Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Goals & Objectives

The topic on Flaming Hot this week is Goals and Objectives. How do you track the progress of your glass business? Do you set goals and benchmarks to be reached? Do you have detailed directives? Do you just plod along and let it happen? Tell us what you do to keep your business thriving. Blog it! Hmmm, I guess I fall into the haphazard category, although I have improved at it this year. My goal has always been to have my glass be a 'self funding hobby'. As long as I make enough to pay for my glass and tools, I'm happy. And I always have, except for my two largest purchases, the kiln, and my oxygen concentrator. But, at the start of this year, I decided to get a bit goal orientated, and decided to focus on my auction sales. I decided to ensure that I always had auctions up online. I have managed to fulfil that goal since then, although there have been a lot of relists. I keep track of my glass sales in a simple excel spreadsheet. My beadmaking evolved out of my jewellery making, which evolved out of 'merchanting' at SCA events -which included selling trim and feasting gear. So, my spreadsheet has everything all mixed up, and I still sell trim once a year at our major medieval event, to help support my glass habit. So, I know overall whether I am in the black, and by how much, but I do not keep track of each month, year etc. My current long term goal is to use glass money to get back to the USA in 2009. I guess one of my new years resolutions for my glass business will be to increase the number of new auctions I have, rather than relying on relists to fill my online quota. I have organised artisans insurance this year, so I have been able to add teaching beadmaking to my bow, and I am hoping that the funds from that will really help with the USA goal. I have no intention of making my beadmaking more than a successful hobby. I do intend to increase sales, but I don't ever want to have the joy of working with glass affected by a need to fulfill a quota or a certain number of orders. I need it to stay fun, and as my teaching career in my day job intensifies next year, I will need that creative outlet even more.

Friday, 14 December 2007

On the Tree...

A few weeks ago I promised an image of my glass ornaments on my mum's tree. I gave this tree to my mother for her birthday (it's in November) 2 years ago, because she has difficulty managing the big tree herself. So, I bought this cute little tree, stripped it of the gaudy plastic acorns and gold bows it came with, and began to fill it with glass ornaments that I had made. Last year I was overseas for Christmas, so there were no new additions, but this year I have added quite a few new ones. I guess I have started a new Christmas tradition :)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

We'll have Christmas cheer if it kills us....

I am sitting here on my couch (can I just say - I love my wireless router) watching the lights on our Christmas Tree flash merrily. But that bit of Christmas cheer was hard won today.
Every year the assembly of the stand for the Christmas tree causes much consternation. It's a terrible design. As I generally decorate the tree, assembling the stand has become Jason's contribution to the whole process. This job frequently produces frustration and colourful language, but today the aggravation rose to new heights. It seems the stand had become worn over the years, and the threads had worn down. Jason drove off in search of one of the stands used for a real Christmas tree. Surely they cant be all that hard to find? I mean, they sell real xmas tree's on every street corner in the last few weeks before Christmas - what the heck do people use to keep the darn things upright? He came back empty handed and set to trying to jerry rig our current stand.
After another selection of frustrated outbursts, off he went again. This time I tried ringing the hardware store - the receptionist thought they had them, so that was his next destination. He finally returned without a tree stand, but having undertaken some lateral thinking, he had a metal market umbrella stand. While it's a little large (I'm using a tablecloth to cover the stand) it's sturdy and folds up for storage. Operation Christmas Tree can now proceed.
Of course, as I packed up the empty boxes, we noticed a dish-shaped object that belongs to the original stand, and had been overlooked earlier. It's entirely possible its absence was why the stand wouldn't work. Oops.
Anyway, the tree is up, which is a sure sign for Christmas spirit to decide its time to arrive at our place. I spent the evening writing Christmas cards and wrapping secret Santa gifts for my glass forum.
Here is some pics of our tree, sans lights. (Every time I tried to take a photo with the lights, the flash fired and washed them out). The closeups are of our new decorations we bought in various places, mostly Christmas Markets, in Europe last Christmas.
This Icicle decoration was a gift from the Faberglasshutte in Lauscha, Germany.

These 2 ceramic stars were bought from a ceramicist at a craft market in Nuremberg, Germany. I can't remember where these little guys came from - but they are cute, arent they ?

