Catching up and feeling human

The deed is done. Wait – my editor reads this blog and she’s totally going to bust me. So let me rephrase that – the deed is partially done. I mailed off the final set of beaded samples for Jill Wiseman Teaches the Ropes, and now the design portion of my first book is complete. How I managed to conceive of and bead up the majority of the projects in the last six weeks is still a mystery to me. There was very little sleep. A few meltdowns (usually when the tiredness overcame any sensible thought.) A bunch of giddy, silly moments when something turned out even better than I’d envisioned it. And much heartburn for all involved as we wondered if the deadlines were obtainable.

As I sent the last bits in, though, and was able to take a moment and look it all over as a collection, I was really proud of the accomplishment. It looks like it all goes together. It looks like my kind of design aesthetic, which is so important to me – I feel like I have a slightly different style that I sometimes struggle to keep in line. It’s easy to gild the lily! The harder part is editing it down to the more streamlined, graphic, modern sense I work for. But I feel confident that every piece in this book belongs in this book. And I’m teary and emotional about it from feeling like I did good.

And as happy as sending that box made me, it’s far from over. I still owe them about a bazillion sets of instructions that need to be written and illustrated. I am finishing some samples showing variations of the book projects that will be shipped Thursday for the photo shoot on Friday. I have the Basics section and some other smart sounding words to write.

But all of that seems so much more manageable than the last six weeks of my life. I’m working on finding my life under the piles of beads again. I slept for roughly two solid days. I got a massage yesterday. I’m finally unpacking the suitcase from my trip to California four weeks ago. Laundry is drying at this very moment. And a pedicure is in my very near future.

But don’t worry, Nathalie – I’m working on what I still owe you too! 🙂

I leave you with a photo of Winston that I took tonight as he laid on my lap, keeping me company during the night shift. I suppose he thinks he deserves the Employee of the Month title now!

Great blog post re: inspiration vs. exploitation

I talk about the subject of design copy all the time…but Pat has put together a blog post I wish I had written, so let’s let her do the talking! Check it out at: The Crafty Retailer.

More truth in beading

To continue the lessons learned when writing your first book…

  • There is nothing quite so difficult as naming (and then remembering) 25 projects at once. I am absurdly grateful that I started keeping a list of good adjectives that might come in handy years ago. It has saved my sanity and jump started the brainstorming process more times than I can count.
  • 25 is a lot.

The good, the bad, and the ugly truth

I’m discovering that writing your first book is full of one learning experience after another. And by discovering, I mean the hard way! Just when I think I have it together…well, you can imagine. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

  • You make an outline at the start that has a visual description of each project that you have in your head. And when you actually start beading that design, it laughs at you and shows you what the real design is. Takeaway: Be flexible
  • When you sign that contract, the deadline for turning in your completed projects, instructions, and illustrations seems like a million months away. And then the calendar laughs at you and time speeds up and all of a sudden you’re behind and panicked. Takeaway: Pretend like it’s a race to get it finished as fast as possible and then you might make that deadline without having to take anti-anxiety medication.
  • The good news is that you’ve spent the last 10 years of your life collecting all the coolest seed beads, focal beads, clasps, and crystals, and it finally pays off as you’re making the collection of your life for the book. But then the beads laugh at you as you discover EVERY SINGLE TIME that while you have the perfect beads, you don’t have enough of them to finish the project in question. And remember that deadline? Yeah. Me too. Takeaway: Overnight shipping is your friend.
  • Above all else, trust in your vision. Because through the twists and turns, it will come together in the end – and you will look over the mountain of designs you created as you were feeling slightly out-of-control and off-kilter, careening down a steep mountain with no brakes, and like a miracle, the laughter stops and you realize it is beautiful and you couldn’t imagine making a single project any other way. Takeaway: Dang. This is so much fun!

Sparkle!

From June: I have now counted over 32,000 special color coat 2mm Swarovski crystals into individual baggies of 51, and I’ve updated the website. Yes, it was a lot of work, but only what you’d expect from Tapestry Bead’s Employee of the Month (for 2 straight months!). If you haven’t used 2mm Swarovski crystals before, they’re about the size of a size 11 seed bead. Tiny. Yummy! Here’s a list of the colors we have in stock.

