Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Storm!

It's a ‘level 3 snow and ice storm emergency’ in Cincinnati. I should be in the photo lab at North Light Books, but everything is closed due to the storm.

I awakened to 4 inches of snow yesterday morning – a gorgeous winter wonderland. Snow doesn’t slow anyone down here, like it does in Seattle – there are teams of snowplows screaming down the streets salting and clearing down to bare pavement. What slows the city is ice. Businesses closed down at 2:00 yesterday afternoon as the ice storm moved in. When my editor, Julie, and I walked out into the parking lot, it looked and felt like rain and I couldn’t understand why we were being sent home. However, her car, the road was covered in a layer of ice. Julie drove me by the mall so I could buy a stack of movies and to a grocery store to load up on staples for dinner and breakfast – there isn’t any restaurant in the hotel, but I have a little fridge and microwave in my room. We knew I might be stranded for awhile.

I hunkered down last night, watched a couple of movies, read my book and watched ice coat the windows until they looked like the frosted glass one buys for bathroom windows. The ice storm continued through the night and sometime in the wee hours, the hotel lost electricity. As the power cycled on and off, smoke alarms were set off – what a shot of adrenaline!

Early this morning, the ice turned back to snow and after a lazy morning, I bundled up and went out to make a snowman in the hotel parking lot. However the snow was powdery and wouldn’t pack, so I went for a walk instead. I wish I had my camera! The trees are coated with ice – every branch, twig and pine needle glistening through a top coating of snow. It is crippling, but beautiful.

I’m back inside now, watching swirling snow out my hotel window.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Photo Shoot

My photo-shoot with North Light Books is next week. Months have gone into preparing each beadwork piece to varying degrees of completion so that I can assemble 20 projects in their studio... in 5 days. I have already written pages and pages of instructions, descriptions, inspirations and sent it off for review - will my editors like it?

NLB marketing, sales and design teams have also been working on my book and have already designed the cover and title - will I like it? I'm nervous, excited... exhausted.

Right now, I'm packing up. Hammers, needles, beads have already been shipped. But liver of sulfur is an issue - I can't take it on the airplane, nor ship it via air (flammable solid), so I keep ordering tins from Rio Grande. Let me know if you've figured out how to take it across the country.

The photo shoot is all about my hands. Which brings me to one other little issue - mine aren't pretty. I have scars on my knuckles, my fingers are dry and cracking and my nails are short and weak. I've tried nail strengtheners, gelatin, lotions, gloves at night... nothing works. I know, I could get false ones, but that just isn't me. Oh well, hopefully my not-so-beautiful hands won't adversely affect book sales!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kimberly's bouquet

My girlfriend's daughter was married a few summers ago and a year before the wedding she came to me asking advice on flowers. We talked about her love of gardening, herbs and cooking and decided to weave the flowers in her wedding around these themes. Her mother, Sherri, whose garden backs onto mine, and I planned out a wedding garden for Kimberly and brought home hydrangeas, dahlias and roses in shades of purple from blue-violet through red-violet. Sherri edged the new garden with lavender, purple sage and silver thyme.

A year later, I carried arm loads of flowers in from both her garden and my own and set up a florist shop in my entry way. I made so many bouquets I lost count. Each table had a center bouquet and 5 posies of herbs (lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano - all herbs de provence to go with packets of the dried herbs and recipe cards). The wedding aisles were lined with hanging cones. Large bouquets graced the gift table, wedding book table, bar etc. My husband had to make a carrier for the back of my car to transport it all.

A few days ago, I pulled out some old photos and decided to use Kimberly's wedding flowers as inspiration for a bead soup.

If you look closely at one of the bouquets you can see the expanded analogous colors of blue-violet, violet, red-violet, pink and even into red-orange. Notice the deep, dark shadows and bright highlights which gives depth and movement to the color palette. This depth of color can also be captured in a bead soup by including dark and light shades of each color family. The resulting bead soups contains over 50 different tubes of seed beads in all sizes, shapes and finishes.

'Kimberly's Bouquet' bead soup

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Whidbey Island

The moment I get on the Whidbey Island Ferry, stress, anxiety, to-do lists all fall off my shoulders. The smell of the saltwater pulls at my childhood memories, I breathe deeper. The unending views of water, mountains, islands and boats sooth me - the best calming tonic around. And the cries of seagulls carry me into another time.

