Saturday, July 30, 2005

Maiden of the Magnolias

I just completed photographing the Maiden of the Magnolia's pendant. Here's a small peek:

Click here to see the entire pendant:

Everything happens for a reason

Wow - this has been one incredible week. Lot's of miracles happening in my life, it seems. As I said in my previous post, the right studio certainly makes a difference. I now spend more time down in the studio than sitting here at this computer. And I've learned through a few things this week, everything happens for a reason.

As I spent more time in my studio this week, I began to think about where I'm going with my work. I shared some of my thoughts this week with one of my online lists, and I've made some decisions.

Okay, here's the scoop. I'm not having sales. The last sale I had was the first of May during the trunk a regular customer, and she got 50% off everything she bought. After that, I lowered most of my prices, and put a ton of items on sale. I've advertised that in May and June and now July. NOT ONE SALE of my on sale merchandise. I know this is happening for a reason, and I finally started asking for some kind of guidance. Perhaps the direction(s) I've been going are not where I'm supposed to go - perhaps I've been thinking too small on what I am capable of?

I've pondered what to do and where to go with the jewelry/beads. The carved beads and pendants are really, really neat. I like those, and think they are unique and different from what anyone else is doing. The rest of my site looks sort of like a "mish mash" to me - so many styles of work I've done are represented. I think I need to focus on the one area of work I've discovered is different and unique (creating the miniature carved art), and expand into higher quality, more artistic finished pieces, including pendants, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. I'm thinking a more high-end, gallery, designer look, where there are certain similarities through all pieces, so anyone viewing my work recognizes it is mine, and I develope a definite style. This will, of course, take longer time, and each piece will have more invested in it, therefore increasing the prices.

I figure since I'm not selling any of the "small stuff" as I have up on the site now - why not? If I'm spending 100 hours on 10 different small pieces, I can in turn spend that much time on ONE larger, more detailed, finished piece of work, which I could price basically the same as 10 separate smaller pieces or components.

In other words, instead of making one bead here, another there, etc...why not plan out and make an entire bold, artistic necklace of carved beads? Using a "theme" idea, I can do a necklace (or bracelet, or earrings, or all of it as a set) with a conglomeration of floral beads. Each carved bead would be the same size, but would have a different flower as the art. Then combine ALL the flower beads together using high quality findings (I like gold filled, but am also thinking of 14K gold as well) and create a finished piece or set. That piece (or set) would be called "Summer Garden" or something, for instance. Then perhaps I could do one featuring a variety of song birds...another with tropical birds, another with wildcats, another with fish (just naming off some of my favorite things here).

So instead of trying to sell each carved bead individually, they would be made into a very artistic, finished piece of work, which would be priced accordingly.

I also thought of pendants and sectional jewelry...these are not beads...these are flat pieces to which singly can work as a pendant and multiple ones can create a "scene" for a bracelet or necklace.

I've set up a separate gallery page on my regular site ( for these and these will be my higher end items. The first pendant is done, and I pulled a few more items I've made in a similar method into the gallery as well, mainly to see how my page set up looks.

In creating the Sunflower Goddess pendant earlier this week, I discovered doing such a small portrait using the dry chalk was becoming difficult. While I was striving for an ethnic look to the woman on the pendant, I still think she - and really the entire pendant - turned out a bit darker than I would like. I still think it's a good piece of work, but the blending of skin tones was frustrating me.

All night after I put her online, I was up and down, trying different experiments in the stuido - mixing various materials with the chalk to get a bit better control over application in order to blend the skin tones better. And when midnight hit and I finally laid down to sleep, I was still frustrated. I prayed for an answer to this problem right before I went to bed.

Sure enough, the next morning, the right idea presented itself, and in my stash of materials, I found exactly what I needed to liquify my chalk and make blending easier when necessary. My second pendant - which will be going on the gallery page later today - used this new mix of material and in my opinion, the colors are brighter and more vibrant. The skin tones also turned out perfectly.

Now I am jotting down ideas for my next pendants and some sectional themed pieces. And I'll also be working on finished carved bead pieces, as I mentioned above, also with themes to them. I'm still trying to decide on my first themed carved bead piece, so I'm going to jot down ideas for those as well.

