Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Foto 12/30

Actually, several photos today.

Between all the holiday "stuff" I actually finished some pieces that have been on my bench for quite a while. The the toggle/pendant below was one I made the first time I worked with Bronze Clay and finally put together when I found the right shade of seed beads to go with it.

And this one is a conglomeration of several copper charms and connectors that I'd made and had stored up. I decided it was time to do something with them. I put them together with some copper chain and some etched jasper beads.

And, a silver ring that was an idea in my head for a long time finally came to fruition.

So, that's it for the year, folks. I'm not going to be working on jewelry for awhile because the season is over and sales won't pick up again until the tourists return in late spring. Our Blowing Rock gallery closes for the season (it doesn't pay to heat the place) and I can put that inventory in the Boone gallery.

It's not like I don't have enough to do - the projects are all crowded in my head - more to come on that subject soon. I hope everyone has a happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Foto 12/23

Happy Holidays, everyone! Here's a little Christmas eye candy for your enjoyment. Be sure to look closeley at the tattoo on David's ab.....

I've been having fun with They have several templates that you can imbed your own pictures in. Wouldn't it be cool if the President had a picture of me?

And, this one.... oh, my....

I've done some with my friends' faces and with that, and the "Elf Yourself" video I did with their pictures, they're going to run every time I pull out my camera from now on. I've obviously had too much time on my hands this week!

As usual, I'm going to be doing a lot of driving and a little visiting over this holiday weekend, but it will be worth it to be able to see all of my family. I hope you and yours have a magical Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Don't Let Rip-Offs Get Away With It!!

I just read this great blog post from Maureen of Cosmo's Moon Jewelry and I wanted to share it with you. I'm copying it word-for-word so that you don't even have to click on the link above to go to her blog, just keep reading. Please be aware of this and DON'T BUY KNOCK-OFF GOODS!! (I just looked at a preview of this and Blogger has messed up the formatting something awful. Please disregard. The words remain the same.)

Stolen designs? Use Social media!

I'm involved in a few groups of highly talented jewelry designers and metalsmiths. Many of us sell our work online, or at least exhibit images of our work online. This leaves us vulnerable to be copied by big foreign "companies" that are trolling the internet and craft markets for designs to rip off. It is a big problem, for both the designer and the public who are duped by these scammers.
stop © theft in the arts!

Designers of course are being ripped off- their creativity being xeroxed and slapped on an inferior "product", which is equal to outright theft. Customers of these copycat outfits are partially to blame, because they have bought into the theft , lured by false promises and shoddy imitation. It's nothing new- Nike, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci have all had their designs stolen and sold on the street. The only real difference is that now the pirates are pillaging individual artists instead of corporations (which have the power of lawyers and the money to protect their goods and ideas).

What can a single artist do? Many of us are already undervaluing our work and so doing are under paying ourselves. Even in good times thinking of coming up with thousands to commence a legal defense is usually out of the question.

What can we do? USE SOCIAL MEDIA to spread the word!

We are freshly entering a new era- Illustrated by global changes such as the Arab Spring and protest movements such as the Occupy movement. One person can effectively disseminate information worldwide with very little effort in very little time.

One well written blog post that is shared, one tweet re-tweeted many times, posts in all group pages, across all social media platforms with links and images and discussions can be the starting point for illumination- We as artists can shine the light on this problem, flush out the cockroaches hiding in the corners and effectively educate and warn our communities and customers. All there needs to be is a plan.

So- this is what I propose- (as a start) ......

Anytime a piece is found to be illegally copied (ripped off) GET LOUD!

Post as many specifics that you can without opening yourself up for legal problems yourself (put the spotlight on the specific company/entity.)

Let other artists know what is going on- ask for a re-post or re-tweet.

Artists- Re-post! the longer the chain of shares and re-tweets the more information is spread through the community, which will keep the conversation going, keep the community vigilant and bring us together as a force to be reckoned with.


