Why do beads excite me so?

For tonight’s blog, I decided to post the very first assignment I received during last term’s Intro to Creative Writing class. The prompt was to write a poem that addressed a burning why question and after quite a bit of thought, this is what I came up with. Poetry is not my strong point, but I did my best and received a decent grade for my efforts. Enjoy!

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3 cut beads

Why do beads excite me so?

The sight of beads excites me
Because their myriad of colors
Ignite the fire of creativity in my spirit
The way writing used to do
Long ago before my muse departed.

Within those small, round
And perfectly polished pieces
Of colored glass
I see the potential to create
Artwork, jewelry, embellishments
That glimmer with life in sunlight.

Opening the latest delivery
Filled with shiny bead bags, hanks, and tubes
Of new unique hues, tiny sizes, and sparkling finishes
Sends feelings of warmth and eagerness
Through my entire body
As my mind begins to turn.

Shall I create a new pattern?
A beaded picture captured
In a bracelet, barrette, pendant, or earrings
Where each colored bead
Works like paint on a palette.

Or shall I just choose colors?
Cool blues, fiery reds, refreshing yellows
Calming greens, regal purples, earthy browns
Start weaving with needle and thread
Through suede or felt
Until what I see in my mind
Appears in my hands.

The smooth feel of beads relax me
The tiny percussive sound of beads energize me
The spills that send them
Scattering across table and floor
Excite me in undesirable ways
As I’m certain I’ll never find them all.

Beading is my meditation
My Zen garden in a world of chaos
A way to regain focus and calm
Shut out the frantic fears
Of a writer who lives in doubt
That my patterns of words
Will never again be as beautiful
As my beaded creations.

A quiet start to an amazing New Year

fireplace in luxury cabin

How I’ll spend New Year’s Eve in my dream home/cabin in New England someday. πŸ˜‰ Image courtesy of RedWolfFalls.com

It’s New Year’s Eve and I know there are tons of people with plans to attend fun parties with friends, family, and/or coworkers. I haven’t gone to any type of New Year’s Eve party in many years and while there are aspects I miss such as being with friends, I’m content to just stay home.

My daughters are off with their father to attend a friend’s party where there will be other children their age and lots of fun to be had via the Wii, board games, and other toys. I had them on New Year’s Eve last year and we just hung out at home and snuggled on my bed until midnight to watch the ball drop. I think the girls were asleep by then, heck I think I was half asleep by then.

I have some freelance writing projects to work on today and errands to run before I stop at my mom’s house for a visit and one of my notoriously long bubble baths. I’ll be leaving her house before it gets dark because I don’t want to be on the roads with party goers who might already be inebriated. Once home, I have a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine to pop open (or twist the top off of), grocery store oriental for dinner, and a cheddar cheese ball to snack on amid beading, creating new paintings, and exploring a new area of craftsmanship I’ve been wanting to try for months. After that, I’ll be snuggled up on the couch with my circus of animals as the electric fireplace heater creates a warming glow.

It will be a quiet New Year’s Eve for me, but that’s okay because I know in my heart that 2015 is going to be an amazing year for me full of new accomplishments, opportunities, and exciting discoveries. Happy New Year!

Windy days and wittle owls

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Today was one of those classic, spooky autumn days. Amid brief glints of sunlight, the endless wind blew the leaves off trees like colorful confetti and whipped gray clouds across the sky in turbulent waves. It was the perfect type of day to stay warm inside and aside from taking Jazzmin on a short walk, that’s exactly what I did.

Wednesdays are the days I usually turn my complete focus to college and freelance work because it’s custody transition day and the girls go to their father’s house after school. I have final papers due in both of my current college courses, but aside from that, the course work has slowed down a bit. I finished all of my reading and assignments by early afternoon and decided it was time for my favorite hobby of beading.

