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.

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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…!

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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.

Summer is Fiesta time

When summer roles around, I enjoy creating my “Fiesta” line in which I incorporate as many brightly-colored, fun gemstones as I can find.  The colors just scream summer to me.  When wardrobes get more basic due to the heat, my accessories stand in the gap and brighten things up!

Of course turquoise is a favorite all year, but it sure says “summer,” doesn’t it?  Added into the mix are coral, amethyst, lapis, chrysocolla, jades, and every other bold, brightly-colored stone I come across.  I mix in some fabulous Hill Tribes Silver, and they are ready to “fiesta!”

We don’t have a lot of parties planned for the summer so far.  I’m hoping that some spontaneous ones pop up for us.  Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off of a season of outdoor fun, and there always seems to be lots of get-togethers on the calendar from now on.  Until the invitations come, I will continue to be ready for the party with 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..

 

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