Thursday, May 26, 2016

Doing It All

by Staci Louise Smith

I get to make beads and jewelry full time.  I am also mom to three beautiful children, three rescue dogs, a rescue parrot, and wife to a self employed contractor (and let me tell you, he is BUSY and works many many long hours too).

(kids at Christmas, cause yeah, they don't often sit still together for pictures all at once anymore)
On the other hand, these guys all sit anytime there is food out.

People ask me all the time how I do it all.

I assure you, I don't.

There is always something not done- usually cleaning.  And not even because there isn't time, it's really because I just don't enjoy it.  So it is always LAST on the list.

My kids are VERY helpful and do wash and help with everyday chores like vacuuming and dishes and such.

(here are the kids helping to shovel last winter- they really pitch in!)

However, even without hopes of doing it all, my business MUST bring in income.  And if you are self employed in the arts, you know we put twice as much time in as most would for the income we make.  For me, I don't mind, because I would rather do this then anything else.  However, I have had to find ways to "do more".  I still don't do it all, but I am learning to plan better in the studio, and do multiple things at once.

For instance, I had to make beads to send to Bead and Button with Marsha Neal and Nikki Thornburg (they will be selling both their beads with a little bit of mine thrown in at booth #608 ).  

(shamless plug- if you are going to B&B stop by and see Marsha and Nikki- all of our beads are divine together!!!!)
Here is a pair of earrings I made with my earring components and Nikki's headpins!!!

And here is a necklace I made with Nikki's headpins, my focal and Marsha's accent beads!!!

(yeah, I squeezed making those samples in too!!)
Keeps me from being bored, right?

Anyhow, I also have a free class I need to work on for Craft Art Edu.  I also needed some blog material for future blogs.  


As I was making the beads, I made the items for my free class, taking pictures along the way.  As I painted the beads, I painted and photographed for my class.  I also found a great topic for a blog- on using ONE mold and how you can still make an original bead each time.  (FYI- that is another post, and the molds I made were to save me............TIME!)

I try to do most of the labor intensive stuff in the studio and office while the kids are in school or after they go to bed.  Because once the kids come home, its help with homework, dinner, and time with them!  

So I am learning.  Sometimes I can't multi-task.  Some things need all my one on one attention.  but I try, that is all I can do.
There are days I don't get to set foot in the studio or office.  And you know what?  That's fine.  Because I do all the shopping and cooking around here.  Kids have Dr. appts and dogs need to play.  I haven't found perfect balance, but I am always trying to make my time more efficient.

So how do you "do it all?"  Do you have areas you are proud that you have streamlined?  Are you still feeling overwhelmed and see area's you feel you could improve on?  (there are always area's we could improve on, right?)

Because we only have two arms and one brain, right?

I know for me one of the things that takes my time is sheer lack of desire to do something I don't feel like doing.  Since I work from home, I can get very bored.  There are some tasks I plain old don't feel like doing on certain days.  So I find that I then do other things that are not of top priority, to avoid said task.  So I have found that I need to sit down and tell myself that this is a business, and I am at work, and if I punched a clock I would HAVE to get all this done before 4.  Sometimes that helps me to put it in perspective.  Sometimes I just end up cleaning out drawers.....................

Friday, May 20, 2016

Starfish Color Palette Challenge

by Sherri Stokey

I have a challenge for you!  Here's the scoop:  I pulled out some beads and cord in some of my favorite colors a while back when I was feeling a little low (that's them in the photo above).  I chose some neutral tan and ecru along with teal and turquoise, then added a bit of bronze for depth.  The color palette is soothing and beachy and perfect for summer (or any time you want to pretend it's summer).

Using different combinations of the colors and different patterns, I'm up to around sixteen pieces of micro macrame jewelry inspired by this palette (you can see more of them on my blog at if you're interested).

Some pieces are fussier and some just scream "relaxing on the beach".

Lately I've been messing more with the neutral part of the palette:

So what's the challenge?  I want to see what you make inspired by this photo:

Here are the details:  make something inspired by the photo.  It can be jewelry, sculpture, a painting - anything.  Heck, decorate a cake!  Make a quilt!  Anything handmade.  Share a photo of your creation with me by June 15, 2016.  I will put together a post with photos from everyone so you can see what fun things everyone comes up with.  If you'd like, do a blog post and send the link with your photo and I'll include that, too.  Please send photos to me through my business Facebook page (so I don't miss something in that mysterious "other" folder) or via email.

Who's in? 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

LEAP! Oh wait, did I look?

by Staci Louise Smith

I unfortunately tend to say yes to new things; to more shows, to new ventures, to deadlines, with no planning on how they will all get done!  Thankfully I work good under pressure, though as I get older, my body and mind don't appreciate it as much.

