Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 29, is something better than nothing?

Well, as you can see from my previous post, I'm playing a little catch up. Week 29's submission, which was supposed to be "Mercury Rising", has nothing to do with that. I think maybe at some point I will revisit that theme, a modified caduceus has caught my imagination.
Instead, I offer a pair of earrings, 16ga sterling, wrapped in 24ga square sterling and 26ga gold fill, with quartz crystal drop. I rushed this, and should have used 24ga round wire, I think the gold filled would have seated itself in nicer with the round wire. Be impressed by my "mad" photography skills, soda can used as tripod (see lower right-hand corner). Taken in my car, in the parking lot of Davy's Dogs, on an old tax folder. Sometimes I frighten myself.

In the meantime, I had a chance to photograph the set I made with the idea of keeping my costs down for wholesale purposes.

Its dark green aventurine or serpentine (I have to check on that) faceted nuggets, with carnelian and honey jade. I haven't priced them yet, but I do know that because they are primarily strung pieces, with handmade clasps, (I did make the bangle bracelet wrapped, but kept it a little more restrained) that my time was really reduced. I was happy to use those green stones, I've had them for ages, and think the colors are quite fun. I'll be very interested to see how they are received. I actually think the pictures came out nicely as well.

We go on vacation next week, I'm hoping to bring my tools and some supplies, and let the seashore refresh my outlook, and recharge my creative juices. Had another crazy weekend (will be discussed in next post with pics), and am ready to go away. How fast has this summer sped by?

Playing Catch Up, Part One, aka The Odyssey

Well, this has been a very busy two weeks since my last post. Thursday, July 19th, my husband Scott and I and another couple, Henry and Ann, left our home in Bridgewater on what has now been named "The Odyssey".

We started out on a long weekend of baseball and shopping in Chicago. Got to Newark airport in plenty of time. Decided last minute that we wanted to check our baggage (Scott and I got lazy with the toiletry packing, what a PITA that 3-1-1 is). Standing in line to check-in (also forgot to print boarding passes, this should have been a sign as well) because the curbside checking was closed. A fellow traveller commented on how long the line was and wondered why no traffic was being allowed into terminal A? Unease is starting to set in. Suddenly, I spy a skycap opening up the curbside. We dash outside, and are second to get checked in. He types our info into his keyboard, "Your flight is cancelled."

"Cancelled? The board says 'on-time". This would become my husbands mantra for the rest of our time in good 'ol EWR.

Click clack on the keyboard, "Cancelled!"

"The board says "On-time!"

Seeing a pattern developing, the skycap wisely decides to go inside and investigate. After a few minutes he returns, "You must go inside, your flight is cancelled". I steer Scott away before an additional mention of the board, and we go back inside to a line that now snakes its way across almost the entire front of the terminal. (And, I will say, the board still announces an on-time departure for our flight).

Henry and I start dialing. I get through to Continental first. This is where I made my first major mistake. Why I only confirmed the cancellation of our flight during this first phone call, I can only chalk up to inexperience with airline snafus. We are very fortunate that we have only heard the airline horror stories. Our flying is primarily for pleasure, and is infrequent. Scott got on my phone and repeated his mantra to the lady, who could only tell us that the flight was cancelled for mechanical reasons, I think, not weather. Ann meanwhile, had been touching base with a friend trying to come in from Chicago, whose flight had also been cancelled. From her reports from Chicago and listening to those around us, we were able to deduce that all flights to and from Chicago that afternoon had been cancelled on Continental, and not because of weather.

I finally break from my travel fog and get back on the horn. We had planned to travel Thursday, and had bleacher tickets to a 12:15 start Cubs game Friday afternoon. The rep informed me that she could get me into Chicago Saturday at 1:00 pm or some such nonsense. Unacceptable. I asked to leave from another area airport. No flights tonight from any airport near us, to Chicago tonight. Unacceptable. Could we fly to Milwaukee? She could get us there 6:00am Friday morning, but because we were changing the departure itinerary, we would have to pay more. Again, unacceptable. This finally switched me into high anger gear. From my red haze I vaguely remember "How is this any way to run a business? I paid for you to get me to Chicago tonight, you have cancelled the flight for something other than weather, and now I'm willing to inconvenience myself to get somewhere near where I need to be, later than when I wanted to be there, and you have the nerve to try to charge me more?" Volume was high, but I did keep my wits about me enough to keep it clean. I was sure I could be very insulting and demonstrative, but once I got vulgar, I would probably get hung up on. To the reps credit she NEVER raised her voice, changed her inflection or tone, and was never anything but apologetic. She would have to get approval for waiver of fees from manager. Waiting, waiting, she comes back on to verify the change of itinerary, landing in Milwaukee on Friday at 6:30 pm. PM, no I thought we had been discussing an AM arrival, no, no AM arrivals from Newark to Milwaukee. Oh crap, because of noise levels, I had misheard her, and now we have to start all over again, and have lost valuable time in the process. People were snapping up whatever they could get, and we were changing plans for 4 people. Anyway, after two hours of wrangling, standing in line, talking to some interesting people who were all in the same boat as us, we got on a 6:30 am flight to Chicago out of Philly (with a switch in Cleveland) on Friday morning.

