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!

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.

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?

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?