Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Incline

The Incline
A few days ago I did something I've been working towards for a year, I climbed the Manitou Incline. This picture doesn't really do it justice, here's a description: "The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, as steep as 68% in places, making it a fitness challenge for locals in the Colorado Springs area. The incline gains over 2,000 feet (610 m) of elevation in less than one mile." It was difficult and I thought about giving up a few times along the way.

The actual trail, what was I thinking?
Once we got to the top I was tired but happy and quite proud of myself. My son took my picture to document my achievement.

View from the top.
Later, when I was looking at the pictures, instead of thinking "wow, how awesome was that!" I thought "wow, I look fat". Ever since I was in my twenties and I was in a car wreck that broke half my face I have not let people take pictures of me often. My muscles in one side of my face don't work well and I think I look funny in pictures. I also suffer from low self esteem, I've been working on that but the picture thing is still an issue, I never think I look perfect enough. Friday, after making my climb, I started to realize just how silly that was. Thousands of normal people post pictures of themselves every day, no big deal, I decided I would do the same. I posted my picture on my personal and business Facebook pages.

45 years in the making.
For most people this may seem like a small thing, but for me it was actually a lot harder than climbing The Incline, every time I see it I cringe a little inside, but I keep it up. Nothing horrible has happened, in fact, I think it's helping me to gain some more confidence in myself, I'm me, a normal person and I look like a normal person. People still love me, I have friends, my dog thinks I'm awesome, I don't need to look like a super model. I actually think, for a 45 year old in full blown menopause and no thyroid, maybe I don't look too bad at all.

What have you done lately that has taken you out of your comfort zone? It doesn't have to be a huge, life changing thing, maybe it can be something as small as posting a picture, maybe the small things can be pretty life changing after all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

First Snow

Most people who know me know I have a very cool Siberian Husky named Klondike. He's my best friend and brings a lot of joy to my life and hopefully I do the same for him. I walk him first thing every morning before I do anything else. He's very patient with me, lately I've been really busy and he doesn't complain about it, except for an occasional, loud sigh. I'm one of those people that's always in a hurry and rushing to do something, especially this holiday season. My business ended up being much busier than I expected and I've been kind of a maniac. Klondike, on the other hand, likes to take his walk in the morning and enjoy the start of the day at a little slower pace. He especially loves to smell flowers, his favorite are roses, he even likes to smell the bush when there are no flowers. This makes our morning walks interesting because I'm always trying to rush and he's always trying to stop and smell the roses. Eventually I realize that I'm being silly and whatever is waiting for me at home can wait a while longer, it's not going anywhere. So we slow down and enjoy the morning, smelling roses and watching birds and chasing squirrels, it ends up being very relaxing and starts my day on a positive note, probably helping me get all my stuff done more efficiently in the long run.

My point? This time of year it seems like everyone is running around in a hurry and rushing to get things done and getting pretty stressed out and grumpy. Maybe take a page from Klondike's book and slow down and smell the roses, it might help lessen the grumpiness a little.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giving Thanks

Yachats, Oregon

I haven't posted in awhile, sometimes I just run out of ideas. I was walking my dog the other day and I started thinking about all the people I've met over the last year and a half. After living in Santa Maria, California for about 15 years I left and lived in Oregon for about six months, now I'm in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I realized I have met a lot of very kind and interesting people.

Since November is a month for giving thanks I have decided to do a series of blog posts about the people I've met and why I'm thankful for them. Some will be longer than others, some will be quite short as the person passed briefly through my life. I'm not going to name names, I'm just going to talk about the person and what they did.

When I was in Portland, Oregon I had a hard time finding a job (never did manage that) and an affordable place to live. I ended up living in some really inexpensive motel rooms that allowed dogs. One in particular I lived in for a couple of months. I didn't have much money and the only way I had to cook was with a really tiny, old microwave. This place was so awesome someone was shot and killed right outside my door.

I was lonely, and depressed and hungry and lacking in a balanced diet. My neighbor, who rented a little, room next to me worked weird hours so I hardly saw him, his room actually had a kitchen and I think he lived there for several years. One day when I was coming back from walking my dog my neighbor was going back to his room and he started talking to me about the shooting. that was the first time we spoke. I saw him a few days later and he invited me and Klondike over for dinner, I accepted. Mind you, no one that lived there had much money, and most were pretty down on their luck. Klondike and I went over that evening and my neighbor had made us celery with peanut butter as appetizers. He then fed us a simple, but really good and healthy dinner, the first I had in a long time. He invited us in and Klondike immediately made himself at home on his bed, he's rude like that. It turns out this very kind person was quite ill, he has aids, he use to be a former drug attic and he has quite a few health problems. We went over for dinner quite a few times after that, my neighbor was really nice, he watched out for us and made sure we didn't starve even though, arguably, he was worse off than we were. I don't know what happened to him but I will always remember him and be thankful he came into our lives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DIY Jewelry Wall Displays

I have agreed to do a consignment deal with a coffee shop in a nearby town that gets a lot of tourists. It's actually as part of an artist's collective. I like the people and it seems like it could be a good opportunity. The only problem was I had to make my own display that would hang on the wall. I'm not particularly "crafty", sure I make jewelry and I use to draw and paint every day (may get back into that eventually) but I don't make crafts or do it yourself projects. Luckily my daughter in law helped, thank you Amber.

I decided to do it as kind of a simple do it yourself blog post after being inspired by my friend Mako who has been making some really cool DIY videos on YouTube. You should check out her Facebook page and Etsy shop.