Today’s beading was inspired by hearing the owl a couple of nights ago. You see, at the end of the last school year I made a beaded owl pendant for my youngest daughter’s teacher. The teacher loved owls so I created a pattern and went to work. It took me a few tries to get the pattern and finished result right, but I was proud of the little owl pendant I made. Well, actually it’s a cute wittle owl because I find it so precious I switch into my sweet, cartoonish voice. It’s a voice I first used when I was a child playing with toys, then used on my girls when they were babies, and now use on the dog when she’s being adorably pathetic. Oh and I still use it to annoy the girls sometimes too. πŸ˜‰

After creating that first owl pendant as a gift, I tucked the pattern away for safekeeping until I wanted it again. Hearing the owls outside reminded me of the pendant, so I pulled it back out and made a few fall-inspired modifications. The modified pattern I made today has a little jack-o-lantern on the chest instead of the heart from the original owl pattern. Much to my surprise, I created the newest owl pendant in a single afternoon and it came out quite cute!

Working on that beading project as the wind howled outside of the house, filled me with contentment, happiness, and a feeling of accomplishment. The adorable wittle owl I beaded today is just the first of many I’m sure and I’m looking forward to once again sharing my unique creations with the world.

Bookmark, not bracelet!

1/4 of the way into Jaycie's bookmark, Om Nom appeared!

1/4 of the way into Jaycie’s bookmark, Om Nom appeared!

For the last week I’ve been working on my youngest daughter Jaycie’s beaded bracelet…er I mean, bookmark! Every time I’d say I was working on Jaycie’s “bracelet” she’d quickly correct me with “bookmark!” Neither of my girls are fond of wearing jewelry so the two beaded loom projects I designed and made for them turned into bookmarks, not bracelets.

My oldest daughter Jordan requested a Yin Yang based bookmark with flowers and mountains. She sketched up her idea and I used my PatternMaker program to translate into something I could make on one of my two looms. She loved the end result and uses it for a bookmark in one of the three books she’s reading at the same time.

Jordan's fringed Yin Yang bookmark.

Jordan’s fringed Yin Yang bookmark.

My youngest daughter Jaycie didn’t specifically request a bookmark/bracelet but she does love Om Nom from the Cut the Rope app so I started working on a design of him in my PatternMaker program. It took a few tries to get him, the candy, his pal Roto and the cupcake looking recognizable in the pattern but with some input from both my daughters, I finally got it right! Jaycie loved it and asked if I’d make it for her. I promised her I would do just that.

I created the pattern months ago and got busy with other things but I never forgot my promise and neither did Jaycie. She’s been asking me for the past month when I was going to make her bookmark so I finally made the time and started working on it late last week. It’s the widest bracelet/bookmark I’ve ever made on the loom so warping the threads took some time. Weaving on such a wide strip of beads was also tricky to get the hang of but eventually I got with the flow.

I worked on the bookmark as often as I could because I wanted to complete it before our upcoming vacation to New England. Finally, yesterday afternoon I completed the bookmark!

The finished Cut the Rope bookmark.

The finished Cut the Rope bookmark.

After some off loom finishing touches I presented it to Jaycie and she thanked me with a smile before promptly disappearing with it into her bedroom. I later found her playing with it among her stuffed animals. While she may never use it as a bookmark, I know she loves it and that’s enough to fill my heart with joy sweeter than any Cut the Rope candy!

Beading bliss

Just a small sample of my beads and thread.

Just a small sample of my beads and thread.

My favorite thing to do for the last couple months has been beading. I began exploring beading amid making earrings and once I discovered all the different stitches and techniques, I was hooked! I’ve learned peyote, brick stitch, ladder stitch, square stitch and daisy chain so far and have several books containing a variety of other stitches I still need to learn. I use a loom for bigger projects like bracelets but for smaller things, I hand stitch.

Still one of my favorite creations, a peyote owl pendant

Still one of my favorite creations, a peyote owl pendant.

Once I’ve figured a stitch out, I can just sit there and do it without reading directions. It’s a very peaceful and enjoyable thing to work with beads, needle and thread creating a unique new piece. I create my own patterns using PatternMaker for Cross Stitch and bringing them to life with beads is always a fun process. I’ve actually surprised myself with my own creativity despite how much it expanded by making dangle and ball drop earrings with larger glass and stone beads.

As any beader will tell you, it’s addictive! And it involves finding beads all over the house, sometimes in strange locations like the bottom of my coffee mug and between my toes. I examine the carpet carefully before I vacuum and tend to find some seed beads hidden under the couch. I take my beading supplies with me when I visit my mom for a day and on my trips to New England. I can’t be without my beads and thread!

