Goodbye FusionBeads.com

Does anyone really need to say that 2020 is the darkest timeline? I’m doing my best to hold on to the things for which I’m thankful—having a job, having the studio and a house big enough to give the unicorn and me enough space to give each other plenty of alone time and having a lifetime of craft supplies in the studio.

One of the small (not small?!) changes that has bummed me out is the closing of FusionBead.com. The store and the site have been a constant in my life for the last 10 years. They have been around longer than that, but I only found them once I started making jewelry.

They announced in late January of this year that change was afoot and that the goal for 2020 was to “embrace change and grow in new directions.” On March 18 came another email saying they were downsizing their selection. And then, on May 11, came the email saying they were closing. I’m trying to not think too much about how things might have been different for Fusion Beads had there been no virus. (Note: I’m well aware that this long lament pales in comparison to all of the woes others are experiencing right now. This is just my goodbye to a business that has meant a lot to me.)

Ever since I began making jewelry, Fusion Beads has been my favorite source for beads and beading supplies. (When the store was open, it was important to differentiate between Fusion Beads and FusionBeads.com. For ease, I’m going to use Fusion Beads from here on out.)

I took so many classes there. Several of the employees knew me by name. The store was bright and colorful and welcoming, and I loved it. Even though I bought a lot of beads from FB online while the store was open, there was still something so nice about looking at beads in person and finding items I didn’t know that I needed or wanted.

Once the store closed, I supported the website to the best of my ability—and the insane amount of beads on my shelves are proof .

I’ve placed my final order from the site, and it’s not a great feeling. I know there are still other places to buy beads—even in Washington. I can’t shake the feeling that with the market not a reality for me this summer and and Fusion Beads closing, it’s some kind of message or sign for my business. I know that’s pure silliness, but it’s all part of the weirdness that is this year.

These photos are such a small representation of the classes I took. There were resin classes, an etching class, a twisty-wire-wrappy necklace, one with the Ricks beading loom and so many more. Fusion Beads. You were loved. You will be missed!

I did not make these in a class, but I turned to FusionBeads.com for these patterns.

Pandemic musings

Funny, I remember when the shelter-in-place order took effect. I thought that my often-longed-for dream of a non-permanent-record-marring house arrest might have come true. The reality is that I’ve been really busy with work and distracted enough that my creativity is a little sluggish.

It’s only right to kick things off with a little love.

One craft I’ve gotten back to is cross stitch. I think that following a pattern offers up some comfort right now. I stitched this Godzilla, the word “vote” and I’ve picked up a rooster pattern for the first time in a long time.

Godzilla in need of a little ironing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have made some original pieces. I’ve stocked up on pressed-flower jewelry and more, hoping to be well prepared for next year’s market season. Although, I seem to be good at making pendants, but am struggling with doing what needs to be done to complete a project. Over the past few months I’ve dabbled with my gelli plate, polymer clay, micro mosaics and more.

I also nearly lost my mind when I saw that I could get a mold for keycaps. So after a good month of waiting, it showed up. Judge the results for yourself.

Even if I smoosh in the bottom piece to make the keycap Cherry MX switch compatible, I can’t get it to sit down far enough so that the keycap will fit on a switch. I’m left with resin that oozes out and a keycap that doesn’t work on the switch. I’ll give it a few more tries, but until then, marbling and other tiny embellishments for pre-made keycaps are my friends. Hey, what about a very tiny mosaic on top of a keycap? It’s worth a try.

The long weekend is a mere two days away, and I’m dreaming of locking myself into my studio and making all kinds of good things.

Hopefully what I make will inspire another post. Fingers crossed!

Moving trucks and wedding bells

Hello strangers. It’s been a long time, right? Oh well … onward and upward.

It’s the 6th day of October, and I’ve had to abandon all hopes of participating in Inktober. Maybe some day. Just not any of the 31 days of this month. If I can’t blog regularly, I have no business giving myself a new daily task. That said, I’m still harboring the hope that I can take on NaNoWriMo. Some ideas have been rattling around in my brain, and I think the exercise of daily creative writing would be good for me.

