Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of the Year Catch-up

Soooooo, my friend Lynn (half of the very talented GimmeBeads) gave me this hand-painted (by her) rock for Christmas - allegedly, it was inspired by and looks like me -
I love my picturesque rock! Although I'm not sure I have ever looked this good.
Visit Lynn and Mike's shop, soon to be known as "GimmeBeads, and GimmeRocks, while you're at it" - they're great peeps!

And now, back to the whining I was doing here.
This is the brown wire crochet necklace I made a few weeks ago - my first attempt at this medium. It includes both brown and champagne-colored freshwater pearls, pressed glass beads, Czech fire-polished beads, and seed beads. I finished it with copper cones and a copper toggle, and I am thrilled with it - it matches a couple of my outfits beautifully, and it was a lot of fun.

This is a close-up of my brown wire crochet necklace.

As I discussed last time, I decided to make a second wire-crochet necklace, this time using some gorgeous deep blue iolite chips, which I paired with some silver-blue AB Czech fire-polished beads and some white freshwater pearls.
But feeling it was a little plain-looking (I now realize this was because I used fewer, and smaller, beads than in the brown one), I decided I needed to improve on it somehow, and started adding fringe.
5 and 1/2 days of beading later, I finished the first pass of fringe, at 1:30 this morning.
This is a closeup of the fringed necklace, as it currently exists.
I keep saying this is the first pass of fringe, because the fringe is a little sparse to me in some places (I'm not saying this is a bad thing), but I feel like I've obscured the pearl and iolite framework that defined the whole thing, and even though I like the result thus far, I still feel it isn't quite right.
I clearly need my head examined - this has been 6 days of beading, and I want to do MORE??
So at the shop today, I decided to get a second opinion. I asked one of my part-time employees, who had popped in to do a little shopping. She told me I needed to remove all the fringe, and just leave the basic crocheted wire necklace.
Well I never. (As we say in the South)
And so I decided to keep asking for opinions until I got the one I wanted, as you do.
Later this afternoon, a customer who bead-weaves quite a bit came in, and I presented the whole situation to her, and she told me the fringe was absolutely perfect, and to just stop now.
So, I'll be getting a third opinion tomorrow.
As I have explained to the wise Carol Dean Sharpe, I often feel like my Etsy Shop has cooties. (Remember cooties, folks - back in 6th grade?) Anyway, my beautiful designs sit on the shelves of my poor shop, pining away for a good home, and I get a sale every 3 or 4 months, just to keep me hanging on.
But now that my designs are also on display in my bead shop, I sell 2 or 3 things daily that are also listed on Etsy - and these are the ones that sold today:
These striking magnasite rondelle earrings, accented with sterling silver and Swarovski crystals. The necklace that matched them actually sold from my Etsy shop over a year ago or so - and now the earrings have finally found a great home.

Then these gorgeous rose gold and sterling silver hoop earrings sold!
I just wish there was some magical way for me to mark all these things as sold in my Etsy shop, instead of just deleting them - I feel like it would be a truer reflection of my success, but whatEVER.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008


I decided to close the shop today, and enjoy a day off - I'm not one of those after-Christmas shopper/returners, and I really did not want to fight the traffic to get to my shop, plus I really didn't think most after-Christmas shoppers would be hitting up the bead shop.
So I'm home today with Bailey, doing some beading (that is, I'm doing the beading, Bailey's doing the napping).

This is my latest project:
I've been experimenting with silver crochet, and enjoying it.
In my first project I used a mixture of brown freshwater pearls, champagne freshwater pearls, several earthy, shiny colors of Czech fire-polish beads, and some taupe pinch beads.

It turned out beautifully, with a very organic look, and goes with a lot of my outfits, but it's just kind of plain, for me.

For my second attempt, I chose gorgeous iolite chips, white freshwater pearls, and 4mm silver AB finish Czech fire-polished beads. I love the colors, and the combination, but I just felt like it still lacked "oomph."

So the beadweaver in me jumped up and insisted that I embellish it with fringe. I should make it very clear at this point that I HATE adding fringe to stuff, and usually limit it to a few (as in less than 10) strands on a peyote bail, or some such.

But yet, this seemed like a good plan to me.

