Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cup of Bead Soup -- Saying Goodbye to Spirited Earth

Well it's that time again -- the end of the month and the end of my Cup of Bead Soup, this month with ceramic artist Spirited Earth.  It's been a fabulous month that has truly pushed me, having me work in more muted palettes, pulling out the liver of sulphur, trying out a graphic designer's color book ... it's been a wonderful experience!

I'm ending out the month with a special piece that I made for myself.  I've been needing a long necklace to wear with sweaters in the winter, and wanted something in pastels.  So I pulled out Nan's aqua heart that I'd been hoarding all months and began.

I've been collecting beads I've made, along with a few lampwork orphans from favorite artists.  A resin rosebud, a slab of pink Peruvian opal, a couple of aventurine leaves, a Thai silver heart, and a large lavender Cubic Zirconia round joined all the beads.  A couple hours of wiring later, and I had this:

To make the double prong at the top of the bead, I ran two pieces of 20 gauge wire together and created ONE wrapped loop for the bottom of the bead.  I then ran the two wires up through the top, made a loop up high, and wrapped the neck down about six times.  That gave me the links I needed to create the profile I wanted.

For the bottom of the pendant, I used a Hip Chick Beads sterling charm that says "Just Be You".  This will remind me to focus on being true to me, to not worry that I'm not perfect, to just be the best person I know how to be, and that everything should turn out OK if I do that.  The ceramic heart reminds me to love myself for me, and to not try and change who I am to fit a mold I don't fit into.

This necklace is also special to me because I made the majority of the beads.  I made the necklace with no clasp -- it's just long enough to put over my head with no trouble.  The square bead between the two aventurine leaves marks the center back of the necklace.

I'm super-pleased with this piece, and think it's a great one to end the month with.  I'm incredibly grateful to Nan for her artistry and talent.  I hope you've been inspired by her work, and will stop by her store soon!

To visit Spirited Earth, click on the following:

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

The Glass of Murano, Italy

I have a new article on Art Bead Scene about the glass of Murano, Italy. I have a unique perspective on it because I lived in Italy for a short period of time. Click here to read the story!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for Lori Anderson Designs.  She writes the blogs Pretty Things and An Artist's Year Off.  She lives in Maryland.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blog Your Art Out -- The Comments

For those of you who read the free eCourse "Blog Your Art Out", today is the day when I compile the comments I received via the blog and by email.  These comments will be added to the official eCourse page, as well as to the Word file, so if you want a new Word file, please let me know!

This one is long, too, so grab a snack and a cuppa and enjoy the read!

There were lots of comments on the blog post and I received a ton of emails, so I got a good feel for what the average blog reader is looking for (and not looking for) in a blog.  If you haven't had time to read the comments, do click here and take a look.  

First, what makes a reader follow a blog?

  • Personalization of a blog.  Readers may come for the eye candy, but they do enjoy learning more about the artist.
  • Frequent posts.  Readers tend to forget about bloggers who don't post at least once a week, preferably more.
  • Some readers really like to read a blog with a regular feature, such as "Wordless Wednesday" or "Etsy Finds".  
  •  A meaningful post doesn't even have to have that many words -- it can be a picture with a little bit of thought typed below.
  • A big favorite is clear, large, well-done photos.  It can be of an artist's work, a funny something or other, flowers -- anything.  
a gate near my neighborhood
  •  A blog with the blogger's personality is always great.  It not only makes the blog consistent, whether they are talking about their art or their personal life, but it keeps the words from being dry and reading like a dissertation or advertisement.
  • A HUGE favorite -- bloggers who take the time to visit their commenter's blogs!  This was expressed so often I thought I'd show you some of the words that came to me in emails.

    • "I take time out of my day to comment.  To me it's courtesy to visit me back."
    • "If a blogger never comments on my blog, I quit reading them.  I may not unfollow them, but I do quit reading them."
    • "When I comment and comment and comment, yet I never get a single comment back, it makes me feel like the unpopular girl sitting alone in the cafeteria.

  • Related to commenting, and a favorite of bloggers and readers alike -- having an email listed on the profile page of the blog.  This allows a blogger to comment to a direct question a reader may have, or to merely thank that person for commenting.
  •  Readers love when a blogger shares tips, tricks, and links to cool finds.  Sharing is always in vogue.

