A basic truth — or two

Oh the randomness! I printed out these images on shrink film years ago. Yesterday seemed like the right time to shrink them. In fact, I have a few more to shrink today.

The first basic truth about me is that sometimes I feel down, less than inspired because my crafty obsessions are pointless. I’m not so self-absorbed to think I’m alone. It’s just that sometimes I want to steep in it. And so when I wrote the draft of this post on Friday, my capital-BT Basic Truth was that Im a foolish time-wasting hack.

It’s nearly 24 hours later, and I’m feeling better (never mind the wish that I had all of next week off). Morgan has been ill, and that gave me time to dig into a few things. And, it helped boost my spirits, if not my confidence. So, take the below words for what they are: a snapshot of a moment, of a mood.

Here’s a basic truth about me: My day-to-day existence is nothing if not a roller coaster ride of feeling pretty good about myself and feeling rather down on myself. I know that doesn’t set me apart from anyone or make me special in any way.

I’m guessing that, like most people, it’s something I think about only when I’m in a “less than” frame of mind. You know, those days when you question yourself, your worth, your skills … your everything.

On the good days, I’m too busy making stuff and bouncing from idea to project and back again to think about myself. I’m busy thinking about beads, paint, paper, pens — pretty much all of the supplies.

So, how to harness the feelings of the good days? Or, how to ignore the doubt-filled messages that scroll through my head.

I’ve tried books. I recently finished Real Artists Don’t Starve. And then there was Make it Mighty Ugly that inspired me about two years ago. I really need to get to Life Without Envy. I have high hopes that there will be some message in there that works its way into my brain and becomes so deeply rooted that I can become one of those people who moves through the world with confidence and ease, not once surrendering to fear and skepticism.

I can say that, even at my lowest, I still manage to make things, even if I am unhappy with the results.

This bracelet, for example, is something I worked on despite being fearful that the result wouldn’t be perfect.

Sorry for the blurriness. This bracelet was too ashamed to be on the Internet, and this was the best I could do.

Even before I reached the halfway mark, I knew that I needed ot see it to completion, no matter how arbitrary that decision might have been. It’s a simple peyote stitch around a metal bangle. Those Delicas should be a uniform size, so I’m not sure why some rows stick out a little more than others. Oh well … It’s affixed and stitched up, and it is what it is.

I’m still thinking about soldering. Still trying to solder. Here are some of my most recent attempts. It is amazing how just a little practice makes a big difference. I also need to remember that burnishing is my friend. That said, I’ve burnished until my hand cramped, and the foil was still lifting. I wonder if my iron is getting too hot. Do I need a rheostat, which books and some online sources say I should have. Sigh…

Today I mostly worked with fused glass, broken “china” and some random titles. Here they are, waiting to be soldered.
Soldered. There is some lifting of the foil. There just awaiting jump rings. Ugh! Adding those is my least favorite part.
Jump rings — in all of their wabi sabi glory. The fused glass piece wit the copper back has me hankering for some affordable black-backed copper tape.
Is it some kind of sign that this glass cracked twice will making this. And always on the “Just be you” side. I finally got it to work. Whew…

Here are two keycap caps that I stitched up a couple of weeks ago. These I love, no matter how anyone else feels about them. They’re silly and make me smile.

Morgan suggested the bead to look like a ball on top of a knit hat. He’s very clever like that!
I am so smitten with this tiny pussy hat!

Speaking of keycaps, I have some new tools to put to use with keycaps: tiny stencils! I used them on keycaps and a few resin pendant.

Hold me closer tiny stencils …


Until then, here’s another basic truth (and then some!) about me.

• I’m a horrible housekeeper.

• I’m a decent baker and OK cook

• My feet are happiest in tennis shoes — after being barefoot, of course.

• I have a lot of bathroom rules. (Just ask Morgan.)

• I’m OK moving from baking to feet talk.

• There is no greater comfort than just being with Morgan. (Here’s one of his personal truths: No matter how motion sick he might be feeling, is is a rock, comforting me while I feel the same. Damn, I love that man!)

• I like making lists.

• I really like taking classes. And this week the universe is tormenting me with classes I would love to take, but can’t because there’s full or too far away.

There’s a class at Art and Soul in Portland this week that’s being taught by Laurie Mika about embellishing polymer clay that been put in molds. Man I’d love to have those skills – or boost the limited clay skills I have. Then, I visited Tracy Stanley’s site and after not have posted anything since last August, she has a relatively new post about classes she’ll be teaching in Milwaukee at the Bead and Button Show in June. It’s kind of breaking my heart to be missing those classes. She is local, however. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll find a place to offer them in the Pac NW.

