December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolution

With 2010 coming to a close, it's time to reflect on the year and make plans for the new year.  2010 was a big year for me.  My husband and I moved from Guam to Miami, FL and picked up our gorgeous doggy who had been living with her grandparents for 3 years while we were in Guam.  I also took a huge leap when I left my stable job to go back to school to work on my PhD in chemistry.  I met some wonderful people and made amazing new friends this year.  I also dealt with devastation as I struggled with leaving school because I just wasn't at the same point in my life as I was 10 years earlier.  Despite its highs and lows, I think 2010 was a success.  Looking toward 2011, I have a lot of decisions to make... so, here are my resolutions for 2011.
  • Find a good job.  After leaving school, I am not bringing in any money.  I have to find a job, and I need to do it quickly.  I've put in a lot of applications and I'm hopeful.  Hopefully, this is a January resolution instead of a year long resolution.
  • Run a half marathon.  I completed my first half marathon in 2010, but I didn't run the entire thing.  I had to walk quite a bit.  This year, I want to run all 13.1 miles.
  • Run a marathon.  My husband and I have decided to sign up for a full marathon after we complete our half marathon, and I want to run the entire thing. 
  • Start selling my jewelry.  I've decided to take another leap this year.  I'm going to try to believe in myself and start up an etsy store and sell my jewelry.  I'm also going to contact some local bridal stores and see if they will carry some of my jewelry.  I'm hoping to start taking custom bridal/wedding party/ bridesmaid gift orders. 
  • Blog at least 4 times a week.  In 2010, my blogging was spurradic.  I had months where I blogged a lot, and other months where I hardly blogged at all.  In 2011, I want to make sure I blog at least 4 times each week.  I also want to improve the photos I take for the blog.
  • Learn to make glass beads.  My wonderful husband bought me a lampwork bead making kit for Christmas, and I can't wait to try it out.  I have wanted to learn to make glass beads for awhile and want to jump in and do it this year.
  • Get back in shape.  The last few years have been difficult on me.  I've dealt with depression, anxiety, and my father's suicide.  I let my workout routine get away from me.  I want to start working out regularly and get myself back.  I think it will improve my confidence and make me feel better all around. 
So, tell me, what are your goals for the new year?  Are  you making resolutions?  How will you hold yourself accountable and make sure you achieve your goals?

I plan to check in on a monthly basis and review my progress toward my goals.  Hopefully you will all help hold me accountable for my goals!  Happy New Year!!!  Here's to an amazing 2011.  You hold the power.  Make it wonderful!

I leave you with a picture of my gorgeous doggie, Bailey (do you believe she's 7 years old?):

December 29, 2010

Craft Supplier Auction

So, I went to my first auction today... and it was an auction for craft supplies.  A craft supplier/distributor went out of business and had five warehouses full of supplies to sell.  It was awesome.  There were pliers, wire, beads, bracelet forms, findings, and more. 

We started our day at about 9:30 am with a walkthrough of the merchandise.  We looked at everything and made a list of the items we were interested in.  At 11:00 am, we started getting excited because it was time for the auction to start.  By 12:00 pm, we were frustrated because the auction still hadn't started.  Finally, the auctioneer started the auction and we were rolling.  They started by asking if anyone was interested in buying the entire lot.  There was a bid for $35,000 for everything (easily over $1,000,000 worth of merchandise).  The auctioneer did not want to accept the bid, so the individual lots went up for sale.

We bid on a couple of things, and even won a few (glass beads, seed beads, wire, and copper findings).  Then, the "big boys" started bidding.  The auctioneer started bundling things in huge lots (like selling 6 pallets of stuff at one time).  At this point, the hubby and I were pretty much out of the bidding.  Even though we could afford the pallets, where on earth would we put 6 pallets of stuff?  Just before we left, the auctioneer decided to call off the auction and sell everything to the first bidder for the $35,000 he offered at the beginning. 

The result of the day was a roller coaster of emotion:  excitement, frustration, anticipation, excitement (again), frustration (again), and finally disappointment.  We were happy with the items we won (although there were a couple of things we would have liked to win... and a couple of things we wanted to bid on, but they were placed in large bulk lots, so we would have needed to purchase 6 pallets to get the one case of things we wanted).  We wanted to take our things home... but at the end, nothing was for sale.  We went home with nothing to show for our day.  Overall, I think it was fun... but, I still want my things!

December 28, 2010

Beautiful Beads from Artbeads.com

I'm a little behind in my bead blogging.  I'm just now blogging about the beads I received from Artbeads.com as part of the fall bead bloggers program.  I became overwhelmed by grading, writing finals, studying for and taking finals, and writing papers.  Boy, school is harder than I remember it being.  Anyway, I finally have a little time.  For the fall installment of the Artbeads.com bead blogger program, I was instructed to select beads that bring about the feeling of fall through color.  I decided to stick with a traditional fall color pallet of browns, reds, oranges, and olive greens.  Check out these luscious delica seed beads in all the colors of fall:


In addition to the gorgeous seed beads, I also selected a couple of fall-themed pendants.  The first pendant is a gorgeous copper leaf.  I grew up in upstate New York and the leaves are the most beautiful part of the fall season.  When I saw this pendant, I couldn't help myself.  It really brought out my memories of fall.


The second pendant is a beautiful porcelain pendant in an olive green color with a black tree on it.  Again, I just couldn't help myself when I saw it.  Everything from the color to the subject matter just felt like fall to me.


I have a really cool vision for the piece.  It, of course, includes a lot of beadweaving.  If it turns out the way I want, It will be different than the other pieces I've created.  Check back for a look at the fall necklace I'm going to create.

FTC Disclosure: The items in this post were provided to me free of charge from Artbeads.com for review or design purposes as part of the Bead Blogger program. I am providing an honest review of the products for which I am receiving no compensation.

December 21, 2010

Show the Beaders in Your Life How Much You Care!