Above all- don't let the assholes get you down. Copycats have been around since the dawn of mankind, it's not going away. There is even a truism that says that copying is a form of flattery. (though someone who is losing business because of these rip off hyenas certainly isn't flattered, they are irate- for damn good reason!)

Power to the artists, come together as a community- let's keep this topic on the front burner and get organized to help protect our original designs!

And customers, remember- cheaper really does mean cheaper. If you value handmade, the artist has to get paid!

ciao- Maureen BZ

Founder, "Metalsmiths Unite!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Foto 12/16

We have a bear in the neighborhood. (Not the one above - I took this picture at Grandfather Mountain last fall.) Something had been getting in my bird feeders (other than the deer that I observed licking seed out of the bottom of the feeder nearly every day) and I thought it was the giant raccoon that I'd seen around because the shepherd's hook that the feeders were hanging from had been uprooted and the seed raided. Then one morning the pole was bent in two and one of the feeders was smashed flat. I don't think a raccoon could do that, not even a huge one! About a week later I was coming home at night and the bear crossed the road in front of my car, headed down the hill towards my house. I'm not ashamed to tell you that when I pulled in the driveway I was a little afraid to get out of the car! So, sorry birds, I can't leave seed out for you any more. And I really miss the birds. :-(

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday Foto on Saturday

Blogging has been the last thing on my mind this week. Sorry I forgot the Friday Foto yesterday, but luckily, I remembered that "when all else fails, post a picture of your cat".

It's a busy time for everyone right now. I'm no exception, even though I don't have a lot of holiday shopping to do. Every time I think I'm all finished, something else comes up that has to be done/bought and that has a lot to do with Mercury being retrograde. At least I know I don't have to go back to WalMart for the rest of this year and that's a big relief! Have a good week, everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Foto 12/2

This is Chance on the left and Bella on the right and they're the reason I'm here in Chapel Hill at my sister's house. I'm baby-sitting them for the next few days, along with Smokey the Cat. While I'm spending a long weekend here I'm also hoping to put a dent in the Christmas shopping, since I'm close to the big malls, and visit with some other friends and family. Hot time in the big city! Woo Hoo!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bad Haircut

Photo from
Don't you hate getting a bad haircut? Soooo frustrating! That's what happened to me yesterday. I guess it's not necessarily a "bad" haircut. It's even. There's no sticky-out parts. But it's way too short! Especially the bangs. Not as short as in the photo above but that's what it feels like. It reminds me of when I was about seven and my Mom used to cut my hair. The bangs wouldn't be even, so she'd cut a little more off the longer side. Then that side would be too short, so she'd cut more from the other side. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? My sister and I called it "bangs in the brains". I know it's just hair and it will grow back out, but this is the wrong time of year to have short hair. It's too cold! She cut the back so short that she had to use the trimmers on my neck. Ugh.

This woman has been cutting my hair for years, and I don't know what got into her yesterday. I told her just to trim it up a little. She must have thought I was someone else. She had my back to the mirror for awhile and when she turned the chair around I said "STOP CUTTING!!" She was quite alarmed and said "I thought you liked your bangs a little shorter." Nooooo!!!

So, now there's nothing that can be done about it. I usually go every six weeks for a trim, but it will be quite a lot longer than that next time. Makes me want to grow it back out down to my ass, like it used to be when I was an Earth Mother Hippie Rainbow Child.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Snow of the Season

Just a little bit, but enough to be a nuisance.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

Click here to go directly to the listing on Etsy.
We're done with "pre-Thanksgiving" and "Black Friday", so I think today is the last day with a label until we get to "Last-Minute Shoppers". Gack! I'm really sick of pimping my work so that maybe one of you gazillions of people that are online today might buy something. I'm not sure that my little reminders are getting through all the hype and hoopla created by the big chains anyway.

