Sunday, December 26, 2010

new rug

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. I thought I'd do a post about a rug I finished a few weeks ago. I've been doing lots of these striped pieces lately (in fact I've just finished another one but don't have a picture yet. One thing that makes this one interesting is that it uses the same color progressions as the one I posted about a few months ago (September post), but in an entirely different way. The other one had a very regular progression--6" of red followed by 6" of red'orange, followed by 6" of orange and so on. It's the additon of the black design that makes it interesting. This one has just the color progression, but having the 2 sets of stripes alternating with each other and 2 colors in each stripe allows me to actually have 4 different color progressions going at the same time. It's kind of like a round in music. That makes me have to have a pattern that's very simple, and here it's continuous just like the color progressions. I've found, at the couple of shows this fall where I've shown my rugs, that I seem to get more compliments on the earlier one, but, while I like them both, I think this one is my personal favorite.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There's a better picture of my fullerene necklace on my etsy site at I meant to put it in the blog, but discovered I hadn't saved it properly at the time I did the earlier blog post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

fullerene jewelry and structures

Wow--The Japanese site with the fullerene structures has me off and running again. Alot of it is really cool but too big to work as jewelry (I'm tending to do this kind of work with 4 mm beads. Possibly with smaller beads...). I've come up with a structure, that you see in my green "jack" (as in ball and jacks) structure that is a bit smaller than what I see on the chemists' sites. Maybe it doesn't work as a carbon structure (I, of course, have no idea), but it creates a smaller tube and still has things coming off at right angles, which I find is a good structure to work with. Basically it's a tube that is 4 hexagons around. Theirs tend to be 5,6 or 8 around. Now to turn it into a jewelry form.
I've also included a picture of a "fullerene style" necklace I did recently. I've learned a bit since then, and there are a few things I'd do just a bit differently, but still I think it came out pretty well. One thing I've learned since I did this is that the chemists ussually form their tubes so that the hexagons have a straight edge paralleling the tube, but not one at right angles to it. I did the opposite on this one. I think you get a stiffer tube if you do it their way.
Anyway, I'm still scheming things, learning alot and having great fun. Are any of you who read this making structures like this?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More ping pong ball work. I was disappointed that my necklace form didn't get into the art to wear show. But after looking at it for a while, I decided that it was a bit plain. I made it with a continuous thread (yarn) just as you would in normal beading. By contrast, on most of my earlier pieces I had used short pieces of yarn that were tied together between each ball. This made for lots of color and texture to break up the balls. The problem was that I had made several pieces that involved 5-bead and 6-bead circles. When you make those sort of circles the beads pack close together and you don't really have room for a knot between each one. I managed to pull it off in the dodecahedron that's pictured, but when I tried a buckyball it wasn't firm enough and wanted to sag out of round. But, as any beader knows, when you make a circle of 3 or 4 beads you can see much more thread between the beads. That means you have room to put a knot between the beads for interest. So that's what I did for my wreath form, which is a variation on right angle weave, and so uses circles of 3 or 4 balls. I'll probably redo my buckyball with a continuous thread, and just add short bits of yarn to the finished sphere at the intersections so as not to compromise the structure. Who would have thought there was so much to learn from ping pong balls.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ping pong necklace

I thought since this piece is all about scale, it would make sense to add a picture of it on me, so I got my son to take this. Terrible picture, but it does the job.

