Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cancer Free!

At this time last year I was dealing with breast cancer. I had what I'm lovingly calling "cancer light" but still not anything I really want to do again. Just had my first "after" mammogram and it came back clean and clear!

Thanks to early detection, great family and friends, a great surgeon, a great radiologist using new treatments and some really nasty drugs, I'm cancer free. And grateful...

Time to get back to the other parts of life, like making wonderful new jewelry. Lot's of ideas, lots of work to do...


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Computer transition...

The transition to a new computer has been way more time consuming than I ever expected. My old computer with its hiccup is really, really slow when doing anything, but especially when copying files. I don't want to do a mass transfer so it's been a slow process. I have a huge amount of "important" things on my computer that I probably can't live without so I'm being very methodical in doing this. Thus the huge amount of time.

Once it's done, I'll be blogging regularly again. I'm planning some great new jewelry so I'm also excited about getting back into the studio again. I'll add pictures as the pieces get done.

Okay, my thought is that if I say it here, I'll have to follow through. Check back and see if I have...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Catching up on my thanks...

I'm sitting in my living room, typing on my laptop because my desktop crashed a couple days ago. It makes me very thankful that I use a backup system so at least all my data is safe and secure. I'm also thankful that it crashed while I was on the phone customizing a new computer which had been planned for a while. Can't afford it but also can't run my businesses without it so, it will be ordered today. I'm giving thanks for my laptop...

I'm so grateful to be home again after a very long stretch of shows. I came home safe and healthy. The bone deep tiredness will go away... My shows were fun with great times spent with friends for which I am so grateful. Sales weren't what I had hoped for but the deep in the soul parts were much more important and they were GOOD!

I'm grateful that I dearly love Mexican food! I have eaten at a huge number of Mexican restaurants over the last few months and have eaten some great food with great people. Now it's on to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Seven Mares, here in Grand Rapids. May have lunch there today since it's been a few days since my last Mexican meal! I'm grateful that they have been able to stay open in these rough times.

I'm grateful that anyone even reads what I'm typing here. I really enjoy doing this and would continue even if no one ever read what I wrote but it's extra nice when someone tells me that they read it and enjoy my meandering on. I'm not a writer (in case you couldn't tell!!!) and this is just done off the cuff so it's like listening to me talk! Which I tend to do a lot of.

I am so grateful every time someone walks up to my booth wearing something I've made!!! That just makes my heart sing. At my last show in Madison, a woman walked up wearing my earrings which her husband had purchased for her at a gallery in Texas. It was so nice meeting her!

My doorbell just rang and there was a package for me. I'm extremely grateful for having Pat and Jon in my life and the bagels and cookies they just sent!!! So now I need to wrap this up and go have a GREAT bagel!

This has been a rough year so my heartfelt thanks to family, friends and customers who have stuck with me though it all. I love you all and here's to a great 2010!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I knew I was behind on blogging but boy, it's really bad when you log in and find it's been exactly a month since your last blog! It's not that I ran out of things to talk about since that will never happen, but I've been on the road doing shows all over the country and I'm pooped!

My plan is to catch up with pictures and stories next week so please check back...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bethesda Row Arts Festival

I'm scheduled to do the Bethesda Row Arts Festival this weekend in Bethesda Maryland. Really been looking forward to this show for lots of reasons. Sister time since Kare was coming down to help me with the show. My favorite nephew (who is now so much taller than I am...big sigh) and my brother-in-law were also going to visit which would be a great warm fuzzy. And let us not forget Maryland crab cakes!!! Plus I've not shown my work in this area recently so I have totally new work to show!

And then comes the weather forecast. In the 40's with rain all weekend. I can handle the cold (reluctantly) and I can handle the rain but the two together is really, really tough. It just sounds bone chilling. Plus set-up for the show is early Saturday morning which sounds even colder.

For the first time, Michael (we were going in the same van) was the one who said he didn't want to go. I was actually relieved since I wouldn't have suggested canceling but I really didn't want to face that cold, wet weather. I was willing to go if he wanted to and he said he would go if I wanted to but he really wasn't looking forward to it.

We're not going to Bethesda Row. Not a decision made lightly but made more out of necessity. We both have heavy schedules coming up and can't afford any down time getting sick. We both have orders to get out so we can use the time productively. I'm feeling warmer already...

