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August 22, 2012

Organizing Jewelry Stringing Supplies

Help!  I've lost my jewelry making mojo!  After months of having more ideas than I could possibly keep up with - nothing!  Nada. Zip, Zilch...Cue the crickets!

OK, enough of the drama.  That's not entirely true.  There are some ideas floating around up there - but nothing that is getting executed.  And certainly no where near the artistic flow I was experiencing before my summer travels began.

It's frustrating.  How do you break out of your slump?!

For me, I need to get back in touch with my materials.  I need to see them, touch them, get enthusiastic about them!  And that means... ORGANIZE!!!  

I've already organized a lot of my beads - and the system is working.  I love the Darice containers.  They are a great size, I can see what I have in them and they are very portable.

I have also purchased some new bead organizers Portable Bead & Craft Storage Box With 52 Removable Compartments which have different sized containers - and they are working well to hold my findings, hanks of seed beads, etc.

Organizing Bead Stringing Supplies

Now that I've started dabbling with Kumihimo weaving, it makes sense for me to organize my stringing materials.  I have C-Lon cord and thread for stringing, macrame and kumihimo.  I have stretch magic elastic cord in several sizes that I use mostly for restringing bracelets for friends.  There's also the Beadalon and Soft Flex coated wire.  And spools of copper (there's only one shown below, but I just remembered where the rest is - and the artistic wire too!).  And spools of ribbon that I like to use when I package my jewelry for shipping or for gifts.

The rack I am using is a June Tailor Mini Mega-Rack ll thread holder and is pure genius!  I stand it on the table when I'm working, or hang it on the wall above the bookcase that holds all of my beads and findings.  I love being able to see all of the thread colors and hold them up to the beads to decide what to use.  I am pretty sure I could even put hanks of seed beads or hang strands of beads on it.  But I'll need a separate one for that!!

Most of all, I'll know where everything is!  I hate when I decide I want to make something and spend the first 30 minutes looking for the materials.  That can kill the creative process!

I don't quite have my jewelry making mojo back, but I'm working on it.  I'm hoping to post some new projects soon.  If you have any hints on how you get your creative juices flowing - I'd love to know!  In the meantime, I'll be shopping and organizing.  Oh yeah, and reading.  That always helps inspire me.

August 07, 2012

Starting out with Kumihimo Braiding

I got a kumihimo starter set in a surprise package from Wired Up Beads this summer.  I spent the last couple of weeks reading about kumihimo and searching the internet for examples and decided this trip would be the perfect time to try it out.

I have made only two braids so far.  The first one was just to get an idea of how the process works - following the directions that came with the Kumihimo Round Disk For Japanese Braiding and Cording.  It is an 8 cord braid.

The second braid is also done with 8 cords and was supposed to have a spiral pattern.  I thought I memorized the sequence correctly, but obviously I didn't.  I'll try that one today if I have time.

Both of the bracelets are pretty thin and could best be compared to friendship style bracelets.  It's a little disappointing since I'm way too old to be wearing a friendship bracelet (even though I am right now because my daughter bought me one in Boston), but I digress...

I am using Super-Lon Cord which I bought for micro-macrame.  It is the only cord that I have in lots of colors.  I also have some thicker 'fancy' cord that came with the starter kit, but I want to get the hang of it before I move on to using that.
My next step is to actually do a spiral braid and add beads.  I found this blog with great instructions for a variety of kumihimo braids.  It is called Life of Linuz and is in English and Norwegian.   Who would imagine I would be learning kumihimo from someone in Norway??  Actually - this is the spiral braid I'm going to try first (the other one is too advanced).  I figured I would leave both links.

The last picture is the view from my house in Cooperstown.  Every morning, the fog covers the valley and slowly burns off as the sun gets higher.  It is my favorite time of the day, for the view, and also because the house is quiet.  I am here with two other families so I relish the quiet time.  I love my housemates too though :)

August 06, 2012

Boston Beads

I'm on the road again.  I had no time to post while I was in Boston, but now that I'm in Cooperstown, NY (and there's nothing to do except for two baseball games a day), I'll be able to add my updates.  Oh yeah - the title is supposed to be a little word play on Boston Beans - but I doubt you would get that, so I figured I'd explain.
Boston was fabulous.  I lived there for 5 years while I went to college (BU), so it was like going home for me.  I'm very encouraged that my daughter loved everything about the city - and will be considering going to college there.  It's also where I fell in love with jewelry and started my journey learning to make it.

I was lucky enough to visit one of my favorite bead stores in Brookline called The Pear Tree.  They used to be a high end handcraft import store focused on jewelry and artifacts 25 years ago, but now they only have beads.  That's a little disappointing since their artwork, tapestries and hand crafts were some of the best around.

I bought a variety of beads that I could never find in California.  They are mostly Tibetan silver and turquoise.  I thought the prices were very reasonable.

I bought two cinnabar focal beads.  These are rather large and very detailed.  I hope they are real cinnabar (not that I'm very sure what that is), but I really like them and have not found anything like this in CA.

Here is a close-up of the Tibetan silver charms.  There are two Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu diety.   Ganesh is responsible for wisdom, learning, and removing obstacles.  But I bought these because I felt they were unusual and had great patina.  They don't appear to be mass produced, and a lot of the Himalayan silver is headed in that direction.

I also bought some Tibetan turquoise carved fetishes.  Two frogs and a duck.  The duck is my trip souvenir, since as I led my group of 11 tourists around Boston, they called me Mrs. Mallard after the Bronze statue in the Boston Public Garden.

I've always had a thing for frogs too.  I bought the large carved fetishes from another favorite bead and crystal shop in Brookline Village called Horai-San.  Just out of curiousity, I did a quick search on the meaning of Frog Totems.  Interesting.

Brookline is right outside Boston and is a beautiful town (it is where JFK was born).  It used to be very eclectic, but Coolidge Corner (my old stomping grounds) has sold out and is now boring and commercial.  Brookline Village, however, has retained its unique charm and individuality.  Thanks goodness everything has not gone to sh*t.  

One thing that has improved is my old apartment building.  Built in 1898, it was a rent control paradise when I lived there.  The road was gravel and the apartment was big - and cheap.  It has obviously gone condo since rent control went away.  It never looked this nice when I lived there!