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Thursday, January 17, 2013


I have been getting questions about where I will be teaching so I am happy to say that the 2013 class schedule for the Innovative Beads Expo shows is now on their website. First, the projects I will be teaching:
Around the Bend

Learn bead crochet with the slip stitch method, the one most commonly used to make the popular bead crochet ropes. Students will make a 3.5 inch tube of size 8̊ beads that can be strung as a straight tube or turned into a teardrop-shaped pendant with a few simple wire work techniques. You will learn how to string beads in a pattern, bead crochet in the round, add a new thread; finish a piece with bead caps, and how to combine the bead crochet tube with wire and crystals to create a fun focal piece.

Students must know how to make a slip knot and chain stitch before class.

Class Fee: $60. Pre-register and save $10.
Kit fee: $30
Kit Includes: Size 8̊ Japanese seed beads, size 8̊Japanese hex or triangle beads, nylon crochet thread, bead caps, Thunder Polish crystals, assorted accent beads and metal charms, 20 or 22 gauge wire, ribbon or cord, crochet hook, beading needles, and safety pin.

Students to bring: scissors, bead mat, task light (optional); also round-nose pliers, chain-nose pliers, diagonal wire cutters, and nylon-jaw pliers if you wish to make the tear-shaped pendant.

DATES AND SHOWS: March 16, Fishkill, NY; April 28, Edison, NJ    
Russian Around

With just thread and needle, you can make these striking earrings or pendants. Using a variation of the Russian spiral stitch, students will make a tube of bugle beads and seed beads. Then we will join the tube into a circle and embellish it with sparkly Swarovski crystals and more seed beads. Add a seed bead loop on top for an ear wire or neck cord and you are ready to wear your new creation.

Class Fee: $60.00 Pre-register and save $10.
Kit fee: $25
Kit contains: bugle beads, seed beads, Swarovski crystals, ear wires, thread, and beading needles.

Students to bring: scissors, bead mat, task light (optional), magnifiers
(optional) if you have trouble working with small beads.

DATES AND SHOWS:  July 13, Edison, NJ; October 12, Edison, NJ; December 7, Fishkill, NJ

Fancy Pants

Start from the very beginning and learn to crochet beads with a chain stitch to make this sparkly necklace that combines pretty nylon cord with a variety of larger beads. Students will learn how to string beads in a pattern, crochet the basic slip knot and chain stitch, crochet with beads, braid 3 strands together, fasten a clasp, and make dangles. No crochet experience needed.

Class Fee: $60. Pre-register and save $10.
Kit fee: $30
Kit contains: nylon cord, size 6̊ seed beads, Magatama drops, 6 mm stardust beads, 4 mm stardust beads, 6 mm beads, 8 mm beads, vintage Czech beads, bead caps, clasp, jump rings, crochet hook, and needle.

Students to bring: scissors, bead mat, pliers for opening jump rings, task light (optional).

DATES AND SHOWS: March 17, Fishkill, NY; April 27, Edison, NJ; November 17, Secaucus; December 8, Fishkill, NY 
Turkish Delight

Using a bead crochet stitch that I learned in Turkey, this sparkly bracelet is for the beader who wants to go beyond the standard tubular bead crochet and work with loops of beads. Students will learn how to string beads in a pattern and crochet the Turkish Loops stitch in the round. Once the bead crochet is done, students will make a button and loop closure and embellish the loop with peyote stitch or needle-woven flowers and leaves. Bead crochet experience is helpful.

Class Fee: $60. Pre-register and save $10.
Kit fee: $35
Kit Includes: over 150 4mm, Czech, fire-polished beads, 11° Japanese seed beads, assorted beads for closure loop, 2 bead caps, 1 button, 1 spool braided nylon cord, Fireline, steel crochet hook, and beading needles.

Students to bring: scissors, bead mat, task light (optional), magnifiers
(optional) if you have trouble working with small beads.

DATES AND SHOWS: July 13, Edison, NJ; October 13, Edison, NJ; November 16, Secaucus, NJ; December 7, Fishkill, NY

Wire Crochet
Learn to crochet with wire by making this fun flower and the charming birds nest earrings. Students will learn which sizes of wire are best for crochet, tricks for working with wire, the chain stitch, single crochet, how to add beads to your work, and how to crochet flat shapes and in the
round. Crochet experience helpful but not necessary.

Class Fee: $60. Pre-register and save $10
Kit fee: $30
Kit includes: practice wire, 28 gauge colored wire, 24 gauge colored wire, seed beads, Swarovski pearls, long Magatama beads, ear wires, 2 crochet hooks

Students to bring: scissors, bead mat, diagonal wire cutters, nylon-jaw pliers, chain-nose or round-nose pliers (optional), task light (optional).

