Friday, June 13, 2008

Bead Star

It's been a while since I've posted. I've kind of been overwhelmed by trying to keep my shops going, work, create and do shows every weekend! Today, however I have some exciting news. Yesterday I found out that I am a finalist in the metals category of the Bead Star contest. First prize is a trip to a bead show in Sante Fe and a $1500 bead shopping spree from Fire Mountain. The top five entries in each of the nine categories will also be featured in Bead Star magazine to be published in December of this year.
Star of India
Please take a trip over to Beading Daily's Bead Star and cast your vote. I'm number 17 in the metals category. You get to vote for your favourite in each of the nine categories. Come on and send me to Santa Fe, Mama needs a new pair of beaded shoes!

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Many Ideas...So Little Time

It's been crazy busy lately. Either that or it's just taking me an awfully long time to get anything done. Actually I think it's a combination of the two. My chronic fatigue has kicked up big time in the last couple of weeks. I'm trying to scale back and conserve energy but, in the words of Oklahoma's Ado Annie, "I'm just a girl who can't say no!" Well, I'm working on it...getting better at it, but still a work in progress.

One good side effect of working on conserving energy is that I've been able to make a few pieces of jewelry I really like. The process just takes me to another, more peaceful, place. I know that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I just need to pick up some beads or clay and I'll feel better. Here are my latest creations:

Barnacles Bangles and Necklace

Aztec Bracelet

One very exciting thing happened for me last week. I logged in to my email and checked out the latest edition of Beading Daily and, lo and behold, there I was! A while ago I had sent in a response to a request for music inspired jewelry pieces. My friend Mary and I had designed and made pendants for the 60+ members of our choir. She had shown me her design for a treble clef pin and I had the idea of attaching two treble clefs, reversing the orientation, and then we had SS for our phenomenal women's choir, Shout Sister. We are led by the very talented Juno award winner Georgette Fry. The selection of music is quite meaningful and special, and when our voices come together we seem to transcend the daily grind and all things seem possible. Here is an example of the pendant and earrings I made myself:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

401 Thinktank

This is a pretty busy week, so I probably won't get a chance to create much. Of course, now that I have my computer back, I am also spending far too much time on it.

I have a few ideas clanking around in my head. On the weekend I couldn't sleep one night, so I got up and sketched out some ideas for polymer toggles. I conditioned the clay, so now I just need to set aside some time to try them out.

My best ideas, however, seem to come while flying along on the 401. It was a beautiful drive back from Kingston today. The sun was shining, some Spanish guitar was playing on the car stereo, and visions of polymer clay danced in my head. I have a cheap watch that I really like. It is a cuff style made of engraved coppery colour rectangles. Every time I look at it I think about making a polymer clay tile bracelet in a similar style. Well the rest of the idea has gelled, so I best get a sketch made up before I lose it.

The latest idea this evening came from an alchemy bid on some dangly circle earrings I was preparing for ETSY. By the time I had completed the sketch to send with my bid, the bid had closed. I got a good idea out of it anyhow. I'm finding that happens a lot. I prepare a bid for someone's request and, whether or not my bid is successful, the potential customer has inspired a new idea. I hadn't anticipated that side benefit.

I happened upon a new artisan show in Ottawa next month. On Sunday I just found it by chance, and the deadline for applications is Thursday. Thankfully I already had some photos prepared from other applications so I was able to express it yesterday. If I get in that will be my first show. I'm looking forward to finding out if people who are in the market for artisan jewelry will actually buy mine. On Etsy and Icraft finding me is like finding a needle in a haystack so, like many, I have had very few sales there. I have made some sales to friends and acquaintances, but not enough to be confident that I can really make a go of this. I get a great many admirers, but not so many buyers. Are they just being polite, or will they actually remember me and make a purchase when they are looking for a gift or accessory? I figure the craft and art shows should give me a better idea of what I am doing right and what I need to improve.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm Back!

