Studio Musings

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Little Gift for Boxing Day - Acorn Earrings Tutorial

I created these little acorn earrings earlier this Fall for the Creative Spark, an online magazine produced by Hope Smitherman and Znetshows.  I thought I'd share the tutorial here as well as a little something special for boxing day. 

Download the PDF tutorial now.

The download link will only be active through January 2nd, 2015.  You may share the link with friends and/or on social media through the 2nd.

After that, the tutorial will still be available in the Fall issue of  Creative Spark magazine. 

Happy Boxing Day!


Creative Spark Fall 2014 Fall 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sally Russick's Annual Ornament Swap/Hop

Back in late October, I received an invitation to participate in Sally Russick's Holiday Ornament swap.  Between the push to finish Explorations and its book launch, I knew this fall would be busy well into December.  But I couldn't resist saying 'Yes!!!!' to her invitation.  As Sally said, "it's a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season to connect with a old bead friend or make a new connection."

The only 'rules' are that you make the ornament yourself and that your ornament includes an art bead.

This year, it was my fortune to be paired with Therese Frank, an extremely talented bead weaver and a blogging friend of several years.  I was so pleased to hear I'd 'drawn' her name!  Therese's package was a feast for they eyes - she'd even decorated the outer box (unfortunately someone in my household recycled the box before I managed to snap a picture - next time I need to have my camera ready before I start unwrapping).

Inside the box, this is what I found:

Such Treasures!

Therese created the puffed star ornament using a tutorial from Joy Harmon Designs, embellishing it with a clay snowflake charm by Linda Landig.  It is so bright and cheerful, nestled amongst the lights on my Christmas tree.  Thank you Therese!   Once the tree comes down, after Christmas, this star will be moving to my studio to keep me company the rest of the year!

A couple of closer looks at Therese's ornament, along with a needlecase of her own design (she even filled the case with three John James sharps needles - my favorites!) and five polymer clay, cane beads that she had made.  Therese also included the wonderfully jolly St. Nicholas from her collection and a beautiful assortment of beads perfect for freeform peyote. 

Curious what I made for Therese?  Swing by her blog, Therese's Treasures, to see (hint - it definitely involves freeform peyote, because let's face it, that's where my mind has been this season....) 

Then continue on to see all the other holiday ornament creations - so much incredible talent!  

10.  Sandi Volpe  and Linda Landig  
11. Alicia Marinache  and Susan Kennedy  

Thank you Sally, for hosting this Swap Hop, and Thank you Therese!  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Books Are Here!

 Not one, not two, but four BIG boxes of books have arrived! Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading is now published! 

boxes of books for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

I was almost afraid to open the boxes.  What if I'd overlooked some terrible error in my final document files?  What if the books had all been damaged in shipping?  What if they weren't actually my book?  (okay, I was pretty sure that last one wouldn't be the case, but....)

After a series of deep breaths, I dared myself to open and unpack the boxes.  Here's what they looked like unpacked:

But a friend who watched me unpack the books said this picture was too boring.  So she made me pose with the books:

Can you can guess what I'll be working on this next week?

Actually, I'll be splitting my time between signing books and putting together packages, and continuing to work on the Kindle version of the book, (which is turning out to be every bit as difficult as I'd feared).

If you're interested, I have a very limited number of signed copies available on my Etsy store.  This first order is most of the books are already spoken for.  I will be placing another order, but likely won't have those books in until January.  Budget constraints - sigh!

As a special thank you for still following my poor, neglected blog; if you purchase my book through Etsy, write 'Congratulations Karen' in the notes to seller.  Do that and I'll include a set of five randomly chosen postcards featuring works from the book along with your book.

Just a heads up - Ordering directly through Amazon may be a less expensive option.  Because Createspace (my printer) is one of their subsidiaries and Amazon ships books in such volumes; they may be able to offer discounts that I simply can't.  Explorations should be live on Amazon by Monday. (12/2/2014 update:  Here is the link to Amazon).  But only I can offer personalized inscriptions and postcards!

This Thanksgiving weekend, I have an incredible amount to be thankful for.  I am grateful for my Kickstarter supporters who believed in this project from the beginning.  For my dear husband who led the cheerleading squad and cooked many a dinner when I was simply too tired.  For all of you, my blogging friends, who have sent me much needed words of encouragement throughout the process.  And I am so very, very pleased to be able to announce that the books are complete.  Amazing!

