Friday, November 13, 2009

2 Worlds Merge on Tuesday

Unless someone else brings it up, I don't talk about jewelry much at work. There' s plenty going on in the library to talk about. But once a year the library has a craft show. It's pretty small with only 6 or 8 crafts people. But we have some talented people and most of us do quite well.

So Tuesday my 2 identities spend the day together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Construction Chaos in the Acquisitions Dept.

Back on the library front, things are less busy. The budget still hasn't been distributed to the selectors so they're ordering very little. And of course paper is fast becoming passe as students opt for online journals and professors ask for streaming video.

One of the fortunate things about working in a research library is that we are all forced to keep up with technology. Every few years we get a new ordering system that's even more complicated and less intuitive than the last. Classes are necessary to keep up with each new version. When the library loads new versions of Microsoft Office, we all have to take a workshop to learn how to get around in it. And for a long time now we've been ordering materials online from Amazon &, or some other online dealer. So websites are no mystery and we all have Paypal accounts. And that 10 week online course called "23 Things" was incredibly useful. It's what I will miss most about working here. I fear I'll cease to keep up with the new technologies and become an anachronism.

So while I'm not as technologically savvy as your average 25 year old, I am ahead of the curve in the 60 year old category. I've been taking 3 hour evening classes once a week since September sponsored by the local Community Development Corp. They're free and geared toward small business owners. Marketing is the big topic of many of the classes and today everyone markets online through social networks. Many of the older folks in the class are truly lost when the conversation moves toward blogs, RSS feeds, and Twitter. I've expressed my dislike of Twitter here already but I can't deny the impact it has on my shop statistics.

But I digress. My office is scheduled to move to its new location in January. And while we slowly clean house and get ready to pack up, the construction crew is slowly moving its stuff into our space, complete with snow fencing. They're working on expanding the Learning Commons, a necessity for today's college and university libraries. The library is now a destination. And while I understand the need for this renovation, I find it disrespectful to leave staff in an area of drilling, hammering, hard hatted construction workers yelling to each other and walking through the department, and now a pile of sheetrock and mechanized staging. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, but they were able to find alternate space for everyone else. Why couldn't they have relocated us as well?

Oh well, we'll be moving soon to a space overlooking the courtyard. It can't come fast enough.

Busy Fall at Jansjems

It's a busy time of year for Jansjems. Fall craft shows are always the most profitable so I try to get into at least 2 per month. I'm noticing that people are finally spending on themselves, buying a necklace they like or earrings that catch their eye. They're not just buying gifts. I still have 3 craft fairs to go before I can pack up the displays and tables for the year. I'm continuing to organize, plan my displays for the next show, clean jewelry, replace bent tags, etc.

And while I'm preparing for current shows I'm also beginning to look at craft fairs for next year. Some, even those for May through September, have due dates in January . And the application process is sometimes like applying to colleges. They want a bio, an essay about what motivates you, statements about the artistic process, etc. But pictures are the most important part of the application. And I'm still trying to take better pictures. It seems that if I get the lighting right, the composition is bad or vise versa.

I also need some new items to photograph. And since I've decided to try again to get into 2 big shows I didn't make the cut on last year, I really need to stand out. As there are just too many gemstone bead jewelers out there, I'm going to try to get accepted on the steampunk line.

With steampunk selling faster than I can make it, I needed to replenish my stock of "found objects". Since it's getting too cold for tag sales, Ebay is the best source. Thanks to my friend Betty and the sniping website she directed me to, I'm set for awhile. My first big snipe was bought about 2 pounds of broken pocket watches. What a stash!

People are always looking for something different and so are the craft show organizers. So I'm starting to work on 2010 designs and some of those watch parts now look like the brooch and necklace below. Now if I can just make my photographs pop.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gem Shows & How I Became Jansjems

I love to shop. You have to in order to wade through the 100s of vendors at some of the larger gem shows in the area. I usually go with a plan and a list in order to get it all done in a few short hours.

