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Functional Vintage Find=Art

About a week ago the kids and I came across a local used bookstore going out of business and the large sign advertising every book as $1. As lovers of books, we couldn't NOT stop. We browsed. We found a few treasures. We also found a lot of...non-treasures. We also found the jackpot: Vintage Oliver No 5 typewriter All three of us just stared in awe. I am not sure why. I mean, I kind of know why I did. But my 9 and 13 year old children....? Anyway, the typewriter had a price tag: $85. I know absolutely nothing about typewriters. Nothing. Except, they make letters on paper. With letter hammer thingys and ink. Vintage Oliver No 5 typewriter Thank goodness for "smart" phones and portable internet (seriously, how did we ever survive before the invention of smart phones?) Anyway, google to the rescue. I found the same model on ebay for over $300 and another for $200, which meant at $85, I probably wasn't getting ripped off. But I still wanted to think about it. Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter When we went to check out, I asked about it and the cashier said yes the price is firm, yes lots of people have inquired, and that the store closes forever at 7pm today. I really wanted it,  but had no idea what I was going to DO with it once I got it home... Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter We were buying a few books and I decided to see if I had enough cash for the books AND the typewriter. I did. Looking for any excuse possible to take it home with me, I realized having enough cash was probably the sign I needed to buy it. Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter It just so happens I had the perfect spot for it; a niche, built into a wall in a hallway of our house, sitting empty, waiting for the perfect art piece. Now I need additional artwork to hang on the wall above the typewriter. Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter When we got it home (it has the original box which is very cool), my 13 year old son started trying to find out more information about it. He discovered that the latest possible year it could have been made was something like 1914. Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter I'm pretty sure if we replaced the ribbon, it would work because all the keys strike, and all the parts seem to work. It just needs a ribbon. Do you think people will collect computers we use today 100 years from now? Do you think they could actually get them to work? Vintage Oliver No 5 Typewriter Perhaps that is the reason the kids were both so fascinated by the typewriter. A machine that could still function the way it's supposed to nearly 100 years after it was made while the gadgets we use today are meant to be traded in for new models every couple years. I don't care whether I overpaid or got a good deal for the typewriter because this previously functional machine is a beautiful piece of art I am happy to have in my home.

"Handmade Jewelry. Ridiculously Cheap"

Rocker Chic's Key to My Heart Necklace

No. I'm not selling handmade, artisan created, quality jewelry for cheap. Rather, the title was taken from an ad that popped up on my personal facebook page. While I rarely notice those ads, this one caught my eye and then really ticked me off. Who placed the ad? It's for a Groupon style site called Heartsy. Dear jewelry artist friends reading my blog, selling artisan created jewelry ridiculously cheap...the idea just leaves me speechless. In fact, I am having a difficult time putting a full sentence together because it ticks me off so much. Why is selling your handmade jewelry via a site like heartsy a bad idea? Let me count the ways... 1: You cannot compete with Walmart. You make your jewelry one piece at a time with your own two hands. Walmart's business model is the exact opposite of what handmade is all about. 2: You shouldn't compete with Walmart. Customers who buy cheap made in China junk jewelry at Walmart are not the customers who will appreciate quality artist created jewelry or the price tag that SHOULD go along with it. All those sales you made with the 50% off deal will not result in a customer base for you. Rarely will that super awesome artist created jewelry they got from you for ridiculously cheap actually convert them into a loyal customer willing to pay full price down the road. 3: Time and time again, business leaders stress that customers only looking for a deal are the most difficult to deal with and they fall under the 80/20 rule: Customers making up 20% of your business will consume 80% of your time. Time is our most precious commodity. It can never be earned back. I don't want pain in the butt customers taking up a significant portion of my time. I am very fortunate to not have experienced this first hand as I don't sell my jewelry or beads for less than they're worth. I might offer a small discount to a really good repeat customer, or throw a freebie or two into a shipment, but never do I undersell my product. 4: Pricing determines what type of customers you attract. The people who want to buy quality are going to expect higher prices because higher price=higher quality in the minds of most consumers. If you price your work too low, they are going to think it isn't worth spending the money on. Example: a glass artist friend of mine created a piece that he didn't really want to sell, but wanted it in the gallery with some of his other work. He placed what he considered a ridiculously high price on the piece and it sold the next day. Another example: one of my previous lampworking instructors told us a story about a bracelet she had made with her beads that she thought was horrendously ugly. She hadn't been getting much sleep and in her slap happy state, thought it would be hilarious to put a ridiculous price on the ugly bracelet that no one would ever buy anyway. It was the first thing that sold at her show. With this, you do have the responsibility to make sure you are only selling high quality, well constructed products. It only takes a couple bad sales and really unhappy customers to tarnish your reputation through facebook, twitter, forums, etc. 5: By selling your work for less that what it's worth, you are being disrespectful to yourself, your talent, your work, and your time. And really? This reason is the most tragic part of all. Selling your work for ridiculously cheap cheapens your view of yourself. What do you think of the idea of selling artisan created jewelry for "ridiculously cheap" in an effort to increase sales and gain customers? Leave a comment to continue the conversation.

