Thursday, May 26, 2016

Effectively Organized: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Home Tour of Office and Living Area

The last post in the series about Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." 

The first picture is the view from my desk while I work my day job. Overlooking palm trees! Check. This is the view that took my breath away when I toured this town home for rent. So grateful to have this place to work from.

And now a few views of how I've set up my office space. The yarn hutch is prominent in the background. I also have my Sticky Note PM post it boards (and matching sticky notes) as part of my office. I originally had my desk across the room, but I wanted easier access to my post it note boards and set up a dresser behind my desk for storing most of my office supplies and as a printer stand. If you look closely, you can see Trixie in her drawer.

The living area.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Effectively Organized: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Home Tour of Studio Area

This is the last installment in the series of Tidying up and I end with the reason I started the whole process - my art studio. I've had my art studio organized in many ways in the many places I've lived in the last five years. But none of it really worked for me until I understood Marie's basic principle of "store like things together." Now, even though things are piled together and I have to look a little bit, I don't have to look hard to really find what I want. Jewelry findings and beads are stored together. Wire and chain. Polymer clay. Jump rings. Silver wire. Seed beading. Inks. Sewing and fabric. 

So, even when I'm in the middle of creating a giant art mess, when I put it all back, I can find it because I know where it needs to go. Such a crucial element of organizing. 

One other thing I did when putting together my studio was creating a space I was inspired to be in. That meant painting all of my furniture to coordinate, reupholstering furniture, finding pieces that filled a need (like the green dresser that serves as my shipping station). And now the result... updated since the last photo (different table).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Effectively Organized: Developing a Cadence

One of the things that is a major shift for me going from a hobby business to a real business is getting into regular habits of doing things that I might not like doing and maintaining the habit. As a hobby, you can flow with your moods. As a business, consistency is the lifeblood of making your business sustainable and profitable. I'm not profitable yet, but consistency leads to sales which leads to profitability.


For me, blogging and newsletter are two parts of my ongoing marketing plan. I've been trying to create an editorial schedule, but this is a bit of an experiment to see what works best for me. I ha e broken my posts down into categories:

  • Hobby to Business Report: musings on what I need to do to move my hobby business into a real business that will eventually be how I make my living. I explore legal aspects, bookkeeping, mental shifts, posts like this one of moving from random posts to more organized, edited, and planned
  • Studio Time: behind the scenes of work, new work, the process of exploring new styles and mediums. I really like having a log of my history as an artist and my blog has been the main place for documenting my artistic journey.
  • Organized artist: this is an interesting area of exploration for me. I recently KonMari-ed my entire home and art studio. This is enabled me to start doing more in less time. I also created a project management system that utilizes sticky notes. It's based on what I've learned as a project manager (Scrum Master) in my day job. I also made functional art that support this. 
  • Throwback: looking back on my history as an artist or other adventures.
  • Design Exploration: sharing the process of creating surface pattern designs
  • Creative Finds: sharing any book, blog, Instagram feed that I loved or find inspiring
  • Funny Friday: usually stories about being a klutz
  • Resident Adventure: photographic explorations that inspire me and my art

I have been debating whether to have a specific theme for each day of the week or just blog organically. Right now, I'm blogging organically as having the specific theme for each day wasn't really working for me since my cadence is still at 2-3 times per week.


I really, really want to maintain a once per week newsletter cadence. I'm starting to get great feedback and engagement from my small list. However, there is a lot of work to updating the shops for the new color. I'm struggling with staying mentally engaged and interesting for a weekly newsletter. Bi-weekly makes more sense right now where I'm at. Lately the cadence has been 2 weeks on, 1 week off. I don't know if that's confusing though.

The other challenge right now is that I've had lots of visitors in the last two months, I'm trying to improve my personal nutrition and exercise habits (and layer those activities in).

I don't have an answer for this one at the moment. I'm sure I'll more thoughts later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Effectively Organized: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Home Tour of Bedroom, Laundry, and Kitchen

Continuing the home tour of my very organized home, I have to say having my home organized this way makes it so much more efficient and easy to find stuff. 

Although Marie advocates getting rid of stuff and promotes a more minimalist mindset and I did get rid of a lot of stuff, she also advocates keeping only things you love. In my case, I brought in things I loved - like art and useful pieces of furniture. I wanted my home to feel cozy warm and inviting... and my guests that I've had since I put my home together this way have all said it is very inviting and relaxing... just want I want for my guests to feel. I didn't get any more than I needed, to make my home feel this way and almost everything is second hand. Very little is brand new. 

Laundry Room / Utility Room

I have a little snap of my laundry room. In those cabinets are where I store most of the things I need in my house that are utilitarian: paints, paint supplies, light bulbs, towels, kitchen towels, cleaning rags, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, and tools. I have always had trouble finding what I needed of these types of items when I needed it. By storing this all in one place, I now can find things I usually can't. It's uh-may-zing.

Entry Way

A useful table and place for keys, functional wall art to hold sticky notes for my chores and home things I need, plus art from Australia and Hong Kong, and a wall hook for coats, scarves and dog leashes. I'm actually getting very consistent about leaving my keys in the same spot, hanging up my coat and putting Trixie's leash away in the same place.


One major thing I did for my kitchen was get rid of all the junky pots and pans that I didn't like or care for and then I invested in good pots and pans that I love love love to cook with and also happen to make my kitchen a happy, inspiring place to good healthy good food. My only mild complaint with the layout of my kitchen is the very, very limited counter space. It's very equivalent to the counter space I had in my Hong Kong's slightly more, but not much. I love a big giant island. But, other than that, I love this kitchen for having a gas stove. That is something I learned to love living in Hong Kong - gas stoves. My pantry and cabinets are very organized and I have dishes and pots and pans and cutlery that make spending time in this kitchen really pleasant.

Power Room

Some art and misc. flea market / online finds that make it a little more interesting and less bland.

Master Bedroom

This is how my master bedroom was last year. Very simple, minimalist, and neat. But it didn't seem "right." And then I realized the scale was off. This is a very large bedroom. The furniture I had was designed more for a regular size bedroom. I had been wanting to find a white farm house bed, but couldn't find what I liked.

Then I found a bedroom set at a re-sale shop that had a look that was close to what I originally had in mind. I set it up even though I still had my queen size mattress. :-) I know it looked silly, but I loved having the headboard and side tables. I tend to stack my night stands high with books and ideas and projects. These 3 drawer stands were perfect for me.

I finally got my king mattress and set it up.

The huge benefit of all of this organization is that it's now much easier for me to find things, put things away consistently, keep it neat, tidy, and clean. For the first time in my life, I've been able to be consistent with this even though my home is relatively large for me and keep up with it fairly well. I credit the KonMari method for helping me refine my own methods of organization.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Studio Time: BonBon Necklace and Earrings - Jewel Tones

Riffing off the other stackable necklace in jewel tones, I thought of an earring design I had done in the past in glass and wanted to create in polymer. I created itty bitty polymer beads, large silver hoops and !oila! tiny bon-bon earrings. And with the leftover scraps, I created large gum ball beads and a matching necklace. These were easy, pleasant and fun to make. I expect to be making a lot more. I need to learn how to solder the copper so I can make the earrings in copper and not just silver.

And while this set is super simple and anyone can make it, there is a lot to be said for the basic. Laura Sparling had a brilliant blog post about In Defense of the Basic. While I love making lace and want to learn how to knit a sweater, I like the mindless activity of knitting a basic, repetitive pattern scarf. And even though the beads in the above necklace are super duper basic (pinching off clay and making a round bead), the result can still be really, really pleasing. Why do we as artists get offended with doing the basic and simple? I know I like to do the more complicated difficult techniques, but I also like the basic and simple.

Do you have a basic technique and style you go back to time and again? 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Creative Finds: Uppercase Magazine

One of my current favorite things is the magazine Uppercase. It's a visual feast for the "creative and curious." Janine Vanpool explores everything creative. She creates themes and creative people submit articles and photos around that theme. I've submitted a short article around the theme of rustic for the next issue. Waiting to see if it gets selected... first magazine submission ever!

I love this magazine because it allows me to explore creativity and find artists across all mediums and genre. This is a highly recommended read for anyone creative.

Do you have a favorite indie magazine?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Studio Time: Developing a Cohesive Body of Work

So, I've been buckling back down to studio time.  While I would make art and dabble in bits and pieces over the last several years, it really had been 6-7 years since I was in the "I-can't-help-but-make-art" phase where I was really productive. I have to admit, it was a little bit of effort to get myself going in my art again. I had some fears. Some fears of not being good enough and a mental block knowing I had to get through the slog of “beginner work” again.

And now that I have, studio time is coming naturally (and obsessively) the way it used to when I started as a hobby. I’m still in a wildly experimental mode, but as I was taking pictures of the pieces and looking at the pile on table, I realized I am developing a cohesive body of work. It’s still in early enough stages that other artists can replicate easily if they want to. (See the bon-bon necklace in simple basic colors.) But, I’m beginning to riff off previous work (working in a series) and the result is getting more and more cohesive and recognizable. I’m not sure it would qualify as “art jewelry” completely yet, but we have to start somewhere, right? My simpler pieces have more mass appeal (and I kind of like these pieces because this is what I used to wear before I made my own jewelry) and I enjoy making these. These are going to be the ones I have available for farmer’s markets and craft/art shows. I’m working at building up a reasonable inventory and want to start doing first Fridays maybe next month? 

This is a huge breakthrough for me to look at this picture and see “me” in it. It's been about 6-7 years since I saw such a cohesive style in my work. I've been in wildly experimental mode which can sometimes induce "style whiplash" where you can't find a discernible link to previous work. But, as long as you persist, what starts out as whiplash eventually links previous work to current work. Sometimes you just have to "play wildly" to move on. 

While I’ve taken a few techniques classes (and didn’t master them), and I follow other polymer artists to see what they’re doing, I’m really trying to develop my own methods and techniques. I find this is method is really working for me. I might take some expensive classes from masters later, but I’m liking putting blinders on a really focusing on putting my own stamp on this medium. 

Do you remember when you saw a cohesive "body of work" in your art? 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Studio Time: Getting that giddy feeling

Have you ever been doing studio time and you start getting giddy about the work you're creating? Yeah. I'm there today. Even when it's simple, I'm learning ways to improve the quality, be consistent, and continuing to experiment with carved beads.

This is the latest piece I created. It was originally going to be a single two-stranded necklace. But, one of the things I love about creating jewelry is making it flexible. So instead of creating a single two-strand necklace, I created two different necklaces that can be stacked on top of each other to create a lush bouquet of buds in the center.

Here they are separately. The colors are all mixed up so you can wear them with multiple outfits.

Now that I'm creating, my mind is brimming with ideas and I can't wait to execute them all. I have some textured beads that are turning out EXACTLY as I wanted them to. I'll share those in a future post.

Do you get on a roll with creating work you absolutely love?