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.

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!