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Archive for February, 2010

WOW!

What a great Superstars sale Thursday night! It was so nice to have working graphic design software. Everything sold out by 8:03, which is pretty rare. I think I like the 30 minute sale preview. Isn’t it great to be able to read everything and have time to talk yourselves into buying them? Ha! One of the reasons I haven’t considered the preview until now is because I’m usually still working on putting everything together right up until 8pm. With the last couple of batches of Superstars (and the ones coming up next week), I took all the photos and edited them weeks ago, so all I had to do was write up some descriptions, measure the beads and plug everything into my nifty little template.  So really, I can’t promise a preview EVERY time, but I’ll surely make a concentrated effort for all of my future sales.

Superstars sneak peek - look for us next week!

Spring is getting closer, at long last. Yesterday morning, I woke up to dozens of birds chirping outside my window. Just a few weeks ago, they were nowhere to be heard. The weather guys haven’t even mentioned snow for a while, besides last Friday, when there was some sort of vague slush that we were told we needn’t worry about. Starting Monday, the daily high temps gradually increase until next Saturday: a high of 60 degrees. Open the windows and let the fresh spring air in! When I buy a house, an attic fan will be installed right away.

All those twittery birds yesterday inspired me to get out and run some errands. Big Mistake. Saturday afternoons and errands are a bad combination for a night owl like me. When you’re used to being about the only person driving on the street or in a store, those masses of people are overwhelming. The mall traffic was backed up 11 blocks. I had to park in the overflow lot, and while I didn’t mind the exercise, I had to wonder if the economy is really THAT bad if you can’t even find a place to park at the mall. Just about everyone coming out of the mall was carrying at least one shopping bag. I saw some guy that reminded me of Garth (from Wayne’s World) taking photos of the traffic with his camera phone, probably preparing to make a similar point on his own bloggity-blog. But I really wanted to try a perfume I used to wear: Christian Dior’s Dune. It’s weird how smells and perfumes bring back memories. I wore Dune when I was 14 or 15 and always got compliments on it. I didn’t think it was too bad when I tried it yesterday, but Mr. Sarah wasn’t crazy about it, so it’s off the table. I guess I’m considerate that way. It’s a bit powdery and sweet, not in an obnoxious way, but I avoid powdery/sweet because those are the elements that stand out when I wear a perfume. That’s why I like perfume oils  – the fragrances are so simple, and I don’t have to worry about a disagreeable facet of scent showing up 3 hours later.

Then, I went to Petsmart. I didn’t feel like going to Walmart for algae pellets for Mr. Brown (our algae eater). I passed by a little cubicle full of kittens, where a sexy little black one blinked at me seductively, and a light and tawny stripey one was sleeping and looking very cute indeed. No! NO MORE CATS. Not until these old ones are gone, anyway. But I’ll probably be so heartbroken when Mo and Fred go that I won’t want any more after that. Then again, I can’t imagine not having a cat.

I should mention again that my site may be down for a little while tonight while we transfer to my new webhost.

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You know those few moments of clarity that happen somewhere between being awake and asleep? Like when you’re dropping off to sleep and suddenly realize that you’re being a little too needy lately, or as you’re waking up in the morning, you realize someone boldly, unapologetically lied to your face yesterday?

Today, as I was waking up and starting my day, much like other days, the first thing I did was read Kate McKinnon’s Journal. Kate’s positivity, raw honesty and perseverance of life and her craft/art/medium, whatever you prefer to call it, have been some of my bright spots for several years now. In one of yesterday’s entries, she says:

It’s so beautiful outside that I have to be careful not to be overwhelmed with some sort of Spring Fever. I want to dive into the garden in a frenzy, take a hike, fall in love, eat a cupcake, and dance in a ball gown, all at once. With sparkles.

In today’s moment of waking clarity, as I read her words, I realized just what a cynic I am. I didn’t say to myself “gawd, what a frou-frou” like most dyed-in-the-wool cynics might say, but rather, “why can’t I feel that way about life?” I feel too exposed when I go outside, I’d never wear a ball gown, and I’d be too guarded to fall in love ever again. (The sparkles sound good, though.) Granted, it isn’t 70 degrees here. Perhaps I’d feel differently if it were. If I could open the windows and hear the birds and see the cats’ tails twitching at the windowsills, yes, I might feel differently, indeed.  Meanwhile, back at the end of February, not in balmy Arizona… the other night, for MY blog, I wrote a long, 3 paragraph diatribe about how irritated I am by the Olympics, but ultimately opted not to post such unbridled blasphemy about one of the world’s most favorite things. And since I’ve been particularly cynical/negative/realistic lately, (most optimists find those descriptors to be interchangeable) I figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep those thoughts to myself.

