November Update: Nearly Everything is on Sale!

“If you can’t change it, change your attitude”

– Maya Angelou

Beat the Holiday Rush Sale

Hello lovely internet folks….nearly everything is on sale both here and on Etsy to help you with your holiday shopping needs. I know money is tight these days. If there is anything you like but it is just not in your budget please make me an offer, and remember I also take payment in the form of barter.

What’s New

October totally got away from me on account of every single member of my family coming down with that change-of-weather detox: AKA a bad chest cold. Of course they didn’t all feel poorly all at once, so it was a 3 week marathon of coughing. So this mama, being the only healthy one in the house, ran the household, along with prepping wholesome meals to help speed up the healing process. All the while filling orders as they came in, which was not many, and for once – I was glad.

It is my pleasure to take care of my family and understand the privilege I have to be able to drop everything and do just that. I have many tools in my arsenal to assist in their healing, but ultimately rest is the best remedy.

That said, I am feeling a bit burnt out from my 3 week nursing-everyone-back-to-health stint and not feeling 100% creative just yet. I’m dabbling in a bit of hat knitting and crochet to get back into the swing of things. I’m planning on doing an article on some of my fave easy hat patterns in the coming days, once I have some examples to post.

No New Products, but Almost Everything on sale

So I have no new products to share, BUT I’ve decided to put most things on sale as I’m happy to fill orders. Discounts are automatically applied. You will also receive any bulk or tiered discounts relevant to that category – EVEN IF IT’S ON SALE. So the more you buy, the more you save. Simply add the items to cart to see the final cost.

For Etsy items, prices as marked. For example, My pewter and silver keepsake (engraved) necklaces are 30% off on Etsy!

I did manage to do some deck staining and got my garlic bulbs planted. We’ve been having some glorious weather here in the Maritimes. I can’t believe I planted my garlic in November…in a tank top!

The sale is running until December 3rd. I am not planning on having any sales in December past that, except clearance items. This is to encourage shopping EARLY for the holidays. I hate the stress of rushing orders and worrying whether they will arrive on time or not.

I’m off to get some rest – just like Osuna

Alright keeping it short and sweet this month. Hope you are all well and if not, are able to get the rest you need.

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My Spinning Philosophy (and how it ties into jewelry making)

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The other day I was flipping through my copy of Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning by Lexi Boeger and the intro to chapter 3 reminded me why I spin.

Free the Pattern

The Yarn made me do it.

“Working with handspun yarn provides a perfect opportunity to free yourself from the constraints of formal patterns by allowing the characteristics of the yarn itself to dictate the work’s form. There are many ways to do this, and a few examples will follow, but the idea to teach yourself to really look closely at the yarn, and let the details and eccentricities that you find there guide you in your creative process. Many people are hyper-focused on the act of knitting or crocheting, and oblivious to the yarn itself as they work through it.” 1

Faux Tailspun Yarn in pink flamingo
Faux Tailspun Yarn in pink flamingo

I’ve been in a bit of a spinning & knitting slump as of late which I find happens when my days are more consumed with jewelry making or fleece processing. This quote reminded me why I got into making yarn in the first place. It’s easy to get into concentrating on technique only, esp. when you are out of practice. But for me that takes away from the joy of spinning. I’m a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of spinner. I’ve come up with the best skeins this way. They are in no way reproducible, but isn’t that why we love handspun anyway, the uniqueness of each skein?

I really enjoy Lexi’s book as she is about pushing the envelope as to what we think of when

just a few of my fave yarns I spun
just a few of my fave yarns I’ve spun

we think of handspun yarn. I don’t tend to click with many spinners I meet since their goal many times is to get the thinnest and/or most even yarn usually for a particular pattern or project. I would much rather let the fiber take me on the journey and then decide after it is spun what it would like to become. It usually takes me several attempts to make something out of a skein of yarn because it doesn’t always want to do what I want it to. I find a pretty pattern in one of my books, and convince myself that this particular handspun will do the trick. Most of the time, I am wrong. Instead, I have had to train myself to look at the yarn and decide from its feel what it should become. I do look at patterns for inspiration, but most of the time, knitting (or crocheting) just spontaneously happens.

If you think that a jewelry maker making the jump to spinning yarn is odd, here is where the parallels are drawn. When I make jewelry, I like to sit down with a component – such as a gemstone bead – and let it develop into a piece. Sure I have a sketch book with designs and this is more useful for the engravable jewelry. Even then do the designs rarely look like what is in the book. I like to let it develop as I go. Much like mixing different colors of fiber for spinning, I like to take beads and metals to find a harmonious blend. It’s painting, only on a 3-dimensional level to produce a tangible product or textile. To me spinning is the perfect compliment to jewelry making – not to mention the ultimate mash-up: spinning beads into my yarn (I also got tired of boring plastic and rubber stitch markers too so I make my own – that I call knitting bling). ๐Ÿ™‚

coopsworth 2-ply with purple stacks
coopsworth 2-ply with purple stacks

When I started spinning I just went for it. The opportunity arose where I could buy a wheel and I seized it. It made absolutely no sense at the time, but I am so glad I left logic on the shelf, and delved into spinning yarn. It is an absolute bliss for me, even with every ache and pain that goes along with it.

