Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm so proud of this new peyote cuff! Not that I'm not proud of my other creations (why else would I post about them on here all the time?), but I'm so happy with this one. I was trying to figure out a way to get squares that were actually square, using peyote stitch. If you've ever done peyote, you know just how tricky that can be; but I finally figured it out. As happy as I was to have figured out the way to get square squares, I was just as happy being able to design the perfect toggle for this new cuff, Crossword Puzzle.

So I posted some pictures to my flickr photostream, and some of my flickr buddies said nice things about it. Then I received a convo from Ann (aka FrancescasFancy) saying that she had featured it in a new Treasury. Ann's pretty new to Etsy (just a few months) and very new to the Etsy BeadWeavers group, but she's already building treasuries to feature members' creations.

Check out her Clue is Simply Black and White treasury!

Be sure to check out Ann's Etsy shop. She has some beautiful pieces listed, including this gorgeous

Purple Haze of Rays Choker.

So while I was poking around on the internet, I decided to check out the Heart-O-Tron to see if I had any new hearts for my Etsy shop or for any of my listings. I love being able to check on hearts so easily, and I frequently use this tool to determine which pieces I might want to renew so they get some more attention. Particularly with jewelry, since there are so many pieces on Etsy (almost 680,000 of them right now), listings move down pretty quickly. Renewing them is a good way to move them back to the top of the list, and the $.20 is well worth the extra attention, I think.

Anyway, there I was looking at the Heart-O-Tron, and I noticed that my Smilin' Jack cuff had a bunch of new hearts today. Now even though he's my Bead Art Originals Item of the Week, that doesn't usually result in so many new hearts all in one day; so off I went to investigate. And just look where I found him!
There was a Storque article about pumpkin carving, and my cuff is in the little showcase at the end of the article. Yay!!!

Last but not least, I received a convo today from Ruthie (aka RoseWorksJewelry) letting me know that she had featured my Bebe Bois cuff in her blog. She's also a beadweaver and wrote a feature all about beadwoven bracelets. She has all sorts of goodies in her Etsy shop, and she's having a BOGO sale right now. Just look at these funky Punk Rocker Earrings!

That's it for today. A pretty cool day for me overall. Besides all that beadweaving goodness, I managed to get the yard mowed for what will probably be the last time this season. Now if only the elves would come and move the rest of the mulch pile from the driveway...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This is Bernard. Bernard Zebediah Caws is his full name, but I just call him B. Caws.

If you've visited my blog before you may have noticed that I have a silly sense of humor. Sometimes it shows up in my artwork, sometimes it shows up in my writing, and in rare instances it shows up in my beadweaving. This is one of those instances. Bernard was "born" when I realized that the little shape that resulted from trying to create a square using the same method used for making a triangle looks like little wings. The next step for me, naturally, was to add some silly legs and feet, a tiny little head, and a bright yellow beak. And Bernard was born. Just B. Caws.

Why am I writing about him here? Well, because he will be given as a gift to the person who purchases my Smilin' Jack beadwoven bracelet this week. That's my Bead Art Originals Item of the Week, just in time for Halloween. You can check out the other items of the week, from the other members, on the BAO Blog. Here's a picture of Smilin' Jack, so you can see just how adorable he is.

Even though I have several completed pieces waiting to be photographed, I've only managed to list a couple of them in my Etsy shop this week. I decided I wanted to create something in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although I decided that awhile back it took me awhile to get around to making something. First I thought of making a special design, but I couldn't come up with anything I really liked. Then I decided to use my Faux Bois design and create it in two shades of pink. I think this turned out pretty cool! It's called
Bébé Bois
, which translates to Baby Wood (it's French - my high school French teacher would probably be appalled at just how little I remember of the language.

To truly honor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided that I would donate 20% of the purchase price of this to the Susan B. Komen Foundation, in the purchaser's name.

The other bracelet I listed this week, Sexy Silver Stripe, is one I made after I found an old rhinestone button among my grandmother's button stash. This one's really simple, just black and silver, but I love the way it turned out. The vintage button really makes it special.

