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Season’s close…

Wow, what a great Halloween season! I know it sounds weird to call it a “season” since Halloween is really just a “day” — but I prepare for this far in advance, so it feels like a full season to me. 

This year, I got to work with some of the coolest customers ! I also learned a lot. I’ve been doing this for well over a decade now, and there have been quite a few years where Halloween kicked my ass and totally wrecked my hands, too. I love the flurry of sales, but it’s still harsh when I’m bandaging my wrists and alternating heat and ice packs on my hands by the end of October; and of course, my family doesn’t enjoy seeing me babbling incoherently amidst a pile of leather scraps and glitter. They may find it amusing, but they don’t enjoy it.  I guess I can get a little mean…

With that said, I was determined to pace myself this year. For the most part, I think I did a pretty good job — as evidenced by the fact that I am even capable of writing this. There’s still room for improvement,  and I see several things that I can do differently next year. So there was a learning curve, but it wasn’t as steep as years past. I’m extremely happy about that.

My customers were amazingly positive, patient and encouraging, and I cannot express my gratitude enough. The closest I can come is to offer you all a 15% discount off all orders in my Etsy shop from now through Friday, November 4th, 2011. To take advantage of this offer, simply use the code “thankyou” at check out.
 
I’ve posted a few of my awesome customers’ costumes here. If you’d like to see more, please visit my 2011 Virtual Costume Contest on facebook (don’t forget to vote for your favorites by “liking” them!) 

Now that Halloween is over, I think I’ll take a brief respite from mask making so that I can focus on hair accessories and beaded jewelry. My beads have been calling to me for months now, and I’m more than ready to listen. Beadwork is slow and meditative — perfect for winter, and for unwinding after the bustle of Halloween madness.
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10th Anniversary

This picture shows 4 of the 576 beaded squares that comprise the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project that I was so blessed to be a part of. The square in the lower right corner was my (then 8 year old) daughter’s first piece of bead embroidery. Her square, like all of the others, measures 3 inches high by 3 inches wide. By itself, it’s a small token — but collectively, these quilts measure approximately 9 ft by 9 ft. That’s 81 square feet of tiny little beads, woven by people from around the world; woven by people who felt compelled to share their grief, love and hope in response to those tragic events.

The quilts are now in the collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. A few people have asked me if the quilts will be displayed publicly today. Unfortunately, they will not. I misunderstood and thought that the museum would have its grand opening today, but in actuality, the memorial is the only portion that will open this year. The museum will open next year (2012). Until then, you can enjoy these beautiful and healing works in our online gallery. I encourage you to take a moment to view the project today. Remember what happened, pray for the families and survivors, and hope for healing.

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When life hands you lemons…

“When life hands you lemons, say — I like lemons, what else you got?”
~ Henry Rollins

I’m back from my trip to sunny southern California. It was beautiful, and I had a wonderful time with my friends. The show that I was planning to do did not pan out as expected …. apparently, there were permit issues and the event was cancelled moments after we arrived to set up. I was beyond let down, as I’m not really in the position to take extended vacations like that unless they’re working vacations. In addition, this event took place on Mother’s Day weekend, which is typically a big day for craft shows and festivals. With that said, this last minute cancellation translated to a pretty big loss for me.

Village Grind, Wrightwood CA

Fortunately, my hosts have connections! Allison creates wonderful handcrafted soap and polymer clay jewelry, which she sells at a local coffee house called The Village Grind. She gave them a call to see if they’d let a few of the displaced vendors set up our wares on their deck, and they graciously agreed. It just so happened that they had an event planned for that day — their “Hedonist Days” event, which was a full on toga party.

They had singers and bands, and even a bellydancer. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the friendly, tight knit community showed up in full force. I had a few good sales (which at least helped me to recoup a portion of my travel expenses) and I met so many great people! Seriously, I cannot say enough about our kind hosts Greg and Linda, or about the people of Wrightwood. It is a beautiful town with a friendly, vibrant community. If you’re ever in the area, I strongly encourage you to stop by and check it out for yourself ; and if you do, be sure to pop in to the Village Grind — they have fun events and music all the time.


As you can tell, I quickly fell in love with this beautiful mountain town and the awesome people who live there. I’m considering heading back down in July for their Mountaineer Days Festival. I’m undecided at the moment, but the event that I’d originally gone down for has been relocated and rescheduled around the same time, so it could work out. I would certainly welcome the chance to visit this town again.

