Friday, December 31, 2010

it's almost 2011? Do you know where your resolutions are?

New years seems to = resolutions that fizzle within 3 weeks. In an effort to avoid this, I'm trying to set reasonable and OBTAINABLE ones, with extra time to complete them..

I won't bore you with my personal goals, they involve better health.

I already shared one of my business resolutions -- new items each week in my Artfire studio. I've already picked out 5 items to list .. My normal plan is to list each Monday evening, but I'm so excited about some of my new pieces I might just do it this weekend. As part of that goal, and sort of a goal of it's own I want to keep my blog fresh and updated. I'm very pleased how well I did blogging in 2010, so I guess this is a "maintenance" sort of goal. At least I know I can do it since I've done it before!!

I'm cleaning out my picture file from 2010, so my blog will be "new" stuff.

First on top is a pendant I made in November using a mix of Vintaj and non Vintaj brass stampings and one of the Bronze clay pieces I did early last year. I love the plume stamping.. I got a measly dozen of them, I predict I'll get more in the future. I bought more bronze clay, it's something I definitely want to play with more. I also purchased bronze wire for wrapping, and if you haven't notice the trend here in the blog, I'm having great fun with brass stampings and predict that will continue in 2011.

Here is another Vintaj brass item, with a steampunk vibe. These earrings sold at the first show I had them at.

This wire wrapped watch is in sterling wire. I was quite pleased when I made it, back in May! I kept meaning to do a long blog on it, never got around to it, so the pics have sat in the file all this time. The watch sold months ago. (however like always, I'm happy to take a commission to make something similar just for you!)

this pendant is in sterling silver, I've made versions of this before, I just love the look of a tear drop frame around a tear drop stone! The stone swings in the frame, which just adds to the charm. I love movement in my pieces.

Happy New Years everyone!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New pics of the kittens! and the steps to listing jewelry in my store.

Well I've got everything wrapped that I have on hand, still waiting on a couple of boxes to arrive (hurry US mail!) but I am feeling pretty good about being ready for Christmas! I have a client coming over tomorrow to pick out Christmas gifts for her family, so I'm cleaning the studio up. I am leaving my wrapping out, but it's all NEATLY in a pile out of the way in the corner now. I hate to have to dig it back out for those last few items winging their way to my house.

Here are new pics of the kittens, though I guess at nearly 7 months, they aren't rightly kittens anymore! Here is Kass looking straight at the camera and not moving, which is a minor miracle.

As you can see, not true to Kya! This pic is slightly blurry, but it's still one of the best ones I've gotten of her face. She's absolutely enthralled with water, and every morning after my bath, she jumps in the tub to check it out. I am dreading the day she doesn't wait for me to get out!!

This pendant is from the summer. I love the large dramatic spiral I put on front. I have just a few pics left in my photo file -- so I better get cracking and make new stuff and get pics up for you.

I'm very please with myself.. I said a couple of posts ago that one of my goals for 2011 will be adding to my offerings on Artfire weekly. I am hoping by the end of 2011 I'll have 250-300 items in my shop at all times. I posted a few more today, and now I have 75 total in my store! Right now I am offering free shipping, which is good through the end of the year.

I'm planning on listing 3-5 items every Monday. That sounds like a modest goal, but it really entails more work than you might realize.

Each listing involves hard work, and it sucks time like you wouldn't believe!!

1. pick items- measure them, write notes, price if I haven't already.

2. take good quality pics of items.. at least 3-6 of each piece. since you can't touch items online, it's important to have good photos that really show you the beauty of a piece. Since I'm still working on my photography, I often take 10-15 pics, and pick out the best of the lot. I now have a spot in my studio set aside for photography permanently, so at least I shouldn't have to set up and take down every week like I used to.

3. edit pics

4. write the listing. This is an area where I really need some work. I need to research SEO more, and also writing cute, entertaining and ultimately SELLING descriptions of my jewelry. In person I'm pretty good at talking about my art, but somehow it's harder to type it out.

5. actual listing, including title, category, tag words, and SEO.

Since I have a day job, I'm hoping to do the picture taking and editing before Monday, otherwise I probably won't have enough time in the evening to get the listings up and running.

