Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interview with Cynthia Machata of Artisan Whimsy

cover page of March/April 2014 issue of Artisan Whimsy emagazine
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of corresponding with Cynthia Machata, Lead Editor for Artisan Whimsy: A Creative Bead Chat, asking about my work with freeform peyote, self-publishing, teaching and more. 

Artisan Whimsy is the brainchild of Melinda Orr, with the goal of 'bringing the handmade beading/jewelry community together in a place where newbie or skilled artisans could share and learn'.  The free online magazine definitely lives up to it's vision.

The content of these online magazines is more fluid than the mainstream publications we all already know and love.  A single issue may combine artist interviews (such as the one featuring yours truly, starting on page 78 in case you're curious), sneak peaks into artists' studios, lots of gorgeous eye candy for inspiration, and a variety of short tips and tutorials, including tips and techniques for beading, wirework, manipulating photos, improving one's blog and running a craft-based business.  They can even include embedded video tutorials. 

Interested in writing an article?  Consider submitting your idea!
 A little peak inside (I think the layout and design is lovely): 

In parting, I'll also add a shout out to Creative Spark, another free glossi edited by Hope Smitherman and produced by ZnetShows.  Especially if you have a love for crystals or sea glass. 

Do you have a favorite online beading magazine?  I'd love to hear. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Join me for beading fun at Fusion Beads

Teaching workshops is one of my absolute favorite things.  I love the creative synergy that in-person workshops engender, where everyone in the class becomes an additional source of inspiration.  It's nice getting out of the studio and sharing what I love with other beady folks.  And I have two of my favorite workshops coming up in the next few weeks. 

Interested in creating your own Fancy Fish Friend?

Fancy Fish workshop at Fusion Beads in Seattle, Saturday, March 29th
Fancy Fish workshop at Fusion Beads in Seattle, Saturday, March 29th
These little guys are the top selling pattern in my Etsy shop, and I'll be teaching them at Fusion Beads on Saturday, March 29th.  Need to come up with

Or how about some freeform fun while creating your own Personal Planet?

Personal Planets freeform peyote beaded beads, Saturday April 12th
Personal Planets freeform peyote beaded beads, Saturday April 12th

These freeform beaded beads are a great introduction to freeform peyote, and a thoroughly fun way to play with color.  Best yet, they are quick!  Especially compared to most other freeform peyote.  Join me on Saturday, April 12th, again at Fusion Beads.

Download Fusion Bead's full spring schedule by clicking this link.  Call or stop by to signup, 206-782-4595 from 10am-7pm PST.

Three Fancy Fish by Gabby Guset, Vala Richmond and Jade Chan
Fancy Fish by Gabby Guset, Vala Richmond and Jade Chan from my last workshop

Friday, March 14, 2014

Would you like to see your work in print?

Would you like to see one of your freeform peyote beading pieces in a book?  I'm still accepting submissions for inclusion in my upcoming book, Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

What I'm looking for are original designs, high-quality photos and a wide range of styles.  The predominant beading style of all work submitted for consideration must be freeform peyote, though pieces may include other beading styles, stitches and media.  Works may be jewelry, accessories or small sculptural pieces.  This is open to all artists both within the United States and abroad.

The deadline is March 31st, which is fast approaching. 

I'm looking for both finished pieces and for artists willing to show a peak into their process.  Here's the skinny:

Finished Works
I need finished pieces to help showcase the breadth and depth of the medium and to help illustrate specific design and construction techniques.  I'm looking for both Rock Star stand-out pieces and good solid samples of freeform peyote design. 

If I use your work, the caption will include the your name (and your photographer’s name, if different) and the title of your piece.  I will also include your name and the title of your piece in an index of photographs, with a link/URL to your website, blog or estore (limit one URL).  In addition, each artist will receive a digital copy of the completed book.

Share Your Process & Become a Featured Artist
My goal here is to show how other artists tackle the construction and design process.  Besides photographs of the finished piece, I'm also looking for several process photos illustrating the key points in helping someone else understand what you are doing.  A photograph of your source of inspiration or any design sketches is also welcome.  Include some written commentary explaining your process and process photos (2-3 paragraphs). 