Artbeads.com is generously giving away 10,000 ten dollar gift cards. You can give away up to ten gift cards to your friends and family.  Simply click here to go to the giveaway website and click the Start Gifting button.  If you want to take part in this, you better hurry because the giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, December 22.  It's a great way to spread the holiday cheer and support the jewelry makers in your life.

As if the gift card giveaway alone isn't enough, Artbeads.com is going even further.  They are giving away a 16GB iPad 3G.  You can surf the internet from just about anywhere, watch instructional videos, or order new beads.  To enter the contest, place an order at Artbeads.com by December 31, 2010 or click here to enter without making a purchase!

Thanks Artbeads!

November 26, 2010

What Inspires You Beading Contest

Recently, Artbeads.com hosted a "What Inspires You" beading contest.  The point of the contest is to show a picture of your inspiration and a picture of the piece of jewelry you created based on the inspiration.  I entered the contest, and would love it if you would support me by voting for the piece of jewelry I created.  If you would like to vote for me, please click here and press the vote button.  If you like my piece, please also consider sharing the website to vote for me with your followers, friends, and family members.  I'm a poor college student and could really use the bead money!!!

My inspiration was this picture by Beverly Ash Gilbert.  I found it on her blog and was immediately inspired to create the necklace.

I was inspired by the beautiful earthy colors and the shadow form of the grasses.  I used the colors as the basis for the colors in the necklace.  I used the inspiration of the shadow form to create a black tree against the colored background.  I used a free form beadweaving technique to create the necklace and the pendant.  In the center of the pendant, there is a large green venetian glass bead.


 


 I think the necklace definitely resembles the photo, without copying it exactly.  If you agree, please take a moment and vote for my necklace!

Thank you for your love and support!

Kell

October 16, 2010

Trying Really Really Hard to be Brave

About two months ago, I left my job as an instructional designer to pursue my PhD in Chemistry.  It's been a dream of mine since I finished my undergraduate degree (9 years ago).  I'm just getting around to it now, and am really excited to be taking steps to accomplish my goal.  However, 9 years is a really long time to be out of school.  I've forgotten more than a lot of people know about chemistry.  I'm trying to get back into the swing of school, but it's hard when you have to learn all of the class material and re-learn all the information you've forgotten. 

On top of class work, I'm also teaching two lab sections.  I love the teaching part, and my students are really awesome... but the grading takes HOURS.  That takes away from the time I can spend studying and re-learning everything I need to know. 

As if I don't already have enough stress, I just selected my research group and advisor.  I'm really excited about my research project, and I think I'll be able to make real progress during my time at FIU.  However, I am now spending hourse each week doing lit searches and reading articles I don't really understand (then spending even more hours trying to figure out all the words/topics I don't understand so I can re-read the article and hopefully understand the article).  I'm also trying to learn how to use all the equipment in the lab (I just found out I'm in charge of maintaining all the equipment in the lab... and I don't yet know how to use it) and how to conduct polymerizations and simple synthesis' which are skills I need to master before starting work on my project.

I love what I'm doing, but I'm terrified.  I'm terrified that I'm not smart enough to be a PhD chemist.  I'm terrified that I'm not as good at this stuff as I thought.  I'm terrified that I'm going to fail and have to tell everyone that I couldn't cut it.  I'm just terrified... all the time.  I want to cry.  But, instead I smile and pretend everything is going well.  In front of my students, I act like the authority on everything dealing with Chemistry.  In front of the other students, I pretend like everything is going well and I'm as smart as them.  But inside I'm wondering if they will still like me if I fail out after one semester.  I'm wondering whaty my husband will think of me if I fail out.  I'm worried about the economic impact on my family if I can't make it. 

It's really hard to step out of your comfort zone.  When you find something that you do easily (for me, it was instructional design), it is easy to become complacent.  It becomes easy to just do that thing and make the money you need and just settle.  I didn't want to just settle, so I jumped... without a net... and it's terrifying.  I hope I catch the bar.  The alternative (a big messy splotch on the ground below) isn't an option.  So, I will continue to be brave.  I will continue to reach for that bar.  All I need is to get my finger tips around it... no fancy flips... just get my fingers around the bar.  In the future, I'll work up to flips and twists.  In the future, I will do more than just hold on... but for now, I just need to not fail.

Here's to everyone who has jumped.  Here's to everyone who has been terrified, but has continued to try.  Bravo to you.  It is not easy.  You are to be commended for your heart, desire, hard work and dedication.  No one can take your successes away from you.  They are yours alone based on your hard work.  Congratulations to you!

October 12, 2010

Birthday Earrings

As many of you know, I started working on my Chemistry PhD this fall.  On my first day of school, I met these two awesome girls, Kelley and Michelle.  Over the last 6 weeks, I've become pretty good friends with them.  Over these few weeks, I've noticed that Michelle wears earrings almost every day.  I made a mental note and tucked it away until I could act on it. 

Well, Michelle's birthday is on Thursday... so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make some earrings for her.  When she came over to study for our Organic Chemistry exam, I took out all my beads and had her pick a few beads that she liked so I could create some birthday earrings for her (she knows she is getting earrings, but doesn't know what they will look like). 

She gravitated toward my blue beads, so I decided to create some sweet dangle earrings using the blue beads and fish charms.  My goal was to make it look like the fish were swimming in water.  I then decided to create a second pair of earrings for her using different colors and sizes of pearls.  Here's a peek at her birthday earrings (luckily she doesn't read my blog, so I can post pictures here).


I'll let you know how she likes them.  I just have to wait a couple more days before I can give them to her!

Kell

My First Attempt at Wire Crocheting

Ever since I saw my first piece of wire crocheted jewelry created by Dawn of Designs by Dawn Marie, I've been amazed.  I think I have loved each piece of jewelry she has created since I've known her.  Not too long ago, she posted a video demonstrating how to complete a simple wire crochet project. 