Once the listings are up, I need to promote them.. writing them up in this blog, posting on face and twitter.. and anything else I can think of to get my store out there and noticed. Ideas are welcomed!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And how much wrapping paper is on your floor?

I'm really getting in the mood to make jewelry... I even got upstairs to the studio last night.. and spent my time wrapping Christmas gifts! LOL First I had to clean up the studio -- I had tail end projects, commission stuff, unwrapped presents and a school project left overs all over my day bed and floor. I had to clean my studio just to find all the presents I need to wrap! I got about half of the presents wrapped.. but we have a couple more boxes scheduled to show up in the next few days. Maybe by this weekend I can work on something I want to work on! At least now my studio is picked up ( if not clean) and I can find the bows again. My day bed is covered again, but in an orderly fashion with neat piles of wrapping paper & bows and bags, and the remaining presents to wrap are lined up (and covered with a blanket -- no peeking in my house!)

Right now I'm seriously into brass stampings mixed in with a sprinkle of vintage jewelry. My brain keeps designing things, and I'm sketching like a mad woman.. Since I can't "play" here are close up of some of the earrings I made a couple of weeks ago. Brass stampings from B'Sue.

This necklace the feathery plume is from B'Sue, the back circle is Vintaj and I'm happy to brag the star circle is one of my own Bronze clay pieces. The star is from a vintage button I made a mold of for clay.

sign.. that gives me another idea, where did I put my sketchbook?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goals for Next Year.. and a sneak peak at soon to be listed Artfire items!

I know, the new year is 3 weeks away, I've not even gotten through Christmas!! And here I am thinking of next years' business goals. I can't help myself... like any artist that does art shows, I'm already knee deep in the application process for next year. Most of the good shows that jury artists in need to have your application in 6-8 months in advance. I actually missed a deadline for a show for May!

Deciding on shows naturally leads to goals for next year. This year we really wanted to concentrate on the local Des Moines art scene, mostly to save on costs in a down economy. Fortunately the local art scene is really heating up in Iowa, Des Moines especially! One of my favorite venues now is Market Day. East Village Sunday Bazaar was great fun, and all sorts of new galleries have opened! I only did 5 out of Polk county shows this year. The downside is smaller, quicker shows you don't have the opportunity to make as much money as a 2 day show in a bigger market.. but then again, if you get rained out you can really loose your shirt. The costs for doing a 2 day show out of town include gas, hotel, and food and can really add up! Larger shows have larger show fees to boot. Don't get me wrong, making money isn't my main focus, but if I don't make a profit I can't upgrade my tools or materials to make more jewelry. I can't explore new mediums without profit. This is a business, and someday, in the way to distant future, it would be nice to make this a business that supported my family, not just the business itself!
The question is do we still want to avoid bigger, farther away ( and more expensive and potentially risky) shows next year? I'm leaning towards doing at least a few more larger shows this year, but still mulling over how many and where...

But I have determined a few goals. A big one is doing everything I can to make my online Artfire studio successful. I've been using social media like Facebook and twitter (and this blog!) but I need to do more. I am also planning on listing 3-5 new items EVERY WEEK next year. I'm convinced that if I can get 150-200 pieces listed I will do well on artfire. To get off to a good start, I'm starting this week.. The pics you see throughout this blog are items that I will have listed by the end of today, tomorrow at the latest! I'll share more goals as I settle on them.. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, so I'm trying to "hone" my goals down to 3-5 obtainable ones.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Working on Commissions this weekend..

and what a great weekend to do that! I don't know what's it like in your neck of the woods, but it's a blizzard in Des Moines as I type this. I can't show the commissions as they are Christmas gifts for folks, so here is a pendant I made this summer. It's a vintage crystal woven inside a sterling wire bead. It felt very vintage to me, and I sold it on the first show I had it out! As with any of my items, if you see something you like just ask.. I make something similar but customized just for you if' it's sold already. I love to do commissions, and if you order something now, I should be able to get it done and shipped to you in time for Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recent items

I decided to finish the follow your bliss by just making it a pendant.
Another vintaj project, started with a big old blue chandelier glass piece, and built it around it. Added pearls, I think it has that great vintage feel while still having a modern touch! Earrings too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Aqua crystal necklace set -- more Vintaj Brass

