Monday, February 7, 2011

Blog Carnival: Other Artistic Endeavors

February Topic: Non-Metal Creativity
Tell us about other kinds of art and craft you do. What other media do you work and play with? How often do you get to create? Does it relate to or inspire your metalworking?

I don't have a lot of time to do arts and craft outside of silver-smithing, but I do enjoy being creative. I like knitting, sewing, water colors, papier-mâché, and paper crafts. I have done some counted cross stitch with beads, quilting, and embroidery. These are what I would consider hobbies, and I wish I had more time for them. Occasionally, one of these activities will find its way into my jewelry making.

Here are some knitted gauntlets I made - I love them and wear them when it's chilly:
Knitting has made its way into jewelry. Several of my RADs were knit last year, and then there's this bracelet:
Here's an example of counted cross stitch done in seed beads:
close up:

Embroidery made its way into jewelry in this brooch and some others that have not been photographed:
Quilt Squares done in the style of Baltimore Quilting. This is a project that has been ongoing for a number of years. I have hopes of one day finishing and having a completed quilt, but for now its just for fun.

At the moment I have very little time to play with craft and hobbies. I am volunteering at my kids' school, facilitating an in class lesson once a month. The program is "Art Masters". There are a variety of techniques and materials used for the projects. In January, we worked in pastels on paper using the work of John James Audubon for inspiration. I love to see what the students come up with. Their talent and creativity are an inspiration for me.

Check out what other EtsyMetal members are blogging about their artistic endeavors outside metal:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog Carnival: Business Success Secrets

What does it mean to you to be "successful" in business as an artist? How do you walk the line between creativity and profitability? What is the best thing you've done for your business?

At this point in the evolution of my business, "success" is something that falls between creativity and profitability. I chose this business because I can be creative with the hope of being profitable. I spent a lot of time working in a non-creative atmosphere for a paycheck. When I left that career, I did so because I wanted to stay at home and focus on my family. I still want to do that, but can't do only that. I need to be able to both take care of my family and contribute to our finances. Success means not having to go back.

Creativity leads to profitability. When people shop of the kind of product that I make, they aren't presented with loads of exactly the same thing. If I can't pull them in with something creative, they are lost to me. In that way, there's no "line" between the two. Instead one feeds the other. Most of what I find fun and exciting, they find interesting. Sometimes, they don't. There are those times when I am excited about something and I make it, and it doesn't sell. Hopefully, I haven't made it into a piece of production work before testing the market. This creative business is something that feeds on response; response from peers or clients. When that overlaps it's really nice, so if I don't get a response, I usually lose interest as well. I once read that retailers should have 50% of their items be completely new each year. I'm not sure I'm that creative yet, but I try to keep it fresh.

Most of the time, I follow my business where it leads me. I browse sites and articles that offer business advise, but I don't worship at them. If I find an idea that could work for me, I might follow that lead, but I can't let that take up all my time. I suppose the best thing I've done to help my business grow is to be brave. I am nervous to try new things, but I don't let fear stop me. I have a long to do list, so I don't plan on running out of ideas for business or for creativity anytime soon.

Blog Carnival
Here are the EtsyMetal team members participating in this carnival:
Gaby / India y a la Luna:

Monday, October 11, 2010


Here's an update to my earlier "Food for Thought" post. The picture above is shot of the risotto I talked about - almost finished. It has butternut squash instead of mushrooms. It was yummy. The chicken I've been using in this recipe is from the frozen section of Trader Joes - I think it's just called 'roasted chicken'. You defrost it in the microwave, cut it up into small pieces and add it with the last cup of broth to heat it up. The squash is a great addition to anything. I take a butternut squash, split it long wise, spread olive oil on the cut parts (facing up), salt and pepper, and back for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. easy. Then I let it cool in the fridge, and later peel it and cut it into bite size pieces. I just keep it in a tupperware until I need it. I added half of a single squash to this risotto. The rest I actually ate cold as a side to a sandwich for lunch with some more salt and pepper on it. Yum!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blog Carnival: EtsyMetal & Me!

This October marks the 4 year anniversary of the street Team EtsyMetal. Our blog carnival this month asks about the group:
When/Why did you join?
I am proud to be a founding member of our team. There was a forum post in the EtsyForums asking for interest in a metal group and I was eager to join. I'd been selling on Etsy for a few months and teams were brand new, so I was excited to exchange ideas with other metal jewelry makers. In those days, there weren't established tags for jewelry items, so it was difficult to find a way to set our items apart from the many other jewelry making techniques, and teaming up was a way to figure out how to do that. There was a period of contact through group convo, and then a private forum and then a better one. Our contact with one another is almost exclusively online so it's nice to have a well organized place to ask questions, make comments, ask for advice, complain and have some fun
Is it what you expected?
It's been much more than I expected. I have grown to have some really nice friendships inside the group. Before I had any online presence, I thought only crazy people had relationships online, but much has changed! There have been some bumps along the road, but it is going great now. I have learned a lot and my work has grown thanks to the influence of my EM friends.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the team?
This team is particularly great because we all work in the same medium. I belong to some local groups, but there isn't the same feeling among the members. I have access to this team 24/7. I can always count on replies to a question within a very short period of time. Since leaving school and having kids, I am not surrounded by people who want to discuss jewelry for very long. My friends here are interested and are my best customers, but they can't tell me what I'm doing wrong when I'm stuck with a good design idea and can't figure out the right way to execute it. I love the monthly challenges - some of my best work has emerged from them. The charm swaps have been great! I learned how to blog and be a craft faire vendor from my teammates. They've helped me to aim higher in my business goals. I hope I've contributed some of the same to my fellow members. We are professional as well as a load of fun!

