Saturday, December 31, 2011

50!

I'm excited to announce that this is my 50th blog post.

I never thought I'd get here so fast. As you know, when I started this blog in June, I intended to post just once per week -- but I was having so much fun, I changed my mind and added bonus posts. And now here we are!

To celebrate, I'll announce the winner of my giveaway. I'd like to prolong the suspense a little longer, though, so before I name the winner, I'm going to engage in a bit of retrospection.

Since the first post...
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I wrote my very first blog post with some goals in mind. It turns out, I met every one of them! I shared my work several times over. I featured three fantastic artists who use sequins in their jewelry. I did my very first tutorial, and indeed, I shared some of my favorite tools and suppliers.

The only difference is that I posted more about creativity and doing what I love for a living than I'd originally intended. One reason is that there were photography problems in the beginning, but I think things turned out for the best. The Do What You Love posts are a lot of fun to write, and I look forward to doing lots more.

What I've Learned

In the short time I've been blogging, I've made some discoveries. Some of these are technical, like how to include links and photos in my posts, and how to add the nifty Link Within widget, but some of the lessons I've learned have been deeper.

If I could pass any wisdom on to new bloggers, it would be this: do it your way. Expert advice can be valuable, but take it with a grain of salt. Concentrate on what works for you, what you enjoy seeing in blogs, and what makes you happy. If you do what comes naturally, it will show, and you'll attract the right readers -- awesome people who get you. This has certainly been true for me.

The fun parts

There's so much I enjoy about blogging, it's a struggle to narrow my list down to just a few things. But! If I had to name what I like most about it, it would be finding unexpected inspiration for new posts, sharing things that inspire, delight and help people, and making friends with other talented artists. And also coming up with crazy ideas like a 50th post celebration or a showoff box for my artwork.

The hard parts

The toughest part about blogging, for me, isn't coming up with ideas for posts or feeling motivated to write. I have more ideas than I have hours or typing fingers, and I've found that I can write even when I'm tired and stressed beyond belief.

The hardest part about blogging is that feeling of invisibility most new bloggers experience. I don't feel that way now that I've made so many friends and joined groups like Artists in Blogland, but for the first few months, I wondered how to attract readers without seeming pushy. And while I enjoy writing in this blog, and would probably do it even if nobody paid me any mind, sometimes I wonder whether my ideas, and my writing, are any good.

I suppose the cure for self-doubt is to plow ahead regardless, embracing all the little victories and improvements along the way. That's what I've been doing, and so far, it's worked out.


Beyond the 50th Post...

When it comes to my plans for this blog beyond the 50th post, there's a common theme: more.

I want to do more sequin sightings and tutorials (can we say bead embroidery tips???). More WIP Wednesday posts -- including a series on my prom dress from 1997, which I'm embroidering with beads, sequins and embroidery floss. And of course, I'd like to do more giveaways -- the sort that everyone, not just North Americans, can participate in. Maybe something winners can download.

And speaking of winners....


The Winner

And now... the winner of my 50th blog post giveaway!

Super duper congratulations with glitter on top to Melissa Creamer!

To claim your prize, email me with your mailing address.

Thanks for celebrating my 50th post with me! While you're here, check out some of my favorite posts:

Own it!

On Failure and Rejection

Overcoming Creative Block

Let's Make a Deal!


Have a sequintastic day and a sparkleriffic New Year!! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I heart bead embroidery! Part II.

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

The seed bead obsession continues. I can't wait to show you what I've been working on, but first, I'd like to thank -- and virtually hug -- all the wonderful, amazing people who responded to my previous entry. Your support means more to me than I can express in one journal entry! I truly am lucky to have you in my life.

And now... bead embroidery.

Here's another beaded heart, titled... My Beading Heart. I can't resist a pun!

This piece uses seed beads, sequins, buttons, colored copper wire, and even some plastic electrical wire coating, which looks just like bugle beads when cut into pieces -- with the added benefit that the softer edges won't cause the thread to break. I love the rainbow color scheme.

This is a smaller beaded heart. It's about half the size of the others, but still a dramatic statement piece. It has many of the same ingredients as my other beaded hearts, but the construction is slightly different.

To create the heart shape on this one, I traced a heart onto tissue paper, taped it to my backing, then beaded along the lines. When I had my nice, crisp outline, I tore the paper away. Then all I had to do was bead inside the lines and trim away the excess fabric. The result was clean, quick, and easier than trying to bead freehand.

Besides the tissue paper technique, I learned something important: if beads won't fit into a space, don't force them. It might look all right at first, but after awhile, the beads will lift off the backing, and it's a challenge (read: a total pain) to anchor them down again. So if size 11 is too much, switch to 15... or leave the space blank. Your piece will thank you.

Those are the only heart-themed pieces I have to show. I have plenty more eye candy, though, which I've saved for another post. Stay tuned! One of my most exciting pieces is coming up.

Have a sequintastic day, and I hope your weekend is full of good people, good food, and sparkly things, whether you celebrate the holidays or not! Because you're awesome.

Love,

Sarah Sequins

(PS: Also, have a look at what the Artists in Blogland are doing this week! They're such a talented group.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On a more personal note

For me, being genuine is an important part of keeping this blog. There are parts of my life I won't share because they're too personal, or because they're not relevant to the things I write about here, but there are also things that affect every aspect of my life, including my art. It feels false to ignore them.