Yesterday, I took a quick trip to the mall to try a perfume that smelled so fantastic on someone that I actually stopped her and asked what it was. (turns out it was Calvin Klein Euphoria, and it’s definitely a keeper – that says a lot, since I’m incredibly picky about perfume. I’m saving my pennies for it). On my way out of the mall, I stopped by Bath & Body Works just to see what they had in the way of lotions and EDT sprays, since The Body Shop has discontinued almost their entire line of EDT and perfume oils. Which is really silly, since The Body Shop’s were some of the best, and about the only EDT’s and oils I could wear. People would stop ME and ask me what I was wearing, and generally, it was a combination of Patchouli and Spirit of Moonflower, or Patchouli and Lemon Tea, or Woody Sandalwood and Spirit of Moonflower – all from The Body Shop. Anyway, at Bath and Body Works, the lady asked me if she could help with anything, and went on to tell me about their special on candles. “Do you like candles?” she asked. I looked her right in the face and replied “Hate ’em. They cause fires.” I guess I was so direct and deadpan that she did a double take, and so did the guy standing a few feet from her. I wasn’t rude, I never am, but she DID ask, and I’m not going to lie and say that I Love candles when I don’t. Once she composed herself, her reply was “aww, that’s sad.” Seriously, though. How many times have you turned on the news and saw a story about a horrible housefire caused by candles? THAT is what’s SAD. Best case scenario, the wax ends up everywhere and they reek when you blow them out. No thanks.

So why am I such a cynic? I’ve always been that way, even as a kid, but I’m far worse in recent years. I don’t really have a good excuse for it, I’ve had an easy life. Nothing traumatic has happened to me. Nobody I loved ever wronged me too terribly, including my parents. The worst complaint I could possibly have about growing up is the fact that I was constantly grounded during high school. I probably needed it, because I could not have cared less about school and maybe mom’s reasoning was that if were at home more, I’d be bored enough to do my homework. Mom and Dad divorced when I was about 2 or 3, and I was definitely upset about it for a while, but it didn’t scar me for life or anything. My step-dad and I didn’t get along when I was young, and I didn’t realize why until Grandma Wood (mom’s mom) pointed out to me that I might have had a hard time adjusting to him because he was just so different from my dad. (Dad mumbles gently and Bruce is loud and emphatic.) So I can’t exactly understand why I have such a hard time trusting anyone, besides basic common sense. The closer they get, the more ensconced in my life they want to become, the less I trust them and their motivations until they’ve proven themselves innocent. Not worthy, but innocent. Working at home and doing business by email and web sales is perfect for someone like me, but then again, I have to wonder if I’m more this way because I’m not around people as often, and simply have a lower tolerance for humanity’s BS?

So, right after I read Kate’s journal, I checked Sarah Hornik’s blog, The Glass Slipper, for the first time in a couple of weeks. I really should read it more often, because whenever I read Sarah’s blog, I always feel perfectly okay to be me – my cynical, negative, unapproachable self. Not that she’s cynical, negative or unapproachable, per se, but I could certainly imagine her not lying to that clerk at Bath & Body Works, either. Sarah Hornik possesses a different kind of raw honesty that I admire: a straightforward “I REFUSE to read a Harry Potter book or see the movie Avatar” that leaves me wanting for nothing but brutal honesty and abrasive sarcasm, and feeling the courage to go ahead and meticulously outline my own refusal to get sucked into the hype machine. (And, yes, to release my tirade about how much I can’t STAND the Olympics. Let’s be honest now. I’m not just irritated by the Olympics. I absolutely cannot STAND them.) I feel like I have a few things in common with Sarah – people get an eyeful of our bright, happy and colorful beads and an earful of melancholy nitpicking about life and stuff we don’t like. That contradiction confounds some people to the point of scaring them away permanently. Again, I’m not saying Sarah H is a pisser or a moaner, in fact, I’m not sure how she’d feel if she read this, but hey, I’m just being me: honest to the point of tacky. I’ve got nothing but love for Sarah Hornik.

