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