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.


I’ve been waiting, hoping, and and dreaming I’d get to announce this one day. And now it’s the real deal – no more dreaming necessary! Because…

I will be one of the instructors on the
2012 Bead Cruise!

And what an amazing cruise it will be! Not only are there classes by Heather Powers (the mastermind behind the Bead Cruise and the fairy who has pulled it off for 7 years,) Beverly Herman, Tracy Stanley, Kerry Bogert, and little ol’ me….but look at this list of ports of call: St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, and Hati. (I should be shot for the punctuation in that sentence, but oh well.) How decadent is THAT? And while the ship is at sea, you’ll have the bead classes to enjoy.

It’s limited to 60 bead cruisers, which means there will be only 15 in each class. I know so many folks who have been on the cruises over the years and said it was one of the best experiences of their beady lives. I am thrilled and honored to be asked to participate. And yes! Mom will be coming too!

More details as they come…but in the meantime, check it all out at! There’s also more info at the Memory Cruisin’ website. Pricing will be available in the next day or two.

I have a confession to make

Sometimes, I am late to the party.

When I first learned beadweaving everyone in the industry was basically using Nymo or Silamide. Before long though, one of the beading teachers at the local store started talking about this new thing – Fireline. She was such an advocate that she talked the store into carrying it. I resisted. More beaders converted. I tried it once and hated it and kept resisting. The WHOLE WORLD converted to Fireline, and I finally decided I’d give it another chance. It took a few projects to get used to this new fangled thread imposter – it had all this body to it! I had to flatten the tip to thread my needle! It left black marks on my hands! But before you know it, I was one of the converts too, and I almost never use anything else now.

Which brings me to the topic of thread conditioners. Or rather, my lack of usage of them. Baby Beader Jill faithfully used Thread Heaven and beeswax on her Nymo thread. But over time….they kept disappearing into the great Bermuda Triangle of my beading stash.Because I got tired of buying it over and over again I simply stopped using thread conditioner althogether! No problems arose, so the habit stuck.

Enter Fireline into the thread condition equation. I felt like it made absolutely no sense whatsoever to use thread conditioner on Fireline. It wouldn’t absorb into the thread like it did with old fashioned beading thread so it would leave a coating on the Fireline that would then block up the bead holes, and get sloppy, and who needed it? Fireline already didn’t tangle quite like thread did, and it was easier to get out the knots when you did. So no thread conditioner recommendation from me! I was surprised when I heard that other national beading teachers DID recommend it. I just didn’t get it.

So here’s the confession part. (You thought I’d forgotten by now, didn’t you?) This week, I finally tried using Micro-Crystalline Wax (the synthetic stuff that doesn’t go bad on you and lasts forever – or until it falls into the Bead Bermuda Triangle) on my Fireline. And…um, well. I liked it. A lot.

Not only did it cut tangling to basically not at all, but it gave the Fireline a bit of resistance which will be really helpful for beaders with loose tension who need to tighten up. It also cut down on the black marks on my hand.

There you have it. You CAN teach a resistant old dog new tricks eventually. I am now going to recommend using the Micro-Crystalline Wax with Fireline. Yes, you may laugh at me now.

You can purchase it from my friends at The Hole Bead Shoppe. Just $3 for a 4oz. cup that will last you forever. For the local ladies, I am now stocking it at the house for when you come to bead.

Head Shots!

Like many people I know – I hate having my photo taken. I’ve gotten better about it over the years, mainly because when my grandmother died many many years ago, one heartbreaking moment was my grandfather confessing that the day before she got so sick she had to go to the hospital, they were scheduled to have a portrait taken of the two of them for their 50th anniversary. He balked at the photo shoot and refused to do it, but regretted it terribly after she passed away. So I try to remember that it’s okay that I’m fluffy or my hair is wonky that day or I don’t love the outfit I’m in. Because that’s not the point of the photo!

Still doesn’t make it easy, though, when your brain thinks you’re significantly skinnier than reality. Seeing those pictures can be a shock! So I haven’t been enthused about having to get a head shot taken for the book. But yet, that’s my first book-related deadline, so – grumble – groan – put off – reschedule – whine – I finally did it yesterday.

