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Keep On Truckin’

Season is ending here in Southwest Florida.  The tourists and snowbirds are leaving.  I am no longer sitting in half hour traffic jams.  The Lee County Sheriffs Department squad cars are out ticketing again.  They won’t go after our visitors.  They make their money off the permanent residents.  Just being good hosts, one might say.

So what does this mean for a crafts person who sells jewelry or a Tennis Pro that owns a club or a restaurant owner that has had a record season. … Quiet Time… New Idea Time…. Time to reflect …. or Maybe just Time to Keep On Truckin‘.

For me, Keep On Truckin means time to get working on the web-end of my business.  I started this new old endeavor a week ago with my niece, Laura Pennisi.  Laura just graduated with an Art Education major.  Not only is she an artist, but she is good with computers and lucky me, she hadn’t found a job yet.  It was March 30 and I knew I had exactly one day left to make my new Facebook banner before my Heaven Lane Creations page got changed over to the new format.  I was frantic.  I could not figure out how to make a collage of pictures that would fit into the new banner size.  Laura patiently showed me how to do it.  Like a good teacher, she modeled how to do it several times, assisted me and then let me demonstrate my understanding.  Look what we came up with

With my mentor next to me, it only took an hour.  Today, I tried to shoot more pictures of my latest creations to post on my store which I am hoping will be ready very soon.  But the shooting of the pictures and the editing took me three hours.  Not very efficient use of a jeweler’s time and I am still not satisfied with the photo results.  I will share with you my new creations.

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Here is my latest idea.  I want to find a person who lives really close by who is a great photographer.  Once a week they will shoot pictures of my jewelry and help me post.  Until I start making money off my business, I will pay them with lovely jewelry.  Any takers?

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Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal Day is Here

This Bead Soup Blog Party is here.  This is my second time participating.  I must admit I had more time during the Summer Party than this Party.  You see everything slows down in Florida during the summer, but we are in season right now.  Season means lots of jewelry sales…Most of my sales have taken place on Sanibel Island at Traders, a very popular restaurant and gift shop owned by my good friends, Gretchen and Joe. Selling is good as long as you have time to make and replenish.  I have a show in less than two weeks and I am out of stock  That is a good problem.

On to the main event.  Amanda Tibbetts is my partner.  This is what she sent me. 

Here is a close up of the pendant she made.

Here is what I made

Floating Bead Necklace

Check out the rest of the Bead Soup Blog Party Participants. They hail from all over the world.  They are a group of talented beaders.

Hostess, Lori Anderson


Special Book Sneak Peeks, Cindy Wimmer

1.  Adlinah Kamsir (Singapore) and Hajer Waheed (Kingdom of Bahrain)
2. Adrienn Lukacs (Hungary) and Agata Grygiel (Poland)
3.  Agi Kiss (Hungary) and Carolien Muller-Genger (the Netherlands)
4.  Agnes Asztalos (Hungary) and B.R. Kuhlman
7.  Alicia Marinache (Canada) and Dita Basu
15.  Bonnie Coursolle (Canada) and Fay Wolfenden (Canada)
16.  Carmel McGinley (Australia) and Tracy Stillman (Australia)
21.  Cheryl Brown (Canada) and Diana Ptaszynski
22.  Christina Stofmeel (the Netherlands) and Eva Kovacs (Hungary)
24.  Cilla Watkins (Canada) and Elaine Robitaille (Canada)
25.  Sabrina Straub (Switzerland) and Kathy Combs
32.  Dee Elgie (UK) and Joanne Lockwood (UK)
33.  Dian Hierschel (Germany) and Eniko Fabian (Austria)
37.  Doris Stumpf (Germany) and Eszter Czibulyas (Hungary)
39.  Elke Leonhardt-Rath (Germany) and Marjolein Trewavas (UK)
41.  Erika Nooteboom (the Netherlands) and Giorgia Rossini (Italy)
43.  Evelyn Duberry (Canada) and Gaea Cannaday
45.  Ginger Bishop (military, Okinawa) and Martina Nagele (Germany)
48.  Helene Goldberg (Australia) and Karen Vincent
54.  Joanna Matuszczyk (Poland) and Julianna Kis (Hungary)
55.  Joanne Tinley (UK) and Michaela Pabeschitz (Austria)
65.  Kristina Johansson (Sweden) and Penny Neville (Canada)
66.  Krisztina Erlaki-Toth (Hungary) and Nicole Keller (Germany)
76.  Lori Finney (Canada) and Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp (Canada)
78.  Marta Kaczerowska (Poland) and Milla Starchik (Canada)
83.  Michelle Jensen and Sandra Young (Canada)
92.  Rosa Maria Cuevas (Mexico) and Tejae Floyde
93.  Sabine Dittrich (Germany) and Sally Russick
95.  Shanti Johnson and Tracy Mok (Canada)
97.  Sonya Stille and Traci Zeller (Canada)
98.  Stefanie Teufel (Germany) and Tania Hagen (New Zealand)
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One is silver and the others gold

Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the others gold.  This was a favorite camp song from my childhood.  I have had this little song in my head this week as I have learned how to solder silver and create a pendant… my new silver friend…

Soldering opens up a whole new world for me. My new best friend will require some new equipment including a torch. Don't tell Mark.

and as I went back to a dear old friend, a golden beading technique which allowed me to complete my Bead Soup Blog Challenge in time hosted by Lori Anderson

I will not reveal what I made from the products that were sent to me by  Amanda Tibbetts until Challenge Reveal Day, which is March 3rd, but I will tell you that I  would never have finished this project without my trusty old friend, the floating bead necklace, which I learned ten years ago at Studio Baboo in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Back then I was a full-time teacher.  One unbelievably snowy winter, I was sitting around the house on a three-week forced vacation called snow days with my three antsy sons, when I realized that I needed desperately to calm my mind and pour my enormous creative energy into a new hobby.  I discovered beading.  For the next year and half,  I learned several dozen techniques, but non as useful and versatile as the floating bead necklace.  It is my old stand-by.  It is by far, my most consistent seller and it has bailed me out of quite a few creative dilemmas.  Just a sampling of some of the jewelry I have made in the past few years using this technique.

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Jewelry makers, teachers, mothers, tennis pros… we all have our favorite tricks of the trade… the ones we know work and we can fall back on when we need an old friend.

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Can a bead room be a metaphor for one’s life?

Anyone who knows me will say “Andrea’s life is an open book!”  I am not very good at hiding my feelings nor keeping my insights to myself.  Today, I am sharing another part of my life… my workroom. Now you might be asking yourself, “How can a person create in such a chaotic environment?” Well, I must admit, it ain’t easy.  But I really don’t know how to simplify my life, so somehow I manage.

I am out of workspace! Time to find a surface in the living room

If a picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture is a metaphor for my life, well what more is there to say…. except somehow I meet my deadlines, continue to produce and have fun doing it.  In the next week, I will be revealing a creation that was part of the 2012 Bead Soup Blog Party.  This was my second foray into this design challenge.  Thanks to Lori Anderson of  http://www.prettythingsblog.com/, beaders and jewelry artists from around the world trade beads and challenge themselves to create a piece with the goodies they got from their randomly assigned partner.  More on my partner later in the week.  Thanks for not giving up on me.  With my renewed inspiration to create, comes a renewed inspiration to write.

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Life changes– some good, some bad, always grateful

Life gets so busy, sometimes it seems there is not enough time to reflect.  I read my good friend’s Lori Anderson’s Blog tonight and realized that I am losing touch with my blog friends.  So here is a summary of what has been happening.

This weekend, my 17 year old son, Danny is having a Bar Mitzvah.  We missed out when he was thirteen (long story).  However, the decision to do this was entirely his and I am amazed how he has pulled himself together to accomplish this beautiful spiritual journey.  He will be leading an entire 1.5 hours service this weekend in front of 70 to 80 people.  It will be mostly in Hebrew.  When you have an event like this, you gain perspective on friends and family.  Some of my family never even RSVP’d and some friends who haven’t seen me for years sent my son a generous gift. 

