Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Cup of Bead Soup with Jane Perala

Well, today is the day -- the last day of the month and the last Cup of Bead Soup with Jane Perala.

Jane sent me two marvelous sets of handmade lampwork glass beads, and I made an ocean-themed necklace with the first set, which you can see by clicking here.  LOVE her placid blue beads!  The second set is a complete opposite -- fiery reds and oranges, and I was smitten at first glance.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with these -- make a really long necklace with a bunch of different wire linkages.  So I ordered more of these luscious beads and got to work.

I modeled this necklace after one of my favorite necklaces by Cindy Wimmer.  The very first time I met Cindy, she was wearing this amazing necklace with tons of wire links in it and I immediately fell in love with it.  Every time she wears it I reach out for it and sit and stare at it, just mesmerized at her work.  My wire work is not at all like hers (I need to commission a necklace from her, pronto) but I did my best, and it's thanks to Cindy and her tutorials in the book Wire Style 2 that I got this necklace made.

So here's the necklace, which I call "Tequila Sunrise".

(I hope you can forgive the photography -- it's been a hopeless few days of rain and clouds here and trying to color correct anything is virtually impossible.)

The pendant portion of this necklace was a happy accident.  I'd first thought of only using the large wire-wrapped ring, and dangling the orange/red/black bead section from it.  But when I set the beads down to go do something else, they ended up next to the second horseshoe shaped bit, and I had an "a-ha" moment.  I wire-wrapped a bit of 24ga wire around the bottom of the section, then added the black beads in the middle.  Add all three pieces together and you get a long, dramatic pendant.

Next, I started linking together beads to individual wire sections.  Everything is oxidized and then buffed with steel wool.  

Since the necklace is long, I made it clasp-less.  I made the back-of-the-neck section out of the remaining disk beads (letting all the prettiest beads have all the attention) and a small coiled bead.

Altogether, from my so-not-sunny living room, it looks like this:

I wish the weather had cooperated because this is a stunner of a necklace (Jane's beads are spectacular) but I think the rain may be making a good point -- even in the gray mist of a yuck-o day, wearing pretty, vibrant jewelry can make your heart and spirit sing.  

I've really enjoyed working with Jane's beads, and I hope you've enjoyed the creations!

You can visit Jane Perala's store and blog at:

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

The Winner of the Auntie's Beads Seed Beads Giveaway is.....


Stay tuned for more giveaways in the near future!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday -- Through the Keyhole

I have a pretty large bead stash.  I don't just hoard beads, but stringing materials, too.  I have everything from stretch elastic (four sizes, three types at last check) to wire (sterling, copper, bronze, Parawire, brass, and gold-filled in a ton of gauges).  You get the idea. 

Sometimes I get so used to doing things in a particular way I forget to explore deeper into the depths of my bead drawers.  The other day, I wanted to make a porcelain ring necklace, but was running woefully short of large sterling silver rings, and turned to something I haven't used in ages -- waxed linen.

I have this lovely array of colors because I've taken two classes with Stephanie Sersich and learned her Spiny Knotted Bracelet and Necklace techniques.  I've made a few, like this:

But after a while got sidetracked and put the waxed linen away for beading wire and went back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Today, however, I wanted to make something different, and pulled out the deep red thread.

I've fallen in love with long necklaces, so I just kept knotting and knotting red and then turquoise ceramic beads, some corrugated vintage brass beads, a keyhole ceramic pendant, and a length of sturdy brass chain, and came up with this.

There's a bit of off-white linen ribbon tied below the keyhole as well.  If you want a keyhole piece like this one, visit Kylie Parry's store by clicking here.

And that's what was on my bead table today.


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

Monday, March 28, 2011

And Then She Was Home.

All I can say is WOW and then man oh day do I need to catch up on some SLEEP!

The show this weekend was a huge success.  By huge, I mean enormous in more ways than sales.

As you may remember, I was worried about making some changes to my booth design.  Not giant, massive changes, but changes that involved leaving certain key pieces of my set-up at home and bringing yet untried pieces along.  That meant if my vision didn't translate I was essentially out of luck, because home was two hours away and a four-hour round trip was not in the game plan.

It all worked out, though.  I teased you a bit with these photos, and here's how the entire shebang looked.

