Keeping Busy

Hui.1 is officially 2

I officially have a 2 year old.  Eee gads.  

Labor Day has officially come and gone, along with the summer, but the lingering heat waves are still upon us until at least mid-October.  The cool, overcast mornings remind me of my days trekking back to Cal Poly Pomona for the start of the new calendar school year.  I haven’t stepped foot in an academic classroom in over 8 years, but the notion of the sun burning through the cloud cover mid-morning is permanently ingrained in my memory.  This weekend is supposed to hit the high 90’s, even in Orange County.  Despite the heat, I love this time of year.  It’s like hitting a metaphoric “reset” button and the seasons actually start changing.  This fashionista is ready for light sweater and hoodie weather so I can don my Doc Martens and go stomping around with the kids in tow.  Yes, I am the cool Mom who tries to make an effort to look like I didn’t just roll out of bed.

One of my bestsellers

On the jewelry end of things, the Laguna gallery is doing well.  I just dropped more traditional chainmaille bracelets and I need to get working on more re-stocks for the items that have already sold.  My best seller has been the tri-colored graduated necklace and earrings.  Nice to know one of my favorite earring designs is doing so well.  I just added some new inventory to XCVI Fashion Island and I’m planning to drop off a new style Rock on a Rope to XCVI Mission Viejo this weekend.  Both XCVI shops have said that larger focal point necklaces have been their bestsellers, so I’m testing the waters with a giant Rock on a Rope.  The beauty of this new design is that it can be worn long to compliment the fall season’s sweaters and tunics, but can also be worn short when desired.  The stone is large because it has to carry it’s own weight and stand out when worn long.  The biggest I have so far are 40mm fire agate coin shaped beads.  All the beads I found for this test project are perfect for the warmer fall tones.  XCVI Fashion Island has me tentatively scheduled for a trunk show in mid-October and XCVI Mission Viejo’s should be in early November.  Exciting, but also means I need to get my butt into gear about inventory.  It shouldn’t be too bad with Hui.2 getting bigger and not needing me to hold him all day long.  I also have some new ideas for streamlining production as well as chores around the house that I’ve been slowly implementing with great success.  So there is hope and motivation to get everything together and smoothly.  Let’s see how this goes.

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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.

The Station Necklace

Moss Agate Lariat ~ Example of a Station Necklace

It was exciting when I found Cynthia Sliwa’s new blog.  I’ve been following her for years, but that fell to the wayside after getting married and having babies.  I noticed she had stopped posting on her usual website so a few months ago I decided to Google her and discovered she had her own website and blog now.  Score!

This post about station necklaces really stood out to me.  My favorite lariat from the Chinese Knot Collection definitely falls under the station necklace category and in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to make shorter necklaces in that style.  I remember attempting to design similar style necklaces back in the day (2003-4?), but because my technical skills weren’t up to par, it never turned out just right.  I haven’t touched the idea until I came up with the lariat design during the later part of 2013.  I finally had the resources to do it right and I did.  Lariats were also something I’ve always wanted to make, but never got right until now.  As I mentioned in my post about jewelry equations, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect materials and length of chain.

The Chinese Knot Collection has really changed my perspective on design and how to seriously mix-and-match pieces within a collection.  As much as I prefer being eccentric, sometimes a little bit of order amongst the chaos is a great change in pace.  I really did “ascend” as an artist after I released that collection and even to this day, a several months later, I’m still in awe of it all.  Of course, I have to give credit to Allison for all her poking and prodding, or else it would have stayed in my subconscious a lot longer than it did.  Sometimes you need that push to get the momentum going and I’m thankful for the big shove she provided.

Last month, during my “hey, I have time to play with new designs” period (unfortunately short-lived), I started poking at designing a shorter version of the lariat.  At first, I started with a larger focal knot, accompanied by alternating stones and smaller knots, but that didn’t look right.  After tearing that version apart and starting from scratch, I finally figured out the perfect equation for both a necklace and a bracelet.  Once I finish the big chainmaille project I’m working on, these new additions will be my first priority.  One of the prototype necklaces went to the Laguna Gallery during my big jewelry drop-off day and just sold the other day.  Definitely more incentive to get that big chainmaille project finished so I can work on making a pretty pile of jewelry… assuming baby gives me another few days before his arrival.  He’s been pretty stubborn about coming out, but since I hit 40 weeks tomorrow, it really is any day now.

Station Necklace in action

Holidays 2013

The Laguna Beach gallery sold this necklace last week.  I’m really excited at the prospects of the future with this gallery.  It’s called Orange County Creatives and I’ve linked a Google Map to it for any locals who would like to check it out.  The owners are also excited about their future because they’ve only been open since the beginning of November and it’s been going well so far.  They’ve joined the Art Walk Association so they’ll be getting a trolley stop at the January 2nd and all future Art Walks.  Tourist and wedding season should spice things up a bit as they get in contact with the surrounding hotel concierges.

I’m really looking forward to where this venture ends up going.  One of the owners told me the straight up chainmaille and the chainmaille with my favorite glass beads get the most attention.  That makes me happy and scratches the itch to do nothing but make beautiful chains.  Now that we have a TV, I just need to find a good lap tray to do just that.

I also sold these earrings while I was there on Saturday doing a live artist demo.  A lovely Beaumont couple was spending the day on the coast and the wife was very happy to know I knew where Beaumont is.  These earrings are certainly my favorite pair ever.  It’s a perfect blend of 3 metals and 3 different sizes of barrels.  Perfect for everyday wear, dressing up and dressing down.  I need to make a whole bunch more of these just to keep them in stock.  And keep a pair for myself.

Allison and I got a ton of stuff done last week, so I can somewhat enjoy the holidays that are coming up.  I have a few projects to work on and get to her soonish, but it’s nice to cross off most of the things on the to-do list.  2014 is going to be an exciting year and I hope I can keep up with it all.  I haven’t checked in on XCVI, but I’ll wait until after Christmas.  Hopefully all goes well.  I need to start cranking out more jewelry to restock when needed.  Yup, lots to do and lots to be thankful for.  I’ll do a yearly recap before New Years.