Whidbey time - Island time - is slower, calmer. The people seem friendlier, less frantic. Women don't wear as much make-up if any at all. I feel at home.

Brandon (8) hiking on the Ebey bluff

My husband, Jerry and I fell in love with Whidbey when our son, Morgan was not quite 1. Jerry took us for a hike on Ebey's Landing as a surprise for my birthday 10 years ago. We started on the beach, then headed up onto a farmer's field as the farmer himself waved from his combine. The trail lead onto a bluff overlooking the mouth of Puget Sound, with Vancouver Island Canada and the Straights of Juan de Fuca beyond. We were entranced and returned each August for my birthday. What started as a day hike eventually became our August camping trip at Fort Ebey.

For many years, we entertained the idea of buying property on the island and Jerry and I casually looked at real estate ads. We became more serious over the last couple of years, but dreams were constantly dashed down. 'Views' in our meager price range consisted of a peek-a-boo of water across neighboring junk piles, and 'waterfront' was usually an unbuildable lot. I slowly started to give up and last spring when Jerry wanted to rush up to see the latest listing, I declined. He and the boys went up anyway and I received a phone call a few hours later "get up here NOW!" We finally found our little piece of paradise!

Jerry marking off the property

Yes, we have a view, water access (a little road and wetlands are between us and the beach) and we back up onto an historic 500 acre farm that is now a state park with paths through the fields and woods as well as festivals, farmers markets a wine shop and yummy cafe.

I am beginning to believe that if you believe in something, work hard for it, save up for it and are patient... you will achieve it.

The sand/rocks on our beach were great inspiration for my Sandy Beach bead soup!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year

Why is it that an arbitrary date in the path of the sun inspires me with a sense of newness, expectation and creative energy? Perhaps it is because January 1 falls at the end of a long holiday and that I have had a bit of time to wind down from all of the activities and expectations of Christmas. Perhaps it is that same 'summer vacation' feeling from childhood - that last year is gone and next year will be better or different. Perhaps it is just writing in a new year on the top line of my checks.

Whatever the reason, when I look back I think in terms of years and, like most people, tend to lump the ups and downs all together into a summary assigned to a number. 2005 was the year my business took off nationally. 2006 was the year I lost both my dad and my grandma and slid into depression. The fact that I climbed out of the whirlpool of emotions that threatened to drown me by mid summer doesn't matter - 2006 will always live in my memory as when I gave up on my business, my family, myself. 2007 was a year of rebuilding and rediscovering myself - 3 steps forward, 1 step back.

And last year, 2008, is the year I realized anything is possible! Yes, I had some set backs and yes, I worked very hard and very long hours... but all of the work, the ups and downs, the self doubt, the accolades came together into a year of bursting creativity. I wrote and self published EYE FOR COLOR with my dear, and very talented, friend Joie Moring (with invaluable help from Kiki Meyers, Diane Ahern, Susan Leonhardt Reynolds and my family) and am under contract with North Light Books to write a book about freeform beadweaving and color!

A colorful team!

In fact it all started on New Years Day - a year ago. I dropped my aunt off at the airport and on the drive back had a sense of anticipation and bursting excitement. I had been entertaining the idea of writing a book (in that wishful place in the back of my mind - the one with lots of ideas, and lots of self doubt). Knowing this, my husband gave me some self publishing books way back in August (for my birthday). I was finally reading Dan Poynter's The Self Publishing Manual over the holidays and he recommended a visit to the book store to assess where my book would be and to see what grabbed me. So I spontaneously pulled off the freeway and into Barnes and Noble. Two books leaped off the shelf: Michael deMeng's: Secrets of Rusty Things and Sally Jean Alexander's Pretty Little Things. The colors are scrumptious (which is enough for me to buy a book), the layout, the paper, the mix of instructions with inspirations - everything I would want in my own book. It wasn't until I brought them home and poured through all of the pages that I realized the publisher, North Light Books and editor, Tonia Davenport sounded familiar. I had received an e-mail from Tonia a few months back asking if I would consider writing a book... talk about serendipity!

Tonia and I - chocolate martinis at the Bead & Button Show

What will 2009 bring? I have no control over the multitude of external events that can crash down on me, but I do know I have more control over how I react to them. I know it is my choice if I become dashed down and retreat into myself when my work is rejected or when someone doesn't like me. Or I can brush myself off (after just a little dip into self pity!), sit up straight and become determined to do even better the next time... the next year.