ping pong ball necklace

I've had a fun day. A few weeks ago Florida Craftsmen sent out a call to artists for an Art to Wear show with a theme of unusual materials. Seemed like time to break out the ping pong balls. Most of the pieces I've made so far have been just 1 bead/ball thick, because otherwise the size seemed overwhelming. But that has meant that they were verging on not being firm enough. I did make one basket form that was thicker (made from ball tetrahedrons) and I thought it was a bit too thick for its overall size. I don't think it's on this blog, but if you want to take a look it's in my etsy Now I'm rethinking and I plan trying to add on to the outside to make the overall size more in line with the thickness.
Anyway, for the necklace, I knew I wanted it to be an actual 3-dimensional structure. I started making a string of RAW cubes, but that was really too big, so I switched to triangular sections, and liked that better. I tried other types of line, looking for something with a bit more bling, to make it seem like jewelry. Ultimately, I went back to the rug wool, though. It's really ideal, as it has enough cross section to fill up the holes in the balls (I drill 7/64" holes through the balls on a drill press) and yet it will compress to let me get multiple passes through a ball to create the structures. Also it's hairy enough that it creates friction so the thing doesn't loosen up if I don't keep it under tension.
After I got the main oval done I spent a long time figuring out now to embellish it on the bottom to make it more jewelry-ish. I tried adding some sparkly eyelash type thread, but they didn't fit with the scale. Then I tried it again with other colors of wool and still wasn't happy. Finally I came up with the dangly structure hanging from the center, and I really liked that. It's so very jewelry-ish to have a dangly thing hanging down, and yet the scale matches the rest of the necklace.
Anyway, I submitted it, and I really like it, although once again my family thinks I've lost my mind. I should mention that in the prospectus they had a great picture of a necklace made out of lego blocks, so I'm not totally out of their realm. And it was great fun, whether I get in the show or not.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I'm working again with symmetry and asymmetry. I got some long black beads, and wanted to make a big chunky black necklace. My plan was a simple chain of octahedrons, mostly end to end, but with hard corners to create the circle you need for a necklace. It was the picture on the left (sorry for the blurry image). I was almost ready start working on the clasp, and I liked the piece alot. Just the size and blackness gave it enough drama, I thought. Then I got talking with a friend (thank you, Connie), and she told me how much she liked my asymmetrical work, so I started playing with the piece in front of a mirror. I ended up lengthening one side alot to the the piece on the left, and I think it's a big improvement. I'm still playing with the clasp a little, which is why you may see some monofilament in the picture.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I've just finished a book I really liked--Conversations with Frank Gehry. I've never thought of myself as a big Frank Gehry fan; I'm a bit too buttoned down for some of his work. In fact I've attached a picture of my latest necklace, which illustrates my buttoned-down-ness pretty well. But the book made me take another look and I found that I really liked alot of his buildings, particularly the somewhat more restrained ones. He told about his creative process and how his ideas unfold that was really interesting, and relates to all sorts of creative work. I've just put the Frank Gehry documentary on my Netflix queue, so I'll be seeing some more of the same.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

new rug

I thought since I'd posted my dyed wool yarn, I'd post the rug that I wove from it. I thought the colors came out great, and the design was kept simple so as not to get in the way of the colors. I have enough yarn left for 1 or 2 more rugs using this color progression.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

seed beads

I've sort of surprised myself by going back to doing alot of seed bead work. 6 months or so ago, I was doing lots of pieces using long beads--copper, glass, and stone ones. I liked that alot, and I'm still doing it. I particularly like it because the long beads show the geometry of the structures better than seed beads do. But I've gotten bothered by how much you're at the mercy of just what beads you can find. For example, I did several pieces using a mix of copper oval and tube beads. I was working on another when I got my next shipment from Fire Mountain Gems. This time the oval beads, which are listed as 4x9 mm, were noticeably smaller, and with a much smaller hole, making it hard to make the many passes through the hole that are sometimes needed. The earlier beads were actually longer than 9mm, and these were less than 9mm. Probably the earlier ones would round down to 9 mm and the new ones would round up to that, but they were clearly different. This isn't a criticism of Fire Mountain Gems, it's just that it messed me up. Other people sell 4x9 copper ovals, but there's no way of knowing if they're more like the earlier ones or the later ones. I had to take apart an unfinished necklace, so that I could mix up the larger and smaller beads so as to make the difference unnoticeable (actually, I still haven't finished the piece). Anyway, it irked me to be so dependant on the materials. As another example, I've done quite a bit with some glass tube beads around 14 mm long. I've gotten them from shipwreck. Now they're on sale, and I wonder if my source is about to dry up. You can always find seed beads, and RAW and similar weaves are endlessly variable. Anyway, some seed bead ideas have been percolating while I was working with the larger beads, so now I'm back to the little ones.

