Thursday, March 31, 2011

Going to Ikea? Take some breadcrumbs

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue and cheek look at my life*

The official Ikea map.  Seriously?  I need a map??
I had my first visit to Ikea over the weekend.  A few of my artist friends have mentioned getting some of the art show booth materials (shelving, fabrics, etc.) there, so while I was in Orlando, Florida for other reasons, I decided to stop by and go on a fact finding mission.

Here's a few of my random thoughts from the experience.

  • I should have known that it was going to be an exhausting experience when there's a restaurant in the store.
  • There was a big "START HERE" sign.  Kinda like a race.  Pace yourself.
  • Don't get off the path!!!  There are all sorts of short cuts.  Don't be tempted.  You might want to bypass living rooms only to find yourself making circles for hours.
  • Take breadcrumbs.  They will help you find your place and can serve as a food source in the event of the trip taking longer than expected.
  • The Swedes must be short people.  That's the only way I can possibly explain why the majority of their furniture is only 3 inches off the ground.
  • Just because you can shove a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms into 550 square feet of space doesn't mean that you should.  I would kill somebody by the end of the afternoon.

At the end of the day, I found a few baskets that I liked.  Everything else was just too much.  Can you order online then go pick it up?  That might work.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jewelry displays

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Now that I've got one wholesale show under my belt, I've gotten a pretty good idea about what I want to do for my next wholesale show in Las Vegas in June.  One of my plans is to make my own floor standing pedestal displays made from cardboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF).  I'm not necessarily a do-it-yourselfer, but I weigh the cost versus the time.  In this case, I figured I could get 4 to 6 pedestals for the price of buying one if I did it myself.

My research led to the websites of several large home improvement stores.  I found the MDF I wanted and it came in a 4 foot by 9 foot size.  "Great!" I thought to myself.  That will definitely be enough.  Got my wood working buddy to agree to cut it to size for me, so off I went to Lowe's.

When I got there, I asked for help finding the said 4 foot by 9 foot MDF.  As the very nice men at Lowe's took me there, I had this, "Oh my God, what was I thinking moment".  How the heck did I think I was going to get this home in my vehicle????  (Notice said piece of MDF in the picture.  It's huge!)

I looked at the two Lowe's guys and asked, "Can you guys cut this?"  In a rather confident, respectful tone, one of them answered, "Ma'am, we're Lowes."

Yeah, I should have know they could do it.

So the very nice sales associates at Lowe's cut up my MDF (and thought I was a whack job for taking pictures too).

In the end, I have enough pieces to do 6 pedestals.  Next on the to do list for this project is to order the cardboard. 

Stay tuned......

Friday, March 25, 2011

Easter jewelry pendants

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I just poured these this afternoon.  They will be ready mid next week.  There will be everything from chocolate bunnies to Easter chicks to colorful Easter eggs to wear.

They need 72 hours to completely cure. Then I add the bails to the back which takes another 24 hours. If you see something you would like, drop me an email to  I'll be happy to hold onto it for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Have you seen the price of silver lately??

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue in cheek look at my life.*

If you were anywhere close to me this past Tuesday afternoon, the gasp you heard come out of my mouth would have made you think it was either my last or I had swallowed a Snickers bar whole.  See, I called my casting company to get more silver jewelry made only to find out the price of silver has gone up 20 percent in the last 3 weeks alone.  (You can go to to get historical quotes of all the precious metals.)


While I love making jewelry, one of the things I don't like is how working with precious metals is influenced by people using them as investments.  It puts those of us trying to make a living at this at a sometimes serious disadvantage.  While I realize this falls into the "life happens" category, and while I'm taking steps to minimize the impact to me (and customers), the uncertainty of silver prices is making it harder to plan for the future.  I can't expand with my jewelry business the way I would like to right now if I didn't have to worry about this.  (I've been considering hiring an assistant, but may hold off now, even though I really need one.)