We hop back in the car, grab dinner, repack our toiletries, get a hotel room in Philly by the airport. (The Renaissance near the airport in Philly is very nice by the way, wish we had spent more than 5 hours in the room). Leave our car at the hotel (fingers crossed it'll be there Monday), take the shuttle to the airport, get through security (which is really bad at Philly, even at 5 am there was a serious line) and wait to get going on the first leg of our already way too long journey. The flight is delayed a few minutes, but the flight to Cleveland is uneventful and pretty pleasant on the little express jet. We love gate checking our bags.

We land in Cleveland five minutes after we were supposed to start boarding our connection to Chicago. Ann and I leave the boys to wait for the bags, while we run to scope out our next gate. Cleveland airport is very small (which for us worked out great). Our connecting flight is delayed until 11:45 because they have no crew, and there are no other flights going to Chicago from this airport today. Scott goes to scout out other departures, while Henry stands in line for our breakfast vouchers. Scott comes back, there is a flight to Milwaukee leaving in 20 minutes or so. We grab our stuff and run down the terminal. There are four seats on this blessed flight. We switch to that flight, just in time for the announcement that the flight has been delayed 20 minutes, and then another 30 minutes. Who doesn't want us in Chicago, let alone in time for the game?

They finally board us, and we take the 40 min(?) hop to Milwaukee. Whoohoo, we're getting closer! We're in the same time zone as our ultimate destination! We follow signs to car rental. Hertz- no one way rentals. Avis- no one way rentals, Budget no. Things are looking damn scary. Are we now going to be stuck in Milwaukee? The boys search from counter to counter, and the very last counter, Dollar, has a van for us, with a navigation system, thank goodness. Because although Scott has driven from Chicago to Milwaukee (for a baseball trip like this one), he has not gone from the airport in Milwaukee directly to Wrigley field, which is what we have to do now, because its getting late. An hour and fifteen of driving later (including a stop at an A&W stand, Curds anyone?),

we are standing in the bleachers of Wrigley field to hear the National Anthem being sung, and see Dennis Miller throw out the first pitch. The downside, Fridays tickets are for the general admission bleachers, which means first, come first sit, last ones in get to stand behind the handicapped seating area, holding their beers.

But, I will say this, where Continental failed us, Mother Nature turned it on, big time. The sun never stopped shining, humidity zilch, temps in the high 70's low 80's. Once we were finally in Chi-town, we had a great time. Dinner two nights at the Weber Grill (we like char-grilled meat), shopping on Michigan Avenue,
walking along the river,
breakfasts at West Egg, more sunshine baseball games (with assigned seats).
We were even able to laugh about it as it was happening.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Year of Jewelry Week 28, Dragons & Phoenix & Slaying my own personal dragons

This is my entry for week 28, titled "Dragon Feather". It is 3 1/2 inches long, including the woven bail. The frame is 16 and 18 gauge sterling wrapped in 26 and thirty gauge sterling wire. The stones are labradorite, chosen for the natural "sooty" appearance of the stone, and hematite. My sister-in-law Meredith helped inspire the pendant, I wonder if it's anything like she imagined?

Next week's themes are "Mercury Rising" or "Bronze Beauty". I will be crunched for time this week, as me and my man are going to Chi-town with another couple for a long weekend. I've made some things already this week, that I won't even bother to stretch toward the theme, as they would never make it, but they are related to personal growth, which is what this challenge is all about. So now you have been witness to my scay good powers of rationalization.

Friday was my meeting with the owner of The Farmhouse Store, in Westfield. If you are ever in that neck of the woods, I highly reccomend it. Nice variety of interesting things.

I worked very hard putting together a collection of pendants, some with matching earrings, and was really sweating this whole thing (completely self imposed nervousness I assure you). I got lost going there, my deo gave up all hope of controlling my nervous sweat, and was 12 minutes late, even though I had given myself an innordinate amount of time to get there. Ed was completely lovely and gracious as always. He was very encouraging and offered me a ton of helpful advice on both pricing for wholesale purposes, and for what he has been selling successfully in his shop.

All my pretties came home with me, but he was very complimentary of my work, and is willing to look at more stuff, if I can get my wholesale prices down. He appreciated the intricacies of the work I presented, but what is selling for him right now are very funky, bold, graphic pieces, many of which the technique is not complicated, but the composition is knock out. Stuff I can, and have, done. Recently I have gotten caught up with attempting more and more intricate and difficult skill sets, and have gotten away from some of the more basic, but still good techniques of the past. My drive home (and ensuing shoe shopping) afforded me time to come up with a new plan.

First thing, use what I have. I have a ton of big and interesting beads purchased over that last 2 years or so that I have abandoned. I will revisit these guys, and figure out interesting ways to combine them, using techniques that can keep my costs down (on some of my pieces, time is my biggest expense). Next step, follow the old adage, KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid ( or Sweety). I will do a group of pieces (a necklace, a bracelet and maybe a couple of sets of earrings), all using the same components, speedy quick. Then, I will let myself do a more difficult or elaborate piece, for the same collection as a reward. I have decided to make this a challenge to myself. I will work outside the safe little box I created for myself. I have almost completed the first group using these parameters, pictures will come along later this week.

