Beads and Books by Michelle Mach - Handmade in Colorado Beads and Books: Handmade in Colorado en RSS2 30 Wed, 11 Oct 2017 21:42:02 GMT 7 Pumpkin Facts I Learned in October 2017 humor 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="7 Pumpkin Facts I Learned in October 2017 by Michelle Mach," src="" /><br /><br />My relationship to pumpkin is complex.<br /><br />I'm the type of person says that it's fine if we don't have turkey for Thanksgiving, but we absolutely <em>must</em> have pumpkin pie.<br /><br />At the same time, I would <em>never</em> buy pumpkin spice shampoo.&#160; That's just crazy talk.<br /><br /><strong>7 Facts About Pumpkins I Learned In October 2017</strong><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Orange, bulbous, inhuman creatures have certainly dominated the news this month.&#160; Here are a few new things I've learned about them:<strong><br /></strong></p><strong> </strong> </p><ol><strong> </strong> <li><strong>Pumpkin is not really pumpkin.</strong><br />You know that can of pumpkin you buy at the store every autumn, the one that says &quot;100% pumpkin&quot;?&#160; Yeah, not so much.&#160; It's actually squash!&#160; Apparently squash makes better pies than real pumpkin, which can be rather bland.&#160; I first learned this on NPR's Marketplace podcast (&quot;<a href="">Your pumpkin pie is a lie</a>&quot;) and then confirmed it by reading <a href="">Bravetart</a> by Stella Parks, a book I highly recommend.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks has dairy in it!</strong><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" src="" alt="Pumpkin Spice Keychain" /></a><br />I found out this one the hard way.&#160; If you're trying to avoid milk, ordering your pumpkin spice latte with soy, almond, or coconut milk isn't enough.&#160; Real milk gives me migraines, so I did a little digging after my second (and last!) pumpkin spice latte.&#160; Yep, sure enough I found: <a href="">Is Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte Dairy Free?</a><br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Some people <em>really</em> don't like the smell of pumpkin.</strong><br />According to <a href="">an article in The Washington Post</a>, a school in Baltimore was evacuated due to a bad smell that made it difficult for some students and teachers to breathe.&#160; The Hazmat team was brought in and they determined that the cause was a pumpkin spice air freshener.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>One reporter went pumpkin spice crazy.</strong><br />One reporter wrote about <a href="">buying every pumpkin spice item</a> she could during one week.&#160; My favorite quote concerned her pumpkin spice dog biscuits: &quot;My dogs loved them! They also love eating garbage straight out of the can.&quot;<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>The pumpkin capital of the world is Morton, Illinois.</strong><br />I learned that the Libby plant in Morton cans 80% of the world's pumpkins in this <a href="">article by Good Housekeeping</a> featuring 15 pumpkin facts.&#160; (Note: The <a href="">city website</a> claims over 85%.) I always love learning about small towns that have a singular point of pride.&#160; The even have an annual pumpkin festival that attracts 70,000 people.&#160; (The town population is around 16,000.)<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Pumpkin beer is not a hipster invention.</strong><br />I always thought pumpkin beer was new (and frankly, weird), but it actually dates back to colonial times, according this &quot;<a href="">Pumpkin Beer History</a>&quot; article.<br /><strong><br /></strong></li><strong> </strong> <li><strong>Pumpkin carving has gone way, way beyond triangle cut-outs for facial features.<br /></strong>See some of the amazing pumpkins that are <a href="">carved as part of Pumpkinferno in Canada</a>.&#160; I am astounded by the <a href="">pumpkin dragon</a>. Wow!<br /></li> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Pumpkin Earrings by Michelle Mach" /></a><br /><em>Shown here: My handmade <a href="">Pumpkin Earrings</a> are made with hand stamped copper and niobium (hypoallergenic) ear wires.&#160; The handmade <a href="">I [Heart] Pumpkin Spice Keychain</a> is made with copper and finished with a strong stainless steel key ring.</em><br /></p></p> Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:05:00 -0600 Quick Shop Owner Tip for the Holidays: Make Two business 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Holiday Tip for Handmade Shops: Make Two" /><br /><br />Are you ready for Christmas?<br /><br />If you're a person who only shops for gifts in December, then that question is likely to sound ridiculous.&#160; It's early October!<br /><br />If you're a shop owner, especially one who owns a handmade shop, your response is likely to be more like mine:<br /><br /><em>Arghhhhhhhhh!</em></p> </p><p class="break"><p>I never feel ready for the rush of the holiday season, even though I often start preparing in the summer.