If you are chosen as one of my featured artists, you will receive a print copy of the finished book and a $50 token of appreciation for your contribution. 

Interested in Submitting a Piece?  
Read through the general guidelines below

Please use my Submission Form!   I am not trying to be contrary here, but it helps insure that I receive all of the information I need and keeps all of the information in one place so I don't accidentally lose track of what you have submitted. 

Due to upload limitations, the maximum file size for each image is 3MB, with a maximum of three images per entry.  You may submit up to two Call for Entry applications if you would like to submit more than three images. Please let me know if you have larger or other versions of your photographs available. 

General Guidelines
Copyright:  Only submit work for which you are wholely responsible for both the design and construction.  If your work was inspired by the work of another artist, please include the name of the artist and their work, explaining how it acted as your inspiration.

Works submitted for consideration should be relatively new, produced within the past three years, preferably that has not been published in any other print format, to avoid potential licensing infringements.  If your work has been reproduced in another book or magazine, you must let me know where as there may be copyright/licensing issues involved.  If your work has appeared on a blog or other digital format, please let me know this as well (including URLs where available) and whether it was that particular photograph that was used for the site.

Licensing: If your work is accepted into this project, you agree not to publish your work in any other format (including your personal blog and social media pages) until the publication date of the book, or December 31, 2014 if the book has not yet been released.  You retain all rights to your photograph and to the original work.  You grant Karen Williams and Skunk Hill Studio the right to reproduce photographs of your work in print and digital formats, including publicity materials (websites, press releases, blog posts, postcards, etc) related to the book.

Image Format & Sizes:  Images may be submitted as .JPG or .PNG.  Minimum file size (1500x2000pixels), Maximum file size 3MB (3072KB).  If your image is selected for inclusion, I may contact you to see if it is available in a larger format.

Photography Tips:
Backgrounds: Keep the background simple and appropriate for the piece.  Neutral backgrounds - white or black - work really well so long as they read as white or black in the photograph (whites that look yellow are hard to correct without losing color details in the piece, for instance).  More detailed backgrounds can also work, so long as they help tell the story of the piece without overwhelming it.  A fantastic guide to taking great photos is The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum (I wrote a more detailed review here).

Color:  Make sure the photo is as close to true color as possible!  If you are submitting multiple shots of the same piece, make sure that the colors remain consistent between photos. 

Focus:  I can't stress this one enough!  The focal point of your photograph must be crystal clear.  I want people to be able to see individual beads.  If you're photographing a larger work, such as a necklace, the entire piece may not be in focus due to depth of field issues.  This is okay so long as the most important part of your piece is in crystal focus. 

Process photos - it's extremely important that these be on a solid, neutral background (white, grey, cream or black).   I take process photos on my bead mat which has a very fine texture - that's fine so long as it comes across as subtle texture and not wear.  It's okay to have stray beads mat, so long as they don't interfere with the viewers ability to see the photo's focus.   Watch out for stray pet fur, lint and other stray bits though.  

In taking process photos, try to come up with the key points in helping someone else understand what you are doing. 

Any questions?  Let me know!  I look forward to hearing from you.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reigniting the Spark

In some ways, the worst part about being ill is trying to figure out how to catch up again once you're finally feeling a bit better.  At least, this is the way it is for me.  Last week I was down for the count with the stomach flu, and when I finally started feeling well enough to get back to work, things had piled up so high I felt like I was staring at a mountain of jumbled objects all piled and tangled together with a big sign on top proclaiming "Urgent". 

Getting started again, I realised I was faced with two parallel challenges.  The overwhelming size of the assorted pile of to-dos frankly made me want to hide lest it all collapse on top of me.  While a residual creative lethargy left me feeling like I didn't have much of interest to offer.  Between the two, procrastination sounded better and better, except of course it only makes the pile grow larger, which I know makes it harder to get traction once I do finally get started, which makes me want to hide even more.  One of those vicious cycles that I know all too well.

