27 June 2005

Before I forget

Updates to website that need to be done before bed tonight.

Replace front page.

Include links to For Sale page on front page, tips page, and galleries page.

Must also work on listings for EBAY and put ebay link on For Sale page.
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26 June 2005

A short vacation

I've taken most of the last two weeks off to spend with my family. I appologize for the silence that this has generated in this space but didn't really know that two weeks worth of daily posts to the effect of "Wonderful day with Sprout. Didn't even go into the studio." would really have been much interest to anyone. I will probably be retrieving Sprout's portable swing from the friend I loaned it to sometime early this week. With the portable swing, it's somewhat easier to get work done.

I returned to my creative life yesterday by attending a laminated felting workshop in Troy. The workshop leader, Tammy L. Deck, was on HGTV's Crafters Coast to Coast. I have mixed feelings about the workshop but, overall, believe that it was worth the cost. I was able to get a lot of feedback which would have cost more than the workshop in materials had I been learning exclusively through trial and error.

I joined the discussion forum for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab while I was taking my break from the studio. This inspired me to explore, at least on paper, the process of blending fragrance using a classic glaze-making technique. If you're interested in reading about it, I uploaded my notes to my website to share them with the forum.

I had hoped to have some auctions up and running by the time that I got back into the studio. Unfortunately, EBAY is not cooperating. Rather than continue to beat my head against a sales venue that is less than ideal, I've instead uploaded the items which I am selling directly to my website. If it goes well, I will add more items as time permits.

I'm leaving on a real vacation in just under two weeks. I'm not sure how much time will be available for updates between now and then but I'll certainly make a point of checking in at least once before I leave.

14 June 2005

Needle felting

I picked up a set of felting needles at the bead show. I had so much fun with the small amount of felted embellishment that I had done on Innna that I wanted to have the right tools for the job. It is amazing to me what a difference it makes to use the correct tool.

I've started another doll. This one is for an exchange on the beaded art doll list that I'm on. The rules of the exchange are that each participant is assigned a swap partner and sends their partner a face. When you receive the face in the mail, you are supposed to design a doll around it. The doll is supposed to be about 4 inches tall.

The face that I received is large and I was briefly puzzled as to how I was going to design a doll which was even moderately proportional. What I've decided on is a seated doll. I used some of the same wool felt that I used for Innna and needle felted a wonderful spiral onto it with hand painted yarn that Heather had given me. I then cut the felt into a rough triangle shape and cut another piece the same shape. Next I added more felt to the front to suggest crossed legs. The needle felted spiral forms the belly of the doll and the center of the spiral is the navel.

I need to stuff the doll but first I need to glue on the face cab. Once it's stuffed, I'll start adding some beads. I want to add more wool to suggest a blanket draped over the doll, and some yarn for hair, maybe. The blanket will probably be made with wool from a bag of unspun wool that I got several years ago when I thought that I wanted to learn to spin.

I went to the thrift shop today, in part to look for more sweaters to felt for more doll stuff. Instead I ended up buying clothes for my family. I bought 12 "onesies" and similar garments, some for as little as $0.10 each. I got a handmade choli and skirt with embroidery and mirrors and beadwork on them for Sprout. I cannot believe how much baby clothes cost new, especially when you consider how little use they get... The thrift shops are filled with baby clothes that have never even been worn, and for a tiny fraction of what was paid for them in retail stores.

I should go show Sprout's daddy her new clothes. I'm anxious to hear what he thinks of the choli/skirt set. Heather loved it and said that if I hadn't gotten it and she'd found out about it, she'd have kicked my butt.

13 June 2005


Continuing the post-bead-show processing, I'm aware that some of the things that I've been "meaning to do" should move up on my priority list. Amongst other things, a great many people walked away from our table this weekend with my business card. Likewise, I imagine that quite a few will be walking away from Melanie's table at Bead & Button with my card in hand. I ****NEED**** to finish what I started with my website and get the new front page online by the end of the week.

One of the things that has slowed my progress is that I haven't felt quite equal to the task of writing the articles, etc, that I wanted to have up before the new front page went online. Which brings me to the subject of this entry.

When I engaged the people who stopped at our table at the bead show, many of them expressed the belief that they wouldn't really know what to do with the vessels which are the majority of what I do. By conversing with them, I was able to share some ideas which stimulated the interest of at least a few customers. I know that Heather's experience was similar. I'm too tired right now to write an article. One of the great things about keeping a blog, however, is that it allows a drafting process to occur which gives readers a glimpse at what you're thinking as you're thinking it.

One of the suggestions that I made for the use of the vessels is that they are great vehicles for aromatherapy oils. Whether you're quitting smoking, trying to loose weight, trying to become pregnant or simply trying to reduce stress... aromatherapy may help you to achieve your goals. I'm not a doctor or an aromatherapist, I'm certainly not qualified to offer advice or treatment, but if you're seeing an aromatherapist, my vessels can be filled with oils and will allow the scent to naturally diffuse.

