Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Summer Work Space

The perfect place to spend a summer afternoon, beading, reading, working.

Relaxing...

Looking towards the Fairy Garden in the east.

Lilies and four-o-clocks in the Moon Garden.

Celebrating Water, in the west.

Fire Lilies

A moment to reflect in the north west Word Garden.

Happy kitty.  Ricky, in his bliss.

Rhea, on the hunt for toads, pre-bunny hop run across the yard.

Worth all the hard work.   (Done by Jaynee, solo, this year.  She rocks.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thank you.


Thank you, to Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, and the hundreds/thousands of supporters of women's rights, in Texas and around the country.  Wherever you come down on the issue of abortion, it's important to recognize that women's voices must not be silenced.

Please, stand up for women's rights.  It benefits us all.

And, remember,


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Things I Let Go in the Fire

The past two days have been all about getting rid of STUFF in the over-crowded garage.  When it's winter and cold, we tend to throw STUFF in the garage, in the promise of getting to it later.  After a few years, the STUFF multiplies. 

Just like emotional STUFF.

I am not, by nature, a collector.  I had four boxes that I knew I needed to sort through.  Old papers, photo albums, tax receipts, magazines.  Memories.  And the last remaining box of my deceased husband's papers, which I had promised to do something with but instead left in a cardboard box that over the past ten years, various mouse-ies have nibbled on. 

Every time I looked at that neglected box, I felt like a bad wife.

As I sat today in the heat and steam of the first day of summer, going through my boxes, I felt overwhelmed.  Why was I still carrying forward memories that made me feel guilty, rather than happy?  Or photos of people that are long gone from my life?  Journals, filled with pain or worry or past beliefs?

Had it not been cloudy, as it so often seems to be in Michigan, I'd have snapped my own picture.  (Flickr pic)
So inspired by that big ole SuperMoon, I braved the heat, humidity and mosquito hordes and started a bonfire.  Time to release the past, make room for the new.

Lots of STUFF went in the fire.  I sorted through Tom's papers.  A few, I'll send to a friend who will put them to good use.  The rest, I burned.  And, as I threw paper after paper on the fire, I let go of the belief that I had been a horrible wife. 

I also purged STUFF from the love-o-my-life and past associations.  No more saving past sadness or anger.  Goodness, life is meant to be lived in happy memories or possibilities of creativity.


I did save journal pages that had story ideas.  And photos from special events and family members.  I even have enough pictures of past flings to make a nice Slut Collage to giggle over in a tidy photo album of my first fifty years.  You know, for those rocking chair memory days... :) 

Beyond feeling tired (after two days of grueling garage work in the heat and humidity amongst what is assumed to be raccoon poop, a decomposed squirrel, two liberated chipmunks, and WAY too many bags of crap), I feel relieved.  I can now move forward without all that negative baggage overwhelming me every time I open the garage door.  I even found a box of seashells, already drilled and ready to into jewelry, and two hamsa pieces that I want to play with.  So, beady score!

Sigh.  Definitely worth a few mosquito bites...


Friday, June 21, 2013

The saddest day of the year.

Summer Solstice.  The day the sun loses its battle with the light and begins to fade.

Yes.  I know, it'll be a couple of months before the fading light creeps up on me.  But, still, I swear I feel the change in my very bones.  And I'm filled with sadness.

Someday, I want to spend the Solstice here.  But without the loud crowds.

Photo courtesy of www.surferville.com
To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie--
True Poems flee--
---Emily Dickinson

 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Art Inspiration - the Garden

In the spring and summer and fall, all I have to do is walk out the back door to be inspired to beauty.

I mean, really...
Early spring tulip.  Front yard.
To the wonder of the backyard...

An early spring look at the Word Garden.  And a shaggy Heather, before her summer haircut.
Some of my favorite flowers are the bulbs.  This year, we had more hyacinths than we've ever had before.  The smell is as amazing as the color.

I'm not sure.  Do hyacinths multiply?
Last fall, we planted a weeping cherry tree.  We have a neighbor who likes to lean over the fence line and trim our trees in the fairy garden.  Pisses off the fairies and me.  So, now, for every tree he cuts, we've decided to plant two.  Now that he knows this is the policy, neighbor guy has put down his saw.
So far.

Oh, how I wish these blooms lasted longer.
Every day, the garden changes.  I'm going to try to be diligent about documenting and sharing the bounty this year.  Mostly because it's so gorgeous.  But it's also my excuse to leave my desk, where I'm writing and researching and transcribing, for a few minutes every hour or so.  

