Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One World One Heart Giveaway 2011

I am going to take part in the 2011 One World - One Heart Giveaway. This is a unique experience where bloggers from all over the world participate and connect through their blogs.

This will be the fifth and final year for OWOH. This will be my third year and it's been a blast. Lisa Swifka came up with this idea to bring bloggers together and I have gained so much from the experience, having the opportunity to connect with bloggers worldwide. It's been wonderful. You can read about the OWOH Giveaway on Lisa's blog by clicking on the link to A Whimsical Bohemian. http://awhimsicalbohemian.typepad.com/a_whimsical_bohemian/2010/12/annoucning-the-fifth-and-final-one-world-one-heart-event-.html

The dates for the event will be January 30 - February 17, 2011.

Lisa describes the event like this:

"One World One Heart is a worldwide event for bloggers only. It gives all those who blog a chance to meet and mingle and form connections with those they may not have otherwise met from all over the world. In the past 4 years this event has grown to over 1,000 participants with lasting friendships (and even one love connection) formed along the way. Think of it as a GIGANTIC open house allowing you to travel without ever leaving your home........going from blog to blog(in various countries) seeing the wonder each one has created and meeting all the fabulous people behind those blogs. As a bonus each blogger participant will offer up a "door prize or prizes"....just for dropping by, saying hello and seeing their world. It's really that easy."

How cool is that? Please check back after January 3, 2011 for more information, and a chance to see what my door prize will be. Then, if you are wanting to participate, come back between January 30 and February 17 and leave a comment, including an email address so I can reach you if you win. The drawing will take place February 18 and I will use a random number generator to pick a winner, who will be notified on February 17.

This is an amazing ride and I hope you will get involved.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Professional Photos Make Such a Difference!

I was lucky to meet a professional photographer, Emily Jodoin (EAJodoin Photography), who works out of South Hadley, MA, and who is best known for shooting weddings, babies, and other celebratory events. My initial contact with her was to have her shoot a head shot of me. She was very patient with my nervousness, and by the time we were done, I had two great portraits.

We spent some time talking about the possibility of her shooting images of Magical Beadstalk jewelry that we could use when applying for higher-end artisan fairs. Some shows are very picky about what they require and often they require photographs that push the limited knowledge I have. I think I've become fairly good at shooting images for the website, but for the little extra, Emily's images are perfect.

Here are some of the images she created:

All in all, a fun and interesting process. A great learning for me, although I still tend to shoot in my lightbox on pine. Hopefully I will expand out and try other things - just not there yet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Full of Fall" Necklace & Earring Set!

The fall is my favorite time of year. The air is fresh and the colors are vibrant and lush. It's also our busiest time of year for craft shows and jewelry parties. Sheryl and I have only a couple of free weekends until Christmas. When we aren't doing shows we are creating. We work so well together that we try to find as much time as possible to work together in the studio rather than on our own. We really seem to feed off of each other in creative, positive ways.

Another great thing about the fall is that Artbeads has their fall blogging event. For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you know that for Artbeads blogging events, which happen every three months or so, they have chosen a group of jewelry artist that are offered beads and/or findings from the Artbeads website to use to create jewelry. Once the piece is created, we are asked to write a blog about the piece that we link back to the Artbeads website. Sheryl and I look upon these events as a great time to play.

This time we chose a beautiful hand-painted porcelain and sterling silver pendant from their huge selection of porcelain pendants www.artbeads.com/porcelain-ceramic-pendants.html and Swarovski Crystals at www.artbeads.com/swarovski-crystal-beads to create a 'full of fall color' necklace and earring set. We added Onyx beads and sterling silver to complete the piece. The colors of Swarovski Crystal we chose to go with the pendant were Fire Opal, Olivine Copper, Crystal Copper and Khaki. The crystals seem to bring out the colors of the pendant with amazing vibrancy. Such fall colors!

We were both so pleased with how the set looks and I'm looking forward to putting it up on the website.

Busy is great, but sometimes it's important to take a break, get outside to enjoy the beauty of the day and breathe. Today is one of those days. Once this blog is posted, I'm out of here - enjoy your day!

Disclaimer: Artbeads.com sometimes sends us products to review on this blog. We are free to choose from designated beads/findings and are free to make whatever we choose. We do not receive any compensation from Artbeads and we are expected to review their products honestly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Craft Shows Begin - No More Free Weekends!

Sheryl and I are gearing up for another busy season of Craft Shows. Life changes quite dramatically for me, as I am busy most weekends until two weeks before Christmas. Much as I love doing shows, meeting people, selling jewelry,etc., it's also a stressful time. Physically it is demanding, especially the setup and breakdown. We are at the mercy of the weather for the outdoor shows, and it's difficult to know how to prepare, especially with rain or strong winds. Lots of sun isn't much better. We did a show in Historic Deerfield, MA and the temperature and bright sun almost wiped us out. That was when Sheryl and I joked about changing the name of our business to "Two Old Broads Beading!" But we survived, as we always do.

