Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Messy Beading Tray

One thing that I've noticed is when I get full-on into a good beading project, my bead tray gets just as messy as the rest of my work area. Seriously. Don't believe me? Check it out:

Yes, that's one of my favorite Bead On It Boards, in the middle of a beading project. Note the tidy arrangement of my seed beads and accent beads, making it easy to find each bead as I need it.


Here's a closer look:

Again, note the precise placement of each type of bead in a manner that makes it easy to find as I'm stitching.

Yeah, whatever.

Now, I used to use those little ceramic paint dishes for my beads as I worked, but you know what? I didn't really like them. They were cold, they weren't comfortable for beading on the couch or in bed, and yeah, if you dropped one, you had to pick up both all those seed beads plus the shattered pieces of ceramic.

And what project, you might ask, has created such a mish-mash of beads on my tray? Why, it's this one:

Back in November (or was it October?), I bought a couple of bead kits from The Jade Dog to participate in her challenge contest. Sure, I told myself, I have LOTS of time to complete two new pieces for the competition before December 1.


This is as far as I got as of the morning of December 1, and even with everything else that I have going and the zillion other projects I'm working on, I feel compelled to finish this piece. My goal now is to finish it before Christmas. We'll see.

But back to the messy bead tray. There's something that's almost liberating about being able to toss my beads into little piles like that and just let them roll where they may. It inspires me to new color combinations and new ideas for mixing textures.

Of course, when the project is actually finished, there's always cleanup... Which is how bead soup was invented, I suspect.

Depending on my mood, I'll sit there with my slender, narrow, metal bead scoop and separate each type of bead and put them back into their original containers. Or, if I'm in a hurry to start my next project, I'll just scoop 'em all up and stuff 'em in a little plastic baggie.

Which explains why I've got dozens of little plastic baggies of mixed-up beads in my bead stash.

Do your beading trays look like they are just one step above controlled chaos while you work?

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Been a While...

But I think it's finally time to resurrect The Messy Beader's Club!

In case anyone forgot (and a good reminder to myself), I started The Messy Beader's Club as a way to explore the connection (if any) between chaos and creativity. And if the state of my desk and bookshelf are any indication as to my creativity as of late, it would seem that I am in creative overdrive:

 The beads! The beads! I pull out a few tubes for one project, then set them aside in a plastic bag with my notes for the project.

Then I get another idea for a project. I pull more beads, put those in a plastic bag, and set that aside.

And the project ideas just keep coming. And more beads get pulled, put in plastic bags, and set aside...

Eventually, I DO start the actual beading. But it's usually with the beads spread out all around me, in total chaos. If things start to look too neat, I sort of freak out.

And then I have to pull more beads for another project, put them in a bag, and set them aside...

Even when I pull out the keyboard drawer from my desk, I've got it covered in beads and tools and supplies!

Every surface on my desk is covered with beads, projects in progress, and components that I want to use...eventually.

Sometimes, I wonder if my need for chaos isn't really a need to reassure myself that I *won't* run out of project ideas. Do I need to surround myself with beads for future projects to fend off my fears that my creativity will eventually dry up?

I also sort of panic when I get to the end of a project. Sure, it's immensely satisfying to have that clean beading board in front of me, with all the seed beads neatly packed away and ready for their next adventure...but...again, the fear that my ideas will dry up is front and center once I've finished a piece.

I've noticed my ideas moving in a new direction the last few months, more towards things like beaded art dolls (which I've never made) and collaborating with my incredibly talented artist friend Susan Tompkins on a series of painted, collaged, and bead-embroidered wall hangings. More art for art's sake, and not so much wearable art.

Along with that, I'm thinking that my new direction for 2013 should also be towards (GASP!) getting better organized and staying that way. With the bulk of my beads living in our finished basement and my current "corner office" in the living room looking like a bomb went off on a daily basis, I think it's time for 2013 to be the year that I finally get my act together and experiment to find a way of staying organized that works for me.

Otherwise, I'll just end up filling all the shelves in the bookcase with beads, sort of like this...

Are you a Messy Beader, too? Are you thinking about getting organized in 2013?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Messy Beader: Carol Dean Sharpe

Carol Dean Sharpe, who owns and operates an Etsy shop under the name SandFibers, is one of the most prolific beaders I know.  She spends her days creating amazing, beautifully designed peyote stitch cuff bracelets and one-of-a-kind necklaces using ceramic art cabochons and gemstone donuts.

Last year, Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions did a profile on Carol Dean, and this is what Carol had to say about her bead studio:

"I prefer to state that my easy chair and ottoman in our den constitute my 'beading studio.' The truth is, as usual, somewhere in between. Because I was a quilter before I ever picked up a bead, we turned one of our guest rooms into a dedicated quilt studio (glorified sewing room). Sadly, over the last few years as beading has taken control of my waking life, this room has become more of a (very messy) storage closet for my fabrics and yarns and less of a work space. I can still find my way to the sewing machine when I really need it.

