Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Challenge of Music!

Welcome to a very special Wednesday post!Link
I'm participating in Erin's Challenge of Music. The other participants and I were challenged to pick a song and design an accessory based on it -- a physical interpretation of sound. After going to a Zoe Keating concert in Chicago a few weeks ago, I had my inspiration. Specifically, her song Exurgency, which she played at the concert, and which is my favorite.

For those of you who don't know, Zoe Keating is a cellist. She uses technology to record and layer multiple tracks so it sounds like she's playing with an orchestra. Not only does she do this with her recordings... but she does this live, too!

Seeing her in person is incredible. She's a gifted performer as well as musician, keeping her audience entertained with anecdotes (and sometimes orchestra jokes) while she tunes her instrument. My favorite was one about living in a factory building with a bunch of other musicians and playing impromptu concerts while the audience was stretched out on futons. I would have loved to have been there for that!

Here's what I created based on her music:

This necklace is called So Many Permutations. Zoe confessed during the concert that she creates several variations of every piece, and that choosing just one to add to an album can be hard. She makes up for this by playing any version she likes when she's performing live. As a jewelry artist who gets multiple idea for a single piece, I get this, and I appreciate it.

This necklace represents a pattern I see in Zoe's work, especially the music she plays live. It starts off small and simple, then gradually builds to something larger, with more layers and textures, until it swells and fills the whole room.

It reminds me of the concert in a literal way, too. She was wearing a black shirt with sparkly silver accents (in Vanessa's words, she was a ninja cello goddess). Under her black pants, she wore leggings with crazy abstract floral designs in orange, black and white, which is where I got the idea for the focal piece.

Every time I look at this necklace, the song plays in my head, and I can't help but feel happy. That day was a reminder to me that there's still magic in the world, for lack of a better word. Fantastic things happen all around us. It's just a matter of opening up to them, letting them devour us, even if it's just for a few hours.

Thanks for reading this post, whether you're a participant, a regular reader, or a musician. I hope you'll love Zoe's work as much as I do, and I hope you'll visit the other participants! I can't wait to see what music they've chosen and what they've made.

Also, if you haven't read my reveal post for the Mystery Project, you can do that here!

And finally... have a sequintastic day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Miscellaneous Monday: A Collar Grows Up!

Welcome to another Miscellaneous Monday at Saturday Sequins!

I mentioned last Saturday that I had something special planned, and here it is. The debut of my very first bead embroidered collar, and a look at how it came together.

Life of a Collar

When the beaded collar started out, it was nothing but a small cluster of beads....

Link(A lot like this!)

It took about a week to fill the whole shape I'd cut out with beads, and while I loved the result, I realized that when I rotated it, it wasn't a finished shape, but half of a larger project.

This meant starting work on another piece similar, but not identical to, the first. My lazy side was not happy with me, but my artistic side knew that I had to do it!

(Here's the second half as a WIP...)

(And here are the pieces, side by side.)

And even though it gave me a case of Beady Burnout, I was really excited to see the other side of the collar finished. I rested for a few days, and then I was ready to make more progress!

Once the backing was glued and sewn on, the two pieces attached, and the ribbons sewn into place, the necklace was finished! I thought about adding fringe to the edges, but in the end, I decided that I liked it as it was. I'm a huge fringe fanatic, but my creative side not only knows when to keep going, but when it's time to stop.


And there we have it! A collar grows up. I'm proud of it because it's my first beaded collar, the largest piece I've ever made, and the first time I've ever used ribbon (from my local creative reuse store) to finish a necklace. I love the big floppy bow!

Things I learned

I learned a lot from this piece. The first thing is that I should pay attention to my edge stitches! I had to add another row of beads because some stitches were out of bounds. The second is that drawing on black vinyl with a ball point pen creates a perfect, and impermanent, line when I'm drawing a pattern. Eventually it rubs off -- but not as quickly as white dressmaker's pencil.

And the third thing? To add a ribbon the way I did, it should be glued in while I'm gluing the backing and the base together. Otherwise I have to pull it apart -- and while I didn't damage the necklace, it made me very anxious to do that!

What's Next?

Thanks for following this necklace and I on our journey! Your support, encouragement, and wonderful comments mean a lot to me. I have another collar shape cut out, one that's totally different from this one, and I can't wait to get started on it! And to share the progress on that one, too.

