Hanging out in Shreveport

Wow. What a retreat! The annual Shreveport Bead Retreat this weekend was a whirlwind of beady friend reunions and amazing classes and nonstop laughter, as per usual. There’s a reason why I look forward to the two bead retreats each year! We had a lot of new faces this year as some of our regulars had to sit out this retreat for a variety of reasons, and it was delightful getting to know and encourage them.

Julie, who sat near me, had never been to a retreat before and was nervous about entering the Bead Challenge. And guess who WON the challenge!! See, Miss Julie? Anne has been wanting to take my classes in the past, but they were always full by the time she got to do class sign-ups…this year she got into both of them and we are now fast friends! Leigh is a sweet, southern lady with the accent to prove it, but she’s sassy as they come! Love that! Rebecca came to the retreat from Arkansas for the first time after reading about it on my blog. We’re glad to have her! There are many more stories, but only so many brain cells left at this moment to tell them.

I taught two overflowing classes on Saturday, and they plumb wore me out! By the end of the day I’d lost my voice from talking nonstop. So after feeling completely worn out when I woke up Sunday morning, I made the decision to stay in Shreveport one more night so I could be fully rested before I take to the roads for my six hour drive. Driving sleepy is just too dangerous, and I’d have a lot of folks mad at me if I managed to kill myself by falling asleep behind the wheel. Besides, I have too many designs in my head that need to get out first. 🙂

A few teaching announcements: I’ll be teaching in Lake Jackson in December – classes to be determined. I’m going to teach a few class at the Bead Renaissance Show in San Antonio on Halloween weekend. I still need to pick which classes, but I’m pretty sure one will be the Kumihimo with Beads. We haven’t set the date yet for teaching in Ft. Worth for the Wild West Bead Society, but it will probably be in November. And I’ll also be teaching a class at Bead Crazee in Tyler – again, date and class to be determined. I’m gonna have a busy fall!!

Back to bed now so I can get an early start for home in the morning. Mom returns to work on Tuesday, so I’m going to take her out for a nice steak dinner Monday night. She’s got great timing – we’re having our roof replaced on Tuesday, and she’s going to miss the special excitement of being inside a house all day with all the banging and noise and insanity. I can’t wait to see how the dogs take it!

When Tools Attack

From June:
It probably says something about the state of (un)organization in our house that Jill could knock a whole rack of jewelry tools off the coffee table onto her foot. Or maybe the tools jumped. Who knows?

So we’re sitting there watching TV and calmly (I thought) putting together kits, when suddenly there is this crash and yelp from Jill. The first thing Jill says is (Jill being Jill): “Go get the camera.” Well, actually, that’s not true. The first thing she said was :”?*&@#%, that hurts” in an obvious ploy for sympathy. And THEN she said, “go get the camera.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when I get attacked by inanimate objects, I usually think “first aid”, THEN “camera.” It just goes to prove: anything for the blog.

So here are the photos, and please do not e-mail Jill that she needs a pedicure. She is aware.

Learning I’m normal

One of the great things about my job is that I get to work at home. But one of the bad things about my job is that I’m stuck at home. Usually alone and in a feedback vacuum. Logically, I know my beadwork projects and classes are good and that I have a large fan base. I know that we designers make it look easy, but the truth is that many of our projects are darned hard to figure out. I bead and rip it up. Bead it again and it’s still not right. Change a stitch. Change a color. Abandon projects altogether because it’s simply not the right time for that particular project to be born.

I deal with anxiety over wasting time going down these blind alleys – especially when I’m up against a deadline. I get frustrated and annoyed that I’m not a better beader. And God forbid that I go look at what other designers are doing – it’s always better than mine! I lost pretty much a whole day of productivity on Friday, moping about because I was feeling so unworthy by comparison to some new projects by a few of my favorite designers. (Poor Mom – having to deal with me.)

But Sunday, it was explained to me that I’m not alone in having these sorts of feelings by the one and only Marcia deCoster. She posted on her blog an entry explaining her quandary on these very kind of feelings that she’s been wrestling with. And then Rachel Nelson-Smith and Nan C. Meinhardt and Barb Switzer and Jean Power all chimed in on Facebook about it too. And suddenly, I wasn’t the weird one. I was normal.

I’m incredibly grateful that the beading community has found a way of coming together and sharing our stories and lives even though we live cross-country. The comfort and support is critical when you’re sitting at home for weeks on end and the inevitable self-doubt creeps in.

I like to joke with Mom that when I’ve been away from the shows too long, I need a “fix.” And it’s true! It’s a restocking of the creative juices, a reminder that I have a large league of fans who adore my work, and a face-to-face connection with the beaders (students and peers alike) who share my passion. I need you guys. I really do.

Let’s nickname them Vegas Rivolis!

Check out what Swarovski is coming out with…Ultra Rivolis! No info on a release date yet. Thanks to Dulcey Heller for the info!


….some unnamed necklace that I finally finished designing and beading tonight! Woo-hoo! I’m so very happy with it. As usual, it looks even a million bucks better in person than in the photo. I probably spent more time working out the details of this design than any other of my previous projects.

Simple and elegant is tough, you know. All the bits and pieces show – there’s no adding another layer of ruffles or crystals over here to hide that awkward bit over there. Nope. It all shows and it all counts and it had better be right. The necklace better curve properly. It can’t flip up when you wear it because it’s off balance. It took time, but it was worth it. And a full 10 days before the Bead & Button teaching submission deadline! (Gasp!)

My only problem at this point is a bit of “name the necklace” blockage. I’ve considered Crown Jewels. And Elizabeth (because it looks somewhat Elizabethan.) I think there’s probably something better though. What do you think? Help me brainstorm!!

