Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles and Studio News: French Country Giveaway Winners

I'm not going to be a very good judge. I like BOTH of the designers who entered the French Country bead giveaway. Since I have enough beads for both, both Mel P AND Hilary won the beads. They both have different design styles and I'd love to see what they do with the beads. I think I'm going to start a Flickr group for these Inspiration and Design Challenges...I'll post the name of the group and invite y'all to join when it's ready. Mel - I'll drop the beads in the mail today with your other win...Hilary, I know most of your address...just need the street and number.

And on to other amusement

Occasionally I think I need to change the name of this blog to...The One-Woman Three Stooges show. Featuring me! and sundry, unsuspecting Hong Kongers. For the uninitiated, I am a klutz. Let me clarify: I am an uber-klutz. My family and friends know this well. Now, I share this aspect of my life with you.

Today's topic: How rain adds an extra layer of danger adventure to Life in Hong Kong.


Okay. The dog has nothing to do with tonight's topic. I just had to get a picture of the random dog walking in the random crowd outside of work.

Back to the subject at hand. Does anyone see the danger here? ANYONE?

Okay, maybe pictures do not do the situation justice. Let me 'splain, people. I am taller than 50% of the people here. To give you a picture, three of the ladies I eat lunch with on Mondays come up to my armpit. (I know. Not that pleasant for them. I do try to use strong deodorant.) But, coming back to you see where that puts their umbrellas? And consider that 50% of the population is shorter than me?

It's already narrow and crowded.

Add rain (umbrellas) and you shrink the walking space further. Therefore,

I often have to float my umbrella over other people and duck and weave to avoid the umbrella points that are coming straight at my eye.


What do you get when you combine ceramic tiles and rain? A Buster-Keaton-Laurel-and-Hardy-Charlie-Chaplin-Three-Stooges-Marx-Brothers banana peel slapstick fall.


Did that last Wednesday.

Before I give you the rest of the story...why, oh why do they use ceramic tiles as the OUTDOOR ENTRY to the homes in my village?
The rest of the story: When I picked up Molly from the dog-sitters on Wednesday after my trip to Shanghai-Beijing (pictures coming), I went to get her in between rain bursts. I was walking Molly and her box with food, bedding and water on a little trolley. Instead of going the long way, I walked through the village along the front of my apartments. They have CERAMIC TILE in front of their patio entrances. Does no one see a problem with this?

All I know is, one minute I was walking. The next minute, I was laid out flat on my back, dog food spilled everywhere and Molly sniffing me and asking, "What's wrong, Mama? Why are you lying down?"

I have a sneaking suspicion that is the reason why my back has been hurting me since Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Studio Time: Urban Kiwi Necklace and Earrings

A cheerful, spring-y burst of color adorns this Urban Kiwi necklace and earrings. Who says Urban has to be serious and grown up? The pink is a cheery CiM color called Rose Quartz, paired with a juicy Vetrofond Odd Lot called Kiwi. The chain begins with some hand-coiled and cut jump rings, mixed with handmade eye-loops. The rest of the chain is finished in hand-made eye-loops with sterling silver balls. The necklace is 18 inches long with the drop, an additional bubble cluster of 1.5 inches.

The earrings are an even smaller cluster of 1-inch drop earrings.

Juicy and summery. Available in my Artfire shop.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Effectively Focused: Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral - Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

The final article in the series, Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral. You're juggling life priorities and you know why you want to start a creative business. Now what?


What obstacles are in your way toward following your life priorities? I like the creative approach of writing a mind-map to anticipate obstacles that prevent me from achieving my life's priorities. When I did this exercise, it made me realize that my creative business was at the bottom of the priority heap. I know! Shocking! Yet, this revelation helped me create some boundaries:
  1. Time Budget. I created a maximum weekly limit, a monthly schedule, and budgeted my blog-surfing, computer work, research, design work, production, etc.
  2. Money Budget. I have some other financial goals I want to achieve before I am ready to invest in growing the business. This helped me to make some decisions of living within my creative budget and utilizing the stash I had already accumulated rather that continuing to try new things. It also contributed to the decision to slow down and become really skilled in one medium.
  3. Attitude Budget. I have a tendency to throw myself at something I really like. I came to the understanding that, at this point in time, the creative business was currently an extra, a bonus, a Life Seasoning. Amazingly, doing my activities in priority order, has actually allowed me to find ways to become more efficient and effective with my regular priorities. I also approach my business in a more organized fashion, too. By letting the jewelry business flow around all of my other activities, I get to indulge quite often (a newsletter! a blog! jewelry! glass! a shop!) without guilt.
Do a check-up on your priorities every few months and make sure your activities are properly aligned with your priorities. By creating the foundation for your Creative Corral you can begin to grow your business effectively and with purpose.

