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. 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Build A Line Challenge from B'sue Boutiques, Kat of Midnight Kat Productions, Part Two

 OK, here is where we left off last month, with the first piece of my line done -- 

you can see that post here  The Build a line challenged is hosted by Brenda Sue and her wonderful full line of brassy goodness B'Sue Boutiques .  If you want to learn more about the challenge and it's overall group goals you can check out B'Sue's blog posts on it here.

The part of the challenge I"m really focusing on this month is making jewelry deliberately at certain price point.   I really want these Broaches to be fun and affordable, the warm-fuzzy piece you pick up because it makes you smile.

One of the things we have talked about during this challenge is our line can be a pyramid.  The basic idea is you will have have a few expensive, draw people in type pieces , and then a broader range of pricing for everyone.  

I've made my pyramid in 3 steps.

The base and foundation of my pyramid is the less expensive pieces, the bread and butter of any business.  (It's what I like to call the impulse level of jewelry.)  Specific pricing depends on the artist & where you sell of course, but this range for me is $15-30.00 .  It's what you might spend on yourself or your friend as a pick me up, and it doesn't break the bank or make you feel guilty.  Most of my earrings fall into the base, and I try to make all of my rings and pin/ broaches fit in this category as well.  

The  middle of the pyramid are the pieces that sell $31 to $85.00.  This would be bigger pieces, like necklaces or bracelets.  The top of the pyramid would be OOAK pieces , statement pieces, and commissions.

I think it's useful to think about structuring my jewelry pricing in this way.   Looking around at my inventory I've more or less been doing this already.

This is what my work table looks like while I'm riveting pieces together.. a mess!

The part that is new about using a pyramid is the idea is you would have a couple of overlapping designs in your line, and you would "dress up" or "down" to hit the different levels of the pyramid.  I really like this idea, moving up and down the pyramid to achieve a good mix of pieces and pricing.

Toying with that idea, I need to get my broaches where I can price them around $25.00 and still make a profit.  

The problem is they take so much time.   

The first one I made, my "prototype" took 64 minutes to make.  I need to get my time investment down to 30-35 minutes each piece.. or I need to sell them at a higher price.   So this week I've been making them, changing a few things, trying to get my time down.  The other possibility is making them simpler by using fewer components. ( which would also probably knock time off the project as well)

As much as I love the draping chain, that sucks up bunches of time to get it to hang just so.  So my first modification was to drop the chain.  I really don't like that look.. it makes it too simple and the chain is one of my design elements I really wanted to have (chain, watch face, heart, pearl drop) , so I played around and decided a small tassel with one large pearl incorporates the chain nicely, and it's much faster and cheaper to do.  I don't think it looks bad, but as you can see it leaves the broach still looking a little plain .  

So I decided to add one more element, a small clock gear. 

.  I think this one is my favorite so far.  Course blue is my favorite color! 

My time is still running higher than I wanted, so I think I will just price them at $30-32.00.  I just can't get the time lower than 45 minutes and still do a good job that I'm proud of.  The idea is to have a variety of price points, not to cheapen your product!! 

One other thought I've had, start with a smaller base.  I might be able to simplify the design and it won't look plain since it's smaller.   Hm.... that bares further thought.

So here are the 4 completed broaches so far:

I think they look very cohesive in a group!   Which is the point, right?   My plan for the next  blog is to work on at least one other level of the pyramid and still look like it belongs with the broaches. I have some ideas lurking around my brain-box as I type!! 