A couple of years ago I posted a blog entry on what I bring to outdoor shows. I was looking it over and see that there are things I missed. I am going to post it here, with the additions I've learned about after another season or two of shows.

I bring:

canopy weights jewelry 4 tables covers busts for necklace, bracelets earring stands credit card machine tools earring backs business cards receipt books earring cards business card holders banner gift bags tissue paper table risers pine boxes to display things on pens anti-bacterial lotion clip board inventory list of jewelry price tags sterling silver "S" clasps in different sizes gift certificates signs - for earrings price; that I accept visa mastercard amex discover, sterling silver, etc. calculator camera sign up sheet for mailing list 2 chairs water hand truck paper towels

And I'm adding:

Hat Sunscreen Sunglasses Umbrella Earring Posts Risers for earring stands Brochures for Jewelry Parties Plastic bags fully charged cell phone sweater rain boots Granola bars

While I was going through pictures, I came across a bunch of shots I took at various shows and was struck by how much the display has changed as I've gained more experience. Most notable is the de-cluttering that seems to be taking place. I'm including some pictures so you can see how the display has evolved - still a work in progress, but better.

You will see by the images, starting with my first craft show, how over crowded my tables were. As time and experience has shown me, the less clutter allows for a better view of the jewelry. I used to have rocks, shells, goddess statues and other funky pieces to display jewelry on, but that's all gone. I have always struggled with wanting to put display too many pieces of jewelry. You can see by the last two shows that I've finally discovered that simplicity is best. Sheryl has been a great help with that. She's got a wonderful eye for display. And I keep reminding myself that less is better and simplicity is the way.......my daily mantra.









SIMSBURY, CT. - One of our favorite shows:


DEERFIELD, MA - finally on the right track:




I love what I do and, difficult as it seems some days, I hope to be able to continue for a long time........

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sheryl Machat's Amazing Earrings!

Sheryl creates beautiful earrings and I thought I would showcase them today. Sheryl joined Magical Beadstalk as my business partner about 1 1/2 years ago and I've loved watching her process as she creates new pieces for our business. Sheryl often uses unusual combinations of stone and color with great results. We are quite different in what draws us, so we create different styles, which I think makes our product line more interesting.

Many people suggested it would be risky to bring in a partner because I would have to share control, but I've not had a moment of concern. If anything she has brought so much excitement and skill to the business that it's been a great boost. Plus I love working with her. We spend a minimum of two days a week working together, and we laugh a lot while getting things done.

Earrings are a big part of our business and we find ourselves moving into higher end earrings, using top quality gemstones (faceted Lapis Lazuli, Peridot and Aquamarine for example) which when paired with the fine sterling silver wire work, produces beautiful earrings that flow and sparkle as you wear them.

Here are some examples of her newer work:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Family Reunion

Beatrice (Roseman) Spier, circa 1943

I have been a wanderer most of my life, starting when my parents decided to move the family to California from Montreal when I was 5. We lived there until I was 12 and then we moved back to Montreal. I was gone for enough years that I never really bonded with my extended family. I went to family functions, and liked some of my relatives but I was dancing to a different drummer once I reached my teenage years.

I moved to Vancouver, BC at 20 and then was 3000 miles away from family again. I felt an amazing sense of freedom in Vancouver and my 20's may now be somewhat of a blur, but I had a great time. Once I moved to Toronto in 1976 I connected with a few cousins, but by then we all were involved in our own lives and there wasn't much contact.

So it was a surprise and a challenge when my cousin Howard wrote to tell me that my second cousin Eric was organizing a family reunion. I believe he was motivated after finding old films from the 40's and 50's of the Roseman family.

I decided to go even though I never have participated in events like this. To cool for that? Worried about not feeling welcome or accepted? Not sure why not, but I definitely felt like a fish out of water with most of my family when I was younger. I was the black sheep who never bought the party line, always pushing the envelope.

It was last weekend and I had a blast reconnecting. Elaine came with me and I believe she had a good time meeting my family as well. I am so glad I didn't give in to my resistance.

Here is a group shot of us all:

Aging is an interesting process. It amazes me how my perception has shifted. I no longer feel so much an outsider looking in on people I can't really relate to and instead I appreciate each and everyone of them.

Gary & Terry Spier, circa 1954

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back on Track – Creating Again!