Next month's newsletter: understanding your value system and how it applies to your online presence. The internet has some feelings of a modern wild, wild west. How can you translate your IRL (In Real Life) values into a principled business and online presence? Want to read the whole article on the first of June? Sign up for the newsletter over to the left.

Studio News: Urban Lavendar Earring Giveaway

Mel P over at Kookie Designs is the latest winner. Mel, email me with your contact info. Congratulations!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Studio News: French Country Bead Giveaway

I'd like to do a design challenge. I'd like to give these beads away to a jewelry artist. My ideal artist is someone whose repertoire of skills and style is different than mine or someone who wants to challenge themselves along a different design track. I've already done a simple design in French Country. Anyone else want to try?

How to win: comment on this post with a link to your gallery of work. I will choose a designer and announce the winner on Friday, May 29.

The French Country bead set
warm, pale, earthy yellow reminiscent of color-washed country kitchen walls
deep, transparent, sparkly Sapphire blue

Provence, France in the summer
Bicycling through the countryside
Imprinting lavendar fields on your mind
Sipping wine in a warm, cozy cafe
Nibbling on a plate of cheese and fruit

The hearty laughter of close companions
The deep friendship of kindred spirits

Friday, May 22, 2009

Studio News: Banana Folk Berry Winner!

The winner is: Shaiha over at Life on Ash Street. Congratulations, Shaiha and send me your address and I'll pop these in the post ASAP!

Also, check out what Kristin at KS Jewellery Designs did with the Kiwi Beadberry giveaway from last month. I bought her tutorial on the wire flowers she does. I'm very impressed with her wirework. Her tutorial helped me refine some of my wirework and continue to put the silversmithing off for now (yay!).

And one more quick note: Mel P at Kookie Designs is doing an earring giveaway as well. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Studio News: Urban Lavendar - Earring Giveaway

I love Creation is Messy colors. They are so dreamy! Part of it is the names chosen for the colors. How much fun can you have with colors called Heffalump and Chalcedony? This much fun! These are simple Folk Berries in a base of Heffalump (a pale lavendar) drizzled with a bit of Chalcedony. It makes for a lovely, light gradient of color. Very subtle.

These earrings are 1 1/8 inches from the drop. They rest on sterling silver and have a double loop of hand-wound, hammered jump rings.

Want to win these? Sign up for my newsletter and post a comment to this post! Winner will be announced next, Sunday, May 24.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Studio News: Banana Folk Berry Bead Giveaway

I keep hearing yellow is the "it" color of the year. Okay. I just like yellow. Would you like some buttery, earthy yellow beads? These are some of my Folk Berry beads. They are Vetrofond Odd Lot of a pale, buttery yellow with a reactive core. The result reminds me of a banana peel.

Enter to win by commenting on your favorite thing in my Artfire store. Winner will be announced on Friday, May 22.


Color: Vetrofond Banana Odd Lot - a smooth, mellow yellow with a reactive center that creates beautiful, gentle striations when wound as a disk. It reminds me of a ripe banana peel.

Rod Size: my lot was 6mm rods

How the glass feels to me: The rods melted similarly to other opaques...fairly quickly and required quicker work since it melted easier. I found this glass a little more sensitive to thermal shock. If I was too quick to warm the rod, I could feel it crackle through the rod. If I didn't slow down, 1-inch chunks would pop off. (I would reclaim these as a bead by carefully perching the little chunk of glass on top of the mandrel and melting it into a bead.) I found this glass required additional time for warming in the flame. When I was working on refining a bead's shape, I would keep the wafting through the top part of the flame to keep it warm. However, once the glass was comfortably warm, it worked similarly to other opaques.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Effectively Focused: Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral - Part III

So, you're lining up your life priorities, now what?
Why are you starting a creative business? Do merely need to vent creativity? Do you want your hobby to pay for itself? Do you want to make some extra money or build a full business? Do you want to create an art empire? Your motive contributes to the focus and helping your business move forward to the goal instead of meandering and not really going anyhere. Don't make the mistake of defining your financial goal yet. Merely have an understanding of your motives. When you re-visit your priorities periodically, you may be at different points on the motivation continuum. Can you give more time to the business? Do you need to downgrade the priority to care for more urgent matters? That's okay! Your priority list helps you juggle and organize the activities that are most important at this point in time.
Next week: the final post in the series, Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Studio Time: French Country - CiM Sapphire

Although I have been working with the theme, "Urban Primrose" for the last month, serendipity sometimes takes over. I have been getting to know my new lampwork setup and renewing my knowledge of the individual glass colors and ended up with a kiln full of blue and yellow beads.

How can you NOT do French Country?

