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Feb. 2nd, 2010

Out of the Fire Necklace


Glimpse of the Studio

You all remember this "lovely" room, right?

Well, I am happy to say that it has gone through a renaissance. A rebirth. A... oh my goodness... cleaning.

Things have their place. There's room to work. And the most amazing piece of all, I actually enjoy being in there now. I look forward to it every evening.

So, at long last, I am happy to share my craft studio with the world.

The view from the door. Once I cleared everything out, I realized there was room for another table in there when I needed one. In this picture, it's all set up to work on game piece pendants. At home right now, it has my light tent on it. And when I don't need more space, that table can be put away. I like the new flexibility and, well, room.

A closeup of my desk. The white shelves used to be on top of some of the built in shelves as dividers, but there was a slight slope to them that meant every once in a while things would launch themselves across the room at me. On my work space, they are a great way to have my most needed supplies right at hand. The shelves on the right hold my frequently needed supplies. The shelves on the left hold packaging and packing supplies. On the top center, there's my earring rack full of dice earrings in progress, and my cardboard box for items completed, packaged, and awaiting photographing. At some point, I'll make that box pretty - staring at the cardboard is definitely not my favorite thing.

The desk as a whole is actually pretty simple. It is two white handware store cabinets with a pine table top across them. So it has additional storage underneath, and should I ever need to the top will be easy to replace.

My note and such wall - 6 magnetic tiles and one magnetic chalkboard tile. Needs more magnets, or it would already have a bunch more silly and pretty things attached to it. The bin organizer underneath holds jewely findings, game piece, and such. Someday I'd like to replace that with a neat little vintage set of drawers.

My "bead store." They're closet organization tie hooks, screwed into the wall and strung with various bead strands awaiting use. Just past them are my hanging clip boards. These hold custom orders awaiting payment and items awaiting completion... and silly sketches I like to keep.

When we bought a flat screen TV, the old entertainment unit moved in here. It now holds my inventory and the various household tools.

Finally, part of why this room makes an awesome craft room. Behind this door - nicknamed "the midget door" by some friends when we first moved in - is a long skinny storage space among the ductwork. Behind here are all of my show displays, dolleys, folding tables, and everything else I need for conventions and craft shows.

The shelves above hold my yarn and my fabric - my hobby craft stuff. Like many crafters, I am a packrat. On the short bookshelf are my catalogs and reference books.

So, there you have it. Don't you wish you were here?

Feb. 1st, 2010

Life story


On Experiments in Productivity

Saturday. First day of the weekend, full of possibility. A time to sleep in, enjoy a little laziness... and eventually run some errands, see some friends, do all those things you can't do on weekdays. At least, whenever you get around to it.

You see, like many I am a procrastinator. And having the time - like I do on a weekend - often means I'll put off getting things done. And this past Saturday, with snow coming down and no plans but a evening holiday party (that we didn't end up going to on account of said snow) I had plenty of time.

For once, I decided to actually use it.

No game or party until the evening. A full day, a clean craft room. It's amazing how having my craft room clean has made me want to be more productive. I enjoy spending time down there now. And the truth is, as many who know me already know, I wish I could be down there as my full time job. I did it once before. A couple of years after I graduated from college, my art business seemed to be doing pretty well, so I decided to give it a full time shot. Unfortunatly, it didn't turn out so well. My new product line experiment was a flop, and after a year I had to go back to working for someone else to pay the rent.

I miss it. I miss the freedom of it, the challenge, the ability to do what I really love. Some day, I would really like to return to working for myself full time. And this time, I tell myself repeatedly, I will do it smarter.

This Saturday was one of those "do it smarter" steps. As a procrastinator, I'm not exactly known for the best self motivated focus all the time. So that was test #1 - could I truly work a full 9-5 shift at home, really being productive and not getting distracted by all the other "ooh, shiny" things to do in the house?

Also on the goal of full self-employment, there's the money question. I had already figured out how much I would have to sell on average in a day in order to make the same money I am now. Obviously I'm not at that sales point yet, but you can't sell what you don't have. Test #2 -Could I make that dollar amount worth of product in one focused work day?

