Sunday, February 28, 2010

Panjshir Valley - He's there!

I got a phone message yesterday confirming that my sweetie's arrived at his final destination:  The Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. 

My husband, Curt, is going to be in command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the Panjshir Province.  I've been studying Afghanistan for the last few months here at Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) and there is still a great deal I want to learn about the country and it's culture--or variety of cultures.  I hope to share some of my newfound knowledge so you can understand a little better, too. 

First things's a map

And, just to show you that there's more going on than the Marjah offensive that you may see on the news, I'd recommend checking out this link to the U.S. Central Command (they're in charge of the area of the world that includes Iraq and Afghanistan) page and this document on Counter-insurgency or COIN.  This is a different sort of activity for the U.S. military and its Coalition partners than you might think of when it comes to a "war-fighting" organizatoin.  You may have seen Gen Stanley McChrystal on the news...he's the commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) over in Afghanistan.  This newsletter includes his directions on how COIN should work.

A PRT is part of the COIN effort because they're focused on security and stabilization in each of their assigned provinces.  Curt and the team in Panjshir--which is more than just U.S. military--is ready to take the reigns in helping the provincial government move forward.  I'll explain more as his assignment goes on.  :)

Thanks for the support!


p.s. if you're looking for some relationship to beads and such...think lapis lazuli!!! 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Twist in the Universe

Inspiration is everywhere... 

A couple of weeks ago, Erin of Tesori Trovati threw out a challenge for inspiration.  She helped her third grader with a science project and ended up with an entire set of jewelry based on the solar system!  How cool is that?!  My mom was good with some science projects, and I especially love them if they involved pipecleaners, but sterling silver rings around Saturn?  That's just awesome!  You've got to see her pieces over on her blog. So, anyway, her word of the year is:  Inspire.  And that inspiration for this challenge is the Universe!

So, my piece today is not only inspired by interplanetary relationships, it's also inspired by Kerry Bogert's new book called Totally Twisted.  One of the main features of the book is using wire in all sorts of fun twisted ways.  The black and white pendant is made out of some kind of shell (and I got it on sale for just a few cents at Hobby Lobby, whoo hoo!) and while I have tons of interesting black and white beads that would have worked with it, I wanted to go for something more exciting.  So, it's pink!  Pink, twisted wire!

You can check out the rest of the challenge entries here.  There's some gorgeous work by my starry-eyed beading buds!!

I'm ready to get some more coiling on with the masses of colored wire that I've accumulated at sales and, get ready!  haaaaaaaa  For now, though, I'm off to focus on counterinsurgencies and how air power is best used to support them.  :)  I have a test in the morning!  haaaaaaaaa


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fave Artist Resources - Other Cool Stuff

Bring it on!  It's the fifth of five resource lists for this week.  This one is all about those extra cool and interesting things that add a special bit to your artwork...multimedia is the name of the game!

Other cool stuff - Lynn Davis: mixed media & "fauxtique" - Gail Crosman Moore: Wool, metal, you name it...gorgeous! - Vintage beads...all different types! - Wooden & natural beads - great selection of cool components! - findings, ephemera, and more - Analiese Designs - Lilly Pilly Designs - Adrienne Campbell - Lorelei Eurto's great design inspiration! - Hand-dyed silk ribbons

I've really enjoyed the shopping and exploring that came out of this resource list project...all stemming from one simple question:  Who's your favorite?!  Very cool!  Thanks so much for all the support!  Now it's time for me to go make something!!



Fave Artist Resources - Polymer Clay

It's #4 of 5 in the resource listing extravaganza from last week's giveaway. This one's focused on polymer clay...this is one medium I can actually handle. Mind you, I'm a novice, but it's still such a fun material to work with. Most of the links are shops but some are just for inspiration! I don't intend to generalize an artist into a particular category, but had to make a few choices just to make it easier--so, feel free to explore and see all the cool things these artists have to offer! Most importantly, they're not listed in any particular order...go see them all!

