Saturday, March 29, 2008

Psst! The Secret's Out (& Critique Me Please?)

I decided to split my one Etsy shop into two, and rather than move the gazillion supplies over, I'm leaving them there. I opened a new shop just for my handmade jewelry and artsy thangs:

Stay tuned for the stocking...the tweaking...the favorite-ing...the minis here and there...the figuring out all the various pages I need to update ...and all that.

And so in the spirit of new (shop) adventures, I thought I'd make the next poll (look left) something about your favorite stuff that I make. I can tell how many visitors, how many favorites, and of course how many sales, but what I can't get from that is a critique about what people like or don't like -- photographs, angles, descriptions, pricing, etc.

My poll questions will be about what jewelry you liked best in my old shop, or rather what jewelry you think I should stock my new shop with. Notice I didn't say "buy" -- I just want to know what stuff wowed you the most (if at all...)

So... I would LOVE it if you'd comment here, as well as vote in the April poll.

Here are some links to get you started...

Lilac Peyote Stitch Tassel Earrings

Pink Ballerina Rhinestone Earrings

Trade Bead Hoops -- Mixed Metals

Spring Queen -- recycled metal brooch

Japanese Blossom Metals Necklace
(I think this one needs to be re-shot)

Do ya like these photos? Pricing? Do ya think they are a good fit for the new shop? Which pieces do you think are the best? And which leave you going "huh?" or "duh?" Honesty. I can take it. 8-)

and yes I'll be so embarrassed if nobody comments...LOL!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hot Fun Earrings

When I bought these brass stampings, I thought they'd be nice for little collage/resin type projects, but I also idly wondered if I had any cabochons at home that would fit them.

HA! In the first box I pulled out, I hit the jackpot with some of Andrea Adam's (Beadmask on eBay) great vintage rhinestones.

Ok, Hyacinth. Tangerine. Tequila Sunrise. I think I'm ready for summer now!

In my Etsy shop, y'all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Found Art Jewelry Book

Here's a brand spankin' new book that looks interesting: Semi-Precious Salvage: Creating Found-Art Jewelry by Stephanie Lee. Hot off the presses! The picture comes from Amazon but if you purchase from the author you get a few special goodies along with the (signed) copy. Woot!

I would have thought the title would say "Found Object" rather than Found-Art (which is technically not a word) but hey, this is probably where my German sense of order combined with my Irish way with words can really get in the way of a perfectly good jewelry experience...

It's a bit hard to tell from the Table of Contents precisely what's involved, but judging by the pictures it looks like lots of fun with metal, wire, pearls, bits of trim, perhaps some leather, paper, beads, and vintage photographs. Do I see tin snips? Sawing? Hammering? Woohoo!

Here's the book on Amazon, where you can peek inside yourself:

And here's the artist's website, where you can order direct:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beader's Color Palette, new book by Margie Deeb

Oh my! I saw a printout of the PDF preview of this book at Margo Field's bead shop (Poppy Field Bead Co.) last weekend and you know you're in for a treat when a consummate beadiste who's also a professional graphic designer decides to put out her, what, fourth book?

Margie is billing this as a coffee-table book of inspiration, but I notice it also includes tutorials for several beading stitches as well as projects. The list of artists who created projects for this book is pretty impressive! (but I'll let you download the PDF to see who's in it...)

Visit Margie's site to pre-order the book (it comes out this summer), and/or to download the 8-page PDF preview.

Psst! Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Confused by color? Don’t be. Get The Beader’s Color Palette, a priceless resource for beaders seeking inspiration for their jewelry designs. Author Margie Deeb presents 220 palettes inspired by five diverse themes, along with examples of finished jewelry and 20 step-by-step projects that interpret those themes. From the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth), to artists’ palettes (from ancient Egyptian through modern art), from world cultures (including Latin America, India and Tibet, Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East) to environments (rainforests, the Southwest, the Mediterranean), to the natural world (marine life, birds, insects)--these palettes capture the essence of countless human experiences and dreams. Beginners will love the basics section on off-loom stitches, loom weaving, and stringing; more advanced beaders will be inspired to take on the wide world of beautiful color.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Life...Little Life, Celebrate Life

Oy, I thought I'd posted these already. These are the final three artist trading cards, that I finished up after ATC swap two weekends ago:

And here's the little pile-o-cards I took to the swap -- I think there are 15 cards total:

Group shot (Everybody SMILE!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Last Night I Dreamed I Made Monoprints

I was in a local studio, signed up for an entire weekend of monoprinting (which, BTW, I've never done IRL), sitting at a big table next to a very peripheral acquaintance who is actually a fine painter whose works sell for big bucks (and a cool guy ).

I was brrrrrrilliant! Ok, maybe not brilliant, but in the dreamtime I was able to forego all that learning-your-medium time and head straight for successful experimentation. I dabbed paint onto the glass with a brush, and then I made squiggles in the paint with a sharp plastic thing and Q-tips. I put on paint and removed it with a cheesecloth. I anticipated places on the paper that would be collaged, and I was in the flow, in the groove...but it's a funny thing -- I don't remember actually pulling any prints, just preparing the glass.

