Friday, October 31, 2008

Sounds in the night

Something happened early this morning that couldn't have happened at a better time.

It was 3:00 a.m. and I was watching an old black and white horror film. It wasn't really very scary, but I love the ambiance in these old movies with the dark, shadowy woods, the fog that rolls over the country side and the sounds of the night creatures.

Just as I was about to turn the TV off, I heard the hooting of an owl. Although it came from behind me, I thought it was from the movie. I sat up and listened, first muting the TV. I waited a minute in the dark, straining my ears. Then I heard it, loud and clear, the strong hoot of an owl.

It sounded as if it were right outside my window. There are woods directly behind my house and not too long ago, I saw the large wing span of a bird that I hoped was an owl. I've scanned the tops of the trees and searched with binoculars the crevices and shadows where an owl might live, hoping to see one. But I never did.

I'm used to strange noises that drift through the night air and have heard frightened baby fox, screams of raccoons and possums, and even the the quivering cry of a screech owl, but I've never heard the eerie sound of a Hoot Owl (Barred Owl).

I opened my window and hooted back at the owl, but, wise as he was, he cautiously waited before he hooted again. Without my interference, he felt free to call out in the night. So I closed the window and laid in the dark and listened. At first the sound was unsettling, but after a few minutes it was as welcome and familiar as an old friend.

Every old black and white movie I've ever seen has an owl crying out in the darkness. A symbol of impending doom, the owl is seen as strange and frightening. It's the watcher of the night. But there in bed I rested, snug in my covers, listening to the owl as if it were singing me a sweet lullaby.

Whether it's an owl crying out in the night, a black cat running across your path, or a bat buzzing past your head, Halloween might just spook you with a little surprise. Watch those dark corners, beware those mysterious shadows and be careful of things that go bump in the night.

Have a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whimsical Letter

I have been working on a project in my graphic design class where we transform a letter into another object.

I chose the letter G.
The assignment called for only 7 steps.

The process had to be gradual.

I started to add polka dots . The tummy and arms and head start to grow.

I smoothed out the tail.

More polka dots, longer arms, and a more defined head emerge.

I added whites for the eyes and little fingers and toes.

I have found, that no matter how hard I try, I can't avoid whimsical. I might as well face it, it's my style.

This would be a great idea for an Alphabet Book. Only, I think it would have been better to do
G is for Giant,,or something that started with a G.

All in all, I'm happy with the finished work.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tales from the darkside...

iIn other words, I did another craft show yesterday and it was bad.

I hate to be negative, because I did enjoy myself, chatting with other crafters, catching up with old friends, but as for sales, it was bad.

Most of the people I spoke to were in the same boat as me. They were struggling to get their table money back. I think I made about $38.00 over the cost of the table. I used to think that I would be happy if I made around 10 times to 20 times the cost of my space. For instance, if I paid $50.00 for a table, I expected to make $500 to $1000 that day. That was an achievable goal in the past. Those days are gone, at least for me. I haven't seen that return in awhile. I hope some of you are making that much.

As for customers, the "lookers" were friendly, gave compliments freely, chatted about the weather and inquired about my product. Two little girls came to my booth 7 times to admire my little pink sock monkey.

One of the girls really wanted the sock monkey and she held it in her hands, looked at her money, whispered to her friend, looked at me, and then would put the monkey down and walk away . This happened all afternoon. I really wanted her to buy it. Not because I needed the $4.00 but because she had fallen in love with it. But, as nice as I am, I wasn't going to give it to her.
With every purchase, I was giving my customers a free bag. The little girl who loved my monkey was just as in love with the bags, and would pick out a bag and hold it up to the monkey to find the right match. In the end, her mother told her she couldn't buy it. I was a little sad to see them leave!

Here are the bags I bought off of ebay. They looked nice with the clay, and people really appreciated the gesture. I paid $5.50 for 100 of them. Not bad!

