Details make a difference

I have been doing a LOT of beading in the last week. As in, nonstop during the waking hours. I’m thisclose to catching up on my deadlines for various projects and I am so excited about it! But as I’ve been working away, I have a lot of mental free time and I’ve been trying to pay attention to some of the little things I do as I work that can make a big difference in the quality of the beadwork I create.

First and foremost, I cull my beads. A lot. When I was first starting out beading, I didn’t like to cull. Who wants to throw those precious little beadies away??? But as my stash of beads got bigger and I felt less worried about running out (although I still have moments! LOL!) I started to let go a little bit. And I began to push aside those beads that were much taller or shorter than the rest of them.

As time went on, I also started noticing that if you look at the beads from the top, down through the holes, there can be big differences in hole sizes, especially if you’re working with galvanized, color-lined, or Czech seed beads. At first I figured if I could get my needle through the hole, it didn’t really matter. Except sometimes it DID matter – like at the ends of a piece where my needle and thread must go through each bead many times to secure my clasp. So now I cull out the small hole guys too.

My Bead On It Board is a lifesaver when it comes to helping me cull, because most of the beads will pour out so the holes are all up. And they don’t roll around as much. I haven’t talked about the Bead On It Boards here on the blog, but they are now one of my must-have beading tools. You can purchase them at www.beadonitboards.com, and I’ll also have a permanent link on the sidebar for them.

Here’s an example of some “good” galvanized beads and some culled out beads. On the top are the good ones – they’re all the same height (which you can’t see at this angle of photo, but trust me) and the holes are all nice and big. On the bottom, you’ll notice some of the beads have tiny holes (especially that one in the first row on the left) and the others are height issues.

As a result of my careful bead selection not only will I have an easier time with finishing my project (no blocked holes) but when photographed there will be no oddball sizing issues that jump out. My project will flow more smoothly. And I’ll be a happier beader.

Don’t fret about those culled out beads either. You can make art with them! This is the large vase we purchased about two years ago in which we throw all our oddball beads. The layers of color tell a story about various projects we’ve worked on over time, and in some cases big bead spills or accidental bead combos that we didn’t feel like separating out. It sits on our fireplace hearth and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Woosh!

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that 2012 is almost over. This past year has flashed by at warp speeds, and I’m left shaking my head and laughing. Ironically, I still feel like I’m planning for stuff that’s going to happen in 2012! I guess I need to cross out that 12 and mark it a 13 instead!

The joy and excitement and every other emotion about publishing a book still hit me on a regular basis. Which is really a good motivator for me right now as I’m spending the last month of this year and the first month of next year doing much of the designing and writing for my next book! I need to remember how cool the outcome will be when I’m deep in the midst of writing minutia and design dilemmas and color combo frustrations.

One of the other really nice things about being home for more than two months straight is that after I slept for a week (I’m not really kidding) Mom and I have been making slow but steady progress on cleaning up the disaster areas in our house that the 2012 whirlwind left behind. Massive piles of beads in boxes left over from various shows. Massive piles of beads and paperwork on all horizontal surfaces. Just tonight I discovered more than one item that I must have purchased in a pre-show frenzy because I couldn’t find it when I went to go make the kits. Now that things are being put away, guess what??? I’m overstocked on some of those bits! LOL

Fireline Stockpile

One of our biggest goals for next year is to keep a larger inventory of kits on hand so that we’re not making so many of them in a short amount of time right before I have to leave town with them. That’s when the mistakes are made. It’s a big financial commitment. It’s not that I wasn’t aware I should be doing that all along, but it’s been much more about the ability to do it in regards to the cash flow of the business. Working so hard this past year has helped me have a better cushion so we can dial back some of the insanity.

So between working on various samples (that I can’t show you yet) I’m taking ten minute breaks to go pick something and put it away. And periodically I’m spooling Fireline in bulk quantities so that’s ready to go too.

Dang, I sound organized, don’t I??? Just call me, Mistress of Illusion. 😉

How Often Do You Bead?

From June:
As I sit here and read through all my Facebook posts and read the blogs I subscribe to, I feel like a failure. Why? Because everyone seems to spend a lot of time beading. As a designer, I feel like I should be beading ever day. And I’m not.

For example, yesterday after I took the dogs for their walk, I made kits and filled orders. I had (long) lunch with two people I used to work with – about my only social life these days! Went to the post office, cleaned up all the stuff I dragged out to make kits. Worked on a kit inventory so we know what to make for our next show, Bead Fest Texas. I spend the evening cutting a blanket into small squares to hold needles for our kits.

At least I picked out the colors for my next beading project, but don’t know when I’ll get to the actual beading.

What about you? How often do you bead?

The Story Behind: Butterfly Kisses

I was actually awake on Monday! During the day! And it may have been the power of suggestion, but I was more clearheaded and got more work accomplished than I have in weeks. Of course I’m already goofing up and it’s now 2:30 am and am I in bed like I should be? Um….look! Over there! Sparkly! (Did my distraction work???)