NOW!! for the fun part.... it's time to blog hop!!! Here are my class mates.. be sure to stop by and check them out and see how they are processing the class info.  That's surely the most interesting part of this challenge... seeing all the different ways people take the information and run with it!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques
Marcia Tuzzolino
Jann Tague
Judy King
Linzi Alford
Cynthia Wainscott
Carole Carlson
Lynn Stinten
Marica Zammit
Catherine Shattuck
Michaele Collie
Mary Craig
Lee Koopman
Erin Whitacre
Monica Casady
Leila West
Cindy Peterson
Leila Belcher
Gloria Allen
Pamela Anger
Tammy Adams
Lynda O'Mara
Elizabeth Hildreth
Dana Hickey
Janet Calardo
Maria Clark
Lori Beekman
Jennifer Kroeger
Amy Jorgensen
Robin Reed
Ingrid Anderson
Louise O'Shields
Susan Killam
Mary Katherine Deis
Nike Bottalico
Susan Bowerman
Kristy Le
Jan Peters
Mitzie Crider
Gina Hockett
Linda Anderson
Alexandra Sefton
Melida Boman
Teresa Shurter
Melissa Latimer
Renee Hong
Nadine Edris
Lori Meyer
Jennifer Merrill Williams
Denise Lussier Poirier
Renee Allen
Autumn Adams
Elizabeth Owens
**** Kat BarronMiller <<<<< you are here! ****
Sandra Ballard
Coral Law

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

non-Random Thoughts on a fine Wednesday Morning

I took today off , blowing another vacation day at work.  I have cause this time... over the weekend our dryer died.  The washer meanwhile, has wanted to die for over a year.  It's one of those attention seeking hogs .... after you start it, you have to go down every 5 minutes or so and thump it or kick it because it just stops running.  It's seriously annoying to have to pay court to one's washing machine.

So the dryer giving it up seemed the signal needed to get a different pair.. so today I wait for the valiant and steward appliance guys to come and remove the offending varlets and replace them with new quiet, energy efficient models. 

I can only hope they show up as soon as possible, so it's done and I can cross it off my mental list... and then get in comfy jammies and maybe do something Kat-useful for the day.  Sure I could finish cleaning the house.  That notion is rightttt up there.... or

I could start packing jewelry supplies for my annual stay at the Littleton Bead and Spa in Balmy South Dakota with my best buddies Sue & Cathie.  That starts on Tuesday next week BTW, so I don't know how much blogging I'll be doing next week.  I look forward to this trip every year, it's my girls weekend -- it's one of the hi-lights of my every year.  I stay with Cathie in her lovely and well appointed ( and cleaner than mine, though that's not really such a feat is it? ) home and I  feel like I get treated like royalty... it really is like staying at a spa!   Cathie and Sue are jewelry artists as well, so we honestly hang out in her workroom area and make jewelry most of the time.  

I always pack a bunch of projects, and then half of my studio to take with me.  We always get a bunch done, but honestly it's the whole girl power, girl bonding, sleepover experience that makes it so wonderful.  

I need to work on my Build-A-Line challenge... our second rounds of blogs is this Friday.   I got somewhat lost on it, but I think I'm back on track... today I hope to get pictures taken and maybe even get that blog written up and ready to go for Friday.

There is a part of me that just wants to curl up with a good book.

I'm still sorting through a couple of large pocket watch/watch buys, and cackling evilly when ever I get around to playing with all that new stuff.  Jerry needs to get cracking on taking stuff apart and de-pinning cogs/gears.  

I still feel like I'm low on cogs/gears from clocks in the 1/2 inch to 1-inch size.  I really need to get a hold of my clock source and get another round.  

So that's my Wednesday. 
My new and improved Sock Monkeys in Paris!  I find a new finding to make the Eiffel tower .. what do you think?



Monday, February 16, 2015

Big Eye Monsters Part IV. The big eyed finish

 I think this one is my favorite.. I love Egyptian themes.  Since all of my big eye Monster's possessed flight (wings) I could do no less for this one.  The scarab is a hugely important motif in Egyptian history, representing renewal of life.  The winged scarab is most often associated with RA the sun god, and is often shown holding the sun in it's hands.

In this piece the scarab is more riding the sun, but I love how it came together.  I added chain and a lotus blossom as the drop.