And if I take more photos, I'll have inspiration for that dreaded Michigan winter, that will come way too soon.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day"

Enjoying the Moon Garden - June 4, 2013

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Saturday, June 15, 2013

In Honor of Kalamazoo Pride's Celebration

I'm busy this weekend, selling beads and supporting loved ones.  I'll have pictures to post later, 'cause I'm sure it'll be big fun and lots of laughter and lots of love.

'Cause love, it's universal.  And knows no boundaries.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bead and Button show

The Bead and Button show has been on my list of "I wanna" for several years.  350 + vendors, beady people and gorgeous artwork all in the same place = of course.  So, on the spur of the moment, and armed with some fundage from the bead stash, J and I headed across the Big Lake.

 The first purchase, moments after walking in the door?  Lisa Peters Art!  What a wonderful, friendly artist.  I've wanted some of her work for quite awhile.  

Then, the search was on for chinese glass deals.  I needed 6mm and 8mm shiny beads.  Prices on these were all over place on Saturday.  By Sunday, they had largely all come down to $1 a strand.

Love those opagues!

From here, it kind of begins to blur together.  And get a bit testy.  We ran into a few vendors that weren't lovely to deal with.  I fell in love with these lampwork cabs...so rare to see lampwork in cabochon form.  The vendor was really helpful and nice.  The bead store he was sharing the booth with - not so much.  (In 20+ years, I've never had someone give me such a hassle about using my resale license. Grrr.)

Check out Robert's stuff!
As we wondered around, we did bump into (search out) several artists that I've been wanting to meet and/or re-connect with.  Yvonne, from MyElements  (so wonderful!  so welcoming!), Joan Miller (who had lovely treasures that I hope to see soon in her Etsy shop!), York Beads (so friendly and didn't poke at me for continually losing my password on their online site) and Green Girl Studios (so much fun to look through all those trinkets!).  It was also lots of fun to have the gang at Fire Mountain make such a fuss over the jewelry we were wearing.  :)  Meeting Gary Wilson and ogling some of his stonework was lovely, and, I admit, a bit stressful, as I tried to decide on what my modest budget would allow.  He truly is a master.  And it was lovely to meet Diane Hyde.  She was one of the first people that I bought from, all those years ago, when I first started bead embroidery.  She encouraged me at a time when very few people were playing with beads and embroidery.

We stayed in the Hyatt, right across the street from the venue.  WAY over-priced.  I should have done my homework better on finding a place to sleep, but I was looking for easy rather than practical.  And, honestly, I thought for the price, I'd get some amenities, not nickle and dimed with charges.  Never did get internet access or the television fixed.  Sigh.  And parking = OUCH. 

Can you guess?  I will not ever be staying here again.

But Sunday came and we were relatively refreshed.  And the spirit of beady-love was alive and well in the venue.  Maybe it's because we started our shopping with Mak, of Maku Studios.
 
Oh my goodness.  I came home with these pieces, but really, I wanted about nine more!  And she is just the most lovely person!

Working on our bead buzz, we crossed the aisle to Raven's Journey.  (Thank you, Sarah, for the tip!)  I found a good deal on some little clay faces.
But there was lots of czech glass here, as well  - fun sizes and shapes.  

Then it was on to Electica.   Crazy busy booth, but VERY well staffed and organized.  I went a bit cabochon greedy.  Mother of pearl (need a funky piece of white coral for the center piece to use with these), kyanite (my favorite stone), gold moonstone, abalone, and some jaspers.  Yum.

 
As we headed out, we FINALLY found seed beads at a reasonable price.  Got lots o'hanks of 11's, 8's and bugles.  And found this funky glass strand (plus metal) at North Lake Trading  (wonderfully friendly!) right next door to the seed beads.


Also found at the seed bead shop (which I believe is "Victorian Lace")  - some flat chunks of copper from Michigan's upper peninsula.  I'm anxious to use these, maybe mix 'em with some petoskey stones.


I also found a felting kit, which I'll talk more about later on, as I begin to play with felt.  (This is also on my "I Wanna" list.)

Last, but definitely not least, is this gorgeous lampwork focal.  The artist gave me an excellent deal and I'm disappointed to say, I can't find her card anywhere!  But I'll keep looking!


All in all, I'm glad we went. But I'm not sure I'll need to go again.  It's a great venue to see and be seen, to meet up with fellow beaders and artists that you admire/hear of.  The Bead Dreams display is just amazing!  So much talent.  But if one is looking for deals, not so much. 

I think, if I go again, I'd like to take some classes - in polymer, in felting.  Definitely, stay at a cheaper, more welcoming hotel.





Hari-Kuyo Ceremony

I suppose I could have waited until February to post this enchanting tradition, but I love the notion of this ceremony.  I'm saving my needles up for February 8th.

