January 31, 2010

giveaway + vote = win :)

Last fall I blogged about how much I heart a sweet website called "Lovely Clusters," a charming interactive website where you can search for inspiring artistic items by color or theme. They featured a few of my items and I have since been a bit smitten over the site. Well this month they are hosting "The Lovelies" awards, a chance for people to submit their votes for their favorite blog/shop combination. And if that wasn't cool enough, they are giving away three dozen prizes for the winners :)
Now here is where you come in. Bead Up has offered an item for the winner -- can you spot it? Since we all don't have shops, I am going to give away an additional wishbone necklace (in either silver or brass, winners choice!) based on those of you who vote for Bead Up's Etsy shop and blog! To enter, visit The Lovelies nomination site and post a comment on the Bead Up entries (click here and here to enter!) to nominate Bead Up for the Lovelies award. I will choose a winner from the entries on The Lovelies website at the end of the month! Thanks for participating and supporting Bead Up!

January 27, 2010

*Yelp is for Jewelry Addicts

It's times like these that make you realize how blogging has become so ingrained in your life! I want to apologize for being MIA lately -- I just started a new job (and if this was a personal blog, let me tell ya, I would write a novel about the transition!), my brother just moved in (which has distracted me from creating - in a good way), and LA has been hit with all sorts of rain that has left our roof leaking and our garage flooded. I have been working on a few custom pieces and will post about them soon (one I am particularly thrilled with!) and have been collecting items to include in my Spring Collection. I promise - I have been Beadin' Up - just not online so much! That said, I just wanted to thank you for hanging in there and being patient with me - I am working on re-creating a routine that will allow me to post at least 3-times a week, if not more. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you my recent feature on Yelp! I was nominated to be an "Elite" member early last year and have been a featured Yelper a few times - but this week it was for my series on LA's Jewelry District! If you haven't checked out *Yelp, no matter where you live, I suggest you give it a try - it's addictive and really, really amusing (and free!)
Interact with the map to check out the locations on my featured list! Ciao, bellas!

January 20, 2010

Randomly Raining

Ok, so I need to first apologize for not posting regularly this week. It's been a little batty in the Bead Up house -- for starters, I got a new job (prayers are answered!) and transfer departments this week. Secondly, it's been raining cats and dogs and frogs here in Los Angeles, leaving our roof leaking and our garage flooded (which is what happens when you spoil your house with rainless weather for so long!). Lastly, my brother moved in with us this week, too, and the hubs and I are enjoying catching up with him in the downtime. Needless to say, it's gotten in the way of a bunch of bottled up creativity, both in blogging and jewelry making! I have, however, found a few moments in the space between to post a few new items on Etsy. Most of these are technically "left over" from my Christmas craft shows, but they definitely fit in with the rest of my dainty necklace collection on Etsy!
Butterfly, Turquoise, and Pearl necklace: $14
Buzz Buzz Buzz Brass Bee Necklace, $13 Thrive Brass Necklace with Leaf Charm and Freshwater Pearl, $14 Silver Black Bird Tag Gemstone Necklace, $14
I also re-made a few pieces of jewelry for a friend of mine this week. Carla, who works in my soon-to-be old office, asked if I could help her out with an old piece of jewelry. Carla was born and raised in Peru, and before leaving the country she collected shells and trinkets from the country and had them made into a beautiful long necklace. Eventually some of the shells fell off of the hemp wiring and Carla has kept them in a box for decades. She simply asked if I could restring them into a medium-length necklace and bracelet with gold wire and fixtures. No problem! At first glance, the shells didn't look like a challenge. They had lots of holes already in them, which meant I didn't have to dig out my bead reamer. I hadn't anticipated that, since each shell is so uniquely shaped, the thin wire I was using would take on the shape of the shells and twist and turn permanently. At the end of the day, re-wiring the shells felt more like a needle-and-thread project than a beading game, but I think they turned out well, their own unique way!Carla was all smiles when I gave her the "resurrected" jewelry. She wrote on Facebook: "I have had these shells with me since I was 7. I found them on the beach in Barranco, Lima - Peru; a week before we left the mother land for the good ole' USA." Hooray! So bear with me, Bead Up buddies, as I may come and go within the next week here in Bloggin' land as the rain continues to pour and I continue in my transitions! I'll send you a postcard from my final destination! And if you haven't done so, please consider contributing to the relief efforts in Haiti. Click here for ideas how you (yes you!) can help!

