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Artist Spotlight: On…Me!

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working chaos: I love creating alongside my daughters

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to self-promotion. I like to make things, and would rather spend my time making things, than promoting my work and getting it “out there” and known. Plus I just feel like what I make is not exactly critical to one’s survival: it is not a food staple or a cure for cancer. It’s just pretty, handmade stuff. Certainly money is not a motivating factor for me either: anyone who is in the handmade community knows what an uphill battle that is.

That said, I have no problem supporting and promoting others in the cottage/handmade industry. I totally see the merit in what they do, the quality in the goods they make. So when thinking of a topic to write about this month for the newsletter, I thought, why not get to know me a bit better? I offer to do artist spotlights on other people, so why not me?

So here are my answers to the questions posed for the artist spotlight.

Who I am & what I make

My name is Leilani, I am married and a mom from Nova Scotia. Currently my creative outlet of choice is jewelry making: particularly personalized keepsakes that I manually engrave an initial or monogram on, and producing fiber for spinning and felting. The name of my creative work is the bb3 project or studio bb3. I used to go by the name “heavenly flower” but now the name is an ode to my 3 gems: my 3 little girls, and based on the superstition that things (good or bad) come in 3’s. I call my work a project and not a business as it is impossible for me alone to really devote the time and money needed to make this what the mainstream world would consider a business.

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My girls love creating in the studio too. They are my main inspiration and motivation. I also have cats who act as work foremen & supervisors πŸ™‚

 

How long have you been creating?

I have been making jewelry for over 15 years: I started in the late 90’s but didn’t seriously get into it until a few years later. My first creative outlet was writing, and my family always saw that as a career path for me as I was growing up. These days I still enjoy writing, but prefer creativity in a more tangible form: things I can create and feel with my hands and allow colors to blend and compliment each other.

My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel
My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel

What made you start creating?

I always found solace in working out my feelings in story or verse. I was encouraged in my early 20’s to find an outlet for my time as I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Writing is always cathartic but I needed something – shall we say – happier to bide my time with. So jewelry making helped me express myself and gave me something joyful and tangible to enjoy. I also appreciated the challenge & tediousness that goes along with learning a new skill. I think that is one reason why I love to spin yarn now, as well.

Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel
Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel

What inspires your designs?

Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart
Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart

In the beginning I started making the things that I couldn’t find in the stores. When I was younger I was more into fashion & accessorizing. I always liked to have something different to wear than everyone else. These days life in general inspires my work. I like my jewelry to be more classic, everyday wearable – as well as be a keepsake or daily reminder of what is good in one’s life, a milestone, or a loved one we hold dear or are missing…(although I am overdue to play around with statement pieces once again!). My yarn is definitely inspired by color play – it’s like painting but by mixing fiber. But mostly I just love to spin: to hear the whorl of the wheel, to see the transformation from fluffy fiber to twisted rope. The wheel spins and all my thoughts and wishes and desires and negativity and positivity – all spin around with it, meld together and melt away…

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

Certainly “Wings” is the piece that means the most to me – I rarely leave the house without it on. It has my mother’s monogram, and she is my angel, my protector. Certainly the jewelry I made for my wedding is also very dear to me, especially the charm bracelet, that has evolved into a mother’s bracelet (coincidentally 2 of my girls’ birthstones is sapphire – which was my wedding color theme). Mostly I love to hear people’s stories regarding the personalized jewelry I make, and becoming a type of support mechanism for them. Everything from honoring the death of a loved one, to happier events & milestones from weddings to friendships honored, breastfeeding goals reached etc etc. I am humbled to be part of their lives in this capacity: It gives what I do purpose, and I spend a lot of time convincing the negative side of me that what I do *does* have purpose outside of my own emotional well being. Sometimes it feels rather futile & pointless.

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“Wings” a memorial piece developed as a way to honor my mother: with her monogram.

 

I have a few skeins of yarn that I am coveting because I cannot bring myself to turn them into something, I just love to stare at them in skein form. They are curly and fluffy and soft and a whole lot of fun. I probably broke every rule about spinning when I made them, which only makes me love them more…

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A few of my favorite skeins of yarn

Where do you sell your work?

Currently my products are available online only. My family tends to spontaneously roam so I have never been one to commit to doing a market regularly or even a show. We have moved into the direction of permanent residency in Nova Scotia (where we are originally from) by selling one of our properties. Whether or not I will open my North Mountain studio up for shopping or classes remains to be unseen.