My work, I humbly propose, was combination of Italian Renaissance landscape-inspired compositions with a bit of Kenneth Patchen thrown in, but more uniquely feminine.

At one point the teacher asked me if I wanted to perhaps turn the paper horizontally, but I said, oh no, and explained about the Renaissance landscapes (it's good to have a vertical space to get all those little Italian hills into the background...)

I remember deciding to write backwards onto the paper before I monoprinted it even though obviously it would still be backwards in the final project. I thought this was such a clever little pun. I wrote in loopy letters (backwards) "Hand it over or I'll kidnap your wife..." which made my artiste friend howl with laughter. And then near the top I wrote some stuff in French. I put the paper next to the glass and made a composition that was sort of like a certain Giorgione painting, with a detective in what would become the bottom left.

Dang, the whole thing was a big ole left brain/right brain exercise. Today I feel psychically cleansed, LOL!

Yes, what a great weekend I had in my dream. Excuse me now, I must hot glue a pinback to a recycled metal brooch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tubular Peyote Beadwork Video on YouTube

In this video by tsummerlee, you'll see how to create a large cylinder of beads using peyote stitch. She illustrates the elusive "step up" at the ends of the rows (in even count peyote stitch). And then she shows how to zip one end of the cylinder together to make a little pouch.

I really like that she narrates over slides instead of video because this is one YouTube tutorial that doesn't stop and start while it downloads -- you can actually watch it all the way through!

A couple of things I'd add to her already fine tutorial --If you're going to create a pattern, it's especially helpful to make sure the number of beads in each row (not the first row, but the rest of the project) is divisible by 12. That way you can create patterns that are based on repetitions of 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12! That's a lot of opportunity for pattern variations.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blue Apatite Bangle Ring

Blue Apatite Ring
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya
I acquired (acquired??? ok, I forked over the $$$ for) these beautiful blue apatite faceted stones and promptly made up a bangle ring out of a few of them. Twenty to be precise. On sterling silver charms, antiqued for a vintage-y look. In my Etsy shop, y'all. 8-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Martha Stewart's in my craft room

I know, I know – real art doesn’t come from the craft store. But hey, good products, er, CAN. I admit it, I like the Martha Stewart craft products at Michael’s. They are good quality, beautifully designed, and I think they’re interesting, too. Who else would come up with brown satin photo corners? Fabric tab sets that come with horizontal and vertical letters, numbers, symbols, and the months for like $4.00! Even her bone folder is special. I love my little glue pen – I use it to seal my mini-envelopes. It’s nice to hold. It doesn’t get crusty between uses. The cap hasn’t split. And I’ve been using it for a lot longer than I ever expected it to last.

Sometimes I’m at home with a cold, or junior is, or it snows (in Albuquerque, half an hour of snow gets you a two-hour delay every time!). The first thing I do is turn on the craft shows. (Have you noticed, they seem to be pushing them farther back into mid-morning/early afternoon?) Anyway, I’ve seen every Carol Duvall episode at least twice. I don’t care for the scrapbooking projects, much – they’re a bit harder for me to translate into something I’d do.

Some of the new craft shows drive me crazy. It’s all about young, instant, funky, and frankly, not too skillful, although I l do love the guest artists on the show with the gay guy and the redhead. Or is it the younger woman with the occasional Southern accent? Oy, I’m confused. The woman from Wisconsin who wears the homemade belt buckles is the worst! I emailed that show once, begging them to tell her to take off her big jewelry and tie back her hair when she’s using power tools for crissakes, she’s setting a bad example. I don’t mind funky so much, but the camera picks up every blobby booboo and I just cringe when they mush glue around with their fingers.

So here I am, longing for a show for the …“careful” crafter (hey -- I refuse to call it anal retentive or OCD – it’s actually called good craftsmanship, folks) who is willing to spend more than an hour on a project, and along comes Martha, out of jail and ready to make just-so keepsakes for the Westport crowd. Her projects involve generic tools and materials, as far as I can tell, and unlike some of the other shows, they aren’t blatant promotions for her or anybody else’s company although she’ll tell you where to get stuff. They are actually handmade. Hand painted, hand sewn, ok, hand hot glue gunned. They’re involved. Warning: You might actually need to measure. Here are the episodes, in case you don’t believe me:
(You have to click the projects at the bottom of the text. In my browser, they don’t show up as links…)

Hehe, I can’t believe I’m promoting Martha Stewart. But there you go. No, I won’t say it. I won’t! But it is…

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oils vs. Acrylics

Vance from the ABQ ATC list sent this along. Sorry I can't reproduce it here according to the owner's TOU:

Brrrrrrrilliant! ;-)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

March Poll -- Your Work Table -- Fess Up!