Monday, August 16, 2010

dying yarn

I haven't talked much so far about my rugweaving. My rugs are all about color. More so than the beadwork, because with my wool yarn I can dye my own colors. Last week I did one of my larger dye runs. It started with a page that I clipped out of the Company Store catalog quite a while ago. It showed cotton blankets in a range of colors. I liked that the colors were lively, but still a bit muted. The orange is sort of a spice color, the red is softened, etc. I've done alot of rugs with color progressions, but usually over a smaller range, e.g.yellow to blue or red to yellow. This time I went all the way from red to yellow to blue. I added a few colors to the ones in the catalog picture and changed the value of the colors to get darker hues on the ends and yellow in the middle. Also in the blanket colors there was a big gap between orange and yellow. I added a yellow-orange (the 3rd skein in the picture), but that's still the biggest gap in the series, I think. I dyed 2 lb of each, which will give me enough for around 3 rugs, since I'll partner the colors with a neutral. The 1st rug is on the loom now, and I'm using black with the colors.
in order to do the run I created 3 dyestocks, A blue muted with black, a yellow muted with brown and a red muted with some of the yellow and blue stocks. Then I could create the gradual progressing by putting successively more of one stock and less of the next one so that I worked my way around the color wheel. I still have some red and some blue left, so if I want I could complete the "circle" by dying wome purple yarn, but for the moment I'm leaving it as is.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I've been trying to do get away from strict symmetry in my beadwork. The links pieces were 1 step toward that goal; this is another. In general my beadwork using copper beads has been my most rigidly symmetrical. I've been trying to create a look reminiscent of bridge trusses or other engineered structures like that. Here I took a big step away from that. The indiividual structures are, in fact, octahedrons, but I made them using a combination of long and short tubes. Each individual unit still has a sort of symmetry, but by joining them together in different ways as I go along, I've created a random look that I like. Then since the structure is so open I've attached other geometric structures to it. They create interest. Also, I find these copper tube bead necklaces are pretty light and need a bit of weight added in order to hang well. The glass bead structures give it that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Torus bracelet

A new torus structure--this one with a small minor diameter (width of the tube), but a major diameter big enough to be used as a bracelet. In order to figure this one out I had to switch from building the inner circumference of the torus and working outward, as they do in the blog. Instead, I built a short section of the tube, and then kept extending it till I had the overall length, then closed off the circle. One problem is that it's not very easily adjustable for different wrist sizes. You could vary the length (the size you need to get the bracelet over your wrist) by adding another section, but that would add more than an inch. You could, I think, make one section shorter, or longer than the others, if you weren't hung up on symmetry, as I tend to be way too much.


A quick post about my comments problem. I find it's linked to my security settings, since I can comment from my son's computer. My husband tends to get a bit carried away on security settings, so I may have to list the blogs I follow as trusted sited to solve the problem. Anyway, it should be fixed soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010


A quick note--I think I've mentioned that I have trouble commenting on other people's blogs. Now I find that there are some I can comment on and others I can't. One of the ones where I can't is my own. If someone comments on an entry of mine, especially something nice, I like to respond, but I can't. I hope you'll understand.
Actually maybe someone can help me, since the people who follow my blog also follow others that I use. On some blogs (the beaded molecules and wild wicked beads are 2) when I go to the comment section the blog already knows who I am (assuming I've already signed into blogger). On others, (my own and beadorigami are 2) the site asks for a profile and when I say google account it just asks again and I'm in a loop. Anyone know what the difference is?

