Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Queen

Usually, by this time of the winter season, I'm complaining about the cold and the snow.

Not so much, this year.  Here in Michigan, the weather has been divine.  We've had one foot of snow, in November, that melted fairly fast.  There's a rumor that more snow is coming this week, 1-3 inches.

But I have snow on my mind.  Mainly, how to embellish this necklace to look like sparkly snow:

Snow Queen - outline
I picked up this bar cabochon in Arizona, a few years ago.  I'm not sure what the stone is.  Agate?  Quartz?  But it looks very wintery to me.  I thought it'd be perfect paired with this cameo, which I think I'll try to highlight with some silver rub, to bring out the texture in her hair and necklace.

I'm thinking I'll use lots of white pearls and crystals, definitely.  But I'm going for a mix of textures, too.  Smooth snow laying on the ground, for sure.  But also, a windy snowstorm, whirling crystals that catch the light.

Probably easier to write about than bead, huh?  We'll see.  :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Just now coming up for air after two busy weeks.

Pinterest picture

The Wings Stadium show was a success.  So busy!  This is always a well-attended show, but this year especially so.  I'm sure the nice weather in Michigan has a lot to do with it!  The crowds on Saturday were non-stop.  The crowds on Sunday were in a buying mood.  :)

Our scarves sold well.  So well that I don't have any nuno scarves left to take pictures of.  Guess I'll have to make more, right?

Felted bracelets also sold very well, as did smaller necklaces.

It's so rewarding to have people find pleasure in the things you've worked so hard to create.  And to enjoy browsing in the booth.  We had lots of positive comments on our display, with many people saying how fun and colorful it was.  Exactly my goal!

One of the other goals J and I had for the weekend was to put positive energy out into the world.  with all of the "terror" negativity going on, we wanted to focus on love.  We set aside a handful of simple jewelry as give-aways.  Always, there are people that come to the booth, admire what they see, but then walk away with regret - from lack of funds or lack of belief that they deserve beautiful things.

Late Saturday morning, a little girl of about 8 or 9 came up to the booth with her dad.  She put one hesitant finger out to the edge of the table, rubbing a pearl.  Dad didn't say anything, but guided her away.  I handed J a plastic pearl necklace and she caught up with them in the crowd.  After showing Dad and getting his permission, she bent down and told the little girl, "Santa told me to look for the little girl in the red coat and give these to you!"

J put the little necklace around her neck.  The girl looked up in wonder at her dad.  We watched them walk away, the little girl smiling.  She even took off her coat, so that everyone could see her new necklace.

It was such a nice reminder and affirmation of what we try to accomplish with our designs.  Simple joy.  A bit of transformation.  Lots of love.

While the great sales are important because they allow us to keep making the art we love, it's the look of wonder on that little girl's face that's worth more.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas @ Wings - Year Four!

Whoo-hoo!  It's here!  Our biggest show of the year.  (And the second to the last, which also makes me happy.)

Christmas @ Wings, 2015
We're in our usual spot - the Cube Lobby - again.  Most of our neighbors are also the same.  It's fun to come into the building and see people you only see once a year.  Linda, the Wreath Lady.  The Jerky People.  Kathy and Mark, the dichroic glass people.  Looks like we have a new gourmet dessert booth in the mix, too.  Might have to check that out...

We're going with one 8 foot table this year, so that we have time for a rack of scarves.  The scarves are selling really well at all our art gallery/museum shows.  I'm hoping that they do well here!  


I never notice how colorful our designs are until I see them all together.  Wow!  How cheerful!

Now, I need a nap, before I finish up a few more projects, make some booth signs, have a cup of tea, and go to bed.

Here's to a great weekend!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Art Inspiration - LIfe 4

"Hello, Dear.  What Did You Do Today?"

This amazing piece came through my Pinterest feed over the weekend.  I'm blown away.  Talk about a combination of art and activism.  The artist is Annabel Rainbow.  Her blog can be found here.  Onto the body is inscribed the following text:

The husband of a busy woman returns home, and asks the question, as he does everyday, “Hello dear, what have you done today.”  The words stitched on the quilt are a blistering response.

Well dear, I worried. I had coffee this morning. Coffee is the second most valuable legal commodity after oil but is largely grown by subsistence farmers and I forgot to buy Fair Trade.
Then I took our grandchildren to school. Did you know that 90% of all childcare still rests on women’s backs.

On the way to the hated supermarket to buy food, I saw that lady from the house by the park in her burkha who everyone says is lonely and abused but can’t tell the police in case her family is deported, and thought about the veiling and seclusion of women and the cult of virginity and the death penalty for women’s adultery, and tried to imagine what it was like to be killed with stones.  I thought of rape and how under Shar’ia law a rape victim needs four male witnesses to substantiate her testimony. In the west we might just say she’s making the whole thing up.  I thought how rape could end if men just stopped doing it.

