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Beauty and Death shoot

photo © Michelle Masso

Michelle did this shoot in February or March, but I just realized that I never shared any of the images here! She had the concept for this last year, but it took a few months for the various participants and contributors to bring it all together. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with her, and this is one of my favorite shoots so far.

The set was an old civil war graveyard. When she contacted me with the idea, she was a bit worried that it might be “too dark” for me, but I think it’s perfect. The photo to the right is one of my favorites — I love the faded look, and the subtle damask pattern in the background that echoes the pattern on her dress as well as the pattern on the headstone. 
photo © Michelle Masso
It’s been a lot of fun collaborating on these shoots. I love her aesthetic as well as her imaginative approach. I also love that it challenges me to work on more intensive pieces. This collar for example — it may look simple, but it’s very detailed and it reflects countless hours of work. It incorporates a series of 1960’s era cabochons and cameos, along with a huge assortment of unusual vintage French jet sew-ons from the late 1800’s. These beads were traditionally used in Victorian mourning jewelry and garments, and I hoped to capture that feel with this piece.

If you’d like to see more images from this shoot, you can check them out on my facebook fan page. While you’re there, consider “liking” the page, so that you can keep up with our future collaborations.

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Dryad Shoot

Photo © Michelle Masso 

This is one of my favorite photos from a recent “Dryad” themed shoot with the fabulous Michelle Masso, of Kramer Studios. The model is wearing one of my leather headdresses, along with a pair of my sculpted leather wings. If you’d like to see more, please hop on over to my facebook fan page to view the full album!

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The Circus Project

photo © Michelle Bates

Last year, one of my friends posted on facebook about The Circus Project , encouraging folks to contribute to the group’s Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their annual show. When I read about their mission to help homeless kids through circus arts, I was blown away! What a creative and beautiful way to empower young people to change their lives. I decided to donate a few bucks, and also volunteered to create some headpieces for their December 2011 production.

We’d really hoped to drive down and see the show, but the timing just didn’t work out for us. Still, I’ve been keeping up with the project via their facebook fan page, and I was excited when they announced that their org has been featured in an episode of the TV documentary series “Turning Point”. This is a 24 minute segment about how the project started, and what it does to help homeless youth get off the ground. It’s an absolutely inspiring story – please consider taking the time to watch it!

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Shifting Focus

Snow Queen headdress – 2012

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my beads have really been calling to me. I’d love to listen, but I never seem to have the time or resources to really explore this. That’s why I’m stepping back from commissions right now; I really want to clear out some time to follow my muse.

While I do enjoy the type of work that I’ve been doing, it feels like I have fallen into a cycle of creating easier, smaller, “safer” stuff — either because that’s all that I’ve got time for, or because I know that it will sell. That last bit may sound shallow, but let’s get real — I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living, but it IS still work. This is how the bills get paid, so I often feel pressured to create the smaller “bread and butter” items that satisfy my creditors, rather than the  time intensive pieces that satisfy my soul.

Amber necklace – 2001

For a frame of reference, the headdress above is probably one of the most elaborate pieces that I’ve completed in the past several months. It’s lovely, and I’m quite proud of it; however, it’s still not a huge time investment compared to my beaded pieces. It probably took twice as much time for me to create the necklace at the left — which is still not that elaborate in the realm of beadwork! In both cases, the significant creation time requires a greater price tag than most of my work. While they’ll certainly sell eventually (in fact, the necklace already has) I typically do not sell pieces like these every day. Thus you can see how I’ve fallen into this cycle of creating more “bread and butter” work, and less of the deeper work that really fuels me creatively.

I’d really like to change that in the year ahead, but I’m not entirely sure how to do that. The cold hard truth is that no matter how loudly my muse calls, my responsibilities remain. So how do I create this shift in focus? Do I take out loans (not really an option), pray for a generous benefactor, or simply take a huge leap of faith?

For several years now, I’ve been sketching very elaborate designs which would incorporate several of the skills that I’ve developed over the last 20 odd years, and also challenge me to develop new ones. While I used to fantasize about having the time to work on these ideas, now I am feeling like I need to. Part of this drive is simply my creative force aching to stretch and grow, and part of it is the need to go deeper and develop greater patience and focus (qualities I am seeing the need for in other areas of my life). I can see and feel this goal very clearly, but I can’t yet see how to actualize it. Any suggestions?

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Random Favorites

I was organizing photos and came across some from Halloween. These are posted in the costume contest album , but I feel like sharing them here too.

I love this one — the headdress looks awesome with her beautiful wavy hair. I love the fall leaves all around, and way that she stands out against them. I was pleased to hear that she loved these pieces.

This one rocks my socks because his expression perfectly matches the personality that I imagine for these little imp masks — sly, mischievous and well, impish. Maybe even contagious. At least, I busted out in a huge grin the first time that I saw this photo.

That’s all. No long monologues today — just wanted to share stuff that made me smile 🙂

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Fall Flurries

My world has been crazy busy for the last few weeks! The pace is intense, but I am grateful for it — and for the most part, I actually enjoy it. Over the years, I have had to learn to pace myself… while a truly bustling Halloween season is great for my wallet, it can be murder on my hands and my stress level. So despite the flurry of activity, I am trying to be conscious to take time out to relax and take care of myself too.

Today is a movie day with my sweetie, and if I can talk him into it, maybe a drive to the country to enjoy the fall colors. I’d love to say that I’ll take the whole day off, but that’s unlikely. There are a few custom orders that I’d like to peck at, as well as some fun designs that I want to play with… More bat wings, more sugar skulls, and another variation on the headdress pictured here. Yeah, that’s a slow day at Casa de Beadmask this time of year 😉

Oh! And I’ve also created a new Artfire shop, just to check out what that venue is like. I don’t have a whole lot listed there yet, but I’ll probably add more stuff in the coming week. Cause y’know, I just don’t have enough on my plate already 😛