Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Week of the Year


Whew! Christmas is over, and what a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been. Here's a few random thoughts of what's been going on with me:

I started experimenting with polymer clay, and it's not as easy as I thought it would be. It's so totally different from metal clay, and even after watching videos and reading about it, I still don't have anything worthy to show. One thing I discovered was that I was just not using enough of the clay. It's not expensive, so I don't have to be stingy with it like I do with silver clay. Another thing I've discovered is that although there's a lot of information out there about polymer clay in general, there's not much about polymer clay jewelry specifically. Of what I have found, there's only a few people doing exquisite work. Most is cheap and cheezy looking. Liz Hall sure sets a high standard!

I went to Raleigh on Christmas Eve and spent it with my Dad, Sister and Brother-in-law. In the three years since my Mom passed away and my Dad sold the house we grew up in, we've been trying to keep traditions alive as best we can. We gather at a friend's house and cook standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding just like Mom did. It's always nice and we all get along fabulously, but it's just not the same without Mom. I got to see my step-son and his family while I was there, too. My two granddaughters just get bigger and more beautiful every time I see them.

On Christmas Day I drove up to Lynchburg, VA to spend time with my step-daughter's family. There was a huge snow storm predicted for most of NC and VA and I arrived just as it started coming down. They only got a couple of inches of snow in western Va - enough for her two boys to try out new sleds and snow boards - but the whole east coast got slammed, including Raleigh. I had originally planned to come home on Sunday, but knew that it was going to snow here at home so I extended it to Monday. Then I got word that there was a blizzard here, so I ended up staying until Tuesday and I was glad I did. The roads were clear and I got to spend more time with some fabulous people.

I ate lots good food, played many video and board games, and gave and received lots of nice gifts.

I decided to place an order for supplies today so that I could include it in this year's books. Silver is so freaking high that the total bill took my breath away and my poor credit card is groaning under the weight.

Etsy sales were good this holiday season, but there were a lot of glitches with shipping. I was offering free standard USPO shipping and a couple of packages didn't arrive. One was returned and had to be re-sent Priority Mail. I had to send out a replacement order for the other one. And, with the horrible weather, it was hard for me to get to the post office on time. I'll have to re-think this next year.

I have no plans for New Year's Eve. My neighbors will inform me that the year has turned over by setting off fireworks and shooting guns. I'll probably wake up, tell Lola happy new year, and go right back to sleep. I really don't like being out on the roads with a lot of drunks.

I now have a head cold (from being around a lot of people, especially children, I'm sure). And, as my grandpa used to say, a "hitch in my get-along" from sitting in the car too long. I'm ready to go back into hermit mode and get some jewelry made.

I hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm a winner!


I entered a contest on Lorena Angulo's blog to win a book, and I DID! I'll be receiving the above book in the mail soon. She received a box of books for review from Lark Books and, since she already owned this one, she decided to give it away. I'm so excited to add it to my library. What a lucky girl I am! Thank you so much Lore!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bring on the light!!



Thank you for the free photo, FreeFoto.com.

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! This day brings me so much joy. To think about the days getting longer and warmer is a great relief. Summer Solstice is a bummer. Even though the weather is hot and gorgeous, that defeating emotions of summer coming to an end always makes me sad. Spring and Fall Equinoxes? Only a reminder that we're half way in to either more or less light.

There was a total eclipse of the moon last night also. I woke up, but it was too cloudy to see anything. Did you see it? Was it awesome?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Practicing calm and patience

Drawing by Toni Henneman
Our first big snow of the season started on Friday, December 3rd. For the next few days it never got above freezing. I stayed in the house until Thursday the 9th. We got more snow on the 12th. This time it was a blizzard and it didn't get out of the teens until the 14th. Then we had freezing rain on the 15th, this past Wednesday. I got out again yesterday. So that's 2 trips to town in 14 days and 12 days of being stuck in the house. I was going to go out again today because, even though it was supposed to be cloudy, it would be 36 degrees. Not. It never got above 27, and there was freezing fog, so I had to change plans. Again.

I'm not too suprised, and since Mercury is in retrograde (if you don't follow astrology, find an explanation here.) it means that re-scheduling is likely no matter what the weather is. In the last two weeks I've re-booked a Chiropractor appointment (twice), and a Vet appointment for Lola, traded gallery work days (twice) and cancelled a hair cut appointment.  What's that statement about "when man makes plans, God just laughs"? Or something like that.

