John Berger was able to see through the apparent to deeper, more meaningful levels of truth. He did this as writer, philosopher, artist, and humanist. His words and ideas give me hope and direction.

An extraordinarily kind man, Berger’s writing seeks to understand through compassion those he writes about, whether it be Frida Kahlo’s pain, the despair that motivates a terrorist, or the hope of people in poverty.

In this hand drawn tribute, my calligraphic lines (from a photo by Jean Mohr) depict John’s face and become the containers for his words. I selected words from several of his essays that resonate with me.

Beneath this portrait are shots of the work in process.

Thank you, John, for helping me to see.




I march for the dignity of every American.

Every human being deserves dignity. In response to the excruciating lack of dignity I’ve witnessed in my country I march.

I march for hope.

I know that in the darkest times there is always light available to each one of us individually, and to humanity as a whole. I hold within me that light and I carry it to Washington D.C. I march with hope for everyone who is hopeless, angry, and frightened.

I march because I matter.

So often I’ve considered my voice insignificant in the face of a massive and twisted political system. Now too much is at stake. And I no longer have the luxury of indulging in insignificance. Every voice on this planet matters, including mine. My voice and my presence matter enough to have impact, even if it cannot be measured. I march my voice and presence in Washington D.C. because I matter.

Jamie’s latest book is, like all of her books, pleasingly straightforward and easy to follow. She is a master teacher as well as a master at her art, her technique, and her craft.

I asked Jamie about tassel making and her book.

What is a common problem you see when it comes to making tassels?

Jamie: I think that many beaders see a tassel and their mind immediately and simply sees it as fringe techniques stitched up into a bead.

Margie: This is true for me!

Jamie: The problem with this is that the bead hole will only accommodate the thread a limited number of times and usually that will create only a sparse, feeble tassel. Unfortunately, I see finished designs that clearly would be wonderful with a tassel but what was done was out of proportion with the beaded piece, a few strands indicating a tassel but clearly limited by a bead hole. I am stubborn and worked on techniques until I could get the appearance I wanted for any tassel with the fullness, richness I desired no matter what limitations the beads and beadwork presented.

Margie: That’s what I love about your tassels: they are substantial and robust… nothing wimpy about ’em.

Is making tassels as difficult as it appears to be?

Jamie: Making tassels is no more difficult than any other kind of beading! And it’s always fun to be able to bead something that you envision in your mind. So I’ve included in this book four different methods/techniques for creating tassels, and within each technique there are a variety of different looks you can achieve by changing lengths, bead sizes, fringe styles, etc.

Margie: Will everyone find it simple?

Jamie: Probably not since I’ve observed over the years that any individual beader can struggle with a particular stitch. But with clear instruction and practice, this is easily overcome. The key with my tassels is using a technique to achieve whatever appearance you desire for your tassel. Some people will find it super easy and I’ve seen beginner beaders succeed wonderfully with these techniques.

Margie: I’ve had problems with tassels in the past. I scoured websites for instructions, and the ones I made I was never happy with. As I look at your book, I see now that was because I didn’t have proper instructions. Thank you for adding your clear, practical techniques to the bead artists’ repertoire.

Jamie: You are very welcome!

Purchase “Bead Play with Tassels” on Amazon

My Craftsy class, Jewelry Design for Bead Artists has been available for a week.After more than 6 months of work by myself and many others, I am proud! My husband and I have been watching portions of it at night and are so impressed by the HD quality, the graphics, the pacing, the ease of navigation, and the downloadable materials.

Over 150 students have enrolled in the first week, and I’ve received some great questions. Participants can ask a question right in the browser and attach photos of their work. I answer as soon as possible, usually within a day. Others can read the questions and answers as they watch the class videos.

I enjoy seeing others’ work as they ask me about the amount of repetition or variety they’ve used in the composition

. Before I answer these kinds of questions I ask them questions. I can give more helpful, accurate answers when I know what the artist was going for in their design. So I ask them what the goal of the piece was. Who is going to wear it and where? What’s the persona of the one wearing it? What do you want it to convey? And the most important question: What do you want the person wearing the jewelry to feel?

