Eccentric Spirit

Betsi Goutal's blog about art journaling, life as an Etsy seller, and other crafty goodness

May 12, 2014
by Betsi

Crafty haul from The Scrap Exchange in Durham NC

…Or, as my sister put it, my “swag report”. Last Saturday I visited one of my favorite places in The Triangle, Scrap Exchange. (Previously mentioned here.) I scored oodles of goodies, at prices ranging from “quite reasonable” to “OMG WOOOHOOO”. So, would you like some eye candy? Of course you would.

crafty goodness ♥

Here’s a lovely sampling – a big honking bag of blingy trims, luscious iridescent vintage “raspberry” beads, three wee jars of glitter in scrummy irregular flakes, winged heart cabs that appears to be hand cast resin of some kind, and a tiny avalanche of assorted metal findings.

They have those clear vinyl zipper bags that bedsheets come in, which are filled with trims sorted roughly by color. When I saw this one it was all I could to from squealing “oooh, bling!” right out loud. Not that most of the shoppers or volunteers at TSE would have been surprised in the slightest by such an outburst. The raspberry beads have lovely sparkle to them between their shape and the aurora borealis finish on them. I think they will want to be sealed though, they are a bit fragile as is; but I plan to use that to my advantage and split some of them into teeny cabochons. Do you see those prices on the glitter? Two bucks for the green, twenty-five cents for the turquoise, and 50 cents for the silver. They are pretty awesome, not the square or hexagonal shape of most glitter but random bits that look more like glass glitter.

craft haul from The Scrap Exchange

Ok, why they heck did I spend good money on old, partly used up polymer clay? First, it was cha-cha-cha-cheap! Fifty cents for full or mostly full 2 oz bricks, and a quarter for the pieces more like one ounce. Almost a pound and a half of various clay for $6! Technically $4.80 because of my Friends membership. And yes, some of it is old and crumbly, but there is method to my madness. Jupiter beads, y0. Fanci posted about them recently and I fell in love with the crackled rocky look of them. Of course, mine look nothing like hers, or like the ones shown in the Jupiter beads tutorial she linked to. But I am crazy about them nonetheless and needed a fresh infusion of not-so-fresh clay. As a newbie clayer (apparently the term for those of us with polymer clay fever) most of my clay is very new, and it’s old and crumbly clay that works best to get the gorgeous textures of Jupiter beads.

Lampwork Glass Shell and Metal Bead Mix

And then there is this awesome grab bag of beads! A mix of glass (some of it lampwork), metal, and shell beads. Oh, and wood too! I didn’t even see that til I posted this picture. Four bucks for the bag didn’t strike me as a steal exactly, but certainly a fair price to pay. Lookit those yummy blues and browns. Mmmm.

More later, when I find the time (and table space) for more pictures. But for now it’s off to play with my new toys. Catch y’all latah! (this is my Bostonian-transplant-to-NC sign-off …apparently.)

April 28, 2014
by Betsi

Yet more polymer clay bead makings

Last week my wrist started twinging on me somethin’ fierce. Not sure exactly what set it off; I’ve been playing with polymer clay a lot lately, it’s the obsession of the moment over here. That started it, I think, and then a marathon session of vacuuming clinched it. I’ve been trying to take it easy since then but today it’s flaring up again and I am thinking I need to find some way to keep myself from creating until I can get the poor thing fully rested. I cannot even begin to describe how deeply I do not want to do this. But even typing this is giving me the twingies (not to be confused with Twinkies) sooo I think it’s gonna have to be the plan. I had gone easy on it for the better part of a day or two, but I just couldn’t help myself. And ow.

So I am going to console myself with sharing some pics with y’all. I’ve been deep in Etsy convo nerd-out with my new pal Brooke of ArtisticEndeavors101, and so I have some around-the-studio goodness I can share without even having to take new ones. Easy on my wrist and gives me a chance to show off. Please tell me what you think, I will happily accept “I like them!” and will be thrilled to pieces with like constructive criticism and discussion. I need more artsy-fartsy craft-nerd pals!

