Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 1, Class 1 - Susan Lenart Kazmer

Today is day one of a three day session taught by Susan Lenart Kazmer here at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. You may recall I talked about Susan in my blog on April 7th when I first got her book, "Making Connections".

This class is called "Creating Jewellery - Relics, Ruins and Personal Objects". According to the description in the course catalogue, we will be making bracelets, charms, dimensional pendants, rings and earrings and we will be "challenging commonly held notions of what is considered jewellery". Sounds cool, doesn't it??
We'll be learning how to alter found objects and I've been collecting bits of metal that I've found over the past few weeks. My sister asked me last week, "why do you keep picking up those things?" and I said, "because I'm taking a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer!" I've got flattened bottle caps and rusty washers and springs and bits of metal, all jingling around in a Ziploc bag. Hopefully the Customs agent won't remove these goodies from my suitcase as I cross the border.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Greetings from Milwaukee

By the time you read this, thanks to the miracle of the Internet and the ability to schedule in advance when posts will appear on my blog, I will already be in Milwaukee, preparing to attend the Bead & Button show.

My beading friend Colleen and I will have flown there from Toronto and will there be reunited with our buddy Heather, whom we met in January in Puerto Vallarta. Our other PV pal, Stefanie, will also be joining us but she doesn't arrive until next week, on Wednesday.

The three of us will do a little exploring of the city today, see what we can see. We're also going to do a little grocery shopping as we have fridges in our rooms and hope to save a little money by eating some meals there, especially breakfast, thus saving our hard earned dollars to spend on BEADS!!!

All I know about Milwaukee is that it is a brewery town and it's the home of the Fonz. Presumably there is more to it than that, and we've got a week to find out!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Only One More Sleep!

A short blog posting tonight as I've got to get my stuff in the suitcases. It's only 7:30 p.m. but already I could use a nap. I woke up at 5 a.m. and was too excited to go back to sleep. Got everything done at work that I needed to do before I left, so that is a relief. I'm working my way through my lists, although I was filling nine little Ziploc snack bags with cereal servings, it did occur to me that either I'm a little too uber-organized or I'm too *n*l- retentive for my own good (yes Janine, I know what your choice would be!!) But seriously, why not, if it means $10 a day in savings that could otherwise be spent on beads??? Easy decision. And Cheerios aren't at all heavy.

Cats are taken care of, VISA has been notified I will be out of the country charging up a storm if I spend all the American money in my wallet, I have my passport, boarding pass and Bead and Button show tickets, the taxi is booked to arrive at 6:15 tomorrow morning (which means I have to get up at god awful early o'clock) so it looks like I'm good to go.

But keep tuning in to my blog, I'll be posting all next week with the details of the classes I'm taking. Wait until you see what I'm going to be making - it's pretty darned cool!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I'm starting to feel like I'm running out of time, trying to get everything sorted for my trip. Thank goodness I have my lists, I'm just trying to work through them. It's hard to focus, I seem to jump back and forth and do a bunch of things at once and go from room to room doing this and that. Somehow, it will all get done but I'm trying not to exhaust myself in the meantime.

I found my jewellery saw tonight, which is a good thing. And I have found all the other supply items I need to take with me. Now all I have to do is decide what miscellaneous bead supplies I want to take (because heaven forbid you should be without the very thing you need, although the fact that there will be places to buy all sorts of beading supplies is a very good thing!), figure out what clothes to take and see if everything will fit in my suitcases!!

Now if I could just find the earphones for my iPod...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Jewellery To Take?

When going to a beading convention, how the heck do you decide what jewellery to take?? Talk about pressure!! Is it just me or are all the attendees wondering the same thing? Unless you are one of the fabulous artists who have been chosen to teach courses, in which case the answer is easy enough - you wear your own stuff and you wear what you are teaching, because it's already so good that everyone wants to learn how to make it.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, what to wear??? You can't really wear something that you made from a kit designed by someone else or learned how to make in a class with one of the teachers who will be present, can you? Or maybe you can, as sort of an homage to that person's talent. I really don't know the protocol.

I read something funny in one of the beading magazines lately, that beaders are the only people who can approach a total stranger, stare at their chest, reach out to touch the piece of jewellery they are wearing, and then look them in the eye and say, "That's beautiful!"

