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Bead Table Wednesday: The Business, The Branding, And The Random Edition

Good morning! It's that time of the week. Again. There's not much new on my bead table except creating one of these made to order Nurture necklaces. The lampwork bead is made. However, the customer wants it slightly altered so it is more personalized and I've been playing around with the design in copper before I move on to the sterling silver (because I would be less than thrilled to mess up a silver disc when sterling is now more than $38/oz!). For each one of these I sell, I donate $5.00 to the March of Dimes.
Hand Stamped Necklace with lampwork bead
I just got these new Moo MiniCards in on Monday. They are slightly different than the ones I ordered before. The side with my etsy website is still the same:
Front of Mini Moo Cards
However, on the back, I came up with a checklist of potential materials used in each jewelry design. At the bottom I added a #____ so I could assign an inventory # to each piece. Hubs has been on me about not keeping track of my cost of materials for each piece for tax purposes. One of my arguments was when I was at a show, I had no idea what I sold. This is my solution to simplify. Each piece will be given an inventory number and a spreadsheet will contain the materials and the cost of each material used. When each piece sells, I will write it on the receipt and add it to the spreadsheet. These cards will be kept in the box, the price tag (which is much smaller) marked with the inventory # so I can pull the card out and stick it with the receipt. This has the added benefit of informing the customer what materials were used in the creation of their piece-especially since I have been branching out on types of materials used. 
Back of Mini Moo cards
It sounds good inside my head. We'll see how it works in practice. The breakdown in the system will more than likely be using the spreadsheet. I am spreadsheet impaired.
If you want me to send you a jpeg file of this list, email me. I am happy to share it. However, do not ask me to alter it in any way...because I won't, unless you want to pay me for design services.
I also got some Moo Stickers.
Moo Sticker Book Cover
I really love these, but I do wish they were a little larger. The plan for these is to add them to the tissue paper wrapper when I ship beads. Also, I will stick them to jewelry boxes and shopping bags.
Stickers from Moo
Yesterday I went yarn shopping and brought home a bag full of summer:
Yarn Shopping
I am going to make some of the projects out of Spud and Chloe go to the Farm for my daughter (specifically the sheep and probably chickens. I want to make Chloe too, but she keeps telling me she's too big at 12" tall...) I am also going to make some hats out of Welcoming Home Baby the Handcrafted Way for my husband to give out to some of his patients when they get to leave the hospital. He "ordered" 60 hats. Bwahahaha! I have the awesomest mom EVER. When I give my mom an "assignment" she takes it on with great gusto. I asked her to save bottle caps for me. Last week she gave me this quart sized bag:
Beer bottle caps from Mom
I was kind of scared to ask why she had that many bottle caps (even though I've never personally witnessed her drinking a beer...just a glass or two of wine at dinner parties) and it took me a week to finally work up the courage. You know that saying "Don't ask if you don't really want to know the answer"? That was me. Anyway, I finally asked and she laughed and said she found them. Guess I better start trying out bottle caps and resin. I don't have a single good reason not to with such an ample supply of bottle caps. Perhaps that will be next week's Bead Table Wednesday post...

