Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flashback to Germany - it happens in the Autumn

Many of you know I spent the majority of my first marriage in Germany from 1984 through 1987, while husband #1 served in the military.  I loved living overseas and might have stayed if I could have figured out how to do it, but things called life happen.  If I did, I would not have married Al and met many of the people that are really important in my life.  Things did turn out the way they should have.

But I was feeling a little nostalgic this morning and looking though Google Maps at roads that I walked and seeing if restaurants I knew were still in business.
Cute little apartment building with a small balcony.  Great for beer storage in the winter
With Lou and Vada at the wedding reception party - it was 31 years ago this month
I lived here – first on Lammakerweg (on the third floor with the slanted ceilings and skylight windows) and then on Andreas Fauser Strasse (on the third floor with the great balcony off the front room and the tiny balcony off the kitchen that over looked Martinskirche) in the village of Mohringen.
Andreas Fauser 24 apartment building
It was a nice suburb of Stuttgart and I really enjoyed walking through the village and the orchards surrounding it.  We had a lot of restaurants and bistros within walking distance.  For the first months there, Tim did not own a car.  Many of his friends did, and with a great system of streetcars and buses, a car wasn’t truly necessary.

The Italian Ice shop is still there - we would walk up for gelato in the eveing

The flower shop where I would treat myself to flowers

Martinskirche where there was a small farmers market on the weekend.  I would walk over for fruits and meats, fresh from the farm.
Sadly the Bier & Brezel is closed.
One of the first places that I had dinner out with friends was Bier & Brezel – where a ton of military guys frequented.  It was located at a main intersection between two fairly large US bases.  Another local place was the Terrazino for “teller pizza” – which is a pizza that was the size of a plate (or teller).  Note: if you are in Germany and ordering a meal, anything that says teller means that it’s big (teller schnitzel, etc).  Gasthof Anker was another place, and my parents stayed there during an extended visit.

These photos were taken from Google maps of houses I remember seeing as the streetcar went up and down Degerloch Hill

The tracks used to be in the middle two lanes of the road, which made it really hard to drive as you had to get out of the way

Since my ex was working all day at Kelly Barracks, he made certain I was comfortable with the streetcar system, buying tickets and traveling on my own.  One of the things I loved to do was to take the straβenbahn up and down Degerloch Hill.  I loved to look at the view over the city of Stuttgart and look at the glorious old apartment buildings as the straβenbahn got closer to Stuttgart.  I would wonder how many were still as glorious on the inside as they were on the outside.  Many times I did wish I lived in one of those houses with the 10 foot ceilings and plaster walls, terrazo floor tiles.  There was still an area where you could see some of the damage from the bombs from WWII.
I remember the umbrella and leather store was in this first group of shops
After a time, I was pretty familiar with downtown Stuttgart and I loved walking on the Konigstraβe and go through the shops.  I bought a wonderful leather purse I used for years and a wallet that I still use occasionally.  I bought a great umbrella with a duck handle and a shoulder strap (How freaking handy is that!!), and a scarf that I wore European style for years (until it fell out of the sleeve of my coat and it was lost forever).  I do still mourn the loss of that scarf.  I remember the time that I was browsing the shops and was asked for instructions to the train station.  As I was searching for the German words in my mind, the gentleman said "Oh, you are American, you can tell me in English."

I know for many of the military guys the Konigstraβe was a different experience.  They would prowl the Konigstraβe and side streets for the clubs and bars in the evening and pick up the German girls.  If they were completely drunk before a certain hour, it was called “getting ugly early!”  That expression is still one that I use today to describe certain situations in life.

Perhaps I am nostalgic because this is the time of the Oktoberfest in Germany and there was a huge one in the Stuttgart area.  OMG – I remember being so drunk at some of these festivals, but especially this one.  Beers were the size of a barn and the schnapps!  But we had the best time at these events.  One especially entertaining evening was when the schnappsfrau was trying to hit on my father in the beer tent!  He was tickled pink.  The laughter and fun from these days are forever in my mind.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Ink, Ink, Ink

It's been since January 2012 that I last had a tattoo.  I tend to think long and hard and it this what I really want.  I almost had one added when I was in New Orleans, but I didn't want to make a snap decision and regret it.

