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April happenings at Beadmask

Wow, I’ve got a lot going on this month! Some of the highlights include the Beading for a Cure Charity auctions, a  gorgeous new Fae Team Exhibit, vending at the Spring Fairy Festival in Auburn and of course, more school. Reading it back to myself, that list doesn’t look anywhere near as big as it feels… but regardless of how it looks, it’s enough to keep me hopping. Hopefully, some of this will be interesting and exciting to you as well 🙂

This year’s Beading for a Cure auctions have been live for a couple of weeks now.  There are several lovely item listings ending tonight, including a gorgeous bracelet made by my friend Nikia Angel, a beautiful beaded mask, an incredible beaded dragonfly wand and so much more!

The mask that I donated (pictured above) has been listed today, and the auction will end on 4/18. In case you’re not familiar with this charity, Beading for a Cure is an annual art challenge and fundraiser. Participating bead artists each purchase an identical kit and create something with the materials. They can create anything they choose, as long as they follow the same ground rules. Starting in March, the items are auctioned off and the proceeds are donated to the National Colorectal Cancer Research Association in memory of bead artist Layne Shilling, who lost her battle with colorectal cancer in November of 2002. It is an amazing gift of love and talent. This year’s participating artists went all out, so please visit BFAC’s eBay page and show them some love.

Annnddd, the new Fantasy Artists of Etsy (or Fae Team) exhibition is live! These exhibitions showcase the artwork of the team’s talented members, and they’re a real feast for the eyes. The theme for the current exhibition is “Faeries, Elves and Pixies, Oh My!”, and it is truly fabulous. Please take a moment to visit the site, and tell them that I sent you!

Last, but certainly not least, we will be vending at the Spring Fairy Festival in Auburn WA this coming Saturday, April 16th. The event takes place at the Green River Community College in Auburn WA — please visit the website for details and directions (cause I assure you that you never want to get your driving directions from me 😉 Besides an impressive array of talented vendors to shop from, there will be fun workshops, exciting performers, a kid’s corner and a costume contest! It promises to be a fun show — hope to see you there!

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9/11 Bead Quilts are Finally Home!

In November of last year I wrote a post about the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, explaining that we needed help getting the quilts to their final home at the National September 11th Museum in Manhattan. Between coordinating, creating, exhibiting and finding a home for the quilts, our team has spent nearly a decade on this project! As much as I have loved (and learned from) being a part of it, I really wanted to send it home to the museum by the end of 2010.

Shortly after I wrote that post, the museum contacted me to let me know that they might have some funding available to cover shipping costs. Serendipity? Possibly — but sometimes I suspect that there are angels watching over this project. We’ve been blessed with an incredible amount of “luck” along the way, and this was no exception.

I didn’t post anything at the time, since they weren’t sure if they could do it and I was afraid to “jinx” it. Fortunately, the only setback we encountered was a delay in shipping due to the winter snowstorms on the east coast. In the grand scheme of things, that is no big deal. The quilts arrived in New York at the end of January.

As you can see in these photos, the shipping crates have seen many miles  — how I wish we’d thought to add stickers from all of the places they’ve traveled, like you see on the old steamer trunks! My dad  reinforced them to ensure that they could make this final trip; despite their tattered appearance, they arrived safe and sound.

This has been an incredibly beautiful effort to be a part of, and I’m thrilled that we were able to see it through and secure such perfect placement.

It was truly a collaborative effort, made possible with the help of many many hands. As such, it would be impossible to name and thank everyone, but please know that we are very, very grateful to every single one of you! I would like to give special praise to Rosa Meyer and Julia Pretl for their exceptional dedication.

The 9/11 Museum and Memorial are being constructed at the WTC site in Manhattan. I believe the museum will open by or before the ten year anniversary of the attacks, which is this September. If you get the chance, please stop by and blow the quilts a kiss for me.

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Beads of Courage

A collection of artisan glass beads via the BOC blog

Sometimes this world can be a pretty dark place, but in spite of all the sadness and the ugliness that barrages us on the evening news, there are people out there doing amazing things. A light in the darkness, if you will… The folks at Beads of Courage are an excellent example of this. They have created an “Arts in Medicine” program that strives to provide comfort and aid to children and families coping with childhood cancer.

