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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Yep, I’ve Got An Etsy Store!

Announcing the opening of my Tattered ‘n Worn Etsy store!

The Lampwork bead jewelry (tri-layer necklaces, charm bracelets and dangle earrings) is now available for purchase by clicking on “Tattered ‘n Worn” above. There are three collections at this writing, with more on the drawing board.

All pieces may be purchased individually, but there is a matching necklace, charm-style bracelet and earrings in each collection.

This is the Tri-Layer Necklace “style.” It is a completely original design, and all three collections are built around the same style, but with very different looks. “Romance”  (shown here) is my first collection. I will be making several different pieces, but none will be exactly the same.

“Evening Elegance” is the title of the second collection. See my Etsy shop for close up pictures of each individual piece, I just wanted to show you one picture with all three pieces together.

I went to Denio’s Market in Roseville this morning in search of some interesting display pieces. My husband was a good sport walking through booth after booth of some pretty crummy stuff in search of treasures. At one point he decided to sit while I went down a row or two. After I took off, he happened to look up and notice that he was sitting near a booth that looked liked it might be just what I was looking for.

He watched me lock onto it from quite a ways away, and had to laugh as he saw my face light up from a distance!

I got them home, and dug out a few pieces of old lumber to add to them.

Together, the lumber and the white iron piece made the backdrop for my third collection.

Interestingly enough, all I needed was just a touch of the metal showing in the photograph to create the look I was going for! I’m anxious to get some more collections completed so I can play some more with the displays.

I like doing the staging for the photographs almost as much as I like designing the jewelry…maybe that will help with keeping me designing as I wait to see if the pieces are going to sell!

If you get a chance to check out the store, I’d be interested in getting feedback as to how I can improve it.

The True Value of The Creative Connection (Part II)

In Part I of my Creative Connection post I gave an overview of the event in terms of the nuts and bolts of what happened, but there is so much more to it than just the “what.”

Let me start by saying that even though I’d been through Kelly Rae Robert’s “Flying Lessons” going to this event scared the beejeepers out of me. I felt like I was totally out of my league being surrounded by all these accomplished women.

The day before I left it occurred to me that I might need a means of introducing myself, should I be able to open my mouth and actually talk to anyone! So I quickly threw together some “non-business” business cards listing my blog address and e-mail address. They turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!

As it turned out, the very first event of the morning was a “speed-dating” exercise/business card exchange where we were to quickly introduce ourselves and visit w/ someone for a couple of minutes, then off to the next. Each person I handed my card to was very impressed with them, and it wasn’t long before I was feeling completely comfortable.

As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but think, “these are my people…I’m home.”

The morning panel was high-powered and outstanding. They talked about the absolute necessity of having a blog and the benefits of social networking. Since taking Kelly’s class, and having gotten my blog up and running several weeks before, I could follow the conversation easily. The openness and willingness of all the participants to share all they’ve learned in their careers created a very nurturing environment.

By lunch time, I was seeing many familiar faces.

Becky Higgins, from the scrapbook industry, was one of the Keynote speakers. I follow her on Facebook, and it was from one of her FB entries saying that she’d be at the event that caused me to sign up. Prior to that I had purchased Kelly Rae Robert’s Book, and fell in love with her work. She was listed as a participant at TCC, and I ended up signing up to follow her blog. From there, I took her class, and effectively started down a path of renewing my creative journey. Ultimately, it was Becky that got the ball rolling. And this was not the first time her life and mine intersected, although she knew of neither. Once, a long time ago she was pivotal in another more personal life-changing event in my life, and after the lunch, I summoned up the courage to go up, introduce myself, and tell her, through my tears, what her influence had meant to me. I encouraged her to remember when she wondered if all the hard work was worth it, all the lives she touched in such a personal and positive way.

From that point on, my emotions were very close to the surface, and amazingly, most everyone I came into contact with was experiencing it in much the same way. All the speakers had such compelling stories. Most had overcome tremendous adversity to get where they are today, and were so generous in sharing such personal, and sometimes heartbreaking experiences. There were women of all ages, sizes, shapes, colors and backgrounds, all bound together by a need to express themselves creatively.