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Painting with thread!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I've made some progress on the beaded collar, formerly known as the Mystery Project, but I'm saving that for Monday. Let's just say, I have a fun post planned, and it's going to need a little more time.

Instead, I thought I'd share another interest of mine, and another fantastic way to use sequins. Embroidery. As in, the kind that uses more thread than beads.

(Here's a piece I made a few years ago. It's my absolute favorite!)

If you've read my About page, you'll know that I started making jewelry when I hadn't even reached the double digits. Well, five years after that, on a weekend trip to Lake Champlain, Vermont, I saw a book on thread embroidery. It captured my interest with the kind of grip that would make a wrestler cry Uncle, and that evening, I read it from cover to cover.

(In case you're interested, the book is Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Nichols. It's awesome!)

I've embroidered on and off over the years. Sketching my own designs on fabric and adding little extras like beads and sequins and even sparkly tulle. To be honest, I spent an entire semester in college studying satin stitch when I should have been studying my linguistics course! But I wouldn't have it any other way.

(A piece I made a little over a year ago. My first experiment trapping sequins and metallic thread under tulle.)

(My second experiment with tulle. This time I heavily embroidered the edges and tacked it down with a few beads.)

I never know what to do with pieces when I'm finished with them, though. I love embroidery, but I'm totally clueless about sewing! So these pieces tend to sit in a drawer until I let them out to play.

If I had to pick a favorite thing about this type of embroidery, besides the way it goes so well with sequins, it would be all the color involved. There are a bazillion colors of embroidery floss, and it feels like I'm painting with thread. Looking at my old work, I start to think... hmm. Maybe I'll do a multimedia jewelry piece. I'm especially motivated after reading one of Cyndi Lavin's eBooks on that topic.

(My most recent piece, and my first time using felt and quilting techniques.)

And that concludes today's post! I hope you'll join me on Monday, and I hope you'll share your own thoughts about thread embroidery. Have you tried it? Do you like it? What other mediums do you like to combine with it?

Have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beating Beady Burnout

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today I'd like to discuss something most artists experience. The state of total exhaustion following the completion of a large project, and the refusal of the body to continue working, in spite of the mind's best intentions.

That state? Burnout. For beaders, I call it Beady Burnout. It's a little bit like being stuck, only it's the inability to do one thing in particular, as opposed to anything at all. It's also a form of Creative Block.

For example, I've spent the past few weeks working on a beaded collar. This Wednesday I finished the bead embroidery stage, and now that I've glued the backing on, I'll be able to stitch my layers together, add fringe, and decide on the other components I'll use.

(And here's the collar so far!)

Thinking about the next steps in my project, I notice two different things going on. First, there's my mind going YAYYYY! BEADS!!! And then there's my body, slumping over into a pathetic little pile, whimpering.

How am I going to get my mind and body on the same page? I have a few ideas. Once again, I'm making this up as I go.

Beating Beady Burnout

1.) Recognize the burnout. It's one thing to be a little tired, but it's another thing to have Beady Burnout. Knowing the difference is important because burnout needs more aggressive treatment.

2.) Recognize what won't help. Before you dive right into what will help, it's a good idea to remind yourself that pushing yourself through your exhaustion won't. If you're a little tired or bored with a project, sometimes you can push through it and move on to something else, but ignoring Beady Burnout only leads to more slumping and whimpering. So don't do it.

3.) Pat yourself on the back. Beady Burnout is a pain, but it helps to put a positive spin on it. Why are you burnt out? Because you put a lot of time and effort and passion into a project, and you accomplished something amazing. So congratulate yourself for your hard work -- the feeling of pride will make the exhaustion easier to take.

4.) Clean your workspace. Sweep up those little scraps of thread, put your tools away, and store your beads in their rightful place. A clean work space means a fresh start. A chance to move on to a new project/phase in a project when you're ready.

5.) Step away from the beads. It's time to take a real break. To remove the temptation to start playing with beads before you're ready, choose to spend time in a room that isn't your studio or work space.

6.) Rest. Creative work uses up a lot of energy, physical and emotional. Take some time to relax, to nap, to do nothing, and know that not only have you earned this rest, but it's an essential part of the creative process.

7.) Rejuvenate. Drink plenty of water. Eat foods with lots and lots of nutrients. Take bubble baths. Listen to relaxing music. Stretch. Get a massage. Whatever you do to take care of yourself, do it with the attitude that not only have you earned it, but you need it.

