I have been silent lately...my artistic rhythm is all out of whack as I learn new skills and have to put glass on hold. The learning curve has been steeper than I expected...but when I go back to how long it took me to learn glass, it's not surprising. Lori Anderson of Pretty Things is doing a year-long blog project called An Artist's Year Off to challenge herself and grow creatively. I think I've been forced to grow by circumstances. It's more challenging than I expected. I want to have objects to the level of quality I was just starting to reach with my glass. I've still been creating...but I'm back to stringing and wire work for now.
In the meantime, I've been getting new books to try out some new mediums. Which leads me to one of my book reviews...Cynthia Thornton's Enchanted Adornments. I have to say, I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised at the breadth of techniques covered in this book. It has removed some of the intimidation I was having with clay (polymer or silver). I was expecting jewelry ideas, but she totally exceeded my expectations by covering the techniques way back to the fabrication of the components with silver clay, polymer clay, and creating molds for creating repeat pieces (I've been needing this!). I've skimmed the book twice already and can't wait to read it in depth.
Millie at AMMJewelry has already posted some of her results with one of Cynthia's projects. I'm excited to see what other people are trying.
As for me, I did manage to snaggle up a whole bunch of clay at a going out of business sale. I have been playing with blending. I have no clay conditioning machine, so everything is being done by hand. I'm learning quite a bit. I had some beads and buttons I was starting to like. But. I have no oven. I was considering getting a small oven or at least a toaster oven, but I'm waiting to see if I'm going to stay here in Hong Kong. (May be moving back to the States due to constant migraines here.) So. I thought I'd settled on brilliant solution to use my kiln. It might have worked if I had remembered to do the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion. Them clay things were burnt to a crisp. And it was a toxic burnt mess...open windows, fans blowing (at least I have my squirrel fan from my lampworking to help vent). So. Learn from my mistake! Make sure you pay attention to the temperature!!! I'll try to play with some more blends to show you what I'm coming up with. I don't know if I should even try using my kiln again or just play. If anyone has any feedback on whether I can use my kiln (as long as it's set to the right temp), I'd appreciate the feedback. I really miss being able to use components created completely by me and wanted to use some of the buttons in my jewelry.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My adventures in bargain hunting began by accident. I'm still discovering where to find odd bits and bites of crafty things as well as quality home accent items. Big box stores such as Britain's B&Q and Australia's Spotlight were tried. And failed. Bix box stores are NOT a hit in Hong Kong. However, the box store in the throes of failure is a gold mine for the Hong Kong bargain hunter. It means mega-discounts on quality merchandise.
Which leads me to a sad little aside about the demise of Spotlight. It was a home decor store with high-thread count sheet sets that included a fitted sheet that actually fit your bed. Not some scratchy monstrosity from Ikea that parades as a pseudo-fitted-but-is-really-just-a-flat-sheet-with-an-attempt-at-pockets. This thing will have you wrapped up as a mummy by the morning. They have real air tight containers that protect your food from mold and critters...unlike the cheap plastic rice bins that appeared to be air tight. Not. They also have a very, very modest craft section. Nothing like a Hobby Lobby or Michael's. But, I've been making do with being able to find some things I need/want.
My big idea yesterday was to pick up a few bars of Sculpey polymer clay to get to know the properties of working with the freedom of clay, how to blend colors, etc. I was planning on 10, maybe 15 bars of colors.
I tracked my way to the store and found the shelves nearly empty. I moved toward where the Sculpey had been kept past a line that was 500 feet long that was beginning to wrap around back on to itself. I thought...no way. If I don't find the Sculpey, I'm out of here. But, I did find the Sculpey. It was 75% off. My 15 bars morphed into 53. Oops. I got in line. In about 10 minutes I found how heavy 53 bars of clay are. About 20 minutes in I spied a nice craft bag to start toting the clay. We inched past the yarn section. I had the opportunity to read the contents and picked up some nice skeins of bamboo/soya, recycled cotton/acrylic, cotton, and bamboo/cotton. Some dreamy new yarns I've been dying to try. I'm unfortunately still in scarfland, but my latest scarf is moving it up a notch...it's a waffleknit that will be a gift for a friend who adores purple. I managed to restrain myself from more yarn and more pillows.
While in line, I notice a guy in front me with nothing to buy. I figure it out. His mom stuck him in line to hold a spot while she shopped. During the hour and a half in line before I check out, I was bumped thousands of times. It's common when your personal space zone is much smaller and you share the crowded space with so many people. People are generally exceedingly patient with the constant bumping. It takes a lot to annoy a local with your pushing. However, I managed to mildly annoy the guy in front of me (the one with nothing to buy) as I loaded up my new bag. (What could I do? I was hemmed into a tight space in the line and no one was moving...actually, I was constantly being bumped from behind and the side as people walked past. This is where retractable elbows would be a great invention.) Also, I learned you couldn't even wander off the line in any way (I got distracted with some pretty yarn) as your space would immediately be slurped up by the person hovering behind you. I used my ignorance to slide back into the space I never really vacated.
I learned some tricks from the masters of the bargain hunt.
- Hunt in pairs. A family pack is even more preferrable. One to get in line immediately and the others are left to shop while the queue inches forward. (Like the guy in front of me who was a plant by his mom.) I was able to observe the dynamics of this tactic. Mom and Dad would occasionally show up and claim the space while the other family members continued their shopping. Eventually it was just the dad in line and even he was summoned by a phone call and left the line a mere two people away from the cashier!
- Which leads to learning another trick: split the family members into as many lines as possible to see who gets to the front first. The winner calls the other family members to their winning line.
- Partners in crime can keep you stocked with food and drink, if you haven't already packed your own food and drink. They can hold your place in line should you need to dash to the restroom. They can also hold your place while you shop for even MORE bargains. And a folding, portable stool is also nice. Especially if you wait for an hour and a half.