The result was that a community of incredibly nurturing and supportive women was quickly built. You could feel it in the air. In the blogging arena, it is often said that through blogging you quickly find your tribe, and this was mine.

  Call it a clan

call it a network

 or a tribe, or a family

   Whatever you call it,

     You need one. – Jane Howard

Truer words are seldom spoken.

Each day seemed to top the one before. I can’t tell you how many times during the three day event I heard the words passion, sharing, helping, networking, building, paying it forward. I can tell you that these women all care deeply about their families, their craft, their community. They believe above all else that in helping each other, we help ourselves.

There was no feeling that anyone was “above” anyone else. The “big” people mingled and chatted with everyone. They posed for pictures, signed their books, walked the marketplace, gave words of encouragement. They made each person feel like they were important. I could easily visualize every person there reaching down and pulling up the person below them with one hand, as they reached up with the other to be pulled up themselves…

While I was there, I was able to meet and get to know Linda Barutha and Kris Lanae Binsfeld, two of the women in my “flight class” with Kelly. Both are accomplished artists and amazing women. I also met a new friend, Renee Mak, and it seemed like we’d known each other forever!

Although I was anxious to get home and put all my new-found information and enthusiasm to work, it was hard to say goodbye. I can honestly say I have never been in an environment in which I felt more connected to people I had just met. Never before had I felt so much like I was in exactly the place I needed to be at that precise moment in my life.

Having gone to Creative Connection on the heels of my class with Kelly Rae, I feel like my seriously run down battery has been super-charged. I suspect the feelings of renewal will last a long time, but I am already looking forward to next year and meeting up again with my new “people” as well as adding more.

Thank you Creative Connection, for being just what I needed.

I’ve had a Creative Connection

As a part of my creative journey, I’m searching out ways of surrounding myself with creative women.

Back in June, Becky Higgins, one of the scrapbook superstars I follow on Facebook blogged that she was going to be a keynote speaker at The Creative Connection. So, I followed the link, checked it out, and decided to go. I signed up, made my travel and hotel arrangements months before taking the on-line class that has so inspired me.

Becky Higgins

While taking Kelly Rae Robert’s class, “Taking Flight,” I discovered that 2 of my fellow flyers were going, as well, we made arrangements to get together while we were there.

I’m having a hard time labeling The Creative Connection, the “meeting” I went to this past week. It wasn’t quite a “retreat” in that we didn’t go off into the woods and meditate, but “conference” doesn’t do it justice. It was 3 days of learning, connecting, examining, crafting, sharing, and growing. We ate good food, drank a little wine, laughed and cried. It was at once, illuminating and confusing, energizing, and dare I say it “life changing.”

Today I’ll focus on the “what” of the event, and in the next day or two I’ll go into the emotional aspects, and how it effected me.

We met at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St.Paul MN. My room was on the 16th floor, overlooking the Mississippi River, and I was blown away from the beginning. When I pulled open the curtains, I literally gasped, and ran immediately for my camera!

Jo Packam, Editor of “Where Women Create” and “Where Women Cook” and her team, brought together a powerful group of women to speak, participate in panels, and teach. They were artists, and bloggers, published authors, photographers. Some were young, some older, all at different stages of their careers. They shared stories of how they got to where they are, the challenges they overcame, and what they learned along the way. All were incredibly open, candid, giving and loving. They were up on the stage, but they also mingled with us…signed their books, taught classes on their “craft,” ate with us, treated us as colleagues.

Me, Kelly Rae Roberts and Linda

I am thrilled that Kelly Rae Roberts, Becky Higgins, Traci Bautista, Melody Ross, and Tim Holtz at least held my business card in their hands for a few minutes (they may have gone immediately into the trash, but hey, they HAD them!) And I worked up the courage to hand them to them. Me. A total newbie chicken. That is HUGE.

This year, a new part of the event was the participation of “BlogHer” a network of roughly 2500 women (and a few men who cater to women’s issues) who blog. In their panels on the first day, they discussed the importance of having a blog, gave us tips on increasing our audience, using social networking to launch and support our business, and how to make a living from our blogs. We learned about Search Engine Optimization and the platforms available to us, and they urged us to expand from just Facebook and Twitter to adding Pinterest to Tumblr, as well.

