Custom order!

Someone from Twitter approached me about doing a custom order for them today. YAY! I won't divulge too much about it right now, but I'll show you what I bought for it.

Both of these lovely hanks are from the Artfire Studio Beads and Babble

Can't wait to receive this order to start working!

Good moon rising

Monday, November 23, 2009

I miss having a specific topic to write about; something I had when I was a columnist for HMN. So I've been thinking about how I could bring that back into my life. Seeing how much fun many of my blogger peers are having by doing features of other artist and bloggers, I decided to expand the scope of my own blog to do a weekly feature.

Once I'd decided to write features, the second point to consider was what topic to focus on. I wanted to try to develop a bit of a theme, or rhythm. I love discovering new things; that's one of the joys of sharing in the online art community. I find that one of the best ways to discover new things is by doing a search with a random keyword. I've been doing this for years with Google when I've been bored. Lately, Stumbleupon has automated this little hobby of mine. It's surprising, the things that pop up that you normally would never think of looking for otherwise. So I figured, "Why not do the same with my favorite online handmade venues?" I think it's worth a shot and I'm bound to come across some interesting finds. I plan on sharing the best of what I discover with you weekly. This should be fun!

For my first feature, I chose the search word "moon". Blame New Moon; everyone I know has done nothing but talk about this movie for days now and I guess the word "moon" was the first that popped into my head when I sat down to think over my feature for this week.

Right off the bat, I found two wonderful artists with moon related themes that I thought were worth sharing. The first is a studio aptly named Purple Moon Gifts run by Kirsten Tippett who has been making and designing jewelery for over 17 years. Kirsten runs two types of studio. One displaying finished jewelery pieces and the other supplies for jewelery making. What caught my eye in relation to my search word today were these adorable little moon face beads.

It's wonderful to sit around and admire the finished work of talented artisans, but it's also a bonus to find a great supply shop to feed our own creative drive. What I love about supporting artisan run supply studios is knowing that behind all those beads and findings is a real person, not just some overstock depot. So if you are in the market for really cute jewelry making supplies, PMG Jewelry Supplies is a great place to check out.


My second choice this evening goes to naokosstoop. A wonderful little studio on Etsy run by a Brooklyn based illustrator named Naoko Stoop. The style is not one that I've encountered before, but I've totally fallen in love with unique and graceful beauty of these illustrations. This particular print is from a collection of illustrations called the Brown Paper Bag Collection. This one is called Moon No6.

This studio offers a lovely collection of prints, original drawings and note cards. A definite worthwhile find. I wouldn't be surprised to find myself returning to this studio the next time I'm looking to find a really cute and original illustration.

So that's it for my first random word search feature. I'm hoping to be able to do one every week, so check back often to see what other fabulous finds I've come across.

Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

A few new pieces

Just wanted to share a few of the new pieces I've put together since I've started working on my crafts again. Looking at these, I can definitely see a difference in style from my previous work. It was not intended as I simply create along the current wind of inspiration, but I think it's neat how these pieces came out.

I can easily see this piece being used as a hair decoration for a beach wedding.

This little flower is so classy. I love it!

It seems as though "classy" is my theme lately. Maybe it's just the colour palette I've chosen for my recent pieces.

Now this little piece is not what I would call classy, but it is definitely cute and fun. I never intended to give it antennae but it certainly looks like that's what happened!

This is another in my "classy" pieces series.

This is a bit of an experimental piece, and I'm not sure what I think of it. I mixed opaque and transparent beads to give a bit of an effect.

Well, that's what's new. I'm hoping to be able to keep up with creating a few new pieces every week.

On the road again....

... that is, the road to success, hopefully. My crafting hiatus seems to have come to a close, (thank goodness - I was starting to go a little bonkers) and I'm ready to start work on my crafting and marketing of said crafts.

I have to say, if it weren't for the crafty people I meet online everyday, my funk might have lasted longer, but seeing what everyone is up to is inspiring and makes me want to jump in and play.