Oh, and it's Holiday Season, too. So many people are totally stressed out buying gifts, partying and spending time with family, that to dump bad weather on top would seem like the last straw. I remember last year, so I got all my shopping done early and used part of my time in exile to wrap everything. I did have to bail on a holiday party tonight because as soon as the sun goes down the roads will re-freeze, but I don't seem to have any stress this year! Yet. I'll be waiting until about the 22nd or 23rd to freak out over whether I can get to Raleigh and Virginia to spend time with my family. I totally missed it last year because of an ice storm. Mercury doesn't go direct until the 30th... I'll be keeping my fingers crossed! Cross yours for me too, would ya?

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm trying to come up with something new


and keep myself from getting cabin fever. Silver has become so expensive that I've got to figure out a way to stay creative without going broke. I thought I'd try out polymer clay because its very inexpensive and my notion is that I could play with color and shape without using so much silver. I'm inspired by Liz Hall's silver and polymer work. See it here.

Most times when I want to learn about new methods or materials I'll either buy a book or take a class.  I knew that more bad weather was moving in and I'd be stuck in the house for awhile, so last Saturday I got a wild hair and took off for the local Michaels store and bought several colors of clay and a pasta machine. I've been looking at online instructional videos and websites and playing around with making canes and blends. As with any new endeavor, I work awhile, get frustrated and leave to play with cat, then go back to it again. Some successes and some failures, but none of it has been baked yet. I still have a lot of questions, and there's definitely nothing to show off yet.

Speaking of playing with the cat, Lola is so organized! She likes to have all her toys in one place. After a bout of flinging things all over the house, she'll eventually bring them all back to the living room in front of my chair. I've decided not to spend any more money on cat toys. The green string and home made fabric pouch of catnip are her favorites.


When I got up this morning it was 9 degrees and it only got up to a high of 12 degrees. The wind chill is -10. That's 10 BELOW ZERO. And, it's snowing sideways. I think this is called a blizzard! Appalachian State University was closed today, for only the third time I can remember. I have on two pair of socks and my feet are still cold. They're calling for an ice storm on Wednesday night and more snow on Sunday. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's really difficult.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boring Weather Post

"Winter View From the Blue Ridge Parkway" by Marty Hulsebos.

Ick. I was really hoping that this winter would be better than last (which was the worst I can remember), but it's not starting out that way. And it's not even officially winter yet. I'm not taking any pictures of my yard because they look exactly like last year's pictures. Boring. It's been snow showering for 5 days. Not a lot of accumulation on this side of the mountains (6 inches or so), but much more as you go west and up in elevation. One of my friends has 16 inches of snow at her house. This morning it was 4 degrees when I got up. And windy.

I've been staying in the house, other than a walk to my neighbor's yesterday to check on their heat. They're in Florida until after the holidays. Wimps! Really, I have mixed feelings about being in warmer climates during weather like this. I would love to be wearing T-shirts and soaking up some sun, but I'd be too worried about my little house to enjoy it.

My days consist of checking the weather report for the next few days, consult the calendar to see if I have to be anywhere, comparing the two, deciding if I should change plans, figuring out when's the best time to try and get out of here to replenish supplies and finish Christmas shopping. Wondering if I'll be able to get to and home from the gallery when I'm scheduled to work. Congratulating the thermometer when it clicks up one more degree and rejoicing when there's a patch of blue sky.

There are a few orders that need to go out. I think, instead of waiting until I can get to the Post Office, I'll put every stamp I have on them and walk them up to the mailbox on the main road today to be picked up. I'm sure they'll get there on time.

So, if I'm quiet for the next little while it's because I don't want to bore you any more with my endurance of cabin fever. I think it's a good time to bake some cookies!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Snow of the Season


And possibly Lola's first snow. I don't know, since I have no idea how old she is. But probably her first snow. She didn't like it very much and after scattering the birds under the bird feeder, she came right back inside. This photo was taken yesterday morning and by afternoon there was 3 inches or so on the ground.

Today is bitter cold and windy. So windy that all of my trees look like Whomping Willows. Thank goodness I can stay inside by the fake fireplace. I don't HAVE to go anywhere until Wednesday. Hopefully by then, the Canadians will want their air back.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Shop is LOADED



Click on any item above to be taken directly to that listing in my shop.

I've put everything I can imagine up in my Etsy Shop. The gallery above is not even everything that's up there! It's time to promote, market, advertise, and nearly spam you poor people to death, so that you'll think of me when you're making out your holiday shopping list. I apologize. It's exhausting. And, I hope not too annoying for you, but this is what has to be done in order to be at the top of the lists when people are googling for jewelry. This is how I make my living.

