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June 2012

Lovely Blues

I told you all my desk and workspace wouldn't remain tidy for very long, but I think the results are well worth the mess. Many months ago my friend Sandra sent me her stash of seed beads. Then, shortly after I moved my friend Audrey sent me an assortment of beads which were positively divine. I've used little of these beads, and I have them set aside from my regular stash because they are special. ♥

Well. I decided last night that I was going to make something pretty from some of these beads just for me. It started off with just a set of bracelets.

Mother of pearl, crystal, and seed bead stretch bracelets.
But then I had some left over mother of pearl beads. The dark blue ones are the ones from Audrey. The lighter blue were from my own stash. What to do with those last lonely beads? Make earrings of course!

Mother of pearl, crystal, and glass seed bead earrings.
Well at that point, I still had plenty of seed beads left over from Sandra. I had earrings and a set of bracelets. Clearly, I needed a necklace to match. Why not, right? Might as well while I'm already at it. I delved through my stash of focal sized pendants and cabochons and found a rectangle shaped piece of cat's eye glass. It was even about the same shape as the largest mother of pearl beads from Audrey, and it was the same lovely dark blue.

Wire wrapped glass pendant.
But wait, there's more. While I was delving into my collection of focals, I found this smaller cabochon that was the same dark blue. I also had some ring blanks. Not my new ones, but some old ones that are a bit hardier and not quite as bright a silver. Why not test one of those out? I haven't ever used them before. They were part of a random assortment of findings I got from FMG.

Glass cat's eye ring with wire wrapping + seed beads.
So I made a ring! It was very pretty and very simple all on its own, but I decided to make it a little fancier by weaving in a bit of wire wrapping through the slats in the ring itself. I rather like the result. It's the first time I've ever made a ring quite like that, so I definitely think I'm going to have to experiment some more. I do have a lot of smaller cabochons.

All in all, it makes for a very lovely set of jewelry. I had been needing some blue jewelry, too. I had just about every other color, but I wear a lot of blue. The entire set worn all at once is sure to turn some heads.

Thanks for the lovely beads, Sandra and Audrey! I adore you both.

Much love,

Even More Organizing

I'm not completely neurotic, I swear. But I do like for things to be organized and tidy. I work much more efficiently when things are where I can get to them easily. Remember in my last blog post those lovely before and after photos showing how neat my workspace was?

This box destroyed that:

A seemingly innocuous box... of doom.
No really. The moment I opened this box and started sorting the contents my room suddenly exploded and looked like this:

That's a lot of stuff to sort through. Most of it is excessive amounts of packaging, which thankfully, I recycle and reuse. But man, is it ever time consuming! I started in with organizing this stuff yesterday afternoon when I got home from work. I wasn't finished until about 3pm this afternoon.

But now I have all the seed beads a girl could ever need, clasps, findings, chatons, and flatback crystals. And it's all neatly put away. So once again, my work space looks like this:

Enjoy the view while you can. This won't last long.
At least, it looks like this for the next few minutes. I've got projects to work on and beads to play with!

Much love,

Time to Organize

A couple of weeks ago I posted before and after pictures on my Facebook page of my workspace which ... also happens to be my bedroom. It's like a little miniature artists' studio, and it makes me immensely happy.

Well, in order to be able to work on more things I not only had to put things away in an organized way so that I could get to them, but I also have to organize what's in those boxes and drawers.

Wednesday night, I organized this epic mess:

It is indeed organized now. All the large gemstones have a bag, crystals have a bag, glass pearls, natural pearls, etc, have all been grouped together so that I can find them easily. All the small stuff has been put away into the ah... 21 plastic organizers I already have that are full of beads..

I did all of this not only to make it easier for my to create new designs, but also because I have a very large wholesale order on its way to me. I should have it today, and I need to make space for all of those new things.

In my defense, I did not buy just beads. In fact, the only beads I bought were seed beads which I most certainly needed. The 5g and 10g packages I have just weren't enough to complete the sort of designs I've been working on.

I primarily bought an entire mess of findings! I was running low on just about everything, particularly clasps, jump rings, and crimp beads. Those are very important items, you know.

Anyhow, I'm getting antsy for this epic package. I hope it gets here soon. I'll be sure to share photos as my roomie and I sort through it.  :)

Much love,

BSBP Excitement!

