Habitual Habitat of the Amy

I kept reading advice columns for how to bring sales to your etsy shop, and one thing they all said is to get a blog.

I can't say this blog has boosted my etsy sales, but it has given me yet another outlet for talking about myself, and that can't be bad--can it?

The direct link to the Etsy shop is HERE

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My First Tapestry!

Today's re-listing: Tumbling Candy Cane Bracelet

Today we're going to talk about my very first Beaded Tapestry, made way back in 2001 or 2002.

It was a pretty ambitious piece back then--and actually still would be today, too.

That's roughly how I role, though; I start with somethings small and simple until I master the technique, and then the next thing I make is some sort of bizarre masterpiece. It worked that way with me learning to walk, too; I didn't/wouldn't and then one day I just started.  I like to think that's also why no one can remember my first word, but that probably has more to do with me being the second child.

I actually made it in two panels; you can see the seam going down the middle if you look hard...actually, you don't have to look very hard, especially towards the bottom of the piece, where there were some other troubles that made the beads hard to go through for the millionth time.

I also didn't leave any float-space around the edges, but it looked bad when I finished, so I sewed matching white bugle beads along the edges to give it that nice white boundary that I wanted.  I would've been better off adding another three rows of beads in whatever painstaking manner I managed, but I didn't know any better at the time.

The fringe I have mixed feelings about; I love it...but I don't really think it matches the dragon all that well. I think I wanted it to be more dense, but the exact reason for my feelings of discord have vanished over the years, and I don't think it looks that bad anymore.  Guess that's what hiding in the attic for three years will get you; my favorable regard. I'd recommend a better attic than my parent's, though. Just for the record.

I only have four tapestries with fringe right now because I've found that most of them don't need it--or that it looks really awful on them.

The pattern itself I adapted out of a dragon clip-art image (what's the copyright legality of that, I wonder? well, I'm not trying to sell it, so...hopefully no one will try to sue). I did the same thing for my second dragon, but with a different piece of clip-art.

I thought it was a neat pattern, but I didn't realize exactly how boring the vast empty spaces would be to bead, and making it in two panels just dragged out the pain.

I think I wanted the dragon to be blue but couldn't find the proper beads, so I defaulted to purple, although it's possible I tried to start with green, since my local bead store has something against decent greens and always has.
I'm not sure the beads I did pick out were the best colors for the project, but I'm never going to make it again, so I'd best be happy with it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mmmm, irony...

So Yesterday my week of the Amys in the Arts promotion was finally over, so I selected a winner and sent her the congratulations email, and while we were discussing today via email which items she wished to buy, someone went and bought two of them, and two other things, leaving me really confused because I didn't know if it was one indecisive person or two different people... and then I almost gave the discount to the wrong person before sorting that out.

Because what are the odds of something like that happening??!

AND it comes just on the tail of my whiny no-one-loves-me-or-will-buy-from-me post.  Oh, World, why do you love irony?

But it's good that I sold somethings, because now I have the money that I spent yesterday and/or can afford Christmas gifts. In my defense I bought beading software yesterday--I'd previously been using the free '15-day' trial for several, er...months. It's actually a cross-stitch software, but so far I prefer it to the beading softwares I've poked at, and the square stitch uses a grid, so it's effectively the same as cross-stitch stuff.

I'm sorry I'm not talking about roses, but I did that a few weeks ago with the Rose Pin's post.

And in other news, there's a new Amy up for this week's Amys in the Arts giveaway, and it's Amy Hall from ahouston.  She makes lovely lampwork beads (her entry tells all about it), and you can win a $20 gift certificate to her shop, where you can buy both beads and jewelry!  For more information visit the AmysintheArts blog.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Slight Changes and Penguins

So all the Christmas Bracelets are up, and none of them have sold. The AmysintheArts promotion has passed for me, and nothing has sold. It's hard to remain optimistic in the face of all this, so I've decided to stop making new stuff.  I'm still planning on renewing a post every day, and if it's not already been shown on here, then I'll write a post about it.

There might be patterns, tapestries or the odd bracelet posted now and again, but in general I'd like things to sell before I post more of them--four pages of Etsy shop is rather overwhelming, if nothing else.

If the item I'm renewing has been displayed here already, then I figure I'll make the post related to older not-for-sale things that I've made, just to keep it all fresh.

Today's relisting is the Penguin Bracelet:

It may look familiar, since I used the same pattern to create the Pinguin, which I blogged about here.  Unlike certain other animals, penguins aren't truly Christmas-related--there's no flock of flying penguins to pull Santa's sleigh, no cutesy stories about children adopting stray penguins into the family, no Christmas Penguin to hide snowballs around the house for snow-ball hunts.  But since Christmas traditionally takes place in the winter, which due to a Western and temperate-climate centric culture is generally associated with snow, and the most well-known penguins live in the snowy wastes of Antarctica, there is some relation. Although I'm still not putting it into the 'Christmas' section of my shop.

I also think this in one of the cutest things that I've ever made. My mom tried to steal it when she first saw it (and since I can hardly get her to look at the piece I made for her this is a fairly good recommendation), and it's one of the most popular things in my shop--or so I like to think. It's often hard to tell.

Ironically, I didn't set out to make a penguin. I was sitting there and working hard on the owl pattern, which wasn't going so well, but then I paused for a second and realized it looked like a brown penguin, so I copied the pattern and went with that.