Emphasis on "seemed."

It took me maybe 4 hours to croched the necklace you see above.
When I finished, I picked some matching seedbeads, and started adding fringe. 2 and a half DAYS later, I had fringed 6 inches of this necklace, and realized that although I kind of like how it's turning out,
a) the fringe isn't full enough, so when I complete this pass, I will have to go back and add a second full pass of fringe.
b) this is going to take forty forevers to finish.

This shot shows the current status - the point where fringe meets unfringed,

and here's how the first few inches look - the fringe is just a little too sparse for me.
I worked on it for 2 hours this afternoon, while watching some "Bones" reruns I Tivo'd Christmas Eve. Then I just HAD to take a break.
Fringing is tedious.
I was going to work on it some yesterday, but then I got a reprieve - a friend called and invited me to go to dinner and a movie with her and her fiancee. She and I voted for "Marley and Me", but the fiancee voted for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," stating that "Marley and Me" was a chick flick, and he wouldn't be caught dead in a chick flick. And he figured Brad Pitt would never MAKE a chick flick.

So we saw Benjamin Button, and as we were filing out, my friend asked Mr. Macho Fiancee what he thought of it, and his snarly response was "Chick Flick". Of course, we were laughing hysterically at this, as he defensively responded that it was a "love story", and hence a chick flick. And that we should have seen "Valkyrie". Good grief.

Then we tried to find some place open for dinner at 10 PM. In Augusta, Georgia. Know what's open at 10PM on Christmas Day in Augusta? Convenience stores, and Waffle House. So we had a delicious post-chick flick meal at the Awful Waffle. Of course, the Waffle House near the theater was already packed, undoubtedly with like-minded movie folk, so we drove several miles to the next closest one.

Just a little clue for restaurants and bars, especially in this area - opening up for the dinner and theater crowd on Christmas evening = good for business... Just saying...

And now I have run out of excuses to not fringe, so I guess I'll go back to it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I just gotta say...

Running my B&M bead shop keeps me hopping about 16 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week, but it's doing wonders for my "Etsy" sales, in a way.

Just today, these 2 Etsy items sold from my B&M bead shop -

This wire-wrapped dichroic glass pendant had been in my Etsy shop for at least a year, and had been featured in several treasuries.

This wire-wrapped ring had been in my Etsy shop for at least 8 months.

And in the past 2 weeks, these other Etsy items have sold from my bead shop:

This gorgeous beadwoven spiral necklace, listed in September '07, which was frequently featured in Etsy treasuries.

These Swarovski crystal "pinecone" earrings, listed in my Etsy shop last November.

This fabulous bronze peyote cuff, with its eccentric matte blue stripe.

This beadwoven spiral with a gorgeous turquoise heart focal bead was actually purchased by a bride-to-be to wear in her western-themed wedding! She wore jeans, a white long-sleeved button-down shirt, and this necklace, and rode up to the ceremony on horseback. She brought the wedding album in to show me, so that was really gratifying for me.

These cute purple lampwork earrings - but fear not! Their turquoise and their green siblings are still in my Etsy shop!

And this is just in the past 2 weeks... so tomorrow, I am hauling the rest of my Etsy stuff down to the shop, and putting it on display!

So if you've hearted, or had your eye on, something in my Etsy shop and find that it is suddenly no longer there, it may have sold here locally. Thanks Augusta (and Aiken, and North Augusta, and Lincolnton, and Thomson).

OR, it may have traveled over to my ArtFire Studio, where things have been selling within 24 hours of being listed - I'm kind of crushing on ArtFire right now. Not to mention, I got a personal phone call from ArtFire's Jessica today, trying to help me with a problem I had contacted them about. I would have been happy with an e-mail, but a personal phone call, on December 23 - what excellent customer service! Plus, while we were talking, she needed to ask Matt (the IT guru) a question, and told me he was just in the next room, and she actually hollered her question over at him, and I heard him answer!

Bailey is quietly snoring by my side (with his back to me, out of disdain for my prolonged computer time tonight), so I'm going to wrap this up, and cuddle a bit with him and watch NCIS. Yeah, it's a repeat, but I'd pretty much watch Mark Harmon read the phone book, so NCIS here I come.

