Monday, December 30, 2013

News and a Freebie!

Hi, all!  Wow, it's been a long time since my last post.  I've been knee deep in other projects and my poor blog comes up late in the queue.  The good news is that I've been working on good things!  Onward and upward!  :)

I'm sure everyone knows by now because I've been shouting it from the rooftops, but I have just been chosen (and invited, and of course I screamed an enthusiastic yes!) to be an instructor at Wubbers University, an online jewelry school!  Wubbers University teaches metalsmithing, wire working, beadwork, metal clay work, you name it.  I'm so honored and excited to grow and evolve with this school!  My first class is being prepared and after the holidays I will be in their rolls as an instructor.  Squee!

Now for the freebie!  ~fanfare~  This is my Holiday/New Years gift to you, my loyal friends, family, fans, clients, colleagues.  Enjoy these and I'd love to see your finished earrings!  My email is in the tutorial if you'd like to send me photos.  I have a Client Showcase album on my fan page on Facebook  and I would love to share your photos.

Please respect my copyright and don't redistribute this tutorial.  You can easily link your friends to this blog and they can get their own copy.  Thanks so much!

For a downloadable and printable copy, you can find the tutorial on my website's Free Tutorial Downloads page.  Grab the other freebies if you don't have them, also!  My apologies for the ugly black frames- I can't seem to get rid of them in Blogger.  The downloadable version is prettier.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!!  <3  Val~

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Hi, all!  My local friends and family can all attest that they love my pumpkin bread!  It's the first thing they ask for for family events and holidays and everyone always asks for the recipe.  I thought I'd share it with you so you can try it!

It tastes different according to how you cook it.  For instance, if you use large loaf pans (2), it takes a long time (over an hour) to cook, the outer crust may blacken a tad bit on top but the inside is so moist and yummy.  It seems to me as if the spices are more pronounced when you make large loaves.  If you make muffins with the recipe, the cooking time is less (common sense) and if you take them out just when a toothpick comes out clean they are very nice and moist.  I've made cakes in large pans (9x13) and used cream cheese icing with great results, too.  Recently I've taken to using mini loaf pans.  I love them!  So cute and they're a great size to grab and run (which Mom does... she sneakily grabs one and runs).  :)

My pumpkin bread is 100% milk and nut free (my daughter is allergic).  If you'd like to stir in 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans it would taste really great.  You could also try some chopped, dried cranberries.  Oooh!  You know what would be cool?!?  Shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas).  :)

So here it is, all typed up!  (I even painted the pumpkins.) Be aware that I don't time my recipes... I cook by smell.  If it smells good I check it.  It's always worked for me!  :)
Click the photo for a downloadable and printable .pdf version (scroll to the bottom of the linked page).

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!  If you have any great pumpkin recipes that are dairy and nut free, let me know!  ~Val

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Catching up!

Hey, y'all!  Wow, it's been a while since my last post!  My apologies- things get hectic for me this time of year.  Hmm, so what's new?  This is gonna be a long post, guys- get comfy!

Well, teaching is going fantastic!  I've been having such a blast with my ladies and making new friends!  I'm getting new students in my classes now and we just have a ball.  Fun, fun!  Our Thursday class this week had coffee and doughnuts.  Woo!  8 ladies all hopped up on sugar and coffee!  :)  It was great and we laughed a lot.

Tutorials!  I think I've posted 2 new tuts since my last blog entry:  Cirque and Pathways.

 Cirque Tutorial by VCArtisanOriginals

I'm linking to my ArtFire shop because I've discovered that most of my Etsy sales are "in house", meaning they come from Etsy browsers.  With that in mind, I may as well advertise my ArtFire shop!  :)  

Cirque is my version of herringbone stitch using Super Duos and seed beads.  It's a technique tutorial and includes a page of exclusive graph paper that I designed just for this tutorial.  

I finally managed to get my tutorial posted for Pathways!  This one was long-awaited and I'm happy with its reception!

 Pathways tutorial by VCArtisanOriginals

Pathways also looks fabu with Rullas in place of the bricks!  My friend Michel showed me her version using the Rullas and I like it very much!

