Sunday, August 28, 2016

Makeover Time!

I'm pretty sure every beader in existence has made the mistake of using either the wrong thread or the wrong beads in a project. Either way, you end up with snapped or fraying threads when you really should have evaluated your choices better.

If you're like me (and I know you are), one or more of these broken projects end up hidden at the bottom of your supplies somewhere. Sometimes they stay there for years before you either rip it apart entirely to salvage the beads or just toss it out. Most of you delude yourselves into thinking you will one day fix the piece(s). I also find it difficult to return to those old ideas and refashion them into something more fitting with my current style. It's hard, especially if you've moved on. But sometimes, giving an old piece a new look is worth the effort.

Here is an example that I've recently re-completed.

Three Teared Asymmetrical Necklace. 2005ish-2006ish.
(Lauren Pinson Photography)
This necklace is a decade old, guys. A whole ten years it's been in my life. That's roughly 2/3 of my entire beading career. 

(Sort of) close up of problem area.
This is the general area where the piece broke. Please forgive the awful blurriness of my cropped image, as it turns out I have no detailed photo of this portion of the original necklace. Let's just suffice it to say that Nymo thread and sharp edged hex beads done up in right angle weave was not a smart choice in the long run. As you can tell, the whole piece was an experiment in asymmetry, which I was really into at the time. No so much anymore, as evidenced by my makeover version:

Final version. 2015.

I'm much happier with how it looks now! I still love the asymmetry of the pendant itself, but simplified the neck strap by a boatload. I just made simple interconnected rings using the original beads, and the black chain is doubled back on itself for the appropriate thickness. Not pictured is a silver plated lobster clasp instead of the original button and loop closure.

My teenage self tried to get over complicated. This just goes to show that mom is always right. K.I.S.S Keep it simple stupid. It took me YEARRRRSSSSS to acknowledged the fact that a pendant on a chain or cord is much nicer than a fully beaded strap that most likely gets hidden behind the neck or under long hair. I suppose this necklace was just waiting for me to grow up a little!

If you're interested in purchasing this final draft of an old design, you can buy it in my Etsy shop!

Today's book models:

House of the Wolf by M.K. Wren (In my opinion, one of the best political sci-fi books out there, and I haven't even read the second and third installments. Just found them this year. Read the first one, um, in high school.)

Strata by Terry Pratchett. (I haven't read this one yet, but it's Terry Pratchett. He's only ever disappointed me once, but I think there were special circumstances behind that. I'm super stoked about this non Discworld title though!)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remember When?

Remember when I said that I'd given up on a certain tutorial and that I'd never revisit it again? Well, JD had other ideas. Right after I wrote this post, he went and started working on the thing again. Independently. I suppose we really do think alike sometimes. Look at this beauty!!!!

You can purchase the full thing on my Craftsy shop or on my Etsy shop. Enjoy! I transferred the pdf to both my phone and my Windows Surface tablet. It is absolutely gorgeous on both! And 100% made of vectored images, so zooming in poses no problem. However, my Kindle Fire is too outdated for pretty much anything these days. :-(

I can't even describe what a relief it is to have finally finished the thing. I'm so excited to see it in print as well! I was attempting to teach a few classes this fall on campus, but if that doesn't work out, I'm definitely taking this downtown to the art museum for a second shot at getting a workshop. Wish me luck!

Oh, and I (not quite discreetly) dropped my next tutorial sketches into JD's current projects folder. He he he.

Today's listening pleasure: Nickel Creek. *sigh* I can never have enough bluegrass in my life. Secret pleasure.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Wish I Had a Green Thumb.

I do wish I were good at growing things. I once had an African violet. It died. To be fair, I didn't know that those flowers are really, really hard to keep alive. It's a good thing I'm not ready to ever attempt to care for orchids. Nope.

But a geranium should have been easy, right? Also, nope. I bought one in May from the Walmart 'nursery.' Nursed it back to life maybe. I watered it and gave it new potting soil and spread coffee grounds over it and even bought plant food for it. Look how well it was thriving a few weeks later!

