Archive for Beading


20 Minute Holidays

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Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game, because sharing your experiences about the process is a great way to figure things out and increase your creativity.


Brain Wave!

It’s almost November. The holidays are right around the corner.

Wouldn’t a great use of the 20 Minute Technique be to use it to work on making some holiday cards or gifts?

Heck Yes!

You know you wish you made (at least some) of your gifts–and finding the time is always the big challenge. But this way, we can make it actually happen together–20 Minutes at a time.

So what do you say we all try to carve out 20 minutes 3x a week to create handmade bits for the holidays?

Are you in?

The trick is to keep it manageable and fun for yourself. Remember, small, handmade gestures go a long way–don’t let your brain turn this idea into such a gigantic project that you end up doing nothing.

With that in mind, I thought I’d create an do-able idea list to inspire your imagination–so after you read this, if you don’t have a timer yet, head over to local electronics store and get one already.

You’ll be amazed at what you can get done–20 minutes at a time!

Handmade Holidays Idea List

  • Handmade Gift Tags or Holiday Cards
    • For another easy, handmade touch, buy your gifts but make your own fabulous gift tags or greeting cards.
    • These could also be stamped and embossed–You could make classic “From/To” tags, or use ribbon and tie your tags around a wine bottle for a cute hostess gift, or send your 10 favorite people a handmade card.
  • Decorate Holiday Gift Bags:
    • Rather than create wrapping paper, it’s simpler to decorate plain bags.
    • Just cut strips of decorative paper and/or use paper punches to create repeat patterns that you can glue onto plain gift bags. to make it feel festive, use lots and lots of curly ribbon around the handle.
    • I made this one on the right for a crafting store one season. (You can get often get pre-cut strips and shapes that make this super easy.)
    • Also, here’s a cute, simple Hanukkah gift pail example I also made just using stickers.
  • Fabulous, Fast & Easy Decoupage Vase:
    • Get a cheap vase on sale at a big box discounter–look for an elegant, simple shape and don’t worry about the color or design on the surface–it’s even better if you hate it–and transform it with decoupage.
    • My Fast & Easy Decoupage Vase video shows you how. People really love this technique–it’s very do-able.
    • Or, use all the same techniques I show on the vase, but on a simple frame or box instead. Make a set if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Earrings:
    • Earrings are great gifts and perfect for the 20 Minute Club–they’re great gifts and you can make them while watching TV. It’s also a fun way to enjoy using a variety of exciting, special beads without breaking the bank because you don’t need that many.
    • If you want to get started beading or learn about some great online bead resources, click here, here, and here.
  • Frame Your Artwork:
    • Use your coupon for a FREE trial of the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class and give a work of art or three. I LOVE this idea and may do this myself with some of the collages I created that I’ve really liked.
    • Make it really special with a gallery mat and get an inexpensive metal or wood frame from a big box craft supplies store–they’re always having sales.
    • You’ll be surprised how much matting and framing will take your collage to the next level.
    • A Tele-class session could also be a great way to create the design for your holiday card this season–all you need is a color theme to give your image holiday feeling–blue and white, red and green, metallics, you name it!
  • Make Pretty Ornaments!
    • My Glitter Decoupage Ornaments are pretty, inexpensive, and super fast and easy to make. Great teacher and co-worker gifts.
    • My Byzantine Baubles Ornament kit is my personal favorite and also great for the 20 minute technique because you’ll probably work on it in stages and it looks GORGEOUS when you’re done.
    • (Buy any 2 kits and the shipping is FREE.)
  • Sew, knit or crochet a gift:
    • It probably helps if  you already know how to sew, knit or crochet, but making a gift can also be an incredible incentive to learn, so if you’ve always wanted to ___________(fill in the blank) maybe now is the time?
    • If threading your sewing machine often stops your sewing efforts, watch my clear how-to video.
    • If you’re looking for inspiring sewing projects for the holidays, I noticed Threads Magazine just released gift project issue.

I’ll keep adding to this list as I think of more ideas.

And if you’ve got some good, do-able ideas as well, please share them in the comments!

Just remember, your handmade gift ideas don’t have to be big. It’s important to keep things doable.

I’ll share my 20 Minute Club gift making efforts with you here each week this holiday season, and I’d really love it if you joined me so you can find yourself adding a wonderful handmade element to your holiday season.


