The Crafting English Prof…

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What have I been working on? 18 June 2010

Filed under: jewelry — Rana Wilson @ 4:13 pm
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Well, mostly, I’ve been working on school. What with four classes, I’m a bit busy at the moment.  But when I’m not doing that, I am still making jewelry.  Still haven’t sold any from the Artfire shop, but jewelry making is something of a reprieve from real-world work for me, plus it’s fun!  I haven’t made any more contest pieces, but I have entered the Art with Heart Cycle 2 contest, and the kit looks great! I should get the kit sometime next week.  I’ve made a number of key chains in the last few weeks. Those were fun.  Actually, I made the first of the key chains ages ago, but they didn’t work out to well.  At least, not yet. I’m not quire ready to give up on that idea–key chain bracelets.  You know, to make things easier when your hands are full. So when that fell through (or, more properly, fell apart), I made the first of the more traditional key chains I’ve been working on.

The first of the "real" key chains. This is mine, with a Chinese dragon focal.

I’ve been using it for a while now, and it seems to be working out fairly well. For the next batch, I started out just trying to make something nifty, then remembered I had the animals from my nephew’s necklace left over, so I started what my friends are calling the “Safari Collection.” I’ve already managed to sell two, both to friends…

On the left, Loving Giraffes, in the center, the Lion!, and on the right, a pretty keychain I made with a fancy jasper nugget, and the Oraphant.

I’ve also been making lanyards, which has been a LOT of trial and error.  he first was actually one of my very first projects as a beader, and admittedly, it wasn’t very good.  Hadn’t ever used thread, didn’t know how to make a necklace without a clasp, it was heavy, and the silly thing kept coming apart.  I remade that one a few months ago with actual chain (bright copper, very cool looking, totally impractical) and it actually FELL apart in the middle of the hallway at SPC (managed to find all the beads, though… go me!) By that time a friend had requested a lanyard, and I had already been using thread for bead-weaving, so I much more comfortable with it.  And really, for lanyards, it works SO much better than anything else…

The top images are the lanyards I created for a friend, and the bottom are mine--on the left, the frog focal, and on the right, the flowers...

Since those lanyards, I’ve made a few more, and I’m actually designing one for my best friend now (who just got a new job, go Ame’s!), and I have a plan I want to try for my other BF–Sara the nurse.

I’ve also been working on some earrings, and hope to get pics made and have the pieces posted on my Artfire page.  And I’m in the middle of an African Helix bracelet.  I found a tutorial for it from Auntie’s Beads designer Karla Schafer (here). Here’s some pics:

On the left, the current bracelet in progress (you have to build it on a pencil or dowel); on the right, a completed bracelet I made for my sis-in-law...

I love this stitch.  It’s kind of a pain in the butt to work, since you have to build the bracelet on a wooden dowel (I used Karla’s suggestion to use a pencil, and I’ve since marked out the inches on the pencil, so I can more easily control how long the finished product is.  A full bracelet, though, takes the whole pencil.) And, you have to pull each stitch WAAAAAAAAAAAAY tight, so when I get to finishing off the bracelet, I’m going to try wrapping my index finger in medical tape, to protect it from the thread (yeah, I got thread cuts… in fact, I had to stop working on it to let my finger heal up, and then got sidetracked by homework… :() I’ve also tried a pair of earrings, and I’m going to continue that effort, since the first pair ended up being completely different lengths (that’s why I scored inches on the pencil…)

So there ya have it–the major projects I’ve been working on… School’s out in  about a month, so I’m hoping to have more time to work on some things. I have a lot of ideas floating around inside my head, and they tend to not leave me alone until I get them created. Very annoying….

Have a great day!



Art With Heart Viewer’s Choice Contest!!!!! 9 June 2010

Filed under: jewelry — Rana Wilson @ 7:16 pm
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Hey there!  Please vote for my piece in the Art With Heart Viewer’s Choice Contest!  There are a lot of gorgeous entries, and I’m a bit humbled by the company I get to keep… but hey!  You’re reading my blog, so vote for me!!! 🙂

The voting page is here, and my piece is number 17. I’ve included more pics below.  Voting ends on June 16th!




End of Term Mania 1 May 2010

Well, the end is nigh. the end of the session, that is.  And as usual, I can’t get motivated.  So instead, I started working on a beading project!  Cuz, you know, I don’t have ENOUGH work, let’s make more! I mentioned in my last post that I had finished the piece for the Art with Heart contest, but the piece I ultimately created wasn’t AT ALL what I had originally planned.  Normally, I’m okay with that.  But this time, the idea of the original design just will not leave my head! The original plan was to have the cab-and-filigree focal hanging from a beaded arrow-shaped bib-type necklace thingy… I can see it in my head, I promise. And it was awesome!  But as I worked on that piece, as will often happen, I just kept changing my mind and redesigning. So I ended up with the crazy cuff-type bracelet instead (speaking of that piece, I still need to name it.  I suck at names…)

So, this idea is stuck in my head, and I’m trying to realize it in actual beads.  I’ve started with a square stitch, done in sections to make it good and tight.  It’s about 4 inches long, and every few rows, I’m decreasing it by a few beads.  The kinda fun part about this one, though, for me, is that I’m literally using every color seed bead in size 11 that I have.  All of them.  Even the black.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but the more I play with it, the cooler it looks. Now, to consider the focal.  I have a vague idea that I’d like to play with the skulls (I have a lot of skull beads.  I love them… apparently, it’s kinda my thing…), but I really want to do all the shades of pink with my little wooden skulls.  Another project I can see in my mind, and let me tell ya, it looks cool.  But what to do with this one?  Since I’m totally not sure, and I have a feeling this will be an ongoing, evolving project, I’ll just have to keep pondering. In the meantime, I have a request for a lanyard I need to ponder, and several sets of essays and whatnot to grade over the next week.  Oh, and lets not forget getting ready for summer session! oi….