8.) Explore the non-bead world. When you have a big project in the works, everything else falls by the wayside. Once you're rested, use Beady Burnout as a chance to do all the things you neglected. For me, this would be reading, writing, cooking, and hula hooping. One of the best things you can do is invite friends to do these things with you. That way, you can't back out!

9.) Start to miss beading. As you catch up on the other things in your life, you might find yourself wanting to bead. This is a sign that you're on your way to beating Beady Burnout, but unless the urge is overwhelming, don't give in until you've had at least 48 hours to recuperate. You want to make sure the burnout is really gone, but you also want to get your mind and your body excited, or even anxious, to bead. You know what they say: absence makes the heart grow fonder!

10.) Start planning to bead. After the 48 hours have passed, start reading beading books. Browsing Pinterest and Flickr for inspiration. Start planning a project or the next phase of a current one. Make sure it's something that captures your imagination and gets you itching to pick up your sparklies again (I call this state Beady Bliss, and it's the polar opposite of Beady Burnout).

11.) Go play! When you just can't stand it anymore, go back to those beads! See what happens. If it turns out that you're not completely over Beady Burnout, revisit some of the steps in this list until you're back to normal.

12.) An ounce of prevention. Once you're over Beady Burnout, and you've fallen in love with another project, there's a temptation to do the same things all over again -- to push everything else in your life aside and work, work, work until you collapse from exhaustion. I realize that for some people, myself included, this is just part of the creative process. And that's fine. But! There's nothing wrong with scheduling, say, 30 minutes a day to relax, pay attention to other areas in your life, and pamper yourself. A little bit goes a long way.

And that concludes my plan to beat Beady Burnout. I'm in the middle of step five, but I have to say, it's easier said than done -- I keep sneaking into the studio to trim the backing off the beadwork! I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day! Feel free to share your tips and tricks for beating artistic burnout of any kind!

(Also, make sure to check out Artists in Blogland.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Share with me Sunday: your weekend!

Super duper thanks to everyone who left comments on my Etsy post! They were the cherry on top of a fantastic Saturday.

What was so fantastic about Saturday? Well, let me share with you, in list form:

1.) Going to Chicago. I don't get to go as often as I'd like because it's a bit of a drive, but I got to go this weekend. Just the prospect of a day in Chitown is exciting for me because there's so much to do!

2.) Lunch and cupcakes. This is a ritual for Mr. Sequin and I whenever we're in Chicago. The Angel Food Bakery is this amazing little place decorated in vintage Easy Bake Ovens, and they have the best cupcakes. I had a Boston Cream, which is my favorite. They also have incredible things for lunch, especially the BLT -- bacon, mixed greens, tomato, caramelized onions, and blue cheese on Focaccia bread.

3.) Beads. Caravan Beads was too far away this time around, but we did make it to Ayla's Originals in Evanston, and I'm glad we did. Not only were there some adorable ring displays that looked like sequined shoes, but there was a great selection of seed beads, including a color I'd been looking for forever. Everyone there was so nice, and I'd definitely go there again.

4.) Friends. Mr. Sequin and I were delighted to meet up with the Queen of Aluminum Chainmaille Jewelry, Vanessa Walilko, for dinner and show-and-tell. I can't say enough about what a great person she is and how generous she is with her business advice. And wow, it's fun to geek out with fellow jewelry artists in person! So much squealing.

5.) Dinner. We had dinner at an amazing vegetarian place, the Blind Faith Cafe, and I had enchiladas with potato and cheese and guacamole. I also had double chocolate cake with raspberry gelato, the latter of which is my newest obsession. I would definitely go to this place again!

6.) Music. And finally... a concert by Zoe Keating! The room was crowded, and there were hardly any seats left. With luck and the generosity of perfect strangers, (as well as Mr. Sequin, who knew I'd never be able to stand for the whole concert) I ended up in the front row, and it was such an amazing experience. One of those events that makes you realize there's actual magic in the world, if you're open to it.

(More on Zoe later -- she has me so inspired for Erin's Challenge of Music!)

In fact, this was a magical Saturday! But enough about my weekend -- what are you up to? I hope you're experiencing some magic of your own. And if you haven't yet, there's still time! May I suggest starting with cupcakes?

Have a sequintastic Sunday! <3

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sneak Peek Saturday: Etsy Items!

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

Things are slowly coming together on my Etsy shop. I have things made and photographed, and I've even worked a little on the descriptions. One thing I have to do, though, is have some pictures taken where I'm wearing the jewelry to give a better idea of scale.

