I Got This Bead, See . . .

I bought a bead. One bead. I paid $29 for one bead. I can't believe I've made that leap. I have fallen in love with lampwork beads. Not a craft, art or skill I intend to cultivate myself - just one I find worthy of slavish adoration when it hits the level of perfection I have found here:

Susan Jones Designs. I Love Her.
But I spent most of the day working on this bracelet for myself - I dreamt a name for it last night. Here is the work in progress:

And here's a close-up of the skeletal beginnings of . . .

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

I put in an application today to join the SRAJD (Self Representing Artist jewelry Designer) group. Stumbled upon them during a websurf break today. Every little bit helps.


Best Laid Plans and All That

I really meant to post again last Thursday, but life has a way of poking you in the eye, waking you out of a really good dream.

Today and tomorrow will be maintenance days for the blog here - apparently there's an option to slap metatags on each post, which I had not done. My graphics library needs an overhaul, too.

My Other Job has been taking a fair chunk of time. I've got a bit of site maintenance to do over there as well. My creative time, my assembly time, shrunk up as soon as I hit my goal the other day.

Now I'm rattling around, trying to settle on which long-term project to tackle next. I've got this huge cuff bracelet I've been working on for myself - it's still skeletal, but I'll take some pics of it this afternoon. I have The Melusine, my next Mythic Doll, with only legs and hands to finish. I have the dragon waiting. Patiently waiting. And I still have that embroidered cuff - the one I started this blog with - to work up. And guess what. I'm taking that apart again. It's just not going where I want it to.

The magazines have been selling pretty well. I still have a dozen, but I make a forum post about them now and again on Etsy and off they go.

I have not been all together idle. As I've spent more time at The Other Job, I've managed to snatch a moment or two in continuing the downsizing of the craft area. I've been working on my cache of paper.

Next Time: Confessions of a Paper Hoarder


aaannnndddd . . . . GOAL!!

Here at last, I have reached my goal of posting 30 items in 30 days. Time to rest now. Time to dream a while.

This past week has been a serious test of my resolve to become more professional in my craft life. Letting go of things no longer relevant. Making pieces so full of memory and desire as to make me weep as I work on them. Committing to sell those pieces, with pride and without any selfish regrets.

It might seem silly to some, looking at this business from the outside, but there are some pieces I make that take so much of me that I cannot bear to part with them for any amount of money. I am learning to take that passion and manifest it by creating from a deeper place in me, allowing myself the joy of the act itself, reveling in the physical object that would not be in the world if not for my hands and heart and eyes and gift, and then releasing it. Letting it exist apart from me.

I'm not expressing this very well. Let me explain. I'm selling off my back issues of Belle Armoire, Somerset Studio and Expression. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me it is. I love these pages, these pictures, all the articles - ideas, projects, inspirations - I want very much to keep them all and yet I have no room for them in my reduced workspace. It took a long time for me to get right with the whole idea of paring down. Now that I have, I've committed to sell them and I will not turn back from the decision. It is the right one.

The dolls that I've made, the medicine bags, the embroidered cuffs - not only are they labor intensive, they are pieces of myself. I was content to sell my work once a year at an arts fair, or here in the book store where my sales are very infrequent (no one expects to find beadwork of this caliber in a used book store). Now I've taken that giant leap forward and put my work out there for all the world to see by listing these bits of my soul in an online consignment shop. I waver and occasionally wonder if I shouldn't take everything offline again, but I've made this decision and it is a good one. I will stick with it.

I'm not afraid to fail, and I'm no longer afraid to succeed.

Time to sketch. Time to dream. Time to rest awhile. See you next week.


Happy Valentine's Day All Over The Place

One of the problems with being in retail is that you become hardened against actually feeling the spirit of most holidays - especially the manufactured ones like Mother's Day - but I think Valentine's Day is different. At least it is for me. For all its heartbreak of dreams unfulfilled and overblown protestations of enduring (yet short-lived) love, I still find it a charming day; an archaic symbol of the persistence of hope, and the astonishing capacity of the human for self-delusion. But enough of that.

