Friday, July 29, 2011

Stretching myself as an artist....

My goal for this year is to really stretch myself as an artist--can't really do that without trying new things and taking risks. While I am mostly self-taught, I am at a point where learning from the pros saves a lot of time, money and forces me to jump in. I bought a clay working book a month ago, and have read it front to back several times--even know which project I would start with. But, I keep coming up with other projects due to my fear of failure. Might be time to find a clay class :).

Another medium I have been drawn to is glass--earlier this week, I took a class with my mother-in-law, Dede to make fused glass pendants. We had a great time, learned a lot and now we have to wait a week to see what our creations look like. Seems like an eternity! But, we signed up for a second class, so we can improve upon our first attempt. Maybe there is a kiln in my future yet!

One of the many reasons I started this blog so that I could participate in a thing called 'bead soup'. Jewelry designers across the world sign up for bead soup. Then, you are assigned a partner. You send them a cool pendant, a cool clasp and some accompanying beads from your stash. They send you the same. Then, you make something with at least the pendant and clasp, using your own stash to supplement. Next, we all post the beginning stash and eventual creation on our blogs. Another way to get me out of my comfort zone. I can't wait to do this--signups are the first of August, so I will keep you posted!

Funny, when you start to look for new opportunities for growth, some just seem to come out and find you. This week, a neighbor called and asked if I would have any interest in coming over one evening and teaching a class on jewelry design to a group of women. I had always thought teaching would be fun--I actually went off to college intending to become a high school math teacher--but hadn't yet pursued that road with my business. At this point in my life, this sounds like a lot more fun than teaching math to high schoolers, lol! Looks like this coming Monday night just might be the night. I am going to show them how to paint and embellish metal pendants. LOVE the idea of sharing my passion with others!

So, now that you know my bucket list for this year, I know you will hold me accountable! I have seriously been considering closing the boutique for two months this fall, starting in September. I really want to focus on creating and learning, with all sorts of new things to present just in time for your holiday shopping. A sabbatical, of sorts. That being said, if you are going to want a custom gift during that time, you may want to start thinking about it now :).

Trying to win some beads....
If I blog about this link, then I get an extra chance to win a really cool give-away of handmade artisan beads. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What a fun night!!!

I am over the moon over last night's crafting session! 8 lovely women, at least 4 of whom claim to not be crafty at all, came prepared to get some work done. We made 174 hair accessories to donate to Waunakee Neighborhood Association last night. I have to tell you, we talked, we giggled, and our fingers kept working. I wish I could post a picture of every hair flower made last night. They are gorgeous! I seriously can't tell who made which ones, so "I am not crafty or creative" is no longer an acceptable excuse!!! We hardly made a dent in my flower supplies, so we will get to re-visit this craft down the road. Woohoo!
Another interesting tidbit is that between 8 women, there was so much talking and working that combined we only drank a little over 1 bottle of wine in 2.5 hours--now that should tell you just how productive we were! Either that, or I put out some bad wine ;).
Today, I am left with nothing but good feelings. A warm fuzzy heart--it just feels so good to make for others, especially others who appreciate it so much because they have so little. I just keep thinking about how happy my girls are when they get something beautiful--and I get to see this more often than I care to admit. Then, I imagine the sparkle in each of those little girls' eyes when they get to PICK out their OWN beautiful flower or headband--and the little bit of confidence they will proudly wear on the first day of school. Nicely done, ladies! Thank you for helping me carry out this vision--couldn't do it without you!!!
Oh, and speaking of creativity, I have yet to come up with any good names for this effort--any ideas?!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taking the plunge....

Well, today I did it. I sent off a submission to a jewelry magazine. Not any jewelry magazine--my favorite one. The one that I feel inspires me every time, and actually features jewelry designs that are innovative and wearable at the same time. The kind of pieces I aspire to make. I won't know for at least a week or two, and I am suddenly very nervous. You see, when I started out making jewelry, I had no intention of ever selling a single piece. I would buy something and like it almost as is, and then tweak it. Then, I stopped buying pieces that I almost liked and just started creating. I started out with bracelets, watches and earrings. But, I was literally scared to death to try a necklace. What if I couldn't do it? Around the time that my hobby became a business, I decided to tackle the necklace. While I was so proud of them, my first necklaces were, in fact, basic and are in retrospect, somewhat embarrassing! As with most things, my style has evolved, my business has survived--and thanks to all of you, even thrived. I have even one a few contests along the way (although, truly, I have to wonder if you all weren't so supportive with your voting, would I have one on my own merit?!).
So, now I have put myself out there--a true test to the quality of my work--and my creativity. As I type this, I realize that I am really putting myself out there--sharing my insecurities, and knowing that I will have to share the outcome, either way. Hmmm, maybe I should delete :). But, no, you have shared this journey with me thus far, rallied behind me--why not let you in now, too! Besides, just like with my first necklace attempts, if I am not accepted now, I will try, try again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oh maaaan!

