Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Triple strand pearl bracelet

A couple years ago, I bought some chocolate-caramel-coloured pearl drops, made a three-strand bracelet with them, a few cream-colored coin pearls and smoky taupe crystals, and submitted it (along with many other jewelry pieces) to BeadStyle magazine in hopes they'd want to print it. Well, they wanted to print it! A few months ago, the special Pearl issue contained this bracelet.

Rarely do I repeat a design, but after seeing my Chocolate Caramel bracelet in print, I made a similar bracelet, substituting purple pearls for the caramel, and pink dyed 'jade' ovals for the coin pearls.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Host a Virtual Party and earn FREE Jewelry!

Ever thought of hosting a jewelry party in your home? Not sure you have the time to cook, clean and get all your busy friends together at once? Problem solved. Have a Virtual Party with Bright Circle Jewelry. It's simple, fun and has great perks!

As the hostess all you have to do is invite your friends, family and coworkers to shop at their leisure and enjoy a surprise gift and free shipping on their order. I will provide you an email invitation with a 7 day shopping period of your choosing. Simply add a personal message and pass it along to everyone you know. The email will contain a link to my store and directions to redeem the free gift and shipping offer.

When your friends enter the code on the invitation at checkout, I will know that it was you who referred them. At the end of the week, I'll tally up the sales from your party and reward you with 20% of the total retail sales (before shipping) in store credit to use in my store!
There are other great incentives, contact me at bright.circle@yahoo.com for more details.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fun with collage cuffs!

I've done a fair bit of teaching beading classes at the local bead shop. One of my favourite classes to teach was the 'Wire Collage Cuff'; a simple wire cuff frame containing a wonderful assortment of any beads of your choosing. Making them was always very freeing.

The first one I made was a light-feeling cuff that looked like scarlet threads crisscrossing the wrist, on a zig-zagged frame.

The second used a straight frame and a big focal bead amongst blue tones mixed with dark steel and a touch of orange.
My most recent cuff I call 'Hard Candy'. Using a mix of bright orange and hot pink glass, it's my favourite version so far.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

As promised, the tale of the swiss cheese washer!

Sometimes, our treasured possessions really DO go through adventures of their own.

Several months ago, I made a bracelet with rock crystal drops, frosted glass, and a single crystal inside a silver washer with swiss-cheese holes in it. I loved that washer, and it had taken me a while to design something good with it, worthy of it but that I also liked to wear. This seemed the perfect design.

And then I lost it. Upon coming back home one day, I discovered the absence of my favourite bracelet. I was vaguely certain that I must have left it at the art gallery, perhaps in secret repose behind the aloe plant under the window, to be carried off by a mystified attendee and I would never see it again. I sighed and accepted the loss.

A few days ago on a rainy afternoon, I was bringing groceries in from the car. I happened to look down as I opened the passenger door, and saw the unmistakable shape of the silver washer gleaming up from the slightly-muddy gravel of the driveway! I bent down and fished it out, reclaiming a few stray quartz beads lying around the washer as well.

Instead of accidentally leaving it somewhere, the bracelet must have fallen out of the car (or my pocket) at some point after coming home from the art gallery, where it stayed for the next few months. The bracelet had evidently been driven over countless times during the months it laid on the driveway--the thread was long since broken, most of the rock crystal beads gone, and the silver centerpiece warped and scratched. But you know what? I hardly even cared, I was just so happy to have it back.

You know what else? The warping was kind of neat, lending the washer a new, organic feel instead of the slick, space-age look it had before. The scratches were less desirable, but the idea of organic inspired me to reclaim my washer by texturing it with a ball peen hammer! The hammered finish removes any evidence of previous scratches, and transforms the washer into an earthy pendant wonderful for layering or combining with other small flat objects.

