Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finding My Muse

Creative Must
I wish I knew what it is that triggers inspiration and creativity.  Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is look at a bead or a piece of metal.  Other times, I can work all day long and not run out of ideas.  There really is no rhyme or reason to it, so I figure I better enjoy my creative muse when she graces me with her presence.   Yes, this picture represents my muse.  I don't know why because I'm not into fairies or frilly things, but she is what I envision when I picture her in my mind.
Today was one of those insanely creative days.  I finished up two pendants, a necklace, and a pair of earrings.  I worked happily all day in my studio and finished up a couple of projects that were started awhile ago and then set aside for lack of inspiration.  It sure feels good to be productive, especially when I like the pieces I end up with.  If you are a crafter of any sort, you know what I mean.  You can work all day on a piece and then hate it when it’s finished. 
Do you struggle with creativity and inspiration?  How do you handle it?  How do you rekindle the creative flame? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

BSBP Reveal Day

I am so excited to be participating in my first Bead Soup Blog Party and before I go any further, I want to say a big THANK YOU to Lori Anderson for making this happen.  This year is the biggest BSBP yet with 400 participants from around the world.

When I received my beads from my partner, Dawn Pierro, I knew I had a challenge on my hands.  She sent small metal and gemstone beads, several short lengths of chain, fresh water pearls, and a lovely copper focal and clasp.  I've never really worked with such small beads; it took a couple of weeks but the design started coming together.  A multi-strand necklace is what I had in mind. 

BSBP Reveal

I laid out the beads and the longest piece of chain and I loved the look but didn't have enough beads to complete the necklace.  It was either back to the drawing board or figure out how to make this work.  I happened to have some dark olive silk ribbon that I braided for the back of the necklace, and I made a couple of copper connectors to tie it all together. 

BSBP Reveal 2

I'm thrilled with how the piece turned out.  It was definitely a challenge that took me out of my comfort zone but that's what this is all about. 

Thanks so much to Dawn for the lovely bead soup and for getting me out of the box and trying something new. 

I'm already looking forward to the next BSBP!

Please take a moment to visit the web sites of the other amazing designers (links below) and see what they did with their bead soups.

Hostess, Lori Anderson, Pretty Things

Agi Kiss, Moonsafari Beads 
Alice Peterson, Alice Dreaming
Alison Sachs, Beads by Earthtones
Amanda Dittloff, Passion Smashin'
Andra Marasteanu, Bijoux de Monanage
Angie Szlovak, SweetBeads
Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
Ann Sherwood, Ann's Blog
Arlene Dean, A Glass Bash
Audrey Belanger, Dreams of an Absolution
Barb Solem, Vivi Magoo Presents
Barbara Blaszczyk, laboratorim Flory
Bianca Odenthal, Zydies Glasperlen
Birgit Klughardt, GitesBeads
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Bonnie Coursolle,  Jasper Gems
Cece Cormier, The Beading Yogini
Charlene Jacka, Clay Space
Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie're
Cheryl Foiles, Get Your Bead On
Christie Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry

Christina Miles, Wings n Scales
Christina Stofmeel, Feng Beads
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Cindy Cima Edwards, Live to Design
CJ Bauschka, 4 His Glory Creations
Claire Smith, Embergrass Jewelry
Cynthia Riggs, Cynth's Blog
Dana Fowler, Trunk Full of Treasure
Dawn Pierro, Turtle Moon Designs
Dee Elgie, Cherry Obsidia
Donetta Farrington, Simply Gorgeous

Dot Lewallwn, Speedie Beadie
Eileen Snyder, Dorset Hill Beads
Elizabeth Bunn, Elizabeth Beads
Eva Kovacs, Ewa gyongyos vilaga!
Evelyn Duberry, Sheba Makeda
Fay Wolfenden, Torch Fairy
Fen Li, Bead Flora Jewels
Gail Zwang, Angel Moose Enterprises
Geneva Collins, Torque Story
Grace Dorsey, Fan of the Flame
Gretchen Nation,  Art Food Lodging

Hannah Annear, Squintessential
Hajer Waheed, My Beaded World
Heather Goldsmith, As I Bead It
Heather Otto, The Craft Hopper
Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Isolina Perez, Isolina Perez
Jacqueline Keller, CreARTelier
Jane Haag, Did You Make Something Today?
Janeen Sorensen, Wild Vanilla Designs
Jean Peter, Jean P. Designs

