Saturday, August 22, 2015

Featured artist: Eleanor Pigman

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I've been a fan of Eleanor's work for several years, and she has been a participant in both rounds of Sequintastic September-- which she completely rocked, by the way. I'd always wanted to have her as a featured artist, and when she posted a photo of some of her recent pieces on Facebook, I knew that they absolutely belonged in a blog post. Domingo, Rodrigo, and Roberto Flamingo agreed, for the obvious reasons.

Flamingos. A whole flock of beaded flamingos, accompanied by a beaded shark! Here they are with some adorable shrimp.

In the next photo you'll find starfish, manatees, whale tails, shells, and shark teeth! I see some sand dollars, too. Eleanor has a terrific sense of color, and I am in awe of her ability to create realistic-looking images with beads. If I put one of those shells up to my ear, I would fully expect to hear the ocean.

Here are more shrimp. They look like they're going to swim right out of the photo!

And here are more starfish, framed and mounted. A simple, but elegant, way to display such lovely work.

You can find more of Eleanor's work here, and also on her blog. The pieces I have shown you today are just the tip of the iceberg, if you pardon the watery pun. I mean, can you even believe this turtle? I love it.

Thank you for checking out Eleanor's work, and thank you for stopping by. Stay tuned for more!

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Featured Artist: Karen Holshouser

Greetings, beady friends!

Once again, beads and dolls have come together with beautiful results. Today I'd like to introduce you to Karen Holshouser, who makes amazing one of a kind doll clothing.

I met her through one of the many doll groups on Facebook, and her work took my breath away. Not only does she use beads in her designs, but she also has been known to use...

Yes, she uses sequins in her work. Do you hear that high-pitched noise in the background? The one that's making every dog in the neighborhood howl? That would be yours truly, squealing excitedly. Here are a few more of her fantastic pieces.


One of the (many) reason I love Karen's work is that it shows the different looks you can create with beads and sequins as embellishment. They can be sparsely sewn for a subtle, ethereal look, or you can bead entire sections of a garment, for a more dramatic effect. Either way, the result is something that any doll would be thrilled to wear. Mine are already hounding me.

To see more of what Karen does, check out her website, Karen's Glamour Dolls. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Time To Stitch!

Hi there, beady friends!

Today is the day of the A Time To Stitch blog hop, hosted by Therese and Christine. I've participated in A Time To Stitch hops before and always had fun, but I'm extra excited about this one because it's all about... bead embroidery stitches! Bead embroidery just happens to be the form of beadwork I love the most.

I saw this challenge as the perfect opportunity to get back into beading after a long hiatus. It was also the perfect time to use one of the cabochons I'd hoarded bought at the Idea Store a few years ago. And because this was a challenge, I decided to use blacks, browns, and tans -- all colors that usually take a back seat to the brighter ones in my bead stash. Here's the result:
Doing the embroidery was a lot of fun because it was mostly unplanned. All I knew was, I wanted to use my crazy lace agate, some earthy colors of beads, and a sequin or two -- because sequins. I like the way this turned out, and I'm looking forward to turning it into a finished piece.

What are my plans for this piece, you ask? It's going to be a necklace. Once I brick-stitch the edge beads on, I'm going to do some crazy freeform beading around the edges. And then I may or may not do a brick-stitch loop for a cord to go through, the way I did with this piece:

Other than that, the only thing I know is that there will be black faceted beads somewhere in the design, because that's what my beader's instinct is telling me to do. Whatever happens, I promise to share the result.

So that's my piece for the hop. Now it's time to mosey on over here to see the rest of the participants. I can't wait to see what they did! I bet it's awesome.

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J. Sequins

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A fundraiser for puppies!

Jones, one of my favorite rescue dogs. Photo by Ken from the Dog Den.

Dear beady friends,

Earlier this month, I did a small favor for my favorite horror author, Vincent V. Cava. Because he is an extraordinary person in addition to a fantastic writer, he wrote me an email expressing his gratitude and stating that if I ever needed a favor, he would be happy to oblige.

And because I am an opportunistic little pest, I asked him if he could get in touch with his friends in the horror narrating community and set up a fundraising event for one of my favorite animal charities, A Place To Bark  The founder of this animal rescue, Bernie Berlin, rescues hundreds of dogs and cats every year from animal control, often taking on the most difficult (and expensive) medical cases. She works non-stop to keep homeless animals safe and healthy and is one of the kindest people I have ever seen.

And because Vincent is a great guy, he contacted his friend Mr. CreepyPasta, who also happens to be one of my favorite narrators of scary stories. And because MCP is also a great guy, he agreed, and he set up a NachoBirthday campaign.  He has raised a fair bit of money so far, but is far from the 5,000 dollar goal. And there's only one week left!

