May 31, 2012

Bead & Button Prep

There is a feverish countdown here in the Humblebeads Studio as we prep for Bead & Button.  I'm trying so hard to get everything ready before Monday.  I may be in denial.  We have trays and trays of beads that look like this, waiting to be painted.  I have two helpers, my mom and aunt Rosanne coming over for a bead painting slumber party.  I better stock up on some chocolate! 

Besides all this painting I am still making disk beads.  They are always a favorite and ones that I have to do most of the work myself.  So that's what I'm doing for the next three days. 

My brother is a steel fabricator and he is making me a few custom designed displays for my booth.  He is bringing them on Saturday.  I'm working on a super sweet background with some of my sketches and beads fitting in with the theme of my book.  Can't wait to show you!

This is my checklist for next week and why I want to be done with making beads already!

1. Booth backdrop
2. Paint all displays white
3. Find banners
4. Put new silk fabric on old jewelry displays
5. Gather my demo materials for Saturday (Book signing and demo at the Kalmbach booth at 3pm on Saturday)
6. Gather Bead Cruise samples and cards
7. Tie up disk beads & headpins
8. Finish toggle bars for clasps
9. Gather biz and packaging stuff for booth
10. Stamp cards and wrap silk ribbons


I'll feel better on Sunday, when I have my disks done!  Of course, there are still orders going on during this busy time.  Not everyone is going to Bead & Button so we are taking care of you guys and keeping you inspired and stocked with beads arriving in your mailbox.

I thought you'd enjoy seeing one of these house beads in action.  This is an awesome bracelet from Lorelei Eurto, that girl is way too talented!  I will have a project out this summer in a magazine with the little nest house.  I will share more when the time comes. 

So that is the news around these parts.  Are you heading to Bead & Button next week?  I can't wait to sit and chat with beady folks and see everything at the show!

May 24, 2012

Colorful Pendants

I've been working on new beads for Bead & Button. I shared a few posts ago about my inspiration of wood block stamps from India and spice markets.  Here are some of the paisleys that I designed.

I had pressed out a ton of these pendants last week and they were sitting there staring at me - questioning with possibilities.  Milky white clay beckoned, what colors?  So I went back to the source of my inspiration and picked my palettes from there.

My first group summoned the soft muted shades of this market photo featuring all sorts of flowers, pods and petals in lavender, lilacs, golden yellow, sage and  that lovely muted copper color.  I created a lotus pendant, some graphic flowers - I don't know what they are, I saw a print with the design and did my own version and then the paisleys.

Photo Credit: Jenn Garcia of the Purple Passport.

My second grouping picked up the spicy warm shades of red, purple, orange and ochre. If I had to pick just one palette, it would be this one.

Photo credit: unattributed on Pinterest

My third color set comes from the colors of the colorful powders sold in Indian markets.  I pulled out the pink, purple, teal, kelly green.

Photo credit: Shrimaitreya

Do you have a favorite?  I'm going to put a few of these in my Etsy shop and I will make more to take to the show too because I love these for summer designs!  Hmm, maybe I'll make some jewelry with them this weekend. 

May 23, 2012

Etsy Success - 4000 Sales!

I took a little break from Etsy last week as we stock piled beads.  In the midst of handing a little family crisis, I didn't realize the milestone that had passed.  My 4000th sale.

So how does one get 4000 sales on Etsy?

1. Create a unique product. Not easy, I know - but trust your gut, do some research and find what makes your muse sing and dance.  That is where your success lies.

2. Create new products often, expanding your line.  I try to offer new beads every month. 

3. Offer a variety of price points.

4. Advertise outside of Etsy. For me that includes blogging, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, getting published in magazines and keeping up with an email mailing list/newsletter.

5. Connect with people on Etsy - friends, teams and circles are good.

6. Take the very best photos you can.  (This is actually the best selling tip and should be the second thing you do, first thing is #1.)

7. It's easier to sell the same thing over and over - production can be your friend if you can handle the mundane task of making the same thing 200 times.  Of course, it beats the mundane task of asking "Do you want fries with that?"  "Paper or plastic" or "Do I email the report or fax it to you?"

8. Create a series and up sell.  I create beads that go together: accents with focals, earring beads that go with pendants, etc.  I arrange my shop to inspire shopping for more than one item.

9. Get help.  I have a full time helper, my husband.  I couldn't handle my Etsy shop by myself.  Teenagers, collage kids, a lonely neighbor can all make great part-time help. Think through your process, what parts can someone else do that would free up your time? My husband drills beads, paints, sands, prints things out and packages orders.

10. School yourself - Etsy actually gives you all the tools and tips you need to succeed.  So spend some time each week learning the ins and outs of making your shop the best it can be. Check out the Etsy Seller Handbook.

