Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teeny Photo Studio Built By Hand

Two weekends ago, I went to a local photography store, and looked at their tools for photographing close-up (what they call "macro") for the jewelry. Okay, they didn't have what I'd seen online, and the tools they did have were both expensive and somewhat scary.

But I did commit to a really nice table-top tripod with a magnetic mount. Love it. You'll see it below.

Then my niece (she of the photo expertise) sent me a link to how to build your own light-tent, I looked at that and at some of the other small jewelry/beading close-up light tents and other tools available online.  She also left me some neat florescent light bulbs which are supposed to be color-balanced, and some background sheets of paper in white, black, silver and gold.

Some of the kits I found online, that came prepackaged with light-tent, lights, reflectors and tripods, were reasonably priced, at $50, some were much more expensive, at around $300. I suspected the lower end kits were a bit cheesy, reviews online weren't complimentary of the quality of the lights, etc. The high end seemed a bit extreme. 

Building my own light-tent...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Studio, Artspace, A Big Fat Lot of Work

When the kids move out, it's time to repurpose their former space. Last year, my husband's daughter decided to go live with her mother in NC, so we have her room to claim for an artspace.

We had a job just to clean it out after she left. Not a good packer, that kid. That got done, 94 garbage bags later. Slowly since then we've been working on it. Tore up the carpeting. Scraped off the popcorn ceiling (thank you, 1970s). Ripped down the awful florescent light. The 1970s have a lot to answer for, actually.

Painted the ceiling and half the walls. Yesterday I went to Liquid Lumberdators and ordered a lovely cork flooring that my husband & son can install, hopefully without too much fuss.

The intention is that this room will serve as a glass studio, a photography area, and overflow storage for my beading. It's got lovely large windows, which are very dirty at the present.  There's also a bed we'll be saving for guests. My kiln will be installed (with appropriate fireproofing), and I may or may not acquire a microwave kiln and a cheapo microwave with which to use it.

I think I'll still work on my beading in the living room, though. It's a comfy place where I can listen to TV over my shoulder and commit snarky comments as necessary to my husband.

More later on storage and workspace systems that seem to be working for me.  Once you have more than two beads, storage becomes an issue.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Subset of the Above

Now I'm trying to decide what to take with me to work on while on vacation. We leave for Mendocino in a bit. I'll have days to look at the ocean and bead.

I can't take everything. That would be silly. Whatever I take,  though, I know I'm going to need something I leave at home.

So. I think I should settle on some projects I can box up and take. I have a bunch of "project size" plastic boxes that will hold just about everything I need for a single project. That way if I get stuck on one, I'll have another to move on to.

Tools. Basic tools? All the darn tools? Hmm. Definitely a magnifying lamp and another lamp. The eyes aren't what they used to be.

Oh well. If there's anything I simply must have, it'll mean a trip to the bead stores in Mendo or Fort Bragg. How awful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Finally, a Decent Photo

So my niece came over and we played with light and shadow and my new tripod and came up with this new photo of my commission piece. My friend is waiting patiently for it, since I don't want to give it up until I have a decent picture of it.

The color is pretty true, though the large cabochon actually has a bit more blue. It's so preeeetttty!

I think I see more of what she was doing, watching her set up the lights we have and bounce it, try to eliminate shadows, etc. I can figure this out. Though I'll probably need some more hand-holding to figure out what settings to fiddle with.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It Looks So Easy In the Magazine! or How to Learn New Techniques

In the April issue of Bead & Button magazine, the cover story intrigued me. It was a peyote tube with increases and decreases that make the tube spiral.  The author attributes the technique to Aleta Ford Baker, so I will too. I have been wanting to learn various spiraling techniques for a while. The instructions looked simple enough, until I started to follow them.

The picture is of the three tries it took me to figure it out. The first one, on the left, was a pathetic attempt in two colors, like the pattern. They were similar but not identical greens.  I could not figure out where I was or where I was going no matter how many times I counted those beads. I gave up after about 20 rounds.

Then I figured that the important landmarks as I worked were the first bead in the A color (in this case, red) and the double beads inserted in every other round in the B color (green). So I changed the first A to an orangey-yellow, and the double B to bright yellow, and started the middle effort, number two.

