Woodside WireWorks

Wit, Whimsy, & Wisdom…

My Muse took a Cruise

 

I find keeping secrets for even a day is difficult, three months is torture!  Finally and oh my gosh,  we are at the finish line of the 2016 Build a Line Challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques, (http://www.bsueboutiques.com)  and I get to spill the beans!  Frankly, I hope this landmark–the finish line–will launch new beginnings for each of us, for we’ve learned so much in the three months which passed so quickly.  And now I get to show you my Cashmere and Pearls line.  I’m pretty excited for you to see what I’ve been up to!

Last time you visited we talked about my muse needing meds. Evidently she listened, overdosed, and has since floated off to some Caribbean coast, likely sitting on the back of a yacht, sipping a fruity, fancy umbrella drink without a care in the world!  I do know this much:  wherever she is, she isn’t here!  (Little stinker!) Who knew muses took spring breaks or that they belonged to unions?  I know now. I certainly do! Trust me, she left me sitting here with an epic case of writer’s block and the clock is tick, tick, ticking. Dang-it!  (And dang her!  Read the handbook honey, there are no vacation days during a challenge!)

What writer's block looks like. Ugh!

What writer’s block looks like. Ugh!

Miss Skittles isn’t much help either. When she’s  not wanting her third breakfast, you’ll find her on my  keyboard or pacing back and forth in front of the monitor. She is a handful, that one! Trust me…I love her dearly but I speak the truth. Just the other day when I was trying to focus, she started wailing horribly.  Thinking she was hurt, I rushed over to her only to find here grinning with a lizard in her mouth. I love lizards–truly love them– so I was happy to rescue him.  In the commotion he escaped…in the house, of course.  Dandy, just dandy! Two days later, I’m in the yard, and spied him. How did I know it was the same one? The missing tail was a pretty good indicator. He looked healthy and happy (and their tails grow back),  but I digress.

Miss Skittles, front and center as usual!

Miss Skittles, front and center as usual!

About my muse, I think before she went AWOL, she made a pact with my computer, suggesting that it lock up every time I start to work on my blog. Nice. I’d like to have a nickel for every time I’ve rebooted this thing.  Especially when trying to upload pictures.

This was the first piece I revealed in my Cashmere and Pearls line.

This was the first piece revealed in my Cashmere and Pearls line.

This piece was featured in our midpoint blog hop.

This piece was featured in our midpoint blog hop.

Here is another necklace, which features a handprinted flower. I did not alter the metal on this one because the silver was too lovely to mess with.

Here is another necklace, which features a handprinted flower. I did not alter the metal on this one because the silver was too lovely to mess with.

Anyhow, enough about those trials…I need to tell you a little story about my experience at a craft fair. Now before I begin I have to tell you I have been truly blessed. No, not all of the shows I’ve done rank in the spectacular category but I generally fare pretty well.  I’ve met some of the dearest people and have a blast more often than not.  I have come to learn like anything else, the choice of what jewelry we wear is highly personal. Some people love my work, others don’t even look at it. It is part of the game.  I accept that.

So anyway, I was doing a show, had all of my shiny pretty things laid out nicely on the table hoping for a profitable day. Traffic was moderate, a larger crowd would have been nice but at least people were coming through.

Shows fascinate me; I love watching the people come and go. To amuse myself, I try to guess who will visit, who will just walk by, and who will avoid eye contact at all costs.  (You know the ones I’m talking about.  I feel like saying, “I don’t bite, really I don’t!)  If someone stops,  I try to predict what jewelry they will touch. (I won’t tell you how many times I’ve been wrong with my assumptions!)

At a recent show, two ladies approached my table, one was clearly interested, started admiring my work, touched a few pieces and I stood back, pleased. Her friend however, scanned the room, much like a bored guest at a cocktail party, planning her escape.   Ugh!

At this point, things weren’t looking too good for little old me.  (Women in pairs at a craft show can be deadly!) They began to walk away. The first lady paused to look at another item. I’m  behind my table like a proud mama overlooking her babies, smiling pleasantly…They leave.  Damn!  But when they were still within earshot I overhear this: “Jill, it’s just a bunch of beads on a string.”  Ouch!

I guess by now you know I have a big mouth…a very big mouth, actually.  With a trigger like that one, the connective tissue that links the lips and brain is likely to snap. So at that moment, it is all I can do to keep that trap of mine shut.  Yikes!

I.am.standing.right.there! I.am.not.invisible. I pinch myself, you know, just to make sure I didn’t vanish. The nerve! I plea with myself,  “Okay Susie, count to ten, count to ten, oh hell, count to a hundred,” for I fear that if I open my mouth for even a second, my ruby slippers will turn into pointy witch’s shoes.

I can’t believe I heard what I just heard.  For crying out loud, could she just wait to get out of earshot?  When I’m stunned, or experience disbelief I tend to shake my head…it nearly fell off but I kept counting…67, 68, 69, 70.  My head kept moving.

 

Beads in a row...seriously? I think there is a difference! And they say the customer is always right. To that I say, "hogwash!" (That's country speak for bull in case you didn't know!)

Beads in a row…seriously? I think there is a difference! And they say the customer is always right. To that I say, “hogwash!” (That’s country speak for bull in case you didn’t know!)

No, I didn’t say a word. “Just a bunch of beads on a string, my fanny!” Fortunately, most of my experiences at events like this have been lovely and I didn’t let that one ruin my day. I learned a dear lesson from her, frankly. Most people have no idea what it takes to create something—have no earthly idea what it takes if they aren’t makers themselves. Not a clue. I don’t think she intended to hurt my feelings. She was just unconscious, that’s all.  Now, had I been feeling “scrappy” that day though, I might have given her an education about what it is really like to be a jewelry artist or an artist of any type. I might have told her how my house was torn up for a week getting ready, and that the months before that I sat at my table making piece after piece of jewelry so that I would have enough to even be there.

Or, how I left in the dark that morning while she was still dreaming, unloaded a Suburban that was chock full of racks, tablecloths, busts, and jewelry and set up a whole “temporary showroom” before she ever took the first sip of coffee, only to have to tear it down a few hours later and schlep  it back to the trunk.  Her statement was quite innocent, actually.  She meant no harm.  It just stung me a little bit, that’s all.  And I’m quite certain I’ve made similar innocuous comments, without even batting an eye.

Time to rock and roll.

Time to rock and roll.

It has taken me years to develop an easy system to display my wares at craft and art shows. I'm smiling here because I had a great show and finally developed a system that works. Life is GOOD!

It has taken me years to develop an easy system to display my wares at craft and art shows. I’m smiling here because I had a great show and finally developed a system that works. Life is GOOD!

Frankly for me, making the jewelry is the easy part…it is the rest of this path that I find challenging: those niggling business mechanics. Do I have enough boxes, is my packaging good enough, my work clean enough, is it durable, have I established a brand, does my display look professional and sleek, or do I need to reinvent it again? Do I want to sell on-line? What does that involve? Do I want to be on Twitter, and Instagram, and every other new form of social media that comes down the pike? Has my life finally calmed down enough to take this passion of mine to the next step? How can I find the good shows, the ones where the coordinators actually care if you do well? What if someone doesn’t like what they bought? These are just a few of the things that I ponder on a regular basis and are just a few of the many topics we discussed at length in the Build a Line Challenge.

These are just a few of the pieces I'll be taking to my next show. These were made as part of the Build a Line Challenge and are woven onto blanks with wire. They are rather tedious to make to say the least.

These are just a few of the pieces I’ll be taking to my next show. These were made as part of the Build a Line Challenge and are woven onto blanks with wire. They are rather tedious to make to say the least.

Here is the back of my mother of pearl wired necklace. I added a layer of leather so that the piece would be comfortable when worn. No one wants to be poked by a pesky wire!

Here is the back of my mother of pearl wired necklace. I added a layer of leather so that the piece would be comfortable when worn. No one wants to be poked by a pesky wire!

I have been very blessed at the shows I’ve done. I really have.  Once while vacationing in Michigan, I displayed at a tiny little festival in a tiny little town. This lovely lady stopped to chat, took one look at my things, and said “Honey, why are you here. I mean I love this town—it is my home–but over in Frankford today is a juried art show. You belong there, not here. Your pieces are works of art.” I basked in the warmth of her kindness.

Then there are those dear souls who have purchased things from me, and tell me they always get compliments when they wear my work. I just love it when I hear that, knowing that someone cherishes a piece as much as I did when I made it.

