Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

Do you dream of making a living doing what you love? Does the very thought of writing a business plan make your skin crawl? Are you looking for a fun and accessible way to map out your business success?
I just completely stole those three questions directly from Jennifer Lee's own blog. Jennifer has written a book that looks so intriguing that I want to share it with you. I think I might just rush off to B&N after breakfast to have a look see for myself.
Making a business plan is a daunting task for the best of brains, add in a creative bent and it becomes stupifying in the extreme. I did a business plan about 10 years ago when I was stringing beads and never actually translated any of  my writing into reality. I suppose it's time for another try at getting more professional with my business, and I can see how writing a plan would certainly help narrow my focus and zero in on my goals - but really... WRITE A PLAN? In words? That's just much too much to think about.
But if Jennifer has some great tips that might make it easier or (dare I say it?) fun - I'm willing to give it a shot. What about you? Have you ever written a business plan? How did it work for you?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Absentee Poster

I've been bad again about posting anything of substance here. There's no really good excuse, but I'v been pretty busy what with the new CornerStone blog, writing a step by step article for Jewelry Artist Magazine (they contacted ME first!) and teaching classes on the weekends and every Wednesday night. To say nothing of the time that my 16 pound cat wedged himself under the armoire and then couldn't figure out how to get back out. After 4 hours of whining I put a complaint on FaceBook and a friend happened to read it and come over to rescue Diego. And she brought another friend with her. That armoire is heavy!!

FaceBook has really changed my life. There is so much support, I've made friends with so many helpful jewelers - both metal clay and hard metals, and I reconnected with cousins in a far away state. Love it!

In general, the way that the computer has changed the way we all live our lives has been an amazing shift. We are really living in a global community. I have a rather good relationship with strangers in England, France and Australia. Amazing!

It took me a while to figure out what benefits the world wide web would provide to me as a citizen, passionate encyclopedia reader and an educator (I was a luddite for too long). But now that I see what an impact it can have, I'm excited to announce a new venture!

I'm offering detailed, personal business coaching online or over an AT&T iPhone through Etsy! I'm calling them Mentorials. Mentor + tutorial. I'll be happy to brainstorm with you about (almost) any subject relating to your jewelry or craft business. Whether you'd like to change your style or find your artistic voice, learn about the casting process or start teaching. Or anything else you'd like help with. Once subject per Mentorial. I hope it sounds intriguing to you and that you'll visit my shop to learn more about it. Here's to innovation *clink*.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

RAW #8

Sterling Silver, Brass, Fordite, Pearl. Fabricated, Soldered. Thanks to Tamra Gentry for the beautiful Fordite.

Lessons Learned:
• 22 gauge brass isn't any easier to work with than 18g
• My flirtation with brass and gallery wire is over for a while
• If you melt a couple of the gallery wire prongs - just cut off others in a symmetrical fashion and pretend you meant to alter it in the first place.
• Binding wire helps.
• Pre polishing hardware store brass, even though it came in a plastic bag, will eliminate troublesome polishing after fabrication
• Dressing inexpensive tools is worth the time and bother instead of always having to sand out plier marks after using them.
• I'm really enjoying fabrication.
• Perhaps next time I should wipe the fuzz off my photo background!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RAW #7

Out of time. Previously fired bead. Previously fabricated shank. Metal clay, .925, pearls. Soldered, sewn.

Lessons learned:
• Sometimes it's about just getting the job done.
• Completing commitments is character building.
• Imagination sometimes come through in a pinch.
• Holding on to old, unfinished projects can be useful.
• Using components in a previously unimagined way is gratifying.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Student Mosaic - Hinge Edition

I taught a really great 4 week class in January with 11 motivated and talented students. This pendant was their final project. They learned how to make simple hinges and apply frames to insert a photo. The the photo was sealed with UV resin and a staple hinge pin was bent into place. Each student altered my original design to come up with the most beautiful pieces

Tonight I'm starting an 8 week class at another venue and I'm looking forward to even more creative inspiration. As a teacher I love giving artists the tools and information to realize their vision. But the best part of any exchange is the knowledge that I always seem to receive back. Through the years my students have given of themselves, inspired me and taught me a few tricks that I wouldn't have thought of.

Taking and teaching classes is such a fulfilling experience. I really don't know how my life would have progressed without the wonderful craft movement that's been taking place for the past decade. Here's to the art of Making. *clicks glass* Go out and create something beautiful today!

Monday, February 7, 2011

RAW #6

Copper scrap from a class taken, 30g etched copper from Etsy, polymer clay transfer from a class taught. Pierced, filed, formed, screw riveted, curled a la Lorena Angulo.

Lessons Learned:
• Even when you know you're not making a truly wearable ring - use all the skills you possess to fabricate it. You'll learn  a lot in the process.
• Playing with materials with no expectation of perfection is really fun.
• Silly and fun designs can inspire proper finished items. I have a brooch in mind.
• Experimenting with old and forgotten scrap frees the mind and aids in discovery.

The top of the ring is a sandwich assembly. First a large piece of 30g etched copper with slits around the entire perimeter goes on the screw, the nut is tightened and the rest of the bolt is cut off and riveted. Then another small 30g piece of copper, a piece of white paper, and last the transfer. Next all the slits were curled on with round nose pliers and bent up and around the image. That's what holds the sandwich together.

I will say that it's not the greatest assembly technique. Since it's only one screw - the top can turn - even though the screw was really tight when I made it. Ah well. Such is the creative life.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An aMUSEing interview

I'm excited and honored to be the featured Muse Personality on Tonya Davidson's blog today. Tonya's personality interviews are usually to be found on her fabulous newsletter and I think I'm the first one to migrate over to the blog.
Mommy Under Glass.© 2011

Being interviewed is an interesting experience. My first thought was "Really? You think any one would be interested in me?" And my second was "Well, it's about time!" Ha! Dueling halves of my ego battling to see which emotion would win out. And I'm happy to say it's the latter.

I just bought a great book called Buddha's Brain. It's written by two doctors and discusses the way that the neurological pathways in the brain control our outlook, emotions and ultimately our happiness. We all have caveman brains that were developed to help us save ourselves from danger. Fight & flight and stress hormone producing reactions to negative experiences did us good when we had to remember to take care when facing the unknown. Those impulses still take precedence which is why we tend to go to "half empty" thoughts first, remember negative memories more easily than good ones and find ourselves battling our low self esteem tendencies so often (at least I do did).

The good news is that the book details ways that you can change those pathways to create a happier outlook! I just started reading it, but I'm already more conscious when Negative Nelly rears her prehistoric head. It's never too late to teach a mid aged dog new tricks!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RAW #5

Sterling silver, fine silver, paua shell. Roll printed, soldered. 
Roll print blank made in class taken 3 years ago. Size 7

Lessons Learned:
• Flattening a seam before soldering may make for better/flusher joins. There's a little channel on the outside seam - although it's completely soldered and joined.
• Even when the top and bottom are flared - you still need to make the ring larger to fit a specific size.
• Cutting and filing both ends of that little 1.5mm piece of wire at the same time is the right thing to do. If you wait until after a longer wire is soldered to the bezel cup, then try to hold the cup with pliers as you file the other end - you end up crushing the cup. Ask me how I know.
• Having light bulb moments as you type is exciting. Maybe I could have sunk the cup into thermoplastic to hold it as I filed. Then there would be no crushing. Hmmm...
• Sometimes an idea comes out almost as perfectly as it was in your imagination. 
• Simple is good.