Today was a great day with exciting news for me on the book front. I found out that through the magic of being the author and asking for favors, I was able to get a shipment of books sent out to me at my hotel in Philadelphia! So next week when I’m at Bead Fest Philadelphia, I will have BOOKS to sell! Those who have already pre-ordered them from me will be able to pick them up there. I also have a shipment of books being sent to Austin, but unfortunately they will arrive a few days after I leave for Philly. So I will get all the pre-orders autographed and mailed out from Austin by August 27th.

And then, because I was able to get my hands on the books, Betcey from Beyond Beadery asked me if I would be willing to do a book signing at the show in their booth! So I’ll be hanging out there on Saturday, August 17th, from 1-3pm. My very first book signing! I told Betcey it was only fitting because she and Mark were literally the first folks I told about the book contract after telling Mom. They were in the right place at the right time and I just HAD to spill it!

So….wanna see another project from the book? (puts hand to ear to listen) I hear yes! So let me introduce you to the necklace known as Butterfly Kisses…

This is one of the few pieces in the book that have been previously out in the world. As a matter of fact, you may have seen me wearing it as it’s one of my favorites! I have this one in gold and another in silver and they go with anything and everything. The name Butterfly Kisses comes from the fact that it’s made with the ogalala stitch, which is sometimes known as the butterfly stitch.

Normally the ogalala stitch is a very light and airy, barely there ruffle. But I decided to put a new twist on it and make some adjustments that turn it into a more substantial, thicker rope. I think the look is feminine, but modern – not too precious.

I’d better work on that bedtime thing now. It was really nice spending the day with the fur babies wide awake. Poppy keeps us on our toes right now. She managed to escape through the smallest of holes in the fence to our back neighbor’s yard. She got returned by being passed over the fence top! And how nice is our neighbor – he even offered to come fix it Tuesday. Or maybe he just doesn’t want Poppy visits again. But how can one get too mad at this little sweetheart???

Can you hold on one more day?

This weekend did not go as planned by me. Mainly because I am SO tired lately! In an effort to switch things up and try to sleep on a more regular schedule I’m working on trying to go to bed between midnight and 1am, and then sleeping until 9-10am. Also included in the plans is a little exercise, but right now I don’t even want to think about that part. I do, however, want to go to bed now now now!

What I didn’t get accomplished was scanning in photos of the book projects so I can blog about them – can you hang on one extra day while I get myself sorted out?

I also had to place roughly a bazillion supply orders over the weekend for all the last minute stuff I’m preparing for the Bead Fest Philly Show. I leave a week from today (Sunday.) Teaching six classes this time – plus the booth – plus – well, I might have a little surprise too, but I have to wait for phone calls on Monday to verify everything first before I get y’all too excited!!

Sleep tight!

The Story Behind: Forever Tango

That blog post title sounds like a VH1 Special, doesn’t it?

First up for our walk through the projects included in my upcoming book, Jill Wiseman’s Beautiful Beaded Ropes, is a sleek little bracelet I named Forever Tango.

About the time I signed the contract to write the book, I was out shopping and found a cheap (bad quality) costume bracelet that had a really interesting intertwined rope. I shelled out $4.99 for it (told ya’ it was cheap) as an inspiration piece. My interpretation of it is Forever Tango.

I wanted to keep it small scale, so I chose to work with all Size 15 seed beads. The bracelet would certainly work with Size 11s too, so if the 15s scare you, don’t worry! It will make a larger piece, of course, but other than that there’s no difference.

I considered adding some sparkle in the center of the two knots – by way of a crystal ring around the middle section – but in the end I decided I was most taken by the intricate weaving back and forth of the ropes and wanted that to be the star. I’d love to see it with that sparkle, though, if you’re so inclined to add it!

One quick note: I found a small boo-boo in the text on this project – you’re fine if you follow the illustration, and I know that’s what y’all do most of the time anyway! But if you read the text on the section referring to weaving the ropes together, it says you add both circles the same way. In actuality, you add the second circle the opposite way to make them mirror image.

Is it time yet???

It’s so VERY VERY close to the moment where my little book springs into the world, and I finally get to start seeing what y’all think of the projects it contains. I’ve gotten some feedback over the last few months while I’ve been able to privately show some friends and customers as proofs and then my one hard copy came in, which has been so exciting – like showing off my newborn baby! And on Thursday I got to read my first formal review of the book from Jennifer VanBenschoten, of Beading Daily. You can read it here: go ahead, I’ll wait.

Isn’t that exciting! She gets me! And I have to tell you, I was worried that the peyote tube bracelet she mentions in the review was going to be one of the overlooked projects in the book, because unless you read the instructions you don’t realize how it’s made completely differently than you assume looking at the photo.

Which brings me to this – how about you and I have a little daily preview action while we all wait for the big release day?? I plan on showing you a project a day from the book, with any little stories I have about how and why I made the project the way I did, ideas for variations, and any other fun stuff I can dream up.

So don’t forget to come back starting tomorrow!!! Okay? Because I’ll be sad if you don’t.

And in the meantime, how about this?? Two FREE patterns from the book have been released (you remember this post about that, right?) and already folks are starting to send me photos of the projects they’ve made from them! So if you make anything, will you pretty please send me a photo so I can show it off??

Flirtation Earrings by Danielle McElroy Brown

Flirtation Bracelet by Julie Grossberg Glasser

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