On day two “classes” began, or you could listen to more panels, instead, and participate in Q & As. Since I had never been before, and had just finished Kelly Rae Robert’s on-line biz class, I opted to take classes so I could get a little better idea of where I wanted to go creatively. There were a wide variety to chose from, ranging from altered journals, sewing, mixed media, to knitting and jewelry-making.

My Necklace Project

Linda’s Art Journal Project (with Brave Girl Melody Ross)

Day 3 the “artsy/craftsy classes continued, and added what they called “Mary Jane’s Farm” classes – making cheese, living vegan, baking bread and cupcakes, putting on parties, and more. There was something for everyone.

Each day there was also at least one meal together, sometimes more, during we were treated to speakers giving keynote addresses, got lovely gifts at our place-settings, and had the opportunity to win raffle prizes.

Provocraft provided 50, yeah 50, of their large Expression Cricut machines, and Simplicity gave away a number of sewing machines and accessories. Alas, this was not my lucky trip, but one of my new gal pals won a cricut! It was pretty exciting even vicariously!

Oh, and the food was quite nice for hotel fare. They offered both vegetarian and gluten free options, lovely salads with divine dressings, and the desserts were yummo! We did not go hungry, and didn’t have to supplement much.

Throughout the days there was a time for “pitch/slams” which enabled a select few to “pitch” their ideas for products and books to the industry leaders (Demdaco and Hallmark to name two of them.) In order to participate you had to fill out a fairly short  questionnaire and pay $100.00. This year there were slots that went unfilled, but who knows what that wil look like in the  future. Later I spoke to two gals who participated and they found them very valuable. One said she didn’t feel like her presentation was terribly professional, but they were very kind and made lots of suggestions on how to improve, and even suggested that there was possibly a book to be put together from the information. She came away very excited about the possibilities.

There was also a “marketplace” where vendors (including Kris Lanae-Binsfeld, who got a licensing deal with Demdaco based on her participation last year!) set up their wares. It was fairly expensive to participate ($500 for a small booth which only had about 700 sets of eyes to see it) but, it was good exposure, and the presence of Demdaco, Hallmark and some publishers, including Somerset is of some value. I picked up a few cute little treasures (including one of Kris’ necklaces, which I LOVE!) and a book that has me rethinking the direction I’m going to take (more on that later!)

Kris w/ her 1st customer of the day

At one point Jo Packham suggested that they may not do the event next year. It seemed like there was something emotional going on behind the scenes to which we were not privy (if anyone gets the skinny on that out there in the blogosphere, please let me know!) By the end of the show she said that she had received some”interesting offers” and that perhaps it might happen again. To a person, everyone I talked to was distraught at the possibility of it not happening. I was prepared to leave a deposit on the spot to assure my place. If it happens, and unless life intervenes in some unforeseeable way to keep me from it, I will be there!

So, that’s an overview of the “what.” I will be back, hopefully tomorrow with my perceptions of the greater, even more valuable emotional reaction to the event.

I’ve saved their materials, and lots of notes, so if you have more specific questions about the event, I’ll be happy to share. Either post your questions in the comments or feel free to e-mail me (my address is toward the top of the sidebar) and I’ll get back to you within the day!

Making Progress!

Well, my second collection has gone from the drawing board to the physical world, at least the first three pieces. I haven’t found a fancy gold ring to loop the beads through yet, for the beaded bracelet, but I’m searching. Oh to be able to conjure up things in my mind and have them be a reality!

This set is a bit more elegant than the first. I’m thinking I need to name the collections, but I’m not there yet. Feel free to shout out ideas!

How about “Enchanted Evening” for this one? I can see this being appropriate for a night out on the town, decked out in mostly black with accents of gold, with a pair of killer shoes…Ooooh, I have just the perfect pair! I bought them right before I broke my ankle and they’ve been sitting there taunting me ever since.

(Any of you who are following me on “pinterest” know by now, I have a bit of a shoe fetish, and in addition to lusting for the ones in photos, I actually own a few pair I just love…)

Anyway, back to the jewelry…

The tri-layered necklace continues to be my favorite style. One or two strands just doesn’t feel like enough to me, and I love the combination of of a metal strand with a few beads, one with a long dangle, and a strand of beads.

