Friday, April 30, 2010


Those four letters always crack a smile...because it's Friday and the workweek is over?  Lol! Nope because when you're self employed there is no Friday. 
Maybe one day there will be a Friday again but I doubt they will be every week.
Am I feeling sorry for myself? Nope. I'm doing something I love and if I have some free time and I ask myself "OK, Mikki what would you like to do?" the answer is usually "I'd like to bead".  I do try to keep the less enjoyable parts of my work, like pattern writing and doing the books as part of the Monday to Friday routine but it doesn't always work.  If your muse grabs you, demanding your attention you can only put her off for just so long and she just seems to love messing up my nicely planned schedule.

On a different tangent this week was interesting as there appeared at the craft store where I teach a new beading instructor. Hmm....
I can't say that made me particularly happy as I've worked two years to build up a group of bead weavers, many had never done bead weaving before and this person is basically looking to capitalize on my work.  But that wasn't the thing that really bugged me.  The project she plans to teach is the puffed Swarovski heart, I know she isn't the designer and I read on her class info that she would only have instructions for the project for use IN the class "due to Copyright Law" couldn't take them home.  Not one of my students would be able to finish that heart in a two hour class....and what do they do then?    As regards to's my understanding that you can't make money from someone else's designs without their permission or license. One would think if she has permission to teach she would also get permission to give the pattern to the student....or the magazine the project is printed in (which as a published designer I know very well).

The store is looking into it, which they should because if anyone sued they would be the target...deep pockets an' all.  If the class goes ahead, it goes ahead, but I don't think there will be happy students without a pattern to leave with so they can finish the project.  I think this gal just doesn't realise what work is involved to be a designer and teacher....most people don't. And, of course, ethics are in short supply thesedays.

I think what Cynthia Newcomer Daniels does is great, she sells a teaching license for her designs.   This allows people to teach her work legally and it also makes it very clear that it's illegal to do so without a license.

Today I get to put some kits together and tube some beads.  I also need to run errands and tidy up the studio before I can get down to a weekend of serious beading. I plan on freestyling my heart out and graphing up some new flatwork designs because there are whole series' bubbling in my brain. It might be nice to do some laundry too!
Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fake It Till You Make It

That's what I decided to do after yesterday's post.  I opened up an Etsy store MFD Beadwork Originals and listed my first three items.  I had forgotten how long it takes...getting the right photos, writing about the pieces, adding the tags and all that jazz.  I'm planning on adding a new piece a day until everything I have on hand is listed, then hopefully two new pieces a week.
If they don't sell there then it's off to the gallery with them.

At some point today I need to apply to SRAJD, EBW and BAO and see if they'll have me.

I was busy last night playing catch up, making this sample of freeform peyote for an upcoming class. I hardly realised I was working because there were some great movies on last night including The Crying Game, which I haven't seen in ages. Good movies, beading and a latte...heaven!

I get to write the pattern today.  Of course, a pattern for freeform is an oxymoron and what it will actually be is instructions for lots of little techniques used in a simple freeform design.  I love the textures you get with freeform, I don't know why I don't do more of it because any of my freeform pieces tend to draw lots of attention.  Teaching it will!
I'm coaxing my students to put a little of their own design into things next month and that's challenging for all of us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Roots of Fear

I seem to have walked smack into that wall ....again.  The wall of fear and self doubt.  These things are like think you've beaten it only to find it was just one layer and like an onion fear and self-doubt have many, many layers.
When I started writing this blog it was always meant to be a way to express my joy and vent out my frustrations as I ventured into my new career as a bead artist, and maybe help others avoid some of the pitfalls by learning from my mistakes.  So, I guess, it's quite natural that I have to write about my biggest pitfall!

For those of you who don't know I am English, born and raised in Northern England, living there until I moved to the USA at 26 and I've spent almost the second half of my life here, bouncing between Utah and California.

One of the most shocking things to me when I first arrived here was hearing someone tell someone how brilliant they were at something and it just be accepted.    Why?  Because I had never heard an adult say something like that.  I heard it from kids but that was always met with adults telling them not to say things like that or kids calling them names for doing so.  Basically, you just didn't say, or even think, things like that where I come from.