Yesterday was "Black Friday". When (and why) did we give the day after Thanksgiving a name? I suppose some advertising guru determined that it was the start of holiday shopping and therefore retailers would be "in the black" (making a profit) for the year. And then we were told that we had to go shopping on this day. The idea of standing out in the cold in the middle of the night in front of a big box store waiting for some kind of incredible bargain on an item made in China just totally escapes me. A man in Buffalo, NY was trampled yesterday, for God's sake!

Today was "Small Business Saturday". I like this idea much better. I'm told that if you spend $100 at a small local business, $45 of that will stay in the community. Of your $100 spent at Walmart, or some other large chain, only $13 stays local. And small businesses provide between 60% and 80% of new jobs.

I worked at Hands Gallery (one of the cooperative galleries I belong to) yesterday and we had a very busy day. We didn't open until our usual time, 10:00, and we've never had a sale. Everything in the store is made within 50 miles and it's ALL HAND MADE. Here. In the USA. We surely didn't make as much money as Target did, but we had a very good day. And 85% of the profits are returned to the artist members who make the merchandise. 60% to consignment artists. Now, don't you think this is a better idea?

So, I think tomorrow is "Come To Your Senses Sunday" and then on Monday when everyone goes back to work it's "Cyber Monday" when people buy online what they didn't get over the weekend. I hope they shop at zoenelson.etsy.com , because, like I said,  this is how I make a living.

Don't forget that you can get a 10% discount by entering the coupon code BLOGREADER.

Monday, November 22, 2010

10% Off For Blog Readers!


Here's some new hammered copper, textured sterling and turquoise earrings. I've been adding them to my Shop and I also have them with tiger eye, malachite, light blue agate and amethyst beads. With silver prices skyrocketing, copper is an economical choice these days. They would make a great Christmas gift for someone! You know it, don't you? New copper necklaces and some silver necklaces will be added next.

I've been steadily updating my Etsy Shop over the last few weeks, getting ready for Holiday shopping. Yesterday I noticed that they now allow me to add coupon codes. What a great idea!! With Thanksgiving coming up this week I'd like to show my gratitude to everyone who takes the time to read these random ramblings. Go to my shop and enter the code BLOGREADER for a 10% discount. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Her Name Is Lola...

video

She was a show girl
With yellow flowers in her hair
And a dress cut down to there..."

I'm not really a fan of Barry Manilow, but the name just seem to be right for her. After all "What Lola wants, Lola gets." She's already spoiled rotten. How many cats do you know that will lay on their backs with their feet in the air and want their belly rubbed, like a dog? I've determined that she's not only a reincarnation of Cinder and Roscoe, she's part Pancho, too. Pancho was the half Border Collie and half Blue Heeler that I loved and lost custody of in my divorce. He's moved on to the afterlife now, too.

And I know you're thinking of The Kinks' song, "Lola, L-O-L-A, Lola". Well, since she was already spayed when she arrived, I have no idea what her sexual preference is.

So this will be it for the cat posts for now, unless she does something remarkable like starting to speak in English. (I wouldn't be surprised!) I know not everyone out there is a cat person.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

She's Still Here

video

It's been over a week and still no one has called to claim her. This is hard for me to believe, as she is a very sweet cat. Loving and affectionate and not much trouble. Soneone said that she just turned on her kitty GPS system and programmed it for my house! She's been going outside and coming back in without coaxing. But I still feel like I kidnapped her.


Now that all this time has passed and she's probably going to stay with me, we should figure out what her name is. You heard her in the video - she's very meowy - so one name could be Edith Bunker. (You also can hear my tumbler running in the background. Sorry about that noise.) Or, I could call her Loretta Lynn because she sounds a little whiny like a country song. Not very good choices and my sister said she doesn't want a cat-neice named Edith. The name quest continues.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So Strange

Yesterday, exactly one week to the hour since Cinder died, I looked out on my porch and this is what was staring through the glass talking to me:


I was gobsmacked. First, that a cat had just showed up on my porch at that exact time, then after getting a good look at her, that she seemed to look like a combination of Cinder (see photo in the last post) and my previous cat, Roscoe.


Roscoe was one of the sweetest cats I've ever known and I was devastated when he died several years ago. He always seemed to know my moods and was a great source of comfort when I was going through a very rough patch. He had a hard start to his life. He was found in a dumpster, very sick,  too early to have been taken from his mother. As a result, he always had a compromised immune system and had lots of health issues during his life. His gratitude for being saved from the dumpster was always evident.