(Which has been difficult... apparently, it's next to impossible for Sarah Sequins to stay still!)

While I work on that aspect, I thought I'd give you, my lovely readers, a sneak peek at what I'll be offering.

Here's my favorite earring style. Tiny aluminum rings with disc sequins.

Here they are in silver....Here they are in red! The red are my absolute favorite.

Here's another style. I made the same chain, only this time I added sequin flowers. Nice and springy!

Here they are in powder blue and white.

Here's another style. Chain maille love knots with tiny paillette sequin dangles.

Here they are in a very, very light lavender.

And in turquoise.

And there you have it! I missed the boat for Valentine's day, because frankly, I'm intimidated at the idea of selling my work, but I'm hoping to have everything up in time for prom season. So if you are a teenager, or you know a teenager, or you're an adult who enjoys sparklies as much as I do, keep an eye on my Etsy site!

Thanks for stopping by, thanks for all your wonderful comments on the latest version of the Mystery Project, and have a sequintastic day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Mystery Project (II)

Welcome to another Work In Progress Wednesday at Saturday Sequins!

Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on the Mystery Project last week! Today I'm going to show you the second half.

Here it is! Most of it was done over the course of two days. This explains why I haven't been online so much -- I wanted to get a handle on this project before I got seriously into my Bead Soup projects.

(That, and I was busy with the first season of Veronica Mars. What a fantastic show! I give it a 4.5 out of five sequins.)

The design is similar to the first one, but I don't plan to make them identical. Not only would I miss the improvisational aspect of bead embroidery, but I have some serious love for asymmetry in jewelry design.

Does that conclude today's WIP Wednesday, you ask? Why, no! I've decided to show the whole project so far. This will give you a pretty good idea of what it is.

Are you ready?

Because here it is!

My next steps will be to fill in the rest of the beading, trim the base material, sew on the backing, and decide on any extra embellishments. I'd like to finish this piece by the end of this month because I've got some special plans for it, which I'll share in the near future.

That concludes today's WIP Wednesday! Thanks for reading, thanks for being awesome, and have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who's hungry for bead soup?

This is my first time participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party. She did it by lottery this year, and I was lucky enough to be picked!

I was also lucky to be paired with the very talented Sandi Volpe, who sent me a beautiful soup mix -- which I will show you right now. And since it's bead soup, I'm going to show off my new sparklies... in a soup bowl.

Sandi sent me a really great color scheme. Delicious, isn't it?

She included seed beads, adorable leaf beads, and lots of faceted beads. I heartily approve of facets.

She also sent some handmade components, which I love -- I'm especially fond of the bead and wire-wrapped clasp! It made me want to chow right down and start making things -- which I did, the very night I got my package.

She also gave me some ribbon. I love the texture and colors, and I was going to ask Mr. Sequin to photograph it on a fork like noodles, but the camera battery died! So I'll have to add that one later.

And there we have it! Thanks, Sandi, for picking such pretty ingredients, and thanks, Lori, for holding the blog party! Be sure to check out the other participants and to stop by Sandi's blog to see what I sent her (hint: there were sequins).

Also, in case you missed it on Wednesday, see how the Mystery Project is coming!

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Mystery Project

Welcome to another Work In Progress Wednesday at Saturday Sequins!

I haven't gotten around to finishing the star and the butterfly from this post, but I have made a lot of progress on the Mystery Project. I was a tease last Saturday and only showed you a small section, but today I'm going to play nice and share what I've done so far.


Have you guessed what it is yet? If not, I'm going to further confuse you by admitting that when I got to this stage, I thought I was done with the beading and only needed to apply the backing. And then I held it at a different angle and realized... this piece would look epic if I doubled it.

Yes, that means a lot more work! My impatient side isn't happy with me. My artistic side, however, knows that I have to do what it takes to make this project look its best, so I've already cut out the second piece.

Not only will this be my biggest and most time-consuming project so far, but it's also my first time sewing sequins on top of beadwork instead of sewing the beads around them. I like the way this looks! There's so much more sparkle.

(It's also a great way to hide mistakes -- I made one, and now I'm sort of glad I did.)

And that concludes this WIP Wednesday. More progress to come!

(And in the meantime, check out this week's contributions from Artists in Blogland.)

Thanks for reading, and as always, have a sequintastic day!