Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bead Crochet, Tulip Co and my return to Japan...yippee

In past posts I've teased you with tales about these beautiful and comfy hooks and left you bereft of a way to get your hands on them. NOT ANYMORE!!!!!
—Caron International, a leading manufacturer of hand-knitting yarns, is now the master distributor of Tulip® knitting needles and ETIMO crochet hooks.
Caron's website says....

“The excellence and quality construction of these needles and hooks is so superior to anything else in the mass market today,” declares Jan Kahn, VP of Marketing and Sales for Caron. “The ETIMO crochet hooks, Sucre beading hooks and Kanaderu knitting needles can be used for hours without the hand discomfort that is often experienced when using traditional implements. We are thrilled to offer the Tulip products along with our top-selling Simply Soft® and branded yarns.”

What makes these needles and hooks so spectacular?
The answer is simple.
Extraordinary quality construction and product innovation.

Revolutionary ETIMO crochet hooks
Doris Chan, popular crochet designer, says it best: “The biggest advantage of the ETIMO hook is the elastomeric comfort grip. Revolutionary. Supremely comfortable, functional, durable. It has a soft, smooth, cushy feel and fits perfectly in my hand. I never want to be without mine.”
ETIMO crochet hooks feature a comfortable, cushioned grip not found anywhere in the market today. Plus ETIMO hooks are made from durable superior quality aluminum with a polished finish that does not flake or chip. Even better, the handle’s length and depth of the hook itself make stitching easier, too. The result is a crocheter’s dream that allows her to stitch longer, with more accuracy and in greater comfort.
ETIMO crochet hooks are available in 10 sizes with a suggested US retail price of: $9.99.

Sucre Beading Hooks
Knitters and crocheters love to embellish their work, but often lack the proper tool to get the job done. Not any more. With Sucre Beading Hooks, beading embellishments are a breeze. Sized just right to handle most types of yarn- and thread-friendly beads Sucre beading hooks feature the same comfort grip as the fabulous ETIMO crochet hook.
Sucre crochet hooks are available in 5 sizes with a suggested US retail price of: $9.99.

********end of Caron website and back to this blog...............

These sweet silky hooks are the line called Sucre, designed by Kazue especially for bead crochet. These are the hooks I'll be demonstrating in Tulip's booth at the International Great Quilt Show in Tokyo next month.

Tulip Co sponsored the felting book I wrote for Japanese publication. (Written in English and translated into Japanese by Motoko Natsubori.) Tulip produces exquisitely refined and smooth, nickel plated felting needles. They also provide the craft market with clever kitted projects for both needle/dry felting and wet felting.

This will be my second international Great Quilt Show. In January '09 I demonstrated feltmaking and signed books in the Tulip booth there.
In June that same year I joined Tulip in their first exhibit in the U.S. At TNNA in Columbus Ohio.

In our booth there were, left to right: Mayumi, Naomi, Mr. Harada (CEO), Kang and Kazue. You've met Kang and Kazue in previous posts. They will be exhibiting in Long Beach CA at TNNA and then Vogue Knitting Live in NYC while I'll be in Tokyo with Mayumi and Naomi.

Mayumi is rounding up the beads and I'm writing recipes for the projects I'll demonstrate, so visitors to the booth can make their own. One is a beaded bead made of a tubular peyote with graduated bead sizes, what I call undulating tubular peyote, and is also known as Cellini spiral, a name Virginia Blakelock gave it. The beaded bead can be worn on any chain including the beaded chain necklace and the bead crocheted necklace I'll demonstrate. In streamlining the recipe in preparation for translation, I discovered a faster, easier way to bead it. This is sooooo exciting. Not only for this project, also for the Felt Bangle with Beaded Bead that I'll teach again at the Bead and Button Show in June.
I've JUST kitted the beaded bead shown above with these easier new directions. $30 plus $5 s&h. -Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho ho ho

"Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads." You've got to be kidding. What the heck IS a sugar plum? T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring...unless you count me. Not only was I stirring, I was beading. And, when finnnnnnally, I succumbed to sleep, visions of beadwork danced in my head. I'll share some visions with you right now.

Janet designed this Victorian style piece as a gift for a delicate and elderly friend. It features those beaded components that Terri had everyone making at the last Bead Blast.

