Saturday, May 12, 2012

Three of my entries are up for voting in BeadStar Contest 2012!

I'm having a hard time writing this because I'm giddy with excitement. Out of my six entries, three of my pieces are among the top 20 in each category for BeadStar 2012!

Votes are what will carry each work to the next round. Beading friends, I'm asking you to take a look at my pieces, and if you do like them, please vote for them! Vote for all your favorite entries in each category while you're on the site! :-)

Note: You need to sign in to Beading Daily to vote. If you're not already a member, I recommend becoming one. You get access to lots of patterns and ideas!

You can see my Pearls entry at: Pearls and Abalone. My Plastics entry is at: Green Goes 'round and 'round. My Stones entry can be found at: Turquoise Retro Style.

Thank you for your support. I'll be glad you help you in contests, as well!

Happy beading,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Mango Beads' "Trash to Treasure" contest, and lessons learned


After a hiatus from blogging, I'm back with an exciting announcement: It's time for Happy Mango Beads' "Trash to Treasure" beading contest!

This is a fun one, with categories such as "Trash to Cash" (paper, plastic, bottle caps, etc.) and "Scrap Metal" (metal, old keys, chain, etc.). Prizes are gift certificates for Happy Mango Bead products.

The deadline is May 13th, so put on your thinking cap, create a new piece and enter it!

Lessons learned in a beading class. . .

Okay, I won't say that everything I ever needed to know, I learned from beading. But I did learn some valuable lessons the other evening when I taught a beading class. It was a class on making a simple strung bracelet. Simple? Not necessarily. Here's what I took away:

 - 25 people is probably too big a group for one instructor unless you have a giant projection screen up front.

 - Don't teach crimping to 25 people at once (without said giant projection screen) and expect them to be able to crimp their own bracelets just like that.

 - Do call on friends to serve as assistants who can travel around the tables and help beginning beaders.

 - Put your handouts (with instructions to follow at home, coupon code for your Etsy shop, contact info, etc.) by the exit door, not in the opposite corner.

 - Don't set up your own station in the darkest corner of the room.

 - Don't open a tube of crimp beads while standing up and then bend over to pick up something from the floor. . .

 - Repeat people's names when you are introduced; this can help you remember them later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bead an Adjustable Ring

Since I don't have a ring sizing stick, adjustable rings are a nice finding to use. I've picked up a couple of kinds - ones with different numbers of loops on top for attaching stones or beads, and ones with a flat metal surface on top for gluing on bezels, stones, etc.

This ring, which I call Funderella, is based on a looped adjustable ring with a silverplated finish. Its frou-frou look reminds me of cocktail rings my mother used to wear for dressy affairs.

It's easy, albeit not fast, to make. I took short silverplated headpins and wrapped Czech pressed-glass flowers, then attached them to the loops with simple wire wraps.

You can make these in a huge variety of color combinations. What about a Valentine's Day ring in an explosion of reds? Wedding party rings that coordinate with the wedding colors? A patriotic burst of red, white and blue?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Bag of Inspiration

A few weeks ago, my "tip of the day" was about assembling bead kits to supplement your jewelry sales. As I looked at the pictures of one kit I'd put together and listed on Etsy, I realized that selling kits is about more than making money.

It's about inspiring another beader - or even introducing someone to the art (and pleasure!) of beading.

Getting a kit with colors, shapes and sizes already chosen is a great way for someone who's new to beading to dig into the craft. Too many choices can be overwhelming, as one of my close friends says when we go to bead shops together. She likes to ask for suggestions in choosing her beads because - although she creates truly beautiful pieces - she doesn't trust her own instincts when it comes to picking out the materials. Kits are a nice option for someone like her.

Another benefit of putting together kits is that you get to exercise your own eye for color and form in a relaxed way. As you sort through your beads and find ones you're willing to part with to create a kit, you may find yourself feeling inspired all over again by your bead stash.