Polymer Clay - Kate Christine Damm - Cyndi Styles - Heather Powers - Malodora - Karen Lewis - Sharon Palac - Andrea Beeler - Grant Diffendaffer
Plus, check out work by Cynthia Toops

Hope you can find some good stuff!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fave Artist Resources - Metal

It's #3 of 5 in the resource listing extravaganza from last week's giveaway.

This one's focused on metal. I don't intend to generalize an artist into a particular category, but had to make a few choices just to make it easier--so, feel free to explore and see all the cool things these artists have to offer! Most importantly, they're not listed in any particular order...go see them all!

**Another important note that I'd like to pass along is the emphasis on "original art" which means that when designs are stolen or copied, it's not a good thing. Green Girl Studios (from the list below) is just one of several artists whose work has been blatantly copied by Forever Silvers. Please head over to Cynthia Thornton's blog for more information and to find out how you can support independent creativity and thwart thieves.**

Metal - Barbara Lewis - pewter specialties - Beth Hemmila silver charms - handstamped lovelies - Mamacita Beadworks - Anne Choi - Cindy Wimmer - Specializing in metal & wireworking supplies, tools, & tutorials

Hope you have a creative day!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Fave Artist Resources - Ceramics & Porcelain

Here's #2 (of 5) in the resource listings from last week's giveaway. (Yesterday's was on glass artists.) Giving love to our fellow artists is the focus of Heather's post today on her Humble Beads, it's only fitting that we have another resource list to point you in lots of new directions!

So, today's list is focused on earthen clay: ceramics & porcelain. Again, most of the links are shops but some are just for inspiration! I don't intend to generalize an artist into a particular category, but had to make a few choices just to make it easier--so, feel free to explore and see all the cool things these artists have to offer! This is just a starting point for your adventures...I know every artist isn't on here, but we have to start somewhere. I've done some major shopping and am loving some of these new treats. The blueish-purple rustic zinnia pendant from Classicbead was a treat in the mail today!

Ceramics & Porcelain - Lisa Peters - Mary Harding - Elaine Ray - Lisa Stevens - Unique clay creations - Jennifer Heynan - Kristie Roehder - Nancy Schindler - Summer's Studio - Sweetpea Cottage - Jubilee - Indigo Turtle - Clay River Designs - Sabine Brunner - Classic Bead - Gaea - Alona Lahav - Earthenwood Studio
Plus, if you're looking for more on the subject, check out the Beads-of-Clay blog for even more resources, tips, and fun challenges.

We can continue to grow this list...please let me know if any of the links don't work so I can fix them up. :)



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fave Artist Resources - Glass

The response to my giveaway this week was overwhelming and wonderful! I decided (thanks to Erin's suggestion!) to gather up all the input and put them into a lists of resources...I'm separating them into different genres for different days. Most of the links are shops (because shopping is the best!), but some are just for inspiration and entertainment! I don't intend to offend any artistan by generalizing into particular categories, but I had to make a few choices just to make it easier for the listing (and the shopping)--so, feel free to explore and see all the cool things these artists have to offer! Additionally, they're not listed in any particular order...go see them all! Here are just a few pics from my shopping adventures.


Lampworked, flameworked, bright, organic, boro, big, small, funky, unique, smooth, pretty, wonky (haaaa, I love that word!), expensive, inexpensive, masterful, novice...whatever you're looking for in artisan glass: - Heather Boardman - Karen Richard - Deb Batten - Blue Iris Designs - Michele Goldstein – Tera Belinsky-Yoder - Jelveh Javarian - Kristina Logan - Heather Trimlett - Michael Barley - Anastasia...beads - Terri Budrow-Nelson - Crazy Cat Glass - Angie Pendleton - Andrea Grassl - Jeanette Savina Cobb - Sassy Glass Designs – Ellen Dooley
http:/ - Leah Fairbanks
http://www.lorilochner/.com - Lori Lochner – Fireball Beeds
Harold William Cooney at Arts Afire Gallery - Margaret Zinser
Emiko Sawamoto at

Yes, it's a superlong list, but you don't have to look at them all today...they'll be there later for your viewing pleasure, too. Please let me know if any of the links don't work...I tried them all, but might have missed something in the translation. Plus, we can continue to add to this list...thanks so much for all your input!


Carnival Bead Winners!

