Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's a total blank ...

... but first things first. Back on track (hopefully) and Creative Bloggers is going around again. Macaroni and Glue is up in the spotlight and I'm seriously liking the banner! I don't recall seeing this, but it has been a while since I paid Kelly a visit. I'll blame the Texas heat and I'm sure she'll understand! Check out her Facebook fan page too!

Another artist being featured is Susy of Earth Expressions. Susy creates exquisite jewelry. But she also is creative with her blog and I loved her post about with packing and shipping tips. I can imagine a new customer of hers receiving a package and thinking: "What a class act!"

If you head over to Facebook, please take a look at my fan page. I set it up a while ago, didn't quite know what to do with it, but I've been learning. There is no documentation from Facebook about how to fully use the application, but there are some giving souls out there who are sharing what they know. It's a learning curve, but learning is great for keeping the gray matter within the skull nimble and functioning!

And I've been slowly building my Twitter following. Twitter is like the wild, wild west of the internet. All sorts of colorful folks. And all sorts of nuts too. All sorts of lazy people amassing huge followings by using automated applications, but it's only about quantity, not quality. So I'm doing it the old fashioned way. One by one with absolutely NO AUTOMATION, not even an automatic welcoming message.

A friend of mine has developed a new application for social media. It just launched so take a look at TipDrop. I signed up, but haven't authored a tip sheet yet. Jon gives us 255 characters which beats Twitter's 140, but 255 is not always enough. My plan is to blog tips here and link to this blog from the tip sheets. Hopefully Jon has programmed the application for follow through links.

I've created some new handcrafted jewelry pieces for the summer, but every single last piece has sold. Sold without pictures too. I'm a dunce. o_O Beautiful pieces, too, using "Candy Jade" which has become a new favorite of mine, and some shell/pearl/crystal pieces. Ooooh, even writing about them is making my fingers itch to make more!

Oh, and another thing, I've been making a ton of paper craft bookmarks and cards for a friend of mine to take to a special international convention (worship related) to pass out as gifts to all she meets. I've so enjoyed my monthly workshops I take from my local StampinUp representative that I've decided to sign up as a demonstrator myself! Since it will be about handcrafted paper goods, I figured it would be a nice fit with my existing creative business and I will keep it under my '57 Design Studio business umbrella.

Now, I must remember to take pictures!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Creative Bloggers

Oh my, how could I miss last week's blog! Chainmaille by MBOI is written by one of my favorite handcrafting peeps in this world! Not only is Andrew a talented jewelry artist, but he is a most enthusiastic supporter of all handcrafting artisans.

This week's featured artisan is Carol of The Blue Cat. I am a huge fan of all things whimsical and Carol's artwork is whimsical in a really large way. This picture looks a lot like it came from my house.

If you are a Creative Blogger, please visit our Ning forum and join us. The third blog ring group is forming. Each week we focus on one of our incredibly talented bloggers and give them some highly valued links.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hope this is Really Muscovite

I bought this particularly lovely stone at a local bead wholesale shop and it was labeled "muscavite" which actually is a native from Muscovy, an ancient region in Russia (probably where the name "Moscow" comes from). There is a mineral called muscovite (with the letter o, not a) but almost every picture I pulled up showed a pinkish red stone, with somewhat of a schiller effect.

So I have a dilemma as to what to put on the label for this piece, which is now completed. Perhaps it's the metallic flecks on the stone that is the "muscavite" although it looks more like pyrite to me than mica. If that is the case, I would love to know what to call the resident stone since it is the majority of the composition.

Is it a granite? A basalt? A gneiss?? It is beautiful, especially in person. The color is a deep charcoal with a slight hint of green. It looks like biotite, except it doesn't easily break into sheets like typical mica.

I'm stumped. Any rockhounds or petrologists visiting here, please weigh in what you think this may be.

In the mean time I will have to come up with something creative for the tag. At the moment, it only has the $72 price on it. I used 14k gold-fill wire for both the wrapping and the linking of the beads. I used 8mm Swarovski crystals, black diamond color, and the combination is stunning. I'll put up a picture of the completed necklace as soon as I get to photographing it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Will the Real Competition Please Stand Up!