Amy finished the African helix necklace for her mom. It can be worn with or without the slide pendant, yet another of Nikia Angel's Sparkly Wheels. Readers of MASTERING BEADWORK may recall reading (page135) about Amy's adventures with Sparkly Wheels and her reincarnated version.

Elaine finished this Swarovski number fir her sister. I don't know Elaine's sister but, I can tell you this: if this isn't the quintessential Elaine bracelet, I don't know what is. Between us, I think she should keep it and make another gift for her sister.

Jilly Beads banged out this pearl bracelet, a new kit I've just put together. Call or e me if you need one. It is double needle right angle weave, done simply, with a midsection of double drilled stick pearls, finished with a magnetic tube vermeil clasp. Just a head's up: it MUST be done double-needle style or it will make you want to give up beading. Pearls have those pesky small holes that can really only accommodate 3 thread passes. And the kit provides a repetitious little mantra to propel you through the beadwork. Joy.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Here is what Hudson Valley Time's Paul Smart had to say about John Bridges' show, which opened at Unison Gallery in New Paltz last weekend. [Simply offering you the link didn't suffice. Here IS the article.]
The article reads:
Gorgeously Gordian
John Bridges’ “Ropes Reconfigured” show opens at Unison Gallery in New Paltz

by Paul Smart December 16, 2010 11:30 AM

Knots are fascinating, both as a metaphor and as real objects...

John Bridges paints knots. Not only does he similarly recognize their innate importance to all souls, but they also haunt his dreams, and have played a key part in his life.

Concerning his new exhibition of “Ropes Reconfigured” – opening this Saturday, December 18 at the Unison Gallery at the Water Street Market in New Paltz – Bridges points out how knot-tying saved his life on two occasions: once while mountaineering in the German Alps and later aboard a research vessel off the coast of Diego García. But he will not dwell on the traumas. Instead, Bridges – who also works at Rhinebeck Artists’ Shop in New Paltz – speaks of his ongoing attempts to “untie his knotted psyche” and to reloop the zeit seil or “timerope” of his past into a “Double Redemption Bend” – a knot that the artist claims is nearly impossible to tie correctly.

“I mythologize the Mundane and create works that reveal the ambiguity in the Ordinary,” he writes in an artist’s statement. “My work conveys both a deep suspicion of, and reverence for, the cast-off, ephemeral and overlooked. I revive items from garbage cans, garage sales and thrift stores, then recombine these rejected objects with strong colors on off-sized panels and canvases. I marry the Forgotten to the Abandoned. I participate in a process that I describe as ‘Informed Savantism.’”

The man’s résumé – which starts off in Texas, born in 1962 – includes sojourns in Pennsylvania, California, Belgium, Iowa, Colorado and Washington, DC; three years in the Army as a cavalry scout; and work as a store clerk, video editor, teacher, cook, bartender, paralegal, housepainter, social worker and assembler at a mannequin factory. He cites, along with a BA in Literature and failed attempt at a Law degree, a continuing fascination with Joseph Beuys, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Walt Whitman, Pee-Wee Herman, Tom Waits, Giotto and Fra Lippo Lippi.

This current show opens with a reception on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Gallery at the Water Street Market – located on lower Main, just before the bridge over the Wallkill in the Village of New Paltz – and runs through January 11. For more information contact the Unison Arts & Learning Center, itself located at 68 Mountain Rest Road west of town, by calling (845) 255-1559 or visiting

To a beader, knots are executed with finesse and precision, often as the finishing touches to a completed piece of beadwork. Knots can also bring us to our knees when they mysteriously appear in out thread and bring our blissful, creative, meditative beading to a screaching halt. Knots account for a huge part of the reason I've become such a proponent of PowerPro beading thread. From years of experience, I can testify that, when using PowerPro, I can securely finish the work, knotting it [purposely] as though my life depended on it, and yet, have been able to "tease" open those knots if necessary. This extends to those mysterious ones as well.

As a beader, I was intrigued by the scale of Bridges' knots. Their size and perspective permitting us to examine and appreciate the bends, curves and intersections that define them.