I waited in line for one hour and a half. .... At least. I refused to look at my watch after a certain point to just ignore the amount of time it took. I prefer to remain generally ignorant or think it was an hour and a half. If it was more, I wouldn't know. I don't want to know.
But I survived my first Bargain Hunt in Hong Kong. I have some more digesting to do to determine if I've become wiser or just more averse to shopping.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The first one is a copper watch with copper byzantine chain maille, dyed cultured pearls, dyed turquoise roundels, Swarovski crystal, copper, and carnelian.
This a silver plated watch face with Argentium silver in a barrel weave.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I seem to be running low on steam these days...I'm kind of trapped between styles and jewelry mediums, so as I'm wending my way into the art clay, I thought I'd experiment with some styles inspired by the new books I bought. This is going to be the first in a series of book reviews I plan on doing over the next few months.
When I was back in the US, I loaded up on visual eye candy. One of them was this book. Now. I probably wouldn't have purchased this book if I didn't have the opportunity to pick it up and peruse through it's pretty pages. After all, I started with stringing and moved on to other techniques pretty quickly. However, I went ahead and purchased this book because it had loads of fabulous ideas that included stringing and then some. I've learned stringing, wire-wrapping, and chain maille and this book gave me some ideas about combining all of those techniques in a single piece.
The result? Beautiful autumnal shades in coppers, greens, and carnelians. This piece combines barrel weave chain maille, copper chain, irregular sizes of copper loops using some ideas from chain maille, wooden rounds, carnelian roundels, citrine roundels, dyed cultured pearls, some of the first lampwork beads I ever bought from Grace Ma, and one of my own floral disks dangling in front of small sterling silver ropes for a splash of interest (as if it wasn't already interesting enough). The Grace beads are the ones I re-worked from one of my early pieces. This was is a keeper. As in...I think I'm keeping it for myself! (I couldn't resist wearing it today to give it a try...it was winking at me this morning...)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Actually, my camera is deep-fried frizzled. It's something I'm finding is happening with all of my US electronics. US is 120v and it's 220v here in HK. I have been using a converter for my camera battery and it was working for a while and now it's not anymore. My camera recharged just fine when I was in the US, but I've returned and now it's not cooperating. I've missed photographing two of my friends weddings. (But the digital age has allowed me to still have access to their pictures.) I've been trying to photograph my latest batch of jewelry and I haven't even been able to get one or two photos.
Finally, I have an alternate camera. I just need to get used to it. I don't like it as much as my other camera, but it's good enough.
So...just to keep things interesting here is some eye-candy. I need to take better pictures before I upload to my shop. If you're interested in any of the pieces, just email me. I'll upload to my shop later this week after I have some better photos.
Barrel Weave Earrings with Swarovski Crystal - $28
Super-fine delicate chain maille weave in 22-guage wire. The rings and the posts are in Argentium silver (more tarnish-resistant). Approximately 1" in length.
Barrel Weave Bracelet with Swarovski Crystal - $49
Super-fine delicate chain maille weave in 22-guage wire. The rings are in Argentium silver (more tarnish-resistant). Currently sized at 7.5" but can re-sized to fit your wrist. (Really! It's no problem...I enjoyed customizing the fit.)
Double Ring Chain Maille Earrings with Siam Swarovski Crystal - $28
Super-fine delicate chain maille weave in 22-guage wire. The rings and the posts are in Argentium silver (more tarnish-resistant). Approximately 1" in length.
Fine Silver Organic Heart Charm - $8
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I have taken a lot of buses and taxis in the year I have lived in Hong Kong. Most drivers are more concerned with the conditions of the road than with the passengers slithering off their seats or plastered to the windows. Oh. Wait. Apparently, I'm the only one that does that.
I cannot be critical about driving here because I will never even attempt it...England. Me. Stone wall. Flat tire. There is no such thing as the open road or wide open spaces. Ah, for the open roads of Texas, Alaska, Canada, or the western states. I have driven in New York City, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and Paris when it's bumper-to-bumper traffic, so I understand you just need to do what you need to do.
To give you a picture: driving is left-sided on the pieces of rock that sprout out of the ocean. Street and real estate space are at a prime, so as much as possible is shoehorned onto anything that is potentially buildable or driveable. As engineering advances, previously unbuildable areas are claimed for expansion. In the meantime, skyscrapers, 7-8 million people, buses, trams, taxis, lorries/trucks, motorcycles, cars, scooters, and an occasional bicycle all vie to share space.
Floods of people crest the sidewalk rivers that are only 0.25 people wide. As people spill into the streets, taxis will whiz by, honking at the pedestrians. On a side note, I have observed that taxis don't stop for locals. However, they do stop for visitors. Locals hear a horn and smoothly return to walking on the sidewalk. Visitors have a dazed, shell-shocked look about them so the drivers deign to stop.
Double-decker bus drivers are pretty amazing, driving in these narrow, cramped streets or on winding, hairpin mountain roads. I hated driving my dad's truck with the fishing boat in light traffic on open roads so it boggles my mind that they are able to handle these massive vehicles in such tight spaces drowning in pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Then, if you sit in the "suicide seats" (the front window seats above the driver), you get a good view of everything going on. Including when you stop 2 inches from the bus in front of you. Oh yeah. That's fun to do to visitors. Those seats are usually available, too.
Because of the screech-and-peel nature of traffic and careening around hairpin corners, I am usually slithering off the seat onto the floor, plastered to a window, flattening fellow passengers into a people pancake stack (maple syrup anyone?), or wrenching my back with a four-point death grip on the fixed parts of the vehicle. Even when I am seatbelted into a taxi, because the seats are vinyl, I have insight into what cereal packaging means when it says "contents may have settled" as I am jostled into a stranglehold by the seatbelt in a nearly horizontal heap on the floor.