Only this is French Country Kanna style: the blue is a deep Creation is Messy Sapphire that glints and glimmers and is achingly beautiful. These are the organic, faceted beads I call Glibble Berries. The yellow is a beautiful, earthy yellow, reminiscent of buttery yellow color-washed walls. It's an odd lot of Vetrofond Banana with a reactive core that gives it the summery earthiness. Together they become French Country.


For other lampworkers, I am working through my glass stash and getting to know individual colors. I will be building up a library on my website of how I interpret the glass. While this is probably mostly just a library for me, I'll go ahead and post my findings, just in case anyone else can find it useful. Thanks!

Manufacturer: Creation is Messy

Color: Sapphire - this is an achingly beautiful, vivid, blue sapphire. I have done an encased version and done plain spacers. Encasing dulls the blue. The plain color is dramatic. My opinion is that this color should never be's too pretty. Also, this color looks great as nuggets or with facets. This is a standard color for CiM.

Rod Size: 6 mm

How the glass feels to me: I have been finding CiM colors to be a bit stiffer in the flame. The good part of this is that the stiffness gives you a little more working time for shaping. The challenge is switching between opaques that are softer and back to CiM colors that are generally stiffer. Once your mind assimilates the differences, you get some beautiful effects with CiM colors. Warm the glass slowly in the flame. When you work it slow, the way it wants to be worked, the resulting beads are crystal clear.

A surprising effect: I had been working this glass faster because of working with other opaques and discovered a fun little effect. If I warmed it too quickly, I could feel the rod pop and see shattering through the glass, although the glass didn't actually splinter off. I would warm the glass again and still form a bead which would then include hundreds of bubbles and created a look similar to seeded glass.

How to work to achieve various results:

Basic clear: warm the glass slowly in the flame and wind slowly

Seeded look: to get all over bubble inclusions (similar to seeded glass), waft the glass quickly and closely to the flame until you feel the rod shattering at the end. Once it shatters, slow down (so it doesn't pop off) and let the glass melt back together then begin winding onto the mandrel. Continue winding slowly and forming the bead as desired. I found this easier to repeat with a rod that had been warmed and set aside aside, then re-warmed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Studio Time: Urban Chocolate Earrings

I have some beads leftover from the month of April with the demure theme. I have these tiny, Hershey's Chocolate colored Cherry Berries, a mere 6mm wide. I also had a pair of the chocolate-y beads with little dots of pale blue. I paired these with hand-wound, hammered, sterling-silver jump rings. They are 1.75".

Available in my Artfire shop.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Effectively Focused: Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral - Part II

Following up from last week's post on Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral, there are three questions, that only you can answer. The first one:


What are your life priorities? Within those priorities, what are the sub-priorities? What are "must-attend" appointments for the week/month? Understanding your priorities and their relationship to each other helps you know what needs to be sacrificed and in what order. It's amazing how much you get done when working from a priority list. For me, it also a motivator to care for my priorities in the most effective and efficient I can go play and do something creative (it's my creative carrot). I can then create without guilt. This habit also protects me from burnout.

Next week, Question #2...

(P.S. - want to read the rest of the article now? Sign up for the newsletter over to the left.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Creative Finds: Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

One of my favorite books of late is the book Taking Flight~Inspiration & Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings, by Kelly Rae Roberts. The book is deceptive: it looks sweet and easy to read. Well, it is sweet...but, I found it very thought-provoking. While I usually skim books looking for bits and pieces of tutorials I can use in my art, this book actually took me two weeks to read. Two of the chapters, "Unearthing Buried Dreams," and "Facing Your Fears" contained some thought processes that helped me overcome some of the "inner chatter" that was holding me back. Very cool stuff.

© 2008 by Kelly Rae Roberts
Book photo printed with permission of the artist

Of course, you can just purchase this book straight from Amazon, but there are two ways you can support us artists. If you wanted a signed copy from the artist with a limited edition print: click here. If you are buying this book because of my recommendation (I get a referral commission and you still pay the Amazon price) click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Studio Time: Urban Primrose Lariat - 18-inch necklace

City = gray
Primrose = deep pink
I imagine this lariat gracing the throat of a woman who is urban and defined, fabulous and fine. A woman who recognizes the value of intricate handwork and doesn't mind stepping off the well traveled path. A woman who knows her tastes.

This piece is the pinnacle of my Urban Primrose design theme. When my mind settled on the Urban Primrose theme over two months ago, I started looking at my beads and mentally sorting through the catalog of skills I have (versus the skills I would like to learn) and settled on a simple pairing of brightly colored beads in a small cluster with a lot of silver. In a lot of ways, this was a labor of love. I've been working on this necklace for two months and it represents hours and hours (I've lost track of how many) of work.

