Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DonorsChoose.org: Gift certificates

I just donated to my third donorschoose.org project. It's called "Change with Time" and the teacher describes it here.  I gave my family gift certificates for Christmas and we had fun searching for projects that were of interest to them.
  • My brother likes Chess so he helped a teacher buy Chess strategy books for his students. 
  • My mom wears a pedometer every day and is fanatical about getting her steps. She donated to a project to get pedometers for the students who would gather information while burning calories and learn about charting and analyzing data. 
  • Rob works in energy conversion so he donated to a solar project.
  • Rich is a retired teacher and farmer so he donated to an agriculture class learning about landscape design and soil testing.
  • All DonorsChoose.org projects are submitted by public school teachers who seek resources essential to their students' success.
Check it out, it's fun! Best of all, I can pay for donations with Paypal. That makes it easy to contribute some of my bead proceeds to a good cause.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ByTheBead: Earrings galore!

If you are in the market for pretty earrings for yourself or a friend, I recommend bythebead on etsy. If you can't find something you like there, you're just not trying. I had to give up on earrings about 8 years ago...no matter what I wore, I was afflicted with red, inflamed earlobes. But if I was still an "earringer," I'd be buying from Nancy!

For some reason, I find this pair particularly appealing. Hmm...I wonder why that is? :o)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Artist: Nathan Fowkes

I found Nathan Fowkes' blogs tonight. I don't even have the words to describe how fantastic all his stuff is.
The charcoal of the woman at left is stunning. I love the way the hair changes from realistic at the top to stylized at the bottom.
Click on these links to see some of my favorites...
Charcoal woman
Landscape (watercolor)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Tradition: Gift Clues

My family has a tradition regarding gift tags on presents. You don't just write To: Name and From: Name. You have to write a clue about what's inside and as we take turns opening gifts, the recipient has to read the clue out loud and try to guess what it is. My brother also has a "tradition" of wrapping gifts in whatever store circulars are in his local paper.
So for his birthday this year, one of his gifts was a book. I found a Target ad that showed a woman on a couch reading a book and I wrote, "What? Some people actually do this?" He reads a lot and every time I mention a book, he interjects with "You know, you're not a strong reader," in a mock condescending tone. This is because I'm in a book club and until I discovered audible.com, I rarely ever finished the book. The problem with reading is, you can't draw or make beads at the same time!

DSfDF: Original photos with Artworks

More on the "Different Strokes" challenge: If you want to see the original photos and artworks together, here's a video.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Different Strokes Portrait Challenge

This portrait of Karen Hargett is part of the Different Strokes for Different Folks end of year portrait challenge. This may be one of my most favorite pictures ever (see the rest of my pastels here.) I sometimes do "loose" images, but when it's a portrait I try to make it really look like THAT person, not just A person. I'm not good enough (yet!) to do a portrait with a less controllable medium than the pastel pencils. There are a few angles that could be tweaked to make it resemble her more but I didn't want to keep working it to the point of ruining the surface.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

100 sales!

I was hoping to hit the 100 sales mark before the end of the year and as of tonight, I did. The Chinoiserie set shown below was in the order that put me over the century mark. I knew I loved those beads!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

B. Dennis: simple, beautiful sketches

I love love love this watercolor and ink sketch by Bill Dennis. A small section of it is shown here but be sure to click to see the full image.
In fact, go look at all the nice pictures on his flickr page.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sketchbook: Candy Wrappers

I should be drawing instead of adding to my blog!
I'm a bit behind schedule on my book!

Brings to mind a painted Chinese Screen, hence the name

These are my current favorite from my recent clay sessions. I called them Chinoiserie.
(Definition: a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque." Refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Build a Necklace Workshop at my house

I have to return to work tomorrow after 9 days off. Sad. But I got to make many new beads and they are all on etsy awaiting buyers. (My new favorites are in the next post so look up!)
On one day, my friend Julie who was also off, came over for a bead workshop. I taught her how to make a simple flower cane and we formed beads, baked them, and mixed them with other beads to make a double-stranded necklace that she wore home at 4:30 pm. 
We accomplished all that in 5.5 hours while drinking Tequila Bloody Marys and pausing for a quick lunch of chili and Tostitos with guacamole.

Food: Olive and Caper Spaghetti Sauce

I had company on Saturday and made lasagna using a new spaghetti sauce I found at the store. It was "Good Housekeeping" brand Olive and Caper flavor. It was delicious. I tried to find an image of it online but can barely find any evidence that it exists except for this.

Anyway, if you like green olives and see the sauce at your store, buy it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Necklace -- created with beads from three etsians

I finally had time to put my felted wool necklace together and it turned out pretty nice.
Best of all, it matches one of my jackets perfectly! The only downside that I didn't anticipate is (and I don't know why I didn't) that the wool beads are just a tiny bit itchy if I wear them on my bare skin.