The "C" Word

A few months ago my "getting a subway system in Fort Wayne" obsessed son says to me in an offhand way that the name Metrolink (the name he came up with for the FW subway system) has apparently been used by lots of different subway systems. Now, you have to understand something. That child throws random informational tidbits at me all. day. long. So I responded with the "mom trying to sound interested" response of "oh Really?" Yeah, I know. Real clever.
That is when he made a statement that struck me and made me pause to really listen to what he had to say on the subject. He says "I thought my idea to name the Ft. Wayne subway system Metrolink was creative and original." I told him I didn't realize he had come up with the name on his own. I just figured he based it off the name of the only subway system he has ever used-the Washington DC system.
We then had a talk about creativity, and original ideas and how often the same exact idea can come from multiple sources at the same time, or even thousands of years apart but that doesn't make a person any less creative. He's 12 and he gets it. His ego wasn't any less bruised, but he understands how it can happen.On a side note, I told him I was relieved he came up with a name people would instantly recognize as being a subway rather than calling the system "Purple Bananas" or something crazy like that. I mean, who would take an ominous never ending escalator to something called purple bananas? And yes, I stole the phrase purple bananas from a Prince song because we had just heard it in the car and it was the first crazy name that popped into my head.
Anyhow.... based on the number of times I've seen the "C" word start virtual wars in forums, facebook, etsy, blogs, and everywhere in between and the very real pain the "C" word causes in the years since I started making beads and jewelry, it's a topic every creative type should consider outside the influence of accusations.
What's the "C" word? Copy. Copied. Copies. Copying. Copier. Pick a copy and leave as is or add whatever suffix you choose. It is the number one thing (based on my non-scientific evidence gathering) that gets creative types riled up. It is not just in the beadmaking world or jewelry design world. It's everywhere creativity is desired or required.
The push for original ideas is stressed at an early age. What are kids taught in school? They are taught to never copy another person's work or it can result in penalties as stiff as expulsion from school. Schools push originality and for students to come up with their own ideas. Students are given a blank piece of paper and told to draw a picture or write a story. Those students who come up with the more creative and original ideas are publicly praised.As adults, we crave that same praise plus the ability to buy things like food and shelter can depend on our level of creativity.Fortunately, our ability to eat has never depended on my creativity. However, I would be totally LYING if I said I didn't have an ego that wants to be stroked through being acknowledged for creativity. When I had been making beads for about a year, I came up with a design I was SO excited about. I had never seen it anywhere and thought I was rather clever for coming up with it. A week later I got an issue of Lapidary Journal (now Jewelry Artist Magazine) containing a lampwork bead tutorial that was almost exactly like the bead I had come up with.I was crushed, but it made a huge impression on me that has molded my personal opinions about the "C" word...that more than one person can have the exact same idea at the same time. It doesn't make each person less creative. It also doesn't mean that one person will starve while the other gets all the recognition for being creative .A few months ago I clicked on what looked like an interesting blog from another blogger's blogroll. I really wish I could remember who wrote the post so I could link it. I think it was a polymer clay artists...but I don't remember for sure. Anyway, the gist of the post was that she found someone on etsy who made work very similar to hers, but just different enough that she was uncomfortable but unable to do anything about it and went on. Doing a search on etsy, she discovered another person whose work looked exactly like hers. She was (understandably) upset and was considering writing the other artist when she noticed this other artist had been selling that same style of work longer than she had. Talk about shock! The other etsy artist could have accused the blogger of copying her even though she had never seen this other person's work before.Has this happened to you? Has it affected your opinion of copying? Please share your views and  continue the conversation by clicking the little comment link below.This is Part 1 of what will ultimately be a 3 part series spread over the course of a couple weeks. Please stay tuned.

The only definition of success that matters is how YOU define it for yourself

I'm feeling philosophical right now. Maybe because it's 2:30 am and I haven't gone to bed yet. More likely it's because I just finished my "long" run for the week at 2 am and it's impossible for me to go from jogging 8 miles to sleeping in 30 minutes or less.
January 23, 2011
I'm still training for the half marathon and it's in less than a month. For a while I was completely freaking out about the idea of running for 13 loooong miles. I want to be able to say I did it, but not actually do it. However, I am committed to doing this thing no matter what. I want one of those Flying Pig Medals. (because I'll run a half marathon when pigs fly!) 
What does this have to do with how I define success? My goal is to have a qualifying finish. That's it. Out of curiosity I looked up in the rules for how long we have to finish the race then did the math to figure the average speed. It came out to 3.8 miles per hour (6.12 km per hour for my non-American friends). That, dear readers, is walking speed and totally doable and totally not freak-out worthy. 
Does this mean some of the people doing the full marathon may finish twice the distance before I cross the finish line? Probably. However, those people have a very different definition of success than I do. They have been training forever, have run several marathons, have a strong competitive streak (that I don't possess!), and aren't 40 pounds overweight. Their definition of success is probably to attain a certain time they have set for themselves. 
Will being beat by people running twice the distance make me any less successful? No. Because I have defined my success as finishing within the allotted time. I don't care if I come in dead last. 
Does this mean I don't push myself? No. Does this mean I shouldn't train hard because I could theoretically walk the entire thing and finish? No. Does this mean I look pretty and graceful during that 8 mile run I just did? Nope. Was I fast? Absolutely not.  
What's astounding is I just ran 8 miles. 8 miles! That's pure insanity and honestly, I'm happy with even that amount of success. 
How we define our success is in every single thing we do. Some days are so trying it's a success just to get the dishes done.
How do you define success? Do you define it based on what someone else has achieved? Are you being fair to yourself when you do that? 
Please leave a comment below by clicking on the comment link to continue the conversation and add your thoughts about the subject.