Before I finish this post, I have some people to thank. First, a big THANK YOU to Wenz27 (whose real name I don't know, unfortunately) for including my Piano Man cuff in her treasury that made it to Etsy's front page on October 26. Yay! I did a little exploring and found that she and I have at least two things in common... she's Dutch, and I have a Dutch last name (it's not my heritage, but hey, it's something!); and she has some knowledge of sign language, at least according to her blog, and I consider that my second language! :-)

Here's a picture of her gorgeous treasury, as it appeared on the front page.

She has all sorts of goodies in her Etsy shop, everything from clothes, to patches, to cards. It's obvious if you look in there that she has a great sense of humor, too. I love the title she gave to this cuff, the black/stitches/thingie. Appropriate from someone whose shop banner says, "The Screaming Needle." What a hoot.

And last, but certainly not least, is a big THANK YOU to Deanna, of youvegotmaille. She just featured my Obama cuff on her blog, and then we got to talking... She has some really cool chainmaille pieces in her Etsy shop, and she had some really cool beads and focals in her Etsy supplies shop, so we worked out a trade! I'm getting some cool stuff, and my Obama cuff is going to someone who I'm sure will enjoy wearing it. Yay, Deanna (and need I say it? GO, BARACK!)! It turns out that Deanna lives in a town that's really close to where I grew up. Part of that whole small world thing. :-)

And if you don't want to wear your political party on your arm, you can still show off your patriotism with some of Deanna's creations. Aren't these awesome? Here's the Patriot chainmaille bracelet:

and of course you need the matching chainmaille earrings...

That's all for now!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What a mess! The state of my "studio" right now is an unbelievable mess.

See, I've never had what I would consider a studio. I've had a craft room, but despite the fact that it's a great size for a craft room I've had it piled high with stuff. That's one of the hazards, I fear, of having such an obsession with creating. There's just so much stuff involved because I have to feed the addiction... fabric, thread, sewing machine, batting, yarn, frames, matboard, embroidery floss, polymer clay, beads, cardstock, paper... Argh! I can't say that it was ever truly organized. I made a few attempts at it, putting shelves all around the room to store all the stuff. The problem is that I'd rather spend my time creating than organizing, so there were boxes piled all over the place.

And now it's worse.

You see, I really like spending time with my husband, so I do the bulk of my creating in the living room and dining room. (They're on the first floor, and the craft room is on the second floor.) Last week, however, I decided it was just too much of a mess to have piles of things on the first floor, so I moved everything upstairs. Everything. We thought we had company coming for the weekend (that's a whole other story), so I didn't take the time to truly organize it all as I moved it. Now the room is in worse shape than it was before.

Moving "everything" meant that I made about a bazillion trips up and down the stairs. My knees are not happy. Some of this stuff was heavy! If you don't think this was a task, here's just some of what was moved:
- computer tower >> upstairs
- computer monitor (one of those giant, clunky, heavy ones) >> upstairs
- keyboard, mouse, modem, router >> upstairs
- digital scale >> upstairs
- office chair >> garage
- cardstock, paper (3 boxes full) >> upstairs
- guillotine paper cutter >> upstairs
- shipping supplies >> upstairs
- Etsy inventory (cards, envelopes, beadweaving, etc.) >> upstairs
- camera and attachments >> upstairs
- computer cabinet >> garage

Granted, that doesn't seem like a lot when you see it typed out like that, but it required many many trips up and down the stairs.

And now that it's all moved, I'm squashed into this little space I've carved out. It'll take me awhile to get everything organized, particularly since I'm pretty sure I'll continue to procrastinate the organization while I make new things. I already like some of the new arrangement, though. I now have my printer on the table next to me rather than in the cabinet underneath the keyboard; so I don't have to duck underneath the keyboard tray every time I want to print something. I also have the digital scale next to me instead of in another room, so I don't have to get up and walk to it every time I want to weigh a package. The paper cutter's not in the greatest place, so it's going to have to be moved somewhere, but for now I can make it work.