Polymer Clay Beads and Pendants

Lots of finished beads, or nearly-finished at least. I am thrilled with the two most prominent ones, the heart and the dotty loop. The dots on that are from an embossing folder, and then hand-painted with alcohol inks and sanded, buffed, crackled, antiqued, lathered, rinsed, repeated… Other cool things… the bead diagonally up and right from the heart is like the swirly beads on a rack when you scroll down from here, only with texture added and then crackle-antiqued with the madly fabulous (madabulous) technique from Staci Louise. Ancient Artifacts: The Crackle Glaze Technique for Polymer Clay - it is awesomesauce with a cherry on top, I highly recommend it. Though I must say, every time I refer to something as being “crackled” I think of The Lego Movie and I’m like “Crackled! not Kragled!” in my head. My head is a weird place. Also, excellent movie! Go see it if you haven’t! Uh. If it’s still in theatres which I guess it isn’t. But seriously, I saw it twice and I almost never ever see a movie more than (maybe) once in the theatre.

Polymer Clay Works In Progress

Enough with the Lego tangent. Here are some more theeengs, as Fanci would call ‘em. Various beads just krag– er, crackled, and waiting to be antiqued to bring out the details. They have since had that layer done, but this is the photo I have on my computer already and I’m lazy. I am crazy about that tan-multicolor one in front there, I love how both the color and the texture worked out. I’m not totally sure I could replicate it. Reproduce it. Remake it. Do it again. (I’ve been reading Marina’s blog again, can you tell from the devil-may-care manic rambling??) The texture started out from an embossing folder again, but they were uniform circles and I got some great distortion there to get a wonky look to the pattern. I love wonky. Wonky is awesome. Other beads pictured here are textured with other embossing folders and some rubber stamps as well. I am thinking I should have distressed them a bit more to bring out the detail but they are glazed now so I dunno. I might try it. Dumdeedum… oh! Yes, right, also you can mostly only see it on the pinky-purple one, but I used some iridescent glitter on some of these. An experiment.

Swirly Polymer Beads

The aforementioned swirly beads! These are, I think, the first culprits of the wrist-hurty. I remember loving how they were coming out but feeling ouchie-in-da-wristy and thinking I should lay off. And making more. And more. They are addictive. I like them, they remind me of marbled paper. Should I do a tute on these? I feel like I’ve seen beads like them, but when I went looking for an example I couldn’t find them. The closest I found were done with mokume gane or canes, and this is a veneer. Sort of. Mostly. Idk, I am still learning polymer clay. So it kinda seems insane to even consider making a tutorial. On the other hand, they be soooo purty. And I’d love to share the info (and ok, make a few bucks mebbe) but I don’t want to go to the bother if no one wants it, y’know? Like, maybe I just accidentally re-invented something everyone knows already, or it’s only a slight variation on existing technique… Oh! Btw, this pic was actually taken about as much to show off my rack (wait, what?) as the beads. This metal baking rack thingy is from Amaco, and I love it. I bought one on Amazon and really liked it, and have been thinking of investing  in another since I often use it for drying as well when painting/distressing them and such. But it’s a bit pricey at $20-$25 a pop. And then I was at Michael’s just browsing and lo and behold they were on clearance! Like, epic clearance, $5.99 each. I ended up buying all three my store had cuz dude that still came to less than the cost of one at retail price. Happy dance!

Polymer Clay Bead Stash

Handmade Polymer Clay Beads

Two more shots of essentially the same bead stash shown in the first picture, but trying to show off a few other beads/angles. I am very happy with the light purple twisty one. And the long green stick one. And oh mannnn… I gotta stop looking at these, I wanna play with clay! But my wrist says NO. So it’s packing up some orders from my supply shop and off to the post office and other errands, I think. Driving is less taxing on my wrist.

What’s your favorite bead here? Any questions on particular doo-dads? Speak up, y’all!

April 12, 2014
by Betsi
1 Comment

How to Find Awesome Stuff on Etsy

The title of this post should probably be “How to Waste an Entire Afternoon/Paycheck on Etsy” but that doesn’t sound nearly as fun, does it? Ok, it kinda does. Whatever. I haven’t posted in ages and I had this post mostly written already. So! My own personal tips and tricks for hunting down awesome stuff on Etsy, whatever your definition of “Awesome” happens to be. (HINT: sellers could also probably use this to generate marketing ideas by sort of reverse-engineering these tips.)

