October 31, 2008

Ribbons, fabric and beads, oh my!

Ooooh, check out my Trendy Bead post on the Art Bead Scene today, it's all about ribbons. Which I now find myself lusting after, my poor paypal account.

So, why do I think I have time to sew Halloween costumes? I'm not quite sure where I find the time for such craziness, but i managed to sew two kimonos and skirts for my daughters this week, without a pattern. I can actually follow patterns for sewing, unlike knitting, but these designs were so simple, no pattern was needed. I also sewed together some lantern-inspired candy bags. Seriously, I am a nut.
And for the sake of complete randomness here is a little hedgie pendant that I whipped up earlier this week. Quite a few of these guys have wondered off into the world, I can't wait to see what people make with them!

Have all sorts of goofy, sugar-spiked fun tonight!

October 30, 2008

Beading Across the Miles

This was fun and unexpected. Rosanne had sent me a little care package this summer with various treasures from Bead & Button, they have been sitting in my studio waiting.

Rosanne created this necklace earlier this fall using one of my bird pendents. You'll notice the seed beads on the right. She named this piece Indian Summer, for those brief days in the fall when the weather turns warm again. This was her first asymmetrical design, I'm so proud.
Last night my mom sent me this photo of a bracelet she just made using the same seed beads. They look like colorful kernels of corn, don't they? The bracelet is called Harvest Moon. In case you are wondering those beads have been crocheted together, each one interlocked into a chain. I love it! I joked that I should make earrings and we'd have a complete set.

So when I came into the studio today I spent a few minutes whipping up these earrings using the same beads. I'll call these ones Seeds of Change. I paired mine with gunmetal findings, chain and my teal Branch disk beads.
After I finished it was fun to think of how this strand of beads connected my family across the country - in Michigan, Louisiana and Texas. You know what they say, "The family that crafts together, stays together." Well, okay maybe I'm the only one who says that!

October 29, 2008

Do Graphic Designers Do it Better?

I'm gearing up for the holiday season over here. Slowly rolling out my Christmas items on etsy. I have my holiday banner from last year that I will use again. I hired a designer to make a custom background for my blog. It was a small extravagance at $15. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted and knew that it would take me more hours than I had to figure it out, so it was money well spent. I will have it on my blog on Saturday. I'll wait until Halloween is over at least!
Is it worth it to hire a designer for your shop banner, blog, online ads?

I consider myself pretty good at photoshop. I create my own ads, I put together the Bead Cruise program each year, which is a mini-magazine, I do all my own photos, web design, etc. I also took a basic computer graphic design class in college. But that was back when we chiseled things out on stones. Even still, I think designers speak a different language, the secret language of fonts. They understand the power of branding. They know what catches the eye.

I keep thinking I want something that is a little more professional. It's hard for me to give up control and let someone else create a banner for my shop, blog or website. But I have a sneaky feeling that a designer could do a much better job than me.

And it's not that pricey. You can have banners done from $12-25 depending on what you are looking for. You can have a shop package created with a banner and avatar created just for you. You can have your whole blog template redone for $30-45. Or you can have online ads created if you are ready to buy ad space on blogs. Some designers do custom work, others have designs already created and add in your shop name/photos.

Here are some I've been looking at this week:

Aqua Poppy Designs - this is the designer who is working on my new background. She has free backgrounds you can use on your blog. No Easy Beads added one to her blog yesterday.

My Creative Paper - they offer some great deals on everything you could possible want designed for your business.
Jaime Beitler - I love her designs, these are all ready-made banners. Lorelei is using her cute little owl banner and graphics. It fits her to a T!

Thompson Designs - Both ready made and custom designs. I think this is my favorite one.

October 28, 2008

Bad Medieval Movies Inspire Beads!

Here is a custom order I did this weekend of a hawk pendant. I made a few extras and added them to my shop and called them LadyHawke. Jess keeps pestering me to buy the movie LadyHawke on DVD, ha, not. This is one of those movies you thought was great when you were a kid but then you watch as an adult and think, what the heck was wrong with me? But I thought Jess would laugh to see my bead named LadyHawke and hey I do what I can to entertain.

