Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sneak Peek Saturday!

Hello, and welcome to the very first Sneak Peek Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

This is like Work In Progress Wednesday, only instead of showing how the whole project is coming along, I'm just going to reveal a section of it -- and leave you wondering what it is. Because I'm a tease like that.

Ready?

Here it is!


I won't give any hints, but I will say that this is the largest piece I've done so far, and also the first time I've embroidered using only beads -- no buttons or cabochons.

It's also my first time drawing a design on the black backing with a pen. The black ink shows up red, and it doesn't matter if I make a mistake because not only does it fade over time, (but not as quickly as dressmaker's chalk or pencil) but the beads cover it up. This technique is perfect for times when I don't want to use the tissue paper trick, which requires making a beaded outline and filling it in.

That concludes this Saturday's post! Feel free to guess what I'm making -- even if you're wrong, you might give me an exciting new idea, and I'll definitely give you credit for the inspiration.

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Work in progress Wednesday!

Welcome to another Work In Progress Wednesday at Saturday Sequins! Today I'd like to show you how the projects from this post are coming along.


Here's the beady star. I'd promised to add lots of fringe, and as you can see, I did just that! The fringe is made of beautiful sparkly seed beads, purple electrical wire coating, and some of my favorite faceted beads, purchased from BeadAlgo.

I started work on the necklace strands, but they didn't look right, so I took them apart. If I can pull my idea off with a little more finesse the next time, though, I'll be excited. And if not... I have some backup plans, one of which is definitely chain maille.


Here's the beaded butterfly. Last time, it was just an outline on some fabric -- but now I've filled in half of it, and I like the way it's turning out!

The other half should be simple enough to finish. The tricky part will be cutting the backing to match, since there are a lot of curves in this design. But as long as I don't rush it, I think I'll be OK.

Is that all the beading she's done? You ask. Far from it! Since last WIP Wednesday, I made this heart necklace, and I've also started two major projects that I'm thrilled with so far. In fact, when I was working on one last night, I had a beading breakthrough, so I'm even more eager to keep going.

What was my breakthrough? Adding seed beads two at a time, not four. The beads lay against each other, and other rows, much more neatly, and while the process of sewing them is a little slower, I save time in the end because I don't have to correct so many wonky beads with couching stitches and thread reinforcement.

Super duper thanks with chocolate and coconut to Sherry Serafini, my beading idol, for sharing that tip in Sensational Bead Embroidery -- which I'll buy as soon as I'm not so poor. I just wish I'd taken her advice weeks ago.

That concludes this week's WIP Wednesday! Stay tuned for more progress, more projects, and the fourth installment in the Stuck series.

Have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I heart bead embroidery! Part III.

Welcome to another post at Saturday Sequins! Today my new passion, bead embroidery, meets another passion...

Chain maille!

Special thanks with glitter on top to Melissa Creamer, who gave me the idea when she suggested it for another piece. This necklace incorporates two pieces of helm chain that I had sitting around the studio, just begging to go into a project (metal rings from Blue Buddha, rubber rings from Ring Lord). They're joined together by an awesome vintage button, which acts as a clasp.

LinkBesides seed beads and chain, this design also features sequins, more buttons, and lots and lots of electrical wire coating! It also features some Czech glass and some of the gorgeous sparkly beads that I got from Bead Algo last summer.

I'm very excited about the way this turned out, but would you like to know a secret? When I started it, I wasn't sure if I liked it. As I was stitching on the beads, I kept thinking... hmm. We'll see. Something felt a little off until the design started to come together, about halfway through the bead embroidery.

I have similar feelings about a lot of the beadwork I do! I've learned not to be quite as surprised when I end up loving a design because I went through this with one of my all time favorite heart necklaces. I'm learning to trust the process and my beady instincts.

I have several other pieces in the works, two of which will be familiar to you, and one of which is completely new, but these will have to wait for a Work In Progress Wednesday. Stay tuned!

Until then, have a sequintastic day! Thanks again to Melissa, and thanks to my wonderful suppliers, as well as my talented photographer, Mr. Sequin. This just goes to show that unless you're living in a cave in the middle of nowhere, (Bead Cave! Eat your heart out, Bat Cave) most art is a collaboration.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When you're stuck (part III).

