Thursday, 27 September 2012


It seems that I tend not to blog unless I have pictures to share. So lets start there today shall we?

When I made these wavy ruffle beads I was just playing around a bit with the last bit of a colour mix. There is a slight size gradation and I like how that turned out. I really wish I had kept that size/ratio in some form of record, but that’s what ends up happening when I play.  I’ll probably get distracted on to something else trying to figure it out again, but that’s the plan next time I sit down at the worktable.  The best part of this is that I ordered those buri nuts and on the day they arrived in the mail I had them made into jewelry.  That has never happened before.  Ever. 

Speaking of my worktable, I’ve had the start of an idea hanging out there for at least two weeks now.  It’s for the ABS monthly challenge and as I linked that I see the deadline is pretty much now, so I guess I won’t make it.  Oh well, I had hoped to keep the string going but I guess I’ll miss the fun this time.  Although the piece still needs to be made to satisfy my brain, someday at least.

I’ve been busy with other projects I can’t share just yet. There’s more I made along side one said project which I’m also not sharing yet since I don’t want to give any hints at all. Vague much?

So my husband bought a car today and I received a new recipe from a friend.  For those who know me well, they know the second part of that sentence is the shocker.  There is only one thing I can cook and that is carrot cake (priorities people!).  October 1st my husband will be starting a new job – across town – with long hours.  That’s all fine by us since he was laid off way back in February.  Finding a job that he is excited about and knows he can really make his own is really a great thing. Small side effect is that he won’t be home in time to feed his loving wife and child. Now I get to learn how to cook! I know, how could a “woman of my age” not know how to cook? What can I say it happened.

I hope I catch some enthusiasm about this new adventure into the kitchen.  I’m sure I’ll find a way to enjoy it and have Averleigh help and it will all turn out well.  We will have fun. We will eat good food. And if all else fails there was a four month period when I survived on almost peanut butter toast alone…. I won’t let it get to that.  Feel free to poke fun at my spoiled self – but then please pity me and share your recipes.  Unless they contain celery.  Celery is not a food.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Custom orders: strategies for sanity

If you are at all creative you have, at some point, been roped into doing something special for someone. Some of those times, at least once, things snowballed and you ended up with a much bigger commitment than you had originally intentioned.  At least, I know it has happened to me.  Automatically such projects garner a PITA* factor in their pricing down the road.

I was part of a discussion today about a custom order and some of the pros and cons.  I won’t discuss the specifics as it’s not my place to say, but a difference in colour expectations came up.  I immediately thought of the difference between how a creative person, (one who creates with colour) will describe a colour versus another, less-inclined,  person.  I thought of the time my husband and I both took a little test on how many colours you could name in five minutes.  Now, I was frustrated most of the time because it wouldn’t accept many of the names I was entering, I’m a poor speller so that didn’t help.  He won’t mind me telling you that I had him beat in no time flat.  I just found it again and tried once more.. not too impressive but there it is. (I thought I had 80ish the first time?hmm).

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

The point I’m heading towards is that many a customer who would like you to make something “blue” has a shade of blue in their head and may not have the vocabulary to tell you which blue.  Enter my secret weapon of custom order success: The Color Scheme Bible by Anna Starmer


Not only does it help you narrow down the shade of blue they may have in mind, but the variety of palettes can help lead the conversation about other colours you may bring into the design.  Frankly, sometimes people don’t know what they want until they see it and I’ve found this to be a useful tool as a block of colour they can point at.

custom order strategy

For instance, I’m not much of a yellow person so I find that section very helpful for talking about a warm yellow versus a cold yellow and what it might pair nicely with.  Top right above I actually found a little post-it note from a vase I made for a work colleague. The little circle you see is a sample mix, cured, so I can see the match.  Bottom right, you can see some of the mixes I sampled from the pendant to create my BSBP piece.