Thank you all for your part in helping make this happen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Cover for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

I've neglected my poor blog quite terribly this past year while working on my upcoming book.   In between book projects, I forget just how much work goes into self-publishing.  After designing, stitching and photographing new designs; writing the accompanying text; drawing illustrations on the computer; coordinating with my amazing cast of contributing artists; working through the seemingly never-ending tasks of page layout and design; then taking the manuscript through multiple revisions, there simply wasn't much of me left over.  But the good news is I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel! 

Explorations is heading to the printers this week, so I thought it was about time to post the front and back covers.    Drum roll please!

Kickstarter supporters got to vote on a couple of different cover designs earlier this month.   My Coral Dancer bracelet definitely came out ahead in the voting for the front cover.  Its bold colors carried the day.

The back cover features a collage of works by my seven featured artists: Georgia McMillan, Wendy Hatton, Cynthia Machata, Jennifer Porter, Nancy Dale, Janice Cuozzo and Natalia Malysheva.

The book topped out at 174 pages of freeform beady goodness.  Each of the featured artists has a five-page spread of their work.  Explorations also includes works by fourteen additional artists besides yours truly.

Once the book is at the printers,  I'll have a clearer idea of when I will have books in-hand.  At that point I'll set up my Etsy store to accept pre-orders.  I also hope to have a Kindle version out by mid-December.  That's a whole separate endeavor, and should be 'interesting' to say the least as this will be my first attempt to publish for Kindle.

But for now, I'm just going to bask in the glow of the new covers. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bead Shopping in Barcelona

Several people have asked if I bought beads while I was away, so before I write about our transatlantic, thought I'd share the results of my Treasure Hunt.  In my search for bead stores, I did find a few that sold seed beads, Antiga Casa Sala in particular, but I was looking for things that I couldn't purchase at home, that would remind me of Barcelona.  The search turned out to be more difficult than expected and my haul can only be labeled 'odd'.

I stumbled upon the first bead shop pretty much by accident.  I wish I'd written down their name and address because I never did find my way back there later in the week.  They carried loads of silver charms.  Though I don't actually know the metal content, and I'm not sure 'charm' is the right word when the smallest were 2-3 inches across (like the butterfly above).  I also bought two yummy packages of sequins, thinking of my friend Sarah over at Saturday Sequins, and some 'silver' findings.  No matter what the metal was, the pin backs seemed much sturdier and better constructed than those I've found in the states. 

Doing a little internet research from our hotel,  two street names kept coming up in my searches -  Carrer de Boqueria and Carrer de Call.  Both in the narrow, twisty streets of the Gothic district, and walking distance from our hotel.  So armed with our trusty tourist map, Joe and I set out in search of treasure.

Dyed tagua nut jewelry seemed really popular - even the corner newstands carried necklaces strung with whole tagua nuts dyed in bright, contemporary colors - turquoise, fushia and goldenrod the most popular.  Kind of wish I'd picked one of those up now, even though I still have no idea what I would have done with it.  In Antiga Casa Sala (the largest bead store I discovered) I found more natural colored tagua nuts cut into pendants with darker lines that remind me of roots or brances, so I did pick those up.  I also picked up two packages of abolone shell 'buttons', just because I thought they were so beautiful.

I found the lampworked chili peppers in a that sold all sorts of weird and odd items.  Technically, they were wholesale only (if you see the sign 'vente al mayor' it means 'wholesale only'), but the saleswoman didn't even glance at my business card before ringing me up. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Visiting Barcelona

Earlier this month, Joe and I both packed up our laptops and headed out on our much-postponed 20th anniversary trip (we celebrated out 21st anniversary while away to give some idea of how long it took us to actually go on this trip).  For years, we'd talked of taking a transatlantic cruise and finally had the chance. 

From one standpoint, the timing wasn't great - Joe's start-up was in crunch mode and I was (and am) behind with where I need to be for my book.  But from another, I don't think the timing could have been better.  The entire trip was so energizing - refilling our creative batteries to overflowing and (for me at least) giving me blocks of totally uninterrupted time to work on my book.  While I'm still behind, I am amazed and pleased to say that I made up significant ground while away.

Enough of that, let's get into the trip.  Our cruise started out of Barcelona, a city I'll admit to knowing next to nothing about two years ago when we first started planning the trip.  We decided to add several days to the front of the trip to explore the city, and I am so glad!