I met a few crafters/artists and we shared ideas about Etsy., finding good items at garage sales that sell well on ebay, wholesale places to buy supplies, new craft ideas, and marketing suggestions.

As bad as the craft show was, I came away with some inspirations. For instance, I saw someone wearing polymer clay buttons on her jacket. I've been making buttons myself, and I think mine were much better, so that verified my idea that buttons might work for me.

I think I'm going to try and make stickers for my next show, to sell alongside the clay. I have been working a lot with graphics, so a lot of the work is done. I just have to get a new ink cartridge and labels, and I'll be set to go. I have a lot of ideas in regard to stickers and labels, and I think images of cute clay babies might look great on stickers. I have three weeks before my next show to put together a cute collection. I think I can work it nicely into my display.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sometimes I think we artists/crafters are a little insane. I've done three shows in a month with horrible results, yet I still expect that the next show will have different results. Or so I'm hoping. To create, to make things, to do art is so important in my life that the
financial outcome, as horrible as it sometimes is, does not make me throw my hands up in the air and scream, "I quit!" I just keep creating. My friend Mary Ann, always says to me, "You just keep on keeping on, Debbie."

Albert Einstein also said, "True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."

Spoken as the true genius he was.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The traveling museum

I think I've mentioned that I go to Madonna University where I'm studying Graphics. Well, my homework this week really was time consuming, in fact, although I've spent about 8 hours in the last three days on it, I'm still hours away from completing the assignments by Wednesday.

So, that means I let 5 days go by without posting in my blog, and for this I apologize. I feel bad when I see my visitors who return each day, and there's nothing new to read.

I did do a craft show on Saturday and the news wasn't good. I seriously think now, that craft shows are the biggest waste of my time. I set up my display and sat and smiled at people who wandered by. One person commented that she didn't bring any money with her. I heard comment after comment about how cute my things are (as usual, the dog might eat them, the kid might choke...who's in charge in those households???)

Sometimes I feel like I'm a traveling museum. I set up my art/craft, people file by and ohh, and ahhh. They touch and smile. They tell me how patient I am, how talented I am, how cute my things are, and then they move on to the next booth, where they repeat themselves. From 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. I did have about 9 or 10 people actually reach into their pockets and pull out some cash. Thank you!

Can you tell that I'm still a bit crabby from Saturday? I just can't figure people out anymore. I must have heard 100 times that my prices were great and my clay babies were adorable, purchase.

I was supposed to sign up for two more shows in the next two weeks, but I am declining. My next show is November 15th. Until then I'll just rely on etsy and ebay for sales.

I think I'm going to concentrate on snowmen and penguin families. Personalized things seem to sell the best.

I have some other clay things that I've been working on. I made a bunch of embellishments and some buttons. If I can't sell them, I'll put them in collages. They are pretty interesting looking.

This is a scroll that has chinese letting on it. I made several scrolls, layered them on top of each other and glued them to a painted canvas.

Finally, I'm going to take a leap of faith and start painting on a regular basis. I'm going to set up a table that will hold my easel, paints, and brushes. That way I will be more inclined to paint if there is an area that's always available. I love to paint and find that it's one of the most relaxing activities I do. Here is a painting I did today. It's a 8 by 10 canvas with my favorite color combination, green and pink.
It can never be said that I didn't pursue my love of art. I just hope one day it will start to pay off. Even though some of the set backs irritate me a little, I'll try harder to enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Although today's topic is a little "off topic" I think everyone can relate to it.

Today I've been working on pumpkins, ginger breads and stressed out girls. Instead of listening to my radio, I have Music Choice on the Alternative station. My choice in music is usually retro alternative (80s The Cure, XTC, New Order, etc). My next choice would be music from the 90s and now, like Stone Temple Pilots, Collective Sole, Smashing pumpkins, NIN, Coldplay, etc. When I'm feeling spiritual I'll listen to gospel and Christian. When I'm really in a good mood and feeling energetic, I'll put on Funky music like The Gap and Earth, Wind and Fire or old school. When I really want to feel reflected and relaxed I listen to new age.

