Monday, October 14, 2013

New Home, New Workshop

For me, moving into a new home means a new canvas to work with. The white walls of a new office can be very inspiring and finding ways to work with a new space work up my creative juices. While I love working with beads, I like to explore other creative passions of mine, such as home decor and Christmas crafts.

Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration for home decor and I've been very interested in the before-after blog posts I'm seeing all over the web. So, I thought that I'd make one of my own - except that right now, you only get to see the "before".

This is what my office/workshop looks like right now:

As you can see, not very organized on the one side. These are all craft materials that I have to organize somehow...

Having said that, the desk was purchased in the as-is section at IKEA for 30$. SOLD! Definitely my favorite piece in the room!

The TV is really only there for display at the moment. Hoping to get it hooked up so I can watch TV while crafting! :)

I've got a few inspiration boards on my Pinterest, so hopefully I'll figure something out! Any ideas/suggestions would be much appreciated! 

Stay tuned for updates as I try to organize my workshop.

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Partners: Etsy and Kiva

I first heard about Kiva 4 years ago while I was working on my Master's degree. In my search for the tension between modernization and the developing world, I thought that Kiva was a great empowerment tool for people who had the skills to start up their own business, but did not have the means because of the situation in their countries.

Kiva is based on an interest-free loan system. People in the developing world who could never get a loan at a local bank or other means (for any reason) would get the chance to get a small loan from someone in the developed world to help them start a sustainable business. That sustainable business could help them and their family survive in conflict-striken countries for example.

I was very supportive of this initiative. 

Which brings me to the new Kiva-Etsy partnership, of which I am not entirely supportive.

This cooperation will enable Etsy sellers to access loans up to $5,000 through Kiva Zip, a pilot project that aims to reach borrowers in the U.S. and Kenya. 

While I understand that a lot of artists on Etsy are really trying to get their businesses going (myself included), I think that only a small majority of them actually need a system like this one. To me, Kiva is a great opportunity for artisans in the developing world to become self-sufficient because no one else will help them.

We have so many opportunities in the developed world that I don't think a Kiva loan is necessary for us artists who chose that lifestyle. 

We have enough chances to make it in this world on our own; I think we should leave initiatives like these to those who really need it.

How do you feel about this partnership? Are you an Etsy artist who would benefit from the Kiva loans? I'd love to hear about your point of view!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Soup's On!!

Yay! Reveal day is finally here!!

For those of you joining us now, today is the second reveal of Lori Anderson's 6th Bead Soup Blog Party! Jewelers from all over the world have exchanged beads in the last few months, creating a wonderful sense of community and friendship!

Please visit my previous post if you'd like to see what my partner, Ashley Bunting, sent me.

So without further ado, here's what I created! :)


When I started beading again, I used to love to create very asymmetric things. Then slowly, I started creating symmetric pieces because they were more of a crowd pleaser. So, with this piece, I decided to go back to my roots and create something a little out of my ordinary style.

I salvaged the Russian stitch portion of this piece from a necklace I was working on months ago but wasn't sure how to complete. It had been sitting in a drawer for ages, until I received Ashley's vintage focal bead! I thought it was a perfect combination! This is somewhat of an international necklace! haha


Next up was the bracelet! I have been wanting to create a bracelet for myself and I really wanted to keep that beautiful clasp (yes, this piece was created in total selfishness). I'm glad I got to fit in Molly's copper pieces in this one too! :)

I think I'll be creating a few more bangles to accompany this one, I unfortunately did not have time to work on those :(


And last, but not least, the earrings. When I saw Keith O'Connor's clay beads, I just knew I had to make earrings with them! 

The Mykonos ceramic beads had also been sitting in a drawer for a very long time and I had absolutely no idea what to do with them. But when I received by bead soup, I challenged myself to incorporate them one way or another. 

I'm absolutely in love with these earrings! I might be selfish and keep those for myself as well!

That's it for me!

Now grab yourself a drink and start blog hoppin'! :) Toodles!

