Sunday, September 22, 2013

Creative Booster Shot

2013 has been a year of decisions & change for me in my 7th year making jewelry. The evolution has been swift-- from beading to wirework to metalwork, always with the goal of creating something beautiful that was/is either quirky or "different." But originality, one-of-a-kind, & handmade would remain fundamental to my satisfaction with myself & the creative process!

Beaded- Turquoise
Metal Work- Etching
Wire Work- Sterling Studs

However, the well went dry. I seemed to be drifting into other interests. I took a mental vacation from creating jewelry. Dreaming new jewelry designs became rare. I decided I needed to take my skills in new directions. So after much research, I enrolled in 2 intensive classes with 2 different masters of the craft:
Thanks to these 2 classes, I'm dreaming jewelry again! There aren't enough hours in the day:) Stay tuned...

COLOR- metal
3D- metals

Saturday, June 1, 2013


4 MONTHS!!  My last post was really end of January?!! ... and I'm not dead???

  • The annual girlfriend trip took half of February.
  • Then washing, paying bills, & organizing self took other half of February.
  • Thinking about all the fun we had took a few days.
  • Began Serious Diet.
QUESTION: So how does Serious Diet explain vacation from Blogger?

ANSWER: I have absolutely no idea- but since I stopped blogging & tweeting, I've lost 24 pounds & counting...


BUT hopefully the New Cheryl will be able to balance health with online howdies & making jewelry:) We'll see!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Surviving Winter in Seattle

To love the Seattle area for 1/3 of the year is easy. It's jaw-dropping beautiful on every horizon. However, those other 2/3's are challenging:
  • gray skies when you wake up until the sun you rarely see goes down
  • happiness for day-long "showers," since a "rain" means  mud slides & sometime flooding
  • cold weather that penetrates
  • a thriving green lawn that's not grass, but moss

I wouldn't live anywhere else! The secret to happiness here is a fulfilling job, sports, or hobby. Duplicate Bridge & jewelry making save me... AND the certainty that deeply hidden in that grim sky are majestic, tall mountain ranges I will see again in a few months on the eastern & western horizons, PLUS The Mountain (our name for Rainier) to the southeast. (DIGRESSION: In 1973 when we moved here from New Orleans, I could not understand why the traffic snarled over our 2 major floating bridges on perfectly sunny days with no auto accident reports. So I turned on the radio for the traffic update. The cause? "A sunshine slow-down over the 2 Lake Washington floating bridges because The Mountain is out!") Yep, we Satellites (I'm one of them now) don't take nature's beauty for granted!!!

So after looking out my windows for these last few months at gray wetness, the green, mossy lawn, & garden patches of brown, limp, dead flower stalks, I spent last week creating my own flowers. I hope these roses & peonies go to a good home because they're my favorite flowers, but they got me through another gray week & they won't go limp in the weather.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Artist-Gremlin Emerges

Miles (6), Vivian (9), Gus (3)
Greg & I enjoy the magic in our lives -- watching as our 3 gremlins (ages 9, 6, & 3) grow, evolve, & develop into little characters with unique likes, quirks, talents, & personalities. Then when we're exhausted from all that magic, we can leave them with our daughter & son-in-law & retreat to our quiet home to recover. It's the best of all worlds:)

By age 3, Vivi's favorite pastime was drawing. During "overnights" with us, she was clearly the early bird. We quickly learned to place papers & colored pens on the table so poor Grandma could sleep another 2 hours. Some of her creations are memorable. My Box of Treasures includes Vivi's jewelry design suggestions for me, created in GREAT detail at age 6. (Hint: You'll laugh IF you click on these masterpieces!)

