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Monday, November 10, 2014

PDF or Not?

     I've been seeing a trend in the online stores lately. In addition to the physical item there is also the option of purchasing  the electronic or video files for the step-by-step instructions so you can make the product yourself.

     My daughter-in-law is a member of a site for educators that is built on this premise. You create digital files of lesson plans or other classroom activities and make them available to other members of the site for a fee. It's called Teachers Pay Teacher and it's and enormously popular site.

     I wanted to make an apron with a retro feel for a friend as a holiday gift. I went online and found that hundreds of patterns are available to purchase. Most of them are original patterns from Butterick or McCalls etc...
     These are usually reasonably priced and a great way to find a pattern that is no longer made by the company.

     This made me curious - and I started doing searches for patterns or instructions for other items. I found patterns for a purse that I wanted to try that I couldn't find a commercial pattern for anywhere!

     This one was a free download - and from this pattern I was able to make this:

So, I continue thinking and decided that I like the idea of making step-by-step instructions for some of my most popular items and at the same time continuing to sell the physical item for people who aren't inclined to try a DIY project. This could open up an entire new market and help me combat the loss of sales on Etsy to the Chinese ready made companies that have flooded the site.

What do you think? Is this going to cost me sales? Am I going to start seeing my currently unique items flood the market? Do people really want to make everything themselves?

Much to think about before I step into the void...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bow Ties ~ Charming, Sexy, Cool, Nerd Chic, Fun, In Style!

Bow ties have made a wonderful comeback! I'm so excited about this - I love a man in a bow tie.
I don't care what kind of bow tie - there's a bow tie for every man and every occasion - they are the classic, timeless men's accessory!

When someone says bow tie, this is the image that immediately comes to mind... the ultimate sexy, cool, spy guy - Sean Connery. But then almost as fast I get several other images as well....

Bill Nye!! Of course... I've never seen him without his signature bow ties - he's won awards for his ties! Nerd Chic! Love this look!

My niece just got married - this is what the groomsmen all wore - completely adorable, sexy, fun. Men in fuchsia ties! It's a striking look with the black tux - so sharp, but still fun.

Bow ties, everyone can wear one.... seriously - Good Guys, Bad Guys..... equally awesome look!

Colorful guys look great - gotta love the pocket square accessory!

Really, really smart guys can totally rock a bow tie! Even if they're having a bad hair day.....

Funny guys look great in bow ties!

I can't think of any occasions when a bow tie won't rock the house. So, if you have a guy and bow ties aren't a go to accessory in his wardrobe - you now know the perfect Christmas gift don't you????

And - you're in luck - I happen to be making the most amazing bow ties!!

So, head over to my website - and have a look. It doesn't matter what style your guy is - a bow tie will make it better!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eyeglass Chains - Add Some Fun!

Like millions of other people I wear glasses. I can see far away, but I'm blind as a bat up close. So, I wear reading glasses. The frustrating part is that I put them down... I forget where I put them or I leave them in the car, at work, at my sisters GAK!! Then I need them, can't find them, buy another pair and the cycle starts all over.

I must have at least a dozen pair of readers.

I looked at eyeglass chains...
Practical, sure -- but U-G-L-Y!

And.... what the heck is this little rubber thingy on the end???


So, I set out to make something that I would actually wear.... something colorful, something whimsical, something FUN!!

The more I made - the more they made me smile..... such fun! Now I always know where my glasses are and this definitely doesn't look like something my great grandmother would have worn! I even figured out a way to make those little rubber ends more fun!! Now I need to do a post on how to make them!

You can see more of these on my Etsy site:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summertime Earrings

Summer sun, summer flowers, summer bright colors... what to make when its hot, the kids are home, you're trying to plan vacation and a million other things are going on?


I love to make earrings... fast - easy - done! You can use all those  bits and pieces left over from other projects or things you bought that didn't quite work out in the bracelet or necklace you planned.
These are literally leftovers!! They are the cut away pieces from MyElements shapes made by Yvonne Irvin!
Sunny, bright, fun ~ these are the last two beads from a set I bought ages ago. Perfect for the shore!