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Revisiting Ornament Thursday...

I was hoping to have some photos of my ornaments strung up and hanging on Mum's Christmas tree today, but I haven't been able to take the photo yet. So, here are a few more beads I hadn't yet made when I took the last photo. Please excuse the image quality - I took these ones on the floor in front of the window, instead of in my photo tent, with lights.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sculptural talent gone to the ...chickens?

I watched a fascinating story on Australia Wide on the ABC this evening. Ivan Lovatt is a British born artist working in Australia who makes amazing sculptures out of chicken wire. He had an exhibition of portrait busts on at Jackman Gallery in Melbourne - I would have liked to check it out, but looks like I've missed it. Click the image below to watch the full story on the ABC site.
It's hard to imagine so much expression created from layers of chicken wire - a truly unique artform.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Like I need another hobby!

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of weakness, I ordered a Needle Felting kit online. I have been interested in felting for awhile - I have played around a bit making flat pieces, like blankets, in the SCA, as well as felted juggling balls. As well as felting wool, I have toyed with felting the fur from my dog, which can also be spun. Unfortunately, my poor neglected spinning wheel is primarily fulfilling a decorative, rather than functional purpose at the moment, and my cupboard is starting to fill up with bags of wool and dog hair. Anyway, back to the felting. I had heard of needle felting, and seen some wonderful 3D constructions, but didn't really know anything about the process. So, I bought a kit that contained enough wool for one bear, some instructions, and most importantly, 3 felting needles. The kit arrived last week, but I was far too busy torching to do much more than give it a cursory glance. After the less than stellar performance at the market last week, and the build up to it, I haven't been feeling like torching the last few days. So, on Monday, which has become a bit of a craft night for me (I often work on SCA bead projects while DH is at fighter training) I decided to give the felting a go. The process isn't really difficult, although I imagine there is a lot to learn about sculpting with the wool. The worst part was the stinging fingers when I continuously stabbed myself with the barbed needle. Can I just say... Ouch!? The project was supposed to take 5-6 hours, but I am one of those people who cannot stop once I start (plus I'm a bit impatient, so I may not have felted as firmly as I should have) and I finished all the pieces after about 4 hours. I then dragged myself off to bed (it was almost 1 am *gasp* on a 'school night') and couldn't wait to get home from work the next day to assemble my little creation. I'm pretty pleased with the little guy, for a first try. He's a little hefty around the shoulders (I think he enjoys Popeye's penchant for Spinach) and his face looks a bit like a Lion's, but I think he's kinda cute. What do you think?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Frustration... My Achille's Heel

Do most people have one thing that pushes their buttons, causes them to lose their cool? I can be calm in a crisis, I can manage an event with 100's of people and thousands of details to deal with, I can be patient with almost anyone in a training situation, but I start to lose the plot when I am truly frustrated.
I have always known I don't cope well with frustration. There is a very good reason why golf is not my game. And I have always identified that I get frustrated with myself at various times, for eg, scoring badly at a game I'm usually good at - which then leads to me playing worse, the more frustrated I get (I'm having flashbacks to AMF Bowling League and Volleyball Matches).
But I have only just started to understand that a lot of my stress situations relate back to frustration also. I don't like myself when I get stressed - I can be short tempered, demanding and snippy. What I hadn't realised till recently is that I get stressed when I'm frustrated. I wasn't stressed in my photography job because of the of the nature of the job, I was frustrated that I was expected to provide a quality portrait service in 5 min. I wasn't stressed in class due just to student misbehaving, but because I was frustrated that they couldn't see the cause and effect - bad behaviour= consequences, good behaviour= pleasant class, fun activities etc.
Yesterday I had a very frustrating morning and I felt myself turning into 'stress girl'. That hasn't really happened to me at work in the 3 years since I started my current role, and I have dealt with plenty of stressful situations. So I finally realised it was the frustration pushing my buttons, bringing out the worst in me.
I'm hoping this revelation will help me avoid that stress reaction. Maybe if I can see the frustration coming I will be able to deal with it differently.
Do you have something that sets you off? Your own personal Kryptonite? Tell us about it.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Ornament Thursday

Margot over at 'The Impatient Blogger' has invited her readers to participate in a showcase of handmade Christmas Ornaments every Thursday. As I have been working my proverbial off all week making glass Christmas Ornaments, the timing is great! This week I will post pics of some of my Christmas beads - next week I might show them strung up and hanging on a tree :)
I was especially happy with my little Santa's - they have such individual character. I made 3 this week, and they are all different. I think the one in the bottom row looks like he possibly has taken a few too many nips of the Christmas sherry, the other two are very wholesome looking. :) Unfortunately, after all the hard work they didn't sell at my market last night, but that's a whine for another night (when I have some Cheese and crackers to go with *smile*).

