Wednesday, 31 December 2008

This time tomorrow...

...we will be in Christchurch! It's 15 years since we have been to New Zealand, and that was to North Island, so I'm really looking forward to the chance to explore the South Island this time. As I did for previous travels, I am intending to blog and post photos as we go.
The scenery is going to be magnificent, so I'm especially looking forward to the photography opportunities.
Have a Happy New Year everyone!!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Wrapping up Christmas

We had a lovely relaxed Christmas this year. More than usual, that's for sure, as we are generally hosting at least one meal for family. This year we were out visiting for lunch and dinner, so other than a day of baking on Christmas Eve, so I could take some mince pies and shortbread, there wasn't much to do. It was wonderful to spend Christmas morning with our nieces and see the oldest enjoying the whole process so much. I've never seen anyone get so excited (and so frustrated) having to wait to pull the cracker. It looks like we are in the final stages of organising to get a new Keeshond puppy. That was the easy part - the impossible job is going to be deciding on a second dog. We thought we might downsize for the second, rather than having 2 kees. But DH has his heart set on a Boston Terrier, while I'm open to other possibilities (and not all that keen on the whole 'they are so ugly they are cute' approach...). I'm leaning towards a Griffon Bruxellois but I'd need to learn a lot more about them. Actually, I know I really just want another Keeshond - the breeder has 2, do you think I can convince my other half to just take both? Either way, looks like we will have a little fluffball by the time I go back to work.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Tis the Season

Only 4 days till Christmas! I love this time of year, although it's feeling a little less festive as we don't have a tree up this year. Just us at home - we are going out for all the Christmas meals this year, and as we are going away shortly after Christmas, it didn't seem worth it. I'm missing it though - I'm tempted to cave and put it up, but seems a bit late now...
I got into the spirit this week though, making a mountain of chocolate fudge to give to colleagues at work as gifts. And I wrapped all out gifts today, so that put me in the Christmas spirit as well. Maybe I should have some spiced mead tonight - we always say it's like drinking a Christmas pudding.
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas - I'll be blogging all about my adventures in New Zealand after New Years.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

New Beads

I had a great day today - a very girly day shopping, lunching and trying new make-up looks. Still coughing fit to burst with any exertion or laughter, but I'm feeling a lot better. I have only one more week of work and then I'm looking forward to a nice long break.
I've been putting some new beads up on Etsy this week, although I haven't made it to the torch yet. I'm not sure a coughing fit is a good idea while working with an open flame. Here is 'Passionate Pink' and 'Surfer Girl'.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

What a month... or two

The last few months have gone by in a blur. I have done back to back shows, both of which went really well, been sick more than I care for and gone through the madcap period of report writing at school. I've been too busy or too exhausted to feel like blogging through that time though.
Calamity Jane with Babirra was a success, and lots of fun. It was nice to do a full musical for the first time since 2005. To keep me crazy busy, I was also in the PEP variety show I'm Perfect, I'll Change You, That's Love just a few weeks later. That was a much smaller cast, 11 of us providing duets, solos and ensemble numbers. The one weekend season was well attended and all the audiences seemed to enjoy themselves. Going back to large scale musicals was a great experience, but its great to have a more intimate cast, and be able to share the limelight between us a bit more in the smaller shows. I've done a lot of variety shows in the last few years, and I really enjoy that style of performing. And to my great surprise this week, I got a bit of kudos for one of those performances. The Lyrebird Award nominations came out this week, and I received a Judges Commendation for Best Female Performer in a Variety Show, for my work in Laugh Out Loud at the start of this year. Actually, all of the 4 shows I've been in this year have been nominated for something, which is exciting for all the companies.
I have spent the last week crashed out on the couch with what started as Bronchitis, but is threatening to become something worse. I cannot believe how much time I have spent doing nothing, because any effort caused me to cough so hard my ribs are sore.
I've barely torched, but the few sets I have made have been going up on Etsy this week. Online sales are pretty much non-existent at the moment, I'm not sure where I should go with my beads at the moment. I need to torch to keep expanding my skills, but making beads with no outlet for them is a problem. Something I'm really going to have to think about over the holidays. Here's a preview of one of my new sets - a lovely etched set of copper green and the dreaded EDP...

Monday, 1 December 2008

Animoto Video

It seems like a good time of the year to reflect on past work, so here is a full length animoto video of my beads from the last year or so. Ive been playing around with the site, trialling it for use with my students.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Saying Goodbye...

