Mary Ellen Beads juried into Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017

Mary Ellen Beads shows at Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017

Six of my pieces will be part of Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017 – a Biennial Juried Show which encompasses 19 guilds and most kinds of creative craft.

Participation matters to me. I fully support beads and bead art because it generates joy for me and for others.

I show my support through active membership in the Bead Society of New Mexico. As a member volunteer I’ll work at the Fiesta. In addition, I’ll take advantage of the fabulous instructors to take classes and expand my art.

Pictured below are my three beaded entries for this year’s show:

This interwoven amber necklace by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque. is a juried entry for Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, “WeR1-Interconnected,” Interwoven Amber Necklace

These embellished antlers are a juried entry to Fiber Arts Fiesta by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Sunset-On-The-Mesa, embellished antlers

This Talking Stick entitled "Namaste" is a juried entry to the Fiber Arts Fiesta by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Namaste Talking Stick

In addition, I submitted three Entries in Mixed Media:

This juried entry, "Princess Peace" by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque will be on display at the Fiber Arts Fiesta.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Princess Peace

This is a juried entry for the mixed media portion of Fiber Arts Fiesta by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Quan Zen

This is a juried entry called Southwest Meditation for Fiber Arts Fiesta by Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Southwest Meditation

All entries will be on display 9am – 5pm, Friday May 19 through Sunday May 21, 2017 at Expo New Mexico.


Fiber Arts Fiesta is a celebration of a multitude of crafting. Plan to attend and see for yourself. Admission is $8.00. A two day pass is $12.00. The biennial Fiesta is the major fundraiser for the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council, Inc. (AFAC), a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017 opens Friday May 19 and runs through Sunday May 21, 2017 at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Reasons to Experiment With Creative Activities

As a new artist described experimenting with creative activities – a heat gun, alcohol inks and various other techniques — I felt resonance. Who knew it could be this much fun to play?

The kindred spirit thing drew me in and caused me to think about the appeal of the new. Is it fun to make experimentation front and center? Or, do you put off trying something because you’re afraid, you know it won’t work, (fill in the blank with your reason) etc?

When I first interviewed Julie Haymaker, inventor of Shrinkets and thought about making jewelry with shrink plastic, I thought it couldn’t possibly be my thing. Now I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to try Shrinkets. …whimsical, light weight, different, fun. Best of all, Shrinkets involve a myriad of creative endeavors to combine easily with other techniques. Ahhh. I digress.

Here are five reasons to experiment with creative activities.

1. PLAY. If you’re like most of us, you don’t get enough time and/or encouragement to play. There’s always something else to do, a deadline or another reason to be responsible. We forget that play serves a useful purpose. It helps re-focus and re-frame thinking. The very act of play promotes creativity.

(Shameless promotional plug at the end of this post: Shrink to Charm, a whimsical bracelet class, scheduled for 9a-1pm Saturday, May 6, 2017 at New Tricks Gallery and Workshop is a perfect play date.)

This is a picture of before and after shrinkets

©2017, Color your shrinkets shapes

2. MEET NEW FRIENDS. Bond with loved ones or meet new friends as you create. (Readers of this blog know I promote craft days with family.) Color together. Cut out shapes. (Remember paper dolls?) Assemble pieces. Enjoy like-minded participants who are committed to having a great time. The synergy of creating in a group cannot be under-estimated.

NOTE: My friend Ann got an unexpected sense of accomplishment from coloring her own pieces and then wearing a whimsical charm necklace.

These shrinkets were colored by Ann for Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Shrinkets in bracelet and necklace

3. LEARN. If you’re a continuous learner, a participating workshop offers an easy way to add knowledge and skills to your toolkit. Classes appeal to me because I learn by doing. It’s faster than making every mistake on your own. I attend for the words in-between. I find special hints from the instructor to be priceless: what didn’t work at all, big time savers, resources, etc.

This bracelet celebrated the Go Red event and includes Shrinkets made by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Go Red Donation

4. STIMULATE IDEAS. In the words of one mentor, “Open up, don’t seize up!” Classroom brainstorming piques dormant thoughts. The interpretation of others feeds my curiosity. I walk out of the average class with a dozen new ideas in my notebook. Creative activities get me fired up.