Custom work can be so rewarding when the expectations are clear on both ends.  I’ve been lucky that all my customers have been thrilled with what I have made for them.  Perhaps lucky is the wrong word though, because I’ve been choosey about what I take on for custom work.  I’ve had the chance to meet people at shows, they’ve seen the style and quality of my work and have given me a wide berth.  I’ve also had the liberty to approach the work as an opportunity to work in a different colour scheme or design than I normally would. With the future end result uncertain I have been comfortable to embark on the work without initial deposit from the customer.  I’m not saying that’s the way to do it.  It is a strategy though that has worked for me, to give the customer complete freedom to walk away if it’s not what they are looking for.  In return, I feel I gain more creative space to explore the idea and let me make something that fits with my aesthetic.  You see I’ve only taken on creating things I’ve been drawn to in some way.

It’s a delicate balance of course.  No one really ever wants to say no when a customer is asking for you to create something special.  Certainly, a flat NO has never crossed my lips.  I have discussed ideas with people and politely explained that either due to time constraints, practical limitations, or some other honest reason,  I need to decline.  I stress honest since I think everyone has a BS sniffer, take a deep breath, find a way to say no nicely if you need to.

I haven't had custom work come up yet online but I imagine Design Seeds , and their palette search tool may be a good virtual replacement for my trusty book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

*In case you aren’t familiar PITA is the “Pain In The Ass”  factor - the magical number where you may consider doing something you aren’t too keen on doing for you “regular” type rate.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Random tidying

A bit of a random theme for today, that seems to be the way I’m operating these days.   I still have polymer out from the Challenge of Travel, it looks like I just stepped away for a quick break, only that was more than ten days ago.

Averleigh is back to herself, thanks for all your well wishing.  Here she is sitting still a brief moment in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard (photo credit Grandpa).

Averleigh by grandpa

I found the answer to setting up some things in the garage today. When you are short and your step ladder only goes so far, what you need is a set of BBQ tongs.  Trust me.  This worked much better than the tape and telescoping paint roller stick thing at getting an extension cord plugged into the ceiling of the garage. I finally have power to the workbench, with built in power bar, that my dad made me some time ago.  We had worked on getting the whole garage neat and tidy at the start of summer, and it’s holding strong.  I’ve got a few other things to set up out there, although once the cold hits, I’m not sure how often I’ll be out there.  I want to be able to do some of the loud things outside of the house: like hitting wire with a hammer, running a pasta machine motor, running a tumbler, …anything with a torch, you get the idea.

I also took advantage of the back to school sales to buy this little bookshelf which I’ve turned on it’s side and placed on my main (indoor) worktable.  I’ve got organizing to do but so far I think it’s going to be a great addition.  I thought of taking some before pictures to share with you all, but I jumped into the project late night and it just didn’t happen.  But I swear I’ll give you proper coverage of the results.  I really need it functional again this week.

oooh beads

Yesterday, we did some browsing at the book store.  I’ve never caught the audio, but Averleigh gives a very sweet “oh wow, beads!” and a drawn out “wooooow” whenever she sees the latest thing I’ve made.  It’s very encouraging.  Anyways, she was making her way across all the copies in the bottom shelf repeating the above and I could see other customers giggling to themselves.  That girl makes someone smile every time we leave the house!  I did actually wrangle this copy of Belle Armoire Jewelry to bring home too.

Last night I figured out another furniture storage solution in the basement, near the massive chase, for all the things it can’t hold as they either don’t fit or it’s awkward.  The bones are there now, but there is more organizing to do.  So three work zones, all in a bit of a state of upheaval, all readying for a busy season ahead.

If you have any great systems for managing your jewelry works-in-progress I would so love to hear about it, right about now.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Challenge of Travel: ready for Tuvalu?

Welcome intrepid travellers! You have arrived at a dream like location. However, you may very well be the last generation of visitors, unfortunately. 

Your trusty travel agents Erin Prais-Hintz and Marcie Abney Carroll  have designed a blog hop to take you around the world to parts familiar and unknown.  I opted to choose the region of Oceania.  With the list of countries spread out before me I closed my eyes and pointed.  Tuvalu was my surprise destination!

