Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gift Certificates & Prizes

I am so glad Christmas is officially over! This was a very quiet and mellow Christmas for me. I spent the entire weekend at home, alone. But it's not as depressing as it might sound...I spent most of that time beading! And I prefer to work alone anyways...I get so much more accomplished that way!

I also happen to be a very nocturnal creature...maybe it has something to do with being born at 3:00 in the afternoon? But if I do not 'absolutely have to be somewhere' in the morning and during the daytime, I am up all night and usually go to sleep as the sun comes up. And this is not always so amenable to the other people in the house!

But with my husband out of town, there was no one here to be bothered by my crazy sleep schedule! So I got a lot of work done...and I watched some old TV shows on my laptop to keep me company...without having to turn it down so it wouldn't disturb any one's sleep!

We haven't had cable or even a television set hooked up since my daughter went away to college...which is totally fine by me! I hate having to remember if something I actually want to see is coming on at a certain time...and there's not much on Cable TV that I want to see anyways! So I just watch Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on my laptop.

I might be years behind everyone else when it comes to finally watching some older Movies & TV shows, but I can enjoy them at any hour of the day or night and it keeps me company while I am beading!

Now I did not realize (and am a little disappointed) that today was a federal holiday...and that means no Mail Delivery! I am waiting for a package that I just know is sitting at my local Post Office waiting to be delivered to me!! And it has beads in it!

I may have mentioned before that I never, ever, ever win anything...and then in the past 2 weeks, I won something twice! I was one of the lucky people that won the Dream Keeper Vessel Ring Tutorial from Marcia DeCoster, which I received in my email right before Christmas...and it is stunning! I can't wait to make several of these!

And then out of the blue, I won a Facebook/Blog contest hosted by The Hole Bead Shoppe! And for that one I got a $25 gift certificate for beads! So I immediately went to their website and browsed around putting things in my shopping cart and trying to decide what I should get!

Whenever I have a gift certificate or "birthday money" I always try to get something that I wouldn't normally spend my own money on. It can actually be hard to do this, especially being on a really tight budget right now! I always try to be economically smart with my purchasing (even when I am not unemployed), but this is money that cannot be spent on bills and food no matter how I plan my budget!

So along with some beads, I decided to get a package of the new Tulip Beading needles. I have been wanting to try these for a while, but it's hard to spend $5 on 4 needles when I can spend $5 and get 4 packs of 25 Pony needles...that's 100 needles for the same price!

But I am excited to try these Tulip needles. I have a feeling I am not going to like the size 11 as much as the size 12's that I usually use. But they don't come in size 12 for some reason and I was definitely not spending $14 for 3 size 13 needles! Even with a gift certificate...haha!

So I am hoping this package arrives in the mail tomorrow...and I will report back with all of my opinions about the Tulip needles!

And speaking of Gift Certificates...my awesome daughter got me a gift certificate to my LBS for my birthday this month. And I saved this Gift Certificate for 2 whole weeks because every year after Christmas my LBS has their one & only annual sale...20 to 50 percent off of everything! And that sale started today!

So I got myself up and out of the house before noon to get to this sale to spend my birthday bead money! All Czech Glass and Seed Beads were 25 percent off so I stocked up on some things that I wouldn't normally buy...like a tube of Antique Silver Seed Beads and some Matte Metallic size 15/0 seed beads. Then I found some beautiful Fire Polish beads and some Daggers & Drop beads! I also got a bunch of Czech Glass Buttons that were 50 percent off and several "fill it up for $1" baggies of random gemstone beads!

All in all it was a great day...and I got myself some Christmas presents!

But you should check out The Hole Bead Shoppe. They carry a lot of Beautiful Lucite Flowers & Leaves, Czech & Japanese Seed Beads and some Vintage Czech Glass as well as Thread, Needles and other beading Supplies! They also have a blog and a Facebook page...where you can enter contests and you can vote on their Day of the Dead beading challenge! The kit for this challenge was put together by The Hole Bead Shoppe and was limited to only 10 lucky people and there are some really cool designs, so check them out on FB and vote for your favorite!

Still waiting for some snow...it's just not winter to me without snow! I will be in Ann Arbor Michigan for New Year's though and it's always snowing up there!

Hope you all enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing Christmas with your loved ones (or by yourself, whichever you prefer) and wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!

And it looks like I have another Blog Friend! Thank you Siggi!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Quiet Christmas Eve

So it is Christmas Eve...and I am home alone with my cat and my Christmas Tree and my beads! It would be perfect if it were snowing!