Moving is not a fun experience, even though setting up a new place is a challenge I like. If you don't look at all the boxes in the attic, our new place is looking quite good. I've also been setting up the studio and the space is going to work well, once I can find all the things I seem to be missing. Artbeads let us choose some new beads and it was the motivation I needed to get back on track. Sheryl and I worked and made two great necklace/earring sets which are quite different from each other and include both of our favorite colors. The first one is made with a wonderful Hill Tribe Silver Bumble Bee pendant - which you can find here: http://www.artbeads.com/hts126.html. We used Sleeping Beauty Turquoise and lightweight sterling silver beads to finish the piece. The earrings are quite funky, one of our new designs with lots of little dangles. Not sure why the colors seem so different than in the necklace. The color of the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise beads are more accurately represented in the earrings: We also chose an amazing shell rectangle pendant with a green ivy pattern that reminded us of our logo. You can see the pendant here http://www.artbeads.com/shl-lp137.html. We decided to use Smoky Quartz and some of Artbeads huge collection of Swarovski Crystals in Mocca and Palace Green Opal to highlight the pendant. Their collection of Swarovski beads are at http://www.artbeads.com/swarovski-crystal-beads.html. We decided on making longer earrings to go with the shell pendant for a dressier look: We aren't doing any shows in July and August, which is a good thing given how hot it has been here. So it's a great time to create and experiment with new designs. We are also moving our website to another hosting company and are having the website design revamped. As a way to lessen the amount of product we will have to move, we are having a 40% off sale on EVERYTHING on the website. If you are interested, go have a look and email Terry (terry@magicalbeadstalk.com) with the name and product number of the piece(s) you are wanting and she will send you the cost with the 40% discount applied. There is lots there but you will need some patience, especially if you are an Internet Explorer user because the descriptions do not open up most of the time, which is why we are moving the website. Difficult to have an online business when the shopping cart is cranky and doesn't work most of the time. Disclaimer: Artbeads.com sometimes sends us products to review on this blog. We are free to choose from designated beads/findings and are free to make whatever we choose. We do not receive any compensation from Artbeads and we are expected to review their products honestly.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Changes, Changes, Changes

Seems like forever since I posted. I am in the midst of some major changes, and am taking the time to try and get through it all with as little freak-out as possible. So my apologies to those who check for new blog entries on a regular basis. My partner Elaine and I have decided to leave our house, where we have lived for the past 9 years, and move into an apartment. It is tough in this economy to run a house, especially when one of us (me!) is trying to make a living selling handmade jewelry. Things were fine until the economy tanked! So I am spending my time packing, and trying to get rid of a lot of things collected over the 9 years. I didn't realize how sentimental I truly am. I remember who gave me the little something I just can't part with, or the tons of books, cds and dvds I've collected. When my mother died in 2007 I kept all her china and it's been sitting in the basement ever since. It seems particularly difficult to sell her things, even the things I don't particularly like. I think I will need more time for that to happen. And then there is my studio......it's packed with beads, findings, boxes, tools and many other things I can't part with. "What if I need those tools for a future project?" is said over and over again in my head. We are going to have the movers come and give an estimate on packing and moving the studio so I won't have to deal with it. Plus it's being moved to the attic, which is a lovely finished room and will be perfect as a studio. Definitely needs to be moved by a mover who is young and strong! While this is going on I am still doing shows with Sheryl, and trying to create some new pieces. I'm in the midst of a very full life and can't wait for it to calm down. I'll be back!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Fling Earrings

It is going to be 65 degrees in Western Massachusetts today - and likely 70 on Saturday. Spring is definitely in the air. Of course, living in New England, one knows that the weather changes quickly, and we could have snow next week....but for now the weather has been glorious. I am so ready for spring! As Sheryl and I get ready for the craft show season, we've been coming up with some new designs that we are very pleased with. These earrings are one of them.

As many of you know, Sheryl and I participate in Artbeads Blog for Beaders. Every couple of months or so we are given the opportunity to choose beads from different categories of beads and supplies on the Artbeads website to use in our creations. We then write an honest blog post on the process. Last time we made an amazing piece using a Murano Glass pendant that we chose from the Artbeads website. This time we chose Swarovski Crystals to use with some sterling silver chain we had to make some unique, funky earrings.

Whenever we work on the Artbeads creations together we get so excited and energized as we work together from beginning to end. We sit together at the computer deciding what components we want to look at, each of us picks beads we like and then we discuss how they would work in a piece. Once we've decided what we want to make, we send in our order and wait for the package to appear. Once it does, we are like two school girls let loose in a candy store. It really is a fun experience for us. Am i using the word "fun" too often? It best describes the process for us.

We love Swarovski Crystals, of which Artbeads has a great selection, and we especially love finding different combination's of color that we both like and find pleasing to the eye. Sheryl leans more toward Topaz, Golden Shadow colors, and I'm the blue and purple one. As you will see from the pictures the look is totally different in each pair of earrings because of the different color choices, even though the pieces are basically the same design.