Hi friends! Thanks for the enthusiastic responses to my giveaway last week! It's all a part of the Art Bead Scene's Carnival postings...just this month was "Beginnings." The funniest thing is that this giveaway is the beginning of a major shopping adventure for, I'm so inspired by all the different and amazing artisans out there!!

First, I'll tell you about the winners of these great Lisa New bead sets:

1. Orangy flowers: SharonP at Sharon's Jewelry Garden
2. Bluesy: Lisa Stevens at C-Urchin Ceramic Jewellery and Sculpture
3. Turquoise & orange: Greenbead Designs
4. Pink lemonade: Doreen at Backyard Beads

I'll get in touch with the winners via email or blog and get these mailed out ASAP!

Now, secondly, I accrued a wonderful list of artists, sculptors, bead makers, artisans, crafters, and bead I'm going to post a series of resource lists in the coming week. They'll be broken down into categories, just for easy of posting, but there are an AMAZING array of beads and bead-related goodies out there so I hope you enjoy the lists!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Complementary: In the Round

This is my entry into the Complementary Color Scheme Challenge on the Beads-of-Clay blog....

The big focal is a HUGE awesome button from Nancy's Round Rabbit.

I used the colors and roundness to drive my choices for other beads...there's a slab of garnet, some mookaite spacers, a few bits of Roman glass (from Happy Mango Beads) and a lampwork art bead that I bought on ebay years ago. The chain is from a shop in Kansas City, but as soon as I started going "round" it jumped out as the perfect complement. (Get it?! haaaaaaaaaa)

My pictures aren't exactly perfect, but I hope you can see the color scheme...

Thanks to Kristie at Artisan Clay for the reminder to get this thing done! haaaaaaaaaaa

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's a Carnival Bead Giveaway!!

It's officially Art Bead Scene Carnival time so as promised on my Beginnings post a few days ago, it's time for a bit of a giveaway! No cotton candy or free ride tickets here, but I do have some great glass beads to share. Lisa New's beads helped start my passion for handmade glass, so I want to give a little of that fun to you!

There are four different sets, so there'll be four different winners....

And, not only are there Lisa's beads, I've rounded out the selections with some bits from HMB Studios, Linden Avenue Designs, and Blue Heeler Glass. There's also a really cool ceramic bead (the big blue one) that I got from a guy at a craft show in North Carolina and I don't know his name because he talked so much I couldn't ask! haaaaaaaaa

How can you get some of these goodies? All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me who your favorite bead artists are...and if you are a bead artist, then make sure you share the love! Feel free to include links to websites or etsy shops of the beads you love...or that you make yourself!!

I'll randomly select four names from my commentators, so if you don't have a blog, please leave your address so I can track you down to send you the goods. Plus, if you blog about my Carnival giveaway, leave me a comment and I'll give you another shot in the drawing!

I'll draw numbers on Sunday, 20 February (I meant the 21st...haaaaaaaa nice, it took a week for someone to realize I don't have a calendar!! haaaaaa)...enjoy the Carnival!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Hey, this is what I do."

There are a lot of different roles a girl can have: wife, cat-mom, jewelry designer, coffee drinker, craft addict, or Air Force officer. But, if you ask me, there's room for all of them. It just takes a little bit of work to get the balance right. I'm not saying I'm actually doing it perfectly, but I've been able to do lots of things I love all while serving my country.

So, here's the story. Last summer I was out on a Friday night at happy hour at a bar in Alexandria, Virginia celebrating one of my pieces being published in Stringing. I also happened to be in uniform since I was on my way home from work on the Air Staff. Well, there was a writer from the Army Times sitting next to me and she got caught up in my celebration; we exchanged business cards and that was that. Or so I thought. She contacted me a couple of weeks later to ask if I'd be interested in sharing my story about my part-time business in her company's new publication called "The Edge."

Several months later, after I moved from Virginia to Alabama, I got a call from the interviewer and we spent about an hour chatting about my business ventures. Then, a local photographer came over to my house to do a full-up photo shoot. It was hilarious! I had so much fun!

