Bead Retreat!!!

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About 11 years ago, I transplanted into a teeny tiny community that has ZERO art culture.  Sure, there are plenty of crafters, all of whom I adore, but my art and I don’t ever really seem to fit in here.  (Don’t get me wrong, I like the little town and there are some pretty amazing people here.)  Every once in a while, I treat myself to a trip back to my home state where people ‘get’ me.  Last weekend I was blessed to be able to attend a three day/two-night bead retreat in Annandale, Minnesota.

O. M. G!!!  It was soooooo much fun!  There were about 35 ladies, all with massive amounts of beads and gigantic quantities of creative energy.  The camp staff prepared all of our food and did all of our dishes, so we had lots of time to bead and some of us even took a little time to sleep.

I was able to finish a custom order, restock a Marilyn Monroe bracelet, learn a new stitch, make some super fun earrings, and almost finish a ruffle bracelet (it just needs a clasp yet).  Oh, and I worked up a few paper beads.  I also spent a lot of time ogling over other artists’ work.  The amazing talent in that room was incredible and inspiring.

Bead Retreat Projects

I’ll add more links to these items in a few days.

This retreat gave me a renewed sense of creative passion.  It also reminded me that I should never ‘settle’ with my artwork.  The only limit to my creativity is that which I apply.

Whatever your passion is, go renew it!  Jump in with both feet and your eyes wide open.  Explore new possibilities and stretch your limits.  Most of all have fun!

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To Blog, or Not to Blog?

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Once again, my personally set deadline for a new blog post has come and gone without a new blog post. My sparse free time makes me question weather blogging is really a good fit for me.

I enjoy blogging for several reasons. First and foremost, I enjoy blogging to share my new creations and to get feedback on my artwork. Not a lot of people get to see my work in person, so I like to put it on as many internet based communities as I can. Although I share my jewelry with ‘show-and-tell’ intentions, I run the risk of coming off as a salesperson pushing my jewelry onto anyone who might be in my path.

That being said, I also try to incorporate other tid-bits into my blog such as information on gemstones and little lessons I might have learned as an artist. I enjoy the challenge of learning new things and passing them on. I never feel stuck in a rut when I am striving for new and exciting.

I eventually would like to post tutorials for jewelry making techniques and perhaps for other interesting crafty things.  For example, I’d love to post a tutorial on how to do peyote stitch to go along with the peyote patterns I sell.

All of these things take time, and that is something of which I am continuously short.  “Experts” (whomever they are) suggest a blogger to post 3-5 times a week.  I have a hard time fitting in one post per week!  So, the question becomes, do I blog to share the things I’ve done and learned?  or do I skip blogging in exchange for more time to do and learn?  or perhaps I eliminate my goal of one post per week and only blog when mood, content and time align?

I’m looking forward to your feedback on this dilemma!

Lapis Lazuli and Sodalite

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Lapis Lazuli Necklace

On one of my gemstone buying trips, I had a list of colors that I wanted to add to my collection.  Blue is a very popular color for jewelry, but I didn’t have much blue available in my stash.  Naturally, blue was on my list.

Since I didn’t/don’t know a thing about gemstones, I chose strands based solely on their beauty and affordability.  I found this gorgeous strand of smooth, almost silky, blue chips.  I have a bit of trouble designing with chips, so I knew I needed something to go with them.  On a distant corner table, I was fortunate enough to find a strand of carved rectangle focal beads that matched perfectly!  The tags on the two strands were labeled differently – the chips were Lapis Lazuli and the rectangles were Sodalite – but since they matched so perfectly, I figured this stone must have multiple names.

It turns out that Lapis Lazuli and Sodalite are in fact two different stones, but they are often mistaken for each other.  Lapis Lazuli can be found in many places including Canada, Colorado and California.  It is sensitive to strong pressure and high temperatures.  Sodalite is also found in many places including Canada and Montana.  It often contains white veins from white calcite.  (Interesting stuff (yawn), I know!)

Although I’m not sure how I feel about the validity of healing with gemstones, I am fascinated by the theory and would really enjoy learning more about it.  I did find that Lapis Lazuli is thought to help with headaches, sore throat, sciatica, varicose veins, and blisters.  Do you have a favorite book about healing with gemstones?  I’d love to hear from you!

Life Outside of My Studio

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I always spend every spare moment I can muster in my studio, but sometimes there are no spare moments to be had.  Last week was one of those times.  My goal is to post at least once per week to keep myself motivated and let you know what’s been going on.  However, since nothing happened in my studio last week, I’ve decided to make a new category titled ‘Life Outside of my Studio’ (because that happens sometimes).

Last week was full of kids’ activities.  Tuesday and Thursday held basketball practice for my middle child.  She also had two games on Saturday and played wonderfully in both.  My son, the youngest, had Tae Kwon Do on Wednesday,  after which, the whole family went to a spaghetti dinner fund raiser.  The food was yummy and it was a nice break from cooking.  On Friday, my oldest had her first Valentine’s day with a boyfriend (I can’t believe she’s old enough for a bf already, yike!!).

To top off the scatter of three active children, I also hold a part time job.  I usually work about 18 hours per week, but last week they sprung 33 hours on me!  I appreciate the extra pay that comes with the extra hours… I just don’t care for the extra work that comes with the extra hours, lol.

Our smokehouse with 100 pounds of ring bologna.