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Is it possible to have too much torch time?

Most of my friends who, like me, juggle torch time around work and family, would say no. But, this week I am thankful that I don't work full time as a bead maker. That is often seen as a lofty goal for 'hobbyists' of many crafts - the ability to stop working a normal job and support yourself with your art. I have always hesitated to even be committed to regular sales through a boutique or gallery, due to a fear that beadmaking would stop being fun if I had to do it, and had deadlines to meet. But some times of year are just more optimal for selling, and you have to suck it up and get on with it. For me, that is before 'Festival' (SCA event over Easter) and before Christmas - especially this year, as I had several custom orders and a Christmas market to prepare for. So, I have been torching almost every night for the last week or so, and all weekend. Tonight was the last night I could torch before the market, and I only lasted till 9.30pm. I just didn't want to anymore. I'm tired, and my back hurts from the position while torching and I hated that feeling of 'I have to'. Talk about killing the creative urge!
So, I look at the somewhat paltry pile of good to sell and wonder if its enough. Its amazing how much harder it is to gather inventory when you can't sell jewellery. What the heck - the table was only $20 and I sold 10 Christmas beads to a SCA friend last night, so it's already a good sales week. At least the Christmas beads force me out of my comfort zone. I usually avoid sculpture like the plague, but I can make some cute little critters and such when I put my mind to it. :)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Giving Thanks...

Flaming Hot has asked this week about what I am thankful for. A natural enough question this week, with Thanksgiving in the US (most of the Flaming Hot members are American). I have a lot of American friends, both here in Australia and online in the US, and I have got used to thinking about thankfulness at this time of year, although the holiday holds no relevance to us Aussies. Whatever the roots of the holiday, I think the concept of consciously giving thanks for the good things in our life is an excellent exercise. I'm sure we are all guilty of taking things for granted a lot of the time.
I am thankful for a happy marriage and loving husband, for a wonderful family that loves me and is proud of my accomplishments and for the comfort and opportunities of my lifestyle. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel so much this year, and the wonderful experiences that led to, and the new friendships I made. I am thankful for the wonders of the Internet, that can keep me in regular contact with friends thousands of miles away and allow networking with colleagues in other countries that I have never met. I love that my relatively expensive hobby of glass beadmaking supports itself, and that I get to play with fire and create objects of beauty. I am thankful for a rewarding job, and new challenges in my future, and for my colleagues who will stay as friends even when I move onto my new role. I am grateful for the advent of blogging, as I have loved returning to my lost love of writing. I am thankful to live in Australia, for so very many reasons. And I am thankful that labour just won the Australian election - I just hope those thanks turn out to be justified.
I have a lot of reasons to be thankful in my life. I must remind myself of that when I get down in the dumps. :)

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Hard work this week pays off...

I sold 8 of my new pens last night! I'm a very happy camper this morning. Now I just need to get a few more non-jewellery items ready for the Christmas Market next thursday night. And a lot more loose focals.... So, although the pen order is finished, I'm still going to have to crack the whip on myself and get back to the torch tonight. Here's a pic of the pens - I only have 3 left now...

Monday, 19 November 2007

It's amazing what you can do online...

Just in case some people can’t see the video I have embedded here, I thought I better pop back and add an explanation. Yesterday I used a website called Animoto to create some free 30 sec music videos, using my photos and some music. The site supplies a range of music that is legal to use, plus I had some creative commons music downloaded. Basically it creates a unique video by matching the movement to the sound of the music. Apparently no 2 videos are ever the same. You can also do full length videos for $3, which I am very tempted to do – I think I could create something very cool for my website. I also created a couple of videos for my project at work – the effects are very different depending on the music used.

