Monday, November 30, 2009

Pretty pusher

I'm in a bit of funk these days and am trying to push it all away by making pretty things. This time of year is stressful for me, as I am sure it is for many of you. Stressful for different reasons, but stressful nonetheless.

I listed a bunch of lovely things in my shop today. I am particularly fond of the flower brooch above. :)

And I am pretty certain that these earrings are the most perfect earrings for the holiday season. I mean, the snowflake design, the red and green glaze that came out superbly... what more could you want? (A million dollars, yes. A new car, I know. Five days of uninterrupted sleep, uh huh. For now, let's just stick with the earrings. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm a rebel... in my own mind

I have some strict rules for myself when it comes to jewelry design. I keep a list of things/themes that I promise myself NEVER to use when making pieces. The title of my list is Avoid Cliches Like the Plague. Now don't get me wrong, just because something might be on the list doesn't mean that I don't like it. On the contrary, in most cases I like it very, very much... and so do a zillion other people. That's why everyone is using it in their own jewelry and precisely why I avoid using it in mine. Skeleton keys have been on my list from the get-go. Which is a shame, really, considering that I have about 500 of them (I've collected them for years) and love them to pieces. But something happened last week when I was browsing through my favorite antique shop, making myself yet another pile of antique keys. I suddenly had an idea, a way to use the key that would be different and unique and wouldn't make me feel like I was breaking my own self-imposed rules.

The idea was to turn the key into a hinge. I used two copper tube bails from Rings & Things - the same bails I use for my mixed media collage pendants. I patinated them and then put them around the key, drilled two holes at the other end of each one and voilà! A new component to build a bracelet from! The rest of the bracelet is comprised of my own porcelain bow tie connectors, some vintage copper links, and two of Cindy Gimbrone's gorgeous glass and silver beads.


Thankfully it is actually very comfortable (always a concern when making an odd-ball piece) and it looks pretty darn cool from all angles - so if it spins around on the wrist you can be assured of looking most awesome at all times (so very important!).

Just for kicks - I just put the words "skeleton key" into the jewelry search on Etsy. Guess how many pieces came up... over 2,000!!!!! See for yourself! Huh, I guess it is safe to say that skeleton keys are played. I still like them. I will still wear them. But dang, everyone and their uncle is using them in jewelry design. I wonder who the very first person was who used one? Or who made them popular? Any ideas? They should be getting royalties at this point...


In other news, I listed these two new designs in the shop today. I love them both.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's a mixed media pendant party!

Once again time has played tricks on me and somehow I lost a week. I mean, I had it right here, right in front of me, but now it is gone. Once I realized that my week had flown the coop I got my bearings (at the dollar store, real cheap) and had a full day of mixed media pendant making. A lot of glue was sniffed (a Mod Podge shout out to Amy!), a lot of paper was snipped and several pastel pencils were sharpened. In the end I had a nice pile of one-of-a-kind pendants all ready to head to my studio show this week. Yay!

Above and below are my four favorites. I love them. And notice how incredible that turquoise patina is on the copper bails and chains! Dang!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happiness is...

...going to my mailbox to discover two of the most beautiful lampwork beads I have ever seen waiting there for me. Thanks Anne! (That's Anne of GardanneBeads!)

...dark chocolate & peppermint lip butter that I found in the checkout line at the grocery store. I'm going back today to buy the rest of it.

...walking into a wonderfully empty studio to find a bag of bunny-shaped cookies and a note that simply reads "To Nancy." Thanks Ilene, you totally made my day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Good Wife

At my show last weekend I was across from a booth that had beautiful handmade items from around the world. One of those items was a wonderful rabbit softie from Nepal - he was made from felted wool and had a hand knit sweater on. He was most excellent but a bit out of my price range. Ever since then I have been obsessed with finding a pattern so that I can make myself something that will appease my need for a stuffed bunny.

