Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just Three Little Words.....

I get some of my best ideas at the most inconvenient times.  For example,  I was drowsy in bed, almost asleep, when I got this wonderful, fantastic jewelry design idea!!   I gave it some thought, all excited, and roused Jerry up and told him to remember 3 words for me.. 3 words to jog my memory the next day of this fabulous, possibly my BEST IDEA EVER, which was morally imperative for me to remember and make.


Here's a idea I had that I sketched cause I didn't have it at 1am in the morning.....
and Look! it actually got made!


What, pray tell, is my BEST IDEA EVER?   Regretfully I don't know, because I didn't remember to ask Jerry the next day, and now he can't remember what the 3 words are either.

This burning hole in our memories is driving such fun behavior as Jerry will be talking about something and then just ask, was one of the words a key??

And I'll just be like how the hell should I know???

It's sort of a family joke now, Jerry has offered "get a life" and Jesscera keeps pressing for "boys have shoes" .  Serious --  no idea what that is suppose to mean.

I really know who to go to next time I need jewelry ideas!! 

I think if he said all 3 words together it would indeed unlock my bear-trap of my brain, and I would remember my BEST IDEA EVER.  But then again, who knows?? Maybe this is just the ONE THAT GOT AWAY.  (and it was THIS LONG)

sigh.

At least I got a lousy blog entry out of it.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wedding Steampunk

Vintage pocket watch balance piece with crystals.  If I was gonna get married anytime soon I would love this !!

 I've made bridal and bridal gift jewelry in the past as commissions.  I've never really considered making wedding jewelry upfront.  Back in February I was gonna do this show which morphed into a wedding show, and then got canceled...

before it got canceled it got me to thinking about wedding jewelry as a category.  I seriously considered making up a bunch of crystal and pearl stuff, mostly simple stringing, which I know would sell to a wedding minded crowd, but that's not where I am right now artistically. 

 I wanted to make something for a bride to wear but still fit into my main line, Mechanical Romance.

I  worked up one piece before the show got canceled, but I I like it. I did research on wedding jewelry, and it seems to be easily divided into 2 camps: big bling or little bling. This piece is "little" bling.  Actually it got me thinking about Tiaras.. wouldn't a steampunk wedding tiara be really kewl?  That would be big bling....  gears and clock parts and crystals oh my..... maybe attach the veil with chains of crystals hanging down in drapes, and working in some gears?  I think I need to go sketch now...

Yell if anyone wants to commission me for a steampunk wedding!


Monday, March 23, 2015

busy busy busy ......

Made this for a friend that  isn't necessarily into steampunk, and she loved it!
I'm still working on getting through all the blog entries of the Build a Line challenge that just ended on Saturday.. if you haven't gotten a chance, please do check out some  (if not all!! ) of my fellow students/ peers, really some excellent working going on !   You will be glad you did!

I just woke up to the fact that my first show is just 1 month away.  Where did all my precious time go???   So now I really need to buckle down and get more inventory out.. because once the shows start, it's pretty much on going until the end of September, with just a few weekends here and there that will be free.  I'll be updating my show schedule on my website this week, and  I'm planning on spending at least 2 hours in the studio weekday ... now that will never happen but a gal can dream.....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Build A Line Challenge from B'sue Boutiques, Kat of Midnight Kat Productions, The last bit!

well here we are, at the end of the road. This is the third and final part of the Build A Line Challenge run by Brenda Sue of B'sue Boutiques.  You can see my first post here, and my second here..


I really want to thank Brenda Sue for leading us all on this journey. It was incredibly generous to offer to lead this class on her own time and for no cost. I'm very glad I decided to go ahead and join in. I really debated up front because I wasn't really sure I wanted to do jewelry in this manner. I didn't want to lose my creative voice and I wasn't sure if I'm at a point in my life where I can really expand on my jewelry output.

I am mostly wrong on count one, and mostly right on count two.. but first let's look at the last few pieces of my line.

When I left off last month, I was trying to get my time on each pin broach down so I could charge no more than $25 and make what I need to make.
Laying out the last 2 designs.
 Unfortunately I just couldn't get my time down, and make a decent, sturdy broach.

So I made the last 2 pieces necklaces, and it saved time because I don't need to attach the pin back.

After factoring everything in (including increased costs of necklace chain), I still ended up with a cost of $35 minimum each piece.