Here are some of the links to sites which have come up as I've started my research for an aromatherapy article for my website.

I'll poke around more but this gives me a place to start. On a purely capitalistic note, it might make some sense to poke around the provider links on the first two sites there to develop some contacts and possibly some wholesale relationships.

Well, it has been a long day, following a longer weekend and an even longer couple of weeks. I didn't even try to go into the studio today but should make an effort to get out there to work on the keychains for Abe at CUADP and the commission for Heather.

12 June 2005

The show is over... Nothing to see here...

I've survived my first bead show. In many ways it was a great experience and I can't help feeling as though I've somehow passed through some imaginary barrier and I'm now, officially, a **REAL** bead artist. (Thank you, Velveteen Rabbit) Having Sprout with me was wonderful and she really is an amazing baby. She was so well behaved and sweet tempered that I doubt anyone knew that she was teething, let alone that she cut her first top tooth this weekend.

The show was not all that I might have hoped. Having done everything to get ready for it in the space of two very hectic weeks, I walked in the door with a list of I should have's and I wish I had's. I had some very clear ideas about what I wanted the display to look like, but wasn't really able to pull them off. The boxes need to be better sealed so that they don't develop splinters during the show. Everything would have looked better if I'd had tidy, printed signage. There were too many price points on the table. There weren't enough containers or ways to distinguish items from one price group from those of another price group.

That said, I've learned a lot.
  • I honestly think that the current set-up can be improved and worked with, rather than feeling like it should be scrapped, all knowledge of it erased, and any mention of it denied.
  • Because what we have to offer the patrons at these shows is so different from what many of them have seen before, the opportunity exists to really foster some enthusiasm about artist-made ceramic beads and jewelry. (Yippeee!!! Jeff is almost won back over to the earth side... We may yet seduce him back to the mud, away from polymer clay...)
  • Because what we are offering is outside the "mainstream" we need to offer our customers more and better ideas about what can be done with artist-made ceramic beads.
I talked briefly with Kim. Jeff seems interested in doing the fall shows with us. I'll try to arrange for the 3 of us to get together and do a post-mortem on the show. All of that will have to wait, however... I am beyond tired and Sprout is hungry. I'm going upstairs to bed and if I don't write again for a month, it may just be because I haven't gotten out of bed yet.

The things I've learned so far...

Only put your best stuff out on the table.

More is ******NOT****** better.

Lighting is very important.

A dry run on the table display is never a bad idea.

10 June 2005

Time's up

Jeff will be here to get me in just under 6 hours. I've done the best that I can. I hope that the bead show goes well. There's nothing left to do now except to go to bed and hope for the best.

09 June 2005


I went to my local ceramic supplier on Tuesday to buy high temp wire for my glaze firings this week. Because of the way that I fire, I prefer what is generally called "Stamen Wire" because I can thread it through the holes in my pieces and make loops which I can suspend from the heavier firing rods which come with commercially available bead racks. Unfortunately, what they had available was 17 gauge high-temp wire which doesn't really lend itself well to the loop method that I've been using.

I bought some anyway because I needed wire and couldn't wait to order some and didn't want to drive to Columbus to get the stamen wire. I'm trying an experiment. If it works, I'll be in really great shape, I'll have "hangers" which I can use in the kiln for firing pieces without having to put the loops onto each piece and remove them after the firing. If it doesn't work, I'll open the kiln tomorrow morning to find a pile of vessels and goddesses which have all glazed themselves together after falling from the curiously straight wires in the kiln.

I got my new glasses today. I'm afraid that I may need to have them adjusted at some point tomorrow. I have a sore spot on the back of my left ear where the glasses appear to be applying odd pressure. The new glasses are attractive, but I 'm really looking forward to getting the other glasses that I ordered. They have tinted lenses to help with my light sentitivity, and clip on sunglasses that will be such wonderful things to have... Especially on vacation next month.

08 June 2005

Ancient and mysterious boxes

I spent a significant portion of my day sanding the wooden boxes that I will be using as the foundations of my table displays. These boxes started their lives in a factory as storage for assorted cash register parts. I'm not sure when they were built (I removed a nail that was sticking out of one and discovered that the nail was square) but they have decades worth of grime worked into the wood. The result is a wonderful character, with a beautiful patina.

Unfortunately, after power washing them, I had to deal with a great many splinters that had been worked loose by the high pressure water. Since I didn't want to risk anyone getting splinters from my table displays, I sanded them and then applied paste wax. They look great. I'm leaving them in the sun at my mom's until tomorrow night to allow the solvent smell of the past wax to evaporate some.