I picked Korey Howell as my photographer because I loved the informal tone of her website – kinda silly and chatty, like I tend to write. Plus I also loved her photos! Much to my surprise, the whole event was, well, a non-event! It was quick, and easy. I chose to do several different clothing looks so I would have a variety to choose from (again, thinking they were all going to suck!) and also so I would be able to use different photos for different things. The book, bead show websites where they post the instructor’s bios, bead stores where they are showing what classes are being offered by national instructors, and magazines when I’m published. But guess what? I had a horrible time choosing photos because they were ALL GOOD!

Here’s what I picked – and I may go back and pick one more big smile shot. But really, I feel great about them! What a relief!


Albuquerque Classes Report

I was lucky enough to be invited to teach Pitaya Necklace to some really amazing beaders in Albuquerque last weekend. It started out small. A regular customer of mine, Bonnie, saw me at my booth in Tucson, and asked if I might be able to teach a private class in Albuquerque when I was in the area for Bead Fest Santa Fe in March. I figured, why not? I’d stay over an extra night, and we’d do the class that Monday before I headed for home again. And I was thinking it would be 6-8 folks since it was a private class. Silly me! I underestimated Bonnie!

She lined up a store for us to hold the class (Bead Obsession), and filled it with 20 folks! Then, due a variety of issues, the class got pushed back to April, and Bonnie told me she thought she could fill a second class for Pitaya if I did one on Friday and one on Saturday. And doggone it, she did!

Friday’s Class – waving hello!

So we had quite the weekend of beady love. The Albuquerque ladies (and Jerome!) are simply wonderful beaders, and they have a great time together. Bead Obsession is only open two days a week, but she has a super selection of seed beads and Delicas and books! Wow!

And this was my favorite part – the owner made Delica sample mats of all the Delica colors (before the store was opened) and they are available as a reference. Can you imagine the hours this project took? I’m in lust for them!

I’m delighted that I’ll be going back to visit them again the first weekend in November for more classes and beady love. I made them all promise to bring show-and-tell jewelry to share with me!

Secret news – not secret any longer!

I have been holding some really important secret news close to my heart since mid-February. It’s been KILLING me to not be able to share with you! Because you guys know, I share everything! But today I got permission to announce it….
I’m writing a book!
(Two books, actually!)
I have signed a contract with Lark Publishing to write two books. The first will be part of the amazing Master Class series on beaded ropes. I couldn’t be more honored to be included in this series of books by designers like Diane Fitzgerald, Laura McCabe, Marcia DeCoster, Sherry Serafini, Rachel Nelson-Smith, Maggie Meister, Sabine Lippert…and me! 
It will be released in the fall of 2012.
And then I go right back to work! Because I’ll have a second book focused on advanced herringbone coming out 12-18 months later. 
Way back, as far as when I was 8 years old, I said I was going to be an author one day. And now I will be. Dreams do come true!

"Simple" Designs

The simplest of designs are often the hardest to accomplish. When there’s not a lot of layers and extra beads to hide behind, every single stitch counts. The beads must lay just so. Be exactly right. And sometimes it’s easy to mistake an elegantly conceived piece as simple.

But let me tell you about that simple piece. I have been working for six hours now on a simple piece. I’ve changed bead sizes. I’ve tried out different bead shapes. I’ve added two beads at a time, then tried three, then tried four…. I’ve ripped and reshaped. I’ve played with color. I’ve tried more than one type of stitch to get the drape I’m looking for. I’m finally closing in on the best way to make it. I think. But there are hours more of this type of experimentation to make sure that it’s perfect.

So when you get the instructions for the project, of COURSE you’re going to think it’s simple. Because I worked up all the wrong ways to make it the right way for you.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Whirl & Twirl

At last, I arrived back home Wednesday afternoon. It seemed like twice the distance I drove getting to Santa Fe! The strong pull to be home home home was the culprit, I’m sure. I spend much of the next 10 weeks getting to BEAD! And DESIGN! And, oh yeah – there’s this little thing called the Bead & Button Show that I need to get ready for as well.