While I was working, "Talk" by Coldplay came on. Immediately, I was reminded of three things. Firstly, "talk" was the first song I put on my myspace page. Secondly, the song reminds me of my boyfriend, Jeff. Thirdly, I thought about my daughter's old friend. The friend isn't in my daughter's life anymore due to personal reasons, but the song still reminds me of her. My daughter Amber was in labor, while her friend and I sat in the birthing room talking about Coldplay and how much we liked them. It's a simple memory, but it does make me a little sad.

I know I'm not alone when I say that music transports me back to a memory, a time or a place. When I hear certain songs, I can remember details like where I was sitting, who I was with, what I was wearing and what the weather was like.

One of the first memories I have related to a song is "Go away little Girl" by Steve Lawrence. I was dreaming that no one wanted me around, and that where ever I went, people would say, "Go away little girl." As I slowly awakened from the dream, I could hear the song playing on the radio. I heard my dad packing his lunch for work and he was whistling along with the music. That memory goes back to 1962.

In 1967 there was a song by The Boxtops called "The Letter". Whenever I hear that song, I can remember walking on a hot sandy road with my cousin Nancy. I was 12 years old at the time and she was two years older. I thought she was so cool and I wanted to be like her. We were walking with our transistor radios and the song came on. She remarked that she loved that song. I loved it too and I felt like it ranked me a little higher in the "cool" category.

My cousin died several years ago but when I hear that song I remember that hot summer day we spent together.

1972 introduced me to a lot of great songs and my first hard crush. My friend Debbie and I both double dated two guys for a few months and, although both of those "relationships" ended
with broken hearts, the songs from that era remind me of the fun, excitement and sadness I experienced then. I remember roller skating to "Round-about" by Yes, making out to "Doctor my eyes" by Jackson Brown, and fighting to "American Pie" by Don McClean.
When I hear "Precious and Few" by Climax, I remember the heartbreak my friend felt when her guy dumped her. My heartache followed with sad songs, like "Alone Again" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Without you" by Nilsson, and finally, Bread's "Diary" song.

I remember going to a pool party in 1973 and as I pulled up in front of the house, "Hooked on a Feeling" came on by Blue Swede. I sat in the car and listened to it. A friend of mine screamed out my name from the pool deck, but I waited till the song was over before I got out of the car.

I was married in 1976 and remembered traveling to Pennsylvania for the honeymoon. "Let Your Love Flow" by Bellamy Brothers was all over the radio, and I thought it was fitting that it would be "our song." (Originally, "our song" was "I shot the sheriff" by Bob Marley..kind of fitting now that we've been divorced for so long..)

I've only covered the first two decades of my life and I'm falling behind on making clay.
So, I think I'll cover the next two decades tomorrow. Enjoy the videos!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't quit your day job...

I made a decision a few months ago that I was going to try to support myself through my art and clay. I worked as a Site Director in a before and after school Child enrichment program, and it was starting to stress me. When school was dismissed in June, I decided to take the summer off. I had a great summer, and my cake topper orders kept me in cash all summer. I had saved some money to live off of and having all of that freedom gave me the push I needed to tell my boss that I wasn't coming back in the fall.

I listened to motivational tapes that kept me inspired and I worked daily on my business. I was sure that I could support myself with my clay, but the need for a new car and a drop in orders forced me to rethink that decision. At about the same time that the financial crisis in America was hitting, my own crisis was starting to show itself. I was beginning to think that I might not be able to make it as a self employed artist.

Two weeks ago my former boss asked if I would like a small site to direct. "7 kids!" she said, dangling this opportunity over my head. I did not hesitate and accepted the job. It was with a happy heart that I started last Friday.

My first day on the job (which is only 3.5 hours per day) I bonded with the children and met most of the parents. It was a great start and I was glad to be back working with kids.

