Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Reveal!

Hosted by the amazing Lori Anderson, this go-round of the Bead Soup Blog Party has 400 participants.  Whoa!  That's a lot of blogs to view! Thankfully, the party has been split up into three reveal dates, the first of which is today.

And guess who made the first group?  Me!  And my lovely, generous partner, Stacie Florer of Soul to Substance.  Stacie sent me lovely beads to work with:
A joy to work with, although not my usual bright color palate at all.  I love the focal - reminds me of a full moon at the beach. 
I've been missing my favorite southwest Florida beach lately (Nokomis Beach), so maybe my homesickness informed my choice.  I have so many wonderful memories of this beach - watching dolphins play at sunset, hunting shells, walking for miles down the shore.  Quiet, peaceful times of reflection, when a girl in her 20s was trying to figure out the woman she wanted to become.  It's one of the places I most feel like myself.  And it's one of the places that most haunts me now, as a woman trying to come to terms with some of the decisions and events of her life.

So, the gemstone and pearl chips also seemed to go with this beach theme.  And since I've been enjoying making cuff bracelets lately, that's the format that I chose.

I used seed beads to mimic waves, accented by the stones and pearls found at the tide break.  
Because the metal tucked into the cuff makes a clasp unnecessary, I wanted to use the wonderful spiral clasp that Stacie sent in a different way, as a connector for moon and star charms.
I'm happy with the flow of this bracelet, especially that it symbolizes a place that is so dear to my heart.  When I wear this bracelet, I want it to be an inspiration for my future - full of spirals and motion and gorgeous full moons, dancing on distant shores, connecting with nature - reminding me to keep dreaming and moving forward.

Be sure to take some time and enjoy the rest of the Bead Soup Blog Party!  Here's the other participants revealing their designs today:
 Hostess, Lori Anderson,
Alice Craddick,  Alice's Beads and Baubles
Alicia Marinache,  All The Pretty Things
Amanda Tibbetts,  Amanda Made
Amber Dawn Goldish, Inventive Soul
Annita Wilson,  AW Jewelry
Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool
Birgitta Lejonklou,  Create With Spirit   
Candida Castleberry,    Spinning Spun Sugar
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Cassie Donlen, Glass Beadle
Cheryl McCloud,  One Thing Leads to Another
Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
Christina Hickman, Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Hendrickson,  Clamworks
Cilla Watkins, Tell Your Girlfriends
Cindy Wilson, Mommy's Dream
Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio
Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie
Cory Tompkins, Tealwater Designs
Cris Peacock, Cris' Page
Cynthia Deis, Shiny Little Things
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cynthia Wainscott, Exotic Peru
Dana Hickey, Magpie Approved
Denielle Hagerman, Some Beads and Other Things
Diane Valasek, Dragonfly Close
Doris Stumpf, Glaszwerg
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell, Dee-Liteful Jewelry Creations
Eileen Snyder, Dorset Hill Beads
Elaine Robitaille, Too Aquarius
Eleanor Burian-Mohr, The Charmed Life
Enikö Fabian, Perl-eni
Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
Heather Davis, Blissful Garden Beads
Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
Inge von Roos, Inge's Blog
Jami Shipp, Celebrating Life
Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
Jennifer Pottner, Rock Candy Beads
Jennifer VanBenschoten,  Jewelry, Art and Life
Jenny Davies-Reazor, Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jenny Vidberg, Shyme Design
Jessica Dickens, My Jewelry, My Life, Me
Jessica Klaaren, Beadful-Things by Jessica
Joan Williams, Lilruby Jewelry
Judith Johnston, Judith Johnston
Judy Riggs, Rigglettes
Judy Turner, Silver Rains
Julie Anne Leggett, The Peaceful Bead
K Hutchinson, Jumbled Hutch
Karen Meador, Dreamcatcher Ranch
Karyn Bonfiglio, Plus Size Bangles
Katherine Gale, Terra Beadworks
Kathleen Lange Klik, Modern Nature Studio
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic, Slovonske Technobe
Kelli Jacobson, Creative Moon
Kelly Ramstack, Adventures with Kelly
Keri Lee Sereika, Pink Lemonade
Kim Bender-Hora, KimmyKat
Kirsi Luostarinen, Kirsi Luo Korut
Kitty Bozzini, Kitty Lampwork
Laura Demoya, The Bead Therapist
Laurie Hanna, Laurie's Jewelbox
Leah Curtis, Beady Eyed Bunny
Linda Inhelder, Must-Haves Jewelry
Lisa Liddy, Metal Me This
Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
Marion Simmons, Shade Tree Studio
Marla Gibson, Spice Box Design
Marta Weaver, Marta Weaver Jewelry
Marti Conrad, Marti C's Clay Blog
Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens, GlassBeadArt, Lampwork Beads
Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio
Michelle Hardy, Firefly Visions
Mikala Coates, Maybe Just Perhaps
Mowse Doyle, HoCArt
Nancy Boylan, Snazzy Doodle Designs
Nancy Peterson, Beading From the Heart
Nicole Rennell, Nicole Rennell Designs
Niki Meiners, 365 Days of Craft
Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
Pamela Gangler, She Always Loved Pink
Perri Jackson, Shaktipaj Designs
Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads
Renetha Stanziano, Lamplight Crafts
Shannon Hicks, Falling Into the Sky
Shannon LeVart, Miss Fickle Media
Sharon Driscoll, Right Turn Art Werks
Shelley Graham Turner, Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame
Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
Skylar Bre'z, Brising Beads
Stacie Florer, Soul to Substance
Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
Stacy Alderson, Iridal's Attic
Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
Stephanie Stamper, Rainy Day Designs
Sue Kooiman, Black Tassel Bazaar
Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux
Tanty Sri Hartanti, TJewellicious by Tanti
Terry Matuszyk, Pink Chapeau

