Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shopping!

I've been spending way too much time on Etsy lately.

Have you been there? 

It's a place where artistic or crafty people can set up shop and sell their handmade wares.  Or where they can sell their extra supplies or vintage items.

I have a shop there and have managed to take pictures and post over 80 items so far.  I need to take more pictures of jewelry, but I'm saving that for next week.

Etsy also has a feature called Treasury Lists.  Anyone with a sign-on to Etsy can create a Treasury List.  You add the web address or URL of 16 items that are for sale on Etsy.  You can choose a theme or have random items in your list.  For example you could create a treasury with all things black and white. 

I created two treasuries this week:  the first was based on my name.  I did a search using the word "Laurel", clicked on all the items that struck my fancy, then copied and pasted the web address into my Treasury List.  How fun is that?  One of those items has already been sold, so that's why there are only 15 items.

So click on the links below, bring up my lists, and enjoy.  Or shop!  Shopping is good!  'Tis the season, right??  So enjoy my lists and a couple of my favorite lists and see if there's something there that you just have to have!   

So here are my lists:

Lovely Laurels

Angels we have heard on high!

And a couple of other fun lists:

Ringing in the new year with Sunshine

For the home black

Enjoy!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Countdown to Christmas!

We are officially at less than a week before Christmas 2011!

Hope you have your Christmas shopping started if not finished.  If you need gifts for special people on your list, check out my Etsy store here StoneWingDesigns Etsy Shop and use the coupon code 20PERCENT for 20% off your total purchase.  I'll do my best to get it there before Christmas.  You can use Paypal.

I had to put my jewelry supplies away a week ago so I could make Christmas cards.  So instead of beads and findings, I have paper, stamps, ink and glue all over my workroom.

I finished about 30 cards on Saturday that I mailed off today.  The line at the post office was almost out the door, so I bought more stamps right next door at CVS instead of standing in line for an hour.  It's the little blessings that matter, right?

As for the rest of my cards, I'm done with the stamping and watercolor painting.  Now I just need to trim the pictures and get out the patterned paper stock and put the cards together.

I love painting each card with different color combinations and then matching the colors with patterned papers and stamped words to make each card unique.  I use all the colors of the rainbow, including purple, yellow, orange, blue and brown in addition to green and red.  In fact, the only way you'd know some of my cards are Christmas cards is by the pictures and the words.  Some of my favorite stamps are of snowmen and angels and I use them every year.  I don't keep track from year to year of which cards go where, so hopefully the same people don't get the same picture every year!

So I'll be spending a few more days with paper and glue while my favorite holiday CD's play in the background.  Keeping me company again this year are Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and my all-time fave Mercy Me which I love to play over and over again!  Then there's Amy Grant, piano music, and even a Hammered Dulcimer CD called "An Olde English Christmas". 

My favorite song?  "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" because it reminds me what all the fuss is about.

Merry Christmas to all!

Laurel

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas Wish

I heard the angels sing last night, and their voices filled me with awe and wonder.  The songs still echo in my mind and heart:

    Peace on earth good will to men!

    What child is this?

   Joy to the world!

   Let heaven and nature sing!

This is the season for shopping and baking and mailing greeting cards and wrapping presents and planning dinners and going to parties and seeing relatives and running madly from one activity to the next.  There's so much to do and so little time left in which to do it that we push ourselves through the days and weeks hoping only to survive the holidays with a little sanity intact.

Sometimes we forget why there's a holiday in the first place.

So....

My wish for you is to hear the angels' voices that still sing praise and worship in honor of the babe whose birth we celebrate. 

This Christmas, may you be filled with the things that truly matter:

His peace and joy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A few of my favorite things

I do enjoy lists, so thought I would try my hand at it.
  1. Sara McLachlan on the CD player, over and over again!  Love her voice.
  2. A large cup of Hills Brothers French Vanilla Cappuccino which DH just bought me. 
  3. DH for restoring my cache of cappuccino after I ran out (see #2).
  4. Pride and Prejudice DVD with Colin Firth.  An oldie but a goodie!  I save it for sick days and it always makes me better.  (cough cough) Oh darn, do I feel a sick day coming on???
  5. Sense and Sensibility DVD for the same reason as above.  Both versions.  The longer the better. 
  6. Which naturally leads to Jane Austen.  How did she do it without the internet, Facebook and blogs???  Of course, there were fewer distractions, but go without indoor plumbing and a hot shower each day?  Get real.
  7. Sunday afternoon:  reading the paper, puttering around the house and DH making Sunday dinner.  What's in the oven, dear?
  8. The Avalon Tea Room in White Bear Lake:  it's been too long since I stopped in.  Love their tiny shop and restaurant.  I always have the following: a scone with lemon curd and Davenshire Cream, finger sandwiches and the soup of the day.  And, of course, tea.  Whatever the special is for the day.
  9. Rocks.  Ok, be more specific.  How can I narrow it down??  Stones I've used in the past week:  Red Creek Jasper, Larvikite, and a cool black stone like Snowflake Obsidian only with brown spots instead of gray.
  10. Writing.  I forgot how much I used to enjoy writing.  I just reconnected with several romance authors from my old group, and it reminded me of how long it's been since I wrote every day.  I stopped writing in 1997.  The same year I started making jewelry.  At least I still get to be creative.  :)
Not sure if I'm a very good list-writer.  Should they be a bit more concise??  Or can I ramble a bit?