As I was trying to figure out how to list the various ways I browse on Etsy and I realized that basically I’m doing that “If you like this item, you might also like…” thing that a lot of shopping sites do. Only I’m doing it in a roundabout way, because for the most part Etsy doesn’t do that. They show other items from the same shop on the right-hand side of the page when you’re looking at an item, and they try to show you similar stuff to the item you’re viewing. Also, if you follow a link to an item that has expired or deleted (not sold, mind you) you will get some similar items from various sellers. Trouble is, it’s not exactly easy to find expired listings. In fact, it’s kind of a pain in the butt.

The easier way is stalking people… I mean, er, information crowd-sourcing. Yeah. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Anyhow, start with an item you like. On the right side of the item page right under the lime green Add to Cart button there’s the Favorite button, and next to it a little speech-bubble looking thing with a number in it. That’s the number of other people who like it.

Etsy Like

Click that number and you’ve got yourself a handy-dandy list of people who have at least some overlap in taste with you. In this example you see a pair of silk and wire wrapped earrings by my new Etsy pal Brooke, of ArtisticEndeavors101. Aren’t they snazzy?

Etsy Like 2

You can see a preview of the last four things each person favorited. Continuing my example, you see that this pretty blue stoneware coffee mug and these gorgeous blue and white lampwork beads caught my eye straightaway. And then the total number of things they’ve liked; click on the number to browse around and dig up more cool finds. You can also click the link that says “follow” to add that person’s favorites to your activity feed if you think they have really great taste; when you do, all their new favorites will show up in your Activity Feed.

Yet another way to be your own “If you like this, you might also like ___” widget is to look at an items tags or title for keywords you might not have thought to browse for.  For instance, you might think that the style you like is “bohemian,” but not know that it is often shortened to “boho.” Or you might be describing something as “distressed” while treasure lurk on Etsy tagged with “antiqued” “rustic” or “weathered.” (By the way, this can also be a helpful way to come up with keywords for your own items! But please, always be very sure you know what a term means before using it on your own listings; you don’t want to accidentally misrepresent yourself or your items.)

I’ve also had good luck with looking at the favorites of shop owners whose work I really admire, because if they spend a lot of time browsing Etsy like I do, they will often have found lots of nifty stuff that I’ll like. And again, if they have great taste, go ahead and follow them so all their faves show up in your Activity Feed.

Those are all my ideas for now; as you can see, my approach to finding fun inspiring new treasures on Etsy involves a lot of following, so that my Activity Feed is constantly delivering new goodies for me. If you enjoy my finds, feel free to follow me! You will see my faves, as well as new treasuries as I make them. I made tons of them in the past day or so, as I’ve been working on this post. Check out Deep Blue Beauties, which includes the items in my example above. I hope you enjoy these ideas – happy hunting!

February 13, 2014
by Betsi

Pictures around my studio, jewelry WIP, and assorted nonsense

So I was going to title this something else even more inane but I thought of something better. But before I had there was this long-winded ramble about how I didn’t care (though apparently I did) and I was going to cut the whole thing but it ended up with this cute little meta-ramble bout how I was rambling and I wanted to keep it so I figured I’d just ramble a new ramble and hey look at that, [original text starts.... NOW!.. ok, after the closed-bracket] …and I’m rambling! What a shock. I’ve been told that my rambling is one of my nicest qualities, but the source may have been biased. And come to think of it, out of context it just sounds like said source is giving me a helluva back-handed compliment. Whatever. Comes from some one who enjoys a good ramble and loves me lots.

And now I am editing more hyperactive babble down to the essentials: …Holy Run-On-Sentence, Batman! My point is, I have been lazy and not getting around to it and now that I’m supposed to be getting on a plane in less than 24 hours I am putting off finishing packing instead so here I am posting on my blog. Go me! Or something.

Round TUIT, set of 4 ceramic pendants

(Hey, check it… I needed some images to interest this post up a notch and I was all “getting around to it” which made me think of the old “get a round tuit” joke so I poked Etsy for an example and BAM, round tuits in much the earthy/hippie/handmade/funky/grungy/yo mama style I’m digging lately AND they are made by a seller right here in my beloved North Carolina. Sweet!)

In theory, this means I should just aim to always have lots on my plate so I can always be putting off getting stuff done by getting other stuff done. In practice, I think that’s probably not wise. And in fact, I’m not even that sure I have much of substance to say right now. I must have some experiments around the studio. C’mon, self, photos are not that hard, you iPhone-having nerd. Click, plug in, upload, hokey pokey. Wham bam boom. Other onomatopoeic nonsense.

