Friday, July 31, 2009

Feel Lucky?

"My Favorite Amulet", now in my Etsy shop.

I have been fascinated with one holed beads lately. It got started with Meanies, and has continued with my Amulet series. Why is it that making a bead off the end of a mandrel is so much fun for me right now? Some are whimsical in bright colors, and some are in my usual rich, vibrant theme.

I've incorporated these beads into a new "Amulet" series which uses simple findings that I have forged from fine silver, and often incorporates other precious elements such as crystals and freshwater pearls. The silver can be left shiny if you're that kind of person, or aged with a nice antiqued look.

Smoky Plum Amulet, available now in my Etsy shop.

"Simple Apricot Amulet", now in my Etsy shop.

Could you use some extra luck today?

And oh, I've been making some very large focal beads again, and loving it. Here are two, both in my Etsy shop now.

New focal beads for July.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back in the Saddle, Again...(almost)

I am back from The Gathering in Miami, head spinning with fond memories and new ideas and opportunities, suitcase brimming with awesome beads from the bead swap, and a To Do list that is mind boggling. With paperwork at the top of the list, I'll soon be getting to some photos of my new work for my Etsy shop, housecleaning, loose end tying, and news sharing.

I met so many people in Miami that my head is spinning- people whose lampwork blows your mind, who are as nice as the day is long. There were so many who came by my table at the Bead Bazaar with very nice things to say about Cyndie Smith and my Mean Green Mother Earth piece in the Convergence exhibit. I am sad that Cyndie wasn't able to make it - she lost her beloved mother last week and had to cancel at the last minute, but her work was there and got great feedback. Everyone sends their love and support to Cyndie and her family during this difficult time.

You will hear much more from me about this, but I just want to say that anyone who is making lampwork beads should seriously be a member of the ISGB. It's an incredible bargain at $55, and the web page covers just the tip of the iceberg on what you get for that price. While many of the benefits are fully realized by going to a conference (which can be expensive), you get just as much back as you spend, usually more. Possibly to come in the next year include virtual ways of attending the conferences, and more ways to get involved, learn and perfect your bead making skills, and interact with some of the best in this field. I encourage you to check it out and give it some serious thought.

Meanwhile, enjoy this video the ISGB put together with photos sent in from its members - it was very well done, and shown at various times throughout the conference.

I hope to figure out which way is up in the next day or two, and will be back with more news.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Gathering of Meanies

Miami Meanies.

Guess who's coming to Miami?

Yep. The Meanies. With and without tongue (we all feel differently about tongue, right?), with and without my own fine silver findings, many colors, and many personalities.

Here's the fine print:

ISGB Gathering Bead
Saturday, July 25
Hyatt Regency Hotel Ballroom

400 South East Second Avenue
Miami, FL 33131

Open to the Public from 10a-5p

It's been insufferably hot here lately, but it hasn't stopped me from working feverishly to gather my thoughts, my Meanies, my jewelry, and my focal beads for this year's annual meeting of beadmakers in Miami. It will be my first time traveling to this event, and there's much to coordinate. My wonderful DH is making me a couple of kick butt bead displays - I've not really shown my loose beads until now.

I'm not so sure about the sanity in this, but I've also been making some new designs to schlep to Miami. This one incorporates one of my one-holed beads, freshwater pearls, crystals, and some of my own fused and hammered fine silver wire components:

I still haven't gotten my postcards printed, but my graphic designer friend is cranking out some way cool drafts. She's a delightful friend I've known ever since I showed up wide eyed and terrified for grad school at Purdue one day August in 1983.

I'll need to put my Etsy shop on vacation mode from COB on Monday, July 20, until Tuesday, July 28. So, if there's something you can't live without, grab it now or come back after I return. There will be lots of new work in my shop.

Enjoy the day, get something done you've had on your list forever (it will make you feel great), and stay cool!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kids these Days!

Talent is coming in smaller and smaller packages these days, eh?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

California's state budget is sooooo bad

Yes, our budget is so bad here, they've had to make some changes to the K-9 staff. But I'm sure "Titan" is up for the challenge.

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

We're having a heat wave this week, and it's causing me to arrange my day to best deal with it. Last night it was 80 degrees in the house at bedtime. Yuck. When it gets hot like this we live like folks have for centuries - we air out the house and get stuff done early in the day or in the evening when it's cool, and hide out like cave dwellers the rest of the day with the windows and blinds shut. We live in the mountains where air conditioning is not usually required - we have the marine influence here from the Pacific ocean, which usually brings a cooling fog in from Monterey Bay each night. Not lately.

