Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Find me on Instagram

Currently, I'm suffering from a lack of time.  I'm dissertating in the mornings (research, writing, revising, repeat), felting in the early afternoon, beading at night, business planning on the weekends.  This doesn't leave (much) time for blogging.  What I'm not doing?  Sleeping.  But that's nothing new.

So, for the foreseeable future, posts here will be rare. 

I invite you to join me on Instagram at #brisingbeads.  It's fun.  It's colorful.  It's quick(!)  It's becoming a mini-blog.  I'm even going to institute Wednesday Wisdom (which I have really missed doing here).

Come join me!  There's interesting things in the works for BrisingBeads (which I can't talk about yet, but let's just say - potentially good news for 2017).  Or, look for semi-frequent updates on the BrisingBeads facebook page.  Lots of info there on both BrisingBeads Designs and BeFashionBoutique!

Friday, June 10, 2016

BeFashion Update

I put one tshirt in the BeFashion Etsy shop and forgot about it.  Well, not really forgot, but life certainly got in the way of adding more.

Then, it sold.

So exciting!

Wonderful, Diane!
Diane gracefully sent me a picture of her wearing the tee.  She makes the shirt look great!  

So excited!  And so blessed to have such a wonderful first customer!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dissertation Advice

Trying to keep this in mind as I sit down to work on the dissertation every day.  Progress, not perfection.  Best dissertation?  A done dissertation.

Besides, when I finish the diss I can start working on some fiction projects and other history projects.  Go me!

Friday, June 3, 2016


For the past few weeks, I've been exploring Instagram.  Still not sure I've found all the features, but I'm hooked on the format.

It's an easy link from the Etsy Shop Updates to Instagram, and to Facebook.  And, since I'm trying to bring more exposure to BrisingBeadsDesigns and BeFashionBoutique, it saves time.  I'm all for saving time.

If you'd like, come join me on Instagram.  Just search for BrisingBeads!  See you there!

BeFashion upcycled sweater - ready for the Instagram party.

Monday, May 30, 2016


I'm teaching a hybrid class this summer (part online, part butt in the seat), on Media & the Sexes.  We're looking at the influence of media on our lives.  All different forms of media - tv, videos, movies, books, comics, newspapers and news reports, print ads, magazines. 

My grading companion - singing wren.
Media - we're surrounded by it.  And, as my students are discovering, media rules their lives because often it rules their thoughts.  Especially when it comes to how they view their bodies, their beauty.

This iris = beauty.
Every semester, I ask my students to evaluate how much time they spend in a day thinking about their bodies.  Even it's a passing thought, tally up the time that takes.  And, evaluate whether what they think is positive or negative.  Overwhelmingly, students acknowledge that thoughts about their body are ever-present.  There is always an awareness of what others might think.  Or what they are thinking - how to make their body better, what they should do, what they shouldn't do.

This is true as much for males as females.  (Which wasn't the case until just a few years ago.)

Quan Yin - Goddess of compassion
Most of these thoughts can be traced back to the influence of the media.

Scary, when you consider that most media content is determined and/or influenced by a very small, very elite, very white, very rich, very hetero, very male group of large corporation owners.  

Not people I want influencing my life.  Or my students.

Yet, this morning as I got dressed to take my computer outside in the garden to grade and enjoy the glorious spring day, I thought, "Wait.  This shirt might be too ratty for the backyard.  What if someone sees me?"  I also wet down my curly bed-head.  Even though the likelihood of anyone seeing me is nil.  Maybe the neighbors, who should be used to my ratty tshirts by now (13 years!).

The media has all of us well trained.

Advice I give my students.
This week, my students and I are discussing binaries - either/or, white/black, male/female, positive/negative.  Gender & Women's Studies is interested in that space in-between, the multiple perspectives.  The acknowledgement that media might ask you to believe everything you think.  But, you can choose not to.  Or, to be selective.  Like the wren - VERY choosy about who she spends time with.  That iris?  Blooms when and where she wants.  (First bloom in 3 years!)  Quan Yin - sacrificed eternal bliss to care for her people, despite pressure to do otherwise.

Don't believe everything you think.

Friday, May 27, 2016

So excited

I'm so excited about this shed!

10 x 16 of delicious space.  Sigh.

We've been saving for two years for this lovely.  Saving and planning.  I think I drove J a bit crazy with the decision making.  And one of my brothers.  What size, what company, what material.  How to prep the space.  What space in the yard to put it.  Oh, decisions.

Getting the shed is the first step to creating a home studio.  Really, the whole house acts as a studio now.  With only 800 square feet, the beads take over the living room.  Trims for the upcycled clothing have taken up half of my bedroom.  Felting takes place in the garage or on tables in the yard.

Since we want to work on felted clothing and larger designs, we need to expand to the garage.  Sadly, I don't have $20,000 to spare to tear down the garage, re-pave the driveway, pour a new slab, and put up a new, larger garage.  (Yet.)  So, we'll transfer all of the stuff stored in the garage to the shed.  Then, get an electrician in for better garage lighting.  Then, re-organize the garage to fit the sewing machine and 2-3 long tables.  Then, felt felt felt.

