Meet the Creative Author

:: This post was inspired by my new friend Grumpy Kitty. Be sure to stop by her blog, as she has some good stuff.

Hey People! My name is Claudia. I live in Upstate New York. I live my wonderful boyfriend who is amazing beyond words. We have a kitty cat name Carlos. I’ve been doing creative things as long as I can remember. I strongly focused on the arts when I was in high school and some college. I even had some of my work displayed in galleries. I remember participating in competitions and coming out on top. It was a great ride, but that came to a halt when I got a little older.

Although life has taken me on many different paths, I have always managed to keep creativity in my life. I always kept drawing, painting, writing, cooking, doing collages in all kinds of mediums…you get the idea.

I’m very fortunate to have two wonderful careers. My primary career is in Information Technology. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years (wow, I feel old). In this career I have done many things. Wed development and design, system and database administration, help desk and training are just the highlights. Currently, I serve in a role where I specialize in Information Security. In this role I am a software engineer and also perform system administration duties. It feels great to work really hard for something that helps people.

My second career is in fitness and aquatics at the YMCA. This is probably the longest time that I have held on to a part time job (almost 10 years). Working at the Y changed my life. I currently teach Aqua Fitness (boot camp style classes), and group cycling classes (think Spinning). I also sub other class when I can (kickboxing, step aerobics, body sculpting, etc). I really love working at the Y.

Aqua Boot Camp
Aqua Boot Camp
Pool Pals
Pool Pals
Group Cycling
Group Cycling
M&M Award
Mission and Membership Award

So, I guess that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, so I decided to start a new hobby: making jewelry. Now, I’m not going to say that I’m an expert by any means. However, my very strong creative background has really given me an edge. Bead smithing has given me something very positive to focus on and keep me occupied. I currently am only crafting bracelets (because I love them so much), but soon I will be moving to different peices such as necklaces and earrings. We’ll see what happens from there.

I have created so many bracelets, and everyone has been raving about them. So, I decided to start an ETSY shop to sell some of my work. If you would, please take a moment to check out my shop.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog! And don’t forget to check out my girl Grumpy Kitty as well. Grumpy Kitty…that makes me laugh.

Enjoy and Happy Beading! ::C

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Bead Shopping Woes

I got into crafting jewelry and bead smithing because I thought that this would be a nice, affordable and relaxing hobby.  I figured that it would help me curb some of my other bad habits, keep me occupied and is an opportunity to channel my creative juices.  And it most certainly has!

What I quickly learned is that all these seemingly cheap strands of beads can add up – and add up fast.  There is nothing like the gratification of walking into a craft store, picking out some matching beads to make a fetching piece and actually feel it in your hands.  Then you do the same exact thing about 10 – 12 times.  Well, it’s about that time that I walk over to the register to check out and realize that my total costs for beads and supplies far exceeds three figures.  I said: 

Me: “A HUNDRED AND WHA???”
Cashier Person: “One hundred and seventy two dol…”
Me: “I heard you the first time.  For real tho?”

And then I look down in the bag with all the beads that I have just thoughtfully chosen with care:

beads

Me: “Oh.  My bad.”  Plastic get swiped…

An incident like that will really make one reflect on the approach to bead shopping.  I started thinking about this and how I can better strategize bead shopping to get the most bead for my buck.  I am by no means good with money at all.  But, I do have some tips that will help you save some green.  It comes down to 4 key elements: sales, shameless couponing, bulk ordering and free shipping.

Local Craft Stores
These would probably be your go-to bead place by default.  In my area, we have 3 major craft stores.  The trick with these guys is to look for the sales in the Sunday flyer.  If you don’t get one in your paper?  That’s when it’s time to go online and look to see who is having a bead sale.   Most of these places will offer a coupon of some sort.  TIP:  Go early in the week to get the best of the lot.  If you wait, you’ll be picking through scraps.  Make sure you picked up the beads that are on sale.  Some places try to get slick.