Like so much of Europe, Barcelona has in incredibly rich, vibrant history.  We walked through Roman ruins below the streets at the MUHBA (the Museum of History of Barcelona), through the medieval streets of the gothic quarter, toured Gaudi's incredible artistry at the Paula G├╝ell, all within walking distance of our hotel!

I'd booked us at the Atiram Oriente hotel, right on Las Ramblas - the pedestrian boulevard and promenade that cuts through the heart of Barcelona.  I put a little red star on the map in the background of the collage to show where we stayed.  The beds were hard, but the location was perfect!  The photo in the lower left corner shows the view of Las Ramblas from our room.

A 'street' in the Gothic quarter

Our first day of exploring, jet lagged and a bit disoriented, we wandered into the narrow, crooked streets of the Gothic quarter.  After meandering a while, the little street suddenly opened out into a large stone plaza. In front of us stood the Cathedral!  We spent the next two days exploring our little corner of Barcelona on foot. It was such fun, plunging into the stone alley/streets (most of which were pedestrian only) and just seeing where they'd take us.  There's a lot of Barcelona we did not see, but that's okay.  Should we ever make it back that way, we can explore some more.

A wall on the side of the cathedral - the different materials me think of freeform peyote!

Since we both had to work, we fell into a sort of pattern where we'd pull out our laptops and spend a couple of hours working each morning, then go out exploring.  When it got to hot (we are both heat wimps, coming from Seattle), we'd head back to our hotel for a siesta.  Afterward, we'd go out exploring again for a couple of hours, then put in a couple more hours on the computer.  By then it would be 8-9 at night and we'd head out for dinner (and a Flamenco show one evening).

The last day before our cruise, we took an all-day tour through Explore Catalunya.  I'd come across their site researching Barcelona, and knew that we had to do their day trip to Tarragona as soon as I saw it.

Roman aqueduct and circus in Tarragona, Spain
My husband has been fascinated by the Roman empire for as long as I've known him.  Before we'd met, he'd traveled to Rome, but this was our chance to explore a bit of the empire together.  The aqueduct spans a small valley between two hills.  The precision of the engineering is incredible - each block was so precisely quarried and it still shows.  Since it's outside of the city in a protected nature area, the air quality is quite good which means that the stones haven't been worn by pollutants the way they have in other areas. Stepping out of our little van (there were 6 people on the tour, including the two of us), the air smelled so good, redolent with the resinous smell the Mediterranean plants.

A closer view of the 2,000 year old aqueduct

In Tarragona, we also had a chance to explore the remains of a Roman Circus on our own.  I hadn't realized it, but a 'circus' is the arena where they held their chariot races.  Some of the stadium still exists - but there's even more of their underground tunnels, which run the length of the original arena.  It's a humbling feeling, walking through something built by people who have been gone for thousands of years.  I am always so awed by the sheer artistry of the Roman empire - like the draping of the clothing in the marble statue in my photo collage.

Hanging out on the rooftop of the Palau Guell

The next day, we packed up, did a little more work on our laptops, had a leisurely breakfast sitting at one of the open air restaurant areas in front of our hotel, then took a taxi down to the dock to board our ship for the transatlantic crossing.  But this post has grown quite long and I need to get back to working on my book, so I think I'll close here for now.  That means I'll have at least two posts this month, as I've promised several people I'd write about our transatlantic as well. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tales from the Tyler Bead Retreat

I've been home now for a couple of days and just starting to get back into the swing of things after returning from the Tyler Bead Retreat.  Organized by the amazing Belinda Defoor, the Retreat is a truly wonderful weekend with a stellar line up of classes - any of you living down that way I highly recommend you check it out (she'll be hosting another retreat in October). 

from left, Mandi Ainsworth, Ralonda Patterson and Karen Williams
Mandi, Ralonda and me with a packed to the gills Prius ready to hit the road
Mandi Ainsworth grabbed me at the Dallas airport, then she, Ralonda Patterson and I packed the car and headed out.  Road trip to Tyler!  Facebook friends might have seen the selfie Ralonda took of us - three teachers in a Prius!   

I was absolutely amazed we all fit.  I think Mandi's Prius might actually be a TARDIS in disguise.

the main beading room, my spot is in the lower right corner!
The retreat itself was a blast!  This being my second time around, I actually knew people (besides Mandi and Ralonda) this time.  What fun it is to walk into a room and have people you haven't seen in a year recognize you and realize you recognize them in return. 