 I would love to spend some of the day with my family tomorrow, but everyone has so many other family obligations & In Laws to spend the holidays with etc...And my daughter is grown up and has her own home now and my husband is out of town for work this week. So, I am alone here in this huge, spooky, stone mansion...but it's actually quite nice and peaceful.

But my favorite part of Christmas is having a Christmas Tree and seeing the houses all lit up with Christmas Lights! It reminds me of my childhood and driving around the fancy neighborhoods to see all the lights!

I love the idea surrounding this Holiday, and I love the spirit of giving! But I hate the Black Friday consumer crap that it has become...so I don't really participate in all of that. But I do have a tree and we do have lights on the house!

I live in an old Victorian Style Stone Castle (it even has a turret)...Circa 1880. The house is on the National Historic Registry, but the landlords don't take care of it at all. It is definitely falling apart around us, but I still love it! It sits off the road on a 1 acre lot in the middle of the city and is surrounded by trees and a little stone wall...it's just beautiful and spooky!

And it has Christmas lights on it! As you drive up our street, you come up over a little hill, and all of a sudden all you can see is our house framed with Christmas lights! And I have always loved to see that, even before I lived here!

I have lived on this street in 4 different houses over the past 20 years and I always wanted to live in this one! Then about 6 years ago, I finally moved in! But this might be the last Christmas I spend here so I wanted to get some pictures of the house lit up at Christmas...

And I have to warn you, these are not great pictures because it's dark outside and I had to try to stand perfectly still to get the extra exposure to take a night time photo (no tripod)...but they are nostalgic photos for me...or they will be one day...haha!

This is the only angle I could get a decent shot, so nothing too fancy. This is the main entryway and the Turret framed with lights:

Obviously I forgot to stand still long enough for that last one...haha! But I like it anyways!

And now I should get back to my beads...I have a lot of projects that still need finishing! But I wanted to share my terrible photos of my lovely Christmas lights...and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope everyone gets some peaceful alone time and some loving family time tomorrow!

And of course I wish everyone plenty of Beading Time!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My latest beading trays

I wanted to share a picture of these awesome little trays I found on Ebay that are just perfect for my beading projects! These are children's size cafeteria trays...they have 4 compartments and are made out of lightwieght yet sturdy plastic. They measure 13.5"x 8.5" and they stack nicely, even with projects on them!

In this photo, I am working on a project using the Spinal Tap rope by Mikki Ferrugiaro of Mikki Ferrugiaro Designs and her blog The Beaded Carpet...it is an awesome design and the rope is super flexible and has an amazing shape to it!

I love these little trays...and with their rounded corners, I never snag my thread on the edge...and that used to happen all the time with my old system! And when that happens, it spills all the little piles of beads into each other and is especially irritating!

I lined the little compartments with pieces of bead mats. I always order several of these with any bead purchase, so I have a lot of bead mats in my stash. They are so great for lining any and all bead working surfaces...I even have one lining the bottom of my Loom!

But these trays come in packs of 4 for around $8 with shipping...so I bought 2 sets and shared some with my mom for her beadwork. I always have several of them stacked up with projects on them, and I just use another small piece of bead mat to cover the center section with all the piles of beads, and then they don't roll around and get mixed up!

I also have some little 11"x 8" white plastic trays made for food service by Mozaik. They don't have the separate compartments but they do have the nice rounded edges and they also stack very well. These also came from Ebay in a pack of 8 for around $12 with shipping.

I use both styles of my new beading trays all the time...I guess the choice just depends on the mood I am in! But I searched for a long time to find nice little trays that I could use for my beadwork instead of just putting a bead mat down on my work surface. With that method you can't move the project without a big mess, or without putting all the beads away.

And for a while I just put a big piece of thick cardboard under the mat so I could move it around, but this was not an ideal solution. My thread was always catching the corner of the cardboard and making a huge mess, plus I could not easily stack and store my projects with that system! Not to mention my bead mats did not like to stay in place without sliding around or being taped down!

The mail man just arrived and he delivered a package from Fusion Beads! I love getting beads in the mail! They are discontinuing their line of Cubic Zirconia Beads so they were 50 percent off! Which means their 18mm x 7mm CZ Drops were $1.44 each! They sold out very quickly! But I managed ti get several sets of them in 5 colors so I can make more pairs of Marcia DeCoster's Medici Drop earrings for Christmas presents!

This size is a little smaller than the ones I used in my first pair of these...those were 28mm x 7mm CZ drops that I purchased at Beadaholique. I love those longer drops...they are stunning!