Thank you to everyone who supports me.  I couldn't do this without you!  

Along with Etsy, I have my own website and suggest the same for anyone serious about their business.  Etsy is a tool, a platform and one egg in a large basket.

May 22, 2012

20,000 Leagues Collection

I was so excited to spot my 20,000 Leagues Urchin Toggle in the Vintaj's Mixed Metals book earlier this year.  If you haven't picked up this booklet I highly recommend it.  It's filled with innovative ways to combine Vintaj components, altered art techniques and jewelry designs with lots of art beads sprinkled throughout projects.  The Vintaj team is so stinking creative, I don't know how they constantly come up with new brilliant designs, but they amaze me every time.

I love this bracelet by Jessica Klaaren from Beadful Things Jewelry using one of my 20,000 Leagues Urchin Connectors.

The days are getting warmer and June is getting closer - are you feeling summer yet? 

May 21, 2012

A Curious Collection - Alice in Wonderland Beads

Here is a little inspiration for the Curious Design Challenge and blog hop that Genea and Staci Louise are hosting.  Unfortunately the hop is the week of Bead & Button so I can't play along - oh I love Alice!

But for those who are playing along here are some picks from my website that fit the theme:

This is a necklace I created using one of Jesse's pendants, a Green Girl Studio snail, and one of my mushroom beads and teal spacers.

Sign up for the blog hop is closed, but Alice is always trendy, her tale timeless - so jump in and create something just for fun. 

May 19, 2012

Bead End Cap Blog Hop

Remember when I said I was sad that I had missed so many great blog hops lately, well I took care of that and this is blog hop #3 that I've had the pleasure of joining.  Kristi Bowman offered her bead end caps and blog hop space to the first 10 people that purchased them.  Me and my little Paypal account immediately went for a stroll in her lovely Etsy shop.

Each of us had a set of copper bead end caps to play with and that was the only requirement.  I can't wait to see what everyone creates.

When the bead caps arrived the first thought I had was sea shells.  So when it was time to sit down and create something with them I pulled out a few sea-inspired creations.  
 Here is a close up of the bead cap - I love the color, the patina is so beautiful. 

I paired the bead caps with Elaine Ray ceramic beads, a disk bead and urchin from my shop, and a lampwork work bead from Kerry Bogert that I picked up on the Bead Cruise.

As I was rummaging through my clasp stash (which is getting a little woeful - mental note for Bead & Bead) I ran across this enamel toggle that I made last fall.  Perfect!

To round out the necklace I picked some copper beads that echoed that pattern of the bead caps and I had a wonderful strand of large copper pearls that were almost the same color of the bead caps.  Serendipity! 

Visit Kristi's blog to see the rest of the participants in the blog hop and to find out about a sweet sale she is having this weekend.  And speaking of sweet sales, you can save 25% off orders from my website - today is the last day! Use discount code BIGDEAL when you check out. 

Be sure to click the link to Kristi's blog and discover 10 inspiring ways to use end caps today!

May 18, 2012

My Creative Process

Ideas come and go - fleeting and ethereal or sometimes they weigh on me like an elephant until I work them into existence.

I do have an actual creative process that I go through on a regular basis. Inspiration, germination, sketches, color palette and finally creation.

Unusually it starts with the inspiration and sketches.  Pinterest is my latest source of inspiration, but I love Flickr, my collection of Art History books and sometimes it's things in my daily life, like flowers in a garden or a starfish picked up during a vacation. 

Right now my current inspirations are wooden stamps from India, bohemian flair and middle-eastern inspired patterns. Can't wait to see what I whip up next week!

After I've gone through the process of searching for inspiration, there is a time when I let ideas roll around. The seeds germinate. Sometimes this can take weeks, other times it's a matter of hours before I'm seeing beads take form in my head.  So that leads to the next step, which is sketching.  Yes, most of my beads start out as a sketch.

Here are some pendant designs that are in the oven at this very moment!

Now, depending on what kind of beads I'm going to make, my process goes into one of two directions but are both led by color.  If I'm going to carve a design, I'll think about color palettes for the finished piece and mix my paints for the new color palette. And if I'm creating canes for beads (the designs in clay that get layered onto beads) I will create a color palette with the clay.  

Like this one that I used for the May Bead of the Month Disk Beads:

I love Brandi Hussey's color palettes that she makes for the Art Bead Scene.  I print them out and mix my colors right up. This is my favorite part of the process - working my color theory magic until I have a match! Check out the Art Bead Scene today too see the amazing color palette's Brandi created using my beads.

The finished beads.

So that's a little peek behind the curtain here at Humblebeads.