It's been a tough week. On Wednesday we lost our beautiful Merlin. It came totally out of the blue - one day he has a bit of a cough, then suddenly he is riddled with lung cancer. I was really hoping we would not have to go through this again for a couple of years, after losing Mystic just last year, and Misere.
I have been on the 'City Experience' with my year 9's all week. It's been exhausting, and stressful at times, but on the plus side, I've been too busy during the day, and too tired at night to really dwell on it. But we both keep forgetting momentarily, and getting up to let him outside, or keeping leftovers for him. I made pancakes last night, and they weren't very good - Merlin always had to have the first 'test' one out of the pan.
Merlin has been with us for almost our whole married life - he leaves a big hole in my heart.
The Big Fluffball after a brush.
Telling us off...
His favourite pose

Friday, 10 October 2008

Julie, Julia & Me...

Despite being absolutely crazy busy at the moment (I have been at rehearsals till midnight every day this week, for starters), I have been doing a little reading for entertainment lately. This week I read a book called Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell. I bought it because the premise appealed to me - someone working her way through every recipe in a french cookbook in a year. I didn't realise until a few chapters in that it's a true story (I went searching and found the original blog it is based on).
It's a great book, entertaining and humorous, but the thing I found most interesting was that basic idea. I think it's a brilliant idea. I'm pretty frustrated I didn't think of it myself. :) I can see myself involved in such a project, although I doubt I'd be committed or crazy enough to try and get it done in a year, to eat at 10 every night because the recipes are so complex, and quite frankly, I really do not need the extra layer of 'butter fat' Julie says she gained. The idea really appeals to me though - something to keep yourself inspired and committed to a project, a great way to have something to blog about every day - and I love to cook new recipes.
But, it's been done. *sigh* Just changing to a different nationality cookbook probably isn't sufficiently original... Maybe I could apply the concept to another medium, one of my many other interest... I could work my way through Passing the Flame instead perhaps. A new bead design or skill every week (because as I said, I'm not crazy enough to do it every day). I'm going to have to think about this...
But, no time at the moment for these ideas. Calamity Jane opens tonight. It will be such a relief to perform in front of an audience, finally. I have never been in another show that does a run through in the theatre, every night the week the show opens. It's great to be prepared, and the show is so tight because of it, but I am absolutely exhausted and can't wait to sleep in on Saturday morning.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Bring On Christmas...

I know we all usually start complaining around this time of year, that Christmas is hitting the stores earlier and earlier. So why on earth would I be saying bring it on, in September? Well, because when Christmas does get here, it will mean the crazy months of Sept, Oct and Nov are all behind me. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get through the next couple of months without going stark raving mad (or 'crazier' - better get in before anyone else does...). This week we have interim reports due, and I have a heap of major projects at work - big grant applications and the like to get finished. I've got Bronchitis at the moment, which is wearing me down, and I'm going to be helping out in the kitchen at a feast on Saturday. Calamity Jane is on in early October, so I am rehearsing 3 times a week, and by this time next month, it will be every night, in anticipation of opening night on the 10th. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I have also just been cast in the upcoming PEP show, which is on a month later - so just 2 months to put together a show, whilst Calamity is racing for the finish line. Just as I get those 2 nailed down, it will probably be time for end of year reports. At least that will mean the end is nearly in sight. I am really going to be looking forward to the Christmas vacation this year. Hopefully Jason and I will be heading to New Zealand after Christmas, so I will hold onto that thought when I get the urge to throttle a few students in December....

Friday, 29 August 2008

There's no accounting for taste...

I have a favourite set of beads in my stock at the moment. I made them quite a long time ago, but I loved them immediately. The glass was a bullseye odd lot, a beautiful shimmering teal. And the focal has the added sparkle of dichroic glass throughout. They have a raised floral decoration, a technique I acquired at the Anastasia class I attended in Chicago last year. Not a difficult technique at all, but I think it's very effective, and looking at these beads reminds me of that wonderful trip.
These beads were also featured in my artists profile in the beading magazine - in fact, they had the largest photo. I can see that the design might be a little challenging to work into jewellery, but they are lovely beads and I'm very pleased with them.
And yet, they just wont sell. They were up on JB several times when I first made them. Recently they have been on Etsy for several weeks. I've decided to give them one more go on Just Beads, so that's where you will find them at the moment.
So, is it true? Is there really no accounting for taste? Is my affection for these beads misguided? Or perhaps they are just destined to be mine - maybe I should go with the flow and make them into jewellery for myself.
We shall see...