Earrings are the perfect accessory when you don't want a lot of heavy stuff or too much hanging or bangling on your body. So hit that workbench and toss out a few pair and then get yourself to the beach!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Serving Up 2014 Bead Soup

 How I Got From This.....

                                                                        ........... To This

I have to start by saying that I struggled mightily with this years soup! I love the beads that my partner Johana Nunez sent to me. She does amazing enameled beads. I've always wanted to work with them so I was really excited when I opened her package and found a treasure of them! As I began to play with the beads, I had a definite vision for what I wanted to end up with, I'm just not sure that I accomplished exactly what I wanted.

I wanted to use ribbon, I wanted to have multiple strands, I wanted to have dark chain.... no ~ I've never managed to do any of these things before... but I'm supposed to be thinking outside the box, right?

Sigh.... I know, it was just too much change for my tiny brain!

This is the first piece I completed. I know, I don't see any beautiful enameled beads either... and... yes, this piece looks suspiciously like my standard style. 

I like it, I love the beads, I also love the colors but there aren't any of the things I promised myself I would learn how to use.

So, I kept pondering and sketching and thinking and trying to combine all these amazing beads in to an incredible piece that would be the envy of the world!

Then came the little bird bracelet.


               I love working with colored wire and I really love the little bird clasp. This piece felt like a combination of Yvonne Irwin and Kerry Bogert - I'm a huge fan of both of them so that part was good.


             It wasn't quite what I was hoping to come up with.


Back to the drawing board.


I'm starting to feel a little bit better about where I'm getting to... I like the short piece of circle chain - and its dark (bonus!). Cording - like that too, not ribbon but I think it works with this piece. I like that I managed to use a lot of Johana's beads! I'm also feeling pretty good about the fact that its asymmetrical!

Everything you see here came from Johana.

Ooohh!! I love all the pieces that came together in this one. I like the whimsical feeling of the little butterfly hoovering near the flowers. 

Simple - colorful - fun!

So, I never did get the ribbon worked out - but there's always next time. I'll keep trying new things but I have the feeling that I'm going to stick to my creative roots too!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Soup - Stage 2

Yea! I love Bead Soup!

I'm always so nervous about getting my soup - you wish for a partner that will send you something inspirational, something different, something awesome! I hit the jackpot with my partner this year!

I hope that everyone is getting connected with partners like mine! I've been smiling all evening! I got home from work today and there was a lovely package from my partner Johana Nunez!

I was so excited! Bead Soup is like Christmas - you never know what you're going to get, the suspense of opening the package is enormous!

Johana's package kept getting better! I opened the box to find all these delightfully wrapped little tissue parcels and decorated boxes. It makes you want to sing Pharrell Williams song - 'Happy', doesn't it?? They were almost too pretty to open.... almost!


The packages were loaded with beautiful enameled beads and some lampworks and fillers - My eyes were so FULL!! I love the colors - purple is very, very close to the top of the list of my all time favorite colors! I love the feisty little red butterfly and the bead caps that look like flowers. The focal is simply amazing, painted with tiny trees. Her work is just so lovely!

But truly, I was so completely excited when I saw the little bird....

Is that adorable!???! I loves me some birds! And this one is just so cute with his chubby yellow tummy and daring purple wing!  I'm already jealous of whoever gets Johana at the next Bead Soup!

I've never worked with the enameled beads before, but now that I have them I think they might be my new favorite beads! Even though they are pretty substantial, they're so lightweight and they have this whimsical sort of feeling to them. I'm going to simply hoard them for awhile, while I percolate about what to do with this amazing soup I received.

While you're waiting to see what Johana's beads inspire me to do, please take the time to check out her Etsy site - but don't be selfish and buy them all -- I'm definitely gonna need more of these!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Soup - Stage 1

And so it begins!

