Saturday, December 31, 2011

Whoops, There it is!

It’s easy to get down in the dumps. Its winter – politicians are arguing worse than ever – the economy still sucks – ACK, I’m getting older – life is messy. It is the final day at the end of the year and there is probably some smuck on TV out there reminding YOU to count your blessings. Am I right? Damn tooting I am.

Okay, so let’s work with this a moment. There are thousands of possible ideas to cover the cup half empty/full analogy. I’m going to point one out that is very – let’s say – experiential.

Experiential is a way of learning things that helps you to remember the lesson (it requires involvement – mind and/or body….it’s like (in the most graphic of terms) when you burn your face with the curling iron you learn really fast not to get that thing so close to your skin. That’s a negative experiential learning process, but an effective one.

Now you have the concept of that type of learning. So how do you apply that physical/mental learning style to “blessings, gratefulness, thankfulness, and half-full cups”?

You are reading this blog and one leap in assumptions I can make is that you are an artist. You probably have a good imagination so I don’t think there is any need for you go and burn your forehead to get the gist of what I’m telling you to imagine.

EVERYONE learns experientially – if we didn’t we wouldn’t learn to ride a bike, or write, make love, and so on. These experiences help us to improve on the first lesson…or not to repeat it if it hurt too much in the first place (the burn).

You’re still waiting for this end of the year punch-line lesson. Right?

Here it is. It works – I know because I taught and facilitated groups of distraught teenagers and some adults on how to do this for 23 years.

Let’s take me for example – my knees hurt (I weigh entirely too much and have arthritis – just fact) – when I think negatively about this, and I find it “getting” to me, I take a moment to meditate. While I meditate I visualize myself in a wheel chair, or without feet, or on crutches with my armpits a flame. You’re creative – remember me coaching you on that earlier? Me too! And after I do that, like Nemo, I go to my happy spot for a moment and then open my eyes again. I think to myself – whoa, am I lucky…two feet, armpits don’t hurt, no wheelchair. This isn’t to disrespect the people who are disabled. It’s all about how to think and feel about the disability or personal challenge that counts, I think there are plenty of disabled people who understand this. How we think – it’s important.

If your cup isn’t half full – WHY NOT? Determine why you think it isn’t and change the mental scenario around it. This is a simplification of the process for sure and some life situations are beyond your control – but everyone has plenty of blessings and plenty of things they can whine about, be depressed about, or be hateful about if that is what they truly want. Me, my cup is half full and I hope yours is too. And, if for a tiny moment, you can’t find a blessing in your situation try the exercise I described above – apply it to your circumstances and needs….maybe it will help.

I wish you health and happiness.


Friday, December 30, 2011

How to Survive and Thrive In an Art Recession

Recently, while reading another blog, I felt another artists pain when an art show did not meet her expectations. The show had the potential and she most certainly had the "goods". First, let me say DH and I did the Art Show circuit for over 27 years. It ain't what it used to be. BUT, it can continue to be lucrative in this economy if you alter you expectations and make it part of a whole marketing package. Here are some tips that might help:

Originally posted by SimaG Jewelry on September 9, 2009 at 3:13pm in my Handmade Handbook

How to Survive -- And Thrive-- In this Recession

9 steps to a Better Today and Brilliant Tomorrow for Art Festival Artists:

1. Remember: Not Only Good Things Come To An End
The current economic climate will change-for the better. The economy is like a pendulum, swinging first up, then down, then up again. The momentum of the current downtrend holds the energy for the upswing that is surely on its way.

2. Your Art Is Still Your Art-and Your Life's Work
Do not depreciate the value of your art. Do not cut prices just to make sales-but always be willing to negotiate in good faith. You have spent years establishing the value of your work to your customers. It is a whole lot easier to lower your prices than to bring them back up later on when times are good.

3. The Customer is Not, Repeat, Not Your Enemy.
It is all too easy to view people who don't spend their money on your artwork as adversaries. They are, like all of us, strapped for cash, or worried about being strapped for cash. Greet each potential customer as though he or she is a millionaire, which may just be true. And, remarkably, what seems unaffordable today becomes easily purchased tomorrow.

4. Never Reveal Your Financial Situation to a Customer
Your finances are yours, private and nobody's business (well, maybe the IRS!).
Act neither poor nor rich around the public. You are an artist-that is sufficient to the business transaction. Why? People of means like doing business with other people of means; people without means do not want to be reminded of their economic status. The best course: be yourself. Dress well, but not extravagantly; present yourself within the confines of your profession.

5. Clean Up Your Act
Take a hard look at your booth presentation. Is it cluttered? Filled with old work in dog-eared mats? Too dark? Too Light? Too unlike a small, exclusive gallery? Now is the time to turn your booth into an inviting, welcoming, happy, exciting, restful (yes, those two can happen together) and ultimately dollar-beckoning environment. Look at it this way: would you spend you money in your booth? Make certain the answer is yes.

6. Smile 'Till It Hurts
When the customer enters your booth-or before then-smile. When he or she says hello (or you do), smile. When he or she remarks on a piece of your artwork, smile. When you converse, smile. When the customer leaves-whether you made a sale or not-smile. Smile during setup and teardown. Smile on the way to the show. Smile on the way home. The point is this: happiness is inclusive; sadness craves seclusion. If you are down, that is the direction your sales will go.

7. Communicate 'Till It Hurts
Say hi, say what's up, say can I help you, say do you like the work, say it's sunny out, say it's raining out. Then, remember that silence, too, is a form of communication. Engage the customer, make him or her comfortable, lead them to your work, leave them to enjoy it. Then start talking again. The longer the customer stays in your booth, the better your chances of making a sale.

8. Don't Just Level the Playing Field, Change It
Offer to visit the potential buyer at his or her home. Suggest that your work would look great in their offices. Intimate that you might be willing to take payments over time (a check each month is better than none). Negotiate from strength: offer two pieces at a discount, but not one. Lead off communication with an offer of the discount (yep, right after you say hello). Let pieces go overnight on approval (with a valid credit card on file, of course). Send thank you notes-of course-to buyers, but also to those who do not buy; it often leads to a sale.

9. Set Only Realistic Goals and Reduce Your Disappointment
The art festival business is simply not what it used to be. Neither is much else in life; change is the only true constant. Money is no more than a (necessary) commodity that changes hands as we use it. Art lasts. What we create says much more about us than how much of what we create we happen to sell. Goals are important, certainly, but monetary goals are transitory. All of us are learning to live with "less" in these-transitory-times, but all of us can learn to enjoy what we have to a greater degree. And, down the road, there will be a show where you sell more, earn more and-using the lessons of these remarkable times
-enjoy more.

Live, love, laugh, create.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I'm still in the spirit but it's getting to be the time of year, isn't it? You know....the end.

It's a time of assessment, revision, and reinvention. I've been looking over the blog and think it's time for a new look. Maybe a little streamlining - a tighter vision. Hopefully by the New Year I can work out all of the particulars and away we'll go....not a new adventure, just an adjusted one.

I've been checking out blog headers and such. One of the most interesting finds has been Seth Apter. He has a blog called The Altered Page. I ran into blog via some newsletters I've been receiving from Creative Mixed Media. He has been posting this whole series called Your Blog, Your Way. You can get to it via his blog and it's just outstanding. It's broken up into ten chapters and each is very thoughtfully prepared.

I was already on this quest before this post but running into Seth's series is most certainly going to help.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Are you ready?

This is so NOT my house - but I can dream....

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide"

It's almost here! Tomorrow morning - ACK! Home alone - Should I be putting my palms on my cheeks? Maybe. I have saved my Secret Santa gifts - from the artists on Lampwork Etc. for the morning. And, I'll admit it - I'm looking forward to them.

I believe in kindness - - - - - - - - - - - - - - pass it on - - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cake Pops

It’s official – I live like a troll. I have never heard of cake pops. We have no bakery here…unless you want to count the Walmart bakery. I’ve known the girl that works there for years but I know she wouldn’t consider herself a pastry baker. I used to decorate cakes – ah, that was in my twenties when I could afford the calories. I also made candy. That experience pretty much killed candy cravings for nearly a decade.

I was searching for something to make for the holiday – and somewhere in the insane Internet surfing I’ve been doing I ran across Cake Pops and Bakerella. What the heck – where have I been?

This is definitely like a call to arms for me. No one could ever accuse me of being a hip cat but how did I not know about this? I feel like an Ostrich in the Sahara. I’m making Cake Pops. This is sort of like the recipe I used but following some other recommendations for leaving them in the refrigerator for at least two hours before putting them in the dipping chocolate.

So what are your favorite recipes for the holiday? Have you ever made cake pops? The photo of finished cake pops isn’t mine – mine are still in the fridge .

This is your basic cake pop recipe:

Make a 13×9 cake. Any flavor you like, just follow the instructions on the box. Let it cool. Crumble the cake (always fun for the kids) and add in 1 can of frosting. Throw it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

1. After refrigerating, dust off your Playdoh skills and form the mixture into balls. Then place a sucker stick into the top of each cake ball. Pop them into the refrigerator for another quarter hour.
2. While waiting, start melting your candy melts.
3. After 15 minutes in the fridge, dip and swirl each pop into your candy melt.
4. Once you’ve got an even coating on the cake pop, place the stick into a Styrofoam block while the candy melt shell hardens.
5. Announce to your family and friends that the cake pops are ready.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Darn YOU Hoffman!

Source: via Sharon Driscoll from Pinterest

Okay - so now I have to "shake off" this terrible computer surfing issue and get back to business. It's all Mallory's fault. She posted on her blog about the Pinterest site. It's an on-line bulletin board. Yup, that was her crime. Isn't just like the criminal to blame someone else? I love the photo above - Wouldn't you just like to shake off the day like that? I was visiting Pinterest tonight and see that the Lark Blog has been doing the same thing since I saw some neat things posted in both places today.