Here is a sneak peek at my next tutorial:  Janet!  I created a netted necklace using Super Duos (of course... you know me!) as a gift for one of my wonderful ladies, Janet's birthday.  I have the tutorial illustrated and I just need to assemble and word it.  Life is hectic lately so I'll get to it as soon as I can.  

coming soon:  Janet by VCArtisanOriginals

Let's see... what else?  Oh!  I revamped my shops!  I changed all my cover photos:  I creatively cropped some, rotated others, switched out colorways on still more and splashed the "tutorial" ribbon on all of them!  It's been a big hit and I personally think my shops are pretty now.  :)  It was worth my day that I spent editing them all!  Here's a "before" and "after" of my Etsy shop:

Before:  lots of white space and smaller photos.

After:  larger photos, uniform lines and better cropping.

I also have:  3 bracelet designs, a necklace or two and some Christmas ornaments in the works.  Stay tuned!

So, what are you up to?  Any new projects?  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Gift for the Beading Community!

Hi, all!  Boy, I was up all night working on gifts for y'all!  I sure hope you will enjoy them!

As most of you know by now, probably around 90% of my designs incorporate Super Duo beads.  I got a few initial ideas for using them when I began to design tutorials and then ideas just exploded in my head!  I'm still not out of ideas just yet so I expect to be using them for quite a while.

I have been unable to find any graph papers that utilize the Super Duos so that's what I created for you!  I created these 100% free to use graph papers.  There are 5 graphs in all and I will probably make more if I can dream up any other Super Duo stitches.  Below is an example:

So!  Where can these treats be found?  [Right Here] of course!  I added a new page just for the graphs to my website,

Before you head over there, though, I have a quick blurb, copied and pasted from my graphs page on my site:  

This page contains absolutely free graph papers that I created by hand for the beading community.  These can be shared, printed, redistributed and used by bead stores and beading teachers.  Designers can insert these in tutorials without fear of repercussions.  You may use these on your website (it would be wonderful if you could credit me) Free means free!  I have two rules:  

(1) These will remain free.  Do not sell these blank graphs!  If you color one then you may do as you wish but the blank pages are my gift to beaders and designers alike and are not intended for resale.  

(2)  Please leave my name and website URL on the papers.  It's a small thing to ask for my time and energy in creating these graphs.  Please show respect and don't claim the actual graph papers as your own work.  (An exception would be if you are just using the papers for yourself and not redistributing them.)  If you print, copy, use for commercial use, post on websites or gift them to people I ask that you please leave my name in place.  

That's it!  Enjoy with my compliments!  ~Val

I really hope you like them!  They aren't mathematically perfect but they are hand illustrated.  That netting one took me hours to create.  :)  Please feel free to use these! Print them, email them, link to them, I don't care as long as you leave my name/website on them.  I want to be remembered for some sort of contribution to the beadiverse, hah!  Super Duo Goddess, yeah!  Enjoy!  ~Val

Friday, August 30, 2013

New Freebie on the Bead Mavens Blog!

Hi, all!  I'm very tickled with the reception so far on my post today on the Bead Mavens Blog!  I was a bit disappointed  that I worked so very hard on it and when I posted my screenshots the text was blurry.  :(  However, Mikki will help me to remedy that so I'll fix it when I can.  I've posted a link to my website where the tutorial is available as a free download.  I assure you it's not fuzzy!  :)

Here's the link to the Bead Mavens blog post featuring my free tutorial:

Enjoy!  ~Val

Friday, August 23, 2013

She's Lost Her Mind!

Hi, all!  Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment and perhaps I've lost my mind, but lately I've been thinking of expanding my market base.  Today I opened a studio on ArtFire.

I know, I know!  Two shops?  It's a pain, eh?  I bought a 3 month trial period so if it doesn't work out I will close up but I figured hey...give it a shot!  I spent the entire evening changing titles and descriptions (to preserve my SEO) and finally the shop is ready to debut.

Believe me, my Etsy shop isn't going anywhere!  I'm loving Etsy and their instant download capabilities are awesome!  I am working on growing my business; I don't plan to move over to AF.  I'm going to work with both!

To celebrate, I'm holding a 15% off sale in my ArtFire shop for this week (ending next Friday the 30th).

