Simple Pleasures

Tourmaline Rock on a Rope

Yesterday was a great day.

Hui.2 decided to take an early nap and Hui.1 woke up late.  So we started our day around 10:30am, had breakfast, then ventured into the studio where we watched Teddy Ruxpin, cuddled, and I actually got to sit at my workbench.  Hui.2 was still fast asleep (I kept checking on him because I was paranoid) and after flipping through my stone book, I decided I needed to make myself a Rock on a Rope with a ruby for some extra vitality.  I wanted to add some morganite to it for some Divine Love, but how could I make them work together?  My favorite design didn’t fit my needs at the moment.  I wanted a single, solitary stone, but I also wanted to reap the rewards of both stones.  Hmm.

Morganite and Aquamarine

It’s still a Rock on a Rope, even though I added a single morganite bead to the end of the extender chain!  Ding ding ding!  And of course, I felt the need to make it in rose gold.  Perfect!  I haven’t made anything for myself lately, so this was a nice treat.  I also added a solitary, faceted rose quartz to hang out with the morganite.  Divine Love, romantic love, and vitality is a powerful concoction.  This strand of rubies is very special and I’ve only taken 2 beads so far, with very specific intentions.  The first one I made as a tester bracelet with some Chinese Knots and chain.  Again, a very simple design with the knots framing the stone (like most things, I need to make more and take photos).  I wore it for a day before feeling the urge to give it to my sister.  My intuition was saying the ruby did its job, and it was time to pass it on to her.

As soon as Hui.1 went down for a nap, Hui.2 woke up from his 3-4 hour nap.  So we nursed in the studio, nicely curled up in my La-Z-Boy recliner (best investment I ever made for this new baby), streaming more Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (in my defense, I’m waiting for last season’s Grey’s Anatomy and Once Upon a Time to be on Netflix so I can catch up).  It was perfect to have some much needed quality time with both boys individually, as well as having some time to truly spend in the studio.  It’s simple pleasures like these that wards off postpartum depression and gives me hope that life with two kids two years apart won’t always be so chaotic.

My new Rock on a Rope

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Opportunities, Traffic, and Tranquility

Playing in the studio

Hui.2 will be two months old next week. Where has these past two months gone? Mostly trying to get as much sleep as possible and squeezing in some creative time during those rare moments I can catch a break. But he’s getting used to the concept of not needing to be held all day long, which is really nice. Hui.1 still pokes at him in awe and occasionally too hard. But with two boys so close in age, they’ll be best friends and mortal enemies. I expect yelling, “don’t poke your brother” at both of them several times a day once Hui.2 is more active.  Hui.1 is already starting to realize Hui.2 fights back and he doesn’t like it.  I had both of them on my lap and Hui.1 slid off the rocker because Hui.2’s feet were touching him.  Hilarious.

The Laguna gallery wants more pieces and they want to give me a shelf in addition to being in their premier front display case. They’ve sold my best two chainmaille necklaces already, in addition to several earring and necklace sets. This is exciting and terrifying because it means I need to produce more inventory, but it also means more exposure and potentially more sales. At least it’s a great spot for the bigger, more intricate pieces. I also have to get my Perfect Rings polished and ready to go as well. The gallery wife told her husband it’s okay if I come in with two pounds of jewelry for them to sell. Like I said, exciting and terrifying.

Tranquility and Traffic

Despite the summer traffic trying to get into town, spending time in Laguna is a nice reprieve from my daily life of diapers and tantrums. I went down there for an artist demo this past Saturday for my first adventure away from the kids. There’s something magical to be said about the crisp salty air and relaxed atmosphere of the beach and all its tourists. I hope to spend more time there, grabbing a bite to eat at the local cafe before my allotted demo time. Sitting around making jewelry and smiling at potential customers who wander in is a great way to spend an afternoon. With all the distractions I have at home, having such a focused and set time to make jewelry definitely falls under the self-care category. Of course, it won’t be so bad at home once Hui.2 gets older, but for now, it’s a nice change in scenery. For a closer reprieve, I can take the family over to the Fullerton Arboretum for an afternoon adventure. There’s no traffic, free parking and admission, and full of wonderfully lush greenery, bubbling brooks and waterfalls. Jesse loves visiting there, Hui.1 loves frolicking amongst the plants and walking paths, and there are plenty of tranquil places for me to park and make jewelry. Maybe we’ll do that when Jesse.1 visits for Labor Day weekend.