Friday, 16 November 2007

My Studio is....

...a cupboard. Yep, basically a cupboard. A very large cupboard, but definitely a storage area. It is a cute little room, snuggled up under the eaves on the second story of my house. When my friend's young children first saw the matching rooms (before one became my studio), either side of the 'parents retreat', they declared them Harry Potter bedrooms, and claimed one each.
Oh, and before you all think I have gone crazy, gentle readers, the topic on the Flaming Hot blog this weeks is 'My Studio is...finish this sentence'.
I used to torch outside in my husband's cedar workshop. I had to pack everything up after every torch session. Yes, I did say everything. In winter it was freezing, and as it was right up the back of our garden, even getting up the enthusiasm to trudge up there in cold weather, or worse, late at night (it's spooky out there!) was an effort. It was pretty spacious, so when it was my turn to use it, I could even have several torches set up at a bead meet, but if that arrangement had continued, I never would have been able to grow in my glass work as I have done.
We decided to move me into the house. Jason built me a wonderful custom made work bench, and another for my kiln and I moved in. Ventilation was problematic for awhile. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's a cupboard, so with no external windows, and only the open door behind me for ventilation, the use of enamels, metals, even reichenbach frit was outlawed.

The fledgeling studio - before the days of ventilation and a 'big girl torch'.

Fortunately (you have to look on the bright side of these things) the ensuite ceiling was leaking and we had to make some major repairs. So, while all the tradie's were there, we got them to install a rangehood and a whirly gig on the roof, and install power (no more extension cords). Double Helix glass, here I come (pity that the ability to make silver glasses 'do their thing' did not arrive with the ventilation).

Since then I have upgraded from a HH to a Pirahna, and finally started garaging my beads instead of batch annealing (yep, it took me over 4 years to overcome my fear of sticking my arm in a hot kiln. Go figure.) Just one more thing I learnt in the US (I was thrown in the deep end at the Anastasia class :) . I have a new, somewhat precarious shelving arrangement for my presses (OK, so its a metal planter stand with cardboard on the shelves) and a creative glass storage system (cardboard tubes glued together and painted white). Are you getting the impression I'm good at scrounging and appropriating things? (You ain't seen nothing till you have seen my husband build the Taj Mahal of chicken coops with recycled shipping palettes, recycled corrugated iron from our roof, left over insulation and 8 foot wire fences, without spending a penny on anything other than the screws and nails!)
So, now I can torch for as little as an hour or as long as I like, without worrying about sharing the space, the ambient temperature (heck, if its really hot I just turn the aircon on in the bedroom behind me) or the time of day. In fact, part of the initial impetus for the move was the plan to put my insomniac tendencies to use by torching in the wee small hours when I can't sleep. So, even though Jason jokes he banished me to a cupboard, it's a very nice cupboard and I am quite happy here!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

One more auction

I have a new set up on JB this week called 'Mermaid Tails'. I have a feeling I've shot myself in the foot regarding the lack of a seasonal colour scheme (remembering that most of my customers are in the US, and heading into Winter...) but I just couldn't resist this Bullseye odd lot colour (yep, the same one as last week) and I'm absolutely no good at hoarding sets. I have also been furiously making Christmas decorations and long tube beads for pens the last few week - I'll try and post some photos soon.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

I have 2 beautiful new sets up on Just Beads at the moment. I was playing with Bullseye glass for awhile instead of my usual Effetre. The colour palette's are quite different. So here is 'Cranberry Treasures' and 'Dewdrops'.
And as if I'm not already blogging enough (here, Let's Talk eLearning, Flaming Hot and Modern Savages) I have just joined another artisans collective blog, Collective Creatives. This new one has participants from various mediums, who will post articles once a month throughout the year. I'm looking forward to it - I have really enjoyed writing so often over the last few months. When I started this blog about a year ago to record my overseas trip, I never would have thought it would lead to this - so thanks for 'listening' folks.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

New challenges...

