Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Pins and Needles

I applied to two spring craft shows this morning, and now I wait until the end of the month to find out if I got in or not.  Not breaking news, I know, but I'm on pins and needles until I get word.  I've never before worried about getting into shows, I'd never been rejected - until last fall.  I'd done this same show for the previous ten years in a row and never not been accepted, so it came as a body blow when I was rejected for last year.  I'm one of the few jewelry vendors there that consistently had a line out of the booth for most of the day on Saturday, the peak time.  I have product that is completely different than anyone else.  My sales figures were huge, considering the price point on my jewelry.  I was floored, how could they not want me?

So I contacted them and asked, why was I rejected?  They said it was because they had too many applications for 'strung jewelry.'  Huh?  I don't do strung jewelry anymore because there are too many people doing it.  I have no idea why they lumped me into that category.  But then I went back and looked at my application photos.  I had taken new photos, showing several pieces in each shot.  Lo and behold, there in two of the photos were strung pieces that I'd thrown in just to show my versatility.  Not really strung per se, as they were hand knotted.  To someone who doesn't really know much about jewelry, they wouldn't know the significance of something being hand knotted rather than just strung on jewelry wire.   

Not to belittle anyone doing strung jewelry, not at all, I know it isn't as easy as most people assume it is.  I've taught many people how to string over the years.  I have boxes and boxes of beads from my earlier years, when all I did was string.  But I don't use stone beads as much these days, so they just sit there, waiting.  So it turns out it was my own fault that I didn't get in.  All winter I have worked on my photography skills, and I hope that it pays off with acceptances into shows. 

In the meantime, I'm in the studio playing with some new techniques and materials.  I've had this package of Tyvek sitting in a drawer for two years at least, and I never knew what to do with it.  I saw some beads on Pinterest the other day and just loved them.  Doing a little digging, I found out they were made with Tyvek.  So I fire up You Tube, watch a few videos, and I'm ready to play.  Oh what fun!  But to make some really nice beads, I need supplies - I need Lumiere paint to give them that sparkle that those beads on Pinterest have.  So I'm off to the craft store this afternoon to see if they carry it.  I can get it online of course, but that means I have to wait.  No!  I don't want to wait!  LOL  But I'll share with you my first attempt at these beads, please don't laugh.  I had just plain acrylic paint, I don't use paint much so I didn't have anything in the studio to really work with.

  The one in the front is just plain Tyvek and paint.  The other beads had fibers wrapped around them and the heat gun melted the fibers along with the Tyvek, which gave them interesting texture.  Not too shabby for my first attempt, eh?  I said don't laugh!  I made a few more yesterday that turned out better, but I didn't bother to take pics of those.  Now to figure out how to use them in my jewelry, once I get the hang of making them, that is. 

There is one art show I have always wanted to do, but they are extremely particular about their jewelry vendors and you have to make everything that goes into your pieces, no stone or crystal beads allowed unless you made the beads yourself - and who does that?  I've been playing with a loom weaving technique, but it's so time consuming that you would have to ask a small fortune for the pieces and the shows I do you'd never be able to sell one.  This particular show caters to the well off and most vendors sell extremely expensive art.  So, I think these beads would really shine in a woven bib necklace, with a price tag of three figures - not something I normally make.  I see some weaving in my future... 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

One New Year's Resolution kept

Like most people, I make resolutions on New Year's - and then within a few weeks it's gone by the wayside.  But this year I actually kept one!  I wanted to organize and clean my studio.  I had boxes of this and that stuck in corners, few things were labeled correctly, and my desk was a complete mess.  Now I have to admit that I am an organization nut, I love to have things sorted out, in their right place and labeled.  Does that make me weird?  Umm, probably!  I wish the rest of my house was as tidy and organized as this room.  Wanna see some pictures?  Of course you do!

