I was thinking the other day while I was watching my vibrating polisher work on my tarnished Sterling Silver beads.  It’s almost hypnotic the way the process works.  Through the use of stainless steel shot of various sizes and shapes in water (and a little soap), this machine agitates and uses high-speed oscillation to polish the silver clean.  The stainless steel media, some of it pointy and sharp, some of it rounded, works it’s way repeatedly into every nook and cranny of the beads especially the spots where a polishing cloth could never reach.  The process is not a passive one – the beads and shot move continuously and wear on each other during the cycle in a frantic cleansing dance.

We, too, cannot be improved without trouble and agitation.  Trials and problems wear on us like the polishing media does on the beads.  Sometimes we may get pulled under the surface and feel like we’ll never surface again.

But we do finally emerge, shinier and polished – and better for having made it through the polishing process as shinier beads and stronger people.

 

anotherhope

Tonight my good friend Renee came over for hours of (nearly) uninterrupted gab time.  She is a fabulous woman who sponsors children all over the world through Compassion International and has actually visited many of them in places such as Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, the Domican Republic, and is always planning her next trip.  She is so focused on the needs of these people, and she was wondering how so many people could be so oblivious to the needs of people in these countries just because they did not see it.

Granted, my life is pretty tame compared to hers, and I certainly know that there are many who just don’t waste time thinking about it if it doesn’t directly affect them.  My example, however, was that for me at this time in my life, I am on a hamster wheel, constantly spinning, spinning, and even though I know there are things outside that wheel, I don’t feel able to take my eyes off of straight ahead for fear I’ll trip up and things will come to a grinding halt.  While keeping the wheel spinning is important, it is also important for me and for my children that I look beyond my narrow scope of things on occasion.

Renee was showing me the website for Another Hope orphanage in Uganda.  Ruth, the founder and director of Another Hope, is coming to visit in September to try to bring attention to her mission.  Her children make and sell jewelry, bags and hats from old magazines and recycled paper and sell them to make money for necessities.  This touched my heart, and I saw a way that I could possibly help.  I intend to reach beyond my hamster wheel and purchase beads from Ruth that I can make into some of my designs.  In addition to helping when I purchase their beads, I can also donate the proceeds from my sales to help the orphanage. 

While I can’t always take my eyes off of my wheel, I can let my heart hear what others are saying, and I can try to make a difference.

mom for blog

A client of mine recently contacted me to do a piece for her.  She had a bracelet made by her child on a piece of black string.  It had 7 brightly colored beads on it. The bracelet was her pride and joy.  But she was concerned about longevity.  She wanted to make it a strong piece of jewelry she could wear every day and keep for posterity and did I have any ideas?

The main thing for her and for me was keeping it as close to the original design as possible.  I strung black seed beads and then 4mm onyx beads between the original colored wood beads to hold them in place.  I used pewter letter beads to spell out “MOM” in between and finished it off with a toggle closure. The 2009 charm will be a reminder of when her son gave her the bracelet.

I really admired her desire to keep the bracelet as close to the original as possible.  She could have added and changed the design to make it more fashionable.  She could have put it away in a drawer and never worn it.  Instead she thought of a way to preserve both the memory of the gift and the original design.  I believe this client and I created something she will be able to treasure for years to come.

What do you think?

100_1003

My former father-in-law had a unique gift – he could find four and even five leaf clovers out of any clover patch.  It was amazing to watch…he never failed!  In all the times we searched, I never found one, but he would just reach in and pluck them out, one after the other.  I preserved several of these clovers for each of my children, and I’ve been saving them for several years.  I thought they would make a wonderful keepsake of their grandfather.

Several weeks ago I was browsing in The Mother Bead, my favorite bead shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin (http://www.themotherbead.com/).  There on the counter was a bowl filled with these precious little locket-type frames done in silver.  They were the perfect size for the saved pieces of clover!  I was ecstatic and I bought two of them, one for each child.  I plan to make them into a hanging keepsake for each of them.  They were only $4 apiece…what a treasure!  That makes these double lucky, doesn’t it?!

I can imagine many uses for these wonderful frames.  Hmmm.  Maybe I’ll have to make another stop into the store again soon…!

