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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good News for People Who Love Bad News

That was a modest mouse reference.... it's not really ALL bad news....

I mentioned a while back that I had applied for grad school at VCU.  Well, a few weeks ago, I got an email from the head of the metals department saying that they were impressed with my portfolio, but there was a very large, very competitive group of applicants this year, and currently I was at the top of the waiting list.  There were two positions open, and I was number three in line.  What a bitch.  So they were waiting to hear back from the one candidate ahead of me, and if they decided not to accept, I would be offered the position.  So I waited.  And waited.  And I saw the professor at a gallery opening, and she said she should know in a few days.  So I waited some more.  Finally, another week later, I emailed her, and she wrote back that she was sorry not to have emailed me at the beginning of the week, but they did not have a position for me this year.  Suck.  So I was pretty bummed.  But Mark helped cheer me up.  He's good at that.  It's funny how you feel good about something when you submit the application, and then as time passes, you feel worse and worse about it, and your confidence dwindles.  Then you hear that hey! they did like it!  there's a chance!!!  And you feel pretty good again.  Then you wait and wait and wait and your conifidence dwindles once again.  So by the time I finally got an answer, I guess it's kind of what I was expecting.  But I won't lie, it still sucked.

Guess you have to have some disappointments along the way.  We also found out that a house we had seen (awesome!) and were thinking about making an offer on got snatched up from under us.  Boooo.  Not a very good few days. 

But I feel a lot better today and can focus again on getting going.  Keep on keepin' on, as it were.

So I've been busy with various tasks here lately.  I had been putting off getting all my official business done, you know, the part where you have to get tax ID's and register your business and licenses, etc.  So I finally got around to that.  It seems like there is no clear answer on the web about exactly how you're supposed to get things done and in what order.  So I asked a friend who owns a small art-based business, and she was so helpful!  It's not that hard when you don't have 47 different websites telling to you to do various things and just not really being clear and concise.  So I will share it with you now:

1. Get a federal tax ID number, called an EIN from the IRS.
2. Register your fictitious business name (DBA) with your city or county Register of Deeds. (In Virginia, you can find that at the Circuit Court office) $10
3. Get a business license.

I haven't actually gotten the business license yet, but I'm on it! 

Now I can buy supplies from wholesalers, deduct expenses from my taxes, be eligible for many craft shows and fairs that won't accept you without at least a tax ID, and all kinds of other stuff.  Just have to be sure to keep immaculate records of my expenses as well as income.  My friend also told me about a free software for managing your finances at  So I will check that out.

Among other things, I took some work to Quirk Gallery here in Richmond.  They could only take consignment right now, but with the economy still being the way it is, I'll take it.  Obviously if someone will buy your work straight-up for wholesale prices, that is preferable, but I love this gallery and just really wanted to have some work there.  So if it sells well, maybe next time they will buy it wholesale.  Most of the other galleries that I have shown in for years have been on a consignment basis, so it's not like it's that big of a change for me.  One step at a time!

I also applied for Piedmont Craftsmen's Guild, a prestigious craft guild for artists working in the Southeastern US.  They are based in Winston-Salem NC, my home town.  I actually worked in their sales gallery right after college.  It is a two-part application process - an image jury, and then if you pass that, you are invited to show your work at their annual fair in November, where you are judged again based on how your work looks in person.  Whew!  But once you're in, you're a lifetime member.  Many of the best and most well-known craftsmen in the region are members, including my mentors, Andrea and Chuck Kennington and my former employer, Jon Kuhn.  Once a member, you are also invited to show your work in their gallery, participate in group shows, and show your work at the fair each year.  And just as an added bonus, it would drive JK crazy to have to call me a colleague.  Ha!

I also have a couple of shows lined up.  A faculty exhibition at the Sawtooth Center over the summer, and an alumni exhibition at ECU in the fall.  Nothing too fancy right yet, but they should both be very nice.  And I have a few more things in the works. 

So I'm trying not to let the whole not getting into grad school thing get me down.  I have a lot of things cookin', so hopefully things will take off soon!  Guess I better get back to work.  Sorry no pictures today!  I'll have some for next time.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

For the Wedding Scene

Ok, I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think I'm going to go for it - just need to figure out the right way to market it for maximum exposure....

It's mid-spring now, and wedding season is just getting started.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I got married last summer - it was an amazing day - you'll see!  And speaking from experience, I know brides are always looking for little details, especially artistic and handmade, to add to their big day.  I was lucky enough to be able to make many of these items for my own wedding myself, with the help of talented friends and family.  But many people don't have that luxury - they don't have the time or the resources or the motivation.  That's where I come in! 

