Monday, November 22, 2010

Saying Good-bye to Old Friends

Has it really been almost two months since I've written a blog post?  Incredible!  Where on earth does time go?  I've been extremely busy during that time with the day job and getting ready for and attending craft shows.  In some of my, evidently, weaker moments, I committed myself to two shows the end of September and first of October which were just one week apart and again in November to two shows just one week apart.  This weekend was the last of the four shows and I'm breathing a sigh of relief.  I made it!  And I would have to say that all four shows were successful shows in their own fashion; some with sales and some with sales and networking with other artists.

Normally, my floral work sells well at both the fall and the Christmas shows.  My jewelry, while much admired, does not sell as well in my area because of its price.  Occasionally, I will sell a piece or two to someone who recognizes its artistic quality and is willing to pay for it.  Those sales keep me going as an artist.  So, I continue to bring my bead work for display at craft shows, hoping for that one buyer who will toss a scrap of appreciation to my artistic soul.  This last show I received more than scraps.  I practically got the whole loaf of bread!  This was the first show I have done in the last 11 years where my jewelry sales made up the majority of my total sales!  It was manna from heaven and bittersweet at the same time.  Because my bead weaving does not move very fast, I've carried some of my pieces to many, many shows.  So when they finally sell, it's like saying good-bye to old friends.  I'm pretty sure they all went to nice new homes, though, where they will be appreciated.  And next up for me, in two weeks, is an honest to goodness art show where I will display my bead weaving.  I am so excited to be doing a show where I know there will be no products mass produced in China or anywhere else and passed off as handmade.  I am also excited to be doing a show where my work is considered to be art, at least  by the organizers.  Will it be feast or famine?  I'm hoping to come home soul full.

A few of my old friends who went to new homes.

Monday, September 27, 2010


In Springtime, their soft beauty promises hope and renewal.  In Summer, they offer us shelter and cool shade from the heat.  Autumn arrives and they show us nature's glory and awesomeness.  Even in Winter, the leaves that remain green remind us that even in difficult times, there is survival.   Leaves have always been a favorite motif of mine.  I use them in decorating my home, incorporate them into my jewelry designs, and of course recognize the value of a strategically placed leaf stem or foliage in my floral designs.  I just love leaves, any size, shape or color!  So, of course, when I read the theme for the October Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, I was thrilled!  The theme is "Autumn Falling of Leaves".  This was a challenge I didn't want to miss.

Shortly after learning the theme and starting to think about how I wanted to develop it, my SO and I visited the tiny town of Paxico, KS.  Paxico is surviving by having become a community almost totally made up of antique shops.  It's a delightful place to visit and the shopkeepers are very friendly and helpful.  In one, when I told the lady I was looking for old costume jewelry that I could use in my beadwoven designs, she directed me to the appropriate niche and there I found the perfect focal for my October challenge entry.  It was a silver maple leaf shaped brooch with a red jasper stone set in the center.  It had definitely seen better days but the apparent aging only added to its appeal.  After all, what are Autumn leaves if not aged?  This sad little jewelry box reject now sits grandly front and center in a glorious tribute to the colorful beauty of Autumn falling leaves.  It's surrounded by bead embroidered stylized leaves on a bib necklace with beadwoven Russian leaves falling from the edges.  I hope Mother Nature approves.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Remember the Peppers?

If you follow my random bloggings (and I hope you do!), you'll remember my pepper picture from a few weeks ago.  I found these beautifully colored peppers at the farmers market and deemed them photography worthy, as well as inspirational. 

