Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...  1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Wishing everyone a happy and blessed Easter Sunday, in remembrance of why we celebrate this very special day! *Ü*

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bead Soup #7 Reveal…at last!

Wahooooooo! Today is finally when Reveal #1 of the fabulous Bead Soup Blog Party begins! I've been working for a while on my designs and confess it was harder than I thought it would be to narrow them down since there were so many possibilities with all the goodies my partner, Carol Dee Myers sent me. To recap, here is what I received as my "bead soup" to work with…


I decided I really wanted to work with some of the largest beads in the mix as a personal challenge since I normally don't work with that size in my designs, but I loved the idea of a bolder, more contemporary look. And this is what I ended up creating with her beautiful enameled metal beads, pewter bead caps, mini glass spacer beads, and the silver Bali clasp…


First, I glued on some of the pewter bead caps onto the front and back of two of Carol's chunky lentil beads to give them a touch of bling. Then I decided to add some of my handmade lampwork beads in a dusty coral rose to give a nice contrasting punch of color to all the blue shades, and added loosely twisted variegated coral and blue silk cording I found in my stash of ribbons I've been hoarding. Large twisted rings in between give the larger beads some breathing room and a chance to show off!


Here is a closer look at Carol's stunning focal piece, which she made by enameling and layering several dimensional flower shapes together…


And I couldn't stop there! LOL I also made a pair of coordinating earrings featuring a combination of my lampwork beads, her enameled flowers, and faceted rose gold crystals:


I think these designs are perfect for this Spring season and I'm also proud of the fact that I challenged myself to add in the coral color since I normally don't wear this shade at all. I really love how everything came together and still have plans to create some other fun designs with the rest of my soup leftovers—thanks to Carol, for gifting me with all these fresh ingredients to work with!

This is the first out of three different Reveals that you can drool over (see the next dates in the sidebar to the right) and the list of everyone who is participating can be found by clicking on the highlighted link in my first paragraph. But first you should go over to Carol's blog to see what she created with the soup mix I sent her by clicking HERE!


You can also see more of Carol's lovely enameled beads and mixed media designs on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.myers.

I think she did an amazing job and I had so much fun getting to know her better and making a great new friend through this wonderful annual event! A big thanks and hearty clapping of hands too for all the ways that Lori Anderson makes this Blog Party such a pleasure, and for everyone else who is participating and sharing their cool design ideas! Now feel free to join me in commencing with the Droolfest!! *Ü*

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Phase 1B: Bead Sorting Marathon



As part of Phase One of my my ambitious "Studio Transmogrification," I've gathered all the numerous containers of beads that have been piling around my work area and have started the huge process of sorting through each and every one, getting them organized into usable sets or the Beads of Courage donation pile.  

These are all the beads I've been collecting since I first started making them full-time about three years ago—they're the "orphans" that didn't make it into a set because they were too big, too small, the color was slightly off, or it otherwise didn't match up to my exacting standards—because whenever I put together a set, I admit I am pretty nitpicky about making sure every single bead matches the others as closely as possible. They are also the experimental and "just for fun" designs I've played around with, random color testing, and "oops!" designs that didn't turn out like I wanted, but still had good hole ends and no structural flaws. (Because ya never know when you might need that *one* special bead to complete a project, right?! LOL)


I've already spent hours sorting through these random piles and am making some serious headway (including a few "what was I thinking?!?" beads that ended up going directly to the trash can!), but still am only about halfway through the process. *whew!* I was very surprised at how many beads I had accumulated that were enough to make complete sets on their own, even though some were a little less perfectly matched than I usually like to assemble (I've been told that most people aren't nearly as picky as I am, so I'm hoping they'll still be wanted for their lovable handmade qualities?!). These are most of the sets I've put together so far, and next I'm going to start working on more eclectic groups of mixed bead designs, as well as a few "grab bags" that I will offer exclusively from my Facebook Fan Page HERE.

A lot of these unique sets will be coming with me to the Lynnwood Whole Bead Show, May 3-5, but check my Facebook page often over the next few weeks and I promise I'll have some of them and other surprise goodies available there first! Or you're welcome to contact me via email or Facebook message and I can let you know if anything you're interested in will be offered for sale before the show or not?

Now it's off to do more sorting…because the rest of those beads aren't going to magically match up and jump on the wire all by themselves (…but oh, how I wish they could though! LOL) *Ü*








Saturday, March 23, 2013

Studio Transmogrification - Phase 1

Ok, I freely admit it…I'm a craft supply hoarder and need to find a 12 step program! I used to be super organized with all my supplies, as proven in my "Dream Scrapbooking/Craft Room" in my former home in Kansas—complete with tons of natural daylight, a bathroom, huge walk-in closet, and a large basement storage area:


*sigh* Nice, huh?! Unfortunately, I only got to enjoy it for about six months before we sold the house and moved here to Washington six years ago, and I've never managed to get my work space back this level. My glass studio is out in the garage, but the upstairs room where I do all my computer work, jewelry design, product photography, order packaging, etc. is now in a long, narrow "z" configuration, with no bathroom, a much smaller closet and no extra storage space in the form of a basement or attic. So while I managed to create some semblance of order fairly soon, there were still several unpacked boxes left stacked up in the corners or squeezed into our garage, while I did the best with what I had to work with.

During these years, my focus has also changed from scrapbooking and card making to lampworking and jewelry design, so many of my paper supplies have been sitting around, gathering dust and taking up much needed space, while the ever increasing flow of new bead supplies have been piling up wherever they can find the room. I had always intended to get my studio whipped into better shape, but life always seemed to get in the way and/or I have been so busy doing local shows, cranking out beads, and filling orders that I never seemed to find time or energy to get the job done properly.