Here is the group family shot of all my monsters.  All are available for sale, and range $40-50.  Just let me know. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Big Eye Monsters Part III

 These are my big fella's of the Big Eye Monster's series.   Guy on top is made using a vintage piece of typewriter  (1920's L. C. Smith) and a vintage drop from that charm bracelet again.  You can hardly see it but peeking out behind the eye and the wings is a watch face. 
This blue eye dreamer is made using a large gear from a 1950's adding machine.  Originally I wanted to run the wings behind the front part of the gear ( this gear is layered) and in front of the back of it.. but it was almost impossible to get it to sit right, so I put them in the front.  I think he still looks pretty kewl. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Big Eye Monsters Part II

 These Big Eye Monsters I consider my flighty sisters.  All are made using the same brass base, vintage rhinestone chain, wings and of course eyeball cabs.  But they are all different, just as sisters will be. 

The top Monster is all ready to soar up in the sky, her wings ready for a powerful down stroke to lift her up.  She's dressed up and ready to go with her vintage pearl drop.
 This Big eye sister is laid backed,  just coasting driving amongst the clouds, letting the wind currents take her where ever they wish.  She's all about fate and destiny and she will get where she needs to go cause that's how it all works.
This sister isn't jealous, despite being green-eyed monster..  She's got a fancy vintage pearl drop just like sister #1, but she's also easy to get along with like Sister #2.

 Here are all 3 sisters, doing lazy circles in the sky!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Big Eye Monster pendants Part I

Me in the designing process... trying to decide what goes with what.   I love those vintage crystals you see here, but I didn't end up using any this time around.  Maybe next time.
 I bought these great class cab eyes some time ago, maybe last summer?  Anyway, I fell in love with them on Etsy and had to buy a few but at the time I didn't have any (time ) and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them, other than own them.  I bought 5 of them in the larger size and a matching pair, thinking earrings.. so 7 cabs total.  So Enter wintertime and Kat actually has time to breath, clean her kitchen and actually make stuff!!

I participate almost every week in Wednesday worktable & Finish it up Friday at B'Sue's Creative group on Facebook.  I find it a very useful exercise to help me focus on actually making something every week and it's fun to see what everyone else is doing. 

I'm really getting into more bling... and I love the rhinestone chain (it's called cup chain). 
 So while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do that week, I ran across the eyes in the stash, and I thought, "hey, I really ought to make something with these"

I figured I make 2-3 pieces now, and put the eyes away for another day.

Didn't turn out that way.  Once I sat down and starting to play around, combining pieces and through in some vintage parts I just couldn't stop myself.
One of the finished monsters.  The drop crystal is a vintage charm off a vintage charm bracelet.  the charms on the bracelet were icky-scary, but the faux pearls and crystals where the bomb.
 I ended up using every eyeball I had, and wished for more!

The rest of the week I'll be showing you my Big Eye monsters up close .  This guy is on a old clock gear, has wings and a vintage drop crystal from a old charm bracelet I cut up. 

The charms off the bracelet are kind of ugly, and poorly made.. some of the touristy crap they probably sold in the 50's and early 60's.  But it had drop crystals like this, and really lovely faux pearls drops that I adore, so it was worth it for them!

I riveted the bezel and wings onto the gear and also supplemented with glue ( I think, I used glue and rivets on some of them, and just rivets on others).  You can really see in this picture the detail in the eyeball.  If you are curious, I got the eye cabs at Etsy, seller Nixcreations

Friday, February 6, 2015

No shows in February after all

The clock part is from a mantel clock from the 1890's or so.. I added tube rivets for decoration, I love how this looks.
Well Drat.

After much thought, Jerry and I decided to postpone our debut on the other side of the flea market table due to family illness.  Namely Jesscera, Jerry and I seem to be taking turns passing each other a virus.  Jesscera is much recovered, Jerry and I seem to be feeling worse and worse.  I'm hoping that by drinking lots of OJ and sleeping most of the time (with breaks to stare at the walls wondering why most of my body feels like a baseball bat was used on it) by Monday I'll feel better.  Jerry should start feeling better tomorrow if it follows the same course as Jesscera's.  Fingers crossed.