(tired me guzzling coffee)

Sometimes though, leaping, without looking, allows new and exciting things to come into my life and business.  I find often if I put too much thought into something, I will find a million reasons not to do it.  And really, what is happening, is I am letting my fear and doubt rule my decision making.

Now, don't get me wrong, somethings really do need to be thought out.  And my brain, is not your brain, so, my method may not work for you, and maybe you never talk yourself out of things.
However, what I am trying to say, is don't be afraid to try something new.  You can always choose not to do it again if it doesn't work out.

So this year I cut out some Art Shows I was doing that were not bringing in the money I needed.  I added some new ones to try out, and decided to spend more time teaching.  Since I have three kids and am not able to travel, online teaching seemed the thing to do.  So I signed a contract with Craft Art Edu.  You may know them, because Sherri Stokey teaches there too!  

Here is her most recent class, Drunkards Path

Anyhow, with some encouragement from Sherri, I signed up with them.  It was a long learning process for me, but I got my first class up and I could NOT BE MORE HAPPY I LEAPED!

I learned soooo much about creating an online class.  My editor was always available to answer my questions (sometimes over and over again).  It took me longest to do the voice over, because apparently, I hate hearing my own voice, and I was really critical of it.  It was also hard to find quiet time in my house.  I share the office with my hubs and I have 3 kids and 3 rescue dogs and a parrot.  There are small quiet windows in my day!  lol!

Anyhow, I picked a big one for the first class, because I could NOT wait to share this with you.  It is called 

Gold Rush: The Rustic Crackle Technique

You can watch a free preview and order it here

I called it Gold Rush, because I honestly came up with this technique in a rush.  Its a spin off a traditional technique, which I totally messed up, and I found a way to turn my mistake into something I ended up LOVING.  I spent time re-creating it and experimenting and timing and combining......and finally had enough information to make beads and my class.

I was chatting with another teacher recently, and we talked about people hesitating to play during their creative time.  Let me say this: just dive in!  Trust yourself.  All of us teachers want you to try new things.  Take the techniques we teach you and begin to ask yourselves "what if I used it with this?"  Or changed the back ground color?  Or added this?  Almost as if you are doing science experiments.  Because that, my friends, is where the magic happens!

This leap I took went well for me.  Both the experimenting with a new technique and joining Craft Art Edu have been great!  Not all of experiments do.  I promise, I have piles of "not fit for human eyes" beads and wire graveyards........but its how the really good stuff happens.  So to me, its worth the mistakes.  Its worth the cast offs.  It's worth the time.

So I challenge you to play.  To take a technique you know, or have been wanting to try, and then take it a step further.  Push your boundaries and LEAP!  Even if you don't know where you will land.  Like I said, you can always choose to not do it again if it doesn't work out.  But you may just end up with something unique and that you love too!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Handmade lazy susan tool organizer...and giveaway winner announcement!

Carol Dekle-Foss
(Giveaway announcement at bottom of post)
Hi Everyone! I have been re-organizing my studio to allow for a better workflow and wanted to share my latest creation. A flex shaft or dremel bit organizer! I fell in love with this one, but decided to make my own. Handmade tools are MUCH cooler;)
I first started by looking at thrift stores for the right piece of wood that I could recycle and use. I found a weird handmade thingamabob that was perfect! It had a base that I removed, and a center hole with a removable dowel running down the middle. Handmade toilet paper holder gift that someone didn't want?? Who knows, but it was just what I needed!
I first measured and marked to allow at least one inch in between the bits. After marking where I wanted the bits to go, I used a punch to give the drill bit something to grab. The largest flex shaft bit I have is 1/8" in diameter, so I used a 9/64" drill bit, to allow a little wiggle room. 
I wrapped tape around the drill bit marking the depth I wanted to go, and drilled at a forty five degree angle.
 I then drilled a couple large holes with a hole saw for easy access to small tools I use often. I also drilled smaller holes for my saw blades. 
The best part? It swivels! My husband had a swiveling base thingy that I attached. 

I LOVE it! I have two more sides that still need to be finished.

You could use a 4'x4' or even a 6'x6' piece of wood and make your own lazy susan. If you decide to make your own, here is a swivel base you can get for cheap at Home Depot. Beats spending $50 bucks, although that stand is VERY nice.

I also found this desk organizer and riveted copper wire to the sides for easy access to silver wire I use often.

Now for the giveaway!

CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Patricia Quinn! You are the lucky winner of all three pieces. I will be contacting you within the next few days for your mailing address.

Thank you to all who commented and shared your stories, and also for your warm healing thoughts. 
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