But I have had many people tell me that they can't wear such long earrings, so these 18mm drops should be perfect for shorter versions of the Medici Drop Earrings! And who knows, maybe I will use them in some other earring designs as well!

Well, I guess I need to go work on some of those pairs of earrings! And I wish you lots of luck getting all of your beading projects done before Christmas! I know I am going to have a lot of sleepless nights in the next week or so!

Happy Beading and try to get some rest before Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Friends & Blog Hops

Well I am just so excited! I have my first Friends of my Blog! I guess they officially call them "Followers" but I like Friends better! It sounds less cult like...

But I wanted to officially Thank You for being my first Blog Friends, Lori Anderson of Pretty Things and Karyn of  Releases by Rufydoof.

And I got my first comment! I know this might seem silly to many of you, but I have never written a blog before and I while I have been following some of my favorite bead artists' blogs, I have always been a lurker...never a commenter! Hard to believe considering how much I like to talk and write about beads!

But the lovely Miss Marcia DeCoster changed all that with her "Share the Love Blog Hop" that her and 6 other wonderful bead artists shared with us for the past week!

Marcia DeCoster of MadDesigns, Beverly Gilbert, Val Hebert of Val's Art Studio, Jeanette Cook of Beady Eyed Women, Carol Dean Sharp of Sand Fibers, Cynthia Deis of Shiny Little Things and Lori Anderson of Pretty Things have all joined together to offer us some beautiful prizes for "hopping" around to read their blogs and leave a friendly comment!

It was so much fun...seeing all the wonderful beads and crystals and books and cabochons and silk and all the pretty things that they added to the goody bags...it was just amazing!

And, I was one of the lucky second place winners on Marcia's blog...she felt bad that everyone couldn't win so she gifted her pattern for the Dream Keeper Vessel ring to 5 lucky winners! Check it out, it is absolutely stunning!

Now I have never win anything...seriously! I don't even bother to enter contests and lotteries anymore because I just don't ever win! Of course the not entering part could have something to do with not winning, but you know what I mean!

But other than all the beautiful beads being given away, I had so much fun getting to know these artists on a more personal level...and I was introduced to several blogs that I hadn't been following before. Now I can see myself spending all of my time reading blogs and not beading!

It's a good thing I have taken on the New Year's Earring Challenge at Beading Daily! At least this will keep me motivated to bead after I am done with my daily reading! I am also excited to join the Beading Babes hosted by Releases by Rufydoof in their 3rd Project! These projects should keep me busy!

No photos in the diary today...but I just got my camera back and am working on setting up a better photo taking area for my beads and jewelry. Hopefully this will help with the quality of photos I post here in the future.

Now I really do have to get back to some fast & furious beading if I intend to have anything done by Christmas!

Happy Beading, Reading and Blogging!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Preciosa Twin Beads & International Shipping

So today is my Birthday...I am 39, which is only 1 year away from 40...and that's only 1 decade away from 50...Haha! But all in all the day itself was perfectly fine as far as birthdays go...

Of course I would be much more excited about it all if it would just snow on my birthday! That hasn't happened since I turned 17...and that day it snowed over 2 feet! And I love snow storms...or any kind of storms actually. But bright, sunny and cold winter days just seem so out of place to me! Where is the beautiful grey sky of winter?

I had a lot of annoying errands to run today...which is a very bad idea in the middle of December! I can't believe that I actually forgot what it is like out there in the world of Christmas shopping...something I avoid like the plague! But my wonderful Daughter offered to drive me around so at least I got to spend some of my Birthday with her...even if we were in Commercial Christmas Hell!

But when I got home my new Twin Beads from Preciosa were in the mailbox! I have been wanting to try these out since I heard about them, but not wanting to end up with 100 grams of one color before seeing them first...so ordering from York Beads or another Wholesale Supplier was out of the question for now!

So I ordered 3 little 10 gram tubes from Sparkle Spot in Bronze, Black and Crstal. I use Bronze and Black more than any other color except maybe Red...and I figured the Crystal color would be good for using in netted ornament covers or something Christmassy!

These beads are so damn cute...they are much smaller than I imagined they would be! It can be hard to visualize something that's measured in mm's. Even with all of the seed beads I own and play with everyday, I still don't know what 5mm is going to look like until it's in my hands!

I can't wait to start playing with them...I am much more excited about them now than I was when I first heard about them! For some reason I assumed they would be similar to the Miyuki Tila beads, which I like, but I wouldn't want to see another version of them!

