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.

Monday, July 22, 2013

More on the Battle of the Beadsmith, and losing it

 Why, oh why have you amphibian alien gods forsaken me?????
In the 3rd round of the battle of the beadsmith, I got my butt kicked.
 Here are a few of my favorite shots of my Battle Piece, Dagon.
This is my friend, Anna. We work together at the shoe store. She has a degree in women's studies, also known as feminist studies.
 This is my friend Melissa. She also works at the shoe store despite the fact that she has a degree in biology, but she will be moving on to be a vet tech soon.
 I am surrounded by incredibly talented, wonderful people, who thanks to the way our economy is as bad as it is, are all putting shoes on cranky people's feet day after day to pay their bills.
And then, when they are off, they are kind enough to model for me for free, and put up with my crazy.

 This is Dagon close up.
 This is Dagon from afar.
 This is Dagon from behind.
 This is Dagon modeled by Samantha Regina Herself.
And this is me at the Bead and Button show  wearing Dagon with Suzanne Golden wearing my last year's Battle  of the Beadsmith piece, Fishies.

Well, I did not win this year either. But I wasn't really thinking I would anyways, and if I had to be knocked down, at least I got knocked down by an equally awesome design by Kris Empting.

There are many ways of going about not winning something.  A couple of years ago I would have been crying my eyes out about how misunderstood I was and how the world is just not ready for my particular brand of awesome.

How silly I was!

This has been such a wonderful journey. I made something that I dreamed up ( in this case quite literally because the idea for this piece came from that inbetween place of being awake and falling asleep, while contemplating H. P. Lovecraft's short story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth),
it reached so many people who got enchanted by the frogmaids/ merfrogs
(not many got that they were alien amphibian gods, but that's ok),
 and I made a ton of new friends in the process.

I went to the Bead and Button show, trotted around wearing it for days, and everyone loved it!
Including the beady goddess  that Suzanne Golden is!

And so it is only right that even though  did not make the next cut, I still feel like a winner.

In case any of your Dear Readers ever feel loserish,
here is my guide for evaluating feelings of beady losses in contests:

-Remember  that judging is very subjective.
-Do not get defensive. Learn from the experience and keep on trying.
-Remember that it's all a silly game, where not winning was very much a possibility from the beginning.
-Remember that in an event where pairings are random, like in the Battle of the Beadsmith, winning and losing  have a lot to do with dumb luck.
-Stay humble. " I am a genius the world is not ready for just yet" is plain silly. Instead of that, just keep calm and carry on.
-Stick with it. Keep doing what you are doing. It pays off. Patience and persistence and time.

You see, life is like a bead contest .
Hopefully we win sometimes. I sure hope that all my  smart and talented coworkers will eventually move on to better things instead of looking at bunions all day.

So remember, you are not defined by losing battles, but your willingness to fight on despite of them, as in beady life, so in everyday life.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Battle of the Beadsmith 2013 and such

It is that time of the year again! Time to strap on the sword, throwing stars, practice the nunchucku ( bead ) skills, because the battle is upon us once again.
For those of you who don't remember, it is the Battle of the Beadsmith. It started with over 80 of the craftiest beady minds set against one another by the beady master mind Steven Weiss, creative hotpot of the Beadsmith company.
We have twice as many contestants this year, but the idea remains the same: you make the most kickass piece of jewelry you can possibly make in two months, take the best, most creative pictures and hope that you win battle by battle.
If you win the first round, there are half as many people left, and you move onto the next round and get paired up with someone else.And it goes on like that till there is a winner. Some of it is luck, some of it is a whole lot of hard work in creating your very best, taking the best possible pictures of it and trying not to chew your nails off.
But life is such. You take chances, and if you indeed do your very very best, there is nothing to regret, right?

Well, that's my take on it anyways. 
If you are on Facebook, check out the Battle of the Beadsmith. It truly is a feast for the eyes.
Of course I won't be allowed to share what I am making, but I thought it would be fair to share an intsy wintsy sneaky peaky with you.
But first, let's take a look at my entry from last year.
This necklace was called Fishies and it was deeply inspired by Samantha Regina's fishing habit.Although normally Herself fishes for sunfish only( not goldfish) without much success. But here is the inspiration.
Anyhow. That was last year. I am very happy with the outcome of last year's battle, but this is a new year and so I have to produce something at least equally awesome.
This year's entry will have two eyeballs. And it's only fair that I give you a sneaky peaky of at least one of the two.
It's going to be gloriously and  painfully weird.
And this year's entry is inspired by H P Lovecraft and it will have fringe. I cringe at fringe usually, but this will be fringy alienish and wonderful.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Eureka Moments

 I am on cloud nine! A year ago I had a tiny Fuji camera that I did not even know how to use properly, and I thought I was a complete failure of a photographer. ( The kind that is only saved by the grace of digital cameras from chopping heads off of family members on pictures...)