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Sharing the Love

This week my lovely, talented friend Lisa tagged me as the recipient of a blogging 'award'. Apparently now it is my turn to 'tag' another 7 or so worthy blogs. My taste in blogs, like my music, is quite eclectic, so they might be a random bunch! Here goes...
  • Drape's Takes is a great blog by educational technologist Darren Draper, a teacher in North America. Always interesting, and often thought provoking, it's a blog I've been disappointed to be a bit behind in reading lately.
  • Common Craft. Perhaps 1 in 10 posts in this blog are really relevant to me, but it's worth it to be the first to see their amazing instructional 'In Plain English' videos about Web 2.0. If any of your friends or family don't get the 'blogging thing', point them here.
  • Gal Lori is one of several blogs written by talented beadmaker Lori Greenberg. I particularly love the gems of wisdom from her kids.
  • Real Tart is written by a British ex-pat author now living in New South Wales. He hasn't been blogging for the last few months, but he is back again now, and his posts are always good for a chuckle.
  • Otter's Odds 'n Ends. I guess some people will think this is a strange nomination to make, as Otter doesn't blog anymore. But the posts on this blog have frequently moved me to tears, so it is well worth scrolling back through and reading them, despite the time lapse.
  • Jennie's Palette is the blog for my talented friend Jennie, who paints nudes, and recently had her first solo exhibition.

And two that definitely don't need a plug from me:

Here’s how it works:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 (more or less) other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

Sunday, 17 August 2008

New Beads...

I am alternating between posting new beads on Etsy and Just Beads. Keeping my options open and hopefully reaching a wider audience. I have a few new sets up this week - click the photos for links...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Space Poppies

I am strangely pleased with this set. I love the coral glass - the variations of colour you get with any of the Moretti Coral's (and there are so many variations) but it's the decoration I'm really happy with. I have no idea why, but they make me think of aliens or something sci fi. I told my friend Lisa that, and she came up with the name Space Poppies... works for me. :) They are available in my etsy store.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Getting Results...

Well, after the excitement of the snow on Sunday, life is very much back to usual this week. Back to the daily grind which includes work, rehearsals, and my daily workout on my Wii Fit. I have lost 4 kg since I started using it. I am hoping they will bring out some new software soon, as some of the activities are getting repetitive, but on the whole, it's great. The scoring system for everything, even Yoga poses, appeals to my competitive side, even if it's only myself I am competing against. I am especially proud of my perfect score in heading a soccer ball :) , but Jason beats me hands down in the slalom skiing. I am only 3 points off a perfect score in the advanced step aerobics, which combined with the rhythm boxing is my main aerobic workout.
I am also hoping to get some positive results with bead sales in the coming week. I put an orphan focal auction up on Just Beads yesterday, and I have several new sets that will be up there and on Etsy in the coming week.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A Sight Rarely Seen...

I am glad I wasn't feeling well enough to go to rehearsals this morning. I have had a lingering cold all week and I keep waking up with a nasty sore throat. Heading out in the pouring rain (with worse to come) and icy cold to attend a read-through of the script did not seem a great way to pave my way to a full recovery, and ensure I kept my voice for another week. So, I sent off a text message and snuggled in to enjoy another hour of warmth in bed.
After I had been up for awhile, for some reason I looked out through the curtains to see a very strange sight. Well, unusual, certainly, even if it is the middle of winter. It was snowing, quite steadily. They might call my neck of the woods 'The Dandenong Mountains', but there isn't anything terribly mountainous about them, and we very rarely get snow, even at the peak. And where I live (quite a bit lower) - well I haven't seen it in the 5 years or so since we moved here.
The ground was too warm for the snow to do more than melt as soon as it hit the ground, but it was still fun to stand on the verandah and watch it fall, surprisingly fast. And once I had retreated inside, away from the cold (I thought a mug of Chilli Hot Chocolate was in order!) I noticed that the snow was accumulating on the hills across the valley, so it even started to look like it was really snowing.
After a brief 15 min or so, the snow had turned to rain (and later, to hail) but it was fun while it lasted. What is is about snow falling that is so magical? I'd assume its because we never see it here, but I've heard of people who live in areas where it is common who still love to watch it fall. I found myself laughing for absolutely no reason while I watched. Ironically, Jason was in sunny Queensland while this was happening, but I took some video as proof of my own little winter wonderland today.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow, it's hard to believe we are three weeks into a new term, and I've been too crazy busy to blog even once.
I'm pleased to say I have continued to work out almost every day on the Wii Fit (Ive only missed 4 days in 5 weeks). I am really pleased I made that purchase... as a toy, I guess it's very expensive, but as a investment in my fitness, its' well worth the cost. About the same as a years gym membership, but I have never managed to go to the gym 6 days a week, even in the first flush of enthusiasm. And it is producing results.
I have also been continuing my tennis lessons, although the actual games didn't materialise. Unfortunately I don't have a team this season, so I am an emergency player and haven't been needed yet. The downside is, I payed my $110 membership fees so I could play - the upside is, more time to practice before having to face competition. I'm enjoying my lessons - I love learning to play, but I have a tendency to get very frustrated with myself if I don't perform to the standard I would like, so I doubt I'd still be feeling quite so positive after playing (and most probably losing :) ) my first real games. And it's quite entertaining to realise how contrary I am - unlike most players, my forehand sucks, but my backhand (to quote my coach) is 'poetry'. LOL Apparently it's highly amusing to see me run around a perfectly placed forehand ball so I can hit it backhand. *grin*
Rehearsals for Calamity Jane are going strong. It's going to be a great show. Gemma has worn the role of Calamity like a glove since the first rehearsal, and sounds amazing. The lengths to which we are being encouraged to take character development, even in the ensemble, will add a great deal of depth and the production team have some interesting ideas for direction and design. If you are a Melbournite, come along to the Whitehorse centre in Oct and see Calam in action!
I have managed to get some torching in this week, so I'll have some funky new sets to show later this week. They will be going up in my etsy store.
Tomorrow I am off to the opening of my friend Jennie's first solo art show. Check out her blog or website to see her contemporary figurative paintings.
I promise to have pics of shiny glass goodies next post!!