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Change of Plans…

Just as I get my website up and running, we decide to do some upgrades to our downstairs. It is time. We also bought a camper trailer, so our family will be on the open road for most of the summer…which has been a dream of ours for our family.

What this means is a much needed upgrade to give me a bonafide studio. The washer & dryer will be removed and moved into the downstairs washroom, giving me free reign of the entire space. We have been frantically packing up our lives in preparation; the jewelry supplies are boxed up for now, and should see the light of day again this fall. This summer I will post about my adventures in spinning fiber this winter/spring to keep the creativity flowing. I feel a total overhaul of the jewelry as well…I’m looking forward to the summer to mull it all over.

Per usual if you can still contact me for custom requests, I may or may not be able to fulfill them, but do feel free to write!

I look forward to showing off my new studio space. It is my dream to have a place that I can share with the community as well…jewelry making, beading, knit, crochet, card fiber, spin…excited to finally be moving in this direction…

 

 

 

Changes…

There are some changes (challenges?) coming up this year for my family that have forced me to evaluate what projects this year are most important and concentrate on them. I am a big believer in change & getting out of one’s comfort zone…so as much as it is not how I envisioned my year I choose to embrace it!

Change has a way of kicking my butt in gear. When I realize my timeline has been shortened, this is when my best work emerges. I tend to over think – over perfect things. In essence I work the best under pressure.

So the one thing I could not put off any longer, was programming my website. My own little piece of cyber space where you can browse my jewelry online for purchase – either limited edition or custom and to request pieces for wholesale or consignment . I needed a place of freedom where everything would be in one space and I would have total control over it. This would eliminate the need for selling on third party venues. Maintaining these shops is time consuming & I have not much control on the space itself (customizing). I find myself constantly saying, “I wish I could do…”, “I wish I could offer….”

So the software has been picked. The theme has been chosen and customized. I am now adding product for testing. Here is the test site… http://shop.heavenlyflower.com – which will soon become http://heavenlyflower.com.

(This is a test site so browse only…created accounts will not be kept once the site goes live). Once completed customers will be able to browse/buy and request jewelry, keep a wishlist & email items to friends/family, earn reward points, join a referral program & browse in 5 different currencies (more may be added later).

We still have to test the sign in/account/payment capabilities. For now I have payment set up via Paypal API, and eventually will also offer direct credit card payment.

I also have plans to add downloadable brochures & press releases to the site as well.

This will not only simplify my life but allow me to market my business & represent me the best way possible. ๐Ÿ™‚

So that is what I am busy with. Along with moving over 100 ready to ship pieces to the site, I have over 30 pieces for my custom/engravable collection to photograph and add to the site as well. Then once that is complete I have to do it all over again for my supply shop. ๐Ÿ™‚

To keep up to date with the site’s development & new products, check back here on the blog, or via Facebook.

 

 

 

New Year, New Goals…The End of the Jewelry Sabbatical

I have been quiet. The end of the 2010 was drawing near & I wrapped up my jewelry sabbatical getting a head start on 2011 projects. Like a writer who sequesters themselves in a secluded cabin to write a novel, a lot of times I do similar when I feel a new project idea coming on and I need no distractions to bring it to fruition. I’m glad to have been inspired to get a jump start as January is not going quite as smoothly as I had hoped. I am the perpetual over-achiever. ๐Ÿ™‚

So let’s recap what I’ve been up to…

I started one year ago my jewelry sabbatical. I decided over Christmas break a year ago, after over a decade of beading/beaded jewelry that I wanted time to concentrate learning/trying new skills. I found myself feeling really stagnant making the same style over & over – and I needed time to not feel pressured to be making sales. The biggest result of that is I learned how to engrave using a pantograph engraver. A line is already in development & well on its way to completion. I decided to source out supplies that were quality but not precious metal. I’ve always been dedicated to offering my work at a price that is affordable to everyone. There will be sterling silver variations as well, but I will start out with blanks that are treated for durability, the cores being metals such as brass, copper & steel.

This is my new project. Named after my two girls, jade-n-rose will be offering jewelry making & craft supplies in small lots. Inspired by my early days jewelry making, I will strive to offer quality supplies in small quantities for those who only want a few items at a time. Currently housed on Artfire, we are starting to work on its very own website in tandem with the heavenlyflower website. I was hoping to have more items listed by now but have gotten sidetracked. I hope to get back to it soon; I literally have hundreds of items ready for sale.

I also (finally) chose a blog layout I am happy with! I believe these types of themes are called “magazine” layouts…and they give a snippet and photo from the post rather than showing the whole post on the front page. I’m a skimmer so I love this format for searching for topics that interest me. My holistic blog has also been updated.