Vonna Maslanka, Just Vonna

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Okay, okay, so Texas does it bigger and better than everywhere else.  I submit this as true after spending the day at two Dallas beady locations yesterday.

If you're ever in the area, do yourself a favor (and your wallet) and visit Bead on Beads, then the Rock Barrel.

Photos from Bead on Beads website: doesn't even begin to give you the complete experience of overwhelming beady goodness!  

So many beads, all at wholesale prices.  (Read: cheap)  Very high quality.  I admit, I was worried that the wholesale nature would compromise the quality.  Not the case.  The gemstones were stellar.  The chinese crystal very even and great color/sparkle.

I'll definitely be using their online shopping cart when I return to Michigan.  Who knows, if the bank account allows, I may even need to make another trip to the store before I leave Dallas this weekend.  :)

After all, 
Motto borrowed from

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Damn It Necklaces

Damn it.  On occasion, I have found myself making necklaces in which "damn it" is my primary conversation.  Usually, the necklace involves fringe.
I blame the bugle beads.

They look all innocent, right?  But these suckers have teeth.  Well, rough edges.  Like me, when I'm working on something new and not quite sure what I'm doing but I'm going to wing it anyway 'cause it'll turn out all right in the end, right?  And if it doesn't, well, it's only beads and my life and I can tear it all apart and start over again.  And if that doesn't work, I'll try again.  And again.  And, damn it, the needle/my life broke.
The easy solution would be to get out another needle, thread it, and continue on until I break the needle (or bead) trying to pass multiple times through the same bead, which just doesn't always fit.  Proving that saying: If you keep trying the same thing over and over, expect the same results.

I was hard headed on that first damn it necklace, just like I've been stubborn throughout my life.  (I am of Dutch descent, after all.)  I tried to force the fringe to adhere to my will without reasoning through the process.  I ended up so frustrated that I wanted to throw that necklace across the room.  And knowing that the energy I was putting to my task was negative wasn't pleasant either, especially since the necklace was a gift for a friend.

After going through a pack of needles and multiple stops and starts to cut out frayed bead  thread, I had an awakening.  An Oprah ah-ha, come to jesus moment: take a deep breath and stop.  Stop.  Long enough to figure out what was really going on, rather than blustering and swearing my way through.