So, y'all know by now that I have an Etsy Shop, right? That's where you can buy my work online. I have a lot of new pieces of jewelry there, as well as a lot of stuff that I've cleaned out of my studio. The "Studio Stash" is listed at incredible prices because I'm selling it for what I paid for it. And silver has gone way up since then. Today only you can get 10% off of anything in the shop by using the code BLOGREADER. After today and until December 15, get free shipping by using EMCFREESHIP. So, if you haven't maxed out your credit card on by now, I would appreciate it of you would consider a piece of hand made silver jewelry to give to someone this holiday season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Foto (Edited)

Click here to go directly to the listing for this necklace.
Jumping on the shopping bandwagon, here. This piece is available in my Etsy Shop and you can get a 10% discount if you enter the coupon code BLOGREADER. Sorry! This one has sold, but there are a lot more new listings! And the coupon code works on any of them.

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and got to spend time with friends and/or family. Mine was quiet. I went to a buffet restaurant with a friend and ate way too much, but that's part of the holiday experience, right? I'll be nibbling on baby carrots today while I work at Hands Gallery. I hope that people will shop in our small co-op today instead of the big box stores! Happy holiday weekend to you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ramping Up!

A tree growing out of the rocks at Kohunlich Maya Ruins, Mexico.

I think I'm back to normal (whatever that is) after my vacation. I'm working at the Main Street Gallery today and it's foggy and dreary and there's not many people here. Good day for a blog post!

The holiday season is approaching fast! Only a few more days until Black Friday and the craziness of holiday shopping after that. I have been and will continue to ramp up my Etsy Shop for Cyber Monday and beyond. Listing lots of new things and renewing old ones, striving to be at the top of search lists. And I still have a lot of Studio Stash listed at some great bargain prices. Here's a couple of new ones recently listed:

Silver Daisy with a CZ Center
Click to go to the Etsy listing

Amethysts and Fine Silver
Click to go to the Etsy Listing

Do yourself a favor this year and try and avoid the malls and the big box stores. If you shop at small, independent retailers you'll have a more relaxing time and more of your money will stay in your community. Or, shop online with your favorite jewelry artist!

If you've read this far, I have a reward for you. Many of the members of the Etsy Metal Clay Team are offering free shipping through December 15. You can use the coupon code EMCFREESHIP to get that in my shop or any of the other EMC Team members' shops. If you order after December 15 your purchase will need faster and more expensive shipping in order to arrive in time for Christmas. And, as a special "thank you" to my blog readers, use the code BLOGREADER to get 10% off in my shop only.

At this time of giving thanks I want to say out loud that I am so grateful for the people who appreciate my work and who take the time to come here and read about what's going on in my life. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Home From Paradise

I got home late Thursday from my birthday cruise to Mexico. What a fantastic trip! My sister and I flew to Tampa, Florida on the 11th and had a nice lunch with our only remaining aunt and uncle the next day in Clearwater. We boarded the ship later that afternoon and set sail at 4:30. Many people gathered on the helipad deck to watch us go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge - we had 9 feet to spare. Then, across the Gulf of Mexico. It was quite rough, but luckily I don't have trouble with sea-sickness.

Our first port was the island of Cozumel. It was beautiful from the ship, but not so much when we got off to do a little shopping. It's really not much more than a tourist trap and they're so aggressive about trying to get you to come into their stores and buy from them. I was not impressed.

Our second port was Costa Maya, which I found out didn't even exist ten years ago. The property was bought by the cruise ship lines and developed for tourists. Again, not impressed, but at least this was newer and cleaner. We didn't do any shopping there, as it was the same junk shops as in Cozumel. Our reason for getting off the ship was to take a 2-hour bus ride into the interior to see the Kohunlich Maya Ruins.

We had a fantastic tour guide and I found it to be very interesting. He pointed out wildlife and explained what was known about the Maya culture. We saw moths that looked exactly like the bark on the tree and you wouldn't know they were there unless someone pointed them out to you. We saw snakes, howler monkeys and lots and lots of rocks. It's hard to believe that the Maya people just abandoned these impressive cities and disappeared.