Now, we seriously made A LOT of the items for our wedding.  Both because it saved us some money and because it was just more special that way.  We made the save-the-date postcards, the programs (fans! - it was outside in August), I calligraphed the envelopes for the invitations - my awesome sister-in-law printed them for us through her business Sassafras Paper.  As decor/favors my mom and a whole group of friends and family and I made little clay birds that hung on trees in the tent as decor and then people got to take them home.  Mom and I arranged all the flowers for the centerpieces ourselves in her antique milk glass china.  My super-talented friend Annie made 600+ origami paper cranes that I strung into a curtain to line one side of the tent.... So many things.  But what I'm going to focus on here are the bridesmaids' jewelry, which were some of the reversible disc earrings you have seen samples of already, and the copper cones I made for the gents' boutonnieres.

This is a close-up of Mark's boutonniere:

And here are our handsome groomsmen sporting theirs:

I wish I had taken a couple pictures pre-flower, but I wasn't really thinking about that at the time.  I'll make more.  They are basically just a cone made out of copper, with a commercial pin stem soldered to the back with a handmade catch.  The copper cone has a decorative cut along the front seam, but you can't see that right here.  I'll dig Mark's out this weekend, and see if I can take some photos.

But I think couples looking for special touches to add to their wedding would love to have something like this!  Just have the florist put the flowers in so they'll stay put, and you've got some sharp-looking gentlemen!

And now the jewelry!  I really hate that I don't have better detail shots of the ladies' jewelry, but I'll figure something out for marketing purposes... 

Being a girl who clearly loves color, that was definitely going to be a big part of the wedding, I actually found the dresses at David's Bridal and then I found enamels to match.  (They will give [sell] you handy-dandy little color swatches for all your matching needs.)  Here you can see my friend Emily and my sister Catherine are wearing their earrings in pretty closely matched colors to their dresses.

I knew I wanted to do the reversible earrings, because that's just fun.  Here's a picture of all the girls, then I'll explain what I did...

So Emily, in the sangria-colored dress on the right, her earrings were sangria on one side (seen in the first pic) and bright orange, the color of Andi's dress on the left - you can almost tell in this photo.  Andi's were bright orange on one side and red on the reverse.  Emily H. is in the red dress, hers were red on one side, grape purple on the other side like Cat's dress.  Cat's were grape purple and darker orange like Lindsey's dress.  And Lindsey can't wear regular earrings, so I made her a reversible pendant, which is sangria (seen) with the dark orange to match her dress on the reverse side.

So I am working on a way to market this right now.  Really wishing I had a more detailed shot.  (Wonder if I can convince the girls to get all dressed back up again.  Hmmm... maybe if I butter them up with more jewelry.  Tee-hee!  They did look beautiful though!)  What I'm thinking is, I would have the bride send me fabric samples of her bridesmaids' dresses or whatever it is she would like to have the jewelry matched to.  We'd work out color combinations, and she'd have her own custom-made jewelry to give to her friends as a thank-you.  Love it! 

Leave me comments if you have any ideas about how/where to market this idea for maximum exposure.  I'm thinking could be a good place to start.  I also have some friends in the wedding biz, so perhaps some sort of mutual advertising or trade situation could be arranged.  I love having talented friends!

Speaking of which, I would like to give photo credit to Emily Barefoot of Emily Alane Photography for all of these photos exept the one of the groomsmen, which a friend took.  And if you follow that link, it will take you to the "featured weddings" section of her website, and you can see more beautiful shots of our wedding (the one that says "Mark and Annie") should you be so inclined after I've talked it up this whole posting.  It really was an amazing day, and Emily Alane did a magnificent job capturing it.  If you're getting married, call that girl!  For real, fabulous!

Ok, I'm off to plan and market and do business research...............  woot woot!  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Double Disc Mania!

Ok, here are the photos I was trying to post yesterday of the new reversible disc pendants:

Front                               Reverse

Front                             Reverse

These and 3 other pendants with different color combos are currently available exclusively on my etsy page.  And for a limited time (till the end of April), you can use the coupon code "doublediscs" to get free shipping!

Just sayin'.... Mother's Day is coming up, and if your mom (or wife) is the fun and funky type like mine, these makes fine gifts.

As Mom's Day draws a little closer, there will be other coupons.  And more jewelry!  So check back!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

Wow, I am behind on the blogging scene.  I haven't been on in about a week, and there are several blogs I follow that need some attention.  Some are fun, some are inspiring, some are business.  And I guess it's those that I really need to catch up on.  Ready? Go!