Check out what other members say:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Charm Swap VI!

The charms for the EtsyMetal team's 6th charms swap (CS6) are finished. I waited until the last minute as usual. So here is the process for making 22 charms. A small production line. It started with a butterfly sketch I swiped from my good friend and artist, Michelle Byran. Butterflies are everywhere in jewelry, but I was attracted to the great feeling of flight and movement in the tiny sketch on a post it note. I made a prototype to see if it would work in metal. Michelle will be getting a charm. Maybe she'll give me some more sketches :)

I shrunk the image down and traced it. Then adhered the tracings to sheet copper.
Cut out all the little butterfly shapes.
Cut sterling silver half bead wire for the bodies and balled up the ends of silver wire for the antennas. Then the pieces were soldered together and I put a bend in the butterfly bodies to give them more dimension.
All that was left to do was add a patina, tumble, and seal with a little bit of wax.
All done! I am the partner of the curator, Inbar Baraket for this charm swap and have been receiving all the charms over the past couple of weeks. There are still several to come in, but it promises to be a fantastic bracelet. Everyone has done lovely work.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blog Carnival: Food For Thought

The topic for the etsymetal blog carnival for August is Food: What do you eat? What won't you eat? Do you suggest any interesting pairings? What is your favorite studio snack? Optional: Include a favorite recipe.

I don't have any food restrictions. I am not a vegan, vegetarian, locovore, non-dairy, non-carb, low-sodium, or anything. However, if I am given a choice, I will chose organic, and I love it if its locally grown. I only buy hormone free foods at the market, but I confess that I have no idea what's in my In and Out hamburger or where it comes from. I am not picky, but there are a few things I dislike, like raw peppers, eggplant, and asparagus - yuck! And there are some things I avoid like ice cream - I wish I could eat it, but I can't - it is no longer my friend. I love milk chocolate and guacamole but not together. I do think that most things are better with cheese.

My work bench and computer space are located in my home studio, which is in my kitchen, so I always have access to snacks while I'm working. I try to keep fresh fruit on hand for snacking. Todays choice is cantaloupe. I also always have a pot of coffee going so I can have it throughout the day - I like it hot or iced and I also often splurge on fancy latte drinks from coffee stores when I am out and about. I usually have a coffee cup and a cup of water within arms reach of my workspace, but I don't snack while working because salty, greasy, and sticky fingers don't work well with what I am doing.

My husband, Patrick is the breakfast chef of the household. Weekends and holidays we have "real" breakfast, but the rest of the time, it's toast, cereal or frozen waffles. I like to cook meals, but don't usually have time for anything elaborate, so I make a lot of things that are fresh, but half-done from the store - like tortellini from the fresh pasta aisle with broccoli pesto (over-steamed broccoli with brown butter). Occasionally I feel like something that will take some time to make and is super yummy. I made this recipe up and its great on a cold day:

Risotto with Everything:
1 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup minced shallots or small onion
1 cup white wine
1 carton of chicken or vegetable broth
1 package of crimini mushrooms
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup of frozen peas
1/2 - 1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
leftover cooked chicken, or vegetables

Slice mushrooms and saute in a little butter or oil with salt and pepper - set aside. Over medium heat, add 1 T. butter and olive oil to cover the bottom of a heavy sauce pan. Add shallots to pan and cook until translucent. Add arborio rice and toast, trying not to burn the shallots - You may want to lower the heat a little. Add white wine and stir. When the wine has been absorbed into the rice, begin adding broth, one cup at a time, stir, and wait until the broth is absorbed until adding another cup. You might not use the entire carton of broth taste it to check. With the last cup of broth, add the frozen peas. Add the reserved mushrooms and cooked chicken or other cooked vegetables available. This is where the "everything" portion comes in. While the rice is cooking, I rummage through the fridge and pantry looking for leftovers. Last, add the grated cheese. Let it cool for a couple of minutes or you will burn yourself. Dig in!

I wish I had a photo of the Risotto to show you - I may add one later.
*UPDATE* here's the promised photo: :)

Click to see what others are blogging on this topic:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Studio Mascot

This is Ozzy.  He's a betta fish that my youngest son brought home from a birthday party last year.  He is named Ozzy for Mr. Osbourne by the small boy who loves loud music.  In our family we have a little bit of history forgetting to feed animals who don't bark or meow for their food, so I have him on the counter in front of my bench.  If I look up, I see him and remember to drop the small pellets of food into his vase, which he eats audibly.  Yes, he lives in a vase because when you get a fish for a birthday party favor, you don't get a fish bowl, and I couldn't find anything better to put him in. He never complains.  In fact, Ozzy is quite animated.  If you look at him, he reacts by swishing around - it kind of looks like he's talking.  Over the past few months I have begun to show him pieces I'm working on and asking for an opinion.  Ozzy is always positive.  I've grown fond of the little fish that I groaned over when he first came in the door.  Our dog makes a mess and doesn't care for anything I'm working on or doing unless it has to do with tennis balls or food.  The cats are mad at me because of the dog and they only come by the house to see what's for dinner and beg for some cat nip.  Ozzy doesn't roam or make too big a mess, so I'm pleased to give him the title, Mascot.  He's hard to photograph, though.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

For other thoughts on mascots, please see: