Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where has November gone?

Seems like yesterday I was talking about September and shows and such. Now, here it is less than a week before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure where the time went!

In October, I was a participant again this year in Art Off Pike, which went very well. They seemed to do more advertising this year and it paid off with a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day. Sales were good and I gave out lots of business cards that will hopefully yield some more Etsy sales. After that, the first weekend in November was the Autumn Air Art Fair. It was my first year there and it was a nice break doing an inside show. No tent to lug around! There was also a steady crowd there and sales were very good!

Speaking of Etsy, I made my 50th (and then 51st) sale just recently! Exciting stuff there. I have been constantly working to create more pieces and get them listed, increasing my inventory, but with the number of successful shows I did over the summer (a great problem to have, I know!), it has been difficult. My goal at the beginning of the year was to reach 100 pieces in my shop and keep it above that number. I have about a month left and currently 71 pieces listed. I think I can do it.

My husband and I just returned earlier this week from a short trip to our favorite place: Las Vegas. This time, we were fortunate enough to stay at the new Cosmopolitan. My husband worked his magic at the front desk and managed to get us onto the 67th floor. The view was astounding! We were able to walk out onto the balcony, which was overlooking the Bellagio fountains. See the night time photo above. The other photo is of the sunrise over the mountains and Planet Hollywood, also from the balcony.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September waning, show season tapering.

Seems like I've been away from my blog for months. It's funny, it's towards the end of show season and I have been busier than ever. September has been an exceptional month for me. It has been a record-setting month for me in sales at shows and my Etsy shop certainly helped the numbers, my husband started a new job, we welcomed a new niece into the family, and somewhere in there I celebrated another birthday with a fabulous meal with aforementioned wonderful husband at a steakhouse we had never tried.

I started the month out with the West Chester Art Market, where a lady visited my booth and bought a pair of earrings then said she may be back. About 10 minutes before closing, she came running back to my booth, credit card in hand, and purchased another pair of earrings and 3 necklaces! Hers were my only sales all day that day. Already behind in designing and producing more pieces, I had about a week to get ready for a big show - the Mason Arts Festival.

Naturally, that happened to be the week that I was stuck at work late (like 9 and 10:30pm late) almost every night and I was out of PMC. I put in an order for the clay and had to schedule 2-day delivery and then. Upon its arrival, I had to figure out when to work with it, dry it and fire it, leaving myself time to complete the pieces! Somehow that all worked out and I had several new pieces ready for Mason.

Although the morning had drizzle and cool temperatures, the organizers still managed to get a ton of people to attend. (That show is top notch!) I had a great spot for this my second year, right inside the first row of booths. I had my first sale within the first hour and 2 more almost immediately following. It was amazing! I even had a few repeat customers from the previous weekend's Art Market. Very cool. Sales were good that entire day and the weather pretty much held out for us. All of the pieces I scrambled to complete the night before sold that day. I can't wait for next year!

This is a view from my booth towards the stage, where various musical and dance groups performed throughout the day. They did a really nice job lining up entertainment for the festival.

View to the left. Pretty early on in the day and a decent start on the crowd.

This is my most recent show in Milford, OH, at the 6th Annual Art Affaire at the Promont House Museum. This show did not have the benefit of the weather holding off, nor did it have sufficient parking or a big crowd and my sales were decent, but I really like the way my booth is shaping up here. I'm starting to try to achieve more of a boutique feel. I think it's getting there!

I have only 3 shows left at this point: one more West Chester Art Market, Art Off Pike and the Autumn Air Art Fair, which will be a new one for me. Hopefully October and November continue the upward trend. It will be a busy couple of weeks for me getting ready!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The basement just got a lot hotter.

Meet my new friend: the Paragon SC-3 kiln.

Ever since I started working with PMC a couple years ago, I've tossed around the idea of owning my own kiln. Previously, I would have to form my pieces, prep them for firing and then drop them off at a local bead store and pay to have them fired. After running into some, let's call them scheduling issues with firings, I swore them off and pretty much stopped working with PMC. (Heck, I pretty much stopped shopping there. Anyway...)

