Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dawn Horner's Berry Vine Pendant

I received a lovely email today from Dawn Horner who participated in Amy Kuczewski's monthly blog challenge. Dawn used Amy's lampwork bead to create the Berry Vine pendant you can find in my book or in the most recent issue of Wirework magazine. What a treat to see her beautiful work...thought you'd like to see it too!

Dawn's work can be seen at
Amy's blog is located at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Summer...Come Back!

This summer went by soooo fast. I think its because 1) Gwen was home from school, 2) there was lots of travelling, and 3) here in Seattle, the sun was out maybe a total of 15 days! Each of these deserve their own lets start with Gwen.

What can I say about my sweet, smart little girl that fits in a short blog? Gwen finished kindergarten in June and I did the classic "kindergarten mom" mistake of not signing up for camps early enough. So, when we were not travelling (that blog to come later ), we were here at home. I love to spy on my daughter. Yep, I can admit that now because she is not 15 (I'll still spy on her then, I just won't admit it to you). She gets up most morning at 7am, a full 30 minutes before the rest of us, and acts out very detailed and dramatic stories in the living room. My husband is still getting a finger wagging for letting them watch Star wars (except the last one, or the third one...whatever you want to consider it) while I was at the Bead and Button show in June.

When she is not acting out stories of pricesses and wookies, she is drawing. The interesting thing to me is that she draws clothing...lots and lots of dresses. We have dresses cut out and taped all over the house, stapled books full of dresses and even one life sized paper dress she made for me. I have to admit, I've let her watch Project Runway with me a few times, and perhaps this is her catalyst. But regardless...I love it. At some point, I plan on turning some of her designs into pendants, in either Faux Bone, metal or maybe I thought you might get a kick out of seeing some of me dear daughter's work. She inspires me...

Creating Recklessly Part II - What Do I Write?

July 2011 - I ask the question, "what do I write" not because I have no idea what to write here (we'll that's not true, I don't know what I am going to write specifically...truth be told I just dive in and hope it makes sense when it is done), it was a question I asked myself in a panicked moment last week.

I stopped by one of my local bead stores, Beads and Beyond, to pick up a missing piece to a birthday gift. As you can imagine, having owned a bead shop for 7 years, I have A LOT of beads. And having a 6-year-old daughter, you can imagine, I have A LOT of birthday parties to go to. So right now, the stars are aligned. Little girls like little beads, so I'm golden for a few more years, or at least until my son starts school.

So there I was, standing in the store and a darling friend of mine (and well-loved instructor there) says, "Hey! We got your book in, sign them all." I have to say, at that moment, I was flattered. It was the first time I had seen my book in a store. Their lovely employees had looked at it the night before and were asking questions. Just when the "warm and fuzzies" came over me...I panicked. WHAT DO I WRITE?

I had to think quick. In the car, I had a husband, 2 kids and our brand new dog Sunny (who could be the subject of an entire blog in itself) and we were all on our way for a quick picnic before the aforementioned birthday party pony extravaganza. Now, I have to admit, signing a book suddenly felt cheesy. I had to think about how to make it meaningful. If I just put my name, well...people might think I was phoning it in (if that makes sense). If I put what I was thinking ("OMG, I can't believe you are buying my book and want me to sign it, thank you, thank you! Forever grateful, Melissa Cable") well, that had a desperate, perhaps not so confident tone to it. So perhaps I should pass along some wisdom? I had none...every ounce of wisdom had been squeezed out of me just in writing the book! Perhaps something funny. Well, I'm not that clever on the fly.

I glanced nervously down at my phone, surprised to see only a minute had passed. And then I saw Facebook page. I remembered spending a great deal of time deciding what I was going to write in that little box they title "About." I wrote "Create recklessly, teach thoughtfully." And there it was. "Create recklessly!" THAT is what I would write.

So I am telling you this story for two reasons (When blogging, I am not known for my brevity, so hang in there with me). First, if you happen to pick up a book I've signed, now you will know how much thought actually went into what I wrote. Second, it allows me to explain what I mean by "create recklessly"...which is something I had promised to do in one of my very first blogs, but then got sidetracked by a Butter Chicken recipe....mmmmm, Butter Chicken....