January 15, 2010

Haiti Relief

I just couldn't stomach writing about the (comparatively small and trite) world of fashion and jewelry when the world as Haitians know it is ending. In fact, I am left quite speechless. Therefore, I would like to urge you to give, in whatever way you can, to the relief effort in this already impoverished country. Here are a few ways you can help: Sponsor a child through World Vision: a very rewarding way to feel connected to those whom you are helping! World Vision is one of the leading relief aids in the world and is really great at keeping donors connected to the country in which their donation was specified. Texting through American Red Cross: Thanks to the growing culture of emerging news stories via social networking sites, the American Red Cross has already raised $5 million through it's text messaging campaign! What a tangible way for people, especially youth who may feel they have no resources of their own, to help out (even if Dad is the one who gets the cell phone bill, I am sure he will understand!). Read about other cool social networking campaigns here. Donate money directly, and not just in times of "need": lots of disaster relief efforts work year-round to ensure that past disasters are amended and future disasters are avoided, in addition to taking care of the day-to-day needs of the impoverished (many of which are even in our own neighborhoods!). A few of my favorites include Lutheran World Relief and Habitat for Humanity, who is already looking for ways to restore housing in Haiti. And though I have never had any direct contact with the organization, it looks like "Hope for Haiti" is another great fund that works to provide education to Haitian children year-round. No doubt all of these charities can use our financial assistance, especially now. Note: Though giving is super great, there are lots of "organizations" out there who are actually scamming for your well intended money. And while it seems natural to send resources directly or to the government, doing so actually hinders the effectiveness of your donation. This article articulates what to look for in a charity and how to best use your resources. Buy something on Etsy: Didn't think I would bring it back to jewelry and Etsy, did you? Looks like lots of people on Etsy are designating part of all of their profits to the Haitian relief effort. Why not give AND get, while you are at it? Read this article about how Etsy staffers are also donating funds that will be matched by Etsy itself, and how you can set up your shop for donations, too.
And finally, and of course, PRAY. Even if you aren't in the habit of doing it regularly, even if you don't know who to whom you are praying. Give it a try.
(5x7 Did You Think To Pray on Brown by persimmon & pink, $13)

