Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rainy Day Links

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Here's one of my dirty little secrets: I enjoy hoarding links almost as much as I enjoy hoarding sparkly objects.

I'll find an article or blog post that really speaks to me, and I'll squirrel it away. More often than not, I'll forget all about it after that! I've decided to start sharing these links instead. This will give you a good dose of inspiration and help me find my favorites when I need them.

So here they are! Links I've been saving for a rainy day -- or, you know, a day when I have a bunch of jewelry projects and post ideas that are in need of another week's work. It's definitely one of those days!

Eye Candy

Kinga Nichols of Crimson Frog Designs has made one of my favorite pieces ever... an octopus necklace!

Elizabeth over at Elizabeth Creates reveals her finished, and totally impressive, textile collage.

Continuing on the underwater theme... have you seen these adorable beaded fish by Karen Williams? I can't get these little guys out of my head.


Mandi Ainsworth of Bead Circle shares 12 ways for jewelry designers to be inspired by fashion design. A great post to keep in mind for the next Project Runway!

American Duchess gives a detailed history of sequins in fashion. There is so much eye candy in this post, I almost passed out from sparkle overload! In a good way. Special thanks to Melissa Creamer for sharing with me.

Margot Potter shares one of her earliest videos on artistic inspiration. Honestly, I could listen to her for hours -- she's so much fun!


Chain maille expert Rebeca Mojica talks about starting your own jewelry brand. Did you know she's been doing maille for ten years? Happy Chain-iversary, Rebeca!

Michelle Mach discusses how to find craft shows. A great post for all of you who expressed interest in giving them a try.

Pearl of The Beading Gem's Journal introduces us to Boticca, a curated online marketplace for selling unique jewelry and accessories.

Johnny B. Truant, a guest poster on Marie Forleo's blog, tells us how to get paid for being real. I think I love this guy. Blog crush!


One of my favorite motivational bloggers, Srinivas Rao, gives some much-needed perspective on making progress towards achieving your dreams. And while you're at it, stop apologizing for those dreams! And approach them with complete confidence.

Here Srinivas is again with another important message: you don't need permission to be extraordinary! In fact, just... go read every post he's written. He's awesomesauce.

Writer Jeff Goins advises us to stop waiting to be picked. After my Bead Dreams rejection, this was just the advice I needed, even if I'm not sure how to put it into practice just yet.

over at OMHG talks about owning our power and the things that make us stand out.

Food for Thought

Gala Darling offers some advice for when you're exhausted and burned out. Hint: it doesn't involve pushing yourself past your limits!

Megan Auman, a guest poster on the Scoutie Girl blog, has some interesting thoughts on consumerism and how we can cure it without getting rid of all our stuff. As someone who couldn't imagine life without a pile of sparkly things to play with, this makes me happy.

Michael Hyatt makes a case for napping. Not that I need much convincing!

Bead Show!

Yes, it's getting its own category. Bead and Button is coming up, and Lori Anderson has a great post on how to prepare.

And here's another post by Heather Powers at Art Bead Scene on preparing for a show!

Your turn: is there anything that's inspired you, entertained you, or made you think?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and have a sequintastic day!

Note: Also, stay tuned for some exciting things: a review of Nicole's BeadBacking, a giveaway that bead-embroiderers are sure to love, some new projects I've been working on, and my thoughts on why we need to take positive thinking a step further.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Say It With Sequins...

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today I'm going to do something different and talk about another part of my creative identity. One I've been out of touch with for some time, and one I haven't even had the courage to claim... until now.

Just playing around?

I should have known I was a writer when my favorite thing to do in my father's office was sit and type away on an old typewriter. Even though I was five and couldn't read or write, I just loved the feel of those keys under my fingertips.

(Barbie's diamond stealing shoes.)

I should have known I was a writer when, instead of dressing Barbie up for her big date with Ken, I had her push him down the stairs to avenge her sister's death. Or when I had her break into his jewelry store because she was an international jewel thief and he had a fine selection of diamonds.

