Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Find: Mouse Cushions

Today I wanted to share a nice "find" I made a few weeks ago, while browsing through a local department store: Mouse Cushions by a company called IMAK. Now, before you start thinking these are something you use to decorate your furry little mouse or hamster condo with, think again! LOL I actually found these on sale in the electronics section and they are made to work next to your computer mouse as a wrist support. But when I first saw them, I immediately thought how great they would be for my torching area!

Proper ergonomics is very important for anything where you are doing a lot of repetitive work over a period of time—because who wants to suffer while they're trying to enjoy a favorite hobby or job? My Creation Station is great for supporting my wrists and forearms while I create beads (sometimes for up to 5-6 hours straight), but the skimpy elbow pads weren't quite adequate for me, especially during these longer torching sessions. I'd been planning on making my own elbow rest pads out of leather and rice—but honestly, when would I ever really find the time?! So I bought a pair of these Mouse Cushions to try out and they work even better than I hoped they would!

I ended up turning them in the opposite direction of how they were intended, because I found that positioning them that way was the most comfortable for me. And I discovered that the material is not only super soft, but it's also flame retardant—which is definitely a plus when working around a 1,500 degree flame!

So whether you're a fellow lampworker—or work with another craft that requires you to use your wrists or elbows on a hard surface—you might want to give something like this a try. You'll be amazed at how such a small thing can make such a big difference at the end of the day! *Ü*

Monday, October 25, 2010

Staying Connected

I'm always on the look-out for great websites and forums where I can learn and interact with a variety of like-minded artisans. I think it's vitally important to stay connected and reach out to others in order to keep your business fresh and growing and I've joined several great sites this past week that I thought I'd share with you:

Total Art Soul

"This is a place for artistic souls. If you're a painter, sculptor, photographer, musician, writer, crafter or are creative in any way, then this is the place for you. You do not have to be a professional to be part of this community. Our wish is for this to be a place where the emphasis is in exchanging ideas and inspiring others. It has been set up to create a community and to nurture and encourage artists."

Proud bee in the TheHIVE

"The Hive is a dynamic social community designed to help provide a connection between everyone in the arts, crafts and hobby industry. Whether you are a manufacturer, professional artist, hobbyist, retailer or consumer, you have a voice."


"What do you do on the Handmade Artist Forum?
Share creations. That first necklace or a practice painting.  Seek advice from others who’ve ‘been there, done that’. Learn how to make your creations better, and take better pictures of them.  Offer help to those starting a business from a happy pastime and support each other when you just can’t make it how it looks in your head. Have fun and remember, the crafts may be different, but we all have passionate love for art and respect each other’s dreams."

And then, of course, there's Handmadeology, which I blogged about in September.

I hope you'll check out these wonderful resources for yourself and see what you can give and receive through their forums and articles. And you never know… you might end up making some awesome new friends in the process! *Ü*

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Celebrating My 1-Year Anniversary with Etsy!

I can't believe that it was only a year ago today when I tentatively took my first steps as a seller and listed a few items on Etsy. Boy, a lot has changed since then and I've had so much fun growing my business and getting to know so many wonderful people in the process. So I think a major celebration is in order, don't you?! *Ü*

As my special treat, everyone can enjoy a savings of 10% off EVERYTHING in my Etsy shop until October 26th! PLUS, if your purchase totals $100 or more, I'll send you a coupon to receive an additional 10% off a future purchase!

To all my existing customers: This sale is to show my heartfelt appreciation for your support this past year and being the reason my shop has been so successful. Thank you all SO very much!

To all my new visitors: Thank you for stopping by and please check out my Profile to learn more about me and why I love to create. I hope you will take advantage of these special prices and find out why my customers are leaving me great feedback like this:

"These are absolutely incredible! The pictures just can't do them justice in person."

"LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these beads—fantastic seller, fast delivery, wonderfully packaged."

"Stunning beads—ELEGANT and fun—what a great TALENT HERE!! Thank you so much—I will be back."

A great big "mwwaaah!" of thanks also goes out to my family and friends who have been such an encouragement, inspiration, and all around great support system for me! :-*

It's "Happy Dance" time!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wanna Get a Sneak Peek?

Then sign up to get email notices of my upcoming special events, sales and giveaways! *Ü*

It's easy and simple to do—just fill out your name and email address in the box in the side column on the right called "Join My Mailing List" and that's it! You can unsubscribe at any time and I promise I won't give away your info to anyone else. I also promise not to bombard you with tons of stuff through this service (because who likes that?!). This will be strictly for occassional announcements from me, giving you the advance 411 on my special events that you might want to be first in line on.

