Friday, April 26, 2013

Are you Challenged by Challenges?

I've had a week of challenges.  

A few of them were of the  "I'll call it a  'challenge' when I really mean I would rather not be doing this thing" type.... and a few that were fun-filled "I'll do this even though it's difficult just because I want to" kind!   It's the latter I want to talk about today.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I love design challenges!   I love being in them.  I love hosting them!   I even love thinking about and planning what I would do if I was in  one I'm not in!  :-)  (Can't do them all!)    I'm planning to team up with others to host at least 2 design challenge blog hops this year, and hope you will be able to join us.

These past few weeks, I've been working on a couple of major design challenges.  I won't tell all, but one is for a small group of people from the "Metals" group on  Artisan Whimsy.   We signed up, then were selected for this month's challenge.   It has involved designing 5 pieces each.   It seemed so easy when I volunteered!  ;-)    Our designs were due Thursday and I'll announce when the results will be released.   I encourage you to join Artisan Whimsy so you can see these as soon as they are published!    (You can sign up from the main AW page.)     I'll also be posting my own results on this blog, but it may be days after the AW event. 

In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences about design challenges!

  • Have you participated in a blog hop/design challenge yet?  
  • If so, what were some of your favorites?   What did you like about them?   
  • About how much time seems right to you for developing your design(s) for a design challenge?
  • If you haven't participated, is there anything preventing  you from trying one (that you feel comfortable sharing)? 
  • Are there things you wish would be implemented in a blog hop to make things go more smoothly? 

I learn something new every time I host a challenge or participate in one!   I hope you feel the same way!   

Thanks for sharing your ideas here!   Have a great weekend!



Graphic Images:


Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

The day is getting late, but couldn't miss my chance to say

"Happy Earth Day"

to you!   I've worked in several environmental-related jobs,  as some of you know; in fact, one or more of you were there with me!    I take my recycling seriously (as my family is painfully aware of)!   But there is always so, so much more that can be done in our daily lives and our businesses to help our Earth stay healthy.   In fact, recycling is the last of several options when doing what is right. 

You probably know the mantra by now....

Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

I don't plan a long sermon today, and there is no finger-pointing.  This is not about creating guilt.   It's about encouraging creative thinking for options that result in a positive outcome for our businesses and our planet.

I think I hit it right part of the time, and miss part of the time.    And there is no one right solution for all of us, as we sell different products that need to be packed and protected in different ways.

I just take this day to encourage all of us to give a thought about how we live and how we package and ship our products.  It's one thing we can control in a big, big world of things we cannot.

1) First, REDUCE...if you can.  This begins in making buying choices.   One store may sell you a tool, another may offer the same tool in a plastic container way larger than the tool itself.  It will require you to get a sharp object and a pair of gloves or several bandaids  to pry the tool out.  Which will you purchase?   You may have choices.      Reducing also pertains to selling and shipping.   No one wants their items to arrive broken.  But if you tend to go way overboard with the bubblewrap, or use a box to send a very small item, maybe you can do with a little less?   You will save money and save on unnecessary materials.

2) REUSE... Do you have an envelop, a box, a plastic bag or container you could use again?  Either for its original purpose or for some other?  

Ex:  While I would normally recycle a plastic container lid, I often keep nice flat ones to use for mixing patinas or holding my metal pieces while they dry.   I can use them many times for this purpose.  It saves me from paying money for something similar at a craft store and allows me to reuse an item I have already.   Reusing ranks higher on the list than recycling, so when I have a choice, I reuse first.

I know some of you find opportunities to reuse copper and other metals; vintage buttons and beads; fabrics, ribbons and lace; and many other items, to make lovely jewelry.   A discussion on Facebook some time back encouraged me to save some copper pipe that was being removed from my bathroom.  (I'm not sure what to do with it yet, but I'll save it until I know and have the skills and tools to work with it!)

Ex One of the first and most talented artists I ran into reusing copper and other objects for jewelry was Tracy Bell from the blog, "Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash."  She has a shop on Etsy called "TracyBell."  I continue to find her fascinating and full of fresh ideas!   She has been mentioned on this blog many times, but not recently, so if you haven't checked her out, you may want to!