Oh maaaan! You have got to be kidding me. If you are an avid jewelry designer, you might be a bit shocked to hear that these were my 'go to' pliers. I LOVED these pliers. I am pretty sure I nabbed these out of Mike's tools when I first began to tinker in this craft. Now, 6 years later, I busted them. I was squeezing the snot out of a snap I was putting into leather and "craaaack." Now what?! I thought back to the class I took last fall in Galena, at Vintaj. I overheard a few of the women talking about their Lin something pliers--maybe I should use this as an excuse to invest in these amazing, ergonomic pliers they were talking about. I mean, as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, mine are clearly broke! I quickly looked up these Lindstrom jewelry pliers. Well, at over $50, I think I will wait for Christmas :).
Instead, I found what looks like a similar pair and ordered it off ebay. Until they come, I have been forced to use my second tier pliers. They just feel wrong. I am all thumbs with this pair. As I worked this morning, I noticed something funny. I was struggling with these silly pliers, hurrying to get a ring finished before the mail came, so it could go out--the whole time hoping that the mail truck was carrying my new pliers. I sure hope they are similar and I can feel the perfect size and weight handles in my grip. Just the right amount of resistance, making my work efficient again. What a difference a good tool makes!

Friday, July 22, 2011

With these hands....

The first craft night is all set for next Wednesday night--it is full, so if you were thinking about joining us, you will have to catch the next one! LOVE all of your willing hearts! This month, we are going to be making hair accessories to donate for the kiddos. Will post some pictures of our end results!
Nicole Mihalas and I have been brainstorming this morning for August's crafting session, and it is one you won't want to miss! I got an awesome deal from Children's place this morning, and placed an order for 20 stretch pants and 15 long sleeve tops. Thanks to Nicole's awesome idea, we are going to add some serious cute to these items--here's a preview:
Tutu Tights - You Pick Color - Girls 12m 18m 2t 3t 4t 5t 6 7 8 9 10  YOU PICK COLOR

Monday, July 18, 2011

Supah, dupah excited!

Welcome to my blog! I have been wanting to do this for a while now because I can do some really cool bead swaps and things if I have a blog, but I didn't really think I had anything I wanted to say that many would want to read. But, then I got an idea in my crazy little head yesterday. I have been so excited and distracted by all the fun ideas a-swirling that I actually walked boldly out of Target yesterday, basket full of goodies on one arm, coupon and wallet in other hand. I got all the way out to the car before I realized that I should have bags in my hand, not a basket. Yep, I had forgotten to pay, I was so distracted by my thoughts! After looking over my shoulder for the security onslaught, I promptly marched back in, completely unnoticed, chuckling to myself the whole way. What is my idea?! I was a wee bit worried you would never ask!
Well, here it is....
I would like to organize a craft session at my house once a month. With all of our hands working together, I would like to make pretty things for the Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. If you aren't familiar with this organization, check it out: They operate a free store which takes in donations and provides them free of charge to anyone who might need them. I would love to provide a few 'frivolous' items--hair accessories, knitted hats, inspirational necklaces, and many other fun, beautiful things that we may come up with. I know there are many needs, and pretty things are not needs, but why not add a few things to brighten the day and let them know how special they are, too?! I know all of you love getting a new little something (if not, I would be out of business)--it just adds a kick to your step, doesn't it?!
So, here is how I envision this going: I will use 10% of N's Whims' profits and buy the supplies needed. I will set a date, one evening a month to make a beautiful craft. Here is where you come in, you will sign up, show up and have a blast using your hands to help others. Then, I will get the goods to Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. Bonus, you may even learn a fun new skill to make beautiful things for the ones you love :). I think everyone wins, don't you?! Of course, I do think we should really enjoy our time--maybe some wine and eats to go with our fun!
Anyway, who is in?! The first official crafting session will be Wednesday evening, the 27th of July, starting at 7:30-9:00 PM. I think I will limit the first group to 8 women, just to get a feel of how this is going to go. Let me know if you can make it!