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Treefrog Beads is live!!

Bead embroidery over hand felted wool by Andrea Adams

I realized this morning that I made this announcement on my Facebook fan page, but I did not cross post the information here: My vintage bead and cameo website is live!! As I mentioned in this post, the vintage cameo site has been in the works for quite some time, and it feels so good to finally have it open to the public (thank you again, Julia!). I still have many more products to add (tons of vintage and antique seed beads, as well as more cabs, Swarovski and old nailheads & sew-on’s) but for the sake of my sanity, those products will be added slowly over time. Even with so much to add, there’s a lot of great stuff there, so go have a look around – you’re sure to find something to tempt your inner magpie! And while you’re there, please check out the customer gallery. I am blessed with some amazingly talented friends and customers, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy their incredible artwork.

Next up? My original site, Beadmask is getting a complete overhaul. Now that the vintage jewelry supplies have their own site, I can turn the Beadmask site into a portfolio of the things that I make. At the moment, it just has a few items and it funnels you to my Etsy shop, but that’s just a stopgap while I work on the new and improved version. Hopefully, I can complete that before the New Year — wish me (good) luck!

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A light at the end of the tunnel

Gypsy Fortune Teller Pin by Mary Tafoya

Now that my mask making mayhem has quieted down a bit, I’ve been able to turn my attention back to completing the vintage bead & cameo site. Building this site has been a labor of love on so many levels. First and foremost, I really hate coding. I’m not a dumb girl by any stretch of the imagination, but HTML, CSS, java and the like just make my eyes glaze over. Add to that a litany of computer woes that has been almost laughable — at least, if you have a very dark sense of humor. And let’s not forget the sheer minutiae of researching, photographing, editing and describing  thousands upon thousands of itsy bitsy beads; plus the agony of having all of that data lost in a computer crash shortly before I was ready to launch. I’ll stop before this rant reaches the point of no return, and simply say that it’s been a long road. A very long, dark road…

Beaded Vessel by Julia S. Pretl

The past three weeks have found me alternately re-counting every bead, cabochon and rhinestone that I carry — or holed up at the keyboard, with my eyes glazed over and a litany of expletives frothing from my lips. During this time I have avoided friends and family, not only because I can’t afford to get distracted, but because I’m just not fit for human consumption when I do this type of work. I expected today to be more of the same, but guess what? I had a paradigm shift! As I worked on the site I was reminded (yet again) of how grateful I am to my talented, beautiful and inspiring friend Julia Pretl, who designed my adorable new bead site. Yes, I am gushing and no, it is not over the top. As painful as this process has been, my agony would have been tenfold if it weren’t for her help. So a million thank you’s, Miz Julia. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Vintage Style Filigree Bracelet from A Mon Seul Desir

Also, I was able to complete the preliminary work of loading and coding all of the product, and move on to something surprisingly fun: building the customer gallery! The images scattered throughout this post reflect the work of a few of my fabulous clients and beady friends (simply click on the captions to visit their sites). As I looked through these images, I was reminded of the creative and inspiring people that I’m able to connect with in the course of my work. It may sound silly, but beads have brought many beautiful friendships into my life. Somewhere in the midst of my CSS induced psychopathy, I realized how very grateful I am to do what I love for a living … yes, even if it means that sometimes, I have to write code. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The site is (knock on wood!) almost ready, and I’m feeling particularly grateful for my amazing friends, talented customers, and good fortune.

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Thinking Green…

In our household, we try to think green. We recycle as much as possible, minimize our use of plastic bags, and we choose eco-friendly products when they’re available. What does this have to do with beads? Well, I’d like to be able to apply these same values to my craft — but as most beadworkers know, beads and plastic are pretty darn connected.

If you use or collect beads, your world is probably brimming with plastic baggies, plastic vials, plastic flip top boxes, plastic tackle boxes and more. It may not seem like much, but it all adds up. Honestly, I’m appalled by how many ziplock baggies I use for my little bead business! I’ve tried to think of alternatives, but it’s challenging because beaders obviously need some kind of storage. And, most bead
enthusuasts end up collecting so many types of beads that see through packaging is a must. In addition, plastic has become an industry norm — would I lose customers if I moved to a different type of packaging?

I could go on and on, but I won’t because Beki Haley from Out on a Whim has already written an eloquent and thoughtful post on the subject on her blog. I encourage you to head on over and check it out. I suspect that she and I are not the only ones who’ve considered this. It would be great to see some discussion on this topic, and to hear other people’s tricks and ideas for “green” beading practices!

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Support the Bead Museum

As Michael Kaiser explains in this Washington Post article, many of our arts organizations are struggling in today’s economy. The reality of this hit home when I read Alice Scherer’s recent letter to the Bead Community, which asks us to come forward and help The Bead Museum of Arizona before it’s too late. This sad news caused me to reflect on the impact that this resource has had on my life:

* I first became a member of the Bead Museum at age 18, which was (eep!) 20 years ago. Prior to that, I’d worked in isolation with relatively little exposure to other beadwork. The museum’s newsletter and collection opened my eyes to the use of beads and beadwork across time and culture.

* At 20, I moved to a small town on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona. My trips in to town always included a visit to the museum. I often dragged my family along too, and in doing so, I was able share my love of beads and beadwork with them.

* My mother has a substantial collection of my work, but her all time favorite necklace features a lampwork focal bead purchased at the 1993 Contemporary Beadmakers exhibit.

* My beaded Doc Martens, “Mama Wears Combat Boots” were shown at the Bead Museum as part of the “Beadwork II: The Embellished Shoe” exhibit in 2002.

* When I had a crazy dream of creating a memorial quilt for those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bead Museum got behind the project. Their support played an enormous part in making the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project a reality.

These are some of the many ways that this museum has affected my life – it doesn’t begin to describe the influence it’s had on other bead artists, researchers, collectors, vendors and educators. It doesn’t touch on how the museum has fueled the development of the Bead Community, nor explain the outreach programs that educate non-beaders about the significance of beads and beadwork throughout history.

That said, I’m going to pony up for a family membership, which is $55. I’m an artist/student, so it goes without saying that I’m not a rich woman – but I can dig deep and find a little extra for an important cause. Please do the same (you can even donate to the museum online!) and also pass this information on to your local bead stores, beading groups, and Bead Societies. This museum has had such an incredible impact on the Beading Community. Here’s our opportunity to give something back and ensure the future of this important resource!

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Studio overhaul, take 52

This weekend’s big project has been to give my studio a much needed overhaul — again. It’s a familiar dance, we do it every 6 months or so. The beads start threatening to take over the house, and we high-tail it to the hardware store in search of new ways to corral them.

Our condo has great space for a family of 3 — but we need space for a family, an art studio AND a bead business. Moving is not an option for at least a few more years, so we’ve learned to be creative & maximize our space as best we can. Thankfully, my family is very indulgent 😉

This makeover will provide a third work table — devoted exclusively to packing & photography — and lots more shelving (“More shelving!” is like, my battle cry). I’m so excited by the prospect of being able to see my desk again! Maybe I’ll even post some pics when we’re done.