Blog Creativity

My New Studio Helper

Many people have asked me how i can work with such tiny beads. I just happen to have really good close-up vision as long as i hold the bead and needle super close to my face. The problem is that makes me scrunch my body up into a really bad posture so by the end of the workday, my neck and back are stressed out and aching.



I’d been thinking about using a lighted magnifier for a while. Sometimes i will stubbornly continue to do something that’s a literal pain in the neck just because it’s the most convenient thing. But i found a magnifier that i really like made by Brightech*. It’s LED so it’s nice and bright but cool which is important to me because it can get pretty warm in my studio.

I must admit it took a couple days to get used to looking through the glass and not just hold my work close to my face. I also had to break myself of the habit of looking over my glasses to see up close.

Using the lamp immediately improved my workstation posture and i could tell from the very first day that the strain on my neck and back was gone. It feels kind of dumb to have scrunched up my body for so long when the solution to the problem was so easy.

I’ve been wanting to do more in progress photos and videos but couldn’t figure out how to hold my work so close to my face and place the camera. Being able to hold my work further away will make that so much easier.

The lamp is such an awesome studio tool i’m kicking myself i didn’t get one sooner!


* this is an affiliate link, but i wouldn’t be sharing this with you if i didn’t 100% believe in this product. i love my new lamp and it really has made my work easier. buying through this link doesn’t change the price you pay, but i do make a little commision from any sales. if you prefer to shop at Brightech and not use my affiliate link, click here.

Blog Creativity

How To Squeeze Creative Practice Into Everyday Life

There’s no denying that creative projects can reduce stress. Lots of studies prove this to be true. I know when I go too long without a creative outlet, I get a little tight in the shoulders.

But we’re busy people, and making time to be creative doesn’t always seem to fit into our schedules.

Remember that it’s not necessary to get into a major project to benefit from creative expression. I mean, I love to sit down and zen out for a couple of hours stringing tiny beads into complicated patterns. It helps me to be really mindful since there is no way I can think of anything else except the pattern I’m working on. (How do knitters knit while watching TV? I am mystified.)

You do not even want to see the wave of chaos created by my elaborate bead projects. Non-beaders don’t know this but you must touch every container of beads in your stash before choosing the correct color palette for your project.

ways to squeeze creativity into your busy life


A simple project is really all you need to get a little boost. Something that can be taken out in a minute and cleans up in a snap.

What happens to me a lot is I’ll get to the end of the day and realize I’ve done nothing fun or creative. So I need a project that I can do at my coffee table or TV tray while I chill out on the couch with my husband. A project that’s easy to set up, easy to put away, and something that i can do while we catch up on our shows.

ways to squeeze creative practice into your life

The easier you make it for yourself, the more likely it is to happen. We all know this!

I know I want and need to be creative every day if possible, so I keep my best pens and sketchbooks right where Greg and I chill out every night. It makes it very easy to just grab paper and pen and sketch a little something with the TV on in the background. Some of my favorite sketchbook entries are brush lettered words and phrases I hear on TV.

ways to squeeze creativity into your life


Some nights all I can manage is doodling lines or dots in the margins of my planner, but even a few minutes of creative practice clears my head and puts me in a much better mood.

Want a free cheat sheet with five easy ways to help you squeeze creativity into your busy life?

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Blog Creativity

Join My “Month of Gratitude” Project

I am super excited about a new project i’m starting November 1st. It’s a month-long gratitude practice with an added bonus. In addition to meditating on what i am grateful for, i’m going to be sending thank you cards to the special people in my life.

I was inspired to start this project while watching Vanessa Van Edwards’ latest course on CreativeLive, “The Power of Happiness”. On day six, Vanessa talked about how to use our two “G-spots”, gratitude and giving, to increase happiness. She passed thank you notes out to all of the students in the audience and told them to write a thank you note to someone they cared about.


There are so many people in my life who give me true love, genuine kindness, and vital support and i am so grateful to them, i’m going to give them a note of gratitude. It’s a win-win.

I hope you will join me November 1st through 27th for a month of gratitude. I made sure to plan in advance so that my friends could get in on this soul-nourishing project. I hand lettered a thank you card and i even got some rad stamps so i am all ready to rock this.

month of gratitude project


I hope you join me for this creative exercise! If you do, please post on IG and use the hashtag #monthofgratitude16 so i can see what you create.


UPDATE: here are a few of the cards i made for this project. It was super fun! I even got some thank you cards sent to me by my friends. All in all, a great social experiment.

Blog Creativity

Need a Reason to Have Fun? I’ve Got One For You.

July 2015 was a crazy busy month for me. I was prepping for my second week-long trip to San Francisco this year to be in the studio audience for Megan Auman’s Make a Living Selling What You Make boot camp at CreativeLive. No problem. While is was at CreativeLive, I would also be filming a “student story” video, and I needed to create a mock studio that I could pack into a suitcase so they could film me working on my jewelry. Um, ok.


I also had committed to writing two guest blog posts, as well as a week-long series called “Halftime Tune-Up” for my own blog. Normally, I blog once a week. At the most. IRL it’s more like once a month, but evidently I’d lost my mind and promised my readers a new blog post every day for a week to help them get back on track for the second half of the year. WTF was I thinking?


On top of all of that, I had signed up to participate in an “artists’ envelope swap”, coordinated by Mark Montano, because he is my crafty hero. But all of this work stuff was taking up so much time.


[bctt tweet=”Chronic over-scheduling is a problem for me, and I know I am not alone.” username=”redscorpiomade”]


My ADD was kicking in big time. There was much to do, and it was taking every bit of my willpower to stay on task, because I really wanted to take a break and just play with some crafty stuff. The envelopes needed to be finished and mailed off to Mark so that they could be distributed to all the participating artists. I lamented to Greg that I wanted to decorate the envelopes, but with all of the important stuff that was going on, I could see no reason to do it. It would be just for fun. “Fun is a reason,” he told me.


