Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morse Code Communicaton Art

Morse Code has never fascinated me.  I understand that it has been very important to communication, but always thought of it as something used either in the past or by the military.  Mostly I have just seen it in movies, not in real life.

Created by SomniumOfAlexZim

Morse Code as Art

I was browsing my feed in Etsy today and happened upon a bracelet that grabbed my attention.  It is really a bracelet/necklace.  It can be wrapped around the wrist multiple times are around the neck two times.  It is absolutely beautiful. This lovely piece of jewelry was designed and created by SomniumOfAlexZim.

This bracelet contains the message "Imagination is more important than knowledge." This is an Albert Einstein quote.   The artist explains that the beads represent the dots and dashes to create the message.  I was intrigued by this and decided to see if there are other items created with Morse Code.  I did a search for Morse Code in Etsy and found listings for 899 items.  Who would have thought?

This inspired me to create a treasury of some of my favorites.  It includes jewelry, neckties, pictures, and old telegram machines.  Take a look and enjoy.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Greeley Arts Picnic - a Fun Sunday

Do you like to attend arts and crafts fairs?

I do!  This weekend the city of Greeley, Colorado hosted their annual Arts Picnic.

This is always in late July, and I have gone to it for the last four years.  Usually it is blistering hot, and it totally poops me out.  The weather this weekend has been unseasonably cool.  Bill and I went there today, and the temperature was around 75.  So perfect!

A little history

Greeley is the county seat for Weld County Coloarado.  My town of Severance is in Weld County.  It is about a 25 minute drive to Greeley from my house.  By the way, the town was named for Horace Greeley, and their newspaper is the Greeley Tribune.  Horace Greeley founded the New York Tribune, and Nathan C. Meeker who was a writer for Horace Greeley on the New York Tribune founded the Greeley Tribune in 1870.  OK- I certainly have digressed from my purpose of sharing the Greeley Arts Picnic with you.

Events at the Greeley Arts Picnic

When we got to the park, Bill took a seat in the audience of one of the three stages at the park.  The first group he saw perform were some belly dancers.  Not traditional fare at this type of festival, but it was very enjoyable.

I made my way around the arts and crafts area while he watched the entertainment.  There were over 150 artists there today.  There was a man on stilts, and a man making fun balloon creations.  There were food vendors.

I only made one purchase from a wonderful jewelry artist I found there.  Her business is Marvel Rouge, and she has a shop on Etsy.  This artist uses vintage pieces of jewelry along with new findings to create beautiful new jewelry.  I find her work to be refreshing and delicate.
Here are the earrings I purchased from her.

In addition, her packaging and her business card are unique.

It was a fun day at the Greeley Arts Picnic.  Tell us about a favorite festival you attend.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do You Have a Pinterest Business Page?

 Pinterest Logo

I like Pinterest!

Do you have a Pinterest business page for your small business?  I use Pinterest for my business, and find that by doing so I receive some traffic from my Pinterest page to my shop.

How to create a good Pinterest business page

I received an email from Mitt Ray at Social Marketing Writing that provides an excellent infographic describing the steps that need to be taken to set up a good Pinterest business page.  Take a look at it here to see if you are doing these things on you Pinterest business page.  If not, you may wish to do some of this to enhance your presence on Pinterest and drive more traffic to your shop.

Please visit Mitt Ray's website Social Marketing Writing for other valuable information about Pinterest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Constraints Ignite Your Creativity

 Why Constraints?

Why would you want to be constrained in what you do?  Don't you want unlimited freedom?
Graphic from Lorenzo Perrone on Creative Commons on Flickr

How Can the Use of Constraints Help You?

I have created artificial constraints on myself quite often over the years as a way to trick myself into being more productive and creative.

For example, I long ago read somewhere about the 5 minute blitz for accomplishing daily clean-up chores.  At that time my children were young, I worked a full time job outside the home, and I had trouble keeping the house neat and clean.  So I implemented the 5 minute blitz methodology to attack the clutter with the sometimes cooperation from my family. I would go to the kitchen, yell GO, and set the kitchen timer on the microwave oven for 5 minutes.  Then I would race through the house picking up everything I could find and putting it away.  The children would tackle their rooms.  My husband joined in when he could.  I learned how productive this was.  I had a sense of accomplishment when the 5 minutes was done, and what is really cool is that I became more creative in the way I did the clean up.  I quickly learned to get a basket and rag and carry it with me so I could throw things in the basket, and wipe up any areas in dire need of that.  Then I ran around with the basket to put things away.

