Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Becoming a former board member

In 30 minutes I'll be officially done with a volunteer job that has occupied a huge amount of my time and energy for the last 4 years and 4 months. My tenure as a Board member and Treasurer of the National Association of Independent Artists is coming to an end. Whew!

I love this organization and believe strongly that it is necessary and of great value. I'll continue to volunteer but the day to day, and the pressure of constantly staying on top of everything will be over. It's been a long 4 plus years and I'm ready to pour some time and energy that has been lacking into my own business once again! It certainly can use the attention!

If you're an art fair artist, please consider joining the NAIA. Working together we can get things done!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And the water comes again

Michigan has had weird weather recently. It's been bitterly cold and by Friday, the snow piles were taller than I am. Then on Saturday, it rained...got up to 60 and the snow disappeared quickly. A nice reprieve, until Dick thought to check the studio.

Thanks to quick thinking by Dick, he is saving my studio from flooding - with a turkey baster! Water is coming in from the hole that the electrician drilled through the floor for the electrical ground. Dick has been crouched on the floor, in a tiny room, sucking the water out of the hole for 12 hours now. Up all night saving my studio... I think at last count he was up to 20 gallons, taken out one "baster full" at a time.

Meanwhile I've taken my cold and gotten a good nights sleep, totally unaware of what he was doing for both me and my studio. Our hope is that hydraulic cement will plug the hole and stop the water. It's coming via my Dad who's also bringing the wet vac that I gave him because I had no use for it! The temperature is back below freezing so maybe the water will quit rising soon. Although the flood warnings for the area say it won't go down for a week...

Thank you Dick...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

new jewelry trauma

Just as this is an unsettled time in our country, it's been an unsettled time in the jewelry I make. My work was starting to get "fussy". More little pieces and parts to each end piece. Just fussier than what I wanted. Time for a change.

I found I wanted more of a zen feel. Simpler pieces, not necessarily to make but simpler in the overall look and feel. So I started designing new work. I made components and started putting them together in different ways. The 22k gold is textured with bamboo leaf shapes, simple but with character. And I love it! Luckily, my customers have embraced my new work and pushed me to go further with it.

Now the scary part. I have to apply to art fairs with new images of my new work since I don't want to have to keep making my old! What if no one likes it? What if the jurors think it's simple looking so I must just be a beginner, instead of the reality that it takes a lot of years to make it look simple!

So, I had new images taken by my photographer, Larry Sanders, and sent them off to a show I had never applied to before and crossed my fingers. Would anyone like them???

Thankfully, they did! I got my acceptance to the show yesterday. Even though that doesn't mean that I'll ever get into another show, this one trauma was over. Someone else likes the zen feeling work that I want to make in these unsettled times. Whew!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Spirit

The holiday season is just not the same this year. In a normal year I'd be helping other people get just the right piece of jewelry for someone they love. All kinds of sneaky things happening to make sure it's a big surprise. Making sure it doesn't show up on the credit card before it's given as a gift because "she might see it". It's so much fun to be part of other people's gift giving and really puts you into the holiday mood.

Baa hum bug. No holiday spirit here this year. I don't have any great gift ideas for my family which always makes it tough. I'm not working right now so there's none of the normal last minute push to get all the pieces done and shipped on time.

Plenty to be grateful for, just running a little short of the holiday spirit. Luckily, I still have some time to find it before everyone comes to celebrate!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adam comes home

Many years ago, a Mom cat brought her kittens into my fenced in back yard when they were very little. We immediately turned the recycle bin into a shelter for them. They stayed for a while, I don't really remember how long and that was the last we saw of them.

Fast forward a few more years and into my yard comes another cat and 5 kittens! But this time, the Mom looks very distinctive and very much like one of the kittens from the earlier litter that we had sheltered.

Since in my world food=love, we immediately put out food and water. Dick was saying, just don't name them! I left for an art fair and by the time I got home, they all had names, fully based on what they looked like and we were sunk.

3 gray girls, Smoke, Bibby and Boots. 2 males, Toby and black and white Adam made up the family. It took a lot of work but we were able to capture each of the 3 girls to have them fixed.

This is Smoke in front and Miss Bibb, as we now call her, behind her sister.

Since that time we've added a "cat port" so they have covering when they eat, 2 insulated feral cat houses that get stuffed with straw, a heated water bowl in the winter and a good diet of Science Diet dry and some canned food every morning.

Do I like the fact that they live outside? Not at all. It was our only option. Because they are considered feral, we were told they could not be adopted out at the Humane Society. You can guess what that means and it was not an option for us. So we make sure they have the best life they can under the circumstances.

I'm pretty sure that Toby "found a family" and we haven't seen him since. He was such a love and very much missed. The gray girls stick pretty close to home and come inside every morning for some petting and purring before getting their canned food.

Adam is our wanderer. He would take off for days and show up again looking like a "streeter". Finally one day we realized that we hadn't seen him for quite a while and knew that we probably wouldn't be seeing him again. That was 6 months ago.

Then, the day after my surgery, Adam came home! Not looking like a streeter but clean and well fed. Marched right up like he hadn't been gone a day. When his sisters came in, he allowed all the sniffing they did, excited to see their brother again. So Adam joined them for breakfast, sharing some canned food with them, just like the old days. A happy boy. Then he left.

It's now a week and a half later, we haven't seen him again. But you won't be able to convince me that he didn't know to come that particular day. A very bright spot in a rough week...



Thank you Adam...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Catching up with pictures

I finally downloaded my pictures and discovered how much updating I need to do here! This was my booth at the By Hand Cleveland show with Patricia and Jon Hecker of Tattoo Dreams next door, at their very first show with this work. Great neighbors of course but also a beautiful booth stocked full of beautiful pieces!

And this is one of my favorite pictures of Pat and Jon, in their Tattoo Dreams booth!

The pictures below are of my corner "display" in my booth at the show. It won an award! I was so proud!!! It was given to me by my next door neighbor...



This show, By Hand Cleveland, was really a fun event. If you're in the Cleveland area, be sure and look for it next year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

When you can't work

So, I can't make things right now. I should be reading trashy novels, getting hooked on soaps or something really decadent. What am I actually doing? Catching up on my business reading. Better your booth! Get into better shows! Whoa - where's the trashy novel??? This is my chance to NOT be thinking about work for a little while!

This is what happens when you choose to make your living this way. It becomes your life! It permeates into every aspect. You live it and breathe it. You can't get away from it and here's proof that, I guess I don't want to...

Monday, December 1, 2008

I have breast cancer

Wow, what a headline! I have my first and hopefully last surgery tomorrow. Then comes radiation and who knows what after that. But if I need chemo, they say my hair might grow back CURLY! I'm going to demand that part!

I'm calm and I'm ready. I'm planning on falling apart after this is all over, when I'm cancer free and can afford to take the time to do a real good job of falling apart!

This is not going to become a "breast cancer blog". If I feel the need to write about it (which I may), it will go on a different blog. But I needed to explain that I have a really good excuse if I don't blog as much as I have been.

So, Tuesday Dec 2 at 2:30est, I need positive thoughts sent my way please...

Friday, November 28, 2008

One last Thanksgiving thought

The downside to going out to eat for Thanksgiving? No leftovers!!! I spent today craving stuffing, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. Oh, and turkey of course. Thankfully Dick made his pumpkin pies so at least we had leftover pie.

