Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Girl Must Shop!

My felt flowers have been blogged on a A Girl Must Shop! This fun shopping site is run by savvy women in nearby Dracut and Dunstable, Massachusetts. I was thrilled to be involved in something local and jumped at the chance to make them a custom flower to use as a prize for one of their readers.

Thanks A Girl Must Shop!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Keys

I got the keys! I had received an email from the building owner (who is not on site) that the keys would be available on Wednesday the 25th at noon. So I went in to my temp studio, dropped off some things and walked down the peeling staircase in the center of the building to the third floor. I checked out Mill A and found the workmen still installing door handles. Not yet, I figured out, and went back upstairs to work. I had gotten a lot done when my friend and neighbor, another Etsy crafter came by to chat. I crossed my fingers and we went back down to check again. This time the door handles were installed and the keys were dangling from them!

I eagerly took possession of A305, had BrickMillStudio snap this pic, locked the door and quickly ran away! It's a bit overwhelming, I've waited so long. The next item on the agenda is wiping down the walls which have been patched and sanded, but not cleaned, and mopping the floor. I also want to scrub the bricks in the windowsill and see if D can pry at least one of the two windows open for me.

I have been carrying easily a dozen paint chips with me for a month and I had narrowed it down to two nearly identical shades of mint (Spirit Whisper has more yellow). Usually with color I am not this indecisive, but I want to get it right. Friday I walked around the room holding the two tiny swatches up against different walls to see which one stood out. I keep coming back to one of them, even though I worry how it will look on a large surface, but I have to go with my instincts, and hey, if it's wrong, I can paint over it! Stay tuned to find out which one I picked :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

PCAGOE July Challenge, Summer Memories

Here is my entry for the July Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy challenge. The theme was summer memories. I collected shells and made molds with polymer clay, then I cast the shells in polymer clay, baked them and sanded the backs flat and drilled a little hole for stringing.

I love shells and collect them on every beach I visit. I remember as a kid on Martha's Vineyard, we would collect large conch shells that had washed up on State Beach. We'd take them home and leave them on the porch railings. We'd use large quahog shells with pretty purple edges for soap dishes. And sea worn half-bricks that washed ashore would get put on top of the old wood stove. On cool evenings we'd take a smooth brick to bed with us to warm our toes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

South End Open Market

I did it! (With lots of help.) On Sunday, July 22nd, I set up a table at the South End Open Market in the SOWA district of downtown Boston. We got beautiful weather, sunny and dry, not too hot. We were greeted by the show's manager, the completely adorable Katy of Muchacha K. I paired with Candace of The Intuitive Garden which worked out very well. She brought her brand new EZ up tent and her very nice husband. After getting over the shock of a last minute announcement that we needed 40 pound weights on each leg of the tent, all went smoothly.

D helped me set up my display, putting all the cards in the spinner rack and even hanging earrings on the earring display. Don't forget he got up at 6 AM on a Sunday and lugged a 50 pound bag of sand around as well, all with a smile and a "What can I do to help?" I am so lucky!

I was very pleased with my display, I thought it was pretty classy for being the first time with these new items. I didn't make a huge number of sales, but I did make some and interacting with people was a lot of fun. I fell right back into craft show mode, my latant skills pushed to the surface and I was explaining polymer clay over eggshells and how to felt with ease. I even set up a demonstration and showed needle felting to fascinated onlookers, including a very bright three year old boy.

I met a few more Etsians, which is always fun. Betsy of Stonehouse Studio was there, paired with Zesty B . Back to back with us were Raven Works and Bear Cat . Dell bought a super cool postcard from Such and Such Productions whose wife, Amy Olson Jewelry was the first person I've heard say "Oh! You're made in lowell!" Which is the delighted sound of one Etsian who recognizes another in real life.

We packed up at 4, tired and content. When we got back to Lowell, D took me out for dinner and a drink on the sidewalk at Cafe Paradiso.

My next show is the last one of the season, October 28th, mom should be accompanying me like the good old days. Lets hope for good weather!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Grub Street Hacks

It is time to reveal the identity of my ever patient husband, heretofore referred to as D.

Dell has a secret life as a fiction writer and the secret is out! He has been taking novel writing workshops at Grub Street with Jenna Blum and as such, was eligible to submit a previously published work for Grub Street's tenth anniversary anthology, Hacks. Which was exciting enough, but he has been invited to read on July 27th, 9:30 PM at the publication party!

I am completely proud and thrilled for him, He works EXTREMELY hard, writes really well, and I wish him all the success in the world!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Soft Opening

On Saturday, July 7th, I participated in my first ever open studios! As you can see, all my stuff is still in boxes on the floor, but I was able to set out the conference table near the doorway and cover it with a nice burnt-orange corduroy and lay out all my goods. I had all the items I made for my Etsy shop plus some I haven't listed yet in addition to some older pieces from when I used to do The Flea. Also the card spinner with mom's cards!