Now I'm going to experiment with taking my pictures in the guest bedroom. It has a big window that faces north, so I think it'll be good lighting. I just tried it out with one of my newest beadwoven cuffs, the Nine-Patch Quilt. I think it worked pretty well, and it's a big improvement over my previous photography staging area, which was out on our deck. Winter's coming, and I don't want to have to traipse out there every time I want new pictures!

Before I finish this post, I have to send some thanks to people...

To triz, for including my Piano Man cuff in this gorgeous treasury that made it to Etsy's front page!

If you've never checked out Triz' Etsy shop or her blog, you're really missing something. She does absolutely beautiful beadweaving, and her photography skills are incredible. Just check out her newest creation, which she has aptly named the Turquoise Delight Cuff.

I also have to thank Freya, of AFriendlyMonster, for including my Bat Banter captioned critter mini notecards in her blog post about bats. There are all sorts of batty creations included in her post, so check it out!

Now I'm off to do some organizing. No. Wait. I have an idea for something I want to create.

Guess what's going to win? :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks to those of you who took the time to read and comment on my last post. I'm pretty much done being frustrated and am just looking at this experience as an opportunity. How? Well, if the jewelry rep thing had worked out the way I expected, I would probably be trapped into making multiple versions of the same pieces over and over again (albeit in different colors, but still the same few designs). Instead, I'm able to do what I love: play with new techniques and designs.

Speaking of new designs, here are the latest additions to my Etsy shop. This first piece, called Opulence, is one of my all-time favorite creations (and that's saying a lot considering the number of pieces I've created over the past few years). I absolutely positively LOVE the way this bracelet feels. The texture. The weight. There's just something about all those triangle beads. This was a big investment in time, as you might imagine... more than 700 of those little fringes to add the triangles. It was fun, but these aren't the kinds of things I want to work on every day.

Another recent listing is my Op Art cuff, this time created in peridot and purple. I love this color combination, despite the fact that it used to be my division's official colors when I was working (have I mentioned how happy I am that I'm retired???). :-)

I recently posted a picture of my Imprisoned Heart pendant, so here's the picture of another version of my little abstract heart -- Crazy Quilt Heart. As much as I like black and white, I have to say that I love the crazy quilt version of this design.

And last, but certainly not least, is my newest creation: Smilin' Jack. This little guy, who reminds me a bit of Jack Skellington (don't you just love his face?!?!), is dedicated to all those Halloween fanatics out there. You know who you are.

See? If I'd been busy beadweaving away on all those designs I sent to the jewelry rep, Smilin' Jack and some of these new pieces might never have been created. They'd have just stayed ideas stuck in the back of my head while I did the same designs over and over and over.

One last thing for today. The Bead Art Originals Items of the Week! If you haven't been checking these out, you've been missing a treat. You can read all about the details of the specials being offered by me and my fellow BAO members on the Bead Art Originals blog. My offer this week is for a free matching pendant ($29 value) with the purchase of the Rivets in Steel cuff. There are nine other members participating this week, so check 'em out!

Friday, October 17, 2008

If you're going to get bad news and good news on the same day, it's probably good that they come at the same time.

I don't like to focus on bad news, so I'll post the good news first. My Yellow Windowleaf beadwoven cuff made it to Etsy's front page today! See?

I've been busy and hadn't even seen the treasury before I saw it on the front page (and thanks to a couple of Etsy friends for pointing it out to me). The treasury's title is CHAZ (a cross between cheese and jazz and has nothing to do with the treasury), and it was curated by aslibinal. Be sure to check out her shop for some cool Blythe stuff and some even cooler stuffed critters (ya gotta love a stuffed critter called Mr. Toofy).

Okay, now the bad news. I was literally in the middle of capturing that screen print of the front page when the phone rang. A few weeks ago, I was approached by a jewelry representative who told me she really loved my beadweaving and wanted to market it to high end gift shops and boutiques. Now I'm normally a bit skeptical about things like that, but I knew how she found me and did some research to determine her legitimacy, so I went for it. I packaged up some pieces for her to take to her clients, made up a price list for her; and I've just been waiting for word. I was a bit nervous, actually, that I'd wind up with orders and would have to race to finish a bunch of bracelets. I needn't have worried.