Jennifer Judd, Jen Judd Rocks
Jennifer L Justman, Soul's Fire Designs
Joanna Matuszczyk, Bizuteria z filcu
Joanne Brown, Jo's Jewels
Joanne Lockwood, Jo Bunkum
Joyce Becker, Joyce's Joyful Gems
Judy Riley, Three Red Beads
Karen Mitchell, Over the Moon Design
Karen Williams, Baublicious
Karin von Hoeren, Creative Ideen

Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
Kashmira Patel, Sadafule .. always in bloom!
Kate Richbourg, We Can Make That at Home

Katrin Lembke, AllesPerle
Kathy Combs, Torched in Texas
Kathy Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreationz
Kelley Fogle, My Life, One Bead at at Time
Kelly Hosford Patterson, Traveling Side Show

Klaudette Koon, Only Road
Lara Lutrick, Lampwork Beads by Lara
Laura Guenther, Blue Antiquities

Laurie Lalonde, Simply Mod Jewelry
Lilik Kristiani, Soul of My Embodiment
Linda Younkman, Lindy's Designs
Lisa Chapman, Beach Cat Beads
Lisa Lodge, Pine Ridge Treasures
Loretta Carstensen, Designs by Loretta
Lori Bergmann, Lori Bergmann Design
Lori Dorrington, Lori's Adventures in Etsy Land
Lupe Meter, Gem's PC Corner
Lynn Davis, LLYYNN

Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin
Mandi Effron, Craft-o-licious
Mandy Williamson, Mimi's Beading
Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
Maria Rosa Sharrow, Willow Street Shops
Marianne Baxter, Simply Seablime Jewelry
Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre
Marjolein Trewavas, Room for Change
Marelene Cupo, Amazing Designs
Marsha Neal, Marsha Neal Studio

Marta Kaczerowska, uhuhu
Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes
Menka Gupta, Menka's Jewelry Blog
Michelle Burnett, Reverie and Revival
Michelle Escano-Caballero, The Cabby Crafter
Miko Wiropati, Uniquely Yunikua
Milla Hope,  LB Creative Arts and Crafts
Mimi Gardner, Other Curiosities
Miranda Ackerley, MirandackArts
Natalie McKenna, grubbi

Noemi Baena, fuego, metal, y color
Pam Ferrari, Ferrari Originals
Pam Sears, Crazy Creative Corner
Penny Neville, Copper Penny
Rachel Baron, R. Baron Designs
Rachel Myers, Rockabead Jewelry
Rana Wilson, Definitive Designs by R. Wilson
Rebecca Anderson, Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag, Becca's Place
Riki Schumacher, Riki Jewelry

Rose Binoya, Ahtee's Blog
Rossana De Gaspari, Rdegas Blog

Sandi James, Do Be Do Bead Do
Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe
Sandra Wollberg, City of Brass Stories
Sarah Goode, Pookledo

Sarah Small, blog by salla
Shai Williams, Shaiha's Ramblings
Shawn Mills, Shawn Marie Designs with Bent Wire
Sheila Davis, Stone Designs by Sheila

Sheryl Stephens, Babble Bead
Shiraz Biggie, Secret Song Designs

Solange Collin,  Ahowin Handcrafted Jewelry
Sonya Stille, Dreamin' of Beads
Stephanie Dixon, The Dixon Chick
Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
Susan Sheehan, Strands of Thought
Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
Sweet Freedom, Sweet Freedom Designs
Tabatha Dinger, Modernly Created
Tania Hagen, Pelima Jewellery Design

Tanya Boden, Fusion Muse
Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo
Tracy Stillman, Tracy Stillman Designs