But, back to the now. Since I last had anything to say, the unicorn and I bought a house. We have a grand deck, big yard and a studio space in the back yard. At around 800-sq-ft, it’s truly an amazing studio space. I’m not sure how I ever packed all of my sh … stuff into either the condo or the rental house.

Studio friends.

Now that we have a yard, it’s fun to have yard decorations. We have three pieces of beautiful glass art and 25 flamingoes in various colors and life stages.

We’ve also met — and like — our neighbors. This cutie is one of my favorites. I might even be able to forgive the tomato thieving and digging up of my plants. Yesterday she ran up to me as if to say “hi.” It took a lot of self control to not reach out to pet her. Man, do I miss having a pet.

I’ve had some vacation days since the move that have been spent in the studio, and they’ve been heavenly. Really I cannot say enough how thankful I am.

To round out our history of doing things kind of backwards and at our own pace, we got married. It’s something I never thought the unicorn would ever want to do. People have asked what it’s like to be married, and the truth is that it all feels the same. The only difference is that I say “husband” now.

The market season is nearly done. Only three more Saturdays — and chances are I’ll only be there for two of them. It’s amazing how quickly these past six months have passed. Oh, I’ll be vendor of the week next week. All is really means is that I’ll get a sign in front of my booth. And maybe the unicorn will come and spend some time with me.

I’s the season for Halloween jewelry.

Enough of the personal stuff. Let’s get to the goodies! I’ve been making things when I can. Especially because (and thanks to a kiln-enameling class) I got an enameling kiln. I want to enamel all the live-long day. It’s so much fun!

Seattle-inspired enameled pieces.

I’ve also been making journals, stringing beads and making many bracelets with my Endless Loom. That is an addiction to be sure.

After some stumbling blocks with keycaps, I had to dust myself off, do some R&D and get back to it. I think I’m ready to ready to put more in my Etsy shop and try some new things.

And now it’s time to finish the last of my Sunday chores so that I can get to playing/making for the rest of the day!

Art & Soul 2019 — Portland

This past March I spent four days in Portland taking classes at Art & Soul. I hadn’t been in about five years, and it was great to be back. I recognize how fortunate I am in being able to drive to Portland and simply put all of my supplies in the back of my car.

This year I was able to check off some bucket-list classes including the two-day class on using a Dremel and a polymer clay class with Laurie Mika.

I shared this image last time, but imho it’s worth showing again.

The Dremel class was a good introduction to a tool I’ve had for more than a decade but have barely used. We etched glass, plastic and metal. We cut metal and clay and plastic. I think you could layer polymer clay and carve into (or away from) it and get a faux Fordite look.

I know that it’s a poor craftsperson who blames her tools, but my Dremel is so old, that I only have two speeds. I’d like to get one with “medium,” as that’s the setting the instructor most often said to use. Will that make a difference in my work? It’s hard to say. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I just need more practice.

At the end we made a small book for keeping all of our samples. And, our kit fee included a great set of bits and bobs for doing all kinds of things. I need to break that out and play with it some more before everything I learn fades away for good.

On the third day I took the clay class “Miniature Clay Quilts.” I’ve had Laurie Mika’s book Mixed-Media Mosaics for awhile and have always been smitten with her work. Plus, I’ve found a lack of polymer clay classes in this area, so I was glad to get some instruction in that medium.

We started out by making several pieces to assemble.
More clay elements from which to choose.

What I love most about my mini clay quilt is the Harry Frees cat with the basket of eggs. What’s especially great is that Walden loves this piece. We’ll have to find a good place to display it in the new house.

I can’t get into my new studio space soon enough to start using what I learned to make some pendants.

On my last full day of classes I had a book-as-art class. I was originally signed up for a class that would use tin shingles for book covers. That instructor had to cancel, so I opted for the other available book class. I was one of three students, which was actually kind of nice. We made two scroll books and something that is a more three-dimensional bit of book art.

Here’s a top down view of my book. See Sally on the phone on the left? She’s asking her dad for cookies. She’s my kind of kid.
Same book and from the side. Oh, those imperfections are painful.

I can see where I went wrong with this one, but, overall, I’m OK with it. Would I make another? It could be fun to make one for a specific special occasion with a book that lends itself to the occasion or person. I’ll have to think on that.

