Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baby Beanies

My daughter and I took a knitting class a while ago and it really sparked something in me. I'm one of those people who always needs to feel productive, and when I watch TV, I feel like I'm wasting time. But I love watching some TV shows, and since I can knit and watch TV at the same time, it was a perfect pastime!
So I knitted a few scarves and some slippers and then, while browsing through a knitting magazine, found an opportunity to be knitting and helping little babies around the world (all while watching TV!). How productive id THAT!
So I have been knitting little caps for babies in third-world countries. I don't have anything to show the scale of these, but they are tiny - only 12 inches in circumference. I can knit 2 of them in an evening of TV watching. I have a ball mixing the colors. My daughter said I should be doing them in pastels, but I hate pastels and I figure there will be MANY people making little pastel beanies, so I am making mine in vibrant colors. I think babies need STIMULATION. It's funny - I dressed my daughter and son in vibrant, bright colors when they were little. Now my daughter wears mostly white and pastels and my son wears black. I was dressed in pastels when I was little - mostly light blue and aqua, but now I wear purple and red and orange. I guess we rebel against our childhood colors.
So I have made 8 caps now (I made another one after I took this picture).

I have until the end of February to make as many as I can.
If you are a knitter and crocheter and would like to help out as well, here's the link to get the patterns and where to send them.
So get the needles and hooks out and keep some baby's noggin warm.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Valentines at Christmas

I always hate it when the stores start putting up their Christmas decorations in October. It just seems to rush everything. BUT if you are creating something to sell during a holiday, you need to start early if you are going to have enough product. That said, I was THRILLED to find in my postbox today a Valentine's inspiration package from Cindy Caraway. She does a monthly give-away on her blog and I had won. After tearing off the outer wrappings, I found this creatively wrapped parcel.
It just screams "Promises of good things!" I pulled back the tissue to reveal a dainty little tin box. Inside was this:

Ribbons and wrappings and beads and lace and cherubs and hearts and pearls and bows and flowers. I was SO excited. I'm already musing about what to make with them. And to show you that I'm serious about getting an early start on Valentine's Day, here are some brooches I have already made.

Four down, many to go yet.
So THANK YOU Cindy for the fabulous gift of inspiration. Please check out Cindy's blog, Artful Living on the Bluff, and leave a comment and you too may win something delightful and inspiring.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Secret Santa

I haven't had a Secret Santa since I was in grade school. In the 4th grade, a boy drew my name (A boy!). I was horrified to think of what I might receive from him. But on the day of the Christmas party, I was more than pleasantly surprised. He had found a cigar box and filled it with all kinds of little treasures. A folding fan with a painting of a bird on it, paper umbrellas, marbles, a pocket mirror with little jewels on it and assorted other little trinkets that I can't remember now. It was one of my favorite gifts of all time. I felt like I was opening a small treasure chest.
Well, now, 40 some years later, I have another Secret Santa. I entered to be on the Secret Santa list at Lillyella's blog. She sent me the name of my gift recipient and I set to work making a beaded brooch for her. I put it in the mail to her last week. And then I forgot about Secret Santas until yesterday when my husband brought in the mail with a package for ME. I didn't recognize the name on the return address and when I opened it and read the accompanying card, I was still in the dark. Had someone sent me a random gift? In the package was a FABULOUS hand-folded envelope.
Intrigued, I opened the clever little beaded latch and tipped it over.

Out spilled a BEAUTIFUL bracelet made of dark olive pearls, olivine crystals and lovely carved, dark green stones.

The clasp was silver and quite elegant. I was still in a quandary as to why this person had sent me such an incredible gift when my husband said "Could it be from YOUR Secret Santa?" Of course! That was it. I realized with a little guilt that I should have waited until Christmas to open it, but I'm notoriously impatient and would have never made it that long anyway.

Here's a close-up of one end of the bracelet showing the carved beads, the pearls, crystals and Sterling
So I want to say a HUGE Thank You to Shannon from For My Sweet Daughter. This gift ranks right up there with the 4th grade gift and you have been a very good Santa.
Shannon also has an etsy shop HERE. and a blog HERE. Please visit.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rina and Isabel

I went to an art showing tonight with my friend, Robin. Her friend, Rina, was showing her exquisite cut paper artwork. Have my eye on a piece that I'd like to buy for my livingroom. Met a very nice lady there named Isabel, who gave me the address of her website. She also had stunning artwork. So it was a very enjoyable evening with good art, new friends and great brownies that Rina's mom baked.
You can see their art at:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Winter Winner!