3) RECYCLE... We are fortunate to have curbside recycling where I live and have for the 20 years I've been here.   We pay extra for it, but I don't mind.   I'm the "guardian" of the the recycling bin in the garage where we take things out dozens of times a day.   And I'm the "officer in charge" of the large bin it all goes into for pick up once a week.   SOMEONE must keep a close eye on it or crazy things end up in there!   Anyway, what can go in there, goes.   But I know some of you are also very good about recycling precious metals and other scraps of things you use in your business, and I'd love to hear more about that!

In fact, please share in the comment section regarding any ideas you might have that we can do to help with the environment.   What you think  as a seller and/or a customer about how your packages arrive.  What are your priorities in packaging?   Would love to hear from you!   

In the meantime,  hope the planet has a peaceful night and day.      Happy Earth Evening!  :-)


Image Credits:

(Reuse)  Treasure Tube Necklaces:    Photo is property of Tracy Bell.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Val's Ceramic Garden Winner's Announced!

My thanks to all of you who stopped by in the last two days to read the post about Valerie Garber, and my thanks to Val for being our special guest!

If you missed out, be sure to check out her interesting life and work with ceramics and the women in Namibia.   More information can be found at these sites:

Thanks to Val's generosity, we were able to have 2 sets of give-away gifts from her shop this time!   Winners were picked from those who left messages on the last blog entry, then were assigned a number, and the winners were picked by a random number generator.   And the winners are:

                                    Gift Set #1:  Flower & Leaf + Baby Elephant

                          WINNER:   PAM from KLASSYJOOLZ

Gift Set #2:  Orange Elephant + Blue Bird Pendant


Thank you all again!   Wishing you all a good week!


P.S.  Yes, it's Sunday, but no outdoor nature photos today.  Instead we have photos of nature in ceramic form!    Flowers, a bird, and  closeups of  elephants--I don't get a chance for elephant shots every day in Kansas!   ;-)

Image Credits:

Photos of ceramics by Sharyl, April 2013.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Welcome to Val's Ceramic Garden!

The talented Valarie Garber opened her Etsy shop,  ValsCeramicGarden, on Jan 29, 2013.   In that short time, she's already become quite a sensation!   And there are so many good reasons why.   Let me name just a few!  

Valarie does beautiful work on so many different levels. 

1) One area involves her ceramics.   As she says in her shop announcement, "I love clay and color, and adore gardens! Using porcelain, stoneware, or fired paper clay I focus on detailed hand painting usually with a floral theme."  

I'll show you a few of my favorites currently available from her store.  I will tell you, I've already made two visits and snatched up other favorites, but she just keeps adding more new ones!

Turns out, I love flowers too... and I'm really into coral this year.... AND, I have a special fondness for polka-dotted ceramic beads!   :-)   How did Val know?!  

Dainty ceramic flowers
I bought one of these early this Spring. Can you guess which one?    Now sort of wish I had one of each!   :-)   Aren't they fun?

Double Daisy Ceramic Pendant
Val also sells these lovely (what I call, "3-D" flowers) in many varieties!   Just beautiful!

Of course, there are more than flower pendants, you'll also find the cutest birds, beads, mugs, and fairy garden cottages! 

2) Now if the ceramic work wasn't beautiful enough all on its own, there's more beauty going on behind the scenes!   Profits from Val's Ceramic Garden benefit her African women's project, "Work of Our Hands."  Beads sold in the Etsy shop may be made either by Val or by women from Namibia.  The description specifies which is the case. (I've purchased some of each and can assure you, either way, you get a great piece!)  

Val has also just opened another store, GlobeIn, so that she can sell the finished jewelry the Namibian women make at fair trade value.  

When in Namibia, Val spends a lot of her time teaching the women to make ceramics.  Below are a few photos of the women involved in the project:

I do hope you'll take time to read more about Val's life here and abroad, and read about the artisans in Africa, by looking at "The Work of Our Hands" blog!

And once more, (don't get spoiled, we can't do this every week!)... we'll have a GIVE-AWAY!   Val has generously donated some items so we'll have double-the-goodies!  

Gift Set #1:  Flower & Leaf + Baby Elephant

 Gift Set #2:  Orange Elephant + Blue Bird Pendant

To be entered to win, please visit one of Val's stores and/or her blog, come back and make a comment  here.  Please leave me some way to contact you.  (If you would rather your contact info not be made public, please leave a separate message with the contact info and I won't post that one.)  

Deadline to enter is 10pm Central time Saturday April 20, 2013.    Two names will be randomly chosen from those who enter!   