My last class was an evening class that I did not care for. (I might have even packed up my stuff early and left in a huff.) Maybe I’ve poured too much resin in my life to have an instructor who doesn’t offer any tips for students who have zero experience with resin. They were overpouring. Pieces were set in trays at an angle, which led to an overflow. There was no explanation of best practices for putting resin on the sides of something. I mean: Gravity! Pooling! Frustration!!

The woman next to me had never worked with resin before and said she likely wouldn’t work it again. I tried to offer some tips, but also didn’t want to be a know-it-all.

So, in a fit of frustration, I left early, got my nightly glass of wine and called it a night.

I did start this before packing up and leaving class.

My friend and I headed home the next day. Right away I started looking forward 2020’s week of classes. In fact, the schedule was recently posted online. Now I just need to make some decisions. I feel strongly about bezels and papier mache. I’ll fill in the rest with at least one journal-making class. Maybe one with watercolor and one that gets me out of my comfort zone.

Collage had a “store” at the hotel, and one of my favorite finds was a bunch of jukebox song slips/cards/papers. And this one is the best find of all.

To bridge the long wait, I have my eye on a kiln-enameling class in Seattle. But, in my new space I can play and play and play. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t find inspiration in such a large and dedicated work space.

Crafting on the move

Another year. Another market season. Another move.

Here’s me, slow, slow … just plodding along with the things I have to do. (I don’t want to wear sequins, but this little guy pulls it off nicely.)

While the passing of time and ebb and flow of the market season are familiar companion by now, it’s a little stressful to think about moving again.

I’m glad we kept the boxes from last year. I’m glad we kept some boxes packed. I’m glad I’ve been able to do some downsizing. It’s a shame it’s been counteracted with some acquisitions. But, I’m especially glad to be able to say that the beau (let’s call him Walden; my dad does) and I are buying a house – something I wasn’t sure he ever wanted to do or that I’d want to do again. But living among unhung art, unpacked boxes and the ever-present question of “Where is X?” finally got to us.

We kept joking that we needed a small living space with two big studio spaces. Well, we found it. Or it found us. Or, we met in the middle. The kitchen is small. The closets are not quite closets, and I’ve never thought so much about closets in my life so much so that it feels like an obsession! But, but … the glorious outbuilding in back is huge! It has power and ceiling fans and is 100% nicer than any she shed I could imagine. I mean, it’s an honest-to-goodness building that will make for a fabulous studio space for both us. I will have a series of stations for the following: painting, book binding, resin pouring, jewelry making, photography and more. I will be able to set up my easel. I can’t even get my head around that. Having order in my craft world seems like too much to ask, but it’s a goal.

Plus, running the width of the house is a workshop meant for tinkering. Walden hasn’t fully unpacked his tools in nearly half a decade. Now he’ll need more tools to do that space justice.

And the deck … oh, the giant deck. I like to say that it’s “ri-deck-ulous. It, too, runs the width of the house. It will be perfect for morning coffee, afternoon reading that leads to naps and evening dinners and can easily accommodate us and 50 of our closest friends.

We also like to talk about having a library of sorts. We have a double-door room, which has evolved into the Dumbledore room, that gets a lot of natural light. I think it will be a great spot for reading when it’s too hot or too cold outside. For me that’s between 68-74 degrees.

I admit that the house isn’t perfect. It needs some love (don’t we all), but we’re excited to pick out some paint colors, make some changes and call it home. Our home. I have to smile.

Until we’re moved in, I’m working around stacked boxes, disheveled supplies and cluttered spaces. Hey, that sounds—and looks—like the same-ol’, same-ol’.

Until I can document the new place, here are some bits and bobs that have taken up my time since my last post, which was far too long ago.

I made this at Art and Soul in March. Why didn’t I do a post about that?!
Bullseye “Fordite” from a Corvette plant. Ohh …
Oh how I heart this journal cover. I like how two different sprays create the look of off-set printing. Sadly, the finished product keeps giving me fits. And, I have a hard time setting the sprays so that they don’t run when I want to seal them.