You can browse my products via my website and on etsy.

my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006
my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006

Do you accept custom work?

Sure, so long as the request is within the scope of the style I am currently offering. Custom work is tricky because it takes me hours to develop a new product. There are many factors to consider including wearability, color, flow…if the request is not an esthetic I can put my name on, or if I know it will take several hours in research and development I will politely turn it down. Time is definitely not on my side these days. I encourage everyone to ask though – I will always consider your requests and are honored you asked.

Find out more via the about me on my blog

FAQ for the bb3 project

I am still interested in doing artist spotlights on my blog, even though I have not done one in awhile. If you would like to be featured, send me an email lcd@bb3.ca or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks for reading!

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Finding Creativity in the Mundane

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We have a 100 year old project house in Nova Scotia. Now, I hate painting. I love the look of a freshly painted wall or trim but I don’t necessarily enjoy the execution. One painting project I was looking forward to, was the back door. Mostly because of the size of the project (small!). It’s a vintage dream: the side that is towards the outside has this gorgeous natural crackle from years of exposure to the elements and layers of paint. The brass door knob from years gone by would take a skeleton key if I had it; now it is secured with the modern day deadbolt. It was dingy white, and it screamed to be blue, to match our new roof. I could not wait to see the final product.

Although a roller would have been a lot faster, I opted for a brush. I’m not sure why, but soon I was enjoying the rhythmic back and forth motion watching the door slowly transform. I realized in that moment something that I had never done before: became present in this mundane task. Normally when I paint I’d let my mind wander & think about everything but, just trying to get through the chore. This time, I was aware of every stroke, every glop and drip, and the awareness that this door will never look “perfect” (brand new) ever again, no matter how much paint I applied. And yet, with every imperfection, the door is a true gem. Probably one of my favorite features of the house. Brand new, and perfect would look totally out of place in a house that has seen so much life in the past 100 years.

Painting the door that morning, gave my creativity a huge boost. Once done I immediately sat down at the sketch pad and to-do list. Problems were solved. Decisions made. New potential products were given its first one dimensional life on paper. I also realized something else. This door is delicious despite its imperfections. It is in many ways like handmade. The skill to create by hand will never be with machine precision but the slight imperfections are what truly make the piece vibrant, alive and soulful.

I hope you find much creative inspiration as you go about your day, and if the whim hits you to do something totally out of the ordinary, take the leap, regardless of your level of knowledge or skill. As the old saying goes, you never know unless you try! πŸ˜‰

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“Wings” Tribute piece: Personalized Memorial Necklace

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5 years ago to this day, my mother passed away suddenly at the age of 54. I would like to say *unexpectedly*, but I had a prophetic dream a week prior of her death, & although I was somewhat prepared, it was certainly a trauma nonetheless. We had an at times difficult – albeit honest – relationship, and I developed the “Wings” memorial necklace in her tribute, as a constant reminder that she still walks beside me despite having many moments where I feel motherless.

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I was on the fence about releasing this piece to customers, as it was so personal to me, but I decided by not sharing it I was missing an opportunity to help others heal & honor their loved one as I did. Since releasing “Wings” earlier this year for customizing, it has hands down become my best selling piece. I have had the honor of engraving these with the initials of loved ones for people I had never exchanged words with, yet I felt a connection to all the same. The most difficult request, was for infant loss, and I grieved for this mother even though she never knew of me or that she would be receiving this keepsake.

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Now I cannot believe I ever considered never sharing this piece. It is such a good example of why I create. It keeps me human. It keeps me connected. It gives me a sense of purpose in a world that some days makes no sense.

Love to you, mama: where ever thy soul shall roam…

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Have you been healed by creativity? I am looking for examples to be featured here on the creativity inspired blog of how art/creativity helped you overcome loss/hardship/illness. Did you paint a picture? Get a tattoo? Plant a garden in honor of a person or event? I want to hear every & all examples of how an outward expression aided you in your process. It is my hope that others will find comfort in these inspirational stories. Please contact me directly in order to be featured, or leave me a comment below. My only requirement is that you have one picture of the finished product to share with readers. Namaste!

