Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free Polymer Clay Bead of the Month Drawing

It's that time again - well, almost. Tomorrow evening I do a drawing for the free bead of the month. All subscribers from my newsletter are eligible. To sign up, go here. Once I get the winner's permission, I will blog about it or post it here. In past months, I've photographed the bead and blogged about it. You can see them here, here, or here. This month, however, I will not be able to photograph it as my camera is in the shop. We've had a little camera mishap. I'm praying it can be fixed as I'm very much attached to that camera. I use a Nikon Coolpix 4300 (LOVE the camera) and they are now discontinued . . . but I have faith the universe will send it back to me (for a fee, of course)! Okay - I've learned and I promise I will NOT preview, edit pictures while making dinner, talk on the phone, and help my daughter with her math homework. Yikes - I'm on multi-task overload. BUT, I am now a reformed multi-tasker - well, at least at this posting and while my camera's in the shop. What really gets accomplished by multi-tasking anyway? A broken camera? Is it worth it? When the camera took a jump (fortunately not in the soup) I swore I would get off this fast train (to who knows where, anyway) :^) So, for the time being, I can describe the free bead. It's the same shape as the other winning beads with the silver end caps. The colors used are similar to the colors seen on this bead. So, if you like blues, browns, a little gold and a little sterling, sign up!

Master Chief Spartan Statue

Wow - I just saw this amazing 11.5 inch tall statue on ebay. It was listed on eBay on 9/27 for a 7 day listing. In its second day, it's going for $241.96. To watch the listing, click here. The artist's name is David Johnson, and here is a link to his web site. He also is on MySpace. Amazing!

Goal Setting

Have an idea as to what you want to do but can't quite seem to carve out the time? Do you seem to waste your studio time and before you know it, you have to leave the studio, again and again? Does this seem to be a pattern? Anytime this happens to me, I know it's because I haven't done my "to do" list. Which brings me to goal setting. When you have something you want to accomplish whether it's got to do with a design or with life in general, it's always best to write down your goals. Daily. Be clear about your goals as well. And - every day you have to have some action to get them done. Make a plan - what's it going to take to get it done? What are the steps you need to take? Every day, do five things towards that goal. They don't have to be major, they can be fairly simple. A phone call to a gallery, a phone call to order some supplies you might need, etc. But just do them. Daily. And at the end of each day, congratulate yourself. You're one step closer to that goal. As you make this a habit, you'll be amazed to see what you've accomplished. And once you've accomplished your goal, do something special for yourself - you deserve it!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday's Pictures

The picture below is a picture of lily seed embryos - for my friend Mary!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

So - What's in a Name?

I've been thinking a lot about names lately. Take for example the names of people. I've been noticing how there is a connection between a great name and how people respond to them. When you hear an unusual name, doesn't it kind of grab your attention? Or how about when you look at someone and you hear their name, doesn't it for the most part "make sense"?And what about street names? Is it a beautiful name with beautiful homes? Do you fall in love with it - the whole package? Then there's always the terrible street names. I remember hearing on the radio how people were having a hard time selling their homes when they lived on streets with bad names. Would you want to buy a house on Booger Hollow Rd in Cedartown, GA, Bucket of BloodStreet in Holbrook, Ariz., Black Weiner Drive in Savannah, Ga., Skunk's Misery Road inLong Island, N.Y., Schmuck Road in Evansville, Ind., Poverty Plains Road in Warner,N.H., Divorce Court in Pittston, Pa., and Shades of Death Road in Warren County, N.J.?

The other day I went to Kohl's to see Vera Wang's new line. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw her shoes. They all had names after coffee and food. Biscotti, espresso, latte, etc. Do you resonate with a pair of latte clogs?

Which brings me to why I started thinking about this. When you make your jewelry - do you name your pieces? For me, I swear I toil over this as much as a baby's name. Well . . . not really but I do put a lot of effort into it. Sometimes the name comes fairly easy and other times, not so easy. Why? Because the every name you think of, just isn't "right". And you know it. That connection just isn't quite there. I recently had a conversation with a customer. We were talking about her options and what would work best for her and her store. When I suggested a particular bead she said something like "oh yeah - I've got to have that bead - I love that name." It's times like that I realize it was the perfect name for the piece. There was a direct connection. But I couldn't help but wonder - did the actual physical bead come into play, or was it based purely on emotion? That's when I realized the importance of naming my work. For the connection. Not just for mine - but for the market. When you sand, buff and polish your pieces - are you really done? Have you given them a name before you send them off into the world?