And now, without further ado, I’m pleased to present Cashmere and Pearls, to you.  I hope you will find some or all of the pieces to be pleasing and enjoy your tour of this body of work.

I love all three of these pieces and am so pleased with how they turned out.

I love all three of these pieces and am so pleased with how they turned out.

Here is a closeup of the lion. This is the second time the lion has appeared in a BALC challenge piece. We girls need to be brave, right?

Here is a closeup of the lion. This is the second time the lion has appeared in a BALC before. We girls need to be brave, right?

This piece began it's life as an earring finding. I love how it turned out. Beads were woven into the finding with fireline and then I attached a medallion to the back. I think it is beautiful.

This piece began it’s life as an earring finding. I love how it turned out. Beads were woven into the finding with fireline and then I attached a medallion to the back. I think it is beautiful.

One of the things I learned from participating in Build a Line Challenges is the importance of having a smooth finish to the back of a piece of jewelry. In this instance, a large stamping serves two purposes: to cover my stitch-work and to enhance the design when viewed from the front.

One of the things I learned from participating in Build a Line Challenges is the importance of having a smooth finish to the back of a piece of jewelry. In this instance, a large stamping serves two purposes: to cover my stitch-work and to enhance the design when viewed from the front.

 

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When I decided my line would be called Cashmere and Pearls, I knew it would include flowers, hearts, and had to be both soft and romantic.

 

Since I grew up on the water, I couldn't leave out a sea themed piece.

Since I grew up on the water, I couldn’t leave out a sea themed piece.

 

 

This piece was wired onto a jewelry blank carried by B'Sue Boutiques. I finished the back with a piece of tan leather for a more polished finish.

This piece was wired onto a jewelry blank carried by B’Sue Boutiques. I finished the back with a piece of tan leather for a more polished finish.

This piece features a handprinted medallion and flower. It can be worn as a necklace or a broach.

This piece features a handpainted medallion and flower. It can be worn as a necklace or a broach.

This casework choker combines some of my favorite colors.

This casework choker combines some of my favorite colors.

This image shows how I finished the back of this piece as well as the necklace blank used to create it. Two blanks were used in the making of this piece, the first of which was to do the wirework, the second to contain it.

This image shows how I finished the back of this piece as well as the necklace blank used to create it. Two blanks were used in the making of this piece, the first of which was to do the wirework, the second to contain it.

Skittles says, "Thanks for the visit. Finally, I get my keyboard back!"

Skittles says, “Thanks for the visit. Finally, I get my keyboard back!”

Before I sign off, and ask a wee favor of you, I would like to thank our amazing mentor and friend, Brenda Sue Landsdowne for providing us with such a superb growth opportunity. I think I speak for the masses: Brenda, thank YOU for all of your hard work, encouragement, generosity, and guidance. No one could ask for more. From the collective WE, know that we love you!

I truly hope you enjoyed your visit with me today and please do leave a comment if you don’t mind.  I also would ask that you visit some of the other truly amazing artist who have been part of this journey.  Three months on a project can be quite daunting and these ladies gave it their all–some of whom were battling major life challenges.  Their grace, their beauty, their work, and their blogs have been awesome so I do hope you will show them some love and give them a visit.  Just click on a link below and you can continue exploring our three month odyssey together. Again, please accept my sincere thanks for your visit.  I do appreciate it mightily.

Brenda Sue Lansdowne Jewelry Making Outside the Box

http://www.bsueboutiques.typepad.com

 

Diana Buynak Butterfly Emporium Ceramic Studio

http://butterflyemporium.indiemade.com/blog

 

Irene Hoffman, Heart’s Dezire by Irene

http://heartsdezirebyirene.wordpress.com

 

Clare Wells Nemeth, Creative Magick

http://www.craftingmagick.blogspot.com

 

Mary Reckmeyer, Afrayed Not

http://www.afrayedknot.net

 

Marcia Tuzzolino, Aurora Designs

http://auroradesignsjewelryblog.me

 

Elizabeth Wilks, Wearable Art by Lizzie

http://wearableartbylizzie.blogspot.com

 

Jeanette Rose Belmont, One Canvas At A Time

http://www.onecanvasatatime.com

 

Lyn Joy Reeve, A Journey From Jewels To Jubilation

http://lnreeve00.blogspot.com

 

Beth Trubman, The Journey of Jewelry

http://thejourneyofjewelry.blogspot.com

 

Carole Carlson, Bead Sophisticate

http://beadsophisticate.wordpress.com

 

Jann Tague, Clever Designs by Jann

http://janntague.wordpress.com

 

Shari Gardner, SLG Jewelry Designs

http://slgdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Susan Bolton, Fern’s Place

http://www.fernsplace.org

 

Chris Kemp, Noodle Pie Bracelets

http://noodlepiebracelets.com

 

 

Susan Bowerman, Woodside Wireworks  – – – You are here.

http://woodsidewireworks.com/

 

Pamela Anger, Novegatti Designs

http://novegattidesigns.blogspot.com

 

Joan Donovan, Hailey’s Cottage

http://haileyscottage.com/

 

Alison Huie, Ally’s Baubles

http://www.allysbaubles.blogspot.com

 

Sharon Palac, Sharon’s Jewelry Garden

http://www.sharonsjewelrygarden.blogspot.com

 

Erica Olmos, Beeb’s Closet

https://beebscloset.wordpress.com

 

Erin Whitacre, Shattered Time Jewelry

https://shatteredtimejewelry.wordpress.com

 

Fran Sitton, Sitton Up Front

https://sittonupfront.wordpress.com

 

Ginger Hammond, Lynn Leigh Designs

https://lynnleighdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Paula Gaskill, Lovely LaylaBug Jewels

http://www.lovelylaylabugjewels.com/Blog.php

 

Mary Deis, The Rose Sword

http://theroseswordmdeis.blogspot.com

 

Renee Webb Allen, Small Stuff Design

http://smallstuffdesign.com

 

Valerie Tilghman, ArtJewelsandGifts

http://www.artjewelzdimensions.blogspot.com

 

Chris Cravens, Vintage Cravens

http://christinecravens.blogspot.com

 

Leslie Carver, Adorn Divine Designs

http://www.adorndivinedesigns.blogspot.com

 

Donna Parry, JewelryDonna

http://jewelrydonna.typepad.com

 

Gina-Marie Hammer, Tangles, Twists and Treasures

http://tanglestwistsandtreasures.com/blog/

 

Kelly Wymer, Winged Wisdom Enchantments

https://wingedwisdomenchantments.wordpress.com/

 

 

Confessions of a Bead Addict…

I've had these pastels since I was in elementary school...more than a half a century ago!

I’ve had these pastels since I was in elementary school…more than a half a century ago They speak volumes about why I just might have a storage problem!

Sooooooo, little did I know when I bought a kit and a pair of pliers roughly a decade ago it would be so life changing.  And when I made my first few pieces, little did I know they would fall apart on me and I’d have to make them again.  And of course, if they did break, naturally it was the pieces I considered extremely complicated at the time…some multi-stranded numbers that meant I had to redo every stinking strand.  Ugh!

Once I was in a bead shop and this gal asked me how do you store your beads?  I thought what a stupid question.  And I explained I stashed them in a box, stored by color…no big deal.  She saw the fistful of strands in my hands, and tubes of seedbeds sitting on the counter, awaiting checkout.  Her parting words were, “You just wait!”

"Part" of my accumulated seed beads reside in this cabinet. It sure would be nice if all of them fit!

“Part” of my accumulated seed beads reside in this cabinet. It sure would be nice if all of them fit!

But they were on sale...

But they were on sale…

She tried to tell me.  She really did!  I guess she recognized a kindred spirit and knew just where I was headed.  That was then, this is now.  A box…sorted by color.  Seriously?  How ’bout a wall, sorted by color, and two cabinets, filled top to bottom sorted by color.

The bead and supply wall. The rack everything hangs from used to be part of my display but weighed a ton. I prefer using it like this!

The bead and supply wall. The rack everything hangs from used to be part of my display but weighed a ton. I prefer using it like this!

There comes a time when you’ve just got to recognize you have a problem…in my case, a major problem!  I’m talking about the girl who went to Gem and Mineral Shows wearing a backpack to drag home her treasures.  Do you think the vendors recognized a “live one?”   Oh yes they did!

I did that two years in a row.  I would come home with aching feet, and rush out to the man-cave to tell my late husband I was home.  He’d say, go fix yourself a drink and show me what you got.  He was a rock hound at heart, me…I liked the sparkly things back then; but my backpack would have bits of both.  Then we’d enjoy the “unveiling ceremony” where I would lovingly lay out strand after strand of treasures!