Our emerging artist is now 9. Last Sunday Vivi received an award from Seattle's school superintendent as 1 of 12 finalists in Visual Arts for her drawing "Finding Flower Fairies." Then with a stage presence that floored us all, she stood at a mic before at least 75 parents to explain the inspiration for her drawing -- how she likes to build "fairy houses" & place them in the woods around their vacation home in the mountains, hoping to "catch a fairy." WOW! We were so proud of her drawing & her composure (!). But the drawing I received for Christmas is my absolute favorite. Her class was studying Klimt (Yes, 3rd graders!). Then the students were asked to draw a picture of themselves. Instead she drew all 3 gremlins-- separate, yet one. Our daughter had a copy of the picture made for us. Soon it will hang on our wall in The Place of Honor. "3 Gremlins" wins my award hands-down!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays to all!! I hope it's been a good one for you:)

I didn't really fall off the planet, although I'm shocked at the date of the previous post. Apologies to my followers. So what have I been doing?!

First, the bad news. I nursed plantar fasciitis as ordered, but since I wasn't improving, the doctor said NO WAY should I attempt fly fishing rivers on foot in remote New Zealand. (See post "How My Klutz Collection Came To Be.") So I immediately cancelled our dream trip & frankly went into a whiny funk. One night I dreamed of an etching project that got me back on track. And here it is. "Winter - Spring" is a reversible necklace - with my original designs etched on both sides of each brass panel. It's 2 necklaces in one. The chain is beautiful, coated brass by Vintaj. I made matching earrings. So this creation comes with a story that ends happily... sort of...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Size Matters

 AMAZING REVELATION: I've actually begun to enjoy the chore of photographing my jewelry-- after 5 years! Having a signature look that I rather like has helped a lot-- a close-up picture of a jewelry item placed on a blank, black background that's slightly reflective. I hope this gives my online Etsy & Zibbet shops a clean, uncluttered appearance. However, (1) I have not yet achieved this look, as Monique the Mannequin makes frequent appearances, & (2) I have not yet learned to take close-ups that also offer a sense of the item's size. For example, the top-most pic of both items shown here is a "featured picture" in both shops, but a visitor might wonder if the "3 Rays on Green" pendant is bigger than her head!

Unfortunately online shoppers don't always read descriptions & measurements. My current strategy is to use a prop in the secondary (thumbnail) pictures for each item in my shops. These prop pictures may be useful, but they're not especially attractive. (NOTE the Sharpie & the cup props.) I worry that a shopper in a hurry might leave my website of huge-looking items without even checking the thumbnails for size perspective. How do you handle this issue with your close-up product pictures? What attractive prop would offer perspective on size without detracting from my look? I'd really value your suggestions & feedback. Just post Comments below. Thank you!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How My "Klutz Collection" Came to Be

This sad saga, starts on January 1, 2012...

New Year's Resolution for 2012- Get more balance in my life, lose weight, exercise -- The Usual. So I cut back on obsessive jewelry making, played Duplicate Bridge more regularly, joined my husband in 9-holes of golf occasionally, lost a few pounds, & planned to start that Exercise Program... "soon."

August Brainstorm: Go fly fishing in New Zealand  (<== video link) this December- #1 on my Bucket List... and throw in a visit to Australia "since it's so close." That serious physical challenge would motivate me to accomplish my Exercise Program! I had 3 months to turn this body into Fabulous Fisherwoman Awesomeness!

August 26: BUT instead I flew over 2 rough stone slab steps, landing on my knees hard. Pretty bloody, but nothing seemed broken!

September 3: Then after 9-holes of golf, I could barely walk on R heel!

Medical Verdict: I'm still the klutz I always was. Plantar Fasciitis in R heel & possible bone bruise L knee.

Treatment: PT sessions & full-time $ensible $hoes.

Decision Time: Will I heal in time to do my Exercise Program & regain my strength for this rigorous trip? Is trip Go or No Go? Will trip insurance pay us if  No Go? I'm setting end of Sept as Decision Time on the trip. Indecision is the hardest part for me...

