Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Work--End of C.E.D. November

These are the last of my November Create Every Day works: 2 sets of charms for the ArtCharms Yahoo Group Blue, White, Silver Swap.

 Create Every Day was a huge success for me except for 2 things: I should have blogged more often and taken more photos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Selling Online?

I'm wondering if I should open an Etsy shop. I need a bit of feedback. I sell these pendants for $35. As you can see from the photos below, they measure approximately 2 inches including the bail. They're handmade fused dichroic glass and the bail is gold or silver plated. The problem is that unless you've seen dichroic glass before, the photos really don't convey all the sparkle and depth of the glass. 

I'd love to have your comments.



I bet you think I skipped out on my pledge to Create Every Day. I didn't. I've been doing 16-hour days since my last post. Here's the result:

I made--from scratch--all this fused glass jewelry. Forgive me for not posting more but right now I have a lot of catching-up to do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Art-Friends: I'm Grateful for You

In yesterday's post I shared my discouragement with a project that wasn't going the way I thought it should. Yes, I was whining. In spite of that I got such great responses that I wanted to share them with everybody.

Day 4: Discouraged Already

I'm still working on the same project and today I almost finished it. And it's ugly. I mean UGLY. I was going for the Industrial Look. This thing is totally depressing. There are a lot of things I can do to fix it, but right now I'm just discouraged. 6:30 pm and it's already dark outside. All I want to do is go to bed.  
Dana said...I don't think it is ugly at all. I think you have just been looking at it too much and need a break. 
 Tomorrow is another day.
Jennifer Cameron said...I think it looks awesome. Where's the ugly part?
Elizabeth in NM said...If its too ugly for you, feel free to send it to me! Just kidding, I think it looks great. I agree with Dana, you are probably just sick of looking at it. I'm sure it will be fantastic if you push through. Making art is not easy!
Carol said...I agree with Dana, too. Step back, work on something else and then go back to it. Sometimes something new has to grow on you.

Keri called me with lots more encouragement, and allowed me to talk through my problem with the bracelet. 
Thanks for the feedback, everybody. I REALLY appreciate that you took the time to post messages and call!
Dana, you are so right--I've been looking at it too long. Now this morning I have new energy for it.
Jennifer, I think the ugly part is that I was trying to do monochromatic and succeeded too well. (That is not a black-and-white photo! It's full color.) The advice I  give to my students (and forget to take for myself) is that “just because it didn’t turn out like you expected, doesn’t mean it’s not good.”  
Elizabeth, I love your phrase "push through." That's it exactly! I'm going to write this on a note and post it above my work table
Carol, you summed it up: step back. I need to be reminded to do that.

Keri, you made me laugh. At myself, which is perhaps the most important thing a stuck (whining) artist can do.
I'll post my "fix" later today if I finish it--before and after photos--to see if I succeed. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4: Discouraged Already

I'm still working on the same project and today I almost finished it. And it's ugly. I mean UGLY. I was going for the Industrial Look. This thing is totally depressing. There are a lot of things I can do to fix it, but right now I'm just discouraged. 6:30 pm and it's already dark outside. All I want to do is go to bed.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I was kind of hoping to have a photo today, but that bracelet still isn't finished. It's coming along, though.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


From the Robert Genn Letters  (with thanks to Keri Ippolito for forwarding) 
The Divided Self (October 29, 2010)
A couple of years ago a subscriber wrote, "You have really helped me with my procrastination. I apologize for taking so long to let you know." Insight like this and a lot of other great items are in the Zingers section at the back of my most recent book.

The game theorist and strategist Thomas C. Schelling suggested procrastination is not a personal weakness. It's more a function of the selves within ourselves who are actually at war with one another. For example, your long-term self says you're going to paint 100 paintings and get yourself a decent gallery. Next day your short-term self cuts in and has you alphabetizing everything in the spice cupboard or cleaning the lake. It's not you, it's your "divided self" that runs you off track and amok.

