Saturday, December 29, 2012

(30) Texas

Capitol: Austin

Hallelujah!!!! I finally finished Texas!! WAHOOOO!!!! Texas has been taunting me since the beginning of this project.

First problem... size. With so many of the Northeast states, this scale proved to be too small. Not the problem with Texas. It is 4 1/4" x 4 1/4"!!! That's not a pin, it's a breastplate!!!

Second problem, Texas. Not a big fan. Early in my marriage (like the week after our honeymoon!) I had to spend a month in Dallas for IBM Marketing Training. Didn't like either Dallas or the training. Had to do this a few more times before the torture was over. While I started with a negative impression of Texas, it has improved a little. I have an uncle and cousin in Houston, and enjoyed my visit with them years ago. I also have in-laws and good friends in Austin. I thoroughly enjoy Austin.

Once I got past my hard feelings for Texas, I really struggled with the design. When I first started this project I was going to use several types of media, not just bead embroidery. I had planned on cutting Texas out of metal, then riveting little stars all over it, so it wouldn't be the Lone Star State any more. Still may do this someday, makes me giggle.

Everyone suggested cowboy themed ideas... boots, hats, cattle, etc. Wasn't interested. Then, for some reason the song "The Yellow Rose of Texas" popped into my head. Off to Google. From Wikipedia:

Legendary account: The song is based on a Texas legend from the days of the Texas War of Independence. According to the legend, Emily D. West (also known as "Emily Morgan") was seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston. She seduced General Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces. The legend credits her supposed seduction of Santa Anna with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texan victory in the Battle of San Jacinto waged in 1836 near present-day Houston. Santa Anna's opponent was General Sam Houston, who won the battle literally in minutes, and with almost no casualties. West was a mulatto, of mixed race ancestry. The song refers to her as the "yellow" rose, in keeping with the historical use of term "high yellow" as a description of light skin among people of color in the South.

Historical account: Historians assert that if West was with Santa Anna, it was not by her choice, nor did she play any part in deciding the battle. The seduction legend was largely unknown until the publication in the 1950s of a version of the lyrics based on William Bollaert's account. Bollaert, a British subject, spent two years in Texas—1842 to 1844—and was a prolific writer, publishing more than 80 articles on various subjects.

The basic facts are that Emily West, a free person of color, migrated to Texas from New York City in late 1835 as an indentured servant under contract to the agent James Morgan. She was born free in New Haven, Connecticut. Sources describe her as a teen or as a woman of twenty. She was to work as a housekeeper at the New Washington Association's hotel, near what was then called New Washington and is now Morgan's Point. Historians say she became known by West's surname, as was the custom at the time for indentured servants and slaves.

Santa Anna reportedly saw West in April 1836 when he invaded New Washington prior to the Battle of San Jacinto. West and other black servants were taken to his camp, along with some white residents who were captured. According to legend, Santa Anna was with her when Texan General Sam Houston's troops arrived, forcing him to flee suddenly without weapons or armor and enabling his capture the next day.

Works for me.

The background took awhile too. I was going to do it red, because it looks pretty. My spouse wanted white. Daughter - pink... nope. Son - red... (because he is smart!). So, I decided to use all three, and place the rose on the Texan flag. I have never been so happy to finish a pin!

Lyrics(Original version, from the MS in the University of Texas archives):

There's a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see,
No other darky [sic] knows her, no darky only me
She cryed [sic] so when I left her it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.

She's the sweetest rose of color this darky ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your Dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me.

When the Rio Grande is flowing, the starry skies are bright,
She walks along the river in the quite [sic] summer night:
She thinks if I remember, when we parted long ago,
I promised to come back again, and not to leave her so. [Chorus]

Oh now I'm going to find her, for my heart is full of woe,
And we'll sing the songs togeather [sic], that we sung so long ago
We'll play the bango gaily, and we'll sing the songs of yore,
And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine forevermore. [Chorus]

More than 25 years later, the lyrics were changed to eliminate the more racially charged lyrics. "Soldier" replaced "darky." And the first line of the chorus was also changed to read, "She's the sweetest little rosebud ...."

Sometimes "Dearest May" has been replaced by "Clementine".

Friday, December 21, 2012

(29) Massachusetts

Capitol: Boston

Massachusetts is a state I have spent a little time in, and have many ideas to bead. Unfortunately, once again size does matter. This pin is 1" x 1/2" at its widest spot. Not much you can do with that, especially since my eyes aren't ready to use my antique size 22 seed beads again! So, I had to really work on this idea.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. And so began Paul Revere's famous ride. Seems like a good representation of Massachusetts. However, I'm not going to fit a horse, lantern, or Paul Revere on this workspace. Then I remembered the classic wedding gift that many of us have received... Revereware copper-bottomed pots and pans. I still have mine and use them every day!!! So, I present a copper-bottomed Massachusetts.

(28) Alabama

Capitol: Montgomery

Well, another little sabbatical to go back to NY to visit my folks. Had a wonderful time with my parents and brother and his family. I did some beading, but couldn't actually finish the pins until I got home.