Hui.1 found a stick by the stream

Doing consignment seems to be my best bet until I can leave for a whole day without worrying about Hui.2. Then there’s the notion of finding a one-day show to vend at, which there are plenty of, but it’s more a notion of finding the perfect fit. Pagan Pride Day is always a good bet considering my love of stones and both the staff and attendees remember me from previous years. The biggest thing I need to remember when I go back is to bring more sets of jewelry. I admit I’ve gotten better about making mix-and-match sets, so that’s a plus. The Chinese Knot Collection would be a big hit there with the price point and all the gorgeous stones.

All and all, the babies are happy and thriving and I am doing better than surviving. Which is better than most parents can say at this age. My main focus for now is beefing up my inventory to re-stock the shops (XCVI Fashion Island also needs a re-stock), as well as finishing two pieces for the grand collection photo of a new collection that has yet to be released. It’s pretty epic and full of chainmaille. Sometimes I feel as though I have too many mediums to work with (stones, Swarovski Crystal, and artisan glass beads), but it’s just another creative challenge to make it all work. Just like the babies, it’s all worthwhile in the end.

37 Weeks and Counting

Beautiful day at Laguna Beach for a jewelry drop off at Orange County Creatives

I’m officially at 37 weeks.

Hui.1 came just as I hit 37 weeks, but before I started going to the weekly OB appointments.  I’m doing my best to take it easy and hopefully let this baby stay awhile longer.  Sunday was the beginning of my maternity leave and I’ve been keeping busy by digging back to my roots with some basic chainmaille and coming up with some new designs for the summer and fall/winter collections.  It’s true that artists and fashion designers have to keep up with their seasonal collections at least 6 months in advance, if not more.  As crazy as it sounds, it really isn’t.  There needs to be time for photos to be taken and edited before anything else actually happens.  I’m still struggling with the whole concept, but only because I know this baby is going to take up most of my summer before I can truly get back into the swing of things (resting and baby come first).  But, I have my stores fully stocked and there’s always the US Postal Service if they need more jewelry.  Photos are another story, but I will have the summer collection posted and listed on Etsy sometime in July.  If you can’t wait, go check out these new Grace Bead bracelets at XCVI Mission Viejo, as well as some awesome lariats (see photo below).  Orange County Creatives has some adorable summer earrings and I’ll be sending more in as my earring pile gets bigger (follow them on Facebook for photos).

 

XCVI
Shops At Mission Viejo
555 The Shops At Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
(805) 953-9340

Orange County Creatives
761 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(978) 473-9658

For those of you who know and understand how important it is to be on maternity leave, don’t worry, I have been nesting and resting.  Check out my completed Hui Hui Nest.  I picked up the side table on Sunday.  It’s such a perfect fit.  I can even make chainmaille there now, because I’ve nested as much as possible and there’s nothing more to do but sit and wait.

And now we wait…

Hui.1 has been enjoying himself at least.  His new favorite thing to do while I’m working is sitting on my lap and turning my lamp on and off.  Now if only he’d stop poking beads and ring tins with the pliers like he’s trying to fork his food… but these are those precious moments that need to be treasured because before I know it, he’s going to feel like he’s too big for Mommy hugs and the like.  So I let him spill my rings everywhere and poke the beads with the pliers.

“Like sands through the hour glass…”

Jewelry Equations

 

Watermelon Tourmaline Chinese Knot Lariat in 14kt Rose Gold Filled

I’m an engineer by default, so when my brain recognizes a pattern, I translate that into the perfect jewelry equation so production takes up less time and brain power (when you’re a mom, saving brain power is awesome).  For instance, I figured out the perfect equation for making lariats.  No matter what, you use the same amount of beads and/or chainmaille bits, no ifs, ands, or buts.  Same with the chains in between because most of my lariats are basically long station necklaces.  I also just figured out the perfect equation for a new Grace Bead bracelet design for the standard wrist size of 7.5″ (my wrists are above average size, so it was a challenge).  All this uniformity makes me very happy.  Sometimes it’s nice to create order out of chaos.  Too much chaos isn’t good for anyone.