After watching the video, I felt inspired. I went out and bought a crochet hook.  Because I was studying for an organic chemistry exam, I couldn't work on my first wire crochet project right away.  I sat staring at my new crochet hook and dreaming about my project.  Finally, I carved out a little time to work on my project. 

My first attempt didn't work out so well.  If you want to include beads in your wire crochet project, you have to string them on the wire before you start crocheting.  Well, that didn't happen for my first attempt.  I completed a couple of crochets (is that what they are called?) and was ready to put a bead on... but I couldn't figure out how since the loose end of my wire was still on the spool.  Finally, I went back to the video on Dawn's website and figured out my mistake.  I un-did everything I'd completed and strung a bunch of fall colored beads on the wire before starting again.  Once I had the correct order figured out, the project went much better.  The only problem is that I didn't realize how much wire is required to complete a project.  I ran out of wire before completing the necklace (not to mention, I made the necklace a little too short to fit around the neck of any human I know). 

Oh well, I was able to learn a new technique and feel a little proud that it doesn't completely suck.  I love the colors of fall, so I selected a warm brown wire and some different colors and shapes of fall beads.  I think the dispersement of beads can use some more work... but I'm not completely unhappy with the way it turned out. 

Happy Beading!
Kell

September 11, 2010

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!!!

I am so totally in love with this necklace.  I can't even tell you how much I want it!


However, I have decided to be nice and show it to all of my readers so you can have a chance to win it too (even if it does decrease my chances of winning ;)).  Regina at Regina's Writings created this beautiful necklace using a pendant from MaryAnn Carroll. 

Head over to Regina's Writings and check out the giveaway.  Check out her other posts while you are at it because they are full of beautiful and inspirational jewelry!  I'm sure you'll be in love too!

September 8, 2010

Jewelry Swap... My Creative Process

I just heard from Davinia, and she likes the necklace I created for her!!!  I'm so excited and relieved.  I've been worried since sending it.  So, I'm glad to know I hit the right note with the piece.  Now that she has received the necklace, I can go through my interview questions, her answers, and how I interpreted her answers to come up with the necklace I created.  I hope you enjoy this peek inside my mind (and aren't frightened away by my little oddities).

I tried to ask questions that would give me insight into her peronality and her life.  I didn't want to simply ask what she wanted, and then create it.  I wanted to be inspired by her, and create something based on how I felt after "meeting" her.  Here are the questions I came up with to help in my process. 

Beadativity:  What piece of jewelry would you like? Necklace? Bracelet? Earrings?
Davinia:  Necklace
This question was pretty straight forward.  I wanted to make sure I created something she would like and would wear, so I asked what piece of jewelry she wanted. 

Beadativity:  What is your lifestyle like?
Davinia:  Fairly routine and boring, I work partime and still have 2 adult children living at home (will they ever leave?).
This question is still a pretty standard question.  Knowing what kind of lifestyle she lives helps me make a lot of decisions about the jewelry.  For example, if she had two young kids, she might need a really sturdy piece of jewelry.  Since she has two adult children, the jewelry doesn't have to stand up to the trials and tribulations of small children.  However, I did want to make something that can easily transition from work to casual life. 

Beadativity:  What are some activities you like to do?
Davinia:  Jewelry making of course, I'm an avid reader and a bit of a TV watcher. (love Glee)
Another question that tells me about her lifestyle and how/where she will wear the jewelry. 

Beadativity:  What colors do you like/hate?
Davinia:  I'm green person any shade, not really fond of red.
There are no secrets behind this question.  I just wanted to make something she likes.  I decided to give her control of the colors (or at least give me a pallet to work with).

Beadativity:  Are you allergic to any materials?
Davinia:  Not that I'm aware of
Well, I would hate to create something she couldn't wear!

Beadativity:  Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Janis Joplin, or some other icon?
Davinia:  Janis Joplin (she's my era, I'm a baby boomer)
This was an important question for me (and the beginning of me trying to really get inside of Davinia's head).  I think each person I included in the list has a very distinct style and is an icon in her own right.  Finding out which icon she identifies with tells me a lot about her personality.  Because she selected Janis Joplin (one of my favorites as well!), I wanted to create something organic and earthy for her.  I didn't want to create anything too formal or structured. 

Beadativity:  What is your favorite food?
Davinia:  Avacados
Okay, I have to admit that this question is just for fun.  I don't really have a way to directly relate it to jewelry making.  It was just another way to get to know Davinia and what she likes. 

Beadativity:  What is your favorite song/singer/band?
Davinia:  Being a baby boomer I have to say the Beatles.
Similarly to the icon question, the type of music a person identifies with can tell a lot about her.  The Beatles are great, and were such trail blazers!  Based on this answer, I knew I wanted to make something bold and daring.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite movie (or type of movie)?
Davinia:  I loved the Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile and Stand by Me are absolute favourites.
I look at movies the same way I look at the icon and music questions.  All of the movies Davinia mentioned have huge heart.  I wanted to create something inspired and special... something with a heart of its own.

Beadativity:  Which of the following images do you relate to the most?
Davinia:  Number 4, I love the colours and the contemporary feel to it.

I didn't display all the pictures.  I just decided to show the picture she selected.  However, I gave her choices of a Thomas Kinkaid picture, a Dali picture, an Ansel Adams picture, and some others.  This question solidified my ideas about what I thought she would like.  It gave me a feel for what colors and what types of motion and flow she would like.  It reinforced what I'd learned in other questions.  After she selected this piece, I knew I had to make something organic and unstructured, but bold and special. 


Beadativity:  What is your favorite room in your house and why?
Davinia:  Definitely not the kitchen (hate cooking), probably the family room (nothing to do with family though, that sounds awful doesn't it) it's where my craft desk and computer are set up.
This is another question that is not directly related to jewelry making, but gives me insight into Davinia's personality.  I love how she answered it (with a bit of humor). 