Alabama is another of those states that I have been to, but didn't have an idea floating around in my head. Years ago we spent a weekend visiting friends in Birmingham. We had a wonderful visit. One thing I remember is that the city had a surprisingly international flavor... lots of great restaurants. I didn't expect that when we headed to Alabama. A nice surprise.

Chatting with friends from Alabama I discovered that the first manned spaceship to the moon was built in Alabama. Bingo! So, here is my latest pin, with a rocket ship heading toward the moon. The "moon" is a bone "face" cabachon. I love it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

(27) Indiana

Capitol: Indianapolis

This pin was looking so cute I had to get up early today to finish it!

There are several states I have been to, but didn't actually experience. Many of them, Indiana being one, were passed through while on one of my 4 drives across country. So, while I can claim I have been in the state (which, according to Marcum rules, means you either stayed the night or ate a sit-down meal -- airports not included), I really didn't know much about Indiana.

Fortunately, the internet once again came to my rescue. I little bit of research and I discovered that Marcella Gruelle of Indianapolis created the Raggedy Ann doll in 1914. SCORE! I loved my Raggedy Ann doll!! What a treat to be able to include a piece of my childhood in this project. Kind of put a new spin on the project for me. It's not just the United States of America... it's MY United States of America. Seems with every pin this project gets more special to me.

This pin is about 1" x ! 1/2", which means I once again had to pull out the size 22 seed beads to capture the detail of Raggedy Ann's face. Those little buggers are so much harder to work with. They are old, before the days of quality control, so the beads are very inconsistent. Many don't even fit in the incredibly fine needle I use. I will probably have to take a break from beading for the day and give my eyes a rest. Christmas shopping it is!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

(26) Wyoming

Capitol: Cheyenne

Earlier this year, in April, I attended one of my favorite bead shows, the Rocky Mountain Bead Society show. I was in search of ideas for my pin project. At Patti Leota Genack's booth I found this wonderful lampwork bead in the shape of a skull. I had to have it. I thought I would be using it for Texas, but decided it looked better on Wyoming. A little research online, and I decided it looked most like a Buffalo skull, and coincidentally, the Buffalo is the Official State Animal of Wyoming. Karma.

I felt that I needed to pay tribute to the Indians of Wyoming, so the background of this pin is a section of an old horse blanket I found. I love the blanket colors with the skull.

On to the next pin!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

(25) Tennessee
Capitol: Nashville

YAHOOOOO!!! I am half way done with my pin project! Too late to turn back now!

All along I figured my Tennessee pin would be some sort of tribute to Elvis, and/or Nashville. Once again the size was intimidating, 2 1/2" x 5/8". Not much you can do with such a long, skinny piece. Then, while perusing the inventory at my favorite Boulder bead shop, "Nomad Bead Merchants" (1909 9th St), I found these wonderful guitar beads. They put Tennessee in line as the next pin to work on.

Once again, what to bead as a background posed a problem. My main visual memory of Elvis (besides the bad movies), is him decked out in a white jumpsuit embellished with lots of bling. A google search turned up The creator of this site has photos of a history of Elvis stage wear from 1969-1977. There are pictures of Elvis in over 100 jumpsuits. OVER 100!!! The man liked his jumpsuits.

So, in honor of the King, the Tennessee pin has an acoustic guitar, and the background brings to mind a tacky, white jumpsuit. I threw in the electric guitar in honor of some Nashville stars, and because the bead existed! FYI, Elvis apparently never played electric guitar. Who knew? And yes, I know most Nashville starts play acoustic. But some play electric~

Elvis has left the building.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

(24) North Dakota

Capitol: Bismarck

North Dakota is one of the few states I have never visited. Seems I have read some articles about it in National Geographic or Smithsonian magazine. The impression they always paint of North Dakota is that it is a stark, beautiful landscape. Since I am trying to avoid actual landscape on most of my pins, I decided to just go for stark and beautiful. Hence, the choice of only grey beads and a beautiful piece of bead embroidery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(23) New Mexico

Capitol: Santa Fe

I have been pondering what to bead for New Mexico for awhile. I have spent a few weekends in Santa Fe and loved it. We visited a few pueblos, and a really neat little old church. I have also attended a few bead shows there. On another trip we visited Carlsbad Caverns, and naturally drove through Roswell. All these things gave me great ideas for this pin. It was probably going to involve a pueblo-type building, possibly with some alien eyes in the window, or a space ship in the sky.

Then Ruby came along.

Ruby is our new puppy. It took me several years to talk my husband into letting me get a second dog. I wanted a 2-4 year old terrier mix. The day after he agreed to another dog, he suggested we go to the Boulder Humane Society (BHS) and look. There he was, the perfect little terrier mix. Next to him was Ruby, a 4 month old puppy. Bill fell in love. The terrier went to another family.

We adopted Ruby the next morning. She is a purebred cattle-dog-Chinese-shar-pei-whoe-knows-what-else. Every so often BHS goes to a reservation in New Mexico and picks up a bunch of litters of puppies. So, now New Mexico has a whole new meaning to me.