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Latest Textured (Art) Yarns…

I am terribly behind on posts, and doubt I will bother to catch up. Earlier this year my hard drive failed and we have not yet had luck recovering the data…there is ways but very time consuming and for the self-employed parent time is limited. So I guess you can say I lost interest in blogging. Β I’ve also lost faith in WordPress & will be switching most likely to Drupal hopefully this fall. It’s just been one thing after another, and I apologize for any inconsistencies or problems viewing this site.

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But to begin anew here are the latest yarns I have made. These were a total experiment but I love the end results. I took the first two art batts I made earlier this year & turned them into these two skeins of yarn. Here you see them freshly fulled and hanging outside to dry (I love this time of year!). I’m also washing my newest fleeces obtained at this year’s New Hampshire Wool show (below you see a bit of it peeking out, also drying in the fresh open air).

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Both skeins are bulky one plies with beads spun in. I love how fast bulky one ply yarn spins up, but am always afraid of an unbalanced yarn. These are not bad, as you can see they hang fairly straight. The one on the right was from an art batt I made & named “The Fog of War”. I don’t always name my projects, but if a name pops in my head right away I figure there is purpose there. I’ve had these wood beads kicking around forever – probably a closeout I bought from a wholesaler. They never made it into the “for jewelry” making pile, and I am so pleased to have them integrated into this yarn.

The second skein, “Pink Candy Crush” has tiny 4mm pale pink crackle (glass) beads spun within. I loved the effect of the smaller beads just as the large ones. Far more cute & subtle but it works for such a happy colored yarn.

“Fog of War” is a blend of many different wool leftovers…I call these kinds of batts/rovings wool confetti as it is very light, fluffy & airy with tiny pops of color within. “Pink candy crush” has merino, tunis & a purple wool of unknown breed (odds and ends again) along with banana fibers . Both also have angelina fibers for added sparkle. The beads are attached with a Habu stainless steel thread.

These were really fun to make & I’m already on my 3rd. Spinning is my zen. Jewelry making is exciting; new designs make my heart race, while spinning keeps me calm & happy no matter how sore my back may get. πŸ˜‰

I know people have asked if I will be selling my yarns…I hope to add fiber product of some kind to the website by the end of the summer. I am having a hard time deciding how to price my yarns. I’m thinking of selling my yarns by barter exclusively rather than by exchange of money. I think that feels more fair to me…

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Little Girl’s Necklaces

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Today I added charms to my girls’ necklaces, something that anyone can do with their order by browsing the add-onsΒ section. I’m sure my girls don’t appreciate the fact that not all mommies have the charm stash that theirs does. So this is what they chose to add to their necklaces with their names engraved…

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A note about the Hello Kitty charm: this was a birthday giftΒ for my oldest a couple years ago…I set the image in resin on the picture charm. For copyright reasons I do not offer this for sale. But if you have your own special image you would like to have made into a charm I’d love to talk to you about it! πŸ™‚

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A Custom Necklace…for my Daughter…

September means one thing in my household – my oldest’s birthday. She will be 4 this year, and for the past several months she has been pretty clear with what she wants: a “Hello Kitty” Necklace (just recently she also added a pink stroller for her doll but she is still pretty adamant on the Hello Kitty necklace :)).

My children have no idea what Sanrio even is. All they know is that Hello Kitty is a girl and is a cat – seeing that we have 3 cats at home, it was a natural gravitation to the Hello Kitty character. And it’s all my fault that they have any interest. I was introduced to Sanrio when I was about 11 or so by my Asian pen pals…so I couldn’t resist pointing out Sanrio merchandise on shopping trips for my own nostalgia…not to mention they inherited my Sanrio stationary from back in the day! (My favorite was actually kerokerokeroppi but we don’t live with any frogs so I guess he’s just not as appealing. ;)).

So to humor myself I did do some looking around different BBS and jewelry stores to see what exactly is on the market for Hello Kitty necklaces. What I found was not surprisingly disappointing. Either cheap materials for too much money or…well, let’s just say I am not buying anything encrusted with pink diamonds for my 4 year old! πŸ˜‰

This creative mama knew she could make it work, and personalized at that. I started looking at official licensed merchandise. The charms were much too big and not what I was looking for at all. I knew I was going to have to make my own charm. I had these small pewter flower picture frames that I knew would be perfect. Now where to get an image that is essentially 8mm in diameter? I didn’t want to print an image as I planned to set it in resin and I was dubious I could get a good image on our ink jet. So I thought stickers…still couldn’t find stickers small enough. Then it hit me: nail art stickers! One trip to Sephora and I was in business….