Beadativity:  What is your favorite vacation you have ever taken and why?
Davinia:  Last Christmas my husband and I went to Tasmania for a holiday, I'd always wanted to visit and wasn't disappointed, it's everything I imagined and more.
Where people decide to vacation, and which vacations are the most special tell a lot about people.  From everything I've heard about Tasmania, it is awesome (unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit when I was in Australia).  It is somewhere I also have really wanted to go.  I'm glad it was everything she'd hoped!

Beadativity:  If you can go one place in the world, where would it be?
Davinia:  Canada
Similarly to her favorite vacation, knowing where Davinia hopes to go helps me get to know her better.  This is just another question that helps me "get in her head".

After receiving Davinia's answers, I knew the feeling I wanted the piece to have.  I knew it was going to be something funky, colorful, organic, informal, and fun.  I just didn't have a specific plan in mind.  I kept her answers in the back of my mind as I went about my normal life for a couple of days.  I knew that if I thought too hard about the project, I would never figure it out.  I needed to let inspiration come on its own. 

While reading one of the blogs I enjoy (Beverly Ash Gilbert's blog), I found the inspiration I'd been waiting for.  She posted a picture that created an entire concept in my head.  As soon as I saw the picture, I knew exactly what I wanted the piece to look like.  I just needed to figure out how to create it.  Since I love working with seed beads, I decided to paint the picture using beads.  I first found colors that worked with the photo and worked to melt the colors together.  Then, I created the rope part of the necklace using a version of freeform beadweaving.  Once the rope was done, I worked to create a pendant that focused on green since it is Davinia's favorite color.  Instead of creating grasses as the focus, I decided to think a little bigger and create the silhouette of a tree on the pendant and allow the branches to work their way up the chain. 

Without further ado, here are some pictures of the necklace I created!

September 5, 2010

What's Better Than Labor Day?

A Labor Day bead sale of course!  This weekend (until September 7) Artbeads.com is offering 20% off all orders of $60 or more.  Just check out the store and stock up on all the seed beads, findings, tools, artist beads, glass beads, pendants, charms, and everything else you need to continue creating beautiful jewelry this fall.  Once you have everything you need, use coupon code ZZW20P-LDS to save 20% on your $60 purchase.  Hurry, because the sale ends on September 7!

September 4, 2010

FDEkszer and Fairysdreams Jewellery's Game of August

On August 26, I posted about a giveaway from FDEkszer and Fairysdreams Jewellery.  However, I didn't pay attention, and entered July's pattern giveaway (silly me right?!?!?).  Well, I returned to her blog and found out that there is a new game that is ending today.  I think I just may have snuck in under the wire... and I think there are a few hours for my readers to still win this awesome giveaway too!  The greatest thing?  Well, everyone is a winner!  All you have to do is go to her blog and join the game.  This is a very generous giveaway and I urge you to check it out and follow her blog to make sure you don't miss out on anything!

Happy Beading!
Kell

August 29, 2010

New Tip Tuesday... Errr... Sunday?!?

Okay, okay, I know I promised a new tip on Tuesday.  However, my first week of classes has been crazy.  So, I'm posting the tip now, on Sunday.  I'm really excited about this one and hope it helps others as well. 

I tend to get stuck in a color rut.  I really like the color blue, so I design with it quite often.  I have trouble being inspired by other colors or I don't know how to combine them.  Well, the other day, I was at Home Depot looking at paint samples for our new house when I saw the little booklets they have in the paint section. 



The paint booklets were just the ticket I've been looking for!  There are color pallets containing any color you want.  Each pallet includes a main color and three accent colors to inspire you.  What's even better?  They are small so you can easily put them in your purse to take with you to the bead shop!  I think I can officially move out of my color rut.  Not to mention, when I am feeling a bit of a block, I can just go to my color pallets and look for some inspiration!

Happy Beading!
Kell

August 26, 2010

Free Peyote Stitch Pattern from FDEkszer and Fairysdreams Jewellery

Okay, so if you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I love working with seed beads.  I don't know what it is about them, but I just find working with them cathartic.  Well, imagine my surprise when I found this blog post offering a free peyote stitch pattern.  It gives me another great way to create something with seed beads. 

If you want a free peyote stitch pattern, all you need to do is head over to FDEkszer and Fairysdreams Jewellery and play the game there.  The hardest part of the game for me was selecting the pattern I wanted.  I love them all and want them all!  If you like working with seed beads or want to try out peyote stitch, you should definitely check it out!

Happy Beading!
Kell

August 22, 2010

The Jewelry Swap -- Update

It's been a busy couple of weeks.  I had my orientation week at school last week, and let me tell you, we had some long days.  I know it's just a taste of what I'm in for this semester, but the days were long.  I finally have some time and wanted to update everyone on the awesome necklace (and bonus earrings -- Thanks Amy!  You rock!) Amy at Spyder Jewels sent me for the jewelry swap. 

In response to the questions I sent, I told her that I'm pretty casual and that I would like a lariat style necklace.  Well, she delivered!  This talented lady created a beautiful necklace and matching earrings for me.


Aren't they gorgeous?!?!?  I can picture them with everything from a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt to a little black dress.  I just love everything about the set.  The colors are perfect.  The style is great... casual, but elegant.  The length is great.  I am just so excited to add the set to my jewelry collection.  It is definitely going to get plenty of wear!

I can't provide too many details about the necklace I created for Davinia until she receives it (it takes a little while to make it around the world).  However, I can share my inspiration for the piece.  Shortly after receiving her answers to my questions, I saw an amazing photo on Beverly Ash Gilbert's blog.  As soon as I saw the photo, I felt compelled to create Davinia's necklace using the colors and style of the picture as my inspiration.  I hope she likes it, and I can't wait to share her answers to my questions and how I converted those answers into a piece of jewelry that I hope she loves!