I made Mom laugh like a hyena today as I was describing my spending spree on filigree components at Artworks by Cathy J. It’s all Mom’s fault. She emailed me a shopping list that included the note, “I like the stuff at this vendor – this piece in particular.” Except she hadn’t attached a photo of the piece she liked so much! I managed to get over to the booth in the last 30 min. of the show, and doggone it, I liked it all. So I bought it all. Almost all of it, anyway. Seems like. I’m a heck of a power shopper! Now if Mom had sent me the photo…I would have gone with a specific purpose! Instead she sent me shopping for “pretty.” Mom asked if I was buying thinking about using pieces in kits. Um. I dunno. Actually it’s probably mostly stuff for my personal jewelry. You know – the jewelry I haven’t made in FIVE YEARS!!! But I have the perfect filigree for it when I get around to it. You’re laughing like a hyena at me now too, aren’t you? I can feel it.

I am tired and tried going to sleep at 9pm tonight. But the brain is dancing about – whirling and twirling. So I was back up by 10, and making lists and paying bills and ordering supplies and Facebooking and Tweeting. Listening to the new Adele album which I love and adore. But at last I feel sleepy eyes coming on. I think I’ll be dreaming of filigree jewelry designs tonight.

Bead Fest Santa Fe: By the Numbers

766 – miles from my front door to the Santa Fe Convention Center
14 – hours it took me to drive nonstop on Thursday to get there
12 – the time of night I arrived
2 – the time of morning I went to bed because I was glued to the Japan earthquake/tsunami coverage on tv
6 – the hour the alarm clock went off
3 – number of curse words used when the alarm clock went off
20 – happy students who now can make Kumihimo with Beads
4 – vendors from whom I made purchases (Beyond Beadery, Alacarte Clasps & Wirelace, Oak Grove Studio, Artworks by Cathy J. )
28 – new colors of Delicas I purchased to add to my stash
0 – number of times I got to walk the whole show – too busy!!
2880 – number of 2mm Swarovski crystals I spilled on the floor of my booth
7 – number of curse words used when I spilled them
2700 – approximate number I managed to pick up
1 – burnt out headlight that I have to get fixed Monday morning before I head home
47892093457 – number of happy exchanges I had at the show. (Approximately.)
1 – tired Jilly
4- puppies and kitties that need their Mama Jill to come home for lovin’s. And Winston wants his bed back.

Packin’ up the suitcases again

One more big trip to get through, and after that, while I do have a quick overnight trip to Lake Jackson, and a vacation weekend visiting a friend in Phoenix, I will be HOME until the beginning of June.

And what do I plan to do while I’m home, you might ask?? Well! Let me tell you.

First, I intend to play with the beads. Lots and lots of time sitting  and designing the beautiful items I’ve dreamed up in my head over the last year but haven’t had time to bring to life. I have a list of projects that’s so daunting – but I am excited to dive headfirst into the pile – like when I was little and dove into the pile of Autumn leaves, giggling and laughing and screaming. Exactly like that.

And I have a new bead cabinet that Mom and I scored from a fellow beader who needed to downsize a bit. We have plans to put it in our personal bead room to organize our personal bead stash, but naturally that requires moving pretty much every item in the room. Again. Organizing never ends!

And while I think they’re gorgeous, I think Mom and I might break down and put the Christmas Ornaments that have been hanging in our front hall for the last three months away.

First, though? A week in gorgeous Santa Fe for Bead Fest 2011. I’ll have a booth in the Convention Center, and my Quick & Easy Kumihimo with Beads class is sold-out for the second year in a row. (As a matter of fact, we just added a fourth session of that class for Bead & Button in June – on Tuesday night.) I’m also teaching a private class in Albuquerque the Monday after the show, and plan on being home by Wednesday. SWEET!

Pretty Tucson photos

I still owe you the STORY of Tucson Tales, The Finale, but in the meantime, here’s some fun photos!

We have a LOT of fun in Tucson!

