A Wrapper’s Delight

In my messiest (and of course, most creative) days the dining table, coffee table, and even sometimes a tarp on the floor are covered in crafty supplies.  If you’re picturing inks, decorative papers, punches, and rubber and clear stamps you’re right.  But there’s more.  Even before delighting in making handmade sentiments I have been a beader.  So in addition to said supplies, one might also find eye pins, head pins, various pliers, crystal beads, glass beads, precious metal findings, and more.  If I was to define myself as a crafter, I would probably first identity myself by my beading, then my cardmaking, and then my crocheting (although it’s been about a year since I’ve crocheted anything).  Ironically, though, my Etsy shop displays some of my jewelry, while thus far in the blog, I’ve only shared my cards.  In the spirit of sharing some of my latest work and to even things out a bit, I give you “A Wrapper’s Delight”.

One of the areas of beading and jewelry-making that brings me both greatest challenge and greatest joy is wire-wrapping.  It requires more dexterity, more forethought, and patience.  The end result, however, is worth the struggles of trying to form the wire around delicate beads and chains, for it looks so classy, so refined, and very non-amateur.  In my first days of making earrings and trying to form loops at the top of wires in order to connect the bead to the ear wire, I was incredibly daunted.  Try after try to bend the wire into a circular, even loop often resulted in brittle wire, oddly-shaped amoebas, or uneven earrings.  My poor roommate, too.  She’d had some experience with forming these metal curves and could offer tips and words of encouragement, but loop after loop I was in her room, “what d’you think?”  As they say, practice, practice, practice.  After adopting different styles and techniques to more easily accomplish the open loop, I finally reached a point where I could confidently enforce my will on the metal and end up with even, rounded loops.  And then, of course, I needed the next challenge — the wrapped loop.

To learn more about not merely bending wire, but wrapping it, too, I signed up for free community classes at Michaels, pored through wire-wrapping books, and sought wisdom from those more experienced than me.  Again, practice, practice, practice.  I’m at that happy point now, where I can more confidently wrap the wire around the beads, around the chains, etc. to produce these elegant pieces.  There are still thicker wires and more complex designs to be conquered, but I can now say that wrapping wire brings me far more delight and Zen than frustration and sore fingers.

Advertisements

Thank You to The Muses

Being unemployed can be incredibly discouraging — not only the main element of not having a job or income, but even the hopelessness of searching for jobs and not finding possibilities.  Or finding possibilities, and then facing the daunting and seemingly-unrewarding task of spending hours crafting a fitting resumé and cover letter, only to click submit and send both off into a black hole of nothingness.  The hours, days, weeks, and months upon end of not hearing any word or making any progress.  Rather than let myself be consumed by these circumstances, I made up my mind at the beginning of this journey that I would allow myself to honestly process these emotions, but I would not wallow in them.  I know and believe that there is a greater purpose to this season in my life — it even ran across my mind the other day, that like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”, I could be in my Italy right now – and totally miss it by looking in the wrong direction.  So, to gain the most from this time, I am determinedly making the most of each step of this journey, remaining hopeful, and pursuing those things that I love.

March has been a particularly inspiring month for me.  I finally started my blog, added more items to my Etsy shop, I have started walking AND jogging, and in the process of accomplishing all of these, I have done many of the things I love.  And I have done none of this alone.

Wikipedia defines “muse” as “the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.”  Even though I am not living in Greek and Roman mythology, these goddesses or spirits remain ever-present.

I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of my muses – inspiring women, doing what they love, and making the history of tomorrow.  They are scattered around the nation, taking brave steps in unfamiliar territories, and encouraging others by their example — often unknowingly.  Many of these women I have not met in person, and most are not even aware of how they have energized me, but each in doing what she loves, leaves an innovative footprint in this world — pursuing her passions and doing so in a way that only she was uniquely gifted to do.  So, in celebration of the last day of Women’s History Month 2010, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to some of the women of tomorrow’s history.

Katherine Scoleri & Joelle Reed, founders of Moxie Design Studios, authors of "The IT Girl's Guide to Blogging"

The first two women I would like to acknowledge provided me with the tools to make my “ifshedidwhatsheloves” blog possible.  Since last summer I have had it on my mind and heart to begin a blog.  I have always loved writing; it’s incredibly therapeutic, and a tangible way to chronicle the history of the heart.  Many who are close to me have encouraged me in my writing, and especially in this challenging time, I have had this voice in the back of my mind saying, “Start your blog.  Start your blog.”  But it was the hot pink book, the catchy title of “The IT Girl’s Guide to Blogging with Moxie“, and their uniquely-made-for-women style that got me started on my blogging path.  Katherine Scoleri and Joelle Reed are the two women of Moxie Design Studios.  The MoxieGirls have pursued their loves of Art, Web Design, blogging, and more.  The fruits of the labor have been spending time with family, sipping martinis, and working in their pajamas.

Joy, blogger of "Joy of Stamping", co-founder of Eclectic Paperie, co-designer/co-founder of Our Craft Lounge

Robyn, blogger of "My Pink Stamper", creator of online cardmaking video tutorials

As I have been delving deeper into the world of handmade cards, two women who have taken their art and skills to the worldwideweb have inspired me.  Joy from JoyofStamping and Robyn from My Pink Stamper.  Both women started off as sellers or demonstrators of rubber stamping products, and each then chose to take their interests to new levels.  Joy regularly shares her latest cardmaking creations through her blog, has co-founded her own cardmaking-supply business – Eclectic Paperie, and has started co-designing her own “Our Craft Lounge” line of stamps and products.  Robyn continues sharing the latest and greatest products and techniques through her blog and site, My Pink Stamper, by presenting online video demonstrations from her personal “Pink Loft” and answering questions or showcasing cardmaking supplies on her blog.