I've been asked, time again by many people, why I share my space and hard-learned information with other jewelry designers. Even my Project Wonderful and Entrecard ad spaces are typically occupied by other jewelry artists.

Most people cannot grasp the idea that jewelry designers, while in a black-and-white world are competitors, don't view each other as such because we are first and foremost artists and artists rarely deal in black-and-white. Even using a black/white color palette, there are so many shades of gray.

Artists feel a connection with other artists, even if we are using the same medium ... even when our art is our business. At every event I attend jewelry artists are drawn to each other and we compare and share notes (and wine, too!). At every on-line community I belong, jewelry artists form their own groups to compare and share information.

It is my pleasure to feature another jewelry artist, Jill of Liv'nGood Jewelry, who is also a fellow chainmailler! The latest post on her blog hits a note in me because we both seem to be having trouble getting caught up on the photography that is necessary to get our art listed on our various on-line selling venues.

I have my eye on a pair of her earrings! I need to sell some of mine so I can buy them. Yes, I said "buy them" because copycats are not playing fair, even if one is copying for their own use.

Jill is also a member of Creative Bloggers and I invite every creative type reading this blog who also blogs to come and join us!

So, there is real competition for jewelry artists, but it is not from other jewelry artists. I'll leave it to the reader to figure it out. I've made a promise to myself not to market me by stomping on others. Besides, there is plenty of room in this wide world for everything under the sun.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creative Bloggers

I belong to this wonderful group of creative bloggers on the Ning network. Each week we focus on one blog, make a comment if so moved, and feature the blog of the week in our blogs. We give each other linky-love and SEO juice.

This week's blog is beautiful! Marie-Michele is a very talented jewelry artist and she writes in her native language of French. Fortunately for the English-only reading world, she translates Mademoiselle M for us.

Her latest post is featuring another blogger and I suggest you follow the link because you'll be in for another treat! I had to leave a comment expressing my thanks ... the comment box was in French, but I think I recalled enough of my high-school study of the language (decades ago) to put the appropriate information in the data boxes.

Finding these beautiful gems on the world wide net is a delightful spending of a few of today's moments.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Renovation Part 1 ... or "Why I Was AWOL"

It's hard to imagine the house as it was at the beginning of the year, but I found the camera's battery charger, spare battery and the USB cord to download photos. I just went through a heap of work-in-progress photos and it brought back the memories.

We lived in this place for 13 years before deciding to put our own personal stamp on the thing. I guess it took that long to determine our sense of "style." I knew it was going to be a lot of work; I've watched friends renovate their homes. Whatever we did, I wanted to do it when we knew it would stick with us for a long, long time.

I had "discovered" the Arts and Crafts style quite a number of years ago and it slowly took root in my mind as what I'd like to have in my home. Even having the style in mind, picking and choosing the color palette and textures and everything else that goes into home decor design was an arduous process. Most of the standard palettes for the Arts and Crafts interiors were very warm in tone. Both hubby and I prefer the cool tones. But with the help of a good friend who has a very keen eye for interior design (she really oughta hang a shingle, she could make a fortune!) the color palette was finally decided.

I'll post pictures of the walls, etc later on. I need to tidy the house a bit before taking some "after" shots. :o)

So here is the first part of what will be a series. The renovation is by no means over. There are still plenty of details to finish up, but all the major, back-breaking, arm-aching work is done ... for now. There is still bedrooms, bathrooms, family room and the dreaded kitchen. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Anyone having too much money is more than welcome to send some this way!

This first photo is the dining room. I believe the color is up on the walls. I chose Olympic Paint's "Camel" for the dining/living room walls. It's not a huge statement of color, but it's much prettier than the basic off-white we lived with for all those years. By the way, Olympic is a nice brand of paint. It's relatively inexpensive, and therefore doesn't have the coverage the more expensive brands may have, but there is absolutely NO ODOR! I believe the VOC registers a big, fat 0 (zero) when tested. If you hate the smell of fresh paint, consider this brand. We bought all our paint at Lowes.