I am convinced people who live here go somewhere to have Velcro installed to secure themselves to their seat and a Weeble mechanism in their legs to keep themselves upright and from rocking into fellow passengers. Case in point, I came home on a bus with the proceeds of shopping. As I stood up to prepare to be spewed into the street as the bus lurched to a stop, I readied myself in my four-point death grip by setting my basket on the bus floor. In the process of suspending myself like a spider in my bus web, my watch popped off. I just figured I would scoop the watch up as I was stumbling out of the bus. However, there was a lady in front of me with three shopping bags, a purse and her office bag. She managed to steady herself with her burden and reach down to pick up my watch while the bus heaved to a stop. Oh yeah. She was that good. And I need to figure out where that Velcro/Weeble store is.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thank you, everyone for the comments! It helps me overcome my fears with silver clay. :-)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I finally overcame my fear of the silver clay. I figured out the fear came from not wanting to mess up the expensive clay. So, I practiced on some copper clay first and got some ideas about what I wanted to do. I need some additional materials for firing the copper and bronze clays, so further play will have to wait. My work is still a bit organic, but I was quite happy with the charm on the left...a stylized version of my four-petal simple florals. The right charm was meant to be much more organic. The winner can choose the charm and the remaining charm will be available for $10 in my Artfire shop after the giveaway.
The Simple Floral Charm/Pendant is 0.75 inch and the Organic Textured Heart is nearly 1 inch long.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
My Year in Review
Then: I landed and lived in a village on one of the outlying islands, Lantau, until this past August. It was a great transition for someone who prefers small-town/country living to transition to big city life. I do miss village living...the croak of frogs, the chirp of crickets, and riding my bike with Molly in the basket. (I don't miss the VLR.)
Now: I live on an inner island in Aberdeen Harbour. While I can officially confirm that I am an un-urban girl, I do appreciate the convenience of living in the city and am challenging myself to experiment with urban themes over the next year.
Then: a major addiction to iced coffee, cola, chocolate, and all things sweet
Now: I drink hot water...plain...to warm up or just because. I love an evening brew of honey, ginger, and lemon steeped in hot water...soothing, refreshing, good for digestion. I'm down to one cola per week or every other week, chocolate has been nearly eliminated (migraine trigger), and my overall sweet intake is reduced.
Then: I used to hold out a fistful of coins and the store clerks would pick out the correct change.
Now: I know my money without having to read every single coin.
Then: Iced coffee and random breakfast things from the ubiquitous Starbucks
Now: Milk tea and a bun from the ubiquitous local bakeries
Wanchai Food Market
Then: Arriving with two suitcases, sleeping on the floor until furniture arrived. I'm getting old and could only tolerate sleeping on the floor for two nights before I had to upgrade to a cot. Moving with two suitcases made me realize how little I really need. I had sold my house and possessions and stripped down to a little bit more than necessities. I enjoyed this process of simplifying and unattaching myself from “stuff.”
Now: A cozily furnished flat, but I have retained this lesson of simplicity. I actually work at not buying things. If I do consider buying something, it is with careful consideration as to where it will fit. I like the simplicity a small residence enforces.
Then: a neighbor cat volunteered herself as a temporary pet by showing up for an evening cuddling before we had to return her to real mama
Now: Resident Maltese, Molly, presiding...cuddling is doled out at a Molly-rate...whatever she feels is appropriate...or if I can catch her
Then: ducking and weaving around people and feeling like I'm playing a game of Constant Chicken while applying American rhythm to walking in Hong Kong
Now: I've tapped into a well of patience I didn’t know existed in me and have learned the rhythm of walking in crowds. Except for teenagers. Last week, I got walked into a truck by a teenage boy. I expressed multi-cultural disapproval with an Aiya! (Chinese) and mean glare (American). As I alluded to in the opening, flaws...such as my impatience...are exposed. I do have a sneaking suspicion that teenagers think they live in an alternate dimension. However, since they still exist with the rest of us, I must dig a little deeper this well of patience.
Then: walking through a pair of shoes in two months and having my parents send me shoes from the US.
Now: Finding shoes in a store near work that fit and I can actually walk comfortably in.
Then: as a language learner (Mandarin), I know I have had two conversations going on at the same time. No, not the kind you have with girls who have multiple conversation tracks in their head. The kind where the person you are talking to has one conversation, and me--entirely misunderstanding the gist of the conversation--has a very different conversation.
Now: I think I might be down to 1.5 conversations. I'm understanding conversational Mandarin a little better. But sometimes can wander off on my own track.
The Overall Transition
Then: Lastly, here were some observations I wrote to some family and friends regarding culture shock.
Learning humility from a new angle
This is another reason I like getting older...I'm starting to "get" things I've known intellectually but not with depth of personal understanding. Having moved around in the US, has exposed me to some of the subtleties of adapting to a new culture. Moving across the world has exposed me to the dramatics of adapting to a new culture.
To sum up my lesson: It's a test of humility to change things about yourself when you think it's silly or inconvenient to change. But, you change out of love for your local community and willingness to be more compatible and acceptable in your new community. It's also a test of humility to resist the urge to change your new neighbors when they say or do things that seem weird, strange, or "wrong" to you. It's not automatically wrong. It's just different.
Which leads me to some thoughts on Culture Shock. I've been asked many times about what I am adjusting to here. Well, everything. I mean everything. I think that is where the shock comes in. Even the most adventurous of us are creatures of habit. The sum of our personal being is the collection of our experiences. We learn new things by layering life experiences on top of each other. When something becomes familiar and comfortable, our brain begins filtering the familiar and processing it through the unconscious sides of our brain.
