Home, Sweet Home

The trip home was uneventful – I even mysteriously sailed through security for the first time in years! And blissfully, I had an empty seat beside me on both legs of the trip. On the first flight it was literally the ONLY empty seat. Even better, with Anne pep talk (she’s so good at it) I was driven to be working on new designs while on the airplane and I accidentally hit on something really good! I mean, Really Good. It’s not ready to share yet because I’m still working out design elements, but I’m so pleased with it. I should have bought a lottery ticket yesterday! But I was too darned tired to stop until I hit my driveway.

After being greeted by waggy tails and puppy dog kisses, a little purring from the feline contingent, and a quick run through Sunday’s newspapers, I collapsed in bed. Only to have nightmares about showing up to teach a class and finding out that I’d lost the instructions. So I was trying to write and draw a new set while they sat there staring at me with nothing to do, getting madder and madder. I finally finished drawing them by the time the class was supposed to be over and the group was pretty livid by that point. Ugh!

I’m teaching the second part of a class tonight at Nomadic Notions and the irony is that I’m so tired and disconnected from life here in Austin that at this moment I can’t even remember which class it is. But don’t worry! I’ll look it up and they already have their instructions since it’s the second night of a two part – that I remember!!

I’m feeling very grateful today on many fronts.

Greetings from Sunny Miami

Happy first birthday my sweet niece, Alexis!! Aunt Jilly loves you!

Finally – a moment to catch up! This weekend in Miami has been a whirlwind, as shows usually are. The trip to Miami was uneventful despite American Airlines best efforts. I did learn, however, that traveling with an expired driver’s license sucks because they make you go through the extra security check stuff when you do. Oopsie. Although I often have to go through the extra check anyway because of all the crazy stuff I’m carrying in my bag, so I just assume and build it into my airport time anyway.

The show was on the smaller side for me, but fun in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I was lucky enough to have my booth next to Anne Mitchell, a fabulous chain maille artist and metalsmith. I’ve known who she was for years but had never had the opportunity to get to know her. After this weekend we’re fast friends and I know we will stay that way. She’s wicked funny and amazing at what she does and a generous soul to boot.

Sharon Hessoun was my roommate for the weekend. She and I met in Philadelphia at Bead Fest last August when we both were teaching there. She does this really cool wire knitting stuff and I even bought one of her kits to play with. In my spare time – you know. Ahem. She’s a hoot and a half too!

We also hung out with the Jane’s Fiber and Beads gals several nights – hilarity ensued, shoes were lost, the waitress was a saint. Good times with good people. I can’t wait for the next show.

Usually I’m such a hermit at the shows, but this weekend has taught me what I’m missing out on by doing so. The beading community is awesome – welcoming, exciting, interactive, and slightly wacky. Just the way I like it. So I think I’m “doomed” to socialize with all my new friends at shows in the future. What a terrible thing! (I can’t wait for Bead & Button!)

So later today I brave the trek back home. I have a huge seed bead order that will probably be there by the time I get back, so the rest of the week is focused on getting kits prepared for the back-to-back Stafford/Houston and Bead & Button shows that are closer than I can believe, making samples for 2009 class submissions, sending in a few submissions to magazines, and, if I’m lucky and the gods are good, a massage.

PLEASE let me have a flight

So I wake up this morning to news of the 1,000 flight cancellations that American Airlines has made today, and warnings that they may continue tomorrow also. And while my flight from Austin to Houston is on Continental, Houston to Miami is American, of course. And now there’s roughly 100,000 people who’s flights were cancelled, trying to get to their destinations. Tomorrow figures to be interesting, eh? I figure I’m going to make sure I have a good bead project and a couple of books. Luckily I have some wiggle room in my schedule. As long as I get to Miami by early Friday I’m good. After that, I’m not so happy.

I wanted to share with you guys a photo that Daryne sent me a few days ago. She’s a fast beader! She got the directions for Josephine’s Fortune just a few weeks ago and has already completed this one for her mother for Mother’s Day. She’s planning on making one for herself now in greens and copper. Gorgeous!!

I’ll try to keep the blog updated while I’m in Miami. The hotel has the nerve to charge $10 a day for internet access, but they also have a business center so if I can find the energy I’ll post from there. Or I’ll pop for the $10 a day. Because a Jilly without internet is a Jilly breaking out in hives. I don’t know how people existed without it!