I came across The Good Wife while looking around on Etsy. Stacey Mead is the artist and her patterns have me in a tizzy. I love them! I ordered the rabbits shown above. I cannot wait to get to work on them! (I get very sew-happy this time of year - it's a nesting thing, with the cold weather and all) She has even more goodies on her blog!

How funny is this cat?!

I know there are a lot of owl fanatics out there - this little guy is a MUST have! (And he looks fairly easy to make - even if you have little sewing experience - give it a try!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Toxic brain

For the past few days my house has been filled with toxic fumes due to some work the village of Owego has been doing on its sewer lines. No notice, no warning, no information. I woke up to a strong chemical smell several nights ago that proceeded to get worse. My eyes, throat and nose were burning. I felt nauseous and shaky. The windows and doors had to be wide open with fans running just to make the air somewhat breathable. It's November in NY, mind you, so that means COLD. When I demanded to know just what chemicals I was breathing I was told nothing more than "there are no long-term effects" so don't worry about it. Thanks. My throat was burning so badly that I was certain I could breathe fire (which would have been a fabulous response to that lame-ass answer). This morning the fumes seem to have dissipated a bit. Not entirely, but some. My head still pounds and I feel thoroughly poisoned but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Needless to say, I cannot wait to do my two week fast/detox starting January 1st and flush this evil poison from my body!)

In an effort to distract myself from the idea that I might grow a third arm or sprout horns in the future as a result of this experience I listed these two pretty little numbers in the shop. (and if you check me out on Twitter you will find a little secret special offer that is good until Friday)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day off?

I am home from my show and my whole body feels like taking a vacation. Just my body, not my mind. Shows always seem to fill me with inspiration and I have a lot of new ideas I want to get working on. I also need to replenish the regulars and work on a bunch of special orders but that isn't nearly as fun as doing something new. However, today I will actually take a day off (gasp!). Well, most of the day. I have lovely lunch plans with friends in Ithaca - something I haven't done in what feels like a lifetime. And the weather is ridiculously mild for mid-November so it is bound to be a great day!

My only regret from the weekend is that I forgot to photograph some new necklaces I had made and now they are gone. Dang. I don't know how I overlooked that, but they sold (which is good, of course - I'm not complaining) and now I can't remember what they looked liked. Oh well, I don't know why that bothers me so much. Somehow I miss them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

2009 Holiday Shoppes

Before

After

I took these photos yesterday during set-up. I thought all the empty displays looked kind of cool. I should have switched the photos, as though I sold every piece. I wish. :) Today was the first day of the show... two more days to go. If you are in the Syracuse NY area come on down to the NYS Fairgrounds to the 2009 Holiday Shoppes. I'm in booth #82.

And see? I did get my bracelet done! Yay!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I can't add

Sometimes before I have a big show I get a little anxious over all that I have to do in order to be ready. I put things off until the last minute. I have always been this way. When I was in college I would write 15 page papers at 4 in the morning of the day they were due. Always. No matter how much I wanted to change, I just couldn't. Thankfully I work fairly well under pressure and some of my best work, be it writing or making, has come from these last minute freak-out sessions. It does take its toll, however, and last night I was plagued by bad dreams all night long. I had a dream that I was at a show and my calculator would not work. I was desperately trying to add up a big purchase and the buttons would not work. It kept giving me wrong amounts and half numbers. I couldn't figure out the sales tax. It was maddening. I finally handed the calculator to the customer and asked him to add everything up. And then I hightailed it out of there.

It's kind of a funny dream now that I think about it, but at the moment I wasn't feeling too jolly. It just highlighted all my anxiety. It's not that I don't have a lot of merchandise for this show - I have a lot, probably close to 400 pieces in total. I'm a big believer in having a very full booth with a lot of selection. And of course you need to have a lot in understock so that every spot can be filled when something sells. That being said, I am just anxious overall. Ugh.