When the tour was finished and we got back to the bus for our return to the ship, the air conditioning was not working. And, boy howdy, was it hot and muggy. Apparently, a belt had broken. So off we go with the windows open for about 20 miles, when we see another tour bus headed towards us. The two buses stopped in the middle of the road and the driver of the other bus handed ours a belt. We pulled over and five minutes later we were riding in cool comfort. I was glad that our driver was also a mechanic - it was 91 degrees!

Our ship was the Jewel of the Seas and one of the first things we did after boading was get a fruity drink. Later, I found out I really like Champagne Bellini's and so we hung out at the Champagne Bar in the evenings after dinner to drown our sorrows from losing money in the casino. I won my money back on the fourth night, so I didn't gamble any more after that.

The staff was friendly and helpful (especially Lorenzo, who insisted on mixing up lots of "medicine" for my twisted knee after the day climbing around the Maya Ruins.)

And, of course, you can't go on a cruise without experiencing the incredible food. Both in deliciousness and quantity. I swear, now I don't want to eat a thing... until Thanksgiving, that is... then Christmas... uh oh! This could be bad. I already know what my New Year's resolution should be.

But, we had a marvelous time and now it's back to reality. So far, I've made it through the giant pile of mail and done two loads of laundry. Now, since I got used to taking a nap every day, I think I need to go lay down. I swear, I'll get back to work on Monday!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Vacation!

I will be away for a week or so because I'm going on the first real vacation I've had in 11 years. Whoopee! I have one of those zero birthdays coming up, so several months ago my sister booked us on a cruise to Mexico to celebrate. This is great. It gets me away from all my sneaky friends that might consider giving me a surprise party!

I. do. not. like. surprises. I get so embarrassed and emotional and sometimes go into the “ugly cry”. I was finished with surprise birthday parties after my 40th, when my ex-husband and my Mother organized one for me. Fred got me away from the house so that preparations could be made and when we got back and everyone hollered “surprise”, there I stood, shocked, in grubby clothes, no makeup, and hadn’t had a shower that day. And, Mom invited one of my old boyfriends. I burst in to tears that I’m sure everyone thought was surprise, but I was pissed! I swore if anyone ever did that to me again there would be hell to pay.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I’ve taken a vacation. There are lots of reasons, I suppose. Money is tight, life situations don’t allow for it, I don’t want to go by myself… And, I get to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth all year round. But, for some reason thinking about this trip has me believing that I’ll be doing more traveling in the not too distant future. I have a couple of ideas in the works and I’m hopeful that they work out. I’m not getting any younger, you know, and there are things I want to do and places I want to see while I still can.

So, while I’m relaxing with a fruity drink and watching the ocean and thinking about the fact that it could snow here while I’m gone, I hope you remember to take some time for yourself also. My Etsy Shop will be on vacation, and Friday Foto suspended. See you when I get back!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Foto 11/4

Tomorrow it will be one year since Lola showed up on my back porch hungry, injured and very vocal. I'm so grateful for her company!

I'm feeling... well... kind of "pissy" today. I want to crawl inside my shell and hide for a while and not deal with people, so that's what I think I'll do.

I hope you have a great weekend. I'll be back next week after I crawl out of this mood.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Addendum to a previous post...

Hahaha!! This goes right along with what I was saying in my post of September 20.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Foto 10/28

Cedar Waxwing - one of my favorite birds. Doesn't he look like a little super hero with his black mask? Photo by Ken Thomas.

Now that things have calmed down a little, I'm starting to think about this trip that my Sister and I have been planning since last March. You see, I have one of those birthdays ending in a zero coming up in a few weeks and she's taking me to Mexico to celebrate. I think the most exciting thing about this is that it's the first vacation I've had in 11 years. Can you believe that the last time I was on an airplane I didn't have to take off my shoes? Or worry about bottles of liquid over 3 ounces, or pat-downs, or revealing x-rays?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gem Show Goodies

I drove down to Asheville yesterday to the gem show at the civic center. One of only a few opportunities I have each year to buy supplies in person versus through a catalog. It's time to stock up so that I have enough supplies this winter, when I produce most of my work.

