29 June 2012

Sampling the Fruits of Originality

What constitutes an original design?

This is a topic that comes up again and again in so many different circles. And one that I am thinking about again as I prepare to follow through on a threat that is more than 2 years in the making: to pitch my own book ideas. So this post may be a bit rambling, but these are the actual thoughts that have been tumbling out of me. Join me in the mind jumble, won't you? If you don't want to sit through my meanderings, feel free to jump to the end where I issue a bit of an informal challenge...


In preparing for the blog hop that I just did with the Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry book, I knew that I wanted to find a way to take the concepts in the book and make them my own. Sure, I could have just as easily taken the instructions and made an exact replica of the piece I saw, but that wouldn't be a challenge to me and it just wouldn't feel right.

I am quite aware that for some, especially those just starting out, that it is very hard to find that original spark. It is just easier to copy a design from a publication or a book. I don't discount that this is crucial if you are learning a new skill. Same is true of a class situation. You do what the teacher instructs and authors are by nature teachers of technique. But it is what you do with that knowledge once you move past the learning phase that makes a difference and really moves you forward to tasting those fruits of originality.

I really don't believe that there is anything new under the sun, and all great ideas are just recycling of a previous one or piggy backing on top of another. I have inspiring designs in my Pinterest boards that are drawn on ancient patterns and classic techniques. I don't do anything myself that is unique to me. I build on all the knowledge that I have gleaned from everywhere else. I know that when I started designing my own pieces I would often try to replicate something that I saw on TV, in a movie, in a catalog. It was more the fun to see if I could engineer it from the picture rather than following step by step instructions (I am horrid at doing that! I make the worst student in class!). In fact, I would rather dig in and mess it up and have to fight my way out of that paperbag just to teach myself something about the process rather than trying to faithfully recreate an exact copy.

I admitted in that post that I am a book junkie. There is not a book that I have met - particularly ones related to crafting, jewelry or other artistic pursuits - that I didn't like. I always find something that turns the light bulb on, something that moves me to act. There are so many great ideas out there that it is hard to reign them in, and over time it is hard to remember where that spark came from to even give credit.

I mentioned to some people who commented on that post that one way that I cope with this idea overload is to put little stickie notes on the pages I love. I also am fond of scribbling in the margins and making notes on alternate materials or color palettes that I would use. When I get a new book and I am devouring it from cover to cover, I like to have some scratch paper or better yet those really nice sized stickie notes handy. I sketch out design elements that I like from the piece and leave it in the page as a rough idea of what my interpretation would be. That way when I am seeking some inspiration in the future, I can just pull any book or magazine from my resources library and find an instant morsel that can whet my appetite and get me going for a full course creative session!

One of the kind commenters on my post sent me an email and asked me this question:

I still am not sure how the copyright works, I would never sell anything that was an exact replica of a design..but how far off the design can one go to be fair to the jewelry artist and be honest to oneself? And can one pin one of [the]designs on Pinterest which gives a link back to [the] book?

I have been thinking a lot about this over the past few days. I do a lot of design work for various companies, blog partner programs, design teams, as well as publications. Anyone who designs for someone other than themselves should consider their feelings on this. Now, I am not saying that my opinion is the right one for everyone, and I am not interested in opening up a kettle of worms on this sticky issue, but I will share with you my response to this question as a jumping off point for your own thoughts.

Any book or publication is meant as a jumping off point. You can see where I took those concepts in my designs and ran with them. I tried to make them my own using their techniques. As such, I feel I would have no problem selling them. But I am quick to give credit where it is due, and that is important. I have seen people who make almost exact replicas of something in a magazine or book and then sell it or take a class or even just read a book and then set up their own classes teaching that material as if it was their own. That is just plain wrong. It is an insult to the original authors as well as to the person who is doing it who doesn't trust their own creative nature. That is why I advocate that you need to look at these things as building blocks to your own style. It is perfectly fine to copy a design for your personal use, especially when you are learning something new, but to then turn around and sell it as your own original idea is not right.

Recently I was privy to a thread in a Facebook group where someone took a design that was pioneered by someone else in the beading community and which was taught to this person in a class...she then recreated the design and submitted it to a magazine. The magazine recently published that design with great kudos to this knockoff designer. The problem is that the publication did not realize their error and the person who took the class and then passed off this design as 'original' to the publication acted like it was no big deal. It takes a lot of time and effort to make something new and fresh and choose the right materials, then write all the instructions.

I would say that making sure that pins have the original links is very important. I try not to repin things that don't go back to the original. I don't mind my own things being repinned as it is a way to connect, and I try to pin people who use my own Simple Truths components to help promote them as well. I think that it is about making connections and building community and I love Pinterest for that reason.

I gave this person kudos for thinking about this topic at all, and I hope that I didn't scare her away with my answer. But I think that it is something to consider if you plan to do more than just make pretty things for yourself.
There have been times when I have been approached by someone about a design they see on my website, in a magazine ad, or my Etsy site and they ask me to provide them with the instructions and a list of materials so that they can make their own just like it. Or the woman who contacted me locally from seeing a necklace at the Gallery Q who insisted that I tell her where I sourced my materials from because she thought the simple design was so clever she wanted to make it herself. Or when I have been told that they saw the exact necklace I created at Kohl's or Target and that they can get it for much cheaper (!). Ummm... no. No, you can't get that from a department store, and no I will not provide that long list of materials and the step by step instructions unless that is something that I was paid for in a publication. It has taken me many years and a lot of dollars invested to source the materials that I use, and while many are obviously available to everyone, not all are. I am fairly open to sharing information and encouraging others to pursue their creative passions, but the intent behind such a request, and the fact that it is demanded matter-of-factly, as if I owe it to them, just astounds me.