It wasn't always like this. The first few times I attended the Marlborough shows I was totally overwhelmed and kept being distracted by yet another vendor with more or different beads splayed out on another 3 or 4 tables. It would take me forever to get through just a few aisles and I would spend way too much money and still not buy the things I came for. This is how I ended up with more jewelry than I can wear and began my career as the designer of Jansjems.

I attend shows often and there are now smaller shows in Hartford and Springfield. I've come to know some of the vendors and usually find them first with my list. After I buy the necessities I move on to browsing and comparing and, if I still have money, buying beads that are new or just too pretty to pass on.

But the best part is getting home and spreading out my swag on the work table. When I say that many of my pieces design themselves, this is how it happens. I lay out some beads, add a few more from my stock and suddenly a design begins to emerge. Often, even when I have something in mind for some of my purchases, something better evolves at home.

I love shopping and I love creating jewelry. Now if I could only learn to love the record keeping, the marketing, and the picture taking.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Craft Fair Racket vs Quieter Library

On the flip side of the last post, sometimes the craft shows are really noisy. StART on the Street takes place on Park Ave. in Worcester. They block off a large section of the street next to Elm Park and over 200 vendors set up on the street and sidewalks. There are also 2 stages for music and dance performances and there's a strolling bag pipes player. While categories are limited, it's not a juried show. Therefore there is an incredibly eclectic mix of art and artisans. Someone who creates a few ceramic caricatures can be set up on a blanket across from an established high end painter. While there is the usual large group of jewelry designers in every genre, jewelry can also be found in the booths of ceramic and glass artists, knitters and sketch artists. It's just everywhere. And over 20,000 people attend and have a great time.

We were set up this year across from the large and noisy food court and near one of the stages. While louder than I would have liked, in general the music was pleasant and changed regularly from current pop to oldies to Latin. But at mid afternoon a performance art group arrived in white jumpsuits and face masks to create scenes from an alien abduction or alien scientific experiments. Truthfully, I didn't see the entire performance. But it was the high decible screeching guitars that truly gave the performance its eerie, unearthly feel. It also made it difficult to talk to customers and brought on a dull head ache.

So this morning I came back to work at the library and I have a whole new appreciation of the drilling going on next door. It's not nearly as loud nor as irritating as yesterday's alien invasion. And with my ear buds plugged into Maroon Five and Jason Mraz, it's almost peaceful here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Library Racket vs Tranquil Craft Show

The days of libraries being quiet places are over. Libraries are becoming destinations offering computer workstations and group study spaces. People meet in our library to work on group projects and discuss assignments. We have a coffee and snack station on the entrance floor. Patrons have pizza delivered. We daily experience the pleasant noise of busy students.

But this library is also a construction zone as we add more Learning Commons space for the students. They moved everyone away from the North and East sides of the main floor EXCEPT the Acquisitions Dept. Here we sit trying to conduct business between the drilling of the bathroom renovation behind us and the concrete saws and hammering of the new student space. We're walled off, sometimes frozen, and often unable to hear each other speak. And we worked for 2 days by emergency lights only.

In contrast, I showed at an arts festival this past weekend in Springfield. The Mattoon Street Festival is a wonderful little show of 80 artisans. Tents are set up on the brick sidewalks of an historical, tree lined street of old brownstones. The neighborhood association has been sponsoring this show for over 30 years and it's efficiently organized by an accommodating group of people. The artisans are top quality and the jewelry category, though the largest, is limited.

The weekend was warm and pleasant and the rain that threatened all day Saturday never appeared. Each hour a musician or musical group of a different genre strolled the street. People were pleasant and friendly, many dressed nicely as they came from religious services. The women who attended were ones who loved and wore unique pieces of jewelry. A lot of the people were already buying holiday gifts. It was the nicest little arts and crafts show I have ever attended. And the environment was much more pleasant than my office is this morning.