Well, its official. I have a new position next year as an eLearning and Innovations Coordinator. Its a Leading Teacher role at a suburban secondary school, and will allow me to continue the work I have been doing with elearning, ICT implementation and teacher mentoring, combined with classroom teaching. So, I will have to put 'my money where my mouth' is and 'practice what I've been preaching' for the last three years - should be exciting... and challenging. (Can I fit any more proverbs in one sentence?). In the meantime, my current project still has a couple of months to go, and then I will no doubt be using the Christmas holidays to get my curriculum together and prepare to go back into the classroom for the first time in 3 years - eek! :)
On the glass front, I have 2 new auctions up this week, 'Ruffled Granite' & 'Smoke on the Water'.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Contradiction: Time honoured crafts meet cyberspace

The wonderful world of the Internet presents frequent contradictions. As a member of the SCA, a Medieval recreation society, I have long felt it ironic that a very large part of society life unfolds online. Every SCA group seems to have active email lists, forums abound, a wonderful depth of research is available online, and almost any manner of medieval products can be purchased online. The way the Internet has made the world smaller enriches how we play the game on many levels.
I also find it interesting how many people have managed to turn skills in producing handmade items into a self funding hobby, cottage industry or fully fledged career, often largely in part to benefits provided by the Internet. Inexpensive, high quality 'advertising' through websites, an International audience, easy payment methods like Paypal, the opportunity to educate a wide audience, access to high quality materials and supplies... the list goes on.
One of the venues online that caters specifically to handmade crafts is Etsy. I set myself up with an etsy store yesterday, Solar Flare Creations. For the moment, I will h, ave the same items up as I have on my webpage, as there is a ready made, interested audience at Etsy. Its just a trial to begin with. There are all sorts of intricacies about the system I don't know yet - its also a Social Networking site of sorts, with messaging, 'friends' etc, and they have a system of 'Treasuries'. I don't really understand the ins and outs yet, but I do know I was lucky enough to get myself entered into two treasuries on my first day, so apparently that's a good thing. :)

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Updating my webpage

I installed Google Analytics a few weeks ago, on this blog and my website. It's been interesting to finally have a concrete idea of traffic, and more importantly, where the traffic is coming from. As I suspected, my blog is now getting a lot more hits than my poor neglected web page. I am going to have to try and do something about that at some stage, but in the meantime, I did a bit of a spring clean this week and re-photographed all my jewellery, and added some new pieces. I'd appreciate your feedback if you feel like dropping over there and checking it out... and if you are interested in the history of beads at all, I have several documents written for SCA consumption, and photographs of recreations of historical beads over there as well.

Friday, 2 November 2007

New beads and some favourites...

I realised today that I am a bit behind with posting my latest auctions. I have also just finished packaging up a parcel of beads to send to the US, so some new sets will be up for auction next week. In the meantime, we have 'Cobalt Blooms', 'Rasberry Swirl' and because its a favourite of mine, and hasn't sold yet, another look at 'Some Like it Hot'. I absolutely love these flame beads, and if I wore more black (or owned a Harley!) they would not be leaving my hot little hands.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Inspiring examples...

This has been a funny old week for me. Its been a week since I posted anything other than auction updates, yet I have felt the need to write for several days. The right topic just wouldn't come to me. Or if it did, something got in the way. Either it was too negative (blame it on a stressful week?) or circumstances transpired against me. I was all set to Blog about an amusing article on the SCA the other day, and then the original blog post/article I was responding too was removed, so down went that idea. Then I saw the Flaming Hot topic of conversation for this week 'Idols'. (Creative idols that is, not the TV show!)
"Who do you admire? Aspire to emulate? Look to as the artisan you wish to be? In setting goals and reaching higher where do you find your benchmarks? "
Wow, that is a topic and a half.
Perhaps in line with my slightly negative vibe this week, my thoughts did not instantly turn to a long list of artists who's work I admire and wish to emulate. Instead, a personal experience came to mind, where I had been disappointed in a personal interaction with someone whose work I had admired very much. And it occurred to me - how does our reaction to the person affect our reaction to the work? Can we be truly inspired by the artwork of someone who has disappointed us as people?
To answer that question, I think I need to look at how I am affected by 'inspiration' itself. Do I look at others work in order to try and create something similar? Or just to be challenged to extend myself and try something new - improve my skills? Or am I simply drawn to work that I find aesthetically beautiful, just to look, enjoy, and then move on? Thinking about it, I think for me it is more the latter. I rarely try to imitate specific styles or techniques I witness, even if they are in tutorial style books, designed to be followed. I tend to use my collection of lampworking books, art books, favourite websites, show and tell on the forums, collection of favourite images etc in much the same way I now use my cook books.
I have a great collection of cook books. And I'm a sucker for a new one. As long as it has high production values and big glossy pictures. But I am trying to curb my cook book buying impulse, as I rarely cook from recipes any more. But I do browse through cookbooks for inspiration, and then close the book, feeling inspired to try a certain ingredient or technique.
That is how the artwork of others inspires me. The appeal of an unusual colour scheme, creative use of a new technique or tool. Subconsciously they all affect me I'm sure, but I rarely, if ever, walk away from viewing the work of my peers with a concrete idea that I wish to go and try. It's more of a gradual absorption process perhaps...
So, can I still be inspired by the artwork of an idol who has proved to have 'feet of clay' in my eyes? Well, I guess in this interpretation, yes I can. I can still see the beauty and skill in their work. Who knows... perhaps it will make me a more effective critic of their work - to have the rose coloured glasses removed. After all, we need an undistorted view to truly appreciate art anyway, don't we?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Latest Beads on Offer