Therapy: Meanwhile, I'm wearing my new, high-tech, $ensible $hoes "all day" as ordered, doing my foot & leg stretches, & getting PT twice/week. BUT the new Klutz Collection I'm starting to post in SeattleChic, my Etsy store, is keeping me sane & makes me smile. (Sneak peek below:) Besides, when I'm feeling most pathetic & sorry for myself, I realize that many people have far worse problems to deal with. If necessary my Bucket List can wait another year.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Crystal's Ball

Meet Crystal the Cat, a mischievous, curious critter who loved 2 things -- chasing a ball of fuzzy yarn as it unravelled along the floor & perching on my warm neck while I created my jewelry. Well, the inevitable happened & here it is-- "Crystal's Ball." Why not? She's happy! I'm happy! But hopefully a generous supporter will make Crystal even happier by bringing her home from the Black Cat Ball & Auction on Oct. 27, 2012, Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA. Proceeds support Purrfect Pals' mission to provide no-kill sanctuary, foster, & hospice care for homeless cats. "Crystal's Ball" & other fine donations hope to go home with you!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'm Shameless

Before I became Shameless, I always colored within the Lines of Life. Most of my life was guided by Mamma's 11th Commandment: "If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well." BUT the corollary was a killer-- "If you don't do it well, re-do it until it's right," which I further extended to-- "If you think you can't do it well, don't even try."

Unfortunately, ART fell into that last category. I reasoned that because my training, skills, & jobs/careers involved geeky things guided by R.U.L.E.S, I could never try anything as subjective as art. So unlike most of my artist colleagues, I did not do arts & crafts as a child... unless you count coloring books, where "Excellent" meant coloring within the lines, of course.

But something happened after experiencing my varied successful, geeky careers... after feeling pride at the fine adult & mother our daughter has become... after experiencing Life... and especially after my hair turned silver. Why was I waiting to test new waters? Besides, I learned that Mamma's 11th Commandment wasn't always true. As a medical professional once told me, "If your neurosurgeon operates on your brain, you want a perfectionist. But if he cuts your grass, who cares!" That comment plus the tick-tock implications of my silver hair were incredibly freeing, and I FINALLY BECAME SHAMELESS. I embraced ART:)

So 6 years later here's the New Me, a one-woman-business designing jewelry, supporting my wonderful local customers & three online stores-- my Etsy store, my Zibbet store, & my own website/store. Maybe when age turns us silver, as a consolation prize, we lose our fear of failure. That's my excuse for the shamelessness I feel about my recently hatched, artsy self. Some of my work is classic & elegant. Some is quirky & zany. With beads, wire, & metal, I can/do take many paths into jewelry design. I’m no longer afraid to experiment in my career & fail. (That’s what recycle bins are for.) I'm convinced that SHAMELESSNESS BREEDS THE FREEDOM THAT FEEDS THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

Clearly, Seattle Chic Jewelry and Classic Beadwear are much more than my 2 business names. They track my own evolution as a person in the silver phase of my life. They represent Shamelessness & especially Freedom:)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When Is "Handmade, One-of-a-Kind" Impractical?

It's VERY hard for me to temper my "brainstorms" with common sense. Enthusiasm for the challenge too often overwhelms logic! My latest brainstorm -- an etched medallion or pendant-- is the perfect example. The etching will feature up to 4 user-specified letters &/or numbers. "User-specified" is what makes this creation very special for a customer. The copper disk pictured celebrates a couple's 50th anniversary. But "user-specified" is what will make this item a big money loser for me. Each medallion/pendant requires a handmade template of custom size & lettering. That means creating TWO pieces of art for each customer- the template & the final medallion/pendant, with each process very time-consuming. It's impossible to mass produce such items, even if I could stand to do it. (I can't!!) Dilemma: How can I charge enough to justify creating two pieces of one-use art? Who could afford me? In other words,the custom medallion/pendant I just posted is the best deal ever!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Artistic Background Noise

What's in the background when you're creating your art? Music- classical or rock? Dead silence? Active chat with friends? TV?

My work has 2 phases- design & doing. For the Design Phase, I need dead silence. I'm solving problems or pulling a brainstorm out by its roots & can't handle any distractions OR -- poof -- it's gone. When the design & all engineering problems are solved in my head, then the Doing Phase usually means busy hands & relaxed brain. My ears & brain can handle "The Closer," "The Middle," "Modern Family," "House," "The Office," & "American Idol." Yes, I'll miss crazy, brilliant House & the dangerous Southern sweetness of Brenda Lee Johnson. Help! What's a good substitute for these 2 great characters?!