Life changes.  Friendships come and go.  Even dynamics of your own family change.  Danny mentioned how excited he was that his older brother Ben is coming to town.  He used to resent him.  Now he wants to take off from school to spend all of his time with him.  I hope this feeling continues into adulthood.  I hope they still care enough about each other to attend each other’s important events.  I hope they put aside petty differences and come together when end-of-life decisions have to be made about their parents.  My siblings have fallen apart as my mom’s alzheimers worsens.  No more family get togethers over Thanksgiving where all 30 plus grandchildren hang out in my brother or sister’s yard.   So in the midst of my joy over my son’s success, I am also feeling a bit disappointed with most of my brothers and sisters. (One brother,John and his wife Sue have changed their plans to attend).  But my friends have come through. Many of them are taking time out of their busy lifes to honor my son and our friendship by attending and for this, I am truly grateful.

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Do Over Challenge Reveal

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…this simple phrase has been a part of my life for more  than 20 years.  In fact, in the late 80’s, I formed one of the first recycling organizations in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Bringing new life to old jewelry is a new twist on this old theme.  I found Jeannie through blog hopping.  What an amazing person she is.  I can’t begin to describe all the cool things she has done… from fitness trainer to hair dresser to business owner to jewelry maker. A month ago, Jeannie sent several jewelry designers old pieces of jewelry.  It was our job to re-design.

Original Necklace had one strand of wood beads, one strand of mother of pearl beads, two strands of gold seed beads and a leopard spotted focal shell

Now I thought this would be easy, but it wasn’t.  For three weeks, I fiddled with ideas and themes.  Maybe it could be a bracelet, maybe turn it into a halloween spider jewelry.  I was stymied by the multi-color focal shell and did not like the combination of wood and shell together.  Finally, a week ago, I received inspiration.  This is what I came up with.

Something old, something new is what I am calling this piece
Something old, Something new is what I named this piece.  I have a closeup of the focal which is much more subtle with the Vintaj Component on top of the Mother-of-Pearl.  I added color to the necklace with purple dyed Mother of Pearl Disks and picked up on the yellow with some beautiful faceted quartz crystals. I kept the wood separated from the shells and used the gold seed  beads to tie it all together.  I will show you a close-up the focal piece.

Something Old, Something New

I am still not thrilled with the result, but I ran out of time.  Fall is Jewelry Show season and if I want to continue making jewelry, than I need to sell more jewelry.  So off to the Bead Room. Check out what my fellow jewelry artists made by hopping over to their blogs.
Jeannie  and Donna
Natasha
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Art Alliance of Lee County draws a crowd

The skies were blue, the sun was shining and for the most part there was only a gentle breeze–Southwest Florida at its finest.  Saturday, October 22nd, the Art Alliance of Lee County held their second annual Fall for the Arts.  I knew it was going to be a good day, when my booth was stationed right next to one of my icons… Doug MacGregor, a political cartoonist and author. I figured if I didn’t make any sales or have a customers, I was in for great conversation.  What I love about events like this is that it attracts people who appreciate art and recognize people who have turned their passion into a potential living.  The other great thing about this event is that it encourages demonstrations.  I demonstrated bead crochet and actually completed a bracelet during the day.

Teaching and Selling at the same time works for me.

So now I am going to stop talking and show you a few pictures from the event.

My Banner adds a Nice Touch Photo by Mark Trank

 

By the time Mark got there to shoot the Crowds had thinned out

I really enjoy talking with customers. Photo by Mark Trank

By the way,  I have to share something really interesting.  There is a growing trend among jewelry artists to combine efforts to increase sales for all.  I saw evidence of this at the show… when a a few artists came up to me and offered to share space at a store or even give me a heads up on future events.  This is happening on line as well.  Check out Melinda Orr’s blog at http://orrtec.blogspot.com/ to be part of a Big Yard Sale and Give Away.

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Jewelry Show Disasters Part 2

In Florida, October through April is considered the craft show season.  While I am still not ready to commit the $300 plus to enter the bigger shows,  I am always looking for smaller venues during these months.  Sometimes, they are too small.  Take this past weekend for instance.  My son’s Middle School was hosting a Flea Market to raise money for their science field trip to the Keys.  Well, the price was right $15.00 for a spot and it was benefiting my child’s school– “a win/win”  you might say.  Now this week was a typically insane week involving work, family responsibilities and an unexpected visit from one of my 9 siblings.  I pulled everything together late Friday night including making up Halloween earrings and school spirit jewelry for the 800 or so families that have children at this school.  At the crack of dawn, I woke my husband up to load me into the car and drive me to the Middle School Parking lot.