Sounds like a plan.

On Monday's agenda, paint the shed.  I think we'll keep it the same neutral color it is now.  It blends nicely.  In a few weeks, it'll fit right in with everything else in the garden.

So happy.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Following the Yellow Brick Road

We're headed to Kansas today, for graduations (Brother - BS in Antique Auto Restoration (how cool), Nephew - High School (then headed for acting college in Chicago, equally cool), with a side trip to Dallas (friend/family visit).

I do love a road trip.

And, the Wizard of Oz.  Which, how can you visit Kansas and not think about Dorothy and the gang?

During our last visit to Kansas, we stopped at the Wizard of Oz Museum.  FABulous little spot, chock full of everything Oz.  Not sure we'll make it this time, but maybe we'll play the movie soundtrack while we drive.

Very much hoping to NOT meet any tornadoes during the trip...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wrist Wraps

Last month I sold a large wrist wrap.  At 5 inches wide, it made quite a statement.

Joy, 2014
So, I took this sale as a sign that the world needed more wide wrist wrap bracelets.  'Cause why not?  They are SO much fun to make, after all.

Here's what I came up with, and I must say, I'm pretty pleased. 

Goddess Glen, 2016
Spree wrist wrap, 2016
India, 2016
Turquoise Bloom, 2016
So colorful and cheerful!  All of these are over 4 inches wide, so they really make a statement. 

I have about six more of these in the infamous (and endless) "to do" pile.  Equally bright and colorful.  Must have something to do with the spring burst of color all over the place.  Once these are done, I'll start working on some thinner felted bracelets, which are turning into one of our best selling designs.  (Love it when I make stuff that sells!)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Textile Necklaces

A few weeks ago, I got a bunch of next textile scraps in from India.  These are quickly becoming some of my favorite creative tools.  Maybe it's because I get to spend some time ripping apart the pillows that the scraps are sewn into.  You know, art of destruction and all that.

More likely, it's all the patterns in the scraps.  Some I fall in love with and set aside for necklaces.  Like these:

Spiral Necklace

This necklace is fairly large, yet still lightweight.  Another aspect of these necklaces I like.  Love the mix of elements in this piece.

Shining Star necklace, 2016

Love this piece.  I love the roughness of the textile paired with the smooth cabochons and seed beads. And check out that funky flower accent bead.

And, then, my favorite.  Actually, this is one is up on my list of all-time favorites.  The colors and textures are just lovely.

Going for Gold, 2016

So much fun working with these materials.  I have a few more in my "to do" pile, once I get some smaller bead embroidery pieces done.

Feeling very creative right now...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Looking for new shows

I've shared in the past that some of our most successful holiday shows are the special events hosted by local art centers, galleries, and small museums. 

Display detail, 2014

 Truly.  Doing these small level shows allow us to reach a much larger audience than one or two weekend shows or concentrated Etsy marketing.  And working with people that know and appreciate art = so wonderful.

Wanting to expand the business, I spent time this winter hunting for new shows.  Thank goodness for Google.  I looked for "art center holiday markets" and got good sources.  Some of the Art Fair calendars (so useful for listings of art/craft shows) have also been good resources.

bracelet display, 2015
The tricky part is keeping track of everything.  Every show means at least 5-10 emails, all with different forms and/or information.  Some shows require membership in the center (usually $25-45 for the year).  Some shows use Zapp apps (not my favorite app site!), some handle everything in-house.

I started out using paper folders to keep track of everything, printing out copies of forms.  Too messy.  Especially in my tiny workspace.  Last year, I went to email trails.  I set up an individual folder for each center and/or gallery, and shuffled all the paperwork into these files.  Somewhat easier.  And at least I can find the paper trail when I need to.

This year, with even more possible shows, I'll probably stick to a revised digital filing system.  I'm looking for a good app, one that I can keep notes on as well as business details.

One system that has worked well is our photo "filing" system.  

Necklaces that went to Anton Arts (all sold!)
When we ship everything out to the individual centers, we take pictures along with the gallery/center name.  So handy.  It's easy to check what piece is where.  It's easy to check in, to see what sold.  (Nature designs sold VERY well last year!)  If I have to track a piece down for a customer, I can flip through the pictures.  It's also easy to check that I don't leave an Etsy listing up for something that's out to a gallery.

We're starting our planning for holiday shows extra early this year.  I'm already contacting venues, placing items aside, and scheduling when to work on what.  Most of the summer will be all about felt production, with beadwork in the evenings.  

Organization.  i gots this.

Friday, April 22, 2016

While this was going on...

Surprise!  Fake Spring in Michigan, 2016
...this was going on.
Felted belt, 2016
I decided to combat the fake spring weather with bright bold colors and lots of texture.  These belts/headwraps/headbands are SO much fun to make!  And with the summer festival season on the horizon (somewhere.  Unless that warmer weather will also turn out to be a fake), it's perfect timing for some bolder designs.

Belt, 2016
Last fall, I did up a bunch of "blanks," long pieces of needle felt.  When I got caught up in holiday shows, I shoved the bag up on the shelf.  