Here's the inspiration photo from Beverly Ash Gilbert's blog

I'll provide more details later... and check back Tuesday for an all new New Tip Tuesday post. If you have trouble with color combinations, I think you'll like this post.

Happy Beading!
Kell

August 7, 2010

You're Invited to Win a $250 "Bead Genius" Prize Package

Duchess from Artbeads.com just emailed me with some details about an awesome giveaway Artbeads is hosting.  You've gotta check it out. 

Artbeads.com Bead IQ Trivia SweepstakesWho:  All U.S. and Canadian (except Quebec) residents who are 18 years of age and older.
What: An AWESOME sweepstakes!  Start by taking a Bead IQ quiz to assess your bead/jewelry making knowledge (this isn't required, but it is fun!).  Then, enter the sweepstakes for the amazing prize package!  The $250 'Bead Genius' Prize Package includes a $100 Artbeads.com gift cards and $150 worth of beading and jewelry making supplies. 
Where:  http://bit.ly/ajdrDF
When:  Hurry and enter, the sweepstakes ends on September 16, 2010.
Why:  Because this is an awesome prize package from an awesome company!

What's even better?  Artbeads.com has a prize for everyone who purchases beads and supplies from them!  They've just launched their Instant Savings Plan.  All you have to do is purchase the minimum order, and the savings are applied automatically when you check out. 
  • Spend $45 and you will receive a 5% discount.
  • Spent $95 and you will receive a 10% discount.
  • Spend $175 and you will receive a 15% discount.
What's even better than automatic discounts?  You can combine the instant savings with coupons for even bigger savings.  Just enter the coupon code when you checkout.  The instant savings will be applied to the post-coupon amount!


Happy Beading and Good Luck!
Kell

August 6, 2010

Some Details About the Big News

Okay, so I wanted things to be more settled and I wanted to have more details before I made my announcement... but, I've been holding it in for months and months... and I think I'm going to explode if I don't share my excitement. So, here goes.

My undergraduate degree is in Chemistry.  I love chemistry, and I'm pretty good at it.  However, after my first job I changed fields and have been working in instructional design since.  I like instructional design, and I'm OK at it.  But, I don't have the same passion for it that I have for chemistry.  Well, about a year ago, while still living in Guam, I put in a few applications for Chemistry PhD programs.  Fast forward a couple of months and the acceptance letters start coming in.  I really didn't think I was going to get in.  After all, it's been 9 years since I graduated from college.  To say I'm a bit rusty at my Chemistry would be an understatement.  But, a couple of crazy schools out there actually want me. 

What's even better?  Between my GI Bill and teaching assistantships, I can actually afford to go to school.  So, I have one more week of working full time ahead of me.  Then, I'll work a few hours a week to help bring in some extra money, but my main focus will be school.  This is a very good thing for me as a person, but unfortunately, it will leave very little time for jewelry making.  I'm going to be one busy girl.  But, I'm excited.  I want to do drug research, and I want to make a difference in the world.  I feel like I got off track somewhere along the way.  But, now I'm back on track.  And, I'm in a better place to appreciate how great going back to school is.  I don't think I would have appreciated it as much 9 years ago.  Now, I know what I want and I know what is important.  I'm willing to work hard to become the person I want to be. 

The tough part is coming up.  I have a little over a week to prepare for my proficiency exams (that's right, I have to take proficiency exams before enrolling in my classes).  Then comes the graduate level courses and research.  Oh yeah, don't forget the teaching and grading.  I'm sure before the first semester is over, I'll be questioning my sanity... wondering why I ever wanted to leave a job I'm comfortable in and challenge myself this way... but, I'm ready to work hard and will do the things I need to do to succeed and go where I want in life.  Wish me luck because this is going to be difficult... but such an amazing adventure.  I'm very lucky to have a husband who supports me and helps me stretch my wings and try something that will be a huge challenge. 

Well, that's it for now.  I hope you all have something exciting and challenging in your lives.  It helps us grow and flourish.  Feel free to share your excitement and challenges in the comments section.  Try something new!

Kell

July 30, 2010

Introducing the Jewelry Swap Participants: Amy Grass

Another really cool chick I've met through the jewelry swap is Amy Grass.  She does awesome things with seed beads.  Don't believe me?  Check out her blog.  I'm totally serious.  She's an awesome artist and a cool lady as well!  Now that I've had the chance to meet her and get to know a little about her, I want to pass the opportunity along to you.  Keep reading to learn a little bit about Amy and her beading journey!

Beadativity:  What is your name?
Amy:  Amy Grass

Beadativity:  When did you start designing and creating jewelry?
Amy:  The first beaded thing I ever saw was made by a friend of mine when we were 4. I took that strung necklace apart and put it back together at least a hundred times. At some point, I pillaged the beads and made new things with them. For most of my life I collected beads, and sorted beads, but rarely used beads. I got into seed beads about 10 years ago, and actually made things with them. I still have more than I'll likely ever use, but you know what they say, she who dies with the most beads...wins. 

Beadativity:  Why did you begin creating jewelry?
Amy:  I made the switch from collecting to creating in order to pay for my bad habits in college. Until then, the beads kinda lived in their bead boxes and were occasionally used in hemp necklaces of christmas ornaments.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have ever created?
Amy:  Gonturan was my favorite, until I made Raspberry Magic.

Gonturan: 








Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have seen?
Amy:  I really like Laura McCabe's work. The sculptural orbs featuring the doll's eyes are an especial favorite. But in terms of jewelry, probably Laura McCabe's Les Bijoux d'Eiffel.  

Beadativity:  What is your favorite jewelry making technique (beadweaving, wire wrapping, stringing, etc…)?
Amy:  Beadweaving, all the way. I pretend to dabble in wirework and other whatnot, but give me a tube of seed beads, and I'm happy, although I do enjoy a good ball of hemp, now and then.  