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Customers and Brand

When I opened my jewelry business in July of 2011, I never imagined how much work it would be to build a customer base.  I figured that all my friends would come to me when they needed a gift or something for a special occasion.  And of course my family would buy my stuff and promote it to their friends.  And then there are the people at work.  Once they saw my beautiful baubles, they would become lifelong customers.  And then there’s Etsy – surely people would flock to my store.
The reality is that it doesn’t work that way.  Sure, I get sales from friends and co-workers (and I appreciate every one of them) but not enough to sustain a business.   As for family – they love my stuff but most of what they have of my jewelry is by way of gifts from me.  And Etsy?  I’m just another small fish in a very large pond.
What I’m finding is that it takes a lot of work to build a base and stay relevant to my customers.  I’ve also learned along the way that I can’t be all things to all people.  I have my style and I need to stick to that.  There have been countless suggestions from people – “you should make this” or “I’ll bet people would buy if you only made that.”   I’ve decided to focus on what I do best and get really good at that.  For those who are looking for something else, there are a lot of talented designers who would appreciate the business.
Ceramic Hand Necklace
It has taken me almost two years, but I think I’ve finally discovered my niche and what I want my brand to stand for.  I’m working with a graphic designer to create a logo and in the process came up with some bullet points on how I want my customers to view my work and my business:
·         High quality (this above all else)
·         Organic (but not sloppy)
·         Unique
·         Memorable
·         Outside the box
I’ve still got a long way to go before I have a strong customer base and a recognizable brand but I’m on my way and learning something new every day.  How about you?  Do you have any tips to share on building a brand and a customer base?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Don't Settle

Do you ever feel like you've "settled" for something less than you deserved?  A job.  A spouse.  A car.  A best friend.  A vacation get away.  Anything really.

Every now and then, I stop and evaluate where I am in life and overall, I have nothing to complain about.  There are a couple of areas where I feel I've "settled" rather than holding out for what I deserve.  I prefer to focus on what's good about my life but there are lessons to be learned from settling. 

I'm in one of those reflective moods lately.  I think it's good to reflect once in awhile and take stock of successes, failures, and where I am settling for something less.  Where I am successful, I want to keep on that same path.  Where I have failed, I want to learn from that situation to help me in the future.  Where I am settling, I have to decide if I'm OK with that or if I want to make changes to correct the situation.  It's not an easy thing to do.  It is a necessary thing to do.

How about you?  Are you "settling" for things in your life?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Getting Involved

One of my goals this year was to "get more involved" in groups and events that will a) provide resources to help me hone my craft, b) provide exposure for my business, and most importantly c) make some new friends.  I'm happy to say that I am meeting that goal.  I've met so many great people through online forums and I'm participating in some fun events.  I'm very excited about two upcoming events and wanted to share with you all. 

Bead Soup Blog Party
The first is Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP).  Lori has been running this event for several years now and it is the creme de la creme of blog hops.  The 6th BSBP is just kicking off and I'm excited to be on the roster.  I've been assigned my swap partner, Dawn Pierro of Turtle Moon Designs.  We will send each other a "soup" of beads and then make something with the soup we receive.  On the appointed day, we will post our creations and then hop from blog to blog looking at all the beautiful creations. 

Silent Auction DonationThe second event I'm participating in is a silent auction.  I've donated a necklace and $20 gift certificate to the Leilani Farm Sanctuary Silent Auction to be held on July 3rd. 

You may wonder how I came to be involved in an animal sanctuary in Hawaii.  The story goes back almost 20 years when a delightful young woman, Sarah Kenefick (now Sarah Taylor), worked for me.  Sarah has since gone on to marry and build a career as a motivational speaker, published writer (Vegan in 30 Days), and educator.  I feel a little bit like a proud mom every time I read about one of her successes.  Sarah has always been an animal lover so it was no surprise when I read that she was involved in the Leilani Farm Sanctuary.  She recently posted on Facebook asking for donations for the silent auction; I was more than happy to support this endeavor and my old friend. 

I'm happy to be meeting my goal but even more so because of these great events and the people involved.  Oh, and as far as new friends?  I can't begin to name all the new friends I've made this year.  Keri, Carolyn, Diana, Linda, Lori, the list goes on and on and I treasure every one of them.

You can visit the following web sites for more information about the events:

Bead Soup Blog Party
Leilani Farm Sanctuary
Sarah Kenefick Taylor

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Simple is Better

Calico Bean Casserole
On Memorial Day, I was making a casserole to take to a cookout, and it struck me – simple is better.  The casserole I was making was an old recipe from my grandmother.  I cherish all of my recipes from her because I adored her and boy could she cook.  A lot of recipes today call for a variety of crazy ingredients and spices, but grandma’s recipes were simple and easy to make, and often taste much better than the fancy recipes.  This particular recipe was a calico bean casserole with different types of beans, hamburger, bacon, onion, ketchup and brown sugar.  That’s it!  Mix it all together, throw it in the oven and voila – a great dish for the cookout.