Then, too, it's surprising what you turn up as you dig through boxes and drawers, too! When I put together kits a couple of weeks ago, magnetic clasps I'd been looking for turned up in bags from shopping trips I'd made months ago and never sorted into my beading drawers!

Although I've got a huge supply of beads, the next time I'm feeling uninspired, I may purchase a kit from someone else. How fun to craft a piece from someone else's creative choices! :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do You Feel Guilty When You Spend Time Beading?

This is a topic I find myself discussing often with friends.

If you find yourself feeling this way sometimes, please read my other blog today: It was inspired by an amazing book, titled, Your Money or Your Life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Looking for Steampunk Ideas. . .

Howdy, my creative friends!

I'm looking for fresh inspiration for steampunk jewelry ideas. I've got supplies, but I've run out of. . . er. . . steam when it comes to creating steampunk pieces.

If you'll send me pictures of your creation and a brief explanation of how you came up with it or how you made it, plus a link to wherever you're selling or displaying it online, I'll post them here over the next few days.

Looking forward to seeing your work!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

California State Fair Deadline for Creative Arts Submission: April 20

Have you ever gone to your state fair, looked with awe, amazement and - admit it - a little jealousy at some of the winning entries in the arts category, and thought, "I could have won something if I'd entered. . ."? Have you told yourself that you'd enter next year's event, only to let the deadline slip by you?

As a college professor of mine used to say, the opportunities and awards aren't just out there for someone else. They're there for YOU, too.

Is this the year you're going to submit some of your work to your county and state fairs? YES??

If you're a Californian, please note: The deadline for submissions for the California Creative Arts category is April 20. That's for ages 18 and up.

For submissions for the Youth Art and Design Expo, the deadline is April 13.

For those outside California, what's the deadline for your state fair? Send me a note and I'll post it here!

Good luck! Get beading!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Idea for Blown-Glass Beads

Not long ago, Goody Beads had a sale on several types of blown glass beads. I love these delicate glass bubbles and ordered. . . a lot. :-)

Because they're so pretty, I wanted them to take front and center in a design. After playing around with them for a while, I hit on the idea of making individual dangles of one blown-glass bead and other smaller beads and spacers. What fun it is to sort through my beads and come up with mates for these gorgeous baubles.

Here's one of the dangles I made yesterday. I've strung it on a sterling silver-plated Figaro chain, 18" long, which makes a very dainty necklace. I hope this inspires you in your own beading!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Old Playing Cards: Check. . .

After several days off from jewelry-making, I've been rarin' to get going again. I'd put together some things, but nothing really grabbed me. So, yesterday, on a jaunt to Jo-Ann's, I picked up a copy of Belle Armoire magazine for ideas.

The current issue has some great pieces! One of them incorporates pieces of playing cards in bezels under a crackle resin. That got to me to thinking. . .

. . . and half a day later, I have a new bracelet that actually does grab me. I took some stray playing cards, a length of old wire-wrapped glass pearls (with the pearl finish worn off in places), a bezel bracelet I bought on sale last year, and some loose beads from my stash.

Pieces of the cards went into the bezels and under a layer of resin. Meanwhile, I wire-wrapped glass hearts and black beads. When I checked the resin, I was a bit dismayed to see that bubbles had remained stubbornly intact in one of the bezels, despite my efforts to pop them with a piece of wire. I found a bag of loose rhinestones, new and old, that I'd gotten in a big bag of jewelry odds and ends at a thrift shop; one flat-backed rhinestone became a beauty mark to disguise the air bubbles on the jack's cheek. I added the dangles I'd made, a magnetic clasp, and. . .

"Deal Me In!"

This bracelet measures just over 8". Thinking about listing it on etsy or else taking it to a local shop to see if the owner would like to display it for sale.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yippee! A Contest Win!

I found out yesterday that my entry in the Happy Mango Beads "Bead My Valentine" contest won the "Second Time Around" (recycled/repurposed) category! Yippee!! After seeing the many amazing entries, I didn't think I'd be bringing home a prize in this contest.