I'm looking forward to a productive day today, and so far it's going well. Thirstiest plants outside are being watered, menus and groceries for the week are in place, and the laundry is done. What I'm not thrilled about is the headache and tickle in my throat that is usually the harbinger of a cold to come. Who ever thought people got colds in the summer? Fortunately I have some Zicam around and I'll be using it until I whip it.

Today I am going to make some more beads for The Gathering this morning while it's cool, and head into the house when I can't stand the heat any more. I'm focusing on focals (that seems redundant), though I'll be bringing some jewelry pieces with me to Miami as well for the Bead Bazaar table I'll be sharing with Cyndie on Saturday, July 25.

While I've been to one Gathering already, I didn't fully participate, so there will be many parts of it that will be new to me. I'm going to volunteer at least a couple of hours, take some classes, and try to take in at least one open torch. I've not done the bead trading thing before, so I'm not really sure what to expect - do I just bring my regular beads for this?

The part about this trip I'm most excited about is that I'll be meeting my metalsmith cohort Cyndie Smith in person for the first time! We've had tons of email, convo, and FB messages, a few phone calls, but despite our collaborative works we've not ever met. Isn't the interweb wonderful? I think we're going to have a blast.

"Mean Green Mother Earth", carnivorous neckpiece in metal and glass
by Cyndie Smith (metal) and Patty Lakinsmith (glass), now in
the ISGB / Bead & Button's Convergence Exhibit.

I'm also going to see our collaborative piece, Mean Green Mother Earth in person for the first time. Sure, we exchanged sketches, bead and metal photos, and all that, but Cyndie was the one who put the whole thing together and sent it to Bead and Button for the exhibit. It will be on display with the rest of the fabulous Convergence entries, and I can't wait to see them all in person. Here's the gallery info for the Convergence exhibit:

2911 Grand Avenue

Coconut Grove, Florida
June 20 - July 24, 2009

You can be sure that we'll be bringing lots of Meanie beads (with and without tongue!), brooches, and rings, and maybe even a few surprises. I can't wait to see everyone there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Compact Art Festival Booth

My new outdoor booth layout for 2009.

I did an Art and Wine show over the weekend at a local winery, and thought I would share my booth experience. I've been doing this for about 4 years now, and am learning a lot. I used to use the family pickup truck to haul my stuff to and from the show, but it started to be a problem because my husband could not take the boat out fishing when I had the truck. I used the traditional 6'+ fold up tables which can be heavy and difficult to lug around, not to mention tough to transport without a truck.

So, I was motivated to find a set-up that met the following goals:

1. Aesthetically pleasing and professional looking
2. Compact - needs to fit into a Prius
3. Inexpensive
4. Flexible - different shows sometimes force different layouts, so the booth needs to be reconfigurable.

Thus started my quest to acquire pieces that would work. First I bought the Caravan canopy at Costco, which has worked well for the most part. I got the one with the carrying case and side walls (for closing the booth up at night), but I suspect the reason that this one was at Costco was that there is about 3" too little fabric to easily fit the walls around the sides. The only way I can get it to zip up as advertised is to attach the walls before the unit is completely expanded, and then pop it up. It's very frustrating that the vendor couldn't just make the walls an inch wider. This canopy fits into my Prius with the back seats folded down, behind the passenger seat.

The grid panels are 2' x 6' and can be hung individually with cable ties (my most-used item!) from the canopy framework, joined together in pairs (again, with cable ties) to provide two right-angle corners that fit nicely around one table, or joined in a triangle or square for a totally vertical display. They can support a track light fixture for indoor shows. I like to hang large photos of my work from them so that people who are walking by the booth can tell what kind of work I have without "committing" to enter the booth. The panels could also be used to display actual jewelry pieces as well, in frames.

The reed fencing is new this year, and came from Home Depot. It was dirt cheap at $20 for 16'. I like the way it softens the back and sides of the booth. It's reusable at home for outdoor decor too.

The carpet was another Costco item and is made from recycled plastic, and is good for outdoor shows where there is a lot of dirt. Unfortunately, I have to clean it - this year it made its debut at a rainy show with mud, and it's filthy.

The curtains tie onto the canopy frame, and were inexpensively purchased at Cost Plus Imports. The two tables are metal roll-up camping tables from Sierra Trading Post, and I use PVC pipe to extend the legs to bring the tables up to a comfortable browsing height for jewelry. This is key for jewelry artists - nobody wants to have to bend down to peer at your tiny works of art. The tables are wonderful - they don't weigh much, they're sturdy, and when disassembled they fit into a 5' tubular nylon bag about 10" in diameter, and I can carry two at once.