Once again, I was at sea. The increase was easy enough to figure out, it was that double B. Where was the supposedly paired decrease? I guessed here there and everywhere, getting it wrong and wronger. I ended up with too many or not enough spaces for my next round of peyote, and finally threw up my hands.

Along about this time I was morally certain there was something wrong with that pattern. They must have skipped a step or put in too many or miscounted or something. I was certainly following it exactly! Frustrated? You bet.

But I wasn't giving up. I'd gotten farther this time, and I determined to conquer this technique. I started again the next day. This time the double A is bright yellow, the double B is orangey.

I sat down with some colored pens and the magazine page and colored in the bead diagrams in the pattern. Each step of the way I drew in red, green, yellow, orange, and visualized carefully how the flat diagrams would look when pulled up into the tube that is the actual beadwork. Oh, and I labeled my little dishes of beads, so I wouldn't get confused (okay I mean more confused) as I worked.

I made rules for myself..."after the double B, two stitches and then step up, after the single B, two and then a third to bridge to the A,"and, "after the single B round, add another double B" and that's when it hit me.

Those two stitches and a skip to the A, after adding the double B, were the decrease. Okay, that mystery was solved.  They were in fact paired, increase and decrease.

Starting these kinds of tubes is always hard for me. Until a peyote piece is several rows or rounds along, it doesn't look like anything but a mess. The same way with this one. But I persevered, muttering all those rule under my breath (my husband probably got tired of hearing "and then two and step UP!") and finally, finally on number three try the beads began to fall into place. They started telling me where the placement was. That's when I knew I'd gotten it right, and that lovely spiral began to curl.

I kept at it for about 2.5 inches, and will probably extend the tube another several inches, in the interest of engraving in muscle memory the exact pattern. Then I'll be ready to go back and try it in a much more subtle color palette.

So here are my hints for learning new techniques from books or magazines, where you don't have a teacher to point out where you're going wrong.

1. Don't be afraid of quitting and starting over if it gets too messy. You can always salvage those beads.
2. Don't try to make a finished piece first time. Use excess or cheap beads to work with, in contrasting colors, even if you don't like them together. Sometimes knowing where you are in the beadwork is the most important element of learning.
3. If you feel you're missing something in the instructions, break it down. Maybe write each step on a card or on a piece of paper. Maybe color the beads in, like I did. We all learn differently, so adapt the instructions to suit your learning style. I even considered gluing some beads on top of the diagrams and running the thread through them to learn what I was supposed to do.
4. Don't beat yourself up if you don't get it even after several tries. I keep a box of my samples and tests and learning pieces. It helps remind me where I went wrong. Wait a day, take a rest or a break, take a walk. Don't keep pushing if it's not coming. Sometimes a break will let my mind process the technique, then when I go back to it, it comes much more easily.
5. When you do get it, celebrate. Buy some more beads!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thank Goodness for Nieces

My dear niece is going to help me with the photography stuff. Better pics on the way! Yay. 

In the meantime, I'm puzzling out what to put on the Census form. Where in the Constitution does it say we have to give our names for the census? (As if the gov't doesn't know exactly who lives here)

As far as I can tell, the mandated census is a COUNT, not a registry. So. No names.  They can make do with Mom, Dad, and Son.  Or nothing.

I actually don't have a problem with the questions about relationships and ages. Those are good, useful and non-controversial bits of data for providing services and assessing resources.  At least to me. Perhaps if I had three husbands instead of the just the one living here, I'd find those questions intrusive.

What is this about race? Hmmm. Okay, the professed goal of everyone is to have a color-blind society. No favoritism in any way for anyone, just merit-based hiring, firing, housing, schooling, healthcare, everything. 

So how does this come about if the major focus of the census is dividing us all into....counting...15 possible divisions? 

We generally put "Earthling" for this one. I used to put "Human" under race, but my husband convinced me this discriminates against all other species. Though I might count the cat and put her under "Feline-American."

It seems somehow entirely appropriate that the day to return the Census form is...April Fool's Day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Testing, testing. New camera settings. May need a tripod, this is very blurry.

This is the commission for my friend.  Still over-saturated, though the colors are true for the larger stones. The seed beads don't show at all well.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Struggles With The Camera

It's not as easy as it seems. I need to dig up a manual, to figure out how to manage my flash. I know there's a way to turn it off.