At the pow wows I attend there’s always beads for sale and I can’t seem to get away without buying a package or two. Never know when I’ll need a particular color I don’t already have! At the last pow wow I went to, one of the vendors was giving away a whole bunch of beading trays and storage containers and I happily took as much as I could carry in my arms πŸ™‚ I admire all the beaded wares for sale at pow wows and know just how much work is involved now that I bead myself.

I’ve learned that it’s possible to translate all sorts of images into beading, from flowers to birds to a stormy sky, all it takes is a little creativity, patience and a lot of beads!

Loom bracelet I designed and made for a friend.

Loom bracelet I designed and made for a friend.

The creativity of this Corbin girl

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Geometric sapphire and copper hued earrings I created tonight

I’m not the most organized person in the world but as the little sign my mom gave me many moons ago says “Creative minds are seldom tidy.” I think most crafters would agree with me that sometimes daily tidying falls by the wayside when there’s a new idea in the head that must be brought to life!

One of my very first earring designs.

One of my very first earring designs.

For the past month or so I’ve been creating original beaded earrings and pendants for my own personal use. I’ve posted pictures on social media sites sharing my creations and received lovely, positive feedback. I’ve gifted a few pairs of earrings to my mother and more pairs to a friend and they’ve appreciated my creations. A couple of days ago I decided to finally start listing my earring creations on my Etsy store called CorbinGirl in the hopes that I could share the jewelry in more than just pictures.

Blue and white ginger jar style earrings.

Blue and white ginger jar style earrings.

Glass pearl chandelier style earrings.

Glass pearl chandelier style earrings.

Red and white glass pearls with leaf medallions.

Red and white glass pearls with leaf medallions.

Turquoise, purple and orange beaded dangles

Turquoise, purple and orange beaded dangles

I create jewelry because if I don’t, I’ll go insane trying to keep all these new ideas in my head. I opened a shop to share what I make with the world and while it may someday be profitable, that’s not my main goal right now. I’ve listed all my earrings at extremely low prices, just enough to cover shipping costs, because all I really want is for people to wear and enjoy my beaded creations. So far I’ve sold one pair and that makes me blissfully happy!

Writing my earring listings on Etsy is a learning process and I’m tweaking things as I strive to achieve a polished online storefront. Eventually I’ll have it all figured out and the process will go smoother but until then, I’ll just keep working happily away in my creative laboratory/craft room expressing new aspects of the multifaceted Corbin girl that I am!

Do one thing

A little bit of everything on my craft table

Do one thing and do it well. That’s one way to live but what fun is that?? I’ve never been able to focus on just one thing and find enjoyment in that. I worked in retail and as a secretary for 20 years, doing the same tasks every day. I did my jobs exceptionally well and was loved by my bosses but I wasn’t happy. Everything I did outside of my paid jobs is what made me happy.

Now that I’m a paid writer, I love my job and feel fortunate and blessed. My life was already very fulfilling with my family and friends and being able to work at a task that makes me happy is wonderful! At the end of a day of freelance work though my writing abilities are tapped out and the only writing for pleasure I can muster is this blog and some emails.

As I usually can’t face my keyboard after working all day, for the past few weeks I’ve sat down at my craft table to begin fiddling with beads and wire. Quite often before I fall asleep at night, I close my eyes and see flashes of jewelry pieces created randomly by my mind. I’ve started jotting them down in my phone and the next day I set about transforming vision into reality.

Some of my first jewelry creations

I love these turtle earrings I made!

I love these turtle earrings I made!

When I wrote in my fantasy books, I used my words to create characters and scenes. When I’m crafting, I use my fingers and my imagination to bring together wire and beads in colorful and unique creations. When I create beautiful things to share, I feel beautiful myself. I don’t mean physical beauty, I mean that inner glow that is sensed, not seen. Jewelry work brings a new form of peace and bliss I didn’t know existed.

From my mind last night to reality this morning.

From my mind last night to reality this morning.

Simple but lovely glass bead earrings I made for my mom.

Simple but lovely glass bead earrings I made for my mom.