On the mother front…I’ve got some good news to report. Mom’s knee is gradually getting better and better. It’s been such an elongated recovery compared to the first knee, but everyone assures us that this is a more normal type of healing process. We liked the freaky super fast one better.

So the tasks at hand for the week are to finish up all the B&B submissions and get those mailed out. Finish making up kits for the Shreveport Bead Retreat – I leave a week from Thursday for that. And to host the second part of a home class on Saturday. A hair appointment that I stole from Mom and a joint trip to get pedicures this week rounds things out.

*Note: I only stole the hair appointment because I am super duper desperate. My sister-in-law is my hair stylist, and she stopped working for a while because of this whole “giving birth to your nephew” thing, so my hair hasn’t been cut or colored in over 4 months. I can pretend the gray hairs glinting are highlights for only so long…

Winston likes class

One of Winston’s favorite things to do while we have classes going on here at the house is to pick one of the ladies’ bags to sleep on top of. Last week it was Nancy’s bags – what good taste he has!!

Stitching away

In two weeks, the big Bead & Button Show 2010 teaching proposals deadline arrives. Be there, or be absent from B&B teaching! Gulp.

I’ve already got a few things done and ready to go, but you can really never have too many proposals for them, so I’ve been working out at least one additional project this week. When I sat down with the beads my brain was a total blank. No inspiration at ALL. But I knew I needed to break through the beading block that was going on, so I simply started bead doodling. Making one tiny choice at a time. And I’ll be darned, but it worked. It hasn’t been the smoothest of projects, that’s for sure. I have a big ol’ pile of “not quite right” bits and pieces that I’ve been using to experiment with in order to find the right way to make it more beautiful. More streamlined. More elegant. Here’s just a small sneek peek – I have more beads on the way via mail order to finish it off and once I have it finalized I’ll share it with you, of course!

I’m not sure I’ll have time for yet another new project to be born since all the Bead & Button proposals require completed instructions to be submitted along with the physical samples. There will be some time spent writing the instructions for this new necklace (I dropped a hint!) that will probably be named “Elizabeth”. All the other instructions are completed, but I need to gather everything together, get it packaged, fill out the comprehensive teaching proposal documents online, and get it all mailed off by July 31st.

Weekend wore me out!

Wow – this was one heck of a weekend, and it traces all the way back to last Tuesday when Mom so innocently said, “Why don’t we stop at Ikea before we go home?” Little did I know her master plan!! We ended up purchasing some new cabinets for the office area where we also display seed beads and crystals for sale for the home classes. I’m thrilled to get new furniture that matches our desk and the cabinets in the studio, but it is Ikea after all, and must be assembled.

To make a long story shorter, let me try to summarize. This project involved two trips to Ikea, 10 different pieces and parts to assemble, the purchase of a combo screwdriver/drill to save my poor right hand (more on that in a minute,) moving roughly eleventy million items in the office to get the furniture placed, and a couple of well-timed curse words. It wouldn’t have been such an issue, except we had 10 women showing up on Saturday afternoon for a class so we had a HARD deadline!

We made it…barely…I finished all my tasks for the reorganization and for the class prep about 5 min. after the first student walked in. I’m absolutely loving the way the whole thing looks, so I know it was worth it. We used to have a large oval table in the middle of the room to put the beads on, and now the table is out of here and we can move in the room again. Delightful!

The class was Kumihimo with Beads, and everyone had a blast! I’ve already received three emails from the students saying how much fun they’re having with their new skill. Even the lady who swore to never touch Kumihimo because it was “boring.” HA! I showed you, Kathryn Duckett!

After having only three hours of sleep the night before, I must confess I was in bed for a long nap roughly 15 min. after the last student left, and then also slept a good part of the day on Sunday, catching up.

I’ve been having trouble off and on for the last few months with my hands (especially my right) tingling periodically. Over the last few weeks it’s gotten worse, and I woke up today with my right ring finger completely numb and without sensation for a good five min. I did some research on the internet and discovered it’s probably a compressed nerve in my elbow since what’s going on with me fits all those symptoms. I’ve started taking ibuprofin to reduce inflammation as well as icing it. When you make your living with your hands, it’s scary for this type of thing to happen.

I’ve also been on a bit of a beading break the last few weeks, mainly because I just felt creatively blocked. I should be designing up a storm at this time of year, but instead I hadn’t touched needle and thread at all. This type of “beading block” has happened to me in the past – it rarely lasts more than two weeks, so it’s no big deal other than the fact that I’m facing some BIG 2010 class proposal deadlines at the end of the month. The timing could have been better. I’m pleased to report, though, that the block has been broken through tonight. I think I managed to work up a piece that will be incredibly popular and pleasing – I’m still working out the details of it, but it’s looking really good at this point. Thank goodness!!

I’ll try to shoot some photos Monday of the new office space layout.

K-9 Hunter – ATF

Many of my local students have had the honor of meeting Hunter, a very special dog who was part of Claire’s family. Hunter was an explosives dog for the ATF when he wasn’t busy attending bead classes with his mama, or playing with all the toys that Kathy so lovingly repaired, over and over.

Hunter was diagnosed with cancer last August, and retired from service in January. I’m so very sad to tell you guys that Hunter died Wednesday, July 8th. He was amazingly healthy -despite his treatments – up until the last few weeks. The end, when it came, came quickly for which we all can be grateful.

I’ll miss you and your big head and your doggie kisses, Mr. Hunter. You were one of a kind.

Hunter is survived by his mother, Claire, his father, Tommy, and his new sister canine, Farley. Miss Farley, you have some big ATF shoes to fill.


Another Kumihimo with beads sample…