There was a lot of things that I didn’t get to last year or only barely scratched the surface. I have carried it over to my to-learn list this year, although it is a tall order since I already have non-jewelry creative projects on the list. Considering all the goals I have for this year, it still feels exciting & ambitious rather than daunting and impossible. I will dig in, and hope that the blog this year will continue to inspire you to take on a creative project that perhaps you have been putting off for some time. This is my theme for 2011: tackle the projects that I have always wanted to do but never got around to do it.

Creatively yours,

Seven Things

I was tagged by the beautiful Tasha Chawner to share seven things about me. While I am flattered that sheย  thought of me in all my blogging glory, I am having a hard time coming up with seven things to mention…darn it I am just not that interesting! ๐Ÿ˜‰

1. I taught myself the alphabet in Canadian Sign language

…which, for all intents & purposes is American Sign Language – ASL – (we say “zed”, they say “zee”) but as far as the signing, it’s the same. :). Yes my #1 is totally piggy backing on Tasha’s #5. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I taught myself so that I could have hand gestures when singing the alphabet song (heavily requested in my house) with my three year old during circle time. I was quite impressed at how quickly I learned, now I would love to learn more! ๐Ÿ™‚

2. I hate spiders but they love me.

Over the years, I have learned to tolerate them, as they do such a nice job keeping the other bug populace down. But they seem to want to be friends even though I would like to remain acquaintances. Here at the computer for instance, on a regular basis they like to come crawling up (or repel downwards), and I usually don’t notice until they’re traveling up my arm or neck. Flick it away and minutes later I witness it crawling back up the chair. Hello…take the hint! Recently I had one crawling up my leg while we were travelling down the interstate in Massachusetts. I had to stifle my screams lest Rick drive off the highway. Plus with the kids I have learned to suppress my disgust for them so to not encourage a phobia of their own. ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. I am afraid of the dark

Totally in the irrational, childlike sense. I don’t think I ever got over fears from childhood, and too many episodes of “Unsolved Mysteries” back in the day really did not help me out there. You remember the original – Robert Stack’s voice, the creepy music…any who…if I have to travel anywhere by myself in the dark – say, to the loo in the middle of the night – I take a deep breath, move as quickly as I can & keep my eyes shut tight as much as possible…lest I see a – dead person or ax murderer or something. Things that go bump in the night – ask my husband, I have woke him many a time to check on a noise that was just the cat vomiting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

4. I prefer to be alone.

Which may come to a surprise to you if we have only interacted in social settings. I have the traits of a person of the melancholic temperament.ย  I spend a lot of time in my head – contemplating & compartmentalizing everything…so when it comes to socializing in large groups I just don’t know how that chaos fits into my world. Many times people assume that I am depressed or upset or snobby or rude…truthfully I just spend a lot of time “out of my body” as I am so self aware. Over the years I have learned how to be an out-going creature, butย  it makes me feel rather drained & it takes me a long time to recover from a social event. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good party, in fact I do need those as well to help keep me balanced. I really look forward to participating despite the awkward feelings I may have during/after the fact.

5. My dreams predict when something significant will happen to someone close to me.

I could add myself to that as I dreamed I was pregnant with baby girls just days before conceiving both my daughters. I dreamed a close friend was having a boy, and everyone was convinced it was a girl. My dream was right. The last prediction dream I had was two years ago – I dreamed of the death of my mother. One week later she died suddenly at the age of 54. Needless to say this experience has left me rather rattled and I have not had a prediction dream since. I think subconsciously I have turned off that filter, at least for now. The difference between a prediction dream vs. a regular dream is that it is startlingly real. I canย  touch, smell, feel everything – know everyone who is in it (I tend to dream about strangers a lot…characters my head seems to make up in slumber land) and I am left feeling like I have be thrust back to earth to my body as if I were in another time or place.

6. I am left handed…sort of…

I’m sure that being left handed comes to no surprise seeing how creative I am. But I am actually somewhat ambidextrous – for lack of a better descriptive term. Although I am left hand dominant for writing & using eating utensils, I tend to use my right hand for everything else: using a can opener, scissors or pliers, throwing a baseball… Still, I recognize myself as a south paw; everything creative comes out of my left hand whether it be writing or sketches for jewelry designs.

7. I sweat a lot when I am writing…

…in a creative sense – not when I am say, writing a cheque or even listing a new item in my shops. It’s happening right now! It’s like I have a hot flash when I have to think and write at the same time…I can remember the same thing happening when I used to write essays in high school! My poor little brain cells are firing so fast they are creating a lot of heat in that noggin of mine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There you have it, Tasha – Seven Things. And yes, it was painful to come up with! I do hope it was somewhat entertaining! ๐Ÿ™‚

Artfire Collections & Etsy Treasuries

It appears that Etsy has successfully launched their new treasury format, which now allows you to tag your creation with key words so to make it searchable.

Just recently Artfire also launched their Collections and users have been creating fast & furious.