Well, recently, I have been working my little fingers to the bone getting ready for upcoming shows and I was looking through my bead stash for some quick and easy ideas.  I rediscovered a lovely purple stone that I had purchased from a vendor at the Topeka farmers market this summer.  She always tells me the names of the stones, but for the life of me, I can't remember this one.  It is perhaps a dyed piece.  But whatever it is, it is pretty and had caught my eye in her tray of focal pieces.  It also triggered my memory of the peppers so I decided to work it up in a simple strung style using the pepper colors.  I used amethyst nuggets and chips with Czech fire polish beads and seed beads.  What do you think?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Season, New Style

My first craft show is only four weeks away and the second just four days after that!  I have been busy every weekend getting inventory ready, but today I decided to take a break and set up my new jewelry display to make sure it is all going to come together as I want.  I then took pictures to take with me to my shows so I won't forget how I did it!  It fits into an 8 foot by 4 foot area so should work for any show I do and leaves sufficient room for my floral display in the other half of my spaces (I hope!).  Please disregard all the clutter in the background.  lol  This is my floral workroom.  My bead room isn't big enough to set up like this.

I have done away with the grid wall and gone strictly to a tabletop set up.  Early this summer, I blogged about finding display pieces at a yard sale and they are what inspired me to try this new set up.   The two pieces I found were not enough to house all my inventory, so my wonderful SO crafted a third, larger, case for me.  It turned out beautifully!  He is so talented.  In fact, right now, he is on the back patio painting and reworking the shelves for the new floral display shelving I picked up at a yard sale two weeks ago for free.   :-D   I think I will find another piece of crushed velour for the small table so both match and I need to find a couple more lights to clamp on to the smaller display cases, but overall it is a done deal and I like it!!  I would love to hear what you think.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Change of Pace

The end of September is just not that far away.  I have two fall craft shows back to back coming up.  The first is Cider Days,  the last weekend in September and the next is Pumpkin Patch, the first weekend in October.  It will be virtually impossible to replace inventory between the two shows (and I do hope that will be a necessity!), so I'm working furiously to get enough made up to cover four days.  My beadweaving and jewelry designs are something I work on all year around, but my floral designs are much more seasonal.

I absolutely love creating fall florals.  It has to be my favorite season.  Fall colors are so rich, so glorious.  There's nothing timid about the brilliant rusts, golds, crimsons and purples.  Here's a few of my favorite designs I've gotten made up so far.

I think this is one of the best antler wreaths I've ever made.
Found this sunflower vase at a yard sale.
Isn't this pumpkin vase great?!  Another yard sale find.
I love to work with grapes and this old wine gift box said "Take me home"!
My favorite!  This used to be a two-tiered plate holder.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unexpected Inspiration

Goodness, I don't know where the month of July went!  I didn't realize it had been a month since I'd posted here.  But, I just had to share today.

Just about every Saturday morning from May until September, my SO and I have a routine.  Early risers during the week, weekends are usually not exceptions for us.  We get the Friday night paper which lists the area yard sales, check the on-line version of the paper and Craigslist and head out on Saturday mornings in search of treasure.  Quite frequently I find things I can reuse in my jewelry and floral designs so I can easily justify my penchant for collecting other people's castaways.  After checking out yard sales, we head to the local farmers' market before finishing the morning at the grocery store.

It was at the farmers' market this morning that I found my unexcepted inspiration.  We always stop to chat briefly with a friend who runs a stall and while there I glanced down and saw the most wonderful mix of colors.  It was a box with four peppers - one dark green, one yellow green, one orangey red and one purple.  It was a feast for the eyes!  And being a beadweaver, my first thought was, "Ooh, I should make up a necklace in these colors!".  My friend assured me that as well as being pretty, they also tasted good, because my second thought was that they would really be good in a stir fry.  So they came home with me and I decided to capture their beauty in a more fitting vessel than their cardboard produce box before we slice and dice them into the skillet.

Now I also have something to refer back to when I go through my bead stash.  And I think copper will be the right accent for this trio of secondary colors after seeing how lovely they look on my leaf tray (which, btw, was a yard sale find).