These shrinkets contain positive affirmations from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary ELlen Merrigan, Positive Thoughts

5. TEST. A classroom opportunity lets one experiment with equipment and ideas for less than full investment cost. For example, I used different heat guns in a class and was able to decide what I wanted for my studio. I chose the bigger gun because it got hotter. In another situation I was able to work with a variety of metal hammers and choose the one that actually felt most comfortable for me.

In the photo below I tested a rubber stamp using Staz-On Ink on my shrinket.

This shrinket is an example of a stamp from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Trust Shrinket

6. BONUS: JUST BECAUSE. Books are written about the gift of flow and the joy that arises from creativity. Inspire your best output with a workshop different from your regular choices.

Consider these five reasons to experiment with creative activities – play, meet new friends, learn, stimulate ideas, test — the next time you choose inspiration for a project. You just might find a hidden bonus reason or two as a result.

Shameless Promotional Plug

I’m wild about Shrinkets and Shrink-to-Charm. It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive. It adds a new dimension to beadwork with fun beadcaps and hand-made charms. The shorter list is “What’s not to like?” Do NOT hesitate. Get in gear and try out Shrinkettes! In fact, join my “Shrink-to-Charm” Whimsical Bracelet Class Saturday, 9am-1pm May 6, 2017 at New Tricks Gallery and Workshop.

Class Details:

Color and create whimsical shrink plastic. Bead and shape charms for your lightweight bracelet. Draw, trace or cut charms for templates. Shrink them to one-third size using one of four heat stations, each featuring three shrinkette molds – basic, dome and star – developed by Shrinkette guru Julie Haymaker. During our time together you will complete 15-20 plastic charms and attach them to your bracelet with jump rings. Each student will leave with a basic mold so you can replicate the fun.

To register or receive more information, call 505-280-9772 or email Mary Ellen Merrigan.

Posted in Romancing the soul | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Shrinkets Showcase Creativity in Multiple Ways

Julie Haymaker Thompson and Shrinkets Showcase Creativity

Mary Ellen Beads enjoyed coloring shrinkets as part of the Wearing Wonderland bracelet from Julie Haymaker Thompson.

©2017, Wearing Wonderland, a Shrinkets class with Julie Haymaker Thompson

…The joy of playtime synergy with like-minded women

…The fun of coloring using pencils and spontaneity

…The whimsy of shrink plastic in which items are transformed with heat by placing them in molds.

Welcome to Shrinkets, an invention of Artist Julie Haymaker.


This bracelet, completed by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque is called Wearing Wonderland, where Shrinkets showcase creativity.

©2017, Wearing Wonderland Bracelet

I met Julie Haymaker Thompson in February. We colored and played with shrink plastic.

Julie had launced Shrinkets, her website for shrink plastic bead making molds, class kits, online class videos and more, days prior to our event.

The joy of creating is important to Julie and it shows. To her creativity means “mental well- being. Something I can always trust.”

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque enjoyed a class with Julie Haymaker Thompson who invented shrinkets and shows how shrinkets showcase creativity.

©2017, Julie Haymaker Thompson demos shrinkets

Julie agreed to talk with me about how her art evolved and how she has evolved as a result.

“As a child I did not think of growing up and “Becoming an artist“ as I always thought I was an artist . However, as a child I did want to be a Hallmark card artist. I was lucky to fulfill that desire when I finished college with a degree in illustration.

For the first 27 years of my adult career as an illustrator, my work only grew stronger and definitive in style. Twelve years ago I changed course, quit illustration and started working in mixed media .

It was like starting over. I see that much more clearly as more time passes and I can look at a my larger body of mixed media work created these past years. .

I brought a lot of knowledge to my mixed media work, including basic design principles, experience in mediums, understanding color and professionalism. But the new art form had a much larger learning curve that revealed itself with time. Good art does not happen overnight but is a continual process. It requires a focus and lots of discipline. When one starts working in a new artistic field there is a learning period where you wander a bit within the field. If the desire to become accomplished in that art form overrides the wanderlust, that is when the goal of creating “good” work emerges.

Multi Media Career Launches Shrinkets

I love and live for the process of creating. I rarely judge myself harshly when I am in the process. It is only in hindsight that I review past work and sometimes go, ‘OMG! What was I thinking?’ With the internet an image of my past work may pop up and it may be a work I have come to judge harshly in hindsight. I now have two options: I can learn to accept that creativity is about growth and a process or I can hate my work.

Creativity is not a contest .The process should be joyous. But like everything in life one should, strive to be the best one can be so it is good to keep that goal and ideal in mind and critique one’s work for positive enrichment.”