It doesn’t take too many gem shows to create a surplus!  Since the house was about to cave in, I decided it was high time I did something my disorganized mess.   I’ve been sorting, reorganizing, culling, and cussing for a solid week now, paying for the decisions I made many moons ago.  You see,  since I’m a fanatic about “seeing my stuff,” I stored my beads upside down so I could see the contents in each jar.

This was a lovely system a few years ago, but I outgrew it!

This was a lovely system a few years ago, but I outgrew it!

Since most of my stone beads were already stored like this, it made sense to keep them that way.

Since most of my stone beads were already stored like this, it made sense to keep them that way.

But, I still had a space problem.  So I did this.   Talk about painful!  And tedious, and ENDLESS!  And, not wanting to spend another dime, I needed those trays for another purpose–as displays for my finished pieces.

Time to lose the jars and get practical! I sorted them by color, placed them into tiny bags, stapled them to card stock, so that I can still see them.

Time to lose the jars (at least some of them) and get practical! I sorted them by color, placed them into tiny bags, stapled them to card stock, so that I can still see them.

Eventually, all of those trays of beads landed in one of two cabinets.  This is what it looked like a year ago.  My desire to find things quickly soon became a nightmare.  So, in an effort to conserve real estate, the old system had to go.

I used to attach my finished pieces to easels, and transport the batch to shows in a box. The jewelry kept falling off. Ugh! These jeweler's trays are lined first with styrofoam, covered in fabric, and I can pin the pieces in place. Plus they stack for easy transport. Yes, I needed those trays!

I used to attach my finished pieces to easels, and transport the batch to shows in a box. The jewelry kept falling off. Ugh! These jeweler’s trays are lined first with styrofoam, covered in fabric, and I can pin the pieces in place. Plus they stack for easy transport. Yes, I needed those trays!

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One of my cabinets last year this time…What a jumbled up mess!

It has taken me roughly eight days to reorganize this mess.  I never, ever, ever want to do this again!  So I tried to be methodical about it and I’m fairly certain some tweaking will be ongoing.  There was a ton of stuff to deal with…all acquired for several years, and squirreled away in several places in the house. Before I consolidated everything in my now studio space, I was clueless about how top-heavy my stash had grown.  I hate to admit how many things I had duplicated–simply because I was storing things in three rooms back then.

Because I am participating in a three month jewelry challenge sponsored by B'Sue Boutiques, I spread everything out in January. What a massive pile of parts!

Because I am participating in a three month jewelry challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques, I spread everything out in January. What a massive pile of parts!

Being part of the Build a Line Challenge made me spread everything out.  I knew when I did it I was going to go crazy…I just didn’t realize it would be so soon.  Here are some pics of the civic improvements I’ve made since I hit the “do something now” moment!

All of these tiny parts needed some meaningful organization. That was painful but it had to be done.

All of these tiny parts needed some meaningful organization. That was painful but it had to be done.

My chain choices for the challenge needed to be at arms length--in one place, not three!

My chain choices for the challenge needed to be at arms length–in one place, not three!

I call this basket, Part 1 of "finishing school" because every project usually requires some of these parts. They needed to be handy and organized.

I call this basket, Part 1 of “finishing school” because every project usually requires some of these parts. They needed to be handy and organized. Clasps are also nearby…all in one place.

Here’s is the part of my cabinet that got labeled “The Good Stuff” in honor of our group mentor, Brenda Sue Lansdowne, who sells the best of the best at http://www.bsueboutiques.com.  The pieces I make with her components always sell!

The Good Stuff...Those who know will clearly understand!

The Good Stuff…Those who know will clearly understand!

After eight days of organizing, I think it is time to play. After all, I have some challenge pieces to make!

After eight days of organizing, I think it is time to play. After all, I have some challenge pieces to make!

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to show you the AFTER pictures!  Here are the cabinets now.  I think I need to hang a big sign in my studio which reads:  Put it Away!

My left cabinet, now! It houses stampings, charms, pearls, stones, and basic findings. I love the transformation!

My left cabinet, now! It houses stampings, charms, pearls, stones, and basic findings. I love the transformation!

And the right cabinet. Shells and glass live here along with a few sparkly things. Much, much better!

And the right cabinet. Shells and glass live here along with a few sparkly things. Much, much better!

Of course, there are still dribs and drabs that need tending to.  Rome wasn’t built in a day–or eight days, either.  But, I promised myself a day off and it begins NOW! Life is good, good, good! Thanks for the visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Muse Could Use Some Meds

Photo on 10-7-13 at 7.23 AM

The designer and her cat, Miss Skittles Bowerman. Meanwhile, Susan’s muse is lurking in the shadows, playfully planning another bout of mischief. She is a certifiable troublemaker!

Alrighty now, welcome and hello, hello! So glad you’ve stopped in to see what Miss Skittles, my muse–a spirited, playful sprite–and I have all been up to. We get into trouble together, that muse and I…loads of trouble.  Not to be undone, Skittles jumps in every project on all fours…she’s been glued, and painted, and been known to post Facebook updates for me. Now that muse of mine, well she’s turned us all into “Attention Deficit Disorder Poster Children,” sending us on more than one wild goose chase. Let me explain.

I’m at the midpoint in the Build a Line Master Class Challenge, and focus is the name of the game.

January swam by; we were on a roll. I had prepared well, carefully placing my supply orders from B’Sue Boutiques (https://www.bsueboutiques.com), organized my space and felt quite giddy. I figured out my theme, got to work and before I knew it, I had about a dozen pieces made for my “Cashmere and Pearls”   line…Happy, happy!  Life was good.

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A yummy order with a dear note. Life is good, good, good!

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Just because a girl never has enough pearls! I do love these.

I took pictures along the way, lots of pictures—all in an effort to determine if the parts I’d chosen flowed together because our goal is to build a cohesive line of work. Cameras seldom lie. Frankly a few pieces may get kicked to the curb because I’m starting to doubt if they pass the cohesive test.

No, it isn't a spider. It only looks like one! You won't believe what this became!

No, it isn’t a spider. It only looks like one! You won’t believe what this became!

In case some of you missed the maiden post, my line uses metals, most of which are altered by painting to a soft dewy finish with these amazing paints. All pieces will include pearls, some will include stampings, while others will be embellished with flowers. Spring is around the corner, right? Timely, I thought.

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I love this paint. It has a silken texture that flows like whipped butter. Where has this stuff been all my life?

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Here are a bunch of parts primed and ready to roll!

Now about those flowers…Oh my goodness. I love them. I truly love them. But, they are all basically the same size and I felt like I needed some variety. I do have some tinier ones, but I didn’t like they way they took to my chosen paint. What’s a girl to do? I’ll make my own! AND THAT’S WHEN THE TROUBLE STARTED!  Armed with a plan, off to YouTube I went. Of course my unruly muse was ecstatic…both she and I were getting a wee bit bored.  Yes, that muse of mine felt it was time to stir the pot and all hell broke loose!

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These are the flowers (plus others), which I’ll be using. I needed some others of varying sizes. And that is when my troubles began.

After watching several videos, I said to myself, “I can do that,” cocky old cuss that I am. I unearthed an old pasta machine, and pulled out some clay that’s been taking up real estate around here for two plus decades, and proceeded to play. Piece of cake, right?

You see this plate of clay. It is a graveyard of failed attempts! What was I thinking???

You see this plate of clay. It is a graveyard of failed attempts! What was I thinking???

Oh my gosh! Talk.About.A.Disaster! My first attempts, had they been in an appropriate color looked like they belonged in a litter box. Who’s cocky now? Not me! When I went into this little venture, I said to my mom, “Practice makes perfect.” I liedonly I just didn’t realize it at the time!  Holy cow!

The challenge ends in April of this year, not a decade from now. Unless my technique improves, the flowers I already have will have to do. My sweaty, chubby fingers can’t seem to master that last tiny rose petal. Just when I think I’m setting the world on fire, it tears.

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Seriously ugly…I have much to learn. You should see their predecessors. They were even worse. How is that possible?

And of course, since I was on YouTube already, you know I had to watch a trillion other videos, which naturally led to more experiments. This would be about the time I decided that my muse was a cosmonaut, (or at least on crack!) for in a week’s time, we have taken so many detours from what we are supposed to be doing we had practically forgotten our purpose. We left the highways, traveled the back rounds, abandoned the continent, and she now had me spinning in another galaxy, filling my head with ideas that came and went like a thousand shooting stars. “Just do it,” she’d whisper, fully knowing that I hadn’t the foggiest notion how to execute those ideas, nor the skill set to do so either!  She is quite naughty, actually.