Going out for Thanksgiving dinner was the right thing for this year but it is NOT our new tradition. I need the old-fashioned Thanksgiving of my childhood. That's what makes it my favorite holiday of the whole year...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Today I discovered the best thing about going out to eat your Thanksgiving dinner... NO DISHES!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the entire year. It's all about the warm fuzzy of my favorite meal of the year. Don't mess with my Thanksgiving dinner. I want everything the same, year after year. Boring? Never! Just full of memories of my Mom complaining that we wouldn't let her try new recipes or change anything. She was only allowed to mess with the vegetables since we felt they were not the highlight of the meal so it was safe. For someone who was an unbelievably good cook and delighted in never repeating recipes, this was tough for Mom.

Last year was the first time that I tackled the entire Thanksgiving meal on my own (other than the pies which is Dick's area). For the first time in my life, everything was done at the same time and it was an unbelievably beautiful meal. It was the kind of meal that would go down in my family history for it's glory. And it will but not for the right reasons. My Dad ended in the emergency room just as the bird was coming out of the oven so there I sat, with our guest, just wanting him to eat fast so I could get to the ER and check on Dad. I took a picture of the damn bird just so I would get credit for how beautiful he was since no one was there to see him.

This year for the first time ever, we're going out to eat on Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sales

Never have I seen so much merchandise on sale. And I mean serious sales, starting at 40% off and even more. For someone who likes "stuff" as much as I do, this is hard. Everything is actually on big markdowns and I can't buy anything!!!

I don't need any more stuff plus I have no money. No shopping the sales for me this year!

Need gifts? Buy handmade American Craft!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clearing out...

I've been taking a break from working in the studio recently. The need to clear things out has been growing and finally I just had to stop what I was doing and start organizing.

I'm a very organized person...most of the time. My downfall is that I tend to keep things that are business/jewelry related when they really should be pitched or recycled. But I might need that (fill in the blank) again! It would be perfect for (again, fill in the blank). But when I purge, I get brutal. And this is the time! Or is it??? When parts of your life are in upheaval, is that the time to start throwing everything out?

So, instead of purging with abandon, I'm putting things into plastic bins so they are at least contained. This winter, on those long cold days, I'm going to attack each bin, one at a time, until it's done and I have nothing but a bunch of empty bins. Until then, my office has it's floor back, my surfaces are clear and I can see my next job. Feels very good!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Still here

I have not dropped off the earth. I am still around! Life has just gotten into the way and I've had no time to write my blog.

Tune in this weekend when I do a big update!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lessons Learned at Craft Shows

The last two days I've spent some time doing my favorite "bus-man's holiday", I've been going to craft fairs. These are not art fairs and not the type of show that I do but another facet of this whole art/craft business.

I wanted to see what people are doing now. What's new. What catches my eye. What holds my interest and what makes me think I've seen it all before. What are people doing right and where are they making mistakes. In my opinion of course.

There were people who I'm sure sell on Etsy since it was fresh and young (that's a compliment). That's what really captured me. New ways of looking at things. Lot's of recycled items and materials. Clean, uncluttered displays with prices showing.

I've seen more low end beaded jewelry than I thought was possible. I love beads but please, do something different with them! Anyone can string different colors together and make a necklace but put some of yourself into the pieces. Something to make it different than the 12 other people selling the same thing at the show. End of rant.

In some booths I wanted to whack the people on the head and say pay attention! One booth with interesting work, you couldn't enter because the artist was talking to friends and completely blocking access. I didn't bother going back. One booth was so tight that I didn't want to go in for fear of knocking something over. One handmade soap booth had beautiful displays but I finally had to ask about prices since nothing was visible. Turned out that they were priced on the ingredient labels. Which meant if it was a gift you had to remove the list of ingredients to remove the price. Duh!

My very favorite booth had both cards and little baskets full of fun little stocking stuffer types of paper items. I hit this booth hard because the little things just made me smile. As I'm paying I told them how much I was enjoying their work. One of the two women said, oh at this time of year it's just a job. I asked for a business card. They didn't have a card. I asked if they had a list of where else they would be and no, they didn't have a list.

This booth was packed FULL of people jockeying for position. These women had an absolute gold mine there AND THEY WERE IGNORING IT! Oh how I would love to get my hands on them but it's their problem. Maybe by my asking for a card (one of them did say that it was pretty bad to not have cards since they made cards for a living), that will help point out that they need to at a minimum, have business cards.

Personally, I learned good lessons right before my last show of the year. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, there are times that this is just a job (thankfully not often). Yes, times are tough. But celebrate the fact that we are all at an art fair looking at beautiful work made by people who love what they're doing.

I needed to be reminded of how lucky I am to be able to make my living doing what I love. That I have the flexibility to change. It's in my hands, no one else's. And I was reminded that I love beautiful packaging...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Did It!

I have hope again. Hope that we can turn things around and get them moving in a positive direction. Let this just be the beginning...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting

I've voted in tons of elections of different types and due to my age, plenty of presidential elections. Never has it felt as important as this one did today.

Where I vote they do optical scanning so you color in the little ovals by the names. I blackened the oval, then went over it another time to be sure. When I was done I went back and checked it again, needing there to be no doubt who I was voting for.

In the car on the way home it actually felt like my vote counted, that maybe I made a difference. I've never felt that way after voting before.

I'm staying up as late as I have to for the results, even if it means all night...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art fairs

This weekend there was an art fair that I was wait-listed for but didn't get into. It was 12 hours away but friends that had done the brand new show last year had come back raving about it. For anyone to rave about a show these days is rare so of course I wanted to be there! Turns out that I'm glad I wasn't.

The show added 40 booths this year. Added a stage with extremely loud music. Charged for corners that weren't really corners. Gave awards where the reward was money off your booth fee for next year. Huh??? Had something like 35 jewelers. What??? 35 jewelers??? No one is going to make any money with numbers like that!

Luckily some of my friends doing the show made some money. No one got rich but at least they didn't go in the hole. Others sold nothing. Such are the times right now.

What is going to happen to all my friends who make their living selling their artwork at art fairs? What is going to happen to me? These are scary times and it's looking like a very long winter...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Birthdays

Have you ever had one of those years when you say, I'm just going to celebrate my birthday on another day since this one could not possibly count because it was a yucky day??? Welcome to my day today.

I've had a ton of wonderful birthdays, especially being born on Halloween, my personal favorite holiday. So, this year I'll just remember that not all birthdays can be great. Some just won't measure up and some, well, you should just go back to bed.

Look for my birthday celebration some time next week when I'm in a better mood...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

simplifying my work

I've been trying to simply things in my studio, my work and in my business. But this is an example of what happens.

When making my mixed metal jewelry I generate a lot of small scraps of 22k and sterling. So I designed a line of jewelry originally called "Bits and Pieces", then changed to "Sticks and Stones". The piece to the left is an example. It also comes oxidized so the silver is black which is my personal favorite.

So this seemed to be the perfect way to use up the little gold scraps! Except, it became really popular (that's the good news) so I started having to cut up big pieces of gold to make the little pieces (that's the bad news). Totally defeating the purpose of making the line to begin with!

So, because I'm trying to simplify things, I'm dropping this whole line of jewelry and closing it out. I've taken it to 2 shows and quietly told people about it's "special pricing" since I'm not going to use big signs saying CLOSEOUT! I'll take it to Cleveland By-Hand in mid November and then to Etsy!

This has been so much fun that I'm starting to eye other pieces, saying to myself that it's time to retire these designs - LET'S CLOSE THEM OUT! I mean, let's simplify...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doing an e-mail blast


I've now found a new way to use up a lot of time. Composing an e-mail blast advertising an upcoming art fair, Cleveland By-Hand.

Over the years I've sent many thousands of postcards to my customers, telling them about the art fairs where I'll be showing my jewelry. I would be very pleased to NEVER stick another label or stamp on a postcard so I'm transitioning over to e-mail show notices. Sounds so easy since I send out e-mails all day long. It sure isn't easy yet!