How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling contribute to your end result?

“Hmmm I have never had my true dream creative space, but when I am creating it does not matter. I once transformed a closet into a tiny studio. Yes I see others with awesome studios but I never see the space as a reflection of one’s work.

Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?

“Always. No one creates something truly unique or for the first time. Life is a circle, plain and simple.We learn from our past and from each other and that is how social creatures survive.”

As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face?

“I have never known anything but being an artist. Doubts and fears have popped up as I’ve grown older. Fears are “what if I cannot create?” My creativity has been the one constant in my life. One thing I have always been able to trust being there for me.”

How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?

“I used to think most people thought like myself and I was part of that safe majority. Now thanks to age and experience, I have come to see myself as part of a smaller group in terms of intellectual view points. So now I feel part of a minority and it makes me sad.”

What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?

“I want others to feel the joy of what creating something with ones’ hands can do to elevate the human spirit. I want to be a part of helping build self esteem, not breaking it down.”

When Julie talks about creativity, she simply lights up. Her mixed media adventure continues to expand. Shrinkets showcase creativity…best of all, it’s your creativity that will shine through.

Mary Ellen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque poses with Julie Haymaker Thompson after learning that shrinkets showcase creativity.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan enjoys Shrinkets class with Julie Haymaker Thompson

Disclosure: It was a pleasure to take a class with Julie. She is also going to be a fellow instructor at Art Unraveled in Phoenix this August. Read more in last week’s post.

Posted in Artists | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Join MaryEllenBeads at Art Unraveled 2017

Join MaryEllenBeads at Art Unraveled July 31 – August 8, 2017

Third quarter brings a list of opportunities, not the least of which is the Art Unraveled 2017 event. I’m doing the happy dance because I’m an accepted presenter at one of the country’s most popular art retreats which takes place each August in Phoenix, AZ

Internationally known instructors, participants from across the country and more than 125 workshops make this a do-not-miss event.

I’m thrilled to offer three workshops at this fabulous event. Since readers of this blog know how I roll, expect me to review other classes I participate in during the week long event.

Popular Crochet Necklace Workshop at Art Unraveled 2017

“I go by Feel,” my crochet necklace workshop takes place Tuesday evening, August 1, 2017.

These necklaces are exceptionally popular in the summer because they’re lightweight and great for travel. In past posts I’ve alluded to the old blues song, “I Go By Feel.” Yes, in answer to popular requests, I always have a recording of this favorite playing in the background during the workshop. Why not relax after a long day and learn a skill that will bring ongoing joy?

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque will teach her crochet necklace at Art Unravelled .

This is an example of the crochet necklace workshop from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque at Art Unraveled 2017.

This is an example of the crochet necklace presented by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque at Art Unraveled 2017.

Knotted ‘Barely There’ Necklace Secrets at Art Unraveled 2017

On Wednesday evening, August 2, 2017, I’ll share the secrets of my signature Barely There necklace with a workshop entitled Knot to UnKnot.

The elegant pearls that make up this necklace are always appropriate. Like my crochet necklace, this lightweight piece travels well and looks good with almost anything. Participats will be able to choose from a variety of colored pearls. If you’ve not signed up for an evening workshop at Art Unraveled 2017, consider this one.

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque will teach her knotted necklace called Barely There at Art Unravelled.

This Barely There Workshop is presented by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque at Art Unraveled 2017.

Social Media Workshop Focuses on Interactive Digital Skills

On Tuesday August 1 I’ll also share some of my best social media tips as I present Social Media with a Heart to Market the Artist in You. 

If you’ve been wondering how you can get more results from your Facebook posts, this workshop is perfect. Hats off to Art Unraveled 2017 for choosing this from the variety of ideas submitted.

We’ll use an acronym to plan your digital approach. Then, we’ll take a look at some templates that can save us time in the creation of our social posts. Best of all, you will have a chance to test posts before the go live during the interactive section of Social Media with a Heart! Now, how easy is that?

Of course, there are dozens and dozens of workshops for you to choose from at Art Unravelled including mixed media encompassing painting, book making, jewlery making, metal work, journaling, fiber/fabric arts, scultping, assemblage, etc. I hope to see you there. We’ll have a blast.

Discover more information at

Posted in Events|Shows|Find ME, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

What happens when you choose the alternative?