29 hours left to take off

Not that I’m counting or anything. I fly out of Austin at 7am on Thursday and I have so very much to do between now and then. I have a few last minute kits to put together, although not many. Laundry needs to be finished so packing can happen. I need to sort through all the samples and make sure I have all the ones I need safely packed.

The samples always go with me in person. No shipping. No checked luggage. Can you imagine if they all got stolen or lost? That’s months of beading that would be gone! So I’m pretty protective of my babies.

I always try to get a seat on the aisle too, so on the longer segments I can bead. I don’t bother pulling the stuff out if it’s only an hour or shorter, but longer flights are great for beading as long as I don’t pour out lots of beads at a time. You know I have that list of 25 beading projects I need to make some progress on!

And what have I been doing tonight instead of working on the beading project list? Well, first I taught a class tonight. And I was happy to see some new folks in the room – I love you “usual” gals, but we need fresh blood every once in a while too! When I came home I started working on a Laura McCabe kit that came in the mail today instead of doing my own projects. Sigh! But sometimes it’s important to see how other folks in my world are doing things. Compare my kits to some of the big names out there. Make sure they don’t have any great ways of doing things that I’m missing out on.

I’m happy to say that I still feel like my kits are great values and projects. Example: Laura’s instructions are solely for those beaders who already have previous knowledge of a lot of beading techniques. She gives abbreviated instructions and the diagrams in this set of instructions are actually hand-drawn. Not even computer graphics like I do. They’re hard to follow – I’m doing a lot of going back in forth in the instructions to catch what she’s talking about. They reference using Crystal Fireline in the instructions due to the color of the beads being used, but the Fireline they included in the kit was Smoke, so I had to go track down my own. And the biggest thing for me is that she’s got you doing things like making four passes of thread through a Size 15 Czech seed bead which I’m here to tell you is almost impossible. I tried it, but actually broke the bead trying to force the needle through. So I came up with a work around, but can everyone? And why do it if it’s so hard to do? That’s a design problem in my eye. I would never purposely do that to any of my customers.

On the other hand, the way she’s put the project together is giving me some ideas for my own, so like I said, it’s important to do this. I try to buy one or two kits a year from some of the big names and even if I don’t have time to do the projects just reading through their instructions and seeing how they’re putting things together is very useful continuing education.

I promised Kathryn tonight at class that I was going to post a photo I got from one of my fabulous customers of her Josephine’s Fortune necklace, but I’m tired! So I’m off to bed right now, and I’ll post it tomorrow. A little last show and tell before I take to the skies.

It’s amazing what you find…

…when you clean! My bead room has been out of control ever since we moved into the new house in Sept. I’m finally making a lot of progress, though. Having the bead garage sale a few weeks ago helped weed out things I’m no longer using and forced quite a bit of clean up in finding the things that needed to go in the sale.

You know how you always have the best of intentions when you move? That you’re going to pack in a very organized fashion. Like things will be packed with like things. Boxes will be carefully labeled with the contents. And then reality hits and you’re out of time and things start flying into any box that’s nearby with a smidge of room left and labeling? HA! Well, I had about six bead boxes like that when we first moved in. I’m down to two that haven’t been gone through and sorted now which I call major headway. Those boxes are the pits to go through!

Once everything is sorted and more or less put in a spot, then I plan on doing a second round of organizing and sorting to make things more efficient. For instance, I keep all my beads in drawers, and right now I have several drawers labeled Gemstones, several labeled pressed glass – all of which could be consolidated and organized better. I need a list of what seed beads I own so when I go shopping I stop buying the same tubes over and over again like a magpie.

I bought one of those label makers that attaches to your computer and it’s the best thing since Swarovski crystals. I love that sucker! Sit still for long enough in my house and you may find yourself slapped with a label!

Mother/Daughter day

After a crummy night’s sleep (my back was hurting and keeping me up) I woke up this morning and puttered around the house for a while. Then Mom & I decided to go see a movie. We saw “The Bank Job” which was really quite good. We saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse, which, for those of you not in Austin is a movie theater where they serve you food at your seat too. And not just junk, but really good quality stuff so it’s a unique event when you go.