She told me that everyone who saw my work really loved it, but they all thought the prices were too high. Their expectation was that a beadwoven cuff should cost them somewhere in the range of $15 to $20!!! Eegads! These are the cuffs you see me writing about here on my blog, all designed by me, all handmade by me, and all made from the best materials I can find. The rep told me that the shop owners said they could purchase Fair Trade items much more cheaply than they could purchase mine, and they didn't think they should have to pay so much.

Even when I manage to purchase the materials for my cuffs on sale, there are a few dollars tied up in the cost of each piece. That doesn't even take into consideration the amount of time it takes to craft one of these pieces. It takes a long time to weave all those little beads together, and I'm pretty quick. I really do enjoy every aspect of making these pieces, from working on the designs, to choosing the colors, to weaving all the beads and watching them turn into "fabric." That being said, I'm not willing to sell my artistry, my skill, and my time for what would amount to less than minimum wage.

I don't think anyone should expect that. I'm dismayed when I see someone selling their beadweaving (or anything, for that matter!) on Etsy for what I know to be a ridiculously low price. It doesn't help any of us to sell at bargain basement prices. What happens when someone wants wholesale pricing? There's no room to provide that unless you actually LOSE money on your craft. Yes, there are those out there who say they're just selling their work to make money to pay for materials. I kind of started out on Etsy with that thought, but I eventually abandoned it. Some of the reason for abandoning that is that it's not fair to the people who are selling their work at the higher prices they deserve if I'm undercutting them. I've made a lot of cyber friends on Etsy, and a lot of them are beadweavers. I would feel absolutely horrible if I sold my work at prices substantially lower than theirs just to garner extra sales.

We really need to educate people about handcrafts. I think all of us who create do so because we love it, and we'd probably make things whether there were an Etsy (or eBay or DaWanda or eCrater, or wherever you sell) or not. Our friends and relatives would just receive lots of handmade gifts. But if you ARE selling your handcrafts, don't undersell yourself. Don't undercut your fellow sellers. Place a value on yourself and your art/craft, and stop trying to sell at prices charged by those third world countries. Use the best materials you can, do the best work you can do, and take pride in your art.

I will now step DOWN from the soapbox. I just had to vent some of the frustration I experienced when I received that phone call today. My beadweaving is on its way back to me, and I'm fine with that. Discerning buyers will understand that they're purchasing something special when they purchase my beadweaving.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bead Art Originals Trunk Show, which was last Thursday night, was a great success! Read about it here.

While you're visiting the BAO Blog, be sure to check out the Items of the Week for this week. Once again, there are some beautiful pieces and some great deals.

My offer this week is a free pair of matching earrings with the purchase of the Luscious Lime and Teal Necklace. That's the necklace in the top center of the mosaic.

Just check out those other gorgeous pieces! I haven't even checked out the offers yet, but the pieces shown here are just beautiful. I'm sure lucky to be a member of such a talented group of artisans.

It's been busy around here again... My husband's back has improved, thanks in part to the steroid shot he received last week. He's scheduled for another one next week. It's so nice to see him have some relief! He's still not doing very much, and his back is still bothering him a bit, but it's a drastic improvement over how it felt just a couple of weeks ago.

Despite the list of things to do...
- BAO trunk show
- BAO website updates
- my website updates
- laundry
- cooking
- yardwork (did I mention I have a whole truckload of mulch sitting in the driveway, waiting to be spread all around the house?)
- planning for a vacation
- cleaning up the house (we have company coming)
- keeping up with my Etsy shop
- and a million other things!

...I've managed to fit in some beadweaving. So here are the newest creations:

Not that I'm looking for things to do, but I've been thinking about changing my avatar. More about that later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Darn. I have bad knees (too many years of sports) and Carol Dean (SandFibers) caught me and tagged me. :-) So I'm supposed to share seven facts about myself, some random and some weird. I've given this very little thought, so bear with me.

