Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Purple Mandala Collar Finished!

Last night, I finished a second bead embroidered collar, my Purple Mandala collar!

My second bead embroidered collar of 2012, and I'm very happy with it! I used those beautiful vintage glass cabochons from Beadin' Path, and I added some Swarovski bicones and freshwater pearls in the fringe. I don't know if I'm totally happy with the colors, but happy enough - I have three shirts that look perfect with this collar.

On that note, tomorrow I'm scheduled to fly to Tucson tomorrow afternoon, and I'm still feeling like crap. Muscle aches, weak, tired... I went back to the doctor yesterday because after four days on the antibiotics, I didn't really feel a heck of a lot better.

This afternoon, I'm going to see my acupuncturist to see if she's got any magic tricks she can use to help me get ready for this trip. I do not want to miss my first trip to the Tucson gem and mineral shows. I can't help but think that I have to have the worst timing of anyone, anywhere in the history of the universe with this stuff.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Working It

For Christmas, my dad sent us a bundle of Amazon gift cards. After trying to figure out what to get with them (aside from Colden's new mp3 player), we decided to get some "real" office furniture for me for my living room corner office...

So the other night, Tom and Colden had a little putting-together party, and on Saturday I managed to drag myself out of bed long enough to do...

THIS! My new office setup in the living room! Great light coming in from the front window, and my back to the warm and cozy wood stove. I love it - the printer is up here. My Ott Lite is right above my work space. And I have a real bookcase for storage. I love it!

I was still feeling crappy on Saturday, even after a full 24 hours on the antibiotics, but the sight of the bookcase and desk sitting askew in the living room was too much for me. While Tom took Colden out to practice riding his tricycle, I moved stuff around and got organized. And promptly went right back to bed for a nap!

This morning, I'm glad to say that I'm feeling better. Still a little tired, still a little achy, but not as bad as it was on Thursday and Friday where even my fingers hurt. Glad that I went to the doctor Friday morning, because I do not want to miss this trip to Tucson!

More on my Tucson preparations later...for now, I have to get back to finishing my last two newsletters before I head out on Wednesday morning!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Road to Tucson

Today is all about getting ready for Tucson! So was yesterday, and so will the rest of this week, in fact... I have a to-do list as long as my arm, but I am so excited to get on that plane on February 1 and jet off to sunny Tucson, Arizona for the bead shows!

Yesterday, in a fit of optimism, I went to Target and bought a couple of new shirts and a new pair of pants that actually fit me. In trying to plan my wardrobe for the trip, I discovered that I do not own a single pair of nice-looking pants that actually fit me anymore.

I've already picked out what jewelry I'm going to wear - at least I've got my priorities straight, right? I've been stitching away on this bead embroidered collar, and I'm down to the last 2 inches or so!

While I was shopping at Target, I found a lovely, warm, oversize lavender sweater wrap that will look just perfect with this!

This is a piece that I started years ago, back before I got pregnant with Colden. I think I may have actually started it during the early part of the pregnancy after the exhaustion went away but before the nausea stopped. I put it down and then just couldn't find the "oomph" to pick it up again until just recently. Now it's part of my goal for 2012 to finish beading all six brass embroidery collar blanks in my stash.

I had no idea where to start with the bead embroidery between the vintage Lucite cabs, which is probably why it sat in my UFO drawer for so very long. But since I've been having so much fun making those beaded mandalas lately, I decide to make "mini mandalas" between each of the cabs.

So far, so good, although I'm not 100% pleased with the color palette. It's a little more monochromatic than I had originally planned.

Once I get the embroidery done, I get to do the yummy part: glue it to the brass embroidery blank and stitch it to the Ultrasuede backing. Then the fringing, and I should be good to go before February 1! One collar down, one killer piece of beaded jewelry to wear in Tucson!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Copyright Rant Follow-Up: Copyright vs. Patent

So, it seems in the Crazy Copyright Cake War that was going on yesterday, there was some confusion between a copyright and a patent. I feel it is very important to clarify between the two, since this seems to be the source of the conflict.