Happy Sunday!

Laurel

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Yes, there's snow on the ground in White Bear Lake, Minnesota!  Not more than a couple of inches, so it's just enough to give a hint that Christmas is but THREE WEEKS AWAY!

Do you have your shopping done?  Or are you like me--waiting for inspiration to strike so you'll magically know what to get (and where to buy it) for each person on your list?  Not that it ever does.  I read something once about a woman who buys all kinds of things for gifts, and then she has to figure out to whom she can give them.  Unfortunately, I saw myself in that picture. 

There are some people for whom it's easy to buy.  Those people are not on my list.  Sometimes I think I should add them to my list just so I can buy the gift and cross it off my list.  Then at least there would be some progress being made!

In addition to NOT shopping for gifts, I have made NO Christmas cards yet.  Not that I'm in a panic.  Yet.

I HAVE been making more jewelry which I'll show off here in case you still need some gifts for the friends and family on YOUR list!  You can buy my wares on Etsy.  See the cool little interactive icon on the top right of my blog?  Click on my store name, StoneWingDesigns, and you can see my listings.  Or click on an item and you'll go to the Etsy page for that item. 

I'm offering Free Shipping for the month of December on Etsy. 

And for those who read my blog, I'm offering 20% off everything!  Just use coupon code 20PERCENT when you check out.

Happy Shopping!!

Laurel







Monday, November 28, 2011

What's New?

Hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving!  

Seems like the planning, cleaning, preparing, and cooking go on forever, and then in just a few short hours, the food is gone, the holiday is over and family is on their way out the door on to their next adventures (hope the Black Friday shopping excursion was successful!!). 

November is nearly over, and here I am again wondering where the time went.  Seems like I rush and hurry all day long and only have time to sit down at the end of the day to watch one of my favorite TV shows.  Since that's the time when I work on my jewelry, there can never be too many of those hours in a day.  And sometimes when I'm on a creative hot streak, I have a hard time putting it away for the night.  Those are the days when bedtime is pushed past midnight.  I try not to do that very often since DH is trying to sleep, but it does happen, just ask the neighbors who often see my light still burning.

I do want to send a huge thank you to all my customers and friends who came out to the Arts and Crafts shows at Southtown Mall in Bloomington, MN, in mid-October and again in mid-November.  I had one of my better shows there this month;  I truly couldn't have done it without your support.  Many of my favorite pieces found wonderful new homes with some of my favorite people. 

My next venue will be a boutique at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, 7227 Penn Ave S. in Richfield, MN.  Thank you, Barb, for stopping by and asking for my participation.  Barb does a fantastic job of putting the boutique together and staging all the craft items.  She's also my step-daughter's mother-in-law and a very sweet woman.  I don't know the boutique hours yet, but it will be Saturday and Sunday, the 10th and 11th of December. 

I'll be making some new items for the boutique so stop by if you're in the area.

Now it's time to rush off and make supper.  Then it's time to sit in front of the tube and CREATE! 

Have a good one!

Laurel




.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Arts and Craft Show in Bloomington, MN, October 14, 15 & 16!!

October 14th, 15th and 16th is the weekend for the second fall Arts and Crafts Show at Southtown Mall in Bloomington MN.

I've been busily making new double-strand bracelets and matching earrings for this show.  Here's a sneak preview:

 Black Onyx & Swarovski $28

Black Onyx, Freshwater Pearl & Swarovski $28

Black Onyx, Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski $28 


From left to right:
  • Bracelet 1:  Sodalite, Kyanite & Swarovski  $36
  • Bracelet 2:  Kyanite, Swarovski & Enamel $34
  • Bracelet 3:  Sodalite & Swarovski $26
Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski $30
    Amethyst, Freshwater Pearl & Purple Quartz $38 
     Smokey Quartz & Freshwater Pearls $34
    Tiger's Eye & Freshwater Pearls $30

Location:  I-494 and Penn Ave. S., Bloomington, Minnesota

Hours: 
  • Friday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Mention that you saw my blog for 20% off your entire purchase!