I bought a lot of silver chain. Some by the foot and some finished snake and rope chains. I was extremely low on chain due to the high silver prices recently, but it's come down a little in the last few weeks and I was desperate for chain. That's an expensive pile of loot you're looking at!

Which makes this pile of copper things I bought all that much more appealing. I've been increasing my copper stock recently since people seem to be a little more interested in purchasing copper jewelry than they used to be. I've been enjoying working with this rich, warm metal more, too. I made several things from copper clay during the first two weeks of my recently finished class, as I had to fire student copper pieces anyway. I've also done some things with 16 gauge wire that I'll show you soon.

I also got this little pile of beads. From top to bottom, some lapis, rainbow moonstone, some gorgeous faceted aquamarine and some pearls. I just wasn't into buying many beads after I spent so much money on metal.

Now that shows are over and my schedule has eased up a little I'm starting to think about next month. I'll be gone for about half of November and, since I'm mostly a hermit, there's a lot of planning to do around that. Again, more on that coming up, so stay tuned.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Foto 10/21

This giant Praying Mantis (or is it Preying Mantis?) was relaxing on the side of my house earlier this week.

It's been a crazy week, with a few more busy days to go before I feel back to "normal". The show last Saturday was phenominal - gorgeous weather and good sales. Can't ask for better than that at a show. Then the President came on Monday and that shot the whole day. Appointments, meetings, and gallery days have eaten up the rest of the week. I need a little studio time, right now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


President Obama in downtown Boone, October 17, 2011
Photo courtesy of High Country Press
Yesterday was such a surreal day. I heard rumors that the President would be driving through town on his bus tour after leaving Asheville and on his way to Wilkes County. Here's the series of serendipidous events: First, I met my Ex, Fred, and his friend Lynn at Woodlands Barbeque in Blowing Rock for lunch and we jokingly speculated that maybe the Prez would stop and have lunch with us. The man loves Barbeque, after all. When we finished eating we were not allowed to leave because the road was closed.

There was a policeman directing all cars that were on the road into the parking lot next door, telling them that the road was closed by order of the Secret Service. (And, as a side note, this policeman happens to be one of my neighbors.) At one point a car tried to leave and I heard Stacy say to him "If you want to go to JAIL, just try leaving this parking lot!"

And then...

Finally... here was the big black bus! Our first clue was a group of State Trooper motorcycles followed by several State Trooper SUVs, all with lights flashing.

And, then he was gone. It took about an hour to get home from there, with several detours. First, I tried to come home on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but traffic was not moving, so after waiting forever I turned around and took the main road back into Boone. I tried to go the back way to Deep Gap, got stuck again, turned around again, found another back road and when I was within 2 miles of home the road was closed again. Because, guess what? Here came the big black bus again!

Apparently, while I was stuck in traffic all over the county, the President went to Mast Store in downtown Boone. I happened to catch him again on his way to Wilkes County.

It was a thrilling, but exhausting afternoon. I'm grateful that we decided to get lunch where we did and that I had my camera with me. I don't care what your politics are, it's exciting to be able to say you saw the motorcade for the President of the United States go by. You can read Fred's rendition of the day here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Foto 10/14

Busy, busy week getting ready for a show and no time to take new pictures. So here's one of Lola's awesome whiskers. She's been so helpful this week, mostly using her curiosity for quality control inspections.
Wish me luck tomorrow. I really need this to be a good show!
Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Oh, man... things are starting to pile up on me! Last week I felt like crap and didn't get much done. I'm feeling better now, thank goodness, because this week I have:

1. A guy pressure wased my house last Friday and is coming back today to seal all the wood. Which means I had to get all my "stuff" off the porches... and I have a lot of stuff on my porches. And I'll need to get it all back on the porch when he's finished, after it's dry, and before it starts to rain. Timing will be everything. The house looks so good without the green patches and the spider webs!