But that's okay, Jess can have his cheesy LadyHawke. I offer up for the jury my own terrible taste in Medieval movies, Robin of Sherwood. It was a series on Showtime back in the day. I loved it. LOVED it when I was a teenager. We rented it on netflix last year and I was like, what the hey Heather. That had to be the sappiest, corn dog show on TV. Ah, embarrassing blog confessions, aren't they fun! For your viewing pleasure:

...Robin, of the hood...okay back to the bead table for me.

October 27, 2008

Funny Caption Contest #3

(Insert Funny Caption Here)
Round 3
I think we'll go with this Hedgie photo, I could imagine a few choice words between the parties involved. Leave your caption in the comments below. On Saturday I will randomly pick one entry to win a free Hedgie bead!

October 26, 2008

Handmade Sunday

I bought my first Christmas present of year last week! This tiny Scottie from BlossomHill is for my youngest daughter. She is going to love him! I did a ton of shopping on etsy last year and plan to do some more damage to my paypal account this year. But I think this little scottie will get lonely, so I'll need to try my hand at this project:

Softy Scottie Dog Tutorial from All Sorts. Here is a Flickr pool for those who have tried the pattern, it's amazing how much it changes from using different fabric and trim. I need to find some dark gray felt to make a little family of scotties.

Enjoy your Sunday. I hope it's filled with family, laughs and little creating! I have two Halloween customs to finish sewing. Wish me luck!

October 25, 2008

Funny Caption Winner

Karin was randomly drawn from this week's entries. You guys had me rolling all week. I am definitely going to have to take another photo and do round #3 on Monday.

Notice anything different? OMGosh, for the love of templates. I have been having fits with this one today. It will only let the little sidebar widgets and images go to 125 pixels. Headache city, I can not figure out how to adjust the template to get those sidebars wider. If you can help me, I will send you humble goodies. It's Motrin time.

I'm considering paying for a holiday themed blog template. The search is on... I want something snazzy and all designer-ish, like the fancy blogs.

Holiday items are coming soon! It's the last week of October. That's almost enough to make me say a swear word.

October 23, 2008

Lily and Lanterns

I shared this painting in July and finally stole away some time to make beads inspired by the colors and designs of the lilies and lanterns. The painting is John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Oh how I love art history!

Here I did a field of lilies with the lanterns under a layer of transparent clay.

Little lantern beads on a dusky blue background. Again the lanterns are under transparent clay for a dreamy, subdued effect. I think these ones are my favorite. In fact, I liked it so much I created this necklace:

October Moon
Lantern Bead, gunmetal tassel and chain, coin pearls in copper and silvery/blue. All the gunmetal findings are from Rings & Things.

And of course, I whipped up a set of disk beads to round out the collection. You can never have too many disk beads! The lily bead is one that I created a while ago and has been hanging out in my shop. I have these beads listed on etsy in the quantities that I have available.
Match these beads up with:
Gunmetal, antiqued copper, dark wood, muscovite, iolite, sodalite, pearls in copper and blue.
I really enjoyed making this series and will revisit it later next week, I didn't get through all the canes I had sketched and would like to transition into more purple/blue shades like the painting. So do you have a favorite? Surprised to see a somewhat round bead from me? I always love to hear from you! Happy Creating!

October 22, 2008

3 Day Sale!

Oh my goodness, I have more ideas and beads than I can contain. I thought my Etsy shop was getting a little out of hand, so I marked some items on sale from now until the 25th. Grab them up, some will be back later, others won't. I need to make room for the new work.

The nostalgia of the holidays have inspired me this week. I have my favorites from last year, snowmen pendants and collage ornaments. I also have new ornaments, beads and some very cute little gift bead sets I'm excited about.

Do you give beads as gifts? I do, they are also some of my favorite gifts to receive. My mom gave me a few storage containers one year filled with beads, ah that was a little slice of gifty heaven!

But not to jump too far ahead Block Party Press featured my squirrel on her blog today, she wrote about squirrel-frenzy inspiration!

October 21, 2008

Tulip Lariat

Here is a lariat using these beautiful tulip bead caps, a few Humblebeads disks, pearls and gunmetal chain. For directions visit the Art Bead Scene's $10 Tuesday project. This is the $20 version!
To create it, complete 2 of the flower pendants and attach them to 30" of chain with small jump rings. It's that easy!
Last night I created a flickr group called Humblebeads Gallery for my customers to share their Humblebead creations. Join the group and share your photos that show off my beads! I'm always so impressed with your creativity.