My revelation got me thinking about my jewelry making and how simple is often better there too.  Sometimes, I try to make my designs more elaborate than they need to be.  Why?  Because I figure if someone is going to pay the price for a handmade piece of jewelry, they should get something elaborate.   Don’t get me wrong – the elaborate pieces are very pretty and I’m told they are very reasonably priced.  However, I find that it is the simpler pieces that sell better.  I’m guessing that simpler is more versatile with different wardrobes and different occasions. 

One of my best sellers was this simple pair of disc earrings.  I textured and domed the discs, applied alcohol inks, sealed them, and hung them on the ear wires.   Nothing elaborate but they sold like hotcakes.
Textured Disc Earrings

I realized that it is not the elaborate components but the design that people are looking for.  The lesson I take from this is:  1) Use simple, high-quality materials, 2) Don’t over-think the design, and 3) Put a little of my personality into the piece and people will love it.

What about you?  Do you like simple or elaborate jewelry?  If you are a designer, which sell best for you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Events That Shape Our Lives

Disclaimer:  This post has nothing to do with beading or jewelry making, but it is one of the most profound experiences of my life and certainly contributed to shaping who I am today.

Last night I was listening to NPR and they were doing an expose on the US's last days in Viet Nam and the evacuation efforts.  The story brought back memories of the part I played in that evacuation effort.  It was 1975, I was in high school, my dad was in the Army and we were living on the Presidio Army base in San Francisco.  I should also mention that my dad served three tours in Viet Nam so I was very familiar with the war.

I don't remember how I heard about it but I became aware of the fact that hundreds of small Vietnamese children had been evacuated and were being brought to the Presidio in a plan they called Operation Babylift.  There was a need for workers to help tend to the children until they could find foster homes for them.  I had a Red Cross card from a recent babysitting course and decided to give it a shot.  I was 16 at the time.

The building was HUGE --could have stored an airplane in it.  I don't recall what it had been used for, but Harmon Hall was quickly turned into a temporary shelter for these small kids.  No one really asked me any questions.  They took one look at my Red Cross card and showed me where to check in.  I think I may have held my thumb over the part about the babysitting course. 

I could never, ever explain in words what that place was like.  Imagine a huge empty room with hundreds of mattresses lined end to end on the floor and a child on every mattress (actual picture below).  We were assigned to oversee one or more mattresses and make sure the children were cared for.  These kids were scared to death.  They had no idea what was happening to them and didn't speak a lick of English.  There were interpreters to help but there were so few of them, we were pretty much on our own to try and communicate with the children.  The kids were supposed to have come from orphanages however many had notes on them from parents who had forced their children on to the evacuation helicopters in hopes of saving them from what was to come in their country.  The notes all had the same basic message - "Please take care of my child."

Operation Babylift Presidio
Operation Babylift - Harmon Hall, Presidio, SF
  On my first shift, I was assigned one little boy to watch.  He was about 5 years old and terrified.  I could write a book on what it was like to care for him, get him to eat food he had never seen before, get him to pee in a bottle so they could test his urine, comfort him when he cried for his mother (he was one of the kids with a note pinned to his shirt).  Eventually, a placement home was found for him and he left the building.  I stayed with him for about 36 hours straight.  After that, I went home and got some sleep.

The next day, I went back again and this time was assigned to watch 3 orphan children.  Two sisters and a boy who they had taken under their wing.  Too many stories to fit here but suffice it to say, there was a very interesting dynamic between the 3 of them - one was most clearly the authority figure and the other two would not do anything without her OK.  When it came time to place them, the kids were split up.  I will never forget the screaming, kicking, and hysteria when they came to take those children.

I will never know what happened to those 4 children I looked after but I do think about them from time to time and hope their lives turned out OK.  At the time, I was not really old enough to comprehend the situation.  Now that I am a mother myself and much older, it breaks my heart to think of what those kids went through.  I am positive that the experience has made me a more compassionate person, especially when it comes to children.  I also understand all too well how war can have such a destructive influence on the innocent.

