Friday, March 28, 2014

Bead Dreams, 2014: Crime

 This piece needs a whole lot of explanation. 
Nope, it's not a pelican, although it sure looks like one, and that's ok by me.
What the black bird monster is, is the Kókó.
Not many of you will know who Kókó is, so let me tell you about him.
He eats little children. Alive. He is of Portuguese origins, well known ins Spain too,where he is called  Cucuy, and  there they have a  sweet nursery rhyme about him that goes
Duérmete niño, duérmete ya...
Que viene el Coco y te comerá.
                                                          Sleep child, sleep now...
                                              Or else the Coco will come and eat you
 He apparently has a lady friend , the Coca who hides on rooftops waiting to take children who don't go to sleep as they should.
In Spain, The Coco/ Cucuy is oftentimes portrayed as a ghost with a pumpkin head.
In my childhood, no one portrayed him as anything, other then the ONE who will  surely come and eat me alive if I don't go to bed.
How on earth did a Portuguese  monster sneak into my Hungarian bedroom? I will never know.

 I remember a night I spent at my grandma's house with my aunt. My aunt is only 8 years older then me, and 13 years younger then my mother, and so we were quite close, more so then her and my mother used to be.
I was about 4 or 5 and my grandma put me to bed, and my aunt kept on sneaking to the door opening it just enough to poke her hand in, making horrible shadows with her spider like moving fingers telling me that the Kókó is coming to get me. My grandma did not understand why I was shrieking with terror, and my aunt of course assured her that she has not done anything to facilitate my reactions.
There were metal bars on the window of the room and wind outside  at night, and the knowledge of things in the dark, things that somehow eat children alive.
 Now, most people will think that this must have been an entirely traumatic experience for me, but for whatever reason I found my footing in the world of shadows and dark creepy things just fine, and up till today, nothing sets my mind at ease as much as good horror stories and movies. 
There used to be a wolf living under the sink in the bathroom in our old family apartment, who prevented me from going to the bathroom at night, man under my bed who would rip my arms off if they poked out from under the blanket, a devil paper mache mask on the wall that became real at night, and antler trophies complete with skulls accompanying the devil in the hallway as lesser demons.
Not to mention the boogeyman, who is called the man with the sack. He comes at night too, but in my book, he was less formidable  and far more civilized then the Kókó, because he cooked children before eating them, after transporting them in his sack.
My first nightmare I can recount was my pillow shaped stuffed frog swallowing me whole while the devil in the hallway laughed.
But in many ways real everyday life turned out to be a lot less reliable and orderly then Kókó, the man with the sack and the wolf under the sink were.
One makes bargains with one's monsters. They always follow rules.
(In stories and fairytales  there are always rules of conduct for monsters.)
People don't follow rules like that. So maybe that's why I was always ok with the monsters and they became acceptable parts of life for me.
One night quite a while ago, I  was in that really sweet place inbetween being awake and falling asleep, where ideas oftentimes emerge from, and I was thinking how Kókó never really had a shape for me. I was wondering what would he look like. All the sudden it came to me that he was a big meany bird.
 Kind of like the tragically beautiful Greater Adjutant, cousin to the Marabou Stork.
 Look at this face, isn't he just the most charming sort of ugly?
I also wanted to reference the creepy plague doctor masks from medieval Europe.
Nothing creepier then that.

That's how the Kókó came to be a bird. And he symbolizes my fears, and bad feelings that accompany my childhood. The fish he holds in his claws is my childhood self I guess, if I have to be analytical about this piece.
Hence the name Crime.
But there is more to this story, and what comes around, goes around, expect part II in the form of Punishment in about 2 months......

For now, I am grateful and humbled by this piece being accepted as a finalist for Bead Dreams.
Also want to thank Matthew Nix for supplying my with the eyeballs for the necklace.

The necklace was made with a whole lot of Swarovski stones (sorry did not count) even more other type of Swarovski crystals ( bicones,rivoli drops, and I certainly did not count those), and about 80 grams of size 15 24 carat gold plated miyuki beads.