So if you could, would you donate to this very worthy cause? And if you can't donate, could you spread the word about this fundraiser and this charity? I would appreciate it very much, and in turn, I would owe YOU a favor. Send me your receipt, or proof that you shared this post, and I'll do something for you in return. Maybe you want to be a featured artist. Maybe you live in the US and want some sequins in the mail. Maybe you're struggling with a creative project and need some advice. Maybe you're looking for a specific object, like a cigar box, and we happen to have it at the Idea Store for super cheap. Whatever it is, within reason, I'll be happy to help.

So here's the link again!

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Beaded doll purses!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I just love it when my interests intersect. This is exactly what happened when I started making beaded handbags for my Barbie dolls!

I love these bags because they're a lot of fun to make... and also easy. I may love taking risks and doing crazy things with my bead embroidery, but when it comes to weaving, I'm a slow learner and tend to make itty bitty changes with each new design. These are just tubular peyote stitch with the bottom beads sewn together like zipper teeth.

I did take a big step and make a beaded messenger bag, though. A rainbow one, no less. If you want to see how it turned out, hop on over to my doll blog and check out the rest of the photos!

I'm hoping to post more over the summer. I have a featured artist for you, a fundraiser for one of my favorite animal charities, and... I'm thinking of either holding another Sequintastic September or doing Barbie Meets Beads, so that both dolly friends and beady friends can participate.


Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Tour: Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

Hi there, beady friends!

I was proud to be a backer of, and then a contributing artist to, Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading, written by my very good friend Karen Williams. Now that the book is finished, I'm thrilled to be a participant in Karen's online book tour.

My Work

Here's one of the pieces that appeared in the book. This is my Ocean necklace, my only multi-strand freeform piece to date. I chose to keep each strand simple so I didn't lose the wavy texture that early freeform sometimes has, and so that the strands wouldn't be overwhelming together.

I love everything about this piece but the clasp. It's small and silver, but the necklace needs something more fun. Colorful. I'll probably switch it to one of my vintage buttons. Maybe... a sparkly blue one. It would be more in keeping with the ocean theme.

This is a second piece of mine that appears in the book. Floral Fiesta started off with bold colors and a bead-embroidered rose, but that's as much planning as I did. I made each strap separately and then attached it to the focal piece instead of building directly off of the rose, just in case the components didn't work with each other. Luckily, they did!

I had so much fun with this one, I might make another version using my second rose. Or maybe I'll make a matching bracelet. We'll see....

Why I Love Explorations

Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading speaks to me for a lot of reasons. It's beautiful, from cover to cover; the diagrams and photos are gorgeous. It's beautifully written. The projects are varied, and they're not limited to jewelry. And with several backers and contributing artists, it has this great sense of community to it. Karen did the bulk of the work, for sure -- a superhuman amount of work -- but she also gave us a chance to participate. To be a part of something fantastic. That opportunity doesn't come along very often in books.

But the biggest reason is that for me, freeform is kind of... a way of life. I like starting my pieces off with only a vague idea of what they're going to look like, and I love the spur-of-the-moment decisions that make them go in completely new, and surprising, directions. As it turns out, that's the way I like my bead embroidery, my writing, my cooking... even my sewing. In a world where we're taught to plan everything (the dreaded five year business plan), and to follow directions to the very last detail, let's see what happens is immensely freeing.

But I'm getting too philosophical.

If you've never done freeform before, I strongly urge you to try it, even if it seems a little bit intimidating. Karen starts with simpler projects like rings and earrings and moves on to larger, more complicated pieces like sculptures. She also demonstrates through her sketches that freeform doesn't have to be completely unplanned. So even if you're not an unstructured person like me, you'll enjoy it.

In case you missed the link to the book the first time, here it is again. And here. And... here it is again! Oh, wait. Forget that last one. That one's... pretty random. I'm not even sure how that got here.

Keep Hopping!

I'm just one stop on this book tour. Go to Karen's blog for a complete list of participants and for information on how you can win some terrific prizes, including your own copy of Explorations.

Now it's your turn: Do you have a copy of this book? What's your favorite part? If you don't have the book yet, what's your favorite part about freeform beading?

Thanks for reading and commenting, and special thanks to Karen for all her hard work. I honestly don't know how she does it!

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: My Blogcation

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Over the years, I've gotten fed up with New Year's Resolutions, Words of The Year, and all the other things we talk about the moment January comes around. If there's anything I learned in 2014, it's that I need things to happen as organically as possible -- when I'm actually ready to make changes, and not when the calendar tells me to. I also don't do well announcing my plans to anyone but myself. My rebellious brain immediately takes this as a challenge to not do whatever I've come up with. Tricky, tricky little bugger.

(Incidentally, this year I intend to learn automotive repair and computer programming. I want to take Tango lessons and finish reading Walden. I would also like to fit more raisins into my diet....)

There's something that does work for me, however, and that's looking back at all the things that happened last year. It's a great way to focus on the things I've done, as opposed to the things I haven't done yet. It's also a perfect way to tell you What I Did on My Blogcation. Because honestly, I did a lot more than I thought I would. Fun and surprising things can happen when I don't hold myself to a plan.

Such as....