The felted beads came from DramaOfGiftedChild
The yellow glass disks came from Outwest
The burgundy glass disks came from SkullyB

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sketchbook: Farm Window

This is the view out of my mom's living room window. At the time I started my drawing there were only three cows out there. But later in the day, my stepdad went out to feed them and they came en masse over the hill. See the photo...

Sketchboook: Running Shoes

I took the sketchbook home with me over the Thanksgiving holiday. Still 21 pages left to fill!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Spectacular lampwork beads!

I just discovered Magdalena Ruiz's glass beads on Flickr.com. Complex, folk-art-ish, GORGEOUS! I have never seen any like this before. I hope to own some someday -- I signed up for her mailing list!
Her website is:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sketchbook: Nova Scotia (Virtual Paintout double-duty)

From Leslie Hawes' blog (she makes lovely colored pencil drawings) I learned of the Virtual Paintout. Bill Guffey chooses a location somewhere in the world and participants use Google Maps Streetview to find a scene to render in pencil, paint, ink, or whatever it is they do. FUN! This drawing is doing double-duty as part of my Arthouse Co-op Sketchbook project also. The water part of this picture isn't too good but that's what a sketchbook is for. Practice!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sketchbook: Kambug

My kitty Kambug wouldn't sit still for me so I just kept sketching him!

My new beads

I made these over the weekend and I must say, I love them!! In addition to these three, there are two sets of coordinating "inch bar" beads.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nice art for the kitchen from Workingwoman on etsy

Workingwoman on etsy has a series of beautiful prints of simple white porcelain objects. They're a nice reminder that it's the execution, not necessarily the the subject matter, that makes for a good picture.

And her "Cookie Monster" made me laugh out loud...I think I may get that same look when spying a cookie!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Maunsell Bead Necklace

I finally had time last night to make my necklace with the beads I bought from Claire Maunsell. It can be  wrapped around twice or worn as a single long strand.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Creative Day!

Today was a very fun day! Rob and I were both working on creative endeavors, and unlike most weekend daylight hours, we were in the same house!
   I was busy making beads all day -- all the gold ones in the photo at left are from today. I have lots of sanding to do! I managed to get one set posted in the shop this afternoon.
   Rob was back and forth between Photoshop on my computer and Publisher on his laptop for a super-secret special project. People will be impressed by the final result!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sketchbook: Tree Roots

Rob and I went to the Kettle Creek Lodge in central PA on Saturday. It is a nice fishing lodge and we had the place to ourselves because a big party had just left that morning. I sanded beads, then Rob killed me at Scrabble while we had a bottle of wine. The next day he fished; I sketched.

Read the story of the sketch: http://www.arthousecoop.com/users/artybecca/portfolio/67487

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clay Retreat

I just returned today from the Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild's Annual Retreat. It was held at Lutherlyn Camp in Butler, PA. They have a huge beautiful, well-lit (regardless of what my photo here seems to show) room for us to work in, comfortable sleeping cabins, and a staffed kitchen. This is how I should live all the time...14 hours to clay and three meals a day!
It was so much fun! A few members did demonstrations of new products or techniques and we had auctions, contests, and special projects (contributing design ideas and samples for a program that makes jewelry out of recyled computer parts). Most members are local but we had attendees from Michigan, Ohio, and New York.
I got a great book in the silent auction that has given me a bunch of new ideas. I was very productive during the retreat -- 3 items are already on my etsy site with more to come!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Halloween Hall of Fame

It's that time of year again. Let's take a walk down memory lane...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Clay Master! Each piece is more beautiful than the last!

Today I discovered Marcia Palmer's polymer clay work! BEAUTIFUL!!! Just take a look through these pages...
She has a shop on etsy. Here's one of her many pretty items!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Christmas Wish List

I've been buying some gifts for others on etsy but there are a few items I'd like to have for myself (hint, hint family!)

I don't have the patience to make seed bead jewelry anymore, but  beadnurse does.
This could be a Christmas present for me!

This "box tote" by RoseKnits is just the right size to make a good home for Grandmother's linen napkins that I use as backdrops for my bead photos.

This necklace by UniquebyRebecca is very pretty

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sketchbook: Win the lottery!

The latest sketchbook page...

Sketchbook: Excercise more!

This is my t-shirt from the race last weekend. Twice in recent years I was in good enough shape to run the whole three miles but this year I couldn't get myself to train regularly so I walked it (with Rob who made us walk very fast!)
This drawing reminds me of the illustrations from the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl. I loved that book when I was little.

Sketchbook: Fold the laundry!

I've been working diligently on my Sketchbook Project pages. My theme is "A Million Little...Things I Should Do But Don't." (For more details about the project, see the post below this one.)
I will be figuratively airing some of my dirty laundry in the sketchbook, but I think many of the pages will relate to actual laundry, such as this one...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sketchbook Project

I signed up for the Sketchbook project and received my sketchbook last week.
The theme assigned to me was "a million little..." and I've decided to finish that statement with "...things I should do but don't."
The first sketch I did was of my book club book that I have barely started reading yet. Instead of reading it last night, I drew a picture of it. (That's why I hardly ever make it all the way through the books...I end up working on a creative project instead.)
Rob and I went to dinner tonight so I drew the condiments on our table. I love salt and should probably eat less of it so that was the subject matter du jour.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And speaking of so many beads of my own...

