March 30, 2015

7 Tips to Manage a Creative Business and Still Have a Life!

It is a challenge running a business and trying to have a life. Even though you love creating jewelry and are addicted to beads you must do a few things to keep in this for the long haul. 

1. Set a schedule but allow for creative diversions. 

If this is your 9-5, make it a 9-5 and have hours you don't work. If you sneak your bead time in after everyone has gone to bed and you've already worked a full day at your JOB, be realistic about what you can accomplish.

Have a plan for your creative time, but allow time for your muse to play if that's what you need to keep going!

2. Schedule "me" time and art dates.

No, that isn't time hunched over your phone scrolling through Pinterest. You need time in nature, you need time to move, you need time to fill the well. 

What well? Your creative fount from whence forth all your amazing ideas spring. Go to galleries, museums, gardens, sacred spaces. Drink in and fill up. 

3. Sleep. 

For real. You need more sleep. I don't know a woman who thinks she gets enough sleep, do you? 

Try out a set bedtime routine, work with your natural body rhythms. Do less if it means you get an extra hour of sleep. You will get more done if you are rested and it's scientifically proven you will be more creative if you've had your zzz's! 

And let's just give a nod to all facets of self-care here; eating better and managing stress, move every hour, stretch. You know what to do. Your health first, okay? 

4. Prioritize.

At the end of each work day make a "6 Most Important Things" list for the next day. 

This is just like it says, the first 6 things you need to get done the following day. Attack that list before you do anything else. 

Notice it's not the "99 Most Important Things" List. Focus on breaking tasks down into bite size chunks instead of having a never ending to-do list. Plus it's super fun to scratch things off your "6 Most Important Things" list.

If you are a list girl, make a list for each big project you have going on and add those tasks to your 6 list each day.

5. Set Goals.

Plot your course and steer your ship toward your dreams. Don't just let the storms of life toss you about.

Pick a tangible goal that is within your reach but stretches yourself. 

Have a deadline for your goal.

Create smaller steps to achieve it. 

6. Delegate something already. 

No one can do it all. It might be time to hire a house cleaner, an accountant, a web designer, a photographer or a babysitter.  You know where you feel like you are drowning!

Get a virtual assistant to help with online tasks. Get your family to take over making dinner or doing the laundry. 
Barter with someone, exchange jewelry for their skills. Get creative if money is short.

What tasks suck up your time, what tasks can someone do better and quicker? What tasks can you delegate so you can focus on work that brings in money for your jewelry business? 

You could do the laundry or you could send out an email to your customers. Which one can someone else do? It's time to start asking for help. 

7. Be mindful with your time online.

Have a marketing calendar - Google one to print and fill out.

Spend more time making connections and less time consuming media.

Read or listen to one thing everyday to improve your business. 

Schedule and spread out your posts on your blog and social media. 

Set a timer if you tend to get lost when you go online.

So that's my words of wisdom for today. And they may just be reminders for myself! 

How do you juggle it all? What tricks have you learned to keep a balance between life and work? Any of these tips speak to you? I'd love to hear from you! 

March 29, 2015

Spring Beadmaking Workshop

I'm hosting a beadmaking workshop in my hometown of South Haven, MI on May 16th and you are invited! 

This year is all about making an impression with polymer clay and learning to carve designs to make molds and beads! If you want to learn to make these beads, it's time for a road trip and a visit in my charming little lakeside town! 

This class will cover:

  • Learn to carve sgraffito style designs (those black and white beads shown above)
  • Discover how to carve your own stamps.
  • Play with color to create faux glazes.
  • Learn several accent bead techniques.
  • Discover how to transfer images to the clay and where to find copyright-free patterns and images to use.
  • Templates will be provided to create the beads shown.
  • No drawing skills are required. 
  • All skill levels welcomed - no previous polymer clay experience is needed.
You'll leave the class with a pile of finished beads to use in your jewelry creations!

This will be my 4th annual spring beadmaking workshop. 

Lunch and all supplies are included. 

South Haven is a 2 hour drive from Chicago and about 3 hours from Detroit. It's a quaint tourist town with white sandy beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are several hotels near the workshop location that are very affordable or you can splurge and stay at one of the many Bed & Breakfasts in town. 

Visit my website for complete details and to save your spot today. 

March 27, 2015

Tassel Bird Pendant Tutorial

I have been obsessing over tassels lately - from cute and trendy to elegant and flapper-inspired. Tassels have been showing up in jewelry designs forever but they have been enjoying a resurgence and have been shown in quite a few jewelry designs on runways recently. So after looking over some Pinterest inspirations I decided to give it a try and share how you can whip these fun little tassels up for your jewelry.
You'll need:
6 strands of 18" of embroidery floss
1 strand of 12" of embroidery floss
1 1/2" by 1" piece of cardboard
Sharp scissors
15mm jumpring 

1. Start with the floss at the bottom of the cardboard, wrap around until you reach the end of the floss. Trim the floss if it doesn't end at the bottom so that both the start and end of the floss are at the bottom of the cardboard. 