The top photo is an overview of the loot I brought home. Smaller photos are close-ups. Most of this is for kits!

The artisan beads and buttons I couldn’t resist. From top left going clockwise, buttons from Raven’s Journey; lampwork by Ellie Mac; lampwork by Isis Ray; and a spectacular wooden bead by Gerry Kmack

I loooove pearls!

Beading Shortcuts

I’m probably about to disappoint you. Because I’ll bet you read the title of this post and got all excited to learn some tips to make your beadweaving faster and more efficient. But guess what?? Nope.

Instead I felt compelled to tell you all that I’m not a big believer in beadweaving shortcuts. Gasp! I know! It’s not like I haven’t tried them – I do, all the time. And what I find is that taking two stitches at once in a peyote stitch piece inevitably causes more tangles than usual, and the messes are bigger to out of. Cheating on a herringbone stitch by pulling the thread only once through both the downward and upward strokes pulls your beads out of a pristine, straight alignment, and makes for a sloppier looking project.

You are a beadweaver. You’re not in this for speed. Take the slow road, enjoy the process, and your beadwork will thank you by being more beautiful in the end.

Writing the Blog

From June:

I know it’s been a while since we’ve updated the blog. That’s partly because life is comparatively calm right now, and I can’t think of anything to write. Well that’s not exactly true, stuff is going on, but it’s stuff I can’t talk about yet. So…..oh look! What an amazing sparkle.

Okay, I’m back now. Trying to think of something to write about. Winston! Winston, drop that! Winston……!

Back again. Oh, there’s the phone. Out of town number. Probably about an order. I’d better get that.

Hmmmm….maybe I’ll check Facebook while I think about what to write.

Ahhh…maybe I could write about…..oh, just got an order in. I’d better go get that ready to mail.

Okay, now! Although I am a little hungry – I haven’t eaten anything yet today. My brain will probably work better once I get some nourishment.

Wow, lunch made me really sleepy. I bet a nap with all the dogs and cats will refresh me.

Oh-oh. Know how sometimes you wake up in the wrong sleep cycle, and you feel like you’re just underwater? That’s me right now. Ugh. Maybe I can update the blog tomorrow.

Tucson Tales, Part II

The buildup before coming to Tucson is immense. So much planning and creation and anticipation. The appointed day finally arrives and it’s instant and pure joy! Seeing my beady friends from across the world, vendors and customers alike. I miss them mightily between shows. They are my tribe! My family! The people that get me and my obsession with tiny beads and the beauty we can create with them.

So for five days, we all gathered at The Best Bead Show (among other shows) and laughed and hugged and bought beads. We played at night, dining and dancing. A few hours of sleep were all we could spare before getting up to do at all again. And then, suddenly…POOF! It’s over. My friends stop by to say farewell before they leave for their own little piece of the country, and I pack up all that’s left behind. Sometimes I get what I call the Post Show Blues from the letdown of intense adrenalin.

But not this time! Because for all the wonderful WONDERFUL things that happened at the show, it was a rough one this time around too. The frigid temperatures left the vendors outside in tents and on the patio in dangerous conditions. Pipes around the city at hotels and show venues burst, leaving many without heat and water for a few days. I wrenched my back, and dug a huge gouge in the back of my hand while setting up. OUCH for the rest of the show. And to top it all off, I came down with a cold the last day. Tucson, I love you. But you’re testing my patience this year!

Back to the good stuff, though. I treated myself to some fabulous lampwork beads from Isis Ray, Bernadette Fuentes, Ellie Mac. I’ll have to wait until the sun comes back up to take photos to share. I placed a project in Bead Unique Magazine – I’ll keep you posted on when you can find it! And it looks like I’m going to be adding a bunch of teaching weekends around the country soon. Chicago, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and more!

I spent a day in the hotel, sleeping and trying to shake the remainder of this cold that’s got my energy low. Because while MY show is over, there are many others out there that need some of my spending money! So tomorrow I’m off to shop. POWER SHOP!! I can’t wait!