Friday, 11 July 2008

All Good Things...

...must come to the proverbial end. Unfortunately, this includes school holidays. :( It doesn't seem fair that even though we have had an unusually long term, we don't get a compensatory longer holiday. *pout* It has been relaxing however. I've been using the Wii Fit everyday and am actually making some progress, which is great. Its lot of fun too.... I haven't torched as much as I probably should have, but this break was all about recharging the batteries, and for some reason, that wasn't going to be at the torch this time round. I have a student tomorrow though - an official start to the new 'Flaming Hot Beadmaking Classes'. Next week is going to be crazy busy - not only am I back at work with a busy new term to get underway, but I have Calamity Jane rehearsals twice a week, and my first tennis game on wed. Plus my usual lesson. So next week, I'm out almost every night - that means I won't have time to get stressed, right? Right? *sigh*

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sweet & Sour

'Sweet & Sour' is the name of my new bead set up on Just Beads today, not the state of my life at the moment . :) Life has been pretty good this week. I'm on holidays, which was desperately needed - it's been a long and stressful term, and I finally got to meet my new niece yesterday. I've had a nasty cough for well over a month, and haven't wanted to risk passing it on, but I made up for it with lots of cuddle time yesterday.
I also started rehearsals for my new show, 'Calamity Jane' with Babirra Theatre Company on Monday night - I think it's going to be great. The director is a professional performer (he's in Guys and Dolls at the moment) so I'm guessing his expectations will be high, which means a tight show. The MD seems very particular too, which I appreciate, and they already have a full design and model for the set, which looks awesome.
Jason and I have also been on a bit of a shopping spree this week. He bought himself a GPS unit for the car, and I got a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit. I bought it as an exercise unit, but we have had fun playing the games all week too - and I've lost over 1 kg in 6 days, so that's a good start.
Now that I have finished uploading the new bead auction, I must get some work for school done though - I can't slack off everyday!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Almost Holidays

1 more day to go and then I get 2 weeks of comparative peace (no students at least, even though I have a pile of admin work to do). Jason and I are thinking of heading away for a few days, but as its the middle of winter, nothing has sounded terribly appealing so far. We are thinking of spending the money a hotel or B&B would have cost, and doing day trips into the city - maybe go and see Wicked one evening, go to the markets or do a food tour or something during the day - basically play tourist in our own city.
So, I just need to survive one more day without murdering any of my students, and then I can spend some time having fun, and the rest at the torch stocking up on new bead sets! Speaking of which, here is my latest offerring on Etsy, Mauve Garden.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Back in the Market

I have been waiting for the magazine article to come out to launch back into internet sales, hoping to use my website as my main venue, rather than auction sites etc. My wonderful brother has been working hard to help me get my online shop working, but as there have been some unforseen delays I was given the idea (thanks Suzy!) of using an Etsy 'mini' on my webpage as a sales portal. So, for now, my new beads are going up in my Etsy store, and they can be seen there, or the top 15 are visible on my webpage. I'm also going to pop the small Etsy window back in my blog sidebar.
Here are a couple of new sets which are up on Etsy at the moment (edited to add: Well they were, the purple ones have sold already!)...

Monday, 16 June 2008

It's Finally here...

My Artists's Profile in the Creative Beading magazine finally came out this week. It is very exciting, not only to have work published for the 2nd time this year, but to have a 4 page magazine spread is more than I could have hoped for. The article looks great, I am thrilled with how it has turned out. Depsite finding some of their editorial decisions a little odd, its still a great article, and I cant stop grinning whenever I think about it. My new online shop should be up and running in the next week or so too, so guess I better get torching!!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

General Ramblings...

