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16 October 2014

30 Words :: Feathered Friend

Swooping, diving among treetops,
tempted by the last crabapples of the season.
You break
to catch your breath,
watching me watch you.
Take flight, feathered friend!
Winter's icy grasp impends.


The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...
Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.

Add your link to the InLinkz on my 30 Words Thursday post.
(InLinkz code will be open for one week.)
Enjoy seeing what others have captured by visiting them and leaving a comment.

Get the InLinkz code for your blog!

ABS Editors Take the Challenge

 “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty,
as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”

~ Lauren DeStefano, Wither
I remember when I was just a follower of the Art Bead Scene. I would eagerly await the next month's inspiration painting and rush to see if I had any art beads that would work. I took it as a personal quest to see if I could make something every month, even if the pieces I made were not that successful, and often times I didn't have any art beads that I could use. At least I would keep being inspired. And I built up my art bead stash along the way.

Now as an editor of the Art Bead Scene, I find that my time is so much more limited. I would love to join in the challenges each month, but I don't always have the time, even if I certainly have a dragon's hoard of amazing art beads (seriously, I have an addiction! It is like an art bead museum down here!). Making my Simple Truths each month based on the Art Bead Scene challenge is a great way for me to keep on making things that are connected to the inspiration. I hope my Simple Truths Sampler Club members agree! (There are current openings in the Club in case you are interested... or are looking for a great gift for your favorite beader for Christmas!)
Autumn, 1944 by Milton Avery
This month I am much more on the ball and inspiration came knocking early. I have a goal of getting the pieces sent out by the first full week of the month, but I don't always get that much advance warning of what the image is, so I am struggling to find the right look along with the rest of you!

This month the color really grabbed me and slapped me upside the head. This takes the fiesta that is Autumn to the next level, don't you agree? I have to say that at first the palette felt very dissonant, as if all the colors were beating up on one another. It just felt that raw and wild. I also didn't know if I really liked that big tree, all bleached out and naked, dominating the scene. I wasn't quite sure how I would incorporate such a large portion of white that seemed ghostly to me. 

But then I did something that I do when I am stumped:

I turned it upside down.

Here is what I wrote to my Club members (by the way... I write them a little letter every month detailing what inspired me and what I created)...
Don’t you just love Autumn? The air is crisp, the trees explode with color, the world seems so vivid to me. That is why I was stoked when I saw the colorful primitive artwork by Milton Avery called Autumn, 1944 for October on the Art Bead Scene.

People have called me a ‘color addict’ and I wouldn’t disagree. I love all colors! I will admit that there are some that are harder for me to work with than others, yellow in particular, and this painting has an awful lot of yellow in it! I was wracking my brain to figure out what to make when I started looking at this painting upside down (go ahead and turn it around, I’ll wait!).

When I am stuck on where to go I will often do this, look at things from a different perspective. What I noticed is that these wide swaths of color were very much like a sedimentary rock. Of course, the colors are unlike any sedimentary rocks that I have ever seen!

I don’t normally work in colored clay, but that is one thing that I am trying to change. So for this month’s Simple Truths Sampler, I broke out all the colors that I could find in the painting: gold, rust, black, cream, blue and magenta. I mixed colors to get just the right shades. I decided that I would make a sedimentary pendant that looked like layers of (fantastical) rock. But when I got done with each (and they are each different!), I didn’t like them at all. That yellow-phobia was kicking in, even though I used a safer golden color. Now what? I think that what I didn’t like was how flat it all looked. So I grabbed some silver and variegated gold leaf and carefully added that. I coated each with a bit of resin for durability, shine and to enhance the shimmer effect.

I am calling this “Sedimentary, My Dear”. Since I got this done quickly enough, I think that I, too, will add my work to the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge. We give away great prizes on the site (this month there are three!) and I would love to have you join me!
Since the ABS editors decided to play in a blog hop to get in on the action, I thought that I should join them, and I had exactly one pendant left. 

I decided to make a necklace using waxed linen in light rust, agates, frosted cracked quartz, pink and purple dyed jade and tumbled faux sea glass nuggets in a brilliant shade of blue. I like that each of the colors is sort of like layers of rocks, in striations built upon one another. This pendant seems to glow from within like a party is happening in an alternate world, one that is only rivaled by the view outside my window.

11 October 2014

Opportunities Knocking

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...
You must do the thing you cannot do.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

It's all about saying yes to the thing you think you cannot do.