If I'm sending an e-mail blast to my customers, I want it as pretty as the postcard would have been. Plus, the advantage of doing the e-mail is that I can give more information, links and pictures. All of which I now know takes time to do. Ugg. And what do you concentrate on?

So I decided that what I personally would like to see is a discount, to help me buy something. So I added a 15% discount on my 14k gold earrings. That's something I've never done before but times are very different now. I'll make a little less and my customers will spend a little less. Hopefully we'll both win...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Opie makes sense...

Loved this "blast from the past" with the great message by Ron Howard. Warning, this is both political and excellent!

Ron Howard's Call to Action

Monday, October 27, 2008

Playing with glass

This past Thursday, Judy Apol (on the right) and I went to "play with glass" at our friend Susan Molnar's (on the left) shop and studio, Glass House Designs on Main Street in Lowell Michigan. The project was to make fused glass wineglasses. Okay, I've never tried working with glass before but Judy's a pro, having made her living doing stained glass for years. She was kind enough to help with the beginning cutting and showing me how to cut and trim the glass. Boy, I only wish metal cut as easily. I'm always cutting myself when I'm working with metal and ended up without any cuts or punctures from the glass. Plus I stayed clean which never happens in my studio! As I'm cutting up the little pieces I just kept commenting on how much easier it was to cut! Plus it's so cheap compared to metal. And it comes in great colors and textures. I think it's obvious that I really enjoyed this...
This is my "work station". At this point I have one 2.5" square in the kiln, one is waiting and am working on my third one. Next time I'll bring my tweezers because I'm so used to working really small that I started using really tiny pieces of glass. I need tweezers! I absolutely loved doing this. All those colors! Susan gave us free rein of the glass she had in the studio and every color was available. For some reason, I was using "water" colors with the addition of a tiny bit of yellow in the first two and red in the third. Don't know why.

This is Kendra Postma and 4 examples of her glass work, before it's fired. Turns out that Kendra is one of those people who is talented in a variety of mediums so she had her watercolors and her clay showing in Susan's gallery as well as other items. Beautiful work!

This is Judy at her work area with the pile of scrap glass that Susan has in the center of the table for us to use. Talk about good recycling. Susan said that all the scraps we make from cutting down the larger pieces just go into the pile in the center which will then be used by someone else. I loved poking through the pile and I ended up finding most of my glass there. Again, all those lovely colors!
Now I want to make a window! Totally different technique but I really liked fitting all those little pieces together. But I'll need to work with bigger pieces of glass if I want to make something over 3" square or it will be a lifetime project!
So what exactly is it that we made? When we left they were still in the kiln so I haven't seen the end result but the glass melts and drops forming the stem and base of a wine glass. The samples were really fun so I can't wait to see the end results! I'll post the pictures when I get them done.
For someone who has been working in metal for so many years, this was such a fun break to try something new and so different than what I do. This was definitely a play day! Something we all need more of...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quacker Update

This is what Quacker, my little expandable rubber duck looked like when I started. Behind him is the glass I was using to "grow" him.

This is Quacker fully grown, again with the glass behind him. Yes, he's bigger than the glass! He's huge and really soft and squooshy. I'm now starting the drying process to see if he really gets tiny again. I am very easily amused these days...

Monday, October 20, 2008

MASS - 8 years later


Not the kind of mass you're probably thinking of but rather the Monday Artist Support Sisters. Back over 8 years ago I was invited by a friend to go to the monthly meeting of a women's artist group down in Ann Arbor. Every month they gathered to socialize, talk business and share what was going on with their own artwork. As I was driving home I decided I really wanted the same thing in Grand Rapids so I called a few friends and the group was formed. It's 8 years old this month!


We all work in different media but have the uniting factor that we all do art fairs for a living (plus we're all women). Sometimes we talk about shows, show new work or talk about our work and sometimes, none of those things happen. But we meet because working alone in your studio can be very isolating and this gets us out amongst friends!


The last few years we've developed our own personal goals for the year and brought them to the group in January. Then in the middle of summer we take a look and see how we're doing. For some, they've all been met. Others haven't even started yet. Then in December we go over how we did. For me personally, that's been a good lesson.


Today we met with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood who along with being a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press, does a weekly podcast about art, craft and creativity. She also blogs at her site CraftSanity and writes a blog called Running with Needles with an article appearing in the GR Press each Sunday. I especially loved hearing about her podcasting! Now we just have to get her down to the Garage Sale Art Fair to go shopping!


Oh, and the crazy name came about when we did a mock slide jury years ago and we felt we needed some kind of name for our group. As Judy said today, now she just tells her husband she's going to Mass!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall colors in Northern Michigan

Even on a cloudy day, the colors in Northern Michigan right now are spectacular! These were taken up near Leland Michigan just a few days ago and are mild compared to some that we saw. We went north for both a color and a winery tour. As good as the wine was, the colors won. Absolutely the best colors I can remember so the conditions must have been perfect for color this year.
Just another view of some of the beautiful color along the side of the road.
We stayed in a cottage at Jolli Lodge just south of Leland. I haven't stayed there in years and now I wonder why not. This is the view of Lake Michigan out of the front window and below is the view north from just in front of the cottage.


If you remember the movie "Same Time Next Year", one of my all time favorites, that's what Jolli Lodge reminds me of. We actually stayed at the location in California where the movie was shot but I think Jolli actually captures the feeling better.

We spent a lovely 51 hours ignoring the real world and just enjoying what Northern Michigan has to offer. Now it's back to the real world...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Receipts and Taxes

My business generates a ton of little paper receipts. Since I don't want to be taxed on money that I can legally deduct, it means that all those little receipts need to be recorded in the computer. In my case, that means into Quicken, Home and Business.

I LOVE QUICKEN! My records in there go back to 1991 and I can tell you anything you want to know about my finances with the push of a button. Of course I'm the only one who cares about this feature since I'm the only one interested in all the minutia but it's nice to know how easily I can get the info.


I have spent the last 2 days doing a year's worth of data entry. Okay, not the whole year but at least all the cash receipts. They are finally all entered. The bad news is, they are for 2007!


If you file and extension on your taxes, they now make it a 6 month extension which means October 15 is it. This means if I don't have all my end done, Dick can't do the tax return and if I have any chance of getting the $600 the government is so nicely giving out (don't get me started on that one), I need to get it in - now.


This is when I wish I had inherited my Mom's way of dealing with hated jobs. She did them first so they were out of the way. But no, I procrastinate until they are so heavy on the back of my neck that I can't stand it and then, only then do I finally tackle it. That's when you find out it wasn't a big deal and you fretted it for nothing. When will I learn...

So this is my public proclimation that for 2008, all my receipts will be entered and my tax return will be in by April 15. Every year I swear I'll not go through this again and then I do so maybe writing it here will make the difference. I think I'll go get started...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pictures from our Texas road trip

Yes - this was really the price we saw for gas on the way home. We actually saw it for 2.87. Got home and it's 3.47...
This picture of the arch was taken out the window while I was trying to direct Michael.
This is Joe Cyberski a wonderful man and great goldsmith!
We stopped at Ozzie's Eatery in New Buffalo Michigan to see our friends Rick and Angela who own this great custard stand. Great burger as well as GREAT turtle custard in a waffle cone. Yum...
This is the outside of Ozzie's. The inside is even cuter! I would link to their site but it's not up yet. I'll post it when it's available.