Karen, founder of kgarnerdesigns, creator of exquisite jewelry

For her exquisite jewelry designs and sharing her story as a “Quit Your Day Job” Etsian, I would like to acknowledge Karen of kgarnerdesigns.  Karen started off making jewelry for the creative release it provided, as well as for an intimate and less expensive way to dress up her bridesmaids.  When considering a way to stay at home with her son, she kept coming back to jewelry-making.  On a budget of $10 a week, Karen knew that if she wanted to keep her hobby, she needed to get something back for her time and investment.  The results — kgarnerdesigns — her Etsy shop.  In the vast world of Etsy shops, Karen distinguishes herself with her timeless designs, the classic metals she uses, and her wedding-day or everyday inspirations.

Heather, blogger of "Wanderlust"

In the world of health, fitness, and learning to love oneself, I would like to send a special shout to to Heather, otherwise known as MadTownMotzie, the author of “Wanderlust“, a blog about one individual’s journey to better health with the help of Weight Watchers, changing food choices, increased fitness, and frequent attitude checks.  Although Heather has been on her journey for life, and has been blogging since August 2009, I only stumbled across her blog last week.  In reading her older posts I have been particularly inspired by her ODB – Operation Disney Bod – in which Heather steps up the exercise, cuts back (but doesn’t cut out) holiday indulgences, and gives herself regular pep talks in order to reach a goal.  I especially appreciate the honest and oftentimes vulnerable way in which Heather invites readers along her journey.

Lisa See, author of "Shanghai Girls"

Most recently, I had the pleasure of joining a women’s book club through my church.  First of all, I want to thank this unique circle of women for hosting the book club because without them, I would not have read “Shanghai Girls” this month.  Moreover, I would not have come to be acquainted with Lisa See, its author.  Not only was I utterly entranced by See’s writing and brief windows into the histories of Shanghai, Angel Island, and Los Angeles in the 1930’s and onward, but I was also incredibly inspired by the manner in which Lisa See carries her love of what she does across all facets of her life.  I read that See has a special fondness for forgotten or untold stories.  By exploring her bio, I also learned that she helps resurrect these stories, not only through her writing, but also by participating in such projects as recording narratives for walking tours of Los Angeles, giving of her time as a guest curator of select Chinese-American museum collections, and serving as the Los Angeles City Commissioner on the “El Pueblo de Los Angeles” Monument Authority.

Linda, follower of dreams, stopped by nothing

Lastly, to a woman who worked as many jobs as she had to, who has made sacrifice after sacrifice, and who has consistently given generously of her heart — all in order to support and make a better life for herself and her family.  An inspiration for following her dreams and not letting things like age, convention, or the opinions of others stand in her way.  After spending 4 years in law school — while continuing in her full-time job, and more than 30 years as a primary school educator, she said “School’s Out Forever”, resigned from teaching, and has been working to following her interest in law.  Times have been tough, and opportunities are scarce, but she continues day in and day out to study for the Bar, bring in income, and keep herself busy with substitute teaching, and senior care-giving.  To the woman who has always been a great inspiration and source of knowledge in my life I say, “thank you” to my greatest Muse, my mother.

So, too all my Muses of March — in the words most famously sung by ABBA in “Thank You for the Music” and slightly tweaked by me……

So I say Thank you to The Muses, for loves pursuing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without them, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a craft or a story what are we?
So I say thank you to The Muses
For giving loves to me

I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with Muses and Internet
I wanna shout it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!

So I say Thank you to The Muses, for loves pursuing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing

(and for those who are just dying to listen to the full, original song by “The ABBA Tribute Band” you can click here to listen via Deezer)

Is this what fishing is like for men?

I’m a huge fan of local and low-cost activities.  Even more than that, I’m a huge fan of crafting.  So, when both come together in the form of a Michaels’ Make-It-Take-It event, I’m there!  Michaels hosts different events for those with interests in exploring particular crafts, as well as for children and families – they are great fun and low-cost (often less than $5, if not free).

Today’s line-up focused on beading.  Using a variety of pre-packaged beading materials from various vendors, a room full of women and children sat down to explore a new hobby, try new techniques, and walk out with a small handful of wearable souvenirs.

We were busy talking our way through the instruction sheets — swapping techniques for bending our wire, keeping the beads on the string, or just making sense of the next step.  Although unknown to one another, the shared experience of working toward the same goal, sharing tools, and enjoying a Saturday afternoon was enough to transform us from a group of strangers to women smiling, chatting, and crafting together.  When our projects required greater concentration something almost unheard of happened — a room full of chatty women became utterly silent.  I wondered to myself – is this what fishing is like for men?  The natural ease of being in the company of your gender, experiencing the bond of shared interest, finding a moment of peace in the world, and no matter the outcome — havin’ a good time.

At the end of our crafty afternoon, we walked out, women of different ages, backgrounds, and interests — with our matching jewelry.

Crafty Afternoon Souvenirs

Souvenirs from a Michaels-sponsored Crafty Afternoon

Pendant Necklace

Black Onyx Pendant Necklace made from Halcraft supplies

Pearls and Pumps Necklace

Pearls and Pumps Necklace from Plaid

Orient Express Bracelet

Orient Express Bracelet from Blue Moon Beads

Beach Ring

Hampton Island's Beach Ring

Embellished Thank You Card

Embellished Thank You Card from Crystazzi and Gartner