Monday, February 28, 2011

What's on the Desk Monday 02/27/2011

OK, if you haven't been paying attention, I am apparently doing each Monday shots of what's on my work desk. Don't feel bad if you didn't notice this pattern, I only noticed it myself last week! LOL!

Mondays are a good day to post something like this, because the weekends are the best time for me to make beautiful jewelry, and I always seem to leave something in progress on my desk Sunday night.. and since I post new items to Artfire every Monday - and I usually take those pictures Sunday night before... well it's a natural.

So why not go with the flow eh?

Anyway, I've dusted off my torch and I'm doing silversmithing again. These earrings in progress started out as sterling wire, which I formed into rings, cut them and then soldered them. I hammered them slightly flat, then textured the left one with a spiral stamp and the right one with a texture hammer. I think they make lovely hoops! One pair will sport vintage crystals ( as shown in the pictures) and one pair will feature large creamy white pearls.

Thanks as always for checking out my blog!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Latest Commission

A friend at work ( and a good customer!) bought Oregon opal stone beads in Tucson and wanted me to make her something necklace-y, anything I wanted. They stayed on my desk for a couple of weeks because I wanted to make her something special you know? Then last weekend I bought, among other things, this great bead from Gothic Glass at a beadshow. I knew what I wanted to make my customer then! (thanks to Desi for making such kewl beads! ) I used sterling silver wire to make a bail for the urn bead.
I also added sterling spacers, pearls and crystals to finish up the project. I love making things for people, and I can't wait to see how happy my customer will be tomorrow when I deliver it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One of the things I hate about being an Artist....

Is filling out applications for shows. ugh. No, make that double ugh! It really is my least favorite part. Weighing options, trying to decide which shows to try for this year. Spending hours doing research on shows. Trying to write neatly, which isn't in my range of artistic ability. Writing checks on my quickly depleting business checking account. Trying to come up with pity statements on why I am an artist that don't sound inane. Praying my slides are good enough to land me a show I'm really interested in. The waiting. OH! THE WAITING! Really hate that part!

Doing shows is my main source of business income. Sure, I am in a gallery here and there, and I book a home party once in a while ( and would love to book more.. if you are in Des Moines click here to learn more about hosting a jewelry party!) and I catch the odd commission ( I'm working on one right now!)

But shows are my bread and butter, and they often lead to more gallery, home parties and comission opportunities. But sending in your application, slides and check and then waiting months to find out if you get in.. well that part sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I get into 95% of the shows I apply for... but you just never know. Juries are funny. Some shows say they are juried, and what they really mean is "we only jury the new guys" which means you can try to get into a show and never do.. because while there may be 120 artists, they might only have 20 real openings for newbies.

Even when shows aren't playing games you don't know about, there are only so many spots, and jewelry is highly competitive. I have no hard facts or figures, but I guess a good show has 2-3 times more jewelry artists trying out than any other medium. So you have to have good slides, professionally done. Luck is helpful. And a thick skin is a must.. if you don't jury in you cannot take it personally.

That's probably the hardest part about jury shows. You can have the best pictures, a great rep, wonderful handwriting.. and sometimes you don't get in. You won't ever know why either. Maybe the jury panel that day didn't like the color blue or something. Maybe the jury doesn't consider anything besides silversmithing to be "art". Maybe they blinked and missed your set of pictures. Maybe the last 4 jewelry artists all did wirework and you stuff just didn't stand out. Maybe they switched by accident the slide descriptions so nothing matched up. Heck maybe it got lost in the mail ( I have had that happen once!)

So you just don't know, but you play the second guessing game in your head, as you wait months for word on if you got into this or that show. And they you find out you didn't, it can be hard to take. I've been doing shows for probably 10 years now, and it can still sting. I"m only human, and making jewelry is like having children.. and then someone telling you your child is ugly.

The worst one is when you get into the same show for YEARS and suddenly they don't jury you in. That one can feel like a sucker punch! If you get into the same show year after year you start to count on that show for income.. so not only do you feel like someone hit you but you feel like they stole your wallet at the same time!!

I know some artists "double book" but I'm not built that way.. so if I don't get into a show I expected to be in, I feel like
1/ I got punched
2/ I got robbed
3/ I got screwed because it's too late at that point to try to get into anything else
that weekend.


