Friday, July 31, 2009

Peyote Stitch as a Meditation

I consider the creative process meditative, whatever the medium, especially when the process flows naturally without much conscious thought. Repetitive processes particularly take on this aspect. If nothing else peyote stitch is repetitive.

I started playing with free form peyote stitch over 20 years ago. It is something I have come to and gone away from over the years. When inspired by the little beads or wanting to engage in a repetitive process bringing order to the chaos of the loose beads and the world around me.

The last time I spent much time creating these pieces was in September of 2001. I came home from the office on the 11th. I had been painting in the evenings to relax and escape the stress of the corporate rat race. That evening my focus was not on painting, I turned to those tiny beads and began stitching them together. For sometime after that I spent my evenings and weekend free time stitching beads together one by one into beautiful and colorful objects of art. The pieces came together one bead at a time with little conscious thought. After a while I realized this process was my way of gaining control over my small piece of the world as everything was seemingly falling apart. The little creations brought order and beauty into a chaotic world.

Recently I acquired a mass of Czech glass beads from a friend and fellow artist that decided she wouldn’t be using them any more. I started listing them in my Etsy shop to share with those whom share the passion for small shiny colorful glass beads. As the photographing and listing progressed I remembered creating these free form peyote stitched pieces in the fall of 2001.

I decided to play around with this process again. Focusing on the process, thus in the present moment, no attachment to the out come, allowing the creativity to flow without any more direction than stitching the next bead in place. One at a time the objects grow from a random pile of beads into colorful forms with eye-catching patterns that sparkle in the light. Time passes without notice.

I particularly like the ‘free form’ aspect of this work. I begin with an idea; however never end on the same idea. As the piece progresses new directions develop. Another color catches my eye or an idea for a different pattern emerges and therefore I switch. Increasing or decreasing the bead size, narrowing or expanding the form, adding an appendage or combining two pieces together it is all par for the course. I enjoy the flexibility of creating this way; what ever comes out in the end is right, perfect, and just the way it is supposed to be. There is something very Zen in the meditative repetition of the process and something Taoist in allowing the piece to unfolding and reveal itself on its own terms. Frequently I am amazed myself at what comes from simply allowing.

Below from right: 1) 2 bracelets in progress. 2) The latest completed free form sculpture. 3) A work in progress

Friday, July 17, 2009

Etsy Shop Set Up - How to

Opening an Etsy shop? Its a great idea!

I have been maintaining 2 shops on Etsy for over a year now. One sells beads, jewelry supplies etc. and the other my finished creations made with beads, origami and other media I choose to work with. I learned a lot about Etsy by trial and error, research and stumbling on short cuts. A quote to embrace from the start is ‘If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to fix it’. The navigation on Etsy is cumbersome in regard to finding and editing your posted listings; therefore it is best to get it right or really close to right the first time.

One thing to consider before you begin. Your Etsy user ID cannot be changed. Your ID should be the same as your shop name to avoid confusion with your shoppers. And another consideration keep your shop name to 14 characters or less. tags in Etsy are limited to 14 characters, it is a good idea to put your shop name in one of the tags, if your shop name is longer than 14 characters (which one of mine is) you will not be able to enter it as a tag. I will get into this more further down. If you prefer to sell under one name and buy or chat under another I would suggest setting up two user IDs.

When considering your shop name make it catchy, easy to remember and relate in some way to what you plan to sell in your shop. If you plan to sell items that are different or unrelated consider selling them in two different shops. This will help make a cleaner shopping experience for your buyers overall. I have shoppers come to my beads shop and then look to see what I have done with the material I sell in my shop with finished goods. Referring your customers between your shops is always a good idea.

Next you will need a shop banner and an avatar for you user ID. Your avatar needs to be 75 x 75 pixels, your banner 760 x 100 pixels. Your banner is your branding, it will appear at the top of you shop pages. It should have your shop name and a tag line. You can look through shops on Etsy for ideas. Your avatar will also appear on each shop page in the right margin. If you do not know how to create your banner and avatar there are many talented graphic designers on Etsy that can do this for you for a modest fee.

Now you have you shop name, banner, avatar now set up a shop by following the prompts after clicking the ‘Sell’ link at the top of the Etsy home page. Once you have done that will need to populate information to the following links that appear on the left side of your ‘Your Etsy’ page. Begin with:

Public Profile – Here you will up load your avatar, enter the country and state/region you will be selling from, pin point your location on a google map, give a bio about yourself, your gender and birth date, a list of your favorite materials and select if you want to display favorite items in your profile. Click save changes when all info is filled in. The go to the following link.