[bctt tweet=”Fun is a reason.” username=””]



AES - 8


Of course it is. I know that. I myself have told other people pretty much the same thing. Why did I need to hear it from someone else? We all look to external sources for validation. We all give our friends and loved ones inspirational advice that we never take for ourselves. Why is that??  I have no clue.









But let’s do this: let’s all try to take our own advice from now on. And let’s surround ourselves with positive people who will give us loving advice when we need it, just in case we won’t listen to ourselves. We’re pretty stubborn.


AES - 1



I took a break and decorated the envelopes. I finally got to use some matryoshka stamps I’d been dying to play with, and they turned out super cute! The project didn’t take that long, and when I was finished, I felt refreshed and ready to get back to work.


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So go on and have some fun. It’s a perfectly legitimate reason.

Blog Creativity

My #1 Tip For Crushing Creative Blocks



Tweet: My number on tip for crushing creative blocks is simple: My number one tip for crushing creative blocks is simple:

“Do Something. Anything.”



Simple, sure, but it’s not always easy.

I hit a block last week, prepping for my SF trip. If you hadn’t already heard me say a dozen or so times, I am going to be in the studio audience for Megan Auman’s CreativeLive course, How To Make a Living Selling What You Make. CreativeLive asked us to bring a few pieces to the studio, and even though I have many, many pieces already made, I wanted to make something special. Problem was, I totally hit a creative wall. Not surprising, since I had a pretty ambitious work schedule for myself the past several weeks, but I just couldn’t think of anything interesting to make.


When that happens, when I get hung up and kind of too in my head, the only thing that works for me is to do something different from my every day work. I decided I would start to make a beaded snake. I’d already planned to make a snake at some point this year, so I had all of the supplies and everything, and it was so wonderful and freeing to work on it. Bead weaving is meditative for me because there’s no choices to make, just follow the pattern and turn out the work. I only got about a third of the way done before I had to set it aside to finish getting ready for my trip, but the project is getting packed into my suitcase, and if I get a chance I’d love to finish it in San Francisco.




Your ‘something’ doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a bead weaving project. It could be as simple as coloring a picture in a coloring book. Adult coloring books are pretty trendy right now, but I love coloring books for kids just as much. Of course I have a couple of Hello Kitty coloring books in my stash for when I need a no brainer project to bust through my block.



HK - 1



What if you don’t have anything? I bet you have at least a piece of paper and a pencil, but let’s say you don’t. Let’s say all you have is a computer. Check out PicMonkey, where you can take a photo and mess around with it til it’s completely ridiculous. If all you have is your phone, you can goof around with pics on Snapchat, make a totally dorky video on Sock Puppets, or play around with myriad other apps. I’m saying there’s no excuse.



Playing around with PicMonkey
Playing around with PicMonkey



So when you hit a block, crush it with whatever you’ve got on hand. Give yourself a few minutes to do something creative and totally pointless, because that is pretty much the point. And when you do, share your block crushing endeavors with me on IG with the hashtag #creativesmash.




Blog Creativity

Rainy Day Craft – “Linocut” Stamp

It never rains in Southern California but it pours. So says the song. Well, it rarely rains in SoCal and this weekend it is pouring. We need the rain but maybe not all at once next time?
I happen to love rain, and I really love rainy day crafts. This is a craft I made up for a kids’ workshop at Party Arty!, the art studio my sister & I had for a while. It’s super easy & kid friendly because it doesn’t require any cutting. The hardest part is remembering that everything you do to the stamp must be in reverse so it prints properly.  It helps to pre-sketch or print your design in reverse and then copy or trace it onto the stamp. Then your brain doesn’t need to try to reverse the image, just copy what’s on your sketch.

All you need is “fun foam” or craft foam (preferably the self stick kind. That saves you the step of gluing the foam to the base and the time it takes for the glue to dry), and a rigid base. We happened to have some nice wood squares about 3″x3″ and one inch thick. Anything about that size that is smooth and rigid will do.

Ok, so attach the foam to the block. If gluing, allow to dry. Then with a pencil or a dried up ballpoint pen, draw your design into the foam. Wherever you draw, the foam will compress leaving a permanent groove. You can see in the example that I traced along the design for a sort of negative effect. Notice how it printed red where I didn’t draw and the design is the area that didn’t receive paint. It’s much easier than drawing on all of the negative space and looks pretty cool. Be very careful drawing the design because once the foam is mashed down by the pencil, it will not bounce back. There’s no erasing with this project.

Day of the Dead Faux Linocut home made stamp
Day of the Dead Faux Linocut stamp

When you are happy with your design, apply a light layer of craft paint to the entire surface with a wide brush then carefully lay your paper or card onto the stamp. Gotta get it right the first time because once it’s on there is no adjustment. Smooth it out all over with the back of a spoon, a popsicle stick or perhaps one of those fake credit cards they are always mailing out. Gently, because you are not trying to squeeze out the excess paint, you’re just making sure the entire surface of the paper gets printed. Now lift the paper and be amazed with the awesomeness of your print. This is an example of my favorite kind of craft; one that is so simple and yet you could get very creative and make it super complex and elaborate. And they are reusable, just wipe clean after stamping!

Day of the Dead Faux Linocut Print
Day of the Dead Faux Linocut Print

With these stamps, you can easily make someone a very special birthday card, one that they will treasure forever. I used this stamp to make an anniversary card for my dear husband, Greg and he keeps it on his shelf.