Beadativity:  Where does your inspiration for your pieces come from?
Amy:  usually the beads speak to me. I find a focal or a pretty tube and they tell me what they want to be ...

Beadativity:  Can my readers buy your jewelry? Where?
Amy:  Right now, I have an outdated website @ www.spyderjewels.4t.com and my blog. If they are interested in any pieces, they can send me an email, or comment on by blog.

Beadativity:  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Amy:  Working 60-70 hours a week leaves little free time, but in the time that I do have, beading and studying for my Professional Engineering certifitcation exam are the things that I do. I love math and things math related, so I do like studying.  

Beadativity:  Do you have any pets?
Amy: I have a red-eared slider (a turtle) named Larry. She is about 4 years old, and I've had her since she was a hatchling. (Pretty sure shedoesn't know she's a girl-neither did I until she had been Larry for over a year). She lives with my parents while I'm travelling for work.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color?
Amy:  Kelly Green

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color to use in jewelry?
Amy:  I use all colors. (Even slime green and flourescent orange sometimes together!)

Beadativity:  What is one new technique that you would like to learn?
Amy:  I would like to learn bead crochet, but I don't crochet. I barely knit! I would like to have a better grasp or right-angle weave, however. I understand the basics, but I just never like using it, but it makes such cool stuff. I'm torn, to be honest.  

Beadativity:  Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
Amy:  I love orange chicken from Panda Express. I could eat it with white rice and a Pepsi every day for the rest of my life.

This is just a little bit about Amy.  If you want to get to know her better, check out her blog!  I'd suggest following her so you can keep up with all the happenings in her life!

July 29, 2010

Introducing the Jewelry Swap Participants: Davinia

One great thing about organizing this jewelry swap is meeting some really cool people who are also involved in the jewelry business.  One of the new people I have met is Davinia.  She's a great jewelry designer who has recently started working with polymer clay (and you should definitely check out her polymer clay designs because they are as awesome as her completed jewelry!).  She is someone I might not have met otherwise since she is not from the United States.  Now that I have been lucky enough to meet her, I'll give you the chance to get to know a little bit about her!

Beadativity:  What is your name?
Davinia:  Davinia.

Beadativity:  When did you start designing and creating jewelry?
Davinia:  About 2 years ago.

Beadativity:  Why did you begin creating jewelry?
Davinia:  I don’t really know to be honest. I’ve scrapbooked, made ATC’s, started making art journals with lot’s of mixed media and jewelry just progressed from there. I think I get bored easily and just want to keep trying new things, experimenting and stretching myself a bit.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have ever created?
Davinia:  There’s a few.

I really like all the pieces I made using wallpaper and grungeboard. Actually now I come to think of it that’s probably where I started my jewelry making journey. I had to teach myself how to put the the pieces together using wire, stringing, beading etc.





This is one of the first polymer clay pieces I’ve used in a necklace which is a new favourite.








Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have seen (you can send a picture or link if you want)?
Davinia:  Too many to choose from really, so many designers I admire.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite jewelry making technique (beadweaving, wire wrapping, stringing, etc…)?
Davinia:  Beadweaving I haven’t tried yet and I enjoy wire wrapping although it can be a little frustrating at times trying to get the wrap perfect. At present I’m playing with polymer clay in the hopes I can make a lot of my own components rather than buying ready made.

Beadativity:  Where does your inspiration for your pieces come from?
Davinia:  Everywhere, TV, stores, magazines, unusual colour combinations I may have seen somewhere.

Beadativity:  Can my readers buy your jewelry? Where?
Davinia:  Yes, I have an Artfire online store http://www.artfire.com/users/backpocketdesigns.  And I also have a blog http://deeznews-dee.blogspot.com/

Beadativity:  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Davinia:  Apart from making jewlery, I’m an avid reader. I work part time so not a huge amount of spare time.

Beadativity:  Do you have any pets?
Davinia:  No.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color?
Davinia:  Almost any shade of green.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color to use in jewelry?
Davinia:  It changes, at the moment I’m using lots’ of black and silver but I think I need to add more colour now that the southern spring and summer are fast approaching.

Beadativity:  What is one new technique that you would like to learn?
Davinia:  I would really love to learn metal smithing.

Beadativity:  Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
Davinia:  I’ve never met another person named Davinia.

This is just a quick peek into a really awesome jewelry designer.  Definitely check out her blog and her store to find out more about her!

July 28, 2010

Introducing the Jewelry Swap Participants: Dawn Doucette

For those of you who follow my blog, the name Dawn Doucette is not a new one.  She's been mentioned and featured on my blog a bunch of times before.  However, in this post, I want to give you a chance to know her a little better.  Read on to learn how she got her start, what inspires her, and what she hopes to learn to do in the future.

Beadativity:  What is your name?
Dawn:  Dawn Doucette.

Beadativity:  When did you start designing and creating jewelry?
Dawn:  I've tinkered for years, but I really decided to pursue jewelry making as a business about 2 years ago.

Beadativity:  Why did you begin creating jewelry?
Dawn:  As a kid, I did not come from a creative family - quite the opposite, everything was black & white.  It was my future Mother-in-Law that encouraged me to be creative and as she said, "Surely sweetie, there's something you are really good at.  You just haven't discovered it yet."  Then, she needed a chain for her reading glasses... I beaded one for her and the rest is all history.  All of a sudden wire began calling my name and beads just couldn't resist coming to live at my house! :)

Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have ever created
Dawn:  Favorite piece of jewelry ever... ohhh, that's so hard. Don't make me choose. It's really a toss-up between two.
First is a necklace I just made for my mom. The crystals and pearls came together with the hand-painted porcelain beads perfectly (and she loves it).

The other would have to be this triple strand purple & turquoise necklace. The colors and textures turned out even more beautiful than I had thought originally! Other than that, anytime I get to create with Swarovski or pearls for wedding jewelry is always special.