Hope you can make it to the show!

All my best,

Laurel

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you to all my great customers who stopped and shopped and talked and bought!! 

Southtown Mall in Bloomington, Minnesota is a nice little mall with a good mix of shops and nearby restaurants.  With Kohls across the parking lot and Herbergers to the east, the parking lot is always full. 

I've been doing this show for 15 years now (hard to believe!) and I always feel like I've come home, despite living on the opposite end of the city.  Fellow crafters have become like family and catching up with them after the summer months is always a joy. 



There are times when lots of people come through the mall looking at crafts, and there are also times when we crafters joke that the aisle looks like a bowling alley and the only people we see are fellow crafters.  If it weren't for those "dead" times, I would never get to eat (McDonald's) or go to the restroom, so I do appreciate the slack as well as the busy times. 



I also make use of the quiet times by pulling out my tools and supplies and making new jewelry pieces.  This time I pulled out a few necklaces that I made this past year that I saw could be improved with a few changes.  I'll get some pictures up soon to show them off.  I do have a couple of before shots of one so you can see what improvements I made.

What I like best about doing Arts and Crafts shows is seeing what pieces people like and being able to customize them as far as length and color.  Like taking a pair of earrings and changing them from silver to gold, or adding a bead or removing a crystal, or lengthening a bracelet or shortening a necklace.  All of those variations are easy to do at a show.  I bring a small portion of my supplies with me to shows, and sometimes I can make changes right then and there.  Other times I might have to bring something from home but will have it ready the same weekend.  Still other times I mail a finished piece or have it ready for the next show.

The other reason I love doing shows is being able to talk and socialize with my customers.  I'm not usually an extrovert, but there's something about sitting in my little booth in the middle of a shopping center that makes me want to chatter away with all the people who came out just to see me.  It seems for those 3 show days I have an abundance of energy and a mission to be as entertaining as possible.  It certainly is not the life for everyone!!



So after a long, lonely summer with no shows, it sure is great to be back visiting and selling as a vendor. 

Here's to the greatest customers a girl could ask for!!

Hope to see you at the mall!

Laurel

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Arts and Craft Show in Bloomington, MN, September 16, 17 & 18!!

Don't miss the start of the fall arts and crafts show season in Bloomington, MN:

Located at Southtown Mall on Penn Ave. and American Blvd, one block away from 494 and Penn Ave.  We're on the south side of 494 in the same building as TJ Max and the Dress Barn. 

I'll be there in the front aisle in front of the Dress Barn.

Stop in and say hi!!

September 16, 17 & 18 -- Southtown Mall, I-494 and Penn Ave S

  • Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
  •  Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. 
Also check out my Etsy store:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/StoneWingDesigns



Hope to see you soon!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

In the News!

The White Bear/Vadnais Heights Press featured me in a Creative License article on Wednesday, July 20th on Page 3B.

The original article was on one page, but I had to scan it in sections.





How cool is that!!??

Wishing you the best!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just wanted to write a quick note.

I've been taking care of my dad for the past few weeks as he is having health issues.

I've been making some new jewelry (not as much as I'd like, of course), and haven't had time to take pictures or post them to Etsy, or write on my blog, or actually do much of anything else.

Dad is slowly doing better, but he has a ways to go.

Your prayers are so appreciated.

Wishing you God's joy and peace in all you do.

Laurel

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Real Stones

It's hard to believe sometimes that I've been making jewelry for 15 years.  Trends have come and gone over the years, but stones have been my one constant. 

Stones connect us to the earth.  I'm looking at my watch band right now which is composed of Picture Jasper rectangles, rounds and rondells.  No other stone evokes the brown, sandy earth like this stone with it's spots, lines and coloring that look like mountain scenes and natural landscapes.  Last fall on a rockhounding trip, I found a creek bed filled with fist-sized Picture Jasper stones.  I loaded my collecting bags with more rocks than I could lift on my own.  Stashed in boxes in my porch, they wait patiently for the rock saw and grinding/polishing wheels to reveal the depths of their beauty.  In time, they will be cut down to free-form pendants, wire-wrapped as focal pieces or links. 

How can you tell if a stone is real? 

Short of gathering rocks in the middle of stream beds and fields, you have to know your rocks and your suppliers.  For example, when I first started making jewelry, I quickly discovered that a white rock called "Howlite" that has gray lines throughout can be died to resemble Turquoise and Lapis.  "Turquoise Howlite" is still on the market today.  It can be a cheap alternative to Turquoise for those that only want the turquoise color and don't care that it is not truly Turquoise.  Howlite is a real stone.  I've used it in the white variety.  If you doubt the quality of the beads, check the label or ask the supplier.  Joann's and Michael's carry Turquoise Howlite.  I don't use it because it confuses people and diminishes the real stone.

