30 August 2009

Riding the Wave

"I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky; and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." ~John Masefield

The challenge for August for the Art Bead Scene is a beautiful woodcut print, Kanagawa oki nami ura (Great Wave off of Kanagawa) by Hokusai Katsushiki. And this tsunami-type wave is pretty indicative of the process that I used to finally make something...it was a bit of a wild ride!

I was out of commission for about two weeks for my travels and illness, but before I left I went searching for just the right art bead to help me find my Muse for this challenge.

I started with my burgeoning art bead stash. But none of them had the right feel. (What?! But I have a small fortune invested in this horded art bead stash. You mean there is nothing suitably beachy in there?!)

I had grandiose plans to make my own pendant from a deep blue seashell, some feathers and some sand. But I obviously have delusions as to how much time I could actually devote to this challenge in this overscheduled month.

So I went shopping on Etsy instead.

I know. I have said it before that I need to put the kibosh on that sort of thing. But this is serious! I can't enter the Art Bead Scene challenge without a suitable art bead. And I have to enter this totally free and perfectly voluntary artistic challenge with no compensation, right?


Actually, I feel that these challenges have made me a better designer, and I am so grateful that I have found them. I like to stretch my creative wings and this challenge really had me thinking that perhaps I was some sort of flightless bird because it was seemingly never going to get off the ground.

But I persevered and scored a perfect focal when I stumbled upon Copper Art Designs on Etsy. I have been enamored with copper etching for about a year. And I finally screwed up the courage to take a class with Gina Crow at this years Bead & Button. And I have watched in amazement as so many of my friends (like Heather Powers and Melanie Brooks) have been chronicling their own journeys in metal. And I have been so eager to try it again, save for that pesky little time issue. So finding some experts at the most amazing copper art designs (hence their name), I couldn't help myself!

They had a set of mini beach bookmarks that had the perfect wave on them. The dimension is 4x1". But since I don't measure anything (did I ever tell you about the two couches in my basement that will have to be sold with the house?!), and I am notorious for not paying attention to details like that, I barged ahead and bought them. The design was perfect and it was an impulse.While I was in Vegas, the package arrived. Now, I was stumped.

So I have been sitting here staring at them for hours trying to figure out what to do to turn them into a focal for my jewelry. Saw them in half? That would seem obvious, but the artists painstakingly etched a border all the way around and if I cut it the border would look stupid. Cut around the wave? Another brilliant idea, and one I might use with the one with the wave at the bottom, but since it is August 30th and the challenge is over as of August 31st, that idea is dead in the water (pun intended :-).

But then I thought...hey...wait a minute! Why not make this into a bracelet? So I gently rounded the bookmark until it lay comfortably on my wrist. And....then it sat on my workbench for a few more days. Now what?!I don't know how it is with you, but when I am stumped on a design I need to walk away. Move on to something else. Ultimately, I kept making sketches and tossing around ideas in my head all week long. While I know immediately what beads I wanted to use, I wasn't sure at all how to get them attached, much less looking like they belonged there.

And then I spotted my Stretch Magic.

I don't make a lot of bracelets. And I really don't use stretchy material (I kind of liken that stringing material to the stretchy pants I wear when I am feeling all tired and sloppy...it is too easy and not very attractive). I find that I have a hard time with the correct length on bracelets, especially with personal preference...some people like it loose, or tight or jangly or flat! I know that another reason I dislike bracelet making (I am not averse to wearing them) is because there is a math problem in there and maybe that is what confuses me (did I ever tell you that I was an English teacher...precisely so I didn't have to do math!). You know, that the diameter of the beads has to be taken into account because that will impact how a bracelet sits...if you use really big beads, then you need to make the bracelet longer to accommodate. Or something like that. I even have one of those cones that allows you to measure the exact circumference. God, I wish I had paid better attention in algebra in high school. (Or is it geometry?)