I should have known I was a writer when my imaginary friends had more complex social lives than characters in a soap opera. But for the longest time, I dismissed it as an overactive imagination. Or, you know, just part of being a weird kid.

(I'm still a weird kid.)

And then there was the summer going into my junior year of high school when I holed myself up in my office and wrote a horror novel. You'd think I would have realized I was a writer then, but... nope. I thought it was just play. An excuse not to get a crappy summer job. It never occurred to me that I had a job.

This denial continued into adulthood. In my late twenties, I wrote about 700,000 words of fiction, from drafts of novels to short stories to children's books. In the months before my horrible shoulder injury, I was at the point where I could write a novella a day, working for eight and ten hours at a time in a sort of trance. But was I a writer? Oh, of course not!

I wrote, I reasoned, but I wasn't a real writer. For one, I wasn't published! For another, I didn't write in a serious genre. Just about every writer I talked to, or agent's blog I read, told me that these things made me a dabbler. A fake. A wannabe. And I did just about the silliest thing anyone could do in that situation... I listened.

Even when being unable to create made me feel like I was a ghost, like I'd lost everything that made me me. Even when the only thing that kept me going through the pain and exasperation, besides Mr. Sequin, was the stories I told myself.

Or maybe not.

Fast forward to the present. My shoulders have healed for the most part, and I've realized just how precious my creativity is. Way, way too precious to belittle. Too precious to keep telling myself I'm not a real artist because a handful of people take offense at my use of the word.

I know I'm an artist. It resonates in my chest, making my fingers shake with nervous energy whenever I'm not making things I love. I don't need anyone's validation but my own, and that's a freeing feeling -- and something I wish for every one of you. Most of all, I hope it doesn't take a terrible injury for you to get to that point.

My declaration -- in sequins.

So I've embraced being an artist. I've accepted that not everyone will agree with me, and that this is OK -- because those people are wrong! Sure, people are entitled to their opinions, but nobody is entitled to defining us... except for us.

Still, I'm having a little trouble declaring that I am, in fact, a writer and storyteller. So I've decided to say it in a way that will grab my attention and remind me over and over again that I am a writer -- no matter how often I need it.

That's right! I'm saying it with sequins. I'll keep this bracelet where I can see it every day. And when I'm feeling doubtful that I can overcome my writer's paralysis and begin the new novel in my head? That I can balance being a storyteller with being a jewelry maker, a blogger, a hula hooper, an amateur chef? Well, I'll put it on and let it work its magic.

Because if anything can help me claim my writerhood, it's a little dose of sparkle and shine.

Your turn: Are you having trouble claiming something important in your life? What could you do to change that?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and as always, have a sequintastic day. <3

(PS: This is my entry for the You Are A Writer Contest, hosted by Jeff Goins. Want to enter too? Go for it! You have until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Retreat Project!

Welcome to another Work In Progress Wednesday!

Today I'm going to share a little of the project I worked on during my creative retreat. I'm also going to share the lessons I learned during the experience and the things I'd do differently -- because for me, the creative retreat idea is as much a work in progress as the piece, itself.

The Project!

Since this is a project for the Time To Stitch Challenge, I'm not going to show all of it. I'm going to be a tease and save the excitement for the reveal on June 12th. But here's a sneak peek at what I worked on, and will continue to work on!

(A closeup of some of the weaving. I told you it was crazy and colorful!)

(A closeup of some buttons and beaded fringe I attached today.)

The Verdict?

The creative retreat is something I'd definitely do again. I loved working outside in the fresh air and natural light with the yard bunnies to keep me company, and I had a great time looking for inspirational/entertaining things to keep my mind busy as well as my hands.