I later fixed the owl pattern (or so I like to think), which you can see for yourself in the Wise Owl Bracelet. It took several owls to get it to work, and I still have slightly mixed feelings about them, but I'll be damned if the pattern doesn't make the cutest penguin. 

Sometimes things just work out that way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things n'Stuff

I went to my older sister baby shower, which is why this post was late and there was just a placeholder.  I'm going to be an aunt in January (or possibly February, though my sister has been coaching the baby on being born before the Super Bowl)! It'd be more exciting if I had more money to buy baby stuff (not that my sister needs more stuff at this point), but on top of Christmas gifts I'm feeling like a very stingy gift-giver this year.

Although I don't always give gifts to my extended family. I never know what to give them, and I can't usually afford much (though generally more than this year). Maybe I'll make cookies and put them in jars like we did that one year...

Of course, if people would actually buy my stuff, it would help. I'm not getting paid for optimism here, guys. Actually, I'm not getting paid at all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

'Tis the Season

Well, Thanksgiving is past, which means we're now onto the holiday of Giftgiving, which is a true celebration of selfishness, capitalism and greed. I'm sure you can find a few Christmas songs to that affect; you probably won't even need to look very hard.

I know every year around this time I like to buy myself things.  Of course, I'm usually employed and can afford to buy things for both myself and others, but it often makes me wonder what Christmas really means these days--or at least what all the sales are really for.

When listening to the radio, it's hard to tell if the songs are more annoying than the commercials. Both of them have me gritting my teeth in seconds, and vowing not to leave the house.

When I was a kid I put a lot of stake in the family traditions we had; Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family for dinner and gifts, and then we'd travel an hour or so, spend the night with my dad's parents and do stockings, gifts and another dinner with that side of the family.  But as we've grown older, moved to different parts of the country and started growing our own families, the traditions of my childhood fell apart. 

We're left with only one side of the family to visit, a crazy grandmother in the nursing home, my sister and brother-in-law taking off early to see his side of the family, parents who prefer to be home, cousins who live in distant states and a million other changes.

I know we'll eventually settle into having new traditions, but I can't shake the feeling that they'll always be just that--new.  I'll never have that childhood experience of a traditions that's been done every year of my life (except for the year my little sister had chicken pox) ever again.

Maybe that's just part of growing up, but I still miss it a little bit every Christmas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, today was the national US holiday set aside to celebrate turkey and football...er.  I mean, to celebrate family, food and all things that we are thankful for.

In light of this, my parents and I got up early so we could drive to my little sister's place and then to my cousin's house for the traditional dinner.

Things were going well; I woke up around 8, instead of my usual 12 (thanks mom!), and since we weren't leaving until 9:00 I even had time for a shower!  But then, at 8:47 there was an attack on dad's server! (something about ampersands?) and we couldn't possibly leave until after he blocked the hacker and made the world safe for mom's website once more.  I am thankful for the internet.

Once that was cleared up and we were only 30 minutes late, the three of us piled into the car, where mom had her usual angry fit.  I can't quite remember what set her off--I think we forgot to carry the pile of stuff to the car? even though she hadn't asked us to?--and she was much better than some years, but there was a bit of yelling.  It just wouldn't be a holiday road-trip without mom going ballistic.  I am thankful for family traditions.

We got on the road thereafter, and with only a short stop for gas and one closed exit ramp/wrong turn we made good time to my little sister's apartment.  I called her cell to let her know we'd arrived, and she said she'd be down, but our parents were already out of the car because they wanted to use her bathroom, so she had to go down and let them in...and in the process she managed to lock herself out--without her shoes.  Dad and Mom and Lydia eventually managed to get the door open with some odd tools from the car, and we were once again on the road half-an-hour late.  I am thankful for spare keys and other tools.

Eventually we got to my cousin's house, which is...large and okay, although there were some very strange bits too it.  And her closet is ENORMOUS; I've had bedrooms smaller than it.  She let's her brother and her brother's girlfriend live there cheaply, but Cousin Wesley is...not the highest quality of housemate/human (in past years he's exuded a strong aura of 'slick used car salesman').  Wesley spent the whole time in his room with a friend (whose name I never did get), save for the dinner itself, where he actually ate the turkey.  Apparently at 22 he's finally mature enough to do that.  I am thankful that my family is the family that they are--and not a speck closer.

After the dinner we sat around hearing stories of my aunt, cousin and grandmother's recent trip to Israel and Egypt, the latter of which was apparently not what they expected.  I think grandpa was on the trip, too, but for some reason he was never actually mentioned in any stories.  I am thankful not to live under constant terrorist threat.

And then we got in the car and drove home, which was a sleepier drive than the one to my cousin's, so we put on the radio and listened to Christmas music.  That's something to cross off my to-do List.  I am thankful for the fact that I downloaded a bunch of good Christmas music from www.feelslikechristmas.com.

Now I'm going to go watch a Star Wars movie with my little sister and try not to fall asleep.  I am thankful we don't have to do this again for another year--or at least a month.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bursting with Sparkles!

Will you think less of me if I admit that this started life as a glove?

It was supposed to be some sort of beaded gauntlet; this odd square to go over the back of my hand, with the top split into strips which ended in ring-like circles to go around my fingers.  There was also a band at the bottom to hold it around my wrist.

