Monday, December 02, 2013

Going out of Business Sale!

Dear fans of Erthe Fae Designs,

Earlier this year I announced that I was cutting back on my business. Well, over the holiday weekend I decided it was time to stop selling jewelry altogether. Next year I will be treating dance like a full-time career, which will not leave me enough time to properly maintain my Etsy shop. Besides, after 15 years of selling jewelry on-line, I need to take a break and try doing something different with my life.

You can use coupon code BUYALLTHETHINGS at the Erthe Fae Designs Etsy shop for 30% off any purchase over $20. If there's something you like, act fast! I will not be renewing items as they expire.

Thank you to everyone who has supported my business over the past decade and a half. I hope you'll continue to wear and enjoy your jewelry for years to come!

Best wishes,
-AJ Reardon, Owner and Designer

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bellydance Costume

Sometimes I put my beading supplies and skills to work for my bellydance costuming needs -- although I would like to point out right here and now that I did NOT make all of that green seed bead fringe, because I hate doing fringe and that much would take forever and be really boring, since it's just one size and color of bead. No, I totally cheated and bought that stuff pre-made on eBay.

What I did, however, is add some extra fringe made with freshwater pearls, Czech glass beads and Swarovski crystals for extra visual interest. And I raided my chain supply for some nice looking copper chain. As for the pretty copper diamond medallions, those were sent to me by my beading and bellydancing friend SaraBeth. I'm glad I found the perfect project for them!

Someday I'd like to do a really intricate beaded belt and bra set, even though that's not really the fashion for my style of bellydance. I just think it would be awesome to make one. But for now I have a lot of easier dance costume projects in the queue ahead of that idea.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nancy Dale Style Wrap Bracelet

This neat wrap bracelet was made from a pattern by my friend Nancy Dale. Not only is she a sweet person and an amazing designer, but she's obviously a smart cookie to come up with such a clever and attractive way to use a variety of stray beads. This is the perfect project to use up things you only have 4 or less of, and also a lovely way to showcase a smaller lampwork bead, as I've done here.

In addition to the lampwork by MZGlass, my bracelet is made with Japanese seed beads, two-hole Czech beads, Swarovski pearls, assorted Czech glass, and some beads that are either tiger's eye or brown cat's eye. I love it because it's sparkly, but also kind of casual so it's easy to throw on with a pair of jeans or a sundress.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rick Rack Mountain

It is time to get caught up on posting my recent beadwork! This is a double rick-rack piece based on the design in Contemporary Geometric Beadwork. Kate McKinnon took the photo (my photos are never this clean and clear). It's woven from Delica beads and tipped with tiny Swarovski crystals, and has a gorgeous green silk ribbon running through it. The colors remind me of lush green mountains with a blue waterfall spilling down them.

I like that I was able to use some nice emerald green colors in this one, in fact I think this was the first piece I made when I decided to put emerald in everything this year. By the way, as you will see when I post more of what I've been working on, I have not been sticking to that plan.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Thanks Kate!

I woke up in a bad mood this morning, because I didn't get enough sleep and for some reason I immediately started thinking about things that annoyed me. Then I saw some annoying stuff on Facebook. Then there wasn't anything decent to eat for breakfast. But THEN, Kate McKinnon suggested that I come over to her place so she could photograph my "Crooked Muse" hornwing bracelet and we could take a dip in the pool because the weather was perfect. Things just went uphill from there!

Kate took some really lovely shots of my bracelet from all angles. I love how magical it looks against a clean white background! Plus she said lots of nice things about it, and then when she posted it on the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork page on Facebook, lots of other people had nice things to say. So my ego is good and stroked.

And it really was the perfect day for a swim. Not too hot, not too cold, sunny, gorgeous blue sky. I managed to stay in just long enough to cool off and relax, but got out in time to avoid a sunburn (of course I sunscreened, but I am oh-so-pale). I'm still tired, but I'm not at all cranky!

By the way, I mentioned earlier this year that I was going to try to work only in shades of emerald this year, and while this bracelet is definitely teal, there's emerald in it! The main color is DB1764 Aqua/Emerald Lined AB, and the size 11 accents are emerald iris. I've got two dresses in this exact shade of emerald-teal and I've seen a lot of things that color in the stores, so it's a hot one right now. I suggest you all bead something in this color.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Slowly closing up shop

So here's the thing: I love making jewelry, but not as much as I love dancing. And because there are only so many hours in the day, and even less hours in the day that I can spend with a needle and thread in my hands either making jewelry or making costumes, I am in the process of closing down Erthe Fae Designs. At almost 15 years in business, it's been a good long run, but it's time to move on. Here's what this means:

1. This blog will still be around, because I'm still beading for fun.

2. My Etsy shop will still be around because I have a lot of jewelry to sell still, and beads to destash. In fact, you can currently use code "BUYALLTHETHINGS" for 30% off any purchase over $20. This even includes the stuff I already discounted.

