Friday, November 14, 2008

The Lone Beader. Beading as Contemporary Art

If you make search in Wikipedia by the word "beader", it will suggest you a few definitions, one of them says, "A beader uses beads to create many kinds of decorative items." Don't try to find in encyclopedia who The Lone Beader is. To start, we will tell you, that The Lone Beader is an extraordinary bead embroidery artist. Would you like to know some more? OK, The Lone Beader tells you her story on beads, bead embroidery, and beading as contemporary art.

"I have always been involved in the arts ever since I can remember. During elementary school in Erie, PA, I loved both art and music class, but I had a strong preference for music. I learned how to play the viola and I was very active in music all through my childhood.

Music was my #1 priority, but I had other interests, as well. I loved coloring and painting. My younger sister and I were always doing something creative. I remember that we made a lot of beaded necklaces and collages, but I think we tried almost every kind of craft at least once. My mother was always telling me I should try drawing, but I never thought I could, so she showed me how to cross-stitch. I remember spending hours outside under a tree working on my needlecraft.

My father also influenced me in a much different way. He loved racing cars and flying airplanes, and was always taking me with him on his journeys. Because of him, I had great big dreams of becoming an astronaut, fighter pilot, or roller coaster engineer. But instead, I decided to study music in Boston.

During college, I began working in the theatre, setting up rock concerts for a living. While I have worked other jobs, this was the only one that has interested me enough to stick with for well over a decade - perhaps it is because this career's infrequent schedule has given me the opportunity to rediscover the arts.

It never occurred to me to pursue a visual art until about 6 years ago. One day, I walked into a bead shop in Boston, and when I saw all of the seed beads, I felt like I finally found what I had been searching for. So, I started reading books and magazines and teaching myself how to make complex jewelry designs in almost every technique. But, when I tried bead embroidery, I knew this was what I loved most.

The idea for my first bead painting came after I embroidered a 6" x 9" panel depicting a flock of flamingos. I needed a way to display the finished piece, so I stitched the beaded panel to a canvas and painted in the extended environment. It was a simple concept, but I really liked the result, so I sent in a photo to Bead & Button Magazine. They published Flamingo Moon in 2005. That publication eventually led to my first commission, which was an experience that helped me find my artistic path, and has driven me to follow it..."

Full story by The Lone Beader

Beading as Contemporary Art

About artist:

The Lone Beader, Massachusetts, USA
Official Website:
E-mail address:
Gallery Shop:

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Beaded jewelry by Jama Watts

Jama Watts was born, raised and currently lives in Kentucky. She was introduced to art as most kids, in elementary school. "Getting to go to the art room in elementary school was always something special for me," Jama said. "I loved getting my hands dirty with clay, painting and drawing. But, since my dad was an engineer and I was good at math, I always thought I'd be an architect."

Watts took mostly construction, drafting and other classes in middle and high school, but during the summer of 1992 she began to focus on drama and the arts, and later Jama decided to study art in college. After graduating from college Jama has spent a few years working in jobs that had nothing to do with the arts. In 200 Jama had a life-changing moment: needing a creative outlet, she began stringing beads and making rosaries to pass time. She is a self-taught beader, learning through books, magazines and experience.

Shortly after her daughter, Amber, was born, Jama left her office job and opened a small art gallery and coffee bar in Lebanon. The gallery, These Precious Things, represents 30 central Kentucky artists, allowing Jama to spend "down time" making jewelry at her desk.

The ideas for her pieces come from a variety of sources. She has a slight addiction to beading magazines and books but most of her inspiration comes from a background in painting, sculpture and nature. She loves color and texture, which shows in her jewelry. Jama often begins a piece as a way to examine a new stitch or color palette then lets the piece tell her where it wants to go. Her favorite work is in freeform beading as she feels it allows her to express herself more freely.

Jama has come to think of her pieces as "wearable art" rather than "just jewelry," which she feels allows her greater creativity when designing and working on her pieces. Watts' work is also a reflection of what she's into or going through at the moment she makes the piece. Music, emotions and paintings are starting points for many pieces, as is the desire to test out a new stitch.