Bead Table Wednesday: Feeling Really Bad about Hating on Kansas Edition

Fact: Remember how I was traveling with beads last week? So, the beads haven't actually been unpacked yet. Oops. So there's not much to show on the ole bead table except a super duper secret which will be revealed at the very end of this post. So, don't leave yet!If you read my blog post from Monday, I sort of mentioned driving through Kansas might not have been the highlight of our vacation. I am really feeling guilty about that. Here's why:
Dragon Scale Bracelet
See that awesome dragonscale weave using those yummy niobium rings? If it hadn't been for Kansas, I would NOT have finished this bracelet in one day. Plus, for the 3 hours of Kansas I personally drove on the way home, I got to see the strategy for keeping people's hopes up and providing the reserves they need to keep going...SIGNS! There were signs for Applebees or Dairy Queen 100 miles in advance. That's a lot of advance notice, people. Luckily there were lots of reminders because after another 1 1/2 hours of driving those 100 miles, it's very possible I would have forgotten about these things.There were also signs that advertised "See LIVE rattlesnakes Eat baby pigs!" I was amazed they would advertise something so morbid on the side of the road. Every few miles. For hundreds of miles. I loved it.But guess what! I read the sign wrong. It actually said " See LIVE rattlesnakes! Pet baby pigs!" It kind of lost it's charm after that.I also did make a few things while we were in Colorado. I didn't just torment my husband for the fun of it. I will show you a small sampling if you promise to not criticize the lack of patina on pieces that clearly need it (no, I did not take the Liver of Sulfur with me...that probably would have gotten us kicked out of the condo), or the lack of tumbling (didn't take the tumber either), or the lack of great photos because these photos have not been edited in any way shape or form. You've been warned.
Bracelet
I have redone the following pendant several times because the twig connector by Jade Scott just would not sit how I wanted it to. I was fighting gravity and gravity was winning. Well...I took this photo then had an epiphany. It is very likely it will change again.
pendant
The following pendant was inspired by one of Cindy Wimmer's designs in Wire Style 2 (more on this in a post next week):
 Pendant
Chainmaille pendants inspired by Scott David Plumlee (more on this in a later post):
Pendants
This design was kind of inspired by a design in Wire Style 2 by Kerry Bogert:
IMG_7242
This next one was inspired by that same Kerry Bogert design, but I have done something similar to this particular piece a few years ago:
Necklace
Chainmaille weave bracelet design inspired by Scott David Plumlee (again, more on this in a later post):
Chainmaille Bracelet
Now for the super secret project reveal:
Super Secret Project-SHHH!
Any guesses as to what it is? I will tell you this much. Back in January, I shared some of my goals for the year. Today, I submitted my very first design to a magazine. I don't know if they will accept it. But I'm totally ok with it if they don't. If I wasn't ok with the idea of rejection, I sure wouldn't be putting it here for you all to read! According to my goals, that's one query done, only 11 more to go... 
Wanna know another secret? Shhhh! Part of the reason I was finally able to "get around" to doing it? Is because I am taking a class with Tara Gentile called The Art of Action, which has been incredibly helpful for me and the other women taking this class. I will be talking more about it in the next few weeks as there are many changes coming that I'm very excited about. Stay tuned...I know you have something to say. Please leave a comment by clicking on that tiny little comment link below. 