Turns out, I was using too large of a needle.  I needed a size 12 rather than a size 10.  (Side note: beading is one of those blessed things that recognizes size as smaller the larger the number, but that's another post.)  I  also needed to remove the thread from the stress of the sharp bugle bead edges.  By using a seed bead before the bugle and a seed bead after, I minimized the stress.  And, I couldn't pull the thread tension too tight if I wanted the fringe to hang nicely.

Samples of gorgeous fringe by Heidi Kummli  

Life is a lot like fringe.  Life turns into "damn it" if you're pulling too tight, if you're forcing things to do or go in a contrary manner.  If you don't stop and/or recognize and manage the stress.  Patience is key.  I've learned patience through my 20 years of doing beadwork.  Patience and that fringe is not my favorite design component.  And life's too short to do things that aren't fun, especially when it's supposed to be a fun thing - like beadwork.

Unless it's short fringe.  And bright, colorful beadwork.  :)

BrisingBeads designs, fringe using the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart/Stupid)
I still end up with damn it necklaces in my bead box, from time to time.  I have one, with a fabulous bakelite centerpiece, that I've been working on for over five years.  We have a love/hate relationship going on, but I'm thinking it's because I haven't stopped to learn her secrets yet.  Is there something beyond fringe that I need to learn?  Hmmmm...

For more artist stories, follow the blog hop facilitated by Brigitte Lyons of Unfettered Ink.  During the month of July, twenty two artists are sharing different stories about their creative process.  It's a fabulous way to get to know the challenges aren't singular.  That inspiration is found everywhere.  (The prompts for the stories can be found here.)  Yesterday, Hilary from Dean Street Society blogged her story - go see!  Tomorrow, Elizabeth Floyd will share.  I hope you're as fascinated as I am by everyone's stories.  Just think what our world would be like, if everyone knew and appreciated the stories of others.  Less stress on all of us.  Which means our fringe would all be hanging straight with no shredded thread.  And a lot less "damn it"s.  That's a good world.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pedicure - heavy on the cure

According to Wikipedia, the word pedicure refers to " a superficial cosmetic treatment of the feet and toenails."  Oh, wiki, it's so much more than that!
 I went for my first pedicure in 20 years yesterday.  I know, I know, I should take care of myself more often.  The pedicure was something I promised myself for my recent birthday, but had been reluctant to follow through on.

Until I sat down in the chair, I didn't realize why I was so uncomfortable about getting a pedicure.  Here I was, sitting up on this queenly throne, with another woman kneeling at my feet.  Really, being at someone's feet has to be one of the most subservient positions.  At someone's feet.  It has biblical connotations, yes, but as a feminist, I was more aware of the privilege dynamic.  Someone at my feet.  Like women are so often portrayed as being in regards to men.  Less than.  Humbled.  Not worthy of recognition.  Oppressed.  I wondered how often women had been in this position and gone unrecognized, under-appreciated.

I was really, really uncomfortable.  Really uncomfortable.  But, rather than call off the pedicure, I admitted my discomfort to Ann, who was bustling around the room, getting the water ready for my soak. Ann sat down on the stool and acknowledged that most of her fellow stylists refused to do pedicures because the subservient position made them uncomfortable, "though I don't know if they realize that that's what makes them uncomfortable."

And so began a really wonderful discussion - about women and our place in the world, how women's voices aren't heard and how scary this is in an election year.  I shared how determined I am to talk to my Women's Studies students about real-life situations that they'll find themselves in, as future wives and mothers and workers.  We both acknowledged how worried we are that young women are being raised to focus all of their attention on what they look like and the size of their bodies and how to attract a mate.  How the white wedding dress and the one day celebration becomes the entire focus, not what happens after the wedding!

Ann shared a conversation that she had had recently with a family friend who was graduating from high school.  When Ann asked her what she wanted to do with her life, the young woman answered, "I want to stay at home and take care of the house, get married and have babies."  Ann replied, "As a woman, you'll do that.  You'll take care of the house and the babies.  Don't worry about that.  But what do you want to do with your life?"

Now that's a powerful question.  