My background

I thought I'd say a bit about how I got to where I am in my work. I've been a weaver for more than 25 years, and for the last 15 or so, I've done exclusively rugs. With those my emphasis is on color. I dye my own wool yarn, and put alot of effort into creating interesting color combinations. The work is very geometric because a) weaving lends itself to geometrics, and b) I have no skill whatsoever at representation. Can't draw to save my soul (although practicing drawing to reach at least a minimal competency is on my to-do list). Around 5 years ago we moved the rug loom out of the house and into a studio. I seem to suffer from "restless finger syndrome" so I was ready for a new outlet at the house. I ran across an article about David Chatt in Ornament Magazine, and knew that if I were to do beadwork, the kind of geometric right-angle-weave that he did was where I wanted to be. Valerie Hector's book had a good section on RAW, so I picked it up. The RAW section and Laura Shea's section on Plato and Archimedes beads are the genisis of just about eveything I do.
I've found that beadwork and rugweaving mesh well for me. With the rugs I have, of course, been limited to 2 dimensions, so I immediately went very 3 dimensional with the beadwork, and found that to be quite exciting. On the other hand, I no longer had control over my colors, and that was very frustrating. Not only can I not create my colors, as I do with my handdyed wool, I can't quite tell what I'm getting when I order, because the actual beads often aren't the same color as the colors on my computer monitor. I use #8 beads, and, of course, there isn't the range of colors I'd have if I used smaller beads. But, maybe because I came to beading relatively late, I find I don't have the patience for the teeny beads. And ultimately, I think the color limitations have been good for me, because they've forced me to rely less on color and more on form. Anyway, I go back and forth between media, and am having a great time doing it.
One of the dangers of blogging is the tendency to be way too self-indulgent, and assume the world is way more interested in you than they have any real reason to be, so I'll stop now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Simplicity versus complexity

I've been playing with the idea of how much is enough. My work tends to be relatively minimalist. So I'm always dealing with the notion of when simple and clean-lined edges toward boring. I made a piece recently where I thought the geometric structure was kind of neat, but the resulting necklace was relatively boring. I'm not showing that piece here, but it led me to think about the possibility of using some of my clean geometric structures as a scaffolding to build on. One of my first realizations of this idea was in my "links" series. It's a series of necklaces and bracelets that are made of individual beaded links. In my initial ones the links were all the same shape (except for one long link in the back), just different colors. I really like those necklaces, but now I've also created several links that have some sort of interesting shape added to the standard link. The nice thing is that the wearer/customer can decide how much to move away from the original simplicity by adding the more elaborate links. Also you can experiment with putting a "special" link in the center for a relatively symmetrical look, or off-center to create asymmetry. I'm enjoying this, and I like rearranging the necklaces and trying new looks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Platonic pingpong balls

This was a fun piece. I really enjoy working with the pingpong balls, although my husband thinks I've really gone over the edge. But scale matters, and sometimes I just want to make something bigger. Also I like the combination of the white balls and my many colors of rug wool.
Here's the idea on this one. The 5 structures are the 5 Platonic solids--tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. The 1st 3, since they are smaller, were made with 2 balls for each edge. The last 2 were done with single balls on each edge. It's interesting to notice that when you use round balls the placement of the balls appears just the same in the icosahedron and the dodecahedron, each using 30 balls arranged in triangles and pentagons. The difference is that the axis of each ball, and hence the placement of the tufts of yarn, is different (by 90 degrees). If I had used single balls instead of double, the same thing would have been true of the cube and octahedron, each of which would use 12 balls. I've found I've sometimes made mistakes in analysing other people's beaded shapes for that reason. There's a mathematical term, I think, for the relatonship between the shapes that are like that, but I've forgotten it. Unfortunately my mathematics comes either from high school 40+ years ago, or from Wikipedia.
Back to the piece in the picture. Plato is said to have associated the Platonic solids with the Platonic elements, so I used that in choosing the colors for the structures. The cube, since it is a stable, building blockish sort of shape, is associated with earth, so I used neutrals and gray greens. The tetrahedron, because it's the pointiest shape, is linked with fire, so I used red/orange/yellow. The icosahedron, because its round shape allows it to flow, is matched with water. Hence watery colors. And the octahedron (and all of a sudden I've forgotten the reason) is associated with air, so I used white, for relative invisibility next to the white balls. There's a mismatch, of course. 5 Platonic solids and only 4 Platonic elements. He speculated that the 5th solid, the dodecahedron, might be related to the shape of the universe. So I used all colors in it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Torus necklace