This is my main desk area.  I know, a glass desk is not the most ideal work surface, especially since I use a heat gun alot, but it was all I had when I first put together my studio.  I keep the surface clean with a teflon non stick craft sheet, I love those things!  My tools are in the caddies to the right, my Friendly Plastic is in the drawers front and center, and the caddies in the corner hold my patina solutions, alcohol inks, paints, etc.  The little white cabinet is one that my grandpa made when I was a little girl.  This one was my younger sister's cabinet, it's half the size of mine.  My cabinet is in the guest bedroom, acting as a night table.  I remember us keeping our plastic tea party dishes in this cabinet. 

The left side of my desk holds my griddle, one of my most important tools when using Friendly Plastic.  Behind that is my nail polish collection, somewhere north of 100 bottles now.  Yikes!  Above that are my ribbon holders, which apparently no one ever tested in the real world because once it's hung on the wall, it's impossible to add a spool without everything falling out.  I have cussed a good many times over those things!  The drawers hold my tape, resin supplies, wire, and other assorted stuff. Below the desk are shelves with my Cricut machine, embossing machine, baking sheets, heat gun, and other odds and ends that I need to have near at hand. 

The cabinet on the right has all my findings - metal beads, filigree, clasps, jump rings, etc.  The baker's rack holds my scrap booking supplies, oversize ribbon spools, leather scraps, kumihimo, weaving, and silk fusion supplies.  An extra griddle, my electric skillet, and a small over for polymer clay stay out of the way near the closet.  Which is the next project, it's worse than the studio was!  I keep all my craft show supplies in there, it's crammed full.  Ugh!

Last, but not least, are my well organized beading supplies - all done by color.  For each color, there's a shoebox for mixed media (scraps of this and that and found objects) and a shoebox for yarn.  There is a bead box for pearls, one for pendants, another for crystal, and sometimes several boxes for the beads themselves, a mixture of stone and glass.  The little bins hold beads too big to fit in boxes or projects waiting for me to get to them (some have been waiting a looong time). 

I also have a little wooden rolling work bench/cart that my Dad made that he used for working on circuit boards, but it's in my bedroom right now acting as a table for my photography. It's so handy, it has an outlet built into it so I can use it an an extra workspace for a second griddle,a heat gun, an iron or my sewing machine.  When I'm not using it, I just roll it into the corner out of the way.

So there you have it, a quick tour of my 10' x 11' studio space.  I don't have any decorations up on the wall yet but that's coming.  When we move in a couple of years, I will have a studio space twice this size, hopefully, with lots of natural light, better ventilation, enough electric outlets - and no litter box!  Oh and a work surface that I don't have to worry about cracking.  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  This weekend I'll post something fun that I've been playing with - Tyvek beads! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What will 2014 bring?

A happy New Year to everyone!  Where did last year go?  It seemed to crawl at times, and at others to fly by at lightning speed.  I had big plans for last year, but life has a way of changing our plans, doesn't it?  So no plans for this year, I am going to take it a day at a time, savor every moment, and try not to let things get to me.  How many of you sweat the small stuff?  Let stupid things get to you?  *raises hand*  No more. 

The last year has taught me that things can change in an instant.  What you thought was going to always be there can disappear literally in a heart beat.  The holidays were so hard this year, the first without both my parents.  I was floundering, looking to find a middle ground, a way to keep the old traditions alive.  The family always met at Mom and Dad's, opened gifts and then feasted on Mom's great food. Now what?  Does my house become the destination of choice for my kids?  My older daughter ended up attending 5 different celebrations over 3 days this year - with just a quick breakfast at our house. My mother in law said this is her last year to host Christmas dinner.  Maybe this is the chance everyone has to start their own tradition of dinner in their own home.  I miss the Christmases of my childhood, where we spent the day together, not running from one house to another.  But then I didn't have any relatives that lived close by, so that could be the reason for that.  Everything always seemed so much simpler in your childhood, didn't it?

I hope that whatever the traditions are in your house that you had a great holiday with your loved ones.  To start off this new year with a bang, I'm offering a flash sale on my etsy store, Wolf Creek Designs.  Receive 25% off your entire purchase with the coupon code Newyear2014.   Hope the new year brings you much happiness, joy, and good fortune! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas is coming!