I have 2 new auctions up this morning... 'Fairy Garden', and 'Rippled Granite'. Things are really slow at the moment, but I'm trying to keep a slow steady stream of new work up. I have 3 new sets ready to photograph this week, one that I'm especially happy with. I've been playing with Bullseye odd lot colours... mmmm yummy!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Chocolate Heaven

I've been really good with my eating habits the last couple of weeks. Taking lunch to work everyday, eating breakfast, not drinking soft drink etc. But yesterday we had a great sunday outing, ending at the wonderful Koko Black in Lygon st. We saw 2 movies at imax - Deep Sea 3D which was great, and Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D, which was good, but not as engaging as the Sea Monsters one we saw a few weeks ago. It has been great to make use of the teacher previews at the Melbourne Museum imax. We added morning tea at Koko this weekend. We shared a Belgian Spoil - mini pots of choc ice-cream and choc mousse, a shortbread, a mini choc cake, and 2 handmade chocolates. I had an ice chocolate as well, which was made with homemade choc and vanilla ice-cream. Wow, talk about chocolate heaven.... That should last me another few chocky free weeks. :)
To change the subject slightly - what is it with Women and shoes? or handbags? I just don't get the attraction. I mean, I can appreciate pretty shoes aesthetically - I wouldn't be much of an artists if I couldn't, I guess. But I just cannot see the attraction of spending so much money and time on finding the perfect shoe...and don't even get me started on the discomfort of so many of them. I was reading The Impatient Blogger last week, and after reading all the comments, I realised I am most definitely in the minority. So, any body else out there not get the female shoe fetish? Just Beads is a bit quiet lately, so I don't have any new auctions up yet, just a few relists. I have a lot of new stuff to post... so lookout for new pics this week, but I might give the current lot a few more days first. Hopefully we will see a rise for the Christmas season soon.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Practice makes perfect... Or Does it?