I had come across a definition of reckless while I was writing the book. I was trying to explain why I had broken 5 pasta machines in my pursuit of creating my "poor-man's rolling mill" technique. The definition read: "utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action." I remembered it made me laugh. This is exactly how I create. I rarely create a new project or technique by methodically performing a series of actions that result in a planned outcome. I WANT my actions to have consequences that I don't expect. I like the challenge of seeing what unexpected things happens when I push a material or tool beyond what it is "supposed" to do. This, I might add, is quite contrary to the way in which I live my everyday life. I didn't get my first traffic ticket until I was nearly 40, I don't talk on my cell phone at the gas pump because I am sure it will blow me up (the sign says so), and I have disaster kits in all my cars and at both exits to my home. Yeah, I've been a rule follower most of my life.

But maybe that's what "creating" is about for many of us...pushing ourselves to do something outside of our normal sensibilities. So for me, that's allowing myself to be a little reckless. For you? Maybe its using color when you usually prefer black and brown. Or maybe it means using an alternative material when you are used to working with only metal. Each and every one of us will have a different definition of "reckless." So go ahead, define what reckless creation means to you...and then do it! You might be surprised where it takes you.

Meet my New Friends...

May 2011 - I just finished up the last class in my Faux Bone series at the Ranch and am completely reenergized! What an amazing bunch of students I had over the three weeks. I was thrilled to let them play with the new Faux Bone strips, which have really started to take on a personality of their own

The 2mm strip is a little shy. She shrinks away into the background thinking no one can see her a wallflower if you want. But when she surrounds herself with friends, she takes on a whole new life. In that environment, she's bold and complex and makes a real statement.

The 3mm strip is completely a Type A personality. She wants to work, work, work but has to learn to sometimes take a back seat to the 2mm strip and that, well, kinda pisses her off. But she knows better than to take over. She gives up just enough control, allowing herself to work with those around her...and, as a result, manages to shine in the end.

The 7m strip is that reliable friend who you can always turn to. Selfless almost. Flexible. Consistent. Strong. You want to be around her.

The 9mm strip, frankly, is a bit conceited...likes to take over the show. And that's just fine. Finished nicely with a texture and beautiful ink treatment, she deserves to be the star. So, I let her occasionally. But I put her back in her place now and then, just for my own sanity.

So there you are. Meet the Faux Bone strips. They've been my friends for almost year now and I'm happy to finally introduce them to you. So, where can you meet them in person, you might ask?

Join Robert Dancik, founder of Faux Bone, and I next Saturday, May 14th at Fusion Beads in Seattle, WA for a Faux Bone demo, which will include an introduction to these lovely ladies. Learn to work with their cousins, the Faux Bone sheets, shapes and bracelet and ring blanks as we explore the basics of working with this innovative, fun and flexible artist material. Fusion Beads will be carrying the entire Faux Bone line in their store, so if you are in the Seattle area, this is a great opportunity to play with something fairly new that I know you are going to love!

And no, I haven't gone crazy. I have real friends. Just yesterday I got hammered with my friend Fretz...

(If you aren't familiar with the Fretz brand of jewelry hammers be sure to check them out at Fusion Beads, which carries the hammers both online and in store.)

Time of My Life...from Snohomish to Mexico

April 2011 - Last month I had the pleasure to teach my favorite new class, Time of My Life, at the Ranch Center for Arts & Craft. I was so lucky to have a group of amazingly talented folks! I walked away so inspired by how they personalized their pieces, and the stories they told with their work. Lets take a look...

Corinna Van Kleeck
Tawna Wilsey - Side 1

Nicola Leonard-Beeson
Nicola as a borg! ; )

Tawna Wilsey Side 2

Many people included pieces from their own personal collections. A dog's tooth, sand from a favorite river, a cherished button...treasured trinkets were locked in perpetuity. The topic of "collections" will be the inspiration for a new class I am excited to announce.