Look. I love beads, obviously. I love animals. I love good art, Andy Griffith, and stuff that doesn’t suck. And Kate McKinnon and Sarah Hornik, evidently. I really do LIKE and LOVE a lot of things. I do care about people, but prefer to do so from a distance so that they can’t get close enough to tromp all over my life. People DO that, and with wreckless abandon, and if you stand up to them, you’re a jerk. I’d rather just forget the whole thing and be happy. For reasons I don’t understand, I tend to be a more emphatic and opinionated about the stuff I don’t like. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, or understand me, or even like me, but at some point, I would like to find some agreement, liking or understanding within my own self.

Spiritual Dudes, grant me the maturity to cheerfully accept the stuff that sucks, the ability to better appreciate the stuff that doesn't suck, and the werewithal to make it out of here without going completely insane first.

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Annoying day + Etsy.

Today was the day it became crystal clear that my mailing list has outgrown my refusal to use mailing list management services or software. I’ve been saving my mailing list in an MS Word document, split into 9 groups of 50-60 emails. That’s over 500 email addresses, and it’s always worked fine. Today, however, the last 3 or 4 emails wouldn’t send right away – my email program gave me an error message that said something like “you’ve exceeded your limit for today”. I did manage to get them all sent out, but only if I waited about an hour in between sending each of the last 4 that remained. That’s never happened before, so the Yahoo/SBC/AT&T glom must be making some new rules about spam. Which is cool, I hate spammers as much as anyone. Problem is, I don’t trust any of these mailing list service guys with your email addresses, and I’m not particularly jazzed about paying $20-$30 per month to send email. However, the timing wasn’t so terribly bad. I’m about to switch to a different web host (and btw, this could cause my site to be down for a while this weekend while I make the switch) and if I’m not mistaken, this new web host offers some sort of mailing list software. Mr. Sarah tells me you may have to confirm your subscription once it’s set up – I just don’t know yet. We’ll have to see. I’ll keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, I will be able to send Thursday’s notifications, but only if I wait a while between sending each one. Looks like I’ll be starting to work extra early on Thursday.

Anyway, what with all of that and the other stuff I did today, I neglected to update my blog with my new Etsy listings. The two items I listed today are already sold, but I think this post would be bare without the little thumbnails. So, here they are:

cherry melon hana seascape - click me

uncle judy - click me

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Metal clay

I know very little about metal clay, and have no intention of ever picking it up – clay and I don’t get along – but what little I do know, I’ve learned from Kate McKinnon. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you are thinking about working with metal clay, or already do, PLEASE watch this short, informative video about metal clay safety by Kate herself. She outlines a small handful of incredibly simple, hassle-free things you can do to make your shop and metal clay experience a much safer one. If what she’s saying makes so much sense to someone who doesn’t work with metal clay (me), I can imagine what a difference this info could make for those who do.

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SHE’S BACK!

Remember the “famous” Alicia Abla/Z-Beads Collab a couple of years ago? Or maybe it was 3? All I can remember is that it was a lot of fun, and I got some excellent Alicia stuff out of the deal. She’s been gone way too long.

some of my faves from the aka/z-beads collab a few years ago - photo by Alicia Abla

Now, I’m pleased to announce that ALICIA ABLA is back! Many of you know she’s one of my favorite lampwork/silver artists, and after how many years (?) and two babies, and she has work for sale on Etsy and Ebay. (This is all her glasswork, the collab between the two of us has long since passed). Please do have a look. Let’s do whatever we can to encourage her to keep at it – the bead world hasn’t been as interesting without her!

Click the photo below to view her eBay auctions:

Alicia's eBay Auctions - click here!

Click the photo below to view her Etsy listings:

Alicia's ETSY listings - click here!

If you’re interested in staying in touch with Alicia, be sure to sign up for her mailing list at www.aliciaabla.com

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Etsy!

Wow, I managed to make it, and a little early to boot!

CLICK HERE to visit my shop, or click on each thumbnail below to get to the individual listings.

Metallic Raindrops - click me!

Sunny Sky Hana Seascape - click me!

Orange Lamé Disco - click me!

You know what bugs? You can’t use special characters in your titles on Etsy. You can in the descriptions, so why not in the title? And that being the case, it looks like I’m calling my Orange Lamé Disco beads “lame”.

Lame, indeed. Kind of like updating my blog three times in one day to make up for the whining and lack of updates over the last few weeks.

Thanks for stopping in!

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The Bebeaded Story

Bebeadeds!

