Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why buy handmade?

So I was wearing a piece of my jewelry at work today and one of our clients asked me where she could find my necklace and was a little disappointed when I told her I made it (but that it or a similar piece was for sale).

And it was then, while we waited for the rest of her party to show for the meeting, that I got to share my views with another unknowing person about the benefits of buying handmade items.

I started off by telling her she could rest assured that she'd be getting an original, more times than not a one-of-a-kind piece that has not been mass produced by machinery. I know most others, like myself, will make certain items that look similar, for say Valentine's Day, but that each item is indeed different whether it be by adding a crystals, silver balls, or shortening or lengthening the item. Occasionally, I will make an identical pattern with different gemstones or crystals, but still, each piece is made with my own two hands and my love of my crafts.

Furthermore, at least in my case, 98% of all of my items can be made to fit, and if not, I can closely recreate a similar piece to custom fit. In most commercial/mass produced pieces, that cannot be done.

With handmade jewelry, the only hype you will get are all of the questions and comments about where you found your wonderful jewelry. The hype that comes with mass production/commercial production is often the brand name which raises prices because of trademark issues. I can keep my prices low because I don't care to brand my products other than by word of mouth or opening my own shop in ten years lol.

All times are uncertain, even the good ones. In this current bad economy, this is the perfect time to go handmade for the very reason I told her above. Most artisians I know, whether jewelry makers, bead makers, painters, etc., we put so much love into our crafts that no matter what, we often underprice our items either because we a) want to or b) have a hard time knowing the true value of our items.

Each handcrafted item takes on a life of its own and has its own character. Personally, I don't find that with commercial/mass produced items, even as different as they can be. I used an example of Webkinz, which is one of my personal addictions. These are adorable stuffed animals that have a virtual world where you play and take care of them. I can pick up ten of the same animal in the store, and really not be drawn to one in particular because they are identical, all cut from the same mold.

With handcrafted items, that is not true, well at least in my opinion. For example, at a recent bazaar there was a man there with 10 pairs of earrings all made with the same stone, same colored crystals, and even though they appeared to be the same from a distance, when I got closer, each one was a slightly different pattern, slightly different length, just enough something different to make it unique.

These are some of the reasons I buy handmade and encourage others to go handmade.

Perhaps these will help you when faced with a similar question down the road if they haven't already been used by you :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Returning to My Garden

I have found myself the last few days really struggling to be creative and happy. It's becoming too much of a familiar theme with me and I don't like it.

The biggest reason I know of is because it's just been a short month since my dad passed away and yet I've caught myself several times calling his old hospital room phone number and then when there's no answer, I call my mom's house fully expecting him to answer the phone. It has not truly sunk in yet that he is gone and I don't know when it will. I can tell myself over and over and I can visualize the service at the Veteran's Cemetary and the folding of the flag and Taps, but it doesn't help.

Today, I lapsed into a really bad melancholy and just felt like I wanted to wither away. But, then I looked at my two beautiful girls and realized that just couldn't happen. So, while they were occuped with friends who came over to play, I walked over the bookself and found an old friend of mine. It is a book I discovered back in 1991 by Shakti Gawain and it's called Return to the Garden.

In this book the author rawly and truthfully reveals her path to self-discovery and personal power. She writes with such emotion and holds nothing back the reader can't help but be drawn in and become more focused. So yes, I sat down and reread the whole book again today. I haven't read it for about a year now, but before that, I read it at least 10 times a year.

It's sold in bookstores under the Psychology/Personal Growth sections, and occasionally New Age. I don't truly believe that it fits in any of these sections, it should have a section all it's own. I truly recommend that this is a book every woman must read no matter what her beliefs are. This book is not about religion.. as a matter of fact, there are some things in here that I know some of my religious friends have found offensive and repulsive.