To the business at hand: Today's entry. This marks 29 items posted in 29 days. Tomorrow the medicine bag goes up and I will retire to a simpler schedule of weekly posting, both to my online store and here. I'll reflect on that more tomorrow.

One last look backward.

I made this neckpiece as a companion to The Lizard sculptural peyote bracelet. They were commissioned pieces for a young woman who disappeared the day after I called her to let her know they were complete. Eventually both pieces sold, separately, to other folks, but I learned a very valuable lesson from this. First and foremost - always collect 75% of the item's price BEFORE beginning the work. And have a signed contract. We live and learn.


Homage to a Crazed Quilt

Today's entry may look familiar. I posted the picture for it on the 7th, thinking it was one of those items long gone. But the cleanup and reorganization of my multiple work and storage spaces continues, and many things thought lost to time have re-emerged.

So with the unearthing of so many things and my resurgence of energy for jewelry making, my little gift cabinet is getting very overcrowded. Something Must Be Done.

This is the embroidered cuff I made while visiting with my grown children in Omaha, and it is also the most expensive item I've sold from Etsy. I just wanted to remember it here.


Down To A Sunless Sea (Medicine Bag)

It is finished. And I love it. It came out so beautifully.

And I thought about listing it today, but I just can't. Not yet. I need to keep it with me a while longer. Working on it, sporadically, over the past week, I realized I didn't really want to finish it. I wanted to stay in that place in my mind while I worked on it - a peaceful, quiet time in my soul - the memories of that Northern California coastal trip - the lighthouses, the fog, the sea birds.

And so this is today's offering on Etsy. This was the last remnant of my love affair with Picasso jasper (the red toned ones) but the beginning of my romance with copper - which persists to this day.

I'm giving my head and hands a rest for a bit while I contemplate the mysteries of Chinese turquoise. *sigh* Only two more entries and I can stop talking to myself (blogging) for a while.


Four More - I Really Am Losing Steam

All the projects I have stacked up will take a lot longer than a day each to do - but here's another posted item. And all I want to do is get back to work on the medicine bag - it's almost done and I just love how it's shaped up.

I went through my bag of Almost Dones and Never Should Have Been Mades this afternoon, and found some real treasures that don't really need any work - they just need to be photographed or scanned.

Now another Blast From My Past:

I kind of invented this variation on the spiral stitch - or at least I think so, since I never saw it anywhere. I had about four or five of these in the gift case last August, and one customer came in and scooped them all up - she wanted them for Christmas gifts - said she was planning ahead.


Only Five More and Goal!

Today's entry. Buried in the listings between multiple back issues of Belle Armoire - one of the few craft mags I ever subscribed to. That and Somerset Studio. I think I subscribed to Expression, too, while it lasted. I'm not entirely sure, but I think they stopped publishing it. The last issue I can find anywhere is Jan/Feb 2006. I started posting the back issues of BA yesterday morning - and it got kinda crazy. There I was, multi-tasking at my Other Job, and I was about half through what I'd planned to do when it looked like Etsy had eaten a couple of my entries - it turns out I had an immediate sale on one of the back issues, as well as selling the "Mayan Rabbit God" neckpiece.

And speaking of sales, here's the North Coast Cuff, the item I posted to Etsy on 8 Feb.

I plop it in here to memorialize it. It sold this afternoon here at the shop. WooHoo!


Six More - I'm Losing Steam!!

Number 24 is up, and I'm getting distracted - the whole idea of selling these great magazine back issues is consuming me. While I was talking to myself (blogging) about this, it occurred to me I could cross-promote ALL the craft books I have for sale at The Other Job. With this thought comes the idea I could enter ALL the craft books onto our online bookstore at abebooks.com, creating a category just for them. Actually managing the site. There's a concept.