Well, all doubt has been removed. I am truly addicted to the computer! She went in for surgery on Tuesday and I picked her up on Saturday morning. I just didn't know what to do with myself being so out of touch and short on information for a few days. She was really infested with viruses. I knew there was one I was unable to get rid of, but suspected there were more. I always run with my Sympatico virus, spyware and firewall protection on. I scanned using Symantec as well and she came up clean. I suspected internet explorer was the backdoor they were using, as I had been getting a lot of errors and it would not let me upgrade to version 7. I'm now using Firefox, on the advice of my rescuer Roxie.

One good thing to come out of it all is that, with no computer to update my stores and blog or shop or browse, I had more time for creating new jewelry. Here are some pics of this week's crop:

Tuesday night I attended a marketing workshop put on by the Thousand Islands Art Guild. Lindsey Fair was the guest speaker and, having heard her speak before, I wasn't disappointed. I have applied to the guild, so it was nice to meet a few of the members as well. I have to be juried in, and they indicated that they are trying to raise the price point on their studio tours, so I'll have to come up with some more intricate and artsy pieces of I want to participate. I've seen other artists online here charging quite a bit more for pieces that are similar to mine in terms of craftsmanship and overall design, but then I've also seen some advertised for much less. What to do, what to do? In my Etsy and Icraft store the above pieces are going for $70 for the necklaces and $30 for the rings and earrings. I'd appreciate some feedback in terms of price point if you would like to leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

These Things Will Never Catch On!

Years ago, when I first subscribed to the internet, my husband always said that it was just a passing fad and that, regarding computers, "These things will never catch on!" Well to begin with, he forgets that I "caught" him when we worked at the same plant, by teaching him how to use email. Here we are, 18 years later, and not only have they caught on, but we (including Mr. pessimistic) have a difficult time getting by without them.

I have been fighting a battle, and losing, with a virus that has rudely infected my oh so well protected computer. It has eaten up a huge amount of time over the last week, as it really@#$$%^$ me off that I can't find and fix the problem myself! I just keep trying one more thing, that leads to one more thing.... Yesterday as I was trying to update this blog, it froze my computer yet again. Well, I finally had to call in the big guns, and the baby goes to the computer hospital later today. I hope she doesn't catch an anti-virus resistent infection while she is there!

So since I last wrote on Friday, I completed the Swarovski ring for my colleague. I actually made two, as I thought the first one was too wide, so I wanted to give her a choice. She ended up picking the narrower one. That would have been my pick. She was quite pleased and, although she originally ordered it to give to her daughter, she's thinking now that she'll keep it herself.

My chronic fatigue seems to have the best of me these days. I don't have enough energy to start many new jewelry projects lately. This disease is a tough one for we recovering type A's. Everything in me says: "work harder", "do more", " if you aren't doing more than you did yesterday then you're just selfish and lazy" and on and on. I'm getting much better at not getting sucked in by these messages, and I'm learning to listen to my body, but damn I wish I could turn off that relentless tape that keeps playing in my head.

Well, off to plan some April Fools pranks!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Things Are Looking Up

I got a little more business this week.

One of my colleagues had an amethyst ring she had inherited from her Grandmother and knew she would never wear. She asked me to make her a pendant from the stone. The ring also contained six little diamonds. The diamonds were too small for me to wrap, so I made a polymer clay pendant and embedded them in that. The wrap for the amethyst is the most challenging I have done so far, the design is from Mavis Llewellyn. I'm pleased with the result. It is slightly off center, but I think it looks pretty good.

Another colleague admired one of my rings this week and has ordered one in, coincidently, Swarovski amethyst for her daughter. This one was my original design, so I'm quite happy with that sale.