I am sure there will be lots of beautiful pieces on display as a beading convention will no doubt inspire most people to show off their own creations. It's a little intimidating, really!! What if you wear something you made and nobody compliments you on it? You really need to be wearing something totally dazzling. And it's too late to make anything new, since there are only 3 more sleeps left and I'll be too busy packing to have time to make jewellery.
I'm thinking perhaps I will go completely bare of adornment, just to be different and to avoid the pressure. Or perhaps there's still time to put something together like this ensemble:

Packing for Milwaukee

I'm starting to get ready for my trip (only 4 more sleeps!) For me, the getting ready process always begins with a series of lists - what to take, what needs to be done before I go, what I need to buy.

It's hard to know how to pack for something that you've never done before, especially when you are limited by the number of suitcases you can bring on the plane and the fact that they can't weigh over 23 kgs without incurring a hefty fee.

The good news is, the teachers provide supply lists and a lot of required items are common to each class as a result of the choices I made. Like the pliers - chainnose and roundnose are the most common. I deliberately didn't choose certain classes because I didn't have the supplies they required or didn't want to haul them on the plane, such as the lampworking classes which require you to bring a bunch of heavy tools and your own mandrells. That would be a bit of an investment for me, as I'm used to the studio at Beadfx supplying all these items for me.

What they don't tell you is what to wear - do I need to take several changes of clothes in case certain techniques are messier than others? If it's just beadweaving, there's not much danger of getting dirty but in the metalworking classes, if we're soldering something or sanding stuff, it's bound to get a little untidy. I have my handy dandy apron from the Haliburton School of Fine Arts, I shall be sure to take that with me.

I also have a bunch of things I need to do before I leave - laundry, pay rent for June, make arrangements with the cat sitter, pick up some American money at the bank, make sure the garbage is emptied and set the VCR to tape Coronation Street while I'm away. I've been working on getting a few things done each day this week so I don't have to do it all in one day at the last minute. Some people are good with that - me, not so much!

At least my lists will make it easier for me on Friday night as the clock ticks down and the hour draws late. We have to be at the airport around 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, so I'll need to get to bed at a reasonable time.
Okay, gotta go, things to do!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

If you are an American or living in the U.S., you are celebrating Memorial Day today. To translate for us Canadians, it's their version of our Remembrance Day. It is held on the last Monday in May to commemorate those men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country. It was originally held on May 30th, the anniversary of the reunification of the North and South, to honour those who died in the Civil War but eventually was expanded to include those who were killed in any war or military action.

My friend Wendy posted a link on Facebook today to a page which had the following quote setting out how to observe this day:

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

A moment of remembrance is held at 3 p.m., people place flags on soldiers' graves and the flag is flown at half-mast until noon.

The Indy 500 is also traditionally held on this day, which makes no sense to me whatsoever as I see no connection between someone driving a race car really fast around a track and a soldier giving their life defending their country but far be it from me to question this long standing tradition!

But in all seriousness, it doesn't hurt for us to pause and remember the fallen, whether they be our own countrymen or those of our neighbours. May they rest in peace.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Cottage is Open

This weekend was definitely the one we should have had last weekend for the holiday. It was sunny and a very comfortable temperature in the low 20's (Celsius) for working indoors or out, the lilacs and the tulips are in bloom and smell divine, and the road to the cottage was graded this past week and good for driving on as a result, compared to the pothole obstacle course that was last week's experience!

My sister and I spent half of yesterday and most of today cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. She did her usual wonderful job of getting the water running and after that, we got busy scrubbing down everything and washing all the dishes and cutlery that had been sitting idle for the past six months.

The start of cottage season also coincides with the beginning of garage/yard sale season. We didn't go up to the cottage until early afternoon yesterday because we were busy checking out the sales - within a two block radius of my mom's house, there were no less than six sales, plus my mom had a table in her driveway of her own!

One of the sales was held by our long time neighbour and family friend, Diane, who is moving in a couple of weeks (it will be very sad to see her go, even though she is only going to be a couple of blocks away, she has been living across the street for more years than I can remember and before that, lived across the street from my parents in our first house when my brother and I were just wee). Her three daughters were home for the weekend to give her a hand and there were lots of wonderful "vintage" things on offer. I picked up a rotary dial phone for just $1 - at that price, it will be worth keeping it around in case of a power outage. One of her daughters is a jewellery maker like myself and was selling some of her bead stash, so I picked up some goodies from her as well.

