Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Little More Eye Candy

I'm busy changing out every.single.price tag. on ALL of my jewelry, from the old tired dumbbell tags to the NEW and IMPROVED super-wonderful die-cut paper tags (I'll show you later, I promise), so not much time to write, so I'll just keep showing you jewelry that will eventually get to the web site. I promise.

A substantial but slinky handmade chain in the Kings Maille pattern, adorned with silver flowers and a large foiled moonstone box clasp. Gorgeous, don't you think?

Handmade lampwork glass, Swarovski crystal, and sterling silver make a safari-inspired bracelet. You can't see the pattern on the toggle in this picture, but it's patterned with vines and leaves.
See more jewelry at www.lorianderson.net!



Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grumpy.

I'm grumpy.

I'm working on taxes.

Bah.

Part of the joy of running your own business is the agony of tax time. I run a tight ship, using QuickBooks to keep everything legal.

I pay sales taxes quarterly to five different states, each with their own different due dates. That's not the hard part, or even the painful part. I collect sales tax at each show, I never consider it mine, I don't cook the books or hide the cash transactions -- I just pay it. Easy peasy.

The HARD part, the PAINFUL part, is annual income tax time. I choose to pay annually, rather than estimated quarterly, so it is especially ouchy. There is a mountain of paper at the end of the year, and even though I keep meticulous records with the aforementioned Quickbooks, I still have a lot of things that aren't "enterable" -- mileage, things like that. And now I'm writing this blog entry as an Exercise in Avoidance so I don't have to face paperwork. I do have an accountant, but just getting it all TOGETHER is a pain in the sit-down.

Bleh.

So, I'll leave you with a picture of my office desk, taken at This Very Minute, to give you an idea of the chaos:


Actually, the photo doesn't make it look all that bad, which says something.

To the left, my "In" box, full of things that must be attended to in the very near future. There's a box of coffee to be shipped to my mom (sorry, mom, ruined the surprise) and a tray of Scrabble tile charms to be shipped out for a charm exchange.

Behind, a fingerpainted picture that I framed (love, Zack), and standing files for show info and tutorials in progress. Those roses are waiting to be attached to ball point pens for writing up invoices at my shows (a good way to keep pens from walking off? Or a sure-fired way to insure they WILL walk off?)

On the computer screen, pictures of jewelry for the web site. On the right, stacked between the monitor and the printer, randomness -- the equivalent of the kitchen junk drawer -- idea books, sketch books, articles, etc.

On top of the printer, my Sizzix Sidekick that I've just started using to cut my own price tags (oh, they look nice!), a stack of postcards to advertise a show, and underneath -- two months' worth of receipts that need to be entered into Quickbooks. Sigh.

OK, I guess I've wasted enough time.

Wait, what's that? A deposit that needs to go to the bank? I am SO THERE. Taxes can wait a little longer, can't they?

Friday, February 22, 2008

This just sold on Lori2

This just sold on Lori2.com, my Etsy store, and I thought I'd share it with those of you who may not go to Etsy that often. It's called "After the Storm" and is made of amazonite and handmade lampwork beads.



I'll have new jewelry up this week, I hope! I've been working on a lot of custom things and preparing for another show and TRYING to get rid of a cold I've had for three weeks now -- you know the kind, the one that makes you just want to curl up on the floor and take a nap at any given time?


That being said, it's off to bed with a good book with me!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Reviews -- Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk


I know that a lot of people sneer at those of us who love Stephen King, but I can't help it. He sure can develop a character. I love that with only a few exceptions (Gerald's Game comes to mind) I get really invested in the characters and truly enjoy the book. "Duma Key" was no exception. I just loved the characters, cared about what they were feeling, worried about them -- all that. So what if it's not Faulkner. Who cares? I loved the book, it was hard to put down, I was sorry when it was over, and to me, that means it was a Good Book.






I then read "Invisible Monsters" by Chuck Palahniuk. This wasn't the first book of Palahniuk's that I've read, but so far it's my favorite. Campy banter, grotesque visuals (after all, one of the main characters has her bottom jar shot off -- hence, "invisible monster") -- it's not exactly a beach read, but it's certainly interesting and pretty hard to ignore. Someone at Amazon.com described it as "twisted and delightful" -- I'll second that.