Monday, March 10, 2014

To Share, or not to Share

I have been contemplating about writing a blog post about a very sensitive question for quite a while, but  it's one of those instances when I feel like I am walking on eggshells... Never the less, I might as well go for it and try to offer my very best I got in the field of kindness and compassion approaching this  subject.

As someone who has been involved with various online beading groups, I have learned early on in my beady life that sharing is the bread and butter of all kind hearted beady folks. If we meet in person, we hug and welcome one another into our lives. We send each other beady gifts, and we help each other out in every possible way we can, even when times are hard. And that's one of the reasons I so much enjoy being part of this wonderful community.

There are many Facebook groups set up for sharing pictures, techniques, inspirations. And many of us post our work, Etsy store links to things we sell, advertise classes we teach on various social media outlets. This is a wonderful way of seeing what is being done on the frontiers of beady explorations all over the globe.

But once in a while, people ask right there, in public questions like:
Where did you get that?
How did you do that?
Can you tell me where you are buying your X, Y and Zs?

We all have these questions asked of us probably all the time. And the answers will vary a great deal of course, but let me talk about how I feel about this a little bit.

First and foremost I suspect no ill intent behind these questions at all. I don't think my beady friends across the globe are out to get my secrets so I will need to protect them  like a dragon protecting it's gold.

People can approach beading in a number of ways. If you are a hobbyist, who does bead work because it's relaxing, meditative and it offers a community of like minded crazies who get equally excited about all the little shinies too, you of course will expect people  to share their sources for everything.

Now, as for me, I have in one form or another have always been selling things I make. I used to paint murals, now I bead. But it is not my only job. I sure wish it was.  I am extremely productive and have more ideas then time, but I need to work a full time job. My job is really underpaid, and I live in a very expensive city where things get more expensive every year. The money I make at my job covers my living expenses. The money I make on selling my beadwork goes back to supplies, and investments in what I consider my future in the bead business. I am happy as a clam doing this, but I need to make money off of my art one way or another.

While I don't think that I am god's gift to mankind and I should be making a lot of money by my bead art, I do think that what I am making is art, and a worthwhile pursuit.   I hope that one day I can earn at least a meager living just by doing art, teaching, and perhaps writing about it too.

I am working very hard towards these goals day after day, and part of my job as a jewelry designer and a teacher is to source exceptional materials.  So I  spend hours hunting for sources for gems, unique findings and other cool stuff that's not widely available everywhere.Bead embroidered jewelry when done with the right materials is expensive to make. If I wanted to pay myself by the hour, I would never sell anything, my work would be too expensive for anyone to afford.

And that's why I am also offering classes and thinking about other ways to earn a living on beads.But people will only want to take classes and buy my kits if I have things to offer that they can't buy all over the place. 

Of course oftentimes I use materials from fellow artists, artisans, makers of interesting things, and some of these people depend on people like me sending business their way. When that happens, I go out of my way to share all their information with the whole world even without asking.

So back to " where did you get that from".

Well, for the most part, if people ask me in private, chances are I will tell. I am no meany after all, but maybe reading this, one could consider when it's proper to ask, and when it really isn't. In private I mean as in private messages, emails, that sort of thing.

When close friends ask me, I always tell and I am happy to share. 

But  when I am being asked in public, about pieces I intend to sell or teach as a class, from now on,my kind and compassionate answer without any anger, any feeling of resentment, is going to be "I am sorry,but I can't answer that right now."

If you went into bakery that has some really fantastic cookies, and you really liked making cookies yourself, would you  go behind the counter and request the recipe from the chef?

It's kind of like that. No harm done, and even after this I will share most of my sources with just about everyone. But if I say I don't want to share everything, that should be ok too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Behind the scenes... It's not quite as exciting as the making of M&Ms, but almost. Just kidding. Not that exciting really.

 Dear Reader, consider this tedious and long blog post an in depth " behind the scenes" special edition from moi , famous beader Kinga...
 It came to my attention that some of you peeps are under the impression I am a big name in the beady biz.