Andrea at Middle School Flea Market photo shot by Mark Trank

 

My Competition Photo shot by Mark Trank

When we arrived, I noticed that all the other people set up were basically selling chaserai –old shoes, old toys, old clothing and old household items for 50 cents to $1.00 each.  I was still undaunted.  My beautiful jewelry would still make great holiday gifts. And I wasn’t planning to lower my prices to $1.00. I did not have time to go to the bank, so my dear husband ran off the bank to get me money, in case I needed change.  Round trip one for the first hour.  After  Mark went home the second time, I proceeded to set up meticulously.  And then the winds came.  My jewelry stands were flying, my jewelry was flying and I had forgotten the duck tape.  So I called Mark up and he ran around looking for suitable weights and the duck tape needed to hold jewelry stands.  Trip number 2 to the craft show. By this time, he gave up on going home and sat with me.

During the last hour in which no one even came over to see my jewelry, he asked me three simple questions.  In the sweetest voice he could muster, he asked “how many degrees do you have, my dear?”  I knew where this was going, but I played along.  “Three,”  I answered with a sigh.  “Tell me what those degrees are in?” he asked.  “B.A. in Speech Communication,” I said. “From where?” he asked rhetorically. “University of Virginia,” I announced with a laugh.  “And your next degree?” Mark asked.  “Masters in Science Education,” I laughed.  “And where is that degree from?” he mocked. “University of Virginia,” I answered a bit more quietly.  “Your third degree?” he asked.  “Educational Specialists in Curriculum and Instruction,” I announced. “From where?” By this time, my voice was a bit tight. “the University of Virginia.”  So how is it that a girl with three degrees from one of the highest rated Universities is stupid enough to try and sell her Jewelry that looks more like art to a crowd that won’t even buy items for .50?” he concluded.  “Maybe you should stick to art shows!”  This coming weekend, I will be at the Alliance for the Arts Annual Festival.  Last year it was a good event for me.  By the way, I did sell two people some jewelry.  Both happened to be teachers and both were my student teachers that I had supervised.  So my education degrees came in handy after all. Tonight we were discussing this event and I had to laugh, when Mark said”  What’s next, a truck pull in Okechobee?”

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I won jeopardy tonight

So  I am sitting here unable to think about what to write about and as I am thinking, I am watching  Jeopardy.  I guessed the bonus round before the contestant did.  He won $50,000.  I had the satisfaction of knowing the phrase first.  It was Job Fair…. a fitting phrase for many people alive in the year 2011.  Struggling to earn a fair living is on my mind a lot these days.  You see, I have three degrees and have had many different careers.  (B.A. in Speech Communication from the University of Virginia, a M.Ed. in Science Education from the U.Va. and an Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from U.Va.) 

I was a journalist following my first degree and I made a decent salary, but my life changed.  I wanted to have a family and globe trotting around the country to cover all the bad news was not conducive to family life, so with my husband, I re-evaluated and pursued a new passion… the environment and education. 

Lobbyist for the Sierra Club, founder of a small recycling organization, environmental educator and finally after two more degrees, high school science teacher.  That is how I spent the next fifteen years.  In the meantime, I gave birth to three sons and my life changed again… for the better I must admit.  What was important in my 20s and 30s took a back seat to having a good home life with Mark and providing my children with every opportunity to grow up to be caring, healthy, successful young men.  One of my young men is successfully launched, the second is applying to college and my third spends a little time as possible with me…. my life is changing again. 

My mother, who has alzheimers is declining rapidly.  My brothers and sisters are at odds over how to care for them.  I am trying to earn a living a new way…making and selling jewelry. 

