My Use the Muse II Revealed-- Selkie Symphony!

The Use the Muse II winners were announced when I was in Ireland for the funeral of my DH's elderly Aunt -- and much to my own dismay, on the day of Auntie's funeral there were TWO other family funerals on my own side of the family. While it is never easy for those who remain to lose a loved one, there was nevertheless much camaraderie and sharing of memories and a huge gathering of aunts, uncles and cousins. I felt it was propitious that we were in Dublin and able to meet up with so many family members, and share in the gatherings.

Just before our week in Dublin came to an end the Muse winners were announced, and I have to say I gave up a good hour's sleep just taking a quick look through the galleries at all the wonderful entries.

I have to say there was some disappointment for me that my beautiful piece was not worthy of a mention -- I think if you feel you have produced a wonderful piece, then you certainly harbor some HOPE that maybe -- just maybe -- you MIGHt be mentioned somewhere for SOME aspect of the work involved! Alas, it was not meant to be. That being said I must say I LOVED the winning entry and commend Diane Allen for the beautiful necklace she created. It is simply stunning and a more than worthy winner. Congrats to Diane!

My own piece perhaps lacked a certain amount of originality where 'conceptual design' is concerned, when compared to all of the submissions, but nevertheless I love it and feel I have improved tremendously as a designer AND as a craftsman as a result of taking on the challenge. I believe the muse piece and the beads just speak to me and I could only visualize this laser-cut shell pendant used as I used it! I can now see that many others used it in a similar manner. I believe that original use of the Muse piece was most important for this Muse competition.

I'm a glutton for punishment and so have already sent off for the Use the Muse III kit! (big smile) -- Onward and upward!!

I posted a close-up of the clasp in July -- and so am delighted now to be able to share my entry with everyone.

NO photograph can really do this piece justice. It is rich and luxurious and simply elegant, due mainly to the components. I must commend Scarlett for her choice of Muse piece -- this is truly a beautiful etched donut pendant.

While in San Francisco in June, I purchased ONE bead when I managed to briefly fit in a quick visit to General Beads. That was the beautiful Nobilus Shell bead, which was truly the inspiration I needed for this Muse necklace -- although I did not know that when I purchased it. It 'spoke' to me and I loved it and knew I could create something special around that one bead. My brother and his family, and my sister and her better half, all traveled to San Francisco (among other places) for their vacation and we joined them there. During that few days, my sis presented me with a bag of beautiful shells she had bought in the UK as she felt I'd make use of them in my beading pursuits! It was not until I returned to Texas that I placed the pearly shells from my sis WITH the Nobilus glass shell AND the Muse pendant and it was as though 'all of a sudden' my muse piece was there in front of me!

I like the idea of an asymmetrical necklace and so for this piece I used a spiral rope with increasingly larger beads toward the center of the pendant for one side, and a combination of some simple stringing and beaded chain on the other side. I'm proud of the workmanship here as I was meticulous about ending the threads and making sure I had nothing 'peeking out'!

I ended up beading around the outside of the shell pendant although this was not my initial intention. I felt when it was all together that this added some cohesiveness to the piece.

I truly had the most fun and the greatest challenge ensuring that the bottom fringing looked good, and hung exactly as I wanted it to! I can just shake this piece and the shells ALL fall exactly into place. I truly consider this a highly wearable piece and NOT one that needs any fussing with! I enjoyed creating the fringing and liked the fact that the deepest, darkest blue beads sat to the back and center of the fringing adding that much-needed 'depth' to the piece. This is actually the very first time I have used branch fringing!

The choice of seed beads along with the lovely Swarovski pearls and crystals as well as some beautiful natural top-drilled blue pearls really make this piece rich and luxurious. Regardless of the outcome of the 'competition' I truly love this necklace and will treasure it for a long time to come!

First Bead Retreat, First Class, GREAT Fun!

Well I cannot believe it has taken me so long to update my blog, but despite all that is going on I am determined to at least write a little about the wonderful Shreveport Bead Retreat I was lucky enough to attend last weekend! This was my first bead retreat ever, and certainly will NOT be my last. I had the honor and privilege of taking my first class ever from Gayle Goddard who was a total delight. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I took every class I could fit in over the four days we were there, and on Saturday night beaded into the early hours of the morning in order to finish my challenge piece.

I must have been mad to take it on, as the challenge I chose was basically all that was on the table when I finally figured out what it was all about! I ended up with a three to four inch piece of thick copper wire like you'd find in a coat hanger; a large plastic donut pendant that has a copper tone, but brushed with gold; a one-inch gold-colored bead; various - about 8 - different smaller beads (some VERY pretty) and a plastic silver-colored half-inch daisy-spacer for want of a better description. NOT the nicest group of items and very, very challenging.

Believe it or not, my piece was the second-place winner and I can only say I was totally chuffed to hear my name called to receive the lovely tote that was the prize. I also received a Melanie Doerman CD with her Venus Flytrap bracelet tutorial which I will enjoy at some point in the future! This was truly a surprise and I have to say I got a great kick out of it all. I was honestly just MORE than happy to simply see the project through -- there was simply SO much talent on display at the retreat.

I found Jill Wiseman's Kumihimo class to be the most fun class of all, and perhaps the most satisfying. I have to hand it to Jill as she is truly a great teacher and her kits (yes I made some purchases!!) and instructions are just wonderful. The Kumihimo Class was a full capacity class, but most students finished their first ever Kumihimo bracelet! VERY satisfying and I am looking forward to delving into this even more over the next few weeks.

I was not able to fit in Janie Warnick's bracelet class "It's All in the Loop" but I was thrilled to receive her kit, and to be put through my paces by Janie after her class, and I HAVe to say it is a first-class quality kit for a very reasonable price and just the most versatile of bracelet patterns. I just LOVE it and send many thanks to Janie for the pleasure of working with her kit! Thanks Janie!

I also enjoyed Ann Page's class "Not Just Another Rope" and feel this versatile Russian stitch will turn in very handy in the future.

There was a wonderful bracelet exchange at the retreat and that too was just good fun! I participated and made a bracelet using a Ukrainian stitch.

I met SO many talented ladies it was just like being a kid in a candy store, seeing everyone's projects!

However one of the more unexpected events at the retreat for ME was when my table-mates decided I should teach them how to make the bracelet I had constructed while playing with the combination of ndebele (herringbone) and peyote stitches that I've enjoyed from Diane Fitzgerald's Book on Shaped Beadwork! I love green and this combination of green beads 'worked' for me.

This bracelet is simply a series of 'squares' that are then joined in any variety of ways (I've made three others) embellished, and then finished whatever way an individual might like! This particular bracelet has a Swarovski closure that became the focal point.

Everyone at the table wanted to learn and so in no time
flat there were many beautiful versions of the squares and I just cannot wait to see all the finished bracelets!

Thanks to Carolyn, Michaele, Gina and Mabel.

I could write for hours about the fun, the sharing and the talented beaders I met at this retreat. I feel I made some terrific new friends and I am truly grateful for this. I SO hope to meet these wonderful ladies again in the not too distant future and I hope our relationships can continue to grow.

I cannot close without of course saying a big Thank You to Ida Williams who arranges this every year. The teachers ALL volunteer their time, so all in all the retreat is reasonably priced and just a very friendly and warm gathering of like-minded crazy beaders. Thanks Ida! None of these things happen without a lot of hard work in the background and I know I'm only one of many who are grateful for this wonderful experience.

Click the title of this entry to learn more about the Shreveport Retreat!