And then I started taking pictures. And holy shmoly, I’ve been pretty busy! Who knew? My husband, probably. But not me. Ok, peekture tiems.

beads and stuff on my messy desk


At first I just took a quick “here’s my desk picture” which is when I started to realize just how much I’ve had going on up in here. Some details you probably can’t actually fully make out: on the left, a pile of beads I scored on Michael’s clearance. Ignore the clearance pricetags, none of those were more than $1.99. I had to restrain myself, I have 4x this much in my basket, there was way too much awesomeness on deep clearance. The box you can’t particularly see underneath is one of the things I got at my recent possibly-ill-advised-because-that-place-is-dangerously-amazing trip to The Scrap Exchange. Swirly pink shell beads and some smaller glass beads that accent. The various beads still in poly bags (and a few that aren’t) are from two recent Etsy splurges. Jeez I shop too much. Butbutbut the pretties! They are a mix of yadanabeads and Fairydustboutique. And now for some close-ups…

more bead haul and some paint experiments

Let’s see… yellow ceramic beads, neat-o metal findings from Fairydustboutique. Also most of the loose beads here, from one of her bead sampler packs. Those lampwork houses OMG, so cute. I probably never would have bought them on my own but I lurve them. The face I probably won’t use, but of the 35ish beads in the pack it’s quite possibly the only one. The various weird glittery blobs you see are all UTEE experiments in-progress. And a few things I slathered in light blue pearl craft paint, because I squirted too much out when using it on something else. I love it on the tiny frozen charlotte and the plastic filigree heart, and it’s very subtle on the howlite/”turquoise” leaf, but excellent nonetheless. They all will probably want more layers of altering before I use them. Oh! And I almost forgot that awesome little triangly round cab in the upper-right is a polymer clay experiment using a rubbing plate I got at Stone’s Education Superstore and artists’ chalks. The coloring is all chalks, the clay started out white.

polymer clay and UTEE experiments and thrift scores

And more UTEE globs, a tiny peek at the amazing chunky flower beads from the yadanabeads order, and tiny rainbowy ones from FDB. The black and white marbled ball, yellow and green focal, stripy pink-brown focal, and orange iridescent focal are ALL from a grab bag of beads at The Scrap Exchange. I have no idea who made them, and I will probably do some altering to some of them (the yellow-green already got the same pearl blue paint, but it’s subtle on the bright polymer clay). And the purple rose theeng is a bead from the amazing bead sellers at the Raleigh Flea, started out as an oval covered with shell mosaic… white/pearly on the side you see and black/abalone on the back. The rose is a random Provocraft rub-on I’ve had for a bazillion years (or more like ten) that I bought because they were super cheap on clearance but I never knew what to do with them til tonight and I spied them in the unending tide of unpackings and cruft and went AHA! (That was a long sentence. I feel all out of breath now.) I slapped it on there and “sealed” it (maybe) with crackle medium, which I’ll probably accent with purple paint all up in the cracks. Or maybe black. Or gold. Or brown.

bead mix in progress

Gosh I took a lot of pictures! Ok, they get simpler though… this one is just a shot of a bead mix I started throwing together for a new bangle stack which I won’t make until after I get back on the 26th, because I am out of my usual wire and seriously should finish packing… Sheesh. Silly me. It didn’t show up that well, but that group of four green beads in the middlish is supposed to be showing off an experiment in sanding and painting plastic beads. It worked gangbusters, I’ll have to write up more on that later. Oh, and a braided theeng. Random fibers I grabbed from around the room, just because I was inspired. I’m thinking it’ll be a section of a necklace someday. Includes some silk salvaged from a $3 blouse from Goodwill. Aw yeah, I’m crafty.

altered seashell the same altered seashell

A seashell that I swear is not this big and is the same one from two angles. I cropped all scale out of it. Oops. It’s not even two inches across, gonna make a nice focal. Found on my last trip to a beach, recently shmutzed up with UTEE and glitter and alcohol ink and crackle medium and Lumiere paints. Yep.