Check it out!  [VC Artisan Originals on ArtFire]

Enjoy this photo of my son's yawning kitty (photo taken by him) - I'm so sleepy now!

Oh!  Also, we got 2 new kittens today for a grand total of 5 cats.  Photos soon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm a Maven! Yeah, Baby!

Hi, all!  I'm so, so excited to finally be able to announce that I've been chosen as one of the new Bead Mavens for 2013-14!  I've been sitting on this secret for months and I'm so relieved to be able to finally share the news.

I've always wanted to be a Bead Maven and my dream is now a reality!  here is the blog post announcing me:

Visit the [Bead Mavens blog ] and follow it!  We will be posting free tutorials and great tips and tricks for beaders.  Each day this week a new Maven will be announced- there are 6 of us- and on the 7th day Mikki Ferrugiaro will be posting a free tutorial!

So far I've been announced (yay) and the fantastic Patrick Duggan was announced today (yay!!).  Stay tuned to the Mavens blog tomorrow and all week for the next exciting reveals!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Enter the Mirrix Looms "Me Time" Contest to Win a Free 8" Lani Loom!

Hi, all!  I'm so, so excited to announce that I'm now a Share Sponsor for Mirrix Looms!  I'm just tickled!  I'll be sharing their contest announcements.

Mirrix is holding a contest and the prize is an 8" Lani Loom!  Here is some info from Mirrix:

"Everyone has their 'me' time. For some it's a relaxing bubble bath and for others a long walk. For many of us, though, 'me' time happens at the craft table. We find solace in making. We find inspiration in creating. We need this time to nurture our souls and to take some of the stress out of everyday life. 

For Mirrix Looms' latest contest, they ask you to describe how creating art is your 'me' time. This is not limited to weaving fiber or beads. Any art counts. Speak from the heart. They will have five guest judges from the bead and tapestry communities pick the top twenty entries and the public will vote for their favorite out of those. Start dreaming up your answers! "

Visit the URL for contest rules and instructions (and to check out the awesome prize loom!).

Photo courtesy of Mirrix Looms

In celebration of this great honor, I've created a logo!  I really like this one and I've updated [my website] to include the new logo in the header.  I've also changed things around a bit so stop on by and take a look!

For those who enter the contest, good luck!  I wish you well!  Now hop to it!  :)  

I'd love to own a Mirrix one day!  What would you do with one?  Would you weave beads, tapestry and fabrics or all of the above?  Beaded fabrics?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Draconis is ready!

Hi, all!  I worked long and hard lately on diagrams and the tutorial for my latest design, Draconis!  I really hope you will love it!

I have had success with spirals in the past so I'm hoping he is well loved (yes, Draconis is male--I assign gender to my pieces, hah!)

I worked all day today on the wording and instructions and I'm happy to say that he is listed in my Etsy shop!  Phew!  On to the next one, lol!

Here he is in all his glory:

I also used my new software to make the tutorial so the pictures are pretty, if I do say so myself!  :)  Here's the listing link:  [Draconis]

That's all for today!  Have a great day!  ~Val

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Humility, Self-Worth and a Pledge

Hi, all!  As most of you know by now, I'm relatively new to the design world.  I've been beading for a few years now and teaching for several years, but I only began creating tutorials in late February and early March this year.  In that time things have gone so well!  Things have far surpassed my expectations and I'm very humbled and proud. I've gotten to know new students and befriend returning clients.   I've met wonderful designers and reconnected with people that I hero-worship and I'm feeling truly blessed and grateful.

I felt the need to show a picture.  :)  

I have some new projects in the works and I've begun to approach bead vendors and manufacturers because there are some beads that I'm just passionate about (you all know of my obsession for Super Duos, but I'm also obsessed with Preciosa seed beads and druks-especially 3mm).  I've been beading long enough to know what I love to work with and what I don't particularly care for.  I do my little part to push the bead obsession on to you, my beady pals. Anywho, big things, they are a-coming!  :)

The drawbacks of meeting and knowing fantastic designers, for me, are self-effacement and negative self-worth.  I see wonderful, beautiful works by my friends and I truly feel not worthy.  Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this phenomenon.  I've always thought negatively about braggarts and egotistical people so I try my best to stay humble.  However, when is humility... too humble? Somehow, for me, humility sort of ends up morphing into a negative self-image.  