Join Robert Dancik, founder of Faux Bone, and I next year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at Hacienda Mosaico for "Collections: Adored and Adorned" from February 19 to 25, 2012. I'm thrilled to have a chance to teach with my mentor, Robert Dancik. As much as I look forward to teaching and sharing with my students, I know I will also walk away having learned much from this seasoned professional. Here is an excerpt from the class description:

"A piece of beach glass. A coin from an exotic locale. Rocks collected from a river’s edge and sand gathered from an ocean’s shore. An old photo, a good luck charm, a memento of a memory…these make a collection.

Our lives are filled with those things we collect, whether consciously or unconsciously. In this class we’ll explore ways to turn these adored collections into adornments. Using items you bring from home, those gathered on your trip to Mexico, or odds and ends provided from the instructors, you’ll concept and construct multiple pieces of jewelry that showcase those things that you hold dear.

We’ll work with metals, plastics, Faux Bone, polymer clay, concrete, epoxy, resins, hardware, paints, inks and other materials. We’ll cover the basics such as sawing, filing, sanding, riveting, texturing and piercing and the not-so-basics, such as inlays, hinges, basic fold-forming, metal and polymer clay. You’ll learn to let your collection guide the concept, letting them choose the materials and techniques that best represent their essence.

This class is appropriate for all levels. Price is $1,500 (excluding air) and includes lodging, breakfast, lunch, instruction and some supplies. A complete supply list will be sent prior to the class. Visit Hacienda Mosaico for registration information."

I hope you can join us! But until then, I have some classes coming up that I'd love to see you in. This month and next, join me at The Ranch Center for Arts and Craft to learn three different ways to work with Faux Bone(TM) strips. In these classes, students will learn a specific technique, but have the flexibility to create a project of their own, or the instructor's design. Wednesday evening (6-9pm) classes include "Rippled" (April 13), "Wrapped" (April 27) and "Tangled" (May 4). Classes are $50 when purchased in a series of 3. See the class flyer for more information.

I have Sharpies and know how to use them...

April 2011 - As promised, here are the final copper etched pieces from the kindergartners at my daughter's elementary school. The kids did a fantastic job drawing with Sharpies on copper and I had great fun etching and mounting them. Thanks to Randi and Binky at TheRanch Center for Arts and Craft for painting the boards for me. They'll be auctioned off next month to raise money for PTA programs, including art...and if I have my way, one of them will make its way back to my studio!

Great job kids!

Long Awaited UPS Delivery

Feb 2011 - Alright, I'm giddy.

My first shipment of Faux Bone strip has arrived!!! No more hand cutting sheets, resulting in aching wrists and blistered palms... I can now play to my heart's content. The good folks at Crackerdog Designs were kind enough to work with me to have their great product cut into 2 foot long sections of 2mm, 3mm, 7mm and 9mm strips. They will be available to everyone on our websites in the next few months. I finally had a chance to sit down and work with it last night. I've been concepting a series of rings in my head and they've been screaming to get out. I've pictured the first one here.

The geode fragment came from a local store call Jerry's Rock and Gem in Kent, WA. I went down there a few weeks ago with the idea that I'd just pickup a few things to play with...2 hours later (with a 3-year-old I might add), and I have a pile of rocks and crystal fragments that will hopefully make it into rings over the next few weeks. Aiden, my son, was a gem himself. After getting over his initial excitement of seeing rocks and fossils, he sat quietly next to me playing Angry Birds on my phone. He got to pick out a rock for behaving so well and he looks for it almost everyday so he can keep it in his pocket.

Already down south, I made a side trip to IKEA, where for the first time in many years i didn't walk out of the "As-Is" furniture section with some piece of furniture I didn't need. Then, I headed to Fry's Electronics, where I bought a random assortment of computer parts, colored zip ties, and shrink tubing. I already have a bracelet in the works using the zip ties...more on that next time! But of course, those were not the reason I went to Fry's. I had to buy some Ferric Chloride to do some copper etching. My daughter's elementary school is having an auction and I had all the kids draw pictures on copper squares which I will etch and frame. Twenty four kids with Sharpie markers sent fear through me, but in the end it was great fun and the kids did a fantastic job. I'll post the final piece when it is done.