Okay, enough gabbing.  I must get back to scour the studio on my hands and knees to find for more silver to send in for scrap.  (Now I understand why people are into dumpster diving.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Efficient ways to read emails and RSS feeds

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I have a hard time keeping up with all the email I get and blogs I subscribe to.  Some days are better than others, but it seems like when I have several "behind" days in a row, I never get caught up.  I made a "resolution" a couple of weeks ago to handle all my email daily and use google reader to keep up with the blogs I want to read.  (I've got resolution in quotes because I don't really make resolutions.)  This is hard!  Here's what I have found out so far:

  • If I keep up with it daily (or as close to it as I can), it isn't so overwhelming.  Duh!
  • There are some good, informational links about topics I'm interested in if I just take the time to read.
  • For the blogs I really want to make sure I keep up with, I make sure to sign up for an email subscription if it's got one.
  • Unfortunately, there's a lot of crap to sort through sometimes to get to the good stuff.  I've kept up enough with it now that I'm unsubscribing from blogs and email lists that can't send me good and/or useful information on a consistent basis.  (Hmm...note to self, make sure I send people on my list useful information)
  • I'm considering using a RSS reader service that imports the feeds and presents them like they're articles in a magazine.  Might make them more fun to read??
What else do the rest of you do?  Is there anything else that works for you that maybe I should consider as well?

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's spring (in Florida anyway)

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I realize there are still some people digging out from underneath snow banks, but it's spring here in Gainesville, Florida. I'm enjoying all the pretty flowers, shrubs and trees in my yard, that are doing well IN SPITE of anything I do (or don't do).

These are a couple of the Hawthornes in front of my house.  They get the white flowers in the spring and just have the green leaves the rest of the year.

I love the fuschia (did I spell that right) pink on the azaleas.  This year, they're blooming in waves.  One year I was lucky that they all bloomed at once in front of my house.  Wow!

This is more of an orange pink flower on the azaleas on the side of the house.  Still pretty nice, but I like the other pink color better.

The orange blossoms are out on my orange tree.  You truly can't appreciate these without having the opportunity to smell them.  Too bad we don't have "smell-o-vision" yet.

A close up of the orange blossoms.  I had to dodge the bumble bees to get the picture.  They like them too.

As much as I love these, I miss that I don't get to have tulips.  I've heard that I can have them by putting the bulbs in the freezer then planting, but green thumb I AM NOT.  In fact if there was a "plants rights" organization, I would be on their most wanted list.

So what are you most looking forward to see this spring?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jewelry making classes

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I've got three classes scheduled between now and the end of May.  I teach at Gifts of Avalon, Gainesville, Florida. Please call there to speak with someone about registering.

Make forged flower earrings
Monday, April 4, 2011, 6 PM

Learn how to use a hammer and other metalsmithing tools to forge these copper flower earrings in an evening. No experience required.

Recycled earrings 
Monday, May 2, 2011, 6 PM

Make non-traditional jewelry from non-traditional items. Join me for an evening of "upcycled" jewelry making; no experience required.

Copper and brass bracelets
Monday, May 23, 2011, 6 PM

Learn how to use a hammer and other metalsmithing tools to forge a cuff bracelet from copper or jeweler's bronze. Experience helpful, but not required.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This is your brain. This is your brain while multitasking.

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Thank goodness the letters are a bit of mental stimulation.
*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue and cheek look at my life.*

I think my brain gray matter is the consistency of brie cheese.

or vanilla pudding.

or maybe even an ice cream cone that's melted on the seat of the back seat of my car.  (thanks kids)

or maybe soup with a few alphabet letters in it.

I say this because I don't seem to have the attention span to watch anything remotely intellectual on television.  (or at least if anyone has a British accent)

My husband says it's because I do to much multitasking.

Seriously?  So what if I boil and egg, write my next novel, and give myself a manicure at the same time.  (Okay, maybe not a manicure; I'm a pedicure kinda girl.)  Hubby will tell you that if you're going to spend anytime with me at the computer, you'll need to be wearing a seatbelt because you'll get whiplash as I go back and forth between tabs, programs, and "whatever it is that you do".  (That would be the business of art jewelry dear.)

So has all this multitasking melted my brain?  Hmmm.  And to think all this time, I've been blaming it on the sleep deprivation.

L        O         N         G

P   A    U    S    E

Uh, what was a I talking about again?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pantone color chart

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Ever wondered how companies go about picking the colors they do?  There's this neat New Jersey company called Pantone.  It has an official "matching system"  that is used by almost any industry you can think of to standardize color across platforms such as paint, fabric, plastics, etc. (Read more about Pantone on Wikipedia.)  What's cool about this for artists is that each color has a number and letter system.  You can download these colors schemes for use in a photoeditor such as Photoshop.  Then, when you send it off to get printed, the printer has the "official" color formula to create that same color.  The system makes sure you get what you want.