If you'd like to see more of my finished work, check out my newly updated website!  I just added over 20 beads to my regular line that were only previously available in my Etsy shop.  And to celebrate all my hard work I'm having a sale - 25% off all orders from my website at  Use discount code: BIGDEAL. 

May 15, 2012

Seeing Red

Are you scared of red?  I tend to shy away from this color myself.  I would be hard pressed to find red beads in my stash, other than the few that I have created. 

I think it's because I'm never sure what to do with it. 

There are so many pitfalls with red:

Red + Green = Holiday
Red + Purple = Red Hat Ladies
Red + Black = Vampire
Red + Pink = Valentine

I think the trick to red and I could be wrong, but my thought is it to pair it neutrals - like charcoal gray, smokey quartz, earthy browns (like wood) and creams.  And then throw in several bright colors like these:

(Images from Pinterest - sorry, they weren't attributed.) 

Red + Teal + Yellow + Green
Red + Orange + Red + Purple
Red + Teal + Orange + Purple

I've been looking through images of bohemian styles and Indian cultures and how they pair red with other colors.  Layer on textures and fibers to give red a rich backdrop.  I also like the idea of mixing patterns like floral with geometric designs.  Several necklaces or bracelets paired together offer a bolder statement that are so in for this summer.  Chain and silk in varying lengths are an easy way to add layers with several larger pendants.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for playing around with bolder colors.  I know I'm looking forward to creating jewelry inspired by summer's trendier styles.

 Poppies and other red beads can found in my Etsy shop.

May 14, 2012

Swept Away

Inspired by the print on the dress in the painting 'Boreas' by John William Waterhouse. I was drawn to the design on the dress in this artwork and found myself sketching it several times while I let this inspiration sink into my heart. I wanted to create a pendant that captured the wind-blown and carefree spirit of the painting.

Some painting just make me sigh.  They pick at things deep in my brain and whisper things to my heart.  Once upon a time I would conjure up words like aesthetic experiences and the sublime - art touches my soul in such a spiritual way.  It's never just a pretty picture on a wall or more likely, on my computer screen.  I take in those pieces of artwork, I see the artist's touch, search for their message, find beauty that makes me want more than what the everyday and ordinary present us.  

I get swept away.  

I hope in some way, my love of artwork translates into my beads and jewelry.  That in some way that euphoria that catches me up in a painting finds its way into inspiring you when you create with my beads.

And just like an artist, I love creating in collections and exploring a series and theme to round out my body of work. I felt like purple would be a great variation of this pendant and I have a traditional red poppy that is waiting a little more paint.  I was also considering doing a peach color.  I don't know why but navy blue, dusty purple and peach/melon always appeal to me. Throw in rustic wood beads or smoky quartz faceted beads, some chain and sari ribbon and I'm feeling like my inner boho chic is ready to go.

If these speak to you, you can find them in my Etsy shop.

May 13, 2012

Button Swap Blog Hop

I've missed so many great blog hops this year, I was excited to finally jump on board with Cindy Wimmer's Button Swap Blog Hop.  I was paired up with the very talented Cat Kerr who sent me a lovely collection of enamel buttons and beads.  Be sure to check out Cat's blog and shop to see more of her work.

I wanted to tie this hop into the Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge.

Italian's House at Monmarte by Maurice Utrillo.

I paired the enameled buttons up with some tree connectors created from Vintaj Art Metal blanks and hammered links.

My focal is a blue bird that I created in a nest, wrapped on a Vintaj branch and below sits a house from Elukka.

I double drilled one of my feather pendants to create a connector.  I like that it ties in with the enamel beads and the bird.

The shape of the pointed feather speaks to the shape of the bird and the angles of the house.  The round elements had a nice contrast and offers more geometric elements.

Be sure to stop by Cat's blog and see the amazing things she did with my buttons!

Check out all the blog hop participants and have fun finding new inspiration in all that can be created with buttons!

 Kim Roberts and Partner unable to participate at this time.
Pam Ferarri and Stefanie Teufel (will share their reveal on a later date)
Stefanie Teufel and Pam Ferarri (will share their reveal on a later date)

May 11, 2012

Trunk Shows

Last month, Rosanne and I headed east to visit Stony Creek Beads for a trunk show and book signing. This gem of a bead store is located in Ypsilanti, just south of Ann Arbor.  Rosanne and I knew were where in trouble the moment we walked in the door.  The owner, Jennifer Schwartzenberger, has amassed a treasure trove of Czech glass, seed beads, stones, crystals and oh so much more!  Stony Creek Beads is also one of the most 'art beady' stores I've ever visited.  She had lampwork, polymer clay, pewter and ceramics on display from various local and national artists. 

