Friday, June 29, 2012

Beautiful New View

Oh, please take a look at my beautiful new blog design and header!  When I created this blog, I did the best I could with my limited "e" resources, and the huuuuuge header/picture was always a source of visual pain and sorrow for me.  I never really figured out how to make it right, you know?  Frustration came easily, and innovation not easily at all.

When Lori of "Pretty Things" and "Bead Soup" fame contacted me with the generous offer to revamp my blog header, I couldn't say "Yes, please" fast enough.  Isn't it...well, simply GORGEOUS?  I love it so much, and I'm so grateful to's hard to know how to express what it means to receive such a wonderful gift. 

So to my friend Lori, this is what I say:  thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I continue to be astonished and thrilled at the generosity of the people in the online beady world...and I mean generous with time, advice, and encouragement.  You are an inspiration to me in so many ways, and I look forward to being able to pass it along whenever I see an opportunity.  Mwah!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party

My partner for my very first BSBP is Janeen, of Wild Vanilla Designs (I love that name!) can find Janeen and peek at her lovely blog here.  Janeen is a very busy young mother of three who still finds time to do it all...and I'm happy to be swapping beads and so forth with such a talented lady.

I've been scrolling through my Google Reader, looking at so many great blogs, and I noticed that my friend Therese posted a picture of the very first beaded item she made.  Sadly, I never thought to take pictures of my earliest creations, but only started photographing my "beaded treasures" as a sort of inventory control process.  It quickly went by the wayside, and unfortunately I have not replaced that process with any way to manage my inventory.  I simply don't keep track, which is really unfortunate.  Must improve.

However, in the spirit of sharing and all, I'll post a couple of photos of my earlier designs: 

Lots of symmetry.  I still prefer symmetrical over asymmetrical designs...not sure if that's a bad thing or if I should just accept that it's just my preference.  It's funny...looking at these bracelets, I can see so many ways I'd do them differently today. 

Anyway, I can't wait to see what Janeen sends me, which reminds me that I'd better get cracking on my offerings to her!  My "studio" (aka: craft room) is a disaster, since I'm moving to a new house on July 10th.  Fortunately I've left that room for last; I couldn't bear to begin packing up all my beads and assorted craft items.  My mission for this evening is to choose what I'm sending to Janeen, and then to begin the Painful Packing Process (apparently I'm big on alliteration).  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bead Soup

I've been a very lax blogger for some time...I'm in the middle of a move from a medium-sized house to an apartment, and the purging is KILLING ME!!!  Not so much the packing, which is repetitive and unstimulating but not really difficult...but deciding which of my "treasures" must be left behind.  I realize that I have a bit of a hoarding tendency (oy...the beads and findings and altered art supplies and sewing things and yarn and...and...), and I have never, ever been very good at saying "I'm already involved in so many crafty endeavors that I don't think I should learn how to _____".  You can fill in the blank with many, many different types of crafty endeavors; I love 'em all.  Anyway, not to make excuses, but the purging is physically and emotionally draining, ergo the lack of blog posts.

The adorable Lori Anderson, "creative director" of the Bead Soup parties, suggested that we should write a post about what sparked our interest in beading and creating pieces of jewelry. It's a fabulous idea!

About 14 years ago, I moved with a friend to Dover, Delaware.  I worked at the local hospital (I've always worked in hospitals), and every employee of every medical center is required to wear a photo ID badge.  Usually you're handed a plain-Jane black lanyard with a clip to attach the ID badge, and that's how the ID badge is displayed.  However, one ICU nurse had a better idea...she created beaded lanyards with a clip to attach the ID badge.  For nurses and others who have direct patient contact, there is a rule that any lanyard must be of the "break away" variety, so she used magnetized clasps in silvertone and goldtone.  I thought these lanyards were the most beautiful things ever...practical, yet decorative.

Upon moving back to Portland (Oregon), and getting a position at one of the hospitals here, my beaded lanyards got a lot of positive attention.  Wanting more variety, I thought I could probably make them if I could figure out how they're made and what I needed to buy.  I took a deep breath and took apart one of my lanyards, making sure to lay out the beads and findings as they had been strung.  I took the "stringing stuff" (yeah...beading wire) and some of the metal things that I didn't have a name for, and went to Michaels to ask for help.  That's where I learned that I'd need a few basic tools in addition to beads and findings and wire and so forth.  Oh, and a book on basic beaded jewelry techniques.  I figured out a few things early on, such as the fact that good crimping skills are essential. 

As I started wearing different lanyards with different outfits, people began asking where I'd gotten them.  Then they would ask if I could make some to sell.  One thing led to another...a lovely lady in my office showed me how to assemble earrings, I discovered how satisfying it is to make bracelets, too, and things just took off!  I did very, very well at the annual holiday bazaar!  While having my hair cut one day, the salon owner was complaining that her jewelry supplier had quit making jewelry, and she missed having that type of display at the front desk.  I asked if I could bring some things in for her to look at, and she immediately created a display area for me. 

Everything I've done has been by trial and error.  I've learned so much from online tutorials and classes, and from books and magazines.  And the more I've worked with beads and wire, I've migrated away from the glass bead assortments and toward natural gemstones and higher quality materials.  Now I need to move to the next level, and have an online shop...that's my goal for the year, after I get moved. 

So that's my beading story!