Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spreading Love with Beads

I adore artisan lamp work beads. Colorful balls of light, each individual, carrying the remnants of the soul of the artist who pours their creative hearts and their sweat into them.  The beads are as unique and individual as the artists themselves.  A reflection of their very best selves, moment by moment in melted and hand formed colored glass. 

I moved from pastel painting into jewelry design about a year ago and it wasn't long until I found what I refer to as "the glass masters".  Moreover, time  has lent itself to the pure delight of friendship born of admiration and appreciation for what these artists lend to other beading artists and metal smiths in the prospect of design using these new gemstones.  It was through one of my new friends, Artist Jan Thompson at  JanZartGlass,   that I heard about Beads of Courage.

I suppose it is every general beaders lament at some point as to the absolute requirement to de-stash.  How one goes about that seems to be limited and vague, but for the lamp work artist there exists an amazing program called Beads of Courage, Art-In-Medicine for Children with Serious Illness.

Here's how it works.  Doctors and hospitals nationwide have implemented this program for children suffering through illnesses that require different and progressive treatment series.  In an amazing integration, children enrolled in the program receive a Bead Guide outlining bead colors related to treatment milestones.  To start, they are presented with a string of beads which spells their names, and a membership card.  After differing treatments, the child is given the appropriate bead color by the provider.

So, if you are a glass Artist, what an awesome way to de-stash!  Just box up those goodies, those crazy experimental color and heart filled gems and send them off to Beads of Courage!  The shipping address and a donation form to print and fill out are here.   They also accept polymer clay beads and even manufactured beads for their Arts-In-Medicine workshops.  Thanks to my friend Jan, and Beads of Courage, I will never have to worry about what to do with my extra beads!

Artist Jan Thompson Bead Ruffle Dance

If you're not a glass artist, there are other ways to get involved.  To sponsor a child is only $25.00 and can be done at Beads of Courage on the Donate/Sponsor page.  If you would like to purchase a bead for donation, there is an Artist Gallery where you can choose something special for a child.  There are also collector beads for sale from the Beads in Space program.  In two shuttle missions, May of 2010 and again in May, 2011, specially created beads were taken into space.  Certificate bearing, limited edition reproduction space beads are also available for sale, with the proceeds going to Beads of Courage.  There are other options too, all outlined at their website. 

Beads have been used throughout the span of history for counting, for trade, to signify royalty.  Now they can be used to support and encourage children who are suffering.  Think of yourself as Johnny Appleseed, and spread some happiness by sending your beads to the Beads of Courage program.  Art which represents the gifts of the heart can heal ourselves, our friends, our children and our communities.

Beads of Courage
Pre-Order by June 1st for $10, after for $14  Limited Edition

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Making Space

Okay, so I've been a bit absent.  I got the spring cleaning bug and have not been just cleaning as in scrubbing and buffing, but in Removing.

I had heard of the group on Yahoo! called Freecycle.  The purpose? To re-purpose.  It's an awesome place where you can list two things:  What you want and What you want to give away.  No money changes hands, but the members find creative ways to support one another.  I have made some wonderful friends as a result of my participation.  

I have watched as all manner of things pass between people. Children's furniture and toys. Washer and Dryers. Computers. Mirrors, dog beds and water bowls and even a cord of wood.  I gave a cast off poster frame to someone who makes lovely fabric flowers so that she could create a display for a craft show.  Yes, even beads.  I like to think of it as the old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" but kicked up a notch.  It has become the haven for our out grown lives, a new form of community that I find simple and intriguing. 

I tell everyone about it, because the more people become involved, the more we can recycle and re-purpose even treasured items.  It is so much easier to see your child's first trike go to a family who needs one.  As our lives move and grow and change, one thing seems to remain the same:  we need to revise our stuff.  Not necessarily acquire more, but to get what we need and send the rest on it's way.  

So my cleaning has become an effort in sharing.  The items get listed as an Offer, and one of my extended neighbors emails to claim it.  So today I made a new list of things that I can move on, out into the world to be of benefit to someone else.  The circle of possessions and routine stuff de-stash.