..here's how I store them all. Shelves and kitchen utensil hanging racks, all from Ikea. These are glass, stone, and polymer. You can get a better view of some individual necklaces here.

Beautiful beads by Claire Maunsell on etsy.com

I loooved these polymer clay beads at first sight and bought them immediately this evening. (This is the first time I ever purchased from someone else because I have so many beads of my own!)

I like the texture, color, and out-of-an-ancient-tomb vibe. While purchasing, I left a note for Claire asking if she had plans to make more in a few other colors -- I have a vision of them all mixed together in one long dramatic necklace. She indeed does plan to make more so I will post my necklace when it is finished.

In meantime, go check out her other interesting items on flickr and etsy

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Colorize Old B&W photos with Photoshop

I will post directions when I have more time so bookmark this and come back. It's a super easy Photoshop project to colorize your old family black and white photos to give them a funky twist.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Help a robot get its wings"

Voting has just ended for an ad contest on Etsy.com. I voted for this one by Norma V. Toraya (Crankbunny on etsy). It is one of only two out of the 10 nominees I think would be appealing to the person who doesn't know what Etsy is, and who may not have any preference about buying handmade items.
The simple explanation in the ad is easy to understand and the gentle humor gives it the right funky-but-serious-about-the-business image that might just be the push that gets the viewer to check out the site and buy something. Now, if only etsy would start advertising!! Go watch the ad, it's really well done.  http://tv.etsy.com/video/A-Robot-Gets-Its-Wings

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Green-Gold-Red Chunky Necklace

I made these beads intending to sell them on my etsy site but for some reason, most of them cracked while baking. The cracks don't affect the beads structurally; I  threw a few down--hard!--on my ceramic tile floor to no ill effect. However, I just didn't think I could sell them and feel good about it. So, I made a necklace for myself and discovered that it matched perfectly with jacket I have. Happy accident!

Favorite Idol: Adam's album comes out Nov. 24

If you don't know, Adam Lambert was the insanely talented, very interesting runner up the last round of American Idol. I have nearly worn out all the Adam songs I downloaded from iTunes during the Idol season. If you are a fan of the show and have never downloaded the studio versions of the songs (by all the contestants), you are missing out. They are uniformly great. (You can only download them during the season and for a few months after -- they were all gone when I looked a month or so ago.)

Adam's version of "Ring of Fire" is the most played song on my iPod -- about 150 times more than the second most frequent song. This evening I learned that you can pre-order his CD on amazon.com and immediately did so. Adam! Adam! Adam!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Favorite TV: Big Bang Theory

"Big Bang Theory" on TV. If you don't watch it, you should. Monday night, CBS, 9:30. Unfortunately it doesn't seem that full episodes are online anywhere for free, just clips. Or you can buy the first season on iTunes.

I watched sporadically during the first year, but it has really found its rhythm since then. And thanks to the exceptional comedic talents of Jim Parsons (http://jimparsons.net) who plays Sheldon, it has become one of the funniest shows on TV.
One of my favorite episodes from Season 2 featured Penny starting a business making hair clips and then the boys get involved to "improve" it. clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gkGa5j9N1M

Here's an interesting clip of Parsons on Letterman

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I order all my frames online through www.americanframe.com. Easy interface (but it used to be easier before they changed it!).  They also used to let you order small frames but no longer. However, the prices are still good so those are minor quibbles.
The picture at left and in the blog header is one I have not gotten around to framing yet. My reference material was a photo that a co-worker took while on vacation in China and it was the first picture I tackled in a weekend workshop in September. Desmond O'Hagan was the instructor. He was a great teacher. He worked on each person's painting as he demonstrated techniques so we all got to go home with a partial O'Hagan original!

Lorena Barrezueta's porcelain "disposables"

Look at these fun ceramic wares!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ink & watercolor drawings by Nicole Wong

Go check out these adorable ink and watercolor drawings by Nicole Wong for sale in her etsy store. So cute!

Margaret Dyer's pastels

I attended a workshop taught by Margaret Dyer in October 2008. I love her loose style, yet everything looks exactly like what it is. Here's a really good example...

Friday, September 25, 2009

The current obsession...

is (are) my etsy pages. But sales have slowed...it's been 13 days since the last sale.
I have three shops:
www.artybecca.etsy.com for my polymer clay beads
www.artybeccapix.etsy.com for my pastels (but it has been terribly neglected -- I need to reconsider that one.)
www.artybeccastash.etsy.com for multiple categories of items

However, with the money I've made since opening at the end of July, I have started buying Christmas presents. Maybe the karma of purchasing from others will get my sales flowing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


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