Intergem

I am very tired.

My body aches. My feet hurt from standing up on concrete upwards of 10 hours a day for three days.

But it was worth it.

I just got done exhibiting at the International Gem and Jewelry Show, a huge bead and jewelry show that travels the US and provides hyperventilation-worthy moments of beady goodness to jewelry and beading fans alike.

Most people who make the same sort of jewelry I do look at me like I'm a little touched in the head when they hear about me doing this show. After all, where jewelry is concerned, there's basically two different types at Intergem -- cheap imported stuff (think $5 and under), or very expensive set-in-gold gemstones, like diamonds, sapphires, etc. The in-between, there's not much of. Artisan jewelry, virtually nil. And the place is overrun with beaders, both hobbyist and professional and everything in between, dashing about buying beads, beads, beads.

Many of my friends warned me against doing this show. It's super expensive, for one. I'm used to paying anywhere from $250-$550 for a booth at a good juried show, which many already consider high. This show, the real estate is $1450. Oh yeah. You read that right. Obviously, it's not the same kind of show as a craft show, is extremely competitive, and I wouldn't start doing a bunch of them. But done strategically, they can be surprisingly lucrative.


I already had one Intergem under my belt (Baltimore, Spring 2007) , so I sort of knew what to expect, and knew what to put out. It was very gratifying to see people walking by and the SCREEECH on the brakes when something caught their eye and they had to walk back to take a closer look. That was cool. It helped that my booth looked NOTHING like any of the hundreds of other booths -- I stood out and was easy to find again.

Of course, I did get quite a lot of jewelry designers stop by the table, asking how I made this, that, and the other thing, where did I get my supplies, etc, etc.

Now, there are Some People who get really offended and downright testy when asked those questions -- after all, we as the Artist/Crafter are being asked to explain how to Do What We Do, and Doing What We Do is often what puts food on our tables and pays the mortgage. We've spent countless hours researching suppliers, experimenting with techniques, screwing things up, FINALLY getting it just right -- and then someone comes by our table, picks up that lovingly created item, looks at it, tosses it down, and says, "I can get that at Walmart for a buck".

Oh, the humanity.

Now while I've never, ever had anyone say they could get my jewelry at Walmart, I HAVE had many people ask me "where did you get those beads/where do you get your clasps/how do you do this-or-that". This show, even more so, because by its very nature, there were hundreds more beaders there than at a craft show.

So, I told them!

Here's my logic.

Certain techniques are public domain. Chain maille, for instance, has been around hundreds of years. LOTS of years. If someone asked how to get started with it, I helped them out. I don't hold a patent on how to make a Byzantine chain.

Some techniques were created by very generous, giving people who created classes and tutorials and offered them to the masses and said, "Go now and Create." Two people immediately come to mind -- Eni Oken and Stephanie Sersich. I've been fortunate to know both ladies and learn from them both, and anytime I make something using their technique, I make sure people know who taught me. I don't know how many times this weekend I wrote down their web site info for people. They'll visit their site and see amazing jewelry, hopefully buy a tutorial, and they STILL might buy jewelry from me, or Eni, or Stephanie -- especially when they realize that it's really not all that easy! Besides, every artist puts her own spirit into her piece, which is one of th reasons why I collect and wear other people's jewelry. For instance, I own a bracelet of Eni's, and I'm saving up for one of Stephanie's necklaces.

As for sharing suppliers -- for the most part, a quick Google search will get you anything you want to know. I do have a few that I keep to myself, but even they aren't impossible to find. If I can encourage a new jewelry designer, great. Not everyone who sets out to make jewelry is going to go the many, many miles it takes to turn it into a full-time business. There is SO much more to it than making pretty things -- that's actually the easy part! So sharing techniques and suppliers is nothing, really. Why be nasty about it? Good Karma makes for happiness all around!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are You There God? It's Me, Zachary.

