Thursday, September 30, 2010

Artist Spotlight :: Iceworm Studio

Pauline Lian, owner and artist behind Iceworm Studio is a bubbly, enthusiastic young woman who I just adore!  She has participated in our Bad Girls of the North craft shows for years, primarily in Fairbanks, where she lives.

I own two of her pieces which hang in my studio.  As you can imagine, pressed botanical art is best seen in person.  They are full of dimension and texture.  Pauline is meticulous and her attention to detail makes for a special series of one of  a kind pieces.  Here's a perfect example of forget-me-nots, Alaska's state flower.

I encourage you to visit her website and browse her amazing and unique art form.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me -- on TV in Fairbanks!

I managed to find the video of me on tv last Friday night in Fairbanks.  At least I didn't say anything too stupid.  Again, I feel really, really short.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bad Girls Rock Fairbanks!

Our craft show this past weekend was awesome and amazing.  As usual, the customer turn-out on Friday evening was tremendous and the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic. The most exciting part for me was that channel 11 (the local NBC affiliate) did a live-shot at the show on Friday evening.  I was interviewed by a 6' tall, thin, blond 25 year old, which was extremely nerve wracking.  You have to understand that I'm only 5' tall and a bit frumpy at 53.  Needless to say, I felt, well, short.  Let's just say it was an interesting contrast!

Here's a look at my booth.  I can never get the camera settings right for these banquet room shots.  The lighting is so difficult to work with, but this photo will give you an idea of how I set up my booth.

I've always preferred a booth that allows customers to enter rather than simply walk up to.  I find it more inviting.  Carol & I share a small table for check out purposes (seen on the lower right side of the photo).

Early Saturday morning -- like 4 am -- Rick & I were wakened by a little earthquake.  It was centered very close to Anchorage, but we certainly felt it on the 7th floor of the Westmark Hotel!  It was like a wave flowing across the room.  A bit unnerving to say the least.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rosehips and Cranberries

As autumn begins, our property takes on a whole different appearance.  Gone are many of the bright green leaves.  The wild roses have long since died and even the currants (few that they were) have all been eaten.

What's left are lots and lots and lots of rose hips.  I've tried making jams and sauces from them, but the results were less than stellar.  While still very high in vitamin C, wild rosehips are just not as dense as those from cultivated roses.  They are quite pretty though and I do tend to pick & eat a few every day.

Also in abundance around my house are high bush cranberries.  The stench aroma of them as they ripen is quite apparent.  If one has plans to use them for jam (I do not), it's best to pick them after the first frost.  They are really tart and require lots of sugar to make them edible. 

We don't get the spectacular colors of the changing leaves up here in Alaska.  There simply is not the variety of trees here to generate lots of colors.  The trees we do have mostly turn yellow, which is pretty, but not amazingly brilliant as autumn in the northeast.  I admit to missing that about New York and New England.

We are off to Fairbanks early on Thursday morning for our Bad Girls of the North craft show this coming weekend.  See you next week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn Inspired Jewelry

I recently listed these two new items in my etsy shop.  This first item is a pair of earrings whose main components are antiqued brass leaves.  I like the way the leaves have a slight indentation down the center -- perfect for adding a bead dangle.  In this case, I chose little triangular shaped green glass beads.

This next necklace features a beautifully bold marquis cut carnelian briolette.  You all know how much I love this shape.  The coin pearl next to it has been in my collection for a long time.  It seems to tone down the bright orange of the carnelian just the right amount.

I guess I've been feeling the chill of autumn.  These new additions to my etsy shop certainly reflect the colors and feeling of the season.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

My nieces make me happy.  I don't see them often because they live in Las Vegas and I live in the Great White North  Alaska.  The last time I visited was two years ago when Heather, the oldest got married.

Isn't she beautiful?  Her husband Nate is a great guy and nice to look at too!  Here's a picture of me and my uncle David at the wedding.  I don't seem to have a decent photo of my brother.

Here's my other niece Kari with one of the bridesmaids.  Kari is on the right -- she was the maid of honor.