This cracks me up a bit to the point of giggle snorting, because I am still holding down an almost full time retail job as a shoe sales clerk, and while I have an excellent view into the bunions, neuromas, heel spurs- the best our country can offer indeed- I am also trying ever so hard to eventually earn enough to at least pay my rent by beading.
 I can't complain. I am on my way, and I know it! And I shall not give up till I get there.
My retail job comes with perks. Kind management and amazing coworkers. And access to retail space to use for taking pictures before and after hours. 
The back of our shoe store used to be filled with Crocs. They are mostly gone now, so the valuable space was given to Columbia gear. Comfy stuff indeed.
It just so happens that this space has an ambiance of no other: on really slow days I catch myself wondering around here among the naked bricks under the 20 foot ceiling. There is magic to this spot, and for whatever reason, in the morning the light is just perfect here.
This is where the magic happens, Dear Reader.
All the pictures I take on models, who all happen to be my coworkers, are taken here, unless we shoot outside.
 In case you are wondering about the thousands of dollars I spend on hiring models, getting a makeup artist, getting a photographer and having those pics edited, here is what happens. 
I put up this stand I got on Ebay. It is a very good stand, adjustable, and it only falls apart once in a while.
Then I hang this awesome gradient background on it by plastic clamps. Also an Ebay special. It only has a few wrinkles, really.

 Then I use such high tech methods as paperclips and shoe laces to stabilize the background. Now it just came to me that this particular paper clip is  our shoe store accountant's prized possession and I forgot to return it after the shoot. Shoot. She will miss it. I shall return  it.
 Most of the makeup in this bag comes from the Theatrical supply company. I walk there because it's only a mile away from my apartment. ( I am afraid of driving  anyways, so I might as well  get some exercise.) Some of it I bought for personal use, but I don't like wearing makeup much, so things end up lasting forever for me.
This is the view from the Croc room. Anna,our model is arriving. I faithfully documented all details.
 Anna kindly brought her prom dresses with her for this very special occasions.
Here  she is, before the makeup, with her socks on. Accompanied by various men's athletic  shoes behind her. From certain angles Anna looks quite a bit like Angelina Jolie. I am very fond of Angelina. And I love my Anna! She has been most gracious and kind by indulging my chronic photo habits. She had to work all day today, but she got up  4 hours early for me to be my model. I did not have to work today. For the first 5 years of my employment, I worked about 49 Sundays per year. Since September I decided to dedicate Sundays to making things, and - in this case- taking pictures of the things I have made.

Dear Reader, keep in mind that at best, I make jewelry I don't mind wearing. 
But I am less then mediocre and competent when it comes to taking pictures and putting makeup on.
I fumble along the way, and learn little by little.
As for the makeup, my favorite place for learning to do makeup is from the Pixiewoo ladies on youtube.
They had a tutorial for Angelina Jolie inspired makeup.I have tremendous admiration for these ladies.
The video and ALL their videos are amazing. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in  the art of makeup. But I had some questions left after viewing it repeatedly, and I only know one real life makeup artist, in person and that is Eliza George.
Eliza is truly an artist. She sees magic in people and brings it to the surface. I am lucky enough to call her a friend, and I am proud of it too.She has been wonderful sharing her secrets with me.
Armed with faux lashes, big ideas and a green prom dress, I set out to make magic.
Tadaaa! Just kidding. Although this picture has it's own magical qualities.

I did not even get to edit half of the pictures that I wanted to. There are a lot left on my computer untouched. I took about 300 photos, went through them hastily and edited the ones that were acceptable. Keep in mind, my tricks are few and far between. I can edit skin tone, make pics black and white, but I can't make limbs longer or make someone skinnier.
What I deem to be acceptable is where the jewelry and Anna BOTH seem to be at least partially in focus. (Keep in mind, my camera is a lot smarter then me,  I just poke around in the dark for the most part. Yes. I have taken these pictures on auto settings. But, and this is a big BUT. I did invest my earnings on sold jewelry into a top notch camera equipped with a macro lens and various filters. While this act buys me no credit as a photographer whatsoever, it allows me to be lazy and just let it take the good pictures I see through the viewer.)
Let me remind you Dear Reader, that Yours Truly did not grow up in the computer age. 
I did not learn any of this stuff in school. My first run in with a computer happened through my one and only year of college education, when I paid a fellow student to do my computer homework for me. He needed sketches for art class, and I needed help with informatics.
It was a match made in heaven. I did not have to look at a computer with a critical eye till I discovered Ebay... Lots happened after, but of course with making jewelry came with  the problem of selling it online and all that goes with it. So I learned the rest. As far as editing these pictures , my dear husband has given me Photoshop classes last year for my birthday. They paid of, but my skills are still very limited. Lots of room to grow.