Today we had our parent/teacher conference at Zack's preschool. During the meeting (which went really well, yay Zack!), they told us that they could write a book on all the funny things that he says.

They gave an example.

There was a program before Christmas called "Lunch With Father", where the kids came to school early, brought their lunch, and ate their lunch with Father Gordon while he told Bible stories and the like. Zack was very impressed the first time, as he got to ring the bell in the bell tower. However, he was a little confused about who exactly Father Gordon IS.

The last session, we showed up but Father Gordon wasn't there -- the preschool director told me that he was sick, but she was taking the kids and filling in.

Apparently, Zack went to class that afternoon and in his very cute, exasperated, overly-emotic-hands-thrown-out-wide-to-express-how-IMPORTANT-this-is, announced, "God didn't come to church today!"

The teachers were completely caught off guard, and said, "Oh! Well, what do you think happened to him?"

Zack just shook his head. "He must have called in sick."

I love my little boy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On Etsy today....

"Voyager", a simple but very cool necklace made with vintage lucite, vintage Swarovski crystal, and brass. The sparrows give it just the right extra "something", don't you think?



Click here to snag it now!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Crafts Report Magazine

I'm in the Crafts Report magazine this month in their "Insight: Jewelry" section! Their web site hasn't been updated yet with the current month's edition, but I just got my copy of the magazine today, and it's there! (I can't help it, I still get tickled when I see my name in print -- I doubt that will ever change!)



The Crafts Report is one of two magazines that I find invaluable as an artisan who makes a living at her work (Sunshine Artist is the other). It covers business information specific to arts and crafts small businesses -- how to prepare for retirement, how to get the most out of a show, how to handle taxes, etc.



The "Insight" section is different each month. This month it was jewelry, but sometimes it's about toys, fiber art, metal, wood, etc. The section lets artists share their business thoughts with other artisans who do the same type of thing.



If you're a crafter and don't already get this magazine, DO! And be sure to check out the deadlines for the "Insight" deadlines, and submit your thoughts!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Book Review -- The Fountainhead

I just finished Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and thoroughly enjoyed it, more so than "Atlas Shrugged". I must admit, I do read most books for their face value, as I dearly hated high school English class when we would tear apart books for their inherent symbolism. However, it's really hard to read "The Fountainhead" and not see the deeper story.


The surface story is about an architect, Howard Roark, his struggles to become an architect unlike any other of his time; his rival, Peter Keating; and a slick and slimy newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey, among others.

The underlying story is about ethics, standing up for what you believe in no matter what the cost, the universal battle between good and evil, and the threat of facism.


As with "Atlas Shrugged", I found Rand's heroic characters rather staid and unemotional. Many would say that their lack of outward emotion DEFINES their deep emotion. I gleefully despised Toohey, surprisingly liked Gail Wynand, was completely frustrated by the relationship between Roark and Dominique Francon -- and just got completely caught up in the story.


Highly recommended.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Weekend in Review

A Very Busy Weekend!

Saturday I drove to McLean, VA to exhibit at the McLean Jewelry Showcase, a show in its 2nd year that is ALL jewelry, and all handmade. The first year was really successful, so this year they added a lot more vendors and filled up almost every single room and hall in the place. I had a wonderful time, was busy the entire time, and am already looking forward to next year. I'm not sure if they're going to tighten up the event next year (65 artists may be about 15 too many, as a lot of the customers had sensory overload) but it was well worth the drive.


Sunday I taught my first beading class. I taught the wire-wrap technique needed to make cha-cha bracelets and earrings. The class was sold out, and it was so much fun! I brought "Bead Soup" (a huge mix of all kinds and colors and shapes of beads) rather than limit people's creativity by bringing only one type of kit, and it was so interesting to see what everyone came up with.
I'll leave you with a picture of my bedside table -- I've gone a little nuts on books lately and have a healthy stack to read. The dictionary is there because I hate when I'm reading and run across a word that I'm pretty sure I know what it means, but not entirely. So I'm doing like Diane Court, the girl in "Say Anything", and checking off each word I look up in the dictionary. (Didn't you just love that movie?"