And this brings me to teachers. Having had a chance to see my daughter's teacher in action several times now, I am in awe of her. She spends all day interacting with the kids and works hard to create a calm, nurturing, creative yet structured environment that allow the kids to learn. Yet, every week, we get a long email newsletter and attached to it are flash cards, wave files of her singing songs the kids are learning in Spanish, pictures of some of the kids work, and detailed plans for what is coming up. When does she do this? I have a feeling much of it is done on her own time.

I'll be honest. I don't think I "got it" until now, having had no kids in school. But now that I "get it" I hope I can find a way to let her know how much we appreciate her... at least until Hallmark invents a thank you note that comes with a gift card for 2 extra hours a day.

Negative 5 Degrees...But Still Positive Baby!

Jan 2011 - Alright, I'm a West Coast girl...born in Orange County, CA and raised in Simi Valley, CA. I moved up to Washington State in 1997 and thought it was the coldest place on earth...that is until I went to Milwaukee last week.

I had the pleasure to visit with the folks at Kalmbach to see the layout of Spotlight on Wire and discuss the organization for my next book Metal Garden (expertly handled by editor extraordinaire Karin Buckingham). I was also thankful to have some time with Bill from their in-house photography department who is always generous in giving me advice when it comes to taking photos, and with Editors Jill and Hazel at Art Jewelry Magazine who gave me a tour of their studio and allowed me to partake in talking shop with them.

But my "cold weather" adventure really started in Kansas City, where I am pretty sure we were the last plane out of there. "How do you put chains on a plane," I wondered as we pulled out of the snow filled terminal. It didn't help that we de-iced and had anti-freeze dumped over us. The highlight was when the captain announced "we're going for it" and pulled out of the terminal like we were filmng a Bruce Willis film. Hmmm, it occurs to me that the Bruce Willis reference may date me. Let's move on.

But the real adventure started when I arrived in Milwaukee. There was a wind chill warning...a what? Wind chill warning? Apparently, the temperature would get down to -5 degrees! But, I was not deterred, I refused to miss the fun of walking through downtown Milwaukee, which I have come to love over the last 6 years on my visits to the Bead and Button Show. I stopped by my favorite places: The Milwaukee Public Market where I picked up spices and had an amazing Shrimp Po Boy sandwich, walked down to 3rd Ward Jewelry which along with my local gallery (Facere, here in Seattle) has the best selection of art jewelry I've ever seen, and finally a visit with Steven at Swag, who is the master of martinis. Yeah, it was cold. But there is something about Milwaukee that always warms my heart.

Creating Recklessly Part I: Butter Chicken...

Jan 2011 - So I promised my thoughts on creating recklessly, and while I plan to explain in Part II what I mean by this in regards to jewelry-making, in Part I I'd like to focus on cooking.

In my case, any attempt to cook is me creating recklessly...because my kitchen is always a wreck after I cook! But I love to cook, and with my kids getting older, I have finally found myself returning to this passion. One of my favorite recipes is Butter Chicken. If you are a fan of Indian Food, you will be familiar with the delicious, complex, deeply flavored tomato-based sauce that is laden with butter and cream and olive oil. I made it in this traditional way for many, many years after spending half a year perfecting my spice blend. But last year, after vowing to lose some weight before I turned 40 (and did I mention I had 2 kids over the last 5 years? OK, no more excuses...) I reworked this recipe and dramatically reduced the calories while retaining all of the flavor (and adding some healthy spinach). I've included the recipe below. If you enjoy it, World Spice in Pike's Place Market (206-682-7274) has my blend on file under my name and you can order it custom blended and ground by the pound.

A friend pointed out to me that the spice would be good in other dishes. I had never tried adding it to anything else, but recently, I was given a fabulous recipe for fish sausage and decided to throw the spice into that... randomly throwing a spice into $50 worth of seafood...reckless? Perhaps. But in this case, it turned out to be pure heaven. I've included that recipe below as well with my thanks to my friends who are always willing to share their favorite dishes! Bon Apetit!