Another stone I learned about early on is African Turquoise.  This stone has mottled markings and a more earthy look.  It is a dyed jasper.  I used it early on because it is pretty and has a pretty name, but it is not Turquoise.  Again, I stopped using it over years ago.

Fire Mountain Gems is a huge presence in the beading/jewelry-making industry.  Their website has great pictures of stone beads of all kinds and descriptions.  The best thing about Fire Mountain Gems is their "Enhancement Code Guide."  For example, IMIT means the stone is an imitation; ASBL means the stone was reconstituted and stabilized with a clear resin which helps prevent color change.  "N" means the stone is natural.  It's worth knowing what each symbol represents.  Here's the link:  http://www.firemountaingems.com/encyclobeadia/beading_resources.asp?docid=GMSTNNHNCMNTGD

Mother-of-Pearl is naturally tan; the white version has been bleached.  Pink, green, purple, blue, orange Mother-of-Pearl has obviously been dyed, as have a large portion of colored Freshwater Pearls.

Rose Quartz fades in the sunlight.  Much of the Rose Quartz on the market today has been dyed to enhance the color. 

Goldstone, Blue Goldstone and Green Goldstone are manmade materials:  Glass with copper inclusions.  There is no "real" goldstone stone.

Most enhanced or manmade stones are reasonably priced.  Can you tell a stone is real based on it's price?  Not always.  I have a friend who goes to Tuscon every year and buys her stone beads from reliable sources.  You can find many premium stones in Tuscon for much lower prices than almost anywhere else.  My friend passes on her savings to her customers:  real stone jewelry for reasonable prices.

If you're ever in doubt as to the quality of your stones, ask the seller:  they are required to know about enhancements to their stones and pass that information on to the buyer.

The latest "Faux" Turquoise on the market includes two stones:  Chalk Turquoise and Magnesite.  Neither one is real Turquoise.  I do not use them.  And if I ever do use them, I will explicitly indicate that they are not natural.

Thanks for asking!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April Arts and Crafts Fair at Southtown Mall

Arts and Crafts Fair at Southtown Mall this weekend!

Don't forget Mother's Day is coming in May.  Mom probably loves jewelry but rarely buys it for herself. 

I have lots of new bracelets and matching earrings this month.

I'll also be having an inventory reduction sale of up to 40% off selected items.

Where:  Bloomington, MN, I-494 and Penn Ave.; south of 494 across from Kohls

When:
  • Friday, April 29, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.I'm in front of the Dress Barn, a good place for jewelry. 
  • Sunday, May 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 
Hope to see you there!
 
Blessings!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Bracelets

Bracelets continue to be one of my biggest sellers. 

Which means my inventory of bracelets has dwindled down to (practically) nothing.  I say practically because my inventory in all categories is way larger than it should be to begin with and the chances of me running out of anything is never.

When I saw the spring colors in the nearby Dress Barn at Southdale Shopping Center (shameless plug because this is where I sit during my Bloomington Arts and Craft Show, which is coming up...), I dove right in and started making fun new bracelets in all the bright colors I saw.

I'm also going through all my glass and stone beads, pricing those I don't want and making bracelets and earrings with those I love.  So there will be a bead sale in the near future. 

Meanwhile, I made it through the blue and green glass, and stone bead flowers.  Here's a peek at some of the new bracelets and matching earrings.  Except for the Pink Enamel & Flowers and the triple strand in greens, all the designs are simple and clean.




Here are some matching earrings:


Let me know what you think!

Now, after I do some house cleaning, it will be on to the purples, yellows and neutrals.

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurel

Mayfaire's Not-So-Daily Maily: My First Tattoo, Perhaps?

My friend the artist shares insights on being a full time artist.

Mayfaire's Not-So-Daily Maily: My First Tattoo, Perhaps?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Day!

From the looks of it out my window, it's a beautiful day today! 

And I'm out of bed and ready to get some work done.  After I run a few errands, that is.

Being self-employed sounds great, doesn't it?  Working from home, no set schedule, no boss...

No sick leave pay, no benefits, no salary...

I love making jewelry.  I love doing craft shows, meeting customers, seeing what they like and making custom pieces for them. 

I wanted to take this business to the next step:  to do more and bigger shows, get back into some stores, write a book, do a newsletter, etc.  However, I don't want to eat, sleep and live jewelry 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  There has to be a balance between work and a personal life. 

While I'm unemployed as far as a "real" job, there are things that need doing around the house, too.  Like cleaning out cupboards, closets and drawers, having a garage sale, cleaning house, paying bills, balancing the checkbook, etc, etc.