Don't be a Weiner: Using Social Media Consciously

[caption id="attachment_684" align="aligncenter" width="548" caption="Social Media Graphic from daddydesign.com"]Social Media Graphic from daddydesign.com[/caption]   Heard of Anthony Weiner? He's a married adult male who decided to contact women who were not his wife via various social media sites. Oh, and he's also a United States Congressman, which is the only reason we have to endure hours of media attention given to one man and his need to send hilarious photos of himself to other women (sorry folks, not linking to those. You'll have to find them yourselves). While I have my opinions about Rep. Weiner and his personal behavior, the #2 Golden Rule of MY social media behavior is to never discuss politics. Why do I bring it up? So I can discuss Golden Rule #1: being fully conscious while using social media   According to Dictionary.com, one definition of conscious is: 2. fully aware of or sensitive to something I often refer to this as self-censoring even though as a former high school newspaper reporter/editor and wannabe future journalist, I despise the word censor. Attending a Christian high school where the principal reads your publication and censors anything potentially unflattering prior to going to print kind of makes a person hate censorship. However, combined with the word self, it means something completely different. I am CHOOSING to censor my words, my photographs, stories I share, etc. How does one self-censor? #1: The gut check. What is your gut telling you? If it feels wrong, it probably is. #2: If (fill in the blank) saw this, it would be (fill in the blank with any of the following words or use your own): hurtful, embarrassing, career destroying, future career destroying, ruin relationships, cause others to lose trust in me, etc. The goal of using social media is to BUILD Relationships, not to break them down.  I personally never write anything that I would be uncomfortable with my husband, parents, or children reading. According to some statistics, facebook is mentioned in about 20% of divorce cases. Why? Because people see their spouses carrying on in what they define as an inappropriate manner. Don't post your hoochie mama photos where employers or coworkers will see them. Don't tweet about your coworker's ugly nose because even if you do not hold a public office like Congressman Weiner, these things have a way of biting you in the butt. Without getting specific (censoring myself here), a couple people my husband worked with were fired immediately for posting what their employer deemed as inappropriate. While their lives aren't lived in the public eye, I am sure getting fired for facebook posts was not any less painful than what the Congressman is going through right now. However, each person's threshold for what constitutes appropriate social media material is different. That's Ok as long as you are ready for and can handle the consequences of what you write or share. A couple of my favorite blogs to read are definitely R-rated in language and subject. They are so funny I am generally in tears and getting strange looks from the family. While I would love to write a blog like that, it would have to be anonymously so I didn't cause embarrassment for my family.#3: How would I feel if someone else wrote this about me? This one is pretty self explanatory. #4: How would I feel if my loved one wrote/shared this? Again, self explanatory and one Rep. Weiner did NOT take into consideration, or if he did, he didn't give a crap. #5: Don't be boring: In the quest to not "overshare", don't let the guidelines above paralyze you into being so boring that it sends your online community running for the nearest bridge to jump from. Don't use facebook or twitter as a food diary listing every single thing you pop into your mouth (unless, of course, you are really into nutrition and that is your focus), or telling us every errand you ran today, or or or. While social media is a wonderful building tool, it's a tool that if used inappropriately is the equivalent of a chainsaw. I hate to sound like "soap box preachy-girl", but if you use social media consciously, within your personal threshold of sharing, you will be more successful at building rather than tearing down. Do you have any "rules" you follow while using social media? Please share them in the comments below.  

The Secret Project

"Tall oaks from little acorns grow"

Above is the quote my son's school uses. Oak trees and acorns are featured prominently and subtly throughout the school, as well as including oak in the name of the school.   About two weeks ago, the head of the middle school emailed with a link to an electroformed acorn and asked what I knew about it and whether I thought he could do this technique to acorns from the school property as a graduation gift for the 8th graders.