The nail sticker is set into the frame with a UV resin. Just 20 min. under a UV light (or set out in sunlight, which takes longer) and voila! Done! I added a 4mm ruby Swarovski crystal bead and an engraved silver plated disk with my daughter’s name. Since she is starting to take interest in the alphabet, particularly her name and her sister’s name, I thought plain text would be best rather than a fancy initial.

I finished the piece with a 14 inch sterling silver chain. I am quite pleased with the overall size…perfect for tiny necks. πŸ™‚

This was actually the first image I set in resin. I liked it better because the sticker was metallic so I thought it would look more like jewelry. However, once it set it was obvious that there was not enough contrast between the image and the metal of the photo charm. So my 2 year old will get this necklace…at that age she will care not that the image isn’t as strong as her sister’s, she will just be honored to have one as well. πŸ™‚

I will not be reproducing these necklaces for sale due to the copyrighted material. However if you have your own personal image you would like set in resin feel free to contact me. I have photo charms and pendants in several different sizes. πŸ™‚

 

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Sneak Peek at the Custom/Engravable Line…

Well, I cannot believe my eyes. As of last night, the website is LIVE!Β  All of my Etsy & Artfire inventory is now available on my own little piece of the world wide web. But, before I work on search engine optimization, we still need to move the site over to the faster hosting, & I really need to get my custom collections up & running. I had originally set a goal of having it all live by the end of May, however after finally assessing how many collections I developed over the the winter, I have my doubts that I can go public with every single one in less than 2 weeks, especially with the custom requests that happen to come in in the meantime.

Here is a sneak peek of what to expect nonetheless. I will launch one collection at a time and announce each on the home page of my website. I also would like to do a giveaway to kick off the launch, but I haven’t figured out what just yet. Suggestions welcome! And sooner than later before I get wrapped up in all things infant! πŸ™‚

So here is but one item available from each collection.

From “Awareness”:

From “Beaded”:

From “Children’s”:

From “Dark Angel”:

From “Gemstone”:

From ” Gothic Spider”:

From “Keepsake”:

From “Sweetheart”:

From “Remembrance”:

I also have a pet tag engraving collection conceptualized on paper only. At this time I decided it is best to go forward with what I have before developing anything new. πŸ™‚

Cross fingers that the attributes (for customization/choice on each piece) built into the software are straight forward and I can get this up and running smoothly. With open-source, anything can happen. πŸ™‚

 

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Creativity 2011 – Learning to Knit! Basic garter stitch…

With the stick weaving mastered in no time flat, it was time to try my hand at the needles. Knitting is another skill on my list of things to learn in 2011.

So on this same trip, I brought along with me some size 7 needles and a great skein of wool I had picked up at the Vermont Wool Show. I should mention that I have knitted before – when I was about 10 years old. I don’t remember actually completing a project, just casting on/off and doing what I know now is the basic garter stitch. I can’t even remember how got to doing it – if it was a kit as a gift, if someone showed me or I just figured it out somehow, but I can picture the plastic knitting needles. In any event I don’t remember a thing about how to do it, so to me this was like my fist time. πŸ™‚

The thing with me is, I simply do not learn in a conventional manner. I find books and instructions rather confusing as they are too one dimensional, and videos I never seem to be able to keep up with or I am too concerned with copying exactly what the person is doing in the video rather than actually learning. In other words, take the video away, and I freeze. If my work doesn’t look like that in the book or my technique doesn’t go as smoothly as the person in the video, I get discouraged. This is probably due to anxiety of my conventional schooling: text books are intimidating & due to the learning anxiety I simply regurgitated what I was “taught” in school – nothing truly retained. I guess that’s why with my jewelry making I’d rather just figure it out for myself than be taught…regardless of how many hours extra it takes me…I can be stubborn like that!

So after reading through & studying diagrams from an ebook on my Nook, and watching a video on our Tab – I felt I had somewhat of a foundation of what I was supposed to do – so I threw them to the wayside and practiced myself.