As defined by the U.S. Patent Office:

"A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.

"The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.

"There are three types of patents:

Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;

2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."

To clarify the matter further, yes, you can patent a design. However, there is more information on what is and is not acceptable for a design patent:

"Improper Subject Matter for Design Patents
A design for an article of manufacture that is dictated primarily by the function of the article lacks ornamentality and is not proper statutory subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 171. Specifically, if at the time the design was created, there was no unique or distinctive shape or appearance to the article not dictated by the function that it performs, the design lacks ornamentality and is not proper subject matter. In addition, 35 U.S.C. 171 requires that a design to be patentable must be “original.” Clearly a design that simulates a well-known or naturally occurring object or person is not original as required by the statute. Furthermore, subject matter that could be considered offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group, or nationality is not proper subject matter for a design patent application (35 U.S.C. 171 and 37 CFR § 1.3)."

Now, I'm no attorney, but I take that to mean that since finger cuffs like this have been around for centuries, you can't file a patent on them and prevent someone else from making them. (You can't patent a pendant that hangs from a chain, because they have been around for thousands of years.) In this case, you might be able to patent a particular hinge joint on the finger cuffs, if it was deemed new and useful, but not the finger cuff itself, since these types of cuffs have been around for hundreds to years.

Copyright, on the other hand, is a very different sort of animal. A copyright would cover, say, the instructions for creating such a finger cuff and prevent someone from using those directions and then claiming that they were their own. However, a copyright does not prevent someone from making as many of these objects as they please.

You can take a beading stitch like peyote stitch, write and illustrate your own directions, and copyright those so that you have the exclusive rights to that particular set of directions. However, you have not earned the exclusive right to use peyote stitch and forbid all others to do so, as would be the case with a patent.

Does that make sense to everyone?

So there it is. If this person who claims to be suing Mikki thinks that she has a patent on beaded rings that cover more than one part of the finger, she's most likely mistaken. Either someone was asleep at the patent office that day, or this person is confusing the difference between patent and copyright, which are two entirely different things.

The bottom line is this: copying someone's work is just bad for everyone. That said, I do believe that more than one person can come up with the same design. There are lots of talented beaders out there, and you know what they say about great minds and all that.

What bothers me the most about all of this is the zeal with which Mikki has been attacked. Does the person who threatened to sue her REALLY think that she is going to earn fame, fortune and a mansion in Palm  Beach by patenting beaded finger cuffs? (Which she couldn't do, anyway!) If she does, well, good luck to her. Otherwise, this just seems way too mean-spirited to be of any merit to anyone.

And I think that's what a lot of this comes down to. Sure, there are things that you can do with a copyrighted pattern or design, as Sig rightly pointed out on my last post. But, really, is that an ethical or moral thing to do? Just because it's legal doesn't mean that it's right. We're all people trying to earn a living doing something we love, and we should be making an extra effort not to step on toes and to be respectful to each other and our craft.

Now. That's all done, and Colden and I are off to a play date this morning!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Really, is there a full moon? Or some planet in retrograde somewhere? Something is seriously screwed up in BeadLand this week, and I'm about to out a copyright-violating Etsy seller, so here we go, SOPA notwithstanding.

Yesterday, one of my wonderful friends on Facebook mentioned that this Etsy seller, Areva, was downloading free tutorials from some very well-known and well-respected bead artists and SELLING them in her Etsy shop!

At first, I was like, for real? Am I really seeing this? She wants $5 for a tutorial you can download for free on Sabine Lippert's website? Then I looked a little closer and, lo and behold!, she was charging $5 a pop for two of my free tutorials that I published when I was over at About.com!