Like planning for any trip I set about doing some research.  I had never heard of Tuvalu so I went straight to the globe that sits in my living room to find it.  Then I spent some time zooming in and out using google maps satellite view which is pretty incredible.  Tuvalu is one of the smallest island nations in the Pacific.  The google satellite view really gives you the idea of the lagoons and coral reefs that it features.

I was focused mainly on the images and created a Pinterest board here to keep track.  My favourite of the lot is not properly attributed so before I share it here I will have to sort that out.  My apologies, I thought I had that nailed down. You will also see reference to copra, or dried coconut meat, which is an important natural resource.

While searching, I found more and more the talk about Tuvalu was mostly doom.  Climate change, rising ocean waters, ocean acidification are threatening Tuvalu in real and immediate ways.  There is so much discussion on the islands’ homepage I couldn’t recall which one in particular was most informative (I scanned them all). 

So with ideas of amazing blue and green waters, I sat down with my polymer to see what would come out.  Coconut references where also bound to be part of the story.  Things in my studio always change course, usually several times, and this challenge was no exception.  Let me start to show you!


There’s a lot going on here. I’ve had those gorgeous kyanite sticks for a long time. I love them, but struggle with an appropriate design.  Based on the colours of Tuvalu I was seeing, I knew I wanted to incorporate them so I created polymer coconut type shells to really highlight them. The central one is flanked by two sea urchin spines that I’ve covered with polymer.  I wanted to convey the feeling of rising, surrounding, dangerous waters. These urchin spines are almost completely enveloped in polymer.  I hope the idea of a horizon with waves lapping towards you across the sand comes across... and if not than it's at least pretty.

Also in a shocking twist I made matching earrings!


I never seem to reach for designing earrings for the challenges I’ve participated in so far, so I’m quite happy with these simple and lightweight earrings.

Let's go back to the necklace though for a little more of the details.
details of Tuvalu

Since Kyanite sticks and sea urchin spines where in the mix, adding amazonite sticks and stick pearls wasn’t too much of a leap.  I originally had other plans for the rest of the necklace but as I started to clear my bead board of other projects (still working with my bead soup) I realized much of that wonderful soup would work here too.  You can also see some of the faux sea glass I won from Erin, just had to work that in! Then more peals, Swarovski pearls, and matte resin tied it all together.  The clasp is another pewter button from Mamacita Beadworks.  I’m really pleased with the colours I was able to dig out of my stash to show those one-minute-green, next-minute-blue waters.

Here is the backside, which really shows the coconut idea.  I actually used some coral to make that texture which I think makes it all the more fitting.


My plan was show you a bunch more that I created. You saw a glimpse here (turned sideways).  I also have to show you the rest of my amazing thrift store finds (hint: my earrings are sitting on a piece of it) but that will have to wait for another day since my little bundle of fever will be waking from a blissful nap any second.

Pack your bags and head on to your next stop.  I’m so glad you came to visit,  please feel free to “sign the guestbook” below and I’ll keep a light on for you.

Updating to add, where are my manners!? Thanks so much to Erin for dreaming up this challenge and letting us all play in her sandbox, it's always a wonderful time!