2. Hold on to the bottom of the tassel, insert the jumpring at the top of the loops, making sure it goes through the all the threads. Close the jump ring. 
3. Remove floss from cardboard.
4. With small piece of floss, wrap several times around the top of the tassel, under the jumpring. Tie very tight, wrap around one more time and tie again in a double knot. Trim ends of tied floss. 
5. Cut the loops at the bottom of the tassel, trim the ends so the tassel is even at the bottom. Really sharp scissors are key at this step! 
The pendant is created using 8" of 20 gauge wire. I wire wrapped a loop, added the round bead, faceted bronze spacer, disk bead, 5mm flat spacer, bird bead and created a wrapped loop on top. I added a faceted bead on a 7mm jumpring at the bottom of the bird loop. I attached two 12" lengths of copper chain with a 7mm jumpring to the top of the pendant. The clasp was attached with a 7mm jumpring. 
I thought this was a fun project to showcase my new Bird Spring Mix sets that have the Wedgwood inspired beads since they are so colorful and would look great with a tassel design.
Customize it:
You could make a tassel of leather, waxed linen, chain and even gemstones.
Use colors to match your beads or use one color.
Add in metallic embroidery floss for a little sparkle or use only metallic floss for a metal look.
Wrap the top in a contrasting color for a pop.
Bird sets can be found in my Etsy shop.
25 tassel inspirations - including a few more tutorials. 
Jumprings: Vintaj

March 25, 2015

Bead Therapy: Mindfulness Practices

2015 has been non-stop with events and amazing opportunities. I've been traveling, teaching, finished one book and will soon to start on my third book! My life is a stack of deadlines and to-do lists.

Some days my head feels like it's going to pop. I love being busy, traveling and teaching. And I am ever so thankful for such an awesome, creative life.

But I have one fatal flaw - when I'm stressed, I like to eat sweets. And not just an innocent cookie - if only! Which has caused all sorts of problems that I fight against daily. I know I'm not alone in this. Oh how comforting a Cadbury egg can be when I am barreling through a crazy day!

I thought I would share a few mindfulness techniques that I've learned over the years to help me combat stress and avoid a binge when I'm stressing. I use my beads and creative process as stress-battling skills!


Practicing mindfulness is just getting really zen and not thinking about anything other than what is in front on you.
  • If a wayward stressful thought tries to make it's way in, acknowledge the thought and refocus on what is in front on you. 
  • Use all your senses and focus on one thing during your mindfulness practice. 
  • Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking and if you are feeling stressed out from too much on your plate, give it try for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Engage the Senses

I may decide to calm down by sorting beads mindfully.

I'm going to look at the beads, touch the beads, notice the noise they make when they clink together. I look carefully at the beads, notice any patterns or imperfections that make a bead interesting. Notice the difference in colors or textures as I sort through them.

Sorting them, I let the world fall away as I focus on the tray or bowl in front of me. The goal isn't to get a lot done during this session, but to enjoy the process.

Working Effectively

There are tasks you do as a jewelry-maker that are repetitive and could lend themselves toward mindfulness.

Maybe it's grabbing a bowl of Czech glass flowers and creating wrapped dangles with fancy ball headpins. Or it might be stringing seed beads onto wire, focus only on the task and let all other thoughts fall aside.

Do these simple tasks with no other distractions, focusing on working quickly and effectively.

One Task

The creative process can be a mindful practice, especially if you are doing it instead of a negative behavior like scarfing down a pan of Nutella brownies. (What?)
  • Create a space without distractions: turn off the TV if it's in the background, put your phone out of reach and turn off the ringer. 
  • Pull out your materials for one project only, gather everything you need. 
  • Listen to calming music while you work. 
  • Don't be critical or judgemental of your process. 
  • If something isn't working, think of it objectively. "How can I improve the balance of this design?" or "What feels off?" instead of thoughts like "This sucks."
  • Set a timer if you need to get back to reality after a certain time. 
  • While you are creating, really take notice of what you are touching, seeing, hearing. 

Be there, don't let your mind wander to stressful thoughts. Again, if one creeps in, acknowledge the thought and let it go. (How? Just say, yep that's reality but right now I'm working on this necklace. Or yep, I'm so angry about that but right now it's just me and these beads.)

Level Up

The next mindfulness idea is to engross your mind in a very challenging project. Focus only on the task at hand working on mastering the new skill. This should be something that needs 100% of your attention.

Stress Buster

If it helps, have a piece of paper next to your work. If you have a thought nagging you, jot a note down about it and tell yourself you will get to it as soon as you are done with this time.

Treat your mindfulness time as sacred, schedule it in and give it a try. Let's those beads be a tool to bring some calm into your day!

So instead of grabbing a Snickers, go grab those beads and de-stress! Give one of these mindfulness exercises a try this week and let me know how it goes.

