Friday, December 5, 2008

Stone Soup Video - make your own!

Thanks to Matt at 1000 Markets for suggesting animoto as a fun promotional tool! Animoto is a small, very user-friendly service that takes your still photos and turns them into a little video montage, complete with soundtrack. It's very easy to create a 30 second video (and for a small fee, of course, you can upgrade the image quality).

I imagine I'll spend a lot of time this weekend uploading photos of my kids doing goofy things. Wait until they can see themselves on film.

Monday, December 1, 2008

There's no place like home

I've been working on lots of these little houses lately. They've been very popular at craft shows, and they've become my regular donation for charity auctions. I like the idea of a house as a symbol of love and security, and it seemed like an appropriate donation for the local charity that's dearest to me - Cradles to Crayons, which provides clothing, school supplies, baby gear, books and other essentials for low-income and homeless children. I have two young daughters, and when I look at them and think that there are other kids out there, just like them, who don't have all the things we enjoy, my heart hurts. Home should be a safe, warm place where kids don't have to worry about anything, and so many children don't have that's hard to imagine that in this country where so many of us seem to have everything in excess.

I'll be taking my 7 year old daughter to Cradles to Crayons next week to spend some time volunteering in their warehouse and to help her learn about the challenges that other kids face. I want her to be able to see how blessed our family is, and to understand how important it is to share what we can - especially now, with Christmas approaching, when so many kids are thinking about all the things they want.

Why not do some of your holiday shopping at a fundraising auction this year? You can visit Cradles to Crayons' auction and can find plenty of other charitable auctions at Bidding for Good.

Buying handmade, and buying through auctions that support charities, is a wonderful way to give back to your community this year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

1000 Markets!

I've just set up a new shop on the beautiful 1000 Markets site. I'm excited both about selling there and about doing my holiday shopping (well, so far I've found a ton of treats to buy for myself, anyway).

If you haven't seen 1000 Markets, go take a look!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

Indeed. :)

Perhaps I'm an elitist, but I'm so excited about watching a public dialogue that's intelligent, interesting and calm. And I'm so happy that my seven year old daughter still doesn't fully understand why electing a person of color or a woman is that big a deal. It gives me hope for her generation. Her four year old sister plans to be President, and will run on a no-smoking platform. ; -)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Little Wednesday Gift

To celebrate my new Fundamentals collection (see photo in yesterday's post), I'm having a little giveaway. Comment on this blog post, and I'll add your name to a drawing for a pair of Hammered Dome earrings, pictured here.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Fundamentals Collection

I've been selling these simple, versatile pieces at shows all summer. They're crafted of hammered, polished sterling, and they pretty much go with everything. I wear a bracelet like this one almost every day, and the hammered dome earrings have become my "go-to" earrings. My morning routine isn't exactly leisurely - I usually shepherd my kids out the door and hope that I'm lucky enough to have grabbed matching shoes, so I rely on these simple earrings to pull what I will loosely call my "look" together. The texture, which catches the light beautifully as the earrings move, is just enough to make them striking.

I'll be adding some of these pieces to my Etsy shop later today.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Becoming a Trend, I Fear

Hmm. It's Monday morning, and my thoughts are a bit single-minded today so far. Seems like my last post was about not sleeping, too...seems to be a disturbingly common theme for me lately. I find myself daydreaming with visions of this:

When my coffee kicks in, I have a long list of projects to do. What's worse - using dangerous metalworking tools when I'm groggy or when I'm overcaffeinated?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cute doesn't always cut it

Not much to post today - sleep deprivation will do that to you. Let's just say that I am NOT a morning person, but someone else in our house is:

Adorable, yes (she's bigger now, but I love that photo). But she'd be cuter at 7 am than she is at 5:30. Know what I mean?

At least she got me up and moving...I have a show to prepare for (Somerville ArtBeat on July 19) and I need to get to the bench!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My New Site is UP!

I've just finished some significant revisions to my web site - a new look, new photos, completely different style. You can see it here (warning - it's a flash site, so it takes a few seconds to load):

Stone Soup Jewelry

I'm thrilled with this site so far. I purchased it through BluDomain. Blu is a small company that offers dozens of funky templates and hosting. Their sites were originally designed for professional photographers, so they work well for visual artists, offering galleries and a few external links. There is a shopping cart available in some templates, though it's not the best for work other than photography. But I understand that there are some new designs coming out on July 25 with different shopping cart formats.