NameBlogRegion ChosenInspiration Nation
Monique Urquhart Faso
Niky Sayers
Therese Frankhttp://www.theresestreasures59.blogspot.comAfricaKenya
Raychelle Heath
Joan Williamswww.lilrubyjewelry.wordpress.comAfricaMauritania
Sherri Stokeyhttp://www.KnotJustMacrame.comAfricaSenegal
Regina Santerrehttp://reginaswritings.blogspot.comAfricaSeychelles
Raida Disbrowhttp://havanabeads.blogspot.comAfricaTanzania
Kristi Wodekhttp://livedinlife.blogspot.comAfricaZimbabwe
Sally Russickhttp://www.thestudiosublime.comAmericasBrazil
Melissa Trudingerhttp://beadrecipes.wordpress.comAmericasMexico
Tracy Stillmanhttp://www.tracystillmandesigns.comAmericasUSA
Sandra Wolberghttp://city-of-brass-stories.blogspot.deAsiaIndia
Tanya Goodwinhttp://pixiloo.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Susan Kennedyhttp://suebeads.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Beth Emeryhttp://storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Lisa Cone
Tanya Boden
Inge von Rooshttp://ingetraud.wordpress.comAsiaLaos
Erin Prais-Hintzhttp://treasures-found.blogspot.comAsiaNepal
Dee Elgiehttp://cherryobsidia.blogspot.comAsiaPhillipines
Carolyn Lawsonhttp://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.comAsiaSouth Korea
Lisa Stukelhttp://carefreejewelrybylisa.blogspot.comAsiaSri Lanka
Elly Snarehttp://themagicsquarefoundation.wordpress.comAsiaThailand
Shelley Graham Turnerhttp://www.shelleygrahamturner.blogspot.comEuropeAustria
Mallory Hoffman Herzegovina
Paige Maximhttp://www.pmaximdesigns.blogspot.comEuropeFrance
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sharyl McMillian-Nelsonhttp://sharylsjewelry.blogspot.comEuropeGreece
Evelyn Shelby
Holly Westfall
Rebecca Siervaaghttp://www.godsartistinresidence.blogspot.comEuropeIreland
Toltec Jewelshttp://toltecjewels.blogspot.comEuropeIreland
Lee Koopmanhttp://StregaJewellry.wordpress.comEuropeIreland
Laren Dee Bartonhttp://larendeedesigns.blogspot.comEuropeItaly
Cindy Wilsonhttp://www.mommysdreamcreations.blogspot.comEuropeNorway
Kathleen Lange Klikhttp://ModernNatureStudio.blogspot.comEuropePoland
Shaiha Williams
Jennifer Justman
Elsie Deliz-Fonsecahttp://ladelizchica.blogspot.comEuropeSpain
Lola Surwillohttp://www.beadlolabead.blogspot.comEuropeSweden
Kim Horahttp://www.kimmykats.comEuropeSwitzerland
Leanne Loftushttp://firstimpressiondesign.blogspot.comEuropeThe Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemenhttp://myaddictionshandcrafted.blogspot.comEuropeThe Netherlands
Marcie Carrollhttp://labellajoya.blogspot.comEuropeTurkey
Marlene Cupohttp://amazingdesigns-marlene.blogspot.comOceaniaFederated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappellehttp://jewelsbyine.blogspot.comOceaniaFiji
Tammie Everly
Alice Petersonhttp://www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.comOceaniaKiribati
Elisabeth Auldhttp://www.beadsforbusygals.comOceaniaNauru
Susan McClelland Zealand
D Lynne Bowlandhttp://islandgirlsinsights.blogspot.comOceaniaNew Zealand
Denielle Hagermanhttp://somebeadsandotherthings.comOceaniaNew Zeland
Rebecca Andersonhttp://songbeads.blogspot.comOceaniaPapua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi
Kari Asburyhttp://hippiechickdesign.blogspot.comOceaniaSolomon Islands
Cece Cormier
Emma Toddhttp://www.apolymerpenchant.comOceaniaTuvalu
Debbie Pricehttp://greenshoot.blogspot.comOceaniaVanuatu

Challenge of Travel - slight flight delay

Hello Globetrotters! You've got passage to the incredible Tuvalu islands but the flight has a slight delay.  What began as a weather delay turned into a mechanical delay.  Yes, my darling girl has been spiking a fever for a couple days and I can't physically take pictures with her all over me!

So, here is a quick, partial peek at what is to come.  This one didn't make the final piece but will find a home soon enough

I'm hoping the morning will bring more regular temperatures and I can get back on track for a boarding around 3 eastern.  Thanks for flying with me :)