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Saturday, March 31, 2007

You know I'm always on the lookout for hearts. Not sappy, lovey, valentiney hearts, but real hearts that sneak up on us in the world at just the right time. Rick brought me a bowl of strawberries yesterday morning, and wouldn't you know it... hearts everywhere. Who needs Pop Tarts when you can have a bowl full of love?

Of course I spent the afternoon making heart beads. I might not sell them just yet. We'll see. I haven't even looked in the kiln yet to see how they turned out. I'll show you later if I have some time. Busy day around here... Rick and our friend Thomas are building a shed for the overflow of stuff around here... well, really for Lauren's stuff, because she's coming home soon for the summer, and somehow she just has too many wonderful things that she can't part with. I'm tired of supplying them with a whole room in the house full time, so out to the shed with them! She'll be home later today to start the sorting... maybe I can talk her into giving something away. I know! I'll give her a strawberry for every piece of fluff she donates to the local Free Box... oh yeah, she's not two...
Wish me luck!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bead sales are always slower in the warmer months of the year. It makes sense that we all want to spend more time outside, and less time with our computers. Me too! But still, there's that pesky need to make a living. So I'm thinking about running an ad in one of the bead magazines again. I haven't been in anybody's spotlight for a while now, so a little shameless self-promotion is in order. I like to look at the ads in those magazines even more than I like the articles. I want to know who's who, who's new, and who's doing what. But I guess I've been slacking in my marketing research, because somehow I totally missed one big company who's a sneaky threat to the hardworking self employed artist-beadmakers of the world.

Austin Hamilton (find the link yourself - I think it's big of me to even mention their name) is not a bead artist. It's a company that imports cheap Chinese factory-made beads, and presents them as artist-made beads. I have to admit, they're getting pretty good at these knock-offs, but the fact remains, they're cheap, low quality beads that will probably break. The price alone tells you what you're getting. It means a factory full of underpaid people crank these things out for pennies a day, while the owners of the company make it all look clean and happy, and offer you a great deal on beautiful garbage.

I'm now looking closer into where these folks advertise, and I'm hoping I can put my own advertising dollars into a publication who doesn't so blatantly disregard the needs of the actual bead artists who have traditionally supported them.

Educating the bead-buying public is important. I recently posted a blurb on my website - About Lampwork Beads. It's easy to be dazzled by all the beads available these days. So it's important to know what you're looking at, and what to look for. There's surely a market for the cheap sweatshop beads. This country has such a strong "Walmart Mentality", but we all know that the cheapest price doesn't always mean the best deal...

Think of lampwork beads as fine art. The well designed, well made pieces are like original paintings. The cheap knock-offs are like posters. They look pretty good for a while, but they hold no value, and most likely will end up in the trash in a short time.

Let's see those Chinese bead factories make one of these! And for the record, I'm not a hater of China or Chinese people... but I really can't tolerate these Bead Thieves... they are pirates in the worst sense of the word. Certainly not Beadists!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What could possibly be cuter than new babies in spring? This is Blondie. My friend Pamella Radwan sent me this picture. She says she got Blondie for her daughter, Adriana, but I wonder... she does talk an awful lot about the new little petster... who's is she really...?

We watched Zen And Zero last night. It's about a group of Austrian surfer guys who go to Costa Rica in search of great waves. I've never tried surfing, so I don't really get the appeal of being knocked down by giant sand-laden waves and tumbled til I'm smooth as beach glass. Sounds like a kinky spa treatment. What I do think I get is the connection to nature, when everything lines up just right, and you live in perfection for just a moment or two. I haven't actually felt it in a while, but it's good to be reminded that it's out there. The Austrian surfers talked about Zero as that place of perfection. We tend to think of Zero as "nothing". But maybe it's really when everything is balanced, even, level. Maybe Zero is everything. The Austrian surfer guys said that if, at the end of the day, they're at Zero, then there's nothing else to ask for. I think there's something to be learned there.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sometimes the hardest part about making new beads is naming them. But I think names are important, so I try to put at least a little bit of effort into it. These beads happened on Saturday, after a week or so of artistic doldrums. Sometimes the mojo just ain't workin', if you know what I mean. I'd had bits and pieces of inspiration, but nothing that made me want to stand up and dance. The cool "mosaic tile" beads were looking more and more like my friend Terri Caspary-Schmidt's beads, which isn't what I meant to do...