"I do all of my beadwork seated in my big leather chair, either "hunched" over my bead tray/lap desk on the ottoman if I'm working on an involved pattern or with my legs on the ottoman and the bead tray on my lap if I'm working on a pattern that requires less focus. Our tv is always on as background noise and a spot on which to rest my eyes when they need a break from those crazy small beads I use. I cannot bead in silence; my mind gets too busy to focus on my work. Since I'm constantly feeling the pull of the computer (etsy, facebook, twitter, blogs), I get up regularly, "stretch," and walk to the office. Lots of traffic between the den and the office at Sand Fibers."

 Carol goes on to say that her workspace can be described as "organized chaos" - she can (almost) always find what she's looking for.  But no one else would be able to find anything.

Despite the mess, Carol says that because so much of her stuff is out in the open, it's there to yell at her when it's ready to be used.   She said, "I don't know if that makes sense. I could open a small store with all the art beads and buttons I have acquired without specific projects in mind, just because I "had to have them." Now that they are all lined up in these wonderful bead trays, I can visit with my "eye candy" easily (and quite regularly!) and when a bead is ready for me, it lets me know. Before the trays, I had everything in bags and/or bubble wrap tucked away in boxes, and I would have to go on targeted searches for a specific bead.

"Having things in jumbles (in my bead towers) and piles (of fabrics and yarns) can result in surprising juxtapositions of colors and materials. Design by accident is still design, right? If I'm really stumped for inspiration (which doesn't happen often, thank goodness), I can just wander around my house and visit with my various stashes, all of things I love (why else would I have them?), and something will set me on the right course."

Of course, all that mess doesn't seem to hurt Carol's creativity, as you can see in some of her unique one-of-a-kind pieces that combine beadwork with fabric.

You can read the full interview with Jennifer Cameron on her blog, Glass Addictions.

Thanks to Carol and Jennifer for allowing me to post clips and photos from that original blog post!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For Safe Keeping

Doncha just love it when you put something important "somewhere safe" until you realize that you have no idea where you put it?

Case in point: I am working on a major piece that requires the use of a unique, handmade focal component that I have had for quite a while.  My three year old is fascinated with everything on my work table, so I occasionally allow him to explore and touch the various beads and components I have spread out for various projects.

The last time I can remember seeing this very important unique, handmade focal component, it was in the chubby hands of my delighted three year old, running somewhere towards the kitchen.  I seem to remember retrieving it, placing it in the pocket of my bathrobe, and then I put it......where?

I have turned all my drawers inside out.  It is not in the drawers where I keep beads for my current projects.  It is not in the bag of inventory that I usually keep on my desk.  Nor is it stashed away with the beads in my drawers that are labeled "Someday".  It is NOWHERE.

My husband will laugh at me when I tell him this and say, "Oh, well, I'm so surprised - you're so well-organized!"

But the truth is that even well-organized folks lose things from time to time.  (And I won't go into detail about the pile of "stuff" that is on HIS dresser in the bedroom!)

So now, my only option is to spend half a day clearing everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - off of all three work surfaces in my "corner office" and see if I can find the aforementioned unique, handmade focal component.  Wish me luck, and leave a comment about the time you lost something you thought you had put in a safe place - it'll make me feel better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Messy Beader = Messy Beadwork?

So, tonight, I was putting the finishing touches on a new project, and it suddenly occurred to me what a painstaking piece of beadwork I had just completed.  It used two sizes of Swarovski bicones and size 15 seed beads to make a three-dimensional circle of crystals for a pendant.  I don't think there was a single bead out of place on this piece, and it felt nice and sturdy after I finished zipping the circle together.  And I thought to myself, how interesting that out of such a total disaster area, I can put together what seems to be a perfect piece of beadwork.

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm the kind of beader who strives for perfection in her art.  I hate to see threads poking out where they shouldn't, broken beads, beads with chipped holes, and lopsided edgings on my bead embroidered cabochons.

Visible imperfections in my beadwork drive me absolutely bonkers.  Absolutely.  If I can't fix a mistake in my beadwork, I'll either tear the whole thing apart or chuck it in a drawer until I feel like cutting it apart.  That's just how I am.  Sometimes, I can convince myself that a bead out of place is just a Native American "Spirit Bead", but most of the time, that doesn't work.

So once again, I find myself pondering the incredible mess that is my work area and the results that come out of that work area: neat, tidy, and technically excellent pieces of beadwork. 

