'll see!

I'd like to revisit the crystal medallion bracelet in true craw instead of just raw with joined edges.  Which will of course require some sample making.

I am very grateful for the many bead stores and bead groups and the many many students who have entrusted me with their time and enabled me to share my knowledge and love of beading.  I hope to continue on the path of sharing by creating videos, writing tutorials, making a few kits here and there and accepting the odd engagement.  This year I will be at Beading by the Bay, Bead and Button and in England.  The second half of the year will be devoted to grand babies, travels and some much needed R&R!