1. I like to wear silly pants. The sillier the better. Not necessarily out in public, but when I'm at home I always have them on. Wal-Mart has a wonderful selection of comfy knit pants (they're in the men's section, but I have long legs and wear lots of men's pants), so I have Sponge Bob, Snoopy, Mr. Potato Head, Pac Man, Scooby Doo, Bullwinkle, and a few others.

2. I type very fast. Actually, I do quite a lot of things fast. The fastest speed, when I was timed (for a job), was 128 words per minute. I also read fast. At one time I could read 1200 words per minute. I'm sure I've slowed down, but I still go through books really quickly. I'm a little obsessed with speed.

3. My favorite thing to drink is milk. It's been my favorite drink since I was little. My second favorite is latte (I have at least two of them a day). Since my husband also likes to drink milk and latte, we go through 6-8 gallons of milk a week between the two of us.

4. My nose has been broken twice. The first time was when I was in high school and was punched in the nose by a fellow student. He had epilepsy, and while I was trying to hold him down during a really bad seizure, he hit me in the nose. The second broken nose was from getting hit with a softball.

5. I love to sing. I used to sing in choir, and at one point I was a voice major. Now I only sing in the car when I'm alone, to my favorite CDs, and usually at the top of my lungs. No one can see me in there, right?

6. My favorite book of all time is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. That's saying a lot, considering how many books I've read (I currently own more than 3000 books - my husband thinks I should open a library).

7. I've smoked exactly one cigarette in my life. I was four years old. My Mom used to sit at the table and smoke a cigarette while she had a cup of coffee. I thought it was so neat, and I tried to sneak one from her. She caught me and, since she didn't want me to take up a bad habit (she eventually quit a two-pack a day habit herself), she hunted down the oldest, stalest unfiltered Camel she could find and made me smoke the whole thing. Blech. Ptooey. She gave me a really strong cup of coffee to go with it, and it was years before I could bring myself to drink coffee.

Okay, now that's done.

The rules for tagging are:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are the cyberfriends I'm tagging:
1. Anna, of A Rose By Name.
2. Smadar, of Smadar's Treasure.
3. Kim, of Regal Beads.
4. Heidi, of Health Nut Wannabee Mom.
5. Ixela, of Ixela Thoughts.
6. Melody, of Salamander House.
7. Dawn, of Colorful Everyday.

Now I'm off to tag them! (I hope they don't run too fast.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Bead Art Originals team is having a
Thursday, October 9,
from 7:00pm until 9:00pm EST
in the Etsy Virtual Labs!!!

You're all invited.
(You have to have an account on Etsy to attend.)

There will be DOOR PRIZES.
(You have to be present to win. We'll be having drawings about every 15-20 minutes.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Seems like I'm always posting something about where I get my inspiration, and this time it's kind of funny.

The first inspiration struck when I was looking through my new supply of opaque delica beads (Fire Mountain Gems really loves me) and realized that some of the colors looked just like the colors of the fiesta dinnerware my grandmother used to have. Sadly, I don't have any of those old dishes; but I decided to make a tubular peyote pendant using a bunch of those opaque beads. I took my Fiesta Stripe pendant outside so I could get some photos of it, and I decided to use this wooden hand for some of them.

So there's one bit of inspiration... fiesta dinnerware.

Now here's the second bit. That wooden hand. I love wood. Our house (which we built) has oak flooring and trim, hickory cabinets, an oak fireplace/mantel, loads of wooden furniture, and even a collection of wood carvings (some of which were made by my very talented grandfather) and wooden vessels and bowls. I've been known to take pictures of driftwood, knots in fenceposts, and all sorts of things. Yep. I love wood.

So the wooden hand gave me the idea to create a beadwoven cuff with a wood pattern. I have no idea what type of wood this would be, so the cuff is called Faux Bois (French for fake wood). Pretty cool, eh?

I don't really have an inspirational story to go with the newest ndebele rope in my shop, Devilish Twist. I just like making these, and the red and gray beads seemed destined to be together.

Where do you get your inspiration? I'd love to hear from you!