So... no more ignoring.

I'm going through a rough time right now, and I have been since November. I don't want to go into too much detail, but I'm having a health scare. What I'd hoped was a false alarm turned out to be more than that. Not a whole lot more than that -- it's the kind of thing that usually doesn't turn out to be serious unless it's left untreated for years and years. But it's still a thing, and there's still a possibility, however remote, that it could turn into something bad. And the possibility has me scared out of my wits.

Yesterday was a day for being disappointed, then scared, then upset. And then scared again. I tend to project into the future and imagine the scariest possible outcome -- I think it's my writer's imagination. I'm sure there will be more days like that, but you know what? I don't want it to be like that every day. That much misery is draining. And, frankly, boring.

So in the months to come, my task will be to enjoy life even when there are stressful things going on in it. To pay attention to the wonderful things around me, even when the awful things are screaming at the top of their lungs. There's going to be a lot of conscious effort involved, but I do have a plan.

I'm going to continue to throw myself into my jewelry work. Bead embroidery has been such an amazing thing in my life. Every piece I make is like a message to myself that no matter what happens, I'm still me, I'm still awesome, and I make beautiful things. So I'll let my creativity have free reign and really surprise myself. Tackle some of those crazy ideas that have been gathering dust in the back of my brain.

I'm going to do as many nice things as possible for myself -- spend time with friends, have craft parties, see movies, and learn interesting things (including more beading techniques). I'll try to focus on all the things I have to look forward to, like the Bead and Button Show this summer, and Mama Sequin's chocolate coconut cherry cookies over the holidays, and a Zoe Keating concert this February. I'm also going to take stock of all the great things going on right this minute, like this blog and the wonderful people I've met as a result, and my fantastic friends, and Mr. Sequin.

I'm going to work on my jewelry career again. For the past month and a half, it's felt like my life has been on hold, like I've been holding my breath and waiting to see what's going to happen. I need to breathe again. Time to work on magazine submissions, my Etsy store, and a dozen other things. I like to think of it as thumbing my nose at my fear.

Finally, I'm going to accept whatever lesson this experience has in store for me. If I let it, it can teach and shape me as much as that injury did. I don't expect it to be easy, and I certainly don't expect to go through the next few months without the occasional (or more frequent) private pity party, but as long as I'm open to the idea, this health scare doesn't have to break me.

So that's where I am right now. Thank you, a million times over, for reading this post, and thank you to all the brave bloggers and artists out there who've inspired me through their own honest and candid writing. Either later today, or tomorrow, regular sharing of sparklies will resume. For now, I'm to rest and take it easy. And to eat lots and lots of chocolate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I heart bead embroidery!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

The bead embroidery obsession continues, and I love the direction it's heading in!


Here's my Beady Heart necklace. By far, the most complicated bead embroidered piece I've ever made.

I used sequins, seed beads, buttons, and Czech glass beads. I also used colored copper wire. This is the first time I've ever used wire in my embroidery, and I love how it turned out! I'll definitely use it again.

And here's an extreme closeup! Besides the heart shape and the placement of the buttons and wire, this design wasn't planned -- it was freeform. This meant a lot of thinking on my feet, figuring out which size/shape/color of bead I needed to go where, and putting them together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

Beady Heart was a ton of fun to make, and I'm beyond proud of how it turned out. This is the type of beading I've wanted to do for years! Big, beautiful, colorful, intricate. I'm currently working on a second heart in every color of the rainbow, and I'm eager to show that one off, too -- just as soon as I finish it.

What's next on my project list? Well, I'm itching to do a two part necklace, where I make two separate components and put them together. So that's probably what I'm going to do. I'm also working on a multimedia piece, though, where I combine beading and... painting. So stay tuned for that!

Thanks for stopping by, sparkleriffic readers! Have a sequintastic day. But before you go, we're on post 46 on my countdown to 50 blog posts! If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to read about my giveaway and earn five extra entries.

Also, check out Artists in Blogland!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday: 45!

I'd like to start off with an apology. I meant to post this yesterday, but I was bitten by the beading bug, big time! By the time I realized I was supposed to write in my blog, it was 11:30 at night -- and my hands and shoulders were exhausted from so much embroidery.

So here I am, posting today. We're on post 45 out of 50, and I thought I'd make my giveaway a little more interesting by giving you, my sequintastic readers, a chance to increase your chances of winning!

All you have to do is answer the following question in the comments, and you'll get an extra five -- FIVE -- entries. Are you ready?

As I've mentioned before, the prize is a box of sparklies. Lots of sequins, some plastic rhinestones, some ribbon, some sequin trim, and other odds and ends, which are a surprise. They can be used in a number of ways, from jewelry to holiday cards and ornaments to embellishment on paper projects.

Question: If you were to win, what with you do with your new sparklies?


I'm looking forward to your answers!

Have a sequintastic day! Rest assured, mine will be a low key one. I need to give my aching muscles a break.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Eye Candy! Art Every Day Month (IV)

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

The end of November means the end of Art Every Day Month, sadly, but it doesn't mean the end of sharing! Today I'd like to share my final projects for November, which the lovely Mr. Sequin finished photographing just a few moments ago.