I have been working on some design team projects that can get quite involved and I was thinking about this last night. The end result of a piece I made will come off as fairly simple, but I made all the mistakes along the way that you would do if you were coming up with something new to you. So when I write the instructions I will be sharing hours worth of working through a design so that you don't have to make the same mistakes I made. I learned from them and I am passing that knowledge on to the end user. And that is worth something. I am sure that Erin Siegel and Lorelei Eurto and their fellow contributors will tell you that there was a fair amount of trial and error that went into making up each piece in their book.... coming up with innovative ways to use tried and true techniques... sourcing just the right materials and color palettes... recreating it to be sure that the dimensions could be listed just right... and then perfecting the designs with the step by step instructions that anyone would be able to follow. 

With the rise in social networks like blogs that have so many do-it-yourselves and knock off projects and places like Pinterest that are a virtual playground for all that is visually stunning, it sometimes feels like we have let go of the notion that there are limits to what we can do with what we see and are inspired by. It is a double-edged sword. I want people to like my projects enough to pin them but do I want them to knock them off? I guess that is a risk I am willing to take in this day and age. So my question to you is this... where do you find inspiration that speaks to your soul and how do you translate that into an imaginative and inventive design that is original?

Inspiration can truly come from anywhere. That is my mantra and I am sticking to it. We all have the same inputs that we are seeing around us, from Pinterest and Facebook, books and publications, to Etsy and the internet. Truly, I love all of these places. I find myself on all of them every day, pinning and liking and generally soaking it all in. But it has me thinking...with everyone accessing the same things, can anything you make be truly untouched by another inspiration? Can you truly have an original design? 

We have all seen a trend overplayed. Think of the trend to make ladder stitch style wrap bracelets. Is there anything new under that sun? That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it. Just that you need to work even harder to make something like that your own. What about making that style but not putting it into a wrap bracelet. Hmmm.... That is a challenge but one that will allow you to innovate the design. 

And what about materials? I bought a lot of pricey gems at Bead & Button, but I also bought a lot of very inexpensive things. I am fond of mixing the mundane with the magnificent for intriguing results. I am not a bead snob whatsoever. If it has a hole, it is fair game. If it is the right color of metal, I don't care if it is precious or plated. I like what I like. I have seen some threads in posts that put down materials from one store because they don't feel that they are worthy. Truthfully, I have found good quality and bad quality from all retailers across the board whether they are an online giant of a wholesale only company, a big box craft store, a local bead store, or an Etsy seller. Often it is the cheapest strand in my collection that I have loved the most. I don't believe that you have to have the fanciest materials to make the most impressive things but you do have to have a vision for what you are doing and where you are taking it. That is where your unique personality and sense of style come into play. And I believe that we all have that and we need to trust in it. It is easy to be inspired by someone else's design sense, but it takes someone truly confident in their own creative self to turn that design inspiration into something that is truly their own. 

I want to be able to continue providing my own designs are jumping off points for others and inspiring people to be creative in their own unique way and I hope that in some small way they have inspired you. I need to write those books that I have been storing up inside my heart to encourage others to find their favorite piece of the puzzle and build on it to become their own work of wearable art or just to follow your heart wherever its creative path may take you. And I believe that there is enough creativity to go around so that no one needs to feel like they have to knock off a design of someone else in order to be a success. 

After all, that is what tasting the fruits of originality is all about, isn't it?
What about you? What do you think about these concepts? 
Is there a truly unique idea out there that has not already been tried? And if you had it would you actually share it? ;-)
What do you think about all the websites and blogs and tutorials showing how to knock off a particular style? Is that just crafty cleverness or could that be considered stealing? 
Do the materials you choose make or break a piece or is it more about the inventiveness of the design?

Now for the {informal} challenge....  should you choose to accept it ;-)...

Find one of my designs in my Etsy shop (for sale or sold) in my website , on my personal design board on Pinterest, or on this blog... Now I want you to take break it down to the parts... consider the focal, the clasp, the bead shapes, the patterns, the textures, the colors....whatever it is that draws you to it. Pick the one part you like the best, not the whole piece, just one thing that I have done... now add that one thing to something you are creating.  Then be sure to share the results!

I suppose I am taking a risk in asking you to do this, but I believe in you and the fact that you can make something amazing from that one piece of the puzzle. I want to see what you do! Go ahead and try it. You might be surprised at how 'you' it will be! (And do be sure to share it with me so that I can share it with everyone else on this blog and on Pinterest as well!)


25 June 2012

Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry Winner

Congratulations to 

on being the random winner of the signed copy of the book Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry!

Send me your contact info to enjoytheday{at}tesoritrovati{dot}com and I will send you the book! 

If you didn't win, I hope you will consider getting a copy for your inspiration. I highly recommend this book. And it’s on sale right now – both the print and eBook!
Print edition on sale for $13.77 ebook on sale for $10.77 and available for immediate download.