It's funny though, how a few rude parents can totally change a person's perspective. Yesterday, I had to inform a parent that she was a few weeks behind in her tuition. She started to argue that she didn't owe it, she wasn't going to pay it, and she's going to be mad if she has to. I finally told her my boss would handle it. She told me she understood it wasn't my fault, but she still wasn't going to pay it. I just can pass her off to my boss, who said she would handle it. I still may have to listen to this parent complain, in fact, I'm sure she will.

Today, a father came in to get his son. I hadn't met him yet and asked to see his ID. I knew it was going to be a hassle because when the dad came in, he didn't look at me or speak to me. I came up to him, introduced myself to him, and asked to see his ID. His attitude was immediatly condesending. He asked me, "how old is my son?" "How old?" he repeated. Before I could answer, he said, "He's ten years old and he ought to know I'm his dad."

I replied, "yes, but I don't know you." He repeated his rude comment.

I replied, "My concern is just for the safety of your child."

The father walked to the door, stopped and looked at his son. "Are you old enough to know I'm your dad?" he asked.

"Do you have your ID?" I continued.

Finally, he opened up his wallet, mumbling under his breath as he flipped it open, and just as I leaned forward to see, he snapped it shut and walked out of the door.

I was dumbfounded. If I were a parent with a child in daycare, I would be glad to show my ID.
I stood in the middle of the room and, sure enough, felt my eyes tear up as a lump formed in my throat. It took me about 15 minutes to get the thought of him out of my head without crying, and now, 6 hours later, I'm writing about it. I hate the fact that I'm so sensitive. It really bothers me. What I would really like to have said was, "Well, sir, I guess you won't mind if I let your son go home with anyone. Hopefully, no child molester will stop by to get him."
But, because I'm too polite for my own good, I just stood there like a door mat.

It's moments like this that I wish I could be more successful with my clay and that I could make more than enough money to support myself. I must admit, as soon as I got home, I worked on my website, made a few items, did my homework for my graphic class and worked on promoting my sites. It's jerks like the above dad who will inspire and motivate me to one day be successful enough to be self employed. I should have thanked him. For now though, I'll bite my tongue, do my job, and work like mad on my own business.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Youtube video

Many of you have already seen this video, but for those of you who haven't, here it is.

It's a bit long but I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Design "firsts"

For years I've been making a polymer clay "bashful" santa ornament. I think the first time I made him was in 1985 or 86.

I was doing a craft show and a friend told me about a tee shirt she saw with a naked santa holding his hat over his "package". She had seen this shirt at another show and kind of scribbled the design down for me to look at.

I loved this idea and at the next craft show I had several bashful santa ornaments ready to sell.

This was not my original idea, but I had never seen anyone do them in clay. For awhile, I was the only one that I knew of who was making them in the Detroit area. Then slowly, I began to see them in other clay artist's booths. Did they copy from me? Did the tee shirt guy copy from them, and I from him? I don't know.

By the 1990s I started to see them at Claires, the jewelry store. They were little earrings made in China. I wondered where they got the idea from.

When I joined ebay in 2001, I started to sell the naked santa in my auctions. It was a good seller and naked santa had a good run.

One day I was in a forum and noticed someone was upset about her naked santa design being copied on ebay. I began to read the thread and found out that I was the offender! The irritated ebayer ranted on and on about me. I posted a reply, explaining that I had been making the naked santa for years and that I didn't even come up with the idea. She finally calmed down and even to this day, we periodically send each other emails. She lives only a few miles from me, maybe she saw my naked santa at a show and was inspired. I'll never know.

Over the years I've seen lots of different versions of this naughty santa.

I've often wondered though, who came up with this idea first?

Benjamin Franklin said, "
Originality is the art of concealing your sources” Isn't that the truth!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tales from the Pumpkin Fest

November 2004: I did a craft show where I broke even...

