Monday, May 30, 2011

How I Taught My Son the Meaning of Memorial Day

Posted Today


I live near St. Michaels, MD, an affluent resort town that just happens to have the most wonderful coffee kiosk and the best iced coffee ever.  Today, when I drove to get one, I noticed a severe slow-down of traffic in front of the estate?  farm?  estate, I suppose, of a man known for his complete embrace of all holidays.

I was astounded.

Cars were parked by the side of the road, and my glimpse as I passed by showed the most amazing Memorial Day tribute. Apparently, the man collects WWII memorabilia and even has a fighter plane on his estate.

I was in tears on the drive all the way home (my coffee was free, by the way, because I was a veteran, but that's not why I had tears streaming down my cheeks).  I decided to come back with my camera and my eight-year old son and teach him what Memorial Day is all about.

On the drive there, I explained in age-appropriate terms how war wasn't what anyone ever wanted, but it was a part of life, part of what freed people from tyranny.  He already knew from school lessons a bit  about the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the Underground Railroad and such, but I also explained that even now, wars were going on across the world, and they were complicated.  His father and I both were in the military, but his daddy really was put in harm's way many times -- Bosnia, Iraq, and places unknown to me, flying in airplanes as a linguist for most of it.

We talked about respect for those who lost loved ones, regardless of our feelings about war in general, and walked up on the tableau.

This man had put a LOT of work into this.

He had put up so many white crosses, and then mannequins in the uniforms from Revolutionary, Civil War, World War I, World War II, and current day.  The empty spot, I'm imagining, is from the Korean War, or the Forgotten War.  Rick's father fought in that war, and absolutely refuses to speak of it.  (Click for a larger photo).

There were the wife and child with flowers for the grave of a fallen husband and father.

More soldiers to the side, from World War II, I'm imagining from the uniforms.

Uniforms my husband has worn.  When I think of the dangers he put himself through in his twenty-six years.... and then when I realize I lived in South Korea, next to a land where the ruler was a complete crackpot, all the chemical warfare drills we all went through start to mean something more than an annoyance.

More of the broad view, showing the scope of work this man did for Memorial Day.

And, along with the flag, a symbol of freedom.

Flags festooned the long lengths of white fence.  Zack took in all of this with a quiet, contemplative look on his face.  Not a look of fear, but a look of , dare I hope, appreciation.  Appreciation for what this man had done, appreciation for the dozens of cars that stopped to take pictures, appreciation for what I was quietly telling him.  Appreciation for his parents, who did their part, and understanding, in his eight-year old capacity, that things don't always make sense in the world, but people believe in things, and we should respect them.

Respect is something I've been trying to teach Zack daily.  Respect for others, for things, for quiet time, for waiting turns.  Sometimes object lessons come in unusual ways -- such as driving down the road to get a coffee on Memorial Day.

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, May 29, 2011

An Important Auction for Type 1 Diabetes

Today I posted my last three creations for Genea's Cup of Bead Soup, but it's a special Cup of Soup.  Please click here and read about it.  I'm auctioning off all three pieces for Caylin's Cure, a Type 1 Diabetes Awareness campaign.  Soon, I'll be posting a blog hop where you can help diabetes research by auctioning off a piece of jewelry from your existing stash.  You can donate any percentage at all, and raise awareness for a disease that affects many.

I hope you'll read, and please stay tuned for blog hop information.

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, May 28, 2011

Sale on the Web Site

Posted Today

Not much for today other than to announce a 10% off sale at Lori Anderson Designs from now until June 3rd.  I'll be adding jewelry daily, so keep looking!  Check the web site for new jewelry, and later this weekend you'll see these pretties (unless you email me first!)

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, May 26, 2011

If I'd Only Known

Posted Today

Going along with the business tips theme, I recently had a post on Art Bead Scene called "If I'd Only Known".  Click the title to read it -- you might find some good info and a bit of humor!

As you can see above, today I have our first Guest Blogger, a looooong-time friend of mine.  She could tell you some stories about our adolescence.  Ask her about the motorcycle in the potato salad.  No, not a REAL motorcycle.  A toy one.  But it's one of those weird memories that sticks in my head -- her kid brother zinging his toy into my dinner.

source with recipe

Ah, memories and why they stick in my mind.  School graduations are coming up -- but how many of you remember the guest speaker?  Unless they were someone uber-famous, you probably don't remember.  But you probably DO remember who you walked with, if a beach ball was bounced around over everyone's heads, and what it felt like to finally get that all-important piece of paper.