 Not to mention that I only had a few bigger pieces of jewelry under my belt and for the most part I considered making  them not worth my time. Understand Dear Reader, that I am a simple person. I hardly ever wear my own jewelry I don't wear makeup most of the time, I  passionately hate wearing earrings, and I really hardly ever wear necklaces.

 If anything, I put a bracelet on.

 That was always my favorite piece of jewelry, a happy little place on my wrist to look at on a busy day when I did not forget to put it on.

 Then the Battle of the Beadsmith happened, and I made a large necklace, the Fishies. Quite a beginning, and to honor it, I invested money into a new camera, and time into learning how to use it. Even on a small budget I have to say the time that goes into it is the biggest investment, as I have a full time job, try to bead as much as I can, but then I had to incorporate taking better pictures into this already busy regiment.

 Things have a way of unfolding in the most unexpected directions.
I have to say I dread taking pictures of my jewelry. It's a boring mundane task, but I am getting  better at it.
I did however  discover a passion for making my vision come true when it comes to taking pictures with models. It's not exactly fashion photography that excites me per se.  It's creating a feeling that goes well with the way I see my jewelry.

 Allow me to explain: I am a control freak.
 I dream of things, I make them, and taking the right pictures allows me to represent the original feeling that inspired the pieces better. I am not very good at it yet, but these pictures are a step in the right direction. This way I am able to find the right clothing ( on sale) the right makeup ( youtube videos are a godsend on learning how to apply it), and find the right light and setting ( at the store I work at, thanks boss).

 So this is your photography on the bare minimums. All it took was an agreeable and incredibly beautiful friend to model, a dress,  makeup, fake lashes and the wee bit of Photoshop skills I have learned by taking the classes I got for my birthday.

Of course these pictures don't replace the  closeups and the other detailed pictures of the jewelry, but they add a serious amount of oooomph to the subject.

Just in case my new found passion for models is not up your alley, here are the closeups of these pieces.The bracelet is called Sinister Peach because it is smokey and sinister looking but it's also peachy and sweet.
I feel like I am in a good place. I am making things I enjoy producing tremendously, and I am learning how to add a second layer of meaning to them by making their visual presentation as attractive as the pieces are themselves. Not an easy task, but I enjoy it quite a bit. Especially because it involves a number of skills. First making the jewelry, then doing the prep work( getting the costume together, makeup, etc..) and taking the pictures, then editing them. Makes me happy to learn all these things .


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On writers' block and the importance of pictures

Just in case this blog has any readers left I have managed to not alienate by not updating it, let me tell you that I mean to blog more often, except, for the last couple of months, I feel like I have developed a serious case of constipation of the the writing skills.

There are so many wonderful blogs out there, not to mention wonderful articles and books, with chatty, knowledgeable writers who are a bliss to read, then there is me, and here is what I do:
I get home from work semi-exhausted and manage to put in a couple hours at night beading, and then my day off comes and I manage to squeeze in a day of beady work, only to realize, that my energy has been used up, and I already said everything I needed to say with beads.

And then sometimes I don't even manage that much.

And of course there are times when due to taking commissions for things I have done before, I end up making the same thing over and over again, which is very therapeutic, but not entirely blog worthy.

Well, let's just say that sometimes I run out of steam..

But I managed to have one interesting idea in the last couple of weeks.I was contemplating the nature of true art, the kind that changed history. Artists without whom the world would not be the same. How they changed the way I see things, and how it all connects to me on a personal level.
How could I combine my love of art with my beading?

This lead to an experiment, that will be an ongoing thing for me I think.
The purpose of this experiment is to combine well known works of art with my jewelry and my perspective. And of course paying homage to my favorite artists by blatant emulation of their work.

Don't worry fellow beaders, I am not here to steal your designs, as a matter of fact I will just keep doing what I do regardless of what everyone else does, this is a bit different.
Well, let me show you...
 Here we have El Greco's Mary Magdelene in penitence from 1577. He was truly a painter who was way ahead of his time.
Then we have my friend Jean on our break behind the store we work at wearing my bracelet.
A modern Magdelene.
 Here is Vermeer's " The girl with a pearl earring.A picture everyone knows.
Here is my friend Marketa, "The girl with a fishie earring".

Needless to say both of these efforts are low budget, fun projects, but this is such a great little  game, I am going to pursue it for the heck of it.

Also, as I am turning 33 in two days, my dear husband gave me a most wonderful gift by  paying for a class at a local school. I am going to learn how to properly use photoshop!
Now I have my somewhat fancy camera, and thank god for Picasa, but there is a whole lot I need to learn, and this is going to be so amazing.

One thing I learned by having my new camera and experimenting with it, is that you got to have fun or it really becomes a chore. It turns out that I really enjoy taking pictures of my friends posing with my jewelry.
Now mind you ,there are hundreds of jewelry artists with professional fashion photos out there, and I am not one. But I thought I would share my best efforts with my two models I introduced .
Here we go...
Let me know what you think.