OK, I guess I need to stop messing around and get back to doing applications. At least this is the last round of them, except for a few late season shows. Next blog pictures of jewelry, I promise!! But til then, Kya ( or is that Kass? ) will have to do, goofing around in the studio the other day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's on the Desk Monday 2/21/2011

I hate being sick. I seem to be good at it.. all my wonderful hopes on being really productive in the studio this weekend sort of went POOF! By the time I really felt better it was sat night, and then Sunday was family day and clean the house... but I did get a new necklace started, and I hope to get it finished sometime this week. This will be a 6 strand mostly pearl twisted necklace with Japanese seed beads and crystals for just a touch sparkle. Just in a pearl mood I guess!

I also need to work on stained glass for class on Weds. Today is listing day on Artfire, be sure to check out my studio later for all the new goodies! ( I have some chainmail, pearls and brass offerings today!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I should be melting metal or something....

But all I can think about right now is stained glass! I am taking a class in it right now at the Des Moines Art Center . I even bought a few pieces of stained glass on my trip to South Dakota. I'm sure I'll calm down soon, it's just I really want to make myself a little glass box.

I love boxes of all shape and sizes and materials. Plastic organizational boxes for jewelry components and beads, fancy hat boxes for decoration and storage, old trunks for fun, little magic wood boxes from childhood.. they are all good.

But to make myself a box? that would be SWEET! I love glass, and I even own a lovely stained glass box that my husband bought me years ago at an art show. And I hardly ever make myself something. Sure the occasional pair of earrings, but that's basically it.

So I'm going nuts trying to find the perfect box pattern. Something that is easy enough that I can do it, without being so easy I don't feel accomplished doing it.

This weekend I will be researching patterns for boxes, along with alittle silversmithing on the side. And this weekend is also Beadfair, a local regional bead show.

So this weekend promises to be a great deal of fun no matter if I'm buying beads, making a bezel setting, or dreaming of little glass boxes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


First, big big thank you to one of my bestest gal-pals Sue W. for being the guest blogger the last 3 entries. Lots of fun hearing about my trip via her roving reporter persona!

Got back from my Girl's weekend Monday afternoon, and immediately plunged back into REAL LIFE. Don't get me wrong, I like my real life, it's just the transitions that can kill me. My gear gets stuck in leisure mode, and it takes awhile to up-shift into house cleaning, family visits, and the $$ job that pays the mortgage. And the unpacking!! UGH! That part I really really hate. I've got my clothes and such taken care of, but my beads and tools (yes, all 333 lbs worth) are currently decorating the floor of my workroom. I'm planning on heading upstairs and tackling that chore shortly. I probably won't get it done, but tomorrow is my stain glass class (yeah!) and Thursday is my day to catch up on paperwork for the business, so I probably won't get it settled until Friday.

I hate thinking about my studio all torn apart til then!! Have I mentioned before I might have a touch of OCD? ( I think quite a few artists do actually, but that's a discussion for another day) You have probably all seen those signs like " a clean desk is a sign of a deranged mind" ? As an artist I actually like order in my space. Sure, in the throws of creative passion stuff can really get messy, and I'll not put away materials and get a huge pile of crap in the way.. but I can only let it go for a bit. Then it's all this negative energy until I get it cleaned up again. I literally cannot work on jewelry when the studio gets too messy. I really think the feng shui enthusiasts have something !

Mind you, I get the same way about the house cleaning, but my threshold for "ick" is way way higher for, say, dishes. Like when we run out of forks!

So I'm going to put the kid to bed, and go get me alittle Zen peace by unpacking a few bags in the studio right now. Just for an hour or so, I bet I'll feel much better!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The final day for Girl's Weekend dawned rather late for the ladies at the Littleton Spa. While the staff had the day off on Sunday, the ladies fended for themselves quite happily and had a leisurely breakfast. But as per usual, they quickly retired to the beading workshop filled with ambition and ideas for new projects and techniques to try.

Metal work was the order of the day. The loud, upbeat music could not hide the distinctive sounds of hammering metals, power drills and sanders that the ladies used to work metal blanks into lucious creations. Inks, embossing and riveting were all on tap while the typical beading seemed to take a back seat.

Once again, lunch was catch as catch can in the late afternoon followed by an even later dinner as all three artists were deeply involved in their own projects. Finally, at about 10pm, the event seemed to wind down and with what this reporter could see, a great deal of reluctance. The upbeat HairSpray soundtrack acccompanied the tear down and clean up of the make-shift workshop. Despite the music, the ladies were clearly saddened that another fun and indulgent Beady vacation had come to a close but, it was a resounding success as always.
Saturday, Sioux Falls, The Littleton Spa; the ladies rose mid-morning to a large breakfast provided by The Littleton's executive chef, Johnnie. The remainder day found the ladies deeply involved in beading and metal working projects. So engrossed in their work were they that they didn't break for lunch until 3:30 in the afternoon.

