Monday, August 29, 2011

Designing Jewelry with Irene

This morning, as I look at pictures of Irene's destruction in the newspaper and on TV, I'm so grateful that the worst of the storm missed my section of town.  We were as prepared as we could be having purchased water and battery powered lights, pulling out the portable sump pump and wet vac, and getting everything I could off the floor.  Ours is a raised ranch so the basement is a finished room, part of which is my workshop.

So what do you do as you wait for the inevitable storm and possible flooding?   I created jewelry...all day.

Using some of the watch movements and findings I snagged in NYC, I made some new necklaces for the shows coming up in September.  For those who like their steampunk with a little bling (and a spider or 2) I designed these 2--

For those who like the heavy metal, industrial look I made this necklace and bracelet--

Last week I managed to find a few hours to make some silver clay pieces and get them fired.  They were cleaned and polished and just waiting for me to do something with them.

Jansjems now has a few new pairs of fine silver earrings and
some of our popular pendants many of which I oxidized.

And 3 new larger pieces (I love to make these) that I've hung with gemstone beads.  Oxidizing can be hit or miss for me no matter whose recipe I use.   This large focal piece picked up some nice color.  I added it to a strand of pyrite faceted rectangles.

 It's dark and powerful and I think I'll name it Irene.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Tree Does Grow in Brooklyn. Actually Lots of Trees

My daughter & I managed to make our yearly trip to NYC this past week.  Needing to get away and de-stress I thought the Big Apple might help take my mind off of recent sad events for a bit.  We usually go to sample sales, hit the bead stores for supplies, and spend Saturday morning at the Garage Flea looking for steampunk parts.  But we've been doing this for a few years now and each year we get braver and venture farther out.  This year my daughter wanted to go to the popular Brooklyn Flea.  I've never been to Brooklyn.
A  cross between a flea market and a craft show, The Brooklyn Flea also has great food. We never did get the name of the vendor whose donuts were "life changing."  Lunch was a margarita pizza and the best limeade.  One vendor had some steampunk jewelry similar to ours.  And we saw lots of vintage clothes.  Actually several women attending the flea were wearing vintage clothes. Yeah recycling!

The sample sales we stopped at this time were all in the Soho district.  Sadly they were all at high end trendy boutique shops.  You know, those minimalist stores that have 20 items all between size 0 and size 2.  Very intimidating.  We actually did quite well at Macy's and their 50% and 70% off racks.
But...we bought the best shoes at United Nude, a great shoe store on Bond St.  Also minimalist and totally black, the shop has its shoes backlit with rainbow colors.  But there were actual customers in there and the staff was very friendly.  Shoes were 60% off.  While not as colorful as my Irregular Choice shoes (we managed to stop there too), United Nude shoes are architecturally unique.
 And I can't believe how comfortable they are.

I managed to snag a couple of tickets to How the Succeed in Business without Really Trying.  Yes, this musical has been around forever.  But I really wanted to see John Larroquette.  He can't really sing and doesn't do much dancing but he was a hoot as the CEO of World Wide Widgets.  Oh, and Daniel Radcliffe had the starring role as Finch.  Harry Potter actually can sing and dance.

All in all it was a good trip.  We only got lost once on the subway.  We found out that even when the local isn't running the express doesn't pick up the missed stops.  We rode around for awhile.

We walked up to 50th and bought very expensive chocolates. On the way we passed the entrance to the Empire State Building and noticed a SWAT team in front complete with large black van, rifles, and dogs.  I asked the doorman if something was going on.  "No," he said.  "That's the travelling SWAT team.  They'll stay here awhile and then move on to another (undisclosed) location."  He made it sound like they might go into a song and dance routine.

We also passed the New York Public Library.  I was tempted to stop in and look around but my daughter spotted and 80% off sign on a shop across the street.  Maybe next year.

We even made it up to Central Park this time.

Finding a reasonably priced hotel gets harder each year--especially if you want clean and bedbug free.  This time we stayed at NYMH on 32nd St., about 2 blocks from Penn Station in the section called Korea Way. The shops and banks there all have English & Korean signs. We were happy to find the rooms air conditioned, upgraded and clean and the beds comfortable. Breakfast was included in the price of the room. If they don't raise their prices, we'll go back there next year.  The hotel is next door to the Paris Baguette, a bakery carrying a combination of Parisian and Korean pastry.  Really, check out the website.  

Each year I like to see what kinds of jewelry people are wearing in NY and check out the jewelry stores looking for trends.  This year we found a row of 3 or 4 shops selling Asian imported jewelry in wholesale lots.  This jewelry is BIG.  Do you think this could be the latest trend?  If it is, I'm really not ready for it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Paperwork Lives On

Those of you who read this regularly know that I've been dealing with my mother's health issues and have had to maneuver through several hoops regarding healthcare for the elderly, insurance in particular.  While in many ways  it's been the worst 5 months of my life, I did get to spend a lot of time with my mother.  Through good times and bad.

Mom passed away on August 11 and is blessedly free of her unrelenting pain.  The people at the nursing home that was her final residence were compassionate, available, and communicative--especially Lori, Danielle, and Monica.  And Hospice is the best organization in the world.

I still have 2 pending appeals with Fallon Senior Plan for ambulance trips they say were not emergencies.  And I still haven't gotten a response to my application for Veteran's Survivor Benefits (sent in April) to help pay for assisted living.  I now have to file yet another multi-page form requesting "accrued benefits."

Mom may be gone but the paperwork lives on.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Weekend in Lenox

I wasn't certain I was going to apply again for this year's Church on the Hill Craft Show but I'm glad I finally did. Last year was a bad one for weather, traffic and sales.  But I decided to give it another go and was pleasantly surprised that all the bad from last year was good this year.

Two other AWM members were present at the show.  Amy Love was located across the aisle from Aviva of Sieber Designs and her colorful quilts.  

We spent some time comparing notes about how we dealt with the very hilly terrain.  We all had to shim our tables to level them off.  My tent was notched higher in the front than the back to make it look level.  It's a very rough park to set up in.  But being in the center of town we picked up a lot of tourist traffic and the businesses in town were busy too with people who came just for the craft show.

It's been many months since I spoke with Emily of Emily Betti Designs.  We met in Springfield, I think.  She also makes jewelry and has a shop on Etsy.  We chatted a bit and since I could see her booth from mine, I noticed she was having a good weekend too.

Thai Indigo Village had a booth across the aisle from us.  This is a family business located in Northampton.  The weaving is just exquisite.  

I must say though that there were way too many jewelers this year--about every third booth.  In talking to one of the organizers I learned that like lots of other shows they had trouble attracting non jewelry crafters and accepted more jewelers to fill the empty spaces.  And how did all these jewelry vendors do with so much competition?  Well, I learned that  4 of us did well enough to come back again.  As for the rest, I don't know.

For the official review of this craft show, see my side pages.