Saturday, August 30, 2008

Organized for Inspiration

shelf view 2
Originally uploaded by magscrafts
Our house is quite small, so I do not have a dedicated studio. I carve little work areas out where I can. For sewing, I recently started using the vanity area in our bedroom. It has a nice desk sized work surface. My problem, though, was storage. I had all kinds of bits and pieces, often in the box or envelope they arrived in, shoved under the desk, or pushed to the side on top of the desk.

This arrangement was incredibly frustrating! If I would sew on anything bigger than about 8x10 inches, the fabric would catch things and drag them onto the floor. Also, it is hard to let your materials inspire you from inside a priority mail flat rate box.

So I went to IKEA one day last week, and bought some shelves to mount on the wall, and some jars and boxes to put my supplies into. Today, my fabulous husband hung the shelves for me (not easy- just behind that wall is our medicine cabinet in the bathroom!). Then I spent the early evening putting my supplies on the shelves.

My favorite things are the jars of fabric scraps- some plain, some already outfitted with fusible web. I had these scraps laying on the desk before, and I was forever having to pick them up off the floor. NOw they sit so nicely in their jar and inspire me!

Friday, August 29, 2008

My first genuine yellow sea glass piece!

I found this gorgeous butterscotch yellow piece in Jamestown the other day- my husband had the day off from work and we decided to take advantage of a private beach we have access to and go looking for sea glass. It's the first piece of yellow I've ever come across. Aparently they are extremely rare, occuring about once in every 3000 pieces. Yellow glass was mainly used for decorative household dishware so not generally discarded bt the waterside.

I've been selling off some pieces of sea glass and pottery on eBay, but this one is just too good to pass up! I get so "blah" about making jewelry sometimes, nothing inspires me. When I saw this one and realized it was actually yellow and not just dirty, I was ecstatic! Now I just need to carve some time into my busy schedule so that this can become a pendant very soon!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

She May be a Dummy...

Originally uploaded by magscrafts
...but she is my dummy! I spent a huge chunk of time in the yard the other day getting some photos of various items as modelled by my mannequin, who I named Rhoda after the character from the tv series of the same name.

I bartered for Rhoda some time ago, and have lugged her out a few times to get product shots, but I really think I need to do more of it to help people see the scale of my items.

I had some trouble getting things in focus, which I think can be remedied by more practice. THe other issue is that poor Rhoda has no arms or legs, which means I often get either the chair behind her that is holding her up, or sometimes purses are longer than her torso, and hang down where her legs should be. THis does not make me love her less, I bartered for her and she is the best thing ever, but she is no bracelet model!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A light at the end of the tunnel

Well, tonight was the big clear out night in my basement. I got downstairs around 9pm and just went to it. I knew I'd been down there a while but had no idea exactly how long. When I finally came upstairs and looked at the clock it was 12:51am. I finished up what I was doing and am sitting down at the computer at 1:30am. The dungeon is looking remarkably more like a decent work space.

I don't know why I procrastinated this as long as I did. Even before I intended to use the space for crafts, I intended to have things neatly stored and organized just for the sake of keeping inventory of my shells and things for my stores. I think somehow I talked myself into believing I just had too much stuff down there and no place to put it all. Well TOTALLY not true. It is so bare in there compared to what it was you'd think I threw away 80% of my stock! There were so many cupboards, closets and built-ins that I wasn't taking advantage of and even one I didn't know was there!

Almost all of my inventory is now out of the cardboard boxes they've been sitting in since shipped to me and it is about 75% sorted by specimen into plastic storage totes. LOL, just in time for me to decide I don't want to sell half of it anymore! Well, at least selling it off will be easier!

For more photos of the progress I'm making on this project, check out my Flickr photoset Studio Remodel. (And I apologize for the terrible quality of some of the pictures, the flash and lighting were not cooperating at all tonight!)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome to the Dungeon

This horrifying mess is my "shell room". This is where I keep 95% of the stock for my eBay store and website. It is a pit of despair and this is day one, photo one of it's remodel. It will become my design studio as I move away from seashells and more into jewelry.

In the vein of organization, today I started a photo journal of my progress as I transform the space. Tonight when the kids go to bed, I am going tackle clearing a reasonable path for the plumber to gain access to a crawlspace so he can fix our outdoor water spigot. We'll see how that goes.

Maggie keeps telling me to take little bites...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Let's Get Organized

0824 sorted beads
Originally uploaded by magscrafts
So Tara and I were chatting last night and she was cleaning her house like a madwoman so she could go to the beach today guilt free. That got me thinking about how tonight when I got back from my trip, I would organize my bead boxes, because I had a lot of trouble digging out beads to take with me on my trip this weekend.

We got to talking about how organizing is such a painful process, because it is like dominoes- all a very delicate balance, and each thing you touch effects the things next to it.

We agreed to add to our 365 project that we would at least once a week have our work involve organizing, whether it be for our role as a mom, businesswoman or artist. The truth is that all those women occupy the same space!