So...I'm sure my chin was constantly on the floor the first year as everyone here was always blowing their own trumpet....some for good reason and some, well.... you've seen the others in the American Idol tryouts.   Watching my nephew grow up it became clearer to me as to why Americans were like this as my sister-in-law would praise my nephew something chronic for things that he wasn't even good at.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for encouragement but you don't set kids up for ridicule...again, think about American Idol.

Where my issues come from...
I remember at 10 years old in the big school assembly watching other kids go on stage to collect commendation cards for doing well in a subject that year, some kids even had two or three.  When my name was called they read off nine commendations.....not only did I not want to go on stage to collect them (and I didn't) I sank down in my chair so no one could see me because I was so embarrassed, my stomach churned and I thought I would throw up. 
And that's not even the root of it.

I've traced my fear of success back to kindergarten where our teacher had this brilliant (stupid) idea of rewarding good grades with gold stars and toys.  When you got 10 gold stars you got to choose a toy from her treasure chest.  At that age I didn't know how to fail, I didn't know you could play dumb, I just did what I knew how and I was getting a toy was a weekly thing for me.  Boy! Did that ever make me popular. You may as well have painted a target on me. What followed in the next 15 years was pretty scary, I was THE subject of ridicule, cruel jokes and even violence from my peers.  I could easily of ended up as a suicide due to bullying and came close to dying at 14 due to one of their cruel jokes. They were never punished.
I learned that intelligence isn't good and you better not ever say you're good at something. I learned that you hid your light under a bushel and should expect bad things if you didn't.

In later life one of the bullies did actually apologise to me and one apologised to my mom after I moved to the USA.  Apologies are fine but they don't erase all the damage done and it does do a LOT of damage.

I'm glad I moved to the USA, it's here I have learned how to say I am good at nearly choked the first time I did and the guilt over it was ridiculous but I have persevered and it's gotten easier. I still feel like I'm a big flashing neon beacon when I say I'm good at anything or show my work and inside I shrink down like Alice and want to find a mouse hole to crawl into but I am learning to promote myself.  I know I'm my own worst enemy, my own Hanging Judge as LJ puts it over on her blog today, that it's my own issues that keep me from success. It's my own self doubt and that inner Hanging Judge saying "Who does she think she is?" that makes me think there's no room for me in EBW.  I need to get over it!

I think the best thing anyone can do in life is give credit where credit is due, encouragement when ability peeks through.  Don't boost people up so they think they're brilliant when they actually suck because you're not being kind, you're just setting them up for a bad reality check somewhere in the future. And don't put people down for doing something better than you, use that as an opportunity to learn....for most of us (99.99%) there will always be someone more talented, more proficient than we are, those people should inspire us not turn us green or intimidate us to inertia.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Etsy, Artfire, SRAJD I finally made the decision to try selling my jewelry online.  I decided that I need to join SRAJD (Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design) and went to fill out my application, got down to the website section and stopped. I go with my Artfire store or do I set up an Etsy store?
I love Artfire and it's flat fees but I've always wanted to be part of the Etsy Bead Weavers.  This group has some of the top beadweavers as members and they do such good challenges to keep each other inspired and I like being part of the bead community almost as much as I like beading.
So....I'm on hold....pondering.
Would I be welcomed into EBW?  I guess that's the main question because it's the main reason to go with Etsy. Is there room for one more bead weaver?

One of Those Design Days

Yep, yesterday I had one of those days when what I see in my head just doesn't work.   After two attempts at a bezel pendant idea I finally ripped it out for a second time and decided I should work on something else.

So I made the Rio Grande ring.  Not a lot to show for the hours spent beading but that's how it is some days.  Yesterday was just one of those frustrating days that happen every so often.

I thank everyone for their input about selling through galleries vs. online, it definitely helps me think it through.
I do think I'm believing in myself more lately and I think that's a lot of it.  If you don't firmly believe in what you are doing people sense it and seem to not fully appreciate and even devalue your work.