"I'm very ADD when it comes to my craft, learning new techniques constantly and playing with the results," she said. "I guess you could call it contemporary tradition! I do everything from pieces that look vintage to incorporating computer and watch parts into my pieces."

Watts has ventured into cold-connected metal work, wire wrapping and silver clay but always returns to the beads, elaborating on traditional designs and creating her own. Her work has been featured in many national and local magazines, media and Internet outlets. She also filmed a segment for HGTV's "That's Clever!" which is tentatively scheduled to air in February 2009. Jama is a winner of several awards for her pieces over the last few years, she is an active member of beading and art associations. She also enjoys teaching jewelry-making classes at the local community education center. Jama's work can be found in her own gallery These Precious Things in Lebanon, KY, as well as in several retail outlets throughout Kentucky.

An article by Jama Watts

Beaded jewelry by Jama Watts

About artist:

Jama Watts, Lebanon, Kentucky, USA
E-mail address:

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Celebrating Beads, the journey of... Pictures

At last! A week ago I had a chance to go to the Bead Museum in Washington, DC and to see all winner items of the Celebrating Beads, the journey of... contest. I tried to make some pictures but it was pretty hard using my old camera.

All items were in cases, and the light in the room wasn't bright, so I had to use flash on my camera, that's why the pictures are of such quality... Anyway, my husband and I enjoyed watching all amazing works live! I'd like to congratulate the winners, the finalists and the participants of the Celebrating Beads contest, I know many of them, and to wish them all best of luck!

Slide show: Celebrating Beads Winner Items

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Google for beaded jewelry!

On October, 17th, I discovered that the Google search for "beaded jewelry" returned 2,340,000 websites with on the first place. I could hardly believe that! I checked out the same search criteria next day, in a week, in two weeks, but my website is still on the first position. I'm pretty excited!

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Celebrating Beads, the journey of... Bead Gala

Celebrating Beads, the journey of... First Annual International Juried Jewelry Design Competition is over, bead artists from over 14 countries and 33 states participated in the contest. The culmination of the competition was The Passion for Beads Gala held at the Naval Heritage Memorial Center in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 20th, 2008. There I met one of my readers - The Lone Beader, and I was happy! We talked a lot and we are like old friends now!

The Lone Beader, an extraordinary bead embroidery artist from Boston, MA, and me

It was really exciting event, where the contest winners were announced, and the World Premier of Diana Friedberg's final documentary in her award winning series World on a String, Part V: A Passion for Beads took place. This documentary features bead makers and jewelry designers from around the world and was the perfect touch for that evening Celebrating Beads and the designers who make and use them.

Rafael Matias, California, USA, a guest artist from the documentary

I met many wonderful people at the Gala: four of contest jurors, editors from two national beading magazines, and a lot of contest participants. It was my first such an event, and I can say that the entire experience was necessary, fun, and interesting.

Slide show: The Passion for Beads Gala

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Place in 2008 Celebrating Beads, the jorney of... contest!


Last night at the Bead Gala in the US Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center in Washington, DC my necklace Mid Summer Night's Dream was announced as the First Place winner of the 2008 Celebrating Beads, the jorney of... International Juried Jewelry Design Competition (seed bead category)! I'm happy! :)

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2008 Beading Contest

FMG 2008 Beading Contest winners were announced a couple of weeks ago. Not gold, not silver, not bronze, I got just Judge's Favorite Award for two necklaces (Midnight Flowers and Shahrazad), and Golden Rose Necklace made FMG final.

Here are the links to these items:

Midnight Flowers Necklace
Shahrazad Necklace
Golden Rose Necklace

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Art Activated at the Torpedo Factory

Visual art came alive at the Torpedo Factory during the Alexandria Festival of the Arts! On September, 13th, TFAC artists demonstrated pottery on the wheel, painting, enamel work, printmaking, and much more.

Guests got creative with the popular Champagne Cork Chairs Workshop and fiber art activities, while the Alexandria Archaeology Museum joined the fun with a history-inspired drawing activity. Storytelling and flute performances, art-inspired dance vignettes, and so on. It was a really exciting event!