So while I was thinking about how to change those to be KimBeads, not TerriBeads, I needed something to keep my hands busy.

Simple beads are a good solution to lots of problems. They don't require as much intense attention as the big focal beads do. And while individually, they generally don't mean a lot, they're really wonderful in groups. Focal Beads are the confident, independant, stand-alone leaders of the bead pack, while smaller beads depend more on community to make a statement. Both are good. Both have value. Both need to be made, and require different moods and skills. So I make both, and Saturday was a day for simplicity.

When I cleaned them up on Sunday morning, I couldn't help but take them to a sunny spot on the dining room table and start sorting them out. Sunday is technically my "day off". I reserve it for anything I feel like doing. And sometimes playing with beads is just what I need, even after a week of working with beads. It's different. So I put all these little beads in groups by color, and then some mixed sets with the ones that were left. I was starting to think about what to call them, and coming up with very little. I was looking for a name that described how they look. What I ended up with was a name for how they feel...

Rick and I had spent much of Friday at Deborah and Thomas's house and studio. The Blue Rain Gallery was sending bus loads of art collectors to the studios of their artists. We were there to help out with the crowds, but all we really did was hang out and chat with people. It was fun. It was the real art world - a bigger world than the bead world. I loved seeing all these people who are serious about art, and willing to spend serious money on it. I loved listening to Deborah talk about her work, and the meaning and symbolism she puts into it. She mentioned the images of bees that she often uses - how they represent busy-ness and work, and also that her name, Deborah, in Hebrew, means "bee". The bees stuck with me...

So there I was, looking at my new beads, and suddenly I noticed that the yellow ones remind me a lot of bees. Deborah's bees. Bees who work hard. Bees who are my friends. Bees who need community to survive. Bees who make honey. Honey bees. Honey beads. Yes! HoneyBeads! And so the beads have a name. That's how it is in my head all the time. Sometimes it's really quite exhausting... And then, because I must have a certain amount of "bee" in me too, I made a little more work for myself, and added a page to my website, devoted to describing beads, defining beads, and choosing beads to buy.

After all that, I just sat still for a while. Even bees need to rest... Don't they?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rick was flipping through the new April 2007 issue of National Geographic and said, "Hey! Look at this." Well whaddaya know... beads! There's a nice selection here, from ancient to modern, but what really jumps off the page for me is the lampwork portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

I thought it looked like a Loren Stump bead, so I posted it on the ISGB Forum, where someone else says it looks like an Emiko Sawamoto. I suppose we'll figure it out eventually, but for now I'm tickled pink to see artist-made lampwork beads in something other than a bead publication. One of these days we'll hit the mainstream, I just know it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

You have to see these playhouses at Posh Tots! They're so over-the-top, I don't really know what to think... They're so expensive, families in the Gulf Coast would be able to rebuild homes for what it takes to plant one of these beauties in the backyard for kids to play in. OK - I guess I do know what I think... These are wonderful, but there's not a child in this world who deserves such luxury. Go see them anyway. I was going to post a picture here, but they have copying blocked. What a surprise.
Anyway - I want the Pirate Ship, if you want to send me something nice for my birthday...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

wandering off...

I'm sitting here, sitting here, sitting here, and deleting everything I think I have to say. That seems kind of symbolic. So now I think I'll just be quiet for a day or two. I'm going to go outside and sniff the warming spring air. Join me on the patio if you're in the neighborhood. I'll go back to work another day...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Extreme Spring Cleaning

I think when you make it clear to yourself that you have a plan, the Universe hears you and jumps in to help.