Anyhoo, above is a new version of my peacock necklace. I like the simplicity of it and the antique vibe going on. Sadly this is the last of my vintage copper snake chains. And that makes me sad.

I listed some new pieces in the shop. A new owl bracelet in beautiful Autumn colors...

This little sweetie is a new design...

This is a new glaze combination in my favorite (for the moment) combination of blue and brown...

New Crater Discus earrings...

I must fly to the studio now to see if the kiln is cool enough to get my bracelet pieces out. Here's to an evening of assembling bracelets! And a dream-free night...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The perfect family portrait

How great is this family portrait from 1961? Pretty great, I say. I mean, a Dutch bunny and a cat?! Awesome.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pieces for miles

Most of my day will revolve around these endless tiny pieces. I am really low on bracelets and I have a three-day show coming up on Friday so I am working madly. Yesterday I sanded them and today I will glaze. I will have to single fire them since I need them by Wednesday. Wish me luck. :)

I just had to show you these cute, puffy sheep I saw on Saturday when I was driving the back roads to Syracuse. It was a very cold morning and they looked so warm and cozy. I just love the one in the middle who has his head down on the ground. He reminds me of a big, wooly bunny!
(I wish I was skilled with Photoshop - I would put a pair of bunny ears on him, email the photo everywhere and start an internet sensation!)

OK, can you tell I didn't get much sleep last night? Ugh. Time to head to the studio...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lantern love

Yesterday at the Guild show I got to have some fun (read that as not working and totally slacking off) and play around with some carving. No, those gorgeous lanterns above are not what I carved - they were made by the fabulous Lauren Ritchie. She was kind enough to demo her technique both days of the show. She even threw a bunch of small bowls in advance so that others could give the carving a try.

This is Lauren working on a large piece. In front are three examples of her work. The piece on the right was just carved with a gorgeous Mackintosh Rose motif inspired by her recent trip to Scotland.

And here is one of her intricate circle designs in progress.

And this funny little pot is my attempt. OK, so I have a long way to go before I reach Lauren's level of mastery but it's not too bad (stop laughing!). I brought it home with me so that I can finish it up myself. Hmm, how should I glaze this masterpiece? :)

Lauren's work can be found at Gallery fifty-four in Skaneateles, NY.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Artbeads.com coupon!

I came home from my show late last night to discover a wonderful little care package had arrived from Artbeads.com. Thanks Artbeads people! And the exciting part is that they included a discount coupon code that I can share with everyone!
Use this code to get 10% off your next order (there is NO minimum order required AND they have FREE shipping within the US - and super cheap international shipping to boot!!)

SCF10P-ARTBEADS-0424

This coupon expires by the end of the year - 12/31/09 - so be sure to take advantage of it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things I should be doing instead

I have a small show tomorrow and Saturday with the Syracuse Ceramic Guild. I should be tagging my pieces (with their incredibly large, inconvenient and terribly time consuming tags) but instead I am sitting here eating pizza, drinking beer and writing a blog post. This is much more fun than spending hours tagging and writing an inventory sheet. (Note to self: stop doing these guild shows - the tags are going to send you to an early grave).

Well anyhoo, I really just popped in to complain, I guess. Which is not very productive and certainly not very PC. (Has anyone else noticed how it's uncool to complain these days? I mean, I love a good whine now and then. I excel at it, actually. Let's make complaining cool!)

OK, enough beer. I listed this new rabbit necklace in the shop today. I love it quite a bit and hope you do to! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unpredictability

Believe it or not but the two pieces shown above were glazed in the exact same way using the same glazes. OK, so my fellow clay-heads who are familiar with reduction firing will believe it (they are all nodding their heads up and down saying "yep, been there, done that."), but those of you who aren't are probably saying "Really?" Or maybe you could care less (probably more likely). Anyhoo, we fired the gas kiln this week at the studio and I went in bright and early this morning to unload. Aside from pinching a nerve in my neck and getting a leg cramp while lifting very heavy kiln shelves in a tight, contortionist position (how old am I?), it was a good firing with pretty good reduction throughout. The pale green piece up top, however, escaped reduction. It should be as bright and flamboyant as its partner but alas, it's green.

