Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Virginia, here I come!

My lovely step-daughter, Barbara, is hosting a Trunk Show for me at her home near Lynchburg, Virgina on Thursday evening. I don't know for sure how many people she invited, but I sent her about 130 post cards. This will be either the thrid or fourth time we've done this and it's always a win-win for everyone. I get to visit with her and her family and make some money, and she gets to have a "girl party". She has a husband and two sons, so there's not much estrogen in her house unless she makes it happen!

Side note: If you're interested in hosting a Trunk Show at your house, please contact me. There's always free jewelry involved for the hostess!

So I'm spending this day taking inventory, packing and preparing to leave early in the morning. Since this is my first show of the season I've had to wipe down my display equipment that's been stored in the shed all winter. (There must have been a bird trapped in there for awhile.... yuck!) Going through the big plastic bin that contains all the various asundry things needed to do a show - sales books, business cards, calculator, pens, credit card machine and forms, raffle forms (I always do a give-away.) etc. to be sure I have everything I need.

It's been a long, bleak winter and I'm not just talking about the weather! I'm ready to have some money coming in for a change and to not have to pinch every penny. I'm even taking a basket full of clearance items to this show to try to move some of my old inventory. Whatever's left will go into my SALE on my Etsy Shop starting next week. Let's all visualize an armored car full of money following me home, OK?! And I'll get to kiss the boys and watch soccer games and generally hang out with some of my favorite people. Ahhh... life is GOOD!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Etsy Shop Overhaul

I've had Google Analytics going on my Etsy Shop for a couple of weeks, so I can see who, and when people are visiting. And perhaps get a glimpse of why they go there, so I can hopefully keep doing things that will attract customers. I'm a little bit of a data freak, so it's interesting to see all the tidbits of traffic on the site. So far, I've had visitors from the following countries: Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, Poland, Austrailia, France, South Korea, Serbia, Slovenia, Finalnd, Romania, Italy, Chile, Russia and, of course, the United States. WOW! That alone makes the geekiness of Google Analytics interesting to me. I check it each day and when a new country lights up on the map I think about world domination... Some of the other data is not too helpful yet, like "Return  Visitors". It makes me wonder how many of those return visitors are ME. I've been tweaking some of the item descriptions and have been on and off the website several times. But they also show me "Absolute Unique Visitors" and that shows a better picture. Pie charts and bar charts and graphs, OH MY!

Knotted necklace of black beads on white thread.
I'm preparing for a complete overhaul of the shop. The necklaces made of glass beads knotted on silk thread will be taken off. I put them up there about a year ago because many of my in-person customers wanted a place to buy them online. Since then I've only sold one, so, sorry folks.  I think they take attention away from my silver jewelry. (And, I'm getting really tired of making them. I make them in 8 colors, 3 sizes, on either black or white thread, so that's 48 different combinations.) If you're a glass beads on silk thread customer you'll just have to get them from me at one of my shows or at Hands Gallery or Main Street Gallery. Or, you can contact me directly to purchase them. (See my contact information to the right.)

As part of this overhaul there will be a big sale going on. Some of the things that are already in the Sale Items secion of my shop will be marked down further and many current listings will be reduced and added to that section.  Starting next month, just in time for Mother's Day and Graduation!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Miscellaneous Mullings

Lots of little stuff to report today:

  • The second copper clay firing was a worse disaster than the first one. This stuff is so picky! One day I'll attempt it again but I'm VERY frustrated with it. I used up the package of clay that I had, so it will be a while. Probably a long while.

  • I went to Asheville last weekend to go to the Intergalactic Bead Show and met up with Molli Koltun, one of my fellow Etsy Metal Clay Team members. It was nice to meet her in person. Too bad for me that she's moving away from this area! It was a beautiful day for a drive. We went for a cold drink after the bead show and, while sitting at an outdoor cafe, I saw people from Boone. I guess it was National People from Boone Go To Asheville Day.

  • Spring is happening here full-force. The pollen is really bad and I've been dealing with major sinus issues. BUT I'M NOT COMPLAINING. After the horrible winter it's wonderful to see that all the plants and flowers that were buried under huge piles of snow didn't seem to mind it at all. I'm itching to do some gardening and have had to restrain myself to only do clean-up projects until after Mother's Day. That's when it's safe to plant tender annuals around here.

