Monday, November 30, 2009

Studio News: And the winner is...

Wendy @ Congratulations, Wendy! Please email me with your contact info and which charm you chose. I'll pop it in the mail within the next 2-3 days. (Email:

Thank you, everyone for the comments! It helps me overcome my fears with silver clay. :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Artfully Meandering: Giveaway - Fine Silver Charms

I thought I would celebrate my one-year anniversary in Hong Kong with a giveaway.

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.

Winner will be chosen on Monday, November 30. Just comment on this post for a chance to win.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: My first Hong Kong-er-versary

One year ago today, my feet touched Asian soil. I was neither a visitor but not yet a resident. My eyes glinted with the stars of my long-dreamed-of adventure. I had uprooted my existence and transplanted myself. The tentative roots bore bumps and bruises of settling into a new place.
This past year, I have experienced some tectonic shifts in my brain. A little wiser. Qualities sifted and refined. Flaws exposed for polishing. With a deeper understanding and appreciation for the gift of friends...from my native land and new friends in my current home.
I still take pictures like a tourist. I'm a resident adventurer.
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 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

Looking toward Wanchai

Wanchai Food Market

View from the second level of a bus


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.

Aberdeen (on Hong Kong Island) near where I live

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.

Culture Shock

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 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

Studio Time: Blue & Orange Pineapple Earrings

Read all about these dreamy beauties on my Artfire blog. Everything is free shipping through the end of the year.
I know I've been quiet. New mediums are requiring new space to work, so I'm working on rearranging my space so I can play and "be messy" without having to put everything away everytime. I still have small things coming, so I'll try to keep some pretty things coming. I still have some good stories, too!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Studio News: Learning to be Flexible

As I've mentioned, there are changes coming to Kanna Glass Studios. I've been letting my mind sift through the opportunities, the barriers, and the challenges. I've been bouncing ideas off valued advisors. I'm looking through my stash of glass beads I made, my signature pieces that were beginning to define a style for me in glass, looking through the treasure trove of books and magazines I hauled back from the US and my mind is brimming. Overflowing.

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 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 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, 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.

Home Studio
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...

Experimentation Plans
The first three are local classes. The last two are some US artists whose books I've ordered. I have no idea what will remain a staple in my full repertoire, but I have plans to experiment in all of these.

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

Hong Kong Chronicles: Was I gone for 3 weeks or 3 years?

I have a favorite little western retaurant around the corner from me. It's not always busy, which is one of the reasons it's my favorite place to go. The traditional way to tell a good restaurant around here is by how crowded it is. The caveat to this is the western style restaurant because it's usually slightly more expensive and has less familiar fare. The main thing I'm looking for is a different place to sit (other than my desk) that gives me some elbow room once or twice a week. I went to this restaurant before I left.

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, 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

Artfully Meandering: Creative Eyecandy

Neihou! Neihou! (That's Cantonese for, Hello.) I'm still digging out from the wake of traveling. Somehow it's much easier to do in a larger space. Smaller spaces are much less forgiving about messes. I brought back a number of things that need to find new homes in my small space (less than 600 square feet). This is a generous sized apartment for Hong Kong that includes two bedrooms. My bedroom is about the size of my parents walk-in-closet. Not kidding.

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!

Goofy Photo Alert

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

Artfully Meandering: Evidence of Fun in Charleston

Me and my dad on our way to lunch at one of the restaurants in Charleston. I loved spending time with him on our road trip through the beautiful autumn colors from Wisconsin to South Carolina.

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

Artfully Meandering: Beautiful Entries

I really want to Photoshop the car out of the corner...but, I'm not very good at photoshop just yet...and I like the arched doorway too much to crop it out

***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.