My first tattoo was when I hit 50 years old (and I actually have now said that outloud), and it was a hummingbird that was inspired by Native American art from the Pacific NW (Haidaa), it's not your grandmothers' hummingbird.  This was in May 2010, after I returned from a cruise to Alaska and fell in love with this image.  The picture was taken minutes after the tattoo was finished which is why it's still shiny in places.  It isn't small, measuring just over 6 inches long from tip to tail.  Pretty big for a first tattoo.  My second tattoo is another hummingbird that is facing this one, about the same size.  My thought now is to get something to tie them together that is not a black tribal band.

The Love
Tattoo #3 took some work researching, Several of the residents that I work with showed me pictures and I knew that I wanted a word in Arabic - love or peace - something sweet.  I ended up with this in January 2012:  The love or الحب.  this of course is a stylized calligraphy version, and I do love it.

So I have been playing with the idea after one of the doctors wrote my name in calligraphy many years ago - that it would make a great tattoo.  Another doctor suggested the Gujarti script which is really pretty, but not for the first one.   I would have to find a new tattoo artist as the person who did the first three moved across town, seemed unstable, make a comment about fat ladies on an airplane (actually it was just that comment that made me decide that he didn't deserve my money - it reinforced to me that while I am overweight, he's an ass-hat and I can lose weight).  The second artist, who has been working with my husband on several tattoos was really good, but he wanted to do this in black and I didn't want black.  One of the new interns this year suggested white, which was also was my friend Fiona had and I really liked the idea of that.  So I went back to my original shop and talked with one of the artists Jay.   He said that he was booked up for the next day, but no one left a deposit - if you are serious about a tattoo, carry $50 for a cash deposit - I was scheduled for the next afternoon.

Jay did a phenomonal job; I didn't want black, he wanted a black outline as a minimum, I wanted lighter, he thought fading would be good.  I didn't want the blue of the hospital, we agreed on a turquoise blue and to make me really happy, he shaded in some white at the top. The black shading at the bottom actually just looks like a darker blue fading upwards to white.  I didn't know that this was what I wanted.  I love it!
It's perfect for me - Elizabeth

 Now the next question is "Why Arabic?"  Why not?  It's an old culture, it's beautiful script, it's me.  If I see my name written in another script that I like just as much - Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Nigerian, Hindi - I would probably do it again.   So send me my name (Elizabeth) in a beautiful script - I will add it to my wish list for a future tattoo.

(p.s.  On the inner forearm, this tattoo hurt - way worse than the others WAY WORSE.  About 15 minutes into the project, I was forgetting about the pain and watching the process.)

Friday, August 07, 2015

Musings from the Campground

Thursday, August 6th - 7.30am

We are so connected with each other via all the different social media, that it's really hard to accept a sudden and total disconnect as I did this week while camping.  I found myself very jealous of the limited connectability that my hubby had, and I would sneak glimpses on his phone to see what was happening with our friends.

As the week progressed, a curious thing happened.  I found myself looking less and less at his phone.  I wasn't even carrying my phone - I picked up my real camera instead and took pictures.  Not just pictures to be posted on Facebook to say "Look what fun I am having", but pictures that had a shape and form that I liked - and that pleased me.

Alan and I did a lot of nothing this week.  Lake Hudson State Park is a beautiful spot and I would come back.  The campsites are large private.  There are massive hedges of shrubs, small trees and branches, separating each site so you can't see your neighbor.  The sites are also off-set so you can't see someone directly across the road.  Lake Hudson is a "Dark Sky Preserve" and has no exernal lighting - no street lights.  No building lights.

Above - camper in the moonlight.

