Use the Muse III Big Reveal!

I have to admit that despite a very busy day with all sorts of calls on my time I took 'time out' to drool over all the fabulous entries for the Use the Muse contest! I just love SO many of the entries and have to say that I already have a couple of favorites -- not necessarily the ones deemed 'winners.' I aspire to being more creative in the future and I'm not short of inspiration when perusing these wonderful creations. It never ceases to amaze me how different the entries can be when each bead artist begins with the exact same 'kit' of beads. This is the part of the contest I enjoy the most, and the skill level here is just daunting. Congratulations to EVERYone who entered -- I feel every entry is a winner in one way or another. I can now reveal my own humble entry and must state that the photos do not do it justice.

Use the Muse -- my favorite part of this contest is nearly here!

I have to date entered all three of the Use the Muse contests, and cannot help but think that my experiences with all three contests have been so very different. I distinctly remember sending off for, and finally receiving the very first kit. I was quite excited as I knew it was going to be a challenge to even consider creating something from components I had not chosen myself. I feel now that I was a much 'younger' beader at that point, and know for sure, that given the same kit, I would do something very different today. The standard of the entries was awesome and the winning entry was inspiring and unique.

I was more prepared when it came to Use the Muse II and truly feel my entry was a worthy representation of my skills and abilities. I truly love the piece I created and am very proud of it. I grew SO much while working on this necklace. Once again the winning piece was just beautiful, and most worthy of the award. In fact I just totally enjoyed seeing all the entries!

And now here we are with just a few days to go to the publication of the Use the Muse III entries, and the announcement of the winner! The BIG REVEAL is truly my most favorite part of this contest! I just LOVe to see what others have managed to do with the same kit I myself received. I'm looking forward to seeing all the entries on December 17th.

This last Muse competition was a difficult one for me, as for whatever reason the beading was just not smooth going for me! I was happy with the concept, but actually working the piece was tough going. I was actually tempted to leave my entry unfinished and not enter it. I was under the weather as the deadline approached, but I pushed myself to finish the necklace and see it through, and felt happy to have accomplished even that much!

I'm sure the many entries will be just magnificent, as the Muse piece was very different and I'm sure inspired many beautiful designs. Roll on December 17th!

Celebration Retreat -- a huge success!

Just before Thanksgiving I flew to Orlando, Florida for the Celebration Retreat -- four wonderful days of what turned out to be intense beading! The retreat was organized by Melanie Potter, who also taught the first day's class. Carol Wilcox-Wells was our instructor for the other three days. I was particularly thrilled to meet Carol as she is the author of the very first book on beading I ever read -- The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving: New Jewelry Designs with Classic Stitches. I borrowed this book from the local library and liked it so much I then purchased my own hard-cover copy. I will refer to it from time to time to this day and still find something new to learn every time I turn the pages. Carol autographed the book, and so now it has so much more meaning for me.

The first day's class with Melanie was intense and others there with me agreed they felt the same way. The primary stitch learned was Chevron Chain, and I can assure you that upon completion of this project, Chevron Chain is second nature to me! I love Melanie's style! There were so many new elements to learn -- and I know that in the future I'll make use of all of these techniques that were very new to me that day. Melanie herself was an excellent and enjoyable instructor, and it was a joy to take her class.

Carol's classes were wonderful and I learned something new and different every single day. In fact the project I felt I'd least like, turned out to be the one I loved most of all. Once again the projects covered Chevron Chain and innovative uses of many other stitches. I actually chose not to use the prepared kits for Carol's classes, but chose my own beads and colorways and am very pleased with the results of all projects to date. I do have to say though that the color choices for the various kits are just awesome, and the quality of the beads included in the kits is top class. I also loved the clarity of the written instructions, but am glad to have attended the classes as Carol explained and shared some alternate techniques and methods that were not included in the instructions. I actually preferred the alternative method Carol described for capturing a Rivoli in one of the projects, and was thrilled when it worked to perfection for me.

In the month or so since the retreat I've beaded whenever possible and have totally completed two of the four projects and surprised myself by completing my own variation of one of the projects. They are all time-intensive, but so well worth the time and effort. Carol herself says it takes her forty hours to complete the Ruffled Lace project!

I feel I have grown exponentially once again since the retreat. Not only have my beading skills been bumped up a notch, but I find I'm thinking slightly differently when it comes to the possibility of designing! I now fully understand the concept of working with repeating components to form a completed project, and have totally enjoyed working with several diverse components to make up the whole. I've definitely added some new stitches to my repertoire, and have worked with unfoiled crystal components as well as pretty chatons for the very first time. I know that bezelled chatons will appear in future works as I find these just fascinating. I cannot wait to finish all these projects completely so that I can get to creating again using the newly acquired techniques.

I thoroughly enjoyed this treat, along with the time spent at Disney World with my hubby and youngest son, and all in all felt very blessed indeed to have been able to attend this awesome event.