First of all I loved the size 7 needles & found them easy to maneuver – I can see why this size was recommended to me for a beginner. But, I really wanted to work with a larger size while I was learning. Smaller needles = smaller stitches so my work was progressing really slowly.Β  I wanted to see some results fast just to keep me motivated. I also realized I needed to get some cheap yarn for practicing. I kept unraveling the good stuff if it wasn’t perfect…I just felt like I was wasting it. As with jewelry making, it felt like leaping straight into the fine silver wire when you don’t even know how to wire wrap yet… πŸ™‚

So the next day I was off to the craft store. I bought a pair of size 10 bamboo needles & some yarn that was on sale for about $2. The instructions for the project on the yarn called for a larger needle than a size 10 so it had the “fatness” I desired to see larger stitching.

My very first knitted – anything. It’s a simple cast on & garter stitch. Believe me there are a lot of mistakes here…yarnovers, double stitches…oh well. My goal was to get comfortable with the feel of knitting, so rather than going back to fix mistakes I simply carried on.

My tensioning gets tighter as I go as well. I think I struggled with this the most even more so than holding the needles. My stitches were loose in the beginning and would easily fall off the needle, as well as looked sloppy…with practice they got better & will continue to get better.

See how loose the stitches are at the bottom…

I keep this project in the car & work on it while we are away. Obviously, I am not the one driving. πŸ˜‰ I love being able to have something to do with my hands…jewelry making was never a practical traveling project for me since I work with beads. I love how easily yarn & needles tuck into a bag. “But what are you making?” My husband says. He only pictures knitted socks & hats! For now, I think I will stick to making blankets for my girls’ dolls. πŸ™‚ When this is done I’ll try a different stitch to make another one. Those dolls will be nice & warm. πŸ˜‰ Once the movement becomes totally natural with a variety of stitches I will then tackle an actual project…other than just square objects. πŸ™‚

So I am finding knitting, now that I don’t have to think so much & the feel is natural, very soothing & satisfying. I wondered if the repetitive motion would bore me but I found just the opposite. Interested in seeing if other stitches feel as natural, or what actual projects I will be inspired to do.

I couldn’t tell you if I knit in the “English” or “Continental” method. Or even if my form is correct – hell, even if it looks correct. All I know is, in my hand, it feels right, and that’s all that matters. If there is a new project that you want to take on but you are intimidated because you may not do it “just so” or the “right way” – what makes it right is if it is right for you. Make it your own…Own it! Make 2011 your year to try something you’ve always wanted to do! πŸ™‚

 

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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. πŸ™‚

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,

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Seven Things

I was tagged by the beautiful Tasha Chawner to share seven things about me. While I am flattered that sheΒ  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! πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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.Β  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, butΒ  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 canΒ  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. πŸ˜‰

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

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Creativity Beyond the Beads: Handmade Book

The other day I was looking for a new book to write down my creative ideas, and I came across this one that I had made 10 years ago. A printer, old photos, paper & a hole punch…decoupage et voila: πŸ™‚

After all these years, several moves & even a location to another part of the country – and I had never used this book. Until now. I made this book in a very sad time in my life…I think it was waiting for a more positive time to inspire. πŸ™‚

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Jewelry Inspired: Getting Started with Gemstones

Back when I started jewelry making, the thought of using actual gemstone beads in my designs seemed unattainable. I was unemployed, and I had to decide between jewelry making supplies or food much of the time.

Then one day while browsing ebay I stumbled upon chip beads. Long, 18 to 21 inch strands of stone chips with a hole drilled in each – and if you think of how many beads you get per strand, that makes them more affordable than machine cut glass beads.

I must admit in the beginning I had a hard time using these irregular shaped gems in designs. But soon I grew to appreciate the raw feel of the stone. It also was a good practice in judging detail. For example, if I were to make a pair of earrings with chip beads it is important to try & find beads that are similar in shape & size so that both the earrings in the pair appear balanced.

I still have quite a few chip beads from “back in the day”- and will even pick up a strand or two here and there at a Gem Show if they catch my eye. My only word of caution is, they can be soft & fragile due to their irregular shape thickness, so if wrapped too tightly they can break.

Here’s some examples of jewelry I have made with gemstone chips:

Malachite

Mookaite

Howlite (dyed)

Turritella agate

Red tiger eye

Lapis lazuli

emeralds

turquoise

amethyst

garnet

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 4: Zipper Pulls

This particular project is combining orphan beads with an excess of nickel lobster clasps. I upgraded to sterling silver lobster clasps sometime ago so I have a wholesale lot of nickel ones sitting around gathering dust.

So applying the same inspirational principle as the key chains and bookmarks, I came up with this zipper pull simply because the metal pull on my girls’ lunch box snapped off.