Is it possible that the messy work area causes me to strive for perfection in my beadwork?  Making order out of chaos?  Maybe that's why I feel a little cold swooping in my stomach every time I clear off my work area...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Messy Beader/Bead Artist: Marsha Hedrick

Today, I'd like to introduce another Messy Beader, porcelain artist Marsha Hedrick.  Some of you might know Marsha's gorgeous work from her website, Amazing Porcelain Fantasies.  I was introduced to her work through her artist beads that were sold through the Beadin' Path of Maine.  
Marsha sent in these photos of her beading areas and has this to say about how she creates and the messes she makes in the process of creating:

"That is the dining room table, where I assemble things ( when I actually get a chance to assemble) and where I take pictures and collect things for orders. I have most of my seed beads in some boxes and a little toolbox.  I also have some little tilt out things that I keep wire and various other supplies in. All of my porcelain beads (stock) are in trays in a case. Finished Jewelry is in another case just like the one the porcelain beads are in. Then there is some more finished pieces that are in jewelry boxes in a larger box. Those are all sort of next to the dining room table on the floor or in a chair. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that I do Native American Shows and other shows. The Native American pottery and jewelry is in a big box on a cart.

"I do periodically clean it all off, but it never stays cleaned off for long. I suppose I do feel like I accomplished something when I clean it off, but it is one of those things that just doesn't stay last for long.  Usually it is a mess again the same day. 

"I would love to be a bit more organized and I hope to accomplish it soon, although I doubt it will ever be really clean and neat as I'm just not that sort of person. I am organized, it just isn't obvious to the casual observer. I have an area in my studio that is designated for this mess. When that area is done the majority of this stuff will move over there and it will be much more organized. It is a larger area and I can compartmentalize so there is a place for photos and a place for assembly, etc. This will help enormously. At least the messes will be all belonging to the same activity.

"In the studio I have areas that are devoted to various tasks and all the tools for that task remain there. It can still get messy but not like this table. I do so many things that some areas are devoted to several tasks and when I change from one to the other I will clean up the area and put away all the tools from the previous task and get ready to do the new task by getting out the things for it. I suppose that sort of clears the head and gets me in the mood for the new activity as well although sometimes it seems to take forever to get to the new activity which I wanted to be doing already.

"What mostly affects my productivity is not being able to find a given tool or product. Lots of times this is because it is in the studio and I'm in the house or visa versa. Again this should be better when I get it all in my studio. Searching for an item I need to complete something drives me crazy. I spent nearly 4 hours one day digging out the things I needed to assemble a little tray that I hadn't made one like since I moved out here. In the end it may have taken 15- 20 minutes to assemble the tray. This is what aggravates me.

"My brain is organized to remember where I had something last and it usually works pretty well for locating things but sometimes it breaks down in the data recovery stage. I think as I get older that organization may become more important because the brain doesn't remember as well as it used to. I think it is filling up a bit or perhaps trying to use the pathways that got burned out when I was young and even crazier than I am now."

 You can see more of Marsha's work on her website, Amazing Porcelain.  Her work is also for sale on her Etsy Shop, Amazing Porcelain Fantasies.  Marsha also has a blog you can follow, Marsha's Porcelain Art. 

If you'd like to be one of our featured Messy Beaders, just click on the tab at the top of this page, answer a few simple questions and email it in with a photo of your messy (or not so messy) beading area!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Messy Beader: Candy S. McCulley

I'm very excited to introduce our first messy beader, Candy S. McCulley of Oklahoma.  Candy emailed me some pictures of her workspace and had this to say about where she beads:

"My beading space is a loft bed with a computer desk attached underneath it.  I used to live in a small place with a tiny bedroom, and even though this bed/computer desk was meant for college students living in a dorm, it fit my needs perfectly.  

I do periodically try to beat back the beady beast.  I have a set of trays that I got from Fire Mountain Gems, and I try to keep one project per tray so that the mess is a little bit organized.  And I can pick up a tray and bead in my easy chair, if I so desire.
I do my best to keep the rest of my beads organized.  (Don't we all say that?!)  Of course, there are always the 'gremlin' beads that I find in odd places and I KNOW I didn't put them there!

When I do clear off my table, I always feel a sense of accomplishment and revved up to create more!  I embrace my beady chaos to a point.  Some clutter is okay and does aid the creative process.  Seeing things side-by-side, even if they are earmarked for another project, can make you stop and go, 'Hmmm...'  But when it gets to the point where you can't see anything because of all the clutter, no, I most certainly do not love that.  Overload the muse, and she goes on vacation!"

You can see more of Candy's work in her Etsy shop, Bead of My Heart, and check out her photostream on Picture Trail.

Would you like to be featured on this blog?  Click on the tab at the top of this page and submit your photos and the answers to the questions there!
And don't miss out on the giveaway on the Art Beads Scene blog: leave a post about your favorite storage containers and be entered to win a free set of disc beads!