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Showing posts from 2016

Musings on Coffee and Pinterest

So I've noticed that I haven't blogged in about two weeks, which is a personal misstep for me. I've been intending to do so once a week, preferably on Sundays. The time change is killing me. And so is barista work. :-/

I was doing so well at waking up on time every day too...

So, for those of you who frequent coffee shops, corporate or local, be kind to your baristas. We're working as hard as we can, and we know the volume is ramped up because it's fall now, and we know the wait times can be long. It's difficult for you and us both. But I still had a good day! I was slinging drinks like a maniac and smiling despite the long lines and frustrated stares. This time last year I was crying inside.

A year and a half at Starbucks and now I think I'm ready for this:


I haven't opened it yet, but am excited to do so!!

Enough about my job. Let's talk about Pinterest. It got me back into beading. Seriously. Not kidding here.

I had signed up for an account back …

A Piece for Me and a Rust Warning

Good afternoon! Today I wanted to share a short post about making pieces for yourself. Just do it. All the time.

For years, I was caught up in making humongous 'pieces of art' that nobody in their right mind would wear on a daily basis. I do occasionally wear such things to gallery openings on campus or to other fancy one night events. I was also caught up in trying to make things that would sell at craft shows. Both of these endeavors eventually resulted in Tamara burn out, meaning I just quit making altogether. Those were an unhappy two years for me.

The moral of the story here is to listen to your mother. Mine also happens to be an artist. (Emily Allison Studios) K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Those words still echo in my head every time I'm about to get ahead of myself. And I pretty much always listen to them now. The times that I don't inevitably end up as sad little U.F.O.s (unfinished objects).

One day last summer, my mother sent me a text of my niece Emmy, sh…

I Win at Chinese Checkers!!

A quick blog post as I wind down form work tonight/this morning. Chinese Checkers is one of those games that is very nostalgic for me. It always reminds me of summers at my grandmother's house. She had an elaborate wooden board and a tin full of colorful marbles. Fond memories. :-)

It turns out that a love of this game is something that JD and I share. And last year he asked me to buy him a game for his birthday. So I did, but just the board. I had to do a lot of searching in the thrift stores here before I found a board made out of tin. Sadly, the drawers don't open very easily due to a few dents. I don't have legitimate marbles anyways. I decided to make my own!!

Typically, I was very very late getting JD his present. He got to stare at the board for a couple months while I stitched together 60 little beaded beads from old Twist A Bead necklaces. I've always called them fossil beads because my mother did. As always, I underestimated the amount of time it would take f…

To Have an Art Studio? The Ultimate Crafter's Question

Often times I get to wondering about what my favorite artists' crafting spaces look like. I read things like 'kitchen table' or 'corner of my bedroom' but I never really get to see what they actually look like. The internet doesn't provide much help in this regard either. I mostly just get Pinterest results of staged organization ideas. Nobody is that clean. Not even me. Trust me, even with a nice space inspiration sometimes never comes. And keeping it nice is even more of a chore. So, I've decided to share a bit of my own past and present with the whole picture perfect studio vs. home studio debate.

I had an art studio once. It was both good and bad. It was good because it was the perfect place for me to emerge from my two year long creative slump. And it was located next door to my job at the time. And it got me away from the house. And it was filled with sunlight. See:


I first came across this space when the World's Littlest Skysecrapr and attached b…

Recent Bead Looming Examples

Okay guys, I know what you're thinking. You've just been reading this post and this post. And now you're asking "Can bead loomed pieces finished in such a way really stand up to daily wear and tear?" The answer is yes, yes they can.
My first example will start you off with what you're already used to seeing: ribbon crimps. I have a love/hate relationship with ribbon crimps. Pros: they give the work a nice, clean looking edge and allow for a variety of interesting clasps. They are simple to use and easy to source. Cons: I'm always suspicious they're hiding something such as selvage edges or glue or something else. They ALWAYS end up crushing a few of my beads and I hate it. I know that if I ever took the ribbon crimp away, I'd be left with a sad mess of broken beads and exposed threads. :-( But I'm showing you what you're used to seeing, even though I have nothing to hide under there. (except the broken beads of course). I do wear this bra…

At Long Last! Bead Looming Warp Finishing Made Easy!

Hello all!!! I am super excited to announce that I have finally finished my newest diagrams to show you how to easily finish off those pesky loom warps. Illustrator is always a challenge for me, but I did it! *whew*

Since about March, I have been on a bead looming kick. Meaning I made about three full pieces between my other projects this year. It's been nice to return to my beading roots after so many years. 13 year old me would be very proud.

Here is my original post on the topic of looming in warp threads:

Revisiting My Old Loom and A Warp Finishing Tip

And now, to bust that myth that beaders around the world agree on: Looming is too hard because warp threads are such a pain. Not true! Observe:






That's all folks! It's just that simple. Traditional methods have you weaving in each thread through a multitude of beads (and sometimes even breaking them with too many thread passes). Some have you weaving a selvage edge and covering it up in some manner. Others have you using t…

Makeover Part Three

Alright, last one for now. This last piece, again in the pinkish color scheme, was made in 2011 along with my other senior show pieces for my BFA exhibition. However, I don't think I included it with the other two versions of the same bracelet. Well, because the bugles along the edge didn't lay right. I shouldn't have deviated from an already good design. Look:


Fortunately, I realized my mistake. (The other one was using Fireline in combination with bugles, and I still haven't remedied that bit yet. I'm holding out to see if it will stay intact for now.)




This bracelet is called Red Ajoure. Fitting I think. And I'm loving my ModaHaus solid colored backgrounds. <3 I just wish I had a bigger one so I could properly capture the gradients. What do you think?

