Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Earring a Day Keeps March Madness Away~

Three quick announcements!

Announcement number one: THE FARMERS' MARKET WAS A COMPLETE SUCCESS!! We not only sold four pieces, we received orders for a few commissions, too~ so exciting!

Announcement number two: BEAD TABLE WEDNESDAY! <3


See, I'm told that I am quite good at producing earrings, but I struggle to actually *create* them. I get frustrated, so I don't make them as much... and then because I'm not making them, I don't get the practice I need to get better... it's a vicious cycle, and I need to break it. On one of the blogs I follow, they create and post one pair of earrings every single day, all the time! So I said to myself, "Self, if they can do it all year long, you can do it for a month!"

I am very excited about this personal challenge, and look forward to sharing the results with you all as we go along! May this "March Madness" bring great gladness!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Pain, My Creativity, My Life

So, faithful readers, I apologize for not putting up a post in so long. This is, quite literally, the first day in over a week and a half that I have not felt completely unwell. I'm not saying that I feel FABULOUS today, but at least I'm not on death's door...

Last week, Lori (a fellow jewelry blogger, whom I follow for her beautiful work and lovely personality) wrote up a lengthy post that I truly connect with with my entire heart and soul... it is titled "Pain Versus Creativity."

See? Even the Dread Pirate Roberts understands... you should all know the caption that is associated with this photo~

The truth is, my health is frequently an issue that, until this point, I have frequently swept under the metaphorical mat. I tried not to talk about it because the more one talks about things, the more "real" they become... and this is a reality that I wanted about as much as one wants dental surgery! I have told some number of family members and friends about the details of my health, but this is the first time that I have spoken out to the community at large.

Now, I don't intend to throw a pity-party-- no one likes those-- but when I read Lori's post, I found myself crying from the emotion of someone writing down EXACTLY how I feel about things. The idea that someone else out there understands how I feel, and put in a public forum, gave me the courage to write about my situation.

I have what is known as an Adhesive Disorder, caused by Endometriosis. The situation that I am in is quite complicated, so for now I will hold off on the exact details of what is going on with my body. I'm not ashamed to tell my story, but it's so complicated that it will take much more than a single blog post. For today, though, I will tell you all what this means for me, and how it affects my life.

I am in chronic pain. Many people use the word, but few mean it quite the way that I do. I am in pain, quite literally, every second of every day-- from the moment I open my eyes in the morning, until I go to sleep at night. Pain that wakes me up in the night, from a sound sleep. Pain so severe I cry from it. Pain so excruciating that recovery from surgery is less painful than what I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Pain so unbearable that a bikini wax seems like a gentle tap by comparison. Pain so debilitating that it's hard to move around without limping severely.

Pain that will potentially stay with me for the rest of my life.

Pain that caused me to completely abandon a career path-- teaching-- that I absolutely loved.

A painting by a former student. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the one in the middle is me... and yes, I still have all the artwork from my years in the classroom. I wouldn't give up that "porfolio" for anything!

The reason that Lori's post resonated so strongly within me, is because of the words she used. "Invisible pain made me feel like an invisible person -- hiding out in a dark room, being deprived of all the things I love to do." Never were truer words spoken.

My health touches my entire life... career, friendships, finances, social outings, even my passions. There are days that I need to tell friends that I don't feel well enough to see them. There are days when I don't leave my bed at all, and I can't even knit because of the pain. Days when I can't go down to my studio and paint, or make a necklace, because it requires too much movement. In many ways I have become an "invisible" woman, especially on those days when no one sees me.

Now, I know that I am a very lucky lady. I am blessed to have an opportunity to stay home and create beautiful things. I have been gifted with an artists' soul, and the ability to create works of art. I can do anything that I set my mind to do, and I have a (hopefully long) lifetime ahead of me to do just that. I am not happy about my situation-- I don't know that I ever will-- but I am gradually coming to terms with what I have to deal with. I continue to move forward, because there is no going back to how things were before.