By far, my best purchase yesterday was a lovely, sturdy purple bookcase. It was a steal at only $6.00. The owner asked me to make an offer and I wondered what to say, not wanting to offend her by offering too little. Finally she said, "how about $6?" to which I replied, "SOLD!" I had been just about to offer her $10, so I was quite pleased. :) I'm going to keep the rest of my bead stash in it, so the funky purple colour will do quite nicely. Now all I have to do is figure out where to put it!

Here's a photo of the bookcase, with Carly nearby, waiting for a snack.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Counting Down to Milwaukee

One week from now, I will be making my way to Milwaukee,Wisconsin for the Bead and Button Show. From everything I've heard, this basically the Mecca for beaders, THE place to go for classes and shopping if you're into beads.

That remains to be seen, from my point of view, but I know I am quite excited about going. I'm a little less excited about hauling all the stuff down there that the various teachers have suggested we bring along, only because one of the items I'm supposed to bring is an anvil and I just know my back won't thank me for lugging that thing around in my suitcase. But that's really the only downside.

I'm especially looking forward to being reacquainted with some of my beading friends and teachers I have met before, as well as meeting new people and taking classes from the cream of the beading crop.

Counting down, only 7 more sleeps!!

Friday, May 22, 2009


My friend Dwyn from Beadfx recently blogged about a website called Apparently you can go there to get inspiration about what to write about if you're stuck for ideas. You can also post your answers and share them with Plinky readers. (I mostly just like their name, since it rhymes with "slinky" which is just such a great sounding word)

I finally checked it out today and the suggested topic was "what sport do you wish was more popular?" Hmm, that doesn't really get me going too much (my answer would be archery).

You can also check out previous suggestions from yesterday, the day before, etc. Those ones seemed a little bit more engaging to me - for example, recommend a book to read on the beach (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - it's close to 1,000 pages but you won't want it to end! Thank goodness it's just the first of a series); what's your favourite place to people watch? (hard to say, I like to people watch wherever I go); Martha Stewart is coming for dinner, what do you serve to impress her? (gee, that would be difficult, wouldn't it? I don't see Martha as someone who is easy to impress nor would I care whether or not she was. I'd probably serve my dad's lasagna recipe just because it's so good, it's usually what I make for company and once I was actually proposed to by someone who was favourably impressed by it so maybe it would work on Martha too); name three songs that sound best at full volume ("Don't Fear the Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult - one of my most favourite songs EVER, "Start Me up" - The Rolling Stones, and "Taking Care of Business" - Bachman Turner Overdrive) and my favourite for this week, is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all? (oh, so easy to answer, it's definitely better to have loved, even though it's so incredibly painful if you lost that love but at least you'll always have the memory of how wonderful it was while it lasted.)

Okay, gotta go crank some tunes now!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

He Could Have Said No

I bought this fabulous pendant at the Toronto Bead Society's Bead Fair a couple of weeks ago. It's made by a woman named Patricia Wilde who paints the images and fuses them onto glass. When I first stood in front of her display, I was absolutely mesmerized. I knew I had to have at least one of her pendants but couldn't decide which one, until I saw this one. I had just been discussing the Cleopatra-style arm band with my cousin Catherine the day before so that was what first caught my eye. Then Patricia told me that it wasn't Cleo in the picture, it is Eve - hence the serpent and the apple, get it? When she told me the name of the piece, "He Could Have Said No", I knew this was the one I wanted!!
If you want to check out her other masterpieces, here's the line to her website:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 2 of PMC

Just got home from my second day of PMC classes with Kate McKinnon. It seems like a long day, having left the house at 9 this morning. Class itself ended at 6 p.m. but I stayed a little bit later to finish a few things I was working on. I had taken my car in to the place across the parking lot from the Beadfx store to have it detailed while I spent the day in the store and they weren't quite finished with it when the class was finished, so my sister and I went for dinner, then back to pick up my car (they did a great job, it is so CLEAN, I love it! So glad to get all the salt and dirt from the winter washed away). Drove home, fed the cats, sat down at the computer and suddenly it's 9 p.m. and I'm wondering where the day went!?!

Today's class was chainmaking. There were 10 students and we all made very different chains. Unfortunately with a one day class, there isn't time to get everyone's stuff in the kiln and fired by the end of the day, so our finished chains won't be fired and ready until tomorrow. The suspense!!

I made a chain out of a combination of ring sizes and types, some are fused rings, some are PMC. It's a very random design of large and small rings. At the moment, it's actually four mini-chains that I will join together at some later date. I might add in some lampwork beads and/or wire wrapped joins, I haven't quite decided yet.