My sincere thanks to Val Garber for taking the time to work with me on this entry and for being the wonderful giving person that she is!   A special thanks too for donating items for the give-away!   Best wishes in your very fine endeavors!


Image Credits:

With the exception of the last two, photographs used on this page are the property of Valerie Barber and used under special permission.

Photos of the give-away prizes were taken by Sharyl.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Macros: Spring Flowers and Coordinating Components!

Well, it's Sunday again, and Sunday in Spring means I practice macrophotography!  I thought I'd give you a mixture of nature beginning to bloom in my area and some new components about to bloom in my store!  :-)  It's all about Spring!  

Tulips in many colors:

This is our first tulip this year!  It's very tiny and something has munched on it a bit!    I'm nearly positive this came from a large bag of bulbs I found sprouting in the garage one warm winter day!  I missed getting them out in the Fall, 
but thought there might be one more cool spell after the nice warm weather we were having when I planted them. 
The weather was warm and the ground soft for a change.  
They were easy to plant.  Little did I know that "cool spell" would include three heavy snowfalls  that would give the bulbs plenty of time to go dormant!  

I sold a single purple tulip and a pretty pair of pink altered bass tulips last week.   The pairs make nice earrings.   The singles make a lovely necklace or an oversized charm for a bracelet!  I still have one more pink tulip in the store ready to be shipped.  I also have 2 raw brass pieces that haven't been patinated yet.   If you are interested, talk to me about what color you would like, and I'll see if I can whip it up!  :-)   (I can do most colors except a true red.)

Bits of yellow:

Our forsythia bush has finally decided to bloom... a little.

But down the street a block is a house with rows of them dripping with yellow blooms.  A week ago, I went for a walk, and it was about to rain.  I took this semi-spooky photo of their bushes!

This is one example of a new line of handmade embossed copper jewelry components I've been working on.  There are a wide variety of rich color combinations, many including bits of yellow and gold, silver and aqua, purple and turquoise.  They also come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs!   I hope you like them.  I'm expecting them to start appearing in the store sometime this week!   I'll announce on Facebook (and here too if I get the chance!)

Pink is Always Pretty:

Saw this tree from across the street where I was walking this week.  Well, let's say I could tell it was a tree, and it had pink blossoms.

Gotta love a lens that gives you a close-up view!

While we're "talking pink," here's a peak at some jewelry I made that will be included in a silent auction fundraiser later this week!

Watch for the Coupon!

I love color, in nature and jewelry, so I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now!   I do want to take just a moment though  to encourage you to join the Creative Bead Chat (CBC) group on Facebook and the Artisan Whimsy Group.   If you are not sure how to do that, I'll provide more info and instructions next time.   I have a special coupon in Bead Chat Magazine, page 23 that will be running for the next 3 months on AW, and I'd like to make sure you can take advantage of it if you make a purchase.   So more details on that next time!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please let me know if you have questions.    Enjoy the rest of you weekend!  



Friday, April 12, 2013

"Serena's Beadery" Followup and Winner Announcement!

There was such  a great response to our guest last time, Serena Thomas of Serena's Beadery!   I always appreciate your participation when we do an event like this, and it was so fun to read your responses and see all your favorite beads!   I'll show a couple as we go along.  (Sorry, wish I could show them all!)

RAKU MINI Matte Handmade Lampwork 

Glass Bead Spacer - TANERES

(Sherri Stokey's pick)

Some of you had known about Serena's beads for a number of years and others were glad to learn of her.   I had fun  imagining what each of you would make with your bead choices!  

Black SILVERED Ivory Matte Poika Dots 

Lampwork Glass Bead Set- TANERES

(Tanya's choice)

I found I learned a lot more about Serena than I knew when I wrote the blog post...something a bit embarrassing, but also exciting!     First, she has a blog (and she put me on it-- blush!)   And what's more, on her blog I discovered a list of places she sells.  There was Etsy (as I mentioned), and Ebay (as Alice mentioned in her comments), but also Artfire, Facebook, Serena's Beadery website, and Zibbet!   She's EVERYWHERE!  

You can link to each of the stores from this gallery page on the upper right corner her website.  I found more interesting biographical information on the About Me section of her website.  (She has family and staff assistants to help!  Everyone's dream!)   

Congrats on it all, Serena!  It's clear you've worked hard to get where you are!   Thank you for being highlighted here!