Our smokehouse with 100 pounds of ring bologna.

And, finally, for the cherry of the week, my adoring husband surprised me with the task of making ring bologna over the weekend.  Yesterday we took 50 pounds of venison and 50 pounds of pork up to my in-laws house to grind, mix and season.  We then stuffed 100 pounds of ring bologna and are smoking it today.  It should be ready to be packaged and put into the freezers sometime this evening.

Looking back at the week, it seems like I squeezed in quite a bit of activity.  I successfully navigated children, work and home.  I even finished up my tax paperwork!  That being said, my mind is screaming for some downtime in my studio.  We’ll see what next week brings!

Don’t be Afraid of Mistakes

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Beyonce Peyote BraceletIt has been a long and busy week for me.  I didn’t have a lot of time for beading projects, but I was able to finish a celebrity photo bracelet of Beyoncé.  I’m not completely happy with the shading, however I’ve decided to leave it as it is.  Perhaps I’ll adjust the shading if I do another one.

As an artist, I know that I am probably my toughest critic (beside my mother).  I get disappointed easily when the vision in my head doesn’t transfer to the beads.  Even though the end result may be something to be proud of, if it wasn’t what I was expecting it probably won’t be one of my favorite pieces.

That being said, I also know that it’s impossible to make something that I am proud of if I am too afraid to begin.  Often times I find myself procrastinating on a project because I don’t know exactly how it will turn out.  If I don’t have a clear vision of the finished piece and a pretty good idea of how I will accomplish that vision… nothing happens, good or bad.

We can’t be afraid to make mistakes.  How should we learn if not by mistakes?  I tell myself over and over that time spent with my beads is never wasted.  Even if I spend hours trying to figure out a stitch only to throw the end result in the trash, that time was well spent.  How else would I learn that that particular stitch won’t work for whatever I was trying to do?  Every mistake we make should be cataloged in the backs of our brains into a master file labeled ‘Don’t Do That Again’.  My file is pretty big and many of the folders have several copies of the same mistake.

Always always always, show up at your beads (or paint, or yarn, or paper, or whatever) with an open mind.  Let your art tell you what to do.  If it doesn’t work out, great!  Now you know for next time!  But most likely, it will turn out to be a fine piece of work that is worthy of your pride.

Inspired by Vintage Vogue

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Prior to my new found drive for pursuing my beading career, I allowed my beading magazine subscriptions expire. I hardly took time to look at the magazines and almost never tried any projects or drew inspiration from them.  I found that I missed discovering the brightly colored pages in my mailbox and decided to renew my subscriptions, with one condition…

Vintage Vogue project by Jane Danley Cruz, Bead and Button Magazine, February 2014

Vintage Vogue project by Jane Danley Cruz, Bead and Button Magazine, February 2014

I told myself that I could only renew my two favorite subscriptions (Bead and Button and Beadwork) if I tried a new technique or drew inspiration from at least one project in each issue.  The February 2014 issue of Bead and Button Magazine has a lovely project by Jane Danley Cruz called ‘Vintage Vogue’.  Since my bead-embroidery skills could use some exercise, I decided to use this project to fill my quota for this issue.

Light Blue Hibiscus Flower Cameo Necklace with Light Blue PearlsI picked up some cup chain from A Cute Bead a few weeks ago specifically for this project.  I already had the other materials in my stash, and was able to sneak in a few studio hours to complete my version of this project.

I chose a light blue Hibiscus flower cabochon, silver and clear cup chain, and matching glass beads.  I wanted a little color and some additional texture against the cabochon, so I added a seed bead between each rhinestone in the cup chain.  Since I used seed beads in a different size than the pattern called for, I had to do some adjusting, ripping out, and reworking to get the peyote stitch bezel to lay correctly.  I started to make the Russian spiral rope, but then decided it wasn’t quite the look I wanted.  Instead, I strung some glass pearls and added a bit of ‘frill’ to the strand with some seed beads and am happy with the completed look.

Because of copyright laws, beading etiquette, and respect for the artist, I contacted Jane Danley Cruz and received permission to sell this design as my own.  However, I’d like to give her a huge ‘shout out’ for the inspiration and for getting me to try some new techniques.

Moss Agate

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Moss Agate and Brown Goldstone NecklaceI decided it was time to sort through my jewelry stash to find out exactly what I have listed on my website, and what is ready to be listed.  It was a fun task as I don’t always remember all of the goodies that have traveled from the depths of my creative mind, over my beading desk and into the completed projects bin.  In the midst of this project I found a fabulous Moss Agate and Brown Goldstone necklace that certainly shouldn’t be sitting in a bin for no one to see.

Now, I’m primarily a seed bead artist however, I do enjoy using gemstones and semi-precious stones.  I enjoy using those stones purely for their beauty.  I love the way the marbling and visual texture add a natural element to my pieces.  Admittedly, I the only way I know what any of these stones are called is by reading the label on the package.

Moss Agate and Brown Goldstone EarringsAfter finding this lovely necklace and earring set in my jewelry stash, I decided to do a little Google search to learn more about these beautiful stones.  I found that gemstones are not only a wonderful source of beauty, but they also hold deeper meaning and offer many healing properties.  Moss agate is the most powerful of the agates and helps balance emotional energy.

I’ve decided to order a book on gemstones to learn more about some of the beads in my stash.  Are there any particular stones that you’d like to know more about?