On the other hand, I lose the creative use of my eyes & therefore my hands during 2 favorite dance shows- "Dancing with the Stars" & "So You Think You Can Dance" AND during designer shows like "Project Runway." My hands & beads must wait for the commercials, so I don't get much done.

I expect I'll be beading a lot as the presidential candidates face-off this fall. I don't need to watch. I know their voices well. Hearing will keep me mentally glued while my hands work in frustration, panic, fear, or what?! I wonder how that jewelry will look?

I should start writing down which TV shows I watched to create
which jewelry! I suspect the variety- from Quirky to Funny to Artsy to Dark
to Classic - probably tells you a lot about my TV habits:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Striving for "Playful Beauty"

Can a design be both playful & beautiful? Niece Valerie used these adjectives to describe my latest necklace & matching earrings. I'm thrilled because that's exactly the look I wanted. What do you think? I'll post these 2 items later today in my Etsy shop, Seattle Chic. Hope you'll check them out:)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Engineering in Jewelry Design - Really!

I'm embarrassed to admit that my former self-- the geeky Latin major turned bookkeeper turned programmer-- never spent much time thinking about art. When I did, I assumed that it required the opposite set of skills from mine, topped off with a large dose of "creativity," a nebulous term I was not creative enough to even define.

Fast forward 15 years after Greg retired & I quit my last geeky job. A well-hidden artsy side of me emerged when I decided to make jewelry. What surprises me 6 years into my learning curve as an aspiring jewelry artist is just how much engineering is involved! Some of my old geekiness PLUS a lot of bull-headed determination have helped me solve technical problems getting the designs I envisioned to succeed. Here are 2 of the most challenging examples of the marriage of engineering & art:

The challenges were many, but this was the biggest: How to create a 3D skyline that was securely attached to the background panel without bending or scratching any precious metal?

This elegant, deceptively simple-looking design was full of major challenges: How to hand-bend the twisted precious metal into a consistant-looking sine wave pattern ... fit it exactly between 2 parallel wires that were a precise distance apart so the wave made contact with the 2 parallel wires ... assure that each end of the sine wave strip would meet exactly at the top of its wave when soldered to the 2 parallel wires ... torch-solder the hills & valleys of each sine wave to the 2 parallel, straight wires ... and finally solder the rounded ring without melting the solder joints elsewhere?

All the technical issues which I continue to discover in jewelry design have given me a great respect for talented artists AND the prices they charge for their technical skills combined with artistry. I'm crawling up a steep hill toward that goal.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Riding the Inspiration Rollercoaster

For me Creative Inspiration is more like a rollercoaster than  a Bullet Train. I could structure my life around a train ride, but the rollercoaster is much trickier. I don't want to miss the rush when it comes. During the dips, I may think of nothing more inspired to do than chores, & you can believe that's the last thing I want to do! Often my favorite alternate activities (Duplicate Bridge & visiting my 3 little Gremlins & friends) seem to collide with the unexpected return of Creative Inspiration.

But Creative Inspiration is worth waiting for. I feel totally energized. Can't wait to get up, throw down some breakfast, & get started on something I literally dreamed up the night before. One idea breeds more ideas & more dreams where even engineering details get worked out. At that point I'm in a kind of zone. My creative process rollercoaster is climbing that exciting upward hill... up & up. Love it! Life is good!

I was in such a zone during January & February, which happened to coincide with 2 major trips. Readers might remember that traveling for me absolutely MUST include my beading paraphenalia. (No barking or fleas involved!) I'm still posting the many items made during those travel months.

BUT returning home meant facing my annual tax ordeal-- a major Buzz-Kill! My only inspired thought during that period was how to convince my husband that we need a CPA! BTW I think I've accomplished that mission! Stay tuned:)

But 1 week after Tax Day, I still felt drained. Creative Inspiration had shut down. How could I get it on track again?