My daughter, Emily, drew me a cute little picture of Ruby. Once I beaded Ruby (note the cute pink collar), I was stuck. I decided to research Native American beadwork in NM. Instead I discovered pottery from the Acoma Pueblo. I decided to bead the background in a pattern from a piece of the beautiful pottery I found.

I am really happy with this piece. I think it is my new favorite.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

(22) Rhode Island
Capitol: Providence

OK, I am finally back on my Pin Project.... YAY! For the past month I have been thinking about the fact that I only have 20 states done, 30 to go. Momentary elation today when I realized I actually had 21 done, only 29 to go.

Ideas for the first 21 states came to me pretty easily. It is getting harder now. All month I had been thinking my next state would be Texas, which was intimidating, because it is the biggest state in this project. Rather than face Texas, I decided to go the opposite route... Rhode Island!! Smallest state in the nation.

Rhode Island posed problems of its own. In this project, RI is 1/4" for 1/8"! It is so small there really isn't much that can be done. I wanted to do something sparkly, because I discovered that Rhode Island is one of the worlds biggest costume jewelry centers. However, the size prohibited a nice, gaudy piece. Instead, I had to settle for the colors of RI's flag, white, blue and gold. I also had to pull out my size 22 seed beads. To give you an idea of how small these are, there are 32-36 beads per inch! There are only 38 beads in this whole piece. 38 beads! Nope, didn't take long!

22 down, 38 to go!

Monday, September 10, 2012

(21) Connecticut

Capitol: Hartford

As this project progresses the ideas get harder and harder. I decided to knock out some of the small states, just to up my numbers. Researched a bunch of states, and settled on Connecticut.

I spent a weekend in CT once, visiting my college sweetheart's family. Had a nice time. I remember it looking a lot like NY. I think we went to see a Jai Alai match? Needless to say, not much to work with... and then there is the size! So, more research.

Did you know that PEZ Candy headquarters is in Orange, CT. I LOVE PEZ! I remember trying to stuff those little rectangle candies in a dispenser, it seemed to take forever. Then it took about 30 seconds to eat them all! The wrapper around the candies when I was little was red, yellow and orange striped, soooo... now my CT pin is a package of PEZ candies! YUM!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

(20) Ohio

Capitol: Columbus

Ohio currently holds a special place in my heart because of my dad's heart. A few years ago it was determined that dad needed heart surgery. We checked with the local hospitals in Rochester, NY, and their success rate with this surgery and a man of my fathers age was about 70%. Checked with the Cleveland Clinic, 96%. Decision made. Off to Cleveland.

I spent 10 days in Cleveland, most of it in my dad's hospital room at the Cleveland Clinic. What an amazing place. Everyone from the doctors down to the people who cleaned the bathroom were wonderful. Our experience at that place was phenomenal. If I ever need heart surgery, off to Cleveland. Nuff said.

Again, size posed a challenge. I decided to go with the Cleveland Clinic logo. Research led me to the following info: The old logo of the Cleveland Clinic was developed in 1984 and was a gold square sitting atop of four green squares. Each square represents one of the Clinics four founders. The four squares also represent each of the major areas of the Foundation: Inpatient care, Outpatient care, Research, and Education.

The new logo is a white square sitting atop of four blue and green squares. In addition, the hospital changed its name from "Cleveland Clinic Foundation" to the shorter "Cleveland Clinic".

No information on why the colors of the squares changed.

The dot close to the center is not part of the logo, it is the capitol of Ohio, Columbus.

(19) Idaho

Capitol: Boise

For some reason I decided to bead Idaho 19th. Idaho may be one of the few states I have never been to. Looks like there is a road trip in my future!

I did a little research, and learned that Idaho's nickname is the "Gem State", because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found there. Cool. Additionally, Idaho is sometimes called the "Potato State", owing to its popular crop. Armed with these facts, and the fact that this is the 60th anniversary of Mr. PotatoHead, I tried to come up with a cool design involving Mr. PotatoHead and gems. No luck. Mr PotatoHead turned out to be too difficult in this scale. Darn. So I decide to run with the whole "Gem State" thing.

A little more research led me to "Gemstones from Heaven". I found the following info: "Terry Clark of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho claims that he witnessed gemstone's falling into his yard from heaven. In addition, Terry claimed that on several occasions he received gems as the result of angelic visitation. His church, The Gateway Fellowship of Coeur d'Alene Idaho, has identified this particular angel as "Emma" and noted that she is associated with prosperity." Wow. Gemstones and angels!!! Decided not to use this, but still found it worth sharing.

I decided the best way to pay tribute to the "Gem State" was to cover it with various gemstones. I like it. Hope you do.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

(18) Utah

Capitol: Salt Lake City.

Yay, I'm back! Every summer I have all these grand plans to bead 3-4 hours a day while why kids entertain themselves. HA! This year I just admitted defeat, realizing that I would not be beading until school started. Made for a much less stressful summer. But now the devil-children are back in school, and I finally have some time to myself.

