Creative Challenge Report: UFO Is Finished … and Sold!

Sometimes The Universe Is Just Waiting For You To Say You’re Ready

Last month, I challenged you to find an un-finished crafts project (UFO) and commit to finishing it by the end of the month. A few of you commented on the Facebook post, and one person sent me email, to share your commitments. Thank you for doing that!

I’ll be honest – part of my motivation for this challenge was to motivate myself to finish a project! I have far too many unfinished projects, but there was one in particular I wanted to tackle.

I’d had the idea floating in my head for awhile to create a series of necklaces based loosely on my infamous Poseidon’s Embrace piece. I’d already made one necklace, and had started the second…but then the holiday show season crept up, and then end-of-year inventory, and after that I ran out of excuses, but kept procrastinating. I knew I was putting off this project because I honestly had no idea how to create what I envisioned, and somehow the idea of just not doing anything was easier than sitting down at my worktable and pushing through the discomfort.

Hence, the challenge.

Despite getting off to a slower start due to a seasonal cold, I finished my piece by my deadline. And … *drum roll* … the piece sold before I even posted it online!

As I was putting the finishing touches on the necklace, a woman who’d purchased a few pieces from me at a local show messaged me looking for a statement necklace. I sent her a few images of the previous necklace I’d made, took a quick photo of the current necklace in progress, and also sent a few color palettes. I needn’t have bothered with the color palettes, as it turned out she loved the necklace I was working on, and wanted to buy it right then and there! Serendipitous!

Here it is. From the pile at left, to the gorgeous piece, named Resilience, at right. Resilience is created with links of various metallic hues in two sizes. Inspired by dystopian fiction and the idea of creating beauty out of the wasteland. Also, not gonna lie – it’s something I imagine the hero might wear when she wants to dress up while continuing to look badass.

pile of metal mesh links at left with arrow pointing to assembled necklace made from the links at rightOverall, I’m so happy with how this came out, and I’m amazed that someone purchased the piece right as I was finishing it. This is the first time this has happened to me in the 17 years I’ve been doing this! I’d like to think the Universe was delivering me a resounding message of “You’re on the right path.” And now I’m eager to figure out what my next commitment is!

Stay tuned for other Creative Challenges this year. And in the meantime – if you’ve got a UFO sitting around, go finish it! Maybe a buyer (or gift recipient) is waiting for you as well.



Giving Myself Permission To Take A Sick Day (Or Two)

The Culture of Guilt Around Sick Days … Is, Well, Sick

rebeca mojica drinking tea

Artisan shout-out: The awesome striped black artwork behind me is made from bike tubes! It’s by Beatrice Holiday and is one of two pieces I purchased from her at a show out here in LA. I don’t think she sells artwork on her website, but you can check out her lovely jewelry online. My sweetie bought a couple of cuffs from her! Sadly, I can’t remember where I purchased the mug. 😞 I’m usually so good at remembering all my artisan purchases, but this one escapes me at the moment. If you recognize this, or think you do, please let me know!

 

Whelp. I caught my first cold in at least 3 years. (There are many things I miss about Chicago, but all the buses and trains full of coughing, runny-nosed people is NOT one of them. Ha.)

I had all these grand plans for this week, and instead, I’m forcing myself to slow down. I’m reading some business books, napping, drinking lots of ginger-lemon-honey tea and slowly walking a couple miles a day instead of hitting the gym hard. I did ship orders (note that I sanitized my hands and put on nitrile gloves while packing the orders, so hopefully I’ll keep my germs to myself!)

I’ll be honest, though, it was hard for me to not follow through on my previous commitment to work on my chainmaille necklace on Monday! I mean, I just introduced a challenge and was so excited about it. I felt I needed to step up and be a role model for y’all. I committed to doing something, so, I should do it!

Best laid plans, right? I have a general rule of not weaving while I’ve got a cold/flu, etc. Scientifically speaking, I know the cold virus won’t last more than a couple days on a metal surface. But I just don’t like the idea of infusing my pieces with my “sick energy.” I’d much rather weave when I’m in a joyful, optimistic state, and not suffering from a contagious virus.

So, self-care came first and my current projects are on hold until after this weekend. Thanks for bearing with me.