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is important of course, but it’s not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and all your efforts (big or small, creative or not) is a powerful way to make this happen.


Here are my five self-appreciations for this week:

1. I appreciate that I took a photo of my latest incarnation in the evolution of my digital collages because I was so struck by how seeing a photo of it hanging up in a room made me feel–so resolved finally–after 6 months of problem solving!

2. I appreciate how much my life in product design has taught me the patience to hang in there through difficult design problems. It took me ages to figure out how to offer my collages big and still have them look the way I wanted them to look, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, (often 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there, no lie.) until it worked itself out.

3. I appreciate a shift in my thinking this week where I’m no longer questioning whether things I’m trying are going to work, and instead, just working on making them work.

4. I appreciate that I nervously bought professional lights for my videos and photos a couple of  months ago. Owning them is really benefiting me and my projects now, even though I’m still a novice. The right tools help!

5. I appreciate that I’m getting better and better and not letting the quest for perfect get in the way of the good. It’s very helpful. I hope I keep it up. :-)

Your Turn

What do you think? Are you up for creating gifts using your timer and the 20 Minute Technique? Or have you already started on some holiday projects? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

For many readers, even if you don’t watch TV yourself, there’s a TV in your house that’s being watched.

And maybe it can feel weird or hard or anti-social to sequester yourself away from everyone else to do your 20 Minute Technique. So you don’t.

Especially if you were at work all day and the evening is the only time you see everyone–and they’re watching TV.

And honestly, TV can be an easy respite at the end of a long, hard day. And jeepers, you could use a laugh or two.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m not against TV. I’m just against too much TV.

And because it’s so easy, watching too much TV can be a habit that’s hard to break. I know it is for me sometimes.

Therefore, I thought it might be useful to talk about ways to be creative in front of the TV rather than just talk about how it would be better not to watch it.

Because the point is to be creating more–however we can get that to work.

Below are 5 creative activities that don’t take up space, aren’t that messy, and can be done while watching TV or hanging out with loved ones who do.

**I’d also like you to consider trying one of these suggestions for your TV watching time even if you normally define yourself as a particular “something else” artistically–a painter or felter or a mosaic-maker–or anything else that might require lots of room or water or mess and therefore doesn’t work so well on couches or in nice looking living rooms.

Like the stock market, it’s good to be a little diversified–it might fuel your “primary” creative endeavors in surprising ways.

5 Creative Things to Do in Front of the TV

  1. Bead. Beading is small and portable and you can do it anywhere. It’s also a little contagious so the people around you might start to join in, and then you’re connecting with the people you love on a whole new level. In addition, the options are endless and skill level doesn’t matter–you can enjoy yourself right away with beading.
    Read my 5 Great Reasons to Start Beading Today if you’re not convinced yet. I’ve also got lots of great info on where to buy tools and findings along with practical bead buying tips so you get the most bang for your buck.
  2. Needle Arts. This could be knitting or embroidery or hand sewing. If you’re thinking as you read this, “I’m not patient enough for that.” you might be surprised. It can be incredibly soothing–you just need to figure out which one suits you best. (It’s also helpful to not expect to be an expert in 5-10 minutes. Good things come to those who enjoy the process, or something like that.)
    | has fabulous videos for beginner knitters.
  3. Blind drawing. If you’d like to work on your drawing skills, this is a great activity for the 20 Minute Technique and for hanging out in front of the TV. All you need is a sketch pad, a pencil and something in front of you to stare at.
    Set the timer and, without looking at your drawing, draw what you see in front of you as if your pencil is touching it–feeling all the planes and surfaces. Try not to pick your pencil up or look down at what you’re doing.If you finish quickly, just start over or turn your attention to something else in the room and draw that.
    Don’t try to make your drawing “good” by “fixing” it–this is a observational exercise and a chance to improve your line quality by getting your judging brain out of the way.
    (You’ll also find that listening to your show is mostly enough. The commercials will annoy you more though, so be ready to hit the mute button.))
  4. Card Making. Everyone loves getting a card and a handmade one is a wonderful surprise. The small format makes it doable on the couch with a tray or sitting in front of the coffee table (I always end up on the floor). You can do the rubber stamp thing or use it as a way to scrapbook and preserve memories. If you need a few ideas to get jump-started, pick up a Take Ten magazine which is dedicated to making cards.
  5. Polymer Clay. Small and portable, soft polymer clays are easy for beginners and it’s soothing to work the clay in your hands. You can make beads, cover pens, or construct small boxes and frames. There are so many books out there on how to get started, find something that excites you.
    It’s another category like beading that provides satisfaction at every skill level–so can start enjoying yourself right away.