It's a bit of a shame when you are too buy living life to blog about it. :) Life continues to be hectic - I think it's a permanent state of affairs now, and I just need to adjust.
I have managed to fit in a tiny amount of torching, since the kiln was fixed, but I don't have a whole lot to show for it yet. I did take some quick snaps yesterday - not my proper photos, but as it's so long since I've posted any, I will put some up over the next few days. I think today I'll start with a floral focal I have made this week. Florals aren't really my thing, but I'm quite happy with this one. And I love the shape. It's hard to describe - its the shape I generally use for my aquarium beads. I start with a large barrel bead, and use my BBQ style lentil mashers to slightly press it in 2 directions - which makes a sort of square, but with curved sides.
On a totally different note, a dear friend sent me a cute email this week, filled with photos of baby pandas. Very cute pics, which I had originally seen a few years ago (I think all those babies are probably quite grown up now). But they reminded me of a video I found when I was originally exploring the site for this Panda breeding centre in China. Check out this video - it's a series of outtakes from a news report at the centre. Very funny, and very cute - you'll find the link over on the right of the page, under the image...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

In need of a good laugh...

Tonight was a very good night to be off to a comedy club. Usually I wouldn't be too thrilled about heading into town on a weeknight, but my lovely friend Jennifer got us great cheap tickets to see the comedian Jimeoin, and he was only on one night. But despite being in a rush after getting caught late at work, it was very good timing.
I came home stressed, in a major way. Planning the reporting structure for the new education project I am currently working on has proved problematic, and the deadline is getting closer and closer. I came home with a tension headache, a rare occurrence, and generally in a pretty filthy mood. Stress will do that to you.
So, the timing of my midweek outing seemed fortuitous after all. We headed off to the Comic's Lounge in North Melbourne. Unfortunately, dinner was a little disappointing, so we weren't off to a great start. The support lineup for the evening wasn't inspiring confidence either, as I had heard one of the comedians before, and his humour wasn't to my taste. Filthy language, with no high quality humour to redeem the routine. Luckily, tonight he seemed to raise the bar, and had me laughing aloud.
Aussie's seem to have a huge soft spot for the Irish. And somehow we seem to attract a lot of Irish comedians. I have only seen live comedy a handful of times, and almost every time, I would find an Irish comedian on the bill. Tonight we had 2, the headliner, and another comedian who was a more recent arrival to our fair shores. He was the MC for the evening, and despite being a little stilted occasionally, was good value in the laughs department. The final support act, a young Indonesian guy, made me uncomfortable much more than he made me laugh. He seemed to be under the impression that because he was Asian, it was acceptable to make any number of very non-PC, racist jokes about Asians.
Jimeoin was on last, naturally, and his set was worth the wait. he had me in hysterics on several occasions, and after a week off sick with a cough, amongst other things, I was soon regretting having forgotten my asthma inhaler. It was a great night and just what I need to release the tensions I had acquired during the day. I think we all need to periodically let loose with some genuine belly laughs - it's good for the soul! :)
I'll leave you with a snippit of Jimeoin thanks to the magic of youtube. Laugh it up!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Back in the Land of the Living...almost.

I feel like I fell off the planet for awhile last week. It's been a very long time since I let illness knock me for a six like that. Basically my throat felt a bit tight on Monday night, and then it was all suddenly very downhill from there. I had the rest of the week off, and my impression of a vegetable continued throughout most of the weekend, although I did finally find some time to torch. I literally only left the house to go to the Dr's on Wednesday night, so heading out to work today felt quite weird. I was worried about the freezing cold I've heard about all week, so I rugged up, even dragging a scarf out for the first time this winter. And I sweltered all day - what the heck is it with Melbourne's weather? Not that I'm complaining, as at least I didn't freeze on yard duty at recess and lunchtime.
Hopefully I will have some new bead pics up later in the week. Now my kiln is back up and working, I'm trying to build up some new stock to have in my new online store (to be unveiled shortly!) when the magazine profile comes out.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Approaching normal...

Another show is under my belt now, and life is starting to return to normal. Jason is home (yay!) and I am looking forward to some relaxing evenings spent at home this week. Not yet though - tonight is open night at school, so we are talking about a 14 hour day or there-abouts. I am just having a dinner break before the hordes arrive. I am the official photographer this evening, so I get to flit about and see what everyone is up to. :)
Hopefully my kiln will be fixed tomorrow. I haven't had time to drive to Clayton to pick up the digital controller, but Jason is going to get it tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be up and running by wed. I really need to torch - it's been weeks and weeks. And the magazine release date is getting closer - I'd like to have some new stock ready by then. In my new online shop - yep, that's coming soon too, I'll post a link when it's done ( a big thanks to my DB for helping with the shop in a big way!).
I'm also looking forward to my tennis lesson this week. I have only had one group lesson since before the holidays, and the competition starts in July, so I really need some practice. I'd post a pic of me with my new racket, but I don't want to blind you. It's fleuro orange. I kid you not, I swear it glows in the dark. Maybe it will give me an unfair advantage, as my opponents are temporarily stunned by the intensity of my racket? Hmm, unlikely, but one can always hope....