&#160; This is my sixth year as an online shop owner and I know enough to know that I will never feel fully ready.&#160; There are just too many variables:&#160; Will people shop mostly in November or wait until the last minute in December?&#160; Will one of my products be featured somewhere in December and cause an unexpected late rush of interest like the earrings featured on <a href="">27 Inspiring Gift Ideas for Writers and Readers</a> did last year?&#160; Will one of my trusted vendors stop carrying the one unique item that I need and can't get anywhere else?&#160; Will I run out of boxes?&#160; Will the post office lose my packages?<br /><br />This year I've tried to be more deliberate in my preparations:&#160; studying spreadsheets of past sales, gradually stocking up on common supplies, and organizing my finished inventory into clearly labeled containers and drawers.&#160; The biggest thing I've done to get prepared is:<br /><br /><strong>Make Two</strong><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>In the summer and fall, whenever I get an order for an item that I can remake, I make two.&#160; One to ship for the order and another to set aside for the hectic days later in the year when I need items that are ready to ship.&#160; It saves time to work in batches either to make your individual components or entire items.&#160; <br /><br />For example, if I'm going to darken a batch of raw copper, I always make sure that I do a bunch of pieces at once rather than pull out all the supplies I need each time.&#160; Similarly, it's rare for me to hand stamp only a single item.&#160; If I have my metal stamps out, I nearly always make more than one piece.&#160; I find that I get into a certain rhythm and pieces turn out better when I'm in the swing of things.<br /><br />If it's something I can't fully make (something that requires personalization to finish, such as my <a href="">Typewriter Ornament</a>), then I just make the parts I can make now.&#160; Anything I can do now will save me time down the line.&#160; <br /><br /><a href=""><img border="0" alt="Breathe Keychains by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a><br /><font size="1">Two of my <a href="">Breathe keychains</a> that I made on the same day. One has been shipped to a customer; the other is waiting for its forever home. </font><br /><br />If you only make one-of-a-kind items, you're not off the hook!&#160; If you make one necklace, don't stop there.&#160; Make a matching pair of earrings or a bracelet.&#160; Or make two items that are structurally similar such as pendant necklaces on chain, but totally different in terms of color or style.&#160; Simply adding an another item or two every day will make a big difference down the line and doesn't add too much time to my regular workday.&#160; This year it's been especially important for me to do this since I've been selling larger wholesale orders now that my items are stocked in <a href="">several U.S. shops</a>.&#160; <br /><br /><strong>Don't Worry, Keep Making!</strong><br /><br />I'll admit that making and storing inventory is always a little scary to me.&#160; It feels safer to only make items as they are ordered, but that can cause long hours during the holiday season.&#160; I'm worried that I'll guess wrong in what I make.&#160; What if this is the year people stop being interested in hand stamped bookmarks?&#160; I've been stocking all these aluminum keychains, but what if tastes change and everyone wants brass?&#160; <br /><br /><a href=""><img border="0" alt="More Books Less Sleep Bookmark by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a><br /><font size="1">What if reading moves completely from paper books to digital? Will I end up with a lot of leftover hand stamped bookmarks like my <a href="">More Books Less Sleep</a> one pictured here?</font><br /><br />Talking to someone who owns a food truck made me feel much better about making lots of inventory.&#160; With jewelry, it's often possible to take apart components and reuse them in future items that I might sell.&#160; I can modify old items with paint or other layers, so that the original version is no longer visible.&#160; I can choose to donate unsold earrings to places like <a href="">Ears for You</a>.&#160; If it's jewelry made with sterling silver, I can opt to sell it as scrap for cash. If I were stocking something like milk or lettuce, I wouldn't have the luxury of so many options.<br /><br /><a href=""><img border="0" alt="2016 Star Christmas Ornaments by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a><br /><font size="1">Two of my 2016 <a href="">star ornaments</a> that did not sell. I'll need to decide what to do with these, but two extra ornaments is an easy problem to solve.</font><br /><br />Go forth and make lots of beautiful handmade things this fall!&#160; Think of it as a kind gift to your future stressed out self.