And so much space.  The main beading room was huge, with big round tables and lots of room in between.  Made it really easy to visit other tables and see what everyone else was working on.

Catch of the Day necklace and pendant by Karen Williams
I taught two classes.  And have to admit to a slightly embarrassing secret.  I have two different fishy classes that both go by the same name at the moment.  There's the chatelaine I'll be teaching for Fusion Beads come August.  Then there's my latest class, inspired by one of the necklaces I made for Lori's Bead Soup Party last year.  This one features a fish pendant made from a modified right angle weave bezel (RAW being my second favorite stitch behind peyote.)

Both classes are currently titled "Catch of the Day".  Technically, the title really does work for both as whichever I happen to be teaching that particular day could reasonably be considered the 'catch of the day'.  But, it lacks a certain clarity. 

So now I need to find a new name for one of them.  Ideas anyone?

Lisa Steven's freeform peyote pendant
I also taught a short freeform peyote ruffles class.  Happy me.  Since we only had three hours, the class focused on making a pendant or brooch. 

Where my fish class was packed - I think I had something like eighteen students - there were only two people in my freeform class.  Some of that may have had to do with the freeform class starting at 8:30am!  But it was such wonderfully restful, yet creative class. Interestingly, both of the students in my freeform class had been in my fish class the night before, too.

Lisa Steven's finished up her freeform pendant later that day and allowed me to take a picture.  Didn't it turn out beautifully? 

Bead Crazee's store at Tyler Bead Retreat
snapped this picture as they set up one morning
One of my favorite (and most dangerous) luxuries of being at the retreat was that the local bead store, Bead Crazee, moved the better part of their shop into the other half of the conference ballroom.  This included an incredible selection of Toho Bead seed beads laid out in an easy to browse rainbow array. 

Perfect for designing. 

Just steps away from my seat! 

See what I mean about dangerous? 

My beady purchases
I was amazed and impressed that I managed to get away so lightly. 

I bought the spools of 0ne-G from Cynthia Rutledge - she turned me on to the beading thread at last year's retreat.

Now, it's back to work on my book.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Double Header Beading Workshop August 2nd & 3rd

The first weekend in August, I'll be teaching a Beading Double Header, with back-to-back workshops on Saturday and Sunday at Fusion Beads.

Catch of the Day Chatelaine, Saturday August 2nd

First up is my debuting workshop, Catch of the Day Chatelaine. These are a larger variation on my popular Fancy Fish pattern. Still working with right angle weave, these fish a considerably larger, with seaweed fringe tails and fins and designed to hang as a pendant from a 'float' bead with decorative bead caps to complete the look.



Lacework Bracelets, Sunday August 3rd

Followed by my three-hour Lacework Bracelets workshop. This is one of my favorite classes and techniques! Random right angle weave is an incredibly versatile stitch and the finished bracelets have the organic look of freeform lace.

Signups started last week, but there's still space in both classes. If you're going to be in Seattle this Summer, definitely check out Fusion Beads' full class schedule. They have classes in bead weaving, wire-working, metal smithing and so much more!



Monday, May 5, 2014

Artists' Roster for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading (First Draft)

A month after the Call for Artists officially closed, I can now announce the names of many of the artists whose work will be included in Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.  I've tried to hold off until I had the final photographs and signed contracts from everyone, but this process has turned out to be far more involved than originally anticipated, with delays on both sides of the equation.  

Rather than continuing to wait until I have absolutely everything in hand, I thought I'd give at least a partial list of names today, with more to come.  The current list includes:

Mary Kearney
Cortney Phillips
Marsha Melone
Lisa Jones
Beth McGowan
Marlene Oman Emmons
Sherry Eagle
Liz Hart
Mary Foyes

These artists contributed jewelry and sculptural works spanning a huge range of styles.  From the sleek simplicity of Bobbie Rafferty's freeform peyote and wireworked earrings to the stunningly organic Seahorse sculpture by Beth McGowan, their work helps tell the story of the possibilities of the medium.   I am excited to announce that Explorations will be a truly international book, with work by artists from three countries.