I just realized that people who subscribe to this poll won't necessarily know I added a new poll for March. So ok, look over there. To your left! (Your other left...) There. Are we noticing a trend here? So far I am far from alone at the bottom of the choices... hehe.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Absolutely Beads 2007

Holy Crikey and Spittin' Beads! Check out the beadwork in this amazing album. Mixed media beadwork galore, a great diversity of techniques -- I wanna move there just to be near it all!

Over 70 images and it's taking all my self-restraint not to swipe a few just to make sure you CLICK THE LINK AND GO THERE.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Collage Pet Peeves

Probably because I’m working on a batch of ATCs for a swap on Saturday…and doing a lot of finicky cutting, I'm tuning in to collage everywhere! I’m noticing irritating things from people actually selling their collages and whatnot. And I’d like to put this into some kind of “best practices” framework, so we can call this a civilized rant?

First of all – will you please cut carefully? If your Madonna or kitty or butterfly is supposed to be floating on top of another layer, cut all the background away. Don’t accidentally leave a bright white sliver that distracts from the composition. Pay attention to lines and edges. Make your curves curvy, not jaggedy, and round the corners that should be rounded. Slow down if you have to. Use a tiny pair of scissors. Unconscious cutting makes it look like you were in a hurry, or too lazy to care.

If you’re cutting from a magazine, or cutting an image out of a cluster of other things, and, say, the feathers on top of the exotic dancer’s head are cropped off at the top of an old postcard – make it work! Please? Arrange things in a way that make it look like you did it, on purpose. I saw a collage today where the figure’s foot was cut off at the ankle, undoubtedly ‘cause that’s where the magazine page ended, and it was just left like that, in the middle of the page. Meanwhile, 1/8” away was an element that could have been scooted over just a bit to cover the foot, and it would have been a much more professional looking job. When you do it just right – nobody will notice, usually. But when you leave these things unattended, they stand out like sore thumbs.

And don’t lay things at an angle just because you want to be fancy or adventurous. Try making things perfectly straight instead. Ha, that’s more difficult, isn’t it? Straight things aren’t necessarily boring – they’re "just so." They look more official. More true. More…purposeful. Or, if you’re going to use angles, try making them mean something. Make them consistent or make them interact with other things on the page/collage/card/whatever it is you’re making.

Which brings me to the last thing. Composition. IMNSHO, things should interact. There is a tendency – and I don’t know why I’m surprised that people who sell their collage work do this, but they do – for everything to have its own space, and to fill up their space without really having a reason to be there. I really enjoy seeing elements intrude upon each other, gang together, infringe on each other’s boundaries, overlap in thoughtful ways, play with each other’s energy fields, say hello and give hugs. You don’t have to put something in every single quadrant, just to fill up space. Did God fill up every little place in the universe? No, of course not. God left resting places. Yeah, like air. Oceans. Deserts, and whatever outer space is called. We should too.

There, I managed to mention exotic dancers and God all in the same post! And I didn’t even get to glue ripples! (Cause when it comes to glue ripples I have no room to talk…)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Proud Owner Death to All Humans Bead

Yes that's right folks, I am the proud (if somewhat confused) owner of a Chris Prussing geobead she tenderly named the "Death to All Humans Bead," not because it's hard to make (says she), but because it's probably laced with uranium. Ack!

True story. Here's a photo:

And it's MINE buahahahaha. It's made of glass beads (often called "vaseline glass"), not those plastic craft beads, and I'm assuming they're vintage.

By the way, Chris has some gorgeous beads, some that don't happen to glow in the dark, as well as the kits and tutorials to make them all, in her new-ish Etsy shop. They are right angle weave projects for the most part.

Back to the Uranium/Vaseline Glass Topic...

~From Beadcats:
Ok I promise not to sleep with it, wear it next to my thyroid or call it Fred.
~From 1st.Glass:
~A thread from the Aeclectic Tarot Forum (where members come to a concensus that uranium doesn't heal people...)
~And here's some info from the Oak Ridge gang (oh, great):

Hmmm. I guess I could make a cell phone charm out of it (that's a radiation joke, folks...).

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Etsy Treasury & Time Machine Funny

Cool! Sprinklejoy from Etsy picked a pair of my earrings for her Etsy Treasury featuring Irises. Not to sound ungrateful but "iris" refers to a bead finish, not the flower, but hey I'm not complainin'!

(Iris -- think "rainbow," as in "arco iris," the Spanish word for rainbow. Er, I guess...)
Oh and the image below is from awhile back, but after I listed my pretty pink ballerinas I looked in the Time Machine 2 which shows what has recently been listed, and in what order, and I got quite a chuckle out of the similar-but-different earrings that were listed at almost exactly the same time:
Life is just chock full of small pleasures such as the above, ain't it?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Three Metals Earrings

Three Metals Earrings
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya
This morning I re-photographed some jewelry that's in my Etsy shop. I like this batch MUCH better. Still some more to reshoot, now that I am getting a better handle on lighting and focusing -- easier said than done! I look at the older photos and go "What was I thinking???" This particular pair was tough, because it's pyrite. Matte stones with a subtle glint that seems to look grainy in most of the shots.