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I'm happy to announce that I'm not as stuck as I was last week. I'm not all the way unstuck, though, so I'm going to do some more work -- and if you're in a similar situation, you're welcome to work right along with me.

What's Next?

When I ended the previous post, the last thing we did was divide the things that are contributing to our stuckness into two categories: things we can control and things we can't. I'd like to start with the Can Pile and do a little sifting.

This pile is less scary than the Can't Pile, but at the same time, it takes a lot more work. When we can control things, we're responsible for controlling them -- for helping ourselves. And it can be exhausting.

But! The way we're going to approach items in this pile will make it a little less intimidating.

The Index Card Exercise

Get some index cards. On each one, write down something that's making you stuck. For me, it's bad time management, getting distracted by the wrong projects, ignoring the projects I'm most excited about, and not taking care of my body.

On the other side of each card, I want you to list one little thing you can do to work on each issue. You can list two if you want, but no more than that -- when you're stuck, long lists are not your friend. Besides, little things add up quickly into big changes!

For me, it went like this: Time management ----> ration beading time. Distracted by wrong projects ----> get rid of worst ones. Ignoring the best projects ----> Brainstorm your next step on those. Not taking care of self ----> get into spinach smoothie habit again.

After the Index Cards

Now that you have your cards filled out, I want you to... take the day off. That's right! Because chances are, we all filled out the bad self care card, and the first step to regaining your energy is to slow down.

Curl up on the couch with your favorite stuffed animal. Watch movies. Take naps. Cook your favorite food (or better yet, get someone else to do it). Stretch your tense, achy muscles. When I did this, I was able to recover from the nasty cold that was causing me so much trouble.

And don't forget the hygiene portions of self care! It might seem silly, but taking some time to deep condition your hair or do a clay facial masque works wonders. That's because you're doing something kind for yourself, and your body will respond to that attention in a good way.

The Next Day

So maybe you're feeling better, but you're still in a fragile state. That's normal! Which is why, if you can, I'd like you to take the next day to work on the index card that has you the most excited. For me, it was getting around to some of the things I'd neglected. I worked on the jewelry projects I felt like working on, and I brainstormed a way to make another project I loved, but was stuck on, more exciting and easier to do.

And After That...

Keep working on those cards. If at some point you realize you're completely unstuck, congratulations! You're awesome, and I'm so proud of you.

And if you're like me, still a little stuck, that's OK. I'm proud of you for all the work you've done -- because anything that isn't moping or rocking back and forth in panic is good and necessary work!

Once you have a handle on the first step of each card, I want you to write down another one. For me, it will be to take short walks during the day to feel healthier, to ration my Internet time in addition to beading time, and to make one itty bitty, itsy bitsy step every day towards finishing some of my projects.

We'll see what happens after that! Thanks for reading, thanks for being awesome, super duper thanks with glitter on top to everyone who offered such helpful advice and input in previous posts, and of course... have a sequintastic day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

When you're stuck (part II).

Welcome to another post at Saturday Sequins!

In the previous post, I discussed being stuck -- the state where you're exhausted, overwhelmed, and you can't bring yourself to tackle any of the items on your to-do list. I also suggested that being stuck isn't just something you can overcome; it's also an opportunity to become a better artist and businessperson.

And finally, I mentioned one step you can take towards getting unstuck: admitting you're stuck in the first place.

Today I'd like to explore some potential solutions to the problem. Since I'm stuck right this very moment, and this isn't a subject I've explored in a lot of depth before, I'll warn you that my advice is experimental -- I'll be trying it out right along with you.

So are you ready to do some work?

1.) Admit you're stuck. Check.

2.) See how you're feeling. Go someplace comfortable where there aren't a lot of distractions. Close your eyes. Breathe. Explore all the layers of your emotional baklava. Explain them to yourself, like you're talking to a friend. Don't focus on your reaction to these emotions -- I know there's a temptation to judge yourself. Just take inventory. Do this as long as you need to. Get through all those layers until you hit the bottom of the pan.