This reporter spied a client entering the Littleton Spa and upon emerging she bore with her a small box one can only assume was a piece of the coveted jewelry from MKP. This reporter had to restrain her photographer from mugging the poor woman to take the item for himself.

In the evening, we smelled smoke and realized that the Chef at The Littleton Spa had fired up his outdoor kitchen and smoker. A small excursion through the lilac hedges reveal that the dinner menu included smoked turkey and ham which by all accounts are simply unparalled. This trip through the grounds also afforded this reporter exclusive photographs of the work area and some of the many items produced by the artists during their sabbatical.

As is usual, the music was upbeat and loud, at least one margarita and wine glass was spied on the tables strewn with bead boxes, tools and findings. One can only wonder how such fine pieces of finished jewelry can come from the apparent chaos.

Follow this link to some pictures of the items produced. More to come later.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Once again the month of February has rolled around and the beady-eyed women have migrated to Omaha on Wednesday Feb 09, 2011. Our Star Artist, Kat BarronMiller met with her cohorts, Sue Wilcott and Cathie Littles from South Dakota early this year. We suspect it is an attempt to avoiding this reporter, however we have spied her meeting with her friends in Omaha after they had lunched at Wheatfields. They then started on their usual shopping spree at local bead shops.

Unusually, our quarry tried to outfox this reporter by consorting with a car salesman (who we later learned was a friend) and Cathie purchased a second mini van as a decoy. While this was a clever tactic and almost worked, we were able to track the ladies down at their usual dinner favorite of Pasta Amore in Rock Brook Village. Whether due to weather or some other scheme, the ladies spent the night in Omaha and left early the following day to check into the "Littleton Spa and Bead Resort" in Sioux Falls.

It is unfortunate that the security is so tight at this exclusive Spa (we could not even get past the deceptively adorable guardian dachsunds). But we do have glowing reports of the recently remodelled V.I.P. lounge and the maintenance staff is second to none. Our sources have reported that Kat has taken up residence in the "Queens Suite" while Sue took the second penthouse.

Peeking in the windows revealed that the ladies had completely taken over the atrium and piled in with Kat's 333 pounds of beads, crystals and tools (which included 10 different hammers). Cathie and Sue contributed all of their own beads, wire, tables and more to the occasion making the atrium a fully functioning beading workshop, complete with a hot tub and original art.

The remainder of Thurday was spent having lunch with local dignitaries, friends Heather and the Chief Executive Bead Wrangler, Matt. They then returned to the Spa to arrange their space to their liking and went out once more for dinner and a small party for Sue's birthday. Once home again, the ladies spent a leisurely night with some creative pursuits before retiring to bed.

Friday found the ladies busy as always. Cathie drove the Bead Wrangler to the Vet for his shots (j/k). Then a late brunch was enjoyed before some shopping at the local stained glass shop. Once returned home, music was turned up loudly and a great deal of creativity flowed. Many projects, new and favorites, were produced. In all, the evening ended just after midnight with s great sense of accomplishement for having done a good day's work.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just how many hammers did you pack THIS time??

That is the typical question of my hubby when I pack for a Girl's weekend. This is a picture of the bead/jewelry/tool pile that is going to South Dakota with me.

"Why only 10 honey, but I don't think the raw hide mallet should count, it doesn't weight much!" (Let's not get into a side discussion on how many hammers the 2lb brass one should count as)

"Why do you need all of this?? "

"Because I might need to do xxx, so I have to be prepared!"

"OK what about this then?"

"I have to bring all the crystals, I already told Sue and Cathie I was!"

OK, you get the idea. He's really not upset with me, after nearly 17 years of marriage, it's more a game to bicker about how much my beady/jewelry stuff weights. I never take this much stuff with me to regular shows. Regular shows I have it down to bare basics: pink tool bag, blue bag with an assortment of findings, crystals, stringing materials and a few extra tools, and my "pearl" case, which carries a more or less random assortment of goodies, in case someone asks for something custom. On rare occasions, I might lug (OK Jerry just corrected me, HE lugs) an extra Plano box of something special or something I'm excited about. But that's it for materials. Really! For shows I just want to be prepared to adjust the size of items, and maybe make a few extra anklets or something if the show is slower.

Jerry is now reminding me, that is NOT all.. The caravan is full of display items: 2 tables, 3 metal shelves, 4 tubs of display and selling stuff, a couple of chairs, a tent and a couple of small containters of actual jewelry. OH, and if it's an indoor show, a tub of lights. But I just mean jewelry making stuff.

Still, we go back and forth, and we are having fun, and Jerry's like, "do you think this stuff could really weight a half ton? "

"You mean 1000 lbs??"

