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A Blog Giveaway You Won’t Want to Miss!

June 14, 2011

I call this necklace FIZZ because all the cracks and bubbles in the focal bead look like they're spraying foam inside ... Now available on Etsy

 

Sure, this is the latest little necklace to hit my Etsy store … it sort of makes me want to watch Boogie Nights again, but maybe that’s just my shameless Mark Wahlberg devotion talking for me. “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates and you’ve got a brand new key …”

Ahem … in other news, I wanted to take a quick moment and fill you in on a bead blog giveaway that is just too good to miss. You know Lori Anderson, right? She is the generous genius behind most of the super-fun blog challenges that I’ve shared with you over the past year. Well Ms. Lori just got back from the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee and has a fantastic post about her adventure.

Best of all, she made a video while there that she shares with us (despite not wanting to). I don’t know about you, but I simply LOVE it when my favorite bloggers put together a video clip. It’s so cool to hear the voice behind the writing sometimes. Of course, don’t hold your breath for me to do something like that any time soon. I think that my WordPress blog has certain limitations in that department (at least the free version I”m presently using). Plus, I’m still not over the little “sound experiment” Isaiah shared with me a few months ago wherein he actually taped me singing to let me hear what I actually sounded like (in a nutshell, horrid).

Anyway, enough of me yammering on about the quality of my voice and Mark Wahlberg. Click here to visit Lori’s blog. Go take a look and leave a comment to enter a chance to win some of the goodies she brought back from the show. Her friend Cindy Wimmer is also hosting a similar giveaway, on her blog, so don’t miss that one either.

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When being a “MOM” also means becoming a “talent agent”

June 7, 2011

Over half a dozen new items complete and ready to list, and this Agate mixed bead necklace is the only think I can get on Etsy today.

So forgive me if this seems obvious, but how is it that the closer we get to the kids’ summer vacation, the longer it takes to get anything done? I feel like I’m trudging through my  life like it’s a swamp — without hip boots, thank you very much. Maybe it’s the weather, or the ever-increasing number of items on my “to-do” list, or all the end-of-school-year obligations for recitals, concerts, picnics etc, but I’m ready to throw in my sweat-stained tea towel and ask for a fresh start.

But how would that work exactly? What part of the summer might I be able to skip over? Already we have half of our weekends mapped out with various trips and celebrations. Maybe we could do without some of those pesky weekdays. Who can even concentrate on work when the weather is so hot I feel like my armpits are blowing steam every time I pull my hair back. (OK — sorry that was a really gross image). But just a quick peek at the bank account is usually enough for most of us to know we can’t afford to skip the work situation altogether.

That’s why, as near as I can tell in my stress-addled state, the only true solution is to hire out my kids as indentured servants of some kind or another. I’m not talking Oliver Twist here, just something for a few weeks to bring in some Benjamins. After all, if I can get them to pull a decent wage for 1/3 of the summer, we can can all take the rest of the time off. Eli is incredibly good at scooping dog poop. And though he’d rather I not point it out to the world in general, I think he’s rather handy with a hammer for a lad of his young years. Isaiah has recently tapped into the fine art of kid sitting, and honestly I’d say he’s pretty good at entertaining the troops. And of course, as I’ve mentioned more than once, he is now the tallest member of our household, so if anyone needs their top shelves reorganized by a 6’2″ man-child with a knack for decorating, I can set you up with some talent.

I’m sure I could think of some other hidden skills to list on the flyers that will soon be circulating around the neighborhood … Have a modest proposal of your own to share? I’m open to suggestions!

‘Cause I can quit whenever I want to ….

June 4, 2011

These agate "golfballs" were prominently featured in a necklace that was the hit of my trunk show ... next up ... GREEN!

Yeah, right.

Who among us hasn’t gone to a bead show with the best of intentions and found themselves going leaving a wee bit wild-eyed? Folks, I am fresh from about 4 hours of solid bead shopping and wanted to put down some thoughts to share with you right away before my nerves have a chance to settle (and I add up a the final damage).  Here then, in no particular order, is a list of 10 things that have recently occurred to me.