Below, I combined it with another, smaller hammered washer in copper, and a sterling silver Maltese Iron Cross charm.
I hope to recreate the original bracelet someday, especially now that I know where to get more of these washers. But I'm also glad for having lost and found it, for without that experience, I might not have thought to to hammer it, or brave enough to try.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inspired by the runway

Sometimes I like to watch a bit of Project Runway, hoping for some inspiration as well as armchair critiquing of the designs themselves (not to mention Tim Gunn's motherly "make it work, designers"). But today my inspiration came, not from the runway fashions, but from the designers themselves. Mila was preparing for her show at Bryant Park, wearing a long necklace of a rectangle with fringe coming off the bottom. I was immediately struck by a desire to make a necklace similar to hers! I had no idea what her necklace was made of or how it was constructed, but I knew just how I'd make mine--in chainmail, with chain fringe. So here it is, my necklace inspired by Mila's, but designed by me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trading with sparklingshamrock

The Beaducation booth at the Bead & Button show allowed me to play with their metal stamping supplies, and I went home with not only a new (free) component, but a desire to begin stamping metal of my own!
Last week I started making my desire a reality, trading with Etsy seller SparklingShamrock. She got a green crystal ring and a Dragon King shimmerstone from my shop, and I got some metal stamps, copper washers, hole punching pliers, silver charms and a blank copper dog tag from hers. I made my first stamped pendant as soon as I could, inscribing the word 'BOLD' on the tag. I've been a fearful, cautious person in the past, but this word reminds me to be a person who is bold enough to make mistakes, bold enough to take the risks that lead to success.

The  pendant layers perfectly with other small or flat jewelry. Here, I combined it with the tiny Maltese Iron Cross charm from sparklingshamrock, and a hammered sterling washer with holes from my personal collection. That washer has a story of its own, but that's for tomorrow's entry. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The party starts tomorrow!

Yay! The online Bright Circle Jewelry party starts tomorrow! Seven days of shopping, freebies and perks are about to start!

Remember to RSVP in order to attend by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook fan page with your Etsy account name. If you're not yet registered with Etsy.com, it's free and easy to sign up. On Saturday, August 21, I will send your Etsy account a 'conversation', (sort of like Etsy's internal email system) containing a coupon code . When you make a purchase, enter that code in the 'notes to seller' box during checkout to receive a FREE* pair of earrings and FREE* shipping with every order total. You must RSVP in order to attend, but an RSVP is not a commitment to buy!

I promised you a pair of free earrings with purchase, and here's a preview of the free earrings you could be getting!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's to my favourite Etsy team!

I'm not much of a joiner, but the Tradeholics team is one of the best on Etsy, and I love to trade so you can bet I'm a member!
It's one of the best teams on Etsy, I think. Very easygoing, inclusive, supportive and FUN! They have monthly 'trading parties'--and you don't have to be a team member to participate!
The most recent trading party (called a Trade and Stay, or Trading Frenzy) saw me making three trades with team members!

PeculiarParchment (a seemingly tireless team leader) traded some of her 2x2 notecards in exchange for a pair of my blue shimmerstone earrings, very similar to the ones below.

 I've previously traded with TheHappySoul for some wonderful  massage/bath oil, so this time she traded one of her custom salt scrubs in amber & sandalwood (to go with my bath oil) for a hand-drawn, one of a kind art journal from my ParadoxMoxie shop.

 BragginRightsBath has a cool line of 'whipped body butters' that I've been wanting to try for a while. They feel AMAZING, not at all like lotion and they literally melt right into your skin! The scents are divine too.
So we traded. She traded a set of mini body butters in Sex on the Beach, Coconut Almond and Sweet & Sexy for my Desert Nectar anklet.

If you're interested in trading, hanging out or joining the team, visit these sites to get a feel for the team:
Etsy Traders blog lists the current team members and what each has to trade, the Tradeaholics forum team thread where traders come to chat about their lives, their shops and team news (members and non-members alike are welcome), and the hub of the team is the Tradeaholics Ning site, which is where you get all the news, links to trading threads, party dates and monthly design challenges. You can also run an Etsy search for 'team trade on' to find an ever-changing array of items up for trade.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Even jewelry gets a makeover sometimes!

