Friday, December 18, 2009

Use the Muse Contest

The Big Reveal (the focal piece) has been revealed, and if you click on the link it will take you to the winners and galleries of submissions. My piece is above, it is a large (very large) brooch, which, alas, did not win any category, but was a lot of fun to make. There is a lot of fantastic bead work and artistry to see. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


For the last few days we've been getting snow flurries, although they haven't added up to anything. A tradition in my bead group is to make a snowflake in December. My snowflake is designed by Sandra Halpenny. I made it yellow and white, with gold firepolish beads so it would be bright and cheery. I have 3 snowflakes from previous years, maybe I'll take them down and photo them to post here. Also, on the day we make the snowflakes, people bring in treats to share, a cheese ball and crackers, candy, lemon cake...and we have a delightful afternoon before breaking for the holidays.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter is Here

There are two leaf pick-ups in Ann Arbor in the fall. Everyone rakes their leaves into the road and you can barely drive. Here is a pile of the leaves that the city trucks have picked up from our street. This was just a few weeks ago, and now the leaves are gone, and the snowflakes are coming down.

I am working extra hard not to be depressed with this transition in seasons. The gray skies really get me down. I already took one trip to AZ, where my family lives, for some sunshine. Over the years I have realized that taking a trip in November and February/March to a sunny climate really helps. It would even help if Michigan winters had some sun, because the temperature is not the issue, it's the sky. Expect to see some bjp on this, whose next season is coming up in January.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bead Inspired

Above, bracelets without clasps.

I made this bracelet for my mother years ago. The plastic snaps have broken and the color on the leaves has faded off.

A pathetic snowflake and a herringbone experiment.

Thought I could make something out of this, but am now stuck on how to finish.

I don't believe this bracelet is supposed to twist and turn. In fact, it's supposed to lay nicely on your wrist with a bit of a curl, just a bit.

My tension is way off on the bracelet above. It's supposed to be flat and the herringbone is supposed to look braided. In fact, the thread snapped at one point.

This is supposed to be diagonal square stitch that automatically curls. Mine is straight as can be.

A peyote freeform idea for a bracelet. I just don't like it.

The title of my blog is "Bead Inspired," but lately I haven't had much inspiration. I've been working on a lot of various projects and am unhappy with most of them. Sometimes I have high expectations of how something will turn out, and I'm pretty disappointed when it doesn't. Depending on the project, I will pursue it further, or I may just throw it in one of my unfinished project bins.

One thing I am frustrated with this blog is that the pictures always are above my writing. I have no idea how to start writing above the pictures, even if I write first. So I always feel that I am going back in time, rather than moving forward.

With no further ado, I present a series of unfinished projects, above.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Use the Muse Contest

I don't know if we can show the "Muse" yet for the contest, so I'll show part of my project. This is only the top half of the piece. I bead embroidered on stiff stuff and then attached it to wool felt. For this contest I felt freer to use beads that were not in the kit, such as the yellow beads. The colors in the kit are not ones I would normally choose (actually, I would never choose them), so for me the challenge was two-fold, designing a piece for the contest, and using colors outside my normal palette.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photo Thursday

There is a very nice group called Photo Thursday. Every Thursday a theme is suggested and people take photos related to the theme. Todays theme was Simple. There were photos of rocks in water, sunrises, a meadow, a boat on a lake. It's very fun to browse through these pictures. I haven't joined (yet) but I'm thinking about it. It's another way to see the world, literally, as people on the group come from all over.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rotating Jewelry

I remember when my kids were young, we would rotate toys and books, so that just when the kids started to get bored, you could take a new group of items out and it would be like they were brand new. I had the idea to do that with my jewelry. I simply have too much, and I don't see it anymore. However, when I started sorting it out, I realized that I really do have too much-lots of class pieces, lots of pieces from magazines, or my exploration of a stitch. There are some beautiful pieces, as well as items I just don't like anymore, or that never quite fit right, or the color combos don't work.