bead mix about to be bangles

Beads ready to be made into bridesmaid gift bangles for my cousin-in-law-to-be. Well. For her to give to her bridesmaids, anyhow. My first commission, I’m very excited! And nervous, because I know the buyer and all three… no, two of the three intended recipients. So I’m like “OMG THEY MUST BE PERFECT.” Silly inner critic. Hush. They will be perfect, cuz she wouldn’t’ve asked you to if she didn’t love your style. (IC sez: oh. right. fiiine. make sense! :P)

grungy oxidized and sanded vintage keys

Keys I altered while on Skype with my mom. Oxidized, sanded, oxidized s’more in some cases. I am shocked and pleased at how nice they look.

vintage key avalanchemageddon

Here is the avalanchemageddon of keys that I left in my wake. Just so you don’t get any kind of impression that I have some kind of snazzy organized studio. I mean, I work pretty hard at trying to keep it in some semblance of order, but yeah… when I get all “OMG I must make SOMETHING or I will EXPLODE” I end up essentially exploding anyhow, or at least causing my stash to look as if it exploded.

cute blurry me

serious in-focus me

And finally, me trying to show off my earrings from FancifulDevices because a) they were on my desk when I was in a photo frenzy and b) when I opened the package I was surprised at how big they were! Somehow her picture made them look a bit daintier and smallish. The first picture came out pretty cute of me but didn’t show the earrings much at all, then the second one was better (considering it’s 10pm so the lighting is artificial, and they are iPhone selfies from some one who almost NEVER does self portraits of any kind) but I’m all seriouslike. So you get both.

And now that I’ve spent whatIdon’teven like an hour and a damn half writing this post and it’s past my bedtime, I’m going to take those earrings and put ‘em with my suitcase to pack up in the morning and go the heck to sleep. Ciao fer now, arrivederci seeya-in-March-y.

(Or hopefully sooner but I have no idea if I’ll post while I’m away. Plus I was bustin’ mad rhymes and got all excited at how that worked out.)

February 1, 2014
by Betsi
1 Comment

Inspiration, heroes, and jewelry crushes

I’ve made reference to Marina Rios of FancifulDevices in… let’s see, yeah… the past three posts. As you can see, I’m a bit obsessed. I call her my jewelry crush. And after her comment on my last post where she was all flattered at me quoting her in the post before, I’m actually thinking I might use that quote in a bigass canvas to hang in my studio.

But did you know, I’m a freakish goofy fangirl about more folks than just Ms. Fanciful? So I think I may just have to start a series of hero worship posts. I was going to write a short round-up post but when I sat down to pick a few and send convos asking for permission to use their images in a post I realized there are just too dang many. Holy cow, there are some talented folks out there! So, while I wait to hear back from the first few people I’ll leave it for now as a “stay tuned” little heads-up and show you a few pictures of my latest experiments/works-in-progress instead. (I really need to get some of these made into actually completed items and listed in the shop, but I’m just having too much fun!)

polymer clay experiments pendants and cabs

It’s been a polymer clay extravaganza around here. Spread out over my work table, thrown into a bin to work on downstairs while I watch tv with my husband, what I think about late at night while I should be sleeping. Have I mentioned I have kind of an obsessive personality? Whatever, it means I make shiny things. (Shiny as in “cool” – a la Firefly, dong ma?)

I am indescribably pleased with this one, but I’m not sure if I can repeat it; it was so very much the product of just mucking about and trying a bit of this and a bit of that. It was also my first go and hand-polishing with sandpaper after baking. Incredibly time-intensive (like, hours of sanding and polishing, srsly) but worth it for the experience and because I’m totally keeping this one for meeeee.

polymer clay faux stone opal pendant

Notes scrawled all over them again, because I’m ever hopeful that some one will share them on Pinterest or something, and I figure some context would be good otherwise it’d just be like “what’s that pretty blob?”

Also because I’m too lazy to write up proper descriptions, because it’s time for lunch. Om nom nom.

January 29, 2014
by Betsi

silly yes, stupid no

At the beginning of the new year when I was all gung-ho about blogging more often and being more chill about it, I asked my mom to please nag me if I don’t blog. Cuz I hate it when I don’t, but I really need some one to light a fire under me sometimes. We were chatting on Facebook just now and I was telling her about how I won fancifuldevices’ giveaway (more on that in a mo’) and she was like “Speaking of blogs…..?? Where’s your eccentric spirit these days?” to which of course I was all “Yeah. I suck. It’s that whole vicious cycle of “once I don’t post for a while I feel guilty and like it has to be a great post when I post again” thing. Which is completely stupid.” Which leads me to the title of this post, cuz that’s what she said in response. Seriously though, I have like four draft posts right now. Why is it so hard to get a post published sometimes? Ugh, I hate that. Makes me nutty.