Now, back to this little visitor. I went out to see if I recognized her as belonging to one of my neighbors and realized that 1) I had never seen her before, 2) she wouldn't put much weight on her right rear leg, 3) she was starving. She was all over me, meowing and wanting to be held and petted and tripping me up when I tried to walk away. Since I'd given away all the leftover cat food, I gave her half a can of tuna.  When I tried to examine her leg, well, she didn't like that one bit. After picking her up I thought she was either very well fed or maybe pregnant. Hmmm... this is getting stranger and stranger. I called or left messages for all of my neighbors and made up a flyer with her picture. Then I made an appointment with the Vet.

Her trip to the Animal Medical Center of Boone revealed that she had recently been spayed, maybe 2-3 weeks ago. (Thank God she's not having kittens!) She does not have a microchip to identify her owners. Her sore leg was from a deep bite wound, also recent. She received an antibiotic shot, some samples of cat food to tide us over and was sent home with me. The other odd thing was that Dr. Roten saw some "blue glue" on her belly, used to close the incision. She said that the only place that uses that is the spay/neuter clinic in Asheville (2 hours away) that our Humane Society uses in order to offer the surgeries at a low cost. So, she was either adopted from the HS, or her family moved here from Asheville. The HS was called and no one had reported a missing cat.

We were experiencing our first really cold weather and snow showers, so I HAD to bring her into the house. After exploring a little she settled in like she had always been here.


She curled up and slept next to Cinder's ashes. You can see where her back leg is shaved.

So I'm thinking that the Universe has sent me some kind of Ghost Cat or Messenger Cat on purpose, and every time I look at her I just shake my head. I'll continue to look for her family because I know how devastating it is to have a missing pet, and since she's been spayed they have a financial investment in her. She's welcome to stay here in safety and keep me company until we find them. If that doesn't happen then she's welcome to stay for good. I really didn't want to get another cat until after the holidays, but if this is meant to be, then how can I deny her? In the meantime she doesn't have a name, just "Little Girl" or "Kitty". We'll see how things progress.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

R.I.P. Cinder

Cinder, Black Cat, Bad Cat, BC, Woobie, Catty-man, Little Shit. A cat of many names and personalities.
1992-2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Computer Woes



After a fatal error with Microsoft Outlook early this morning, I've spent the entire day today trying to recover my email address list. No luck. I've lost everything. All my contacts with friends, family, customers, students... everybody. I had to un-install and re-install, so it's like it's brand new and I don't know anybody. Can't even get the information off a backup.

And I've lost my inbox, too. So, if you're waiting for a response from me, you'll have to send it again, or remind me. Also, please send and email to zoenelson@bellsouth.net so I can rebuild my list.

I really wanted to get in the studio and be creative today. It was not in the cards.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Uninspired by New Stuff


I went to a wholesale gem and jewelry show today in Asheville and about all I bought was beads and stringing stuff. I think every table had some of these really sparkly crystal beads and I had to buy some of them. (You know I'm like a crow, don't you? The shiny things always catch my eye right away.) I also got some little turquoise and red jade beads.


 And then I got some of these teeny tiny (2mm) seed pearls:


 And some silver cones... To finish the ends of a string of several strands of beads. And the little silver chips... I have no idea what I'll do with them, but they looked interesting.


I had a list with me, as I usually do, with specific things I was looking for, but none were to be found. When that happens I put myself into "creative" mode, look at all the things offered for sale and think "Can I do something cool with this?" That's what was going on in my head when I saw the silver chips above. But I was mostly disappointed. Not disappointed in the show so much, but with myself. I just couldn't seem to find anything that was terribly exciting and I was thinking about needing to buy SOMETHING so that I have material to work with when I'm snowed in this winter. That's why I bought so many beads. No stones, no findings, just beads.

I wanted to buy some silver chain, but the people that I buy from had a horrible booth set up - a 3-foot-wide entrance into a square of tables filled with more tables (very hard to move around) - and such a long line that I didn't really want to stand there. I estimate that it would have taken 30 to 45 minutes just to get the chain cut, then another 20 minutes or so in the line to pay. And the people who were standing in line to get their chain cut had half of the spools in their hands, so you couldn't even see it all. Baaaad setup!