Polymer clay guru Christi Friesen on creative fun

Creativity is everything to me! I am fortunate to have been born with the desire and ability to create. I’ve spent my whole life trying to do so to the best of my abilities. But it’s not really a choice, I think. To be creative for me is to scratch the itch that is always there… and you know how very satisfying a good scratch can be.

Mary Ellen Beads talks with Christi Friesen, polymer clay artist, about creativity.

Christi Friesen, polymer clay artist, delights in life and recommends alternative headshots.

I was one of those kids that showed artistic talent very early: in my first art class at age three (in oil paints, of all things!). Since then I’ve continued to try just about every kind of art I could. As you may have guessed, I grew up in a family that appreciated art and saw to it that I had supplies and classes. I attended school at that time in America where there were good art programs, and I was fortunate to have had excellent artistic outlets during all my growing up years.

Art as business still creative fun

People always wanted to buy what I made, so art as a business choice was an early development. It’s an interesting thing to have someone want to purchase what you’ve created. Some people can’t bear to part with their creations, but I always found the act of creating to be very satisfying in itself, and the extra funds allowed me to part with my artwork rather easily! There was always something to spend money on (candy and clothes, mostly, I think!). But even though I did sometimes create things because I thought they would sell, I always made things purely for my own amusement. It is one of the most important things about growing as an artist – follow your own voice and create what you want and need to create, not what you think you should create.

I got older to the usual things — marriage, kids, credit card bills. I still created but not as much. In my early 40s I figured I better get serious.My life grew to include creativity immersion daily. I couldn’t be happier!

Chocolate adds to creative fun

When I am in my creative space (and I’m lucky to finally have a nice roomy studio full of all the things I need to create with), I am content. It is a sanctuary, figuratively and literally (I can close the door and block out everyone and everything whenever I want/need to). I have filled it with the things I need to create, but also creative things to look out – paintings and sculptures and things I’ve acquired from my teaching trips all over the world. It’s important, I think, to have inspiring things around you to keep your creative juices flowing. Also chocolate. That’s important to have nearby at all time. Hee hee.

Mary Ellen Beads talks with Christi Friesen on creative fun and shows one of Christi's polymer creations entitled Coming in for Landing.

“Coming in for Landing,” Polymer clay by Christi Friesen

To increase creativity, I recommend get your own creative space: a place that is yours alone; space you don’t have to clean up unless you feel like it; an area that offers privacy. The creative process can be almost trance-like. When you’re interrupted, your flow stops. A big space isn’t necessary. A personal space is required.

Art expands creative fun

The work of other artists is always around me in my studio. By choice, I am constantly influenced by others’ work. The more art we see, the more connections we can draw and the more unique we can become. While that sounds contradictory, it’s true. Your influence is restricted if you only look at small variety of art. Your work will probably look a lot like those few artists you admire. If you look at everything, everywhere, all the time, then your input is immense and it swirls around and gets all mixed up and everything sloshes over into everything else, so when it’s time to dip into that soup, you’re going to get quite a mixture of influences that you can shape into your own new thing. That’s the goal, anyway.

I purposefully look at art in mediums other than the one I work in, and art from contemporary artists all the way back to ancient artworks. There is soooo much!

My unpredictable path began in 2000 when I got serious about my artistic career. Since then I traveled the world teaching, wrote 11 books, participated in galleries and shows, and developed a product line. I had no idea that one thing would lead to another. Lo and behold: here I am.

This polymer clay item entitled Bone Metal Heart is by Christi Friesen, who is talking with Mary Ellen Beads about creativity.

“Bone Metal Heart,” polymer clay by Christi Friesen

Growth as an artist

A couple years ago I realized that this journey had compromised my growth as an artist. The demands of social media recognition and business success meant no time to grow as an artist. The time it takes to explore, develop new ideas and push yourself forward just never seemed to be available. I took efforts to slow down and carve out time to nurture my artistic soul. In talking with my peers – other teachers and business artists – I’ve found that many were struggling with the same dilemma.

So I’ve been devoting time this year to studio-only artwork. Art for it’s own sake. I now share works in progress and my thoughts behind each piece or series of pieces on Facebook. I’m amazed and delighted to see how hungry many of my friends also are for more meaningful art.

Unexpected joy. I created as I wanted and then shared with a group of interested people. (Previously much of what I created was to support products workshops, books and how-to projects). I challenged myself to keep up with my own creative development:. take more risks in what I create, share deeper expressions with my peers. Yeah, I still make fun creatures, of course! But that’s not all I do anymore.