And finally, test #3 - The balance between the creative and the business parts of a craft business.

My day didn't quite start as early as planned, but by 9:45 I was fed and in the craft room. Since redoing its setup, I've found a wonderful rotation of work. Create/Price&Package/Paperwork in small bursts. It keeps me going with small accomplishments. Because one of the projects I wanted to complete on Saturday was resin coating a new batch of pendants, and that takes time and can't be stopped in the middle. So, that needed a deadline worked into the schedule.

So, how did the test go?

#1 - Mostly accomplished. I started a little late, and was slightly distractable, but probably had as productive a day as any in an office with long, silly coworker discussions...

#2 - Definitely accomplished. I had a large number of dice drilled, completed a couple of custom orders, and got the resin coat on the new pendants. Plus, I managed to price, package, and lable the items I made last weekend. I now have a large stack of items that need to be photographed. Hopefully I'll get to taking pictures this evening. Now that the comic book pendants are done, I have a free table again that I can set up my camera equipment on.

#3 - Accomplished. I mixed in creating items with managing my financial records. This was one of many things I had slacked off on in the last year. I made a huge dent in them, enough that I should catch up soon. And once I catch up, it will be much easier to maintain. In the future, this mix of business with pleasure will also include marketing and posting new items online. Of course, I need to finish taking pictures for that.

All in all? It feels wonderful to be productive!

Buy Handmade

Jan. 20th, 2010

Life story


So, apparantly I'm not so good at the "one a day" thing...

Alas, one a day in the structure I was looking at seems to be a failed experiment. But that in no way means that I plan to give up on this journal. On the contrary, it just means that going forward I'll have to be a little more freeform with it. However, I do hope to post a couple of times a week, and hopefully with subjects that interest more than just me. Hopefully.

Already, this year is looking like it's going to be a busy one, both creatively and personally. Believe me, that's a good thing. I learned way back in high school, when spring musical time would roll around, that I'm actually much better at staying on task when things are busy. The more time I have, the more time I have to procrastinate in.

So, looking forward....

I am already in the prep stages to do three times as many shows this year as I did last year. Part of that is that I was a bit of a slacker last year, but I'm not going to let that stop me. Every show might not pan out, as some require applications and jurying of various kinds, but it feels good to be planning.

And speaking of planning, I am happy to say that I am officially engaged. As I am a crafty person, there will be some handmade touches to the wedding. My sweet as can be fiance has already warned me not to go crazy with projects, and thus drive myself crazy - you know, no making favors by myself for the entire wedding. But expect to see some Crafty Geek wedding projects coming up over the next year.

Short term preview, I have finally started making my studio a workable space again. Remember those horribly messy studio photos in the last couple of posts? Well, consider them the "before" shots. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be doing a deep clean and reorganize. Already it's seen a marked improvement. So detailed "after" shots should be along soon!

And in the shortest term... I am currently typing this post from one of the many local Starbucks. Next door is a very nice Best Buy, and one of my errand stops for the evening. I desperately need a new printer capable of producing smudge-resistant prints, so that I can start doing game piece jewelry featuring some of my own full color art. So watch out for some more new pieces coming soon!

Jan. 5th, 2010

Stargate One of Those Days


Today in the Studio - Taking a Break

Somedays, even the creative energie need recharging. So just a very short post today.

New Items completed: 0
New items posted on Etsy: 1

Etsy items renewed: 5 (1 with new and improved photos)
Etsy items sold: 0
Advertising: None paid. Promoted on Facebook/Twitter, and was featured in Fallen Peach's Word themed Etsy Tuesday!

Jan. 4th, 2010

Out of the Fire Necklace


Today in the Studio #4 - Something New

And here is the true test of any New Year's plans.... The return to work.

But, here I am. I should be asleep already (darn early mornings), but I promised I was going to get this done every day. And even though it was a work day, I did manage to come home and be creatively productive as well. It always feels good to get something creative accomplished following a long day in the office. Especially after a crazy, after holiday catch up day like this one was!

Just a quick overview will have to do for now...