I’m also very fond of the lampwork beads as the focal point.

The earrings duplicate the pendant on the necklace.

The bracelet has elements from the necklace attached charm-style to a metal base laced with satin ribbon.

My daughter-in-law was over this morning and modeled the necklaces. That was the first time I saw them on anyone but myself, and I’m getting excited at the prospect of seeing them around town! If I do say so myself they looked beautiful on her! She volunteered to wear them to work for me as a marketing strategy…isn’t she a sweetie? She wants one in greens and browns! Ummm…Santa?

This afternoon I’m back in the studio and will be working on a new collection in taupe and silver, so if you get a chance stop by in a day or two and check it out.

Remembering 9/11

I was sleeping when the first tower was hit. My son, who was in the Army and stationed in Germany, called to tell us to turn the t.v. on. My husband was in the other room already watching the coverage, but at that time, there was much confusion and it wasn’t clear how or why a plane had plowed into the building, and he hadn’t yet thought it momentous enough to wake the sleeping grizzly bear (I’m not a morning person!)

It wasn’t long before the second plane hit and we knew it was no accident. We watched in horror with the rest of the country as the first, then second tower collapsed. The rest is history.

I always knew that some day I would want to see the area in person, but living on the West Coast, the opportunity to visit the site was never a possibility until last year. I met a woman in 2008, on an on-line political site where we each blogged, and we became friends. In mid 2010 she offered up a vague invitation to be a tour guide for some of us on the site should we ever find ourselves in NYC, and I brazenly e-mailed her and asked if she would put me up for a few nights if I flew out. She accepted my invitation, and the date was set for mid-October. She began planning our visit, sending me tons of links to peruse. I LOVED that what she was suggesting was an “insider’s” view of NYC, hitting the “need to see” things, but peppered with things people who don’t live there wouldn’t know about. I  was so excited!

I arrived in the late evening, and we stayed up till 5am visiting and sharing stories, then finally going to sleep for a few hours before venturing out. Our first stop was to a darling coffee shop in Manhattan for a leisurely breakfast, followed by the ‘Burlington Coat Factory” of Ground Zero controversy (and it seriously does not feel like part of Ground Zero!) and then off to Ground Zero itself.

I had spent a bit of time thinking about what it would feel like, and believe me when I say I hadn’t come anywhere close in my mind. As we got nearer, I felt more and more shaky, my throat constricting…goose bumps on my arms. We were strangely quiet as we walked the blocks around the fenced-in area, only able to see in at scattered spots.

There was a small memorial museum set up near the corner where the decimated fire house was, right near Liberty St.

The 1st thing to make me gasp was a very realistic photo of the remains of an American flag found on the site. The tears were beginning to well up. As we watched a video on the wall, they silently began to fall.

It wasn’t until we rounded the corner to the wall of “photos of the lost” that I fell apart. We stood there with our arms around each other, comforting each other as best we could through our sobs.

After a bit we regained our composure and worked our way through the rest of the museum, and on to the wall of the fire house now housing a beautiful bronze memorial. My friend very wisely then steered me to Battery Park on the banks of the Hudson River…a beautiful, green area with paths leading you right down to the water, the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. It was the perfect place for quiet reflection and “decompressing” after the emotional visit to Ground Zero. Her thoughtfulness in knowing just what I would need will forever be intertwined with my remembrances of 9/11.

This is my first year of having a really personal attachment to the date. I mean, as an American I always felt the loss of the people, and the anger at our country having been attacked. But it was compartmentalized somehow. In some way I was a bit detached from the reality of it all. The anniversary coming up didn’t cause me to relive the hurt each year.  But having been there, having seen the gaping hole where giant buildings used to be, and two whole walls full of pictures of the people who died there…  That’s now changed.

Probably forever.

The Vision Is Taking Shape

I have so many different interests when it comes to art that it is hard to imagine focusing on just one. But I want to have a cohesive brand…something that ties all my interests together. I think that is why I settled on Tattered ‘n Worn…it’s not any certain product, but a “feeling” that can be captured in many different art forms. It will allow me to do home decor, jewelry, accessories, fabric art…I’ll be able to add in antiques and/or vintage finds, and literally create an entire shop of my own, with a wide variety of products that work together.