Maybe it is my age, 52, maybe its the times… economic woes, divided country, a society that seems to value voyerism more than living full lives….   But I am feeling a bit discouraged. Millions watch the fate of Amanda Knox ( Don’t get me wrong, I am glad her nightmare is over) and millions watch a You Tube video about a woman who hears for the first time.  (  I am happy for her too) But really, is this productive use of our time and our minds?  Or are we all so overwhelmed with life’s difficulties that we sit  in front of our computers and TVs hypnotized…. hoping for some instant way to get fame and inspiration.  Well, I for one, am going to get off my duff and create some jewelry tonight.  Keep moving, keep plugging away.  By the way, here is what I created this weekend.  I am still getting the hang of taking good pictures.  Please write back.  I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

I am still experimenting with creating a style for my photographs and jewelry.  Haven’t yet decided on what works?

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The Big Boy Expo or Nothing Ventured… nothing gained

I ventured out today to sell my jewelry at a very unusual venue… The Big Boy Expo.  Now you might ask “what was I thinking?” Well, there is a story here.  It all started two days ago, when the house phone rang.  We never answer our house phone, but Mark, my husband, decided to pick it up.  On the phone was a very nice woman, who tracked me down after searching the web for Fort Myers Jewelers.  (that’s the good news… my name comes up in a search of Fort Myers Jewelers). She had purchased space at an event in Fort Myers for this weekend and was looking to share her space because someone backed out.  Now, there are many events at the Germaine arena.  In fact, I kept seeing advertisements about a Women’s Event that focused on fashion and health.. so I automatically assumed it was this event.

So I called her up and said yes and then I looked up the event and found the description “It’s the perfect opportunity to show off your guy stuff… All those gizmos, gadgets and thingamajigs guys can’t wait to get their hands on.” Now that doesn’t sound like a women’s fashion event. However, I am a woman of my word.  I could not back out on this very kind lady now.  I started rationalizing how this event  might be a success… my thinking went like this.  All those guys have to have women either at home or being dragged out to the Big Boy Expo… maybe they will flock to my booth and buy my beautiful jewelry.

The weather report called for off and on thunderstorms throughout the day.  Have you ever experienced a South Florida thunderstorm in September?  We are talking pretty much hurricane without the hype…. torrential downpours, instant flash floods, frequent lightening and wind that can blow down outdoor tents and send them into the next county.   I remained optimistic.  I had less than 24 hours to get ready, so I frantically sent out an SOS to all my new Bead Soup Blogger friends, who gave me helpful suggestions for last-minute pricing. I threw together my display, which I hadn’t used in six months.

Six a.m. Saturday morning.  My husband has been coughing most of the night.  I was pretty much packed up, but someone would have to carry it out to my car, drive me  there and help me set up.  Sick Mark got elected. One of the joys of being married to me for nearly 30 years.  We showed up just as the skies were blackening.  Never a good sign.  Another bad sign, the information said a table would be provided, but unbeknown st  to my space sharer or me, that was for the inside vendors.  So guess who got elected to go back home and get me a table.  The day continued on like that. There was the trip to Walmart to get me tarps in case the rain came and to the Smoothie place because I didn’t bring enough food or drink. All day long,  my sick husband running back and forth.  At one point, the sky looked so threatening, he went to the car and fell asleep thinking he would have to rescue  me at any moment.  Well the rest of the male population was smart enough to stay home or just visit the vendors inside.  At one point, I was sweating so badly, it was like being in my own rainstorm. 

So by now, I am sure you are wondering what was gained.  Here is my list.  I met some nice people who were also struggling to make a living at their craft.  We told stories.  I learned that juried shows might not accept my tent because its blue.  I learned that I need to get weights to hold down my tent in case of inclement weather.  I learned that sharing a booth might not work because my table was facing sideways and I need to face the crowd for them to see what I am about.  I also need a banner. i have gained knowledge of all these things and a few pictures of my rudimentary set up.  So like all adventures, there is something gained and guess what else,  its poured all over Fort Myers except where we were set up at Germaine arena.  By the way, I did not sell one item, but gave out a few business cards.  When I got home, my 13 year old looked up at the sky and said ” Mom, look a double rainbow!!!”  I am thinking that means the pot of gold is still out there.

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Can you keep a secret?