It started in January, when I looked at pictures of my chubby self and decided it was time to throw out the elegant, drapey, fat-denial outfits and lose some weight. I started the Taos Cupcake Diet, stopped eating so much, and started exercising more. It's working. I'm back in my cute jeans, and getting mentally prepared to clean out my closet.

Next came the Tiny House Idea. It's a few blogs back, if you want to go find it. Rick and I are still totally into the idea of down-sizing our life to something more manageable and less expensive. House plans and good advice from strangers is rolling in like crazy. And I came up with the idea to start the clearing process well in advance, by committing to get rid of one thing every day. Garbage doesn't count. But it seems like everywhere I turn there's something I can live without. Knick-knacks are a good place to start. The closet will be fun too. There are even things in the studio I'll probably never use. It's nice that Julia is getting into beading. I know there's a good home for all those seed beads I don't use, and all the stray stuff I tend to pick up in my travels.

The energy of all this really accelerated early this week, when I found out that my blood pressure is on the high side... bummer! I could try to blame it on all the stress of work and jury duty, but I also have to factor in the HBP on my Dad's side of the family... and my own resistance to exercise... and the fact that I adore salty foods... So OK - we start reading labels and find that sodium is billowing out of most of the food in the house. The salt shaker at dinner time is nothing. We realized it was either get new food or admit defeat and get a prescription. I'm not a pharmaceutical kind of girl. Not even in the 70's when all my friends were dropping acid in math class... I ordered new cookbooks and sent Rick out for some good healthy provisions. I'm also making myself get my 30 minutes of huffy-puffy exercise every day. I have a little trampoline. It's really not that bad. Not really...

The icing on the cupcake - I hope this is it - came this morning, when I was having a day off, sipping coffee, flipping through magazines, and spotted a little blurb about You can sign up to have them send you an eco-friendly tip each day. Sounds good to me. I want to know what kind of light bulbs to use and all that Al Gore kind of stuff. But when I went to the site, the first thing to catch my eye was, "Is Your Shampoo Making You Fat?". Well, of course I want an answer to that question! Maybe it's giving me high blood pressure too. I quickly found out that a group of chemicals called parabens are causing all the trouble. Fat is the least of our worries. Parabens mess with the entire endocrine system - all our hormones - making us sick, sick, sick.

We immediately started reading labels on everything from shampoo to hand cream to makeup. Guess what? Those pesky parabens are everywhere! And being in a clean-up-my-act sort of mood, I threw out almost every product in my bathroom. All morning long you could see us intently reading tiny print on expensive bottles of goo, crossing our fingers we'd get to keep one, and then yelling, "Parabens!!!" as we chucked yet another one into the trash can.

My next stop was the internet, where I researched and ordered all new everything from various websites. Shampoo from, skin care from, makeup from Later we went into town, wandered through the Harwood Museum and Moby Dickens for some relief. Life Changes are sort of emotionally exhausting. We needed some Art! But we also took a moment to visit Desert Blends, and buy some already-favorite body oil. I use it like lotion. We live in the desert!

Phew! Talk about Spring Cleaning... this is extreme. But it feels good too. I already feel lighter, clearer, and maybe most important, more in control of my own little world. Down-sizing means many things, and lately we're really learning all the definitions.

That's all for now... but please go check your shampoo for parabens!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What an interesting week...
Without running on too long about specifics, I'll just say that I had the pleasure of sitting with my jury pals again this morning. We were all sent home after only an hour. Record plea bargaining time in these parts. But while I was waiting, I chatted with some of the folks seated near me, and flipped through my new copy of Five Magazine. I found an article about a website called Second Life, which is totally created an run by it's "residents". You go in, create an "avatar" and any kind of life you want, and then "live" there, interacting with other people you bump into. Apparently there are even ways to do business and make money... I wonder if there's already a Beadist Community? If not, I might just have to start one.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I spent the entire day at the Taos County Courthouse, in a long, difficult jury selection process. We were told early on that this was a criminal case. Vehicular homicide. A young woman accused. Drinking and driving involved. A young man dead and a woman badly injured. This is going to be a difficult and emotional case for all concerned.