Interestingly, the divided self also gives powerful creative input. Putting things off may not be all that bad. Getting a second opinion is certainly part of our game. A work of art well sat on may turn out better than one completed to a hasty schedule. While experts identify university professors as the top procrastinators, artists cannot be far behind.

But I'm putting off getting to the point. This letter is about "the thief of time," and how to beat him. Going by my own example, I'm an authority on procrastination.

Recent studies tell us we need to get to know all our different selves. We need to make a list. FYI, here's mine: Responsible Bob. Loves-painting Bob. Hates-business Bob. (etc.)

Knowing these Bobs helps Bob see when one Bob is caving in to another Bob or pushing another Bob around.

Now here's the crunch: The smarter you are, the more likely you'll be to put things off. For smart folks, procrastination may be the norm. "It could very well be the most basic human impulse," says psychologist George Ainslie, the inventor of "hyperbolic discounting," the human tendency to plan practically anything as long as it's sometime well in the future and not now. By taking active steps right now, artists may flourish and stand out simply by beating the norm.

Best regards,


PS: "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." --Henry Ford

Stick To It!

Here are 6 tips for keeping resolutions:

I Voted (Create Every Day)

Does voting count as creating? I don't know, but if you don't vote then you don't get to complain. Vote or shut up. Period.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I need to write a bunch of class proposals. Why make it a chore? Create Every Day is a privilege--a luxury--FUN!

I cranked up the tunes (Celtic, of course), lit the scented oil warmer (rosemary for alertness), drank coffee (mmmMMMmmm....), wore my PJs, snuggled under my (hand made recycled) denim jeans quilt, and created a wildly colorful jewelry set.   

I did it! I created...

I finished this necklace and bracelet and earrings set today. Some of the components were already assembled, but I'd been struggling with the final arrangement for a couple of weeks. I was going for a mixed media piece--something besides just beads and chain.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Create Every Day

I did it. I committed to creating something every day. I even started a couple of days early. And loads of people have decided to commit, too. There must be something in the air. Want to join us? You don't need to do anything except decide to do it.

It's Sally's fault. She sent me the article about November being Art Every Day month. Too many people think art every day means painting every day, or finishing something every day. Who says making a gorgeous, mouth-watering, golden-brown quiche isn't art? Since when do I have to finish the necklace for it to count as creating something? And will the Art Police arrest me if I write a song--or part of a song--or sing one--to create for the day?

Relax. We get to make our own rules.

But be reasonable. You don't have to sew a whole new wardrobe in 30 days, although you can if you really want to. You don't have to write your masterpiece book, either. Just take it in little bites. That's how you eat the whole elephant. Little bites.

I wrote a book about ArtCharms with Chris. Guess how. One charm at a time. Am I overstating this?

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Do I have to start on Nov. 1st?
A: Only if you decide to.

Q: Do I have to blog about it every day?
A: Only if you decide to.

Q: Does a sketch (doodle, cake, flower arrangement, closet-cleaning, letter, walk, etc.) count as creating every day?
A: Only if you decide it does.

You get the picture.     

Friday, October 29, 2010

Commitment Issues

I know it's kind of silly, but I have Commitment Issues.

November is Create Every Day Month. I'm preparing to commit to Create Every Day. Notice I still haven't actually said I committed? Yikes. Why am I hesitating? Here are a few reasons:
1. Fear of failure and its attendants
2. Fear of embarrassment
3. Laziness
4. Procrastination

Well, that's enough reasons for now. I'm going to explore these and see what's behind them.

Fear of Failure
I'm not really afraid to fail, but I sure don't like what follows: disappointment and disgust with myself. If I was as good at art as I am at self-loathing I'd be rich and famous by now. What's the solution to that? Maybe I don't want to solve it. Maybe it's not a problem but a tool. It's one of the tools I use to motivate myself. Uh, maybe it's not the best one, but it works.