Wonderful artists from Reveal #2:

Hostess, Lori Anderson, Pretty Things

Adlinah Kamsir, Dream Struck Designs
Adrienn Lukacs, Raszputyin Designs
Agata Grygiel, Cytherea Bijoux 
Alenka Obid, Pepita Handmade 
Amy Dickerson, Damyjo Designs 
Amy Schmidt, Amy's Treasure 
Amy Severino, Amy Beads 

Andra Weber, Andra's Joyful Journey
Andrea Trank, Heaven Lane Creations
Anke Humpert, Anart Island Studios
Ann Rishell, My Critical Eye
April Grinaway, Brooklyn Bead Goddess 
Ashley Bunting, Miss Ashely Kate 
Astrid Boyce, Astrid Boyce Beads 
B.R. Kuhlman, Mixed Mayhem Studios 
Barb Fernald, Barbara S. Fernald Jewelry 
Barbe Saint John, Saints and Sinners

Beata Benkone Meggyesi, Beahobbi
Brandy McNair, Bella Vita Handmade Jewelry 
 Bryna Lumb, Bryna's Bead Box
Carmen Lau, Little Maketto
Cate van Alphen, Fulgorine
Cathie Carroll, Cathie Carroll's Studio
Cathy Khoury, Touch Jewelry 
Christina Stofmeel, Feng Beads 

 Collette Collins, Fire Fly Myst Artisan Jewelry
Courtney Breul, Beads by Breul 
Crystal Thain, Here Bead Dragons
Cynthia Abner, Created Treasures
Deana Hager, Just Deez'Art & Life
Debbie Davis, Natural Treasures by Deb
Debbie Phenes, Deb Joy Sing
Dhea Powers, Java Bead

Diana Welte, Lilyweeds
Dita Basu, alankarshilpa
Dorota Zeranska, gdymamczas 
Dot Lewallwn, Speedie Beadie
Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs
Emma Todd, A Polymer Penchant
Eva Sherman, Eva Sherman Designs
Evie and Beth McCord, EB Bead and Metal Works
Francy Inman, Francy's Studio

Ginger Bishop, lilmummy likes...
Giorgia Rossini, Jo in Wonderland
Ine Vande Cappelle, Jewels by Ine 
Iveth Caruso, Creative Atelier 
JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
Jackie Ryan, Kydo Jewellery
Jeannie Dukic, Jeannie's Blog
Jelveh Jaferian, Jelveh Designs
Jenna Tomalka, Twin Birch Studio
Jenni Connolly, Jenni's Beads

Jennifer Van Horn, Jennifers Jewels and Junk
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It's a Beadiful Creation
Johanna Rhodes-Nash, Fire Phoenix Creations 
 Joyce Blair, Bent Wire West Coast
JuLee Wolfe, The Polymer Penguin
Karen Vincent, Swallow Tail Jewellery
Karin Slaton, Backstory Beads
Kayla Potega, The Eclectic Element 
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Krafty Max, Krafty Max Originals
Kris Lanae Binsfeld, Cherish Designs by Kris Lanae

Kristen Latimer, MJM Jewelry Designs
Kumi Fisher, Malie Kai Designs
Kym Hunter, Kym Hunter Designs
Lennis Carrier, Windbent
Leslie Wayment, AA Beads & More
Linda Murphy, Bonita Bead
Lisa Johnson, Whimsey Wonders
Lisa Lodge, Pine Ridge Treasures

Lisa Sittniewski, Love, Yesterdays
Lois Moon, Que Onda, Q'Town?
Lola Surwillo, Bead Lola Bead
Lorelei Eurto, Lorelei's Blog
Lori Bowring Michaud, Artfully Ornamental
Lori Finney, Using My Beads
Marcia Dunne, The Alternative Foundry
Margareta Saari, Mags-koruja
Maria Horvath, Horimarika Beads
Marian Hertzog, M's Place

 Mary Ellen Parker, BeeTree by m.e.
Mary K McGraw, MK's Creative Musings
MaryLou Holvenstot, time2cre8 
Martha Aleo, Ornamento
 Maybeline Tay, The Jewelry Larder
Megan Collins, Churchy & Her Sailor
Melissa Meman, Art. Life. Love.
Melissa Mesara, One-Eared Pig Beads
Melissa Muir, Kelsi's Closet Jewelbox
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs

Pam Farren, re-maker
Pam Hurst, Pam Hurst Designs
Patricia Handschuh, The Color of Dreams
Patty Miller, CabariBeads
Penney Klapoth, Faerie Acres
Regina Santerre, Regina's Writings
Rhea Freitag, starrgazer creates
Rochelle Brisson, A Creative Chelle

Sabine Dittrich, PerlenDschungel
Sandra McGriff, Creative Chaos
Sandra Neights, Petalo Azul
Sandra Young, It's a Bead Life!
Sara Oehler, SoftFlex Girl
Saturday Sequins, Saturday Sequins
Shanti Johnson, Sunshine Bliss
Shari Replogle, Plays With Paper
Sonya Stille, Dreamin' of Beads

Stefanie Teufel, Stefanies Sammelsurium
Tammie Everly, TTE Designs
Tania Spivey, Moobie Grace Designs
Therese Frank, Therese's Treasures
Tina Holden, Polymer Clay Bytes!
Toltec Jewels, Jewel School Friends 

Tracey Nanstad, A Beadiful Mess
Tracy Choy, BumbleBeads Designs
Valerie Norton, Hot Art

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party!