Creative fun includes the meaningful, impactful

I’ve realized that I do care about saying something interesting, meaningful, impactful. I want to reach a broader group of people. I’ve set goals for myself to enter international competitions, and look to the larger art community as a constant part of who I am and what I do. I’m not looking to shake the world, just be a part of it.

I am delighted beyond words to have the innate talent to create and the desire to grow in my art. I am grateful to have access to so many wonderful supplies. I am daily buoyed by the outpouring of support and love I am given from my community. I am very lucky to be here, now, making.

“Count me in on creative fun!” -Mary Ellen Beads 

This picture shows Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque with Christi Friesen, Gail Crosman Moore and Anne Mitchell

Triple Terrific Pendant – Christi Friesen-polymer clay, Gail Crosman Moore-felt embellishment, Mary Ellen Merrigan wears her tt pendant, Anne Mitchell-silver

Disclosure: Christi Friesen, Gail Crosman Moore and Anne Mitchell presented a fun and informative workshop, “Triple Terrific Pendant” in Tucson. My mouth is open with amazement at the end-of-day results!

This interview with Christi Friesen is part of my ongoing series on artists and creativity. Please subscribe to follow other creative fun adventurers via your inbox.

Posted in Artists | Tagged | Comments Off on What happens when you choose the alternative?

Party Pretty With Unique Jewelry You Need to See for Spring

“Spring is nature’s way of saying “Let’s Party.” – Robin Williams

“Let’s Party!” …and Party Pretty when you join ME 11am – 6pm Thursday April 27 at Silk Road Connection, 5200 Eubank NE, Ste. E-6, (Spain & Eubank) Albuquerque.

“Ooh!” and “Aaah!” over my collection of one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces.

A stunning glass focal emphasizes five strands of pearls, rich with hues of ecru, bronze and turquoise. Faceted glass beads add sparkle to the presentation.

This five-strand necklace from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque screams, "Party Pretty!"

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Pearls and Glass

My love for fiber, texture and tiny seed beads brings life to Birdsong Creativitree. Enamel owls, a sterling leaf and a large branch of natural coral coalesce into a dramatic beadweaving. This one-of-a-kind necklace

This beadweaving entitled Birdsong Creativity is part of the Party Pretty collection by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Beadsong Creativitree

Tibetan prayer boxes continue to intrigue me.

Themes with Tibetan Prayer Box is part of the Party Pretty collection from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Themes With Tibetan Prayer Box

I’m drawn to natural elements with an urge to transform them. These shells frame a perfect collar.

This shell collar is part of the Party Pretty collection from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Shell Collar

This show is just in time for Mother’s Day. Why not give a gift of my signature “Barely There” necklace? Always-elegant pearls, in a variety of colors, are lightweight and affordable. You’ll feel the creative energy in each one-of-a-kind creation.

Barely There Pearl necklaces are part of the Party Pretty collection from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, “Barely There”

Party pretty with ice resin creations and so many more fun items you’ll have to see them to believe. Yes, I’ve been busy.

Party Pretty Show Details

Save the date: 11am – 6pm Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the incomparable Silk Road Connection, Spain at Eubank in Albuquerque.

Will you Party Pretty with ME?

Posted in Events|Shows|Find ME | Tagged | Comments Off on Party Pretty With Unique Jewelry You Need to See for Spring

Explore Bead Embroidery on SkillShare

Author and bead embroidery expert Nancy Eha reached out to tell me she has two online SkillShare classes. She extends a free month SkillShare subscription AND her two classes to readers of this blog. Read on.

I’m a fan. I experienced an online class from Nancy and discovered how clear she was in her instruction. See this earlier post or, read more about Nancy’s views on creativity.

Have you used Skill Share?  After experiencing Nancy’s classes for myself, I decided to share more about this online learning resource with you.

ME: You are offering two Bead Embroidery classes on Skill Share: Beading Fantasy Flowers and Beading on the Edge. What can students expect as a result of these courses?

NE: As a teacher my primary goal has always been, no matter what a student’s beading experience, that they be successful in learning new beading skills and have fun doing so! Yes, I have authored books that teach my beading techniques, but with my classes on SkillShare there is an opportunity to not just read instructions, but hear step-by- step instructions, and see my hands performing the beading skills and techniques. Video based classes teach to multiple learning styles. Also the opportunity to pause and repeat if needed, or review the entire class. An opportunity that usually is not possible in an in person class with a large group of students.