The minis I was painting yesterday have now been completed, and I'm thrilled. From left to right, Lilisandra Eisfeld (Frost Elf Knight), Mel's hawk companion (whose name I have forgotten), Ariatha Farelm (part dryad druid, here in her court clothes), and Rend (Ari's wolfhound animal companion).
I actually took step by step pictures as I painted Ari, so I'll do a step by step minis painting post soon. It'll be similar to my step-by-step viking knit - not really a full tutorial, but just something for a little more understanding of how it's done.

I also got started on my new purse/tote bag project. You can see the first one first step drying on my craft table.

New Items completed: 0
New items posted on Etsy: 1

Etsy items renewed: 6 (1 with new and improved photos)
Etsy items sold: 1 - D20 pendant
Advertising: None paid. Promoted on Facebook/Twitter, made an Etsy Treasury

Jan. 3rd, 2010

Artgrind Ari


Today in the Studio #3 - Ah, creativity!

I must say, today has been a productive day!

- Bought supplies for my new tote bag idea
- Painted gaming miniatures

And, after I finish dinner, we'll be recording for the podcast. So yesterday's mission accomplished!

Meet Lilisandra Eisfeld, Rime Elf and Lady Knight. For our D&D, heroes of the past game. Not my favorite of my minis I've painted, but I'm still pleased. I also got starts on Rend, Mel's hawk, and elegant Ariatha Farelm. Hopefully I'll get those ones completed tomorrow night.

Studio! Look, things have moved and there's a little more room.

Mostly cleared work space! You can see my latest sales waiting to be mailed on the left, several dice waiting to be drilled on the right, and my bin of packaging supplies on top of the little bins. Ready to make more stuff!

New Items made: 0
New items posted on Etsy: 1

Etsy items renewed: 2
Etsy items sold: 0
Advertising: None paid. Promoted on Facebook/Twitter

Jan. 2nd, 2010

Life story


Today in the Studio #2 - The plane, boss! The plane!

Spending almost all day in airports means very little geeky or crafty got done today. I am seriously going through withdrawal here! But fortunatly, we're home now, which means tomorrow the usual routine can begin again.

So what am I hoping for tomorrow? Time to post more new items on Etsy, a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to see if I can find supplies for my latest idea, recording the next episode of Liquid Weird with Mark, and maybe even some miniature painting.

And just maybe, somewhere in there I'll start reorganizing my craft room...

This is the craziness that happens during the holiday season. I keep moving things around to use them, then quickly shoving them away when I need to clean the house for company, and by the end of December this is what my craft room looks like.

And here's my work table. No space to actually work at the moment.

Ah, well. There's always tomorrow!

New Items made: 0
New items posted on Etsy: 1

Etsy items renewed: 2
Etsy items sold: 0
Advertising: None paid. Promoted on Facebook/Twitter

Jan. 1st, 2010

Out of the Fire Necklace


Today in the Studio #1 - New Year, New Beginings

Happy New Year everyone! As 2010 begins, I have decided to begin a new blogging project. It is called "Today in the Studio," and my intention is for it to be a daily routine at the end of every day. In it, I plan to talk about what creative things I have acomplished each day and include a photographic insight into my crafting studio. With any luck, by the end of the year I'll be able to track how far I've come, what worked and what didn't, and more.

Amusingly, the first "Today in the Studio" post actually comes from the road. I am on vacation in Texas at the moment, arriving home tomorrow. This means no photo of the work space, but it also means I am suffering from crafting withdrawal since I didn't bring any projects with me. Gah!

So, what did I accomplish today? I've kept up with my Etsy store, keeping it open during vacation. In an auspicious begining to the new year, I had my first ever item make it to the front page of Etsy at 3:00 am this morning. And I received verification that there is space for me in the Dealer's room at Farpoint in February, getting my conventions off to a good start. I should be all energized and creatively ready to go when I get back home!

New Items made: 0
New items posted on Etsy: 2

Etsy items renewed: 3
Etsy items sold: 2
Advertising: None paid. Promoted on Facebook/Twitter

Dec. 12th, 2009

Out of the Fire Necklace


What is Viking Knit?

