Tuesday, December 1, 2015

So many many things to be thankful for this year!

With Thanksgiving just behind us, and my travel schedule for the year ending, I am finally home for a month and a half.
What a busy, wonderful year this has been! I have so much to be thankful for. It was less than a year ago in mid January that I quit my day job and decided to give this "beady thing" the chance I thought it deserved, and it paid off.. I have traveled far and wide teaching beady classes and giving presentations, all over the country from Alaska to Florida and many places inbetween.

My calendar for next year is already full, plus half of the year after that too.

That is huge! I went from worrying that I won't be able to pay rent to knowing for sure that I can for a year and a half ahead. Doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life, spreading the love of beads to everyone who, much like myself has a tendency to want to roll around in shiny little seed beads, because ladies and gents, some of us are just born dragons, and it is a beautiful thing to be, indeed.

I learned so much this year ... Every time I have the good fortune to give a workshop, I learn something new from the good peeps participating. It's definitely a back and forth process, and when we all put our heads together, everyone leaves richer, filled with more inspiration and creative ideas than we know what to do with.
 All these travels have enriched my spirit and soul and filled me up with all sorts of ideas for future projects.

 And that is why it's essential for me to have times like right now, when I will have over a month to develop new designs, work on competition pieces and get ready for next year's traveling. I have a list that's longer than Santa's for the things that need to get done during this time...
 Because as great as traveling around  the country is, I still have to come up with  exciting new projects to tempt my beady friends with, so they come and take my classes. I don't want to get stale. I want to keep on hunting around for exceptional elements and create cool, enticing designs around them. And so travel, and creative time still need to be balanced out, which is also something I learned this year, when I scheduled some of my trips so close together, that for a couple months I was only home inbetween trips  for not more than 4 days.
Because I am so happy go lucky and full of energy and bright eyed and bushy tailed just to be allowed to do what I am doing, it worked out. My dear husband put up with me, but next year I am spreading things out a bit more and will try to work on having my Etsy store open more. This year in August before things got really busy I had to close the Etsy store simply because I wasn't home enough or had enough stock on hand to be able to keep it open. I want to work on that too...

Well, I am ever so thankful for all the people in my life who made this year possible for me. Friends that became family, and family, that supported me through all the craziness and made it all possible. Thank you all! You know who you are... I am getting gushy just thinking about all the love I received without which this would not have been possible.

In case you read through all this hoping for eye candy, I got that too. I updated my bracelet section, necklaces and collars  too. Added a new class in two colors, well, technically they are different enough that I could almost call them too separate things, but they are Sunrise & Sunset Shores.

Just for good measure here are those pictures again, and some other pieces I finished in the last few months.

 Then here are some pictures of a pendant I made for a friend:

And some random stuff:

 This is Loki. She is Sammy's girlfriend. She followed her belowed's paw  steps into stardom as a canine supermodel.
Wee pendant...
Angler fishie for my friend Helena Tang-Lim.
An ammolite bracelet,

A labradorite pendant,
A bracelet made with a Stuart Abelman focal.
Two labradorite pendants .

A very simple little blue bracelet that features some new shapes. Very textural...

A bracelet called Visitation, with an angel by Dorcas Midkiff.

This one is called Enchanted Something. I made this while in New Mexico, where every single thing is called enchanted something.

And that's that. Thank you for reading and looking.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Evil Bunny and why it's important to keep on making things for ourselves. Plus what I won for my first place in the Crystal Category of BeadDreams

Self employment is still treating me right, and I enjoy waking up every morning and working on all the things I need to work on. Such as developing new projects for classes and kits.
If you are not in the business of doing such things, but you would like to know what it entails, I will gladly share, although keep in mind, this is just my way of doing it, some other designers probably have very different methods.

When I get an idea for a new class, I come up with a design. But I have to keep in mind that whatever this design is, it should contain "ingredients" that I can ideally have a never ending supply of. Well, at least for a while. This is crucial, because bead embroidery uses a whole lot of unusual bits that literally (as in not figuratively) come from all corners of the globe. If you have bought my kits or taken a class from me, chances are that the materials in you kit each came from different suppliers I have scavenged for all across the internet and at various trade shows. Of course matters are made even more complicated by the fact that seed beads are not uniformly numbered, so even sourcing what you would think is the easiest part of your kit becomes an issue. Here you might shake your fist and demand that suppliers start all uniformly labeling their seed beads, but it's a silly request that will drive you insane, and of course nothing will change.

It won't happen.Not in a million years. It's a pipe dream, like uniformly sized bras, pants and shoes. Dye lots change, manufacturer's numbers overlap, so suppliers have to have an in house system to keep things straight, and there are a hundred other issues that will prevent that from happening. So let's not get too worked up about it, just understand that even procuring the same seed bead from different places can be an issue.