  • Aqua AB
  • Black Diamond Vitrial
  • Champagne Aqua
  • Chili Pepper
  • Crystal AB
  • Crystal Copper
  • Cyclamen Opal
  • Emerald/Sahara
  • Indian Pink AB
  • Jet Doroado
  • Light Amethyst Verde
  • Light Colorado Topaz/Tabac
  • Light Rose Rosaline
  • Light Sapphire AB
  • Light Siam Iridescent
  • Olivine AB
  • Peridot Sphinx
  • Sapphire Sahara
  • Tanzanite AB
  • Tanzanite Light Vitrial
  • Tanzanite Titan
  • Topaz Glazier

What’s your favorite 2mm Swarovski color?

And the winner is….

Drum roll, please!

I used the online random number generator, and it picked number… 
ONE!

So the first Natalie to comment (I’m sorry – it doesn’t show your email address) should email me and we’ll get you all set up with your free class!

I’ve been busy working on projects for the book like a mad woman. I’m so very pleased with the way things are looking and coming together at this point. It’s an interesting challenge, not only in the designing of projects, but also having to keep an eye on the overall content and how it flows. Making sure the mix of bracelets/necklaces/earrings is good. Being consistent with a color story, but not making everything the SAME. Keeping true to my own design vision of modern, contemporary pieces that you’ll wear in your daily life. It’s keeping me on my toes!

I’m Baaaaack!

I feel like I’ve been on a world-wide odyssey, but it’s been less than that, of course. My three week trip to Shreveport, New Jersey, and Philadelphia was quite the trek, full of adventures like saving an ungrateful snapper turtle on the road, torrential rains, me sleeping through the Virginia earthquake, and lots and lots of fun beading moments. I swear I slept for days when I returned!

And as I finally recovered, it was all to apparent that I needed to be working on book projects like YESTERDAY. So I hunkered down to do that. A quick weekend trip to teach at Beads by Blanche in New Jersey last weekend broke things up, but now I’m back to book, book, book all the time!

BUT! I have something really cool and important to share with you before I start talking about book stuff. Because my next two classes with Beaducation.com have launched! And we figured it was a good time to have another blog contest to celebrate!

Blog Contest

Ogalala Lace

All you have to do is leave a comment on this page, or if you have trouble, you can email me at jill@tapestrybeads.com to enter. I’ll collect entries until Thursday, Sept. 23rd at 6pm CST. Then I’ll announce the winner here on Friday! The lucky winner will receive a free Beaducation.com class of his or her choice.

The new classes are Parisian Lights, and Ogalala Lace Bracelet. SO much fun! Check them out!

Parisian Lights

Cost of doing business

Sometimes we will get one of two comments from a customer:

1. “Wow, the prices on your kits are so reasonable.”
2. “Why are your kit prices so high?”
(Filed under: You Can’t Win No Matter What You Do)

A lot of factors go into pricing a kit that have nothing to do with the cost of be raw materials.

First and foremost, you’re paying for the design itself and the instructions for the design. How much a design is “worth” is kind of subjective and varies with individual designers. Then hours and hours of work go into writing instructions and drawing diagrams that are easy to understand. Patterns are printed, so add the cost of paper and laser ink toner. You would not believe how much printer toner we go through – at almost $900 a set.

When you see us at a show, most people don’t think about the our costs (and generally, they shouldn’t!). But those costs must also factor into our kits. Consider our most recent show, Bead Fest in Philadelphia.

  • Jill drove so that we would have all of our merchandise: Austin to King of Prussia: 1,663 miles each way.Our car, the wonderful Element, gets 22-24 miles per gallon. Cost of gas: $500+
  • Several days of hotel driving to and from Philadelphia. Cost of hotels: $400+
  • I flew to Philadelphia for two reasons: so the animals wouldn’t be alone as long, and because the car was packed from floor to ceiling. Cost of airfare: $250
  • Which reminds me – we had to get a pet sitter for the 6 days I was gone. Cost: $150
  • Booth space at the show: $
  • Hotel while we we were at the show: $700
  • Cost of meals on the road. Who knows?