"High Tide" is my submission and features this (sort of) found object bookmark turned into a stunning cuff bracelet. And the rolling waves and the spray of the sea is translated with white branch coral, copper spacers and the most unique bead...antique banded agate (so the tag says). It is really rough and light, like a lava bead, and has these really intriguing crackled colors in gray, blue and white.

It was impossible to photograph, but I think it works. And I got it done and entered it a the very last minute (it is 11:57 pm as I write this right now!).

Have you ever procrastinated on a project? If so, how long? Do tell! (I will be eternally grateful that I am not alone!)

Check It Out::Copper Art Designs

Enjoy the day!

28 August 2009

I wish....I would win this awesome giveaway!

Jeanette Blix of Fundametals.net is having the mother of all giveaways!

She will be awarding 6 lucky winners with one of 6 awesome prizes:

  1. Jumbo Butane Torch, Tronex Flush Cutters or Swanstrom Round Nose Pliers

  2. A funky custom designed metal design stamp

  3. A pair of handcrafted earrings I created in sterling silver and Swarovksi crytals that Jeanette made that graced the cover of Step By Step Wire last winter

  4. A custom business card design from Amy Jazwinski

  5. Sweet Bead Studio's Cindy Wimmer created a lovely "wish" pendant necklace

  6. Beautifully crafted polymer clay beads created by Christine Damm of Stories They Tell

And there are three ways to win!

Now be quick like a bunny and hop on over to http://jeanetteblix.com/ to register your comment and get yourself entered for this amazing giveaway!

Check It Out::Fundametals

Enjoy the day!

26 August 2009

Dare to...Believe in Yourself

"Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns.... Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees." ~E.F. Schumacher

How is it possible that I write my last post like two weeks ago...and go away to play (I mean...work) in Las Vegas for a week...and come home after 6 verrrrrry loooonnnngg days...and suffer from the mother of all head colds (I am finally in the feeling-better-vertical-than-horizontal stage)...and I still managed to add another 3 or 4 followers to my blog?!? Welcome! And thank you oh so much!

I will have to write more about my experiences in Vegas, particularly at the Cirque du Soleil (loved it! totally inspired!), but today there are some things even more special and exciting to write about.

In keeping with my desire to work through Meiji Stewart's ABC writings, today we are on the letter B...as in Bead Trends...and believe in yourself!

You all know my goal of being published, right? And how in June I managed to secure my monthly publishing dreams with sending off my December pieces? And how I am now working on broadening my horizons to other publications for 2010? It is always a party when I see that little white box sitting on my doorstep. It means that the latest issue of Bead Trends has arrived (and my baubles have returned...I have missed them so!). But the box I found on Tuesday was really the best...I am just swelled up with pride at what was inside and I just cannot wait to share it with you.

Introducing the newest member of the Creative Collaborating Community...my daughter, the Tiny Dancer herself...Olivia Hintz, designer of the LuLuBelle Collection! So how did this all come to be?

Back in February, she padded into my studio and announced that she wanted to learn how to make earrings. Would I teach her how to bend the wires? She practiced for hours bending wires and using the tools like a round nose pliers and a side cutter. Then she declared herself ready for the beads. Now she always had a way with patterns and colors, but this was different. She told me she wanted to make me a pair of earrings and would I pick out the beads? So, naturally I picked colors and beads that I would want to wear. When I turned around, she had created her pattern and asked for more. Then she painstakingly formed the loop and cut the wire and added them to the ear wires. And...voila! "Moon & Stars" was born! She says that the pearls are the moon in the sky and the crystals are like the stars around the moon. I just love that she came up with such a fitting name!