So that's the primary problem with the pictures here. But it's my work.

1. A necklace that ended up going to my mom for Christmas. I found the main fish bead in Arizona about 8 years ago. The rest was mostly collected recently.  Don't ask my why it looks like I photographed it on a paper bag. It was handy, okay?

The large gold beads are actually gold over ceramic. They're nice and heavy, and don't look too different than gold over base metal.  I like the look of the many strands going into one, but am still working out the connecting techniques and how to string those multi-strands without getting into trouble when collecting them all together. This is the downside of learning by one-self or from books or printed online instructions.

The fish actually has a face on the other side. I can't believe I photographed the ass-end of the fish! Other beads here include peridot, citrine, malachite, amethyst, and various furnace glass.

2. This next pic is a necklace I made for my sister. A while ago, she lost the contents of her jewelry box in a home robbery. That included her precious ruby necklace and earrings. So I found some ruby beads (not first-quality, of course, but genuine ruby) and combined them with a kumihimo braid with silver seed beads and some purply seed beads, and sterling beads.

Rubies are our gemstone, since we're both born in July. I'm glad I was able to replace them.

Then she was robbed again! This time they took the earrings I had made for her to match this, but somehow missed this necklace. I have a few ruby beads left, and will replace the earrings for her. Thankfully, she now lives in a much safer neighborhood. No more robberies, please!

3. One more for today. I have to go earn some money. This one I finished last night. Not a great photo, but the colors are bright, and I had a lot of fun with the netting, which I haven't had a chance to play with much.

This has orange stone beads, some vintage purple Lucite, blue onyx (is there such a thing, really?), little coral dumb-bell shapes I  just love, and carnelian. The rest is glass. Oddly, when I quilted I collected almost all bright colors in fabrics. I found myself a bit stretched to find bright beads in my collection to build this one.

As I get better pics for pieces I still have, I'll replace these photos.

That's it. Comments are welcome.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

UltraSuede - The Real Thing For Beading

So I've been searching all over the Intertubes for decent Ultrasuede, because a search of the few pathetic local fabric stores was fruitless. Other than Joannes (which I refuse to patronize any more due to understaffing at all times) and another local bargain bin (where the line to cut fabric was, I kid you not, 30 people long) there aren't many fabric stores left. Pretty pathetic for a city of 1 million, don't you think?  All they have at those places is some pseudo-ultrasuedy type crap with a nylon backing that is guaranteed to fray when cut.

Why there aren't more, better fabric stores is a subject for another day.

I could, I suppose, go to downtown LA. They have pretty much everything in the universe there. Somewhere. But if I'm going there, it's going to be to Langer's deli or a wholesale bead store.  And yes, Langer's does have the World's Best Pastrami sandwich. Trust me.

Of course I use the Ultrasuede for backing my bead embroidery pieces. I need it in a variety of colors, and somehow, I was reluctant to keep paying $5 a shot for an 8x10 inch piece. Or to plump down $70 a yard for it sight unseen.

Finally, success!!  Fields Fabrics has all the grades of Ultrasuede you need. The light is light enough to put it over Lacy's Stiff Stuff and still get a needle through. The Soft is a medium weight, you can use this alone or over LSS. The Marine grade is very heavy, nearly like leather. They also carry real nubuck leather straps for a reasonable cost.

My best purchase of the order, though, was the bag of Ultrasuede scraps! Holy Cow. It's a quart-size ziplock bag stuffed full of various weights, sizes and colors of high-quality Ultrasuede. There must be a hundred different pieces here, ranging from 9x9" to 2x2". Nothing is too small to use for some jewelry piece, and there are strips that are 24" or longer, good for bracelets, etc.

It was $7.95 for a quantity of US that would probably cost me $200 to buy on a per-piece basis from eBay or a beading store. I got some yardage too, of various colors I think I will use a lot. They'll cut as small as 1/8th yard, some of their sale stuff is $36 per, the regular price is $42. Very fast, trouble free ordering, too.

Now this makes my day!  Patronize Fields, they deserve the business.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stepping Off The Deep End

Okay, this is a really bad picture. More and better images will follow.

