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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
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Winter Solstice 2016 – Hibernation

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Happy Solstice, and many thanks to all who’ve supported my craft!

If you’ve purchased something from me, liked or shared my work, or offered feedback or encouragement along the way, YOU have helped to support my creative process and I’m deeply grateful. It occurred to me the other day that some of you have been cheering me on and collecting my work for anywhere from 5 to 30 years! I am honored and humbled by this – may your kindness come back to you tenfold.

Winter is officially here, and this quiet time seems ideal for rest and restoration. I’ve been feeling rather burnt out for some time now, and it feels like a good time to slow down and reflect on what I’d like to do differently in the year ahead. With that said, my Christmas gift to myself will be to put my Etsy shop in vacation mode as of December 31st.

I’ve not yet decided how long that vacation will last, I’m simply going to hibernate until I feel ready to share new work again. It could be a few weeks, it could be longer. We’ll see how that goes. My personal website will remain open, but I do intend to retire quite a few items at the start of 2017. So if you’ve had your eye on one of my pieces or if you only wish to purchase via Etsy, now’s a good time to do so.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement. May you be surrounded with love and comfort this holiday season.

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Stories of the 9/11 Bead Quilt Squares

Last night I was flooded with memories of working on the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, and the many beautiful stories behind the squares. This project touched my life in a profound way; while it demanded an incredible amount of time, energy and commitment, I can honestly say that what I gave is a fraction of what I got back.  With that said, I wanted to share some of the beautiful, loving efforts that the beading community created during a difficult time <3

I’d like to share this first image in acknowledgement of one of our most dedicated coordinators, Rosa meyer. The bright blue squares (“our beads help…”) were her brain child, and this theme is repeated at the center of each of the 3 quilts. The one for DC has a series of red squares that read “Our beads help to remember the fathers, the mothers”. The one for PA has white squares that say “Our beads help to comfort the sons, the daughters”, and the one for NY (shown here) has blue squares with the words “Our beads help to honor the heroes, the victims”.

Thank you Rosa for your enduring passion and commitment to this project, and for keeping it visible in the (many) years that we searched for permanent placement!

9/11 bead quilt block
“Our beads help to honor the heroes and victims”

The 4 squares shown in this image were created by Julia Pretl, who was not only our coordinator for the MD area, but our (extremely talented) web designer. She helped to problem solve for the BQ project starting from day one, and on up to nearly 10 years later, when we finally secured permanent placement for the quilts.

Thank you so much Julia, for all your help and for putting up with so much of my crazy over these past 15 years!
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This block includes squares by our NM coordinator, Nikia Angel (thank you Nikia!) as well as Rita Sova (angel) , Lisabeth Tafoya (in high resolution microbeads!) and the ever awesome Mary Tafoya. Her square commemorates the life of a NM man, Al Marchand, who was a flight attendant on flight 175.

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Notice how several of the squares in this block are from Japan? There are many others throughout the quilt, most with the same red/yellow/green pattern as the one in the lower left corner. These came from a group of Japanese artists who worked on their squares together … many of them learned how to bead in order to participate in this project!

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This block represents some of the MANY beaded squares collected by our AK coordinator, Jeanette Shanigan (I don’t remember exactly how many AK contributed, but it was a lot! Jeanette will tell you the exact #).

The one in the lower right (by Karen Palmer) showcases one of the most popular designs used in the quilt, a rose/flag motif, designed by my sweet friend Charlene Hughes, who was our CA coordinator.

Next to that (lower left) is a square by Kate Boyan, which especially touched my heart. She has been – and still is – one of my favorite bead artists, so it was a wonderful surprise to me when her square came in! There were many “famous” bead artists who contributed to this project, but to me they were all just good people coming together for a special cause … in her case, I have to admit to feeling a bit star struck!

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These two squares by Anne Brazeale of AK are just a small sample of the many squares that we received from Native American beadworkers. I think she is Tlingit, but perhaps one of the beaders from the Mat Su Valley Bead Society will see this and let me know for sure.

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There are so many special stories that I could share about these squares, and about our travels with the quilts as we worked to find permanent placement for them! I need to get on with my day today, but I will try to remember to share more of these as time allows. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who helped with this project – artists, coordinators, supporters, viewers, and more. I appreciate you all, more than I can say.

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Happy Solstice and Pollinator Week!

pollinator-weekThese little bee and butterfly themed pieces were created to welcome summer, and to celebrate Pollinator Week (which is this week!). Unfortunately, I was under the weather for a few days and could not finish them in time. Still, the intention is there and they’ll be finished up ASAP :)

I realize that it’s hard to “see” or imagine the finished piece(s) while they’re still in progress. Truthfully, I usually have no idea what the finished work will look like until it’s complete! But at very least, I can tell you that these are intended as jewelry components. The little butterflies and at least one of the bees will become pendants or necklaces, while the wings will be used in some of my earring designs. I’m leaning toward a bracelet for the bee on the blue background, though that may change by the time I complete them all. Oh, and there are some bee wings and a luna moth that didn’t make it into the photo.

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Be honorable

"Venetian Bird Mask"
“Venetian Bird Mask”

I designed this original leather mask in 2013. It’s part of an ongoing series that began in 2001 – each one is unique, but shares similar lines and details. It would seem that the design has recently been copied by another artist, who is marketing it as his own.

Sadly, this stuff happens daily. If it was an isolated incident, I might be more able to let it roll off my back – but it’s not. It’s extremely frustrating, but I try to keep my mouth shut, because everyone tells me to take the high road. To “be better, not bitter” – and honestly, I want that too. Unfortunately, there are so many of these copycats these days that the “high road” is starting to feel like a lonely ledge… and it gets harder and harder to make a living doing what I love (or to love what I do for a living) from that place. 

This really hits me where I live, and I don’t know how to put a “positive” or “professional” spin on it. To my fellow aspiring artists, I cannot encourage you enough to be respectful of your peers (and yourself). Be honorable, be original, and don’t steal.


This gallery showcases many (but certainly not all!) of the designs that I’ve done in this series. It’s included to give you a sense of the time that I’ve spent honing and evolving these designs, and also to show how many people have commissioned these signature pieces from me over the last 15 years. Please be respectful of my art, my livelihood, and the wonderful people who have helped to support that process.

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And a Solstice Sale…

winter oak ornamentsWell I fully intended to be a curmudgeon this holiday season, but I guess it’s just not in my nature. I spent a good bit of time in my studio this weekend, thinking about which ideas I’d like to build on in 2016, and what I’m ready to let go of. In the interest of clearing out space – in my studio and in my mind –  I’ve marked down many items throughout my store. Check out my SALE section for a wide selection of items marked down by 25% or more, through the end of 2015.

These discounts can be combined with my existing winter specials, enabling you to get 35% (or more) off my usual prices! Info and coupon codes for those offers are copied below:

* All US domestic orders of $40+ are eligible for free first class shipping.
On my website, you’ll automatically see the free shipping option when your cart reaches $40
On Etsy, you’ll need to enter the coupon code “shippingfree” at checkout

* All orders of $75+ are eligible for a 10% discount. 
To receive this discount, use the coupon code “happyholidays” at checkout. That coupon code is the same for my website as it is for Etsy. Please note that this offer applies to ready made items only, not custom work.