I thought I'd share my strategies for circumventing this cycle:

Start by Making Lists.  I love lists, so throughout the day on Saturday I wrote down everything that I could think of that needed to be done, organizing as I went, piling like tasks next to like.  And figuring out which tasks needed to be completed first, looking for potential bottlenecks.  This is where I get to play project manager. 

Next was figuring out what I felt I could DO first.  I found myself likening my To-Do list to a giant pile of Pick-up Sticks.  Using that analogy, I looked for the easy sticks and the high value sticks, and when I found one that matches both, I tagged it for the next day's schedule.

Beading sounded impossible on Monday, but I could go through my email and update my backer spreadsheet with all the returned surveys.  Nothing exciting, but something that needed to be done, and something I felt capable of doing.  That led me to Tuesday's work, where I decided to seriously revise one of my freeform bracelet tutorials, creating half a dozen new diagrams and expanding the tutorial by two pages.  Working on that smaller project made it easier to get back into working on my larger book project on Wednesday and suddenly I was ready to start stitching again as well. 

Straighten some part of your surroundings.  When I'm sick, I'm afraid I'm a bit of a slob.  When I'm well, the mess makes it harder to focus on what I want to do.  But at the same time, I feel so behind that I don't want to take time out for a full cleaning.  So instead, I use 'down' times when I'm not feeling up to anything else to pick up and straighten my most important work areas.  Simply the act of being in my work space, even if it's only for cleaning, makes me feel more ready to work.

Do things that support your success.  These can even be really silly little things.  Such as gold stars.

no one will accidentally mistake my laptop for theirs!
When I'm feeling particularly uninspired, I break out my stash of star stickers.  When I complete an item on my list, I give myself a gold star (okay, they are red, green, purple and blue as well as gold, but that makes them more fun).  The back of my laptop is liberally sprinkled with these guys from meeting various writing goals.  I might even give myself a star for writing this post.  The key is to celebrate in some small way my victory.  And when I see the little stars, they make me smile and remind me that I CAN.  I can write, I can stitch, I can draw, I can come up with new designs;  all of these things are possible if I simply start. 

A silly, small celebration for a little victory, but that's what life is truly made of - lot's of little decisions, little actions that taken together become one's life.

I'm also a great fan of audiobooks when I'm stitching.  Most recently, I've been listening to Lois Bujold's "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance".  It's a light-hearted, thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi romp, one of the latest in her long-running Vorkosigan series.  I was able to check the digital download out from my local library.  The story is so fun that it makes me want to stitch just a little bit longer so I can 'hear what happens next', because I'm only listening to the story while I stitch. If you're curious about the series, I recommend you start with Warrior's Apprentice

So that's my strategy for catching up and circumventing the start of an artistic dry cycle.  What are some of your most successful strategies for keeping on track? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading is a Go - Thanks to these Incredible People

Last Thursday I had the privilege of witnessing the wonder that can happen when a community rallies behind a cause.  With less than twenty four hours to go, the messages fairly flew across Facebook, spilling over into Twitter and Google+, with everyone urging their friends to support my book and Kickstarter project before it was too late.

I felt like I was at command central for some major launch facility, trying frantically to keep up with the traffic and respond to emails and queries real-time.  Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing, wonderful craziness that was Thursday.

By the time the dust settled and the campaign closed Friday morning, the number of backers had nearly doubled and the Kickstarter had SUCCESSFULLY FUNDED! (According to Kickstarter's stats, only 43.5% of campaigns are successful -  we are among that happy minority!)  We are now full steam ahead for production of Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading.

Thank you to everyone who joined in the first days of my campaign.  There wouldn't have been a campaign without your strong, steady support.

Thank you to everyone who helped to spread the word.  Many of you were absolute rock stars with this!  Thursday, I learned the true power of such advocacy. 

And thank you everyone who threw in your weight on the last day to make this happen.