Featured Artists

The book will also include a more in-depth look at the works of four to six artists.  Right now, I have locked down

Janice Cuozzo
Natalja Malysheva
Georgia McMillan
Jennifer Porter

I'm hoping to square things away with two more amazing artists here very shortly - as soon as I know for sure, I will let you know.  One has had family issues which may keep her from participating.  If she can't participate as a featured artist, I'm hoping to at least include images of one or two of her pieces.  Keep your fingers crossed!

freeform peyote fish by Georgia McMillan
freeform fish by Georgia McMillan

Figuring out which images to use in this blog post has been really tricky, as I don't want to 'spoil the surprise' as it were, but I also do want to give you a taste of what's to come.  I finally decided to settle on just the one picture of a freeform fish by Georgia McMillan.  Hope you like. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I'm Blaming it on the Wood Horse

This year has been crazy busy, with one thing piling up right behind the next in a never ending stream constantly threatening to overflow its banks.  My only consolation is I have the feeling it's not just me.  Everyone I talk to seems to be experiencing the same thing - an almost out-of-control roller coaster of activity. 

Can you believe it's already May? 

I've decided to blame it on the Wood Horse.  It was my mother-in-law's suggestion during our last phone conversation.  According to the Chinese zodiac, this year is expected to be fast paced and full of conflict.  Haven't seen the later (knocking on wood here, just to be safe), but the pace is right on with me running to keep up. 

Working on my book project, I'm still in the data collection, aggregation and organization stage.  Haven't had much time to blog, but I had a strong response to my call for entry.  It's been a much more detailed and time intensive process than I'd expected.  The final results are going to be so worth it though!  I promise to write a more detailed blog post about that shortly. 

Exploration's first beta version is due out in June, so this month I need to spend some serious time with my computer.  I'll be creating new diagrams, writing text and starting the process of massaging it all into a useable book format. 

This month I also plan to catch up on blogging, with a series of posts about what I learned from running my Kickstarter campaign, running the Call for Entry and playing with possibilities for a new organizational structure for Explorations

But that's enough about me for now.  How about you?  Has this year seemed busier or more complex than normal?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interview with Cynthia Machata of Artisan Whimsy

cover page of March/April 2014 issue of Artisan Whimsy emagazine
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of corresponding with Cynthia Machata, Lead Editor for Artisan Whimsy: A Creative Bead Chat, asking about my work with freeform peyote, self-publishing, teaching and more. 

Artisan Whimsy is the brainchild of Melinda Orr, with the goal of 'bringing the handmade beading/jewelry community together in a place where newbie or skilled artisans could share and learn'.  The free online magazine definitely lives up to it's vision.

The content of these online magazines is more fluid than the mainstream publications we all already know and love.  A single issue may combine artist interviews (such as the one featuring yours truly, starting on page 78 in case you're curious), sneak peaks into artists' studios, lots of gorgeous eye candy for inspiration, and a variety of short tips and tutorials, including tips and techniques for beading, wirework, manipulating photos, improving one's blog and running a craft-based business.  They can even include embedded video tutorials. 

Interested in writing an article?  Consider submitting your idea!
 A little peak inside (I think the layout and design is lovely): 

In parting, I'll also add a shout out to Creative Spark, another free glossi edited by Hope Smitherman and produced by ZnetShows.  Especially if you have a love for crystals or sea glass. 

Do you have a favorite online beading magazine?  I'd love to hear. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Join me for beading fun at Fusion Beads

Teaching workshops is one of my absolute favorite things.  I love the creative synergy that in-person workshops engender, where everyone in the class becomes an additional source of inspiration.  It's nice getting out of the studio and sharing what I love with other beady folks.  And I have two of my favorite workshops coming up in the next few weeks. 

Interested in creating your own Fancy Fish Friend?

Fancy Fish workshop at Fusion Beads in Seattle, Saturday, March 29th
Fancy Fish workshop at Fusion Beads in Seattle, Saturday, March 29th
These little guys are the top selling pattern in my Etsy shop, and I'll be teaching them at Fusion Beads on Saturday, March 29th.  Need to come up with

Or how about some freeform fun while creating your own Personal Planet?

Personal Planets freeform peyote beaded beads, Saturday April 12th
Personal Planets freeform peyote beaded beads, Saturday April 12th

These freeform beaded beads are a great introduction to freeform peyote, and a thoroughly fun way to play with color.  Best yet, they are quick!  Especially compared to most other freeform peyote.  Join me on Saturday, April 12th, again at Fusion Beads.

Download Fusion Bead's full spring schedule by clicking this link.  Call or stop by to signup, 206-782-4595 from 10am-7pm PST.