Last week was pretty busy, and I would like to say the business was busy, but that was not so much the case.  I did take photos of the new pendants and edited several of those, and I did some research and this that and the other.  But I'll be honest, photo editing is boring, and it's sometimes hard to stay focused and inspired. 

Also... I was a bit distracted with prepping the house for our first weekend visitors!  My college roommate Lindsey (check out her blog, GROW) her husband Mike, and their little boy Mason came up for a visit.  We had a great time exploring Richmond, going to parks, eating good food, drinking good wine, and reminiscing about old times.  Even broke out the old photo albums.  (We drank a lot of tequila back in the day.)  Lindsey and Mike are very creative people - Lindsey was in art school with me - and being around them is always inspiring.  They have great ideas, especially about home, garden, decor, and collecting... and all that gets those creative juices flowing.  Even brings up ideas for jewelry!  So hopefully, more new work soon!

So after the excitement of the weekend died down a little bit, I got back to work yesterday and finished editing all of the reversible disc pendant photos.  The server won't seem to let me add any pictures right now, so I'll try again later.  But for now, you can see them all on etsy

Ok, admittedly, that was a mediocre update, but I have several things in the works, and I don't wait to spoil anything.  So you will just have to wait!  I'll try to be better about posting this week, so check back!  And as always, thanks for reading!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Faaaabulous NC Black Weekend!

I mentioned a while back that I have been working for NC Black Co., a fabulous small tool company owned and operated by my dear friends Andrea and Chuck Kennington, Les Bryant, and Andreas Schmoll.  My time with NC Black has been few and far between since our move to Richmond, so this weekend Mark and I went down and had a mini workshop at their home base in Mount Airy, NC.   Chuck and I are debuting the brand new Micro-Raising workshop at the Sawtooth Center in Winston-Salem, NC in May, and we needed to meet up and figure out lesson plans, and really just how to teach this stuff.  So Mark came along as our "beginner level" student, and was very helpful with asking questions and just letting us know what and how much we need to explain.  Mark has some experience with metasmithing - he actually took the NC Black Hand and Hammer Engraving workshop back in the fall, but this was his first experience with raising. 

I should probably take a minute and explain what raising is...  by definition, Raising is "a method of creating a seamless form by contraction; the height of the form increases while the diameter decreases. A flat disc of metal is hammered against a metal stake (an unyielding surface), and the side of the disc hammered becomes the outside of the workpiece." (Silversmithing, Finegold and Seitz, 1983). 

Much of my portfolio work involves this process.  Bascially, you take a flat disc of copper (or silver or other malleable metal), you start by sinking the metal into a shallow bowl form (I do this in a wooden stump with depressions carved into it for this purpose.)  Then, you hammer the piece from the outside over the end of a metal stake, from the bottom up, course after course, until you have hammered this flat disc into a vessel form.  It take A LOT of hammering, but it's really a lot of fun and quite satisfying to see how far you can form a piece of metal.  This can be done on a larger scale, like a lot of my older work, but the workshops we're teaching are for Micro-Raising.  So this weekend we started with 3" discs.

Actually, I think Chuck was working on a 2" disc.

Here's Mark texturing his piece toward the end of the day.

See, they're pretty teeny, but very cool!  Here's Mark's finished piece.  Not bad for a beginner, eh?  I was impressed!

If you want to see more micro-raising from our last workshop, check out my album.  I started several different shapes just to get a feel for the process on a micro scale and to potentially have some ideas to share with my future students.

So we had a great day with the NC Black team before heading on down a little further south to visit my parents and see some great live music!  I gotta go ahead and give them a shout-out, because I know a lot of people reading here are music fans!  The band is called Sanctum Sully, untraditional bluegrassy music with a jammin' rockin' good time sound!  They played at High Rock Outfitters, a delightful outfitter/kayak/outdoorsy adventure shop that is also a coffee shop and have just now started selling beer and wine in the evenings for shows, etc.  It's in downtown, Lexington, NC, and is definitely worth checking out if you're ever in the area.  It's a small venue for some great bands on the weekends, and Sanctum Sully was no exeption.  Good times!

Incidentally, I also have some jewelry for sale at HRO.  I mean, fishing fly earrings?  Yes, please!

Ok, that was a shameless plug, but they're fun. 

So I'm off to take some photos of the new pendants from last week, so as always, thanks for reading!