Long story short, I had all the equipment and supplies and there wasn't time to teach him to do it and get them finished in time for the 8th grade graduation. So I did it myself:

Electroformed Acorns

It's been several years since I've electroformed anything and I've only electroformed beads. Beads are WAY heavier than acorns plus they have a hole built in. I had a bit of trial and error, but got them done in the nick of time. There were two issues to overcome. Attaching a jump ring and only having 4 days to electroform 10 acorns. No pressure... My first attempt at attaching a jump ring was to use stained glass copper foil to tape a jump ring to the acorn. However, stained glass copper foil glue was not sticky enough to stay on the acorn. I figured once a layer of copper was on top of it, it would be fine. Nope. Not fine at ALL. The jump ring ripped right off by barely touching it. The next attempt was using the tool crafters can't  live without...a hot glue gun. I just put a blob on the acorn and stuck the ring into the blob of glue. However, the rings would just pop out of the blob. Sigh Third try was to do the blob of glue, stick the ring in, then QUICKLY add a tiny dot onto the ring and moosh it into the other blog so the ring base was completely encased in hot glue blobby goodness. [caption id="attachment_650" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Before the acorns can be put into the electroforming solution, they must be painted with a special paint"]copper electroform paint drying[/caption] The second and biggest problem to overcome was time. It takes 4+ hours for each item to be electroformed well. And you have to check on it periodically and move it around so the wire doesn't stick to the coating. I had FOUR days to experiment and electroform. After I electroformed the first acorn successfully, I started searching for how to do more than one at a time without getting more rectifiers or leads. Luckily I came across a post by Julie Nordine explaining her expanded electroforming system. While I didn't need more than one bath, it was exceptionally helpful to know I can add as many acorns to the bath that will fit (3 in my set-up) and just multiply the current used for one acorn x3.

Three acorns being electroformed at the same time

An unexpected problem that came up was that the acorns wanted to float up. No matter how I shaped the copper wire, how much wire was weighing it down, the acorns acted like fishing bobbers. That's why there are clothespins holding the wires in place. When electroforming glass, this isn't a problem due to the weight of the glass. [caption id="attachment_652" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Acorns in electroform solution"]Acorns in electroform solution[/caption] Once the acorns are electroformed, they are super shiny bright copper. Too bright. I toned it down with liver  of sulpher patina and used pumice powder to show the highlights. [caption id="attachment_653" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Quick and dirty photo of acorns right after they were finished electroforming and before the patina"]electroformed acorns[/caption] To create the tags, all I did was use 26 ga. copper sheet, disc cutter, letter stamps, hole punch, and liver of sulpher treatment for those too. It was a small miracle to get all that completed a full 24 hours before I had to give them to the head of the middle school. That's probably the first time in my personal history to finish earlier than I absolutely had to. Whew! Since I had the electroforming all set up, I decided to electroform some fuglies (definition: f'ing ugly beads...) These turned out very good (although the photo is really BAD) and are much more attractive now that they are covered in copper:

Electroformed fugly beads

These didn't fare as well. Mostly because I forgot some basic electroforming physics. Glad I only practiced on beads that would have been thrown out anyway:

Electroformed fugly beads

On a completely different topic, I spent all day Memorial Day re-organizing and cleaning my studio. It still isn't finished. I came across this paper crumpled into one of my "have beads, will travel" bags: [caption id="attachment_654" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="jewelry design drawing by my 9 year old daughter"]Jewelry Design Idea[/caption] My daughter likes to periodically come up with bead or jewelry designs for me to try. I still have a bead drawing she did for me when she was about 3. She did the drawing I'm showing here  a couple months ago and my absolute favorite part is the "mood wearing" box with the giant toothy grin. By the way, this design is copyrighted by her. LOL!

Photo of the Week: the Weather bites edition

It's been a rough week for weather. My heart goes out to those in Joplin and other areas hit so devastatingly with these storms. We've had lots of discussions this week with the kids about what it would be like to go through that and to lose everything.

Luckily we haven't had tornadoes this go round (just tornado warnings...) but the rain seems to be neverending. It has stormed every. single. day.

Wednesday was the worst this week. We got some ridiculous amount of rain. However, during a (very short!) break, we were treated to this sight:

Rainbow after and before the storm

It was a nice little breather from the storms and a reminder to search out beauty even among the ugliness.

Playing with Color (or a fun way to spend a Saturday morning)

My absolute favorite new online toy is the Multicolr Search Lab. If you love color, you will love it too. Using creative commons photos on Flickr, the creators of this wonderful program used some fancy programming of some kind so you can search by color. You can select up to 10 colors. Here are some screen shots to demonstrate what this thing does. (trust me when I say you want to play with it yourself!) Blank slate screen:

Multicolr Search blank screen

What the grid looks like when a dark purple is selected:

Purple

Grid with dark purple and line green:

Purple and Green

Smart alec error when you select more than 10 colors ;o)

Playing with Color

  Yes, this is fun. Yes, it's pretty. But it is also a non threatening practical way to play with color, try new combinations, or just click and be inspired by what you see.