You'll have to trust me when I say it looks a lot prettier in person.  Trying to get the entire picture in is so incredibly difficult, what with the crazy lighting and the other booths and the expo center's ceiling and the bars of my booth and what not.  But when you're walking by, it's mighty fun if I do say so myself!

I have to give major props to my husband here.  Without him, I wouldn't be doing shows.  He always heads out early to set up the framework of my tent, the flooring, the tables, all the heavy lifting and hard labor.  I get the fun job of decorating.  He's the one that researches lighting and better structures and what-not.  He's the one that found the director's chair made by a chiropractor specifically for people with bad backs. 

He's a saint.

I had lots of goodies all ready to go by Thursday night and was set for when the doors opened on Friday morning.  

Lots of earrings (120 pairs will fit on the shutters I use) ...

Pretty necklaces and bracelets .....


Business cards, including fun little Moo cards....

And of course, the ever-popular zipper pulls.  My theory is "no bead goes unloved", so this is where the last bead of a set goes to rest, or in some cases, like the ducks and pandas, I find beads that appeal to kids, and I tend to just give those away when they're really good while their moms shop.

So here comes Friday.  I'm as well-rested as one can be when you sleep in a hotel full of middle school soccer teams running up and down the halls screaming (and oh yes, I DID yank open my door, wild pink hair standing on end from trying to sleep, and yell, "Calm that down or I'm calling your mothers!" only to hear "Sheesh, you'd think she'd be cool, I mean, the HAIR!").  Excited about seeing good friends, both vendor and customer, I'm off to the expo center.

This is when things go completely crazy.  

Now.  Fridays are special days in the craft show business.  They can be miserably slow days or very very good days, depending upon the market.  Most people work on Friday, but some have been known to take the time to get to a particular artisan the first day of a show if they want to get, quote, "the good stuff".

The doors opened at 10am.  By 10:05 I had my first customer.  By 10:30 I had to start restocking.  By 11am I was freaking out.

It seemed that a lot of my repeat customers all had the same idea and decided to show up first thing on Friday.  Five (six?) ladies took off work to come, bringing a Starbucks mocha just for me.  One special lady brought me a birthday present.  People who read my blog showed up to introduce themselves.  It was overwhelming and so very, very humbling.  There were a lot of jewelry designers at this show and I don't care what any one of you says -- my things are no more beautiful than any of yours or anyone else's.  I honestly don't know why these people keep coming back, but I'm so glad they do.

It's not about making money.  Yes, this is my full-time job, and yes, there are bills to pay.  But I get joy from repeat customers coming in to see me and making a point to talk to me for a minute, even though they aren't there to buy something that day!  Seriously, if you can only smile for those who hand you cash, it might be time to rethink some things.

I know that sounds harsh.  Maybe it's the pink hair talking.

Friday ended with Cindy Wimmer coming to pick me up for dinner.  This month has been an awesome one for connecting with Cindy -- three times in one month!  I've mentioned before how I feel isolated in my particular part of the world (and I'm going to take you guys up on visits now that I'm done with shows for a while!) so meeting up this many times in a month is golden.

And oh boy, did someone say PIE?  Heck to the YES there was pie!  Birthday pie!  Complete with combustibles!

Key lime pie with fireworks.  Can't get much better than that.  

But wait!  Yes it can!

It was a hella big slice!  And even though I was groaning through those last few bites, I ate it all, by gosh.  Because that's what pie is FOR.

My actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, and birthdays have never been celebrated that much in my family, so this was such a special treat from Cindy, not to mention the lovely presents from her -- a notebook with Royal typewriters on it (just like my own!)...

And a very special pendant that I'll show you later when I make it up into a necklace.

Saturday and Sunday were relatively slower days, meaning I got to breathe.  More of my repeat customers came by and more blog readers.  I met new people and got to share the excitement of beads with a burgeoning middle-school beader.  I laughed a LOT.  

And there were a lot of glances at my hair.  Some thought it was a reflection off my hot pink curtains.  Some thought I was wearing a feather boa but couldn't figure out quite where the rest of it was.  A lot of ladies asked how THEY could do it -- and let me tell you -- all of the ladies who asked that question were older than me.  Rock on, and rock hard.  

This show was important to me for a lot of reasons.  None of them had to do with the money I made.