And who knows… there just might be something special around the corner coming up soon?! ;-D

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CiM Maple

It's that time of year when I get the fun "job" of testing some great new colors from Creation is Messy (CiM). Today I would like to talk about Maple, which is a beautiful, warm golden brown transparent glass. I love this color, but it looks just like maple syrup and makes me hungry for pancakes every time I use it! LOL

For a color comparison, I'm showing CiM Maple, Effetre Medium Topaz, and Effetre Dark Brown (from left to right):

Maple is closest in hue to the Dark Brown, but has a more golden tone to it, whereas the Dark Brown has a reddish cast.  It melts down easily like thick honey, with no bubbling or shockiness. When I tried it with several different ivory colors, I made a fun discovery:

Effetre Dark Ivory has a really cool reaction when applied over Maple and spreads and crackles like crazy when heated up! You can see the difference in the above photo, where the Dark Ivory is shown on the far left-hand bead, and next to it is CiM Butter Pecan and one with CiM Peace (white) applied. I loved the crackled effect so much, I made a set of them and think they are perfect for the Autumn season:

Maple Swirls
So far, I've found that this color is very stable and a dream to work with. I'm planning on trying it out with other color combinations and think this warm, rich color will work great with just about any fall theme or organic design. Yummy! *Ü*

Monday, October 18, 2010

200th Fan Giveaway Winner!

Wow, that was fast!! I woke up this morning and discovered that I now have 200 wonderful fans who have joined me on my Facebook Fan Page!  

So… now on to the suspense of seeing who won my Sparkle beads giveaway prize, right?! At first, I thought it would be really neat to write down all the names and pull the winner out of one of my fancy vintage hats—but the very thought of all that writing made my hand cramp up before I even started. LOL

So I decided to be a little more practical and copied all the fan names into an Excel spreadsheet and gave them each a number in the order they had signed up (and now I'm all set up for future drawings too! ;-D). With the aid of the fast and totally non-biased Random Number Generator, this number popped up: 56.

And lucky number 56 just happens to be none other than Kelly Owens Pratlett of GemJunkie! Congrats, Kelly! I'll be contacting you shortly to get your mailing address so I can get your beads out to you, k?

And much thanks sent out to everyone for all your support and sticking with me since I nervously took the plunge and created my Fan Page about six months ago. I'm just sorry I couldn't send something out to each and every one of you—but I promise there will be more fun giveaways like this in the future! *Ü*

Saturday, October 16, 2010

200th Fan Giveaway!

I'm so excited that my AshlynDesign Fan Page list continues to grow and that's I'm able to share my work and life with so many wonderful kindred spirits! Right now there are 194 fans, and only 6 more until it hits a nice, round 200! So to celebrate, I'm going to give away a set of some of my festive copper and purple beads from my Sparkle Spheres series. As soon as the counter hits magical number 200, I'll do a random drawing of all the names. So if you would like to join in on all the fun, or have some friends who love beads, jewelry, and all sorts of other creative stuff—please feel free to help spread the word! *Ü*

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Find: Plano 7771 Tackle Box

I'm not what you would consider a Shopaholic who likes to frequent retail stores all the time, but I love to hunt for a great "find"—especially in places like rambling antique shops, thrift stores, flea markets, and questionable spots like old barns or the dark interior of a basement garage sale. To me, a "find" is usually either a unique older item or a new one that can be re-purposed to a cool new use—and for a great price too! I usually don't have a specific thing in mind when I go on these adventures—but I definitely know it when I see it, and the thrill of discovery rivals the Christmas Day rush!

So I decided that I would like to start a new weekly post called "Friday Finds" where I will share special tools, materials, books, and other random discoveries that I've made that I love to use in my work. I hope you will enjoy it and share a few "finds" of your own with me too!

This first one is definitely one of my favorites and I use it all the time: my Plano tackle box. I've been using tackle boxes for my small scrapbooking items like brads, buttons, and mixed media items for many years, but I wanted a different kind with more organizing options to hold as much of my jewelry making supplies as possible. I searched high and low, and the model I liked best was the Plano 7771, but it was too pricey for me and I decided to wait for a sale. A few weeks later, while driving to my in-law's home, I saw a wholesale tools store and decided to check it out on a whim. Imagine my delight when I found it at a great discount?! waahoooo!!

What I love best about this particular model is that it has several shallow, compartmentalized bins, as well as larger areas where I can store my odd-sized items. And it's portable, so I can bring it with me anywhere I'd like to work. This is a great thing to take to craft fairs and the Farmer's Market, where I can whip up a pendant or charm right there if a customer likes my loose beads, but doesn''t know how to make her own jewelry.

This is a section built into the top of the lid, where I keep a lot of the items that I need quick access to, such as headpins, wire spools, and little projects I'm working on.

This is the next compartment down when you lift the entire lid up. It's perfect for my larger containers and will even hold a small beading tray. The smaller section on the right is a little deeper and also holds my wire working tools.