Both platforms are a wonderful way to promote & blend together different art mediums you will find on each site.ย  heavenlyflower has been featured in:

Funny how the 3 Etsy ones are all featuring my turquoise color pieces! ๐Ÿ™‚

Etsy’s Treasury East: New Feature

I got a convo from a fellow Etsian that I am featured in her curated Treasury East. This is the first time I have been included in one, therefore my first time to give it a test drive. I’ve not had the time to curate one myself as of yet, unfortunately.

Treasury East has been rather controversial with the Etsy community. With Treasury Main and Treasury West, you would have to wait for the full treasury to “open up” – when the current treasuries expire – and hope to grab one before they fill up. The treasuries fill up in seconds, and if you are the lucky one to grab one and curate, it is a fun and important marketing tool for many Etsy Users.

The difference with Treasury East, is that they never expire, and comments and the number of treasuries curated will be infinite. This left a lot of Etsy users wondering how they will become relevant regarding promotion and marketing: how will potential buyers see the treasuries and wade through the hundreds – if not thousands of treasuries?

Treasury East is still in the testing stage so these questions will hopefully be answered in the coming weeks. I do see some pros to the new format: you don’t have to wait around for one, and the never expiring element means that you can share it on social network or you blog and it will always be visible. The new format is also larger and cleaner looking. “Hotness” is gained not just by clicking and commenting as before, but gained through promoting outside Etsy, using social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

I don’t know when or if I will curate a Treasury East. But I thank you, riorita for including my turquoise chip earrings! ๐Ÿ™‚

Playing Catch Up…

I am so severely behind with my blog posting. In March, my family & I ended up travelling home to Nova Scotia to attend a funeral. That wiped two weeks out of that month and therefore made me behind on my projects for my “Jewelry Sabbatical“. The 13 hour drive however, gave me a lot of time to think & refocus, and my priorities have shifted a bit. I had a brain wave for the engraving collection, and that is still in conceptual stage while I wait for some logo templates I ordered. I also had a clearer idea about which direction to take the website, so I have been working at updating the look of the site and the overall branding of heavenlyflower.com – all tasks that are severely needed & overdue – I just didn’t expect to be working on that element at all this year! Blame it on retrograde if you must, but these days I just feel motivated to work on getting projects cleaned up, completed and continuing on past goals (like the website). It’s not exactly spending all my live long day at the bench as I had planned, but I am happy with the direction things are headed so I have to go with it. For the first time in 8 years I feel like my goals & dreams are in reach. I tend to go with my gut day to day and this is no exception. Perhaps taking the pressure off this year helped my business goals come in clearer focus. Now to not self-sabotage…a topic I will leave for another post.

I will still be blogging about my new found adventures in creativity as planned however I do have a few topics revolving around the handmade market and business that I will also be writing about as it pertains to what is on my mind these days.

I am also happy to announce that I will be participating in yet another Market Mommy Blog Party next week. Stop by the blog and participate. There will be prizes from fellow mom entrepreneurs as usual. I will be giving away gift certificates! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally: while I was organizing photos I came across this photo of my oldest trying her hand at what mommy does. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t want them to “hurry up and grow up” but I do welcome the days when I can share my passions with my two girls. This was taken back in October, before my creative space/playroom was finished. She was just newly two years old when this was taken.

The piece I was working on:

The finished project:

More goodies to follow…including my adventures in brass last month!

2010: My Jewelry Sabbatical

In December, I thought really long and hard about what direction to take my jewelry business for the future. Last January, I was very pregnant with DD#2 (now 10 months old) & decided to start this blog and embark on “100 Days of Creativity”.

Last year was a very critical year for me. I had taken a break from designing jewelry (let alone selling it) in 2007 in order to relocate to another province, buy a house & have DD#1. I had put together an Etsy Shop in April 2008, but never really did anything with it.ย  I was longing for a life less complicated & was concerned my love for jewelry making was adding to the consumerism mindset I was trying to shed.

Luckily after joining an Etsy Street Team and networking with others in the handmade community, I realized that my passion was truly a gift not to be ignored. I was more than satisfied with sales & interest in my business again, particularly since I was doing this all on-line while taking care of two little girls.

As December Holidays arrived, & I had time to reflect on the year, I felt strongly that now was the time to take a risk and grow my skill set. I love gemstone beads but I really want more for myself, particularly in the customizable jewelry market. There are techniques I have been longing to have the time to try out for many years.

Profits from jewelry sales in 2009 was just waiting to be spent. I decided that the best use of this money was to buy equipment & supplies and embark on one year of skill building. To me it sounded very much like a sabbatical (noun: any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc. (per dictionary.com)). So, the 2010 Jewelry Sabbatical was born.

I have spent the month of January buying supplies, & cleaning up my workspace. Some of the techniques I wish to try & hopefully be successful at are: engraving via engravograph (pantograph engraver), jewelry making with resin, copper etching and patinas, wood engraving/burning, metal stamping…so far I have been playing with the engraver and am impressed with the results.

