Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jewelry Upcycled! A New Book by Sherri Haab

I had the joy to review artist extraordinaire Sherri Haab's newest book, "Jewelry Upcycled!" on  Click here to read the review!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Highs and Lows, Part 2 : Finding Your Bliss

Yesterday, after my computer completely crashed (I'm now on my husband's, hoping my external backup works -- it's been plugging away over 24 hours now), I felt like going for a little drive.  While waiting at a stop light, my car was crashed INTO (I am completely fine!).  Crash upon crash.  Whee!

While waiting for the police to sort out the other two cars, I had plenty of time to think, and I thought I'd revisit yesterday's blog post that I feel touched a lot of artisans in one way or the other -- the ups and downs of how we feel about what we do.

One of the "things I do", for sale here.

Yesterday, I wrote about striving to be the best you can be, and not letting others define what you think you SHOULD be.  In other words, don't compare yourself negatively to others.

Now, there's nothing wrong with admiring people and aspiring to be like them.  For instance, I aspire to have the design talents of my best friend, Cindy Wimmer.  I aspire to have 1/176,564th of the talent of lampwork artist Dora Schubert.  However, for me and my personality, those are healthy aspirations.  If I get there, fine.  I rather think I won't.  But the key?  I'm totally ok with that.  The problem comes when you are so obsessed with what you can't do or what you think you can't do that you don't see what you can do.

Jewelry by Cindy Wimmer, Beads by Dora Schubert

When I first started getting into the creative field in 2003-2004, I kept hearing this phrase, "Find Your Bliss".  At first, I had no idea what the heck that MEANT.  I mean, my life had been pretty cut and dried.  I was an Air Force veteran, pre-med student, and IT business manager.  None of those exactly smacked of sitting around and having a heart-to-heart with artists about their bliss.  I mean, the closest I got to that was leaning over an unidentified alcoholic Korean juice drink and talking about how blissfully happy we were not to be stuck back in our hometowns!

So here we are.  You've found my blog, somehow, so let's talk about what "bliss" means.

My husband, Zack, and me, circa 2003.  Photo by Jen Fariello.

Bliss comes in many forms.  If you find yourself worrying yourself to death about your craft, perhaps it's time to look around you and regroup. You may be overlooking some things that can help you re-center, show you what you already have, and guide you back --- either back on the road to what you've been persuing, or perhaps, onto a new road.

Photo by me, on New Year's Day

So what will be on your list?

1.  I love to garden.  My flowers make me happy.
2.  My book collection makes me feel smart.
3.  I can decorate a home to make it feel cozy and welcoming.
4.  I can cook like a Cordon Bleu graduate.
5.  I'm the mom all the kids love to hang out with.

(this isn't my list, but could it be yours?)

As you can see, your Bliss List can be anything at all -- anything that makes you happy.  The things that make you, well ... you.  An individual.

And now comes the object lesson.  Take what makes you YOU, and apply it to your artistic life.  Strive, but be smart about it.  Keep your heart and your head in check.  Allow yourself the right to fail.  Allow yourself the right to feel sad.  But then, look at your Bliss List.  Look at your STRIVE notes.  And choose the path that best fits you.


Don't give up on your dreams.  But if you find yourself side-tracked and despairing of "making it" (whatever "making it" may mean to you), stop and look at your Bliss List and remind yourself of the things that are important to you, the things you love, and see if maybe you deserve a break.  As a lovely friend said to me, you can't be ON 24/7, 365 days a year.  You just can't.  Be gentle to yourself.  And believe in yourself.


Thank you all for reading these past two posts, and I hope it resonates with someone.  I know that it's helping me to write it and read it, and now I must own it.  Don't think for a second that just because I write this means I have it all figured out!  Oh heavens no.  I suffer the same doubts and fears and "I'm going to go eat worms just back off" feelings.  I slip up.  But today, I did something important for my Bliss List. 

I bought this book.


See, on MY personal Bliss List, I penned, "I love to write".  And I've always wanted to write a memoir, starting from my entering the Air Force to my running away to Italy to my travels to Japan to my fall head-first into the despair that ultimately led me to the healing love that is my husband.  And in the meantime, I'm going to try and find one magazine that will be interested in a guest columnist once in a while.  How?  No idea.  

But it's on my Bliss List.  And my Strive note.

Hugs and much love to you all for being my first readers.