October 20, 2008

You don't say? Part 2

(Insert funny caption here!)

I had such a fun time reading every one's comments last week that I decided to do another round. Leave a funny caption for week's photo in the comments and I will randomly draw one winner on Saturday for a free squirrel bead.

October 19, 2008

Handmade Sunday

With all this holiday activity in the studio, I have started thinking ahead to my own Christmas gift-giving. We are not big Christmas spenders. In fact, my girls would never give me a list of must-have toys or electronic gadgets. We just don't roll that way. My girls love handmade gifts and we all agree gifts that are made with love are the best. (How did I get so lucky!) We also don't do the Santa thing, just a personal choice. We like Santa, but he is a character in movies and books only.

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Did you take the handmade pledge last year?
This year I pledge again to shop handmade for the holidays.

I do have a few exceptions:

1. Art supplies - the gift of creativity is highly valued in our home.

2. Books - you can't give kids enough books, ever.

3. Christmas pajamas - the girls always get holiday pjs on Christmas Eve. (Although this year I'm going to try my hand at making them. I sewed doll pajamas two years ago, so I'm ready to tackle the full size versions.)

Each Sunday from now until Christmas I'll share tutorials that I find, projects that I am working on and my chronicles as Christmas elf while I prepare for the holidays.

First up is this incredibly cute chipmunk who started life as a glove. You can find the pattern here on Etsy. It's from the book, Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful Gloves. Add a little dress, an acorn pendant and skip the stitching on the tail and this is the perfect little gift for a certain squirrel collector on my list.

October 18, 2008

And the winner is...

The winner of this week's funny caption contest is CraftyHope. Please email me your address. I have a little winter bird to send your way.

Thanks to everyone who participated. You guys had me chuckling all week, it was good medicine. If you haven't read all the comments scroll down to the "You Don't Say?" post and read them, funny stuff!

In fact I had such a fun time with this that I'm going to do it again. So come back on Monday for round 2.

October 17, 2008

Oh Nuts!

What squirrel doesn't need a few acorns? I worked these up this afternoon. They are so tiny. I could be on a roll here. I'm feeling some mini Christmas ornament earrings in the works. I think my nieces would love them.

A whole pile of acorns, even better!

A little hedgehog bracelet. Love the clasp!

Right now, I want to dream of fall, it's actually chilly here tonight.

My Autumn Wish List:

Buy a burnt orange cardigan

Sew a fall-inspired table runner

Cook an acorn squash - bought one this week

Go to a pumpkin patch

Shop at a market day or craft show

Visit Lost Maples to see the leaves changing colors

What fall activity or tradition do you look forward to each year?

October 15, 2008

An Unexpected Visitor

Why hello there muse. Yes, yes, please come in. Oh, well I'm working on a few projects, but I'm ever too busy for you. Sit please. Would you like some tea?

Hedgehogs you say? Really, I never thought of them before. They are a lot like the birds. I could try it. (Thanks to Penguintrax on twitter for the little whisper.)

Okay, there is a hedgehog. Oh my, that's some serious cuteness. Hmm, if I'm branching off into woodland creatures I better give my favorite furry animal a try.

Jess saw these little ones and in his best Motley Crew impression he began to sing, "Squirrels, squirrels, squirrels...short hair, bushy tails, squirrels, squirrels, squirrels."

And thanks to some inspiration from a customer, a little purple martin has come to rest in the humblebeads studio.
Okay guys, to the etsy shop with you...

I didn't wake up expecting to add woodland creatures to my collection of beads, but when the muse comes to visit you never know what will appear on the bead table.

October 14, 2008

You don't say?

(insert funny caption here.)

I just wasn't witty enough to come up with a funny caption for this image, but there seems to be a story here. Leave a caption for this photo in the comments. I'll draw one random winner on Saturday for a free Winter Dove Bead. Yep, they are new.

The little house sculpture is about 3" tall, I wish I could remember the artist's name. We picked it up at an art fair a few years ago.