Then I had a realization - the jewelry represents my learning curve in beading. I put almost all of it in bins, just kept a few pieces out that I really like. At first I was really depressed, because the jewelry represents years of work. Then I felt a sense of exhilaration, like I was ready to move on and develop my own style. It was a sense that now I can move into a different stage, using what I've learned, but making it mine. I've wanted to do this for a while but have been held back by fears - I'm not good enough, I can't design, I'm not really an artist - you know, all those stupid things our censor tells us. Well, I'm going to just swat that censor away and plow ahead.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bead Retreat

My beading group's annual bead retreat was this past weekend. We had a wonderful time. For the last few years we have made our hostess, Donna, a gift. This year it was a denim jacket that we all took turns making bead embroidered flowers. Above you can see the back of the jacket.

Below is a detail from the left side of the jacket.

Another view of detail from the right side of the jacket.

Yes, it really is a bead retreat! Here are Donna, Kathie, and Hollie.

Laura made a beautiful freeform bracelet for her daughter.

One of the beading tables. A beadiful mess!
Everyone always brings more beads and projects than we can possibly do, but we are always so optimistic. I pulled all my beads out of the bags I brought up but haven't sorted through them yet - still want to hang on to the good feeling of spending time with friends, beading all day, staying up late talking, and just having a grand time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bead Journal Registration

Tomorrow is a big day. Besides the fact that I leave for my annual bead retreat with my bead group, REGISTRATION starts for the Bead Journal Project!!! Click on Registration to take you to the page to sign up. The project will start January 1, 2010. You've seen my bead pages, so hopefully you have an idea of the possibilities. If you want to see more examples, go to the gallery.

The Bead Journal Project is one of the nicest groups of people around. Everyone is friendly, helpful, supportive. The scope of topics that people bead about can be simple or profound, but the all reflect life, our lives, and because of that the meaning of the pages touches us all.

Come join us for friendship, beading, journaling, and more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Bracelets

I have new bracelets to share today. Above is the detail of the clasp from Marcia DeCoster's Rio Dulce bracelet. I started this one on the bead cruise last year and just finished it.....

Below is a crystal bracelet that I found in Bead and Button magazine from August 2009.

And the third bracelet is from a pattern from Bead Infinitum for a fringe bead, which I have strung with crystals and a rondelle.

Earlier today I met with a friend from high school - Harold, if you're reading this, I had a great visit. It was so nice to catch up and see how the years have treated us over time. I find that life, rather than being a horizontal path, is more like a spiral. It goes round, down, up, around again, it is circular, starting and stopping at different points. And, even with the down times, it is worth every minute, because it is what we have, and it is who we are.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shana Tova

To all my friends, best wishes for for a happy, healthy, and sweet Rosh Hashana.

As I heard the announcer from the football stadium say today, you couldn't have painted a nicer day, and it's true. Today was the perfect day for the start of the new year, blue skies, slight wind, low 70s, the leaves starting to change colors. A time of transition, a time to reflect, a time to think about our place in the world, and how we can make it a safer and more peaceful place. Between memory and hope, the new year begins.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BJP Year 3

The Bead Journal Project is going to have year 3 starting in January, 2010!!!

To register, go to

To see what participants have done, go to the member's gallery

No experience is necessary! Anyone can join as long as you create one visual journal piece each month that uses beads. You can also use other materials - fibers, quilting, collage, buttons, whatever appeals to you.

Come join us and embark on your own journaling experience.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

August BJP Done!

Here is my last month of the BJP project, Hope. Hope is what keeps you going when all other avenues seem shut off. Hope is wishing to stay alive long enough to see your children grow up. Hope is wishing not for a cure, but for treatment that will keep you comfortable and functional. Hope changes constantly, but it never gives up.

Ann drove a 10 year old car 30 miles each way to dialysis because she believed that the director of the program had saved her life (this was a common belief of many patients, I learned). She raised 3 children, who were her pride and joy, and cleaned houses to earn money. Ann was the most generous person I ever met. She would stop if she saw a homeless person to make sure they got a meal or had a blanket. She had next to nothing herself, but she always considered herself more fortunate than others.