I think I"ll price the pins at $32, and the pendants $40 and see what happens.

I've also kicked around ideas for more expensive pieces to be at the high end of my line. I sketched out a couple of ideas, which I might get to eventually.

I ran into a real roadblock at this point.


sketches of larger, more expensive pieces

While these pieces had meaning while I designed them, I've said what I wanted to say. 

And I'm tired of hearts. I"m tired of doing pieces with hearts in them. 

I think I mentioned in the first blog hop back in January I'm not normally a heart gal. I'm still not a heart gal, and I've reached my limits, for the moment at least, on working with hearts. I really had to force myself to finish the last 2 pieces, though I have to say I love how the bird heart piece turned out.

I guess you could think maybe I just need to pick a different project to work on to develop a line around... but the truth is I'm gonna hit this wall regardless of what I'm making. I like being to hop around materials and themes and not have to make the same thing or work with the same materials day in and day out.
You can hardly tell the bird is a heart.. maybe that's why I like it so much...

Even when I'm working with stuff I love to work with, even if I'm enjoying my design... I can only work on that for so long.

There is also the time factor. I work full-time at my day job, plus I have a house and family to maintain, and I need to sleep and heck, I occasionally like to do something for myself like read a book... There really is a limit to how much time I get to spend working on jewelry or working on my business as it is.

Even though the business right now is an important contributor to my family 's overall financial health, I can't spend more than a hour here and a hour there on it during the weekdays. Every hour I spend in the studio is probably an hour I should be washing dishes or something... right now as I type this it's almost midnight I should be in bed, not writing my blog.



And the other necklace done!
Of course I would love to make more money, to make my jewelry business my only job, it's just not practical right now when I"m the only one bringing in the income. I hope ( I HOPE!!) that in a few years, maybe I can look at this idea seriously.

In the mean time, this adventure has reinforced that it's OK if I make "mini" lines. I was afraid If I applied some basic production line thinking to my jewelry making I was somehow loosing my creativity. That was was "cheapening" my jewelry because I repeated a few designs.

I look at my line of heart and watch faces, and while they are the same in concept, each one is very different. It's OK as an artist to explore an idea in several pieces.. I'm not a fraud for doing so. I can honestly call each pin or necklace OOAK and not be lying or hypocritical.

crappy pic of the whole line, 6 pieces in all.
 That is majoring freeing!! I've played with this already ( See my Big eye monster or my key to time series ) However I really started to think this way when B'Sue announced doing this class.   This gives me the validation I needed to move in this direction... small run, limited collections.

Going forward I will be doing more of these. I enjoy it, I get 6-8 pieces done in the time I might have gotten 3-4 before, and I can be happy and confident that I'm doing good, original work.   I can really set out and explore a concept in my brain, instead of doing 1 piece of it and think, wow, I need to do more.. and never get around to it.




In the future, if my situation or inclination changes,  I now have the basic outline on how to take my business to the next step. 

Ultimately it's about what makes me happy and what makes sense for my situation at this time.

Be sure to see how my classmates have learned during this 3 month adventure!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques (Teacher and leader )
 Students:

Marcia Tuzzolino
Aurora Designs
Jann Tague
Clever Designs by Jann
Judy King
Apt to Wander Studio
Linzi Alford
Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales
Cynthia Wainscott
Exotic Peru
Carole Carlson
Beadsophisticate
Lynn Stinten
Dragonzwench
Marica Zammit
Bead Lovelies
Catherine Shattuck
VRBrose
Michaele Collie
The Vintage Gem
Mary Craig
Jewelry Alchemy
Lee Koopman
Strega Jewelry
Erin Whitacre
Shattered Time Jewelry
Monica Casady
MJCasady Copper Works
Leila West
Leila Nicole Designs
Cindy Peterson
Howling Dog Jewelry
Leila Belcher
Leila Bee Designs
Gloria Allen
Wings and Beads
Pamela Anger
Novegatti Designs
Tammy Adams
Paisley Lizard
Lynda O'Mara
LOmara Creative
Elizabeth Hildreth
MadScientistsDesigns
Dana Hickey
Wind Dancer Studios
Janet Calardo
Jan Lea Designs
Maria Clark
Sweet Willow Designs
Lori Beekman
B. Accessorized
Jennifer Kroeger
Relic Charm
Amy Jorgensen
Hoarder's Corner
Robin Reed
Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs
Ingrid Anderson
Lilis Gems
Louise O'Shields
Desire Divine Jewels
Susan Killam
Killam Creative
Mary Katherine Deis
The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry
Nike Bottalico
Nike Bottalico
Susan Bowerman
Woodside Wireworks
Kristy Le
Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs
Jan Peters
Stylized Vintage
Mitzie Crider
Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog
Gina Hockett
Freestyle Elements
Linda Anderson
From the Bead Board
Alexandra Sefton
Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art
Melida Boman
The Journey of Pens and Things
Teresa Shurter
TreeZ's Treasurs
Melissa Latimer
Smithed Up
Renee Hong
Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art
Nadine Edris
Moondance Jewelry
Lori Meyer
Parisienne Girl
Jennifer Merrill Williams
Artists of All Stripes
Denise Lussier Poirier
Jewelry by Denise
Renee Allen
Small Stuff Design
Autumn Adams
Autumn Dawns
Elizabeth Owens
1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller  <<<< ME !