The artist, John Bridges and his wife, Amy Raff. Yes, you recognize Amy from posts here about her beadwork.
Get into New Paltz NY to catch this show. And while you are in the Water Street Marketplace, check out the stores. I suggest a cruise through Maglyn's gift shop and a gourmet purchase at the cheese shop.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bead & Button Show catalog will be on-line December 14th

Tuesday the Bead & Button Show will provide their catalog of classes on-line. As a preview, allow me show share with you the classes I'll be teaching there come June.

Sunday evening, June 5th is a 3 hour class, Hand Felted Bangle with Beaded Bead. Everone will make make a felt bangle whose tapered ends are joined within a beaded bead of undulating peyote. Some folks willcomplete theirs after class but, some will wear their finished bracelet from class.

Monday evening is Fireflies at Midnight. This supple necklace is made using tubular peyote with the strategic addition of an extra bead which articulates the otherwise stiff beadwork. Last year and the year before this was Fireflies at Sunset in Amy's bright pinks and magentas.

Tuesday evening's class is another opportunity to felt a bangle, a Sparkling Felt Bangle. This one is finished with the sparkle of Swarovski crystals woven in a quick and easy double- needle right-angle weave.

The popular lariat featuring a lampworked borosilicate glass bead by Nancy Tobey is what I'll teach all day Wednesday in Glass Bead Inspired Lariat. This was hugely popular last year, selling out the first day of registration and adding a second session. Learn exciting variations of polygon stitch plus how to transition to other stitches. I'm delighted to have acquired a couple kilos of the precious stripey beads I used in the original.

Wednesday evening in three short hours I'll share 3 different chains in Trilogy of Chains, that rival those in the jewelry store but, these are seed beads (though one includes crystals). They are lovely worn together or in singles with or without a pendant.

Thursday's daylong class is strictly Swarovski crystal, Crystal Galaxy. I'll teach a satisfying method of cubic right angle weave to produce solid geometric elements...circles, squares, triangles and pentagons. Connect the lot of them and hide an easy-on easy-off magnetic closure within a sheath of crystals. The bonus is that this class is sponsored by Swarovski, making it a real value.
There are no evening classes this evening so everyone can enjoy the opening of the vendors and shop without feeling conflicted.

Friday's class was a longggggg time coming. I've proposed the Complex Cane Hand Felted Beads as a workshop in years past. This year I'm able to offer it as a 6 hour class, providing each student a Turbo Felting Board to work the wool into a dense and firm felt. Most students will complete a necklace during class, using their fresh beads.

Friday evening there is a merciful project that is lovely and made mostly of size 8 seed beads. Raku And Rivoli Bracelet adds a gorgeous bezeled rivoli to a polygon rope.
Sunday there is another opportunity to take the Trilogy of Chains before the shpw closes for another year.
Honestly, just telling you the schedule helps me imagine the wonderful whirlwind time in store. Hoping I squeeze in some great schmoozing in-between classes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another week of beauty...

In the studio class, Irma, about to embark on beading another of her husband's vessels, brought this finished one to show us, replete with its amazing finial. Hope I am correct to call that patinated-copper-looking-though-it-is-wooden flame, this crowning glory, a finial.
When Amy arrived to see us admiring the piece, she remarked about the double round of beading at the top edge, as a beautiful detail. The rest of us chuckled because, moments before Amy arrived, Irma shared that Steve too, had commented on this detail, though less favorably. There you have it!!

This convertible necklace/bracelets piece is a composition of beads (lampworked glass, pearls and seed beads) and beaded beads including the Intriguing Pillow Beaded Bead and Trillium Beaded Bead. You may recall seeing the recipe for the pillow bead in my first Master Class article in Beadwork magazine. It also appears prominently in one necklace featured in the chapter about my work in the Japanese book:

Coronet Co. in Tokyo asked to kit that necklace as a project for their members (certified beading teachers and their students). The first time I taught in Japan it was stunning to be greeted in class by so many beaders wearing my necklace. Flattering, thrilling and surprising.

That other focal beaded bead in the convertible necklace above I call Trillium beaded bead. This recent design is one of the projects i taught in October at Bead Gallery and also share with those in the Beadzo class, whenever they ask. Last month at Beadzo, Ginny made a couple in blue and yellow. This Thursday she composed a bracelet for her granddaughter adding other significant beads to those she made, making it at least as meaningful as any charm bracelet or the current Pandora/Troll bracelets. BTW, recently I heard that the Pandora/Troll bead stand-off is fueled by feuding brothers. Do I have it correct that this same phenom accounts for rival sneaker and cereal magnates?