3. I will not be vending at any more shows.

4. I will probably not be filling any custom orders. If you have an idea and I really like it and I have the beads for it, I might do it. But if I have to order additional supplies or it doesn't inspire me, I'm not going to do it.

5. I still have a gajillion beads, so I will still be creating. If you've been accustomed to receiving jewelry from me as gifts, or as donations to your events, you'll probably still get jewelry and it might be even nicer than before because I'll have more time to make things for fun and friends.

6. I'll still be hitting the Tucson gem shows, because I still love beads and beaders. But now that I won't have to stock up on supplies for my business, I'll be able to really focus on buying awesome artist-made beads and cool vintage beads and unusual stones.

Of course, the funny thing is that since I made this decision, I've had to turn down some business opportunities that would have thrilled me at this time last year. But I'm still confident that I'm doing the right thing. Dance is my passion, and since I've started working on becoming a professional, I haven't had the time to dedicate to running Erthe Fae Designs properly.

I'd like to thank all of you who have supported my business over the years, and I hope you'll still keep an eye on my shop, as I have a backlog of things to list and I'll still occasionally list new things as I work on using up my bead stash.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My brother rocks!

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I come from a family of makers. Off the top of my head, here's a run down of what we do:

Mom -- Cooking, baking, sewing, cross stitch, polymer clay, painting, making teddy bears.
Dad -- Building, drawing, painting, polymer clay, once he put together a plastic model of a skull and reconstructed a human face over the top of it.
Me -- Beading, polymer clay, dance costuming.

(This is not even counting dance, music, and other arts that don't result in a physical object)

Until recently, all I would have said about my brother is that he was good at welding, in fact, he does it for a living. But then he decided to take up leatherwork, and wow! He's taken right to it. He made that belt I'm wearing! There's some more bottles around the front, and the pouch and absinthe bottle are both removable. It rests perfectly on my hips, or can be worn around the waist if the costume demands it. The leather edges are perfectly smooth, the dye is even, it's totally 100% professional looking. I'm so proud of my little brother!

This is the part where I shamelessly plug his shop, Zolgar's Forge on Etsy. He has a lot of steampunk and Gothic designs, and a little bondage gear among other things. He also does custom work. So, y'know, if you're looking for something made of leather, check him out. He's awesome!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A couple more clearance items

I'm still marking things down! You can get The Hungriest Pixie Ever for only $60 (previously $75), and Moonlit Seductress has been marked down to $100 (regularly $125). Two beautiful, one of a kind fantasy necklaces that are really overdue to go live in a new home.

Expect more destash beads coming soon, too. I'm busy cleaning the bead room (aka the guest room) in anticipation of my mother-in-law visiting next month, and I'm finding lots of things that need to go on Etsy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

On My Beading Tray April 12th Edition

It's been a while since I did an "On My beading Tray" post! Here's my current project... still beading away on my rick-rack bracelet! But I only have a few rows left, and then I decide how to embellish and fasten it. I think I'm going to thread a ribbon through it, and there may be some 2mm crystals involved in the embellishment stage. We'll see.

I'm glad to be almost done with this piece. I want to be able to wear it already! And also to start making something else. I have so many ideas waiting for me to get around to them, so many beads that need to be used up.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Clearance!

I am running rampant through my Etsy shop, slashing prices left and right. Unfortunately I can't afford to offer huge discounts -- I use high-quality beads in my work and I need to get a little something for my time, too. I've always priced my jewelry about as low as I comfortably could to start with, because I want people to be able to afford what they love. I mean, if I could never buy my own jewelry, how could I expect anyone else to budget for it?

But I have been making discounts of $5 to $25 on the following items:

Snow Angel Lariat Necklace
Luck in the Wind Hamsa Feather Earrings
Fractured Tribe Statement Necklace
Malachitesque Spiral Necklace

There's a lot more that I want to discount before the week is done, so if you've had your eye on something and I haven't marked it down yet, don't hesitate to drop me a line asking about it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Clearance Sale Going On Now!

