Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer's End


Ethan on Peter's Hill, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I am off this week and trying to catch up on some things, like cleaning the studio. I haven't been in the studio too much at all this summer. The weather has been too nice to be inside. Much too hot to run the kiln. As a result everything is dusty, and messy and very disorganized. Yesterday I bought some plastic bins and started organizing things so I can find everything. Sometimes it takes me so long to find something that before I can find it, I lose the inspiration for whatever it was I was going to make. Sigh.

I am also just going to try and enjoy this last week of summer. It is bittersweet for me. Camp is over. No more lunches to pack or buses to catch. At the same time, summer is ending. No more bike rides. I will miss that the most. Some hard core riders ride all winter. Not me. I am a fair weather bike rider. On Saturday I took Ethan to the Arboretum for one last ride before school and sports start. He'll be busy with friends and school and won't have too much time for grandma. That is as it should be!

He was able to make it all the way to the top of Peter's Hill and I think he was quite pleased with himself. Although he did whine all the way home. The round trip ride is over 13 miles so I am not surprised! He did a good job anyway!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Blue Spruce and Memories

The first time I saw this blue spruce at the Arboretum, it made me cry. I know that is pretty ridiculous right? The tears just came out of nowhere. I was riding my bike in the peace and tranquility that is the Arboretum. Enjoying all the huge trees and the healing sense they give me. Then suddenly I saw this one and the sweet memory of my grandmother came rushing in.

I spent a large part of my childhood at my grandmother's house in Newton. In those days, everyone seemed to have a grandparent living in Newton! My grandmother (or Nana as I called her) had a tree in her yard very much like this one. Not as large of course. This one is much older than my grandmothers tree was. But you just don’t see trees like this anymore. Sadly, many of them have been cut down to make room for yet another overly large house and the ubiquitous lawns that seem to go with them. Since this one is protected at the Arboretum, it still stands proudly.

My grandmother adored me and I her. She never stopped spoiling me. My mother, being rather strict, would never let me eat candy or stay up late to watch horror movies. But Nana would take me to the A&P (where Whole Foods is now) and buy these giant over-sized Hershey bars for us to snack on. We would crawl into her bed late at night and watch Frankenstein or the Mummy until the wee hours eating candy. Or we would go out for ice cream to Brighams and get ice cream cones with jimmies on them. (Sprinkles for those of you not from Boston).
Often she would take me to Woolworths (yes a store from a bygone era) and buy me toys. I still remember a doll called Betsy Wetsy. I know I am really showing my age on that one. Betsy Wetsy was of course just what she sounds like. She came with a bottle and two holes. One in her mouth and the other...... well, you know where.

Very often I would rummage through Nana’s drawers and play dress up. She had lovely silk scarves that I would wrap myself up in like a sari. There were gorgeous hand beaded bags which I still have tucked away. I really should display them. Of course there was the jewelry. I really think my love of jewelry began in those drawers. Most of it was costume jewelry. My grandmother was a big woman and wore big jewelry. Much larger than I would ever wear now. But in those days I was small and the bigger the jewelry, the better!

Funny how seeing one tree conjured up all these memories of my grandmother. I miss her every day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I finally got it!


Open triangle and toggle, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.

I have been busy teaching myself beadweaving stitches in what little spare time I have. I finally succeeded in the open triangle. I kept missing the “step up” much to my dismay. I think I can recognize where it is located now. I am fine when it doesn't move but having it move all over the place is a bit of a challenge. I screwed up quite a few of these babies. But here is a successful one. I hope to use this as some kind of component in my jewelry. I like to make small components and then play with them and combine them in different ways. I am not very good at planning jewelry designs ahead. I like to wing it. Let the work surprise me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Etsy Wider Pages Brouhaha

There is a bit of a storm brewing on Etsy ever since they redesigned the shop layout page. I really like it but not everyone is of the same mind. With the wider page and the larger photos, the look is much cleaner and the images really pop off the page. You had better have good photos now because there is no hiding from them!
Also, the banners are an issue. I had to re-design mine on the fly when I realized it was too busy for the new look. I tweaked it until it looked right to me. I ended up making the background white and just tracking the type a bit to fill the space. I also changed the locations of my little decorative icons. I think it looks much better now.