I'll cut straight to 5:00 this evening, when I was not selected as a juror, and then back up to the rest of the day...

Reporting to anything at 8:30 in the morning is a big deal for me. My typical morning starts at around 7:00, when we hear the funny red coffee maker going pshhhh in the kitchen. Rick brings my coffee back to me in bed because the house is cold in the mornings this time of year. We hang out for an hour or so, answering email on the laptop, before braving the chill to get dressed and head for the frozen studio in my oldest, ugliest clothes, my hair pushed back with a hairband, and lip balm my only makeup. On a jury duty day, I need to plan further ahead. I get up early, head straight for the shower, look for clean jeans and a warm sweater, and hope my hair will dry before I have to leave the house. Otherwise I have to use the blow dryer, and that never works out quite as expected.

Today I made all personal deadlines, except for the hair drying one. A little tumbleweedy, I was out the door and at the courthouse in plenty of time to be stopped at the metal detector, finding that I was now familiar to the security guard at the door, who knew right away that it was my boots making the thing beep. I'm still surprised that no one ever asks for ID. I could be anyone, claiming to be me. But then, why would anyone want to do that? So eighty-something people find seats, and hoping for a short day, prepare for a long one. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity early on to state any reasons why we felt a five day trial would be a personal hardship for us. I raised my hand, and mentioned yet again that without actually doing my work, there was no work to sell, and my family would have no income. I didn't expect it to get me off the jury hook, but as the day wore on, I realized that they weren't asking me any questions at all. I was full of answers, but no one wanted to know what I thought. I finally guessed that I wasn't what they were looking for this time, and was just going to have to sit it out, waiting to be set free.

Somewhere in there, I began to feel something strange... something like balance. Balance in a big way, like whatever happened, everything was just as it should be. I looked at the ugly cinder block walls, counted the pink blocks, and then the turquoise ones. I read a little from "Writing Down The Bones". Encouraged by Natalie to actually own up and BE a writer, I took out my notebook and wrote. I met Rick for lunch. I sent Lauren a text message. I watched and listened carefully to what was going on, just in case. I chatted with total strangers, and a few new friends from our jury last week. I looked at the wall some more. And we all waited.

Near the end of the day, I was having one last moment with the wall, and I spotted something I hadn't seen before. In one small section of pale yellow blocks, high on the wall, over the jury box, some enlightened, creative, mischievous wall painter had formed the letters L O V E into the shapes of the blocks, in white paint that barely shows, but is most certainly there. LOVE spilling onto the jury. LOVE beaming into the courtroom. LOVE hiding behind the bench. Hiding, but there just the same. I leaned to the man next to me, and pointed it out. Good thing I did, because a few minutes later he was chosen to sit on that jury. I think it will help him. I think it will help all of them, whether they know it or not.

Balance at the end of a difficult day is the best we can hope for sometimes. Today I'm happy with that. I even feel like I had sort of a day off, hanging with friends, learning a thing or two, and coming home to relax and start again tomorrow, with Rick, the red coffee maker, and beads that are patiently waiting for me to make them.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

new shoes change everything...

I ordered these completely impractical shoes from an ebay seller last week. They're Betsey Johnsons - a long time favorite designer of mine. I was actually looking for a purse that's out of season now, and like the local elk, impossible to hunt down once it's gone...
But there were the shoes, flirting with me like no boy has done in a very long time. What could I do but invite them home? The price was right, so I paid up and waited for them to arrive at my door. The seller had accidentally put them in the "wrong stack" and forgot to mail them for days and days. When I finally emailed to ask where they were, she got right on it and FedEx'ed them to me, Saturday delivery and all. There they were this morning, waiting to cheer me up, take my mind off of jury duty, and make my cold feel all better.