When you move to a new culture, it's like becoming a child again...your mind is flooded with conscious sensations. Then because everything is processing through the conscious and your unconscious is twiddling its thumbs, your system becomes unbalanced, begins to overheat, and overloads. Culture shock. (Or frizzling.)
I was reminded of a class I took about communication. We use a model that basically says everyone has a frame of reference from which they operate...in other words, we all have our own personal pictures through which we interpret the world. Problems occur when the frames of reference are not aligned or the pictures in our heads are different. What I have found with crossing cultures is our frames of reference are completely different. Even our thought patterns are different. I have yet to find something in the Chinese culture, language, and thought process that overlaps frames of reference I grew up with.
Now: These observations are still true...but, with sheer repetition, the environment begins layering its own experiences on top of previous experiences and form their own frame of reference. I realized I had become comfortable with my new environment as I was hosting a visitor new to Hong Kong. I was walking at a fast clip with the ease of someone who is familiar to the environment...get off at this bus stop, walk on the right side of walk, measure my pace to the rhythm of the crowd, the crosswalk is blinking and I know when you can still cross the street or when it's wiser to wait for the next light, I look the correct direction for traffic, I can point out the bus stops and which buses lead back home, and know generally where to find what you need. Yes. Hong Kong is making inroads into my subconcious and breeding familiarity.
I feel there is still so much to explore and learn. But, it's fun to look back and realize I have learned much, I'm finding familiar things...hey, I'm just finding things! The tender roots of transplantation are spreading, growing, and finding firmer ground one year later.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Learning to be flexible has been a hard-earned lesson I've learned in the last few years. My natural inclination has been to be decisive, organized, and planned. Generally, this is a good thing. Except in social situations where flexibility is a better quality to have. In my 20's, I worked on this decisiveness by saying, "I plan to be spontaneous" (for real...you decisive people know exactly what I mean) and mentally prepared to be flexible to the preferences of other people when it came to choices of activities, restaurants, and general "where do we go next?" However, work and life have trained me to integrate flexibility into my life overall...am I going on this trip, not going on this trip...moving across the world, not moving across the world...when am I moving...when am I taking this trip...when is this project going to complete. The planning side is still there. But, now I prepare for options.
In running a small business, changes can become glaringly obvious. What I enjoy about the art community that I have been getting to know is the support and encouragement I've received, even when I've been confronted with challenges: moving across the world, rebranding as my studio name, understanding the creative fog during migraines and nerve pain, having a key piece of equipment die (my kiln), moving to a new flat, learning I have to find an external studio to do my industrial art of lampwork. Through it all, I've had wonderfully patient customers who have been supportive and have let me breathe and create happily. I genuinely appreciate the generous encouragement and tolerance.
So, let me give you the latest update...
One of the important ideas is maintaining a sense of continuity as I travel through this adventure of change. When I sift through my portfolio of work, it has a very broad range of design elements. I love experimenting. But the common elements...glass, swirls, and simple florals. These are the elements I will bring through my work in the following year.
Something new for the shop this week.
I also came to a conclusion that I needed to work with a home studio for now. Health concerns and time/financial constraints are putting boundaries around the studio space. I need to examine what I can do in my home. Jewelry is good as a therapy to deflect my mind's concentration from pain. Also, I'm hoarding the stash of glass beads I've made for inclusion in pieces over the next year, since I won't have access to a lampwork studio for an unknown period of time.
I love the Southwest of the US, western things, country, small town living, and nature. I can also officially say, that I am an un-urban girl. Living in a city in the Far East has changed my usual source of inspiration. I am challenging myself use urban and Asian inspiration that I wouldn't usually think to use in my designs. I had a few hours, a Starbucks Chai Latte, a Moleskine journal, a bus ride, pictures, and a page full of words and designs that I'm trembling to realize in 3-D. Expect some very different designs over the next year. I hope I won't give you creative whiplash as I experiment...
- Metal clay - silver, copper, and bronze (Silver Clay Creation)
- Leather (A.H. Moon)
- Metalsmithing and enameling (Asimi Art)
- Glass fusing (Warm Glass - Brad & Jody Walker)
- Free form seed beading (Beverly Ash Gilbert)
Kanna Glass Studios Blog
The following content will continue to be part of my Kanna Glass Studios blog:
- Hong Kong Chronicles
- Hong Kong Art & Craft Finds - I've been stumbling slowly across little art and craft finds in Hong Kong. Since I don't read Chinese well, it's usually by word of mouth or just walking around that I find these little gems.
- Favorite things - book reviews, random musings, photos, and general miscellaneous items
As I transition some content to the Artfire blog, I will post summary links.
Artfire Shop Blog
My Artfire shop now has an integrated blog. I love this feature because it will allow me to bring information about my work closer to my shop, highlight artists, and give me the opportunity to publish some of the business tips I've been learning as I go to the Handmade News website. This is a fantastic free resource of articles that artists/crafters have generously shared. It's a new repository of information that's only a few months old, but already has a wealth of information. It's easier to read than the forums when you're looking for useful info.
