Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On Crafting, Creating, and Marriage

I've been spreading my wings and trying different crafts, non-jewelry things. One thing I really like to do is put together digital designs. I don't really like to create the files, so much. (That's really weird for me. I'm the baker who wants to grow her own grains, pummel the dough to death by hand, and recreate the recipe every single time.) Oh, sorry. Where was I? I like to make digital pictures. This week I put these two together:


 Please don't download them, but  you can purchase them here or here. Thank you!

I've also been making wreaths, not such an exciting thing since everybody makes them. But I never have! I found out I *really* like making them:


The yellow one is actually hanging on my front door at this very moment. Here's another. Can you tell I love color?

So what is the problem with trying all these things? For one, I don't have enough time for a zillion projects. Nor do I have the room, especially since I don't know how to clean up after myself. Another problem is that hubby thinks I should stick to one thing. Probably because....I don't clean up my little piles of beads, snips of scrap paper, and umm.

There's paint on our new footstool.

And you know, you can say "no man is gonna tell me what to do " or whatever but the fact is he lives in the house too. And he has an itty bit of say in what goes on.

I could just tell him that "CRAFTS" is one great big category. It encompasses everything.

Here's the biggie. I would really love to have a signature style, or product, or SOMETHING. Right now I am a dabbler. I dabble here and there and never actually become "she makes awesome art dolls" (or paintings, or doodles).

I guess it takes all this dabbling to find the thing you love.

One thing I love is oil painting, and another is playing the piano. So I'm trying to put more of those into my life. And I am trying to listen to myself before/during/after I create: Is it deeply satisfying? Did I get to exercise my "creativity muscle" enough?

I think I create for the sake of the process, not really for the end result. I do it because I love the doing. And I feel almost embarrassed when people gasp and say how did you ever make that. I do it because it's inside of me.

So I'm wondering, fellow crafters --is that how it is for you too?

And how did you find your "style"? Was it by constantly practicing it? Did you know it when you found it? Did you develop it, consciously and on purpose? Readers, let me know! And if you'd like to guest blog about it tell me that too, cuz I bet I'm not the only one wondering.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lovin' Me Some Bead Soup (Tutorial)

Making Bead Soup

I love the term bead soup, because it just exactly describes what we beaders do. We throw in different sizes, shapes, and colors of beads until they become the right mixture for the project at hand. 

It’s not simple, though; you have to have “highlights” and “shadows” just as if you were painting a picture. That goes double if you have an item in mind you want to bead around.

Here’s mine

You generally want about 3 colors in your soup, and then several variations of each color. Here's what I had to start with. The light green beads are size 11 matte seed beads. The darker ones are also 11s, and the aqua beads with the clear around them are called color-lined, so they'd be something like "aqua-lined crystal size 8".

Below are some other beads (they are in the box, but I pulled them out so you could see). These are all larger than seed beads, maybe 6 mm for the sandstone and 8 for the unakite. The shiny polished stones are aventurine, and I don't know what the others are!

Below are more seed beads that went into the mix. I thought that a burnt umber or rootbeer shade would match the "tree" in the center of my focal bead. (Doesn't it look like a tree?)

All 3 of the beads to the left are called rootbeer color, but the styles are different so I wanted you to see them. The leftmost box is size 6 "transparent rainbow matte rootbeer." The next box is called glass transparent rootbeer. They're straight-up brown, no rainbow coating. The 3rd box is silver-lined and they're size 8. The box on the right is size 15, teeny tiny beads. They have a metallic coating. 

As you can tell, Root Beer is a color I use a lot! It goes easily with greens, coral/orange, or pretty much anything on the warm side of the color  wheel.

 I chose dark green, brown/red, and lighter green as my main colors. Sometimes you need to add the color that's across the color wheel from the main color; that will help create the right soup.

And here’s the bead soup as I made it:

Think of your main color as the medium shade. You want some lighter ones for highlights, and some darker shadow colors. You'll also like it better with different textures, shapes, etc.
I'm feeling a little limited because I made a resolution this year to use what I already have. 

See the strand of light (almost lime) green beads off to the right? They, and the bigger beads the same color that are already in the soup, are too light.

Above: I tried adding more dark beads to offset the light color, but it still wasn't working.

You wouldn't think gray could work, but it looks like a neutral against the darker beaded cabochon. I put those in.  Finally I removed the bigger green ones, must've been after the photo shoot.

Here’s the final outcome of the soup:

Those unakite beads are just right with this mix! So glad I had them!

And I’ll post the finished project….errr…..soon! Sometimes I make up the mix but it takes me ages to get the whole thing completed. 
Enjoy making your own bead soup. 

The TN Beader is now happily ensconced in Florida, but somehow the FL Beader just doesn't have the same ring. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why I Switched to The Craft Star, and Why You Should Too

When I started out selling my jewelry online, I built my own website. But pretty soon I found Etsy, and I eventually let my site go in favor of selling on Etsy. It's a venue with 850,000 other crafters, and I thought there would be power in numbers. Apparently a lot of other sellers felt that way too.