Entrepreneurship is Never Boring

I’ve been holed up in my studio working with my Grace beads.  First of all, I started designing my Fall/Winter Collection so I could get reacquainted with my Swarovski crystal.  Shifting mental gears isn’t always an easy process and a lot of the stuff I started making was looking like the Stepping Stones Collection.  Oops.  And I’m still in the midst of making knot bits to add to the Chinese Knot Collection.  It’s a never ending story, but so goes the evolution of jewelry design and being an entrepreneur (I swear, I’m never going to properly spell “entrepreneur” without my spell check.  The “e-u-r” at the end always gets me!).

I’ve also been working on taking better photos with my iPhone.  As technology keeps improving (thank you, Moore’s Law), point-and-shoot digital cameras are quickly eating the dust when it comes to camera phones.  Sad to say, but unless you have a SLR, phones rule.  The top photo was taken with my iPhone, natural lighting, and my workbench lamp.  Not bad, I have to admit.  (Side note:  My electronics professor in college was the one who developed one of the first camera phone chips at JPL.  She was an awesome professor.)  The entrepreneur wears many hats and sometimes you DO have to do everything yourself.  Self-promotion will always be the hardest, but learning a few tricks here and there along the way undoubtedly helps.

So there you have it.  I’m working on releasing a few pieces of Grace for the summer and also developing my Fall/Winter collection in an attempt to stay 6 months ahead of the game.  Yeah, then add the arrival of a newborn into that mix.  Yes, I am crazy, but I love it.  And with that, back to the studio I go!

 

Cultivating Design

Click the photo to shop!

For the beginning part of 2014, I’ve been working diligently on the Chinese Knot Collection and the Stepping Stones Collection. Let’s face it, I don’t multitask well. I get stuck in the box I’ve been in for awhile and it’s hard to get out of because I finally found a good groove and it’s finally comfortable and cozy. Make something new?? How about using different beads but the same design? That’s easy, but no, that doesn’t cut it. I wish it did but life doesn’t work that way.  The new stuff I’ve been making looks a lot like something that came out these two collections. Oops.

Now I need to break out of that “old” mindset and switch gears. I haven’t figured out how to do that just yet, but I think taking out and working with the Grace beads was the first step.  Next is probably going to be tidying up the studio, dusting off the boxes of Swarovski crystal, poking at the lonely chainmaille rings who need some love, and seeing where the muse takes me.  This is the kind of soulful designing I haven’t done since I was working on my very first Chinese Knot Lariat in Rose Gold… I think.  I got pregnant with Hui.2 and my memory has been fuzzy ever since.

Watermelon Tourmaline & 14kt Rose Gold-Filled

To properly start getting into this new mindset of design, I need to start playing my favorite renditions of Bach between Emilie Autumn’s Laced/Unlaced and Jeffery Biegel’s Bach on a Steinway.  My love of classical music began with my 6th grade teacher encouraging us to listen to all things classical.  This did not help my popularity once I started junior high since most kids my age would frown and go “Ugh!” when I listed it as one of my favorite music genres, but I was never one to follow the crowd anyway.  That still rings true today about my business and parenting methods.

Jesse.1 arrives tonight for her spring break visit, which concludes with my family’s tradition of meeting for dim sum Easter Sunday.  Saturday we’re hosting my extended family for our annual Easter Saturday cousin dinner.  We’ve never stuffed this many people into the house, so it will be interesting, to say the least.  But this Jesse.1 visit will definitely give my brain a much needed rest as I finish up all the goodies to be dropped off with Allison for photos and cultivate the next seed of Hui Hui Designs originals.

The Single Strand Necklace

I just found Cynthia Sliwa’s new blog after noticing she was MIA from her old blog on JCK Online.  This particular blog post makes me very happy about my new Stepping Stones Collection.  Cynthia is an image consultant I discovered a few years ago and she loves blogging about jewelry.  She actually helps the common folk digest the jewelry trends of the fashion world.  I’m impressed with her archive of old photos from old fashion magazines and how up-to-date she is on the current ones.  It’s not easy trying to assimilate such a wealth of information and shiny photos.

The necklace pictured above is a perfect example of this single strand necklace phenomenon and I’m currently marketing it as a statement necklace instead of a full-blown collection since most of the stones utilized are too soft or delicate for bracelets and sometimes you don’t need a matching pair of earrings.  With that said, I think I’ll dig through my stones and find some that are suitable for a new statement necklace like this one.