For now, it's time to get outside and enjoy the weather!!

Happy Spring!

Laurel

Monday, April 11, 2011

To sleep ... perchance to dream

I'm not sure what I'm battling today, but after a few weeks of shingles and a bout of the flu last week, my body still feels like it's still in a war zone. 

What's up with that?!?

I didn't get out of bed this morning until 10:30 a.m.  Since I went to sleep about 11:00 last night, that's almost 12 hours!!  What's left of the day if I have to sleep for 12 hours!!??

I did manage to get a few things done today:
  • Added 2 items to my Etsy store
  • Added the April Arts and Craft Show in Bloomington to my Facebook events
  • Posted some pictures to my Facebook page
  • Did 3 loads of laundry
  • E-mailed a few people
I guess I did more than I thought I did.  Not as much as I wanted to, however.

Hope tomorrow will be a better day!!

Blessings!

Laurel

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you to my customers and friends for a great show this past weekend.  It was good to see so many people after the long, hard winter we've had this year. 

Many of my new pieces flew out the door this weekend.  I'm always happy when they find good homes with wonderful friends. 

So far, this week has been busy with family and dr. appointments.  Dad got a new pair of glasses, but is having issues with glare so I see another trip to the mall in our future.  My shingles is getting better and has not affected my eye.  I have another appointment with the eye dr. in 3 weeks so hope that will be the end of it. 

Lots more to do this week--orders to fill, clothes to wash, house to clean, friends to see, beads to buy, more jewelry to make...

So have a good week!!

Laurel

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Arts and Craft Show in Bloomington, MN


Arts and craft fair at Southtown Mall this weekend:

Bloomington, MN, I-494 and Penn Ave.; south of 494 across from Kohls,

Friday 10 to 9
Saturday 10 to 6
Sunday 11 to 4

Stop in!! Mention you saw me on Facebook for 20% your purchase


I'm in front of the Dress Barn, a good place for jewelry

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finding the Right Torch for Copper Clay

I spent the past couple of days firing more copper charms.  My hubby bought me a cute little handheld torch that I was dying to try.  However, I had no pieces that were ready to fire.  So I spent Sunday playing with copper clay, stamps and molds.  You would think with the hundreds of stamps I have sitting around, that stamping would be easy.  Not so much.  You need stamps with deep impressions.  Most of my favorite stamps do not fit this description.  Also, you don't want the stamps to be too busy for the small shapes I intended to make.  I do have some neat cutter shapes so that I was able to make many charms in different sizes.  It took me all day.

Monday I sat in the porch and tried out the new torch.  However, it seems the cute little torch does not put out enough heat.  The whole piece is supposed to turn a peachy color; if there are spots of glowing bright orange, that is too hot and you need to back off a bit.  I had lots of trouble with this; even on a small charm, the metal clay heated up in spots.  Whereever the torch hit the charm, that spot would get bright, but the rest of the charm was dark.  I tried to fire several pieces, but it wasn't going well.  They were so brittle, that when I tried to burnish them, they broke into pieces. 

I tried to find the tank and nozzle I had used the previous weekend, but it was somewhere in the back garage and I couldn't find it.  So I had to give up until hubby came home and dug it out for me.

Tuesday I fired more charms with the old tank and nozzle.  That worked much better as far as producing an even temperature throughout the charm.  Two of the charms were pretty large so I heated them for an extra 2 minutes each (for a total of 9 minutes), but the color doesn't look quite right and the surface oxidation didn't come off like it should when I dropped them in cool water.  They are the flowers in the picture below on the top left and bottom left.  The top flower is still pretty red and the bottom flower looks more like darkened silver than copper.  I did use 3 different propane tanks and they each seemed to produce different results. 

I also pressed the stamps into the clay a little too hard in a couple instances where the pieces broke along the deeper grooves.  The bird on the left should have been in a larger oval; when a small piece of the background under his beak broke off, I broke of the rest of the background all the way around his lower body.  I might have to do the same on the top of his head and body.  Another piece broke when I drilled the hole (not shown).  The bird in the middle lost a small part of his tail, but otherwise he turned out pretty good.  I didn't drill a hole in him as I was afraid I'd break his beak.  So he may need a wire-wrapped "cage" of some sort.

Today I polished my charms as best I could with polishing papers.  Once I get some steel shot for the tumbler, I hope polishing will be easier and less time-consuming. 

So that's it for now!!

Cheers!

Laurel


Friday, March 11, 2011

Whine and Cheese

I had something I wanted to write about yesterday, but the day got away from me and I didn't post anything.  Does it matter?  I have one follower on this blog:  me.  Of course, I'm sure that has to do with the fact that few people know about my blog. 

