26 April 2006

Things you always wanted to know about MysticSpiral Studio

I just wanted to post a quick note before heading out to the studio to make some beads. I'm getting ready to try a couple of beadmaking experiments involving laminating several beads for raku firing with PMC3 accents. The thing that I wanted to post about, however was this interview up at Crafty Synergy. I really enjoyed answering the questions for the interview. It encouraged me to think about my business in a way that I don't usually take the time to do...

I'd also like to mention that I posted images of the first of my 3 page spreads from the Fantastic Emblage altered book project to the project blog. I'll be posting more images as time permits.

24 April 2006

This and That

The weather has been (mostly) glorious for the last week. Perfect for spending time outdoors with an active toddler. We spotted the root formation at left in a local park where we'd taken Sprout to play on the playground equipment while we visited with a friend. Our Sprout **LOVES** playgrounds. She's completely fearless. She scrabbles up the ladders to the slides and just can't seem to swing high or fast enough.

Warm weather also has me thinking about summer eating. Right now, I'm researching cold soups that I can mix up and keep in the fridge, ready to eat. An awful lot of these recipes call for heavy cream. I'm wondering what would happen if I subbed fat-free sour cream, low-fat plain yogurt, or fat-free evaporated milk instead.

I'm still hoping for a job similar to the one that I posted about earlier. I've looked at a couple of companies that hire bloggers and honestly think that I have a decent chance of getting hired for something in the near future. The extra money would make a pretty big difference around here and would mean that we could probably get a second (more reliable) vehicle.

That would mean some pretty significant changes for me/us. I could join the local "Y" and maybe start back to Weight Watchers and belly dancing. I'd be able to take Sprout for play dates and interact with other moms. A lot of this would end up being blog fodder for my new blog. But I haven't figured out, yet, what kind of changes this will represent for this blog. It probably means that I'll focus more on the studio work and business aspects of my life rather than on the balancing act of my life as a whole. I'm hoping that I'll achieve the same balance by writing in multiple places that I'm currently attempting here.

In the interim, I need to update the blog for the altered book project with pictures of my pages and of the book stand for the finished book. I have packages to get in the mail for a very patient Etsy buyer and my surprisingly patient niece. Once I finally feel caught up on all this other stuff, I'll be able to focus on writing and new Etsy listings.

20 April 2006

Frankenstein's Laptop

I've been working with a series of stop-gap computers over the course of the last week after the untimely death of my laptop. The computer in question came to me second hand and quickly evidenced a couple of display issues. (How minor they were is really more a question of when they presented and what I was trying to do at the time.) I learned a measure of self-control and patience as a result of working with my flakey display.

In addition to the display issues, we quickly learned that toddler fingers are particularly well suited to pulling the wings off butterflies the keys off laptop keyboards. All told, whether it was the insanity producing effort involved in typing blog entries without using the letter "B" or never knowing when my display was suddenly and irevocably going to white out, I knew that the laptop was not long for this world.

The final flicker happened last week, and I suddenly found myself in a complete panic about the website backups, writing, and other things on the hard drive. Email I could manage, but what would I do without the graphics that I'd been working on for the altered book project, or the notes for my wires article?

I am very fortunate that my husband had access to a laptop carcass from a roughly contemporary machine. The carcass had been stripped of drives and ram, but my beloved was able to cobble together from the two machines a perfectly serviceable piece of hardware. I've lost some screen acreage and the hybrid machine has little or no battery life, but I'm online, I can write, and I'm making progress on the altered book.

Now, it's off to bed. We've got a busy day in front of us tomorrow.

11 April 2006

Our regularly scheduled blog subjects

I'm in the process of drafting a series of new tutorials for my website. The first will be an attempt at a comprehensive exploration of the wires used in firing beads and suspending glazed objects in the kiln. Most of the information is actually already available through the blog if you use the tags. My goal is to actually write up a more complete explanation of what options are available, how the different options can be used, and where to get answers to additional questions.

Once I've gotten the first tutorial written and ready to post, I'll probably add a series of links in the sidebar here in the blog to all of the tutorials on my website so that they're easier to find. Since these are web things and not expected to be printed I will probably have links in the body of the tutorials to blog entries on related subjects and to my del.icio.us index so that future blog entries on additional experiments can be easily accessed for more information.

In the interim, if you want info on wires and firing, you can poke around http://del.icio.us/mysticspiral.

On other subjects, I'm no longer freaking out about my pending job application. I have every reason to believe that the application materials made it where they needed to be and it is now completely out of my hands. I'd love the job. I honestly think that I'd be good at it. If I don't get it, I now know that I'd like to find something similar. Enough said.

Other than that, I'm obsessing over an altered book project that I'm working on. The book is inteded as an entry into Etsy.com's Coproduction Competition. When finished, the book will be sold to benefit the New Orleans Public Library Foundation rebuilding fund.

It is amazing to me the way that the book has consumed my imagination. My dreams have been filled with page spreads. The theme of the book is women throughout time. I'm afraid that the 3 spreads that I'm currently trying to finish may be a bit more ambitious than I thought when I was waiting for the book to arrive. I have begun to wonder if I'm outside my deapth. And the thing that is most alarming to me is that I find myself consumed by additional ideas. If I can just finish the three spreads that I've started, I'll get the book in the mail and work on tip-ins to go into the book later.

07 April 2006

A wallflower in a gymnasium of electrons

I applied for a job last week. The responses to this news from family and friends have been mixed at best. I've gotten a lot of "Why did you do that?" reactions. There seems to be quite a bit of disappointment from the stands. My beloved suggests that this is because my friends and family have a lot invested (emotionally and psychologically) in my studio success. So many of my loved ones are creative in some way themselves and they see my efforts in my home studio as proof that it **CAN** be done. It is possible to have an artistic career and a family.

Somehow if I get a job it is like saying that I'm just not making it as a studio artist. Or, maybe I'm projecting. I've wrestled off and on since the beginning with questions about whether or not my income makes enough of a contribution to our family budget. I've wondered, sometimes even aloud, whether or not we'd be better off if I just got a temp job or something. Wouldn't the money be better than the satisfaction of knowing that my esoteric skills are being practiced? Those questions don't usually go very far. We made a major lifestyle change that must be taken into consideration and factored into any equation which involves me working outside of the home. I'm not sure that I have a commercially marketable skill set which will compensate me well enough to pay for childcare. It is certainly not a net gain if we spend as much or more on childcare as I will bring home at the end of a week working outside the home.

So I decided to try applying for a job that didn't require me to leave home. The problem is, I sent the application materials and entered an uncomfortable limbo. I know that the company received ***ALOT*** of applications. I don't know how they are processing them or how long to expect it to take. I've started having these nightmare visions that the huge influx of application materials caused some sort of mailserver problem and my application was never received. (If I were the one processing the applications, I'd probably have set up an auto-responder to send a note acknowledging recipt of the materials... or maybe I wouldn't have thought of it if I weren't the one sitting at home wondering if the application even made it as far as the inbox...)

I've been checking the corporate blog of my dream employers on a daily basis hoping for some indication of how the process is going and what sort of timeline they anticipate. In the meantime, I feel a bit like I did at every junior high school dance I went to. I'm sitting here by the wall hoping that even if no one asks me to dance, they'll at least acknowledge my existance with a nod or a smile. (I got over that by the time that high school started... I avoided the dances and made fun of the whole idea.)