I have been having a hard time figuring out what to do for many of the remaining states. Finally jumped back in with Utah. My first thought was bicycling, since we love to go to Moab, Utah mountain biking. Hard to make a little, teeny bike out of beads though. However, another thing I like about Utah is the beehive on the state highway signs. I also get a kick out of that fact that Utah's state emblem is the beehive. Makes me giggle thinking that the state that is home to the Mormon faith --- a religion that accepted polygamy in the early days (but they do not now, just the crazy fundamentalists who broke from the church over their beliefs) has an emblem that supports female polygamy.... since the queen bee mates with several males. OK, I know it is a stretch, but it still makes me giggle.

I decided to do a little research on the whole beehive thing.

So, why is Utah the beehive state? According to "The beehive became the official state emblem on March 4, 1959. Utahans relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance. The beehive was chosen as the emblem for the provisional State of Deseret in 1848 and was maintained on the seal of the State of Utah when Utah became a state in 1896. "

According to "Salt Lake Magazine", "...few native and resident Utahns know the reason Utah is called "The Beehive State." It has nothing to do with insects-the state ranks 24th in the U.S. in honey production-and everything to do with ancient symbolism. But I'm surprised how few native and resident Utahns know the reason Utah is called "The Beehive State." It has nothing to do with insects-the state ranks 24th in the U.S. in honey production-and everything to do with ancient symbolism.

"The beehive has been used as a symbol for thousands of years," according to historian Mark Staker, an expert on early Mormon anthropology at the LDS Church's Family History Center. "The Bible refers to the Promised Land as "the land of milk and honey." "

This article had lots more interesting info. If you are interested, go to

While researching the Utah-beehive connection I stumbled upon another interesting fact about Utah: On May 10, 1869, two steam locomotives met at Promontory, Utah, for the "Joining of the Rails Ceremony," at which the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads completed the transcontinental route. The event was crucial to the development of the American West because it made cross-country travel more convenient and economical.

Soooo... I decided to use both a beehive and a railroad track in this pin. The background symbolizes the beautiful red rock landscape in Moab, Arches, etc.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

(17) New Jersey

Capitol: Newark

It is getting harder and harder to decide what state to do next lately. New Jersey came up in conversation recently, so it moved to the top of the queue. Overall, New Jersey tends to get somewhat of a bad rap. Suggestions for beading this state involve nuclear waste, route 95 ("oh yeah, what exit?") the Soprano's, Snookie... ewe! Then Snooks had to compete with the crazy "Tan Mom" who has made headlines lately, not helping New Jerseys cause! I considered just making the whole state tan, but I am trying to keep all my themes positive.

What do I think of when I think of New Jersey? First, Bruce Springsteen... my all time favorite musician. However, hard to portray in beads on a 3/4" x 1/4" surface! Next, I dated a guy from Ocean City, NJ for awhile and spent some time there. Negatives: the Blue Laws (which have since been rescinded I believe). Because of religious zealots in the early days of NJ, there were some bizarre laws. Businesses in Ocean City were not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages. No glass of wine in a nice restaurant, etc. Fortunately, at the border of the city were several non-Ocean City establishments ready and willing to sell you alcohol. Another interesting Blue Law had to do with Sunday. No business could sell you items on a Sunday that caused you to do work. For instance, they could sell pre made sandwiches, but not mayonnaise... because you had to make a sandwich with mayo... work. My favorite quirk of this law was that they could sell you paper napkins, but they couldn't sell you toilet paper! I guess you had to work with.... oh, never mind!

Positives: the beach, the boardwalk, again, hard to bead. Also, my friend, Cathy Salerno lives in a beautiful area of NJ. When I last visited her I remember how lush everything was, there were flowers everywhere. Because of this visit, I decided to go with what they advertise on their license plates: New Jersey: the Garden State. Flowers.

As for the construction of this piece... I wanted to bead as many flowers as I could, so I decided to use size 18-22 seed beads. For anyone who hasn't worked with this size bead, they are is like trying to thread sand onto a hair... really small! Try it... once.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

(16) New York

Capitol: Albany

Today's entry is New York. This one was particularly hard to come up with since I am from NY. There are soooo many things I could have done with this pin. I had many helpful suggestions, but must address one... NYC. Many people suggested beading something to do with NYC. First of all, there is a WHOLE state attached to NYC. Many residents in Massachussets, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey live closer to NYC than much of NY State. So please, stop asking New Yorkers why they don't have an accent!!!

OK, now that that is off my chest...I grew up in Mt. Morris, in Western NY. Population: 3500. I knew people from NYC who had more kids in their graduating class than there were people in my town. We are different from the city!!! Ooops, sorry. Back to Mt. Morris. I could have beaded many things representing my childhood... my family, St. Patrick's School (K-6), Mount Morris Central School Blue Devils!, Letchworth State Park - Grand Canyon of the East, where I lifeguarded for 6 summers, boating on Conesus Lake, College (ok, for those who really know me, colleges). After much thought, I narrowed my idea down to a few things.

