Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cancer - or lack thereof

5 years ago today I had the mammogram that saved my life. Couldn’t feel it even though they said it had been growing for 6-8 years. But the mammogram found it. I looked at the images before I left and I said to the tech, oh that doesn’t look good. She said they would call me if it was something and I got the call a few days later.

For some people this is a life changing experience but I was lucky. For me thankfully it was more one of those little bumps in life we all get. A touch scary but eventually over other than the drugs.

But last night it interrupted my sleep. There’s such a fuss made over the 5 year mark and even though I haven’t quite made it there, it will be here soon. My hope is that I’ll be able to stop the nasty drugs and then I won’t have the daily reminder.

But I’ll always remember the day it all started because it was my birthday present 5 years ago. Even though the spot I saw on the images wasn’t actually where the cancer was…

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You took my breath away

I had my world shaken by one person's images while jurying an art fair. Today was the jury for the art fair that Michael Kifer and I run in Kalamazoo Michigan. Because this is a different type of art fair (the Garage Sale Art Fair), Michael and I jury the show ourselves. It's something I'm very comfortable doing and really enjoy. This time it was even better.

Without permission I can't use the person's name but I will tell you that I wish the images of my own work evoked the strength of the feelings that these did for me. Just when you've seen your fill of overworked, over Photoshopped images, one person's work comes up on the screen and reaches up to grab you by the heart. I caught my breath and just drank it in. 

There's a lesson to be learned here for all of us. Make your images speak. Let them tell a story. Don't worry about making those big expensive pieces of your work because you think that's what a jury wants to see. Let the jury feel your work and they will get it. And you'll probably get into more of the shows that you want to do. I know I'm rethinking my own images...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Leaving Ann Arbor behind

What you can't tell by this picture is that it was my most perfect Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair booth, and it may well be my last one. This was taken last year when Jon Hecker was my roadie for the show and he "tricked out" my booth so wonderfully. What you don't see is the fan situated up in the rafters so it was like having air-conditioning in the booth. Or the carpet runners in front covering the holes in the pavement. It was quite the booth!

I knew it was time to take a break from doing the show. For almost 30 summers my entire year was measured by "before Ann Arbor" or "after Ann Arbor" and it was a huge part of my life. The money I made at the show used to be what got me through winter but times have changed and the show has changed as well. It felt like it was time to move on.

 There were high points like the fun I had with all the people who helped me over the years, especially Nancy Martin and Shoaleh Mansour and the awards I won. All the years when we had custom tee shirts made with new job titles on the front and sayings on the backs. The one year Michael Kifer was the poster child for the show and we had tee shirts made that said Michael was next door with arrows pointing to his booth. Three of us crammed into a 10' x 6' booth with the jewelry cases and a couple of chairs but no time to sit down. But I can't forget the year that I fell in the street while helping to lay out the show and broke my leg. During the show Nancy plopped me on a chair outside my booth with my leg up, a fan blowing on me and took over while I was highly medicated and having fun with all the friends who came to visit. Yes, lots of good memories were made at the show.

This years show starts in about 9 hours and for the first time in almost 30 years, I won't be there. I wish all my friends cool, dry weather and great sales. I'll miss seeing them but this was the right decision for me this year. We'll see what next year brings...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

On the road again...

It's been a long time coming but today I finally set out for my first outdoor art fair of the year. Instead of the typical last minute scrambling to get things done and get every last possible thing into the van, it was very calm, very organized. Without even really trying I left on time, even slightly early. Once I was on the road this weird sense of peace came over me and left me smiling. It's a beautiful sunny day and I'm off to a wonderful art fair with my van packed full of brand new work being shown for the first time. I love what I do!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What I learned from "the Flood"

Today was my first day back in the studio since "the flood". Not like the big huge floods that happened around our area but bad enough. So what have I learned from the experience?
  • I have way too much "stuff" which is what made dealing with the flood so much harder.
  • Wet carpet tiles are really, really heavy.
  • Life does go on even without being able to save the yummy, cushy carpeting that covered half the floor and saved my back and knees.
  • I learned that vinyl floor coverings are really, really ugly and way too expensive for how ugly they are.
  • I have way too much stuff...
"Sell, donate, recycle or dump" became my mantra. It's amazing how much left the studio in one of these ways and how good it felt. Kind of a fresh start in an old space. 