I’ve given myself a timeline month by month to which I will loosely follow in order to keep myself focused and on track, but the journey is bound to change esp. with a creative journeys! Rigidity just doesn’t work in order to have the inspiration flow…

I look forward to sharing my journey on the blog. I still will be taking custom requests and selling my jewelry, I just won’t be heavily promoting it or branding it for now. In the long run, these dreams and goals I have will help expand & streamline my business in the direction I have always wanted to take it. And much more importantly, help grow my creativity which is a pinnacle part of me, as an individual.

Stay tuned!

Fundraising Inspired: Elly’s Pageant Fund

I’ve always enjoyed donating my jewelry for silent auctions and door prizes, but it has always been a goal of mine to host fundraisers on my site.

The basic idea is, a particular piece of jewelry will be designed and listed specifically for a grassroots or community cause. A percentage of the profits would then go to the individual or group.

So when I found out Abby was looking for donations or corporate sponsorship for her 12 year old daughter’s pageant in March, I suggested we do a jewelry fundraiser. I know Abby from back in my pen palling days, and we recently connected again on Facebook. Pageants are something Elly asked to do, and it’s not a cheap hobby for this mom of four.

So that kicked my butt into action. As usual I work on impulse: having a light bulb moment and just…going for it. My website is slowly coming together, but in pieces. I don’t even have the framework to sell jewelry set up on my website yet, which is why I use Etsy & Artfire.

The first order of business, was what type of jewelry to make for Elly’s fundraiser. I decided that earrings would be a good option as I could set them at an affordable price point. I found out from Abby that Elly likes pink, and she is a big Taylor Swift fan. I had some recently designed pieces for my new custom section on Etsy that I thought would be a good fit.ย  I was not surprised as to what her favourite pair was.

I decided to set her pair at a special wholesale price to encourage sales and give her $5 per each pair sold, donating my time to the project. I also did a pendant version of the earrings:

I decided to use Artfire to host the fundraiser. Basically because they do not have listing fees, justifying the lower price, and that you do not have to sign up to use the service like you do with Etsy. Also, Artfire now has integration with Amazon Wishlists!

You can check out more on Elly’s fundraiser here:

Would you like me to host a fundraiser? Check out my fundraising section of my website, and see if my philosophy would be a good fit for you.

The 6 Characteristics of Highly Creative People

I found this article several years ago, after looking up the exact wording to one of my all-time favourite quotes by Thomas Moore. The article spoke to me so much I cut & pasted it for future reference. I found it the other day while cleaning out folders on my hard drive. I thought I would share it here as I’m sure many of you can relate, esp. other “innerpreneur” types like myself. Unfortunately I am not sure what website this originally came from, however I was able to give credit to the author.

by Michelle L. Casto

Thomas Moore said, “We are all poets and artists as we live our daily lives, whether or not we recognize our role and whether or not we believe it.” Human beings have an innate need to create. Even you! There is a continuum of creativity, ranging from being slightly creative to highly creative. The good news is that you can learn to be more creative by observing creative people and modeling yourself after them. Artists, writers, and creative types seem to have similar characteristics. Some of the personality traits listed below may seem eccentric, odd, even “out there”—but that is where creativity lies— in the outreaches of our consciousness, in the depths of our souls. If you had the opportunity to speak to Picasso, Walt Disney, or Jane Austen, you would probably find out that they are ordinary people, much like you and I. The difference is that they have allowed more of their soul to come out and play and have freed themselves of convention and restriction. Creativity is essentially the art of discovery and an act of faith. When you create something— a work of art, book, software program, dance routine, or role for a play, you discover parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Creative people have a strong need to express more of who you really are and often have to fight for that right. The character Isabelle in the movie, Fire and Ice, has a great outlook on what it means to be creative, she says, “To create, sometimes you must rebel.”

1. Unconventional
Creative people do not feel the need to conform to society’s standards. They often swim against the current and flow with their own way of thinking and living. They have original ideas that literally turn the world upside down and right-side out. Take for example, the 16th century Italian astronomer, Galileo, who proved that the earth revolved around the sun (instead of the other way around), which was revolutionary in his time.

2. Individualistic
Creative people want to find out what the truth is, and they have a strong need to decide for themselves what works and what does not. Often they are ahead of their time, and much of their work is appreciated/acknowledged after they are dead and gone. Many writers are famous for marching to the tune of their own drum, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote the book, Self-Reliance, and Robert Frost who penned, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less-traveled.”

3. Inventive
Creative people live in the world of ideas, and don’t always have the best interpersonal skills. Because they are so highly intelligent, and live in the realm of possibility, they are constantly coming up with bright ideas. They also take notice of what is missing in the world and/or what could be improved. Take for instance, Thomas Edison, who invented hundreds of things in his time, his most famous invention being the light bulb. He saw that there was darkness and then created light.

4. Driven
Creative people cannot “not do something”-they are almost compulsive until they can bring their internal vision into fruition. They have that “fire in their belly”—a passion to contribute to the beauty and betterment of the world. Because of their high drive, they can produce a lot in a relative short amount of time. Talk about drive— the material girl herself, Madonna, has not let public praise or criticism stop her from being a super star. She is a modern day Diva, multi-talented as a singer, dancer, and actress who has released hundreds of songs, albums, videos, movies, books— all the while reinventing herself as someone new.

