Ear Candy Crazy

I’ve been busy crafting the last couple of weeks, this time focusing on my beads and my tools.  For starters, I’ve finally found the time and the will to go through my loose bead bins.  I have made it a habit to have small tubs  to collect loose beads in when I work with bigger batches.  Sometimes,  I end up collecting them in my work trays and then just pour them into the bins.  During several previous clean ups, I’ve sometimes managed to separate the freshwater pearls from the gemstones from the Czech pressed glass and metal findings.

I’ve been sorting individual organizers a bin at a time, actually gathering jumprings and putting the clasps and the eyepins and other headpins in separate containers.  Yes, I’m getting organized in a major way.  I have been pleasantly surprised to discover strings of beads I had all but forgotten I had, and while I’m excited to do something with each find, I need to get them all sorted out first.

One of my favorite suppliers is Fire Mountain Gems which has assortable pricing that progressively goes down depending on the number of items you buy.  This usually makes a difference when buying regular price items which can be pulled down dramatically when you purchase at certain price levels.  In addition, when they go on sale, they REALLY go on sale.  The only thing is you have to trust your visuals.  That can be tough when you’re looking at gemstones, but you have to pay attention to dimensions and string size.

I have always found it helpful to have an actual ruler in front of me when I am shopping online for beads and other materials.  It helps me visualize the size of the bead.  A 6mm round bead is not much different from an 8mm so it helps to actually see the bars that make a difference on that ruler.

During one of  those sales, there was a bead mix that was on sale for 25 cents per pack, with the catch that you had to purchase a minimum of 8 packs of 125 beads .  I’ve purchased a set of amethyst chips in the same packaging, and the quality wasn’t bad for the price I had paid.  At the time I made the purchase, I was thinking of actually embellishing brooches and my clutch purse with gemstones and shell beads.  The idea was to get beads small enough to  embroider or sew into something else.  And how can you argue with the price?  I went for 2 batches or 16 orders of the assortment.

I had to go and unstring the beads and sort them by kind.  The amethyst and rose quartz were quite the find, along with the green aventurine and prehnite in the batch.  The strings aren’t labeled, so unless you know how to eyeball a gemstone, you will end up going by color.

I had ordered these in July of last year but didn’t start unpacking each little bag until earlier this month.  I would say I got lucky with this buy.  You would have to have the patience to sort through the beads because the size and quality varied from string to string, but they all came together after they had been unstrung and sorted out.  It also helps me in creative process to actually go through the loose beads laid out flat on a tray.

Here’s what I can up with — gem stacks in various sizes.

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Square flat beads in green aventurine.. the stack wasn’t hard to imagine, but it meant finding the same cut in all the strings.  It takes some patience to actually unstring the beads and lay them all out on a plate or pad so you can see them side by side.  That’s my design process, and that might not work for everyone.

I tried to group them by shapes, then by size.  These are chips and irregularly shaped and sized, so it takes a bit of effort, but once you find the designs forming in your head, it is actually a good way of letting your creativity loose to pull a design you can work on.

There were also a sizeable chunk of prehnite beads which, at first, I thought were tourmalinated quartz because of the strings of black streaks.  But no, they turned out to be the former.   I have had a lot of fun working with the chips.  Sometimes I find it uncanny how design ideas don’t come to me until I unstrung the beads and actually hold the individual pieces.
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I guess we each have our own creative process we follow with our creations.  Mine has certainly evolved through the years, more so when I find old pieces from my early years, even if only in pictures.  I haven’t posted any in the shop for sale yet.  I am earmarking these for my #Giftof50 giveaways on the main blog.

Craft Calendar 2017

Carnelian bracelet - work in progressLast year, I tried to begin a craft calendar in April which I didn’t get to follow very closely, but which somehow helped me focus on the things I had hoped to do during the year.  HOPE is the operative word, being that a lot of things got in the way and somehow derailed my efforts to be more disciplined with the crafting.

Besides the list of tasks, I am also trying to identify PROJECTS to focus on for the month to help my productions goals along.

No more excuses, but let’s give it another go in 2017.  Again, I hope to be able to achieve more given this list of goals, and watch out for updates as the year rolls along with a monthly round up of how I’ve been doing.  (Edits, progress, deletions/additions)

I had started drafting this post in January but had gotten stuck.  So let me begin with the current month, February.

February

  • Work on the #GiftOf50 peripherals (gift tags, gift wrap, etc.) and keep creating gifts.
  • PROJECT: Start working on a light coat for Spring.

March

  • Work on getting my tour guide license.
  • Visit Lion Brand Yarns and enroll for a knitting class.
  • PROJECT: Easter cards

April

  • Begin work on fabric clutches.
  • PROJECT: throw pillows for the sofa

May 

  • Get my tour guide license.  (More on this later.)
  • Bead fabric clutches
  • PROJECT: Beaded brooch

June

  • Start planning my halloween costume, another paper fairy gown.
  • Design my holiday card for the end of the year.  (Need to determine materials.)
  • PROJECT: Launch Bead Tours

July

  • Post a clutch for sale in the etsy shop.
  • Launch first postcard set project.
  • PROJECT:  OZ projects

August

  • Start creating the halloween costume.  (Will try to actually sew one instead of pinning one together like the last time I made one in 2015.
  • PROJECT: paper boxes

September

  • Start series on Holiday-themed articles.
  • Work on Christmas decor.
  • Produce holiday cards.
  • Create gifts to give for the holidays.
  • Launch second postcard set.
  • Stock up the shop and launch holiday promo.
  • PROJECT: CHRISTMAS DECOR

October

  • Finish holiday card.
  • Start series on handmade gifts for the holidays.
  • Put up my Christmas tree last week of October.
  • PROJECT: Holiday Cards

November

  • Mail out holiday cards.
  • Decorate tree first week, deck out the house.
  • PROJECT: Wrappers / Bags for the holiday gifts

December

  • Create and make gift packaging.  (Wrapper, embellishments, tags)
  • Thank you cards
  • PROJECT: Recycling holiday wrap and cards

Here’s to a productive and crafty 2017..