Back in June I received an email from a nice lady over at Metal Clay Supply who informed me that they had received a few factory reconditioned SC-2 kilns at a discounted price and that it was first come, first served to buy them. Well, I responded quickly, but didn't get one, but I was kept on the list in case they received any others. I didn't give it much more thought until I got another email saying they got a few SC-3 kilns instead for just a bit more. Well, I jumped on that offer! It is likely more kiln than I need, but then it gives me room to expand into other areas if I want to get into fusing glass or things like that later.

I won't lie, I was a bit scared to use it at first. I mean, these things get into 1000's of degrees. Well I read the manual and did some online research for the best way to safely set-up and operate it. I ended up buying a couple 18 inch square ceramic tiles to set it on, on top of a sturdy cabinet in our basement. I had to do some much needed tidying up too, while I was at it, so there was a clear safety area of non-combustibles around it. (See, using words like combustibles makes me nervous!) We had been experiencing some severe storms all week too, and I didn't want to start a batch and then lose power. Naturally when I turned on the kiln, the lightning started. But it made it through, thankfully!

Programming it was a breeze, basically like using an oven. You set the speed, temperature and hold time. Easy! Somehow I got the idea that it would take hours to fire a batch of silver PMC. This is incorrect. In fact, my PMC3 took a mere 25 minutes of the kiln being used - from start up to completion of firing. I did leave it in idle overnight to cool. I didn't even open it until the morning, but the temperature continued to decline the rest of the evening.

Here was the first batch when I opened up the kiln. As you can see, I have plenty of room in there.

I love how pearlescent the pieces look when they come out of the kiln.

Some polishing and burnishing (my next purchase might just be a tumbler/polisher!)

And a little patina added to most of the pieces.

This is the first piece I've listed in my etsy shop. It's called Tapestry and you can find it here. I'm thrilled with the results and I'm sure this is just the first of many new PMC creations to come.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A fabulous time.

Ahh... Las Vegas... Absolutely my favorite place to visit. We just returned from a little 4 night trip late last Thursday night. We had plans for my niece and her friend to join us and that fell through. Then we had plans for friends to join us and that also fell through. Well, of course we decided to just go it alone!

This, our 10th visit, finally found us at that landmark sign! I have been bugging my husband to take me there for, oh, I don't know, 9 trips? I realize it's touristy and cheesy, but I just wanted to see it in person and get a few photos. Our flight arrived late (11:15 pm) and my husband surprised me with a hired car pick up, instead of the usual cab ride to the hotel.

Vic, our driver, first took us to In-N-Out Burger at Dean Martin and Tropicana (which, at 11:30 pm, was absolutely packed!), and then on to the famous sign for some photos. I apologize as I'm not quite sure how to operate the camera successfully at night, but here we are at the sign!

We stayed at the Planet Hollywood this time, a first for us. At check-in, we tried the $20 tip trick, and we got upgraded to a Resort Room with a strip view of the Bellagio fountains! Fools that we are, we were never in the room a single time when the fountains were going. Nice. lol This is the fantastic view from our room of Paris and Caesars Palace. The Bellagio is off to the left behind the balloon.

The trip highlights this time included making our way to the new Cosmopolitan, which is absolutely beautiful and finding their secret hidden pizza place, which was phenomenal -- I had the white pizza, my husband had the meatball, sausage and pepperoni. We took in the Cirque du Soleil show LOVE at the Mirage, the Beatles themed one. That was great, not my favorite Cirque show, but awesome none the less. We checked out Encore, which we hadn't seen last May and had dinner at the award-winning Steakhouse at Circus Circus. As much as I enjoyed dinner there, our steaks were not cooked correctly and, well, we had to go to Circus Circus to eat. Not something I'd really recommend, but I'm glad we tried it. All-in-all, not a great gambling trip for us, but we had a good time and enjoyed some good food.

Our trip wouldn't be complete without a whacky non-sequitur photo, so here are Vic (our driver) and myself at the sign, pretending like we go way back. Silly.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New pieces, new treasuries.

