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Social Distancing & Creativity

We’re adjusting to this whole social distancing thing, and I hope the same is true for you and yours! May this update find you healthy, safe, and sane 🙂

When this shift began, I told myself that I’d just hunker down with my beads and my seeds, and do my best to create and grow my way through this whole experience. While that’s still the ideal, it seems that my muse (and my focus!) are currently MIA.

At first, I was angry with myself about this. I should be “using this time productively” and “finishing all those projects”! Now I’m just breathing through those expectations, and letting them go. Seeds are planted, and I’ve got creative projects on the table. More importantly, everyone that I love is still upright, and adapting.

My creative work is happening slowly, and I’ve decided to just go easy on myself, and accept that. I hope you’re all cutting yourselves a bit of slack right now too… you don’t HAVE to start a new project, or knock out all of those chores. Just breathe. Love your people, stay human, stay home, and be well.

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Creative Hibernation

semiprecious stone beads and cabs

My creative energy seems to go into hibernation during the winter months. This used to frustrate me, but now I accept that I’m simply not prolific all the time. I’ve come to appreciate this time to rest, restore, and plan.

It may not look like I’m doing doing much … but below the surface, I’m dreaming, planning, and planting creative seeds for the year ahead.

My semi annual trip to the gem show always helps to kick start that creative vision. It’s a much needed dose of sunshine, family, friends, and rocks! It’s also an opportunity to hand select high quality materials for my work. Playing with these sparkling stones definitely helps to awaken the muse!

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Adding a few new pieces soon!

I quietly re-opened my Etsy shop in June, but forgot to make a whole lot of fanfare about it. Lots of folks found their way to my website during my Etsy break, which is where I prefer to do business anyway. This gives me hope that you’ll all continue to support my craft wherever I share it. So thanks to all who showed up, it encouraged me to get up and try again!

While I’d hoped to return with a slew of new work, life had other plans. I spent time with family and friends, played in my garden, and then went another round with that old back injury. That last part wasn’t so fun, but it’s in my rearview now, so that much is good.

All that to say that I don’t have a ton of new work, but I have managed to complete a few sweet little pieces. Photos have been taken and edited, and I’ll be adding new goodies to the site soon.

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Planting Seeds

A friend reached out the other day to check in on how I’m doing with that whole plan to “just create what my heart wants to”. I was embarrassed (and a little angry with myself) to admit that I have not made a damned thing since I decided to take this little pause.

And then I realized that I’ve made progress. I’ve made plans, and I am planting seeds. I realized that it’s ok for me to let go of expectations, and to just see where this road takes me. The results are still intangible, and the process is not entirely comfortable. Still, I think that this is where it starts. It starts with showing up, and being open to possibility. There is no (honest) shortcut to creativity.

Anyway, I’m rambling again. Just wanted to reach out and say that I’m still here, and still striving. Taking a bit of a social media break while I sort it all out, and hoping my friends will continue to hold space for me while I grow.

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Taking a step back, and pausing the Etsy shop.

Wild Fae Leather Headpiece

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.

Last week I shared that I found counterfeits of my work on Amazon –

What I didn’t share is that this is the 4th time this year that I’ve found my exact photos, designs and/or writing reproduced by other vendors … and it’s only March! While it’s true that this is just an occupational hazard for online sellers, this ©rap is getting out of control. It’s simply unsustainable for my small business and sanity, and I need a minute to regroup.

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.

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Vintage Photos from My Vending Days

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.

handcrafted beaded buckskin bags circa 1994

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  ❤

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Competition, Community, and Respect

leather raven feather ponytail holder or shawl pin

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.
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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.

Raven feather ponytail holder © 2010 Andrea Adams/ Beadmask

photo courtesy of Priya Alahan Photography

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Cosmic Crows

Cosmic crow leather hair slide barrettes

Can’t remember if I’ve shared these yet, so forgive me if it’s a repeat… Here’s a new variation of my popular raven feather barrettes. These have multiple holes, so that they can be worn with a variety of hairstyles, and they feature a funky galaxy theme. I’m debating whether to call them “Galactic Ravens” or “Cosmic Crows”. Either way, you’ll find them in Monday’s shop update.

Galactic raven feather barrette with silver stars
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Down the Laser Rabbit Hole (pew pew)

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.

1st attempts at engraving glass.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.

laser engraved leather mandalas

Glowforge production units are starting to ship now and based on my experience with the pre-release unit, I can heartily recommend this product. If you’d like to order one, please consider using this referral code for a $100 discount off your purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m not being paid for this endorsement (I am a very satisfied user) but if you do use the referral code that I just linked, it’ll give me a bit of a discount on my order too. Win-win.

laser engraved bone beads