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.