I fear that my attempt to explain this powerful program would only fall short. Instead, I invite you to watch this news clip featuring the founder and the families who benefit. It’s a compelling project worth getting behind. I encourage you to donate, or consider buying something from their online artists gallery.

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Please help the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project!

Photo by Julia Pretl

Hey folks, I need your help! The 9/11 Bead Quilt Project is my artistic baby. It is an amazingly touching and beautiful work of collaborative art from around the world. Don’t just take my word for it, please take 5 minutes out of your day and go visit the gallery pages via the link above…

These quilts have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial, which is being built on the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. Here’s the catch — the completed project is comprised of nearly 300 lbs of glass beads … so shipping ain’t cheap. Fed Ex (or UPS) will charge about $500 for ground service, and it looks like we may have resources for about half of that already.

photo by Julia Pretl

We need to raise another $250 by the end of the year, to get this project shipped to its final home at the museum. Over the years, we have done some crazy fundraisers — and yes, even begged from the Bead Community — to get the quilts what they needed.  Now that it is nearly a decade after the attacks, and there are so many other cool beady projects going on, fundraising is a lot harder. People seem to have lost interest, and also, there are a lot of other (worthy) groups out there vying for the same donations.

Frankly, I just don’t have the ability to devote the insane amounts of time that I used to, and just this once, I’d like to retain a little dignity along the way (yes, I realize I may have blown that by writing this post 😉 .  I need some creative ideas for how to make this happen WITHOUT burning the candle at both ends, begging like an idiot, or getting frustrated and dipping into my own pocket as I have in the past.

Photo by Julia Pretl

We have considered a Facebook fundraising campaign, in hopes that word will travel quickly … but I’m hesitant to create a “fan page” for something that will ideally be out of our hands within a few months. We have also considered doing Ebay auctions for the last 9 books (limited edition — we will not be printing more). Unfortunately, the last time I did an Ebay fundraiser the results were kinda sad … so I have some hesitancy on that one too. Plus, I worry that we Americans are so inundated with consumer marketing this time of year, that people will just feel overwhelmed or be unresponsive. Still, in the face of all of these obstacles, there has to be a solution. If you have ideas or suggestions for a simple and creative way to raise the needed funds to get these quilts shipped to their proper home, please let me know!

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Happy Halloween!

I am deeply grateful for the support of my customers, family and friends, who have helped to make this another wonderful mask making season! It makes me realize how very blessed I am, so I’d like to pay a little bit of that positive energy forward…

The last mask that I created this Halloween was this “Day of the Deadheads” calavera skull mask, which I’m going to donate (along with a couple of others) to be auctioned off at EPIC’s Annual Dinner and Celebration. The proceeds will go to their campaign to help save the old growth redwoods in Richardson Grove. Fellow treehuggers can check it out on Friday, November 5th 2010 at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, California.

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9/11 Memorial Bead Art


 In response to the tragic events of 9/11/01, I became a part of  The Bead Quilt Project, which is an international collaborative art memorial project that was designed to offer hope and healing to all whose lives were changed on that day. When we started out, I could not have imagined how this project would snowball or how it would change my life. In the nine years since, I have learned so much about the healing properties of art and also about the beauty and resilience of the human spirit!

We invited people to express their feelings in 3″ x 3″ beaded squares, and we were stunned to receive nearly 600 beaded squares from around the globe! These tiny works of art were sewn together to create “quilts” that reflect the full spectrum of emotions and responses that rang out around the world.

The quilts spent nearly seven years traveling around the US on exhibit before we were able to find the perfect home for them. They have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center Site. We are in the final phase now, just trying to raise the funds to transport them to their final home in NY. I invite you to visit the 9/11 Bead Quilt galleries today, to enjoy the beautiful sentiments contained in this truly special work of art.

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Heading into the Last week of Beading For A Cure Auctions!