So no warm fuzzy family time. No crab cakes. No trying out this work in a new market but hopefully I'll get into the show next year because I'd love to do it!

Friday, October 9, 2009


I love this show but it just didn't work for me this year. Had lots of fun, got to see my friend Marilyn O'Hara who's a great jewelry photographer. Also got to see Needfire, a great Celtic Rock band who I really enjoy!

First saw them at Woodlands Waterway in April so I was excited to see they were playing at Cottonwood in May. They were rained out... But luckily they were also scheduled for the October Cottonwood show. My booth was very close so I snuck away to watch. There's something about men in kilts, jumping around playing Celtic rock. Then add a didgeridoo to the mix. Wow! Do Pat and I look happy???

It's a long drive from Michigan to Texas and I'm gone for 6.5 days. It's hard to justify if the sales aren't there, which they weren't this year. It's a fun show and I really enjoy Texas and the people there but will probably take a break from this wonderful show. Unless I win the lottery and have money to play with!

Catching up in pictures

Funky Ferndale deserves it's own pictures...

Jon Hecker was next to me with the Tattoo Dreams booth so there are a couple shots of his booth. Notice the great hanging beads that Pat's now doing! Becka Strachan got a customized Tattoo Dreams table and looks pretty happy!

Then there's a picture of the space behind my booth at the show. This fit with the whole theme of the show perfectly!

My favorite - the balloon man was making balloon collars for all the big dogs...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm not funky...

It's now for certain. According to the Funky Ferndale show, I'm no longer in the "funky" group.

Had great fun at the show with Jon Hecker in the booth next door (Pat was home very sick), showing their Tattoo Dreams. And the people watching was fantastic! But I felt either old or just out of my element. My work didn't fit into the show or the people there. But it was FUN!!!

Next up for me is the wonderful Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson Texas, a suburb of Dallas. This is a relatively new show for me and I absolutely love it! Everyone is so very nice plus people actually like my jewelry!!! And I get to see the great jewelry photographer, Marilyn O'Hara!

It's all good...even if I'm no longer funky...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can I be funky?

I leave in a little while for the Funky Ferndale Art Show and I'm wondering if I'm even the least bit funky anymore. As I've been sitting in the studio making new things for the show, I realize that right now my work is more zen than funk.

So when did my work change and mellow out? All my life changes and everything that happens is reflected in what I make. For me with the world so chaotic, my work is coming out more calm and peaceful. Feels right to me!

All I can hope for this weekend is that in and amongst all the funky work in Ferndale, people will be drawn to a little sea of calm...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cheap Advertising

I don't understand why art fairs don't have lists of their artists and links to their websites available for the public at least 2 months before their shows. This is the cheapest form of advertising I can think of yet so many shows don't take advantage of it!

As a customer, I go to the art fair's website first and see if there is anything there that interests me. I love discovering new artists or new work by old favorites and then I can't wait for the show. I cannot understand why shows don't have that information available and do it months before the show. Yes, there will be cancellations and changes before the actual show and no, I don't expect it to be constantly updated but what's so tough here???

It's cheap advertising and I think as artists, we should demand it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I have found my true calling...

I want to be an art fair roadie! This past weekend I did just that when I went to Fourth Street Festival in Bloomington IN with Michael as his roadie. Now my motives weren't pure since the Hecker's live there and were showing their Tattoo Dreams work in the booth next door. I was seeing social time ahead. And there was!

As a roadie there's no stress before the show. Nothing to get ready, nothing to make, nothing to worry about. Pack up your clothes and go. No maps to print, no show info to read, no wondering if you're on grass or pavement or if it's going to rain. None of that. Just sit in the seat and ride! Stop for gas and someone else pays for it. Oh, this is sweet!!!

Setup was pretty easy since again, I had no worries. I got to move Michael's work around the way I liked it even though he moved some things back. I didn't sweat the parking situation, even though it was perfect there. Pat and Jon knew all the greatest places to eat so we ate really well and I could even eat garlic, which I love. If I had a booth I'd be way too close to people to get away with garlic breath but not in Michael's.

I made the first sale in the booth on Saturday which was fun. Later in the day, Pat needed a booth break so we left the guys in charge of both booths and we went to catch up in Starbucks, only coming back 2 hours later because they called us. We had lots to catch up on!

The show does people counts once and hour and I volunteered for a shift each day which was great fun since it was new to me. So if you read their estimates of attendance, they should be more accurate than most. I did some booth sitting for friends that were by themselves since I know how much I appreciate it when people do it for me.

