Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving, Mindfulness, and A Sale

For me, Thanksgiving isn't about traditions and a big meal, and not even really about being thankful, per se. It is about being mindful. I have images in my head of people sitting around a table, surrounded by family, everyone taking turns saying what they are thankful for, and in my head I always hear one person look down at their plate and boisterously saying, "I'm sure thankful for this turkey!" with a loud, lingering chuckle. And when I imagine this fictitious person in my head I wonder, what do they mean by 'thankful'? Because, I don't think you can be truly thankful until you consider or, God forbid, experience and know what you'd be missing if it were gone. To not only know what something is - whether it's turkey or love or hope - but what it is not (hunger/loneliness, hatred, persecution/despair).

Delicious Turkey Dinner

I am still working on a full and complete understanding of mindfulness, but I mean it as being in the moment and taking the time to experience something fully. Fully. I first learned about it in college when a long-term relationship fell apart (and my ex-finace, who had previously decided it would be great to work where I did, then immediately started dating someone else - at our work). I found a therapist who told me to practice being mindful of life in nature. She explained that I would sit and close my eyes and listen for the sound of the wind in the trees, listen to how it was different from the sound of wind-blown grass. I would listen for the sounds of the birds, not only their songs, but the sound of their wings in the air. And, in those moments, I began to understand that what I had perceived as a great loss, was instead, pretty small compared to all of the other things I had lost sight of.

Since then, I've been trying to apply the practice of mindfulness to other parts of my life. Like many wise people before me, I've begun to understand that the value of something is proportional to it's uniqueness and ability to be replaced, and that everything is much more unique than is superficially apparent. I think of the saying, you can't walk through the same river twice, and I realize that what you succeed or fail in giving to yourself or others in this moment changes every moment moving forward. And while the change of any one instance is usually imperceptible, the sum of many such moments is clear, indeed.

So, when I'm mad at my son for using permanent marker on the wall, part of me feels a very real need to walk away, and yet, making the choice to realize that love is more important than the paint, makes a huge difference in the future of our relationship. Am I going to be the mom that gets angry and distant when something goes wrong, or am I going to see through my anger to what really matters? Being mindful helps me see what I need to focus on instead of the obvious. So I dig in and realize I need to appreciate that there's even a painted wall there to be creatively enhanced, and that my son is bright and healthy enough to do it, and both of those are far more important than scribbles on a wall. Plus, someday he'll get to learn how to fix it :)

And like I mentioned above, just in case we haven't uncovered enough to consider, mindfulness is not only embracing what something is, but also what it isn't. I'll just let you chew on that for a while yourself.

So, when I say my Thanksgiving isn't about tradition and a big meal, I stop myself for considering all of the dysfunctional reasons it's become that way and consider, instead, that I'm able to enjoy a day with my son and husband, and that we don't need to worry about staying warm, or cope with abuse, or look for food. Despite all of the terrible things life can heap on people through no fault of their own, we suffer little. I make myself conscious of my son breathing, and the ears I have to hear it, the smell of his hair as he laughs on my lap, and my ability to smell it, the lines forming on my husband's face as he smiles, and the eyes I have to see it; through that mindfulness, I am truly thankful for more abundance than I would otherwise have realized.

Another thing I have tried very hard to be mindful of this year is the talent I have and my ability to use it to create art. I have worked hard to use my hands to make beautiful things. But, there comes a time to experience letting our creations go. And, since it's that season, I'll be having a week-long Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday sale with 25% off everything in my Etsy store. If you've been with me a while, you can attest that's totally unprecedented. And before I get into how I think sales undermine the value of art and artists ... I'll return to my mindfulness and tell you to use the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY at check out. The sale will end at 11:59 CST Monday, December 2nd.

CUSTOM Beach Sand - Filled, Capped, and Cored Clear Hollow Lampwork - Beach Ball Treasure Pendant - Made to Order - SRA AutEvDesigns, ISGB
Yep, those, too.

In whatever form you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Experiments

I find I do most of my experimental work when I'm in the midst of the heavy production work that comes before art shows. Just when my brain says no. more. boring. beads. I'll make something crazy to break up the monotony. In some ways, however, it feels counterproductive.

You've all experienced it. You step outside of your comfort zone; try something new in order to grow and develop. And the result?