You might remember this beady bag from my very first WIP Wednesday. It was my first venture into bead weaving in many, many years, and I took the month of November to finish it. I added the necklace portion, which is adjustable in length, and finished the sequin fringe.

I love how this turned out! I'd definitely do bead weaving again. Maybe... make a ring to go with this bag. I'd also like to make a larger bag, which I could use as a business card holder. That way I'll always be prepared!

Here's another beaded cabochon pendant. I probably say this about every cabochon necklace I make, but this is one of my favorites! I love the size (huge) and I love the colors. I also love the way the sequin fringe turned out on this one.

I'm still having a great time with bead embroidery, and I have several dozen project ideas in mind. I can't wait to show off my most recent one, because it's seriously epic, and I've learned so much from it -- but I still haven't put the backing on, so I'll post it another day.

In the meantime, check out what the talented Artists in Blogland have been up to this week.

Also, if you haven't already, read about my latest Featured Friday artist!

And finally, we're on post 44 out of 50, so be sure to enter to win my 50th post giveaway! Tomorrow I'll give you a special chance to win extra entries -- five per comment. How does that sound?

Have a sequintastic Saturday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Featured Friday: Gerda Aleksandra

Welcome to another Featured Friday at Saturday Sequins! Today we'll take a look at the work of UK-based Gerda Aleksandra.

When I found Gerda's Etsy Shop and saw that she'd combined wire crochet with sequins, I was surprised and impressed. I don't have experience with wire crochet, so I wouldn't have thought of the combination, but as you'll see, it works. Really well, in fact.

Her sequin flower necklace, found here, is so elegant! It's one of those pieces you could wear throughout the year. The delicate flowers are perfect for Spring, but since they're white, they also make me think of snowflakes, making this a stunning Winter necklace.

I could also see this as a bridal necklace, couldn't you?

Then there's her crocheted wire detail statement necklace, available here. It's just gorgeous, and I love the way the sequins look on the wire. It almost looks like they're floating in place.

Gerda is also a talented knitter. Check out her Etsy shop and give her some love! I know I'll continue to go back to see the beautiful things she makes.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a sequintastic day! While you're here, have a look at my previous Featured Friday posts on Rachel and Shana.

Also, read about my 50th post giveaway! We're on 43 out of 50 now, so you have plenty of chances to enter.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eye Candy! Art Every Day Month (III)

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins! Art Every Day Month continues, and for me it's gotten a little... beady.

OK, it's gotten very beady! I continue to love, love, love beading cabochons.


I'm not just beading cabochons, though! I've discovered that I like the way buttons look. This piece is made of seed beads, a button I had in my stash of sparkly things, and lots and lots of sequins.

I love how this one turned out! I've discovered a way to make adding fringe easier, which is to add it before, and not after, sewing the backing on -- which cuts down on having to weave so many threads through the beads. There wasn't a single broken bead in this project.

I also found, by happy accident, that putting a layer of clear packing tape on the back of leather and vinyl makes them stiffer, sturdier, and easier to bead. Such a good thing for me, because I don't have any Nicole's Bead Backing or Lacy's Stiff Stuff lurking around.


This is my favorite piece so far. It features faceted glass beads, another button, seed beads, and lots and lots of sequin fringe.

I made the front of this one pre-tape, so it's a bit domed, but I don't mind so much. I'm thrilled with the colors, and I love how the sequins look. This makes me want to make a pair of sequin fringe earrings.



And finally... beady, but not jewelry. I made this at the art party Mr. Sequin and I hosted last weekend. It's a little tree ornament for Mr. Sequin's mom, Mama Sequin, and I made it from felt, sequins and seed beads.

I don't do much in the way of holiday decoration, and I prefer to see trees outside, and not in my living room. That said, I can see myself making a ton of these because they're so cute! In fact, if enough people are interested, I would be happy to do a tutorial. You could make a pendant as easily as an ornament.

And that concludes today's show and tell! While you're here, check out Shana's work in my latest Featured Friday post.

Also, read about the 50th post giveaway I'm doing! This is 42 out of 50, so the winner will be announced... 8 posts from now.

Thanks for reading! Have a sequintastic day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Featured Friday: Shana Astrachan

Welcome to another Featured Friday at Saturday Sequins! Today we'll take a look at the work of Shana Astrachan.

I found Shana through one of The Beading Gem's posts on sequin jewelry. I was immediately impressed! Shana does a great job of showing how versatile sequins are as jewelry components, using them in interesting and unexpected ways to create spectacular pieces. Such as....


Her sequin lace earrings, available in several colors here! I would never have thought of connecting sequins like this, and I just love the idea.Link


Her pink scoop ring. Felted mohair and silk in a sterling silver setting. I love this piece! It reminds me of strawberry ice cream.


Her sequin bib necklace, also available in a variety of colors.


Her sequin diamond necklace. Can you tell that the pink sequins are my favorite?


Her felted band rings. Such an unexpected, yet completely gorgeous, combination of materials!


Shana was also kind enough to send me a photo of her wall installation. A creative and attractive way to showcase her work. So clever.

She doesn't just work with sequins, though -- she's also an accomplished metalsmith. Stop by her Etsy shop to see the rest of her fantastic work and give her some love!