January 13, 2010

I Love You, Wednesdays: Numbers and Stars

In light of all the problems we are facing, it's so refreshing - and often sometimes humbling - to be reminded by how little they are in the big scheme of things. Yesterday an earthquake hit the island of Haiti, killing over 100,000. For as hard as I try, I cannot manage to comprehend what that number really means. It's like taking all of my Facebook friends and multiplying them by 100. Or looking around the Superdome and still adding 30,000! In numbers, it's a whole nation, history, and culture of people. Please remember to keep the people of Haiti and those working on local relief in your thoughts and prayers. And if you feel compelled to do so, consider donating to a disaster relief cause, such as Lutheran World Relief.
The magnitude of numbers especially overwhelmed me yesterday when I took yesterday off of work and drove my parents and brother (parents are visiting from Kentucky; brother just moved here) to the Griffith Observatory. I have heard that this place is an LA Must-See, both for it's impressive view of the city, but also for it's equally impressive, newly renovated museum. Oh, and it's home to lots of movies, including Rebel Without A Cause, The Rocketeer, and Yes Man. We drove to the peak of the Los Feliz Mountains and within minutes understood why this is on the top of the list. Breathtaking.
(love my new camera and picnik photo enhancer!)
I'll spare you all the details of the Observatory and it's recent renovation and programs and get to the good part (my husband is good at reminding me to "Get to your point!" when I am telling stories - I am like spaghetti - to me, it's all connected!). Connecting the new and the old wings of the Museum and Observatory (which is celebrating it's 70th birthday this year!) is the "Cosmic Connection." I was BEYOND surprised with the exhibit along the walls of the corridor... I'll let the website's description do the talking: "The Cosmic Connection, the corridor linking the historic building above with the new Gunther Depths of Space below, provides the transition from ground-based and more familiar astronomy to a new realm of cosmic perspective. The main element in this passageway is a 150-foot timeline of the universe whimsically composed of celestial-themed jewelry in the glass case that lines the corridor. At the top end of the corridor, near the Guide Station, visitors pass the Big Bang. At the bottom end, near the Edge of Space mezzanine, all of human history occupies a fraction of an inch. In between, large images illustrate key moments in the evolution of the universe and our cultural connection to the cosmos." That's right - a whole astronomical illustration made of nothing but JEWELRY! It was beyond amazing - 150 feet of star-themed broaches, necklaces, earrings, even some sheriff's badges and studded belts, all lines up to depict the infamy of the history of our universe! According to the Epoch Times, the collection is made up of over 2,200 pieces of jewelry, most of which were from donor Kara Knack's private collection. She started collection celestial broaches when she noticed the conversations they started. As a friend of the Observatory, she offered them to the new wing of the museum and managed to collect over 500 more pieces thanks to friends who worked at Swap Meets. Originally the use of her pieces was discouraged by scientists and astronomers who saw them as "kitchy" and "unscientific" (lame - and perhaps proving the science and art are often like oil and water?!).According to SFGate, "In 2003, Krupp [the director of the observatory] prevailed, insisting that 'a ribbon of jewelry will serve as a time line of the universe.' Just days before the Galactic Gala on Oct. 29, 2006, that marked the reopening, Knack unrolled a 165-foot-long piece of paper in her driveway. She drew a line that she said looked like a giant string snapped like a whip. At the Los Angeles jewelry mart, she bought connectors, pins, nails and needle-nosed pliers. She enlisted 18 volunteers who stationed the jewelry along a display board, earring by bracelet by necklace by pin, with Knack organizing the pieces to appear 'random and chaotic.' Having worn almost every piece to one occasion or another, she knew them well." Working on a crazy timeline, she and the volunteers constructed the entire display within ONE day! The resulting display shows "the universe of over 13.7 billion years, from its beginning to today, a time line marks each billion year interval, and in panels written by Carolyn Collins Petersen, tells what scientists think happened during specific time periods. Clustering many small pieces at the beginning symbolizes the Big Bang, the beginning of our universe, and placing numerous pieces with suns and moons that have human faces toward the end of the line to mark the beginning of human life" (Epoch Times). The pieces really were each stunning, each in their own right, and shined ever so beautifully under the bright display lights. Most astounding of all was the scale of the display: 150 feet represents the 15+/- billion year history of our universe! That means each of the 2,200 pieces of jewelry represents 6,818,181 years of history! That really puts things into perspective! Or, in terms of the recent Haitian disaster, every piece of jewelry represents 45 lives lost. I can comprehend it more clearly now, and am left, for once, speechless.

January 11, 2010

Finding Inspiration

So last week I blogged about how I was in desperate need of inspiration and found some encouragement in words and art found on Etsy. I guess I have a fondness for the simplicity of simple words and all the joy and comfort that is found in them. In fact, I am thinking that the majority of my Spring Collection is going to involve an array of word charms (you know that I have already started creating for the collection's debut!). But I couldn't keep all the joy to myself, now could I? Here are a few pieces that I have already put up on Etsy: Additionally, I made a few custom pieces for some friends of mine last week. The first was for a friend from church who wanted a long black and silver necklace for her daughter, whose middle name is Joy. Here's what I came up with. Secondly, my dear friend Sherrie asked me to make her daughter, who also happened to be the flower girl at my wedding, a pink necklace. "I don't care what it looks like, so long as it's pink!" I knew immediately what I would do!
Finally, thanks to you all for sending your kind words via last week's post. I guess you all could tell that I was down, because your words of wisdom and similar stories were just what I needed! I have already felt like the road is beginning to pave itself in front of us; I will of course keep you all updated!

