Friday, June 14, 2013

Bead & Button Show - A Reflection

I looked forward to the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin more this year than the past few years. Mostly, I think, this is due to the fact that I was only slated to teach one two-day workshop, instead of my usual four to seven, which usually results in me nearing a nervous breakdown by the end of the week.

It's not that I don't love my students or my classes. I love teaching, and get a lot out of meeting new people and showing them how to make cool things out of beads. I think mostly it's the excessive stimulation, the set-up and break-down of an elaborate display before and after every workshop, and hauling all of my workshop and display materials around in any combination of wheeled suitcases, shipping boxes, and dollies rented from the local Uhaul. Depending on where workshops are located, that walk can be as short as an elevator ride or as long as several city blocks. All of these aspects of the show combine into one mind-bending experience that can easily be described as bitter-sweet.

So I decided last summer to minimize the stress usually brought on by the exhausting experience of Bead & Button by only submitting two workshop proposals. Happily, the powers that be picked one of the workshops and I happily made my plans to travel to the show for a week with very little work to do, compared to previous years.

It turns out the week away from my biological family, to be with my beading family, was exactly what I needed.

I tend to have many moments of self-doubt, when it comes to the things I'm creating and this business I have made for myself. Fear is a large part of my life and at times it can be overwhelming. Just before the show this year I had found myself in a creative rut, doubting that I have anything to contribute to the beading community, thinking that I should just find a real career finally, and that nothing I do compares to what other people are doing in the beading community. But by half way through the show, when I was sitting at a table with my German friends, beading away, greeting other friends who came by, I realized I was getting my confidence back.

I think part of it was my German friends complimenting the pieces I was working on, part being at the show with so many people who love the same art form, and part just looking at the variety of beaded jewelry on display both in the display cases and on people's necks and wrists. I began feeling once again like part of the community, and like I have a role to play, just as everyone else does. There is room for all of us in this strange little niche of the art world, and seeing all of the lovely beadwork reminded me that there is no limit to the possible combinations of beads and finishes and colors that we can put together. 

I left the show feeling refreshed, valued, and grateful for the time I spent just relaxing and focusing on my craft. I doubt I would have had the same experience had I crammed in a bunch of classes that week, and am very happy I made the decision last year to give myself a break. I needed it. And guess what--when I came back from the show, I had a flurry of new ideas that I've had time to start stitching, and it feels so good!

So when you're feeling like I did, that your work might not be up to par or that your work is just lost in a sea of beautiful creations, take time to give yourself a break and do something nice for yourself. Stop working for just a little while. It turned out for me that a half a week was all I needed to relax enough to remember that I play a valuable role in the beading community, and for new ideas to come. Perhaps when you're in a creative rut, you can do the same!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Workshop Project

This is a preview of my workshops available in 2013. This necklace is called "Little Windows" and it's a 6 hour workshop project. Here are two different colorways! To see where I'm teaching, check out

 Original Colorway

Peacock Colorway

Friday, November 23, 2012

November News

Hello fellow Beaders!

As the year comes to a close and the holiday season starts kicking into gear, I have a few different pieces of news I'd like to share with you.

1. To celebrate the release of my new (and first) book, I Can Herringbone, by Lark Crafts, I'm going to give away one "Sinusoidal" bead pack-to go with the so-named necklace pattern in the book. To enter the drawing, visit my new Facebook page MGS Designs and leave a comment under the posting about the give-away. A winner will be selected randomly on December 1st!

2. As some of you already know, hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on my area and the Greater New York area earlier this month, and my class at Beads By Blanche in Bergenfield, New Jersey had to be postponed. The workshop, entitled "Song of the Siren" has been rescheduled to December 8th & 9th. This necklace was a finalist in the 2011 Fire Mountain Gems & Beads Swarovski Elements Contest, and this store will be the only one at which I'll be teaching this workshop, so this is your only chance to take this exclusive class!

3. In the month of December, I'll be shutting down my website in order to re-format and re-design it. When the website comes back online, I'm going to have a huge sale on kits. That's the good news. The bad news, for some of you who like kits, is I will not be producing new kits any longer. I will continue to offer new patterns for download and some custom Swarovski crystal for sale.

That's it for now!
Happy Beading

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Can Herringbone released, and bead packs listed!

For those of you who do not yet know, I recently published my first book through Lark Crafts, called "I Can Herringbone"! It's so exciting to see the fruits of a lot of labor and love. You can order your copy now on or check out the Lark Jewelry and Beading blog  at for some book give-aways!

For those of you wanting to replicate the colorways of the final project in "I Can Herringbone", which is my "Sinusoidal Necklace", I'm listing the remaining kits I have from when I taught this project as a workshop on my website. You can find them at in the Kits section of the shop. Happy Beading!

Monday, September 24, 2012

I have been busy this summer coming up with exciting new projects for those of you who like to take workshops! I have three new class projects and one semi-new class to share with you! I will be teaching these projects through 2013, so look for them at your local bead shop or bead society.

The first place I'll teach them all with be at the Great Lakes Beadworker's Guild in Michigan, from October 17-October 20, 2012. Please check my workshop schedule at for a list of my upcoming workshop locations, and my workshop page at for descriptions and details!

"Round About" Bracelet

"Little Windows" Necklace

"Inner Circle" Lariat

"Queen Isabella's Sceptre" Lariat

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hi Friends! After much deliberation, I've decided that I am going to stop producing kits for the designs I sell. I am so sorry if this inconveniences anyone, because I know some of you really like your kits. Because of this, the decision was difficult, but I decided that I needed to cut down on the number of projects I have and making kits has been the least successful of all my endeavors.

I will, however, continue to offer exciting new projects in pattern form through my website,, my Etsy shop, and my trunk shows when I travel to teach.

I hope that by not making any more kits, I will be able to produce more designs and keep my store updated with fresh new patterns for sale, free patterns, video tutorials, and much more!

In the mean time, I'm cutting down on my bead and crystal stock that I was using to make kits. You can find lots of my precious baubles I'm parting with on my Etsy site: Here's a preview of some of my treasure I have to let go!

There's lots more on my Etsy site and much more to come!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Much News!

My new website is, or alternately, I'm going to start using both my maiden and married name for the next couple years, eventually transitioning to using just my married name. So if you see the name Melissa Grakowsky Shippee anywhere, that's me! I'll eventually just go by Melissa Shippee.

Since I haven't posted in so long, here's a photo of an ongoing project I'm doing for Miyuki!