Luckily a Picture is Worth 1000 Words

because even though I have lots of blog post topics in my head, and even in draft mode hidden here on the blog, my words are not flowing at ALL.  Everything I write sounds like blah blah blah blahblahblah (think Charlie Brown's teacher...) So, you get thousands of words through photos (and a few words from photo captions).
Electroforming Set-up
I dug my electroforming supplies out from the back of the cabinet and dusted them off for a top secret project I will reveal this weekend because you never know who might be reading.
  [caption id="attachment_600" align="aligncenter" width="442" caption="My little performer. This was how I spent 14 hours of my mother's day. Her dancing has improved so dramatically this year, they considered putting her on the master's competition team for next year which is made up mostly of 16-18 year olds. She's 9."]Clowns Dance Production Mother's Day Competition[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_601" align="aligncenter" width="442" caption="I wouldn't let hubs treat the dandelions this year because all the honey bees are starving to death (although he did ultimately treat the lawn cuz he couldn't take it). Add rain and busy schedules, and this is what our yard looked like a couple weeks ago. Notice the neighbor's perfect lawn in the background? And the cardinal (that I didn't see when I snapped the pic) enjoying the perfect lawn? Seriously? That neighbor is outside almost every single day, shirtless, mowing his lawn. I bet he HATES living next to us. Bwahaha!"]Dandelions and Cardinal in the grass[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_602" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="We love this tree, but it's barely hanging on. Only about 1/3 of the branches flower and get leaves. But WOW...look at those flowers "]Dogwood Tree Blossoms[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_603" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="Celebrated our son's 13th birthday this month. I made this giant ice cream cake and frosted it with a cool whip cream cheese frosting. It was delicious and there was only a sliver left at the end of the party. Bummer"]Ice Cream Cake[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_604" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="My nephews came over to play for a couple hours. Within minutes the noise canceling headphones made the youngest into a storm trooper and the bubble wands became light sabers. I think our dog (Nim) was the Wookie. "]Backyard Star Wars[/caption]

What do you get when you combine Middle School Students, Metal, Acid, and Fire?

You get lots of really cool pieces of metal for making into jewelry and have fun in the process:

Middle School student firing metal with mini butane torch Middle School student firing metal with mini butane torch Middle School student firing metal with mini butane torch   For the last 2 Fridays, I have been teaching metal etching and firing. This week we will be creating jewelry with the metal. Because of how the class is set up, I may not have the same students every single week. I don't want anyone to not be able to play along because they missed one or both of the weeks. So I have been creating extras of everything in addition to the samples I create in class. Here are a few of the samples I've made that haven't been claimed by students yet: Etched and fired metal I made this one because I am anticipating our trip to Ireland/London/possibly Paris this summer: Etched and fired metal This one is my favorite that I've made so far. I was secretly hoping none of the students would use it: Etched and fired metal Etched and fired metal   I etched this particular piece of metal and one of the students who missed the first class got to use the torch on it and It turned out so awesome! Etched and fired metal   I am so proud of the work these kids are doing. They are seriously rocking it out. I am hoping we will have enough time to get projects completed in the final hour long class we have together. Eek!