Sometimes when I make jewelry, I won't be quite satisfied with it, but I'll keep it anyway. My idea of 'not quite there' may be another's idea of 'just right', so I'll put it away. Sometimes I come back to it with a brilliant idea to make over the piece.

This simple bracelet started as just turquoise coin beads connected by the big silver rings, but it seemed too plain. When makeover time came, I put blue pearls into the silver rings, added a ceramic blue bead from Kazuri, and a neck strap of mint-coloured silk, plus a removable bow of silk.
The finished necklace bears little resemblance to the original plain bracelet!

I had a hexagonal rose quartz pendant that I treasured, but couldn't quite place in the right design. I thought I found one with the necklace to the right, mixing bits of byzantine chainmail with the softness of braided silk side straps, but something didn't feel right, so I took the whole necklace apart. And it wasn't very painful to do, so that's partly how I knew I was doing the right thing.

The rose quartz pendant ended up inside a hammered wire circle, suspended by wisps of pale pink ribbon and strands of gleaming silver chain--just light enough to not overwhelm the beauty of the pendant, and just substantial enough to unify the necklace.
The silk braids ended up in the asymmetrical necklace below, the pair of them balancing multiple silver chains on the other side. The pink silk helps to bring together all the different shades and finishes of pink and peach dangling from the handmade links of the larger chain and front toggle clasp. This is a prime example of all the elements coming together perfectly in a necklace!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Months later, I'm still thinking about this one song

Even though the song was popular several months ago, something about Taylor Swift's 'Fifteen' really hits an emotional nerve in me, and not in a good way.

It's this song that's supposed to resonate with American girls everywhere, and though there are countless songs to which I can't really relate, this one is the ultimate example. It bothers me more than her more stylized 'Love Story' because it rings so true. So true to all the books I read, about girls who felt different, and/or supposedly were 'weird and unpopular' (yet somehow all of them went to some kind of traditional school and had at least two friends who they saw on a near-daily basis). Not true to ANY of the life I've known. I've always lived outside that social construct, never spent enough time with anyone of my own who did, to really believe in it as anything other than mostly fiction.

Taylor Swift's music is supposed to be appealing because it's so relatable, so fresh and honest, yet 'Fifteen'  seems to be peddling the Hollywood idea of young adulthood which I've always believed is mostly a myth.
And all the logic, protestations, internet ridicule for 'expecting the world to be all about me' or explanations that I'm really not missing much, are missing the point and don't make me feel any better about the song. This song brings into sharp emotional focus, how I feel about this young adult world: what bothers me is not that I never got to experience these things, but I never had the choice, or the chance to find out if what's written in the song is remotely realistic.


You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It's the morning of your very first day
You say "Hi" to your friends you ain't seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody's way
It's your freshman year and you're gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know I haven't seen you around, before"
 (Among many things I don't regret, never having had a 'first day of school' is one of them. Never had 'friends' I saw more than a few times a year. Never had groups of boys to have a nervous hopeful feeling about, either. This last may or may not be a good thing.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen
Feeling like there's nothing to figure out
Well count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you're gonna be
(By 'someone' I think she means 'boys' and boy did I never have a boy tell me he loved me at fifteen. Still haven't, and probably never will. I'm not lamenting, it's just how it is.)

You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you're best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they're so cool
We'll be out of here as soon as we can
And then you're on your very first date and he's got a car
And you're feeling like flying
And your momma's waiting up and you think he's the one
And you're dancing round your room when the night ends
When the night ends
(Best friends as opposed to what? No friends? I have never been able to comprehend the idea of having more than one friend; it was the realm of books and movies which we all know, are the prettified version of life. In books, if you're lucky, you have 'only' five friends you see on a regular basis. In what I've understood as real life, you're lucky if you have one friend you see more than three times a year. And the description of the 'first date' sounds like a complete and total fantasy, a myth invented by the media to sell to love-hungry teenagers longing for more than their lonely life. Sincerely, what fifteen-year-old boy actually has a car these days, and since when do girls actually dance around their rooms after going out with one? Classic Hollywood movie material to be sure, but that doesn't mean it happens often.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin round but
In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy of the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen
(Never had a first kiss and never have had dreams of dating football boys. But I bet REAL first kisses are usually highly awkward and vaguely embarrassing affairs, not wonderful ones.)