It gives a nice touch to the usually boring lunch box. IΒ  think these would make cute little gifts for jackets, purses & bags, children’s shoes or even as cell phone charms. Since they are on the lobster clasp, you can easily change the pull to another style as the mood desires. I can see my girls having a lot of fun with these when they get older.

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 3: Keychains

Expanding on yesterday’s post on Beaded Bookmarks – the same theory could be applied to make beautiful & inspirational keychains out of leftover beads:

A little positivity to take with you as you go about the day or a little keepsake for your friends & family to know you care. πŸ™‚

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 2: Beaded Bookmarks

Another great way to use up leftover beads is to adorn bookmarks. Bookmark bases come in a variety of shapes & sizes and best of all are readily available at most bead supply stores – many exist on Etsy. Or, you can buy leather cord and make beaded leather book thongs, also an affordable idea.

I like to include a bookmark in a birthday or Christmas card or if I am giving a book as a gift to personalize it even more.

To make them extra special I acquired some inexpensive word charms to make them an inspirational keepsake.

I also find it easier if I have some inexpensive findings on hand, rather than dipping into my main batch of findings for my jewelry work. I am always on the look out forΒ  wholesale closeouts & sales so that I can acquire a large lot of findings cheaply.

Here you see pewter bead caps which I acquired at wholesale & on sale. Buy a large amount to get the best price, and then store them away for these type of mini projects. These bead caps are pewter & have a nice weight to them…and only cost a few pennies a piece.

Check out my orphan bead project idea: Hair Accessories

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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.Β  heavenlyflower has been featured in:

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

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: Grow-With-Me Toddler Bracelets

The next items I wanted to share from my jewelry box, are actually not for me at all, but for my two little ones.

I designed ID bracelets for them that could be adjusted as they grow (currently my girls are 16 months and almost 3 years). Now as they are very young they wear their bracelets as anklets. The bracelet is one continuous chain. I simply slip the piece over their foot & clasp where comfortable. When they grow large enough that I cannot slip it over their foot anymore, they can continue to wear them as bracelets (I can easily slip the 8 inches of chain over my hand to fit my wrist).

I thought of making them baby bracelets and then as they grow designing larger ones however I like the value of being able to use the same object for as long as possible. My jewelry philosophy is to make something that lasts, so why not make an item for growing children that grows with them.

Both bracelets are constructed out of sterling silver chain. The alphabet beads are culinary grade lead free pewter. Both contain their birthstones in Swarovski crystals & a small charm. I added two small freshwater pearls to Sophie’s design.

See more items from my personal jewelry box. Check out my Wedding Jewelry in this post. πŸ™‚

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Orphan Beads/Leftover Supply Project 1: Hair Accessories

After 12+ years of jewelry making, I have a lot of beads without a home. Meaning, they are leftovers from past projects – from one to a handful – that I just don’t know what to do with. So when I opened my Etsy Shop, I decided to challenge myself to come up with designs using just the orphans & leftovers. πŸ™‚

I am starting a blog series of quick & easy projects that can be done with leftover beads. I hope this helps kick start your creativity and for you beaders, gives you some inspiration as to what to do with those excess supplies.

The main key to these projects is making sure you have an excess of supplies that can be paired with your beads. So I always have on hand inexpensive ring bases, bead caps, hair pins, etc. that can be adorned with beads.

For idea #1, I give you the hairpin/barrette.

Having two little girls – who both were born with a lot of hair – is my inspiration for this project. I started decorating hair pins and barrettes for Sophie when she was 5 months old. She had quite a bit of hair to begin with, and the bangs were growing fast! I found these were a great way to use up the small lots of leftover beads.

I found out one day, that these hair pins also make great bookmarks! I needed to mark my page in a book, and one just happened to be lying around close by. And voila: dual purposed hair pin/bookmark. πŸ™‚

Besides the hair pins I also like to acquire some of the long metal barrettes to bead on:

Other ideas: bead head bands, hair elastics & hair combs. Hair accessories are an affordable supply to keep around for such projects. They are available practically everywhere. I am always picking them up on sale at local department stores or pharmacies. They are even sold these days at you local Dollar Store. πŸ™‚

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Come Tour My Jewelry Box: My Wedding Jewelry Then & Now

After my last post about my prophetic charm bracelet – it gave me the idea to start a series on my personal jewelry collection. Over the past couple of years I have really been pairing down the collection to just a few dear pieces. Here’s the rest of my wedding jewelry, then & now. πŸ™‚

I’m not exactly sure why I picked sapphire blue to be my corresponding wedding colour. I know that I wanted something different than the usual creams and lilacs and lavenders – & I was really into blue. I still find it an amazing “coincidence” that sapphire just happens to be Sophie’s birthstone…another major milestone in my life. πŸ™‚

The earrings, then. Sapphire Swarovski crystals and crystal clear Swarovski drops, on sterling silver components.