Well, that was the theory, anyway.  The 'ring' bits were mostly too small for my hand and didn't look very sturdy, and the few times that I actually put it on... Let's just say it didn't turn out As Planned and leave it at that, shall we?

I removed the band, and sewed up the splits near the top, and now I'm trying to hawk it on Etsy. It'll probably never sell, but I'm happier thinking that I may not have to live with it forever.  It's the thought that counts.

While we're cataloging the flaws in this tapestry, do you notice the way the sides...wobble. That's not actually a mark of bad craftsmanship; it just means that some of the beads were wider than the others.  This is what happens when you mix size 10 beads with size eleven beads, and it goes a long way to explaining why I've been working to get rid of all my 10s. 

It's a problem that can be worked around in some instances (the Lord of the Rings Tapestry has size 10s on it's edges, which meant I needed to drop them every few rows, but you can't tell from looking at it), and ignored in others (if it's just a few beads here and there it doesn't make a difference), but life is just so much easier when you don't have to deal with it.  And everything looks more professional when the sides don't wobble.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Endless Christmas Fun

Well, I couldn't find my Lego Santa, so this Lego mini-me will have to do.

In some respects, these mobius strips are just a failed bracelet; they're what I make when I run out of beads before reaching acceptable bracelet length (although I started this one knowing I didn't have enough beads), but on the other hand I think that they are fun little things in and of themselves.  Generally you see mobius as quickly cut paper, so any geek should be proud to have a beaded one sitting next to his perpetual motion machine.

I've also found awkward-looking mobius scarves on Etsy, uncomfortable-looking rings and a few things that don't look one-sided at all.  Some people seem to think it's anything with a twist in it, which it's not.

This particular mobius strip is extra-complicated because the pattern is...NUTS. It's another one that looks simple but isn't, and actually I didn't have enough beads to finish the pattern to a repeat, so there's a secret involved in this strip, which you can only find by closely studying it.  I feel it adds to the 'endless fun' quality of the strip.

In case you've forgotten or didn't know, I'm having a holiday giveaway over at the AmysintheArts blog--head over there for details on how to win a $15 gift certificate to my shop (just enough to buy a lovely mobius strip!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aww, nuts!

When my mom saw this she said, 'that looks like the heart bracelet.'  I rather wish she was less right about that than she was, but I was playing around with the hearts pattern to see what else it could be (see also: strawberry bracelet) and I pretty much came up with the acorn from there.

One of my coworkers a few years back had a hemp necklace (it was outdoor ed, we were all hippies, hush), the pendant for which was an acorn (hippies; as mentioned).  He'd made the choker and pendant himself, but was forever putting up with kids asking him if that was a 'real acorn.'

Every so often he'd get fed up with the questions and tell them that no, it was a 'fakecorn.'

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today Is My Day

Let's begin with the plaid, shall we?

I LOVE plaid.  I know is says things like 'Vermont' 'Canada' or 'lumberjack' to come people, but it's always said 'Christmas' to me. I blame the fact that mom always got us red plaid pajamas for Christmas. Especially if you go ahead and match that with my love of green, the green plaid turtle quilt that I made, and every time I went to be I was wrapped in Christmas colors.

Although I don't think I ever thought of it that way as a kid.

We might also be able to blame my mom's red-plaid Christmas tablecloth. Or maybe it's just me lumping my favorite things together.  Who knows?

Anyway, I've wanted to make a plaid Christmas bracelet since I thought of making Christmas bracelets, and it was the first Christmas-colored bracelet I made (I may have made the candy-cane one first, but I can't remember).

In other news, It's my week during the Amys in the Arts 9 Weeks of Amy Holiday Giveaway and Promotion, so you can head on over to the AmysintheArts blog and get your name in the hat to win a $15 gift certificate to my shop.  So far the competition is less than ferocious, so you might win. Who knows?

In other other news, I've figured out how to make this kind of origami box that I used to know how to make and then forgot.  Apparently the rest of the world knows it as a four-pointed star rather than a box, strange.  Now that I can make this box that won't get squished in the mail (or won't show the squishing unduly), I've decided I'll package each bracelet sold in one box, tied off with a bow.  I suppose I could put one bracelet in two boxes, but that would make it rather silly.

Here is a picture of what it'll look like (colors may vary):

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good for Two Years

I guess you can't really see the other seasons from this angle--I mean, winter is there, and spring's a bit fuzzy in the background, but there's only the barest hint of summer.  Which is just what it feels like in Wisconsin this time of year, so I guess that's fitting.

After being asked 'what's your favorite season' all my life, I've finally concluded that my most favorite season is whichever is opposite the one we're in. In fall, I love spring. In summer I long for winter, and so on.

I spent a year living in Portland, OR, which was...informative.  But they don't have your five classic temperate-clime seasons there.  They have part of the year where it's mostly warm and rains occasionally, and then they have part of the year where it's mostly cooler and rains occasionally.

The kids I worked with there thought the power went out when the temperature got far enough below zero.  It was -6 or so out that day.  I had a hard time explaining that I'd not only had working electricity at -40, but had to wait outside for the school bus in it, as well. 

We had three inches of snow one day, and it shut the whole city down for three and a half days.  THREE INCHES OF SNOW.

Madison would barely bother with snowplows for that.

They had spring there, though.  And a great deal of summer.  I guess if that's your favorite season, that might be where you want to live, but since my favorite season is whichever we're not involved with, I don't think I could live without all four of them.