When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now
Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried
(Ok, wanting to feel wanted by people who don't have to love me has been a huge problem for me lately, so I'll give the song that one first line. But the marriage bit really bugs me. Bigger dreams than marriage, huh? It's a prime example of this idiotic culture, which deifies romantic love yet devalues marriage as something a woman does if she has nothing more important to do--like have a career. As for best friend Abigail, one would think that a writer who seems to trivialize marriage, would have a similar attitude about sexual purity instead of describing it as 'everything she had'. Or maybe that's how Abigail saw it, but if that's the case, it's muddled writing.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall
Ive found that time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you're supposed to be
I didn't know who I was supposed to be at fifteen
(I can't even begin to comprehend this chorus. I'm sure it's full of great and specific meaning to  the person who wrote it, but to me, it's a bunch of  emotional gobbledygook. I think I had a better idea of who I was supposed to be at fifteen than I do now, and years of time haven't healed what really needs healing.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Creative solutions in beading

Sometimes I get set in my thinking, imprisoned by expectations about how a piece of jewelry 'should' look. I'm working on a necklace or bracelet or something, and I realize that it needs something that I inevitably, don't have, like a big fancy clasp or a certain kind of bead. And since we're all trying to spend less these days, I don't just go out and buy it. But occasionally, my creative process manages to muscle its way past the 'gag reflex' of preconceived notions of what's 'supposed to happen', and that's when magic can happen.

I once made an asymmetrical necklace design using multiple strands of quartz crystal connecting to a single strand of larger crystal beads, by what was a large round clasp as a focal point in the original design.  Well, I didn't have a large round clasp, and the clasp I substituted wasn't working as the focal. Then I realized, the necklace doesn't need a large round CLASP, just a large round ELEMENT to be the focal point! So I pulled out a frosted black glass ring to contrast with all that icy quartz.

Another time, I had some leftover beads strung, but it wasn't long enough to be a whole bracelet. Instead of letting it sit in my 'unfinished jewelry' drawer for months or years, waiting for inspiration to strike, I had inspiration just then: I attached a large double spiral in wire to each end, with a matching clasp end hooking to one side!

A few nights ago, I pulled out some beads that had slightly broken tops. I'd been intending to stitch some beaded bead caps to cover the broken bits and make them usable. They'd been sitting in my drawer for a while because I don't LIKE beaded caps; they're much more bother than they should be, and I'm rarely quite happy with the result. Suddenly inspiration hit: instead of gluing a tiresome beaded cap onto the bead, I could glue on bits of chain wrapped around the top! Much more elegant and far simpler than messing around with bead pattern decreases.

Mark your calendars!

Bright Circle Jewelry is having an online jewelry party that you can attend no matter where in the world you live! Join me for 7 days of shopping fun filled with freebies and perks galore! The party starts Sunday August 22 and ends Saturday night August 28 (11:59 pm, to be exact). You'll have all week to shop at your convenience!

This isn't just any party either; it's an exclusive party to which only my fans (that's you) are invited. There are many ways of becoming a Bright Circle fan: subscribe to my blog The Beaded Passion, 'like' Bright Circle Jewelry on Facebook, watch Bright-Circle on DeviantArt or email bright.circle@yahoo.com to become a member of my mailing list.

To attend, please RSVP before the 22nd by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook fan page with your Etsy account name. If you're not yet registered with Etsy.com, it's free and easy to sign up. On Saturday, August 21, I will send your Etsy account a 'conversation', (sort of like Etsy's internal email system) containing a coupon code . When you make a purchase, enter that code in the 'notes to seller' box during checkout to receive a FREE* pair of earrings and FREE* shipping with every order total. You must RSVP in order to attend, but an RSVP is not a commitment to buy!