Are you familiar with Beading for a Cure? It is – in my opinion- one of the coolest bead charities out there, and so very worthy of your support.  Each year, I am amazed by the innovative beadwork that these artists create, and also by the love and commitment that the board members devote to making this happen. A fun aspect of this annual fundraiser is that you are able contribute to a very worthy cause AND potentially win a beautiful piece of bead art for doing so. Win-win, right?

If you’d like more info about this organization and its mission, you can click the link above, or scroll down for a description that I borrowed from their “About Us” page. If you trust me that this is an awesome organization that needs your support and you want to check out the super cool bead art RIGHT NOW, you should click here for a link to their current auctions. Please keep in mind that the current auctions end on May 2nd, and the final round of auctions for this year’s challenge will end on May 7th, 2010.

More about Beading for a Cure:

Layne’s Legacy is an annual beading challenge dedicated to raising money for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Association in honor of our friend Layne Shilling, who lost her battle with colorectal cancer in November 2002. The premise of the challenge is simple: participants purchase a kit which contains a variety of beads. Each kit is identical. At least one of each bead type must be used in the finished project and the beader can only add one other type of bead to the project (but as many non-bead items as they wish). The completed works are as varied as the beaders who created them. In the past we have had jewelry, sculptural work, and decorative items.
When the projects are all finished, they are auctioned off on eBay and all of the proceeds (minus operating costs) go to the NCCRA, donated in Layne’s name. This is our way of honoring the memory of a wonderful beader and good friend. Even those who never had the chance to meet Layne have joined into our cause. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use your artwork to help find a cure for something as insidious and devastating as cancer.
Our goal with Layne’s Legacy is three-fold. First, we want to keep Layne’s memory and spirit alive in all of us. Second, we want to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and the need to fund research to find a cure for it. Third, we want to raise awareness of beadwork as a serious artform, and beaders as artists with skill and heart. As well, we all want to have fun with this! While we’re doing this for a serious reason, we all love to bead, and it’s a great challenge working with beads that someone else has picked out. It’s very rewarding to see the various projects take shape. Usually, no two projects are anywhere near alike even though we all have the same beads!


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Good News for the Bead Museum

Just a quick follow up to my recent posts about the fundraising efforts for the Bead Museum of Arizona — as of May 1st, the museum had raised $67,000. As a result, the board has decided not to close the doors! They’re not out of the woods just yet, but it means there is time and hope — both of which are precious. You can read more about it at the Bead Museum AZ website. Phoenix area residents, please take note of the upcoming fundraiser on May 28th.

I’d also like to thank the people who bid on the benefit auctions that I listed for the museum last month – I really appreciate your support! The Bead Museum of AZ has recently signed up for eBay’s Giving Works program, so please consider listing or bidding on a few of these auctions too! If the Bead Community pulls together on this one, we can ensure that there will be a Bead Museum for future generations to enjoy.

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More on The Bead Museum of AZ



In a previous post, I explained that The Bead Museum of Arizona is in danger of closing unless they get some financial help. We’re talking serious financial help. The numbers are somewhat daunting, but the Bead Community simply cannot afford to lose our oldest and only remaining bead museum.

The deadline for their fundraising goal is quickly approaching ($100,000 by April 30th) so I’ve posted a few benefit auctions to help out. You can access them from my eBay About Me page . Just scroll down to view my listings, and choose from the 10 or so listings that say “BMAZ Benefit” in the title.

These listings have low starting bids, which gives you the opportunity to get some great beads at a great price and contribute to an important bead charity. There are 2 lots of size 16/o vintage microbeads (one in a warm palette, and one in a palette of cool colors), several hanks of vintage seed beads and 2 assorted lots of vintage cabochons and cameos and West German glass stones.

The two auctions for stones and cabochons should be really fun. I plan to add more pieces to the lot as the bidding goes higher. So the more that people bid, the more cabs/stones the winner will receive! :o)
50% of the proceeds from these auctions will go to The Bead Museum of Arizona. As an added bonus, shipping is free. Please check them out, and bid generously!
(Note that ONLY the auctions that say “BMAZ Benefit” in the title will contribute to the museum – the others are my regular weekly auctions. )
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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!