Friday, May 23, 2008

More Beading Projects

Dateline: Emerald Hills, 5/23/08

In addition to working on the projects I started in Portland, I've been taking some classes at local bead stores and also doing quite a bit of beading on my own. Some beading projects provide instant gratification, since they can be completed in a day or two. While I work I listen to podcasts (Tim Goodman's TV Talk Machine and the New York Times Book Review are two of my favorites, which range from the ridiculous to the sublime) or sort of watch/mostly listen to tv shows on my laptop via the magic of Slingbox.

Here are pictures of some recent completed or in-progress beading projects. I don't mean to slight my knitting projects, but when I take pictures of them (which I'm behind on) I'll put them on Ravelry.

African Criss-Cross, with Sylvia Lagos
My first beading classes were with Sylvia at the Bead Asylum, a funky store across the Dumbarton Bridge in Newark, CA, and I continue to take her classes. Sylvia always has beautiful designs using basic stitches, and she's capable of teaching more than one project at a time, depending on what the students want to do. I gave this one to Dianne for her birthday.

Shimmering Pearls Collar, with Doris Ronan
This class was at 3 Beads and a Button, in Cupertino. I'm currently working on the overlay of crystals that go on top of the pearls.

Kumihimo seems to be popular now. A few weekends ago I went to two shows, a bead show in Oakland and a handweaving conference in Sacramento, and found vendors selling kumihimo supplies at both places. Here are two of my experiments with this technique.

Netting and Peyote Pods, with Teresa Sullivan
I took two classes with Teresa at Baubles and Beads in Berkeley. The peyote pods use increases and decreases to make a 3-dimensional effect. In the netting class we learned several variations, several of which I've since worked into completed bracelets.

The Beaded Bracelet IV, by Yvonne Rivero

I found this book at Yvonne's store, U Bead It in Sacramento. I bought all four books in the series; all of them have very nice projects. Here are the two I've completed so far. The flowered bracelet, on the left, came out too small for me, so I'll send it to my mother. The bracelet on the right is a variation of Sylvia's African criss-cross, but with bugle beads in the middle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cousin Jeffrey's 60th Birthday

Dateline: Emerald Hills, 5/14/08

He was born the same day as the state of Israel, May 14, 1948. I was born one year and two months later. We spent a lot of our early childhood together. His mother, Roz, and my mother, Jean, are sisters, and we all lived in Passaic, NJ. My mother and I had moved in with her parents after my father left us. Jeffrey lived with his parents and older brother across town.

After my mother married my stepfather and we moved to New York City, Jeffrey and I continued to see each other a lot. My mother, her five siblings and their families often gathered at my grandparents' house on Sunday afternoons. I also spent a lot of my school vacations in Passaic. Jeffrey and I would make what we called a "game bowl". Each of us would write the names of games and other activities on little pieces of paper, which we folded and put into one of my grandmother's antique glass bowls. We would then draw from the bowl to determine what we would do next.

As teenagers, when we were old enough to travel to Manhattan alone, we would occasionally meet there for a day. We would start exchanging letters months in advance, planning our itinerary in every detail. I took the subway, he took the bus, and we met at the Port Authority bus terminal, in a mezzanine area we called the "three-quarters waiting room". We would then carry out our plan, which included libraries, music stores, and lunch at the Automat, a New York institution which sold food via coin-operated windows. Our greatest humiliation was being thrown out of the 42nd Street library reading room one day because we were too young; we had been there before and didn't know there was an age restriction.

When my parents took my brother and me to Europe in the summer of 1965, Jeffrey went with us. At the end of the trip, we wrote our memories in rhyme in a poem called "We'll Remember Europe". This became the model for countless later poems written for birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions.

Our friendship continued when both of us were in college in New York. I tried, unsuccessfully, to set him up with some of my friends. He did set me up with one of his friends, my first real relationship, a man I almost married.

As adults, our lives and interests diverged somewhat. I moved to Michigan, Massachusetts, and then California; he stayed in New Jersey. He married twice and had several other relationships; I've been married to one man for 33 years. I changed jobs many times; he has had the same job, professor of music at a state university, for his entire career. He has two children; I have none. My taste in music runs to rock and folk; his is what he calls "serious" music and I call "classical". He reads more than I do, and is a better cook. He likes tennis and hiking; I have to force myself to do anything the least bit athletic. I'm good with computers; he's a reluctant computer user.

But we still have a lot of common interests: food; cats; movies; cities (we celebrated Jeffrey's 50th birthday in London; next month we will do the same for his 60th); some music; palindromes; coffee; The New York Times; our extended family. Our friendship and shared memories have been a constant in our adult lives, with one notorious exception. After his first wife left him, I wanted to remain friends with her; this made him angry and he didn't speak to me for a few years. Fortunately, we reconciled and resumed our friendship. Now we are in almost daily touch by email, with occasional Instant Message chats. We have helped to support each other through relationship breakups, illnesses, depression, children's problems, and deaths in the family. We get together at least once a year, with one of us crossing the country. We still plan our activities in great detail, but now by email and IM: which restaurants we'll eat at, what and when we'll cook at home, what trips we'll take.

Now we are talking about retiring in the same location so that once again we will be able to see each other as often as we did when we were children. Maybe in our old age, we will revert to game bowls.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Portland Project Pictures -- At Last!

Dateline: Emerald Hills, 5/9/08

I don't know why I find taking and uploading pictures to be such a chore. It really isn't that hard! (But no, I still have no intention of putting my yarn stash up on Ravelry!) Anyway, here, at last, are the long-promised pictures of the beading projects I started in my classes at the Bead Expo in Portland.

Spiny Knotted Bracelet, designed by Stephanie Sersich
This is the only project I was able to finish during class. In fact, it's still the only project from Portland I've finished so far. It uses waxed linen to hold the beads and perle cotton to knot around them in a macrame-like technique. Stephanie handmakes glass beads, and some of the beads in my bracelet were made by her. The bead I'm using as the clasp (on top) was made by her friend and collaborator Michele Goldstein. I'm very happy with the way this came out and I plan to make more. (In fact, I impulsively bought what is probably a lifetime supply of waxed linen on EBay.)

Calypso, designed by Beth Kraft
This necklace involves beading around aluminum rings and stitching them together. The completed project will be 14 beaded rings, with unbeaded rings in between. Beth likes bright colors, as I do.

Wound Around,
designed by Beth Kraft
For this Masai-inspired bracelet, beads are wound around a plastic tube and stuck to the tube with double-sided tape. I didn't find this technique as much fun as the other projects. I'm not very good at sticking the beads without ugly gaps. I hope I get back to this some day, though, because the completed bracelet can be very pretty.

Braided Ndebele Cuff, designed by Elizabeth Townes
This is the only "conventional" bead weaving project among the classes I took. The tubular ndebele (also called herringbone) stitch is used to make three strips, which are then braided together to make a bracelet. I'm enjoying working on this one. The copper is an unusual color choice for me, but I like it. (For all of these classes I bought kits made up by the teachers.)

Linga's Links, designed by Linda Best Shaen

This bracelet is made by making several separate pieces, then linking them with jump rings. There are three basic designs for the pieces, and I made one of each in class. I need to get back to this one and finish it. I don't look forward to the linking part, because working with jump rings and other wire techniques is not what I do best.