Irritatingly noisy library or enjoyable craft show? Trying to talk to people and concentrate on my work with what sounds like airplanes taking off and landing or peacefully making jewelry with light classical music playing in the background? Nine and a half months and counting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caught Between 2 Worlds

So here I am now with one foot still in the library and one foot out the
door trying to make my jewelry business a successful enterprise. The
library is changing AGAIN. In my 37 years here it has evolved several
times. But this has to be the biggest change requiring not only departmental reorganization but major building renovations. We are now a destination. Our lower level, once home of technical services and reference is now The Learning Commons. Not only is there a reference presence but also a desk manned by Learning Commons staff who help with computer related issues. We're quickly canceling paper subscriptions and spending a larger and larger portion of our shrinking budget on electronic resources. And more floor space is being utilized for computer tables and wired group study rooms.

The plan is to eventually move us to a section of the floor where we'll have a view of the courtyard gardens. I've worked in windowless space my entire career here. My new space will provide me with actual sunlight. They've promised to move us in January. I'll be retiring in June.

Until then, my office is caught between areas of construction. They're
putting up a wall about 15 feet from my desk and the drilling is
intermittent all day long. I have my ear buds plugged into Pandora and
today I listened to Josh Groban. On the plus side he keeps my blood
pressure from getting too high. Unfortunately, I can't hear the phone if it rings.

I occasionally doodle little pictures and write down notes as ideas come to me for jewelry designs or displays. Ideas seem to come from odd places--the colors of the binding on a new encyclopedia or a group of spines sitting together on the gift shelves. Right now I'm creating very few things. It's craft fair season and my focus is always on the next show. Should I feature the high end pieces or the lower priced items, or both. Should I bring the valances to make the tent look more homey. Do I have enough boxes? Most days I can't wait to get home and away from the noise to the silence of my jewelry workbench.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thank You Erin

Just a final post to thank Erin and her 23 Things online course for providing me with an organized way to explore Web 2.0. While I see how many of the resources covered would be useful in the library environment, the course exposed me to what's out there and applicable to my online business endeavor. It's only a part time pursuit now but I hope to make it a full time business in 2010. And this blog which was set up for comments on the weekly assignments will now be turned over to Jansjems and my adventures in the world of arts and crafts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week #10 -- Social Networking & Microblogging

OK. I'm old. I just don't get the point of Twitter or most of the other microblogging sites at all. I set up an account a while ago, looked around, posted something and never went back until I got an email that someone was following me. Why? I went back there today because of this lesson, plugged a couple of searches in and nothing has changed. It's still just a lot of random comments. Why would anyone care that a stranger stopped at Starbucks on their way to work, or someone couldn't get into their favorite jeans, or that someone else hopes a certain fashion trend goes away soon because they hate the look. Back in the stone age, when I was young, those were the kinds of comments that were made in conversations with your girlfriends. You chatted about nonsensical things and it was fun and funny because these were your friends. I find it sad working on a large university campus to see so many people walking alone but phoning or text messaging their friends all day long. I used to spend time with my friends and all those messages were delivered in person. Have we evolved into a generation of loners who don't know how to interact with other people in person? They're now offering classes in some high schools to teach students how to interview for college or jobs. I have a niece who comes to family events and sits in the corner with a hand held game or phone or whatever and doesn't talk to anyone after she says "hello".

On the other hand, in moderation, social networking can be useful. I do like Facebook. And I actually stop in once in a while. Unlike Twitter, I'm connected to people I know, many of whom live far away. It's nice to hear about what they're doing and see pictures of their kids or pets. Somehow this connection seems to have more of a purpose. Also, occasionally if I'm on at the same time as my daughter, we do talk to each other there instead of on the phone.

In looking through some of the sites in this lesson I also found that I like Digg. It seems to be composed mostly of news items--sometimes weird news items. I linked it to my Bloglines. But there's also a link to Facebook and if I'm reading things correctly, doing so will make it available to all my friends. Do I really want to inundate my friends with little news blurbs? Is that what happens? So I don't think I'll do that.