<br /><br /> </p></p> Thu, 05 Oct 2017 14:07:00 -0600 October Reading Challenge: Spooky and Horror book reviews 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><strong>October</strong> <strong>Genre Challenge:&#160; Spooky and Horror<img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" alt="12 Genres in 12 Months" src="" /></strong><br /><br />I don't enjoy scary books, so I initially felt stumped by this month's theme for the <a href="">12 genres in 12 months</a> reading challenge.&#160; However, I think I found a loophole: scary books written for children.&#160; I'm assuming these will be less intense than those for adults. &#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended Reads<br /><br /></strong>Here are a few books I've read that you might enjoy:<br /></p> </p><ul> <li><a href="">Rebecca</a> by Daphne du Maurier<br />I read this classic Gothic novel earlier this year in for the <a href="">Thrillers/Suspense category</a> of this challenge and found it surprisingly enjoyable.<br /><br /></li> <li><a href="">The Graveyard Book</a> by Neil Gaiman<br />I read this children's book as part of my <a href="">Newbery award book project</a>. It has an interesting premise: what might happen to a child who was raised in a cemetery?<br /><br /></li> <li><a href="">Misery</a> by Stephen King<br />This creepy book about an author and his biggest fan might be the only Stephen King novel I've ever read. (&quot;Read&quot; is probably too generous a description.&#160; I have a feeling that I skimmed or skipped the truly gruesome parts.)<br /></li> </ul><p><strong>What I Might Read</strong><br /> Here are the books that made my short list: </p><p class="break"><p><a href=""><img border="0" alt="Blind Date by R. L. Stine" src="" /></a><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #1: </strong><a href="">Blind Date</a> by R. L. Stine<strong><br /></strong><br /><strong>Why this interests me: </strong><em>Blind Date</em> was R. L. Stine's first book in this genre.&#160; It's aimed at young adults.&#160; I love that he wrote joke books before attempting his first horror book.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:&#160; </strong><a href="">Attack of the Spooky Script</a> (an interview with R. L. Stine)<br /></p><a href=""><img border="0" alt="The Tell Tale Heart" src="" /></a><br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #2: </strong><a href="">The Telltale Heart</a> by Edgar Allan Poe<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me: </strong>I vaguely remember reading Poe's works in school, but I honestly don't remember the specific details.&#160; It would be fun to revisit one and see what I think as an adult, especially knowing there won't be a quiz at the end!<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:&#160; </strong><a href="">45 seriously spooky (but not quite scary) books</a><br /><strong><br /></strong><strong><a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="We Have Always Lived in the Castle" /></a><br /><br />Possibility #3: </strong><a href="">We Have Always Lived in the Castle</a> by Shirley Jackson<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me:</strong> The only piece I remember reading by Shirley Jackson is her famous short story &quot;The Lottery.&quot;&#160; I'm curious to read this 1962 novel by her, especially since it's described as &quot;excellent for those reluctant to read horror.&quot;&#160; Perfect!<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">Surefire YA Scares: 13 of the Best Teen Horror Books</a><br /><br />I'll be reading one (or more) of these books this month.</p> </p><p class="break"><p>For other book ideas, check out my <a href="">Book Recommendations</a> board on Pinterest.&#160; I'll be adding book lists throughout the year as I come across intriguing ones.<br /><br /><strong>Next Month (November): </strong>Mystery. This is one of my favorite genres, so I should have lots of good recommendations for you!<br /></p></p> Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:14:00 -0600 Is It Southwestern Style Jewelry ... Or Not? beads jewelry magazines 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p class="break">Jewelry and craft magazines love themes.&#160; It does make it easier for editorial staff to organize content.&#160; Readers seem to love too, as it is fascinating to see variations on a theme all grouped together.&#160; As a jewelry designer, I like the idea of working with themes.&#160; Rather than seeing it as restrictive, I see it as a challenge:&#160; <strong>How can you put a personal twist on a theme and still have it ring true? &#160;</strong><br /><br /><strong>What Is Southwestern Jewelry?</strong><br /><br />The theme for the &quot;Fast and Fabulous&quot; section of the <a href=";mid=37853&amp;">October/November 2017 issue of <em>Beadwork</em></a> was Southwestern jewelry.&#160; Color suggestions were given (red, turquoise, brown), but no other specific limitations.