This is still quite early in our process. Eventually, all the furniture you see was moved out into the garage where it was stored for about a month. Our cars were NOT happy.

What I want you to notice is the dining room light. I believe it is original to the house. This house was built in 1979 by a firm that used to be known as Fox and Jacobs (now called Centennial Homes). When we bought the home, I liked the lighting. I still, to this day, could live with it if I had to, but it's definitely not Arts and Crafts.

The dining room light was probably the toughest choice out of all the possible choices we had to make. I looked long and hard for a light that I liked. For whatever reason, I avoided Home Depot's lighting department. Since most of our purchases were made at Lowes, I hardly went into Home Depot. But I made a trip to find something not available at Lowes. While there, I thought: "Why not check out the lighting." That's when I saw this:

It was love at first sight! Of everything that changed in our world, this is my absolute favorite. Four-square in traditional stained glass style of the Arts and Crafts movement. My artisan heart still skips beats when I look at this light ... the details are amazing. And burnished bronze ... I'm seriously into burnished bronze now. I got all new switch and outlet plates in "Venetian Bronze" to coordinate. There is even a choice of the lamps pointing up or down. I choose up so when I sit at the dining table and gaze up to the lighting, I see the beautiful stained glass rather than the screwy looking "green" bulbs.

Click on the photo to get the larger version and see more of the detail. This is really a gorgeous lamp. I didn't expect this sort of find at any of the big box stores that we all see in throughout the United States. I searched endlessly on the internet, but never found anything I truly wanted. Even when looking at things I knew I could never begin to afford, I never saw anything as beautiful as this.

This shot is the entry way and stairs. Again, it's the lighting on which I'd like you to focus. It used to coordinate with the old dining room light, but one of the glass hoods broke and I couldn't find a replacement since the thing was already close to 20 years old at the time. So I took all the hoods off and went with bare naked bulbs, although I used the "frosted" version to give it a fraction of an ounce of style. The biggest problem with that light was the chain. The thing hung low enough that anyone over 6 feet tall had to duck or bob their head out of the way. Our contractor friend told us to be sure to change out that light!

The stairway is draped because the walls above the first landing was getting its coat of paint. "Timeless Taupe" is also by Olypmic Paints. The rustic wood of the stairs, and throughout the rest of the house was changed from a very dark brown to Lowe's Valspar brand of paint in a gorgeous color called "Oyster."

I found this when I found my dining room light. While not an exact match, it's very close (and an exact match isn't necessary anyway!). It's a semi-flush mount and the angle you think you see is really what it is. Our ceilings in this part of the house are at on slope of about 15 degrees. I was concerned that having any sort of flush mount would look weird, but it works. And all our tall friends are happy. And the hubby is happy. Even most of the NBA could enter our house now and not have to duck.

You may get a fair glimpse of the ceiling texture if you click on the photo to get the larger version. I did not save these photos as hi-res, but you may see the suede-effect on your monitor. The beam is the "Oyster" color I mentioned above. A lot of the wood trim in our house is that rough finished pine which drinks paint and tears up brushes. Rollers were out of the question since they don't make rollers for that rough of a texture. I bought every type of roller available. I ended up using cheap brushes, a ton of sheeting and just slapped the paint on thick.

And finally, the newest light. We bought new furniture to go with the new decor (when you see the rest of the "before" pictures in the next installments, you'll agree new furniture was needed) which included a huge "papa bear" chair for the hard-working hubby. But with it's logical and natural placement in the living room, there was no direct lighting for which he could read. I've had my eye on this lovely thing at JC Penney for over a year. When it went on sale at half off, I couldn't resist. I had to break out the credit card to get it ... something I was trying so hard to never use again. Backslides are no fun, but at least this light is pretty enough to cover the guilt with pleasure!

Stay tuned ...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm ba-aaaack!

And it took the "swine flu" to do it!