My job now is to concentrate on making jewelry but once I have a break in my shows, I'm back to clearing more things out, both studio and home. This feels good...


Thursday, February 7, 2013

After jurying 3 art fairs in 2 days, this is what I learned...

You’ve applied to hundreds of shows over the years. You know what to do and not do with your images. ZAPP and JAS have made it really easy to quickly apply and not really think about it. BUT, when was the last time you went into ZAPP and checked your profile? Checked that all your information is correct? Checked your capitalization, spelling and punctuation? Have you checked your artist statement to make sure it’s current?

The same things are important on JAS but on there your artist statement is even more important. When you’re being juried on JAS (monitor jurying), your artist statement is right in the center of the page, easy for the juror to read. And you wouldn’t believe how many people make mistakes in there. The wrong words, extra punctuation, missing letters and the big one is your name! Sometimes just the first name, sometimes the full name, “James does this”, “Mary Smith likes that”. I was shocked during my latest jurying how many statements had names. Have you checked yours lately?

Your artist statement should be current and if you want a juror to read it, it should be short. I don’t need to know where you went to school, what your life’s path has been or how many years you’ve been doing this. I need to know anything critical to what you’re showing me in your images. This is not your resume, please don’t list all the shows you’ve done. Short, readable and to the point.

And then there’s the old issue of a name in the booth image. There are still many, many booth shots that have either the artists name showing or the business name. Please, please remove it. It will not help you and it may hurt you. Take down the booth signs that the show gives you even if you can’t read your own name on it. Anything that distracts from what you want the juror to be looking at which is your booth and the work in it. Leave the chair, that doesn’t bother me at all but get out all the signs.

And I’ve learned a couple of new things in this last round of jurying that I’ve done. Photographers as a group have the most odd looking booth images of anyone. Many of them look like they’re 20’ x 20’ booths and amazingly they show under 10 pieces with no flip bins! Wow! Please don’t take offense if you’re a photographer because it’s probably not you I’m talking about but you probably know someone who fits this. Just something to think about.

The other thing I’ve learned is that sterling silver must no longer be a precious metal. No one told me! Jewelers - if there are two categories, precious and non-precious and you work in sterling silver, fine silver pmc or gold, you belong in the precious category. And trust me, you don’t want to be in the non-precious category if you don’t belong there. There is some absolutely wonderful jewelry being made these days without the use of precious metals and you don’t want to be competing with them if you don’t have to. Of course if you’re applying in the non-precious category then I’m not competing with you for a space so maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this…

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Borrowing from the Duggan Sisters

 I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is when you want to share something from someone else's blog. This from the Duggan Sisters blog just hit home with me so I wanted to share it. They write a great blog and this is just a snippet from a wonderful both sad and uplifting post. Click the link to read the entire post. They have just come home from a show and write:

"We are so tired that we’re nauseous. That is what a show, wholesale or retail, does to every single artist every single time. You assemble a singular and stunning booth showcasing your wares. You stand and explain and educate and sell and endure insults and ignorance and accolades. You do it indoors under lights too bright with unforgiving concrete beneath you. You do it outdoors in wind that sometimes becomes a microburst or a tornado and you stand shivering in snow in early October and you get rained on until you are soaked to your kneecaps. You sometimes sell big and sometimes hardly get noticed in the crowd. And then you disassemble your perfect booth and pack it into a van and drive to your home which might be across town or across many state lines. You are an artist. These shows are absolute bread and butter essential and they kill you every time."

I really related to this. All true why do I love this crazy business so much???

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

True confession time...

 Yes, it's true. Although it's not something I normally talk about, I love breakfast at the Waffle House! The most important thing is that you have to sit at the counter, right across from the grill because the high point is watching them cook. 

