Saturday, March 7, 2015

With all of the snow days lately (my kids have had exactly one full week of school since mid-December!), I haven't gotten nearly as much work done on the shop as I'd like.  But things do keep moving along.  Today I was fortunate to have my "Wisdom Listens" necklace included in a wonderful Etsy treasury titled "Pearls of Wisdom"!

'Pearls of Wisdom' by thatotherrabbit

Pearls of Wisdom for your day, wisdom comes in many shapes and sizes and when you find it in pearls? Celebrate!

Pearls of Wisdom, medium

Foster Parent, Foster Care, ...

Pearls of Wisdom - 6x6 Paper...

Antique Chinese Sterling Dra...

Pearl of wisdom - Wisdom lis...

Bookmark - Gold Eastern drag...

Pearls of Wisdom and Grace,P...

Pearl of Wisdom Bronze Penda...

Philosophy quote art: Unders...

Thank You Cards, Handmade Th...

Pearls of Wisdom

Wisdom Cat - Virtue Kitty - ...

Pearls of Wisdom: If it is t...

natural brass winged words o...

Pearls of Wicked Wisdom--bla...
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Seeing my work beside that of other talented artists definitely motivates me to keep coming up with new ideas, and test my boundaries.  I have a few techniques I'm interested in trying out and a lot of Mothers Day related ideas floating around in my head.  Hopefully all of that will translate to some new and exciting things for the shop in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wah wah wah wah wah...

Yesterday was a big day in Fairietale Land.  I wrote this the night before, and for some reason it never got published so I'm doing that now.  :-)

I've been taking a little time off from the jewelry because I'm starting a new (part-time) job.  The kind you get paid for.  And unlike my last they-give-me-money-in-exchange-for-work situation, I can't wear my PJs and bunny slippers for this one.  It requires actually leaving the house.  Looking presentable.  And like I know something more interesting than how to make a PB&J sandwich or get dirt stains out of someone's favorite pants after a dust up on the playground.

In my pre-Big and Little life, I was a teacher.  A college professor, specifically.  Just about 12 years ago, when I was pregnant with Big, my husband got the job of his dreams and we ended up moving to another state.  The husband moved first since I was mid-semester at the time.  We'd talked about me being a stay at home mom, at least for the first couple of years, and I was looking forward to that.  Which worked out, since once I'd finished up and followed him to the new abode, I looked sort of like I'd swallowed a large basketball and wasn't really in top interviewing form anyway.

Years later, a good friend asked me to be her "Discussion Leader" for an on-line class she was teaching.  Basically I helped out with grading, facilitating the required on-line discussions as needed, answering questions.  All from the comfort of my home office (hence the PJs and slippers!), with most of the heavy lifting related to course design and content on somebody else's plate.  Did that a few times and it was a great experience.  Different from traditional brick and mortar teaching but not in a bad way.

Now that Big and Little are actually becoming independent human beings instead of blobs requiring constant care and feeding growing up, I had some free time and decided to explore my options a little.  Found a job posting at the local community college for adjunct faculty in my field and submitted an application.  Got called in for an interview (the strangest one of my life, but that's another story!).  And tomorrow, for the first time in over a decade, I'm setting foot in an actual classroom.  With real students.  Whom I need to amaze and entertain for 115 minutes twice a week over the course of the next 12 weeks.

I have nightmares in which my classroom looks something like this -

I'd forgotten how much work goes into this.  Creating a syllabus.  Coming up with assignments that actually teach something but don't bore the students into a coma.  Timing.  I have no idea how much I can/should pack into 115 minutes.  How much will they talk?  What do I do if they don't talk?  That means *I* have to talk!

Now I have a headache and am definitely freaked out.  The good news is that means I've got nowhere to go but up.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Friends forever.
Maybe longer.

Big came up to me the other day and said "You were in college 15 years ago?"  After a bit of confusion, we eventually we figured out she'd been looking at my diplomas on the office wall and hadn't been reading my bachelor's.  If she had, the number would have been a bit bigger, which was what threw me off at first.  I'm old.  That thing is practically written on papyrus with an inked quill.

