Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen

When I came upon Jennefer Falck Linssen's paper sculptures, I felt that cool sense of wonder as I marvelled at her work.  She takes the Japanese paper and textile tradition of katagami (stencil) and explores the sculptural possibility of the handcarved stencil in and of itself.  Her combination of katagami, basketry and metalsmithing techniques creates a contempory take on art from ancient traditions.  Take a moment from your day and travel through time and space.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Hands Down Marvelous Monday

Guido Daniele is an artist who lives in Milan.  After graduating from the Brera School of Arts in 1972,  he started working as hyper-realistic illustrator, in co-operation with major editing and advertising companies, using and testing different painting techniques. In 1990 he added a new artistic experience to his previous ones: using the "body painting" technique he creates and paints models bodies for different situations such as advertising pictures and commercials, fashion events and exhibitions.  To see some of his AT&T ads, click here.
Here's a link to his new site.  And here's a link to his older site. Hope you enjoy - have a marvelous Monday!  And thanks to Brenda Urquardt for sending me these photos!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Credit Card Machines - A Necessary Evil

As I mentioned last week, I said there were a few lessons learned from the Bead & Button show.  My biggest problem was my new credit card machine.  Previously to this show I had been accepting M/C and Visa using my knuckle buster.  It's a slower process (more information to get from the customer) and it was a concern, especially since I thought I'd be doing the show alone.   I had called my Merchant Service people and they recommended the Omni VX 510 DC.  This particular machine could process payments through a phone line or an internet connection.   And the great thing, or so I thought, you can swipe the card, store it, and upload it when possible.  Perfect for doing shows . . . right?  I purchased the machine through eBay, got all the information downloaded through my payment processing group, and thought I was good to go.  The last thing they mentioned to me was "all uploads would be automatic at 5:00 a.m.".  I told them I needed to do the store/forward feature as I would be at a show and didn't have access to a phone line nor did I really want the machine going off at 5:00 a.m. in my hotel room. With store forward, you still swipe the card, it appears to the customer as if it's going through, but all that's happening is their information is getting stored in your machine.  First thing I learned was that when you're in store/forward mode, you run the risk of losing all data.  I then called my Merchant Services people who suggested this machine specifically for that and they said this wasn't a real problem.  All I needed to do was to run a Detailed Report and all the credit card info (number, exp. date) would be printed out.  Here's where my problem arose.  The first night of the show, I went back to the hotel, coded the credit card machine with the hotel pbx and thought it should run smoothly.  When I started the upload, I got a communication error.  I immediately called my credit card processing company.  I knew I'd be ok if I could just print a detailed report.  It was then that I was told you can't printed a detailed report when in store/forward mode.  It can only be printed when you settle the batch. What????  Second lesson - don't always believe what you're being told is true.  Do the research.  After following a few steps I was given by the technical support person, the machine now said "empty batch".  That, I knew, was not good.  We went back and forth a bit . . . and I asked to speak with someone else trying to stay calm.  Fortunately for me, this person took me through the steps to print out a Batch Authorization Report.  All the credit card numbers were there. If I hadn't printed out this report at this time, all information would have been lost. But I really wouldn't know until I got home if everything remained stored in the machine as I was unable to upload any charges from the hotel.  I would still be in store/forward the rest of the show. It was explained to me that because I was in a hotel and it was a digital line, the signal was very weak. These are the kinds of things no one ever tells you.  Unless I could access an analog line, I would have to wait 5 or so days until I got home to see if any of the charges would upload.  So, for the rest of the show, I took the precautions that I could and hoped for the best.  When I arrived home, all the charges uploaded, except for that first night . . . that empty batch problem was the cause.  I managed to manually put those charges through (taking information from that Batch Authorization Report) and it all worked out . . . but it could have been a disaster.  Lesson three - always ask the question "are there risks involved and if so, what are they"?

I wished I had the time to go around the show and ask others what they were doing for credit card processing.  My next door neighbor had a wireless processor because she has a retail store as well and could justify the cost.  But I did learn a few things in talking to people after this experience.  For instance, did you know that if you have an IPhone, you can use an app called "Square Up"?  I was told that it really won't be in full speed until August, but I googled it, and you can read about it hereNo contracts, no fees, or hidden costs.  Set up fee - free, monthly fee - free, monthly minimum - none.  You can read about that here.  Sound too good to be true?  You get (for free) a card reader that you plug into any device with an audio input jack.  As of today, it works on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Nexus One and Droid.  I have an iPod Touch and will definitely be looking into this.  Other devices will be added in the future.  It is PCI Level 1 and PA-DSS compliant.

Or, as my husband suggested, you can always buy a cheap laptop, get a card reader, and accept cards that way.  The only thing is you have to make sure your credit card processing people support this. 

So - lessons were learned, and fortunately for me, it all worked out for which I'm very grateful for.  As you can see, there are other options to look at.  The technology is changing so fast that I guess it didn't surprise me that there would be an app for it.  But again, ask many questions . . . the most important being "what are the risks involved?"  If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave comments!
Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marvelous Monday

My all time favorite enameling books is one written by Linda Darty - "The Art of Enameling." Perhaps you've seen it, or even own it as well. 