I had no idea there were so many social networking sites. People signed up on several must spend the entire day on the web. No wonder they have no time to BE with their friends? I think that I spend too much time just answering emails.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week #9 -- Podcasts & Videos

This lesson was fun. I’m familiar with YouTube, have been sent links via email, and occasionally stop in to check on what’s new by just using the search term “funny”. It always brings up something that makes me laugh. “Introducing the Book” was too funny. I also enjoyed “Thriller” by the National Library of Australia. Looks like a fun place to work. But while watching the “Library Dominos” all I could think of was who would re-shelve all those books. Japanese dominos was much more entertaining. Yahoo Videos & Google Videos are interesting as well but I still prefer YouTube. Although I might use Metacafe to check out movie trailers once in a while.

The video I chose to link to in this post is one I found of the band, Maestro’s Men. I grew up with polka music, my dad was a polka DJ, and my brother has been playing with polka bands since he was 16. So I searched in several of the sights for a video of Maestro’s Men, the band he currently plays with. They’ve won several awards and were nominated for a Grammy a couple of years ago. I looked in 3 or 4 of the video sights and YouTube was the only one that had several to pick from. So here’s the Maesto’s Men.

I didn’t spend much time on the Podcasts lesson. Fortunately I have children who are well versed in various types of technology. From them I learned how to download pictures and load my Ipod. So I have Itunes set up on my computer at home. I love being able to pick and choose types of songs from different artists and put them into different folders. So when I told one of my daughters that I wished I could play music at some of the craft shows that I do, I found that the technology was there for that as well. I have a cute little Ipod docking station that will run for 8 hours or so on its rechargeable battery. How convenient is that?

As for Ebooks...the jury is still out on that one. I spend a lot of time on the computer and can’t imagine reading a whole book that way. Though I might like an audio book to listen to in the car, I prefer current publications and they’re not available for free download due to copyright issues. So, are ebooks as valuable as paper? Well, online journals are useful as it’s usually only an article or part of a journal that students or researchers need. Having that journal available to more than one person at a time is useful. Then most people will print off whatever they need. Databases are searchable and allow you to zero in on the pertinent topics. But recently someone in my town needed a section of the town codes. He was given a website where they could be accessed. It’s hundreds of pages and too expensive to print. But the online version is not searchable and therefore not useful at all.

Reading for pleasure, I still prefer the paper version and probably always will.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week #8 -- Online Applications & Tools

While I didn't spend a lot of time on this lesson, I found and learned several things that would be useful. Of the online applications I like Google Docs the best. As I mentioned before I belong to a group of Western Mass.crafters who wanted to see the spreadsheet I had created for upcoming craft shows and applications due dates. I managed to get it into Google Docs fairly easily but emailing it took a couple of tries. I had to allow it to be shared and how wasn't obvious to me at first.

I already use the Yahoo calendar with the same group and we've found it helpful to post events, craft shows, gem shows, etc.

I then took a look at the short list of Web 2.0 Awards sites. I really liked a lot of the websites I found there, so it's hard to speak to one in particular. I've already used several of these, such as Zillow where you can look up house prices by address and the cost of houses in the neighborhood. I have my pictures up on Flickr and when I'm desperate to find something I have checked Craigslist. But there are several really cool sites out there with great and entertaining information.

If you're into genealogy, and that may be something you tend to do when you get old, My Heritage is a free site. While I haven't really explored it much as you have to download it, it appears that it might be helpful in locating lost relatives. I'll download it into my home computer and see how it goes. I plan to do a lot of traveling after retirement. Farecast on Bing is another site like Travelzoo and Best Fares that has flight information. But Boo has reviews of destinations, hotels, and restaurants. Very useful.

Definitely useful with its local restaurant reviews is Urbanspoon. And then there's Im Cooked. Loaded with cooking videos that instruct as well as entertain. I really enjoyed the "coffee art" video. Just fun.

