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!