Regular features of my shop blog will be:
- New work
- Featured Artisans
- Featured Items
- Business Tips
- Inspiration (Design Challenge)
My newsletter will now be organized to summarize the key articles. There will be two versions:
- Artisan Jewelry Collector - previews of upcoming collection, highlights of featured artisans, featured items
- Jewelry Artist - previews of upcoming beads and findings, highlights of Business Tips, Design Challenges
That was a mouthful, wasn't it? My mind is brimming with ideas and I am so excited to experiment. And scared. I bought yarn a few months back to knit myself a sweater and stared at it for six months. Now I'm knitting feverishly (the sweater that I cast on 12 times and finally cast on the 13th time as a scarf) and staring at the metal clay with a fluttering heart. I'm scared....I'm excited. I will try not to give you creative whiplash. It's going to be a fun ride...wanna come?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I returned last week and approached the restaurant from a different angle. And passed it up. No. Hold up. Wait. There's the grocery store. There's the...okay. Maybe if I walk back that way, I'll. No. No. Am I on the right street? Okay. Wait. I have jetlag. Think. Think. Think. ... Ow. That hurts. ... I know, I'll go to the corner I usually start from... and walk back... and it's usually...wait. There's a completely gutted shell. But, wait. It was a bigger restaurant... and there is.... a fully functional Manning's drug store in the other part.
Walk to the end. Walk back to the other end. Stand and stare for about 5 minutes.
Was I gone for three years?
My brain fog is rolling in. I'm confused. I'm dazed. I'm puzzled.
I'm awed at the speed with which a determined set of people can rip out a restaurant, install a store, and have it fully functional and operating like it's been there for three years. The only evidence was the new cement on the step up to the store. The only evidence.
Sigh. I'll go to the sandwich shop that makes me retract my elbows.
On my way there, one of the flyer-ladies thrusts a paper in my face. I came to Hong Kong with a mindset that flyers were the street equivalent to junk mail. Mmm. Kinda. They are hawking something...a restaurant, service, or store. However, because of the vertical nature of the environment, you often have no idea of the wealth of little businesses run right under...er, above...your very nose without the assistance of these useful little brochures. So, I sometimes take them. Sometimes I ignore. This time I took.
Ah! My favorite restaurant moved! Here it is.
I go up, tastebuds re-tuning for my mushroom linguine and rose milk tea. It was crowded. I couldn't find one of the comfy seats I always enjoyed. However, my tastebuds were tuned and what can you do when you tune them. Twice. So, I ordered. I tasted.
This isn't rose milk tea. This is a rose latte. I don't want coffee. I want tea. I wanted the mushroom linguine. Hey! Their prices are more expensive! Am I in the right dimension? Did I end up in a special hemisphere as I flew over the international date line? Can I still contact my family? What year is it? Am I on Candid Camera?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
While I didn't make a lot of time for computer work on vacation, I did spend time chatting with my mom while making earrings. Below are the amethyst cluster earrings I made for her. I need to switch out the lever-backs for posts, since posts look better on her.
I also made myself a hat. There are a bunch of glassworkers who also seem to be on a knitting binge. Ever since Kerry at Kab's Creative Concepts posted this sumptuous sweater, I have been pining to knit it for myself. The style is perfect for me in Hong Kong and it is my favorite color, green. But, sadly, like Kerin Rose, I am still a wannabe knitter. Even though the pattern was easy (I have the yarn! I have the pattern! I even took a lesson at a local shop!), I do not possess troubleshooting skills to fix my mistakes. I have cast on this pattern 12 times. The 13th time, I decided to stick with a scarf.
However, I can crochet. And I have need of a hat. I have a some nerve pain in my face affected by the wind currents (particularly very cold air conditioner vents) and a saucy little hat has been my creative work of the last week. I crocheted some little four-petal flowers in a contrasting purple and included some of my swirl beads as centers. It's very cute!
Yeah. It is a goofy photo. But, I liked the moody skies in the background. Depsite the sunny smile I have on my face, I have had one of my weather headaches brewing inside my head for four days plus the nerve pain. I thought it was kind of creatively symbolic, so I decided to post it anyway. Since pain does slow me down a bit (as fellow sufferers Lori and Mandy have attested to), it may still take me a little while before I starting posting new work. But, I do have stuff coming plus some amusing stories in the Hong Kong Chronicles!
Friday, November 6, 2009
That's it for the tour of Charleston...if you'd like to see some more South Carolina pictures, my mom is a shutterbug. Here is her photostream on Flickr at Flutterbugas.
In the bag I have in my hand in the above picture, I have some cute little beads...some faceted amethyst rounds and carnelian roundels. Oh, they make some dreamy cluster earrings. My mom poached the first set of amethyst earrings, which was okay because I raided her vintage stash. We're quite the pair and partners in crime when it comes to jewelry...but she's vintage and I'm craft...and we trade. Much fun!
I'm coming out of my travel fog. As soon as I unearth my apartment from my travel tornado of clean clothes, dirty clothes, laundry, dust bunnies, new stuff, and finding places for new stuff in my tiny apartment, I will have some new goodies. Mostly earrings! I learned quite a bit with the private jewelry showing...mainly that earrings are a staple to a woman's wardrobe. I know that, but, this showing was a good reminder.
I'm getting very excited about the changes that have been introduced with Artfire such as the studio blog. It's great to have a blog that is integrated with your store/studio. Content on your studio blog will also be able to be published to Handmade News. In general, I have been so impressed with Artfire. They are responsive to the requests of the community, have developed a Mavens team (a team of volunteers who are willing to give suggestions and test the features before they roll out to the general audience), stay on top of trends then give a podcast about it on Inside Handmade. I actually learn quite a bit about the technical and business trends from their podcasts. I find it really interesting. I'm such a girl geek. Having a studio blog will mean some changes to my newsletter and this blog, but I am giving careful consideration as to how to add artisan studio blog into my business mix.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
***edit*** ahhh....thank you Sooz Jewels! The car really was making me a little crazy! I agree...there MUST be a sweet little terrace with a perfect studio off to the side. It's Charleston after all. .... sigh .... now I can enjoy the beauty of these arched entries .... I am such a pushover for arched entries. I almost ended up in a different apartment here in Hong Kong solely based on the fact that it had arched entries to the bedrooms and the living room. However, the view in my new flat won out. But, it was a very close call.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Since I will be falling off the face of this earth (well at least the face of this hemisphere), I have learned it usually takes at least a week to recover from the travel. So, it's possible I may neglect the blog. To stave off blog starvation, I will feed it will some delectable photos from Charleston over the week. I have scheduled a series of posts from my meanderings in Charleston, South Carolina in the autumn. Toodles for now!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Within these woods
I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have known my little Texan Maltese. He was born, raised, and died in Texas. He visited Wisconsin on family vacations. And he was always funny. I was happy to have had the opportunity to be his mama while he lived and to spoil him just a little and give him a happy, secure doggy life. He is well missed and thought of with happiness and funny memories. It helps me to have a "back-up" Maltese in Molly. For some reason, I had always assumed Bijou would have been the back-up Maltese. Either way, my strategy worked...Molly has been a huge help with the grieving and filling the void.