But here is a photo of these Twins with a US Penny for scale. Also included for scale are some Miyuki Round Seed Beads in sizes 11/0 and 8/0...

At this time of year I always start thinking about what I accomplished during the past year and what I might wish to attempt in the coming year...and I always prefer to think of these things as a challenge rather than a resolution! I work better with challenges than with some "set in stone" rule, which is how I think of the word Resolution!

And just in time, Jen of Van Beads has offered up a New Year's Challenge on Beading Daily...to bead 1 pair of earrings every day for the month of January! I am totally in for this one. And now I don't even have to come up with my first challenge of 2012...this one just fell in my lap!

This is a great challenge for seed bead artists, especially because seed bead projects always take an insane amount of time to complete. So making a pair of earrings is like instant gratification for a seed beader!

As a seed beader, I always get side tracked in the middle of a project to start something else that I can't get out of my head! And then I end up with a crazy amount of projects going at the same time...because nothing ever gets finished in less than a day or two and usually nothing gets finished in less than a week...and sometimes months!

So today I decided to practice for this challenge...I made a pair of earrings out of Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence: Medici Drops. These are so beautiful...and fairly easy to make if you can find the right tear drop beads for them!

I finally found some 7mm x 28mm Cubic Zirconia Tear Drops at Beadaholique...and they were on sale! But they are out of stock on every color except for Garnet Red (more of an Orangey Red like Hyacinth) and Jet Black. But if you're making these Medici Drop earrings you want something more outrageous than Black...sooo, I got the Garnet Red and paired them with Dark Bronze Seed Beads, Matte Metallic Bronze Seed Beads and Swarovski 3mm Bicones in Red Magma...

It's not the greatest photo...actually, it's a terrible photo! I apologize for that...most of my photos on this blog are kind of awful! But I took them with my iPhone...and now I have my camera back so I will finally start getting some better photos for this little diary of mine!

Anyways, I am still playing along with the Blog Hop being hosted by Marcia DeCoster and several other amazing Bead Artists! I am really hoping that I win something out of this! The beautiful beads and things being given away in this Blog Hop are amazing and I want them all...Haha! But I enjoy reading their blogs anyways, so I certainly will not be losing anything if I don't win!

But I have already missed out on winning the one item I wanted (so far) on Beadaholique's 12 Giveaways of Christmas...so hopefully I get lucky with the Blog Hop...or maybe something else will come up on the Christmas Giveaway that I could actually use!

The current gift looks awesome, it's all about bead embroidery and includes a signed copy of Sherry Serafini's Sensational Bead Embroidery (I have this, unsigned of course), 4 tubes of Toho 11/0's, 3 bobbins of Nymo (hate the stuff), a pack of Beadsmith Assorted Beading Needles (I prefer Pony's size 12) 2 sheets of Lacy's Stiff Stuff (I prefer Nicole's Beadbacking) and a sheet of Ultra Suede (this I could use)...

But I already own everything in the gift bag except for the Ultra Suede...so I may as well leave my name out of the hat and give someone else a little bit more of a chance to win it, right?

Well, it's 11:59  and my birthday is almost officially over...I guess now it's time to go play with those Twin Beads!

Happy Beading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Giveaways of Christmas!

So I know that no one reads my blog...I haven't really publicized the fact that I even have a blog. I started this as a Diary for myself...it's a great way to document my ideas and my love of seed beads and it gives me the opportunity to express some of the nonsense whirling around in my head!

There are limits to how much you can talk about beads with friends and family before their eyes glaze over and you know they just don't get it...

But in the off chance that someone out there is reading this, I thought you might want to know about this wonderful giveaway going on at The Beader's Blog published by Beadaholique! I only recently found their blog and so far they have had 2 beading contests and now this awesome giveaway!

Over the next few weeks they will be offering the 12 Giveaways of Christmas! All you have to do to win one of these is comment on the blog post! You can comment on each and every giveaway but you can only comment once per blog entry or you will be disqualified...and you can only win one of these giveaways!