Here's the roll call of the amazing community behind this project:

Backers for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

Bobbie Rafferty, Tina Clark, Sally Russick, Judy Pennington, Michael Randall, Sophia Owens, Judy Jacobs, Judith Deshaies, Patricia Flowers, Aleta Ford Baker, Jeffrey Chou, Fiona Cockwill, Sheron Buchele Rowland, Tilinka, Tanya Goodwin, Saturday Sequins, Leah Kaufman & Nathan Clarenburg, Liz White, Julie Schmidt Bowen, Lori Finney, Kim Dworak, Francie Broadie, Jennifer Porter, Tamera Mickelson, Vala Richmond, Chris Simmons, Stacy Lynne Hotes, Lynn Apple Get, Margo Lynn Hablutzel, Liz Hart, Tammy Bowman, Bonita Kroon, Angela Fazio, Margaret St. John, Karin Slaton, Lois Buhalis, Alisa Siceloff, Mandi Ainsworth, Anahita Esnaashari-Esfahan, Nada Djordjevic, Robin Coventry, Connie S Gordon, Amanda Wacasey, Caroline G Heck, Marlene Emmons, Cynthia Hambrick, Melody Anne Martin, Patricia Richey, Glen Lawrence, Tres Henry, Carla J Mazzone, Crystal Ludlow, Veralynne Malone, Roxanne Moore, John C Hay, Carrie Johnson, Alan Nichols, Kathleen Standard, Leanne Kirsch, Dixie Polakoff, Ruth Duck, Jan Tharaldson, Mowse Doyle, Jean Hutter, Shirley Moore, Yvette Benjamin, Julie Vasquez, Elizabeth Gillespie, Diana Hofmann, Natalja Malysheva, Cortney Phillips, Bev Choy, Lisa Jones, Nancy Dale, Susan Kirby, Panther Berg, KJ L, Anne Marie Desaulniers, Michele Soncrant, Cynthia Machata, Aglarele, and Alainn Jewelry.

I copied this list directly from everyone's Kickstarter profiles.  I'll be checking with each of you before I add your names to my website and to the book to make sure it appears as you'd like.

About half of the backers listed their hometown in their Kickstarter profile, so I plugged those into a map, courtesy of Zeemaps.com.  If you didn't include a hometown in your profile, I didn't add a pin, even when I personally knew the address.  But I do know there are international backers from at least two additional countries. 

about half my backers shared 'hometown' info in the Kickstarter profiles
Closeup of some of my US backers including two from Hawaii!
What an incredible tool the Internet can be for connecting communities of like-minded people from around the world!  If you're a backer and don't see a pin for your hometown - let me know and I'll be happy to add it.

And thank you all, my blog readers, for bearing with me over the past month.  Expect at least one more Kickstarter post - this one about lessons learned. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Color of Red Challenge

This month, over on the Freeform Peyote Beading Facebook Group, we issued a challenge to use red in a piece. Anything from a wash of red to a single drop - the choice was left to each member, with encouragement to tell us about any special meanings the color has for you in your piece.
Today's the day for the reveal. You can see the results in The Color Red Facebook album, and in this blog hop.

The Danger Zone, with lampworked bead by JJ Jacobs
Here's a peak at my piece entitled, "The Danger Zone" because the bold colors mixed with black reminded me of caution and warning signs contrasting against rain darkened ashpalt.
Not the best photography - remind not to plan a challenge reveal the day following the end of a Kickstarter campaign the future! I'd forgotten that I had meant to take better pictures until I sat down to write this post.

I encourage you to a moment visit the other participants of this Blog Hop and to enjoy the works in the Facebook album. You won't be disappointed!

On Monday, I promise a post about my Kickstarter - thank you all again for making it such a rousing success! But for today the focus is on the works by this fabulous group of artists.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Would you like a PDF version of my original book, Freeform Peyote Beading?

 Today's the last full day for my Kickstarter project and it's time to pull out all the stops.

If we reach full funding by midnight tonight, I will add a digital (PDF) copy of my first book, Freeform Peyote Beading, to ALL pledges of $40 or more.  This is the first time that I have ever offered Freeform Peyote Beading in a digital format, and you will not see this again anytime soon. 

This is in addition to the specific rewards for your backing level and is my way of saying thank you for making my first Kickstarter a success.

But we're not there yet!  With 23 hours to go, we're currently sitting at 84% funding.  I need your support to make this happen.

Share the link on your Facebook wall and Become a backer today!