I went to college later than most.  The reasons are long and convoluted and best left to the book I'm going to write, but anyway, I paid my way through four years of grueling biology, chemistry, and every micro-level science class I could take in pre-med to get a degree from the University of Virginia. 

Due to the size of the university, everyone Walks the Lawn from the Rotunda to listen to the Key Note Speaker.  Here's where the pomp and circumstance, the tears and giggles, the balloons and beach balls, reign supreme.  I can't tell you how very, very close I came to skipping my own graduation because I couldn't handle the drama of not enough seats for two sets of parents, but I finally threw my hands up in the air and said, "Screw it" and realized -- I paid for this.  I paid a LOT for this.  This is my day.

my photo, taken with film (ah the days before digital!), Walking the Lawn in 1997

After we all roasted a bit in the heat, each School (in my case, Biology), went to various buildings on Grounds to actually get our diplomas.

Even though the building was drab and less than academic, I couldn't have been more proud of myself.  I've often said that I'd rather do four more years in the military than go through four more years of college -- it took that large a toll on me financially, emotionally, and mentally.  I took over-full course loads, rarely took anything that wasn't a science class, and spent my first semester at UVA wondering why in the WORLD the Dean had admitted me into this amazing university.  I even made an appointment one day to ask him (in tears) why he'd done it.

But it all turned out.

Putting myself through the rigors of higher education at UVA, alone but for a few friends, took its toll.  The robe hid it well, but I'd lost a lot of weight by this time.  A crotchety old professor even pulled me aside to ask if I was ill and suggested I might want to consider eating a sandwich.  Eating disorders have been a part of my life, and while I'm definitely plump now, I always wonder what bit of stress might be the bit too much.

Eating or not eating, I was happy.  No one else existed in that room but me, the kindly professor, and that piece of paper.  I'd worked so hard.  I'd dreamed so often.  I'd filled out the application so many years, between my high school graduation of 1987 until the day when I finally mailed it in.  No one could possibly know what that degree meant to me.  I still have dreams that, as I'm walking the Lawn, I remember I've forgotten to take a class and they take my diploma away.  Ever have a dream like that?

So this isn't just about the Art Bead Scene article "If I'd Only Known", an article about the beading business.  It's about If I'd Only Known back in 1997, when I graduated UVA -- would I have done it differently?  Would I have pushed myself so hard?  Would I have done it at all?

I do know the answer to that last question -- an emphatic, resounding "YES".  I had something to prove to myself when I was in the Air Force, a woman in a man's world in Korea, and I had something to prove to myself in a highly-regarded university in a place where I knew no one and had no support system.  I never ended up in medical school  (you can read more here) but I don't regret going to college at all.  

There's nothing you can do about a regret, anyway, except turn your back on it and make it into something else.  What that something else is, is up to you.

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, May 25, 2011

Second Verse, Same as the First

Well, not quite the same as the first.  But it IS the second post of the day!

Published Today

Some updates to the blog:

You may have noticed that I've now added "Followers" to each of the new pages.  Each page acts as its own blog, so if you want to know immediately on your Blog Reader when something's been posted, now you can!

I've got a nice line-up of guest bloggers coming up, most whom you've probably never heard of, and I'm really excited about that.  I've also got some great DIY Tutorials coming up, also from some talented people.  Don't forget that DIY can also mean cooking, so if you're a whiz at the stove, break out your camera the next time you make dinner!  (I like pie.  Did I mention that?)


Finally, I want to share with you some Bead Soup Blog Party press!  Michelle Mach wrote up a wonderful bit about the Party, including a piece MADE from party materials, and announced the next sign ups (August 1-3).  It's in Super Beadwork in their Bead Buzz section.

And here's the page (we're on the bottom right, and I can email you a copy if you can't read this).

All very exciting, isn't it! 

Now if I could just get some work done.  I've been spinning my wheels, it seems.  I got one teacher's gift made, have another to make by this weekend (school is out June 1st!), need to send out a huge box o' stuff, need to make things from a list a mile long -- and it all is so overwhelming that I'm in danger of just shutting down. 

Do you ever get like that?

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.

Jeannie Do-Over Challenge

Jeannie Dukic of Jeannie's Blog decided to host a Do-Over Blog Hop.  She's been making jewelry for, as she says, a "long, long time", and she had a lot of pieces that she felt needed to be remade and given a face lift.