Wow. It's been a while since I've written a blog post! Thank God for Lori Anderson and her fabulous Bead Soup Blog Party - it's helping me get back on track!!

I've been soooo busy moving and travelling that I've lost touch with my jewelry! :( But thanks to Lori, this will help me get back into the heart of it!

I really enjoyed my experience the last time I participated in the BSBP. It allowed me to create new bonds with new artists! My previous partner, Molly Alexander, really helped me expand my creative abilities by introducing me to a new medium, which I incorporated with my paper beads.

This year, Lori has paired me with another fantastic artist - Ashley Bunting. This lady from Portland, ME, is a full time jewelry designer (my dream!!) and mostly works with vintage components. Here's what she sent me:

I'm SOOOOO excited to find out what I'll be doing with this amazing handmade magnetic clasp!! 

Love the mix of colours!!

I'm looking forward to working with these beautiful - mostly handmade - beads! Come back on Saturday to check out the final result! In the meantime, please visit the first reveal of this year's Bead Soup Blog Party! There are some truly amazing artists out there!


Hostess, Lori Anderson,

Alice Craddick,  Alice's Beads and Baubles
Alicia Marinache,  All The Pretty Things
Amanda Tibbetts,  Amanda Made
Amber Dawn Goldish, Inventive Soul
Annita Wilson,  AW Jewelry
Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool
Birgitta Lejonklou,  Create With Spirit   
Candida Castleberry,    Spinning Spun Sugar
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Cassie Donlen, Glass Beadle
Cheryl McCloud,  One Thing Leads to Another
Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
Christina Hickman, Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Hendrickson,  Clamworks
Cilla Watkins, Tell Your Girlfriends
Cindy Wilson, Mommy's Dream
Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio
Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie
Cory Tompkins, Tealwater Designs
Cris Peacock, Cris' Page
Cynthia Deis, Shiny Little Things
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cynthia Wainscott, Exotic Peru
Dana Hickey, Magpie Approved
Denielle Hagerman, Some Beads and Other Things
Diane Valasek, Dragonfly Close
Doris Stumpf, Glaszwerg
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell, Dee-Liteful Jewelry Creations
Elaine Robitaille, Too Aquarius
Eleanor Burian-Mohr, The Charmed Life
Enikö Fabian, Perl-eni
Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
Heather Davis, Blissful Garden Beads
Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
Inge von Roos, Inge's Blog
Jami Shipp, Celebrating Life
Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle
Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
Jennifer Pottner, Rock Candy Beads
Jennifer VanBenschoten,  Jewelry, Art and Life
Jenny Davies-Reazor, Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jenny Vidberg, Shyme Design
Jessica Dickens, My Jewelry, My Life, Me
Jessica Klaaren, Beadful-Things by Jessica
Joan Williams, Lilruby Jewelry
Judith Johnston, Judith Johnston
Judy Riggs, Rigglettes
Judy Turner, Silver Rains
Julie Anne Leggett, The Peaceful Bead
K Hutchinson, Jumbled Hutch
Karen Meador, Dreamcatcher Ranch
Karyn Bonfiglio, Plus Size Bangles
Katherine Gale, Terra Beadworks
Kathleen Lange Klik, Modern Nature Studio
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic, Slovonske Technobe
Kelli Jacobson, Creative Moon
Kelly Ramstack, Adventures with Kelly
Keri Lee Sereika, Pink Lemonade
Kim Bender-Hora, KimmyKat
Kirsi Luostarinen, Kirsi Luo Korut
Kitty Bozzini, Kitty Lampwork
Laura Demoya, The Bead Therapist
Laurie Hanna, Laurie's Jewelbox
Leah Curtis, Beady Eyed Bunny
Lesley Watt, The Gossiping Goddess
Linda Inhelder, Must-Haves Jewelry
Lisa Liddy, Metal Me This
Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
Marion Simmons, Shade Tree Studio
Marla Gibson, Spice Box Design
Marta Weaver, Marta Weaver Jewelry
Marti Conrad, Marti C's Clay Blog
Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens, GlassBeadArt, Lampwork Beads
Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio
Michelle Hardy, Firefly Visions
Mikala Coates, Maybe Just Perhaps
Mowse Doyle, HoCArt
Nancy Boylan, Snazzy Doodle Designs
Nancy Peterson, Beading From the Heart
Nicole Rennell, Nicole Rennell Designs
Niki Meiners, 365 Days of Craft
Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
Pamela Gangler, She Always Loved Pink
Perri Jackson, Shaktipaj Designs
Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads
Renetha Stanziano, Lamplight Crafts
Shannon Hicks, Falling Into the Sky
Shannon LeVart, Miss Fickle Media
Sharon Driscoll, Right Turn Art Werks
Shelley Graham Turner, Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame
Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
Skylar Bre'z, Brising Beads
Stacie Florer, Soul to Substance
Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
Stacy Alderson, Iridal's Attic
Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
Stephanie Stamper, Rainy Day Designs
Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux
Tammy Jones, Jewelry Making Daily
Tanty Sri Hartanti, TJewellicious by Tanti
Terry Matuszyk, Pink Chapeau