Now, I don't own the copyright to those tutorials. But The New York Times does. After mulling over this for a few seconds, I promptly sent this thief messages that said I was the designer of those projects and the copyright owner was The New York Times and that they had been notified that she was violating their copyright.

And then this morning, lo and behold!, they were gone! Poof!

To the copyright thieves everywhere: do you really think we're this stupid? Do you really think that we're not going to find out if you try to sell our free tutorials in your Etsy shop?

The Sisterhood/Brotherhood of the Designing Beaders is stronger than you might imagine. When you mess with one of us, you mess with ALL of us, so take heed! If we find out that you are violating copyright, or just doing things are unethical and not very  nice, we will take you down.

So, in the middle of all this craziness over this person who thinks she can sell free patterns in her Etsy shop and get away with it, my dear friend Carol Dean Sharpe finds THIS on YouTube:

And I think more than a few of us threw up in our mouths a little when we saw this and heard what this clearly uninformed person had to say about copyright.

When I watched this, the first thing I thought was, "Are you kidding me, lady? Have you EVER tried to make a living as an artist selling your OWN designs and not just riding the backs of more talented artists than yourself?"

Did this person ever wonder why large companies and corporations hire entire teams of intellectual property lawyers to defend against copyright theft?

Then this afternoon, to add the icing to the Crazy Copyright Theft Cake, Mikki Ferrugiaro has been informed that she can't release the tutorial for her gorgeous Finger Armor design because there is someone out there who thinks that she can PATENT all beadwoven rings that cover more than one part of the finger. And apparently, this person has a very well-paid (and potentially unscrupulous) attorney who is suing Mikki. (Head on over to Mikki's blog and scroll down to see her gorgeous Finger Armor.)

Oh, but then it gets even better - this person also asked Mikki if she could share how she created the hinges in her Finger Armor design so they could be included in HER instructions.

Now, come on. You can't make this shit up.

So, here's my take on this whole thing:

If you didn't sketch it out, sit up for hours beading it while breaking needles, bleeding and missing out on much-needed sleep until all hours of the night, then sit down and write out the seventeen-page tutorial complete with illustrations that made you sweat more blood, you have no right to sell it.

There's a REASON why those companies have attorneys to protect their intellectual property interests. They spend a lot of time and money developing these things, and it's the same for independent artists, but without all 2,500 middle men between the CEO and the person who rings you up at the checkout.

And the independent artists might not have a whole team of high-priced corporate lawyers, but their rights are the same as the rights of the corporation. (Remember that whole corporations-are-people thing? Yeah, well, people are people, too! And we all have intellectual property rights!)

So even if the independent artist DOESN'T have all this legal firepower at their behest, it's still just not a very nice thing to do when you copy someone's work and sell it as your own. Remember when you were in grade school? If you looked over at your neighbor's math test and started copying their answers, then got caught, wouldn't you have just died of embarrassment? Well, it's the same thing now that we're all (supposedly) grown-ups. You gotta play nice.

My sister, a college English professor, routinely flunks students who she catches plagiarizing. And it's not just "kids" either. She's caught adults (who supposedly know better - one of them was a MINISTER, for cryin' out loud!) who think they can take someone's work and thoughts and vision and pass it off as their own.

Now, I don't think it's ILLEGAL to copy someone else's essay and turn it in to your college professor. But that violates academic standards for pretty much every college and university in the United States. And probably Europe, too. And if you get caught doing it, it's grounds to be kicked out of that school.

Note that last line: And if you get caught doing it, it's grounds to be kicked out of that school.

So, anyone who's thinking that "in these tough economic times" it's perfectly okay to take those designs that you see in magazines and on the Internet and copy them and sell them as your own should take note: if you get caught (and you will get caught), not only will you be publicly embarrassed and humiliated, but you will get kicked out of BeadLand for good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Birthday Boy

The days are just slipping past me, here. January is more than half over. In just two weeks, I fly to Tucson for three nights for the gem and mineral (and bead!) shows. And my little boy turned four on Sunday!