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry
Sandra Ballard
Mama San's Mojo
Coral Law
ab:coraldesign






Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Key to Time Series


This is the sketch which the series is based on.  I knew it had to have clock or watch parts and extra rivets for the hell of it.  
 I've shown a few pictures of this series and promised to do an entry on them, so here it is.  This is my key to time series.  I suppose I could call it how time flies as well, as most of them ended up with wings, either stand alone ones or part of some critter.  Around Christmas time I had a bunch of ideas that I sketched and I've been working through them.  I actually made these keys in January, and I hope they sell well, because I have ideas for more and I had a blast making them!

I picked out the keys to decorate, 8 in all.  I marked where I wanted holes, and Jerry drilled them for me.  Thanks Sweetie!  At this point, I had no definite plans yet.
I've got bunches of keys in my vast horde of stuff now, including old but mundane ones.  Anyone can make kewl jewelry using a skeleton or clock key, but what about those more common fellas?

So that was my goal, make standard ( even though old) keys exiting.

One advantage a standard key has over a skeleton key is they are flat, and you can drill holes in them for rivets.  Thinking about that, I decided that's what I wanted to do , drill several holes in a key and then just fill them and see what happens.  Any holes left over I could just add rivets or mini-screws as decoration. 

Now we are cooking! I've started to lay them out, and planning how I want them to look.  This is my favorite part!
 Usually when I work with vintage keys I make sure you can see most of it, but in this case I wasn't afraid to cover them up.  It's was quite liberating artistically  not to worry about it.  I used the key as the base, not the focus, but I did want people to still know that a key was involved. 

I wanted time involved (cause when do I not? ) so I started with watch faces, and then layered animals, wings, clock parts etc, until I liked each piece.
Group shot, all of the necklaces are finished in this pic...

Then I assembled each necklace, using rivets, mini-screws, and wire wrapping.  I added a drop to each, and chain for necklaces.  I think these would make excellent broaches as well with some modification.  Since I've already shown pics here on the blog and on my Facebook of many of these, I'll just show the owl one close up. 




this one has 3 clock gears layered in, the owl holding a pearl, and draped chain.  notice the 3 rivets for decoration running up the key shank.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Rainbow Connection... Chainmaile! and mostly random thoughts

Love love love love the colors!!
I know I go on and on and on about my mechanical romance line, and I do love it!  But I still have a soft place in my heart for chainmaile.

It's relaxing and at least the way I do it it's so colorful!   I'm not giving up the rings!  Or color.. I think I''m sneaking more and more color into my Mechanical Romance stuff as well, but that's harder to do without making it look like.. well, icky cheap.  So just a dash here and there.. so when I am hankering for the full bore rainbow, it's chainmaile I turn to.

I need to work on some designs in my Mechanical Romance line that has pearls as well.  On girl's weekend Cathie was a mad woman with pearls, and it got me in the mood.. 3 weeks later and I still want to do something with pearls.

I'm feeling soooo much better today!! Still have a cold, but I'm definitely on the getting better side of the sick range.  All the weird asthma side issues have gone bye-bye!  That is a huge relief right there.