I'm going to deal with this by heading into it instead of avoiding it. I hereby commit to consciously Create Every Day for the month of November. Notice I said 'consciously' create? We're all creating all the time. But I mean that I want to be mindful and choose my daily contribution.

I'll keep a list. I don't promise to blog about it every day. THAT's more than I'm willing to commit to.  

Fear of Embarrassment
So who am I going to be embarrassed in front of? I mean, if my friends read this, and they think I'm a dolt, will I be embarrassed? Yes. But more worrisome to me is the possibility that I'll miss a day, or a week, and be embarrassed about that.

I can either avoid telling my friends that I'm doing this C.E.D. thing, or I can pull up my big girl socks (you know what I mean) and Just Do It.

I'm going to do it. If you're reading this it's probably because I asked you to.
What needs to be said about laziness?

I just thought of something. Sometimes I call it laziness when it's actually taking a well-earned rest. Who says I have to be doing every waking moment? When do I take time to just be? Do I get to fill the well every now and then instead of always pouring it out? I don't want to feel guilty when I read or watch TV. It makes sense to decide how much self-time I'm going to allow every day.

I'll think about that tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Yeah, I'm still recovering from Art & Soul. The finished pieces (fused glass cabochons) are all packed up and ready to send back to the artist-students who took my glass classes.

This is what it looked like when I packed it up to send to Oregon. Tools and glass are heavy and I didn't want to carry them on the plane. The boxes each ended up weighing 20 to 30 pounds!

Now it's time to start planning for next year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Epic Fail--and Rescue

I can't believe I did this. I procrastinated--just for a couple of days!--on making reservations for the hotel in Portland. (I actually forgot and thought Tony was going to do it.) I have zero brains when getting this close to a big teaching event.

So I just found out that not only is the block of rooms for Art & Soul art retreat sold out, but the only rooms available are quite out of my price range. AAAKKKKK! 

I checked the Database for the A&S Yahoo Group to see if anyone is looking for a roomie. I'm hoping, praying, and crossing my fingers and my eyes that somebody will still have room.

Meanwhile, my Mom, who fell and broke her hip a week or so ago, has been in the emergency room twice in the last few days for a dislocated hip joint. Now they have her in a brace so she doesn't pop it out again. 

Two days ago the power went out and our computers, which had slowed considerably in the last few days, were "hanging" for every little thing. I wasn't getting emails on time, and it was taking forever to access my blog, Yahoo groups, etc. This morning Tony called the ISP and asked what was wrong, thinking the power outage messed us up. Nope. They said we needed to upgrade our modem. My mind started going  $$ $$ $$  and my stomach did a flip-flop. We just bought a new camera after our 10-year-old digital died. Not cheap. And I couldn't afford the kind of camera needed for taking the RAW format photos needed by my publishers if I do another book. I guess I can't afford to do another book.

But then, as it turned out, the upgrade to the modem was free, and done over the cable. Sometimes I love technology!

My Mom, helped by my sisters, has been moved to an assisted living facility in Milwaukee. I'm praying that she'll be happy and safe there.

While I was writing about all my troubles, I got an email from an Angel at Art & Soul Retreat. She has room for me in her hotel room. Her roomie cancelled! And here's what she said in her email: "A few weeks ago I had considered "pairing up" with some of the others who were also looking for roommates to share the room that had been booked.  But I figured I'd wait to see if I could bless someone was in dire straits and didn't have a room."

I'd just asked Deborah and Tony for prayers. Wow, nice timing! Thanks. I have goose bumps now. And I feel like the luckiest idiot in the whole world. 

What does the Lava Lamp have to do with all this? Nothing. I just like the picture. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Signing Party

This is so cool! The Arlington Heights Senior Center, where I teach, is throwing this party for me! It's a chance for me to socialize with friends and students without being busy with a class. Yippee! Come on over just to visit and have some refreshments. Please let me know if you're coming, so I can tell them how much stuff to serve.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Signing 11-3

Packed House at the Spring Show
So Much to Choose From

Naperville, Illinois
Sunday, September 12, 2010
10am to 4pm

Holiday Inn Select
Grand Ballroom
1801 N. Naper Blvd.