Graphic from Kristian Bjornard on Flickr Creative Commons

Ignite Your Productivity and Creativity with Constraints

So seriously, how do these self imposed constraints ignite creativity within us? I have found that if my mind is blank for a new design for my beaded badge lanyards or other jewelry, it helps if I go to my stash of beads and choose one. 

It can be any bead.  If I am truly without any ideas, I close my eyes, wave my hands around in front of my shelves of beads, and grab a box.   Then I open it and either consciously select my favorite, or once again close my eyes and choose one.

In this case, I landed on a box of Czech flower beads and narrowed it down to these yellow tulip beads.

My rule  or constraint is that I must use that bead in my design.  It does not need to be the focal bead.  It could have a supporting role, but I must use that bead.  From there I play with that bead holding it up to others that I can coordinate into a design and usually my creative juices kick in.  I then work to create the design.

Scientific Evidence for Use of Constraints

I started thinking about the need for constraints in our creative business lives when I read this article publish by Buffer titled "The Psychology of Limitations: How and Why Constraints Can Make You More Creative".
The author points out that we can become paralyzed by unlimited choices.  Constraints take away some of these choices and force us to focus on those few choices available within the limitations imposed.  I hope you will read the article and watch the video there about an artist named Phil Hansen.  His injuries to his hand placed limitations on his art, but he found new ways to create his art.

To use this psychology for productivity, many suggest using what is called the Pomodoro Technique.  This is a way for us to focus on a task in a productive manner for 25 minutes after which we stop and take a 5 minute break.  It has been suggested as well to do this for tasks that involve sitting so that we get up for 5 minutes every half hour and move, something that is necessary for our health.
There are so many ways to apply this concept.  Do you have any favorite methods of imposing constraints to ignite your creativity and productivity?  Please share them here.  It would be a fun discussion.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vintage Inspired Beaded ID Lanyards

Vintage Inspired Jewelry is a Favorite of Mine

I have been inspired by vintage type of jewelry ever since I first started using Etsy back in 2006.   I emulated much of what I saw to make earrings and then necklaces. Now I specialize in creating and selling id badge lanyards.  I was missing... no, I was aching, to make vintage inspired jewelry again.  So I thought, why can't I create vintage inspired id badge lanyards.

Antiqued brass findings are often used in this type of jewelry, and heaven knows I sure have a lot of those in my stash of supplies.  I decided to make a lanyard using some of the antiqued brass findings and some beautiful blue green glass teardrop beads.  I also incorporated some small complementary crystals up around the neck.  I am delighted with what I did here.  I plan to do more in the future.

Here is a close up view of the teardrop beads with the antiqued brass beadcaps.  Notice how I layered two fancy beadcaps, then a crystal, then a small spacer above the teardrop bead.  This adds charm to the design.  You can also see that I used a small round antiqued brass bead at the bottom of the teardrop bead.  The beads are wirewrapped with antiqued brass wire to the antiqued brass chain.

 Since vintage inspired jewelry has a lot of embellishment, I added small crystal beads and small round antiqued brass beads further up the strand to repeat the colors and forms used on the main beads.  The lovely antiqued brass mother son chain adds to the charm of the design. I enjoy mother son chain because it uses large and small links of chain in a pleasing repetition.

Vintage Inspired Lanyards Sold in the Past

I have made some vintage inspired lanyards in the past, and those are sold.  Here are some photos of them.  If you find that you are interested in something like these, please contact me for a custom order.

Pink Flower on Brass ID Badge Lanyard 

Peach Flower on Antique Brass with Beaded Lanyard Strand

Vintage Inspired Rose Buttons on ID Badge Lanyard 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Seed Bead Bonanza - Awesome Garage Sale Find

A Seed Bead Bonanza

Wow, look what I found on my garage sale expedition Saturday morning!  It's a seed bead bonanza.

A subdivision down the road from us with very nice homes holds a neighborhood garage sale once a year in July.  I have always found things I like there, so I showed up at 8:00 in the morning to go to all the houses that had a sale.

I found a few things I liked at the first sales I visited, and then I stepped into a garage and saw all these boxes of beads plus more.  If you are a beader, you will understand when I say my heart went pitter-patter a little faster than usual.  I purchased 12 boxes of beads for $2.00 each.  I did not have the heart to try to negotiate the price down because I was so aware of the value I was receiving at this point.

