Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just a little update

I had a few hours to work on my bead embroidery piece today and took these shots. There are 12 hours and 50 minutes invested, as of this afternoon.

Here's where I plan to put the brass lizard - once I figure out how to attach him! :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

UNCHAIN MY HEART - Upcycled Charm Statement Necklace

UNCHAIN MY HEART is a sweet heart charm necklace that will make quite a statement during any special occasion! Perfect for Christmas, New Year's or Valentine's Day, this upcycled statement necklace features heart charms, silver plated chain and even jumprings which have been rescued from other pieces of vintage jewelry.

This necklace can be worn in lengths from 18" to 22".

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An artist's time - What's it worth??

There has been a flurry of activity in the EtsyBeadweavers (EBW team)Yahoo group lately. Some has been about people who would like to scam artists out of their artwork and money by sending seemingly authentic cashier's checks/money orders which end up being bogus. This, of course, is only found out AFTER the artwork has been sent to it's new owner... er, I mean, thief. This is a blatant form of robbery (as is copyright infringement, but that's a subject for another day!!), but I think artists are victim to another, less obvious, form of robbery, too.

The other regards the making of certain types of alchemy requests on Etsy - these are special requests for custom pieces - aka. commissions. Now, I am not talking about EVERY customer who makes an alchemy request - just a few. These prospective buyers submit alchemy requests for elaborate pieces of freeform beadwork or bead embroidery and they want the job done for ridiculous - downright insulting - prices! To add to it, photos have been sent to along as well. These are photos of beadwork by... well... FAMOUS beaders (at least in my humble opinion) - Tatiana Van Iten, Beverly Ash Gilbert, etc. - asking the beader to copy these pieces. So, at this point, not only have you been insulted by the asking price, you have also been asked to do something quite heinous - to copy another's artwork (aka. copyright infringement). Forgive me for being a bit put out about all this!! OK, I realize that in this Wal-Mart world, people just don't understand what it means to truly make something with their own hands, the hours spent designing and executing a piece of artwork. I REALLY don't think they have any idea how labor-intensive beadweaving and bead embroidery is. To devalue a person's artwork, I think, is another form of stealing. It steals the artist's feeling of self-worth, it steals time and materials and it lessens the value of the artform itself.

This second example of thievery has encouraged me to do a little experiment:

I have never actually timed how long it takes to design and make a particular piece of beadwork, so I decided to give it a try. Following are some photos of a bead embroidered necklace, in progress. I am keeping track of how much time has been spent in the actual process of beading. This does not include time needed for resting the eyes, making lunch, doing laundry, or any other activity which might take me away from the actual act of beading. It does include time spent fixing a mistake or changing gears in the design since I think of these as integral parts of the process. I am not the fastest beader in the world but I am an experienced beader - this is a process I have gone through many times before.

These times include 1 hour which was spent picking out the beads and components I wanted to use. Here's how much I had done after 4 1/2 hours:

After 6 hours and 10 minutes:

After 8 hours and 10 minutes:
And finally, after I had to rip out some work because I didn't like it, after 9 hours and 10 minutes:
Even if I only want to make $10 an hour for my beadwork - in time alone I'm up to a little over $91. That doesn't include materials and I'm not even close to being halfway finished. How much is your time worth?

Welcome to Morning Coffee!

Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with. ~Drew Sirtors

[Coffee] is a social binder, a warmer of tongues, a soberer of minds, a stimulant of wit, a foiler of sleep if you want it so. From roadside mugs to the classic demi-tasse, it is the perfect democrat. ~Author Unknown

Coffee... I love my morning coffee... and everything that goes with it. From the grinding to the brewing to the preparing to the drinking. It usually accompanies the latest crossword puzzle underway at our house and then later accompanies me into my little computer corner to see what the day holds. Emails are checked, some are answered. Blogs are read, some are commented on. The news is read (sometimes... if it's good news... so, only sometimes...). This blog, while not handing out any grand philosophies, will be just for morning coffee and the things that go along with it: whole wheat banana bread, quips, quotes, music, art, get the idea, right?