Just when you thought that you were working on a new plane of talent and enlightenment ...

new small gnome house
I think this new design is rockin'!

... you make something(s) that make you want to bury your head in the sand. Grrrrr.

four experimental lentils
They're all so ... meh.

I know what you're thinking. That citrus-y looking one isn't *too* bad ... until you see where it cracked. In two places!!! Ugh.


And I'll grant you, they all have some redeeming qualities. The bead with the drawing of a boat actually looks kind of like a boat. But they just aren't spectacular, whether the colors didn't turn out right, or the depth isn't what I hoped for, or the whole thing just looks ... blah - and to my inflated ego and the 30-45 minutes I invested in each, that's depressing.

Of course, we're wise. We know that's an inevitable part of getting better at something. Failure is a necessary component of growth. But, in the moment? It's SOOOOO frustrating! The emotional part of your brain taps on your shoulder and asks,

"Um? Why do you do this, again? Are you SURE you wouldn't be better suited to some other line of work?"

And who can you kick around in response ... but yourself?

So, then I go back to what I know. Content for a while there are things I can do adequately. Appeased momentarily to bear the monotony. For a while. Hoping that my next attempt at new and different is a little more magnificent than it was this time. Cross your fingers!

So, tell me. Do you deal with your frustrations more cheerfully than I do? :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Something New: Gnome House Cabochons

I wanted to share this with you all to see what you think. My new gnome house on a hill lampwork cabochon:

Gnome House

On Flickr I've been following the photostream of fiber artist Mimi Kirchner, in large part because I saw and fell in love with these:

Tiny world with vine heart house

woodsy tiny world strawberry cup tiny world

Then my friend Nancy Dale did a post about a found object freeform peyote challenge she did, in which she made:

So, now having seen these adorable houses on hills in two mediums, I was, of course, competitively obligated inspired to make my own version.

Gnome HouseGnome House

The base is lime green. I used frit to add some color variation to the grass, used some translucent brown for shiny rocks on the path and by the door, some olive green to add a little texture in the grass, and ivory, coral, & brown for the house.

In the end the cabochon ended up coming off of the cabochon mandrel prematurely because of the weight and the base getting cooler as I added the house. So, in think that, in future iterations, I'll be making these off mandrel, attached to a glass puntil, which I'll then cold work with a diamond saw and flat lap to finish. Hopefully that'll work better and I'll have better control over the glass so I can do the details better. (I am frustrated with the overlapping brown on the door!) Maybe add some cute little flowers on the hill!

I'm just SO excited about all of the options here and I'm definitely going to make more. What do you guys think? I haven't seen glass cabochons like this before. Have you? If you have, let me know! I want to ogle the eye candy, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Art Show Promotion Basics For Artists

As I'm getting ready for my art shows coming up, I'm doing my best to help promote both. In both cases I'm surprised by the number of artists that aren't getting involved - not just by not promoting the show, but not even submitting images of the work they're bringing. I know how much time and energy I'm putting into getting work ready for the shows, so I know I want people to be there. Lots of people!

I know that not everyone has the time or personality to actively promote, but if you're going to show work at an art show there are some basic things you need to do or have, besides getting your work ready, in order to make the show successful.

1) Have at least one good picture that's representative of the work you're going to bring. Even if you're not actively promoting the show, there will be someone that does - whether it's the owner or manager of the venue, the show organizer, or another artist - and they want to draw in as many people as possible by showing tantalizing images of what will be available. Even without a website, you can create a Flickr account for free and upload images there so they're easily accessible.

Riveted Wrap Bangle With Borosilicate Slider Beads

2) Have a place people can see your work online. Whether you have a blog, an Etsy store, a Facebook fan page, or a Flickr account, you want someplace on the web people can see your work, not only to browse and shop, but to establish your credibility as an artist. You create trust with shoppers by being available to past and future customers online before and after the show. The more credible the individual artists, the more traffic the show will receive. Plus, by not having an online presence you cut yourself off from the momentum, exposure, and after show sales that an art show generates.

Doing An Art Show? Be Available Online.