When we’re home, we have costs to subscribe to a postage system, and mailing costs themselves. When the economy tanked, we started doing free shipping, but did not raise any prices. Additionally, we have all the smaller fees: for the website, for

My brief love affair with an iPad

Random things that make me happy

  • Magazines without perfume ads – the strong scents make me sneeze if they’re in there! I used to pull out all the inserts from the mags and then would have to let them sit and “breathe” for a few days. But I finally got smart and emailed all the subscription customer service folks and ask for scent-free issues to be delivered to me. What a difference!
  •  

Workedy working

Do you know how much 12,000 baggies weigh? I do! I just ordered that many (in 6 different sizes) and the box that is due to be delivered tomorrow is 44lbs. That’s around a 4-5 month supply for me. It’s totally nuts, but also totally necessary for the kits.

I was doubly productive today with Mom’s help. Not only did I work on finishing up some samples that needed to get shipped out, but Mom managed to knock out my entire backlog of shipping random things that needed to go out. AND I got my email inbox back down to under 50! My goal is to whittle that down to 30 before I leave on the road trip next week. Baby steps in getting caught up, but I’m really feeling the difference.

Now, if I could only spend the next week doing nothing but beading!! My one big freak out this week is getting the samples made and photographed to ship out to Bead & Button next Friday. I also have to price out the class kits and write descriptions… I only have one figured out for sure. I’m working on a few others, but they need some time and attention. Luckily with the temperatures hitting 100+ every single day in Austin, I basically don’t leave the house at all so beading time is easy to come by that way.

Not the most exciting blog post in the world, but the reality is I’m just slogging away on chores for the moment!

Miami Report

The July meeting of the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild

I just got back from a five day trip to Miami, Florida, to teach some classes for the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild. What a wonderful group of women down there! On Thursday night was the monthly group meeting, which was attended by roughly 40 enthusiastic Guild members. I saw some really amazing pieces of jewelry adorning bodies! Artists doing everything from polymer clay to fused glass, and PMC to beadweaving – all facets of jewelry arts were well represented among the membership.

And I was lucky enough (and brave enough) to teach the group a new earring project that I developed just for them called Whirligig Earrings. Most of the women left with at least one earring completed, and some wore their finished set out the door! The earrings were definitely a hit, and I will be rolling them out as a new kit in the very near future. I have to restock first!! They bought me out!!

As is true all across the country, the weather was less than delightful. Hot. Rainy. Muggy. But we had beads, excellent food, and even better…BEADS! I taught a total of five classes in five days, and came back with a significantly lighter load of kits. I’m very grateful to the ladies of the Guild for inviting me to come visit and I hope they adore their new jewelry!!

Mariela Corte & I after the Rosetta Suite Class

So now that I’m home I’m facing 10 days to restock kits, develop my class submissions for the 2012 Bead & Button Show, and do anything else I need to do before I leave on a 21 day road trip. My goal for tonight is to take a kit inventory so I can figure out what kits need to be made, and what supplies have to be ordered pronto! Having Mom here to help is such a wonderful thing…

Drum roll, please….

And the lucky winner of our Beaducation.com Free Online Class contest is…..

Sarah Dockery! 

Thank you to everyone who entered, and left such wonderful comments on the blog, and also those who have been so supportive on Facebook. Making the videos was initially quite a scary-feeling stretch for me, but in the end was such a fun and fulfilling experience. Stay tuned…because there are two more classes that are scheduled to release this fall!

Here are a few photos from our video shoot that I have been waiting to share with you…

We used some of my jewelry for a gorgeous display in the background!

Try not being intimidated by THAT camera staring at you!

The view from my chair. I would look in the monitor to see if my hands were centered.

My makeup crew!I’m ready for my close-up….

The mess outside the camera frame! That’s how you know I was there!

Trouble with comments?

Hey folks!

So I’ve been hearing on Facebook that some of you have been trying to leave comments on the blog post for the free class from Beaducation giveaway and have not been able to do so. I hate that! So I just made some changes to the settings that I hope will help. Try again. And if that still doesn’t work, no worries…just send a quick email to me at jill@tapestrybeads.com, and I’ll get you entered!

Supporting local bead shops

I have had several interesting conversations recently with both local bead store owners and beading consumers that got me thinking.