I was so very impressed. I asked her if she wanted to sell them. So we used this as a wonderful math problem...how many beads, caps, headpins...how much each piece cost...what the extended total would be...how to price for retail. Then I told her that she needed to add a little for her time and talent...and she looked at me quizzically and said, "I have talent?!" Why... yes! Yes, you do! And then I told her that my friend, the Candy Man, would take a percentage for selling them and that she would have to pay her supplier...her mother...she balked at that! But when she saw what she would get to keep her eyes were as big as saucers and she was totally on board! She asked me daily if they sold, and while there were many nibbles, no bites. But then I casually mentioned how very proud I was of Olivia and her budding earring business, LuLuBelle Collection (a fully owned subsidiary of Tesori Trovati Jewelry, I might add!), Tatia Meyer asked to see the earrings. I never once thought that they would want to publish them, but in the email with the confirmation of my own necklace "Branching Out" was the sweetest note that they were looking forward to featuring Olivia's design as well!

Now it is here, and it is the most awesome show and tell for the first day of third grade to show your teacher and classmates that you are published, don't you think?

From this experience Olivia has gained some wonderful self-awareness and confidence. She believes that she is a designer, and even turned to me to ask, "When will I get my web page, mommy?" (Soon, honey. Very soon!) She sells her earrings at a local art gallery alongside mine and at a photographer's studio. And now she has a $20 gift certificate to buy more supplies, courtesy of our friends at Bead Trends. (And the $20 I paid her as well...hey! Weren't these supposed to be a gift for mommy back in February?!? She is already shrewd in the ways of business!)

When I returned from my travels there were many packages waiting for me...from Gaea and Susie and Copper Art Designs...and Christine Damm. I saved the one from Christine for last, because I just knew what was in it!

Oh, and here is a picture of my little bauble (for B you know!)..."Branching Out"...shameless self-promotion alert!

Remember that little creative collaboration I wrote about awhile ago? The one with the bracelets? Well, that bevy of bracelets finally made its way back to the originators after many wonderful stops on the journey.
First, there was Heather Powers who added her own branch lentil bead and some glass discs.
Second, there was Lorelei Eurto who attached a brass locket and purple sugilite.
Next, there were my own additions of the custom word charm and vintage transit tokens.

Fourth, there was Erin Seigel with a tremendous ceramic leaf and a bird charm...and a key!

And last but certainly not least, there was Christine Damm with a custom made "Erin's Blend" mokume clay creation (including a special treat when I opened the locket!).
I still don't know why I was given this gift. And I am not talking about the most awesome piece of jewelry that I own! There is no telling the good that can come from a creative collaboration and when Lorelei and Heather contacted me, I didn't hesitate to say yes....Okay, so I did hesitate. I actually wondered why on earth they chose me? But I am oh-so-glad that they did!
Each bracelet started its journey as just the seed of an idea. We might have had a thought of where it would end up, but I think that we would all agree that it became so much grander than we could have imagined. And that is the best thing about a collaborative exchange...you get the best of everyone! I actually wept when I opened the box (now, that could have been the Nyquil talking!) because what tumbled out was so dazzling!

Special thanks to Christine for allowing me to use her fabulous photo of my bracelet!

How did Heather know that I love her rich green color palette in her branch lentils?

And the way that special leaf from Erin seems to be growing right out of Heather's bead? And a key? I mean, really, how could she know that (teehee!)?

And that deep purple stone and those warm copper pearls complement the glass disks from Heather and the locket that Lorelei added?

And making a custom color blend just for me?? Well, Christine certainly was the best at being the caboose!

What I learned is that when you open yourself up to the possibilities wonderful things are bound to happen. I had to trust my instincts for adding to these bracelets and get past that feeling that I was out of my league. I wanted to add my own pizzazz to the process and by contemplating what was important to me - words - I hit upon the most obvious choice and one that would allow me to flex my creativity while keeping the pieces unique to each of my new bracelet sisters.

It takes courage to believe in yourself. But when you do and allow yourself to rise to the occasion, there are marvelous things to learn about yourself and working with others that are to be cherished.