Of all of these, the returning the comments part seems to be the hot button.  Readers LOVE that, and I feel it's important to remember.  None of us has the time to respond to every single post the day that it's posted -- I know that there are days that I get bogged down and have to have a catch-up day.  But giving it your best shot could mean the difference between gaining new readers by word of mouth or losing fans.

Now on to the pet peeves. 

  • Blogs that are purely "look at me, look what I sold, look at my accomplishments" blogs.  There's a tactful way to tell everyone about your hard-won kudos.
  • Blogs that are very long, with no pictures to break up the words.
  • This one got many, many comments ... music that automatically turns on.  Some people actually said they enjoyed people's play lists, but the majority of people felt very strongly about music on a blog.  I don't care for music on a blog as it startles me and often wakes up my husband, who is an early sleeper due to his job, so I have to turn my volume all the way off.  That being said, none of the blogs I follow that have music have turned me off -- their blogs are too cool to pass up!  It's something to think about, but do what's right for you.
shhhh, froggie!
  •  Blogs that go off on rants constantly.  An occasional rant can be good for the soul (and I've done it!) but we're talking about rants being the norm.  Make that a double eek for political and religious rants, or preaching to the reader.
  • Giveaways that ask the reader to become a follower in order to win the prize.
  • Too much side bar action.  I love side bar decoration, but it can go too far, especially if you have a three-column blog.  Every now and then, take a look at your blog with a critical eye and see if you have too many ads, blinkies, or other things that distract from your important words and photos.  These can also make the blog take forever to load up. 
  •  Additional to side bar action, a number of people say they don't like to see ads on blogs, that it takes away from the personal connection they want to get from their visit.
  •  Backgrounds -- many expressed the difficulty of reading white script on a black or dark blue background.

Regardless of which path you decide to take in your blogging journey, the key is to love it.  Honor yourself, honor your art, and honor your visitors.  Unless you're writing your blog sheerly as a diary and don't care if you have followers, the best thing we all can do is treat our readers as our customers and friends.  After all, they may become just that!  Who knows, you may meet them at a bead show, or have the pleasure of having them visit you when you're exhibiting at a craft show.  They may fall in love with your work because they've come to appreciate you as a person.

I hope you've enjoyed the eCourse, and I'm so very happy you've spent this time with me.  As always, everything I've written is just a suggestion ... each person needs to make the choices and decisions that feel right to THEM. 

Be well, and Happy Blogging!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

The Choose Your Own Book Winner is......

For My Sweet Daughter

Zack picked your name out of the bowl, so you win your choice...

Email me and I'll get this book right out to you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

After the Show

I had my first craft show since March this past weekend, and felt so out of practice!  Normally, I have at least one a month, with multiple shows in the fall and winter, but this year I decided to take time off to rejuvenate physically and mentally.  I picked my top five shows and dropped all outdoor shows -- except for this one, because I felt a late September show would have reasonable weather.

Ha!  I ended up feeling like this....

Friday set-up was a fair treat.  Brutal sun and heat made schlepping boxes and tent poles OH so much fun.  We also learned that Annapolis is fighting the good fight of the stink bug.  Good grief.  Not just one, or ten, or twenty.  Entire convoys of the things decided to come see what we were doing.

Saturday dawned just as hot.  Heat index of 102.  But this is my job, and I must persevere.  I was prepared, though!  I had my trusty palm leaf fan I bought from Pottery Barn -- heavy duty and up to the task....

I was also blessed by a group of customers who drove down from Northern Virginia just to shop.  One called it the "Zachary Tuition Fund Trip" and I was overwhelmed and humbled by their love and support.  These are the sort of customers I am lucky to have.

Here's a business tidbit that I'm sure all of you jewelry designers already know and do -- treat your customers not as if they are only going to shop with you once.  Treat them as if you want to keep them for life.  What I mean by that is yes, your jewelry is knock-out gorgeous (yes it is, I've seen it, you guys ROCK) but concentrate just as hard on customer service (and I know you do).  I offer free resizing, free cleaning, and free repairs for what they've purchased.  I also give 10% discounts for repeat customers.

