Friday, December 12, 2014

My Beading Magazine Debut

Hi, all!  The December issue of Digital Beading Australia is out and my project begins on page 124!  I hope you'll enjoy it!

This is my first experience with a beading magazine (I've been in two issues of the Copper Wire Jewelers magazine).  It was a fun and stressful experience at the same time.  I was nervous about submitting to a magazine and seeing peoples' reactions to my project, but all in all it is a good thing.

Here's the piece I submitted:  Lagoon. I hope you'll like it!

You can find the magazine (Issue 13, Dec. 2014) here: 

Until next time, ta~


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wubbers University Blog- about me!

Hi, all!  I was recently interviewed by Wubbers University and today, on their blog, they posted all about me!  I'm so honored and touched.  I'm so, so proud to work alongside Wubbers University and all the staff.  They're such an awesome, hard-working group of people, and I'm honored.

My sweet friend Lexi wrote such an awesome introduction to the interview!  I teared up just reading it.  I'm so blessed to know her!

So head on over to their blog and see!  I'm so tickled!!!!

Much love,  ~Val

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November in Retrospect

Hey, all!  Wow!  November is gone already?  Holy cow!  Where does the time go?

November was a good month!  I made a few new things, got a few new tools, had a great Thanksgiving with my family and had some birthdays!  My darling girl turned 17 and I turned -cough- we don't need to know.  :D

I had a lot of fun with metal this month!  I made a leaf for my Mother in Law's birthday!  It was fun to create using fold forming and repousse/chasing techniques.  I experimented with using oil to obtain a rich, brown patina.  Here it is:

I also created a new pendant and tutorial!  This tutorial is not yet available on the Wubbers University website, but you can find it in my own website's shop and my Etsy shop.  I had a lot of fun creating "string art" using wire.  My tutorial shows how to create the back plate and bail, as well as how to create the wire design.

I also got some new tools!  I love tools!!!  They make me happy!  My latest acquisition is a set of the brand new Wubbers Apprentice Pliers!  They're so awesome!  I really love the size and they're shiny and pretty.  The Apprentice Pliers are mid-sized between the Classic Wubbers and the Baby Wubbers pliers.  These fit perfectly in my hand and feel good to grip.  They appear to be powder coated and are very nice indeed.  They come with their own stand, too!  I'm so tickled every day to be affiliated with this wonderful company!  Here's a link!

Photo courtesy of Wubbers, Inc.

Birthdays were had, parties were thrown, gifts exchanged.  Thanksgiving was awesome and we got so stuffed!  Lots of laughs, lots of family, lots of love.  :)

Kitties!  Binxy is fitting in well with the rest of our cat herd.  Our dog still thinks she's a cat and they all pile up on my bed and cuddle and snooze.  It's a good life.  :)

Let's see... hmm... well, I've read a lot of books!  I love me some books!  :D  Lots of book boyfriends, lots of fun and adventure and alternate worlds.  Good times.

We also received word that my son won an academic scholarship from the college based on his grades, woohoo!  His next term will be paid for, which is a load off my mind.  I'm so proud of him!

So:  What's in store for December?  Why, I'm glad you asked!  I was recently invited by the editor of Digital Beading Australia magazine to be in their December issue!  I'm working on a project for the magazine and I really hope you'll like it!  I've never been in a bead magazine before so I'm both nervous and excited.  It's a huge honor!

Also, December 1st marks my 23rd wedding anniversary with my hubby!  Every day, I'm so proud to be his wife.  :)

Y'all have a great last day of November!  Until next time, adieu!  ~Val

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hardware Store Hijinks!

Hihi, all!  Today my mom and I went to the hardware store because, well, that's where all the cool chicks hang out, right?  :)  Well, not really-- I needed sanding sponges for my studio and a new key made for the house.  Seriously though, I do love my local hardware store.

My local Hall's Ace Hardware is like an old fashioned general store.  There are gifts and trinkets, a kitchenware section, a nice tool section, and a huge garden center.  They also sell vintage style sodas and candies, old fashioned toys, etc.  They even have a "ladies' night" in December with live music, door prizes and 20% off anything in the store.  You get the idea.  It's nice.

I've been visiting this store for a while now--years!  Imagine my surprise when I realized today that they sell Para-cord.  I think that's what it's called-- it's for making those survival bracelets?  Oh, geez!  They had so many colors and styles and patterns and sizes!  Like, a whole section of the store was filled with cords!  I took pictures!  Why am I so excited?