There is something special in it for me.  I get more Space. I have moved into a Space Place.  Less is More.  I want what I need and little else.  I am happier that way, without the longing and the persistent desires of the material world.   I have seen lives devastated by the Wanting, the Constant Craving of something to fill their spaces, inside and out. 

Perhaps I was lucky as it was revealed to me that the space I really want to fill is Inside, and that's the Soul Space.  Amazingly, that place gets filled easily after the sharing, the giving away.  Then a most Amazing thing happens.  I find I have more to share, more to give.  And there is the circle. There I find Completion.  And, after all of that, Inspiration.

The Beachwalk Necklace

I've added a picture of my new Beachwalk Necklace.  A surprise of Circles, spirals and lovely blue lamp work beads by Karen Kordan at  KreationsbyKarenK on Etsy.

So I challenge you to find the Circles in your life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Picture Editing from the Shadows

Perhaps it might be one of the most valuable pieces of advice I will receive this year.  I had made a necklace with some  lovely Artisan lamp work beads and had sent a picture to thank the Artist for efforts.  In a very kind response, Melissa at Flame Touched Glass, gently  suggested  "Adjust the Shadows". 

My mind whirled, and I could not comprehend what she meant.  I had finished a piece for the April competition on the Art Bead Scene Blog.  But what did Melissa mean?  The shadows?

It took me some time, and after completing research on my Windows Live Photo Gallery program, I can honestly say that she was right.  It took quite some time for me to re-edit my photos, but I am going to give you the quick version here of how to implement this small change that if you are anything like me, will startle you into bliss.

Here goes.   I use a Cannon Rebel 500 with a light ring flash that was cast off from my husband, who no longer had a need for it.   The light ring works to control the flash to a 10" round area, and also diffuses the light so as not to cause overt reflections.  I have read from other artists not to use a flash, and I agree.  A normal flash is just too intense and would be like trying to take pictures in direct sun, but I find the light ring works very well.

I also do not use the program that came with the camera, mostly because I am stubborn and there were just heaps of documents to read.  If you are using camera software of any variety, you may be able to find these settings in that software and good luck as you embark on the search.   In the meantime, here is a quick and easy way to make this happen in your Windows 7 software.  I am running the 7 Professional version, just for reference.

Once you have downloaded and saved your photos into the folder you prefer, open the folder by double clicking on it.  In the Windows software, you will see the photos on the left, and a preview window on the right.  At the top right of the window, you have a small square icon that has a drop down arrow.  You can click on this arrow and it will control the size of the images on the left hand side of your screen.  Find the size you most like and click on it.

Ophelia Necklace Original Photo April 2012

Find an image you would like to try these steps on.  Double click it and it will reopen again in a large window.  At the top left of your new window, you will see 'Open'  and another drop down menu.  Move your mouse down and left click on Windows Live Photo Gallery.  A whole new window will open in the program and the picture that you had chosen will be highlighted.  To edit the picture, double click it again to make it the only item visible within the program.  When I do this, the intuitive part of the program already knows I am going into the Edit function, but the first few times, you may still need to click on the Edit tab at the top left of the page.

This is the part where the magic happens!  If you look amongst all the varied functions, you will find a small button with 3 sliders on it right in the middle of the top bar.  Click on it once with your left mouse button.  There is a whole panel of options that opens to the right of the picture.  We are really only concerned with two aspects and they are both in the first section "Adjust Exposure".  Click on the line item and another window opens.  

The last two items are the most important when you are taking photographs of jewelry.  First, begin to move the Shadow slider to the right, and watch the shadows you may never have noticed, lift in the picture without removing the color of the objects as would happen if you just increased the Brightness.

Next, if your piece has silver or gold or shiny components, you will want to move the Highlight button to the Left in small increments.  This will dial down the reflective aspects and keep them from overcoming the artwork visually.  Even in cases where you are working with something that has a finish in patina, the beads and other objects may create bright spots.

Ophelia Necklace Revised 2012

You can see vividly the difference in my Ophelia Necklace.  The beautiful layering of colors in the Artisan handmade glass beads is now visible.  Using the Highlight slider to downplay the reflections from the faceted purple amethyst and yellow jade, not to mention all the gold wire and round beads, really make it all much more visually pleasing.  As the necklace was also on a mirror, you can now see the reverse portions of the beads much better as well.