Besides, if I did; what would I have to complain about?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Candles

I am both happy and unhappy with this bracelet.  Sometimes when I look at it, I see candles in candle holders, and the green candles go up while the red candles go down, and it's all very much what it's supposed to be.

But then I put my glasses on or squint a bit harder, and I realize that this doesn't actually look like anything. ANYTHING. It could, at the very least, have the grace to look like penises like every other failed art object on etsy, but instead it looks like...nothing. Not candles, not penises, not anything else.

I think it might have gone better if I'd stuck with the simple candlestick holder, and not gone for the finger-grip on the side (is that what that thing's supposed to be?). Then I could have had more candles...although I'm not sure if that would have helped the situation any.

There's ten candles now.  Two more would have made it a nice Christmasy twelve--but in Christmas candle traditions isn't it more like six candles? three? far less than twelve? I remember that from back when I used to go to church, and they would bring a wreath down from the ceiling. I can't recall the number of candles, but it was less than twelve.

Anyway.  Get this flaming bracelet and burn the house down. Or something like that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Look Familiar?

This tapestry has a bit of a history.  Let's see...

Back in college I worked in the Art History Slide Library where I refiled slides that were pulled for art history lectures.  It was about as fun as you're imagining, yeah.  But when there weren't slides to refile I had a few other projects to work on.  One of which was to re-label all the poorly labeled non-western ancient art slides. 

This was not as easy as it sounds because whoever labeled them before me could not write.  Seriously.  I had to do a lot of guess work for what the slides actually said, and I still feel guilty about the fact that I'd misread (and then mis-re-labeled) all the Japanese 'Moromashi' period slides to be 'Mordmashi.' A mistake I only realized long after I'd relabeled and refiled all the slides in that collection.

I'm sure the next person to work in the slide library and/or professor to teach Japanese art thinks I'm an utter idiot, but the true blame lies with whomever went before me.

Anyway, I ended up looking at a lot of Japanese art while I was doing this re-labeling stuff, and I thought it might be fun to play with subtle color differences and do a landscape scroll.  I couldn't find a good one to base my image off of, so I went with this garden instead.

In looking at it, you may notice that there is a lot of blank space up near the top.  It was nine rows of nothing followed by I-didn't-count-how-many rows of almost nothing.  However there are now more than nine rows of nothing on the top of this tapestry.

This is because there used to be a really, truly, horribly horrible hummingbird hovering above the garden.  It was...an eyesore and had a direct relation to my desire to sell this tapestry.  Although I couldn't try to sell the tapestry with the bird still intact, so I cut it out and replaced it with plain beads, which was a tedious and lightly frustrating process. 

You can still see a ghost of the hummingbird if you hold the tapestry up to the light, since the beads around where it used to be were sewn through with thread so many times.  I don't regret removing the bloody bird, but I sure as hell regret including it in the first place.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Bracelet #7

I made this pattern a long time ago.  It was originally intended for a mobius strip, but once I had a working pattern I realized that a) the stripes would reverse with the twist and b) this pattern does not repeat in the length of a bracelet--no way in hell it will for a much shorter mobius strip.

I realize it doesn't look all that complicated, but the boxes are floating upwards, which makes their repeat 33 beads, while the red lines repeat after only 4 beads, and you can figure out that least-common-denominator on your own, I'm content knowing that it's not within the 70-80 bead length of a bracelet.

Actually, that lack of repeat meant that I couldn't use it in a bracelet, since at first I was using snaps to close them, and to hide the snaps I liked the patterns to match up--but it wasn't going to happen with this one. Guess that's one plus to switching to box-clasps.

The deceptively simple pattern was also deceptively hard to bead.  I kept messing up; one or two mistakes per bracelet is to be expected, but with this one I needed to pick something out every five or six rows.  Crazy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When I was a kid one of my summer traditions was going strawberry picking with my best friend.  We'd go to a pick-your-own place near our hometown and I'd always end up with more berries than I knew what to do with--because I was really there for the picking and the eating, and not the processing.

As I grew older other things began to take precedence over the summers; working at summer camp, moving across the country, traveling around the world (that was her, by the way; I've yet to make it out of the states).  Once we were both in town at the start of summer--but the strawberries weren't any good that year and there weren't any to pick.

What was once a summer tradition had become mostly a summer memory, but we have managed to go picking this past summer (one upside to my being fired mid-May), and true to course, I picked more berries than I knew what to do with.

I made strawberry crumble cake, strawberry pound cake, strawberry muffins (which weren't any good), strawberries on ice cream, strawberries for breakfast, strawberries for midnight snack...and at the end of it all I still had a quart of them to freeze.  That quart is still frozen, and sometimes in the evenings I like to pull out the container, chip off a few berry slices and taste all the memories of a childhood summer.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nothing Funny Today

Well, first off, I'm (as usual)  a day late in mentioning that the Amys in the Arts team has the promotion up for the next Amy.  You can check it out and enter at the AmysintheArts blog.  This week's Amy is AliLilly, and her shop features a variety of jewelry and accessories and she's offering two pairs of earrings to the winner of the giveaway.  More details can be found at the Amys in the Arts Blog.

You may notice that I've been changing the look around; I thought I'd try to create a more unique blog-reading experience, but so far...well. Let's just say it might change again soon. Possibly back to the soothing blue option.  I will promise never to make my blog black with white text, though. I think all our eyes will thank me for that (and mine will revolt if I ever try it).