I now have a little Q & A mantra I play in my head when I feel unsure...
Is it technically good? YES
Is it original? YES
Did you put lots of time in? YES
Are the materials top quality? YES
Are you a designer? YES
Should you be paid for your time and talent? YES

Does it work everytime?! But it helps most of the time.  I could use a little entourage when I go out to sell my stuff....a little backing group to sing "Hey, Mikki, you're so fine".  Ok...I watched way too much Ally McBeal!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Latest Rio Grande

The latest pieces in my Rio Grande collection are earrings and a bracelet.      I'm considering listing the collection in my Artfire store for a week to see if it's possible to sell there rather than put these babies in the gallery where with commission the prices have to be so much higher.  I figure if they sell in a week then it may be worth putting some time in marketing myself online.

I've just listed my "Beaches" pendant style necklace in my Artfire store.
For those of you who don't know, I designed these beads as a celebration for Lisa Crone's beading book "A Bead in Time". I sent her a set and saved a set for myself. When ArtBeadScene and Margie Debb got together to issue a color challenge the colors were the exact colors of my beads so I designed this necklace and entered it....didn't win though. someone can own it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Gallery or Not To Gallery

It's a dilemma and one I'm struggling with at the moment.  I have my beadwork in two galleries at the moment but the whole commission thing is not something I like.  The typical deal with a gallery is a 60% to the artist/40% to the gallery which makes something I need to get $60 for have to sell for $100 and as beadweaving takes a lot of tiume that price can sky-rocket quite easily making things expensive and even out pricing themselves.

When a gallery doesn't want to give you 60% it makes things even worse.  If you break it down it gets to make one's stomach turn....say a piece takes eight hours to make, the gallery believes they can sell it for $100 so the artist gets $60 less what it cost for the supplies so they maybe make $6 to $8 per hour. The people who staff the gallery make more than that, could I do their job....sure, could they do mine? Doubtful.

It's disheartening. Galleries wouldn't exist without artists and I do wonder with the technology today, websites and online stores if artists can exist without galleries.  Why do I have my work in a gallery? Because it's easier than doing art shows...lugging a tent, displays, stock and having to man the it worth it?  I'm still figuring that one out.

The ideal thing is a co-op gallery, run by artists but we don't have one of those here. There were a few in California and they seemed to work really well. No staff, just the co-op artists taking their turn on the floor.

I'm not sure what I'll do about my galleries....maybe it just limits what I will sell there. I did have an interesting chat with the manager of a very fabulous clothing store that has their own fashion shows...the possibility of my providing jewelry for those shows was discussed and I'd love to show my work in that's just a matter of wait and see what comes of it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Never Enough Time

The powers that be still haven't added any extra hours in the day for me...dagnabbit!  So, I just seem to get busier and busier.
I finally sat down yesterday to do some beadwork and translated the Rio Grande beads into a beadwoven cuff....good ol' two drop peyote in Delicas for a superb drape.
This is new to me.....translating the beads I make into bead weaving but I must say....I like it!  It takes me out of my safe little box into some more challenging pieces.

I was busy at the end of last week putting a necklace together for myself, a rarity thesedays, but I was going to an event and wanted something to wear with the new outfit I'd made.  I had gotten a few sets of these copper 5 to 1 reducers a while ago and they were ideal for the look I was going for. The jasper stone isn't of great quality but I fell in love with it and it too has been sitting in my bead box waiting it's turn.

On other fronts, I finally heard back from Heather today about the Sisterhood of the Travelling Beads. Some of you may remember I won the bead stash and I along with my bead society have been anxiously awaiting their arrival. Apparently Heather got busy and hasn't had time to put them in the mail....gee, I just can't imagine (sarcasm here because I certainly know how things on a To Do list get pushed down and down).  I was just glad they weren't lost in the mail never to be seen again.  As soon as we get our crack at the beads I will run the competition here so some lucky winner gets to rummage through the stash and swap out themselves. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hot Off the Beading Bench

This is what I call a tease for my teaching assistant Suzanne, pictures of a new project get her giddy and asking "when do I get it?"

The goal for the class project was to explore cubic right angle weave and last night I managed to sneak in making the black and red colorway. This bangle project plays with color and texture while learning how to make a cubic RAW medallion and chain and will be on the class schedule next month.  If I can find the tiny teardrops in purple or fuchsia that colorway will be added in.

Most of my students are far enough along now to be ready for a project that isn't set out row by row for them and next month will offer them some challenges in the design department.  Growth....gotta love it.

For my new students I'll be starting some classes just to learn the basic stitches and next month will be peyote month.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And the Winner is....not me.