Ann had 2 sons and a daughter, Maria. Her hope was to see them graduate first high school and then college. At the time I met Ann, her daughter, Maria, was a college freshman. She often came over from her dorm to sit with her mother for the 3 hours of dialysis. I watched Maria grow up to be a lovely young woman, and I was privileged to be at her wedding and to share in the joy when her 2 daughters were born.

Faith was another dialysis patient whom I bonded with. She worked at the university, although it became increasingly more difficult to do so over the years. We used to have such lively conversations about anything and everything and we both shared a love of crafts.

Ann and Faith both died from health complications. Maria died when she was 32 from an aneurism caused by her kidney disease. A mariachi band played at her funeral. It's hard to be sad when a mariachi band plays, but it was also hard to be happy knowing she was so young and that her 2 children, who were her pride and joy, may never remember her.

From these incredible women, Ann, Maria, and Faith, I learned to never give up hope, and that while hope changes all the time, there is always something new to hope for.

(Thank you to Susan E. for blogging in a style that I have borrowed for this entry. You are an inspiration!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us!

Today is our 28th wedding anniversary. And it may also be the 30th anniversary of the day we met. Dennis and I were both graduate students at the University of Michigan and lived in apartments next to each other. The rest is history. And we've come full circle, beginning in Ann Arbor, moving to Boston, then Florida, and back to Ann Arbor. We're happy here, raised the kids here, and hope to be here many more years.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Football Saturday

Today is the first home game for the University of Michigan, the first game of the season. It's only 9:30 am and I can hear the band practicing. It'll be a beautiful day for a game........however, Michigan is coming off it's worst season ever last year, so we have to wait and see how they'll do this year.

On football Saturdays, as I call them, I can't get out of my neighborhood when traffic is coming or leaving for the game, which is many hours of the day. Even though there's a traffic light at one end of the neighborhood, football fans think they don't have to actually stop at a red light. That is football in Ann Arbor. Shops close downtown, RV's park at the high school, tailgating starts first thing in the morning. Flags wave as the cars stream into town. Everyone is wearing maize and blue (unless they're from MSU - green, or Ohio State - red) and the town becomes one crazed football party.

So I put the radio on to listen to the game, open the living room window, and sit with my beading tray on my lap, enjoying the fall day, the cheers from the stadium, and my shiny little beads!

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Final "Firing" Poem

The following poem is the final piece of what I call my Firing Trilogy - My Vein of Gold mandala, The Door poem, and this, Rainbow. They were part of my healing process and were important when I had a trial against my former employer. I used them to buffer the onslaught of negativity that comes with a trial, mainly an effort to destroy me as an individual and social worker. It took years of hard work to put things in perspective and move on. You may think that by revisiting this time in my life I am going backward, but actually it feels like I am creating the base for how I became a bead artist. I truly feel that sometimes profound events have to happen in our lives to wake us up and embrace what it is we truly want.


On a Sunday night I saw a beautiful rainbow over the autumn foliage at Gallup Park.

The sky was black, and from a break in the clouds the sun was shining just so it hit the tops of the trees, magnifying each hue of orange, red, and magenta of the changing leaves.

I have never seen anything like it before, the black of the sky, the brilliance of the leaves.
It was truly magnificent. It was like a message was being sent:

There is beauty in life even with change and loss.
From pain can come new energy and appreciation for the things that matter.
An ending can become a beginning, a time for growth.
The loss of old dreams can be replaced with new ones.

We don't always know what the challenges in life are going to be, there's not a script we can always follow. Our lives are constantly being rewritten and revised.

Perhaps the real challenge is to grasp the rainbow when we see it.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I bought a new issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry today. One of the featured artists' is Lori Wilkes.
As I was looking through her Web site, she had a section of pieces called Metaphoric Doors. She writes beautifully about doors (her doors are beautiful also), and I quote her:

"Doors are a perfect metaphor for change. Like chapters in a book, they provide us with fresh beginnings and intriguing endings. They swing open to future possibilities and close quietly on past (and sometimes painful) experiences. Doors can protect us, entice us, mystify us and make us pause. It's amazing how much of our lives are lived between the opening and closing of doors."