A couple of changes in the direction I want to take have finally become clear to me. First, I'm going to stick to smaller beaded pieces, for now anyways. My plan is to stock up my studio with many more pieces in order to give people more of a choice. I was getting discouraged, working on large flower arrangements and bouquets. I'm keeping the door open for custom orders on for large pieces, but for now, I'm going to put my effort into creating smaller and fun accessories.

The second point which has become clear to me is how bored I get, only doing one type of crafting at once. I need a variety of things to keep me interested and challenged. I've thought a lot about what type of craft I would enjoy doing and would also offer a quicker turnaround than beaded flowers. Polymer clay seems to fit the bill quite nicely. I've been doing a lot of reading on the types of things that can be done with it and the possibilities seems rather endless. I like that. A lot. It's also rather easy to get into, no huge investment needed; financially, for equipment or space. Those are all important points to me.

I know it may seem backwards to approach a crafting business in this manner. Most people fall into doing something they love and afterward they develop a business. In my case, I love too many things and it's just not feasible to over extend myself in that manner. Creating things makes me happy, that's what I love. The medium in which I work is almost secondary. I've never met a craft I didn't like. Combining that creative drive with a marketable product gives me a sense of purpose. That sense of purpose gives me strength. Maybe it's a way to regain control over my life, (which often feels beyond my reach of control) even if only a little bit. I don't know how else to explain it.

So, in an effort to get the ball rolling again, I've done a few things. First, I've set up a Flickr account and I've posted all my crafting pictures there. Through this, I'm hoping to expand my circle of online crafty acquaintances.
If you're on Flickr, or just curious to see my pictures, please visit my photostream,
and add me as a contact!

I've also finished a few beaded pieces that had been laying around, half finished for months. I've also created some totally new pieces, a few of which have already been listed. I'm trying to be more active on Twitter and following a few more crafty blogs.

Specifically with regards to my business, I've taken on a more confident mind set. I did some shopping on Etsy and Artfire for supplies. When the day comes when pieces start selling, I will be ready with return mailing labels, organza gift bags, up-to-date business cards etc. I think I was a little afraid of pushing sales before, because I didn't feel that I would be presenting my work professionally.

So there you have it. That's the whole story, and then some. My aim, going forward is to really get my name out there. Follow more blogs, and be followed in return. Keep this darn blog updated ('cause we all know that would help) and generally make it known to the world that I'm here. Can't be that hard, now can it? ;)

Have a suggestion to get me started again with online visibility and marketing? Leave me a comment!

The Internal Discourse

There's always an excuse to postpone doing what should be done, isn't there? As of late, I've had more than my fair share of excuses to pick from, but I'm not here to write about all the reasons I've been MIA. Previous posts already address most of the major issues, and now I'm looking to start fresh. Problem is, I'm not sure where to start anymore.

Since my departure* from HMN, I've been thinking quite seriously about what direction I'd like to take with my work, both artistically and through writing. Everything seemed so clear in my head at the beginning of summer. I felt energized and inspired. Maybe the problem was that I became too consumed and lost perspective. Truth is, I'm not sure what happened, or how I got to where I am, but changes need to be made in order to move forward. I'm currently at a stand still and I don't think I'm going to be able get the gears going again until I've had some time to meditate on the whole situation.

There are a few strong and recurring themes that dance around in my head, late at night when I can't sleep.

1. I need a creative outlet to keep me sane.

2a. That creative outlet takes on many forms, always has and probably always will. I get bored very easily and love to bounce around to different projects.

2b. Completion of projects is rarely the ultimate goal. Half finished projects used to bother me and make me feel bad. I've come to appreciate the time I can spend being creative rather than looking at ways to produce finished pieces.

3a. Ironically, I draw a sense of personal satisfaction from categorizing my creative efforts into neat little labels. Writer, knitter, French beaded artist. etc.
3b. Being officially recognized under one of those labels is even more rewarding. I haven't decided yet if the reward is internalized or for show/comparison; a public benchmark. I'm leaning towards believe the latter. Does that take chip away at my integrity?

