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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.

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New Digs

We’ve finally moved over to the new place, and I like it a lot. We’re still settling in — despite the fact that it’s been over a month now — and I suspect that I’ll be unpacking boxes for months to come. Even so, it feels like a tremendous improvement.

The new place is far more rural; our neighbors have horses, and we frequently see deer in our yard. Everyone tells me that the deer will lose their charm quickly, but for now, I’m still quite enamored with them. I have a bigger studio than I’ve ever had in my life, and it has a perfect view onto my HUGE garden. Well, future garden … there’s a lot of work to be done, but we are thrilled to tackle it. The only thing missing from this near perfect picture is a dog, and we hope to remedy that soon. I am amazingly content, and I wake up feeling grateful every day.

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SkinzNhydez Studio Campaign

Steampunk Gear © SkinzNhydes Wearable Art

Ian of SkinzNhydes Wearable Art is running an Indigogo campaign to try and generate enough funds to secure a studio space. He creates amazing steampunk leather gear, and he’s currently doing this out of his small apartment living room. That has got to be tough!

For a frame of reference, I have a small 10×10 studio, plus we’ve turned our dining room (and much of the living room) into bead storage. Even with “all the space” (haha) that my fabulous and indulgent family has granted me, I still lament the fact that I NEED MORE SPACE! In my case, a workshop the size of a two car garage — or larger — would be ideal. That may sound crazy, but keep in mind that I am not a hobbyist. This is a full time business and my sole source of income. In order to keep it running smoothly, I need space to store my 25+ year collection of inventory and supplies. I also need viable workspace, a small area for photography and a packing/shipping area. If I had more room, I’d also invest in tools and machinery that I simply can’t store in the space that I have. There’s also the fact that art is messy; if I had more space — and specifically, a space where it’s okay to make a mess — I’d explore airbrushing and a few other ideas that I just can’t try in my living room or studio.

Steampunk Spider Bracer © SkinzNhydes

And I didn’t mean to make this about me … I’m just trying to paint a picture here of what it looks like for an independent artist, so that you get an idea of why a dedicated space is such a big deal. It is really challenging to run a business or to enhance your skills when you don’t have the room to do so. Luckily for me, I do have some space, and will hopefully gain a bit more when we move in a few months. I can’t imagine trying to do this type of work in a small space that doubles as a living room. This fellow has talent, and it would be so cool to see him get a chance to really run with it. His campaign runs through mid June, and he’s offering some great perks and incentives to contributors. Please go check out the campaign, and consider donating a buck or two (or more if you’ve got it ;). Or, buy something from his Etsy shop — you’ll get an original work, and you’ll be helping an independent artist to grow his business and expand his skills.

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Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine

A pile of leather masks & wings in progress…

School has been taking a lot of my focus and energy of late, so my creative time has been very limited. It’s somewhat uncomfortable, since being creative is really how I process the things that are going on in my life. I tend to think a lot (sometimes to the point of over thinking) so making is a very soothing process for me; my hands get moving and my mind begins to still. It helps me to relax, to sift out my ideas and to find solutions.

Without this outlet, I get a little high strung. That feeling has been hitting critical mass lately, and I’ve been out of sorts. Irritable, restless and generally feeling unproductive and uninspired. I was really starting to get stressed out about this, when I took a second look at my studio.

I began to realize that I haven’t stopped being creative, I just haven’t been able to complete as much with the limited studio time. I’m able to peck away at a variety of projects here and there, I’m just not finishing as many of them. As you can see by the photos here, I have quite a lot of  pieces “in progress” that are piling up. The masks above and the hair toys below represent just a fraction of the projects in my studio right now.

Assorted hair toys awaiting completion

A quick count tells me that my unfinished projects include at least 12 odd masks, 7 pair of wings, 6 or 7 crowns and headdresses, and more hair toys than I can count. That’s not even counting beadwork or leather jewelry (let’s not even go there). It’s typical for me to have several projects going on at once, since I tend to group things in “stages”. For example, I’ll cut out several patterns at once, then shape, then paint, then embellish them in “groups”. Groups of this size are unusual, though. I’m thinking this may be where some of my restlessness and dissatisfaction is coming from.

It’s ironic how often the state of my studio parallels the state of my head and heart 😉 I think that the clutter in my creative space is cluttering up my head! So I’m making a commitment to whittle this pile down by at least half within the next month. It’ll clear up some work space, and hopefully open up room for some fresh attitudes and ideas as well.

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Madness takes its toll…

It’s exactly one week till Halloween (home stretch!) and I’m definitely feeling the effect of the last 2.5 months of non-stop mask making. As this photo suggests, my studio is feeling it too! I typically work within a certain degree of controlled chaos, but at this point in time, any semblance of “control” is long gone … my workspace is just flat out chaos. I had to clear a path just to get this shot.

That said, I’ve decided to slow down a bit. We’d considered setting up at the Fremont Sunday Market today, but it was pouring rain this morning and R is just getting over that flu bug. So instead of doing the show, I’ll get my studio in order and put finishing touches on a few custom orders.

If I have time and energy, I may mess around with those dark faerie wings that have been sitting on my worktable for the last few months … or possibly the sugar skulls that I started, but haven’t had time to complete. There’s also a raven queen mask that’s just begging for final details.

Yeah, this is my idea of  “taking it easy”. Fortunately, I love what I do so the majority of today’s to do list is relaxing and enjoyable … well, except for the cleaning up part 😛

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Studio overhaul, take 52

This weekend’s big project has been to give my studio a much needed overhaul — again. It’s a familiar dance, we do it every 6 months or so. The beads start threatening to take over the house, and we high-tail it to the hardware store in search of new ways to corral them.

Our condo has great space for a family of 3 — but we need space for a family, an art studio AND a bead business. Moving is not an option for at least a few more years, so we’ve learned to be creative & maximize our space as best we can. Thankfully, my family is very indulgent 😉

This makeover will provide a third work table — devoted exclusively to packing & photography — and lots more shelving (“More shelving!” is like, my battle cry). I’m so excited by the prospect of being able to see my desk again! Maybe I’ll even post some pics when we’re done.