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Jewelry Hunt!

When I was younger, we always used to have Easter egg hunts at my aunt’s place. She had a very big backyard with a big vegetable garden, so there were a lot of places for her to hide the eggs/chocolate.

Just to give a little background about the Easter Egg Hunt as many people probably wonder, why eggs?: “the egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth of man at Easter” (Wikipedia). Today, it’s mostly a fun game for children – to keep them busy while adults drink cocktails on the patio perhaps? ;) – and adults alike! In this Easter season, we invite you to our own Easter JEWELRY hunt! J

All clues have now been revealed! But remember:
      1. Clue #3 is the answer we are looking for, but you’ll need clues #1 and #2 to get it!
      2. The contest will close on April 8 at 9 p.m., which means you need to send us your final answer by then via a comment on this blog post.
      3. Once all the answers are in, we’ll tabulate them and we’ll draw a winner from all the correct answers at random using!
      4. The winner will be revealed on Monday April 9 and will get this beautiful pair of earrings, valued at 15$! Materials include Women of Kireka recycled paper beads, Molly Alexander copper barbells and handmade tangerine glass beads!

    So, have fun and start guessing!!


    Monday, March 12, 2012

    On the Kony 2012 Campaign: The trap of the Single Story

    When I first started drafting this blog post, I was planning to write about my take on the Kony 2012 Campaign devised by Invisible Children and the different views that have been discussed around it. Before I did so, I wanted to be fully informed about the different views coming from both sides.

    After having read through many blog posts in the last few days, TMS 'Teddy' Ruge's (@tmsruge) latest blog entry was the one that struck me the most. So, I've decided to tell you my own story and how myself - as much as I tried not to - have fallen into the trap of the single story.

    It all started while I was doing my undergrad, when a few of my friends travelled to Gulu, Uganda to work with the village and help them get back on their feet post-conflict. Upon their return, the experience they had was reflected in their reaction to the Western world and the steps they took to get people informed. That same year, they introduced me to In Their Shoes (ITS) and the Gulu Walk. It opened opportunities for me to learn and understand world conflict. While the topic was something I was always interested in, I will admit that I never really pushed to learn more and was resolved to understand the stories from a single perspective. At ITS, while we wanted to raise awareness among teenagers about world conflict so that they would take part in what mattered most - human compassion - it was also a great learning and growing opportunity for me.

    With this vision in mind, I moved to Ottawa wanting to do something that mattered. So I went ahead and enrolled in the MA program that would change my perspective forever. As research forces you to be objective throughout most of the process, you are obligated to understand the whole story before you make your own opinion on the issue. During my studies, I have read so many articles reflecting the White Man's Burden and stories that strongly rejected the white man's help.

    Having said that, when I first started working with the Women of Kireka, my plan was completely different from what it is now. I had heard and read their stories of empowerment, and yet my vision was still based on pity. Never having directly worked with post-conflict groups, it was hard for me to erase all the images fed to me by the Western world throughout my entire life. But after very informative conversations with Teddy and Siena, the partnership we have now is much more founded than I had originally intended.

    This is a simple example of how we, as Westerners, are affected by the single story: the single story of Pity. We grew up with this idea that those who were/are afflicted by conflict needed our saving because they couldn't do it themselves. But pity is not what they need, and most certainly not what they deserve. The following TED video featuring Chimamanda Adichie on The Danger of a Single Story puts everything into perspective (please do take 20 minutes of your time to watch this video).