It didn't go exactly the way I'd envisioned it. I wasn't feeling those Pantone colors for the contest, so I ended up changing directions. I also had to skip day four because I had some shoulder pain -- I woke up all twisted and contorted like a sequined pretzel, and I'm still working those kinks out. Still, I love my crazy piece of beadwork, and with the right planning, I think the next retreat will be awesome!

Things I Learned

1.) I mentioned thread traffic before -- when you're beading with tiny size 15 beads, or you're planning to attach some bead embroidery to your freeform beading, you really have to watch the amount of thread that passes through the beads. If there's too much thread traffic, you won't be able to pass your needle through when you need to -- and beads can break!

2.) So when you're weaving in those thread tails, weave around those itty bitty beads and the end rows of your piece -- change the direction of your weaving, even if it means going back and forth in the same little patch of wide-holed beads.

3.) I don't know about other beaders, but I do everything double-threaded. What can I say? I have this irrational fear of pieces coming apart. This makes for some stiff and sturdy beadwork that I literally have to spend hours taking apart if I want to start over, which is great, but it also makes for, you guessed it, more thread traffic.

What I recently learned? Weaving those thread tails is easier of you weave them single-thread. Yes, this means twice the weaving, but it doesn't mean twice the work. There's way less struggling and cursing.

4.) Bead soups are so great for freeform beading. Much easier, for me anyway, than keeping all those colors separate.

5.) If something isn't working, don't force it! Better to spend time and energy on something that you love, that excites you, that you just can't stop working on. You can always come back to the first project later when you have fresh ideas.

For Next Time

I see this retreat as almost a practice run. Here's what I'll do next time to make the experience amazing:

1.) I'll do more planning! This involves finding inspiring things to watch ahead of time, cleaning the house so it's not a distraction, finding the best workspace and lighting, making some healthy meals in advance, and thinking up some other activities to do when I'm not beading.

2.) Because I need to take more beading breaks! I had to miss a whole day of creative retreating, not just because my shoulder was pretzel-y, but because I overdid it on day three.

3.) I'll make my project more open-ended and have a few backup projects in case the first one doesn't work out.

4.) I'll have better timing! I sure picked a busy weekend for this retreat! So many of you were studying or spending time with family, and you couldn't participate. Next time, I'll look at my calendar and pick a date with no holidays.

Some inspiration:

1.) I really enjoyed watching and listening to videos by the wise and talented Mayi Carles.

2.) I also loved this TED talk about trying something new for a month!

3.) This article in The Daily Muse by Roz Savage was really inspiring.

If you've been following me through my creative retreat, I hope you've enjoyed it. If you had a creative retreat of your own, I'd love to see what you made, and I'd really love it if you'd share the link in the comments section.

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

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Creative Retreat! (Day Three.)

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins! Today is day three of my at-home creative retreat.

A Change In Direction...

In art, just like in life, things don't always work out the way we plan.

I spent all of day one working with Pantone-themed colors for the contest. I made a huge strip of freeform embroidery, but I wasn't crazy about it. I started another piece, and it was an improvement on the first one, but I still wasn't feeling those Pantone colors. And so, halfway through day two, I decided to take Pantone out of the equation and focus just on beadweaving.

To warm up, I finished up my first freeform pieces.

Here's the first one, and my favorite! I love the combination of bead weaving and embroidery. The secret to blending the two, I've found, is in watching what I call thread traffic -- the amount of thread that passes through beads.

The ends of each woven piece are sewn into the brick stitch edging of the embroidered piece and then reinforced for good measure, so I make sure there's plenty of room to do just that -- can't have any excess thread clogging up those bead holes! So any weaving-in of thread tails is done away from the end beads when possible.

Here's the second piece. It's a little on the long side, but still, I love the colors, and I love that button clasp.

What I especially love, though, is the focal piece! I like how the netting turned out -- it gives the piece some continuity.

From there, I worked on another piece. This one is crazy, with all kinds of colors and textures. And you know what? It's totally fun to work on, and it has me excited -- which was the point of this retreat all along. I'll give you a sneak peek later, but for now, you'll have to use your imagination.

And that concludes today's blog post! Sorry for posting this later than usual. Mr. Sequin and I went out for lunch, and an innocent trip to get gyros turned into gyros and ice cream and sitting outside to eat them.

Thanks for your patience, thanks for reading and commenting, and as always, have a sequintastic day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Creative Retreat! Day One.

Welcome to the first day of the creative retreat!

Whether you've chosen to play along from your own home or simply to follow me, I'm happy for your support! I'm also excited to test out this idea, dreamed up by the brilliant Gala Darling, and to start my project.

The Project

There were so many possibilities, it was hard to choose! I thought about doing a sewing retreat, where I tame my feral sewing machine and learn to make collages and bags out of the fabric I've painted. I thought about doing a writing retreat, where I finally, finally get into writing fiction again.

I plan to tackle both of these at some point during the summer, but for my first ever at-home creative retreat, I've decided to continue with my freeform beading. I'll make a piece for Therese's A Time To Stitch challenge and the Fashion Colorworks 2012 Beading Contest.

The Theme

If you're doing your own retreat, you can certainly make up your own rules and themes -- you don't have to use mine! But if you're interested, my theme is Make What You Love. I may be working with specified colors and techniques, but my goal is to create a piece that's all my own and that makes me super happy. I'll work with materials I love, in a comfortable and relaxing setting, with plenty of little extras to keep my creativity going.

(And also to make sure I look up from my project every so often. Gotta take care of those eyes!)

Little Extras!

For the next four days, I'll keep you posted on how the project is coming along and any lessons I learn or obstacles I run into. I'll be doing this mainly on Facebook and Twitter, so if you'd like to connect there, please do so!

But! I want to do a little more than that to make this retreat not just about creating, but thinking about creating. I'm going to share some of my creative inspiration with you. Links to articles, quotes, videos, music, that I discover and enjoy.

And if there are any interesting links you'd like to share with me, I would love that!

And now I'm off to start creating. My supplies are on the Retreat Table, ready to go, and the patio furniture is clean in case I want to enjoy the nice weather. Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting me, and as always, have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Creative Retreat!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I was hoping to have one of the pieces from my beadweaving post ready today. It's almost there, but I still have some work to do, so I thought I'd write about something else -- namely, the next thing on my to-do list.

What next?

The craft show has come and gone, and so has the cookie party for my birthday. At first, this left me feeling a little lost. I live for planning things, for working towards the Next Big Thing, and I had no idea what that thing would be.

And then I realized that uncertainty can be a great thing, even if it's scary. Because with uncertainty comes freedom. I can do anything I choose to do -- how exciting is that? So I thought about it, brainstormed in my Problem Solving Notebook, and realized that I finally have time for....

A creative retreat!

Not just any retreat, either -- one that I set up at home!

I've wanted to do this since March, when I read Gala Darling's post. If you've heard me make jokes about robbing banks in a sequined mask and cape, you know that I'm a wee bit broke. I can't afford fancy things like week-long beading workshops, as much as I'd love to attend one.

But! I can afford to hold my own, just for me, using the resources I already have. Fresh air, a nice work space, and of course, a big pile of sparkly things.


I'd like to do this next weekend. I'm thinking, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you'd like to join me, you're more than welcome!

I could post updates here and on Twitter -- or Facebook, if you're a Facebook person. And when the retreat is done, I can post some photos of how the retreat went and what I made. And if you want to do the same, I'd be thrilled.

The project

Now I just have to decide... what kind of project will I work on? I'm thinking, something crazy and beaded. Something that's been on my mind for awhile, like one of my big necklaces. OK, that's pretty vague, but I'll have time to refine the idea this week.

So there we have it! My Next Big Thing. I hope you decide to do this with me, and if not, I hope you follow me in this next adventure. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and as always, have a sequintastic day!