So glad that I had these done ahead of time.  All I had to do on a snowy weekend was take them down and start playing with adding the fun bits - appliques, beads, textile scraps, lace, charms.

Mirrored belt, 2016
And mirrors!  I got two big bags of shisha mirrors from my sari supplier.  Perfect accents for these belts!

Love the tye dye liner on this belt!
The hardest part about making these belts is figuring out how long to make them.  Originally, I used ribbon ties on the end, to make them very adjustable.  But customer feedback asked for elastic ties and buttons.  After making these, I'm not sure that's workable, as it seriously limits the sizing.  I may have to resort to rivets and laces.  We'll see.

Subtle colors (kinda), 2016
A friend uses her belt as a hatband, an idea I love.  And one worth developing as a marketing tool.  I've long wanted to bead embroider a felt cowboy hat.  Wouldn't that be cool?  So, maybe felted, beaded hatbands are the next best thing...

Rhea, 2016
Regardless of my fiber and beady plans, Rhea remains unimpressed.  She's snuggling until fake spring is over.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The School Year is Almost Over!

Yes.  That is a note of relief you hear in my title.

In the past year, I've taught eight classes, at three different colleges/universities.  That's a lot of lesson plans.  And essay reading/re-reading.  Not to mention the paper grading.  Almost 300 students times 10-15 papers, a piece.  Well, is it any wonder why I've let my blogging slip?

Lonely daffodil, spring 2015
Not to mention my dissertation.  Which, frankly, I haven't made as much progress on as I'd hoped.  But, I have a research trip scheduled for July.  So.  Then.  Writing, disserting, all the time. 

'Cause I'm only teaching one class each semester this summer.  And, working on a gender project for the Dean's office.  And starting work on a novel.  And making product for two businesses.  And setting up the fall/winter show schedule.

Goodness.  I need a vacation.  Or a chill pill.  Or an extra day in the week. 

No one ever talks about how tiring living a dream life will be...

Monday, April 11, 2016


After one too many frustrating conversations today, here's my new approach to problem-solving:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Be Named

Names have power.  Words have power.  I talk about this with my students all the time.

So, when it came time to name my newest adventure, I wanted to pick the right name.  The right identity.

At first, I was sold on "Dutch Girl Redoux," in honor of my Dutch heritage.  And because the Dutch are notorious/known for making something out of nothing.  I liked the name.  I could see the graphics for branding.  Something a little funky, with bright red tulips.

Not quite.

Be Bright tee, 2016
Then, I considered "Helen Johanna" or "Johanna Helen," my grandmas first names.  They're the ones that taught me how to embroider, taught me about flowers (which seem to be quite a prominent feature in this new work), taught me the value of hard work.  And words.

Still not right.

Be Bold, sweater, 2016
In the middle of a dark, stormy, windy night, it came to me.  "Be."


"Be" for the Berkana rune, a symbol that very special to me.  It represents the feminine, abundance, fertility, creation.  It's purification, healing, renewal.  It's associated with the birch tree, my favorite.  (I have a wonderful specimen of this tree in my front yard.)

Berkana is literally written as "B."  The logical jump for me was "to be," which brings in women's history and gender studies.

My work with students is all about "to be."  Who they can be, who others can be.  How women have been in history, but overlooked.  How girls are often told what and who to be, framed in messages about their bodies, as if their minds don't exist.

"Being" a woman is so much more than being beautiful, being pretty, "being" for someone else's desires and/or needs.  Often, this gets expressed through fashion.

Be Delighted, detail of wool jacket, 2016
My idea?  "Be" Fashions.  I'll add "Be" inspirations to my designs.  Be Bold, Be Delighted, Be Love.  Lots of options, lots of meaning.  A combination of all I strive to be.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Be, continued

So, clothes.

Especially, vintage clothes.  And thrifted clothes.  Well-made, well-crafted clothes.  The perfect canvas for bits and pieces of beadwork, lace, flowers, fabric.  The chance to make something new from something, essentially, thrown away.

Be Plentiful - funky hi-lo sheer floral dress, 2016
The chance to have some fun.  Oh, yeah!  Fun!

Be Graceful pink tee, 2016
So much fun to dig through my bins of goodies, pull out bits and pieces, and create a "clothes collage."
Be Fearless - Frida tee, 2016
When I sampled printer fabric paper, I was even more excited.  My collection of digital images is pretty extensive.  Now, I have one more way that I can use them!  It's so easy to create the images and, because the fabric is fray-proof, it's easy to sew image patches onto clothing.  (I have yet to try to work with iron-on appliques, but will soon.)

Be Boundless - denim jacket, work in progress
Patches, oh patches.  The embroidered sari patches I use in my felted belts work equally well in upcycling.  And look really good mixed with other fabric and textiles and lace.

Flower nuno scarf, 2016
As I looked around Etsy and Pinterest at other upcycling creations, I felt like I'd found a new niche.  But.  

I still wanted to connect the new adventure with women's history, with words, with my spirituality.  And I wanted an approach that might set me apart from other upcyclers.