Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cooking Up Some Bead Soup!

It's a bit like stone soup, really.  Here is the premise:

The amazing Lori Anderson took sign-ups for exactly 24 hours and then paired folks together.  The rules are simple:
  1. You have to have a blog because this will all be a blog hop eventually.
  2. You must send a focal piece, an interesting clasp, and coordinating beads.
  3. You must send to your partner by a certain date. (March 14)
  4. You must create and blog about your creations on May 3rd for the blog hop.
Easy peasy(ish).  I struggled to create a soup, as I always struggle when it comes to things like this (Secret Santa, etc.).  I so desperately want the recipient to like what they get that I typically overcompensate by giving way more than expected.  This time, however, I wanted to follow the rules and still send a good soup to my partner.

I chose to send a focal that I made -- a cute birdie pendant that I was hoarding for myself but hadn't gotten to yet (typical).  I pulled colors from the pendant to coordinate in a couple colors.  I sent sent some pink and pink/white beads.  I also sent some blues (dark and teal), along with 2 silver clasps, some silver beads, some pretty pearls, crystal rondelles, and some lovely vintage chandelier crystals.  I was designing several different necklaces in my head as I put the combos together.  I also sent some chain and some lace.

My partner, Marybeth Rich, lives in Florida.  We exchanged a couple emails to get to know each other a bit before sending off our soups.  I worried the entire time my soup was in transit to Marybeth -- will she like it?  Will she be able to work with the pieces I sent?  How will my selections translate into her style?  Turns out she did like it! :)  I cannot wait to see what she makes, especially seeing as I was designing in my head.  It will be fun to see if she comes up with something similar, or if she makes something completely different that I wouldn't have thought of!  We are allowed to use the soup to make as many pieces as we want, and we are not limited at all as to what kinds of pieces we can make.

When I got home from my trip to Denver I was so excited to tear in to my box from Marybeth!

There is a lot of really unique and challenging pieces in this soup!  We have some rose quartz in there, along with some turquoise beads, fluorite chips, light amethyst crystals, opal facetted rondelles, aqua lampwork beads, lepidolite beads (lower left), and even some handmade pink paper beads!  Here is a close up of the TWO focals Marybeth sent to me:

The copper lampwork piece on the left is quite large -- bigger than what I am used to using, so it will definitely be a challenge to work with.  Looking forward to the challenge!  The blue piece on the right is ceramic.  I think I have a surprise for that one... ;)

Come back on May 3rd to see what I came up with!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Studio Time

I've said it before and I will say it again here, I am ADHD, and this definitely extends in to my work.  My space has to be clean and organized before I start a new project, otherwise I cannot focus.  This is difficult sometimes because being artsy/craftsy is a messy business, and when you have as much cra... er... necessary supplies as I do, well, organization can be a pain in the butt!  Not to mention that I dabble in so many areas that I have to have... er... NEED everything! ;-)  When we made The Big Move back in September, I spent, quite literally, months going through all my stuff and downsizing.  No, really, I did!  If you came to any of my sales at our house in Denver, you know that this is NO lie.  Let's put it this way... the first 5-6 friends that came to shop spent over an hour looking through it all and spent $500 on stuff, at garage sale prices!  So yeah, I purged.

If I could just focus on one of my interests, I'd need a lot less room.  But that wouldn't be any fun now, would it? ;-)

Anyway, I am working on cleaning and reorganizing today because I have shelves so full that I need to have bins on the floor, too, just to contain it all.  This is NOT working for me!  So once it is all contained and the room looks a bit better, I will share pics of my little studio and explain how I organize it all.  I know I am ALWAYS looking for easier, cheap ways to store/display my stuff.  That's the other unfortunate part of my obsession -- it needs to look nice, too!  Labels and nice baskets and all that... so hopefully by Sunday you will be treated to pics, and maybe even video (!!!) of my room with tips to a more organized space.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Thank You...

For the last few days I have been thinking about how I got here.  To this point in my life.  This is mostly because of the amazing opportunities that have presented themselves lately, but also because of the class I am taking with Melody Ross right now (link below).  Today, while running around town, I specifically was thinking about how I got here in my crafty life.  Where did it start?

Well, I always did like redecorating my bedroom as a kid, and I made Barbie house from scratch and had more fun doing that then actually playing with Barbie!  In Girl Scouts we did crafts here and there and I always enjoyed them, but by the time I got to middle and high school I had convinced myself that because I could draw, I could never be considered an artist.  In college I think I saw some TV show that showed how to decoupage, so I went out and bought some papier mache boxes, acrylic paint, and Mod Podge and went to work.  That was the first time I remember thinking to myself, "I can do that!"