Butter Chicken Spice Blend

Blend and grind the following together:
3 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
1/4tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Butter Chicken

2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
Spice blend (if you buy it already blended from World Spice, use 2.5 to 3 Tablespoons (the more, the spicier it gets)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted)
1 small container of plain yogurt
2 chicken breasts, raw, diced
2 cups (or more) baby spinach, raw

Saute onion in the butter and olive oil until transparent, I like to caramelize them a bit if I have time. Blend the spices, tomatoes and yogurt in a blender until smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the sauce into the pan with the onions and stir until the onions/butter/oil is incorporated into the sauce. Add the raw chicken and simmer until the chicken is cooked thoroughly (15-20 minutes). Add the spinach and cook just until wilted, stirring it into the sauce. If the sauce gets to thin as a result of the water from the spinach, simmer it down a bit and it will thicken. Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro.

Seafood Sausage

.25 to .4 pounds each of:
-Peeled and deveined shrimp
-Dungeness crab
-and 4 large scallops

2 Tbsp butter chicken spice
1 egg
3/4 cup to 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp sea salt (my favorite chef, Jerry Traunfeld here at Poppy in Seattle, swears by Portuguese Cream Sea Salt...and now I do too! Find it at
For spicier sausage add 1/2 tsp harissa or 1/4 tsp of cayenne

Dice all of the seafood and place it, the spices, egg and bread crumbs in a food processor and blend it. It should be fairly smooth, but still have some texture. Take a handful and roll it into a sausage shape with your hands, and then roll that tightly in saran wrap until it is sealed. I usually get between 5 and 6 rolls. Boil a pot of water and drop the rolls into the water. Boil for 10 minutes or until the sausage has set. Unwrap each sausage and slice it. I put the slices in baggies and freeze them for future meals. My favorite way to eat these is to saute red peppers and zucchini in olive oil, then sautee the sausage until warmed and just slightly browned and serve over rice.

Would love to hear how YOU serve this fabulous dish!

1218 photos later...

Nov 2011 - Over one thousand process shots later (edited down to 336 photos) and my first book is done!

Spotlight on Wire, being published by Kalmbach Publishing next year, was sent to the publisher last week and I took a big sigh of relief...and then promptly got sick. I'm suprised Pam and Corinna didn't get sick as well as they spent many late nights in my basement shooting photos...but their projects are gorgeous, I can't wait for you to see them! It never ceases to amaze me how our bodies know when we can't be sick. Its as if your body is saying, "I'm gonna let you slide by this time, but when you relax, I'm getting payback." Well, payback has hit our household and all of us spent the weekend being sick. But Gwen did enjoy having her first sick day home from school. And loves me both for having my groceries delivered and for all the online shopping I did from bed.

Among the items I purchased...Foldforming by Charles Lewton-Brian. My second book from Kalmbach, Metal Garden, is slated to publish in 2012 and I look forward to playing with foldforming techniques and perhaps use them to create new flowers for this book. Other jewelry-related items I have been enjoying...Tim McCreights new Metalsmith Suite app for the iphone. I refer to it often as I am working. It has great conversion charts and other references that make your bench work easier. Its available in the App Store, check it out! Finally, I had the pleasure of listening to Tim talk about the new PMC Pro on Craftcast. I'm curious about this new product. It is only 90% silver, so there is much debate on whether this devalues the work that is made with it. But I tend to disagree. Most people recognize the passion and inspiration that goes into handcrafted items, and appreciate those items for their uniqueness...I can't imagine someone thinking..."well, if it only had 2.5% more silver in it, THEN I'd buy it." And if you do ever hear that, please don't tell me. I may lose faith in humanity at that point! But the take-away - its the strongest silver clay out there, it can be combined with PMC3 and PMC+, and while it may not be for everyone, when a design calls for the type of strength it offers, we now have that resource available...and afterall, isn't that what it's all about...the availability of materials to combine as we like.