22 June 2012

Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry... and a Giveaway!

My name is Erin and I am a book junkie.

My shelves are jam-packed with all manner of books. There are books about technique, those using unexpected materials and found objects, tomes showing 1000 different designs... I even buy books that are outside of my chosen medium... things like paper crafting and journaling, fabric and painting. I think that if you have a wide variety of resources, there is no way that you cannot be inspired. I can't get enough of good resources.

The one thing that I will say about all the books on my shelves is that they don't just sit there idle. When I am stuck and need a push, I pick up a technique book of something I am not comfortable with and explore the possibilities. Even if it is not something that I can produce due to lack of materials or knowledge, I let the idea be the spark to propel me forward.

But there are some books that are more frequently accessed more than others. These are books that are not only a feast for the eyes and provide a wealth of intriguing designs, but ones that challenge my notions of design and style and do so with great attention to detail and clear concise instructions.

The new book Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry by authors Erin Siegel and Lorelei Eurto is that sort of book.

I can tell that this will be an oft-referenced resource in my library. There are enough projects in here that delight my senses and tickle my fancy that I will keep coming back for more.

I love fonts and colors and the layout on this book is just beautiful. The designs are fresh and full of interesting textures and beads and components.

I can tell that I will be inspired by a book for a long time to come when I find that I put sticky notes all over the outside marking the pages I want to revisit. And the ones on the inside where I sketch a bit of a design that this jump starts. I did that on many pages.

I appreciate that the instructions are on the same page or facing page of the gorgeous pictures. These are designs that can be made with very precious art beads or just those things that you have lying around. The techniques have been around for a long time, but these feel fresh and inspired. I especially love books that have collaborations with other artists, and this one brings together some of the finest talent in the beading community today. Each contributor has a distinct style personality that truly shines, and I give a lot of credit to Erin and Lorelei for being willing to open up this opportunity to some rising stars.

For all the books on my shelf, I never make anything exactly from them. I pick up one piece from this design and marry it with another to morph it into something that feels more like me. I cannot even imagine trying to make an exact replica of anything I would see published, and part of being an artist is trusting your instincts to go above and beyond what you see.

So I challenged myself to take three of the pieces in the book and make my own interpretations of them.

First I started with the necklace Ocean Love by Lorelei Eurto. This is one of my favorite designs in the book because of the color, the texture, the asymmetry that Lorelei does so effortlessly. I was working with a design I had been stewing for awhile based on Marsha Neal's Silk Palette Challenge.

I had already created a beaded section with one of Marsha's pretty pendants and I wanted to do something soft with the cords in the back, I was just not sure what. When I spied the simple yet substantial braiding in Ocean Love, I knew that was the way to go. Since my beads were not quite as chunky, I opted for less strands, but the effect is still the same.

{Garden Love}

Usually with cords like this I would use wire to secure them, so I thought that the idea to use waxed linen in a coordinating color using a hitch stitch was inspired. And the wax really helps secure it. I just so happened to have bought a pretty lavender thread and used that technique to dress up the hook clasp with the same stitch as well.

Next, I was intrigued by the Copper Antiquity earrings by Erin Siegel.

But making a pair of earrings like those would just be too easy, so I decided to challenge myself to come up with a different way to use that technique: make a necklace instead. And use a different shape.

I chose a little leaf shape from Vintaj and some sweet Czech glass flower beads. I had to punch a few more holes in the links and then connected them all with some pretty chain.

I modified the instructions a bit and the number of beads to suit the size and shape of my links.

My necklace is meant to have the links meandering like stepping stones around the side. Or in the front. Wherever you feel like.

Finally, I was inspired by the sweet and delicate nature of Sakura by Erin Siegel.

I truly have never worked with waxed linen thread before, and I made sure that I picked some up at the Bead & Button show to play with in anticipation of this event. I bought a spool of it from Royalwood that was a nut brown color and was discounted because it had too much wax. It was a bit sticky but it is a good practice spool. I decided to take my color palette in a totally different direction and started with my inspiration pendant: one of my Simple Truths Woodsy Owls.

I have to admit that I had to read through the instructions a few times in order to understand it all, but once I got started I found that it was quite simple. Anyone can braid, right?

My palette included impression jasper, brass leaves instead of the stone dangles and an antique button for a closure.

I actually beaded this last night while watching my daughter's softball game! I did not think to bring tools other than my hands and a clipboard.

{Who Me?}
Unfortunately, I realized as I completed it that I was wonky in that back with the spacing between beads so the button is off. That is what you get when you don't bring scissors, a ruler nor pliers to bead at the ballpark! But I still like the look, I have had so many compliments on it already, and I can see so many possibilities for this simple technique.

I hope you enjoyed my little stop on the Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry book tour. Thank you to Miss Lorelei and Miss Erin and Interweave for inviting me to the party.

I highly recommend this book. And it’s on sale right now – both the print and eBook! Print edition on sale for $13.77 ebook on sale for $10.77 and available for immediate download.
Please head over to Beading Daily to get to the other stops on the book tour and to find out more about the cool Polyvore design challenge that sounds really fun!

But what is a party without a gift? I have a signed copy of the new book Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry and I would like to gift it to one lucky commenter. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post, plus be sure that your email is turned on in your profile or add it to your comment (sorry... if you do not provide a way to contact you your entry will be invalid. How do you know if you are entered? I will send you an email reply.). I will select a random winner from all eligible comments on Monday, June 25th.