All of that pining aside, I often find that trying to figure out something that I can’t learn in a classroom setting helps fire up my creativity.

If you have a basic truth — or two or 12, I’d love to hear from you.

Until then, enough with the navel gazing, it’s time to get back to making things.

Crafting rabbit hole

This is one of the first pieces I made that made me feel like an artist.

This week I went down a craft-related rabbit hole. Twice! On the same day! It wasn’t the typical kind of rabbit hole in which one project/idea leads to another which leads to another project/idea and on and on until it’s time to go to bed. No, this rabbit hole was born from my commitment to sort through books and magazine before the imminent move.

There are so many beautiful projects in this book. (The Costco price tag is a nice touch, too.)
First, I was looking at my copy of the book The Art of Forgotten Things by Melissa Doerman. (I am certain that when I bought it, some five or six years ago, that I wasn’t ready for those projects. While I’m not certain that I’m ready now, I feel certain that I can at least try about few things.) I love the look of the ribbon links, but I do not understand all of the steps. It could be that I just need to try it and see how it works. You know, like turning a heel on a sock. No matter how many times I do it, it’s still nothing shy of pure magic!
Anywho, I thought to myself, “Why not google her and see if there’s a way to reach her and ask about it.” I found that she’d died. Right around (or just before) the time her book came out. I don’t know her age, but she looked way too young to have died. (That’s a stupid thing to say, and I know it.) Anywho, I found several mentions of her online in remembrances. She seemed to have been loved and admired. I think that’s all that most of us can hope for.
Because I’m ready to try some of the bead-weaving techniques presented in the book, that one is a keeper. I also looked through a metal techniques book during the same lunch out. My passion does not like in working with metal, but there were just enough tips and good ideas to make that book a keeper, too.
This book lead me on a second wild goose chase done the rabbit hole. (I dig that mixed metaphor.)
I stumbled into the second rabbit hole later that night when I decided to look at Sally Jean Alexander’s Pretty Little Things. I took a soldering class with her years ago at my first Art and Soul. I’ll be honest, I was pulling some single-white-female action on my friend Jonna who was (is) a Sally Jean fan. It was the time when soldering was all the rage. I’d also taken a class at Fusion Beads around that time. Even though I had (still have!) all the fixin’s for soldering, it was something I never dabbled in on my own. Now that its no longer *the* craft to do, I’m ready to get back to it. Classic me. (I think I’ll have some time on Sunday to give it a go — if not a small bit of time this afternoon. As I recall, it was attaching jump rings that really broke my spirit. Let’s see how my patience holds up five years later. Will my flux still be good? So much remains to be revealed, and I’m looking forward to this new/old/new craft adventure!)
My first attempts at soldering in many years. Adding a jump ring is still maddening.
Anywho, because soldering isn’t the “hot” trend it was back then, I wondered to myself: “What is Sally Jean Alexander up to these days? Is soldering still her main thing?” I went to her site/blog, and it hasn’t been updated since 2013.
One link that does work on the site is the link to Mr. Sally Jean’s Etsy store for cut class. It’s taking a lot of self control to not reach out to him and ask, politely, for answers. In my search for answers I found some complaints online about no services/products for money given to her. There was also a suggested search of “What happened to Sally Jean Alexander?” so I can’t be the only one to wonder.
I am genuinely curious and truly hope that she’s well and just in need of some quiet time. Being the youngest in my family and having an MLS means I feel it’s my birthright to know what I want to know.
But, thinking about Melissa and Sally Jean got me thinking about celebrity, even craft-world celebrity, trends and what it really means to be a published author. What about this world of (over)sharing and how people like me start to feel like we know people through blogs and social media posts when we don’t know them at all. At best we know of them and of their work.
In any event, my tumble down that rabbit hole left me thinking that everything is so fleeting. Isn’t it?
So, add to the goals of being loved and admired/respected, the goal of doing what you love and having that be enough. (hmm … the German world for aim or goal is Ziel. Does the English zeal come from that? And what part does one’s zeal affect one’s Ziel?)
This piece needs one more finishing touch before I make it into a book/journal cover.
The lesson of letting the satisfaction of creating be enough is one I still struggle to master. Just last night the boyfriend and I talked about some collages I’d done. I won’t lie, I’d love it if he loved everything I do, but I know that’s not really the ideal. I’d much rather that he be honest about what he likes and why some things don’t speak to him. He isn’t really my customer, so I need to learn to hear his thoughts without feeling deflated. I need to learn to hear *everyone’s* thoughts without feeling crushed if there’s not a glowing review (or purchase). People like what they like and that’s the bottom line.
Pink and green plus animal print? Yes, please!
That is not to say that my learning journey is done and I can be satisfied with the knowledge I have now. I intend to keep growing, keep expanding my skill set and keep working on not taking everything so personally. And if people like what I do as I change and grow, great. If they don’t, it’s really OK too.
A very Brady bracelet plus some happy-color stripes.
And, for me, part of the key to accepting feedback is to keep putting my stuff in front of people. Whether it’s via the market, through Instagram posts or by posting pictures here, it’s a good exercise.