Like I said, this has nothing to do with jewelry but the story has been weighing on my mind since the radio show last night and I wanted to share.  Do you have one or more experiences that left a mark on your life?

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Impressions

I received a marketing email today from one of the online jewelry suppliers and was disappointed to read, “Each Wednesday, you have the oppertunity to save big….”.   Now, I know we all make mistakes from time to time, but this is the second instance of this same mistake, from the same vendor. 
First Impressions
The purpose of this blog post is not to call out a particular vendor but to emphasize the importance of making a good first impression.  What do you think about a company when their marketing materials have misspelled words, grammar errors, or terrible formatting?  To me it is a poor reflection on the company and I wonder what my experience will be like as a customer.  As the old saying goes, “You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” 
There’s a graphic floating around the Internet that is a perfect example of how one small mistake can be a game changer.  Imagine your first impression if you received the first sentence (below) in an email!
It doesn’t really matter that you are a one-person operation; a good first impression is how you make and retain customers.  I don’t profess to be perfect, and I cringe when I find a mistake that has slipped into a customer facing email, blog, marketing piece, etc.  To minimize the risk of this happening, I follow a few simple steps:
  • First and foremost – I run spell check on EVERY document, no matter how small.  I have spell check enabled in every application that offers it.  Spell check won’t catch everything but it will flag “oppertunity” as a misspelled word.
  • I don’t send or post my message right away.  I walk away for awhile and then go back and re-read it.  Does it still make sense?  Is my grammar correct?  How is the spacing?  Are my fonts consistent?  Do all of my links work?
  • I read and re-read my message several times to make sure it has the right tone. It is very hard to convey emotion and tone of voice in electronic format.  If possible, I will ask someone else read my document and provide feedback.
  • I ALWAYS print a hard copy of my message and read it out loud.  It’s amazing how different it sounds when read aloud vs. silently in my head. 
What are your thoughts on this topic?  What other things contribute to first impressions?  Do you have any great suggestions to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hosting a Craft Fair

Starting up a new business while working a full time job is challenging.  I continue to look for ways to market my business and would love to do jewelry shows and craft fairs, but I can't see myself spending an entire weekend doing a show and then back to work on Monday.  I just don't have the stamina for that and I don't want my jewelry business to become a burden. 

One way around this dilemma was to host my own craft fair at home.  I hosted one last November and it was a huge success.  I will be hosting another one on May 5th and hoping that it is even better than the first one.
Craft Fair
Get Your Bead On Display at the November Craft Fair

If you are thinking about hosting a similar event, here are a few tips:
  • Invite crafters who make high quality items 
  • Don't have more than two people selling the same thing (jewelry, soaps, art, etc.)
  • Have a good variety of vendors
  • Make sure the vendors are spaced far enough apart to allow traffic to flow
  • In lieu of a booth fee, ask each vendor to contribute a small item to be used as a door prize
  • Offer drinks and light snacks at your event (you might ask your vendors to help with this)
One concern with this type of event is opening your home to strangers.  I decided to only invite people I knew and asked the other vendors to do the same.  This way, we would have some connection to the people attending.  I found that people who attended were there to make a purchase -- I averaged approximately $20 in sales for each attendee.  

If you've hosted a similar type event, I would love to hear about your experience and any additional tips you might want to offer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Doing It My Way

When I started this jewelry making adventure, I wanted to learn everything there was to learn, and try every technique for making jewelry.  I tried stringing, bead weaving, working with hardware, alcohol inks, wire wrapping, gem stones, glass beads, lampwork beads, copper, brass, silver, the list goes on and on.  I knew that at some point I would have to figure out “who I am” as a jewelry designer.  It’s hard to build a brand when one’s designs are all over the map.
That’s where I am now – trying to figure out what my brand is.  Brand is much more than just a logo or a graphic.  Brand is your product’s personality – What is it?  What values does it represent?  Who is the artist?  What is the artist’s style?  It’s a big undertaking but I think I’m beginning to get a handle on it. 