First, I wanted to represent the Finger Lakes Region, where I grew up. We had a cottage on Conesus Lake, which I like to call a hangnail of the Finger Lakes. I vaguely remember an Indian tale indicating that the Finger Lakes were carved by a great spirit. After a little googling (when will that stop sounding perverted?) I discovered several theories about why they are called the Finger Lakes:

  1. According to They are long and narrow like fingers. One Folktale about their creation was that Paul Bunyon fell down, and his fingers left the depressions in them.
  2. According to Wikipedia: These largest lakes resemble the others in shape, which collectively reminded early map-makers of human fingers.
  3. Good Morning America: "They are called Finger Lakes because the last time the glaciers receded from this area they gouged out these long, linear [lakes], the longest of which is 40 miles long. There are 11 lakes that are extended like the fingers on one's hands."
  4. The Iroquois, specifically the Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora tribes, lived in the upstate New York region called the Finger Lakes. They believed the Great Spirit Manitou rested his hand upon the earth in gratitude for their courage in battle and devotion.

I'm going with the Indians belief, sounds reasonable. This explains the silver hand that adorns the Finger Lakes region on this pin.

Next, Francis Bellamy. Who? Whenever someone asks me where I grew up, my response is Mt. Morris, NY, birthplace of Francis Bellamy. Never, in over 30 years of irritating people with this response has anyone actually known who Francis Bellamy was. So, this is my opportunity to educate at least a small (but incredibly important, beautiful, funny smart..!) segment of society. Francis Bellamy wrote the "Pledge of Allegiance." Now, most of is were required to recite the pledge daily at school during our childhoods. Wouldn't you think that somewhere along the line someone would've actually mentioned who wrote it!?! Everyone one knows who wrote the "Star Spangled Banner", and most of us couldn't even sing that one! Therefore, in honor of Francis Bellamy I made the rest of the state flag-like.

You're welcome.

And finally, I added a few little touches... notice the "diamond ring" on the hand. That is to represent my wedding in the Finger Lakes region. And in the palm of the hand are 3 little blue beads and 1 little pink one. Those are to represent the four Long siblings (my maiden name is Long), all born in... you guessed it... the Finger Lakes Region!

Now, for the beaders in the group, I tried a new material for the base of the bead embroidery for this pin. There is something at Michaels called stiff felt. It works great. And it doesn't have the little fibers like my yard sale stuff.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

(15) North Carolina

Capitol: Raleigh

Up until this point, after finishing each pin another idea was already in my head. Not so this time. I think I am struggling with Rhode Island. It's so darn little! Seriously, it probably can't even be an earring! Instead of figuring this out, I decided to avoid the issue for awhile. Finally, North Carolina popped into my head.

At first thought, North Carolina conjures up vacations to the Outer Banks. Bill and I have been there a few times with friends, and once my parents rented a beach house for my whole extended family. That was a fun week! Hard to put into beads though! Further thought brought back memories of a wonderful week I spent at the "John C. Campbell Folk School". To quote their website: "John C. Campbell Folk School provides experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing."

Somewhere in the nineties I took a weeklong stained glass class at the school. Before beading, stained glass was my hobby of choice. A beaded work of stained glass seemed the logical choice for NC. This pattern is similar to one of the pieces I worked on the John C. Campbell Folk School. I still have all of my stained glass tools and a bunch of glass in my basement. Wonder if I will ever get back to it?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

(14) Vermont

Capitol: Montpelier

OK, I need some instant gratification, so it's time to work on some of the northeast states. They are soooo small on this scale. I was trying to think up ideas for Rhode Island last night, and my daughter pointed out that there was only room for the capitol bead and an outline!!! Not much to work with. And forget finding a pin back for that one, it is 1/4" x 1/8"!!! I'll be lucky if it can be attached to an earring back!

So, in honor of my friend, Sue Sudia, I decided to bead Vermont.

Growing up in Western NY, when I thought of Vermont I thought of skiing. I spent most of my childhood skiing at Swain, NY, vertical drop a whopping 650 feet! So skiing in Vermont was the Holy Grail. That was, until I moved to Colorado. Sorry Vermont. You've got nothing on Colorado when it comes to big mountains and great snow. However, you beat the pants off of Colorado when it comes to fall foliage! After 17 years in Colorado I still laugh at the excitement over Fall colors. In the mountains, Fall colors are green evergreens with a sprinkling of yellow Aspen leaves. That's it. Yellow. Vermont gives you all sorts of shades of yellows, oranges, reds, browns, and who knows what. So hold your head high Vermont!

The trouble with this project is the sized of some of the states. Vermont is 7/8" x 1/2". Not much space to work with. I beaded the whole base brown, for the bark of trees (see below). Then I made as many 3D leaves as I could squish into that little space, using yellows, tans, oranges, reds. The picture doesn't do it justice, it is adorable!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(13) Oregon

Capitol: Salem

Took a forced week off from my Pin Project to plan, execute, and recover from my husband's 50th birthday party. PHEW. Glad that is over. I learned that when you throw your husband a big party the night before Mother's Day, you aren't getting breakfast in bed! Or lunch, or even dinner out for that matter! Soooo, I officially postponed my Mother's Day until the following weekend.