Lucky me! Two of my newer pieces are in treasuries! Check them out:

The first one "Meet me at midnight party..." was put together by BrotherWorks, which features my Bordeaux ruby necklace and is quite lovely. Really great color scheme with the pops of red against the subtle grays.

Next we have "Mmmm… Earthy", a beautiful bright and colorful one put together by CandiceChetta. She included my Rivulet turquoise earrings. It feels so cheerful and summery!

Please stop by and visit the treasuries and the two shops! One of these days, I may end up on the front page... :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adventures in metal.

Last year around this time I was searching for a class in metalsmithing. I actually found one that I wanted to take, but it was full and registration was closed. I put it on my trusty google calendar to look for this year.

When January rolled around, I was on it like a hawk! I registered and paid for my 3-day workshop, Basic Metalsmithing Techniques, the day it opened up. I was so excited. Then the waiting started. Waiting for confirmation that there were enough interested students. Then waiting for the supply list to be released in April. And, of course, waiting for June 24. Waiting, waiting, waiting!

Well, I'm not one to wish away spring, that's for sure, but I was happy when my weekend finally came up. It was Friday evening, all day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday. I was nervous too. I've never used a torch, a belt sander, a rolling mill... I could go on. That's why I was taking the class though. There were 12 students total, a couple of them were in the same newbie boat as me. Our instructor was a gem, no pun intended. She is an awesome artist and just an awesome person! Her name is Ginger Seiple, you can google her to see her gorgeous jewelry.

We spent the weekend watching Ginger's demos, learning to properly handle and use various tools and completing some of our very own projects. It was really a ton of fun. I'm really glad I put my fears aside (those of setting myself on fire with the torch, cutting myself with the saw or hammering my fingers... lol) because I got so much out of the class!

This is what my workbench looked like towards the beginning of the class. We worked mostly in copper and brass as it is simply cheaper than sterling silver at the moment and not as painful if you mess something up. Not a problem to me, I'm a copper fan. Brass, not so much, but it was good to have the mixture at times.

This is my first soldered piece! A pendant. I believe it will eventually live on a leather cord, just have to make a clasp. This one is textured brass (palm) on top of copper, which I textured with the rolling mill, and a hammered piece of bronze wire that I drilled to serve as the bail.

My first ring! We were given the option to work in sterling silver for the rings, and, well, I am a silver girl, so I did opt for it. I love the mixed metals here as well. I textured the cup with one hammer and gave the band a different hammered finish. This one is not perfectly round, but, what can I say, it was my first attempt!

This is probably my favorite piece. I had the half drilled pearl from one of our Vegas trips where I stopped at the Pearl Factory. I thought of it on Saturday night as I was driving home, and I thought I'd take it in Sunday for our ring projects. I really love the way it turned out and I've gotten several compliments on it and the other ring. I would look for some rings in my Etsy shop in the near future. Yes, they will be round. :)

In the end, I faced one of my all-time biggest fears: public speaking. Since I was new to Craftsummer, Ginger asked if I would address the group of all of the classes taking place that weekend, telling them about my experience. I guess it was around 48 people. I couldn't tell her no, so I sucked it up and made it through okay. It really wasn't so bad, I guess. Wouldn't want to do that for a living though!

On top of all of that, I ordered a kiln on Friday before class! More to come later on that lucky deal!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two shows in a row.

Well, that was brave. Maybe bordering on crazy. In my wisdom, I decided this year it would be a good idea (for some reason) to do back to back shows. One on Sunday, the next on the following Saturday. It's not that it turned out poorly, it just added a little bit of stress to my week in between. After the previous week's successful show, I was down 11 pieces, so I was scurrying around all week like a mad woman trying to get some new ones made!

This time around it was the 7th Annual Village Green Fine Art Fair in Fairfield, Ohio. It was my first time at this venue. Again, great organizer, lots of help unloading and setting up. One little snag: it was raining when I left the house and it didn't stop until about an hour or so in, and then really just tapered off to a drizzle. Now, it wasn't pouring or anything and, thankfully, not storming. Just enough to be kind of a pain for setting up the tent. Once the tent was up, thanks to the help of Mike, one of the awesome volunteers, it really wasn't too bad.