Art Activated at the Torpedo Factory

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wirework jewelry by Carina Veling

Interview with wirework artist Carina Veling

Carina Veling lives in a small village in the Venlo region, in the south of the Netherlands, and has been making jewelry and other art for much of her life. When she was 14 years old she began to make jewelry, and has since ventured into many materials and techniques. Some of the techniques that she has used are wire wrapping, chainmaille, beadweaving, stringing, wire crochet, netting, and polymer clay as well as many others. We have known Carina for a long time, found her jewelry adorable. and asked her for an interview. She was so kind that agreed to answer all our questions. Thank you, Carina!

1. Carina, how long have you been making jewelry?

Hard to say, when I was 14 years or so I made earrings for myself and friends of mine (I think I still have them now - I'm kidding). The earrings were made using ballpoint springs and seed beads. Furthermore, I have done different things in the creative fields, such as 3D greeting cards, pergamano greeting cards, and embroidery on greeting cards. Then I discovered embroidering with beads on greeting cards. A few years ago I discovered and I bought my first hobby jig (a green plastic thing), and I made a few necklaces, earrings and bracelets with it.

2. What or who inspires you for that?

In December 2004, I became a member of the B&B forum, my first beaders' community and I was amazed by the work of many others. My heroes at that time were MEW (Middle Earth Wire), Totemic (John Wik) and Gwen Fisher. Lately I'm more active on the Starving Artists and Jewelry Artists websites, where I have met some more my favorite artists, among them are: Zoya Gutina, Jacksmom, Kvorrie, RubyBee, etc. Of course you can also find me on a few Dutch forums where I've also got a few favorites: Blackcrow, Miranda, Ineke, Armande, and CarolinaG, to count just a few.

3. Are you a self taught jewelry maker or have you taken classes?

I have never taken any classes. I was inspired and encouraged to try what I'm doing now by the work of the other artists. In my country there have been little to no workshops or classes. Everything I wanted to learn I had to collect from the Internet. So far this has been fine; I design my jewelry trying to follow my friends' and other artists' advice, and mostly I succeed with the first tries. If not, I keep going until I am successful.

4. Have you already chosen the particular type of jewelry to make?

Well, even now, I change my preferences. Today I like stringing, tomorrow I might start making some beaded beads and so on. At this moment I have returned to chainmaille and wire wrapping.

5. What kind of techniques have you tried?

You may ask what I have not tried. Yet, I'll try to give you a short list of things that I have done: wire wrapping, chainmaille, beadweaving, stringing, wire crochet, netting, polymer clay, etc.

6. Which technique do you like best of all and why?

The best techniques I found are wire wrapping and chainmaille. I do not know why, probably because they are soothing and relaxing.

7. What are your favorite materials?

Gemstones, sterling silver, silverplated artistic wire, crystals, copper wire. I can work with whatever is available, even plastic or acrylic beads when they are nice.

8. Do you plan your work or don't you know the result in advance?

As a rule, I make a drawing or a sketch of my new project, but when I start creating a new piece sometimes it appears to be not feasible and I have to make minor adjustments. In some cases, I know in advance what I want to make, but very often it ends up completely different as what I had in my mind before, usually better. Sometimes it can happen that I just start and let the beads and wire guide me.

9. How much time does a new item take you?

I don't know, it depends on what I'm making, it can vary from 15 minutes to a few hours.

10. How do you find the themes for your creations?

I think the most I get inspired by the work and ideas of others, but I change the design so they are completely different at the end. Often, photographs in magazines or on the Internet can inspire me for my items. Sometimes I see something in a store (even in a hardware store) or I find something during cleanup that makes me think: "Yes, I could use that for my design." This is what happened the last time, when I found a box with tap rubbers, which are now included in my chainmaille necklace and earrings.

11. How would you describe your style and the signature of your jewelry?

I do not know whether I have a style, let alone a signature. I just make what comes to my head. If you have a name for that, feel free to let me know.

