September 28, 2012

Autumn Fields

Fields of birch trees, goldenrod, willows and thistles were the inspirations for this latest batch of disk beads.  I love taking car rides and watching the wild fields of Michigan pass me by, there are so many textures and colors in the forgotten spaces along the roads, in ditches and at the edges of the forests near my home.  I need to start taking my camera out with me!

I whipped these up a few weeks ago, revisiting some designs from last year.  I like their graphic quality.  Kind of playful and fun.

Would you be interested in large sets of disk beads like these ones? I'm thinking of creating some during next week's beadmaking sessions. 

September 27, 2012

New Jewelry

So loving every day of fall.  Beautiful - BEA-U-TI-FUL!  I'm all about the leaves, pumpkins and apples.  Loving the jewel colored Indian corn and mums displayed in all the grocery stores.  So wish I could not kill a live plant - my history tells me to enjoy their beauty from afar! I'm going to the farmer's market on Saturday for sure to pick up some autumn harvest goodies.  Do you have a favorite fall veggie recipe? If so, share it with me. I've been pinning some that I would like to try.  Shocking - I do cook more than beads, although my family has forgotten the fact!

If you like these bead pods, I shared how to make them on my latest newsletter - you can find it here.  They are super easy to make.

Jess made some molds for Indian corn inspired pendants - can't wait to to paint those today.  Just hope they don't turn out corny.  Tee hee - couldn't help it.  He has been quite inspired by the transparent clay and has a few designs that will be showing up in the shop soon.

I added a few new items to my jewelry shop yesterday.  I have a craft show show next weekend, my inventory is overstocked at the moment - so no need to prep.  Wow right!

I'm working on a website for my wholesale line of jewelry.  Not an easy task and me and my camera - we have not been friends for the last few weeks.  I don't know what it is, but the light has changed and it's so hard to find that sweet spot where your images sing in natural light.  I need to figure that out asap.  Or maybe it's time to upgrade to a new camera. What? No, I'm not just looking for an excuse to buy a new camera. 

I've been working on taking photos on white backgrounds too for wholesale line sheets.  Just not feeling great about the results. I need to go back to photography 101!  You never stop learning or relearning!

Off to play with my clay instead of fight with my camera...

September 24, 2012

Galena Weekend

I had a great weekend getaway in Galena, IL.  I did a trunk show at Rustic River Finds hosted by Trish Italia.  My table was stocked full of fall beads and old favorites.    I also did a mini-demo at the Vintaj workshop. It was so nice to meet some new people and some that I've known online for a while and then seeing old friends is always so sweet.  I was also able to meet a few people who will be joining me for my retreat and on the Bead Cruise.  Fun!  And such lovely souls, they made me wish the retreat was next weekend!

Rustic River Finds is a beautiful store!  Every little corner was perfect.  It was a fun mix of inspiration and supplies with Vintaj products taking center stage.  It was so earthy and nature inspired.  I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

My partners in crime for this weekend were my two aunties - Susie and Rosanne.  My dear friend Erin Prais-Hintz traveled down to visit with me for the day.  Erin is teaching a workshop at my retreat next month.  She is my best-est beady friend and we need to live closer!!!

The day after the trunk show was my day off and so we were tourists, starting with visiting this crazy place near our hotel in Dubuque, IA - which is only 15 minutes from Galena.  There was this trolley/elevator thing that had captured our attention all weekend.  

So we took the short and slightly terrifying ride up the hill.  This was a private elevator at one time for a businessman who wanted to get home in time to take a nap each day for lunch.  Quite funny if you ask me, but I like his can-do spirit!  He had his priorities.

At the top of the hill you could see three states - Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.  I love this part of the country, so down-home, slightly old-west and completely surrounded by the beauty of nature.

We headed back over the Mississippi River to enjoy an afternoon in Galena. The boutiques are so much fun.  Our first stop was Ink & Stamp with Sue.  If you are into any mixed media, scrapbooking, stamping, art supplies - this is the place for you.  We picked up some supplies for future creative sessions and some yummy autumn ribbons for my retreat.  Next up...