While you're here, check out my previous featured artist.

Also, we're on post 41 out of 50! Remember to enter my 50th post giveaway. Win a box of sparkly things! You know you can't resist.

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

Miscellaneous Monday: 40!

40! And a giveaway.



Hello, everyone!

Is it my birthday, you ask? The big 4-0? Nope! That won't happen for a few years.

As I write this entry, however, it's my 40th blog post, which means I'm just 10 posts away from the 50th.

This is exciting to me! When I started this blog, I had no idea if I would like blogging. I certainly had no idea that I would love it, or that Saturday Sequins would become such a huge part of my life and my identity.

Which is why I've decided to do a countdown to the 50th post. Not only that, but when I get to 50, I'm going to do a special post! There will be reflection, lists of various types, pictures, and even a giveaway... as in, one of you darling readers will receive a repurposed video cassette case full of sparklies.

(Who doesn't love sparklies?)

There will be sequins, rhinestones, ribbons, glitter... whatever I can cram into the cassette box! Expect more details soon. And in the meantime....

How to enter:

Leave a comment on this or any post I make between now and the giveaway. Enter as many times as you'd like. Extra points if you tweet about the giveaway, post about it on other social networking sites, or mention it on your own blog -- just make sure you let me know about it, because I'm easily distracted by shiny objects and might not know, otherwise.

Each time you enter, your name will be written on a piece of paper and put into a hat -- and by hat, I actually mean a repurposed oatmeal container decorated in sequins and paint. The winner will be chosen at random.

Restrictions:

Giveaway is restricted to residents of US and Canada.

Family members/spouses of Sarah Sequins may not participate.

Friends/adopted family members of Sarah Sequins are welcome to participate.

I hope you're as excited as I am! Thanks for reading, thanks for participating, and have a sequintastic day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eye Candy! Art Every Day Month (II)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today's topic? More show and tell from Art Every Day Month. I was a busy, busy girl these past few days. My novel fell completely by the wayside as I discovered a new passion... bead embroidery.
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This is one of the first beaded cabochon projects I've ever made. I used a sew-on rhinestone, layered sequins, lots of seed beads, and some terrific black vinyl fabric I got from JoAnn Fabrics.

I love the design and the colors, and I learned a lot from this project -- including that I should leave some room for extra thread in my beads, because otherwise, they can break when I add the necklace portion! Fixable, but not fun.



This is the second cabochon I've ever done, and the first time I've ever put the backing on (I did the backing on the other piece when I knew what I was doing). It was intimidating at first, but when I got going, it turned out to be fun and easy!

I love the colors on this, and the back of it is so clean and flawless. I'm very happy with this project, and I can't wait to try another one... with some sequin fringe.

If you're wondering where I learned to bead cabochons, it was from Jamie Cloud Eakin's book, Beading With Cabochons. I love this book! I don't want to return it to the library, and I want her next book for my collection.

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And finally... one of my WIP Wednesday necklaces is finished! I love how it turned out. The little red sequins at the bottom were the perfect finishing touch. I'm happy to have this project finished, and I'm itching to do another one with the first neck wire I made. I'm not sure what direction I'll take it in, but rest assured, it will be sparkly.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a sequintastic Saturday, and while you're here, check out my very first Featured Friday post. Believe me, you'll be glad you did!

(Also, be sure to see what the talented Artists in Blogland have been up to.)

Featured Friday: Empress Eccentric

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Featured Friday at Saturday Sequins -- a series of posts in which I'll share jewelry from some of my favorite jewelry artisans.

As you know, I make sequin jewelry. I'm also a fan of it, and of people who make it. When I found UK-based Rachel of Empress Eccentric on Etsy, I was beyond thrilled, and I knew I just had to have her as my first featured artist.

Link(Rachel's pink chandelier earrings, available here!)

As a designer, Rachel believes that jewelry should be bright and vibrant. The inspiration for these gorgeous earrings comes from Bollywood films and culture. They're eye-catching and lightweight, perfect for dancers.

(Her sea green chandelier earrings, available here!)

(Absolutely precious blue heart chandelier earrings.)


(Gold chandelier earrings... aren't you just drooling?)

(And my personal favorite... the red chandelier earrings.)

If I were a dancer, I could see myself wearing any of these sequintastic pieces. Sequins catch the light in just the right way, adding extra drama to movement. I could also see pairing them with my favorite t-shirt and jeans for a little extra pizzaz or at a formal occasion... like a holiday party, when it comes to the red and green ones.

Thanks for stopping by for my very first Featured Friday! Many more to come, I promise. And while you wait for the next one, I encourage you to stop by Rachel's Etsy shop and give her some well-deserved love.

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

Would you like to be a Featured Friday artist? Let me know! I now have a Contact page.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Share with me Sunday: Artsy/Crafty Blogs!

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another Share With Me Sunday.

One thing I love about blogging is finding other blogs to read. I love meeting artists, seeing their work, and getting to know the people behind the fantastic creations. I currently follow about 70 blogs, and I'm always looking for new ones.

Here are some of my favorites! Listed alphabetically, just because.

Crafting Rebellion is an awesome source of crafty projects and DIY. So many cute things!