Here's the necklace. I cut strips of sari fabric and anchored them in ribbon ends, then added dangles made of vintage Lucite beads, huge Swarovski glass pearls, metal charms, and one small heart in the center.

You can view all of the winning entries here: Bead My Valentine Contest Winners 2012.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Memory Keepers

Apologies in advance for the Very Bad Picture Quality. . .

A year or so ago, my friend Cilla gave me a big plastic bag filled with jewelry in varying stages of repair and including many different styles of beads. The jewelry had been her mother's, who passed away in the last few years. Cilla's request: Custom-make a piece of jewelry for each of eight women in her family, plus one toddler.

Have you ever been rarin' to go on a project, yet overwhelmed by the choices at the same time? What direction to take?? Which beads to favor over others?? How to accommodate the different ladies' preferences for styles, colors and actual piece of jewelry (necklace vs. bracelet, earrings only, hippy vs. uptown girl, one request for a Gothic Lolita style)? And what to make for a toddler that I would consider safe from swallowing or breaking??

I dug in, starting with the piece of my dreams--a knobbly necklace made of round beads for one of the adult women in her family.

As I finished each piece, I emailed a photo to Cilla to make sure I was on track.

Despite the blurry photos (my ace photographer, aka teenaged son, wasn't available at the drop of a hat), Cilla sent back encouraging replies.

I was still flummoxed over what to make for the little girl. Finally, I took a wire snowflake ornament form and filled it with blue and crystal-clear beads from her grandmother and lots of smaller beads from my supplies, then added a pretty ribbon.

I sent off the finished collection and heard back that the recipients were delighted. After listening carefully to each of Cilla's requests, it seemed that I had nailed this very important commission.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another contest to win beads at Happy Mango Beads!

Fellow beaders, not only is Happy Mango Beads about to announce the winners of their "Bead My Valentine" contest, but they're currently holding a contest in which some happy beader will win a bunch of beads! Hop over to Happy Mango Beads to enter their Mardi Gras contest.

May I say that winning prizes in individual categories in two of their past contests encouraged me hugely to keep beading and selling my work? We all need a boost sometimes. If you're even a teensy bit hesitant about entering your work in contests or submitting it for publication in magazines, WADDYA WAITIN' FOR?? If not now, when?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Silk Necklaces?

For the past couple of years, every time I saw a project idea that included supplies from Ornamentea, I checked out their site but didn't buy anything. Finally, the week before last, I surfed their tutorials and project ideas, then their sale items (naturally) and then their other listings.

Many of their sale items were sold out, but I did pick up a cute brass bulldog charm and some other goodies at nice prices. I also ordered a few lengths of dupioni silk ribbon at regular prices to use as stringing material.

What is dupioni, you may be wondering? I did, so I looked it up. "Dupioni" (sometimes spelled "duppioni" and "doupioni") comes from the Italian word "doppio," which means "double." If I understand correctly, that's because this fabric is made from the silk of two silkworms that have spun a cocoon together. Dupioni silk has variations in thickness, along with bits of cocoon left in the silk, which result in a nubby texture in the finished cloth. It's also woven with two threads. The finished cloth is sturdier than some other types of silk.

Dupioni silk - and any silk, really, I think - is gorgeous. Editorial note: I researched whether silk worms are killed when their cocoons are unravelled. Sadly, yes: The majority of silk worms are killed to obtain the cocoon, but a small percentage are left to live on. I now rank silk right up there with pearls when it comes to luxury materials that come with a high price on a few levels. (See my posting on pearls below.)

I will use it with respect.

The necklace below was inspired by a design I've seen in a couple of jewelry-making magazines and by ideas posted on Ornamentea's blog. I tried it first with strips of sari fabric I'd been storing for years, but they frayed much faster than the dupioni.