After I have a bullet proof design that looks like people would like it, I better make it over and over and over again, even before I start taking step by step pictures and writing directions for the project. If it includes a stitch I haven't used before or new materials, it also means I will need to get those bits illustrated. I don't do my own illustrations, because I don't have time to learn it, and because even if I did, I still would not do them as well as other peeps who make a living doing them.

 So by now I made the project roughly 3 times, going perhaps on the fourth. I have ironed out the kinks, figured out the ways it can me messed up, and I am using this knowledge to write the directions that much better and making a list of things I will need to point out in class. I am also taking pictures, editing them, and really trying to break down my thinking process into manageable bite sizes bits that allow anyone to recreate the results at their own pace.

Chances are I need to do a different colorway, which should not take as long as the first, but still adds long hours to the process. Meanwhile I have stashed hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of product so I have enough on hand to make kits for a while.

I also bought thousands of pages of paper and a whole lot of ink, and I constantly pray that the printer doesn't give up on me. Philip, my printer deserves to be worshiped. He doesn't understand the meaning of planned obsolescence, and I hope it stays that way. I would offer him sacrifices to keep it this way, if he had any use for them.

After all the printing I have to make sure I have enough zippy bags of every size to put the beads and all other components in them. I use more zippy bags than drug dealers do.

Measuring all the beads out for the kits is actually quite soothing and I don't hate it. Yet. Although I have been assured by my elders, that this will change in time. For now, I like it.

So by the time I show up to a place ready to teach a class, there have been months of hard work that went into those kits. Sure some things need to be improved, and I have to deal with kit failures ( the moment when oops, someone is missing something), but I have a "cannibal kit" for this with me. My cannibal kit is actually not eating other kits, itself is what gets cannibalized when failures happen. And I better be ready for failures, because chaos is what the beadiverse wants, and I have to fight that with needle and scissor in hand.

Talking about fighting! As I approach my target( bead store or society or bead retreat) by airplane, I have to make sure that I stash all the class kits into my carry on suitcase. This suitcase utilizes every possible square inch that can be used by any airline's standard, and once I fill it, there is no room in there even  for an adventurous wayward ant. Because it's packed  THAT tight. This is to prevent my luggage getting lost. Sure I can replace my undies and toothbrush, but the class kits, never! They need to be guarded in case chaos wants to mess with my luggage. Of course bead kits never fail to look like dangerous objects in the x-ray machine, so I better get to the airport early, because chances are I will be searched. Again. And again.

Dear Reader, you see, a lot goes into this. And I love every bit of it.   But!!!! Sometimes, this also seems like a daunting task, and this week I found for two days after figuring out what I wanted to do,( which was a new kit I can sell on etsy), well, I simply found that nothing was going the way I wanted it. It was just not working.

This weekend being a holiday and me being my own boss and all, I told myself: " Fine. You don't have to bang your head against the wall, and you obviously can't stop working for three days" ( since I have very high expectations for myself and my productivity), "but how about you do something that makes YOU happy."

Me? ME? Oh yes. YOU! I am talking to YOU too Dear Reader, who perhaps leads a very different lifestyle than what I have described before, but perhaps YOU too take the time to do all sorts of other stuff, make things for sale perhaps, and then you don't make things for yourself. Maybe you are habitual gift giver who gives it all away, or maybe you supplement your income by selling finished jewelry ,and you just don't have time to make things for yourself. If this is YOU, then you need to take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you are worthy of your own efforts.

If we always make things to be productive or to give away or to sell and we don't take the time to make things for ourselves, that's as bad as not ever sharing your gift with the world in the first place.Sure, the world needs your work in it, but you need to have some special things for yourself. You just  really need to share your own gift with yourself too,because you deserve your own best efforts. This is because when you free yourself from the constraints to your normal way of making things ( cost of parts, how easily sourced they are, etc..) then you can truly just enjoy your own creativity and end up with something that makes YOU happy.