Here's what my pieces look like right now, before they've been in the kiln:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More PMC Lessons with Kate

Kate McKinnon is teaching classes at Beadfx all this week. I'm signed up for two days of the five. Today was making various components out of PMC (precious metal clay) and fine silver. We all made earring hooks, fused jump rings, head pins, toggle bars, various connecting bits and pieces like bails and bits of wire with holes on the top and stuff like that there.

Here's a picture of Kate fusing some wire:

and here is a picture of the various components she and I made today, as they sat on the kiln shelf drying (Kate's stuff on the top, mine on the bottom):

Like most things, PMC takes practice to make it right. My first lesson was last May when I took a lesson from Kate for the first time. I did some more at the end of July and then again in January of this year. Other than that, I haven't done any w0rk with it and it's amazing what I forget and what I remember from time to time. Each time, I say to myself that I really ought to do more of it and then a few months goes by and suddenly it's time for another class and I haven't done anything in the meantime. Oh well, life is like that sometimes. I do enjoy it when I do it, but I definitely think I'd do better at it if I spent a little more time on it!
Back for day 2 tomorrow. We'll be making chains.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Victoria Day

I had a lovely Victoria Day, I hope you did too. It was a beautiful, sunny day although a little on the chilly side for this time of year, especially if you found yourself in the shade and not the sun.

I puttered around a bit this morning and then headed downtown to meet Kate McKinnon at the Delta Chelsea. We walked over to the Skydome or Rogers Centre by way of Nathan Phillips Square. It's fun to walk around our fair city with someone from out of town, showing them the sights. A bit daunting if you can't remember or don't know the who, why, where or what about something but hey, it's a good opportunity to learn new stuff. Such as, why do we have a statue of Winston Churchill next door to Osgoode Hall? What's connection between Sir Winston and Toronto?

We had a great time at the ball game, the Jays won 3-2, making it a clean sweep of the four game weekend series. Afterwards, we took a stroll along Queen Street and checked out some of the funky shops that were open and peeked in the windows of those that weren't.

I was a little weary when I got home around 7 p.m. and had just changed into my p.j.'s and was about to settle in for a quiet night when I got a call from my sister to meet her and her friend to see the new Star Trek movie. Plenty of time for a quick change and back in the car. Loved the movie!!

Now off to bed so I'll be fresh for the next two days of classes at Beadfx with Kate - looking forward to seeing her new designs and making a few of my own.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weather Permitting

Even the best laid plans can be scuttled by bad weather and that is what happened to us yesterday and today. Yesterday was rainy and very cool for most of the day, so instead of opening up the cottage, my sister and I left Toronto until early afternoon and made our way slowly northeast of the city, visiting various antique stores on the way. We spent the night at my mom's house and had a lovely dinner and evening with her, warm and dry indoors.

Luckily, there was no snow on the ground this morning as the forecast had threatened but it was close to zero degrees, which was not what everyone was hoping for. We spent the morning at the annual cottagers association meeting, where yours truly was busy fulfilling my secretarial duties by registering the attendees (many thanks to my sister Janine for her help with this task) and taking the minutes. It was great to see everyone again after a long winter.

We had lunch and then headed to the cottage and spent about an hour checking things out and doing one or two small jobs and then admitted defeat, overcome by the single digit temperature and gale force winds. Mom headed home and Janine and I visited a few more antique stores in the Fenelon Falls area. I had a very successful weekend as far as treasure hunting was concerned and we'll try again next weekend to open the cottage.

Thank goodness the trilliums, which only appear in the spring, are hardy enough to withstand these unseasonably cold temperatures.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cottage Opening Weekend

The long weekend in May is traditionally the time when those of us who don't have winterized cottages open them up for the summer. Thousands of people load up their minivans and pickup trucks and haul a load of furniture, mattresses, swim toys and/or their boat up north. Sure enough, the traffic report I heard first thing this morning advised that one lane on the highway was blocked by somebody's barbeque. You can be sure that BBQ should have been on it's way to a cottage. (Looks like those folks will be eating out tonight.)

Some years, like this one, the 3 day weekend falls a little bit earlier in the month - the statutory holiday upon which we Canadians celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria is held on the Monday on or before May 24th, so it varies with the calendar. Depending on the weather and how warm a spring we've had, we might have been up to the cottage several weekends in a row by now. Not so this year, when we've had a very cool spring. In fact, the forecast for this weekend calls for single digit temperatures overnight and frost warnings for some areas around the city. [My mother, the gardener of the family, has always told me never to plant before May 24th (the date, not the holiday weekend) and the one year I did, I learned why she is always right.] Add to that a wind blowing in off the lake, and the temperature feels even colder.