Monday, 5 May 2008

As promised...

Here is a pic of my masquerade mask...

It was lots of fun playing with my facepaints and glitter again. I wish I had more excuses to use them. Actually, I really wish I had an excuse to buy the palette of pearl colours that Grimas has available. *swoon* They look like fun!! Actually they are cheaper than I remembered..maybe I will treat myself.

Anyway, life is still down to work and rehearsals at the moment. Hopefully next week Ill get some torching done and have some glassy goodness to share.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Carry on a conversation

Life has been hectic again lately. Maybe it's just as well - I'm too busy at the moment to lament the fact that I am home alone and my kiln is still not working. But, some good news on that front at least - my digital controller has been fixed, I just need to find time to pick it up, then get it reinstalled. I foolishly got the electrician to show Jase how to put it back together, instead of me. So now I have to wait a week. It's a moot point anyway - there is now way I will have time to torch this week.
Tonight I am off to a Masquerade party - Happy Birthday Nyree!, and instead of making my mask, as I had planned, I've decided to play with my lovely theatre face paints and paint it on. I'll post some pics next week. Maybe :) .
Then basically its rehearsals every day this week till we open on Thursday, and then all the performances of course. So, no free time for this little black duck. Poor Merlin wont know what has hit him this week, with no one home during the day, or at night.
On top of all that, I am trying to get back into both my blog writing and reading - especially in the education blogosphere. As a timely aid to that end, there is a 31 day commenting challenge on at the moment. It was started for edubloggers, but has sort of spilled out into the wider community, so feel free to participate if you are interested in becoming a better blogging citizen.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Twilight Zone moments...

Things have been quiet around here lately. Well, as far as having interesting things to talk about goes. In actuality its been crazy at my place for the last few weeks. Jason has been working almost everyday, which is unusual in itself (and has meant I've actually had to cook dinner every now and again! *gasp*), and I have been crazy busy with work and rehearsals. Only 2 weeks till we open, which after last nights rehearsal, is a very scary thought. Add in all Jason's SCA training, some tennis lesson (yes, I've taken up tennis), an overnight Professional Development training and the odd day of weekend work for Jason as well, and we have been the proverbial ships passing in the night. My kiln has also been broken for 3 weeks, so no new pretties to show off (and the timing sucks, as the magazine article comes out in a couple of weeks). By now you are probably wondering why the twilight zone was mentioned in the post title. I had the strangest couple of coincidences occur at the PD yesterday. Seriously weird.
There were about 74 teachers at this workshop, and in the afternoon, we were asked to pair and share something we had been working on. A young lady asks me if I'm working with anyone, and she explains that she was a student at the school I teach at. So, I check her name badge, to see where she teaches at, and lo and behold - she works at the school that I went to. Weird. So, we then wasted a good 10 minutes wandering down memory lane and seeing what teachers were still around.
At the end of the day, on the way home, I'm waiting in the car park to get my keys from the attendant. Another lady is waiting also - one that I had sat next to twice that day. She grabs her keys and walks off, I follow shortly after. "Your car is the last on the right" he says. As I walk through the car park, I see my car ahead, and realise its on the left, not the right. I think disparaging thoughts about the attendant and his ability to identify left and right, heading towards 'my' car. Only to see the door open, and the other lady hop in. *huh?* She points across the car park "Yours is over there". On the right. We had the same model and colour. And that is actually pretty unusual, as its not silver, or white or something, but an odd reddish tan colour, which I've only ever seen on that model car. As she drives out past me, I notice her car is also missing the rubber strip on the door, as is mine. Just weird.
Just to continue the theme of coincidences, I stopped in a fast food place on the way home to use the loo, and another car of the same make and model was parked behind me. Honestly, they are not that common...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Where to put the beads?

