Duh, Jill

I just had my second DUH moment of the day.

When I don’t leave the house all day, I rarely bother to wear my contact lenses. Instead I just work with my ratty old glasses which are not fashionable, but are functional. For years and years and years they have provided the best close-up vision quality for beading.

Plus, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember about a 18 months or so ago when I finally figured out that I needed to start using reading glasses in addition to my contacts to be able to bead or see my student’s beadwork up close in class. Bummer, getting old. And I figured if I was going to have to wear glasses anyway, I might as well wear the pair that gets me through the day. Because I’m lazy too.

Well I’ve been in a flurry of beading the last two days and it was all done with the contacts/reading glasses combo. When I just took out my contacts and reverted to my regular glasses I had an ephiphany. I CAN’T SEE! I tried to go back to beading and all of a sudden my focal point was dramatically changed and I’ve had to put the beadwork aside again because it was far too difficult.

So I wonder if this visual deterioration has been an unrecongnized reason for my lack of beading time??!! You would think I learned my lesson about this when I went through it with the reading glasses, but nope. Evidentally I’m not a quick learner.

Guess who’s going to the eye doctor for a new prescription REALLY SOON??

I relay this story to remind you that perhaps you should make an appointment soon too if you’re having trouble with focus. We don’t need to suffer it when there’s correction available.

Daily Beading

I think I probably do a lot less beading than y’all think. When I have something to design, it tends to be a focused short-term do it and get it done type of thing. Which is really a big shame! And so despite (and because of) my insane designing schedule for the rest of the year, I decided tonight that I am going to make a commitment to do a lot more beading – sometimes just to do it.

A lot of good ideas and imaginative designs come about through putting this piece with that part I made that one time that I have in a drawer over there… So I’m going to make let myself be a little more demanding of beading time.

Here’s a little of the bits and pieces I’ve been working on this week. I’m pretty sure none of them are finished as projects yet, but they all have great potential, and I’m excited to see where they go…

The bottom is a  simple spiral rope, and the top is the same rope with extra embellishments. When the project is finalized, the instructions will include both variations.
The flower is made with a single piece of beadweaving – not several Russian Flowers stitched together like many would assume. Extra embellishment and a little chaton creates the center. The bottom may be a bracelet base for it. I’m not sure yet.

FREE projects from my book!

I’m not really sure where the last month went. I spent a lot of time designing. A lot of time planning and scheming on things you’ll get to find out about this fall. Playing with our new puppy. Yep! New puppy!

So it’s like this…Mom and I were sitting here on July 4th, and I must have uttered a bored sigh. She looked at me and said, “Well, we could go shopping for purses.” We had discussed our mutual need earlier in the week. But that would require going out in the heat and crowds and ugh. So just as a funny line back I said, “We could go adopt a dog!” Whoops. Because next thing you know I was on Petfinders.com and looking at dogs and before you know it I was submitting an application and a few days later we brought home Poppy – a 7 month old (ish) Poodle mix who has become the darling of the family. She’s brilliant (of course) and adorable (naturally) and so loving and affectionate it’s hard to believe we’re at least her fourth home in her short life. But every time she does something naughty, I remind her, “I could have had a purse!”

The other big thing that’s been going on has been building excitement over the release of my book next month! I have plans to start blogging on August 1 and every day after with a preview of one of the projects from the book, and the story behind how and why I created it the way I did.

But I know that’s two weeks away and you’re really wanting to see something now now now!
Okay! How about two free PDF projects from the book? Head on over to Lark to download them now!

Flirtation Bracelet
Bohemian Earrings

NOT the Bead & Button 2012 Report

Wednesday afternoon I sat and wrote a lovely, poetic, fascinating post about the Bead & Button Show, which I know y’all are waiting to hear about. And then this little bitty <thisbig> thunderstorm moved through my area – and even though I’d been conscientiously saving my blog post as I went along, the storm caused my internet connection to freeze – and then – you see it coming, dontcha? Yup. It ate the post. Gobbled up every last word. And while I appreciate any drop of rain, I’m still pretty bitter about having to start over with the report.

So no report today. Instead, let me tell you about what was going through my head tonight as I worked out a new design. I’m already anticipating the reaction to it. Folks will love it (I know a winner when I see it!) and they will say it’s another of my classic, streamlined, wearable necklaces and how it’s SO EASY to do! And it’s that last part that has me giggling.