  1. I’ve recently fallen hard for those round, faceted agate beads that sort of look like mottled golf balls (see picture). Only today I bought some in a beautiful green because my friend Jenn has urged me to use some brighter colors
  2. Good deals on briolette beads were nowhere to be found — probably because I’ve been making chandelier earrings that require them
  3. When floundering, ASK — I never would have found the particular type of lentil Czech bead and 3mm Picassos I needed if I hadn’t had the extremely knowledgable Russian lady in the Czech and Swarovski booth helping me.
  4. Why did I eat that hot dog? I’m not really a hot dog sort of gal. Really.
  5. What good luck that I found more of those wonderful teardrop lampwork beads that I thought had gone out of stock everywhere forever because the mandrel they require is no longer made … at least that is what I’d heard.
  6. Top drilled pearls are especially pretty when you string seed beads in between. The effect is so very petal-like. I had bought several strands years ago during a big Fire Mountain sale but never knew what to do with them until recently. Today I stocked up.
  7. There is a place in the world for pewter findings. I’m not going to use them in my Etsy store, but why not use a few for classes and my own particular fun? Found a whole tube of “Pewties” (nickel-free) that look like little Hill Tribe nuggets (sort of). For $8.
  8. I’m finally over my labradorite craving. Don’t get me wrong — I still love looking at my own collection — but I was finally able to get through a bead show without buying some of those beguiling stones.
  9. After a full day of bead shopping at the Innovative Bead Expo, I’m here to tell you that there’s really no need to go to the Rock and Mineral show in the next town over (I wish someone had told me). But if you do go, be thankful you didn’t bring your 10-year-old son along because he would want one of EVERYTHING.
  10. I wish I had the common sense to really listen to my mother. If she had seen me headed out the door, I know she would have urged me to wear more comfortable shoes. Good thing this wasn’t the big Philly bead show!

I’ll post a few new “stash” pictures shortly — and if you happen to live in or around the Lehigh Valley, it seems there’s going to be another gem show happening next weekend at Jake’s in Barto … Maybe I’ll see you there!

I like LEMONADE!

June 3, 2011

And it’s a good thing, too, because sometimes I find myself with a lot of lemons. Take, for example, the little piece pictured above …

That little charm started out as something my friend Jenn could add to her beautiful new Byzantine chain maille bracelet (one of the many gifts she is now enjoying for having been such a terrific hostess for my trunk show). I had just received a new shipment of PMC silver and had decided to add some embeddable eyelet doo-dads to my order (there really is a technical name for them, but it escapes me right now). I was especially excited to try out the doo-dads because sandwiching a little wire on the edge of a charm is not especially easy, and affording room for a hole necessitates making everything larger than it really needs to be. This new product would allow me to attach the charm with a jump ring secured to the side of the charm (instead of through it).

Anyway, so there I was, torching my little charm for Jenn, carefully moving the flame around and around the piece to that it maintained a nice even glow, feeling a bit smug perhaps that I’ve finally gotten good enough with letter stamping to see all the initials she wanted on the charm lined up in a neat little row … enjoying the warm summer breeze coming in through the window, thinking how nice these last days of school are for the work-at-home mom … when I decided to fiddle with the control knob on my torch … it needed just one little adjustment … and then ….

I looked down just in time to see the edge of the charm begin to melt … and the cute little doo-dad hanging off the side started to waver and glow … and then it shriveled right up and disappeared into the side of the charm. Just like that, my work went from being the perfect charm to a little lump of silver with somebody’s initials in it.

A few choice words quickly followed and I was again glad that my children were at school and couldn’t hear me lose my cool so completely. And then I decided to ponder what might be done with it. A necklace! Jenn has an amazing collection of necklaces that never cease to inspire me, but she hadn’t picked out one of mine yet.

In my vision, I could somehow incorporate this little lump of initialed silver into a necklace for her, but I didn’t want to mess with glue. Instead, I tried my hand a fusing together a basket setting using a large jump ring and some 12 gauge half round wire. In retrospect, I wish I had filed the corners of the prongs a bit, but once I had the charm set there really wasn’t an easy way to turn back. To make the charm a stronger focal piece, I created a larger hammered frame and will hang the charm inside. 

There’s a local bead show this weekend, so I’m waiting to get some extra special beads there to finish this up for her. By the way … why is it that it’s possible to have literally thousands of beads in a box and still feel as if the “right” one is eluding me? That’s probably a topic for another posting. In the meantime, I’ll be getting out the PMC again to make another bracelet charm for Jenn, but I”ll sure to let you know what this finished necklace looks like as soon as I have it done!

The dog days around the corner

June 1, 2011

Our dear Stella, defender of the faith and motorcycle queen extraordinaire, sporting her doggles before a ride last summer

Last summer I was so impressed with a post from Kerry Bogert about all the fun things she had planned for her kids … never mind that she produces copious amounts of beautiful beads, a regular blog (http://www.kabsconcepts.blogspot.com), and a steady stream of top-notch book content. Every week for 8 solid weeks that family was going to have a theme, and everything sounded so very fun. Unfortunately for my kids, I’m not that kind of mom. Not only do my creative efforts seem to follow some very obvious fits and starts, my ability to plan anything beyond the occasional play date leaves much to be desired in the parenting category.