5. Visionary
Creative people have a guiding vision in their head, heart, and soul that they are often called to bring to life. Who else but Michelangelo could look at a large piece of marble and “chip away at everything that wasn’t David?” According to him, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” One of his best-known works is the immense ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took him three years to complete, where he often had to work upside down for hours at a time. If you ever have seen any of his work, you can easily see that it is a vision to behold.

6. Intuitive
Creative people are very in touch with their inner selves. They pay attention to the signs, synchronicities, symbols around them, and make use of that information in their work. They often act as a channel, where ideas and inspiration come from a higher plane. They allow the work to guide them to where it needs to go. The work clearly originates in their soul, not from their ego. Talk about ideas coming from out of the blue, remember how the scientist, Isaac Newton “discovered” gravity? He was sitting under a tree and an apple fell on his head! Had he not made a connection with his intuitive nature, he would have missed a major theory about the world we live in!

As you read this, do you find yourself relating to some of these traits? If so, it is time to start creating. Getting started can often be the hardest part, because we often limit our creativity by listening too closely to our negative inner voice. But so did all of these examples of creators. Even the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh struggled with that, but he created a remedy for that, he said, “If you hear a voice within you saying, you are not a painter, then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Robert Henri says, “When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature.” Once you have created, you now have to put yourself out there for all to see. This is where your faith comes in to support you. Remember that if you are creating from your soul, it will not matter whether other people accept your work or not. You are simply doing what you are called to do as a human being, create.

Michelle L. Casto is a whole life coach, speaker, and author of Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships, Get Smart! About Modern Career Development, and Get Smart! About Modern Stress Management. Her coaching practice is Brightlight Coaching, she helps people come up with bright ideas for their life and empowers them to freely shine their bright light to the world. Contact her for a free 30 minute coaching session: www.getsmartseries.com and www.brightlightcoach.com

Contributed by:

Michelle Casto
ยฉ2003, Michelle Casto
Website: Get Smart! LearningBooks, Seminars, and Life Coach

Rockhound Wannabes in Bancroft

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I was fortunate enough to travel to Ontario Cottage Country in order to attend the 46th Annual Rockhound Gemboree in Bancroft. My husband & I are rock & minerals geeks but are very green when it comes to rockhounding. It’s definitely something we want to make a family activity. We met some wonderful encouraging amateur rockhounds & look forward to getting out to the field once the children are a bit older.

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Bancroft is the Mineral Capital of Canada and the show did not disappoint. Two buildings plus an outdoor area filled with jewelry making supplies, specimens, info on rock hounding & many talented artists from jewelry makers to stone carvers. We did the full show: 4 days and we were never bored. We actually felt a little sad when it drew to the close on the 4th day. We Definitely will be back next year. Staying at a cottage with no electronics was also so clearing for the mind. My cell phone didn’t even work. We were just able to sink in and enjoy the natural beauty the area had to offer despite all the mosquitoes (thanks to a rainy summer!).

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Besides jewelry making goodies we also picked up several wonderful specimens. Our favourite place to buy was from the amateur rockhounds who set up shop in the sweltering heat outside. Not only were they wonderful quality, but it carried so much meaning to us to acquire pieces that were collected by such passionate individuals. We had a collection of a few specimens picked up over the years, mostly from our days in Nova Scotia attending the Parrsboro Gem & Mineral Show. But after the haul of goodies we obtained from Bancroft, it was time to set up a display case so that we could enjoy our finds all in the same place.

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Dare I say – our collection is TOO BIG for the display cabinet!! Next year, we will have to look at acquiring another one…

I would share here some of the jewelry making materials I acquired, but 1) the photos were pretty bad and b) it’s more fun to let the creativity flow & share the treasures through design! Stay tuned!

Finding Inspiration…

Newton’s first Law of Motion: “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion…” So too does this apply to inspiration. I found myselfย  “stuck”ย  as of late to get jewelry making again. Out came the supplies & I sat down…but nothing came to me. No inspiration. I’m into jewelry making for the expression: the creative outlet; not just to mass assemble pieces for sale.

Over the 12 years that I have been making jewelry, I know a thing or two about finding inspiration for my art form. I was foolish to think I could just sit down and start again after a 10 week hiatus! So here’s what I do to get myself inspired again:

1. I get organized.

Regardless if you make jewelry, paint, knit, sew, etc., your supplies are bound to get messy despite your best attempts to keep it neat & tidy. We wouldn’t be creative individuals without a bit of chaos thrown in! So I take some time to sift & sort through supplies. Sometimes an object just needs a new place in the storage containers or on the workbench in order for it to spark some creative juices. Touching & feeling the textures of the medium you work with (for me it’s mostly semi-precious gemstones) can also kick start the process.

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2. I go shopping.

