Saturday, May 30, 2009


I'm off to Milwaukee for a week full of classes and to see many of my friends that are scattered across the country.  It will be fun and exhausting and I hope to blog about it every day.  
I also wanted to remind everyone that today (May 30th) at midnight, is the last chance to vote in the Bead Star competition.  Both Cindi Slater and Jeanne Craine from Bead Haven have pieces that are finalists in the competition.  Please see my post about it here to vote.  Bead Haven also has a link to the Bead Star website, as well.  Please take a second to go to the site and vote for whatever pieces you think are best, but of course I'm partial to Cindi and Jeanne's!  Thanks!

Friday, May 29, 2009


Have you ever really looked at these Maple seed helicopter thingies up close before?  Every year at this time I curse these crazy things.  They're everywhere.  Even now, that my big tree is gone, another Maple in my yard is still sending these spinning earthward by the thousand.  The other day I was outside sitting on my front steps watching them rain down.  I picked one up and studied it like it was for the first time and they are really beautiful things.  They even have a beautiful name, Samara.  They are also amazingly engineered.  Most mature Maple trees are fairly large shade trees, so in order for the seeds to have any chance at germination, they have to be able to travel far enough from the tree's canopy into the sunshine.  Thus, the whirly-bird design.  Pretty cool, huh?  
Last year, I had a feeling that my tree was in trouble, so when it dropped all of it's seeds, I collected a few dozen of the prettiest ones that I could find.  I was sitting the other day thinking of my Canadian friend, Karen and I remembered the seeds that I had saved.  Karen made me think of them, as the maple is the national tree of her homeland.  Anyway, I got the seeds out and made molds of several of them.  I riveted the silver pods to some pendants that I made and then layered 22 karat gold onto them.  I enjoyed making them and they'll always make me think of my tree and of my friend, Karen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I wanted to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday.  I hope she had a great day and I hope she knows how much that she's loved.  Most of the good things about me are because of my Mom and Dad.  Happy Birthday , Mom!  I'll see you soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Sands of coral, shell and volcanic material.

A spiral sand grain and sponge spicules (internal skeletons).

Sand grains form the beaches of Maui.

Sands from Namibia, consisting of pink and red Garnets.

Stars from Okinawa, Japan. Actually, the skeletons of single-celled forams.

Moon dust, collected by Apollo 11.

It looks like a Hubble image of an asteroid, but it's a speck of dust from the Moon.

More Apollo 11 Moon dust.

Thanks to Dr. Gary Greenberg for the use of his photographs.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in your hand,
and eternity in an hour.- William Blake (Auguries of Innocence).

The other night I was surfing the net (like you do) and I came across a site that I wanted to share with you all. It is called It is the the website of Dr. Gary Greenberg, who is a scientist, an inventor , and an artist. Dr. Greenberg holds a PhD in biomedical research and is the co-founder of a company that makes scientific equipment, including microscopes. He holds many patents for high definition three- dimensional light microscopes (I'm not completely sure what that means, but it sounds fancy!). Since 2001 he has be using his special microscopes to photograph sand, foods, flowers and the landscape of our bodies, magnified hundreds of times. A lot of you know how I love science geeks (after all, I'm married to one!) and I'm fascinated by people who use their skills and talents in very unexpected ways. Since I use gemstones in my own work, of course I was drawn to his beautiful sand photos, many of which are actually fragments of gemstones and still others that are shell and coral. I love to spend hours on the beaches of California searching for bits of glass and beach tossed stones, but I've never been lucky enough to see a handful of sand from this vantage point before. His photographs give new and enlightening perspective to the natural world that's all around us. I contacted Dr. Greenberg, and he was kind enough to allow me to reproduce some of his photos from both his website and his wonderful book, A Grain Of Sand. In his email to me he included some images of moon dust collected by Apollo 11. Just last week he collaborated with Nasa contracted scientists to create these images which he shared with me.
An exhibition of of Dr. Greenberg's photos will be at the Science Museum of Minnesota, from May 2008 until early in 2010. His beautiful book is available here. Visit his website here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A beautiful grouping of Karen's Pod Vessels From Another Planet!

