Studio Musings

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.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Would you like a PDF version of my original book, Freeform Peyote Beading?

 Today's the last full day for my Kickstarter project and it's time to pull out all the stops.

If we reach full funding by midnight tonight, I will add a digital (PDF) copy of my first book, Freeform Peyote Beading, to ALL pledges of $40 or more.  This is the first time that I have ever offered Freeform Peyote Beading in a digital format, and you will not see this again anytime soon. 

This is in addition to the specific rewards for your backing level and is my way of saying thank you for making my first Kickstarter a success.

But we're not there yet!  With 23 hours to go, we're currently sitting at 84% funding.  I need your support to make this happen.

Share the link on your Facebook wall and Become a backer today!  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Down to the Wire

If you've been on the fence about supporting my Kickstarter for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading, now is a great time to jump in as a backer.  We are coming down to the wire.  The campaign ends Friday morning at 9:45AM PST, so we're running out of time.

Special Incentives through Wednesday
But why wait until Friday?  Become a backer before midnight tomorrow, help me reach my Week Four Stretch Goals and reap the rewards along with all the other backers. 

  • 65 backers or 80% funding by midnight Wednesday, February 12th, I'll add an original beady sketch to the title page of every book ordered through this campaign.
  • 75 backers or 90% funding by Wednesday, I'll create a special digital addition and will send it to every pledge level from $5 up once the Kickstarter succeeds.  The addition will feature a photo essay of the construction process for a piece not included in my book, and will be exclusive to this campaign.   The project may not be a bracelet, but the tutorial will be similar to my Winter Blues Freeform Peyote Bracelet PDF tutorial currently available in my Etsy shop, but an entirely new design.  And only if we meet this stretch goal. 

Stretch Goals are Cumulative! When we reach the second stretch goal (75 backers/90% by Wednesday), I will draw beady sketches in all print books ordered AND send the exclusive digital addition to all backers at $5 or above. 

The stretch rewards are the same as last week, because I like them and I'd be thrilled to be able to add them to everyone's pledges.  But they will not be repeated again.  So if you like the idea of an original sketch inside your book (or even on a separate piece of paper if you prefer) and an extra PDF tutorial, then become a backer now. 

You'll be actively supporting the publication of the next book on Freeform Peyote.

Backer Levels and Rewards
You can pledge any amount from $1 on up, but here's a quick look at some of pledge levels available:

$1 - Community Spirit: Thanks for your support! I hope you’ll stay tuned to the campaign. Your name will be listed on a special page on my website as a supporter for this project. Don’t forget that you can always increase your pledge later. (And at $5 you're eligible for the second stretch reward listed above).

$10 - Name in Lights: Your name will be listed in a special acknowledgement section of my book as well as on my website and blog. You’ll also receive a personal email from me thanking you for your support.

$20 - Electric Dreams: You’ll receive a digital copy of the book (either PDF or Kindle if I reach my first stretch goal) at publication and a personal email from me thanking you for your support.

Peacock Spring PDF tutorial
$30 - Beta Tester: You’ll receive beta-versions of the book in PDF format delivered electronically on a 4-6 week cycle beginning as early as June 2014 and the finished ebook (either PDF or Kindle if I reach my first stretch goal) at publication. All supporters at this level or above will also receive a signed postcard from me thanking you for your support.

$35 - Digital Deluxe: Besides the Beta and Final digital versions of my book, you’ll also have your choice of TWO of my three freeform peyote bracelet PDF tutorials.  Choose from Ocean Currents, Peacock Spring or Winter Blues.  Includes the PDF tutorial only, not the beading kit.  My  bracelet tutorials typically retail for $12.00 each on Etsy.

$40 - Old School/Paper & Ink: You’ll receive a signed print copy of the book (with optional personal inscription), plus any applicable stretch rewards. Does not include a digital version of the book.

$60 - The Whole Shebang: You’ll receive a signed print copy of the completed book as well as digital and beta book versions. The print and digital copies will be delivered after publication, beta book editions to be delivered electronically on a 4-6 week cycle beginning as early as June 2014.

$90 - Double Trouble: Two signed print copy of the completed book as well as digital and beta book versions. The print and digital copies will be delivered after publication, beta book editions to be delivered electronically on a 4-6 week cycle beginning as early as June 2014. You will also receive two copies of any stretch rewards.

$150 - Kit and Kaboodle: The Whole Shebang plus your choice of one limited edition kit and tutorial based off of one of my freeform bracelets featured in the book. The kit will include the exact supplies I used in my piece and is ONLY available through Kickstarter. You will have two-three options to choose from. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a special blog hop/guest post in 2015.