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. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Highs and The Lows

Over the past few weeks, I've been chatting with some crafters -- jewelry designers, bead makers, knitters, painters, quilters -- who have either hit some serious crafter's blocks or have fallen into the abyss of "what's the point".

I know this feeling OH so well.

Moving along in life oh so slowly.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've read a few posts where I've discussed this issue, and the responses have been overwhelmingly the same -- everyone, at some point in their career, no matter WHAT their career IS, has felt this way. It just becomes extremely painful when we look around and see others seemingly effortlessly make their way while we, in our minds, plod along on a treadmill to no where.

We hate that treadmill.

Here's my thought.

EVERYONE, even the famous ones, the exalted ones, the ones who seem to get all the attention and accolades, the ones who seem to reach the stars and be able to do anything they want with impunity -- they have lows, too.  We just seem to think their highs come so closely together they never feel the crushing blow of a fall, because the ladder to the next high is in plain sight.


Let's think about that for a minute.

Whether we're talking about the person next door with the perfect yard and perfect kids and perfect body and perfect husband, or just a trip through Blog Land, seeing the multiple talents and personalities -- really, folks, it's all surface. It's all what we SEE. We're only seeing skin deep. Some people's gifts are on the surface.  Some people's gifts are deep inside.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling the blues and feeling left behind, or less talented, or just not whatever it is you're striving to be. But there's a key word in that sentence. Can you guess what it is?

via Pinterest

After you've sat back for a while, doing other things to give yourself a break, write that word down -- STRIVING. Paint it, draw it, print it out in pretty font, but write it out and tape it everywhere you work. All you can do is strive to be the best you can be.

No matter what your craft, if you want to become better, sign up for a class, buy a book, and schedule a couple extra hours per week to practice. Don't have that much time in a week? Then make it a couple extra hours a month. But write it on the calendar just like you would a doctor's appointment, and don't miss it.

And an easy one? Quit reading the very blogs that make you feel inferior. Just stop.

via Pinterest

And lastly, I want you to be proud of what you do, and realize that not everyone in the world can do it!  Wear your jewelry -- you'll get compliments.  Hang your art on the wall -- people will be amazed you did it!  Lay your quilt across the back of your sofa -- people will want to curl up in it.

STRIVE.  Own it.  And hey look -- there's a ladder. 

Via Pinterest

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. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BTW -- The Exploded Table

While the cat's away, the mice will play.  Or rather....

As you can see above, I keep all my beads in plastic baggies to keep them compartmentalized.  I have an enormous armoire for the trays, but even they are contained.  I just can't stand the chaos of a huge opened tray of beads out, which is why this particular BTW is making me feel like biting something.  And I recycle those plastic baggies until they are falling apart, so I'm doing my part as best I can where plastic is concerned.  One good thing about the baggies - I never, ever have to polish sterling silver.

Way too often, I have strands of beads that I have plans for, only to get more strands that I have plans for, and then more, and then more, and then more, and then before long, my husband is considering signing me up for a Hoarders: Buried Alive intervention.  

(A comment about hoarding -- I've always thought that hoarding is a function of the size of your house.  Because I think there are a LOT more of us that hoard; we just haven't run out of space yet.  Or we only hoard one or two things.  And as much as I love American Pickers, it's hard for me to know whether to feel bad for the guys who've hoarded all that stuff, or delighted to SEE all that stuff.  A conundrum wrapped in a riddle.)

Today I got practically nothing done because my bead table overwhelmed me.  Tomorrow I'll put away almost all of it and start all over.  But I did make one little trinket which is the TOTAL opposite of all the clutter -- a new line of Tiny Treasures.

"Hand to Heart"

So now I'm going to take my cranky-pants to bed for an early read.  I just finished reading "Falling Angels" (loved it, made me tear up, gave 5 stars to), and am now slogging through a short one, Alexandre Dumas' "The Crimes of the Borgias" via Kindle.  I wish like crazy I could be watching it on TV but I don't get that channel and can only hope NetFlix will carry it.  After that, I'll be reading "The Hours" and then an ENORMOUS book I got for $1 at the library today (SCORE!), "The Memoirs of Cleopatra".  This is not to be confused with the latest book that's out, but still -- looks like good stuff.

And if you are interested in the Borgias, I'd recommend "Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy" by Sarah Bradford.  I read it ages ago but I remember it as being just what you'd expect of anything with the Borgia name in it.  And as always, I'm open to book suggestions!  I'm also on, and you can find my book list here.