Bead Soup Stewing

When I was a little girl, I had the hardest time waiting for big news or keeping a secret. If I found out what one of my brothers or sisters were getting for their birthday, I kept trying to talk about it subtley… dropping hints. Invariably, I would spill the beans. So now at age 52, I still have a hard time keeping a secret, especially when I am very excited. My excitement is over the Bead Soup Blog Party. In ten days, all 300 plus beaders who joined the Bead Soup Blog Party 2011 will reveal what they made with bead ingredients that they received from another beader from somewhere else. My ingredients stewed in their beautiful heart case that they came in from Jayne Aka Boot-C for more than week. In fact, during that time, I couldn’t get myself to make anything. I started cleaning closets and cleaning my bead room. Finally, on labor day, I got inspired.

Now I am not going to reveal what I made until September 17th (I promise), but I will tell you a few of things I learned about myself during this wonderful, challenging process.

1) I love symmetry. I was challenged because I could not place the ingredients I had in any symmetrical pattern. There was a little bit of everything, but nothing I had in my studio were exact matches. So how did I meet my need for symmetry while expanding myself? You will have to wait until September 17th to find out! (Hold me back)
2) This is my most creative piece. Why? Because necessity is the mother of invention. Because the first five tries were failures. Because scientific experimentation nine out of ten times disproves rather than proves your hypothesis. It reminds me of why science is such a creative process.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”— Albert Einstein
“Results! Because, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won`t work.”— Thomas A. Edison
Thanks to the All Result Journal Blog for compiling a list of great quotes on science and mistakes. Thanks to Lori Anderson for organizing this event. And lastly, thanks to nature for helping an impatient, impulsive girl grow up abit.

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Handmade Happiness

I picked up a magazine today called Natural Awakenings.They have a web site at http://www.swfl.naturalawakeningsmag.com . In the magazine, I read an article entitled Handmade Happiness. The theme of the article was that making things by hand enriches one’s life and contributes to a greater sense of well-being by giving us “a sense of competence and completion that may be difficult to find in our digital ephemeral world.” (Judith Fertig) The author goes on to explain that the arts and crafts movement is particularly beneficial considering that “Modern Life offers a million distractions, a million ways to kill time.” (American Craft Council) I took up jewelry-making a dozen years ago to help me deal with the constant stress of teaching and raising three active boys. I also needed something to do other than watch tv during a three week winter storm. Like many crafters, I came into it accidentally. But once I started I could not stop. If the act of making and selling my jewelry stops feeding my soul and becomes a burden or “too much like a job” then I might have to take up something new like auto detailing (my husband would love that considering how poorly I take care of my car). There is a lot of creativity in this as well. Lol

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The Value of Having a Mentor

Twenty one years ago, I walked into a classroom for the first time. I was the mother of two children. How hard could teaching 20 children be? I had already spent ten years as a succesful journalist. Teaching was a second career. I wasn’t young, but to the students I was fresh meat. My students seemed determined to make me leave the field of teaching by the end of the first year, atleast that is what I thought as I cried to my husband each and every night. Why had I decided to be a teacher? Why couldn’t I impart all of my knowledge and passion to eager minds? What made my first year so horrible was that I didn’t have a mentor. If someone had just guided me a bit, helped me through the myriad of issues that teaching entails, that would have made a difference. I currently mentor new teachers now in a program at Florida Gulf Coast University. I am determined to help them avoid a few of the pitfalls that I fell in, such as starting off too leniantly. You can always get nicer, you can’t get stricter. So what does this have to do with beading? This summer, I have discovered the wonderful world of beading bloggers, thanks to Lori Anderson and the Bead Soup Blog Party.


Through this event, I have found mentors… wonderful jewelry designers who are lightyears ahead of me and are willing to guide me through some of the obstacles that they successfully overcome. So check out my mentor’s etsy stores and blogs. Support their beading or jewelry businesses, including Lori Anderson, whose blog is mentioned above. Charlene from the Bead Dreamer is helping me with my blog and with ideas on how to improve my etsy shop. Check out her shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/CharleneSevier Christina Miles who gave me tips on photography http://www.etsy.com/shop/wingsnscales and Marsha Neal, who inspired me by teaching about the Etsy Treasury (a wonderful marketing tool that I will try as soon as I revamp my Etsy store. http://www.etsy.com/shop/marshanealstudio. There are others too. Thanks to all you Bead Mentors for paying forward and inspiring me to do the same.