Brrrr. It's Cold Outside! I'm hoping that the torch brooch from November's Give-Away will warm the cockles of the heart for Kath at Hillside Cottage (AKA Railway Cottage) because she is the current winner! Congratulations Kath.
Sooooo, what to give for December's Give-Away? Let me rummage around in the magic chest here a moment.....Ooooohhhh, let's go with THIS one.
This brooch is comprised of a horn bead with a dragonfly etched onto it. The surrounding beads are brick red, gold and purple. A little shimmery, just like a dragonfly.
So leave a comment to be eligible to win this brooch.
Have a GREAT December Everyone!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photographing Art Indoors

I sell my bead work on Etsy and therefore need to be able to photograph my brooches and necklaces for posting. In the summer, I take my pictures on the back deck, under a clear fiberglass roof that diffuses the natural sunlight perfectly.  But now it is dead winter, which in Oregon means very little natural sunlight. I have a bright studio with 3 windows, but it still isn't enough on it's own for good photos, so I turn to my trusty light box.
Above is a picture that I took this morning on a dismal grey day with the light box. Below is a picture of the same brooch I took outside on a nice sunny day last summer. Both look presentable.
My light box is nothing fancy. It's just a cardboard box with windows cut out of 3 sides and white tissue paper glued over the 2 side windows. 

Here's my lightbox set up on my craft table (my grandmother's yellow Formica table bought in 1950). I use 2 cheap ($10) lamps with very white florescent bulbs in them. The bulbs I use are made by Satco and are 5000K, which is one of the whitest lights you can get easily. I bought these at my nearest hardware store for about $4 each.. The K represents the whiteness of the light. A 5000K light is similar to sunlight. A 2700K light is more yellow and warm, which might be great for a bedroom, but not good for photographs. It's still classed as "soft white" but it does have a yellow cast. A 4100K light bulb is classed as "bright white", but still not the best for photography.  A 5000K bulb is classed as "Natural Light" and that's what I find is best.
 I position my lights very close to the ends of the box shining through the tissue paper (which diffuses the light). I use a piece of white poster board to lay in the bottom and curve up along the back of the box. I like to add a sprig of silk Ivy since I like to have a little something green in my photos (just my personal preference). Having lights at both ends helps to eliminate shadows.

I usually position my piece to one side so the light is better.  Sometimes I need to use the flash, and sometimes I don't, depending on how much light is coming in through the windows.
I use a DSLR now, but have taken photos for years with my little point and shoot digital camera and can't tell the difference between the two. You don't need fancy equipment to take indoor photos of your art work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Green Man and Hair Jewelry

Autumn makes me change my color palette a bit. A week or so ago I got a great package of raku cabs and beads from Wondrous Strange. As a little bonus, she sent me this wonderful green face. I've always loved that verdi gris green with copper, so I thought I'd make an Autumn Green Man. The leaves are all a coppery gold color and the background is worked in green and copper seed beads. I thought it needed some type of little satellite, so I added a couple of bronze leaves on a chain. The beaded leaf is kept in place by a lapel pin on it's back.

A while back, I bought a "Helping Hand" pendant from Nan at Spirited Earth. Our last name means Green Oak in German and I give my husband an ornament every year for Christmas that is "Oak-ish" in some way. When I saw the acorn in the palm of this hand, I knew I had to give it to him. So I made a copper hook, added some beads and created this special ornament for him to hang on the tree this year.

And I had a request for largish hair barrettes, so spent last night creating this piece of Hair Jewelry. It measures about 3 and a half inches long by 1 and three quarters inches tall. The clip in back is adjustable so you can clip back just a little bit of hair or a whole lot.

And since I showed you my Hair Jewelry, now I'll show you my Hare Jewelry. I don't like pink, but I force myself to create items in that color because people like it and I can't totally refuse to carry pink bead work. But this pink was OK to work with (NEVER ask me to do Barbie Pink!) and I love the little Hare running against time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wings and Ears

I've been doing some fun projects these last couple of days. My friend Jillian sent me some wonderful beads along with a shard of a porcelain doll's head with the ear still on it. I knew she had some quirky finds and had told her to send me something I could bead for her. I got the ear  and decided to glam it up a bit. Maybe a porcelain doll that Cleopatra would have played with....
So here is her finished brooch. If she keeps sending me doll shards, we may be able to piece together a little Frankenstein's monster.