 Yes, much like all the big retailers that have been inundating our in-boxes these past two months, I too am having a Spring Clearance Sale! You see, I recently came to a conclusion: I have too much jewelry! I know, I know, it seems like that shouldn't be possible, but when you start to run out of nice safe places to put your jewelry stock, and there's no room for more storage, you come to realize that you need to either have a clearance sale or build an addition to the house. And since I'd really hate to be in the middle of construction when my mother-in-law comes to visit next month, it looks like clearance sale it is.

So let's have a quick look at how you'll be helping me by taking part in my Spring Clearance Sale:
1. Help me clear out some older jewelry.
2. Make room for exciting new jewelry.
3. Save me from needing to build an addition.
4. Help fund my trip to Tribal Fest next month, which means in addition to supporting me you'll be supporting the vendors at TF and the local small businesses in Sebastopol CA where I will be shopping and dining.

How can you resist?

I've kicked it off today with three freshly marked down items. Above, my Autumn Flier Butterfly Necklace with retro color scheme and enameled pendant is marked down to $30 from $35.
Keeper of Mementos Faerie Locket Necklace is now only $40, down from $50 and still includes matching earrings.
And the Ice Crystals Spiral Necklace (which would be perfect for your wedding day) has been marked down from $70 to only $60, a great deal for a beadwoven necklace with vintage crystal accents.

Stay tuned for more markdowns!

Monday, April 01, 2013

First Mondays -- Support Artists!

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel posted a brilliant idea today -- On the first Monday of the month (like today!), treat yourself to something created by an artist. It can be small or large... purchase a single audio track or an original painting, whatever your budget can handle. I think this is a perfect idea because I have a big list of Etsy favorites that I'll purchase "someday." Well, why not make the first Monday that someday?

I'm not sure what I'll buy today. Probably something small because I just supported a couple of artists at the Ren Faire yesterday. Maybe I'll buy some music or an indie book, or a little something for my hair (I always need more hair things).

And of course, if the first Monday doesn't work for you, just honor the spirit. Choose that one day a month where you treat yourself and support the arts. And let me know what you buy so I can oooh and aaah appropriately!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Button stash!

OMG I just learned I can make my blogger pictures bigger! This changes everything! Well, not everything, but you know, my blog posts will have bigger pictures now so that's nice.

As promised, here is a picture of the majority of my jewelry-making button stash. There's a bit of an overflow in another box, and every time I think I have them all put away I find even more, but this should be just about all of them. You can see that I have a very nice variety of colors, even colors other than green. There's glass, metal, plastic, shell, and ceramic, vintage and new, mass produced and artist made, simple and quite fancy.

Of course, my favorites include the two translucent green insect buttons that I bought on my vacation to Washington, and the brilliant gold and green insect button that I bought from Nikia, and the shiny blue dragon which might also be from Nikia. The truth is that I can't remember where I got most of these buttons from because I buy them at all sorts of places. Quite a few have come from bins of mixed buttons that have to be dug through to find the best treasures, some are new Czech buttons that I've purchased from different gem show vendors. There's some Etsy purchases, lucky finds at fabric stores, and even some culled from old button jars.

By the way... you may notice that I said this was my jewelry-making button stash. That's because I have a smaller collection of buttons with holes for use on garments. Eventually I'll learn to sew and use them for that, but in the meantime I often replace the boring plastic buttons on clothes with pretty vintage ones. Oh, and there's also the pile of Turkoman buttons that I put on tribal bras and other dance costuming. I just can't get away from buttons!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Back to destashing!

I'm doing some spring cleaning on my bead collection, tidying up and reorganizing and rediscovering things that I forgot. This is also serving as good inspiration to list some of my excess beads on Etsy! I have entire hanks of Czech glass leaves that I really only need one or two strands of, so it's time to get them listed again.

I started with these grape leaf beads because I think they are just perfect for Summer designs. Such a nice clean, crisp color!

There are more leaves and other shapes of beads coming soon, so keep an eye on the Destash Beads section of my shop.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nautilus Bracelet and Button Love

I love these little nautilus buttons from Green Girl Studios. They're just the right size to be a clasp for a small bracelet, and just the right combination of creepy and cute.

Cthulhu in a Shell spiral bracelet is another piece that I worked on during Wild Wild West Con. The pewter and pine green color combination is nicely squidgy, I think and perfectly compliments the button. I'm pretty happy with the close-up picture, too. Macro mode and I were playing nicely this week! I hope that having clearer pictures of the lovely buttons on my beadwoven bracelets will help Etsy shoppers see just how special they are.