So after wandering around and around for almost two hours and spending just a fraction of what I normally would, I just gave up and came back home. There will be another one in January and, weather permitting, I'll go again. I'll get there early and get in line for silver chain!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall Leaves Leaving

Photo by Dale Forrest, available at Hands Gallery.

I woke this morning to 25 degrees and our first heavy frost. Windshield-scraping frost. As the sun came over the mountain and hit the trees, any leaves left on them released their hold and came down like rain. Especially the walnuts and maples. It always seems a little sad to me. In the Spring I excitedly watch the lovely green spread up the hills as each day passes. They hang on tightly through rain, thunderstorms and wind all through the summer and protect my little house from the eyes of my one visible neighbor like a cocoon. They desperately hold on to their colors for a few weeks in October, then comes a morning like today. Now it's bare trees until late April and I'll need to close my blinds at night so I don't feel like I'm in a fish bowl.

video

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ramping Up the Etsy Shop



Just a few of the things that I've added lately to my Etsy Shop so you can start your holiday shopping right now! You can click on the photos above to take you to the listing, or the widget to the right scrolls through all the items and you can click on the ones you like to take you directly to that item in the shop. Let's get this party started! Tell your friends! I'm adding new things every day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

After the Show


The Valle Country Fair was fantastic! The weather was quite cold in the pre-dawn hour when we arrived (our first morning with frost - a little late this year), but as soon as the sun came up over the mountain it began to warm up and layers of coats and sweaters came off as the morning progressed. The sky was totally clear, and the wind eased off by mid morning. There were SO many people there that it was hard to maneuver between the booths. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there were record crowds this year. Too bad for the visitors, though, that most of the beautiful leaves had blown off the trees the day before.

Since I knew the weather was supposed to be fine, I decided not to set up my tent. That thing is a royal pain in the ass, and the wind on Friday posed a threat of blowing it away over night. The jewelry was sparkling in all that gorgeous sunshine and sales were brisk. Not just for me, but I believe that all of my friends did well, too.

Kimberly helping a customer

Brenda, behind her pottery

Debbi wrapping a purchase

Dianne talking to her customer

Over all it was a great day, but honestly, I'm glad it's over. Kimberly and I were exhausted by the time we got home. This was my last show of the season and now I can concentrate on updating my sadly neglected Etsy Shop and stocking the galleries for holiday sales. Watch this space for updates on that front.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Valle Country Fair!


What started out as a church bazaar 32 years ago has grown into one of the best festivals in this part of the state. It's always the third Saturday in October - the time of year when the fall colors are always at their peak.  The Church of the Holy Cross in tiny Valle Crucis, North Carolina sponsors the event and is responsible for distributing the proceeds to local charities. There are 135 fine art and craft booths and one of them will be mine. There's always good music and lots of fresh apple butter and cider and other good food.


Held in a field surrounded by mountains showing off the glorious colors, it's a draw to the "leaf peepers" and there's always a huge crowd.

I look forward to this show, and I think that even afer I quit doing all other shows (a direction that I'm definitely moving toward), I think that I might still like to do this one. The weather is supposed to be perfect this year, which is a real blessing. I've been there some years when it snowed on us and it was so cold that I thought my nose would snap off. Last year was a mud fest after weeks and weeks of rainy weather. (And, if you've been reading this blog that long, you'll remember that I had an infection from a botched root canal that day, too.) In any kind of weather it's always a good show.

This year I'll have all of my amazing new work and I'm also going to do something different. I recently went through all of my inventory and found some things that are really.... well... old. There's nothing wrong with them, and in my opinion they're beautiful and I don't understand why I haven't sold them yet. I feel like I need to clear out these old pieces because they wear me down. I want to concentrate on finding new directions. So, I've polished them all up and marked them down and I'll have them in a basket for customers to go through. Hopefully, people will look at this as treasure hunting for a great deal.

My good friend Kimberly will be coming from Charlotte on Friday to help me and we always have a great time visiting. After last year I think she's a glutton for punishment, but she volunteered to do it again, so I'll take her up on it. I usually see a lot of familiar faces and several of my fellow co-op members will have booths there, also. The organizers always put us close to each other so it can turn into quite a party! To top off a fun but exhausting day, the Valle Crucis Elementary School does a fund raising dinner on Saturday night. Fried chicken, slaw, green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits home made dessert and sweet tea. The ultimate comfort food before going home and collapsing.