So Christmas is just around the corner.  A week from tomorrow?  Already?  Yikes!!  All my decorations are finally in place, I wrapped all the presents today, and thinking about what baking I need to do this weekend.  I really want to be in the studio, however.  I have all these ideas that I want to play with but I told myself that I can't get back to work until I get everything ready for Christmas AND I get everything posted to my etsy store.  I'm one step closer, the earring photos are edited and will be going up tomorrow morning.  Yay!!

 The pink earrings are pretty little lucite flower beads, Swarovski crystals, and metal filigree.  They've been really popular at my craft shows.  They are bright and lightweight.  Check out the etsy store tomorrow afternoon to see all the different colors and designs.  I had alot of fun making these.

This is a super close up detail shot of one of the patina earrings.  This one is copper with a verdigris finish.  The earrings started out bright silver, then I coated them with a metal infused paint and brushed on an antiquing solution.  You get this gorgeous blue green color that makes the earrings look really old.  I love finding inexpensive earrings I can upcycle into something pretty!  The product I use is from Triangle Crafts called Sophisticated Finishes.  I picked up mine from Michael's but the last time I looked, they had them in the clearance section.  I bought all my store had.  You can get it online at several different stores. 

This is a close up of an earring made from Friendly Plastic.  No, it's not metal, it's plastic!  You start out with black Friendly Plastic, warm it up and use a texture stamp to give it a nice design.  The rest is a secret...  Nah, the technique is in one of the bead magazines and maybe on the Friendly Plastic blog as well.  It's pretty simple - I swirl on a mixture of Krylon gold leaf pen and copper leaf pen and, before that dries, paint on some antiquing solution.  I use a solution from Triangle Crafts called Sophisticated Finishes. 

There are other products out there that do the same thing but this is the only manufacturer that I have tried - yet.  If anyone wants to send me product to try out *hint hint* I would be more than happy to do so!  The Sophisticated Finishes metal paints that I mentioned above can be used on Friendly Plastic, but it has an irritating habit of flaking off, so I'm working on a fix for that.  It works pretty well on flat pieces like earrings, but I want to use it on bracelets and it would not be good for the finish to flake off easily.  But I have to get into the studio in order to work on that process, and well, you know, I have other things I have to do first, like getring these earrings posted into my Etsy shop...

There is still time to order for Christmas delivery, but you better order soon!  I was at the post office this morning, sending out an order, and it was not fun.  And it's only going to get worse.  And more expensive.  So check out the earrings tomorrow and let me know if you need any last minute gifts and I'll ship out as soon as possible.  And remember, use promo code FBFRIENDS15 to get 15% off your order!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The joys of living in Teas

I have to admit, I am not a native Texan.  I grew up in southern California, Santa Barbara to be exact, and I miss those mild winter days and warm summer nights.  The weather extremes in Texas make me crazy.  I will never get used to 100+ degree sweltering summer days and bone chilling winter blasts and icy streets.  I would move back to California in a heart beat - if I could afford to live there, which I can't.

In a couple of years we're going to build a house in East Texas, where it still gets hot and cold, but at least I'll have my dream house nestled amid the tall pines to deflect some of the worst weather.  And I get to build my dream studio.  Imagine having all the room you need, plenty of storage, natural light...and electrical outlets where you actually need them.  I cannot wait!  I've been building this house in my mind over the last six months, planning out my studio and making mental lists of everything I'll need.  Too bad I have to wait a couple of years.  In the meantime, though, I'll make good use of my little improvised studio in my current house.  It may be small, but I have alot of stuff crammed in there.  It's pretty well organized, I'm about to re-label all my bins and drawers see if anything needs to be purged.  Sound like fun?  I didn't think so, but I love to organize so it's fun for me.

I added more pendants to the etsy store over the last couple of days and added some narrow cuff bracelets this morning.  Here's a peek...

This is the super bling bracelet.  The centerpiece is actually an earring from a bargain store but you can't tell, it really sparkles.  A couple tiny Swarovski crystals highlight the brass filigree beneath.