This is my first bead embroidery piece, finished in time for Christmas. The beaded braid is kumihimo, the cabochons are yellow turquoise, and although it looks quite Christmasy, it was actually built about the chili peppers. Love those chilis! There are some other turquoise beads, most of the rest are glass and seed beads.

It was perhaps a tiny bit ambitious for my learning piece in this technique. But I love it, and I did learn a lot!

I beaded on Lacy's Stiff Stuff and backed it with Ultrasuede.

This piece inspired a friend to commission a second, similar but not identical piece. For hers, I added a whole lot more colors, with amethyst, onyx, chrysocolla, jade, etc. So it's less seasonal and more versatile. I also slimmed down the silhouette, as my friend is far more petite than I am.   I'll upload images of that soon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saturday At The Bead Stores

Some of our weekend days start with a trip to Fillmore (okay, near Fillmore) to our favorite fruit stand, Francisco's. Yes, it's absolutely worth it to drive 76 miles to get fruit.  We go every four to five weeks, and the oranges we get last us until the next trip. They're fresh off the trees, and have not been in transit to stores through warehouses and distribution depots, as even local supermarkets must do. We get the oranges at the peak of their nutrition and taste.  I have a juicer and squeeze fresh orange juice nearly every morning.

And, at the stand, we get a box with 20+ lbs of prime navels for $12.95. A smaller box of blood oranges that cost $2 a lb in the store is $7.95. Plus their selection of other fruits is wonderful. This week I got some new-crop kumquats that are yummy. They have exotic kinds of avocados and other things you never see in the stores, local honey and free-range eggs (err, the chickens are free-range. The eggs pretty much stay put). Anyway, we love Francisco's. The people have gotten to know us and are so friendly. If we leave early in the morning, we can be home before noon.

Another benefit is that the trip there and back takes us into striking distance of a plethora of bead stores. I almost said a myriad, but today is more of a plethora kind of day. Ventura is right there, and if you slide down through Moorpark and Thousand Oaks there are about a dozen stores, most of which we haven't visited yet. So Saturday we chose two, and hit them after we left Francisco's.  The drive down is lovely, the hills are green and lush with spring growth and the road winds between them in the sunshine.

The first store was Beadiak, in Agoura Hills. What a great store! I'd rate it at about an 8 or 8.5 out of 10, frankly. They have great selections of artist-made fused & lampworked beads, carved tagua nut focal beads, and tucked here and there, some really unique finds. I found more of some amazing glass chili pepper beads I'd found once in Redondo Beach. I bought them loose, for $2.50 a bead for the large size.  At Beadiak, I found a whole ristra similar to the one in the picture for 75 cents per bead!! What a find. I bought two strands, and also got a strand of medium and a strand of small size, for comparable bargains.  Okay, so they're cheaper online, but I think mine are bigger and of higher quality. There are certainly more on the ristra.

This store is just visually rich, so much to see that one trip won't do it. Wish they were closer! Oh, well, the orange mission is recurring, and we shouldn't visit too often. Good selection of seed beads, stringing material and tools. Lots of findings and books, and they've got a large stock of back issues of all sorts of beading magazines. They have a good but not outstanding selection of semi-precious strands, but they do have more wood, bone and ethnic beads than you'll find in most stores.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Software. Why Software?

Because software is what I do.

Well, really, databases are what I do. I don't make software that writes music or plays games or even lets you write a book. Databases are a kind of software that takes bits of information and organizes them. Then the database shows you the information in forms you can understand.

The operative word there is organization. That is, I think in terms of organizing information and presenting information every moment when I work with my clients. So, early on in my most recent revival of beading enthusiasm, I finished a piece, a necklace with some old beads collected years ago, and some new, wonderful beads I'd found in Mendocino. Well, Fort Bragg, actually. The Rubyiat store there. Looks like I missed their main store in Mendo itself. Oh well, next time.

But I digress. I found myself wondering how much the finished piece cost for materials. I realized that for the older beads I'd collected, the costs had vanished in the mists of time. The newer beads I remembered, but also realized that as I bought more and more beads (a clear intention even then) it wouldn't have to get very darn misty before the per-strand costs left my memory. Then there was the per-bead cost.