January 8, 2010

Fashionably Friday: Style Lab

Part of the joy of making jewelry, or even buying jewelry, is getting your hands on it. I have had so many customers ask to first "see" some of my pieces before they decide to buy because they "want to touch it." Though I have done my fair share of buying supplies online, there is something to be said for finding an awesome piece in a store, putting your hands on it, examining it in person with your eyes, holding it up to your ears or neck or next to other supplies, and deciding that you can't leave without it! That said, I was a little concerned when I first heard of "Style Lab." Don't know what it is, either? In short, it's a game for the hand-held Nintendo DS that has teamed up with my favorite online jewelry supply distributor, ArtBeads, which gives you the "chance" to "design" your own jewelry with ArtBeads supplies. Real ArtBeads supplies that are photographed, and, in the words of the game's description, "manipulated," can be put together on the screen and made into designs of the player's choosing. Additionally, "The game features a retail-based storyline in which players take on the challenges of running their own jewelry boutique. As they complete designs for their clientele, the boutiques will blossom and more customers will come to commission new work." Take a look:
As if that's not,
ummm, interesting enough, girls can then upload their pictures and place their designs on their own faces and necks. If she (or he, no need to hate!) likes it, they can then send money to ArtBeads, where their staff will then create the piece based on the animated design and send it to the gal.
I don't mean to be a hater. I think it's great to get girls - and boys! - in the mindset where creativity is nurtured and explored. But is this really the best way to go? How many more computer screens will replace hands-on creativity? Why place another barrier between you and raw creation? Furthermore, the players only "design" their jewelry, they don't even get the satisfaction of actually making it with their own hands! And speaking from experience, though I LOVE ArtBeads, their supplies can add up quickly. Financially, I mean. If Little Miss Molly makes an exclusively Swarovski Crystal necklace for herself, and then has to pay for the staff at ArtBeads to construct it and ship it, you are looking at a (minimum) $75 piece of jewelry! And for what - so you can say that Molly "created" it? Stepping down off my soap-box now. Actually, no, I still have more thoughts! On the plus side, this game might be a great TOOL for envisioning jewelry when you don't have all the pieces in front of you. I have personally copied and pasted some bead product photos and photo-shopped them next to each other to "see" what they would look like as a finished piece. But if ArtBeads were really thinking about integrating technology to their full advantage, they would offer this component to anyone as a way of increasing their site traffic and eventual sales (at least I think it would be a smart move). Charging Molly $30 for the game, plus the $130+ it cost for the gaming system in the first place, plus the fee to have the staff assemble your piece, the supplies, and the shipping, you could just as well buy all the supplies you wanted and play with the components in person! Is this game thus enabling Molly's creativity or inhibiting it? Ok, now it's your turn on the soap-box, lovies. I want to hear what you think - the good, the bad, and the ugly. And don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings. I would have made a horrible reporter anyway - my opinion prevents any chance at objectivity!