  • I saw the first hummingbird of the season yesterday! It's time to get out the feeders and invest in a sugar plantation. Last year I went through almost 15 pounds of sugar feeding those little suckers. But I love 'em! According to the migration map, they come back here about the same time they arrive in Pennsylvania, probably because of our elevation.

  • Business is still reallllllllyyyyy slloooowwwww.  I need some money to fall out of the sky until the tourist season picks up. I'm thinking about running another sale in my Etsy Shop. Be on the lookout for that coming up soon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wandering and Wildlife

After bashing my left pointer finger twice this morning with a planishing hammer (unpublishable words were said), I decided it was time to take a break from jewelry making while I waited to see if my fingernail would turn black. So, I decided to take a walk around the bottom of my property. It's a nice hike this time of year - before the tall weeds and briars make it too difficult to navigate. I started on the southeast side and clearly found the head of one of the springs coming out of the ground:

It's hard to see in this photo, but water was freely flowing up from under ground. Below is a picture of the bog that these springs feed. It covers about a quarter of an acre of low space and it stays wet even in the most severe drought.

This is where the peepers and toads (and who knows what else) live. They've been serenading me in the evenings for the last couple of weeks. Hear the sound of a peeper here, and a toad calling here.

The bog drains into Laxon Creek. All along the banks of the creek are what I call "fugitive" jonquils. In times past someone upstream must have planted some along the creek bank. Over time flooding and erosion have deposited them in various places all the way to the river. Below is the large bunch on my property and there's several more smaller ones down stream.

A nice shot of the creek looking upstream. It runs across the front of my property from east to west and into the New River about 200 yards away:

I spotted a nice-sized trout in one of the deep pools, but he was too well camoflaged to get a decent picture. Below looks downstream to the bridge. (And more fugitive jonquils.)

I was also checking for signs of beavers. They've tried twice to dam up this creek - one time building under the bridge. I don't mind if they stay in the river, but if they flooded this property my house would end up under water. Both times I've had to get Trapper Mike, a Wildlife Damage Control Agent, out here. Beaver were hunted out of this area at one point, but have come back like gangbusters and can really be a nusiance - cutting down trees and other vegitation along the stream banks, which causes erosion and degradation of water quality. The best thing I saw on my morning walkabout was a fox running through the pasture across from me. I'm glad to know that the coyotes haven't completely overtaken their habitat. Foxes don't seem to want to eat house cats for dinner like coyotes do.

Along the way I spotted this piece of tree root. Doesn't the bottom of it look like the profile of a deer? Maybe I'm just seeing things...

Oh, and here's my bashed finger. Ouch.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gravel meditation

Wow! What a glorious day it is today! The thermometer here at my house showed 82 degrees for a short time this afternoon and I tried to be outdoors as much as I could. I fired the kiln with student work and a little bit of my work this morning and I don't like to be too far away from it while it's simmering at 1650 degrees in my studio. But the windows are open, ceiling fans are running and I'm one happy girl. (It does feel a little strange for it to be this warm and there's still no leaves on the trees, but I'm not complaining!)

After the kiln was finished I spent a couple of hours sitting on the ground in my front yard hand-picking gravel out of the grass that was left there when the snow plow dumped the snow. I need to get the majority of it out of there before it dings up the lawnmower blade, or a stone gets pitched through one of my windows, and before the grass gets too high. I raked and shoveled as much of it as I could, but then I really enjoyed the meditative feeling of doing a mindless task while sitting in the warm sunshine in shorts and a t-shirt. Pick up a handful of rocks, throw 'em in a bucket... pick up a handful of rocks...Ahhhhh.... this is what we dreamed of when there was two feet of snow on the ground. 

During my gravel meditation I was making of metal list of gardening chores - things that need to be pruned and cleaned out and where and what annuals I want to plant. (Tender plants will have to wait at least another month, though, to be safe from any late frost.) I also wandered around the yard to see what was peeking through the ground and what had buds: peonies, Shasta daisies, columbine, tall and short phlox, quince, rhododendron and forsythia. And now, as the sun goes down behind the mountain, I'm sitting here on my back porch enjoying a glass of wine and listening to the spring peepers over in the bog looking for love. Spring fever, for sure!