Public Invited
Admission $5.00

Book Signing 11-3

Saturday, September 4, 2010

WAHOO, We're Number Two!

Making Mixed Media Art Charms and Jewelry is number two on the Amazon Bestselling Jewelry Books list again! (The ranking changes every hour, so I'm very happy to have caught it when it happened!)

Thanks so much to everybody who bought it and spread the word!

While I was checking this out, I discovered something interesting and puzzling. It's #3 on the Amazon Bestsellers in Decorating. Is that because people use the concepts and techniques to create home decor, as we suggested in the book? Or is it because you can use it to make stuff to decorate your own self? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Steampunk Shell-and-Lightbulb Charms

Surprisingly simple, isn't it? Solder a jump ring or split ring to the top of a .22 caliber shell. Glue in a tiny light bulb. Add a jump ring.
You can use a tassel or bead in place of the bulb. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bullet Necklace

In the book I titled the bullet charm Bells, Not Bullets.
This reminds me a bit of an Egyptian Collar.
There's a photo of the bracelet on the July 18th post.

Wrapped Loop Photos

Aargh! I keep trying and these photos won't upload to the ArtCharms Yahoo group. I'm posting them here for now. The bead is one of Chris' handmade lampwork beads. The wrapped loop isn't perfect but it's the best I could do. At least the wire isn't sticking out or sharp, so nobody will get snagged.

Jan's Bracelet

Another masterpiece by a student who could just as easily be my teacher: 

Isn't this awesome? If anybody wants me to post a picture of the bracelet that they made in my class--or a bracelet they began there--please send a photo of it. Thanks, Jan!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Study Begins Today!

This link gets you to the Yahoo group where the book study is being held. You'll have to join the group if you want to read the lessons. Ooh, lessons sound formal and these aren't!

For members, click here
This takes you right to the first lesson. Or playdate. Whatever you want to call it.

Do these at your own speed, whenever you want. Or don't do them at all, just join up to be in the drawings for free charms.

Need help? Let me know. Can it get any easier?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where to Stay in Phoenix

A post on the ArtUnraveled Yahoo Group caught my attention: Sue was looking for a place to stay while she was in Phoenix, and hoped someone would be willing to take her in for the week. The Australian currency was trading low against the US dollar, and a hotel stay would be very expensive. She said she had references from people she'd stayed with in past years.

The art community is very friendly and helpful. I knew Sue would find someone to stay with. I just wanted to help her out with those references, having stayed with her in my coauthor Christine's home two years ago. So I posted: she was a low-maintenance guest, and there was a possibility that I could get a place for us to stay at least part of the time. I then emailed Sue to catch up with her news. I hadn't seen her in person for two years.

Then came the fateful email, the magnificent missive. Deborah, a total stranger invited us to stay with her for the whole week. Both of us.  Although I loved the idea of hanging out with the other teachers and students in the hotel, the state of my finances is pretty dismal, and the hotel is expensive. I checked with Sue. She was game. So we accepted.

I did a tremendous amount of work to get ready for my classes. Other art-makers will tell you that they travel with a heavy suitcase full of tools and materials and a small bag for clothes and essentials. It's even worse when you're teaching and supplying tools to work with. But Deborah offered to accept packages for me, so I mailed a lot of stuff. Probably 50 pounds or so. "If it fits it ships," the ads say. It fit, but it was heavy.

Deborah and I emailed back and forth making arrangements for pickup at the airport and scheduling transportation to and from classes. I talked to her on the phone and was immediately reassured by her gentle voice. Still, this was a trip to the unknown, and I was a little nervous. What if she didn't like us? Or me? I'm such a spreader-outer-of-stuff, also known as slob; what if I made her crazy?