If you are on the east side of Michigan or anywhere within driving distance, Stony Creek is worth a visit!

Jennifer and her mom, Susan Schwartzenberger. 

And yes, I have a feeling they have enabled many a bead addict!  The best thing about Stony Creek Beads is that you immediately feel welcomed when you walk in the door.  There wasn't a customer who came in that day who wasn't asked, "What can I help you find?" I loved that!  And their regular customers who came to visit that day were treated like family. 

It was a fun to meet some online friends in person, like Marla James of Marla's Mud - who brought me the cutest ceramic owl pendant and Lisa Lodge from Pine Ridge Treasures.
Another fun thing was to see was Stony Creek customers arrive wearing jewelry they had made using my beads.  The bead store purchased beads before the trunk show to introduce me to their customers.  They arrived wearing the sweetest creations.   I'm so sorry, I don't remember names.  I'm terrible at that - so if you know who is in the photos please let me know! 

This lovely lady created the Birch Forest Bracelet from my book!

My Van Gogh goes were very popular and had made their way into several bracelets!

My friend Susan Kolovson stopped in sporting her Humblebeads! Susan has joined me for several Bead Cruises and my Inspired by Nature Retreat.  I'm always so happy to see her!  Another Bead Cruise buddy, Liz Thompson, spent the day with us too visiting with us during lunch.

Rosanne and I had a great time. At the end of the day all of my books were sold, the bead trays were much lighter and we had bags of new beads after shopping too! Pure joy!

Trunk shows and book signings are by far my favorite kind of events.  I love meeting new people, the bead stores are always fun to visit and I'm appreciative of the owners efforts to promote my work.  I always make new things just for trunk shows, so customers get to see exclusives before I offer them online.  I love meeting people and talking about jewelry design, beads and inspiration!

I hope to get a few more trunk shows scheduled soon - my traveling shoes are itching to go!

May 9, 2012

Bead Table Wednesday

I haven't done a BTW in so long - so here is what's on my table today, a pile of urchin beads waiting to be finished.  These are for wholesale orders - and then I will start to work on a new pile of them for Bead & Button.

And here I have a few saved out for me, I'm looking forward to pairing them with some of the beads I picked up this weekend.  The wood reminds me of driftwood - a little flotsam and jetsam.

And while I sand those beads today I'm counting my blessings:
  1. New beads in the works for B & B, I'll be in booth 1212 again.
  2. Bead Cruise registration is filling up nicely, my classes are quite popular!
  3. Lima Beads loves me! Lots of new things coming their way.
  4. I have an article on the Soft Flex site that I wrote about bead retreats.
  5. We are 1 follower away from 2600 on the Art Bead Scene.
  6. I'm 25 sales away from 4000 in my Etsy shop.  (sincere gratitude!)
  7. I will be signing my book Jewelry Designs from Nature, at the Craft & Hobby Association's summer conference in Chicago.

So what's on your bead table?
Check out the BTW flickr group.

May 6, 2012

Rings & Things Trunk Show

The Rings & Things Trunk Show came to Grand Rapids yesterday and I had been eagerly awaiting for them to roll into town!  I had my little list of must-haves: spacers, tiny faceted beads, wood and chain.  Mission accomplished!  Of course, I found a few surprises: resin strands in pretty muted shades, some lovely kynanite and bronzite faceted beads - yumm!  I had hoped to pick up tiny gemstones, but they were not in my price range at the moment.  My hunt was mostly for things for summer jewelry - more bangles, necklaces with wood and urchins and other beachy inspired things. 

I need a clone, because I would love to have a line of jewelry to sell to some of these beachy tourist towns dotting the Lake Michigan coast.  I had hoped to do the Artist Market here in town, but found out I missed the deadline.  Yep, definitely need the clone!

I didn't have to shop alone this weekend.  My sweet auntie Rosanne and my friend Heather (you may know her as the Peacock Fairy) drove to GR to spend the day with me.  They have no idea how much I needed some time to play and create! 

I showed them how I make my seed bead bangles and we enjoyed playing with beads and visiting all afternoon.

Rosanne was so productive - until Words with Friends called her name!

Here are the three bangles Rosanne made.

And the ones I whipped up yesterday.  This set features one of my Dandelion beads, a nice chunky raku bead from MAKU and an owl from PatinaWorx.

Here are a few bangles I made last weekend while hanging out with my sister.  We took a long drive to Muskegon and I made some of them in the car.  Then we watched Grimm all night while I worked on a few more piles. 

She kept slipping them on, I wasn't sure they were going to come off - but eventually she gave them back.  With the promise that I would make her set.  Nothing like having a jewelry-maker for a sister!