Three Fancy Fish by Gabby Guset, Vala Richmond and Jade Chan
Fancy Fish by Gabby Guset, Vala Richmond and Jade Chan from my last workshop

Friday, March 14, 2014

Would you like to see your work in print?

Would you like to see one of your freeform peyote beading pieces in a book?  I'm still accepting submissions for inclusion in my upcoming book, Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.

What I'm looking for are original designs, high-quality photos and a wide range of styles.  The predominant beading style of all work submitted for consideration must be freeform peyote, though pieces may include other beading styles, stitches and media.  Works may be jewelry, accessories or small sculptural pieces.  This is open to all artists both within the United States and abroad.

The deadline is March 31st 2014, which is fast approaching.

I'm looking for both finished pieces and for artists willing to show a peak into their process.  Here's the skinny:

Finished Works
I need finished pieces to help showcase the breadth and depth of the medium and to help illustrate specific design and construction techniques.  I'm looking for both Rock Star stand-out pieces and good solid samples of freeform peyote design. 

If I use your work, the caption will include the your name (and your photographer’s name, if different) and the title of your piece.  I will also include your name and the title of your piece in an index of photographs, with a link/URL to your website, blog or estore (limit one URL).  In addition, each artist will receive a digital copy of the completed book.

Share Your Process & Become a Featured Artist
My goal here is to show how other artists tackle the construction and design process.  Besides photographs of the finished piece, I'm also looking for several process photos illustrating the key points in helping someone else understand what you are doing.  A photograph of your source of inspiration or any design sketches is also welcome.  Include some written commentary explaining your process and process photos (2-3 paragraphs). 

If you are chosen as one of my featured artists, you will receive a print copy of the finished book and a $50 token of appreciation for your contribution. 

Interested in Submitting a Piece?  
Read through the general guidelines below

Please use my Submission Form!   I am not trying to be contrary here, but it helps insure that I receive all of the information I need and keeps all of the information in one place so I don't accidentally lose track of what you have submitted.

Due to upload limitations, the maximum file size for each image is 3MB, with a maximum of three images per entry.  You may submit up to two Call for Entry applications if you would like to submit more than three images. Please let me know if you have larger or other versions of your photographs available. 

General Guidelines
Copyright:  Only submit work for which you are wholely responsible for both the design and construction.  If your work was inspired by the work of another artist, please include the name of the artist and their work, explaining how it acted as your inspiration.

Works submitted for consideration should be relatively new, produced within the past three years, preferably that has not been published in any other print format, to avoid potential licensing infringements.  If your work has been reproduced in another book or magazine, you must let me know where as there may be copyright/licensing issues involved.  If your work has appeared on a blog or other digital format, please let me know this as well (including URLs where available) and whether it was that particular photograph that was used for the site.

Licensing: If your work is accepted into this project, you agree not to publish your work in any other format (including your personal blog and social media pages) until the publication date of the book, or December 31, 2014 if the book has not yet been released.  You retain all rights to your photograph and to the original work.  You grant Karen Williams and Skunk Hill Studio the right to reproduce photographs of your work in print and digital formats, including publicity materials (websites, press releases, blog posts, postcards, etc) related to the book.

Image Format & Sizes:  Images may be submitted as .JPG or .PNG.  Minimum file size (1500x2000pixels), Maximum file size 3MB (3072KB).  If your image is selected for inclusion, I may contact you to see if it is available in a larger format.

Photography Tips:
Backgrounds: Keep the background simple and appropriate for the piece.  Neutral backgrounds - white or black - work really well so long as they read as white or black in the photograph (whites that look yellow are hard to correct without losing color details in the piece, for instance).  More detailed backgrounds can also work, so long as they help tell the story of the piece without overwhelming it.  A fantastic guide to taking great photos is The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum (I wrote a more detailed review here).

Color:  Make sure the photo is as close to true color as possible!  If you are submitting multiple shots of the same piece, make sure that the colors remain consistent between photos.

Focus:  I can't stress this one enough!  The focal point of your photograph must be crystal clear.  I want people to be able to see individual beads.  If you're photographing a larger work, such as a necklace, the entire piece may not be in focus due to depth of field issues.  This is okay so long as the most important part of your piece is in crystal focus. 