Cut to a couple more months later...I get an email at work from an old boss who has seen my picture in the magazine, which comes free once a month with subscriptions to Air Force Times. I ran over to the library to find a copy, I ask if I can have it, then run back to my classroom where my 12 classmates are wondering what I'm all wound up about now. I hand it to one of my buds and he starts to read...

"It took a lousy love life..." I start laughing hysterically thinking that he's joking. But, no, the article, which is a feature about three different people who "moonlight" at other jobs, actually says that about me! A lousy love life! haaaaaaaaaaa I was dying laughing!! When I did the interview, I was being pretty flippant about how the dating scene in D.C. was such a wreck I didn't really want to waste any more time on it so I started being more productive doing something that was actually rewarding, making jewelry. Apparently, that stuck in his mind.

Plus, the other great quote he picked up on is, "hey, this is what I do." That's exactly how I tell my supervisors and co-workers that I have an arts and craft business. haaaaaaaaaa Can you imagine?! Yes, I'm a little outspoken, but I'm not crazy! haaaaaaaaaa

Anyway, if you want to check out the article, it's here...Military Times article. At least the picture's pretty good...

And, I'm thankful for that lousy love life that settled me down into crafting and helped me realize that the love of my life was sitting in the cubicle right next to me, patiently listening to all my crazy dating stories, and waiting for just the right moment to sweep me off my feet. :) Take note that in the magazine picture there's a photo from our wedding day. haaaaaaaaaa I get to see him tomorrow! I'm so excited!!!! Because, "Hey, this is what I do!" haaaaaaaaaa

Love Binders

Happy Valentine's Day! My sweetie lives off in another state...soon to be living off in another I'm spending the day with some of my other loves: beads, wire, books, crazy home improvement television, paper flowers, fat kitty cats, skinny kitty cats, and coffee with coconut creamer. But, here's a shout out to my honey...a little love from our special day last August. :)

Anyway, back from my little romance moment...I was looking for some heart designs for an earring request that I have to do today, so I went to my special binders and had a delightful experience reminiscing through great projects. See, this is what happens...I get tons of jewelry magazines and have been reading them for years. Well, I have the kind of job that requires me to move my entire household frequently, so I can't just keep stacks and stacks of magazines. So, I go through them and tear out anything I think is interesting...color, design, technique, sales advice, technical references, whatever. Then, I sort these random pages into binders with page protectors holding them all. This morning I pulled out the "Wire" book since I knew there were probably some heart shaped wires in there. Lo' and behold, it was like a scrapbook of my Bead Soup Party friends! Too funny! For instance, here's the hostess, Lori Anderson, in a 2008 project....

I just thought it was so cool that I had to, now I'm going to look through all the binders for some fresh inspiration and ideas!! But, not until after this nutty HGTV show is over because I have to see the end now that I started it. haaaaaaaaaaaa

Happy hearts to all!!!


Friday, February 12, 2010


I have a snow day from school today! I peeked out from under the covers this morning to see if it was snowing and then jumped up like a five-year old and ran to see the flakes falling! Whoo hoo!! My friend, Jeff, who's in Florida (75 and sunny) for the weekend called this morning to see how the weather really was...I told him my plans for the next four days (yep, it's a holiday weekend, too) and he called it a "Craftmageddon!" What a perfect word!!!
So, I'm in the groove...all the supplies are coming out: paper, punches, pens, pencils, fibers, fringes, inks, whatever! I'm on it!
I went punch happy with the flowers...
Some Cocolicious cards in honor of my girl!!!
Plus, I'm gonna practice on my minitorch today, too. Wish me luck with that...I had a near fire yesterday with just a toaster and an English muffin!! haaaaaaaaaaaa

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Big Reveal!!!! It's Party Time!

I can't believe this Big Bead Soup Party started with just one post from Lori Anderson way back in December! She took on the coordination for over 80 artists (click to go to yesterday's post that has the whole list, with links!) who signed on, swapped favorite beads, and then created something new to reveal today--so, it's a big day!