Whether your budget is big or small, buying new supplies or simply browsing at your LBS (local bead shop)/supply store can be a wealth of inspiration. It also keeps you up to date with what’s new & exciting. Besides this, I like to window shop at the local mall. The window displays tell a lot about what’s “hot” for the season.

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3. Check out the trends online &ย  in magazines

This is a given, I know. For jewelry making, I like to check out the trends by browsing online jewelry shops, or department store catalogues. It’s also great to read trend reports on fashion sites. I tend to shy away from actually making anything based on trends, but it still serves as inspiration. Checking out what other talented artists in the handmade realm are making aids in finding creativity for me. Not just the jewelry, but the handmade goods on sites like Etsy & Artfire are sure to get the ideas flowing.

4. I look around me

Absolutely, hands down, the best form of inspiration is my environment. Whether it be the colours & textures of my children’s clothing, the vibrant colour of a fresh salad straight from the garden or the mixture of my own personal decorating style around the house. All these things serve as the best inspiration of all, because it is something intimate to me, that is easily relatable. Working with what I know helps my creations evolve with a sense of ease, & doesn’t end up looking forced or mechanical.

The change in seasons is a huge help as well. I am someone who is drawn to nature well, naturally! I think we all are in one way or another. Maybe you like to sit and meditate or read outdoors, go hiking in the woods, plant in your garden or play a seasonal sport. I know for me, this time of year the flowers in full bloom & the lush green foliage acts as a catalyst for me to create jewelry pieces that are vibrant & alive with colour: turquoise, orange, yellow, etc. I have some magnificent orange dahlias blooming out front that serve as the inspiration for my current work in progress.

5. I look at what the birthstone of the month is

Most of my jewelry is based on the metaphysical properties of stones, so I enjoy making jewelry themed around birthstones. This helps give me a benchmark as to where to begin. For example for June, I could concentrate on making pieces featuring pearls & moonstone to help get me going. Even if you don’t make jewelry, the colour of the birthstones may help give you a place to start your knitting or embroidery.

6. I Draw

I can barely draw a stick person mind you, but this is all the skill that I need to record any ideas I may have. As I become more aware of my environment in a creative sense, I will get flashes of ideas. It’s great to put them down on paper for future reference. It sounds clichรฉ but a pad of paper & a pen by your bed really is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I have had brilliant design ideas just as I am nodding off to sleep or waking up, only to forget them later when I have the chance to actually put those ideas to use. Right now for me the best time for ideas is as I put my girls to bed. I lay down with them until they fall asleep, so this is great time to just close my eyes and think. I then draw them out on paper once I am free to get up & start my evening.

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Of course some of my favourite pieces have been created out of spontaneity, and following the steps above I believe can help you create unique items regardless of what your creative medium happens to be. What are some of the ways you find inspiration? Happy Creating!

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Getting my Groove On…

Well it’s offcial. I sat down last night I finally made my way back into jewelry making after a 10 week hiatus due to the birth of my second daughter. I am elated, because the hiatus was more like, one year after my first! It was just a couple of pairs of earrings but it was enough to get the creativity flowing & have the ideas come rushing forth. Here’s what I’m working on today, I think I’ll call it, “orange crush”:

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They are vintage orange beads with a gold AB finsih on one side. I got these at an online aution get this – over 11 years ago!!! Yep. I thought they looked cool but in over a decade I was at a loss as to what to do with them. I’ve been hanging on to them ever since: something about them told me when the time was right, I would use them. Trust me, there have been many time when I have considered destashing them or giving them away! Stay tuned for the finished piece…

…And the Lemonade Award goes toooooo….

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I want to give a special & heart felt thank you to Dawn & Maureen for nominating me for a lemonade award previously. This may seem like a small gesture but it touches my heart that you enjoy my blog & that I inspire you…you ladies inspire me too.

I wanted to pick a special night to annouce my nominations, & I thought that leaving it for Oscar night would be very appropriate. I had a really hard time picking 10 blogs: I read a lot of blogs that inspire the many factes of my life so it was hard to narrow down. However, here are my picks:

Kristie, Lisa & Co., Jody, Lynn, Jill, Aurore, Jenell, Carle, Linda and last but not least of course, Dianne!

Although these ladies blog about very different topics, their creativity, talent, & personalities inspire me in so many ways. I always enjoy visiting their blogs & applying their strength, ideas & overall good energy to my day to day life. Hats off to you! Keep sharing & keep inspiring! Visit their blogs & see for yourself… ๐Ÿ™‚

Pass on some lemonade & let someone know they have inspired you. Here’s what you do:

1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2.Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great Gratitude and/or Attitude.
3.Be sure to list and link your nominees within your post.
4.Let them know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blog.
5.Nominate your favorites and link to your post.

A Gesture that Made my Day: I Won a Lemonade Award!

Dawn, fellow jewelry maker & blogger, nominated me today for a lemonade award, in recognition for great gratitude/attitude. It may seem like a small gesture, but to me it means so much! Dawn is also a talented jewelry artist & a great source of inspiration for me. I am honoured to be a source of motivation & inspiration for her as well. Big hugs to you, Dawn!! Check out her Etsy Shop

Donations Kick Start the 2009 Year…Could I help you with your fundraiser?