One of my community's middle school has been closed due to one confirmed case of the new flu outbreak. One. The whole school closed for one. According to all the science stuff available, this is not a particularly deadly strain of flu. The seasonal flu that is making the rounds is supposed to be worse. So why don't schools close every time someone has the flu? Any flu????

Would some one PLEASE! ... tell me the reasoning behind this!

Other news: the house is almost done. I'll post pictures soon. New jewelry has been made. I'll be taking pictures soon. So much I need to do ... soon.

I'm holding my breath that my daughter's school doesn't close. Someone was sent home with a high fever today so I'm probably holding my breath in vain!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A quickie ...

Because everything is still uprooted, and I've been away from my computer and blog and marketing etc ... I missed the start of Creative Bloggers Blog Ring!

Last week, I should have posted about Macaroni and Glue which is a wonderfully fabulous blog written by Kelly Drill. Her blog is well-written and beautifully done so be sure to visit!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth ...

... but it sure feels like it!

We are updating our house. Our living room, dining room and entry way, along with the landing at the turn of the stairs AND the landing at the top of the stairs which is almost a room to itself, are all getting new floors and new paint. The ceilings in the living/dining/entry areas also are having the popcorn texture scraped off!

Ugh. I have been living in a construction zone for almost a month.

I do have pictures, but I don't know where I put my camera. Nor do I know where I put the cord to attach the camera to the computer. Come to think of it, I don't know where ANYTHING is. We even lost a cat for a couple of days.

The numbnuts who flipped this house back in '95 (from what I understand, this house was foreclosed by the VA and was left empty for a while so the neighborhood kids used it as a flop house!) decided to glue down the vinyl floor as if it were being tiled. This means every square inch of the vinyl in our entry way was glued. It took two solid days to remove the floor ... it was only about 50 square feet. I so dread pulling up my kitchen floor. My wrists still hurt and it's been more than a week.

Eventually we will get to the rest of the house ... 4 bedrooms, two baths and a kitchen/family room are that is open to each other. I am hoping that the updating process is like labor for childbirth. It's agony while in process, but after it's over, one is happy and content enough to do it again.

But for now, all I can say is "UGH!"

The jewelry business is basically on hold during the updating, but the economy sorta knocked it on its rear end anyway. I do have a home show next Saturday, however, and looking forward to it!

Anyone in the D/FW area who would like an invite, drop me a line.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guess it's the computer ...

I see the widget just fine on my laptop.

It's my desktop that the widget does not show. I wonder if it's the Verizon security. My FIOS service gives me all the typical internet security at a reduced fee which I use on the desktop, but not the laptop. I opted for the service after the desktop crashed, which wasn't too long ago. So now I need to troubleshoot the incompatibility between the widget and the security software.

I'm going to have a massive headache.

Something broke my Entrecard Widget

And it wasn't me! For some bizarre reason, the widget is not showing even though it is there in the layout. I don't have a clue. Entrecard doesn't have a clue. If someone does have a clue, I would be grateful for a fix!

This is the code:

< script id="ecard_widget" src="http://entrecard.s3.amazonaws.com/widget.js?user_id=21950&type=standard_200" type="text/javascript" >< /script >

Without the space after the < and before the >, which I had to insert to show the code.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tweet, Tweet

Twitter is quite the animal. I recall seeing a prediction a while back that Twitter would prove to be a major component in a fundamental shift in how the internet will be used. I'm not 100% convinced of that, but it definitely is a movement that keeps growing. Not everyone understands it, but they'll still play with it. Those that do understand it do more than play with it.

I'm not going to bother defining Twitter ... if you're reading this blog, you've probably already have it in your head what Twitter is all about. I find some opinions about how to use Twitter to be very interesting. I've read several comments for very web-savvy folks that if someone uses Twitter only for promotion, they would tune out (stop following) that person. They want to see some of the personal behind the person. But I'm not too sure about that ... most of us are living in the moment (even though we are aware of our past and planning our future, we still live in this moment) and most of our moments are rather mundane. No matter how exciting life can be, most moments are still mundane. I couldn't care less if you just washed and dried 3 loads of laundry. Even if you're my mother (Hi Mom!) or a good friend (Hi Jenn!) I couldn't care less. Now if your washer or dryer broke down and you found a great service guy who came to your house in less than two hours and charged you an unbelievably low price for an excellent repair job ... THAT I would care to hear about, IF you can talk about it in 140 characters or less.