Ironically, I'm the sort of artistic personality that thrives best when working in a clean, organized space—so having cluttered chaos constantly surrounding me each day has really affected me creatively (although some of my fellow artists do better in this kind of environment! LOL). I finally reached my limit when I got to the point that I could barely keep track of where my things were and would get constantly frustrated when I knew I had something here, but couldn't find it when I needed it (usually finding it a few days after the fact, of course!). And with my taxes still needing to be done and not a spare inch of table top available, I knew I needed to carve out the time and get this business taken care of once and for all!

I started with my main work table, which looked like this about a week ago and was so cluttered, it was being used more as a "sorting" area for projects that were in various stages of completion:


Can you even tell where the table is underneath all this stuff?!?? I'm so embarrassed to show this, but it's the truth of how bad things had gotten and if any of you have similar work spaces you're trying to deal with, I hope these next photos will help give you the inspiration and hope you need…

To keep things from overwhelming me, I recalled this bit of wisdom:

Question: "How do you eat a bear?"
Answer: "One bite at a time!" ;-D

So my game plan is to tackle just one small section of my studio at a time—removing everything in and on it, giving it a thorough cleaning, then only putting back the items  that really make sense for how I currently work, and selling or donating anything that no longer fits my creative lifestyle.


This is what things looked like after a good scrub and a refresher coat of glossy black paint—aaaaaaaaah, there's nothing like starting with a fresh, clean slate!! These taller cabinets used to be part of the giant double-sided work island in my old studio and had a much larger tabletop, but I couldn't fit it into my existing room, so I used this old door instead. I had been carting it around for years and previously used it on top of a pair of old sawhorses for my girls to draw, do homework, etc. while I worked, but it works out perfectly in this new configuration. (Tip: the hole where the door knob used to be is also perfect for threading wires and cords if you wanted to place a computer or other electronics on it too!)


And this is what is looks like now, with the stacking bins and organizer trays filled with favorite items I plan to use for my jewelry and mixed media projects. Now everything is right at my fingertips—which hopefully, means much better productivity and the only time I should feel stressed over it from now on is trying to decide what to use with my new designs! :-)

Here's a close up of the stacking bins…


Not just utilitarian, but pretty on the eyes too—because inspiration is half the battle, right?! When the weather warms up, I plan to give these a fresh coat of white spray paint. Now I'm raring to get started on "Phase 2" and can already feel the creative juices starting to percolate as I begin to feel the freedom of having a more organized and functional work space again! *Ü*

How about you? Do you have an area in your life that is in need of a serious Transmogrification? Join in the fray with me and we can inspire each other!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just Winging It

Spring is taking her sweet time to get here and our weather has been especially dreary, full of an endless progression of gray days and cold, drizzly rain. A few days ago, while looking through my idea notebook for something to snap me out of my Winter doldrums, I decided to try out some new bead designs that have been pressing on my mind lately…perhaps because my subconscious Muse has been longing for the sunshine too?!?


The next morning, I did a little Happy Dance jig when I pulled these great new Egg colors and prototype designs out of my kiln! I was just "winging it" (pardon the pun) on the Birdies and Birdhouse at the end of a long torching session, and didn't have super high expectations for them at the time—but I just love how they all turned out and figure my Muse must have been really inspired?!

I was so thrilled, the creative adrenaline kicked in and I spent the next day cranking out these…


…Cardinals, Blackbirds, Doves, Canaries, Bluebirds, Robins and Chickadees—oh, my! The Birdhouses are inspired by quaint English cottages and imaginary fairy homes, hidden away in secret forest glades. And I still have a ton of other great ideas pecking around in my head, anxious to be the next ones that come to life on my torch. I don't normally do a lot of "cute" beads, but these little guys are so cheerful looking, I can wait more patiently for Spring to finally arrive while I hold them in my hands or turn them into jewelry.

I've decided to call this new series "Wings" and it will include all my lampwork glass eggs, birds, birdhouses, and any other designs I create that go with the Bird theme. So if you love these as much as I do, feel free to visit my Facebook page HERE or my Etsy shop HERE, where you can get a sneak peek at my newest beads or snag a favorite for your very own! *Ü*

Robin

Rustic Coral Birdhouse

Green Speckled Bird Eggs

What are your favorite birds or related things that you would love to see made into a bead?



Friday, March 1, 2013

Yummy New Glass Colors!


Gearing up for the Spring season, I've been ordering a bunch of new glass colors and having a lot of fun playing around with different color combinations. Here are some new lampwork beads sets I just listed in my Etsy shop (click on the captions underneath each photo to go directly to the listing):

These spacer beads feature a randomly streaky mix of warm grays and browns that I think make them a really versatile neutral accessory color:

Rustic Brown Spacers

This set of larger donut-shaped beads has a lovely blue-green base that falls somewhere in between Robin's Egg blue and Copper Green, but slightly more muted in tone. I applied randomly sized Rustic Brown dots all over and gave the green glass a satiny eggshell finish, but left the dots shiny—a fun, fresh look that I love!

Antique Green and Brown Dots Set

Yummy! These pretty Antique Green spacers would look so pretty in any Spring design…

Antique Green Spacers

And these are probably one of my favorites, featuring a rustic combination of silvered ivory over the same Antique Green, accented with a band of sparkling fine silver dots that would be perfect for a cool pair of earrings…

Rustic Silvered Green Barrels

If these don't put you in the mood for Spring, then I guess I'll have to share some other color combinations that will?! LOL So stay tuned, folks…more goodies coming up soon! *Ü*

What are some of your favorite Spring colors you're looking forward to wearing this coming season??





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