 $500 - Virtually There: Four private, half-hour Skype sessions on the beading/design topic of your choice. I will contact you via email to set up the first session. Also includes The Whole Shebang (signed book, ebook and beta). Must be redeemed by December 2015.

I invite you to visit my Kickstarter page to learn more about this book and become an important part of the process. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Entering the Home Stretch

my Kickstarter Campaign as of February 6, 2014
We are entering the fourth and final week of the Kickstarter for my newest book project, Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.  This project is near and dear to my heart and there's not a lot of time left to make it succeed. 

Explorations will be a companion book to Freeform Peyote Beading, with new projects, new photographs, more and expanded beading diagrams covering more techniques, works by other artists and so much more. 

Without the support of the Kickstarter, I still hope to write and publish Explorations.  However, I fear its publication date may slip into 2015 as I will need to focus more of my time on activities that can help me cover expenses in 2014. I may also need to scale back on the scope of the project. 

And on a totally personal note - writing is lonely.  Knowing I have backers and people who want the project to succeed makes it less so.  Instead of writing for a nameless, faceless audience, I will be writing for you - my Kickstarter supporters - as representatives of my larger audience.

Interested in becoming a part of that community and helping to insure that Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading: Designing Original Art Jewelry and Beyond is published in time for Christmas 2014?  
Spread the word by sharing the link to your Facebook wall.  And if you're feeling generous, consider becoming an official backer of the project as well.  You will have my personal thanks, a chance to pre-order copies of the book along with other special incentives and the knowledge that you helped a new beading book see the light of day. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Superbowl Monday

I'm taking a break from my regular blog posts because I've never lived in a town whose team went to the Superbowl before.  Watching the excitement of the past few weeks has been a real hoot.  When the Seahawks made it to the playoffs, the excitement here in Seattle was palpable enough that even someone as sports-blind as I am noticed. 

When the Seahawks won the playoff games, and the town realized they were indeed headed to the Superbowl, the energy skyrocketed.  It's felt like the entire city has been on a roller coaster ride, waiting for the final game; 12th man fever running rampant.

My first indication that this wasn't going to be 'business as normal' were the blue and green lights decorating the trees in the plaza between the International Districts and the stadium.  Holiday lights had just come down the week before, so when I first saw them, I actually thought someone had made a mistake.  Nope.  New celebration. 

Since the Superbowl is in New Jersey, I'd expected it to be quiet around the stadiums (and my studio) after the playoffs.  Nope!  The closer to the game, the more people poured into the stadium district.  By Friday it had reached almost a carnival atmosphere, complete with people hawking 'limited-edition' Seahawks beads and pretty much everything else imaginable, guys playing pickup games of football, and families taking pictures of loved ones in front of the stadium.  The guy that runs the hotdog stand behind my building mentioned that the sports shop next door couldn't keep jerseys on the shelves. 

Speaking of jerseys and fan-wear, I've never seen so many bright green jackets in my life as I have in the past week, and it's occurred to me that someone was really clever - making sure that the Seahawks and Sounders both wear a very similar green. Fans of both can wear their Seahawks jerseys, Sounders jackets and a blue scarf and be perfectly accoutered to support the local team. 

A friend and I met at the studio on Saturday to work on paper mache armatures for a beading project she had begun a while back.  It didn't occur to me then, but on the bus ride home I noticed that her color scheme - blues, greens and teals, worked suprisingly well with the Seahawks colors too.  How did that happen?

At the bank, I was asked if I'd be watching the game.  I had to smile and say no, but was able to mitigate my response by passing out 'Go Seahawks' stickers that someone had handed me as they were still in my jacket pocket.  Every where I look, there are 12th man flags. 

Even the lattes at El Diablo, our favorite coffee shop got into the act!

Sunday morning, the atmosphere at El Diablo's could only be described as a tailgate party.  Everyone so happy, so excited, barely able to sit still, the adults far more excited than the kids.  As if everyone's birthday, Christmas and 4th of July had all been rolled into one.  And I started to really, really hope the Seahawks won.  Simply because everyone was going to be so sad if they didn't.  If they had lost, Seattle would have been one majorly depressed city. 

I was concerned enough that I checked the scores periodically to see how things were going.  But we knew when the Seahawks won, as fireworks erupted simultaneously from several different locations around our home. 

This morning the front page of the Seattle Times has the largest newspaper photo I've ever seen, stretching from the headline above to well below the fold proclaiming the win.  Eveyone I've met seems to be in a particularly good mood, but otherwise everything seems to have gone back to normal.  Party's over, real life returns.  Just a little happier than before.  So thanks Seahawks - you did a great job.

And whomever came up with the idea for the 12th man?  Amazing marketing!  Totally amazing.  I've never seen a town rally so totally around a team.