Yesterday I worked on a newsletter to send out to my friends, family and customers, with information on my Etsy shop, my blog and my show schedule.  I wrote it in Word.  My header, which was a banner with my company name, wouldn't copy over to the e-mail editor I use.  I really wanted my newsletter to look more professional, like some of the newsletter e-mails I get from stores and vendors.  I have Microsoft Publisher on my PC, so I tried re-writing my newsletter with that, and didn't get very far before it was dinner time.  I try very hard not to be on the computer after 5:00 p.m. in order to give that time to my husband.

So I didn't send out the e-mail with all the information on how to find me and read my blog and buy my jewelry.  I will admit here that I also haven't sold anything on Etsy.  I've only had my jewelry on there since January 20th, 2011, but it is still disappointing since it's been a lot of work.

Last Friday I spent quite a few hours taking my own picture.  I had a fresh haircut and told my stylist, Liz (http://www.bakkenwood.com/), that I would have to go home and take pictures of myself for marketing purposes.  I am so NOT photogenic.  And SO much a perfectionist.  I even rearranged my library bookshelves so that the background would look good.  I had to make myself laugh before each shot so I didn't look so stupid.  I'm so glad I don't have to look at myself! 


Over the weekend, my husband set me up with a fire brick and a torch in the back porch, and I happily fired copper metal clay pieces that I had made a few weeks ago at a class.  I don't have the required pickle solution, so used vinegar.  It sort of worked.  I also polished the "charms" with my Dremel.  At the end of the weekend, I put the shiny copper charms away in a plastic baggie.  Apparently there was still moisture on the metal as when I took them out the next day, the charms were GREEN!  Which is not the look I was going for at all.  So I spent more time on Monday polishing them.  Then I lost one leaf charm.  I found it today when I ran the garbage disposal.  What a lot of noise a small little copper charm can make!  I don't recommend it as a way to polish metal.

I spent some time Tuesday and Wednesday with my Dad.  Took him to an eye appointment downtown St. Paul, and then we went to the optical store to order a new lens for his glasses.  He only needs one because he's now blind in his right eye.  Mom would never have allowed that to happen, the blindness in one eye.  She would also not have allowed Dad to smoke in the house or use the extra bedroom on the main floor for  wood-carving.  She would have thrown out half of Dad's wardrobe and burned the other half.  The house would be spotless, Dad would weigh more, his hair would be cut and he would never stay in his pajamas all day long.

I did make new jewelry this week, so it wasn't a total loss. 

Maybe I'll get some photos taken and posted next week.

See, I do serve cheese with my whine!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Goals and Schedules

After 3 months, I still can't seem to establish a schedule for getting things done at home.

Of course, anyone who worked with me during the past 10 years knows I had trouble following a daily schedule even while employed.  You cannot set a clock by me!  Now that I'm self-employed, why should it be any different?  Except that I would like to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a task; in not wasting time on things that don't have as much value as other things I should be or want to be doing.  How did I manage to work full time before this?

Setting Specific Goals
It's good to have goals, but not ones that make you feel like you will never check them off the list.  I need to be more specific in setting my goals.  Instead of saying I need to add more jewelry to my web site and Etsy store, I should quantify it.  For example, I need to add 10 new items to each site every week, and I need to design and make 10 new necklaces or bracelets this week, and I need to apply to 2 more arts and craft shows this week.

Prioritizing My Goals
Am I working on the tasks that are the most important tasks for that day?  If my next art show is in 3 weeks, do my customers know about it?  Do I have new items priced and ready to sell?  Do I have business cards and a show schedule ready to hand out?  Does my web site have the show dates and locations listed? 

Setting Obtainable Goals
Are my goals realistic?  Where does laundry fit in?  Making dinner?  Cleaning the house?  Paying bills, going to the post office, library, etc., and all the other things that need to be done in a week now that I'm home?  If I spend the time adding 10 new items to my web site this week, will I have time to make and price 10 new pieces of jewelry for my next art show? 

Scheduling My Tasks
If I know what my goals are and what is most important each week, I should be able to schedule time to work on them.  I should be able to look at my tasks for the week and know that I'm working toward something that I value, that I'm that much closer to realizing my goal, and that I've spent my time wisely. 

What is it they say?  Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!

I just need to keep on task!  Which isn't always that easy for a non-task oriented person to do....

In fact, posting on my blog wasn't on today's list of things to do!  Hmmm. 

And now the laundry needs folding.  And I'm a little hungry.  Wonder if there's any mail?

Cheers!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My sister's beads conclusion

My sister's beads found their way home to San Diego on February 14th.