I think these are so beautiful.

The vessels are hollow and wearable and have fine silver collars.

The tallest of her vessels is 4 1/2 inches tall!

I just wanted to take a minute to to congratulate my good friend, Karen Elmquist for being accepted into the Bead Dreams competition for 2009.  Bead Dreams is a juried competition and exhibit sponsored by Bead and Button Magazine.  The accepted pieces will be displayed at the Bead and Button Show this June in Milwaukee.  The winner scores some nice prizes, but more importantly some serious exposure and props from their peers (that's never a bad thing!).
Karen is an extraordinary lamp worker from Canada.  She obviously works really hard at her art.  She is also a very sweet, generous and kind-spirited person.  She's also a bit of a kindred spirit of mine, in that she's always searching the ground for something shiny to pick up!  She's definitely one of the good guys and I really hope she wins.
Check out her work and her blog here.
Thanks to Karen for the use of her photos.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The finished products, left to right, Bonnie's, Margaret's and David's.

Bonnie is so full of enthusiasm.

Margaret wraps her PMC to keep it from drying out.  Good girl!

David made 6 beads for his bracelet.  Check out the giant one he made in the center of his bracelet (in the first photo).

Margaret wore this piece that she made to class today.  I think it turned out really pretty.  I also really like her bead choices.  Well done, Margaret!

I had a good class today at Bead Haven.  We made PMC slide tube bracelets.  This is a new, shortened version of an all day class that I taught last year.  Since we used a rubber cord bracelet for the slide tubes instead of making our own, I decided that we could make it into half day class.  It was down to the wire, but we got it done.  The students made their slide tubes, embellished them and did sanding and finishing work to them.  While they were being fired and tumbled, they textured and hammered the fine silver jump rings that I had made beforehand as spacers for the tubes.  After the pieces were all nice and shiny and hardened, we dipped everything in liver of sulfur to give them a little patina.  A little more elbow grease to polish everything back up and then they assembled everything and voila, the day was over in a flash!  Everyone did so well and with such good spirits.  I kept them hopping and all three really rose to the challenge.  I honestly was impressed.  Thanks to Margaret, David and Bonnie.  I really had a good time!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Cindi's Dragonheart Necklace (Heart Category).

Pearl Inferno (Pearl Category).

Whatever (Metal Category).

Sunset Canyon (Under $25.00 Category).

My friend Cindi, the owner of my favorite bead store, recently entered the Interweave Bead Star contest.  The editors of Bead Star, Bead Work and Stringing magazines selected 20 finalists for each category (there were 9 categories).  The winners will be selected by people like you and me by voting on the Internet.  The winner gets put on the cover of Bead Star Magazine and a nifty trip to Santa Fe for the Bead Fest show in March 2010.  Cindi entered all 9 categories (such an over achiever!) and was a finalist in 4 of those categories!  She is a finalist in the heart, the metal, the pearl and the under $25 categories.  I'm so excited for her and for me too, because she used one of my heart pendants and toggles in her piece for the heart category entry and one of my large bronze carved toggles in her entry in the metals category.  I love when someone else does all of the work for me!  If you get a chance, please go the the Bead Star website and vote by May 30th.  Click here to vote.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Stormy sky.

At 4pm it was dark like night.

A river of rain water flowing off my roof.

This afternoon at about 4, the sky turned as dark as night time and I figured I'd better check out the National Weather Service website.  There was really bad, tornado type weather south of here, but just run of the mill spring thunderstorms for us.  I really love this kind of weather.  Not the scary, tornado sort of weather, just thunder and lightening and rain.  I haven't seen it rain this hard in a really long time.  It just poured off of the roof of the house.  It was so cool.  