And the conversation shows the danger that women are in, as another generation of women are taught to focus only on the immediate and the superficially physical, rather than being taught to think critically and/or deeply about their lives.  To think about the careers and interests that fulfill them.  About their educations.  About the benefit of sports.  About travel and having adventures, discovering things about yourself that you didn't know and that aren't determined by someone else.  About their history as women, about being consumers and voters and policy-makers. About the importance of relationships that honor their strengths, thoughts, desires.  About equality.  About asking, on a regular basis, "What do I want to do with my life?"
It's very easy for women to become limited to a one-dimensional life.  Men, too.  We're taught to forget who we are as we shuffle through the expectations of others. I think that I've been caught up in this shuffle during the last few months, losing sight of my life and intentions.  The distance to my dreams and goals built up just like the nasty calluses on my feet.  Today, the calluses are gone.  I have sparkly copper polish on my toes.  And, I have a renewed purpose.

Pedicures.  Highly recommend them.  :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What I've Learned About Beading along the Way

What I've learned about Beading along the way:

1. Some necklaces are "dammit" necklaces from the very moment you put needle to thread.  "Dammit" when the needles breaks going through fringe.  "Dammit" when you get glue all over a wayward cabochon.  "Dammit" when you skip a bead.  Again.  After pulling the thread through three times.  Grrr.

2.  Some custom order customers will never be satisfied.  Period.  Even if you gave them the piece for free.

3.  When you see a bead or focal you like, buy it!  You'll use it.  Some day.  Maybe.  Life is too short to have bead regrets.  That pending bill?  It'll wait.

4.  Bead people are the best people on the planet.  Ever been to a busy bead store, one where there's a really good sale?  Or a bead show, with all those goodies?  Beaders are so polite.  No one pushes you out of the way.  Or grumbles about waiting.  Or grabs things out of your hand (no matter how much they might want to!)  And bead people are generous - with their time, with their charity, with their encouragement, with their excitement for other people's success.  Bead people = my kind of people.

5.  Patience.  (Although the only line I can happily wait in is a bead-purchasing line.  Still.)

6.  Beading is a process.  Sometimes, I can see the piece in my head before I start.  Sometimes, I can replicate what I see.  Sometimes, I can't.  Sometimes I'm winging it and have to go through the "this sucks eggs and is the ugliest thing I've ever made" phase to appreciate what I'm working on.  Sometimes, I still don't like it and it ends up in the "tear apart" drawer.

7.  My creativity is unlimited.  In 20 years, I've only done one necklace the same, and this was on purpose.  (And even then, I changed the placement of the charm.)  Ideas for necklaces are never in short supply.  Time is.

8.  Even if you don't think the colors work together, try it.  An unexpected color combination can bring life into a piece.

9.  Look to Mother Nature for inspiration.  Now there's some unlimited creativity!

10.  One can never have too many beads.  Honest.  No such thing as too much. 

11.  I am very very very blessed to have a great backstock of supplies right now.  It's wonderful to be able to go to my shelves and find what I'm looking for.  But I always feel like this, no matter what or how much stuff I have on my shelves. 

12.  Thrift stores, estate sales and yard sales are great art sources.  Both for "stuff" and for ideas.

13.  Having a piece of my jewelry find its home is the bestest feeling!  Whether it's a purchase or a gift - doesn't matter.

14.  Keep your receipts organized.  Even if all you use them for is to tally up how much you spent on beads during the year.  Organized!  (I have a bin that I put all receipts in throughout the year, then spend a day early in tax season to organize expenditures by month.  Easy to take the pile and put it in a plastic bag for storage when I'm done, along with all my other tax documents.)

15.  Seed beads are the key to the universe.  Well, my universe.  The color.  The sparkle.  The matte.  The diversity.

16.  Building a business takes time, more time than money.  And creativity.  But in having a bead/jewelry business, I get to define what this looks and acts like.  This is important to me.  I'm so glad that beads are a part of my life.

What have you learned by following your passion?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mixings for Bead Soup!

So excited!  I received my bead soup ingredients from my partner, Stacie Florer of Soul to Substance.  Stacie makes GORGEOUS metalwork, with lots of textures and mixes of metals and pearls, and oh, my!  Just lovely.

And, she sent me a package of lovely!
There's pearls and stones, a bit of silver, and three shades of my beloved seed beads.  And the focal!  A lovely ceramic pendant from Katie Swenson in Oregon (who had never made pendants before!).  