Appearance (the first link under shop set up) - Enter your shop title. This should be search tags as this line is read by search engine spiders, therefore a message or greeting here will not help drive traffic to your site. You shop title should be things like: jewelry, baby items, soap, etc. use words people are likely to searching the net by. These words will appear right under your banner. Next upload you banner image. Then write your shop announcement. I suggest keeping your shop announcement short so that people viewing your shop will see pictures of products without having to scroll down. Details and additional information can be placed under policies section. Now select you alchemy status, alchemy is Etsy way of saying custom I know this is confusing, but I didn’t choose the name. Allowing private requests allows someone to contact you privately regarding a custom job. Under Alchemy Announcement you will put information you customers will need to know regarding placing a custom order with you. I.e. colors or styles available, how long custom orders generally take, etc. Save changes and move onto the policies link.

Policies – Here you will write you welcome greeting in the ‘welcome’ box. Under that you can advise you customers of you payment policies. Under that your shipping information. Followed by your refund and exchange policy and finally there is a place for any additional information you want tp have available to you customers. Save changes.

Sections – You can have 10 sections in your shop on Etsy. If you think you will use that many plan carefully so that you will have sections that will encompass all your items. Section titles should be search tags as well. Something else to consider, if you set your sections up using the ‘sections’ link on the ‘your Etsy’ page your section titles will be limited to about 25 characters. If you require longer titles I suggest NOT setting up your sections here, there is a link for you to ‘create new section’ on page 4 when listing an item, I will go into that in that section further on. If 25 characters is plenty for you the set up your sections now. Remember to save you changes, if any before moving onto shipping options.

Here you can create shipping profiles for items in your shop. You may want to set them up by weights or by size or by price of the goods sold. These profiles can be selected when your listing an item making populating shipping information easy, quick and consistent.

Payment Method – Follow the prompts to select the methods of payment you are willing to accept. Remember to save.

Vacation Mode – Selecting ‘vacation on’ will make all the items in your shop inactive. You can populate a text box with a vacation announcement and another text box with automatically reply to convos sent to you while on vacation.

Web Analytics – When you set up a google analytics account the tracking ID is entered here.

Once all of this is completed your ready to begin listing product to your shop! For listing you will need up to 5 photos of your item. Take clear pictures in uncluttered settings from multiple angles. Remember this is the only way for your customer to experience your item. Crop your photos tight, be sure your 1st photo you will be using for each listing looks good as a thumbnail image. Once you pictures are cropped and loaded into your computer your ready to begin listing.

On the left side of the ‘your Etsy’ page under the ‘items’ heading click the ‘add item’ link. You will first be asked to enter a title.

Title – This line is read by search engine spiders therefore the title should contain words that would be used to search in search engines.

Description – Describe your item. Size, color, weight, shape, condition, material used to make it and any other pertinent information you customer may need to know to make a decision.

Materials – List the materials used in making the item. Click next the category page will appear.

The first selection will be the best overall category your item fits into. Possible suggestions for the next category will appear. Select anything that applies to your item. Remember you have 14 ‘tags’ here include size, shape, colors, your shop name. Does your item relate to day or evening? Is it formal or casual? Does it relate to a holiday or a season? Include anything that accurately describes or relates to your item and may bring in potential buyer. Click next the ‘selling info’ page will appear.

Selling Info - First on this page is price – remember not only time and cost in creating your item, but also listing fee, PayPal fees, packaging costs and any other non direct cost associated with selling or shipping your items.

Enter price

Enter quantity available, remember you will be charged the number of listing fess as quantity entered. I.e. 20c fee, 5 items available = $1.00 fee.

Section – Select a section from the drop down menu if you set up sections previously. If you have not click the ‘Add New Section’ link. A section title will open up. Here is where you can enter a section title with seemingly unlimited characters.

Shipping – You choose a saved shipping profile from the drop down menu or set up a new profile from the link to the right of the drop down menu. You can also manually select country of origin and ship to countries and prices if you prefer. Simply follow the prompts. Click next. The ‘images’ page will appear.

Images – Click ‘choose file’ select file to be uploaded. Click up load. Repeat this up to 4 more times to load your item photos. You can use the blue arrows under the photos to change the order of the photos. Click next when done uploading photos. The preview page will appear. Review your listing, if you need to make any changes use the edit icons. When done, click finish and your item will be live in your shop on Etsy.

I will be posting other tips, info, promotions ideas and more so check back. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. See Contact Me to right.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Generosity - Dana Paramita

The Dana Paramita, the perfection of generosity, is the first of the six paramitas. Perfect generosity requires selflessness, non-attachment, boundless openness, trust, non-judging and so on.