Jean Campbell, someone that I have followed and admired for many years, contacted me with a short and cryptic message about an opportunity. If you don't know who Miss Jean is, she is an artist and writer who has written numerous books, including Steampunk Style Jewelry, and is the originator of the magazines Beadwork and Stringing, as well as their founding editor. I recall that when Jean and I first spoke I was surprised that she knew who I was. Of course, I have been in the pages of Stringing and even in a few books here and there, so it shouldn't be a complete surprise that my name would be familiar. But Miss Jean told me that every time she has a staff meeting with her Interweave colleagues my name comes up. Now THAT was a surprise to me!

Jean Campbell is so very sweet - and she is sharing in the filming of the Flashes of Brilliance video.

We ended up talking on September 2nd. I don't normally take cell phone calls at work, but this one seemed like something I should break my ban on. Miss Jean wanted to discuss the website Craft Daily. This site from F+W Media is a subscription-based service delivering streaming video content from some of the top names in a variety of creative mediums, from beading and knitting to mixed media and weaving. I have to confess that I had never heard of it until she told me about it, but it makes perfect sense. As much as I love my magazines, the world today is filled with people who want it now, delivered to their laptops and iPads and even their smartphones. And while there is a glut of content out there, it isn't always worth a watch. I want to know that I am learning from established teachers in the medium. And I trust the content from F+W Media. What I liked about Craft Daily as I looked around is the way the content is delivered not to mention the amazing pool of talent that they have assembled.

The opportunity was this: fly out to Fort Collins, CO to the F+W Media offices to film four hour-long craft videos for distribution through their marketing channels. Would I be interested? If so, there happened to be an unexpected opening on September 25-26 in the production studio.

Now if you have followed me for any length of time, you know that making jewelry is what I call 'my 9-midnight foolishness.' Of course, it has taken over just about every room of the house, and likely more hours than that. And I do have a mostly full-time job and a very busy family. I had to consider this very quickly, but I didn't deliberate long.

Setting up the work space.
I thanked Miss Jean and told her that I believed that doors of opportunity are opening around us all the time. We need to have the vision to see what is on the other side, but more importantly, the courage to walk through to discover many more possibilities that lie ahead. She stopped me and said that the opportunity was all my own doing based on my reputation and integrity in the industry. When I got off the phone, I actually burst into tears.

You see, this year has been an especially difficult one for me with the acceleration of my mother's Alzheimer's and just trying to juggle it all. You know in this space I have barely had the strength to do anything more than the 30 Words project (so happy that I have that to keep me connected!). When I hit my 46th birthday in August, I really had this sinking feeling like I would never achieve the goals that I had set for myself back when I turned 40. Maybe, I thought, this is nothing more than a diversion and I was fooling myself. This phone call brought me right back to the reasons I do what I do and gave me a laser focus that I had been missing of late.

I will be honest with you, the idea of creating four hours of content that would be worthy of flying across the country and then filling that time with just me, myself and I was a bit terrifying. Those few hours I had a night to work on creating the projects were further complicated by our largest school 3-day fundraiser and our high school homecoming thrown in, things I wouldn't want to miss. I also had to make all the travel arrangements: flights, hotel, rental car. I know that I freaked out on Miss Jean at least twice wondering if I could actually pull this off, but she was so confident in my abilities that it gave me the courage I may have lacked. She gave me the strength to keep on pushing myself.

After wrapping up the Fabulous Facets video.
I think that typically people who are asked to do this have much more time to plan. I know that I told her that I was concerned mostly that I really didn't feel that I was a technique-based creator. I have a huge variety of tricks in my bag, but none of them are essentially mine, or something that I am known for, and then to fill an entire hour with that is a challenge. After all, if I am known for just stringing beads, it would be about as fun as watching paint dry to see me string bead after bead, right?

However, I also know that I take for granted some of the things that I do that are internalized and inherent in my work, but that might be new to someone just starting out, or someone that wants to kick their designs up a notch. And teaching is in my blood (did you know I was a 7th grade English teacher in another lifetime?). I so love it when someone has that aha! moment, when they see how they would make their creative endeavor their own. So I focused on some of the different projects that I had that might make for interesting viewing and settled on these:

Make fashion forward flowers with wire and beads.
Shimmering Garden - Create a modern take on a vintage look. Make flowers using glass beads and a wire weaving technique for an ever-blooming corsage!
Making is messy!
Fabulous Facets - I give up my secrets to creating my polymer clay faceted beads that glow from within and are great foundations for all sorts of jewelry.