3.) Accept. I'm serious about not judging yourself for your feelings. That never gets us anywhere. What I'd like you to do, if you can, is just accept that this is where you are right now, this is what you're feeling. You might find that accepting, instead of denying or being defensive, is actually kind of freeing.

And if you can't accept it? Accept that you can't accept it right now. That's good, too.

4.) Find the causes. Now I'd like you to do some more exploring. What's going on in your life right now? What's causing those emotions you've just accepted? Maybe it's personal problems intruding into your creative life -- it happens. Maybe you're not taking care of yourself physically or emotionally -- that happens, too. Maybe you're not enthusiastic about a project but continuing because you think you "should," or maybe there's another project you really want to tackle that's been pushed aside -- those things also happen.

5.) Sort. I divide problems into two categories. First, there are things we have control over. Then, there are things we don't. Deciding which is which can be tough, and you may change your mind later on, but what I'd like you to do is make two piles in your head.

The first is the Can't Control pile. The second is the Can Control pile. The Can't pile might be things like a health crisis, family drama, or other people's expectations. The Can pile might be focusing on the wrong projects, or manageable health things like fatigue and poor nutrition.

6.) Rest. When you're stuck, you're vulnerable. Everything takes extra effort, so if you're emotionally and physically drained after doing this work, that's OK! More than OK -- it's reasonable. So take some time, whether it's fifteen minutes or several hours, to recover. Stretch. Get some water. Then close your eyes and focus on breathing again.

7.) Reward. When you're done resting, I want you to reward yourself! Because you're now in a different place than you were when you first admitted to being stuck. Even if you've only moved an inch, a millimeter, away from where you were before, this is progress, and you're awesome for making it!

So read a favorite book. Get together with friends. Cook your favorite meal. Whatever you do, know that you've earned it!

Stay tuned for the next part, where we'll do some brainstorming.

Have a sequintastic day, and thank you so, so much for your comments on the first part of this series! Your input was very helpful and greatly appreciated.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When you're stuck.

You're going along at a breakneck pace. Making plans, making lists, checking off one item after another, and feeling proud of yourself -- and maybe a little exhausted. It feels like you're really getting somewhere in your business, in your blog, in your artistic projects.

And then... something happens. One day you wake up and everything's different.

You can't get out of bed -- you pull the covers over your head. Just five more minutes (or five more hours). All those exciting plans become daunting tasks, and your to-do-lists might as well be thirty miles long. In fact, when you look them over, you realize how many items weren't necessary at all, and you feel like a big goof for getting sidetracked.

And your emotions? They come in layers, like baklava. Fear, guilt, dread, fatigue, sadness, anger... more fear. It's hard to sort them out because as soon as you reach one layer, there's another one underneath.

In short? You're stuck. Overworked. Overwhelmed. Overextended.

I'm sure this happens to most of us at some point in our lives. Maybe we work ourselves too hard, maybe personal problems get in the way, maybe we take on more than we can handle. Maybe we lose direction.

The good news? Getting stuck can actually be a great opportunity. Not only can we come out of it, but we can do so stronger and more confident than before, with a better sense of what's truly important.

How? Well, this is something I'm experimenting with right this very moment. I'll throw around some suggestions in part II of this post, but for now, I believe that the first step is admitting you're stuck. Because admitting a problem is usually the first step to solving it -- or so I've been told.

So here we go: My name is Sarah, and I'm stuck!

Are you stuck, too? If not, I'm so very happy for you, I can't even express it. I'll make sure to address prevention in another post. But if you're in the same boat (or baklava) as me, by all means, speak up! We can work though this together.

Now that it's posted, check out the next part of this post! Thanks for reading, thanks for being awesome, and have a sequintastic day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Work in progress Wednesday!

Welcome to another Work in Progress Wednesday! Today I'll share two of my most recent bead embroidery projects.

Here's the project I worked on throughout the last day of 2011. It incorporates seed beads, buttons, round and flower sequins, a few glass beads, and more plastic electrical wire coating, snipped into little pieces to look like bugle beads.