The earrings, today. The sterling silver wire has a nice patina now that matches the frame.

The necklace was made up of 4mm Swarovski bicone beads & Swarovski briolettes.

The necklace today:

I wasn’t sure if I would make a headpiece, as it was not something I had a lot of experience with. But after seeing my options on the market, I knew I had to make one. I wanted something really simple & understated rather than the usual bling that is out there for wedding head dress. So, not having much experience with wire, I just let it flow adding a few Swarovski crystal beads here and there.

I made it so that I could be worn as a choker necklace ter the big day.

The “tiara” today: you know I have only worn it as a necklace once since! πŸ™‚

The final piece was a last minute addition, & in the excitement of it all I didn’t get a “then” photo. But here it is “now”, my wedding anklet. πŸ™‚

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My New Comfy Work Chair

So the other day I was at Costco and broke down & bought myself a “proper” chair. I’m not sure exactly what a “proper” chair for jewelry work would be – before my house I was an apartment couch beader, so it’s all new to me.

All I know is, the chair I was sitting on previously – which was lovely by the way – handmade by the previous owner, sturdy and high backed, was still a dining room chair meant to enjoy meals with & not sit for long periods of time hunched over an engraver or beads.

So this was not too bad, $100 plus an instant $20 rebate. It is definitely comfy. My legs don’t fall asleep anymore, and if I lean back while thinking or doing certain kinds of work it is great. But there is still the problem of leaning over to do accuracy work. I still get pain at times in my middle back/between my shoulder blades. Hubby thinks I need a lower desk – I am using a flea market table due to its large size – but then wouldn’t I be hunching over more? Sure sitting on a yoga ball would probably be the best for my posture but terribly impractical – can you imagine – pliers in one hand and jeweler’s glue in the other – yeah, I see an accident waiting to happen. πŸ™‚

So this will do. For now anyway. What is your work bench set up and how do you find it?

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Jewelry Inspired: What Summer Means to Me

Artbeads offered us bloggers a chance to try out some supplies* & design a summer theme. My first instinct is to gravitate toward blues, yellows, pinks, white: bright colours & pastels. Then I stopped myself. That is my assumption of summertime jewelry. But what does summer mean to me?

I grew up in Nova Scotia, so the ocean was never far away. But I grew up in the Annapolis Valley – so the ocean was not the prominent landscape. Now that I live in QuΓ©bec, I live near a lake. So there is indeed water, but like the muddy banks of the Bay of Fundy, it is not the crystal clear blue/green water you will see in the Caribbean. It has more of an earthy quality.

Thinking of where I spend most of my time in the summer months, I like to be outside in my garden: either working with the dirt or relaxing in the shade when it’s too hot. I like to observe the plant life and insects as they exist in harmony with one another.

In the summer, you will see me in a lot of khakis, earth-toned capris & shorts: tank tops – very simple & casual. If I go out to an event, chances are you will see me in a simple black dress and black thong sandals. So it occurred to me – what summer means to me: spending time connecting with the earth & casual socializing.

After this contemplation, I decided to choose two pendants from Artbeads that I thought most represented me in the summer months.

This 18x25mm onyx pendant is hand painted with a butterfly by a Russian artist. Butterflies are very symbolic for me: they represent beauty in nature, as well as transformation – something I strive to do many times in my life. This pendant would be perfect in a casual outfit or little black dress.

As mentioned in my last post, I had a hard time choosing colours for this piece. I just have too many hues of yellow & orange in my vast stash of beads! I ended up going with just a splash of colour with these 4mm jade beads. Too much colour with the black onyx and it would look too halloween-ish or bumble bee-ish! Plus I wanted the beauty of the pendant to take center stage & not get lost in a sea of bright colour. So I used mostly onyx beads (6mm and 4mm), sterling silver chain & bead caps.