It was a quiet day as a lot of people are on vacation. I got maybe 15 folks through, and we had pleasant conversations. Visitors were interested in process, which I apparently love discussing! But no one asked prices. I had brought my current project which is a box of earring components I have matched up but not assembled, I worked on those all day. I had a CD player and I played Marissa Montje, Patty Griffin, Sarah Harmer and Bebel Gilberto.

I brought the traditional egg salad sandwich for lunch and D came by in the afternoon with a caffeinated diet soda. I tried to remember to eat. The only crisis that occurred was when I realized that the price list I had so carefully created in Excel the night before was missing all the prices! I don't have my Etsy price list memorized and the information was crucial (or it would have been if anyone had asked!) I realized it right as D came in, he saw the panic on my face and sprang into action, going back home, widening the column to allow the numbers to appear, reprinting it and bringing it back. I tell you, I am really glad we live so close to the studio!

So I didn't make any sales, but I had a nice time and gave out my business card. At five o'clock I left everything laid out on my tables, locked up and left. That was truly the biggest thrill, not having to put everything away! Later that evening I cried a little, I missed my supplies like they were away at overnight camp for the first time. But I know I can go play with them anytime I like, and I love how much bigger our apartment is getting!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Temp Studio

I got the key to 4-11 last Saturday afternoon and we spent Sunday hauling boxes of art supplies up the freight elevator. I couldn't have done it without my husband, he was a huge help. Monday I went to my parents' house and picked up some more things, plus set the stage for Wednesday.

On Tuesday I painted. The previous tenant was a splatter painter and he had attempted to even out the walls by painting most of the room peach. The thick texture of the drips is clearly visible beneath the thin skin of paint. And that color! Yuck. He kindly bequeathed to me a 5 gallon bucket of random paint and I covered the walls with it. It turned out to be a not unpleasant shade of taupe and with a few highlights pulled out in bright white, the room is decent looking. I wanted to neaten it up, but since I am only in that particular room for two months, I didn't want to invest too many hours in the fix up.

Wednesday, the 4th of July, I gathered my menfolk; my father, my brother and my husband and we went to get the big conference table my father is so generously letting me use and a bunch more art supplies I have been caching in my old childhood home. My brother brought his son's pick up truck and we convoyed the thirty miles north to Lowell (it's closer than you think!) After having loads of fun playing with the scary metal dolly and the always terrifying freight elevator, it was time to break for lunch.

So now I have a nicely painted room with some folding tables and a pile of art supplies I've collected over the past twenty years sitting in the middle.

Tomorrow I have my first open studios where I will sit behind the conference table and hawk my wares to any passers by. I hope I get a few lookers! The location of the studio is not the best and I think a lot of folks are away for the weekend. I'll post on how it goes!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

What I Sent

So I was approached, along with myriad other talented artists, to submit jewelry items for a book to be published in 2008. I was given the option of either sending the actual items or my own photos. The very kind woman who was soliciting entries picked 14 items from my Etsy shop she liked best. If I sent the items it would be several months before they were returned. So naturally I decided to take my own pictures.

I was fifteen minutes into chasing the sun around the room with my makeshift lightbox when the dread descended. I realized that it was quite possible that I could be eliminated from the project because of lousy photos! But I couldn't spare the originals. What would I do? I decided to copy all the items and send the doubles!

This proved much harder than I anticipated. She had picked many one-of-a-kind items for which I had to make new polymer clay or felt components. I had no idea how hard it would be to copy myself! I custom mix most of my polymer clay and I don't keep records of how I achieve each color. I made most of the elements more than once with a lot of close but no cigar results. I worked daily for two weeks until I had a selection I felt was worthy of a book. I shipped them off and now there's nothing to do but cross fingers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New Wire Wrapped Earrings

I saw these faceted Labradorite beads on Etsy and I had to have them! I love the shape and the flashes of blue.

Usually when I get excited by a material or a jewelry component, I get flustered and though I have the inclination to sit down and "see what the material wants me to make with it", in that mindframe, I am sadly incapable of creating anything attractive. I don't quite understand this phenomenon, it happens a lot with polymer clay. I guess I just work better with a plan, even if I deviate from it along the way. I am not the sort to "wing it" and I suppose my muse knows this :)

I had always planned to wrap these and with several lengths of 26 gauge sterling wire in hand, I wrapped the heck out of them! I achieved that "messy on purpose" look I've been enjoying in others' work. Then I dangled them from sterling chain and created a very elegant pair of earrings, it felt great!

But they aren't finished, I will change out the earwire for something a touch more elegant (also ordered from Etsy, on their way here) and I will oxidize the silver to give it depth and bring out the texture of the wraps.