Susie, being a fine, understanding human being and having no desire to get sick herself is just A- OK with us moving our flea market adventure to March... But seriously you DSM folks, go to the Flea Market, it's safe from us disease vectors and go buy some soap and say hi to Susie, the wonderful understanding human being.

The other show for the month I hadn't talked about much, but I was getting excited for.  It was to be at Valley Junction At the Coffee Shop (Inspired Grounds, got to love that name!!) and the same weekend as a bridal show.  Because of the bridal show, I have been thinking hard about bridal jewelry, but done in my own unique Mechanical Romance style.  I got one piece of this done yesterday.. and today I'm informed that the show has been canceled.


I'm kicking around doing more steamy bridal pieces anyway, cause it's such a kewl idea.  Maybe I can just put them up on etsy.....

Still it's a bummer all the way around.   I guess this is what I get for trying to do shows in the winter...

On a bright note, if I can get my head to stop pounding maybe I can go up the studio and sort or something.  Not sure I'm up for anything more vigorous that that right now.  Otherwise, I'll just chug some OJ and maybe start that sleeping all weekend I've been dreaming about all day at work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Getting ready for the other side of the table at a flea market....

I'm actually getting excited about doing the flea market.. only this time I'm going to be the seller, not the buyer!

OK, knowing Jerry and I, we will end up buying a sewing machine or typewriter or broken up jewelry or something, it's unavoidable.

I will bring at least a few pieces of jewelry, just to see but honestly I'm focusing on destashing as much as anything.

While my etsy shop is going strong, some things are problematic selling online.  I put books in this category.

I adore books, and I'm keeping shelves full, but even I can find some jewelry making books that are not necessary anymore.

Don't get me wrong, they are great books, but how many Japanese crystal books do I need when I don't make stuff like that?  How many delica seed bead book patterns when I don't really use delica's anymore? (Actually, I ought to sell the delicas, but I can't quite bring myself to do that.. yet.  There is something about looking at 200 odd colors that I just can't give up)

So the reason we decided to do the flea market was to get rid of the books without the messy mailing them out bits.

I'm also trying to sort through a couple largish piles of old jewelry/components that hadn't made it up on etsy yet. I figure what doesn't sell I'll get up eventually.

that didn't fill up much space, and I've got a half booth to fill.  So I've been looking at some of the mechanical stuff that's too big or messy to make jewelry with.. maybe I'll make some steampunker's day. 

The other half of the booth features homemade soap made by my very good Neighbor Susie : Close Creak Creations.  She makes by hand all kinds of interesting types and scents of  soaps, lotions, lip balms and face scrubs.  I never knew this before chatting with Susie but soap making is very involved, and some of the soaps have to "cure" for a month!

She's going to have lemongrass and lilac for this weekend, among other yummy scents.  Be sure to check out her facebook link above for more info.
part of my key to time series, involving vintage keys, watch parts.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Recent vintage finds ..............

Remember that big bag box of goodies I was waiting for??? the biggest surprise, a large cache of authentic vintage pocket watch keys.  Wooooo!  I see earrings in the future, but I also see Kat hoarding these.  As you can see got a bunch of very fine, lovely skeleton keys and clock keys as well.  These were all bonus since I bought the lot these were not pictured.

This was also in the big box, another drooool worthy moment.  I love the arched shape of these, Jerry has of course stripped it down for the gears.. I'm keeping the movement plates on this though, I have some vague thoughts for them.

A really nice Typewriter, and it still works.  This hasn't been ripped up yet, because it's soooo nice.. not sure I have the heart to rip apart.  It's from 1939.

Last weekend Jerry and I spent time up in the studio, me making jewelry or sorting for the upcoming flea market we are doing, and he was salvaging parts for the business.  This is the bottom of a L. C. Smith typewriter from the 1930's.  Kya is inspecting his work.  Kya is quality control!