Now, there's a winner to be announced, and I better not get any further down this page before I announce her!   The winner, randomly selected, of the combined prize of Serena's beads and my metal components is:

Aly Jackson!

Congrats to Aly!  Aly's prize is already boxed up and will be on its way to her soon!

Thanks again to all of you!   Wishing you all a good weekend!



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Serena's Beadery

The New Year of 2013 began right in at least one way for me.   That was about the time I found Serena Thomas' Etsy store, "Serena's Beadery" (also known as "Taneres,") and placed my first order!     I have to say,  there is room in my heart for many a bead maker, but Serena is fast becoming one of my new favorites for lampwork.
I've since placed several more orders and can't seem to get enough of her beads in a rainbow of colors that never seems to end!

While Serena may be new to me, she's not new to making handmade beads. She has been making lampwork glass beads since 2001, one at a time, in her studio in south central Missouri.

There is a wonderful series of photographs on the evolution of Serena's Studio 
in the ABOUT section of her Etsy site!
This is one involving her collection of glass!
It's fun, please take a look!

You can also read more about Serena on her website!

It's always interesting to learn how good ideas get their start.  Here's one for you!   Some time back,  Serena created this color gallery, and put it online.  She says, " I started it a reference for myself and then decided it could serve as a wonderful resource for other lampworkers and also bead buyers trying to match up colors and make choices."     Take a look and think of the many uses for this!    Perhaps it could help in designing jewelry too! 

I thought today I'd show you a couple of the items I've made using beads from Serena's Beadery.  I think some of you will recognize these.  

Lampwork Spacer Beads 5 RAINFOREST GREEN 

Glossy Handmade Glass Donut Rondelle 

 (Serena's Beadery)

Gray and Green Celtic Ceramic and Lampwork Swirl Necklace

Handmade gray triangular ceramic pendant by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio. This pendant dangles from a section of chain connected to a scrolled sterling silver filled wire, containing two 14mm gray ceramic beads by Marti Conrad of Marti's Buttons-n-Beads; three smaller,  10mm dark green swirled lampwork beads handmade by Serena Thomas of Serena's Beadery)
(Necklace by Sharyl's Jewelry)

YELLOW and PINK FLOWER Pair Lampwork Bead - taneres - mto

(Serena's Beadery)

One of our faithful blog followers won a gift certificate to my store 
and selected these right after I listed them!
(Not to name names, but her first initial is "Shirley!"  ha!)
(Earrings from Sharyl's Jewelry)

(I have many more of Serena's beads I'm "hoarding," 
but I'm not showing you those!    No way! )     :-)

here are some more of my favorites currently for sale in
 Serena's Beadery:

MOJITO Dark LAVENDER matte beach European Charm 

Lampwork Bead mto TANERES

PEA GREEN mini glossy Handmade Lampwork Glass 

Spacer Glass Beads- taneres

Lampwork Glass Bead REFLECTIVE LOVE WREATH Handmade Dots Set - taneres

Give me time,
I'll get them all!   ;-)

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As I often like to do, 
I'm offering a little giveaway:

1) I'd like you to go to Serena's Beadery, 
find something special you like, 
and come back and tell us what it is. 
2) Please paste in the URL to make it easy 
for us to look it up too.
3) Also leave your name and... 
4) ....a way for me to reach you.
(You can leave contact info in a separate message 
if you would rather that not be public.)

That's it!   I'll put your name in the drawing.  Deadline is Thursday night at 11:59pm, Central time.

The drawing winner will receive:
3 of Serena's handmade squash orange mini spacer beads
2 of
my handmade copper components, 
1 altered brass sunflower component, and 
1 pair of handmade copper earwires make a pair of earrings and a pendant, or to use on a charm bracelet, whatever, decide!  

Have fun everyone, 
and thank you to Serena for being our special guest!


P.S.  You may want to drop by the Serena's Beadery Facebook Page too and give her a "like."  Be sure to click "Get Notifications" and "Show in Newsfeed" too if you want to keep up with announcements.

* * * * * * * *

Photo Credits:

Photographs from Serena's Beadery are copyrighted and used by permission of Serena Thomas for the purpose of this blog post only.   Please do not copy without consulting with Serena.

Photographs from Sharyl's Jewelry were taken by Sharyl McMillian-Nelson and are copyrighted on ArtFire.

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