20 June 2012

Watch out 21st Century...Here, I Come!

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." ~ Alvin Toffler

Oops! Sorry about neglecting the blog for the past few days. We are in the throes of baseball and softball around here and it is dashing from one game to the next, sometimes back to back, like last night. Tiny Dancer won 4-0 but Rocket's team made too many errors to make up the 6-5 deficit in a game that was essentially a forfeit as the other team only had 6 players and added a bunch of 11 year olds to the 14/15 yo roster. I spend every single day at a ballpark in June and July, and I am really not exaggerating. Tonight is the lone exception, and Tiny Dancer and I are going to see Snow White and the Huntsman (can't wait!). We had a tournament last weekend where my son Rocket's team took first place and got home way late on Sunday and then we have had three games already this week and it is only Wednesday! Then the allergies hit last night. I have been more fuzzy headed than normal, sneezing uncontrollably, and this is usually what hits me mid July. Ugh. It has been all I can do to stay awake.

But today is the first day of summer, so there is much to be celebrated! What are you doing on this longest day of the year?

I have been nose to the grindstone for some projects... design work for a new design team that I am beyond proud to be a part of... a blog hop celebration for the new Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry book (there will be a giveaway this weekend! Stay tuned!)... some new designs for the Nunn Design Innovation Team due shortly... plus some special projects for me that have been more than a year in the making. And while I can be somewhat mobile.... not everything works on the road or at a dusty ballpark so the first thing to get neglected is this space. And that makes me sad, because I have missed you all!

On Friday I propelled myself swiftly into the 21st century with the purchase of my very first smartphone. The girl that was helping us took one look at my sad little Motorola flip phone and quietly proclaimed "Wow!" It was clear that I was making a big leap forward. We had the same plan with our cell phone carrier since about 2007 and have only had one cell carrier in the 15 years we have had phones that aren't attached to an outlet in our house. They don't sell those particular flip phones anymore and they don't have the plan that we were grandfathered under. We felt that with the impending move of Rocket to high school next year and the fact that he is being let loose in the world a bit more, that we needed a way to get in touch with him via text or mobile, so he got his first phone as well. I am thinking that this is great leverage, hmmm? But you should have seen the pouting. There was no one sadder on Friday than Tiny Dancer who realized that she wasn't getting one at all. But a 6th grader has little need for one, and we assured her that her day would come. And besides, she is having so much fun sharing in my new toy that she hardly notices.

I got the Samsung Galaxy SII. Oh, boy! This thing is amazing! The screen resolution is incredible, there are so many apps that I can see myself using quite a bit, I can get music and movies and television (I haven't yet, but I can!), and there are loads of games and other productivity apps that are really mind-blowing. I feel a bit like a fish out of water, but I am dipping my toe in. There is a class for people like me in the coming weeks and I will be there to figure this whole thing out. I feel like I am babying it quite a bit, but I would be horrified if something happened to it. I got a rubbery jelly red protective case and I usurped the custom made leather sleeve that I had made for my hubby's work smartphone (that he hates and never uses) until I can buy the one the perfect one (like this one) from my friend Lori of Waterstone Studio.

{Isn't this Motley sweet? I am blown away by the closeup detail this 8MP camera can get! She is available in my Etsy store right here..}
I spent a lot of time in the car driving back and forth an hour+ each way to the ballpark for the tournament this past weekend which gave me ample time to play. I was on Facebook and sending emails. I took some pictures of some new Simple Truths on the phone (the camera is by far one of the best things!) and was able to upload 7 new listings to my Etsy shop all while sitting in the car (no, I wasn't driving!) just in time for the first ever Simple Truths Celebration blog hop on July 13th (still time to jump in!). There is a small but mighty group of awesome people ready to show off what they have made and I can't wait! I think I will have to make a few things myself.

I was trying to figure out how to get this post to show up in my blog for the past two days, but I can't seem to make it work....yet. I love the idea that I can be truly mobile. I like to write a lot and add pictures so I am not sure if it will work for me but I will keep trying to make it work!

But the real reason you are here today is to see the goodies that I have been setting aside for one lucky commenter on my Bead & Button exploits. I have put together a little coordinated goodie bag for one commenter that includes...

...soft peach colored wood slices with the most lovely shimmer and shape
...carved wood 'Buddha' beads with great texture and gold leafing
...faux sea glass strands in amber, emerald and mint
...one little 'Simple Truth' charm with the word 'believe' in a soft peachy pink
...a bottle cap bead from Glass Garden Beads
...an aquaterra jasper egg shaped bead with awesome teal color and earthy veining
...a partial strand of tiny faceted carnelian rondelles with an amazing AB finish on them and a full strand of tiny carnelian coins in a soft salmon color both from Beads Direct
...a full strand of tiny teal nugget pearls and a mixed strand of larger nugget pearls from TA Pearl
...an assortment of Humblebeads disks and a pretty little leaf shape in a rich teal green
...one of my very first enameled beads in emerald green from the Barbara Lewis Painting With Fire Workshop 
...a rectangle button from Lisa Peters Art in earthy browns and soothing greens
...two little smoky quartz faceted cubes from Beads Direct
...a blue bullseye lentil ceramic bead from Jangles
...a polymer clay lentil bead from Pam Wynn
...a word plaque ceramic pendant from Earthenwood Studio
...two exquisitely hand painted acrylic leaves from Heather French of Vintage Meadow Artworks

I really have no idea as to the value, and I am not going to try, but I hope that the winner will like the slightly coordinated collection I have curated here and is inspired to make some beautiful things to show us all. Enough ado...the winner of the Bead & Button show loot is............