And no matter how many times I tell myself "don't fire earring pieces in the gas kiln" I continue to do it and every time I end up with a group of pieces that don't match. It's all about location in the kiln and if two pieces get separated (as the two above did) they are often receiving different amounts of reduction and therefore won't look the same. Most of the time this unpredictability is exciting but when you need to match two pieces it can be rather problematic.

Thankfully I was lucky in this firing and most of my earring pieces matched, like the pair above. Yay!

The true joy in reduction firing, for me, comes with results like these, above and below. The colors that can happen are so freaking incredible - I can't stop staring at them! I love to glaze. The chemistry involved thrills me probably more than it should. I like chemicals and I like to see what happens when different ones are combined. My goal is to be a glaze painter. :)


This one, above, is going into my keep-it-forever pile.

This last piece is one I made quite a while ago but never glazed until this week. The design was made with a water etching technique. Seeing how this one turned out made me want to play around with this technique some more. I used to experiment a bit more with textures and techniques - sometimes it seems like I get a little stagnate and need to shake things up a bit. We can't have that! What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good for a laugh

My brother just posted this photo on Facebook and it totally cracked me up! This is me (circa 1988, age 16), my brother (yep, he's Pooh) and my mother. I look like a Molly Ringwald wannabe and my mother looks like she made her dress out of a couch. My brother, Jake, never looked better. ;)

Ah, the 80s...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday ramblings and new shop stuff

I've said goodbye to my neck until sometime next spring. I hope it has a nice winter completely encased in fleece and turtlenecks. It's actually not too terribly cold outside right now, but I am freezing anyway. My constant feed of hot mint tea isn't doing much more than making me have to pee every 20 minutes or so. TMI, I know. Sorry. Anyhoo, it's a quiet Sunday and I just finished the new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol. I enjoyed it completely. I am real sucker for secret society/Ancient Mysteries/evil tattooed people/nerdy academics-turned-action-hero type stuff. And this book had it all! My usual reading list tends to be a bit on the non-fiction/information-headache-that-only-appeals-to a-handful-of-strange-people me-being-one-of-them and-perhaps-I-should-try-to-enjoy-myself-a-bit more instead-of-always-thinking-that-I-need-to-learn-something side. I promised myself after reading Ian Kershaw's two volume biography on Hitler that I would lighten up a bit. (Who am I kidding, I'm STILL reading those l-e-n-g-t-h-y books...) So, with that in mind can anyone recommend a nice light and airy good read? Maybe we should all read a book together - like a book club type of thing. That would be kind of fun. :)

In other news - jewelry news - I received my pieces back from Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine. These are the pieces that are featured in the current issue (found in all major book and craft stores...plug, plug, plug). I'll be listing the necklace and the bracelet in the shop today. Feel free to pay them a visit and give them a pat on the head. :)


I've been making more bracelets this past week and here are two of them. First up is an Acanthus bracelet. I really enjoy making these one-of-a-kind pieces. I tend to come up with my most creative ideas when I'm sitting there staring at a piece wondering what in the world I can do to make it interesting.

The little touches I find interesting (and even inspiring for future pieces) are things like this detail above. I took three pieces of hammered chain and joined them with a wire and rhodonite beads. It's nothing ground-breaking, no reinvention of the wheel... but I like it just so darn much I can hardly stand it!

Here is a new owl bracelet. Anything owl has been a good seller at shows this year so I am trying to stock up for the holidays.

My favorite part of this piece is the brass chain cluster with glass beads. This is my favorite chain at the moment so expect to see it all over the place. Isn't it funny how a chain can make you happy? (I'm a cheap date)

I'm off to plop these pretties in the shop. Enjoy the rest of this Sunday! :)