Banner Before Redesign:




Banner After Redesign:




Now about that new announcement section. That is a different story.  I am no fan of the long announcement but there are many who are. Even then, it looks odd with the new placement of it. In a way it looks like a mistake or an afterthought. A lot of people are complaining about it so perhaps Etsy will give it a tweak. Now if they would just allow us to change our usernames.....Mine makes no sense at all. RobertaWa......It really looks like an error. When I signed up for etsy all those years ago, I had no idea my username would haunt me as it has. I just want to add my last name in full.....please etsy....

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Mixed bag....



We had a mixed bag of a weekend. Friday we went out to Springfield to the Mineral and Fossil show. Friday traffic was really horrendous and I just wanted to turn around and go home. But of course on the Mass Pike there is no turning around. You are stuck there, with the windows rolled up, so as not to breathe in all the exhaust fumes for what seems like an eternity. The time spent sitting there can never be recovered.
By the time we got to the exposition center it was way past lunch time and of course the food stand was a scary mix of hot dogs and hamburgers. Foods I just will not eat unless I am stranded in the desert with nothing...and even then I would have to be at deaths door. Anyway, they had warm pretzels so I got one of those. It was so salty. Blech. I scraped off what I could and ate it.
After walking up and down the aisles, I didn’t see anything that excited me too much. After all, once you have been to Tucson anything else pales in comparison. I did meet a wonderful paleontologist with some incredible fossils. He had real dinosaur eggs! As I held one in my hand it occurred to me that I was holding in my hand something hundreds of millions of years old. Pretty impressive. I bought a trilobite fossil for my grandson.  He was quite happy to add it to his collection of rocks and other assorted interesting ephemera.
My husband bought a few things. Ever since I took him to Tucson last winter, he has discovered that he likes geodes and minerals that have been carved or shaped in some way. So he has started a small but interesting collection which I will photograph and post at some point soon.
After the show we drove up to Northampton where I paid a visit to WEBS bead store. They have a wonderful selection of delicas and tohos. I was in bead heaven in there and somehow managed to spend over $100. The only problem was that I forgot my Myuki durability list and so I bought a few beads that have color fading issues. I am going to have to spray those with Krylon before I use them. By then we were in serious need of a sit down so we headed for the local coffee shop where we had a much needed iced coffee. Afterwards it was on to the Raven bookstore. “The Raven” is a fantastic used book store in Northampton. If you are ever in the area do make it a point to stop in. They have so many books! I always find something. I found a wonderful book on Indian textiles and a book on magic tricks for my magician grandson.
After a lovely vegetarian dinner at Paul and Elizabth's  we headed home.  I kind of wish we would have planned to stay overnight in Northampton. It would have made the trip more relaxing. Oh well. Next time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beads, Beads and more Beads.....


RAW first piece, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
One thing that has really astounded me since I began adding beadwork to my repertoire is the number of wonderful bead designers that are out there! I really had no idea there was so much innovative work being done. Not to mention the unbelievable number of stitches there are to learn. I love how all the stitches look so very different and at how they effect the final design of the piece.

I recently discovered this beader, Nancy Cain. Here work is so perfect and beautiful. It is wonderful to have so many inspiring pieces to look at. One other thing I have found is that within the beading community are some of the most helpful people I have ever met. If I ever have any questions, there are usually many people I can turn to who will have the answer.