You see, I don't just use buttons as clasps because they're convenient, I use them because I feel that they add to the character of a piece. I love to sort through my collection and pick just the right one, and more than one project has been changed or outright abandoned due to my inability to find a button to match the beads I had chosen. Buttons are serious business!

I think next week I'll post a picture of my collection and discuss some of my favorite types of buttons.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Created During WWWC

I created this crystal bracelet during Wild Wild West Con. I suspected there would be some down time, so I made sure to pack a few bead projects. I love the rusty color of Indian Red Swarovski crystals for steampunk beadwork, and they're perfect with bronze iris seed beads. The star clasp gives it a nice Victorian air. I call it Star of the Machine Age. I know the Victorian era wasn't called the machine age, but I think it would have been in an alternate history where mad scientists made steam-powered devices, don't you?

Anyway, much of my time at the convention was spent either beading or dancing. One of my favorite memories of the show was when I was hanging out in the booth with my brother's girlfriend, and we were both dancing along to some Beats Antique that was coming from the bellydance show on stage, and a man in the aisle was also dancing a little bit outside our booth. So I said "Come on! This is the dance party booth!" and he got really into it and danced his way in, and we were all rocking out... until the song ended. Then he looked really embarrassed and shuffled away!

Well, random dancing guy, there was no need to be embarrassed. We all get carried away by the music sometimes, and any booth that I am in is a safe space for dancing. No judgement, my friends, no judgement!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Review

 It's finally here! Well, actually, it's been here for over a week and I'm finally blogging about. Let me start by saying that this isn't really an unbiased review, since I've been popping over to Kate's house periodically to bead along with Jean Power, drop off beadwork to be photographed, ooh and aah over the contributions coming in from various beaders, and bellydance at her gem show party. So I've been a little involved. In fact...

 Look! I made that! Squeee! My 2mm crystal adorned olivine green Power Puff bracelet is in the triangles section.
 And what am I working on first? A rick rack bracelet! I need to master the rick rack technique before moving on to some of the other projects in the big, so I decided to make a nice big double-sided one, though mine won't be a bangle because I didn't feel like futzing with sizing. Because emerald is the 2013 color of the year according to Pantone, I decided that everything I make for the next little while will involve some shade of emerald green instead of olive, which has allowed me to explore with different secondary colors. This one has pale mint green, sky blue, and an edging of robin's egg blue which you can't really see in these pics because I was only a few beads into it. Anyway, the robin's egg was part of my pre-order swag so it seemed only fair that I use it in the first project I did from the book.

As you can see, I have been moving right through this zig-zaggy bracelet. Between the instructions and the diagrams it was pretty easy to get it started, even with splitting my time between beading and watching a DVD. The spiral binding means I can lay the book open on the arm of the couch and consult it as needed.

Spiral binding is just one of the things that separates this book from more mainstream bead book offerings. Another is the honest, conversational tone about topics like thread and needle preferences. There's no sanitized generic terms here, the book discusses actual brands so you know what to actually look for or avoid. This chatty tone continues throughout the book. There's a lot of text, making it a bead book you can actually READ!

As you can see, the photos are nice and clear on white backgrounds, so you can really see what an entire project looks like. I mean, I enjoy taking macro shots like the one above, but it's less than ideal for showing the whole of a piece and helping you decide whether you want to make it. Likewise this one below:
Great detail shots are ideal for selling beadwork on-line, but not really for beading books. Give me the full picture so I can really see what I'm making and know what it looks like.

Although beginners could do some of the projects in this book (and work their way up to the rest if they're good at going in order), I feel like it's best-suited to intermediate and advanced beaders with a love of beadweaving and thinking for themselves. There's some basic technique and a good amount of projects, and also photos of other peoples' projects and discussions of what they did differently, without actually stepping it out. It serves as a springboard for designing your own work -- which you can then send pictures of to Kate to see if she wants to include it in Volume 2 (by the way, since I do live just around the park from Kate, I've already seen some of what will be in V. 2 and I have to say it is AWESOME work. Lot of clever beaders out there!).

To learn more and/or order your copy of Volume 1 or pre-order Volume 2, visit the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork blog.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some gem show goodies

If you're looking for proof that I haven't quite been myself lately, you need look no further than the fact that it is past the middle of March and I am just now posting some of my gem show purchases. Shame on me!