Now, next to my wedding ring, this piece of jewelry is one that will be the most treasured because I felt such honor in being invited to play along and so humbled by the thought and care that went into it.

And it has made me eager to seek out the next step in my creative - and collaborative - evolution.

If you could participate in a creative collaboration, who would it be with and in what medium? Do tell! I am thinking through an idea for a future collaboration and I would love to have your input!

Check It Out::Lorelei is hosting another creative collaboration, this time with a necklace round robin! And as much as I would love to play with her again, I think that it is time to pass the torch and have others jump on board. Sign up today for your chance to play!
Enjoy the day!

14 August 2009

J'Adore...le Cirque!

"I adore simple pleasures.
They are the last refuge of the complex."
~Oscar Wilde

Thanks to Gaea for giving me an award. I just purchased the most lovely Mr. Skull necklace that she is surprising me with for a custom color combo as my birthday present to me. And some of her wonderful focal beads. I love the thought of all things French and this is c'est magnifique!

The rules of the award:

Mention the blogger that awarded this to you. (Check!)

Name 5 things you love. (Check!)

Choose 10 blogs to *receive this award. (*Since this is making its way around the blogosphere I will just change it slightly and say this is a list of blogs not to be missed!)

5 things I love...
  1. My husband.
  2. My children.
  3. A good cup of coffee from Emy Js.
  4. Anything covered in chocolate.
  5. A bouquet of fresh from the farm mixed flowers.

10 Blogs that are not to be missed...(I read them every time they post something new...from the fantastic to the talented to the funny to the inspirational...check them out next week!)

  1. A Fanciful Twist
  2. Andrew Thornton
  3. Cake Wrecks
  4. Charlie Pratt
  5. Etsy Stalker
  6. Jennsylvania
  7. Ornamental
  8. The Jungle of Life
  9. Three Beautiful Things
  10. Zen Habits

See...it's not all about jewelry for me! Sometimes it is about life and love and laughter. Oh, that and finding a fabulous item on Etsy! This little reading list should keep you occupied while I am gone next week.

Oh...I forgot to tell you where I am going? I will be gone for the next week on a trade show to Las Vegas for my day job. I just didn't want anyone reading out there to be concerned about my lack of posting (although I do have a firm "Blogging Without Obligation" policy, I do try to post at least once per week!). I will likely not have access to my blog or email at that time. I have never been to Las Vegas and even though this will be a business trip, I will certainly have fun. We always do. I am very excited to see everything and hope to take pictures (Russ Troll is coming along for the ride so he will have to tell you all about it when he gets back!).

We are seeing one show while we are there. Cirque du Soleil's Ka. If you have never seen the Cirque du Soleil then by all means you must. See any of the shows out there. You won't be disappointed. Is it expensive? Yes, but it is the best money I have ever spent on any show and stays with me long after I have left. I have been going to Cirque shows since the early 90s when I first saw one in a bright red and white striped tent set up on the Navy Pier in Chicago. I expected a circus under the big top...if that is what you think, you will be blown away. And now I never miss an opportunity, even seeing a show more than once. The music, the costumes, the acrobatics...all are quite amazing. I am sure that I will be crazy inspired to create something from the experience!

My daughter, the Tiny Dancer, tried out for a spot in the special performance group presentation for her dance studio for next May. The shows each year are original creations from the mind and imagination of our talented dance instructor Miss Tori. This year the show is based on the Cirque du Soleil with the costuming and stage makeup and music. It will be fantastic. Tiny Dancer landed a role in a quartet of dancers who will do a spotlight performance. I hope to bring back some inspiration for her to build the excitement for the performance group.

While I do like to have the opportunity to travel and to discover new places, I will miss my family. I am mostly a home-body with the heart of an adventurer! And I will miss the opportunity to work in my studio as well (can you say....buried under bead projects?). I don't mind the air travel, but I dislike the long lines and the waiting. I rather enjoy staying in a hotel, but I miss my own bed. I find it exciting to experience the best a place has to offer, but I feel so buried when I come back to an overwhelming amount of things missed. And did I mention I will miss my family? That is the worst thing about traveling alone...