Craft. You. Here's a relatively new blog by the wonderful and talented Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter. No matter how I'm feeling on a particular day, she always seems to have a blog post that cheers me up. It's like she has a direct view into the collection of sequins, wire, ribbon and rhinestones that is my brain.

Margot make all sorts of beautiful things. She's also a writer, and a fabulous one at that.

Jenibellie Studio. I've mentioned Jenny's amazing work before. She inspires me every day with her gorgeous art journals and tutorials and drawings. She even makes paper beads!

My Bead Therapy. Heidi makes these adorable birdhouse pendants. I also love the thought and care she puts into her packaging.

Plays with Needles. Oh my gosh. Susan's work. She does embroidery like I've never seen before! So many sparklies.

Stripes and Sequins. Grace is a girl after my own heart. She features a lot of great DIY projects and inspiration, and she shares my love of sparkly things.

Thanks, I Made It. Erin does some fantastic DIY projects. And look! She loves sequins, too! I'm especially in love with the pink sequin collar she made.

There are so, so many other blogs I read and love. I'll share more of them in another post, of that you can be certain. Now I'd like to hear from you! Are you an artist whose blog I haven't discovered? Do you have a list of artsy/craftsy blogs you'd like to promote? This is the place!

Thanks for sharing, and have a sequintastic Sunday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eye Candy! Art Every Day Month.

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins.

I've been seriously slacking on my Art Every Day and NaNoWriMo projects these past few days because I've been getting things ready for my Etsy store. But here are some of the things I mentioned in my last post!



This is my pinwheel pendant, made out of copper wire, seed beads and faceted glass beads. It took me awhile to make, but I love how it turned out! Next time I'd like to connect the spokes with jump rings instead of wire -- this will give me room to attach danglies. We'll see how that goes.


LinkHere are some earrings I made out of copper wire, faceted glass beads, and purple sequins. I had this idea in my head for a few weeks, and it's wonderful to see it complete. You might not be able to tell from the photo, but these are very large earrings! Next time I may use less 18 gauge wire to make the ovals.


I didn't make this one for Art Every Day Month. It's actually one of my creativity challenges, but I'm so excited to finally have a photo of it, I just had to share it with you. This necklace is called Atoms and is made with tiny aluminum and rubber jump rings from Blue Buddha Boutique. I also added some sequins to the bottom -- of course -- and some Swarovski crystals on silver headpins that I torched. Sadly, these rubber rings have been discontinued, but I'm looking forward to the day they return.

And that wraps up my finished pieces for Art Every Day Month! In between photographing and tagging and writing descriptions of the jewelry I'll sell, I hope to have more pieces to show off.

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day! If you're participating in AEDM, I'd love to see what you've been working on.

PS: Also, check out what the talented and wonderful people at Artists in Blogland have been up to! You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Work in progress Wednesday! Part II

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I've been busy, busy, busy with two November challenges. The first is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. That particular work in progress is coming along nicely, with 12,590 words, and counting. So far, there have been wicked stepmothers, portals to other worlds, and butterflies. Many more fantastic things to come.

The second is Art Every Day Month, which has been a ton of fun. While I haven't made a different piece every day, I've made some lovely things, including a pinwheel pendant, a pair of sparkly, dangly earrings, and a sequin charm bracelet. I'll share those later on this week, but for now I'd like to share something else I've been working on. You may recognize it from the previous WIP Wednesday.


After a false start, I'm on the right path with this project! I love the beaded links, and I love the color scheme. I can't wait to finish it, which will mean getting out my jeweler's saw and my copper wire and making some more jump rings so I can add more sparkly components.

Are you participating in either of these creative challenges? What are you working on?

(Even if you're not doing either of these, I'd love to hear about your latest project.)

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On failure and rejection.

This summer I applied, for the first time, to be a teacher at a bead show. About a week ago, they returned my jewelry samples, along with one of the kindest, gentlest rejection letters I've ever read.

It was still a rejection letter, though, and it was disappointing to get it. I was hoping this was my Big Chance to break into jewelry instruction... and to earn more money to buy beads from BeadAlgo.

Sad, right? But not the end of the world. In fact, it might even be good for me in the long run.

I remember the second semester of my infamous chemistry class. After a successful first semester, I was a little bit cocky, and I didn't study as hard as I should have. I got a 75 on the first exam. I was upset at first, and embarrassed, but I realized it was a wake up call to study harder and better.

I went beyond the easy problems in my textbook and focused on the practice tests the instructor had given us. I did them until I was sick of them! The next exam was brutal, but while the top students in the class got scores in the 60s and 70's... I got an 87.

And the test after that? I got a 98. It would have been 100, if only I hadn't changed one of my answers on the multiple choice.

I learned two important lessons from that experience. One, working efficiently is just as important as working hard. Two, failure can be a good thing because as long as you let it, it can be a stepping stone to even greater success.

The classes I submitted to the bead show were fun and original, but they weren't my best. For reasons both outside of and within my control, I did a rushed job. Now I have time to make my good classes great. To polish the instructions, add photos, and present bigger, cooler projects. I have a humble goal, which is this: to send in such an awesome application, the lovely folks at the bead show beg me to teach. At which point I will cheerfully and enthusiastically accept. And perhaps bake them cookies.

