Monday, March 25, 2013


There's always room for improvement in any business, and this one is no exception. I'm addicted to lovely, beautiful organization, but ironically haven't ever really had the time to implement it. Things happen so fast around here that Mom and I are always throwing together a system that works in the moment, but might not be the best for the long term.

So it's finally time to slow down a bit and uncomplicate my life a little bit. That's the focus word I have finally chosen for 2013. What does it mean to me? Well, it means I have to stop pretending I'm some super human being who can do more than I say I can. I've had to make some hard choices in the last few weeks about postponing some big events in my life so that the quality will be the best it can be instead of me just rushing through it to hit a deadline. Making those choices was emotionally very difficult, but now that I'm on the other side of the decision, I see blue skies, sunshine, and the opportunity to build an even better and stronger business with stronger designs, more internal organization and structure, and a less frantic Jill.

Two of those changes are going to be happening in the next few months and I'm so excited (and a little terrified.) On Tuesday, Mom and I are going to start pulling every last little thing out of our infamous Bead Room so that we can sort, purge, catagorize, organize, and put it back in. Seriously - do you have any idea how much time I spend looking for stuff? It's STOOPID how much time I waste doing that! But when you keep bringing new things in the room and a specific place never gets established for it, well, you're asking for this kind of chaos. Yes, there will be plenty of photos to share as we go through it. I'm hoping the whole process won't take more than a week.

The other big thing I did today was hire a website designer. As you know, Mom has been my magnificent webmaster all these years, and she will continue to be the main worker bee behind it. But we want to add all sorts of products to the site (3 & 4mm crystals, chatons, rose montees, more kumihimo stuff....) and we really need a better shopping cart system to do it. A whole site revamp is due too. And I don't want Mom to spend any more long hours than she already does slaving away for me on all that! So if all goes according to plan, I should have it all ready to go by mid to late May. So excited! More on that as it progresses too....

And of course, there's more Beadwork Designer of the Year stuff to design....more work on the second book to be done....more teaching projects to be worked up... But in the midst of it all, Mom and I will be taking a vacation!  A cruise is in our immediate future, along with excursions to swim with the dolphins, play with the monkeys, and take an airboat ride! 

So hang's gonna be a really cool Spring season around here!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Can I put a crystal on that?

I've been bit by the bug. We all know that I'm a crystal slut. After all, one of Poppy's middle names is AB2X. Need I say more? But my newest fun is gluing flat back Swarovski stones on things. Basically anything that doesn't move away fast enough is at risk. So far I've crystallized my iPhone case and a piece of wall art. Actually, strike that. I've started both those projects and finished neither. Now THAT sounds like me, doesn't it???

And yet I'm looking around the house with a new eye towards covering all the surfaces in crystals. What's next??? The fan blades on my bedroom ceiling fan would be cool. So would the edges of the shelves on my Elfa desk. But what if I got tired of it?? I guess I could buy more shelves if that happened. Hm.

And what an expensive little hobby I picked up! Sheesh! But really - I love sparkles.

I'm totally excited that Mom's been working bit by bit on reorganizing our bead room. She took out the corner desk I used to have in there which is giving us more wall space for book shelves. Now the entire room will be ringed in them. And the best part is that we realized that we will have space in the middle of the room to put the bead storage case that's been sitting in our garage for two years. YEE HAW! Photos as it starts coming together. Heck, I may even do a little video for y'all!