He really thinks about it, and decides it's probably more like 500 lbs. I'm like no way. So then we start a real discussion, based on the concept of the average weight of each container.

So we end up weighing it. Serious, Jerry got the bathroom scale, and as he lugged out the door, I weighted it and counted it up.

333 lbs.


I'm taking 333 lbs of tools, crystals, sterling silver, findings, beads and misc. jewelry making stuff for a 5 night / 6 day play date with my best beady buddies.

I feel a tad guilty.

but I'm also thinkin' ...


And I'm glad Cathie's hubby get's to carry it the house when I get there!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Monday's On Desk is Done!

I'm very pleased!! I'm calling it Capri Memories, sort of a play on words. The Capri was a local Theater years and years ago and I have wonderful memories of going there and watching old movies with my mom ( At least I think it was the Capri, we are talking about me as a small and easily confused child and now at 42 I think I've already got some brain rotting!) This necklace hearkens back to old movies by style and I used some vintage pieces on it. And of course Capri blue is the color of the pearls.
I made earrings using the 2ND set of vintage necklace findings.
Since I often sell earrings a couple of times before I sell the necklace, here is the second pair of earrings, made from a vintage bead cap that I flattened with a hammer. I love hammers!!

I'll have this up on Artfire hopefully tomorrow!

Tammy's Necklace...

Hey Tammy, let me know what you think, it's good either way if this wasn't want you were looking for!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sneak Peak

OK, I've been hard at work trying to get more jewelry listed on my Artfire Studio Shop. These are items I've made and photographed in the last few weeks. I should get them listed in the next 2-3 days. Let me know what you think!

Embossed and Inked/painted vintaj natural brass blank, ribbon and crystal. This piece is so colorful and different for me, I'm really happy how it turned out!

"Mechanical Moons" For these earrings I took a steampunk gear finding in brass, bent it into a moon and added crystals. YUMMY with an edge!

A lovely and delicate chain necklace using a brass stamping in antiqued gold color with crystal drops.
Look for them soon in my Artfire Studio!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm having a sale on Artfire for Valentine's Day!!

Here are just some of the Valentine's day items I have for sale right now on my Artfire studio store. Now in honor of the upcoming holiday, I was going to put all of my heart items on sale 10%. After giving it some thought, I decided, why limit your choices? Sure nothing beats getting a lovely and kewl heart shaped earrings or a pendant as a pledge on Valentine's day, but not everyone really digs hearts. Well, I have a wide variety of handmade OOAK jewelry in my shop, so why not just offer a blanket 10% off? So take a look, and pick something out as that special gift for you, or someone you love. The sale is good through Feb 7th If you see something you like in the pictures, just click on them and it will take you straight to my artfire listings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's on my other desk... and general musings.

OK, I've been getting lots of requests for my sun pendants, so I finally broke down and starting to cut new ones out, as you can see in the photo below. I've got the "moons" ( the silver part in the sun) cut out also. I need to file them smooth on the edges, hammer them ( I try to do a moon like rocky texture on the silver part, and long ripply texture on copper.. but they always come out different, no 2 alike) solder them together, pickle, dome, touch ups, clean up, wire wrap a bail, and finally polish them. whoo! That sounds like alot of work doesn't it? It is, but I love almost every minute of it. (I don't like the filing so much, rest is good. Hammering is manna from heaven)
I am planning on doing most of this work 2 weekends from now. This weekend I'm committed to other projects, and I have to pack for the weekend after.. among other things.

I'm very annoyed by life in general right now. I'll get over it.. and I hate to sound like I'm complaining.. so let's let Kat vent in 1 sentence and she will shut up about it::

worksucksnewbuildinghasissuesihaveissuesfeelexposedandstupidweathersuckstheycanceledmyclass TONIGHT DAMMIT andiwasreallylookingforwardtoit!

I feel better, I hope you do too!

Life isn't completely annoying, I'm very excited that in less than a week I'll be in South Dakota with my bestest buddies in the world, eating, gabbing, drinking Margarita's with umbrellas sticking out of them, and making jewelry together. Yep, it's time for Bead Con, also known as Girl's Weekend, and Sue's Birthday party. I can't wait! Cathie is once again kindly opening her home to me for several nights, and I bet Sue will spend the night once or twice. Slumber party!! Woot! I hope to have nothing but a fun, relaxing time and have my batteries recharged by love, laughter and friendship. I can't Wait!!!!

Now I need to finish that necklace on desk 1, work on a commission, pack ( I can't WAIT!), list things in Artfire and do general housewifie-poo and mommy stuff for my family.