PMC Slide Tube Bracelet.

I am teaching a bracelet class at Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday, May 16th from 1:30-4:30.  It is a PMC slide tube bracelet with textured jump rings on a rubber cord bracelet.  No experience is necessary and it should be lots of fun.  If you live near by and are interested in attending the class, please contact the store at 319-247-2323.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


My Mom.

I love my Mom.  I know that most of us do love our Moms, at least I hope we do.  My Mom is a really special person.  She's been through a lot in her life.  She's funny and smart and loves to read and she passed that on to us.  One of my favorite things about her is the sparkly glint in her bright blue eyes when she's said something funny.  She's a great cook and when she was still able, she had the biggest, best garden you've ever seen.  She's ornery and as tough as nails and she's the strongest person that I've ever known in my whole life.  She taught her girls to be strong too.  She wants the best things for all of her kids and she always sacrificed so that she could give those things to us.  I hope she knows how much that Cindi, Jamie and I love her.
Happy Mother's Day Mom.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


A Morel, growing in the timber.

Soaking in a salt water bath.

Almost ready to eat.  Can you smell them?

Okay, sorry for the bad pun, I couldn't help myself!  So, if you're from my part of the United States, the Midwest, then you surely know about these precious fungi.  If not, sorry.  You need to get out here in the spring sometime and try some.  When I was a kid, my sisters and I would go mushroom hunting in the timber with our Dad.  Those were some of the best times of my whole life and I'll never forget them.  We'd bring home our treasure and my Mom would soak them in salt water to clean them and coat them with flour and saute them in butter.  Decadent and seriously one of the greatest things I have ever eaten.  I haven't gone hunting for them in a long time, except for a small patch in my own yard every year (if I catch you in my yard looking for them, you'll be in big trouble).  Most years there are folks who have a nice little side business of selling them to those of us that don't have a good patch of timber to hunt them ourselves.  Paul and I were in Independence today visiting my folks and we bought a bunch from one of these seasonal entrepreneurs.  I made them for our supper tonight just the way my Mom always did and man, were they good.  The best part is, that we still have a bunch left.  
Next week, I think I'm going mushroom hunting with some friends, one who knows of a good spot.  They taste even better when you find the elusive little things yourself.  If we find enough, you're all invited.  Just kidding!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


The Matilde Corsage is one of the pieces in the exhibit and was made for the niece of Napoleon I.  It has more than 2600 large diamonds and more than 800 "small ones" and exceeds 136 carats.  But can I wear it with a t-shirt and jeans?

Starting this October until the end of March 2010, the Field Museum in Chicago will host an exhibit called 'The Nature Of Diamonds'.  The exhibit will tell the story of diamonds from their creation by violent natural forces, their extraction from the earth, to their transformation in the hands of the diamond cutters and the jewelers.  In spite of much well deserved bad press surrounding diamonds in the past several years, they remain the stuff of dreams.  The exhibit will have plenty of historical texts and cool multimedia displays, but most importantly it will have lots and lots of bling!  Cartier, Harry Winston and Tiffany, OH MY!
Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


My email is working again!  Happy Day!


If anyone has been trying to email me, I apologize for the lack of a reply.  I'm having email problems that I expect to have solved soon.  Thanks!- Cris

Sunday, May 3, 2009


A few weeks ago I gave my Dad my Apple PowerBook G4.  Dad has been interested in learning how to use a computer for a long time.  I got a new Mac Book Pro at Christmas time and I thought it was a good time for him to give it a whirl.  So on his 75th birthday, Paul and I took the Powerbook up to Mom and Dad's house.  We bookmarked a ton of websites on carving, wildlife, birds, space, airplanes, etc., so he could learn about the Internet by surfing along on it.  My sister Jamie tells me that Dad is on the computer all the time now.  Though they shouldn't be, a lot of people his age would let themselves be intimidated by computers and the Internet.  He's a lot less intimidated than I was when I was learning.  The other day he berated me for not updating my blog often enough!  Uh Oh!  I'd better watch what I say!  I'm really proud of you Dad!