    The #Kony2012 Campaign should be seen under that same lens. I will not repeat what plenty of people have already said (instead I have compiled a list of very interesting blog posts about the film but also some good background information that I suggest everyone reads below) but I will say this: Change must come from within. They are the ones who understand their context the most, who are we to come in and TELL them what do to?

    It is a slap in the face to so many of us who want to rise from the ashes of our tumultuous past and the noose of benevolent, paternalistic, aid-driven development memes. We, Africans, are sandwiched between our historically factual imperfections and well-intentioned, road-to-hell-building-do-gooders. It is a suffocating state of existence. To be properly heard, we must ride the coattails of self-righteous idiocy train. Even then, we have to fight for our voices to be respected. - TMS Ruge

    If there is one thing that this video has done, is that it was able to bring awareness to the issue. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean to the issue that is Joseph Kony - but rather the issue of making misinformed decisions and not questioning what we so easily blindly agree with. Not only does this campaign disempower those who were affected by the atrocities - the voices of those that can and are trying to create change - but it also dives the Western world into blind faith - something we try so hard to fight within our own democracies and our own lives. And think about it, if all world conflict could be so easily simplified (good vs. bad - white man's got the power to stop conflict by simply raising awareness), then perhaps we would already have achieved world peace.

    The adage "Doing something is better than doing nothing" is not always accurate. Blind faith never ends well. Don't fall into the trap of the single story. Get informed and ask questions. That's how you can truly help.

    Emotions should fuel our passion, BUT critical thought and reflection should drive our action. - Unmuted Blog

    MUST READS (don't limit yourself to these, please do keep reading on the issue!)
    - Project Diaspora Blog Post by TMS Ruge: A Piece of my mind: Respect my agency 2012 
    - Unmuted Blog: Before you Give, Think! 7 steps for critical reflection
    The Real Battle in Uganda: Nodding Disease
    - Great Ugandan perspective on the Kony2012 Campaign on Rosebell's blog
    - Stop Kony, yes. But don't stop asking questions
    - The #Kony2012 Show
    - African Arguments Blog: For Most Ugandans Kony's Crimes are from a Bygone Era
    - Chris Blattman's blog on how misinformation can cause more harm than good: Visible Children
    - Wronging Rights Blog on Kony2012: Worst Idea Ever?

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Fair Trade (il)Literacy

    As a business that promotes fair trade, I was appauled when I read some media coverage on Victoria's Secret child labour allegations. During a December interview with Bloomberg reporter Cam Simpson, this particular passage struck me the most:

    BLOCK: It seems that some of the farmers that you talk to in Burkina Faso thought that they were playing by the rules. One man told you that he thought that fair trade meant that he couldn't force his own children into the field but other children were OK.

    SIMPSON: Yeah. I mean, that's the problem. I mean, people talked about this extensively. They didn't think that they were doing anything wrong. Some people said, well, you know, they tell us something about children when we first sign up and then that's all we ever hear. There was a study done in 2008 of child labor in this program that was never made public until we did our story. And it found that these foster children were particularly vulnerable on these farms and it listed a lot of specific recommendations that it said should have been implemented. One very simple one was just to have the farmers themselves come up with a charter on conduct for child labor and have them police it themselves. It was never implemented.
    What does that say about the fair trade system? Companies who allegedely care about child labour hold the responsibility to make sure that this "charter of conduct for child labor" be implemented. If nothing is being done, fair trade unfortunately only becomes a selling point and many suffer for it.

    What is fair trade? According to Fair Trade Canada:

    Fair Trade is a different way of doing business. It's about making principles of fairness and decency mean something in the marketplace.
    It seeks to change the terms of trade for the products we buy - to ensure the farmers and artisans behind those products get a better deal. Most often this is understood to mean better prices for producers, but it often means longer-term and more meaningful trading relationships as well.
    For consumers and businesses, it's also about information. Fair Trade is a way for all of us to identify products that meet our values so we can make choices that have a positive impact on the world.
    It's great that we - the children of the Western world - understand what terms such as fair trade and child labour mean, but it is also extremely important for those involved to understand what those terms mean for THEM.

    While I was working on my MA thesis, various articles described this type of illiteracy, particuarly seen in health literacy. If a patient doesn't understand the doctor's recommendation, he/she cannot take the medication properly. The same idea can be applied to fair trade literacy. If farmers/employers don't understand it fully, than it can never be properly implemented.

    I think this calls for some kind of campaign. The campaign for fair trade should not be limitted to the developed world, but expanded to those places where exploitation is the number one culprit.

    We might understand people's rights, but do they understand theirs?

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