Congratulations to Lynn Foley who won the ArtBeadScene and Margie Deeb Turquoise Color Challenge with these pretty lampwork beads.

I think glass will always trump polymer and I do know that lampworking is in my future. I do however like the piece I created for the challenge and I'll be putting it up for sale in my Artfire store later today, so hopefully someone else likes it too.

I spent my weekend shopping for fabric with the goal to update and refresh my waning closet.  I have almost finished the first piece, a long drapey tunic. I'm hand sewing as I much prefer it to lugging out the sewing machine which feels more like work and takes away the relaxing enjoyment of sewing.  I got into the habit of hand sewing when I was quilting as it gave me the accuracy needed for competition.
When I'm buying clothes in a boutique I'm often approached and asked if I'm a buyer....this is because the first thing I check is the cut and the second is the seaming. Seaming is so important to me as the standards seem to have dropped drastically in the high end clothes.  With the introduction of the overlocker French seams tend to be a thing of the past and I love French seams. For anyone not familiar with these, it's a technique which encases the raw edges of the fabric into the seam and was always used on sheer fabrics once upon a time.
It's why I find it hard to buy off the rack clothes, well, that and the fact that by the time the designer's latest designs make it to the department store they've been watered down so much for the masses they loose the thing that made them special.

Anyway, the things I am making definitely make me feel I'm getting my style back and I'm enjoying making them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It was just a Dream

Yeah, my Bead Dreams was just that this year. I was taken down by a two day migraine and didn't finish.  There was also a question as to my self-sabotaging, which I know I was doing last week when I allowed myself to get caught up in the online fashion reports.  I did however buckle down in the end and if the migraine hadn't hit I would have finished the one in an afternoon and evening saw it almost complete....I still have to finish the fringe but that's probably just an hour's work.  Am I happy with it? Oh turned out exactly as I imagined, looks vintage and meets my perfectionist standard in workmanship.  Once the fringe is finished I'll post pics. 
Whether it would have made it into Bead Dreams? Who knows.  I am wondering if I make it part of a set, make a matching necklace if it would qualify for next year.  I can totally see a necklace in the same design.  I'll have to go read the rules again.   Anyway, for all of you who managed to complete your Bead Dreams entries on time....good luck!

When I was self sabotaging I became engrossed with Vogue's website of the catwalks at all the major fashion weeks.  I was thrilled to see so much beading and the jewelry is definitely being inspired by the work our beading community is doing.  Vera Wang's spring/summer collection (which is pretty much all black...YAY) sported some very cool bib style necklaces.  I was stunned to see some pants very similar to some I designed a few years ago, thrilled to see so much black and positively gleeful to see so much beading.

Of course it's made me itch to sew again and I've already been pulling out some fabric from my stash. There's a gorgeous Issey Miyake tunic pattern I want to make, though I will add sleeves and I plan on picking up the pattern and contrast fabric today. A sewing weekend is planned for the weekend.

After looking at almost all the designer's collections it seems the must haves for 2010 are lots of sheer layers, leggings and printed pants, and come fall you better have a pair of over the elbow gloves or arm warmers to complete your look, not to mention a bunch of pearls.  If it's beaded...all the better!   I have a design in my head for some pretty arm warmers and the yarn is sitting there staring at me.  The downside to being a designer is too many designs and not enough time to bring them to fruition.

I have to say I haven't really paid too much attention to fashion trends in the last few years (I've thought there was no point as I'm stuck in a fashion free zone) but it's about time I did and if people stare and think I'm crazy....well, they'd be half right.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Two Minds

Uh oh...she's gone schizophrenic on us again.

Nah, not's just reading Marcia's blog today where she is talking about Tweeting and all the marvelous new technology I thought I'd share my feelings.

I actually love technology... I love following Ms Rachel as she phones in photos of her day to Facebook, and I love that Marcia blogs from her phone when she's travelling because I love knowing what she's up to. I'm also a bit of a geek if truth be known however there's another side to all this.  It's about how we use the technology and if we lose track of what's really important.  Part of me would be quite happy living an Amish life (it's just the religion I'm not into).  And if you're ever stuck on a desert island you would want me along because I can do amazing things without technology.