I can chatter with people and say, "Oh, this month's sales were great!"  or, "Good things are happening!" and later I'll feel like I was bragging.  I need to distinguish "bragging" from "pride".  I should feel proud for accomplishing goals without feeling shame for that pride.

When I see the gorgeous works of others, I'm so proud of them and proud for them! It makes me happy when people create wonderful works of art (beadwork IS art!). However, at the same time I get this niggling thought in the back of my head that I'll never be this good, I'll never be this creative, I'll never think up designs like that!   If I compare my work to other artists' work, my self-esteem takes a nose-dive.  I truly don't see my work as all that special.

I don't think I'm alone in this but I have to steer away from this sort of thinking.  A wise person recently told me, "Don't judge yourself against tends to have a negative effect." She's right!  I have another friend who is always ready with supportive words of encouragement and she says I've got talent. :) (being my friend is a lot of work, no?  Hah!)  Another friend told me, "Apples and oranges." So true!

You really can't compare your work to someone else's.  That's sort of the beauty of bead work:  Every artist is different.  I haven't ever met two beaders that shared the exact same style or aesthetic.  We are all unique and so is our art.  So, it's like comparing apples to oranges.  Yes, Beader A did a fantastic, phenomenal, huge collar with lots of gorgeous, complex stitching.  But if you're like me and prefer to bead simple, no-frills bead work, you can't really compare us.  

So, I'm making a pledge to follow my friend's advice:   "Have faith in your designs and just keep learning."  I'm going to NOT compare my work to other beaders' works (OK, OK, I'm seriously going to try!).  I'm going to work on my confidence and keep on keeping on!  You can't truly be a success without a great sense of self-worth.  Sure, my work may be simple for some tastes; it's also really great for those who like that sort of thing.  :)

So, that's my pep talk!  :)  I know I can't be the only beader with confidence issues. I urge you to take the pledge, too!    ~Val

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Etsy Beadweavers July Challenge: Beautiful Summer Flowers

Hi, all!  I'm so happy to be a member of the Etsy Beadweavers Street Team!  We have monthly challenges and each one is fantastic.  My fellow teammates have posted some pretty amazing and beautiful pieces this month.  I didn't participate in this month's challenge but I'm spreading the love!

This month's theme is very inspiring:  Beautiful Summer Flowers.

Here is a graphic/sneak peek at the entries!~  On our blog poll you can click to enlarge these photos and get a good look at the entries on Etsy.

It's voting time so make sure you head on over to [our team's blog poll ] and cast your vote for your favorite piece!  It's quick and easy to vote.

Great job, everyone!  I cast my vote!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Newest Tutorial and a Freebie!

Hi, all!  Well, I've finished my latest tutorial, Principessa.  It took me weeks to complete this one and I'm pretty proud of it.  I've created 3 colorways for your viewing pleasure!  This tutorial is 10 pages long and includes lots of diagrams, detailed instructions and a lot of care.  My updated graphics program really put the Zing! in this one- it's a thing of beauty if I do say so myself.

You can find Principessa [HERE] in my Etsy shop.

Here she is in lovely shades of blue:

Here she is in fuchsia and red iris:

Here she is in green and bronze:

I was going for an old-fashioned look, akin to a lace doily.  I think it's pretty sweet!  :)

Ok, since you've read this far, how about that freebie?

Well, to celebrate the upcoming holiday and to get you in the Independence Day mood, I've decided to, for a limited time, post my Celebration II tutorial on my website for free!

Simply click the "Download file" link to download your .pdf.  No strings attached, no email signup or membership requirement or anything.  It's simply free.  Enjoy!  Of course, my normal, anti-sharing policy is still in place.  If your friend wants it, tell them to download it for themselves.  :)

[HERE] is the link to your free tutorial!  There is also a download for the free Rose Garden bracelet tutorial, so help yourself to that one as well.  There is a hidden menu bar when you download the file (bottom center of the page) that will allow you to resize the view, save the file or print it.  Enjoy!

I hope you'll like it!  It's a sneak peek at my new graphics software for the illustrations and my new tutorial layout, created by scratch by yours truly.