Tucson Tales, Part I

I sat down tonight to write an email to Mom to tell her all about the craziness of this day, but then I decided y’all would want to hear it all too. So now it’s a letter to ALL of you!

So….you may not have noticed this, but it’s C O L D outside. I don’t care where you are in the US, it’s way colder than usual. And I live in Texas, therefore, I do not have cold weather clothing. Sure, it gets chilly for a few days a year, but it’s not a big deal most of the time. I don’t even have a real winter coat these days. I lost mine a few years ago somewhere, and I’ve been making due with some sweater/wrap type of things. I own only one pair of closed-toe shoes.

But then this cold front came through. BIG ugly, hairy, wicked cold front. So evil, that as I was driving to Tucson yesterday, I just couldn’t bring myself to keep going when I got to the point where I was driving through snow, sleet, and 30mph winds. Enough! So I stopped for the night at a hotel, and made the rest of the trip on Tuesday. When I left the hotel that morning the windchill was below zero, and I was out getting gas in the car in my sandals. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, ya’ know. Luckily I drove out of the worst of the weather and got myself to Tucson, albeit much later than I’d wished.

I did a power shopping whirl around the To Bead True Blue show – so fast and furious that I’d already racked up a security hold on my debit card in the first 45 min. You veterans of the bead show shopping will know what I mean… When you’re at the bead shows and buying from different vendors from all across the country/world, it looks like there’s credit card fraud going on to the credit card companies and they kindly put a security hold on your card. It’s not a huge deal as you just have to call them and confirm that you’re really the one making all those purchases. But it is annoying in that moment when your card gets declined!!

Kelli Burns & Jill

I got to hug on Kelli Burns from the Hole Bead Shoppe – we were so excited to see each other we couldn’t sit still for the photo! She’s one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. I also got to meet a whole bunch of my Facebook friends in real life – it’s so much fun!

After the show closed at 6, I had to run by MY show to unload my car into the booth. And it was like a bad Marx Brothers skit. I am using a new set of bins to hold all my kits under the table instead of my usual rolling carts. The table is only 6′ instead of my normal 8′ setup, so I had to get creative. Unfortunately, the new bins are a nightmare to transport! They all fell apart and spilled kits all over as I tried to get them in the hall. I left a trail of kits and bins behind me as I dropped them over and over again. Rolling carts? I’m SO sorry I strayed! Please forgive me! I’ll never do it again! By the time I finally got most of them into the hall, I was so annoyed that I just left them in shambles. I’ll have to get to the show extra early in the morning to sort it all out again. Sigh.

I was rushing (surprise) because I still needed to go check into my hotel, freshen up, and then head out to the Interweave party to meet up with a bunch more friends. So I find my hotel. Go to check in. And…..wait for it….they have given my room away. And they’re full. And everyone else in the area is full. I feel dizzy with visions of having to sleep in the car for the next 10 nights. When I made my last set of changes with dates on the room reservation online, it evidentally didn’t take, and poof! There goes the room. Thank goodness, I had the sense to call Kelli Burns first and she said she thought the hotel they were staying at had some rooms available. So in one phone call, Kelli saved the day. I love Kelli!!!

Stephanie Dixon & Jill

At that point I no longer had time to find the new hotel and freshen up before the party. So I did a little primping in the car. Good enough. The heck with being cute. I was THERE! And I had SO much fun!

I finally FINALLY got to meet the amazing Stephanie Dixon, The Dixon Chick & Swarovski Ambassador from Toronto. We’ve been Facebook friends for a while now and ADORE each other and it was so great to discover we love each other in real life too!!

I could name drop like crazy and tell you ALL the folks I met and talked to through the day, but I’ll spare you. Because I’m in serious need of a bed right about now. I’m going to have to wake at dawn to get ready before the show opens at 10am, and wouldn’t you know it, Wednesday is the day we’re open until 8pm too. I have plans with Tracy Stanley and Janice Berkebile for dinner afterwards, and we’ll probably have others join us as well.

There are a bunch of vendors who are having trouble getting to Tucson with all the weather issues. And the saddest for me is my dear Anna Draeger. Her flight was cancelled, and now she can’t find another flight down here. She plans on spending the whole day Wednesday trying to find a seat. I’ll cry if she can’t make it!!

