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!

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!

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.

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?

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!