What can I say?  Beads, friends, family and chocolate - seems like a no-brainer to me.  

I picked up some treats for the girls.  And some treats for the long drive home.

My aunt Sue spotted a tree growing out of the building.  Galena is filled with surprises if you take a few moments to stop and look around.  If I were a free bird this would be the place I would pick to settle down  for a while.  I love this town and they must put some kind of creative sprinkles in the water because the whole place is filled with talent.  It reminds me a bit of Stars Hollow - remember Gilmore Girls

So that was the weekend, it's now back to business in the Humblebeads Studio.  Beads to make, shows to prep for and people to inspire! 

September 16, 2012


Chicory is a wildflowers that is probably one of the most common weeds along the roads and wooded areas here in Michigan.  I love seeing a little field of these tiny blue flowers. I made these pendants for last month's Bead of the Month club as my farewell to summer.  Although their abstract design and earthy hues will look great for fall too.  Below you can see how I would mix it up with bold graphic prints and designs - it's a nice juxtaposition for the delicate petals.

“For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous." -Edward Abbey
Autumn Abstract

September 15, 2012

All That Glitters is Gold?

Today at the Rings & Things Trunk Show I picked up some gold plated findings on a whim.  Once I got them home, I just wasn't sure.  I don't know why I feel that way - I use gunmetal plated brass all the time.  Maybe it's just the gold color in general.  It's not the rich tones of brass that I'm used to, but there is something appealing about it for fall.  I added in tiny links with faceted brass beads and rutilated quartz.  I'm pretty happy with it.

What do you think of plated metals?  Sign of times/economy?  Does it really matter as long as the design is good and the piece beautiful?  That's what I'm hoping.
My show spoils were mostly findings that I need to stock up on, which is kind of like buying socks and underwear when you want to pick up sweaters and dresses and well, you get the point.  It was tempting but I was a woman on a mission.

And speaking of things that are golden - Ms. Mallory Hoffman of Rosebud's Lampwork gifted me with these yummy disks in purple and gold hues.  Thanks Mallory!

September 14, 2012


I was featured on Polymer Clay Daily today, which is a thrill and has brought in a round of polymer clay questions.

1. How long have you been making beads?
 I have been making beads for 19 years.  They started out homely.  We are talking beyond humble.  I am self-taught and there was only one polymer clay book on the market way back in the day.

I make beads every day and hundreds of them a week.  We work full time making beads and this is our family business. 

2. What kind of clay do you use?
I use mostly Premo.  I hardly use a color straight out of the package and spend lots of time mixing my own custom colors.  I buy all my clay locally when it's on sale at the big craft stores. 

3. How do I get the matte finish? How do you paint your beads? What is your watercolor technique? 
To paraphrase my friend Erin, "Heather has a proprietary technique that she has developed over the years to get those amazing colors and beautiful finish."  (See below)

4. Do you sell tutorials for beadmaking?
Because we make our living selling beads, I don't offer beadmaking tutorials.  I offer lots of tips on making jewelry and running a business here and on the Art Bead Scene.   That is where I try to give back to the creative community.

I do have two online tutorials that you can check out and feel free to give them a try.  I don't offer any other technique tips, but I do have a few resources to share below.

5. Do you have tips on beadmaking?
I encourage you to find what works for you - play, make messes and mistakes, take chances, ask yourself - what if I do this or that to the clay?  There are so many great books and online tutorials, have fun experimenting and finding ways to use them to tell your own story. Go beyond a technique and use polymer clay as a tool to make something with meaning.

For me, in all my beadmaking I want to tell a story about the beauty and peacefulness of nature.  I want my work to be a break from the fast-paced world and remind people to take a step back and find something green to calm their soul.  And you thought I was just making leaves and birds, there is so much more there.  I often try to share the story or inspiration behind the beads and give you glimpse into why I picked a motif or symbol.

If you are thinking of selling beads, my best piece of advice is find one or two techniques that you love to use and create a collection of beads that are based on a theme or inspiration.  It might be reaching back to your roots, interpet a few favorite poems or something like pick images that make your heart skip a beat and think about how to use those elements in a bead.