So far this year, I am pleased to have donated to two causes by donating jewelry for silent auctions. I always love to donate my talents to worthy causes that help people at the personal, or at the grass roots/community level. Both donations were for fellow jewelry makers from the Starving Artists Team on Etsy.

I made three pairs of earrings for a silent auction in North Carolina. Proceeds go to an elementary school which has a high percentage of children with special needs and non-English speaking children attending. Since their funds have been drastically cut, the school has no money to purchase much needed equipment, ESL materials, etc. Upon talking to Jenni I decided to make three pairs of earrings as they are lower end items and (hopefully) easy sales. They already had lots of higher end items donated.

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The second fundraiser is for a man fighting brain cancer. I decided to make a brain cancer awareness bracelet. As the silent auction was in conjunction with a golf tournament, something a little higher priced seemed fitting. Plus since this was a fundraiser for an individual, I wanted the piece to be more personal & inspirational. You can read about Chris here at Caly’s Day at the Beach Blog.

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If you think my talents could help you with your community level fundraiser, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear about your cause & see if it is something that I can help you with.

100 Days of Creativity…

Driving back to Montrรฉal from Holidays in Nova Scotia, I had a lot of time to think about what I want for 2009. Besides the usual growing family happiness & prosperity bit, I realized that my creativity suffered in 2008. I had most of my attention on my daughter, and convinced myself I just didn’t have the time or the inclination to be creative. I would be creative on the computer: editing photos, working on my website, etc…

The only problem with this plan was, this was not tactile creativity. Although photo editing can be fun; staring at a computer screen did more soul killing than building for me. I realized, that if I were to keep on top of my creativity – which is my unwind, my meditation, my zen – I would have to make jewelry design more of a priority in 2009, even if the logic in the back of my mind is telling me I should be cleaning the house or finishing my website so to market all the things I make.

So, after being very inspired by the Starving Artists Jewelry Team I joined on Etsy, I decided to embark on 100 days of creativity: a piece a day, made & listed on Etsy until I reach 100 listings. Ok, so I cheat a bit here. I had about 30 pieces to begin with in my Etsy shop, and there are days when I get inspired to make 2 or 3 pieces in one sitting, and some days I don’t get to make any because my motherly duties come first. But the general idea is, 100 pieces of jewelry to signify 100 days of putting this side of me to the fore front. I am creative through & through, and without it I feel very out of sorts; it even led to depression in my early 20’s. Hell, I’m even left-handed! The touch, the colours & textures…this is so a part of me as breathing, it needs to be nurtured like a new born baby.

At first, I got off to a slow start. I had not been making jewelry regularly for so long I had a bad case of performance anxiety. So it meant unlisting and rearranging a few things I already had on Etsy. Finally, I was forcing myself at 10pm to make one piece. Even though my body was screaming go to bed – you have to get up early tomorrow. Even if it was a simple pair of earrings; just something. And you know what? It was the best thing I have ever forced myself to do. All of a sudden, the business ideas starting coming to me…the next step for marketing, where I want to take it, where I want to be in March (when I have to take another hiatus to play new mom all over again). I feel totally clear-headed, and directed. It was all because, I needed to reincorporate into the mix the one thing that inspires me, motivates me, gets me excited: making jewelry!

Now this probably sounds completely hokey to some (most?) of you. For goodness sake, you are making jewelry, you say…body adornment to pretty up one’s vanity…but no, I don’t see it that way. We all have talents; this happens to be mine. I believe in wearable expression: not wearing jewelry to hide our self-hatred or self-believed ugliness. It is to express, to inspire and heighten one’s self. I, as the artist, express myself with each piece. The wearer interprets the piece in the way that it makes them feel when wearing it. Maybe it reminds them of someone, something…this is my goal, that you enjoy wearing the piece because it goes with such-and-such outfit…and then go farther to wear something that is infused with the good intentions & energy of the person who made it. You know who made it. It is a one-of-a-kind, not just something off a conveyor belt. In our throw away society, materialism means so much, yet so little, as we will discard what we buy just as fast as we swiped the plastic to purchase it. I am hoping, especially in this economy, that the sentiment of cherishing the goods we buy because of the hard work that went into it – you for making your dollars – me for making the jewelry by hand – is brought back. This is not just for myself, but for all those who work away in the Cottage Industry. We are not driven by money, but by enjoyment, & a deeper need that so needs to be fulfilled again in this day & age.

My jewelry making philosophy is outlined on the front page of my (incomplete!) website heavenlyflower.com

Please check out the goodies in my Etsy Shop. I am almost half way to my goal! Even if you don’t buy you can look & appreciate. I hope it inspires you to evoke your own creativity, however you choose to express it.

Oh, and on the business side of it: once I get the 100 pieces complete I will then use this as an online portfolio to promote myself while I work on finishing the website. Don’t worry, I’m always thinking… ๐Ÿ˜‰