Emma of A Polymer Penchant

who said this....

Wow, what a stunning haul! Someday I'll get there in person, then I bet I'd be so overwhelmed I'd probably only come home with 3 beads or something because I'd be afraid of spending myself out of house and home. I'm glad you shopped for me (thinking positive thoughts over here!)

Why, yes! Yes, I did go shopping for you! And no, you won't leave the Bead & Button show with just three beads, but yes, you will be overwhelmed when you go! Miss Emma, please email me your mailing information and I will send this out to you!

I hope that all the commenters who said they were saving up to make the pilgrimage next year are not just making idle chit-chat. I plan to take you up on that! ;-)

And I leave you with the words of wisdom that I received in my inbox today...

You all give me more than you will ever know.

15 June 2012

Simple Truths Celebration

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."  ~Maya Angelou

Just about 1 1/2 years ago I came up with the idea for my Simple Truths line of components. They sort of shot off into the stratosphere quickly. My goal was always to come up with a component that I wanted to use in my own jewelry, something with color and whimsy and fun, and the message had to be one of tapping into your power, and telling your story. Well, I am just delighted that others like them as well.

These humble little pendants, charms, clasps and components have shown up in the Beads 2011 Buyer's Guide and graced the cover of Stringing Magazine Summer 2011 as well as being featured in designs by so many talented people. And they started with the first one I made to honor a beautiful young lady whose life was cut short way too soon. Since then I have created custom pieces for all sorts of occasions, from celebrating a 10 year anniversary to welcoming an adopted child who was all grown up to encouraging aspiring writers to follow their passion and everything in between. I was a sponsor of the Bead Cruise in March with 60 one of a kind sea themed charms and I sent some of my Motley Owls to Lorelei Eurto for a mini blog hop. And recently I was honored to have been selected as the Art Bead Partner for April-May 2012 with Vintaj for their Storybook theme (there are only a few left and when they are gone, they are gone!).

Last spring I came up with an idea to keep me moving forward and to help me continue to come up with new designs and techniques related to the original Simple Truths. I called it the 'Simple Truths Sampler Club' and it debuted in June 2011. There is a limit of no more than 20 spots in the club each month and participants can sign up for 3-, 6-, 9-, or 12-month spots. I pledged to make a limited edition charm or pendant for the club members that would never be sold to anyone outside the club and never repeated. That is harder than it sounds! But I am pleased that there have been so many lovely and talented participants who seemed to have truly enjoyed their time in the club, many coming back and signing up for additional extensions to their original membership.

It has been my pleasure and honor to create each and every one and putting intentions of harmony and light into each one as I make them with my own two hands. But now I want to see them in action! While I have seen the Simple Truths pop up from time to time in the pages of a magazine, I know that there are plenty of people out there that are hoarding them! I know how you feel, since I am a world class hoarder of art beads myself. But I think that these messages are meant to be shared, and so I am proposing a Simple Truths Celebration to bring those pieces out of hiding and encourage you to create something special!

Whether you got your Simple Truths by buying them from my Etsy site, they were part of the Simple Truths Sampler Club limited editions, you got them published in a magazine or you were gifted one or won one in a giveaway, I want to see what you do with it! They do not need to be the ones that you see below, but any Simple Truths that you have lurking in the corners of your bead nooks will do! Bring them into the light!

If you would like to participate, please enter your information in the form below to join the blog hop that will happen on Friday, July 13th. I will be giving away 2 three-month subscriptions to the Simple Truths Sampler Club ($54 value each): one subscription to someone participating in the blog hop showing off what they have done with their Simple Truths, and one subscription to someone who comes to hop who has never before received a Simple Truth but makes a comment on my post for that day.

Here is some inspiration from the past 12 months of the Simple Truths Sampler Club.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your Simple Truths, or purchase one right here to join in the fun!

(And P.S.... there are still limited spots available in the Simple Truths Sampler Club... join us!)

14 June 2012

Bead & Button Show Recap or A {Bead} Fool and Her Money Are Soon Parted

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Emma!

The Mothership has left the state and headed back to the beady reaches of the Universe and try as I might to convince the bead freaks to take me with them they left me here in reality wallowing in beads and crying for the booths I missed and the peeps I neglected to photograph.

{Isn't this the sweetest welcome? My niece Evelyn is 7 and gives up her room each year so 'Ant Erin' can commune with the bead freaks. She is the sweetest little cutie patootie!}

First off, it is the most fun that I have all year. I get to spend time with Heather Powers (my best beady friend in the whole world) and her Aunt Rosanne (who has adopted me). I don't get enough time with just them, so we are plotting ways to make a getaway that doesn't involve standing at a booth or networking or buying. Just time to chill...