Back to the grind with me for the remainder of the night. I'm behind on writing instructions so I've got to concentrate. It's hard with these sparkly beads everywhere, though.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Procrastination perfected

Things I found to do instead of writing the two sets of instructions due by morning:
  • Ate the leftover baked cauliflower from dinner
  • Caught up on my blog reader - which had 272 posts
  • Discovered I enjoy Baazar magazine now as long as I don't think I'll be able to purchase anything in there
  • Checked Facebook 33 times
  • Played Solitaire until I win at least one game. Okay, two.
  • Contemplated yet again a  more vegetarian diet and starting yoga
  • Chased Winston and his Bear Bear
  • Did a load of laundry. Oh, okay - at this moment in time I've only thought about doing that load. But I'm gonna. Really. 
  • Made a list of the Christmas gifts I have purchased to make sure I'm really done buying.
  • Started this blog post
  • And then, and only then...I finally buckled down and started writing

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Details make a difference

I have been doing a LOT of beading in the last week. As in, nonstop during the waking hours. I'm thisclose to catching up on my deadlines for various projects and I am so excited about it! But as I've been working away, I have a lot of mental free time and I've been trying to pay attention to some of the little things I do as I work that can make a big difference in the quality of the beadwork I create.

First and foremost, I cull my beads. A lot. When I was first starting out beading, I didn't like to cull. Who wants to throw those precious little beadies away??? But as my stash of beads got bigger and I felt less worried about running out (although I still have moments! LOL!) I started to let go a little bit. And I began to push aside those beads that were much taller or shorter than the rest of them.

As time went on, I also started noticing that if you look at the beads from the top, down through the holes, there can be big differences in hole sizes, especially if you're working with galvanized, color-lined, or Czech seed beads. At first I figured if I could get my needle through the hole, it didn't really matter. Except sometimes it DID matter - like at the ends of a piece where my needle and thread must go through each bead many times to secure my clasp. So now I cull out the small hole guys too.

My Bead On It Board is a lifesaver when it comes to helping me cull, because most of the beads will pour out so the holes are all up. And they don't roll around as much. I haven't talked about the Bead On It Boards here on the blog, but they are now one of my must-have beading tools. You can purchase them at, and I'll also have a permanent link on the sidebar for them.

Here's an example of some "good" galvanized beads and some culled out beads. On the top are the good ones - they're all the same height (which you can't see at this angle of photo, but trust me) and the holes are all nice and big. On the bottom, you'll notice some of the beads have tiny holes (especially that one in the first row on the left) and the others are height issues.

As a result of my careful bead selection not only will I have an easier time with finishing my project (no blocked holes) but when photographed there will be no oddball sizing issues that jump out. My project will flow more smoothly. And I'll be a happier beader.

Don't fret about those culled out beads either. You can make art with them! This is the large vase we purchased about two years ago in which we throw all our oddball beads. The layers of color tell a story about various projects we've worked on over time, and in some cases big bead spills or accidental bead combos that we didn't feel like separating out. It sits on our fireplace hearth and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that 2012 is almost over. This past year has flashed by at warp speeds, and I'm left shaking my head and laughing. Ironically, I still feel like I'm planning for stuff that's going to happen in 2012! I guess I need to cross out that 12 and mark it a 13 instead!

The joy and excitement and every other emotion about publishing a book still hit me on a regular basis. Which is really a good motivator for me right now as I'm spending the last month of this year and the first month of next year doing much of the designing and writing for my next book! I need to remember how cool the outcome will be when I'm deep in the midst of writing minutia and design dilemmas and color combo frustrations.

One of the other really nice things about being home for more than two months straight is that after I slept for a week (I'm not really kidding) Mom and I have been making slow but steady progress on cleaning up the disaster areas in our house that the 2012 whirlwind left behind. Massive piles of beads in boxes left over from various shows. Massive piles of beads and paperwork on all horizontal surfaces. Just tonight I discovered more than one item that I must have purchased in a pre-show frenzy because I couldn't find it when I went to go make the kits. Now that things are being put away, guess what??? I'm overstocked on some of those bits! LOL

Fireline Stockpile
One of our biggest goals for next year is to keep a larger inventory of kits on hand so that we're not making so many of them in a short amount of time right before I have to leave town with them. That's when the mistakes are made. It's a big financial commitment. It's not that I wasn't aware I should be doing that all along, but it's been much more about the ability to do it in regards to the cash flow of the business. Working so hard this past year has helped me have a better cushion so we can dial back some of the insanity.