Oh, the freedom I had was wonderful! I could somewhat come and go. Drank lots of coffee and met wonderful people at the show. Got very wet walking around on Sunday when I actually got to see the show. That never happens when I have my own booth...

So I've now found my true calling. I just have to find people to actually pay me to do it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I've never been one of those people for whom a vacation means travel to faraway lands. My idea of a great vacation has always been seeing interesting places, meeting interesting people and enjoying a new experience wherever that may be. Now, because I'm doing so much traveling for shows, the entire word "vacation" has taken on a new meaning.

Vacation now means a hammock at our favorite little rented cottage on the beaches of Lake Michigan. Up on a bluff, right on the lake, with woods all around and very few people seen. Ah, perfection.

I'm now home from the most needed vacation that I can ever remember, ready to get back in the studio! I have a HUGE group of shows coming up, the most I've ever done in a short amount of time and I need to be well stocked so that no one is short-changed in selection because I didn't get enough done. I feel refreshed, revived and have tons of ideas of new pieces I want to make.

It's now 50 weeks before I'm back in that hammock, listening to the waves crash on the beach, napping and reading good books. I have a lot to get done before that...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On vacation...

Getting ready for vacation this year took more last minute work than normal because I got home from a show just days before. But of course we made it since NOTHING gets in the way of vacation.

So my next post will be AFTER vacation when I don't have to sit in Biggby's, my favorite coffee shop with music seemingly blasting into my ear that has swimmers ear. Oh pain...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scheduling Art Fairs

For me the Ann Arbor Art Fairs in July have always signaled the end of summer. My next show is normally in September so I take August to regroup, restock and take a vacation. I've always wondered how people turned right around after Ann Arbor and did another show. This year, I'm going to find out. Okay it's not really right after Ann Arbor but it is close. I'm doing the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis Aug 7-9 before I get a vacation.

If you like control over your work schedule, this isn't the life for you. You can apply to dozens of juried art fairs and get into none, all or somewhere in between. Okay, I've never gotten into everything I've applied to but I can dream big!

Sometimes your schedule just works out beautifully with close shows back to back and other times you're criss crossing the country, which is going to be my fall schedule. Michigan, Texas, Maryland, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio. It would be nice if I went right from Tennessee to Florida but there's a week in between.

This works really well for anyone who likes road trips, which I do but I've never done this much traveling in such a short time. 5 shows in 7 weeks means instead of typing this, I need to be in the studio! Back to work...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Best in Show!

Boy, it's not often I get a chance to talk about something that kept a grin on my face for days, but this did. My jewelry won "Best in Show" at the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair on State Street! My first "Best in Show" ever! That award is usually won by fabulous painters or glass blowers, not jewelers.

The fun started early since I wasn't in my booth when they came to give me the award. I had chosen that time to walk around and see some of the show for myself. I got back and started telling Shoaleh what I had seen. What I didn't notice, for quite a while in fact, was that she was wearing this big blue ribbon across her chest! Yes, I did finally notice.

Then came the fun of deciding where to put the ribbon. My initial idea of wearing it as a necklace was quickly vetoed and the ribbon spent it's days moving around the booth. A list of the winners was written up in the local newspaper on Friday so that started the people coming and looking for who won the awards. Not sure it helped sales but it definitely helped keep me grinning!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair is next week!

YIKES! What a thought! I worked so hard getting ready for the Boston Mills ArtFest and had so much fun there that it's hard to get back in gear for my biggest show of the year, the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair!

But in the midst of at least thinking about getting in the studio to make new things, I took a day off to "play" with my nephew Tommy. I only get to see him a couple times a year since he lives in Maryland and it's not enough so I grabbed this chance at some one on one time with my favorite kid (not sure that at 5'10" and almost 16 I can still call him that). By the end of the day, between he and Dick, I had one of the best days of my life. It was nothing big but just a lot of little things, lots of warm fuzzies that made me totally forget about work.

But I'm back in work mode today. Starting my lists of what needs to be done so I can prioritize and make sure everything gets done. I love lists and would be lost without them. I have pictures from the front and back of my booth last year since it worked really well for me and I want to repeat it. This picture is my booth last year with Nancy Martin working away inside. I have more cases than at any other show so I need to get working to fill them!