A little background on me here, I was raised Catholic, but I never really practiced Catholicism. In my early to late 20's, I met a friend who declared herself not religious, but not an Atheist either. She didn't claim to be Wiccan, but she said she felt most at home with the Wiccan family. She introduced me to wands, crystals, and much more, things I'd never heard of let alone seen in my life. In my late 20's, I tried many religions, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholicism, Mormonism... none of them were me. Even as I went to church and led youth groups, and participated in each religion, in the back of my head and in my heart, I wasn't where I was supposed to be. I would always find myself feeling like a fraud. So, I stopped going to church and started practicing the alternative.

I started using crystals and spells and meditation. I still believe in higher powers and higher beings, but I do not classify myself to any religion. And I found affirmation, even though I doubt the author meant to or would approve of the self-affirmation, and sought solice in this book.

Again today, I was in the same place.. I needed solice, and found it. The book opens with a short "Dear Readers" letter from the author in which she talks about the book being her journey of discovery and return to the garden of her soul and her connection to the earth. I needed to read that. I needed to see in black and white that at least one other person at sometime in their life felt what I was feeling inside at that very moment. The need to discover, or in my case rediscover the garden of my soul.

To me this means the things that make me happy even if I have to be sad in the process. So how does one discover the garden of their soul and connection to the earth? For me, it means getting back into the things that make me happy. That means allowing myself to make mistakes as I be a wife to my husband, a mother to my girls. That means getting back into making and creating the things I am happy making and not the things that make me sad or miserable in making.

When we are young, we learn to reject and repress unaccpetable feelings and even ourselves.. things that have happened to us. What this book points out is that the things we've represeed don't go away because we or others want it to. They fester and build inside of us and explode eventually. For some of us, it explodes in the creation of jewelry, original artwork, poetry, songs, etc. In others, unfortunately, it explodes in violence.

In writing this, I am just off to rediscover myself and find what keeps me centered and focused. I am off to work on myself and my creations and keep finding ways to express the bottled up emotions inside.

I am off to rediscover my inner child, and I highly recommend to one and all that you do the same at some point in your lives. This book, and again it is Return to the Garden by Shakti Gawain shows you how to do this in the last chapter of the book.

Blessings Be

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creative Inspiration

So as I have sat here the last two days battling yet another in a series of cluster migraines, I’ve had lots of time to think.

Yep, despite the ever present kaleidoscopic explosions in my head and the feeling that my eyeballs are being stabbed from the inside out and at any moment could fly out and then snap back in like they show in the cartoons, I’ve given thought to the topic of inspiration.

All these colors that I see during migraines, sometimes in patterns and sometimes not, are like a magical, albeit obscenely painful, painted canvas. Hard to imagine finding inspiration to get creative out of an experience like this, but many times I write my best poetry or make my best jewelry combinations either during or right after the migraine storm.

A lot of my crafting friends get their inspiration from nature, catalogs, books or movies. That’s when I tend to hit a “dry spell” or slump. Sometimes I will be watching a tv show or movie and cannot stand the jewelry on a character and I end up making something that in my fantasy world, I would have that character wear if I were the person in charge. But nature.. well nature always stumps me unless it’s the clouds or rain.. clouds during a thunder and rain storm inspire me to create darker pieces with splashes of bright color in one place only… usually the pendant.

I try to take my inspiration from whatever or wherever I can get that “spark”… rarely do I try to stifle myself, yes stifle.. I have been accused of being too splashy at times, and I just try to please myself.

I wholeheartedly believe that if I create something that I like, with my full passion and creative drive, and put it out there for others to see, it will be appreciated. And, there will always be someone to give that creation a “home” – even though a lot of times, it finds a permanent home with me J

So what’s your passion and creative drive? What inspires you?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What a shocking and pleasant surprise!!

I won an award!!!!

I am very honored to be chosen by honeybearbeads for this award. Thank you Mary!

Here's the story behind this award:
The authors say that blogs who receive this award are exceedingly charming. This blog invests in the PROXIMITY in space, time and relationships. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that even more friendships are propagated.

So, now it's time for me to pass on this award and 'propagate' some friendships!

I'd like to pass this award on to...