First off, I have to say whooo hooooooo about my partner, Julie Nordine from Credit River Art Glass. We hit it off from the very beginning...even though she lives far from Alabama up in Minnesota and we actually haven't met in person. :) So, as much as I looooooove the pieces she sent me to work with and my final result, the coolest part of the party was meeting someone who shares the same enthusiasm and passion about life! So, thanks, Julie for being such a generous new friend!! As a reminder, here's the stash she sent me that includes tons of goodies that she had her hands on making or modifying:
Click on the pic to go to her blog post that describes each piece in more detail.

I couldn't stop fondling the copper washers! I studied them and finally figured out that they were etched. Well, I'm not really into acid or electro-whatevering to try that myself, but I can sure wield a mean chasing hammer!!! haaaaaaaaaaa So, I took out a few plain old washers and pounded to my heart's content...I even bought a new hammer with texture just to change things up! I just loved all the circles and the rings and while playing around with them on my work table, I ended up here....

It's a Free Fall of etched copper, textured copper, and textured silver all linked together with copper jump rings that highlight the gorgeous Credit River Art Glass focal bead and smaller coordinating round beads. There are even lovely etched copper bead caps on each of these glass beauties that tie them into the piece perfectly! It's all finished off in the back with an etched copper toggle.

Another cool tip I learned from Julie was this trick for photography with the "spotlit" background...makes it look like a really professional feature! haaaaaaaaaaaaaa

In case you're wondering how it hangs, it's asymmetrical, as most of my pieces tend to be, because I wanted the falling "bib" portion of rings to balance the focal and I'm totally satisfied with the way it flows. I even did a wear-test out with some friends last week and made a few tweaks as soon as I got home (even with Buffalo wing sauce in my cuticles!)
This "Soup" created some great inspiration:
- I've come to love working with's been in most of my pieces in the last two weeks.
- I'm not afraid to deal with jump rings to hold things together
- I'm now willing to spend hours reworking designs, even if that means taking most of it apart!
- I dig blogging and all those folks out there who are doing the same thing!!

So, many thanks again to Lori and Julie and to all the other designers, artists, crafters out there who were part of the party!!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Bead Soup Party Reveal's Tomorrow!

I love my piece and I can't wait to show it here's a little hint so you'll be so excited to come on back tomorrow and see the whole thing!

But, what's more exciting is that there'll be party goodness on all of these sites and I'm going to see them all!!! If you're one of my non-beady friends or my family, you don't have to see them all but at least now you'll know that I'm not the only one who obsesses over stuff like this. haaaaaaaaaaa