&#160; An old article titled &quot;<a href="">Make Southwest Style Jewelry</a>&quot; on the publisher's website suggested specific color combinations of turquoise and silver, turquoise and red, or brown and blues.&#160; (I was surprised to see my <a href=";mid=37853&amp;">Copper Cowgirl</a> necklace listed in the examples.&#160; That's one of my earliest magazine designs from 2007 if you want to see where I started.)<br /><br />The features that I associate with this style (primarily from looking in shop windows in Santa Fe, New Mexico) are bold/statement necklaces, lots of turquoise, dark brown leather, occasional red accents, and lots of bright silver.&#160; <br /><br /><strong>A Few Examples of Southwestern Jewelry</strong><br /><br />Looking over some of my older handmade jewelry designs, here are a couple that I could say could fall into this theme:<br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Desert Bloom Bracelet by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a></p> </p><p class="break"><p>My Desert Bloom bracelet appeared in the <a href=";mid=37853&amp;">Fall 2016 issue of Jewelry Stringing</a>.&#160; This bracelet combines the standard turquoise, red, and silver colors with a touch of black.&#160; I think the hand stitching and the thicker leather cuff also fit this theme well.&#160; You can read more about it in the <a href="">original blog post</a>.<br /><br /><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Turquoise Ranch by Michelle Mach" /><br /><br />My Turquoise Ranch necklace is an affordable design I made using Bead Gallery beads from Michaels.&#160; The use of the braided leather, the turquoise beads and the almost bolo tie pendant shape say &quot;Southwestern&quot; to me.&#160; I did use touches of green, which is not characteristic.&#160; I think if I were to make this design today I might have gone full steam ahead with just turquoise in the two small oval bezels.<br /><strong><br />A Design That Isn't Southwestern, But Could Easily Be Transformed</strong><br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Blue Chip Necklace by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a><br /><br />This <a href="">blue chip necklace</a>, on the other hand, I wouldn't classify as Southwestern because the colors are not right.&#160; However, if I substituted turquoise chips for the dark blue chips, it would fit the theme nicely.&#160; It's definitely a bold statement necklace, which is one of the features I associate with Southwestern jewelry.&#160; I think the same silver beads and large chain would look great in a turquoise version. (A <a href="">step-by-step tutorial with photos</a> is available if you want to make something similar.)<br /><br /><strong>An Early Version of a Southwestern Necklace</strong><br /><br />My jewelry design experience has taught me that there is a balance between keeping true to a specific style or theme and going completely your own way.&#160; So for my <em>Beadwork</em> necklace, I wanted to see just how far I could twist some basic parameters (bold statement, turquoise, silver) and still have at least a tentative connection to the Southwestern jewelry theme.<br /><br /><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Early version of Southwest Serenity" src="" /><br /><br />My first attempt (which I did not submit to the magazine) used the requisite colors, but I changed &quot;bold&quot; to &quot;delicate&quot; and &quot;silver&quot; to &quot;gold.&quot;&#160; I liked this necklace quite a bit, but it no longer felt &quot;Southwest&quot; to me.&#160; I felt like the pendant in particular had moved this necklace into a different theme altogether.&#160; The pendant in any necklace does draw the viewer's eye, so any changes there can have a larger impact than other parts of the necklace.<br /><br />I set it aside for a bit and decided that I needed to tweak the pendant, rethinking the fussy wirewrapping and the modern-looking gold circle background. <br /><br /><strong>My Final Version</strong><br /><br />Here was my next attempt (and the one that appears in the magazine):<br /><br /><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Southwest Serenity necklace by Michelle Mach" src="" /><br /><br />Nature (flowers and butterflies) aren't particularly associated with the Southwest, but I felt like adding those elements did not completely remove the design from the Southwest theme.&#160; It's a matter of balance.&#160; Going overboard on these elements (adding a floral clasp or ten butterfly dangles) would&#160; tip the design too far.&#160; <br /><br />Removing the gold filigree would have likely made a stronger Southwestern connection, but there was a matter of practicality at play: I needed some kind of background piece to connect the turquoise flower to the antiqued brass circle blank. And to be completely honest, I did not have time in my schedule to seek out a different kind of connector before the magazine's deadline.&#160; Sometimes <em>you</em> make design decisions and sometimes they are made <em>for</em> you!