Disclaimer: Artbeads.com sometimes sends us products to review on this blog. We are free to choose from designated beads/findings and are free to make whatever we choose. We do not receive any compensation from Artbeads and we are expected to review their products honestly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New England Home Show - Craft Area

This is going to be a long post. Sheryl and I were in Boston (February 24 - March 1) for the New England Home Show, which for the first time had an Artisan Aisle. We had planned on leaving about 9:30 am on Wednesday so that we could set up our booth, have a good night's sleep, and then put out the jewelry on Thursday before the show opened at noon. The show hours were brutal - 12:00 - 9:00 on Thursday and Friday, 10:00 to 9:00 on Saturday, and 10:00 - 6:00 on Sunday.

This was the week of hellish weather in New England and by the time we got there it was too late to set up so we went to the hotel, arriving at the show at 7:00 am on Thursday to set up. Turns out our booth was as far away from the doors as possible and we had to walk back and forth what seemed like a hundred times to unload. Our one smart move was that we stayed in the hotel right across the street from the show which was in the Seaport World Trade Center. We were given a reduced rate on the room because of the show and the room was lovely. Of course not until we checked out did we find out that they charge $41.00 a night for valet parking, even though we only took the van out to unload and load but I digress.

I must tell you about leaving the show the first night, which was after 9:00 pm. The wind was so strong that neither of us could make it across the street. We are not small women. The wind was so strong (gusts of 50 mph) that both of us were walking sideways, having trouble getting across the street. I felt like I was in a wind tunnel....and of course it was also raining so we got soaked - and that was just to cross the street!

Here's a picture of the street to the hotel. Wonder where we would have wound up if we were smaller?

Here is a link to the vendors that I think deserve to be noticed. Other than the first two pictures to give you an idea of the show setup, and a picture from our setup, the rest are in no particular order.

Craft Area:

The craft aisle, long view.

Of course I am starting with our display - which looked so good, although I may be a bit biased. You can visit our website at Magicalbeadstalk.com

Great hardwood lamps and vases - northernlights.com

I love the name Cynthia chose for her jewelry business - Original Cyn Jewelry.

These felted designs are gorgeous - I particularly love the trees - Shades of Nature.

Mark's furniture is unbelievable. Talk about a Master Craftsman! Far Beyond Woodworking

Beautiful clay pieces, especially the birds. Visit Flynn Clay Studio to see Sheilagh's work.

Stone Puddles is a great name for these bird baths - they are primitive and wonderful. Their display was so cool - as you can see by the photo they lugged in earth to create a realistic backyard experience. Stone Puddles

Funky paintings that made me smile - love the cows! Kim Forney

Lisa is someone I talked with a lot - one of the many fabulous jewelers at the show. Two Son Jewelry

Beautiful rolling pins in a wide variety of woods. Vermont Rolling Pins

Ted is the artist that was staying in the same hotel. His photographs are amazing, especially the ones featuring the eyes of wild animals. I loved his work. Image Artisan

This was our neighbor at the end of the aisle. His stained glass work, especially the large Green Man piece, was so eye-catching. Chippaway Art Glass

I love Bonsai Trees and it was great to see them in the show. Nature's Highlight

Food Vendors:

Pumpkin Butter to die for! Tyler's Sweet Revenge

This was the best marketing I've seen - people seemed to love the dog treats - of course we all want to buy special treats for our pooches. Annies Pooch Pops

I didn't eat any of these whoopie pies, but I looked at them a lot. I've never seen anything quite like them. ...to the Queen's Taste

I also need to mention the nut guy, who had the best nuts. I thought I had taken a picture of his booth but don't seem to have one. Heitmann's - Gourmet Nuts & Specialties


The view from our room of Boston Harbor:

Seaport World Trade Center:

Our hotel:

Boston Harbor:

We expected a lot from this show but it didn't happen. It was the first time that the New England Home Show had a craft/artisan aisle. Some did okay, but the show was not a hit for most of the artists. I decided to write a blog post about the experience with pictures and links to the artisans whose work I respect. I am hoping that folks will go and check out their websites.

There are many lessons learned from this experience. Top on the list is that it's not a good thing to mix Art/Craft Shows with other groups - no Home Shows, Antiques, Wine Tastings and State Fairs.

Sheryl and I joke about changing the name of our business, from Magical Beadstalk to Two Old Broads Beading. We definitely felt like two old broads by the time we had packed everything up and were ready to go home. What a long trip this was, and so physically demanding. Many of the home show folks were saying that they are often in shows that are nine days. Not something I would want to do, nor do I think I would survive!