When I approached the design for the second pendant, I didn’t have to look far for the perfect matching component. Something about this stoneware pendant reminded me of a particular bead. Was it wood? No. It would have to be a stone, with many different colour layers. Then it hit me: Moukite!

Moukite (or mookaite, “mook jasper”) is a type of jasper found in Australia. I love this stone for it earthy colours & broad patterns – anywhere from reddish-brown, gold, white, or even mauve/pinks! It was the perfect compliment to this pendant, which is made of glazed stoneware clay.

The pendant easily accommodates the 10mm beads. I decided to break up the bulk of the beads & add interest with these 8mm sterling silver twisted rope jump rings, mainly because they reminded me of the pattern of the white flower in the pendant.

I thought I’d share a tip: I wanted the rings to lay flat on the neckline. In order to achieve this, I had to pay close attention to the pattern. I noticed that I had to twist the loop wraps around the single beads (the group of three beads have their loops facing the same direction). I had to make sure that the wrapped loops on the single beads were alternating: meaning, instead of them facing the same direction , I needed to have one facing outward. Here is a picture that hopefully will illustrate what I mean (sorry it’s a bad picture):

I held the loop to the left with my fingers, then gently twisted the loop on the right with my pliers 90 degrees. This variance in the loops means the rings laid flat against my neckline instead of sticking out uncomfortably.


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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! πŸ™‚

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Adventures in Brass: Part Two ~ The Initial Project

My first piece that I made via the brass oxidizing experiment was really, really crude – but it worked up fast. I know my fellow jewelry makers will appreciate the sentiment of just completing a project so that you gain the experience in working with the material – even of the end result is not up to your standards.

The piece turned into two pieces actually – a pair of earrings and a bracelet.

I cut out t he metal using a pair of shears. Then rounded and filed the corners smooth. With a sharpie, I marked where I wanted to punch holes with the screw punch. (You can see another project there on the left working up…for another day. :)). These pictures are straight from the bench, so you see the creative chaos first hand. Sometimes I need to drop what I am doing to develop another idea before I totally forget it. So there are normally many projects on the go at once!

After the holes are punched, I flattened/work hardened the brass using a brass mallet and leather sand bag. Then, the brass pieces were ready for earring assembly…

The completed earrings, with onyx and gold-filled components.

With the rest of the pieces of brass plate, I decided to punch holes – two on each side – and attach together with jump rings.

Sorry terrible pic – but I laid them out staggering the sizes and lightness/darkness from the two brass trophy plates this once was…(and a peek of yet another project in the top right…;)).

Added a magnetic clasp and…there you have it.

These two pieces will be displayed in my workspace as my first ever metal work pieces. I think that it will be neat to see the progression of skill in a few years time. I wish I had of kept the first piece of beaded jewelry I made over eleven years ago! But, I probably sold it! LOL!

Now that I got this get-a-feel-for-techniques project out of the way, my mind is going a mile a minute with ideas. The other projects I am working on involve incorporating the engraver so I am anxious to get them completed and shared. Let’s see how much life gets in the way of play! Stay tuned!

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Adventures in Brass: Part One ~ Oxidizing

I inherited a lot of trophy brass for my engravers. Besides practicing engraving, I thought I would try my hand at some fun techniques and see what happens. I haven’t had any formal training in metal nor have a worked with it before, other than some crude wire work. I just like to think up an idea and try it out and see what comes of it.

The first thing I did was create patterns on the brass plate using a paper embosser.

Then I needed to rub the surface with a very fine steel wool as trophy plate has a coating to protect it from tarnishing. The steel wool will remove the coating and this is the area that we will oxidize. The effect depends on how much of the coating you remove, but generally, the recessed areas will remain with the coating while the top will not.

The brass oxidizer I have is for the colour black and I got it from an engraving supplier, but is available from many sources including jewelry supply shops. This is an acid so you want to wear gloves and keep out of reach of children.

I used a Q-Tip to apply the solution to my brass plate.

I applied the oxidizer evenly over the surface of the brass plate.

Almost instantly, you will see the brass turn black.

Wipe off the excess…and there you have it. Oxidized, patterned brass. I applied a jewelry wax sealer to the end product.

So what to do with this brass plate? Part two will be the a peek into the projects…

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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! πŸ™‚

Finally: while I was organizing photos I came across this photo of my oldest trying her hand at what mommy does. πŸ™‚ 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!