The details matter, too -- packaging, signing invoices with my name and a thank you -- and here's the big one.  If you're doing a craft show, no matter how you feel, no matter how well or how badly the show is going, SMILE.  If you smile, you'll find it harder to stay in a bad mood, and smiling is contagious!

(Just my personal thoughts -- there are LOTS of ways to be successful!)

My new sign with my new logo isn't in yet, so I made do with the old one.  The craft show was in a lovely park, and I was set up in the grass on the edge of the brick sidewalk.  Photos of my booth never look quite like actually LOOKING at the real thing, but here you get the idea -- dark purple table drapes with ivory over the top so the jewelry can show, things on various levels, and traditional and non-traditional jewelry displays.  I like to set the booth up like a boutique.

Saturday had a 102 degree heat index and Sunday poured the rain down for the first hour or so and was cool enough that I wished I hadn't worn shorts -- a carbon copy of last year's show.  But even with the rain, it was a success.

Although I did really well, I've decided against doing any outdoor shows next year unless they're in April.  There's just no way to predict the hot weather, even into fall.  I absolutely can't stand the heat (let's not even TALK about the headache it triggered) and I will be looking for another show, hopefully in the spring.  So that means I'll be able to go to ArtBliss next year!  I heard it was a fantastic event and I already can't wait to go.

So there was my weekend -- how was yours?

 PS:  Don't forget to enter the free book giveaway!  
Just click here!  Ends September 29th!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blog Your Art Out

The comments are closed for the free eCourse "Blog Your Art Out".  I will compile the questions and my thoughts in the next few days and plan to post that section of the eCourse on Wednesday the 29th.

In the meantime, Happy Blogging!

 Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

In Pursuit of the Sublime

This is the most amazing book and web site.  What do you get when you combine awesome photography skills with PhotoShop wizardry?  "In Pursuit of the Sublime".

Click here to start your adventure, and click on each photo to see the next.  You'll be amazed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update -- Zack and Private School

If you're interested, you can read the update on Zack and private school by clicking here.

one of my favorite photos of Zack

 Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Day in Bead Points

So, what's been going on in my head today? Instead of bullet points, let's use beads, shall we?

"Shades of Gray" by Churn Hill Glass

Zack's assessment at the private school appeared to go well -- thank you all for your well wishes here and on the lengthy post at An Artist's Year Off.  We hear tomorrow if it's a go, and if it is, he starts on Tuesday!

Flower Implosion bead by Jelveh Designs

I'm very excited about a new Bead Soup Blog Party challenge going on in the BSBP forum -- we're going to be trading a piece of jewelry that hasn't sold for whatever reason, and the recipient is going to remake that piece into something else!  Doesn't that sound cool?  It'll be fun to see what the other person's interpretation will be!  

If you can't wait until January for the next official Bead Soup Blog Party, click here and join the forum -- we do swaps and small challenges and it's a great way to keep your creativity sharp!

"Raging Waters" vessel by High Waters Studios
I'm excited about my show this weekend at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, MD, but seriously, seriously bummed that I won't be able to meet my blogging friends at ArtBliss, being held this weekend in Northern Virginia.  Maybe next year?

"Berry Extraordinaire" by Liliana Bead

My new headache medicine is not kind to the waistline -- it's one of those that assists with packing on the pounds when no packing help is needed what-so-blipping-ever.  Yet.  And yet.


I am craving pie.

"Apple Pie a la Mode" by BeadBrains
(But my favorite is coconut cream.  Ohhh my.  Pie).

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The NEW Lori Anderson Designs web site

Also, be sure to click here for my book giveaway -- you enter by commenting AND blogging about it (don't forget the blog bit!).

Finally, it's not too late to make read and make comments on the free eCourse, "Blog Your Art Out".

Have a great day!

A Book Giveaway -- Choose Your Own Book!

In line with the Choose Your Own Adventure book that I posted about, I am now offering a giveaway for a free book of your choice -- but YOU get to choose which book!

This offer IS open to international folks as well -- your book just might take longer to get to you.

Here are your choices:

"Pretty Little Mistakes" by Heather McElhatton
A grown-up version of Choose Your Own Adventure

"The Complete Color Harmony" by Tina Sutton and Bride Whelan
"Easy Beading Volume 6", 
which contains tutorials by tons of artisans in all sorts of mediums, even by yours truly
(and if you want those tutorials autographed, I can do that). 
Good for the beginner and intermediate beader.