After posting my poem on doors earlier today, and then reading this, I feel like there is some kind of synchronicity. I feel there is a new door opening in my life, and have been feeling this way for a while. There is something awaiting me on a path that I have yet to explore, but am getting ready for. I am eagerly looking forward to the change!

The Clearing

In the summer of 1997 I went to a wonderful place called The Clearing, in Door County, Wisconsin. I took a class on journal writing taught by Darlene Cole, which was just lovely. Darlene was a person you felt comfortable with, and her suggestions for things to do with your journal widened my journaling experiences. The following poem came out of that week:

I was looking for an exit.
I tried the door, and found that
rather than opening out, it turned in,
and that is how I found myself.

By going inward, to the interior of myself,
I found what I had never lost
but had misplaced, forgotten, left unattended.
I began to recycle.

A mystery: Why did I leave myself at the roadside?
An answer: It remains unsolved.

The past is fertile ground for becoming whole.
A completeness nurtured by loss,
A compass guided by mourning,
A path that leads to my Self,
A greeting that beckons hello.

August, 1997, The Clearing

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Vein of Gold

Sometimes life throws us unexpected curves. On this day, August 23, 1996, I was fired from my job as a medical hospital social worker after a very traumatic event that involved the daughter of a patient and myself. My life changed forever on that day. I never truly recovered from being fired. I lost my desire to continue with social work, and I never found a replacement career.
What I did discover, though, was The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, a book that helped people recover their artistic creativity. I saw an ad for a session being held at the local art center a few weeks after I was fired. It was like a message was being sent to me that this was my next step.
The class lasted 12 weeks. It was my saving grace. Everything else in my life had crashed and burned.

After I finished The Artist's Way program, I signed up to do Julia's next book, the Vein of Gold. The above mandala reflects the influence of that process for me. I titled the mandala My Vein of Gold. It was the beginning of a new awakening of the artist I had always wanted to be. In a sense, social work is an art, because you are always looking for creative ways to help people. But it was an outward art, not an inner one. Now I was looking inward, exploring the call to art that had been with me since I was a child. This mandala reflects that experience. I remember it took me hours to draw and color. It was a healing process, a coming together of wholeness, and a vision of the future.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rug from New Orleans

I thought I was the only person who took pictures of hotel rugs, but I saw that Marcia DeCoster does also on her blog! Mine is from a hotel in New Orleans last winter.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Bracelets

A few new bracelets to show off! Above, a hugs and kisses bracelets with a beaded bead closure and siam 3mm crystals down the middle.

Below, the Razzle Dazzle Bracelet I mentioned in my last post.

Beading Chaos

Beading Chaos! When the boys are away, Susan makes a mess on the kitchen table. It's the only time I can really spread out. I can work on several projects at once and leave them overnight. Usually I have to clean everything up so there is room to eat! The bracelet on the mat is by Kim Stathis, called Razzle Dazzle bracelet. What a terrific design. In the upper photo, the beaded beads are a variation of the Spinning Top Bead from Bead Infinitum (it's a free pattern) and lots of fun to make.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Red Bracelet

Remember Wendy's wedding bracelet that I showed a while ago? Well, I made one in red, using an array of red and pink drop beads and a rainbow of red crystals. I love this bracelet!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Myth of Death Panels

The debate about the future of health care has taken an ugly turn. President Obama's attempt to provide health care to all Americans has been hijacked by protesters who fear death panels. The real issue, however, is that what people fear is death itself. No one likes to think of their own death. However, people die, for all sorts of reasons. In most cases, death is a process, and within that process, there is time to contemplate one's death, how one would want to die, and to learn how death occurs. Simply discussing death does not mean you are going to die. For many people, discussing the dying process helps take the fear away. It gives them time to determine what is important to them, what needs to be resolved before their death,and time to see family and friends.