Then I had my hair done and looked in the mirror and saw how old I was.  When you get old you cease to exist, people just don’t seem to see you anymore. Perhaps I should lose weight or wear high heels to make me taller and show off my legs.  Perhaps my nose needs altering or I could get my ears pierced or my teeth whitened.  This made me think of trying to look nice and how odd this was when 140 million women have been circumcised and cruelly mutilated because it reduces libido and prevents promiscuity.  No, I’ll just bleach and perm my hair and put on false eyelashes and shave my legs and pad my bra, and file and paint my toenails. I’d best skip lunch or I’ll get fat.

I pottered about the garden and planted some lettuce. I thought of the women who make up over 50% of the world’s population yet only hold the title to 1% of the land, and produce more than half its food.  They work 2/3rds of the world’s working hours but receive 10% of the world’s income.
Then I collected the grandchildren from school and took them to cubs and ballet and thought of childbearing and the way fertility can be controlled, like the 35% of all Puerto Rican woman that were sterilized by the US Agency for Development.

Then I paid a visit to that frail neighbour who The Meals On Wheels lady told me about. She’s sad and alone because her family have had to move to search for work and she’s frightened and doesn’t want to go into residential care but she’s in the system and thinks no one is listening.
Then I came home to do the cleaning and the cooking, sort out the clothes and do the washing, and remembered what the Ladybird books taught me in school.

       “Here we are at home” says Daddy.
        Peter helps Daddy with the car, and Jane helps Mummy get the tea.
       “Good girl,” says Mummy to Jane. “You are a good girl to help me like this.”

When I had our children I worked part time for 20 years without sick pay or a pension and tried to nurture you all in sickness and life, and help keep everyone fed and educated.  If an Englishman’s home is his castle why doesn’t he clean it.  Only 3% of PLC Directors in Britain are women and only 4% of judges.  78% of all clerical workers are women, but only 11% are managers.

Then I started to work on my quilt, and you’re reading it now.  Women artists only earn 1/3 of male artists.  So I stopped and made your tea. That’s how I spent my day, dear, how about you?

THIS.  This is the kind of art I wish to create.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Beading my fingers to the bone

J and I don't have to put on our monkey clothes (aka dress-up teaching appropriate clothes) for over a week, due to the Thanksgiving break.


Or, in other words, BEAD DAYS!

Which works out perfectly because our biggest show of the holiday season is the first weekend of December.  And I have LOTS left on my "to-do" list.

These need to be edged and strapped:
Note that gorgeous MakuStudios heart!
Rose quartz, citrine, and a lovely pendant
Really simple setting for a MakuStudios spiral.
Big Mucha collar piece.
I wanted some bead embroidered "show stoppers" to display.  My focus has been on felting most of the summer and fall.  It felt kind of good to get back to my beady roots.  I'm undecided about the Mucha piece.  It's going to be one that people either love or hate.  With a base of garnet 4mm beads, button pearls, blister pearls, and lucite flowers, I think I captured the spirit of the Mucha print.

Mermaid fairy felt collar
 I've had this felted collar in my "to be finished" pile for over a year.  Maybe almost two.  I think I'll add in some pearl drops along the edges, for some extra movement.  

Hoping to finish these this weekend, so I can get to the pile of felted bracelets that's waiting.

Felted bracelet "blanks," just waiting for beads and buttons.
More on the bracelets, next week!  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Turning Inward


Burning Bush, 2015

That season of high color and high activity, as everything shifts into high gear only to suddenly, come to a stop as the weather gets increasingly colder.

Autumn, the season of relief.  I start worrying about how we're going to get all of our leaves raked by the city pick-up date almost as soon as the trees start budding in the spring.  With six maple trees, a birch tree, and about a dozen other smaller trees, there are a lot of leaves to consider.

Almost as many leaves as beads to bead for fall shows.  I start working on arranging the holiday sales schedule in June.  Since I try to expand our sales reach every year, there's a considerable amount of research involved. 

Front maple tree, in all its glory, 2015
Add in all the school stuff - teaching, researching, writing.  Whew.

As of yesterday, the garage is cleared out, the leaves are raked, the snow blower is getting tuned up, all of the jewelry is sent out to the galleries, and there's only a few weeks left of school.  

Back yard maple, 2015
And, me, I'm ready to slow down a bit.  Ready to start dreaming of next year's designs.  I have projects I didn't get to this year that I still want to explore - clothing designs, especially.  Mostly, I can feel myself drawing inward, becoming more reflective, spending more quiet time.  I'm taking an extra half hour to snuggle in my bed, partly because it's warm, partly because it's calm.  There's just a general sense of "Ahhhhh."

What about you?  Do you "shift" with the seasons?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In progress

Think I can get all of these done in a week?

Need to get these edged and strapped for two of the final three upcoming holiday shows.

We'll see if I can do it.  :)

Felting has come to a halt, for this week, anyway.  I fell off a curb last Friday.  OUCH!  Banged up my right shin and scraped my palms.  Hurts to stand for too long.  Hoping to get back to felting next week, since the weather is holding.

Better get busy with that beading!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

'Tis the Season

photo from the Weather Channel
Happy Halloween.  Take time to cackle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I'm a winner!