I am so excited to be participating in the Bead Soup Blog Party again, and I can't wait to find out who my partner is going to be. This will make the 3rd time I have participated. I really just wanted to take a moment to give a big shout out to Lori Anderson for this crazy, amazing endeavor that she holds so dearly to her heart.

This blog hop isn't just a blog hop. It has become an amazing community of brilliant crafters. It is an endless source of inspiration. Lori doesn't just pair up beaders for a swap and blog hop, either. To say that's the only thing that happens during BSBP is a great disservice, I think.

My design from my 1st BSBP; Lampwork beads by Deanna Chase.
Participants are introduced to new friends - sometimes from across the globe! You end up with materials to work with that you may have never, ever, in a million years picked out for yourself. Sometimes it's either because it wasn't your "normal" style or maybe it just wasn't something readily available to you.

Then, during the time leading up to meeting your partner for the swap and the big reveal day, Lori continuously sends out encouraging emails and messages.

This is such a marvelous experience, and I realize that perhaps I ought to have written this blog post leading up to the day of sign-ups versus after they have closed.

Regardless, I would highly recommend joining the Bead Soup Cafe group on Facebook if you haven't already. There are swaps on a regular basis hosted by both Lori herself and by other members. It's pretty much fantastic all around.

Hope to see you during the blog hop reveal! And don't worry, I'll have lots of posts of beautiful things to share leading up to then.

Much love,

Mixed Mayhem CUTE!

So, I mentioned it briefly in prior posts, but I have indeed started up yet another Etsy shop. I don't... want to tell you how many shops this now equals. This is largely to separate my high-end gemstone jewelry from my cutesy acrylic, glass, and otherwise whimsy sort of jewelry that is meant for a different audience.

What I've heard from others, and what I've noticed myself, is that looking at the front of this shop is quite enjoyable. At least it is if you like candy bright rainbows...... which I do. :D

I also have accounts in other places; Meylah and a defunct ArtFire account. The empty Meylah account that doesn't even appear to exist at the moment, but really does, I hope to use at some point for tutorials and digital collage sheets. I like that the shop platform delivers digital good automatically. Getting that going is going to require me to actually sit down and focus on working on art. We'll see how that goes with all my other dozens of projects.  n_n;

Do you guys have shops? More than one? Which do you prefer? I know several of you already on Etsy and a couple of other places. Leave me a link in the comments so I can browse. ♥

Much love,

Wedding Jewelry for Echo

This isn't quite finished jewelry yet, but it is well on its way. I've gotten kind of a late start on all of this thanks to life!chaos being in my way, which I feel quite terrible about. This is a commission from a friend who is getting married in October.

Yes. That is one messy looking tile. I got pigments everywhere.

These flower cabochons are made from a mold from Mold Muse using polymer clay. I dusted them with PearlEx pigment powders. Now they just need to be sprayed with a bit of workable fixative, sanded, and then sealed again. Shouldn't take too terribly long with my handy Dremel.  :D

The large cabbage rose is meant to be for the bride, but I am going to do another in a lighter tan clay. I'll let her pick which she prefers. The large mums are for the bridesmaids. The tiny mums are for hairpins. All of the larger flowers are going to be used as pins for her bouquets.

They won't be floral pins in the sense that they'll be attached to a long piece of wire to go into the bouquets, but they'll be attached as brooches / pin backs that will later be converted to bookmarks for those in the bridal party to keep.

These will also be more than just a flower cabochon glued to a pin back. I'm going to be incorporated a bit of bead work, too. They should be very pretty. Hopefully I'll have them finished by either tonight or tomorrow so I can get them in the mail to her quickly. I've also got all of the lovely jewelry for both the bride and bridesmaids to complete in addition to hair fascinators.

All in all, it should make for an excellent collection of jewelry.

Should have more to share soon!

Much love,

Life Chaos Update

Oh, Blogger... how your new layout vexes me, and not in a good way. Sigh.

Ahem. Regardless: Hello world! This is going to be a rather lengthy, text-filled update, so bear with me. I promise to get back to the shines and pictures and all that goodness following this post, but I felt the need to update everyone on my situation.

First off: Many apologies for being so absent. Things have been crazy. Really, really crazy. Lots has happened since my last post for the BSBP. Some good, some bad. It's been a insane ride, but I feel fortunate to have come out mostly unscathed from it all.