October 13, 2008

Craft Business Resources

I was looking up some information for a friend and thought I'd share a few resources with those who have Etsy shops & other creative businesses.

1. Did you know you can download your Etsy sales and billing information into a spreadsheet? I did not know Etsy provided this service, how handy! Check out the how-to article here.

2. Need a spreedsheet for your inventory, sales & expenses? Etsy has a free one you can download: Etsy Seller Inventory Worksheet. There are several to take a look at on the page and see if one works for you.

3. Free online and local advice/mentoring is available through SCORE for small businesses. They have tons of resources on their site too. If you have a local chapter in your area they also offer inexpensive workshops. Check out their website!

4. The friendly folks at Modish have awesome online marketing articles. Want to know how to crack the online marketing code, get featured in the top indie blogs or how to find your niche? Go read the Modish Marketing Column, you can subscribe and have them sent directly to your inbox.

The bead show was fun. I picked up some brass/copper/gunmetal findings, just some basics for a great price! I spent Sunday morning finishing up new holiday beads. After the show I sat down and created the samples for my new holiday line. I have new ornaments - birds and retro snowflakes. I made some dove beads and a few new bird necklaces. I also pulled out my holiday inventory because I think it's time to start listing these bad boys again. Now, if you'll excuse me Bing Cosby and I have a date in the studio.

October 11, 2008

Beady Weekend

Today was a very busy day, I had a nice stack of orders to ship out. Thanks to my bead-packing man, they were shipped with very little oversight from me. I like that. I taught him how to print my invoices & labels and he can wrap a mean little package, complete with ribbon. My hero!

5 new projects have been sent out. A few more cropped up on the bead table. I took a quick trip to Hobby Lobby for some essentials. Ha! When do you go into a craft store and only get essentials? We are planning a $10 Tuesday feature for the Art Bead Scene and they had quite a few interesting findings for 50% off. So, those were essential, right?

Tomorrow I'm going to the bead show with my dear friend. We'll spend time chatting and scheming creative plans. I like scheming! Maw-ha-ha-ha. (That's my evil craft laughter. You know, because the laugh is just about standards.)

October 9, 2008

You're Invited!

Join me in 2 hours for the Bead Art Originals Trunk Show!

Along with an amazing group of jewelry designers there will be 7 bead artists participating in tonight's show.

We are giving away 8 door prizes, one every 15-20 minutes. You must be present to win. Along with the door prizes there are sales and specials that will be announced during the trunk show. You have to attend to find out what they are. I have a pretty amazing special for tonight!

The party starts at 7pm Eastern Standard Time. (That's 6pm for you Texans!)

Where is this party? In the Etsy virtual labs, here is the direct link.

What is a virtual trunk show exactly? It's really just a fancy chat room. Along with visiting with the artists, the moderator has a presentation prepared sharing our work and a little about our team members. Fun, inspiration, deals and a chance to win free stuff - you are going to be there, right?

Never been in the labs or a chat room on Etsy? Not to worry, here is an article that covers the basics. See you there!

October 8, 2008


I'm not real big on Halloween, I'm more of a harvest girl myself. Maybe it was looking through my old fall issues of Home Companion and Martha Stewart that did it. I worked up some cute little Halloween inspired jewelry.

An ode to Edgar Allen Poe.

Pumpkin Earrings

Little Hoot Pendant

Harvest Stripe Earrings
I think I've been listening to NPR too much today. Seems like the world is falling apart. Makes me thankful for what I have and reminds me that in feast or famine there is joy in it all.
How has the economy effected your business? Are you planning a wider range of price points? Making smaller items? Purchasing your materials at wholesale for a bigger discount? Creating larger, more expensive pieces to appeal to those outside of middle America?
Chin up creatives, we have the greatest power in the world, know-how. We can create something from nothing and relish in a make-do way using what we have. And isn't that just amazing? Celebrate it!
Well, let's take our minds off it all tomorrow and meet for the Bead Art Originals trunk show.

October 7, 2008

Harvest Napkin Ring Project

I was inspired by the great napkin ring project from Jennifer's blog last week. Do check out her project and beads. She's awesome! These would make a wonderful hostess gift or for a Thanksgiving celebration. You could change the color combination to fit your decor or season.