Have Beads, Will Travel

There are 3 certain members of my immediate family who are insane.
03 22 11 Copper Mtn
Apparently that leaves me in the lonely position of being the only sane one (pets don't count and even if they did, we seem to have a neurotic lot of them). What this means is, they want to go to Colorado, ride the carnival death ride to the top of the mountain, then fling themselves down said mountain on slicked up aerodynamic sticks.
03 22 11 Copper Mtn
03 22 11 037 Copper Mtn
Crazy, right?Each year, I have to go along. I think my purpose is insurance card carrier, pack mule, cook, chauffeur, errand runner, moral support using my sparkling personality. Actually, I enjoy going because it means I get the condo to myself for several hours on end. If they take too long to leave for their day of insanity, I am literally putting their equipment on them and shoving them out the door and telling them not to come back before dinner.What does this have to do with traveling with beads? We left for Colorado Friday March 18th. It's a looooong drive from northeast Indiana (Ft Wayne) to somewhere in the middle of Colorado (Copper Mountain).Did you know I-70 through Kansas is 423 miles long? Want to know how I know that? We did that drive TWICE in less than a week. Also, did you know that the first 150 or so miles of I-70 in eastern Colorado looks JUST LIKE KANSAS?!?!?! For those of you counting, that's like driving 1,146 miles of Kansas in less than a week. Never been on I-70 in Kansas? You should try it. You'll LOVE it (snicker snicker).When we were packing up the truck the day we were leaving, I casually mentioned packing most of my studio to my wonderful husband.Blink. "What?""I packed most of my studio. I hope you can make room for it in the car."I saw I was losing him fast, so I had to start talking fast. "Listen, I have a big show in a few weeks that I am not anywhere near ready for. I will freak out and not go with you. Plus, if I do go and my studio doesn't, I will be driving to Frisco while you are skiing to visit the awesome bead and yarn shops plus all the other really cool shops on Main St. and spending lots of money. So, will the extra luggage fit or not?"It fit just fine.See? It made it safe and sound and we didn't have to leave our clothes at home. Perhaps I exaggerated a teensy bit about packing the entire studio. I didn't bring my torch or any glass...
Have Beads, Will Travel
Here's that (REALLY heavy!) suitcase opened up:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Here's the coffee table after day 1 of my jewelry making extravaganza:
Have Beads, Will Travel
I sort of took over the entire condo:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Have Beads, Will Travel
The kitchen too:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Plus I had this lovely view. The door to the patio had to be open almost the entire time we were there because even though the thermostat was set at 50F, the temperature was almost 80F in the condo. Way too hot!
Copper Mtn
Apparently Copper attracts lots of insane people plus some...not very smart people. Bad combination because they had to post this sign:
I wonder how many times this has happened?

Bead Table Wednesday: The "on the go" edition

The family and I are on our way home from a fun relaxing vacation today. While my awesome husband is driving, I am working on a kit from spiderchain.com. I have always wanted to learn the dragonscale weave, so I bought the kit, watched the video last night, and now I get to spend a portion of the drive home creating a weave I have loved from the first moment I laid eyes on it. I am using a beading mat to hold onto the rings so they don't slide around. I wish I had a small tray with me too, but the most recent issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry is a decent substitute. Spend time creating today and enjoy the process regardless of the outcome. You could even try the ring tutorial I posted yesterday. Have a great week!