Anyhoozles, it’s been an amusing week to be my earlobes! First, I was browsing Etsy (which is seriously like 20 hours out of every week, wayyyy too many pretties to drool over!) when I spotted these gorgeous babies:

I was entranced! The rusty-crusty enamel, the shabby white washed filigree and of course the GLITTER. The chunky, rainbowriffic glitter. I clicked on over to DarliciousHouse to check them out and then I saw it. The title read “betsy-charming earrings with enamels and glitter” – was I too late? Were they reserved for some other more clever Betsy out there who has already claimed these? I asked Darlene about it on her blog and no, they weren’t reserved – it was just kismet. She names her pieces from time to time and just happened to chose to name this one Betsy! Needless to say, I had to have them! (Even though I’ve been Betsi-with-an-i since middle school.)

So that was the first thing – the second thing was a few days later when they arrived in the mail. I put them on right away and was merrily puttering around my studio when my brother came in to chat. He noticed them and said “Are… you wearing earrings?! I didn’t even know you had your ears pierced!” This cracked me up – I’ve had them pierced for at least 15 years! …But they closed up the first time, because I wasn’t really old enough to take care of them properly. And, uh, the second time too. *sigh* So I appear to have three sets of holes, despite only having one set that is still actually holes. Which is why he didn’t realize they really were pierced. That, and the fact that I just don’t wear jewelry all that often despite how much I love it.

Oh, which leads me to the NEXT funny thing in News Of My Earlobes this week. I went to put these on at some point in the past few days and had this moment of “Waaaaait I minute…” and had to go check in the mirror. Huh. Sure enough, it turns out that two of the holes in my left lobe are functional! I had no idea. It was a weirdly surreal moment, and I went  digging through my closet to try to find stud earrings. Not sure if I can really pull off the look though – and it seems like the holes are way too close together to use both very often without risking mucking up my ears tremendously. But I’m definitely tempted to invest in a few simple and lightweight studs so that I can try it every once in a blue moon.

And finally, to come full circle and back to the blog post I was telling my mom about…

Fancifuldevices had a giveaway on her blog last week, cuz she was feeling kind of low and needed a boost. All you had to do to enter was comment, so of course I was in – and I jumped on the boost-fanci’s-spirits bandwagon while I was at it. I wrote her a silly little poem that spells out her name… what the heck is that called? Oh right, an acrostic! Thanks, Yahoo Answers. Anyhow, in her post today she said “You know how you’re supposed to pick giveaway winners randomly for fairness’ sake? Yeah fuck that. I’m an artist I fuck shit up.” which I would probably have been annoyed at if a) it hadn’t meant I got to win something and b) it wasn’t so totally a fanci thing to do. She breaks rules, it’s how she rolls. Speaking of rolling, check out the amazing bunny gif at the end of her winner announcement post there. Ohmigod so funny. I could watch that for ten minutes straight. Um. Not that I did. *ahem*

Well, I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Ok, totally not… I have other stuff to say but I’d have to take pictures to go with and I’m lazy. Plus this post worked out weirdly well as being on the subject of my earlobes. And it’s not really printed, it’s a blog so there’s not actually printing with ink and paper… yeah.

January 10, 2014
by Betsi

Oxidizing junk jewelry and playing with polymer clay

Adventures in Oxidizing FancifulDevices EccentricitySupplyCo

Another small batch of quick around-the-studio pics. Check out a quick before-and-after I did with oxidizing this batch of junk jewelry bits. Speaking of which, that’s part of how I got so art-crushed out on fancifuldevices. Her tutorials are like a cappuccino for my muse, I swear. I have three of them, I need to get the other two soon. (And then she needs to write some more! Like on distressing plastic theengs…) Beyond just the techniques, it’s her matter-of-fact badassery that’s infused into each tute that feeds my soul. And I’ve been up to my earballs in artsy goodness since I was a wee kiddo – so oftentimes it takes kind of a lot to get my muse to sit up and take notice. Her sassy description of liver-of-sulphur as “reek[ing] of rotten eggs/farts/what people actually used to think hell would smell like” got my attention at the beginning of The Practical Guide to Oxidizing, and then held onto it like a puppy with your favorite sock til the brain-shattering closing sentences: “The fear of ruining a piece keeps a lot of people from exploring and truly mastering their art. Always remember that while elements may be nice enough as you find them, you yourself can transform them into something extraordinary.”