Now, to make sure that your changes are Saved, you MUST click the top right of that little box and a Green Arrow appears.   You can now, either click the top right big red X to close the file and these functions, or go to the top left and click on the Arrow button to go to the next picture.

Thank you to Melissa who sent me on this quest, and it is my hope and wish for all to be able to get the perfect picture.  I did not make the deadline for the April competition, but if I miss one again, it won't be for a lack of great pictures!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day weekend and I would like to wish all my friends who are also Moms and Grandma, and my very own RuRu a very Happy Day.  The celebration of our Mothers is a pivotal point in the year and in some ways seems far more important to me than Thanksgiving or other family oriented holidays.

My Mom literally kept me alive.  Not just in her warm embracing womb, of which I have but an intuitive sense thereof, but quite in actual practice, night and day for years, almost willing me to breathe with her own heartbeats and breaths.

I was born with asthma and allergies.  Through the days of childhood, I recall days being at home, for weeks on end, sick with something.  She was there every day, cleaning and feeding and sometimes even entertaining me.  She made sure I had an abundance of paper and little round tipped scissors.  I am probably the only child ever to wear out my scissors!

At night, when the damp air and the deepening darkness would creep in, so would the asthma, like some beast inside my body that I could not control nor had any defense.  In she would come, on the gentle sound of slippers, holding me up, loving me until I would take another breath and the blueness would fade.  At long last, when things would calm, I would lie awake just concentrating on breathing.  I would watch her gently sleep, her eyes always a bit darker for her nights with me.

We went on for years this way.  Years.  

I believe that the testament of Love is proven by Mothers all year long and in as myriad of ways of love as God himself might imagine.  

Wishing you all the Love of this very special day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Goldkisses is born

I have a number of people who have asked me where the moniker 'Goldkisses' originated.  This is going to date me, but it is the story of a merge of beloved art and technology.

Circa 1992 and the advent of the internet. The real origins, the days of AOL and um, dial-up.  <Insert memories of sounds by those who remember>  Phone bills of $200 for time spent in chat rooms, late at night in a frenzy of discussion.  Internet by the minute.

It happens that in those days, one needed a Username.  It actually kept your name off of the internet, and afforded some privacy.  I can say I miss those days.  There is no place for the alter ego to play hide and seek on the internet now.   If you did not know a Username would be required at the time of sign up, every minute spent trying to decide on a name cost money.  I had not known.  I did not know.

I clicked the set up button and suddenly, the race was on!  In about one minute flat, I had to choose.  I wanted my name to be Unique. Identifiable. Fun.  Sexy.

This would be 'Me' for ever.  This is as I would appear to the world 4 Ever.  What to choose?  What to choose?  My mind began to whirl with the names of constellations, stars, book characters, even cartoons in a rapid fire succession.  The pressure was on!  Favorite flower? Honeysuckle.  No.  Favorite book character?  Jane.  Definitely not.  Cartoon?  Rocky? Bullwinkle?  Jane? (what, again?)  No.  TV?  Morticia?  Um, no.  Marcia, Jan, Cindy?  NO, no, no.  Aquarius?  Entertaining, but it's been done. I looked down at my dinner.  Meatloaf?  Sigh, no.  Black eyed peas?  No. ( I didn't get it then, and I still don't.)  Cat woman?  No.  Aldebaran?  No.  Venus?  Cute, but already taken. Ugh.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I looked up at the wall.  A photo reproduction of  "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt  was hanging right there.  It is a painting of an embracing couple that exudes a level of intimacy and passion that fills the senses with longing and stirs the heart.    I liked the idea of creating mystery, intimacy and at the same time longing for my alter ego.  I studied the painting.  There are loads of gold included into the design that adds a richness, a depth.  I was relieved.  It will do.  I typed it in to check availabililty.  Not Taken!  I am reborn,  Goldkisses. 

Thank you Gustav.


Something I must tell you....

If you just found this blog, please don't give up on me right away.  This is my first blog. I am an Artist, with ambitions to write.  I used to say I was a writer with ambitions to being an artist.  Perhaps I am neither of those, but just a Dreamer.  Time will tell.