So, do you have holiday plans?  I'm spending time with the family and maybe catching up on my mountain of work.  What about you?

Friday, June 7, 2013

New, Improved Tutorials on the Way!

Hi, all!  As some of you from facebook may know by now, I've been playing with a new graphics software (well, it's new to me anyways).  I really, really like it and I plan to buy it when my free trial expires.

It's called CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6 and you can find it HERE .  I know it's costly, but it has a free 30-day trial and a subscription option!  I plan to order the subscription, which is considerably less expensive than the "box".  Maybe one day I will afford the box version but a benefit of subscriptions is that the upgrades are included.  :)

I'm sending a special thank you to my friend, Mikki Ferrugiaro, who sent me the link to Corel and encouraged me while I plugged away at learning the program and creating my first tutorial with the software.  You rock!

So!  My debut tutorial using the new software is Celebration II.  It's a retake of my classic and beloved (to me) Celebration pendant.  Retake?  Why, yes!  This is a 1-needle version of my original, 2-needle design.  I made it as a special favor to my friend, Michel Bowersock.  It really is worth a look.  I changed the layout and design of my tuts, added a mini photo gallery to the last page to see examples of finished pieces from the tutorial, and the graphics are improved.

Now, I'm not going to say my other tutorials are bad!  I get a lot of compliments on all my tutorials.  They are easy to follow and I've had no complaints whatsoever.
Still, there is always room for improvement in any venture and I'm excited about tutorials to come!  Onward and upward, as they say!

I'd like to mention briefly about the Battle of the Beadsmith that's been ongoing this week.  I'm astounded by the beautiful pieces and the effort that the wonderful artists have expended in this competition!  Several of my friends have fantastic pieces in this Battle, and several of my teamies in the Etsy Beadweavers have entered.  It makes me proud to know such talented bead artists!  I'm humbled in your presence.  There's also the Bead and Button show going now!  I tell you, it's beading overload!  Beaders Unite!  We're taking over!  :)  I know a few that are there now and I'm living vicariously through them.  Well done, all of you!  Well done, indeed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bead Crochet!

Hi, all! This week I've taken a break from my tutorial writing to learn a new skill: Bead crochet!  I've crocheted all my life but I've not been very successful with using small beads to create a rope.  I finally have it down and I'm loving it!

Here's my very first successful bead crochet rope:

I love it!  :)  Here's another view just because:

And here's my experimentation with size 8 hex beads:

Last night, I was incredibly tickled to run across a software program that lets you design your own bead ropes!  Squeeee!  So, I'm tinkering with that and I hope to create something fabulous soon.  I will definitely work on a bead crochet tutorial soon, but I want to experiment a little bit first.

So, this software!  It's called Jbead and it's a free download and it's free-ware, meaning you can use it and not worry about stepping on anyone's toes, etc.  Here is their website: 

They don't have tutorials, which is stinky, but you basically color in the middle column.  The column on the left side shows the stringing order and the column on the right is the actual rope and how it will look when beaded.  There are arrows in the toolbar that you can use to rotate the rope to see the back side of the rope.  It sure comes in handy!  I've made some cute patterns only to turn the rope and realize the back side isn't meeting up correctly or it's just plain ugly.

You can also save and print the charts once you make them (the print icon is blanked out until you color in some tiles and then it's available).  You can just do enough to get a repeat on the design- you don't have to color in the entire strip.  You also can control the width and length of your graph, copy and paste (from the left strip), etc.  The numbers next to the squares on the far right side tell you the stringing order if you don't want to use the chart.  it's very handy!  If it says 3 blue, 2 red, 1 white, then you string in that order:  b.b.b.r.r.w  :)  The only problem I have right now is that some websites say to read the charts from the bottom to the top and some say to read from the top down.  the color square chart on the right side suggests that, for this program, you read from the top down.  I'll have to test the theory with a bit of rope.  Have fun with it!

So, what do you think of my new blog?  I'm probably overextending myself but I thought it may be fun.  Oh!  If you've read this far then you deserve a treat:  For 15% off your purchase in my Etsy shop (click the link in the sidebar), enter coupon code "VCAO15" during checkout!  This coupon code expires June 1st.