When you travel, what is the thing that you like the most?
What is the thing that you like the least? Do tell!

Check It Out::Cirque du Soleil KA

And I wanted to post a YouTube but I couldn't get it to work. To see the promo for KA follow this link...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvDW4DRj7gc

Enjoy the day!

11 August 2009

Dare To...Ask For What You Want

"If you're not moving closer to what you really want, you probably aren't doing enough asking." ~ Mark Victor Hansen

Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door will open. The world responds to those who ask...so why is it so hard to ask for what we really want?

Tonight we went out to dinner at our very favorite restaurant, Christian's Bistro, to celebrate my 41st birthday (yes, today I am firmly planted in my 40s). And despite my daughter's pleas, I refused to be conned into ordering the homemade mac and cheese on her behalf. She is eight years old, she has a voice, she knows what she wants and how she wants it. When it was her turn, I made her do the asking herself.

I have always taught my children that they don't get anything in this life unless they ask for it.

Good life lesson.

"The truth is, when you take control of your life by asking for what you want and need, you can accomplish anything your heart desires." ~ Mark Victor Hansen

Have you ever seen Meiji Stewart's work? Recently, I saw a poster of one of her ABC writings at the pediatrician. As a former English teacher myself, I have a fondness for poetry and clever turns of phrase. And as a mother, I have always appreciated the simple wisdom in the ABC list.

I came across the "Dare to..." poster and it struck a chord with me. So I decided that this would be a fitting way to pattern some blog posts working my way through Meiji Stewart's "Dare to..." ABC list.

A = Ask for what you want

So, what is it that I really want? And am I willing to ask for it?

I already have all that I need...a loving husband, great kids, a cozy home, a good paying job and a passion that is steadily growing in importance... and it is silly to think that material things would bring me happiness. But since today is my birthday, I figure it is okay to wish upon a candle, or 41, before I blow them out and ask for what I want:

This sweet little necklace (and really all the pendants) of Gaea on Etsy. In fact, I just convo'd Gaea today and she is surprising me with a more earthy version of this necklace. I love surprises! I already asked for Gaea to make it for me as a birthday present to myself!

A pair of diamond stud earrings. And if I am dreaming? I might as well dream big. I found these on Etsy for the bargain price of $3900. Did I ever tell you the story of the cubic zirconia Mickey's? I had a pair of cubic zirconia earrings in the shape of Mickey Mouse. After several years and unlimited mileage in them one of the stones popped out and went missing. We were in the airport in Orlando at the Disney store and I was seeking a replacement. My husband looked over my shoulder and said, "$12?! That is a lot of money for a pair of earrings!" Then I explained that I would really prefer a diamond stud pair. Of course, he then encouraged me to go ahead and spend the $12. Since I know that I will likely never get these, it doesn't hurt to look! But I am also happy enough with the bling-y cubic zirconias and I would rather put my money elsewhere. Like new tools for my studio...

The 2010 Bead Cruise with Heather Powers and all my new beady friends. Creating beautiful jewelry while cruising the Carribbean? What could be better?

Traveling to a weeklong artist retreat like Art and Soul, Art Unraveled, or Valley Ridge Art Studio... or learning from Susan Lenart Kazmer, Deryn Mentock or Nina Bagley (see her recent artwork from her class that I missed at the Valley Ridge Art Studio...in Wisconsin...practically my backyard!!). This is not just an idle dream... it will come true when I can sell enough or save enough to afford the trip.

(copyright Nina Bagley)

Or even better, traveling to France to paint with my best friend Rainy.

Chocolates. Lots and lots of chocolates. (Thanks to my friend Colette for some yummy ones today!) Mmmmm....Moonstruck truffles are the best! (And it is a good thing for me that I am friends with the "Candy Man" who is my local Moonstruck pusher!)