I was finding out that even if you buy a whole strand, generally in a necklace you're using between 6 to 12 of any one bead, sometimes just one or two. (As a beader, I find myself wishing humans had more necks. Or one larger one.) So you need to know the per-bead price to figure it out accurately. But once you've broken a strand, you no longer have the total number of beads, and cannot figure out the per bead cost.

My first plan was to keep the prices in the containers with the beads, and add them up when finishing a piece. But the sudden proliferation of pieces of paper in my containers, the need to keep them with the proper beads while working, opening & closing the containers, and then going back and adding them all up at the end...not so much fun. I also found a need to add a somewhat amorphous "additional costs" to each piece. This covered an estimate for older beads I no longer remembered the price of, stringing materials, cheap clasps, needles consumed in the process, glue, etc. It all costs. I couldn't keep this with the piece, because then I might lose the records.

At this point I threw up my (figurative) hands and said what my clients must say right before they call me. "I need a database!" Luckily, I can do this, because I certainly couldn't afford my own prices to build me one.

I'm going to post a few pictures of the current state of the software, which I have been working on here and there, as I could get a bit of spare time, for a little less than a year. It helps me track my beads, my seed beads separately, the finished pieces, and other things. Please add any comments or questions you might have, because the final goal, when this software has grown enough, is to sell it to beaders like me. Home beaders who want to sell somewhat professionally, or who just want to know how much something they make cost in materials, but don't want to spend a lot on software to do that.

Picture one is the listing of bead inventory. It's a (very) small part of my actual inventory shown. I have a lot more beads than that! Obviously some of the older beads don't have prices. The ones that do, calculate the per-bead price for me, a major feature for the math impaired like me. I just have to enter the price of the whole strand or total beads purchased, and then count the beads (I can figure that one out, generally) and I have per-bead costs.

Picture two, to the right, is of my seed-bead take-with report. I wanted something on a single page, sorted by size and code, that I could tuck in my purse, so I wouldn't purchase duplicates. Even starting out, I found myself liking the same colors over and over and buying them more than once. It also lets me see where I do want to buy more of a particular bead, for a project that may need more than I have. I keep more info of each seed bead, but there's just enough here to fit the maximum number on the one-page list.

Next up, picture 3, is of the screen where I record all the beads used in a finished piece. It's easy to choose each bead used and have the program calculate what that cost, from the inventory list. I can add my additional costs, and even the time spent, and if I want, a per-hour charge. However, I'm finding this isn't like database work. I'm never going to make a decent per-hour wage at this. I have to price my pieces more like art.

However, on a business basis, I really need to make sure at the very least my material costs are covered. Just because I can finish a simple strung necklace or bracelet in half an hour doesn't mean that I'll make a profit at a low price to the customer. Those beads may have cost me $50 ore more!

Last picture today, is a little bead history screen. When I look at a particular bead, it tells me what pieces that bead was used in. It's interesting but not particularly useful at this point, but I like it. It's the data geek in me.

But isn't it a real pain to enter all that information to get going? Actually, it's fun. I'll talk about that in another post, soon.

I'll be posting more pictures as we go along and the software develops. I really want this software to succeed. I want to make it available to beaders at a reasonable cost, probably less than $20.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Discovering Bead Stores

As it turns out, there are a lot more bead stores out there than quilting shops. I don't know why this is. Quilting shops are a similar experience in that you're surrounded by your passion, the other people there are in an Acquisition of Objects of Desire daze too, and there is often a husband or two lurking around waiting patiently. Or otherwise. But where there might be one quilt shop for 5 or 6 contiguous towns, there will be 10 bead stores in that area.

At least this distribution holds in the Greater Los Angeles area. Maybe it's not cold enough out here to promote heavy-duty quilting. But I seem to remember when I lived in Michigan, it was pretty much the same.

With the fashion for surface embellishment currently on the upswing in quilting, there's quite a bit of overlap of customers, of course. I found a lovely shop in Ventura that was split half-and-half between beading and needlepoint, with a large selection of surface embellishment fibers and such that art quilters would drool over. (I'll have more details later on specific shops, I promise. With links.)

In one way this plethora of bead shops is great. There are so many within reasonable driving distance that my husband and I can visit a new one every other weekend or so. We pick a destination, search online for the shops and also a nice lunch place, and off we go for a day out together. Even if the shop is disappointing, we have a nice time.