Beadativity:  What is your favorite piece of jewelry you have seen?
Dawn:  There's not one specific piece. I've seen so many. I really admire glass artists that create lampwork glass beads. But for complete pieces, I just love the intricate wirework. The swirls and spirals just make me drool.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite jewelry making technique (beadweaving, wire wrapping, stringing, etc…)?
Dawn:  I create using different methods, but my most creative pieces have been wire crocheted. The possibilities are endless!

Beadativity:  Where does your inspiration for your pieces come from?
Dawn:  Oh everywhere! I can see a piece of artwork or a picture and it talks to me. Sometimes nature - flowers, butterflies and places inspire me. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be open to it!

Beadativity:  Can my readers buy your jewelry? Where? 
Dawn:  Yes, you can buy on my website: http://www.designsbydawnmarie.com or directly through my artfire store: http://www.artfire.com/users/dawnmd But for routine giggles and inspiration, my blog is a happenin' piece of real estate. http://designsbydawnmarie.blogspot.com

Beadativity:  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Dawn:  I love spending time with family. Golfing, reading and my favorite past time... a good afternoon nap!

Beadativity:  Do you have any pets?
Dawn:  Absolutely - we have two dogs and they truly are our kids. My little princess is Brandi, a Springer Spaniel and my son Cody, is an English Setter. They are best of friends!

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color?
Dawn:  Purple... hands down, always has been since I could say my colors as a little tot.

Beadativity:  What is your favorite color to use in jewelry?
Dawn:  For metal & wire, I'm fascinated with copper. When it comes to choosing beads I love working with purple (of course) and turquoise.

Beadativity:  What is one new technique that you would like to learn?
Dawn:  My bucket list for jewelry making includes just once, I'd love to play with fire. I admire the artists that create lampwork beads and I've always wanted to try it. Someday I'll get to... I just know I will.

Beadativity:  Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
Dawn:  I love hugs! I hug everyone... it's just me. Sharing a hug always brightens someones day and then they can go forward and share a smile with somebody else!

This is just a peek into a really cool woman.  Check out her blog to get to know her a little better.  When you read her posts, you'll feel like one of her closest friends!  And definitely check out all of her beautiful jewelry.  She's an amazing artist.  Her Mother-in-Law was right that she is great at something (actually, I'm pretty sure she's good at many things) and it's definitely jewelry.

July 25, 2010

Help Beads of Courage Win a $25,000 Grant

My friend Dawn from Designs by Dawn Marie recently posted this blog about Beads of Courage.  It's a really great program and could really use your vote to win a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project.  I couldn't provide the information in a better way, so I'm just re-posting Dawn's post.  Please read her words below and consider registering and voting to help Beads of Courage win one of the 10 grants!

A short time ago I posted about Beads of Courage, an organization I have known about for quite some time now. Beads of Courage helps children with cancer and other horrendous illnesses that are undergoing treatments. For each treatment the child goes through they are given a special bead to symbolize their courage and help tell their story. Some of those children have strands and strands of beads symbolizing hundreds of treatments - blood transfusions, chemotherapy, spinal taps... I can't even imagine.

Here's a story that our local news station ran about Beads of Courage and the Children's Hospital of WI some time ago. This was my first introduction to their incredible organization.

Please watch this video from WISN 12. I can't embed it, so you need to click the link to go to their website. (Right Click and Open in New Window) http://www.wisn.com/video/19300295/index.html

That story moved me more than I can even express. I felt for the families, I felt for the kids... and as someone that's grown up in a family with all sorts of health challenges I can empathize with all of them. I wanted to help. Right now, the Pepsi Refresh project is offering $25K to each of the 10 best ideas in the month of July. Beads of Courage is in the running... we're really close, but we aren't there yet. The ideas that are ahead of us are also really wonderful ideas -with really loyal voters. However, I believe that if you show a child love and compassion, they will grow up doing the same for soooo many more people.

Here's where I'm begging strongly asking that you help out Beads of Courage. We can vote daily... and it's only through July 31st. So 6 more days. We need to move up to #10 or Better to win one of the grants. It just takes a minute to register (which you only do once) then once a day log in and click "Vote for this idea." It's the only vote I cast because I really, really want BOC to move up.

Here's the website for the Pepsi Refresh Project. 
http://www.refresheverything.com/beadsofcourage

Please go vote, then tweet this and share it on your Facebook wall, and e-mail it to anybody that doesn't partake in social networking. If you belong to a group of like-minded people, ask them to do the same. It will really make a difference if we all can help in the last 6 days! Let's show the kids just how much we care!

Hope your week is spectacular!
{Hugs!}
Dawn

July 22, 2010

Jewelry Swap Details

Well, it's been a week since my Who's Up For a Jewelry Swap post, and three people besides myself have signed up to take part in the jewelry swap!  Now, it is time to announce the jewelry making assignments.  So, (drumroll please) here are the assignments:
  • Marsspyder will design a piece of jewelry for me.
  • I will design a piece of jewelry for Davinia.
  • Davinia will design a piece of jewelry for Dawn.
  • Dawn will design a piece of jewelry for Marsspyder.
Please come up with a series of questions to ask the person for whom you are designing and send it to her over the next few days (you should be able to contact your assigned person through her profile).  Remember, you have two weeks to complete the piece of jewelry and put it in the mail.

As an aside, I'd love to send each of you a series of questions and post an interview with each of you over the next two weeks while the jewelry swap is going on!  I would also like to post the series of questions I ask and a picture of the piece I create based on the questions, at the end of the swap (after you receive the piece of course, Davinia... I definitely want it to be a surprise when you receive it).

I'm really excited about the jewelry swap and can't wait to see what everyone designs!!!  Have fun, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Kell

July 20, 2010

Big Changes on the Horizon

You know how people ask "where do you see yourself in five years?"  Well, I asked myself the same question last year... and I didn't like where I was headed.  So, I decided to make some changes and try to change the direction of my life.  I can't give too many details right now, but in about a month all the changes I've been working to make will come together.  My life will go down a dramatically different path. 