Because I started out this easy project some 7 hours ago, and I have only now figured out the proper spacing for it. Graduating sizes made it curve too much. No graduation made it too straight. Two size 11s was too small, three size 11s was too big. I tried one size 11, one 15, and another 11. Still too big. Changed the embellishment – three times – finally, AH-HA!! Changed the shaping. Changed the thread path – twice. And now I may finally have something. Although I still don’t have a full necklace made and since I made so many alterations along the way I’m going to have to start over to make it the way I think will work. I hope will work. <Please let it work.>

And then I get to make it two more times in two other colorways, perfecting that thread path along the way. And then there’s the illustrations and instructions to write. Tips to offer up.

Yup – this is gonna be an EASY one! And no, I can’t show you yet. 🙂

No Walk Monday

From June:

I take Winston and Maggie for a walk every day. Theoretically, it was supposed to help Winston lose a couple of pounds, but that hasn’t happened. But now the walk is a daily ritual.
A month or so ago on one of our walks, a garbage truck came down the street and hit the air brakes when it was just a couple of feet in front of us. Winston freaked out. And ever since then, he is terrified of big trucks when we walk. Garbage trucks are the worst, but even noisy pick-up trucks and cars cause him great anxiety. I’ve tried everything I can think of and could find on the internet, but this seems to be permanent.
So when traffic is heavy on the street next to the walking trail, I divert into the neighborhood. (The only problem with that is there are no public trash cans for the poop bags as there are on the walking trail.) So the dogs are still getting their daily walks despite Winston’s phobia. 

Except Monday, neighborhood trash pick-up day. It’s just too hard to avoid the worst of the worst truck. So it’s a “no walkies Monday” today

Sneak Peek

From June:

Here is a new design I created for Bead and Button this year. We’ve named the bracelet Mambo. We’ll have kits for the two colors, or if you want to use your own beads, you will also be able to purchase just the instructions.

Bead and Button – just a few more days! Come see us at booth #1011.

I have a crystal or two

At least once a week I think I’m crazy for having this job. Like when I look at my to-do list a mile long and know there’s no way I’ll accomplish it all.

At least once a week I think I’m lucky to have this job. Like when I looked at my Bead & Button Show signups today and discovered that I now have seven of eleven classes sold out at the show. I’m so grateful and humbled (and freaking out.)

At least once a week I adore this job (and usually MUCH more than just once!) Like when I have this many Swarovski Crystals delivered to my door. 😀

Guilty pleasures

I started my addiction to magazines at an early age. My babysitting income went to Vogue, Glamour, Bazaar, and Seventeen (along with some trashy romance novels when the income allowed.) I would pour over every little piece of every page – the clothes, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, the makeup. And at some point I began pulling out the pages I liked. Which in some cases was pretty close to every single page. I had literally thousands of pages stored away that I had to selectively purge when we moved from Wisconsin to Texas when I was 14. It was horrible to have to let them go! I kept the “most important” ones though, and I still have some to this day in a file folder.

While my pulling of pages slowed to a trickle over the years, my magazine obsession has continued, and my list of titles expanded. Over the last 10 years of my jewelry career I’ve mainly pulled pages for design inspiration, and it’s been a very effective way to jump-start my brain when I need a design push.

But we have some new toys these days for visual cues, and while I have learned that I don’t like reading magazines online (strange when I have willingly given up physical books for my Kindle) I LOVE the endless sensory overload of Pinterest and Houzz. And pinning things is much like pulling those pages out of magazines again. My life has come full circle.

Hot Shoes

Pinterest has images on pretty much any topic, and Houzz is home/architecture focused. And if I just dropped you down the rabbit hole on these two sites, I’m sorry (ish.) There are some legal copyright problems for the photographers regarding the use of their photos on the sites, which is a bigger issue than I’m willing to spend time pondering and writing about. I’ll let the experts sort it all out. But I’m having a blast planning my fantasy wedding, and future DIY projects, buying a whole new wardrobe, and pretending I would actually be able to walk in those Hot Shoes I adore… Oh yeah, and there’s a LOT of fabulous jewelry inspiration too!


