Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Please help the Beads of Courage program on December 2

I know you're probably focusing on turkey and family right now, but what are you doing on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving?  Did you know it's #GivingTuesday?

Beads of Courage, a program near and dear to my heart, needs some help to get 300 kids off the waiting list for beads.  You can donate here on their Crowdwise funding page, or copy and paste this link into your browser:  It's easy and you can rest assured that Jean and her team use these funds expertly, with incredible passion and energy for kids facing serious illnesses.

Here's some more information about this program, straight from their website:

Did you know that not all Beads of Courage children get their beads at a hospital? MANY children get their beads in the mail through our "Beads from a Distance" program - either because there is no hospital program in their area, or because their hospital does not provide beads for their particular illness.

The "Beads from a Distance" program is offered FREE to all children and teens who meet the criteria to participate. These are children with both acute and chronic life-threatening illnesses.

As word has spread of this popular and empowering program, an ever-growing demand for "Beads from a Distance" has outpaced our ability to provide beads to all children and families requesting them.

A lack of funds for "Beads from a Distance" has resulted in a current waiting list of 300 children in the U.S. and 100 on the international waiting list, with only a few fortunate children per month officially moved off the waiting list and enrolled in the program.

The long wait to start receiving Beads of Courage is extremely frustrating for children and families who are already coping with the stress of serious illness.

Through the "Beads from a Distance" program, children receive colorful beads for every test, treatment, and procedure they undergo. The beads serve as powerful visual symbols of courage and help children (and those around them!) realize how strong they are in the face of sometimes frightening medical challenges.

Beads of Courage have been shown to:

• Decrease illness-related distress
• Increase the use of positive coping strategies
• Help children find meaning in their illness
• Restore a sense of self
• Provide a way to tell others of their experiences

We need YOU to make beads come true!

Please help us reach our goal of $20,000 by Giving Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

"Giving Tuesday" is a global movement added to the calendar on the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a day for giving back after the two biggest spending days of the year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Jewelry Booth Display - Fabric Covered Grid Panels

I know that a lot of you enjoyed reading my post on my Compact, Portable Art Show Booth.  Since then my booth has evolved a lot, and I thought I would update you on what I'm using now.  As always, it's a work in progress, and who knows what it might be in a few years.  This is the arrangement I used most recently at the Sacramento Arts Festival.  This year I downsized from a corner booth to a middle one, and it was cozy, particularly when both Heidi and I were in the booth.

I wanted to make better use of the vertical space in my booth, and also avoid the hassle and anxiety I experience just before a show in trying to figure out what goes where, on which busts, at what eye level, etc.  My new design is based on using the grid panels as functional elements - previously they were used mainly to hang framed pictures from.  My new booth uses upholstered styrofoam panels as display boards that hang from fabric covered grid panels on legs.

The new booth.  A work in progress.
I bought some L-shaped legs to support the four grid panels, and learned the hard way that they need weight on them to stay upright.  I didn't want the legs sticking out to the front (unsightly and a trip hazard), so they're in back and that plan unfortunately cost me some floor space.  Over the legs in the back of each of the grid panels is a board with a weight on it. 

I bought some painting drop cloths, cut them down and sewed sleeves to make the grid panel covers, and then I dyed them.  You know all that fuss about "dye lots"?  It's worth paying attention to if you decide to dye things in more than one batch.  Trust me.  I'm also using some shelves specifically made for grid panels, and they work well to feature a tiny vignette drawn from the work above on the grid panels.  They are fabric covered as well. 

I found the shutters at a neighbors' junk yard for free and have made earring cards for my earrings - I kind of like them showing this way.  Much less visual clutter, and I love working with paper, especially paper with a subtle texture to it.  The table below the shutters is the same one I used in between my two tables in my last setup - it's a cardboard box with a weight inside of it, and a plywood top.

I found some neutral colored decor and upholstery fabric remnants to cover the styrofoam display boards, and attached them with spray adhesive and display pins.  I'm still working on a plan to frame them somehow - for now there are a few framed in rope braid trim from the upholstery section of the fabric store, but I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I think they could use some kind of framing. 

The lights on the grid panels are just clip on LED lights from Lowe's.  The lights over my one table are a custom arrangement that I also use in my studio at home to support a length of PVC that has a set of 3 track lights on it.  This one is a smaller set of 3, cable tied to a 2" diameter aluminum tube (also from the neighbor's junkyard - God Bless the hoarders), and it's held by some black iron pipe (covered with a burlap sleeve).  Each upright goes into a flange fitting that I screwed into a thick plywood base.  It's pretty sturdy.
New sign holders.  These were made from mortar (in a plastic cup), copper garden plant markers, and sheet moss.  They will not tip over.  I love them!
The display boards get transported in a big plastic tub, padded with bubble wrap, and are well protected.  They are super lightweight and effective at presenting work in related collections.  I think that's the part about this setup that I love the most - I can group things ahead of time when my mind is at ease, and fill in any gaps better. 
My small table.  There's an earring rack and a few other items on busts or on a tray.
One drawback of having so much work displayed on the walls is that there is little room for my posters - I'll have to work on that.  Browsers like to have a feel for what's in your booth before they commit to walking in.