This is the year to come back to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs! If you haven't been in a while, come back and see what you've been missing! Park at Briarwood Mall and take the shuttle in for the easiest Ann Arbor experience.

I'm booth #27 on State Street right in front of Angell Hall. I'll be the tired looking one with a smile on my face because I'm at my favorite show of the year!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Buried in the studio

So, I'm feeling guilty about not blogging but I've truly been buried in the studio. My next two shows, Boston Mills ArtFest and the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair are the two biggest shows of my year and I need to be ready.

I have these blue trays with 50 compartments and my goal was to fill one tray completely by tomorrow morning. Not sure I'll make it but I definitely won't if I spend time on the computer.

I can no longer put in the really long hours that I used to in getting ready for a show. Everything objects from my body to my brain! I can be in the studio but I won't be accomplishing anything so my thinking is that I might as well get some much needed sleep instead. Better than burning off my eyelashes!

So, off to the studio...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bonnie "Sue" Blandford 1929-2007

Today is the second anniversary of my Mom's death. I still think of her and miss her every day and I think that will always continue. She was a huge part of my life, not always in the forefront but always there.

We talked on the phone at least once a day, sometimes many more times for silly reasons. How to cook something, what bird did I see, I'm bored (that was me), should I or shouldn't I or please just talk some sense into me. Didn't always like the answers I got from some of my questions but knew she would be straight with me.

She set the bar really high for women in general as she broke the glass ceiling over and over, making it easier for those who came after her. I'll never come close to all she accomplished but I know that's okay. She set amazing goals for herself but never forced the same on her daughters. She was proud of what both of us have accomplished and didn't measure us by what she did.

Love this picture of my parents! Once Mom retired, her suits were traded for khaki pants and her Ferragamo's for good walking shoes. This is how I'll always remember her with Dad.

I found this quote (author unknown) that I thought fit her so perfectly, she laughed and hung it next to her desk.

"Life is not a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely,
in one pretty and well preserved piece,
but to skid across the line broadside,
thoroughly used up, worn out,
shouting GERONIMO!"

We think she accomplished that...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Booth Drama

I have a booth dilemma. The "bottoms" of my cases need remaking. The taupe looking color was first but didn't last long. Then came the gold, thinking it was the color of my high karat gold and would pop. People would notice me! With the taupe, I feel like I blended into the street or into the background and didn't make a statement.

So I found some lovely fabric which meets all my needs but I need something to use until I feel like I can afford 20 yards of the new one. So I'm back to the gold, brand new but the same fabric and color. I can hear the screams from a certain friend already. She doesn't like the gold...

So when you see me at the next few shows, I'm back to the gold. You can't miss me!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Art fairs are tough!

Just back from the easiest art fair of my entire year, the Kalamazoo Art Fair. It's one day, you set up in the morning, ready to go by 9am. It's only an hour from home and because Dick went with me, I was home again by 6:30pm. I get to take my easy canopy so instead of a hour putting up the canopy, it's minutes. My van is right next to my booth for both setup and take-down. It all couldn't be easier. Plus, I had help which I normally don't.

So why do I still feel (and look) like I've been hit by a truck???

Art fairs are just getting tougher! This time I'm blaming it on age. I started doing shows when I was 23 and back then we would go out at night for a late dinner with friends and have no problem being perky at 6 am to go back to the show. Now all I want is my jammies and an air conditioned hotel room!

This is my second show of three in a row which is something I normally try not to do. But these aren't normal times and I need to do more shows than I used to. It would be fine if I didn't have to work like crazy between the shows but working 7 days a week has been the norm for many years as it is for most people who make their living selling their handmade work at art fairs.

So if you catch me yawning at an art fair, know that it's not because I've been out partying the night before. It's because this is just becoming harder to do as the years go on. But I'm not stopping...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Renaissance Art Festival

Just back from the brand new Renaissance Art Festival in Ridgeland Mississippi where it was HOT! This northern girl wasn't prepared for 90+ degree temperatures (it's 65 here right now). Whew, I was ready for the air conditioned hotel room!

The other thing I wasn't prepared for was how wonderful Southern hospitality can be! Everyone involved with the show was so happy we were there and so welcoming. We heard over and over from the public how pleased they were to find all the great quality work. One woman stood outside my booth calling her friends telling them they just had to come to the show. That it was all museum quality work for sale! That gave me a big grin!