Sue and Deborah met me at the airport. I was disheveled and disorganized. Deborah was elegant and gracious. She was slender and well-dressed, wearing the most gorgeous sparkly Swarovsky crystal jewelry I'd ever seen. Of course she made it. She looked to be about 35 or 40. I was getting ready to feel like a bum when she greeted me, but she instantly put me at ease. I did say gracious, didn't I?

When she opened the door to her home, I almost dropped my bags. Inlaid marble floors, a kitchen and dining area as big as my house, ankle-deep white carpets, gigantic fireplace, decorating to die for....

She showed me to my room: a huge one with a king-sized bed, a walk-in closet, and my own bathroom. A five-star hotel couldn't have been more beautiful or spacious.

Honestly, if it wouldn't have been utterly tacky I'd have posted pictures. Not because I'm not tacky, but because she isn't.

OK, I HAD to show you the pool. And the fountains, and the jacuzzi, and about an acre of landscaped yard.... I even saw a road runner there!

I must have done something wonderful to deserve this! Strike that. I didn't deserve it, it was all a gift.

This is just the beginning. There's lots more to tell about my awesome trip, incredibly generous new friends, and the art retreat I want to attend every year forever.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Art Unraveled and Arizona

Why do they call it Art UNraveled? I found it to be a perfect place to reconnect and knit together so many of my different interests and enthusiasms. As a jewelry nut I was thrilled to see lots of styles and interpretations of the kind of stuff I love, from Found Object Funk to Haute Steampunk and from gorgeous glass to fabulous fibers to rusted relics. Anyone who follows the mixed media and art jewelry scenes would think they'd died and gone to heaven: there were classes by Keith LoBue, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Richard Salley, Melissa Manley, Thomas Ashman, Laurie Mika, Barbe Saint John, Jane Wynn and more.... these people are my heroes and inspirers, the people whose work I admire so much that I have to work very hard to NOT copy their styles.

The photo shows a selection of the work my students did. These pieces haven't been fired yet, so you don't get to see how fantastic they look when they're finished!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Art Unraveled

My flight to Arizona to teach at Art Unraveled was cancelled! So glad I found another one later in the day. And my Hostess is so gracious... she assured me that my change in plans wasn't going to be a big problem. Whew! Thanks, Deborah!

And here's a bit of eye candy for you: A romantic charm bracelet by my friend Sally, made right here on my kitchen table. We shared charms, stories, and tea. What a delight!

The paper under the bracelet includes pressed ferns from the garden. Remember that you're all invited to come and make paper with me on my deck!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fused Glass Cabochons

Here's what they look like:
I made these (above).

Guess which ones were made by my students :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Make Bells, Not Bullets

Make pie, not war. Turn your swords into plowshares and your helmets into fishbowls. 
Turn bullets into bells into bracelets.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lace & Button Cuff

I'm not hugely into buttons but I got a ton of them from the company I'm going to do demos for at CHA (Craft & Hobby Association trade show). Once again, I was too lazy to set up the light tent, but you get the idea, right?

She's No Angel

My Winged Steampunk brooch, which I love, is NOT supposed to look like an angel. I hate cute. So there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Box Latch Necklace

Believe it or not, every piece of this necklace is the same color. It's just a bad photo. Somehow the mica powder on the tiny fortune cookies picked up the light differently. The coins and box latch are all antique brass. I made matching earrings, too.

I made this for our book: Making Mixed Media Art Charms. My coauthor Christine Hansen liked it so it's hers. Uh, as soon as I'm done showing it off  ;D

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Junque Jewelry

Does this qualify as Junque? Uh, I'm pretty sure it does.

Polymer clay beads, lightbulb, key, rubber gasket, button...

These are a few of my favorite things.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Loooove My Doggie!

Making Copies

Remember that guy--the Office Nerd--from SNL? Well, I'm scared of making copies. Really.