I finished putting the backing on yesterday, and now I'm wondering how to make a necklace with it. I know there will be fringe -- lots and lots of fringe. I'm just not sure what else I'll do. So the beady star will have to sit and look pretty until I make up my mind.

(Luckily, it seems to be really good at doing just that.)

This is a beaded butterfly I'm working on. I thought I'd show it in its rough state because even when it's my own work, I'm fascinated -- or even mystified -- by the process. The way something can start out as just an outline on some fabric with all these crazy little threads everywhere and end up as something polished that I can't. Stop. Looking. At.

I used my tissue paper technique on this one, just like I did for the star. To get a symmetrical design, I folded the paper in half and drew one side of the butterfly. Then I flipped it over and traced over my pencil lines for the second half -- and voila!

I love both of these projects, but I have to say, the star has been more fun to create. It's more improvisational, whereas the butterfly is much more planned. I did enjoy making the butterfly pattern, though! It was nice to draw something freehand instead of relying on my usual templates. I even made a second one so I can use this design again.

And that's all for now! I'll be sure to show you how these turn out.

Thanks for reading! Have a sequintastic day.

And while I've got your attention, check out -- or join -- Artists in Blogland!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eye Candy! And reflection.

Welcome to the very first day of 2012! I hope your New Year's Eve was a fantastic one.

Mine was amazing. Mr. Sequin and I spent most of the day in the studio, making art. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the coming of a shiny new year, unless, of course, there are also brownies and ice cream involved -- oh, wait! There were.

I thought I'd do some reflection on 2011. But! I'm going to make things more interesting by adding some eye candy, too. So without further ado... here we go.

To say that 2011 was eventful would be an understatement. There were sad things, like losing my father and grandmother, and having my health scare, and those things have definitely left their mark on me in a lot of ways.

But for all the stress and sadness, there was so much good.

(For instance, I made Purple Widow. All this necklace needs are two little dangles, one on either side, and it's a spider! I love this piece because it's cheerfully dark. Glittery, sparkly, but also spooky. I'll definitely bring it out for Halloween.)

I healed from my shoulder injury with the help of amazing, wonderful, caring people. It was almost worth the pain to have them in my life and to learn all the things I learned from them, which I share in this post, and also this article.

I started writing for the Daily Muse. The article above is the first article I've ever written, and it was cause for much excitement and squealing. And guess what! I just published one about hula hooping.

I became friends with myself. I've come to accept some important things about me and to realize that they're not flaws -- they're part of what makes me wonderful. The first is, I'm not meant for a traditional job. I'm meant to work for myself. The second is, I'm a Scanner. I'm not meant to pick one thing and stick to it forever. In fact, I work best if I find a way to combine all the things I love into one project.

(For instance, this necklace. Yes, that's a beaded painting pendant! And yes, that's weaving in the center. I've got several dozen of these weavy paintings sitting in drawers, just waiting to be made into jewelry, so expect plenty more where this came from.)

I started sharing my jewelry work. Before this year, I'd only ever shared it with friends and family! But because of this blog, flickr, and this awesome jewelry making forum, people all over the world have gotten a peek at the things I do.

(This beaded flower has gotten some very sweet compliments. I love it, too! Both because it's sparkly and colorful, and because it uses two techniques I came up with. I used a round cookie cutter to design the flower shape, and I drew it onto tissue paper to make a pattern.)

I tried new jewelry making techniques. I surprised myself this summer by learning the basics of wire weaving, and this fall by diving into bead embroidery. As someone who is always hungry -- if not starving -- to learn new techniques, this was very important to me.

I went to the Bead and Button Show. You can read about it here.

I applied to teach at the bead show next year, and I also submitted entries for the Bead Dreams contest. I faced rejection on both of these, which was a disappointment, but that disappointment was nothing compared to how proud I was of myself for trying.

I also started this blog! And wrote 50 posts. And most importantly, made some fantastic new friends.

I'm sure there's a lot more, but in the interest of saving my fingers and your eyeballs, I'm going to stop here. Now I'd like to know: What are some of the things you accomplished this year, and what are you looking forward to doing this year?

Here's to 2011 for all it was, and to 2012 for all it will be!

Have a sequintastic New Year!