I also got some fabulous raku wings and Lentil beads (and an awesome face) from a great shop on Etsy called Wondrous Strange. Here's one of the wings I beaded as a brooch.
Tonight I'm going to the Art for Animals Auction to bid on some wonderful art. All proceeds benefit our local animal shelter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Throwing a Little Vintage Into The Pot

Isn't she adorable? I was at an estate sale this week and I found this beautiful old photograph. The man behind the cash table said "She should have a home, why don't you take her home and make her part of your family". I agree, she needs a home, but since I have an over abundance of ancestors, I am offering her up to my Etsy customers. Do you need a sweet little girl in your family tree?
I've started offering vintage and antique items in my Etsy shop. I can't help it - I'm a sucker for anything old.
My favorite quote is "Anything old is sacred, anything new is suspect."
This old book is another find for my shop. It's a first edition copy of "Merry Hearts and Bold". The title itself is fabulous. I love the old illustrations and the stories teach lessons. Can't get that from a video game. The copyright is 1942.
I'm a sucker for anything beaded, but I really love old beaded purses. Scored this one at a vintage shop. Love the art deco design and the beads are teeny tiny.
This cinnabar bracelet is carved, not stamped like all of the new cinnabar is now.

This little dutch doll reminded me of one I used to have when I was a little girl (oh, so many years ago!)
I love digging through flea markets and garage sales looking for old treasure. So does my daughter, Bryn, which gives us a great Mother-Daughter activity to do together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selling on Etsy

I don't profess to be an expert on selling on Etsy, but I have sold some things and I get questions often from people wanting to set up shops who are intimidated about it. My advice - Just DO it!
Etsy is pretty easy, but it isn't a get-rich-quick-scheme and you do have to work it. My biggest piece of advice is NETWORK! Think of Etsy as your very own little shop in a VERY big mall. Think Thousands of shops. How are you going to get people to find your shop? You can wait for the few stragglers that happen to stumble on your shop - and you will make a few little sales, but if you want to make any money and share your product, you need to get the word out about your shop.

There are many ways you can do this. The easiest I have found is Facebook. I have almost 800 Friends on Facebook. Do I know them all personally? Not in your wildest dreams, but I Do consider them all as friends. I participate in a give and take relationship with them. I read their posts, I comment on some of them, I offer encouraging words when needed. But I also post any new items from my Etsy shop onto my Facebook page. I don't think of it as aggressive selling, I think of it more as offering my beaded pretty things to friends who may want to purchase them for themselves or as gifts. I keep it all very low key and friendly and warm. Other ways to get the word out are through Twitter, Stumbledupon, or Kaboodle, although I admit I haven't used them as much as Facebook.

Another key to Etsy is to have a blog. I use Google Blogspot because it is very easy to set up and maintain. I am not a computer whiz by any stretch of the imagination and I don't have a lot of expensive high tech computer gear either. Blogspot is simple and I find that most bloggers use it. I have made some fabulous friends from all over the world (and especially my Beloved England) through my blog. I post many of my beaded items on my blog, but I also use it for social posts, helpful articles and a monthly Give-Away that brings more readers to my blog and also rewards them. And it's fun to send out a new give-away brooch each month. It's like sending a gift to a special friend.

Joining an Etsy Team is another way of getting the word out. I belong to the Etsy Bead Weavers Team. They give great advice, create forum threads (which I admit I haven't figured out all the way yet) and link buyers and sellers together. If you type "Etsy Bead Weavers Team" into the search engine, you'll get a showing of all the shops that belong. It's a great support group and there are MANY Etsy teams out there to offer help.
So get creating and selling. It isn't hard and can be pretty enjoyable and profitable too. If you have questions about starting up your own shop, drop me a line. I'm always happy to help.
I'll post more on Etsy here at a later date - Just figured out how to take good indoor pictures of my brooches. Maybe I'll tell you how to do that next!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Busy with Steampunk

I have created 14 new brooches in the last week. Busy, Busy.
Some are my traditional beaded beauties like the one below:
And others are decidedly "Steampunk". If you don't know what that is yet, it's a marraige of Gothic and Industrial Victorian. They use lots of watch faces and clock parts to represent the connection of the eras and lots of cogs and gears too. But it also has the elegance of the Victorian age. I really like it. You will see lots of brass used in these pieces.
Some more Steampunk below:

All of these pieces are in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The End of Sunny Days

I went up to The Oregon Garden on Thursday. It was a glorious sunny day. I got lots of plants placed, ready for planting. Also had a little time to wander around the Garden with my camera and snap a few pics of the Autumn foliage.