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Now these aren’t too bad…

But I love that muse of mine, despite her shortcomings. I dearly love her. I love the fact that she teaches me that failure is the first step in the long road to mastery. I love that she insists I ignore the rules and forge my own path and that she kicks me in my hind parts and insists that I venture into unknown lands. She can be quite a bitch, but she is a loving bitch, for she knows in my secret heart of hearts, I am a one of a kind artist. That is who I am. And she also knows that if I don’t at least move forward—even if I fail—I will become stagnant.

You see, I adore the process of creating something that is uniquely mine…not a bunch of remakes of the same thing.   My father loved working jigsaw puzzles and when I have all of my cherished parts in front of me, I often think of him. He would sit down at the card table, methodically laying out the pieces, and slowly begin to work the puzzle. When I’m moving parts left and right, up and down, I am reminded of sitting at that wonderful table with my dad. There is a beautiful stillness that comes from this kind of meditative focus.  It creates balance and calm.

Every once in a while, you think you have the perfect puzzle piece, for the perfect spot and when you put it all together, it doesn’t fit—be it a puzzle or jewelry. The back story of the piece I’m going to show you today is fraught with frustration. First of all, I wondered what I was thinking when I bought the mount. It was so stinking big…Sheesh! And as I kept moving parts around, for the life of me, I couldn’t find any combination that I liked. After a while, that frustration turned into determination. I was seriously annoyed!  (That comment has been cleaned up for general audiences!)

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Nothing was working but my sheer determination. As I was fiddling with this I thought if I can make something out of this it will be a minor miracle.

At just the right moment, about the time I was ready to deep six the whole project, my muse conjured up a memory—reminding me of a piece of art a friend of mine created for a trade show 20 or 30 years ago. I can remember it as if it were yesterday.

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I took a bunch of junk and created texture. As I was doing this I wondered, can I pull this off, knowing that it was going to be awful or awesome.

He took trash: old hubcaps, hammers, old albums, CD’s, gears—a bunch of disconnected stuff. From this junk, David created a backdrop that stopped people in their tracks on the show floor. It was huge, it was brilliant, and as I studied it, I was amazed what paint and glue and junk could become! Picture a billboard sized steampunk statement piece. It was amazing! And, once I remembered that, thank you muse (!), I knew how to approach my own pile of discordant materials. I realize this one is way “over the top” (too much so for most folks), and only a handful of women would wear it.  But in honor of those kindred souls who “dance to the beat of their own drummer,” I say let the music play!

Over the top? Yes! Is it for everyone? No! Do I love it? Yes I do, mostly for the lessons it taught me!

Over the top? Yes! Is it for everyone? No! Do I love it? Yes I do, mostly for the lessons it taught me!

Thank you so much for stopping by. I truly hope you will leave a comment and also visit my friends who are also working very hard on this challenge. Simply click on a link and subsequent links to follow this journey with us. We’d truly appreciate a visit and a little note to let us know you came by!  And, all of us would greatly appreciate a return visit on April 1st for our final reveal where everyone will be posting all that they made.  Thanks again and cheers!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne Jewelry Making Outside the Box

http://www.bsueboutiques.typepad.com

 

Diana Buynak Butterfly Emporium Ceramic Studio

http://butterflyemporium.indiemade.com/blog

 

Irene Hoffman, Heart’s Dezire by Irene

http://heartsdezirebyirene.wordpress.com

 

Clare Wells Nemeth, Creative Magick

http://www.craftingmagick.blogspot.com

 

Mary Reckmeyer, Afrayed Not

http://www.afrayedknot.net

 

Marcia Tuzzolino, Aurora Designs

http://auroradesignsjewelryblog.me

 

Elizabeth Wilks, Wearable Art by Lizzie

http://wearableartbylizzie.blogspot.com

 

Jeanette Rose Belmont, One Canvas At A Time

http://www.onecanvasatatime.com

 

Lyn Joy Reeve, A Journey From Jewels To Jubilation

http://lnreeve00.blogspot.com

 

Belinda Reed-Ingle, Vogue Rocks

http://voguerocks.blogspot.com

 

Beth Trubman, The Journey of Jewelry

http://thejourneyofjewelry.blogspot.com

 

Carole Carlson, Bead Sophisticate

http://beadsophisticate.wordpress.com

 

Jann Tague, Clever Designs by Jann

http://janntague.wordpress.com

 

Shari Gardner, SLG Jewelry Designs

http://slgdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Susan Bolton, Fern’s Place

http://www.fernsplace.org

 

Chris Kemp, Noodle Pie Bracelets

http://noodlepiebracelets.com

 

Barbara Kelley, Angels’ Keep

http://angelskeepbandbdotcom.wordpress.com

 

Susan Bowerman, Woodside Wireworks

http://woodsidewireworks.com/

 

Pamela Anger, Novegatti Designs

http://novegattidesigns.blogspot.com

 

Joan Donovan, Hailey’s Cottage

http://haileyscottage.com/

 

Alison Huie, Ally’s Baubles

http://www.allysbaubles.blogspot.com

 

Sharon Palac, Sharon’s Jewelry Garden

http://www.sharonsjewelrygarden.blogspot.com

 

Erica Olmos, Beeb’s Closet

https://beebscloset.wordpress.com

 

Erin Whitacre, Shattered Time Jewelry

https://shatteredtimejewelry.wordpress.com

 

Fran Sitton, Sitton Up Front

https://sittonupfront.wordpress.com

 

Ginger Hammond, Lynn Leigh Designs

https://lynnleighdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Paula Gaskill, Lovely LaylaBug Jewels

http://www.lovelylaylabugjewels.com/Blog.php

 

Mary Deis, The Rose Sword

http://theroseswordmdeis.blogspot.com

 

Renee Webb Allen, Small Stuff Design

http://smallstuffdesign.com

 

Valerie Tilghman, ArtJewelsandGifts

http://www.artjewelzdimensions.blogspot.com

 

Chris Cravens, Vintage Cravens

http://christinecravens.blogspot.com

 

Leslie Carver, Adorn Divine Designs

http://www.adorndivinedesigns.blogspot.com

 

Donna Parry, JewelryDonna

http://jewelrydonna.typepad.com

 

Gina-Marie Hammer, Tangles, Twists and Treasures

http://tanglestwistsandtreasures.com/blog/

 

Kelly Wymer, Winged Wisdom Enchantments

https://wingedwisdomenchantments.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

From “Deck out the Denim” to “Cashmere and Pearls”

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My table…where magic happens.

How about these pearls…Aren’t they yummy?  Welcome to my happy place, where I, Susan Bowerman, the gal behind Woodside WireWorks,  produces hand-crafted artisan jewelry;  a journey which began almost a decade ago.  While I am for the most part self taught, I have found YouTube has truly been my friend.  And, drumroll please…it was on YouTube where I first encountered my friend, Brenda Sue Landsdowne and B’Sue Boutiques!  Talk about a kick in the creative pants!

This is the second year I have participated in the Build a Line Challenge and I can assure you, I will learn more in the next three months than I ever would just sitting here on my own.  The event is sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques  (http://www.bsueboutiques.com), where one can find the best of the the best American made stampings in raw brass and in several high quality finishes.  B’Sue Boutiques is the mecca for many jewelry artists.  If you want quality, see Brenda!

There is something pretty magic about sitting down to a table full of beads and findings.  The possibilities are endless.  Often, when I’m in the zone, I will look out the window only to realize darkness has fallen, day became dusk..Where did those hours go?

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Quality, defined! Some of these gorgeous pieces are already part of my new line.

Being part of the Build a Line Challenge affords participants an opportunity to spread their creative wings, and approach making wearable art with a focused intention.  I love it.  Our format this year is different:  more structure, more reading, and more on-topic discussions.  I cannot even imagine trying to fill Brenda’s shoes, because  creating art is a passionate endeavor.  These are our babies, for crying out loud and we all know how most mamas like to protect their young! That makes mentoring an event like this quite a fete…I wouldn’t want to do it!  But, Brenda is guiding us through an odyssey of self discovery; teaching us to be work smarter, to define our style, and to recognize our customer.