In addition, this lady had many more beads, wire,and other things.  She told me that she used to work in a bead shop in Wisconsin, and had accumulated all this there.  So essentially, everything she had for sale was new.  Plus all of the items were of the quality sold in a bead store.  This is usually better than what can be purchased at a big box craft store.
This nice lady said she does not bead anymore because she can't see well enough to do this type of work.  I really feel for her.  That is one thing that I hope never happens to me. I do need my "peepers" to do the detail work, and they work great for me. (I call reading glasses from Walgreens, peepers.)

I decided what I had selected already was really more than enough for me.  You need to understand that I already own thousands of beads.  Keeping them organized is a major project already.

If you look at my beaded items in my shop, you will see that I use seed beads extensively in my lanyards and eyeglass chains.

My New Stash of Beads

So what beads did I get in these lovely Craft Mates bead boxes?  Here is the run down.  But before I go over that, I would like to share with you that the Craft Mates boxes with 14 compartments retail for $8-$10 depending on where you buy them.  So for $2.00 each I got eight of them filled with beads.  What a deal!
Take a look at the wonderful seed beads.  Also, this lady had organized them by color.  How good can it get?

Aqua and Turquoise Blue Seed Beads

This photo is just part of a box filled with aqua blue seed beads of different shades, shapes and sizes.

Pretty Pink Seed Beads

These are my new pretty pinks.  All compartments have pink seed beads.

Luscious Lime and Other Greens

Let's not forget about greens.  What luscious green seed beads!

Spicy Orange

And we need to jazz it up a bit with orange.

Cool and Regal Purples and Blues

Not to mention purples and cool blues.

Beading Staples

Any good beader knows we need lots of neutrals.  How about all the white and other neutral seed beads?

In addition to seed beads, I got lots of pearls.

Then just for good measure, I purchased the boxes with head pins, silver-plated clasps and findings, chains, some lamp work beads, and other beads.  I already put the lamp work beads and some of the other beads away in my other bead boxes by color before I thought of writing this blog post.

Once I got these home, I had to figure out where to put them, but I was able to carve out an area on my shelves.  These all have a new home.  How I will ever use them all is beyond me.  The good thing is that when you come to me for a custom order and tell me you need something in pink with a dash of purple, I can look through these and the rest of my inventory (stash) and find the perfect thing just for you.

What have you found at garage sales that makes your heart go pitter-patter?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Say Something with Your ID Badge

Say something with your ID badge and let people know a bit about you. Wear a badge reel that conveys a message.  You have an id badge hanging from the reel,  but the badge itself can express something about you if you want it to.

I am using flat back buttons on top of badge reels to make these.  These flat back buttons are like the buttons used for campaigns or other pin on buttons.  They do not have a pin on them, but are flat.  This allows me to glue them to the top of the magnetic badge reels.  Very nice looking!
Right now I have several types in my shop.

Say Something about - Independence Day

 Star Spangled Badge Reel

Say Something about a cause -Teal Awareness Ribbons

I was not aware of the large number of awareness ribbons available.  The teal on has many causes associated with it.  A full list of awareness ribbons is published on Wikpedia.
 Teal Awareness Ribbon

Say Something about your profession -Lab Techs - Phlebotomist

 Vein Whisperer Badge Reel

Say Something about your profession - Pharmacy Tech

 Pharmacy Tech Badge Reel

I hope you enjoy these new badge reels. Let your ID badge reel say something that you want to communicate.  Are you looking for a certain theme or message for your id badge?  Please let me know in the comments what you would wear.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Taos, New Mexico–Land of Enchantment

Lounge Area at Inn on the Rio - photo from
I have been away for too long.  Today I would like to share about my trip to Taos, New Mexico the first week of May.

Bill and I went to Taos for some refreshment and touristy stuff.  I had never been there before, and I had a great time.  We stayed at a friendly relaxed bed and breakfast called Inn on the Rio.  Jules and Robert were fabulous hosts.  Our rooms were on the ground floor with our own entrance from outside, like a motel.  The b&b is an adobe structure with bright painted flowers around the doorway and cute decorative art in bright colors.

It was a short walk from our room to the dining area where Jules and Robert served us breakfast each day.  They are both excellent cooks and wonderful conversationalists. My favorite dish was a frittata that Julie made the first day.  It contained cream cheese, Vidalia onions, and mushrooms.  It was light as a feather and scrumptious.  

The Plaza

We spent time at the Taos square in the middle of town.  I enjoyed shopping and added a piece of Navajo horsehair pottery to my beginning collection.  It is my second piece.  The shops offer lots of different unique items, the shopkeepers are delightful, and prices are mostly reasonable for us everyday traveler type folks.