Have you made something similar? Send a good photo and I'll post it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snappy Chic

There's something very satisfying about finding odds and ends around the house and garage and incorporating them in jewelry. I enjoy putting together charm bracelets with unexpected materials - in this case, betel nut beads, old keys and toolbox finds, and big clothing snaps, all mixed together with lots of pretty glass and plastic beads.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love, Simply

A kindly shopkeeper (sounds like the beginning of a Dickens novel. . .) gave me a deal on some pale pink tape binding, which she had treated to give it a wrinkled finish. I held onto it for a few months until today. As I was paging through a magazine of necklace ideas, I was wishing I had the silk ribbon specified for a particular project, then remembered the pink binding. . .

With lots of changes (different beads, different ribbon, different closure), here is what I made. I call it "Love, Simply."
Love, Simply

If you're inspired by this design to create something, please send me a picture and I'll post it here. If you're selling it online, send me a link and I'll post that!

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Pearl of Great Price

If I love pearls so much, why do I hardly buy them anymore?

Their soft shimmer, their cool temperature in warm weather, their silky feel are wonderful. My first ring from my boyfriend in high school was a simple pearl ring; my husband's mother gave me a beautiful single pearl on a gold chain for my wedding; and my daughter has a single pearl that came from a ring inherited from my great-grandmother. My go-to earrings are simple dangles of Biwa stick freshwater pearls and tiny gold spacer beads.

I hardly buy real pearls anymore, however, including for my own beading. When I do buy them, they're usually on the clearance rack. I choose to buy them there not only to save money, but because I think the clearance rack is the last stop before goods are tossed into a box and shipped somewhere. I don't want those pearls to go to waste after everything it took to produce them.

A pearl is produced around an irritant within the soft tissue of a live mollusk. Like the shell of the mollusk, a pearl is composed of calcium carbonate, which has been deposited in layers. Because the most costly pearls are created in the wild without human intervention, pearls have come to signify a rare thing of great value.

Natural pearls (not formed through through human intervention) are very rare. Most of the pearls sold today are cultured or farmed pearls made by implanting tissue and possibly a form inside pearl oysters and freshwater mussels. That's why we can get the exotic shapes we see in stores: squares, coins, x's, hearts and so on. An implant is inserted into the living mollusk, which then coats it with nacre in response. Some very small oysters and mussels produce some very big pearls, relative to their size. Some types of mollusks survive the surgery to remove the cultured pearl and are put back in the water with a new form around which to create a pearl. Others are killed (and, I hope, used for food and other purposes) when the pearl is removed. Some types of mollusks are implanted with several forms at once.

More and more, I buy artificial pearls for my beading projects. In our eagerness for an affordable abundance of what was once a naturally-occurring gem, I'm afraid that we haven't weighed the costs of producing such an abundance. I consider any real pearls, natural or cultured, to be of great price and don't want to take for granted that a creature was involved in producing them and possibly had its life taken away to do so. I feel the same way about abalone and other shells; when I use them, I try to be mindful of how we got these gorgeous materials.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Second Take on Sara Rhoades' Award-Winning Design. . .

Wayyyy down below, I wrote about making my version of the grand-prize necklace in the Bead Star 2011 special issue. The original necklace, created by Sara Rhoades, is lovely!

This time around, I used natural polished hemp, hematite, turquoise, coral, freshwater pearls and turquoise-dyed howlite. What do you think?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Little Light of Mine

I spend a lot of hours alone at home, where I edit, translate and write. Then I spend some more time alone making jewelry. I have a loving family and many wonderful friends, and I don't mind the hours alone; in fact, I appreciate quiet hours during the day. But I don't want to go too deeply into solitude. One way I stay connected with others is through my jewelry-making.

I derive a lot of pleasure from watching friends' faces when they accept a necklace I've made with them in mind. Really listening to people is such an easy and meaningful way to learn what they want, what they enjoy, how they see themselves, how they would like to be. . . and making a piece of jewelry that reflects these aspects of their personality can, in turn, bring them much joy and help them feel validated as they realize that someone hears them and cares about their desires.