My chronic fatigue has gotten the best of me this week, so I've been taking it pretty easy. I don't have anything planned for the weekend, so resting and jewelry making are foremost on my agenda. I also got some a new set of pearlex that I can't wait to get into. I used some on the diamond pendant yesterday, but I think I'll enjoy doing some experimenting over the weekend.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that as yet I had not made any online sales, with the exception of my very supportive sister. I just felt that as an artist I needed a little validation. Well, I logged into my Etsy account last night, and lo and behold I had made an honest to goodness sale! I am sooo grateful. That really gave me a boost.

I spent the majority of last night working on updating the Clayamies website. I'm a real newbie in the webpage design business so it's taking a while for this old brain to figure it all out!

On the personal side, having had a pretty rough couple of days, my New Years resolution to swear off sugar took a beating. Of course there was dessert and chocolate to be had at Easter dinner. Normally abstaining has not been a problem for me, but I had a little what the hell come over me and scarfed down quite a bit of chocolate! I hadn't had so much as a crystal of sugar since December. Oh well, as they say, one day at a time. I really do believe that, like alcohol, sugar is real poison to me.

Today I'm off to see a movie with the girls, and then it's back to the books to get ready for my classes this week.

Here's to asking and receiving!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Girl's Inc Auction

I accomplished a fair bit this weekend. My first priority was to create something special for the Girls Inc (Big Sisters) Silent Auction held in May at the Thousand Islands Mall in Brockville. I have been itching to use some of those beautiful Malachite/Amazonite stones I got at Bead Oasis in Toronto last weekend. Wire wrapping with sterling silver offsets the deep blue/green colours nicely.

Most of my pieces for the Clayamies spring flower swap are complete now. I'm pretty satisfied, but I'm not all that keen on how the second colour combination came out. I'm sure they'll be appreciated anyhow.

Last weekend on the train home from Toronto I started a peyote stitch necklace. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. The colours just scream Spring, which mirrors my soul who is also screaming for Spring! This was my first attempt at polymer clay toggles. I think it suits the necklace much better than the tibetan silver one I would have used otherwise.

I'm still slowly adding myself to free classifieds online. I got a bite on one I had placed for the Toronto area. They requested more info, which I sent, so I hope they follow through and come back to buy. I could really use a boost. I've been working pretty hard at getting my business off the ground and haven't had a lot of sales yet. I know that the groundwork I am laying is important, and that building a clientel takes time, but the impatient artist in me is ready for a little validation!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just Clayin Around

Well it appears that I've become a little lax in keeping up with my blog, so here's a little update. Last night I spent the night in the Sleep Lab. It's really a misnomer, as with all those wires hooked up to you, flow sensor up your nose, and straps around your chest and belly, you don't get a heck of a lot of sleep! I hope they got enough data to explain why I've suddenly become an ultimate fighter in my sleep and that they can tell me a way to fix it.

I've been working mostly on the items for the clayamies spring flower swap. I think I've got the kinks worked out of the design now. Another batch is in the oven as I write this.

This promo thing is really eating up a huge amount of time. I've been trying to get myself on any search engines and free advertisements that I can. There are endless opportunities, but it sure takes a lot of time. I think I'll treat myself to a break from that this long weekend and do some serious jewelry making instead!

I've promised a jewelry set for the Girls Inc. silent auction, and I really want to make them something special. Maybe I'll get inspired this weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is There Anybody Out There ?

Yesterday it was Hi-Ho Hi-Ho Back To Work I Go. The kids in my class were still pretty wound up from their March break. I'm sure they'll be more settled today. We are doing experiments today and tomorrow, so I know they'll enjoy seeing all the pretty colours formed in the chemical reactions.

I've volunteered to take over maintenance of our Clayamies website, so in the last week I have been figuring out FTP and trying to work with some free web design software. I went to see the computer teacher yesterday and he set me up with Dreamweaver so that I can learn how to use it and eventually set up a website for my class. Dreamweaver is MUCH better than the free one. Any problems from here on in my students will be happy to help me with. I like having them teach me from their areas of expertise. I find it helps to make them more receptive to learning from my expertise.

