Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #31: Shifting Gears ...Temporarily

Hi there! I decided to write this week's blog post early, as I am going to a barbecue later today with some high school friends -- and I know I won't want to do it whenever I get home! I also needed to shift gears from what I was doing earlier.

I spent much of this morning figuring out a pair of earrings a coworker recently requested. She showed me photos of two very large pairs of earrings, and asked if I could make similar ones for her. I came up with a few viable ideas over the past couple of days, so I worked on one last night and the other one today. Last night's project is far from finished, but it will take me a while to get it done. It involves beading over a base bead with seed beads, making the original bead larger, more textured, and a totally different color! The photo in question uses crocheted beads, I think. I couldn't find anything appropriate online the other day and I can't crochet, so I thought I would try this approach. Since each earring has nine gradually larger beads on it, I have to make 18 beads and then string them on Memory Wire for the earrings. I figure I will work on them a little bit at a time over the next week or two, since my coworker isn't in any hurry. :) The second pair are less complicated, but I used Brown Jasper beads on the "prototype" and in pricing them out, I realized they were way above her budget. I've got smaller Czech firepolished glass beads that may work -- they are much cheaper than the gemstone beads -- but I am not motivated at the moment to take the first pair apart and start all over again! Hence, my decision to write today's blog post instead. ;)

In addition to these two pairs of earrings, I have one other simpler pair to make for another coworker, and a necklace for a third coworker, with possibly a pair of matching earrings. I also have to put a lot of my recent material purchases in the database, so that I can price out pieces accurately. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed at the moment, but this was what I asked for when I started this business, right? ;)

Thankfully, things lightened up at the office this week, so I wasn't as worn out most days when I got home. I did end up working overtime on Friday, but that wasn't as stressful as a few weeks ago. :)

This past Tuesday, I began the private lessons I mentioned last week. The student is very nice, but a bit unfocused. Hopefully, I can help her complete a pair of earrings soon. My mother suggested something I already knew -- that if she can finish something, even something simple, it will boost her confidence and enthusiasm to continue. We have our second session tomorrow afternoon.

The new Focal Piece of the Month is up on the website. I also posted it to both Facebook pages this morning. Facebook is acting weird. The Virtual Mall page had 1 "Like" this morning until I refreshed the page, then the 450+ came back. The Something Tangible page had 23 "Likes" before refreshing...and it is back down to 1 now! :( Luckily, the lists of "People who like" seem to still be intact. :)

In other social media-related news, the STVirtualMall Twitter account reached 1,000+ followers this week! :D

That's about all I've got for now. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 30: Experimenting, Private Lessons, & Hiding From The Heat!

Hello, people! :)

I've been doing a lot of playing/experimenting this week. I was attempting to create a piece in time for's 2011 Gold Club One-of-a-Kind (OOAK) Contest deadline on July 31. I'm a Gold Club member, meaning that I purchased enough supplies from to qualify for this "elite" status. I wanted to submit a copper-wrapped pendant I made last week using a small leftover piece of the Crystal Geode that I beaded as a paperweight, but the contest rules state the OOAK item must be purchased from within the past three months, and they will ask for an order number if you move to the next round. Looking at my records, I purchased the Crystal Geodes in November 2010, so that's too long ago. :\ I purchased a new OOAK gemstone cabochon earlier this week, and it arrived on Saturday. I worked on it this morning, and my mother LOVES the final piece! I'm still finding my way with wire-wrapping. I had to use sterling silver wire, which mars easily if you aren't careful. The piece isn't perfect, but it's nice enough to the untrained eye. Unfortunately, the judges will undoubtedly have trained eyes! :o