Well, I have a penchant for pendants.  I make more pendants than anything else.  Some of the Para-cords looked awesome for simple ropes!  Ropes to hang my pendants!  And holy crow, I got 9 different (2 feet long) styles and colors for a whopping $1.80.  You heard right!  At my local Hall's store the Para-cord is .09/foot.  They also sell by the spool, by the package, they sell mini cord which is thinner, micro cord which could be braided (Kumihimo, anyone?) and well... I just think it's neat.  Take a look!  I apologize in advance for the blurred photos.  I was taking pics with my phone and the people in there thought I was just as crazy as a loon.

Who gets that excited over rope?  Me!  < .10/foot, y'all!  :)  Stick cord end caps over the ends, attach a clasp, and BAM!  You're ready to wear your necklace.  OR, how about stitching a rope around the cord?  or just embellishing sections of the cord?  or beading cord end caps?  or wire wrapping end caps?  or macrame an adjustable closure?  Or... you get the idea.

So many colors.

So many patterns!

Cool, huh??  I didn't even get the wall behind me, which held the micro Para-cord and the ropes.  I chose quite a few that were kinda- sorta neutral looking, since I didn't want too much noise clashing with my bead work.  Still, you could match virtually any pendant with these.  People who live in my home town are very lucky.  I told the man in the store to be prepared for an influx of little, blue-haired ladies because I was going to tell all my students about these cords.  I know, I live under a rock... I'm sure you all knew about these cords long ago.  I'm sometimes slow on the uptake.  But!!!  Now I know, so all my pendants will have homes.

These are the ones I chose.  Some are thicker than others.  How fun!

See?  Some of my pendants are very happy.  I'm very happy.

So there you have it!  A quick and easy option for necklace cording, something I've never thought about using before today.  It's an option!  I don't sell my jewelry, so I don't mind using inexpensive cord to hold my baubles.  I don't think I'd mind even if I did sell my jewelry!  Heck, you could use the cord as display props, too!

I'm telling my ladies about this, for sure.  :)  Sorry-- I get all giddy when I find something neat, even if others found them oh... 4 years or so ago?  That's how long the store said they've carried the cords.  I never went past the wooden shelves until today.  :sigh:  Gotta explore your stores!

Check out your hardware stores!  Check out your home centers!  You may find a mini trove of goodies!  Have a great day!  ~Val

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two Quick Tips! Organizing My Studio

Hi, all!  Those who know me know that I'm --cough-- a smidge OCD enthusiastic about organizing my studio.  Right at the beginning of studio season, I usually clean and rearrange everything.  I just can't help it!  :) Plus, with 7 cats, the hair is a-flyin'!

As most of you know, I'm amassing quite a few Wubbers tools!  As a result, my old pliers rack wasn't cutting it, even though several pairs of my pliers are in my bead studio.  I needed a new rack.

I have a plentiful supply of moldings, dowels and scrap bits of wood in my studio from home repair projects.  I've used the scraps to make my own bead shelves and hammer rack, etc. so I never toss anything if I think I can use it.  I also tend to collect hardware, old hinges, screws, bolts, etc.

Today I spent a few hours trying to figure out where on my cramped bench I could fit a long rack with no luck.  My original goal was to hang a rack using screws on the edge of my soldering bench.  My pliers would have been in the way, so I was at a loss.

I had a shelf that I planned to use from an old CD cabinet (the cabinet is now a puppy palace for our dog).  The problem?  With the shelf straight upright, the pliers danced along the edge and fell off.  They just didn't want to sit on the edge!  Finally, I figured out that if I turned the shelf slightly so an angle was on the top edge, the pliers sat nicely and happily (my pliers do get happy).  Keep in mind that I was lucky to have the perfect width shelf.  It was about as wide as my longest pliers handles.  I think if my shelf was too short it wouldn't work out the way it did.  However, you could put feet on your shelf, attach a dowel to the bottom or something to raise the height.

 I had some "L" brackets so I screwed them to the back of a shelf and bingo!  Easy, portable pliers rack!  I can put it anywhere on my tabletop.  Here's a back view:

Here's a closer look- it couldn't be easier!  I lined the bracket with the top edge of the shelf and it created just the right angle.  You can experiment, but this worked for me!