PS, Free shipping at ends tomorrow the 28th at midnight!

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, April 26, 2011

Sleepy Cat is Sleepy

I've introduced you before to our fat cat extraordinaire, Vernon.  Now, I get tired.  I wax melodic about the virtues of naps.  But this certainly, without a doubt, takes the cake.

Vernon fell asleep while he was grooming his tummy.

That is an entirely new level of tired. 

But I think we can all appreciate it.

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. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Day at the Park

Today the stars aligned and both Zack and three of my best-est beady friend Cindy's  kids had no school today.  Not only did the stars align, but they burst out some fireworks, too, because the weather was perfect for a day at the park.  I found this cool web site called MeetWays that helps people find a halfway point to, well, meet, and we found an awesome park to take the kids.

Trying to keep up with four boys between the ages of eight and two is something else.  I took twelve pictures and I only managed to get this snippet of Zack going down the sliding board...

One of Cindy's boys is already in the enclosure and another is standing ready.  Those kidlets were fast and I was tired just watching them!  But there's something invigorating about hearing the laughter of children.

I caught them plotting their next strategic strike on playground equipment...

... and then gathered them up for a group photo.  Zack is hot and cold on getting his picture taken -- he's either ALLLLL for it, or he gets all paparazzi-outta-my-face on me.  This was one of those ham-it-up days.

Then I learned a very good lesson.  Never put your camera in your bag next to an ice cold beverage, especially when the day starts heading into the 80's and you're not in the shade.  For one, I could no longer see what I was shooting -- the sun was too bright for me to see through the viewfinder.  Therefore, I shot a ton of photos not realizing I had condensation on the danged lens.

That would have been SUCH a good shot, too!  I mean, I love to mess around with Picnik but this is just a little too, too.  Ya know.  

So once Cindy alerted me to the condensation issue, I unscrewed one of the lenses and tried again and got the moment when the kids realized they'd had enough of the heat and were ready to have lunch.

Zack and I are absolutely identical in many things, and pink red cheeks in the least little bit of sun (ha ha, I almost typed snow... sigh, wishful thinking...) ANYWAY -- we both stay rosy cheeked all summer long.

After our lunch, we headed across the street to my favorite store in the world ...

We headed for the magazine rack and I picked up the latest issue of Beads 2011.  So. Much. Eye candy!

All in all, a wonderful day.  I told Cindy it was really the first day I felt like I could walk normally without holding on to something or feeling faint or having to go to bed as soon as I got home.  When you're in crap health, you feel like there will never, ever be a good day again.  We all try to ignore the crap part, so when a truly good day falls in your lap, grab it and take advantage of it and live it up for all it's worth.  Even if your idea of living it up means simply sitting in a chair on the deck reading a book -- do it!  Enjoy every minute you can.

Every one of you is awesome.

Enjoy your week!

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.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter -- Of Peeps, Egg Hunts, and What We Believe

recipe at Eclectic Recipes

We love Peeps in this house.  I love them fresh and I savor the crunch of the sugar.  My husband, for some reason, likes them when they're a little dry and stale.  Either way, I think melted over chocolate sounds great.  And Rick got the new chocolate dipped Peeps this year in his Easter basket.

Zack loves Easter egg hunts.  And at some point, I'm so exhausted that I sit on the porch stoop and chuck the eggs as far as I can throw them into the yard.  Zack thinks this is hilarious and the game is to see how fast he can grab these easy-to-see eggs.

Occasionally, one goes missing, like last year, when we found one months later in the flower bed.

I had to explain really really fast to Zack why three-month-old candy that had been exposed to the elements was not a good food group choice.

I love making Easter baskets for Zack.  It doesn't hurt that I love giving presents anyway -- holidays just give me an excuse to do more!  Interestingly, Zack isn't a huge candy eater, although I introduced him to the joys of the Godiva chocolate store at the mall, and every few months or so, we make a trip and he gets to pick one out.  I have to remember my camera on Monday because I think we're going to be making a trip.

Yes, I love making up Easter baskets full of Matchbox cars and Pokemon cards and random treasures, but Easter takes me back to a wounded place in my heart some eleven, twelve years ago.