I tried a couple of other sites: Ruby Lane had a creative branch, but I never had sales there. Same thing with Artfire. So it dwindled down to my Facebook page and Etsy.

Etsy has some rather serious pervasive problems. The company, for whatever reason doesn't seem to like sellers communicating too much with each other. They shut down the chat feature in 2011. They allow users to post on a public board, but randomly shut down the conversations. They don't allow disparaging remarks, which is apparently any question about the business or its practices.

Since shutting down chat, Etsy allows sellers to communicate, in a fashion through their BNS and BNRs. Those are not for explaining in detail in this article, but basically they’re about sellers selling products to each other and giving each other feedback. So it looks like you have sales. I did some number crunching and testing by going in them daily for a few months, then off for some months. I found no change in my sales or rank, except for one new team that asked members to ‘favorite’ each other’s items and the members, for whatever reason, actually did it. Like crazy. During that short (2 or 3 week) run I managed two random sales to buyers who found me without knowing me or being members of my TPJ Facebook page.

From the beginning, Etsy has touted itself, and become popular as a handcrafter’s venue. This page on Etsy explains the requirement for a seller: you must present supplies, vintage, or handmade items for sale. Yet the problem of finding resellers rather than handcrafters on Etsy continues to this day; they are often pointed out (by other sellers) and documented (because you can find their items on huge catalog sites at wholesale pricing). The company's sheer resistance to removing the resellers leave true crafters with a bad taste in their collective mouths, believing that for Etsy it's all about the money, not the rules. Not to mention that we can't compete. Why would you purchase my $35 hand beaded necklace when you can buy one from China for $9? 

In fact Etsy recently added a partnership level where the seller can outsource at least part of their work to a factory. As an aside, I found it quite humorous when I applied to do this with my t-shirt designs, and I was one of the ones flagged for 'proof' that I handmade the designs. My shirts are most clearly handiwork, probably not even saleable.(see them in this post) Yet perform nearly any search on Etsy and you will find hundreds of factory creations.

In 2013 I discovered The Craft Star (http://www.thecraftstar.com/). I felt like I had come home. At The Craft Star there are a few hundred sellers, but somehow the staff makes me feel like I am the chosen favorite. The owner, Bethan Davies, spends hours and hours every week finding new ways to promote us. She’s very transparent with her efforts, which not only informs but causes sellers to be extremely supportive.

"Buying from small businesses helps families directly." ----Bethan Davies, The Craft Star

The Craft Star features live shows on Monday and Thursday. They may be informational, educational, live sales or just fun. Sellers are mainly the attendees, and through our participation in the live shows we get to know one another.

There are Click to Buy videos, and videos that market products for the sellers right on the site. Here's an example:

All this works together to promote SMALL businesses --there are NO resellers at The Craft Star. We as sellers feel--and appreciate-- their 100% backing. And I love their last line:
"Please keep in mind, buying from small businesses helps families directly."

If you are a buyer and not a seller, all this may seem trite to you. But it's the difference between supporting small business and not. Etsy is a huge, multi-million dollar business. When you purchase (unknowingly, I realize) from their resellers you are perpetuating the lie. When you take your business to The Craft Star you know that you are buying from a small business.

I know this post sounds fairly salesy but I assure you it's not intentional. I simply love 'living' at The Craft Star. Find out for yourself. Become a member(it's free) and try out the forum and chat tools. You will find a helpful community -- no attitude; no bad vibes. When you're done, don’t forget to join us as a seller!

My Jewelry Shop at The Craft Star ThePerfectJewel4U

My Digital Design Shop at The Craft Star Digi Doodads

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Bird Parrot T Shirt Designs

I've gotten crazy about birds since I moved to Florida, so I've designed a few bird T shirts. I drew and painted the designs and uploaded them to the company for printing. Click the shirt to visit the store. I have designed them through Skreened, so that people can select their own shirt style/size. Do you have a preferred place to purchase hand-designed T shirts? If so please make a suggestion. I'm very new at this.
Best Pet Birds T shirt design
You can see some of my birds at http://gouldiangardens.com/our-birds.html
And this is our parrot, Ernie:
Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New jewelry this month...... Necklace, Handmade - featuring handblown glass beads, Czech glass beads, crystals, and Cat's eye beads. 20" long. $35
Stretch wire bracelet made with Crystals and more Crystals! Plenty of bling, hard to photograph. $15
Another Stretch wrap bracelet, this one made with Cherry "Red Ruby" gemstone beads and white Czech glass beads. $15.
Handmade Necklace, hangs longer at 30". Unakite natural beads interspersed with vintage pearls, giving it a soft, feminine glow. $35.
See something you like? Message me!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A few new items in my etsy shop today.......

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hello, I really do have some jewelry to show y'all..fun beaded bracelets and a couple of fall necklaces I'm really excited over...but tonight I wanted to share what I"ve been working on: My new website and my new blog. Like, follow, join, whatever you want to do!