Flashes of Brilliance - A truly mixed media approach to making faux opal and stone inlays in bezels with resin, including a new resin that I have found that is changing the way I work with the material.

My view into the camera on the filming of Wire Doodles
Wire Doodles - Wrangle wire into beautiful curvaceous links and connectors. A comprehensive guide to using the innovative Now That's A Jig tool as well as just forming with your hands and tools will take your jewelry to the next level.

Shimmering Garden of blooms
When they saw what I was going to do they were excited, but also a bit concerned that the content could be stretched to the requisite minimum 45 minutes. I will admit that I was concerned about that as well. Miss Jean suggested that I do easy-hard-hard-easy for the order, as I would be much more tired the following day. (Great advice!) So I started with the Wire Doodles. Not necessarily the easiest, but something I knew pretty well. We started filming and I just chattered along.... and when they called, "Cut!" I wondered if maybe I missed something, or I went too fast... and Lauren told me that, no, I was doing great, better than most, but I had talked straight for 40 minutes and they needed a break to catch up! (Ha!) I only needed a minimum of 5 more minutes of content...yet I still had 3 more links to show! I remember that Jean was over there in the corner doing the Rocky impersonation with the fist pumps in the air. Needless to say, I had no trouble filling the time!

The rest of the filming went along just as well as the first. Of course, I didn't speak for 40 minutes straight on the rest, but they were just as great.

I got to meet all sorts of awesome people. [Note to self: take pictures with them next time!] I met Debbie Blair, editor of Stringing and Megan Lenhausen. I got to meet Sonya in contracts (who likes my signature!). Allison Korleski, editorial director of the books department, asked to have a meeting with me. You know how I have never let go of the desire to write a book, right? Still looking for the right opportunity to come along, and this was another step closer to that goal. There was the delightful Keegan who did my make-up each morning and made me camera-ready; Nick and Andrew the camera operators; Lauren who was ever so encouraging and extremely skilled at keeping me focused and moving in the right direction. I also met Lavon Peters, managing editor at F+W Media. These are names that I recognize from the publications, and it is so cool to put a name with a face! And, of course, I was thrilled to find out that Jean Campbell would also be there for her own meetings, so I got to spend a little time with her.

Michelle Mach, author of Unexpected Findings and me as we celebrate her success!
I even met with Michelle Mach, author of Unexpected Findings. I treated her to a celebration dinner for her new book as I am lucky enough to be one of the featured artists in there! We ate at a brand new restaurant called Blue Agave. Delicious!

The mountains in the distance... and no, I was not driving when I took this!
On Friday, after I wrapped up the shooting (early!), I took myself on a little jaunt. I drove toward the mountains in the distance. When I crested the first large hill what was on the other side took my breath away.... a huge reservoir glistening in the afternoon sun. There were boaters on the water and people hiking in the nearby hills. I would have liked to stay there until the sun set, or even go higher, but with very few guardrails and some sheer drops, I didn't think that was such a great idea.

I have to tell you about my flight there. When I got on the plane, I found that there was an older gentleman in my seat by the window. I decided to be nice and let him keep it, so that meant that I ended up sitting in between the two men. On my left was a very dapper man in a pinstripe suit with a pale pink shirt looking very much like he was someone special, or famous, like a record mogul or something, reading an autobiography of Ozzie Osborne (which was some of the most awful dribble I have ever read as I noticed here and there!). On my right was the man who stole my seat, promptly shutting the window (I love to take pictures out of plane windows), throwing his windbreaker on backward so that he buried his face in the hood. I couldn't stop giggling the entire time at the ridiculousness of these two men. Of course, he had to get up no less than three times the entire flight making it very inconvenient for the rest of us.

On the way back I was lucky to get home. That was when all the flights were cancelled because of that fire in Chicago. The plane had been booked solid. Unfortunately, the flight that came in was a smaller aircraft, which meant that they were asking for 30 people to give up their ticket! I had preselected my seat when I booked which was my saving grace in getting a seat!


I have been informed that the videos I shot will be ready to go live on the Craft Daily site within about three weeks. That means that they should be ready this month. And I know that at least two of them will be pushed to DVD! And yes, I do get a royalty when my videos are viewed or purchased, so there is a long-term growth potential. If you are at all intrigued by the content that I have created, I invite you to check them out, and I will let you know as soon as they are released.