And they are offering some wonderful items with substantial value! Today's blog entry is offering $100 worth of Czech Glass beads...that's a pretty awesome prize to win in exchange for a simple comment! Here is the photo from the actual Blog Post at The Beader's Blog:

And here is a list of the dates and names of all 12 giveaways:

Giveaway #1: Dec. 2nd - Everyone's got to start somewhere.....let us help! Ends Dec. 5th
Giveaway #2: Dec. 5th - Time to cast your thoughts towards the holidays. Ends Dec. 7th
Giveaway #3: Dec. 6th - Czech your list twice.......... Ends Dec. 8th
Giveaway #4: Dec. 7th - Ho ho ho, you're going to be fit to be tied..... Ends Dec. 9th
Giveaway #5: Dec. 8th - Holidays are the time to stick together....... Ends Dec. 12th
Giveaway #6: Dec. 9th - Nunn does it better....... Ends Dec. 12th
Giveaway #7: Dec. 12th - What a Lark! Keep a stiff upper lip and lace up tight! Ends Dec. 14th
Giveaway #8: Dec. 13th - Precious treasures, for colorful holidays. Ends Dec. 15th
Giveaway #9: Dec. 14th - Ice and snow are elements that frame the season....... Ends Dec. 16th
Giveaway #10: Dec. 15th - Our favorite Christmas vintage! Ends Dec. 19th
Giveaway #11: Dec. 16th - We've come far and we're worth it. Ends Dec. 19th
Giveaway #12: Dec. 19th - All the Elements come together for a dazzling finish! Ends Dec. 21st

So go ahead and comment on every one or try and figure out which one is the most appealing to you and wait for that one since you only get to win one of these!

That last one, All the Elements come together...that sounds like a nice big Swarovski giveaway...so if I don't win any of the other ones, I will most definitely be trying for that one!

And while we are on the topic of Blog giveaways...one of my most favorite Bead Artists, Marcia DeCoster of MadDesigns is joining 11 other Bead Artist Bloggers in a Blog Hop...now I can only imagine the beautiful beads you could win from these amazing artists! I will most definitely be trying to win some of these too!

Now I never win anything...so I just don't even enter these kinds of things. But I think it's time for my luck to change...So I am definitely going to commenting on Blogs all over the place in the next few weeks...my 39th birthday is coming up this month so maybe I will get lucky and win at least one of these!

Happy Beading and good luck with these Giveaways!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bead Looming & Delica Samplers

As I said before I am a seed beader...I researched and studied and practiced until I learned all of the off loom bead stitches and techniques that I could find. Then I bought one of those wooden sleigh style looms from FMG. It was only an $8 loom but I really just wanted to play around with it and see if it held my interest enough to invest money in a better loom.

Well, I did like the fact that you could add 30 beads at a time (or even 100 beads at a time) as opposed to 1 bead at a time like most off loom stitching! But at the end you are stuck with 30 or 100 warp threads on each end of your loom work! And you have to stitch all of these back into the beadwork! Major pain in the ass!

So I started looking around for more info about bead looming, and there's not much out there in terms of actual finishing techniques. There are plenty of books with beautiful loom work in them, and even patterns to loom the projects, but nothing with any real substance for learning the technical aspects of looming.

I did purchase Sharon Bateman's book, "Contemporary Bead Looming: A new look at a traditional stitch". This is actually a pretty good book. I won't go into a review of it here, but it is worth buying. It just doesn't have any new ideas for handling those warps...and that is what was keeping me from looming!

Then I joined a Facebook group called A Bead Looming Intervention (BLI) and have learned several different techniques from the members of the group and by taking "classes" within the group and then using these techniques in our class projects. We also share our ideas, suppliers, photos of our Works in Progress (WIP's) and just a bunch of random stuff about beads and bead looming.

Here are just a few of the cuffs I have made since joining the group:

Art Deco in Blue
Design by: Catrin Maier
Techniques: Warp Management by Erin Simonetti, Brick & Picot Stitch Edging
Materials: Miyuki Delica 11/0 and Miyuki Seed Beads in 11/0 & 15/0, One G Warp & Weft threads, Ribbon End Crimp, Sterling Silver Lobster Claw and Chain
August 2011

Copper Ripple Fringe
Design: Juanita Carlos at Jaycees Patterns, modified by me
Techniques: Reweave warps, 2 needle weaving, Brick Stitch Pattern Extensions and Fringe Pattern Extension
Materials: Miyuki Delica 11/0 Duracoat, Miyuki Mini Fringe Drops, Nymo D Warp, KO Weft, Ribbon End Crimp and Lobster Claw clasp, Chain
November 2011

Sorry about the quality of those photos...no light box or photo booth set up yet, and I just used my iPhone instead of my real camera!

Like I said, I am not that into FB, and I tend to be a solitary beader, but this group is a lot of fun...and it's not just a bunch of crazy old ladies either, we actually have 2 crazy guys in the group too!