Filigree Ring Tutorial

During the period following the Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal, I promised several people I would write a tutorial for the ring I made:
Bead Soup Blog Party #2
However, I didn't have any filigree left to do it. I made a trip to Hobby Lobby last week and luckily they have this exact filigree in stock. FYI~Hobby lobby frequently puts the Vintaj on sale, so don't pay full price. Also, there is almost always a 40% off one item coupon in the weekly flyer. So if you can't wait until it goes on sale, at least take the coupon with you.Please excuse the photos and my nasty jewelry making fingers. I don't have access to my photo editing software right now but wanted to get this finished.Step 1: Get a tool a couple sizes smaller than the finished ring size if you don't have a ring mandrel. For example, a marker or some other round object.
Ring Tutorial
Step 2: Gently but firmly start forming the filigree to the ring mandrel in the center. Remember, do this a couple sizes smaller than the finished desired size. The metal has "memory" and will bounce back a little. I started this at size 6, but ended up going to size 5 because I wanted it even smaller. If  making the ring too small makes you nervous, remember you can just slide the ring down the mandrel to make it bigger. Not a big deal at all.
Ring Tutorial
Step 3: Holding the center of the filagree onto the mandrel, start forming one side around the mandrel. Push the end down tight to the mandrel. This is not a race. Make sure you move somewhat slowly and deliberately so you don't get off center or bend it in a funky manner.
Ring Tutorial
Here's what one side formed to the ring mandrel looks like:
Ring Tutorial
Step 4: Once you get the one side formed to the mandrel, repeat the process on the other side. If you don't have fat fingers like me, the ends will overlap in the back of the ring.
Ring Tutorial
Here's the ring formed to the mandrel (notice it's at size 5)
Ring Tutorial
What the back of the filigree ring looks like at size 5:
Ring Tutorial
Step 5: Lightly tap all over the ring with a plastic mallet. This will do a couple things. First, it will work harden the ring and help shape it. Second, it will flatten out some areas of the filigree that want to stick out. You do not want to whack it. I hold the mandrel between my knees and twist the ring around to expose each area of the ring. If areas of the filigree still want to stick out, take your flatnose pliers and gently squeeze those areas into place.
Ring Tutorial
Notice I have shaped and hammered my ring at size 5. When I let go of the ring, it slides down to between sizes 6.5 and 7.
Ring Tutorial
Step 6: Cut a length of 20 g wire, about 10"-12" long. I used Vintaj wire to match the filigree. You can use whatever you want, but I would practice with less expensive wire (not sterling or gold filled) the first couple times you try this
Ring Tutorial
Step 7: Select the bead(s) you want to use for your ring and make sure you can fit the 20g wire doubled through the holes. Then you need to eyeball the bead and the filigree and decide the best area of the filigree to thread the wire through to attach your bead.
Ring Tutorial
Step 8: Place your flatnose pliers in the center of the wire. Make a right angle bend in the wire on both sides of the pliers.
IMG_7289
Here's what it will look like with pliers removed:
IMG_7290
Step 9: Thread the wires from through the top of the ring from the inside to the outside.
Ring Tutorial
Step 10: Make sure the wire sits flat against the filigree inside the ring. If it sticks out, it will poke into the wearer's finger. Ouch! You can do this by squeezing gently with flatnose pliers.
Ring Tutorial
Step 11: Cross the wire ends across the top of the ring and make sure they are flat against the filigree. Using a flatnose or needlenose pliers, make a right angle bend up so that the wires are stick straight up from the ring and meet in the center.
Ring Tutorial
Step 12: Thread your bead(s) onto the wires. Pull them out at right angles as close to the bead as possible in opposite directions
Ring Tutorial
Step 13: I wish I could have taken photos of myself doing this step, but it requires 2 hands so I will do my best to describe how to do it. Take the thumb of your dominate hand and place it in the center of your bead (over the hole where the wires are). Using your other hand, start to spiral one of the wires around the hole. When that wire meets the 2nd wire, let go of the 1st wire and start to spiral the 2nd wire. Think of it as a relay race going around a pole. Often when doing this, it takes a couple times around before the spiral really starts to take shape. Continue to spiral until you are happy with the size and shape. The wires should end up opposite each other when finished.
Ring Tutorial
Step 14: This requires some more decisions based on the size and shape of your bead. In the one I did for the Bead Soup Party, it was a roundish bead without a very flat base. In order to stabilize it, I took both wires and wrapped it around the base of the bead a few times.