In about 2001, I started messing around with beaded beads – seed beads stitched onto round wooden beads (which I call Bebeadeds, because, you know, I have to have a “clever” name for everything I make.)  I got the idea from a necklace in one of Sybille Jargstorf’s Bohemian Glass books. It was made of 5 or so differently colored beaded beads. I loved how large and delightfully bumpy they were. I figured wooden beads would be best, so I was lucky enough to easily find them at Hobby Lobby. I couldn’t quite tell how they were made, so I got out my Creative Bead Weaving and contemplated my options. My first Bebeadeds were made with spiral brick stitch. I’d start at one hole and work toward the other, and while the results were pretty neat, it was frustrating because I had to put them on a 1/8 mandrel and keep the weave anchored onto the wooden core by rubber bands until I got over the middle hump.

spiral brickstitch bebeadeds: 2001 - 2002

Next was peyote stitch. If I remember correctly, I totally skipped the regular and went straight for circular flat peyote, since I’d already been making little snowflake looking things with that method. Some worked and others didn’t – the one made with Delicas was particularly bad. As you can see, the increase was a little awkward and too loose, and the weave slides around on the wooden base bead. Hey, it wasn’t a bad idea and at least I tried, right?

flat circular peyote - 2002

Once I started selling my lampwork, I had much less time on my hands for seed beading. In one of my first ebay auctions in 2002, I sold a set that included a few beaded beads in an pastel Easter theme, but that was it for a long while. Besides the occasional need for spacers for jewelry, the seed beads remained virtually untouched for several years. Fast forward to 2008. I was looking through my green vintage tackle box for something and found my beaded beads from so many years ago. I’d see them every time I looked in my tackle box, but for whatever reason, they never inspired me the way they did this time. I thought I’d give them another try with some new brain cells. I wanted them to be well made and for the weave to be tight. So I looked online for other beaded beads, and immediately identified most of them as being made with regular old peyote stitch. So I got out Creative Bead Weaving once again and went at it – no tutorials or projects, just basic instructions for peyote stitch.

It took me a little while to figure out how and when to decrease, and had to re-learn the difference between Czech and Japanese seed beads. However, I quickly figured out that it was better to start in the middle and work towards either end, which revealed a much more sensible way to work, and offered better options for brick stitch, as well. (See? I musta sprouted some new brain cells in the last several years.) But the real kicker was the math, and I stubbornly resisted until I just couldn’t any longer. I HAD to figure out how many beads could fit on a certain sized wooden bead – an even number divisible by two, and that number had to be further divisible by four and still leave a whole number. Each wooden bead in conjunction with each seed bead yielded a different combination, due to slight size differences between the 3 brands: Miyuki, Toho and Matsuno. And the Japanese beads are a bit harder to work with in this instance, because they truly are much more uniform in size than Czech seed beads are. In other words, creating the right length for the base strand while considering the number of beads is much more easily done with a combination of skinny and fat Czech seed beads. Unfortunately, the Czechs don’t produce the incredible variety of color, linings and finishes that the Japanese do.

Anyway, I think the whole family thought I was crazy to be spending so much time and effort on seed beads when the lampwork was so much more interesting and lucrative. I dunno. I think I just needed a challenge, and it was a lot of fun. This was my first set – what I considered at the time to be my first successful Bebeaded (the round one) and the one with seed beads square stitched onto the lampwork.

bebeaded cherry-berry: July 2008

And combined with some of my !BLING! beads:

Harvest Lemon Bebeadeds + !BLING! - September 2008

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Bloggity blog..

This is one of those times I kinda wish I never signed up for this blog thing. I’ve been too quiet for the last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’ve been fairly productive with the boro. It took me a few days to get back into it – just like anything I haven’t done for at least 6 months – but it’s nice to just mess with round stuff for a while. I’ve also been taking color notes, which is something I never really did much of. I figured it might be smart, since I’ll have forgotten everything by the time I get around to making boro beads again. I’ve been fighting off a head cold for the last week, and that hasn’t exactly been helping my mood. I’ve felt perfectly fine besides the incessant snot. I’ve been drinking lots of water (more than usual, which is generally more than most people), taking Emergen-C and Airborne and getting plenty of sleep. I thought I had won on Saturday and Sunday, but on Monday, I suddenly couldn’t breathe through my nose at all. I made a total of 4 beads that day, but made up for it yesterday by making 16 beads.