Lovely trip to Texas and I really enjoyed the Cottonwood Art Fair. It's held twice a year and I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blogging about art fairs

Okay, it was a valiant try but I flunked my first try at blogging about a show. I wanted to give a first hand view of what it was like to do an art fair, starting with the drive. I'll try to do an overview, complete with pictures for tomorrow. Today I'm still recovering!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Michigan to Oklahoma

What a day! Started from Richland, Michigan at 6 am and pulled into Pryor Oklahoma at 9 pm. Pulled into Las Fuentes for a good Mexican dinner before going to find our hotel. Long day but I was chauffeured the whole way. I navigated and took pictures. Dick called and played the Willie Nelson song "On the Road Again" which gave me a big grin.

Once I post the pictures (I'm too tired tonight) you'll see the Arch in St. Louis and a fuzzy shot taken after dark of the big Indian where Pat told me we turn left. She was right. The very best picture though was GAS AT $3.06!!! That was even worth a call home.

About 5 hours left to drive tomorrow to get to Cottonwood and then we set up our booths tomorrow afternoon. 5 hours sounds pretty short after a long day today.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the road again...

We're going to Texas for the Cottonwood Art Festival this weekend. As much as I love a good road trip, I went into panic mode over whether to go or to cancel due to the very rocky economy. The out of pocket expenses will be high and having not done a show in the area, I have no idea if anyone will even like my work!

Canceling an art fair that you've made a commitment to is a big decision. It's not something you take lightly. It's hard on the show to try to fill last minute cancellations and an empty booth never looks good. Sometimes you have to do it but this wasn't one of them. Michael was gung ho to go so, we're taking the gamble.

I'm really excited to see my friend Marilyn O'Hara outside of a big wholesale show. She's gone from making jewelry to photographing it and she's really, really good. I've seen samples and I think coming from the angle of having made jewelry, she understands better how to photograph it. Seeing both her and Tricia will just be the bonus to doing the show. So, off I go -

On the road again...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The next day

Things always look brighter the next day. Pat sent a very insightful e-mail which really spoke to what I was feeling about my neighborhood and life. I want the warm fuzzies we used to have back. I want everyone to feel safe and secure in all aspects of their life. I want change!

VOTE!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

My neighborhood, part 2

I've written about how much I love my little neighborhood, in the heart of the city. This time it's a little different because it's a new side to my area.

Around the corner and just down the street a 16 year old boy was gunned down at 4:00 this afternoon by a drive-by shooter. I can honestly say that I never thought I'd be typing that into my blog. I was driving home and saw the commotion a few minutes later with a dozen police cars, fire and rescue all on the scene. Not knowing what exactly had happened, I waited to see what the news reports were and then called a neighbor. For all it's size, Grand Rapids can be a very small town. My neighbor recognized someone they talked to in the report and all of a sudden it didn't happen to "someone else" but instead, someones relative.

It's a very unsettling feeling to have that kind of violence happen so close. That's never been part of my world. Things are feeling shaky enough in other areas, I don't want to lose my feeling of safety and security in my little neighborhood...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Going to Texas

Next week Michael and I are going to Richardson Texas, a Dallas suburb to do the Cottonwood Art Festival. Everything I know about the festival has come from friends and it all sounds like fun so we'll see how Texas likes my jewelry!

So when I think Texas I think big so, do does that mean they like big jewelry? I don't work big! Especially now with the price of gold. I'm trying some new pieces so we'll see how it goes.

I went to Houston for a show recently and really enjoyed it but it was something like 52 hours round trip in the van and that was just too long. Dallas isn't quite as far...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Updates, floods and sleep

My studio is now dry and 1/2 of the carpet has been cleaned. It should be dry tomorrow and then I can at least move some things out of the other areas and onto that carpet. Then I need to find a carpet installer to put down new pad and reinstall the other carpet so that can be cleaned. Oh will I ever have my studio in working condition again???

So, my sleep study was really interesting. You're in a room that looks just like any nice hotel room with all the amenities. They even come around with a bedtime snack! They wire you up from head to toe and tell you to go to sleep. Luckily I was tired so I fell asleep quickly, just like normal even though I had an "ET" finger with a bright red light on it.

I was one of the lucky ones. I showed signs of "sleep disturbances" immediately so halfway through the night Sam came in to try me using the mask. That's what I was really looking forward to, the miracle machine! It went down over my nose and then PANIC! Raging claustrophobia hit and I ripped it off panting. Poor Sam hadn't run into this particular issue before I guess. I finally was able to settle down and get used to it enough to try to sleep. And sleep I did. I didn't move, no tossing and turning. Just deep restful sleep...

I wanted to take the machine home with me but unfortunately it takes 10-14 days to get the results of the test. Huh??? I thought I was the poster child for good results! I want the machine and I want it now!!! I know it works! I want a good night's sleep. But I have to wait...but not patiently. I'll call my sleep doc tomorrow and see if I can speed it up. This girl wants to sleep!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sleepy days

I'm not sleeping well these days and my best friend has become a 20 minute nap so I finally said something to my doctor. Since I've long been a fan of self diagnosis, I think I have sleep apnea. My Dad has it as well as many friends so I'm pretty familiar with it.

My consultation was today and because someone else nicely cancelled, I have my sleep study tonight! Since I'm big on immediate gratification, this was perfect for me. I'm really excited to actually find out what's going on so it can then be fixed. It is that easy isn't it???

Monday, September 22, 2008

Riverwalk Fine Art Fair

Just back from a lovely weekend at the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair in Naperville IL. I wasn't able to do the show last year because I got really sick just a couple days before so I was really looking forward to going back this year. Easy drive, pulled up right in front of my space for a really easy set-up and then got to go to the Crate & Barrel outlet store! Life is good!

The area where the show is held was under water just a week ago due to the floods from the remnants of Ike but you would have never known it. They did a beautiful clean-up job and the community was ready for an art fair. Perfect art fair weather with clear skies and not too hot but it was much warmer than we expected! The picture above shows my goofy flag and my booth on the right and down the street. It was taken just as the show was opening on Sunday morning because at most shows, there is no one but artists there at 10 am! The streets filled up quickly.

Right behind my booth is a new yogurt place called the Red Mango. Because it's a chain out of California, I highly recommend looking for it when you're traveling. They call it "authentic yogurt". Just 2 flavors, original unflavored yogurt and green tea (which I thought tasted like grass). They have fresh fruit toppings and oh my, the stuff is GREAT! And Jon, it's gluten-free!

Back to the show, lots of good friends were there which makes it much more fun and Lynn Krause was my wonderful next door neighbor. So perfect weather, spending time with girlfriends and a lovely show. That's how all art fairs should be! Oh, we need great sales as well!

I came back to a still smelly studio though...

Friday, September 19, 2008

And a little more on water...

No smell! Turns out that when everything is dry, the smell goes away. The guys just put down the antimicrobial stuff so the beginning of the week we can start reinstalling carpet. And paring down the "stuff" in the studio.

A few years ago I just felt overwhelmed by how much "stuff" I had that was related to my business. I started pulling things out and then invited friends over to take what they wanted. Display pieces, lights and on and on. Got rid of all of it. Reorganized what was left. Now it's time to do that again. I'm holding on to too much because "I might need it". I won't. Time to clear out! Thank you to Luann for reminding me how freeing that can be. I encouraged her and now she's taken the whole thing to a new level, complete with blogging about it! I'm ready to attack those shelves.

Why do these thoughts only happen when I have no free time to actually do the work???

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saga continues...

The flood repair guys finally came late this afternoon and told me I had already done their job. All they wanted to do was spray some microbial stuff on the floor and the carpet and reinstall everything. After I take everything out of the room. Huh? What about cleaning the floor before putting the carpet back down? Plus it STINKS! I'm not reinstalling stinky carpet!!! I work there!
Okay, we're not on the same page so I think we'll do it my way.