So I guess moral of the story is even when you're just doing your normal, routine activities, keep your eyes open.  You never know when you will see that spark of inspiration that will lead to your next creation.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Bead Adventure

For lots of reasons, my vacation this summer was a thrown-together, last minute affair. But that's not to say it wasn't a good vacation. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I spent the first part of the week visiting my oldest son, his wife and two year old son. They live just far enough away that I don't get to see them often and it was wonderful to reconnect. My grandson and I played trucks and colored and read books. We went to a nearby mall where there are indoor play areas and carnival type rides for little ones, which was so nice since it was sooo hot! We went out for Thai food one night and had grilled chicken the next. It was just a relaxing, enjoyable visit!

The second part of the week was a bit more of a whirlwind, but equally fun. After coming home and repacking, my SO and I headed to Denver. We have developed a fondness for botanical gardens and arboretums and decided to check out the Denver Botanical Gardens. Steve has gotten some terrific photos on our garden visits and was hoping to add to his repertoire. Two of his best selling photographs are from the botanical gardens at Hot Springs, Arkansas. I take my camera too and have a blast snapping away at interesting flowers or architectural or natural elements. But Steve thinks we should do something that I like to do too, so I always get a double treat. Not only do I get to visit beautiful gardens, I get to search out Bead Shops!! And it's not a rush visit, either. The man has the patience of Job, waiting for me while I peruse strand after strand of beads and gemstones and cases of cabochons and findings.

Though my time in Denver was short, I managed to find three delightful bead shops. The first was owned by a fellow Etsy seller, Megan from The Peacock Shop. She was such fun to visit with and while her shop was small, her customer service and friendliness were huge! I wound up buying a fabulous turquoise cabochon from her along with some other cool beads including what she called peanut seed beads. The second shop I found was the Rocky Mountain Bead Trader in Englewood, owned by a man named Jay Phillips. Again, the friendliness and customer service were outstanding. I bought some really nice tiger eye leaf beads, some seed beads and Czech firepolish beads in colors I hadn't seen in my area. When he learned I was interested in seed beads, he suggested I try another shop in the area, Orrs' Trading Company. Oh my. Talk about walking into a beadweaver's version of a candy store, this was it. I had never seen so many colors of seed beads in one place in my life. As far as I was concerned, this was totally worth the trip. I know that a lot of bead weavers don't like to use anything but Delicas, but I guess I'm old school and I still love the Czech seed beads. Needless to say, I left with a slightly lighter wallet from this shop but a much more vast assortment of seed bead colors and finishes for my collection.
As a bonus, I met another extremely friendly, extremely talented beadweaver in the woman who waited on me, Marilyn Hume. Marilyn makes Blessing Sticks and sells them at the store. They are pieces of wood about a foot long that she covers with intricate peyote patterns using size 15 beads. The ends of each stick are then finished with feathers and fetishes. I wish I had asked her permission to photograph one so I could show it here. They are just amazing!
I know there are other bead shops in the Denver area but, alas, time did not allow me to seek them out. However, I would give a hearty recommendation to any of the three stores I got to visit. And hopefully, I'll be able to visit them again if my bead adventures take me back to Denver.
Tigereye, magnasite, Czech firepolish, glass beads, peanut seed beads and turquoise cabochon from The Peacock Shop, Rocky Mountain Bead Trader and Orrs' Trading Company.
My selection of seed beads from Orrs' Trading Company. The pictures just don't do them justice!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This One's Mine!

Very seldom do I make something specifically for myself.  Most of the time I feel I need to channel all my efforts into creating items to be sold.  After all, I invest a tremendous amount of time and materials in my work and shouldn't waste it on myself.  Much of the jewelry I wear is pieces I've taken to too many shows or that I've "borrowed"  from my inventory and decided to keep for myself.  But sometimes, a girl's just got to have something new for that special occasion.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.  I attended my 40th high school class reunion and alumni banquet over Memorial Day weekend.  It's not a fancy affair by a long shot, but I wanted something nice for the banquet so I found a very pretty dark purple blouse and black slacks.  Purple was especially fitting since it was one of our school colors.  The same weekend I found the blouse, I also found a new seller at our local farmers market.  She was a young girl selling dichroic glass jewelry and cabochons.  She told me she makes it in her microwave in a special kiln.  I liked her color and pattern combinations and wound up purchasing two cabochons from her.  Later I realized how well one of the cabs matched my new blouse and decided to make it up to wear to the banquet.  Here's what I came up with.  I wore it on a beadwoven chain I use for several different pendants and happily it drew attention so I could say, "Yes, I made this!".