There was a great dinner I attended on Saturday with the President of Nunn Design, Becky Nunn and meeting some of the Nunn Innovation Design team like Rochelle Nation and Stephanie Gard Buss and Becky's friend Donna. We had a great time. I missed the dinner hosted by Lori Anderson but got there for the fun at the end. And Heather and I hosted a Bead Blogger's Breakfast on Sunday morning that was all sorts of networking bliss.

I carried my monster of a camera around with me most of the show. And who doesn't have any pictures to share? Me! But there are some great ones floating around out there (thanks, Diana, for the goofy eating pic!) so be sure to check out all the blog posts floating around. I never even got a picture of me with Heather or Rosanne this year, that should tell you how packed the days were!

But looky! I did manage to snap a pic with Diana Ptasxsydwekski of Suburban Girl Studios (oh crap, I can never spell it right ;-). She was always up for a laugh or two and always causing good beady fun wherever she went even though she felt icky most of the time, you wouldn't know it from her smile.

{Smile through the pain, Miss Diana!}

And I finally met Miss Erin Seigel, co-author of the great new book Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry (yes, you want a copy of this book, it is so pretty!). She is so very sweet, has the most lovely shade of red hair and the prettiest blue eyes. She was wearing my favorite necklace from the book and I couldn't take my eyes off it! I also got to meet Miss Lorelei, too and it was fun to connect with them and have my books signed (yes, I said books... watch for a giveaway coming soon of a signed copy just for you!).

{What the heck is going on with my hair? But doesn't Erin Seigel look pretty? That is my favorite design from the book, so it was exciting to see it in person!}
{Look how cute Heather Powers and Erin Seigel are!}

Of course there are too many beady friends to mention that I fear I will forget some, but I will try... Walking up to the booth was Tanya Goodwin who was wearing a pair of earrings she bought from me (mental note: make more of those!) that she said that many complimented her on... Sharon Misuraco shopped until we dropped (we get into all sorts of trouble)... Mallory Hoffman was having all sorts of fun... and then there were the bead artists that I love to connect with... Melissa Rediger of Sea of Glass...Kerri Fuhr and Stephanie Ann... Yvonne Irvin of My Elements... Melanie Brooks of Earthenwoods... Andrew Thornton and his sweet sister Cynthia from Green Girl Studios... Marianne Kasparian of MAKUStudios... Heather Wynn Millican of SwoonDimples (she is my hero) and her beautiful mom Pam... Trish Lincoln who just opened a new store called Rustic River Finds and she is my adoptive mom plus my Woodsy owls can be found there!... Vlad and Kremena Ivanov of Golem Studios... Marsha Hedrick of Amazing Porcelain... Jennifer Heynen of Jangles... I met Julie Nordine of Credit River Glass in the bathroom of all places!... Katie Wall of Fusion Beads.... and Sara Oehler and Jamie Hogsett of Soft Flex.... and of course Lisa Peters and her sweet mom Dona right across the aisle... oh, there are so many more and I am sorry if my memory is failing me! I enjoyed every moment I could squeeze out of it.

I know what you are thinking... how could Erin go to the Bead & Button show for almost an entire week and not have anything to show for it?

I have tonnage, I tell you, TONNAGE! I thought that I broke the bank last year but apparently I am into bigger and better things this year because I went a bit bonkers. But this is the only time that I actually get someplace where I can actually fondle... er... view the beads in person, so that is my excuse and I am sticking to it! I will henceforth let the camera do the talking since a picture is worth a 1000 words (and I am sure that my purchases topped $1000 this year! Yikes!). Click the pics to get a better look...

{Did you know that Jennifer Heynen of Jangles is not only an accomplished bead maker, but a quilter with a line of fabrics and coordinating buttons? And this year for the debut of her children's line she wrote a BOOK?! The cutest little critters grace the pages of this book about colors like Vermillion and Chartreuse and Magenta and I am gifting it to my co-worker's new baby Gianna Marie born 6/13/2012!}

{Left to right, top to bottom:
Melissa Rediger of Sea of Glass; Lisa Peters Art; Wynwoods Gallery
Golem Studios; Amazing Porcelain; Diane Hawkey
Jennifer Heynen of Jangles; Glass Garden Beads; Pam & Heather Wynn
Heather Powers of Humblebeads; Diana P of Suburban Girl Studios; Heather French of Vintage Meadow Artworks

{Great bead finds! Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
Faux sea glass; aquaterra jasper eggs and three resin beads with red onion skins, eggplant skins and garlic skins!; MOP mosaic beads, more glass, cool wood shapes and some sort of funky stone
sparkly crystals; more sparkly bits and bobs; pewter for patina-ing!
BIG hole pearls; teeny tiny pearls; nice white pearls
funky basket weave beads and some Ojime; nut beads, coral and turquoise inlaid beads (these last two are necklaces I will pull apart!); wood carved Buddha beads with the most amazing color, texture and gold leafing!
{Piece de resistance... from Beads Direct. Amazing gemstones that are even more sparkly in person! Garnet, moonstone, carnelian, quartz, hessionite garnet, more carnelian onion shapes, smoky quartz cubes, can't remember - more moonstone with a diamond finish?, these funky shaped chalcedony, the most beautiful diamond finish on these onion shaped labradorite for a top secret project and bottom drilled teardrops like I have never seen before!}
Of course, now that I am done, I see there are some things I neglected to show... like the beaded beads and the cool resin chunks and the hill tribes copper pieces I plan to try my hand at enameling... and the waxed linen for making something Bohemian-Inspired for next week's hop... and the goodies that I plan to GIVEAWAY to one lucky reader... 