In the meantime, I will box up my pendants, and ship them to my mom, to see how they are received at her office. She has threatened not to sell any more of my stuff for me until I can do a trunk show in person in Florida, but she'll give in. She knows that there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.
Until next time, thanks for letting me vent.

Year of Jewelry Week 28 Dragons & Phoenix

Here was my piece for week 28, called "Dragon Feather". It is 16 and 18 gauge sterling, labradorite and hematite. The bail is woven. Its pretty big, about 3 1/2 inches long. My sister in law helped me with my composition, when she sees it, I wonder if it's what she had in mind.

I felt pretty good about sticking to the theme this week. Next week is Mercury Rising, Bronze Beauty. We are going to Chicago for a long weekend, so I probably won't do something on theme, but more on that later.

Friday was my meeting with the owner of The Farmhouse Store, in Westfield New Jersey. Ed was wonderful and gracious and gave me some great advice regarding pricing, and I'll be back there with some different stuff for him to look at. He said my prices were fair if I were selling myself, but were too high for wholesale purposes. He showed me things that were selling really well for him. Funny, they are mainly chunky, funky fun pieces, mostly strung. Probably what I would have brought to him if we'd met a year ago. Our conversation challenged me to go outside myself a little bit. I am going to use only what I already have. I will do two or three very quick pieces with all the same components, and then will allow myself to do a piece that is more labor and materials extensive to give a range of price, while still allowing myself to attempt to wrap everything and anything that will stand still long enough in wire (these intial pieces will be my week 29 submission because of time constraints). He really loved two pieces that I was wearing (pictures will follow), but those of you who know me will probably know what I'm describing. He really loved my Eni-style cuff, with the big white lodalite stones and bali silver, and a necklace I hade made for myself with smokey quartz and pearls and a modestly wrapped quartz pendant. After I recovered from the relief that I had finally had this meeting (I am very nervous about talking professionally about my pieces), I went home and started having FUN with beads I had bought a year or more ago, and never did anything with.
So,I was a little sad, because I loved all the pendants I made for this and they all came home with me. But, I finally got my act together to speak to someone regarding my jewelry in a professional capacity and received some wonderful advice and validation. And, I have been challenged to make things that are my style, but at various price points to satisfy different markets.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Year of Jewelry week 27- fire in the belly

OKay, submitted first YOJ piece. (look at me, inserting links) I have to still get it right, but because of the internet slowness on the homefront, I wanted to get it in early. Meeting deadlines is something I am striving to improve upon.
It is hard to tell from the picture, but it is a copper framework, wrapped with sterling. The accents are copper and sterling beads. The stones are honey jade, garnet and carnelian. The honey jade drops are cool in that they swing freely, and are kind of layered like scales. The LOS took very aggressively to the copper, but not the silver. At first, I thought maybe I had accidentally used argentium silver for the wraps. Well, I didn't. Anyway, I will tumble it tomorrow (yes, my new tumbler is in service, yeehaw!) and see if that helps. And I will take better pics as well.
Hoping for sun this weekend to assist in the the photography.
Oh, also exciting. Made an appointment to meet with Ed regarding possibly putting some pieces in his shop in Westfield. July 13th at 10 am. I don't think I have deodorant strong enough. I'm pitty right now just thinking about it.
Productive day yesterday. Also completed two more pendants. Working on earrings for the one, the other pendant was inspired by earrings I had already made. I want to present several pendant/earring sets, and I will also do two bracelets, and a bunch of earrings, just so he can get a feel for what I do. He asked for fall/winter stuff. I'm so into the blue/aqua/green thing right now, its a challenge to switch gears. But I do love fall, and that color pallette, so it's still fun.
Until next week.

Monday, July 2, 2007

lost (but so much fun) weekend

As far as jewelry making goes, this weekend was a bust. The fabulous upside is that my sister Alli and I hosted a surprise party for our wonderful Alisa.

This photo shows (or rather proves) how surprised Alisa was.
She saw us, and ran back out the door.

This is Beck's son, Liam. I wish I had a better picture of him. I will include it when someone shares one with me. He arrived at the party in costume. We guessed a robot, or a knight. He was however, a pinata, for Ms. Alisa's party. When asked what would happen if we hung him by his ankles and hit him with a stick, he replied, "Nothing".

Our favorite (actually the only clown in the world that I can tolerate)entertainer, Balloons came to delight children of all ages...

I did make a lovely pendant for Alisa's birthday, but did not get a chance to take a pic before giving it to her. I will post it as well, when I get a chance.

The very exciting jewelry thing that happened is that I received a couple of orders that I had placed for supplies and equipment. I really wanted to play with it, but I was a good girl, and put it nicely away unitl this week. My new tumbler is waiting on my doorstep for me as we speak, so I'll go for now.
This is the first week of Year of jewelry, the theme is "Fire in the Belly". So, more on that to come, as it was the impetus for this whole blog thing, anyway.