Afterward we stopped by a nursery that is so popular they have to hire parking staff to coordinate people in the parking lot. Seriously! The day was perfection so it doesn’t surprise me how many folks were there. We managed to buy a few things for the yard. Mom’s still in planting mode despite hobbling around in that bootie of hers. I’m going to have to sit on her tomorrow to keep her from doing too much. I’ll do it, too – just watch me!

Then a drop by visit to my brother’s house so we could get a baby fix. My niece, Alexis, turns 1 year old next week. I’ll be missing her birthday party because I’ll still be in Miami for Bead Fest, but the following week she’s staying with Mom & me for 4 straight days while her parents escape to Las Vegas. I hope we survive! She’s such a doll, though, and good natured almost all the time. She adores the dogs, so that’s always fun to watch. She’s learned how to give kisses now. Heart breaker!

So by the time we got back home, we were both wiped out. I haven’t gotten much work done today which is scary since I’ve got to ship my boxes to Miami on Monday. All the kits need to be finished and packed by mid-day Monday. The good news is that I don’t teach on Sunday so I’ve got all day plus Mom’s help. Thank goodness for mommies!


I’ve always been a list-maker and it’s more important now than ever before for me. I can’t keep everything straight in my head and when I try, my head threatens to explode. Before it reaches the detonation point, I end up having a manic list-making session to organize myself.

I was up until 5am the other night doing just that…now, I’m a night owl as we all know. But 5am is extreme even for me. I usually top out around 3am. But I couldn’t turn off the wheels in my brain until I had everything safely written down, so the birdies and I greeted daylight together.

My lists were a simple “to-do” for my regular life, a “to-do” for Tapestry Beads, and the big, honkin’ one – a beading projects that need to be made list. Samples make my world go around. I need samples for display at Nomadic Notions, I need samples for display at bead shows, I need samples to turn in to Bead & Button when proposing classes for the B&B Show annually, I need samples for any projects I submit for publication, and I need samples to wear. All of that has finally gotten to the point where I can no longer keep up making all the samples! My list that I worked up has 25 projects that I need to get made and that’s not really including a lot of new stuff. Maybe 4 of them are new – things I’m working out the design on that I want to submit for classes for 2009.

Believe it or not, the deadlines for the national bead classes for 2009 are right around the corner. The first one is May 15. That means I’ve got to be on the creative ball NOW so I can have the projects worked out, photographed, blurbs and supply lists written, and all properly documented in time.

My calendars and my lists. My lifeline.

If it ain’t your mother, it’s your dog

While Mom is hulking around the house with her ski boot foot and coming to terms with needing to let her foot heal, the new problem child is Winston, our puppy. He’s 10 months old now – old enough that he needs to stop eating EVERYTHING. And I’m not even kidding one little bit.

We knew pretty early after getting him that we were going to have to be careful about the beads for a while until he grew up. And sure enough there was a famous Delica incident that caused him to have very sparkly poop for a day or two. And then there was the time I pulled Fireline out of his butt. He eats paper, books, stuffed animals, shoes, pens, hair clips, his brush, chewy bones that aren’t supposed to be destructible, clothing (he’s a total pantie thief), the tv remote control….it goes on and on. It takes me 20 minutes to pick up everything at night to puppy proof the house before I go to bed.

But this is really the ultimate. Mom had gone to bed and left her beading tray on the coffee table. No problem – I was still up and he doesn’t usually get destructive until no one’s around. But then I was in the office for a while on the computer and all of a sudden I hear the noise of his tag clinking against the plastic beading tray…so I jumped up and ran in there and sure enough, he was on the coffee table, the tray was askew, and he was chewing. So I swooped in and stuck my fingers in his mouth and came out with a very beautiful pink beaded flower for a new project Mom’s working on. Snatched out of the very jaws of destruction! Victory!

But not quite. Mom realized the next day that her bobbin of thread was missing from the tray. We searched and searched and couldn’t find it. Verdict? Winston ate it. Would it come out? Come unraveled? Did we need to take him to the vet? He started having some weird action from both ends of him, but we never saw the spool of thread ejected. So now we’re not sure. I’m keeping a close eye on him for signs of distress, but so far so good.

And he’s got a cast iron stomach, it seems. We had given him some hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting to get it up that way and it didn’t even phase him. When I did that to my late dog, Kirby, after he’d gotten into some ant poison, Kirby frothed at the mouth for an hour after.

Winston is something else. And with a little luck, he might even make it to adulthood.