And while on vacation, I have an Alt Malt (Alternate Maltese), my dad's little six-pound Maltese named Madison (Maddy for short) who is your friend for life if you give her lots and lots of belly rubs. Which I have been carefully tending to the belly rubs and making good friends. She is my dad's dog...she follows him around, watches him to see if he's going to sit down and if she should sit with him. But, I've made inroads into her belly-rub heart. She even slept with me once. She is trying to share herself with all three of us (my dad, mom, and me). She is ridiculously cute, and well, must get smooches and bellyrubs and backrubs. She helps fill the Maltese void while on vacation. But, I'm missing my Hong Kong Molly Dolly...
Monday, October 26, 2009
This one, not so much. These were the very first lampwork beads I ever bought. They are from Grace Lampwork Beads. I think I was headed on the right track, but missed the station somehow. I love the green, enameled beads with accents of copper. I plan to re-configure this necklace. It's not a complete miss, but with additional understanding and skills, I know how to refine this into a quality piece that I will like much better. The main thing that bugs me is that the "Swarovskis" are fakes. I didn't know the difference at the time. I do now!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I was in Wisconsin to attend a friends wedding and am now visiting family in South Carolina. My vacation is flying by so very quickly! I really do not miss the cold. Or the winter. But, I miss autumn. Caramel apples. Hot cider. Custard. Bratwurst. Wisconsin cheese.
My mom likes vintage jewelry and we've gone through her stash of jewelry. Her stash also includes some of the jewelry I have made for her...a beautiful double spiral chain maille bracelet, some earrings and necklaces. I'll do a post on that later. We also spent some time in the antique malls checking out vintage jewelry.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Gawkers carry cameras. And videos. Or both. Or at least a video phone.
Like Cathy (who missed the Squirrel with his face in an empty peanut-butter jar but got the Oscar-Meyer-Weinermobile instead...you need to bookmark her blog...seriously funny).
So, back to missing DNA...the gawkers gene...I'm really excited to be setting foot in the US again to see friends and family. I hope I will behave properly...i.e. habits I've picked up in HK won't unnerve my old friends.
Back the instigation of this post, I was finishing up the family trinket shopping and noticed what was normally a moving throng of people a stopped throng of people. Looking up. In addition to looking up, there was an impressive display of mobile power recording the event with whatever they had at hand: camera-phones, video-phones, i-phones, video cameras. If they didn't have video, they were on the phone telling someone about it. Since this was a major thoroughfare for tourists, this also included a fair amount of tourists in this gawkers crowd. When I looked up, I saw an anemic plume of smoke from a burning window air conditioner.
On the Richter scale of dramas, it might have been a 0.001.
I really wasn't impressed. I was more impressed with the display of mobile power. Once I determined that I was not really interested in gawking, I was trying to assess whether there was a trickle of non-gawkers moving through the crowd or if police had truly cordoned off the street to pedestrians.
Just at the time I had dismissed the burning air conditioner as a drama princess, the burning air conditioner decided to amp up the feeble display with a tiny, spluttering explosion. There was a collective in-take of breathe, cry of concern, and a micro-stampede about 20 steps backward.
Sigh...yes, alternative routes must be found...
At least Hong Kong is almost to scale. It really it just a matter of a few steps this way or that way. You pick.
And if I had the gawkers gene I would have something to show you. But, I am missing that piece of DNA. So you only get to hear my story about it.
P.S. - I have finally reached the vacation part of my US trip. I have many stories to tell, but was caught up in the whirlwind of work, friends, and travel and have not had any spare minutes until now. My stories are a little out of order. This was one of the stories that happened the day before I left. Since jewelry and blogging are hobbies...they get included in my vacation...
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I am operating within functional parameters. Functioning within normal parameters? Debatable. I'm awake at 2 a.m. writing a blog post.
What's it like to come back? Kind of boring. People drive normal. I didn't have an urge to drive on the left side of the road. Driving is almost relaxing. Although Dallas can be known for aggressive driving, I don't drive in Hong Kong and I never will...it's on the left-side of cramped, curving, winding roads, and in wild crazy traffic.
One of my friends asked me what I wanted to do first. Book & craft stores everywhere... beware... I'm coming for magazines I can't get in Hong Kong. Already scored a gorgeous of set of bead and metal clay magazines and a tres chic book on making your own findings. Yeehaw!!
Aahm in Teexaas this weeek praacccticiinnng drawwwling out ma words. And patiently waiting while the elevator doors close instead of quickly clicking the door closed. I didn't spit out undesirable food on the table. But, I did drink hot water without the need to add tea or hot chocolate...merely to keep warm. I have some milk tea packets my friends got me that are quite nice, too. Oh, and I enjoy heat! You know when it cools down and you turn on the furnace and warm up the house or car? Heat! (Yeah...too hot most of the time in Hong Kong, so heat isn't installed. You survive with multiple layers of clothes and space heaters.)