I am often asked, "What is viking knit?" So, I've decided to share my technique in photos, a lovely viking knit bracelet from beginning to end.

Lovely handmade chains have been found in Viking treasure troves in Scandinavia. Made from melted down coins turned into fine wire, these chains were made using a loop in loop technique. Talk about wearing your wealth!

These same techniques can be used today, though we don't tend to use coin silver anymore. Copper is a great material to learn with. I usually use sterling silver, in 26 gauge or smaller.

To begin, use some cheap craft wire. For this bracelet, I'm going to be making a four loop chain, meaning that I'm beginning with four loops to work from. The craft wire is looped around my fingers four times.

Wrap the four loops together into a little bundle and then cut off the excess craft wire.

Open up the four loops like a flower.

I like to use knitting needles as my core, but you can use any regularly shaped mandrel. I've even seen people use pencils or an allen wrench. Take your flower bundle, and put it over the end of your mandrel. Then, take a length of wire that you'll be making your chain from. Make a loop, joining together two of the petals. The short end of your wire should be under the longer end.

Take the long end of the wire, and move to your next petal to the left. Entering from the left side, pass it under the sides of the two petal loops.

Cross the long end of the wire over the top, making another loop. Continue around for the third and fourth petals.

When you get back to your first complete loop - the one after joining the chain wire to your petal starter - continue your loops around where the previous row's loops cross. You're now past the hardest part - getting started! Continue around, one loop at a time, until you reach near the end of your piece of wire.

The technique shown here is what is called single knit. If you continue this way, you'll end up with a pretty, airy chain. I prefer a denser chain and thus do what is called double knit. Instead of looping through the row immediately previous, I loop through the row two previous. You can also go up to three previous for an even denser chain and a triple knit.

When you reach the end of your piece of wire, tuck the short end under when completing the loop.

Pull the loop tight, and cut the excess wire close to the loop.

To join on the next piece of wire, make a small hook out of the end. Pass the point of the hook through the same space as the last loop you made, from right to left.

Cross the short end under the long to make a loop. Then continue around like you did the first piece of the wire.

Keep going, adding additional pieces as needed to reach the length you want. Note that the final length of your chain will be longer that its length on your mandrel. It'll take a little practice to know the exact length you'll want in the unfinished state to get the bracelet or necklace length you want at the end.

When you reach the length you want, remover the chain from your mandrel. You'll now have a stiff, hollow metal tube. Tuck any stray wire ends into the core.

You now need a draw plate. Mine is a small piece of wood trim with holes of various sizes drilled through. Pass your starter end through the largest loop and use pliers to gently pull the chain through. Continue through progressively smaller holes.

The chain once it has been pulled through will be flexible and even.

Cut the starter wire off and clean up your ends. You should end up with just one wire end.

At the other end of your chain, you probably have a little tail of wire. Pull it through a bead cap or cone bead, tucking the end of you chain inside.

Pick your clasp of choice and make a wrapped loop to join the end of your wire to the clasp.

It might turn our at this point that you realize your chain is too long. Cut off any extra length and clean up you end. Keep your extra woven chain - space pieces can make neat earring and other jewelry components.

This end of your chain has no spare wire to pull through a bead cap. Instead, take another piece of wire and make a loop and loop it through several of the chain loop ends.

Tuck it through another bead cap, make another wrapped loop around the other end of your clasp, and voila! Try on your new, sparkling chain creation.

Go to my Etsy store for more examples of Viking Knit!
Buy Handmade

Dec. 4th, 2009

Out of the Fire Necklace


Updates! It's always nice when someone else likes you.

Hello all! I know it's been a while since I posted, but hopefully in the future I'll be more consistent with news, updates, and more.

First, I have a couple of happy little notes.

One, my dice earrings were featured as a great "Geeky Etsy Gift Under $20" in this great blog - check it out! http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2009/11/12/five-geeky-etsy-gifts-for-under-20/

I've also been featured in this lovely treasury:

Meanwhile, I'm having fun expanding on my game theme with other game piece jewelry. So here's something else that's fun -

So head over to Etsy for all the latest!

Buy Handmade

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