12. What do you like in jewelry trends?

Not much, frankly, I do not pay attention to the trends, I make what I like. The disadvantage of trends is that everyone makes jewelry of the same look and very soon it becomes boring.

13. What jewelry style is your favorite?

Romantic Goth and Victorian, but in a modern twist.

14. Jewelry of which modern artists do you like and why?

I'm not fond of modern jewelry and I don't know the names of the artists who make modern jewelry. But I do love the work of Raven Eve, mainly because of the style and because she is not afraid of using the materials she uses.

15. Do you participate in any jewelry design contests and exhibits?

Sometimes I do participate in contests, but more for fun and to see how I can be creative to compare to the other artists than to win. Exhibitions seem to be fun, unfortunately there are no opportunities in my region for that, or I have not looked for them well enough.

16. Do you sell your jewelry and where?

I've made just a few tries to sell my jewelry. I've sold my creations at a hairdressing sallon for a while, and actually I sold a couple of necklaces. My coworkers bought a few pairs of earrings and bracelets. Now I'm redesigning my website so that it would be more commercial and easier for my potential customers. The url will be the same as it is now.

17. Do your family and friends support your jewelry making passion?

My boyfriend (partner) thinks it takes too much space, but he helps me with the web design. Otherwise the things associated with my jewelry making will take much more time. My mother thinks my creations are absolutely fantastic and almost all the time when I come to see her she has my jewelry on. Even my daughter began to like and wear my jewelry!

18. What do you feel when jewelry making? Does it help you in your life?

Sometimes I'm very relaxed, and sometimes I get stressed out, but generally I enjoy the process. It still has an advantage, as long I'm busy with making jewelry I forget to snack. Disadvantage is that I forget that I have to eat or drink, and even worse, that my family would like to eat as well. It also helps me in real life, it makes my self image better and builds up my self-esteem.

19. Do you want to try something new? What do you plan for the future?

I would love to try making glass beads and/or make something with precious metal clay; I also want to try working with sheet metal. For the foreseeable future I am going to redesign my own website and do web design in collaboration with my partner. We would like to design and to develop affordable web shops, first of all, for bead hobbyists.

Thank you, Carina! We wish you best of luck and a great success!

Wirework jewelry by Carina Veling

About artist:

Carina Veling, Venlo region, the Netherlands
E-mail address:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Power of Beading Contest and Charity Fundraiser

Instructions for beadwork artist Kerrie Slade's Awareness Ribbon Pins are currently available on the Beading Daily website. All money raised from the sale of the instructions through to September 30th will be donated to two international charities, The Wellness Community and the American Institute of Cancer Research.

There is also a contest running until September 12th to win one of two pins created and donated by Kerrie. The pink ribbon (breast cancer awareness) includes a 9ct gold stick pin and the teal ribbon (ovarian cancer awareness) includes a sterling silver stick pin.

Kerrie is donating her designer fee from Interweave Press to Cancer Research UK. Please see the Beading Daily website or Kerrie's blog for further details.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beaded beads by Gwen Fisher

Interview with beadwork artist Gwen Fisher

The name of Gwen Fisher (California, USA), a mathematician and a beaded bead designer, is well known as the name of one of the most creative artists. She inspired a lot of beaders with her three-dimensional designs. The questions for this interview were collected by me on a Russian beaders' forum, where I opened a special topic for that, and every visitor could leave his question to Gwen Fisher. I picked up 18 best questions, and Gwen was so kind that she agreed to answer all of them! Thank you, Gwen!

1. When and how did you start beading?

I started weaving beads the first time in my early twenties, but all I did was stringing, fringe, and daisy stitch. Eventually, I got bored and switched to painting, and then quilting. I really took up bead weaving 2003. There was a seed bead shop two blocks from my apartment, and the owner of the shop had a case full of beautiful beaded objects designed by many famous designers. I was captivated, and I wanted to learn how to make some of the pieces, especially the beaded beads. So, I bought a few beads, books and magazines, and I taught myself to weave beads.