And hopefully…if I’m really lucky…I will survive it all. Cold weather? Booth disasters? Hotel room chaos? No problem. I got it covered!

Same Song, Same Verse

From June: It seems like no matter how much we try, we can’t seem to get ahead when getting ready for a big show. Originally we weren’t going to do a show at Tucson this year – Jill was just going to shop. But at pretty much the last minute, we decided to do the Best Bead Show again. So Jill’s been working long hours ordering beads and making kits for the last couple of weeks.

But it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. We had our traditional Pre-Big Show Printer Meltdown, for one thing. And that’s a whole other story. I’m still working, so my help was limited in getting ready – Jill was pretty much on her own. A last minute push, and Jill delaying her departure twice, got it done. I was up until 3 a.m. on Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and was up again at 7 a.m. Last night, bedtime was after midnight and we were both up well before 5 a.m.

In our business, Jill designs most of the complex, special works. I’m not as good a beader as Jill, and I design a lot of the beginner stuff. We always take great care with our instructions, and never is that more important than with instructions for a beginner. We want to make sure a new beader can succeed and be sucked into Bead World with the rest of us. Here are two new beginner kits that I’ve recently done. I don’t have them on the website yet, because Jill has taken all the kits to Tucson, but I’ll pull the trigger on that as soon as she gets home.

The first one is called Center Stage, and we have it in several colorways, including an orange/pink combination.

The one below is a wide bracelet – it’s called Harmony. It comes with a fabulous button from Sonoran Beads. I’ll do another colorway on this one, too. What do you think? Red/orange/pink?

Happy 2011!

You know, I was thinking last night, wasn’t Y2K just a few years ago? How did we end up in the double digits of this century so fast??? It kind of makes my brain hurt!

You know what else makes my brain hurt? Preparing for all the new things happening here at Tapestry Beads this year! It’s the time of year where we’re finalizing a bunch of new kit designs, and picking colorways and making samples of them all. So I’ve got colors and supply orders on non-stop rotation through my brain. In addition to our regular kits, I’m also working on colorways for some of my national teaching projects, like the Pitaya Necklace, Rosetta Suite, and Evening Song Set. There will be kits available later for these, but for now I’m just scrambling to get colors picked. Luckily I have my beady minions to help me make samples, including my German co-Pitaya instructor, Martina Nagele!

And sometime in February you can expect to see my online video classes debuting with! I am working out kit colorways for all three of those projects as well.

All together, I’m working on about 25 new colorways between them. AGH! No wonder I was just in bed, but not able to sleep! I decided to get up and work if I wasn’t going to be snoozing. And I’ve missed talking to y’all!

My next blog post, I’ve got something to show you….It’s 3:30am right now, so my photos wouldn’t turn out great if I took them now. But in my best procrastinating way, I found it absolutely imperative to organize my entire Delica collection the other night….and tonight’s dodging efforts centered on completely reorganizing my Swarovski stash. I know. I know. Believe me…Mom’s already given me “that look.” You know the one. But the good news is that they’re organized! And it will make a huge difference over the long haul. I can’t wait to show you my pretty new system.

I leave you tonight with this photo of Santa Jill. My elves were a little too interested in food and Play-doh to smile for the camera, but I guarantee you, there were lots and lots of smiles that day.

Participating in The Best Little Bead Box project!

Please forgive me for cross-posting, but I wanted y’all to know about this cool project I got to participate in if you don’t know about it already!

I really don’t know how he did it, but my postman managed to get both GIGANTIC Best Little Bead Boxes stuffed into one of our community mailbox lockers. I practically needed a crow bar to get them out of there! And I also thanked my lucky stars that I live directly across the street – because when you’re carrying over 60lbs of beads, you don’t want far to travel. Yep. That’s right. Over 60lbs!!!!

I had a special message from Jean on my boxes too.