1. Lori, Pretty Things Blog (Our Host)
2. Mallory, For the Love of Beads
3. Terri, Blooming Ideas
4. Cindy, Sweet Bead Studio
5. Lorelei, Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
6. Kerry, Kab's Creative Concepts
7. Erin, Treasures Found
8. Jeannette, Jeannette Blix Wire and Metal Jewelry (My first wire teacher. :)
9. Adrienne, Adrienne Designs
10. Nan, Spirit Rattles
11. Laurel, Rue's Daftique
12. Nancy, Beading From the Heart
13. Mary, MK's Creative Musings
14. Cassie, The Glass Beadle
15. Dot, Winchell Clayworks
16. Sharon, Sharon's Jewelry Garden
17. Lisa, Lo and Behold
18. Norma, Bead Dreams and Moonlit Fantaseas
19. Judith, Judith B.
20. Debbie, Prairie Emporium
21. Maria, Garden Path Beads
22. Susan, Kaplan Creations Jewelry and Glass Design
23. Melissa, Melissa Meman: Art, Love, Life
24. Marianna, Pretty Shiny Things
25. Lisa, Joolz by Lisa
26. Cristi, 2 If By Sea
27. Sandra, Marbella Jewelry Design
28. Maria, Greene Earth Originals
29. Barbara, Jewelry of Distinction
30. Leslie, Bei Mondi
31. Loretta, Designs by Loretta
32. Linda, Bella Bead Jewelry
33. Kathie, The Bead Cult
34. Patty, Plays With Fire
35. Nicki, Nicki's Reef
36. Anne Marie, Heart's Desire
37. Mary, Mary Harding Jewelry
38. Jayne, Mama's Got to Doodle
39. Emanda, Artemesia's Studio
40. Whitney, Whitney Lassini
41. Marcie, La Bella Joya
42. Suzann, Beadphoria
43. Jen, Jen Judd Rocks (Uh, you're here already.)
44. Julie, Credit River Art Glass (My awesome party partner!)
45. Janiece, J Birds Garden
46. Kate, Organic Odysseys
47. Laurie, The Mermaid Tale
48. Michelle, My Crazy Crafty Adventure
49. Sue, Sue Beads
50. Janeen, Wild Vanilla Designs
51. Nancy, The Rabbit Muse
52. Kristie, Artisan Clay
53. Regina, Regina's Writings
54. Tari, Pearl and Pebble
55. Lyn, Lyn Foley
56. Beth, Sunshine Daydreamz
57. Cathryn, Chile Cats
58. Emma, Fred Bean's Nook
59. Connie, Cetta Cheese Chatter
60. Juli, Jul's Beads
61. Julie, RockerJewlz
62. Libby, LibbyLeu and Glass Too
63. Melanie, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
64. Katie, My Life and My Beads
65. Zuleykha, Zuleykha's Polymer Clay
66. Rekella, Me But a Little More in Depth
67. Ricki, What's New at Ricki Voges Design
68. Lisa, Lucid Moon Studio
69. Jo, Daisychain Jewellery
70. Lynette, Rock Hill Designs
71. Lynne, Island Girl's Insights
72. Chas, One Woman's Haven
73. Ruthie, Rose Works Jewelry
74. Elizabeth, Turquoise Sky
75. Maire, Maire Dodd
76. Janet, Singing Woods
77. Eileen, Dorset Hill Beads
78. Julie, Miss Kitten's Jewels
79. Joann, Jo's Jewels
80. Patti, PJ Clark Designs
81. Mel, Kookie Designs
82. Erin, Every Heart Crafts
83. Dale, Flights of Fancy
84. Dee, Runako Designs


This month's Art Bead Scene Challenge is focused on a folk art painting of Luna Park, an amusement park that thrived in the early 1900's on Coney Island in New York City.

Luna Park
Vestie Davis (1903-1978) New York :: Oil on Canvas, 16" x 20"
American Folk Art Museum, bequest Gloria Bley Miller 2008.5.16

Luna Park's designer, Frederick Thompson said:

"Buildings can laugh quite as loudly as human beings. A beautiful but excited sky-line is more important in an exposition than the correct demonstration of any man's recollection of the fine points of Sir Christopher Wren's handiwork!"

Mind you, I got this quote from a website about amusement park history, so I can't testify for its veracity, but I still love the spirit behind it! I think little jewelry structures can laugh on their own, too! It doesn't take the wisdom and skill of a seasoned goldsmith to create joy and amusement. Case in point....

This is my entry for the challenge and this is the first time I created my own art bead! I made the pendant using polymer clay in my take of primary colors--the basis for all good amusement park decor. I spent hours working with different combinations and shapes, much to the dismay of my crappy clay/pasta machine which finally gave out...that's a whole other story that involves a happy ending in the form of a new machine ordered on Amazon. haaaaaaaaa

I hope you can share in my laughter over this piece that's ringing in the feeling of amusement parks, popcorn, lollipops, and the all-American summer experience. :)


Monday, February 8, 2010


Just what I needed this morning...Sunshine!

So, many thanks to my beadbud over at JBirds Garden for the sunshine this morning! It's my turn to pass along this little thank you for good blogness to a few of my faves...

- Credit River Art Glass - Julie's my Bead Soup Party Partner (the big reveal is in just two days!!)
- HMB Studios - Heather has been seriously snowed on this week!
- Purple Cactus Studios - Some of my new FAVE polymer clay work!!
- Pearl & Pebble - A new friend I met through the Beads of Clay color challenge...
- La Bella Joya - Marcie, another new friend I've found through the Art Bead Scene Carnival!

I think I was supposed to pass this along to 12, but just like anything, I'm happy to settle for finishing part of the project! haaaaaaaaaa

Here are the rules...
1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post
2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers (or however many you want! haaaaaaaa)
3. Link the nominees within your post
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award

Happy Monday!!!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Big Seven! (or Getting Published is Cool!!!)