According to my sister:
"We got home from a weekend in Big Bear and Amanda said “Hey Mom, there’s a package on the front bench for you”… She showed it to me and I just knew it was jewelry!!!
We love them all! I have to figure out a “hanging system” for the upstairs hallway so that we can hang the sets and share them. I did just hand over the necklaces with the turtles, etc. and Amanda had one on last night when she got home from school (translation – she loved it!).

Anyway, I was going to email you yesterday and let you know we have them and they arrived safe and sound. It was MONDAY and there was a lot of stuff going on so I forgot until late last night.

Thank you thank you thank you! We love them and you!!!"
So there's a happy ending for my sister's beads. 

Now I just have to get ready for my first Arts and Craft Show of the year....

Cheers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Hard Questions

What do I want to be?  And where did the day go?
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is a book I was familiar with from my days as a writer.  I bought the book many years ago but never did the morning pages or any of the exercises that are supposed to help you get unblocked and become more creative.  Last week I checked it out of the library.

Since being laid off from my day job in early December, I've struggled with the most difficult of questions:  "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?"  Having been a capable mainframe programmer and database administrator, I am now obsolete.  For the second time in my career.  I need to work for another 15 years, but I'm not sure I want to jump in to the technology pool and try it again.

This morning, I wrote my three morning pages as required by the book The Artist's Way despite my writing hand alternating between falling asleep and cramps.  Writing the pages by hand puts you in touch with your subconscious mind.  You aren't supposed to edit your words or think too much about what you want to say because it's supposed to be a stream of consciousness thing.  With morning pages, it doesn't matter what you write, as long as you write three pages fast.  There are exercises for each week (12 weeks in all) that I haven't started yet, but I have read them and they are in the back of my mind.  The focus of the first week is "Recovering a sense of safety"; what attitudes and core beliefs might be hindering my inner artist child from feeling safe.  Like when a parent has said, "You can't make a living as a writer; you need a REAL job to pay the bills!"

A REAL job.

When I think back on my work life over the past 12 years, I know I started out happy and effective and full of positive energy.  I'm an oldest child and was always the star performer, especially at work.  I'm not sure when that changed.  In the past couple of years, I had become moody, frustrated, jealous, angry, unhappy, abandoned.  My future prospects had gone down the drain with the mainframe computer. 

Yesterday I ran errands:  post office, library and bead store.  When I got to the post office, I discovered I had left the bills on the kitchen counter at home.  At the library, I picked up a book on chip carving for my Dad, and browsed through a few shelves for myself.  I picked out more books on marketing and crafting as a business.  My last errand was to get the 2011 midwest arts and craft fair guide which I expected to find at the local bead store.  They don't carry it, but I managed to find a couple of things I didn't know I needed instead.  I also chit-chatted with the clerk: what classes did she teach, where does she sell her jewelry, blah, blah, blah.

When did I become such an extrovert?  The clerk's eyes glazed over more than once. 
However, if I hadn't been in such a chatty mood, I wouldn't have learned that the store might need someone to teach a seed bead-weaving class this summer.  I left my card.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed teaching beading since I haven't done it for a few years.  Thinking about it today I realized a bracelet I designed would be the perfect project for a beginners class in Peyote stitch.

The Artist's Way has a subtitle that says "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity." 

Maybe I'm on my way....

Cheers!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Good to Have Goals

One thing always leads to another.  Which is why it's good to have goals!


The past two weeks I have been working on a long-term goal:  I now have a store on Etsy with Jewelry items to sell!  Yea! 

Etsy itself is easy to maneuver.

Taking GOOD pictures of small objects in at least five "poses" takes an inordinate amount of time.  Lighting is crucial.  It takes a lot of experimentation to find pleasant backgrounds and props.  In fact, I don't think you ever stop experimenting or trying to take better pictures.

Unless the media your camera stores pictures on becomes obsolete... or your expensive digital camera starts getting fussy...

My digital camera is a Sony Mavica that I bought 8 or 10 years ago.  It uses mini-CD's to record pictures--which in and of itself is not a problem, but it really prefers CD's that were manufactured specifically for the camera.  Unfortunately, you can no longer buy Sony Mavica CD's.  Of the stack of 50 Sony CD's I've had for the last 5 years, only a third of them would successfully format using the camera. 

Last week, I started taking pictures of my jewelry using a CD that had a few pictures on it already.  After I had taken 40 or 50 pictures, the camera started getting fussy.  It made repeated grinding and whirring noises.  The light that indicates it is reading the CD stayed on, but I could neither take more pictures nor look at the ones I had already taken.  Another idiosynchrocy of the camera is that you have to do a "finalize" step to format the CD so that it is readable by a computer.  Once you finalize a CD, you can no longer write to it via the camera.