Eventually, all pieces will be placed in my online gallery, and as the gallery expands, my store will change over to host gallery items only. I don't see any reason to take down all the current pieces in the store, as they ARE good pieces of jewelry and unusual and interesting beads as well. And they still might sell. But when I have enough gallery pieces online and in order, I will remove the store inventory.

In the midst of all of this experimentation and creativity, I saw I was running low on the translucent clay I use to my carved pieces. So I stopped at Hobby Lobby to pick some up. Now I was in the store last Friday to pick up some 2 ounce bars. I bought the last 3 and told the manager up front they needed to order more as I was buying the last they had and would be back next week to get some more. I felt sure they would have received some in by this week, but once again, the slots looked just like they had a week ago, and the translucent was still depleted. I purchased some other items, and once again, upfront, I told the cashier about ordering some more of that product.

She told me I could place a special order with the person in charge of that department. I thought about that a second and thought, NO, I shouldn't have to do that, as I informed the manager (or maybe an assistant...I'm not sure if this was THE manager or another overseer) last week they were out of this product, and they still didn't have it in. I figure, if I'm going to special order something, I'll do it myself on the internet and have it sent to my house (meaning I don't have to drive across town to pick up the clay). Still, it was frustrating, especially since I told them specifically last week the product was being depleted with my purchase of the last 3 bars.

This morning I thought about the clay, and I went to where I had ordered a one pound block of this clay recently. I didn't have any problems at all with the order - it went very smoothly. So here I was, clicking around looking for the link to order the one pound block of Sculpey III translucent. And I see they are having a SALE! Bars which I paid $14.50 for on my last order are discounted to $9.60! Shipping is a flat rate, too. So, by Hobby Lobby being out of the product again, I was encouraged to go online and find this deal. I will save almost $5 per block of clay - amazing. See, everything happens for a reason! :)

In other news....I now weigh 146.50. And I'm finally looking like something other than a "blob in clothes", and can wear smaller sizes, which opens up the avenue for more stylish bargain deals. Ever notice the good clearance items are like for size 1-3-5? Around here that's the deal, it seems. And I would find all kind of cute stuff on sale in these small sizes, but alas, in my larger size, I was outta luck. I'm still not down to a 5, and maybe never will be - but hey, I got a pair of size 10's at the Goodwill store (a great place to shop when you are losing weight!) this week! I'd love to get back to wearing 7's and 9's, which is what I wore "pre-kids". It's time. It's time for my body to return to normal!

Oh well, off to check my glaze on the latest pendant. Check my site later tonight if you want to see it -



Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The right workspace makes a huge difference

The right workspace definitely has made a difference in my productivity *and* creativity already. Yesterday I managed to get *3* new pieces completed.

This first piece is a 3D carved racing frog art bead. This was my first 3D (others I have done are 2D). It was inspired when my brother was asking about personalized plate names for his car (a Dodge Neon SRT4 racing car, which happens to be an orange color). I suggested the name "Blazin" to go on the plate, because the car is fast and it's also orange, which reminds me of fire, which "blazes". And then mentally I tied it in to the frog bead idea I had floating around. This is what I came up with (click photo for larger view and more pictures):

That bead took 2 days to complete, but it's one of the coolest I've done yet! I had also been tossing around the idea of a Plumeria flower bead, with the flower carved on each side of the bead:

And then I entertained the idea of a plumeria floral pendant. I have some 14K gold filled bezel wire, so I decided to make my own setting from it, and then create the art to fit in the setting. This is what I came up with:

All of this creativity stemmed from having the right work area. It was SO PLEASANT working down there yesterday. And boy, did I get more exercise going up and down those stairs several times more throughout the day than normal!

Also, I've lost another 1/2 pound...I'm at 147 and have 12 pounds to go to my goal weight. I firmly believe eating breakfast first thing, and making it a good one (it's around 500 calories, leaving me only 700 calories spread theough the rest of the day), is essential. Once again, I had more energy yesterday than I have had in a LONG LONG time. I was on the move from 7 am yesterday with working and doing other things around here, until 9pm last night. Didn't get tired once. And then today I've lost another 1/2 pound. So needless to say, after I wake up with some coffee, I'll be eating a good breakfast again! to find coffee! :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

New Hummingbird Bead!

Here's my latest carved bead I finished a few days ago. Click on the photo for larger images and all the details!

