Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Count Coup

Cheap, plated mystery metal in the shape of a feather that I really like.
Blue patina applied with an embossing gun so the mystery metal didn't melt in a flame.
Sanding to reveal a copper color under the black n blue!

Woven chain, waxed linen and some buckskin cording; all combined for a piece of jewelry I feel powerful wearing.    

The Chief 

That was a close call.
 Now, freshen your face paint, 
 sharpen your tomahawk,
 step back on your war path and go collect you some scalps.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Neighborhood

A moment of regret as I realized I was no longer able to have recycling collected from my home.
I was now responsible for carrying my trash to the dumpster. (And recycling, that Very Important Habit that took a while to develop into a stream line system, would need to be transported to my parents.)
That's cool, I have a 12 yr old for that chore, although Pinky is trying to learn how to balance a trash bag while she rides her bike, so she has been more helpful than her older brother lately.

The cops are here every other day.
It seems they lookin for somebody, had the dog out and everything, hours they were here; lots and lots of time spent here in this neighborhood, here where people haven't learned to sort their difference in a peaceful manner and immediately jump straight to pride filled angry out bursts that the kids gather around and watch wide eye'd at adults who are just repeating behavior they have seen from their own parents.

There is a new mess with some neighborhood kids and my solution to avoiding some real problems was to instruct my daughter to stay away from a boy who spits on her and calls her "faggot".
My girl is gonna be raised understanding; You do not hang out with people that make you feel bad on purpose.
But I have now made Pinky into an irresistible way to irritate an adult that this boy does not like to hear from. He follows Pinky for 2 straight days, with me hanging out the window, reminding Pinky to go away from him if he approaches her. The child, a 10 year old boy, who yells from the moment he steps off the school bus to when his dad collars him in, decided to yell back at me and state factually I can't make him stay away from his sister, then proceeds to demonstrate this fact for another 2 DAYS.
I finally tell the sister, whom I thought was a nice girl, that she needs to not play with Pinky right now if her brother was going follow them and harass them.
Pinky is upset.
The sister, a rather put upon girl who has to tolerate being pushed around by her rather large 10 yr old brother, has reacted by teaming up with other girls in the neighborhood and they stalk the front of the house hurling insults up at me, now constantly watching out my window so my daughter can ride her bike back and forth in front of the house without being harassed by the girls who say awful things to Pinky as she attempts to follow her moms instructions and avoid the people who are not nice.

I feel so sorry for these kids. 
They are here night after night, with no adult planned activities, no one really paying any attention to them, no team building exercises being drilled into their spongy brains on a consistent basis to give them tools in learning how to work out conflicting emotions in relationships. There is just the behavior they see exhibited by their parents.
The dad, a hugely obese, foul mouthed tornado of displaced anger, has demonstrated his way of time honored tradition in poor communication by coming out his door at a woman neighbor who dared pointed out the way his daughter was behaving in front of our particular block of houses for a couple of days.
(Shaking her butt, staring up at the window for hours while I sat taking photos, calling me a stalker, yelling silly names like ghost and freak, claiming I am video taping her. Evidently, I am not the only one this behavior irritated and this neighbor thought there might be good in discussing it with one of her parents).

The father is yelling every insult he can think of with his finger pointed at this woman's face as she tries to walk away. Everyone in the neighborhood can hear him and a man steps in to tell him to back off, the father states in a loud belligerent  voice "I don't mind going to jail tonight!"
Then other people pull up and get out of their cars, one of them an even bigger guy who looks way more menacing than the angry dad, and the man is out numbered, but he still has to say something :"Just take your little interracial family back inside."
Oh crap. That blows everything back up. 
I close my window and pray that if there's angels of peace, that they float on ov'r here and coat everybody in some "calm the f*#k down" peace powder.

