Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm here....

...plugging away at making jewelry for the next two shows....
... working like crazy on preparations for my new web site -- there is a LOT of work involved, but I'm excited about this next step up.

... sending in jewelry for magazine tutorials -- I've got a good line-up for next year.

... writing pages and pages of book outlines in my head. I can't wait to get started!

So many things are going to happen after March 29th, which is not only the day after my last show until September, but is also my 41st birthday. How apt -- newness all over!

Stay tuned for more!

Lori's web site is, and her other blog is

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chain Maille for Dummies

Chain Maille for Dummies . In this case, the dummy would be me.

I've made basic chain maille since I started beading. Chain maille is the art of weaving silver jump rings into a repetitive pattern to create a chain, and it was developed hundreds of years ago to create chain maille armor. Lots of traditional patterns translate well into jewelry.

Believe it or not, I don't own a chain maille bracelet. I haven't made myself one even though I've made dozens and dozens for customers.

Enter Chain Maille for Dummies.

I often bite off more than I can chew. I look at something and think, "oh yeah, I can do that". Chain maille patterns are either in the public domain or there are tutorials on line for them, so there are directions for every weave you can imagine. So I set out to make a byzantine ladder weave, feeling a little smug because, after all, I've made a bunch of the most basic of bracelets -- The Byzantine.

The ladder weave, however, nearly bested me. I didn't have enough hands, or enough fingers, and most certainly not enough patience. I made all the byzantine lengths, but couldn't hold them in the right orientation to hook them together. I'd hold the pliers, open a ring, and hook the pieces together, then drop the whole mess before I could scoop up another ring and get the orientation back again.


I sat in the local coffee shop when I started the bracelet, fully expecting to get it pretty close to done by the time my mocha was finished. Instead, I left in a foul mood with nothing done except a bunch of short Byzantine bits that mocked me the entire way home.

At some point, though, the light bulb went on.

I don't know how, but I got one ladder bit made. Angels sang, martinis were passed, all was merry. And as with most chain maille projects, everything went fast once that first piece of the pattern was started.

Here's what it ended up looking like:

Click the picture for a better peek.

The clasp is an amazing vintage Swarovski crystal:

All in all, worth it. Frustrating? Oh yes. I very nearly quit. In fact, I DID quit at one point and put the whole mess away for a while. I took it out again when I had a fresh mind and had successfully completed some other projects to bolster my confidence - something I think is important to remember when you're facing a fear of tackling a new technique.

Lori Anderson's jewelry can be seen at Be sure to visit her other blog, Pretty Things.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I made beads today!

A very fast post because I am exhausted -- not nearly enough sleep this weekend as I worked and worked and then worked some more almost all three days of the long weekend.


I finally braved it. After my friend Kendra hooked up my propane, I went out today, took a deep breath, and made beads.

They're still cooking in the kiln, and they are just wonky spacers -- nothing to write home about -- but I DID IT. I conquered my fear of blowing up things and just DID IT.

If you know me well, you know that's HUGE. If you don't, stick around long enough, and you'll realize how terrified I am of trying new things. I want to be able to get it right the first time. I hate failure and flub ups -- I get embarrassed easily. But in the quiet and peace of my little studio, I found myself saying to myself,

"You are going to be good at this."

I hope so. I hope so.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oh my word.

I need to get my eyes checked.

I wondered why I wasn't getting any comments on this blog. On my other blog, I get an email letting me know I have a comment that needs approving and I go and read it and approve it. But nothing at all ever came from here.

"How can I have all these subscribers and no comments? I must be REALLY boring," thought I.

Then I checked my account.

And realized, I am indeed either blind, an idiot, or more likely, both.

Because you guys have INDEED been commenting, and have been so incredibly kind and thoughtful and encouraging in your comments. I just forgot to put my email address in and never turned on the "comment approval" thingee.

THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

New Year, New Look

One of the things on my list for the year is to change the look of my web site, I designed my original web site in Microsoft FrontPage, and then traded a bunch of beads for the look you see now. It's worked for a while, but now I want to change it up. I'm changing, my jewelry has improved so much over the years, and it's just time.