It's also low on ammenities.  There are two outhouses (one for each loop) - they are new, but still outhouses.  There is one water pump.  You know, a hand pump.  The only modern ammenity at the campground is electricity.  As it was put in the park, it was done thoughtfully - the electric stations are tucked away into paths cut in the brambles so many of them are not seen from the road.

It's very quiet.  Very little street noise - only when the breeze is at the right angle.  There are very few planes.  Even with weekend campers, the park was quiet well before quiet hour.

Aside from the night when the largest storm of the summer came through with rain, thunder, lightening lasting clost to four hours; the weather has been good - perhaps a little too hot and muggy.  But that storm!  It might have been the second worst storm I have camped in - and I have camped in some bad ones.  The thunder and lightening was so fast and furious that it just all rolled together and you didn't know if the thunder was starting or finishing.

But it was a good week.  I finished a few UFOs, put away a project that has been frustrating me (I will pick it up later) and started another that I sketched awhile ago.
Beki Haley's "Tango" necklace

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bead on it Board versus Bead Pad

There has been a lot of on-line discussion about the “Bead On It Board” and the newer “Bead Pad.”  When I was at Bead and Button early in June 2015, I was able to see both and I have been using both this past month.  This is not going to be an argument about copyright, patent, and trademark.  This is my impressions about two different products.  

This year, I bought three different BOIB from Betcey at Beyond Beadery and two from Oak Grove Studio (which does NOT have the Bead Pad on their web page).  It was in the back of my head to write a blog post that would talk about the two products, MY opinion of the products.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my BOIB – to the point where I have eight different one in avariety of sizes from small to large.  I realized it is obsessive behavior, but one was a gift and one was a trade (how’s that for justification?).  In the beading industry, there is always competition (Swarovski and Preciosa, Miyuki and Toho, Nymo and One G (or KO, silamide, Fireline; etc).

The first and original product is the “Bead on It!” beading board (BOIB).  According to the label on the back of my board, it has a 2008 copyright, and a trademark patented of 2010.  The “Bead Pad” (BP) just has a small label on the back. 

Since I have used the BOIB for many years, I have been working with my new Bead Pad for the last several weeks.  My thoughts are:
  • ·    The fabric is where you visually see the difference.  The BOIB is available is many, many colors and combinations of colors – mostly with velour fabrics, with some really exciting prints.  The BP I saw at B&B were of a different palette with earth tones in a rich upholstery fabric.  I actually like the variety in both boards – perhaps, I could see the BP wearing a little better and not getting as dirty.  Both are nice – this would completely be the personal preference of the consumer.
  •  ·    Functionality:  Both boards have a great base fabric.  Both boards have a similar feel when working with them, the beads lay nicely for scooping with the needle or for the jab method of one bead at a time.  The deck of the BOIB is a little “spongier”, but I didn’t see that as a positive or negative for either board.
  •  ·    On both boards, seed beads get stuck in the groove between the bumper and the base fabric.  It means flicking them out with your Scoopula, triangle tray or fingernail.  A friend of mine attempted to fix this with some satin cording (rat tail) glued in the groove. 
  •  ·    The BP board is much heavier than the BOIB.  It feels as if it’s made out of a dense plywood, versus the lighter plywood that they BOIB uses.  If you are not moving it between your studio area and classrooms, then this isn’t as much of a concern for you.
  •  ·    Price:  For an 11x17 board, the BOIB price is $120.00.  The price for the BP for about the same size is $50.  That’s a big different if you are a budget minded beader.
  •  ·    Backing Material:  The BOIB uses a felt fabric on the bottom side.  On a non-fabric surface, the BOIB does slip, but not much.  The BP uses a latex free shelf-liner material, which won’t slide on any surface.  I do think the BOIB board is finished a little nicer, but not enough to make it a deal breaker.  One of my BP had a broken staple that didn’t lay right and scratched me, but a quick whack with a hammer took care of that.