For some reason I needed to bead Oregon next. The only time I have ever been to Oregon was to attend a "Bead and Button" show in Portland. I was a little disappointed that it was in Portland, because I wanted to be able to spend all of my time taking classes and buying beads, but Portland is such a neat place I had to "waste" valuable bead time exploring the city. Needless to say, I was excited when the show was moved to Milwaukee, because I figured there would be nothing to do there, so it would be easy to stay inside. WRONG! Milwaukee is also a neat city with lots to do, and lots of great restaurants. My solution to this problem is to spend more time attending the show, so I have more time to play in the city. Much easier now that my kids are more self-sufficient.

Back to Oregon... while I was in Portland I bought my husband a neat t-shirt with what I later learned was a totem design on the front. The shirt is long gone, but that design is what I think of when I think of Oregon. I did a little googling and discovered the type of art on the shirt was Haida. Unfortunately, all the examples of this art were so detailed it was hard to shrink it down to a 2" x 1 1/2" state of Oregon. First I enlisted the help of my artistic daughter, Emily, to help. She came up with some beautiful designs, but each was just too detailed to bead in this scale. I could've brought out my stash of size 20-22 seed beads, but last time I did that I had to up my glasses prescription! So, I took a little piece out of a work by the late artist Bill Reid. You can view some of his fabulous work online, at I'm pretty sure this piece is some sort of bird, probably a raven, as they play heavily in Haida art.

This was a tough piece to bead because of the precision the design involved. I had a least two needles going most of the time, making sure the rows of beads laid correctly. Then, the curse of "13" struck. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and realized that I had not put the little silver bead that represented the capitol on! Grrrr. First thing this morning I had to delicately break two beads out of the design, and sneak the silver bead in there. Phew.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(12) California

Capitol: Sacramento

OK, California started out as a hard one. First, it's a big one (still worrying about Texas!). An obvious idea is Hollywood, but I've already done tacky (see Nevada). Many people suggested San Francisco area sights, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Muir Woods, Monterey Bay, Cannery Row, etc. Trouble is, this project is not a highlight of tourist sights in each state (maybe some states, but not every state). None of the suggestions were inspiring.

Once again I had to turn to my view of the place. I have lived in California twice, in the LA area, and the San Jose area. I have friends and family that live in CA.

I have also visited many times. There is so much to see and do there. Turns out, after all the time I've spent there, my favorite thing to do in CA is to look for cool sea life in tide pools. Coincidentally, I also have a necklace/bracelet set I made that reminds me of tide pools. I have been dying to do some crazy bead embroidery (especially after attending the RMBS Bead Show last weekend that was so inspiring). Also, with global warming, there will probably be lots more tide pools for me to enjoy in coming years!

Sooooo, I present my California pin, a tide pool. For serious bead geeks, here are a few close ups.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(11) Nevada

The "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign continues to stalk me. Today I was behind a car from Nevada, and the sign is on their license plate. AAAAAH!

My goal was to make Nevada as Vegas-tacky as possible... I think I may have overachieved! I used some very sparkly sequins, along with lined drops that look like lights. Love it!

Capital: Carson City (Kind of makes you think of "Bonanza", doesn't it!)

I am taking some beading time this week to finish the first 10 pins. I was on a creative beading frenzy for awhile, so didn't want to take the time to do the edging and backing. Boring.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas popped into my head. Well, it didn't really pop into my head, in was shoved in there while watching TV. Probably some stupid crime show based in Vegas. The iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign has been stalking me. Every time I turn on TV, there it is. So, I will take that as a sign (no pun intended) that Nevada should be beaded next.

I have driven through Nevada a few times, and lets just say I'm not a fan. Attractive as Vegas is, I'm not a gambler. Also, the three times I visited Vegas it rained...amazing amounts of rain... flooding streets...water up to the bottom of your car type of rain. Nope. Didn't like it. I did spend some time skiing in the Lake Tahoe area (Mt. Rose, Nevada), and saw a show in Reno, a mini-Vegas as far as I could see. On one trip through Winnemucca was particularly interesting, we saw a huge badger standing on his hind legs, by the side of the road. Very cool, but I just beaded a grizzly bear, not in the mood.

So, Vegas it is. I wanted to make the iconic "Welcome" sign, but the scale of this project, and the size of my letter beads ruled out an exact reproduction. So, instead, I will make up my own, gaudy Vegas sign. Very excited to use my lined drop beads as the lights, and to see how gaudy I can get! Lets see how this goes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

(10) Louisiana

I don't know why I decided to bead Louisiana 10th, but I did. My original thoughts of Louisiana were Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. I had a cool bead idea for the hurricane, but decided this was all too negative. Also, Louisiana (in this scale) is pretty small. So I pondered some more.

In 1994 Bill and I joined friends in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl - Florida Gators vs. West Virginia Mountaineers. (Gators won). I thought about representing this weekend, we went to the game, saw Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform in Preservation Hall (amazing!!!), ate lots of wonderful food, and drank lots of fun drinks. Too much! Back to the drawing board.