What have I left out? Do you have any suggestions for creating in front of the TV? Do you create in front of the TV? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear.


Bead Buying Tips–Part III

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Today’s post is a continuation of my previous posts about basic bead types, (Bead Buying Tips I and Bead Buying Tips II ) why and when you might need them, and some links to several online resources.

So, where was I? Oh yes, that’s right–I was planning to wax on about the wonderfulness of  spacer beads, so let me get right on that.

The Wonderfulness of Spacer Beads

It’s important to own a variety of “spacer” beads. Spacer beads are small or flat(ish) beads that you put in between your larger beads to create “visual interest”. (Warning: “visual interest” is a big phrase of mine…) Seriously, using spacer beads will make your projects look more sophisticated and professional (because of the aforementioned “visual interest”) and besides that, they’re fun. Spacer beads are often metal, but really, you can use any small bead as a spacer.

Read More→

Categories : Beading, Supplies
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Beads: Buying Tips Part II

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beadbuyingtips2A Fabulous Ensemble Cast

If you don’t already, one day, you’ll have a bead collection that’s a fabulous ensemble cast, with you as the director arranging them into wonderful and interesting combinations that are somehow greater than the sum of their parts.

In Beads: Buying Tips Part 1: I wrote about strategies for visiting the bead store without going broke. In this post and the next one (about beading, that is), I’m going to review several basic bead styles for folks who might be new to beading and provide a few links so you can see some examples and have somewhere to start if you need to buy your beads online.

Today’s post will focus on a few glass beads that I consider staples –beads I tend to use very often in my own projects–and my next post will focus on spacers, gemstones, and pendants. Read More→

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Beads: Buying Tips (part 1)

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Good Strategies for the Beginning (or just broke) Beadaholic

beadsonlineGorgeous beads are why most of us started beading in the first place. But it can be hard to know where to start (or where to finish for that matter), so I thought I’d share some thoughts on strategic bead buying.

The (Good and Bad) Bead Frenzy

What you need to do, of course, is buy beads that get you excited to make things. The tricky part about buying beads is the dizzying array (pretty colors everywhere!) and everything seems so cheap: twenty cents here, five cents there, a dollar over there.-ooh, cheap and pretty! But it all adds up, and the next thing you know, you’re whipped into a shopping-endorphin-driven-bead-buying-frenzy and wake up in a doorway somewhere three days later (alone and broke) and can barely remember a thing. Either that, or you wander around in a daze of visual over-stimulus and leave empty-handed. Ah, it’s a tangled retail web we weave, my friends. Read More→

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Findings: Basic Beading Supplies

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Findings, Components, and Supplies You Need to Start Beading

Pretty beads are only half the story when you want to create jewelry. Just as important are the bits that hold them together and they’re called findings or components. It’s always easier (especially at first) to see things in person when you buy them, so visit your local bead store if you have one-even Michael’s or AC Moore will do in a pinch. However, sometimes that isn’t possible, so I’ve armed you with lots of links on where to buy your findings online.


What the heck is a “finding” anyway? Findings are the parts that connect your beads together. These include ear wires, jump rings, head pins, eye pins, and clasps. This post is a great list of what you need to get yourself started.

Ear Wires

frenchhooksThere are hundreds of neat ear wires to choose from, but most are variations on three basic stylesLever Backed, French Hook, and Kidney–French Hooks are in the picture on the left here. These can be found at any store or online beading venue. Read More→

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The Four Must-Have Beading Tools

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And Where to Buy Them Online

beadingtools1You don’t need to spend a million dollars on your basic beading tool kit, but if you get the very cheapest, it’ll probably just make your life harder-especially if you’re just starting out.

You’ll see some cheap tools if you search on Google, but if they’re ridiculously cheap, they also might be ridiculously small, which can be hard to tell from a picture online.

I’m providing links for places that sell the tools I am suggesting, because I thought it would be a lot more helpful than just some vague recommendations. That said, I haven’t bought from all the retailers listed here–I just found them when I searched and their prices seemed fair.
Read More→

Categories : Beading, Supplies
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