Friday, October 18, 2013

My Favorite Things
In the Blog Ring this week on HandmadeArtists, the topic is My Favorite Things!  This will be such fun!!!  It's been a crazy busy week...  I wish I had more time for this one!
I visited John's shop first...  RasmussenGems.  This is a tough one!  John's shop has over 160 items in it!  What to choose, what to  choose ............ 
I finally selected this stunning red garnet and gold pendant.  The clarity and light in the stone just captivated me.  You can read more about this beautiful piece here.
Then, I visited Debbi's shop, YankeeBurrowCreations, to show you this adorable crochet bunny.  I just love handmade toys - they're the ones that seem to last forever and get handed down and played with.  This little bunny is so precious.  I can just see it being a little girls best friend and the one thing she wouldn't go to sleep without!  YankeeBurrowsCreations has a wonderful assortment of things - scarves and purses and decor items - well you will just have to check it out for yourself!

And for those of you that enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, don't you just love this Lampwork Bead Wine Stopper?  This is from BrooklynBeadGoddess - the lady that plays with molten glass and fire!  I love that the beads she chose for this piece are kind of wine colored.  It's just so pretty!

If you would like to see more "Favorite Things," check out this thread on HandmadeArtists.com

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WISH I COULD DO THAT!
 
The theme for the Blog Ring on HandmadeArtists.com this week is Wish I Could Do That!  Oh, boy...  there are LOTS of things that fall into this theme for me...........
 
Quilled Hair Clip from BeadThing  $10
It's hard to believe that this lovely hair clip is made of paper...  no kidding!  The technique is called quilling and the whole process just fascinates me.  Miles of tiny, narrow strips of paper, wound and shaped to the artist's whim.  You can read more about the piece here.  And yes...  I wish I could do this, but I doubt I have the patience.  It is so lovely - don't you think?


Arabian Lantern Wire Wrapped Necklace  $62
If you've read my blog for long, you already know how much I appreciate wire wrap.  Wire of any metal is so unforgiving; one errant tweak and the work is permanently flawed.  It takes a magical touch for wire wrap to be delicate, flowing and simply perfect.   Colette Kimon, owner of the Colette Collection, is such an artist.  Aren't you simply in awe of the intricacy of this necklace?  I don't even have an idea of where you would even begin to create such a stunning piece, starting with little more than wire.
 
 
And then there's this remarkable lady...  April of BrooklynBeadGoddess.  April plays with fire and glass, taking molten glass in
Lampwork Earrings   $20
various colors to create some of the most amazing beads you will ever see anywhere.  Her blog states that she creates wearable art...  No argument there!
 
I could go on and on...  there are so many things that I wish I could do.  Check out this week's blog ring and discover what other artists chose to meet this week's theme, Wish I Could Do That!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Seeing Red!

You gotta love the color red!  I joined a new blog ring and this is the theme this week.  So let me share my favorite red things from some very talented artists!
Click HERE to see more of this terrific necklace!


This fun necklace is from RasmussenGem's shop.  Strung with red, white and blue beads, it would be a great compliment with so many outfits!  the best news...  it's liquidation priced at $7.50!  What a great bargain!!!

Click HERE for more information on this cake stand!




I love visiting Monika's MyEuropeantouch shop.  Monika takes old china, cuts it into pieces and makes something new from it.  She is truly an upcycler!  I love this pedestal cake stand with its tiny pearl beads and pink and red roses.  It would be a shame to put a cake on this as you wouldn't be able to see the beautiful mosaic any more!


Click HERE for more pictures of this beauty!
 




I just grinned when I saw this terrific scarf in Debbi's shop, YankeeBurrowCreations.  Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about crocheting with this type of yarn instead of knitting it.  Debbi commented on that post that she would have to give it a try...  Guess it worked!!!




I hope you have a great time exploring these shops and all of their beautiful pieces....  even the ones that aren't red! :}







Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Do You Do With It?
The Red Heart Yarn Company invented this new yarn which doesn't look anything like yarn.  Each time I was in the store, I would stop and admire all of the unique color combinations, some with just a hint of sparkle and others adorned with sequins.  A few times I even fingered the strands of "yarn," wondering still, how do to work with this?
I finally broke down and watched a video on YouTube, produced by the Red Heart Company, on how to knit this yarn into a ruffle scarf...  hey, I can knit!  So I took the plunge and bought a skein.
I have to admit, it is cumbersome to knit with.  You work along the un-embellished edge, picking up the thread at the very top of the yarn.  You need to turn the work in the same direction each time to knit the next row.  What you end up with has a very even, symmetrical effect; each row falls nicely into a cone shape draped just above the row before it.  As nice as it was, I ripped it out and started over.
I've seen some lovely ruffle scarves, and the best ones seem to be very random  although the ruffles are all the same size, they lay at different angles and pitch, giving the scarf a whimsical, playful appearance.  This was not something I was going to achieve with two needles.  Although crochet is not my strong suit, I decided that this yarn needs to be worked with a single hook.
And - voila!  Just the look I wanted!!  Working on the same un-embellished edge, I picked up eight stitches and pulled the ninth one through the first eight, creating the ruffles.  When I reached the desired length, I turned around and connected the subsequent ruffles to the chain as I went, until I was back to the beginning.  The first few were tedious, but now they are pretty quick to make.
I really like the way the ruffles aren't all exactly the same.  Crocheting this yarn does make the ruffles fuller as well.   After all, if you're going to put a length of ruffles around your neck, they need to look ruffly!