In summary, I do like both boards (and I will admit, I was going into this experiment hoping that I would like the BOIB better).  I think that there is a different audience for both boards, just as there is an audience for Mercedes and Lexus, Swarovski and Preciosa crystals, Japanese and Czech seed beads.  The winner will be all the beaders who are put off by the price of the BOIB who fall in love with the BP. And then they decide that they can't wait to put their own test together.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bead & Button 2015 - The Heavy Haul

The heavy haul...4 rolls crystal cup chain, 2 packs of 3mm preciosa bi-cones, assorted rondells, 2 large bags of assorted pearls, box of 16mm, 14mm and 12mm rivolis, drops, metal beads, bag of vintage rivolis in assorted sizes, more cup chain, assortment of One-G thread, vintage 39mm chatons, cool bronze castings from Russia, Bead On It board, Bead Pad (I think I will write a comparison of the two an how I feel about them).

For many years I have written an annual post-B&B report, as I did in 20142013, 2012, 2011 and as far back as 2007.  I will get caught up and blog that soon!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Ahhh, Bead Embroidery

Over the years I have done a fair amount of bead embroidery.  Oh, okay - I have done a lot of bead embroidery.  I don't talk much about the base fabric that I use, but people have started asking what I use and why.   When I started, I was using an interfacing fabric, then craft felt, interfacing with an iron-on "canvas", Lacey's Stiff Stuff, Nicole's Bead Backing, and just recently a bead foundation by the BeadSmith company.  Here are my thoughts:

Interfacing (i.e. Pellon or Peltex):  Actually it's pretty good stuff, but I have only seen it in white.  If you bead fairly close together, it's not a big deal.  It comes on the bolt, so you can get great lengths and cut interesting shapes and patterns.

Craft felt:  I didn't have good luck with this.  Pilled, shredded and was uneven to work on.

Interfacing with an Iron-on Canvas:  I used this with the Taj Mahal.  Man, oh man, was this a bear to bead through!!  Interfacing was fine, but the iron-on that I printed the outline on was so hard to get the needle through.  Maybe that is why it took years to finish.  I will not recommend this to anyone!

Lacey's Stiff Stuff:  Decent stuff, but never felt the best for me.  Many people do love it and swear by it - we all have what we love.  It did shred a little, can be dyed to other colors, made larger by placing the edges next to each other and sewing together but is a decent product.

Nicole's Bead Backing:  This is my hands down favorite bead embroidery product to use.  It doesn't pill, minimal shredding, comes in 16 colors, takes iron-on transfer pencil, stamps and more.  My silver tiara is actually on the green bead backing, because I was going to use a sample and then just decided to go for it.

Bead Foundation by BeadSmith:  I just used this recently for a project and I don't care for it at all.  It feels thin, flimsy and shreds.  I think it's obvious that I didn't like it.

These are just my opinions, you may love a product that I don't care for - which is perfectly fine.  There is room for all sorts of opinions on different products.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bead Embroidery has taken over my life!

Over the years, I have done many bead embroidered pieces.  Small postage stamp sizes for "bead quilts" that have been donated to raise money for charity to larger pieces that I have been fortunate enough to sell.

two Ganesha figures that are now owned by doctors that I work with (thanks guys), 

 a picture of my beloved Casie who passed to the big dog biscuit heaven in the sky.
 I have been inspired by pictures that I took on my travels - which is where this temple guardian came from - a temple from Soraksan, South Korea
 From my three years living in Germany and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle many times

 From Robin Atkins and the annual "Bead Journal" project
 African beads made from old record albums - yes, I do need to finish this one.  I bet that many persons don't realize that record albums used to come in different colors.  That's something I do remember.
 Meeting up with fellow bead embroidery artist, Dot Lewellen, in a bar in Milwaukee (we are such pick ups, I know!)
I have completed two tiaras (and an outline for how I did them is in process)
And my newest piece that was to be a necklace.  Until yesterday when something hit me.  And I love what it's turning into.

Stay tuned to this bead station, this bat channel