This is the first actual piece of jewelry I've made from my torus structures. I like it because it's the first time I've varied from the actual structures I found in the beaded molecules blog. The 6-sided torus is basically taken from the blog. It's the one that uses octagons in the middle and squares on the outside, and it wants to be a hexagon type torus,i.e. the structure creates a 60 degree angle between the sides. However I found I could force it into a 90 degree bend, to create the square torus. As a general matter, I find I like forcing my beaded structures into shapes that aren't exactly what they want to do, because the forcing creates a stiffer structure. An example would be a tetrahedron created using right angle weave. It makes a somewhat rounded, but stiffer, tetrahedron.
When I tried to force the structure even farther, into a 120 degree bend to make the triangular torus in the middle, it just wouldn't go. I simply didn't have enough beads in the outer part of the torus to accomodate the greater diameter. So I changed the squares (4-bead circles) to rectangles (6-bead ovals) and then I could make it work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sierpinski spheres

This is a bit more on my Sierpinski-ish structures. The blue ball I showed before isn't a Sierpinski one because the small units are dodecahedrons and the overall ball is a buckyball. You could, of course make each of the small ball units buckyballs, but that would take more work than I wanted to do. I did try to go the other way and use small dodecahedron balls as units to make a large dodecahedron. I couldn't do it. The small goldish hemisphere was my attempt. The problem is that 5 dodecahedrons don't really want to make a circle. I don't know enough trig (or, for that matter any trig) to know what the angles are, but when you make it you have to pull it together some to get a circle out of 5 spheres. It wants to be 5 and some fraction spheres. You can do it fine for the first (bottom) circle, and the 5 circles that adjoin it, but after that it's too far off. The only way I could create that sort of structure was to link the adjoining balls with a small 5-sided "tube" of beads to give me a little wiggle room. That's the red and black structure, red dodecahedrons joined together by black tubes. Some of the tubes, as needed, have 2-bead edges on the inside and 3-bead ones on the outside. On the blue buckyball from the earlier post, the 5-ball circles are separated by 6-ball circles, and that gives you the same sort of wiggle room.
When I had done the red and black structure, I found that I actually liked the look of separating the small balls, so I did the same with a buckyball, the multicolored one. I really like the fact that it's a more open structure, and you can see what's happening better. Also it's larger (around 4" diameter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

60 ball sphere

The blue ball shown here is, I think, my most geometrically interesting piece. It's not exactly a Sierpinski structure, but heading in that direction. The individual spheres are dodecahedrons, and the overall structure is a buckyball. It differs from the one in the beaded molecule blog, though, in that the small spheres are not strung together to form the large sphere. Instead, the adjoining small spheres share a face, just as cubes do in right angle weave. In order to make this work I had to change the buckeyball. Where the beads in a beaded buckyball usually represent the edges of the ball (so there are 90) in this structure they represent the vertices, so there are 60. In terms of the carbon-60 structure, I suppose that would mean they represent the carbon atoms, instead of the links between the atoms. Again, I'm not a chemist, so I'm more or less guessing, but that seems logical to me.
The other 2 pictures are earlier attempts to make the sphere. In each case I got sidetracked when I got partway through. I found that I didn't want to close up the sphere, but I wanted the inside to show. For the first one I just added long fringe to the open edge. For the 2nd one I added another row of 6-ball circles to give it more height, and then added some balls on the outer edge to make a lip. I think they're prettier that the sphere, but I did want to make one actual sphere, so the 3rd time around I completed it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