My first step was to figure out my style.  What materials do I like to use?  What techniques do I prefer?  What's unique about my jewelry?  I’ve narrowed it down to two very different styles that I will try to incorporate into one.  First, there is my beadweaving.  I love my beadweaving.  It gives me such a sense of satisfaction to work with those tiny beads.  On the other hand, I also love metal.  I love to saw, hammer, torch, rivet, etc.  I’ve got some ideas on how to use beadweave designs with metal components to integrate the two styles.  For the short term, I will work them independently.  I’m still not down to a single style but I’m a lot closer than I was six months ago.
The next step will be to develop a logo.  Still a long way to go on that front………. Another post for another day………..
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  What is your brand?  Do you even have a brand?  For those who know me, what images or words come to mind when you think of my jewelry. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Role Reversal

I've been talking about getting a torch for some time now and Sears just happened to be open today (Easter Sunday).  Lew and I headed over to the farmer's market to get some fresh strawberries and afterward, he suggested that we stop on the way back and get my torch.  He didn't have to ask twice - I was ready to go!!  While we were in Sears, I found a few other goodies and some were even on sale.  A pair of tweezers perfect for pulling pieces out of LOS, a pick and hook set that will be perfect for something, a nice 6" metal ruler for measuring wire, a rubber mallet that was only $1.99, and of course my Lenk LPT-500 Pro-Torch with 2 butane refills.
Lenk Butane Torch

As we were standing at the checkout counter, I asked Lew if he would have ever guessed that I would get excited about shopping in the tool department.  He laughed and said, "No, but who would have guessed that I'm the one who wants new kitchen counter tops?"  So I have my new tools and Lew is getting his new counter tops.  Role reversal indeed!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Collective Creative Canape Reveal Day

Reveal day is finally here for the Collective Creative Canape blog hop, and I can't wait to see what everyone made.  This has been such a wonderful experience on many fronts.  First and foremost, I've made some new friends and found a wonderful group of jewelry artists.  Thanks so much to Lori Anderson for running the Bead Soup Blog Party and to Keri Sereika for organizing this swap.

I also got the opportunity to work with different materials, including a great polymer focal and clasp made by my swap partner Beth Emery.   And finally, I had my first opportunity to take a concept and design jewelry around that idea. 

Hope Necklace
When I received my beads, Beth sent me an inspirational note about how she chose the beads for me with Spring in mind.  You see, Beth lives in Alaska and unlike most of us in the lower 48, Beth will not be enjoying spring weather for awhile.  With Spring as my inspiration, I set about making a necklace that would represent the season.  I used the seed beads Beth sent to make beaded leaves and hung them on the chain with her pretty focal.  I did take the liberty of adding some color to the birds and also added the birds nest and ceramic leaf dangles that were in my bead soup.  The clasp had to go on the front of the necklace, which I've named Hope.

Beth, I "hope" I've done justice to your beautiful polymer focal and clasp.

Beth also included pearls, crystals and some red coral beads that she said reminded her of cardinals hopping around in the snow.  With that in mind, I put together a bracelet that represents snow (pearls), ice (crystals), and cardinals (coral).  I dubbed this piece Snow and Ice.

Snow and Ice Bracelet
Snow and Ice

WOW!! I made it through my first swap and can't wait to do another one.  Until next time........

I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit the other blogs that participated in this swap.  Comments are always welcome.

Keri Lee Sereika 
Beth Emery
Niki Meiners
Karan Parker
Liz DeLuca
Lynne Bowland
Judy Turner
Erin Grant
Bryna Lumb
Rochelle Brisson
Linda Youkman
Carmen Lau
Cheryl Foiles
Kelli Jacobson
Elena Gianni
Tania Hagen
Cindy Muse
Stephanie Woods
Lisa Lodge

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Beads Have Arrived

My beads arrived last Friday for the bead swap and I’m very excited about the soup I received.  Beth put a lot of thought into the beads and components which are inspired by her dreams of Spring.  Living in Alaska, she has to wait a bit longer than most of us to enjoy nice Spring weather.   As soon as I saw the beads and read her note, I had design ideas running through my head.  I’ve started working on a piece and love it so far.
Back to the bead arrival.  I’ve opened the mailbox with anticipation for the past 3 days – on Friday, my anticipation was quelled when I saw a small brown box sitting in my mailbox.  Just to be sure, I had to check the return address to see if Beth’s name was there.  It was.  Now I was really excited.
This may sound corny, but I didn’t want to open it right away.  Much like Christmas morning, I was afraid the fun would be over too soon.  I left the package on my counter for a bit, trying to imagine what was inside.  When I did open it, I saw the cutest packaging inside.  Beth packed all of her goodies in a Chinese takeout box – it was so cute. 
Inside the takeout box, I found a treasure of goodies.  Beth’s handmade polymer focal piece and clasp are my favorites.  They form the foundation of her inspiration and helped guide me in my design.   There were also seed beads, pearls, chain, peridot chips, crystals, and the cutest little pewter birds nest.  