I was reading a post by Barbe SaintJohn about people stealing other artists' designs. It makes me sick. Not just the robbery of intellectual property (and I've had my share of stuff ripped off) but the fact that it can happen so easily. There's no protection. That's pretty scary.

Want to know what I think is even more scary?

I'm worried that I'll inadvertently rip off someone else. I see dozens of great jewelry designs every day. How can I be sure that the piece I'm making isn't merely "inspired by" but actually copied from someone else?

I could easily paralyze myself by over-thinking this, second-guessing myself.

How do other artists handle this? How do you do it? Any advice?

Lights Of My Life

Petunia and Sweet Potato Leaf

I love this color combination: hot pink and bright chartreuse. 
I love iced coffee with caramel syrup and skim milk.  
I love petting my puppy's silken ears.
I dearly love my husband, my family and my friends.

What lights your day?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Erin's Great Mind

 I made this bracelet a while back and I knew it needed something:

Then I saw something better on Erin Keck's Etsy site:
Hers is so much nicer! She uses beautiful antique keys in hers. You gotta check it out quick; the price is right and it won't last long! Erin, you totally rock! If you want to post a photo here, please do! 

People Can Be Mean

Well DUH! Who doesn't know that?!? And yet, when it happened to me yesterday I was really taken aback. I try awfully hard to play nice, and I'm always shocked when somebody poops in the sandbox.

Oh well, what happened is not about me, but it says a lot about the person who hurt me. She's good, but she doesn't get to take all the credit for my success or my designs. Geez! Great minds think alike! Great ideas often pop up in several different places at once.

I would never copy anybody else's ideas. But I am very often inspired by them. I'm not sure I have the quote exactly right but, "If we have seen far it is because we stood on the shoulders of giants."

Two of my giants: Amber Dawn who insisted on quality when I was making quantity, and Susan Lenart Kazmer who broke the mold when it came to jewelry. Both are teachers and both are generous with their ideas.

Steampunk Lampshade!

I guess you could wear it on your head... if you really want to. But ya gotta love a Steampunk Lampshade! This is what I mean when I say you don't have to make "charms" or even jewelry when you take my Mixed Media Art Charms class.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Amber's Artful Cakes

You really should see these in person. Even though I looked at a ruler when I first saw her photos, I was amazed (and delighted) when Amber gave these to me for my birthday. They are incredibly tiny!

Let me put it this way: the orange cupcake is about the size of my thumbnail! All three pastel cupcakes fit onto my little fingernail!

These are hand formed of polymer clay, so in spite of the fact that they are yummy-looking, you can't eat them. But what great diet food!

Absolutely Amazing Amber!

To see more of her Awesome Edibles, and lots of other cool stuff, check out Amber's blog:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just checking...(COMM)

Our Art Charms book is back up to #4 on the Amazon bestselling jewelry books list. YIPPEE!

After getting the most awesome rating I've ever seen, 5 stars and everything, I guess maybe it's an OK book ;)

Come ON! Check it out will ya?!?

It's 27 small mixed media projects  that you can use for jewelry, accessories, home decor, and wall art. There are easy instructions for beginners and fresh ideas for the experienced.  

Let me know what you think, OK?


Thursday, July 1, 2010


The Chatelaine was the mistress of the household or castle, and keeper of the keys. She was responsible for the smooth operation of everything from purchasing and storing food and wine and supplies, to mending, cleaning, paying the accounts and all the millions of other domestic chores.

The Chatelaine wore a belt to hold all the symbols of her office and daily necessities like keys, clock, scissors and money. In time the belt itself came to be known as a chatelaine. Our purses and briefcases are the closest thing to the chatelaine-belt of olden days.

What would you put on your belt or in your bag? Cell phone, keys, money... Not much has changed. Inspired by the belt of old and the countless chores of today I created my own chatelaine of found objects, handmade beads, stones and bones, clock parts, tools, horsehair and handcuffs, religious objects and discarded jewelry. It dangles from a rusty chain on my wall.

A chatelaine for the Modern Woman...