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Absolem Mask

 © 2014 Jason James Jason Skinner 

This mask was commissioned by the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, for their fall performance of “Alice Down the Rabbit Hole”. It’s a sculpted and layered leather mask, hand painted in color shifting tones of periwinkle, indigo, deep purple, violet and fucshia. This photo mostly captures the bluer tones, but as the performer moves under the lights, you’ll see brilliant pops of those iridescent pinks and purples.

I created this mask in January of this year; interestingly (oddly?) enough, it’s the only mask that I’ve made so far in 2014!

Mask design © 2014 Andrea Adams

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Policies for Custom Work

I’m currently taking a brief hiatus from custom work, but I will begin accepting *limited* commissions again next month. Before I do, I’d like to revamp my policies in order to ensure that all parties have clear/shared expectations for this process. To that end, I would love input from both my customers and my fellow artisans. Here are a few of the topics that I’m pondering:

Have you ever commissioned an artist before?
If so, what are your hopes and expectations for this type of transaction?
Are you willing to sign a contract or agreement?
What policies or practices might help you to feel comfortable with the process?
What policies or practices might ensure that you are happy with the end result?


How detailed are your commissions policies?
Do you use a contract, or just a handshake?
Do you require a deposit? If so, how much — and is it refundable?
Do you spell out specifics, such as how many photos and/or revisions are included?
Do you charge for “extras” such as sketches, custom colors, additional photos, multiple revisions, etc?
Do you make a distinction between “customized” (ie – recreating an existing work in custom colors) and “completely custom” (ie – designed from scratch to the customer’s specifications)?

Are there any topics or policies that you feel are critical to a good commission agreement?

Thanks in advance for any input that you can offer!

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Frost Crown

© Andrea Adams/Beadmask 2013

This crown is a recent commission. The customer was really nice — not only because of how patient and positive she was with me, but because she commissioned this piece as a gift for a friend. She told me that the recipient nearly cried when it was given to her, and that she decided to go someplace very special for New Year’s Eve so that she would have a reason to wear it!

That makes me incredibly happy. I love creating pieces that are “talismanic” for the wearer… pieces that make women feel beautiful, special, powerful and/or remind them of their own growth and/or healing. I like making pretty things, but what I really strive for is to create pieces that people connect with. Pieces that empower the wearer on some level.

© Andrea Adams/ Beadmask 2013

Interestingly enough, the woman called to say “I love the headdresses that you have on your website, and I wondered if you have any more that are not up there yet?”. I told her about this one, which had been sitting unfinished since Jan 2013. I knew what I wanted to do with it, but between the move and a whole lot of custom work, I just haven’t had much time to actualize my own ideas this year. As it turned out, my plan for this piece was right in line with what she’d been hoping for … so I suspect that maybe it was just waiting for her to find me 🙂

Made from hand cut and sculpted leather, accented with a 1960’s vintage aurora borealis glass cabochon, Swarovski crystal, 1930’s vintage German crystal and glass seed beads. The snowflake medallion at the center uses a series of rough quartz points and a single piece of kyanite.

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Wednesday WIP

 Leather headpiece in progress… not quite as “huge” as this tiny mannequin head makes it seem. Colors are stunning shades of deep forest and emerald, with shocks of iridescent peacock.

Everything is loosely tacked for the moment, pending customer approval. If she likes it, all the bits and pieces will be permanently secured down, to be more symmetrical.

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Day of the Deadheads V2

“Day of the Deadheads” leather mask © Andrea Adams 2013

I haven’t been doing much custom work lately. I’ll probably start accepting commissions again in late spring or early summer; but for the time being, I’m trying to focus on some larger creative projects of my own. As such, I am guarding my studio time preciously, and seriously limiting the number of custom orders I accept.

With that being said, here’s a recent custom piece. It’s the second variation on my “Day of the Deadheads” mask. A fun little pun, made especially for an old friend from back in the day 🙂

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Custom work and current production times…

Custom work is a mainstay of my business, but I had to take a break earlier this year since I had so much going on. It wouldn’t have been realistic to try to juggle commissions while my schedule was so intense. Things mellowed out a bit when spring quarter ended, and I began accepting custom orders again on June 10th.

A week later, I was a vendor at the Fremont Fair . When we were unloading our booth into the house afterward, I took a pretty nasty fall. I was exhausted and my arms were full, so I didn’t notice the tangle of cords at my feet. Needless to say, I went flying onto the concrete, banging up my right (dominant) arm and shoulder pretty bad in the process. Thankfully, I did not do any permanent damage, but it has definitely slowed me down. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor twice a week since then, and diligently icing and using an arnica rub. These things have helped tremendously, and I’m healing relatively quickly, but I certainly have to pace myself. My shoulder is quick to let me know when I overdo it. 

With that being said, it’s been challenging to complete custom work as quickly as usual. I’m very grateful to  my customers for being so understanding about this. I appreciate it more than I can say, and I’m doing my best to keep delays to a minimum. Everyone who has placed custom orders since my injury has been forewarned that my production time is a bit slower than usual, and I’ve “padded” my work time a bit to allow for this. Hopefully I’ll return to full speed very soon, but I’m being very gentle with my arm until it is completely healed. 

As of today, I am booked through mid August. While I am still happy to accept new commissions, please understand that I will not be able to begin your project for about a month. From there, completion time depends on the complexity of your order. Also, commissions are completed in the order received. The clock starts once we have agreed on a design and you have placed your deposit — NOT from the date of our first contact. What I’m saying here (nicely, I hope) is that I cannot reserve a spot on my calendar until you’ve placed a deposit, and it’s not fair to my other customers for me to “bump” you ahead to the front of the line. 

Hopefully, that doesn’t scare anyone off. I just want to be very clear about my policies and timelines, so that nobody gets their feelers hurt. You can view my policies regarding custom work here on my website (just click on the “commissions” link on the left hand menu) and orders placed now will be started in mid-August. After that, my world starts to get pretty crazy with Halloween, and my schedule fills up FAST. If you have an idea in mind, now is probably a good time to discuss it with me.

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Taking a break from commissions…

I’ve decided to take a break from custom work. At this point, I’m still undecided as to how long of a break it will be — the only thing that is certain is that I need to do this. Most of last year was spent making what other people wanted me to, and by the end of the year I was having a really hard time keeping up with all the deadlines and expectations. While I’m very grateful (honored, even!) that so many people trust me with their ideas, my muse is really aching to do her own thing for a bit. In addition, I’m back in school this quarter so I won’t have as much time for creative work. As such, what little studio time I do have will be guarded preciously.

This is not a permanent choice — I just need some time to recharge my creative batteries so that I can continue to love what I do for a living. The only exceptions that I will make will be for custom orders that I have already discussed and agreed to accept. If we have already negotiated your piece, I will of course honor that — otherwise, please check back in a few months to commission custom work. In the meantime, please keep an eye on my website and Etsy shop — I’m hopeful that this choice will help my work to grow, and that I’ll have lots of new and exciting designs to show for it! 🙂