SkillShare is subscription based (think NetFlix), so for a low monthly subscription you can watch any and all 10,000+ SkillShare classes. That includes my current and future bead embroidery classes, but not limited to only my classes. Currently SkillShare is offering your first month of SkillShare for free, and you can cancel anytime. Use this link that Nancy is providing:

ME: How do these courses work? Do they require a huge time commitment?

NE: The classes are each a series of short videos with total video time ranging from 20 minutes to more than an hour. A student can choose to enroll in a class after watching the introduction. Then watch the series of class videos whenever it is convenient and at their own pace. There is even a SkillShare app. With the app and a wifi connection you can download all your enrolled classes to your phone and watch later without connecting to the internet.

Two Bead Embroidery Classes From Nancy Eha

ME: You picked two techniques from dozens you use regularly. Why these two?

NE: Over the course of 4 or so years I have taught for several online schools. For my first class with SkillShare I wanted something new, something I had not taught either online or in person. After some thought, I realized I have been asked many times which of my classes or books teach beaded fringe. The answer was none. I also wanted to engage nonbeaders, those who would be interested in a DIY garment remake project and cross over into the realm of beading. So I developed Bead Embroidery: Beading on the Edge.

This shows a project from Nancy Eha's bead embroidery class on Skill Share - Beading on the Edge, as discussed with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

The focus is on preparing and repurposing a large square scarf, into a triangular beaded edge scarf. Thus the name Beading on the Edge which I thought would be an intriguing title. For my second SkillShare class I am teaching some of my most popular course content, making a variety of delicate flowers and leaves with mostly size 11 seed beads. Entitled, Bead Embroidery: Beading Fantasy Flowers. No pressure to make a flower that looks like anything in the real world let your creativity run wild!

This class, Beading Fantasy Flowers, is a bead embroidery class from Nancy Eha as discussed with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

ME: Tell us about this platform. Why SkillShare?

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque interviewed Nancy Eha about bead embroidery classes she is presenting on Skill Share.On the SkillShare platform, teachers must include a project with each class. Over the years, I have taken student surveys and the vast majority of students want to learn techniques in a class. But they want to do so making a project.

With SkillShare classes, the project can be as simple or elaborate, the student decides. Students are encouraged to upload a photo of their project, sharing their creativity with other students in the class.

As a former elementary school teacher now teaching adults, I know I can teach anything to anyone in small teachable steps. SkillShare encourages the same, teaching the class project in small bites of video lessons.

ME: Will you teach additional classes?

NE: The future of online learning holds no bounds. It is 24/7 to fit your schedule, PJs anyone? You can learn from teachers and interact with students worldwide.
It is economical; no travel expenses, hotel rooms, or meals on the road.

I was an online learner prior to being an online teacher. Being skeptical, I was amazed that not only did I learn a new software program ( I am so a non-techie) but I used the skills I learned to make my own WordPress website. The experience was so empowering!

I have new online classes in the planning and production stage. I know each will be better than the next as I learn more filming skills and better my audio and video editing.

Link to Nancy Eha’s Bead Embroidery Classes on SkillShare

ME: How can potential students benefit from this opportunity?

NE: Here is the link to take a look at my classes, and have one month of SkillShare for free.

ME: Thank you Nancy. It’s great to have this information. I, for one, plan to take you up on the special offer? Will I see you on Skill Share?

Posted in Resources | Tagged | Comments Off on Explore Bead Embroidery on SkillShare

Bust the Comfort Zone

A wire wrapping class from the Bead Society of New Mexico led me to reflect on the comfort zone we can easily adopt. Comfort zone is defined as the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.

Early on, our teacher/leader said, “You’re brave!” It was obvious that no one in the session had ease and familiarity with wire. Thanks to such a tone, confidence and success grew, rather than diminished throughout the day.

No one quit. Each student did far more than she expected.

Participants of the Bead Society of New Mexico pose with their wire wrapping projects and instructor Ginger Shockey, and Mary ELlen Merrigan of Mary Ellen Beads.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Chevron Earrings Class Participants with Instructor Ginger Shockey

The challenges of the chevron earring class, an original design presented by Roswell bead artist Ginger Shockey, included (and were not limited to):

  • Dexterity
  • Tension
  • Balance for beads
  • Counting beads and chevrons
  • Straightening wire already tangled
  • Keeping five wires straight while weaving

Author and artist expert Julia Cameron talks about joy in the process. She maintains doing the work is the best cure for the difficulty of doing the work. Why? Because the joy lies in the process and not in the product.