<br /><strong><br />Also In This Issue</strong><br /><br />In the <a href=";mid=37853&amp;">October/November 2017 issue of Beadwork</a>, I wrote a short article for the last page of the magazine (Bead Buzz) about the women in Nepal who are making and selling jewelry to rebuild their village after a devastating earthquake.&#160; So inspiring!&#160; I really enjoyed writing this piece.&#160; You can check out their project at <a href="">Langtang Designs</a>.</p> </p><p class="break"><p> <a href=";mid=37853&amp;"><strong><img width="231" vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" height="312" src="" alt="Beadwork October/November 2017" /></strong></a> </p></p> Wed, 13 Sep 2017 10:11:00 -0600 September Reading Challenge: Graphic Novels and Picture Books book reviews 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><strong>September</strong> <strong>Genre Challenge:&#160; Graphic Novels and Picture Books</strong><br /><br />This month's theme for the&#160; <a href="">12 genres in 12 months</a> reading challenge caught me by surpriseā€”in a good way!&#160; I felt exhausted by the end of August and the idea of reading a shorter, simpler book with illustrations appealed to me.&#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong><img align="right" vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="The Little House" />Recommended Reads</strong></p> </p><p class="whiteline"><p>I read a lot of picture books as a kid.&#160; To jog my memory I looked at lists such as <a href="">The 100 Best Children's Books of All Time</a>, <a href="">19 Classic Picture Books You Should Still Have On Your Shelf As An Adult</a>, and the <a href="">Caldecott Medal Winners</a> list.&#160; There are so many good ones!&#160; It's funny to realize that some books like <em>Swimmy</em> and the <em>Madeline</em> series I only remember for the illustrations; I have no memory of the stories at all.&#160; In contrast, I do remember the basic plot of <em>The Little House</em>, but only because the sequential pictures so clearly illustrated the story point by point.&#160; <br /></p><strong>What I Might Read</strong><br /><br /> Here are the books that made my short list: </p><p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Extra Yarn" /><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #1: </strong><em>Extra Yarn</em> by <a href="">Mac Barnett</a><strong><br /></strong><br /><strong>Why this interests me: </strong>I love the idea of a kid's book focused on yarn.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:&#160; </strong><a href="">A Teacher's Idea: Caldecott Award Winning Picture Books</a><br /></p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="What are you scared of?" /><br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #2: </strong><em>What Was I Scared Of?</em> by <a href="">Dr. Seuss</a><br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me: </strong>I thought I'd read every Dr. Seuss book, but this title didn't look familiar. I'm fascinated by a newer edition that claims to use glow-in-the-dark ink!<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:&#160; </strong><a href="">Next Year Linky Writing</a> (scroll down to BE BRAVE).&#160; The photo collage of the recommended &quot;brave&quot; books from this blog is all over Pinterest, but no one seems to be linking back to this original blog post which is a collection of links for teachers.<br /><strong><br /><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" /><br /><br />Possibility #3:</strong> <em>Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? </em>by <a href="">Roz Chast </a><br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me:</strong> I've occasionally run across Roz's funny cartoons from <em>The New Yorker.</em>&#160; I'm interested in seeing how she develops a longer story line.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by: </strong><a href="">9 Graphic Novels Every Grown-Up Should Read (Reader's Digest)</a> <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Hark!: a vagrant" src="" /><br /><br />Possibility #4:</strong> <em>Hark!: a vagrant</em> by <a href="">Kate Beaton</a><br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me:</strong> I'm intrigued by the mix of people from literature and history that this book covers.&#160; (Nancy Drew and Napoleon are two mentioned in a description of the book.&#160; Have I ever read a book that covered them both?&#160; I don't think so.)<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">Best Graphic Novels for Women</a><br /><br />I'll be reading one (or possibly more) of these books this month.<br /><br />For other book ideas, check out my <a href="">Book Recommendations</a> board on Pinterest.&#160; I'll be adding book lists throughout the year as I come across intriguing ones.<br /><br /><strong>Next Month (October): </strong>Spooky/Horror<br /></p></p> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:35:00 -0600