I think all of us, from beginner to the most advanced beader, can relate.  How often have we looked back over what we've made even six months ago and thought, "What?  Wait.  I should have done this."

This is the piece Jeannie sent along to me.  I loved the vibrant colors, in part because they're not at all colors I normally work with, and therefore, perfect for a challenge.  I love a challenge.  And why is it we admire certain colors, yet don't design with them?  So here was my chance!

original piece from Jeannie

I first decided to make a pendant for the necklace.  I rarely wear a necklace myself that doesn't have a pendant.  I gravitated towards the toggle ring, and then pulled a Tesori Trovati pendant and a few coordinating 4mm Swarovski crystals to match the teal and green glass beads.

I thought the word "BEGIN" was apt as this necklace is a new beginning.

I decided to go asymmetrical and linked the teal and green beads, along with the smaller lime green beads, up one side, and then found some lilac beads with the perfect blue sheen to accent the other side of the necklace.  Along the purple glass bead side, I also added some oxidized metal chain.

I like the result.  With the addition of an art bead pendant and some simple Czech glass beads and a length of chain, then a little asymmetric theory, the necklace is now freshened up while still using a great deal of the original beads.  

This goes to show you that you shouldn't always toss your first creations, but take a good look at them and see if they're salvageable.  If you feel the beads are no longer up to your current standard, consider making them into key chains, zipper pulls, wine charms, or something of the sort.  In my house, no bead goes unloved!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing what I made with Jeannie's jewelry, and now it's time to take a look at what others made!  

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, May 23, 2011

What I Want

(Also published today:

What I Want

To remember this when I'm in tears.


To remember that plus-size can be pretty
and it's a lot about the attitude.

To remember that although one of my greatest regrets
is I never was allowed to take dance lessons, 
to remember to dance every day in my imagination.


To remember no matter what it is, 
this too shall pass.

Secret fact:

A dear friend of mine,
far more fluent than I in Korean,
sat with me on the phone, both of us with 
Chinese symbol dictionaries on our laps, 
searching for the characteres that translated into Korean
for "survivor".

Not just "survivor",
but, "to survive immense emotional pain with dignity 
and come out better for it".

Two symbols fit.

This is an example of 
"does not quite translate into English".

My tattoo is hidden 
unless I wear a swim suit
which isn't happening any time soon.
But I take immense comfort knowing it's there.

Because life is about mistakes.
No day is perfect.
They can just feel that way.

Cherish them when they do!
Let them go when they don't.

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, May 22, 2011

Business Tips for Jewelry Designers -- Part 1: First Steps

Also posted today:

One of the topics I've often been asked to write about is business tips for jewelry designers.  I'm going to share some of mine today, but please know they are just my observations, things that have worked for me, and things that have worked in my demographic (the MD/VA area) and for my style of jewelry (see it at Lori Anderson Designs).  This will be an ongoing series.

When I first started out in business for myself, I started out from a need to carve out a space in the world that defined ME, Lori Anderson, as a person.  I also wanted a way to express myself creatively, something that was still a very new process for me.  And finally, I secretly hoped I'd be successful enough to bring in my own money to our household.  After being laid off twice in the year of 9/11, I was rather tired of the high-tech sales and marketing world I'd been working in.

My background is incredibly varied, and my journey to jewelry making is a crazy one.  If you click here, you can read all about it.  One important part of my background, though, is marketing, and I knew that no matter what I chose to sell, whether it was the handmade greeting cards I started with or the jewelry I ended up with, I had to market myself and market hard.

The number one thing I did, before I even ordered my first large order of beads, was create a web site.  I could have a ton of jewelry to sell, but if no one could SEE it, what was the point?

I started out very simply, writing my first web site myself using Microsoft FrontPage.  In 2003, Etsy and BigCartel didn't exist, and even if they had, I had NO network of fellow designers to bounce ideas off of.  I was on my own.

(Note to yourself: don't be afraid to approach jewelry designers and bloggers you admire -- but refrain from your first question being where they get their supplies or how they make what they make.  Questions like that can put some designers on edge or on their guard, as knock-offs and tutorial theft has hurt a number of artists.)

The second marketing step I made was to design and print business cards.  I use VistaPrint for regular business cards and Moo for those cute little picture cards, but there are other options out there.  A note:  I chose not to use a glossy coating on my business cards because the coating made it too difficult for my pen to write jewelry descriptions or booth numbers for my customers.  And forget using pencil.