The people at Blu have been friendly, responsive and helpful. And I think my site's looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Free Shipping on Handmade Findings!

I've been very pleased with the response to my new supply shop, and so for the next week I'm offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed by my blog readers.

In order to take advantage of the shipping special, you'll need to select "Store Pickup" as your shipping choice at checkout - even though I will be sending your package via US Mail. Blog readers will get a little bonus with each purchase, as well. :)

If you have any questions, please leave a comment here and I'll respond.

You see my handmade jewelry findings at Stone Soup Jewelry Supplies.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Waiting...and Happy Meat.

Patience is not among my virtues.

I've been working on a new portfolio web site for my jewelry, and I'm thrilled with the way it's turning out, but now I've reached the stage where I have to wait for propagation (basically, I have to wait for servers all over the place to pick up and recognize my DNS changes, and this takes at least a day or two).

Unable to blather on about my work for now, I'll tell you about my latest foodie excitement. I posted a little while ago about the gorgeous produce we're getting from The Food Project CSA, and now on top of that we've joined a terrific meat CSA through Chestnut Farms. I'd been growing increasingly ambivalent about eating meat - while I do eat meat, I don't much like the livestock farming practices I read about. I don't think it's reasonable for humans to treat other living things as a commodity, exclusive of any other value. Yes, animals in the wild eat other animals, and being a carnivore is not inherently evil. But forcing a cow to stand in feces, or a breeding sow to live in a 2 foot wide gestation crate where she can't turn around or stand up straight, is just cruel. I've seen photos of these farms, even ones that are otherwise clean and well run, and it makes me sick. Knowing that the animals at Chestnut Farms have room to move around, interact with each other, and get attention from humans is a big deal to me. I will admit that the thought of adorable piglets turning into dinner is something that I still can't quite think about.

I spend a lot of time, and undoubtedly a bit more money, trying to buy food for my family that comes from sources we can feel good about. It was getting harder and harder for me to believe that the meat we bought was safe for us (no hormones, no additives) and came from animals that were humanely raised. So when I read about the family who owns Chestnut Farms, and how committed they are to their animals, to the quality of the food they produce, and to sustaining the land on which they farm, I was thrilled. These are people who get it - and who work really, really hard to make a difference - and I feel privileged to help support that work.

Of course, it's still pretty easy to be on the consumer end of all this. All I have to do is buy the food - the farmers here do all the really demanding work. But it's a start, and for now my kids are young enough that I can't really get them involved in the hands-on volunteer work at places like the Food Project. So for now, I take them to the farm to collect our produce (and pick some of it ourselves), and to the pickups for the meat, and I talk about why we're doing this, and hope that they're learning something important.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence Day(s) - Indie Artisan Resources Series

As Independence Day approaches in the U.S., I thought it might be a good time to start a series of posts I've been thinking about for a while - information about resources for independent artisans. I hope to be able to offer some suggestions about website design, hosting, ecommerce, etc, business planning, grants/loans, and perhaps even some craft-related resources for those just starting out.

Today's suggestion, for artists looking for simple web sites with some ecommerce options, is Pronounced like the last part of the word "exhibit," Zhibit provides an easy interface for artists to sell their work. The advantages?

- Low cost (the most expensive plan tops out at $139/year, and there's a simple plan for $3/month)
- Good features for the money. The "Gold" plan, at $9/month or $89/year, offers 500 product listings with photos, a guestbook (which will generate a mailing list for you), site stats through Google Analytics or SiteMeter, integration with PayPal, help with SEO, and full domain aliasing (which means you can point your own domain name directly to your Zhibit shop).

Is it perfect? No, but it offers quite a bit for the price, and it's a great solution for someone who wants to be able to set up a site quickly and with little or no HTML knowledge.

I've just opened my jewelry supply shop through Zhibit, and I'm quite pleased. There are other services at a similar price point (BigCartel, or even eCrater for free), and some others that are more expensive and sophisticated (Shopify, NetworkSolutions), and I'll talk about those. But for a simple way to sell your artwork online, Zhibit gets my vote.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Workspace, Part One and a Half

Getting there. Really.