Wow. Way to hammer a concept I struggle with into my psyche with a sledgehammer, lady. Dayum.  Ok, I probably sound like I’m overselling them here but they really helped me a lot to break out of a years-long funk I’d suffered after my first – rather laughable – attempt at self-employment imploded in a pile of suck and self-doubt. Barely made any jewelry for a long while after that. And now I do again.  So yeah, I’m a bit smitten. So if you’re thinking of spending some money of tutorials, I recommend fancifuldevices tutes. Highly. Or if you’re broke, just read her blog. Less step-by-step techniquery, but still inspiring as hell.

playing with polymer clay eccentricitysupplyco

It’s been very helpful in fueling my experiments with polymer clay, too. Some of the above is inspired by BlueBottleTree’s rustic beads tutorial, and some is playing off of stuff from fanci’s Artisan Headpin Tutorial. And just basically mucking about. I’m hoping to turn some of these goodies into jewelry to add to my jewelry shop, though most of these are still in-progress. Still figuring out a good way to glaze the beads once I have the colors how I like them.

“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.”
- Pablo Picasso

Saw this quote the other day, and that pretty much sums up how I’ve been working lately. A little of this, a little of that. Hope y’all don’t mind the little texties I added to the pics, I figured I might as well while I was editing, in case anyone wants to pin ‘em up on Pinterest or whathaveyou.

Doop doop. That’s all for now, folks. Don’t get too used to this two-posts-in-two-days jazz, I just had stuff leftover from yesterday that I wanted to post but it was taking forever so I decided to split it into a couple posts. Later, taters!

January 9, 2014
by Betsi

Pictures of jewelry makings and junk from around my studio

Busy busy busy. Or in the case of yesterday, cranky cranky cranky. But mostly just busy. Been chatting on Skype with my mom semi-constantly lately, keeping each other company as we work in our studios. I know, it sounds way glamourous but when I say studio I mean “guest room that is taken over my crafty shtuffs”. My Christmas present to my mom was “Betsi in a box” – a bunch of stuff to sort of represent how I would help her out at cleaning and organizing her studio if I could be there to help. So I’ve been supplementing that with video calls to cheerlead her efforts, and just hang out. 2014-01-08 19.34.31

When I’m not chatting with my mom (*cough* ok, and occasionally while I am), I’ve been reading through the blog of Marina Rios aka fancifuldevices from the beginning. (I’m up to May 2011.) So much eye candy, and some great riffs and rants about creating and interesting tidbits about her creative process. I mentioned this rather obsessive stalkery to her in an Etsy convo, and she proceeded to brag about it in her next blog post! What I don’t even?! Actually it was one in a series of “I have awesome fans” moments she’s had lately, and she led by quoting an insane-sounding comment in which I suspect her of painting dog poo. So that’s helping to keep it from going to my head. :P Thankfully she seems to have taken it as the compliment it was intended as. Er. Trust me, in context, it was a compliment. I swear.

What’s all this ramble got to do with the above pic? Not much, just sort of set dressing for “and then today my mom and I chatted for like four hours and she did a boatload of cleaning (AWESOME, go Mom!) and I finish sorting a box of junk jewelry I got on eBay a few weeks ago.”  The image above is various bits and bobs most likely bound for my supply shop, EccentricitySupplyCo. My Ott Lite, I just noticed, seems to have washed out more detail that I realized. Oops. Well, it’s a sneak peek – you can see better pics in my shop over the next few days.

2014-01-08 19.35.21

And this is the section of my workspace where I plonked the stuff that’s MINE. All the crap in the lower left is the bits I cherry-picked (according to my own strange idea of “cherries”) out of the junk box. Two pairs of enameled charms, some shell bits with gold leafing, a tiny inch-tall crocheted doll, a little “I AM LOVED” pin, a snippet of beaded chain, a tribal-looking necklace, and various small charms which I’ll probably oxidize up.