For those who might be new to the blog, here's the chaos I've been dealing with. I had been meaning to post and update in the many months since then, but it's been a strange and difficult ride. It's sometimes hard to share, hard to think about, and difficult to put into words. I figure, since I posted everything publicly in that fateful blog post and in a few others, that those that read this blog are quite deserving of an update.

So here's what happened starting back in December:

Business for me really picked up after this post. A lot of friends, family, and even strangers came through for my mother and I. We made enough money to afford groceries and all of our bills for the remainder of the month. I seriously was brought to tears by the generosity of some of you folks (I'm looking at you Zedre ♥).

It was a helluva lot of work keeping up with orders and there were a lot of sleepless nights, but I survived it. The sleeplessness was largely due to stress, insomnia, and the fact that at the time, I spent 4 hours a day commuting to work, 6 hours at work working, and then 2 hours (or more) at home working additional hours. That's 12 hours. So, 12 hours of my day was spent on just work for my Day Job. Then I got to come home to try and run a business + do all the other little things that seem so utterly insignificant that life dictates you must do on a daily basis (clean, eat, shower, sleep, etc).

Chaos. I had it. I can't tell you how I slept, when I ate, or really much of anything I did other than work, work, work. My mentality was that if I just worked hard enough everything would be okay. Everything could be fine. If I just had more hours in the day to work even more, I could do this. I could support both my mother and myself.

But I was exhausted. Totally and utterly exhausted. I had been maintaining this insane schedule for a year as of December. A year. A whole freaking year. I suffered through this because I love my mother, and I wanted to take care of her. But suffering, eternally being broke, having clothes and shoes that are ridden with holes, is a difficult thing. It wears you down.

Then relief came. Or at least seemed to once again. She was re-hired at her old job that had laid her off no less. Two weeks later, they fired her. Our world crashed again, but this time it was so much worse.

My mother called me at work and said, "They just fired me."

I was dumbfounded. Why, why, why? That's all I could ask. It was some b.s. reason; this company has become rather shady as the years have passed. Basically, they were trying to get her off their unemployment rolls. It didn't work, she got her unemployment back, but not before our lives were once more thrown into a tailspin.

It was the end February. Rent was due on the apartment on 03/05/12. Rent was a charming $1100.00, and Mom also needed to pay her car note. She didn't have enough money to pay for both the rent and the car. We had to move. Immediately.

I went and talked to my boss. She looked as terrified as I felt. I told her I had to go home to help my mother pack so we could move. It was a Monday, we had through the weekend to get everything in our three bedroom apartment packed and to... somewhere. Anywhere.

I told her I would work from home, but I ended up using all of my vacation time instead. It seriously took all week from about 8 am until 8pm or so every night to get all of my mother's things packed. Fortunately enough for me, most of my possessions were already in storage, and I had been living out of boxes for about a year prior to this. My move-in with my mom was meant to be temporary, but ended up lasting longer for obvious reasons.

I called everyone that day, and so did Mom. I called my dad as I drove home from work, and that's when I started to cry. I kept it together at work, but for whatever reason I can't ever hold back what I'm really feeling with Dad. Ever. He's my hero, and I am very much daddy's girl. I told him what had happened, and that we had to move.

I remember crying as I was driving. It's really not a smart idea to be on the cell phone, crying and driving all at once on a highway in Dallas, but I digress. I had to tell him I had no where to live. I was essentially homeless.

Can I come stay with you for a little while? Of course I could.

Trouble is, Dad lives in Oklahoma. I live in North Texas. My job is here. My life is here.

I called my boss again. I think I called her three or four times. She said it was okay if I worked from "home" for a few weeks. So for most of March, I lived in one room with my Dad. It was cramped, but Oklahoma is my safe place. It's where I'm from originally, and I hope to be able to move back there someday soon.

Meanwhile, my mother moved to Athens, TX which is a very small town. She moved in with her boyfriend whom she eloped with. He's a great guy. They were actually high school sweethearts while she was in school in Dallas before she met my father after having moved to Oklahoma.

Her cost of living was reduced significantly. So much so, that she could save a bit of money instead of being $400.00 short every month.

I saved up a bit of money while living with Dad for a few weeks. Somewhere in the midst of the rain-filled blur of moving (oh yes, it rained the whole time AND I broke out in hives during this... awesome), I posted on Facebook asking friends if they knew of an affordable apartment complex in Dallas where I wouldn't get robbed at night. That's very important. The last apartment I had to myself was on the edge of Arlington. My truck was broken into multiple times, and the locks on my toolbox are still jacked.