You can follow me on Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/jilltwiseman/

Fantasy Wedding

My own worst enemy

So I spent my night’s worth of work doing the following:

  • Making a new sample for a workshop I’m teaching in Detroit in a 10 days – and as I am halfway through I discover that I’ve made the rookie mistake of sewing both snaps on upside down so it can not be clasped. AGH! I even was thinking to myself as I was sewing them on that I need to mention that in class as I’m teaching. I often do that…basically teach the class in my head as I’m stitching the project. Too bad I didn’t listen to myself. So I ended up having to cut them off and restitch them, which was much more difficult because I’d gone on and done more embellishment after I had sewed them on which caused the angles to be difficult to turn. But it’s done.
  • Next up I discovered that for the second time in the last year, I had mixed Size 15 seed beads and Size 11 Delicas of the same color in the same container. It was even the SAME COLOR as last time. So then I had to spend a stupid amount of time sorting those bits out. 

Can you imagine how much more productive my time would have been if I hadn’t been working against myself? Sheesh. So you see – when you make these sorts of mistakes at home and think you’re the only one – you’re NOT. All you can do is throw a little hissy fit and fix it.

Preparations continue for both my trip to the Great Lakes Bead Society (Detroit) for a week of fun, and then the iconic Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee. I have only 8 days between getting home from Detroit and leaving for Milwaukee, so I’m having to try to stock up for both events at once. Double the fun. I’m teaching one new class in Detroit and two new ones in Milwaukee so I’m trying to make sure I have all my ducks in a row with the instructions. It’s always a little nerve wracking to debut a class. I also have to give a talk to the Great Lakes Bead Society monthly meeting while I’m there, so I’m figuring out what interesting stuff I might have to say there. Any ideas for me?

Sideways photos and all

This is what it looks like around our house (production factory) these days. I never did figure out why the photos insist on loading sideways and such. Oh well.

Sideways kits
A few end caps for the Kumihimo classes

There’s a wee bit o’ printing happening…
Some Fireline being spooled. About $800 worth.
Pearls anyone? Everyone?

Technology is great. Except when it sucks.

I had this great post with lots of photos to show you tonight, but the technology gremlins are messing with my head! And after spending 45 min. trying to figure out why my photos are all importing sideways or upside down when they’re not showing that way in Paint Shop Pro, I give up. The gremlins win. For tonight anyway. I shall live to fight another day! (And probably take the photos with my camera instead of my iPhone and see if that makes a difference.)

Ugh. Frustrating.

The Dog Bed

From June:  Years ago, after Jill and I first discovered we could make jewelry, we tried selling our finished projects. It was all strung stuff. We used quality materials, .i.e., all sterling components. And we watched everyone admire our work, then walk on down to the booth that had the cheap imports and buy there. We never made very much money..
One weekend we were working a show in an un-airconditioned metal shed. In Texas. It was awful. Jill probably remembers more details than I do. I think I’ve blocked it out. Across from us a nice lady was selling beautiful wooden dog beds, and she had brought her cute, tiny dog to the show.  She wouldn’t let us take her dog home with us, but we did buy one of the dog beds. They were so cute, with a fur animal print mattress, and matching blanket and bone-shaped pillow. As I recall, we spent more on the dog bed than we made the entire weekend.
When we got it home, neither of our dogs would have anything to do with it. I was crushed! It was so cute! So it went in the garage. Over time, we got new dogs, but they all turned up their noses at the it. The bed was too nice and too expensive to just throw away, so I put it up on Craigslist. Twice. Not a single call.Still, I refused to throw it out. 
Last week, as I was doing some garage organizing, I came across the bed again. It really had to go. I decided to take it outside to see if the dogs or either of the cats would use it out there. (It’s kind of like putting leftovers in the refrigerator, knowing you’ll never eat them, but it’s a step toward the garbage can.)
SCORE! Miss Piper has decided the bed is perrrfect for her. The last few nights she hasn’t even come inside, because she’s sleeping in that darn bed! At last SOMEONE will use the bed and I don’t have to throw it out.

Slow motion

I had an amazing trip to Seattle to teach at Quiltworks and then spent an extra few days to hang out with friends. Honestly, it was the most fun trip I’ve had in quite a while. Slowing down to enjoy it made a huge difference for me. Much more to report on that whole adventure another day, including some cool photos.