The first time I saw one of my pieces in print, it was so exciting that I ran around my office (that's right, in the halls of the Pentagon) dancing overjoyed about it. I got back to my spreadsheets quickly, but that day was so wonderful!!

Well, this week I had a huge surprise and danced even more overjoyed around my Air Force classroom, much to the amusement of my class (who are all manly servicemen) because...I've had seven pieces picked up for publication this summer!!! Seriously! Seven!!!! In three different magazines!!

I was worried about blogging about the lovely moment when the contract emails came in because I didn't want to brag. But, I shared the news with a new and wonderful bead-minded friend and she said: Share! Share!

You might see these from Lisa New, for instance!!!

I want to share more than just my joy, I want to share a few how-to's about submissions that I've learned along the way from other blogs and magazines along the way. Whooo hoo!!! I'm by no means the expert, but still, there are a few things that I think are important:

1. Read the submission guidelines. There are due dates, which are the main thing, that are a lot earlier than you might think. So, you have to plan ahead. Right now, for instance, the deadline for Autumn/Fall designs is coming up for Interweave's Stringing magazine. (The link will take you to the contributors page where the guidelines are available to download.) There are also some styling hints that lead to what the editors are trying to convey through that issue. They can be a great inspiration when you start thinking about a design that might work.

2. Take good pictures. For me, this is the hardest part. Some magazines have options for emailing submissions and some even accept pieces that way, so you have to really let the piece tell its three dimensional story in just two dimensions. I wish there was some magic I could send your way if you need help, but in lieu of that I'm going to give you this link to Julie Nordine's Credit River Art Glass blog article on her photography "secrets."

3. Get in the habit of writing directions. It's all about breaking the process down into steps. Think of the steps you're taking along the way. Read the projects already in magazines to figure out the writing "formula" for a particular publication. Part of that formula is using the correct terms for types of beads, components or tools. I used to refer to most beads as just glass or stones or pretty, I'm much more descriptive with the size, shape, cut, color, type, etc. Plus, keep good notes on your sources. This habit fell in line for me with keeping better records for taxes, so now I can tell you where (almost) everything in my stash is from or who made it.

4. Do a little research. Do you know the color of the year? Do you know what's in style for the coming seasons? Okay, turquoise is the color, but I'll be the first to admit I'm not all that stylish. I wear a uniform to work, for crying out loud! haaaaaaaaa But, I'm much more aware of the Pantone color palette thanks to my friends at the Art Bead Scene. Also, what are the latest books coming out? For instance, Interweave's Chain Style just came out (and it's awesome, by the way). I looked there for some inspiration and tried some new designs using chain as a main component. Or, another trend: thrifty girls!! I tried making some less expensive designs using base metal components and I really love the results! Great for a reader, but also great for a customer!

5. Stick to your design esthetic. What makes your designs yours? I had some trouble with this one early on. I was so focused on making something that other people/editors would like that I didn't really love the end results! And, I want to love a piece if I'm going to see it in print! My designs often feature a variety of beads and asymmetry; but, that makes a design hard to write many sources, so many steps in creating the "mixed up" look in the end. With a little practice, though, now I can write those difficult projects on designs that are truly mine. As an example, A Walk in the Forest is a necklace that's truly mine but wasn't all that easy to write about.

6. Don't get discouraged. Sometimes you get picked and sometimes you don't. There are generally more of the latter for me, but the feeling of being part of the team just once makes it worth it!! haaaaaaaaaaa And, you just might end up with a hot streak in a chilly week in February like me!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beginnings: The Origin of My Obsession

Much like some of you out there, I have a room crowded with beads...some are nature's bit of stone or pearl, but many of them are handmade miniature bits of artwork. I watched Hoarders recently and laughed with my friends about how a lot of us have hoarding tendencies that we try to deny by putting things in organized boxes that we label nicely. If you saw my crafty room, you'd know that's the case for my growing obsession with all things jewelry-making: wire, metal, tools, paper, clay, more tools, and, most importantly the beads. Everything's in its place, so I don't have any problems, right? Haaaaaaaaaaa