So if you've been rejected, if you've failed to reach one of your goals, it's OK to be disappointed and sad. For a little while. But then, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and know that you succeeded where it's most important -- in putting yourself out there. Failure isn't a reflection of who you are, because you are awesome (I am a Doctor of Sparkly Things, so I must be right).

And who knows? It might be the kick in the pants you need.
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PS: There is now a second part to this post, which you can read here!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday: Soup Week!


As you may know, one of the many hats I wear in life is that of chef. I love, love, love, experimenting with food and coming up with new recipes -- almost as much as I love eating them.

I also love sharing the things I make. There's something incredibly satisfying about feeding people delicious things, especially when they're starving, and maybe in need of cheering up after a long day.

I wish I could invite all of you over for a dinner party. We'd have such a blast! But since many of you are far away, I'll settle for sharing the recipe for one of my favorite soups. Today I'll be a guest blogger over at Pink Audrey's blog, and I'll post the recipe for my vegetarian black bean soup. So spicy, so good, and so good for you! The perfect soup for colder weather.

I hope you get to make and enjoy the soup! Have a spooktastic Halloween and a sequintastic day!

Edit: Also check out Tasty Tuesday on For the Love of Blogs (http://forblogs.blogspot.com/2011/11/tasty-tuesday-lovers.html). There are plenty of recipes there, too!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Share With Me Sunday: favorite suppliers!

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to another Share With Me Sunday!

Today, I'll be sharing more of my favorite suppliers, and asking you to share yours.

In this post, I shared some of my favorite suppliers, but I didn't share all of them. In no particular order, I present to you...

1.) Fiskars. Oh, Fiskars. They make so many wonderful products! I love their hand drill, and I'm so, so happy with their series of hand punches. I have the 1/16 inch circular punch for adding holes to confetti to make sequins, and also their heart punch, which is perfect for making tiny heart-shaped sequins and confetti. Now I've got my eye on their paper trimmers. But which one? Hmm....

2.) M&J Trimming. I haven't ordered from them yet, but I know several people who have, and I've heard only good things. I had a look at their sequin selection, and it's fairly impressive! I see an order in my future. :)

3.) My elements. Yvonne makes these beautiful, colorful, incredible, and often sparkly, Plexiglass components, and I look for her booth every year at the Bead and Button Show. She also sells colorful rubber rings, which are perfect for chainmaille projects.

4.) The Ring Lord. What a selection! I love the rubber rings, especially the black ones. They're so pretty, and so sturdy! One of these days, I'll have to post some photos of the little handbags I made with those and aluminum rings from Blue Buddha Boutique.

But enough from me -- what are some of your favorite suppliers of all things crafty? Whether you're a beader, a maille expert, a book artist, a knitter, a scrapbooker, I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day... and a spooktastic Halloween!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maybe it's the process.

(Before I get started... here's a photo of me wearing my new favorite earrings for Show Off Your Maille Week. I love the way the matte silver sequins look with aluminum jump rings from Blue Buddha Boutique!)


Maybe it's the process.

When I started writing fiction, I had a steep learning curve. Sometimes it felt vertical -- you know, kind of like a brick wall?

I had no shortage of plots and characters that excited me. My work hours were flexible, so I could schedule my writing whenever I wanted. I also had an ideal workspace. When it wasn't the living room couch, it was everywhere else. The car, hotel rooms, restaurants.

But for the first few years, I never finished a thing. At first I thought I wasn't meant to be a writer. While people who read my stories said they were good, good wasn't the same as complete.

It took some time, but I realized that my process was all wrong, and not necessarily my writing. I'd write these random, unconnected scenes and try to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle... and what I ended up with was the world's craziest crazy quilt. Then I'd print out my manuscripts and proceed to fill them with tiny, cramped letters, upside down in the margins. Little arrows everywhere.

(What were you pointing to, arrows? To this day, I'm not sure.)

In short? I made writing harder than it needed to be!

I started refining my technique. I wrote pieces from start to finish, like knitting a scarf instead of piecing a quilt. I typed my suggestions to myself in nice, clean, readable letters. No arrows! As a result, I finished rough drafts of a novel and six novella-length pieces.

What I've learned is this: whether you're writing a novel or running a business, the wrong process can hold you back. It can disguise itself as a lack of drive or talent, but once you recognize that you need a better approach, (usually a simpler one) you can change the way you work.

How do you do this? Identify where you're creating needless work for yourself. Then brainstorm ways to make things easier. You might have to experiment a little, and you might discover what doesn't work before you discover what does, but I promise, it will be worth your while.

Don't rule out the possibility of asking other people how they work. You can learn a lot that way! If I hadn't listened to a friend who insisted that sometimes a total rewrite is the only way to salvage a story, I wouldn't have written one of my novellas.

Keep in mind, though, that there's no such thing as a one size fits all approach to process, or to success -- so do your research, ask around, but if something seems wrong to you, or makes you want to give up completely, then don't do it! Better to have an overly complicated approach for now than to adopt one that makes you miserable.

Certain writers and artists go on about how their field is cluttered with mediocre, undisciplined, untalented people who just aren't meant to do the things they love. I think that 7 times out of 10, that's a bunch of hooey (and 10 times out of 10, nobody's business -- but that's a story for another time)! There are plenty of people who are phenomenally gifted, but who are also disorganized or prone to over-complicating things. The wonderful thing is, they can learn to ditch work habits that don't work.