Creativity is hard when your studio not only smells but you can't move around because there's stuff EVERYWHERE! I think what will actually happen will be a major purging session. I see much less "stuff" when the studio gets resettled.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Again I'm lucky...

Okay, my studio is a mess since it's totally torn up due to unexpected water coming in and soaking the carpet and anything else sitting on the floor. Unfortunately getting water in the studio means everything has to be moved so I can take the carpet up. I know that no one should have carpet in their studio but it was there when I bought it and it's really plush and lovely so I've kept it. The "dirty side" of the studio is uncarpeted. Of course that side is dry.

Tomorrow the "guys" come from the place that deals with floods and fires (see why I'm feeling lucky) and I'll find out if the carpet can be salvaged and if it can, will my studio ever smell sweet again. Because it really stinks right now! The sewer backed up once in my old studio and I had 12" of standing sewage filling my entire studio. So once again, I'm feeling lucky that this is at least somewhat clean water.

This event should teach me that procrastination never works. I left the making and/or the finishing of most of my major pieces for my show this weekend, Riverwalk Fine Art Fair in Naperville IL, until this week. For no particular reason other than lots of other jobs seemed more important and some were (Dad's books for example). But now, I'm in trouble since it's really hard to work when you can't get to some parts of your studio!

But I just got an e-mail from a friend who got bit by a dog a week ago and got 60 stitches plus staples and more in her head. Again, feeling pretty lucky that all I have is water...

Not feeling quite so lucky...

since all that rain mentioned in my last blog helped to flood my studio. It's now the middle of the night and we are taking turns with the wet vac trying to get the water out of the carpet. The very wet, squishy carpet...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm lucky...

I'm feeling very lucky right now. We finally had some well needed rain here this weekend. Helped by the remnants of Ike, some areas had as much as 9" of rain in the last 48 hours which was definite overkill. But that's not exactly why I'm feeling lucky. It's because I missed the application deadline for a show I wanted to do this weekend here in Michigan. I've been mad at myself ever since. But the show was this weekend, in the massive rain. I'm feeling very lucky to not be one of the artists at that show...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quacker, Day 0 and 1

For some unknown reason, I really like "rubber duckies". No, my house is not filled with them and in fact I only have a few. I'll never be a collector of anything since I hate to dust.

This is Quacker. Dumb name but so be it. He grows in water and was given to me by a dear friend. I think it takes 10 days so it had to be planned carefully so I'd be here for the whole time. Unfortunately, I can't count so I'll be gone for part of his growth period. I may have to take him with me to the show.

So, here he is before he goes into the water. Cute little thing isn't he?
Then after a day in the water. He's already grown quite a bit!
I'm going to track his growth here...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just a thought...

Life in itself is an empty canvas, it becomes whatsoever you paint on it. You can paint misery, you can paint bliss. This freedom is your glory.

Osho, 1931-1990
Indian Spiritual Teacher

I put out my flag today...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where do the days go?

Today is Wednesday and I'm trying to figure out exactly what I've accomplished so far this week. All I know for sure is that it's not enough. I haven't even blogged! The rest of the week is devoted to finishing my Dad's finances for 2007 so the accountant can do his tax return. He's been a good sport about having to wait so long for his daughter to get things done. I want them done even more than he does...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My neighborhood

The street where I live is only one block long and is just one leg of an "E" in the middle of the city. It's a quiet, diverse little street with friendly neighbors. Tonight was our Block party. By the time it was over we had already planned a fish fry for the end of the month, carolling at Christmas and the first block party next spring.

To see my neighborhood, it certainly doesn't look very special. The houses are smaller, the people aren't wealthy. I have loved it since the day I moved in 16 years ago. Lots of people have come and gone but the feeling continues. This block party just reminded me of why I love this neighborhood. It's the people.

We all need more warm fuzzies these days. For me, this block party with my neighbors was a huge warm fuzzy. Try it yourself!

Penrod Arts Fair

Yesterday was the Penrod Arts Fair. If I had remembered my camera, which I left sitting at home on my desk, there would be a picture here. A picture of the perfect art fair day. Sunny and comfortable temperatures. People happy to be out in the nice weather (that area had been in the 90's right before). And a whole lot of happy Penrod boys driving golf carts and enjoying adult beverages.

The added bonus of the show this year was that the Hecker's did the show as well! So I got my much needed Hecker fix! It made the show a whole lot more fun and I'm hoping that it will turn out so well that they need to do it every year! This is my commercial since I know Pat will read this...

One thing I've never seen at an art fair before are the Budweiser Clydesdales. They paraded right by my booth and I have to say, they are both big and beautiful. One of those fun little things that didn't detract from the art, just added a grin to everyone's face.

Another thing I've never seen so much of was Obama...everything! People wearing buttons and tee shirts plus Obama art work in the booths! One potter by me was selling handmade Obama mugs. A customer said it looked like all the artists were supporting Obama. Yeah! One surprise was, no Obama work yet in Pat's booth...

It was a lovely day, especially since Dick went with me as my roadie and made the day so much easier. It also meant that we could drive home after take-down even though it's a 5 hour trip. It's great to sleep in my own bed! Now I have to find a quick and easy recipe to make for our block party tonight...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One of my favorite things...

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Confucius

Real Simple magazine is one of my all time favorites and on Real Simple.com you can sign up for daily thoughts by e-mail. It's amazing how many hit home with me. It's a nice little positive in my e-mail every day!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Garage Sale Art Fair





A perfect example of how fast time goes by is the Garage Sale Art Fair. It seems like we just finished up the show and now I'm already sending out the applications for the 2009 event.


This year we're going all digital. I'm sending the announcements by e-mail to the artists that the applications are ready which has ready saved me a ton of time. No more printing up 2 pages, folding them, sticking them into an envelope then adding a label, stamp and return address. I'm getting tired just remembering it! Huge time savings, a money savings and I hope I'm helping save a tree. By not printing forms for people that don't use them, I might at least save a tiny tree.


Within hours of the announcement, the images for the applications started coming in. If the early applicants are any indication, 2009 will be a great show!!! It's so exciting to see what people are doing with their work and the changes they've made. It's great hearing how excited people are about doing the show!


This is not a show that most people need to do every year since it's for seconds, close-outs and overstock. Some people come every year, some every other and some just when they need to clear things out. It makes it really fun for our customers since there is change every year and always lots new to see and buy.


Michael and I spend time every year deciding what changes we're going to make and what we want to do differently. Luckily we decided in the beginning to keep it simple so we just have to keep with that theme and not over think things! We want our show to be the most fun and the most profitable on our artists schedules. For our customers we want them to be loaded down with packages as they leave with huge smiles on their faces saying "I can't wait until next year's show"! That's our goal...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Physical Therapy

I love my physical therapist, Jerry at Achieve Physical Therapy. He started working with me before I had my first knee replaced since I didn't want to go into the surgery with absolutely no muscle tone. I was with him through his next 3 kids and my 2 knee replacements, one broken kneecap surgery, bursa problems and my current broken kneecap.

He did so much more for me than just get me up and walking again. He helped my head as well as my body through all those many months, encouraging me and pushing me. Plus we laughed a lot! I've tried to explain to him over the years how he helps people in more ways than he realizes and I think maybe he gets it now.

He just moved to a brand new building (owned by my orthopedic surgeon) and I ran by to see it and him today. Even though the location is new, it's like coming home when I see him. His office is where I met both Tomi and Kathy (new baby Anna's Mom) who are my "girls who gather". I think Jerry still gets a kick out of the fact that we are all still in such close contact.