I'm working to become the person I think I should have been becoming all along.  I want to make a difference in the world... and I don't think the person I am right now will make a difference.  However, the person I want to become may be able to make the world a better place for a much larger group of people than I will even meet in my lifetime.  I can't wait for the change to take effect... and I can't wait to be able to share all the details with you.  For now though, I hope you'll join with me in the excitement of becoming the person I want to be... even if it is about 10 years late ;)

Kell

July 18, 2010

Beachy Keen

My big project this weekend was a beach-themed necklace using some of the sea glass I collected while visiting my family in Maine.  I began by selecting the piece of seaglass I wanted to use from my stash.  I just loved the triangular shape of this piece of sea glass.   
After selecting the piece of sea glass and shells I wanted to include, I had to figure out how to include the seaglass in the necklace.  Since I found the sea glass myself, it didn't have a hole in it and I didn't want to try drilling it myself (I'd rather practice on unimportant pieces of glass before I work on something I'd hate to see break).  I started by trying to create a bezel for the glass, but I ended up making the bezel too small and it looked too heavy.  I really wanted something light and beachy.  I came up with this free-form-weaving net.  I thought it went with the whole beachy theme... like the glass is caught in a fishing net. 

My next challenge was figuring out how to incorporate the shells and really create the feeling of the ocean.  I selected my colors first.  I wanted to work from the dark blue of the deep ocean to the aquas and greens of shallow water and the reef.  I created mixtures of each color and faded them together.  Finally, I sprinkled some shells
throughout the mixture.  I then used a freeform beading technique to create a really substantial necklace to balance the size of the pendant.  I wasn't sure how the necklace would turn out, but in the end, it is my favorite piece I have created to date.  I think it really invokes a feeling of the beach.  It's really organic with all shapes and sizes of beads.  I accomplished what I wanted to even though I didn't know exactly where I was going when I started.  Everything came from the one piece of glass I found.
Happy Beading! 
Kell

July 15, 2010

Who's Up For a Jewelry Swap?

In April, I posted about a jewelry swap I did with my friend Dawn of Designs By Dawn Marie.  Well, I thought it might be fun to plan a bigger jewelry swap with more people.  Here's what I'm thinking...

I'll take names for the jewelry swap for one week.  If you're interested in participating, leave a comment on this post and I'll include you.  Feel free to send the information to any other jewelry artists you think might be interested.  All they need to do to be included is comment on this post.  You can also blog about this or provide information about it via other social media outlets if you think others would like to hear about it.  The more people who are involved, the better this event will be!

After taking names for a week, each person will be assigned one other person (you will not be paired up, so the person you are creating for will be different than the person who is creating for you).  You should send a series of questions to the person you are assigned (you can ask questions about jewelry -- what color do you like, what style do you like, etc... or you can ask questions to learn about your person's personality -- what do you like to do, what's your favorite book, etc...).  Based on the answers to your questions, you should design a custom piece for the person.  I think it will be really interesting to find out how others see us and what kind of jewelry they create based on questions they ask.

Each designer will have two weeks to create the custom piece and send it to the person he/she is assigned.  To make sure everyone receives an "equal" piece, we should set some limits for how much to spend in materials.  If you're interested in participating, please let me know how much you think is a good amount to spend/invest.

Have fun with this!  Be creative, and try to come up with something new and great for the swap.  Hopefully we'll all leave this event with a few new friends in the business and a whole lot of inspiration.

July 14, 2010

A New House, Internet, and Stuff!!!

It has been a long road, but I am finally getting settled in Miami!  Our adventure began at the end of April when we shipped most of our belongings from Guam.  At the end of May, we shipped the remainder of our belongings... and on June 1, we hopped a flight to Miami.  Okay, okay, so hopped a flight isn't trully accurate.  The travel time from Guam to the East Coast of the United States is about 24 hours including layovers... so, we dragged ourselves through the travel process (although we did have a 4 day layover in Hawaii to help with the trip).

Our adventure wasn't over when we arrived in Miami.  All of our housing options had fallen through, so we stayed in a hotel while looking for a new home.  That's right, we moved over 8,000 miles without having a place to live.  After 3 days of looking at homes, we put in an offer and hopped in a minivan to drive north to pick up our beautiful dog, Bailey.  On the trip, we heard back from the seller and had to do all the paperwork from a FedEx Office store.  We continued our trip north and stayed with my in-laws for about a week.  While there, we heard back from the inspection company... and had to re-negotiate on the house.

After a great week with my in-laws, the hubby, the puppy, and I headed to my home town to spend a weekend with my step-mom.  It was the first time I'd been back to NY since my dad's funeral.  It was a difficult trip, and I freaked out before and during the visit.  But, I made it through and I think I am better for it.  Hopefully, it will help me achieve closure.

After the weekend, we spent three days traveling back to Miami... and, by three days, I mean three looooong days of driving.  Upon arrival, we moved in to a hotel for 2 weeks (before we could close on our house).  After the hotel, we moved into our new house with a puppy an air mattress and a few clothes for about a week before our shipment arrived and our internet was installed.  Now, two of our shipments have arrived... we still have one shipment left... and my car still hasn't arrived yet.  However, we are partially unpacked and able to live a relatively normal life.  We still have lots of work ahead of us, but life is pretty good after a long time of being unsettled. 

If you were keeping count, we were unsettled for almost three months, stayed in seven hotels (one in Guam, one in Hawaii, one in Miami, one on the way up north, two on the way back to Miami, and another one in Miami), stayed with two family members, and slept on an air mattress for a week.  Having our own belongings, house, puppy, and ability to cook food... priceless.  While stressful, the entire process was totally worth it.  I love being back in the U.S., I love our house, and I really enjoy our new neighborhood.  I can't wait to see what South Florida life has in store for me!

Kell
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