So on top of a lovely show was the fun of seeing good friends and getting to be right next to Pat and Jon Hecker. That upped the fun factor greatly! The time spent outside the show hours is just as important as what happens during the show for me. We tend to lead rather solitary lives in our studios so a good part of shows is the social aspect. This show was a great one for reconnecting with friends and catching up on the news.

Thanks to H. C. (Chris) Porter, Robert McFarland and everyone else involved in putting on this wonderful, first year event. You did a great job! I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dirt under my fingernails...

I'm finally over my horror of using old kitty litter containers for my tomato plants this year. After having priced more of the big terracotta pots, I decided that this was the year to recycle all the good litter containers I've been saving. They may look funny but they're turning out to be quite practical. Love the handles while the plants are little.

My yard doesn't get enough sun due to my over planting of trees over the years so I have one little spot off the driveway that works perfectly for growing veggies in pots. This year it's tomatoes in several varieties, Poblano and Anaheim peppers and then some green and red peppers. Last year I froze a ton of peppers and really enjoyed having them available during the winter so I'm trying more this year.

The picture below is hopeful. One lone bud on my poppy plant. Normally it blooms before Mother's Day and then we have a big rainstorm that weekend and it gets beat up. Not this year. And I have hope that I'll still see a beautiful bloom!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Needing good news

I need good news. I don't want to hear how hard it is out there, many of us are already living with that. What I do for a living is not life sustaining for anyone! No one NEEDS jewelry for their existence. The problem is that it IS life sustaining for me. Making it helps get me out of bed in the morning, pays my mortgage and feeds my cats. It's not just a "job", it's a huge part of who I am and I'm afraid of losing it.

So, I want good news. Little or big, I'm searching for more good news...

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is when I wish I was an eloquent writer of beautiful prose because this is Baxter, a member of the Hecker family and my nephew. He was only in their lives for 7 months but will be in their hearts forever. As Pat described him, he had short legs, hadn't grown into his ears yet and he ran like a puppy! It was love at first sight, on both sides when he first ran into their lives.

There were always great Baxter stories and hopefully the memories will bring some comfort to his family but for right now, it just hurts. And frankly, it doesn't seem fair.

Baxter brought a great amount of love into numerous lives in a short amount of time. He'll always be remembered with a smile and a story...RIP Baxter...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Everyone's at a show!

At least that's what it feels like! I've talked to people at 3 different shows around the country today which makes me feel like I didn't get asked to the prom!

I did get accepted to a show this weekend but declined the invite because it would make 4 shows in one month which is just too many for me. So why do I feel like I'm missing all the fun???

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

62% Price Increase and Hotel horrors!

In these times when we're all trying to cut our expenses both in making our work and the expenses to do art fairs, in the hope that we'll be able to keep our work affordable, I was just notified of CheckInn card's decision to raise their nightly fee by 62%!!! Actually, I wasn't notified at all. I discovered that my bill was bigger than I expected and then I contacted them.

They are a reseller of low end hotel rooms that I've been using for a few months, trying to save money on travel. The way they make their money is to charge a fee for every night you use their discounted hotel room rates. Perfectly good system which I've enjoyed using, even though some of the hotels have been a little sketchy to say the least! But raising the fees by 62% in these times is ridiculous!!!

The last hotel I stayed in with them was a Red Roof Inn in St. Louis MO. I don't normally take pictures of the hotel furniture but these chairs were so gross, I felt like I needed to document them. The hotel wasn't cheap to begin with and now to find out I have to pay even more than I expected, well, I'm not happy.

Plus this is proof that just because I love the Red Roof Inn in Troy MI, does not mean I'll love all locations. And this room cost almost twice as much... And that's with using the CheckInn card vs. reserving online for the Troy location.

Boo hiss...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cancelling an art fair...

It doesn't happen often, in fact almost never, but occasionally I've had to cancel an art fair that I've planned on doing. That's what happened this weekend. So I won't be at Art Birmingham, formerly the Birmingham Fine Art Festival in Birmingham Michigan.

Today would have been set-up day and the weather is absolutely beautiful. Perfect for an art fair. Tomorrow there's a possibility of some rain but it wouldn't be Michigan in the spring without that. Sunday looks lovely for an art fair.