What would happen if I took my biggest picnic blanket, a box of pretty beads, a handful of good weaving cord and then invited those girls to learn how to make beaded macrame jewelry with me?
What if....
The fear of getting involved in a family that has some serious issues with appropriate public behavior makes me want to stay hidden and closed off. But for once, for a few dollars in supplies and an afternoon of my time, for once....
I be the change I want to see? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

10 steps to online selling

People have this idea that I have useful information on selling.
I am uncomfortable with these frequent questions and often ignore them instead of sitting down to properly draft a kindly worded message explaining that I do not know much but it took years of processes to get to this point. And whatever number they are focused on that tells them I do know something doesn't show the years of mistakes (I have left packages in my car and lost over $55 on postage), the wasted money (not all materials are created equal and they can actually damage your reputation instead of enhancing it), the lost money (shipping leaves huge holes in my meager profits and not all my ideas I have invested in have become sellers), the hurt pride from having to do it all publicly in order to promote and the fact that even as many sales as I have made, I still can't afford decent healthcare for my kids. So I don't know if I am really the person to give such advise but here is what I do know.


Now each one of these steps should ideally have a person who over sees another group of people who actually get the task done within a reasonable amount of time.
 Those are called "staff", I think.
But we work for ourselves so we get to do it all. by. our. self.
It's exhausting and when I came to a crossroads in my own business; continue on with hired help or let it die down to a manageable level because I have trust issues, I learned a few things about handling a handmade business that I will share later.

I was so bored with what I was creating, I started writing lists in the journals I learned to make from L.K. Ludwig and Lynn Perrella. Lists all about myself. It was really quite selfish. I didn't make lists on what I hoped to be or what I thought my parents would want to hear or even what I thought I could sell.
I made lists that described what I liked about EVERYTHING.
Colors. What I am drawn to, what grabs my attention, what gets my heartbeat to quicken. 
Textures and associations. Environments. Architecture. Cultures. Geography. My past. The T.V. shows I enjoyed the most. The music I have to have. The art that I would collect if I was well off.
Clothing and other forms of self decoration. Love I would make. Religions that confounded me.
Character flaws. Feelings. Lists and lists of feelings.
I learned so much about myself during this journaling, that I still draw inspiration from that body of writing.
(I found I am fascinated by man made history buried in the earth which directly lead to me making things look old on purpose.)

I think conception is the most important part of the selling process. If it does not come from a good, authentic place, intended to enhance and assist the lives of others through your personal experience, it is pointless to make it your life's work. I think you are also missing out on the thing that drives those to push past difficult obstacles (like a deranged husband or a melted computer). 
If this wasn't my passion, I wouldn't think it worth it.

Okay, this has to be all for now, I have to get to the shipping table. Since I lowered my shipping costs, I have customers telling me to "ship ASAP" for items that cost $2.50.
But who cares, it's my job.

I will come back though to ramble on about what I think of purchasing raw materials.
For that is the official tax term disguising what is really;
 (whispers in excitement)

Peace and Prosperity,

Monday, March 25, 2013

Delayed Spring and The Redeemer

The first day of spring break.
I am feeling an exhausted sense of deja vu. Will this winter ever end?  
Will I ever feel the thawing of cold bones and a hardened heart?
What's that? Could it be?
Oh yeeeeeeeeees.
A real live, hot-blooded MAN.

And I didn't even have to pay him.
Shanny has a new friend and he's super helpful.

Here is what I've been working on while I wait for a delayed order of sterling;

Sorting through scraps of chain to either use in projects or sell to other designers. Some of them are only a few inches long and I'm not sure any one would want to buy them, but they do make for a nice pop of grungy color in pieces designed with some other artists work like
Birgitta's eco-friendly ceramic plaques;

You can purchase Birgitta's work here;
What I find interesting is that if you were to type Angel Whisperer into etsy's search bar her shop doesn't come up, instead a few pieces from another designer that  mentions Birgitta's name is shown instead (which are beautiful and I loved seeing them, but it was irrelevant to my search as a potential buyer). Now I do not know when this change occurred in etsy, but I imagine that it has resulted in a few lost sales as I did not know to change HOW I searched, I only remembered Birgitta's shop name from months and months ago when I was collaborating with a few artists friends to post design ideas on Art Bead Scene.
To find her shop, I ended up going to facebook and searching her wall until I found a link to product in her store. Huh. It took too long and I imagine that an interested buyer would have given up, but I couldn't publish my post without properly crediting the artist that inspired the piece.  