Yes, I know - Get off the computer Sharon. It's not a toy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mixed Bead Sets

I've been creating small batches of beads over the past couple of weeks, aside from the Christmas ones I've already listed. Since I've been working both in ceramic and lampwork I decided to concentrate on finding some complimentary colors to mix up into some sets. The contrast between the two is exactly what I wanted, although with glazes the ceramics are also shiny. I can't wait to mix in some metalsmithing. This is the set I just listed on Etsy. I kept it neutral and added a rustic heart I cast this summer. If you added a piece of leather and a few more pieces of silver it would make a great bracelet.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lark Book Giveaway

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it dozens of times here on the blog. Shout it from the mountain tops – I love books! Right now I am walking on air because I was just notified that I won one of Lark’s super fantastic book giveaways. On the way to my hot little hands and soon to be tired eyes and high blood sugar, from all of the eye candy (LOL), are 21 (yes – that is not a typo) Lark books coming to live at the Driscoll household.

And now – they are giving away another great batch (38) of their top titles. And how do I know these are so wonderful, you ask? I already own about 15 of them. They are invaluable as reference and inspiration. Someone has to win them – Why not you? Besides, it’s a great blog and they send out the best notices of fun new crafts, tips, and fun crafty things to so from their books.

Enter Here!

When the new books come I’ll post them here – I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Carnage Before Christmas?

Carnage in the front room - Is this Bones or CSI?


This is the younger retriever - Trudy. Do you think she knows it's almost the holiday? I'm beginning to wonder. She always unstuffs her toys but this seems a little bold to me...body parts are everywhere. It is like a little kid who keeps his blanket until there isn't anything left but a raggedy little corner. And, she loves her tattered pieces. I pick them up. She pulls them out.

New toys for Christmas? Maybe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kiln Full

Aside from torching I filled the tiny kiln with a little load of ceramic beads. I really need to find a better system because this is just kind of willy nilly. I should purchase more kiln stilts so I can arrange things both high and low. It's just a small kiln so there isn't much room but that is good. I really don't see me getting a bigger one. Sooner or later I will figure it out.

Do you like the "Candy" tag? This one is on Etsy and I have one I put with a peppermint designed bead and some crystals on a long necklace to wear. It would look good with glass chocolates and charms too.

How's your Holiday shopping going? So far for me - not so good. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hot Elves!

I suppose you were expecting to see a sexy elf? Sorry. This is my elf - I have a few to post for the holiday. This one is in used Ivory glass for the face and Bubblegum for the cheeks. He's a cutie and comes with a ceramic "Believe" in a golden green. I wish I could post more today but I have torching and photo editing (sizing) for Etsy to do. Later...

Saturday, December 3, 2011


One of the most fascinating things about a blog is that once in awhile you run across someone who is accessing it at the same time you are. In the case of my blog I can not tell you how excited I get when I see other countries pop up on my little world map. Europeans seem to be such global thinkers – and I feel as if I have lived in a box. Once in awhile I see someone check in from Russia so I wanted to say “Hello” and I looked up the translation.

Lest anyone think that isn’t very forward thinking of me since most of the world tends to be bi-lingual and us Americans tend to be spoiled by that I’d like to explain. It’s not that I haven’t heard or seen Russian. As a child I was not allowed to learn it or mimic what I heard. My maternal Grandparents were Russian. My Grandmother died before I was born but my Grandfather lived with us and until I grew up and moved out. He was a constant in my life. He spoke several languages and occasionally redressed my mother in Russian. When I’d ask him to teach me he would politely refuse. My mother told me it was because he believed you should assimilate to the country you chose to live in. Bunk I thought, but I respected his wishes.

My Grandfather taught me to dye eggs with onion skins, render fat for soap and make soap, grow a wicked garden and save the seeds of the best plants for next year, and so many wonderful things. How can you not love all of those things and be fascinated by the country that made him who he was?

Some where, I am sure, I am probably related to someone overseas – my Grandfather had family. He refused to tell us much – Bolsheviks, Khrushchev, and a great fear of someone punishing him for being the first born and being sent off by his family. He really did think if he went back to find family that he would be kept. How the world has changed, huh? I hope it continues to evolve and to my friend in Russia I hope you are reading and know how happy it makes me – personally and artistically, that you stop here to read this blog.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I thought I'd better mention something - although no one has brought this to my attention I was thinking about it today. My knowledge of ceramics was based on one absolutely perfect class taught by Jennifer Heynen (Jangles) at Bead and Button a couple of years ago. She was outstanding. I described my knowledge as fitting on pin-head because, unlike Jennifer, it is not my area of expertise. She is a wealth of information and an expert, having studied ceramics.

I just don't want anyone to think she is a poor teacher and that is why I referred to my knowledge as minuscule. SHE is the bomb and if you can take a class with her in Georgia at her shop or at Bead and Button you should jump on it.

Now - if you have an questions about lampworking or metalworking - I'm your gal.