In closing today, I am again borrowing Lori's words, from her post regarding pain. She told her readers, "Don't be afraid to share your story.  Don't be afraid to hide your story.  Either way, the point is to make your soul more peaceful in whatever way you feel comfortable, and to be gentle with yourself." I will add to these words of wisdom, something that Lori mentioned, but in my own words. Something I tell people when they are in need.

No one is ever truly alone. Seek out people who truly care; help carry their burdens in life, and they will help you carry theirs. To all you out there, who are dealing with your own troubles and pains... you are not alone. <3

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Strange Discovery

As awesome as my art space is, up until yesterday most of my supplies were in storage and inaccessible.

Now? I'm still missing a few boxes, but I have most of it. I will eventually be posting photos in a "before and after" fashion, when the studio actually reaches the elusive "after" state. But that is not why I am here, writing to you today.

See, I was minding my own business, organizing the studio's layout and finding homes for all my little beads. Poor little hobos that they are, they don't even have a proper home...

But I digress. I was sorting and sifting through the special vintage beads from my grandmother (the ones mentioned in my previous post). They had been living in a plastic baggie since she gave them to me, and I decided that they deserved a better home:

Now, some back story~ my grandmother is notorious for holding onto things, and forgetting about them. *I* have the unique knack (and ill-fated luck) of finding said items. Before today, the craziest item I had found was a shaker of celery salt that HAD NO EXPIRATION DATE. After some online research, we realized that it had been purchased before 1971.

But this recent discovery takes ALL the cakes.

See, like I said, I was sorting... and I found some items that were most definitely not beads. Torn edges of newspapers, wire bits, pennies... you know, things within the range of normal. And then I found this.

Yes, that's my workbench. And yes, that's my "pedestal" from yesterday. But no, it's not a bead.

It's PART of a human tooth. Because yes, my life is just *that* weird.

It's a good thing I love you, grandma... <3

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bead Table Wednesday: My First One!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you all... MY BEAD TABLE:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

As the title says, it's Valentine's Day... so I'm wishing all y'all a "Happy Sappy Day"! Anyone have exciting plans?

I'm here to post a quick sneak-peek of what's cooking, metaphorically speaking. Thanks to a stroke of genius I am now actually able to connect my sterling silver chain to clasps. The "how" is unimportant, but the resulting effects are quite exciting. This new development means that I can actually *complete* several necklaces that up until now were only halfway done.

I've also been playing with photography, trying to show off my pieces as best I can. And I'm proud to report that I am improving my photography style with every blog post. See?

Notice the sterling silver chain... the lovely round freshwater pearls, cream-colored and two distinct shades of green... and the iridescent, irregular "flat" oval pearl in the center. Not to play favorites with any of my "children", but I truly love this one. It reminds me of a spring garden!

This time, the colors in my photograph actually came out true to form. What a concept! ;)

Now, I know that I keep making promises about what I'm going to post next. I don't forget, I just get a little distracted by pretty things. What can I say? I'm practically half-magpie!

But this new "next post" promise will actually be kept. See, inspired by another blog, I joined a group on Flickr called Bead Table Wednesday. The subject of my photos will change each week, but the idea is to photograph and share my materials with other jewelry artists. I'm so excited to show off my up-and-coming projects!

See you all tomorrow, for Beautifully Whimsical's "Workspace Wednesday" debut~!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Foray Into Earring Production!

So lately I've been on an earring "kick"~

Before this recent development, the one thing that I really struggled with was making earrings. Necklaces come naturally to me, but nothing came together the way I wanted when making those little dangling buggers. I tried online tutorials, common sense, different materials... nothing worked. It was quite frustrating for a perfectionist like me.
Me? Perfectionist with my work? No... never!

(Insert "Sarcasm Font")

Anyway, thanks to an accidental find while at the store, I discovered my own literary superhero:

This book has been my best friend and my mentor for the past week. It is exactly what it says it is-- there are enough instructions so you can actually understand the process and what you need to do, but no unnecessary pages of filler. Each of the 101 earrings are truly unique-- not a single one is an exact replica of another. They have differences in form and construction, and not a one is a "twin" disguised with different beads.

And the best part about these easy-to-follow directions? They include directions on how to make the HOOKS. Yes, this means that I can make and personalize the actual hooks that the earrings hang upon!