How to win?

1.  Comment below your choice.
and you MUST
 Blog about this giveaway.

Easy as that!

Giveaway will be announced  September 29th!


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Private School Visit

If you are also a follower of my blog An Artist's Year Off, you already know that I've been wrestling with some decisions that will affect my son and my business.  If not, click here and you can read the post if you're interested.

Therefore, today's post will be short, as today is the day that Rick and I have the parent interview with the private school we're looking at for Zack, and I'm going to be pulling a late night after Zack goes to bed, preparing for my show at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, MD this weekend.

So I leave you with this photo, the reason why I do what I do -- so I can be home.

photo by Jen Fariello

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure -- For Grown-ups

Do you remember "Choose Your Own Adventure" books as a kid?  The premise was cool -- you started reading a story, and at a certain point, you made a choice -- turn to page 56 if you wanted to follow Mr. Jenkins down the dark alley, or turn to page 112 if you wanted to go call the police.  The books gave kids lots of endings and I adored the books.

While I was scoping out Barnes and Noble during my weekly Over the Bridge jaunt, I asked a bookseller if she could help me find those books for Zack.  After helping me, she said, "You do know there's an author who writes those for adults, right?"

Color me intrigued.

"Pretty Little Mistakes" by Heather McElhatton is called a "Do-Over Novel".  There are 150 possible endings.  Quoting the back cover:

"You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan or morbidly obese in a trailer park."

I haven't started it yet, but plan to this weekend.  Have any of you read it?  Anyone want to read it now?


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cup of Bead Soup -- Starfish and Leaf

Today I'm revealing two more Cups of Bead Soup with pendants by Spirited Earth.

For the first one, I used a starfish pendant.  I decided I didn't want to go the traditional route with the pendant -- no light beachy themed beads for this one.  But as I held the pendant in my hand, I was utterly stumped.  How to NOT make the necklace non-beachy when the pendant was a beautiful soft blue-green?

I pulled out my trusty color book, a graphic designers book called The Complete Color Harmony.  I started flipping through it, looking for the teal of the pendant.  In the middle of the book, I hit upon this page:

Completely non-traditional. The colors are in the Complimentary Colors section, and as soon as I saw them, I knew I had the right beads -- Swarovski pearls in Bordeaux.  And here's the result:

I decided to let the teal stand alone in the pendant, and instead played up the color of the starfish with two fossil coral beads.  I love fossil coral and handpick these at bead shows to get the best fossils I can.  These unfortunately were the last ones from a strand, but they still have decent markings.

Next up is a rustic pendant with a wash of forest colors.  I had a gorgeous sterling silver leaf bead I bought in April at BeadFest and I immediately got the idea of making a long necklace with an extended pendant drop.  The leaf bead was bright silver, though, and since this Cup of Bead Soup has had me oxidizing silver quite a lot, into the liver of sulphur it went.  I did use steel wool afterward on this one, however, because I wanted a matte finish, and Pro Polishing Pads tend to give a slightly brighter look.  I added a small assortment of leaf and pearl dangles at two levels on the chain necklace, and here is the result...

I like the bead dangles, as they kept the necklace from being too stark.  The leaves kept up the forest theme I was going for.  The greens in the pendant reminded me of walks in the woods on a fall day, perfect for this time of year.

I'm pleased with the results.  For the starfish, I pushed past my normal tendency to go with the flow and follow the beach theme.  For the rustic pendant, I looked at a bright sterling silver bead that I'd already made pendant plans for and used it in a different way.  

I hope you've enjoyed this serving of soup!

To visit Spirited Earth, click on the following:

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Email Woes

If you've been trying to email me today about the eCourse, my email is acting squirrely due to the soon-to-be-new web site.  There's testing going on and unfortunately it's affected my email.  You can email me at limamike at goeaston dot net.  I apologize for the confusion.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free eCourse -- Blog Your Art Out

The free eCourse is now available!  

Click the tab above, or click here.

You can also request the eleven page Word document by emailing me.


(Comments are now closed for the course.)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Free eCourse Coming Soon.....