Of course, I had to have coordinating earrings, too!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sometimes You Get Lucky

If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I'm a yard sale junkie.  From about April until September, my SO and I don't miss too many weekends of sifting through complete strangers cast-offs.  We love the early sales, the ones that start around 7:00 in the morning.  In the heat of the summer, it's still cool then and we finish up our browsing and buying by 9:00 a.m. or so.  If you don't get to a sale early, most of the desirable items are gone anyway so going later is a waste of time.  I usually look for clothing for my grandkids, sometimes for myself, items for my daughter's house and my own, books,  but mostly I look for decorative things I can reuse in making my floral designs or old jewelry pieces I can incorporate into my beadwork.  We check on-line in the local newspaper's classified section and also buy a paper to see where all the sales are located.  Then armed with our list and the city map from the phone book, we take off in search of treasure. 
This last weekend, we were headed to a particular sale when we passed a sign for one on a street we'd either missed or that hadn't advertised.  So on a whim, we decided to stop.  Lucky decision.  The lady having the sale had been a Premiere jewelry dealer and she was getting rid of all her display pieces.  I bought all the big pieces pictured for a cool $65.00.  I now have not only a better way to transport jewelry to shows but display options as well.  After we left, I got to thinking about being able to use these for home shows, an idea I've been toying with for quite a while, and I wished I'd also picked up the smaller display pieces she was offering.  So, we swung back by and unfortuneately found she had sold some of the pieces but I managed to score three nice necklace stands and a lovely black velvet table cover for another 2 bucks. 
This time around I also found two pair of pajamas, two t-shirts and swim trunks for my 4 year old grandson ($7.00), a grapevine wreath and a bag of green floral moss ($1.50), a rather unique lidded basket and a really cool wooden chuch birdhouse ($2.00).  Next week?  Who knows what treasures await?  I love yard sales!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Clay Creations

Lately my crafting time has been split between beading and playing with clay.  I get almost equal satisfaction from each medium but the clay probably appeals to the kid in me as well as the artist, where the beads represent more of my adult persona.  There's just something about kneading the clay, running it through the pasta machine, shaping it, mixing the colors.  I used to love making mud pies too!  And the colors remind me of my crayon box when my parents could afford to buy me the box of 24 or, glory of glories, the box of 48!!  The names!  The possibilities!  Clay is like that.  So many endless possibilities of color mixing; I especially like doing marbled designs.  Here's what I've been up to recently with my clay.

The abstract design was inspired by my EBW and Facebook friend, Lorraine of TrinityDJ on Etsy.  I first met Lorraine through the Etsy Beadweaver group and she is just one special lady.  She is no longer able to bead due to illness, but somehow she creates these incredible polymer clay pieces.  Her example, both as an artist and as a person, is the push behind this recent spurt of creativity on my part.

I had a lot of fun mixing the colors for these two and the little red haired girl has to be my favorite out of the bunch.

Since it's not long before Memorial Day, Flay Day and 4th of July, I thought maybe some patriotic designs might be in order.

I'll see how these are received before doing more barrette designs.  Yesterday, I played with a couple different techniques of mixing and shaping the clay to create some pendants.  They still need to be sanded and coated with sealer (the not so fun, but necessary, part of clay work).  Then I will probably to the adult thing and work up some beadwork to go with them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Middle Aged Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day certainly isn't what it used to be.  I'm at that point in life where I'm caught in the middle.  Still have my mom to celebrate the day with and still hope that my own grown children will remember their mom in some small way - a card or a phone call makes my day. 