I put them on right away, and tottered around like I was playing dress-up in my mommy's shoes. They're just a bit too big, and I can't walk in them, but I love them ever so much...
I wore them in the studio all day, with red socks, because it's cold out there. I might never wear them anyplace else. But that's sort of why I bought them anyway. In the reality of Taos, I wear Crocs, Uggs, and pink rubber rain boots. There's little room in my life for "girl shoes". Ah... but a little playful inspiration on my feet can only be good for the beads! Bead party at my house! Everyone dress silly and plan to be inspired! Now where did I leave my tiara???

Friday, March 02, 2007

Many thanks - from Jean and from me...

I want to thank all of you for your generosity in the raffle for Jean Yates and her family! It was a big success, raising $4,950! I'm thrilled, and so is Jean. Below is a note she sent me to pass along to all of you. Collectively, we've done a Very Good Thing.

The prize winners have been chosen, the prizes mailed, and the check to Jean also. The winners are... #1 - Gail Bollard, #2 - Krystal Himmler, and #3 - Margot Potter. Congratulations to all of you!

Here's Jean's note to you...

"Dear Kim, Rick and all our new, dear friends who participated in Kim's Wonderful, Phenomenal, Auction:

Jim, Dylan and I would like to thank all of you--EVERY SINGLE ONE of YOU!!!
You have made it possible for us to "keep on keeping on" during this really tough period we have been experiencing with Dylan and his seizures. It isn't just the financial help, although that has allowed us to take a breath, emotionally and otherwise.
IT'S AMAZING--IT IS AN AMAZING THING. Kim will be forever one of my personal heroes.We are in her debt in all ways, always.

This has been is so important for our family after months of struggling. However, even more, there is this realization that there are people all seems as if you are all over the world! And you are expressing such love for Dylan, our little boy who is so dear to us. To us, he is so special. He has always been so sweet and innocent. I think what you all have done is so powerful it takes my breath away. You are, each one of you, stars in my eyes. Your light, gathered as one, has such beauty I cannot tell you how we feel when we are presented with it, as a family.

This past week, vacation week, was unexpectedly hard for Dylan, and made us realize we are not out of the woods yet. We remain determined and optimistic, yet it is a wonderful thing to know that you all have been thinking of us enough to send out every sort of comfort and major support to us in our time of need.

Dylan is a strong kid and a fighter. He always has been. Jim and I are fighters, too. We aren't used to accepting assistance, but this auction Kim has fashioned with such imagination, style and beauty has enabled us to pause a moment and reflect on some of the good things in life once again. We don't have to fixate just on the crazyness we have unfortunately been experiencing since November 11th of this past year.

We have long ago given up the desire to have a "regular life". With two children with autism, we have accepted the fact that we are not part of the mainstream, and that is really OK with us.

To have you love us anyway and assist us right now, when we needed it so much, really makes us feel incredibly grateful and amazed and happy and thankful. I would write a song about it if I could. Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" is a good song which says how I feel about you, Kim, Rick, and these past few weeks. Thank you from all of us. We truly love you.


Back to beads for a moment... this week has been filled with other facets of life. No complaints, but I haven't had time to make a lot of beads. And now, thanks to being forced to hang out at the big, dirty, public court house, a cold is trying to catch me. (Why on earth do we tend to say, "I'm trying to catch a cold"? Who would want to do that?) I'm staying out of it's path as well as I can, but I'm still moving a little slow... feeling a bit under the weather. (There's another one... "under the weather". Aren't we always under the weather, since it tends to stay mostly above us in the atmosphere someplace? I guess if you're in an airplane you can be "above the weather", but you could still have a cold, and are likely to catch one up there even if you board the plane in good health...) I think too much sometimes...
Think I'll see if I can make beads...