And lastly, and not part of this lesson, I learned how to put urls under words so you can click on them and get to the site. It was incredibly easy and I don't know why I never tried before.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Week #7 -- Wikis

This is one of the "23 Things" with which I'm actually familiar. Our Technical Services Division was tasked with creating a Wiki made up of procedures and information sheets that we use regularly in our work. This would allow someone not familiar with a job to have a source for information on how an item is processed or a list providing choices of things like vendors. It also allows us to easily change procedures in our agile (very much so lately) environment. I was appointed to the team and, as usual, had my doubts about whether I would be able to contribute.

Wikis, it appears, are not that complicated. Once you get used to their type of editing and learn to work around the unique spacing issues (it's not like editing a word document), it's rather easy. So I've added several documents to our Wiki.

But what I had never thought of was that there can be other uses for wikis, like the video camping trip. It never occurred to me to utilize it in any way other than an encyclopedia or dictionary that everyone can edit.

As a member of a local craft group, I can see where this would be very useful in the organization of an event, like a craft show. We are spread out all over the Pioneer Valley and communicate mostly via email. This certainly would be very helpful.

So I've added my blog address to the PBworks wiki and I'm moving on.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week #6--Tagging and Folksonomies

Yes, libraries are changing. And for the most part, I think it's all for the better. I remember back in the stone age when I was in college and writing a paper. I would type parts of it as I got the research finished. Research being perusing tons of books and journal articles to find the bits and pieces you needed to defend your point of view. Then I would take the pages and cut them up into paragraphs and tape it all back together in some appropriate order. Then I'd edit again, move a few more pieces around and type it all again as a final draft. What I would've given for a word processor! In those days if you studied in the library, you studied alone. Because if you were with someone else, you would be talking and you'd be asked to leave.

I guess I don't need to list all the ways research and libraries have changed and the technology involved. But it's definitely a more welcoming, livelier, and noisier place. A lot of research revolves around databases, search engines, bookmarking, and proper tagging. Research articles or items for purchase when tagged incorrectly, show up in the oddest places and are just a nuisance. Tagged correctly they pop up nicely when you need them.

While I'm not certain if I'll ever use Delicious as I'm happy with the "favorites" on my computer, I really like Technorati. It's a good place to keep track of blogs on various subjects and a way to get my blog seen. I've set up an account but probably won't do anything with it until this course is finished and my blogs are more pertinent to my new life after 60.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Week #6


Week #5 -- Explore

So I spent a little time exploring suggested sites. I didn't get an account at either Rollya or the Library site. I looked around but really wasn't interested in what was there. I did try to create an avatar in Yahoo. I was able to do this and it shows up in some odd places as I travel around the site. But I wasn't successful in uploading it to my blog or my Yahoo email account. I tried a variety of ways and even used the Yahoo tutorial, but nothing worked. I did find a page that listed the changes in the new version of Yahoo mail that said that avatars no longer show. And as I don't really want the avatar in my blog, I just dropped it.

I walk for exercise but hate to just aimlessly walk around town. I prefer to have a destination--the post office, local dollar store, something I need from the market. I guess I'm not very good at just exploring sites for the same reason. I prefer to have something that I need to do.

So I'm moving on rather quickly to Week #6.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Week #4 -- RSS Feed

Well that was easy, relatively speaking.

So all my fears about this whole RSS feed were all due to not truly understanding what it is and not reading enough to find out. Thank you, 23 Things.

I set myself up with a Bloglines reader, subscribed to some of the popular sites Bloglines lists, and looked through them all to see which ones I'd actually read. I then was able to delete the bad ones and organize the remaining ones. As I really don't follow any blogs, I searched for some that I might like to read. Technorati was helpful as was the Google blog search and tomorrow I'll see the news all in one place.

I also added the RSS icon to this blog in case anyone wants to follow me on this journey.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week #3 -- Flickr Pt.2

Originally uploaded by jansjems26
The assignment this lesson is to discuss my thoughts on any form of technology. As I've just spent an hour trying to get Flickr to talk to Google, I guess that's what's on my mind at the moment.