I have compiled a list of some of my favorite bead links here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

I have decided to take the last week of the summer off from work as a sort of mental health week. I really need some down time after a very busy summer of making his lunches and taking Ethan to the bus for camp every day. Both he and my daughter will be going away for that week and I will have the entire week to myself. I really need to get in my studio and clean. It is a mess in there. More so than usual. When I can’t even stand to be in there, you know it must be bad.
Also, I want to ride my bike as much as possible since once September comes I don’t ride as much. Too cold, too windy, too something. I am what you call a fair weather cyclist. I can’t stand riding in anything but the most perfect warm conditions. What can I say. I will never make the Tour de France.
I want to do some beading of course. That seems to be a given these days. I have to say that I feel a little guilty. Over the past few years I have spent thousands of dollars on jewelry making tools. Every time I take a class and learn a new technique, I buy the tools. I have an entire set of anticlastic tools I bought from Micheal Good. Of course these are extra special because he hand-makes all his tools for class. Then there are all the third arms, the various fluxes, the hammers, oh the infinite hammers, the pliers, the very expensive steel dapping tools, the wooden dapping tools, the round mandrels, the oval mandrels, the flush cutters of every conceivable brand. Then there are all the gems, the pearls, the wire, sterling, fine silver, the enamels. I did trade in all my unused sheet recently in exchange for metal clay from Rio. That alone was almost $600 worth of sheet.
Some of the things I have learned about making jewelry are that you may not like all the techniques. Some take more patience than others. For example I learned early on that I hate soldering. I loved the anticlastic raising but it gave me horrible pains in my wrists. Reluctantly, I had to stop.
Same with the enameling. I loved it, but all the sanding and stoning was causing my wrists a lot of pain.
So I guess I will just be happy that the metal clay and the beading don’t seem to bother me and keep doing those things and try not to feel too guilty about all the expensive tools that just sit there. Good thing I never did buy that rolling mill.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

RAW first piece


RAW first piece, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
This is my first piece of right angle weave. I took multiple tubes of a variety of metallic beads and just dumped them into a bowl. I was afraid if I did it all in one color I would get bored.
I am hoping to add some metal clay embellishments to this when I am done.
I like the right angle weave a lot and hope to improve my skills with this stitch very soon. It seems like a stitch which can be personalized more than some of the other stitches.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gate Exhibition at Rockwell Museum

One of my favorite places to go in the Berkshires is the Norman Rockwell museum. Not the actual museum, but the grounds. They usually always have some interesting sculpture. This photo was taken a couple of years ago. The exhibit was called “Garden Gates”. It was just lovely and this one is one of my favorite pieces from the show. Both this year and last year they did not have an outdoor exhibit and so I was a bit disappointed. I do hope that they don't stop having them because the grounds truly are lovely and it would be a shame to stop.

On another note, I made our reservations for Tucson this winter. We are staying at the "Westward Look" again. We really loved that place since it is one of the only resorts that does not have a golf course. We don't golf and I actually do not like golf courses. I am visually offended by them. All that land, wasted on grass,fertilizer, and water. So at least I have something wonderful to look forward to this winter in the midst of all the horrible cold.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Delica Beads and Durability

One of the things I have learned thanks to the wonderful and oh-so-helpful beader, Lidia Cimins, is that some of the Delica beads have finishes on them that do not hold up under certain conditions. This concerns me since I want my jewelry and anything I make out of them to have durability. I have heard that some people spray their beads with Krylon first and that this protects the finish. However, I am not sure that I want to be using that stuff. It is pretty smelly and toxic and I try to keep a green studio as much as I can.
So over the past few days I have been compiling a chart to help me see at a glance which colors are durable and which are not. Lidia directed me to a chart online called miyukidurability. Being a very visual person however, this only partly helped me. So I went to  Fox Den beads and took screen shots of the colors. I matched them up with their durability list and created a pdf that I hope will help me when I am placing orders online for beads.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More triangles


More triangles, originally uploaded by Roberta Warshaw.
I cannot stop making these triangles. Weaving them is the most relaxing, fun thing I have found in a long time. Most jewelry making steps stress me out. Especially things like soldering or enameling. Metal Clay is the most stressful of all. Will the clay dry out too soon? Will I be able to sell things I make with it, thus insuring I can buy more metal clay. Don't get me wrong. I love metal clay. I won't stop working in it. But I really like the very zen activity of bead weaving and I am going to just relax and see where it takes me.