As a challenge from my Art Bead Scene friends and a group of writers in the Carnival (which you'll find out more about on the 17th of February on the ABS Blog), I've been focused on "beginnings." And, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go back to the start of my bead obsession and share the work of my very first "art bead crush." I don't think Lisa will mind that I put it that way...haaaaaaaaaaa

I first found Lisa New's work on Ebay; she's the Beadamaniac! (with the exclamation point, which of course makes me like the name even more!!!) Having just learned my stringing basics, I was caught up in the joy that is bead shopping. I won my first auction and got the little box in the mail from was my first set and I couldn't stop touching them. The colors were amazing and I was enthralled by the etched could this be glass? How does this whole melting glass thing work? I finally got down to making something and ened up with this bracelet called "Jumble Love" which actually won a Beading Daily glass bead challenge! I was sooooo excited! The flames of my obsession were fanned!

I went back for more (and then a few more) of Lisa's beads because the color and patterns were just so fun. I bought a couple of lots of "orphans" which are the onesies and twosies that are left from a batch or set. They were perfect for my designs because I could draw color combinations and pattern ideas directly from the bead which would then be the focus of the designs. Here are some bracelets that grew directly from the palettes of the beads. And, note the crappy has taken me a long time to get any improvement in the way of photography. Another reason why I wanted to highlight Lisa is that she actually mentored me regarding my pictures...she is the first one who really made it hit home that no matter how gorgeous your piece is when you're wearing it around the house, it's not going to jump out of the screen or your portfolio with poor quality pics. You can check out her bead photography on Flickr.

I was happy with the orphans because I can work on different pendant designs that are fun, simple, and not all that time-consuming. With the "real job" going on most of the time, I really enjoy focusing on the quick rewards that a little pendant can give. Plus, it can feature the mini-artwork of an art bead perfectly. Like this one of Lisa's that was a one-off in my stash--I combined a little wire work and a funky collection of gems and glass that all work from the focal bead's inspiration.

Last summer, as the obsession continued, I was shocked and thrilled to see one of my necklaces featuring Lisa's "Feelin' Groovy" bead set on the cover of Stringing! Seriously?! Again, I followed the beads to the design and ended up with something really cool that, apparently, someone else thought was cool, too! haaaaaaaaaa
In the last few years, I've expanded the selection of artists in my collection, but I will never forget my joy over that first set of beads from Lisa. So, once the Carnival starts on the 17th, be ready...there's going to be a giveaway on my blog! It'll be my first, so we'll see how it goes...come on back to see the art bead delights from Lisa and others that I'm going to share with you!!! That proves I'm not a hoarder, right? haaaaaaaaaaaa
One last note...

I've got to give some shouts out to the other bead artists featured in the pieces above...
MaryAnn at Linden Avenue Designs does yummy colors.
Heather at HMB Studios is my go-to disk girl!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Metallic Goodness...

As part of the Bead Soup Party that I'm in the midst of, I've been experimenting with metal. Nothing too crazy, but I got some fantastic etched copper rings from my party partner, Julie Nordine that got me motivated. She's usually into the glasswork (and you can see some fantastic bits that she just added to her Credit River Art Glass etsy shop), but is trying out some different things with, why shouldn't I?

I hammered away on some copper washers. Then, I decided I needed some new hammers to add texture and I hammered away some more! I'm not going to show off these hammered bits yet, though, because I don't want to give away the secrets of my bead soup finale piece!

But, because I've been thinking outside the sterling silver box and trying some mixes of metal, including copper and some regular "bargain" craft wire, I focused on the metal beads on my last trip out shopping...

I picked up these vintage base metal beads right here in Montgomery, Alabama at the High Strung Bead Shoppe. They have a gorgeous patina plus they're all hollow so they're super light! Sherry has a huge selection of them, so I had to restrain myself, but I love this little bunch. And, the price was definitely right! Sterling silver will still be one of my fave materials, but I love having the different tones and textures these little pretties can bring to a design.

I really have to get busy making stuff instead of just taking pictures of raw materials. :) But, alas, I'm off to read about Desert Storm to prep for class tomorrow. Enjoy!


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Bedford, PA, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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