4. I don't actually believe that any label could ever properly describe who I am, or what I'm capable of.

5. The above points worry me. It's one thing to craft for fun and relaxation and quite another to attempt to make a business of it. I'm confident in my abilities to run a small business as I've had the experience before and found it to be one of the most rewarding of my life. In that instance though, my lively hood did not depend on creative whim. Point 2b could prove to be especially problematic.

6. I've always heard that the happiest people are those who've combine doing what they love with what earns them their bread. In my case, I'm not sure that what I love is marketable. Or perhaps, I love too many things to devise a focused marketing plan.

7. I feel as though I'm standing at the cross roads of major decisions. So far in my life, I'm not convinced that I've always made the best decisions. The fear of taking another wrong turn feds my inertia, and doing nothing is still considered making a choice in my books. Doing nothing is no longer an option I am comfortable with, but I am unsure as to what path to take instead. It's a circular argument...

....So here I stand, twirling these ideas over and over in my head. I've been having a similar internal discourse for as long as I can remember. I think pondering such question is one of the few things that separates most of us from our childhood. These feel like grown up questions to me anyways. What I'd like to know is, where are the grownup answers hiding?

*There were some serious changes made to the organizational structure. Based on those changes, I reevaluated my goals and chose to move in a different direction.

Trying to get the ball rolling again

Well, there's no doubt it's been a difficult summer. We are slowly getting over the shock of loosing my husband's mum a few weeks ago. Cancer is a bitch.

I've really been neglecting my art as of late, but I'm slowly trying to get back into the routine. It's helpful to have an outlet at times like these, but sometimes finding the energy is the hard part.

My current project is a brooch from a family member. No pictures yet, but by the end of this week, I should have a few pieces ready for display. So check back for an update on that.

I'm also very proud and excited about the latest development over at HMN. My husband, James is the latest writer to join our dept! I've always loved reading him, and I think he'll be taking our dept. into new directions that are going to be both fun and informational.

My latest article is on a topic that is close to my heart; French Crepes. My mom made them a few times a month as Sunday brunch growing up. In recent years, I've perfected a delicious dessert filling that I'm happy to share with you here.

Finding the muse.

To the few faithful readers I have the privilege of having, I apologize for my extended leave of absence. Trust me, I'm more upset about it then you are, although that doesn't make it any better, I admit.

As evidenced by the last post on this blog, James and I have had a rough summer. This past week we also lost one of our chickens. So now we have three freshly dug graves. It's hotter than hell outside and the heat gives me migraines.

My paying job is quickly getting very hectic again as we are starting up our annual 4 month harvest season.

To sum it up in two words: This sucks. But I'll try to be positive. So let's look at the good stuff.

Writing for HMN remains a constant source of personal satisfaction. Coming through on deadlines and receiving feedback from fellow writers, craft enthusiasts and the Twitter community is immensely rewarding. Makes me feel productive, creative and gives me the sense that I'm not completely wasting my life.

Last weekend an aunt of mine whom I hadn't seen in many years dropped in for a short visit while she was visiting the maritimes. She bought a tiger lily and a clover. My first sale! Does it count if it's family? I'll say that it does. Later on this week, good friends of mine approached me to buy a hair clip for a family member of theirs celebrating her birthday this week. Wow! Sale #2. We attended this birthday celebration last night and had a wonderful alfresco evening. Even the bugs were reasonable. This morning I received an email from someone in my extended family, requesting a lapel pin. Could this mean that things are actually starting to move along now with this little venture of mine? I'm hopeful that it is! Now if only I could get my butt in gear and start creating again....

In lieu of the obligatory crafty picture this round, here's a picture of me, fresh off the press from this morning. I thought it was time to get a decent head shot out there in cyber space so that people would get a sense of who I am. Might facilitate making friends on this networking playground.

Now if only Twitter would stop giving me trouble uploading this, I could make a proper debut.