Pantone influences more than what you might realize.  Companies use this color system to decide the colors of everything from kitchen mixers to new cars (and sometimes years in advance).  I had my own little "discovery" with Pantone this week.  I just found out a couple of days ago that Pantone's official "color of the year" is Honeysuckle.  Does this look familiar to you?  It did to me.  I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my new booth design.  Although I didn't "consciously" know about Honeysuckle, I picked that color to be on the table in the center of my resin jewelry booth design.  I was amazed that I had essentially picked that Honeysuckle color. 


Monday, March 14, 2011

Hey baby, let's go to Vegas!

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Excited to announce that my next show will be at ACRE Las Vegas!  You read about my time at the ACRE Orlando show in January, so get ready to hear about Las Vegas!  (Yes, I swear to you I am going for business purposes.)  The show runs from June 5 to June 7.  If you are a wholesale customer and interested in hearing more about the ACRE show, or to get on my wholesale customer mailing list, drop me an email to

Look for more posts between now and June about getting ready for the show!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why are my clothes not coming clean?

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue and cheek look at my life.*

Ok, seriously, I need some help (or at least some validation).  I have a "major namebrand" high efficiency washer.  It was a replacement for a "fill 'er up with water" model.

Not my child or washer/dryer set, but I love the picture.
Here's my problem:  If I don't pretreat my clothes with detergent, the grease stains don't come out.  It doesn't matter if it's a "dab" of olive oil or the oil slicks my kids somehow get into without my knowledge.  They don't come clean.  AARGH!!!!!!!

Seriously people, I need some help.  Here's what I can tell you I've done:

  • I have a water softener that is working.
  • I've tried different soaps. 
  • I don't overload the washer.
  • Water temperature doesn't make a difference.

I'm even inclined to think it's a high efficiency washer issue since I washed a load in a friend's HE washer of a different manufacturer.  (Yes, I'm determined to figure this out.)

Advice please!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Jewelry making class - corrugated mixed metal earrings

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This past Monday night, I taught my first jewelry making class of the year.  I don't know why it had taken me so long to teach again, other than by the time I get it in my mind to get a class, then get it scheduled, it seems a couple of months go by.  Anyway, I had a couple of class regulars, but mostly new people for my mixed metal earrings class.

At left is Kathy, one of the regulars.  She's looking at one of the disc cutters set that we used in class.

Chris is also another one of my regulars.  Sorry Chris, not the best picture I know, but it's the only one I apparently took of you in class.

Dana (far left) and Jodi (left) have bought some of my jewelry before.  I like being able to connect with jewelry customers in a classroom setting as well.

(Don't worry, Dana didn't actually hit her with the mallet.  We do a bit of goofing around.)

In addition to using the metal corrugation tool, we used a disc cutter.  This is one of my favorite tools.  I can't imagine trying to cut circles without it!!

Lindsey was also a newbie to the class.  Quick learner though and she asked good questions.

Kristin, who is friends with Jodi and Lindsey, did good in the class too.  Believe it or not, it's hard for me to create a class that everyone can pick up on in two hours or less.  When I teach, I see how well the students do then tweak future classes.

These are Chris' earrings before she drilled them.  They look like bloodshot eyes after a late night (at least to me anyway).

Jodi is using the center punch to mark her drill holes.  (The metal corrugation tool is just in front of her to her left.)

Kathy went for a "triple threat" of sterling silver, copper, and brass in her earrings.  Pretty cool.

Kristin's finished earrings look like a pro!  (They look great with that purple too.)

A closeup of Lindsey's finished earrings.

Jodi's finished earrings.  Another winner!  I can't believe how great everyone did for being first timers!

Not sure what I was doing, but I didn't get Dana's photographed.  :(

If you want to know about future classes I'm teaching, you can follow this blog, or sign up for my email list (there's a box on the right hand side of this blog) and check the "classes" box to receive email notification when I've got a new class scheduled.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Oranges are ready for juice

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This is my little orange tree.  Actually, he's not so little -- probably about 9 to 10 feet.  He's a Satsuma and he makes oranges.  Satsuma oranges are meant to go for juice.  Their skin doesn't peel easily and there's a lot of pulp.  Unfortunately, he's only got about a third of the oranges he normally has.  While he's pretty tough and a frost doesn't really bother him (except make the leaves on top a bit gnarly), the blossoms don't fare so well.  Last year during the first part of March while the orange blossoms were blooming on the tree, a heavy frost came through and killed the ones that weren't protected.  Since the blossoms serve as the bud for the fruit, that meant few oranges for this year.  (Notice how the oranges we do have are up "under" the branches and leaves?  These are the ones that made it.)