Frustrated, I made myself sit at the workbench & start drawing "something." Anything... without editing. You might call this the Kick the Mule Inspiration method. But at some point a few ideas took form. Before I could over-think, I made a template & sawed out 2 large shapes from a piece of VERY expensive sterling sheet, hoping I wouldn't financially regret my new tactic. Then I started playing with the 14k gold-filled wire to make a design I'd sketched, which quickly morphed into something quite different! A few solder points later, you see the result. I could not have been more surprised that kicking the mule not only got it moving, but could produce a result I loved this much. "Swirl in a Hollow" hadn't yet been posted in my Etsy shop, but within 2 hours of posting on my Facebook page, I had a buyer. AKB loved the earrings.

So my new philosophy about Creative Inspiration is this-- If the Rollercoaster method isn't working, I'll try kicking the mule. But I really don't have a lot of confidence in this method yet! QUESTION: So what gets your creative braincells moving again?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DIY Taxpayers Accept Defeat

We're caving in, biting the dust, waving the white flag, calling it quits... just shy of jumping off the cliff. It KILLS me to confess this:

Next year we're hiring a CPA to do our tax return.

You might shake your head & wonder what's the big deal. That's because you don't know us/me- 43 years married to the King of DIY and unwitting convert to the title Queen of DIY. Anyone who KNOWS us... I mean realllllly knows us... will appreciate the concession this represents & might just worry about our mental health. Spend money on something we can do ourselves, even if it kills us? IMPOSSIBLE!

15 years ago Turbo Tax brought relief to our annual self-inflicted manual torture. After the 1st year of transition into TT, April 15 wasn't as much hell as before. In the early '80s, I'd had 3 tax seasons working the Help line for the IRS, where I learned how to read the tortuous language of the publications & follow the maze to fill out a form. Compared to those challenges, TT's Query method was a breeze. But sometimes the Query was ambiguous. When I didn't know how to interpret a TT question, I'd try each interpretation, then find where on the tax return TT put my answer. The location of my answer on the tax return plus some familiarity with taxes & typical forms taught me how I was supposed to interpret that Query.  I'd then make a note about it in an ongoing README file I'd Save for each successive year. I confess that I was pretty proud of myself.

Mind you, TT did not save me from the frustrating weeks gathering & organizing the data about my micro handmade jewelry business. (Yes, torching & hammering metal can be a great stress reliever!) Beginning Inventory, Cost of Goods Sold, Ending Inventory, Manufacturing Supplies, Depreciation remain curse words to me from February through April 15. But after barely surviving the organizing of this data about my teeny, tiny business, TT enabled me to put it all on Schedule C.

BUT THIS YEAR TT HAD A BUG! Yes, I learned that my personal God-in-a-Box was flawed.

After barely surviving another annual organizing effort, TT's bug almost finished me off. It kept wanting to checkmark inappropriate things related to our retirement contributions & would not retain our corrections. I dug deep into TT's bowels of worksheets, "Data Source," & "About Line x" references, but could not find whatever hidden glitch forced these incorrect checkmarks. Amazingly, every IRS form TT filled out for us appeared to have correct data. So after 2 weeks of hair-pulling & family feuds, we crossed our fingers & efiled this *!%&$ return. BUT I was no longer a True Believer. I had lost my faith in my God-in-a box.

Tonight my husband & I celebrated our After-Tax Freedom with a huge steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse! The TT fiasco gave us the final reason to throw in the towel on DIY taxes. We decided we are too old (especially after this April fiasco) to waste 2-3 months stressing out over this stuff.

We're collecting names of good CPA's on Seattle's Eastside. There's only 1 problem. Do we dump a baggie full of stuff on his/her desk & say goodbye or what? We have absolutely no clue!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Awsome Agate!

Sometimes I see a bead or stone so unique that without my knowledge my purse opens & money just flies into the seller's hands. I was totally impressed with the technical skill of the artisan who recognized the potential in this stone, & then cut it just right to capture its magic. I named it the Magic Eye stone before I even knew what stone it was. "Agate" -- What? I'm no gemologist, but I've never seen an agate like this. So Magic Eye resided in the place of honor in my drawer until I found just the right interesting, but understated stones  (dyed magnasite maybe?) to complement (not compete with) my special agate. I hope my MAGIC EYE creation finds its home around the neck of a woman who likes attention -:)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mother's Day -- May 13, 2012 -- Bring It On!