This isn't quite all of the focals I bought, but it's what came to hand when I decided to take a picture today. There's awesome new lampwork by JC and MZ, raku by Mak (who is so awesome that she came to my bellydance performance while she was in town for the show!) and two labradorite cabochons by... uhm... some guys from Mexico? Every single one of these things is prettier than it looks in the picture.

Happily I've already been making use of some of the beads that I bought at the shows this year, mostly seed beads, Delicas, and some crystals. I'll post pictures of what I've been working on as I try to get back to a regular blogging schedule.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WWWC Wrap Up, and The Future.

I'm not going to lie to you... Wild Wild West Con did not go as well as I had hoped. In fact, it really didn't go well for me at all and I did not make a profit. This has been the third vending event in a row that has seriously disappointed me, so I am taking the rest of the year off from shows. They simply don't work for me. I spend the weeks leading up to them setting aside other things (dance, updating my Etsy shop, socializing, etc) so that I can make lots of new jewelry and get everything ready, then I sit all day (or weekend!) in a booth for next to nothing. Not to be a total downer, but it really sucks.

This has strengthened my resolve to put my focus this year in beading for beading's sake rather than for business's sake. I am tired of chasing after trends waiting for the one that will actually make me some money. Forget that. There are easier ways to make money. Ways that don't carry the sting of rejection when they fail.

I will be having a couple of Open Houses this year, as I actually made money hosting one of those, and I will be keeping my Etsy shop open, but for the most part I will be spending my bead time exploring embroidery and weaving, making things without caring whether I can sell them. Expect to see more big, elaborate, expensive pieces in the shop and less $10 earrings. I'm excited to see what I make with this new-found freedom, and I hope you're excited for me, too!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

WWWCII Preview!

It is hard to believe that the day after tomorrow, my brother and I will be setting up our booth for Wild Wild West Con II, Tucson's premiere steampunk convention. I do not feel nearly ready. I need more jewelry! But here's a preview of what I've been working on, from left to right:

Larvikite cabochon embellished with Swarovski crystal sequins and Japanese seed beads, accented by a tiny black enameled key, hanging from a strand of more larvikite.

Vintage key suspended from a strand of roughly faceted chunks of labradorite, tiny freshwater pearl disks, and smoky quartz.

Pewter winged skull (inspired by vintage gravestone imagery) at the center of a strand of Czech glass and Swarovski crystals.

Black stone cabochon embroidered with Japanese seed beads, accented by a key pendant, strung on a black and gold ribbon.

And wow, is that background way too busy! I remember now why I don't use it for product shots.

Friday, March 01, 2013

False Friends, True Friends

There's a story behind the lapis beads in this necklace. Many years ago, I had two different friends who I met through a video game. Each decided at around the same time that they wanted custom necklaces from me. One wanted to pay for part of it and do the rest in trade, the other wanted to pay the full price. Each gave me a budget and I stayed well within that budget... But because I was young and naive in the ways of business, I didn't charge either of them a deposit... They were my friends, right? I could trust them, right? Well, the first friend paid the money part of hers and I sent her necklace... and never received my half of the trade. The other friend just never paid me the money, so I never sent him the necklace. Both friendships faded not long after that.

To me, the most frustrating part was not that they didn't uphold their end of the bargain, but that they just left it hanging there. No, "Oh, my hours got cut at work, I can't afford it now" or "My idea didn't work out, can I pay you the rest or make something else?" I felt like true friends would have been honest about their inability to pay/trade, instead of letting our friendship die over a small business matter.

Anyway, I've had that lapis necklace ever since. I took it to a couple shows, but not to my most recent ones and it wasn't listed on Etsy. I kept meaning to cut it apart and make something else but never felt inspired... Until my friend Inara asked me to find her some tribal jewelry at the gem shows. I failed to find any kuchi jewelry at the show I went to, but there was this beautiful Tibetan pendant set with lapis and turquoise for a great price. And finally I knew what to do with the lapis... Use it to make something beautiful for a friend!

These beads have gone to waste for years, long enough that I can't remember the names of those two friends, or even their on-line handles. Those facts have been pushed out of my brain to make room for more important people. And now that the necklace has been repurposed into something better and isn't sitting on my desk anymore, I think that incident will fade to a distant memory, too. I hope Inara loves her necklace -- she might even have it in hand now. I know it's going to look great on her!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crystal Restringing Project

It's kind of weird to get back to normal blog posts after what I wrote this weekend, so I'm going to ease into it by blogging about things that I've made for friends (and for myself?) before getting back to business.