I fully planned on having a Superstars sale last week, then this week, but my new CS4 (which has Photoshop and Dreamweaver) hasn’t come in yet, and my free trial has long since expired. Once we get that licked, I’m going to be selling like a fiend. And posting more photos here. That’s what sucks about not having Photoshop on my machine – I either must do without, or use Mr Sarah’s computer, which I’d like to avoid if at all possible. Sitting at someone else’s desk is weird. I did that all morning, and it wasn’t all bad to go back to Photoshop CS2 – in some ways, I prefer it to the CS4 version. Too bad Go Live simply doesn’t work with Windows 7.

Anyway, check me out later today – I’ve been working on a few things for Etsy since I can’t do any website (superstars) stuff.

Sunny Sky Hana Seascape - look for us later on etsy!

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That last post…

… was me, freaking out. Not too bad, eh? Thanks for letting me vent and whine a little about this enormous change in my life, and for not being TOO judgmental, and thanks for the encouraging words and private notes. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this way, but at least I’m not a wicked step-mother either. Not according to the kid, and hers is the only opinion that counts, as far as I’m concerned. In case I’ve somehow put the idea across that she’s awful, it isn’t so. Let me clarify: she’s a gem. Kids in general drive me completely batty, I made many references to that in my previous post, but she’s actually one of the least annoying kids I’ve ever been around, and it’s been great watching her grow up into such a smart, beautiful young lady. It’s just the situation and my own lack of parental self-confidence that’s getting to me. Hell, at least I CARE enough to fret about it – and I refuse to withdraw from what’s going on in my own house to selfishly save myself from the hassle.

To be completely raw and honest, what’s worrying me the most is that I don’t want to send her back to her mom in worse shape than she was when we got her, with piles of bad grades and a worse attitude, just because we’re clueless about all of this stuff. This is uncharted territory for us, and kids are so impressionable. Every summer for the last 11 years, we’d send her back home on an airplane after having a fun lazy month with no real rules or routine. It just can’t be summer fun at our house any more, but that’s all any of us ever knew until just a few weeks ago… and the last thing I want to do is undermine her mother’s rules and influence, especially during the school year. Having no experience as full time parents, and suddenly (yes, suddenly) having to be responsible for school stuff, routine, etc., has been a huge adjustment. Not just for me, but for everyone.  Her mom has done such an exceptional job with all of that, so many miles away for so many years – she’s made sure she’s taken care of, and has raised a polite, respectful, productive human being. I mean, really. So many kids these days act like they’ve been raised by hyenas. I wouldn’t want to inadvertently block her path to greatness.

Thanks again for reading.

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Here’s the deal.

Long story short, suddenly, I’m a full time step parent, and it actually counts this time. I never wanted to be a parent, to be responsible for another human and their various problems that will inevitably arise from their constant exposure to my lifestyle and wacky opinions. (like, school sucks, screw college, think for yourself, be quiet and leave me alone, but don’t do anything I don’t want you to do and you’ll have to read my mind to know what that is.) At least THIS kid is good and has a responsible mother that takes very good care of her, but still. The advice I’ve been getting is as simple as “just parent her”. Fine, but what the hell does that MEAN? The pressure and expectations that have been put on me, that I have put on myself, are exhausting. I’m not good at faking it. There’s nothing motherly or parental about me. My hardwired inability to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing here could conceivably end my marriage. I could be disproportionately upset and things will smooth over, or my abject refusal to give in and fake it will get me my wish and I’ll be left alone. Like, for real. I’ve been a fairly independent, resourceful misfit my entire life, so I wouldn’t die or anything. I’d just be really sad if things went down that way.

I’m not good at telling other people what to do and when to do it, and standing over them to make sure it’s done right. I have better things to do. They should already know. If they do know, but won’t, only to be difficult for no good reason, I take it personally. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. Whenever I encounter a manipulative person who won’t respect my boundaries, I write them off immediately. Good-bye. You can’t write off your kid for being a kid, can you? I don’t want to be a role model, to be observed constantly, and attempt to set good examples when I don’t exactly feel like it. I want to relax and do what I do. At the very least, I’m thoughtful enough not to go ahead and create another human being that I know I couldn’t take good care of. That’s worth something, I guess.

Obviously, I didn’t feel like Etsy or Superstars this week. Sorry to be such a downer, but I’m not fully functional right now, so I thought I’d let you know what’s going on. Maybe it’s not all bad and I’m just freaking out because I’m still getting used to having a house guest all over my living room, in my bathroom and in my refrigerator, slowly eating the main ingredient of Sunday’s dessert all week long when nobody’s looking. It’s hard to tell right now if it’s really that simple, or not.

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