Vintage Finds

My friend Jaclyn mentioned on her facebook page that she was headed to an antique/vintage show here in town. I never hear about these things until after the fact, so decided to head over there after my 12 year old son's soccer game this afternoon. Let me tell you, he was less than thrilled at the idea of watching me dig through other people's old junk. However, that child is about as good natured as an almost 13 year old can possibly be. Plus, I got him a piece of cherry pie while we were there. I was on the hunt for vintage things to use in my jewelry. I have been wanting to collect more stuff like that, but am too lazy to hunt for it. However, I did manage to find a few useful things, plus I had fun haggling over the price. Is it just me, or do people way overcharge for vintage jewelry? None of it seemed super special or anything. The one had my eyes popping out of my head because it was a gallon ziplock bag, half full of vintage jewelry. On the outside it said broken pieces and missing stones-$150. Really?!?!?! $150 for broken crap? HA! Ironically enough, later on I did buy a necklace with a couple broken flowers on it that they wanted $20. HA! I paid $5. I complained it was broken, but didn't mention I was going to take it apart to upcycle (recycle) the flowers anyway. I got a couple brooches from the same place that I am totally excited to clean up and put with some lampwork.
Vintage Finds
I also grabbed these really cool keyhole hardware bits. Again, to use in jewelry:
Vintage Finds
Last, I got these subway, bus, tax(?) tokens to use in jewelry. I love these "coins" with holes in them.
Vintage Finds
My son also managed to score a few treasures. He has a subway token collection that he added to, plus he got 4 road maps made before the interstate system was created. He loves to study maps and was fascinated at how different Indiana and Michigan's roads looked compared to how they look now. I guess the trip wasn't so bad for him after all.
Bonus tip: If you go digging at antique/vintage/garbage shows, take baby wipes. I have never really done this before and wish I had baby wipes with me for my hands. They felt so grimy and dirty when we were finished.

Bead Table Wednesday: How Funky is your Chicken?

The family and I took a little mini vacation over the weekend. They hurtled themselves down snow covered...mountains? Hills? I'm not sure if the elevation of Boyne Highlands in northern Michigan counts as a mountain or not. Whatever. They acted like darn fools. Here's what I did all. day. Saturday.
What I did over my Saturday break
taken with my cel phone, so not the best quality photo...
I did actually have to change out of pj's to go to lunch with my snow bunny family members, which was kind of a disappointment...?
I haven't done anything this fun since Saturday. Well...except to finish one of these Nurture necklaces for an order this morning.
However, the UPS man brought me this gorgeous thing that I've been waiting for over a month now:
How funky is your chicken?
Any guesses as to what it is? I'll give you a hint. It inspired today's blog title because I can't get that stupid cheer out of my head since I plucked it off the front porch. Yes, I was at one point a cheerleader until the time I got an In School Suspension for wearing a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee and refusing to call my parents to bring me a pair without the extra holes. Yes, I was a rebel. What can I say.
Give up?
How about now?
Did you guess a Chicken Feeder? Me neither. I got the idea from Mixed Metal Mania (which is currently in the pile o' books to be reviewed right next to the computer at which I am typing). Wanna know why I found it necessary to immediately order one as soon as I saw it in the book? It has to do with Bead Table Wednesday...
New Tool Organizer
By the way, if you feel you need one of these too, this link will take you to several size options. Be warned, it took them a month to ship this thing to me. I was beginning to lose hope it would ever get here. However, it arrived just in time for the new BTW installment.

Bead Soup Blog Party Wrap-Up, A Walk Down Memory Lane, and Why I Finally Believe Running Won't Kill Me

My butt has grown roots into the chair. Weird, I know. It's from visiting and commenting on the 209 other blogs participating the Bead Soup Blog Party. I am blown away by the talent out there in blog land. Many blogs I have never visited before. You haven't seen my bead soup piece yet? Click on over now and come back.If you haven't heard, there's already a date set for the next Bead Soup Blog Party. My recommendation if you want to play along? Read this page of information on Lori Anderson's blog. The next step is important...after reading it, follow the directions. Become a fan on facebook. Join the flickr group. Join the Yahoo group. By joining these groups, you will be less likely to miss out. Plus, the Yahoo group does bead swaps and other challenges sometimes.
I thought it might be kind of fun to revisit my bead soup piece from the 2nd Bead Soup Blog Party summer 2010. Lori Anderson was my partner. Here's what she sent:
Bead Soup Blog Party
Matching earrings:
Warning, complete change of topic...Remember how I posted an abridged list of my goals and resolutions? No? That last link will take you there if you're curious. However, one of the things on that list is training for a half marathon. The particular one we're running is in about 8 weeks. Eek!
January 23, 2011
Since the beginning of January, I have logged exactly 70.89 miles (that's 114 km for my non-American friends) on the treadmill. I have not run since I was on the cross country team my freshman year of high school about 22 years ago. On day 1, I started with running a 1/2 mile. My longest run so far is 7.5 miles. I'm beginning to actually believe I can do this thing and not die. 
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