I try to reconcile that fact by considering myself spontaneous and funny, the kind of mom who would pack all the kids into a station wagon and head for the city, a place where I could introduce them to various ethnic foods, museums and film festivals … in my best aspirational moments I would be the adventurous, athletic mom who rises at dawn for a quick jog around the neighborhood and returns energized and refreshed, able to pack a picnic basket full of food before the kids are even out of bed so we can spend a day at the beach (even though we’re several hours from the shore) … I would even have the foresight to pack a bottle of vinegar (in case of jellyfish stings) and muster enough enthusiasm to play license plate bingo on the long drive to get there.

But the real truth is I’m the sort of mom who has trouble thinking that far ahead. Most mornings I’m more likely to be found in front of  a computer or muttering to myself at a craft table … around noon, if we’re lucky, we might head to the pool where I’ll spend most of my time reading a book on the sidelines … and as soon as we’re back home the adventure continues when I slip into a favorite pair of shorts and enjoy a vodka tonic on the deck before grilling dinner.

Fortunately, my kids (for the most part) seem to like the mom they have. I think the disconnect is just a short circuit in my own head when I get stuck in a moment, realizing how incredibly fast these summers go by and how quickly they’re growing up. Of course, I’ll never be able to fix THAT, so maybe I should learn to relax a little and let them do some of the planning instead. After all, they’re much more creative than I am at this point, and there is also some weird little part of my brain thinks maybe it’s OK for them to start thinking about taking care of me once and a while, too.  So let the dog days descend upon us. I’m ready! WOOF!

No, I’m not dead

May 31, 2011
https://gr8findings.wordpress.com

A little snapshot of my trunk show display, photo courtesy Jason Sizemore

But of course I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I was … six weeks is a long time to be out of touch in the blog world … but what an adventure I’ve had.

Sandwiched in between about 48 different concerts, field-trips, recitals and end-of-school year events with my sons, things were busier than ever in the “making new jewelry” department. In particular, I got to make a few very special pieces for some wonderful friends … a simple chain necklace for Joely’s first mother’s day and a byzantine bracelet for my friend Nola, who now lives in NJ but went to high school with me almost 30 years ago (yikes that makes me feel old).

And while Etsy and blogging has definitely helped me make some very good friends with a common interest in jewelry, it never ceases to delight me to make something beautiful for a friend from my past.

I was also in a frenzy making new items for a trunk show hosted by my friend Jenn (with a lot of help from my sister and our friend Jason). What a thrill that was! I was gobsmacked by the enthusiasm of everyone who attended and am still feeling a bit of a blush when I recall all the kind things that people had to say about my work.  Of course, the copious amounts of delicious wine probably helped, too. I’m deliberately not sharing the picture Jenn took of me at the end of the evening with a jumbo glass of Chardonnay, but you can probably easily imagine it.

And just this past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a wire working class to some other mom’s from my son’s school. They were such terrific students, and each of them created a beautiful bracelet and pair of earrings. Plus, during the class I overheard one mom say to another how much more she appreciated hand-crafted jewelry now that she knows firsthand what goes into it. They also had so much fun picking out different combinations of stones for earrings that I think I’m going to try to come up with another party format to try out ~ instead of purchasing finished jewelry, I’ll figure out a way for people to put together their own mix of beads for me to put together on the spot. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Anyway, now that all the parties are in the past tense (for now), I’ve got the task of putting some of my backlog jewelry on my Etsy store as well catching up on quite a bit of bookkeeping. Good thing the local bead show is next weekend! Will definitely let you know what goodies I find there ~ can’t wait!!

Thank YOU!

April 20, 2011

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Just a quick post to let everyone know that I’m sending another round of thanks and gratitude into the Etsy universe … This time it’s to celebrate how one year ago today I finally got up the nerve to list an item in my store. Who among us remembers that nervous feeling the first time you click the button saying you’ll pay your .20 cent, non-refundable dues to have your personal creation join the ranks of the Etsy realm? What a thrill, right?

Well for the next 24 hours I’m going to try to recapture that sense of excitement by having some of my favorite earrings (including the ones in this slide show) discounted 30%. It’s always fun to have a promotion like this going on, but knowing what this event symbolizes makes it all the more special to me.

Here’s to year two!!