I made this set last week in prep for my upcoming Black Fri sale.. I sold the earrings and the bracelet there. I think I have enough stuff to make another bracelet but it won't be exactly the same.. what would be the fun of that?? And another pair of earrings... Maybe it will part of the stuff I'll bring to the Gallery (Sat. Dec 4th 12-5pm)to demo, or maybe I'll stick to wire wrapping. I haven't don't as much wire wrapping lately, mostly busy and really into playing with the Vintaj brass and some vintage pieces. with the Vintaj pieces I use wire alittle, but it's not the same as wrapping with sterling. I got a commission to wrap a donut in sterling, and now I've got the bug to play with sterling wire again. Lovely, fluid sterling! I've got 3 different sterling wire projects laying on my studio desk to work on this week.. between glass cutting, getting ready for the Gallery visit, taking pics and getting new items up on Artfire , working on commissions.... and of course all the normal day to day items like house cleaning, day job and being a wife and mom. Not complaining, just wishing I had more time.....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ramblings - Black Market wrapup & Christmas Gift ideas

First I want to think everyone involved with Market Day - Black Friday . Cat, Scott, all the other vendors, and the customers... it truly was a fun and exiting way to spend Black Friday, way better than fighting the crowds at the mall. Market Day just keeps getting better and better, and I for one am extremely grateful I get to be a part of the growing Indie art market scene in Des Moines!

I for one want to keep that spirit alive this Christmas season... So I've been messing around ArtFire and Etsy looking for gifts to give, gifts I want and just good gift suggestions for the people in your life.

On Artfire I found this incredibly cute Ipod pouch on artfire, from a seller ArtfulBeginnings . They are hand made with hand dyed silk, the design is gorgeous and she offers these in several different colors. I bet if you contacted her, she could make one specifically for you in your favorite colors! I love the color blocking. It's a good price, and there isn't a woman alive who wouldn't enjoy one of these pouches. And the silk is recycled from other items, so it's a green gift to boot! So check out ArtfulBeginnings on Artfire!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BLACK FRIDAY sneak peak!

Here is a sneak peek of new items premiering at Black Friday - Market Day !! Happy Thanksgiving, and see you at PappaJohns tomorrow 9-2pm!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My glass load from monday nights' firing!

I'm sooo pleased!! my glass load went so darn well!!

Here is a shot of all of them. Now the first layer was 4 donut cabs (which if you want to see close up, check out this blog entry!) and the tree cab..
The 2nd layer, on top, were mostly 2nd run cabs that needed to be fire polished, or "fixed" because of alittle scum on top (you can read about that in this blog entry) or had sharpies that needed to be rounded out. they really turned out well! I also tried something I've not done so far before.. add wire in the firing process, to make pendants loops in the glass.pretty kewl no? I think this one will be on artfire very very soon!

If you notice this pictures are pretty good, well I've been working on that as well. I think I finally have enough or close to enough light to take good pics. I've also switched photo programs recently, and I've been playing around with that. I love some of the kewl effects you can do with it, check out the "negative" cab close up below!!


CAB A method: stacking little pieces of hand cut dicro with some clear carefully balanced on top and lots of praying.

Hey Kathy! sorry this took so long, it's been sort of a bad couple of weeks.. but I'm getting back on course now. anyway here are the 4 cabs I made for your inspection. Let me know which one you like the best and I"ll get it made asap w/ sterling wrap!!
CAB B Used some glass fusing glue and strips of dicro layered with some regular glass, and then strips of clear layered over that.
CAB C this cab was made out of a single piece dicro, which I cut into strips and then cut clear over it.
CAB D This first went into the frit mold, and then I reran it in the kiln with clear. I think I overdid the clear...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The goal today....

is to make some glass cabs and glass donuts. I actually have a commission to make a donut, it's just well, this week hasn't been a happy week for the BarronMillers you know? Anyway, The top picture is the kiln table. The purple stuff is mold release in frit molds that are drying. The release keeps glass from sticking to the ceramic molds. It should dry for at least 24 hours before using them in the kiln.
This picture is one of my candy corn cabs that had a bad spot. Sometimes the top layer of glass goes frosty and scummy. It's not easy to fix, as the chemistry of the glass has actually changed in that spot. The best method I've found so far is lightly sand or grind down the spot, clean really really good, and then re-fire with alittle frit on top and hopefully the ugly stuff goes away. Doesn't always work. You can use a glue to gently hold the frit in place, which also has to dry, which is what is going on here.
These are glass shards from a glass blower's studio. I love to incorporate these into my designs! Some of my best cabs have bits of this in them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

still struggling to create....