I'm not sure exactly why I chose today to post these 2 year old photos.  But here they are.  Rick & I are planning a visit to Las Vegas next February after we go to the gem shows in Tucson.

Friday, September 17, 2010

my sudio is a disaster

I still have not put away everything from the state fair.  And now I'm building more inventory for my upcoming show in Fairbanks.  The results?  My main staging table is a disaster zone.  Don't judge me, please.

You can see most of those etched copper pieces that I made in early August are still sitting there.  I used 4 of them today (yay me!).  Carded earrings wait for price tags.  Necklaces in the distance gathering dust.  Spent liver of sulfur waiting to water the plants.  What a mess!  Please tell me you have an area similar to this in your workspace.  Please.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Color Me Beautiful

Some of you may remember the book "Color Me Beautiful" published in 1987.  Then again, some of you may not have been born yet.  But I digress.

My friends and I went nuts for this book.  It was supposed to be the final word on the colors that one looked best in, based on your skin tone, hair color and eye color.  I had 2 copies, but I'm not sure why.  I probably wanted to scribble in one and the other was left pristine.  Both copies are long gone from my personal library and I no longer feel compelled to follow such strict rules about color.

I wear what I want and mix colors willy-nilly.  Aren't I just the wildest woman ever?  Seriously, I generally think I look good in just about all colors and you probably do too.  Live on the edge.  Wear some fuchsia with your green. Or purple.  Or yellow.  Or salmon.  I know, salmon's not a color ---- it's a fish.  But I think you know what I mean.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two New Pairs of Twisted Tornado Earrings

I've recently listed 2 more pairs of my popular twisted tornado earrings.  This first pair features bright green seed beads on the outermost wrapping.

For the next pair, I chose white seed beads, which are much more prominent against the gray, oxidized sterling silver.

It's interesting how the same design can look so different simply by selecting different color seed beads.

I actually had a 3rd pair that I thought looked great.  That is, until I set them up for the "hanging" photo.  They were not close enough in length to be considered a pair!  In person, on my earring display cards, they look fine.  But in a photo, not so much.

Oh well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy New Year

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is upon us.  It is the time of year when we eat sweet things, like challah dipped in honey.  Yes, it is delicious and I feel compelled to bake challah every Rosh Hashanah.  Not only because homemade is always better, but because a challah cannot be found anywhere in Anchorage. Oy.

This year's challah does not look at pretty as usual, but I'm sure it will taste yummy tonight.  Those pesky braid ends just wouldn't stay tucked in.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Etsy : A Love / Hate Relationship

Let me start out by saying that I was already making a living with my jewelry and Bad Girls of the North business before I discovered etsy in 2007.  But I thought, "what the heck, I'll try out this etsy thing and maybe I can eliminate a show or 2 from my fall schedule".  Yes, I've eliminated shows, but not necessarily because of my wild success (ha!) on etsy.  I eliminated them because they were no longer profitable enough to make sense for my business.  To make up for that lost income, I increased my gallery presence and increased my wholesale.

Now, onto the subject at hand: etsy.

Why I love etsy

I love etsy for what it purports to be -- a marketplace for handmade goods.  The concept is fabulous!  The execution, not so much.  There are so many exceptions to the "handmade" rules, that it sometimes feels like I've disappeared and am drowning in a sea of mass produced factory made stuff.  All of that is out of my control, so I try very hard to ignore it, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

The other reason I love etsy is because because of the wonderful people I've met there.  I treasure those online friendships for so many reasons. But that's a topic for another blog post. 

Why I hate etsy

Etsy is a time suck.  It sucks hours of my day, everyday.  I fully understand that I allow it to do so.  It is my choice.  But seriously, how can you stay out of those ever-enticing forum trainwrecks?  Even if I was to contain my forum-reading to just the admin announcements, etsy is still a time suck.  I'm no master photographer, so every photo shoot I do is a learning experience.  And it takes me more time than it probably should.  Then there's the photo editing.  Then there's the listing.  Then there's the renewing.  And on and on.