For us, opening the cottage starts with getting the water running. It's a semi-mysterious process, the details of which were passed to my dad from the previous owner when we bought the place 34 years ago and which he passed to my sister. She has a little notebook where she keeps track of the details. I know it involves priming the pump using buckets of water carried up from the lake but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

Once the water is running, we can turn on the hot water tank and/or plug in the kettle to heat up some water and that's when my job starts: cleaning. The first item to get cleaned out will be the fridge. We leave it plugged in over the winter which keeps it from getting all moldy but the trade off is that the freezer compartment ends up looking like this:

In a word, scary!! Job one involves a lot of boiling water, a squirt bottle and an ice pick (I picked up a lovely vintage one at an antique market last year. Before that, I just used a regular dinner knife). It usually has to be done at least once during the summer as well but it's worth it. We have a charming vintage fridge from the 50's or early 60's that we love and it's important to keep it clean and fresh inside.

After that, every cupboard, drawer, floor and surface, every cup, plate, bowl and utensil needs to be cleaned, both to remove any dust or dirt that might have accumulated over 6 months of not being used but also in case a mouse has run over it. They tend to make themselves at home in our place over the winter months and when we arrive in the spring, there are little mouse droppings everywhere to show they've been there. So everything needs to be cleaned and disinfected, just in case. Plus it's always nice to start with a clean slate.

So I'm packing up my rubber gloves, cleaning products, scrub brushes, SOS pads and sponges and heading up to the cottage to engage in the labour of love that begins every summer. When the work is done (having climbed a ladder to take the cover off the chimney and hauled in a load of firewood and dusted and vacuumed the living room), we can sit by a roaring fire and look out the picture window at our beautiful lake view and it will be worth every sore muscle.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shopping at Lacy's

If you're into jewellery making and you've never been to Lacy & Co. at 55 Queen Street East in Toronto, you really ought to check it out. It's downstairs in this rather non-descript office building and doesn't look like anything fancy but it's filled with all of the necessary tools and equipment for making any type of jewellery.

The first time I went there was about 3 years ago. I had a supply list for a chain making class I had signed up for, and needed to buy a jewellery saw. (Turns out the first thing we learned was how to make our own jump rings, which was pretty satisfying but I'm still glad to know I can always buy them ready made!!)

When I went to Lacy's that time, I had no idea what all the stuff was that they had on display. This time, I was pleased to realize that I could identify a lot of the contents of their store and had at least a vague idea of what most of the items were for. Several of them are on my "some day when I have my own studio and/or win the lottery" list. I've definitely learned a lot over the past few years!

I only spent about 10 minutes there today and less than $50. I am amazed at my self-control. If it weren't for the fact that I'm saving myself for the Bead & Button show in two weeks, I could have been seriously tempted. There were several other things I coveted there but I was able to restrain myself (mostly because my back could barely handle the weight of the anvil, let alone anything else!)

As it is, I came home with an anvil, screw clamp and bench pin combination item, a beginner set of metal files (only $6.95 vs. the expert set which was $49.95!!), a bead awl and some new saw blades for that saw I bought 3 years ago.

If you want to go to Lacy's, keep in mind they aren't open weekends and they close at 5:30 during the week. But it's definitely worth the trip and if their hours don't suit your schedule, you can always check out their website and shop online.

As for me, that tumbler purchase will just have to wait until my next visit! Unless I win tomorrow's $40 million jackpot, in which case, I'll be back in the store on Tuesday morning!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Jade Inspiration Challenge

Now appearing on the Beadfx website are the latest challenge results from The Dixon Chick and myself. I call mine "Jade Mystery" because when she gave me the beads, Dwyn told me that the jade dangles were vintage and had been taken from a piece that I had never seen. Since I'll never know what the original looked like, the history of these beads will always be a mystery to me.

Here's what we both started out with: a large brass piece (or "gi-normous" as Dwyn describes it), some jade coloured glass beads that already had wires loops on them (very convenient), gold/brass starfish, circles and leaf charms, and some 4mm gold round beads.

Once again, we both made something completely different. Once again, I used wire crochet in my creation and Stephanie did nothing of the sort. Too funny!