Which made me feel a little nostalgic.  Grateful that I can still remember that many years ago, too.

Do you have any friends dating back that far?  I'll admit that I really don't.  Between my undergraduate and graduate degrees I went to four colleges in four states.  I've also moved four times since finishing that last degree.  They say things come in threes so I wonder what it means that I've got so many "fours" in my life.  Apparently I just need an extra whatever it is in order to get the job done.  But I digress...back to my lack of "knew you from the cradle" friends.  My friends these days are "mommy friends", people I've met through play groups and school and whatnot since moving to my current state while pregnant with Big.

My last custom order, though, was four necklaces for four women who have been friends since college.  One of the ladies ordered them to give as gifts during a girls' weekend back at their alma mater.  I won't give too many specifics (since they're my age!), so as not to be forced to admit that not all of my gray hair has been caused by my children, but I will say that I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all those years.  Besides, if you've managed to retain more brain cells over the years than I have, you can figure a couple of things out from the pictures anyway.

I was given pretty much free reign with these, and the end result was different from my original design.  Better, in my opinion.  And from what I've been told, they went over well.

I love custom orders.  The items I make for the shop still let me be creative, but there's something different about coming up with an idea that's tailored for a specific person, to reflect their personality and history, and then experiencing their reaction to what I've done.   That adds a little extra magic to the process, at least for me.  Next up on the custom order train is a cuff bracelet for my mom.  It'll let me play a bit more with my new favorite toys, a set of stick figure people.  Not today, I'm planning on doing nothing more than making and eating some homemade pizza and enjoying the (hopefully good) commercials in between downs of some pesky football game.  :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Once (again) upon a time...

I am many things.  I'm a wife and mother.  I'm a daughter.  I'm a teacher.  I'm a coffee-addicted Type A personality who is also a picky eater and a regular but extremely reluctant exerciser.

What I am apparently NOT is a blogger.  Because if I were, it wouldn't have been so long since my last post.  This almost feels like I'm starting the blog all over again.

As part of my grand Plan for 2015, I'm focusing more on some of the things that I let get away from me last year.  It only took me 27 days to get around to the "blog more" part of that.  I haven't stopped writing 2014 on checks yet, so I'm still ahead of the game in my opinion.

Schools here had a snow day today, a whole 1 1/2 inches on the ground which around here could potentially keep my girls home for a week.  Never let it be said that our schools aren't serious about protecting students in cold, snowy conditions.  A snowflake?  Keep them home, they might get cold waiting for the bus!  So instead my girls stayed home and spent an hour outside making snow angels and freezing their behinds off.  They'd have been warmer and safer in school, if you ask me.  Plus the whole learning thing.  I made them do homework this morning which earned a comment of "grown ups are annoying" from Little.  My response was "yes, that's our job, so apparently I'm doing it well today."

(Note - while I don't necessarily agree with a lot of the calls made by our school board members and occasionally joke about them, I really do respect that their goal is the overall safety of thousands of students throughout the county and it's got to be a tough job...I know certainly wouldn't want that responsibility.)

I got some work done myself while they were playing.  Since I sort of had to sit where I could see them, in case somebody licked the swing set and got their tongue stuck or some such nonsense, I figured I might as well stamp something.  My work bench is out in the garage, but for the winter my husband built me a few goodies that allowed me to move into the family room, from where I have a full view of the yard.  Win-win.

I set myself up with my adorable new stick figure family (thanks to my parents for the amazing holiday gift!) and put this little bracelet together -

Big was glad to see that I stamped her as the "teen girl" instead of the "little girl".  Because she's "a pre-teen now, Mom!" (complete with obnoxious, pre-teen tone when spoken!).  Little doesn't much care either way.  The "little girl" has a bow so it's all good as far as she's concerned.  Oh, and I can't forget a shout out to my in-laws, givers of the amazing font stamps I used for the "MOM" charm.  It was definitely a "jewelry making" sort of holiday for me!

Hope all of you who got more snow than we did are safe and warm.  Those who didn't get any snow (and/or whose kids got to leave the house today!) are welcome to any more of the white stuff that might want to fall here for the rest of the winter...just let me know, and I'll send it your way.  Personally, I'm ready for Spring.  :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wedding Day!