Ordering Online
I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon.com.  It’s so easy to impulse buy for beads and other goods.  The nice thing about shopping for beads on Amazon is that you can buy a higher quantity of beads for a much lower price.  If you are a Prime member, that’s even better.  A good chunk of the orders will be free shipping and arrive within 2 days.  Evil, I tell you.  TIP:  Even if you are not a Prime member, there are plenty of places that will offer free shipping.  Better than paying 2.25 on a baggie of loose beads and pay 5 bucks for shipping.

Bead Specialty Stores
Unless a bead specialty store is in your area, it will be hard to spot coupons and sales.  I usually think of these places as a treat to visit.  Beads everywhere!  TIP: Take the time to speak to the store keepers.  They are usually very knowledgeable about jewelry making, and if you ask them questions of any kind, they are usually very receptive.  If you are bold enough, ask them to point you in the right location for a great price in their store.

Coupons
Most of the local stores in my area have a coupon weekly that says “get ##% of one regular priced item“.  Yeah, that’s all fine and good.  But one coupon for one strand of beads?  There are many shameless ways to get around this.  This includes bringing your people with a copy of the coupon so they can buy beads for you, and leaving the store and coming back an hour later with a hat on and a different shirt.  This is extreme shameless couponing right here.  If I had my heart set on a couple of strands of very choice beads that are not on sale…I would totally do this.  Don’t be shy – the worst they can say is NO.  Then just say “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know I couldn’t do that”, and walk away.

Some bead magazines also have online coupons with codes that are included.  If you don’t want to buy the mag, browse in the book store to find the codes.

Also, never underestimate the power of google.  You could always search for coupons and codes for online shops and local stores.

With a little planning, you can save some serious money on beads and supplies.  Unfortunately, it’s just like shopping for anything else.  The more you buy, the more you save.  Good luck! ::C

Easy and Clever Crafting Spaces

If you are getting into jewelry making, or crafting of any kind, you will probably be needing some kind of “space” to set up shop.  And, if you are like most people, finding a space just for your crafting will be challenging.

I actually got lucky.  My boyfriend has a charming 3 bedroom home.  We have our bedroom and then the guest room.  In the “other” room, we share all share it.  The cat’s toilet and food is in there.  The washer and dryer is in there.  My boyfriend’s desk for all his interesting office things is in there.  And my crafting corner is in there.  At first the cat was not happy with sharing HIS room with me.  But, he got over it.

It was his idea to set me up a workstation in that room.  He took an old door that he doesn’t use anymore and propped it up on some old tube-style TV’s and some other old wood to get it pretty high.  The use of the door as a table is PERFECT because of the grooves that will catch my beads.  I can also start a project and just lay it in the grooves if I’m not up for finishing it.  It’s nice and long, so it gives me plenty of space to move around.  I highly recommend the door.

crafting_studio

When I browse on Pinterest, some people have done very clever things for a crafting station.  Most of the time, I don’t see a dedicated room just for crafting or smithing.  Usually it’s a shared space.  I like some of the examples I saw of turning a closet into a workspace, or even sharing another room (like I’m doing).

Next what you will have to think of is storage of your supplies.  This is the very easy part.  It just takes a little creativity to come up with solutions that will fix your space and the supplies that you keep in stock.  I work a lot with jewelry, so this is what I will focus on.  Here are a few cheap ideas, without actually stepping foot into a craft store:

  • Ice cube trays for sorting and storing beads
    ice_cube_tray
  • Baby food jars (or other small food jars)
    glass_containers
  • Egg cartons – throw them in some plastic bins from the dollar store for more secure storage
  • Old spice rack with original jars
  • Cheap jars from the dollar store
  • Miniature glass cups or bowls
    glass_bins
  • Pencil cases for bulkier supplies, such as pliers, thread, tape measure
  • An old tackle or toolbox

Some of this stuff may not be the most attractive way to store your craft supplies.  And, everyone knows that you need to be surrounded by inspiration in order to work your crafts.  However, there is nothing like a little paint to brighten things up just a touch.  Even something as simple as stickers will make an old tackle box seem like a soft place to store craft stock.

I know some folks have more excuses than a missed deadline not to get working on their creative ideas.  Hopefully this post will cross one of those excuses off and you can get to crafting!