The computer teacher also showed my how to add my url to google so that I can increase the chances of jewelry shoppers finding this needle in a haystack. While I was at it I signed up for Google Adwords, so I'm optimistic about increasing the traffic both here and in my etsy store.

I participated in my first online chat with my Clayamies group last night. That was fun. It's great to be able to meet like minded people from all over the country. There are some extremely talented artists in the group. Check out:

Last night I worked a little on the flowers for our current Clayamies swap. I should have more time later today. I know I've mentioned that I LOOOOOVE beads, but did I also mention that I LOOOOOVE clay?


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Heaven on Earth

Yesterday was a big day! I went to Toronto and back, spending over six hours on the train, to attend the Bead Oasis show. It was worth every second of travel time. There were not any really great deals to be had, but with my wholesale discount I faired not too badly. I bought quite a bit from one vendor in particular. out of Markham Ontario had some really nice cuts on some of their stones. One particularly beautiful combination he had was amazonite and malachite. Here are some pics of my purchases.
Blue Goldstone Twists

Carnelian Faceted Rondelles

Yellow and Green Turquoise Teardrops (dyed howlite)

Amazonite/Malachite Graduated Rondelles and Ovals

The colours and textures at the show got me so fired up, I had to buy some brightly coloured seed beeds, needles and fireline to bead on the way home on the train. Imagine these 42 year old eyes trying to thread the needle, several times, as the train bumped and rolled along! It made the time pass much faster than usual, but needless to say, that project is still a work in progress.

Finally, here is a pic of the bracelet I made on Friday night. I just felt the need to make something Springy, so my limey coloured polymer clay beads coupled with gold filled wire did the trick.
LI'mA Fashionista

Ciau for now!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Bead A Day...

Yesterday I had an appointment in Ottawa, so of course I had to make a little stop at Sassy Beads on Bank Street. Being surrounded by all those colours and textures feeds my soul. I kept telling myself that, since I'm headed off to Toronto tomorrow to the Bead Oasis show, I really shouldn't buy anything. Did I listen to that little voice? Noooooooo! I don't think I've ever left a bead store without buying something. I was, however, more restrained than usual. Mostly I got seed beads (on sale...could I really afford not to buy?) and stringing material, but here are a couple of beads that begged me to take them home, which of course I did. Hey... maybe I could start an SPCB to rescue stray and abused beads.

Here are some pics of the necklace and earrings I made on Wednesday. I really love the carnelian/copper combination. They're pretty conservative for me, but I guess even Radicals have their conservative moments. I think I'll do another necklace like this one, but shorten up the distances between bead groupings.

Well, off to enjoy the sun while it lasts here in relentlessly snowy Ontario!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Got My Fix

Well I did manage to squeeze in a little creative time today after all. It was a pretty busy day, but in the end I really needed to get my fix so I made a necklace and earrings. I haven't taken any pictures yet, but when I do I'll post them. I'm taking the advice of some of my fellow Etsians and trying to use natural light whenever possible. That means waiting until tomorrow.

My youngest cat needed dental surgery today, and I needed to have some blood drawn, so the three cats and I were all fasting last night. I thought the two big cats were going to eat the skinny old fellow! They were not impressed. Turns out my fasting was unproductive, as after seven tries to get some blood out of me we finally gave up to try again next week.

I then headed off to a Tax seminar for small business. Our small business enterprise center really puts on some good ones. I went to a marketing and networking one about a month ago and it was fabulous. Today's topic of course was not as interesting, but the presenter was quite funny and basically let us all ask any and all tax related questions we had. I learned a fair bit, and I had already been to one at Revunue Canada.

Saturday I am off to the Bead Oasis show in Toronto. I can't wait. Being surrounded by and having the opportunity to handle such an enormous quantity and variety of beads is my idea of heaven! My cat's dental surgery and urinary tract blockages this month used my bead budget, so I'll have to restrain myself. I'm sure I won't be able to get out of there without buying a few things anyhow.