Having not had a cold in so long, I’d almost forgotten that we live in a culture where “calling in sick” often makes us feel guilty. Even if we’re our own boss! I really wish that weren’t the case. When I was a boss, I sometimes worked ridiculous hours and wasn’t the best model of self-care. I tried to be supportive of the team when they needed time off, but I’m guessing many of them felt guilty or bad for calling in, and I know I didn’t always succeed the way I wanted in leading by example. When I have employees again, I plan to do a much better job at this. Because all humans should be able to rest and recover without feeling guilty or terrified of losing income. Right? I’m not really sure what I can do to impact this on a larger scale, but in the meantime, hopefully “yet another blog post about self-care” might make a difference and help at least one person give themselves permission to truly take care of themselves when they need to.



Listen While You Craft! My 2 Most Recent Sci-Fi Binge-Listening Books

These Books Aren’t New, But They Are New To Me, And I Love Them!

Disclosure: Some of the links to products below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It helps me create content like this for you, and I thank you for your support.

When I started making chainmaille in 2002, I also started listening to audiobooks. Over the years I’ve gone through phases, sometimes preferring to listen to news radio or podcasts over audiobooks. But this past summer, the audiobook bug bit hard!

Cover of Dark Matter book by Blake CrouchI tend to listen to nonfiction (mainly social science, cognition, cosmology, and biographies) and science fiction. For the past few months I’ve been on a HUGE Young Adult dystopian fiction kick. My 13-year-old self would’ve been absolutely obsessed with some of these books, and my adult self is enjoying them too.

Sidenote: If you’re curious, I use the Libby/Overdrive app to listen to audiobooks from my local library … because libraries ARE AWESOME, duh. 😉

Of all the books I listened to during the final months of 2019, there are a couple of Sci Fi books that stand out, because I completely, unashamedly binged them. Usually I only listen to audiobooks while weaving or maybe while walking to the Post Office. But these books, I couldn’t get enough of. I listened to them pretty much nonstop. Once, I even turned into a live meme, eating popcorn while I listened. (Until, 4 or 5 chomps in, I realized I immensely disliked the sound of me chewing while trying to listen to a book. Ha.)

I’ll provide links to the books on Amazon, if you’d like to check out more information or reviews.

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Lots of people know about this book because of the movie. I didn’t see the movie when it came out, because I wanted to read the book first, and boy am I glad I did. Its narrated by Wil Wheaton and he is absolutely fantastic. I honestly just felt like I was hanging out with someone from my nerdy Dungeons & Dragons crew, who was filling me in on his epic video game adventures. (In fact, I loved Wil’s narration so much, I quickly followed up by listening to him narrate one of his own books, The Happiest Days of Our Liveswhich, despite the name, had me crying multiple times.) Some readers complain that Cline belabors a few points, providing copious details about, well, everything. But I loved it. I know that when people are passionate about their hobby, they can and do provide all sorts of details! It really was just like hanging out with a friend, and I was rooting for the protagonist the entire way.

AMAZON:

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I don’t know how this author flew under my radar for so long, but I’m now hooked and plan on reading his other works. At the very beginning of Dark Matter, I was reminded of the short-lived TV series Awake, and I was wondering if the books was a “dream world vs reality” situation. Then I realized what was going on. But then…plot twist! And then, another plot twist! Everything was conveyed in such vivid detail; my brain really enjoyed bringing this world to life. All in all, it was an excellent ride and it certainly took me places I wasn’t expecting. Oh, and bonus, it takes place in Chicago, and I always love it when writers throw in street names and neighborhoods that I know!

AMAZON:

Those are my top 2 Sci Fi recommendations from Fall Quarter 2019. The next book in my queue (it finally showed up this morning, after being On Hold for 12 weeks!) is Fifth Season (Broken Earth Trilogy) by N.K. Jemison.

Now that you know a bit about my taste – do you have any Sci Fi audiobooks you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

UPDATE: See all the great suggestions on the Facebook thread about this post, too!


B3 Challenge – Finish Your UFO!

This Month, Set Aside Some Time To Tackle The Project That You Never Finished

Earlier this week, I posted about T, the 8-year-old who plugged away at his Dragonscale Bracelet until it was finished. I’m feeling particularly inspired by his dedication, so I’m going to make a promise to myself to finish one of my projects that’s been hanging over my head for a few weeks. If you’d like to join me, check out the challenge below:

B3 Challenge: Do you have a UFO (un-finished object) on your worktable? Don’t be shy, raise your hand. Or hands. Or maybe you need to raise a couple dozen hands! (That would be me, haha).

Now, how about you find one of those UFOs and commit to finishing it by January ___, 2020. (Insert whatever date is most appropriate based on your project, but push yourself. Don’t write January 31 if all you need to do is add a clasp. 😉).