For several years, it's been a tradition for me to take my mother to the annual Mother's Day Flea Market in a town close to where she lives.  We've always enjoyed the displays of bedding plants and the occasional treasure finds.  My mother no longer gardens or does many of the things she always enjoyed due to Alzheimer's, but we still enjoyed attending the flea market, taking in the colors and smells, the sunshine and fresh air.  We found some books for her.  She still enjoys reading romance novels.  And we found a bit of treasure for me.
The last couple of years I haven't found any vendors selling cabochons, but this year I was in luck.  The ones in the bottom picture I'm going to use together to make a pendant.  The others will be made up individually.  The lighter crazy lace agate (top left in the big picture) is already glued to the backing for a bead embroidered cuff.

As for my own kids remembering their old mom, I needn't have wondered.  Two of them even went so far as to send flowers!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

First Ever EBW Spring Swap

Twenty-one members of my Etsy team, Etsy Beadweavers, decided to treat each other with a swap of beadwoven designs.  We each completed a questionaire on likes, dislikes, wrist and ring sizes, etc. and submitted them to the organizer of the swap, Christine of Christine's Beadwork.  Then we received the name of the member for whom we were to design a jewelry item.  We had no idea who had who's name and were not to reveal this until April 15.  When I received my "swappee's" name, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated.  It was Karin Alisa Houben, a very accomplished beader who has been designing for over 20 years, actually studied art, and has had her work shown in major fashion magazines not to mention has sold it to some very famous people!  You can see her beautiful work on Etsy at Gypsy Eyes Jewelry.  Here I am, an ordinary, self-taught, midwestern country girl.  But Karin mentioned she had never tried Russian leaf stitch and I Love Russian leaf stitch.  In fact, I love anything with a leaf motif, so I decided that's what I would do.  Evidently, it was a good decision, because Karin wrote that she loved her "wonderfully big and bohemian" earrings.  I was so glad!
Karin's Earrings

Then today it was my turn.  I received my swap package in the mail and when I read the return address, I was really excited.  The team member who had my name was Marcie Abney of La Bella Joya!  Marcie does just beautiful work and I have admired her style since she became a member of EBW.  When I opened my package, I was in no way disappointed.  She designed a bracelet just for me using the name of my shop as inspiration.  And of course, she used my favorite color - purple!! 

My bracelet.  Isn't it awesome?

This swap was so much fun.  I hope we can do it again.  If you'd like to see what the other swap participants received, you can go to Christine's blog.  She made a wonderful photo collage and linked everyone's Etsy shop or blog.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ta Da!!

It's done.  My very first ever bead embroidered cuff is complete.  In my previous post, I outlined my approach to it's creation.  The final steps after finishing the beadwork were to glue the beaded portion to the metal cuff and then to stitch a bead edging around the entire cuff.  I learned that next time I need to add just a tad more to the length of the bead backing.  I really had to stretch the beadwork to meet the edge of the ultrasuede on the ends.  I also learned that I really enjoyed doing this kind of work and I've got some ideas floating around in my head for the next endeavor.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another New Adventure

Even though I have been beadweaving for around twenty years, there is still soooo much I've never tried. Other members of my Etsy team, Etsy Beadweavers Team, are constantly providing me with inspiration and encouragement to expand my horizons, not to mention, how-to and resource information. When I emailed the group recently that I would like to try my hand at making a shaped cuff over a metal form, several members were quick to point me in the right direction. Besides providing me with some pretty darn good written instructions, they also suggested the book "The Art of Bead Embroidery" by Serrafini and Kumli and a terrific video both on YouTube and at Fire Mountain Gems with Sherry Serrafini showing step by step how to put together a cuff on a metal foundation. So armed with a little bit of knowledge and a lot of determination, I've set about to create my first bead embroidered cuff on a metal band.