Such a lovely idea.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Temple of Sekhmet

Before I recognized myself as a feminist, I identified as a priestess.  Priestessing was a way to connect with others, to work for empowerment, to honor the feminine.  In fact, my bead embroidery developed as a way to make jewelry to wear during ritual.
Outside view of the Temple.  This door opens to the East.

I started going to the Temple of Sekhmet shortly after it was built.  Purposely established on land in the "middle of nowhere," the Temple offered a respite from the bustle of Las Vegas.  I was struggling with my life (as many who are about to turn 30 do) and the Temple gave me a safe place to focus.  Honestly, I cannot put into words what this space meant to me, then,  Continues to mean to me, though I haven't been there in years.
Sekhmet statue in Temple.  She sits in the Southeast corner.
Sekhmet and I had lots of conversations, as I helped around the grounds.  Some talks happened late at night, just her and I and the wind and the stars.  I'd drive from Vegas out to Cactus Springs often, enjoying the view.
View to the South, towards Wheeler Pass.
Sekhmet wasn't alone in the Temple.  There were dozens of statues of other Goddesses.  I painted and decorated a statue of the Norse Goddess, Frigga.  I swear, late at night, you could hear them whispering amongst each other.

Madre de Mundo (Earth Mother)
The Temple defined the woman I was becoming and continues to guide me.  When I left Nevada in 1999, I did so because I knew that I had more to accomplish than I was able to do in staying there.  I promised Sekhmet that if she guided me, if she made the journey possible I would work to empower women.
Top of the Temple, sunset
I feel Her calling me.  I have plans to visit the Temple this summer.  Sekhmet and I are overdue for a long talk.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Playing with Crayons

I grew up with three pesky younger brothers. 

I use them as the excuse that I wasn't big on playing with dolls, at least not in the traditional "play marriage and have babies" mimic.  The brothers liked to hide the few pretend friends I had: a beat up teddy bear, the old rag doll of my Grandma's and June, the one baby doll I got for my birthday and loved because she was so snuggly. 

Strangely, they rarely messed with my Tubsy doll.  :)

My goodness, this is a creepy looking doll!
Mostly, I played with my crayons.

But not to color with.  I did color, but only when someone was watching me.  I'd sit at the dining room table and make up stories in my head, in which the crayons were the characters color-coded and sized for gender.  I don't remember the specifics now, but I think my heroine was a lovely shade of magenta.  Or purply-red.  I had families of crayons.  Each crayon had an identity and a personality and a history.  If, on the rare occasions a crayon broke, I took the loss personally, as if it were a death.

My goodness, the stories I made up!  (I wish I'd written them down!)


Mostly, I'd make up stories in my head about the wild west and wagon trains and Indians.  I was fascinated with Native American culture and pioneers that traveled against all odds across a country I could barely imagine.  I'm sure I was heavily influenced by the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  Oh, the adventures she had.  I was also fascinated with the mountains.  And rivers.  With the wild.  And falling in love with an Indian.  (Yes.  I did grow up to do just this.)  And wearing buckskin.

On Sundays, I spent a lot of long afternoons sitting at that table.  I hated mashed potatoes but could never figure out a way to get rid of them like I could peas  (burying them in the sugar bowl and/or smashing them under my plate).  So the cold potatoes kept me company, as I traveled all over the wild west in my head.  And the pesky brothers didn't bother me, 'cause coloring was boring.  :)  How could I sit there for so long, they wondered. 

crayola.com
I think I probably absorbed some Crayola color theory as I played.  I'd examine shades and line up colors - complimenting colors, opposing colors, warm, cool.  I had combinations I liked, which became favorite characters in my stories.  And the colors that I didn't like?  Well, of course they were the villains.  White.  Tan.  Ocher.  Villains, all.  Sometimes they just got thrown into my tin and neglected.  Or broken, if I had to make a sacrifice (which if I remember right, in my stories was always the mean white guy that was guiding the wagon train). 

I still play with my seed bead tubes this way.  Well, maybe not consciously, because that childhood imagination has been somewhat subdued.  But I find I match up colors and allow the tubes to "talk" to each other, when I'm figuring out the story of the bead embroidery.

I'm glad the crayon kid still exists.  But, please, don't tell my Mom, but under the dining room table... well, it's an excellent spot for shaping/sizing crayons when I need to whittle to meet the needs of the story.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

J's Work

When she takes time off from gardening, my roommate/bestie/sister (hard to categorize everything we mean to each other) J relaxes by doing beadwork.  She learned bead embroidery less than two years ago.  Though you wouldn't know it from this:

Amazing. 
She took some bubble glass that we found at the local stained glass store and created this masterpiece.  Oh, the fringe!  (And she actually likes to do fringe.  I don't understand...)