So if you happen to be in the area, come see me. This event will not disappoint.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Call Me "Billy"


You know how in the Family Circus cartoons the Mom sends Billy out on an errand and he detours all over the neighborhood before he gets to his destination? That's what's going on here today. Most days I'm focused and straightforward, knowing what needs to be done and finishing each thing before starting the next (for the most part). Today I'm more like Billy, or a crow being distracted by shiny objects. At the end of the day I'll see if I actually accomplished anything. Right now I think I'll...... ooooo..... shiny!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't mess with me today!

Photo borrowed with gratitude from oneijak.com

I had a bad night last night, leading to maximum grouchiness today. I couldn't fall asleep because a friend told me her step-dog got locked in a car during the heat wave last summer and died. I knew that dog. I couldn't get that horrible image out of my head. At midnight I decided that I should set the alarm clock because I had to get up on time this morning and go to work at the gallery. I woke up at 6:00 (about an hour and a half too early) and was wide awake. Now, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. Not much business here in the gallery to keep me occupied and I forgot to re-stock my traveling work bag so I'm missing the parts I need to make some knotted necklaces. I have a book to read but it's so difficult to concentrate on it with my eyes slamming shut all the time. When I made my lunch this morning I discovered that the bread was stale and the cheese was moldy. The turkey was OK, so it was just turkey on stale bread for lunch. I was out of mayonnaise. Akkk.

I found out yesterday that my sister and I have to move my Dad from one apartment in his retirement center to another one at the end of this month. He's lived there independently for three years and his Doctor has said he needs more help. He can get that without having to leave his friends by moving to the second floor, where they'll keep a better eye on him by checking on him a couple of times a day and helping him do things that are difficult for him. He got rid of a lot of things when he sold his house so there won't be a whole lot of culling to do this time, and he'll be hiring someone to do the heavy lifting. We just have to pack the fragile things and supervise the move. It's hard watching a parent go down hill, but, thankfully he really likes living there and will be able to stay there for at least a while longer.

And, speaking of going down hill... my 18-year-old cat has become very frail. There have been several times in the last few weeks that I thought he was a goner, but he rallied. It's hard to leave him for a day at the gallery, much less for a trip out of town. I don't think it will be too much longer before I find him passed away, or I have to make the dreadful decision of ending his suffering. I hate this.

So, a lot on my mind today and none of it too pleasant. Let's hope tomorrow's better.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn Musings

Photo courtesy of Ken Thomas

I've never seen so many goldfinches in my yard as I have this year. Right outside my back door is a large stand of purple coneflowers that have gone to seed and they obviously love, love, love eating them. I counted between 15 and 20, some hanging upside down feasting on the little black seeds. When I go out the back door there's a flurry of yellowish feathers (they're starting to wear their winter plumage) and they fly off to enjoy the next course in their meal of the thistle and wild sunflowers across the driveway. Their sweet "beep beep" voices make me smile every time.

Today was a day to knock things off my steadily growing to-do list. I got some car maintenance done that was over due, and got my flu shot. (I'm always a little amazed that they can shoot some goo into my arm and I won't get sick this year.) Then I went to our new Michaels store and did the WalMart frenzy with all the other crazy people. All done, home and unloaded before the cold rain set in.   

I spent part of the day yesterday taking photos of some more finished jewelry. Here's a few samples:





My furnace has been coming on and it's a day for long pants, long sleeves and socks. The leaves are starting to change and will be at their peak in another couple of weeks. Frost can't be too far away.  I'm feeling a little achy from the flu shot so I think I'll make some soup and hit my pillow early tonight.

I hope you're enjoying the cooler Fall weather where you are. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Plodding Along


Sometimes life goes smoothly, thank God! That's where I am right now, and I'm grateful for the ordinary-ness and the mundane. No deadlines and plenty of inventory so upcoming shows aren't daunting. In fact, I have a show this coming Saturday and I'm really not freaked out by it at all. I'm ready. The only thing I'm a little freaked out about is loading up my car for the show because there are still several black snakes living in my shed, where all my show equipment is stored. I don't like to go in there and especially don't like to move things around that snakes might be hiding in or behind. And there are no galleries breathing down my neck wanting work. No stress. Ahhhh.....

Monday night was the second week of the Metal Clay class. I've only got four students, which is both good and bad. Good because it makes class very easy on me and everyone gets a lot of personal attention. Bad because my pay check is smaller, but a small check is better than none at all. The last session was cancelled because only one person enrolled. Jim, who teaches the fabrication jewelry class, said his class is small this time also. We used to over flow into each other's classes. If mine was full, the registrar would suggest that they take Jim's class, and vice-versa. Anyone out there have an opinion about why enrollement is down, other than the pat answer of "the economy"? Are there any other Metal Clay teachers out there experiencing the same thing?