My poor geranium fell victim to accidental over spray of Weed N' Feed one night when I was fertilizing my lawn. *sigh* There was no preventing the wilting and shriveling to follow. Now it's just a sad lump of former plant on my front porch:

Never fear, dear listeners! I will try again once I can afford a new plant! That's how success works, right? Learn from your failures (keep the weed killer away from the flowers) and try again. The same can be said for beading. Just be persistent!

So in the interest of growing my beading business, I am doing several things:

I am showing up to work every morning to spend a little time each day working on bead related activities. Waking up is still hard, especially after many taxing nights this week.

As you may be able to tell, I have given my blog here a face lift. My brain is geared towards purple at the moment. I changed my blog banner and my avatar icon (after several years of the last one). I have a secondary one that JD made as well that I may try, since this one is hard to read small scale. I may have him make more until we can get it right, but for right now it's universal on all my pages.

My Etsy shop is slowly coming back to life. So far, I've only edited and renewed listings for items that I still have on hand. Upcoming, I will be adding brand new work as I photograph it!

My Pinterest page is quickly growing, both in galleries of my own designs and inspirations from many, many artists around the world. It has become my go to tool for ideas and storage. I sincerely believe it has played a major role in revitalizing my own creativity. :-)

Now, to what I've been making! I've been growing as an artist. Here is an image of a three year old design:

Brick stitched cog with czech pressed leaves for petals.
I made a blue one too, just with a jump ring instead of the bead loop. Bead loops are now ugly to me. Here is one of my very latest creations:

Same basic design, just more layers. And fringe beads.

Strung on Beadalon beading wire.
The initial design was good, but it was too floppy. The added layers on each side add sturdiness to the piece. I like the contrast that the little fringe beads give to the blooms. As you might be able to tell, I've been stash busting and have used up the last of the blue ones. And now I have neither enough leaf beads or fringe beads to make more flowers. :-(

Things are looking up for me I guess. I'm just going, going, going. I even have a commission in the works and a friend agreeing to model for me in the near future (both from the same person). I'm excited. Are you?

Today's book model: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (signed!!!)

This is the best book about cucumbers you will ever read! Ever. Seriously, go read it. You can't say no to Jack Spratt being a detective. And while you're at it, go read the Thursday Next series too so I can have someone to make toast and marshmallow and time travel jokes with. Please?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

How I Motivate Myself

Are you lazy? Congrats! Me too!

Thankfully, there is a cure. It's called HARD WORK. You know, that thing none of us (including me) wants to do. Except I do. I really, really want to succeed at this thing called art. Self motivation when you're not actively seeing results is hard.

So I decided to give myself a second job. My actual money earning job is being a barista, which is, stereo-typically, my dream real world job. My pipe dream job is to make roughly $5,000/year at my work. Low expectations, I know, but I've lived below the poverty line my whole life, so this doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've forced myself into a new schedule. This includes housework as well because this new rent house I live in is massive compared to my old efficiency apartment. It stresses me out so bad. I would love to homestead like my parents did, including actually building the house on a piece of country land somewhere.

Anyway, cleaning DOES NOT come first in my life, as much as I like a clean home to work in. However, I did find this handy-ish guideline:

Shared by Brown Eyed Baker

Do you know what DOES come first? You're going to think I'm weird. Beading. That's it. Just start your day doing the thing you love. Or if you slept in and had to go to work, end your day peacefully doing the thing you love. It's a little more complicated than that because I have a hard time waking up, but that's okay.

Here's a rough outline of my days. I work generally between 12:00pm and 12:00am. It varies and so do my days. Here goes:

Wake up. Snooze. Snooze again. Slap yourself awake. Get up. Stop snoozing. Get breakfast and coffee. Maybe. Remind yourself that you have work to do and nobody is going to do it for you.

Realize how much time you lost trying to wake up. Immediately regret that you can't not be a night owl. Take whatever is left of your breakfast to your work desk for the day. Work of designated daily project until noon.

Find a good stopping point because you got way more interested in your project than you initially thought you would. Happens every time. :-) Now go play DDR for roughly 12 songs or until you break a sweat and are exhausted. This is the only form of exercise I get. Because it's a game I enjoy. Always do whatever exercise actually interests you. You'll never stick to it otherwise.