Then there was some waiting for shoppers. And more waiting. Finally the weather started to break and it cleared up somewhat. At least it stopped raining. By mid afternoon, the sun was shining and all was well. I had decent sales, although my first was a pair of earrings around 11:30 and then I didn't have another until about the last 45 minutes or so. Two lovely ladies came by on recommendation of their daughters who told me earlier "they would love your stuff!" Thank you, daughters, for sending me your moms! They purchased six pieces between the two of them. And then another browser from earlier came back to purchase a pair of earrings she had convinced herself she had to have! Love it!

A rainy view from my booth. The park was very pretty... look at those lush hostas! They didn't mind the rain.

This is the lady's booth from next door to mine, Jan West. She made these incredible sculptures out of used bailing twine (used to bail hay). Upcycling at it's best, I'd say. Kids were delighted that they were allowed to touch and pet these creatures. Jan says they are made to go outside and that they elements won't hurt them. Very cool garden art!

This is their adorable pup, Maggie, who was best in show. Okay, okay, Jan's booth won best in show, but Maggie's pretty darn cute!

Jan ended up taking home best in show as well as the people's choice award. She was so surprised. It was very cool and she and her husband and dear little Maggie made nice neighbors!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Third time's a charm.

This year marked the 3rd Annual Trillium Art Fair at Glenwood Gardens, which was also my third year as a participant. Once again we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day, this time only around 80º – perfect for meandering around an outdoor event. This was very fortunate, as from what I was told, it had been in the 90ºs and very humid all week leading up to the fair.

If you caught my previous post, you know we were enjoying Hilton Head Island up until Saturday. When we arrived home Saturday evening, I unpacked the car from vacation and then packed up the car for the show the following morning. I thought it may have been the wrong decision to book a show for the day after arriving home, but I was actually well-rested and prepared. I actually had gotten a couple new pieces made during the long car ride, so I was A-okay.

People seem to come out to this show to actually spend. My sales were over $330 for the day, so I was very pleased. Volunteers and park employees were their normal helpful selves giving artists a hand with set up and tear down. This is just a wonderful show for artists as far as I'm concerned and I hope to be back again next year!

I had the same area as my previous two years and here are a couple views from my booth:

And here is my ever-evolving new set up. I finally broke down and bought a rotating earring display. I don't know what I was waiting for – I love it! It's so much easier than the frames I was using prior to this and is much easier to store, pack and transport. And, it enhances my booth, giving it a more professional look. Perhaps next will be a new necklace display.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Lowcountry vacation.

I've always stumbled on the word 'Lowcountry' whenever I've seen it in print, always mispronouncing it in my head as 'low county'. Having just returned from a week on Hilton Head Island, I decided I should find out what that actually means. It was driving me a little crazy seeing it all over down there! Turns out it is "a geographic and cultural region located along South Carolina's coast", says Wikipedia.

Well, enough of that. Let's get to the highlights and photos.

My husband and I piled into my in-laws' mini-van along with one of his sisters. We met his other sister, her husband and their little boy, as well as his brother and his wife at the Shelter Cove Mariott on Saturday evening. We picked up a stack of pizzas that night from a local favorite, Giuseppe's, there in Shelter Cove, and had a family game night as we got settled in for the week. Delicious! I loved the white pizza.

While we were out driving around, we stopped to snap a pic of these amazing trees! Not sure what type they are or what causes them to grow in such interesting shapes, but they were all over and just so cool looking!

Pelicans, I believe.

Throughout the week, we had a nice mix of going to the beach, which was waaaay across the street, and using the resort's pool. For the most part, we all took turns cooking dinner, but a few nights my husband and I went out to sample the local restaurants. (Note: I do not care to cook or eat 'at home' on vacation!) We visited Stacks for breakfast, The Smokehouse for bbq, San Miguel's for (not so authentic) Mexican and One Hot Mama's for more bbq.

On Tuesday, the guys all went on a chartered fishing trip, so the girls decided to head to a spa for massages. We ended up at Fountain Spa and I had a most wonderful deep tissue/Thai yoga massage with Marty. It was spectacular and I would recommend him, and given the chance I would go back! We hit the Tanger outlets, where we all found a few good deals.

