May 17, 2015

Art of Awareness Blog Hop

Welcome, today I'm taking part in a blog hop hosted by Lori Anderson and Heather Millican of Swoondimples that is about raising awareness for causes that we want to support.

Based on the ribbon awareness campaign, beadmaker Heather Millian of Swoondimples created bean beads for us with our cause color and a word or two that we requested. When I saw the little "be." beads in Heather's shop, I knew those were the ones that I wanted for this hop.

For my cause I'm supporting mental health awareness with the color green and depression in particular.

It's difficult to watch someone I love struggle with a depression that causes them to not function or makes them feel completely hopeless. I can't fathom them not feeling worthy of friends or love or that they feel so much despair that death seems like a better choice.

Depression is terrible. It's not just the blues or feeling sad. It steals people from us, not only having them withdraw and change but depression is a disease that can sometimes be fatal. Think about that, someone struggling from this disease is at risk of dying if they don't get help. And even then, in a flash of a moment and a lapse in judgment, they could be gone. And that breaks my heart and keeps me awake sometimes.

There is help for depression, although it's a long road to recovery and may be an illness that is managed rather than cured. Start here if you think you are suffering from depression or worried about a loved one.

Here are 7 great ways you can support and help someone suffering from depression.  Click here for more ways to support a loved one.

If you know someone suffering from mental illness, of any kind, treat them with respect, kindness and caring. Let them know that they are important to you. Spend time with them, even if it's difficult. Don't expect them to snap out of it, if they could they would do it in a heartbeat! And keep in mind that just because someone has a mental illness doesn't mean that aren't intelligent, brilliant and amazing.

For my awareness pieces I created two bracelets. I love the "be." bead. Be. period. What an important idea for someone with depression. Not be happy or be hopeful. Just be, as in live. No matter what, just be because when depression has swallowed someone whole, survival is all that required while they fight their way back.

Just be here, with us, with those that love you.

And we'll be here for you, ready to love you and see you through.

Here is the list of those participating in the blog hop:

Laurie Vyselaar
JeanWellsJean A. Wells
Mallory Hoffman
Evie and BethMcCord

May 15, 2015

Upcoming Events

 I'm hosting my annual spring beadmaking workshop here in South Haven tomorrow. 12 of us will gather for an amazing day of beadmaking. Above are the kits for the class, they make me want to create!

 I worked up a few new samples of the faux sgraffito style of beads, this bee skep is a fav.

I will also be making a limited number of these for Bead & Button. That is just a few weeks away. Yikes! I'll be in booth 1208 this year, right across from Green Girl Studios, so make plans to stop by and see me.

Also in the works this month will be my next online beadmaking course. I'll have samples and details at the end of next week. Be on the lookout, it's going to be an amazing polymer clay class.

Fall retreat info will be out in June, after the show. Did I mention I'm in the middle of writing a book too? (My third book!) I have lost my marbles, or they have all turned to beads. Either way, I don't know if I'm coming or going right now.

Okay, back to work for me. Happy Creating!

May 11, 2015

Sea Inspired Beads home is Lake Michigan. As one of the Great Lakes it really does seem more like the sea. Minus the salt water. The beaches are not crystal clear but rather stormy shades of dark blue and foamy greens. 

This is my happy place, where my soul calls home. Life has had some challenges lately and some heartbreak, so it's no wonder my muse has wandered back to a source of comfort. 

Here are my latest creations:

You can read more about the inspirations behind these pieces on the Art Bead Scene.

My new pendants can be found on my website at

The etched farfalles glass beads are from Stinky Dog Beads. You'll want tons of these!

The lampwork beads are from Sea of Glass at

April 19, 2015

The ABS Editors Take the Challenge

Today a few of us from the Art Bead Scene blog are sharing how the monthly challenge painting by Frida Kahlo has inspired us this month. You can read all the challenge details here.

The story and symbolism behind this painting is so sad, it reflected the pain and heartbreak of losing the two great loves of her life.

For my beads that I created I focused on the foliage behind the artist, taking visual clue from the leaf and sky. Even the butterflies in her hair found their way into the beads. I also did a design inspired by the thorns.

I took the disk beads and created two bracelets with ceramic cuffs from Suzie Q Beads.

For this design I used a series of jump rings to create the chain. 

The next bracelet I took a few cues from the painting but went into a more playful direction than the serious subject matter of the painting. 

For this bracelet I added in a tropical Bonbon bead. I definitely stepped away from the inspiration and went in a brighter and cheerier design.

And isn't that the best thing about the monthly challenge? It's a spring board that takes artists from all the world on creative explorations as they take a painting and transform the colors, designs and subject into jewelry.

Have you created something for this month's challenge? You still have a few days, so join us!

Featured Beads: Bonbon Beads and Wild Growth Disk Beads.

April 16, 2015

Cross Promoting with a Gift Guide

My tip for today is for artisans to band together to improve your marketing efforts with a gift guide collaboration!

We have a group of jewelry and bead artists on Facebook who use the web host Because most of us are crossing over from Etsy to have our own independent websites, we are always trying to find creative ways to promote our jewelry on our stand along websites. It's a little scary out there on the internet all alone. We are smart designers and know there is strength in numbers. Our group helps with advice, technical issues and promotional efforts.

Our latest effort is a Mother's Day Gift Guide. We had a designer put the booklet together for us and each of us have a two-page spread in the guide featuring our top picks for Mother's Day. We are now reaching out to our social media and online groups sharing our gift guide, providing us with much more exposure than any of us could get on our own.

While we are a collective of jewelry designers, I would also recommend creating a gift guide with artists who work in different mediums. They can be local artists that you know or start collaborating online with artists who you've met in our social media circles.

You may only think of gift guides for the holiday shopping season but you can do gift guides for anytime of the year based on a theme, occassion or product. You could do a Bridal Gift Guide, a gift guide for grads, a summer style gift guide, a hostess gift guide if you create home goods. Get creative and then find your tribe to start the process.

A few tips:
1. Use Issuu to create and publish your gift guide. This is our lesson learned, Joomag doesn't enable mobile viewing without paying a hefty price.

2. Find a designer on Odesk to put together your booklet, share the expense with your fellow gift guide participants.

3. Use a Facebook group to coordinate the participants. We had a file for the links, ways to share and now we are keeping track of where we have shared the gift guide.

4. Give everyone the assignment to reach out to 2-3 blogs, media outlets or groups to share the gift guide once it's published.

Take a look at our Mother's Day Gift Guide!

Click on the arrow in the upper right corner below to see the booklet full size - you don't want to miss out on all the beauty!