triangle structures

This foray into torus structures is a new focus for me. Before this I've been doing lots of work with long beads. You can't really do structures based on pentagons, hexagons, or really even squares with those because they immediately get wobbly. I've stuck pretty much to structures based on triangles, like tetrahedrons (tets), octahedrons (octs) and, to a lesser extent, icosahedrons. What I really love is the structure known as the octet truss, which is made of alternating octs and tets. They will extend out into a plane of any size. It's a structure engineers use. In fact the first time I googled it I got a picture of the overhead structure at a new terminal at Heathrow airport. If you do it in all directions you can create larger octs and tets. I've attached some of my jewelry piece that use it, mostly to create triangles.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm trying to upload some images of some of the donut (technically torus) structures I've built based on the incredible carbon nanotube stuff in The larger picture used seed beads, and to create more open structure I used 2 beads for each edge. It's around 3" in diameter. Looking through all the structures in the blog, I've been trying various versions. For jewelry I'm trying to keep the minor diameter (ie the diameter of the curved tube, not of the whole torus) relatively small so the piece isn't too terribly thick. Also I want the very outermost part of be a row of shapes,not a border between rows of shapes. That way, when I get beyond single toruses (tori?) I can build a structure to link together a series of them. The other picis of various structures using 4 mm stone beads. I sort of like the blue one on the left best, as it's quite firm and not too thick, but it doesn't have a bead circle on the outer rim. If I connect to a bead circle it will slightly on the back of the torus. So I'm still playing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm just starting this blog, so let me say a few things to start out. First of all, I don't know much of anything about blogs, so if I violate any blogger etiquette, chalk it up to ignorance and let me know I've goofed. That reminds me, I don't know if you can comment under my current setup, although I hope so, and I'll try to figure that out soon. I follow just a few blogs myself, but for some reason, I can't get the comment feature to work when I try to comment. I write a comment, give them my google account, but I just get into a loop where when I try to post the comment it asks for my profile again and the whole thing starts over. If anyone can help me with this problem, I'd appreciate it. Also, I'm a reasonable speller, but a terrible typist, so, while I try to catch typos, some are sure to get through.
Something about me and what I'm trying to do. I'm a rugweaver and a beadweaver. Rugweaving came first ( I've been doing that for 15 years or so) so my main website address is It also has some of my beadwork. I also have a shop on etsy, and since it includes beadwork and rugs ( mostly beadwork for now) I call it, like this blog. In both my rug work and my beadwork I'm heavily geometric. With the rugs, my primary emphasis is on color, and that works well because I dye my own wool. When I began doing beadweaving, I found that A. it was really fun to play with geometry in 3 dimensions instead of 2, and B. it was really irritating to be limited to the colors I could find in the marketplace, especially since the beads that would arrive in the mail never quite seemed to match the colors I had seen on my monitor. Both of those led me to sort of de-emphasize color and concentrate on form in the beadwork ( although I still like working with color there too).
In this blog, I'm hoping to talk about my work and what I'm trying to accomplish. Although I want/need to sell what I make, I' m going to try to keep away from just a sort of "Here's my newest etsy listing", or "here's where I'll be showing my work next" kind of thing. I hope I'll show the experiments that didn't come out so well in addition to the ones that worked.
Well, that's it for now. I know I have to post some pictures, do some links and all that, but that will come soon enough. I'll just say that I'm having great fun just now doing beadwork based on my current favorite I think I got that URL right; anyway it's a chemist at the U. of Taipei who uses beads to make representations of carbon nanotubes. Amazing stuff! When I cna get some pictures up I'll show you some of mine. For now, I feel like I'm talking to myself, and I'll stop for now.