It’s keycap time

Letter-row key with a cherry switch.

It’s keycap time, and isn’t it great. (To be sure, that’s to be sung to the tune of Three Beat Slide’sSummtertime is Great“. (I hope you listen and learn to love them as much as I do.)

Anywho, back to keycap time. After taking a break from keycaps, I knew it was time to get back to it. Seeing as how the keycaps with tiny flowers or leaves have been the most popular, I decided to focus on those.
I’ve added six to my Etsy store, with another five or six that need to be photographed and added as well.
WASD top-row key with a cherry switch and a tiny Johnny Jump Up.
Top-row key with a cherry switch.
Looking at all of my tiny flowers has be longing for spring and summer to have blooms ready for the picking. I’m not eager for the heat of summer, but oh how I love seeing pretty and colorful flowers right outside of my front door.
The month is not quite half full, and I already feel like my goals for 2018 have fallen to the way side. Maybe they have. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. Who can know? When pressed, I will always opt for shouldering the blame of being a slacker/phony, etc. (Is it as tiring to read those words as it is to write them?)
That said, I am plugging away at loomwork projects. In fact, two sold already. (Yay!!)
After an hour spent looking at journal-making videos on youtube this past Sunday evening, I decided that I needed to try something new.
So, I tried a junk journal, pamphlet-stitch journal with more than just plain paper and an accordion spine journal with signatures. All of them have imperfections, but as I’ve said before, I’m OK with prototypes.
My first attempt at an accordion-fold spine.
It took me longer than it should have to realized how I can use board game for collage substrates. They’re good and stiff, which means no buckling or bending. 

The inside of the altered book with the pamphlet stitch. I decided to stitch right through the spine instead creating an “insert” that I would later attach.
The inside of my first real junk journal. For this one I stapled the signatures and glued them in. Overall, this one has its charms.
Regarding books, I’m having trouble just pick them out for review. Horrible!
Maybe I need to start with some easier decisions. I have some boardgames that need to make their way to my Goodwill pile. Speaking of boardgames, I found this Charlie’s Angels board under my desk. It will make for two great covers!
I also looked, with much envy, at the website for San Fancisco’s Center for the Book. Why doesn’t Seattle have such a thing? Their classes look great. I was lying in bed wondering how to make their core certificate classes a reality. Right now I don’t have any answers. I might as well try to develop a plan to travel back in time to study book preservation in library school. I do kick myself for that decision, but then again, all of my decisions led me to where I am. So, make of that what you will.
(Maybe the next time I have a $1,000 burning a hole in my pocket, I’ll head to SF to day a four-day intensive. Ok, that does sound a little easier than time travel. There just won’t be time to travel there for the next session in March.)
I am also making slow, but semi-steady, progress on going through books and magazines. Deciding on whether or not to keep a magazine is the easier decision. However, the first two issues of Bead and Button that I picked up were relevant to things I’d recently been looking into: a review of looms and a story about the various options of pattern-making software. Funny how the information finds you once you’re ready.
Speaking of things finding you, a quick trip to Goodwill this past Saturday resulted in a fun board game find, to great books and a jar of beads. It was spendy for a Goodwill purchase, but I could tell there were enough real pearls to make it worth my while. I spent a good part of yesterday sorting them all out. And, several strands of plastic beads will make their way back to Goodwill.


The chalice of beads.
A pre-sorting look at my bounty.
It was fascinating to see the broken pieces that people gave away rather than fixing.
Sorting complete! The beads on the mat are all glass or real pearls. I love the green pearls!
These are the plastic beads that I found worth saving. Might be fun to use them with one of my bead looms.

Welcome 2018! A new year of possibilities.