Y'all have a great Holiday, OK?

PS - and if you want to see some out-of-this world wire-wrapping, go here. Girl's got some mad skillz!

Merry Christmas, Sharon!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Latest

Still staying really busy with the shop!


We had a holiday party last week at the shop, and may I just say: Champagne punch. We had some kick-ass champagne punch. And a lot of fun! It was absolutely pouring rain, complete with thunder and lightning, but we had a great turnout, and a terrific time.

I have very little time to be creative, but I spent about an hour yesterday photographing the things I have made since I bought the shop - and over the next few days, I hope to have these listed either on Etsy or Artfire.

In the meantime, here's a preview:

I love this beaded byzantine bracelet! I used 16 gauge copper rings, and gorgeous cobalt blue lampwork beads.
I made this Sunday as a sample for the chainmaille class I'm scheduled to teach in January.
Love that chainmaille!

Classic black and white herringbone bracelet, made with white 4mm glass cubes, and black size 6 seed beads, and then embellished with black size 11s. Then I found this great vintage black and white button to use as a closure.
This is one of the more popular beadweaving classes I teach.

I came upon this gorgeous freeform carnelian cab which had been set in a sterling silver bezel.
I paired it with carnelian rounds, big chunks of citrine, and big silver Bali spacers.

These are the matching earrings.

I taught myself the Dutch spiral, and this is my first attempt - I used size 8 Delicas, in a rich mauve color, and dark pink galvanized elevens.
It started out to be a simple rope, but then I saw how well it went with this gorgeous painted jasper focal, and here's the result.
I stiched a large bail with the same beads as the rope, and added some embellishing fringe.

This is a fun bracelet - simple peyote stitch using 3 different sizes of seed beads, which gives a ruffle effect.
This bracelet is royal purple, but purple never photographs well for me - maybe I'll learn the secret one day.

This wire wrapped bracelet was a nightmare!
I love the colorful ruby in zoisite focal bead. I love the bracelet, and it fits like a dream, and is very comfortable.
But it is truly one-of-a-kind for me, because it was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will never make another one!

These aren't the only things I have made over the last 5 months, because several things have actually already sold, but I still hate that my creative time is so reduced by the amount of time and energy it takes to run a small business!
So, Happy Holidays to everyone, in case I can't get back here anytime soon!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Grandma Marilyn put together this gorgeous Holiday-themed treasury, and included my Christmas spiral bead-woven necklace - take a look!

And while you're there, check out her lovely shop, too!


Business has been booming at my Bead Shop, especially classes - lots of beadweaving and beading class, almost everyday.

Today I taught a chainmaille class, and these are the earrings everyone made - lots of fun, and a great holiday gift.

If I get a chance to take some better pics, I'll have to list these in my Etsy shop!

Bailey and I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

I need to have a word with him - he's been a really lazy blogger lately!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My new BFF

About 3 years ago, back when I was working at that soul-sucking-corporate-job-that-shall-not-be-mentioned, I maxed out 2 credit cards and gifted myself with this gorgeous leather reclining massage chair. It's heated, it's comfy, and it even massages my feet! What an indulgence.
I just spent 2 hours in my beloved massage chair, all I can say is BLISS... pure, unadulterated bliss.
Thanks, chair.
You can just make out Bailey's double-decker sheepskin-lined foam bed behind the chair - he loves it back there in the corner all snug.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm baaaaaack...!

My poor neglected blog! I can't believe how long it has been and how much has happened since I was here last!

The big big news: I am no longer a struggling, independent jewelry designer... now I am a struggling small business owner! I bought a bead shop on August 1, and it is really keeping me hopping! But talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!
This pic shows my gorgeous, spacious solid oak work table. This is where I am most of the time - doing repairs, creating, or teaching small beading and beadweaving classes.

In the far back you can make out the wall of Czech glass, and behind those curtains is my classroom area, for the larger structured classes like Art Clay Silver, Glass Fusing, Wire-Wrapping, Chainmaille, etc. I can only teach class on Sundays, since I am also my sole employee, and someone has to work the front, but I also have contracted a group of fabulous instructors who come in to teach. I love my teachers!