There's more! Every item you purchase gives you an entry in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Bright Circle Jewelry. The more items you buy, the greater your chances of winning! Additionally, the first customer of each day, Sunday through Saturday, will be sent a code to redeem for up to $15 of free jewelry!

Lastly, if you want to enjoy even MORE freebies, ask me about hosting a party for Bright Circle Jewelry; it's free and easy!
*Free via paypal refund after purchase

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fleeting kisses and permanent ink

Sometimes I wonder if the decision to have a series of dating relationships is kind of like the decision to get a tattoo. Whatever design I might get tattooed on me now, that mark of what once seemed so profound would probably mean little to me five years from now, but it'd be with me for the rest of my life. Like turning a kaleidoscope, you just can't find that bit of red glass among the shards anymore.

And a series of dating relationships wherein neither party has a structured plan where they want the relationship to go (no, 'as far as she'll let me' or even 'as far as it'll go' does not count) seems ultimately meaningless when I think about the likelihood of the permanence of most such relationships. People go out with people who aren't good for them or end in the proverbial 'heartbreak' of song and story, five or ten years later they're shaking their heads and wondering what they were thinking. I mean, how many people actually are still with their high school boyfriends? (Yes, I know some people still are. The exception that proves the rule.) I could never understand why people would ever have that kind of 'whatever comes' relationship with no real end goal in mind.

Some time ago, I read a book on tattoo culture in which several people talked about their countless tattoos. One of the men explained that he has no regrets about any of his tattoos, for he tattoos his body to chronicle his life, not make a mark that means the same thing ten years down the road. It doesn't matter that he's not still with his then-girlfriend 'Ash' or that the compass he once thought such a powerful symbol now might seem trite. It was all a part of his life, part of who he was, and who he was made him who he is today.

While I'm still not rushing out to get that 'bold enough to make mistakes' tattoo, I understand better why some people ink their bodies forever, to commemorate an oft-fleeting mindset. And if that is anything like why people so frequently have a fancy-free dating mindset, then I understand the reasoning a little better.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Long, lean, sleek wraparound jewelry style! What do you think?

These pictures are some of what I did today, and all represent a new style I'm trying out. The concept is simple: one long, long strand of smallish beads which can be worn wrapped around the wrist, neck or ankle (I'm sure it works with hair too). I made the silver version first. It's 2.5mm rounds spaced with tiny sterling bugle beads, and measures a whopping 71 inches long.

Shorter is the second version to the left, using the same bugles, plus 5mm silver rounds and tiny lapis beads.  There's also a detachable silver pendant which slides on and off.

Then I did a sleek modern version in the remaining silver bugles and matte black 11/o's. This version might be my favourite.

Lastly, I dressed up the concept using twisted gold bugle beads and freshwater pearls.

What do you think of the design? I ask for honest feedback, not a pat on the back. Is it cool, new and appealing? A little boring or complicated? Let me know!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ladykiller Lava

A while ago I had a dream about a vague design involving black lava spears, ruby red glass and chainmail. (It also involved Iron Man hanging naked from a helicopter doing something heroic, but let's not get distracted, shall we? Besides, it was from really far away so you can't really see anything in terms of nudity.) When I woke up I set to work figuring out the exact design, and this is what turned out. Slinky silver chainmail 'flames' set off by red glass drops and showcasing the inverted teardrop shape of the black lava beads. I love these beads, and have only a few of them left. Got two strands of them at a bead shop a few years ago, and haven't been able to find them since. Someday...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Southwestern Werewolf