Imagine how great it will feel to FINALLY get that project off your worktable. And then, just do it!

TIP: Pick a project that you know you have all the supplies for. That way you won’t get “stuck” waiting on a shipment to arrive, or needing to run to your local craft store. (If you have no choice but to pick a project that you need to buy supplies for, buy the supplies today or tomorrow (right now is best!), so that you will have enough time to finish your project.)

chainmaille mesh scraps in brown, grey and silverAs for me, I’ll be tackling the freeform necklace I put aside once holiday show season kicked into high gear, and then put aside again once I started to do end-of-year inventory & bookkeeping. No more procrastination!

I am committing to working on this piece this week Thursday (the 9th) and Saturday (the 11th) for at least 45 minutes each day. I will complete it by Monday, January 13.

Be sure to write down your plan, too. You can leave a comment below if you’d like extra accountability, but either way, be sure to write your commitment and put it where you can see it. You got this!

Feel free to share your finished UFOs by emailing [email protected] or posting online with hashtag #B3CreativeChallenge



In Case You Want To Give Up On Your Chainmaille Project, This Kid Might Inspire You To Keep Going

8-Year-Old Conquers Dragonscale

I’d like you to meet a student of mine, “T” (name obscured for privacy). T was 7 years old when I first got a message from his mom. He’d recently discovered chainmaille at a Renaissance Faire, and his mom shared a photo of the European 4-in-1 he’d made at the faire. She described how excited he was about chainmaille. We chatted over several emails, and I set him up with multiple additional projects to develop his skills.

Fast forward to a few months later, and I get this message from his mom:

“Do you think for my [8th] birthday we can ask Rebeca to make something for me that’s really really hard?”🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. The idea that my boy is asking for chainmaille for his birthday cracks me up. I told him a compromise could be that we pay you to teach him something “really really hard”.

Awww! A 7-year-old boy wants to spend his special day with me learning chainmaille. No offense, adults, this was probably the coolest birthday request I’ve received.

I sent a list of 5 potential weaves over. I remember debating putting Dragonscale on the list. I mean, it’s difficult enough for most adults to learn. But I figured, “what the hey, there’s an 80% chance he’ll chose one of the other weaves.”

Of course. He. Picked. Dragonscale. 😂

OK. Challenge accepted!

The Lesson

Before T arrived, I created a starter piece for him so that he could “get into the groove” right away, and then we could learn to start a piece from scratch at a later time. (I do this with a few tricky chainmaille weaves, as I find it’s easier to start a weave if you already know how to make the weave.)

I walked him through the steps of Dragonscale and quizzed him to make sure he could figure out what step was next based on looking at the current state of his weave.

It was slow going, which in all honesty is completely expected for Dragonscale. (In my years of teaching, I’ve only had 2 students complete their Dragonscale cuff in a 3- or 4-hour class). T had about an inch and a half completed when the lesson was up. His mom had the brilliant idea of videotaping me doing the weave, plus me doing a demo of the particular point in the weave that kept tripping him up. And with those videos and a set of paper instructions, I bid him luck!

The Result

A few weeks after the lesson, I got an S.O.S. message to help T troubleshoot a mistake that he knew was there but couldn’t figure out.

Mistake successfully troubleshot. Back to the grind. I knew from his mom that he was chipping away at this cuff, one ring at a time and determined to finish it.

About 5 1/2 weeks after the lesson, I got a text with some completed photos! He’d finished!

Dragonscale-bracelet-by-8-year-old-boyHere’s a closeup:

Dragonscale-cuff-closeupI actually squealed out loud and clapped my hands when I saw the photos. I felt so happy for him that he finished, and also, I was majorly impressed by his dedication. I suspect there can’t be more than a handful of 8-year-olds in the entire world who have finished a Dragonscale cuff on their own, so this is quite an accomplishment.

We’ve all heard the mantra “Don’t give up,” and we all know this is easier said than done. This mindset comes naturally to some people, and it has to be nurtured and developed in others. Based on T’s persistence with this weave, I have a feeling it’s natural for him to work to finish something he’s passionate about, and I think this will serve him so well in life!

Congrats, T, on making an amazing piece of jewelry!

Stay tuned for a challenge for YOU to finish a piece that’s been hanging out on your worktable for far too long. Let T inspire you! If you have any words for T, feel free to leave a comment below, as I know his mom will show him this post.