Coincidentally, the boxes arrived a day after a special thing happened regarding Beads of Courage, the charity that will be receiving the proceeds from The Best Little Bead Box auctions. I was out of town for the day, but my mother was at home Sunday morning and said she turned the TV on, looked up, and there was Margaret Zinzer (lampworker extraordinaire, and avid Beads of Courage supporter) on the screen! Mom thought quickly and started taping…whatever it was. Turns out it was a news story on CBS This Sunday Morning about the Beads of Courage program. What serendipity! And y’all, I’m embarrassed to say this, but I had no idea. Seriously. I really didn’t understand what the Beads of Courage program was all about other than “sick kids get beads.” And I’m willing to bet that a lot of you are in that same position. So please pardon my ramble, but can I tell you just a little bit about this program?

Kids with serious illnesses go through so much, both emotionally and physically, and it’s often hard for others to understand everything they’re dealing with. When a child enters the Beads of Courage program, they are given a length of string with beads that spell out their name. After that, as they work through their treatments, colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone are given to the child. For instance, they get a yellow bead for an overnight hospital stay, a white one for chemotherapy, and a glow-in-the-dark bead for radiation treatment. It’s not uncommon for children to amass 10, 20 — even 35 — feet of beads. It helps young patients track and celebrate their progress, but it also gives them a way to get through upcoming procedures as well as a way of sharing and telling their story to friends and family. It’s a visual representation of their courage. The CBS story brought both my mother and I to tears (please click on the link and watch,) but also immediately made us ask, “What can we do to help?”

Which brings me back to the Best Little Bead Box(es). As I opened each treasure in the box, fondled the beads, lusted after them and set aside a pile to keep, I kept thinking about that question: What can I do to help?” And slowly I repacked all the beads but one strand of beautiful purple lucite flowers from The Hole Bead Shoppe. I intend to make into a special, commemorative necklace from it to remind me of how honored I am to be participating in this project. But everything else? I decided I couldn’t accept any more. I have more beads than I can use in a lifetime, and I’m lucky enough to have my entire world surrounded with them. So the beads in the boxes? Well…they are for the auction, and ultimately for the kids.

The spirit of sharing and giving also made me dig deep into my own beady treasures to add to the stash. And dig I did! Everything from crystals to glass, seed beads to pearls, and gemstones to lampwork. I’ve got it all in here. So please forgive the sparse commentary….but enjoy the BEADS!

Pearls (there are a LOT more of the green ones!), a silver chain, Ruby Zoisite, and some glass strands.

Cool side/top drilled pearls, and some interesting finish glass beads

The pink stash includes some Rose Quartz, Button Pearls, and a bunch of glass beads

All glass beads, some vintage

More glass – how cute are those butterflies?

Furnace glass I picked out for a bracelet I never made.

David Christensen Furnace Glass

Um, can you tell I really like Furnace glass?

All semiprecious gemstones

I threw a bracelet I made in there! Why not?

Some of my all time favorite seed beads, including Size 8 3-cuts by Toho. Sparkly!

Some of my specially coated 2mm Swarovski crystals

Green Girls clasp

Sterling Silver clasps

Fun beads from Susan Nestor!

The pendant on the right is polymer clay


Lilly Pilly, Dichro, and a stone pendant


Metallic lampwork beads by Donna Mehnert of Blackberry Beads



More lampwork

Adorable small set by Pam Way of Yellow Dog Beads

Another Pam Way set

Assortment of Tagua Nut pendants and beads

Holy Cannoli

Man, when I owe you a blog post, I REALLY owe you a blog post! I have yet to tell you all about the fun and interesting Beaducation video shoot (went great – I’m known as One Take Wiseman there!) And I do have stories and photos. But honestly? It’s going to be next week before I have a spare moment to write a coherent account!

Why? Oh, because I’m INSANE! Wait. You knew that already. Why do I keep rediscovering it? At some point I have the nerve to actually convince myself things like “Oh yeah…I have a lot of down time in between Thanksgiving and mid-January.” ???!!! NOT

So what I’m staring at right now is having roughly eleventy billion people over to our house on Saturday for our annual Tapestry Beads Open House (and if you’re within driving distance of Austin, why aren’t you coming??) and we’ve been rushing around like mad to get ready for it. The new bead cabinet and slat wall means having to fill it all up with fabulous things to buy, so I’ve been ordering vast quantities of seed beads, tubing and labeling them, and then getting them organized. Same goes for firepolish beads, crystals, needles, yada, yada….