Since I returned I’ve been stuck between two equally important tasks. Designing like a mad woman for the book and for future teaching projects, and making kits like a mad woman for my trip to the Great Lakes Beadworker’s Guild in Detroit in May, and the extravaganza of the Bead & Button Show that I have to leave for a mere week after I return from Detroit. For the moment, making kits has won out – a decision that has left my mother nervous about the lack of designing it seems. So I’m happy to report to her that I finally feel the mental shift coming on and I think I’ll be switching to beadwork for a few days. I simply can’t face one more Kumihimo with Beads kit at the moment. In the empty mental space that kitting provides, I’ve designed several new projects and worked out a sticky solution to a beading problem that’s been plaguing me.

Not as planned

Sunday evening we had my brother’s family over for dinner and little kid hijinks which culminated in a bath for the little ones in Mom’s oversized bathtub, playing with the inflatable boat we purchased for them on the cruise. Is there anything cuter than little naked kiddos running through the house with glee? You’ll understand why there are no photos…

Monday night we had massive thunderstorms blow through overnight and the MOMENT it hit, our electricity went out. Wouldn’t normally have been a big deal except in typical Jill style, I had left an editing job to the last minute and now I had no light to read! Enter modern day technology to save the day! I spent three hours finishing up by iPhone Flashlight application.

Not a lot exciting going on right now. Making kits to take with me to Seattle on Thursday. I have some instruction tweaking to do on Wednesday and printing to do. Packing. I’m hoping to carve out some beading time in the evenings while I’m there because I have several designs burning in my brain, dying to come out.

Remembering a friend

I woke today to some very sad news for those of us in the Texas region. One of our beloved beading sisters, Janie Warnick, passed away on Thursday after battling cancer. I met Janie about 7 or 8 years ago at the Shreveport Bead Retreat. She was tiny in stature, but huge in heart and personality. She made me feel right at home at my first retreat, and we became fast friends trading silly stories and barbs. Over the years we laughed until my ribs hurt over things like her annual efforts to launch herself into the absurdly high beds at the retreat hotel, and her insistence that she would be a perfect assassin because who would suspect a tiny old grandma would be a stealthy killer?

Janie was the kind of generous woman who would literally give you the beads off her tray because you said you liked the color. She loved to share her beading knowledge, and you can find some of her free tutorials here. She called one of her beading discoveries “The Gift”, but in truth, Janie was the true gift. I will miss her lively banter and sparkling eyes full of mischief always. She’s one of those people I would never have met were it not for the way our beading world crosses generations and I am grateful, lucky, and enriched to have known her. Farewell, my dear friend.

Cleaning up after myself

I am a strange mix of a fool for organization, order, and cleanliness, and a slovenly whirlwind of a pigsty. I love having a specified place for everything, but the truth is that I have many more things (beads) than places. The other truth of my life is that while I like to put things away when I am done with them, I am never done! Which means I end up with stuff everywhere. And it builds up until I either have a strange 3am cleaning fit, or someone comes to the house.

In this case, we’ve got company coming. My niece and nephew, who are now almost 5 and 3 and can find the coolest stuff to get into any place, any time, are coming to visit on Sunday. So that means Saturday is whirling dervish clean up day. If it can’t be put behind a closed door, it needs to be put up high. Our seed bead racks get covered with a blanket in the “out of sight, out of mind” principle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But those kiddos are always worth the effort. I’m smiling just thinking about them coming through the front door!

Wish me luck!

My own worst enemy

I am SO guilty of making things too hard. For instance – wanna know why I haven’t blogged in a really long time?

  • Because I have too much to say and it’s going to take too long to say it all and then it’s going to be the world’s longest blog post and no one will read it anyway
  • Because everyone else’s blogs always include a photo every post and I don’t and that means I suck so I might as well quit
  • Because I don’t have time. Um. Pinterest? Facebook? Napping? Reading? I’m sure those don’t take any time from my life at ALL.

I have come to realize the error of my ways. And I’m back. Daily. Maybe just a quick soundbite some days, but I’ll be here. And I’ll take my time catching up on things like The Book, The Cruise, The Cool New Projects. I hope some of you are still out there to listen to me!

And as a present for waiting so patiently for me, I present to you…the cover of my book, which will debut Sept. 4th.

Full recovery

I’m back! Full force…watch out world…the beady spirits have found me once again. Thank goodness! For the first time in weeks I’m feeling compelled to sit and bead and design and pick colorways. I spent one full night cleaning the bead room – I made great headway, but there’s still a long way to go. At least we can now move around in there again, and I cleared off 14 beading trays that had been covering every inch of horizontal surface!! There’s definitely going to be a  bead garage sale in the future and I’ve already started setting things aside for that as I go along.