2. A show this coming Saturday - The Valle Country Fair is the only one I'm doing this year. I had to cancel all my others because I wasn't feeling well. I've been trying to get some things made just so I feel like I have enough for a full display. I don't work well under pressure, so this has been difficult. I really need this to be a good show, for obvious reasons!

3. I have company coming this weekend so the house needs to be straightened up. I don't need to do a major cleaning for these folks, because they know me well and understand that I can only do so much. They're coming with the excuse that they're going to help me with my show, but I know they also want a get-away to the mountains on peak leaf-looking weekend. It's all good!

4. All my show equipment has been stored in the shed since the Valle Country Fair last year. It will all need to be cleaned and inspected before it's packed in the car on Friday afternoon. My old tent was in horrible shape the last time I set it up, so I expect that it will be worse by now. Let's hope for clear, gorgeous fall weather so I don't even have to set it up and I can have all my jewelry out in the sunshine.

5. My "good" computer is in the hospital. It was running slow and was getting a lot of errors, so I had no choice but to take it in. One of the major errors was with Norton Security and I really don't like being online with my virtual butt hanging out in virus land. So, I'm working on a really old laptop today. It's slow and I can't get to my email on it. Hopefully my other one is not too sick and I'll get it back this afternoon or tomorrow.

Well, that's it for now. Gotta get busy this morning. Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Foto 10/7

This is my neighbor's dog and cat, anxiously awaiting her arrival home last evening. My car and hers look similar and I always hate to see the disappointment on their faces when they realize it's not hers. They're so cute all snuggled up together.

This has not been a good week for me. I've had a lot going on, and I haven't felt too good because I've had to deal with bad hives again. (They never go completely away, but this week was worse than normal.) I think I figured out that cheap Vitamin C tablets make them worse. Once they're out of my system I'll be better, I'm sure.

Have a good weekend everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Foto 9/30

Photo by Dale Forrest
There's a strong cold front coming in from Canada and it's supposed to be windy with a high temperature in the 40's and snow flurries tomorrow. Not a fun way to bring in October. Hopefully that Canadian cold front will also bring the package of supplies that I ordered three weeks ago from a Canadian Etsy shop! Have a good weekend, everyone, and stay warm!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thank you!

A big THANK YOU to Metal Clay Today magazine for featuring this blog in their "Best of the Blogs" section. (I tried to get you a picture of the cover of the fall issue, but I'm working at the gallery today and our computer here just couldn't handle that.) And a warm welcome to all the new readers who have found me through the article. The author called this a "tranquil blog"... Sometimes, but not all the time!

Metal Clay Today is a free, quarterly online magazine. Their banner states
"Metal Clay Today is devoted to giving recognition, encouragement and a voice to the many gifted artisans, teachers and enthusiasts in the metal clay world."
I feel very honored to have been chosen out of all the bloggers out there that write about metal clay. Thanks again!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Still a lot of studio stash for sale

Awhile back I did a studio clean-up and decided to sell a lot of the things that I had been keeping "because I might do something with them someday". I just want everyone to know that there are still a lot of deals to be had. I've listed them at the silver price I paid at the time, so there are some really good bargains. Go to My Etsy Shop and check it out. You can see all of these items at once if you click on the "Components, Studio Stash" section over on the left side of the screen.

I'm really surprised that this one hasn't sold yet:

Apatite set in sterling silver. Click here to go to the listing on Etsy.
Or, this one:

Carnelian in a sterling silver setting. Click here to go to the listing on Etsy.
And these - all cut out and drilled and ready to use in your own project:

Set of five sterling silver triangles. Click here to go to the listing on Etsy.
These will stay in the shop until they expire - I won't be relisting them. At that time they'll go to the scrap pile. So get your bargains while you can!!