Hence the loss of steam for the current committment, which is to post 30 items in 30 days. I'm still working on the medicine bag - almost done with the top fringe - and now I'm trying to decide on what to do for the strap. Most likely I'll go with a spiral stitch. It's a little time intensive, but then - what about this project HASN'T been. Sheesh.

Now. What else did I used to make?

Le Tigre, another embellished net stitch band done up with amber glass seed beads, tigereye chips and an antique replica clasp. I made two of these, and it occurs to me I should make another sometime soon. Tigereye and garnet are big sellers for me.


Counting Down: Seven To Go!

This makes twenty-three. WooHoo! I wish I could say I finished the medicine bag last night, but what I can say is that I'm nearing completion. I finished fringing the bottom, so all that is left is to fringe the top and make the strap. I may be looking at tomorrow at the earliest for listing it.

As part of my massive seed-bead roundup the other day, I came across a stash of 35 craft magazines I haven't looked at in quite some time - Belle Armoire, Expression, and Somerset Studios. I decided to divest myself, and so gave them to my Other Job (the used book store). It's always hard for me to let go of Really Useful Things. Now that I think about it, I might just list them on Etsy!! I'll have to scrape up some ambition, but what the heck.

I was going to post some pics of my progress - but I'm still much farther behind than I care to admit. So here's another Pretty from the Past:

This was titled "The Lizard." I loved making this freeform peyote piece. I made a companion necklace for it, as well. I might show it off tomorrow - but enough for now. Back to work.


Twenty-Two Means Only Eight More To Go!

And I will have reached my goal of posting an item a day for thirty days! So here's today's. After that, I'll be settling in to a less hectic, more realistic, production schedule The real goal of all this is to produce enough stock to make a decent showing at the ASUNM show this November/December. This, I think, is the last of the rigorously juried arts and crafts fairs still operating in this area. The fact that it's virtually across the street from where I live ain't bad either.

I have some knitting and bookbinding, not to mention the jewelry-making, to get to, and purty damned quick.

Time for another look back over my shoulder.

This was called "The IceBlue Wristra." Made me chilly just looking at it.



Today's offering on Etsy.

Today's my full day at my Other Job, so getting much done on the medicine bag is going to be a little tricky. Separating the energies and switching focus are just a little beyond me on some days. The morning has been hectic, but things should calm down considerably after the lunch hour.

It feels like spring wants very much to begin, and to honor that, here's one of my sunnier pieces from another time and not too long ago:

I called this one "The Marigold Band." I know now I should have put more orange into it, but at the time I was completely nuts about this yellow mix. It's a flat peyote band with three little glass rounds as buttons.

I've made a few changes to the front page of my Etsy shop, and as I was preparing to do my blog today, I realized I need to do some serious reorganization of my merchandise picture files. That may be tomorrow afternoon's project. See, I have them saved on three different computers, plus some on a memory stick. Consolidation would not be amiss. Yikes! I have some out there in cyberspace, too, on PhotoBucket!! Eep!


Bead Embroidery - My First Love

I mention it as I post my latest item on Etsy. I really do love doing bead embroidery - it's my absolute favorite beading technique of all time. It's not the most commercially successful technique, given the time and effort that goes into a piece, but for me the results are the most rewarding.

Time for a progress report on the medicine bag -

Hey - nice picture of my new tea bowl, there. But let's get a little closer -

Now while it might not look like I've made much headway, in fact I have. I made a lot of design decisions, and I had to put a bunch of mother-of-pearl disks onto rings (they'll come into play when I attach the fringe). Stay tuned! I expect to have this finished by Wednesday! HAR!

Before I forget - I made my first Treasury page on Etsy this morning! I am just delighted! See it here!


Went Bead Shoppin' - Oh My My

Before I get into that, here's today's item listed on Etsy.

I got to thinking about all the cool stuff beadshoppers were seeing there in Tucson, and I thought - it's been a while since I went over to Bead Obsession down on Central. And I am, as always, dee-lighted with my swag. My pal Jean took me for a quick run-through (spent $55 after 11 minutes of shopping - not bad) where I found some multi-strand connectors perfect for some projects I have coming up. And since when did Fireline start making their products in CRYSTAL?? Woo and likewise Hoo.