The Art of Action and an Interview with Tara Gentile

 Science of Making Big Stuff Happen   Have you ever read the Scoutie Girl or Tara Gentile blogs? If not, and you are a person who creates or is trying to run a business based on being a creator of something...anything, really....these blogs are for you. I am not kidding when I look at my blog feed, see something Tara has written, click on it and her topic for that day is like she was reading my mind. It's scary and awesome all at the same time. So when she opened registration for her course, The Art of Action, I signed up immediately. Yes, it cost more than any online class I've taken before. However, it is less expensive than taking a college class, traveling to and paying for a workshop (if she were to offer that option), and MUCH less expensive than sitting and spinning my wheels for weeks, months, or even years on end. The Art of Action is also so much more than a class. Not only do you get podcasts with inspirational and practical information from Tara, but you also get accompanying worksheets to reveal more about yourself, your goals, and how to take action on those goals, and so much more than you ever thought possible. Also, Tara does interviews (some are video, some are podcast) with some mega mover shaker types of women, a weekly coaching call where you can talk directly to Tara to ask your specific questions (you can also listen in on the computer or, if you can't make it, listen to the recording later). One last detail included in the class is a forum...or community of those taking the class with you. This particular feature, which I completely underestimated, really added so much more value to the class and to my personal journey of taking action. Tara also spent time in the community answering questions and adding comments or WhooHOOs. How has The Art of Action helped me personally? I am not sure I can give an in depth answer to that question... One visible action I've taken (and it was a very scary thing for me!) is moving my blog from blogger to Wordpress.org (thanks to my awesome friend Robin doing all the hard work!). Some in-process actions that will not be visible for a little while or perhaps never include things like writing a free e-book, I've submitted a design to do a tutorial for in a magazine, working with a professional photographer to submit a design or two to a book, I have a short action list every single day to keep me focused. There are benefits which are not visible to anyone....a shift in my thinking process and how I view tasks which seem like mountains or goals which seem impossible. Do I recommend this class? Absolutely. It was worth every penny and then some. Do you have to have a business to benefit? Absolutely not. Registration is currently open for a new session of The Art of Action and when it closes, it will not run again until October. Also, due to the added benefit of personal coaching, there are a limited number of spots. When I decided I wanted to write a review of my experience with taking The Art of Action during the current registration, I asked Tara if she would be willing to do an interview. I was thrilled when she agreed. Tara is someone I see as a role model, so it's totally awesome when a person you look up to, a person who is incredibly busy, takes time to do an interview. Enjoy what she has to say about The Art of Action, click on the link, read what else she has to say about it and see some sample materials. At the end of the interview, Tara is offering a sweet deal you should take definitely take advantage of. How was the The Art of Action e-course born? The Art of Action was born out of a pretty simple question, "How do you do it?" I get that question in emails at least a few times per week. I wanted to give an answer that wasn't just an explanation but a game plan for repeating my own peculiar kind of productivity. So I started writing more on the topic, asking questions myself, and digging into the problems & difficulties others have in "producing." What I learned is that it's not only getting to the end of a project that's a problem, but that there is fear in starting, difficulty in finding your own motivation, and    anxiety around the idea of success. My goal with The Art of Action is to provide a real coaching environment for my students - so they are not only learning but producing & creating as part of the process. After teaching the first session, what important things did you learn? My main concern with eliminating perfectionism as a barrier to productivity has always been about getting people finish what they start. But what I learned in the first session of this program is that there is another barrier that perfectionism creates and that is a barrier to even beginning a project. We get hung up on wanting to have everything just right, to understand all the contingencies, to have the perfect idea. That's not being thorough - it's being unrealistic. You'll never start if you wait to have those things in place. So you have to start when you have no idea what you're doing and trust that you will be open to learning as your work & produce! What was the biggest surprise? I've been teaching online for a while now and I'm used to the way groups of people bond quickly. But I was really surprised at the way the participants created a support network for themselves. Inside of our course forum, they were cheering each other on. Outside of the course forum, they were connecting, promoting, and creating with other participants. It was beautiful & so inspiring! What was your favorite part about teaching The Art of Action the first time around? My favorite part was seeing all the amazing results come into focus. Participants created new blogs, rebranded their businesses, developed new marketing plans, mobilized Kickstart projects, and got their art into new galleries. Every time someone had something to announce, I gasped! I also really loved how participants weren't afraid to expand on their original goals. The further we got into the work, the more possibilities opened up. The possibilities turned into results & tangible ideas. Being a part of the flow was thrilling. What will be different or better for this session? I think what will be better is that I understand that the environment I'm creating with the program is not just another "course." It's not information you just take in and learn from. This program is very much like hiring me as a coach. I'm going to hold you accountable, ask you hard questions, and demand some good answers! This time around, I'm going to be even more mindful of approaching it as a coach as much as I approach it as a teacher.   And what is this super awesome sweet deal Tara is offering? A FREE live preview of The Art of Action. This will be your opportunity to listen to Tara, ask questions, and more without paying a single penny. Plus, the first 5 people to sign up after the call are going to get a FREE personal coaching session with Tara. That offer makes the class an even better deal. I'm kinda jealous.... All you  need to do to get this free preview is click the link to go to The Art of Action, then on the right hand side is a a box that says "A word from Tara" with a personal message from Tara and the link to the free preview below it. Click that link, sign up for the details, and you're in! The free live preview is on May 11, only two days from now, so there is definitely a limited amount of time to take advantage of the free preview. If you're interested, take action now before you forget about it during your busy day.

Organize Your Life (and your family's too!)

I think Google Calendar is the best thing EVER! I have it set up so my husband, my son, or I can add or subtract things off the same calendar. It's installed on my cel phone, hub's cel phone (both of which are Droid X), and my son's iPod touch. All devices plus the actual Google calendar on the internet all sync at the same time without connecting anything to anything else and they sync immediately so nothing is ever out of date.

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