Take your gaze off the alert-eyed bartender, look past the unkempt long-haired man-boy--you needn’t fear the shotgun he so casually carries. See the woman in the back of the bar, lazily drinking Jack Daniels in her charcoal jeans and silk top? Yeah, that’s her. She scans the place for two specific people, absentmindedly fingers the beads in her necklace given to her by friends. Turquoise to signify the land to which she is uniquely tied, pearls for transformation, and a mother-of-pearl disk that quietly proclaim to anyone in the know, that she is a werewolf.
Settling back, she awaits the arrival of the two hunters with whom she will meet…

Background drawing used with permission from Indigo Tallcake of Frackin' Hackeysack blog.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Paradigm shift

Despite a distaste for tragedy, a distrust of how romance is deified in Western culture, and a very limited understanding of medieval English rendered in iambic pentameter, I've always had a soft spot for Romeo and Juliet. And so last night I saw the last two thirds of the Romeo and Juliet movie they made in what, the mid 90s? The one where they keep the Shakespeare script but set the whole thing in 'Verona Beach', with practically-baby versions of Claire Danes and Leonardo Dicaprio, plus a very young Harold Perrineau (Michael from LOST) with dreads, and random other people.

The movie was excellent! The transplanted setting/time was interesting; how they dealt with keeping the lines the same while making it make sense in the modern setting. But ultimately, to have a good Shakespeare movie you need actors who are up to the job--and, to my surprise, they were! Claire Danes was fresh-faced and radiant; Juliet's lines of an enraptured teenager in love flowed so naturally that I hardly even noticed how convoluted the language was.

As for Dicaprio, well, I was astonished to find he could actually ACT back then. (It's a little strange to acknowledge it, because for years I have avoided his movies with the semi-unreasonable little-girl hatred of 'teen idols', ever since refusing to see Titanic.) Inception was the only of his movies I'd seen before Romeo and Juliet, and you can be sure it wasn't because he was in it. Yes, I was impressed by his ability in Inception, but I would think a man in his early 20s wouldn't be as good as he is in his mid-30s. How wrong I was. Even though I really do not care for his under-30 boy-face, eventually his passionate Romeo-ness won me over and I stopped noticing his face. Not only that, but he carried off all the screaming and crying and general carrying on that the play apparently demands (I guess I sorta thought that the sadness would be more sedate). I like the rare movie occasions upon which older men of the strong-and-usually-quiet type turn their faces to the sky and roar in grief, but never before have I seen such a young man make so much bloody NOISE in emotional duress without making me snarky and uncomfortably aware that it's all an act. I'd go on to say more stuff like how I felt real ravaging emotion emanating from this young man, ringing true right down to the undignified sniffling we all make after an energetic bout of crying... but my inner snobby ten-year-old is yelling at me that I just spent an entire long paragraph going on about Leonardo Dicaprio of all people, and how good he is at crying.

But I gotta speak the truth when I see it, and I saw a lot of truth last night.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thank You Courtney!

Courtney of Beads By Breul named The Beaded Passion as one of her top blogs! Thank you Courtney!
Here are the rules: 
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3.  Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fabulous
4.  Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award!

Ok, seven things about myself. 
1. Even though we all love to talk about ourselves and I'm no exception, I have difficulty coming up with lists like this on command--my semi-clever sound bites of self-description scatter like roaches trying to screw in a light bulb.
2. Having become a byword on certain internet forums, I've had a small taste of what it is to be famous.
3. I'm good at conversing with people of different age ranges, but not good at figuring out how old they are. I think it's because I was raised outside the school system that segregates people according to age.
4. For me, working out is a pleasure, not a chore, though I'm still no model of fitness.
5. I want a herkimer 'diamond' engagement ring and a wedding band tattooed onto my finger, but I don't expect to get married.
6. I cannot function without a 3x5 inch notebook/pad of paper with me at all times. This may be a sign I could use a PDA?
7. Despite #1, making lists is one of my favourite things to do.