Join me for some morning coffee sometime.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


When I was making this bracelet, I was thinking about a friend of mine who will be going on holiday to China soon to see the Great Wall. While I know she's not traveling to Tibet, the peaceful combination of green, red and white swirling in the agate bead made me think of ancient hilltop monasteries on lush mountaintops. This is how "Tibetan Holiday" came to be!

The lovely agate bead is combined with red coral nuggets and a carved red lacquer bead. These are set off by the mossy green stone beads and antiqued brass spacers. Add to this an aged I Ching charm and a decorative brass clasp.
Tibetan Holiday is available for purchase here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GLACIAL Beaded Bracelet

This beaded bracelet reminds me of the color of glacial ice - which is melting too fast these days!! The clear lampwork glass bead is lined in icy cerulean blue and it is set off by trios of rock crystal nuggets, blue marble beads and tiny silver spacers. This piece features a silver-tone lobster clasp closure.
Glacial is available for purchase here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Studio Re-organization Update

Here is an update regarding my studio re-do! I'm happy to say that I am making some headway - I've got some stuff separated out to destash on Etsy (more to come!) and am getting some creative space cleared out so I can get work done.

Here is a shot of my workbench. I know it doesn't look much cleaner than it was before, but, trust me, it is! As you can see, I have added some better storage on the wall. I'm so happy with how these finds (all from thrift shops and garages sales) are working together. Also, I have my favorite knick-knacks on a lower shelf where I can actually see them and enjoy them while I work.
I can also access my Dremel and all of the lovely little accessories now that they have their own place to live. Now, the reason my work station looks so messy is because I am doing the "Big Sort". I have gathered all of my bags, tubes and various other containers of seed beads onto the workbench.
I sorted them by color families (instead of size) using a color guide...

And they are now stored in some repurposed CD storage units which I attached to the wall.
So much better than that darned plastic pocket organizer I had there before!!
My next adventure will be to dive into the two baskets of vintage beads, jewelry and other treasures I have. Sometimes too much of a good things is, well... too much of a good thing!! There are some REAL treaures in these baskets and it will be extremely difficult for me to decide what to keep and what to pass on to another, but when you have too much good stuff it can stop you in your creative tracks. The only word to describe how I feel when I look at all of this - "Overwhelmed". Where do you start?? In order to be truly creative and productive, I need to weed out about 1/2 of this stash so I can gather inspiration from the rest.
So, keep an eye on my Caraway Cache store on Etsy - you never know what you might find! :) (**and just a little reminder - I'm also having a $.99 sale right now!**)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My New Treasures from Andrew!

Some time back, Andrew Thornton announced he was having a sale and I bought some fabulous little buttons. I got my package today and excitedly opened and found not only the lovely buttons I purchased...But I also got a bag full of goodies...
a sweet resin pendant...
and an original collage which Andrew signed on the back.
It's a "WOO HOO!!" kind of day! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Studio Re-do...again :P

OK, here's the deal... because of my Scorpio sensibilities, I love to organize... but ABSOLUTELY cannot stay that way! What is wrong with me?? I hope I'm normal and am not the only creative soul out there that hinders their ability to create with their inability to organize. So I am sharing my shame with all of you! I hope this will not keep any of my customers from buying from me, now that they will be witness to my messy "studio" space.

Now, to start with, I do not really have a studio space. Unlike some of you who are lucky enough to have a spare room in your house or REALLY lucky to have an off-site studio for your work, I have a 4' x 8' walk-in closet. Admittedly, to have this space in a house that is only around 750 square feet is, in many ways, a luxury. BUT this space houses not only my beadwork and jewelry supplies/equipment but also a lot of the items I have posted in my vintage shop on Etsy. "How do you do it??", you ask? My answer is "Not very well!", as the following photo collages will show you! Don't be too shocked - the mess you see is real. I did not give into the urge to pick-up before these shots were taken (that would be like cleaning the house before the cleaning lady gets there).