The scarf pictured here, and worn by a shy artist asking that her face not appear, was made Friday in my premier workshop at Arts Society of Kingston. We had felters from near (Kingston), less near (dutchess county) and far (massachusettes) in this nuno felting workshop.

Fine merino wool and bits of fabric, yarn and thread were used to create surface design on a 60" silk scarf. By decorating only the middle third, the silk fabric at the edges will become ruffled as the wooly areas felt (knot, tangle and "shrink").

To maximize the ruffling, one would place the fiber in a particular fashion AND full the scarf only lengthwise. Lise, pictured, wanted to maintain as much length as possible. So, sacrificing additional ruffling, she finished fulling the scarf widthwise, so it would be sufficiently fulled yet optimally long.

As an introduction to the workshop, I showed and we discussed several nuno felted pieces and garments. Pat preferred to make one of those we discussed, rather than the scarf project I'd proposed. So, if you pair her request with my deep and abidding desire to facilitate "living the dream" and, on the smaller scale, manifesting our hearts' desires and you see her placing two scarves side-by-side lengthwise and using the wool as both surface design AND to connect the two scarves where necessary...

...and, tada!!!!!! To be worn front to back as seen here.

Or, worn laterally across the shoulders like this. Notice that the scarf's formally 60" length is reduced by about a third. Pat, owner of Colorful Creations Bead Company is self-publishing a book on needle felting that will be available by June. Check her website or store. Catch a class with her at Tucson this February.

Yesterday I offered a repeat session of the same workshop.

Dorothee chose a habotai scarf rather than the chiffon. Felting into fabric with denser or closer weave requires a bit more labor than those with more open weave.

Kathryn is seen here rolling the wetted silk and wool to begin the felting process, slow enough to allow the wool to migrate through the silk.

When we see evidence of the fibers passing through to the backside, it is time to full the felt, a process accelerated by using the sharply corrugated Turbo Felting Board.

Here is her finished felt. Beautiful.

Dorothee opted to cut hers up the center alllllmost all the way,as I had shown in many samples. She'll full it for a few more moments to "heal" the cut edges.
I'll be offering more workshops in this local convenient, spacious and beautiful venue again. I'll keep you posted here and on my calendar as the schedule developes. I am still waiting to hear about the dates I'll be in Japan in January so, will forgo making plans for January.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Felted neckwear

Today I packed up the silk, merino wool and tools for this coming Friday's nuno feltmaking workshop. Fran was here in the studio helping me select samples and show & tell.

Though it may most commonly be enjoyed in a lark's head knot, around the neck, it is not the only option.

Worn "liturgically" as I've heard it described, simply draped over the shoulders is flattering, not just on the newly ordained "Father Fran".

And here is Fran modeling it worn laterally over the shoulders.
I'm excited about offering workshops in this new venue, Arts Society of Kingston. The group dynamics in any workshop is always a contributing factor to the energy and flow. From what I know of the registrants for this workshop, we can expect a delightful mix of professional artist, fashionista, craft enthusiast and educator. I'd hoped to get another workshop on ASKs calendar for January but, the monthly First Saturday, New Year's Day, is rescheduled for the second Saturday, the 8th. I still won't know until next week, what dates i'll be in Japan in January so, I'll look to schedule something for February. I'll let you know here. Posted BlogPress from my iPod

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nuno felt workshop

Above is the poster for my nuno feltmaking workshop coming up this week. The Friday evening session has some pretty cool people signing up. Not sure who is registered for the Saturday afternoon session.
Give ASK a call to reserve your space. Just bring a towel and your spirit of adventure. The silk fabric, merino wool and other goodies plus use of all the equipment is included in the $85 fee. Leave with gorgeous neckwear or hanging.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday gift boutique gala opening

It has been a couple years since I last participated in my library's holiday boutique gala. It coincided with the First Saturday gallery festivities in Kingston. So folks who came to the gala this evening were out for an evening. Many were headed to Art Society of Kingston (A.S.K.), and then on to the "shirt factory" on Cornell Street, now artists' lofts and studios, and from there????

It was an evening of exquisite schmoozing and, possibly "networking". Holly Rizzo introduced herself. She said she knew my name from our shared experience of offering workshops at Mohonk, among other things. She continues to offer regularly scheduled pastel workshops there.