Speaking of materials...since I closed the shop, my work has taken a dramatic shift. My past students know me for my designs using metal, especially strip wires and discs. But these days, I am obsessed withFaux Bone. This material is similar to PVC, but has a different formula that makes it non-toxic when heated...and why would I heat it? Well, that's the beauty of Faux Bone. Using a simple heat gun you can shape this material into whatever your heart desires. I've been cutting strips of it and have learned ways to tangle it into beads and vines. Combined with methods for texturing and coloring it, you can really create...well...just about anything. I guess you can say I like the control...and its inexpensive...and its strong...and...and...! I will teach four of my Faux Flora designs at the Bead and Button Show next year and have placed photos in the catalog on my website. One of my newer designs, untitled at this point, is posted here. I'm eager to start teaching these classes locally and will email you when I have something scheduled.

Finally, a big congratulations to beadclub former staff member Sheri Caruso who will have one of her projects featured in Beadwork next year! She will be teaching a class at Fusion Beads in the new year. If you haven't taken a class from her, well, you've missed out. She is, sincerely, one of the most patient, talented instructors I know. Her bead stitches are impeccable and she has such a wealth of knowledge to share with her students. Be sure to check her out. I'll be at The Ranch this month teaching the Rippled Bangle and Metal Flowers. I taught my first class there last week, and boy, did I forget just how much I love teaching! Check the dates for my next classes in the catalog...I'd love to catch up with some familiar faces.

Next time...reckless creation...I have a theory...

A New Chapter Begins

September 2, 2010

It was a mere 2 days ago that I stood in an empty storefront and looked around at the cold, vacant space that was once beadclub. I decided to take one last walk around, taking in the little details that were part of my life over the last 7 years...the double french glass doors on the classroom that allowed customers to sneak a peak at the fun things we were doing in there, the lit soffits that illuminated the walls of glass, seed, semi-precious and pearl beads, the mens bathroom which we promptly turned into a storage room (sorry guys...). I opened the classroom doors and memories flooded my mind, and I felt like I was in a cheesy Lifetime movie as the montage of experiences flashed in front of me: "bead and feeds" that lasted until 2am, birthday parties for 6 year olds, wire wrapping classes which ultimately addicted new beaders to our art...and in all honesty, for the first time in the last few months...I realized what I was going to miss.

You see, I've been so excited to start this next chapter of my life. Balancing running a retail store, being a mother of two young children, and satisfying my desire to explore and create and teach has been a tricky thing. And with my mother (who ran the shop) retiring, it was clear that it was only going to get harder. So as many of my family, friends and customers experienced, I practically jumped for joy when I told people I was closing the shop. And while I will never regret that decision, today I sit here with a little more respect. You see, I didn't just close my business...I closed a place where people gathered and learned, created new friendships and laughed, celebrated and sometimes mourned. A place where people let me live my dream for 7 years. And so, humbled, I send all of you my thanks for being part of my life and my thanks for letting us be part of yours. I look forward to continuing our relationship as beadclub evolves into its next form...

Which brings me to this website...combining a little bit of me with a little bit of beadclub, and hopefully over time, a little bit of you (in the form of student work to be posted on this blog). I am excited to announce I will start teaching again locally at The Ranch Center for Arts and Craft in Snohomish. This place has been close to my heart for the last few years. It 's the place I go to retreat and learn new things. The Ranch and its owner, Randi Harper, is not only committed to teaching the arts, but to serving people in many, many ways...and for that, it has my utmost respect. I am proud to call it one of my new "homes."

I am also thrilled to announce that my first book, tentatively entitled "Spotlight on Wire," will be coming out next year. It is being released by Kalmbach (publishers of Bead & Button, Art Jewelry and Beadstyle). I am pleased to include projects from some of my former instructors, including Pam Brown and Corinna VanKleeck.

And that brings me to the staff of beadclub. No business owner could ever hope for more when it came to our staff. Not only were they talented, loyal and trustworthy...I count them as my tired friends, of course...everyone worked their bums off packing up the shop this last week! I can't thank you girls know I love you all, dearly, and look forward to our next adventures together.

So, a closing toast to beadclub. A great 7 years was had by all. And today, a new chapter begins and I look forward to seeing how the story progresses!