This bracelet features copper filigree and a crystal slider from a craft store.  I had to cut the slider rings from the bottom, not easy, but had to in order to get it lay somewhat flat on top of the bracelet.  This one has tiny crystals on it too for a little bling. 

I wasn't able to do very many craft shows this fall so I have alot of inventory to sell right now.  And not just the leftovers, this is my good stuff.  It's priced to sell  - and still time to order for Christmas delivery.  I'm waiting for the sun to come back out, here in icy Texas, so I can finish photographing my jewelry.  I still have the earrings, a few more pendants, and some necklaces to shoot - so keep an eye out for more new pieces coming in the next week or so. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Greetings from frozen Texas!

Brr!!  The roads are icy and the temps down below freezing.  We are not used to this is Dallas!  Lost power for six hours yesterday but we are one of the lucky houses, some won't get their power restored until Monday.  Goodness, I hope those people have a fireplace or someplace to go.  Oh, and I discovered this morning that the hot water heater went out sometime in the last two days - and the guy can't order the part until Monday!  I can go without a shower , but washing my hair?  Guess it will be with cold water.

Thankfully I was able to get some more photos done while I had sunshine earlier this week.  I am posting some new pieces on right now.  I've added some oozed pendants.  I love making those, you never know what's going to happen!  Here's a sneak peek..

This is a close up of a heart pendant.  The photo really doesn't do it justice, the ribbon I used to ooze through is very sparkly, and the resulting pendant looks like it has black glitter in the cracks, but it's really just the ribbon.  I've used Cloud Clay to fill in the back, gave it a nice texture, painted it with nail polish and sealed it. 

I'm working on making oozed bracelets.  It isn't easy because you don't have the shape cutter to hold everything together while you press from the back side.  I've made several so far but am not ready to post the results yet, I'm such a perfectionist.  I'll post the technique here when I get it perfected, how about that?

Here is a photo of the nail polish pendants.  I just love these pendants, the colors are so bright.  This photo doesn't do it justice either.  There is some super sparkly nail polish in there which looks so pretty out in the bright sunlight.

I started out a year ago with just a couple bottles of nail polish I found on clearance at Wal Mart for $1 each.  Want to guess how many I have now?  Let's put it this way - I got a nail polish display rack from a beauty supply store that was going out of business, and the rack holds 90 bottles.  I filled the rack and still have some left over.  I think I need to stop buying nail polish.  I never spend more than $3 a bottle though, so it hasn't emptied the bank account.   

Hope all of you are staying warm and dry.  I'm off to post some more pendants in my etsy shop.  Hope you'll stop by and check them out.  Oh, and if you find something you'd like to have, use the coupon code FBFRIENDS15 and you'll get a 15% discount through the end of January 2014.


Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm back, for real this time...

I know, it's been a long time since I've been here, but I have a good excuse.  Well maybe not a good excuse, but y'all know how life gets in the way.  You end doing the things you have to do, not the things you want to do. 

I spent some serious time in the studio over the summer, but somehow failed to get into very many shows.  I did just one instead of my usual four.  Pretty discouraging, not being accepted into shows, especially the one you'd been doing for the last 10 years in a row.  I took some time to regroup and rethink my selling strategy, and so here I am, back in the social media arena.  Do I know any more than I did six months ago?  Nope.  But I plan on finding out, and working to get my name out there.

I did just post 19 new items to my etsy store,  I will be adding more tomorrow too.  So far I've just photographed my bracelets and rings, and after I get those all posted I'll be taking some time to shoot the rest of it.  Check back in a week or so and I should have more photos.  Here's a sneak peek...

This is Friendly Plastic and alcohol inks with a brass filigree and a crystal slider accent. 

This is Friendly Plastic with a brass ring base and a Swarovski crystal accent.

I'll upload some more tomorrow.  Maybe I'll give you a sneak peek at some my new patina metal pieces.  I love playing with patina!  It's so much fun!  Take care, I'll be back soon.  I swear I will.