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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Window Tour 2016

It's been a while since my last post (life intervened), but I couldn't miss sharing our annual Christmas Window Tour.  We started at Barney's, which invited a few designers to each do a window; these were my favorites.

This is a suit designed by Nick Cave, the fiber artist and performer.


A fun sculpture by Job Smeets and Nynke Tyangel.

One of the stars that hangs above 5th Avenue.

Then it was down to Bergdorf Goodman, which went green for the holidays...literally.

One green window

Detail of the model's skirt

A tapestry squirrel

The next window showed an interesting perspective.

Some of the merchandise in the store that caught my eye.

That's one big bunny

Hope you aren't afraid of bugs.


Another interesting window


After Bergdorf's, it was a walk down 5th Avenue. 

Harry Winston

One of their windows

Unfortunately, the usual festive atmosphere on 5th Avenue was missing as many stores were boarded up for renovation or were just displaying merchandise and here's the reason why.

Police van in the security zone around Trump Tower

No, I am not dissing our NYPD, but the closing of Trump Tower meant that people couldn't get to stores in the security zone.  Tiffany's gave up completely and announced in November that they would not be decorating their windows.  Even Trump Tower looked like it was closed for business.

Luckily, the area around Rockefeller Center was hopping.  Saks did an impressive live display on the face of their building.

Part of the show

Then we slogged our way through the crowds to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center

After that, it was down to Lord and Taylor.

The theme was nature this year.

Another window with squirrels

Raccoons teasing sleeping foxes.

My favorite window was the one with the geese.

Our last stop was Macy's.

The big white bunny in the window was actually a projection that changed into other animals.

Close-up for all of the mushroom lovers

Another window

It took me a bit to figure out that this was a huge reindeer with elves on his antlers.

This window was a giant pinball machine that could be controlled by people watching the game.

That was our tour for this year.  Not as long as some years, but we enjoyed all of the decorations.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bead Crochet Snakes in Italy

I am working on posting the photos that I took of the Bead Dreams finalists at Bead and Button but, in the meantime, please enjoy an interview about my work and the history of bead crochet snakes that Cristina Gualtierotti conducted.  Cristina is a talented beader living in Italy and she has some interesting posts.  Here is the link  Cristal Clinic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bead and Button 2016

     My time at Bead and Button started with a bang as I tripped the uneven pavement by my hotel and did a face plant right onto the sidewalk on my first night in Milwaukee.  I didn't break anything, although I have 2 scrapes on my hands and a big hole in my knee.  Add to that, 1 slashed knuckle from bending copper sheet and a mystery scratch on my left thumb and I won't be doing much beading for a while.  Luckily, my mouse finger still works.
      Tuesday night, I took the Steampunk Trellis Pendant class with Irina Miech, which turned out to be not what I expected.  I thought that we would be using the wire looping technique to make the base of the pendant, but Irina had a neat cheat. 
Steampunk Trellis Pendant and Niobium Flower Ring

Moonlight Madness started right after class, so I wandered over to the shopping event to say hello to people.  I actually bought some crocodile leather-it was just so dinosaur-y that I couldn't pass it up.  I also bought a cute pair of flowers from Stephanie Sersich to make a pair of earrings.

Australian crocodile leather

Flower beads from Stephanie Sersich.  How cute are these?

 Wednesday, I had a day-long class with Maria Richmond as we made Riffing on a Zipper, which taught us how to wire wrap zippers onto wire.  Maria is a great teacher and we had a lot of fun.  I am not finished with my pendant because I hit a wall with it's design but I intend to finish it once I can use my hands again.  Wednesday night was Meet the Teachers, where I got to say hello to lots of friends.

Riffing on a Zipper

Thursday, I had a short class with Marti Brown where we learned to make a niobium flower ring.  As usual, playing with niobium was such fun!  Then the shopping floor opened at 4pm and I was busy for the next 4 hours.  The main mission was to buy beads to cover a stuffed frog toy.

Froggy is surveying some of the beads that might adorn him soon.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that they all won't fit on him.

Friday, I got to spend a few minutes with Kelly Stevenson of Back2Bead and his lovely wife Alicia.  Although they have many tempting beads, I was good and only bought these etched daggers.