I also use VistaPrint for the postcards I have printed for craft show mailings -- a key marketing plan I use for each and every show I do.  Yes, it costs money, but I always offer a 10% discount on the postcard, and the shows often provide stickers for reduced admission that can be added to your card.  I find the cost of the mailing is more than covered by additional sales.

The next step in marketing yourself really moves into branding yourself.  Decide upon a font face, logo, and color scheme.  Fonts can be found online at sites such as and FontSquirrel (just be sure to check on any licensing or commercial use issues). 

I used Pantone's Guide to Communicating With Color to decide on my web site colors (it's also an awesome book to use for jewelry color schemes.)  I took those colors and chose my boxes, bags, and ribbons, all from  I ordered a case of bubble mailers, designed various sizes of my logo for online ads and letterhead, and I was ready.

So there you have it.  I had a place to send potential customers and store owners.  I had business cards to hand out when people complimented me on what I was wearing.  Starting with this relatively dull task first saved me from having to explain, "Well, yes, I made it, and I do want to sell, but I don't have a web site yet, but I'm still working on it." 

In following series, I'll talk about storing beads in a busy home, applying to juried shows, how to be a mom and run a business at the same time, and how to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, among other things.  I hope you've found some of these tidbits helpful, and feel free to ask questions in the comments -- I'll answer the questions within the comments section so everyone can see them.

As always, 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.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.

A Few Notes About the New Blog

A few notes about the new blog:

You can make your screen smaller on most computers by hitting CTRL and the dash sign.  I fought with how to make the headers smaller but still have plenty of room to write and have failed (for now).

(Ctrl plus sign takes it larger, by the way!)

Each new page has an RSS feed, so if you want to subscribe to a certain page as well as this one (you can be a follower on the main page, but not on the other pages), just look in the right side column and click the Posts icon.

And now we shall pause for some celebratory cake:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

~~ Pretty Things -- The Community Blog! ~~

I'm so excited to launch this NEW Pretty Things blog community!

With the massive help of Ana of Liven Design, we worked together to create a blog that will hopefully appeal to a wider audience.  In those ovals at the top, you'll find:

and then of course


This main page won't change -- I'll still blog as I always have.  When there are new posts on the other pages, I'll start the post with links to those pages so you won't miss anything (but you're always welcome to browse!)

The Bead Soup Blog Party page will give the party a home, and my plan is to make it a hub for the ever-growing party.

All Cup of Bead Soup entries will go on its own page, with icons for all the participants to make them easily accessible.

The Quotes page will be updated daily.

YOU are an integral part 
of the D.I.Y page and the Guest Blogger page!
Visit those for my email 
and send in your ideas and requests!  
I want to see your work there!

I hope you enjoy the new blog format!

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, May 20, 2011

A Day Playing Hookey -- and the Shattering Fall Back to Earth

I love all the topic ideas you guys gave me yesterday for future blog articles.  Lots of good food for thought, some subjects that are already in planning stages for a memoir, and some things that made me laugh -- namely, how I manage to be so balanced.

You've got to be kidding me.

The secret?

It's all done with mirrors.

Because I'm the most frazzled person on this planet most of the time, piling way too much on my plate, saying "yes" to way too many things, never looking at the calendar when I say "of course I can" ... and then panicking and running away when the beads on the table start to topple as they grow higher and higher and the emails start backing up into the hundreds and the PAPERWORK, my heavens the PAPERWORK!

(Gasp... heave... gasp....)

A lot of times, this is where I end up when I get overloaded and need to regroup....

But not today.

Today, instead of working out like I should have been doing, I decided to take a trip to Barnes and Noble in Annapolis, 40 minutes or so away and over a Very Large Bridge to buy a book.  I had a good excuse -- I had a coupon.  Long live books, and long live book coupons.

I started out with the new VW Punch Buggy, complete with flowers in the vase..

... the pink one for me and the orange one for Zack, since he loves orange and loves the car.  The weather was perfect for opening the sun roof....

... wearing this necklace (with beads by Cassie Donlen)...

... and of course, with this hair, which I recently had done so the pink is even further up my head.

I also stopped in to get my favorite travel drink, a venti skim mocha (but whipped cream, please).  These girls are awesome.  They see me walk in the door and they start making my drink.  They see Rick walk through the door and they start making my drink.  They rock, and they rock hard.  They're sweet and hilarious and I love them dearly.