Stephanie's creation is called "Convertable Jade" because her piece can either be worn as a necklace or a belt - very cool, very unique! (many thanks to Dwyn for the photos of the finished pieces)

Did I mention that I also made matching earrings? (but of course I did!!)

P.S. I'm beginning to think Dwyn has a thing for the colour green. This is the second time she has given us green beads to work with and - spoiler alert - next month's challenge has them too!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The 10 Minute Necklace

The other day, I finally figured out what to wear to work (it's hard these days, because it's single digit temperatures overnight, which means it's chilly in the morning, and then warms up to about 18 during the day, which means my office is like a refrigerator in the morning because the airconditioning is blowing full steam and like an oven in the afternoon because the A/C seems to have turned off just as the sun starts shining directly in my windows to warm the place up) but didn't like my choices of necklaces to wear with what I'd chosen.

I decided to make myself a new necklace but I only had about ten minutes before I had to leave for work (oh, to be a work from home jewellery designer full-time, then I wouldn't need to change out of my pyjamas or rush off in the morning! And in my ultimate, I just won $26 million in the lottery dream, I'd also be living in a much warmer climate). I had bought these daisies at the TBS Bead Fair two weekends ago and decided I would just dangle them from some chain using jump rings. I had 5 daisies in total, so used 2 for earrings and 3 for the necklace - easy and quick!

Carin's Beads

Last summer in France, I shared a room with a lovely woman named Carin who lives in B.C. (we thought it was appropriate that the only 2 Canadians in the group should room together and it turned out to be a good fit). It turns out she makes lampwork beads too, only once I saw the type of things she has made, I had to admit to myself that I am still operating on a learner's permit when it comes to bead making - I bow to her greatness.

Check out this marble bead bracelet that she made - I love the bigness of the beads and the decorating on them is so beautiful:

Carin told me that if I gave her one of the old fashioned skeleton keys that I had bought at the vide grenier, she would put a bead on it, so I did and last week, a package arrived with these two treasures inside:

I find the spiked heart to be especially punk in style. I am wondering if I can find some chain that looks a bit like barbed wire to hang it from, it kind of cries out for something like that, don't you think?
Thank you, Carin!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Antique Market Finds

As promised, here are a few photos of some of the treasures I bought at the outdoor antique market on Saturday. I was tempted by the oh so tacky tiger/jaguar/leopard but managed to restrain myself.

I did find this lovely bracelet, which I shall attempt to copy at some point in the future but in the meantime, will enjoy wearing on my wrist, telling myself the beads are no doubt vintage and very rare:

It jingles very nicely on my wrist as I twist it about, it's colourful enough to go with absolutely everything and the strands are stretchy so it's easy to slip off and on.

I also bought a whole bunch of buttons and I was quite excited about the price. Each card in the photo was $1, which in one case was 3 lovely jet buttons and in another case was fifteen equally impressive metal buttons. This, to me, was quite a find, given that you usually pay at least $1.00 per for vintage buttons at a bead show. I probably should have bought all of them and then resold them at the upcoming TBS Garage Sale to fund my trip to Milwaukee and/or pay off my vet bill. Oh well, you know what they say - hindsight is 20/20.

The woman that sold me these buttons had dozens of these cards, all of which she made, decorated and attached the buttons to herself. Seems like a lot of work for $1.00 to me but it must be a labour of love and they certainly look lovely. She also sells vintage ktichen utensils and linens, while her husband has a whole bunch of vintage tools and keys and hardware stuff in the other half of their booth. I discussed different hammer heads with him on Saturday.

I picked up a couple more insulators, a pretty turquoise one and a neat white/clear one that looks a little bit like a top hat (2nd from the left and far right in the photo):

My funnest purchase was this salt and pepper set. Have you ever seen such a glamourous pair of fish? I certainly have not. Quite a deal for only $5!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mothers out there and especially to my own dear Mom, I wish you all a very happy Mother's Day. I hope you are spending the day with people you love. I will be.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Outdoor Market Season

Spring has finally sprung here in southern Ontario and that means the start of the outdoor antique market season.