Here's hoping that the show turns out wonderfully for the artists and customers alike. I'll miss being there...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cottonwood Art Festival

The show in pictures! The rains luckily came straight down, hard but without wind for which we were VERY lucky! The water was streaming through the park in rivers, becoming ankle deep in my booth. Michael was a trooper, getting soaked but helping me tremendously. The show was closed about 3:30 on Saturday which I really appreciated since being under my canopy with the water rising isn't my idea of a fun day.

My friend Marilyn O'Hara deserves an award for even being willing to come visit considering the weather that was coming. She stayed through the mess and helped take out the jewelry for me. Her sandals may never be the same...

When we originally set up for the show I noticed a semi-trailer full of straw in the parking lot. On Sunday morning I discovered why it was there. The show supplied us with all the straw we needed to make the show area and our booths functional again! They were well prepared which meant that the show continued on Sunday but with a new look underfoot!

Now comes the weird part. I still had fun! I really enjoy Texas art fairs and it's because I find the people to just be really nice. Add to that a wonderful artist party on Friday night, lots of good friends at the show, great times outside of the show, and it all adds up to a positive experience, even with the rain and the flu problems in the area. A side note - the show used one of my images (a ring) on their website and I was surprised how many people mentioned seeing it!

Please let this be the worst weather we all encounter at shows this year! If everything else is going to be tough, at least give us good weather!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What to make

This weekend has been spent in the studio working toward my next show which is the Cottonwood Art Festival and I'm having trouble deciding what to make. When this happens, I look back at last year to see what sold to give me some help. What were people were the most interested in.

The "All Cracked Up" series with the 22k highly textured, both shiny and matte?

The colored pieces with 22k gold?

Or the chopped gold, like my chopstick earrings?

Or my newest and what I love to make, my 22k gold and blackened sterling with a bamboo leaf pattern? Guess I've answered my own question. I'm making what makes me happiest today (that may change tomorrow) because my love for the pieces shows in the end result.

Friday, April 24, 2009


One of the forums I read asked why people blog which got me thinking. When I started blogging it was to share what it was like to make a living by doing art fairs. I was going to talk about what it was really like behind the scenes of doing art fairs since people seem to think we travel a circuit in "big packs" and sleep in our vans! FYI, we don't...

What I discovered is that making your living this way means that absolutely everything that goes on in your life, ends up being part of the story. Which means it ends up here. Because it's all a part of what I do and how I do it.

I'm not a writer and I can't even pretend to be. I don't go back over what I've written and fine tune it since I can't try to be something I'm not and I really have no interest in that kind of blogging. For me I want to type what I'm thinking once and be done. I'll try to correct spelling errors but no guarantees of that either.

Hopefully in the next few months real life will calm down and my blogs will be about all the wonderful work I'm making, all the great shows I'm doing and all the wonderful people I've met along the way. Here's to being able to make a living doing what I love!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still cold...

I've spent hours online reading everything I can on furnaces. Most of them just repeat the same information and they all have their opinions on the best brands but then the next person says it's the worst. How can I be expected to make a decision with so little solid information? Especially since it's a huge (in my world) amount of money to spend, especially during tough times. Ugg.

The decision will come today and then I'll move on to making all kinds of wonderful new things for my Cottonwood show in Richardson Texas next week. It will be warm down there...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A new appreciation for heat...

It's cold in my house. It's 37 outside and 50 something inside and I'm totally bundled up. Four months ago my furnace passed it's annual check-up with flying colors. Last Wednesday the furnace man shut it down due to two dangerous cracks in the heat exchanger. The "salesman" came on Wednesday to talk about a new furnace but I had to leave for a show on Thursday so nothing happened over the weekend.

I was shocked at what it was going to cost to replace my furnace. The good news is that there is currently a 30% tax credit for replacing furnaces with high-efficiency models.

Right now, all I care about is that I'm cold, all the way through. But the weather forecast is for 80 degrees on Friday. I'll probably be complaining about sweating on Friday but right now, I don't think so...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to use your artwork...

You just never know where your artwork will end up or how it will be used. This is an unglazed Michael Kifer reject from the Garage Sale Art Fair many years ago. It's been outside year round and hasn't had it's spring scrubbing yet.

But Jet doesn't care. He's the newest addition to our "outdoor crew". He wandered into the yard where he quickly discovered that not only were there cute little girl cats (fixed, semi-feral) that would follow him around but also food and water. He's quite a talker and loves being petted so obviously he was someones beloved pet at some point. Now, he's a "streeter" who's a really sweetie. And he loves Michael's pot...