Process photos - it's extremely important that these be on a solid, neutral background (white, grey, cream or black).   I take process photos on my bead mat which has a very fine texture - that's fine so long as it comes across as subtle texture and not wear.  It's okay to have stray beads mat, so long as they don't interfere with the viewers ability to see the photo's focus.   Watch out for stray pet fur, lint and other stray bits though. 

In taking process photos, try to come up with the key points in helping someone else understand what you are doing.

Any questions?  Let me know!  I look forward to hearing from you.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reigniting the Spark

In some ways, the worst part about being ill is trying to figure out how to catch up again once you're finally feeling a bit better.  At least, this is the way it is for me.  Last week I was down for the count with the stomach flu, and when I finally started feeling well enough to get back to work, things had piled up so high I felt like I was staring at a mountain of jumbled objects all piled and tangled together with a big sign on top proclaiming "Urgent". 

Getting started again, I realised I was faced with two parallel challenges.  The overwhelming size of the assorted pile of to-dos frankly made me want to hide lest it all collapse on top of me.  While a residual creative lethargy left me feeling like I didn't have much of interest to offer.  Between the two, procrastination sounded better and better, except of course it only makes the pile grow larger, which I know makes it harder to get traction once I do finally get started, which makes me want to hide even more.  One of those vicious cycles that I know all too well.

I thought I'd share my strategies for circumventing this cycle:

Start by Making Lists.  I love lists, so throughout the day on Saturday I wrote down everything that I could think of that needed to be done, organizing as I went, piling like tasks next to like.  And figuring out which tasks needed to be completed first, looking for potential bottlenecks.  This is where I get to play project manager. 

Next was figuring out what I felt I could DO first.  I found myself likening my To-Do list to a giant pile of Pick-up Sticks.  Using that analogy, I looked for the easy sticks and the high value sticks, and when I found one that matches both, I tagged it for the next day's schedule.

Beading sounded impossible on Monday, but I could go through my email and update my backer spreadsheet with all the returned surveys.  Nothing exciting, but something that needed to be done, and something I felt capable of doing.  That led me to Tuesday's work, where I decided to seriously revise one of my freeform bracelet tutorials, creating half a dozen new diagrams and expanding the tutorial by two pages.  Working on that smaller project made it easier to get back into working on my larger book project on Wednesday and suddenly I was ready to start stitching again as well. 

Straighten some part of your surroundings.  When I'm sick, I'm afraid I'm a bit of a slob.  When I'm well, the mess makes it harder to focus on what I want to do.  But at the same time, I feel so behind that I don't want to take time out for a full cleaning.  So instead, I use 'down' times when I'm not feeling up to anything else to pick up and straighten my most important work areas.  Simply the act of being in my work space, even if it's only for cleaning, makes me feel more ready to work.

Do things that support your success.  These can even be really silly little things.  Such as gold stars.

no one will accidentally mistake my laptop for theirs!
When I'm feeling particularly uninspired, I break out my stash of star stickers.  When I complete an item on my list, I give myself a gold star (okay, they are red, green, purple and blue as well as gold, but that makes them more fun).  The back of my laptop is liberally sprinkled with these guys from meeting various writing goals.  I might even give myself a star for writing this post.  The key is to celebrate in some small way my victory.  And when I see the little stars, they make me smile and remind me that I CAN.  I can write, I can stitch, I can draw, I can come up with new designs;  all of these things are possible if I simply start. 

A silly, small celebration for a little victory, but that's what life is truly made of - lot's of little decisions, little actions that taken together become one's life.

I'm also a great fan of audiobooks when I'm stitching.  Most recently, I've been listening to Lois Bujold's "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance".  It's a light-hearted, thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi romp, one of the latest in her long-running Vorkosigan series.  I was able to check the digital download out from my local library.  The story is so fun that it makes me want to stitch just a little bit longer so I can 'hear what happens next', because I'm only listening to the story while I stitch. If you're curious about the series, I recommend you start with Warrior's Apprentice

So that's my strategy for catching up and circumventing the start of an artistic dry cycle.  What are some of your most successful strategies for keeping on track? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading is a Go - Thanks to these Incredible People

Last Thursday I had the privilege of witnessing the wonder that can happen when a community rallies behind a cause.  With less than twenty four hours to go, the messages fairly flew across Facebook, spilling over into Twitter and Google+, with everyone urging their friends to support my book and Kickstarter project before it was too late.

I felt like I was at command central for some major launch facility, trying frantically to keep up with the traffic and respond to emails and queries real-time.  Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing, wonderful craziness that was Thursday.