2. Who were your teachers in beading? Who inspired you first?

I have never taken a beading or jewelry making class. I learned beading from books and studying photos from websites. My early inspiration came from Carol Wilcox Wells, Sharri Moroshok, Christine Prussing, and Takako Samejima.

3. What was your first beaded item? Do you know where it is now?

I don't remember what my first beaded item was, but my first beaded bead looks like a lumpy, lopsided raspberry made from brick stitch. It's in my bead box with all of my other ugly beaded beads.

4. What kind of beading technique have you tried? Why did you choose beaded beads?

I've tried almost all of the common off-loom bead stitches done with a needle and thread: peyote, brick, herringbone, and spiral stitches, to name a few. My bead box is full of little samples of these.

Beaded beads are my favorite projects for several reasons. First, they are little treasures that I can finish in less than a day. Second, discovering new beaded bead designs seemed like a natural and challenging application of the math I love. Since I had been an avid quilt artist for the decade before I started bead weaving, I had plenty of time to fiddle with two-dimensional ideas that I could make with flat fabric. The three-dimensional nature of beaded beads gave me a whole new realm of mathematical ideas to explore. To me, weaving a beaded bead feels like solving a puzzle, and then I have a piece of jewelry when I'm done. Finally, I find something magical about a sparkly bead cluster woven entirely out of beads.

5. What sort of beads do you prefer? How do you pick up beads sizes? Is there the best proportion?

I like to use a wide variety of beads in each of my creations. My favorite beads to use are gemstones, especially sapphire, tourmaline, cubic zirconia, and labradorite, but I don't much enjoy reaming the holes before I use them. Most of the beads I use are glass. As for seed beads, I use sizes 15/0, 11/0, and 8/0 in most of my designs. Smaller beads are too difficult, and larger seed beads are not regular enough for symmetric designs. I almost never use cylinder seed beads because their square profiles do not seem to work as well in my designs as rounded seed beads. For finishes, I like metallic and matte metallic best, along with gold luster. As for glass,I prefer druks and faceted crystals to fire polished beads. Lately, I have been trying to incorporate more drop beads and 2mm and 3mm Swarovski crystals into my work.

6. How much do selected beads define the shape and look of a finished bead?

I especially look for beads that are the same size and shape before I buy them. If I use uneven, irregular beads, a beaded bead will never look very symmetric. Sometimes, I make the same design with different shapes and sizes of beads. This requires changing the counts of the smallest beads to cover the thread neatly. Changing bead sizes can radically change the shape and look of the finished beaded bead. I enjoy experimenting with this.

7. Do you plan your work or don't you know the result in advance?

I usually have some rough sketch of a geometric object before I start beading, but sometimes I just design directly with the beads. When I have a plan, the plan is usually just for the first steps of the basic construction. I generally don't know what the finished object will actually look like. That is one of the things that make it so interesting and keeps me trying new things.

8. How much time does a new bead model take you?

If I am lucky, I can realize a new idea in three hours. If I am unlucky, it takes three months. Once I have an idea, it usually takes me a couple of days to work out a specific design I like. Then, it takes a two or three weeks of full time work to make samples, photograph, write, and illustrate the pattern. I have one design, the Infinity Dodecahedron, that I discovered 2005, but didn't start writing the pattern until September 2007. I just finished it in July 2008. Conversely, I have other designs, such as the Fairy Chrysalis, Flower Ring, and Three Drop Earrings for which I had design and pattern completed in under a month each.

9. Is it possible to improve one's ability to pick up the most appropriate color combination, to define the sizes of beads for a project or is it purely intuitive?

I pick my color combinations deliberately. When I was a quilter, I went to the library at least twice to look at the books on color theory. I flipped through every book they had, and checked out several to read at home. Even with all of this, I have come up with dozens and dozens of ugly color combinations. I found that finding pretty bead color combinations is more complicated than choosing fabric or mixing paint.

As for sizes, I like to use a wide variety, but at the same time end up with a beaded bead that is a good size for jewelry. If I know how many of the largest beads I will need before I start, this helps me decide what size they should be.