Thursday morning we went on a 2 hour kayak tour with Outside Hilton Head. Our guide was Jason Z., and he did a really nice job of explaining the eco-system of the Broad Creek – from the oyster beds to the grasses and birds. We saw a dolphin almost immediately after getting out there, who hung around playing in the water for most of our tour. I only wish I had brought along my camera, but, it's not waterproof. That afternoon, my husband and I went to the island's bead shop, High Tide Beads, where I found a nice selection of Thai silver that I hadn't seen before in any shop around me. The ladies in there were very friendly and helpful. While we were in that plaza, we noticed a frozen yogurt place, Delisheee-Yo. We thought it was time for an afternoon snack. It was fantastic! Tart frozen yogurt with a good selection of fruits, candies and sauces for toppings. Yum!

For our last night, my husband and I headed out to One Hot Mama's because we had read that the bbq was good there. We shared a ribs and brisket platter. Oh my goodness! It was fantastic! We found out that the owner, Mama Orchid, is a finalist on Food Network Star. She happened to be chatting with some guests at the table behind us. Well, I would certainly recommend checking that place out if you like bbq!

Saturday morning I just happened to wake up earlier than I needed to, so I walked out on our balcony and snapped a couple pics of the sunrise over Broad Creek. Good morning, Hilton Head! Thanks for a lovely week!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feel the breeze...

I just love the soft feel of this cool-as-a-summer-breeze treasury. My Verdant earrings in turquoise and fine silver are included in it, thanks to Leah over at StudioZen. Stop by her shop and check out her lovely nature inspired works of art! It's such an adorable shop!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day coincides with Good Friday this year and I was fortunate enough to have the day off work. I ran a couple errands, one of which was hauling my 17 lbs. of crushed aluminum cans at the local recycling center. They bump the price a little in their customers' favor in honor of Earth Day, and being that it's just my husband and I, we collect cans all year for it.

Upon my return home, I happened to gaze out my upstairs window and spotted some of these lovely lavender blooms on one of my perennial geraniums. With all of the rain we've had this spring, my gardens are looking so lush and full, especially given how early it still is.

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring has sprung!

Well, I think it's here! Spring! After what seemed like an endless winter, I actually got out and mowed the grass today. Though I'm not entirely thrilled about that chore, it was nice to get out in the sunshine in the green grass and smell the fresh blooming viburnum. Its tiny white flowers are just beginning to open and they are so fragrant. It's a heavenly scent. Yum!

This little tuft of daffodils popped up out of nowhere this year. Light buttery color and it seems to be one of the double ones. I couldn't have picked a prettier plant. I guess I have the birds, chipmunks or squirrels to thank for that random planting.

This is the crabapple tree just starting to bloom. So bright and pretty!

I did add a pretty new necklace to my shop today as well, called Peony. Appropriate for springtime, I think. There were Peony earrings already in my shop, so I figured it would be nice to offer a matching necklace. Either would make a perfect Mother's Day gift!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whew! That was fast!

Wow, I just listed these earrings tonight and I happened to check my activity feed and there they were in this lovely, springy treasury! It really has a nice feel, and I thank WeekendVintage for including me! Please stop by and check out all of the yellow and grey items if you have a chance!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Say it ain't snow!

Well, spring is right around the corner, but winter decided to show itself one more time – at least – before it retreats for the season. We aren't supposed to get more than a dusting, so it should be letting up soon. It's supposed to be sunny and around 50º tomorrow. With that said, I find myself more able to appreciate its beauty. It sure is sparkly sitting atop the bare tree limbs and bushes. Tomorrow, I will enjoy the sun. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's what's on the inside that counts.

I was attending one of the traveling bead shows over the weekend and came across a booth (EarthArt) selling all sorts of mineral specimens and geodes. They had the coolest thing where you could pick a rock from various bins and the guy running the booth would load it into a vice-like contraption. He would then give it a couple clicks with a socket wrench and the rock would crack. (You can see the crack above if you look closely.) Once cracked, it was carefully handed back to its purchaser to be opened to reveal the jewels inside.