This is a format probably best suited to craft shows or a brick and mortar store, but I’m going to try to do it on-line, in a virtual store, creating vignettes of multiple products…my mind is just swirling with ideas.

So, I’ve actually begun putting together some product, starting with a line of jewelry. I have rather eclectic taste in jewelry. I like mixing metal and beads, glass and jewels. And so my concept of Tri-layer necklaces with matching earrings and different styles of bracelets was born. I’m a heart collector, so hearts are my first theme.

The necklace features a

heart-shaped lampwork bead,

glass beads, two styles of metal

chain, and metal hearts.

The matching earrings duplicate the lampwork hearts, glass beads, chain and metal hearts.

The collection is rounded out with two different styles of bracelets…elastic beads, and a charm style.

There are many more themes and styles on the drawing board, and will be available in my Etsy store soon. If you have suggestions for themes you’d like to see me add, please let me know!

Scootchin’ Outta That Comfort Zone

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m taking a creative business class at the moment. Kelly Rae Roberts, my favorite artist on the planet is teaching the on-line class “Flight Lessons.” I have 300+ classmates, my fellow fledglings, who are on this journey, trying to figure out how we fit into this artistic community. Some have leaped out of the nest, and are already accomplished artists, looking to kick their businesses up to the next level. Others of us are still sitting on the edge trying to find our niche before we leap.

I’m in the 2nd group, even though I’ve had a fairly successful creative business in the past. The times have changed, styles have changes…my medium is changing, and that has thrown me into chaos, revisiting all the same fears that I felt 30 years ago. Will anyone like what I’m doing enough to part with their hard-earned money to own it, especially in this economic environment? Will I fall flat on my face this time? What if I’m successful, and can’t find the time to balance the success with my family life? What if, what if, what if?

Yesterday I went to my favorite antique mall, roaming around looking for things that are on my “I need” list…a few plates and bowls I’d like to glue together for a garden sculpture, some bashed in old cake pans to make a storage piece for my round plastic cases (I’ve designed it, but haven’t found the components yet.) I didn’t find anything on my list, but I did pick up a couple of display pieces. DISPLAY PIECES FOR WHAT, EXACTLY, didn’t occur to me until I got them home. “Seriously, Janet,” I asked myself, “display WHAT?” I mean, I don’t even know yet what product I’ll be making, yet alone what I need to display it on. I was bouncing this craziness off my classmates, when it struck me…I am COMFORTABLE with display. It’s what I know, inside out, upside down and backwards. I have not yet achieved that comfort level with “product.”

WOW! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. And you know what? I’ve been telling myself that taking a class is not a commitment to actually start a business. Going to The Creative Connection (a women’s business conference) is not a commitment to start a business. They are both just ways to investigate what would happen if…exploring the possibilities.

I could try to make myself believe that. But, its not true. I didn’t register for TCC or take Kelly Rae’s class to explore a thing. I did it because this is what I want. I’ve been looking for a way back into the creative life. I doubt I’ll ever have a storefront again. At least not one I own myself. Maybe a co-op. Maybe an Etsy store, perhaps a craft show here and there. But whatever it is, it will take stepping out of my comfort zone again. I had more courage when I was younger. But I can do this.

Now, if you’ve seen the Disney movie “Tangled.” you’ll remember the scene where Rapunzel leaves the tower and has a melt down…one minute she’s so glad to be free, the next she feels like a terrible person…back and forth, back and forth. Well, I think I’ve got some of those days ahead of me. One minute I’ll have a clear sense of direction and purpose, the next I’ll be asking myself what the heck I’m thinking, then confident, back to scared…

I saw another saying recently, “Just leap, and build your wings on the way down.”

So this is my commitment to myself. I’m going to leap, not scootch. When I’m tempted to be afraid, and I will be, I am going to be fearless.  And I’ll build my wings on the way down. I will leave my comfort zone and LIVE. I am going to fly.

It’s going to be so much fun to see where I land! Hope you’ll come along.

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