What I Did On My Blogcation:

Puppy-sitting! This year I did a lot more dog-walking and sitting, and it was wonderful. I made some new doggy friends, including a sweet old black lab, a lab puppy or two, and a precious boxer, and I saw old friends, including my doggy nephew and... my favorite black lab (the one I thought I'd never see again). I laughed a lot and snuggled a lot and even went for a jog or two. Some of these jogs were even on purpose! Only one of them was up a tree. And even though it was hard work, and even though it was a wee bit gross sometimes, I learned how it feels to do meaningful work I truly enjoy. I also learned that I don't need a glamorous job to feel fulfilled.

(I also fell in love with a cat. Me! The Queen of the Dog People!)

Dolls! My plastic friends took up most of my time. I got back into re-rooting dolls once I found some amazing sources for doll hair and refined my technique, and I must have done at least 20. That's not including partial re-roots or dolls I re-did with my shiny new doll hair. I also did a ton of sewing. In just one month I made 22 outfits and 10 doll quilts. If you're guessing that my dolls have some spiffy-looking bedrooms, you're right! If you're guessing that my poor Ken dolls still have no pants, you're also right.

I went thrift-hunting for dolls and furniture and discovered the wonder that is Savers. I followed a ton of doll blogs and toy-related Youtube channels. I spent an insane amount of time on Pinterest, looking at sewing and customizing tutorials, and I'm not the least bit ashamed. Pinterest is awesome and helpful and fun, fun, fun.

I also started a new blog, Sarah Plays Dolls. I'd rather keep this site just for beading because it makes more sense that way.  I don't want all the beading resource posts to get buried under a pile of semi-naked Ken photos.

Birds! This is an extension of doll collecting. I rescued several stuffed birdies, including two ostriches and a flamingo, from thrift stores. So if I wanted to, say, take some crazy photos to go with my Chickpea Curry Flamingo Soup recipe, I could. Domingo Flamingo is excited about this idea, believing it will jump-start his career as an actor, model, and all-around heartthrob. His words, not mine. 

Stories! Thanks to one of the doll-collecting Youtubers I follow, I discovered the awesomeness that is the scary story (Creepy Pasta) community on Youtube. I have listened to so, so many stories so far, and I have some new favorite authors and narrators. I also wrote my first fiction in forever, Crazy Quilt, and read it to my writing group during our annual Halloween storytelling party. I even showed it to complete strangers, which is unheard of for me.

Voice Acting! I did my first ever voice acting, something I'd always wanted to do, and I loved every minute of it. Mr. Sequin made a stop motion film for his niece for her birthday, and I voiced both of the characters. This led to another opportunity to audition for a role in someone else's project. Once I get over my self-consciousness, I'll go into more detail.

Maps! During a road trip, I learned how to read a map after years of being petrified of the things. I even got a little bit possessive over it. It's a small thing, but something I never thought I would do.

Publishing! I got a tutorial published in Bead and Button Magazine. This was awesome and surprising. But the very best thing? Two of my pieces appear in Karen Williams' new book about freeform peyote beading. I'm so excited and beyond flattered that she asked me. After becoming a backer on Kickstarter, hearing about the hard work and dedication she put into the project, and lending my editing eye, the book feels like a nephew or niece to me. 

Volunteering! The Idea Store got a new director, and I kind of love her. I came out of my volunteering hiatus for awhile to help with the fabric sale (I also bought 16 pounds of fabric) and the jewelry sale (I bought almost as many beads). During the jewelry sale, I worked with a friend of mine, and something astonishing happened. She gave me a lot of responsibility and frequently asked for my input. And I actually stepped up to the challenge. I tend to see myself as irresponsible and flaky, and I don't give people many chances to rely on me -- the idea is terrifying. But I was a grown-up about it, and it felt freaking amazing. 

Driving! I took a pretty long volunteering hiatus, and I used this time to practice my driving -- mostly going to, you guessed it, toy and thrift stores. I now know all kinds of alternate routes to get where I need to go, and this came in handy one rainy morning when our sump pump broke and turned into a fountain... and I had to navigate around closed and flooded streets to get to the hardware store. Once again, someone relied on me, and I pulled through. Maybe it's a little disappointing not to have a swimming pool in the basement, since it puts a damper on my whale farming dream, but one step at a time....

Beading! Yes, there was some actual beading towards the end of the year. On a dog-sitting job in the country, I started doing some playful, unplanned, freeform embroidery. Nothing's finished right now, but everything is fun. That's the most important thing, now that making jewelry is a hobby, not a business.

So many other things happened, but a post can only go on for so long before the reader and the writer go cross-eyed. So I'll finish this by saying, I'm kind of proud of myself for living a playful, unplanned, freeform life and for making room for all of my interests. I'd like to keep this up, but that sounds too much like a plan. So whatever happens, happens. Even Walden.

Now it's your turn: what did you do last year? Let's catch up!

Sequintastically yours,

Sarah J Sequins

And flamingo