Friday, October 31, 2008


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...