It feels normal to be back in Texas in a fourth dimension way: everything is the same...sort of... and slightly different.
When Etsy was on meltdown last year and then they decided to transition to a professional CEO, they went through some major changes. I'm pleased to see some professionalism coming through. I think they're turning around and heading in a positive direction. When I get back to glass, I will probably maintain a presence on Etsy for glass beads.
During Etsy's transition, other options became available and one of them was Artfire. When Etsy was on meltdown, I developed a list of things I would do as an ecommerce app to support artisans. (My alter ago is a girl geek project manager in IT). I looked at my list and realized it contained work that was way beyond me. Then someone introduced me to Artfire. As I poked around I was immediately impressed as they took the approach to learn from Etsy's mistakes and improve on it. The list I had? They did it. And more.
Another thing, they have also formed what they call a Mavens team (you can email Sara and let her know you want to join the Maven team.) You'll be able to get previews of what's coming, help test new features, and make suggestions for new features. I'm just getting my feet wet in this activity and can tell you more later.
Artfire will be introducing studio blogs soon and my business model is morphing to adapt to the new features this will offer. I will be moving some of the content over to that blog to be closer to the point of sale. Some of these articles will be able to be submitted for publication on HandmadeNews.org. If this happens, I will be re-tooling my newsletter (details to come).
Features that I will move to the Artfire Blog:
- A Business Bite - business ideas and mistakes I've made for you to learn from
- Made Me Click - pretty items that made me click featured on the blog
- Made Me Click Artist Interview - sometimes I've been finding artists simply by their unique style...they not only made me click, I wanted to browse their whole shop
- Designers Challenge - I create my jewelry to a monthly theme and want to share that designers challenge with you in your art medium if you're feeling a little creatively empty or stuck. It's not a pressure challenge...just a fun challenge.
- Artfire Features - when I made my list of "things I wanted" Artfire did a lot of them. They are a small company, but very responsive to the need of artisans and very good about communicating when new features will be in place.
- New Jewelry: I'll be releasing new jewelry on this blog since it will be closer to the ecommerce site and even easier to purchase
I will link out to my regular blog when I have updates on the Artfire blog and vice versa, but I will not do complete copies of the posts as that is a "no-no".
What will remain on the Kanna Glass Studios blog
- Funny Friday - entertaining stories of a klutzy American stumbling through life in Hong Kong and cute pictures of the Maltese that owns me
- Hong Kong Art & Craft finds - it has taken me a while to unearth the art & craft scene in Hong Kong. I stumbled onto a piece of it and it is seeming to spiderweb out by guanxi (relationships)...and I'm just stumbling around finding various things. I'll share them as I find for anyone who might be wandering through Hong Kong at some point in their life.
- Favorite Things - I decided to keep Favorite Things on this blog since it will feature books, Etsy finds, and other things that may not be on Artfire.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
In rides Marina to save the day. It all started with Nancy hosting a blog party for our favorite poet/metalsmith, Ms. Jillian, de la Noisy Plume. Lo and behold, I clicked through the participant links and I swooned over the western poster Marina created to honor Jillian.
(That was a link-fest, wasn't it? Need a minute to catch up?)
Swoon. Happy dance. Tripping over feet with joy. Someone was doing western!!!! And it was smashing! So, I contacted her about doing a few western things with some of my Texas pictures for my Southwestern theme I did in July. I got a little sidetracked in July and forgot to use all of the posters on my blog, but the one below is my favorite. I have it on the main page of my website now.
With each successive poster she sent me, I got happier, and happier and knew I had to work with her to re-do the branding, even though I had just done everything. You see, I still wasn't satisfied. Despite my best intentions, I felt my look was still too homemade, fractured, and clunky. I did want rustic, rough, and western...but I was struggling to achieve that.
So, I gave Marina a few ideas...green, green, green, and green, turquoise, brown. Western. Rustic. Green. And I did manage to create some simplistic flowers that she snagged, spruced up and carried over to the new image to carry a theme I started through to the new brand. The result?
A lovely bouquet for inserting randomly
New Business Cards
Plus, the new banners in this blog, my Artfire shop, the "wallpaper" backgrounds I use for photographing my jewelry, and my pillowbox packaging...which is the special treat reserved for customers who order from me.
As I mentioned, she captured the ideas right out of my head. Her fees were very reasonable (contact her!), she worked with my budget and on my schedule (i.e. spacing the projects out to make it affordable). In short, she was a dream graphic artist for a new business owner to work with.
Thank you, Marina! Please take a bow!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I know that, despite predictions of a rebounding economy, people are still being cautious about spending. I think that's wise. I'm being cautious myself. This spills into my fledgling jewelry business. I have been cautious about additional supplies and have been challenging my creativity to make my supplies stretch or do things a little differently to get the most out of the materials I have. When I make purchases, they are carefully thought out and well planned.
As I reflect on my own spending habits, I realize the type of person following my work probably has similar financial instincts. With that in mind, I have been re-working and re-scaling the pieces and designs in my shop. At the moment, I'm holding back on full-scale one-of-a-kind art pieces while waiting to find an outside studio space. This is giving me the opportunity to design the everyday line I have had in my head for some time. These are "one of a design" pieces...examples are the Trailing Vines bracelets, Lasso earrings, or Classic Lariats...similar in design but tweaks on colors and components.
A quick word on materials...glass is still what makes my heart do a flip-flop. I'm quite attached to it. I have to be patient while searching for external studio space. But glass is always on my mind. I dream in it.
The main metal I use is genuine silver: Sterling .925 or Argentium .925. Argentium is a newer silver that uses germanium instead of copper and resists tarnish for a longer period of time. I also use fine silver .999. I really enjoy mixing in copper with silver for a western, rustic look. I occasionally use antiqued brass or gold fill. I purchase glass beads from other lampwork artists as well and include their work in some of my finished jewelry pieces. In short...I use quality components in my jewelry because I want the piece to have lasting value.