Harvest Napkin Rings


4 copper disks from Humblebeads

4 silver 5mm flat spacers

4 copper 14mm coin pearls

Nickel seed beads

Bronze bugle beads

4 gunmetal headpins

4 gunmetal headpins with balls

10" green wire mesh ribbon

Bracelet memory wire


1. Cut 1 loop of memory wire, cut at 1/4" after the loop overlaps.

2. Use round nose pliers to create a loop on one end. Use flat nose pliers to close the loop completely.

3. Randomly string bugle beads and nickel seed beads to cover the memory wire, leaving a 1/4" at the end. Use the round nose pliers to create another loop to close the wire.

4. String the flat spacer and disk bead on the ball headpin. Trim wire to 1/4" and create a loop with the round nose pliers. Attach to one of the memory wire loops.

5. String a nickel seed bead and pearl on a headpin. Trim the wire and create a loop, attach to the other memory wire loop.

6. Cut 2 1/2" of wire mesh ribbon, tie around the headpin loop of the disk bead. Twist the ends of the wire mesh to form a point. Pull the middle of the ribbon to open in the shape of a leaf.

Repeat to create 3 more napkin rings.

They look like a little pumpkin patch don't they? They almost make me want to go buy a set of cloth napkins. (I just happen to have one that I used as a back drop for something!) Ah, I will probably give this set as a hostess gift, I don't throw many fancy soirees.

October 6, 2008

ETC First Monday Sale!

Who doesn't love a good sale? Well, how about 70 of them?

The Etsy Texas Crafters street team is having their monthly promotion today. You can view all the sale details here. In my shop, I'm extending the free shipping discount and for orders over $30 I have a free gift for you!

I had a wonderful weekend. I actually took the day off yesterday. My schedule has helped me keep on top of the orders. I could shed a tear over how happy this makes me! Yesterday I did some cleaning, rearranging my yarn drawer and made a skirt. Yep, I sew. It was for my youngest, I appliqued a little squirrel on it. I'll take a photo when she comes home from school. Oh and I did some fall decorating. Trading out the seashells for squirrels, acorns, leaves and pumpkins. Now if only it would get cold around here. I keep looking at my scarves, wishing for a chill in the air!

On the bead table today: owl & raven necklaces, pumpkin and leaf inspired earrings, Thanksgiving napkin rings...and some tiny little teal birds for earrings. Yep, cuteness abounds today!

Have you started decorating for fall or any crafty seasonal projects? I'd love to hear about them!

October 4, 2008

Free Stuff!!!

Here is a round-up of contests, drawings and free stuff you might enjoy:
First, the upcoming Bead Art Originals trunk show that I told you about earlier this week, sign up for the newsletter for a chance to win earrings or a pendant from some of our members.

The newsletter will have upcoming events, news, specials and articles from our members, should be a good one!

Next up is the Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge with beads from Gabriel and Elaine Ray as the prizes. The theme this month is a Dark and Stormy Night. Here are the contest details.

And it's Saturday, so there is always a free bead giveaway for Studio Saturday on the ABS.

Free inspiration: my buddy Jennifer from Jangles has an awesome newsletter with 10 weeks of free holiday projects. Visit her website to sign up for the newsletter. You have to scroll to the bottom on the front page.

And one more from me for good measure! Free shipping this weekend in my etsy shop. No need to do anything, the listings are already adjusted.

October 3, 2008

October 2, 2008

It's a Miracle!

Yesterday a miracle occurred on Mistletoe Ave. and no it's wasn't a Christmas miracle. I am completely caught up on all orders. Every order! I can't remember the last time I was ahead of the game. Jess had 2 days off, so I put that guy to work. Whips were cracking, well okay, just me whining. But it worked.

So, you know what that means? New beads!!!

I put the new Branch beads up today. The Klimt beads are on my table awaiting their photo shoot. Oh, it's a good day in the Humblebeads Studio.
Are you a scheduler or do you work according to your muse? I'd love to hear some of your time management tips or leave me a comment if you've read a good article or website on juggling it all! I was a "put out the fire" kind of girl, working on the most urgent items as they were needed. But last week I came up with a schedule to keep on track and work a little smarter. Seems to be working! Now if I just clone myself...