I got some new papers to use as photo-backgrounds the other day (I was looking for beads of a certain color...but that's a long and boring story so I'll spare you), but classically I currently have nothing to photograph. Although there's a few of the Christmas bracelets that could use a second chance at looking nice (this one, for example).

And I'm out of a certain color of beads I need for the tapestry I'm working on, so I might be making non-Christmas bracelets for a few days until they arrive in the mail.  Won't that be exciting?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Make Waves!

Despite spending a year living in Portland, OR, I never made it out to the coast, and the only time I've seen the Pacific Ocean is a family vacation when I was about 13. We went to the ocean on a rainy and gray day, but the slight chill didn't stop my sisters and I from removing our shoes and socks and playing 'can't catch me' with the waves.

I spent several years working out in New England during the springs and falls, so I had a few more chances to see the Atlantic Ocean.  I lost count of the times I'd seen it somewhere around a dozen--I spent a week working on the Rhode Island coast, so the number became rather obsolete.

I think that one of the things that struck me the most about the Atlantic coast is that none of the beaches were alike.  I know the ones I ended up going to were always far apart, but each one had its own character; here was a rocky one full of sea-smoothed rocks; here a flat gray sandy one with a few kelp-covered-rock tide pools; this one was full of giant glacial boulders; this one a flat salt marsh.

It's an endless and intriguing variety.

Now, before you mistakenly think that I was actually inspired by the ocean waves to make this bracelet, let me put your mind at rest and clarify that I was, in fact, trying to be rid of the darker teal beads I used for the ocean. Well, not rid of exactly, but I'd gotten nearly a hank of them at a garage sale and I wanted to use up the overflow so they'd fit into my collection properly.  Now that's truly inspiring.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Christmas Bracelet

I like the colors on this one. I mean, they are just Christmas colors, whatever, but I think they are nice and bold here and complement each other well.  Something to shout, "CHRISTMAS" rather than whimper it.

I've found throughout my life that triangles are really quite useful.  My earliest memories of learning about them comes from about fifth grade--I'm sure I interacted with triangles before that, but most of my earliest memories are pretty hazy. I can't even recall clearly what I learned about triangles in fifth grade, but I can bet it had something to do with story-problems.

My triangular learning continues today, as they are a fascinating shape with many uses.  I have found the greatest respect for this most simplest of shapes, without which our society wouldn't be what it is today.

Just think about it; you'd have no roof if it weren't for triangles.  We'd all be stuck living in caves or something. Imagine the over-crowding that would cause.

We also wouldn't have ice cream cones, clown hats, or proper wizarding attire.  Triominoes wouldn't--couldn't have been invented.  Algebra, geometry, GPS systems, the dangers of Bermuda, romantic entanglements.  Even your nose would be different.

So as we enter into the period of Thanksgiving (before the period of Giftgiving), I know that one thing I am most thankful for is that simplest and most stable of shapes; the humble triangle.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I dunno, maybe this one should be 'Poker Bracelet' instead, but poker's not exactly the only game you play with cards.  And aside from depicting the card suits this bracelet has nothing to do with poker.

Cards were always a big part of my life growing up.  My family used to play Rummy Royal together some nights--which was the one game dad would play with us.  And after mom taught me and my older sister Rummy 500 we'd play a hand of that before bed each night and keep a running tally of our scores in our heads.

My friends and I used to play a card game called 'Spit'--although I've since learned that maybe we made up a few of the rules--and I remember more than a few recesses that were given over entirely to one long-running game of War.

My grandparents have a cabin up north, and they'd take the four oldest cousins up there for a week each summer--usually a week full of rain--and we played a lot of games and even invented a few of our own.  It's where I learned to shuffle cards and then bridge them, which is now such an automatic habit that I get confused by people who confess that they can't do it.

My uncle once came to visit and spent four hours teaching us to play Black Jack (and run the numbers, too) a skill which I could have lived without, but have found occasionally entertaining.  Certainly I got repeated use from the rant that accompanied taking four hours to teach Black Jack.

Even now I find great joy in playing cards--though it's mostly Solitaire these days.  Just the potential involved in picking up a standard deck of cards and knowing that it could lead to a million different variations of fun gives me a thrill.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


You should really go look at the description for this one; it'll make your head whirl, promise.

So, when I work I like to listen to things; podcasts, movies, the occasional audio book.  Something to keep my mind occupied while my hands are busy.  I tend to listen on headphones so I don't disturb anyone else, but a few days ago my rabbit managed to nibble on the cord to the right headphone.

I didn't fix it, the wire frayed and I found myself in the market for a new pair of headphones.

I don't like earbuds because they invariably fall out of my ears, and I don't like headphones on a headband, either, because--well, because I did that hairstyle back in middle school and I'm in no hurry to return to it.  This rather limits my headphone options, but I managed to find two possibilities at Target and went with the cheapest one.

These headphones have this neat little feature wherein the cord to the left speaker is shorter than the cord to the right speaker.  This is an entirely awesome feature because my head is an oblong shape and my right ear is three times father from my nose than my left ear is.

In all seriousness, this is really useful when you keep your ipod in your left pocket--but do they also make left-handed headphones for people who keep their ipods in their right pocket?  What about for people who keep their ipods in their back pocket; is there a backhanded headphone cord for them?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nine Patch Bracelet

Growing up my mother was a quilter--she's a 'fiber artist' now, and you can visit her blog to argue the difference--but while I was growing up she made quilts, collected quilts, slept under quilts, hung quilts on the walls and taught quilting.  Once or twice people have tried to tell me quilts are all inherently 'country' and the best I can do is look at them in confusion.