Since the University still doesn't have a kiln I can use for my class, I have to bring student projects home and fire them in my kiln each week. ("The economy" again - University spending is restricted.) Between classes I've been making a few pieces to add to the kiln load, but I have nothing hanging over me. My only deadline is to get the kiln fired each week before class on Monday night. And I'll have to do it again the following week, so if I don't get a piece ready to fire this week it's no big deal. It's nice to be able to take my time and think about every step, to try out something new and to just let the creativity flow. Below are a few things that I've managed to complete. You might recognize them from this post.







Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Give Away Winner

This is what the sky looked like early this morning. The light was so beautiful and these photos don't do justice for the sight of it in person.

It's time to announce the give away winner.... It's ANDY! I've never had a man win one of my jewelry give aways before, but there's always a first time for everything. So, Andy, please contact me (email address on the right side bar) to let me know what bead color, thread color and length you'd like. Or, assuming that this will actually be for your lovely wife, have her contact me. Congratulations! Here's to men's liberation! And thanks to everyone who commented. I love knowing that somebody actually reads this thing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Great News and Another Give Away!


Do you remember a post from over a month ago, when I was contacted by a new gallery asking to buy my work wholesale? After much soul searching I finally figured out what to sell them and how to do it and, when contacted, they said they "had enough jewelry"? "Maybe later." I was a little miffed. (Well, more than a little...) Well...
 
IT'S LATER!!!
 
In my email this afternoon was a purchase order. A very big purchase order!
 
And now that it's a done deal, I can reveal that the gallery is the Rivercross Market in Valle Crucis, N.C. And it's part of the Mast General Store empire. Their original store (built in 1882) is next door to the gallery and they also have stores in Boone, Asheville, Waynesville and Hendersonville in NC, and also Knoxville, TN and Greenville, SC. They also have a thriving online business. Click here to read their history. Its really rather interesting. I like the part about the Post Office changing locations between the Mast Store (Democrats) and the Farthing Store (Republicans), depending on who won the election.
 
Original Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC

But Wait! There's More!

I thought that the class I teach, Jewelry Making with Metal Clay, would be cancelled for the second time in a row due to low enrollment. It's scheduled to start next Monday. I had already told the administrator that it wasn't worth my time to teach the class for only two students. She forgot to close the registration...And...

MORE PEOPLE SIGNED UP!!

So, now it's back on and she's leaving registration open over the weekend, so maybe I'll have even more students.

So, I guess the stars are moving back into alignment and things are starting to move forward again. You just can't imagine how grateful and excited I am! To show my gratitude, I'm repeating the give away of another knotted necklace similar to this one:


All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this post. You'll have three decisions to make if you win: 1) bead color: purple, red, light green, steel, amber, blue, black or aqua  2) thread color: black or white and 3)length" 16, 18 or 20 inches. The one in the photo above is the blue on white.  Be sure your name appears on your comment. The winner will be chosen next Tuesday, September 14, so comment away! Thank you for all your positive support and good luck! I'm off to fill a large order...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Morning


I awoke today to fantastic light streaming through my bedroom window onto this orchid that's been in bloom for over a month.


And through this Rex Begonia, highlighting the veins and turning their dark red leaves a lovely pink.

I've decided to give myself a holiday today. People who work a normal 9 to 5 job get holidays quite often, but to me it's usually just another work day. I stayed in my PJs all morning, drank coffee, cooked myself a nice breakfast and watched Sunday Morning on CBS. It's my favorite news-magazine type show that features plenty of stories about art and music and always a humorous segment or two. The segment at the end that shows a video from nature is always too short. Today they featured the watercolorist Mary Whyte from South Carolina, who preserves vanishing ways of life on canvas. Also a story about South By South West (SXSW), the music festival in Austin, Texas where many musicians can get a leg up into the big time.

The rest of the day is yet unplanned. I like it that way! Happy Labor Day to everyone.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Hint of Fall


See what several hours in the studio over the last several days can produce? Another kiln load ready to fire! Things have calmed down and it feels good to finally get some work done. A few more days like these and I'll be caught up. And no more accidents! (She said as she knocks on wood.)