My 3 trips to Louisiana were all to New Orleans. So, I decided to go with that. My favorite kitschy tourist spot was "Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo". The other thing I love about New Orleans is Mardi Gras (even though I have never been to it). For years my Uncle Charlie used to send me a King Cake for Mardi Gras, with purple, green and gold coins and beads included.

I decided to use those two things for this pin. I made a cute little voodoo doll out of felt. She has a little heart sewn on her to represent love and hope for New Orleans (and Louisiana). Then I surrounded her with purple, green and gold beads.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(9) Montana

Capitol: Helena

OK, my entries up to now have been from my notes. Now I'm working the project/blog at the same time, so you'll be getting more information than you care to read. You can always just look at the pictures!

I had quite a bit of trouble coming up with what state to do next (by the way, I am always open to suggestions!). The first 8 came to me easily. Not so for the 9th. For some reason I decided to work on Montana. Years ago I spent a week skiing in Montana with my husband, my brother, Fran, and a group of my brothers co-workers from Kodak, in Rochester, NY. It was not long after the movie "A River Runs Through it" , which was set in Missoula, MT, came out. Much of the drive from the airport to our accommodations near Big Sky ski area was along a river. Naturally, there were many comments about a river running through Montana. Way too many comments. So, my first thought was mountains, a river,... you get the picture.

I did a bit of googling and found that the state animal for Montana is the grizzly bear. That sounded like more fun to bead than more mountains (did that in CO!). I found a nice silhouette of a grizzly, facing to the right, and super-imposed it on Montana. It was a good idea, but no matter how I sized it, the capitol of Montana, Helena, kept ending up in the bears butt, or other private parts. Unacceptable. Now what? Well, a few years ago I read "Three Cups of Tea", by Bozeman-ian Greg Mortenson. I loved that book, despite the brouhaha that followed. I decided a cup of tea, with a bear on it.

Then, as I was organizing my stuff the bear got flipped upside-down, at which point it occurred to me, he doesn't have to be facing to the right... Helena can be in front of him. Wow. I can't believe how long it took me to come to this! Sucks getting old. So - a bear it is. The background will probably involved a river, but that's thinking to far ahead.

Decided to bead the bear with 15s, in several shades of black and brown. A bit messy, so it would look like the bears fur. Here is a picture of my workspace with a partially beaded bear.

Here is a picture of the partially beaded bear. The little dot in front of the bear is Helena. It will be represented by a silver bead, just like all the other capitols. The picture doesn't do the browns and blacks justice, it looks much better in person.

To give you and idea of the size, the Montana pin will be approximately 3" x 2".

Next is a picture of the back of the piece, so you can see how much sewing is involved.

When I finish beading Montana I will update this post and put a picture at the beginning.

OK, for the background of Montana I started thinking about our time in Yellowstone State Park. I decided to put the bear in the park setting, with "Old Faithful" in the background. Scale's not great, but hey, I only have 3" x 2" and beads to work with!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

(8) Arizona

Capitol: Phoenix

Our Spring break plans landed us in Sedona, AZ this March. Thus, Arizona's role in this bead pin project rotation. My original plans for Arizona involved saguaro cactus, and muted tans and pink/oranges of the Painted Desert. I wanted to give the desert a 3-D effect, but couldn't draw it ( actually, I can't draw anything ), so, after finishing beading my saguaro, I went to bed. Before nodding off I remember encountering a "vortex" in Sedona. I didn't actually experience it, there was a sign! In a nutshell (emphasis on "nut"), "Sedona vortexes are created, not by wind or water, but from spiraling spiritual energy." Need more info, try Google.

So, my beautiful saguaro cactus is paired with a painted desert "vortex", and a beautiful turquoise sky. Very Southwestern.

DISCLAIMER: Not calling "vortex people" nuts, however, it was a hard concept to take seriously when my introduction was a 8" x 11 1/2" piece of paper with the word "Vortex" , and an arrow pointing to a chair in a lawn ornament store!

(7) Kentucky

I was looking at some bone horses I have and started thinking about the Kentucky Derby. This thought led to Kentucky Bluegrass, the lawn variety. When I googled "Kentucky Bluegrass" it brought up information on Kentucky Blue Grass, the musical variety. ... along with some bizarre pictures of Kentucky Blue people, but you will have to research that one yourself.

So, I decided upon a beaded banjo, along with some nice "blue" grass. Clever, huh?

Another "Bead Grop" meeting brought more encouraging words.

Capitol: Frankfort (who knew?)

(6) Wisconsin

In early March I was stuck home, having carpeting ripped out/installed. I was daydreaming about attending the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, in June. So, time to bead Wisconsin.

It used to be when I thought about Wisconsin, it was all about cheese. Now, with the Bead & Button show a yearly event in Milwaukee, when Wisconsin is mentioned, I think about beads,...and cheese. (And Harley Davidson's, which are built in Milwaukee, but beading that would've been a huge project in itself!). Cheese colors don't lend themselves to beading, so I'll get back to basics, ... cows.

