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".