Tonight I organized all my glass beads by size and color, and now I am feeling inspired to do something with them!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Time to Just Do It!

0823 ID badge holders
Originally uploaded by magscrafts
OK, I have two opposing forces at work in my life these days. The first is that I want to raise the bar on my work and make more artistic items, exploring new techniques and materials as I go. The reward for these efforts is often far off, and the results of these explorations not always anything fit for public view.

The opposite force is the need to keep my business running and replenish the inventory I am selling now. These items might not be the fancy artistic pieces I long to produce, but they are the bread and butter of my business at the moment. One example is the 6 ID badge holders I made today. They are simple beaded strands (of the any primate could make them variety recently referred to in Tara's post), but I try to choose pleasing colors and combinations of beads that people would love to wear, and offer them at a reasonable price.

So my short term business goals will be going down 2 paths- First to explore areas that keep me stretching as an artist and help me figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Second to make as much great stuff as I can from the massive supply of materials I have already bought!


Today I took some bold (baby) steps. For me anyway- I've dreamed for ages now of learning to silversmith, to become a true "jewelry artist". Even though I love beading and wire wrapping and will always do it, something made me feel like I just wasn't doing enough to consider myself a real designer. I need to forge my own pieces and push myself to learn new skills. Maggie once told me someone [rude] said "any monkey can string beads" and while I am defensive, thinking "we all have to start somewhere- at one point you [rude person] learned to string your first beads too!" somewhere in the back of my mind I've thought "do monkeys wield torches and saws?"

So, after a long winded intro I get to the point- I took a few classes this summer- both revolved around ring making but because there was only one other person in the class, we had lots of chat time with the instructor and she took some time to teach me a few things besides soldering. Based on my experiences, I've decided that I like the sawing and filing as much as I do the soldering and in that vein, today I purchased some tools so I can begin doing some metal work.

One of the things my instructor, Amie Plante, told me was that there's a terrific place to buy supplies right here in RI. It's called The Contenti Company and the prices are very reasonable- in some cases even much cheaper than some other supply places I've used. They have a giant selection of saws, files, hammers, punches, soldering supplies, etc etc etc. Today I bought two files made by a company called Grobet and a bench block. To date, I've been using a tiny little anvil for the small hammering I do to my pendants and it is truthfully pretty aggrevating to work on.

Over the past week I've also won some auctions for tools on eBay- I bought a sawframe and some blades, a third hand base and tweezers for soldering and a benchpin. I can't afford my torch yet so I decided I'd get the basic things I needed to just work with sheet metal and I'll work on improving my sawing techniques and maybe I'll make a few sellable pieces that can earn me some money towards the torch!

The torch kit I am looking at is made by Gentec- It is a propane/oxygen combo (I'm told that acetelyne suppliers in the North East are becoming increasingly expensive and harder to find) and is just under $300. So anyway, that's my babble on tools and supplies and plans for today- I'm very excited to start this new chapter and will post with the progress I make soon!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Useful Art?

her highness
Originally uploaded by magscrafts
I seem to have a real mental block about my work. The thing is, I think if something is useful it isn't art. So I don't think of myself as an artist. More like "someone who makes stuff". But I want to be an artist, or at least explore my artistic side more.

To work on finding my inner artist, I decided to do some work on some fiber art items. Even then I have been making the pieces into earrings or brooches or hair pins, and imagining them as part of a journal cover. I can't let them just stand for themselves as a piece.

So I saw a tutorial somewhere talking about how to use a photograph as a jumping off point for a fabric portrait. I decided I would get a good picture of my cat, and use that to try the technique. This is not easy feat- I have been trying to get a decent photo of my cat for years. So I took it as a positive sign that I got this pretty good one of her today.

Tara told me it would be cute on a bag...I told her then it would not be art...

Wahine Style

Wahine Style
Originally uploaded by mornindew2822
A thick piece of genuine sea glass nested between tea dyed bone beads with a Polynesian flair. A hammered sterling silver spiral hangs from a natural leather cord to complete the surfer girl look.

Made this piece for my best friend's 31st birthday. Happy birthday, Jennay!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Forcing myself to be productive

Sometimes motivation eludes me and my friend Maggie tells me that sometimes I get cranky by the use of the word "motivated"- it's just so hard to find inspiration sometimes. But I am working at it. As my business model changes from mainly eBay to one of free standing online website and brick and mortar stores, I thought it wise to start holding myself accountable, even when I don't feel like it.

I make sea glass jewelry and dabble in other crafty stuff- I make hand painted wine glasses, wreaths and recently bought a giant bird bath mold and 40 sq. feet of stain glass to start making mosaic bird baths. Can you say "scattered"? Anyway, I'll use this blog to chronicle my journey from stay at home mom who sometimes sells some handmade stuff to successful artist and jewelry designer who works for herself (or lands herself a really fab job at some design studio!)