But I digress.  The main point of that last paragraph is that my mom taught quilting, and at one point a friend of mine decided to take one of my mom's quilting classes, and I figured that if she could, then so could I.

It was a great time of mother/daughter bonding and I've never had so much fun in my life (Mom, you can stop reading here).

No, really, it was fun. I learned a lot about quilting, color, texture, fibers and the evils of polyesterdoubleknit.  I also made more quilts than any human can sleep under in one night.  Possibly in a week if the heater's not broken.  The other students in the class ranged in age from 'no longer young' to just 'old' (at least as best I could tell as a high schooler), but they were a fun group to learn with.

One of the first patterns we learned was the nine-patch, so when I was trying to think of quilt patterns I could turn into beaded bracelets it was the first pattern to come to mind. 

Beads aren't square, so the bracelet doesn't have exactly the same effect as the quilt pattern, but it gives the bracelet a nice diagonal motion and an interesting balance between the colors, making it a subtle tribute to quilting and a perfect gift for one of your quilter friends (hint hint).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Tale of the Tiny Bead

Once upon a time there was a tiny bead who lived in a cylinder with all his brothers, sisters, and various sundry relatives. It was crowded but friendly, and the tiny bead occupied himself with traveling between the bottom of the cylinder--through which he could see another color of bead--and the top of the cylinder--where he could see all the colors of the sky.

One day, he was at the top of the cylinder, relaxing and looking at the sky.  The tiny bead remarked to himself how nice it was to live at the top of the stack of cylinders, for that surely provided one with the best view.  No sooner had he thought this than the sky twisted and vanished, replaced by a silver shovel--the likes of which the tiny bead knew only from tales.

The shovel mercilessly dipped into the cylinder and scooped out a large number of beads--including the tiny bead himself--and dumped them onto a flat surface.

The beads huddled together warily for they were not used to having so much extra space. There was another color of beads piled on the far side of the dish, but they were so different--not even green!--that the tiny bead's family did not wish to associate with them.

For awhile nothing happened. But then the earth began to shake and all the beads were forcibly scattered to all corners of their new home! Some of them even fell right over the edge!

"No!" Cried the tiny bead as he watched his fifth cousin four times remove vanish from site.

Soon all the beads were united in misery over the loss.

"This is horrible!" one bead--an incredulous white one--said.  "We have been brought here only to be lost to the Floor!"

The other beads were in agreement, and there was much lamenting.

But then the tiny bead had an idea.  "Let us bond together!" he said.  "If we call upon the Needle and the Thread, they will come in our time of need and bond us so that none will ever be lost!"

All the other beads knew the story of the Needle and the Thread, although they had thought it was just stories--but they'd also thought that the Shovel was only a story as well--so without too much discussion the beads all agreed that this was a wonderful idea.

They began to call for the Needle, who arrived at last as a silver shining line in the air, the misty-white Thread trailing behind it.

"Who will be first?" cried the Needle.  "Who will hold the place so that all other beads may be secured!"

At first it seemed that all the beads were be too afraid, but then the tiny bead spoke up.  "I will hold the end of the Thread in place so that all others may follow my example," he said. And the needle picked him up and carried him away.

It was not an easy job, but the tiny bead held on with all his might, and soon enough all the beads were joined together in one bracelet and they lived happily ever after.

The End

How's that for story selling?

Voting Begins

You may remember this bracelet from a few days ago, and if you do, you may recall that I entered it into the Etsy Beadweavers November Challenge.  Well, voting for the challenge has begun today!  Head on over to the Etsy Beadweavers' Blog and cast your vote for your favorite!

My Festive Christmas Tree Bracelet is running on a platform of green eco-friendly practices.  It is strongly in favor of supporting local businesses, decorated Christmas trees and holidays everywhere. Cast your vote today!

To see other the other entrants in this challenge, you can look at the blog, type 'ebwc' into an etsy search bar, check out the challenge treasuries (here, here and here) or visit our flikr group...which I can't seem to find today. Ah well, it's not like you really wanted to look at it, anyway.

I'll be back later with a post about a listing, as per usual.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Go Team Amy!

I love this tapestry. Actually, if you spent some time looking for the wall from Saturday's post, you may have noticed that there are, in fact, two of these red geometric tapestries. That's because I love the original too much to part with it--this is a downfall of mine, clearly--so I made a second one to sell.  They are subtly different, but also very similar.

Not only have I made two red tapestries from this pattern, but my Blue Geometric Tapestry is the same pattern as well--it's just inverted, and looks entirely different.

The mirror image and symmetry lines in the red tapestries remind me of the oriental rugs my mom likes to decorate the floors with--she has a preference for the red ones, so it's a pretty strong association for me--and thus I put a line of fringe along the top and bottom edges of the two red tapestries to enhance that connection.  I also think it's hilarious that here's this tiny beaded thing pretending to be a giant floor rug. That's the kind of irony I eat for breakfast.

In other news:

Starting yesterday the Amys in the Arts team holiday promotion (Nine Weeks of Amys) has a new Amy to promote!  This week it's Amy G from Suburban Graffiti. Her shop features a variety of things like baby onesies, headbands, vintage books upcycled into notebook covers and flower pins.  She's offering a $12 credit to her shop as a reward to this week's winner!