What sucks even more time is the social media that seems to be so important to etsy success: twitter and facebook.  Even though I have a facebook account, I don't remember ever using it.  Sometimes I get email notifications from them, but that's the extent of my involvement.  I'll admit to using twitter quite a bit, but I'm ready to scale back on that.  It has simply taken too much of my precious (yes, precious) time that I'd rather devote to actually ... making jewelry!

If I never become an etsy success (seemingly less likely every single day), so be it.  I loved my little business pre-etsy and I continue to love it.

Have any thoughts you would like to share on the subject of etsy?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Farewell to the State Fair

Sorry I have not posted more during the State Fair, but let's just say that I was simply too tired to do much of anything else during the fair.  Here's a quick look at the few photos I had a chance to take.

I always like to go to the barn and visit the animals ... especially the goats since I've become auntie to Pricilla.

None of the goaties would look at me when I had the camera ready, but I did catch this adorable little goat head through the bars of its pen.

In the other part of the barn, the giant vegetables were on display.  This year, the 1101 pound pumpkin was the featured attraction.  A little creepy if you ask me.  Considering the short growing season in Alaska, we determined that one could actually have watched this thing get bigger, right before one's eyes.

Our days at the fair would not have been complete without visits to the Kaladi Brothers Coffee booth.  It is always staffed by fun and funny young people who tend to dress goofy and never fail to produce a smile.  Even when the coffee line is a mile long.

And a close up of the Barbie doll display.  My personal favorite is the Barbie with the coffee bean bikini.

Today, Carol & I will meet at the fairgrounds to complete the packing up.  Later, Rick will join us to do the harder work and tow our trailer back home.

We had a wonderful fair.  All of our new merchandise was well received and I've already placed a new order with Alaska Serigraphics for our next event at the end of this month -- Bad Girls of the North in Fairbanks!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bad Girls of the North :: why do we sell all that logo merchandise anyway??

Those of you that read my blog regularly know that my other business, Bad Girls of the North, is an enterprise that produces arts & crafts shows.  When Carol & I started the business in 1998, our primary goal was to create good venues for us to sell our own crafts (Carol is a soap maker and I make jewelry).  At that time, Anchorage had a plethora of craft shows, mostly taking place in school cafeterias and gyms, churches and aircraft hangars.  Not exactly conducive to high-end craft marketing.

Carol is on the left.  That's me on the right.  My hair is grayer now and I hardly ever wear my contacts any more.

Our first show in November, 1998 had 22 vendor spaces and took place in a now condemned hotel in mid-town Anchorage.  The reception from the community was amazing!  When we opened the doors at 5 pm on that Friday evening (our shows always take place on Friday evenings and all day Saturday) there was an onslaught of customers.  We had a buffet of free nibbles for the shoppers and a cash bar so they could grab a glass of wine or a beer while they shopped.

We really had no idea what we were doing, but our advertising must have worked.  We lost our shirts on that first show.  It was embarrassing in a financial way.

But we learned.  And 13 years later, we are still learning.

We have relocated our Anchorage show several times over the years to accommodate growth.  We also added a show in the Mat-Su Valley in 1999 (now canceled) and another in Fairbanks in 2000 (still going strong).

Our advertising always consists of a print ad in the local newspaper, public radio underwriting and a huge direct mail campaign. 

In an attempt to maintain a reasonable cost to the artists who participate in our juried shows, we started selling our logo merchandise: shirts, hats, bags, mugs, water bottles, sweatshirts.  The proceeds from these sales ensures that we can keep our shows affordable for the artists and still make some money for ourselves.  These sales subsidize the craft show production.

Over the years, we have shipped our t-shirts all over the country.  Someone's daughter has just left for college in Oregon and needs a Bad Girls shirt.  A sister in Virginia loves Alaska and wants a hat.  We have 13 years worth of stories.  It's incredibly satisfying to have so many loyal customers who look forward to visiting our State Fair booth, craft shows our website year after year.

Don't you need a hat, or something????

just kidding ...