How's this for an organizing dream come true?! The 4 larger containers are nice and shallow, so they're perfect for storing most of my semi-precious stones and special beads—all by color, of course! The 3 smaller containers on the right hold all of my sterling findings, which I have separated in small watch case clear jars.

This is not all of my jewelry supplies, but it's a large chunk of it—most of my sterling and higher quality items, as well as my main tools. It really saves me time running around looking for things and I love how it's my own little "studio on the go." Even if you're not a jewelry maker, a tackle box like this would be wonderful for storing other small items—whatever your hobby is! *Ü*

P.S.—pssst! In case you're looking for goodies to stock your own box with, you can also find my handmade lampwork beads and metal clay charms in my Etsy store at or buy directly from me through my Facebook Fan page by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chocolate What?!?

My Ashley is a great baker and she loves to come home after school and whip up something yummy almost every day. I used to be the same way when I was her age, but unfortunately, these days making delicious treats on a daily basis isn't as kind to my waistline as it used to be (aah…to be young with a non-stop metabolism!). One of Ashley's favorite things to make is a recipe I got from a friend many years ago. She called them "Peanut Butter Goodies," but when I first laid eyes on the finished product, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was "they look like chocolate poop!" (an observation that didn't seem to impress her at the time! LOL). But she graciously shared her recipe with me and when I told my story to my family—well… the name "Chocolate Poo Poos" sort of stuck and that's how we've referred to them ever since. Not the most appetizing name, I know, but when you see this photo of a batch Ashley recently made, perhaps you'll see why I came up with it? ;-D

But honestly—these little lumpy guys are so delicious, they rarely stick around for more than a day or two and I bet you'll love them as much as we do! Here's the recipe, in case you'd like to give it a try:

Peanut Butter Goodies (aka Chocolate Poo Poos)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cups peanut butter (I prefer the chunky variety)
2 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions: Place sugar, milk and cocoa in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil vigorously for 1 minute (and NO longer!). Mix in remaining ingredients and drop in spoonfuls onto wax paper to cool.

My brother-in-law even tried putting one into his hot oatmeal for breakfast, and declared it was a hit! hhmmm… I think I know what I'll suggest to Ashley when she comes home today and asks me if I have any special requests?! *Ü*

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fire Divas & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is the national month for Breast Cancer Awareness, so some of my fellow Fire Divas and I are going to be donating part of our proceeds this month to various cancer charities to help out! Here is a list of where you can find our shops, how much we're donating, and to what charities—just click on the names and it should take you directly to our shops: 

AshlynDesign - 20% donated to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

HollysFollyGlass - 20% to Susan G Komen for the Cure (also 

UglyDucklingBeads - 25% to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 

Teasebeads - 15% to Susan G Komen (also at 

JanelDudleyBeads - All proceeds of pink beads to Susan G Komen

LAJewelryDesigns - 20% to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 

ahouston - 25% will be donated to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure for any pink bead sales and goddess beads (everything in the "PINK" section of my shop) 

spawnofflame - Everything in PINK section of Artfire shop. 25% to Living Beyond Breast Cancer 

IcarusBeads - From Artfire Shop - 20% to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 

EmaKaye - Any pink beads in the Etsy shop - 20% to Susan G Komen

Lutrick - 20% of all ArtFire sales to National Breast Cancer Foundation

SilverRiverGlassWorks - 20% off pink beads to Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Shepherd Creations - 20% to of Artfire and BOD to Komen for the Cure

I'll be sending my donations to the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure and hope you will explore what this wonderful foundation does to help find the cure for breast cancer and support the women who have experienced it. I'm also planning on adding more pink beads and jewelry to my shop during this month, and will list them all under a special "Pink for Cancer Promo" section, so please check this out if you would like to help out with this important cause. Thank you so much! *Ü*

Monday, October 4, 2010

ArtFire Studio Grand Opening

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

A few days ago, I decided to heed the advice of some of my fellow Fire Divas and sign up for a Pro account with the ArtFire online artisan marketplace. As much as I love selling through Etsy, I thought it would be smart to also offer my glass beads and jewelry on ArtFire to see if it can help me reach more customers.

The name of my new ArtFire Studio is AshlynDesign (just like on Etsy) and if you click on the highlighted text, it will take you directly to it. Some of my listings will be the same as I offer in my Etsy shop because they are made-to-order items, but many other items will be exclusive to this particular shop. Some of the nice things that are unique to ArtFire is that you don't have to be a member to purchase anything, and I can also easily offer great incentives like special coupons and sales. So, to celebrate my "Grand Opening," I'm offering a coupon for free shipping on any order for a limited time. The special code for this coupon is "ASHLYNFREESHIP" so be sure to mention this when you check out after adding any item(s) to your cart.

I'll give it a few months to see how it goes, and I hope you'll take some time to check out my new shop there, as well as the many other wonderful handmade goodies you can find in this marketplace! *Ü*
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