In order to enter the drawing you need merely go to the Amys in the Arts Blog, and leave a comment about your favorite item in the Suburban Graffiti shop.  For more details and other ways to enter the contest, please visit the Amys in the Arts Blog, which is also featuring an article all about Amy G this week!

Enjoy, and good luck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Everything's On Sale!!!

So a while ago, Etsy sent out their 'etsy success' newsletter, which I like to get because it makes me feel slightly optimistic about my shop for a few minutes.  Then I realize that I don't 'sell my story' and my inspiration comes from vague thoughts like 'hey, think anyone would buy a bracelet that looks like a piece of bacon?'.  My studio lacks in mystery, being an empty (and ugly) dresser at the foot of my bed (which I can't actually get into anyway) on top of which I've arranged my bead collection around my laptop.

There's not a whole lot of mystery there to sell, either.

Anyway, the etsy success newsletter that this blog post is about is one from the holiday boot camp series, and it told me that I should--in addition to selling my mystery stories--I should make sure that my prices were correct, and it gave us a handy little equation to work out what we ought to be charging.

(time worked) + (cost of supplies) x 2 = Wholesale price
wholesale price x 2 = retail price

So, let's take a look at my stuff and see if I'm charging correctly:

It takes about 2-3 hours to make a bracelet, depending on what I'm watching/listening to, how complex and repeating the pattern is and exactly how wide the bracelet is--I generally make them between 8-11 beads wide, averaging out on the higher end of that, so we'll just say it takes 3 hours to create a bracelet. Remember that number.

Because now we have to do more complex math.  I use Czech seed beads, which sell in hanks of 9000 for...let's say $4.  That's... too small a number for my calculator to properly display, hang on... It's using exponents, but as best I can tell it's $ .00004444444... per bead or .0044 cents each. that's...not much per bead.  Okay, well, if a bracelet is, let's say 10 beads wide by...80 beads long (that's about right, and makes the math easier), that's 800 beads, 800*.00004444 is... about .36.  So it costs $.36 in beads per bracelet. Thread I'm going to leave at 'negligible', but the clasps cost about $.24 each. That means it costs $.60 to make each bracelet.

.60+3 hours...no wait. How much shall I pay myself per hour? well, I think minimum wage is supposed to be 7-something, so let's say I pay myself $8--not great, but at least it's something.  So $8*3=24+.60=$24.60!

Then we've got to multiply that by 2, which gives us...$49.20 as the wholesale price, and times 2 again for retail: $98.40. I should, apparently, be charging four times as much as I do for these, which clearly means they are always on sale and you should get yours today! or at least some time before I realize what a horrible mistake I'm making and price everything at what it should be priced.

I know it's selling myself short, but I just can't picture anyone buying my bracelets for $100. Not even for $50. Maybe for $30, but that's not much different from the $25 I already charge.

Not that it really matters, since not selling something priced $100 is about the same as not selling something that's priced $25.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This was one of the first bracelets I made for sale--actually, it might very well BE the first...no, I think it was the second because I made the Bee Bracelet first.  There's a story behind the Bees, but, well, it's not exactly today's listing, now is it?

Making a bracelet with a lightning bolt was also one of my first ideas, if only because I really wanted to get rid of those florescent beads--you can't quite tell how intense they are from this picture, but I got them on sale years ago, and while I often use them (very sparingly) as an accent color I had a whole hank of the bloody things to begin with.  I still have a ton of them, but they fit into a smaller container and are easier to ignore now.

I got a shipment of new beads yesterday, plus thread, needles of my favorite size (I've been using one bigger, and I must say I do not like them, Sam I am), and some new clasps. I'd thought I'd ordered five colors, but actually I ordered six, which meant I didn't have enough space...and then I got to spend twenty minutes rearranging beads in cylindrical stacks so that everything fit and was as close to color-order as I could make it.

You might think I'm a bit crazy, and you might not be wrong, but you also must remember that I'm still currently unemployed, so I've nothing better to do than rearrange my beads.

Which means I should prove to you in other ways that I'm nuts;

I got inspired yesterday and hung all most of my beaded tapestries on the wall. (where 'inspired' means 'sick of the precarious space-consuming way I had them "stored" on the dresser').  I took a few pictures so I can share my decorating scheme with the class:

 Let's play 'spot the postcard,' shall we?
 The giant one is my 'Lord of the Rings' tapestry.
These are all my favorites--except for all my other favorites, that is.
Now, let's play 'spot the wall';
 (I didn't make that dream catcher, BTW, even though it has some beads innit)
The swag-thing is a chain of all the bracelets and chokers I have for sale.

Wait; there's more....
The blue/purple dragon in this one is the first large tapestry I ever made.
You can see my photography pseudo-studio on the left--although that firebird is just hanging out there; I'm not going to sell him. It's where I've been shooting the new tapestry pictures.

Know what the best part is? this is not all the tapestries I've made. There's a few more scattered around them room, one or two that the attic is...holding for safekeeping, at least three I didn't or couldn't hang up and several that I don't own any more. At best guess I've made 40 tapestries large enough to be of note.

Now do you think I'm crazy?