I think one my first bad feelings about technology came when I was on a ski lift. There's something very peaceful about riding up a mountain on a ski lift, it's a time to really appreciate nature...however, when some idiot sitting next to you decides he just has to make a business call and you have no option, unless you jump to your death, of listening to him yabber on and on it destroys the peace.  Well, there was the option of pushing him off the lift and I did consider it.

The other day I came very close, too close, to crashing my car as a guy in a large truck pulled out in front of another car that was turning and straight across my lane. I was surprised my air bags didn't trigger as I had to stand on the brake to avoid hitting him....and he look quite unconcerned as he carried on his phone conversation.  Part of me wishes I had hit him, sued the pants off him and made a huge statement about how dangerous that crap is.

When I was working in long term care I could not believe it when I saw one of the CNAs texting while ambulating a blind person...phones were not even allowed on the floor, and you certainly can't pay attention to someone when your eyes and one hand is busy with a phone.

At this point I hardly ever turn my phone on anymore, I turn it off when I'm working, sleeping, driving, with friends or teaching and that's pretty much all I'm ever!   So it's definitely much easier to reach me by e-mail.  The reason for this is I'm one of those people who feels guilty if I don't answer my phone....even if it's just vibrating. The last day I had my phone on for a day I lost four hours of work time because of it....and not one of the phone calls was important.  When I'm beading I typically get up every hour or so to stretch, that's when I check my e-mail, and answer anything that needs answering.....let me tell you THAT is so much quicker than getting into a long phone call.  I've also had students ask me for my phone number, at first I used to give it, boy I learned that lesson quickly. Most of my students are great and I know they would respect my time, but there's always that one that abuses the priviledge and feels I should be with her, by phone, every time she's even thinking about beading....even if I happen to be with my Mom as she comes around after surgery.  (Yep, you guessed it, that was the day I turned my phone OFF).

I have to say I admire Miley Cyrus (say what?) she realised how hypocritical she was being in asking for privacy when she was tweeting every detail of her life to the world and closed her Twitter account.

So, what's my point? Don't let technology interfere with face to face socialization, if you're spending time with someone, cherish that time and turn your phone off.  Respect that just because we're all connected at the hip by cell phones not all of us want to be talking on it 24/7. Don't drive and text, if you HAVE to use the phone while you drive use a hands free device and save a life, it might even be yours. 

*pushes her soap box back under the bed*

Friday, April 2, 2010

And you thought I was joking!

I said this morning I didn't know what day it was....I didn't know how true that was.  Until....I arrived at the craft store ready to do my demo for Ladies Night and was greeted at the door with a sign that said "Ladies Night April 3rd".   I missed the last one because I forgot about it and didn't remember till the next this is the yang to that yin.

Ahh....balance in my world.

What day is it?

I've lost track.  I don't know how other designers are but sometimes my head gets so full of new designs it's hard to stay in touch with the real world.  These are the times when I just need the world to stop for a few days so I can catch up, make some of the designs swimming around in my head and right now that means....
The new bangle designs for next month's class
The freestyle peyote technique booklets for next month's class and the samples
The polymer bead sets for my fusion class
Patterns to write, kits to pack
Variations of my 'peonation' flower for a new piece
Making an Issey Miyake tunic for myself from fabric in my stash
Creating some summer layers to update my look (I am so sick of jeans)
Knitting that lace layer I started (thanks Marcia for dangling your lace knitting and making me drool)
Making the line for the gallery....yeah, only about seven or eight designs bubbling for that one
And..... a zillion 'what if' ideas for old designs worked with new shaped beads.

My computer tells me it's Friday, which means I need to deliver the custom ring to the gallery and that I better plan what I'll be demo-ing at Ladies Night tonight at the craft store.  Clay or beads? beads or clay? Hmm...anyway to kill two birds with one stone?
My calendar (the one Artbeads just sent me...thanks Duchess) tells me it's a minute past April....Which means I have the weekend to finish my Bead Dreams entry, get it photographed and sent in.  It also means we're into the month when I promised myself I'd finish up my book proposal and get that sent off to see if I can find a publisher.  And that means making a piece of jewelry to represent every chapter in the book plus finishing the sample chapter with all the projects.  Oh...and taxes.

I'm reminded of what someone said to me once "Oh you make jewelry for a living, how fun, that must be so relaxing".