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.

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.