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.

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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?

A treat to me from Edie Cournoyer

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I treated my creativity with an altered domino from Edie Cournoyer

Sometime ago a FaceBook friend of mine, Edie Cournoyer, posted a tutorial on making altered art domino pendants. Now, if you’ve never heard of Edie, you HAVE to check her out. She is an absolutely enthusiastic, incredibly talented mixed media artist. You can find her YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ediebug7701

Anyhow, I’ve always liked the idea of the altered scrabble tiles and dominos, but they always seemed a bit tacky to me. Then, I saw Edie’s version of this fad and I knew that this is what I had been looking for. I immediately ordered an altered domino for myself and anxiously awaited it’s arrival.

Of course, this all happened while I was busy with custom orders for Christmas. So, when the beautiful pendant arrived, it sat on my desk, taunting me until I finally had time to play with it.

This necklace was so much fun to work with. I’d love to get my hands on another domino from Edie, but for now, I must move on to my next adventure. Perhaps I’ll work with the goodies I picked up from A Cute Bead, or maybe a Valentine project. We’ll see!

What have you been working on? Do you have a to-do list of someday projects?

A Visit to A Cute Bead

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Goodies I purchased from A Cute Bead in Menomonie, WI.

Goodies I purchased from A Cute Bead in Menomonie, WI.

There is exactly one bead store that is within a reasonable distance from my home. A Cute Bead has been open for eight years and, I am ashamed to say, last weekend was my first trip through their doors. It is definitely a cute shop with lots of variety and a bright personality.

I usually purchase all of my beads at wholesale prices, keeping my cost down so I can reflect the savings in the finished product. When I do go to bead shops, I end up purchasing items for much more than the wholesale price I normally pay. However, the experience of touching the beads and seeing the vibrant colors in person is so valuable to my creative juices. (Plus, I’m all for supporting the local small business whenever possible.)

To be honest, I went in hopes of finding a ‘Help Wanted’ sign placed conveniently in the window, just for me. Well, no such luck. In fact, I spoke to the owner for a bit and found that she is struggling to make ends meet. She is facing many of the same problems I had with my store… little traffic, small purchases, low class attendance. I wish I could offer a magic wand of beadiful success to her and her lovely business.

I did end up purchasing a few things from her. I got a small amount of cup chain for a semi-specific project that I have in mind, and I bought two colors of size 11/0 triangles. My subconscious bead brain is currently formulating an awesome reversible bracelet using these lovely triangle bits.

My best wishes go out to A Cute Bead in Menomonie, WI. It truly is a lovely shop with a delightful owner. I will make a point to stop in when I can, and I promise, I’ll do my best not to drool on the beads.

Thinking Outside of My Comfort Zone

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The completed necklace.

The completed necklace.

A lot of the pieces I do are custom orders. Recently I received a custom order for a Rihanna necklace using a photo chosen by the customer. I’ve heard of Rihanna, and was pretty sure she is a singer, but that’s as far as my knowledge of her went. I did a little searching in hopes that I could get a feel for the style required for this necklace.

First, I tackled the part I was comfortable with… the peyote chart.

2" x 4.25"

Next I attached the peyote swatch to a felt backing and added edging and fringe.

Fringe and Edging

Finally, I added the necklace straps and finished with a linked beaded chain.

Strands of seed beads begin the necklace.

Strands of seed beads begin the necklace.

Wrapped links and antiqued copper circles form the necklace strap.

Wrapped links and antiqued copper circles form the necklace strap.

Although this custom order fell through in the early stages of planning, I am glad I went through with the challenge.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from myself as I had never done anything this far out of my style zone before.

What I learned from this piece:  Show up at your passion.  Let it guide you.  Enjoy the ride!

Lesson learned from Diane Fitzgerald

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Diane Fitzgerald is the founder of the Upper Midwest Bead Society (UMBS) and is a well established and talented bead artist.  She has authored many beading books and often has projects and articles published in popular beading magazines.  She also teaches classes and gives presentations around the world.  I have had the opportunity to chat with and bead along side Diane Fitzgerald.  One of the conversations I had with her really stuck with me and changed my view on how I approach my passion.

At one particular UMBS meeting, Diane was working on the finishing touches to one of the projects that was going into her next book.  She told me that she often has other beaders try her patterns out to see if they are comprehensible.  In turn, I told her that I would love to ‘test-drive’ her patterns if she ever found herself in need.  (How awesome would that be?  Getting to create a Diane Fitzgerald piece before it was published, wow!!)  I consider myself fairly talented and can usually figure out a pattern with a few quick glances.  Diane’s pieces are all innovative and amazing, but none are particularly challenging for me so I felt comfortable offering help. 

Diane responded to my offer of help with a slight hesitation and, “Well, are you any good?”  I was slightly taken aback by her response.  Of course I’m good!  Doesn’t she know who I am?  Hasn’t she seen my work?  I can do anything she can!  But the fact remains that I haven’t done anything she’s done.  Of course she doesn’t know who I am.  Of course she hasn’t seen my work.

I feel so fortunate to have met Diane and had an opportunity to speak with her.  I learned so much in our few short encounters.  (Did you know that she tries to spend six hours a day beading?  I’m lucky if I can get in six hours a week!)  The most important thing I learned from her is that she is human, just like me.  She didn’t magically happen into beading fame.  She worked hard for her success and continues to work hard for it.

Although I have no desire to be as awesomely successful as Diane Fitzgerald (that would be way too stressful and scary for me), I do desire to have a slightly larger presence in the beading community than I have now.  This is going to be my year for staying focused and following through.  This is my year for working hard and earning my version of success.  This is my year!

Have you had the opportunity to meet someone you looked up to?  If so, what lesson or tidbit did you take away from your encounter?

Welcome to my blog!!

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For the new year, I decided to tackle the world of social media marketing.  I even bought a book, ‘Social Media for Dummies’, on the subject.  My plan was to read what needed to be done, find out the best way to do it, and do it all perfectly.  I was going to have well planned out, scheduled blog posts with beautiful photos and captivating posts.  I was planning on planning elaborate give-aways, contests, and challenges.  It was going to be wonderful!  Who was I trying to kid??  I don’t have time to read a million page book!  I am not an eloquent wordsmith.  I am not a techno-savvy person.  I am not a photographer.  And, most importantly, if I can sneak a few minutes of studio time, it certainly isn’t going to be wasted making sure my grammar is correct.

So, here I am, blemishes and flaws included.  When it comes down to it, my real goal is to share my love for my work with you.  If I were to wait until I knew what I was doing in the blogging world, I would never get to share.  So, bear with me as I learn the tricks of the blogging trade.

That being said, you can plan to see posts about projects I am working on, my creative process, and any bead-related events I might be at.  I’ll slowly work on fine-tuning my blog with photos and links to my online shops.  I’d love to hear any ideas you have for blog posts or even just ideas on how I can make my blog better for you!