Her work on display at the gala, and for the duration of the holiday boutique, captures the serene beauty of the John Burroughs sanctuary near our homes. We had a delightful visit, kindred spirits in many ways. Perhaps we'll meet up and hike around John Burrough's together.

The needlework group that meets at the library had an array of handknits for sale at, to call them bargain prices, would be an understatement. Perhaps their wool was donated AND they just knit with abandon for the sheer joy of it and are eager to pass their finished goods along for, as grandma called it, pin money. I purchased a couple pair of fingerless gloves/wristers and a wonderful gorgeous wrap of hand dyed yarn to wear with my melton cape.
Do you notice the couple of entrelac hats on the table? Suzanne and Michelle, the knitters, had taken a workshop on this with spinner, knitter, natural dyer Kathryn Alexander. Kathryn's designs are also offerred as kits. Years ago my spinning group had an entire weekend with Kathryn. She is known for her natural dyes on yarns which she hand spins. But the exciting thing about her work, well one of them, is that she uses the yarn fresh off the bobbin, as singles (rather than plyed), to capitalize on its energy, knitting or weaving fabric has an intended clingy, collapsable (in a good way), elastic quality she attributes to working with "over-energized singles". Sounds sexy does't it? Well, even though I am not a weaver (not counting beads of course) and have abandoned knitting, spending some time with such a dynamic and vibrant fiber artist was time well spent.

Photographer Anita DeFina Hadley had irresistable work on exhibit. The "full moon" piece to the left of those in the photo very nearly came home with me. I enjoyed visiting with her.
Anita has a photography group that meets at the library on Wednesdays. I asked if she might know of a local photographer I might engage. My history of handling the necessity for decent photographs of my beadwork and felt includes: a VERY expensive and high maintenance fellow in Maine who ties up the work for weeks; a local, who, despite his fine reputation and proximity, manages to capture the least flattering reflections and is, also pricey; taking workshops in "photographing your artwork", spending 1K on my own dslr camera, struggling to learn how to use it plus adding new lenses, lights, filters, reflective surfaces, and other photography studio equipment. I know some of us take this on in style. Gail shoots interesting macro shots of her work. Rachel took an evening course for weeks and is pleased with her new skill. But, I ask you, isn't it enough to be good at what we do without having to "do it in French and underwater" ( as I refer to it when asked to also be proficient at say, photography, photoshop, graphic illustration, illustrator CS5 etc.)? Oooo, forgive the rant and rave. This afternoon I enjoyed a luxurious long visit with Nancy Cain on the phone. I shared with her my experiences of teaching in Japan for Coronet and she told me about her teaching in Kobe at the bead art show and her delight in being asked to teach at Coronet next month. She also told me she recently found a local photographer who is not only convenient but, amazing and affordable. When she'd seen a photo he took of a tool, it was sooooo gorgeous that she thought, damn, if he can make THAT look good, imagine what he can do with my beadwork? Yeah, that's what I'd like. Years ago another beadworker I know said of her photographer "His photographs (of her work) are so fine that I'd rather sell the photos of my work, than the work itself." Wow. That stuck with me. Hope someone in the photo group is that person.

Sue DeSanna came by tonight also. We had a great visit. When I taught those couple semesters in the fashion program at Marist College, Sue was a professor in the department and, as I remember it, a co-department head, until Radley Cramer came on as department head. She teaches fashion courses in continuing education at SUNY Ulster, patternmaking and draping among other things, as well as workshops. She calls herself a "fashion tech" and that only touches on it. She is just what every fashion hobbyist, aspiring designer, textile or fiber artist wanting to create clothing, needs. She might be the garment whisperer for those of us needing her expertise to bring our fabrics into garment fruition. Every time we run into each other it occurs to me that it would be fun to ask her to join me in offering a felt garment workshop. We'd make beautiful felt, not unlike this coming Friday at A.S.K., where I will teach nuno or other feltmaking with a garment in mind. And in the second part of the workshop, Sue teaches us how to produce refined runway wearables using our fresh fabrics. I'll let you know here in the blog if I do anything with this idea.
Turns out that a couple of the folks I visited with this evening might join me next Friday for my nuno felting workshop in Kingston. I'm looking forward to it.
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