I spent a little time in the Conifer Garden chatting with Doug.

The Witchhazels are SPLENDID just now.

We had a heavy rain on Friday and it has beaten many of these lovely leaves off of the trees. I'm glad I had the chance to see them before the rain. Now we have a week of gloomy, rainy days predicted.
I wish I could get one more sunny day. I have been VERY busy in my studio and have many new brooches, hairclips and necklaces to photograph. It's too dark in the house and on the porch now. I went out today and bought bright white light bulbs to use with my light box. The last ones I had were too yellow. Will experiment tomorrow to see if I can get a decent indoor picture. I have to come up with something  because winters in Oregon can be very long and dark and I don't want to wait until Spring to photograph my jewelry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Winner!

I have been such a wicked girl. I've been so wrapped up in Halloween and Day of the Dead and beading and craft night with Bryn (my daughter) that I haven't been posting as much as I should have been.
But here I am to atone.
First of all, we have a winner of the Sepia Heart Brooch from last month.

She is (drum roll) Janet of Singing Woods! Congratulations Janet! Once again, a brooch that has one of Nan Emmett's cabs, makes it's way back to Texas.
So, I'm thinking "what do I offer for this month's Give-Away"..... Hmmmmm.... Maybe something sparkly for the Holidays.....

So leave a comment any time this month to win this Black and Green German Torch Brooch. The black torch centerpiece is vintage German glass. I almost kept this one for myself (although my jewelry box is overflowing with brooches I've kept), but I'm offering it with all my love to one lucky reader. And while I'm on the subject, I want all of you to know that I appreciate you coming to my blog to see what mischief I'm up to. You are all my best buddies, my comrades, my fellow artists and kindred spirits!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Win some Goodies

Head over to Andrew Thornton's Blog to win some FABULOUS goodies. He gives something away every Thursday, and I have him listed in my sidebar, but this week he has a huge cache of beads and stampings and .....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

View, Click and Comment

I'm on a big push to get people to Andrew's Treasury page. We've sold 4 items off of it already, but we need more people to view it, click on the items, and leave comments to keep it towards the front of the Treasury where it will be seen. Click here to magically be transported through cyberspace to the Treasury. There are lots of items of all differant price ranges  to choose from and they would make great Christmas presents for you or someone else.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Mermaid for Andrew

My blogger friend, Andrew Thornton recently underwent surgery for skin cancer and has been flooded by hospital bills. I remember when I was diagnosed with cancer. I wasn't afraid of the treatment, and I wasn't afraid of dying, but I was terrified that I would bankrupt my family. Luckily, I recieved some help which put my mind at ease. So helping Adrew get a little bit of peace of mind is my way of "giving back".
I have created this necklace, using a ceramic cabochon from Spirited Earth and have it listed now in my Etsy shop. When it sells, all proceeds from it will go to Andrew.
I also sent a message to the Etsy Beadweavers Team (I belong) and many of them have also donated items in their shops to help defray Andrew's medical costs.
I'll be creating a treasury on Etsy on the first of November with all of the donated items. So check back often; I'll keep you updated. Be thinking about Christmas and Hannukah presents or a little something for yourself that will be steeped in good energy because it was part of a great effort among many friends.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Under Lock and Key

I have always been fascinated by keys. They unlock such wonderful mysteries - Secret Gardens, pirate chests, big creaking doors...

So one of my favorte things to bead around are keyholes and keys.

There's just something special and mysterious about them.

Most of these are in my Etsy shop for sale.

This isn't anything involving a key, but wanted to show you anyway.
My neice, Katie just had a birthday and she wanted a necklace in autumn colors, so this is what I made her. I like it so much I'm going to have to make something similar for myself!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Beads and a Scrumptious Pendant

A few months ago, I won Cindy Caraway's blog give-away and recieved not only this fabulous handmade pendant...

But Cindy also sent me some delicious Halloween beads....

And so I made a couple of Halloween Necklaces out of them....

Paired with my Day of The Dead Skulls, I'm ready for the Holidays!