Launch time won't be until summer -- it's a pretty intensive job, and I'm not doing it, thankfully! -- but I'm so excited, and so looking forward to it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Store Art Supplies

Part of getting ready for new artistic ventures is getting my proverbial ducks in a row. Even as I prepare hard and fast for two of my five shows for the year, I'm gathering the goodies for the classes I'll be taking. Paint, metal stamps, glass - it's accumulating fast.

One of the issues is figuring out how to STORE all this stuff, these growing assortments of beautiful things that await metamorphosis into a different type of loveliness.

I've started random collections throughout the house. Here, lovely jars from Pottery Barn full of yarn, waiting for a class in sock knitting....

The yarn was just too pretty to put away in a box, so for now, they're filling up these jars. Speaking of jars, I found a vintage fruit jar and I'm using it to hold a treasure-trove of glass rod ends that I was given by a lovely blog reader. I'm holding on to them for a bit, just waiting to mash them up and turn them into frit.

Storing your art supplies this way may not be practical. Don't get me wrong -- all of my stash is most certainly NOT on display. Most, in fact, is packed into boxes and unceremoniously shoved under beds or into closets. But considering the beauty we make WITH the tools of our trade, doesn't it stand to reason that they would be beautiful, too?

So choose a few. Find an unusual way to make them an everyday part of your decor. Who knows? It might just be the gentle nudge you need to try that new project you've been meaning to start.

Lori Anderson's jewelry can be seen at Her other blog is

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another class -- enameling

(enameled heart by Barbara Lewis)

Keeping true to my word that I'm going to stretch my skills, I've signed up for yet another class, this one with Barbara Lewis of Jewelry of Distinction. She was recently featured in Belle Armoire magazine, and I'm so excited to get to take this class -- not just so I can learn metal enameling, but because I'll get to meet some of my online blogging friends!

I'm pretty proud of myself for jumping in with both feet and signing up for classes. With five classes scheduled already for this year, I'm taking as many as I've taken in the past five years! I think the next class I'll be looking for is a lampwork class, but I'll wait a while for that, taking the time instead to explore and play on my own for a while to get the basics handily under my belt before venturing into a classroom setting.

I'm on my way, baby step by baby step.

So how are you doing?

You can see my work at, and read my other blog at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wire Woes

Aaaaand, this is what happens when you clip the beginning of a spool of aluminum wire without holding onto it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

An Artist Needs a New Look

Not only do I want to reinvent my jewelry, but I want to reinvent myself -- just a bit.

I've already been working out, something I used to do with a slightly frightening passion in my 20's but dropped with astonishing suddenness in my 30's. Changing my body is just going to take too long, though, so the next thing on the list? The hair.

My hair is naturally dark brown. I've always secretly admired people who rocked purple hair, wild streaks of bright color -- women with rebelliously beautiful locks. I've never felt cool enough to try it out myself, and honestly never wanted to draw that much attention to my face. Crazy jewelry? Sure, I can pull that off with no problem. People notice the jewelry, not the person wearing it. But do something to draw attention to ME? Scary.

I have a super stylist, and last appointment, she gave me highlights in the auburn color I craved -- just a little taste to let me get used to the idea of fun. Thursday, I took the plunge and went for it. I'm now officially auburn with strawberry blond highlights.

The photo doesn't do the color justice, but I can tell you that it did take me about a day to get used to. I'd catch a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror and think, "Woah. What did you do???" But now, I like it. I feel like an artist. I feel
like just because I have red hair, by default I'm fierce and confident and creative.

Amazing what a bottle of hair color can do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Where to Start?

Over the past few years, I've collected what seems like tons of tutorials and books -- everything from wire work to lampwork, metalsmithing to beadweaving. I have a huge three-ring binder that houses only a portion of these tutorials, and facing that notebook, the shelves of books, and my clock can be daunting.

Where in the world to start?

Out comes the trusty day planner.

I started flipping through the weeks, writing down on random days random tutorials. "Try spiral beadweaving" reads one. "Experiment with etching metal" reads another.

I already use a lot of wire work in my normal day-to-day designs, but I want to use more intricate designs, so I didn't write this down, knowing that after my show in March, trying those techniques will just be a natural process.