Dream.  Love.                                

I've been hiding a pretty big project for a while, but now I can finally share it!

My sister-in-law got engaged last July.  The wedding was set for 7/7/14 (love the date!) in Greece and my family was looking forward to an amazing trip.  Especially Big and Little, who had fancy new dresses for their roles as flower girls.

As if that wasn't all exciting enough, back around Easter, my sister-in-law and her fiance asked me to make charms that could be attached to their wedding favors.  I was incredibly honored, and thrilled to do it.  They had great ideas about what they wanted, so between that and a few suggestions from me I was off and running!

It started with 100 circles, each 7/8" diameter, in copper and aluminum.  Here they are after I've removed the protective coating and counted them (more than once) to be sure I had enough!

First, I hammered each one with at texturing hammer.  Then the aluminum ones were stamped "DREAM" with a swirl design, and the copper blanks said "LOVE" with a heart.  Fortunately for my sanity, the bride and groom wanted things a bit whimsical so the design stamps didn't need to be perfectly aligned and exactly the same from one charm to another!

No matter how often I washed my hands after adding color to the words and designs for depth/contrast, they still looked like this for about a week.  Well worth it, though!

Finally, I punched a hole in each charm, curved it, and added a jump ring and channel round Swarovski crystal (blue for the aluminum, red for the copper).

The final result -

All that was left was for me to get them safely to the wedding, which was being held in Greece.  I had many a nightmare about being stopped at security with a box full of metal in my carry on, let me tell you!  The wedding invitation was packed in there right along with the charms, just in case, but I made it through security in three different countries/airports without getting flagged.  Not sure if that's a good thing or not...on one hand, I got them there without a hitch but on the other, yeah...I just carried a whole lot of metal on two international and one domestic flight with no questions asked.  Apparently a whole lot of tissue paper can confuse the x-ray machine, in case you're wondering.

It was a huge relief to hand them over to my sister-in-law so she could take them to the florist.  Next time I saw them, they were at each place setting at the reception attached to bouboniera (traditional Greek favors given at celebrations like weddings and christenings, filled with koufeta - Jordan almonds).

Congratulations to my sister-in-law and her new husband!  Wishing them a lifetime of happy dreams and much love.  And of course I have to add a shout out to their gorgeous flower girls for doing such a great job.  Mommy is very proud of you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything.    - John Grossman

I'm beyond impressed at the ability so many bloggers have to put something out there, sometimes as regularly as  And it's stuff people enjoy reading, they aren't just typing out the phone book or sharing obscure poetry (although I'm sure, somewhere in the world, there's an audience for even that).

I haven't posted in almost a month.  Obviously, I am not one of those people.  But if the quote I cited above is true, then I'm very present, right?  That's got to be worth something.

I find blogging to be something of a challenge.  It feels strange to write about myself, and the things I'm doing.  Why would anyone who doesn't know me want to read about it?  Does the fact that Little is finally getting the hang of spelling, or that Big has started her state standardized testing and, for the first year, isn't stressed to the point of tears, mean anything to anyone outside of my family?  Confidence has always been a sticking point for me.  I'm not especially interesting or worthy in my opinion; I'm just a wife and a mom who does what has to be done.  To me, the fact that my house is clean and my kids are, too, along with them being healthy, well-fed, and reasonably decent human beings, is just every day kind of stuff that anyone could do if she wanted to.

Which, I suppose, brings me back to why I blog even though I don't love it.  I started designing jewelry so that my girls grow up realizing that who and what they are is good enough.  That they have the ability to do anything and everything they want in life if only they're willing.  That you don't need to wear a tiara or a cape (or both, if you'd like!) to have super powers.  And the blog is an extension of that, where I get to explain some of the behind-the-scenes stuff and keep a record of the process.

The hope is that they grow up with a quiet, strong confidence in themselves.  I want them to have what I still struggle to find on a daily basis.  I'm getting there, with their help, and this is my way of returning the favor.