The Gorge Bridge

We also went out to the Gorge, where there is a bridge over the canyon of the Rio Grande.  We enjoyed looking at that.
Gorge Bridge over Rio Grande near Taos NM

Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo is located on the north side of town.  It is the oldest continuously inhabited structure of its type in North America.  The Pueblo tribe has lived here for about 1000 years.  I did not have an opportunity to walk around there, although it is open to the public.  It is fascinating.

Arroyo Seco

We also drove up the road to Arroyo Seco, a small spot in the road where there are a number of cute shops.  We went there about 10:00 am in the morning, and many of the shops were not open yet.  I did get to visit a shop that was open.  It was a gift shop, and the lady tending shop told me that Julia Roberts is one of their customers.  She said that Julia Roberts is a resident of Arroyo Seco.  I did not know that, but I do not keep up with celebrities on any regular basis.

High Road to Taos

Taos is not too far from Santa Fe, so we jumped in the car and took the High Road to Taos in the opposite direction.  We took it to Santa Fe.  It was a beautiful drive.  As we neared Santa Fe, we could see out over the desert landscape and mountain visits.  It was an incredible sight.

We visited some old adobe churches along the High Road to Taos, one at Chimayo, and a few others.  The church at Chimayo is quite old, and it was the only one open for us to go into.  We did that.  They were preparing for the 11:00 AM mass.  It is such a treat to visit such an old place that is in continuous use on a daily basis.
Old Church at Chimayo NM
The St.Francis d’Assisi church at the Taos end of the drive is one of the most photographed churches, so I tried my hand at photographing it as well.
St. Franics D'Assissi Church near Taos, NM

Studio J Bead Shop

So I found a bead shop in Taos that I really liked and spent some money there on supplies. It is called Studio J and I had fun talking with the shop owner and her mother.
Here are a few of the items I made using beads from that shop.  

The green one below is made with magnasite round beads that have a similar look to turquoise. I got those at Studio J.

I made two of the blue one, and both are sold. The blue beads are drizzled glass and have a lovely sheen to them.  I got those at Studio J as well.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

5 Favorite Business Blogs

I spend a lot of time reading business blogs each day. I need to educate myself on blogging, e-commerce, social media and small business, and this has been a wonderful way to do so. I have come up with a list of my favorite business blogs that continue to provide me with relevant up to date information.

What is a business blog?

Business blogs cover a very wide range.  The ones that I favor cater to the small business owner who operates an on-line business.  These are so good for those of us who work on our business from an office or studio in our homes.  Business blogs, just like lifestyle blogs can vary considerably from one another. That is what keeps them interesting and why I follow a number of them. The business blogs that I like speak to real people, and they do not assume that I have lots of prior knowledge about their topics.

My Top 5 Business Blogs

Sits Girls -

This blog is all about the art and science of blogging.  If you write a blog or if you are contemplating doing so, this website is the place to be.  This business blog provides you so very many resources, and they feature the work of many other bloggers.  My connecting with them, you are able to connect with the blogging community.  I need to utilize their resources more than I have done.

Blogging Tips -

What I like the most about this business blog from  Zac Johnson is that he utilizes many blogging experts to write and publish posts.  Each post is a little different and provides the flavor of the blogger writing the post.  I found a new blog that I listed below when reading one of the posts on his blog.  If you are a blogger check out this business blog.
Here is a photo of Zac and his dog from his about page.
 Blogging Tips About page

Social Media Examiner -

This business blog is a treasure trove of information.  I have to admit, the beautiful graphic of a hunter searching through the jungle with a magnifying glass and the tagline "Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle" grabbed me right away. Michael Steltzner is the founder of this remarkable website that calls itself a social media magazine.  The podcasts are wonderful as are the articles.  This is another of those sites that you can spend hours perusing.  You can learn so much from the information presented in this business blog.

 Social Media Examiner

Buffer -

I like to use the Buffer app to schedule postings on my Facebook page.  They also have a business blog that is awesome.  They have articles about many aspects of doing online business. Check it out and enjoy the read.  Here is an info-graphic from their content today.



This blog addresses all kinds of business needs.  Some are for larger business with lots of employees, and others are for any size business.  I have been receiving their posts by email for a number of years.  One of my favorite things about HubSpot is that they write and provide downloads of lots of educational materials.  They have information on developing email lists, writing blogs, using social media, SEO and more.  You may find that they ask you to sign up for their programs which cost money.  If you do not want to do that, just let them know that.  They will still continue to provide the free information.

Please comment below to share with us any good business blogs that you read

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