This is just the first step, of course. After the firing, brushing, tumbling, patina-ing (is that a word?) and polishing then there's the actual making of the jewelry. Some of these in the photo above are toggle clasps that will be put onto beaded necklaces, some are earring parts, and all need to be completed, inventoried, photographed and THEN maybe I can list some in my Etsy Shop, re-stock some galleries and have enough for upcoming shows. It's all about the process, Baby!


This comes when the garden is winding down, which is good. Frankly, I'm tired of watering and pulling weeds. It will soon be time to cut everything down and cover the garden with a blanket of new mulch so it can sleep for the winter. There have been some chilly mornings already. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. a couple of days ago because I'd left the windows open and my furnace (set on 50 degrees) kicked on. I'm definitely not looking forward to a winter like the last one, but I'm ready for the change of seasons. The Goldfinches love the seeds from these purple cone flowers. I'll let them have a few before cutting them down.


It's a gorgeous day today. Cool and breezy - perfect for hanging sheets on the solar clothes dryer. I'm going to sleep good tonight, after another day in the studio.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sigh...


Usually my life is pretty laid back and rather boring but lately I seem to be running in a hamster wheel and it doesn't take long for me to feel stressed. I jokingly call myself a hermit, but the true description is that I'm one of the world's biggest introverts. It's not that I don't like to be around people, I do! It just drains all my energy.

The two co-op galleries where I sell my jewelry reqire that I work there about two days a month, each, and I've picked up a couple of extra days working for some of my fellow artists. This means that I have to interact with people - potential customers - all day long. Last week I worked Tuesday and Thursday, this week I work Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. On Saturday I'll be participating in Carlton Gallery's Jewelry Trunk Show, so that day is full of people, too. Friday I HAVE GOT TO DO SOME YARD WORK. Monday is another play-date with Debbie Keen (last week got cancelled because her husband broke his leg) to finish up our resin pieces and perhaps make some more things with copper clay. Then, back in Main Street Gallery next Tuesday. Today was an opportunity to spend the afternoon over at Watauga Lake with a group of friends, but I just couldn't handle it. I needed a day away from people.

While I was prepping for the Carlton Gallery thing I realized that I've hardly made any jewelry this summer. That's usually the case as I make the majority of my jewelry during the winter. But I hardly made anything last winter, either, and inventory is mighty low. I have a two other shows coming up this fall and a few orders to fill and a class starting in three weeks. Now I can't seem to find the TIME to get in the studio and be creative!

I made this piece last August and it's still available in my Etsy Store...

All of this while Mercury is retrograde. For those of you who don't follow astrology, it's the Murphy's Law of astrological occurrences that happens about three times a year and lasts for about three weeks. It messes up communications and transportation can be tricky. If your car is planning on breaking down, it will do it during a Mercury retrograde period, for sure. I had to get another mouse nest removed from the dashboard of my car. If you make a plan, it will probably get changed or cancelled. For me it's also a time when I'm accident prone. I dropped a steel bracelet mandrel on my foot the other day. The swelling has gone down, but the bruise is now into my toes. I also split my left thumb nail the long way and it bled like a stuck pig. Then I burned my right thumb.

So for now I just have to remind myself to breathe, stop and assess the situation often, BE CAREFUL,  take one day at a time and get enough sleep. I also need to remind myself that, other than firm obligations like working in the gallery, I don't have to do anything that I really don't want to do, and many things can wait until a less stressful time.  This too shall pass.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Play Date

Rainy Morning Visitor

I took this yesterday morning. We've had soupy, foggy, weather and sometimes downpours and flood warnings for the last three days. The fabric things inside my house were feeling damp and the sheets on my bed felt like I was camping. But, today the sky is clear blue and the humidity has left. (Amazing how quickly things can change!) There's a little hint of fall in the air. It won't be long now.

Earlier this week I had a play date at my friend Debbie Keen's house. We mixed up a big cup of Ice Resin and I sealed some little pictures, pieces and parts in bezels for pendants. They had to sit for several hours to set up, so we're having another day here in my studio next week to finish the pieces and maybe play with some copper clay again. I'll post pictures when my pieces are finished.

It's really nice to have someone with similar interests to bounce ideas off of and to get to play with someone else's toys. It's also great to be able to share my things with her. Debbie had been to the Bead and Button Show and took several classes and showed me the projects she'd worked on. The bracelet from Anne Mitchell's class on "Low Tech Metalsmithing" was my favorite. Debbie's is similar to this one:

                                      Photo by Anne Mitchell

It's a combination of fused fine silver, silver metal clay, riveting and wire wrapping for a finished piece with lots of personality.