I made these for them today -

Sculpey clay hearts, with the handwritten word Love and a crystal.  I'm going to add a cord so that they can wear them as necklaces.  The plan was to try something new that I could possibly add to my jewelry designs, only to realize that while I'd bought the clay, I had no tools to use with it!  So I did the best I could, just to see how I felt about the process.  Props to people who do this a lot.  I'm going to have some serious muscles in my arms from conditioning this stuff!  It was sort of fun to play with, but I'm not sure I want to invest in the items I'd need to really make an attempt at a marketable product.  Regardless, the kids will be excited.

They'll be home any minute.  Can't wait to see their smiling faces!  Unless, of course, somebody got hit, kicked, yelled at or stepped on during the bus ride, or has too much homework.  In which case I'll be seriously tempted to chase down the driver and ask if he'll take them back now, instead of waiting for morning.  :-)  Just kidding, but I will be locking myself in a bathroom in that case, for a little Mommy Time Out.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

You don't take a photograph, you make it.
- Ansel Adams

I've learned lately that there is definitely a difference between "taking" a photograph and "making" one.  The latter requires a lot more work than I ever dreamed.  I've never been a great photographer.  Oh, I've read books like Digital Photograph for Dummies, and even took a half-day hands-on course.  It all went right over my head...terms like depth of focus and white balance and shutter speed went in one ear and out the other.  Things got much better once I embraced my camera-illiteracy.  Compensation comes in the form of a fancy-shmancy DSLR that is decidedly smarter than I am, and on which I rely to make up for my many shortcomings.  For a long time, things were good in picture-land.

That's because with kids, the combo of ignorance and good equipment works pretty well for me.  Big and Little never stand still for pictures anyway.  So the fact that I didn't know an f-stop from a truck stop was never a big problem until I realized that a jewelry business wasn't going to work out too well if I couldn't show my pieces to potential customers.

This was one of my original attempts.  I was all about the backgrounds, and props.  Notice the pinkish white blob in the upper right hand corner - that's the petal of a fairly ugly silk rose.  And the lovely, crinkly purple paper I let Big and Little talk me into (in their defense, it didn't take much convincing...I was thinking my business color scheme, sparkly like fairies, all that jazz).  Would you buy this piece?  I wouldn't, and I 1) made it, and 2) consider it one of my favorites!  But this was the look of my entire Etsy shop when I opened it and I thought I'd done this amazing thing, finally getting everything photographed and cohesive.

After a couple of weeks, during which time I actually managed to sell a couple of items in spite of the photographs, I realized I needed to step up my game.  A lot of Googling tips and tricks helped me decide to simplify things.

Round two turned my dining room table into a photography studio. Immediately I noticed one thing...the background made a difference. Without the deep purple and the sparkly glare, my pieces stood out more.  I still couldn't let go of my prop obsession, which had me painting twigs I scavenged in the yard and using them.   You know, because of that princess in the woods thing (I mean, the company is called Fairietale Designs, after all).  Sleeping Beauty lived in a cottage in the woods, Snow White escaped to them, Merida followed the will o' the wisps through woods, Rapunzel's tower was hidden in the forest.

Well, it sort of made sense and seemed appropriate at the time.  The shop still didn't have that clean, as-close-to-professional as I was going to get look that I wanted, that I saw in so many other shops.  I decided to try again.  This time I used a new approach...clean, simple, outdoors in natural light.  Nothing fancy, just me, my camera, and the jewelry.  What I didn't realize was just how much went into this "simple looking" way of making a picture...the right time of day, knowing where the light was coming from, the dreaded "white balance" (which I'm honestly still faking any true knowledge of!).

This is where I am now.  Perfect? Far from it.  But light years from those original photos!  When I look at my shop, I'm happy with what I see.  It's cohesive.  It's clean.  What jumps out at you is the jewelry, not the colors or the staging or the props.

I'll still never be a pro.  I trash far more pictures then I keep, and I'm grateful if an hour's work yields one or two decent pictures.  But I'm learning.  And as I try to teach my girls, that's what life is all about.  You can teach an old dog new tricks (or, more accurately, the new dog can teach herself as long as she wants to learn).  I hope that Big and Little eventually understand and embrace that idea for themselves.