Very, very interesting and no doubt a greedy attempt to push sellers towards paid for "ads" available on etsy, which seems to be the ONLY way to show up in any search on the site now days.

So anyway, here is what I would love to purchase from this talented lady who is based in Sweden.

Each of these pieces give me a mysterious feeling and I would love to see them paired with patina chain and leather, as if I were some wood nymph from an ancient time that could survive in the forest with just jewelry and a bow n arrow.
What? It could happen, I'm learning a lot of survival skills from Cody Lundin on Dual Survival Show.
It just couldn't happen in this kind of snow. I would be dead within mere minutes.
Peace and Prosperity,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cooled Lava with Genea Crivello-Knable

Cooled Lava
  I used a mix of metal for this design, including antiqued copper, raw brass and sterling silver. I feel that the antiquing on all the metals allowed for a blended look in their accent to the matte black of the tourmaline and the etched lamp work. I also deliberately did not list brands or suppliers except for Genea’s gorgeous focal bead so that you have the freedom to sort through what you already have to pull this piece together. The strand of black tourmaline came in a more crystalline form but I found it uncomfortable to wear so I threw it into my kids plastic rock tumbler with some sand for about 3 hours to round off the beads and create that matte black color texture that brings to mind cooled lava.

Long faceted quartz briolette in yellow and smoke
12 inches antiqued 24 gauge wire
3 inch piece 20 gauge wire
Lamp work glass focal by Genea
2 Bead caps
Bead Cord Black ( griffin's no.6 is a sturdy cord for these heavy beads)
2 bead tips
1 std Raw Free Form Tumbled Black Tourmaline available through Kandu beads
16 or more pieces of 5mm mixed brass and sterling heshi
2 - 4mm connecting jump rings – these jumps need to fit into your bead tips and into the chain you have chosen
12 to 16 inches dark chain cut into 4 – 3” to 4” pieces – the chain shown is 4mm closed copper patinated in black and brown
Hook clasp with open jumps

Ruler/bead board
Jewelers cement
Chain nose pliers
Flush cutters
Round nose pliers
Fine steel wool

 Step 1.  Using the 12 inch piece of antiqued sterling silver, wrap the long faceted briolette quartz into a doubled wire loop, trimming away the extra and tucking the ends into the spiral wrapping.  

 Step 2. Create a hanging loop at one end of the 3 inch piece of sterling wire and slide on one of the bead caps, metal discs or heishi to make sure the large hole in the lamp work does not slide down over your loop. Slide on the lamp work focal and add another bead cap or disc before creating the top loop above the bead. Assemble the faceted brio to the bottom loop of the lamp work glass. Set aside to have ready for stringing.

 Step 3. Remove the beading cord from its card completely and tie an over hand knot at the opposite end of the needle approximately 2 inches from the end. Slide on 1 bead tip before stringing alternately; 1 heishi and 1 tumbled tourmaline bead until you have a set of 4 on the cord. After the 5th piece of heshi, slide on the previously assembled focal of Genea’s lamp work and faceted brio. Continue on with the heshi and black tourmaline until you have a front center piece that measures approximately 6.5”. If you need a longer center piece, continue stringing a few more tourmaline until you reach a measurement that you like. I held my piece up to my own neck in front of a mirror as I strung beads until I liked the mid neck point the beads stopped at, all the while keeping the focal drop off to the side asymmetrically.

 Step 4. End your strand of beads with the second bead tip and tie off the bead cord with another over hand knot. Use your awl tip inside the knot to bring the knot close to the bead tip so there are no gaps in your strand of beads. Add a drop of jewelers cement to both knots inside the bead tips and press the bead tips closed with your chain nose pliers.

Step 5. Add the small open jumps to the bead tips and the end links of the 3” cut piece of dark chain, close up the jump rings carefully so there are no gaps in the seam where the fine chain and bead tips can come out. Repeat this for the opposite side of the necklace.

 Step 6. Check your measurement before adding the clasp. The clasp shown measures approximately 1 inch and brought my Cooled Lava necklace to a total measurement of 14.5”. This measurement can be adjusted by adding an extender of more chain and jump rings. Assemble the clasp by opening and closing the clasps open jumps onto the end chain pieces with your chain nose pliers.