Many years later, a friend and work colleague asked me to go to a scrapbooking class with her.  I was dubious.  I mean, what was I supposed to scrapbook?  Pictures of my cats?  I went anyway, and we loved it.  They soon opened and Archiver's near us, and we started attending their Friday night Scrapfest.  We both, very quickly, amassed a huge quantity of "stuff."  Pattern paper, brads, eyelets, ribbon (oh the ribbon!), rubber stamps, inks, markers, chalks, and a die cut machine -- first an old school Sizzix, then a Big Shot, then a Cricut, then a Pazzles.  My basement looked like a scrapbook store with all that stuff (mostly because I am Type A and must have organization).  

More recently I rediscovered a love for jewelry.  Well, I have always LOVED jewelry, but I decided to go back to making my own.  At the time I was a sales consultant (read: direct sales flunky) for a jewelry company who sold (and sells) lovely soldered shadow-box style pendants.  They are beautiful and can be worn on a variety of chains that the company also sells.  I didn't love the prices, however, and then I started seeing handmade versions here and there at craft fairs.  Finally, again, "I can do that!"  So I sought out classes to learn how.  Luckily for me I found an amazing teacher who does online classes (see link below) and after much practice (and swearing and burning myself), I not only make my own jewelry, I sell it too!

So this entry is a giant thank you.

Thank you to my mom and grandparents who just let me be, allowing me to build whatever came to my little head.

Thank you to Amy S., my college roomie, who got to deal with my Mod Podge messes in our dorm room during my senior year.

Thank you to Amy B., my dear friend and former colleague who not only re-sparked my creative spirit by taking me to that first scrapbook class, but also dug in with me, spending way more on supplies that we probably both still haven't used yet.  We spent many Saturdays in my basement, working away together!  She was also very good at humoring me when I did happy chair dances over things I made that I liked.  ;-)

Thank you to my husband of eternal patience, Jason.  Not only does he allow me to spend most of his paychecks on craft supplies (ha!), but he also dutifully tells me how cute everything is and tells me that I am talented, even though he knows I don't believe him.

It's pretty amazing to have so many people to encourage and support me as I walk this path! 

Melody Ross and Brave Girls Club -- The Walk

Terri Brush Designs -- Online classes and live classes

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Words

This is a really exciting blog post to write.  Today I spoke a phrase that I, so far, have only been brave enough to write.  Speaking these words made them very real, and made me think and rethink everything that I have gone through, that both Jason and I have gone through, in the last two years.  I’ll get to those words in a minute.

Two years ago, I was an elementary school teacher.  That was my identity.  I spent 50+ hours a week focused on my classroom and my kids.  Even when I wasn’t working, I dreamt about my kids/school, I shopped for books and supplies to make their learning more fun and fruitful, and planned units and lessons to spark their brains and creativity.  I loved my kids, each and every one, and thought about them all the time, especially the ones who came from “at-risk” home situations.  This is what teachers do – whether you realize it or not, we live our jobs so much that they become who we are.

When I decided to leave teaching (thanks to the powers that be, not the kids), I didn’t even think about a new identity at first.  It wasn’t until I started the next part of my journey that I felt somewhat hollow.  My new identity, as a shop owner, brought with it a bucketful of new challenges. – many that I couldn’t have ever anticipated, and when it got right down to it, I didn’t enjoy this new identity.  It didn’t fit, didn’t fill that hollow that needed filling up.  At least not entirely.

When the shop closed, I had no identity.  I shouldered a great deal of shame and regret and blame, and all of those horrible things became who I was.  I had a great deal of support from Jason and friends and family, but it wasn’t enough. 

As most of you know, we decided to move back to my hometown in Wisconsin last spring.  As I reflect upon that, I believe that part of my motivation was to reclaim an identity that felt comfortable.  Back in Milwaukee I can be a better daughter, and I can be a friend to people I have known for a very long time.  When we moved home, I started to feel better almost immediately.  I felt like I fit, and even on my worst day, at least I am home.

During that time I also decided to build a new identity for myself, and make no mistake, you do have to build it yourself.  I started to work on my crafty endeavors more than ever before.  Local crafty friends helped point me to shops and galleries to contact, and very quickly I was able to find a great shop to sell my jewelry and accessories.  It wasn’t long before I was spending 8 hours at a stretch in my craft room.  Hours would fly and I wouldn’t even notice.  Jason would have to come in and remind me to eat and to go to bed at some point (like 2 AM).  I realized that this was now my job.  I was creating, people were buying what I made, and I was making a bit of money.  Who knew?!  And this has become my new identity, the words that I spoke today:

“I am a professional artist.”