The two rectangular tables are joined by a square table made from a tall cardboard box (from The Container Store) that is weighted inside and has a 24" square plywood top bungied to the weight. When combined with wood or other rigid tops and bottoms, cardboard boxes are a fabulous, lightweight, flexible option for shows and won't break your bank. I've heard Uline has some great ones too. They can be painted or covered with decorative materials to make an artistic statement as well, and I've seen artists put glass jewelry cases on top for a very professional look.

I like making an "L" shape with the tables to create a "behind the counter" area where I can stand and talk with browsing customers. I've tried other layouts (tables along two back walls) and like this one the best for engaging with people. It also lets me stay in the shade, and gives a protected space for shoppers too.

Underneath the large necklace busts in the back are some lightweight woven fabric storage bins from Storables. Unfortunately they don't nest, but I love how they blend in with the black table coverings to reduce visual clutter. The necklace bar on the square table is made from PVC covered with pipe insulation and then velour, and it's inserted on a wood stand made from a piece of 2 x 4 with a large wooden dowel.

The earring display is a peculiar piece I picked up at a home consignment center - it's a square wooden base with an Eiffel tower-esque obelisque top that has lots of criss crossed wires I can hang earrings on.

Now for the part I'm most excited about - the trays. I found some tiered buffet serving pieces for around $30 each at Bed, Bath & Beyond that break down flat and give a unified look to my booth. This makes efficient use of the space and lets me put stuff higher in back. Sure, these cost a little more than other options, but I really like the look. Since the trays in the back are raised up off the table, it gives me a spot to stash my receipt book, calculator, pliers, etc., and a place where I can write up purchases without requiring another piece of furniture in the booth.

Now serving: Fire Glass!

On the trays is something called "Fire Glass" ( I knew I could use rice, coffee beans, peas, etc. to display the jewelry on, but I wanted something different. You know those newer outdoor gas fire pits? Well, this is the new replacement for lava rock - it appears to be tumbled tempered glass, and what could be more perfect than fire glass for lampwork beads? This stuff comes in many different colors, and while heavy to lug around, I think it really draws people into the booth. When they ask what it is I just tell them it's the windshields from all the cars I've wrecked over the years (jk).

Most of my "miscellaneous" stuff fits into a lidded plastic tub - my gift bags, clamps, cable ties, guest book, business cards, tape, table signage, one table covering, a few busts, mirror, etc. I need an extra bag for gift boxes, however. Since I need to fit stuff into oddly shaped places in my car, I opt for plastic shopping bags for some items - it's easier to squeeze them in than if they were in a rigid tub.

How to Pack a Prius for a show 101.

Not shown are my canopy weights, which currently are an assortment of sandbags and concrete filled PVC.

All of this fits efficiently into my Prius including my jewelry, provided I put things in the car in the right order and in the right spots. The grid panels and canopy have to go on the bottom, behind the passenger seat which is pushed all the way forward. On the floor in front of the passenger seat are the five framed posters of my work. I forgot about the grid panels being on the right and had to repack the car after taking the photo above - I could not get the hatch closed.

So, I am finally self sufficient come show day, and DH can fish to his hearts' content. My heart still melts, however, when he shows up to visit me at a show, or comes by at closing time to lend a hand with the breakdown.

Anyone else have learning experiences to share from their festival set-ups? There are lots of ways to do this, and mine is only one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Little Wine, A Little Art

What could be a better combination? Peanut butter and chocolate, maybe, but not much else.

"Desert and Sea" bracelet. Come see it this weekend,
or check it out in my Etsy shop.

It's show time again! Yes, I've had my head down preparing for shows this month, and enjoying some family time. First one is this weekend at Bargetto Winery, a lovely little venue down in beautiful Soquel, California, near the creek.

There will be about 20 artists there with some work that will knock your socks off. I love this venue - it's so lovely on the patio near the creek, and the music, wine, and food puts everyone in a festive mood. One year someone got married right there at the winery, in the middle of the show.

Here's some work I'll be showing this weekend:

"Daisy May I" lampwork and fine silver handmade necklace,
at Bargetto this weekend and also in my Etsy shop.

"Big Meanie" Lampwork and brass ring,
coming to the show this weekend and also in my Etsy shop.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the Meanies will be coming out to play as well. They seem to be multiplying around here!

Finally, here's a peek at some of our recent travels. That's me and Bodie by Bear Creek, where I caught a beautiful trout (no thanks to him). We're trying to teach him that unlike the pheasant he hunts, we don't need him to flush the fish out of the holes as we approach them. Sigh.


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