For those of you who have done multiple swaps, I probably sound a little silly but this is my first swap and I want to enjoy every minute of it.  Now the anticipation builds again as we look forward to the reveal.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Motivation Comes and Goes

Some days I am extremely motivated and have more creative ideas than I know what to do with.  Other days (like today), I have no desire to pick up a bead or work on designs.  I'm positive that I'm not alone in this - I think most creative people "hit the wall" from time to time. 

I try not to get frustrated during these times but look to other ways to stay productive.  Today, I've been cleaning out the bead room and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.  Even though I haven't worked on a single jewelry project, I still feel like I've accomplished something. 

I have a very large moving box filled with over 100 books that has taken up residence in a corner of my bead room.  I've held on to these books, some of them for over 20 years, because letting them go somehow seemed like I was losing a part of myself.  Maybe I would want to read that book again someday, or maybe a friend would want to borrow it. More importantly, those books represented an accomplishment - after all, I'd read each and every one of them.  

What I realized yesterday is that I haven't picked up a single one of them to re-read it, and that box is taking up valuable space that I could use to set up a workspace for metals.  (Yes Debe, that means I will finally get a torch.)  I've decided I'm going to donate the books to either the local library or the Goodwill -- feels really good to be dumping some of the old baggage I've been lugging around for all these years.

I'm also cleaning out my bookshelf and getting rid of an entire shelf of stuffed animals.  The animals had special meaning because every year at the State Fair, I would play the game where the carny tries to guess your age.  I'm fortunate in that I look younger than my years and I always won the game.  Those stuffed animals were my reminder that I still had my youth.  I've decided I don't need cheap carnival prizes to stay young at heart and boy, wouldn't it be nice to have that shelf to store my bins of seed beads.  I have to admit that I'm not quite ready to throw those stuffed animals away just yet but I did put them away in a closet.  Baby steps......

So, while I'm not motivated to make anything today, I am motivated to re-do my workspace so it's ready when the creative spark hits again.  I'm sure I'll be over this slump by tomorrow but in the meantime, the stuffed animals are safely tucked away and the books are on their way to new homes.  Maybe I'll go watch a video on jewelry making.......

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Challenges

2012 is shaping up to be a year of new challenges and adventures and I'm so excited to start exploring.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am trying new materials in my jewelry and it's been so much fun to let my creativity run wild and see what I can come up with.  Be sure to check out the Get Your Bead On store for my new Industrial Chic pieces -- I've been having fun with hardware and alcohol inks to make some interesting jewelry. 

I have also pledged to get more involved in the jewelry making community.  There are so many unbelievable artists out there and the Internet takes away all barriers to working with crafters around the world.  I've started reading a number of blogs from other countries using the Google Translate tool.  The translation isn't always perfect but it allows me to read Russian, Polish, Italian, German, French... you get the idea.

I'm both excited and nervous about an upcoming event I've signed up for.  Every year Lori Anderson runs an event called the Bead Soup Blog Party.  While I am not participating in the main event, a smaller group of us is doing a swap and will be revealing our creations the first of April.  My partner for the swap is Beth from Anchorage, AK.  Besides being a great artist, she's a very nice person and I'm happy to have made a new friend in the beading world.  Right now we are putting a package of beads together to mail to each other.  I'll post pics when I get my package.  I'm a bit nervous about this event because my work will be seen by many, many talented jewelry artists and I want to make a good first impression.  On the other hand, I'm very excited to have this opportunity.