And my final piece of beadmaking advice (p.s. - this is for those selling their work).  Don't copy.  Ever.  (Good points in the comments) You are so much more creative than that and have so much more to say.  Don't cheat yourself out of creating something really rewarding by trying to take a shortcut.  Carve out a spot for yourself in the bead world by creating something that only you can make.  No one has your experiences, vision or voice.  I love the quote, "Be yourself, everyone else is taken."


My Tutorials:
Seashell Tutorial
Wordy Bobby Pins

Whenever I had a burning polymer clay question, I would head over to Polymer Clay Central and for inspiration you can't beat Polymer Clay Daily.

Tutorials I Love:
Feather Cane
Leaf Pendants

Favorite Polymer Clay Book:
Perfectly Paired

I highly recommend Cynthia Thornton's book, Enchanted Adornments for more inspiration on creating personal stories and symbols in your jewelry/beads.

September 13, 2012

Prepping for Autumn Events

The studio has been a filled with fall inspired activity as we prep for our trunk show next weekend.  I am all about the leaves.  I can't get enough.  The colors are starting to change around here and it just thrills me to no end. 

I snapped this pick the other day to capture the colors of these leaves.  They were glowing.  I love that.  Add in a little rain and I'm totally smitten with the fall scenery.  When I looked at the photo I thought it was funny that it looked like lower and upper Michigan - which reminded me of my fall retreat here that is fast approaching!  (Inspired By Nature Retreat Link)

I still have six spaces left, are we saving a place for you?  I ordered some cards that will be sent out to a few nearby bead shops to reach out to some local beaders who may not be online.  I ordered these from Zazzle.  They are called chubby business cards and they are 3 1/2" x 2 1/2".  They are like a tiny compact postcard and offer a little more punch than a regular business card.  I'm digging them.  (That's an affiliate link to my Zazzle shop where I have some of my illustration and earring cards.)

I'm so excited about heading to Galena next week for the trunk show at Rustic River Finds. I have been working on some special pieces for the event - like these translucent leaves.  LOVING fall!  Did I mention that?  If you looking for something fun to do next weekend and are within driving distance head on over to Galena.  It's Oktoberfest, so there will be all sorts of fun and mischief to be had!  I'm looking forward to spending time with old friends and meeting new beady peeps. 

September 8, 2012

A Little Appreciation

It's not easy running an online beading empire. As the editor of the Art Bead Scene, I know all the hard work that goes behind the scenes in running events, offering content and keeping things creative.  So today I'm giving a shout out to those who run my favorite Facebook group, the Creative Bead Chat.  I have met so many talented and amazing designers through this group, it's a great place to turn when I have a question or want to share something new.  Ah, my tribe.
So a big-hearted thanks to those who run the show, above is a little sample of their work.  Be sure to visit their links today.  Pictured clockwise:

Melinda Orr
Keirsten Giles
Karen Totten 
Marla Gibson 

September 6, 2012

Fall Beads

September? I really shouldn't be surprised. I think I live in some science fiction time warp bubble where months disappear in the blink of an eye. My teens are back in school, which means more of a set schedule here in the Humblebeads headquarters. 

Over the next few weeks I will busy (translate: consumed) with making new fall beads for my trunk show at Rustic River Finds in Galena.  This is the new bead store owned by Trish Italia, the very lovely and talented mother of Jess Italia Lincoln of Vintaj fame.  My trunk show will be going on during the Vintaj 2-Day Workshop and Oktober Fest.  Rosanne and I are planning a whole weekend out of it and enjoying a little mini-vaca in the beautiful and inspiring town of Galena. 

So if you are in the area the trunk show is September 22nd from 11am - 6pm.  Check out the Rustic River Finds Facebook page to keep up to date with happening at the store.  I will be selling beads and signing books.

These just popped up on the table yesterday - I didn't plan them but I'm glad they showed up.  If they look somewhat familiar - they are the same design used in my Chrysanthemum beads

Lots of new things happening this month.  Fall is my favorite time of year and this one is already action-packed and filled with new work, events and opportunities that are waiting for me!