The Flaming Hot topic for this week is asking 'What does your website do for you?'. That's interesting timing, as I am in a quandary at the moment about my options regarding my best online selling venue.
My website has not worked particularly hard for me so far. I have received a few queries from it, particularly for my historical beads, but no sales from the jewellery available there.
Because I don't make beads full time, it's sometimes difficult to divide my work between the various venues, as I don't make enough to keep them all stocked. So, I chose a while ago not to sell loose beads on my website, as Just Beads was working better for me. Unfortunately, it has not been selling well at all this year, and I haven't had anything up there for awhile - I've been paying auction fees for nothing. So, do I put the sets I have up on my website, or in my Etsy store? Or do I make it into jewellery and sell it to friends and colleagues? That used to work well for me, but I have dropped the jewellery making way back, as I didn't have enough beads for both.
Next month I am going to be the featured artist in one of Australia's major beading magazines. I am hoping that will get a lot more local attention to my website (currently 99% of my customers are from the USA), so I am leaning towards putting the bead sets up there. Perhaps I should get a proper online store organised before then? Do you think people are more likely to buy if they can just click a button, rather than email you?
So, while my website might not have been earning it's keep so far, I'm hopeful that things can improve? What other suggestions do people have? Any feedback on my current site?
On a slightly different note, as I havent posted any eye candy in a while, here is a photo of a bracelet I made for a friends birthday last week.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Inspiring Entertainment

Last Friday night I went to see the latest show by new Melbourne theatre company PEP Productions. This is the third show of theirs that I have seen (well, actually, it's their third show :) ) and yet again they hit a home run, in my opinion. As someone who also performs in Musical Theatre, I can be a critical audience member. I notice the details like performers who pull your attention, people who don't hold a freeze, errors with lyrics or dance steps etc. I just cant help myself.
Having said that, I must go on to say that very little of that nature caught my attention. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was one of the best amateur shows I have ever seen. Overall, the cast performed in a very professional way, and while there will always be variances in the quality of individual performances, I was consistently impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail of the entire cast. The sound quality was excellent - both in the vocal performances, and the technical quality.
While I personally enjoy performing in concert/cabaret style shows as much as full musicals, I know that it can often be difficult to fully express a character when a song is taken out of context. That is one of the areas that I found PEP performed extremely well. In every number, the cast was committed to the current character and performing with 100% of their energy.
Whilst there were some numbers that did not personally appeal to my taste, I was not disappointed in the performance quality of any of them.
Thanks to the cast of 'A PEP Perspective' for helping me spend a highly entertaining evening (and forgetting a very stressful day).

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

It's Nice to Be Noticed...

I've been in a bit of a creative slump lately, as I've mentioned. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be ending any time soon. As Festival is only a month away, I will need to get started on some historical beads to sell on Market day, and a new project for the Arts & Sciences competition. So, hopefully that will get me started again at the torch. In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on my first publication... yep, I have some beads in print!
I was very excited to be included in the annual 'Women in Glass' edition of The Flow magazine, although I have to admit my enthusiasm waned slightly when I realised that all entries were accepted, if their photos were of good quality. I am still looking forward to seeing my work in print (hopefully my free copy is winging its way towards me as we speak) but obviously it means more to be individually selected. Which is the point of this post...
Last week one of my forum friends recognised the work of quite a few of my circle of friends in the new banner advertisement on Lampwork Etc for 'The Flow'. So even though I was one one of hundreds accepted for that edition of the magazine - from those hundreds they chose to use my beads for an advertisement. So, that gives me even more of a buzz than the magazine - Is that silly?

(Mine are the flame beads!)

Sunday, 17 February 2008

My Funny Valentine's... Day

Thursday was an interesting day here. Actually, this whole week has been a little topsy turvy, especially at work. I've only had 2 normal days of school this week, due to interschool sports, industrial action and the school swimming carnival. So, Thursday was the Strike Day. I have recently rejoined the union, after returning to the classroom, so it's been a few years since I've been out on strike. And for some unfathomable reason, I've never been to the rally. I'm not sure why - it makes no sense to me now. Not much point losing a days pay if you don't get 'counted' per se - it's the media coverage of the rally that gets peoples attention.

Anyway, for whatever reason, it was my first strike rally (although not the first time I had marched on Parliament House - but that's another story). All I can say is Wow. The atmosphere at something like that is really amazing. The adrenalin must have given me energy - I was running all over Vodaphone arena catching up with colleagues from previous schools, and I didn't feel a thing (until the next day, when I could barely walk downstairs *gulp*). Anyway, 10,000 people together, with a common goal, is quite an amazing thing.

10,000 people - and another 600 in the foyer who couldn't fit in - amazing!

The rally ends on the steps of Parliament House...
After the rally, and some lunch, I took some time to wander around the city, as I havent been in town for years, and spent a frustrating hour in Allan's music choosing new audition material. *ugh*. Then it was time to head home on the train, via Museum station.

I just love this image of the shot tower under the glass roof....

That evening, Jason and I drove down to Mornington to watch the sunset on the beach, and have Fish & Chips for dinner. We used to do that years ago, when we were engaged. We weren't sure the weather was going to cooperate, but in the end it was lovely. My new 'go anywhere' digital camera (saves me lugging the SLR around everywhere) didn't cope terribly well with the darkness, so these are a little blurry, but the colours are lovely. What I wouldn't give to be able to get that gradient of colour on a bead...