We had a nice play date with some of his friends from preschool, and then Oma and Opa came over on his birthday to celebrate with us. He was hilarious as he opened his presents, which included some new wooden trains from the Thomas the Train collection and a brand-new Radio Flyer tricycle from Oma and Opa!

After a dinner of deer meat (Colden's request), vegetable stew and homemade bread, we had birthday cake. Colden made sure that we all wore our birthday hats, and he thoroughly enjoyed it when we sang to him.

Later, Colden and I were hamming it up for the camera and Tom snapped this picture of the two of us cuddling in a living room armchair.

Trying to get myself and Colden prepared for my trip to Tucson in two weeks. I'm so excited about the bead shows and the shopping and getting to meet so many of my beading heroines, but I'm a little worried about how Colden will deal with my absence again. I'm putting a positive spin on the trip, telling Colden that he gets to spend all this time with Daddy while I'm away and that I'll be bringing back some beautiful rocks and crystals just for him. I hope it works this time!

I'm also looking forward to getting some sleep while I'm away. The trip out to Tucson is going to be hellish - including a four-hour layover at the Las Vegas airport - because I won't land in Tucson until 11:10 p.m. AZ time, which is what, 2:00 a.m. East coast time? Bleagh. But sleeping around here has been difficult at best lately. Colden still insists on getting into bed with us at 1:00 a.m. every night, waking us up after only a couple of hours of sleep. And then he thrashes around in bed, kicking and hitting and pulling on my hair. What usually happens is that I end up abandoning ship and going to sleep in HIS empty bed until he wakes up around 5:30 and crawls in there with me.

Last night was particularly bad. Colden was restless, and we had some bad wind storms with gusts over 50 mph rattling our 80+ year old house. When I did fall asleep, I was having tornado nightmares. I'm writing this blog this morning in hopes that it will get my writing brain moving again, but so far, it doesn't feel so good...

Oh, well. Maybe a couple of other inspirational blogs before I get down to the other work I need to do today!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Michelle Mach's Snowflake Challenge Revealed!

I'm late to the party as always, and I'm not quite finished with my challenge piece yet, but here's what I'm doing with those gorgeous ceramic pieces by Chinook Jewelry:

I wanted to do some beadweaving (obviously), but it was a challenge for me to figure out how to suspend these gorgeous elements. What I finally did was use circular peyote and netting to create a star centerpiece, and then I started stitching a beaded chain.

Originally, I thought I was doing a chevron chain for the beaded chain. But at 3 a.m. as I was trying to get back to sleep, I realized that I wasn't doing chevron - I was actually doing a triangular version of right-angle weave! How did that happen? I don't know, but let's just say I'm thinking about right-angle weave in my sleep lately. (More on that in a future Beading Daily blog!)

Of course, I'll post a better picture of the completed piece once I finish it. But for today, we've got lots of birthday celebrating to do with my little four-year-old! How time flies! It's been quite an adventure since Tom and I embarked on this journey called parenthood, and I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything!

So, if you're having a nice, lazy Sunday morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and check out the rest of the participants in Michelle Mach's Snowflake Blog Hop!

Gorgeous stuff! Happy Beading, everybody!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Office

Ever since the basement was wrecked in the spring floods, we've been pondering what to do about my office. Truthfully, I was not keen on the idea of working down there all winter. Unless the heat is cranked up, it's chilly down there, and I really didn't want us to spend the money on fuel oil just so I could work down there. But Tom didn't want my office in the living room anymore.

Once I made the fuel oil argument, however, he agreed that it would be much better for me to make a corner office in the living room.

So today, once the bills were paid and the dust settled, I went on over to Amazon and bought a new desk and matching bookcase. Hooray! The only thing I love more than buying new office supplies is buying new office furniture, so this was a real treat for me.

Tom's big treat will come when the new furniture actually arrives and I can clear up the clutter and get re-organized in the living room.