It's interesting where and how people come into your life and why some stick and some don't. I'm lucky to have all these wonderful people in my life...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Show of Hands

Well, you can tell vacation is over because the jobs are piling up. How can I be behind already???

So one of the reasons I'm behind in my work is that right before vacation, I sent off a big bundle of my jewelry to a new gallery in Denver. The way it came about is the fun part.

I have good friends in Denver and try to get out there as much as I can because these are great women and I miss them! So, there is normally some shopping when we gather and last time we went to the Cherry Creek area of Denver to look around. That's where we found A Show of Hands. By the time I walked out I was carrying bags saying, I want my jewelry in there.

There is something about the shop that is just special. As far as my media, each jeweler has their own case and it's just beautifully laid out and the whole place just feels right. It's not even something I can explain but I wanted to be in there. And because they didn't give up on me actually getting them my work, I can finally say I am there!

But, now it means I have no jewelry and a busy show schedule coming up so it's time to bury myself in the studio once again. Lots of ideas and hopefully lots of wonderful pieces of jewelry coming soon!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pictures






I was told to post vacation pictures. Before you groan, the nice thing about pictures on a blog is you can skip over them or ignore them and no feelings will be hurt! You don't have to listen to a long-winded explanation of what the ripples on the water were like that day. And be glad because I have tons of pictures of rippled water and even more of waves!
The picture of Dick shows how much of the sand/beach has been eroded due to lake levels being up this year. Where the grass is by his head was flat beach last year.
I love Lake Michigan. Each day is different. Wind from the north, the beach shrinks. Wind from the south and the beach grows. The sand gets carved out differently every day. New little stones are uncovered with each changing of the wind. Those little stones may make it into some new jewelry soon...
...once again the spaces between the paragraphs have disappeared. I may have to actually read the instructions...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

So I'm home...

As Pat said, it's good to come home again. As great as vacation was and as much as I wanted just one more week, it is really nice being home. But just because I'm home doesn't mean I'm off vacation yet. Work starts again Monday morning and not before.

So, I've been piddling around doing the little jobs around the house that have been neglected while I've been so busy. Things like putting up a new shower curtain liner which it turns out, is a job I still dislike. Plus I finally came to the conclusion that my bedroom is not going to get painted immediately so I reinstalled Tink's cat napper in the window so she could at least get a little enjoyment before summer is over. It's the little jobs that will get you.

The last of my library books go back tomorrow so I have to try to finish the one I'm reading tonight. No more fun reading for a while so I better go enjoy it! Vacation's over...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What I learned on my summer vacation...

You can improve the almost perfect bliss of time in a hammock with a little push from a friend.

Every vegetable (other than mushrooms) tastes better when stuck on a skewer and grilled.

I will never be a vegetarian as long as Dick is willing to do chicken on the grill.

Cooking is fun on vacation (notice the theme here).

It's worth staying up late every night to watch the unbelievable athletes at the Olympics.

Nobody toasts a marshmallow as well as Dick.

Life is wonderdous without e-mail and the Internet for 2 weeks!

Always make sure you've packed your OXO grabber because you will need it more than you can possibly realize.

Nothing is better on vacation than a big pile of books and all the time you need to read them. Reading in a hammock just makes them even better. Fluff and summer beach books are required fillers as well.

Only read the scary books during the daylight hours.

It's worth taking the cats even if the little one doesn't travel well. Don't ask...

Remember that just because you found your favorite linen pants which have been missing all summer, doesn't mean you can wear them every day of vacation to make up for it. Even though I would have liked to...

Nothing, absolutely nothing restores the body and soul like sunshine, sand, a big body of water and the sound of waves shared with your favorite person.

It was the perfect vacation!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Who knew...

Who knew getting ready for vacation could be so much work! For some reason I feel the need to finish every unfinished project that is sitting around waiting for my attention and all before I leave. The only way that would work is if I stayed home from vacation and spent the next 2 months doing nothing but those projects. Since that's not going to happen, I need to just forget about them and leave. Does anyone ever get to the point where all their projects are either up to date or actually completed???

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Congratulations Elizabeth!

Grand Rapids Community College has hired Elizabeth Gaines as their metals/jewelry instructor, starting with the fall semester! This is the same Elizabeth who currently works one day a week in my studio so there are smiling faces in the studio! I'm so proud of her, so happy for her and thrilled for all her incoming students. They're getting a great teacher and lovely person.

Elizabeth had no warning I was taking her picture. I just sat down and said take off your mask, I need to take your picture for my blog. I didn't even let her look in a mirror to make sure all the buffing compound was off her face. I think it's a great picture! Congratulations Elizabeth!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My new medium

I've found my new medium. It's wood. It's little wooden shapes in 3-D. Lot's of different little shapes. It's like being "a kid in a candy store" looking through all the bins. Wondering what people use them for.

I could have colorful bits of paint under my fingernails instead of black buffing compound ground into my skin. Color could rule my work.

The money I'd save - yippeeee! Bags of parts for a couple of dollars instead of a tiny coil of wire for $600. Want to add something more to a piece? 50 cents instead of $25.

No more having to tell people that the reason my prices have gone up is that the price of the primary component has quadrupled!

Sounds perfect doesn't it. The only problem I can see is that I have no clue what I would do with all these cute little parts. Or what colors I should use. Or what goes together or what even sells!

Since it could take me years to figure out even one of those problems, I've decided to stick with what I know. I know gold...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Countdown to vacation

It's finally in sight. After a VERY long, hard year, I can finally see vacation coming...

If you had told me years ago that my idea of the perfect vacation would become going to the same cottage at the same time every year, I would have said you didn't know me very well. We always took "go somewhere" vacations, going different places every time. Many times they would be road trips, using airplanes or highways to get to the area and then doing the back roads and small towns. Finding all kinds of little gems along the way. Like discovering Michael Hedges "Aerial Boundaries" while driving Highway 1 through the redwoods in California with the top down. Ahhh...

But times have changed and boy, my idea of a vacation sure has! Because I travel so much for work (doing art fairs), I want to relax and do nothing on vacation these days. To me this means a large body of water with waves, a hammock and lots of books (from the library).



We rent a cottage right on Lake Michigan with woods on 3 sides and the lake in front. It's tiny and very much just a cottage. But to us, it's our little slice of heaven. We take the cats and fill the van with all those items I think we might possibly need. When we get there, takes maybe an hour to unload, rearrange the furniture on the deck, set up the hammock and settle in. That's it, we're on vacation.
We grill dinner every night and I nap constantly when I'm supposedly reading (it's the sound of the waves). Dick cleans the beach daily, hauling back bags of trash every day. We walk on the beach during the day, look at more stars then I ever knew existed at night and hope for at least one storm to come across the lake just to see the lightening.
Once I catch up on sleep with all the napping, I start making lists of things I need to do, want to do or dream of doing. The cottage is the perfect place for this kind of thinking because there's no pressure, no expectation. And it doesn't mean I'll actually look at those lists after vacation...

So, it doesn't matter that it's no longer "fiscally responsible" to rent the cottage. I work hard the rest of the year and we deserve it! Hooray for vacations!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pesto anyone?

Two years ago, my neighbor Jean made and froze pesto. I didn't have time to join in the making so Jean gave me some of hers to try and I fell in love. I've always really liked pesto but this was frozen and just so unbelievably fresh tasting. So, the plan was for us to have a pesto production day. It only took 2 years for it to happen. But today was the day.