Have you given someone a handmade gift that clearly made an impact on both of you?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Congratulations, Dellian!

Congratulations to new subscriber Dellian, who won a bag of beads in my new-reader contest! Thank you, everyone who visited my blog and subscribed or became a member!

I'm going to run contests like this periodically. It's a fun way to build communication, especially for those of us who work from home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Free bag of beads!

Yes, it's true! I'm giving a free bag of beads to one blog visitor! Here's how you can get in the running to win. Just do at least one of the following:

1. Join this blog, OR

2. Sign up for email updates, OR

3. Sign up to receive automatic feeds.

That's it! I'm not collecting email addresses to sell, etc. I want to boost my readership and get a wider dialogue going with other jewelry-makers.

I'll pick a blog visitor randomly. If you've already joined in some way, you're also in the running.

Thanks for visiting! :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Working the 3 R's into Your Jewelry

I'm always on the lookout for interesting beads, components and materials to work into my jewelry. If it's something that has been recycled or an old item can be reused, all the better! A couple of summers ago, I stopped at a sidewalk bead sale in a little seaside town in Oregon. A strand of tiny red disks caught my eye, and the saleswoman told me they were made from old vinyl (or vulcanite) LP material. . . phonograph record vinyl! They'd been upcycled into shiny beads that formed a sleek, snaky strand.

I bought them and brought them home. Just the thought of reusing a material that had likely been stockpiled in warehouses for decades excited me. Eventually, when bead supplier Happy Mango Beads held a recycle-themed beading contest, I came up with an idea for those fantastic beads. I strung them (hundreds? Thousands?) on memory wire and included a few silverplated beads for additional interest. I simply formed loops at the ends to close the bracelet and added a dangle to one end. (You can also glue on end beads specifically made for use with memory wire.)

I ran out of those recycled beads quickly because people loved that bracelet design. It took me a bit of searching to find more, but lo and behold, it was Happy Mango Beads that carried them. Turns out, these beads are made in Africa. When they arrived in the mail, they were bigger than I'd expected and pretty dusty. I just rinsed them under running water and let them dry on a towel before working with them. As I cleaned them, I thought about the folks who made them in Africa and wondered what their working conditions were.

Although the beads were much wider than the ones I'd initially used, I figured I could still make the same style of bracelet with them, but it would have a different look. I played around a bit and decided to go bigger. The result was a slinky, squirmy, voluptuous bracelet that begged to be played with. I used the same simple technique for both bracelets, adding end dangles with an African flare to this bracelet. The bracelet is fabulous and incorporates material that might have gone into a landfill if someone hadn't come up with the idea of turning it into beads. Yay!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Be Your Own Best Advertising!

As I was getting ready to go to the dentist this morning, I decided to wear one of my handmade necklaces (in fact, the turquoise and coral creation near the bottom of the page). I figured I could give my business card to the receptionist or hygienist if either woman complimented me on it.

The hygienist commented on it right away. I took it off to show it to her more closely. She held it up to her own neck in front of the mirror and commented on how many outfits it would go with. I pulled out my card with my Etsy shop address on it. She asked about the cost and then said she'd love to buy it but would have to wait until her next paycheck. I could see that she truly liked it. I told her if she really wanted it, she could keep it and pay me when she gets paid. She looked surprised, then doubtful. I said, "Hey, I know where you work." :-)

Easy sale, happy customer, happy jewelry-maker.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Think Inside the (Tackle) Box

Lookee here!

I was raving about my friend's wire-wrapping skills today as I looked at her hematite bracelet. Turns out, the "wire-wrapping" is a lure she got from her husband's tackle box. Brilliant!

Thanks, JennRoxB, for this tip and photo!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Accidental Beauty

A long time ago (one year? Two?), our daughter dug up daffodil bulbs from an abandoned yard and brought us a big IKEA shopping bag filled with them. I set the bag on the ground near the spot where we sort cans and bottles for recycling.