The name of this art bead is "Just a Hummin'". Today I'm working on another frog bead.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

New studio photos!

Here's some photos of my new studio I just created in the lower level apartment in my home. The first photo is what used to be my work desk in my upstairs is now a photography "studio" rather than a work desk. No longer crammed in a tiny space to take pictures! Hooray!

Now we enter the new studio in the kitchenette of the basement level. The white cabinet in the corner has glass doors and 4 was just sitting there empty. NO MORE! It's full now with all of my supplies.

Notice the lovely view I now have through the double glass doors:

A little closer shot of the two new Hibiscus I just planted today, and my new bird feeder and bird bath - both hanging from the same pole in perfect view from my workspace:

This is the view behind my work desk, next to the sink area. The shelves above the microwave hold beads and findings, with all of my art books in the middle. Notice I still have some empty shelves below the microwave:

Another view of the studio. That is my convection oven I use to fire my beads. And the door behind that goes outside in case I want to step out and get some fresh air (not likely in this 100 degree heat!):

Petunia's in the upstairs flower beds of my lovely brother planted those for me when he was here earlier this summer:

This one plant produces little white, red and pink flowers. I have no idea what it's called, but it was scrawny when we planted it. Look at it now! Like my little frog thinking beside it? :)

A view of the beautiful Hibiscus Scott planted for me out front:

What gorgeous blooms!

Ah....fresh cut yard...

And now we have moved around to the lower level - this is the view looking in toward my studio:

I love my new studio - it's already helping creatively, too! I have a new design on the work table and it's coming along very nicely. Can't wait until my first bird friends come to visit the new feeder and bird bath. That will be sweet!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Does tuna fish help you lose weight?

Apparently it does, because every time I include tuna fish in my daily food intake, I lose a little more weight. After 3 days of creeping up on the scale (eating the right calories and exercising every day, including a 4 hour lawn mowing session on Tuesday), I sat down last night with some tuna fish. Got up this morning and the extra 2 pounds are gone along with another 1/2 a pound. Now I'm at 149.5. Remember, my goal weight is 135. So I'm getting closer!

Now I do like tuna fish - I just haven't been able to eat it *every day* and I also can't figure out WHY it helps a person to lose weight. Regardless, it works, so I'll eat it. But sometimes I get bored with it. As was the case last night. So I decided to see what I could do to spruce it up. I came up with a quick little recipe here that offers a full belly and only a mere 205 calories!

I call this a "summer tuna mix" because I did it it's very hot here right now. You will need to mix up:

1 can of tuna fish packed in water (150 calories)
1 small-medium tomato, cut up (25 calories)
1 TBSP Kroger brand 30 minute mariande, the Herb, Garlic, and Lemon Juice Flavor) (10 calories)
2 TSP grated parmesan cheese (20 calories)

Stir it all up and enjoy! It was quite tasty with the addition of the herb/garlic/lemon marinande, and filling too! I did add 5 Triscuit crackers (original flavor, 20 calories each) with my tuna mix because I was craving something crunchy and I had room in my calorie budget for them. But the tuna mix was fine by itself, too.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Weight Loss! Carved Bead, ACEO Painting & More!

Oh my, it's update time! I've been trying to post on my journal for 2 days and couldn't get the log in to work. FINALLY!

I've now lost 20 pounds! Woohoo! Doin' the happy dance! I have 15 more to go to my goal weight. I celebrated my 20 pound decrease in size by investing in a weight bench and barbell with weights. It's time to start some strength training. And I'm now jogging a little bit on my morning walk to keep things moving along. It's so HOT here...very HUMID. Even just walking I break a sweat.

I got a great deal on my weight bench from Hibbet Sports. Ended up with a Linex 6262 for only $99! It was on sale and the last one they had, so an extra bonus is that it was already put together. HOORAY! Did my first weight lifting routine yesterday and am taking a break today to let my muscles rest. I can certainly feel I did something, especially in the upper body, where I really need to build up some strength.