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My Bead Soup Ingredients Arrived Today

 

I love interacting with people, I don’t always love interacting with technology.  Case-in-point, while working today at my friend’s store, the cash register roll jammed,  the inventory reader had an error message, my cell phone kept disconnecting while my friend was trying to help me navigate a complicated sale and I couldn’t ring up several sales.

So when I arrived home and saw this adorable package waiting for me, I just knew that my day was about to improve….my bead soup ingredients were here all the way from Oklahoma via Jayne aka BootC http://mamasgottodoodle.blogspot.com/ It got better when I opened up a pdf tutuorial produced by Christine Miles, http://wingsnscales.blogspot.com/ who showed me how to improve my photographs.  So here are my beautiful bead ingredients in much better photographs. I think…

 

It arrived in a Heart.  How cool is that?

When I spread out ithe beads, it looked liked palm trees and Florida skies

 Then I tried a technique that Chris taught me in her tutorial about cropping close and then expanding the photo, so here are my close-ups.

Lampwork beads the color of the Palms

Does this not look like a cool insect you would find in Florida. Did Jayne know I was a former science teacher?

 

 

A beaded bead made of semi precious stones and copper wire

 Thanks you BootC.  I think I am going to name my piece Oklahoma’s Majestic Palms.

Reveal Date is September 17

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

I have been on a cleaning craze since the beginning of school.  I have almost made it into my beadroom… first it was one of my son’s rooms, then it was my closet.  I found the sweetest pictures of my three boys when they were little.  But I have also uncovered some of my failed beading projects.  I will photograph them and put up a slide show of them tomorrow. 

Returning to my roots as an educator, I think the slide show will show how learning progresses up a ladder.  In teacher terms,  “scaffolding” to help a student learn.  It seems as I read many blogs of my fellow beaders, most have scaffolded themselves from the very simple to a more sophisticated form of beading.  For me, it has taken me from simply stringing into the use of fibers, seed beads, sewing, braiding, Kumihimo, knotting and crocheting.  But lately I have had a hankering to learn more about wire wrapping.  So tomorrow I am so excited to be taking a class from a wonderful Jeweler and teacher Babs in Fort Myers.  I will hopefully have a product worth showing.

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Promises, promises

I promised my children that I would watch them play tennis.  When I sat on the side of the court, I was not allowed to comment or laugh or look at them or say good shot.  So why was I there? I guess they needed me right?  I promised my brother that I would come over and help with my mother… even though I have to be at the University tomorrow for the beginning of the semester.  Why am I doing it?  Because my mom has Alzheimers and everyday she forgets a bit more. I promised my friend I would cover her store because she bought a house and needed the day to move even though I have to work my night job three nights this week. Why?  Because she treats me well and I want her business to succeed.  I promised my girlfriends to arrange the tennis round robin.  Why?  Because I feel guilty when someone gets left out and I know I will make sure that doesn’t happen. I promised my husband I would not spend money this month even though I keep seeing the coolest beads I want to buy.  Well, you know why?  You are all struggling artists and it sure is hard to make living this way. And I promised whoever reads my blogs that I would post a picture of my new  improved and much more efficient technique for doing wrap bracelets.  It uses one needle, instead  two.  So here it is.  Promises, promises, promises…

Making Jewelry on my fancy frame made of cardboard, bead mat and rubber bands

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Bead Soup Teaser for Jayne of Mamas Got to Doodle

Well my camera is kind of working and I love Picnic.  I am going to mail out my Soup Ingredients to Jayne tomorrow.  Here is my teaser picture. 

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Round up of weekly challenges

Its Sunday night… time to get ready for another week.  I will only mention the challenges related to my jewelry making in this blog.  I would have to write many more paragraphs to tell you about children challenges, aging parent’s challenges, friend challenges, aches and pain challenges… life.  However, when it comes to my business, I actually welcome the challenges and find that rather than see them as obstacles , I view them as exciting and inspirational. 