Well, off to figure out how to use my new web page design software.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Well I didn't get to work any further on my Priorities Pendants today, but I did consolidate my ideas and have a better idea of where I will go from here. I met my friend Alison for lunch and, while she liked the idea, she thought the name could be better. Priorities does sound an awful lot like work doesn't it? I'm now thinking Self Actualization Mandalas.

Alison and I always have great talks when we get together, and I learn a lot about art through the benefit of her knowledge and experience. We went to the college and toured the new gallery. Many of my former pottery teachers had work on display. It's just astounding to me how much talent people have. I purchased a bowl and plate from Darlene Keffer. Her work is so elegant and her sense of colour always intrigues me. I've wanted to have one of her pieces for some time now.

The rest of the day was spent doing computer and administrative stuff for my business. The rest of the week will be pretty busy so I probably won't get to do much art wise until Friday.

I did get my order in from beadaholique today. It's like Christmas in March.

Did I mention how much I love beads?

I Loooove Beads!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Well I did manage to get quite a bit of creating time in yesterday on top of setting up this blog. I had an idea a while ago for a pendant I call the Priority Pendant. It has taken me until now to try it out, and I am quite pleased with the results. It's hard for me to judge, however, what might be successful commercially, as my taste is anything but mainstream. Then again, with the widespread access of the web, there have to be at least a few like minded people out there.

The idea was to make a flower with my (your) name in the center and to write my (your) priorities on each of the petals. There are so many times when life gets crazy and I get bogged down in its minutia. Sometimes I just need a visual/tactile cue to become centered and grounded again. The Prioities Pendant is meant to do this.

I began by making Skinner blends for the center and the petals:

I then rolled them so some had a brown center and some a blue center. The blue centered ones were pinched into petal shapes, and then both blends went into the freezer for a while to firm up while I fed my physical body. Next I sliced the canes into round centers and petal shapes and assembled the flowers. The first was far to big, but the second and third sizes I think are both O.K.

Next the flowers were baked for 30 minutes and left to cool overnight.

This morning I wet sanded them.

I then added my chosen priorities. I've been trying to force myself to test small batches of things, as I have a tendancy to just go whole hog, not like the result, and wish I had taken the time to test! Well I did a test by painting some Future floor polish onto some text. It didn't bleed, so I slapped a bunch on my first pendant. Well by then the future on the tester was bleeding! I dumped the pendant in my jewelry cleaner and hoped for the best. It did clean up. Next I tried Sculpey glaze on the tester. It bled too. Finally I tried a layer of liquid Sculpey. That did the trick. I then baked them for another 30 minutes, let them cool, and finally coated them with future. Here is the result:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

And They're Off!

Well here we go! This is my very first post, so I'll give you the Cole's Notes version of what I am up to these days and how this blog was born.

A couple of months ago I started a business designing and selling jewelry. I soon found out that the designing part is a piece of cake, but the selling part is going to take some creative effort. A month ago I decided to tap in to the online market and set up an ETSY store.
Do a search for jewelry with ETSY alone and you get over 17 000 pages of hits! Talk about the proverbial needle in a haystack. Now those on ETSY who have demonstrated success simply swear by blogs as a way to offer potential customers a greater chance of finding you and a glimpse into exactly what makes you tick.

And so...another blog was born.

Prior to beginning my business, I discovered jewelry making in the summer of 2007. I admired a friend's necklace, as I am in love with turquoise. She told me she had made it herself and offered to take me on a spree to the local bead shop and then show me how to make my own. Well the rest is history. I finally, at 42, know what I need to do with my life. I could honestly do this day and night. In fact, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a head full of ideas and simply have to get up and create something.

Now the marketing thing has been seriously cutting into my creating time lately, but I think I've got the shop pretty well set now, so today I create!

Check back tomorrow and see the outcome.