Great Lakes Art Fair - third day

Beautiful show at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi! The first image is what you see when you walk into the facility. Beautiful walkway. The first booth you see is Jerry Berta with his clay and neon. What a fun way to start a show.

Had to add a picture of Connie Mettler and Blair Bowman (he owns the facility and has been GREAT to work with). They are a winning combination and will make this into a great show.

There will be another show in October where we won't be competing with the highway being closed and the first beautiful weekend of spring! Here's to a new beautiful art fair in Michigan!

As the year goes on, please remember the importance of art in your daily life. Please support those artists who are out there making their living bringing you affordable art to feed your soul. We need each other right now! Please shop at your local art fairs!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great Lakes Art Fair

This is my booth at the Great Lakes Art Fair with my new black bottoms. It makes the booth kind of dark but I'm asking all my friends for their opinions. This isn't a good picture. So Pat, what do you think, since this was your idea???

It's so much fun doing an indoor show and this one has all kinds of other things going on as well. Massages are available which at the moment, sound like heaven! There's a martini bar and frozen vodka. Might make doing a show a bit tough but both sound like fun!

The people running the show are wonderful and I'm really happy to be here. Day one is almost done and then the party with music by George Benson. Can't possibly be the real one can it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Woodlands Waterway Art Festival

What a beautiful location for an art fair. My booth backed up to the water canals where they were doing water taxi rides for $1. Really wanted to take the ride but needed to work instead!

Even better than that was I was in a row with Jon and Patricia Hecker and Michael. Jon and Pat thought it would be a good thing if they were the booth between Michael and I since we were in the same van for the 25 hour ride. I'm sure they were right!

One thing about doing art fairs outdoors that always worries me is wind. I've lost one canopy to a microburst in Charlotte NC and tore up another in Detroit so I know what can happen even when you do everything right. This was a VERY windy show! But as great as Jon and Pat are as next door neighbors, I appreciated Jon's ratchet strap skills and being physically attached to their booth almost as much. I didn't worry at all about the wind because my booth was not going to move! I can't say the same for my cases...

Pat was sitting in my booth so I could run to the restroom and she said something like "what happens if a case goes over?". I kind of laughed and told her to stuff the jewelry in her pockets and then I took off. Right after I left, my biggest case went over in the wind. This has never happened before but luckily Pat was right there to rescue my work. Also lucky was that it fell into the booth where I have a rubber floor so the jewelry wasn't ruined! I came back to this...
the case hit my drawers and knocked them over as well. What a mess. But I learned a very valuable lesson. If Pat asks a question like "what do I do if this happens", pay attention!!!

This was a lovely show to do, wonderful people, beautiful location and perfect weather (other than a little too much wind). Best neighbors ever of course! Loved the show but it's a very, very long way from Michigan and having to be gone for a full week is tough. Not sure I can justify it but I would love try it again sometime.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On the road again!

Finally after a long winter, my first art fair of the year and it's in Texas! We crammed two booths into Michael's extra long van and hit the road. The minute we headed south, I started looking for the source of the best cherry limeades ever, a Sonic Drive-In. Finally in southern Illinois, we found one and I was in heaven!

At some point along the road in Texas, we ran into this next one. A peacock hanging out at the local convenience store. Always something interesting on the road!

More stories coming!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carla's Video

A fellow metalsmith, Carla Fox, sent me a video that her son made of her with her daughter's help. She's posted it on YouTube.

Based on how wonderful this video is, maybe I should have had kids!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Studio Days

After a long time spent getting other aspects of my life reorganized, I'm finally back in the studio! When I'm not spending time there, I forget how much I LOVE being there, making and creating. And getting really dirty! Flitting from one job to the next with too many ideas and not enough time!

This "method of working" happens quite often right before a show. My best creativity hits right before a show and then I work like mad to get as much done as possible. Before realizing that I need to find clothing and maybe pack the van as well. But amazingly, it all gets done and I always get to the show!

So, back to the studio. This picture is what my bench looked like before I started yesterday's production special. It doesn't look anything like this now! That's the good news!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Endings...

As much as I love music, I wasn't on the cutting edge when it came to mp3 players and iPods. I didn't see the need since I had a huge collection of CDs which I could easily rotate. Then the Nano came out in really great colors and I was hooked. All the music I wanted in one little, easily carried package. Absolutely perfect, until I lost it.