Honeybearbeads (again.. she got it once lol)

Miss Gina Designs

Athena's Olive Tree



Cloud Nine Creations

All Hype or Just Right?

So I sit here this lovely, dark, cloudy, rainy Sunday morning pondering what I shall make today. The calendar and emails from my beading groups tell me I should be focusing on Valentine's Day hearts and fluff, but I am struggling with that. Maybe I am throwing myself off because as I sit here drinking my coffee, flavored with Pumpkin Spice creamer, it just doesn't seem like this year should be flying so fast already does it?

Aside from that, in the back of my mind I just keep hearing this voice tell me what a commercial holiday Valentine's Day is and that it's just a day invented for retailers to recoup or gain more financial stability. Oh wait.. now I know what I am hearing.. that's my husband's voice in my head lol.. he tells me that every year.

So I don't know. I sit here know wondering... does he have a valid point? I'd like to think not. I think almost every aspect of life deserves a special holiday to be celebrated or given a little more hype than any other day of life. It's not like I'm big on holidays anymore and maybe that's what makes me somewhat jaded too. Bad things have happened now in my life on or about two of the biggest holidays of the year. I almost died on Valentine's Day one year, and this past year, my dad passed away 10 days before Christmas.

But, since I started this blog process with the new year, I also resolve to move forward. Perhaps I need to put away the Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer, and go back to Hazlenut, dig through the bead stash and find the red. white and heartsy fluffy stuff that can work for Valentine's Day and one of these days soon, go shopping on Etsy for a non-commercial Valentine's Day card for my hubby.

Then, I can start dreaming of little green men who hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some of my favorite gemstones and why:

Tonight I am trying to inspire myself to make some jewelry for a special order I received. Once again due to a migraine and lack of sleep, my creativity has hit a stump.

I thought perhaps if I spoke to my inner self as I type I may find inspiration. So, in no particular order, I thought I'd share two of my favorite gemstones, their metaphysical properties, and what I use them for - for personal use.

SODALITE: Depending on the color variety of each stone, it reminds me of cloud watching. Aside from the calming, soothing color, Sodalite is helpful in the metaphysical realm to help one arrive at logical conclusions and help eliminate confusion. Who can't use help with that? Being a firm believer in the metaphysical properties of stones and crystals, I use Sodalite personally because I feel it purifies my body and helps with insomia. A couple of my creations with Sodalite are above.


ARAGONITE: I have seen this stone vary between white, pale yellow, yellow-gold, green and blue. I have read that there is a brown aragonite, but I have not seen it. A friend of mine turned me on to Aragonite a few years back because I was very stressed out and was having trouble meditating. I went to the store, found Aragonite and touched it. The stones emitted a warming sensation in my hand and I just knew it would help. I now wear an Aragonite bracelet or earrings almost daily. It is believed that Aragonite helps one maintain discipline within their activities and is said to enhance reliability. Aragonite has physical uses as an elixir or wearing the stone. These include bringing warmth to one's extremities and to help ease aches and pains. One of my creations with Aragonite is above to the left.

Well I guess that's it for tonight, I think I will go back to the craft room and try to make some more goodies.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I love rain

Sooooo I am sitting here at my computer listening to and watching the rain out the back window. I just wish there was thunder to go with it and lightening.

There is something about this kind of weather that I find very calm and relaxing and very condusive to my creativity. I know that there are a lot and I mean A LOT of people here in Washington State that would disagree with me about now due to all the flooding that we are facing, but I still love the rain.

I think I would make a good duck or other water loving bird. That said.. and a fluke of a question.. I wonder just what birds think and do with themselves?? I mean they can't write, can't bead... can they do anything but be pretty and make some of them make good food and all of them crap on everything?

Think I will go make some more coffee, open up the bead drawers and see what kind of goodies I can make tonight.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blah Blah Blah another random Blog

So today was a very weird day. I got to work and parked my car like I always do using my parking brake. About 30 minutes later my co-worker called me to tell me it had rolled back and down our steep hilled parking lot, but because it has a flat area, at least it didn't hit any cars it just parked the drive. So I made the trek up about 80 steps only to discover that no, I had not forgotten to apply my parking brake, my little Hyundai Accent just had no traction in the slush and ice lol.