Yes. There is a giveaway. I have taken a smattering of what I bought and some other things that I would like to gift to YOU! So if you didn't get a chance to go to Bead & Button (and really, you should try for next year!), all you need to do is leave a comment telling me what you would look for if you were to come to Bead & Button... or what you would give to be at the Bead & Button (your left arm, your first born)... or just say Hi! I will keep the giveaway open until Monday, June 18th and then I will surprise you with a picture of all the goods.... sort of a reverse surprise! And the longer that I keep it open the more I keep adding to it! Oh, it's going to be good! ;-)

13 June 2012

Color Me Silk

Marsha Neal is a color maven. She has a wicked great sense of what colors play well together. I love her ceramics and especially her silk cord bundles. I am growing quite a collection of them. Marsha had the great idea to open her silk palette creation to a little contest. I was lucky enough to be part of the first and it was a lot of fun to come up with a palette based on an inspiration photo she provided.

This time around, Miss Marsha is allowing her readers to just get creative with whatever inspires them. I didn't have a specific picture in mind, but it seems that I bought a lot of very blue toned beads at the Bead & Button show (I promise I will show you soon! There are sooooo  many pictures of pretty beads!), so I thought I would put together a little palette inspired by my recent purchases. But I ended up making two completely different palettes and I need you to help me decide what to enter into the Round 2 challenge.

Choice #1: Rolling In The Deep

“The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure.”   
~Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

For my first palette I chose some deep blues, some dark mysterious tones as well as some pops of lighter color with turquoise and lilac. I was picturing the rolling waves on the sea with this palette from the deep depths to the cool Caribbean to the frothy foam so I call this "Rolling In The Deep." I bought a lot of sparkly crystals and tiny teal seed pearls as well as a strand of the most amazing brilliant blue gemstones at the show. So the sea must be calling my name.

1. 201GunmetalMarshaNealStudio, 2. 207MermaidMarshaNealStudio, 3. 208MutedEmeraldMarshaNealStudio, 4. 41DDarkestNavyMarshaNealStudio, 5. 41NavyMarshaNealStudio, 6. 45PeacockMarshaNealStudio, 7. 212DenimBlueMarshaNealStudio, 8. 216DarkLilacMarshaNealStudio, 9. 218CremeMarshaNealStudio, 10. 46TurquoiseMarshaNealStudio, 11. 2mm Silks - Marsha Neal Studio, 12. White MNS SCPC Text Box 300 square

Choice #2: Garden Party I Do

Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage.  ~Finnish Proverb
My friend Kelly is planning her outdoor wedding on August 11 (which also happens to be my birthday, so I will never forget her anniversary!). I told her that I wanted to make the jewelry for her to wear to this garden party fete. She sent me a picture of her dress, a very lovely shade of melon. Simple, tasteful, with a touch of flirty fun. Just like Kelly!

As I shopped the Bead & Button I kept coming back to these soft colors in so many different shapes, sizes and materials. From pearls to wood, from gemstones to watercolor painted acrylic flowers, I think I found the muse for this special piece of jewelry. I am delighted that I will be part of this special day.

1. 82WatermelonMarshaNealStudio, 2. 6CopperMarshaNealStudio, 3. 61RustMarshaNealStudio, 4. 65LightTanMarshaNealStudio, 5. 101LightGrayMarshaNealStudio, 6. 211FernGreenMarshaNealStudio, 7. 221PeachCobblerMarshaNealStudio, 8. 60FawnBrownMarshaNealStudio, 9. 86ChampaigneMarshaNealStudio, 10. 69EspressoMarshaNealStudio, 11. 2mm Silks - Marsha Neal Studio, 12. White MNS SCPC Text Box 300 square

There is still time for you to join the fun! If you want to play along, head on over to Marsha's post and read the instructions for how to create your own color palette mosaic with the cool Big Huge Labs mosaic maker. Good luck!

Your turn:

Which color palette do you think I should use for this challenge: Rolling In The Deep or Garden Party I Do?  

07 June 2012

Art Bead Earring Swap!

I totally forgot about this post, so if this is a bit rushed, please excuse me as I am desperately trying to get out the door to the Bead & Button show today! To top it all off, my computer is acting funny and I can't get it to talk to my camera! Wait! I just got it to talk to each other as I have been trying for over an hour to get it to work. ARGH!

Thank you to miss Diana of Suburban Girl Studios for hosting this fun swap. We were paired with two partners and asked to send them each a pair of earrings that had to include art beads. I was so far behind in sending them out to my partners that I hope they received them in time!

I was paired with the lovely Miss Patti Vanderbloemen and the sweet Miss Mary Harding!

Patti sent me two pairs of earrings! She handmade the ear wires and included some really lovely art beads.

The first pair is a sterling silver set with silver PMC from Kristi Bowman with denim blue lapis and silver beads. I love that she made the ear wires herself! I am just not that talented so I truly appreciate that!

And the second bonus pair has bronze charms from Lesley Watt and some lampwork from Sue Kennedy that just makes my heart go pitter patter! These are two artists that I greatly admire as well!