My friend Fonda asked me to restring/lengthen three vintage necklaces that belong to her mother, and also to swap out the clasp for magnetic ones so her mom can fasten them herself. Now, I don't normally do this sort of work because I don't have a big stash of vintage beads and clasps and the right sort of stringing material, but she wasn't worried about authenticity, her mom just wanted to be able to wear her necklaces again.

Two of the three were easy-peasy, because they only needed a couple of inches added and I happened to actually have the right beads on hand. But this last one... Well, it's the only thing her mom has from her great-grandmother, and it had been broken and restrung with whatever beads they could salvage for years, until it had shrunk down to this tiny 12" necklace with a chunk of icky plastic beads in it. Those poor vintage crystals!
I kind of hate that I had to use modern beads on this, but I figured since I was already putting a modern magnetic clasp on it, I might as well go with something that I could easily get more of in case it ever needs more repairs. I added Czech firepolished beads in two sizes and and Chinese crystal rondelles, all in crystal AB to match the vintage beads. I feel like it still has that elegant vintage look, but now it's long enough for her to wear and easy to take on and off with the magnetic clasp.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I used to use this blog to record my thoughts, and I'm going to go down that path again, at least for a day, because this seems to be the best forum to record my thoughts.

Last night I found out I'd lost a friend. We'd never met in person, and rarely spoke over the phone, but there were times we spoke every day via long, rambling e-mails about everything under the sun. This is the power of the internet: it introduces you to people you never would have met otherwise, allows you to form close friendships, and then lets you suffer the pain of watching that friend's health deteriorate while you're too far removed to do anything more than offer the occasional well-wish.

You may be familiar with my friend Marilee. Some of you knew her from the AOL bead board where we met. Some of you may have encountered her on All About Beads on Delphi. You may have known about her work for LL-BFAC. Perhaps you knew her on one of the many science fiction forums she was part of. Or maybe you just saw her posting on this blog with the handle "mjlayman" (or "Anonymous" when OpenID wasn't working). It was because of her desire to post here that I realized I should enable OpenID in the first place.

I met Marilee on-line when I was around 16 and first joined the AOL bead board. I don't remember us being especially close then, but we did have a love of SF/F in common, so we spoke occasionally, and when I went through a tough life experience, she was one of the people who sent me encouraging notes. When things on AOL went south we were among the group that moved elsewhere, so we still kept in touch, and we must have exchanged the occasional e-mail, though I don't remember much about them.

Then one day, she sent me a link to an article called something like "The Ambassador and the Bellydancer" and it was about a diplomat's relationship with a dancer. It was a pretty long article. I responded to a few points that I found interesting. Somehow this set off a chain of e-mails that continued until her recent hospitalization. When things were good, we e-mailed daily. When she was ill or I was busy or out of town, days or weeks would go by without anything more than a quick message explaining the delay. But once things got back to normal, we'd pick up where we left off.

I talk to different friends about different things, based on our shared interests and the depth of our relationship. Some friends are just dance, some friends are just beads/jewelry, some friends are just general life stuff. Some friends I go to when things are bad and I need someone to care, others I always keep things clean and light. Marilee was the rare sort of friend who I felt I could talk to anything about. Some older friends are like a surrogate mom, nurturing but sometimes too much so. Not her. She was one of my older friends who I considered more like a cool aunt. I think everyone needs a friend like that -- someone who has more life experience than you, and cares enough about you to give you some advice, but also doesn't have a parents' need to guide and protect.

It's hard to decide what else to say about Marilee. I could talk about her love of her cats. I could talk about how she used to sell Bali silver beads on eBay and how every package came with a tiny origami crane tucked in. I could talk about how she would send packages out of the blue... maybe some beads that she knew she wasn't going to use, maybe a book she thought I would love, maybe some Pocky because she saw it on Amazon and remembered that Chris and I liked to snack on it. Apparently she was that way with many friends. One time she purchased a necklace from my shop and had me ship it anonymously to another friend of hers who was going through a rough patch.

She also bought several pieces of my jewelry over the years, when she saw something that caught her eye and had the funds. I have no idea what will happen to that jewelry now, but I hope it falls into the hands of a friend who will love it as much as she did. Maybe someone who knew her in person and will have happy memories of seeing her wear it.