I tried using a couple more CD's that had pictures on them.  I took a few more pictures.  Then I found another CD that was unreadable by both the camera and computer. 

When my PC crashed in December of 2009, I lost all the pictures that were on my hard drive.  I had made no backups, of course.  So last week I copied all the pictures from the readable CD's to the computer.  Then I finalized all the CD's that were full and marked all the CD's that still had room for more pictures where the camera made normal successfully-reading-a-CD noises.

I organized my pictures (on the PC) in folders by year.  I have nothing in the folder marked "2008."  Unfortunately, a couple of important things happened in 2008 where I took enough pictures to fill two CD's.  I can only guess that pictures from my in-laws' 65th wedding anniversary party, pictures of relatives from out of state who were here that week, and a picture of the 12-inch "zipper" from the middle of my forehead to my right ear after having brain surgery (the staples looked like a zipper) the following week are on the CD's that are no longer readable. 

The camera's CD-reading and -writing ability seems to be gradually deteriorating.  Cameras do not last forever.  I can accept that

For now, I'm still able to take pictures of my jewelry using the CD's that still have room.  So I am posting them on Etsy as I go.

I also added a few more goals to my list:

1)  Back up the pictures that are on my PC.  Knowing how reliable my CD's are, and having lost my hard drive once already, this is something that should become a priority.

2)  Figure out if my 2008 CD's can be recovered.

3)  Start saving for a new camera.

Hope you are accomplishing some of your goals in 2011!!

Laurel

Friday, January 14, 2011

More of My Sister's Beads

Made a few more pieces of jewelry with my sister's beads that I'll add below.  I used up most of the strands of beads except for two strands which I'm going to save for next week. 

I've also been playing around with pictures, backgrounds and poses.  I'll post some of the better shots.  Some of the closeups got a little blurry, so I'll have to do some cropping of the better shots so you can see the detail.  Taking pictures of jewelry is very tricky, and I don't really have the right setup with my lights as you can see some glare and shadows.  I do have a lot of 12x12 sheets of paper which I've testing out as the background.  I also need to get out a couple of busts so you can see the length and how the necklaces lay.

So much to do!  And I feel like the day flies by before I've gotten much done.  Hopefully I'll get better at that as time goes by. 

I'm looking forward to making more jewelry with wire and beads.  That's what I hope to do this weekend.  I also have quite a few new pieces of antique gold and antique copper filigree that I want to work very soon. 

Enjoy!!

Laurel

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Inspiration

I'm reading the book "Making a Living Without a Job" by Barbara J. Winter.  Talk about the right book at the right time!  My copy was published in 1993 before web sites and blogs, so I googled her and found her web site with all kinds of additional information, resources and inspiring articles and stories.  I highly recommend checking out her website.  There is also an updated version of the book.

I even posted on her blog!  Such a daring move for someone who usually likes to lurk unknown in the background. 

Here's the link to her blog if you're interested:

http://joyfullyjobless.com/blog

And her web site:

http://www.barbarawinter.com/

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Jewelry

See the pictures to the right - those are the jewelry pieces I made a couple of days ago with my sister's beads.  I'll have more to post tomorrow. 

Being a lady of leisure is very nice, but now I have to go make dinner. 

Stop back soon!

Laurel

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!!

2010 was not a bad year for me, but December did mark a period of transition from having a day job to not so much.  After 12 years with the same company, being jobless was not what I expected for Christmas.  I don't think I've ever had a big ego, and being laid off really damages a person's self-image despite the fact that I'm not alone in this endeavor.  How many times have your heard, "It's a sign of the times."  I realize now that just because a person works hard, does a good job and is swamped with work does not guarantee the job won't be cut.

I really want to use this experience to do something positive with my life.  My technical skills are now outdated.  I have lots of experience, but not with most of the acronyms I've seen on job postings in the past 4 weeks.  Of course I can learn.  But the computer industry has changed drastically in the past 15 years.  How much will it change in the next 10 years?  I did this once already when the railroad went through a merger and I didn't want to move to Topeka, Kansas.  Do I really want to start over again in the same industry?  It is where the money is if you look at careers and earnings, but I also realize there's more to life than money.  I wasn't unhappy as a software engineer.  I thought I was good at it, but I wouldn't say it was my passion.

So what now? 

Thanks to my husband's job and his medical insurance, I do have a little time to figure out what I should do next.  I'll spend some time at the workforce center and take some classes if I can.  I'll figure out what my strengths are and what I want to be when I grow up.

In my spare time, I'll make more jewelry, take pictures and post some of my recent pieces. 

Yes, I do know what my passion is.  Whether I can make the same (or better) salary and benefits as my last job is the question. 

All my best,

Laurel