I liked the thought of Wisconsin as a black and white cowhide. Then, there will be an explosion of beads around Milwaukee.

Capitol: Madison

(5) Pennsylvania

I have spent a lot of time driving through Pennsylvania. Bill and I used to live in Maryland, and we would drive through PA to visit my folks on Conesus Lake, in western NY. I lived in Maryland for almost 10 years. That's a lot of trips through PA.

One lovely Fall weekend in 1989 Bill and I spend the night in the Amish Country in PA. We were engaged in a lovely little restaurant. We returned for our first wedding anniversary, and bough a lovely Amish quilt. Years later, before moving to Colorado, I spent another weekend in Amish country with my parents. Between us we bought 4 more Amish quilts. (Unfortunately, only one for me!).

So - Pennsylvania - quilts.

Capitol: Harrisburg

(4) Georgia

When I think of Georgia, I think of Georgia peaches. When I mention Georgia, the overwhelming response is "Georgia peaches". So, I'm thinking a tree with peach colored bead embroidery.

At this point I was getting more confident with my project so I decided to share it with my monthly "Bead Grop". A group of us get together monthly to bead and babble at "Nomad Bead Merchants", a wonderful bead shop in Boulder, CO. It's "Bead Grop", because "group" was misspelled in the first email, and it stuck. They were very encouraging, so on I beaded. Georgia came out great. So far it is my favorite. I love the tree and plan on incorporating it into something else one of these days.

Capitol: Atlanta

(3) Kansas

"Why would you choose to bead Kansas third?", you may ask. Well, years ago Bill and I drove through Kansas while moving back to Maryland from the San Jose area. It seemed like the looooooongest state ever! Nothing but highway, wind, and wheat fields. Visually, that lends a great idea ... bugle bead wheat fields.

We also did see the "Greyhound Hall of Fame" (dogs, not busses) in Abiline, KS, but that's another story.

Speaking of dogs, our golden-doodle, Sparky, hails from Kansas... Four Paws Doodles... Dood Ranch!

Capital: Topeka (note the silver bead on the right end of the road, where Topeka would be!)

(2) Florida

Months after beading Colorado, my interest in this project was renewed. For some reason I couldn't get Florida's nickname,"The Sunshine State" (adopted officially by Florida legislature in 1970), out of my head. So, I glued a mini face cabochon (made of bone) on to the base and beaded sunshine. I tried to made the beading look a little messy, and it came out great. I used yellow and orange size 15 seed beads with various finishes.

Also, it felt necessary to bead a panhandle on the "panhandle". All of my Revereware pots and pans have a black handle with a silver loop on the end. So, I beaded a black panhandle, with a silver jump ring.

What does Florida mean to me? Well, sun! Not just weather wise, but personally, as my sweet spouse is a Floridian. And then, the panhandle and the sun make me think of fried eggs, which Bill frequently makes for me. Yumm!

Florida isn't quite finished yet. I still have to add the pin back, backing, and edging. I'll update the photo when I do.

Capitol: Tallahasee

(1) Colorado

Since I live in Colorado, it was the obvious first choice to bead. I actually beaded Colorado over a year ago. Back then I researched (a little) and found the following:

State Capitol: Denver

State Flower: Rocky Mountain Columbine
State Bird: Lark Bunting
State Gem: Aquamarine
State Tree: Blue Spruce
State Mineral: Rhodochrosite
State Bug: Hairstreak Butterfly

State Flag Colors: red, white, blue, yellow

State Nicknames: Centennial State, Colorful Colorado

Economy: agriculture, cattle, wheat dairy, corn, hay, tourism

Industry: blah blah blah

Waaaay too much information. That was when I decided to just go with what Colorado means to me... home, mountains, skiing, BLUE skies.

I ended up beading 3 peaks, one with our house, 1 with evergreens and aspens in Fall (aspens leaves turn yellow), and one with a ski slope.

Where to Begin

Now, about the states... Originally I was going to research each state a little - state flower, state bird, economy, flag, nicknames, gemstone, tree, mineral, but, etc. Two problems... too much work, and too much info. Most pins are smaller than 2 square inches. Instead, I will bead (or whatever) each state considering what it means to me. Ideas lacking, I can always fall back on research.
Next, how to make each pin. Bead embroidery is my obvious first choice. Will I do them all in bead embroidery, or mix it up. I've started with bead embroidery, but I thinks I progress other methods may be used.
Possibilities: various techniques of bead embroidery (with various types/sizes of beads), peyote, brick stitch, herringbone, metal work, paper, glass, loom. And whatever else may pop into my head.
I do want to have a common thread throughout the project. I will stitch a silver, stamped bead to the capitol on each state.

The Beginning of a New Project

My children's plastic "Map of the USA" placemat has been with us for a long time. The kids have eaten many meals on it, and learned much about the States. Frequently we discussed different states, and whether or not we had been there, and if so, what we learned.
We don't use the placemat much anymore, but I just can't throw it out. Then it gave me an idea for a fun project. I am going to bead all 50 states, pin by pin, in honor of "The Placemat".