Recently one of the ladies found an EBay store that is selling Delica Bead samplers. These are not the Miyuki color cards with the beads sewn down to the cards, in no particular order! You know, the ones that cost $10 to $20 each and you have to buy 20 of them to have all the colors! This is a set of 971 little 1"x 1" baggies with 10 beads in each...one baggie of each Delica color produced by Miyuki. And these kits are $32 including shipping. Here is one of the little baggies:

Of course the poor lady was not prepared for 18 of us to order them all at the same time...so it took her a week or so to put them all together and send them out to us, but she is very friendly and provides excellent service. And now even more people in the group are ordering them!

We all discussed how we were going to store these samplers. There's a lot to think about with this...we are talking about 971 packets of beads that you need to keep organized in some fashion if you want to them to be useful!

Some of them decided to print out the Color Sample Charts available at Silver Hill Design and stitch their beads onto these charts. Others decided to stitch them into little Peyote squares...971 Peyote squares!! With 10 beads each! That's a lot of thread changes!

And some of us decided to store them in 3 Ring Binders in some sort of pocketed page protectors. So I searched around and found some Coin Protector pages with 20 pockets on each sheet. These are PVC Free, Acid Free, Archival quality coin protectors...so I figured they should be good enough to protect little baggies of beads!

I purchased 2 sets of 20 pages on Amazon (free shipping is awesome). And I put them all in a 3 ring binder. The pockets are big enough to easily fit 2 baggies in each, with a little square of Card Stock separating them:

This way you can have 40 baggies per page and see them on each side of the page. However another lady found these same pages with 30 pockets per page, so that means you can have 60 samples per page! I wish I had found those before I bought mine! But I am still very happy with this storage system!

I arranged mine by color and then in numerical order per color group. I just used the ROYGBIV system plus Whites, Blacks, Browns and Metals (not metallic finishes but Metal colors like Silver, Gold, Bronze etc).

I don't know why that picture refuses to to turn itself to around so you can see it right side up! But I am not tech savvy enough to rotate it once it's posted here and my original settings did not stick!

This sampler has turned out to be such an awesome tool...having every single Delica color in my possession allows me to see what they look like in real life, how they change with different color thread and how they change depending on the bead next to them.

And it helps you decide if a color will work in a pattern you are designing or a project you are creating...and it is extremely helpful when shopping online! Those photos are never accurate representations of what those beads will really look like in person! Besides, not only is every monitor going to show the colors differently, every person sees color differently...

So if you work with Delicas on a regular basis, or if you are trying to sell patterns on Etsy using Pattern making software, you should really consider purchasing one of these sets! It is well worth the investment!

And another day I will share more about how useful these bead samples are...and maybe more about my thoughts on loom work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Well, it is Thanksgiving Day for us in the U.S.

This holiday just kind of snuck up on me...I didn't even know that Thanksgiving was this week, until this week! But my family is not all that traditional anyways, and due to the many extended family circles, we don't get together for our big family dinner until Saturday.

But it does seem that everyone else in my family has somewhere to be today, so my husband and I are just spending the day at home like any other day. I am beading (and playing on the computer) and he is playing his guitar and the occasional video game.

I guess the only real problem I am having with this holiday is that nothing is open, not even the Chinese Restaurants!! What's up with that? But also since money is kind of tight these days (not to mention grocery shopping is a major chore with my car being out of commission lately) we haven't even prepared a regular, non holiday dinner and we have very few options in the pantry!

But at least we can look forward to a wonderful meal prepared by my mom on Saturday...and there will be left overs that will last us at least 3 or 4 days!

It has been a really rough year for me both emotionally and financially, but I do still have many things to be thankful for. I have an awesome husband and a beautiful daughter and I have my parents; I have my brother, his wife and my niece; I have my sister, her husband and my nephews and all of their extended families. And with the exception of my 2 nephews, we all live in or around the same city...so even with all of our family issues and excentricities, we are still a close family and I love them all.

And I have my beads!

I am so thankful to have discovered the these little beauties. They have definitely saved me from a life of uselessness...and I know that sounds a little ridiculous, but it really is true.

I hate feeling useless...and non productive.

I have always worked in the service industry on many different levels, and most of the time whether your work is appreciated or not, it is a non productive industry. By "non productive" I mean that you produce nothing, and that can make you feel pretty damn useless when you spend most of your life working to support yourself and your family.

But there has been a deep, dark feeling of uselessness inside me for a while. Several years ago a culmination of events and major life changes sent me into this downward spiral. But in the simplest terms, it just boils down to not having anything important or meaningful to fill my time...outside of work, loved ones, friends, family. Having something of your own, that matters to you is very important to feeling fullfilled in life.