January 6, 2010

I Love You, Wednesdays

I started the I Love You, Wednesdays weekly feature last year in attempts to chronicle the sources of inspiration behind my jewelry creations. Colors, themes, shapes, places, artists, etc. Some of my finds have a direct affect on my own creations, others are inspiration behind creations I hope to make. It usually isn't hard to find inspiration on Etsy itself, which has lead me to write this feature mostly about other Etsy products which I find inspiring. It's lead to some great conversations and even bloggin' friendships with other Etsians and readers :) That said, this week I was in need of inspiration. But not artistic inspiration, like usual, but life inspiration. It's going to be a challenging 2010. No need to go into detail, but let's just say that the Bead Up house has a lot of changes coming our way - big decisions which need to be made - an imminent geographical move - new and renewed career changes, etc. (and no, just because I am a semi-newlywed does not mean I am pregnant! You can put the suspicion aside!). I have been left feeling like I have no control over my future, which is partially true, yet at the same time a huge amount of pressure to take charge and claim my path. I feel both helpless and left to the direction of the wind, which, for a person with OCD-management tendencies, is not a good feeling! One thing that will not change, of course, is my Bead Up-ing. In fact, it's one of the few things that I do have full control of and that will not move or shift on me :) When we were in Kentucky last week I spent alot of time shopping for items to add to my Spring Collection, and found myself with lots of "word" realted items. Hoping other word-related finds on Etsy could "speak" to me, I searched for some of my favorite words that bring me encourgement and remind me that - ahhhh - everything is going to be alright. I hope they can do the same for you :)
Click on the image for a close up of the smaller text - it's all quite breath-taking! Don't forget to visit their shops for more inspiration!
When you find yourself in a slump, or at a crazy dark cross-road, what helps inspire you back to wholeness?

January 4, 2010

New Year = New Stuff!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful Christmas and joyous New Year celebration! The Bead Up house went from crazy busy to crazy relaxed and back to crazy busy over the last week and a half! Between filling in lots of Bead Up orders for Christmas (both custom and from the shop) and even saying "yes" to a crazy call at 12:30p.m. on Christmas Eve to make a custom necklace for a co-worker who, at the last minute, needed a Christmas gift for his wife (...?!), the days leading up to Christmas were both rushed and quite profitable ;) The hubs and I then flew to my parent's in Kentucky at 4am on Christmas morning and spent the week celebrating the birth of Jesus and my own birthday! In addition to sleeping in, eating whatever was in my path of destruction, playing lots of board games and watching lots of movies, I also did quite a bit of shopping and stocked up on what I think is the beginning of my Spring Collection of supplies - all I am going to say is that it will involve lots of word charms :) Since my return to LA a few days ago, I already have quite a few custom orders on the queue, many of which I can't wait to blog about in the near future! That said, I managed to score quite a few free, cheap, or totally expensive items over Christmas, all of which will be very helpful to Bead Up in this new year! Back in November I entered several giveaways hosted by my new blog friend Celeste (with whom I did a giveaway earlier in the fall). I guess good karma gets returned to you, because I won a super awesome tote bag compliments of Memento! After a few e-mails back and forth with the creator of the tote, which included debating over colors and fonts, I got this beauty:
This tote is not only super cute and useful, but it's also collapsible! Perfect for jewelry parties and shows, in addition to storing my stuff around the craft room!
Lime, pink, and brown - Bead Up's favorites!
Thanks again, Celeste and Memento, for sharing your time and talents!
Next on my list was more items from Vistaprint. I have blogged before about how much I love their website and deals, which include crazy free e-mail promotions with no strings attached! I splurged a little before Christmas and ordered a (free!) Bead Up note book (with a slight typo - can you find it?!)...
And some Bead Up letterhead and Gift Certificates (which can be purchased for $25, or any other denomination, here)! If you found the typo in the notebook, maybe your eagle eyes are also noticing a slightly different quality in my pictures. My last, but not least, Christmas splurge was...
A Nikon D3000!!!
I have been planning on buying a new, slightly more "professional" camera for awhile (the camera I have been using, a Fuji Finepix S5200, has been a great companion in my travels to Asia, Europe, and around the US in the last 3 years, though I was ready for the next step!). The hubs, my parents, and I are planning a trip to the Holy Land the year (and not the amusement park in Florida!), and I plan to bring a camera that's worthy of such a trip. And with such a successful Bead Up year, I figured it's not only a reward for all my hard work, but also a great investment for Bead Up's product photos! I have yet to read the owners manual (I kind of like figuring it out organically!), but plan on getting to know this thing like the back of my hand in the new year! So, thank YOU, Bead Up friend, for helping me reach this goal and buying this camera!
Prayers to you for a happy and healthy new year! Here's to another decade!