So between working on various samples (that I can't show you yet) I'm taking ten minute breaks to go pick something and put it away. And periodically I'm spooling Fireline in bulk quantities so that's ready to go too.

Dang, I sound organized, don't I??? Just call me, Mistress of Illusion. ;-)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How Often Do You Bead?

From June:
As I sit here and read through all my Facebook posts and read the blogs I subscribe to, I feel like a failure. Why? Because everyone seems to spend a lot of time beading. As a designer, I feel like I should be beading ever day. And I'm not.

For example, yesterday after I took the dogs for their walk, I made kits and filled orders. I had (long) lunch with two people I used to work with - about my only social life these days! Went to the post office, cleaned up all the stuff I dragged out to make kits. Worked on a kit inventory so we know what to make for our next show, Bead Fest Texas. I spend the evening cutting a blanket into small squares to hold needles for our kits.

At least I picked out the colors for my next beading project, but don't know when I'll get to the actual beading.

What about you? How often do you bead?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Story Behind: Butterfly Kisses

I was actually awake on Monday! During the day! And it may have been the power of suggestion, but I was more clearheaded and got more work accomplished than I have in weeks. Of course I'm already goofing up and it's now 2:30 am and am I in bed like I should be? Um....look! Over there! Sparkly! (Did my distraction work???)

Today was a great day with exciting news for me on the book front. I found out that through the magic of being the author and asking for favors, I was able to get a shipment of books sent out to me at my hotel in Philadelphia! So next week when I'm at Bead Fest Philadelphia, I will have BOOKS to sell! Those who have already pre-ordered them from me will be able to pick them up there. I also have a shipment of books being sent to Austin, but unfortunately they will arrive a few days after I leave for Philly. So I will get all the pre-orders autographed and mailed out from Austin by August 27th.

And then, because I was able to get my hands on the books, Betcey from Beyond Beadery asked me if I would be willing to do a book signing at the show in their booth! So I'll be hanging out there on Saturday, August 17th, from 1-3pm. My very first book signing! I told Betcey it was only fitting because she and Mark were literally the first folks I told about the book contract after telling Mom. They were in the right place at the right time and I just HAD to spill it!

So....wanna see another project from the book? (puts hand to ear to listen) I hear yes! So let me introduce you to the necklace known as Butterfly Kisses...

This is one of the few pieces in the book that have been previously out in the world. As a matter of fact, you may have seen me wearing it as it's one of my favorites! I have this one in gold and another in silver and they go with anything and everything. The name Butterfly Kisses comes from the fact that it's made with the ogalala stitch, which is sometimes known as the butterfly stitch.

Normally the ogalala stitch is a very light and airy, barely there ruffle. But I decided to put a new twist on it and make some adjustments that turn it into a more substantial, thicker rope. I think the look is feminine, but modern - not too precious.

I'd better work on that bedtime thing now. It was really nice spending the day with the fur babies wide awake. Poppy keeps us on our toes right now. She managed to escape through the smallest of holes in the fence to our back neighbor's yard. She got returned by being passed over the fence top! And how nice is our neighbor - he even offered to come fix it Tuesday. Or maybe he just doesn't want Poppy visits again. But how can one get too mad at this little sweetheart???

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Can you hold on one more day?

This weekend did not go as planned by me. Mainly because I am SO tired lately! In an effort to switch things up and try to sleep on a more regular schedule I'm working on trying to go to bed between midnight and 1am, and then sleeping until 9-10am. Also included in the plans is a little exercise, but right now I don't even want to think about that part. I do, however, want to go to bed now now now!

What I didn't get accomplished was scanning in photos of the book projects so I can blog about them - can you hang on one extra day while I get myself sorted out?

I also had to place roughly a bazillion supply orders over the weekend for all the last minute stuff I'm preparing for the Bead Fest Philly Show. I leave a week from today (Sunday.) Teaching six classes this time - plus the booth - plus - well, I might have a little surprise too, but I have to wait for phone calls on Monday to verify everything first before I get y'all too excited!!

Sleep tight!