This shot is taken from the back, and shows how some of the finished pieces are displayed, as well as some gemstones for sale, and against the left wall, all the seed beads, which are arranged by size and color.

This pic is also from the back, and shows the gemstone display, the vintage jewelry (in the glass displays), my findings, and the register area.

I have a great buyer who stalks estate sales for me, and brings in fabulous vintage finds!

This is a slightly different view of the seed bead wall - So many beads, so little time!

I love my bright and cheery shop!

Sales in my Etsy shop have been a little slow, but I have sold SO many of my finished pieces in my bead shop - so if you had your eye on something in my Etsy shop, and it has disappeared, it probably sold from my actual shop!

The opportunity to purchase the shop happened rather suddenly, and I had to fly into high gear, getting business licenses, bank accounts, tax IDs and vendor accounts, and all that other business-related red tape, and I have just now been able to settle down a bit.

I was so busy the first 6 weeks that I didn't even get to THINK about doing anything creative. That really bothered me, because in my head, I saw myself being able to sit there all day long and just bead Bead BEAD, like a kid in a candy shop! Ha!
When one of my vendors brought in these great turquoise donuts, I squirreled them away for myself, and finally had a few spare hours to play with them, and I came up with this macrame design.

October was fast approaching, and I have always been heavily involved with breast cancer awareness, so I wanted to create something special. My goal was to have it finished by October 1, and I didn't even get to start it until October 8, but I am SO pleased with the finished bracelet!
I had a small setback last week - I had to have cervical disc surgery. I had fallen back in April and ruptured a disc in my neck, and tried all the usual non-surgical methods to relieve the pain, but I finally had to bite the bullet and have the surgery last Thursday. The doctor told me I would be out of work 4-6 weeks, but that would have crippled my new business, so I went back this morning. I'm really sore right now from holding my head up all day long, but it'll be OK. The huge bruised, swollen gash on my neck did frighten a few customers, though!
Happy October!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gearing up

So, we all know by now that I am hooked on chains. Just love the chainmaille!

So I spent last week researching jump ring cutting systems, and finally picked one out and placed the order on Thursday. And I ordered a bunch (a bunch) of wire.

The jump ring cutter should be here by the end of next week (holiday delay, of course), and my wire by mid-week, so I need to figure out where I'm going to put everything, and how I'm going to store all the different sizes and gauges and types of rings I cut.

Then I'll get the system set up, hopefully without any difficulty, and figure out how to cut rings!

Then I'll start putting some handouts together, and hopefully be teaching chainmaille classes by October.

I hope.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chain Chain Chain, Chaining Fool

I'm back from William Holland, and I had the best time!

I took Chainmaille - and here are all the projects I made in class - it was a tremendously productive, and fun, week! I learned SO many new patterns, and can't wait to do more! I am so hooked on this!

Instead of staying at the school, as I usually do, I had been invited to stay at my friend Kathy's gorgeous mountain home near the school. This is the view from her deck! We had gorgeous weather, and Bailey got to go, too, so he didn't have to stay in the kennel, which was so nice for both of us.

Kathy teaches Wire-wrapping, Bead-weaving, and Cold Connections at William Holland, but last week she took Enameling (while I was taking Chain), and this is the gorgeous bracelet she made. Now I want to take Enameling!

Kathy has two dogs - Tai, a cocker spaniel, and Kuda, a precious Yorkie-poo puppy. Here, Bailey tolerates Kuda's kisses.

Bailey says he will blog about the trip when he recovers - he is still sleeping it off!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back to School

I'm leaving for William Holland again in the morning, and this time is so different from the last. This time, instead of staying in the dorm, I will be staying at the home of one of the teachers, who is also a friend. She graciously offered her home to me AND Bailey, so we will be staying with her, and commuting a short distance to the school every morning. This is such a great opportunity for me, and so nice of her.

I'll be taking chainmaille, so that makes this trip especially exciting. As you may know, I am totally hooked on chainmaille, and can't wait to learn more techniques and designs.

I have been packing and doing laundry in preparation for leaving in morning, and Bailey is extremely agitated. Usually when he sees me packing, he knows he is going to the kennel. The only exception has been our trips to Daufuskie Island, but those are few and far between. Little does Bailey know, he is going on vacation with me, and he will be staying with 2 canine playmates.