Thanks to the Internet, I had a good friend for over 14 years (even if we didn't know how good of friends we were for the entire time). And thanks to the internet, I have piles of old e-mails that I could read, and sometimes I might go back to a post on this blog and see her name. It's going to be a long time until I fully adjust to her absence. I know I'll be reading a book and think "I should tell Marilee about this", and I know my in-box will seem so much lonelier without her, without stories of silly cats and new recliners and doctors who don't listen and what the book group is reading this month, and oh, the endless links from the Washington Journal... News pieces, editorials, fashion spreads with poorly-done beadwork, she sent it all and we'd talk about it.

When will I find another friend like that? I don't know. That kind of friendship doesn't happen over night. It builds, with every e-mail or IM or face-to-face conversation, as you get to know them better, and gain trust, and open up, and realize that they don't get bored when you ramble on.

Good bye, my friend. I know neither one of us believes in anything after death, I know you don't know I'm talking about you, but I'm saying it anyway. Your loss will be felt. I'm sorry I didn't know I was losing you until you were gone, I would have liked to make sure you knew how much I appreciated you. I hope you knew anyway.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pastels for Spring

I've been seeing a lot of pastels at the trendy mall stores for the past couple of months. I'm not going to lie to you, this doesn't make me super happy. I just can't wear pastels! I guess I'll coast along on last year's fashions and buy a few new neutral pieces. But for those of you who look great in pale colors, I have a few items to add some sparkle to your Spring wardrobe!

Peachy Keen crystal earrings (shown above) feature white opal Swarovski crystals flanking vintage dusty peach faceted glass (or maybe crystal) beads. Can you believe that I salvaged these from a necklace that was otherwise made of bright orange beads? Crazy, right?
Peach Melon crystal bracelet is a good accompaniment for the brighter shades of coral and light peach. You can probably even match your lipstick to this bracelet, if you have the skin tone to pull it off!
Mint Blossom crystal bracelet is cool and clean and topped off with the prettiest clear flower-shaped vintage button. Oh mint. You're the one shade of green I can't wear! I'm seeing so many pretty little mint blouses in the store that would be really sweet with this bracelet.

If you're looking for other pastels, the Crystal Jewelry section of my shop is probably the right place to look. I've got crystal bracelets in baby pink, pale purple and more!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love is in the Air

 Valentine's-themed treasuries are already cropping up on Etsy, and have been since around the start of the year. I'm really not prepared. My heart jewelry is really picked over, in fact, I think these two bracelets might be all I have left! I'll have to add romantic jewelry to my list of things to make this week, right up there with steampunk jewelry and hairsticks. Maybe I can triple up and make a hairstick with a heart key hanging from it?

If you're looking for a unique Valentine's Day Gift, you can pick up Blue Heart Spiral Bracelet or Lovestruck Crystal Bracelet in my shop!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

On my beading tray -- Jan 9th Edition

Welcome to the first edition of On my beading tray, a new blog feature where I will show you what I've got in the works!

Today there are three projects on my tray:

1. I'm embroidering away on the cabochon pendant that I'm making with the bead mix from Allegory Gallery. The onyx cab has been bezeled with bronze Delicas and matte crystal AB size 15 Japanese seed beads. Now I'm adding a row of embroidery using the bead mix. I was frustrated to find that I don't have size 11s to match any of the red beads in the mix, which shows me that I should really buy more red 11s at gem show this year.

2. The marbled green leaves were my first attempt at making beaded leaves using this particular technique, and I will be turning them into dangly earrings. If I like how the earrings wear, I'll make them in different colors for the shop.

3. The three silver-y green leaves will be part of a necklace. There's also a partial matte green leaf. It didn't turn out well and the matte green doesn't go at all with the other green (inside the tubes, they were lovely together).

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My family rocks!

Let's take a little break from talking about business to talk about how much fun last night's holiday gathering with my family was! It will also serve as an explanation as to why I won't be posting any new jewelry today. You see, my brother Joe and his girlfriend Michelle challenged us to a gift wrapping challenge. We lost mightily because I waited too long to start, but I did get props for hiding their present (a Groupon for an event they wanted to attend) inside last year's pocket calender, which had all the pockets stapled shut and decoy papers in most pockets. The calender was in turn covered in tape, wrapped, put inside a laptop box over-stuffed with bubblewrap, which was in turn wrapped twice.

But Joe and Michelle brought in a box larger than my washing machine, which had layers of boxes inside, including one in paper mache made of the paper leftover from her family's Christmas. And inside that, the best thing ever... a box wrapped in candy. Michelle did this for Joe last year. It was the first time we met her and needless to say, it made a great impression! We were very happy to be this year's recipient of the candy box :) It has sweet, fruity candy for Chris and chocolate for me, yay! Inside was about 7 more layers of wrapping (including two of tinfoil), and inside that, individually wrapped presents to make for the perfect game night -- a fun nerdy game, ginger beer and rum to make Dark and Stormies, hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows from Michelle's family's chocolate shop, caramel corn, and so much more!