We were at the Farmer's Market early this morning to get the fresh basil. Luckily we had some choices and we ended up with 2 different varieties. Now anyone who has made pesto knows it's really easy to do so once all the prep was done, it was fast and we were done with our 3 double batches. All that's left is the eating. Tomorrow it's a pesto omelet first thing in the morning!

So now we're on the search for other things to make and freeze, taking advantage of all our great local produce right now. I would love to go into winter with a freezer full of homemade good food. Stouffer's (my lunch staple) might go out of business though...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The little things...

Sometimes the smallest things just make you happy. Today it was cleaning out my van. Boston Mills ArtFest always leaves my van littered with the "kitty litter" and dust from the grounds. Normally it's all cleaned out before we pack up for Ann Arbor but I was too short on time this year so we just packed over it. Then it took me a while to get the van unpacked, longer to feel human and even longer to get enthused about vacuuming, dusting and cleaning in the heat and humidity. But today was it. With Julia's help (a motivating factor), we vacuumed, wiped down every surface, cleaned every window and mirror and made the inside shine. I even finally got rid of the bird poo on the drivers door that nothing seemed to take off (goo gone and muscle finally did it).

No need to wash the outside right now since I have to drive through loose dirt to get to my house due to massive street construction. But I am really enjoying my nice, sparkling clean ride once again. Now I just need the motivation for the inside of my house...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A perfect Saturday

It seems like most of my Saturdays are spent doing art fairs. Now that's not even remotely close to true since I only do 10-12 shows a year but boy it seems like it. Not today! Today was as close to a perfect day as it could be. Spent time at the cabin with my Dad, got a few chores done, watched people fly fishing (and catching) on the river, heard the joyful sounds of people going down the river and simply enjoyed the sunshine and all that nature had to offer. What a perfect Saturday!

Life is good...

Finally by noon on Thursday, I once again felt like myself after Ann Arbor. This year took a lot out of most of us judging by the phone calls I've been getting from friends. Even the guys that normally won't admit to a show being tough have been groaning. Somehow I have a feeling that age is starting to be a factor!


One of the great things about this time of year is that I finally have time to start reconnecting with friends. During my major show season it's really hard since my focus has to go to making a living while I have the chance. Luckily if they're old friends, which most are, they've been through this before with me and understand. So there's lot's of socializing right now.


Then there's my brand new friend. The blog unveiling of Anna (see June 18 blog) at 5 weeks old! I got permission from Kathy to post their picture on my blog so here she is! She's just a little peanut who has grown amazingly in that short time. Hopefully she'll forgive me since this isn't the best picture of her but it was so nice of her Mom, I had to use it! Can't wait to watch her grow up! And no, this is not her first outing. She's a regular at our "girls gatherings"!


Like other fun things that get put aside, I hadn't been to the Farmer's Market yet this year so we were there first thing Friday morning. Being my first trip, I had to buy some of everything and kept having to go back to the car to unload bags. Dick absolutely loves blueberries on his cereal so I got him 15 pounds to freeze for winter use. They're a little later this year but super sweet and it looks like the season will be longer than normal. That's good since I have to clear out some room in the freezer for more berries.


Today it's tree pruning at the cabin. Taking up the fresh corn I got at the market and going to have a feast when the work is done! Again, not something I get to do during the show season so I treasure it more now.


Ann Arbor still isn't totally done for me since I have orders that have been promised for Monday that have to go out. Plus I have to go through all my info and make notes for next year. Things to bring, do and make. These help me tremendously from year to year so I try to always do them.


I've found that I'm not the only one who keeps good notes. Thanks to Jon Hecker (yes, Pat's husband and more), I have fantastic notes and information on a show I'm doing in Cottonwood Texas this fall. My notes are nothing compared to what he's passed along - complete with great driving instructions! Geez, if we all had this available for new shows we do, life would be so much easier! Thank you Jon...


Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Enjoy summer while it's here!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday after Ann Arbor

Wow. I must be getting old! It's the Tuesday after Ann Arbor and by 10 in the morning I was wishing I could just take a little nap. 15-20 minutes would have done wonders but since Julia was working, no nap until later in the day.

Luckily, as I talk to others that did the show this year, I'm not the only one feeling the effects of a long, very hot show. We're all groaning and saying how tired we are. In fact there isn't as much groaning about sales as there is about how rough we feel. We'll have a good laugh about this once we all feel up to it...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ann Arbor Art Fair

Ann Arbor is always my biggest show of the year. It takes the most planning, the most work and the most help in the booth. It's stressful but worth it. It's my favorite show no matter how hard it is to do, but this year was tough.

Michigan has had beautiful weather this spring and summer and finally this year, not too hot. Until the Ann Arbor show came. The days right before the show were still relatively cool with low humidity but on Wednesday, the first day of the show, the heat and humidity hit. For an area not yet used to baking, this was tough. On Thursday it was 96 with high humidity which was almost worse than the temperature.

I would not have gone to the show as a customer in that heat so I offer huge thanks to those who braved the weather for this once a year event. It was miserable. Add to that a really lousy economy in the area and it doesn't add up to many artists being happy with their sales. We all knew going into the show that it probably wouldn't be a normal Ann Arbor and I don't think it was for many people. I have to commend my fellow exhibitors though for keeping a positive outlook during both the heat and the slow times.

This is my chance to brag. I won second place in the show! Not in the jewelry category but in the whole show, against all the other "real artists". Since my pet peeve is that judges rarely get close enough to the jewelry to even tell what it is, it was pretty special for me. Of course, I had to take a picture of the ribbon which very nicely went with the color scheme of my booth...

My show went fine when you take into consideration all the factors that went into it. I'm extremely glad that it's over, we all lived through it and I don't have another show until September 6 when I go to Penrod in Indianapolis. Yippee!!! Until then I'm going to spend some time napping...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Updates

Okay, when last I was here, it was still before Ann Arbor and things were a little bleak. Sunday was a better work day than Saturday but it was also the day I discovered that I got a bad batch of white gold and every single piece had cracked. Unfortunately I normally don't discover this until the pieces are on their final polish. It was too late to order more gold so I went into the show very light on white gold, which is really hot right now...

I took my laptop to Ann Arbor with me so I could do updates on my blog but...didn't bring my password to get into the software. Duh! So, no daily updates.

Tomorrow will be my Ann Arbor report. I think I need my brain fully functional and am hoping that by then it will work. There's lots to tell!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just go back to bed...

There are some days you should just give up and go back to bed. This was one of them. Just when things are going smoothly and you're cranking along, one of "those" days hits you. I'm thinking positive thoughts about tomorrow...

Before Ann Arbor...and after

I was describing to a friend today what it used to be like doing the Ann Arbor art fair. Little tiny booths meant needing to change clothes partway through the day due to the heat. Every outfit needed ironing so a big part of getting ready for the show involved my wardrobe. Now the booths are bigger, the hotel too far away to get to and the clothes don't need ironing! Much easier.

It's also much calmer getting ready for the show this year. I'm working hard but this time knowing that I'll get done what I can and it will be fine. I can't have everything or do everything. I'll do my best and that will be enough. Geez, this doesn't even sound like me!

I will admit though to relishing the days following July 21 when my "8 weeks of hell" are over. Everyone is waiting for me to do something for them, finish something, start something or just show up. And it all happens after July 21.

The first Saturday I'm already planning a trip to the Farmer's Market to buy fresh fruit and veggies. It's blueberry season here and I need to start freezing berries for Dick's cereal next winter. Before that I've promised my Dad that I'll work on and finish his finances. He's been pretty patient but only because I gave him a firm date so I can't fail him. I need to feed my tomato plants and at least inspect my entire yard and gardens. I don't even know if my zinnia's are growing.