Blogs: I'll bend the rules on this one a little--one or two of these I've been eyeing for years, and one or two would be not interested in/too busy for a meme like this, but here goes:
(of suicidal vacuum cleaners and espresso-scented madness)
(one of the most clever beaders on Etsy)
(where every necklace tells the story of a girl)
(the inner workings of the mind behind 'The Blue Sword')
(He calls himself 'just a geek' but I call him 'the Godfather of Geek')

These others I have most recently discovered, and though I haven't been reading them long enough to come up with clever descriptions, they each held my interest--a rare feat, for I'm super-picky about blogs.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ivory Diamond and Calibrated Cabs

I've recently made several 30mm premium shimmerstone cabochon. One of them was this ivory-sparkle cabochon. I surrounded it with a copper-lined AB Czech seed bead bezel and finished it with a right-angle weave bail.
I LOVE the premium shimmerstones! They're so easy to bead with, having a more shallow dome than the regular shimmerstones, and being uniform in size and shape I can glue them into findings instead of having to search for just the right size/shape. In fact, I'm seriously considering switching over entirely to the calibrated shimmerstones in my ParadoxMoxie supply shop, eventually phasing out the uncalibrated kind except by special request.

In fact, if I were to switch entirely to premium shimmerstones, that would mean a wider selection of sizes and shapes--ovals, rounds, teardrops, sometimes even fancier shapes such as diamonds, squares and hearts!
Ok, I've convinced myself. I'm going to do it!

Audition day

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3:30 am to get ready, check out and drive to the Izod center to be there by 5. The TV types who run the show want good crowd shots of all the hopefuls waiting in the gradually lightening morning, practicing their songs to the delight of all, and generally being excited when a camera rolled by.  Me, I sat as long as I could, reading a novel until the crowd was let in around 8. If the photo to the left were bigger, you might see me sitting about eight feet higher up the grass, on the cement block base of a street light.

Once we were all seated in the giant stadium, some people came out onto the floor and explained how the audition process would happen, told us to not take it personally if we were rejected and above all, to have fun. They had us do cheesy but fun crowd chanting stuff. My favourite thing was when the guy on the floor told the crowd to 'throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care'. I almost couldn't believe my ears--that was a line from the universally-panned, so-bad-it's-good, what-were-they-thinking American Idol movie 'From Justin To Kelly'. I have seen about half an episode of American Idol, but I HAVE seen From Justin To Kelly so many times that yes, I can quote many lines. Go figure.

After a while of that, who should come out but Constantine Maroulis, a previous AI runner-up. Don't know from which season, but it was the same season as Bo Bice, and I remember this because I was reading a book with characters named Constantine and Bo at the time. He got the crowd to sing 'Living On A Prayer'. From what I could see, way up in my seat, he's a skinny white dude with long dark hair and skinny black pants. I liked him better than who came out next--Ryan Seacrest. Now, I have no problem with whoever he may be personally, but his show personality indicates a  biological human grown in a test tube by aliens who don't understand that human is more than the sum of its parts. Thus, I call him Test Tube Man. Cameras did some filming of him saying Ryan Seacresty stuff with some of the auditioners, then show crew set up tables and partitions as temporary booths for the judges to sit in.

He explained how the actual auditions would go: One section of people will be on the auditorium floor at a time, according to the seat number on his/her ticket, and starting with the inner/lower sections first. Each booth has a judge (the famed judges on the show are in the later rounds of auditions, not the open audition we're all at). Four people will take turns singing a few bars of his/her chosen song to that judge, then the judge will give quick feedback to the four, and indicate who leaves and who stays for the next round of judging, possibly asking the more promising singers to sing for longer. None of the auditioners will be miked to the thousands of ears in the auditorium.

I was seated in section 240, a purple section in the upper right-hand corner, so I and most of my fellow upper-sectioners would be waiting for hours. Once we realized this, there was a mass exodus to the lobby. After a moment's hesitation, I followed. In the lobby, I saw people jamming quietly with guitars, talking and practicing their songs in wall cubbies with a friend. Now, I usually keep my singing to myself or those who specifically ask for it, but I wanted to break out of boundaries today, and though I had no friend to practice with, I found a cubby to practice my songs alone. After a couple of songs, a petite bright-eyed girl slipped in and asked if I wanted to practice together. She'd auditioned before and made suggestions, like skipping verses and cutting straight to the chorus, which is usually the strongest point of a song, and I helped her decide which of her potentials to sing.