A trip to Door County to soak up the quaint towns, the great shopping, the awesome foods and the most beautiful sunsets with my husband and kids. But since I only have 2 1/2 vacation days left until the end of 2009...maybe we can make it happen next year.

And a job that allows me to parlay my passion for creating artful memories with my talent in writing... allowing me to celebrate creativity and inspiration while telling the unique stories of my clients through one-of-a-kind wearable works of art.... working to foster growth and development for artists of all ages and backgrounds and being secure in the knowledge that if Julia Child can discover her passion for cooking at 37, then I can certainly reinvent my life at 41...

That's not asking a lot now........................is it?

{Oops! I forgot to ask the question...!}

Go ahead...dare to...ask for what you want! Do tell! Because by stating it you are starting to align the Universe to help make it happen...

Check It Out::The ABC Writings

Enjoy the day!

08 August 2009

Sweet Bead is a Sweet Pea Winner!

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
~Kahlil Gibran

Congratulations to Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio!

Cindy not only posted a wonderful comment about her November birthstone (yummy topaz) but she Twittered about my giveaway and that extra entry won her the grand prize of the "Sweet Pea" necklace and a copy of the August issue of Bead Trends.

I will be in touch to get your address for shipping!

And in the meantime, I encourage you to check out the Sweet Bead Studio. Cindy makes some of the most incredible jewelry and has a sweet blog to boot! Her wireworking is fantastic and I love the organic feel of her pieces. You can see more of her jewelry below and at her Etsy site here.

Check It Out::Sweet Bead Studio

Enjoy the day!

02 August 2009

To Give Richness

"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when teh flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring."
~Oscar Wilde

And the winnner of the July Giveaway is.....

#10 Peacock Fairy!

Congratulations Peacock Fairy! I will be in contact with you to arrange sending you a copy of Your Eco-Friendly Yard. And for your promised earthy piece of jewelry, I will make you earrings or a wire-wrapped ring...your choice. I will contact you for your preference.

But I don't want anyone to feel left out...My birthday is in August, and Peridot is my birthstone. Peridot has been prized for centuries as the "Emerald of the Evening" since it doesn't change colors even in artificial light. It is one of the few gemstones that actually comes in only one color. It can range in hue from yellow to olive to green and even a brownish khaki color. The depth of the green color is due to the presence of iron in the stone. Peridot in a very plentiful deposit was found in Pakistan in the Kashmir region high atop a mountain. These Kashmir Peridots can only be harvested during the summer months and are prized for their large sizes and gemstone cutters have succeeded in cutting glamourously large faceted stones.

The word "peridot" is derived from the Greek word 'peridona', which means 'to give richness'. I like that meaning.

I was never fond of my birthstone when I was a kid. But as an adult it has grown on me. I like the earthy quality of the stone and the bright pop of color that it gives to designs. It is beautiful when combined with blues like aquamarine or turquoise and is a perfect foil to bright purples, oranges and even reds. I like peridot equally with copper, bronze, silver and gold toned metals. I find it to be very versatile.

The Bead Trends August issue is out. I have had so much success that is attributed to Bead Trends. I think that it is a beautifully photographed publication and all the people there are top-notch. To "give richness" to someone, I will be awarding a lucky random winner with a copy of the August issue of Bead Trends and the Sweet Pea necklace that I made that is featured in the issue! Sweet Pea is made with bright green potato pearls, peridot and accented with copper.

To enter, leave a comment answering the following question: what is your birthstone and what do you like best about it? or If you could have any birthstone which would be your favorite and why?

To get a second entry, blog, Facebook or Twitter about it (and let me know so I can check it out).
To get a third entry, refer a friend and make sure that they mention your name in their comment!

I will pick a winner on Friday, August 7th!

Check It Out:: Joy In The Journey

Enjoy the day!


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