 I'm actually approaching useful today.  I've been busy listing on both my jewelry and destash etsy's ,   
I'm going to start supper shortly... a new crockpot recipe pineapple chicken.  Tonight around 7pm it should be done.. and I'll have to do do then is make the rice.. it looks delish!   I'm working on tumbling and cleaning up some parts from a  vintage 1960's adding machine Jerry took apart for me, and I'm hoping to work on actually ( gasp!) jewelry today. 

So busy busy busy, but with a smile on my face !  I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday as well!  ( and it's gorgeous out at least in my neck of the woods.. Des Moines IA)


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Joys of Asthma -- a Rant


I have a cold.  Now no one wants a cold, it's nasty, messy and it hurts. 

In our enlighten times, to have a cold is to be a social pariah.  You don't want to give your cold to anyone, but there is the little thing called working for a living.  Strangely enough, corporate America expects you to be at work all the time, even if you feel miserable and you are a disease vector.  So going to work becomes a choice between pissing off your peers or not getting paid.  Or you can sacrifice a vacation day/ call in sick... but you only have so many days so that option isn't always there.

So you hunch over your desk, try not to contaminate anyone, and try not to cough ( disrupting your co-workers) or make distracting snorkeling noises just trying to breathe (and disgusting your neighbors )   
Usually you fail at all three.  Last year some person gave me an anonymous note asking me to stop coughing/wheezing/snorting/ etc or leave my desk when I absolutely had to make noise. 

WOW.  That's so practical!  If I had followed that plan I would have been at my desk for 5 minutes the entire day, the rest hiding in the bathroom trying not to disturb my peers.  I wonder what my boss would of though of not working but getting paid for it? I was out of vacation and sick time both, so I had to be at work.

Notice the coward left it anonymously. 


Now, sprinkle Asthma on top of this cheery little life cupcake, and it really gets fun. 

Not only do you feel crappy, and you avoid everyone at work trying not to infect them, you are constantly worried about having an attack because you can't breathe and everything and anything can trigger it.   Hairspray.  Someone's lotion.  perfume.  Smoke smell on someone 's jacket after a smoking break.  These can trigger problems for me on a good day.  A day when I have a cold and my chest is already feeling pressured?  It's like walking in a landmine field wearing flashing lights to attract the snipers. 

So This morning I ran my peak flow numbers ( a nifty little gadget for asthmatics, it gives you some quantitative idea how your lungs are doing besides they feel "tight" or "too tight" ) and I'm 100 liters down.  This is after I've used my morning inhaler and my emergency inhaler. 

I took a day of vacation.   I still have vacation.  One of the reasons I don't have vacation at the end of the year is because sometimes I take vacation when I'm sick.

I might just burn another day tomorrow, depending on how I feel in the morning.

Most colds last 7-10 days, even without the added excitement of asthma.   I'm on day 3 or 4 depending how you count.   1 or 2 days is all I can afford to burn of my vacation at this point.  So when I go back to work I'll still have the cold, but hopefully I'll be on the other side of the bell curve.

1 or 2 days not stressing about how everyone at work reacts to one's being sick should help.  1 or 2 days in my home, which is more or less free of my asthma triggers should help.  I'm chugging Vitamin C via orange juice and plenty of other liquids and I'm sleeping as much as I can stand.   I'm using my netti pot almost non-stop and I've packing my inhaler.  (course I always pack an inhaler)

OH Yeah, here's the kicker...  I caught the cold at work in the first place.

Rejection ~ HURTS ~ Art Show Juries

It's that time again, sending out applications, and receiving either "yes! we are happy to have you in our art show"  or the  "Thank you for your application - Unfortunately, the jury for this year’s Festival did not select your work" 

I haven't heard back from most of my show entries yet, but one of the ones I was counting on shot me down in flames.   Don't ever let anyone fool you, rejection hurts.  They tell you not to take it personally, but how can you not?  It's not personal to THEM, but it is on my end of the stick.

 I do understand that on a intellectual level.  They get to view your art for just a couple of seconds at a time,  and view lots of pictures , because jewelry is very competitive. The show I didn't get in had only 8 slots open for jewelry, and 70 applications to view. that means over 85% of the applications for jewelry got rejected, including mine. I wouldn't normally know this but I did write to the show organizer and asked what I could have done differently... the answer seems to be not much. 