Anyway, I was playing around with WireLace®, and created a copper knit chain for the Crystal Geode pendant using 1mm WireLace®. I like the way it turned out! For the piece I made for the contest, I didn't have 1mm in the correct color (seafoam) to pick up the shade in the pendant, so I decided to braid together 6mm WireLace® in black, seafoam, and aluminum. The stone is black and green, and the wrapping is silver. I wanted to knit a chain, but I tested that out on 6mm copper, pale silver, and brass WireLace®. I ended up with a bracelet with a focal knit bead in the center, as the three pieces of wider WireLace® made a very bulky weave. Mom likes the bracelet, too...I'm not sure I like it. However, if Mom does...hopefully someone else will, too! ;)

You can read about another experimental piece later this week, when the new Focal Piece of the Month is posted. ;) I REALLY have to start cataloging my newer pieces in the database and pricing them out. I've been posting pictures to Facebook, but I haven't updated the website store in eons!

I forgot to mention last week that I'm testing out a new feature on Facebook: it's a Payvment storefront. A while back, I entered some pieces and prices, but I never activated it. I activated it last week on both the Something Tangible LLC and Something Tangible Virtual Mall pages. If you want to check them out, click on "Shop Now" on the left-hand side menu on either page. :)

I received an exciting email earlier in the week from Suzanne Banfield, who taught the five-hour workshop I attended recently. She wanted to know if I would consider giving private wire jewelry-making lessons to a student who wants extra help! She doesn't offer private lessons herself, but she thought I might enjoy it. I was very flattered she thought of me! :D I've been in touch with the student, and we will hopefully get together later this week. She only wants a couple of 1-1/2 hour sessions, but that's fine by me! Any extra cash is better than none. :)

If you're following weather news lately, you know we're having a major heat wave up and down the East Coast. Man, it is BRUTAL here in New Jersey! I think it was up to 105 degrees mid-week, and "down" to 99 degrees on Friday. I just want to hibernate in the air conditioning until fall.

Have a great week and STAY COOL! :)

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 29: Seriously Overworked and "The Thorn Birds"

Hey, all! As anticipated, I worked a lot of extra hours at the office last week. As a part-timer, my work week is regularly 25 hours. I clocked in 43-1/2 hours last week! I will be grateful when the paycheck comes, but it was torture getting to the weekend! :p Luckily, the coworker whose job I was doing is back in tomorrow...although he may be going to Jury Duty on Tuesday! :\

On Friday night, Mom and I watched the second half of The Thorn Birds 20th Anniversary DVD (2003). I had bought it as a gift for Mom sometime last year and we started it last weekend. It's still a moving story, and the deaths of various characters still got to me, even though I knew they were coming. I must've seen the mini-series at least three or four times before, but it had been so long that I forgot some key details. In the DVD commentary, Richard Chamberlain called it one of the "three or four best films ever aired on American television." I can't argue with him on that! I watched The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years by myself last night. I'd only viewed it once before and concluded there was a reason they were missing! LOL :o Having just seen the original, the incongruities were magnified. There was a lack of continuity, largely because no one involved -- with the exception of Richard Chamberlain -- were part of the original, not even the production staff! Needless to say, it showed IMHO. :\

While watching TV last night, I worked on my beaded Crystal Geode paperweight. I still have a little bit to do in the back. I had to switch to smaller seed beads because I was running low on the larger ones. Obviously, using smaller beads takes much longer. :p Earlier this week, I finished up the brass, bronze, & copper wire knit chain I started at last week's workshop; and then today I created a silver one for the wire-wrapped pendant I made at the workshop and took a stab at creating a knit bracelet with hemp cord. It turned out pretty well, although not perfect. Working with the wire is much more forgiving because pulling it through a drawplate compacts the chain and hides the flaws. ;)

I still have a few chores to do and I want to get to bed early so I am ready for work tomorrow morning. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 28: Wireworking, Girls' Softball, & A New Car

Hey, folks! Boy, am I glad this week is over...but next week looks to be just as hectic!