I was touched this weekend by the spontaneous acts of generosity began from one simple post. I asked on Twitter who else out there loaned via I didn’t hear back directly from anyone, however not long after I saw a post from a Facebook (FB) friend that he had made a loan to a women in Guatemala and there was $225.00 left to fully fund her loan. I signed into Kiva and saw more than half that amount had already been loaned so I completed the loans funding and messaged my friend. He reveled to me in his return message that he had taken part of 3 loans that morning. It was exciting to see how that post triggered this action, I posted the question out of curiosity, I saw someone in action. Touched by this event I then saw a FB friend post that she would be giving away $100.00 to someone that needed it, no need to explain why. Simply add your name to a list from which the person would be selected at random. I referred a friend that was truly in need. He didn’t get his name on the list within the pre-set time so he missed out on the drawing. However the person extending the offer felt that my friend really needed the money and said she would send him $100.00 too. This selfless act extended to a stranger that simply stated they could use the help, no explanation necessary.

Beyond this I’ve learned of others initiating Kiva loans that were sparked by that post, a group on one site to pool resources to make loans to entrepreneurs around the world. Not knowing who else may have picked up on the posting and took action themselves makes me wonder once again at how simple actions can spark small fires that one-day could be fires ablaze with awakening.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Phoenix Heat - July 10th update

Busy and hot week here in Phoenix. With temprature prediction being 110 and above for the next few days I will be staying inside folding paper and bending wire to make more of my newest origami ornaments.

These are receiving wonderful comments. When my friend, fellow Etsian and Conspire cooperative art gallery artist, Michelle Dittrich , first encountered one of the ornaments she said “I became a cat” as she entertained herself by spinning the star with her index finger. Lynn at the Southwest Gardener smiled with delight when she first saw one and asked how soon could she have some for her shop. Well I spent the evening folding and bending, now there some on display under the umbrella by the register. If you go to Southwest Gardener tell Lynn I said HI and she will give you $1.00 discount if you buy two of my ornaments. Can’t get to Southwest Gardner? Stop by my Etsy shop buy two ornaments, mention this blog post in message to seller on check out and I will refund you $1.00. …Curious about seeing the ornament in action? See below.

More excitement in Phoenix this week! I got my first Phxbux! Phxbux is local currency that was kicked off on July 4th in the downtown Phoenix area. When purchasing something from a participating merchant you can request your change in Phxbux, your bux then can be spent at participating merchants for a discount. Local jewelry artisans are casting this local currency. You can read more about them and the bux at

Now I'm off for something cool to drink and get to production.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Origami Spinning Star Ornament

These origami star mobile ornaments have been a very popular item and a lot of fun to make. With some basic jewelry making supplies/tools, beads, origami paper and cutting tool you have all you need. I have taught several classes on how to make these and now will share the process here. For this project you will need:

Origami paper

Lightweight paper board

Craft knife of scissors


Anchor bead/pendant


Bead wire

Crimp beads

Crimp pliers or pin nose pliers

Wire cutters

Non wrinkling paper glue

Pen or pencil

In this demonstration I am using 150mm x 150mm origami paper I have cut into quarters.

Begin with folding 5 points for your origami star. See Folding Origami Star post for direction on folding the points to your star. Do not assemble begin with step one below.

Take one of the points you just folded; use it to trace the shape you will cut out of paperboard for reinforcement, see photos. Use the first point as a template to cut the remaining 4 inserts.

Fold all paperboard points in half

Layer a paperboard point inside the flaps on one point as shown.

Place the next point over the paperboard. Spread glue on interior point.
Fold flaps over.

Repeat this step until all 5 points are joined.

Cut a 10” length of bead wire string crimp bead, anchoring bead and seed bead onto wire. Bring tail of wire up through ancho bead and crimp bead leaving a 1/2" tail, crimp.

String on about 1" of decorative beads.
String origami star onto wire through hole at center.
String on seed bead and crimp bead - seed bead to prevent crimp bead from falling into star - crimp. This will keep the weight of the beads above the model from crushing it or prevent it fom spinning.
Sting on a few more inches of beads leaving a 3" tail. Sting on crimp bead.
String between an inch to an inch and a half of beads. Bring tail back through crimp bead pull tight and crimp.
Finished ornament.

Folding an Origami 5 Point Star

This is a modular origami model, meaning multiple models folded from separate sheets of paper are put together to form the finished model.

Begin with 5 square sheet of paper

Fold paper in 1/2 on the diagonal, unfold
Fold one edge to center line as shown, repeat on other side.
Turn model around and fold short side into center line
completely unfold
Fold along the diagonal crease line that does not continue to the edge of the paper, repeat on opposite side
Turn model around and fold short side into center line
Unfold last two creases, then reverse fold along the crease lines indicated in photo
Your model will now look like this:
Repeat these steps 5 times

Assembling the Star

Slide one model in to the other model as shown. Tuck flaps inside the inserted model.

Continue to inter lock models until model is complete.
Slide the last point into first point, fold in flaps thus completing the star