I’ve had the tiger-stipe pencils since I ordered them from Circus Fun cereal about 30 years ago. The other is from a set of pencils with quotes from/designed by the artist Karen Finley. I’ve had this one since the mid-90s.
It’s nothing shy of confounding that another year has passed and a new year is upon us. Yet here I am, simultaneously welcoming 2018 and hoping that I remember to write the right year on my checks sometime before March.
I’m not a resolutions kind of gal, but I am the kind of person to mull over thoughts, ideas and goals.
This is my list of goals — in no particular order.
1. Make better use of social media for the stuff I make.
2. Be consistent with my blog and taking process photos, not just final-product photos.
3. Work ahead on items for the market.
4. Drop five pounds (at the very least).
5. Workg in a sketchbook/art journal regularly.
6. Keep my Etsy store in better shape.
7. Make more keycaps.
Is that a lucky No. 7 or a lazy-not-quite 10?
There are so many things that I want to do/tackle/make/learn. But 2018 will be, if nothing else, a year for focus.
The beau and I are committed to the idea of cohabitating. That means packing up my small store-worth of various art and craft supplies—including books and magazines—and putting much of it in storage for a month or more.
I’ve actually started the process of sorting and tidying in my craft room. It’s a surprisingly satisfying process, and I only wish I had more time to do so and the discipline to keep everything organized.
Part of tidying meant testing a box full of pens and markers. I tossed out all of these, which seems like more pens than most people own.
Here are some fun finds during the tidying.
I found a whole pack of beads and a Klutz bead loom bracelet from many years ago. That’s totally the the wrong bead thread. I’m wondering if there’s a way to save it.
I also found a tiny paper clay book and to glass cabochons. The cabs need to find their way into some beaded pendants.
These kinds of cleaning binges always result in my finding cabs or other pieces that have been waiting to be turned into something great. How could I have let that “Joy” cab languish for so long?
Because the sale of my place and subsequent renting of a “together” place will possibly disrupt time typically used for making items for the market, I’m making a commitment to be very good about #3 on the list. I’ve already started some more dried-flower pendants. I even broke out some plain wooden bangles and have started painting some and decoupaging others.
Bangles painted and decoupaged. Of course that green — with a coat of glitter — is my favorite.
More decoupage and paint. The one with the green dots will see some stamp action. But which stamp?
Plus, in the week leading up to Christmas, I had some crazy insomnia and one of those nights/early mornings I started thinking about the Jewel Loom that I purchased more than a year ago. So, after watching a few videos and digging out the book Julianna Avelar wrote about using the Jewel Loom, I made some bracelets. On Christmas Eve I took those three bracelets over to the family’s Eastside compound and my mom declared that all three were hers. Of course I’m fine with that. I only regret not having photographed them for a little bit of blog show-and-tell.
Here are some other Jewel Loom pieces that I have (mostly) completed in the last few days. The beau loves the “chicklet”-like shape of the tile beads and is encouraging me to make more.
The one in the middle is still on the Jewel Loom. They all make me happy.
I know that soon I’ll need to step away from projects with bigger beads and do something with some size 11 Delicas. (I can’t help but have flashbacks to my Rick’s Beading Loom “dropped” beads. They funny thing is, I should be able to do the same kind of loom projects on both looms.) I’ve been trying to decide what kind of pattern might interest me. Should I design something fancy or stick to something simple?
What is it about the Jewel Loom that I love so much? I’m not sure. I know that I could make some off-loom bracelets with the same look, but the claw clasps  give these pieces a finished look that I can’t get with off-loom stitching. And when you have to tie all of the leather warp threads together, the beads at the top bunch up and pop out to one side or the other, which makes a girl like me kind of batty (battier?). So for now, I’m a Jewel Loom gal.
Two random notes: I really do need to make more keycaps. I’m trying out some Daniel Smith watercolor ground to see how that would work on the top of a keycap but underneath resin. Unfortunately, the only kind I have is titanium white. This bottle is so old that they might not have had translucent when I first wanted to try the product. (That might be a lie. Maybe I just didn’t know to look. However, the bottle is a good five years old or so, which means my test might not be happening under ideal conditions.)
I sent in my second batch of Art-o-mat pieces, too. The first round all sold out, which was (is!) a huge thrill for me! Again, being a planner, part of me feels that I should go ahead and make more to not be in a position of scrambling when (if) some more sell. Again, who knows what supplies I’ll have access to when that time comes.
One last aspect of moving-prep in the new year is going through my many books and magazines. Once upon a time I imagined that I’d do one book review a week. Prepping for the move feels like a good time to revisit that idea. I just don’t know where to start. And what should those reviews entail? Trying some of the projects? Just giving the text and photos a good, long look?
There’s still time to decide, I know. Even though books seem like the easiest thing to box up first, the thought of moving things that I’ll end up discarding drives me more than a little crazy. I went from moving so often throughout my life up until my mid-30s that I’ve lost that muscle memory. However, I really look forward to working in whatever well-lit work space I’ll have knowing that MF (one of his many nicknames) is just a room or two away.
No matter what, change is afoot in this new year, and my arms are open wide to embrace it all!