When, as beginners, you feel “all thumbs,” this is a good thought. In spite of the learning curve, participants sensed the meditative benefits of the pattern. Wrapping wire in such a situation might almost be fun if only one could trust themselves in the next step.

A participants demonstrates busting the comfort zone during a wire wrapping class attended by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Class participant weaves chevron earrings

Maybe it helped that the company was good, the chatter supportive and the help instantly available. These factors eased group members into the world of wire.

For beaders who love seed beads, or simply enjoy stringing, “…even your pure intention might disturb comfort zone of others.” The quote aptly describes disturbance potential for the departure from norm. The words come from Toba Beta who wrote “My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut.”

Progress measured in the process

By the end of the afternoon, two participants completed one earring.

This earring busts the comfort zone for Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Chevron earring completion

Within hours class members received an invitation for an earring completion party. What will the final chapter in wire wrapping say?

Other Reflections on Comfort Zone

“One element of Madonna’s career that really takes center stage is how many times she’s reinvented herself. It’s easier to stay in one look, one comfort zone, one musical style. It’s inspiring to see someone whose only predictable quality is being unpredictable.” Taylor Swift

Is there a “Madonna” of wire wrapping hiding here? Certainly five students moved out of their comfort zones.

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” Dan Stevens

What will you do to bust your comfort zone?

Posted in Romancing the soul | Tagged , | Comments Off on Bust the Comfort Zone

Boost Artistic Creativity with 5 Sincere Tips

Carrie Story Shares About Artistic Creativity

Read more about Carrie Story and her tips on Artistic Creativity in this blog excerpt from Mary Ellen Beads. Albuquerque.

Carrie Story

As I meet artists and makers, I’m pulsed to talk with them about artistic creativity and how it positively impacts our lives. The creative spirit and the good life co-exist. In our modern world, it’s more important than ever to embrace the art of making things. I sensed that agreement when I met Carrie Story, founder of Clay Revolution at To Bead True Blue in Tucson, AZ.

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque snapped a picture of the class projects from Carrie Story's Creative Foundations class in Tucson.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Creative Foundations Class Projects

Eight of us made a horn cuff bracelet, a creative foundation. Quick. Easy. Fun. Carrie’s easy manner supported us in the process. She explained her passion for making colorful, individual pieces of work versus making a million of the same earrings. (We get it, Carrie!)

On the role of art in her life:

“I always loved art class. Although I only have a few memories from grade school, most of them revolve around art class or projects I made. With this in mind, I took every art class available in high school. I did very well and was even given a few awards for my work. My favorite classes were ceramics, but with a lack of equipment availability, my skills didn’t go any further than high school. I did attend a small amount of college with a focus on art, again receiving a few recognitions, but the world of financial need vs. artistic desires arrived.”

Find Your Creative Medium

“My art went on hold for too many years. For many years I have spent my free time making something or other. In 2006, I discovered jewelry and began making and selling a few pieces to friends and family. But in 2008, I discovered metal clay. That changed everything. As soon as I put my hands in the clay, I knew this was the medium for me. My art went from basic skills, making simple designed projects, to complex constructed pieces made with fine silver within just a few months.”

“I have had many careers and enjoyed all of them. As a result of my business experience, I consider myself to be 1/3 business person, 1/3 artist and 1/3 entrepreneur. This strange combination has brought me to where I am today; instructor, artist, owner. Now, I make my art work to suit me. I don’t really mind if someone doesn’t like it, or if it never sells. Of course it always feels good to have it recognized, but that is not my goal when creating.”

Focus on Creativity as a moment in time

What does creativity mean to you?

“I think of creativity as a moment in time. It is that moment when all of those little tid bits of information in your head coalesce into a perfectly inspired piece. Sometimes the ideas flow so easily that you can’t keep up with them. Other times, you must look to your favorite inspirations to bring them together.”

Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?

“Yes, of course! I never want to copy anything another artist does, but it is impossible not to get inspired by great art. I scroll through images and come up with more and more ideas to incorporate into my work. As an example, when an artist creates a new technique in metal clay, the first thing I do is start coming up with ideas on how to use that in my own way.”