Challenge #1) Camera lens problems.  Talked to my hair dresser, Hector, who is also a photographer.  We did all sorts of experiments to try and pinpoint the issue… problem with camera, problem with lens, operator error.  No luck, we still could not get the focus to work.  Talked to my friend’s daughter, Jaime.  She showed me how to put the lens on manual.  However, my eyesight is so bad and I wear glasses that progress from closeup to far away, I couldn’t focus on manual. (see earlier post The Learning Curve to see how bad the pictures came out). Then I tried to find a local camera repair center.  Only two numbers were listed on the internet or in the phone books.  Both were for security cameras.  Both claimed there was not a camera repair shop within a 100 miles.  I found one Ritz Camera Center still open in this area 20 miles south and took my camera in.  A knowledgable salesman (now that is a novelty) found the problem immediately.  Somehow my focus got shifted to the right and then locked in place.  He fixed it and then showed me what to do if this should happen again.  10 hours of hunting and I had the solution.  If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again… as my mom used to say all the time.

Challenge #2.  How to make the wrap bracelets a bit faster with just one needle.  If any of you have delved into the wrap bracelet craze, you know it can be a frustrating endeavor… first you have to make sure your thread is centered (I only have two hands, I need a third to hold the thread together) and  then you have to go back and forth between two needles going the opposite direction. Needles get mixed up, the thread tangles and you need to secure the project so it doesn’t move while you are working. Its one of the reasons why I was unwilling to lower my price for this bracelet for a customer.  (See earlier post on Custom versus Costume Jewelry).  But I saw a picture in a magazine of a bracelet that appeared to be made with just one needle, so last night when it was quiet at the gift shop I work in, I started fiddling with this new technique.  Voila… it worked. Its a bit of different look, but I like it.  Let me know what you think? I will photograph it tomorrow with my now working lens.

Challenge #3)  I joined the Bead Soup Blog Hop Party for the first time this year.  There are more than 300 beaders who are part of Lori Anderson’s http://lorianderson-beadsoupblogparty.blogspot.com/2011/08/september-2011-list-of-bead-soup-blog.html annual event.  My first challenge was connecting with my partner.  She lives in Oklahoma and I live in Florida.  Check out her blog page http://mamasgottodoodle.blogspot.com/.  We haven’t really formally connected but I am sending her a surprise and she is sending me one;  I will give you a hint on what I am sending her.  What does Florida have that Oklahoma doesn’t?   Lori introduced us to the coolest photo editting site  Picnik which will help us hide our pictures.  I started playing with it tonight.  How cool?

Looks quite professional doesn't it?

 That’s all for now.  Hope you got through all my verbage.

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Being observant is both a blessing and a bane

Most creative people I know are hyper-sensitive and hyper-observant.  While the rest of the world walks around not noticing if someone is glaring at them or if  an-off-handed comment has daggers attached, we creative types cringe.  Its this hyper sensitivity that allows us to see things in our art or jewelry that noone else can capture.  It is both a blessing and a bane of our existence.

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Moonstone versus Sunstone

Moonstone

I am an Earth Science teacher by trade, so when I go into my favorite bead store, Bab’s Beads in Fort Myers, I always ask Kerry,the owner,  to tell me exactly what each stone is and the chemical compostion of the stones.  He had recently picked up some gorgeous moonstones and sunstones.  “So what are they made of?”  I asked.  Flippantly, he answered, “The sun! The moon! Why do you need to know?”  “Look it up please,” I insisted.  When he read the chemical composition of moonstone, it contained elements that made up the mineral feldspar.  When he read the chemical composition of sunstone, it sounded like the mineral quartz was part of it (aluminum silicate).  How ironic,  the sun and the moon— quartz and feldspar.  It has long been debated in earth science circles which of the minerals… quartz or feldspar is most common in the earth.  They are both incredibly abundant and its fascinating to me just how many different beautiful gemstones are in the quartz family or in the feldspar family.  I know it sounds science geeky to be excited about such things, but it was my interest in the earth and its beautiful rocks and minerals that sent me in the direction of jewelry design.

Sunstone