Etched daggers from Back2Bead 

I also did my first wire crochet demonstration session at the ParaWire booth.  I needed earrings, so I have been obsessed with crocheting the smaller gauges of wire.

One pair of wire crochet earrings

Another pair of wire crochet earrings

I also stopped at Trinket Foundry booth to see Cathy's new recycled glass with silver metal clay.  Sadly, the earring pieces were quite popular, but I managed to find 2 shapes that went together.  Who says that earrings have to match?

Recycled glass with silver clay decoration

Saturday morning, I took the Painted Pendants class with Eva Sherman-what a treat!  I learned how to fold a sheet of copper  so that it looked like crumpled paper, cut it into shapes, add enamel and fire it with a torch, and mount our creations into frames.  I really liked this class and Eva is a great teacher.

A folded sheet of copper (top) and 3 finished pendants (bottom)

In the afternoon, I did a second wire crochet demonstration at the ParaWire booth.

Wire crochet earrings with pearls.

Wire crochet sewn to a textured frame.  I didn't start out to make dream catchers but that was what the earrings wanted to be.

I also discovered a new tool at the ParaWire booth.  I have been thinking about buying a few texturing hammers.  My metal friends swear by the Fretz hammers, but I don't do enough metal and wire work to justify spending that kind of money...but I do want to do some metal texturing.  This hammer with multiple texturing heads looked like a good way to get a number of heads for a decent price, especially since it feels balanced when you use it.  I played with it a bit in the booth and can't wait to explore what it can do.

My haul from ParaWire

My friend Akiko Nomura surprised me with a pair of Ninja socks and some cute stickers  from Japan. 


Then it was out to dinner with friends on Saturday night before I headed back to the hotel to pack. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bead Crochet Class April 16, 2016

Here is one more reason why you should learn single crochet with beads: my latest experiments in making roses.  You can't think about making roses until you understand how to do this:
So join me on April 16, 2016 for the Earn your Stripes: Introduction to Single Crochet With Beads class from 10am-4pm for the Bead Society of Greater New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Non-members are welcome.
For more information and registration, please visit Workshops.   Hope to see you in class.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bead Crochet Question: Slip Stitch vs. Single Crochet

     A prospective student for my Earn Your Stripes bead crochet class on April 16, 2016 asked me about the difference between the slip stitch crochet bead that she knew and the single crochet that I would be teaching.  Here is the answer for anyone else that isn't sure.

                                                     Slip Stitch Bead Crochet
      This is the method that most people in the U.S. learn to make bead crochet ropes.  With this technique, your hook goes under the thread that goes through the hole of the bead; this changes the position of the bead so that the hole goes from horizontal to vertical.  You can see how the beads sit in the photo below of my beginner slip stitch pendant project.

Slip stitch pendant

Because, the thread is mostly encased in the beads, you can use a thinner thread for this type of bead crochet.  Also, there is less thread showing between the stitches than with single crochet.  Designs crocheted with slip stitch will usually spiral.  Judith Bertoglio-Giffin has some wonderful patterns for bead crochet, if you haven't seen her work.  One pattern is shown below.

 Single Crochet With Beads
With single crochet, your crochet hook goes into the chain stitches behind the beads and the beads sit in front of the crochet, like a skin.  The single crochet with beads also involves 1 more step of adding a thread loop to each stitch.
If you compare a slip stitch tube with a stripe pattern to a single crochet tube with a stripe pattern, they look pretty similar, but the difference shows up when you move beyond a simple stripe pattern.

A single crochet tube in a striped pattern looks similar to a slip stitch tube, unless you know what to look for.
     One big difference between the two methods is that single crochet allows you to increase and decrease beads with more ease, which allows you to make 3-dimensional shapes like these below.

Bead crochet beads with bugle beads

Bead crochet pine cones

Another difference is that single crochet allows you to do more complicated patterns, as Brigitte Ilander has done in her book.

With single crochet, you can combine more complicated patterns with 3-dimensionality to get a snake necklace like the one I made for a private client.

Single crochet also allows you to make large pieces that lie flat, like this cuff bracelet, shown below.

So you may have to start with a simple spiral pattern to learn single crochet with beads but once you are familiar with the technique, you open a whole other world to play in.