One of my friends on the jewelry designers list set up a challenge...we had to use an inspiration photo from her Holland photo gallery and create something based on the inspiration photo in some way. We also have to use the color orange. So I decided I would make a carved art bead. Here's what I came up with:

Want to buy it? Click on it! LOL I'm going to be making carved beads and sculptures, and my partner AJ is going to be making the miniature paintings we are selling on the site. AJ made an ACEO (art cards, editions and originals) this weekend. Or I should say she finished it this weekend. ACEO's are a certain size - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", and it's a way for people to collect original art for reasonable prices. She made a really cool painting titled: Summer Day Snooze. Here's a photo of it:

(yeah, you can click on it to buy it too! :))

She made it using my technique in my new ebook - Create Miniature Carved Paintings. Needless to say, we are having a ball, and the joy of creating miniatures is they don't take up too much room in your house! :)

Tonight I'm grilling steak and having fresh seafood salad. (the recipe is in my archives) Feel free to "stop in" and have a bite to eat. The ribeyes look VERY tempting. I'm going to go get them seasoned now and get them on the grill. And.......chocolate pie for dessert! (how can you resist??) No, I won't blow my diet. I've been counting my calories today and making sure I have room in my day for these delicacies.

Off to season the steaks....:)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I hate days like today

Today I'm feeling all alone. I hate days like this. I can't get creative at all. I noticed this feeling came on when I got up this morning and only 2 people had welcomed me back to the jewelry list I've been on for years...but I signed off of a month or so ago to regroup and work on my projects. That's 2 out of 800, roughly. Not a large number. Tried to call my brother to talk and he didn't answer. Even the salespeople aren't calling today....LOL. Yep, it's a lonely day.

Life Update! New Ebook - Weight Loss & More!

Oh my, I've been busy! I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. My partner AJ and I have finished the ebook Create Miniature Carved Paintings. Click on the book cover below to read about it.

AJ has been making several mini paintings from my patterns...they are all on the site at under Miniature Carved Paintings. We are going to shift our work to ALL carved pieces like this...paintings, sculpture, and wearable art such as carved beads and centerpieces. We are getting with the flow now and building up some inventory. Perhaps we'll even be able to do the Thanksgiving show at the civic center this year...I don't know. Depends on the cost and how much we get completed.

I've now lost a total of 19 pounds! HOORAY! 16 more pounds to go to my goal weight. I've dropped 2 clothing sizes and want to drop 2 more before it's over. I guess those thyroid pills are really working. That and eating smaller bits more frequently during the day to keep my metabolism going.

I'm recouperating from playing chauffer last week for the kids and am staying home all this week to get caught up on my work. I've rejoined the Jewelry Designer's Guild mailing list and hope to create some unique carved centerpieces for jewelry designs very soon.

Hurricane Dennis came through here with a ton of rain on Monday. Yesterday was much cooler and sunny. Today it looks gray again, so we might get some more rain. Guess I'd better get my walk in this morning before that happens.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Youngster's first horse show

My daughter Allyson just finished her week at horse camp at Dogwood Stables. They performed a little show at the end - it was so cool! Here is a photo of her on her horse Snap:

You can visit this link:

to see my commentary as well as see larger photos of her in the show. She is really sad that camp has ended, but she will be taking lessons beginning this week, so she will get to go once a week to take lessons. We sure enjoyed seeing her do this. She is a very quiet girl, and needs to build self-confidence and I think working with the horses is going to have that effect. I know I sure am a proud mom right now! :)

Friday, July 01, 2005

2 New sculptures!

Wow - I can't believe it's been since SUNDAY since I posted here. I've had a busy week. Allyson has been at horse camp all week and my son has kept me extremely busy. On top of that, I've driven myself crazy trying to sculpt a full body figure. UGH. I never realized how hard it would be. So I tossed her aside and worked on 2 new projects:

These are hand carved translucent polymer. I carve the design in the raw clay, add my coloring, then fire. Then I glaze the pieces and fire again. As you can see, they are very tiny. They will be great for any collection, though, and also for dollhouses! I can picture them as accent decor or entry sculptures in a finely crafted dollhouse. Or maybe even in shadow box scenes. I've put them in the shop and also listed them on auction at ArtbyUs.Com. The sculpture category is wide open there, so I plan on filling it up with my original works!

I'm looking for some larger blocks of translucent clay I purchase to do very large carved sculptures. So far, all I have been able to find in the kind I use are the 2 oz blocks. I'm not giving up though! Let me know what you think of these. :)