Here's a close up of Midnight Dance.

I continue to be amazed at the diversity of work that beads can create.  And how much enjoyment comes from those tiny little gifts.

I'd say J has the hang of this beading thing, wouldn't you?


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Binary Reality

"We live in a binary reality, we do. It's a world of black and white. 
 There's only two types of people in this world: 
Those who can finish lists."
(Stolen from my god-son's Facebook page.)
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Myra's Gift

Myra's Gift - now on Etsy
This past January, I was lucky enough to go to Quartzite, AZ for the gem shows.  (Here's the link to that adventure.) Oh, so much fun. On one of the last days there, Jaynee and I found these gorgeous natural druzy cabochons, at Sunwest Silver.  So unique. Stunning shades of gray and brown and sparkles. Breath-taking. We went through trays and trays of them, even though the budget was maxed out.

And then, when we needed it most, an Etsy sale! Whoo-hoo. Now we had money to spend, to bring home some of these treasures. So, Myra, this necklace is in your honor. :)

Close up of that gorgeous druzy!

I stuck with the desert theme, mixing seed beads in shades of the rising sun over the red mountains in the Quartzite area. I added crystal points for the amazing energy. 


I'm really happy with how this turned out.

 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Etsy

I'm a fan, honestly.
Etsy logo.  Etsy.com
Yes, I know that Etsy gets lots of flack.  That being featured on the cover page of the website is a matter of politics rather than professionalism or product fineness.  And, yes.  I am annoyed by the proliferation of mass-produced crap that shows up falsely labeled as handmade.

But Etsy allows me to reach an audience that once, I only dreamed of.

Through my Etsy shop, I've made sales all over the United States.  I've made sales in the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Spain.  These are sales that never would have happened by doing local art shows.  Even national shows.  Best of all, I have customers that feel like friends, who I've gotten to know.  Who encourage me to keep working on new designs.  Who prompt me to explore.

I've also purchased hundreds of items through Etsy.  Glorious, fabulous, funky, beautiful components for use in my jewelry designs.  Most of my supply shopping happens through Etsy.  I spend 10-15 hours every month looking for new supplies.  If I get a design idea, Etsy is my go-to source for components.  Yes, I do shop at my local bead store from time to time.  But, frankly, Etsy is my best resource for keeping my jewelry prices low (so that my jewelry is accessible to customers).

The pricing for an Etsy shop is very reasonable, in my opinion.  I also think that .has done an excellent job of making the selling of products easy to manage.  As I go along in my Etsy business, I learn more and more about getting my products seen.  For instance, it helps tremendously to re-new a few necklaces/cabs once or twice a week.  The cost is minimal and most of the time, results in a sale.  At Christmas, it helps to do more advertising in late November.  In December, Etsy is flooded with product, making it harder to be seen.  (Frankly, this past holiday season was so over-merchandised that it was not worth the extra cost of advertising in a sea of advertising.)  

Having 100+ items in my shop makes the difference in shop views.  So does tagging.  Since I've been much more focused on using keywords to describe the overall beadwork I do, my jewelry is seen more often.  Now, instead of describing the specific features of one necklace, I use general keywords for each listing: bead embroidery, beaded embroidery, bead necklace, bead jewelry, one of a kind, etc.  This has resulted in more sales.

Listing my art glass cabochon components along with my jewelry has also helped sales.  It expands my customer base from people looking for finished jewelry to people looking for supplies for their own art creations.  In the next few weeks, I'll be adding pearl necklaces to my Etsy shop.  This should give me yet another jewelry line to draw from.  And, as I learned and implement SEO methods, I expect even more traffic.  (I'll do a post on this, when I get SEO's figured out.)

Most of all, I appreciate Etsy because it's easy to navigate.  Other art venues aren't as easy to explore.  Since purchases are often impulse buys, I want my customers to have easy access to my shop.  The easier, the better.



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Beaded Collage Necklace


Recently, a friend posted a picture of this early creation on Facebook.
"Victoria" - circa 1992
It's nice to see that it's held up so well.  And is still being enjoyed by Ms. Ronnie Fabre, friend and singer extraordinaire.

When I started doing bead embroidery over twenty years ago, I called them collage necklaces.  I  was living in Vegas and had access to excellent thrift stores.  Quality jewelry was still available at estate and thrift stores.  I could find blingy rhinestone pieces for reasonable prices.

I didn't have a large stash of beads back then.  In some ways, I think this forced me to be more creative.