Photo 1: In this shot you will notice the the shoe organizer hanging on the wall. This is where I presently store my seed beads, separated by color and size families. It seems like this should be a great way to keep them but it is not. It never fails that the beads I want are at the bottom of the pocket and I have to dig every other tube and/or bag out to get the ones I want. So this has GOT to go!
Photo 2: This is a shot of the storage on the back wall. This I rather like - it works really well for me so it will most likely stay basically how it is. Yay!! One less thing to do! :) What you will notice is the complete mess when you get closer to the floor. The only answer to things like this: If you don't need it or can't find a place to put it you must sell it, donate it or pitch it!! Destashing is so hard but it has to be done!

Photo 3: Continuing to the right: I think these pine shelves work pretty well also. They fit in the space nicely and the bins and boxes are a really good fit. I also like that I can hang bags of beads from cup hooks which are screwed into the pine shelves. they are separated by color and are handy to grab when I need them. I wish I didn't have the wasted area above the shelves. I store my spare wooden hangers there along with some strands of specialty beads. This is not the best idea when you are short unless you have something to stand on the get to them. Hmmm... something to think about...

Photo 4: Now here is a spot which has just never reached it's potential. I have tried a few different storage solutions here and have just NOT been happy with them. This entire wall area is going to be changed. I have purchased some sweet shelves to go here along with some little drawer units (much like the one already there) to attach to the wall. I will be able to move some of my knick knacks from the shelves above my work bench (next photo) to these shelves so I can enjoy looking at them more. And, again, too much crap gathers on the floor... eek!

Photo 5: My work bench is so cluttered with stuff that calling it a work bench is a misnomer! As you can see (or not see, maybe) are the items on the top shelf. These are things I have collected because they remind me of someplace I have visited, someone I love, a show I was in or they were just cool so I had to have them. But they sit up there on that dark top shelf where there is no light so I can't enjoy them very well. Now I will be able to move them to the shelving unit which will be attached to the wall to the left of the bench and see them and enjoy them.

The top of the work bench is always cluttered and isn't set up very well. Some of this has to do with the way I create - I get out lots of things that go together and spread them all out and go. This makes for a bit of a mess and I don't like cleaning up when I'm in the middle of a project. BUT here's the kicker - I rarely work on only one project at a time so several start to overlap and bury each other and then I'm in the middle of a big mess!! So I bought another little storage unit thingy to put here which I think will help. Also, once I move the items from the top shelf, I can relocate some of the items from the middle shelf to the top shelf and open up some more working space. This is a "Let's see what happens if..." idea. As for my packing supplies, which are sort of haphazardly stored underneath, - something absolutely needs to be done with them! I like the location but not the organization. Something as simple as another large tub would probably do the trick. Those plastic tubs ain't sexy, but they work!!

So, here is my "little" project (among many). Wish me luck - I'll be sure to let you know how it goes! Any ideas would be welcomed and greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eden Valley Blue Grass Festival

Every year, during the second weekend of October, bluegrass musicians and fans of all shapes and sizes descend upon Eden Valley park just outside Baldwin, Iowa for food, friendship and lots of music. The first time Dan & I went was last year. We went for the "jam" night which was really nice - lots of people, guitars, mandolins, a big bonfire and such. This year it was just too bloomin' cold to be outside so the music was held in the nature center. Dan & I performed with some friends of ours - Randy and Dennis - aka. "Steger and Lefty". Dan also appeared with "The Black Velvet Band". Most of the members are from Maquoketa, Iowa and their first CD - "Hurtsville Road" - was released last year. It's big hit around the area! You can hear some clips of their music by visiting here (**hint - listen to "Star of the County Down" - my hubby sings that one!**). Here are some photos from the Bluegrass Festival.

Dan, Randy and Dennis getting ready to go on!

Dennis is so cool in that hat!!