A darling friend of mine that I have known for about ... wow... 14 years now?... owns her own home, and she had been looking for a roommate for quite some time. She offered me a room in her home for rent to include all utilities, internet, etc, plus she adores animals and doesn't mind my dog or bird.

This workspace will never be this neat again. Already I have wrecked it.
She pretty much was my savior at that point. I was a little anxious moving in. I hadn't actually seen her in person in some time, and I am terribly antisocial kind of person bordering on being socially awkward. At least initially, I feel really awkward around new people. Having a history with Ashley allowed me to warm up and re-connect to her pretty quickly.

As it turns out, we are perfect roommates because we are neurotic and OCD about the exact same things. She also quite enjoys helping making jewelry and loves that I cook and bake. It's beautiful! Plus, look at this fabulous room I have. It's like a miniature artists' studio. I freaking love it. I will live with her forever... or at least until I save up funds to buy a house in Oklahoma.

Anyhow. Things were going pretty smoothly at this point. At least until I also got a phone call from a collections agency at work about a month ago. I had a small panic attack/mental break down in the middle of the office. Awesome.

My mother and I had both been sent to collections for debt related to the apartment we moved out of. We had been told by the apartment manager that so long as we stayed in contact with her, she would let us pay down the balance and she would work with us. Apparently, written letters directly to her attention including all our new contact information was not sufficient. We were sent to collections for about $1300.00 without even a single statement, which by the way, is illegal.

The rep told me that, "Well, they'd have sent a statement to your last known address if they didn't have your new address on file which would've been your apartment." Uh. Yeah. And I set up my mail to forward via USPS as soon as I knew my new address. Which was effective immediately, and I had been receiving mail.

Regardless, I am saddled with this debt despite the apartment complex being full of lies as I was signed to the lease. I had to be as I am not a minor. I borrowed money from Dad, and had Mom send money for the other half of the initial payment. She agreed to send me $100.00 a month to help pay down the debt since I'm currently living paycheck to paycheck as it is. Mom's unemployment wiped out my savings and the cushion I usually have in my bank account, so I'm struggling already.

To top things off, last Monday I got a text message from my mother around 9pm saying that she got a letter from Texas Workforce Commission in the mail stating that her benefits had termed. We were under the impression she had benefits through August. Apparently not.

So now, I am paying down this rather large debt by myself. Oh, and I might also be held liable for her vehicle. Charming. I am cosigned to that, too. At this point I'm rather bitter about the entire mess for reasons I'm not especially willing to delve into on this blog. I'm just tired of being broke, working my ass off, and having nothing to show for it. I'd really like to be able to buy shoes that don't have holes in them, take my dog to the vet, and get an oil change for my truck before the engine locks up.

Yes, at this point I'm feeling a bit bitter. This has been going on for 18 months now. But there's good news! I have an epic plan. I always have a plan. I'm pretty good at solving problems. It's part of why I have managed to survive all of this crap so far.

I have decided to re-focus my business on a handful of very elegant, high quality designs that I can easily reproduce myself so that I can sell them wholesale to local boutiques. Dallas is covered in boutiques. I freaking love Dallas.

These designs will also be available for sale in my Etsy shop at retail pricing. I also hope to be able to create enough extra pendants/findings to sell extras in bead kits in my supply shop. I have also started up another shop (yes.... another... I'm in Etsy listing hell) specifically for easy, cutesy things. These are the sort of designs I sell in bulk at anime conventions and the like. Kids like the cutesy stuff; their moms like my gemstones. It works out beautifully. ♥

I ordered all the supplies (mostly findings and seed beads) I need this past Saturday to get my wholesale designs made, and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival so I can get to work. I've also been working 10 hour days for the last week at the Day Job to help make ends meet in the interim while trying to establish a more stable second income stream from my jewelry business. Doing so isn't nearly as hard as it used to be since it now takes me only 20 minutes to get to work.

So, that's where I'm at, my darlings. Life has been difficult, but I'm okay. Things are working out, it's just taking a bit of time and trying my patience. I have beautiful new jewelry designs to look forward to, and I can't wait to share it all with you.

Be on the lookout for those new handmade pendants and findings. I'd like to host a giveaway of sorts to test them out on other beaders. Also, if you haven't heard, BSBP is just around the corner once again. I can't wait!

Much love,