Now these next pictures are of the Bay Bridge, which is five miles long, very very high up over the water, and caused me to balk at first about moving to the Eastern Shore.  These photos were taken with my camera set on sport mode (so the movement of my car and the bridge didn't matter) and I had both hands on the wheel (I put the timer on the camera and set it on the dash next to the GPS).

But still, don't tell my husband.

It sure doesn't look like much, does it?  But it's listed on this web site as one of the scariest bridges in the world.

Anyway!  I cross that bridge with hardly a thought nowadays.  Unless there's wind.  Then I grit my teeth, feel my spine try to crawl out the top of my head, and just get through the next however-many-minutes of fear.

Barnes and Noble is a place of peace for me.  Books -- I love them more than beads, I think.  Ever since I was very small, they carried me away from a life where I didn't fit into a life where I could.  Some have asked if I'm a speed-reader, and I honestly don't know.  I would venture to say I am.  I learned to read when I was three, and quickly jumped well above my age group by Kindergarten.  Interestingly, I could read at an amazingly advanced level, but I couldn't tie my shoes or master scissors. 

I always spend a lot of time in both the children's section and the how-to-be-a-better-mom section.  Today I bought a book by Temple Grandin and flipped through a dozen others. 

Being a mom is the hardest job I've ever had.  There's no instruction manual, even though it seems like there's always a new book for me to look over.  Sometimes I read books on certain things and I get this hollow feeling in my stomach, and sometimes I read a book and I feel a wash of relief when I realize I'm not alone in how I feel or the struggles I have.  It all depends upon the day and what's on the shelf.

Going to the mall makes me twitchy, so instead of heading in that direction, I decided to drive twenty more minutes up the road and surprise Rick at his office.  Rick works on -- well, I have no real idea.  Both of us are prior military, but he retired with 26 years and a Chief Master Sergeant rank, so he has a rather important job of which I no longer have the clearance to Need To Know.  So I can't just walk in and say hi -- I have to call him and ask him to come outside.

Which he did.  He wanted to collect on that hug and kiss!

That was fun.  So back home, an hour of driving to a very eclectic mix of random tunes on a CD I'd burned -- Echo and the Bunnymen (Lips Like Sugar), Dizzy Gillespie (Manteca), Elvis (Rubberneckin', Paul Oakenfold remix), ELO (Mr. Blue Sky), and a bunch of others.  I sing so off key you can hear it over the road noise AND the blaring stereo, but as long as I don't have passengers, I'm good.

And then I got home and crashed on impact entering The Real World.

Most parents, I dare say, dread when school lets out.  I, on the other hand, look forward to it because I dread the end of each school day.  I worry to the point of a stomach ache about how Zack's day went.  Was today a good day, or a bad day?

Today was a bad day.

This goes beyond "honey what did YOU do today?".  This goes deeper, and it all goes back to the issue of needing a manual on how to raise kids, especially kids who are such amazing human beings that rather than throw your hands up in despair, you WANT to reach out and fix this or tweak that or, like Luke Skywalker, save them from a universe full of evil dudes.

It's hard for me to talk about being a mom and triply hard for me to talk about Zack when it comes to anything less than "behold, my wonderful boy, who you all know and love".  Trust me, he IS a wonderful boy who is hilarious and sensitive, deep-thinking and literal.  Yet sometimes I want to come here and cry, "Please help me, because X, Y, and then freaking Z happened and I don't know what to do!".

Then I saw these cars that Zack had set up in his playroom.

I think of Zack as that middle car, that bright shining yellow car in the middle.  

He's surrounded by obstacles and challenges, some that will turn out to be wonderful adventures, and some that will turn out to be not so awesome.  Nothing seems clear to him.  Right now, that triple circle of cars may look completely impossible to break through.  It may look impossible to turn that circle into a line, become, if not a leader, someone who can follow well with the pack, or not get run over as he travels a different road.

Zack is eight.  I'm forty-two.

I took off half the day today to relax.  Zack has days where every moment is spent being the car in the middle.  Sometimes he likes it.  Sometimes, like today, he doesn't.

The best I can do is teach him, over and over again if I have to, the right things to do, the way to react in the face of frustration, and how to handle life. 

It's a tough job.  And there's no Employee Manual.  

But the pay is great.

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.