First, I measured my aluminum cuff blank (purchased from gottagetadeal on Etsy) and made a template for future use. Then I cut a lining for the inside of the cuff from black ultrasuede and glued it to the inside of the foundation. I also cut a piece of backing for the embroidery out of a stiff felt. This is the same backing material I use for cabochon necklaces. Next, I glued in place the three cabochons I had selected to use as focals. The center one is a faux red jasper and the two outer ones are repurposed button earrings. I loved the blend of colors in them! Now I was ready to choose beads for enhancing the cabs.

There were lots of reds, copper, bronze and even black in the button earring "cabs" so of course those were the colors I went with. Picked out seed beads, firepolish crystals and some glass and metal accent beads and I was ready to roll.

Other than positioning the three cabs and knowing that I would bezel them with the crystals and seed beads, I really didn't have a pre-formed notion of what I was going to do. The piece is sort of evolving from "what if and let's try this" moments. Oddly enough, I've found that some of my best work happens this way. So far, I'm pleased with this creative process and think the cuff is going to be a keeper. My boyfriend says it's gaudy and maybe it is, but I love color and texture. So I shall continue on doing what I do and when it's all finished, I'll post it here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Crafting Weekend

It was a weekend with time to craft. So nice. Yesterday I set up at a small local ladies' show. You know, the kind that mixes commercial vendors with handmade vendors, but all geared to women's interests. Weather was wintery, crowd was minimal, but it was a pleasant day. My card cases were a big hit and many people who know me in this tiny community didn't realize I do beadweaving so I guess, in a way, I managed to get my name out there. For a change, there seemed to be a lot more interest in my handcrafted work than in the two commercial jewelry party vendors also in attendance.

We made it home in plenty of time to catch the NCAA basketball games on television that I wanted to watch. (Yes, I admit it. I am a college basketball junkie.) This year my team is doing well and I have enjoyed the game even more than usual. While I first watched a huge, exciting upset game and then a second game, which my team won, I finished my item for the Etsy Beadweavers Spring Swap. Amazingly, I didn't even spill any beads, because I can become extremely, shall we say, animated during ballgames!

Today it's still a bit snowy outside so I headed to my basement floral workroom and focused on building floral arrangements for the Spring craft show I do in April. I created four table and one wall arrangement before the fingers and back called for a break. It was a nice change of pace to work with my florals and I think I came up with some very pretty designs. My favorite of todays is one I put in an old rusty metal scoop I picked up at a yard sale.
I photographed all the florals as well as the Spring Swap beadwork (which will be revealed at a later date) and there's still some good crafting hours left in the day. Hmmm, florals or

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Something Different

It's been ages since I've gotten out the polymer clay to work with. Like most of my creative endeavors, the clay was put on the back burner for a while. But now that life is calming down a bit, I was anxious to continue my experimenting. Last November, I purchased some blank business card holders to embellish and I've been itching to see what I could do with them. I've seen such terrific examples on line and in instruction books, but I started out pretty simple. I only bought five of the blanks to begin with and had so much fun with those I've put in an order for ten more! Hopefully, I can find fifteen people who want these. Here's what my very first efforts look like. Feedback would be very appreciated.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Man, it has been forever since I've done a blog post! Since the end of December, my life has been a bit upside down. I temporarily had custody of my then 6 month old grandson. Let's just suffice it to say that babies dramatically change the way you live your life and many things were put on hold, including my blog posting. Happily, he is now back where he belongs with my daughter and hopefully, I am back to blogging on a more regular basis.

My only dilemna now is what to blog about on a regular basis. Well, for starters, one of my Etsy teams, Kansas Etsy Team, has started doing giveaways on our blog. Starting today and through March 13, I am the featured vendor and am giving away this beadwoven bracelet.

For a chance to win, please visit and follow the entry instructions.