So when I discovered the world of beads...I felt like I had discovered myself again and felt like I had some sense of purpose and usefulness again! I could create beautiful and tangible things with these tiny glass beads.

And when I am working with my beads that darkness seems to fade away into the background. I feel useful and creative and productive. And it doesn't matter whether my beadwork is appreciated or needed by anyone else...it is appreciated and needed by me.

So I am very thankful for my beads. And for my husband who understands why I stay up all night working and playing with my beads!

So, Happy Thanksgiving! Knowing how dark this world can be, I hope that you can find some little light in your life to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Storage Solutions

I am a member of the Beading Daily forum and recently someone started a thread all about organizing your bead stash (this happens every couple of months because those threads get lost in the backlog pretty quickly!) So I took some photos of my work area and shared them with the ladies on BD. There were some excellent ideas and lots of photos were shared!

And now that I have my little online Diary, I decided to post some of my storage solutions here.

I work with seed beads and lots of other tiny 2mm and 3mm crystals and beads, so it's hard to imagine how quickly you can amass a huge stash of these tiny little beauties...but before you know it, you will be lost in piles of baggies and tubes and hanks and flip top boxes all full of beautiful beads!

So realizing that not only did I spend every penny that I found in the couch on buying beads, now I had to find the perfect storage solution for all of these beads...This habit comes with a lot of extra paraphernalia!

After a lot of trial and error, and with my obsessive/compulsive organizational issues, I decided that I wanted a system that stored all of my beads in the same type of containers...and I wanted to be able to see all of them. I didn't want them stored in little compartmented boxes stacked up in a closet somewhere.

I finally decided on those stack able storage jars that screw together...they seemed like a perfect fit for my needs. So I started picking them up every time I found them somewhere...which was a terrible idea!

Every company that makes them, uses a different thread measurement so if you mix and match the different brands, you will find yourself in a huge mess of bead soup...and I hate bead soup! They might feel like they are securely screwed together, until you knock one over! So I decided to start over and find a good supplier to buy these from...and to stick with it!

Here is what I found:
I get the 1.5" size (listed as 40mm x 100mm) from Shipwreck Beads. They have good bulk pricing on them in this size.
I get the 2" size at FMG who had better bulk pricing for this size...but I see their prices have gone up, just a little, but it makes a difference!
FMG also has a 7"x4" box that comes with 5 stacks of 5 jars in the tiny 1.25" size so I added a few of those to my order too...here is a photo of the 3 sizes that I use.

Lovely...maybe I should use a coaster, or clean my desk before I take pictures!

The 2" size holds around 40 grams of round seed beads, the 1.5" size holds around 15to 20 grams of Delicas and the tiny 1.25" size holds my crystals (they easily hold 250 3mm bicones) and jumprings and other tiny items. I stack these pretty high too, so I stand them all up in rectangular baskets that I get at Michael's. I have them organized by color too...a stack of reds, blues, bronze etc...

When I pull my beads for a project, I just take the jar out of the stack...then I screw together all the jars of beads for that project. They still have their labels on them so it's easy to put them all back when I am finished and easy to store my project when I am not working on it!

I find that I have tons of extra lids because of how high I stack these, so I always have an extra lid for my stacks of project beads! I also end up with extra bottom jars in the 2 smaller sizes...So I keep some of these around for silver scrap and all the little random beads I find on the floor, etc. And I sell a lot of the extras on eBay, as well as my empty bead tubes! Some people really like to use the individual gem jars, and this helps to re purpose these supplies while adding funds for my bead stash!

The boxes that came with the tiny 1.25" jars have become my carry along project kits...I lined them with bead mats and add my thread, needles (in a tiny bead tube) a stack of bead jars and my project and it's ready to go! The small size of this box fits in my purse or my messenger bag and it holds everything I need for a project.

My wonderful daughter recently moved into a new house that came with some nice old furniture that she didn't need. So she donated an awesome desk to my work space!

The desk has 4 long drawers under the main work surface as well as a little riser along the rear edge of the desk...this riser is perfect for storing my baskets of beads and has 4 smaller drawers under this. Then it also has a shelf under the desk that is perfect for some of my beading books, my Delica sampler binder, extra storage supplies, project trays, etc...

Here is another shot of the desk...it's hard to get a good photo with the lighting in here. I have no overhead lighting in my house (it was built in 1880) so I use a lot of lamps and of course my Ott light!