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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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Etsy Treasuries

“It’s not easy being green” Treasury by HandKnitsByMellissa

In case you’re not familiar with Etsy treasuries, I should probably explain that these are little groupings of shop items, which are collected (or “curated”) by Etsy members. They are lots of fun, and usually quite beautiful. Some people create these collections based on color or theme, others use them as a sort of virtual storytelling. These treasuries fascinate and amuse me in the way that they function as sort of a lens into the collector’s imagination.

When I first learned that my work was being featured in Etsy treasuries, I would take a screen shot and post it here on my blog, along with a link to the curator’s shop. I also liked to include links to some of the other featured artists. It just seemed like a good way to say thanks, and to give a little bit back.

“Cinnamon & Spice” by Amanda23

In the past it was sort of a coup to land a treasury, because Etsy could only showcase a limited number of them. So in order for a treasury to be posted, the curator would have to have excellent timing and incredible patience in order to snag that perfect window of opportunity to get their treasury on the site. This changed several months back, when Etsy opened up their “Treasury East” feature (don’t ask me why they call it that — perhaps a more experienced seller can shed some insight). Treasury East allows for unlimited treasuries, so there is no more waiting and pouncing on the perfect opportunity.

The obvious upshot of this is that it’s a lot easier to get a treasury. A more seasoned seller explained that this has a down side in that treasuries are no longer as exclusive. She feels that in the past, her treasuries used to generate a lot more views and sales for the featured artists, but with so many treasuries out there now they just do not get as many views. I can see (and even agree with) the logic in this, but it  does not kill my joy for treasuries …

“If you love me…” by me

They still fascinate me, and I still feel honored (and grateful) when my work is included. I’m not sure if they generate more sales, but at very least it lets me know that people do appreciate my work, which I find motivating and encouraging. However, I seem to get featured a lot more now which  makes it harder to keep up. Plus, if I posted them all on my blog it would be nothing but treasuries, which would be rather dull. Another seller, Orglamix showed me a simple solution — she features treasury screenshots in an album on her Facebook fan page, along with links back to the curator’s shop. Since late October, I have shamelessly copied this idea on my own fan page.

I kind of petered out on this in mid-November, simply because my world got very very busy. I was finally able to catch up this morning, and I’ve added 45 new treasuries (some of which are showcased in this post) in my Facebook album. These are the treasuries which have featured my work – along with a few that I have curated myself – since I slacked off. A few of these treasuries now have blank spots where items have sold, simply because I waited so long to get the screenshot. Hopefully, I’ll do a better job of staying on top of these in the coming year — silly as it is, I really do appreciate the inclusions and I take pleasure in this small gesture of gratitude.

Many thanks,
~Andrea

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Treefrog Beads is live!!

Bead embroidery over hand felted wool by Andrea Adams

I realized this morning that I made this announcement on my Facebook fan page, but I did not cross post the information here: My vintage bead and cameo website is live!! As I mentioned in this post, the vintage cameo site has been in the works for quite some time, and it feels so good to finally have it open to the public (thank you again, Julia!). I still have many more products to add (tons of vintage and antique seed beads, as well as more cabs, Swarovski and old nailheads & sew-on’s) but for the sake of my sanity, those products will be added slowly over time. Even with so much to add, there’s a lot of great stuff there, so go have a look around – you’re sure to find something to tempt your inner magpie! And while you’re there, please check out the customer gallery. I am blessed with some amazingly talented friends and customers, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy their incredible artwork.

Next up? My original site, Beadmask is getting a complete overhaul. Now that the vintage jewelry supplies have their own site, I can turn the Beadmask site into a portfolio of the things that I make. At the moment, it just has a few items and it funnels you to my Etsy shop, but that’s just a stopgap while I work on the new and improved version. Hopefully, I can complete that before the New Year — wish me (good) luck!