Miss Mary knows how to make a pretty package. I wish that I had taken a picture before I tore into the box! Her earrings feature the pretties charms that she made with stunning blue and orange. I think I will wear these dangly earrings today! And there are cool mica washers behind them to frame them but no overpower them. She also sent me extra special gifts of her little heart charm (I have quite a collection of them!) and a sweet little toggle. Thank you Mary!

(I just found out that my earrings never made it to Miss Mary! Oh no! I hope they do soon. Crying over here...;-(

Here are the other participants:

Diana Ptaszynski  http://www.suburbangirlstudio.com  
Jenny Davies Reazor http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog
Melinda Orr  http://www.orrtec.blogspot.com
Cilla Watkins http://www.tellyourgirlfriends.com
Stephanie Haussler  http://www.pixybugdesigns.blogspot.com
Sally Russick http://www.thestudiosublime.com
Susan Kennedy http://www.suebeads.blogspot.com
You are here! Erin Prais-Hintz  http://www.treasures-found.blogspot.com/
Cheryl Brown  http://www.dragonflybeads.ca
Fay Wolfenden http://www.torchfairy.blogspot.com/

Off to the Bead & Button Show! More fun coming next week with the 1st Anniversary of the Simple Truths Sampler Club!

Enjoy the day.

05 June 2012

Close Encounters of the Bead Kind

Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.  ~Rod McKuen

A curious thing happens when I go to the Bead & Button show. I make instant friends. 

When I am just walking down the street or at any other social gathering in my life, I don't have this instantaneous connection with people. Not to say that I don't make friends wherever I go, it just never happens so immediately.

I don't know what took me so long to attend the Bead & Button show for the first time back in 2008. But I knew that once I went I would never be able to stay away. These are my peeps coming home to roost in the big ol' beady nest. I love the Bead & Button show!

{This was us back in 2009 - meeting as strangers and leaving as friends!}
And that is what happened when I first met Heather Powers. We started out as strangers with a curious connection through beads, and left as friends. She decided at the last minute to come to the show and asked if anyone had any space in their hotels. I told her that she could stay at my sister's house with me (and only later told my sister I would have another guest!). I thank my lucky stars - and my gracious sister - that *free* accommodations trumps all other offers. So I became her chauffeur that first day in 2009 when I picked her up at the airport. I remember wondering if we would be able to recognize each other. I am sure she was wondering what she got herself into...meeting a stranger at Mitchell International Airport. But her smile lit up when she saw me. I ferried her around Milwaukee (promptly getting lost but not getting flustered so as to see me panic!). I met some amazing people by being unintentionally connected to Miss Heather that year. And we became instant - and lasting - friends. She is one of my very best friends, in fact. (I will be with her at the Humblebeads booth #1212 - stop by and  meet us!)

I don't know about you, but not a lot of people where I live 'get' what I do. It is isolating. It can be lonely. My parents think that I play with beads in the basement, and while that is true, I believe that I am doing so much more. But that all changes when I get to the Bead & Button show. It is a bit like the Mothership has landed and all my bead freak sisters and brothers have disembarked and are stepping out into the light of a million twinkling facets (I was just watching Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind the other night. I think that scene with the bright light and the people stepping out of the spaceship was haunting my dreams!)

One of the most peculiar things for those who are new to a show like this is the first time they experience the Beader's Handshake.

Someone you don't know will brazenly walk right up to you. You think that smile on their face is for you, so you stick out your hand for a firm shake and get your business cards ready. But as you get closer, you realize that their gaze was directed about 12" south of your eyes and the twinkle in their eyes was for the jewels on your neck (or your ears, or your wrist!). They will fondle the baubles and ask questions about how it is made and where you found the cool components. Only then will they look up in your eyes and give you a smile as big as all outdoors. And believe me, you will laugh. You have made an instant friend of the beading kind. 
{This is one of my favorites from my solo exhibit in 2010...
I will be looking for more of these cool bottle cap flowers from Glass Garden Beads!}
 Of course you will want to wear your most outstanding creations to this show. If you are like my friend Diana you have been making cool baubles for weeks to wear. Me, I just don't have the sort of time, so I will be wearing the same old tired jewels that have become my favorites. Heck, I might whip up a thing or two while I am there, since all the goods will be available within an arm's reach. I always bring some tools and a little kit with some basics to help me get started.

{I created this necklace called "Inner Joy" for the Sept 2011 Bead Soup... I think I might wear this one!}

There are a lot of posts out there that tell you what you need to do to prepare for a show like this... wear comfy shoes and clothes, call your credit card company to let them know that you will be buying, bring address labels with your tax ID number on it, drink lots of water, find a rolling suitcase... but trust me, you will be overwhelmed the moment you step through the doors no matter how prepared you think you are. I am every year. (Just go toward the sparkly light!)

And budget... schmudget! I still have most of what I bought from LAST year to use up. But that won't stop me from buying more! (I think there may need to be an intervention in my future!)

So when I come up to you and fondle your necklace and then look up into your eyes, be sure to flash that smile to me and we will be instant friends. 

P.S. I will be closing my Etsy shop up tonight for the duration of the show. If you have your eye on anything, please feel free to use the code: MOTHERSHIP for 30% off good through today only (sorry, not valid on the Simple Truths Sampler Club - but good on all charms and jewelry)! I will be taking my stock of Simple Truths with me to the show and I don't know what will be coming back in stock! 


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