I must have been working some this morning - I can always tell because my fingernails look very, very ragged. And I still have so much to do - Well, like I tell my daughter, these beads ain't gonna weave themselves. So back to work - but first, another one of my Golden Oldies:

This is my "Little River Stone Cuff," and like its big brother, sports a stone I found down by the Rio Grande some years ago. This one has an antique replica button, as well as two hooks and eyes, for closure. The band was done in five-drop peyote (what a time-saver!) in one of my proprietary mixes. If you zoom the picture, you can see a crack in the stone which to my mind made it unsalable. Of course, I wear it all the time.


Oh To Be In Tuscon

The big bead show stuff is going on there right this very minute. *sigh* Someday. In the meantime, I really need to get cracking on working up the beads I already have - and quite the stash it is.

Number Eighteen's been posted over at Etsy - Surprise! - another bracelet. I know. I really should post Something Else.

The worktable has the skeletal beginnings of a new medicine bag - but the sketchbook is starting to burst at the seams.

Back to the old Bygone Bijoux one more time:

I called this one "Russian Winter." It's another embellished terry stitch wristband, with snowflake obsidian chips as the main ingredient. I love the giant toggle on this piece. I need to make another - whups. There I go again. The sketchbook is TOO FULL! I have to keep reminding myself!!


The Stars Came Out At Noon Today

Right here. I love the way the embellished net bracelets feel - so sensuous. They sort of slither around your wrist. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

I got an Etsy convo the other day from Kackleboan, maker of fine trollops, who wanted to know a little more about my medicine bag, specifically about the "Spanish Lace" netting stitch. So I took some pictures, hoping to illustrate the technique.

Here I have all my stuff collected up for the project - I'm not actually going to use the cream colored beads in my final piece - I'm just using them here to illustrate because the contrast is better. I'm using Size 5 bugle beads (11 mm), size 11 seeds (the dark ones) and size 15 seeds (the cream color). I prefer to use #12 sharps and Fireline 4lb for my needles and thread. I start with about 2 yards of thread and attach a stop bead. Then I string 1 bugle, *2 15s, 1 11, and repeat from * ten times, then 2 more 15s and a bugle. That's Row 1. Now I add another bugle and ladderstitch it to the bugle next to it, beginning Row 2. Thread on 2 15s, then PT (pass through) the 11. String *2 15s, 1 11, 2 15s, and PT the next logical 11. Repeat from * five times, then string 2 15s and a bugle. Ladderstitch this bugle to the first one in
Row 1, then string another bugle, ladderstitching it to the last one in Row 2, making it the first bugle in Row 3. Now you string on *2 15s, 1 11, 2 15s, and pass through the next logical 11. Repeat from # to the end, where you'll add another bugle, ladderstitching it to the bugle in Row 2,

then add another bugle by ladderstitching for the first bead in Row 4. That's the basis for the net. I'm not very good at explaining things, and I don't know how much detail you can see in the photos, so if you have any questions or need clarification, just use the "comment" feature here and I'll try to help! ADDED: Ladder Stitch explained a LOT more clearly than I could!


Sweet Sixteen

This is such a cutie, I'm tempted to keep it for myself. Of course I won't, I'm just saying I'm tempted.

I took the day off yesterday from my Other Job to just sit and deal with all the feelings that came up with the announcement of my first grandchild's entrance into the world.

It's Charlie!

My zen, my mental refuge, has always been to keep my hands busy. Yesterday I posted some pictures of a work in progress. By 1:00 this morning, I thought I was done.

I call this one, "The Stars Came Out At Noon Today." I say I thought I was done. I'm not thrilled with the clasp, so this afternoon I'll be replacing it and with any luck I'll have it up on Etsy tomorrow.

Oh! And look what I bought on Etsy yesterday! I can't wait to work this into a neckpiece I'm hatching!