Getting to the first Flamboro show at the Brampton Fairgrounds was a bit of an adventure this morning. As I was driving, the sky was turning blacker and blacker and suddenly it started to pour. I could hardly see anything in front of me - just followed the lights of the truck ahead of me and hoped for the best. Then something bounced loudly off my roof, followed by another loud metallic ping and I realized it was hailing. For tiny little bits of ice, they sure make a heck of a noise when you're sitting inside a tin can!! It was so bad, traffic was pretty much standing still, although there was still the odd foolish driver here and there who didn't see the need to put their headlights on (what is wrong with these people??). I made my way to the side of the road and waited it out.

After only a few minutes (that seemed much longer), the skies cleared and I continued on my way. Met my friend Barb in the parking lot after a couple of cell phone calls to coordinate positions and we then prepared to shop. She had very cleverly brought along a couple of fabulous raincoats for each of us, complete with reflective strips, courtesy of a paramedic relative. Of course, several people seemed to think we were the parking lot staff as we walked around but that was okay. We probably could have auctioned off the coats for a pretty penny during the heaviest downpours!

The number of vendors seemed much smaller this time around, perhaps it was the weather, maybe due to the economy. There were two buildings full of the smaller bits and pieces and several stalls outside with larger furniture and whatnots. Everything outside was covered with a thin layer of water although most of the items seemed to have withstood the early morning deluge. Then it started raining again just before midday and that carried on rather torrentially for quite a while. Luckily, we had checked out the outdoor stalls before the rain started. Barb and I ate our hotdog lunch in the car, put our raincoats back on during a break in the rain and headed in to scour the insider vendors' tables.

I'll share my purchases with you in Monday's post. In the meantime, here are a few photos of my day:

Friday, May 8, 2009

The World on a String

This past Wednesday was the May meeting of the Toronto Bead Society. It was our annual general meeting to elect the Steering Committee but there wasn't anything to vote on because all the positions were filled by acclimation (i.e. only one person volunteered to do the job so they were picked!). In some cases, two or three people offered to share the position, which probably makes sense as far as time commitments go. I'm sure everyone will do a great job.

Since that that part of the meeting didn't take too long to sort out, we were then treated to a showing of part of a DVD (which was actually one of a series of 5 in total) called "The World on a String". It's a "documentary series produced by veteran film maker Diana Friedberg" showing the history of the world as it pertains to beading. Not surprisingly, she travelled to over 30 countries to film the series.

The DVD we watched was called "A Passion for Beads" and the two or three segments that I saw were quite fascinating. One woman was teaching African people to make beads out of recycled glass, including eyeglass lenses, while another woman described her passion for vintage Swarovski crystals and displayed the dresses she makes entirely out of crystals, feathers and ribbons but absolutely no fabric. Unfortunately, I can't find anything about her designs on the Internet (all I remember is her last name was Be!!) which is a shame because these outfits have to be seen to be believed, they are exquisitely beautiful. One skirt was made entirely out of peacock feathers! The dresses take hours and hours of time to make and they often created right on the models for a perfect fit. Incredible.

Here's the link to the website for the DVDs:

I'm definitely going to check them out.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's an Odd Day

Did you know that today's date, 5/7/09, is made up of three consecutive odd numbers? According to this website,, this only happens six times this century and then we have to wait another 90 years until it happens again.

Apparently, I just wasn't paying attention before because it has already happened twice since we clicked into the new millenium, on 1/3/05 and 3/5/07, and I missed the significance. The next three dates to watch out for are: 7/9/11, 9/11/13 and 11/13/15.

One thing that I find odd is that I had never used a dremel to clean the bead release out of my finished beads before, until today. Now that I have, I wonder why I ever spent the time to clean them painstakingly by hand with a bead reamer when it is so much more fun, quicker and more effective to do it with the speedy, vibrating dremel.

They have one set up at Beadfx, hanging from something that looks a bit like an IV stand, beside a bucket full of grey water in the lampwork studio. I dropped a bead into the bucket by mistake and had to feel around for it. It's weird when you can't see what you're looking for. I felt something else on the bottom of that bucket but I didn't want to investigate too closely into what it might be, I just snatched up my bead and got my hand out of there! There could be a Loch Ness-type monster lurking in those murky depths, ready to have a little nibble on any unsuspecting fingers who ventured in unawares, who can say for sure there isn't? But aside from that little adventure, it's all good - I have a batch of very clean beads and plans to take my stash of uncleaned ones in with me next time I go so I can get them all prettied up and ready to use.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Russia With Talent

Last Saturday, a woman came by the Dixon Chicks table at the TBS Bead Fair to speak with Stephanie and show her some of her jewellery. Her name was Alla and she pulled out bag after bag from her purse in a very Mary Poppinsish manner, chatted a few minutes and then left us with her jewellery while she and her friend went to look around the fair. If I understood correctly, she was here visiting from Minsk, having been here for the Bead Oasis show in March, met Stephanie and has been emailing with her since then, and decided to fly back over just to attend the Bead Fair!!