So if you find yourself having a tough time, don't despair. Odds are, it's not your product that's the problem -- it's just the process!

Are your work habits solid, or is there something you need to change? Please share!

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Work in progress Wednesday!

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my very first Work in Progress Wednesday. The theme, as you might have guessed, is jewelry projects I'm working on, but haven't quite gotten around to finishing. To motivate myself to complete them and to share my creative process, I'll post pictures... like these!


I thought I'd share my favorite one first. This is a beady bag I'm working on. After an eight year hiatus from weaving seed beads, I found myself inspired by the wonderful work Kate McKinnon and Dustin Wedekind have been doing and absolutely itching to start weaving again. With a sequintastic twist, of course.

My plans for the bag include: adding more sequin fringe and turning the bag into a necklace... possibly adjustable. I've decided to keep it simple-ish because I want the color pattern to stand out, and not be lost in a sea of sparklies.

This is my first experiment with 10 gauge copper wire, and may I just say... I'm in love? I want to marry 10 gauge copper wire and make lots of little neck wires with it. ;)

I'm also very fond of my stainless steel utensil holder as a necklace mandrel. The ones they sell at Rio Grande are gorgeous, but too expensive! The utensil holder is just the right size for a fraction of the price. To get the nice round shape I taped the ends together and hammered the wire in sections with my rawhide mallet. Kind of like shaping a ring on a ring mandrel.

Plans for this neck wire include: adding lots and lots of sequin fringe! Which will mean making lots and lots of jump rings. I'm probably going with a red and orange color theme, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

And finally, here's another neck wire I made with the swoon-worthy copper wire. The loops in this one are a little more even because I formed each one around a mandrel. I also wrapped the wire all the way around this time, and I like the effect.

So far I've tied some ribbons to it, but I have a lot of other plans for it. It's hard to describe, so I'll just say I'm going to add a lot of colorful, crazy stuff to it, most definitely including sequins, but also including beads and metal and... and we'll see.

And that concludes WIP Wednesday! So tell me. What are you working on?

Also, check out what the awesome Artists in Blogland have been up to.

Thanks for reading! Have a sequintastic day!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Share with me Sunday: Exciting things!

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Share With Me Sunday! A chance for us to get to know each other and share the things we love, whether they're books, projects, ideas, blogs, or even pictures of our socks (which I always welcome).

The rules are simple! Share anything related to the topic. I only ask that if you include a link, you also copy and paste the entire URL into the comment box for those who want to be sure they're clicking on what they think they're clicking on... and not, say, a video of Rick Astley. ;)

Today's topic is things we're excited about! Here's my list:

1.) Did you know that November isn't just National Novel Writing Month, but Art Every Day Month? I recently found out from one of my favorite blogging buddies and book artists, Miss Jennibellie. Want to join in our fun? Sign up here!

I'm not just excited because I'll be making art each day. I'm excited because I'll be making different kinds of art! I have my work table in the studio set up with jewelry, painting, and sewing projects, and I'm going to let myself move from project to project with total freedom. I'll even be making some itty bitty books out of playing cards.

2.) It's almost Halloween!!! I'm going to a costume party, and then after that, I'm eating Thai food and telling scary stories with friends. What's my costume? Well, the theme is Evil Carnival, so I'll be an evil fortune teller. Using this as my excuse to wear my Big Flashy Jewelry and twirly skirt.

3.) Soup week over at Pink Audrey's blog!!! I'll be a guest blogger and sharing a recipe for my favorite soup ever... spicy black bean soup. I can't wait to see what she and other guests are making.

4.) Three words. Creative Reuse Centers. I'll be writing more about them later, but for now, did you know they're all over the United States? They're a great way to turn your trash into someone else's treasure, keep useful materials from ending up in landfills, support struggling artists and teachers who need supplies, declutter, and find a lot of cool stuff for cheap. Yes, I've found sequins in places like this. And beads. And rhinestones. And cardboard and paper for my first ever book art projects.

5.) Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. This is a book I'm recommending to everyone, and with good reason! For most of my life I thought I was scatterbrained for liking painting and jewelry making and writing and foreign languages and cooking and singing and writing music and embroidery and physics and all the other things I like, and for not settling down with just one. Then I decided to accept it... and almost as soon as I did, a friend blogged about this book. As I was coming to realize, it's actually amazing and awesome that my mind works the way it does.

This book is great for multi-talented people, but it's also great for anyone who has trouble with time management and organization. Each and every time I read this book, I learn something else that changes my life for the better! Which is why I only read little sections at a time. It can be overwhelming, in a good way.

There's a lot more I'm excited about, but I want to hear from you! So start sharing, whether it's today or three months from today! And keep sharing. If you forget to add something, come on back and add it. :)

Have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beyond "can't."

When I was younger, my philosophy was this: get by doing what you're good at, and don't even bother with the rest. This led to a life of avoiding things that were the slightest bit challenging. Math. Riding a bike. Learning to read music. As you might guess, my skills in problem solving and persistence were sorely underdeveloped.

I might have continued in this direction, if it wasn't for one amazing person. In an earlier post, I mentioned my time in the pre-med program where I took nothing but math and science courses. All subjects that weren't my strong points, or so I thought at the time. My very first science course was General Chemistry, taught by the toughest professor in the department. His tests were legendary and could take five to seven hours to finish!