The purpose of the challenge is to build a body of COHESIVE  work!  Yikes, throw that word “cohesive” in the mix and therein lies the CHALLENGE  within the CHALLENGE!  My line last year was called “Deck out that Denim.”  Here is a collage of the pieces I made during those three months.  I was so happy with how they turned out, especially since  I knew very little about what to expect and what I was doing.

Here are a few of the pieces I created for the challenge last year. My line was called "Deck out that Denim."

My “Deck out the Denim” line was intended to add a little pop to most any outfit…from jeans to a pair of slacks and a simple top.

One of the things I love about our approach this year is that  we are required to reveal our intended “line” with our first blog post…as in now!  For me, this change in strategy was a great idea, for it forced me to focus from the onset.  The pieces above are cohesive because they use components which collectively have the same finishes, so building that body of work was a happy accident.  The theme I have chosen this time requires more thought…much more!  But, what is the value in doing something if you don’t strive for adding a few new tricks to your trade?

My Happy Place...

My Happy Place…

I will be using metals in this line too, but most of them will be altered.  My line will feature hand painted stampings, flowers, and pearls…all of which I adore.   Since not everyone is a fan of flowers,  some pieces will be made of alternate components in an effort to give the collection depth.

But, but, but…now that I’m altering the metals, it means building COHESION throughout the line requires vast amounts of thought and planning.  My camera is doubling as my editor, helping me to identify pieces which need to be altered and hopefully weed out those things that simply don’t fit.

This is my father, and he is the inspiration for this line.

This is my father, and he is the inspiration for this line.

Now how did I come up with the title, Cashmere and Pearls?  Well I’ll tell you!  My late father and I were talking way back in the day and I think he was trying to convince his “tomboy” daughter to be more ladylike.  That was a TALL ORDER!  Finally, he said to me, “Susie honey, I like my women in Cashmere and Pearls!”  I’ve never forgotten that.  So the line I’m creating is dedicated to my dear father, who was always on point, extremely wise, and the best father a girl could ask for.

Cashmere and Pearls will combine beautiful stampings–modified with a dewey soft finish–and pearls, and with a few flowers tossed in.  Most of the line will be romantic and soft.

Some of these hand painted flowers will bloom in my Cashmere and Pearls line.

Some of these hand painted flowers will bloom in my Cashmere and Pearls line.

I am optimistic that I will be able to make pieces of varied shapes to add interest and create pieces, which can be layered within the collection.  With a little luck, I will be able to master some simpler pieces so that the next time I setup at a craft show, I will have offerings at many price points.  Here is a sneak peak of one of the pieces I’ve created, thus far.  I must say, I love, love, love to make jewelry.

Introducing the first piece in my Cashmere and Pearls line. The focal and stampings were hand painted and the piece hangs from a golden chain hand wired with tiny pearls.

Introducing the first piece in my Cashmere and Pearls line. The focal and stampings were hand painted and the piece hangs from a golden chain hand wired with tiny pearls.

And this is me, the crazy girl who would much rather buy pliers and beads than shoes!  Thank you so much for visiting.  Please leave me a little comment if you’d be so kind.  And please, please, please visit the many other talented artists with whom I have the pleasure of sharing this journey.

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Introducing our “2016 Build a Line Challenge”  Artists:

 

Brenda Sue Lansdowne Jewelry Making Outside the Box

http://www.bsueboutiques.typepad.com

 

Diana Buynak Butterfly Emporium Ceramic Studio

http://butterflyemporium.indiemade.com/blog

 

Irene Hoffman, Heart’s Dezire by Irene

http://heartsdezirebyirene.wordpress.com

 

Clare Wells Nemeth, Creative Magick

http://www.craftingmagick.blogspot.com

 

Mary Reckmeyer, Afrayed Not

http://www.afrayedknot.net

 

Marcia Tuzzolino, Aurora Designs

http://auroradesignsjewelryblog.me

 

Elizabeth Wilks, Wearable Art by Lizzie

http://wearableartbylizzie.blogspot.com

 

Jeanette Rose Belmont, One Canvas At A Time

http://www.onecanvasatatime.com

 

Lyn Joy Reeve, A Journey From Jewels To Jubilation

http://lnreeve00.blogspot.com

 

Belinda Reed-Ingle, Vogue Rocks

http://voguerocks.blogspot.com

 

Beth Trubman, The Journey of Jewelry

http://thejourneyofjewelry.blogspot.com

 

Carole Carlson, Bead Sophisticate

http://beadsophisticate.wordpress.com

 

Jann Tague, Clever Designs by Jann

http://janntague.wordpress.com

 

Shari Gardner, SLG Jewelry Designs

http://slgdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Susan Bolton, Fern’s Place

http://www.fernsplace.org

 

Chris Kemp, Noodle Pie Bracelets

http://noodlepiebracelets.com

 

Barbara Kelley, Angels’ Keep

http://angelskeepbandbdotcom.wordpress.com

 

Susan Bowerman, Woodside Wireworks

http://woodsidewireworks.com/

 

Pamela Anger, Novegatti Designs

http://novegattidesigns.blogspot.com

 

Joan Donovan, Hailey’s Cottage

http://haileyscottage.com/

 

Alison Huie, Ally’s Baubles

http://www.allysbaubles.blogspot.com

 

Sharon Palac, Sharon’s Jewelry Garden

http://www.sharonsjewelrygarden.blogspot.com

 

Erica Olmos, Beeb’s Closet

https://beebscloset.wordpress.com

 

Erin Whitacre, Shattered Time Jewelry

https://shatteredtimejewelry.wordpress.com

 

Fran Sitton, Sitton Up Front

https://sittonupfront.wordpress.com

 

Ginger Hammond, Lynn Leigh Designs

https://lynnleighdesigns.wordpress.com

 

Paula Gaskill, Lovely LaylaBug Jewels

http://www.lovelylaylabugjewels.com/Blog.php

 

Mary Deis, The Rose Sword

http://theroseswordmdeis.blogspot.com

 

Renee Webb Allen, Small Stuff Design

http://smallstuffdesign.com

 

Valerie Tilghman, ArtJewelsandGifts

http://www.artjewelzdimensions.blogspot.com

 

Chris Cravens, Vintage Cravens

http://christinecravens.blogspot.com

 

Leslie Carver, Adorn Divine Designs

http://www.adorndivinedesigns.blogspot.com

 

Donna Parry, JewelryDonna

http://jewelrydonna.typepad.com

 

Gina-Marie Hammer, Tangles, Twists and Treasures

http://tanglestwistsandtreasures.com/blog/

 

Kelly Wymer, Winged Wisdom Enchantments

https://wingedwisdomenchantments.wordpress.com/

 

Challenged! Again!

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Mama’s little helper.

It has been quite a while since yours truly has done a blog post…Way too long. This one will be quite short as at the moment there is a cat between my hands and the keyboard.  WHEN NOT?????  My cat, Miss Skittles is getting up in years, and earned the right to be demanding and she is.

The "Creation Station."

The “Creation Station.”

Last year about this same time, I was knee deep in the Build a Line Challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques.  It was an extremely rewarding experience and I am at it once again.  The purpose is to create a body of work which can be readily replicated, is cohesive, and if one of my friends or customers saw the piece, they would recognize the style as mine.

In preparation I reorganized my studio, and made a few purchases, the first of which was to buy a heater, hoping I could find enough comfort this time around to not be working in every room of the house like I did last time.  Then, I rewarded my self by purchasing supplies.   Oh yes, we love that part!

 

Aha!  Wish I had used this last year!

Duh. Why have the tools if you don’t use them?

Since I am an American, the metric system continues to baffle me.  Last year, I was expecting a few of the things I ordered to be the size of a half dollar…needless to say, I was a tad disappointed to find them arrive the size of a dime!  So I got out my caliper, went to Youtube to make sure I was using it correctly, and was delighted this time around when the pieces were the expected size.  Small victories excite me!

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I just love to open these boxes!

Frankly I found the challenge to be much simpler when I was flying by the seat of my pants!  This year, I know more of what is expected–just enough to be dangerous actually–and I’m finding myself overthinking everything.  But that is a good thing.  I am far more intentioned this time around and lets face it:  Indecision is expensive…I am currently playing with a couple of ideas so naturally, I had to buy enough stuff to execute either one.  Aren’t  these just gorgeous?  Oh my goodness!

 

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And check these out.  Holy cow!  I mean, what’s not to love?

 

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Now the trick is making up my mind and trying to figure out how to combine all of these pretties!

