Friends, I’m going to take a giant step back in hopes that it will get me moving in a better direction.
To start, I’ll be putting my Etsy shop on pause as of March 31st, 2019.
So if you like to shop with me on Etsy, please do so this week before I put the shop in vacation mode! My website will remain open during this Etsy break, but I won’t be adding new work for a bit, and older designs will be retired as they sell out.
As awful as that sounds, it’s been a big wake up call. This has forced me to really think about how this current version of my business aligns with my goals.
Somewhere along my Etsy journey (and through the recession years) my focus gradually shifted from creating work that I love and feel challenged by, to worrying too much about making “stuff that will sell”. And apparently, that stuff is attracting the wrong element. So I’m taking a breather in order to refocus and realign.
It’s scary to just walk away from my primary source of income for a couple of months, but I really need to love what I do again. Otherwise, what’s the point?
To get to that, I’m taking a leap of faith and giving myself permission to make the things that my heart really wants to bring forth into the world. Hopefully the world wants those pieces too, and the *right* people will connect to them. Or maybe I’ll just fall. Either way, this has to change.
Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me along the way! And many thanks to my beautiful daughter (pictured) for her insight and encouragement in making this choice.
Friends, I do not offer my creations on Amazon. Nor have I authorized anyone else to do so.
Should you see my work there, be skeptical. I’m not affiliated with any active Amazon shops, and cannot be held responsible if they rip you off. Even if the hypothetical listing uses my exact product, images, logos, titles, and descriptions.
I was invited to sell on Amazon Handmade during their beta phase, and I did start setting up a storefront there during the early stages of their launch. That storefront was never opened, because I had reservations about their policies. That is the ONLY Amazon shop that is remotely connected to my business – and it was never (ever) stocked.
So if you like my work, please shop directly from my site. Here, you can be sure that the work is authentic and handmade by me.
Last but not least, If you sell jewelry or hair accessories, you might want to do a quick search over there for your own stuff. I’m no expert, but it looks as though these vendors have copied entire product categories from another well-known handmade crafts site.
So happy to share that my work is featured in the Spring issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine, hitting the stands today!
I’m still waiting on my copy, so I’ll share better photos when it arrives. In the meantime, here’s a photo of a beaded leather luna moth necklace that was included in the article. This one features a boulder opal cab with brilliant fire, along with Nevada turquoise, moonstone, Moss agate and charoite.
Many thanks to Stampington & Company for this wonderful opportunity!
Thought I’d share these “vintage” photos from vending days gone by: The first photo is from the Chumash Pow Wow in Ojai, CA, circa 1994. We’d just finished breaking down our vendor booth. By that stage in my life, I’d already been vending at art shows and festivals for about 7 years!
The woman on the left was a sweet friend from England, who used to import my work so that she could sell it in her stall at the Glastonbury Festival! (Does that event still exist?). The babe in my arms is now 26 years old, and in grad school.
The second photo shows some beaded leather bags that I made around that same era. As you can see, my style has changed a bit in the 25 yrs since these pictures were taken. Some things remain constant: my material choices (beads, leather, natural gemstones), a love of color and natural themes, skilled craftsmanship, and passion for my work and the people who inspire me to create.
This path has not always been easy, but I love it all the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons behind me, and hopeful for many years ahead. Some of you have been with me through this whole journey (thank you, I love you!) and some are just joining now (thanks, you rock!).
Please know that I genuinely appreciate every bit of support and encouragement along the way. May it come back to you tenfold ❤
Had a rough day today, contemplating an unsavory situation. As luck would have it, I came across these words that I wrote last year. It was a timely reminder of where to focus my energy. While the lame situation still needs resolution, I’d like to pause from my pissed-offedness for just a moment, to acknowledge the good:
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy griping about those unethical competitors who copy, undercut, and just generally slither around the internet. It’s true – they are many. But perhaps I haven’t spent enough time acknowledging the friendly and ethical competitors who have treated me kindly. There are many of you as well. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to know countless artists who’ve helped me to hone my craft and to learn the ropes as a vendor.
Despite the fact that we’re “competing” in a similar market, you’ve treated me with integrity and respect, helping me to learn and encouraging me to grow. We’ve empathized with each others’ struggles, and celebrated successes.
These positive professional relationships have endured time and trends, and many have grown into genuine friendships that enrich my life. Thank you for this! It proves that “competitor” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. We all choose how we conduct our businesses (and ourselves) and we CAN lift each other up without detracting from our own goals. In this way, we all thrive. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So yeah, the jackasses are out there – but so are the good ones!
I’m grateful for those of you who choose to take the high road (even when it’s not the easy road) and I promise to treat you – and your work – with the same integrity and courtesy that you’ve shown me.