As I was writing and editing this post, I put one of my new bracelet designs through an unintentional severe abuse test. I was grocery shopping and a heavy grocery bag slid down my arm and pulled on the bracelet. Although the bracelet gave way at a weak point and one of the disk beads broke when it hit the tile floor, I was actually pretty surprised at how well the rest of it held up. I mean...glass beads hitting a tile floor? And only one of the disks broke? Kiln annealing really does work!
Although I was initially disappointed...I really liked this Corsage design and I don't have access to my torch to re-create the broken bead...I can still re-work the piece into a Trailing Vines bracelet.
So, why do I talk about a mistake? Because it leads me to the main point I wanted to make. I don't just make my jewelry and send it off. I test it. With the everyday designs I have been making lately, I make one for me, test, twiddle, fiddle, and tweak. If it works, I then make subsequent designs for the shop.
For the truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, I do a test wearing. The first reason, is that it takes more than fitting on a model or checking in the mirror to make sure it lays right. It also takes regular activities to ensure it doesn't flop or dangle awkwardly. Second, I check for reactions...as in, "ooooh, that's a really cool piece!" If you're buying an art piece, you want a reaction. Then...once it passes these checks, it gets cleaned up (sanitized or tumble polished in dish soap) and ready for you.
Guarantee of Me
As noted in the above picture of my Corsage bracelet, although my beads are manufactured to be durable, they are still glass. In particular, disk beads have a greater sensitivity as they are thin and can spend more time out of the flame. While I have inadvertently "tested" a lot of my beads by dropping them (I'm a klutz, don't forget), glass is still glass and should be treated with care.
However, things will always happen. This is why I offer the Guarantee of Me. I back my work. First of all, I only make what I love and I only want you to buy what you love so you'll wear it over and over again. I want to you be happy with what you received in the first place.
The additional part the Guarantee of Me is that I realize things can happen to jewelry. I strive to make the best pieces I can, but sometimes things happen. Perhaps there is a weak point in the jewelry. Perhaps it suffered some kind of trauma like getting dropped or the dog ate it. (This really happened to me...Molly ate one of my favorite necklaces when she was a baby.) After I started making my own jewelry, I realized those favorite little pieces that I discarded in the past were often very simple little fixes.
I offer that same backing, whether the fault is mine or yours...just email me and we can either work out the quick fix for the cost of postage...or if the damage is more extensive (i.e. the dog ate your jewelry), salvage what you can and we can work out a new design for you.
As a fledgling business and being mindful that people are seeking a good value in this economy, I have reduced prices on everything in my shop to give people the opportunity to sample some of my work. I have deliberately kept prices in line with or slightly above what you pay for costume jewelry. This is not because I don't think my work has value...actually, it's because I think you will enjoy my work and would like to make it affordable to have as I'm fledging this little business. I want to you to try it. Like it. Come back later. And tell your friends.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Speaking of saddles...here is a new design I'm testing in a line I plan to call the Equestrian Series. This one is called Saddle-Up! because they remind me of stirrups. I'm taking a mid-day stroll through downtown Hong Kong, twiddling, fiddling, and generally wearing my new design to make sure it stands up to regular daily wear.
How the necklace lays when worn and the earrings dangle. Once this design meets my "wear and tear" quality standards, I'll make some versions for you. None will be exactly the same.
Me on a tram. I got tired (and sweaty) walking one way looking for the post office and computer stores. I knew it was somewhere close to where I wandered. But, I never found it. Fruitless (as far as shipping and computer supplies), but entertaining and some decent mid-day exercise and relaxing tram ride back to blow dry.
Today It's Raining Cats & Small-to-Medium Size Dogs
It's been raining all day today. It's definitely raining cats. And some small dogs (Maltese and Yorkie size) and even some Terriers and Labs. But, it's definitely not raining Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, or Great Danes yet...that's when nothing stays dry except maybe your eyelashes that are tucked way up underneath the umbrella.
I was crossing the hill that goes down to the waterfront. Sheets of water were cascading down it. I thought, "Throw plastic down on that there hill and you have a great Slip-N-Slide." Heh. I don't even need the plastic or hill. Just give me ceramic tiles and rain.
This is the sea level view down the hill from my complex.
I can't help it. These are my two favorite views. Molly and Aberdeen Harbor. This is my daily eye-candy.
Molly enjoys the views, too. There are kites (Hong Kong hawks) that circle in front of our window. Molly enjoys watching them. Did anyone see The Proposal? Remember the dog scene? I remind Molly that it's good there is plate glass between her and them.
Endless Sources of Amusement
My dogs have always provided a never-ceasing fountain of entertainment and stories.
I mentioned in a previous post that me and Molly are afraid of thunderstorms. Molly usually greets me at the door when I come home. Today she didn't. As a side note, I've been winding myself up with anxiety over leaving Molly for an upcoming business trip/vacation. She's getting older (nearly 11!) and she gets stressed when I leave. Plus, we just moved into a new flat. So, today, when I came home and no Miss Molly greeted me, I had a moment of panic.
But, I looked around and found this.
In Texas, we had a few whoppers of thunderstorms while I was gone during the day. There were a few times that we "lost" Molly. She was usually found in a tub. Good things here: my abode is less than 1/3 the size of the "small-ish" Texas house I had and I have a clear shower curtain. In Texas, I had two bathrooms and opaque shower curtains. Even when I looked in the bathroom, I usually failed to look in the tub.
I have no idea how long she was in there today. Poor baby. But, it was funny (and a relief) to find her hiding out in the bathtub. I need to teach her that under the bed in my bedroom is the darkest, safest spot.