This weekend is a special one on Craft Daily: they have surpassed the 500 video mark and are celebrating with a free weekend. I am pretty sure that my videos are not out there yet, but if you are interested in checking out what they have to offer, this is a prime time to do so!
This weekend we surpassed the 500 video mark on Craft Daily!

To Celebrate, we're giving you 4 full days of free access.
Explore CraftDaily.com risk free when you enter code CDFT500
after selecting the free trial for your cart at checkout!

Sign up any time Thursday, October 9 through Monday, October 13
and enjoy 4 full days of free access. 

Your credit card will not be charged until the end of your free trial period.
So, if you cancel during your free trial, you won't pay a thing.

Start Your FREE Trial Weekend Today!

This was an incredible opportunity that wouldn't have happened if all the other smaller opportunities I have accepted in my life had been ignored. Believe me when I say that I had moments of doubt where I didn't think that I could or even should do this. What if I completely bombed? Maybe I should wait until I lost 50 lbs? Perhaps no one will watch or be interested? But if I let that nagging doubt take over, then I wouldn't see where this door could lead, and I really like unlocking things. I just had to realize that I held the key. It really is true that one door of opportunity opens to others. There were times when I doubted myself, and wondered if I would be able to pull it off and rise above. But the fact that I was terrified of letting others down meant that I cared enough to do my very best. I feel much more confident about this direction, and hopeful of where this path will lead me.

It's all about saying yes to the thing you think you cannot do.


09 October 2014

30 Words :: Coming Up Roses

Younger days, you gave me long-stemmed bouquets.
Dried petals saved became dust. Long gone.
Now you gave me a miniature garden all my own.
Finally, it is coming up roses.

30 Words :: 2014 
by Erin Prais-Hintz

I have been kicking around this idea since I started this little project.
I would like to put together a book of the best and brightest 30 Words from this year.
What do you think about that?
I would love to include some of your favorites as well. 

If you have a particularly lovely image and 30 words caption that you posted this year, I would love for you to send me an email with the exact URL links you would like me to consider. 

[Please tag your email: 30 Words Book] 

You would have to give me permission to use your images and words (keep in mind that I will only consider images that you have the right to use, nothing that was taken by someone else). I think that this would make for an awesome way to mark the year and I would love to share the opportunity with my friends who have been following along, whether you have joined me once or every single week. 

I would offer the copies to be purchased with a generous % of the profits donated to charity.

I am excited to get this started so that I could possibly have them ready in the next few months.
[I have to decide if it should be representative of the whole year, available in January, or something that would make a great holiday gift, ready in December - your thoughts?]
Thank you for joining me on this rambling journey to document our world and our lives, one photo and 30 words at a time!


The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...
Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.

Add your link to the InLinkz on my 30 Words Thursday post.
(InLinkz code will be open for one week.)
Enjoy seeing what others have captured by visiting them and leaving a comment.

Get the InLinkz code for your blog!

02 October 2014

30 Words :: High Flyin'

it never, ever gets old
above the clouds
seeing this a-maz-ing world from
a new perspective
and knowing that
you are
to new heights in 

I am sorry that I dropped the 30 Words ball last week. I was preparing (read: obsessing) over a super duper top secret trip that I took to Colorado. I will be sharing more in the future, I promise! I have a thing for taking pictures out of airplane windows. The view is just spectacular. These were photos I snapped on my iPhone on the way back home. It was an amazing trip that may in fact fling me further along my own trajectory, and might even include more trips back.

If you prepared a 30 Words for September 25th, please add it to this week along with any new ones.


The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...
Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.

Add your link to the InLinkz on my 30 Words Thursday post.
(InLinkz code will be open for one week.)
Enjoy seeing what others have captured by visiting them and leaving a comment.


Get the InLinkz code for your blog!

18 September 2014

30 Words :: Still

 sky melds with water
an outer calm
 (but which way is up?)
all the while
hiding the 
inevitable truth
that the 
keeps on moving
s    t    i    l    l

I shot this the other morning on the balcony off my office at work on the Wisconsin River using my iPhone camera. Every day the water shows a different mood and this one with a relative calm is very rare. Can you tell which way is up?
And I feel that this image sums up where I am at right about now as well! Enjoy!


The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...

Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).

Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.

Post it each Thursday.

Add your link to the InLinkz on my 30 Words Thursday post.
(InLinkz code will be open for one week.)
Enjoy seeing what others have captured by visiting them and leaving a comment.