We have a handful of “alumni” repeating this year’s class as well as an impressive group of very talented first timers.  These gals came to the party ready, willing,  and fully engaged.  Sharing the experience with them is already proving to be enlightening.  THEY ARE AWESOME!

So in deference to my classmates, here are a few tips that helped me get my groove on last year:

  1.  Drag out that crockpot and fill it.  Having dinner out of the way is the bomb.  It is your best friend.
  2. Make your coffee the night before.
  3. Take bubble baths.  Close your eyes and imagine.  You’d be surprised what great ideas come to you when you are drifting placidly in a steamy tub.
  4. Take trillions of pictures and slam them in a file dedicated to this class.
  5. Keep your camera on your work station and keep it charged!  And use it…again and again.  See tip #4 and tip #6.
  6. Let your camera be your editor…before you pick up your pliers.  It tells stories the naked eye doesn’t see.  Use it to test your line and individual pieces for compatible elements.  The camera and the crock pot will both help you rock this thing!
  7. Walk away.  When you get frustrated do something else.  See tip #3!  Maybe give the house a “lick and a promise” while you are at it.  If it is like mine, it could always uses a little loving attention.
  8. Gather your supplies, have them convenient, and play.
  9. Pay attention in class, but listen to your own heart!  And most importantly, enjoy the ride!

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And, may we each find ways to continue to inspire one another!  Much love to the my fellow artists.  It is an honor to be part of this journey with you!  Thank you Brenda for making this possible for all of us!

Come on Baby, “Deck Out that Denim”…The Reveal

B’Sue Boutiques Build a Line Challenge, Susan Bowerman, Woodside WireWorks

Deck out that Denim

Meet Skittles Bowerman, Woodside WireWorks Quality Control Director…inspecting the line.

A few years ago, my creative life changed with a simple mouse click. I was perusing Pinterest for inspiration and discovered a red-headed firecracker named Brenda Sue Lansdowne. She was making the coolest necklace out of buttons. Buttons!   And it was bursting with tropical colors. She grabbed some buttons, dabbed them with glue, and stuck them on a blank. While she was making it, she chatted, giggled, talked. I felt as if I had known her for years. Here was a woman who was fun, made groovy stuff, had an authentic voice and her quirky, inviting down home style, captivated me. The end result of that video was a show stopping, stinking cute necklace. We had to order pizza that night because I watched videos ALL.DAY.LONG. I was hooked and soon joined the B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group on Facebook. Here are some pieces I’ve made for my “Deck Out that Denim” line, most of which were inspired by those videos I watched so long ago.

These are the first pieces made for my "Deck Out Your Denim" line.  I love how the mixed metals play off of each other.

These are the first pieces made for my “Deck Out Your Denim” line. I love how the mixed metals play off of each other. This is the lower tier of my pricing pyramid. They are simple, elegant pieces, which will make an outfit pop.

As I sat there, watching the first video, I thought, “I can do that,” and placed an order from B’Sue Boutiques. I about assaulted the mailman until it came! Then came the glue part. I’m a glue stick kind of girl. Holy Guacamole! The stuff I tried to stick kept sliding all over the place while Skittles, my crazy cat kept walking through it. My “eureka” moment lost its shine during those first futile attempts at assemblage.

Meanwhile, I joined a few other jewelry groups on Facebook. Oddly, for some reason the only one I participate in is the one I had no business being in!  These were mixed media artists, something I hadn’t even attempted. Up until then, I only made beaded jewelry. It never crossed my mind to use glue and patinas and all the stuff these folks use with ease.

Here's another part of my denim line.  I love that Lion and Rose Ox filigree from B'Sue Boutiques.  Picture this on a simple shirt.  It's going to pop!

Here’s another part of my denim line. I love that Lion and Rose Ox filigree from B’Sue Boutiques. Picture this on a simple shirt. It’s going to pop!

More of the line.

But, in my heart, I knew I’d be wise to participate…to stay the course.  I fell in love with Brenda, made wonderful friends among the members, and soon nicknamed it “The B’Sue Creative Group and University.” Chances are, whenever I get stuck, and ask a question, someone in that worthy forum will provide a fast answer. Still, I was so out of my league I often felt like quitting.  Plus my life was taking many stressful detours so I drifted in and out, only occasionally participating in the monthly challenges.

When I had this wonderful blank on my table, I kept staring at it.  I've seen quite a few members of the creative group use it beautifully, often embellishing a piece like this a great deal, with many smaller components.  I find these larger forms gorgeous in their own right, and opted to enhance it only slightly with a flower and a dangle.

When I had this wonderful blank on my table, I kept staring at it. I’ve seen quite a few members of the creative group use it beautifully, often embellishing a piece like this a great deal, with many smaller components. I find these larger forms gorgeous in their own right, and opted to enhance it only slightly with a flower and a dangle.

The pull to be part of the group was strong though, I knew I’d be a fool to ignore it. It was if the universe was taking a sledgehammer to my head screaming, “pay attention,” so I did. I realized I would learn much, be frustrated often, but the learning outweighed the angst and on a deeper level and most importantly, intuitively I knew I found my creative home.  I bore easily and at the creative group, there is so much talent and inspiration. It is an ideal environment for someone who wants to learn, to forge new territory, to create imaginative pieces, and add to improve their skills.  Brenda and the creative group have taught me more than I would have ever learned flying solo.

This is an example of an embellished blank.  Once I add a chain and a clasp it will be finished.  Because I still tend to be "glue challenged," this one was "less than cooperative" to assemble.

This is an example of an embellished blank. Once I add a chain and a clasp it will be finished. Because I still tend to be “glue challenged,” this one was “less than cooperative” to assemble. This piece, and those which follow, are at the top of the pyramid.

When I decided to join in the Build a Line Challenge, a few of my pals made the suggestion that the motivation behind doing something for a purveyor of parts was a brilliant ploy to improve sales. True and so what??? As the child of a self-made man who formed his own company, employed many, and had more integrity than most, I am an ardent believer in free enterprise. Don’t get me started on that! Everyone should be compensated for his or her time and talent. And, to get ahead, one needs to be an innovator, and creator of opportunities.  I would gladly pay a fee to be part of this class.

But, for the cost of a few parts, the lessons our group has taken from this far outweigh what we paid in supplies. Every step of the way, Brenda passionately returned our meager investments, empowering us with her knowledge.   She challenged, encouraged, nurtured, and inspired us, giving us the benefit of her thirty plus years experience in the trade. She gave far more than we did by a long shot. We grew as a group but more importantly, as individuals. We fretted, we whined, we had triumphs, and shared secrets.   Oh, and we were so often resistant to new ideas.   We had passionate dialogues and I’d be sitting at my computer going, “Damn, really?” So many of the things we were mentioning never crossed my mind.

I love this one.  Again, a blank was used along with many embellishments from B'Sue Boutiques.  I am so pleased with how this line is coming together.  I feel like these metals make an amazing statement when used together.

I love this one. Again, a blank was used along with many embellishments from B’Sue Boutiques. I am so pleased with how this line is coming together. I feel like these metals make an amazing statement when used together.

My dad used to say to me, “Susie, have you ever really learned anything with your mouth open?”  I would protest, wanting so badly to drive my point home.  But my dad was wise, he had the benefit of many years more than I had.  Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.  It is helpful to see a situation through a different lens rather than being stuck in our own stale thinking.  Sometimes I wonder if the stars were crossed the day I was born. Misfit comes to mind, as does dreamer, dabbler, and maker of shiny things.  I was blessed with great parents, who set a good example and forced me to think.   Being part of this experience reinforced my image of myself. I guess you could say I have followed my own path for most of my adult life, but flying solo comes with a price.

This bracelet was made with 6 strands of beads from my stash and bracelet bars from B'Sue Boutiques.  It closes with a lobster clasp for security.

This bracelet was made with 6 strands of beads from my stash and bracelet bars from B’Sue Boutiques. It closes with a lobster clasp for security.

This charm bracelet was made with book chain from B'Sue Boutiques, and some bits and pieces from my stash and some groovy little charms from Virginia Beach Beads.  I love the movement of it.  It closes with a incredibly strong magnetic clasp.  When you "Deck Out that Denim" you can't forget to adorn the wrist!

This charm bracelet was made with book chain from B’Sue Boutiques, and some bits and pieces from my stash and some groovy little charms from Virginia Beach Beads. I love the movement of it. It closes with a incredibly strong magnetic clasp. When you “Deck Out that Denim” you can’t forget to adorn the wrist!