It showed me the value not only of good customer service but of being cheerful, even in the midst of whatever may be weighing on my mind or the pain in my head.  People come into my booth  with the pink and purple curtains expecting the designer to mimic her decor and her jewelry -- to smile and be pleasant and fun.  Who wants to go to a craft show and see vendors grousing about how last year was a better year or that the show stinks or worse, they're never welcomed?  My booth is my shop -- come in and play dress up.  Enjoy your visit.

It showed me that many of my customers aren't customers any more -- they're truly friends.  This blog has been an outlet, an extension of me, and more people read it than comment.  I just didn't realize how many of my customers read it.  I was gratified and amazed and again, humbled, by the genuine care they have for me, and it was also fun to hear what their favorite posts were and get ideas for new ones.

Making jewelry is fun, but doing it for a living is hard.  The fun part, the "Pretty Things" part, is such a small part of it all when this is your full time job.  Craft shows are getting more and more expensive to do and the competition against resellers calling themselves handmade is getting tougher and tougher.  Marketing plans seem to have to change monthly, if not weekly.  Exhaustion reigns supreme.  

Yet I love it.

I sit here exhausted, wishing for a nap that I won't get today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but happy and relieved and somehow validated that indeed, I CAN do this job, and that what I write does get read.  I have some great friends out there, both people I've met, and you, who I've yet to meet, but love none the less.

Thanks for reading.

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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Collective Charity Auction for Aid to Japan

I'm happy to be participating in a collective charity auction for aid to Japan (click here to see where the money will go).  The auction has been organized by Melanie Poxon of Kookie Designs and includes a number of jewelry designers, bead makers, and fabrics artisans.  You have to check it out!

Here are just a few of the things you can bid staring tomorrow until Monday, April 4th.

My necklace up for auction.

Necklace by Lush Lampwork

Recycled sweater owl by Lisa Pidgeon

Lampwork beads by Moogin

Thanks for looking!

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Cure for Pain is Pink Hair

A while back I found a picture on the internet of this lovely young woman with the prettiest cotton-candy pink hair.  She had flawless ivory skin, was completely stunning, and I wanted that look.

I thought to myself, "if I can *ever* can get rid of this weight, I'll dye my hair pink."

I've had a love-hate relationship with my weight all my life.  I've been everything from very petite to, well, a hundred-and-plenty.  And as I'm nearing 42, take medicines that stall metabolism, have genetics against me, and find it hard to work out with a searing headache -- yeah, I'll probably be a hundred-and-plenty for the rest of my damned life.

Enter today.  I have my standard hair appointment and I'm in a lousy mood.  My head hurts.  It always hurts.  I'm tired of whining about it hurting.  I'm fat.  I'm tired of being fat.  I'm tired of WHINING about being fat.

(You see a theme here?)

So I walk in, plop into the chair, and say to my lovely friend Noelle -- "Whatcha got in pink?"

At this point, several other stylists poked their heads around the corner.  It's not often you see a nearly 42-year old woman in yoga pants walk in and ask for pink hair.  But you know what?

EVERYONE was excited.  NO ONE questioned my "cool" factor.  Or my sanity.

"You're an artist!"  said one.  "You can rock this!"

"Well, I'm not sure I can pull this off but I'm going to do it", I muttered.  "Can you just do a little bit at the bottom of my hair?"

"Oh stop it," said another.  He made me promise to stop by for a free makeover after I was done.  "Everyone is pretty, they just don't always know it."

I had plenty of time to think about what I had done while the long process went on.  Why was I DOING this?  I'm NOT a skinny rockin' chick.  I'm NOT really an artist (but I do play one on the internet).  And what in heaven's name was I going to do when I walked into that private school this afternoon??????

You know why I did it?

Because life's too short to wish for things we can actually do.

Pain is totally and completely out of control right now.  It's out of my hands and probably always and forever will be.  I face a lifetime of it.  Migraines in my eyes forever?  No meds for it?  I have to spend an inordinate amount of time in bed?

Screw it.

At least I'll be in bed with rockin' pink hair.

Take THAT, pain.  I can't take you seriously with this hair cut.

Be gone.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Along the Path to Losing My Mind.

I have a huge show this weekend.  Big.  It's been voted #28 in the nation as far as craft shows go, and it's three days of crazy crowds and high energy.  While my husband sets up and tears down the booth with me, I work the actual show alone, with no helpers.  It makes for a long, tiring day.