The topic for discussion on Flaming Hot this week is 'Perfecting Your Craft'. How do I work at improving my skills as a beadmaker, or in other fields for that matter?
I suppose as in a lot of other things I do, my approach has been eclectic. I have heard, and appreciated, all the old adages about practice, practice, practice - but I have to admit, I struggle to make myself repeat things until I 'get' them. Repeated practice definitely helps - I always notice an improvement in my work when I have a major deadline that keeps me at the torch more than usual (like when I once made 220 period beads as door tokens for an SCA event). But while I know practicing skills is important, I think that my improvement in those instances reflects more the fact that I am a part-time torcher, and sometimes don't get to the studio as often as I'd like. Since I have forced myself to become more regular with auctions, and therefore torch more often, and be more productive, that steep learning curve just from repeated application is reduced.
But, I digress. Getting back to my original comment, I am really bad at making myself practice something. I tend to try something new...and if it works, great! -that's done and I can move on. And if it doesn't, well, I cant do that yet, I'll try again next month, or next year. And in most cases, that actually works for me - I seem to be able to process things mentally when my skill levels are there... and not before.
For example, I have only made about 6 hollow beads ever. First time I tried, I got a melted mess. Put that idea away. Then I tried again, and was still enough of a newbie that I announced success - even though now, when I look at that bead, it's not so much hollow, as has a really big bubble in the middle. :) Then I tried again, possibly another year later, and I turned out 3 almost perfect hollows, one with a small spacer bead trapped inside. I did not really practice them, but I got my skills to a level where the process that I had understood in theory, actually worked in practice. I then left the technique aside again, as I definitely used to jump around everywhere trying new things, and once 'mastered' (tongue firmly in cheek there) I'd be on to the next thing. Recently I panicked and wondered if I could actually make hollow beads at all, as it had been about a year. I tried again, and made 2 small matching hollows, without any trouble. Not only had I remembered, but I had made them smaller, which I find quite a bit harder.
So, it seems that perhaps I don't process things quite like some other people. Anybody else out there who does this?
I am a person who learns by doing and watching. I'm not great at following written instructions. So, I love that the Internet provides an arena for so many video and pictorial tutorials, and actual classes in person are great. And that's another issue entirely... The community of lampworkers in Oz is so small, and so relatively new, that there are only a handful of people teaching in Australia. We have recently begun to get visiting instructors from overseas, but classes are generally over $800 for 2 days, which is a cost I cannot justify. I was so lucky to be able to attend the ISGB Gathering this year, where the practical demonstrations and open torch sessions provide such a great chance to learn. And I was very fortunate that I was able to get a last minute entry into a class with Anastasia, at a very affordable price.
I think self reflection is very important also. I try to be critical of the work I produce, and aim to continually improve. And I am trying to get better at practicing new skills, rather than waiting for them just to appear :) .

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Coming in Three's...

I have three new auctions to show you today - two focals and a set. It's nice being able to try focals out on JB, with the postal savings from sending them all over together. It's all a big experiment though - I have no idea how focals are going to go for me, so keep your fingers crossed for me (or uncross them long enough to click and bid! :) ). Another thing coming in three's this week is job interviews. The end of this week is going to be a bit stressful and hectic, as I have 3 interviews in 2 days. Eek! I'm not going to get too excited about any of them point counting unhatched avians. There are two ICT Leader/eLearning roles, and one Art/Tech Key Learning Area leader. So, while your fingers are crossed anyway, think positive job vibes for me, OK?
'Shaken Not Stirred' 'Amethyst Blooms'
'Smoke Get's in Your Eyes' 'Desert Blooms'

Monday, 15 October 2007

Blog Action Day - The Environment

Today is Blog Action Day. Well, in Australia it is, not quite there in USA yet. Today the aim is to get millions of bloggers around the world talking about the same issue - the environment. I posted a great Al Gore video a few months ago, follow the link to check it out. I was thrilled to hear he won a Nobel prize this week. I think he has done some amazing work raising awareness about climate change, and making the issues understandable. An Inconvenient Truth was a very powerful movie. But what I really wanted to talk about is the smaller measures that we can all take to make a difference. I'm sure we all have some not too environmentally friendly habits (I know we use the clothes dryer way too much), and there are some things we can all improve. My husband and I are switching all our lightglobes to the new compact fluorescents. We have done almost every room, we just need a couple more. The major difficulty for us was access. We have high ceilings, and we usually use a snazzy 50c tool on the end of a broomstick to change our globes. Problem is, the new ones don't fit. But, as they promise we should only have to change them once every 3 years, we figured the effort was worth it. We are also trying to remember to turn applicances off, rather than standby. The TV, and the computer for example. Usually my computer is on hibernate all of the time, including over night, but I have been trying to remember to shut down lately.
What meausres have you been taking to be more environmentally aware lately? Share in the comments.... Here is a video by Plain English on the new lighbulbs...

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Without further ado...

I wasn't expecting to post again tonight, but I've been scheduling auctions and I accidentally started more than I intended tonight (or this morning US time). So, I figured I might as well blog them while I'm thinking of it. So, without further ado, here is 'Tropical Blend' and 'Desert Blooms'.Desert Blooms continues the series of wildflower beads I have been working on recently. A slightly different direction, thinking more of Australian desert landscapes than lush fields of flowers. After all, most of the country is in severe drought at the moment. I think we might be seeing more of this style in the future (I guess I'll see how the auction goes!).