So the next time you're in a store and pass by a display of this new-fangled yarn, don't let it scare you!  Pick up a skein in your favorite color and give it a go.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A UNIQUE SKILL

I love jewelry, especially earrings.  From time to time, I've made a bit of jewelry, and I tend to work with seed beads and tiny findings, working them into intricate designs.  I've gifted most of the pieces I've made, and the recipients unanimously have oooohed and ahhhhhed at my finished pieces.  But every time I make a piece of jewelry, I absolutely swear I will never do it again.  The process just drives me crazy, and is anything but relaxing.  So every time I do it, my admiration for talented jewelry artists increases exponentially!

On one of these occasions, I thought I would make a wire-wrapped piece....  no big deal, right?  Just take the wire, wrap it this way and that way, and voila.  This was a project I never finished.  It's not even a project that's a do-over for me.  It went in the trash.  Balls of steel wool are far more attractive than what I produced.  I decided after that escapade that not only are jewelers the epitome of patience and perseverance, but that wire-wrap artists must be a special kind of crazy.

One such person is Collette Kimon of Collettesboutique.  This is a woman who has had her beautiful work featured in national magazines, who writes tutorials, and who draws on what must be a limitless imagination to create her stunning wire-wrapped pieces.  The stones she chooses are subtle, yet striking.  The intracacy of the finished masterpieces is astounding.  Her prices on these wearable pieces of art are more than reasonable. 

You can find her pieces at Collettesboutique at HandmadeArtists, or on her own website, ColletteCollection.  By all means, do visit and drool over her remarkable work.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

NEW BLOG RING ON 

There is a new blog ring on HandmadeArtists.com.  I joined then I withdrew because I kind of don't get what they're doing.  There's a theme (this week it's Spring) to it.  You're supposed to pick an item from the featured artists shop, one from your own shop and one from any other shop on HandmadeArtists, and then blog about it, all within the theme.  I really like blog rings, as it gives me a chance to explore shops with which I am not familiar.  But this whole theme thing is throwing me for a loop.  And mentioning an item from my own shop in a feature that is supposed to be about someone else...  well...  I guess I just don't get it, and that's okay, too.

On the other hand, the featured artists for the first week are the ultimate power couple, Andrew and Kimberly Kitchen, and I'm more than happy to blog about them!

Andrew and Kimberly are the founders of HandmadeArtistsThey started it as a forum for artisans in the handmade world when they couldn't find anything exactly to their liking that already existed.  In the few years since that humble beginning, HandmadeArtists.com has grown to be a a multi-dimensional site including an incredibly active, informative and supportive forum, and a blog and shop platform as well.  The two of them have worked and continue to work tirelessly to promote the site and the artisans who call it home.

Each are also artists in their own right.  They are both accomplished chainmaillers.  Kimberly also works with sea glass, which she meticulously wire-wraps.  Kimberly's shop, MakinTheBestOfIt, on HandmadeArtists is full of gorgeous examples of the sea glass jewelry.  Andrew's shop, ChainmaillebyMBOI  is full of intricate and wonderful chainmaille pieces in a variety of metals and other materials.  And like an infomercial...  But Wait! ...  there's more!  Kimberly also paints on glass, mostly stemware, filling many custom orders for brides year-round.  She will also take your wedding invitation and hand-paint the frame in which she mounts it to make it a permanent momento.  In their spare time, they are the proud parents of two medium sized sons.

Have a great time on your visit to these terrific sites!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sales Tax Legislation Now in Congress

There is Legislation moving its way through Washington DC right now which could change the way sales tax is charged on internet sales.  The bill has already been approved by the Senate, and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

States collect sales tax to support state functions.  It's no secret that states are losing sales tax money on internet sales.  Purchasers of goods on the internet are supposed to pay the sales tax to their state...  like that happens!  This legislation would require that all online businesses charge, collect and pay sales tax on all of their sales online.  Businesses with less than $1,000,000 in sales are excluded.

Because of the exclusion, most of you are now muttering, "then why should I care - I'm excluded."  As a business, correct, you are.  But as a consumer, you would be impacted.  Tax free online sales could become a thing of the past.

I'm wondering if this legislation, if passed, pushes people to shop locally.  After all, if you're going to pay the sales tax anyway, does that dilute the cost savings of an online purchase enough to make the shopper go into a store and buy the item?  Does having it now outweigh the marginal savings and having to wait for it through the shipping time?