The bisque kiln is going now. I need to turn it up to medium before I head up to bed and then arrange to turn it to high about 2 hours after that. With any luck at all, the kiln will be cool enough to open when I get up in the morning and cool enough to unload when I'm ready to leave.

Kim's husband is bringing me the results of her firing tomorrow, along with the contents of her various bead boxes. None of this stuff is actually priced for the show, there's not even an inventory. Kim says, "Price them as you see fit and take whatever percentage you need to take." The problem with this is that I have my own work that needs to be inventoried and priced for the show. There just isn't enough time to do everything.

I picked up some tissue paper for wrapping purchases and brown paper lunch bags. Since the tissue paper is so large, I cut it down to quarter size. I used the fact that I was quartering it to justify spending the extra money for tissue paper with a little glitz to it.

I'm still trying to figure out what I want the tablescape to look like. I have 3 of the wooden boxes right now. I will probably prop one at an angle at each end of the table and set one on edge in the center. The show rules state that the table must be draped to the floor. I've got a couple of options for fabric to drape the table and I'll use the brass dishes that I bought before the first "Art to Wear Fair" last fall. I'm thinking about digging out the frame corners for some extra display oomph.

07 June 2005

Show progress update

A word of warning: I'm feeling a bit whiney right now. Don't take anything I say too seriously.

The shells came out of the glaze kiln looking great. The three mini amphorae are really nice. If I had a month, I'd probably feel really good about the odds of getting ready for this show... as it is, I'll do the best that I can.

The half-moon vessels are ready for the bisque kiln. I made 8 goddesses as well. I'll bisque fire them tomorrow and then focus on glazing. I need to start my inventory for the show as well. I haven't heard from Kim's husband about her contributions. Her son had an appointment in Lexington to get his cast off on Monday so, if I don't hear from her husband tomorrow I'll call him. We're on a deadline here and since she wasn't going to price her work or do any kind of inventory, I really need to have a bit of time to get stuff ready.

I'm getting new glasses. The ones that I ordered at the eye doctor's office should be ready in a week or two. I need replacements for my current glasses before that. I'm missing one of the nose guards and tonight, while trying to steal them off my face, Sprout nearly lost the other one. I bought stick-on pads that should help but it's still rather uncomfortable.

I should have gone into the studio this evening to try to get some work done. I have a bit of a headache still from the eye appointment and just didn't feel up to it. I'm just going to have to make do with what I've got.

05 June 2005

No rest for the wicked...

I should be sleeping instead of updating my blog. I have an early morning ahead of me... At the same time, I took yesterday off so I feel like I should post something.

The plan was simple... Sleep in until Sprout woke us up. She and her daddy would go to visit her paternal grandparents while I spent the day in the studio working. The plan went out the window some time after we got up when I answered the telephone and a dear friend informed me that she was at the emergency animal clinic with a cat who seemed to have lost the use of the back half of his body.

I have mom's car for the next week and a half while she's out of town. We picked it up yesterday before driving south to Middletown to see friends and go to Summer Fair. I justified the day away from the studio by telling myself that I would get a chance to see a bunch of different display ideas which I could adapt for the bead show next weekend.

So, after dropping husband and baby off at our car, I drove to the emergency vet to retrieve my friend. It is hard to explain to someone who doesn't share our specific form of attachment to pets why it is that we would, without question, place ourselves in a difficult financial position for the sake of a pet. For those who also believe that sharing life with an animal companion is as much a responsibility (and an honor) as any other relationship which you have with someone who is completely dependent upon you... no explanation is really needed.

The vet kept the cat overnight for observation. Because of the nature of the emergency clinic, the cat must be picked up by 7am and taken to his normal vet. The vet who saw him offered a rather grim prognosis (about 6-months) and recommended treatment by a veterinary internist. We'll start by taking him to his normal vet tomorrow morning.

Needless to say, the plan was abandoned and no plan has been made for tomorrow. I came home this evening (after spending the day with my friend) and cleaned the openings in the shell vessels. I then loaded them into the kiln along with the keychain fobs that I made for CUADP last week. With the bisque firing started, I pierced the stringing holes in the half-moon vessels that I started on Friday.

One advantage to feeling like I was behind schedule in the studio was that I decided to try to come up with a "shortcut" to making the necks for the half-moon vessels. The way that I had been making them was somewhat frustrating. The clay had to be at just the right consistency and it took several failed attempts to get into a rhythm which would allow me to make the necks in a way that I liked. The new method gives me a much more consistent result. In the end, maybe I should be glad that I didn't get to spend all day in the studio. I got more or less the same amount accomplished in the 3 hours that I was out there and have simplified a process which I used to dread.