3) Make yourself available to distribute art show advertisements. You don't have to hand out post cards on a busy street corner (but what a great idea!), but if you're local, attach them to community events boards that you know about in church, or a coffee shop. Stick them in waiting rooms in doctor offices or car mechanics. Ask stores if you can post them inside restroom stalls! Get the word out! If you aren't local, post it in a blog, on your website, or even just on your Flickr site. Want a marketing tip? Attach a promotional coupon for a free item with purchase or a percentage off a single item from you if they show you the coupon at the art show!

GINKGO coffeehouse Holiday Art Show flier

Minneapolis/St. Paul Holiday JEWELRY Sparkle Mart

4) Help figure out where else to promote. This is sort of related to the last note, but it's bigger. More than just a flier, you can create or link up to an Etsy Local event page, create a Google + event page, send press releases to newspapers, post on related Facebook pages, or online community forums. Example: for the Art Charm Auction I'm part of, one of the other artists realized it would be a good idea to promote the auction on the Facebook pages of the local hospitals our charity supports. Chances are there are lots of places to announce the show and every idea from every person counts!

5) Tell everyone you know. For some people this is the easiest part, for others this may be the scariest. But, you know people. Whether it's the first person that ever bought art from you, your family, best friends, or coworkers, chances are that - if nothing else - people are going to want interesting things to do with their weekend. They are also going to want to spend some of their holiday budget locally. You aren't asking for a personal favor. You're making sure they have valuable information! Plus, if it makes you more comfortable, you can phrase it as "come see all of these amazing artists (and I'll be there, too)." But, people won't know they should come if you don't tell them.

So, if you're in an art show this holiday season, you have my very best wishes for a great show! Just remember, it doesn't happen magically, or by the effort of others, or just by bringing pretty things. For a great show, you need to get your hands dirty and help get the information out there in as many places as possible! Now get out there and make it happen!

Are there any other basics I forgot to mention? Let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 15, 2013

2013 Art Charm Swap REVEAL & Beads of Courage AUCTION!

Buckle up, ladies and gents because today is going to be a festival of eye candy! Today is the day I get to reveal the eleven charms I made for the 2013 Art Charm Swap hosted by Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions, as well as the nine lovingly handmade art charms that I received as part of the swap.

Every artist in the swap made ten charms to swap and one charm to auction off to raise funds for Beads of Courage, the charity that provides morale-boosting beads to help children receiving life-saving treatments in hospitals all over the US to help them document their treatment journey and to remind them of their courage.

The first and most important thing you need to know is that one of my charms, along with one charm from every artist in the swap is up, individually, for auction starting today on Jennifer's Glass Addictions eBay page:

So please go take a look and, if you like something, please bid. If there's something you can't live without, shop now, because there's a $20 Buy It Now option! All proceeds are being donated to Beads of Courage. Jen wanted you to know that she's combining shipping. If you win a BIN, you have to pay immediately. If you are also participating in bidding, she can hold your BIN (Buy It Now) until the end and not charge additional shipping. But if you don't message her, she will ship within a day or two. Also the auction will be staggered. Each listing will be 2 minutes apart to facilitate bidding on multiple items. Also there will be batches this morning, the second batch will stagger start Saturday morning from 9am to 9:45-ish EST, and the third batch will start Sunday evening at 8pm-8:45-ish EST.

My Charms
I'll start with the beads that I made for this swap.

2013 Art Charm Swap

As a lampworker - who really loves doing stringer decoration - I knew that would be the focal point of my charm design. I knew I wanted my charm to be more special than just putting my bead on a headpin with fringe. Don't get me wrong, I love - loooooooove - fringe, mostly because of the movement it adds to a design, but I use that element a lot in my work and I really wanted this charm to be unique. So, I decided instead to make my bead do the moving. As I pondered the theme - love - a little more, I decided to create a bead that expressed the idea, Love Makes The World Go Around, like a globe on its axis, but with hearts dominant to clearly communicate the theme.


To create the metal frame I ran some 14 gauge copper wire through my rolling mill and stamped "LOVE" on what would become the spine of the frame, again to reinforce the theme of LOVE making the world go around. I made some long 18 gauge headpins, flattened a bit like the base of a globe stand, to string the bead onto the frame and square wire copper jump rings to help reduce the friction of the bead against the frame to help it spin better. Then I used my bail-making pliers to create the loop on top and added the jump ring. Finally I soaked the whole thing in liver of sulfur to add some patina to the metal, then put it all in my tumbler with stainless steel shot to polish and harden the metal.