I'm also participating in another type of swap event.  In this one, about 20 people sign up to receive a box of beads.  The box starts out with the first person on the list who takes as many beads from the box as they would like, replacing them with beads of equal value from their personal stash.  Then the box is shipped to the next person on the list who does the same.  Eventually, the box arrives back at the person who started it and they have a box of new beads to enjoy.  I'm anxiously waiting for my box to arrive but I'm near the end of the list so it will be several weeks before my package arrive.

There are so many fun and interesting opportunities in the world of beading -- my "things I want to try" list just keeps growing and growing.  For now, I'll see how these two events go and where it takes me from there.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hidden Treasures

I'm learning to move outside the box and look for possibilities in all sorts of materials I would have never considered before.  This morning I went to The Scrap Exchange in Durham and WOW - what a trove of hidden treasures.  The Scrap Exchange has a little bit of everything and you have to sort through it all but there are some gems among all the clutter.

My haul from this morning looks like a pile of random "stuff" but I have something in mind for each piece.  It was so exciting to stroll through the store and imagine the different ways that materials could be used.  I was especially excited when I got to the hardware bin of nails, screws, washers, etc.  As you can see from the pic, I got some really great washers that will work nicely in an industrial chic piece of jewelry.  I'm thinking the big washers can be textured and maybe colored with alcohol inks to make a great pendant.

I also found some beautiful pieces of porcelain in different shapes and colors.  I'm thinking they will be great in a bead embroidery piece.  (Now, if I could only find my Lacy's Stiff Stuff.)  And that tray of glass vials on the right - they will make great components for necklaces and earrings with some pretty beads inside.  I also found some great buttons and some metal tubes for making rivets.  The plastic tubing will be perfect to use inside my woven tube beads to give them the support they need.

Oh, and I found a really great book of fabric samples.  I have a special project in mind for these beauties but I'm keeping it under wraps for now because I plan to give them to my friends and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise.

What I learned today is that you just never know where you will find hidden gems.  And, you have to open your mind to the possibilities.  Look for interest, texture, and color to find materials that you can turn into unique pieces.  I also found some functional items.  See those little test tubes in the upper left corner of the pic?  I plan to use those to store different sizes of beading needles.  Perfect for the function and only 25 cents each.  Speaking of money, my bill for this entire haul?  Only $19!!  Now that's what I call a good shopping day.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taking the Plunge

My Bead Room
I've finally decided to take the plunge and start a blog.  It's a little overwhelming to tell you the truth -- there's so much to tell, I don't even know where to start.  I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.

I've been a crafty sort for as long as I can remember and my entrepreneurial spirit has been alive and kicking almost as long.  Even as a small kid, I was thinking of businesses I could launch.  My first entrepreneurial endeavor was in the field of entertainment.  I rounded up my brother and the neighborhood kids, put together a script for a show, set up a theater in the carport (after asking all the neighbors to move their cars), and charged all the adults to come see us give our Oscar-worthy performances.  Well, OK maybe not Oscar-worthy but if you saw my little brother with the Hawaiian grass skirt on his head like a wig, and him singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips, you would have sworn it was Tiny Tim live and in person.  I was 11 at the time.

From there, it was one venture after another -- some stories I'll save for a future post.  My first jewelry venture was in the 70's when I was living in San Francisco and going to high school.  I was into macrame at the time and was making everything from plant hangers to chokers.  My beaded chokers were pretty nice and didn't require a big financial investment.  After perfecting my technique, I took a handful of my chokers down to Ghiradelli Square and found a small hippy boutique that would suit my merchandise.  The owner was just what you would picture for that time and place - she had long, straight hair, long flowy skirt with a loose cotton shirt, and sandals.  I can't remember her name now but she loved my chokers and bought them all.  I made and sold chokers for a year or so until I tired of it (or maybe I was distracted by the boyfriend d'jour, I don't remember).

Fast forward 30+ years and I've re-discovered the magic of beads.  I can't really explain the passion I have for this craft but I find it immensely satisfying to take a small pile of beads and make something beautiful out of them.  Even more rewarding is seeing people (friends, family, and customers) wear and enjoy my work.

Well, now you know where it all started.  The question is, where will it go from here?  Through my blog, I will share my adventure with you all and I'll share a few stories from my past.  I've got lots of other fun things planned (give-aways, contests, challenges, etc) so buckle your seatbelt and let's get this show on the road.