I went back into the auditorium for a while, nearer the floor where I could hear the auditioners a little. I sat next to someone's mom who was taping her daughter Lexie's audition. She was so excited, shaking a little as Lexie approached the judge's table. She shook more and more as her daughter sang one, two, then three songs for one of the toughest judges present--and pretty much broke down when she saw the judge present Lexie with the golden yellow piece of paper that indicated going to the next round of auditions. I''m not given to touchy-feely with strangers, but she seemed to need it, so I hugged her.

After that, I went back to the lobby, attracted to the sound of a group from which emanated singing and guitar strains. I spent a couple hours there, singing with the growing crowd almost every song. sometimes we'd forget the words, but it was all right and fun. The main guitarist looked like the little brother of a friend, and the leading man, Francesco, was a real entertainer who should go far. I asked him if he was a plant, employed by the show to help the crowd relax, and he joked about being a stripper but denied his plant-ness. I hope he gets on the show--he was GOOD. We sang Don't Stop Believing, Billionaire, Breakaway, Yesterday, My Girl, Kryptonite, Come Together, Hallelujah, Twist and Shout, Home, I'm Yours, Shout (a little bit softer now), Hey Soul Sister, Hey There Delilah, Billie Jean, Play That Funky Music, Sexyback, Put A Ring On It, Lean On Me, One Week, Wake Me Up When September Ends (to which I bravely sang alone when everyone else forgot the words), Dock of the Bay, Brown Eyed Girl, Daughters, Killing Me Softly and many others. And I relaxed.

After a while, the group evolved, losing some members and gaining others, eventually breaking up to get lunch or something. By that time, there were many such groups to choose from, so I went to another group. In this one, a circle formed around a person in the middle singing his/her song. Instead of just watching and wishing I were that person, I made my way to the inner circle, trying to meet the leader's eyes so he'd pick me to go--and he did. I'd picked 'Colors of the Wind' and as I sang 'if you walk the footsteps of a stranger' I opened my eyes, looked into his--and nearly cried, in a good way. Then I realized people were singing with me, just as I'd dreamed.

Later on in another ring, after waiting my turn, I stepped into the ring, tapped my foot and launched into the fast, hilarious and utterly inappropriate-for-a-girl 'What's A Guy Gotta Do (To Get A Girl In This Town)?' Immediately, pleased recognition flared in the eyes of the woman across from me.

Soon after that, I headed back into the auditorium, having heard on good authority that my section would in fact NOT be third to last to audition and therefore would be on sometime soonish. Before I knew it, my section was standing up to get in line down on the auditorium floor. By this time I'd been up for at least 12 hours, many of them standing. My legs wobbled slightly as I picked my way down the stairs and waited in line on the auditorium floor, part nerves and part  suppressed exhaustion. Most of my nervousness had been burned away, so when it was my turn to sing, it was actually easier in a way to sing for just the one judge instead of fifty people in a circle around me. I sang my ten seconds, the other three did theirs, the judge kindly told us our voices needed more developing (which was about what I expected) and we left the floor. I was so tired that at that point, I was actually a little relieved that things were going as I'd expected--I'd made no plans for if I'd gotten to the second round of auditions. Besides, though I thought it was worth a try, I didn't go to the audition to get onto American Idol, not really.

I still haven't been able to fully articulate what I really went to the audition for. But it was never about winning, getting on TV or becoming a star, and this much I do know: every time I opened my mouth to sing, every time I stepped into a song ring, found a new guitar circle, when I practiced with a stranger or hugged Lexie's ecstatic mom, I knew I had gotten exactly what I'd come for.

And if you see Francesco next season, vote for him!