First of all, my new handmade jewelry findings shop is open and running (click here and see)! It's not fully stocked yet - still need to add more copper ear wires and a few new designs - but it's a start. If you have suggestions for the links/tutorials page, please let me know.

Next order of business - I've made more progress in my workroom.

This is another IKEA purchase (a Fredrik computer desk). I ended up choosing this because it had a nice big work surface, and the table height is adjustable, so I can put it up high enough to make saw piercing and wire work comfortable. I've been hunched over a table for far too long, and my old back couldn't take it. I chose this instead of a more traditional jeweler's bench because I wanted a wider, deeper table surface. I may invest in a different organizer for the back of the table, but for now this works nicely.

I've made a couple of purchases on Etsy to add some color to the room, including a beautiful little wall quilt and some button/textile art - so more photos to come when I finish the bench and get the walls dressed up a bit more!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Workspace, Part One

I did it. *pats self on back*

I'm not finished yet, but I did manage to reorganize the bench I use for measuring/cutting wire and packing items to ship. This is why I love IKEA. I put this together using the base from an office cabinet (Effektiv), the frame and internal drawers from a wardrobe (Pax/Komplement), and a hanging wall rack from their laundry room storage series (Antonius).

The Antonius wall rack is exactly what I've been looking for - gets the wire up out of the way, but easily accessible. And it comes with little boxes, clips and hooks, so I can keep all kinds of supplies up there, within reach.

The top drawer is the Komplement jewelry drawer with dividers, and it's perfect for working on orders from my supply shop - I use the small compartments to separate invoices and fill them with small bags of findings as I complete each part of the order. The second drawer has packing materials, and the tray on top has my tissue paper and labels, so I can put everything together. And using the Effektiv base meant I could raise the height of the unit up over 36 inches, which makes it comfortable for me to stand there and work without hunching over.

I'm thinking everyone else isn't likely to be as interested in my workshop reorganization as I am, but I also know that I love to look around people's workspaces, and seeing the tools and systems they've used is really helpful.

Just wait until you see what I'm doing with my workbench. The IKEA obsession is getting a little creepy - but it just works so well. Oh, and the artwork on the walls is courtesy of my 6 year old daughter, but I'm busily buying art from some other places to further decorate the space.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Clearing Out the Underbrush

Change is good.

And there's a lot of it happening around here. I've spent so much time lately thinking about my goals for this work, both in terms of what I want to do artistically and what I need to do to grow my business. I read some posts on Luann Udell's blog this weekend, where she talked about reorganizing her workspace, and how she couldn't focus on her craft until she'd cleared out some space, both physical and mental.

So, this morning I'm in here trying to forge through the clutter and finish the workroom improvements I started more than a month ago (hangs head in shame). I can't bear the thought of taking "before" photos, but I will post some pics when it looks decent. So stay tuned.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Changes to Stone Soup Jewelry Supplies

I'm in stage one of redoing my handmade jewelry supply shop. I have some new photos, a new color scheme, and some new designs coming soon.

Stage two: moving the shop to an independent site. My goal is to finish the move by the end of July. When I do that, I'll be offering some special sales to friends and mailing list subscribers, so email me if you're interested, and I'll send you the super secret discount code!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Produce from Another Planet

After threatening to do it for a few years, we finally joined a CSA this season. The Food Project in Lincoln, MA has a lot going for it: a beautiful farm in an almost unbelievably idyllic wooded setting; gorgeous and tasty produce; a well-considered and apparently successful community outreach mission. The project brings kids from urban neighborhoods out to the farm to learn about agriculture and business. The kids manage the crops, harvest the produce and sell the food at local farmers' markets. Some of the food is sold through CSA shares, and some is donated to local shelters. It's sustainable, local, organic (not certified, but free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides) agriculture.

It's enough to make a good old fashioned bedwetting liberal like me faint.

And did I mention that the food is gorgeous? This week's share included a few spectacular treats like garlic scapes and kohlrabi, both of which prompted my 6 year old daughter to ask, "Are those really things to EAT? They look like little aliens."