03 June 2005

Alone in my head

One of the biggest advantages of working alone is also one of the biggest disadvantages. You get a lot of time to think, and it is not always productive thought… Sure there are the moments when you find yourself thinking, “If I move the hole on these vessels from here to over here, I won’t have to spend so much time repairing them before they can be fired.” Or those times when you think, “If I started a bead like this and then instead of finishing it the way that I usually do I did thus and such instead…”

All too often, however, you find yourself thinking about things completely unrelated to what you’re doing… Or maybe I’m universalizing my own experiences. As an example, I spent part of today, while I was working on shell vessels for the show next weekend, imagining a conversation between my sister-in-law and myself. The two of us have communicated more since Sprout’s birth than in the rest of the twelve years that her brother and I have been married, but we still don’t have much to say to each other. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure, we’re just in different places. (Geographically and otherwise)

I’m very much in favor of the thinking that leads me in new directions, and maybe I should try to email my sister-in-law just to say hi and to send her a picture of her brother and her niece. I’m just suddenly aware of how much time I spend inside my own head.

All-in-all, today was a very productive day. Sprout was very cooperative, playing in her “megasaucer” and napping in her portable swing. I feel a little less panicked about the show next weekend. I have 16 shell vessels drying so that I can clean them for bisque firing. I have a bunch of half-moon vessels started and waiting for necks and holes. The three amphorae with handles are dry and in a bead bowl awaiting the bisque firing.

I have an ophthalmologist appointment on Tuesday. I plan on doing a bisque firing on Tuesday since it is a thing that I can do without the ability to see clearly. (just incase they put drops or something in my eyes that further blurs my vision.) I may need to do a bisque on Sunday as well, in which case I will glaze fire Monday and I can make things in the studio on both Sunday and Monday while monitoring the kiln downstairs.

If I don’t post much over the next week, take it as a good sign that I’m actually getting work done in the studio…


Yesterday was not the day that it should have been. I'm not complaining or pointing fingers. It's just a fact. With a show a week away and little in the way of stock to take to the show, I should be spending every day in the studio making beads and vessels to take to my show... Unfortunately, I live in the real world and the fact that I'm my own boss often means that I'm the best person to call when a friend has an emergency. So, instead of making beads and vessels, I took a cat to the vet, went to the ceramic supplier to get clay and ran a few errands.

I needed to get the clay yesterday or today anyway. I need it for my "Clay Date" at the Art Garden on Saturday morning. The "Clay Dates" are an ongoing ceramics group which meets at a local independent arts center. For a moderate fee, participants get to come together and play in the mud for a few hours. Clay, glazes and tools are provided and Kim and/or I are available to answer questions. I will ***NOT*** be teaching at the Clay Dates. I'll answer questions and perhaps make a suggestion here or there, but I'll also be working on my own pieces. Sprout will probably get to spend the time with her daddy.

I have access to a car for the next week or so, which will make getting ready for the show a little easier. I'm hoping to make some arrangements for Sprout care so that I can put in some concentrated/uninterrupted production time. Either way, everything will work out as it needs to.

01 June 2005

How NOT to get started...

My beads and vessels are on their way to the Bead and Button show by way of Michigan... Hopefully, Melanie won't have a stroke when she sees the size of the box. (I really wanted to make sure that everything was well packaged...)

My mom and I took Sprout to see Madagascar this afternoon. I'm not sure how much of a recommendation it is, but my almost-10-month-old baby **LOVED** it. She laughed through significant portions of the movie and was riveted to the screen for longer than I've seen her pay attention to anything in her short life. I can only wish that I had been in a position to watch her. Mom and I loved the movie, but mostly for Sprout's reactions to it.

When I left the theater, I checked my voicemail to find a message from the organizers of the bead shows that Kim and I have been trying to get into this fall... After a brief moment of panic when the caller identified herself (they don't think our work is suitable for the show? one - or more - of the shows has sold out?) I was relieved and perhaps a bit more panicked to discover that they were calling to offer me/us table space at their sold-out show in just over a week... I guess that they must have had a cancellation.

After a call to my husband, who reasonably questioned whether I'd be able to come up with enough stock for the show and wanted to know how much money we would need to give them and when, I set about trying to gauge whether or not this show was even possible. Next, I called Kim, who won't be able to do the show with me but will send work. Finally, I called my friend (and former studio-mate) JJ whose work has been moving in a bead and doll direction and has been talking for a while about joining Kim and I on some of our bead sales trips.

The long and the short of it is, pending a phone call tomorrow to secure the table and address the financial matters, look for my beads at the Bead Mercantile show in Cincinnati, OH as well as the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, WI.

Between now and the end of next week, I need to make shell vessels, half-moon vessels, goddesses, and doll faces... I also need to figure out how I'm going to display the work of 3 distinctly different artists, and all of the other fun stuff that goes with doing a bead show... my first bead show...