Occasionally I'd walk by the bag and remember that I ought to put those bulbs in the ground.

Then I forgot about the bag as it became hidden by blackberry brambles and long grass.

A couple of days ago, I was walking past the spot and glanced over. It seems the bulbs were determined to sprout and weren't waiting any longer for me to take action.

Has this kind of thing happened in your jewelry-making? I'd like to hear your story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Try, Try Again

I was jazzed a few months ago when a Facebook acquaintance saw a picture of a necklace I'd made for a mutual friend and asked me to make one for her, too. Yes! Word-of-mouth in action!
I asked a few questions to make sure we were on the same page. The necklace I'd made for our mutual friend included steampunk elements and was about 52" long so the wearer could double or triple it. I'd used lots of upcycled materials in it, including chains from older necklaces and in various metal finishes.

From our Internet discussion, it sounded like she wanted a similar necklace but with turquoise and coral accents.

I made one over the next few days and mailed it to her.

I was pretty excited to hear about her reaction.

Well. . . We hadn't been on the same page. She didn't want steampunk. She wanted sterling silver. She's petite and wanted a much shorter, smaller necklace. She was sending me money (along with the returned necklace) to pay for my time and materials and asked me to make her something else.

After wiping my ego off the floor, I rallied and made a trip to a store one hour away for sterling chain, nicer turquoise chips and other special touches. In another couple of days, I mailed off a second necklace. THIS one was a winner. She thanked me profusely and told others about how much she loved her necklace.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Monday, and a happy vintage bauble mix

Yesterday I visited Baubles & Beads in Berkeley, California, for the first time. I'd driven by with my daughter almost a year ago and just missed their business hours, so this was a long-awaited treat.

Okay. . . I should insert the caveat that I've told myself NO MORE BEADS until I make several pieces from my enormous stash. But then I walked into Baubles & Beads and saw their display of vintage Lucite beads. Wow! Not only do they have a fabulous selection, but they offer packaged mixes of pre-wired Lucite baubles in different color families!

I confess: I picked up a couple. I also bought a few beautiful, clear blown-glass beads that look like big water bubbles. I have an idea for an underwater-themed necklace, and those could work as bubbles or fishnet floats.

Here's one of the Lucite mixes I bought, front and back. The other package is a turquoise/aqua mix. Baubles & Beads had a nifty necklace on display that showed one way of using such a mixture: They used a fairly heavy chain as the necklace base and hung the wire-wrapped baubles from the links, one bauble per link. Easy and striking!

Baubles & Beads is at 1676 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. They're on the web at By the way, if you have a resale permit and purchase $50 or more in beads, they give you a 20% discount. Which means I went back and bought more beads before checking out. :-)

The necklace below is one I made one year ago, using baubles I upcycled from clusters of artificial grapes! It's basically constructed the same way as the samples I saw yesterday, except the weight of these "grapes" pulls this necklace into a more defined V shape.

Friday, January 6, 2012

. . . And here is the knotted necklace, based on Sara Rhoades' gorgeous design in Bead Star

As I mentioned in my previous post, I bought the new Bead Star 2011 Special Issue magazine a couple of days ago. Featured on the cover is a grand prize design by Sara Rhoades. This necklace, which I call Turquoise and Coral Wanderings, is based on Ms. Rhoades' beautiful design.

In place of leather cord (called for in the directions), I used waxed cotton cord. I substituted black hematite beads for some of the pearl dangles called for in the directions as well, and I used small turquoise nuggets in place of turquoise heishi as used in the original. Other beads include white freshwater pearls, turquoise-dyed howlite, dyed coral slices, and three turquoise-dyed howlite daggers. Silverplated wire and silverplated headpins are used for wraps, and the clasp is a large silverplated lobster clasp.

This was a delight to make! Hats off to Sara Rhoades for her gorgeous design!