I got my Bead Soup partner - I couldn't be more excited! I'm paired up with Johana Nunez. She's from Aibonito, Puerto Rico. It's exciting to be paired with someone who's from a place so far from where I live, it's one of my favorite things about Bead Soup, the world shrinks! It's great to make new friends and learn about other artists passions.

Johana works with enamels - she's a student of Barbra Lewis so you know her work is amazing!

This is one of the pieces from her Etsy site. There are some great little birds that I just loved. She also does lots of enameled beads in really bright colors.

I took a workshop in enameling with Jean van Brederode so I have an understanding of the process, but I definitely don't have the skills for making my own pieces.

Its another great thing about Bead Soup - getting the chance to work with something you've never tried but would love to know more about.

The next step is to send Johana some soup to work with. I use a lot of lampwork, very bright intense colors and unusual bits-n-pieces. One of my favorite resources for supplies is MyElements - Yvonne always has the most smile-inducing stuff!

I've been scrounging through my piles of stuff trying to decide what to send. It's a bit of a process - I want to send something inspiring, colorful, different and out-of-the-ordinary. I also want to send things from my favorite artists and craftspeople. Finally got it together and packaged up so that as soon as I was partnered I was able to drop it in the mail.

It looks like this....

Ha! You didn't actually think I was going to let you see it before Johana did you??? It went in the mail this morning and as soon as she's had the first look, I'll put the picture in focus for the rest of you!

I hope everyone else is having half as much fun as I am with this whole process -- Thanks to the intrepid Lori Anderson for making this all happen!!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Gathering Ingredients for a Soup

For once in my life I'm not behind schedule!! High five ME!!

I have once again joined the ranks of the creative crazies for Lori Anderson's Bead Soup event. This is my third soup and every year it gets to be more interesting.

For those of you living in a cave out-of-touch - the Bead Soup Blog Party is an event that Lori sponsors every year. Hundreds of crazy jewelry artists are paired up, exchange sets of beads and make whatever they are inspired to make.  You can see my soup from last year here: Bead Soup 7

Usually I'm one of the people who doesn't manage to get the bead soup in the mail until very close to the deadline. It's hard for me to decide which beads to send. This year, I looked in the stash and the beads practically put themselves in the shipping box!

So, to keep myself from changing my mind before Lori emails the names, I packed the whole pile up and they are snug in a box and ready to roll!

Now, I just have to hope that whoever I'm partnered with will send something that inspires me just as quickly to complete my project!

I'll be posting pictures of what I sent and what I receive as we move along so keep an eye out for more bead soup news!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Little Creativity Change-UP

     Sometimes even though I feel the need to create something.... I sit down at the bench and
 N-O-T-H-I-N-G occurs to me. I don't see a bead, or a color, or a shape or a toggle that starts the bubble of creativeness rising up. Just the gray fluffiness of nothing... *sigh*

     Very frustrating.

     This usually happens to me in the winter. This year has been especially bad - we've had mountains of snow. It seems endless and since I'm one of those people that is driven by color it's hard to get inspired when everything is freaking white.


Time for a change - when this happens to me I head to the fabric store. I love to sew and I love fabric - the patterns, the colors, the textures - so many choices! Even if I didn't sew, I would still go to fabric stores - it's a world of eye candy,  there are color combinations you will have never thought of and so much ....

     Sometimes just the colors are enough, fabric designers must be the most creative people on the planet. 

What a fun job it must be to just sit down and play with color and shapes and textures all day.

 I love the creative freedom of fabric.

I love the way fabric makes me see things differently.

That can be just the little push your creativity needs to go in a new direction.

Crazy FUN!!

Other times I'll see something made by someone else....

.... and that will inspire me to do something completely different - something I haven't tried...

Lately, I've been making these crazy fun tote bags - I love the color combinations, the surprise of different lining fabric, but such a practical item! Who doesn't need a tote bag filled with pockets?

So, as soon as the roads are clear.... Get in your car.....

Inspiration awaits.....

What inspires you?
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