So that's the 50,000 foot flyover of the new plan.  Is it less work than the old one?  Well, I can tell you that I didn't enjoy putting together and breaking down those multi-tiered buffet servers I used to use.  And lugging around 50 lbs worth of broken glass to use underneath my jewelry displays.  And trying to figure out how to lay everything out during those rushed moments before a show opens.  And I no longer use the camping tables with the scissor legs after a couple of mishaps resulting in all my jewelry on the ground at one show where the footing wasn't terribly level, and a few times where customers tripped on the extra long legs (they had PVC risers on them).  I've also decided that my work shows best on a light background, so I'm no longer using black busts and table coverings - instead I'm using revamped busts in a lighter scheme. And one thing that's a constant for me particularly with indoor shows on concrete is the gel or interlocking foam square flooring.  I couldn't do the shows without it.

I'm sure the next time out with this will see some changes.  But that's what makes it so much fun, right?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Capping and Coring Workshop!

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a lovely flock of talented ladies from our local Silicon Valley Fireflies ISGB chapter for a bead capping and coring workshop in my studio.  It was a great opportunity for me to clear the cobwebs (among other things) out of there, and get things organized once again.  But I must admit, it made me nervous to have to actually put away my torch and kiln to clear space on my workbench for metal working.  The thought of not being able to use it at a moment's notice was, well, anxiety producing.  But tomorrow I'll do the quick switch to get it back in glass mode, and all will be well.

About the workshop.  For the uninitiated, capping and coring is the process of applying bead caps to a bead and riveting them in place using metal tubing, like the one shown below.

The ladies learned  how to make caps a couple of different ways, and tried out three different tools to rivet the caps onto the glass beads. 

There was tapping.
And dapping.
And riveting.
And excellent results!  Look at these beautiful beads.
Thanks for attending my very first workshop! 
I had fun teaching this, and the space worked great. No beads were killed and everyone picked up the skills well.  You can't ask for much more than that.

Looks for more workshops in 2015!  I have a few fun topics in mind.  I'll be posting the classes here, on my glass page on Facebook , and who knows, maybe on Instagram too (I'm new to that, so no promises).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Five things you might not know about my online shop

I've been thinking a lot about my customers lately.  I'm trying to better understand our relationship, and see things from their point of view.  In doing this it has occurred to me that there are probably things that the customers I interact with at shows aren't aware of concerning my online shop.  Things that seem obvious to me, but maybe aren't obvious to them. 

Anyway, a little prelude.  I sell on a website called Etsy It's a massive marketplace of what used to be mostly handmade things, but now includes vintage and supplies.  I have my own "mini-site" there with beads and jewelry, and Etsy provides some online tools for me to manage my shop, in exchange for some fees associated with the privilege of listing and selling things.  You can also message me there and I always respond within the day.  It's open 24/7, and yes, if you find yourself (ahem) unable to sleep some night, you can peruse to your hearts' content.  Trust me, you won't get back to sleep very soon.  If you've never shopped on Etsy, all you need to do to buy there is to create your account following these simple instructions.  All they want is an email address, a user name, and a password. 

So let's clear up some mysteries, shall we?

Five Things You Might Not Know About My Online Shop
1.  I offer gift certificates.  If you think your special person would probably like my jewelry, but can't decide what to get them, you can let them do the choosing, in a very civilized way.  All you have to do is purchase the gift certificate, then give me their email address and I'll send them a special code to use during checkout to use their certificate.  Or I'll send them a paper gift certificate if you prefer.  By law gift certificates don't expire in California, so they have plenty of time to browse my offerings and choose something pretty.   Easy.

2.  I ship all of the items in my shop anywhere in the United States for FREE.  Pretty nice, huh?   I do ship internationally, but charge for it as it's gotten quite expensive.  So it costs you the same to purchase my things whether you do it in person at a show or online. 

3.  I custom fit most of my items according to your desires, at no extra charge.  You don't have to worry if the item you order fits.  I try to provide all of the information you need to decide (height, width, size, color, etc.), but you can also send me some key information and I'll help you make a good choice.

4.  I package my items so that they are ready to gift.  To yourself, or to someone you love.  I do my best to recycle and reduce landfill waste in the process. 

5.  I happily refund your money if the item you buy doesn't meet your expectations, for any reason, if you return it within 2 weeks.  You pay the return shipping.  It's only fair since I paid to send it to you, right?

I also offer some special deals through my newsletter, but that's a topic for another day.  Have I left out anything?  Please let me know and I'd be happy to answer. 


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