The first thing I set in my mind before I design anything is this: what do I want the customer to feel when they wear the jewelry I’m making? (By “customer” I mean anyone I design jewelry for, whether or not money is exchanged.) To me it’s the most important design decision I make, because it informs every other decision, from color, to length. I also discuss  this in my book, “The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.

Please check out the class preview if you’ve not had a chance.

"Jewelry Design for Bead Artists" on

“Jewelry Design for Bead Artists” on

Monday, May 18th! Stay tuned, jewelry designers! You’ll be able to learn how to create more unity in your designs, how to design for customers you know, and those you’ve never met, how to design for specific body types, and so much more!

I’ll also be giving away a free class!

I’m writing to you about fiction again, not design, color, or jewelry. I’ll get back to those passions next week, because I will have exciting news to tell you (especially those of you who have been wanting to take classes from me, but can’t because I’m here and you’re there and I never get there). More on that next week.

Today I’d like to share another excerpt from one of the flash fiction stories I contributed to the fiction and poetry compilation, Mosaic. One of the things I find most beautiful in life is hope: hope that in the dark becomes a beacon of light; hope that people who have suffered great loss hold, even as their backs are bent in grief. This story is one of hope. Its title is “Connecting Flight.”

Mosaic on Amazon“I’m at the gate waiting to board Zone 3. Three years ago I would’ve been thrilled to be going home. Three years ago Sarah would’ve been there waiting for me. I instinctively rub my left thumb against the ring I cannot – will not – take off. That was a long three years ago.

Out of the corner of my eye I see jerky movements. I turn and pretend to look through the window at the plane we’re about to board, but I’m really trying to see what’s going on. She’s very old. In a wheelchair. Bright pink shirt. Her claw-like hands rhythmically clutch and release a purse. Her head trembles. God, I hope I’m not sitting next to her. I hate myself a little for thinking that, but why should I? I just want a quiet flight. Old women always want to talk.

Once I’m in my seat, who do you think the flight attendant helps into the aisle seat next to me? Of course.”

To read more download Mosaic for free.

Please leave a review for us. Two of you, dear readers, left a review (or wrote to me of your intention to). Writing a review can be intimidating, and it takes time and energy. I deeply appreciate your generosity.

I wanted to remind you that Mosaic is still available on Amazon for free, if you enjoy fiction and poetry.

As I mentioned last week, a group of writer’s who met virtually in an online writing class created this eBook together. I’ve contributed two flash fiction stories to Mosaic.

Here’s an excerpt from my story, “Leonardo”:

“It had been over five centuries since Luigi, Leonardo’s guardian angel, had ushered the great artist into Paradise. And in those five centuries Leonardo had done nothing but sit in the garden gazing at hummingbirds. “The zenith of all flying machines!” Leo frequently exclaimed, startling Luigi out of a long stretch of silence.

Luigi was distraught, for it was his job to ensure that Leonardo progressed to higher planes. As all angels know, in order for humans to progress, they must first recognize their earthly failures and accomplishments. But Luigi couldn’t get Leo to pay attention to anything but the birds. In five centuries Leo had not left the garden once.”

Creating Mosaic has been challenging, inspiring, fun, and I’m so proud to be sharing it with you.

We’re offering it for free at several online resellers. For now, here’s the link to Mosaic on Amazon.
I’d love for you to download it and give us a review.

One of my co-authors, Brian Rella, explains why reviews are important. “Customer Reviews help readers make informed decisions before spending hard earned cash on a book and help independent authors get noticed.”

Good customer reviews are gold to Indie Writers.

Having said that, please understand I’m asking for an honest review. I’m not asking you to leave a 5 star review if you didn’t like it.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy Mosaic.

Here’s something fun. It has nothing to do with visual arts or jewelry or beads.

It has everything to do with imagination, creativity, and the discipline to follow-through with productivity.

