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Autumn Closing In

sculpted leather mask depicting a stag with antlers

We’re starting to feel the first hints of fall here in western Washington! This is my favorite season ~ rich in color and scent, perfect temperatures, and (if you’re a gardener, like me) bountiful harvests.

We spent much of the summer traveling and working on home improvements. Life got super busy for a bit, but I’m settling back into the studio now. The changing season has me working on masks, costume accessories, and other autumnal creations.

The antlered stag mask shown here is a new variant on an old design, and I’m quite pleased with it. I hope that you will be too! There are many more costume creations in the works, as well as jewelry, hair accessories, and a few new surprises. Please check back often to see these new works as they’re added to the site!

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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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A Halloween Treat

leather masks

This customer message was probably one of the best treats of my Halloween season!:

“This was, by far, my favorite Halloween costume I ever had. Your mask stopped people passing by me in the streets!!

I was (Greek goddess) Persephone. (If you are not familiar, she is goddess of springtime flowers & vegetation. Her story explains why we have seasons. I love Greek mythology. 💚) My husband was a Forest Demon.

No joke, the second I saw your mask, I knew it belonged to me. I had already envisioned my entire outfit by the time I had paypaled you the money.

And make no mistake, I did not get the mask to go with my outfit. The entire outfit, down to the very last detail, was all to go with the mask. It deserved no less than a godly presentation😊

A million thanks. Your stunning creation produced a million smiles on Saturday. As well as a night I will never forget. And I will treasure it indefinitely. 😊💚🌺

I love it when people connect with my work like this, and it means the world that she took the time to tell me about it! THIS is why I love my job.

PS. His mask was made by fellow mask artisan, Larry Wood of Fantasy Guilde Studios. Wood’s masks always have so much character, and this one is no exception.

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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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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.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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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Celebrating Wild Things – Little Brown Bat

leather bat barrette

Sharing this leather bat barrette in celebration of the wonderful little brown bat that I found in my driveway yesterday! I’m not sure if it was injured, or if it was in a torpid state. Perhaps the high winds knocked it out of its roost, and out of hibernation?

The wildlife rescue that I called was unable to make it out until the next day, but someone explained how to safely capture the bat until qualified help could get there (bats can pose health risks to humans & animals, so it’s really best to leave rehabilitation to the pros). .

Thankfully, the little fella made it through the night, and the rescuer was able to pick it up today. She’ll check it for injuries and tend them if needed … or just give it a safe space to crash until it’s ready to come out of hibernation. In either case, the bat survived, and is now in more capable hands. I’m so grateful that there are folks with the knowledge, skill, and heart to do such work!

Bats get a bad rap for being vicious and spooky, but in truth, they’re lovely creatures who play an important role as pollinators. With that said, this post is a celebration of bats in general, and particularly, the little creature that I found yesterday. This barrette is a fantastical shade of shimmering burgundy-purple, but the real life bat that I met was an adorable little brown bat.

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Such a long long time to be gone…

“You need music, I don’t know why. It’s probably one of those Joseph Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic and bliss, and power and myth, and celebration and religion in our lives and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.”

~ Jerry Garcia

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Wednesday Inspiration – Baked Alaskan Designs

baked-alaskaMy friends Phil and Julie are a couple of hippies who live up in Alaska, in a house that they built themselves. Now some of you might react by thinking “ewww, hippies!” but rest assured that they’re the cool kind of hippies; they are homesteading, homeschooling, organic gardening, child rearing, chicken raising, art making hippies who make the world brighter just by being in it.

Julie is a beadworker, and Phil helps with her small business, Baked Alaskan Designs . As you can see
from the photos, she creates gorgeous, heirloom quality bead baked-alaska3embroidered barrettes. Her “Stealie” barrettes are very popular, though I’m especially fond of her rosette style barrettes. They remind me of the type of beadwork that I used to see at Pow Wows – bold, elaborate and carefully crafted. Recent instagram posts from Julie suggest that she may have some new tricks up her sleeve as well. I’m excited to see the new ideas that she’s working on; so far, they look stunning!

She opened their Etsy shop a little over a year and a half ago and quickly found her niche, not only in terms of her work, but as far as community. She gravitated baked-alaska2toward groups of artists that network and encourage each other, and she clearly strives to support her fellow creatives. Julie often shares tips and info with me, and she shares my work (and the work of her many creative friends) on social media. Those things may sound small, but they’re actually HUGE. Making a living as an artisan is no small feat, so it means a lot that Julie not only  focuses on trying to make her business successful, she actively tries to bring others with her on that road to success.

With that said, I’m inspired by Julie’s art AND by her attitude. Thank you for being one of the good ones, may it come back to you tenfold <3

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Wednesday Inspiration – Raffle for Cecil

Amanda Edwards Mosaics' Raffle for Cecil
Amanda Edwards Mosaics’ Raffle for Cecil

I’m sharing the information about this raffle in part because I love this artist’s work, and partially because I admire her spirit. When she learned about the recent killing of a lion named Cecil, Amanda Edwards decided to raffle off a piece of her art and to donate the proceeds to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University. This organization studies lions in hopes of aiding in their conservation.

It struck me as such a loving and hopeful response to a terrible situation, and it reminded me of the many ways that art can heal. I donated for a chance to win, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same: just click on this link and donate to get a ticket(s). Doing so offers the opportunity to win a beautiful work of art, and the ability to participate in a very kind response to a tragic situation.