March 22, 2015

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge

Mother of dragons, winter's coming! I have very few television shows that I must watch and they are totally guilty pleasures. Game of Thrones is definitely in my top 10 of shows I never miss. Not only is it a crazy addicting story, it's quite a visual treat with amazing costumes. So to help pass the time until the April 12th season premiere, I thought it would be fun to put out a Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge. Whether you are fan of the TV show, the books or maybe this is your first time hearing about but - uh, dragons, then join me!

1. Sign up and let me know you are planning to play along.

To join the challenge, sign up here:

1. Create a piece of jewelry inspired by Game of Thrones - it can be a character, a kingdom, a quote, a scene from the show/book, the costumes from the show, etc. The sky is the limit as long as it was in some way inspired by Game of the Thrones.

2. Blog about your creation. You need to have a blog to play along.

Post your challenge piece by April 8th and then head back here on the 9th to enter your link in our challenge link party! (Crowns and direwolves are optional)

Tip: When you post about your jewelry share more about the inspiration of your piece than the technical aspects - ask yourself what would a fan of the show want to know about this piece of jewelry.

Reveal date: April 9th

Inspiration Overload: 

First, you must check out these amazing costume design details here. I had no idea what kind of thought and detail went into the costumes on the show. Don't miss it!

Psst...I'm not sure about the rules of using images from the TV show or book since they are copyrighted, so to be safe I made the graphic above that you can use. If you find out if it's okay to use GOT images on your blog, please let me know.

Pssssssst...I also don't think you can use the name Game of Thrones or character names when you list your jewelry for sale, you may want to check into that.

March 9, 2015

Baltimore Bead Society

If you are are in the Baltimore area you must make plans to join us tomorrow night at the Baltimore Bead Society's monthly meeting. 

I will presenting on easy tips to Promote Your Jewelry Business Online. I will also have beads, jewelry and books available. The meeting starts at 6:30pm. You can find all the details here

Not able to make it? Hop on over to my Creative Biz board for over 300 great small biz articles and tips. Read one a day and imagine where your business could be in a year!

March 4, 2015

Are Artists Time Travelers?

When I think back through the years of my creative life there is one artist that stands far and above all my other inspirations. My beloved Vincent Van Gogh. Like most high school students in art class I was introduced to his Starry Night painting. I was intrigued. 

Many would say Van Gogh is their favorite artist but more than the beauty of his paintings or the tragedy of his story, I would say Van Gogh was the first artist that pulled me through time to that sacred space where artists become more than themselves. 

There was a moment in my life when I knew I was connected to something bigger and that vast idea had a name. I was an artist and Van Gogh was my first kindred spirit. 

Van Gogh's hand stretched through the years with each stroke of the brush as I stood in awe in front of his paintings. I wasn't just a witness to his amazing work, he was part of my story. That kindred spirit inspired me to create during those formative years in art school. 

As my life became filled with beads, young children and a need to make a living, my dreams of painting took a backseat. But my connection to finding inspiration in Van Gogh's paintings soon crept into my mind and hands as I worked his colors and images into polymer clay and interpreted them into beads.

If Van Gogh was my only inspiration for the rest of my beadmaking career I would have more than enough lessons to learn from his paintings. Although many other artists and sources are part of my visual vocabulary I will always return to Van Gogh.

There will never be a moment when I'm not breathless when standing in front of his work. When I need to be reminded of sublime experiences I know a few moments studying his work will transform me to that place where art stirs the soul and lifts me above the busyness of life. 

Who inspires you? What artist makes you feel like a time traveler, transported to another time and place?

(Time traveler, Van Gogh - who are my fellow Whovians?) 

March 3, 2015

Art Bead Scene Challenge Inspiration

Hello beady friends! I wanted to share this month's Art Bead Scene challenge. I've been intrigued by Emily Carr's paintings for years. They capture a spiritual exuberance found in the wildness in Western Canada. They are lonely, yet some how capture a hidden throbbing that you feel in a forest. That connection of being one with everything around you on those quite walks in the woods is shared in her lively brushstrokes. They sway with the music that comes from the wind blowing through the tree branches, the grasses playing in the sun, her paintings capture the living earth.

"Look at the earth crowded with growth, new and old bursting from their strong roots hidden in the silent, live ground, each seed according to its own kind... each one knowing what to do, each one demanding its own rights on the earth... So, artist, you too from the deeps of your soul... let your roots creep forth, gaining strength." - Emily Carr

Carr was a strong and unique character in her time, a pioneer in living a feminist existence without the restraints of family or domestic life that was expected when she was a young woman. She traveled and studied painting in America, England and France. She struggled for many years and even stopped painting for 15 years during the middle of her life but even during that time she turned to crafts to keep her creativity alive. In her later life she achieved success as a renowned artist and today is a beloved cultural figure for Canada and a role model for women in the arts worldwide.

“Be careful that you do not write or paint anything that is not your own, that you don't know in your own soul.” - Emily Carr

The painting above is Haida Totems from the BC archives in Canada. Visit the Emily Carr website to see more paintings and to read about the life of this extraordinary woman.

Visit the Art Bead Scene to read about the challenge and gather your beads to play along.