And that's exactly what I did in the last three days. I made myself an Evil Bunny bracelet.
 This will never ever be a kit, because it is just too price prohibitive. The focal came from Judie Mountain at Mountain Robbins .
 It's made out of bronze. I don't think Judie meant for the bunny to be perceived as evil, but something about the bunny's facial expression made me think that it had evil plans for the carrot. I loved the mischievous look on that bunny's face. The bronze piece had a good heavy feel to it. I just had to have it. Judie is only one half of the creative team at Mountain Robbins, her husband Wayne Robbins is the other half,who creates the most whimsical lampwork glass creatures. Their collaborative piece with Kim Van Antwerp won second place in the Finished jewelry category of BeadDreams this year. I strongly suggest checking them out if you are not familiar with their work. They are my new obsession.
 Besides the very exclusive focal what makes this piece very special is the use of a strand of  faceted Ethiopian welo opals.This was also a purchase I made at B&B this year. It was beyond my means, but I had to have it because. Because. They were that sparkly. I just had to. No excuses. I knew I had use for them.
 The fire within these opals is not something I have ever seen before. Their milky colors change to fiery red and green and purple and blue too. They are magnificent.
 They were very hard to work with because the hole on them was very small and I kept on breaking them and kicking myself for every one I broke. But I saved the shards and will do something with them. I can't let a single bit go to waste.
 Since I only had myself to please with this project,I just added things I liked to look of. Like some unicorne beads ,
 O-beads, and fire polished Czech beads. Then I used cubes to edge the bracelet with.
 And every time I look at the finished piece, I get lost in the details. And it's all mine! Only took me about 12 hours to make, but the material costs were roughly between $270- $300. It sure is excessive, but did I deserve something super special for being a good little worker bee? Sure I did. And so do you. And you don't need to drop that much money on making something that makes YOU happy. As beaders we all stash special components that we never use because they are just too precious. Well, guess what. Nothing is too precious to be turned into something for yourself. Make yourself happy, because if you don't, no one can, and because when you do so, your creativity spikes and you get even better ideas for all the other stuff you are doing for other people too.
 Did  I say they sparkle????
And glitter and gleam?
Now that I have exhausted the subject of making things for yourself and why it's good for the soul, I also want to fulfill my earlier promise of showing you what I won for getting first place in the crystal category of BeadDreams..
It's $450 worth of completely random stuff from Swarovski. Years ago winners could pick their own choice. Not anymore. Last year when I won third place and was supposed to get $150 worth of stuff, I got more than this and there were many things I could use out of what I got. Last year I got a really nice card from Swarovski which I treasured so much, I saved it. This year I got no card, and what I got, well, this is what I got.  Prizes are just a plus anyways, it was never the motivating factor behind entering the contest.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New classes and great things happening all around!

 I have had a very exciting and busy last couple of months! Lots of traveling, lots of work, and because finally I am doing exactly what I think I should be doing with my life, it was also an awful lot of fun. 
As it turns out, my BeadDreams entry ( see previous post for pictures), got first place in Crystal category.

This was quite a surprise to me. I was teaching  when one of the ladies in my class room told me and everyone else there, as it was just posted on Bead and Button's Facebook page. I almost cried, and got really really giddy and had to make  an effort not to shout obscenities, which is my natural inclination at such situations. Sure you might imagine more graceful ways to deal with excitement, like how Miss America always seems to be ever so cute, surprised and fluttery when her crowning is announced. My reaction was almost peeing myself , feeling shaky and wanting to shout unholy things I won't type in here, but just so we are clear on this, that's how that went down. Excitement does weird things to one.
It's truly an honor, and I could not be more grateful. I like what I made, it makes me happy, but it's also a rather strange piece, and I am glad others liked it as much as they did. I never took it for granted that they would. And will not feel entitled to any such things in future either.

 What I have won is $450 worth of Swarovski crystals. I haven't received them yet, but I can't wait. Last year when I got third place in the same category, I got a marvelous goodie bag of completely random and entirely wonderful Swarovski beads. I suspect the same thing will happen this year too. When it does, I will be sure to take pictures of my loot and share them here.
Leading up to the Bead and Button Show I have been traveling for a month and a half and teaching classes all over the country, and the more I do this, the better and easier it gets, and since no one complained yet, I assume I am doing good. More than that, according to the positive feedback, I think I am indeed doing good, not just assuming it. But it's important to keep things in perspective, and admit that there is always a whole lot more to learn and there is always room for improvement, so of course, it's a continuous effort.The day I say I am an authority on bead embroidery and things need to be done my way, the "Right Way", is the day I expect someone to kick me in the butt real hard.
 It's all just playing with beads, but it's serious playing, just like children are deadly serious about playing their games. It's what I want to do, day after day, start all over and do it all over again with never lessening intensity. At my current level of being largely satisfied with my life, the idea of Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence is extremely soothing to my soul.
Well, at any rate, here is a picture (above) of me at the Meet the Teachers event at the Bead and Button Show. The following pictures underneath are of my new classes I added to my list of designs I currently teach.
 Marty the Chameleon
 Marty currently exists in two colors.
 Sweet little googly eyed chameleon sitting on his green branch.
 It's a fun smaller project, perfectly awesome for beginners and advanced bead embroiderers too.
 The octopus bracelet shown here is the latest addition to the group. This project is more for intermediate to advanced beaders.
 Comes on an aqua/turquoise color combo.
 And also in a hotter than hot pink, spiced with orange version as well.
 Here they are tangled.
And side by side showing what the back looks like.
And on my mannequin hand. Once in a while I get some excited beaders demanding to know where to get such a hand. Mine came from a mannequin at the shoe store I used to work at. A small child knocked the mannequin over and it got really beat up and dismembered and put away. I took it's hands. It does have a silver nob on the wrist, where it attaches to the arms, but I always photoshop it out of the pictures.