A group of writer’s and I have created an eBook compilation of short stories and poems called Mosaic. We met virtually in an online writing class by Joe Bunting called “The Story Cartel Course” this summer and have been working together since. I’ve contributed two flash fiction stories to Mosaic.

Creating Mosaic has been challenging, inspiring, fun, and I’m so proud to be sharing it with you.

We’re offering it for free at several online resellers. For now, here’s the link to Mosaic on Amazon.
I’d love for you to download it and give us a review.

One of my co-authors, Brian Rella, explains why reviews are important. “Customer Reviews help readers make informed decisions before spending hard earned cash on a book and help independent authors get noticed.”

Good customer reviews are gold to Indie Writers.

Having said that, please understand I’m asking for an honest review. I’m not asking you to leave a 5 star review if you didn’t like it.

Like Brian says: “leaving a customer review will motivate someone else to take a chance and download the book. And wouldn’t spreading some joy be awesome with all the crap going on in the world?…What if you thought the book was just ok?…If you leave a 3 star, honest, and constructive review, telling us what you did and didn’t like, it will help us grow as writers, and that’s just as helpful. We want to get better. Constructive criticism will help us get better.”

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy Mosaic.

JM_logo_2014Jewelry Maven is a mobile app for jewelry wearers and designers. It displays visual combinations of jewelry styles overlaid upon specific fashions styles and rates them which ones work and which don’t.

Why Firefox?

Most people in the US don’t own a Firefox phone. One reason is that we want to smooth out the bugs and get user feedback in smaller markets first. Also, Firefox is an open source, web-based platform dedicated to building affordable phones for emerging markets (currently Columbia, Germany, Greece, Spain). We want to be part of that.

If you’re on a Firefox phone and living in Columbia, Germany, Greece, Spain, please check out Jewelry Maven in the app store.

If not, don’t worry, you’ll be able to enjoy Jewelry Maven soon on your Android and iPhone…if all goes as intended, by the end of 2014.

For now I want to share the good news. Darren (my husband) and I have been working on this for over a year and a half. And we are proud parents!

Thank you for reading!


A review on Amazon for my book, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, touches me deeply. Alicia wrote:
“What I didn’t expect was the paragraph at the end where the author emphasized that as beaders we’re allowed to think that what we create is important. 

…we’re allowed to be passionate about our own creativity. It gave me chills. It brought tears to my eyes. It was an enormous relief, because for years I’ve been unknowingly downplaying my own love of beads and beadwork. I’ve been playing it off as a mere hobby, keeping quiet about it, pretending it’s a shameful secret that nobody really needs to know about, instead of a vital part of my creative life and an increasingly important part of who I am.

I think I needed to hear that even more than I needed help with color values, to be honest.”

I wrote last week’s blog post/newsletter, An Act of Love with Alicia’s words in mind.

caldroun_creativityDecades ago a collection of my beaded jewelry was featured in a gallery opening. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I thought it wasn’t important. It’s just jewelry, made out of glass beads, and after all, I made it, so how important could it be? If I’d been showing paintings, now that would have been important.

I was raised amid the mind set of artistic chauvinism, believing that creating in one medium was superior to another. It’s a common snobbery that was even more prevalent pre-internet. It did damage. Someone else – someone unnamed, ambiguous, and anonymous – had the power to determine if what I created measured up, not me. And I came to believe that what I created would never measure up, no matter the medium. What a price to pay! It’s taken years of conscious effort, contemplation, and healing to unlearn that garbage and learn to value and honor creativity more than the medium, more than the creation itself.

What is important is that we create.

Whether we use glass beads, paint, words, sound, fabric, or macaroni elbows is of little importance.

What is important for me is that when I’m creating I am connecting with my Soul. I’m giving to myself and to others. I’m inspiring others to create and seek and connect.

I’m honored by Alicia’s words. She inspires me and reminds me how much creativity, my creativity, matters.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Why is creativity important to you?

Thank you,

Want to see knock-your-socks-off extraordinary creativity in every medium imaginable? Check out one of my favorite Pinterest boards, Soaring Creativity