100_0528

I admit it.  I am a total bead shopping junkie.  If I can’t get to a bead store, I’ll be on a website looking for my next big thing.  You  know, that thing that will inspire you, drive you to creative heights you’ve only dreamed about, make you rich and famous…THAT next big thing.

So what do you do when the economy pinches your pocketbook?  When a new bead order is just not in the stars for you?  How do you stay creative in times like these? 

Today I had a creative awakening when I took a new look around my studio.  There are drawers I haven’t opened in months.  There are piles of idea sheets I haven’t gone through in years.  Stacks of old bead magazines with sticky notes hanging out are piled in the filing cabinet.  I literally have hundreds and hundreds of dollars in beading supplies just existing all around me while I always gravitate toward favorites.

But what if this economy forces us to take a second look?  What about that bead strand that looked so cute in the catalog but wasn’t what you thought it was once you got it?  What if you took another look with new eyes?  As for me, I have a huge bin of tarnished and broken jewelry that only need to be cleaned up, taken apart and sorted.  Voila!  Beads again!  I have a treasure trove of tarnished silver that would probably pay for a year of college just sitting around unused because it’s – gasp! – tarnished.  Well, this bead chick is getting out her cotton gloves and getting down and dirty!

What about a new line?  What about that technique you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t take the time?  What about incorporating the beads you already have and aren’t using into a new type of craft project?  I’m looking into incorporating my collection of old jewelry into some new purposes – collage, sculpture or wire working.  I took a basketryclass once and loved it…can I somehow use that?  How about practicing soldering like I always planned on but never took the time to do? 

And, with those things I can’t use, I can always bag them up and sell them on Etsy or eBay, because I’m sure someone else out there can use them.  Then I can use the extra cash to put gas in the tank or something. 

I will keep you posted on my new visions, and I’d love to hear about your ideas for stretching your beading budget during these tough times.  We can all share and help each other out, which is what makes the tough times bearable.

paws & bones necklace

paws & bones necklace

Further down I tell the story about my claim to fame.  This is the prequel to that posting, so you may want to read this first!

I have a very good friend named Julie.  She is, without a doubt, the most passionate animal lover I know.  She and a group of equally passionate people worked very hard and were able to start the Menominee Animal Shelter here in town (http://mashelter.org).  She has worked tirelessly for the last five years fundraising and doing everything in her power to bring notice to the needs of the animal community.

A couple of years ago, she called me up and asked me to create a necklace and bracelet set for her mom’s birthday.  She learned her love of animals from her mother, and she wanted the jewelry to be animal related.  We tossed a couple of ideas around and I said I’d work on it.  I found wonderful charms with paws and bones, and I paired them with Sterling Silver and gold plated accents (a mixture I LOVE).  Well, to make an even longer story short, her mother loved them, and so did Jules, who ordered several more sets for gifts.  I decided it would become my way of helping the Shelter (other than adopting more animals I don’t have room for…now) and I decided I would donate back a portion of the proceeds to the Shelter.  I have been able to donate to a cause near and dear to a lot of hearts while creating the jewelry I love. 

 Someday when my children are grown I have no doubt I will become the crazy cat lady who lives with a houseful of feline companions, and I will be a frequent visitor to the Shelter for that reason.  But for now I will help in the way I can – by spreading the word about the Shelter and helping by giving back to a good cause.

Paws earrings

Paws earrings

The Mother Bead

June 11, 2008

The Mother Bead

One of my favorite bead stores of all time is The Mother Bead in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  When I first began beading and I had no idea what I was doing, I would spend hours prowling around the small yet overwhelming shop, looking for beads to strike my fancy.  I would buy a couple here, a couple there, and then I never seemed to have enough to finish a project I started.  Thus ushered in the times of excess – buying tons of everything “just in case.”  Now I am a much more disciplined shopper. 

If you believe that I have some swampland to sell you!

I can never go into The Mother Bead without seeing it all – no quick stops in this store for me!  They have also recently expanded the shop to hold even more beads and supplies (yea!) and they also have more room to offer classes.  The staff are all passionate about beads and jewelry, and the atmosphere is contagious.  And don’t you just love the photo?  To me it captures all the excitement and passion of beading.

The Mother Bead has a sister store in Ephraim, Wisconsin called The Bead Bucket.  This shop is set in gorgeous Door County, and I have visited that store as well when I am over in Door County for classes or events at The Peninsula Art School (www.peninsulaartschool.com).  Even though it’s small, it really has a terrific selection of beads…I fell in love with some antiqued czech beads there last summer, and they are still one of my favorite beads to work with.  I have had to stop in the Green Bay store several times to pick up more.