Hmmm...Do I need some new file boxes and a new desk set?

Why, yes, I think I do... Off to Staples this weekend for some new office supplies!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Night Owl

Back before I had Colden, I used to be a night owl. I would stay up into the wee hours of the morning after Tom went to sleep, beading and watching movies and sketching. I was always like that, even when I was a kid. If I went to bed before eleven p.m., it was an early night. Even when I owned the shop, we didn't open until ten in the morning, so I could easily sleep in until eight or nine after a long night of beading and art-making.

Since I had Colden, however, things have been different. Obviously, when you have a newborn, you sleep when you can. And then when Colden started with his crazy sleeping-waking patterns, I had to continue to sleep whenever I could. I found myself so exhausted at the end of the day that I couldn't stay awake past nine, even if I tried.

Lately, though, I've found that I start to get my creative juices going after dinner - which, of course, conflicts with other things like bath time and bed time and what precious little time I get to spend alone with Tom these days.

I'd love to find a way to get back into the swing of things and be able to work late into the night. But Tom gets up and is out the door around six every morning; Colden needs to be dressed, fed and ready to head out the door by eight-thirty. There's no way I can stay awake until two and then be up at six to get Colden ready.

But night time is always when I feel like I come alive. It's when my fingers and my beads all seem to be able to come together and the work and the designs just flow... One day, I'll be able to get back into my night time groove. Just not now. I just need to find a way to make my groove work during the day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Tonight, Tom and I are starting a four-week parenting class at Colden's preschool, given by his teacher. We've heard wonderful things about this class and we've been looking forward to taking it for several months now, but it's going to be a hard thing for us. Since it meets on a week night, this means that Colden has to spend the entire afternoon and most of the evening at Oma and Opa's house - a long time for a four-year-old to be away from home. And Tom and I are used to being in bed by nine p.m. lately, since we're still dealing with the middle-of-the-night wakings.

What makes me a little sad today is that this morning, I was totally not present at all during our morning routine. I was thinking about how much work I had to get done, my projects, my new camera lens, Colden's birthday this weekend, the bills...and before I knew it, Opa was here and it was time to get Colden dressed and out the door.

Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal, but that means it'll be twelve hours before I see my little boy again, and then he's going to have to go straight to bed (as are we) if we expect to be awake and ready to go on time the next morning.

Why does it seem like time moves so fast lately? The cousins were here for seconds; I turned around twice, and suddenly Colden is four years old and in preschool. I'm preparing for my upcoming trip to the Tucson gem and mineral shows, which will probably zip past at the speed of light...

Sometimes it seems like the only time I can slow things down is if I sit down with Colden and do something with him, or if I sit with my beads while he's playing with his trains or his crayons. Even my work days just seem to zip past me while I'm not paying attention lately.

If I could slow down time, or even back it up to this morning's breakfast routine, I would have spent more time with Colden instead of worrying about the dishes and the day's agenda and my deadlines. I'll always have deadlines. But my little boy is growing up right before my eyes.

Monday, January 09, 2012


It's a little sad without the cousins around anymore. Colden has talked about them every day since they left, and last night as we were doing bedtime, he just spontaneously started singing "Manamana" while Daddy was reading to him.

Putting together the gingerbread house on Christmas Eve...

Hamming it up at The Wild Center with Kinsey...

Reading Thomas the Train with Kady...

My sister and I didn't have cousins growing up, so we never had this kind of friendship, and I love watching how the girls and Colden have become friends.

I've spent the last few days looking for some plane tickets for later this summer so we can go out to Reno and visit them. It's been six years since we've been out there, so I think we're overdue for a trip, and I think Colden would have such a great time seeing the horses and the mountains out there.