The Black Velvet Band

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Window on a Garden bead embroidered necklace

Here is a necklace I have been working on for a while. I enjoy buying lots of "junk" jewelry in hopes that there are bits and bobs for me to use in my beadwork. Now, in my opinion there is no such thing as "junk" jewelry since I think just about everything can be used again in some way or another. The focal component of this necklace was, in a past life, a brooch. By taking cues from the colors and textures of the pretty ceramic disc, I put together this necklace which I call "Window on a Garden". I will be posting this necklace in my "CindyCaraway" shop on Etsy on Monday.

Nebula Necklace

This pretty necklace was inspired by the beautiful ocean jasper bead which I love because I love pink, green and purple together! The swirls of color remind me of those fantastic photos of nebulae which come from the Hubble Space Telescope, so I have named this one "Nebula". This piece has been finished for a while but I finally got around to taking photos of it. Sometimes I let my jewelry hang around for a bit, just in case I decide I can't part with it. I'm still not sure about this one but I wanted to get it out there so I will be posting this little pretty in my "caraway" shop on Esty tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Something to chew on for a while...

In an attempt to jump-start some projects, I put together these groupings to (hopefully) inspire me. We'll see... gee, I wish I had a copper lizard instead of brass!!

Park Farm Winery

As some of you may know, my husband and I have an acoustic duo. We play at vineyards and coffee houses and sometimes do the occasional wedding. You can find out more about us on our (soon-to-be-re-designed) website: My husband plays guitar and teaches guitar classes locally as well as classical guitar at Grinnell College here in Iowa. We both sing and I play tambourine, shaker, recorder and, if need be, harmonica. We had a gig last weekend at Park Farm Winery. We really love playing there! Park Farm is set in beautiful rolling hills west of Dubuque and there is a fantastic view from the large deck out behind the main building. They have live music every Sunday afternoon from May through October. We were on the schedule twice this season and hope to be asked back next year. Here are some photos from last Sunday.

Do I always sing with my eyes closed? Yep, pretty much. I find that I'm easily distracted by other goings-on and then I forget the words. I also have a strange thing that happens when I sing with my eyes open - I have a hard time staying on pitch. What's THAT about!?? (Note the pretty white plastic recorder I play on a few songs. I have a really pretty wooden one but, believe it or not, the plastic one sounds BETTER!!)

Dale and Lovell - Dan's parents (aka. our most faithful fans and my favorite in-laws!!)

Dale and my dad, Jerry, deep in conversation about who knows what - it probably all depends on how many bottles of that yummy cherry wine they've had. My mom has a sneaky way of never being in the pictures - she's always the one with a camera! :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oh, My Gosh! Where Have I Been??

I have absolutely NO excuse for not posting in a while. Actually, there have been some really cool things that have happened - I have just not been on my game. So... OK, enough, already!! I'm going to do my best to find my game again and get on it!!

I think one of the main reasons I have not quite felt "with it" is because I am suffering from a bit of beader's block. I seem to get it ALOT lately and it's really bugging me! I don't understand it since my mom and I just had a great trip to the Cranberry Festival in Warrens, WI two weekends ago. What fun! We were both sorry that neither of us have a digital camera for such outings. I have my nice Canon which I use for my online shops - probably not a good idea to take it on road trips or fishing expeditions. Anyway, during that trip, I bought some really cool beads! Some I purchased at the Cranberry Festival but most were purchased at my favorite bead stop - Parson's Trading Post in Lake Delton, WI. If you are ever in the Wisconsin Dells area, you MUST stop at Parson's (which is located on the Lake Delton strip right next to Tommy Bartlet's). I stocked up on some really nice metallic 15/o's (and got another tube of my favorite shade of green ones, too!), some really lovely polished stone cabs and some interesting colors of 11/o's. Here are some shots of my weekend finds!

Can you guess that green is my favorite color?? :)

And here's one last photo... my new digital camera for road trips and other excursions ($25 on sale at Target) - Can you say "Hello, Kitty"?? I thought you could! :P Not exactly my style, but, hey, sometimes cheap is good!!

More to come from the Kitty!! I promise...