I searched everywhere and more than once, backtracking to when I last had it. Dick searched as well with no luck. In total frustration it was decided that I probably left it plugged in at my last hotel room. Unbelievably frustrating.

With 40+ hours in the van coming up next week, I broke down and bought a new Nano. An extremely cute hot pink one that was on special with free accessories, also pink. But I didn't open it. I was absolutely sure that mine would turn up now that I had a new one.

For one last time I went through all the pockets of my suitcases, all my drawers, searching everywhere I could think of. Finally I searched my van one last time, intending to open the iPod since there was nowhere left to look. And there is was, in my center console. A place both Dick and I had searched multiple times before. And it was right there...

It makes no sense but who cares! I've returned the cute pink one and have joyfully updated and charged my even cuter lime green Nano in anticipation of a long trip. And thanking whatever little angel that helped me find it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Art Fairs

I've never looked forward to doing art fairs more than I am this year and I don't know what the difference is. This winter was NOT spent making jewelry so I'm not the least bit ready and I have a really full schedule. I've just added my shows to the schedule to the right and looking at it, I'm a little worried that I've added too many shows! But that's a GREAT problem to have.

So, support the art community and your favorite artists and shop at some art fairs this year. Spend a little or spend a lot, but help all of us that make our living by making things for other people to enjoy. Everyone needs art in their lives!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Sorority no one wants to join

Just found out that an old friend (of 30 years) had surgery for breast cancer last week. I wish I had known about it before her surgery since that's when you want as much information as you can get your head around. I found talking to people who had been through it was a great way to kind of get the "inside dirt". Everyone's experience is so different and everyone reacts differently but once you've joined the sorority, you really want to make it easier for the next person...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bliss, panic, peace...

I've been rather blissfully working on reorganizing my office, working through piles of "important" papers which have been growing ever taller. Finding those little slips of paper with important notes on them which I knew I had saved somewhere. Collecting the last receipts and getting them entered into the computer for Dick to start on my taxes. The sun's pouring in the window where the cat is laying. All is right with the world... Until Michael points out today that we leave for Texas in exactly 2 weeks and one day!!!

What??? The show isn't until April!!! I haven't started making all my new things and trying all my new ideas from all those little pieces of paper I've been finding! Yikes! Panic immediately set in. I have tons of work to do and a week already filled with other things! Then I stopped.

I realized that this is a pretty typical March. The push to make new things for my wholesale show and then the Garage Sale Art Fair, both in February usually makes for a rather non-productive March in the studio. I'm still busy but on other, more office related projects and trying to get the house back in order after a long winter. Not big projects, all pretty darn small actually. But things that need to get done. Like those piles in the office. So, instead of going to the studio and getting right to work making jewelry, I decided to spend one last day in the office.

I remembered that I work better with a deadline...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Long week, or short

All of a sudden one more week has gone by and I don't have a clue what I did with all the time. I don't have a routine right now and it's killing my productivity. There are too many things that need my attention and I keep getting distracted so nothing is getting finished. My ability to make decisions seems to be missing as well.

I'm trying to finish up everything with the Garage Sale Art Fair and get it all organized to start all over again in a few months. What do we keep the same and what do we change. Be sure and keep all the notes together for easy access. But maybe I should design the info postcard now since we'll start handing it out at our first Midwest shows. Do all the filing (I hate filing). Luckily the tax stuff is all done. Time to put it on the back burner.

My schedule is luckily very busy the next few months. This is my time to get everything ready and organized to make it easier between shows. Spiff up the display. Repair, repaint and get ready for another season of shows. Design the postcards and the e-mails now. Don't wait until I need them. This is the time to do all of it.

The one thing that's missing in my days is actually making jewelry... That could be a problem...

Monday, March 9, 2009

My plan to make it through...

That's an overstatement of course since I don't really have a plan but I just read a great quote which I thought stated it well.

"To reach a port, we must sail - sail, not tie at anchor - sail, not drift." Franklin Roosevelt

So my plan is to not just drift along, hoping to come out on the other side of these tough times. I have to take control, try new things, new ways of doing things and embrace it all. I have to fight for the ability to make my living doing what I love, no matter how hard it might get.

I'm going to stay positive and just keep working, doing everything I can. I'm going to take time to enjoy the little things that sometimes get pushed to the side when we get busy. And I'm going to remember this quote and not drift...

Saturday, March 7, 2009