Not only am I freaked out about the normal things --- "Do I have enough inventory?", and "Where are my business cards hiding?", and "Don't forget to pack your socks this time!", I'm freaked out about a far larger issue this go around.  

I'm changing up my display.

In the past, I've used these lovely floral boxes, romantic silk hydrangeas, and lots of greenery.  Like this.
However, now that I've changed my logo to this:

I'm changing things up.

I've gotten rid of the flowered boxes in lieu of solid white and hot pink.  I have funky pink, purple, and white gerbera daisies to tuck into the dead spots on the tables.  I have some Chinese lanterns to hang from a ceiling that we normally don't even put up, as well a chain of mini-Chinese lanterns to hang instead of a floral/greenery arbor over the top of the earring display.

But none of this has been through a trial run yet.

Add to this our having to tote along our eight-year old boy, my husband's and my need to get things just-so the first time, and we have a recipe for a Scotch-and-soda kind of dinner Thursday night.

Or, perhaps, pie.

Snickers pie source here.


One, wish me and Rick good luck on Thursday as we struggle with translating vision-in-Lori's-brain into works-in-real-life.

Two, come visit me if you're in the Northern VA/DC Metro area to see how it turned out.

And three, I'll have pictures next week, regardless of the outcome, be it hilarious or hellacious.

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cup of Bead Soup -- Starfish Necklace with Jane Perala

Jane Perala's beads are sublime.  I've used them quite frequently and was thrilled when she wanted to take part in the Cup of Bead Soup project.  Her beads are nice and large, just like I like them.  I do love a chunky bead!

If you recall, this is one of the sets Jane sent to me:

The problem I have with Jane's beads is it's hard to mess up with them.  I mean, string them and add a clasp and you're pretty much done, right?  So the challenge is REALLY tough -- to do something that adds a bit of creativity yet doesn't take away from the beauty of the beads.

Every single time I've made something with Jane's seashore-inspired beads, they sell.  For instance, this bracelet sold as soon as I posted it on the blog:

And as you can see, I didn't do a thing to it.  I linked them, added a fish, a toggle, and magic was made.  Oh yes, a glass charm and a pretty toggle and sterling wire.  And I decided what order to put them in, and they came from two different sets.  But still, hardly innovative.  

So I had a challenge on my hands. 

I still don't feel I really rose to this challenge in the way I wish I could. I've been a mess this month with illness and deadlines and .... well.  I feel I have to apologize for this one.  The BEAUTY is Jane's beads, hands down, and I hope you visit her store, particularly here and here and even here to get started on your own creations. 

But without further ado, here's my necklace, made with Jane's beads, moonstone, Swarovski crystal, and Thai silver -- "Casting Out a Net of Moonlit Dreams".

The surprise part of this necklace is how I captured the starfish in multiple strands of delicate sterling chain, creating an ersatz net of sorts. The focal bead perches atop, because I wanted that blue up front and center to just blow your mind -- but in a soft way.

Of course these photos were taken in the middle of rainy days, so you get the thoughts of going out at dawn with a net to capture these sea creatures, look at them closely to marvel at them, and then let them down gently back into their natural habitats.

I used bits of moonstone, which glows in the light, and the tiny bits of Swarovski crystal really is the exact color of one of the blues in the beads.

Now -- please keep reading.  This is important.

Jane has been going through some incredibly, unfathomably difficult times this month, particularly this week.  Her elderly mother is in hospice and will be passing away within days.  My heart hurts for her.  Therefore, I am selling this necklace at $120 and will be sending the money to Jane, who has expressed her wish to donate it to a charity.

I have a show this weekend, so if the necklace doesn't sell here on the blog my Thursday night, I'll be taking it with me.  If it hasn't sold at the show, I'll be listing it on my web site and the same stipulations apply.

The pendant measures 2.25"   from the bottom of the focal bead to the bottom of the starfish.  The beaded portion measures 12" and the necklace measures 22"  (without the pendant) but can be customized upon request.  The upper chain is a double length on each side.   Workmanship is guaranteed.

If you're interested, please email me privately at lori at lorianderson dot net.  SOLD

Please think of Jane in the coming days.

You can visit Jane Perala's store and blog at:

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