December 2004: I vowed to never do craft shows again.....

October 2008: I do another craft show....

South Lyon Pumpkin Fest

I had high hopes for this show. The booth cost me $150.00 for two days. It was with a lot of trepidation that I signed the check and contract.But I really thought it would be worth it. I had done this show in the past and did pretty well, the citizens of South Lyon really support their community events, and my quality of my clay had improved a lot since the last time I'd been there.

So it was with a lot of excitement and hope that I and Mary Ann headed off to South Lyon on Friday night to se
t up for the Sat. and Sun. show.

Beginning to set up the booth...

I found these fireplace screens on sale for $2.50 at Kmart last year. I bought 4 of them and they fit perfectly on my tables.

We hung pins and ornaments on the screens.

We left the booth at 8:30 Friday night looking like this. The next day the rest of the gym was full of crafters.

I brought a lot of Halloween ghosts and pumpkins.

The show started at 11 am on Saturday. I arrived at 10:00 and had to park my car about 1/2 mile away from the school. There was shuttle bus service for us, which was great, because my legs wouldn't have made it
, my knees hurt so bad.

During the day, people meandered through the show, making comments about the crafts as they ate popcorn and cotton candy. I had a few too many sticky fingers touching my clay babies as parents don't seem to think it's rude to have their children touch everything in sight. Within the first hour I heard enough comments to last me the rest of the season. "Remember when these were popular?" "I can do this" "Why should I buy this when I can make it" and, my favorite,"These break"

If it weren't for the many positive comments I heard, I might have been in a bad mood. But for every negative, there are about 100 posi
tives. People smiled at my clay, remarked on how cute it was and loved the prices. My favorite moment was when a Down Syndrome child kept saying, "ahhh" "Ohhh" as she looked at the fatty fairies with their glistening wings.

I had a lot of pre-teen girls bought little ghosts and pigs. I gave them all a $1.00 off the prices and they were thrilled. I thought it was interesting that three teen boys were fascinated with how I made my dragons and bears. They were into pottery and asked me a lot of questions.

I interacted with a lot of different characters during the show. One woman pointed to my clay pigs and told me it brought back bad memories for her to see a pig since someone called her that 20 years ago!?! Another woman started talking about her boyfriend then suddenly asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I was polite and said yes. She whipped open her purse and proudly show me her "kid Rock" lookalike boyfriend.

At the end of the day, I had made my money back from the cost of the booth. This was so discouraging as the point is to make money, not break even. But, I had hope for Sunday.


They say
hope is tomorrow's veneer over today's disappointment.

I was full of hope.

However, Sunday was horrible. No one came shopping. The aisles were void of shoppers. Crafters stood around talking, comparing notes. Thank goodness Mary Ann came with me because I had someone to talk to. The show ran from 11:00 to 5:00 and I barely made $50.00.

At 4:30, we started to slowly take things apart. Mary Ann watched the booth while I went to catch the shuttle bus. A few of us waited for about 15 minutes before he arrived. No one complained though, because he was such a nice guy. I headed back in my car to the school. I had to maneuver my car past a petting zoo, a giant lemon and crafters who were running back and forth to their cars. Mary Ann had already started to bring the boxes out to the parking lot and I loaded up the car. The show ended at 5:00 and by 5:23 we were on our way home.

There are many good points to doing a craft show. I now have a lot of stock. I got to network with other crafters. I passed out a lot of business cards. I received a lot of great feedback from the public.

Hopefully, at my next show, I'll actually make some money!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Craft Show Countdown

This Saturday and Sunday I'll be doing the South Lyon Pumpkin Fest. I've been so busy getting ready for the show that I haven't had time to post. I am planning on taking my camera so that I can show what my set up looks like. It's the first show I've done in a few years, so I'm a bit nervous.

Wish me luck and I'll be posting lots of information and pictures on Monday, October 6.

See you then!

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

FEEDJIT Live Page Popularity