Feeling very blessed this morning as I woke up to the news that I won the monthly component and focal stash from Art Jewelry Elements.

Just look at these goodies:

I've already got some ideas for these pieces.  The owl is going in a felted necklace, with browns and reds and touches of greens.  Perfect for fall.  I think I'll use the oak leaf and the green beads in a bracelet for ME!  It'll be a nice reminder that just as spring turns to fall, fall also turns into spring (once we're through that pesky winter).  The rabbit and moon piece is going in a big beaded collar.  Not sure of the details on that yet, though.  Hmmm.

Just the perk-up I needed this morning.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Holiday Shows! Booked!

I've shared before that the bulk of our holiday shows take place at local art centers.  This set up works so well for us, financially and energetically, that we added more shows this year.

Display in Anton Arts Holiday show, 2014
Applications for these shows are posted online from mid-July until early October.  I search for "art center holiday shows," "mistletoe markets," and similar titles.  Sometimes, listings of holiday events near bigger cities are good resources, as they'll list these shows among the bigger holiday events.  I also search for "art centers" in specific areas.

Most of these shows are fundraisers for the art centers, so there is an application fee (usually around $10-30).  The art centers also keep a percentage of overall sales, anywhere from 30-40%.  (Anything over that, I don't bother with the show.  The mark-up is too high for me.)  

Another Anton display. 
While the fees might seem steep, for me it's balanced with the convenience of doing these shows.  Most of the shows run from 3-6 weeks, ending right before Christmas.  We deliver boxes of jewelry and scarves to the centers closest to town and mail out the others.  We set our own pricing.  The centers cover packaging and marketing.  And, best of all, staffing.  So our jewelry and scarves are available to shoppers for much longer hours than we could ever manage on our own.  Then, in late December, early January, any leftover product is returned, along with wonderful checks for the sold items.  So simple!

Since many of the art centers are in smaller towns with well-established art communities, there is a built in market.  Plus, since this is the major fundraiser for the year, the art centers do LOTS and LOTS of advertising, as well as hosting various events throughout the run of the show.  The photos above were part of a press release from Anton Arts that was featured in Detroit area newspapers - publicity I could never have arranged!

Display at Lowell Arts, 2014
Doing these types of shows has upped BrisingBeads Designs credibility as "art," as well.  It's very very cool to be surrounded by other artists and artwork.  It's also led to invitations to be a part of different artists co-ops and galleries.  Our work has become much more recognized, first locally, and now, throughout Michigan.  Nice.

So, of course, I added more shows to our already hectic schedule.  :)

Last year, we did four art centers, one major arena show, one early fall show, and two private shows.  This year, we are confirmed at seven art centers (and waiting on two more submissions), did two early fall shows, one private show, and the major arena show.  Our fingers are wrinkly (from the felting) nubs (from beading).  Most of the new shows are in the Detroit area, with one in the Chicago area.  And, of course, I'm always looking for more!  That's how much I love selling at these venues.

Look for BrisingBeads Designs at:
Anton Art Center
Lowell Arts
Flat River Gallery (Lowell, MI)
South Haven Mistletoe Market
Lubeznick Art Gallery (Indiana)
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
Krasl Art Center
Wings Event Center (first weekend in December)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dear Time Management God/dess


Yesterday, I saw this news story:  Why Sweden is Shifting to a 6-Hour Workday.  Immediately, I dreamed of moving to Sweden.  Can you imagine?  Eighteen hours a day to do...well, everything.

Instead, I spent much of today feeling like this:

Anyone want to join me in Sweden?


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Back to basics

Two weekends in September were spent doing art shows.  There's something really cool about being in your booth and having someone walk in and want to talk about how and why you make what you make.

"Are you the artist?"

I love those words.  So validating.  So inspiring.

Ceramic heart, 2015
One of my favorite things about being an artist is that I often get to use other artists' work in my work.  On a recent "I can't sleep," 4 a.m. cruise through Etsy, I found these gems:

One of a kind wood brooches, 2015
The price for all 6 was a steal ($19), so I snapped them up.  Different in style from what I usually work with but the detail = just amazing.

J put this one together, using just a simple frame of bead embroidery.

And this one:

I just can't get over the detail.

I have a few more to set into pieces.  At least one will go into a larger collar or collage piece.  I think they'll be popular necklaces in this area, given all of the farming and rural communities around.

MakuStudios, 2015
Always a favorite artist to work with - Mak from MakuStudios.  Mak's raku ALWAYS sells out, in every show.  Better, she's a wonderful artist to work with, an artist that understands the needs of other artists.

I'm hoping I can keep up with posting new stuff on Etsy every Wednesday.  We'll see.  Come the end of October, most of our stock heads out the door for holiday shows.

Sunday, September 27, 2015



It's been a busy few weeks.  Honestly, I think J and I have crammed a year's worth of work into the month of September.  Between school and getting ready for holiday shows and doing two shows and producing a big wholesale order, and two job applications, well.  Busy busy busy.

And, here it is, Sunday evening again.  Time to get on the weekly roller coaster once again.

Knowing this about Mondays gets me through the week, though.