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...
Link
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.