Now I need to get back to work on my Secret Santa for our Beading Daily swap!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Obsession Begins

I have never written a blog before and since this is my first post ever, it's really more of a test than anything...I just want see what my new blog looks like! I'm really not sure of the template design but I can always work on that later!

But no one else is out there reading this yet anyways...so, I guess I will just start with a simple introduction:

No one tells you how bad this obsession will get when you pick up your first tube of seed beads! No one tells you that you will soon own every shape, size and color that you can get your hands on...and that you will never sleep again because you cannot put them down!

It all started one winter when I was helping out with my 8 year old niece while she was on her winter break from school and I took her shopping for Christmas presents for her parents (my brother & his wife).

While in a department store, she desperately wanted to buy this little set of stretchy bracelets made of sparkly blue faceted glass beads and I just knew it was one of those impulsive, gotta have it cause it's so sparkly, kind of moments for her. But it was $20 for 3 (cheaply made) bracelets for an 8 year old...and I was not spending $20 on something that she would lose or break within the day!

So I promised that I would go buy some beads and the next time she was spending the day with me, we would make some bracelets for all of her friends. This seemed to catch her attention! So I dropped her off with my brother a few hours later and I went to Michael's craft store figuring I would just find some fun sparkly (cheap) beads that would be perfect for her.

And I did...but I also got a little carried away with all these hanks of colorful embellishment beads too! Of course these ended up being cheap, uneven seed beads, but they worked perfectly for my niece. And I spent much more than $20...however we ended up making over 40 bracelets for all of her friends and everyone in the family, and she loved it!

But when I first got home that night I figured I should at least do some research and find out the best methods for making these little stretchy bracelets so that they didn't just fall apart in a day. This "research" quickly turned into an all night google session that turned up some amazing results about bead work!

And this was the beginning of the end for me. I found Beadwork on about.com and within the first few days on that site, I had ordered another $200 worth of seed beads from Shipwreck Beads, Thunderbird Supply and from several eBay and Etsy stores.

Luckily Jen, the guide at Beadwork on About.com at the time, had written some wonderful articles about the different qualities of seed beads. So I knew I was looking for Miyuki or Toho Japanese round seed beads and Miyuki Delica cylinder beads as well as Czech Fire Polish rounds and Pressed Glass beads. Oh, and of course Swarovski Crystals and Crystal Pearls.

And I found them everywhere...then before I knew it I had a notebook with my own directory of all the online stores I found...I listed their shipping policies, their prices per gram or per strand, their variety of selection...and then I started shopping! and of course I haven't stopped shopping!

My mom came over after she saw the bracelets that we had made for everyone...see my mom used to be a seed beader, but I had been long out of the house when she started beading so I never really took an interest in it. But when she saw that I was getting into beading, she just had to see it for herself! Now that I look back on this, I know what she knew then...that this would become an all out obsession! But she didn't bother to share that with me then! She was just so excited to see what I was up to!

She had always taught me and my brothers arts and crafts...actually, she taught us everything that she could when we were little. She was a stay at home mom and spent all of her time and energy on me and my brothers. We could read long before we ever went to school...and I mean years before we went to school!

My mom taught me how to cook, sew, crochet, embroider and quilt...I was making dresses for myself out of pillowcases (with her sewing machine) when I was 7 or 8 years old. So she just had to see how far I had gone into this beading obsession.

And to my surprise she brought me a Tupperware shoebox full of seed beads...all kinds of seed beads...Silver Lined Czech seeds, tubes of Delicas, Japanese Bugle beads and round seeds. She hasn't been able to work with seed beads as much any more because of her eyesight, but she still does beautiful stringing work and she makes some of the most beautiful earrings! Everyone we know has at least one pair of her earrings!

So needless to say, the first real bead work project that I was able to create, was for my mom. I made her a beautiful 2 drop Peyote stitch necklace from a pattern by Rebecca Peeples "Mimic Fine Needlework with Peyote Stitch" that was published in Bead & Button Magazine. And I made one for her best friend too...she is like an Aunt to me and is my mom's seed bead buddy, they took all of their classes together and beaded together for years!

Now I make things for both of them all the time. And they love it so much that they are always trying to give me "seed" money, because I refuse to charge them for my work as they are the ones who inspired me to learn as much as I could! But that term "seed money" sure takes on a whole new meaning for me now!

Well, this "short" little introduction should set the tone for how much I like to ramble on about beads...or anything else for that matter...but I have my Mom, my Aunt and my Niece to thank for this wonderful obsession of mine!

Next time I will try to post some photos of my bead storage solutions, cause we all know that is a major necessity when it comes to seed beads!