What does this have to do with listing items? Well, all of those treats and the paper they're wrapped up in are covering the dining room table where I do all of my photography! Today is going to be mainly dedicated to cleaning up the post-holiday mess, although I will also work on making some jewelry, too.

In other news, my Mom is awesome. You might think that the above mask is leather, but no, Mom made it from polymer clay! It's the perfect blend of black with some iridescent green-gold clay in it, echoing the shimmer of raven feathers. It's so gorgeous! I'm already thinking of all the occasions I could wear it for -- a Gothic bellydance performance, masquerade at Wild Wild West Con (and any other conventions with masquerades), handing out candy on Halloween, etc etc. I really love masks and this one is extra special because it was handmade with love by my mother.

There were a lot of other cool handmade gifts. My brother has really gotten into leatherwork, so Dad and Chris both got awesome belts with lots of accessories for their steampunk costumes. Mom made Dad a sporran to go with his Utilikilts, and Michelle a black and red kitty hoodie. Michelle assembled and painted a Warhammer miniature for Joe (he was really touched, which made me exclaim "Nerd love!" I have joke immunity, after all, I was excited about the Goblins of the Labyrinth book that Chris gave me). And there was so much more! So many of this year's presents game from artists and crafters, whether made by one of us or purchased at Etsy or local conventions. I love how dedicated my family is to supporting artists!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Welcome to 2013

Happy New Year! I've been impatiently waiting for 2012 to end -- not because I really put much importance into the changing of the year, but because it marks the end of the holiday season. Ugh, that makes me sound really Grinchy, doesn't it? Allow me to clarify: There are things I LOVE about the holidays. Time with family and friends, exchanging gifts, indulging in treats, hanging my zebra-in-a-zeppelin wreath and my glorious scarab stocking. But there are also things that I HATE about the holidays: The barrage of sales-related e-mails, awful renditions of Christmas carols playing everywhere you go, increased traffic on the streets, crowds in the stores, the constant worry of whether the gifts I'm buying are "good enough."

Add to that the fact that I am a creature of habit. I do not like that I haven't had any dance classes or troupe practices for the past couple of weeks, or that our jogging schedule is messed up, or that I have to deal with weird holiday hours at stores and the mail not being delivered on Tuesday two weeks in a row, silly things like that. The New Year marks a return to normal, but still buoyed by the happy feelings from the fun part of the holidays.

The New Year also marks the time to start working on all of the things I've been thinking about during the lull over the holidays. I don't make resolutions, but I do like to use the start of the year as a time to think about what I'd like to do in the coming months. This year, that includes some changes to my business:

1. More elaborate beadwoven and embroidered pieces like the one above. I feel like I have enough basic items in my shop, it's time to let myself create more artistically without worrying about the end price.

2. Explore the idea of Art Nouveau aesthetics in beads. I'm obsessed with Art Nouveau jewelry right now. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest sighing over vintage Lalique pieces, wishing they would magically appear in my jewelry box overnight (oh! fighting stag beetle hair comb! you are my one true love! don't tell Chris!). It turns out that all this time, I've been drawn to things that had a Nouveau style to them without knowing that it was a unifying theme in the things I love (up to and including the jewelry worn by the elves in Lord of the Rings).

3. Add hair accessories to my Etsy shop. I've actually been making hairsticks for over a year but I never added them to my shop. Then I sold almost every single one of them between the Desert Shakedown and my open house party, which showed me that I really needed to further develop that line and put them up in my shop. Look for those starting possibly as soon as tomorrow.

4. Add some tribal bras to my stock. This may or may not happen, but I've had a couple of requests for it. Making bras is a bit of a pain (literally, I usually stab my fingers), but I seem to have as good of an eye for composing a bra as I do for composing jewelry, so I may start to do a very limited run of one of a kind bras.

5. Cut down on custom work. To be honest, I really don't enjoy it, and as I put more time into dance and other pursuits, I don't want to have to carve out time to make a custom item. This doesn't mean that I won't do it at all, but it means that I will be more likely to turn down requests.

I have other ideas floating around in my head, but they're less concrete. The future of Erthe Fae Designs depends a lot on how other things in my life go. I may work to grow my business, or if other ventures take off I may shrink it a little bit, but I'll still be around.