As a Mom. I think one of the hardest things to do is it try to teach my child how to deal with rejection, cause the wide world is chock full of it.  The best way to teach our children is the model good behavior... and well when something hurts, when it's painful, it's hard to be that good model.  I really enjoyed doing this show last year, and financially it was a strong show.

But I  try to be good about this rejection. 

The important thing I guess is to give a time limit to my moping, then brush myself off and get back on the horse.  

For me that means applying to my 2nd or 3rd choice shows for that weekend.  I found out about this around 1030am, and it's now 5pm and I've applied to another show for that weekend, and I'm getting other applications out for some of the weekends that are blank.  That way I can hopefully get into another couple of shows to make up the difference in not getting into this one.

I'm also thinking about I need to update my jury photos.  It's basically too late for this year, but I'll keep an eye out for my best new pieces as I make them and get them professionally photographed before they sell.  
A new batch of recycled watch movement rings


I also need a good updated booth photo.. my booth photo is really kind of  old.. I think a new booth photo showing our recycled displays that match our jewelry needs to be conveyed to the judges. 

I still hurt, but you just can't stop moving, no matter how tempting it is.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Flea Market Fun this Weekend... HONEST!

I love the color blue, so this is one of my favorite pieces in recent history.
 Last month Jerry and I were going to do The Flea Market (read my 1st blog about it!)  -- not just to buy, but to sell.  Well, then Jerry, Jesscera and I took turns being sick and well, it seemed better to delay the experience.

Hopefully nothing gets in the way this weekend!! I'll have 1 table's worth of jewelry out ( but I will bring most of it with me, so if you were looking at something and it's not out, just ask!) and hopefully 1 table and shelf of vintage stuff to sell, and jewelry bits and books.  

My booth partner is making homemade soap, so it should be good clean fun!
(heh heh, get it??? ) (ok, I'll do it for you: grooooan!) yes, I'm in a weird mood.  Good, but weird.

Be sure to stop by the booth and say hi! 
I made the glass cab in this, I really need to fuse glass again!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Recent Flea Market Finds

I love the tag on this, and after Jerry ripped it apart, it had the most awesome tank track like belts of numbers in it!

I love how cute this clock is, and I picked it up for just a buck! you never find mechanical clocks for just a buck anymore!! I think it would make a cute picture frame.  the other clock is butt ugly. 

here is that adding machine from the top, and a sewing machine, probably late 70's or 80's. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Guest Blog--- Girl's Weekend update

This is your roving reporter, Susan Yorke, keeping all you inquiring minds up to date on the latest on the FAB-u-lous jewelry designer and maker, Kat BarronMiller.

A little insider told this reporter that our favorite artist to the Stars was once again going on her bi-annual retreat to refresh her creative muse to the ever-so-exclusive Littleton Resort and Spa in the dreamy snow-covered South Dakota. The resort had been a beehive of activity for days beforehand; cleaning and preparing smoked meats for dinners.

Having followed the career of this marvelous artist for some years now, I am familiar with the resort that Ms. BarronMiller prefers and its environs. Midnight Kat as Ms. BarronMiller is more commonly known was driven to Omaha for a day filled with lunch with friends and some shopping before her escort brought her back to the resort in a silver coach known as ‘The Bead Wagon’.

Though this reporter knew the date and hour that the artist was to arrive, I had no success in obtaining any photographs of her or her companions. The security was as tight as ever in the form of an ever-vigilant black and tan dachshund named King.

Kat ensconced herself with her companions, Cathie and Sue in a room especially set up with tables, chairs, snacks and inventory as they have every year in order to create, laugh, sing and read as they saw fit. Due to the colder weather and some recent surgeries (I learned) the usual round of antiquing was forgone for lunches out and more time in.

Cathie Littles (the co-owner of the Littleton Resort and Spa) seemed particularly drawn to pearls in her creations this Spring season while Sue Yorke continued with her Steam punk vibe and appeared to hit upon a cross-over idea to work on. Kat chose to work on her Mechanical Romance series as well and her ‘Build a Line’ challenge from B’Sue.

In an unusual move, the Resort imported a guest chef from Canada for this year’s retreat, Ryan G Yorke late of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Chef’s offering on Saturday night was Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes with ham, sautéed mixed vegetables, lightly steamed corn and a variety of drinks for the attendees. 

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