But yeah, that's how magic is made.
Now for the purist who say all this is fine, but let's see some closeups of this stuff, here are some of those.

 Jenny Greenteeth

Anna Alford, I can't thank you enough!
And for Everyone who read this, thank you too.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Eyes and Respect

 Aye aye, Captain Eye!  This is my friend Matthew Nix.  We met through Etsy where we both sell our work.
He is a maker of some beautifully detailed breathtaking wire wonders that befuddle me.
Me and wire just don't mash , and all the things I am not very good at, I have tremendous appreciation for.
 Just look at this! I can't even begin to understand how people do this kind of work.
Well, he does and he does it really really well.
 Matthew is not only talented but a genuinely nice person.
He is very much into steampunk, and quite a few years ago, when he realized that there were just no cool eyeballs on the market, he decided to dream up some and make his own. He indeed was the very first person to sell them on Etsy, and his offerings have expanded as the years went on.
He has a selection like no one else out there. Here is a link to Matt's Etsy store:

I have been a huge fan of his stuff for about 2 years now. Recently I started making some of my own glass cabs, but mine are very different from his.
 Mine have butterfly wings and leaves in them.
Looking at these some friends asked me why I would not make my own eyes, they can't be THAT hard.
Well, I will tell you all why I don't:
Because there is right and there is wrong. 
Matt has recently asked his beloved Mandy to marry him. They are starting a life together, and times are hard for everyone. Making jewelry and making those  eyes are Matt's source of income. His only source of income. And he is doing ok, in fact, he even hired his friend to help out with the production. How cool is that? I love that I can support him in his effort to maintain a good life by buying his well crafted goods.
In all honesty I don't think I buy enough to be that much of a help, but I sure hope that every time I pass his   name on to all my beady buds, they spend some money with him too.

The thing is, when we decide to cut corners and have an attitude that "oh yeah, I can do this cheaper", and here is someone else's idea that took them years to get right, but it only takes me a little while to "make it mine", it's not a little boo boo, it's an ethical blunder.
Of course people experiment with all sorts of things at home, and we all see pictures of handmade goods we like and if we make similar things for our own use, that's ok, no harm done.

But respect is respect, do not bite the hand that feeds you and do unto others as you would have them do onto you. That's why this frog is not making eyes!
 Because there is someone in the eye business that I want to give my business to, and want all my bead buddies to enjoy his well crafted delightfully creepy creations  as long as he keeps on making them.

And surely with all the wonderful eyes out  there, we can all create our very own pieces of art, that reflects our heart and soul. Thank you Matt!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On Bitching and Monaning and Chugging Along... And kits?

You know the feeling of procrastinating so bad that you just accidentally did all your chores, even the ones you did not manage to accomplish for the last three months, but there is a bigger evil looming over your head- like a little black cloud- and you will do ANYTHING to avoid dealing with it, including scrubbing base boards, hunting dust bunnies under the fridge, taking the dog on 10 walks a day on your day off, and all this so you can say, I have been so busy and productive I simply could not manage to do "so and so".

Congratulations, and welcome to the club partner, you are a procrastinator.
The best part is, if you are like me, you will not only accomplish enough chores to shame a small pack of cobbler brownies, but you will then beat your chest and proclaim that you have done all you could, yet there was just not enough time for "so and so".
And let's just be clear: just because you are productive in other areas of your life, you still are a procrastinator.
Now that the toilet bowl is clean enough to eat from, the fridge, the spice cabinet and the dog wardrobe is color coded, and there is no dust left on the books organized by the dewy decimal system, perhaps it's time to give yourself good advice just like Alice does in Wonderland, and say:
I am ready to tackle this monster of a chore.
In my case the certain "so and so" and "monster of a chore" is writing instructions for kits.