LOVE Makes The World Go Around

It's almost like, by spinning, the dots just flew right out of the heart. First they're in:

2013 Art Charm Swap

And then they're out!
2013 Art Charm Swap

Since I know that not everyone knows exactly what lampworking is, or the process, I made a video of me making one of the beads for the swap and auction so that you could see!

The Charms I Received
In exchange for nine of the eleven charms I made, I received nine handmade charms in return, plus one of my own. In alphabetical order:

Alenka Obid
Alenka is a polymer clay artist. I really like the gold and the rhinestone on this charm. It makes it feel regal. Tangentally, I love that her business cards say that her work is handmade in Slovenia.

Pepita by Alenka Obid

Caroline Dewison
Caroline is a ceramic artist. When I first saw this I was immediately struck by the clean lines and color, making the heart of gold stand out. It's an elegant charm and her talent in sculpting such a small form cleanly stands out.

blueberribeads - handcrafted ceramic beads - by Caroline Dewison

Cassi Paslick
Cassi, who donated a bunch of polymer clay beads she made with her daughter during last year's Art Charm blog hop made a sweet little impressed-leaf charm this year with delicate pink Swaroski crystals and a small matching blue heart.

Emily's Bead Corner by Cassi Paslick

Cheri Mitchell-Reed
Cheri made a layered metal charm using a darkened and polished embossed copper oval and a small brass circle with a stamped heart and happy turquoise blue patina, which really makes the heart jump out at you.

Creative Designs by Cheri | Cheri Mitchell-Reed

Lennis Carrier
Lennis made this really creative two-sided resin pendant in an antique brass frame. The tiny red hearts add a ton of sparkle on top of the painted blue background and opalescent silver clouds, and the hot air balloon adds such a fun pop of color!

Windbent by Lennis CarrierWindbent by Lennis Carrier

Mallory Hoffman
Those of us in the ISGB know that last year Mallory donated more lampwork beads to Beads of Courage than any other lampwork artist in the country, so it was a surprise to see that she's branching out into polymer clay! Her color sensibility diverges from her more subtle lampworking palette with these boldly contrasting colors.

Rosebud's Lampwork Beads by Mallory HoffmanRosebud's Lampwork Beads by Mallory Hoffman

Monique Urquhart
Monique's talent shows in every tiny detail stuffed into this lovely charm, from the color palette, the finely sculpted rose and leaves, the carefully colored stamped lettering on the sides spelling out "my love is like a red red rose", to the textured and color-highlighted back. Lovely!

A Half Baked Notion by Monique Urquhart: My Love Is Like A Red Red RoseA Half Baked Notion by Monique Urquhart: My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose

Terri DelSignore
Terri created this nostalgic piece with heavy, textured and forged copper, and heavily blackened metal, and glazed ceramic cross, like it is an artifact that's just been plucked from the courtyard of an old Spanish church. This definitely appeals to the archaeologist in me.

Artisticaos by Terri DelSignore

Toltec Jewels
Rita, a.k.a. Toltec Jewels, was the obvious over-achiever in this swap and I was lucky enough to receive her three, yes three, fun charms that she made for this swap and all three are multi-layered feasts for the eyes!

She named this first one Love is a Diamond in the Rough and it includes a Kristi Bowman Designs custom made tag, copper chainmaille diamond, and Swarovski Black Diamond crystal. I love that it has a rustic vibe that complements the diamond-in-the-rough theme for this charm.

Toltec Jewels: Love is a Diamond in the Rough

Rita named this second charm Love You Like Sliced Bread and features an amazingly textured and realistic polymer clay bread slice and melted butter custom made by Amazing Designs by Marlene Cupo. This one almost doesn't even need the colorful Czech pressed hearts that embellish this charm.

Toltec Jewels: Love You Like Sliced Bread

The title of this third charm is Love is a Keepsake and combines a trip of warm antique bronze hearts, including an Olla Podria vintage brass heart locket, Olla Podria vintage brass heart cage with Swarovski heart chakra green crystal rondelles, and heart stamped brass hearts by Margot and Andrew Potter.

Toltec Jewels: Love is a Keepsake

I wanted to thank each of these passionate artists for sharing the love of their craft with me, for each of these charms is a window into their creative soul. What I particularly admired was how I could see the touch - often literally - of the artist in every charm I received. The art that we craft - especially when it's for a children's charity - calls us to be our best, and I'm sincerely thankful to everyone for sharing their heartfelt best with me!