It was very exciting and I got a bit carried away with it. When I took the two home that I purchased on Saturday for $5 each and shared the calcite, smoky quartz and amethyst with my husband, he asked me to get a couple of the $10 ones on Sunday. No problem! They are just so cool. I have no idea what I'll do with them, but I got some nice ones!

This is one of the Los Choyas ones. It contains chalcedony and smoky quartz (if I remember correctly).

Another Los Choyas, this is one of the beautiful amethyst ones I picked.

This type looked so different on the outside from the others. They reminded me of potatoes in in both color and texture. This one is Moroccan and contains quartz. Very beautiful!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I do weddings!

I love when people find my shop. I'm always so curious as to how it happens and I rarely find out. I know I need to educate myself more on how Google Analytics can work for me. I seem to get quite a few shoppers who are first-time Etsy buyers, which intrigues me even more. Were they browsing, searching categories...?

This week I received a convo from a very sweet bride-to-be who said she adored my necklace entitled Lightness. She was wondering if I truly only had one available or if she could order more of them. Naturally, I replied telling her I would check my supplies, but was fairly certain I could accommodate her order. She wanted 5 of them!

It's always a bit nerve-racking for me to be at work, away from my supplies or sold orders because I want to be home, designing or shipping right then! But I had to wait. I ordered some back-up pearls though, just in case. Checked my supplies at home and found I had all I needed to make the necklaces. When I contacted my shopper, she had seen a pair of ametrine earrings in my shop and decided to change the lemon quartz to ametrine instead.

I am thrilled with the results! It's a lovely stone and it pairs so well with the little oblong white pearls. Perfect for a spring wedding!

This is the 3rd wedding for which I've designed bridesmaid jewelry and it is certainly an area where I'd like to have more sales. I enjoy creating something a little different for the brides, and they seem to enjoy having input in the design process. It makes a wonderful and memorable gift to the bridesmaids, who are usually dear friends or siblings!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A very cheerful treasury.

I just checked my activity feed and found that my Peppertree bracelet has been included in a nice, bright and springy treasury put together by birdsoforegon. I love how happy it feels. Here is a peek at it and if you'd like to shop the other sellers, check it out here on Etsy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The incredible, handy egg.

I've wanted to play around with oxidizing—intentionally darkening— some silver pieces for a while now. About a year or so ago (probably longer, now that I think about it) I bought a small rock of liver of sulfur from an Etsy seller with every intention of testing it out on a small batch of silver. Well, I never got around to it and, long story short, it had gone bad by the time I tried it. "Yeah, that happens after a while..." my husband informed me. (Helpful now, honey, thanks. lol)

Well, I was working on a custom PMC piece for a friend to give to his wife for Christmas and that was going to be the piece that I successfully oxidized. To the Etsy forums! I had read before about using eggs to oxidize silver, so figured what the heck, I'd give it a try. It's really simple, actually. And not toxic. And not to mention good in salads.

The photos are from a new batch I just did the day before yesterday. You simply put your pieces to be oxidized into an airtight container—I prefer a clear one because I can check on them without disturbing them too soon. I used two eggs. You want the water to boil before adding them and then boil them for about 15 minutes or so. Once hard boiled, remove them with a spoon from the water and cut them open with a knife, quickly transferring them into the airtight container, sealing the lid. You want to move quickly because the heat and steam help the sulfur from the yolks darken your pieces.

Once they get to the desired darkness, you remove the lid, clean the egg off of the pieces by rinsing and wiping with a paper towel and then use very fine steel wool (I believe I used 0000 grade) to remove the oxidation in the raised parts of the pieces as you like.

I actually tried this batch first, removing the whites from the eggs once boiled, but they cooled too quickly that way and mostly my pieces just turned a funky yellowish color. Not very attractive. I boiled a couple more and just halved them and put them in the container and had much better, darker results.

These are a few of the pieces all polished up using steel wool. I imagine I will keep practicing, but I'm really happy with the results overall!


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