I took this picture as we were pulling off the last of the oranges.  (I normally like to have them off no later than March 1, but got a little behind this year.)   If you notice the white buds that look like unopened tulips, those are the orange blossoms.  The next crop of oranges will grow from these.  Yes, theoretically, there could be an orange for every blossom.  I'm guessing these will be open in a week or so.  The fragrance is just awesome!  The nectar must be good to eat too since we usually see hummingbirds all over the tree when the blossoms are open.

My peeps didn't get them picked as well as the pros do, but they only worked for juice as payment.

At last, juice!  It was a tad tart and had lots of pulp, but was all gone after the squeezing. 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Business podcasts I'm listening to in my iPod shuffle

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I love my cute little iPod shuffle.  I have the older "stick of gum" size, and it's great.  I love how it can fit on my shirt collar.  It's the perfect companion for the studio or on the few occasions that I get to go on a walk.

In addition to listening to music, I like to download podcasts.  I follow the American Express forum business blog of articles, and I have to give them credit for a few podcasts they turned me on to.

APM:  Marketplace
This is a 27 minute or so podcast about current world events and how they relate to business.  A news style show.

Wall Street Journal on Small Business
This podcast is approximately 5 to 7 minutes and offers tips geared at small business owners.  There's also some news thrown in.

Automate my Small Business
These podcasts are much longer, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.  It's two business owners from Southern California giving tips on how to "give up" some of your duties to let your business run more on auto-pilot.  While everything they say may not apply to me, it certainly gets the wheels turning on some things I can do differently in my art business to give me more time to work on art.  *big smile*

All of these podcasts can be found in the iTunes store.

Anyone else have some other suggestions?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Nebraska Art Farm - America's Heartland

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Gotta tell you, I love this video on art and agriculture all in the same place. Take a "5 minute" vacation and watch this. Very cool!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Maybe why artists struggle as business people

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue and cheek look at my life.*

I wish someone would have sent me a memo when your words became worthless.  It certainly would have saved me a lot of time.

I won't get into the details, but I've been working with someone on an art project that requires me to pay her for her services.  What do they call that?   .........  Oh yeah, BUSINESS!  

We agreed that she would make X and I would pay her Y.  So what's a business woman to do when she misquoted her X and I'm still insisting I'm only paying Y?

You pull up the proof. 

Two emails later (where she wrote in HER OWN WORDS that she agrees to X for Y), she's still saying she can't do it for X.

Here's my question:  Do you think I would get arrested for trying to smack some sense into her?

I mean COME ON!.  I hear artists whine that they can't make a living making their art.  Want to consider that it might be something to do with your inept business skills?

I'm curious to hear what others have to say.  I can't be the only one to have had this problem.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Resin jewelry making

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Resin is rather a strange beast.  For any of you who have worked with it for any amount of time, you know what I mean.  You can seemingly do everything right and somehow it doesn't work.  (Enjoy my resin jewelry making mistakes here.)  I've posted some resin jewelry making tips before, but I've recently found a few quirky items to add to the list. 

The resin I've been using for my scrabble pendants mixes in a 1:1 ratio.  It doesn't matter how big a batch I make, but it has to be equal parts.  Most of the time lately, when I've mixed a total amount of 15 milliliters, by the time I get to the end of putting it on pendants, it's starting to get thick and I have a fair share of bubbles to get out of the pendants.  By happy accident one day, I found that if I pour a "smidge" (yes, that's a technical term) less hardener, compared to the resin, it will stay fluid longer, but still cure completely.  That has made it easier for the bubbles to rise on their own, or for me to get them out.

I use a toothpick to dop my resin onto the scrabble tiles.  This may sound incredibly stupid (or intuitive depending who you are), but I have figured out that the toothpick must go straight into the resin, then straight out.  Any slight "scooping" introduces microbubbles into the resin.  Perhaps that's why I had so many to get out to begin with.

Lastly, when I use a straw to get out the bubbles of the poured resin, I have to change it up after two batches.  (I won't talk about the actual technique of doing that because it can be dangerous to your health if you don't do it right.  I know I've got resin jewelry makers that read this blog and I don't want to endanger you.  However, if you watch enough resin jewelry making videos, you will find the technique.)  When I use a straw for more than two batches, there gets to be too much moisture placed on the pendants and they cure slightly tacky on top.

Just when I thought I knew what I was doing, resin once again claims itself as the boss. 
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