By the time the dust settled and the campaign closed Friday morning, the number of backers had nearly doubled and the Kickstarter had SUCCESSFULLY FUNDED! (According to Kickstarter's stats, only 43.5% of campaigns are successful -  we are among that happy minority!)  We are now full steam ahead for production of Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.

Thank you to everyone who joined in the first days of my campaign.  There wouldn't have been a campaign without your strong, steady support.

Thank you to everyone who helped to spread the word.  Many of you were absolute rock stars with this!  Thursday, I learned the true power of such advocacy. 

And thank you everyone who threw in your weight on the last day to make this happen.

Here's the roll call of the amazing community behind this project:

Backers for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

Bobbie Rafferty, Tina Clark, Sally Russick, Judy Pennington, Michael Randall, Sophia Owens, Judy Jacobs, Judith Deshaies, Patricia Flowers, Aleta Ford Baker, Jeffrey Chou, Fiona Cockwill, Sheron Buchele Rowland, Tilinka, Tanya Goodwin, Saturday Sequins, Leah Kaufman & Nathan Clarenburg, Liz White, Julie Schmidt Bowen, Lori Finney, Kim Dworak, Francie Broadie, Jennifer Porter, Tamera Mickelson, Vala Richmond, Chris Simmons, Stacy Lynne Hotes, Lynn Apple Get, Margo Lynn Hablutzel, Liz Hart, Tammy Bowman, Bonita Kroon, Angela Fazio, Margaret St. John, Karin Slaton, Lois Buhalis, Alisa Siceloff, Mandi Ainsworth, Anahita Esnaashari-Esfahan, Nada Djordjevic, Robin Coventry, Connie S Gordon, Amanda Wacasey, Caroline G Heck, Marlene Emmons, Cynthia Hambrick, Melody Anne Martin, Patricia Richey, Glen Lawrence, Tres Henry, Carla J Mazzone, Crystal Ludlow, Veralynne Malone, Roxanne Moore, John C Hay, Carrie Johnson, Alan Nichols, Kathleen Standard, Leanne Kirsch, Dixie Polakoff, Ruth Duck, Jan Tharaldson, Mowse Doyle, Jean Hutter, Shirley Moore, Yvette Benjamin, Julie Vasquez, Elizabeth Gillespie, Diana Hofmann, Natalja Malysheva, Cortney Phillips, Bev Choy, Lisa Jones, Nancy Dale, Susan Kirby, Panther Berg, KJ L, Anne Marie Desaulniers, Michele Soncrant, Cynthia Machata, Aglarele, and Alainn Jewelry.

I copied this list directly from everyone's Kickstarter profiles.  I'll be checking with each of you before I add your names to my website and to the book to make sure it appears as you'd like.

About half of the backers listed their hometown in their Kickstarter profile, so I plugged those into a map, courtesy of  If you didn't include a hometown in your profile, I didn't add a pin, even when I personally knew the address.  But I do know there are international backers from at least two additional countries. 

about half my backers shared 'hometown' info in the Kickstarter profiles
Closeup of some of my US backers including two from Hawaii!
What an incredible tool the Internet can be for connecting communities of like-minded people from around the world!  If you're a backer and don't see a pin for your hometown - let me know and I'll be happy to add it.

And thank you all, my blog readers, for bearing with me over the past month.  Expect at least one more Kickstarter post - this one about lessons learned. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Color of Red Challenge

This month, over on the Freeform Peyote Beading Facebook Group, we issued a challenge to use red in a piece. Anything from a wash of red to a single drop - the choice was left to each member, with encouragement to tell us about any special meanings the color has for you in your piece.
Today's the day for the reveal. You can see the results in The Color Red Facebook album, and in this blog hop.

The Danger Zone, with lampworked bead by JJ Jacobs
Here's a peak at my piece entitled, "The Danger Zone" because the bold colors mixed with black reminded me of caution and warning signs contrasting against rain darkened ashpalt.
Not the best photography - remind not to plan a challenge reveal the day following the end of a Kickstarter campaign the future! I'd forgotten that I had meant to take better pictures until I sat down to write this post.

I encourage you to a moment visit the other participants of this Blog Hop and to enjoy the works in the Facebook album. You won't be disappointed!

On Monday, I promise a post about my Kickstarter - thank you all again for making it such a rousing success! But for today the focus is on the works by this fabulous group of artists.