Of course, then my table was getting scratched up, so I slipped some tubing over the ends.  The table is all scratched anyways, but no reason to make it worse.  You can tape the bracket ends with masking tape if you  want.

Another view. Ahh, pliers make me so happy!


OK, that's Tip #1.  On to Tip #2~

I really like these hooks (below).  They aren't really cup hooks.  I call them "L" hooks.  I found them in a box of miscellaneous bits and bobs from a Dollar store.  I'm sure they can be bought anywhere though.

I used two to make a hanger for my Flexshaft handpiece key.  Of course, later, the cats figured out they can make it swing to and fro... but still, I like it!  A place for everything and everything in its place.

Also, another advantage of the "L" shape is that cup hooks are curved quite a bit, and you can't always hang things on them.  For instance, look at this grid ruler thingie I use (below).  The hole for this is deep inside the plastic.  There's no way it would slide onto a cup hook unless it's a huge hook.  It fit easily on the "L" hook.  I also hang my bail templates on the hook.  I hang my saw frame, dust rags, particulate masks, etc. from them too.

Oh, before I go, I wanted to show you my new stumps!  I have another one off camera.  My mom's new house had lots of stumps sitting in the yard and I took a few.  So happy!

Today, Dante, my sweet orange/peach tabby, decided to help me in the studio.

So, nothing ground breaking of course, but I just wanted to show you that you can use things around the junk room to make cool new organizing tools.  Don't discount dollar stores!  They have tons of great little items for studio use.  I hope you enjoyed my tips!  Ciao!  ~Val

Friday, October 17, 2014

And the Winner is...

Hi, all!  Thanks so much for all your responses and advice!  I have lots of new ideas, and I especially like the list suggestions and the reward system.  I do that for my books-- I'm a bookaholic, and when I put in a good days' work, I like to reward myself with a good book.  I'll let you all know how it goes, and I appreciate the time you all took to help me with my focusing problem!

This is my first ever blog giveaway and wow, was it fun!  Granted, there was a lot of tedious and bothersome trouble with posting replies on the blog, for which I apologize.  I dunno what happened, but I hope that my next giveaway will go smoother.  Here's hoping!

OK, as I'm writing this post, 9 pm is sneaking up, so I'm going to wait til it's officially 9 and then visit to generate my random number.  Based on my posted replies, I count...14 individual responses to this giveaway.

And the winner is... ~drumroll~ ... RENETHA!  She was lucky number 2, which was chosen by the random number generator.

Congratulations, Renetha!  Please be sure to contact me through blogger or through my facebook page, and give me your address info (please do so privately in PM or email) and I will ship your beads!

Fear not!  I promised a prize for all participants, so these ladies (listed below) will be able to choose one free pattern from my Etsy shop.  Once you choose your pattern, please don't buy it!  Send me a convo via Etsy's messaging system and tell me your choice, plus please tell me where to email the pattern.

If you don't have an Etsy account, view my ArtFire studio and choose from there.  Same thing applies- message me with your email and your pattern choice.  I have a checklist to make sure I get you all.

Many thanks to you all!

1.  NEDBeads
2.  Renetha
3.  Catherine King
4.  Niky Sayers
5.  Minxdkrolo
6.  Deb Calderon
7.  Dianne Blondeandblue
8.  Lois Buhalis
9.  Bonnie Smith-Nichols
10. Nan Smith
11. Alicia Hartley
12. Becky Clay
13. Peggy Kemp
14. Deborah Apodaca

Thank you all for participating!  Have a wonderful weekend!  ~Val

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yummy Beads Giveaway!

Hi, all!  I have a very good friend who I chatter with almost daily, a former Bead Maven like myself, Twyla Harbick of Lady Abeada Designs .  Over the course of our friendship, we've discovered we are very much alike!  I swear we're separated at birth or something, hah!

In a talk the other day, we discovered that we both suffer from the same ailment from time to time:  Lack of Motivation.  Not lack of inspiration- we both have many designs floating around in our little heads!  We suffer the dreaded lack of get up and go.