When I lived in Charlottesville, VA, I blundered into an Episcopal church quite by accident, on the very first day of Holy Week.  In the midst of my loneliness and pain, I found myself loving the tradition and the quiet and the calm and the candlelight of that evening, and regardless of my beliefs or my place in the world at the time, it was exactly where I needed to be right then -- sitting in a corner of a back pew, watching.  I've never felt that sense of being alone yet belonging since.

Church ruins about 15 miles from where I live.

I hesitated to write about that experience because religion is such a polarizing issue, but really, I think what we believe and the way we believe is so personal that lumping a group of people into ANY one group would be kind of tough.  There are nuances of a theme, things that make any single person believe more of this and less than that.  With the way the world is right now, I'd be happier if there was less debate over who has it right and who has it wrong, and we'd just concentrate on being kind.  I feel pretty confident that kindness is universally accepted as a Good Thing.

Zack, age two, and a friend.

So love and hugs to all of you -- have some chocolate, enjoy your friends and family, hunt eggs, and thanks for visiting me today.  Happy Easter.

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.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earthenwood Studio Design Team -- A Key and an Egg

Today I'm bringing you two creations made with beads sent to me by Melanie of Earthenwood Studio.  Earthenwood Studio is actually one of the first art bead shops I purchased from as a beginning beader, so I'm extra-touched to be included on this design team!

Melanie recently created a new, exciting shop called Earthen Oxide.  I immediately started crushing on these pendants because they combine two of my favorite things -- found objects (in particular, keys) and sparkly resin.  I love resin but can you believe, I haven't messed with it yet?  

My first purchase at Earthen Oxide -- sooo much to love about this piece!

ANYWAY!  One of the pieces I received was a gorgeous PURPLE key.  I mean, please.  PURPLE.  How did she know?  Could it have been any more perfect?  I think not.

Usually I like to get all funky and stuff, but this time, I kept it really simple.  I added a tiny touch of orange (to add that touch of the off-beat) and an Arte Metal butterfly from Vintaj.

Like it?  I added a little bit of orange at the clasp, too.  The chain is gun metal, from Ornamentea.

Sometimes simple says it best.

Which leads me to the next piece, which incorporates a handmade ceramic egg in a crackle finish from Melanie.

For some reason, this little egg totally stumped me.  And I have no idea why.  I totally blanked and didn't even think about birds, or twigs, or trees, or anything from nature.  Looking at that picture now, as I write this, I'm suddenly hit with a dozen ideas.  But on game day?  (Shakes head dolefully.)  Bad day for the home team.

So I went back to simple.  I had a plain aqua ceramic tablet pendant that has been floating around my bead cabinet for a while.  I pulled that out, and then one drawer down, found a patterned ring from Tierracast.  And that was that.

The egg now has a backdrop, a frame if you will.  I tested it out, and it hangs nicely.  Sweet and simple but unusual, thanks to that cool crackle finish of the egg.

I always worry when I make simpler jewelry.  I worry that I'm not doing justice to the beads I'm working with.  But really, I 've never pigeon-holed myself into any type of genre -- one look at my web site and you can see I make a lot of different styles with a lot of different beads.  I want my shop to be like a boutique -- something for virtually anyone, and excitement at every turn.

And speaking of shopping, 
all purchases on my web site receive 
free shipping from now until April 28th.  

Thanks again to Melanie of Earthenwood Studio for including me in her Design Team!  The other members are:

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.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

~~~ Winners of the BeadFest Goodies are... ~~~

Finally!  You've all been so very patient with me, but finally, FINALLY, it's time to announce the multiple winners of the BeadFest goodies I picked out for you guys! 

(And oh hey!  I'm also going to Bead and Button in June, so there will be ANOTHER fun giveaway then!)

Thanks for the lovely photo collage, Melissa!  

So of course I asked my resident Number Picker to choose the numbers from the Resident Bowl (as we don't have a Sorting Hat)...

and he chose the winner of the gorgeous spring shades of faux suede....

and Zack was excited for you, too.

Next, the winner of the grab bag of fun from My Elements is....

The winner of the pewter toggles from Bead Me Up is....

Next, the winner of the Czech glass earring pairs is....

The pendant from Green Girl Studios goes to.......

and last but not least, the metal stamps from PJ Tool & Supply go to...

And as they say in late night infomercials...

But wait!
There's more!

This was so much fun I had to do one more.
A mystery grab bag of goodies goes to.....

And Zack went wild at the news of all the winners.

Congratulations, everyone!

And never fear!  
A new mega-giveaway will happen after the Bead and Button show!

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.