The labor-intensive part of this project as the super-fine chain maille in 22-guage Argentium silver in Byzantine weave. To give you an idea of how fine, there are nearly three Byzantine links in one inch of this necklace. The width of the necklace is a mere 3mm wide. This is super fine, delicate handwork and the result is a stunningly beautiful chain. There are 38 Byzantine links in 14 inches of chain. That's 532 jump rings woven, with care and closed with precision in butted chain maille. (Side note: in butted maille, strength depends on the design and I depend on Urban Maille to help me create a strong weave.)

Another component I have had in mind was this toggle loop. You have to wiggle the pearls through the toggle, but the end result gives you some wearing options...a choker with a dangle or a regular necklace. I did four versions of this toggle loop before I settled on one that matched the picture in my head and the design of the neklace. Kristin at KS Jewelry Design had a tutorial on wire-wrapped and hammered loops that helped me refine the design.

As I was finishing this piece off and looking at the toggle loop, I realized I didn't want to finish the design entirely in chain maille. I broke up the expanse of chain maille with three wire-wrapped hammered eye-links, linked with sets of hammered jump rings.

Available in my Artfire shop.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Effectively Focused: Laying the Foundation for Your Creative Corral - Part I

After dabbling with a creative business for the last 6-7 years, I have become very serious about glass, silver, and jewelry. As I was writing the original article on developing a mission statement, I saw interwoven in the content a foundation that was implied but never stated. This article backs up a few steps and addresses laying the foundation of your creative business by cementing the cornerstones of your principles:

  1. identifying and organizing your life priorities as they relate to each other
  2. your value system and how it will translate into your business practices and online presence
This article is devoted to the first step.
Every few months, I receive reminders to make sure I am approaching my life's priorities in the proper order. I need the reminders because it's so easy to let things get out of whack and pretty soon you're doing things in the wrong order and you have created unnecessary angst. When you do things in the wrong order, life becomes inefficient which swirls into a toxic tornado of stress and guilt, which then saps creative energy and joy.

Lifting a creative business is going to involve more time. If you already have a packed life, you probably wonder how you can possibly add any more without stealing from another area. I found reviewing my priorities a vital exercise in figuring out where my creative endeavors fit.

My Story

When I finally gave myself permission to indulge my creativity, it was unleashed in a blinding storm. My mind churned out a myriad of creative sprites that galloped off into too many artistic directions...stringing, wirework, photography, crocheting, lampwork beads, knitting, sewing, chain maille, metalsmithing, silver clay, website ideas, colored pencils, collage. Dizzy yet? Yeah, so was I. To complicate that, opportunities were popping up and I wasn't prepared to deal with them. I was in need of corralling my wild herd of creative sprites.

So, maybe your creativity is a continuous stream and you don't have to worry about reining the creativity in. However, you still need a foundation of principles from which to lift off and guide the business. You will be layering in new activities as they relate to a creative business. Knowing your priorities makes your decision-making efficient and effective. You focus on the activities that help reach your goals and sort the ineffective activities to the bottom. Having a focus...or a creative corral...will help you figure out whether you should say yes! or [gasp] no to an opportunity. If you do say yes, understanding your priorities helps you set expectations, direct opportunities to a version that is more in line with your goals, and to say no without guilt (isn't saying no hard for women?), then organize the resulting tasks.

It's also good to note that, unlike a herd of mustangs, creative sprites aren't bounded by gravity. They can (and should) still float up out of the corral, plucking ideas that meander across...but with guidelines that make sense in the context of the creative corral you've defined.
Part II will follow next Monday.
P.S. - If you don't want to wait that long to read the rest of the article, sign up for the newsletter over to the left.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Artfully Meandering: Urban Primrose Design Challenge

Need a creative challenge? Click over to my new blog for the May Inspiration Challenge Urban Primrose.

Studio Time: Urban Primrose

organic / geometric
color / monochrome
natural / manmade

The urban/natural dichotomy was my inspiration for this month's theme.

Inspiration Challenge

Within your art medium, what dichotomies push your boundaries? What is your current comfort zone in the realm of color, texture, art medium, inspiration source? What is the opposite of your comfort zone? For example, if you like organic design, can you try precision? If you like color, can you experiment with monochrome? Can you experiment with texture?

Ready for a challenge? If you take up this challenge, send me photos or blog links!

My inspiration generally springs from elegant, clean, and organic. Southwest U.S. style is my favorite style. The reason I mention this is that anything Urban is a design challenge for me.

If you want a sneak peek at my urban inspirations, you can pop over to my Flickr Gallery or Artfire Shop. Stories behind the actual pieces will be posted throughout the month. Below is a quick little preview of the goodies to come.