Take me for instance:  I haven't worked my "day job" since June, yet I've published a scant few tutorials in this time frame.  I have several illustrated!!!  I just have to write the words!  It's kind of ridiculous, no?  There are times when I just feel like burying my head in a book instead of getting the work done.  We both sometimes find it hard to self-regulate since we both work from home.  Setting work hours and sticking to them are sooo hard!  I have so many unfinished beady projects, half started tutorials, sketched projects that just haven't been made yet, promised articles or blurbs, etc.  I have a basket full of already beaded goodies that just need to be written up!  I'm also really lacking in the "gaining blog followers" department.  You know where I'm not lacking?  Having great beady friends.

I'm taking the advice of my friend, Nancy Dale of NEDBeads and holding my first ever giveaway!  I'm lucky to have such nice friends who can share their advice with me.  This will cure two ailments:  I'll gain a few followers to my blog, and I'll hear some much needed advice on sticking to time frames, making good use of time, etc. Heck, if you want to share some marketing advice, I'm up for that, too!

So here's where my giveaway comes into play!  Bear with me; I have to show you something first.  I've had my eye on these wonderful, rustic, imperfect, slightly misshapen, large hole, nubbly, sand-cast, African trade, recycled glass beads for a while.  That's a lot of adjectives!  :)  I finally bought some this weekend at my local bead shop (Danish Princess Beads and Jewelry, LLC in Milton, FL).  She only has 3 strands left, ladies!  They came from a trunk show she hosted a while back.  Anywho, here they are:

Aren't they fab?!?  I'm a huge fan of the rustic look and imperfections don't bother me one bit!  So I had a thought:  Pair a precious few of these with other favorite rustic beads in my collection and host a giveaway!  How does this relieve our lack of motivation?  Well, here's how:

I'd like to hear how you deal with lack of motivation.  How do you create "office hours" when you work from home and how do you stick with them?  How do you motivate yourself to stay on task and to complete projects?  For this giveaway, I'd like for you to comment below and tell me your secrets.  Suggestions are welcomed!  I need to make better use of my precious time.  You may even help other readers!  So here's the deal (or rules):

1) I'd love it if you'd follow my blog.  I have an RSS feed link, or you can follow via email in the box to the upper right of the screen (I don't receive an email list- it's secure through a 3rd party).  You can also follow the old fashioned way- through Blogger's "follow" link up top that appears if you're logged into Blogger.  I post at least once per month when I can, and I sometimes have free tutorials to share.

2) Feel free to share this via social media like Facebook so your friends can enter.  It's not required, but it's appreciated if you do.

3) For everyone who comments on this blog post with your time management/motivation advice, I will enter your comment number (not including replies of course) into a random number generator.  That randomly generated number will win a small parcel of beads from me!  The comments should be here on my blog, not on facebook (though I'm happy to receive advice anywhere, they only count for this giveaway here on my blog.)

4) You have from now (9 pm, CST Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014) until 9 pm CST on Friday, October 17, 2014 to comment on this blog and have your number entered into the giveaway.  I will generate the random number (via after 9 pm CST on Friday the 17th and I will post the winner in a blog post here and in an announcement on my Facebook page, .

EDIT:  Some of my readers are having trouble replying to this post.  They've written long replies only to have them disappear.  I'm so sorry- it's got to be something with Blogger.  If this has happened to you, please post your reply on my facebook post announcing this giveaway (or on my page, either way) and I will insert a placeholder reply for you here.  I'm not sure what's going on, but this makes me sad.  Giveaways are supposed to be fun!  I want to be fair to everyone.

OK, now for the good stuff!  What will one lucky respondent win?

Ta~da!  Some of my zealously and jealously guarded hoard of beads.  You will receive everything in the above photo:  I'm including 6 each of the pale blue and darker blue African trade beads, 4 copper roundel beads (I use them as little buttons for clasps), 20 dark wooden roundel beads, various wooden beads (I love wooden beads), a few cabochons of unknown stones (I think one is serpentine and the other two are dyed), a really cool carved bead (I think Mookaite but I'm not sure), 2 beautiful, matched, black lip, oyster shell daggers, 1 gorgeous, stamped, handmade porcelain cabochon (the sandy looking one), 4 opal glass, picasso finished roundels, a small amount of genuine turquoise chips and a small amount of light green glass chips.

Be on the lookout for my winner announcement because I will need to contact the winner for postal information.

This is my first giveaway, so I hope I didn't leave out anything important in the rules.  If so, let me know and I'll correct things.

So, let the advice begin!  I appreciate your help!  ~Val