And truly, to have gotten here, after everything we have been through, I no longer regret a thing because I know every decision got me here.  Every hurdle I had to jump, every lesson that I learned, every tear, every moment when I thought I had hit rock bottom… they all got me here.  And yup, it’s all been worth it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are -- finally done with 2013.  It was a year of many ups and downs for us.  But I have hopes and plans to make 2014 much better!  To begin, one of my plans is to write every day, either here or in my journal.  I want to make this blog a resource people use, instead of just taking up space.

I've been a busy little worker bee, trying to make our rented house as much as a home as possible, so there is a lot of that coming.  I've also started working with Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint, on furniture and home decor, and am excited to share what I have done with it.  It is remarkably easy and forgiving, so if you have been wanting to paint a piece of furniture, I highly recommend it!  I am also evolving in my jewelry line, looking to expand my use of my soldering iron and torch, as well as working more with resin.

I am seeking out shows, locally and in other places, to get my work out to more people.  This is probably the hardest part of being a "professional crafter."  You have to have an awful lot of confidence to be able to put your work out there for others to judge, so this is and always has been my greatest stumbling block.

Lots coming... :)

Someone posted on Facebook that January 1, 2014 is the first page of a new book.  Here we go...

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Perfect Post

I think I suffer from something a lot of bloggers deal with... I worry about posting something perfect and worthy of you taking the time to read, which keeps me from posting at all.  Rather counterproductive.  So here I am, just going to post what I want to post, and hope that someone, somewhere enjoys it enough to read and come back.

So here is a bit of what I see on the horizon...
  • Moving tips (we just moved cross-country and learned a LOT)
  • Home d├ęcor ideas
  • Holiday/seasonal decorating ideas
  • Crafty tutorials
  • Product spotlights (mine and others)
  • Shopping posts
  • Haul videos
  • Random thoughts about life, house, love, family, etc.
  • Online classes
Rather than trying to build a blog that I think other people will like, I am going to build a blog that *I* like.  So welcome to it. :) 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Too Much

I've been thinking a lot lately about material things, and how much we have.  There is always something new and different (though really just a different version of the same old) that we think we "must have."

New is better!

More is better!

MORE!!!  MORE!!!  MORE!!!

The one with the most ___________ wins!!!

Maybe it's the fact that I am turning 40 this year, or maybe all the Brave Girl soul work I have done is starting to sink in, or maybe slowing down and spending some time thinking about my life and where I want to be/what I want to do is paying off... I dunno, but I am finally ready. 

We've done the "big house, 2 cars, expensive clothing/shoes/handbags" thing.  We've done the perfect house/Pottery Barn thing.  And you know what?  I am happier now then I ever was when we could afford all of that STUFF.  I realize now that trying to create this picture perfect world was what I thought I was supposed to do, what I thought others expected of me.  I suppose you could say that there was a certain appearance or status that was once important to me.

Now I am finally ready to do what *I* want to do, to be who *I* want to be.  So what if this isn't the life others want for me?  The people that matter just want me to be happy! 

So we have decided to significantly reduce the amount of "stuff" we own.  We are moving out of our 3-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home and into an apartment (until we can save up for a smaller condo).  Why I ever thought 2 people would need this much room is beyond me!  We are selling one of our cars, seeing as Jason and I both work from home anyway, and I am purging!

I have set a couple goals for myself for the month of June, and I hope you all will help keep me accountable. 

First, I am not going to buy anything that is unnecessary during the entire month of June.  I promise that I will not make excuses and say that something is necessary when it isn't. ;)  To be fair, I have a set of classes that I am taking, so if I NEED something for those in order to learn, that is a necessity, but things like clothing, shoes, etc. and even (gulp) pretty crafting supplies are not necessary at this point. 

Second, I am going to sell a bunch of stuff throughout the month of June -- furniture we need to purge will be put on Craigslist and the like, but this will also include the items that I sell on etsy, at fairs, and in the shops that have my work.  My goal is to "raise" $1000 total this month.  That money will be put aside as a nest egg for our eventual move.

Third, I will go through all of my crafting stuff and purge what I haven't used in the last 6 months.  I have already started a box to send to the Brave Girls Club for use in their art barn at camp.  Once that is full, I will ship it off and start a new one.  If I haven't used it in 6 months, chances are I am not going to!  My crafting interests have changed rather a lot in that time, and I am loving what I am doing now, so it is time to pass the old stuff on to a home where it will be loved and used.

Last, Jason and I really really really need to make a better effort to eat our meals at home.  We have gotten a lot better, but could still work on this.  Instead of going out, we need to make a menu, shop, and prepare food at home.  And if we really need to get out of the house (because working at home all the time can get old), we can pack up our lunch or dinner and take it somewhere to eat outside.

So there you have it -- my goals for June.  Someone pointed out the June is the half-way point of the year, so these are my 1/2 year resolutions, I think. :)

Do you have any 1/2 year resolutions?  What are they?  Why are they important to you?  No goal is ever too big or too small!