Today's listening pleasure: Train. I will admit to being a fan girl as way back as the 90's, not a few years ago when they became popular again. I have been to two concerts though! Those were fun. :-)

Speaking of Makeovers....

I have a second necklace that has undergone some reconstruction. However, I don't have an image of what the original looked like. Considering I made the thing six years ago, I find that hard to believe. I did manage to find this photo of the matching earrings though:


As you might be able to tell, they're made from Cellini spiral, a stitch I was fond of for a few short years. That is, until this necklace and earrings both busted apart. I can tell you exactly what the problem was too.

1. I was using Fireline, which in hindsight is super stupid because it ends up being so brittle after a few years.

2. It was mostly the size difference between the triangle beads I was using and the 4mm twist a beads (or fossil beads, whatever they're called) was too huge and put too much stress on the thread. That goes to show that bead choice does matter. Or you'll end up paying for it.

And now, the touched up version of my Cellini spiral necklace, only without the spiral bits:



I like it …

Makeover Time!

I'm pretty sure every beader in existence has made the mistake of using either the wrong thread or the wrong beads in a project. Either way, you end up with snapped or fraying threads when you really should have evaluated your choices better.

If you're like me (and I know you are), one or more of these broken projects end up hidden at the bottom of your supplies somewhere. Sometimes they stay there for years before you either rip it apart entirely to salvage the beads or just toss it out. Most of you delude yourselves into thinking you will one day fix the piece(s). I also find it difficult to return to those old ideas and refashion them into something more fitting with my current style. It's hard, especially if you've moved on. But sometimes, giving an old piece a new look is worth the effort.

Here is an example that I've recently re-completed.

This necklace is a decade old, guys. A whole ten years it's been in my life. That's roughly 2/3 of my entire bead…

Remember When?

Remember when I said that I'd given up on a certain tutorial and that I'd never revisit it again? Well, JD had other ideas. Right after I wrote this post, he went and started working on the thing again. Independently. I suppose we really do think alike sometimes. Look at this beauty!!!!


You can purchase the full thing on my Craftsy shop or on my Etsy shop. Enjoy! I transferred the pdf to both my phone and my Windows Surface tablet. It is absolutely gorgeous on both! And 100% made of vectored images, so zooming in poses no problem. However, my Kindle Fire is too outdated for pretty much anything these days. :-(
I can't even describe what a relief it is to have finally finished the thing. I'm so excited to see it in print as well! I was attempting to teach a few classes this fall on campus, but if that doesn't work out, I'm definitely taking this downtown to the art museum for a second shot at getting a workshop. Wish me luck!
Oh, and I (not quite discreetly) dro…

Wish I Had a Green Thumb.

I do wish I were good at growing things. I once had an African violet. It died. To be fair, I didn't know that those flowers are really, really hard to keep alive. It's a good thing I'm not ready to ever attempt to care for orchids. Nope.

But a geranium should have been easy, right? Also, nope. I bought one in May from the Walmart 'nursery.' Nursed it back to life maybe. I watered it and gave it new potting soil and spread coffee grounds over it and even bought plant food for it. Look how well it was thriving a few weeks later!


My poor geranium fell victim to accidental over spray of Weed N' Feed one night when I was fertilizing my lawn. *sigh* There was no preventing the wilting and shriveling to follow. Now it's just a sad lump of former plant on my front porch:

Never fear, dear listeners! I will try again once I can afford a new plant! That's how success works, right? Learn from your failures (keep the weed killer away from the flowers) and try again…

How I Motivate Myself

Are you lazy? Congrats! Me too!

Thankfully, there is a cure. It's called HARD WORK. You know, that thing none of us (including me) wants to do. Except I do. I really, really want to succeed at this thing called art. Self motivation when you're not actively seeing results is hard.

So I decided to give myself a second job. My actual money earning job is being a barista, which is, stereo-typically, my dream real world job. My pipe dream job is to make roughly $5,000/year at my work. Low expectations, I know, but I've lived below the poverty line my whole life, so this doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've forced myself into a new schedule. This includes housework as well because this new rent house I live in is massive compared to my old efficiency apartment. It stresses me out so bad. I would love to homestead like my parents did, including actually building the house on a piece of country land somewhere.

Anyway, cleaning DOES NOT co…

FREE: Midnight Tutorials

Have you ever had that ONE project that just refuses to turn into a nice, professional, and clean tutorial? Well, this is mine:


This version was a self created attempt to make a tutorial for sale. Um...I was a crazy kid in 2013. Pieces of it are hand drawn and scanned into Photoshop to create a comic book layout. This was the first of that type of tutorial. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. So, I've decided to offer it for free on My Craftsy Page. Download it and judge for yourself!


This version was JD's attempt to help me clean up the look of my pages. His illustration work was great, even then. This was back before his graphic design job downtown. However, the problem with collaboration between us is that he has no idea what the heck is going on with beadwork. So he always gets lost with text and can't proof read for me. :-( (I'm pretty sure there is a typo in here, but can't remember which step it appears in. Sorry. Let me know if you have issue…

It's a Pastel World After All

Greetings from my local coffee shop! Meaning work because I finally earned a reward, but still..... I've become one of THOSE people..... who blog from coffee shops. :-/ At least I'm not sleeping in and wasting my morning. I'm waiting to meet with a friend for a friendly game of DDR exercising.


In the meantime, I'd like to show you a couple of the pieces I've been working on lately!




Isn't this a nice peyote link flower necklace? Want to make your own? I found Alana Reiswich's design here in tutorial form. It was nice to work from someone else's pattern for once.




I only wish mine had turned out half as nice as hers. I always end up using different beads than the tutorials I follow and am inevitably disappointed. But you know what they say? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Means I must be crazy. :-p




This one I am super proud of! I've been experimenting with simple loom work recently and …