0-3 pearls & silver, gold, or copper combo
I've got the biggest collection of new jewelry designs ever for May 13! (Why?) Because we traveled 6 of the first 8 weeks of 2012. (So?) So I've beaded in airports, in cars, & during every second of "down time"! My huge stash of goodies has multiplied! Please SAVE ME FROM MYSELF and check it out:)

Each week I'll post some of my "traveling collection" in Seattle Chic, my Etsy store. As usual, each piece is my original & unusual design, all handmade.  I'll still custom-make the Family Tree pendant for moms, as creating wire & metal art jewelry remains my personal favorite thing to do with 10 fingers. 

Here's a sneak peek at a few items I'll be posting on Etsy in the next few weeks. Shopping is easy. Hope you'll stop by:)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The "Pat Down"

Some folks travel with their pets. My pets are my jewelry tools & baggies full of "projects" to keep my hands busy. Passing through security on planes & cruise ships has become relatively easy for me, after learning a few expensive TSA lessons involving my favorite hammers. Yes, it's become easy & routine ... until recently. Perhaps more airports are using the x-ray machines? But in the 2 trips I've taken in 2012, I've faced the x-ray machine 3 times. Based on physicist's warnings about this x-ray exposure to the skin, I had decided to opt out of the x-ray, if the need arose. So I did. I didn't foresee my reaction to the alternate pat-down, however.

After waiting for the "female pat-down" announcement to produce a female agent, a very stern, uniformed, female agent proceeded to explain exactly what she would do. When she completed her speech & started the pat-down, I burst into tears. Why?! That was as much a totally embarrassing mystery to me as to her! I'm a mature, married woman, have been examined inside & out by doctors of both sexes, & had a baby! I mean, what's left to examine that hasn't been examined? She stopped with a stunned look on her face, as my shoulders shook with awful crying. I couldn't help but wonder if they would confiscate all my expensive jewelry tools, just on general principles. Surely I must be a threat in some way? But fortunately, I survived this dreaded process, with much less dignity, but with tools in tact. Hopefully it would never happen again.


I've just returned from my 2nd trip & my 2nd pat-down. This time a young, sweet woman responded to the loud "female pat-down" summons. Again as she began her pat-down, I started this embarrassing crying. Why!!!??? Surprised, she stopped & said sympathetically, "Oh no! Don't cry! I'm nice." (Again, I could have crawled under the floor with embarrassment at the uncontrollable faucet in my eyes!) "What's the matter?" she asked. She sincerely wanted to know. With sudden clarity, I admitted that his process makes me feel... guilty. YES, guilty! Why? I mean, my daughter (with a loving smirk) calls me Honor Bright. I really try to be a decent person. I've never seen a bomb in my life. Then another light bulb of clarity: "I'm guilty because I'm Catholic!" Original sin & all that training about guilt in Catholic grammar school of the 1950's. Mystery solved. The TSA agent had never heard that excuse before. We both had a good laugh, as she completed the pat-down. When she was done, I hid in the corner & blew air into my red eyes, before facing my fellow passengers. I'm hoping I've had my last pat-down. But what are the odds... ? Plus I've still got original sin. UGH.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Never Travel Empty-Handed.

"Love me... Love my satchel." My friends know that traveling with me includes my satchel full of tools & bead projects. But hey, it's easier than a pet, right? So here's a visual log of my recent, 5some girlfriend trip - an annual event of non-stop gabbing, laughing, & games covering 800+ miles driving around the SW. Each jewelry creation comes with a story & lots of happy memories-- NO EXTRA CHARGE:)

While flying Seattle, WA to Phoenix, AZ:

While driving Phoenix, AZ to Laughlin, NV:

While driving Laughlin, NV to Indio, CA:

While driving Indio, CA to Phoenix, AZ:

While flying Phoenix, AZ to Seattle, Wa:

As an added bonus, I always leave a few extra beads on the floor of planes & rented vans as a tip.