He was also the nicest, most caring professor -- and person -- as I found out during my first week. I showed up in his office asking for help with the homework assignment, and in my usual fashion, I'd done none of the problems and expected him to spoon-feed me every step of the way. He told me he was happy to help me any time, but that I'd get more out of our sessions together if I tried the problems first. Even if I just wrote down what I knew and what I needed to know.

I didn't like this answer. Doesn't he know I can't do this on my own? I thought. But part of me trusted him, so I went home and did as he suggested. The next day I came to his office slightly embarrassed, because I only had two questions, and they were little ones! He wasn't surprised. He just laughed and said "I told you so," and that was the beginning of a lovely friendship -- with him, and with science (as long as it had a little math in it -- apparently, I'm better at it than I'd thought!).

It was also the beginning of a long road to developing my problem solving skills and improving my attitude. It's taken some time and hard work, and I've had some setbacks along the way, but now, when I catch myself thinking "I can't," I say to myself: "Oh, yeah? We'll see."

I most definitely used this approach when it came to doing what I love for a living! At first, I considered all the steps involved in having a successful jewelry making business and thought there was no way I could do it. But then I took this thought as a challenge. I decided to call my bluff. "You can't, huh?" I said out loud. "Fine. Then prove it." It was only once I'd put some actual time and effort into my dream that I would allow myself to decide whether it was impossible.

So far, I've found that making an informed decision is hard! But every day I work on it. I take intimidating tasks and break them up into tiny little steps. As tiny as jotting down ideas for a blog post, drafting an email, setting up an empty Etsy account. I push myself to take one or more little steps every day, depending on what else I've got going on in my life, and I congratulate myself after I complete each task. And then I keep pushing.

And even though this is tough for someone whose ability to problem solve is still developing, I've noticed something interesting. A snowball effect. The more I push my boundaries, the more I find myself doing things I never would have imagined. I have to say, these little successes feel wonderful! Just like my Chemistry class, they're an invaluable learning experience.

They also help me realize that often, "I can't" doesn't really mean "I can't." It can mean "I don't know how... just yet." It can mean "I don't know how to get started... just yet." It can mean "I'm scared." These thoughts are much easier to deal with. :)

So how about you? What things do you believe you "can't" do? What's one tiny step you could take towards finding out if this is really true?

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

PS: Also, today I was featured on The Beading Gem's journal! This makes me more excited than I can express in a blog post, and so I'd like you to picture me dancing around the living room with my Halloween socks and my pajamas on... which is what I was totally doing this morning. :)

PPS: I recently wrote an article for the Daily Muse on coping with a muscle injury. Check it out, and check out the Muse, itself! It's run by really kind, caring, sweet, wonderful people and has a lot of good stories.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spooky Sparkly Sequin Spiders!

Saturday Sequins Presents... a very scary Halloween tutorial.



Hello, everyone! Welcome to today's Tutorial Tuesday post.

As you might have guessed from my blog banner and collection of colorful socks, Halloween is a big deal to me. So big, in fact, that I don't just celebrate it on the 31st, but throughout the entire month of October... and any time I need cheering up.

There are few things I love as much as I love Halloween. It's tied with my love of sparkly things, so I thought... why not combine the two and create these spooky sparkly earrings?


(Aren't they adorable? I mean, for spiders...)

To make the earrings, you'll need the following tools: wire cutters, two pairs of chain nose or flat nose pliers, and a 1/16 " circular handheld paper punch, which you can find in the scrapbooking section of your local craft store. I prefer the Fiskars brand, which you can also order online.

You'll also need the following materials: fine silver-plated chain, earring wires, size D20 jump rings (20 gauge, 3.2 mm inner diameter) from Blue Buddha Boutique or a similar size from your local craft store, 20 mm paillette sequins in the color of your choice, and spider confetti.

(Yes, that's tape on my pliers. It keeps me from marring metal with my... death grip.)


Now, here's how you make them:

1.) Open 2 jump rings with your pliers.

2.) Cut a length of chain about 1.5 inches long, or longer if you prefer.

3.) Attach the chain to an earring wire with a jump ring.

(First the ring goes through the chain...)

(And then it goes through the earring wire! And we close the ring.)

4.) Use your paper punch to punch a hole in two pieces of spider confetti. If the confetti gets stuck on the metal part of the punch, gently pry it loose with your fingernails (I use my thumb nails).

(Don't worry, spider. This hurts me more than it hurts you!)

5.) Add your sequins to the other jump ring in the following order: spider, paillette, spider. That way, no matter which way you're facing, there will always be a spider.

(Normally this isn't a good thing. I'm so glad these are just sequins!)

6.) Then attach this rings, with the sequins, to the bottom of the section of chain.


Make your second earring, and voila! You now have a pair of adorable sequin earrings. If you'd like, you can make a matching necklace, like the one pictured above.

For future projects, add more sequins using additional jump rings, vary the length of your silver chain, swap other shapes like hearts and stars for spiders, or try multiple lengths of chain. Now that you know how to make sequins out of confetti, you're not limited to the sequins in craft stores -- so have fun!!!

Thanks, and have a spooky, sequintastic Halloween. :)