Pricing myself… 29 April 2010

Filed under: jewelry,Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 10:55 am
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Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking… that’s NOT what I’m talking about… What I AM talking about is pricing my work. Whether it’s my work as a resume writer, my work as an employee and professor, or my work as an artisan, I have trouble pricing myself.

For example: It took me, quite literally, years to figure out what I should charge for my resume services.  I knew what the company I used to work for charged (thousands….) and I knew I was good at my work, but what to charge?  And more importantly, what will people pay? I finally hammered out a price list that I feel comfortable with, and I have it in writing on my resume business cards. Unfortunately, I still have trouble sticking to it.

Another “pricing” issue I have when it comes to myself is when I’m looking for a job… you know, that part in the interview where they ask the dreaded, “well, how much are you looking to be paid” question? I hate that part. I suck at that part.  Thankfully, in academia, that’s a moot point, as it pretty much depends on what level of education you hold.

And finally, the problem I’m having most often lately, is deciding how much to charge for a certain piece.  For example, earrings.  I love to make earrings, because for the most part, it’s an immediate gratification kind of a craft. Unlike bead weaving, where the piece takes shape over several days sometimes, I can make a nice pair of earrings in about 15 minutes to an hour, usually.  And I think I make some pretty kick-ass earrings.  But what to charge for something that is, to me, an easy craft? Yes, there are the purely logical concerns–how much did I pay for the supplies, etc., but that doesn’t reflect the skill required to put the piece together, or to imagine how this bead will look with that chain and that focal and toss it all together in the melting pot of my brain. That’s where I begin to have issues.  After I figure out the purely logical stuff–you know, in order to make a profit, I have to charge at least x amount of dollars to cover the cost of the piece, what do I then charge for my time and skill? That’s my concern…

Consider, I don’t want to overprice a piece, because then it will never sell, and no one will ever see the work, and I would ultimately rob myself of any other sales.  But at the same time, I don’t want to underprice a piece, making it seem, in the eyes of the consumer, to be “cheap.” How does one hit on the happy medium? Well, so far, I’ve relied on my best friend and her husband, basically asking questions like “How much would you pay for this?” For earrings, I’ve settled on a fairly simple stratagem of starting with a base of $10, and then, depending on how complicated and involved a piece is, going up from there.  But what about necklaces?  And bracelets other than the elastic variety? Those pieces are more time-consuming to make, and to plan.  And bead-weaving?

I have a bracelet I recently made for the charity beading contest Art with Heart over at the Beads-n-Blessings blog… it’s a rather fussy and involved affair of woven Toho’s and delicas (I think I love delicas) with bugles and fringe and a cab and filigree focal (pics later, still need John at Paparazzi Entertainment to take ’em for me…).  It’s a beautiful bracelet (although Amy did say it was over-the-top 80s but awesome) and I don’t think I’ll sell it, simple because I don’t really want to part with it just now.  Several weeks worth of work and planning went into it’s creation.  And although I’m not planning to sell that piece, several people have asked “how much?” Which is really what brought me to finally writing this article.  I created the piece mainly to see if I could, and because I enjoyed it. How do I put a price on that enjoyment?

So, as I continue to struggle with this whole concept of pricing, while I also devoutly wish someone would just come do it for me, I’m trying to keep track of the things I can control easily–like the cost of supplies (got all my receipts in a file folder. whoo-hoo! LOL) In the meantime, I’m just going to continue enjoying beading and learning new techniques, and worry about the rest of it later.



Use the Muse IV & a sneak peek of the piece I created 20 April 2010

Filed under: jewelry — Rana Wilson @ 2:49 am
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So I entered this contest a few months ago, called “Use the Muse,” created by Scarlet Lanson at “The Beader’s Muse” and sponsored by one of the most awesome beading sites I’ve found, Artbeads. The premise is that you receive a kit full of sheer awesomeness in the bead realm, and this very cool Muse piece, but you can’t reveal what the muse is until all is said and done…

Still something of a novice beader, I nevertheless thought it would be fun to try.

The detail of the sectional spiral rope.

So there it is.  A sneak peek.  Now, having never woven beads at all, I decided to try my hand at spiral rope (I’ve never even made a daisy chain…).  I created what I’m calling a sectional spiral rope, to try to incorporate some of the kit beads, and a few beads I had on hand already, and give it a bit more interest. I have to say, I’m rather proud of this piece, and I had a blast making it. So much so, I’ve entered another contest, I’m learning more beading stitches (I really like square stitch and African Helix), and I can’t wait for Use the Muse V…



Well, the Muse was revealed last week, along with the winners. As expected, I didn’t win, but then, that’s not why I participated either. So, no foul. The Gallery of all the designs can be found here. I admit, I’m rather in awe of the company in which I find myself with this contest.   This group of artisans is phenomenal in their ability to see the possibilities in the muse piece.  Here are some full pics of my piece:

A Leaf Falls

Detail on the muse, the drops, and the beaded flower focal.

I really love this piece. It’s my first asymmetrical piece, and my first piece really incorporating a variety of styles…

Take a look at the gallery, and have a great day!  ~RLW


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