Belonging to a community like this fosters personal power, self-actualization, creativity, and enlightenment. The flow of ideas creates sparks, which become fires. Please if you ever have an opportunity to join forces with a tribe of like-minded souls, don’t wait forever, sitting in the wilderness with a wee book of matches as I did. Rather, jump in, enjoy the ride, and let your creative fires burn.  I will always be a dreamer, it is part of the tapestry that makes me “me” and I am totally good with that, but shared dreams often bear more fruit than do solitary ones.  My husband used to have a saying, ” He’s  like a little fire in the wilderness, cheerful but not too bright.”  I’ve been “brightened” on so many levels by being part of this group.

Look who is napping on the job.  Finding good help is tough these days!

Look who is napping on the job. Finding good help is tough these days!

Please, take a moment to visit the other members of our community. We are on this pilgrimage together. I know they will appreciate your visit as much as I do. Thank you for following each of us on our journey, and if you are so inclined, a comment here and there is always welcome.

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue Boutiques

Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Jann Tague

Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King

Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford

Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson

Beadsophisticate

Lynn Stinten

Dragonzwench

Marica Zammit

Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck

VRBrose

Michaele Collie

The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig

Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman

Strega Jewelry

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady

MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West

Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson

https://howlingdogjewelry.wordpress.com/

Leila Belcher

Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen

Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams

Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara

LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth

MadScientistsDesigns

Dana Hickey

Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo

Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark

Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman

  1. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger

Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen

Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed

Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields

Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam

Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis

The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman – – -You are here.

Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le

Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters

Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider

Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett

Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson

From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman

The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter

TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer

Smithed Up

Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris

Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer

Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier

Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen

Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams

Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens

1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard

Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law

ab:coraldesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lusting for Spring…

This is the view from my window.

This is the view from my window.

This is the road in front of my house.

This is the road in front of my house.

 

This is what my street looks like.  And it has been pretty much like this for the better part of the last ten days.  I’ve been out once!

I’m one of those girls that always wants snow. After this winter, I’ve changed my mind.  I want snow that comes and goes as quickly as it came! I live in the South. I don’t deal. While I love tinkering on the home front, it is nice to get out a bit.  And I really, really don’t like to drive over white stuff.  Around here we don’t get much practice.

 

Work in progress...

Work in progress…

Honestly, I can only string but so many beads, read but so many books, before the walls begin to close in a bit. We’ve had three substantial snows in ten days. That is unheard of here.

The finished piece.

The finished piece.

Meanwhile, cabin fever has set in. In.a.big.way!

IMG_2372

I can’t wait to start messing with these again!

I can’t wait to get dirty. I want to go outside and scratch around in the soil. I want grab my rake and shovel and shed these winter woes. I’m new to yard work and while I suppose it shows, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy it. Hell, before last year, I didn’t even know how to put the lawnmower in reverse! Now I have a chainsaw, and know how to use it—and have been pruning and planting. I’m itching to throw some seeds in the ground and watch them pop up!

 

That's what I'm talking about!

That’s what I’m talking about!

Last year's first harvest.  I can't wait!

Last year’s first harvest. I can’t wait!

Fresh herbs, summer salads, oh my...

Fresh herbs, summer salads, oh my…

I want to feast on steamed crabs.

I want to feast on steamed crabs with butter dripping down to my elbows! Yum, yum, yum!

I want to open the windows, air out the house and blow the cobwebs out of my head at the same time.   I need some exercise. What is it about this weather that has turned me into an utter slug? But alas there is hope. Watch this video. Could that be the sound of melting snow? I do believe it is!  This girl is counting the days!

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Folly…Build a LIne Challenge, Woodside WireWorks, Part 2

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I found this little treasure on Purple Clover’s Facebook Page. Love it!

Whips and Chains…Come on now, get your mind out of the gutter for crying out loud—not those whips and chains…we’re not talking THE Fifty Shades here…at least not that version! Metaphorically speaking, I’m talking about creative bondage… And in case you are wondering, no, I have not seen the movie. This discussion is entirely different. I’m referring rather to fuzzy, unfocused, and very gray thinking, far more than Fifty Shades of foolish thoughts in my case.  The Build a Line Challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques has enlightened me on just how twisted my thinking can be.  Time to work smarter!

My kind of "chains."

My kind of “chains.”

For instance, my beliefs about making jewelry, which I held so dear, made sense only to me. Fuzzy indeed! I’ve been clinging to my notions as if they were a life raft in a turbulent sea.  For roughly eight years. I’ve been adrift, approaching my craft as nothing more than a hobby. And you know what, doing the same thing, over and over with no new innovation—in terms of selling and marketing—yields the same results. Duh! It’s no wonder why the outcome of my efforts is less than magical.

Deck Out Your Denim

Works in progress for my Deck Out Your Denim line. I do believe I’ve remade the piece on the right at least five times.

Don’t get me wrong; when I do a show, I do well. I’ve sold quite a bit of my work over the years. My designs are unique. I give myself permission to experiment and follow my intuition. The feedback I get is usually positive. Does everyone like my style of jewelry? Heaven’s no! Do I like everything I make? Oh please…I have a box of failures awaiting a pair of cutters and a set of fresh eyes…some of it is quite dreadful, actually. Do I like all of the jewelry I see on a daily basis? No, of course I don’t.  That’s not the point.

I’ve learned a few things in the course of a month, which will prove to serve me well should I take those lessons to heart. That would be good, as my business plan up to the point should be labeled, “Monkey Business,” for I haven’t a real ‘plan’ at all. I LACK FOCUS! When I threw my hat in the ring for this challenge, I hadn’t the foggiest where it was going, or where it would take me. Not a clue! What I didn’t expect was to have a total overhaul of what I do and how I do it. Were talking a major psychic shift! While I may not make my first million dollars, one bead at a time, at least—thank you Brenda and classmates—I’ve come to realize I need to set the bar quite a bit higher than I have in the past, unless of course I want to be singing the same tired song this time next year.

Wire-wrapped spoon pendant.

I “decked out” this spoon with wire and beads. I like the result.

Here are a few conclusions I have drawn while participating in the Build a Line Challenge sponsored by http://www.bsueboutiques.com: I need to create jewelry for customers, not other artists. Having my work admired by those who also make jewelry is wonderful but has little impact on the bank account. I love seeing what other’s make, I know what it took to make it, it is often breathtakingly beautiful, and I love seeing how others put their stamp on things. I also love having those of like minds admire my work. But if I’m going to make jewelry, I need to sell it!

That means I need to study style, pay attention to what is trending, and devote as much time to finding ways to sell it as I do making it. I love this wonderful little creative planet I orbit on a daily basis, but my little flights of fancy are not enough. My work needs to find its way around a neck, preferably one other than mine, and for a fair price. A shift in energy and focus is clearly in order.

Miss Skittles…always ready to help!

Miss Skittles…always ready to help!

And that stash of supplies I’m hording, well lets just confess that what I bought years ago I wouldn’t buy today. I’ve learned I need to shop smarter, use quality materials, and blend items that will go with more than one outfit. I need to simplify, and streamline. Yes, I want some “over the top, one of a kind really arty pieces,” but simpler pieces will sell sooner, can be made affordably, and will appeal to more buyers. In other words, this girl needs to approach what she does, through an entirely different lens, engaging her heart, hands, and head!

Pendant.  Coin Pendant.

My “Every Coin Has Two Sides” pendant necklace. After a trillion remakes, I’m finally happy with it.

The ideas we’ve discussed are whipping most of us into shape and that is indeed a good thing. For me, it has been an eye opening case of whiplash!

Oh, about those chains…that’s another thing I’ve learned. Most of what I’ve made in the past has been beaded. Buying chain, and have it look right isn’t as simple as it looks. Trust me, I think I’ve tried them all during this process while I’m getting better at choosing, I still find it tricky, thank you.

In our classroom, when one of us has a triumph, we call that an “Aha Moment.” I’ve had many of them through this opportunity. The biggest one occurred when I placed all of my works in progress together and studied them with an objective eye. My reaction was surprising: “Damn, I have a line…Deck Out That Denim is coming together. Wow!” I started this class not even sure what a line was. I know now, and yes, I have one. Life is good!

Please, please, please take the time to read and see what the others in the Build A Line Challenge have been up to. This lively group will keep you entertained, inspired, and all have a few “Aha Moments” to share with you. Oh, do show some love and leave a comment. We creative types eat that stuff up! Thank you for your visit. I appreciate it!

Another work in progress.  This piece is at the top of my line.  I love how it is coming.

Another work in progress. This piece is at the top of my line. I love how it is coming.