Bo Ramsey, at The Mill in Iowa City on May 2nd.

Bo's new CD, 'Fragile'.

On Saturday, I had a trunk show in Waterloo, Iowa at a cute store called Bead Happy.  We had a nice but very windy day and I even got a bit sunburned.  It was fun and I had good sales and met a lot of really nice folks.  Thanks to Penny, Patti and everyone else at Bead Happy.
When I got home that night, Paul and I met friends, Suzi and Gary at The Mill in Iowa City to see the legendary blues guitarist, Bo Ramsey.  Bo is an Iowa native who's been playing roots/blues music for three decades.  Bo has played in bands with and produced records for people like Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown.  He was at the Mill with his new band 'The Mystery Lights' in support of his new record, 'Fragile'.  It's been a long time since Bo has fronted his own band, so we were really looking forward to the show.   My friends and I have been huge fans of his since college.  He didn't disappoint.  Check out his music here.


Kids getting messy in the clay.

A cute little one playing on a pottery wheel.

The cool plasma cutter.

Stewie, made with the plasma cutter.

Cindi, using the brake.


Powder coat demo.

Melting the powder coat.

The mighty drill press.

Cindi, hanging our "art" up in a student exhibit.

It was a busy weekend.  On Friday, Cindi and I went to the Art Festival/Open House at the Studio Arts building.  It was so interesting and fun.  Art students are so creative and expressive (sometimes maybe too expressive!).  It was fun to be back in that environment after so many years.  There were a lot of demos and exhibitions of work.  Cindi and I played with foil prints and we made business card holders in the Jewelry/Metal Arts classroom.  My favorite, of course!  I was coveting all of their tools.  They had the biggest rolling mill and angle brake that I have ever seen.  The brake is for bending sheet metal at an angle (duh!).  What I would do with a vise and a rawhide mallet takes literally 10 seconds and almost no effort with the brake.  I want one.  The industrial sized rolling mill was amazing and I could imagine how happy it would have made my tool obsessed, metal smith friend, Anne Mitchell.  For some reason, my favorite thing in the metals area was the drill press that was sized for a Goliath.  I have no idea why, but I want that too. 
Next we went to the sculpture area.  We watched a plasma cutter demonstration.  That was one of the coolest things I've ever seen!  They were cutting detailed shapes from 16 gauge sheet steel that had been programmed into the computer.  The machine is capable of cutting sheet up to a couple of inches thick.  The instructor told us that they have another machine that can cut metals up to 8 inches thick.  This particular machine was quickly disassembled during the flood and the motors were hung from the ceiling for protection.  The flood waters, however were much worse than expected and reached the motors and knocked them around and filled them with filthy water and mud.  The students are cleaning them up and reassembling the cutter and almost a year later, expect it to be running soon.  Cool.
After the festival, Cindi and I met Paul for yummy Mexican dinner.  Paul was dead tired and needed to go home and sleep.  Cindi wasn't ready to go home yet and suggested we head to Riverside (about 12 miles away) to the casino to blow 20 bucks.  She and I have a tradition the last few years of going to a bead show in Marshalltown every year and leaving a few buck with the Mesquaki Nation on our way home.  Very fun, but I'm WAY too cheap to lose more than that.  Anyway, we went to Riverside and honestly people, if you've never been to a casino, it's the best people watching place, ever!  We had fun playing video poker and slot machines when suddenly my machine started making noises and in the end I won $882 dollars.  How completely random is that?!  Cindi won a hundred dollars, so that was good.   I decided that it's found money, so I'm giving half of it to our animal shelter that got flooded last June and I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest, but I'll find something good.  The thing that amazes me about gambling is how many people would have just kept going when that happens.  There was a woman at a machine next to me when I won who told me," That machine is hot, you're not going to stop now are you?".  Yikes!