Stephanie and I and another woman (whose name I didn't catch but who saw the first piece and then couldn't leave before seeing them all) opened each bag and oohed and aahed over the pieces. Each one was even more intricate and beautiful than the one before.

Here are just a few pictures of her fabulous designs:

The white necklace was especially lovely and would look amazing with a wedding dress!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

The fifth of May is what they call a "voluntary holiday" in Mexico, which is one way of saying it's not a national holiday and it's not a statutory holiday. According to the Internet, it recognizes the defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It's not their independence day, as many people mistakenly believe.

In the U.S., today is a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, but not a holiday.

Here in Canada, it's just one of those holidays noted on the calendar that makes you think, "hey, I wonder what that's all about?" :)
For me, today is special because two of the wonderful women that I met in Mexico this past January are celebrating their birthday. Happy Birthday, ladies - I certainly hope you are having margaritas to celebrate!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Corsage Project

Yesterday also marked the occasion of a very special annual event here in Toronto called the Corsage Project. Recognizing that going to their school formal or prom is something many kids dream of but can't always afford, girls from all over Toronto are given the opportunity to attend their proms with brand new clothes, jewellery, shoes and accessories donated by various corporate sponsors and individuals. The girls are nominated by their guidance counsellors, teachers or children's aid workers and are invited to attend one afternoon to try on outfits and pick out what they'd like to wear. Volunteers are assigned to each girl to be their "personal shopper" or you can work at the various stations, helping them with makeup, hairstyles, having their picture taken, getting alterations done. There are similar organizations throughout North America doing the same thing and it is such a worthwhile cause.

Last year was my first time taking part in this event and it was such a lot of fun and so moving to see these girls come in and get dressed up. They're excited to be there but in the beginning, they're nervous and not sure how it's going to turn out. By the end of the afternoon, they are so happy and excited to have found just the right outfit, it's quite amazing to see the transformation.
I worked at the jewellery table last year, helping the girls pick out bracelets, earrings and necklaces to go with their outfits. Various members of the Toronto Bead Society and customers of Beadfx and Bead Junction donate their time and creations to this worthy cause, stores donate the clothes and shoes. Not to worry, everything is brand new (except for some pieces of vintage jewellery, perhaps) - it's not like the poor girls have to go to prom wearing somebody's bridesmaid dress from 1974!

I found this photo on the internet, in a blog called "OdetteRoulette" (great name) - hope Odette doesn't mind me using this photo. Her caption was "Sweet mother of toast! I would leap across the (bleep) cake and stab my friend with the cake server if made to wear this thing! Thanks to stylenews for this monstrocity." I agree, Odette!

I was sorry to miss yesterday's festivities and I look forward to taking part again next year.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another Eventful Day

Thank you very much to my cousin Catherine, who hosted a jewellery show at her home for me today. Not a very big turnout but we had a good visit and lots of fun, everyone was very complimentary about my creations and went home with something they liked.

Here's a photo of my cousin Cameron trying on one of my necklaces, and his sister Claire and her friend Christina doing the same. The kids were so cute, they all wanted to either touch or try on every piece.

This is my aunt Barb, modelling the necklace that she bought. It's a very dainty wire wrapped design and suited her both her personality and her rose coloured top perfectly.

I was about an hour late arriving to Catherine's house as there was a serious accident on the highway just as I was heading to her place. All five lanes of traffic were completely blocked, no cars were getting through and we were stuck for over 45 minutes. It was the first time I've ever been in a traffic backlog where everyone turned off their engines and got out of their cars to talk and look around. Apparently a motorcyclist ended up under a tractor trailer. They actually landed the medivac helicopter on the highway in front of us and took the victim away. I was only about 10 cars from the scene of the accident so was able to get this photo. I was amazed at the number of cars that stopped on the overpass above and the people inside got out to have a look at what was going on. All in all, it sounded pretty serious for the victim, who at last report had suffered injuries to both legs and was undergoing surgery but hopefully he's going to be okay in the long run.
As inconvenienced as the rest of us were, I think we were all pretty glad to be stuck in traffic in the sun on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, instead of being the one airlifted away from the scene.