As I mentioned last week, I attended a five-hour workshop yesterday. It was taught by Suzanne Banfield (sb designs), one of the teachers of the Madison, Chatham & Florham Park Adult School classes I took last year. I learned how to make a wire knit chain and to wire wrap a cabochon pendant. I'm so excited! These two skills will help me immensely, as they will open up a lot of new options for me in creating pieces. :D

Sales are picking up again with the help of a couple of ladies in my office. They both like their accessories to match their outfits, so they are always adding to their collections! ;)

I joined the CraftEdu Community this week, a Ning-style group for crafty people. One of the BSNJ members is teaching a class through them and sent the link to the Society's Yahoo group, so I checked it out. I wasn't really planning to be an active participant, but one of the instructors asked me to post pictures of my work, so I may as well get that exposure. ;) I also asked to be put on the outreach list for the South Amboy Arts Festival in September, after another BSNJ member passed on that information to the Society.

As expected, I ended up working really late at the office Thursday and Friday, and I will probably end up working late at least four out of five days this week, since we are short-staffed in our department. I didn't get online at all after Wednesday night, since I had the BSNJ Board meeting on Thursday and I was totally fried on Friday night. I ended up staying up until 3:30 a.m. last night going through 155+ emails after my all-day workshop! Needless to say, I hope to keep up better this week to avoid that situation again. :p

Did I mention I got a new car? I leased a 2011 Nissan Sentra (6-speed manual) after being told that my 1997 Nissan Sentra GLE could not pass inspection the week before. It was really time, even though the car had less than 75,000 miles on it. The visors didn't stay up without Velcro and duct tape, the rubber pad was affixed to my clutch with electrical tape, and the "check engine" light had been on for three years -- ultimately the reason I failed inspection. There was also a slow leak in one of the tires, so I was monitoring it regularly to fill it with air every few weeks. Needless to say, I am thrilled to leave those issues behind me, even if the car cost more than I was originally led to believe (not surprisingly, of course!).

I spent this afternoon out in the hot sun watching my younger niece play softball at the Bridgewater, NJ stadium where the Somerset Patriots (Atlantic League of Professional Baseball) play in a fundraiser for the Patriots Children's Fund and local softball programs around the New Jersey. Her team won 15 to 6! The coaches pitch in the tournament league, so she wasn't on the pitcher's mound today. She did make a few really impressive plays and batted at least one double! :D It's a nice stadium...I hadn't been there before.

That's about all I have for now. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #27: Happy Independence Day, USA!

Hi, everyone! I've been a bit lazy for the past couple of days. It's been unbelievably muggy and today was gray and rainy all day, so I had no energy to do much. I caught a head cold in the middle of the week because I slept with the air conditioning on, so that knocked me for a bit of a loop. I had switched from the name brand Allegra-D over-the-counter medication to a pharmacy store brand, and it did NOT work! I had to go get the name brand...and I felt better within an hour of taking it! Who'd think a minor change in the inactive ingredients would make such a difference? :p

As promised, the new Focal Piece of the Month is up. Chime in and let me know what you think of the modified writing different style!

I submitted a few pieces for consideration in the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council's Wearable Art for women, Men & Children fundraiser in November. One of the BSNJ members is active on the council and forwarded the information to us. Atlantic Highlands is pretty far south of me, but it would be worth it for the exposure and to hopefully sell some of my inventory. :)

In addition, I sent eight pieces for inclusion in the Bead Society's display at the Rumson Oceanic Library this month. Just like last year, it's a fundraiser for the Library, with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting the facility. I sold a few pieces there last year, so I'm hoping to do so again this year! Ideally, I would like to submit pieces to shows that do not require my presence at a table all day. Less work for me and I can also take advantage of more opportunities, since I can't be in two places at once. ;)

We have our final wrap-up Board meeting for BSNJ this week, and I am attending an all-day wire workshop on Saturday, as I mentioned last week. Things at the office are going to be quite busy as well, with people taking summer vacations and the rest of us being shuffled around to fill in the gaps. July is going to be a crazy month! :o

I hope everyone celebrating the 4th of July enjoys the three-day weekend!

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