Beading consumers are always looking for value, and they have been flocking to online shopping options in droves. Whether it’s due to a broader variety of merchandise, lower prices, or the ease of point, click, and have it show up on your doorstep, there’s no doubt that the bead shopping landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10 years.

But I hope these online buyers won’t forget the additional value that their local bead stores can also provide! How many times have I bought some beads online only to have them arrive looking very different than what I expected? Sigh. Too many!!

Sleek Bracelet Class – ONLINE!

Today is a big, Big, BIG day! Launch Day for my first online video class with Beaducation.com! And even better than a new class? It’s on SALE this week! And even better than THAT??? I’m going to give away a free Beaducation.com class this week to celebrate – any class they offer!!
Sleek Bracelet
 
Beginner level class!
$12.95 – but 20% off through July 15
To be entered in the contest, all you have to do is make a comment on this blog post. Easy shmeazy! I will then randomly choose the winning entry and announce it on Saturday, July 16.

My Plate Overfloweth

How do I manage to do these things to myself? Oh yeah…because I like my job and it makes me want to do cool projects and go teach cool people and so that makes it hard for me to say no to things.

But seriously – I look at my “immediate” to-do list and feel a little crazy.

  • Kits for the Sleek Bracelet online video class which launches with Beaducation.com on Monday (I’ll be having a giveaway for a free class on the blog next week! Details on Monday’s post!)
  • Kits for new Whirlygig Earrings which I will be teaching at the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild Meeting in less than two weeks.
  • Instructions need to be written for Whirlygig too
  • Kits for the brand new Dew Drop Spiral Necklace that I’ll be teaching there for the first time. Oh, and samples of the colorways need to be made.
  • Instructions need to be written for Dew Drop Spiral 
  • Restocking other kits for the classes in Florida
  • Kits for the project I’m teaching at the Shreveport Bead Retreat in August. Samples made. Luckily the instructions are done on this one! It’s Deborah Roberti’s design which I’m teaching with her gracious permission.
  • Figuring out how to send samples to stores in South New Jersey, North New Jersey, and California all at the same time when I only have one of some of the samples available. Plus I need the samples for teaching in Florida too. 
  • Designing/figuring out projects to submit for the Bead & Button Show 2012 – they have to be mailed by Aug. 8th
  • Still slogging away on book projects. I have about half done.
  • Plotting and planning a new joint venture with Sylvie Lansdowne – Two Babes and a Bead Party! We’re going to do bead retreats – first one will be over New Years weekend in Georgia. More details coming soon!

Thank goodness that Mom is able to spend more time helping. She’s been amazing! She’s taken over shipping all the orders, and can help more putting kits together.

Poor neglected blog

Dear Blog,
I know it’s been a very long time since I last posted and I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that I have been avoiding you. It’s not you – it’s me. You are perfect. I know you can be a little needy sometimes, and I thought I had gotten used to that. But I needed a break! After a little therapy, and a better understanding of how you and I might communicate better as a couple, I’m back. I hope you’ll find it in your little Bloggy heart to forgive me. I do love you. I always will. I’m going to work on showing you how much and I will make it up to you.
xoxoxoxoxox,
Jill

It’s a big, Big, BIG DAY!

Happy Retirement!

Today is Mom’s last day of work…in the corporate world, that is!

She’ll still be assisting at Tapestry Beads – but we have extra special employee benefits like extremely flexible hours, doggie and kitty kisses, daily naps, and “I don’t wanna” days.

Congratulations, Mom!

Introspection

It’s been awfully quiet here at Tapestry Beads the last few weeks, but not for lack of activity. In Beadville, May always means preparations for the massive Bead & Button Show. And that means making kits. Lots and lots and lots of kits. And then a few more thrown in for good measure. It’s the time of year when my credit card starts squealing every time I pull it out for one more supply order, and my UPS man just assumes that he’ll be stopping at my house every single day. We’re known for over-preparedness – on Facebook the other day as I was lamenting (okay – whining) about the endless kit assembly, one of my long time students said,

You’re the only instructor I know who makes enough kits so the class attendees can choose any color and not worry about them being sold out, then you still have some to sell to non-class members.”