Some new pictures

Here are some pictures I thought you might enjoy.
And here's a close up of a section of a gingko leaf - very cool!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Elevator speech

You're going up on an elevator when someone starts a conversation with you. It might lead to "So - what is it that you do?" You've got 15 - 30 seconds before that elevator door opens. What do you say? How do you respond? Most elevator speeches are confusing, boring, and leave the party disinterested. Don't give someone the laundry list of what products you sell, how you make them, and on and on. You've got 15 seconds to give the crux of what you do. Make it count. A good elevator speech stresses the benefits of what you do, not the features. Once you realize your long didn't work, you might think you want to summarize what you offer. Mistake. A dating service might say they service the needs of over 20,000 men and women who desire a meaningful, lasting relationship. How does that make you feel? If you were in the market for a dating service, would you call them? Probably not. Sounded pretty generic. A much better elevator speech would probably be - "We make magic happen." Bam!

Make it a goal to develop a one or two sentence statement of what it is you do. Do you remember a comment a previous customer made? What kind of feedback have you gotten? What was it that you did for her/him? This can be a pretty tough assignment. But, it will be very rewarding. Practice it. Say it. See how it feels. Would you want to know more? And by the way, the elevator speech is not set in stone. Revisit it frequently. Keep it fresh! So - what is it that you do?

Marvelous Monday - Textures and color

Here's the beginning of my Marvelous Monday series.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Inspiration, color, texture - Day 7 of Gaudi

For the last day of Gaudi, I'm using my favorite work of his - Casa Batllo. Here are some exterior shots. I had blogged a little about it on Day 1.

Between 1904 and 1907, Gaudi worked for an industrialist Josep Batllo Casanovas reforming a house built in 1877 in Barcelona. The style of the house expresses a fully-fledged modernist language.

I love the organic, skeletal quality of this building. His windows are irregular and he has flowing sculpted stonework. He clearly was a man ahead of his time. Gaudi continues his beautiful work in mosaics which you'll see in these rooftop photos. The roof was likened to the back of a dragon with the "helmut" shapes representing the spine.

And on the other side are the scales of the dragon:

The next five shots are of the staircases in the building. The first is the main entrance. This has possible ties to the dragon's back on the roof. The second photo is the staircase in the dragon's belly. Notice the stained glass windows in the top right-hand corner and how they resemble the stained glass on the front exterior of the building. The third photo is a detail taken of the top of the hand rail. On the 4th and 5th picture notice how Gaudi's organic staircases seem to rise up into the ceiling and disappear. Gently flowing.

One last shot . . . ok, two last shots of a chandelier in the house. Notice the design and craftmanship of the metal, the beautiful warm tone of the light, and the surprising moving form in the ceiling. And here's more of a closeup where you get to see the pattern on the ceiling.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed the mini series on Gaudi. Hope you're inspired - who knows, maybe we'll see a snail shape or an unusual organic form, or even mosaics in our work to come.

Next week - 7 days of James Joyce (only kidding!)

Handmade Nation: Updated Clip- sept 2007

Handmade Nation, also known as The Indie Craft Documentary recently released this video. They've been travelling around the country, interviewing crafters as to their business and their beliefs about crafts and the DIY culture. Interesting - take a look!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspiration, color, texture - Day 6 of Gaudi

Construction began on La Sagrada Familia (temple of the holy family) in 1882. This was Gaudi's vision of Europe's biggest cathedral. Originally, architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was entrusted with the work but was replaced by Gaudi in 1883. This would be the last work of Gaudi. He was accidentally killed by a tram in 1926. To this day, work is being done on it following the plans that Gaudi had left behind. In the first picture, you can see the cranes that are there due to the construction. Also, it gives you a perspective as to the height of the building. And here's a nice close up of the cathedral. And notice how the globes at the top of this picture below, almost seem like they could fall off.
Inside the cathedral Gaudi drew from his inspiration from nature. This demonstrates his allusion to trees in his vaulting. And these steps are a dizzy spiral on the inside of the towers. It looks like a gigantic stone snail.