Check out their website sometime at  www.themotherbead.com.  I think you will be as impressed as I am.  Maybe I’ll even bump into you in one of the stores!

Jewelry Lasts Forever

Isn’t this the best?  I found it in a shop in Green Bay and it makes me smile!  For some women it’s jewelry, for some it’s clothes, for others shoes…we all have our weaknesses – that item we can’t seem to control our impulses about.  Even though we have closets/racks/drawers already filled with this must-have item, we simply cannot pass one by once we fall in love…something we do often!

For me it’s jewelry.  Beads.  Earrings.  Bracelets.  Pins.  New.  Antique.  Costume.  Real.  Any and all of them – I love them all.  I couldn’t wear in a lifetime all the jewelry I want to make for myself.  Fortunately I have a business that allows me to create all the jewelry I dream about and send it out into the world to other jewelry lovers like myself.

Fortunately or unfortunately the men in my life don’t stand the test of time…but I still have my jewelry!

Italian Fantasy

One of the most difficult aspects for me in being a jewelry designer is the business aspect. While marketing ideas come easily, and I enjoy this part, the nuts and bolts stuff doesn’t.  As an artist, I have a more free-flowing mentality, so a really structured work day does not suit me.  However, as a single mom, college student, businesswoman and etc., I have to have some structure in my life. And now that I got a part time job to help out with extra expenses that have been cropping up, getting better organized is absolutely imperative.

I”ve been reading more about getting organized ( again, LOVE the concept, but I’m really easily-distracted from the task!), marketing my website, improving my blog, social networking and in general just really overwhelming myself.  Last night I went to bed thinking “Forget all the rest of this stuff…I just want to make jewelry!”  But here the vicious circle comes in.  In order to make more jewelry, I need to sell jewelry to afford to buy the beads I crave.  I could not possibly wear all the jewelry that I want to make.  There are people who want my jewelry and keep me making it. It seems foolish not to pursue something that I love that can also provide an income stream.

Creative time, or non-structured time, is some of my most productive.  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s 10:00 p.m.  Or 2:00 a.m. It can happen anytime of the day, and it’s not easily scheduled in.  Sometimes when I have the mindset of “I have to make jewelry” I can sit at my table and nothing works.  Nothing apeals to me.  I start things and hate them.  Or I break crimps, drop beads, and just mess things up.  So this time tends to be a total waste. 

So, can a creative, non-structure lover like me create a life where there is enough structure to keep all the balls in the air, yet provide enough creative time to just it happen?  I can’t fit into a cookie cutter system someone else creates, but my old way of doing things just isn’t working as well as it needs to .  So I will be attempting to re-arrange my life in a way that works better.  Is it possible? Check back in to see how things progress..

 

Crystal Kaleidescope

I absolutely love bead shopping.  I love to click around, filling my cart.  I discover a great price on the amethyst shape I love to work with…yea!  There’s a special on the wire I use…double yea!  I see the items multiplying, the discounts piling up. I only need 5 more items to reach the next discount plateau…then I’m at that point…does it get any better than this for a jewelry designer?!

Then comes check out.  Oh-oh, I can’t really afford this large of a bead order.  But just think of all the money I’m saving on quantity discounts!  And I know the sales will be high, so that justifies the cost, right?  Right.  And anyway, I’m doing all this marketing and my website is going up, so my demand will increase, so I’ll need more inventory.  And anyway, all these beads are so INSPIRING! 

With the click of a mouse the order is on it’s way.  A BEAD ORDER IS ON ITS WAY!  I love the anticipation, knowing it’s on its way to me.  I wait impaitiently until the day it arrives at my door.   Now comes the real fun…looking through all the fun stuff I ordered.  Oh, these are even better than I thought they’d be!  I can’t wait to make something with these.  Hmmm, these are smaller than I thought they’d be.  Oh, well, I’ll find something to make with them. 

Gee, I don’t have enough room in my trays…I’ll have to buy a couple more containers.  No problem.  With the shows coming up, and my website going up, and the marketing I’ve been doing the orders will be coming in and it’ll all be worth it…

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