On vacation trips too, we've been able to find plenty of exotic selections. Florida is a fertile ground. Two years ago in Mendocino, I found a shop in Fort Bragg that sold me some of the best shell beads I've ever seen. That trip almost certainly was the renaissance of my current beading passion, in fact. I had these beads that were so great I just had to make something from them. And of course I didn't immediately have everything I needed to finish that project, so I had to supplement here and there. That meant quite a few more trips to bead stores closer to home.

And suddenly, a full-grown passion was born. No more random collecting-but-not-using. I saw all these wonderful books with new techniques. I found things online. Magazine subscriptions were purchased. Embroidery. Netting. Peyote of all sorts. Fringing. Wow. WOW!

Ventures into bead stores are now both more targeted and more adventurous. I might be restocking on clasps...but I also know when I see something wonderful and unique. The downside of so many bead stores is probably obvious. One cannot buy everything wonderful one sees. The budget won't stand it. There'll never be enough time to make everything you can imagine.

I've been to one bead show locally. That was a small one, and was dangerous enough to the bottom line. However, the last Santa Monica Art Market was a revelation. The artists there are producing art jewelry I never would have imagined. Organic forms that play with light and color, and yet can be worn. Micro-macrame that incorporates wonderful stones. I can't say enough good things about what I saw at that show. It's not just stringing beads together anymore.

I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. And I'm so glad there are bead stores around to feed my new passion.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Blog, New Season of Life

Starting a new blog is like moving into a new house. It takes a while to get all the furniture into the right places, the boxes unpacked, and the art on the walls.

So everything is a bit new, a bit unsettled. I need to get my domain,, pointed to this blog so it's easy to find, and I need to do that before I start publicizing the blog. I need to get a graphic I own in place of the sample that I swiped off a photo site. I need to take a whole bunch of pictures of my beading and upload them, because that's really the interesting part, isn't it?

My day job is building databases. Lately it's also been as a publisher of my husband's book(s). Now, I'm making a little time for me. It will be a balancing act, as I need to make money, and as much as I've found I enjoy blogging, every bit of time spent writing is taken away from beading. And that's getting more and more important to me.

It's odd. I've been collecting beads for 25 years, literally. Long ago, I put together a few necklaces for family and friends. When I met my husband in 1995, I was wearing a necklace of malachite hearts I'd strung myself. In between, I would occasionally run across a string of beads at a flea market or other venue that made my heart go pitty-pat. But actually visit a bead store? It never occurred to me.

During that time, my art outlet was art quilting. I loved working with the colors of fabrics, the designing was exciting, and the assembly process was soothing. I loved putting that last stitch in a finished work. But life intervened. My new studio situation in California was less than ideal, my inspiration flagged, and then problems with my knees made it physically more difficult to do the work. I still collected fabrics, but will probably purge most of that soon. Anyone want to come to a massive quilter's yard sale? Really. Let me know. I'm going to sell thousands of yards by the pound.

I've had a brief fling with glass mosaic work. I love it, actually, and am currently working to get a glass studio set up in a room vacated by an adult daughter who moved out. My first three large pieces, though, through a tragic accident, went the way of all glass. They're currently being held together with sticky clear shelf liner, preserved only for the design. I cried. I'm still not done with this art form, though. The wonderful play of color and light led me directly back to....

Beading. It's small-scale, and so physically easier for me. The storage of materials is much less demanding. I find it absolutely astonishing how much value you can pack into a teeny bag at a bead store, don't you? A piece can be finished in less than an hour, or take weeks, depending on the technique and complexity. All of my art previously has fed into the designs and informed my color choices. I'm really liking the way my style is developing, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

So I'll be talking about all that here. There's so much to talk about. The wonderful bead stores I've found here in southern California, in Florida, in Arizona, and elsewhere. How I store and organize my beads. The software I'm developing to inventory my holdings and provide cost information for my finished pieces. The inspiration for my pieces, and the people I come into contact with in the process of developing my art, and the business of my art.

I'll be asking for input in the software development process, as there are many artists who are more expert than I am in making, pricing and selling their work, and I need that community to guide me.

I hope you'll come along with me, as I get the furniture arranged, all the corners tucked in, and the cookies in the oven, in this new BeadEnCounter of mine.