They have a really interesting system in place for remembering the orders. The waitress calls the order to the cook who actually never sees the order in writing. As I learned yesterday, the jelly packet on the far end of the plate means eggs over easy, near end is sunny side up, one side is over hard and so on. If the jelly packet is turned over it means something totally different. They keep track of absolutely everything in the order by little clues the cook puts on the plate! Considering the dozens of ways you can get hash browns there, it's quite a feat. 

I learned all this from the cook (wish I had asked her name since she was wonderful) at the Dublin-Granville Road Waffle House in Columbus Ohio yesterday. She went through the whole system for me, talked about all the variations and then I learned that the system was actually developed by the franchise right there and is now used franchise wide!

So after breakfast it got me thinking about how I could incorporate that kind of thinking into what I do. Not jelly packets but more the organizational end of things. I dearly love that life is made up of all these great little moments. And no - I've never had a waffle at the Waffle House.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Missing art fairs

 There's something special about people who sell their art at art fairs. We tend to be this wonderfully tight group of people all trying to make our living in this strange, probably out-dated way. We look out for each other and want the best for each other. We even celebrate when others get into great shows that we didn't. Or at least try to! My closest friends are those that share this experience with me since it's unique, wonderful and hard to explain. But someone please remind me of this warm fuzzy feeling when I haven't sold anything,  it's pouring down buckets, the wind is high and I'm trying to keep my booth from flying to the next county...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Things you don't think about...

Jewelers you should recognize this. You're in the middle of selling something wonderful at an art fair and you're out of earring stoppers! Or, you're out of care cards! Or bags!!! What have those elves been doing back in the studio, slacking off? Since now I'm also the elf, this winter I'm restocking all those little things I might not think of during my busy times. Putting 2 little earring stoppers in little tiny bags and adding the instructions turns out to be kind of a fun project. One of those mindless jobs best done in front of the TV. So how many will I need this year? Since I'm planning on a really good year - so I did tons! Now it's on to stamping the bags...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Two Weeks In...

Two weeks into the new year and one thing is certain. If I don't set more of a schedule, all this great time off from shows will be gone and I won't have all kinds of wonderful jewelry to show for it. 

But I'm getting things done. My office has had a major clear out and deep cleaning. It's fun spending time in here again. There's still much more to do but it's a great start.

Next big job to tackle is the "clean" side of the studio. Just the word "clean" in the same breath as my studio causes major laughter. For the last probably 3 years I've been just dumping things in there, leaving it for "later". I think later has now hit...

Then I get to go back into the working side of the studio and do what I love - make jewelry. I have lots of new ideas and I have the time to "play" with them and make them wonderful. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goodbye 2012

Looking back is always interesting to me and 2012 had some wonderful moments. This is like that annoying letter you used to get in your Christmas cards from all the people you hadn't seen all year. I loved those letters...

I stayed more local for my art fairs and loved it! One of the things I love about doing art fairs is the travel but I miss the time at home. 2012 was a nice mix.

Got to know some wonderful people better:

Patrica McCleery during our time in St Louis.

Julie Kradel who makes my old friend Steve Kostyshyn  so very happy.

Marilyn Greenwood and her husband Ken who, along with the Hecker’s and Mike Taylor, made the time on the Pensacola Beach between shows so much fun.

Became "Boonie" at the Boston Mills ArtFest which made me laugh even in 100+ degree tempuratures.

Had the easiest Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair ever because Jon Hecker was my roadie! My booth has never been so wonderfully engineered and due to his “fan work”, it was like having air conditioning!

Made my favorite ring ever – then sold it! When will I learn to just keep the darn thing when I really, really love it. I sold my last “favorite ring” right off my finger 20 years ago…

My jewelry won some awards!

Had some really bad pumpkin pancakes for my Halloween birthday but I was with my best friends the Hecker’s which made it great!

On a personal note - Got to watch my favorite/only nephew graduate High School and go off to college.


Had two wonderful weeks off from everything with my very best friend Dick in our favorite place (other than home).

Wow – sounds like a year where nothing went wrong, no struggles, no tough times! Nope, it was a tough year, the hardest was watching my best friend struggle with health issues and not being able to help. But I’m focusing on the positives from the past year and looking forward to having even more positives in 2013.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a great 2013!!!