When I was a renal social worker, advance directives were an integral part of the work that I did with dialysis patients. Having an advance directive gives people power and control over their death. It allows them to say what they want or don't want. The important thing about an advance directive is that it allows the person to have their wishes followed when they are no longer in a position to say what they want. I found that people welcomed the chance to express their feelings. An advance directive can be changed, so if a person changes their mind about an issue, the a.d. can reflect that change.

It is good to talk about death and dying. Dying is a part of living. How many times do you hear that a beloved grandparent has died just weeks before the arrival of a new baby? The circle of life is a beautiful one, and by talking about it and showing respect for the individual, we honor that person.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Big Reveal

I entered the Use the Muse contest hosted by Scarlett Lanson. Each participant purchased the same kit from Scarlett. The goal was to complete a piece of beading that was wearable in a relatively short time. Above is the front of my completed necklace.

Above is detail from the back of my necklace. Here's something really cool - I thought I made this photos smaller, but they keep uploading large. However, if you look into the shiny beads, you can see my shadow taking the photo! I am outside on our deck, and the house is behind me.

The photo above shows closer detail of the front.

I enjoyed designing a piece with a given set of materials. I was very fortunate to actually like the beads in the kit. I've done other projects where the beads are predetermined and have really disliked them. It's much harder to make something in that case.

I didn't win (I didn't expect to), but you should definitely check out the winners and look at the galleries of entrants There are a lot of wonderful pieces to look at.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

Congratulations to the new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor! May the pearls of wisdom learned by a wise Latina woman illuminate your way, and may your path be one of respect and justice for all citizens of our country.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jason's Home!!!

Yay! Jason is home after being away for more than 6 months in Israel. We are so happy to see him! I missed him so much, but was happy that he had such a great time and an experience he will never forget.

Giving him a big hug, hard to do when he's so tall!

Sam and Jason, mirror images.

Jason and Dennis. Look at those bedroom eyes on Jason. He came home, regaled us with stories over dinner, then he and Sam took off...that's how it goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July BJP

My beloved father died August 2, 1998, also the 10th day of Av, which is Tisha B'av, the commemoration of the destruction of the second temple, during which the Book of Lamentations is read. My father died at the age of 64 of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The day he died the Blue Angels flew over the house as part of the show at nearby Hanscom Airforce Base. It seemed a fitting tribute to my father.

My father became an avid birder in the last several years of his life. He and a pal enjoyed spending time going to the Audobon Sanctuary and other places and watching birds. It was a relaxing contrast to his normally busy work schedule and gave him a much needed respite.

In honor of my father, George A. Kolovson, I have made a mandala in memory of him for my July BJP. If you read my blog, you will know that a little while ago I posted a photo of a birdbath that I can see from my computer window. Initially I thought that the birdbath was what I was beading. But as I beaded, it became apparent that I was really beading memories of my father.

Below you can see a mandala I drew shortly after my father died. In keeping with his love of birds, my parents back yard was designed to attract as many different birds as possible.

This mandala was drawn the day before my father died. I was sitting on the front steps of my parents home and started this mandala. Initially it was part of their garden, but if you use your imagination you can also see that I incorporated an oceany feel, because my father also loved the beach.

I was fortunate to be at home when my father died. My father-in-law had just died 6 weeks previously. My husband and I were spending as much time as we could in Massachusetts, while the kids were at overnight camp back home in Michigan. It was a difficult summer. Both of us feel honored and saddened that we were with our father's when they died.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Necklaces Old and New

Nikia Angel, designer of the fabulous Sparkly Wheel, is writing a book about them. I've had the pleasure of meeting Nikia, and she brought a bag filled with what seemed like hundreds of Sparkly Wheels. The necklace above, and detail below, was one of my attempts at her wheel.

The necklace below is my "Beach Spiral." Knowing how much I like spirals by now, you should not be surprised that both the necklace above, which I probably made 7 or 8 years ago, and one I just finished, are spirals. The one below has fringe on it, with some sea shell-type beads and other sandy colored beads, plus a little pink and green.

Here's some detail. It's hard to photograph a spiral fringe necklace because the fringe doesn't lay flat, but that's part of what makes it interesting.