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A light at the end of the tunnel

Gypsy Fortune Teller Pin by Mary Tafoya

Now that my mask making mayhem has quieted down a bit, I’ve been able to turn my attention back to completing the vintage bead & cameo site. Building this site has been a labor of love on so many levels. First and foremost, I really hate coding. I’m not a dumb girl by any stretch of the imagination, but HTML, CSS, java and the like just make my eyes glaze over. Add to that a litany of computer woes that has been almost laughable — at least, if you have a very dark sense of humor. And let’s not forget the sheer minutiae of researching, photographing, editing and describing  thousands upon thousands of itsy bitsy beads; plus the agony of having all of that data lost in a computer crash shortly before I was ready to launch. I’ll stop before this rant reaches the point of no return, and simply say that it’s been a long road. A very long, dark road…

Beaded Vessel by Julia S. Pretl

The past three weeks have found me alternately re-counting every bead, cabochon and rhinestone that I carry — or holed up at the keyboard, with my eyes glazed over and a litany of expletives frothing from my lips. During this time I have avoided friends and family, not only because I can’t afford to get distracted, but because I’m just not fit for human consumption when I do this type of work. I expected today to be more of the same, but guess what? I had a paradigm shift! As I worked on the site I was reminded (yet again) of how grateful I am to my talented, beautiful and inspiring friend Julia Pretl, who designed my adorable new bead site. Yes, I am gushing and no, it is not over the top. As painful as this process has been, my agony would have been tenfold if it weren’t for her help. So a million thank you’s, Miz Julia. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Vintage Style Filigree Bracelet from A Mon Seul Desir

Also, I was able to complete the preliminary work of loading and coding all of the product, and move on to something surprisingly fun: building the customer gallery! The images scattered throughout this post reflect the work of a few of my fabulous clients and beady friends (simply click on the captions to visit their sites). As I looked through these images, I was reminded of the creative and inspiring people that I’m able to connect with in the course of my work. It may sound silly, but beads have brought many beautiful friendships into my life. Somewhere in the midst of my CSS induced psychopathy, I realized how very grateful I am to do what I love for a living … yes, even if it means that sometimes, I have to write code. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The site is (knock on wood!) almost ready, and I’m feeling particularly grateful for my amazing friends, talented customers, and good fortune.

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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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Precious Things

I was cleaning out my studio recently, and it struck me that I tend to collect – and cherish – the oddest things. I have saved every little note or scribble my daughter has given me over the years, along with pebbles, feathers, sticks, bones and other random mementos.  As I tidied up, I arranged some of these things into more contained groupings. This one is my favorite:

  • The abandoned nest came from good friends – they came across it doing yard work and they saved it for me, knowing that I would love it. 
  •  The little white stones were collected over a decade ago, when I lived on the beach. My daughter and I loved to go beach combing with the neighborhood kids. They would pick a different color of rocks and shells to collect each day, and we’d bring them all back to my house and put them in clear glass jars, which we lined along the long stone wall between my yard and the beach. When we moved out, I saved this small handful of white pebbles to remind me of how much fun we had.
  • Friends of ours have an old family cabin out on Whidbey Island where they hold an annual camp out, which is where Robb and I met. We found this feather on the beach that weekend.
  • The rose petals are from one of the first rose bouquets he ever gave me.
  • The little dove skull is particularly special to me. I’ve always found beauty in the antlers and skulls that I find while hiking. A few years ago, I (very randomly) told Robb that I thought birds have the most beautiful skulls of any animal, and I wished that I would find one some day. Later that week, I was hiking in my favorite city park and I stopped to catch my breath. I noticed some owl scat at my feet, and a little voice inside my head said “maybe it’s in there?” I laughed at myself for being so ridiculous, but some hopeful part of me kicked it with my toe just in case. Out tumbled this perfectly clean and intact mourning dove skull! Whenever I see it, I am reminded that sometimes the universe grants our wishes.

Those are the stories behind this little collection. Most people will see an old pile of worthless tidbits … I see symbols of time spent with family and friends, precious reminders of childhood innocence, memories of falling in love, and proof that dreams and wishes (even really silly ones) can come true.
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Thanking our Veterans

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Many of the social networking sites have a meme going around right now, that encourages people to list what they are thankful for during the entire month of November, rather than just for one day (Thanksgiving). I’m doing this privately, in my paper journal, but I may share some of these things here … if I remember … and if I have time. This one is important enough to me that I’d like to post it publicly:

I’m thankful for the warriors in my family, and for the efforts they’ve made and the risks they’ve taken so that I can be free. My stepdad Tom (Vietnam)  my partner Robb (Desert Storm) my cousin Jeff (Gulf War) and Robb’s brother Shawn (on his way back to Afghanistan now). I disagree with the politics of war, but I respect our warriors.
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