So keep your eyes peeled!  I may have it done tonight, maybe tomorrow, but certainly by the weekend.  It's about social media, so I hope you'll join me for a good read!

Please pass the word on to your friends, because I really think this will be interesting and important!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Cup of Bead Soup -- Two Branches and a Do-Over

Today I'm continuing my Cup of Bead Soup with ceramic beads from Spirited Earth. This is a bit of a long one, so grab a cup of something lovely (tea, coffee ... soup?) and stay for a while.

The first necklace is made using a technique I first debuted with my Bonsai necklace in the Creative Jewelry 2010 magazine.  The gorgeous bird pendant from Spirited Earth dangles from copper chain beneath a wooden twig.  I then used two more of Nan's ceramic beads (wrapping one in copper wire), a vintage copper bead, some matte green glass, and a tiny little copper bird.  To keep the necklace light and airy, I left the top portion bare of beads.

The second necklace I'm quite proud of because when I first saw the pendant, I had no idea how I was going to do it justice. It's very pale, with a delicate wash of color that I was afraid of overwhelming.  For a long time I pondered over what beads I could use -- should I stick with ceramic in the same natural tone or use dark brown cording?  What about all silver, perhaps a unique chain?

And then it hit me one night while I battled insomnia -- why not play up that blush of persimmon pink?  After that, the rest fell into place with rapid speed.

Padparadsha and olivine Swarovski crystals, used in moderation, picked up the hints of salmon pink and olive green in the ceramic pendant.  Branches were on my mind from the last necklace, so I chose a silver branch, punching an extra hole in it for an asymmetric bead dangle.  Natural wood matched the color palette of the pendant, and I found some lotus blossom findings in a back drawer that only needed some holes drilled in them to make the perfect links.

During my recent weekend retreat with Cindy Wimmer, I learned her trademark bead wrap technique and decided to try it with the 8mm crystals.  I'm still working out the kinks and haven't gotten it down perfectly, but I like how things turned out! (Thanks, Cindy!)  I oxidized things, buffed it, and there you have it!
My last piece is my do-over piece.  

Have you ever found that if you're just the tiniest shade of color off, it becomes HUGELY obvious?  Well, that's what I was running into when I decided to work with Nan's blue flower pendant.  I used a strand of natural milky aquamarine and bright Bali silver and put this together:

And it bugged me. 

Once again, I had a night of insomnia, and this necklace crept into my mind.  What did I do wrong?  Well, for one thing, the elegance of the aquamarine and bright silver just didn't go with the earthiness of the pendant.  It all felt off-kilter.  I knew as soon as I had the chance I was going to have to take this apart and start from square one.  As I finally drifted off to sleep, it hit me -- sodalite and amazonite.  Of course!

Don't you think this is SO much better?  Once again, I used Cindy's wire wrap technique, oxidized and buffed the wire (oh wow that takes a long time!) and then sat back to admire the finished necklace.  I'm very, very pleased with this one and hope it finds a happy, loving home!

So there you have it.  Three Cups of Soup (and one that had to get reheated).  What did I learn?  

One, I shouldn't underestimate myself.  I didn't think I'd be able to tackle pendant #2 but I feel I did it justice.  

Two, I shouldn't be afraid to start over.  I'm the owner, designer, and chief bottle washer of this business, so *I* get to say when something is finished.  

And lastly, I should embrace new tools and techniques, even if I've previously never used the tool or considered the technique too time-consuming.  I've had three different metal punches languishing in my tool box begging to be used, and now that I made myself use one, I feel more comfortable reaching for it.  I love the way oxidized silver looks, but have avoided it because the finishing is so time-consuming.  That mindset just isn't conducive to spreading my creative wings.

And I want to fly.

A big thanks to Nan Emmett of Spirited Earth for her ceramic pendants and beads, and also to Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio for teaching me the wire technique!

To visit Spirited Earth, please click the following:

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Be a Girly Girl

Today's Eye Candy is brought to you by the letter G, as in "Girly Girl".  I can wield a hammer and a shovel as well as the next guy, but sometimes it's all about embracing the girly side.

"Flirt Alert"
"Frilly Flowers"

"Larimar Pearl"

"Shakespeare's Garden"

If you're interested in anything you've seen, just email me for details!

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.