It made me realize not only do I choose to make this many kits, I do it because for me, it’s good customer service. I do it because I would be so sad if someone came to a class with her heart set on making a certain colorway and it was already gone. I’ve been that person before! It’s not just about good business practices (the more kits I have to sell, the more I’m likely to sell) but much more it’s about making sure my students and customers have a good experience.

And while I know this, that doesn’t mean I don’t have those blue mood days where I struggle with having to sit for yet another 12+ hours and weigh out beads, or put labels on baggies, or print patterns. It’s mind-numbing after a while when I’m doing this kind of volume (not to mention butt-numbing. I think the sofa is permanently attached to my backside now.) And so for the last few days I’ve been fighting the urge to run away and hide for a respite.

And then I watched clips from Oprah’s farewell show online tonight. And cried. And was reminded of how lucky and special my life is. What an amazing journey this last 9 years has been since I first encountered beads. I don’t say Thank You enough to YOU. Because you guys out there, reading my blog, becoming my friends on Facebook, buying our kits online and at shows, taking my classes, and anticipating my books – YOU are the people who allow me to do this. You share your excitement and enthusiasm with me and keep me going through tough deadlines and canceled flights, and bad hotel rooms.

I think I have shared this before, but when I first started down this path of becoming a jewelry designer and instructor, I felt kind of silly making it a career. It seemed superficial at the time. An entire job revolving around something as non-essential as jewelry and crafting? I am ashamed to admit that now. But I couldn’t know…I didn’t understand just how the experiences I would have along the way would show me how something as “inconsequential” as beadweaving can change lives.

I have watched deep friendships form between women in my classes. The locals in Austin who started gathering twice a week at the local bead store for the company. The women who discovered in one of my classes at Bead & Button that they lived just blocks away from each other in Washington State and have become close friends.

I have worried about the woman over there in the corner who always came to class, but never participated in the chatter and laughter. Was she enjoying herself? A private conversation between us eventually revealed that she was a recent widow with no children and very few friends. Her only interaction with people happened within these classes. She came because she loved hearing everyone talk and joke and she loved the beads. And she didn’t have to put on a brave face or do anything but just be in the company of others. It was an escape from her sorrow and her loneliness. That was the moment I felt for the first time I truly understood the saying “Art saves lives.”

I have watched students work out bad days at work in beading class. Who have found solace from personal and family tragedies and illnesses. I have seen beading quite literally keeping two dear friends alive. The excitement and pleasure of artistic creation, the meditative motions of the beading, and the treasured friendships developed from their beading connections have combined to keep them going. When one thought she was going to be unable to bead any longer I could see the life-light draining from her eyes. But a medical adjustment allowed her to continue to keep her beady company, and all of a sudden – like the flip of a switch – she was back again with sparkle and laughter and I knew it was going to be okay.

Working with adult learners has taught me many lessons too. How hard we can be on ourselves if we don’t master a new technique or stitch right off the bat. (Y’all, I failed learning peyote stitch several times when I first started out! Don’t tell me you can’t learn something!) So my job is often simply to remind people to be willing to goof up. To keep going. To be a personal cheerleader. And to stand there like a proud mama when they get that “ah-ha!” moment – because that’s exactly how I feel! When a woman in one class pulled me quietly aside to thank me for being so patient with her questions and need for extra help, she brought tears to my eyes (then, and now) as she explained she had suffered a stroke a year prior, and relearning to bead was difficult, but important to her self-esteem. She had taken a class from someone else who had made her feel stupid and slow, and wanted to thank me for not making her feel like a burden at all. I was floored! Not only because I couldn’t imagine thinking of her being a burden – but also because I could imagine what it felt like to be treated badly in the past. Her accomplishment in that class made me so happy for her! How sad that the other teacher missed out on that joy.

So all of this is simply me saying THANK YOU. Thank you for sticking with me through growing pains and grumpy days and spotty blog updating. Thank you for being the reason I love what I do so much. You all hang out with me every single day, whether you know it or not. My gratitude is endless.

Aw, man. Now I’m all weepy again. And if that’s not a sign for bedtime I don’t know what is! But I had to stop right this very moment and tell you what I was thinking. Thank you too, for listening.