Butterfly imagery keeps cropping up in my work lately. Perhaps it’s because I’m an avid gardener and spring is finally here, or maybe there’s a deeper significance: butterflies symbolize transformation, change and growth. These are huge themes for my creative work this year! For some time now, I’ve felt the need for a change; at first it was a subtle whisper, but the feeling has grown progressively stronger. So much so, that I know that I absolutely must listen to my heart, even if the next steps seem scary.
Before I tell you where I’m going, I should probably tell you where I’ve been:
In 1996 I got my first computer and “discovered” the internet. Within a year, I’d created a Hometown AOL website for my business using a WYSIWG editor. Digital cameras were still fairly new (even the really good cameras were only like 4 megapixel!) so my photos were awful. In short, it was a primitive website with lousy photos, and the name was too long for anyone to find or remember. In my defense, most websites were like that back then.
My next site went up in 1998, with a shorter-but-easily-forgettable name. In those days, my handcrafted goods and my inventory of beading supplies were listed together on one site. When I’d meet online friends at bead shows or cons, they’d always say “Oh, you’re that Bead/Mask lady!”. So in 2003, I launched my new website and called it Beadmask. The name served as an umbrella for both product lines (craft supplies + handcrafted goods), and it was memorable and easy to spell.
Over time it became clear that those two different product lines had two very different audiences, who really needed two different sites. So in 2008 I launched a second website, Treefrog Beads, which is dedicated exclusively to bead and jewelry making supplies. This left the Beadmask website for my handmade goods, and the name still sort of fit, since it featured beaded jewelry and leather masks. This set up has worked well for the last many years, but change is in the air again.
My business has evolved and outgrown the name “Beadmask”. It just doesn’t fit anymore – the bead supplies have their own site, and masks aren’t such a primary focus anymore. I certainly intend to continue working in beads and leather, and mythology and nature are sure to remain central themes for my creations, but it’s time to branch out. In order to clear the way for new growth, I’ll also have to let a few things go. Many older designs will be retired this year, in order to clear space in the studio (and in my mind) for new work. I’m excited to explore new media, new product designs, and to really dig in to more elaborate work that challenges me and showcases my skill. I want to focus on creating truly unique pieces that you will love to wear!
Long story short: My business name will be changing soon! Please don’t be surprised when you see a new name in your social media feeds. It’ll still be me, just with a fresh new name, new ideas, and new designs for you to enjoy.
As much as I’d love to tell you that this will be a seamless transition, growth and change are not always graceful. I’ll forewarn you that there may be a few bumps along the way, as I stretch to find my wings. I hope you’ll stick with me – and perhaps even offer your feedback as to what kinds of new designs and products you’d like to see. Some of you have been with me for a very long time, and I really hope you’ll come along for this next phase of creative growth!
Upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, I promptly came down with an epic flu. Two weeks later, I am finally moving and functioning again – albeit slowly. Last night I managed to list most of the goodies that I’d been working on before we left.
But before I get ahead of myself by talking about what I hope to make next, let me tell you a little more about today’s offering: these are small to medium sized hair stick pairs, measure between 5.5″ and 5.75″ long. The shape is a graceful wave that slides easily into a small bun or half up.
The laminated birch options include 3 color variations: burgundy/grey/violet striped, autumn stripes, and summer stripes. The natural hardwoods include walnut, paduk, and cherry. All have been hand sanded down to 600 grit, and finished with a blend of mineral oil and beeswax so the rich color comes through without being too shiny or shellacked.
I’m excited about this new direction, and eager to hear your feedback!
Also included in this update are a handful of my jeweled leather feather pendants. There’s a beautiful mixed media barn owl feather pendant necklace with faceted Botswana agate teardrops and a large copper circle, a barred feather in rich earth tones with dark titanium quartz crystal and semiprecious stones, and six of my classic leather peacock feathers.
Each peacock feather is unique, and they range from about 3″ long on up to 4.5″. Some are low key with simple wire work spirals, while others are more ornate with faceted cobalt beads and Swarovski crystal dangles. For the neckline, you have your choice of an antique copper chain, a glass bead and Swarovski crystal necklace, or a hand dyed ribbon neckline. As always, a portion of every peacock feather sale will be donated to cancer research, in memory of my friend who inspired this series.
These little feather pendants are simple and affordable, but they’re definitely statement pieces! Every time I wear one, it sparks conversation (and compliments). They are striking worn alone, and you can also layer them for a more dramatic look.
There are more semiprecious stone briolettes and quartz crystals, along with some blue jays (in three sizes!), green oak leaves, peacock feathers, red rose vines, and owl feathers.
It’s a small sampling, to be sure. If I’m up to it, I may trickle in a few more pieces before the weekend – but I’m not going to push myself. I hope you’ll enjoy these offerings, and thanks so much for your support this season and always!
I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.
Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!
Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.
It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.