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue Boutiques

Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Jann Tague

Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King

Apt to Wander Studio

Linzi Alford

Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson

Beadsophisticate

Lynn Stinten

Dragonzwench

Marica Zammit

Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck

VRBrose

Michaele Collie

The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig

Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman

Strega Jewelry

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady

MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West

Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson

https://howlingdogjewelry.wordpress.com/

Leila Belcher

Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen

Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams

Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara

LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth

MadScientistsDesigns

Dana Hickey

Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo

Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark

Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman

  1. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger

Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen

Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed

Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields

Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam

Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis

The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman – – -You are here.

Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le

Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters

Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider

Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett

Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson

From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman

The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter

TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer

Smithed Up

Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris

Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer

Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier

Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen

Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams

Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens

1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard

Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law

ab:coraldesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate and Fuzzy Socks…

Snow day play date.  Making beaded chain.

Snow day play date. Making beaded chain.

What a beautiful day to be a “shut-in!”  Snow is a rare commodity in Virginia Beach and last night’s snow was epic for this neck of the woods.  I kept the flood lights on, and watched it come down.  It was like one of our typical N’Easters but white!  Absolutely beautiful.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen snow come down with such fury before.

This day is the perfect excuse to stay in my PJ’s and work on the Build a LIne Challenge, which has been keeping me entertained since early January.  We have another blog hop scheduled for Friday (stay tuned!), and I’m pretty certain most of the troops are hunkered down with pliers, wires, and glue, just like I’m doing this fine day.

How 'bout this view?

How ’bout this view?

The front yard.  Our street will be icy for awhile.  Poor me, I get to stay home, drink hot chocolate, and play!

The front yard. Our street will be icy for awhile. Poor me, I get to stay home, drink hot chocolate, and play!

For many of us, this challenge has taken us out of our comfort zones, but led us toward a new way of thinking.  We are a chatty bunch and the interaction has been lively and fun.  If one of us has a problem, we post a picture, and typically get several great answers, and a solution to our problem.  How cool is that?

The challenge is sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques (http://www.bsueboutiques.com) and our mentor and gifted teacher Brenda Sue Lansdowne.  She is AMAZING!  I cannot even imagine trying to inspire our tribe.  We are a fun bunch, and a few of us might just be a wee bit stubborn, and resistant to change!  I know I was.  Brenda has opened my eyes on so many levels–and that isn’t easy to do!

Parts, glorious parts!  Can't wait to show you what became of these!

Parts, glorious parts! Can’t wait to show you what became of these!

Today I’m trying to wrap up a few projects while gazing out of the windows at the beautiful snow.  My animals are huddled beside me in the quiet warmth.  I’ve got some cozy wool socks on, am about to make some hot chocolate, Nora Jones is playing in the background, and all is well in my world.   It doesn’t get much better than this!

But Wait, There’s More…

I have had this scrap of paper for thirty years.  It traveled with me from one job to another, and when I eventually retired, it came home with me.  I think these words are as true in business as they are in life.

I have had this scrap of paper for thirty years. It traveled with me from one job to another, and when I eventually retired, it came home with me. I think these words are as true in business as they are in life.

Nothing like falling asleep with the TV on, only to be awakened by an Infomercial. You know what I’m talking about. You can buy anything during the wee hours, from cookware, to knives, to pots and pans, even vacuum cleaners. Often the program is hosted by an “all American Barbie and Ken-like duo,” who follow a well crafted script, designed to educate you—the would be buyer—about why you couldn’t possibly live without their product. They banter cheerfully back and forth, rolling out the said product—feature-by-feature and benefit-by-benefit—all before a gushing studio audience.

This genre of advertising never ceases to amaze me. Regardless of what the product is, in a mere half hour you want it! Period. And, you are pretty certain that the world will stop spinning if you don’t buy it. All of those starry eyed folks in the studio audience who ooh and ahhh at just the right times can’t be wrong, can they? They provide just enough justification to warrant a purchase. Seriously, these ads are sophisticated; they are engineered to motivate, and move product. They work! Meanwhile, the implied underlying message is that you aren’t good enough, your house isn’t clean enough, and heaven forbid if you don’t have “abs or buns of steel!”   Infomercials are compelling, to say the least. And, don’t forget, you can have that new vacuum cleaner with “just four easy payments of $49.95, but wait, there’s more…”

What does this have to do with anything? I’ve decided to do my own infomercial, without the cameras, and with one poorly paid host: Me. Today marks my one-month anniversary in the B’Sue Creative Group’s Build a Line Challenge. Just one month, I can’t believe it has only been a month! Wow.

What did I do with myself before the challenge? Here are a few short answers: I floundered around, for starters. I played with my beads. I sat around in my artsy-fartsy cocoon, therapeutically creating stuff. And it was good…just not nearly good enough. Where do I want to take this passion for making jewelry of mine, I honestly don’t know? But, when I do decide, at least I will have a compass and a roadmap to get me there.

The line I’m designing, “Deck out the Denim” will feature these colors. When we started the challenge, I had an entirely different color scheme in mind.

When I tossed my hat in the ring and entered this challenge, I thought I’d learn about making jewelry, and making it better, that sort of thing. Little did I know that I would learn the fine points of converting a craft into something more viable. Brenda Sue Lansdowne started the Build a Line Challenge as an offshoot of the B’Sue Creative Group on Facebook.   Brenda is a fine jewelry artist in her own right, as well as a seller of parts, a creator of instructional videos…you name it, that lady does it! And does it well! They say when the “student is ready, the teacher will appear.” We are a group of 55 diverse students/artists, all being led by Brenda, and we are willing! She’s teaching us not only about design, but also about the business side of following a creative path. She began with showing us examples of jewelry that sells commercially. Then the group piped in and began to share examples of designers they admire. That was the beginning of our awakening. But wait, there’s more…

Vogue magazine was discussed. Truthfully, I doubt I have willingly thumbed through three issues of Vogue in my life. I am a “tom girl” at heart, no one would accuse me of being a “fashionista,” and, I was of the opinion that Vogue was “out of reach” for most women. I’ve since learned otherwise. Time to pay attention to the world outside of my creative bubble.

We moved on to branding and discovered that some brands, the Nikes, Adidas, Coca-Cola’s and other giants lead the pack, while others simply lag. One does not become a major player by accident. It takes work. For instance, blogs, social media, search engine optimization, tags, categories…all things that at least some of us felt were of little consequence a month ago, are vital to growing awareness and establishing an identity.

There are some incredibly talented and knowledgeable members within our ranks. To be part of this group and to have access to collective wisdom and experience is a gift—a rare gift indeed. For instance, one gal inquired about logos, another member whipped out several samples of logos she created on the fly. They were impressive!

Rose Ox and Silver from B'Sue Boutiques

Some of these pieces will find their way into my line. Aren’t they yummy? I fell in love with the Rose Ox pieces carried by B’Sue Boutiques.

Here’s an example of one of the things I needed help with. I struggle with some of the big components that others use so cleverly. So, I posted a picture of the stamping I was having trouble with, and within minutes, several members of the group shared pictures of their work, using the same component. I was amazed at the talent, and the diverse approach we have within the ranks.

This component will be part of my featured line.  I called on the troops for help using it.  They came through!

This component will be part of my featured line. I called on the troops for help using it. They came through! Sometimes it takes a village for me to learn things. I’m so happy to have found this one! We are a loving tribe!

I really like how this is coming together. It will beautiful on just about any color. I’m striving to create pieces which can compliment most wardrobes.

But wait, there’s more…this is a ninety-day challenge and we are but thirty days into it. In less than one month, we are building lines, blogging and considering more effective ways to market ourselves, and our work. We’ve learned we must design pieces at both ends of the pyramid. At the top are those rare souls who purchase art because a piece speaks to them at the core of their being. We covet and cherish this buyer, knowing our work will be treasured, celebrated, and appreciated fully. At the base of the pyramid, it yet another wonderful buyer, the one who more likely will sustain us by purchasing more pieces, more often. Both groups warm our hearts.

Here at the Build a Line Challenge, we’ve discovered that we need to do more than simply make jewelry.   If we want to take anything to the next level, we must be willing to commit ourselves to a new path.  And we need to be willing to do the work.  We need to create with intention, and focus, not just on a whim. That means shopping smarter, engaging all of our senses to create designs which have more  universal appeal. It means thinking about color, shameans engaging both our head and our heart when we sit down to create. No one is asking us to abandon their roots; rather we are being encouraged to grow our wings. Life is good. Very good indeed!

 

 

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