Make Creativity Personal

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque captured Carrie Story with two of the projects from her Creative Foundations class.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Carrie Story Creative Foundations Class projects

How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?

“Once I was able to do this full time, I was fortunate enough to meet a whole new group of people. These people are from several different social groups, but would have never been in my circles prior to this. This has opened my eyes and allowed me to understand many more cultures, opinions and social norms. It is fascinating to me to learn about other cultures and even participate in them when I can.”

“…I hope that the world sees me as a cheerful, nice person. …always full of information that I am willing to share and willing to laugh at myself at any given moment.”

Jewelry Making Daily editor Tammy Jones highlighted Carrie and Clay Revolution’s new products after the Tucson show in her wrap up of supplies and new products.

Define Your Biggest Creativity Challenge – and meet it

Because we’re all human, I asked Carrie to elaborate about challenges and doubts she faces.

“Expectations of others – that is a challenge I face every day. Each of my students, customers, family and friends expects my work to be a certain thing, a certain way or a certain amount. It is likely due to me not communicating my goals in full or just a general misunderstanding of my ‘job’. I find myself continuously trying to make what people want instead of making what I want to make. It is a constant struggle and one that I work hard to try to overcome.”

Impact one person at a time

To end, I asked: What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?

“You know, I really only want to impact one person at a time. My desire is to make something that someone walks up to and just stares at for hours. I want to create that sense of inspiration, of awe, of emotion. Making someone feel like that with my art is the most I could ever ask for.”

Well said, Carrie. Thank you!


The place of “no patterns,” that I found in beads caused me to think differently about everything, infusing my entire life with creativity. I hope you benefit from tapping into an ongoing well of artistic creativity brought to you by makers from around the country. Carrie Story of Clay Revolution and Divine Ornament is the artist co-creator highlighted in this month’s episode of my series.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if each of us considered our impact one person, one interaction at a time?

Posted in Artists | Tagged , | Comments Off on Boost Artistic Creativity with 5 Sincere Tips

Beaded Antlers Make Natural Statement

Could beaded antlers be the most unusual beaded object you’ve seen?

In New Mexico, mule deer shed their antlers during late winter or in early spring. Antlers, an extension of male skulls, vary in size with age, increasing annually before reaching maximum size. In this part of the country deer are plentiful.

I began using antlers for jewelry displays because it seemed like a natural fit for my tribal-themed creations. I draped necklaces over antlers at various shows. I hung bracelets from them as well.

I’m not prepared to disclose how many antlers I now possess. When does a grouping become a collection? How many objects must one assemble in order to be credited with a collection? The query interests me because many of us assemble, preserve or display like objects in our lives. My friend Ann has a collection of salt and pepper shakers. Margie displays kitchen crocks on the top of her cupboards.

Somehow, I have embraced a collection of rather unusual subject matter: beaded antlers.

Beginning a beaded antler collection

Like many things, my obsession began with an experiment: “What would happen if I added leather and beads to this?”

This is a picture of the very first beaded antlers from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, First beaded antlers

My project received much commentary during the Sandia Heights Studio Tour. One visitor even returned the next day with two antlers he’d picked up during a walk around our neighborhood. (So, as you can surmise, my collection grew organically.)

Intrigued with the many ways of enhancing a natural object like antlers, I announced and completed a road project. More about that effort and one of my first beaded antlers in this 2016 post. 

These bronze beaded antlers are from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Bronze beaded antlers

After I received eight dainty mule deer antlers as a birthday present, (Note the continued, organic growth of the collection) I obsessed about a deep purple set of beautiful colors beaded into my small, elegantly shaped antlers. Voila! It happened.

These purple beaded antlers are from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Purple beaded antlers


Since then, other beading enthusiasts have asked me to lead a class during which I’d share techniques for beading antlers. That’s on my list. I’ve also fielded calls about custom beaded antlers as well as other unusual objects of nature. These conversations about sharing beauty with beads make me happy.

Beaded Antler Conclusion:

Before I lead a class project, or do a custom piece, I have to add one more beaded antler to my collection. I call this Sunset on the Mesa.

These beaded antlers named Sunset on the Mesa are from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Beaded Antlers: Sunset on the Mesa

Could there be a pair of beaded antlers in your future?

Posted in Found Objects | Tagged | Comments Off on Beaded Antlers Make Natural Statement