DATES AND SHOWS: March 16, Fishkill, NY; April 27, Edison, NJ;
October 12, Edison, NJ; November 16, Secaucus, NY 

For Registration, Click on the Appropriate Link Below:
March 16, 17: Fishkill, NY
April 27, 28: Edison, NJ
July 13, 14: Edison, NJ
October 12, 13: Edison, NJ
November 16, 17: Secaucus, NJ
December 7,8: Fishkill, NY

Hope to see you at one of the shows.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


     This is what happens when you watch the latest Dr. Who Christmas special about predatory snow at midnight on a cold, winter's night with spike beads sitting on the table beside you.
     For those of you who haven't seen them yet, the Czech glass spike beads are one of  the new offerings from York Beads and come in 4 sizes from 12x18 mm ones down to 5x8 mm mini-spikes.  I used the 5x8mm beads in opal and crystal AB, size 12 Japanese seed beads, two eye beads, and a white/crystal decorative thread to bead crochet this little monster.  Good thing we don't see snow like this in my neighborhood.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Friday, our last day in Rome, was reserved for visiting the Vatican Museum.  I bought tickets online before we left and I was so glad that I did.  
See this line that stretches as far as you can see?  That is the line to buy tickets, which we got to skip.
Guidebooks warn that the museum is crowded in the morning; we can attest to that fact.

View of part of the city from the second floor of the museum.

We saw so many mosaics...

including one that looked like the bowl of porcini mushrooms in the one restaurant we ate at.

This was one of my favorite ones

One of the hallways.

This imposing bowl was Emperor Nero's royal bathtub.  It is made of an extremely rare stone called Imperial Porphyry.

Notice the gift  shop (on the right) wedged into this ornate hallway.

Ongoing conservation.
Laocoon: we had to search for this one.

Judith and the Head of Holofernes by Cristofano Allori.

The Sistine Chapel.  You actually aren't supposed to take photos but Don forgot and snapped one photo before the guards said no.

After the museum, I wanted to visit St. Peter's Basilica until we saw the line to get through security.

Here is the line.  It starts to the right of the dome and winds allllll the way around the square.  Those people in the front of the photo are in line.
 Instead we wandered down to the Tiber River to see Castle Sant'Angelo from afar.

Castle Sant'Angelo, built as a tome for Roman Emperors, then used through the Middle Ages as a castle, prison, and place of refuge for popes under attack.

After that we took a bus across the river to Trastevere, a small neighborhood of cobblestoned streets lined with Medieval houses.   We got off the bus just in time for the rainstorm to start.

Here is a shot of the Tiber River at the start of our walk.  No, the photo isn't blurry--it was raining that hard.  I had to hold an umbrella over Don's head so that he could take the photo.

We ducked into the Church of Santa Maria in Trastavere to keep dry; it was really too late at that point but the church looked interesting.  The portico is decorated with ancient stone fragments filled with early Christian symbols.

This lovely church is one of Rome's oldest churches and was built on the site of a home where early Christians worshipped illegally until 313 A.D.  Once again we saw new structures built on old ones.
More mosaics, this time 8th-10th century.

Here is part of the carved ceiling.


Don got a photo of the church after the rain stopped.  People are also starting to come out to stroll around and go to dinner.
The Church of St. Cecilia with its mismatched columns recycled from pagan temples.

Wet and hungry, we wandered around looking for a restaurant that was ready to serve dinner--Romans eat late.  We ended up at Osteria Ponte Sisto da Oliviero, a small restaurant that speiclizes in traditional Roman cuisine.  We were so cold that I don't remember much of what we ate, but I had pasta Amatriciana, a typical Roman dish that was spaghetti with a sauce of tomotoes, shallots, guanciale (unsmoked bacon), and Pecorino cheese.  Dessert was an apple cake, another Italian speciality.  I was disappointed that we did not get to try the homemade limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) with our coffee, as the lucky regular diners at another table got.