This version of the necklace measures approximately 22".

It's Knot So Difficult

I just bought a copy of the new Bead Star 2011 Special Issue magazine. Congratulations to all who won publication in this contest magazine!

Over the past two days, I've been working on the stunning necklace that won placement on the front cover. I'm about to glue the knots, and then I'll take a photo and post it. But I'd gotten all the way to the finishing knots when I realized that I didn't know how to make the called-for "surgeon's knot."

Of course I Googled it. I found a helpful diagram and am passing it along. If someone has a better learning source, please share it here!

How to tie a surgeon's knot

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Have you done a craft fair where the sales were pretty slow? Not just for you, but for other crafters around you? Have you tried bartering at the end of the day?

I sold jewelry at two craft fairs this Christmas season. Both had good turnouts from buyers, and I made quite a few sales. But I had so much inventory to pack and bring home at the end of the day that it looked like a daunting task. Also, I'd walked around the venues several times at each event and had seen a lot of beautiful creations I wanted to take home myself.

Later in the day at each event, I went to several women and asked them if they'd be interested in bartering at the close of business hours. Nearly all agreed. In exchange for pieces of jewelry, I brought home winter scarves made from upcycled sweaters; a sample of furniture paint and a how-to book; a pine cone topiary for my Thanksgiving table; fresh-baked cookies; pumpkin butter; cookbooks; a Christmas shadow box filled with jingle bells; vinyl lettering; and three sweet paper banners (see photo of one of them).

If you'd like to barter at a show, be sure to ask your fellow crafters quietly or when they don't have customers nearby. Barter at your posted prices so both parties know upfront what they can get for such-and-such an amount. Be sure to exchange business cards for future networking.

Maybe you can set up an event for crafters where all the business is done on a barter exchange! Try hosting an open house at your show where creative folks of many different stripes can set up their work and "shop" from everyone else's.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pandora Bead Earring Pattern

Here's a sweet earring pattern, courtesy of BeadStyle Magazine's e-newsletter. If you make a pair, send me your photo! I'd love to see what yours look like.
(Photo from the 10/26/11 BeadStyle Magazine newsletter)

Here's the link to the pattern; become a registered user of the BeadStyle Magazine newsletter to view the pattern: Easy, elegant pandora earrings - BeadStyle Magazine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nifty beading table, custom-made

I received a wonderful gift for Christmas: a custom-made beading table!

My hubby made this after watching me drop beads and magnetic clasps between the sofa sections on many an evening as we watched TV. (There's still a silverplated magnetic clasp in there somewhere, probably stuck to the metal recliner mechanism.) It's just right! It has:

- a removable, Scotchgarded light blue felt pad to hold beads in place and show them up better in dim lighting

- two cubbies below for supplies

- slots to hold tools at the back of the workspace

- a nice height for me when I'm seated on the couch, and

- casters for wheeling around the house.

If necessary I can plug in my magnifying lamp and set it on the work surface.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Like a bridge over troubled waters. . .

Our family experienced a sad ending to 2011 yesterday with the news that a friend had passed away after suffering a head injury. While praying for his family and thinking of them throughout the day, I pondered whether we should go ahead and attend a New Year's Eve party at the home of friends. My husband and I discussed it and decided to go; the hosts are also connected to the friend, and it seemed right to gather with them. First we shared our grief; then we ate, played games and welcomed in the new year. At the end of the evening, we agreed that it had been comforting to share that evening with one another.

Spending time with friends can be a huge comfort and restorative. So can working with our hands. I turn to beading often when I'm feeling worried, hurt, unsettled. . . As a writer, I've often thought that some of my best work came out of times when I was experiencing angst, and I feel that way about beading, too. I've created some very special pieces for friends going through troubled times, as a way to reach out to them. The gesture of presenting them with a handmade gift makes me feel useful and helpful when I don't see another hands-on way to help lift their burden a little.

Does beading have this restorative effect for you, too?