 I can give your a hundred reasons why I really don't want to do it, how it does not make any sense to me, who would want it anyways and why god, WHY????
But  it's part of the process. I will get better at it, and it's not that bad really, once I sit down and realize that the average kit and instructions will take me about 45-60 hours to produce, so I better get on it, the faster the better.
So far I have succeeded in making a kit for a singular fishie necklace based on my finalist Bead Dreams Entry called New School ( that one featured 18 of these rascals).  

I realize I have not blogged  about  my Bead Dreams finalist yet. I am still working up the chutzpah for that one...

But I have Singularity in my Etsy store. Let me just say all my furchildren endorse this product and strongly suggest that you consider it as a gift option for the holidays. (Comes with the disclaimer from Butters, that as a food source it is completely inferior to real sardines.)

I also managed to crank out a limited set of kits for Monster Mash or the One Eyed Furry Monster if you prefer. The kit includes squirrel fur in the most enticing shade of royal purple and a beautiful acrylic vintage Japanese eyeball to match the fur.
If it was not causing me mental itch and severe procrastinitis to make more kits, there would be more by now. On a brighter note, there will be more as  soon as I kick myself in the butt so I can chug along and write the directions for it. Expect a kit for earrings and one for a very neat stacked boro glass ring with a wee bit of bead embroidery.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Catacomb Saints, Altruism and Tardiness

 Hello Dear Readers! I bet you thought I fell of the face of the planet, when in fact I just have been battling another bout of writers' constipation. 

I don't know why, but I keep on procrastinating. Every time I think it's time to write a blog post, I clean the apartment instead.Having fur babies who make sure I always have enough to clean, it's not like I have an excessively clean apartment to remind me of my failure as a blog writer...

 But enough of my sorry excuses, let's just start in the middle, since there is so much I have not told you about, I might as well start somewhere.
 Without further ado, I give you Golden Legion. It's called that because it is many. Not that it's all evil and demon ridden. I choose to write about this bracelet today because it has a special story:
 A wonderful lady asked me to make a bracelet for her. But, there is something that sets this commission apart from others. The budget was higher then any other bracelet I made, and all she said was to make anything I want, she loves my style and gives me free reign on what I want to do.
I can do that.

 And eventually I did! I used 24 carat gold plated size 15 Miyukis mostly, and all the most precious things I had around. I have a few more bumble bee jaspers, and I used one.
 A whole lot of eyeballs, and for those who are interested where those came from the colorful ones are Matthew Nix's creations, ( click on his name for his Etsy store).
 It just so happens that a few weeks before I began working on this piece, the same lady shared an article with me about a book called Heavenly Bodies.

The book is a detailed account of the rise and fall of the veneration of heavily decorated skeletons- the catacomb saints- by the Roman Catholic Church. If you are into macabre stuff and  European history, it's a book I highly recommend. The pictures are wonderful and the writing is fascinating.
As I was working away on the bracelet, the imagery has sneaked into the piece.
But it also made me wonder about the nature of altruism, because I do consider that commission as an active act of altruism.

 In my opinion, there is nothing more selfish, soul satisfying and wonderful as doing something truly good for someone else, because I can. Something random and wonderful, like say, here is twice as much as I should give you, make me something awesome. 
Because when you do that, good things come from it, and the kindness goes on and on.
It made me feel like my work is appreciated and loved, and it inspired me for an act of altruism of my own, where I offered three of my older necklaces up for auction for a good cause.
And it made a difference for the person who's benefit it was for, and for the people who got some nice jewelry, and  in turn they were able to help out too.
So let random acts of kindness inspire you to give and share, and give out free hugs today, because what comes around, goes around. Be kind, because it's good to help, but also because it feels so darn good while at it.