 Step 7. Brush a bit of steel wool over the antiqued metal findings to bring up their high lights. 


Friday, March 15, 2013


I do not know why such good people are taken so soon, while others are given chance after chance to show the love, inspiration, support and kindness that seemed to come naturally from Judy.

I keep this by my bead table to remind me of the 
beautiful soul that reached out to me during health crisis's in my family while she struggled in a fight for her own life.
I want to be more like her.
I miss you, Judy.
I hope your family is making it okay without you here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 3 of Homeschooling

Would you like to hear another Sad Shannon Story?
So to set the stage, you need to know that I did not want to move from the house the kiddos and I found for ourselves after re-grouping from the move from Florida. 
But my income just couldn't keep up with the payments and the greedy landlords kept adding late fees on that made it impossible to stay caught up, even though I was paid in full. I had to break my lease, lose my security deposit, find a new place I could afford, earn the money for first months rent and another security deposit. All within a months time.
Mark my words.
The most important thing I focused on while searching for a new home was keeping the kids in the same school. This was the only thing my son, who hates school, asked of me and I respected his need to remain stable, in addition to my daughters love for her own school, teachers, friends and clubs.
It was getting really close.
 I had days to pack up and move, mom and dad are trying to sell their house so they are rehabbing the basement where they put up me and the kids before, it wasn't an option to run back to mommy and daddy.   
I had to be a grown up all by myself and find my own place.
(whine, cry and stamp feet)
 But I found it!
A little town home with 3 bedrooms and they said it's okay to run my propane/oxygen torch in the basement!
I was so relieved, because it kind of looked like I was going to have to close up shop again and I will be honest in saying that if I didn't have the business, I would feel like such a loser.

So I get the approval, I get help moving (Thank you Russell, you have redeemed your family in my eyes) and we begin to settle in once more.
For the fourth time in 21 months.
I've mentioned how difficult I find change, right? I mean I am a total basket case right now, but I feel good cause at least we aren't living in the van.
I dutifully go up to the school to alert them to my new change of address and give them a phone number where they can reach me.
The receptionist lays a bomb on me;
"She has to go to Warrior Ridge Elementary."
"Whaaaaaaaaaat?", I ask.
"You mean she can't go to school here?"
"No, she is out of the zone."
"What" I ask again, in total disbelief.
"She can't stay in her class for the rest of the year?"
I respond with
"I would rather break my lease, lose $1,500 dollars and live in my parents basement than take her out of the school she loves and has been doing so well in." 
I then flip my blond hair, grab up my handbag and stalk out, cause I'm getting really good at dramatic exists. 
I also figure that no one needs to know, right? I mean why can't we all just pretend I never said anything?
But noooooooooooooooooooo, 
this receptionist has to hunt me down, leaving messages on my mom's phone stating that if I do not turn in proof of residency by tomorrow, Makayla would be dropped from the roster. 

So Princess Pinky Pita Pie is being homeschooled.
While I run the business.
While I unpack and set up a new work bench.
And while I deal with some personal crap that is heavy on my mind.
Here is what I find on day 3 after working for a couple of hours in the basement;

The full mattress is flipped up.
The window is wide open.
There is a pocket knife on the floor, in addition to seed beads spilled all over
and her computer is on the vent which has been running our heating unit non-stop due to the fact that her window is open.

I fear for her life and my frail state of mind is now threatened even further.
But I'll be darned if I am going to let this school district get even a penny for her enrollment, after treating her this way.
They would rather have an empty school seat and have no money at all then continue to educate a bright eyed, well-behaved, intelligent little girl who had straight A's and did her best in all areas for another 7 weeks of the school year.
Who only lives 1.4 miles from the school, while the school they insist she start over in is 2.6 miles and a second drop off from her brothers middle school.
Are you as disgusted as I am?
I'm going to tell everybody.

* I want to add that a friend of mine on facebook mentioned there is a waiver that may be granted for out-of-district students. I am going to follow up with that possible option and then write a second letter to the actual receptionist, instructing her on that Really Important Bit of Information that she does not know about or didn't see fit to mention to me as an option.