Cold morning today. Not nearly as cold as it should be, but cold enough that we've had the wood stove going 24/7 for the last week. Some gentle snow falling today, and I'm hoping for more so that we can actually go sledding this winter! We're nearly halfway through January, which means that usually, we'd be planning our maple sugaring work for next month. But since we haven't had much of a freeze this winter, we're worried that we won't get much. Anyone who says that global climate change isn't happening is, in my honest opinion, obviously out of touch with what's going on in the world around them. But that's a whole other rant for another blog...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


So, I mentioned earlier that I recently bought a copy of Wendy Ellsworth's amazing book about beading and spirituality, and I got totally hung up on the first project of beaded mandalas. Here are my first two efforts:

I knew which colors I wanted to use for the first (purple and orange) mandala, but couldn't get to it right away because of the holiday madness going on around here. But I sat down with my nieces one morning (which is a whole other blog post) and taught them how to do bead embroidery by making mandalas with them.

As I was stitching away on this one, I got to the chapter all about color, with Wendy's discussion about color and chakras at the end of the chapter. Which, of course, inspired me all over again to make a second mandala, this time in greens, maybe to help facilitate my healing in the coming weeks.

I started small with these mandalas, using a 2-inch square of Nicole's Bead Backing, and trying to limit myself to no more than four colors of beads.

Stitching away at these, I did notice a sense of relaxation, and a feeling of things starting to come together. I felt a little sad at the end when I finished the edging around each one, like maybe I wasn't ready to stop stitching just yet. These feelings have inspired me to start on a new, larger mandala at some point in the near future.

For now, I think I may have bit off more than I can chew in the beading department. I'm trying to keep up with my earring-a-day challenge over on Beading Daily, working towards my goals of completing one large bead embroidered collar every eight weeks or so, working my way through Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs, and now wanting to work on these beaded mandalas.

I have to say, Wendy's book has definitely inspired me and made me stop to think about how I feel while I'm beading. I'm eager to continue exploring these feelings and to continue reading her book... But for now, back to the beads and the blogging before our farewell dinner with Kathy, Kevin, Kinsey and Kady tonight.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Bead Porn

Whenever I make one of these big, honkin' bead-embroidered collars (or cuffs), a few of my non-beading friends refer to them as "Bead Porn". And maybe that's what they are. A little over the top, but totally wearable, and so much fun to make!

I haven't finished one of these since 2008 when I had Colden. There was just no time! But since Colden is nearly four now (I can't believe it!) and he's in preschool and I'm working full-time again, I managed to squeeze in some beading time. And now I'm completely hooked.

So one of my goals for 2012 is to finish the other six blank brass embroidery collar forms that I have sitting on my dining room table. I've already got one of them started from back in 2007 - I had to set it aside when the nausea from the pregnancy got so bad that I couldn't sit up for very long - so I'll be working on that one this week.

First day back to work for me since the holidays, and Kathy and Kevin and the girls go home on Thursday. It feels like they just got here! And while I'm sad to see everyone go back to Reno, I'm craving a return to our usual routine.

Monday, January 02, 2012

My Word for 2012: Grace

I saw that my beady friend Jill Wiseman doesn't do New Year's resolutions, and I think that's smart. What she does instead, which I think is even smarter, is to pick a word for the year. She chose the word "Joy".

So on New Year's Eve, as I was closing my eyes and getting ready for sleep, I thought about what word I wanted to choose for this coming year. As I relaxed, the word "Grace" immediately popped into my head, so I looked it up to get a clearer definition. This is what I found:

"Grace: noun, \'gras\
1. unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration and sanctification
2. a virtue coming from God
3. a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine Grace"

After reading that very first definition, I knew this was my word for 2012. In 2011, my life changed in many wonderful ways, and I was utterly humbled and grateful for all of it. For 2012, I feel as though I'm ready to start exploring a more spiritual path as an artist, and this is going to be how I do it...

So many more things I want to write about today! But, I don't want to blow them all at once. For starters, I don't want to cram it all in to one blog post. One day at a time...