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Oh yeah, and here’s a pile of jewelry I’ve been meaning to list in my jewelry shop for OMG like months. I hate listing stuff. Why? Idk. Picture-taking and descriptions are way less fun than making? And I procrastinate. That’s a tiny teacup on one of the blue bangles, how cool is that??

Doo dee doo de doo. Yep. This is me, blogging more – crackin’ wise and being super random. How are you? Seriously, I want to know. Comments make me feel special. And encourage further random rambles like this one. If that’s something you actually want to encourage.

January 4, 2014
by Betsi

Awesomesauce haul from the Raleigh Flea Market today

Went to the Raleigh Flea Market today, partly (ok, who am I kidding? mostly) in hopes of picking up a few odds and ends for jewelry makings. Oh. My. God.

bead booth raleigh flea market

I found this. After a browse through some of the outdoor booths – and scoring a couple nice brooches for repurposing in the process – I wandered inside to get warm. And this gloriousness was waiting for me. This is just one shot, there is easily four times as much in this booth as you can see here. All on nice big strings, all for maybe half the price you’d expect to pay at Michael’s for strings a third the size. I was going bananas. Believe it or not, I escaped only about fifty bucks poorer but with SEVEN 16″ strands of yummy new beads. Like, really yummy.

flea market jewelry making haul

Are you seeing this?! A bajillion wood discs, some kind of crazy amazing shell and blue resin rounds, two styles of honkin’ huge rough faceted stone… thingies I can’t even describe (these are my favorites and I’m gobsmacked), a boatload of tiny bead caps, chunky slate blue presumably dyed coral (I think) nuggets, and – because my husband pointed them out at the last minute and the owner helpfully informed us it was only $3 – a splurge on some magenta and purple shell discs. And those are the brooches in front. That sailing ship, I don’t even. And the enormous rainbow bling really is that bright – in fact, the above image was DEsaturated slightly before I posted it.

I am still gibbering. I have no words. My words have failed me.

January 2, 2014
by Betsi

New year, new attitude

This is a real fortune cookie I got about three months ago, at the end of a meal that marked a big emotional milestone for me. Wow. Thank you, fortune cookie gods! I really needed hear this.

So guys – whoever the heck “you guys” is, because other than my mother I honestly have no clue who reads this – I am taking a “new” approach to blogging. And I say new in quotes because what I mean is I’m going old school. I’m just gonna be me, and blather. I’m gonna show up, I’m gonna update my readership, whoever-they-be, on what’s up in my life, and I’m gonna stop fretting about Being a Big Deal. (And just, y’know, BE one.)

What I mean is, while I still want to share tips and ideas for getting seen on Etsy or driving traffic to one’s blog (because I actually really enjoy that stuff) I am letting go of only ever posting Big Important Crap mentality because really, that just leads to self-doubt and  sporadic posting. This ties in with things I’ve been discovering as I work in my Amazing Biz & Life Workbook from Leonie Dawson. The book is available via pdf or on Amazon. I have the pdf and ended up getting the print copy from Amazon too because it’s full of colorful watercolory doodle goodness and my printer wasn’t really doing it justice (I think we need more yellow toner). I’d slap a big ole affiliate link in at this point, cuz hey, I’m recommending a good book to you and that’s exactly what affiliate programs are for. But apparently I can no longer be an Amazon affiliate now that I live in North Carolina. Boo. Whatever. Go look it up if you like. But use Amazon Smile (that’s and a smidgen of your purchase will go to a charity of your choice. Cool, huh?

Where was I? (See, there’s gonna be more of this tangent-having nonsense. So, y’know. Get ready for THAT.) Oh right, the workbook. The prompts in this book have been helping me get all aligned with what matters to me and whatnot. I feel kind of terribly behind because I haven’t finished it and here it is the second of January, but that’s just silly. So I’m trying to release that. I have a nasty habit of feeling guilty about like… everything. And I’m trying to, as my wonderful cousin recently put it, let that guilt fly away out the window. Bye-bye guilt!

There’s a page in the workbook that talks about coming up with a “soul word” (I think) for the year. I’m having a hard time landing on one, because few different themes are showing up in the journaling. Boiling it down into a single word is not really happening. In two words though, the closest I have come up with is consistency and authenticity. As in, showing up on a regular basis and just genuinely being who I am.

So here I am, just showing up and being who I am. Hallo! I’d love to hear from you too. Comments are love. ♥