2013 Art Charm Swap Button

The full list of dedicated artists who donated charms for this swap and auction. Please take a look at their blogs and see what they made, too! And remember, you can bid on any of the charms you love!
Jen Cameron:
Toltec Jewels:
Vanessa Gilkes:
Caroline Dewison:
Lesley Watt:
Susan Kennedy:
Nancy Dale :
Alicia Marinache:
Cassi Paslick:
Alenka Obid:
Renetha Stanziano:
Shelley Graham Turner:
Monique Urquhart:
Shai Williams:
Lennis Carter:
Cheri Reed:
Moriah Betterly:
Perri Jackson:
Mallory Hoffman:
Ginger Bishop:
Jean Peter:
Linda Florian:
Patricia Pulliam:
Karin Grosset Grange:
ME - Julie Bowen:
Susan Delaney:
Emma Todd:
Carolyn Chenault :
Terri Del Signore:
Cory Tompkins:
Cheryl (Lee) Koopman:
Lori Bowring Michaud:
Andrea Glick:
Jacqueline Carlson:
Michelle McCarthy:
Charlene Bausinger Jacka:
Kristi Bowman:

Phew! Are you tired, or excited? Excited I hope! Which of the charms here is your favorite? Are you going to go bid on a charm?! I hope you do. They make great gifts and the proceeds go to a great cause!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Come Visit Me At Two Holiday Art Shows

I know not everyone reading this is in the Twin Cities, or Minnesota, or even the United States. But, if you are, and if you need to shop for some unique holiday gifts, and want to support local artists, and come say 'Hi!' while you're at it, I'll be at two really excellent art shows this December.

GINKGO coffeehouse Holiday Art Show
721 Snelling Ave North, St. Paul
Corner of Snelling Ave and Minnehaha Ave by Hamline University
Saturday, December 7th
9am - 5pm

The GINKGO coffeehouse is a cornerstone of the local art scene and has been offering fine coffee and supporting local artists, particularly musicians, for over 20 years. The artists in this year's holiday art show come from a wide range of disciplines like fiber arts, glass art, metalwork, jewelry, bead work, painting, and ceramics.

This year's artists include Aaron & Sara Cooper, Angela Davis, Caroline Hilk from Pop Top Art, fiber artist Deni Dantis, Jeanie DeCelle, Julie Bowen, Marni Oberpriller, Matt Gildner, Kristina Fjellman, Kateri Tuttle from Mazaska Jewelry Designs, potter Ryan Archibald, JeanAnn Guetter, Isaac Harker, Susan Andre, Adam Ickler, Kathy Sundberg, Deborah Olander, Sarah Denkinger, and Ayesha Shariff.

Aaron & Sara CooperPopTopArtMatt Gildner
Deni DantisJulie BowenAngela Davis
Cowl and Wrist Warmers by Deni Dantis

Holiday Jewelry Sparkle Mart
Northrup King Building
1500 Jackson St NE, Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, December 14th 10am - 5pm
Sunday, December 15th 12pm - 4pm

Northrup King Building Map

Dominique Bereiter Julie Schmidt Bowen Stephanie Gard Buss
Bob Carter
(BC Stonewear)
Bridget Clark Susan Crow
(East Fourth Street)
Sue Dierks Brittany Foster Gail Grabow
Allie Hafez
Karin Jacobson
(Karin Jacobson Design)
Betty Jaeger
Emily C. Johnson Michael Knott
(Michael Knott Designs)
Camille Knutson
Tova Lund Marisa Martinez Jennifer Merchant
Beth Novak
(Beth Novak Enamels)
Lauren Nicole Pierce Lindsay Pulver
Danny Saathoff Naomi Savolainen
(Mimiomi Jewelry)
Pat Robinson Schmidt
Betty Seifert Deborah Getsug Taillon
(Arsenal of Buttons)
Mel Tudisco
Jane Whitney Rebecca Wicklund

To see a small sampling of the work that will be available at the Mart, check out the artist's links, our Google + page, our Etsy Local page, or stay tuned and I'll post an update with pictures as the JEWELRY Sparkle Mart approaches!

Thanks for stopping by!