Ok so here we go. I decided since I have three distinctive styles of jewelry I would get three picture frames. We went to a local thrift store and found these:

Ugly, but cheap. I got some gold spray paint and painted them as is with the pictures and mats still in them. I thought they would turn out solid gold but the paint reacted strangely with the pictures and came out with some interesting patterns which I like a lot better than solid anyway. Here's how they look all painted:

They first one I worked on was for my wine cork necklaces. I needed a way to hang them on the frame so I cut up some wine corks and glued them on. It turned out really well. I painted a clear plastic business card holder I had and stuck it on as well so people can take a card if they want. Notice how the paint is splotchy? Not intended but it looks like I did it on purpose.

Next I did one for my steampunk necklaces. We had bought some gear charms to add to the frame to add some interest. I really like this one also. Once again the way the center and mat turned out was not intentional but it sure looks like it was.

The third frame was for my industrial earrings. I'm not as crazy about this one, but I wanted to get this done and in the shop so I could start selling. When I think of something better I will redo it. I took this frame and some wire I use for wire wrapping and strung it across.

Here they all are on the wall:

I'm really pleased with how it turned out, especially since this was my first try at something like this. It only took a few hours, including drying time and it cost about $20.00 total. Not too bad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Pricing Debate

It seems like a lot of people who make things for a living have difficulty with pricing. I've had several things happen over the last week or so that has brought this to the front of my mind. There is so much more to setting a price for your items than just the supplies and your time. There is what's called a "perceived value" and I think that's what's confusing for a lot of people.

A ring was found recently that belonged to Jane Austin. It is being auctioned off for a great deal of money. It's just a simple gold band with a plain blue stone made in the style of that time. Someone was wondering why it would be worth so much when he had a piece of jewelry that had diamonds and rubies and fancy gold work that was worth a fraction of what they were asking for, for Jane Austin's ring. I replied that there is more to what a piece of jewelry is worth than just the materials made to use it. That ring is a piece of history, as a long time reader and fan of Jane Austin I would happily pay for it if I had the money. To me it is priceless.

I have a storage unit in Santa Maria that has some furniture I don't particularly care about and personal items. I didn't get the bill for it last month and I forgot to pay for it. So they decided they were going to auction off my things. I called the place and they were really quite rude. I hung up in tears and thought why fight it? I'm so tired of fighting for everything. Then I realized my parent's ashes, every picture I've ever taken of my son and more very personal items are in there. Not worth anything to anyone else but priceless to me. I was able to come up with the money to get caught up at the expense of possibly paying my rent this month.

I could go on with the examples but I think those two show what I'm getting at. You can look at something you made and say, it's not worth much because I made it. Someone else can look at it and think it's the most wonderful, unique thing they've seen and it could end up being priceless to them. It could make people happy, bring them joy, remind them of something wonderful, become a family heirloom. I'm not saying to gouge people or anything, but certainly, if you make something of quality with good materials that you put your all into it is worth more than materials and time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life is a Roller Coaster

I've been on Etsy for about a year and a half now. I enjoy reading the forums and sometimes even enjoy arguing with people on them. Etsy has made some big changes lately and with them there have been lots of people on the forums moaning and bitching because things should never change evidently.

This got me to thinking and reminded me of a job a got right out of college. The job itself isn't important but they had a welcome aboard meeting when I first started. One of the speakers likened the job to a roller coaster. Where there will be lots of ups and downs and you could choose to hang on scared to death wishing it would end or you could throw your hands up in the air and enjoy the ride

That has always stuck with me. I think it holds true with life as well as business and all the changes that come with both. When there is a change or setback you can sit around and moan about it or you can figure out a way to make it work for you. Which would you rather spend your energy on?

Here's an example. Etsy just rolled out a new wedding section. Now a lot of the wedding sellers are crying because it killed their business. I've been steadily growing my business for the last year. I've already made more this year than I did all of 2011. I want to do more though so I'm always trying to think of new ways to do that. I'm not normally a wedding seller but I have some items I think would work well as bridesmaids gifts. So I made a couple of listings and put them in weddings and guess what? I'm getting a lot of views from it, no sales, but I am optimistic. I made the new wedding section work for me.

So next time you're faced with a big change or a big set back take a second to be upset about it, then sit down and figure out how you can make it work for you. You never know, it might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Pinterest is really taking off. If you haven't heard of it you probably will soon. Basically what it is, is a website where you can "pin" things you find on the internet that you think are interesting. You can make idea boards for cooking, jewelry, whatever makes you happy. I like it because I bookmark a lot of things and I can pin them instead and not have hundreds of bookmarks.

There is controversy brewing though. I've read a lot of forum and blog posts from other artisans that are concerned about their ideas being stolen or copied. I guess that's a valid concern but once you put something out for public consumption, be it on the internet or in a store or gallery you are opening yourself up to copycats. The only way you aren't is by never letting people see your work. I just finished one of my mini-robots in a glass vial.

I posted it on Pinterest. Technically I guess you aren't supposed to pin your own work but I think that's kind of dumb, they are my boards, but whatever, that's a whole different subject. My mini-robots are cool so this guy is getting a lot of repins and likes. Which I think is awesome. The more the merrier. Now some of the boards people are pinning it to are titled things like: Things I Have to Make, Ideas I Might Try, etc. Does that bother me? No. Why you might ask. These are really hard to make for one thing, they can take anywhere from a few days to a week to a month depending on the complexity. Plus they are really small and that makes it even harder. I also figure that the more pins and likes one of my items get the more people see it and the more potential customers I get. Win win. If someone else wants to make one they probably aren't a potential customer anyway, more power to them. So what do you guys think about people pinning your work?