We also have some (a lot of “some”) finishing touches to the house remodel. Like hiding all the unpacked boxes we have yet to find homes for. But to hide the boxes, we had to clean out the garage because there was no place to walk in there, let alone hide things. So that’s what Mom and I did all day today – and now we have a pile roughly the size of Mount Everest in our driveway for the Salvation Army to take away. Once upon a time, we’d planned to make money off it and actually have a Garage Sale. But then we got over it. The problem is, Salvation Army said on the phone today that they had room in the truck they were sending out for about 20 boxes. HAHAHAHAHAhahahaha….cough, gasp. So whatever THEY don’t take, we hope the neighbors steal overnight. Because we need that crap, er, stuff, gone by Saturday!

Want any of this? Please? Car not included.

I’ve also got a big wholesale order I’m trying to get out the door by Friday, which involved making kits because I was out of some. I still haven’t done any of the printing on that. I have to make a special trip to the fixtures store for hooks for my slat wall because when Mom stopped by there Tuesday to buy them, they were out of stock. Of course! So they had them brought in from the San Antonio store. Nothing like doing an errand twice. My last box of seed beads will not be arriving until Thurs or Fri, so Mom and I will be labeling like crazy at the last minute. Oh! And I’m also supposed to be updating the instructions for the Beaducation videos and sending those out, as well as deciding on 3 kit colorways for my class on Dec. 11th, because I gotta get those beads ordered like yesterday.

Meanwhile, proving that delusions are hereditary, Mom thinks she’s going to bake brownies and cookies and stuff for the Open House, do all the Christmas decorating, help clean the house, and help label the seed beads, and install the knobs on her bathroom cabinets.

Down time. Yeah.

BABE report

Bead people are SO MUCH FUN! I’ve discovered it over and over again as I travel to new places from coast to coast and it makes me happy. We share passion for color and texture and beautiful things. We have a joie de vivre that shows in our faces and interactions. We have a common language. A special “handshake” (consisting of going straight to the jewelry one is wearing and exclaiming upon it.) It’s no wonder I adore bead shows so much!

And the BABE show in Oakland, California was no exception. I was able to hang out with some of my most favorite people on Earth – fellow bead teachers that live all across the country. I made new friends as well. And who knew how awesome the food was in Oakland??!! I had some of the most tasty meals I’ve ever encountered! It’s hard for this Texas girl to admit the best Mexican food I have ever eaten was at Tamarindo in Oakland!

But let me tell you – this show was also not my finest organizational moment! I forgot: the tablecloth, the boxes that I use to make my riser, the credit card machine, my hair dryer with the diffuser (essential for a curly haired girl), and the display for my 2mm Swarovski crystals. AGH!!!! So I borrowed a tablecloth, used some aluminum pans from a store across the street to make a faux riser, hand wrote all the credit card transactions, and air dried my hair. The 2mm crystals stayed in my bag instead of being sold. I know…you are all thinking “Packing list!” Yeah. I know.

Monday I spent sadly saying farewell to my hotel roomie, Barb Switzer, who was the best roomie ever, and then driving across the bay to Redwood City where I will be hanging out another week. Tuesday brings my first filming day for my online video classes with Beaducation. Eeek! I’d better go get some beauty sleep!

I will leave you with a variety of photos from this weekend’s show…

Lavinia Touchton, Jill Wiseman, and Peggy Goldblatt. Some of my favorite students turned friends!

Tracy Stanley, Jill Wiseman, and Janice Berkebile adopting “The Pose”

Nikia Angel caught me working hard!

Beaducators gather together! Tracy Stanley, Jill Wiseman, Kate Richbourg, Dallas Lovett, Barb Switzer, Colin Mahler, Janice Berkebile, and Lisa Claxton