National Polymer Clay Guild Announcement

Just received notice on the NPCG event of the year - Synergy: Moving Forward, Looking Back. Registration opens October 1st for the February 2008 conference with 2 bonuses to those who sign up during the month of October. There are limited seats available for the seminars, but if you register early, you are guaranteed a spot in every seminar you sign up for. Also, you'll be able to register for 8 seminars instead of 6. Sounds good to me! Spread the word - on October 1, head over to the NPCG. See you there!

Inspiration, color, texture - Day 5 of Gaudi

Located in the village of Comillas and built between 1883 and 1885, the holiday villa, "the treat", was overseen completely by the architect Cristobal Cascante Colom who followed the instructions that were sent by Gaudi. There are similarities of the Casa Vicens but with more dramatic force. It kind of looks like a gingerbread house with all the texture and detail.

Here's a closer look at one of the towers. The exterior of the building is characterised by the use of bricks decorated with rows of glazed ceramic tiles (sunflowers). The tiles are laid in a checkerboard fashion. Can you imagine the math involved with this structure??? Here is a link to a picture where you can see the tower (right hand corner) a little closer.
And here is another angle of the structure.
Do you pay that much attention to the detail in your work? Do you work in the flat? Do you add shape and texture? Are you playful? Are you a trend setter?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Inspiration, texture, color - Day 4 of Gaudi

Casa Vicens was probably the first important work that was undertaken by Gaudi. It was built between 1883 and 1888 at the request of the ceramic tile manufacturer Manual Vicens Montaner. The style used by Barcelona architects of this time was recreated and surpassed in this building which Gaudi uses the combination of tiles and bricks. This style is expressed with extraordinary strength. The building is covered in geometrically-shaped ceramics. Gaudi designed the tiling following the model of the African marigolds which grew on the site.

Above are close ups where you can see the tile, color and texture that was used and created.

The cast iron railing and gate were made from clay models of the palm leaves that were on the site.

Gaudi may or may not be for you, but you have to admire the detail that he carried through from top to bottom, inside and out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Inspiration, texture, color - Day 3 of Gaudi

The widow Roser Segimon, who was an heir to the vast fortune of her late husband in the American colonies, was remarried to Pere Mila, an important businessman in Barcelona. They hired Gaudi to build a building in Passeig de Gracia. The construction took place from 1906 until 1912. Displayed in a museum are items that inspired Gaudi when he was constructing the building. The tortoise shell texture is seen in a few stained glass pieces, the honeycomb (lower left) inspired some of the tile work on the floor within, and the seed pods inspired the gate. Pods are very popular in jewelry designs, but buildings . . . who knew? The building does not have any straight lines. Most people consider it magnificent and overwhelming - some say it is like waves of lava or a sand dune when seen from above.

On the rooftop, there are some beautiful sculptures (chimneys and ventilations ducts) that are transformed into anthromorphic shapes. It has a rather dreamlike landscape. Next to it is a closeup of the exterior texture. On the far right is a picture inside the attic. It looks like an inverted keel of a boat, whose overhead arches in brick support the weight of the terrace roof.

Here are two pictures of the center of La Pedrera. A continuing theme through Gaudi's structures are his use of color and texture. This moscaic is a perfect example:
Inside, the main stairway is quite a spectacle. With Gaudi's use of color, texture and movement, he creates a magnificent entrance lobby.

Inspiration, texture, color - Day 2 of Gaudi

On a piece of land on the Muntanya Pelada, Euseti Guell wanted to build an urbanisation inspired by the concept of the garden city. It was here that he wanted to escape to nature and health away from the industrious city. Gaudi worked on this park construction from 1900 to 1914. The first picture is detail of one of the roofs. Inside the park a colonnade was built that was to serve as a marketplace.
This is a photo of the detail mosaic on the ceiling of the colonnade. It shows colorist interpretations of suns and medusas. On top of the colonnade are these amazing park benches. The benches seem to move in a snakelike form.
And here is the detail of one of the benches:
In front of the colonnade is the beautiful stone/mosaic staircase. And in the center of the staircase is this mosaic salamader fountain.Notice how these columns look like tree trunks and how they are built right into the landscape. Guell is truly one of the most beautiful parks in the world.