The rest of the day flew by in a flurry of paperwork and file shuffling and when five o'clock rolled around, I was stoked and ready to come home and create more jewelry and clean my house. But then on the way home, two songs played on the radio back to back that reminded me of some very happy times I enjoyed with my dad and I completely fell apart. So I came home, fixed a dinner for me and my girls that I barely ate, and have been sitting here puttering around blogging, networking and listing new stuff on websites with the attention span of a teetse fly.

But, at the very least, I accomplished listing a few new things up for grabs to the peeps who find something they want such as beaded cell phone charms: and

and bracelets: and

Now I find myself getting tired of sitting in front of a computer screen flipping back and forth between 10 screens I have open and ready to go try and make some more jewelry as I prepare to watch CSI:Miami in an hour.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A night to ramble

Sooooooo did anyone else spend their day doing as little as possible??

While I didn't really intend to spend my day doing as little as possible it certainly turned out that way. Spent the morning into early afternoon battling a most obnoxious migraine, but during that time still hung out on with my online buds.

Then, I created a few more masterpieces (at least I keep trying to convince myself they are masterpieces) including this newer creation.
Tonight as I sit here veggin some more, I see commercials for the new season of American Idol coming soon and find myself anxiously awaiting to see another Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, and Carrie Underwood. Unfortunately, as much as I loved Ruben.. well where is he now? lol
My junkie trashy tv shows start tonight on VH1 too.. the return of yet another go round of lookin for love for Bret Michaels, and of course, the new one about child stars... where shall I start?
Hope you all had a good weekend and hope everyone has a good Monday.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Well this has certainly turned out to be a very productive Saturday. No cat naps for me as I had hoped for, instead I made more jewelry, cross-stitched on a lap quilt for myself and listed a bunch of new items on my Etsy site.

The kids were pretty well behaved today for a nice change of pace lol and hubby was out enjoying himself skiing with his friend.

I received a couple of small special orders to start 2009 off with a bang so I am hoping this to be only the start of the better new year I am hoping for and feel I deserve.

I am thinking of starting a jewelry giveaway for followers and friends of my blog.. any ideas or comments about that idea are appreciated.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Making good wine out of sour grapes!!

Well all I can say is thank goodness today is Friday. I am sooooo ready to just have a slow weekend with time to create new jewelry and spend time with my kids and my hubby. Except my hubby is going skiing with a friend.

At least I know while the kids are occupied with the Wii my husband's parents gave them for Christmas, I will be able to clean my house up, do the laundry, and make some pretty stuff. I am also hoping to get in a couple of cat naps as well.

I have not been sleeping well at night and when I can't sleep I get up and read or watch the government televisions shows til I'm bored to sleep. Some nights I will sew and other nights just sit and stare into the dark.

I've had such a total lack of motivation this last two weeks and yet tonight I have already made two pairs of earrings and tried a new style of necklace that I messed up beyond repair lol.

Off to try and make more while on a roll. And maybe I'll even get some sleep tonight.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's a New Year and time for changes

It is officially a new year and time for major changes in my life.

Two weeks ago I lost my dad after a courageous battle with cancer. That of course, made the holidays hard, but made me even more determined to make changes in my life as it reaffirmed the saying that life is too short.

So even though I swore I was not going to make New Year's Resolutions, I made them anyway and this is my first step to keeping them.

This year it is time to focus on things that matter the most, family, friends, and my jewelry designing. I have found that trying to create pieces right now has been difficult, but also somewhat inspiring. Thinking of my dad and things we used to do together and what he liked has somehow taken shape in my designs.

I guess I don't know what else to say, but I can at least cross one little thing of my to-do list and off to the next one which is working on pics of new jewelry. :)

Happy New Year everyone I hope it rocks!!!