All interesting questions, the answers to which can only be predicted and guessed.   

Sunday, April 14, 2013

ProjectWonderful

I love ProjectWonderful for advertising my shop online.  Anyone with a virtual business knows that if you don't promote, promote, and promote some more that you'll never have any traffic.  No traffic means no sales.  I'm not the greatest with self-promotion through social networking, so ProjectWonderful works great for me.

Simplistically, you join ProjectWonderful, then bid on ads you'd like to place on various sites.  Recently I was asked if I could write a tutorial on ProjectWonderful, and I agreed to do so.  I found very quickly that writing about it wasn't going to work, so I made a video walkt-thru.  It's on YouTube; here's the link: http://youtu.be/bqLNe-fa7hk

I hope that you find this helpful and can put it to work for you.  In case you are curious, my advertising budget is $15 per month.
  

Friday, March 22, 2013

HELPING THE HELP DESK
I have had the privilege lately to periodically man the help desk on HandmadeArtists.com.  I've had a great time doing this.  But what I've learned in the process is so interesting.  What I've learned from being on the other side is that we can inadvertently be the cause of our own frustration.

All of us, at one time or another, have needed to call, text or email technical support.  Many of us, me included, have become frustrated in this process.  Personally, I get so impatient with the support person when I feel that my intelligence is being insulted.  "Quit asking me these rudimentary questions," I think.  "I'm not a moron with no computer skills," I grumble.  Just tell me how to fix this!

Now on the other side of the screen...  I have no way of knowing what your computer skills are, or what transpired to get you to the place you are now.  I find myself asking a lot of questions to get to the bottom of the issue before I can effectively resolve it.  There's information I need before I can really be helpful.

So I've learned that when I need help in the future, my initial contact will include lots of information instead of just the current question.  I'll be sure to give the details of what led up to the point where I got stuck.  That way, the person on the other end, who is not a mind reader, will be in a much better position to help me and get me on my way.

Monday, March 11, 2013

OUR KIDS

I read an article in the news today about Michelle Obama and a keynote address she gave regarding childhood obesity.  She noted that one in three kids in the US today is obese, and that another third are overweight.  "Hmmmmmmmm," I thought.  That means that only a third of our kids are a good weight.

I set out to verify her numbers and was able to do so.  The fact that only a third of our children are a healthy weight is something I find incredibly scary.

When I was a kid, black and white TV was a new thing that wasn't even in every household.  We rode bikes; we built forts in vacant lots or the woods; we played tag and hide-and-go-seek.  We were always outside, because if we were indoors, Mom would find something for us to do, usually some sort of cleaning the house.  Fat kids were virtually non-existent when I was a kid.

When I raised my own kids, we were poor...  not the dirt-poor, live in a cardboard box poor, but the kind of poor where we had to make sure that every penny was not wasted.  We ate a ton of produce, because it was the cheapest department, as a whole, in the grocery store, and lots of chicken because it was way less expensive than beef.  We had a TV, but our house rules were that it didn't come on until after dinner.  Our house rules were pretty much the same as our neighbors.  So our kids were outside, too.

Although I live in a neighborhood where we are the exception (an older couple), I rarely see kids outside playing, even though I know that houses around us all have kids.  And after reading this news article, I think it's sad that today's kids don't go out and play the way the kids of just one generation ago did.

A lot of people are resistant to something if either Obama says it.  But setting our kids up for a lifelong weight struggle is certainly not a good idea.  So what are we going to do about it?    

Monday, March 4, 2013

LIFE GOES ON

I have been so quiet!  It's not that I have nothing to say; it's more that I have no time to say it!  There's a whole new section in my shop full of colorful, fashionable ruffle scarves, including ones sized for girls - why should the ladies have all the fun!  I still work full time.  I'm the Artist Coordinator and Chair of two regional arts festivals, one of which has an application deadline next week.  I finished a new quilt.  And our taxes are done (whew!).

To those of you following my blog, thank you.  I haven't abandoned it or you.  I just need to rearrange my life so that there's something here to follow!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

GIVING BACK
There's a wonderful opportunity for everyone to give back to the men and women who served our country and it's going on right now.  Hats for Our Veterans is collecting any hat you would care to donate.  It can be knit, crochet, fleece, felt...  anything your imagination can dream up.  The hats will be distributed by the Patriot Guard Riders, a national group with 189,000+ members.  Their sole mission is to honor our veterans, and protect the families that are left behind by fallen veterans.
The saddest reality is that many of our disabled veterans are homeless.  So, really, the only requirement of the hat is that it is warm.  I know you're sitting there reading this and thinking about the stash of surplus materials you have that you were wondering what you were going to do with.  Here's a terrific opportunity to give back and destash at the same time!
Hats for Our Veterans is on Facebook (that's where this link will take you). The page has all the information and lots of links to free patterns in case you need or want one.  If everyone makes/buys/donates just one hat, we can make a whole lot of disabled veterans warmer.  
You helping and sharing is so appreciated!