Real life gets pushed aside during the rush of major art fair season. I miss it more than I can even explain but this year a little more has been let in. Which may be why getting ready for Ann Arbor is calmer this year. I just know I'm enjoying it...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Boston Mills ArtFest


I've just returned from Boston Mills ArtFest where, thanks to both good friends and wonderful customers, I had a GREAT time! It was like the old days when shows weren't as serious, the money wasn't as needed and we were all a lot younger and could party more.

So, first I have to show off my homage to Pat Hecker. Please notice in my booth shot, the red egg shapes on the tops of the booth. These are covering pegs that I thought should be covered with red balls, just for fun. Then I saw my favorite leg/foot shape that Pat uses in her Tattoo Dreams line. So this is my homage to Pat and her work. The fun part was that people noticed them and grinned! What more can you ask for?
The other thing I have to give Pat (and Jon) credit for is my new love of frozen strawberry margaritas. I have yet to decide if this is a good thing or not but it sure was fun!
So the weather was the best Boston Mills weather ever. The humidity was down as well as the temperature and the rain stopped 30 minutes before the big opening party. That alone made the show great since the show is known for hot and humid weather. I can't remember the last time I didn't spend the bulk of my time with sweat rolling down my body. Lovely sight while selling jewelry of course.
Another "blast from the past" that happened at the show was that my sister and her family stopped to see me on their way back to Maryland from our Dad's cabin in Michigan. Kare used to help me with art fairs back 25 years ago. I got to show off my favorite nephew and my sister saved me in the booth when I got slammed with customers. Just like the old days again. I love having her at shows with me. Good sister time.
I came home tired but happy with a big grin on my face. Had to stop part way home to take a nap in a rest area but it was worth it. A fun and profitable time was had. I love the Boston Mills ArtFest.

side note: I can't get the formatting to work on this one so please excuse the running together of paragraphs. I've spent too much time trying to fix it and I'm giving up!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Buried in the studio

I've not given up blogging, I'm just buried in the studio. Busy time trying to get my wholesale orders out as well as make stock for my two biggest shows. So this would probably not be the best time to start experimenting with totally new ideas but as always, it's when I'm feeling the most creative.

Today 2 rings were "born". I made the tops and Elizabeth made the bands. Since it's been probably 15 years since I made a ring, this is a big deal. Back then I was known for my rings and they were high end gold with asymmetrical faceted stones, all one-of-a-kind and pretty darn wonderful. Very labor intensive and I finally just burned out on them.

My new rings are totally different. Not meant to be worn every day, they are fun. Sterling and 22k gold, one with a stone and one with a pearl. Layered with dimension. Simple, unfussy designs. There will be pictures coming soon. These are fun to make so now I have to see if anyone else likes them! It may be one of those naked moments but then again, I love them enough that I'm not as concerned about what others think... yeah, right.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ruby arrives!

Oh glorious day, Ruby has arrived! A little peanut at 5 pounds, 15 ounces with tons of hair and absolutely beautiful. I've never seen a man grin and glow as much as her father did this morning. And Mom looks as beautiful as she does happy, marveling at her little girl. All is right with the world today! Now I just have to get used to whatever her real name will be. She'll always be Ruby to me... Later the same day... her name is Anna. It fits her beautifully!

Monday, June 16, 2008

One more show and things move on

I'm now well into my "eight weeks of hell" as I lovingly call it and am finding that it needs renaming. I absolutely love this time of year and the pressure it brings. My work gets a little freer and I have more ideas than I have time to make things. Plus there is an end to it. I love this time of year!

So I had one more show this past weekend. Another new one which I hadn't tried before and as delightful as it was to do, I don't think I would do it again. Buy/sell items and filled with low end jewelry means there will be sticker shock in my booth. Sunday only one person wanted to actually see something in my booth and he was more interested in the back and if that was really my signature! It's so hard to know before actually doing the show if it's going to be a good fit or not. This was not. Live and learn.

Friday, June 6, 2008

One more idea junked

It sounded like a great idea. Take a picture of your bench every Thursday and it will tell a story. Only this week it didn't look like my life had moved forward at all. There was more white space but all it did was remind me of all the things I have started but not finished. My eight weeks of hell is not a good time to try something like that. Maybe after. Right now I have to make cool new jewelry...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Story of a microwave


I tend to feel things passionately, I'll admit. I love lots of people and things deeply. There aren't many things I hate but it's with the same passion although it's usually short-lived. I hate my new microwave...

My microwave was a few years old but just did things really well and we were very comfortable together. And then the display lost a couple of lines. Which meant you really didn't know the correct time of day or how much time was left when microwaving. I decided it was time for a new one so started the search.

The first thing I discovered was that microwaves seem to have grown considerably in size. And decreased in power. Most had too many bells and whistles. Finally I found one that worked and wasn't too bad. Brought it home, set it up and started hating it. Shiny stainless inside - big mistake. Can't see in the window when it's on, probably because it's too shiny inside! It's just clunky. Plus it doesn't cook evenly. I don't like anything about it. I hate it. But I'm stuck with it.

Wandering through Home Depot yesterday (can't just get in and out there) I walked by a huge display of microwaves. Something called to me and I had to just look. And there she was. This cute little silver microwave. Since my current microwave is only 3 months old, I'm not in the market but decide to read the book on this one - just for fun. Hum, same wattage as the hated one. Looks smaller. It's much cuter. AND it's only 79.99!!! Which is a whole lot less than what I paid for hated one. She's meant to be mine. I can find someone to take the hated one I'm sure...

Turns out they don't have any more of the cute microwave. Only the display one which they won't sell me. Of course they did sell it in the end. She was meant to go home with me. She looks so cute in the hated ones space! Okay, so she has a funny rattle when she's on but she cooks better and doesn't spend that much time on so I can live with that part.

My original microwave that started this whole process ended up in the studio where it does a beautiful job reheating cold coffee and frozen lunches. But that's not quite the end. Today the display on the that microwave decided to work perfectly again...



Thursday, May 29, 2008

The truth about my bench...


Time to come clean. Or maybe it's just time to clean. Either way, I'm showing a picture of what my workbench looks like on Thursdays. I'm aiming for every Thursday, a new view. Someone mentioned that they had read about someone doing this so I'm borrowing the idea. My hope is that maybe I'll pick up my bench every Wednesday but maybe not. I seem to work better with tons of little projects all cluttering up my workspace. It makes no sense and it certainly doesn't work with my desk. With that, I need the surface cleared off if I want to make real progress. Obviously my bench doesn't need to be clear or I'd never get anything done!
On your tour, the pretty blue trays hold small pieces and parts in 50 little bins. I was so thrilled when I found these since I'm a sucker for organizational "tools". My Dad built me a couple of wood racks to hold them so they don't take up too much space but I can have multiples close at hand. If you notice, they are actually labeled as of a couple of weeks ago. Part of my constant plan to stay organized.
The rather ugly brown rectangular trays were also a huge boon for organizing. Jean found them at the Bemis outlet store in Sheboygan Wisconsin where they make them for hospital food trays! I can put all the pieces for a project on one tray and keep them together. Don't like the color but I love those trays. Luckily she got a lot of them since I'm constantly filling them up.
The last tour item is the white bin in the front left. Because my background is from the dental profession, many of my things are dental. These are normally dental lab pans but for me they are perfect for my wholesale orders. As the pieces get done, they go in the bin. Normally they aren't in this area which is the dirty side of the studio. They live on the clean side.
I'll be curious if doing this makes me clear off my bench. It should! Anyone can see by looking at this picture that there is no way someone can get any work done there. Who am I kidding!!!