10. What do you like in beading trends?

I like people who do their own thing. I like seeing people learn a bunch of different jewelry techniques and then combine or modify them to make new designs that are their own.

11. Beadwork of which modern artists do you like and why?

Gosh, there are so many... Melanie Doerman and Erin Simonetti are both amazing. So are Marcia DeCoster, Cynthia Rutledge, Laura McCabe, Zoya Gutina, and David Chatt. I just learned about Jessica Beels, and I think her work is lovely. I like these artists because their work shows their own style, and they all pay close attention to details. They all have great craftsmanship in addition to developing new ideas with their art. Also, my beading business partner Florence Turnour constantly impresses me with all of the new designs she creates.

12. Are you going to write a book on beaded beads? If yes, when?

I haven't decided. I have thought about it several times, and have written at least three different tables of contents. I keep changing my mind about what I would put in a single bound book. I think if I do ever compile a book, it will have different chapters for different bead weaving techniques. It probably won't all be on beaded beads.

13. Do you participate in any beading contests and exhibits? If yes, where?

I entered one beading contest, and I didn't make the finals. Then, I decided that winning a contest is not that important to me. I have noticed that the pieces that seem to win are large with lots and lots of beads, which is not my style. I don't enjoy making art to appeal to judges of competitions. Also, some contests seem to be much more about promoting the sponsors of the contest than the artists who contribute. So I haven't entered any more contests. I would rather put my time and energy in to writing patterns.

I do exhibit my work occasionally. Trios Gallery, near San Diego, California sells my jewelry, and I do home parties every few months. I have exhibited my work several times at mathematics and math/art conferences such as those sponsored by the American Mathematics Society and Bridges.

14. How can you combine your main job and beadwork?

I am currently on leave from my position as Associate Professor of Mathematics at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. This gives me lots of time for beading. Before I was on leave, I used most of my free time for my art. Also, I found that if I focused my hobby on mathematical art, I could write papers and present them at meetings. That way, my hobby became part of my job. In fact, this was my original motivation for writing about my artwork.

15. Did you like mathematics since you were at school or did it come later?

I have always liked mathematics and spatial reasoning, and I have always been very good at both. My favorite books to read as a child were puzzle books. I entered college as a math major with an emphasis on teaching, and I never changed my focus.

16. What kind of hobby except mathematics and beading do you have?

I was obsessed with quilting for 10 years before I started weaving beads. I also dabbled in other needlecrafts including sewing, embroidery, cross stitch, silk ribbon embroidery, weaving, and crochet. In high school and college, I painted and drew very regularly, but I do all of these hobbies much less now than I bead. Other hobbies I have had in the past include cooking, growing orchids, calligraphy, and origami.

17. Do you like the tales of your colleague mathematician Lewis Carroll?

I have always been a big fan of Lewis Carroll. My favorite character of his invention is the Cheshire Cat. I have read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass many times, and I even tried reading his book on Symbolic Logic once, but I didn't get too far.

18. Do your family and your coworkers support your beading passion?

My family is very supportive of my work. My mother and sister wear my jewelry every time I see them. I have also received much support for my art from the larger mathematics community. I gave formal talks on the symmetry of beaded beads at two math conferences, and they were very well attended.

Thank you, Gwen! We love your mathematical beadart and wish you best of luck!

Beaded beads by Gwen Fisher

Bat Country project by Gwen Fisher

About artist:

Gwen Fisher, Ph.D, California, USA
E-mail address: gwen(at)beadinfinitum(dot)com

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Studio 5. First day

This spring I won 2008 Annual Jury for Torpedo Factory Artist and became a member of this well known in Washington Metropolitan Area (and not only) Artist Association. Since June I have shared Studio 5 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center ( Torpedo Factory ).

Nancy Reinke, an artist and printmaker, has been working in Studio 5 for about 30 years, and it looks like a museum. What a cozy place!

I've got not so much room for my jewelry display, but that is my first public-open place, and I feel comfortable here.

In the studio I can work and sell my jewelry, that is what I need.

I'm so impressed and happy! Seems, I love the whole world!

First day in Studio 5

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