I think we will both be having a great time.

My Etsy shop is temporarily closed, so that no one will be expecting prompt shipment of a new purchase while I am away from home. I'll re-open it in about 10 days.

I still have a HUGE secret - a few of you have asked about it. I'm hoping a few more folks will comment here, and convince me to spill the beans! It is worth it, I promise!

See you in a week or so!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Passion of the Lawn

OK - I have a confession.

I prefer almost ANYTHING to doing yardwork.

There. I said it.

This beautiful purple flower is Passiflora incarnata, the passionflower. Pretty, huh?

I first saw this flowering vine at a gorgeous gardening center in Columbia, SC, about 10 years ago. The owners told me that it was the exclusive host for a particular species of butterfly, and I decided to take a sprig home and train it on a cast-iron trellis next to my deck.

And for 9 years, the gorgeous, rapid-growing passionflower vine grew and festooned my deck, and I had lots of little orange butterflies everywhere, and all was good.

But the gardening center folks neglected to tell me this little purple flower and its vine were invasive.

And this year, it has decided to make its move.

It is spreading out from my deck, and taking over my yard, and my hammock, and who knows what will be next?

It isn't even fazed by the current drought conditions, and it loves our 100 degree temps!

It even tries to trip me when I walk through the yard.

Here, Bailey has a face-to-face with the intruder.

Sure, it's pretty, but this is getting ridiculous.

I have NO idea how to get this under control. Of course, I could start by getting the yard mowed...

Here are some earrings I made last week - they even match the Passionflower!
PS - I have a secret! It's a really, really big secret, but if you want to know, post a comment here. If I see that you really want to know, I'll spill!

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Newest Chainmaille Design

I may be stuck in a rut, folks... I am fascinated with combining different metals!

Here is my newest chainmaille design -

Flowers, made up of copper, sterling silver, and 14k gold-filled rings, in 6 different sizes.

This pattern took about 2 weeks to design, with a lot of failed attempts along the way. Lots of opening and closing of hundreds and hundreds of rings...

I didn't think it was going to be that difficult, so I didn't even start photographing until about a week into the ordeal.

Part of the delay in development was due to my running out of suitable jump rings, and having to wait for the order to arrive.

Here is a photo from about 10 days into the process - the last failed attempt is at the top, and the final pattern is finally visible below it.

This close-up of my last 2 attempts shows that the flower is visible in the upper design, but just not well-enough developed to suit me.

Then, as I stared at it, (and contemplated the agony of disassembling it once again, opening all those rings...) inspiration struck. I created 2 more flower units, changing the size of one of the rings in the pattern, and reconnected the units by bringing all the rings on the sides together with one larger sterling ring, and the final pattern emerged.

I took apart the previous design (that's 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back!) and got busy assembling the floral units and building the bracelet.

But I still wasn't quite happy with it, and wanted more color in the juncture between the flowers. I spent about an hour attaching and removing rings, trying to figure out how to get a mixture of metals in those connections, and finally gave up and went to bed.

When I got up yesterday, I continued building the flower units and connecting them, and it suddenly hit me - I could connect the units with an even larger sterling silver ring, and nest a copper ring inside the large silver ring...

This worked perfectly, so I disassembled the bracelet, again, and reconnected all the units, and finished it off with this stunning hammered sterling silver toggle.

Then I counted the remaining rings to make sure I had enough for a pair of earrings, (didn't want to start something I couldn't finish!) and I just love the result. Now all that remains is to tumble them, to remove tool marks and harden the rings, and I'll be ready to list them on Etsy (if I can part with them!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Collaboration, Part 2

Here is the second bracelet I wire-wrapped with SandFiber's gorgeous peyote beads,

Carol Dean wove the peyote beads with emerald-AB delicas, although they look more teal than emerald to me.

I added sterling silver rombo spacer beads, and then crafted the wire-wrapped bangle with sterling silver wire.

This beautiful bracelet will fit up to 6.75 inches, and is lightweight and flexible.

I have to thank CD for this fabulous idea - adding handmade beadwoven beads to a wire-wrapping project was genius! These two bracelets turned out great!