While I’ll never be able to do just one thing and feel fulfilled, I believe I’m quite good at doing a lot of things. Everything I do that expresses my creativity generates positive energy, a sense of harmony with the universe and deeper feelings of love for myself and the world around me.

A place to play

play room1

This past Sunday was a beautiful day! I got out early to do some errands which included getting groceries and being inexplicably drawn into a craft store. That seems to happen a lot these days! After a brief stop at my mom’s to invite her out for pizza dinner, I headed back home to get some tidying done.

While the arrangement of the toys in the craft/play room is best left to Jordan with her amazing organizational skills (not something she inherited from me), I did my best to tidy up the toys and get them up off the floor. Having a majority of the girls toys in that small room reveals the true size of their collection and gives me ample ammunition for the next time they say “I don’t have anything to play with.” All I have to do is point into that room now!

Toy overflow!

Toy overflow!

I am indescribably happy to finally have my craft table set up! It’s been in the box since my mom gave it to me over a decade ago and I’ve wanted to set it up somewhere forever. It fits perfectly in front of the window in that room and gives me a great view of my bird feeders! The natural light in that room is plentiful for most of the day but should my crafting run into the darkness, I have a daylight lamp to keep the candle burning, so to speak. The lamp was a gift and I’m certain it will assist in my crafting year round!

playroom2

Last night I discovered that Star Trek: The Next Generation is on Netflix so I set up my tablet and started the very first episode of the show. I was in geek heaven as I crafted and watched Star Trek!

star trek

What was once Jaycie’s room is now a space for creativity and fun. The hardest part is going to be for the three of us girls to get all our work done before we venture into our new favorite place to play. I’m sure we’ll manage somehow…

My kind of April Fool’s Day

 

clay and bead jewelry

My most recent clay and bead jewelry

 

The forecast promised 65 today. While it didn’t get quite that warm due to the clouds for most of the day, by around 4:30 p.m. the sun was finally out and it had warmed up to 52. Compared to -25, 52 feels quite tropical and the sunshine was lovely! It might have been Mama Nature saying “April Fool’s! I’m just going to make you think it’s finally spring when it really isn’t!” but I don’t particularly care. Every beautiful day we get is a gift and must be lived as it comes.

I’ve been working on freelance writing jobs that are more involved than anything I’ve done before and while I’m enjoying doing them, by the end of the day I don’t even want to open my laptop again. I decided it was time to take a little break and express the creativity that’s been bottled up inside me and continually building for the past several days.

My youngest daughter, Jaycie asked me to make her a turtle necklace after seeing my prototype clay owl necklace so I’ve been working on that since the weekend. As my owl necklace had clay feathers, I asked her what clay “beads” she wanted her turtle necklace to have and she said “river beads.” She explained what she meant and I drew up a couple sketches of the design until she picked one she liked. I finished painting the beads today and when she got home from school I further customized the necklace by having her pick the color embroidery floss she wanted as the chain. She was extremely pleased with the end result as was I and she’s been wearing it all evening.

With Jaycie’s necklace complete, I went back to work on my newest owl necklace to replace the one I accidentally broke this weekend. I made new clay feathers that were larger and even found my Dremel tool this afternoon to etch a word into the back of the owl. I decided to incorporate some of my new beads and jewelry making supplies into the clay necklace and my second owl necklace is quite a lot better than the first! I hope it stays together but I know that even if it falls apart, I’m learning as I go and will improve with each new creation. I also made a pair of earrings and while they’re not perfect, I think they’re lovely and look forward to making many more!

I grilled some hamburgers for dinner out in the sunshine and the smell still lingers in my hair just as it always does in the summertime. There will be more nice days soon, I have faith but I also know that even when the weather isn’t quite so nice, I’ll have no shortage of things to keep me creatively busy inside.

The back of Jaycie's turtle and my owl pendant

The back of Jaycie’s turtle and my owl pendant

Creating beyond words

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I’ve been swamped with freelance writing work this week and that’s a very good thing! By the end of the day, I’m mentally exhausted and my ability with words nearly depleted. That’s when I busy my fingers with enjoyable endeavors beyond the keyboard and start playing with clay. Eventually my creative experimentation will evolve into more polished pieces but for now, it’s just a meditative process and a constructive way to recharge my imaginative energy.

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