What a difference a bead makes

I often tell my classes that not all beads are equal, no matter what the size number is. A Japanese size 11 is about the same size as a Czech size 10. Usually. Unless they aren’t. I related how I was struggling with adapting my Czech bead version of the Leaf Tipped Lariat to a Japanese version, and I finally gave up.

Here’s a photo of what I’m talking about. The top one is the reject. You can see much more of the core beads (although it’s not as aparent in this photo), and see how much bigger those Size 6 beads are in the center of each loop? the lines of the light amethyst don’t sit as well because of how big the Size 6 beads are at the core, and last, but not least, the dark amethyst is much darker in the Czech version on the bottom.

But it’s not just that. I also have been working on a personal necklace from my Bubbles & Bumps class. (Kit version is on the way – beads to be ordered after I get back from Miami.) I’m doing it in Brown Iris, which is a favorite bead color of mine and as I was working along I realized that I had purchased some Czech one-cuts in Brown Iris not so long ago, and I should be using the one-cuts for extra sparkle. So I started over with the one-cuts. (Side note: I’d actually purchased some from two different vendors – and guess what? They’re really different colors. I had to dump them together and mix them to get enough for this project.) And as I’m going along, all of a sudden the spacing on the necklace seemed quite different. I put the original version with Czech size 11s next to the new version with Czech size 11 one-cuts, and the size of those beads is totally different! AGH!! In this case it doesn’t matter much. I was easily able to make the changes necessary for it to work, but it’s not always that easy.

I’m a little worried about a new class I’ll be teaching at Nomadic Notions this summer called Ring Around the Rosie. Making the circles ruffled the way they should look for this project calls for very exact bead sizes to make it work. But I know not everyone will purchase their beads at Nomadic Notions for the class. Some will bring beads in from the outside. And a Toho size 11 is twice the width of a Miyuki size 11. I’ve decided when I do the kit version, I’m only going to sell it as a kit because if you get the instructions and buy beads that don’t work together, not everyone will understand that it’s because of the beads and not the designer, ya’ know?

A day in the life. Seed bead minutia.

If it ain’t one thing, it’s your mother

I swear! I’ve got to watch that woman every moment. We had some excitement at Casa de Wiseman this weekend when Mom decided to be Wonder Woman. She was building a new raised bed garden for some roses we bought the previous weekend, and of course those 75lb stones left by the masons who did our house would be the perfect thing. And they will look quite perfect! But getting them from one side of the yard to the other is the part that tripped her up. Literally.

We figured out that she could flip them end over end on to a dolly, then use the dolly to get them across the yard. We were quite proud at our ingenuity. Until the dolly hit a divot in the yard, the stone fell….you see where this is going, right?? Mom’s foot happened to be in the way as the stone came crashing down.

Now the thing that saved worse catastrophe was that she was wearing socks and shoes (protecting the pedicure she and I had both gotten that morning) and that the stone hit the side of her foot rather than dead on top. But even so, it immediately puffed up to the size of a softball – it was scary – I didn’t know your skin could stretch so dramatically. I took her to minor emergency and they loaded her up with a bootie and crutches. They couldn’t tell right away from the xray if the foot was broken or not. Too much swelling.

She went to see her regular doc about it today, and she said they will treat it as if it’s broken anyway, so Mom’s getting a new, more stabilizing bootie to wear for the next 3-6 weeks. Sigh. Of course, it could have been so much worse.

In beady news, that darned lariat kit is giving me fits. When I made the first sample for the store I do a lot of teaching at, Nomadic Notions, I was using the Czech seed beads they have there. I was so thrilled with the way the colors flowed that I decided to use the same color scheme for the kit version. Easy! Except I use Japanese seed beads for the kits. And converting the colors over seems like it would be simple, but it turns out it’s not. I’ve been working on the kit sample and the colors just weren’t popping the right way. Plus a Japanese Size 6 seed bead is significantly taller than a Czech Size 6 which is effecting the way everything is laying. So I made the choice last night to stop trying to force it to work with the Japanese beads, and I ordered some Czech to use in the kit. Actually, I just ordered small quantities of several colors that appear to be the right ones. I want to check them in person before I order masses of them. So the lariat kit is delayed and now I won’t have it for Bead Fest Miami in 10 days. Bummer. But I want it to be right for ya’ll. That’s what you pay me for!! To do the digging for the right beads and the goofing up.