Friday, November 5, 2010


Back in middle school my friends and I would each bring a pocketful of tiny toys to school. We called these toys 'doo-dads' and spent many of our free hours making up kingdoms and worlds involving them and the various playground locations.

The toys my friend Anna brought included a set of tiny penguins; four or five adults and one baby, all of them so well-loved that there were completely white. I believe they each had a name, but mostly I just remember that the baby penguin was called 'Pen' and he was my favorite--probably among all the doo-dads, actually.

Toys were not the only things in Anna's pockets, either. She had a newspaper that she carried around for years, as well.

I've always thought I was a hoarder, but then I'd look at Anna and realize that I was just on the far edge of normal--not that she needs to be on a TV show over it, just that my family didn't tape 'hello my name is' badges to our walls.

...although I noticed the other day that mom seems to have a collection of all her convention-related name tags down in her studio.  And I do keep movie tickets for longer than I should admit (I have been working on throwing them out, but old habits die hard, and I know there's still a box of tickets around somewhere).

Maybe Anna's pockets weren't all that strange after all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Heart Bracelet

My mom has always loved hearts. She's even tried to decorate the outside of our house with wooden ones found at garage sales.  I'm just glad there were never all that many to be found--and that the front of our house doesn't face the street. 

I suppose there are worse things you could decorate a house with; toilet paper, for example. Or raw egg.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Festive Christmas Tree Bracelet

Well, I'm certainly getting my money's worth out of *that* image (seriously, this is the...third time I've uploaded it in the past 20 minutes).

I wasn't planning to enter the Etsy Beadweavers November Challenge, which means I'm probably cheating, since I didn't make this specifically for the challenge, but if you don't report me, I won't either.  But then I thought that it's about time to skew my stats again by having 300 people look at just the one entered item and nothing else.  I mean, it's taken me the last two months to get over the last spike in viewers, so clearly it's time to enter the challenge again.

I know everyone said that I should enter the Tumbling Candy Cane bracelet, but I like the description I wrote for it, and was not inclined to change it to talk about the EBW challenge. This bracelet is at least as holiday-related, anyway.

I wasn't planning to post something Christmas-related today, either (well...inasmuch as penguins aren't related to Christmas, which is the best I could do at the moment), but my next new-listing day was going to be after the end-date for the challenge entry, so I just went with it. God forbid I do two listings in one day.

If you would like to vote for this bracelet or see what it's competing against and laugh at my foolishness for thinking I have a chance, you may visit the beadweavers' blog between the 9th and 15th of the month and do so. You may also see other entries by searching for 'ebwc' on Etsy. Or, if you just want to be awed by how much spare time some crafters have, you may just search for 'ebw team' and see other bead-woven objects. I know some of those make *me* feel like an amateur.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beaded American Flag

Well, now that we've started our Christmas festivities, I thought we could fall off that cliff and tumble our way back to July--the Fourth, specifically.

This is one of the last beaded tapestries I made before the Long Dry Spell, and I know the intent was, at least in part, to use up some of the white beads (it's not my favorite shade), but it turned out really well.  You may notice that while my other beaded tapestries all have loops along the top, which I've then attached a 'hanging rod' to semi-permanently, those seem to be entirely lacking with this tapestry.

I can sew them on if whomever purchases it has any desire for them, but this tapestry is something now that it's finished. It's not just an image of a--of a dragon or a pheonix or the moon, instead it IS a flag, complete with fifty stars.  And those stars aren't quite as easy to place as I expected, either.

In addition to this flag being something all of its own, I also find that it can be many other things while not attached to a stick.  For example:

A porch decoration

A clothesline decoration

A birdhouse decoration

A lawn ornament

A rock costume

A coaster

Or, of course, a bunny decoration!

Festive options for the Beaded American Flag are endless! Get yours today!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's here...

Today's bracelet is a whimsical one that I made a few weeks ago.  I patterned the candy canes, but then I thought that just a string of them would be boring, so I experimented with rotating them, and after a few false starts and failed ideas, I ended up with these tumbling candy canes!  I know it looks more like they are falling off the rock in the first picture, so I've included a second image below, where you can better see what these crazy canes are doing.

I really like the inanity of this bracelet, but I don't think I'll make something that's so close to being a solid color again; it was marginally boring.

I also made a mistake in making it; I somehow managed to make the second set of upright candy canes upside-down.  Well, technically they were right-side-up, but they were supposed to be upside-down, so they were upside-down in the upright position...what? anyway, the point is that I needed to cut them off, flip them over and sew them back on (something that's annoying but possible with the awesome square stitch technique), except that doing so meant I had to cut off the one end of the clasp and sew that back on as well...

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the best story, but my other option was the one about how peppermint makes me sneeze--I always thought that was why they called it peppermint, but apparently it's just me and my dad.

This is the start of my 'Christmas Collection,' if I'm feeling arrogant enough to call it that.  I'm planning to have about a dozen Christmas bracelets that I'll be posting over the next few weeks, although most of them are only 'Christmas' because they are red, green and white.  But their geometric patterns are pretty neat so far, and I'm looking forward to posting them.

Hopefully it'll only be one or two a week so I don't overwhelm people, but, well, I just realized that all the new things I currently have ready to be posted are Christmas bracelets, so it might take me a few days to sort that out.  Whoops.  I should still be reposting things in between them, so don't worry that I'll make you sick of Christmas before Thanksgiving--I'll leave that to the department stores.

Bunny Say: Hoppy post-Halloween!