The colors in this pendant, in this whole mix, are just wonderful.  Very different from my usual bright palate, which will be nice.  I think I'm in need of some calm.  When I first laid out the mix, I thought "Full Moon over the Ocean."  So I'm thinking that will be my inspiration for whatever I make.  I have great memories of living in Southwest Florida, near the Gulf of Mexico.  Might be fun - and soothing - to channel that for a few days.
Not to be  forgotten is Stacie's wonderful clasp.  Yum!  I do love a spiral.  :)  Stay tuned for updates on the Bead Soup Blog Party.  My reveal is on July 28.  Better get to beading!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cancer Sucks

As part of Brigitte of Unfettered Ink's 5 Stories to Master Blog Hop, I've been reflecting on things I've overcome to be a bead embroidery designer/artist/business owner.

I guess I don't think in terms of "overcoming" something.  I'm of the school of thought that every experience contributes to the whole.  The journey is made up of a thousand steps, not simply the destination.  That there are no accidents.
Don't have a source for this photo other than "I saw it on Facebook."  Doesn't she look like fun?

My life has definitely had twists and turns, all of which affect my beadwork.  A major turning point came when my husband died of liver cancer.  (Hard to believe it's been 9 years.)  He went fast, within about 5 months.  But during this time, we had lots of time to talk.  About everything.  One of those conversations, focused on the things he would regret not doing, made me realize how much I wanted to go back to school.  A year after Tom's death, I enrolled.  And now I have a double major BA (Women's Studies and English/Creative Writing), two MA degrees (Women's Studies and History), and will start my PhD studies in History (focused on the history of women) in Fall, 2012.  Now, that's how you fulfill a dream!
Being in school has given me a stability that I've never had before in my life. I've also put the patience that I've learned from beading into practice.  When I'm in the middle of multiple academic hoop-jumps, I remember the process of beading, in which one bead builds upon the next, and the next, and the next.  Steps.  Yes, sometimes life feels like one step forward, two steps back, but amazingly, there's always progress.
Fairy statue, my garden
Preparation helps to navigate the process.  As Tom prepared to die, he planned a trip to Vegas, where many of our friends still lived.  A big party for his 50th birthday was organized and over seventy people came to celebrate Tom's life.  That's amazing and meaningful, but the memory that sticks with me is Toms preparation for the party.  He spent weeks going through his possessions, picking out gifts for people.  Deciding which things to pass on to who.  Most of these things were spiritual in nature, holding little monetary value.  A crystal, a knife, books, hammers, clothing.  But each choice was based on what Tom thought would best express his love for the giftee, fulfilling an interest, a shared experience, even a few jokes.
Kwan Yin statue, guarding the front door to my house.
By all accounts, it was a fabulous party.  (I didn't go.  My employer wouldn't give me the time off and I knew I'd need vacation days as Tom got sicker.)  There was laughter and dancing and drumming and magic tricks.  (Thank you to our dear friend Jeff McBride for hosting the party!)  Tom was able to celebrate his life in a fabulous way, giving that nasty ole cancer the middle finger.
The "Spirit" pole, guardian of the garden.
Through Tom's experience with cancer, I learned that life really is short.  I learned to do the things that are most important to you and let the rest go.  I learned to value the moment, the experience, more than the results.  When I sit down to my beadwork now, these lessons inform my process. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Tale of the Delighted Customer

Fortunately, I have more than one story of a delighted customer.  Even better, I have customers that have become treasured friends!  Sally, Ronnie, Kat - you are treasured beyond measure.

At a recent spring show, a customer walked up to the booth and squealed.  Squealed!  Dressed in a bright purple t-shirt and lime green  glasses, she was overjoyed at seeing this necklace:

Prince Charming.  The new love of her life.
She didn't even ask the price before she claimed  him.  Just put that purple dichroic frog and lime green bead embroidery around her neck and handed me the credit card.  Easiest sale ever.  And, even better, one of the most genuine "love at first sight" responses to my jewelry I've ever had.  This young woman had no fear about claiming what was hers, about accepting something that made her feel better and stronger about herself.
Beads.  They're magic.