Beating myself up while plagued with self doubt

I only just tried the pamphlet stitch. Small potatoes for people who make journals regularly. Truly a game changer for me. How I love having stitched signatures *and* a pristine spine.

Welcome to the last day of November. I’m making and making myself crazy with worries and self doubt.

Before I continue, here’s my full disclosure. I didn’t sleep well at all last night. And the night before I woke up at 3:20 and could not get back to sleep. Those aren’t ideal conditions for trying to write a lot of coherent words. That said, I’m going to aim for just words. With my love of/penchant for typos, just getting real words on the page is enough for me.

It seems like just a week ago or so ago I had visions of adding more items to my Etsy shop. Now I understand that it might not happen. Another selling season lost.
I’m committing myself to getting my business-owner act together next year. I’ll spend December concocting a plan. That will be good food for thought while I finish up some remaining Christmas presents.

(Warning: rambling ahead! When I tried to post this page, the bots told me I didn’t write enough. Geez, even the robots know I’m a slacker, that my work could be better.

I dislike the litany of not enough time, frustration of wrestling with decent photographs, day job getting in the way. Why is sleep important? Why is me-time (not to be confused with me Lucky Charms) important? Why can’t I get away from my desk for regular lunch breaks? That would help, right? Maybe…

And is my title a lie? Am I really plagued with self doubt? I’m truly obsessed with maximizing my time. Or, wanting more time to maximize. I know I can make a lot of things: I’m really busy. And, I can make some cool things. It’s the damn business side. So I’m back to thinking about whether or not I’m ready to do the work. I tell myself I am. But my actions reveal another truth.

I also have to wonder. Is not putting items online a way to protect myself? I mean, if something isn’t available in my Etsy store, then it will never be rejected. Neat, huh?!

So, it’s not self doubt. Fear of failure—or fear of success—might be the better diagnosis. I can hear Morgan saying: That’s why you should never do anything. He’s joking of course. I think.

{I can also hear him laughing over my saying that with current events what they are, I’d rather listen to podcasts about murderers and cults than the news.}

[Look at all of these parentheses. What say we treat these musing like a math problem.

Ready for the answer?

I’m going to channel Douglas Adams and say 42.])

Speaking of Christmas gifts, which I was before the bots got into my head and made my keep typing to reach a specific word count, how much do you love these journals made from an old Six Million Dollar Man board game? I really love them!

And, a looong meeting in a packed room (where I sat in back with the bad kids) gave me nearly three hours to dabble in sketches/doodles.

why are knees and feet so weird?
Why haven’t I done a bead-embroidered hedgehog yet? Then a snail!! Sequins for the shell? Maybe… the weird bit to the upper left is the argyle wrinkles a man had on the back of his neck.

Hey, I’m not saying I’m one of the greats, all I’m saying is that it’s good to keep practicing. (I mean, that leg looks reasonably like a human leg. Now I need to work on the rest of the body.)

After being so excited about the pamphlet stitch, I started to wonder, again, if I’ve reached a point where I like making notebooks and journals more than I like filling them. I know I’d love art journaling. Add it to my new year to-do list.

I popped into Goodwill this past weekend to look for books that would provide good “bones” for some pamphlet-stitch journals. I came away with three solid options, including this book with this inscription. Oh how that made me smile.

Not only do I want to get to stitching signatures together and onto some kind of substrate, but I recently discovered  junk journals. I am so late to that party that the lights are up and the host is cleaning up.) Of course I want to make one—or 10–and an organizing project coincided with a search for “junk” to include in said journal.

That means stitching. I also want to try an easy one with staples to hold the signatures together and glue to hold the signatures in. Making journals and doing bead embroidery are the key to a happy creative life for myself. I need to keep finding time for both of those things. Wait!!! How about a paper mache joyrnal cover with some bead embellishments??!! See, lots of fun ideas. Certainly more ideas than time.

Staplers! Another goal is to buy a fat notebook and staple all of my receipts into it. I always say I’ll be more organized in the new year. 2018 is the year I make it so. This time next year you can look for a post titled “How a long-reach stapler changed my life.”

Look! I made it to 900 words. That beefier word count is another focus for the new year. I’ll keep giving in to the bots in hopes that they’ll reward me richly.