So I won't bore my followers with my mundane life stuff. I will tweet, when I remember, about going to a local network meeting. I will tweet when I find something intriguing on the web. I will tweet when I made an amazing discovery (that hasn't happened in a while). But my usual forms of tweets are promotion and they happen automatically because of the beauty of TwitterFeed. You can feed anything that has an RSS feed to your Twitter account. Both my blog and my Etsy shop have RSS feeds. Blogger makes setting up an RSS feed really easy, nearly automatic, just be sure you have your "Site Feed" which you will find in your SETTINGS section turned on to either "Full" or "Short" ... not "None."

After you set up your account with Twitterfeed, you can add any number of feeds to automatically post to Twitter. All you need is the URL of your feed, and each one is different. That was the most confusing part for me, but I fumbled around and found out what they are.

After you click "Create new twitter feed" you'll be given a new page with a form to fill out. The user name and password are where you will enter your Twitter info, and be sure to click the "test twitter authentification" to make sure you've entered the correct data.

If you are a Blogger/Blogspot user, your RSS feed URL is as follows:

http://yourusername.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

You'll need to replace your actual user name before the .blogspot part.

I found my Etsy RSS feed URL by clicking on the RSS widget, as if I were going to subscribe the the feed. The URL displays on the browser, just copy and paste the address in appropriate box in the Twitterfeed set up. You can find any of your RSS feed URLs this way.

Another way to determine the RSS feed URL is to right-click the link and select "Properties" from the right-click menu (this is how it works with Windows, I don't have a clue about Macs!) and find the link address (NOT the image address!) which you can then copy and paste.

Go ahead and hit the "test RSS feed" to make sure it's going to work.

You'll have a few more things that are preferences you'll need to fill out to finish up the feed set-up. Give some thought to the update frequency. If you do a lot of listing in your Etsy shop at any given time, you may want to experiment with the frequency so that you don't send a feed for every single listing which could be considered spam by the Twitter community and your followers. You do not want to lose any of those precious followers! Keep in mind that this feed cannot tell the difference between a new listing and a relist.

Also give some thought as to what you want in the "prefix each tweet with:" box. I simply say "Just listed:" for my Etsy feed and "Blog update:" for my blog. The form only allows up to 20 characters, but each one counts towards the 140 maximum allowed. I use the "Tiny URL" option.

The tiny URL link generated for the Twitter feed is a "no follow" so don't get your hopes up that this will help in search engine optimization. In fact, it appears that all links in Twitter are "no follow." Oh well. Guess we still need to get our coveted links the old-fashioned way ... beg or buy.

Hope this is clear and understandable. Let me know your thoughts.

*************

Now for the LinkyLuv for those taking the time to read and comment:
Getpalmd * Storybeader * Leah * Anna * Meekiyu * FeeFiFoto * CassieMarie * BlackFeatherFarm * Kerri Slade * Lynne * Abigail * Leslie * Angie * Michelle {{hug}} * Laurie B * Casto Creations * Avenue 7 * Shinade * Zen Ventures * Fidget * Swapna * Terrie * Raymond * Lois Lane * Jenn {{{{big hug}}}} * Petula * Lily * Elizabeth * Annette {man, I miss Skwiggazine!} * KML * Rachel (I hope I got the name right!! Memory ain't what it used to be...) * Tammy * Duni * Michelle * iWalk (love the cow graphic! How y'all manage to draw pictures with a keyboard amazes me.) * And last but NEVER least, Leet!

Whew ... this post took forever!! But may all your page ranks rise because y'all helped my bounce rate to fall. I should take a lesson from The Turnip and concentrate on getting the bounce rate down. Which could mean "bye bye" Entrecard. But that's another meditation. My eyes are really tired now.