Tonight I’ve been working on colorways for my new kit/class Reversible Star Shine. I’m totally loving how this one works up and all the design options for it. Necklace, bracelet, earrings, ring…no problem!

The 2012 season is basically here. I think I’m well rested and potentially well-prepared. Time will tell! But here’s what’s coming up in case you aren’t aware:

Texas Bead Retreat, Temple, TX – Jan. 19-22  The retreat is sold out. I’ll be teaching one class and have kits available.

Tuesday, January 10th – class registration goes live for the Bead & Button Show where I’ll be teaching a record 11 classes, and have a booth with kits. Here’s the link to my classes:
Jill’s Classes
Good luck getting your first choices!!

I’m teaching in Tucson at the Best Bead Show for the first time this year in addition to having a booth. Registration is open for those four class now at:

And in early March, I’ll be setting sail on the Bead Cruise! I’m so excited for my first cruise. More info at:

In late March I am totally thrilled to be heading to Seattle to teach at Quiltworks:

There’s more in April (a trip to Pittsburg!) and May (Detroit!) and then June rolls around and it’s Milwaukee, of course… Poor Winston is going to go back to sleeping on top of my unpacked suitcases between trips again, isn’t he???

Guilty fingers

Mom asked me tonight if I was ever going to start beading again. I told her I hoped so.

Post Book Syndrome (PBS) is still holding me in it’s nasty little grasp. I had started beading something that I still believe will grow up into a fine national class project a few days ago, but I haven’t touched it now…well…since my last blog post about the darned Swarovski pearl organization.

This happens to me at least once a year, and usually around this time. My brain goes on hiatus. My fingers go on strike. I sit and read books and watch stupid tv and sleep a lot. I hear some people call this “taking time off.” But around here, it worries folks because in general I never stop. Ever.

And it’s actually an inconvenient time to close down the Jill Machine because all of 2012 is shimmering in the near future and demanding new projects. I’m trying to remind myself that this is kind of like a computer rebooting. You’ve got to power it down for it to reset all the systems. Then when you power it back up again it works like a charm again.


Earlier tonight (and by tonight, I mean 3am, naturally) I was working on a new design that will end up being one of my national class offerings, and I decided I needed a couple of Swarovski pearls for it. I walked into the Bead Room and picked my way through the piles to the special Swarovski pearl spot. And by special Swarovski pearl spot, I mean 3-4 random small boxes on top of some cabinets with mixed colors and sizes of pearls that make OCD sufferers start to shake.

It’s already been pointed out to me that they’re not in order.

All of a sudden, I just couldn’t take it one more minute! Next thing you know I grabbed some storage containers, my labeler, and some baggies along with the Swarovski pearl stash, and two hours later I have this lovely pile of organized, labeled, sorted beads. And an unfinished design. This is my life – full of detours.

You may have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog lately. And by lately I mean a really long time. I’m blaming the detours. My last post celebrated the turning in of my last designs for The Book. You know the one – that big monster that took over my entire year? THAT book? Well, after the last box of beady fun went in the mail, the work was far from over. I still had instructions and illustrations to create for more then half of the 24 projects, and a technical editor (Judith Durant) and illustrator (Melissa Grakowsky Shippee) waiting for me to send them. So another solid month or more was spent with my hindquarters glued to the sofa and my hands to the computer getting every last title and intro and period written. Edits were made. Illustrations drawn. And then all of a sudden I was facing down…nothing. No urgent deadline. No people waiting on me. No. More. Book. Urgency.

Do you know what happens when the constant stream of adrenalin that has been coursing through your veins suddenly stops? You stop too. You crawl into bed for days. You stare into space. You spend one pathetic night crying and terrified that what you just turned in wasn’t good enough. Poor Mom for having to deal with that insanity! I guess she gets Employee of the Month yet again!

I’m working on digging back out from the freefall by catching up on things that got pushed aside during the last few months. I’m slowly starting to design again. Thinking about all the fun and exciting things will happen in 2012. But I won’t lie – I’m still deep in Post-Book Syndrome.

I learned so much while writing this book that as I start looking at the next book and how I want the process to go, I know it will be much better. Less detours.