Mmmm, fresh Fish and Chips on the beach.

The changing colours - a lovely end to a hectic day.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A Long Time Coming...

Today is an important day in Australian history - or I believe we will look back and see it as such. Today, in the first day of Parliament for the year, our government made an official apology to the 'Stolen Generations', Indigenous people who were taken from their families throughout the 20th Century. The broadcast can be viewed at the Live Broadcasting site and the report 'Bringing Them Home' is also available. Some personal Oral Histories of members of the Stolen Generation can be found at The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission site.
Hopefully, this day will mark a significant improvement in relations between Indigenous people and the rest of Australia, as long as it becomes more than just words, and that the statements and promises made today are fulfilled. The speeches were very moving, but will only be useful if they prove to me more than just words of political expediency.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Spring is in air...

...well, it's on its way in the US anyway. As most of my sales are online to customers in the United States, I usually try and use colours that match their upcoming season. That, and the inclusion of some lucsious pinks in my recent glass order, has had me on a bit of a pink fix this week. So, new auctions today are 'Strawberry Ice-cream' and 'Pink Petal Power'.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Bringing back memories...

This YouTube video was posted on one of the bead forums this morning. I found it highly entertaining - not just for the content, but because of the memories it evoked.
When I was in High School, at the end of my final year, my Drama class went on a tour of northern Victoria. We travelled to country schools, performing our play to the students, sleeping in the gym at night and cooking dinner in the Home Eco rooms. It was a fun week.
When we had free time, we tended to undertake similar activities to those on the video - although on a much smaller scale, of course. One day we froze in the entrance foyer windows of the local Swimming Pool, and another day we pretended to run a Tai Chi class in the park.
The funniest activity I recall, however, was at the laundromat. A group of us had agreed, that if another customer came into the laundromat that we were using, then the group would freeze, aprt from one person (in this case, me) who would ignore them. So, we are all involved in doing our laundry, and a young guy approached the laundromat. Instantly, everyone freezes, and I continue on my way, walking around them, putting more coins in their machines where necessary, but in no way engaging with my co-conspirators or the young man. He stood there in bewilderment for awhile, obviously expecting everyone to move eventually, but after several minutes of what must have appeared as eery stillness (we were really quite good at this) he ran outside to get his friend. Of course, when he returned, dragging the friend with him, everyone was moving as usual, and we found the ensuiing argument quite amusing. Teenagers do have an evil sense of humour :)
Anyway, I found that video great fun, and a reminder of a time when if someone in my vicinity yelled out 'Dead Ant', I would drop to my back on the floor, waving my arms and legs in the air, regardless of my location and (almost) oblivious to the stares of onlookers. Aaahhh, good times!

Monday, 4 February 2008

'Spearmint Pastille's'

Well, just to keep the momentum up, these sparklies are up for grabs on JB in the morning. 'Spearmint Pastilles' were made using one of my new cattwalk presses I won in the fundraising auction at the ISGB Gathering last year. Just click to go to the auction.

Getting back in the groove!

Well, I sat down at the torch to play with the fabric ideas last night. As I didn't go to bed till 4 am on saturday night, my torch session didn't last long, but at least I had some play time. I'll post some photos later in the week. I also started working on some Angels for a custom order I need to get done this week. I also spent a lot of time yesterday photographing beads, editing photos and posting auctions, ready for this week. So stay tuned for a range of new sets from me up on Just Beads this week. Starting up the week, two new sets - 'Red Frenzy' and 'Bonbon Delights'.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Maybe it's all about me...?

As I have mentioned, I have been in a bit of a creative rut lately. I'm struggling when I try and torch, and my intention to get a backlog of sets to auction while I get back into the swing of things at work hasn't panned out. I have at least had some other creative outlets lately. After a gap of almost 2 years, I have a concert coming up with my theatre company. We perform this Friday and Saturday, so this week has been full of rehearsals and such, and there has been no time to torch.
I went shopping the other day, and bought several new tops for work. While I was ironing and getting everything ready, I started to think about the patterns and colours, and wondered if perhaps what I need to get out of my slump was to stop thinking of auctions, and make jewellery for me. I very rarely make something for me, with the intention of keeping it. I sometimes start wearing something I had intended to sell, but I almost never plan beads or jewellery just for me. It's actually one of my worst flaws when it comes to marketing my work - I have very few of my own creations to wear.
So, I took some photographic 'swatches' of the designs on some of my tops. Taken out of context like this, I think they are very interesting - hopefully interesting enough to spark some creativity and return my muse.
So, what do you think? Will they get the creative juices flowing?