Get the InLinkz code for your blog!

17 September 2014

Unexpected Findings Book Tour

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again,
there is no use in reading it at all.”

—Oscar Wilde
There is nothing that I like more than a good challenge. So when my friend Michelle Mach came calling saying that she wanted me to join her for a book that she was writing about using everyday jewelry findings in unexpected ways, I couldn't wait to sign up!

Unexpected Findings: 50+ Clever Jewelry Designs Featuring Everyday Components

It is no secret that I have always wanted to write a book of my own. And one day, dammit, I am going to do just that. But until that time, it is really gratifying to be selected by someone you admire in the industry and asked to join in a stellar cast of jewelry characters to come up with new creative ideas. Plus it gives me a bit of a glimpse inside the workings of a book project. Thank YOU, Miss Michelle! Seeing my name on the pages of this book is indeed a great honor. But to be in the company of some of the finest talent in the jewelry universe is even better! I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe it is real.

I was very intrigued by the opportunity to let these workhorses of the jewelry trade come into their own light. In the beginning of the book, there is a very comprehensive section of all the different findings there are. Some are completely new to me! In some of the pieces, I had a hard time figuring out what the unexpected finding was, it was that well integrated into a design! And after looking at all the creative and dynamic ideas in this book, I will never look at that jump ring, glue-on bail, ball chain connector, ribbon end or spacer bar as just a thing to be neglected. They can be the star of the show! 

After perusing the digital version of this book, I cannot wait to get a real copy! There is nothing better than sitting down with a new beading book. I own almost all that are out there. Some I look at initially and then shelve them. But I know that this one will be on my most-referenced shelf to be readily accessible for reading and re-reading (i.e., the floor next to my beading table!). And the best part is it is like sitting down with some awesome friends, because that is what I consider all the people in this book. 

So here are just a few of the pieces that I made. See if you can figure out what unexpected finding is featured in each of these! If you leave a comment on this post what the three featured findings are, I will enter you in a drawing for a package of mystery findings just from me!

I Dream of the Sea

Rings Around the Monarch

Wish Me Luck
What's a party without party favors? Miss Michelle has some great prizes up for grabs (see below). Leave comments on my post, or any of the contributors book tour posts this week to be entered to win the following prizes:

Grand Prize
$50 (Fifty Dollars) Etsy Gift Card (1 prize)

You can spend this on anything offered at the many individual shops on Etsy.  This could be fabulous art beads, cool jewelry findings, a hand painted coffee mug, a knitted scarf ... whatever you want.  (Note:  Not all Etsy shops accept gift cards, so if you win, you may want to do a search for those that do.)

Fun with Findings Prize Pack 

First Prize
Fun with Findings Kit (2 prizes)

You can win some of the exact findings used in the book, plus a bunch of other findings that I thought were cool. (I ran out of room to add all the page numbers to the photo!) Prize packs include everything pictured here: jump rings, head pins (handmade by Miss Fickle Media and C-Koop), filigree links, clasps (hook-and-eye, ball chain, lobster), bead caps, cord ends, and more!

Second Prize (3 prizes)
To play off the "unexpected" in my book title, three winners will receive a small mystery pack of findings (valued at $8).  No photo or preview ahead of time.  It will be a surprise!


This giveaway is open to all visitors except the book's contributors and author (me).  Contributors are welcome (and encouraged!) to comment, but won't be entered in the drawing.  

One comment per person per blog post for a maximum of eight chances to win if you visit and comment on all eight book-related posts during the September 15-19, 2014 period.  

We'd love for you to help us spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  No extra entries, but lots of good karma!
Michelle will contact the winners by email this weekend (Sept. 20-21) and post the winners here next week (Sept. 23).   Remember when you comment that we'll need an email address to contact you if you win.

Blog Tour Schedule - September 15-19, 2014

Have a good time hopping around the participants posts this week, here are the links and dates!

Monday, Sept. 15

Tuesday, Sept. 16

Wednesday, Sept. 17

                         Erin Prais-Hintz === You are here!

Thursday, Sept. 18

Friday, Sept. 19

Disclosure: If you purchase the book via the links I have included in this post, I will receive a small amount of Interweave affiliate credit. Thank you for your support!

 Special Savings going on in the Interweave house Sept 17-19th! Woot!

Save up to 30% with Scratch and Save at Interweave

 Click here to buy your copy now!


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