It required a great deal of patience (anyone who knows me knows I have this in short supply) and some genuine persistence to make the transfer of images work. The directions on Flickr were incorrect as the info you were supposed to see on Google didn't exist. I even found a forum complaining about this problem so I knew it wasn't just my lack of skill. Don't ask me where I finally found a page where I enabled google to accept Flickr pictures as I'll probably never be able to find it again. But it was not where it was supposed to be.

In any event, from this post you can see that I was able to download a picture of my husband and me in front of Montecello last week. It was a nice, relaxing vacation before a very long ride home.

As my plans for the future include designing and selling jewelry full time, any technology that helps me promote my product is important. And since pictures are the most important part of online sales, any technology that aids in the manipulation, download, and reconfiguration of photos will be very useful in that arena. While I dislike spending so much time on the computer and would rather be making jewelry, it's unavoidable.

Week #3 -- Flickr Pt.1

This course has finally given me the opportunity to spend some time on the Flickr website. I've had an account for awhile as it was promoted as a way to market products. So I put up a few pictures of jewelry and just forgot about it. I now see what other people have done with their pages and the importance of tags and sets. I organized my pictures and loaded them with tags and we'll see what happens.

It was also fun to try some of the third party applications. I like the mosaic picture maker and may find a use for it in the future. I also tried the trading card site and popped in on the ecard site as well as Animoto. I've bookmarked the ones I like and will spend more time on them in the future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Week #2 -- Blogging

Well that was fun. The blog is set up and registered. And I just spent some time customizing and downloading pictures.

So how's it look?

Week #1 -- Explore

The banner of this blog has the name of my new business and, hopefully, what will eventually become my new identity. But this is not really my "Week #1" of the journey. The journey has been ongoing for about 2-3 years and this is actually "Week #1" of my online technology class called "23 things".

This first week was meant to be motivational, encouraging our staff & librarians to try new things and experience new technologies. Jansjems has been my new thing. And little did I know that designing jewelry would lead to so many challenges and technological new things that have nothing to do with jewelry design.

I think I'm a pretty good example of several of the points made by the video--learn new things, never too late, see problems as challenges, use technology to your advantage. As a child that grew up in the early days of television (is anyone reading this old enough to remember Ed Sullivan, Pinky Lee, the Lone Ranger??) my familiarity with computers only grew as a result of my library job. And somewhere in the late 80s things started moving so fast that I just got left behind in the dust. Oh, I can use what I need to here in the library, but then my kids started talking about social networks and tweeting. They'd tell me about improvements to programs that I have old versions of, and how I can load pictures to the web (if I'd just get a digital camera).

So I bought the digital camera and, OMG, my life changed. I didn't need to buy film, I could see my pictures right after they were taken, I could delete them, edit them, and on and on! And that was the beginning of MY 23 things.

I was introduced to Picasa as a photo editor since Photoshop and Gimp were just too complicated for me. But now that I have some experience, my daughter downloaded Gimp onto my home computer and I will try (she says meekly).

Though I was happy to make jewelry for craft shows, bought the required tent and displays, there are a lot of months when I'm not at shows. Not ready to set up my own website, my girls introduced me to Etsy. This is a marketplace similar to Ebay that makes setting up a shop easy and inexpensive. I now have 2 shops on Etsy and a new one on 1000markets, have set up payment options with Paypal and Amazon, and take credit cards on Propay.

Conversations on both of the marketplaces are constantly about marketing so I'm now on Facebook, have a Flickr and a Twitter account (though I don't really see the point of this one), and I'm a member of local artisan networks on Ning and Yahoo. I post to the group blogs. I've been to Technorati & and may even have accounts I've forgotten about. But I am looking forward to playing with some of the features of all of these that I haven't tried yet. And I've been a little afraid of the RSS feed thing. So Week #4 will be a challenge.