I'm still feeling alittle maudlin, and out of sorts. I had to make a necklace for my daughter's friend's birthday, and that was an effort! I got it done, but I'm not happy with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I think right now I won't be happy with anything. As much as I want to get things made up for my last art show of the year (Black Friday Market Day) I think at least tonight I won't force it. It rarely works to force creativity anyway, even under the best of circumstances. Tonight I think I will clean my studio, and maybe pick out beads for the upcoming beady garage sale in January. It's very peaceful and meditative to sort beads, and who knows, maybe something will spark my interest! To keep my blog current, I present 3 pendants from my back log of photos. This top one is Mookite, and sterling.
Blood stone and sterling.
tiger eye and sterling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hard time being creative right now

My Mother in law passed away on Sunday. I love Sandy, as she is author to all my happiness in a deeply significant way --- I married her son 16 years ago and had her granddaughter 14 years ago. She is out of pain now, and she will be missed.

Until today I've been dealing with it very well. Sunday was all about being at the nursing home and being the support person for my family, including my sister in law Karla. Monday was dealing with the funeral arrangements, and running errands all day. The memorial service is tomorrow ( Thurs 18Th) 4:30 -7pm at Radiant Church at 717 e 26Th st in Des Moines.

Yesterday I went to work, and that was a grand distraction, for all that I seem to spend most of the day just talking to people about it. I'm afraid my work quality suffered!

Today I'm home by myself, and it's maybe starting to sink in. I'm not crying or having fits; instead it's a quiet awareness that there is a hole in my life somewhere. Maybe it's not a big hole, but it's there. It's hard to be creative with the backdrop of constant thoughts and feelings about Sandy banging around in my head. I think I will just be depressed in a low level kind of way for awhile. My mood rather matches the dreariness of the weather today- no sun. No rain or snow (yet) but you can feel it's coming. And it's cold!

So I guess I haven't been dealing as well as I thought, I think maybe I just wasn't dealing.
I do know I will be OK, it's all part of the grief process. I worry most about my daughter. This is her first grandparent to pass and she's taking it pretty hard, when she allows herself to think about it.

I do know that tomorrow will be very hard, but we will be OK, because we will face it together as a family. I know that Sandy would have wanted that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I've gotten behind in my blogging this week. In an effort to catch up and use some pics I've had on the pile for some time, here are 3 pendants. As I have time, I play around with backgrounds to improve my photography. The first 2 Pendants were all taken on a bright red background with strands of pearls used to sort of "prop" the pendant up for better viewing. I actually liked the idea at the time, but maybe the pearls make the background 2 busy?
Third pendant is fossil jasper, named after well, all the little bitty fossils found it it. (Some fossil jasper just looks like little fossils, this one is the real deal) All 3 pendants are made in sterling silver.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time to get new stuff in the Art Store....

I'm planning on rotating my inventory at the Art Store this weekend. I've done pretty well there, but I've picked out some items that would make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers! For example, here are some PMC / fine silver earrings made with my own hand cut and hammered ear wires. This top pair I made using a music stamp, and the bottom have a nice line of flowers going across the middle with a pearl hanging down. I'm also taking some of my new vintaj brass items, and a variety of wire and stone pieces. So Next week, stop by the Art Store and check out my new set up!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Newest Passion.. Part VI

This will be my entry, for now, on Vintaj. I need to make more stuff before I can really blog on it! LOL Despite my love of color, I think this is my favorite piece to date. The large crystal is in a champagne color, which is very delicate, warm color, and harmonizes perfectly with the warm tones of Vintaj brass. With bailing pliers I very carefully folded and bent the large dragonfly around the crystal, and then wired it to the other pieces. I made very slightly asymmetrical by using another dragonfly on the ride side. I liked how it looked so much I ended it with chain.

I've really enjoyed working with Vintaj and plan to order more. I want to play with the coloring aspects more ( and I'm going to try the inks on more metals) and I want to explore more crystal wrappings, maybe in red. I think the contract between red and Vintaj would be excellent! And blue, and purple and.......