Ditto for lampwork. My work bench faces the glass doors that lead out into the backyard, and I face the glass studio every single time I sit at the table, so it's hard to ignore that building calling to me. Besides, I know that once I light up the torch for the first time, the siren call of glass rods and colorful frit will be impossible to ignore.

(Shed before it was rebuilt for the lampwork studio.)

Starting anything is usually the hardest part, whether it's starting a diet, starting a marathon, or starting a new chapter in your life. If you're new to jewelry design, don't wait. Don't tell yourself, "I can't". Make an appointment on your calendar, a date with yourself, and start. Take that first step.

Lori Anderson's jewelry can be seen at Her other blog can be read at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Organizing the Day

In order to make the best of my days and not waste too much time, I've decided to organize my design time and other activities with a daily calendar.

As with everything in my office and studio, I had to find a pretty one. I settled on one from Papaya Art.

I think it's the perfect daily journal for a year of exploration, don't you?

Instead of just writing down "make jewelry", I drill down even further. "Make larimar jewelry", or "make earrings". Then I have a focus, and can get more done than if I just opened up my many drawers of beads and got lost in all the possibilities. Too often, I realize I've gotten distracted and have hardly made anything.

I'll also write down "appointments" for reading my art books, and once I get past my two craft shows, I'll schedule deadlines for trying new techniques. Once they're committed to paper, it's harder to ignore or forget about them

I hope this new way of organizing my time will work. I'm an avid list maker, but my lists tend to become huge and therefore completely overwhelming. By using a daily calendar that only allows a few lines, I think I'll be able to stick to it.

Let me know if you've been using this method, or plan to try this technique. Think it might work for you?

Lori Anderson's jewelry can be seen at Her other blog is

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Production Day

Even though this is my year of exploring new techniques, there's not a thing wrong with doing what I've been doing. I make pretty jewelry (at least, I think so!) and I do have two shows coming up in February and March. My inventory is practically nil, so I have to work hard to get ready. The good thing is that once the show in March is done, my next one isn't until the end of September -- lots of time to experiment and play.

So today I spent some time making my normal style of jewelry, but I've found myself looking at it all with a new eye. As I make things, I see ways that I can change them down the road, and I'm drawing designs in my sketch book for later.

Not a bad day's work.

You can visit my web site at and read my other blog at

Friday, January 1, 2010

Today Starts a New Adventure

Today starts a new adventure! I've decided to chronicle my New Year's Resolution of taking time off from my usual killer craft show schedule and spend this year exploring new jewelry techniques and new art forms. I'm still doing some shows, but I chose carefully and completely avoided the brutally hot and logistically nasty summer shows.

I'm pretty much a self-taught jewelry designer and have only taken a couple of classes in the past six years. This year, though, I've already signed up for four classes. Sure, I have a ton of books bought and ready to be read, but signing my name and pulling out the credit card commits me to the task in a way that a stack of books doesn't.

In April, I'm attending BeadFest in King of Prussia, PA, and I'll be taking two metalsmithing classes with Tracy Stanley. One is her "Riveted Pendant" class, where I'll learn to make this:

and her "Riveted Links and Rings" class, where I'll learn to make this:

I'm really excited, because while I know how to solder and cut things with a saw, I don't know much about cold connections or stamping, and there are so many applications I have in mind for these techniques. Check out for the other BeadFest shows and classes!

I've also decided that this is the year I'm REALLY going to jump out of my creative box and try an art form that I've always admired but have NO background in -- altered art. I got over my fears of inadequacy, bit the bullet, and signed up for two artistic journaling classes at the Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, VA in May.

First, "Journal Spilling Watercolor" with Diana Trout....

And "Inspired Journaling: Every Single Day!" by Melanie Testa.

Both classes use watercolors, pen and ink, ephemera, gesso, and imagination to create journal pages that are works of expressive art. My hope is to find a voice within so I can create art on a smaller scale, drawing and painting little bitty pieces that can be soldered behind glass for pendants.

So that's the very beginning of my journey. I'm excited to see where this all leads me.

If you'd like to stretch your creative wings,
join my Bead Soup Blog Party at my other blog
by clicking here.