And as you can see, I did just that in the first photo. They were the first pair that I made using a technique from the book-- I made the ear hooks from "scratch"! I chose to use brass wire, adding spiral ends for aesthetic purposes; the featured bead is a teardrop-shaped onyx stone.

To answer some questions? No, Denise Peck is not paying me to "plug" her book. The earrings are not an exact replica of any earrings from the book; rather, I used some of the techniques found within to create a pair that looked exactly the way I wanted. Yes, this means that they were designed by me.

Next up? Maybe I'll post NOT in the middle of the night... you never know!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


It's official... I'm a vendor~!

The Farmer's Market was fun, but it was sparsely attended. There were so few customers that I not only was able to step away from our table and make friends with other vendors... who confirmed my suspicions that we were essentially selling to each other that day.

On the plus side, I got to taste some DELICIOUS food made by my neighbor vendors~ on the down side, I am going to gain some serious poundage if I continue to be placed between the ice cream vendor and the chef who sells authentic Spanish/Hispanic/Latino cuisine!

My adventures in food aside, this was a great day for me as an artist. I sold my very first piece of jewelry!

The piece was made out of purple and pearly-white seed beads, accented with long shiny "bugle" beads, quartz, and purple glass beads, frosted over with an irregular white spotted pattern.

I am in the process of creating a similar piece, using red glass beads and a slight variation on the seed bead pattern. Hubby's aunt was the person who actually purchased it, but I feel better (and consider it my first sell) because it had garnered a great deal of attention at the market, from just about everyone who came by.

It was the first piece of jewelry I made, since we began this venture <3

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jewelry~ New Beginnings (All Over Again!)

Since my last post was practically a novel, I've decided to keep this one short and sweet... for the sake of my readers' eyes, as well as my poor tired fingers!

Anyhow, I'm still tying up the loose ends on the mittens. I do most of my knitting while watching TV, and I just haven't watched enough of it lately. Plus, the "loose ends" bit is my least favorite part of ANY knitting project. My feeling is, if I wanted to sew, I would pick up the damn sewing machine and do that!

So, a break from my posts about knitting. And onto the jewelry!

These are some of the pieces I've made within the past few weeks. Hubby will be selling them at a Farmers' Market tomorrow. So excited, but so nervous at the same time-- we hope to do well, but you can never quite tell with these things! I'm only posting three pieces tonight, for your viewing pleasure. The rest will just have to wait!

First up, a very simple glass seed-bead creation! I created a warm color pattern, accented with quartz, and with a featured pattern using quartz, red agate, and flower-shaped Swarovski crystals. Perfect for a hot summer day~

... Next up, my "true blue" necklace! Black seed beads along the back of the neck, with silver spacers separating the many segments of this classic style. I started with small beads of black onyx, and moved towards various combinations of black, white, and blue agate, and blue jade. The featured beads are black onyx, cut into beads shaped like large rectangles. Very classy, and such a classic style~

... And onto my third and final piece for the night. Just in time for Valentine's Day, I bring you a necklace with romantic pink and purple pearls! Black seed beads wrap around the neck, and lead into a gently gradated style of black onyx and black agate. Featured in the center are three large beads of black onyx, the ones on the side mimicking the shape of a heart. A sweetheart of a necklace, designed to be worn by someone's sweetheart~

Anyhow, y'all let me know what you think of the jewelry. This is me saying goodnight... I'm signing off the Intarweb, and signing into Dreamland!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fixing Knitting Mistakes WITHOUT Unravelling The Project!

So I know I said that my next blog post would feature the mittens, all finished up and pretty-like. It turns out that this is not entirely the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The mittens are indeed finished-- or rather, the knitting is done. I still have yet to sew up the sides of Mitten Number Two, and tie in the ends on both One and Two, so their World Wide Web debut will have to wait.

However, I *do* have something to blog about before that time comes... and it *does* have to do with the mittens!

You see, I figured out a way to fix a mistake in my knitting... WITHOUT RIPPING OUT THE ENTIRE PROJECT.