Shower and nap. Super important if you want to be rested later on. Don't forget to make your bed if you haven't already. I do it now because JD is still sleeping in it when I wake up.

Clean. Do whatever your daily task is. Catch up on others. Do your best not to put it off. Stick to it.

Out and about errands in town. Or play Ingress. Because everyone should be Enlightened. 

Do whatever. It's your day off.

Most of my shifts start at 3:30, so I can almost always make it to the cleaning step. However, I spend so many extra minutes on all the other stuff, I don't even make it that far. And I'm a work in progress. I still have lots of areas where I need to push myself better, but I'm getting it down. It's nice to be constantly working on things again, even if I see no results yet except for a personal expanded skill set.

I hope this helps all you artsy types out there. Nobody is perfect. Treat your passion like a job you have to do. But at the same time, tell yourself that all you're doing is making sure you have the time to do what you enjoy. And do it first thing in the morning. (I realize I probably get up a lot later than most of you, but I have no children and work nights. This just happens to be what works for me.)

For further inspiration, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk on Creative Geniuses!

Speaking of Neil, don't forget to be a goofball:

Me dressed as Death for Comic Con.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

FREE: Midnight Tutorials

Have you ever had that ONE project that just refuses to turn into a nice, professional, and clean tutorial? Well, this is mine:

Version #1

This version was a self created attempt to make a tutorial for sale. Um...I was a crazy kid in 2013. Pieces of it are hand drawn and scanned into Photoshop to create a comic book layout. This was the first of that type of tutorial. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. So, I've decided to offer it for free on My Craftsy Page. Download it and judge for yourself!

Version #2

This version was JD's attempt to help me clean up the look of my pages. His illustration work was great, even then. This was back before his graphic design job downtown. However, the problem with collaboration between us is that he has no idea what the heck is going on with beadwork. So he always gets lost with text and can't proof read for me. :-( (I'm pretty sure there is a typo in here, but can't remember which step it appears in. Sorry. Let me know if you have issues.) I have come to accept my obsession is mine alone. To this day, he remains great at helping me tweak my digital illustrations, some of which you can purchase HERE. Anyway, to download Version #2, you can get it in This Other Craftsy Listing. It, also, is free.

There is obviously marked improvement between the two projects. However, I am almost convinced I will never have a completed version of this technique. Maybe I've just spent too long thinking about it. Anyway, shortly after the above projects, I started to actually get into digitally illustrating my own pieces. The above link to my (reactivated) Etsy shop will show you finished examples done in Photoshop. BUT, yet again I return to the stupid washer, this time in Illustrator: 

Much better, isn't it? *unashamed pat on back* Even getting to this stage took quite a bit of practice. But I'm determined, AND I've never had a design class in my life. It's just a ton of experimenting and looking things up online to figure out how to get the look you want. Sometimes I also take advantage of backseat critiquing from JD, who often tweaks what I've been working on all day in a matter of minutes. :-/ 

Even so, this tutorial may not see the light of day for another few months/years yet. I really want it to be out there, but I'm too much of a perfectionist I guess. My tutorials are illustrated vs. just pictures of the piece being made. It's the look I want. I wouldn't feel right taking money for something that wasn't a piece of art in and of itself, you know?

If you are curious what I'm currently working on tutorial wise, here is a sneak peek: 

Basic loom work, you ask? What could be special about that? I'll give you a hint: dig back a few posts and you'll find it. This is just a prettier version. And will be free. Again! I've just had looming and tutorials on the brain a lot lately. Mostly I'm just giving myself excuses to get back into Illustrator. You wouldn't believe how much I screwed up just to get this to look as nice as it does. All art is a learning curve. Some just don't come as easily.

Well, I hope you've all liked my rambling about my illustrating history. Look for more to come! I've figured out a way that currently keeps me interested in getting my work and ideas out there. Let me know what you think on any of this! I've got to go to sleep. I think I'm plenty wound down from work now.

Tonight's listening pleasure: Frank Turner Radio on Spotify. Meh. They all sound like him, but don't convey emotions as well. Still better than the radio in my car. What isn't?