After that, it was back to the hotel to pack since we were on a plane home Saturday afternoon. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Now for the post that many of you have been waiting for: bead shopping.  I wanted some Murano glass pendants so I looked online for bead shops before we left but found a lot of vague directions.  You know, "start out at this piazza and then wander down this street and I  think it is on the left-hand side a few blocks down but, if not, there are other fun shops."  I did find the address for two bead shops shops near the Pantheon.
The first was a shop called Novita near the Piazza Navona, a tiny space housing floor-to-ceiling shelves of boxes full of metal findings and filigree.  You had to ask the clerk to take down each box you wanted to look at and it didn't seem like the clerk spoke much English so we moved on.   Beads and Beyond did a review of this shop if you would like more information.
We wandered down the block and ran across La Perla D'Oriente, an Aladdin's cave of beads and glass items owned by Rankoussi Mazan and his wife Antonella.  Rankoussi is originally from Damascus, Syria but has lived in Rome for over 20 years.  He is a bead artist who has studied glass bead making in may countries and now has his own small factory in Rome.  He also sells beads from other small factories discovered through his travels.  I was fortunate to get a demonstration of his bead-making prowess. 
Here is the front of La Perla D'Oriente
Some of the beads in the shop window.  Notice the flower beads on the lower shelf; I fell in love with  them in Turkey but could never find any examples to buy for myself.

Rankoussi presenting me with the lampwork bead from his demonstration just for Don and me.

More beads in the shop window.

One of Rankoussi's modern interpretation of an ancient face bead laying on top of some flower beads.

Some of the beads that came home with me.  Those long drops at the top of the photo fascinated me.

If you want to do your own shopping, Rankoussi assures me that he does mail order so here is the website La Perla D'Oriente/Bead Shop Rome.  I never found any official Murano pendants but was very happy with the beads that I bought.

We needed a "pick me up" after bead shopping, so we headed to Tazza d"Oro Casa del Caffe, one of Rome's top coffee shop, for a granita di caffe con panna.  In English, that is a coffee slush (think shaved ice) layered with whipped cream.  We have no photos of the creation because we were too busy scarfing it down but--trust me-- it is not to be missed.  Jazzed up on coffee and sugar, we continued out stroll.

The Four Rivers Fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Piazza Navona

We braved the crowds to visit the inside of The Pantheon.

Some of the crowd walking past the 40-foot, single-piece, granite columns to gain entrance to the Pantheon.

Inside the Pantheon.  Built by the Romans as a temple to all gods, the building was  converted to a Christian church in the 7th century A.D.

The famous dome with the opening in the center that inspired later domes by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi.  It is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.  
It was time for dinner after The Pantheon, so we tried Ciccia Bomba, another traditional trattoria near the Piazza Navona where we could dine outside, although it was a bit crowded.

Dining outside.  I am sitting against the window.  You can't see them, but we had a strolling band and then an accordionist providing music while we dined.

We ordered two different pizzas; one was cheese and the other was mushroom, olives, and hard-boiled eggs.  They were good but much too large to finish so we saved the leftovers for lunch the next day.

After dinner, we continued our stroll past the Sinking Boat Fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps.  Built by Bernini and his father, the fountain is powered by a Roman aqueduct as are the other fountains in Rome.

We then popped into the largest and most lavish McDonald's facing the Spanish Steps but  got chased out when Don tried to take photos. 

We ended our stroll at the Spanish Steps, named for the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican that has been here for 300 years.  It has been a hangout for the likes of Keats, Wagner, and Goethe, and remains a popular place for people to gather.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I am breaking Thursday into two parts so that it won't be a loooong post. Since we didn't have time to travel to Pompeii or Herculaneum, we decided to visit Ostia Antica instead. Ostia Antica is now an archeological site but it was an ancient Roman port of 30-40,000 people at its height. It is easy to get to with a 45-minute trip by metro and train and a short walk through the town.

The first section we passed was the Necropolis (city of the dead) complete with a carving to identify it.
Here are some of the niches for ash-filled urns.

We think of modern cities as being jam-packed with buildings but these foundations show that Roman cities were just as crowded.

The town was important enough to have its own theater.

Near the theater was the Square of the Guilds, with more than 60 offices of ship owners and traders.  Along the sidewalk, mosaics from the second-century A.D. advertise the services offered by the various companies.

One of the mosaics

Another mosaic

These little lizards were all over the place but it was hard to get a good photo. As soon as they felt the shadow of the camera, they would scoot for cover.

There was a nice little museum housing some of Ostia's finest statuary.

Here's a close-up photo of the floor, which was made of various slabs of marble.

There was a nice cafeteria and museum shop behind the museum in a modern building so we stopped to have lunch and look at the shop.

This was one of the buildings we discovered after lunch.  There must have been 6 or 7 such
buildings with pieces from the excavation stored out of the weather.

Remember all of those lovely umbrella pines you saw in earlier photos?  Well, this is a pine cone from one of the trees.

As a testament to the hard work that it took to excavate this site, here is a wall that hadn't been treated yet.  Those are roots covering the bricks.

That was it for our tour of the ancient port city so it was back to Rome  for some bead shopping.