It's a great beginner book, filled with fundamentals on the various enameling techniques.  It's been laying on a coffee table in my family room for probably years now as a close source of inspiration.  Linda has exhibited extensively in the US and abroad.  She is the head of the metals program and professor of enameling at the School of Art and Design, East Carolina University, in Greenville, North Carolina.  Here's a few of her beautiful pieces for inspiration.  Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bead & Button 2010

I know a number of you have been waiting patiently to hear about the"big" show.  I arrived in Milwaukee and pretty much went right over to the Midwest Center to start unpacking.  I did take a moment to make a quick run through the Bead Dreams exhibit and was pleasantly surprised at winning 3rd place.  I never realized the competition was judged before the show began!  Lots of amazing work in those cases!


Because I flew to Milwaukee, I had to ship my items.  Picture me in the little space inside the booth - with 2 large boxes.  I literally felt boxed in (sorry, couldn't resist). My first surprise was that I didn't have room on the table for my display trays and the shelf behind them.  The table was too narrow so I had to improvise. Normally, the busts on the left hand side would be on that shelf.  But I resolved it by making a quick trip to the local Officemax store. It was then all set and ready for the shopping preview.  

First of all I want to say thanks to everyone for stopping by - friends, new customers, old customers, teachers and facebook buddies.   It was great meeting my BAO mates Carol Dean, Lisa Peterson and Mak and being able to see their beautiful work in person.  Also, thanks to the polymer community that was so generous in giving their time, offering support (much needed relief) and their forever smiling faces!  Beth, Alaina and Ponsawan - your kindness was much appreciated.  Oh yeah, and thanks so much to Julie Picarello for lending her dremel in a pinch!  And my booth mate extraordinaire - Debbie Kollatz - thanks for being so flexible with your time!

I feel like the show was one huge blur.  So much energy went into the preparation and the show was over in a flash.  Although, there was that one very long day!  Deciding to do the Bead and Button show I knew was a bit out of my comfort zone.  So many firsts - first time flying to a show, first time shipping to a show, and many decisions to be made.  The expenses were higher than I had figured - hotel, flight, shipping, food, booth fee, furniture, lighting, shuttles, taxi, etc . Hindsight, as you know, is 20/20 and some mistakes were made.  But it was a HUGE learning experience.  (Next week I plan on blogging about the biggest problem - hopefully it'll be resolved by then!) But it was a show I always knew I would not turn down if the opportunity presented itself.  I also knew that I couldn't necessarily judge the success of the show based on sales alone.  That being said, thankfully my costs were covered.  I was grateful for that.  And wholesale contacts have been made, I was approached to do a trunk show and I also received an unusual website proposal.   We'll see how it all pans out . . . down the road. So in that regards, it's hard to measure the end result - time will tell. 

And as you know, the show is known for all the wonderful classes they hold.  And from what I saw, they were amazing.  Classrooms everywhere - I even saw full bench set-ups in a "show only" metals studio.  There were people working on projects everywhere.  At night, I'd see groups of them beading on the 2nd floor of the Hyatt.  They were even there Sunday night (after the show ended)!  Ott lights and optivisors were plentiful.  One woman spoke of a class she took using size 15 beads as she continued beading into the night.  It was such a tease knowing that all these great classes were going on and I couldn't participate.  I had to live vicariously through my roommate, Linda Roberts, who took 4 classes.  Her last class was a metals class with Rio Grande.  She came back to the room wearing two new bracelets and a pair of earrings. She was so excited - a sure sign of a great class.

I hadn't been able to blog about the show as I've been busy preparing for our yearly Jimmy Buffet weekend and getting a few orders out the door.  Menus to plan, house to straighten out, last minute shopping and a few outdoor plantings left to make. But it's probably my favorite weekend of the year.  Good friends, good food, and lots of things to laugh about.  It is one happy weekend!  I can hear the music calling . . .  have a great weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bead & Button - Final Days

As my last days seem to be upon me, I can't help but wish I had more than 2 months to prepare for this show. I had recently added some new end clasps (in colors) for bead crochet to my other website and thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce them at Bead & Button.  And if I displayed those, then I had to display the ez bead changers, magnetic clasps and the dvd.  So, I've been busy in the metals studio as well producing bead  changers and everything else as well.  And, oh yeah, I'm in the process (still) of making another crocheted necklace that has a sterling bezel inlaid with polymer and seed beads.  I'll try to post if I have enough time.

As far as my beads go, I've added cabochons to the mix.  I haven't listed many in my Etsy shop for no reason other than lack of time.  Here's a couple of my favorites.  Some are a little larger than I've done before and I'm really enjoying their organic shapes.  

I made a banner for my booth and also had some of my beads professionally photographed by Robert Diamante.  Originally I thought I would have 3 photos of beads pictured along the bottom of the banner, but then I changed my mind and decided to make poster sized photos for the booth.   Now I wish I had gone with my original thought - less to hang and it's all in one!

I return home on Monday with only a few days to prepare for our yearly Buffet weekend.  The usual crew will descend upon us and good times will be had.  A much needed trip to Margaritaville!